Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The Silvertine Coast

Kyana over at Noise Sans Signal posted a bunch of maps over here: This is based on that.

Go and stand on a scale. Whatever number the scale displays, a disturbing proportion of it will take the form of plastic. Microplastic, nanoplastic, pieces of plastic thinner than a hair. The same would be true for a dog, a turtle, a fish, if you could hold them on the scale long enough to take their measure. The same would be true in a thousand years even if all plastic production stopped tomorrow.

Cyborgs, the fusion of living and inanimate matter, have become the dominant form of post-industrial life. For now the incorporation is strictly negative for the living bits of us. Cancer, weakened immune systems, congenital deformities, and so on. Who is to say this will always be the case? In a million years or more, our waste and pollution might become as vital to life as carbon. But I digress:

The Silvertine Coast

Only here and nowhere else are the trees silver. Solemn spruces glint in the light of the distant sun (which seems to blind yet never warm) from the Sea of Slush's edge to the Deadline in the west, a winding trail of toxic dirt that cuts a clean demarcation between the silver and the green.

The people of the Coast tend to sickliness, and view growing old with a quiet dread. Most eke out subsistence by farming oats, rye, and cystroot, or by herding caribou. Their most personal possession are their elaborately carved goggles, which shield from the glare off the silver trees. They tend to take heavy matters lightly and light matters seriously. It is said that on the Silvertine Coast life is cheap and precious as fresh air.

1: 'Pon-the-Breach

A town built up around and upon a cyclopean stone bridge that straddles the Deadline, the preferred point of entry for visitors to the Coast. The Deadline itself forms a natural road, through the Chimneys in the south along the way to the Sunken Palace, and north to Thaw. Merchants that have been bullied or swindled off of richer routes come here to trade for trinkets of odd composition and unclear use, which are as common in the Silvertine soil as stones. Mutants too congregate from abroad in 'Pon-the-Breach, for here in the Coast such features are common, their abnormalities seen as no more aberrant than a beauty mark. There is a regrettable exception for those mutants who cannot speak. They are called 'yabos', and hold a position legally equivalent to caribou.

The town is ruled by a carcinomic troll named Thuggy Thorence who lives under its bridge. He maintains a poaching ring, snatching the few exotic yet still delicious game animals from the kinglet's silver woods, and this is known by everyone. Almost no one knows that he's also subverted the royal wardens. On the excuse of pursuing some poacher's lure he can send them on his bidding into the Coast's dens and wreckage, to retrieve the rare still-functioning artifacts of the time when the Silvertine was green.

2: The Sunken Palace

Down past the Chimneys (which aren't volcanoes, but smoke nonetheless) and their rasping packs of Jobby-Lobber Monkeys, you'll see thin towers at the end of the road, sprouting like petrified fungi from sod-mounds. This is the Sunken Palace, which in its relative splendour has been the home of the Silvertine's kinglets for as many generations as anyone besides them can be bothered to remember. Like an iceberg the greatest part of its mass lies in pipes and warrens beneath the surface, the towers reserved for the royal household itself. The servants scurry beneath. The tunnels run farther than anyone knows, and some conspirators who thought their whispers unheard a dozen miles away have been shocked by liveried and mud-caked butlers boiling up from their basement brandishing silverware cleavers.

The kinglets' line is withered, they grow old before they have a chance to be young. In their eyes are silver cataracts that see the will-bes, have-beens, might-have-beens of the Coast (and only of the Coast, they're blind to things from beyond), as though through a shattered mirror or the facets of an insect's compounding. They are quite unhinged from linear reason. Many hold that they have no authority beyond their portents, that true lordship of the Coast lies in the polished hands of the head housekeeper. Certainly the current kinglet has little interest beyond revenging himself upon insults (mention of Thuggy Thorence can drive him into apoplexy), and hosting soirees with fashions and cuisines that have not been popular for centuries, or perhaps never were in this reality.

3: Lake Brine

Scholars surmise that the Sea of Slush once sloshed well beyond the current bounds of the Coast, based on the salty remnant it left in Lake Brine. A blessed remnant it's turned out to be indeed.

Lake Brine rings an accursed island, an island which by royal decree was given a name too sprawling to speak or write in order to limit dissemination of its existence. Of all the ruins in the land those on the island are best preserved. They present a tempting target, for ancient treasures are coveted in all times and places, but the island was not left as a vault for treasures. The steely cylinders entombed in its haunted halls hold death in a thousand kinds. In local legend the kinglets of the Silvertine were once kings, with a kingdom worthy of the title. The kingdom crashed down some misfortunate day when a cylinder was unearthed and cracked. After three nights and a day there were too many dead for the living to bury, pierced through from within and without by growing horns. Since then there have been other cylinders, other plagues, but the population was too thin to incubate such a catastrophe again.

