Tuesday, January 16, 2024

Random Encounters by Stephen Crane

    Stephen Crane was an odd duck. A well-beloved writer, poet and Darwinist, you can read about him on Wikipedia as easily as I did; and his poems are all in the public domain. It tickles me pink to read about how he wrote poems along the lines of "If G_d is real, He will have to answer to me!" and the reviewers of the nineties (the eighteen nineties) all said "this would have been pretty edgy 20 years ago, but now it's a little trite." Time is a flat circle.
    Among the things Crane wrote are a few poems that are personally dear to me. These poems are short, very short, often only eight or ten lines. A great work of art is probably going to have several "themes" and "motifs" and what-have-you. Novels have complex characters, plays have meaningful scenes, poems have multiple interpretations of their verses. Crane's short lines contain no such fripperies, no unneeded details or names or characters or scene-setting or timelines, nothing but the dramatic significance. They're a flash of insight, just a taste of a Theme that could itself take a thousand forms in a thousand other works. Because of this, they're also easily-metabolized seeds of pure inspiration. Each one could be a random encounter on the road, a faction in your setting, the conflict of a character, or a hex (if you're doing Hex24 as I and Velvet Ink are).

    N.B. like most were historically, these poems were written to be read aloud. Do so. Roll the words around in your mouth; why did the author choose these and not some other?


Source: Francis C. Franklin.

    P.S. I started out by writing down almost every one of Crane's short poems, but I had to cut for time. For each poem that made it, there are two more you can read online right now. These that I kept are the poems I think any DM ought to make something out of immediately, practically read-aloud text with no further alterations already. Imagine an old coot at a tavern speaking these words to the party, as he nurses his mug of cheap beer.

  1. Black Riders came from the sea.
    There was clang and clang of spear and shield,
    And clash and clash of hoof and heel,
    Wild shouts and the wave of hair
    In the rush upon the wind:
    Thus the ride of Sin.
  2. I saw a man pursuing the horizon;
    Round and round they sped.
    I was disturbed at this;
    I accosted the man.
    "It is futile," I said,
    "You can never —"

    "You lie," he cried,
    And ran on.
  3. There was a great cathedral.
    To solemn songs,
    A white procession
    Moved toward the altar.
    The chief man there
    Was erect, and bore himself proudly.
    Yet some could see him cringe,
    As in a place of danger,
    Throwing frightened glances into the air,
    A-start at threatening faces of the past.
  4. In the desert
    I saw a creature, naked, bestial,
    Who, squatting upon the ground,
    Held his heart in his hands,
    And ate of it.
    I said, "Is it good, friend?"
    "It is bitter — bitter," he answered;

    "But I like it
    "Because it is bitter,
    "And because it is my heart."
  5. Behold, the grave of a wicked man,
    And near it, a stern spirit.
    There came a drooping maid with violets,
    But the spirit grasped her arm.
    "No flowers for him," he said.
    The maid wept:
    "Ah, I loved him."
    But the spirit, grim and frowning:
    "No flowers for him."

    Now, this is it —
    If the spirit was just,
    Why did the maid weep?
  6. "Think as I think," said a man,
    "Or you are abominably wicked;
    "You are a toad."

    And after I had thought of it,
    I said, "I will, then, be a toad."
  7. I met a seer.
    He held in his hands
    The book of wisdom.
    "Sir," I addressed him,
    "Let me read."
    "Child—" he began.
    "Sir," I said,
    "Think not that I am a child,"
    "For already I know much
    "Of that which you hold,
    "Aye, much."

    He smiled.
    Then he opened the book,
    And held it before me.
    Strange that I should have grown so suddenly blind.
  8. I stood upon a high place,
    And saw, below, many devils
    Running, leaping,
    And carousing in sin.
    One looked up, grinning,
    And said, "Comrade! Brother!"
  9. Many workmen
    Built a huge ball of masonry
    Upon a mountain-top.
    Then they went to the valley below,
    And turned to behold their work.
    "It is grand," they said;
    They loved the thing.

    Of a sudden, it moved:
    It came upon them swiftly;
    It crushed them all to blood;
    But some of them had the opportunity to squeal.
  10. On the horizon the peaks assembled;
    And as I looked,
    The march of the mountains began.
    As they marched, they sang,
    "Aye! We come! We come!"
  11. Friend, your white beard sweeps the ground,
    Why do you stand, expectant?
    Do you hope to see it
    In one of your withered days?
    With your old eyes
    Do you hope to see
    The triumphal march of Justice?
    Do not wait, friend
    Take your white beard
    And your old eyes
    To more tender lands.
  12. He was a brave heart.
    Would you speak with him, friend?
    Well, he is dead,
    And there went your opportunity.
    Let it be your grief
    That he is dead
    And your opportunity gone;
    For, in that, you were a coward.
  13. The ocean said to me once,
    "Look!
    "Yonder on the shore
    "Is a woman, weeping.
    "I have watched her.
    "Go you and tell her this —
    "Her lover I have laid
    "In cool green hall.
    "There is wealth of golden sand
    "And pillars, coral-red;
    "Two white fish stand guard at his bier."

    "Tell her this
    "And more —
    "That the king of the seas
    "Weeps too, old, helpless man.
    "The bustling fates
    "Heap his hands with corpses
    "Until he stands like a child,
    "With surplus of toys."
  14. Three little birds in a row
    Sat musing.
    A man passed near that place.
    Then did the little birds nudge each other.
    They said, "He thinks he can sing."
    They threw back their heads to laugh,
    With quaint countenances
    They regarded him.
    They were very curious,
    Those three little birds in a row.
  15. Bands of moving bronze, emerald, yellow,
    Circle the throat and arms of her,
    And over the sands serpents move warily
    Slow, menacing and submissive,
    Swinging to the whistles and drums,
    The whispering, whispering snakes,
    Dreaming and swaying and staring,
    But always whispering, softly whispering.
    The dignity of the accursed;
    The glory of slavery, despair, death,
    Is in the dance of the whispering snakes.
  16. There was one I met upon the road
    Who looked at me with kind eyes.
    He said: "Show me of your wares."
    And I did,
    Holding forth one,
    He said: "It is a sin."
    Then I held forth another.
    He said: "It is a sin."
    Then I held forth another.
    He said: "It is a sin."
    And so to the end.
    Always he said: "It is a sin."
    At last, I cried out:
    "But I have none other."
    He looked at me
    With kinder eyes.
    "Poor soul," he said.

    Bonus G. K. Chesterton prophecies and doom-saying:
  1. Deep grows the hate of kindred,
        Its roots take hold on Hell;
    No peace or praise can heal it,
        But a stranger heals it well.
    Seas shall be red as sunsets,
        And kings' bones float as foam,
    And heaven be dark with vultures,
        The night our son comes home.
  2. He reared his head, shaggy and grim,
    Staring among the cherubim;
    The seven celestial floors he rent,
    One crystal dome still o'er him bent:
    Above his head, more clear than hope,
    All heaven was a microscope.
  3. We came behind him by the wall,
        My brethren drew their brands,
    And they had strength to strike him down —
        And I to bind his hands.

    Only once, to a lantern gleam,
        He turned his face from the wall,
    And it was as the accusing angel's face
        On the day when the stars shall fall.

    I grasped the axe with shaking hands,
        I stared at the grass I trod;
    For I feared to see the whole bare heavens
        Filled with the face of G_d.

    Therefore I toil in forests here
        And pile the wood in stacks,
    And take no fee from the shivering folk
        Till I have cleansed the axe.

    But, for a curse, G_d cleared my sight,
        And where each tree doth grow
    I see a life with awful eyes,
        And I must lay it low.

Thursday, January 11, 2024

Everybody Brings His Own Fire (GLOG Class: Mesmerist Pathfinder Conversion)

    "All schizophrenics are mad, and none are sane. Their behavior is incomprehensible. It tells us nothing about life and gives no insight into the human condition. There's nothing profound about it. Schizophrenics aren't clever or wise or witty — they make novel remarks, but that's because they are mad. When they laugh at things the rest of us don't, like the death of a parent, they're not being penetrating. They're not wryly amused at the simplicity and stupidity of the psychiatrist, however well justified that might be in many cases. They're laughing because they're too mad to tell what's funny any more. The rewards for being sane may not be very many — but knowing what's funny is one of them."
        - unknown source

    This is the second of my Pathfinder conversions, which I suppose I've been doing in addition to the D&D 5e posts. The Mesmerist is a strange fellow, somewhere between a Gygaxian illusionist and a creature from a nightmare. I like the idea of someone who... well, there's this common delusion, that the eyes of others aren't simple receivers but are somehow transmitting, that it's not enough to close your eyes, to not see its face, but that you must somehow close the eyes of the Basilisk. There's a man out there on the internet who doesn't believe that eyes "see light". He thinks light is projected out of the eyes. He's already answered your common objections, I'm afraid. There's nothing left to do but believe him.
    The idea that it's the being perceived, not the perception, that harms you, it's a bit alarming to me. "Not what goes into the mouth of a man, but what comes out of the mouth", and so forth. Goodnight, goodnight. Full credit to Eos at Nobless Goblige, who invented not only this class but also the d20 system and by extension all of Pathfinder.


Source: Absolute Reality, Joan Miro

Class: Mesmerist


    You are a huckster, a charlatan, a lunatic. You're a cold-reading liar, a soul-killed "psychic" who combines childish trickery with overconfidence with emotional abuse to achieve your wildest dreams. Those white-irised eyes have seen things that should have destroyed you, and have certainly damned you. Now that haunted gaze sees the sorts of things that make people think you're clever. Haven't you read The Snow Queen? You fools think cruelty is a gas, and that hardheadedness is the surest sign of wisdom. I tell you, I don't care how many screams you hear, I don't care how many anguished cries: death is a million times preferable to ten more days of this life. If you knew what was ahead of you — if you knew what was ahead of you, you'd be glad to be stepping over tonight.

    If you have at least one template of Mesmerist, you may wear light armor, and never fumble while using knives, clubs or staves. You gain +1 to reactions on odd-numbered levels, and inflict a +1 penalty to enemy morale rolls for every even-numbered level. The spells of the Orthodox Wizard count as being from your school.

Skills: 1. Bullying 2. Mechanical convection incubators 3. Addiction
Starting Equipment: Cheap suit (as unarmored), flask of holy water (3 doses), flask of fire water (3 doses), spellbook.
  • A Stare, +1 MD, roll for a spell
  • B Suggestion, Mind Palace
  • C Eyelights, +1 MD
  • D Domination,
Stare
    At will, you may stare at any intelligent creature you can see. The target is befuddled, and you may force them to suffer a penalty to any save you see them make equal to your [level]. This penalty is doubled for saves v. mind-altering effects. Once per round you may befuddle them such that they take an additional [level] points of damage from a melee attack. Finally, choose one stare improvement from the list below the class features.
    Targets never realize that you are staring at them, and do not remember afterwards. While staring you are not required to maintain unbroken eye contact — you may blink, or briefly glance away to find your footing or pick up an object — but you cannot read a text, scrutinize the workings of a trap, or do anything else that would require significant visual attention. The stare ends when you choose to look away or the target moves out of view for more than a moment. You can only stare at one target at a time, though any number of Mesmerists may stare at the same target.

