Sunday, February 5, 2023

D6x6 Worrisome Wights


Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here: http://meanderingbanter.blogspot.com/2018/10/automatic-list-to-html-translator-v2.html

D6This wight is
1redolent with the scents of thyme and lavender. Its abdomen is stitched up and leaks aromatic sawdust every time it’s hit.
2eyeless. The top half of its skull is pierced through with dozens of impossibly deep and lightless pinpricks that drain colours from the vision of those that look into them.
3coated by grave mold like greenish-grey fur.
4flayed, wearing a cloak of others’ skins over shrivelled jerky-muscles.
5covered in faded tattoos of battles, feasts, and hunts.
6outfit with outdated armour, uniformly red with rust and dried blood.
D6This wight’s grave
1is a mountain of a cairn, festooned with goat shit and weeds peeking through its cracks.
2is a pyramidal urban sepulchre, stuffed well beyond capacity by the dead of centuries past.
3has been dug downwards from its coffin into a dismal warren shared with worms and blind crawling jackals.
4is a tiered mound of earth entombing the wight in their house. In the layers below are the similarly buried houses of the wight’s forefathers.
5is a shaft dug into a scenic hillside, with a false fore-grave hiding the bigger and better stocked aft-grave.
6is a ritual site with chambers replicating the steps of passage into the afterlife for the culture that built it.
D6In this wight’s grave
1is a golden death-mask that allows its wearer to see and speak with the spirits of the dead.
2is an obsidian awl that can bore miniscule holes into the underworld.
3is a burial shroud that lets the one it's wrapped around play dead perfectly, on a metaphysical level.
4is a pool of putrescent sludge that instantly decays anything it makes contact with - and within that is shiny treasure.
5are ingots of kaldanium, a metal that radiates life-eroding and undeath-sustaining negative energy like uranium radiates gamma rays.
6is a time-addled ghost. It’s a confused though valuable primary source for history.
D6This wight can
1recall the names and mimic the faces of everyone you’ve killed.
2thicken darkness to a tarry consistency.
3grow and manipulate its own hair and nails.
4reduce the ambient temperature around it to a freezing cold.
5speak secret syllables that extinguish light.
6contort itself in ways that would be excruciating or lethal to a living person.
D6In local legend, this wight
1is a bogeyman used to scare children into obedience.
2is said to be a crown prince killed by his jealous brothers, benevolent in life but turned foul in death.
3can be mollified by presenting it with articles that once belonged to its lost love.
4is sworn to defend the land against foreign invaders, and so tolerated because of this.
5was sealed away by the ancestors of the land's ruling family, thus legitimizing their reign.
6broke a bargain with the Devil, and is cursed to linger in an excruciating half-life until they fulfill their end.
D6Those killed by this wight
1rapidly fill up with corpse-gas until they explode.
2are bound to become its slaves in hell.
3become puppets attached go it by leathery nerves.
4have their souls absorbed into the wight, healing and empowering it.
5are sealed inside their corpses, unable to pass on, unable to do anything but flail and rage from the metaphysical agony.
6take the place of its soul within its rotting shell while it becomes free to go on to its final reward.

Thursday, February 2, 2023

D6x6 Beholden Beholders

Click the button below to generate your beholder:


Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here: http://meanderingbanter.blogspot.com/2018/10/automatic-list-to-html-translator-v2.html