Hopefully the story would disabuse the adventurous of any desire to come to the island, but if you did! Ah, if you did. The Lake's shore is patrolled by the kinglet's men (patrolled thinly now, for this forces are not what they used to be), its depths by hungry multi-mouthed fish that can go so long between eating. In the halls where the cylinders lie: lockdown devices, containment procedures, things that should be dead, things that are dead yet never died.

But why would you come here? Do you seek death? Death for others, death for all? Perhaps you've heard of what the island holds even deeper than its plagues. A snippet of a rumour, from a guy who knows a guy who heard of a guy who died old and happy ages ago. That the island was not just made to hold death, but to cure it. A cure for everything. The panacea.

4: Castle Lily-Blue

Named for the pale lilies that paint the broad shoals of the Sea of Slush, which blush a bright shade of blue in the waters near the castle (the castle itself being grey as lead, or an incandescent cherry-red along its vanes on the warmest days of the year). Castle Lily-Blue sits at a key defensive position against threats coming in from the Sea, whether they be raiders from the archipelago clans, mutant seals, glow-devils, clackety-men, or whatever else is disgorged from the slush, the north of the Coast being shielded by its mountains and high cliffs, the south by its ruptures and worn canals. Even in the deadest night of winter the castle is warm, its moat steaming.

By tradition that's lasted longer than any power has held it (and the castle, or at least its foundation, has stood for a very, very long time), the fortress is garrisoned by twins, and triplets, and all the other human litters (a common occurrence here), and such service holds perhaps the highest honour on the Coast. Even the castle's yabos enjoy a level of privilege. The popular explanation for this practice is that its warriors will fight most courageously in defense of their closest blood. There is a deeper, less heroic truth. So many of the enemies fought by the garrison carry a taint (and more cynical voices claim the castle itself does too), a repulsive taint which warps and kills the body. But it does this in pieces, and it makes the pieces more malleable. It makes them transferable. Healthy parts can be moved to one body, tainted parts to another. The procedure is more successful the closer the relation between participants. A term of service of years can be extended to decades, and veterans are needed for the enemies they face.

It's said that the lilies grow blue around the castle because the coldest of all hells lies beneath it, and the flowers root in the frozen flesh of the damned. The oldest in the garrison, those who've seen their siblings disappear into their flesh, scoff at this rumour. They know the hell beneath the castle is sweltering, guttering with bale-fire.

5: Mount Curly

A sailor worth their salt on the Sea of Slush has little need for maps. They've learned the songs of Mount Curly rebounding off the cliffs, that have a particular tone and tempo in every nook and corner. The mountain, as befits its name, has been carved through in sweeping curls that act like an enormous instrument played by the northern wind.

The Sea of Slush's name comes from the strange property of its water, which once frozen is reluctant to return to fluid. Its currents are choked with icebergs. A cold skin of slush floats across the whole of its surface. Ships built to sail it bear sharp and heavy prows to break through it all.

In a land which holds little sacred Mount Curly has maintained an alien reverence simply because it can't be approached without thickly stuffing one's ears. The songs rise to such a volume as to burst your ears bloody at its foot otherwise. To attempt its peak would see your eyes rattled from your skull two-thirds up. So who built those grand structures all that way past the scream-line? What treasures might lie within? How do the shaggy-goats that pepper its scree caper so carelessly from top to bottom?

6: The Silvertine Archipelago

The archipelago clans are quite unlike the people of the rest of the Coast in thought, prone to morbid recursiveness and obsession with past slights and lost glories. Their tale-tellers recall such wonders as to rival anything in the visions of the silver-eyed kinglets: flying ships, arrows that fly through walls and armour to strike the living down, middens transformed to cornucopias, a war that split the world in two.

The clans dwell in ruins that mainlanders would fear to tread (and for good reason). A household might crampedly fill a tenth of a monolithic building, the rest abandoned as the "attic" where fume-crazed uncles holler and scamper. The cloud-scraping tower where the clans' patriarch-of-patriarchs holds court takes this to an extreme. Perhaps 1% of the place is even reliably mapped. Entire regimes have been overthrown because a feast-party was lost taking a wrong turn. It also has a great glass sphere suspended above it. The sphere can shoot laser beams, or at least it could if anyone were able to reach the control room at the tower's peak.

Besides their attitudes, Silvertiners don't tend to put a lot of stock in islander vs. mainlander identity, or in loyalty to the kinglet or patriarch. When the slush freezes deep enough you can walk from island to shore. Life is short and life is full, and someone might go from raider to herder to soldier to sailor in a single lifetime.