Implant Suggestion
    You may implant powerful hypnotic suggestions in the minds of friends and allies, and enemies as well if preparation is taken. To do this, you need to first develop the suggestion inside your Mind Palace, and keep it prepared there. You may keep as many suggestions prepared as you have [levels].
    To implant a suggestion you must make direct skin-to-skin contact with the target — a handshake is plenty, though a fatherly pat on the head, or a steady hand on the shoulder that ju-uu-ust brushes the neck with a pinkie or the collarbone with a thumb, will do just as well in different circumstances.
    When you implant a suggestion, it's gone and cannot be reused unless prepared again. You may only have one of your suggestions implanted in a creature at one time, but you may have any number of them extant.
Mind Palace
    When dreaming, drunk, high or otherwise in an altered state, you may project your mind into a construction contained within itself. This construction bears a stark resemblance to an old and comfortable country house, with creaky floorboards, narrow and crooked stairs, ugly paintings on the walls depicting yourself in various costumes, a quiet and somewhat dusty library containing every book you've ever read, a kennel containing your prepared spells, a study where you may prepare suggestions, a hall of statues and mirrors, a dining room set for a feast, and a grand atrium in the center which looks up at a black and starless sky. This is your Mind Palace, made just for you. It's quite empty — not the emptiness of abandonment, or of the open grave, but of anticipation, as if the whole place is holding its breath waiting for the honored guests.
    In the Palace, you may consider your schemes and plans, develop suggestions, prepare spells, read your books, or walk among your collections. The mind may move as the body rests. You can bring willing people to the Palace as guests by sleeping next to them, getting drunk from the same wine, high from the same chemic, etc.

Eyelights
    Study, training and introspection has made your gaze more palpable. Choose three stare improvements now.

Domination
    Your mind is as pure and clean as formaldehyde. Even the fools who once doubted you can't deny that for much longer. Gain the CR3 trigger When I next hear you speak and the CR5 effect , I will unflinchingly obey the next simple command I am given. immediately.
    When you and an NPC are off-screen together for more than an hour, you can declare that they have become your thrall. Your thralls behave normally, except they treat your opinion as their opinion, act on your suggestions as they would on their own ideas, and become very offended if someone suggests something negative about your character.
    Maintaining this level of constant control over someone is exhausting. You suffer a -1 penalty to all checks per thrall you control, and you lose at least as many inventory slots as they have HD (plus however many more if their nature is draconic or divine or so forth. DM's call). You may wish to invest in a nice walking stick.
    You may release a thrall at-will, and they will not recall the experience as being out of the ordinary, though it will take you at least a month to recover your vitality. Your thralls are not released upon your death.


Stare Improvements
  • Alluring. Target finds you fascinating, and suffers penalty to initiative checks.
  • Deceiving. Target's ability to detect falsehood fails them. They cannot pierce illusions, and they must save to disbelieve any lie not immediately disproven (no "the sky is green").
  • Disorienting. Target finds their own vision beginning to flash and darken, and suffers the penalty to to-hit rolls.
  • Disquieting. Target becomes oddly frightened, and must pass a morale check to enter darkness or deep water.
  • Oscillating. Target's vision swims, and they perceive only vague movement and colors past 30'.
  • Sapping. Target feels their supernatural abilities weaken, and suffers the penalty to [sum].
  • Stupefying. Target's hands grow clumsy, and they suffer the penalty to skill rolls.
  • Binding. Target's soul grows heavy, and they suffer the penalty to attempts to escape.
  • Dismissing. Target feels uncomfortable and has a desire to leave the situation.
  • Dying. Target knows they are doomed, and the penalty is added to all damage inflicted on them.

Developing Suggestions
    A suggestion has two components: the trigger and the effect. Learning new triggers/effects is one of the essential parts of becoming a more capable Mesmerist. Mesmerists may share any triggers/effects they know by visiting each others' Mind Palaces, and you will likely discover or invent more of them in play.
    Some more complicated triggers/effects require more knowledge of the target's mental state and so have an associated cold-reading number. To implant a suggestion with a CR, you must know at least that many interesting facts about the target. "Interesting facts" are interesting to the target: names of parents, names of children, place of birth, date of birth, significant regrets, major hobbies, occupations, details of love-life — in short, the sort of thing they would be delighted to hear a fortune-teller guess about them.
    Preparing a suggestion takes one hour, plus one hour per CR.

Example Triggers:
  1. When I next roll a save against a spell
  2. When I next experience a mind-altering effect
  3. When I next make eye contact with you
  4. When I next am in darkness
  5. CR1: When I next enter combat
  6. CR1: When I next become angry
  7. CR3: When I become angry
  8. CR1: When I next roll to use a skill
  9. CR3: When I roll to use a skill
Example Effects:
  1. , I will experience agony for one round.
  2. , I will add your [level] to the result.
  3. , my legs will go limp for one round.
  4. , you will be able to see through my eyes for 1 minute per your [level].
  5. CR1: , I and every intelligent creature within 30' will suddenly perceive you as being present.
  6. CR1: , my face will contort into a hideous and demonic mask, forcing saves vs. fear from all creatures unprepared for this.
  7. CR1: , I will gain 1d6 plus your [level] temporary HP.
  8. CR2: , I will enter a violent rage.
  9. CR3: , I will begin to levitate, gaining the ability to float at walking speed in any direction for one minute.

Mesmerist Spells:
  1. Unwitting Ally
    R: sight T: [dice] creatures D: [sum] rounds
    Caster's stare inflicts paranoia and confusion. Each target saves individually; those who fail become unusually aggressive and lose the ability to distinguish friend from foe. For the purposes of spells, abilities, flanking and backstabbing, &c, affected creatures are no one's "ally", everyone's "enemy", and never "willing".
    Affected creatures are still capable of tactical thinking and, perceiving themselves to be surrounded by enemies, will prefer to retreat. If trapped in close proximity to other creatures they will fight desperately to escape.
  2. Animate Rope
    R: touch T: a length of flexible cord, rope or chain no more than [sum]*10' long D: until dispelled
    Target rope lives. It is obedient to the caster's spoken commands, can climb as well as a large python, can stand half its length tall and pull itself up by one end, can knot or unknot itself, and doesn't mind being climbed. When not moving the animated rope is indistinguishable from normal rope, unless in very close proximity to fire, in which case it flinches.
    If cut, the longer piece is the animated rope until reduced below 5' in length.
    Animated rope can't tell people other than its caster apart, can't perceive anything except touch and its master's voice, doesn't understand that other creatures have senses other than touch, can't remember more than [dice] words outside of its caster's presence and is, of course, terrified of fire. Besides these restrictions it is an exceedingly dangerous assassin.
  3. Bungle
    R: touch T: a creature D: [dice] checks or attacks
    Target takes a -[sum] penalty to all checks or to-hit rolls, no save.
  4. Color Spray
    R: projected from self T: a 15' cone D: instant
    A burst of violent color erupts from the caster's fingertips. Creatures in the target cone save or are stunned for a round, falling prone and dropping any held items, then save again or suffer disadvantage on any sight-based checks for [best] rounds. Those with no sense of sight are immune to this spell. Creatures with more than [dice] HD are not stunned. If cast with more than 1MD,  creatures with 1 HD or fewer don't get to save.
  5. Fool's Gold
    R: touch T: [sum] coins, pieces of jewelry or other tiny valuables D: n/a
    Caster lays a curse on target valuables. Creatures receive a penalty to saves v. hostile magic equal to the number of these valuables they have accepted from the caster as payment for goods and services. Valuables given as a gift have no effect, nor do valuables slipped into a pocket against the pants-wearer's knowledge, though the caster may tip outrageously. This effect lasts as long as they keep the objects in their possession: creatures do not need to actually carry the valuables on their person for the effect to occur. Effect ends when target valuables are passed on to a third party.
  6. Blistering Invective
    R: voice T: creatures capable of understanding your tone, if not your words D: instant
    Caster utters a stream of foul language so obscene, menacing and blasphemous that those who hear it who have any reason to suspect it might be directed at them are physically harmed. All such creatures check morale: those who fail flee, and must also save or take [best] damage and be set on fire. Creatures immune to fire must still check morale, but creatures who cannot be intimidated are unaffected by this spell.

Wednesday, December 27, 2023

A GLOG Grimoire

    There are a number of spells I've written which have no wizard to accompany them as yet. I've decided to write them down, so that someone might get some use out of them regardless. Friend-of-the-blog Phlox has done this and so spurred my decision.

    General notes: these are spells for the GLOG, Arnold Kemp's (pbuh) fantasy heartbreaker. They operate on Magic Dice. Unless specified otherwise, assume that:
  • if a spell targets a creature/object/point within range that target must be visible to the caster along an unobstructed path
  • a cone is 60° and so is 10' wide 10' away from the caster, 30' wide 30' from the caster, and so forth
  • beams and rays with a provided length but no provided width are about the thickness of a pencil
  • a 10' sphere has a radius of 10', a 20' sphere a radius of 20', and so forth
  • a 10' cube has an edge-length of 10', a 20' cube an edge-length of 20', and so forth
  • spells which apply a condition to creatures provide them a save at casting time and otherwise continue for the duration
  • spells with an indefinite duration keep the MD invested in them until they are ended by other means
  • you should ask your DM about any specifics, which will vary by campaign