D6 This beholder is
1 a Peeping Tom punished by God.
2 an electromagnetic entity emitted by a distant star, trapped in the flesh it irradiated.
3 kin to the hecatoncheires, air support to their vanguard, titanic solider of a primordial conflict.
4 a malfunctioning biological Von Neumann probe.
5 the severed head of a dreaded sorcerer-king that’s gotten strange since its separation from its body.
6 an obsessive, murderous art critic whose twisted soul warped their body into a more fitting form.
D6 This beholder has
1 a slack, low-hanging jaw, a tongue that protrudes out of its mouth, and long, translucent teeth like a viperfish.
2 parasitic worms infesting its eyeballs, and an alternate, parasite-driven personality it lapses into sometimes.
3 golden bangles worn around its eye-stalks, and bejewelled piercings studding its brow.
4 countless tiny eyes bumping up underneath its flesh, pressing skin translucent-thin.
5 handsome, chiselled features and a thick mane of hair.
6 an exposed, rippling brain.
D6 This beholder’s eye-rays
1 bear a myriad of elemental effects: burning, freezing, shattering stone, warping wood, and so on. The colour of an eye's iris suggests the effect of its ray.
2 copy the spells of wizards it's eaten. Each of its eye-stalks bears the distorted features of an eaten wizard.
3 obscure its sight - it's always firing blind, so it fires them rapidly and indiscriminately.
4 will explode if they're made to cross streams.
5 will be diffused into merely colourful light shows if the eyes that fire them are made to tear up.
6 operate by refracting ambient light - in the dark they're powerless (though the beholder would still have a bite that could bisect an armoured man).
D6 This beholder’s lair
1 is filled with mirrors and amateurish sculptures of itself.
2 is a network of dust-choked qanats, cisterns, and wells that's difficult to navigate if you can't fly.
3 is a great pyramid used as a tomb by an ancient dynasty - now their mummies are posed in tableaus of supplication towards the beholder.
4 lies in a blister of volcanic glass - a naturally-formed greenhouse holding a paradisiacal garden atop a snow-crowned mountain.
5 sits on top of a razor-sided pillar of karst.
6 is a lighthouse on an islet surrounded by rough waters and sharp reefs.
D6 This beholder acts
1 like a scenery-chewing ham, always on the verge of some megalomaniacal monologue.
2 as though it is the most beautiful creature in all creation, and reacts with rage to contradictions to its self-image.
3 like a stereotypical spymaster, lurking about and whispering vague insinuations, pretending as though it knows all your dirty secrets.
4 as a voyeur and unethical psychologist, desiring to dissect and subject people to extremes to see how they react.
5 as a micromanaging minister, wanting to govern and render legible every aspect of its supposed domain.
6 like a mob boss who's gone mostly legit, genial on the surface but with the potential for brutal violence simmering beneath the surface.
D6 Something you could loot from this beholder
1 are wands using its secondary eyes as lenses.
2 is its floatation-bladder, easily refined into flying potions.
3 is the cornea of its primary eye, which can be cured and turned into a spell-absorbing shield.
4 is its vitreous fluid, a key ingredient in potions and bombs that manipulate light and darkness.
5 is its nutrient-rich blood, which if injected into your cheeks would allow you to survive decapitation long enough to be transplanted onto another body.
6 is the frenulum of its tongue, which could be worked into the bowstring of a silent bow, or some other magical object that manipulates sound or language.

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Mud Flood Dungeonry

"With a rumble so low as to be inaudible, growing, throbbing, then fuming into a thundering roar, the earthquake starts..... only it's not like any earthquake in recorded history.

In California the mountains shake like ferns in a breeze; the mighty Pacific rears back and piles up into a mountain of water more than two miles high, then starts its race eastward.

With the force of a thousand armies the wind attacks, ripping, shredding everything in its supersonic bombardment. The unbelievable mountain of Pacific sea-water follows the wind eastward, burying Los Angeles and San Francisco as if they were but grains of sand.

Nothing - but nothing - stops the relentless, overwhelming onslaught of wind and ocean.

Across the continent the thousand mile-per-hour wind wreaks its unholy vengeance, everywhere, mercilessly, unceasingly. Every living thing is ripped into shreds while being blown across the countryside; and the earthquake leaves no place untouched. In many places the earth's molten sub-layer breaks through and spreads a sea of white-hot liquid fire to add to the holocaust.

Within three hours the fantastic wall of water moves across the continent, burying the wind-ravaged land under two miles of seething water coast-to-coast. In a fraction of a day all vestiges of civilization are gone, and the great cities - Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, New York - are nothing but legends. Barely a stone is left where millions walked just a few hours before.

A few lucky ones who manage to find shelter from the screaming wind on the lee side of Pike's Peak watch the sea of molten fire break through the quaking valleys below. The raging waters follow, piling higher and higher, steaming over the molten earth-fire, and rising almost to their feet. Only great mountains such as this one can withstand the cataclysmic onslaught...

...New York lies at the bottom of the Atlantic, shattered, melted by earth-fire, and covered by unbelievable amounts of mud. Of San Francisco and Los Angeles, not a trace is left.

Egypt emerges from its Mediterranean inundation new and higher - still the land of the ages. The commonplace of our time becomes the mysterious Baalbek of the new era."

-The Adam and Eve Story by Chan Thomas (partially declassified by the CIA in 2013)

There's a somewhat controversial archeological/historical theory which posits that every few hundred or thousand years human civilization worldwide is annihilated and buried by a great flood. The typically-attributed agent of this destruction is disruption of the Earth's magnetic poles and/or core, both of which are happening right now - nothing to be concerned about I'm sure.