The further south and east you go, the closer the depths encroach on the water's surface. The sea turns lightless black, and the waves flop like dead fish (occasionally bursting up with hull-cracking force), driven by the churning of immense pressures rather than any wind. Peek overboard and glimpse sinuous bulks limned in phosphorescence. Pray that today is not a day they can come too close to the open air. Pray that you make it through, to a faster shipping route, to the hidden isles of the clackety-men, to the shining underwater cities of myth, to whatever desperate wish has brought you to this end of the earth.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

D20x5 Barefaced Banks

Cash money ain't nothin' funny

To automate the rolling of a list of your own, go here:

D20This bank was founded:
1On the order of a monarch to stimulate their nation’s economy.
2By a prospector who chanced upon a huge silver deposit.
3By a criminal syndicate to help launder their funds.
4By a retired adventurer with their amassed wealth.
5By a merchant who swore off travelling the trade routes themself after a disastrous expedition.
6Under mysterious circumstances. It seemed to simply appear one day.
7By an infamous mercenary after they collected several nobles’ ransoms at once.
8By a cult dedicated to a god of greed.
9By some ditch-diggers who discovered an ancient accounting machine.
10By a prelate who pilfered the donations of the pious.
11By a dragon to effortlessly multiply their hoard.
12By an inveterate, unnaturally lucky gambler.
13By the anti-echo of a god of finance to bring itself into existence.
14By a jaded lich who sought amusement in banality.
15By an entrepreneurial dryad entranced by the idea of millennia of compounding returns.
16By triplet-sisters who murdered each other for the controlling share.
17By a crashed alien AI as the first step of its rigourously computed plan to return to the stars.
18In secret, at first lending only to conspiracies.
19By a thieves’ guild going legit.
20By a spidery fairy-creature to expand their web of promises.
D20This bank’s headquarters:
1Is a spiralling tower that goes as far down below the earth as it does above.
2Is a fortress converted from war to commerce, though no less impregnable for it.
3Can only be accessed by a series of enchanted keys. Each further key can take you deeper into their vaults.
4Is said to be haunted by the bound ghosts of those who never fulfilled their contract to the bank.
5Is encased in ice, to better preserve the property they hold.
6Is protected by physical layers of bureaucracy, a paper fortress.
7Is carved into the beached corpse of a dragon-turtle.
8Is an entire town dedicated to the bank, the inhabitants raised from birth as its clerks and accountants.
9Is a dungeon carved down to the roots of a mountain. In its depths lurk things even the bank has forgotten.
10Is a repurposed pyramid complex, its grave goods used for seed capital, its restful dead chopped up and used for firewood.
11Lie in the tangled throats of a petrified hydra.
12Is secreted and ever-expanded by specially-bred molluscs.
13Is built on land dredged up from the seabed, an artificial promontory.
14Is slung beneath a fleet of airships, always on the move.
15Is built with pearly gates, gold-tiled floors, and fountains of rosewater: an imitation of heaven on earth.
16Is built in stacked, mirrored rings, so that a few properly situated guards can see everything that goes on within.
17Is a decoy. The bank’s real executive functions are conducted not-quite-covertly at a beerhall nearby.
18Can in desperate times be animated as a massive golem, though this consumes large quantities of expensive magical fuels.
19Keeps its vaults flooded, accessible (in theory) only by its staff of fish-men.
20Has recently been devastated by a roc seeking to steal some shinies.
D20This bank has a reputation for:
1Using the letter of agreements to drain their spirits.
2Enslaving those debtors who default.
3Being able to purchase anything.
4Funding the construction of monuments for positive publicity.
5Grinding even their own employees down to nubs.
6Taking payment in more gruesome means.
7Pursuing profit no matter the risk, loaning for any endeavour.
8Dealing with the more contract-abiding sort of maleficar.
9Internal corruption, containing many greasable wheels.
10Knowing no discrimination except against lack of liquidity.
11Gathering all the occult knowledge and artifacts they can get their hands on.
12Generous charity.
13Investing in underground fighting rings and other criminal enterprises.
14Incompetence and nepotism.
15Employing spies to gather market intel and sabotage competitors.
16Exploiting the ignorant and desperate.
17Attempting to use their economic power to acquire other sorts of power, bribing priests and princes.
18Ostentatious displays of wealth to prove their success.
19Funding all sides in a war to profit regardless of who wins.
20Collusion with certain noble families for mutual enrichment.
D20This bank wishes to fund:
1An expedition to the lands of the dead, to contact a deceased relative of its founder(s).
2A voyage to the place where the sun rises.
3The construction of an impregnable vault. Experts in security and details of treasure-protection measures will be well compensated by them.
4The construction of an artificial calculator-mind.
5The breeding of dogs able to smell debt.
6Their chairman’s ascension to autocratic domination.
7A monopolistic takeover of all other banks.
8The retrieval of an artifact-ring which spawns yet more rings every night. It’s terrible for inflation.
9The arming of an insurrection to replace the current government with one more amenable to their profit.
10The raising of an island from the sea, beyond the reach of law and taxes.
11Some industrial espionage to steal the craft secrets of the dwarves.
12The construction of a tower that stretches to heaven, to advertise their wealth to all on earth.
13A convocation of the greatest artists of the age, to patronize art that will glorify commerce unto the end of time.
14A heist on the Akashic Records, to steal the Platonic principles of banking.
15The breaking out of a devil that has been bound in a saint’s tomb for centuries, in return for its eternal service as a lawyer.
16The adoption of a fiat system of currency which it will control the supply of.
17The founding of a university unrivalled by any other under heaven, to educate a labour pool of shrewd professionals.
18The discovery of the cure for a plague ravaging the land, so the bank can win profit and influence by metering it out.
19A mass acquisition of letters patent bestowing nobility, to merge the bank’s bourgeoisie into the aristocracy.
20A theological revolution in the Church, to make usury more pleasing to God.
D20This bank collects debts:
1With a gold-skinned, many-mouthed demon. It’s said the founder bound it to the bank’s service, though which serves which in the current day is ambiguous.
2Withs its junior members, recruited from the cream of protection racket-running crops.
3With retriever-golems cast from runed silver.
4With flesh-eating beetles that have evolved to resemble precious coins.
5With government forces in their pocket with bribes.
6With consummately professional and deadly mercenaries.
7Politely and effectively, from fear of the horrific punishments they inflict on those few who do default.
8With doppelgängers of their debtors, bought from the other side of mirrors with the promise that they’ll be able to take over their copy’s life afterwards.
9With their own private secret police force, experts in the breaking of bodies and minds.
10Only sometimes, and they’re failing as a result.
11By requiring its borrowers to imbibe a slow-acting venom, and handing out doses of the antidote with repayment.
12By raising the corpses of debtors to work their debt off if they have to.
13With barbarian sellswords who sneer at the concept of currency (paid in cattle).
14With lobotomized drakes.
15In pounds of flesh if the gold won’t suffice.
16With mobs of other debtors, promised a waiver of repayment if they bring in the target.
17With squads of homunculi that are legally the property of the bank.
18An order of warrior-monks who believe that dying while saddled with debt weighs down one’s souls.
19With loathsome haunting spirits of guilt and shame.
20With brutish orphans raised to view the bank as their parent and master, riding giant magpies.