Spells

  1. Death Glow
    R: touch T: an object or creature D: [sum] minutes
    The target glows with an unhealthful light for the duration. Unembodied undead are unceremoniously pushed 30' from the target. Embodied undead make a morale check with a [dice] penalty when they first see this light, even if they normally can't make morale checks. In this light, all failed checks are fumbles and all successful ones are critical. Creatures whose unprotected skin is exposed to this light (and the target, if it be a creature) must save every minute of total exposure or take [dice] damage to a random stat.
  2. Vorpal Air
    R: n/a T[dice]*20' cone, originating from caster D: instant
    The caster points a finger and utters a word of power, and a cone of vorpal air bursts forth. Creatures and objects within the cone save or take [sum] damage as if struck by many invisible blades from all directions. At 2MD, creatures are only permitted to save if their armor is at least leather and flimsy objects and structures are hacked apart, at 3MD creatures only save if wearing at least chain and objects softer than stone are shredded, at 4MD creatures must have at least plate and any non-metallic object is chopped to bits.
  3. Predator
    R: n/a T: self D: [dice] rounds
    Caster is rendered invisible for the duration, and can move [dice] times again as fast. They can deal [sum] magical damage with a touch (roll to-hit vs. unarmored if in combat), no save. This is extremely frightening.
  4. Summon Cosmic Crocodilian
    R: 20' T: an area large enough for a bigass crocodile D: indefinite
    A cosmic crocodilian (a type of Outsider) appears in the target area. It is not grateful, and it is not obedient. It weighs [dice] tonnes, has AC as plate and [sum]*2 HP, and its jaws are a massive weapon which automatically grapple those it strikes.
    Like all crocodiles, the cosmic crocodilian can perform a Death Roll to force a creature caught in its jaws to save or die. Unlike most crocodiles, a cosmic crocodilian has 18 intelligence, 2MD, and knows the spells Haste, Mummify Bird, Turn Hippopotamus (works at -1 [dice] against other horses) and Summon Cosmic Crocodilian.
  5. Cone of Collapse
    R: n/a T: [dice]*20' cone, originating from caster D: one round
    All creatures, objects, buildings, landscapes and materials in the targeted area, including air, briefly experience a significantly increased F­Łô░, the force due to gravity. Effects are highly variable, but assume that delicate objects are destroyed, flying objects fall and creatures human-size or larger must check strength or drop to their knees. If [sum] is 7 or greater, not-particularly-reinforced buildings will be damaged or destroyed, and mundane creatures horse-sized or larger are killed. If [sum] is 14 or greater most structures, including natural stone, will collapse and human-sized bodies will suffer massive structural damage and organ failure: affected creatures die, or check constitution to merely take [sum] damage. If sum is 21 or greater every living creature larger than an ant within the cone dies with no save, all matter within the cone is aggressively crushed, and there is a large negative-pressure effect for the duration followed by a thunderclap and moderate explosion when the spell ends.
  6. Summon Mobat
    R: 60' T: a volume large enough for [sum] vultures D: [dice] hours
    Target volume is filled with [sum] mobats. The common mobat (Pteropodidae Mobatti parbatti) has 4HP, AC as leather, and is significantly less intelligent than even a very stupid person. They will follow one-word commands from the caster to the best of their ability. These abilities include flying around frantically, screaming, shitting, attempting to eat strongly-scented objects, and crashing into things. Those bitten by a mobat must save vs. disease or contract leprosy. The bats disappear at the end of the duration unless killed, in which case they leave behind a corpse (mostly cartilage) which can be unwisely cooked into 3 rations of delicious soup.
  7. Polarized Shield
    R: self T: n/a D: [sum] minutes
    The caster is surrounded by a 20' spherical shroud of impenetrable darkness, with enough interior space to contain [dice] creatures if they're willing to get comfortable. This shroud is invisible along a single axis in 3d space that passes through the caster's head, which the caster can pitch and yaw as they please. From all other angles, the shroud foils scrying, infravision and all other forms of detection. Because it blocks vision and cannot itself be targeted by spells, and most combat spells cannot "pierce" the shroud and conventional countermagic cannot dispel it.
  8. Woundweep
    R: 30' T: an injured creature D: instant
    Target saves or takes as much damage as they are already missing from their max HP (e.g. a creature at 6/9 hitpoints is now at 3/9 hitpoints). This process is excruciating. The damage cannot directly kill the target, but if it reduces them to 0 hitpoints they must check constitution or fall unconscious from the pain, and if they have sustained any injuries they must also check constitution or suffer that injury a second time.
  9. Summon Planetar
    R: touch T: a constructed body worth at least 100gp per [die] D: 24 hours
    The caster performs a long and difficult ritual for the duration of the spell. If they cease repeating a long and complex mantra or break contact with the constructed body the spell fails and all MD are lost. Traditionally they are assisted by multiple apprentices, who may sing songs to keep them awake, physically hold them up, or grab their arms to keep their hands in contact with the constructed body.
    If the ritual is successful then the constructed body is occupied by a Planetar, a powerful force of Good from distant realms (stats to be found in any respectable MM). They are not in any way obligated to obey you. It's traditional for the apprentices to greet the Planetar with songs of rejoicing. Just as traditional is for one of them to reveal he's been Evil the whole time, murder the caster and the other apprentices, and enslave the Planetar to his dark will.
  10. Crown of Vengeance
    R: touch T: a creature D: [sum] minutes
    Target's head is illuminated by a halo of golden light. For the duration, the receive a [dice] bonus to AC and to-hit. Creatures who know they have wronged the target must save each round they can see the halo; on a failure, they cannot move from their place. Creatures struck by the target who have not wronged the target may save; if they succeed, the Crown is passed to them.
  11. Tomb Rune
    R: n/a T: the caster's hand D: [sum] hours
    A mysterious, shifting rune appears on the palm of the caster's dominant hand. When the hand is extended before them like a shield for an entire round, it projects dazzling sunlight that deals [best] damage each round to undead, creatures from other planes and magical constructs, no save. When the hand is closed above their head like a fist for an entire round, they are protected by a magical forcefield that grants them a [dice] bonus to AC, imposes disadvantage on ranged attacks against them, and gives them advantage on all saves. The spell ends immediately if the caster uses the run├Ęd hand to grasp an object or if the hand is severed.
  12. Curse of the Dark Eye
    R: 120' T: a creature within range D: [sum] weeks
    Target creature is afflicted with wild spirits of Tigerdom and Chaos. They must make a reaction check against every person they meet, with a [dice] penalty. If they wish to speak, they must save per sentence or have the words replaced by animalistic growls. If they wish to clothe themselves, they must save at dawn or be unable to do so that day. Any respectable cleric or Wise One recognizes this curse and can mix up a remedy that can reduce the remaining duration, though of course the afflicted target may have a negative reaction to their presence. 
  13. Death Ray
    R: sight T: any point in range D: [dice] rounds
    A ray of raw magical power projects from the caster's hand towards the target point. It cuts through wood and earth at 10' a round, stone or brick 5' a round, and solid metal 1' a round. Unarmored creatures caught in the ray suffer [sum] damage, armored creatures may save to throw themselves out of the way before their armor melts. Their armor is obliterated in any case, and creatures who are killed by the ray disintegrate into ash. At two [dice] the ray cuts at double speed and creatures wearing only leather are not permitted a save, and so on and so forth for three and four [dice].
  14. Horizon Blade
    R: touch T: a pre-prepared magical fetish worth at least 10gp per [die] invested D: [sum] rounds
    Upon casting, a portal to the Astral Plane opens 3' long and 1" wide. One end of the portal is attached to the fetish, allowing it to be manipulated like a sword's grip. The outside edge of the portal rapidly shreds matter it comes into contact with, cutting through 10' of wood or 1' of stone per round if used as a saw. If used as a sword, it is a medium weapon +[dice].
  15. Secret Beige
    R: 5' T: waterproof vessel to contain [dice] quarts  D: indefinite
    Target vessel is filled with a supernatural paint whose quality varies with [dice]. At one [die], the paint renders a coated object or surface extremely dull and boring. Inattentive bystanders will assume the object has some sort of municipal purpose and isn't worth much money. At two [dice], the object or surface is actively uncool. Creatures without a definite reason to carry or associate with the object or surface will avoid it. At three [dice], painted object or surface is eminently forgettable. Even after having it pointed out, creatures will be generally unaware of the object or surface, and will unconsciously step around it or treat it as an impassable barrier.
    Three [dice] is the last practically useful level of this spell, partly because the caster is at risk of succumbing to the effects, but mostly because a four [dice] Secret Beige is totally useless. It cannot be, and has never been recorded to have been, applied to an object or surface. Stick to three.  
  16. Torturous Inspirations
    R: same plane T: intelligent creature whose body parts (hair, blood, nails &c) you are touching D: indefinite
    Target creature is afflicted with horrible visions in the labyrinth of dreaming. Each morning they wake they must save. Upon failing the save, they are obligated to obtain 20gp of materials by any means necessary, and spend the day converting them into an artistic piece with a value depending on their personal skill. Details of the piece varies according to their inclination, and with multiple failed saves they may continue on the same piece or create multiple. Upon passing the save they are under no obligation to continue their piece or pieces, but may anyway. After [dice] successful saves the effect ends.
  17. Abducting Buzz
    R: 30' T: a visible creature with fewer than [dice] HD D: [dice] hours.
    Target creature is borne aloft by a swarm of invisible insects and carted off to the Plane of Morgellons for the duration. They return safely to the place they left, horrified but unharmed. If the place they left is no longer safe (from the bugs' perspective), they are returned to the nearest field of flowers (however far away that might be). If [dice] is 4 or higher, the target returns after a year and a day, and is likely permanently mentally scarred.
  18. Summon Chitin Predator
    R: 30' T: an unoccupied space large enough for a bigass dog D: [dice] hours
    A Chitin Predator is summoned to target area. It resembles a dog-sized antlion with AC as chain, [sum] hitpoints and a single heavy bite with a [dice] bonus to-hit. It is hostile to any people you consider your enemies, and not initially hostile to you or your allies For each [die] invested in this spell, choose an additional bonus for your antlion:
    • Can fly at 60' per round
    • AC as plate
    • Gains two additional medium claw attacks
    • Gains a sting attack, save v. paralysis
    • Camouflageable exoskeleton, granting near-invisibility when not moving
    • Can be dismissed at will



Hotrod Spells


    At the end of Nick Whelan's 2016 post of an example 100 words for the Magic Words system (which, incidentally, engendered the creation of this blog and its first now-depublished posts), he offers a series of 10 names. These are the names of historical figures (including Hitler, George Washington and Cleopatra) but the reader is instructed to use the names of well-known wizards of their own setting.

    "D&D has a long tradition of big-name casters like Tenser who live on through the spells that bear their name. I like this idea! So in the Magic Word system, using a specific wizard’s name as part of the spell you’re crafting means that what you’re actually doing is uncovering a spell first created by some long dead master of the arcane arts. And when the referee is writing up the spell, they can draw on that caster’s history and talent when determining the spell’s effects."

    Variations on this idea have haunted me for years. Importantly, in the GLOG, wizards often get two abilities — the first, the ability to "breed" spells together, producing novel mutants, and the second to designate one spell as their "favorite" or "signature" and receive bonuses.

    I forget why I started writing these paragraphs. That's happening more and more, recently. Anyway, here's a list of basic spells, and custom versions developed by famous dangerous wizards.

Source: Grimoire ensorcele by naiiade


Magic Missile


    One of the "classic spells", those developed by wizard-kings of eons past. You know them well; it seems like there's little point in me bothering to name them. Fly, the final rejection of the physical order. Charm Person, which made slaves. Protection from Evil and Good. Contact Higher Plane. Detect Invisible. Many more besides. Magic Missile in its basic form is incredibly simple, just a combination of object-location (to find its target), foresight (to circumvent defenses), and a powerful jolt of sidereal force. A wit might say that to have its own version of Magic Missile is a feature both absolutely necessary and absolutely sufficient for a Wizard School. Once you have that, you have a school.
    Archmages, or those who wish to be considered magical savants, love to hotrod the Magic Missile. A few examples are provided below.

Magic Missile
R: 200' T: up to [dice] creatures D: instant
[dice] magical projectiles fly from the caster's fingertips and strike their targets unerringly. Each deals damage equal to the face of the respective [die]. Targets may not dodge, save or otherwise avoid the magic missiles, unless they have a magical shield, which blocks all damage from this spell.

Blackfly's Magic Missile
R: 200' T: up to [sum]+1 creatures D: instant
[sum] minuscule magical projectiles, plus one queen, fly from the caster's fingertips and strike their targets unerringly. Each deals 1 damage. The target who was struck by the queen is infested with eggs, and will have a swarm of flesh-eating hornets burst from their skin next turn for [dice] damage. Targets may not dodge, save or otherwise avoid the magic missiles, unless they are wearing a wreath of garlic bulbs or a similarly powerful scent, which blocks all damage from this spell.