Regardless of this theory's truth in reality, it makes a neat basis for worldbuilding that lends itself to dungeon-delving:

Why would people bother to build these huge underground complexes? Easy - they weren't built underground, they were buried.

Why are there monsters down there? They're surviving fauna of the world before the latest cataclysm, or perhaps creations of the buried civilizations. Maybe there's even a totally-separate chthonic biosphere that periodically gorges itself on the mass death and burial of the surface world.

Why is the treasure and magic in dungeons better than what you've got outside them? The dungeons were buried at the height of their civilization, while you, whether you know it or not, are by comparison a feral child scrabbling about their ruins.

Why haven't all these dungeons been looted already? There's a fresh crop of them made every so often, and only the slow work of wind, water, and geography reveals them from within their muddy shells.

Perhaps in the highest mountains there are monasteries older than any memory, where hidebound orders struggle against entropies both fast and slow to preserve knowledge of past worlds - invaluable advisors in the early stages of the cycle, putting humanity back on its feet, but put aside and disregarded as it explodes into the refreshed and fertile lowlands, distracted with the concerns of the here and now from the apocalypse fermenting far beneath.

Perhaps new stars hang low in the heavens, shining stations set at the apex of their makers' glory. They watch the goings-on of the world, and sing songs of invisible light to mechanical minds sunk deep in the soil, the tunes distorted, out of key. What waits in the bellies of these iron angels? Weapons? Medicines? Long-sleeping kings, waiting for the right sign to descend and conquer?

Perhaps the cycle of global death and rebirth can be broken, the clues read in the darkest depths of the Earth. Was it not silent Nature, but the hand of Man that set the cycle in motion? Can what was done be undone? Could it have even been a mercy, some temperate medium between continuing to exist with the knowledge of some horrid truth, and total extinction?

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

The Alien Depicts the Alien

Humanity's own creations can be as opaque and threatening to us as any beast from another star. Who now sits before a computer or an easel who does not feel at least a little trepidation that these latest machines, which can write without thinking and paint without feeling, might rob them of the chance for a dignified income?

I doubt that day will come any time soon.

I recently completed a trio of generators which are variously alien-themed, and quite like the imagery for the aliens I came up with for them:

https://archonsmarchon.blogspot.com/2020/09/d20x5-alien-invasions.html

https://archonsmarchon.blogspot.com/2022/09/d20x5-alien-abductees.html

https://archonsmarchon.blogspot.com/2023/01/d6x6-alien-infiltrators.html

Lacking much artistic ability, I got one of those aforementioned machines to generate images based on my descriptions of these aliens, thinking it would make for a neat post. Unfortunately, most of these images were unimpressive, to say the least. Therefore I am still making that post, but adding my own drawings for descriptions where the generated images disappoint.

 👽

For an artist using AI for actual art instead of Artstation-knock-off pictures of women with bare midriffs and dragons, check out the work of friend of the blog Everythings.

💻

"velvet worms whose front ends dissolve into a nest of eyestalks and tentacles"

"two daddy longlegs fused back-to-back, with manipulating digits on the ends of their legs"

This one's alright, but maybe the rest have made my standards too low.
 

"crabs with a trilateral body shape, stretched along the vertical axis"

"beaked, furless, four-armed rats"

They're four-armed rats. 2/4.

"headless vivisected bluefin tuna"

If you look closely, you may notice that this tuna HAS A FUCKING HEAD.

"a cross between a pyramidal tortoise and a stalk of broccoli, branching digits peeking out from shifting slats of shell"

"slithering eyeless eel-mermaids"

"something with the front half of a squid and the back half of a crocodile. Where tentacles should be there are uncomfortably human-like arms"

"spiny, colourful sea-slugs that extrude and reabsorb slimy pseudopods"

Yeah. Whatever. Fine.

"bidepal giraffes with dexterous fingers lining their arms and faces like x-mouthed seahorses"

You so much as mention an animal in another room and this machine will give you some uncanny distortion of it that has nothing to do with the rest of your prompt.

"a ring of two-trunked elephant heads on top of a bear-like body"

Oh great, a hairy elephant. Doesn't even have two trunks. Weak!

"starfish with the proportions of gibbons, and distended sensory/digestive organ sacs at the tips of their top arms"

...this is just a starfish...