Friday, April 3, 2020

D6x6 Wanton Wyverns

If you’re one of those people who debate whether a magic flying reptile is a dragon or a wyvern, there’s still hope for you. You can change.

D6 This wyvern has
1 an iron collar dangling a broken chain around its neck, and the names of those it’s killed carved in sharp calligraphy on its scales.
2 a drooling serpent’s head at the tip of its tail.
3 an arrow sunken into its crusty, infected left eye.
4 snaggled, needle-like teeth.
5 noxious green and yellow stripes.
6 a smooth, black carapace instead of scales.
D6 This wyvern’s poison
1 ignites its victims’ blood within their veins.
2 corrodes its victims’ intellect until they’re too dim to breath.
3 turns its victims’ bodies into leathery-skinned eggs that hatch into more wyverns.
4 eats light and annihilates living matter into nothingness.
5 infects its victims and those they come into contact to with a mindless rage.
6 acts as a mutual treacle if one takes it at the same time that they’re affected by another lethal poison. Otherwise it’s still deadly.
D6 This wyvern prefers to hunt
1 by corralling smaller prey in tight quarters so they can’t flank it.
2 by bursting out of ambush in a precarious environment for prey that can’t fly.
3 by charging in to panic its prey and fly off with the weakest-seeming member of the group.
4 by stalking prey from a distance until they’re worn down enough to be easy pickings.
5 by dive-bombing prey from out of the blue.
6 by driving herds to trample and tenderize its true prey.
D6 This wyvern’s territory
1 is the foothills around a bald mountain.
2 is a wasteland stalked by basilisks.
3 is a salt-lashed atoll.
4 is a will-o’-wisp-haunted fen.
5 is a rolling steppe where kurgans loom.
6 has its boundary marked out by mutilated corpses impaled on snapped trees.
D6 This wyvern’s nest
1 is littered with stolen eggs, some now hatched into hybrid abominations.
2 is made from the bones of its prey, melted together by its vitriolic saliva.
3 is home to a fresh brood of hungry, chirping young.
4 is decorated with primitive sculptures of claw-carved rocks.
5 is dug in a deep warren protected by false routes, deadfall traps, and a swarm of symbiotic beetles that live off its scraps.
6 floats in a pond of scummy, parasite-infested water.
D6 People might pay you to hunt this wyvern because
1 they believe it’s a true dragon and desire its miraculous heartblood.
2 if it’s not stopped soon its predation of their herds will drive them to starvation.
3 their local hero fell in battle against it and they desire the return of the magic weapon that hero wielded.
4 they believe it’s responsible for poisoning their crops. It is not. A witch is behind that, and behind scapegoating the wyvern as well.
5 it’s been scaring away the caravans they rely on for vital trade.
6 they want it captured alive so they can tame it and ride it into battle.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Q1 Slush Pile Dump (AKA Slush Pile Dump 2)

Thinking of making this a quarterly thing

A premature Last Day, the souls of the dead imperfectly returned, their bodies imperfectly changed

God’s love kills before it resurrects, it is suffered, an alien righteousness that births a new heart in the sinner’s chest (literally though)

“God is not the one who is changed in the bread and wine, the sinner is, and the change is more radical than the sinner could possibly want, since it puts you to death” (again, cooler if literal)

“Man's damnation is willed thrice: first by God, then by the devil and finally by himself.”