Thoth-Magog's Magic Missile
R: 200' T: one creature D: one full combat round
A glowing magical beam slowly extends from the caster's fingertips and navigates around inanimate obstacles to strike its target unerringly. This deals [sum]+[dice] damage, sets the target on fire, and reduces their lifespan by twenty years. Target may not dodge, save or otherwise avoid the magic missile, unless they cower behind another creature who is struck in their stead, receiving the damage and other effects of this spell.


Fireball


    A brutal spell developed for the mass-extermination of mortals. Its whistle-thump-roar is as iconic a sound of war as trumpets or the crashing of swords on shields. Because of its versatility, lethality and ease-of-use, a wand pre-loaded with a few casts of Fireball is as common a sight as any magic item can be. Perhaps the simplicity of the spell invites wizards to make it their own.

Fireball
R: 200' T: a point with an unobstructed path from the caster D: instant
A bead of flame flies from the caster's outstretched hand and races to the target point. Upon impact, it blossoms into a fireball of [dice]*10' radius, generally conforming to the space (care must be taken when casting underground), and dealing [sum] damage to all creatures caught in the deflagration, save for half.

Klausrod's Fireball
R: 75' T: a point with an unobstructed path from the caster D: instant
A black orb about the size of a mandarin flies from the caster's outstretched hand and races to the target point. Upon impact, it detonates with enough force to crack stone and liquefy soil. The explosion has a radius of roughly 20' per [die] invested in this spell. Those caught in the explosion are killed, or save to merely take [sum] damage and be flung bodily outside of the blast front. For every [expended], the radius of the explosion increases by 10', and a wave of shrapnel and unbreathable smoke extends for ½ of the radius past the edge of the explosion (that is, 1MD produces a 20' radius explosion, 1MD which expends produces a 30' explosion plus 15' of smoke and shrapnel, 4MD of which three are expended produces a 70' blast front plus 105' of smoke and shrapnel). Those caught out of cover by the shrapnel take [sum] damage, save for half. The smoke lingers for ten minutes or until dispersed by a strong wind.

Geist's Fireball
R: 1500' T: a point visible to the caster D: one round per 100'
A bead of white light leaps from the caster's outstretched hand and navigates to the target point, avoiding obstacles along the way. Upon impact a 20' radius sphere is concealed by a wall of opalescence. Living creatures of [dice] or fewer HD inside the sphere save or are reduced to clouds of powerfully acidic salt. This salt clings to other creatures in the area until removed with scrubbing or strong alcohol. If the creature is caught in rain or splashed with water before then, they take 1d6 damage per round for up to [sum] rounds. This spell is deeply offensive to planar entities and gods, and has a [sum]-in-20 chance of provoking reprisal within the next day.


Lightning Bolt


    This spell functions similarly to a bolt of natural lightning, but not identically. A powerful magnetic field is created for a fraction of a second, into which a tiny amount of plasma slightly hotter than the surface of the sun is injected. The field tends to form a long corridor, routing slightly through conductive mediums (e.g. metal armor) and reflecting off of strongly non-conductive mediums (e.g. solid wall of stone and earth), which infamously makes it possible to rebound the "bolt" back through the caster and create an extremely dangerous circuit. I suppose "Inject Plasma as Hot as the Sun into a Magnetic Field, Briefly" is a bit of a mouthful, so "Lightning Bolt" it remains.

Lightning Bolt
R: n/a T: a cylinder 5' in diameter and [dice]*100' long D: instant
In a flash, energy is projected from the caster's outstretched hand, striking all creatures and objects in the targeted volume for [sum] damage, save for half. Creatures wearing or holding large quantities of metal are not permitted to save. The force of the bolt shatters thin barriers, but is reflected off of hills or dungeon-walls, possibly striking the caster and his allies.

Scylla's Lightning Bolt
R: n/a T: [dice] cylinders 5' in diameter and 100' long D: instant:
In a flash, energy is projected from the caster's outstretched hand, striking all creatures and objects in the targeted volumes for [sum] damage, save for half. Creatures wearing or holding large quantities of metal are not permitted to save. After the initial bolts are created, each seeks the nearest creature within 100' and passes through them in a straight line, dealing [sum]-6 damage. This is repeated again, dealing [sum]-12 damage, and so on and so forth until the fury of the storm is spent.

Guinevere's Lightning Bolt
R: n/a T: n/a D: [sum] minutes
In a flash, an orb of energy 10' in diameter appears over the caster's shoulder. It seeks out the caster's enemies, or a target named in the casting, by leaping up to 100' per round and dealing [dice] damage on impact. If requested, this damage is subdual. The orb is as good a tracker as a bloodhound, though a good deal faster and slightly less intelligent.

Thursday, November 30, 2023

For the Wise Ones to Record, for the Idiots to Learn

    On the western edge of the world, north of Los and south of the unfinished continents of the animal-men, is the Basking Coast. It is a cold place, lonely even in company, oppressive even in solitude. The forest was planted before the g_ds fashioned your race. Grim pines, in black bark armor, stretch their limbs out over the pit that leads down to death. Grudgingly the forest allows men take the lives of its sons for firewood, and not a few lives it takes in return, by cold and hunger and savagery under its black canopy. Dead men walk this wood, weeping frozen tears, crying out for a fiery end. Things are buried in the snow that were never given a name, and some of them not dead, but only sleeping.

    The lord of the Basking Coast is called the Heptarch, a crude joke in the whaler-tongue. His hall, the Villa, is draughty but never dark. His walls are decorated with great jaws and barbed harpoons. His subjects are yellow-eyed Kings, iron-collared Builders, sullen gorillas, and men rendered indistinguishable by lamp-black. The people of the Basking Coast have clung to their frigid town, between crashing shore and whispering forest, since their g_d put them there, and will stay until He returns, if they are not driven away or taken by the evil armies.

    Generations ago Artur Hoxha, a widely-respected Gentleman Naturalist, visited the Basking Coast. He wished to write the greatest encyclopedia of all the world, the Nowe Anyangy, containing all the knowledge of men, Kings and monkeys. There is disagreement on whether he succeeded.


On the Whale

"...ye WHALE cometh in many fifes, and it is ye Lord of the Ofean. Some Whales have mighty teeth, and others have fmall teeth, and others no teeth at all. Some Whales are larger than whaling boats, and fome Whales are fmaller. What unites fuch diverfe creatures is ye prefenfe of Oil in their flefh, which is efsential to many Induftrial Profefses, but as everyone knows ye multitudinous ufes of Whale Oil I writeth no more on that subject..."




On the Oliphaunt and the Camelopard

"... ye OLIPHAUNT, in Lofian Oliphaus, meaning: the greateft of the Animals, becaufe the beaft is great. It alfo has a lot to fay about itfelf to that matter. They attribute to him, Docilitatem, great understanding in everything. He even underftands writing, and with his long nofe or trunk, genuinely fpeaking, Probofcide writes. Some time (tefte Klohrus) Oliphaunt wrote these words: IPFE EGO HAEC FCRIPFI & FPOLIA ARETICA DICAVI..."
"...ye Oliphaunt is widevaunted ye Ftupideft Beaft in all ye World, for it feems he goeth about Arfe-Firft and ftumbleth trampl'ing, but this is not fo. He doth but haveth two tails, and two Arfes alikewife. and a great maw and teeth like Great Weapons. Ye tongue of ye Oliphaunt is exfeedingly fine, and fituated fo far back in the mouth, fuch that it is difficult to get a fight of it. Men fay this be for fome purpofe but I know it not..."

"...ye Oliphaunt is a mighty beaft, but no Creature is fo feared and defpifed by ye men of ye Bafking Coaft as the dreadful CAMELOPARD. Alfo yclept Long-Legs & Alden's Horfe, ye Camelopard is known to ftrip trees of their Bark and Needles, and to graze on the Bones of Men to garnifh its own imprefsive fkeleton. In ye Fpring and Fummer, when many Camelopards are born to their mothers, travelers muft be wary, for their Ftride is Fwift, and their hunger for Bones is ftrong..."



On the Mammout

"...ye MAMMOUT be a type of Ife Demon. Fome fay it 'marmot' but I fay they be confufed. It be ye largeft of ye Rodents, and burrowing underneath the ground all its life by ufe of its great tufks, if it comes to furface by chance or artifife of Men, ye Mammout is at onfe killed by funlight, and its bones are made into fine ivory..."





On the Harvestman

"...alfo ye HARVEFT MAN is there, not fo called for his Harveft, becaufe he does not Fow, but on account no Man Haveth more Hair than he. Ye Harveft Man is called a fpider, but only by the Ignoramus, becaufe he has fix limbs, and four are arms. On the Bafking Coaft he liveth by theft and fcavenge, as he does elfewhere. He knowth not the fecrets of Fletching, and from his bow he fires wooden rods adorned by ftrange Herbs and Flora. Fome enterprifing Merchants attempt to fell him arrows from ├čheen in exchange for Expenfive Furs, but the cunning Harveft Man will take the arrows firft, and drive off the Merchant after..."
"...I have heard a tale where Vifious Wreckers made camp on the Coaft, intent on driving Whalers to their Doom on the rocks, but were difcovered there by a band of Harveft Men who quickly brought Paladins down on them, to their ill fortune, for like all the Men of the Bafking Coaft, and Kings and Builders, likewife Monkeys too, the Harveft Men depend on the Commerfe of the Whaling Fleet, and its Heptarch..."





On the Sparrow

"...ye FPARROW, alfo yclept ye Fparrowcamel, be ye fecond-largeft bird created by the g_ds, and ye third largeft in Exiftenfe, or fo we have Heard. Defpite its great Wings, it cannot fly but inftead rafeth fafter than a man can flee. Its body is of great Value yet its multitudinous ufes is now unknown to the Civilized World and inftead private to ye Whaler Kings: therefore expoundeth I upon yon anon. Ye aigs of ye Fparrow, being of fuch ftrength and thicknefs, that men may ufe ye fhell of them as cuppes, bowles and lampes. The Bones of the Fparrow are like unto thofe of ye Kings and are as ufeful. their Leather is the greateft in all the world, almoft Maille when firft drefsed and almoft Diamant Fteel when boiled..."
"...ye Feathers of ye Fparrow be ye Crown of ye Fouth, and dear were they indeed to ye Lofian when he yet lived. Great farms had they, wherein were raifed armies upon armies of yon bird. The Cattle furvived the Hufbonder, it might be faid, for the great vifioufnefs in their Hearts, and the warmnefs of their Coat, a quo "Furvive", a furr├ęd life..."
"...on ye Bafking Coaft the Fparrowcamel be a Great Peft. he maketh Fport of men, with trampling and fcourging, and tearing the Beams of their Fhips and Houfes in his Fpurs, and drinking their Oil. few things prey upon ye Fparrowcamel, and fo the men of the Academy fay that Weafels muft be carried from Arel to fteal their young and hunt them fully grown, but the Heptarch fayeth this is a Fool's Plan and will welcome in difafter..."