"skinless ferrets that wriggle and twist together into colonial swarms"

Fair enough, I didn't really want to see skinless ferrets anyways.

"Donald Duck if he had a horrific body-wide fungal infection"

Not a fungus to be seen!

"metallic jellyfish with manifold straw-thin limbs and escutcheon-shaped bodies"

Doesn't look like any escutcheon I've ever seen.

"termites that evolved into the niche and general body shape of penguins. They’ve got grasping claws on the tips of their flippers"

Nope! Not even close! Kind of cute though.

"hairy pterodactyls that walk on their wings and manipulate objects with their feet and fleshy lips"

"eight-limbed gorillas with a head like a cross between a rose blossom and an anemone. A hive of symbiotes nests within their petals"

"a centaur, if instead of a man and a horse it was a mantis and a newt that were hybridized"

This machine can't do hybrid animals. Impossible creatures, a game from 2003, could do them. Sad!

"mounds of fuzzy folds almost like a pug’s face, only they’re the size of a sofa"


Ok... those are some fuzzy folds.

"is somewhere between an angel and a bedsheet ghost, winged and diaphonous, with a halo of glowing tendrils around their "head""

Pretty middle of the pack.

"is remarkably humanoid, albeit crucified on the stranger angles of space-time - four limbs, an upright stance, and a head bearing sensory organs impossibly bent, squashed, elongated, inverted, and otherwise distorted in ways that hurt the eyes to look at and the brain to consider"

You could paint this and put it in a gallery. I was in one the other week. They'll put up some real bedwetter dogshit.

"resembles a cluster of pale bioceramic scissors linked by fleshy red ligaments"

It got the colour and the scissors parts right.

"is an elastic, translucent purple membrane filled with free-floating, modular bones and muscular systems that they can consciously rearrange into new configurations"

It's goop but it forgot the bones.

"is spindly, iridescent trees with fractally-branching roots and branches"

Good enough.

"resembles tadpoles with tentacles instead of tails, linked together like the segments of a siphonophore or grapes on a vine"

Meh.

"crocodiles with the faces of presidents, hopping around like kangaroos"

This is genuinely the most sensible thing it made with this prompt. Become unalgorithmizable.

"glowing balls of light connected by sunbeams"

"a great black triangle that spoke through my bones"

It made a couple of actual black triangles but I liked the vibe of this image. This looks like something you'd hear in your bones.

"metal drums with red eyes and claws like a crab"

That'll do, pig. That'll do.

"an ocean of amniotic fluid with fetal leviathans swimming within"

"worms made of braided spines"

I don't really like this image but it's enough of a pain to draw braids, let alone braided spines. Guess me & the machine are both phoning it in on this one.

"onion-headed skeletons in silver jumpsuits"

You know you're in for a good time if these are the guys showing up to abduct you.

"one-eyed albino giants"

I guess they get albino trees too. Good for them.

"old-timey outfits with no one wearing them"

There's something off about this one... oh right, there's FUCKING PEOPLE in those OLD-TIMEY OUTFITS which I explicitly noted should have NO ONE WEARING THEM.

"angels made of tie-dye patterns"

This is another pretty good one.

"the wandering ghosts of dead stars"

It's alright. The machine's better with more abstract prompts. Still did my own take:

"pools of oil that could move and think on its own"

No moving or thinking to be seen. Fail!

"plastic mannequins with something dark and wet between their seams"

This could be an album cover for the grimiest music you've ever heard.

"like a whole bunch of purple shrimp tried to stack themselves into an even bigger shrimp"

Well, they're purple shrimp, and they're stacked. If anything this exceeded my expectations.

"entities made out of scents and memories instead of flesh and blood"



 These are actually the only good ones. Like I said earlier, better with abstract prompts.

"things with faces like a cluster of goat horns, and beaks on the ends of their tails"

Oh I mentioned goats guess that means all I want are goats.

"floating golden cubes that moved things without touching them"

Hm?!

"eyeless, earless hippoes with whole cities in their mouths"

WHERE'S MY FUCKING HIPPOS? THE ONE ANIMAL-RELATED PROMPT THAT NEVER JUST GAVE ME THE DAMN ANIMAL!!!
 

"trees with hands for leaves and teeth in their roots"

No teeth, but it managed about four hands.

"upside-down octopi squeezed into an icecream cone"

You know what? This one's on me.