“The magic in which the zero, the ascetic, may in some way equal or surpass the infinite king”

The Wizard’s Tower, its footsteps trod by young men, only the oldest and wisest (or perhaps the most willing to push others off the path) ascending to the far-seeing tip

“From now on I have no kingdom, or my kingdom is limitless; from now on my body does not belong to me or the whole earth belongs to me”

Moth-creatures that eat fate, or linear time, or some other thread-like thing
-The larva is Clotho, the moth is Atropos?

The throne is the land, the crown is the people, together by the body of the king they are united and realized, the material and ideal kingdom instantiated

An imprisoned angel who weeps gold/waters of youth/super-heroin, exposed to torturous sights to maintain a steady supply

Rationalism, universality, internet, writing, abstract thought as vulgar Platonic ascension, not becoming capable of contemplating the Forms but standardizing, rendering legible the Forms, dragging them down to materiality

Necromancy is a corrupt imitation of the Day of Resurrection

The whole of the universe is the abortion of Sophia, the grief and terror of Sophia Achamoth. Chaos is the raw, unbound passions beyond the demiurge’s control.

A magically cold sword which freezes its wielder’s hand to its grip until washed with fresh blood.

The king of deathly green

City held up by half-buried stone giants, moving very very slowly, but accelerating. Faces look pissed.

Naturally intangible, invisible monster that must shift into reality before it attacks, fading back soon after

A king sat atop his palanquin carried by seven wisemen. Serpents coil about their shoulders. The wisemen whisper in the serpents’ ears, who rise to repeat their words to the king.

A hermit’s castle of pebbles mortared by her own spittle, built over a lifetime of loneliness, haunted by the ghosts of those she left behind.

All things began with water, darkness, abyss, and chaos. Water and darkness begat dream. Darkness and the abyss begat demons. The abyss and chaos begat entropy. Chaos and water begat life.

The Strangling Strait that exudes a suffocating, invisible miasma, and the lanternheads* on its point that speak with their shining eyes (right lid half-closed, left brow raised, alternating flashes of one second each is “fuck off”)
*Like lanternfish/creature from the black lagoon things, still considered human for complex theological/cultural reasons. Good at holding their breath.
The Strait is sailed by very tall pontoons, or unbelievably risky submarines

Soft Eggs, ooze-like creatures that are the fertilized, shell-less eggs of a species of large bird. The unfertilized eggs are worth a fortune.

From Beethoven’s Ninth: Fire-drunk, wings enclosing; all within are reconciled (become brothers?), the worm’s ecstasy, dividing fashion/uniting nature

Incantation to summon/bind/banish demon (modular?) hidden in parts throughout dungeon. Demon is boss monster, potential to extort boons, banish it forever, or release it from the dungeon based on exploration and ability to decipher language puzzle.

Dungeon with releasable/already released singulo (as SS13)

“Bridge” in dungeon that’s a giant sword laid blade-up across a chasm (have we done this one already?)

Puzzles/traps inspired by Tartarean/hellish ironic punishments (Tantalusish ration tree that gives phantom healing, Sisyphean Indiana Jones rock trap, etc.)

Dungeon in the secret mechanisms beneath a “miraculous” ever-turning mill (that grinds out salt and gold dust too?)

Acting becomes too associated with prostitution (undercutting the prostitute’s guild), banned and replaced by puppet theatre, leading to an underground performance scene and the unfortunate genesis of “love puppets”

“Don't you agree that I should laugh at these pictures painted by such a lunatic painter? Achamoth, a female and yet the image of the Father; the Demiurge, ignorant of his mother—not to mention of his Father—yet representing Nus who is not ignorant of his Father; the angels, the reproductions of their masters. This is the same as counterfeiting a fake...”
See also: Kill la Kill
“This is the power of those so-called imitations of yours!”
[Ambiguous plays]

Contemporary Grimoires:
  1. What I Saw At My Lai: The Testimony of a New Illuminate
  2. dr_ogufebwe_real_black_magic_secrets.mp5
  3. Pozzed by God
  4. The Whispers in Our Genes
  5. Court Transcript of the “Cicada Killer” Trial
  6. We Programmed This Neural Net With The Collected Works of Abdul Al-Hazred, And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!
  7. Addressing the Thorniest Problems of Morphological, Epistemological, and Ethical Freedom in the Coming Age
  8. It’s a meme and every variant of the meme created by those infected by it inadvertently reveals another fragment of the grimoire (the 3,000 year old cooltist, “AAAGH!! I’M GONNA FUCKIN SUMMOOOOOON!!”)
  9. Internet archive of an urban explorer’s MySpace page with grainy photos of pre-human graffiti in derelict subway tunnels
  10. Bojack Horseman Lost Episode Revealled?! [True Nihilism Warning]
  11. Liberating the Voices of Marginalized Bodies Denied Humanity in Liminal Spaces Between Death and Dreaming
  12. Recordings of Anomalous Signal from PSR J2222-0137 Between the Hours of 3:00 and 5:00 on March 15, 2015