On the Ice Bee

"...ye Ife Bee is beloved as the fecret worker who layeth up great ftores of Golden Treafure, more valued than gold in olden times. Ye Raifing of this Mafter-Craftfman is wide-thought impofsible, for there is nothing ye Ife Bee loathes more ftrongly than ye ruddy face of a Bee Keeper or ye fickening glower of a Fmoking Lamp, and they love to die to deftroy thefe things. Their coats be Highly Noninflammable, and ye Lint off their hides chokes ye breath, and fo they are hated as much as adored by thofe who walk Ye Paths Up and Ye Paths Down in darknefs and light. Ye Honey of ye bees is what I fpeaketh of here when I fpeaketh of yon Treafure. Emperors would pay diamond-weight for a tafte of olde, and many a Wife One fayeth it has powers to ameliorate fuffering of ye fpirit, and to cleanfe ye body of difeafe and death..."


On the Ounikorn

"...ye Ounikorn, fo-called for its fear of ye mighty Eagle, for its fmall eyes cannot be turned Heavenwards enough to efpy it in the Plunge, be an amphibian creature alike to the Frog and the Flutterby. ye firft porfion of its life be fpent upon Land, where it is confidered the most honorable and notable Game or Quarry in ye whole world, barring only ye Quefting Beaft. When its bulk becomes too great for four legs to fupport, it betaketh itfelf to the Feas where it playeth in the deep and maketh fport of men in their Boats. I wouldft have included a Fketch Illuftrationary, but I could find no man claiming he had ever feen the Thing nor willing to defcribe likewife..."

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Self Same King (GLOG Setting, Campaign Material)

    It has been some two centuries, many many generations of the smallfolk, since the goblins of Hybrasil threw off the yoke of their ogre masters and chased the invading tallfolk back into the sea. But the Goblin King aged and died, as goblins do, and his advisors — the prophesied adventurers who guided him to adulthood and power, and gathered the regalia of his previous incarnations — followed him into the dark long ago, even the blessed Rellek who was favored by the Goddess of Death. The Free Kingdoms that so many goblins died to create have not grown stronger or more powerful with the passing of years. 

    There are old enemies in Hybrasil, and new threats. The Torch Paladins are as proud and cruel today as they ever were before they were forced at lancepoint to bend the knee. From the south the Hobgoblin Empire swallows the island up, mile by mile, town by town. In the north the immortal Dimitar, the ruler of planet Xater and the so-called "Space Hitler", is once more preparing to invade the realms of flesh and blood. Even the lands of the dead are not peaceful, as the Red Lady and the Raven Queen squabble over souls, and in doing so allow the Ghoul and the Lich to slink back through the Gates of Life.

    But you don't care about that, of course. You don't even know who any of those people or places are; you weren't in my Pathfinder game, you haven't met any of these characters, and you aren't one of the players who rewrote the history of this world by "discovering" the "scepter" of the "goblin-king of old" (unless you were, in which case: Hello. Tell Rellek's player he still owes me $5 from the last Creator Clash). You're here for the first time. I can hear you saying to yourself "Michael, what is all this shit?"

    Here, read a little farther and I'll tell you. 

A map of a section of the eastern coast of Hybrasil. Marked on it are three of its largest cities.



The World


    Hybrasil is a large island (think more like Australia than Britain) a great distance to the south and west of the continent of Oriens. Oriens is the home of the tallfolk; elfs, dwarves, humans and &c. Hybrasil is the home of goblinoids. Some centuries ago, Oriens attempted a major colonization effort in Hybrasil. This effort was largely a failure, but it did do enough damage to the political fabric of the island to allow its perennial lower-classes to rise in a revolution. 

    The grimy port-town that was the center of the colonization effort, Orlivka, now serves as the capital of the Free Goblin Kingdoms; "free" in that the ogres who once ruled the region were all hanged, "goblin" in that a lot of its peoples are goblins, "kingdoms" in that they liked the sound of that word (their political structure is more like a palace economy with dozens of minor outlying counties). To the west is Hark, a gnomic (i.e. built by gnomes) tiered city on the slope of a mountain in the Dry Court range. To the south is Laetia, a city built in an enormous swamp and inhabited mostly by various kinds of lizard.





    Hybrasil and Oriens are landmasses on a plane also called "Oriens", because all the plane-hopping wizards live on that continent. The plane of Oriens is unique in that it is closely orbited by seven other "planets" (i.e. the diminutive of "plane"). 

    Hold a prism up to sunlight, and observe the colors on the wall: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, violet. In your world perhaps this happens because of "frequencies" of "photons" or something. On this plane, this happens because of the influence of the Planets. 

  1. Red Planet, with red suns hanging low over a red desert, rusted machines and scattered wheels of bad purpose. Exhaustion.
  2. Orange Planet, where there is labor, sweat, the drive to build. Purpose.
  3. Yellow Planet, incomprehensible to humans, a place of sickening wrath. Fury.
  4. Green Planet, primeval forest with predators in every shadow. gnomes love this place. Panic.
  5. Blue Planet, the color of the sky and no earth beneath your feet, falling into a gathering storm forever. Awe.
  6. Indigo Planet, a whispery world, dark tarns, long shadows. He who waits for dawn here waits for all time. Terror.
  7. Violet Planet, great stone halls, tattered hangings, golden ornaments. Avarice.

    Fairies come from the Planets. Gnomes live there too, but they come back sometimes. It's more of a vacation than an exile.

Its People


    The smallfolk, sometimes called "goblins" or "goblinoids", are native to the land of Hybrasil. Though as a whole they tend short, the ogres are some of the largest intelligent creatures in the world. Similarly, while the tallfolk of Hybrasil (sometimes called "humanoids") are generally big, the term includes halflings, who are no larger than a hobgoblin. Humans are larger and sturdier than almost all other races, and far more numerous than ogres. Most racial features you may have seen in other RPG worlds do not breed "true" in Hybrasil and Oriens, and you may encounter people with an elfen appearance but a human's strength, or an orcish face but a goblin's fear of sunlight. 

    But the tallfolk and smallfolk are not the only kind of people. The veil between worlds is thin in Hybrasil, and you will encounter many whose lives have been touched by other planes and planets. "Planetouched", "fey" and "alien" are common words for these people. Any character can be a goblinoid or a humanoid, but your highest and lowest stat (as rolled at character creation) also give you options to be one of these planetouched. Planetouched may resemble goblinoid or humanoid creatures, or may be entirely novel (though they're mostly upright bipeds), at your discretion.


  • Smallfolk (any stats)
    The goblins, hobgoblins, orcs and bugbears. The smallfolk are short, wiry and covered in dense orange fur. "Race", as Hybrasilians understand it, is mostly a function of size. Goblins may be only a little over one meter high, while each step above them adds 30 or 40 centimeters. Pureblooded ogres easily reach 3 meters and 300 kilograms (ogres are not PC options).
    Strength: Choose or roll 1d4
    1. Tiny. You can slip into any space a fox could. 
    2. Marcher. +2 inventory slots.
    3. Precise. You can balance on anything that can bear your weight. 
    4. Gnawing Animal. Chew through a branch or a wooden door in ten minutes. Lost teeth are replaced in a month.

    Weakness: Choose or roll 1d4
    1. Cringing. Save vs. obedience when commanded. 
    2. Mook. Afraid of being alone. 
    3. Macho. Save vs. blind rage when insulted.
    4. Brutal. Save to leave a fight before at least one casualty. 
  • Tallfolk (any stats)
    The humans, elfs, dwarves and halflings. The tallfolk are tall, sturdy and largely hairless. "Race", as those from Oriens understand it, is extremely complicated. The smallfolk don't care. Humans may be two meters tall, goliaths and elfs and dwarfs a head shorter than men, and halflings are no bigger than a child. 
    Strength: Choose or roll 1d4
    1. Educated. Extra skill
    2. Dark-Eyed Beauty. See by starlight. +1 reaction
    3. Iron Stomach. Identify potions and poisons with a little nip, no negative consequences.
    4. Vermin's Foe. +2 to-hit with a thrown object. 

    Weakness: Choose or roll 1d4
    1. Protean. -4 to saves vs. mutation or transformation
    2. Delicate. Save vs. disgust when apologizing or interacting with filth. 
    3. Greedy. Save vs. blind rage when a non-party member has treasure that ought to be yours.
    4. Foreign. -1 to reactions
     
  • Frog (Strength highest)
    Damp and bowlegged, green and a touch slimy, inveterate explorers. Despite cruel stereotypes frog-people do not subsist mostly on bugs.
    Strength: Your thick limbs let you jump 30' horizontally or 10' vertically from standing. You can hold your breath for 10 minutes, and can move through water as easily as on land.
    Weakness: You gain 1 slot of torpor every day, plus 1 every 12 hours in an arid environment. 1 slot of torpor is removed when you bathe your entire body in fresh water for half an hour. If your inventory fills with torpor, you are mostly unresponsive, cannot participate in combat, and travel at 1/6th speed.
  • Strawman (Strength lowest)
    Mostly harmless. Perhaps literally an animated scarecrow, but more likely a figure molded from dreamstuff in the Great Unconscious (not that strawmen have any concept of the metaphysics involved). 
    Strength: You are totally immune to falling damage or any other form of massive impact. You can crumple into a pile of clothes at-will and reform yourself at any time. Birds are terrified of you.
    Weakness: You are a creature of artifice, not a child of nature. You must wear old gloves to touch the world, and secondhand boots to walk around. Without them you cannot interact with the world. Sources of fire deal maximum damage to you, and you become limp and powerless in water.
  • Beetle (Constitution highest).
    Rarely seen unarmored. Flesh may be banded, or russet, or the color of old teeth, while the face and fingertips are shining metallic or gemstone hues.
    Strength: You start with a suit of samurai armor (medium), a tachi (heavy) and a wakizashi (medium, wisdom-based). You can sleep comfortably in your armor, and if your gear is lost or damaged you can replace it in a week or repair it in 8 hours.
    Weakness: You may not ignore an honorable demand for a duel, and when you meet another beetle you must duel them.
  • Gnome (Constitution lowest)
    Very wee. Size of a toddler, with the wrinkly face of an old man. Centuries ago this was their land, before they were forced to retreat beyond the Gates. Gnomes like on other planets now — the Green, mostly — but they've been known to come back. 
    Strength: You can fit anywhere a child could hide, and can perfectly disguise yourself as a boring inanimate object while holding your breath. 
    Weakness: The touch of iron weapons (not iron tools, not bronze or stone weapons) burn you for double damage. Save to miss an opportunity to scare the shit out of an innocent.
  • Serpent (Dexterity highest)
    Lithe bodies, skin dry and cold to the touch. Held in superstitious horror for their glowing eyes. Capable of great evil. 
    Strength: Non-serpents cannot break eye contact with you on their own. While maintaining eye contact, you may force someone to make a save every round or walk 10' closer to you, even if this takes them into danger or walks them off a cliff. Once in grappling range you may force someone to save or stand rigid and helpless. 
    Weakness: You are loathed. Folk consider your gaze assault, whether or not you try to hypnotize them, so you must keep your eyes downcast in towns. Few temples permit you entrance.
  • Panda (Dexterity lowest)
    Fuzzy and round. For some reason I can't grasp, people just love to have pandas around. I say: let 'em die. This is Michael talking, out-of-character. I do not like pandas. 
    Strength: You are characterized by your bold black-and-white coat and rotund body, which people find endearing. These give you +2 AC and +2 HP
    Weakness: All Panda-people are born with a crippling addiction to panacea, a substance refined on a different planet and imported at great expense by Panda cartels. For each day you do not consume at least one dose of panacea, you gain a cumulative -1 to all d20 rolls. After 3 weeks without panacea or medical attention, you die.
  • Worker (Intelligence highest)
    The female of the species. Tiny black eyes, long black nails, black-and-yellow wool. A long thick tail ends in a sawtoothed spike. Every worker is a harried emcel. 
    Strength: You can gain a slot of exhaustion to work like ten men for an hour. Your blood is bitter black poison; anyone who bites you takes as much damage as they deal. You can viciously sting for 2d8 damage, taking [highest] yourself as you use your own blood as venom. 
    Weakness: Your rations must be syrup and liquor. Save when insulted or fly into a destructive rage. 
  • Drone (Intelligence lowest)
    The male of the species. Enormous black eyes, long black nails, black-and-yellow wool. A long thick tail ends in a tuft of yellow hair that might resemble a spike, if the light is bad. Every drone is a hopeless romantic.
    Strength: You have a thick fluffy coat and a good heart, which give you resistance to fire, cold, weather and magic. Anyone you're holding on to has the same resistance. 
    Weakness: Your rations must be syrup and liquor. Save when you see beauty or fall hopelessly in love, again.
  • Owl (Wisdom highest)
    Sons of fear, daughters of the night. They appear like a normal person, except for their terrible shadows. The lives of owls are short and brutal; "You'll never go far, but you'll make a lot of people come up short". 
    Strength: See by starlight, and up to 10x zoom. Your shadow is that of a great bird. When not in sunlight you may draw the shadow up over yourself and fly, silently, faster than a man can run. Your flight is steady enough to move down a 10' hallway without touching walls or floor, but you cannot hover, and you need a 10' square to turn 90°.
    Weakness: You are completely blind in sunlight, and must wear a blindfold or hood to protect your eyes. You must save to make any noise other than a wordless scream.
  • Peevish Lizard (Wisdom lowest)
    Chunky, scaled, lazy. The lizards hate to do anything that doesn't involve basking in a warm pond, but that lifestyle can get expensive. This is the great injustice of the world.
    Strength: Your jaws cannot be unfastened from something without the aid of a metal crowbar. You can eat a ration to heal 1 HP, and are immune to fire.
    Weakness: You eat and sleep so rarely that you require neither while on an adventure. Instead, you must regulate your body temperature. You gain 1 slot of torpor every day, plus 1 every 12 hours in a cold environment. 1 slot of torpor is removed when you bask in a large fire or on a rock in direct sunlight for 6 hours. If your inventory fills with torpor, you are mostly unresponsive, cannot participate in combat, and travel at 1/6th normal speed. 
  • Unicorn (Xharisma highest)
    Generations have lived and died
    in the shadow of the unicorn.
    Schools of prestige and power have been founded,
    dedicated to the hunt.
    Kingdoms have burnt forests to find it.
    Fortunes have been reduced to nothing.
    Still, they hunt the Unicorn.