The elohim could not conceive of murder until they witnessed Cain marked by Abel’s blood

Magic weapons are either cursed, made by human hands to end human life, or defiled, tools of the gods turned to killing.
Corollary: the lance is the cross is the Tower of Babel is Horos is that which holds apart the world from true divinity (which would incinerate it otherwise)

“Sufficiently advanced aliens are indistinguishable from nature”
-Mountain ranges that are colonial silicon-based organisms, speak with tectonic vibrations, war with each other by firing volcano-boring subcontinental cruise missiles through the mantle
-Thoughts swift as wind encoded in the micro-turbulence of an ever-turning hurricane
-Dark matter dreaming of a lightless era past the death of every star, warded from radiation and the worst of entropy’s theft
-An elder god cloaked within the event horizon of a supermassive black hole, manipulating its gamma emissions with hyperprecision to set events in motion that will reverse the expansion of the universe into contraction, ending in a Big Crunch which only it will survive
-Creature like a membrane stretched astronomical units across, feeds on pre-interstellar civilizations by first stretching around the planet/system and projecting camouflage inwards of a lifeless universe
-Synthetic supermassive element so complex in its decay it generates a brief and brilliant fully-formed mind
-Technorganic nanomachines lurking among strands of junk DNA, nudging the evolution of their host biosphere, a duet of intelligent design and natural selection with movements spanning hundreds of millions of years

Lazaret dungeon, something bad went down inside after a rich shipment came in and nobody else is brave enough to check

Why is that starfish latched to that man’s face?
  1. That’s his wife
  2. Sharing lunch
  3. Laying eggs in his stomach
  4. Fashion statement
  5. Manservant carrying aquatic master about
  6. Man-shaped tumour growing on unfortunate starfish

Die drop encounter table, drop on pictures/stat blocks of the monsters, number on die is number appearing(?), size of pictures proportional to encounter frequency

Cursed sword that tarnishes the treasure of any creature it kills to worthlessness

Reverse-lich that becomes the vessel of an object’s soul (the withered librarian cobwebbed in the attic, skin like old and yellowed paper, the prize of her collection a grimoire without worms or mildew, its illumination as brilliant as the day it was written; the sculptor stiff as stone buried inside a wall, eyes screaming, his mural unweathered, the prize of a dozen empires taken from palace to palace)

Viral innocence that wipes the slate of the soul clean

Cursed object that spreads plague when used, first to those exposed to its effect, then to people close to its wielder, then to everyone nearby

Pandora’s box dungeon, hidden treasure is Hope, monsters & traps are previously unknown evils (if you thought stubbing your toe was bad wait until finger-stubbing is released)

Dungeon that is fantasy equivalent of the Clock of the Long Now, interactables revolve around altering time, parallel timelines, playing with spacetime/gravity

Amber is sap-amber, and preserved within it are prehistoric creatures. Jewels are magma-amber, and preserved within them are premythological gods and spirits. _____ is blood-amber, and preserved within it is _____(?)

(Paraphrasing from reddit comment): “The purpose of the bible isn’t to exclude people from the kingdom of heaven, but to break down its doors” - Saviour-religion based on hacking progenitor, legalistic cosmology

The Lord Insouciant, special position of especial detachment from the population, a hermit-noble in exquisite isolation, called on to make (or be an excuse for) the Real Hard Choices where an (in theory) impartial voice is needed

Demon-mochi made from pulverized human bones

Hall of mirrors dungeon (or dungeon sub-section), each room is the reflection of a mirror, with a particular distortion on those things it reflects

Desert transformed into psychedelic meadows by rain from clouds of spirit-opium exhaled by giant monks in the mountains

Underworld/Wilderness/City as the three fundamental world-forces of the universe, vying against each other through their agents (monsters/druids/adventurers respectively). Also those are the alignments. Or maybe agent types aren’t tied to location, instead alignment grid is monster/druid/adventurer + underworld/wilderness/city.

Barber/serial killer/merchant, gums overflowing with stolen teeth, sells the inventory of a random NPC in the area (who he has murdered)

Fish-merchant who can be summoned by sprinkling special bait in any body of water large enough to fit it. Sells treasure you’ve missed or lost.

Unworldly nations - the ‘building tall’ vs. the worldly ‘building wide’ - if there are entities (gods, spirits, etc.) that value anthropocentric expressions of morality, purity, etc., then nations that eke our existence specializing in those things rather than commerce, slavery, industry, and so on

An enlightened stag, self-lobotomized into sapience by his own ingrown antlers, the vizier of the forest

Bazaar that’s overgrown into a city-within-a-city, an impossible tangle of tents and awnings ruled by austere monks untemptable by the bazaar-city’s delights.

Magic item like rosary beads, each containing a world in miniature. Praying over a bead releases its world, and makes the world outside play by its exotic rules for a while (low gravity, acid rain, all monsters encountered are friends, etc.)

Beautiful and poisonous fabric woven from the hair-fine tentacles of a particular species of jellyfish

Cloister of eremites who seal themselves in the eggs of a sort of giant betta-like fish, floating half-submerged on the surface of a lake, the fish “kissing” enough food through the egg membrane to keep them alive - eremites mutate into simple-minded, angelic fish-hybrids after a while?

“Concentric garden” biome composed of plants sort of like giant allelopathic onions, each ring cradling within it soil purged of other plants, fungus, small animals, etc. Each “onion” cultivates a space for its symbiotic servitor species, which war with other “onions” for territory.

Explosive eusocial cave-dwelling cockroaches that eat bat shit and fill their abdominal cavity with gunpowder

Mobile plant like a living windmill, uses sails derived from tumbleweed-like organ to build energy in organic springs for rapid movement

Ultraviolet cosmetics painted on like flower petals, derived from hunting strategies to lure insects/hummingbirds into one’s mouth

Like the seven colours of the visible spectrum, the seven deadly sins are “refracted” forms of an original undivided sin. Some theoretical hamartiologists also posit the existence of infra- and ultrasins, which can be committed without perceptible action.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Picture Pong: The Endinning of the Begend

One day even protons will decay. We come ever closer:

If every human being on this planet were to die tomorrow, how long would our faces last?

A few days, a few weeks before bloat and maggots wrecked them beyond recognition? Not much better if the bodies landed in a desert, or a bog (or do you think you could recognize even your own mother's face stretched on a mummy's skull?). Paint, ink, paper, electronics, these too fade away over a thin timeframe. Wood, stone, plaster, ceramics, are all far more fortitudinous.

If we were to disappear (overnight, or slowly but surely), and someone else were to find us after, they would not know us by our faces, but by our masks.

The same should be true for any other species.

Pictured is one such mask. It looks like flesh, it feels like flesh (but don't touch - it bites!), yet some fortuitous conjunction of craftsmanship and environment has preserved it through unknown eons, preserved the shape of those it was made in the image of. It also talks.

The mask is something like a wearable animatronic, for a genre of something like theatre. It depicts a stock character (the closest translation of which might be "Triumphant General"). The General can recite a wealth of speeches, marching songs, flattering national myths, and so on. It is also programmed to adapt to local dialects. Whoever wears the General becomes the God-Commander of the resurgent island-nation it was found off the coast of back when its population was mostly pearl divers, so long as they behave according to the unspoken public understanding of how the God-Commander should behave.

This island-nation's linguists are peerless. From the General's garbled dialogue they've extracted an entire culture's military doctrine. Their streets are warped and overlapping to accommodate victory processions adapted from an amphibious environment, and they have had many victory processions. Soldiers bear home bushels of loot in bizarre costumes cut down for human frames.

Their paleoarchaeologists hope to catch up. The locations of forts and fallen cities too are recorded by the General, obscured as they are by the tectonic shuffle. If one mask survived in such a condition, how many weapons could have done the same?

How would the makers of the General react, seeing the descendants of creatures that might have been nothing more than tree-shrews in their time ride a tide of conquest by its words? Was its entire character some satire we don't have the context to comprehend? The General chortles, "Death is nothing. Glory is forever".

& now your image, should you choose to accept it:

Monday, March 23, 2020

Picture Pong: Donkey Pong

1. Mirages are not native to every desert. If they lived (truly lived, like us or bacteria), they could be said to be an invasive species. Somewhere there is an origin. A mother of all mirages.

2. The sands around Vorlith are golden, yet the people of Vorlith are not rich. They are loath to trade anything that is not absolutely vital.

3. The people of Vorlith are defenseless, yet they remain unconquered. Vorlith is the necropolis of emperors.

4. The root of suffering is desire. The fruit of desire is suffering, in its attainment, in its lack. Like matter and energy, the two are equivalent, they are interchangeable.

5. As a bacterium is the most basic agent of decay, a mirage is the most basic agent of this interchange.

But I digress.

Those black and shaggy spirits are incubi. Loping through the heat-haze, they are oft mistaken for jackals, with whom they share a scavenger's aspect. A mirage might take the desperate thirst of a man lost among the dunes, and in return give him a phantom of water. An incubus, alike to the mirage as worm to bacterium, deals in flesh, and fleshly desires. Their scope is not merely sex, as the puritan would have you believe, but all desires which lie deeper in the body than the rational mind: to escape predation, to protect and nurture children, to eat one's fill of fats, salt, and sugar, and yes, sex too, and many others besides.