    Strength: You have a 2' horn sticking out of your head. It is as sharp as a medium sword, and cannot break or be removed against your will. You can take 1d6 points of stat injuries for one the following magical effects, applied with a touch of your horn:
    1. Heal someone for HP equal to stats lost
    2. Damage an undead for HD equal to stats lost
    3. Burst a lock, bend bars or shatter a chain
    4. Cure a malady, such as blindness or paralysis
    5. Undo a curse or hex
    6. Produce brilliant light from your horn until next you sleep
    Weakness: Your blood is precious. The equivalent of 1 point of maximum HP reduction, sprinkled on a field, makes it rich and bountiful; consumed as a potion it cures wounds; applied to the skin it grants the appearance of youth; kept safe and allowed to heal between harvests you could provide this bounty for a long, long time. Even the most callow of wizardlings could use your horn as a wand that would make them living legends. Everyone you meet knows all these things, 1-in-10 are willing to seize the opportunity. 
  • Swan (Xharisma lowest)
    Beautiful, doomed. Legends tell of swan-maidens, and the vengeful princes that love them, and the foolish humans that try to enslave them by stealing their coat-of-feathers — or of young men cursed to spend half their lives as birds, and the rest of their lives as cripples. 
    Strength: You own a great coat of white feathers. Pulled completely around you it turns you into an enormous swan. Worn halfway on and halfway off, and it transforms you into an angelic being with thunderous wings. 
    Weakness: Disaster is waiting for every swan, at the end of the line. You have disadvantage on avoiding your Disaster and its sources deal double damage to you. Choose a Disaster, or roll on the following list: 
    1. long falls
    2. legs failing you
    3. serial killer
    4. poisoned by mistake or lack of care
    5. burning building
    6. horns of a wild beast

Gods of Hybrasil


    The native gods are simple and powerful: the Sun, the Moon, the Rain, the Sea and Winter. The invaders brought others: a whole host of gods and goddesses of Magic, Chaos, Law and the like. The two pantheons are uncomfortable with each other, but open war has never broken out. 

    The most adventurer-relevant deities are as follows: 

Wee Jas
The powers of Vanity, Law, Arcana, Death 
The Witch-Goddess, the Red Lady Mother of Magicians, Watcher of the Well, the Gate of Death, Abomination of Necromancers, the Dark-Eyed Lady

Demeanour: Haughty, diligent, grasping, afraid, conspiratorial, far-seeing 
Symbols: Red skull on a red field, a fireball, an eye with red kohl, a tall human woman in dark clothes and red jewelry, a broken hourglass, a wishing well
Common Worshipers: Wizards, ghoul-hunters, those who perform burials, communist necromancers (the ones who want free undead labor), hags
Why do people suffer? They have forgotten their place and themselves, and have struggled against the world. Or they're demons or necromancers: FUCK those guys 

Ban: Stealing the souls of the dead, which are her property. Raising mindless undead and allowing them to walk unchecked, which is disgusting to her. Raising intelligent undead, which are a blasphemy. Opening connections between between mortal realms and the worlds of the dead.
Wrath: Real Old Testament rains-of-fire. 
Sacrament: Proper burial of the dead and maintenance of tombs. Destruction of the lich and the demon. The closing of portals, the sewing-up of rents in the veil. 
Blessing: A taste of a single drop from her well of power, which makes mortals into mages.


Claw
The powers of Law, Punishment, Submission
The Torch of Heaven, our Overseer, Balancer of the Pans, President-9th-Class of Hell, King of the Burning Times 

Demeanour: Proud, literal, humorless, bureaucratic, patronizing, protective
Symbols: Fiery sword, crossed torch and shovel, black burn over the eye, locks, barbed chains, three cuts
Common Worshipers: Devils, servants of devils, paladins, pirate hunters
Why do people suffer? All planes and all life exist at the sufferance of the Absolute, who is oddly permissive of the sins of intelligent life. 

Ban: Defying the laws of legitimate authorities. Opening portals. Anarchy.
Wrath: A sharp sword in the hands of a Torch Paladin
Sacrament: None.
Blessing: Grit and fortitude, given to some and withheld from others unfairly.


Neath
The powers of Sorcery, Knowledge, Disaster
The All-Seeing Eye, the Troubled God, the Single Twin, the Dark Master, the Bright Master, the Mystery of Faith, Great Fearsome One

Demeanour: Changeable, generous, paranoid, ruining, unpredictable
Symbols: Pyramid with eye and rays, face split in two halves of black and white, glass sphere, black and white stripes, magical explosions
Common Worshipers: Mages, scholars, apocalyptic cultists, spells, students, magical creatures
Why do people suffer? There is no suffering, but sometimes people choose the long, arduous path of mundanity, foolishly believing this to be "better" or "more character-building" in some way. Why struggle when you could wave your hand and get what you want?

Ban: Mundanity
Wrath: Dreams of brain-melting chaos, when he's mad at an individual. Patches of dead magic, when he punished a whole region.
Sacrament: Any great ritual of magic. Its purpose is inconsequential: the Greatness of the Work is what Neath adores. 
Blessing: Power and knowledge — the good kind, the kind that gets you in trouble.


Saturday, September 30, 2023

Slush Pile 2



Signs that a creature is resistant to Holy damage:
  • covered in holy symbols
  • faint ghastly glow
  • it's a karma thing, you can Just Tell
  • some parts of the body clearly made from silver


    Nothing the best of artists can conceive
but lies, potential, in a block of stone,
superfluous matter round it. The hand alone
can free it that has intelligence for guide.
     The peril I’m running from, the good descried
in you, proud lovely lady—yes, heaven’s own!—
are virtual in yourself. I’m doomed, I groan:
art thwarting the very end it longs to have.
     Not love, then, and not your beauty, your famous name,
disdain or marble mien, fate high or low,
is the cause I languish long here, hold my breath.
     If mercy and doom in your heart attend, then blame
my feeble wit: though the two affect me so,
it can realize the one only. And that’s death


From a description of a Lord of the Rings Online class:
"The key mechanic for the Mariner class is the balance bar. This sifts left (“foreward”) and right (“aftward”) depending on skills used. This sounds similar in a way to the Rune-keeper’s attunement meter, except that here the main goal is to keep the bar balanced in the center (“steady”) as much as possible. If you go too far in either direction and become unbalanced, bad stuff starts happening to you — namely, you get debuffs and are even stunned. So it’s in your best interests to stay balanced as much as possible.

Figuring out which skill moves the bar which way isn’t too difficult, as the devs have color-coded them. Blue skills (mostly defensive) move the bar aftward, while red skills (mostly offensive) move the bar foreward."


sphinx and dragon:
the sphinx' greatest pleasure is in the guarding, not the having — while the dragon loves the having, but is driven to distraction by the thought of thieves and intruders



Shit I saw on my roadtrip:
  • billboard that says YOU KNOW WHAT WE SELL. with an ai generated image and no other information
  • Graffiti reading FOR ALL MANKIND
  • Restaurant titled, in six-foot-high neon letters, THE CHINA BUFFET II
  • Metal fence bent half-over like it was hit by something, but covered in unmarked paint
  • 24' flatbed carrying a single, presumably very heavy, bicycle
  • The "Motor Mile". It was a really, really large lot full of wrecked cars on the side of the highway
  • An ad for a car dealer — COME KNOW THYSELF IN SEVIERVILLE (I may have imagined this one, as I saw it very late at night/early in the morning)
  • Sitting in a Peruvian restaurant enjoying a wildly overcooked steak, listing to latin music. The radio switches to something for a moment: a woman shouting "NO... NO... NNOOOO... AAAAAAAA" at the top of her lungs. Radio switches back to latin music. Some kind of horror movie thing?
  • miles and miles of discarded tires along a pennsylvania highway


Atlantis - Timeline of Discovery


The Great War: Two aviators, John "Jack" Alcock, an American aviator, and Arthur Brown, an English aero-engineer, are independently captured by the Central Powers. Both men are intrepid explorers, and a brief stay in a POW camp dissuades neither man from his dream of crossing the Atlantic by air in under 72 hours.

Postwar: Alcock approaches the Vickers company to specially-modify one of their Vimy IV bombers for the trip. As Brown develops his aerial navigation skills, the Vickers company builds a series of a dozen planes at their facilities; lucky number 13 is built at Weybridge and shipped across the ocean to be assembled in Canada. Brown approaches Alcock, impresses him with his technical skill, and is officially brought onto the project as navigator.

14 June, 1919, 1:45 p.m. - John "Jack" Alcock and Arthur Brown take off from Newfoundland in a modified Vickers bomber. Though the plane was extensively tested and modified by a team of experts, including support from Rolls Royce technicians for the two 360hp engines that would power the first non-stop transatlantic flight, problems are almost immediately encountered; the overloaded plane only barely escapes the tops of the trees at the end of the rough runway.

5:15 p.m. - Over radio, Alcock indicates that the two see lights above them which Brown cannot place on any map. He intends to investigate.

Some point after 5:15 p.m. - Contact is lost with the airplane.

17 June, 4:40 a.m. - Alcock briefly reestablishes contact over radio. His only discernible words: "—it's so much colder than I—"

25 June, 9:15 p.m. - The lucky number 13 crashes in Derrigimlagh Bog, near Clifden in County Galway, only a few miles from their intended landing zone. As it lands the converted bomber noses-over. Alcock is immediately killed, and Brown is hospitalized, dying without regaining consciousness. The rescuers note that the plane appears to have been crudely repaired with sheets of leather and large whalebones, and that both Alcock and Brown have aged perhaps 20 years.


Early hours of 2 July, 1919 - Though planned to take place before Alcock and Brown's voyage, damage sustained in testing meant that the east-to-west transatlantic flight by Major George Herbert "Lucky Breeze" Scott, this one aboard an R34 rigid airship, had been delayed several weeks. Dark jokes abound on the airbase: the R34 may not be the "first nonstop transatlantic flight", but it may yet claim the title of "first nonstop transatlantic flight, with survivors".

7:45 p.m. - Over radio, Scott reports lights in the sky above the R34.

7:50 p.m. - Scott transmits a final message: "[unintelligible], it's an entire [unintelligible] continent. Wait—"

Some point after 7:50 p.m. - Contact is lost with the airship.



Notes from my dream journal/possible BCS mission prompts

  • group of 4 misunderstand timetravel, go back to the past so they can kill themselves in an "alternate reality" before killing their original selves. keep doing it. become incredibly good at killing themselves. just showed up in our timeline, 250 years of experience under their belt, the best genetic modification that can be bought before 2073, armed to the fucking teeth
  • 911, what's your emergency?
    hi, I'm at [my previous address] and there's someone laughing between me and the only door out of my apartment
  • quote: "this is all just a manmade nightmare. who's to say i can't fly in the sky with the sataks, or live in the mountain with the satavaks?"
  • breathing with the aid of magical symbiotic spiders which cram tentacles in your lungs
  • we are proud to be america's second news source that is both anti-semitic and pro-israel
  • the flood law firm represents the seriously injured
  • the name of a water lily, an indian tribe, and a practice. just north of some town. if you want to do it right, there are a few tips to make it safe. never do it near the falls. never size the light, they'll get confused on their own. never do it if the real selkies will hate you for it.
    stupid european just doesn't understand a good prank.
    double wide trailer on tank treads rolling over an old trail, dripping into the water to see if the selkies will grab me
  • man trying to retrieve treasure from a deep, narrow pit. longer than his arm. uses a hook or some duck but just ends up jamming the hole. it closes over and festers. on the other side of the jam the hole grows deeper
  • the state acts through its 'leader" in ritual murders called "executions"
  • in a museum about germany, a screen cycles through lofi trivia questions about germany. one of the provided answers is always macabre, and one is always about piss, and then there are two random ones. the people standing behind me in line keep guessing the piss one. but the answer is "death" or "a hearse" every time. (This one might be a tweet that I incorrectly copied into my dream journal, but I'm too lazy to check).
  •     You were a child growing up in a small West Virginia town under the friendly alias of "Taylor". Your father was a ???, your mother a stay-at-home mom. She's slightly insane. One day your father disappeared — people say he was mobbed up but crossed the wrong guy.
        He sends a letter to your mama, just before he vanishes, telling her to load the shotgun, take you out to the greenhouse, explain to you that your real name wasn't "Taylor" it was "Typhon, King of the Monsters", and shoot you in the back of the head. Sobbing, she followed almost all of his instructions.
        At the last moment she reconsidered and shot herself instead. The cops arrived, found the scene and the whacked-out letter, whisked you away to some relatives' home, and you spent years being shuffled around. You grew into a fine young human being (all things considered) (not too fucked up).
        Finally one day you return to the place your parents died. Funny run-in with a pair of cops when they find your car next to the dilapidated house that used to be yours: "yeah, folks say the place is haunted. about twenty years ago, [explanation of your childhood]. Pretty fucked up". You agree.
        Of course, what you've never revealed to anyone is: you lied. On that on that fateful day, your mother didn't reconsider. She shot you in the head from three feet away with a 12 gauge shell — and the pellets rattled off like hail. Now you're back to find some Gosh Darned Answers.
  • Two old friends are recounting a hilarious tale for an ABC special involving the death of [Gene] Wolfe and their attempts to recover his famous field mouse collection. The mice live in a field of highly realistic scarecrows. The men (there's a cheesy and slightly cheap reenactment of all this, which the interview keeps cutting to) are slicing open the faces of the scarecrows to get at the straw and the mices. One of them is panicking, running through the field. the two collide. The other bends and inserts an 8 inch hinting knife up the nostril and into the frontal lobe, and slits. Cut back to interview: men are laughing, their spouses (field mouse biologist and her daughter) are laughing, man who got slit is demonstrating how deep into his skull 8 inches is. No scar, no indication of how he even survived. The reenactment had been freaking me out because obviously I anticipated what was coming but at the end I was just confused and mad.



Dungeon


    The authorities of Orlivka have arrested the sea-rat Swithemend on suspicious of general smugglery. However, they've got no real evidence beyond the circumstantial, and Swithemend counts most of the sea-rats in the city as his friend. The authorities want you to explore his little cafe, the Greas├ęd Rat, and find proof of his wrongdoing convincing enough to quell the growing unrest.

A, Swithemore's Kitchen
Exit to the NORTH, doors on the EAST and WEST, stairs leading DOWN to the EAST.
There's a huge iron griddle on a woodstove, and some pots and pans and knives hanging from the walls. The floor is slick with seawater and old fishblood, as it always is. Aria the ratwench will pay 5gp if you can haul a great heavy keg up the narrow, rickety stairs from the basement (strength check to not slide back down with the keg on top of you for 1d12)
B, Dining Room
Swithemend is in prison, but his regulars are still here drinking and talking. Besides the old salts and some grim-faced sea-rat mercenaries, there's Harry Graft and 2d4 of his band of troublemakers. Given any provocation they'll throw knives "around" but not "at" you, but it's a joke so you're not allowed to get angry. For 10gp you could get them to do almost any fool thing.
C, Smoking Deck
The deck is covered by a pergola draped in a thin fabric that keeps out bugs but lets in air and light. at the Greas├ęd Rat sitting out here is the particular privilege of the particularly old, who smoke and gossip and snooze.
D, Pantry
Flour, oil, slivered coconut in jars, a large jamon. Concealed beneath the slivered coconut (Swithemend's favorite snack) is a large old-fashioned key.



Rumors:
  1. "Swithemore was a pirate in his youth, had a hideout on Flies Island..." (true).
  2. "Orlivka has a Corpse Priest problem. why, I've seen them with my own eyes strutting about by night proud as you please..." (half-true)
  3. "Swithemore was always chuckling to himself about his secret heap of treasure. i bet that's the real reason they dragged him before the Magistrate in chains..." (true)
  4. "Harry Graft's a vampire, that's why you see so many lads come and go in his gang..." (false)



    The basement of the Greas├ęd Rat is much cooler than ground-level. Halflings or other PCs with a sensitive nose might notice a faint whiff of salt and rot, though the cafe is several hundred yards from the bluffs of the north end of Orlivka, and you usually can't smell the sea this far away because of all the horse and fried fish and fried horse.

1, Beer
touch: flagstone floor, plaster walls. smell: cheap swill. lit by oil lamp.
    This room is filled with casks and puddles of Swithemend's terrible beer. Every few minutes, Aria comes half-falling down the stairs, fills a dozen mugs, then slowly and carefully trudges back up to the customers. On shelves to the WEST and SOUTH, old cookbooks and damaged utensils sit. On the large desk in the NORTHEAST, an elderly map is unfurled, and a medium leadcutter is laid out for maintenance with oil and a rag.
     The sword's blade is recently well-cared-for, though dark corrosion pitting indicates a rougher history. The map is of an unidentified island with no provided scale. It indicates several trails between several locations, though again these aren't identified. Near one of the islands bays, a large and delicious red X has been marked next to a little doodle of a rat-skull.
    Door to the EAST is old and stuck. Door to the SOUTH is broad and well-oiled
2, Ham
touch: chill air, porkiness. smell: pork. taste: pork. lit by blue crystal in ceiling.
    This room is where Swithemend kept his expensive imported jamons. They look like hams — old and mummified hams at that — but there are 40 of these suckers just hanging around and any PC with a skill or background in upper-class cuisine or etiquette knows you could march up to any local noble's cook and sell them 10gp a pop easy, maybe more if you target a banquet.
    The crystal in the ceiling is a Gem of Cold. It could be set in a weapon or used as a magical reagent, but if you just leave it around in a room of this size it lowers the ambient temperature by about 30 degrees fahrenheit.
    The door EAST has a large shiny padlock. It can be opened with the pantry key (in D), or it can be noisily axed through, or noisily kicked open by a character with at least 15 strength. Smashing a door provokes an immediate encounter
3, Wine
touch: flagstone floors, earth walls. smell: dust and spiders. not lit.
    Racks and racks of bottles of fine wines, most of them untouched in years. They're unwieldy and fragile as treasure, but most of the 60 bottles in here are worth a respectable 3gp. The bottle of Mariada Rose would be worth 20gp to an enthusiast, and a dose of the warming Goat Valley Tempranillo would cure stat-damage and XP drain (one bottle has 3 doses).
    Tipping the racks over would crush the occupants of the room for 4d6 damage, save v. traps for half.
    The door SOUTH has a large, rusty padlock. It can be opened with the pantry key (in D), or it can be noisily axed through, or noisily kicked open by a character with at least 12 strength. Smashing a door provokes an immediate encounter
X, Tripart Hallway
touch: slick packed dirt. smell: earth and clay. not lit.
    This hallway seems to have been cut through the ground relatively recently. Any dwarf or engineer can immediately see it's not supported enough to last many summer-winter cycles in a coastal town. The track WEST-EAST has been walked so often there are no footprints, just a few dragmarks. The path SOUTH is taken so infrequently that it's clear the visitor was a sea-rat every time
4, Junk
touch: earth floor and walls. smell: old wood, damp, dust. not lit.
    This room is cluttered full of crap. There are old crates, chests of drawers, a full suit of plate armor (sized for a human, requires significant repairs and refitting costing 1/4th as new) holding a medium poleaxe and a shield, shelves loaded with decks of marked cards and fistfuls of loaded dice (2gp, perhaps), shelves loaded with old books mostly on the topic of whelks (but also a spellbook with 2 spells, if 10 minutes are taken to search), a wicker basket full of 40 pounds of fetters and cuffs, a collection of skulls, and whatever other garbage you can think of. There's a treasure chest on a large expensive-looking rug (10gp but bulky): approaching the chest without examining the rug triggers a loaded beartrap underneath, 2d6 damage. The chest itself is locked, and contains 30gp in silver coins from various lands.
    The door in the WEST, leading to hallway X, is obvious. the door in the EAST, to Y, is disguised as a large coffin covered in faded warnings of Red Plague.
Y, Crooked Hallway
touch: damp stone. smell: salt air, dead bodies. lit by luminescent paint on the wall.
    This hallway is narrow and uncomfortable, and seems to have been picked through solid stone sometime in the past. The walls and ceiling are splattered with green paint that glows brightly enough to keep away the Grue. Tasting or inhaling a fragment of the paint requires a save v. poison, dealing 1d6 damage to intelligence on a fail.
5, Gnomic Temple
touch: wooden floor and walls. sound: low whispering, dripping, chuckling. smell: beeswax and wormcast and blood. not lit.
    This was once a small shrine to Wee Jas the Witch-Goddess, but someone has toppled her statue. It lies face-down with its legs broken. Rangers or characters with a background in monstrumology immediately know this room is the den of a Grue. When first entering, everyone who's holding light must save or have it extinguished. Every subsequent minute, they must repeat the save. Anyone in this room in total darkness must save every round or be eaten by a Grue.
    The statue is surrounded by the wreck of several large sanctuary candles, which can be pressed back into rough shape and lit. the sanctuary candles make their own save as a whole, with +4.
if the party



    "I will finish this later" I said in June  — dear reader, I did not finish this later. Room 6 is full of scraps of clothing and broken glass, room 7 has deep pits with giant worms, room 8 has a smuggler's ship and evidence to convict Swithmore (and evidence of his connection to a smuggling ring whose friendship might be more useful than that of Orlivka's mayor), room 9 is loaded with the good stuff.



What is Worship?


    Every soul produces a supernatural (as in the technical term) substance that people call "worship," "devotion" or, quaintly, "divine grace". It is a byproduct of intelligent life. Supernatural (again, the technical term) creatures subsist on worship like natural creatures subsist on sunlight and sugar. It is the ambrosia and nectar of the gods, their electricity, their kerosene.

    Simony's children, the Little Gods, cut deals with living people (though they don't usually frame it as such) wherein they are offered worship and in return grant power and beneficence. Cities have their Little Gods, as do cults and cultures, and unions and guilds, and caravans of traveling merchants, and circuses, and bandit encampments. The greatest of the Little Gods may have tens of millions of units (gallons? soul-hours?) of worship to work with, while the very smallest may be junior partners to powerful Clergy and survive on fractions of a portion a day.

    Sot and Simony and the other children of the Unwelcome Guest do not, it is supposed, require sustenance from mortals. Perhaps, because they are a generation or more removed from the Little Gods, they are less fallible, closer to true immortality, and don't require sustenance. Perhaps, because they dwell in the corpse of Heaven, they are sustained by its stinking humors.

    Hobgoblins produce little or no worship. It is sometimes suggested this is because they lack intelligence, or souls. Hobgoblins believe it is because they are sane and all other mortals are demented and demon-haunted. In Hobgoblin lands it is illegal to worship any but Ba the Cosmic Potter.



Tchotchkes:
  1. Icon of Saint Sebastian at his execution, eyes turned to heaven, body studded with fletched flowers
  2. T-shirt with obama Hope poster. obama's eyes have slit pupils and small horns have been added to his temples; the badge on his chest has been replaced with the alchemical symbol for sulfur
  3. Snowglobe of the local town perhaps 40 years ago
  4. Doll of a popular politician of a generation past, who was assassinated by Orc nationalists
  5. Tiny scarecrow with haint-blue features
  6. Artificial daffodil in a rubber pot. Smells faintly of lavender, for some reason.
  7. Stress ball depicting [the owner's] own head
  8. Funko Pop of Kite Man
  9. Colorful abstract ceramic, obviously handmade, with the initials KBM painted on the underside
  10. Antique ration container, 9 notches on the side and two small scratched-out silhouettes of a tank

Random Prompts

  • Al-Tandwp- the sultan is that one Dril tweet
  • Duslam- used to be shrimps
  • Freak people- want to dig a hole



Human
1HD, 12AC, 9 Morale
Attack as weapon, +2 to strength

    Humen are a common sight in any dungeon. Their culture places a strong emphasis on violence and ability in combat; because of this and because of their size and strength, they are a prized part of any dark lord's army.

Superstition and Witchcraft
    Humen have no magical tradition of their own. Instead, they steal elements of other races' traditions to perform cargo-cult rituals and assemble crude magical weapons. A particularly inventive human might loot an artifact from a slain wizard and experiment until they can activate it, then use up its remaining charges before discarding it. Less intelligent humen can be found swinging magic staves as clubs, throwing burning spellbooks as crude bombs, or wrapping amulets and totems (both real and imagined) around the hafts of spears and axes in an effort to grant their attacks supernatural efficacy.

Dreams of Massacre
    Humen lives are as short as they are brutal, and their females bear children every year. Even if one of their hordes are utterly destroyed, they will replenish their numbers within twenty years and be ready to attempt another invasion. Towns on the human frontier are never totally safe.

Inconsistent Forms
    Humen can interbreed with many other species. These offspring (called "demihumans" or "mules") are fertile, and combine the features of their nonhuman parent's race with the savage ferocity of their human side. Because of this, they are sometimes unwelcome in civilized towns. Internal conflict means stable communities of mules are rare. They always feel trapped between their two halves, with some choosing to devote themselves to pursuits such art and music to spurn their human side, while others use the edge granted to them by their mixed blood to rise as warlords and adventurers among the humen.

Gruesome Trophies
    When a human slays an enemy they particularly hated or respected (concepts which are very similar to humen), they may construct a grisly memento out of that enemy's body. Their skin might be preserved and used as a rug or wallhanging, their skull might serve as a goblet, their other bones as toolhandles or decoration, and their hair or fur might be woven into fabric or cords. If the enemy was particularly notable their head might be preserved and mounted on a wall, as a reminder to their killer of the glorious combat, or as a warning to visitors.

Wild Companions
    The natural inclination of humen for chaos and the wilderness makes them closer to animals than other races. Humen of all lands often travel in the company of wolves, with whom they share meals and dens. Eastern humen, especially those of the Dendra and Domovoi tribes, even ride tamed horses into battle. The thunderous hooves and gnashing teeth of these brutes are a dangerous complement to the sweeping blows of their masters' cruel axes and the thrusts of their vicious spears.



Thoughts on GLOG magic


    A spell, as everyone knows, is like a ferret. It can be contained in various things, much like a ferret; a spellbook, a wizard's brain, a scroll, a wand, a stave, a gem, whatever. But why, and for what purpose all these different spell-cages? For the sake of this explanation, imagine the roles are reversed:

    You are a meat-and-matter human; your house is material, and made out of materials: different pieces of different sizes. You actually inhabit the negative space but that negative space is defined by the materials; a solid block of concrete is not a good home and neither is the infinite vastness of Deep Space.

    Imagine a pluripotent alien intelligence from a universe without "matter" owned your house and was trying to get your attention without killing you. If every human lived in the same kind of McMansion, that pluripotent intelligence could get anyone's attention easily and safely, by ringing the doorbell (which it could always find in the same spot, because every McMansion would be identical). 

    A spell is a critter. It's made out of magic and spirit like you're made out of meat and matter. A spell's house is made out of meaning and lack of meaning, ideas and non-ideas, not material and negative space like yours but analogous.

     A rock is not a good house for a spell, just like a solid piece of concrete is not a good house for you, but a gem is an okay one, and a gem with a name and a history is a desirable one

    A "spellbook" contains quite a lot of meaning and quite a lot of whitespace. It's like a McMansion for spells. Spellbooks have two major advantages in the eyes of a wizard: they're easy to produce (at least compared to a gem with 200 years of sordid history or whatever), and they're easy to understand.

    Not every human lives in the exact same kind of house: not even the exact same kind of human will live in the exact same house. Being a wizard is merely knowing what a house is, and knowing that houses have doors. Imagine the pluripotent alien intelligence very carefully and gently examining every part of the house, inside and out — every wall, ceiling and floor, every piece of furniture, the rain gutters and the windows and the doors and the front walk, each detail — until it was absolutely certain it knew what sort of house this was and what sort of person lived there. That's what a wizard is doing when they identify a spell in a scroll or book.

    Reading a spell in a spellbook (which is a wizard-specific thing) is like gently ding-donging the doorbell. Reading a spell from a scroll (which 'most any fool can do) is like setting fire to the house, and waiting for the inhabitant to flee in a panic.

Casting from your book:
  • Spell has however many MD you give it
  • Combat casting goes off at the end of the round, you can be interrupted
  • Spell leaves when it is cast, and returns to the book the next morning (that's why wizards will keep extra copies of their favorite spells)
Casting from your brain:
  • Like casting from a book, but the spell goes off on your turn
  • Spell returns to your brain the next morning
  • You can store as many as [wizard level] spells in your brain
    Everyone knows all that, it's pretty basic. Think of your spellbook as your Pok├ęmon Box, and your brain as your Pok├ęmon Team. Still, spelling (heh) it all out helped me understand the benefits and drawbacks of the two, the delicacy of the design. Plus it makes the other alternatives clear...

Casting from a scroll:
  • Spell has however many MD you give it, plus 1 from the scroll
  • Can be interrupted, like a book
  • Anyone who can read the scroll can cast the spell with 1MD
  • Scroll is destroyed in the process, and the spell is now homeless ­čśŽ

    I like limited use wands, but they often overlap with scrolls, don't you think? But writing everything out makes the missing puzzle piece obvious...

Casting from a wand:
  • Spell has however many MD you give it
  • Spell goes off on your turn, like casting from your brain
  • Spell returns to the wand immediately

    Whoa-hoa! Now we're talking. A wand of Fireball doesn't let you cast Fireball a certain number of times — it lets you cast Fireball however you please, so long as you're snorting enough wizards' teeth to keep up with the MD costs. A wand is sort of like a little leash that the spell can't stray far from. Followup thoughts: you can swap out the spells in the other things (scrolls are reusable if they haven't been cast, books and brains can be swapped easily) but a wand has to be destroyed to free the spell. This makes wand blanks quite handy pieces of treasure. The party's wizard can put their favorite spell inside, and always have it handy.

    What about magical staves? Haven't really thought that one out. Maybe they're powerful artifacts associated with Wizard Schools, and have their own MD pool and selection of spells? Intelligent powerful artifacts, then, they surely must be.

    (of course, "spells are critters" is entirely wrong. a spell is a State, much as you are an Object, and casting a spell means aligning Objects with States; effects without causes. MD represent the wizard's ability to apply that State to more Objects, or to the same Object to a greater degree/for a longer time, in defiance of logic and causality. a spellbook (or what have you) is simply a stable point for a State to exist at, and when a spell is cast it ping-pongs from metastable points to metastable points, typically returning to stability (its "home") when State is checked at dawn.)
    (if this sounds puzzling, then you are beginning to understand why most wizards are Quite Mad)