They are called incubi, "the ones who lie above", because they are believed to exist above the deep, unfathomable web of desire and suffering. Not so. It is their essence, and they feel it perhaps more keenly than any living creature that relies on wet biology to feel. And so they trade in flesh, because they envy it, because it obsesses them, because they would let it bind them.

-A royal couple cry to the night winds for heirs. An incubus slips into their chamber, invisibly reaches to pluck of their organs. From these viands it shapes twins, one for the couple and one to remain with itself. The twins grow strong, the couple weakens, and on the day of their death and their rightful child's coronation, the other twin appears and makes a bid for the throne. Strife spreads faster than wildfire, and the incubus reaps a bounty of desperate flesh.-

The infant they bear is a messiah. The downtrodden in Vorlith wear their chains heavier than ever, shed blood and tears enough for the incubi. They consider their dues already paid, and need only listen to the hopes and bitter wishes of their clients to finish shaping the final product. The inchoate creature is human, in part, but it is also the need for a leader, to be led. How it will lead the people of Vorlith, what it will lead them to, depends on the morass of their collective psyche.

These incubi are among the elites of their kind. Their hearts beat sun-warmed blood through a patchwork of stolen veins. Their minds are meat as much as the airy substance of spirits, and so when they listen to the people of Vorlith pray to a higher power, they recognize, they remember. These incubi will stay in the city, watch the progress of their messiah, and learn how to honour their creator. Only then will they return to the deepest part of the desert, that hole where reality and illusion collapse into one. They will return to the place where all their kind were born, and honour their creator.

Is this an image, or a delusion of the human mind when confronted with a profusion of pixels? Regardless:

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

Picture Pong: Things Have Learnt to Ping that Ought to Pong

Waha! The incoherence of the incoherence of the philosophers is laid bare:

And lo! A figure strides:

A Laingmaiden of Mount Gigantomachus, about town on flaneurial diversion.

You might assume that the collared hyena our subject follows would be a pet. You would be grievously mistaken! That hyena is no less than a sacred guide, a conduit for the venerated Gnawsome Force (also less commonly called Greater Entropy, the entropy that cracks bones, shakes the earth, and kills suns, as opposed to the reviled Lesser Entropy which contents itself with smelly decay). Its laughter, bites, and defecation are each contemplated as revealed omens for different spheres.

The elegant elongation of this Laingmaiden's body means that when she was a child she found employ (and modification) as a cat, which on Mount Gigantomachus is a pest-catching profession rather than an animal, as the animal is deemed offensive and competitory to hyenas. Her fellow Langmaidens may also once have been cats, or storkalikes, lookafars, scaffs, or octobassists.

Her white lower mask, carved from the stone of a chaplain, indicates her virginal status (virginity on Mount Gigantomachus being understood as not having passed beneath the Hymenopteran Gate to seek the counsel of the Black Queen and Yellow King, and so having to carry one of their young to term in exchange). For another adulomorph this might be a sign of lack of ambition, immaturity, or counter-cultural rebellion, but Laingmaidens are ill-suited for childbearing, whether their own or someone else's, and so it may simply be a prudently healthy choice.

Her upper mask, wooden and close-lipped, tilted to stare at the sky, indicates a desire to become a seer (together, the upper and lower masks reflect the higher and lowers souls: as one is, physical existence: below; as one wishes to be, spiritual existence: above). That she places it so high on her hat means this Laingmaiden believes acceptance into apprenticeship by a master seer is close. The unbroken circle her hair is bound in is unorthodox, heretical even depending on the viewer. The circle is entropy defeating itself, an ending that merely results in a new beginning.

The woman's earrings symbolize nothing. They are just stylish.

By the swirling beigeness of the wall behind her we can tell this Laingmaiden is "slumming it" in the Footman District, so-called because it was constructed from the numerous and sparsely equipped bodies of the stone giants surmised to be common footmen.

-A Digression: Mount Gigantomachus was no ordinary mountain, but an open mass grave of stone giants broken upon each others' fists, mauls, and picks. The first of the followers of the Gnawsome Force in the area found a few maddened survivors, and swiftly dismantled them and the bodies to construct the piled city also called Mount Gigantomachus, though outside urban legend the giants are now nothing more than rubble foundations and dwindling quarries.-

The Footman District is a place for foreigners, unappealing industries like leather-making or fermentation, discontinued adulomorphs, and the people who resided on Mount Gigantomachus before the coming of the Gnawsomites, relegated to squatters in their own homeland. Among that latter group are insurgent zealots who call themselves Kosmocorpii, self-mutilators who believe their maimed states makes them a mirror of the Godhead (who must be maimed, else how could evil (and also linear time, though that belief is more obscure for understandable reasons) exist?). Perhaps this Langmaiden wields a wicked knife to defend herself from such, or perhaps she's seeking the human bones that are always in demand by seers, to be crunched by their hyenas.

And now for something completely different: