Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Picture Pong with Phlox: One Ponged Over The Pingpong Table

My past week was spent in emulation of the song "Home for a Rest" by Spirit of the West. These so-called vacations may soon be my death.

Phlox has written about trees and the people who get naughty with their knotholes. The challenge he has posed is thus:

(The following is a transcript from a VCR recovered from the basement of an animation studio in San Francisco, most likely dated to the early Clinton administration. The cartoon it contains was never broadcast. It is believed that the cartoon was produced as propaganda to be released in case tensions with China rose after the collapse of the Soviet Union.)

In the near future, FIVE YEARS from this very day, an ILLEGAL CHINESE FISHING VESSEL trespassing in the West Pacific Sea is caught by AMERICAN INTERCEPTORS. Rather than submit to the legal authority, these CHINESE INTERLOPERS dump their cargo of GENETICALLY ENGINEERED FISH overboard. Little did they know, they dumped the fish directly into a SHARK FEEDING GROUND. Mutated with HUMANOID PHYSIQUES and RUTHLESS INTELLIGENCE by their GMO meal, these sharks surfaced in the MEAN STREETS of SHANGHAI, where they begin a campaign of SWEET VENGEANCE for the INHUMANE PRACTICE of harvesting shark fin soup. They are...


A load of freaky fish went into the water
A team of awesome sharks came out of the water
If you're no friend to America
You should get ready for slaughter!

The white is their bellies
The blue is their backs
The red is the blood,
They're gonna spill from you!

The former South China Sea
Is no place to be
For all the communist scum
Who steal property!

'Cause these rude sharks'll get ya
'til you cry "momma!"
Their eyes'll roll over white
For a slice of 'za!

They stand up for the anthem
And salute the flag
These punk sharks take no ransom
They'll leave you gruesome!

Their band has albums that go triple platinum
If you betray your nation they'll chew you like gum!
All foreign enemies beware
Every patriot's their chum!

The white is their bellies
The blue is their backs
The red is the blood,
They're gonna spill from you!

 Now try this one on for size, if you're so great:

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

D6x6 Gnarly Gnolls

If you have somehow missed every other quirky animal fact compilation in this life, female hyenas have enormous clitorises. Seriously. Look it up.

Random generator generator here: http://meanderingbanter.blogspot.com/2018/10/automatic-list-to-html-translator-v2.html

D6These gnolls’ origin
1 is a desperate wizard’s project in the wake of a mass starvation. They spliced hyenas and humans so that their subjects could scavenge the dead without risking curses and diseases.
2 is a gradual evolution from hyenas, as humans evolved from apes.
3 is a pack of hyenas that became possessed by the ghosts of people they ate.
4 is a clan of shapeshifters who violated their patron spirit’s taboos and so we’re stuck in a halfway form.
5 is that they were an engineered species of tomb raiders and guardians created by a decadent imperium.
6 is a goblin breeding experiment with hyenas.
D6 These gnolls live
1 in charred jungle clearings characterized by their artificial white soil, enriched with ground bones.
2 on elephant-back in howdah caravans.
3 in warrens carved into the trunks of gigantic baobabs.
4 by trading on rivers and shores in reed-woven barge-towns.
5 like ghosts in regions depopulated by war and plague.
6 on the shores of charnel lakes formed from ancient mass graves, hunting for ghoul-fish.
D6 These gnolls are seen as monsters because
1 they worship evil gods. The gnolls see this as hedging their theological bets, as good gods are more likely to be merciful towards those who don’t worship them.
2 they eat whatever corpses they can get their paws on. They see doing otherwise as wasteful.
3 one-on-one a gnoll could beat just about any human warrior, so it’s convenient to come up with a pretext to gang up on them.
4 the sorts of gnolls other people are most likely to encounter are wandering antinomian ascetics who’ve renounced all worldly limits.
5 their society is organized based on a caste system that has no place for non-gnolls except as slaves.
6 death and killing are casual things to them due to their strong belief in reincarnation and consequent low attachment to any particular life.
D6 These gnolls can be immediately distinguished from other gnolls
1 by their many piercings capped with coloured glass beads.
2 because they surgically bifurcate their tongues.
3 by the white fur left by their freeze brands .
4 by the work- and war-songs they whistle through their noses.
5 by the red lacquer they apply to their teeth.
6 by the copper chimes they braid into their manes.
D6 Something you might find on these gnolls is
1 a gourd full of sweet marrow pudding.
2 a sending-spirit sealed in the bent and twine-bound corpse of a honeyguide. Release it to give someone a vision of your design from far away.
3 a knucklebone die that rolls in the direction of the undead.
4 a thin, flexible whittling knife, and a carved, untreated log that reveals new scenes of domestic gnoll life as its outer layers rot away.
5 a wide-brimmed felt hat (with ear-holes), good for keeping off the harshest sun.
6 a pungent tallow candle that makes meat (and things made of meat) especially obvious in its light.
D6 To these gnolls, a flind is
1 one who has cultivated their personal power with excruciating exercise and precise doses of esoteric drugs.
2 one who has swallowed the spark of a divine fire, which invigorates them while burning away their lifespan.
3 just a member of their warrior-elite, with the best training, equipment, and nutrition.
4 a vicious cannibal who has consumed the hearts of seven other gnolls to steal their might.
5 a myth, a prophesied hero to deliver them from troubled times.
6an alien soul from worlds beyond the moon born into a gnoll’s body during rare conjunctions.

Monday, December 21, 2020

Picture Pong With Phlox: About To Go Forrest Gump On This MFer

Semiurge swallows, speechless. The sound in the room dies down and all we hear is a faint heartbeat as semiurge stares at the magnificent post.

Look at that subtle mythological referencing. The tasteful length of it. Oh my God, it even has premises...

In the exhibit before you, you may behold perhaps the most popular of the old saints here at the zoo. This is St. Andromedus, former patron of those who travel by sea. He was canonized in living memory at the Third Convocation of Apsidis.
During his fleshly life St. Andromedus demonstrated heavenly favour, most famously in his drowning of the burning martyrs while constructing the Moreve Canal. Lesser-known but no less worth remembering demonstrations include his calling of the comet upon the camps of the Tiegmen, and his raising of the sequestered fleet from the sea-bed.

You may see the esteem in which the Amendment holds St. Andromedus by the luxury and spaciousness of his exhibit. Rest assured that he is able to dedicate every moment of his perpetuated existence to contemplation of the will of the archons. His canonization was deemed to be merely a sub-lunary error of the Ouranic Church, as universal protection of sea-travelers would inevitably extend undeserved benefit to pirates and smugglers. As such, please feel free to proffer tithes and veneration to St. Andromedus to further ease his supra-humane retirement.

If you require protection for sea travel, that charge has been secularized and granted to the Thin Sea Company. A clerk for the Company can be found towards the exit.

Please be warned that due to Anti-Simonian attacks all exhibits here at the zoo have been encircled with Class IV wards. Do not touch the exhibit or approach within ten feet with ill intent. We maintain the sole and true orthodox position on the imperishability of the old saints as determined by the Council of Antarea. Accordingly they will not be disposed of until it can be irrefutably argued that their imperishability is the result of sorcery rather than miracle.

Bonus; Three Treasures You Definitely Shouldn't Steal from the Exhibit of St. Andromedus:
-His sword, Water Memory, which bubbles away the flesh of aquatic monsters it cuts into sea-foam
-His Bitter River Chalice, which poisons bodies and barrels it's used to drink from
-His sapphire spyglass, which can see the winds that will blow a day in advance, and even the little winds from the breath of living things when focused

What rhymes with man-tree? Is that even a man-tree you see here below? Only Phlox can know.

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Picture Pong With Phlox: A Paddle Stirs the Water, A Paddle Strikes the Ball

Many people know that Phlox's blog is called "Whose Measure God Could Not Take", but few know that I'm the one whose measure God could not take. Doesn't stop Him trying though.

The name of the game is picture pong. The objective is victory. Where your opponent believes you to be weak, be strong, when your opponent expects you to be alive play dead.

The first piece has hit the board, but this rook ain't about to be zugzwang'd. En garde:



For those of you out there bummed by the malignancy of the TransactiniTrade platform (and who wouldn't be, we know our wallet's feeling a lot lighter!), here's some charming news from the edge of its wavefront to get those dopamoids flowing.

Rather than proudly accepting extinction like so many of their kind, several phenoconservative lineages have pooled their resources to create an a-mat rocket that'll carry a sample of genesis slime to a planet well beyond the unity limit of the TransactiniTrade malignancy. If that planet's not occupied already, it will be when this news gets out. Fortunately for the cons they've anticipated this, and added a finder's clause to their slime with full indenture and limited templating rights.

Those of you familiar with heraldic trivia should be able to recognize the triple suns of the House of Nemesis-C and the werewolf of the House of Littoria Minor from the snapshot above. You've probably also spotted the cheeky vacuum-adapted mimetic bug way in the back there that decided to get in on the action. Remember people, ID sigs aren't enough anymore, you need x-ray checks! That (and about a hundred million years of sim-time) is why they're cons and we're progs.

Some tears were shed and touching words said as the rocket blasted off into the void, carrying their hopes and collective child. After that it would be mere minutes until the malignancy's pre-digesters made moonfall. I offered to mindlink some of their core personas out of there, but was roundly refused. The stubbornness of monobods can be almost respectable. This reporter lost eir female body to the oncoming horde, but is still around today to write this article for you good people. The same can't be said for those brave, dumb cons.

Across the system at the same time we were interviewing some cons that refused to participate in the project. When pressed on this idiotic anti-survivalism, a representative of the House of Honouria Septima stated: "They made the diapers in their suits suck them off and it's fucked up that nobody's talking about it".

Well now we're talking about it! Let nobody say that no cons know how to have a good time!


Now how about this bullshit Mr. Smarty Pants Poem Man:

Friday, December 11, 2020

D6x6 Haughty Hats

Random table automatic roller generator here: http://meanderingbanter.blogspot.com/2018/10/automatic-list-to-html-translator-v2.html

D6This hat is 
1 a mitre.
2 a shako.
3 a wizard-style hat.
4 a Phrygian cap.
5 a tricorne.
6 a top hat.

D6 It is made of 
1 tiger hide.
2 elf-leather.
3 luminous fungal felt.
4 blue velvet.
5 the poofy matter of a cumulus cloud dragged to earth.
6 basilisk skin.
D6 And it has 
1 a bundle of iridescent feathers pinned to it.
2 golden tassels dangling from its brim.
3 a silver heraldic eagle figurine perched on its tip.
4 a lacy veil hanging across its face.
5 silk ribbons tied around it in complex knots.
6 tea ceremony scenes depicted with colourful beads on it.
D6 This hat’s power 
1 is flaneurial invisibility. So long as its wearer does nothing but walk around they have a 5-in-6 chance of avoiding the notice of any observers.
2 is that if you would fall a harmful distance it inflates into a glider.
3 is that once per day you can reach into it to retrieve a rabbit-sized or smaller animal.
4 is that while wearing it you can’t be stained or dirtied, and all your clothes appear impeccably pressed.
5 is that those who see you wearing it can’t perceive you as anything less than a social peer.
6 is that while wearing it you can reach into your own mind to pull out emotions, skills, memories, and so on, and then share them with others.
D6 This hat was made 
1 by the royal couturier of a kingdom of spiders.
2 by a hatter who received eldritch enlightenment (and nerve damage) from mercury poisoning.
3 for a gentleman who was to be wed to a chthonic corpse-bride. He fled from the altar, and was killed for his cowardice.
4 by an order of monks who hold the aesthetic to be higher than the good, over three generations of labour.
5 to win a contest of craft between a milliners guild and a demigod of beauty.
6 by a revolutionary republic to distinguish its First-Among-Equals in lieu of a crown.

D6 This hat is sought 
1 by a genteel hydra for its last uncovered head.
2 by a fabulously rich burgher who was cursed with ranine hideousness until someone fell in love at first sight with them.
3 by a fairy-princess as an accessory for her next public appearance.
4 by an ambitious fashionista as a means of breaking into the upper crust of society.
5 by a violently insecure duke to cover his bald spot.
6by a redcap warlord to corrupt the hat’s magic with blood for its cruel ends.

Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Ten More Fictional Modern Faiths

Based on the original set invented by Whose Measure God Would Not Take here: https://whosemeasure.blogspot.com/2020/12/ten-fictional-modern-faiths.html

1. Omnichrist Self-Deliverance Activation Front: Born of a therapeutic exercise wherein several people who believed themselves to be Jesus were put in a room together to discuss their mutually exclusive claims to messiahhood. They came out with the conviction that not only were all of them Jesus, but that every other human being on Earth was also Jesus and had yet to realize it. Aggressively missionary and rapidly expanding, its self-actualization rhetoric appealing in particular to younger single mothers. The Activation Front has been accused of kidnapping and cult-style conditioning, however these accusations have been deemed baseless by panels of experts who may themselves be Activation Front members.

2. Dark Marxism: A contrary offshoot of Marxist analysis which holds that Capital is in fact a god incarnating itself through digital technology and totalizing cybernetic systems of control. It further holds that resistance to this god is blasphemous, and that the only place for humanity in the coming order is to usher in and behold its world-devouring glory. Espousing Dark Marxist beliefs is currently trendy among young finance and tech professionals.

3. Wealth-Hack Immortalism: A combined religion and suicide pact that emerged from an anime imageboard. It argues on the basis of many-worlds theory and quantum immortality that if adherents make a sincere attempt at killing themselves because they don't have enough money they will be translated into a universe where they gain enough money that they will no longer intend to kill themselves (leaving a corpse behind in this world in the process). It also has a culture of cryptocurrency investment and pump-and-dump scams. Drops in the price of favoured currencies are blamed on "ascended brothers" trying to convince their remaining peers to follow them to immense wealth, popularity, and romantic success with women. Those who fail to kill themselves are shamed as "will-mogged" and "genetically destined to be wagie" by their peers.

4. Les Fleurons Glorieux: An ultra-nationalist Canadian civic religion founded by a follower of Helena Blavatsky in the late 19th century. They claimed to channel the ghost of Sir John A. Macdonald, as well as the principality of Canada, who told them to gather true patriots to be the heroes of coming centuries. The Fleurons venerate this principality as a necessary national intermediary to God, as well as a pantheon of great Canadian figures. Their lobbying led to Ontario government buildings being required to have a shrine to the principality of Canada maintained somewhere within (often on a top shelf in a less-used closet). Politically the Fleurons lean towards federalism and autarky. Fleuronic rites include poetry readings, parading the flag, wearing turn of the 20th century clothing, reenactments of the defeat of the United States in the War of 1812, and ceremonial fur hunts.

5. Crucifixion Truthism: A branch of American Evangelicalism with even closer than usual political ties with Israel. Its central tenet is that it is not the Jewish people who are to blame for Christ's crucifixion, but rather Palestinians, and so any treatment of them by the Israeli government is justified. Several Truthists have been implicated in "demolition tours", vacations where they rent armoured bulldozers and drive them through the Gaza Strip.

6. Immanentized Virtual Utopianism: A religio-techno-political project kicked off by a collective of "tankie" hackers inspired by Cosmism. Rather than the outer space of Cosmism, they were convinced that human salvation lied within the inner space of virtual reality. They pooled their resources and technical expertise to begin construction of a commune-facility where everyone could be plugged into a majestic simulated reality (as well as feeding and waste disposal tubes) where all their needs and desires could be met without limit. Despite early success with their invention and patenting of the "saccadic mouse" the full dream of the commune has yet to be realized, and is currently realized only in the upper echelon playing solar-powered video games all day while their acolytes roll them to prevent bed sores from forming.

7. Eternally With Herism: A support group-turned-religion that sprung up after the election of Donald Trump. E.W. Herism maintains that Hillary Clinton is both the incarnation of the transcendent maternal principle, as well as the true winner of the 2016 American election. However due to peoples' lack of faith in her we were cursed to perceive an illusory world where she did not. Practices to perceive this true reality include guided meditation, imbibing deliriant-infused wine, and ritualized brunch. Since the election of Joe Biden many adherents of E.W. Herism believe that due to their diligence the illusory world has graduated from hell to a sort of purgatory.

8. Psychophenotypism: Suddenly erupted into existence and popularity on a forum for the involuntarily celibate during an argument over "taking the pink pill" and "transmaxxing".  It teaches that what we know about biology is a lie created to hoard "sexual market value", that the shape of the body is determined primarily by one's own mind, and that biofeedback techniques and pseudo-cognitive behavioural therpaeutic exercises could bring about a more complete transition than hormones and surgery. A helpful set of infographics was quickly put together to explain all this.

Several charismatic leaders appeared within the Psychophenotypic movement, who began to feud over the feasibility and desirability of "interracial transitioning", as well as hatred toward illiberal political beliefs for denying "the autonomous individual will". These feuds escalated into identity theft and physical violence, which attracted a subculture of anomie-afflicted street brawlers to bounce between the newly formed Psychophenotypic sects.

9. The Lord's Reclamation Brigade: An Australian heterodox Christian sect and designated terrorist group. They believe that all non-Christian religions (and many Christian sects which do not agree with them) worship the Devil, and that their sacred sites must be destroyed and replaced with churches to reclaim that part of the world from the grasp of evil. The LRB gain international notoriety for an attempt to plant dynamite on Uluru, and "forced baptism" attacks on people of Middle Eastern and Indian descent that have resulted in two drownings to date. Despite police crackdowns the sect has survived due to its decentralized internet presence and recruitment from a wider "kiddie pool" of non-violent fans of the sect's video interpretations of current events as signs of the end times, and public appearances and statements of Australian politicians interpreted as secret signs of either support for the LRB or diabolic influence.

10. Retrotemporal Jǫrðism: A neo-neopagan faith invented whole-cloth by a twitter user with the pseudonym (((Einstein-Rosen)))BridgeGroyper, who claimed to have been sent back in time from a "based ecofash future". Jǫrðism promoted outdoor exercise, an unprocessed diet, avoidance of pornography and masturbation, and belief that white people are the true indigenous population of all continents. Its founder claimed that this all was necessary to bring about their own timeline, wherein humanity lived in harmony with nature in "localist cottagecore hamlets".

The faith suffered a crippling blow after (((Einstein-Rosen)))BridgeGroyper led a wilderness retreat for top Patreon donours to "rediscover [their] primordial whiteness". On the retreat the founder was attacked and eaten by a grizzly bear, which was in turn killed and eaten by some of the donours, who contracted trichinosis. After this event the faith split between true believers who believed the camping guide was an impostor and a "fed", and the Apostles of the Temporal Flesh who believe that currently existing nature to be a collection of Jewish GMOs which must be exterminated and replaced with the true biosphere lying in wait in the hollow Earth.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Speculative Evolution: Teegarden's Star B - Part I: Deathly Light & Wine-Dark Seas

The variety of forms life has taken past and present, and the processes that gave rise to those forms, are really fucking cool. I had a DM try to explain to me what a red panda was the other week. I know what a red panda is. I've been to a zoo.

A natural extension of my interest in real forms of life then is speculative evolution, using what we know about biochemistry, evolutionary pressures, and the like to better imagine how life might develop on other planets (or alternate branches of our own planet's history) in a more-or-less plausible fashion. Here's some links to some of my favourite speculative evolution projects:

The Future is Wild: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Rbi8Jgx1CNE

Snaiad: http://www.cmkosemen.com/snaiad_web/snduterus.html

Biblaridion's Alien Biospheres series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=egzZv8tqT_k&list=PL6xPxnYMQpquNuaEffJzjGjMsr6VktCYl

The Epona newsletter: http://worldbuilders.info/epona/

The world of Serina: https://sites.google.com/site/worldofserina/home

The Planet Furaha blog: http://planetfuraha.blogspot.com

The Ilion blog: https://sunriseonilion.wordpress.com/ilion/

This post is intended to be the first in a series of a speculative evolution project of my own. This project will be loosely based on the planet Teegarden's Star B, a recently discovered exoplanet with one of the highest Earth Similarity Index Scores of any known exoplanet thus far.

What we know about the planet is: that it's located about 12 light years from Earth, it orbits a red dwarf, it's got an orbital period of 4.91 days, its mass is possibly 1.05 times Earth's, its insolation is about 1.15x times Earth's, and its temperature would enable liquid water to exist on its surface. Everything else from here on out is my own invention.

There's some issues with the development of life around a red dwarf. Firstly, given how close the Goldilocks's Zone would have to be to such a star, it's possible that any planet in the Zone would be tidally locked to the star. This would mean a constant heat on one side, and utter cold and dark on the other, potentially freezing any atmosphere that develops. Secondly, red dwarf stars tend to output a lot of solar flares. Teegarden's Star B is distinct in that it appears to be relatively calm.

Perhaps in defiance of God and astrophysics, I'm going to say that my TSB is not tidally locked. It has a smaller axial tilt than Earth (leading to less differentiated seasons) and rotates in such a way that gives it a 40-hour day/night cycle. That makes its year a bit shy of 3 TSB days, which is sure to frustrate some calendar-makers, and make some French philosophers very happy.

To add some spice to our primordial soup I'll suppose that some billions of years past Teegarden's Star was feistier, giving off the solar flares and bursts of ultraviolet radiation of most red dwarfs. This will tail off with time but during the period this post is looking at life will largely be constrained to several meters below the ocean surface, deep enough to be shielded from the worst of the star's wrath. In this submarine shelter the living kingdoms which will share the world to follow have formed:

(If you know any Latin or Greek please correct my naming in the comments, I'm just using google translate)


Living fossils even here at the harsh dawn. Once the predominant form of life on the plant, now reduced by the evolution of multicellularity and predation to mere bit players.

Thermidoria is distinguished by two main attributes: thermosynthesis, and multiple nucleui.

Most thermidorian lifeforms are capable of deriving energy from thermal gradients (though this energy is minuscule compared to photosynthesis). Despite being at a severe disadvantage with energy production you can find them pretty much everywhere. The aphotic ocean depths are often a wasteland on Earth, but on TSB they abound (relatively speaking) with slow jungles of thermidorians.

All thermidorians are unicellular. Many are also visible to the naked eye. Among their adaptions that make them capable of achieving this is that their cell has multiple nuclei, as well as internal partitions, often made from incorporated inorganic matter, and the thinness of their body structure.

Notable clades of Thermidoria in this era include:

Nimates: Primitive even among the primitive kingdom, nimates are pure thermosynthetes, resembling long plastic strands hanging in the water. They lack the metabolic capacity for self-driven movement, relying on concentrating inedible and toxic materials in their cell walls and sheer ubiquity for survival.

Anoterosia: A planktonic group which hosts much smaller symbiotic algae in their cell walls and partitions. Of all life on TSB they are the clade which lives closest to the surface, having a number of adaptions including nucleic redundancy to resist the high level of ultraviolet radiation. In the billions of years to come the descendants of the anoterosians will form the basis of perhaps the most un-Earthly of all TSB's biomes.

Koubanites: One of the truly rare heterotrophic thermidorian clades, containing both mobile and sessile predatory and filter-feeding species. Most resemble gelatinous bells lined with cilia, with a frontal orifice that can cinch shut.


Descended from a species of multicellular phytoplankton with silicate shells, similar to Earth's diatoms. The kingdom Diaphania contains two branches, one of plant-like phototrophs and one of animal-like heterotrophs that lost their chloroplast-analogues. Both branches share the characteristic support/protective organ "siliceous laminate", layers of cartilaginous membranes impregnated with silicon in various formations and concentrations. This creates an effect akin to pattern welding, allowing siliceous laminate tissue to achieve the ideal mix of flexibility and hardness for a given use.

Rather than both sexes producing gametes, only one diaphanian sex does. The other grows haploid buds which if not fertilized may still grow into adult pseudo-clones of the budding parent.

Diaphanian phototrophs utilize several pigments to wring the most out of their red and blotted sun, some provided by symbiotic microorganisms, all much darker than the chlorophyll we're used to. The mixture of near-black purples, yellows, reds, and greens makes them appear like necrotic tissue to our eyes.

Notable clades of Diaphania in this era include:

Alexiophylls: Also called parasol kelp. They resemble seaweed, even growing in underwater forests that home entire ecosystems, except for two features that would stand out to even the untrained observer. The first is their namesake: a cluster of lenses that float above their main body, shielding it from the worst radiation, allowing them to grow above their competitors and closer to the light. The second is a "reel" which anchors them in the seabed. When the organism detects a dangerous increase in temperature or radiation, the reel pulls it down deeper beneath the water's protection.

Kastrophylls: Also called coral-moss. The very first pioneer of TSB's land. Without water to rely on for protection, coral-moss instead grows a translucent crust to filter out the most harmful rays. Over many generations this can create glassy mounds filled with pseudo-vascular tubes that draw water up to the living coral-moss. These mounds will shelter the terrestrial animals to follow.

Kolliofacia: Worm-like burrowing creatures with a U-shaped digestive tract passing around their hemocoel, mouth and cloaca ending up much too close for most Earthlings' liking. Beneath this they've got a muscular digging "foot" lined with lateral spines or bristles, and their "head" bears jointed opercula and a bouquet of feeding/sensory tendrils.

Dontiderms: A group which branched off from the kolliofacia as that clade adapted more to filter-feeding. They resemble flattened lancelets, only rather than cirri they possess a mouthful of grinding and scraping teeth, some of which have migrated or been replicated elsewhere on their body, forming armour much like osteoderms. Dontiderms can be further subdivided into those species which evert their mouths and teeth into something like an external gizzard to feed, and those with muscular lips to pluck food or create suction. The clade was the first to develop genuine eyes, though given the long night sight tends to be underdeveloped as a sense compared to Earth.


Like Diaphania, the kingdom Tomatrichia contains branches that on Earth would be distinct as Animalia, Plantae, and Fungi.

The basal ancestor of Tomatrichia is a creature somewhere between fungus, slime mold, and biofilm: a zoogleal mass of microorganisms that cooperate to construct mycelia-like structures with keratinous cell walls, sometimes dismantling each other and merging for the raw materials. These mycelia in turn grow spawning bodies that produce more of the mass. From this base the kingdom has diversified into two animal-like branches, one similar to sponges, and the other similar to echinoderms, various saprophytic and parasitic forms, and a photosynthetic form which absorbed chloroplast-analogues from a diaphanian host.

Most trichian species have mating types rather than sexes as we'd recognize them, up to thousands of different types in some. More mobile species tend to have fewer mating types.

Notable clades of Tomatrichia in this era include:

Laspikoroids: Parasites on the anchors of parasol kelp. Laspikoroids don't deviate much from the tomatrichian basal form, except that their zoogleal form can produce a potent toxin similar to botulinum. They also entrap and digest other creatures which would nibble on those anchors.

Nychaspidoids: A group that looks like something between sea stars and chitons, a radially symmetric set of feet with segmented keratin armour on top. Nychaspidoids feed by vomiting a zoogleal mass onto their prey, which externally digests it and is then slurped back up into the main body. They do something similar to breed. Some species within the clade undergo a process of "enfolding" as they mature, their armour bending and fusing to encompass an entire limb.

Nouvatoids: A group resembling fuzzy sea urchins. Unlike sea urchins they lack tube feet and an Aristotle's lantern, while their spines are articulated and can be bent to serve as legs. Like the nychaspidoids their zoogleal form has been reduced to specialized internal nodes that perform neuronal, digestive, and stem cell-like functions. Under certain conditions, mostly related to high population density, nouvatoids will overgrow their fuzz and roll around to disperse like underwater tumbleweeds. Nouvatoid young perform a similar behaviour, only with a single overlong thread.

Ziztrypoids: A highly-derived clade that began from a species of tomatrichian that produced a mushroom-like fruiting body. The fruiting body was porous to allow spores within it to catch a current, but the current also brought in microorganisms which were sometimes consumed. Eventually the fruiting body was adapted from a temporary reproductive measure into the main body of the creature, with the mycelium serving only to stick it in place.

There's analogues to viruses and bacteria and all that too, but I'd find coming up with that stuff boring. Assume that sort of thing exists outside of this project's spotlight, which I'll tend to focus on charismatic fauna & flora. Next time there might even be pictures.

Thursday, November 26, 2020


I've been here way too long for my own good. It's been two long years now. If only I never knew that there were people like this, I wouldn't have become such a half-assed piece of shit.

It's too late now. I don't know what's right anymore. The only choice left for me is to face the consequences of my actions, and as a blogger, fulfill my duty to the bitter end.

Anyways, two years & two hundred posts, here's an index:


D6x6 Wrathful Wraiths

5 Monsters Inspired by Old-Timey Halloween Costumes

Horn Beetles (scroll down)

5 Monsters

Virtuesome Lilies & Lily Maidens

Five Monsters in the Style of Throne of Salt

Grugach & Cooshee

D6x6 Hydrated Hydras

D6x6 Wily Will-o-Wisps

D20x5 Spooky Scary Skeletons



D6x6 Wanton Wyverns

D20x5 Demons to Summon for Fun & Profit

D20x5 Wizardly Abominations

D20x5 Cannibalistic Humanoid Underground Dwellers

D20x5 Eccentric Elves

D20x5 Genial Genies

D6x6 Evil Trees

D20x5 Rash Rakshasas

D6x6 Gloomful Ghouls 


D50 Necromantic Nasties & D50 Goofy Golems

D6x7 Brownies, Domovoi, & Other Domestic Spirits 

D20x5(xA Lot) Lovecraftian Servitors to Summon for ????? and !!!!!

D20x5 Hungry Ghosts & Unclean Spirits

D20x??? Hideous Hags

D10x10 Deadly Dragons 

D6x7 Saucy Sphinxes

D20 More Soulslike Bosses  

D6x6 Ornery Owlbears

D12x??? Onerous Oni

D20x5 Elf-Knights 

D50x3(x20x8) Fairy Nobility

D20x5 Trendy Trolls 

D20x5 Ready Reapers

D20x5 Horrible Homunculi 

D6x6 Pithy Pixies

D6x6 Killing Spirits 

D20x8(+9) Lovecraftian Entities that Didn't Make the Cut

D20x5 Chanceful Changelings 

D20x5 Assorted Slimes

D20x5 Odd Orcs 

D20x5 Accursed Ones

D20x5 Angels to Summon for Chastity and Humility 

D20x5 Baleful Bogeymen

D20x5 Ghastly Ghosts  

Some Non-Threatening Cosmic Monsters

D20x5 Variant Vampires


D6x6 Amazing Amazons

D6x6 Gnomic Gnomes

D20x5 Mercurial Merfolk

D20x5 Hellacious Halflings


D20x5 Truculent Time Travellers

D20x5 Horses (& Some Not-Quite Horses)

D20x5 Worrying Warriors

Miss Mulberry - Build a Witch Challenge

D12 Castaways, Maroons, & Shipwrecked Souls

D20 Other Kinds of Peasant Than “Farmer”, D20 Other Kinds of Noble Than “Rich Asshole”

D20x5 Weird Wizards

D20x5 Wicked Witches

D20x5 Pitiable Orphans/Cheap & Disposable Hirelings

D20x5 Scattered Scholars

D66x6 Speedy Superheroes/Villains

D20x5 Rival Adventurers

D100+ Busy Bureaucrats

D100+ Supervillains

D100+ Superhero Names

D20x5 Uplifted Animals

D6x6 Regretful Fausts

D20x5 Hedge-Knights

D100,000 (Approximately) Goblin Churls

D20x6 Dwarven Exiles 

D20x5 Calibans, Igors, Renfields, & Other Wretched Servants 

D20x5 Quixotic Questers

D20x5 Men With Guns To Come In Through A Door 

D20x5 Marvellous Merchants

D20x5 Gratuitous Gladiators 

D20x5 Dastardly Dandies, Ponces, And Rakes/More Expensive But Ethically Sourced Underlings 

D20x5 Fearsome Fighters

D20x5 Ignoble Nobles  

D20x5 Strange Sailors

D20x5 Humble Hedge-Mages

Treasure, Loot, & Various Objects

D10 Magic Maps

D10 Culinary Curios

D10 Goblin Goodies

D50 Shitty Potions from Hack Alchemists

D100 Answers to the Question: What’s In This Dude’s Car/Couch/Carrying Case? Or: Some Minor Modern Fantasy Loot

D12 Flaming Swords

D20x5 Grimoires of Forbidden Lore

D100 Things for this Weird Egg You Found to Hatch Into

D20 Magic Rings

D20x5 Headstrong Helmets

D20 Extraneous Miscellaneous Magic Items

D100+ Winsome Wines

Objects from Bebahidari

D20x5 Magic Weapons That Aren't Swords

D20x5 Wacky Wands

D20x5 Dubious Drugs

D66(xD10xD10) Fantastical Fires

D20x5 Illustrious Intelligent Swords

D20 Miscellaneous Magic Items

D20x5 Comely Coinage

D20x5 Freaky Fungi

The Bestiarum Phantasmaticus

D6x6 Heady Healing Potions

D20x5 Jangly Jewelry 

D20x5 Potent Poisons

D20x5 Eldritch Idols  

D100 Irregular Rations


Ascended Baneposter

Lich Aspirant

Monster Binder


D100+ Noble Houses 

D100+ Company Names

D20x5 Impractical Priesthoods

D20x5 Barefaced Banks

D100+ Idolatrous Cults & The Idols They Adulate

D20x5 Kooky Cults

D20x5 Bizarre Barbarian Bands

D100+ Factious Faction Names

D20x5 Grotty Goblin Groups

D6x6 Feral Tribes

D20x5 Non-Standard Knightly Orders

D20x5 Gonzo Gangs


D20x5 Abhorrent Apocalypses

D20x5 Alien Invasions

D100+ Wars

D100 Encounters Along A Beach

D100 Encounters Along A Lonesome Road

D100 Morbid Miscasts  

D100 "I Search The Body" Complications


GLOG-Style Dwarf Fortress Races

Slush Piles

Slush Pile 1

Slush Pile 2

Slush Pile 3



Odds & Ends

D20 Mooncalves & The Dooms They Foretell

D20 Additional Anomalous Media

What Is The Outrageous Deformity Of This Fashionable Lapdog? & Related Miscellanea

D100+ Mutations

D6x6 Podcasts

D1,000,000 Answers to the Question: What do this wizard's magic missiles look like?

D6x6 Capricious Conspiracies

D8x2xD20x6 Cryptic Prophecies 

Weddingcrashing & Random Tables for the Royal Wedding

D100 Tricky Traps That Might Not Even Technically Be Traps 

D50 Dire Diseases & D50 Curious Cures


D20 Cozy Cottages

Curdle - The City of Cheese

Thaw - Another New Crobuzon

Itaban's Verge - F-122 Challenge

D20x5 Dwarven Mountain Halls

D6x6 Suspiciously Spacious Sewers

The Republic of Beards

The Silvertine Coast

D20x5 Schools of Sorcery

D20x5 Darkling Dungeons

D20x5 Atypical Taverns

Psychomatic Mini-Dungeons - Secret Santicorn

D100 Answers to the Question: What's the Deal with this Town? 

More Lands

D20x5 Forlorn Outposts

D20x5 Dungeon Markets

D6x6 Empty Shrines  

D20x5 Passages to the Underworld

D20x5 Wondrous Wizard Towers

This House Has Many Walls 

How to Make a Magic Sword

D20x5 Tantalizing Trade Routes

D20x5 Terrible Towns




The Dreams of Trees are Awful Things

All Thrones Were Trees And Stones

'Round These Here Parts

A Post Written Entirely With My Phone’s Suggested Words (Except For This Title); Or, The Most Impressive Thing In A World Of Human Flesh

Beware the Werewolf

Architectural Parasitism 

D10x10 Canty Cosmologies

Picture Pong

The Rememberdismove Strain

Swift & Silent as Lightning Before the Thunder

Things Have Learnt to Ping that Ought to Pong

Donkey Pong

The Endinning of the Begend


D20 Fates Other Than Just Dying When You Reach <0 HP

Knowledge is Power; or: Magic Without Spells

Movie Reviews

The first movie review post

The second movie review post

Bits & Bobs

Lessons in Running Horror from Six Idiots in a Dental Office

They Are Hungry We Are Fat

D20x5 Radical Religions

Break Jesus Out of Babylon

D20 Random Sex

D50x2 + D20 Conditional Invulnerabilities

Monster Blender Part I

Monster Blender Part II

What Does This Goblin Smell Like?  

D6x6 Murky Miasmas




D20 Mooncalves & The Dooms They Foretell

There's an itch.io "jam" based on "rural horror" going on right now. AAH!!! FARMERS!!!

Anyways I'm not doing that but this is kind of like that.

D20 Mooncalves

1. Born as a fully-formed adult with an unblemished red hide. Seeks to slit its throat on the nearest blade.

2. If it would be clawed it has hooves, if it would have hooves it’s instead clawed. Its sole desire is to devour its mother and its father.

3. It’s got seven heads and seven crowns of teeth and horn. With a voice like trumpets it blares blasphemies and vicious lies.

4. Only half of it is present, split down the middle. The cleft is studded with weeping, bloodshot eyes. It acts as though nothing is amiss.

5. It bears a human face on its chest which rolls its eyes and lolls its tongue.

6. It has translucent flesh, and bones too large to fit within.

7. Born eviscerated, the organs throbbing and lively while the body lies dead.

8. It has a mane of centipedes that drip smoking venom from their forcipules. It also hates you, you personally, with an unnatural intelligence and subtlety.

9. It’s a bloody bunch of hair and grain husks tied into the shape of an animal.

10. Its head is a bare skull and its eye sockets smoulder with golden flames.

11. Born covered in boils filled with amniotic fluid and fetal copies of itself.

12. It has no eyes or nose, only a maw splitting its face that’s stuffed with teeth. It makes a deafening squall that sounds like a human child.

13. Its umbilical cord is as tough as steel wire, and it will unravel into yet more cord as it crawls away from its mother until nothing is left.

14. It tears its way out of the womb, formed without skin or fat, only mountains of misshapen muscle.

15. Born bloated with fragrant waxes that leak from its orifices. Those who smell it will be overcome with the desire to immolate the mooncalf to release more of its scent.

16. Born with eagles’ wings and turtles’ legs. Too many legs, far too many wings.

17. Grows before your eyes, bigger and bigger and bigger until it collapses in under its own weight.

18. It has no limbs, and crawls as if a serpent.

19. Its flesh is cold and hard and veined like black marble. It will writhe and cry and grind itself into dust by its convulsions.

20. Born without a head, and one of the many names of God written on the stump of its neck.

D20 Foretold Dooms

1. The spirit of a road will fall in love with a mortal. That love will be unrequited. In self-pitying despair the spirit will twist their road along unwholesome paths into perdition.

2. A righteous usurper will take the crown and be corrupted by its power into a worse tyrant than the one they deposed.

3. The eruption of a baleful star will bathe a night in rays that turn grass grey and brittle, and make all waters undrinkable.

4. The rivers will turn to curdled milk and attract an army of depraved cats.

5. New weapons will be made which generals have no understanding of, and they will marshal their troops into mass graves.

6. A preacher will come and rouse a great rabble, who will in turn drag all they can before them to be judged and scoured for every last little sin.

7. All livestock will be born as mooncalves. Dairy will become a thing of the past.

8. An erudite though short-sighted wizard will create an enchanted printing press. With it they'll mass-produce scrolls and distribute them at random. This will result in chaos, both because of the scrolls' powers and disastrous flaws in their production.

9. A new and potently addictive drug will rapidly rise in popularity, but the drug is actually the eggs of a parasitic fish which will incubate in their consumers, warping their minds and bodies.

10. Time will spread a freezing web. Remain in one place, and you'll start to move slower and slower until you become a living statue, locked in stasis.

11. A child will be born with incredible strength and an impervious body. Left to their own devices, the child's inability to suffer will prevent them from developing any empathy for their less gifted fellows, and they will gather equally hardened hearts under their banner as a disastrous warlord.

12. People will become haunted en-masse by their ancestors, who are displeased with the impertinent way things are done these days.

13. An echo of the judgement of Babel will make brothers strangers to each other by the splintering of their tongue.

14. The coming generation will exceed their parents in might and cruelty.

15. A storm of sulphurous fire will raze cities and fields to ashes.

16. A contagious and paranoid fear will sweep through the populace. People under its influence become convinced an invasion from an unspecified foreign power is imminent, and that the only survival will be found in the construction of an immense fortress. If not stopped then all the infected will work themselves to death stacking that fortress's stones.

17. Ships larger than any thought possible will appear sailing over the horizon. Their crews bear gifts and smiles, but they serve masters who desire to strip the land and its peoples into resources that can be carried back across the sea.

18. The moon will swell in its radiance, and strange, toxic foliage will flourish beneath its light.

19. Wolves great in size and number will venture out from the woods, their hunger slaked only by human meat.

20. A creeping frost will seize the earth and turn neighbours into killers for want of bread.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Lessons in Running Horror from Six Idiots in a Dental Office

The other day I had the pleasure of playing in a oneshot game run by deus ex parabola (blog: https://as-they-must.blogspot.com) from the OSR discord. We played as dumb-ass teenagers robbing a not-so-abandoned dentist's office. I brought out my best Italian-American accent to play the role of Jimmy Badacelli, guido superstar (and it's quite a good accent, I watched the Sopranos). This was the funniest session I've played in recent memory. It was also the scariest.

I picked up a thing or two from that game. A lot has been said about running horror in rpgs. I've probably read some of it, but by now have forgotten. Doesn't matter. This is the fresh hot beats, the real trap shit:

1. To Paraphrase the Late & Great Graf Helmuth Karl Bernhard von Moltke: "No Plan Survives Contact with the Players"

Player freedom makes it nigh-impossible to construct the kind of horror narrative you'd get in a book or movie. They'll run roughshod over story beats and make mincemeat of dialogue. This should be embraced as the heart of the rpg medium, and harnessed for horror games by making players complicit in the fear-making process. Let them scare themselves, and let them disperse that fear.

I'm not a big believer in the fear of the unknown, but here ambiguity is key. Sensory details, artifacts, spatio-temporal anomalies, chatter over a radio, and the like can be put together to give the players bits of an incomplete skeleton. Let them piece it together, extrapolate, and act upon it. Where otherwise you might use an NPC to exposit, in horror games consider placing something in the environment to interpret, interact with, and contextualize. Also consider placing them like Reese's Pieces™ for ET to lure them into almost-certain doom.

Deus's game had a great example of this with the following image we found in a filing cabinet:

An x-ray of a ribcage with teeth. Simple, effective, works with the environment of the dentist's office, graffiti, and other hints to suggest something bigger, connected, and sinister. It spooks. In less blighted times you could even use physical props.

This approach works best in a setting that's grounded in players' knowledge. If a gnabbu of the Gloroltor Expanse is acting oddly it'll have less impact than if a telephone nibbles on your ear. To have something be uncanny requires knowing what's canny.

Laughter is medicine like oxycontin is medicine. It gives relief, but doesn't remove the underlying cause of discomfort. Player reactions, jokes, etc., (assuming good or even decent chemistry) will naturally lead, in tandem with the incomplete information given, to the peaks and valleys up the mountain of growing tension in a horror game. At that mountain's peak is the monster, which is point no. 2.

If I have any critique of deus's game, it's that frustration weakens the kind of tension we're looking for. Tedium ain't fun or the fun kind of scary. Common sense about puzzles, locked doors, and things like that standing in the way of meaty paths should be exercised.

2. A Good Monster is the Light at the End of the Tunnel

And sometimes the light at the end of the tunnel is an oncoming train. Over the course of a horror game you should be approaching the monster, and/or the monster should be approaching you. Keep in mind that the monster doesn't have to be some kind of beastie. It can be a revelation, a conspiracy finally acting in the open, a disease reaching its final phase, a plummet into a dreadful alternate reality, and so on and so on. The important factor is that it is the climactic and cathartic release of built-up tension, the rollercoaster's biggest drop, tacit permission to start screaming.

The bits of the skeleton under the previous point are the way to build up that tension. Mention its thumping in the ceiling, or the rats scurrying up from the basement to escape it, or the diary of the last person to go after it, or the corpse of one of its victims, stuff like that. Keep it out of clear sight yet in your players' minds and you'll reap a solid response when the big reveal arrives.

This position at the end however means that there probably should be other active "tentpole" threats to provide spikes in the action, ones which play second fiddle to the monster, and so are mundane or mostly so and affected by its influence. Feral dogs scavenging its kills, its Renfield, locals made hallucinatorily paranoid by the gunk it leaks into the water supply, whatever. Traps could fit too, and I'll touch on them more in the next section.

3. The Unexpected, & Unfairness

One of the few times I can remember being properly horrified by a horror movie was a moment in the otherwise unremarkable Pulse (the American remake of what I hear is the much better Japanese movie Kairo). People are being picked off one by one by ghosts coming through the internet, and when one character's time comes he's melted into a black stain on a wall. Looking back on it now, this was definitely a reference to kodokushi which survived from Kairo, but at the time I experienced a splinter of panic that slipped through my fictional distancing. That splinter could be described as:

What the fuck ghosts aren't supposed to do that???

Effective horror is built on the unexpected, particularly where it intrudes on the otherwise predictable and grounded. Even something as worn into genre as ghosts (sheets with holes poked in them!) can become scary again. This poses a problem with the typical OSR assumptions of play (e.g. the ability of players to gather information to make informed risk vs. reward decisions). I think that used sparingly this is an acceptable trade-off. Running a horror game, we want to maintain players' momentum through the in-game space, keep them touching potential landmines, and scheming their way right down to hell. If every object they pick up turns into a mouth that bites them in half that's not going to happen. If one object in the whole dungeon space does that's a hootin' and a hollerin'.

To a lesser extent this ties into desciption. Everyone's expecting a walking corpse to bite your skull open and eat your brains. Not so many are expecting it to tie you up like your bones are rubber and blow you full of rot-gas 'til you float up and freeze in the stratosphere.

If you can't trust something to be dangerous, you can't trust it at all.

4. Never Forget The Real Horror

The Gnostics were essentially correct, in that the world is ruled by idiot-god optimization algorithms and civilization is on track to be made up of a small class of oligarchs who own everything, the slightly larger class of their toadies who manage what the oligarchs own, the debt-slave masses deprived of freedom, dignity, and security, and then the people from whom no more value can be extracted, who will be left to die from despair, violence, and likely climate change-driven natural disasters. The Gnostics' mistake was in thinking there was any escape.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

They Are Hungry We Are Fat

Abundance above, deprivation below. Nature always balances these gradients, eventually.

A campaign seed for Veins of the Earth*.

How do they rise?
1. Black gates swing open in the depths of the darkest dungeons. This has happened before. This will happen again.
2. Carried in the bellies of behemoth-worms.
3. Marching in a thousand disparate trickles, ant-line vanguards for the hive further beneath.
4. Millenia of excavation, careful sapping, all for a moment of utter collapse.
5. Dragged by fateful chains forged by the words of oracles drunk on the chthonic vapours they sent up.
6. A prince of the molten earth ransomed, bargained, or tricked into making the outer crust shudder and crack just so.

What is the omen of their coming?
1. The value of currencies collapse as markets flood with precious metals.
2. Creatures like blind serpents with many-chambered stomachs glutting in the fields, whole flocks swallowed up at once.
3. Eruptions of dust into the atmosphere, the sun bloating to a fat, dull red. Green trees are overcome by towering mushrooms and new vegetation in necrotic hues.
4. Sorcerer-kings wearing occultum crowns enjoying meteoric ascendancy.
5. Clouds spread tendrils rather than gathering in clumps. Rain falls greasy and sulphurous. All this is the influence of stale gases released from far, far below.
6. Bats disappear from the starry skies. The night belongs to them now.

How do they fight?
1. Preceded by an ultimatum, with generous disinterest to those who surrender and annihilation to those who resist.
2. Like locusts, ravenous violence without hatred. A wavefront of ecological devastation.
3. On a vast and subtle scale with merchantilist fervor, addicting populations to the exports of the underworld.
4. Under the cover of breeds of darkness that thrive on light and life.
5. With the weapons of our own sunken civilizations. Ysian cannons kintsugi’d together with Atlantean orichalcum, among others.
6. Following a wave of ravening plagues glutting on the unadapted cornucopia of the upper world.

What is among them?
1. Fungal networks the size of mountains, thinking slow thoughts so complex that reality bends in the pull of their informational density.
2. Generations of sequential undead, buried, eaten by vermin, the vermin dying, rising, and being eaten in turn and over again for countless inbred years.
3. Stone giants with molten blood. The blood is the life, the body their shell. They will flood our fortresses and take them for their new flesh.
4. Protean intermediate forms spawned from the muds of the Nightmare Sea, adapting to the sun and abundance as they once did to the barren dark.
5. Gap-gods that exist in absence rather than substance: in tunnels and cavities, between words, when you have nothing and no one else.
6. Amorphous, incendiary spirits of coal and oil, dryads compressed together and transmuted with their forests.

What do they carry?
1. Biological bells that ring with rasping tongues. Their tones slither over vast distances and issue orders to war-beasts.
2. Pale and bepincered centipedes in glass terrarium-bottles. The creatures' excrement is a spice as piquant as paprika.
3. Figurines like the negative space in a chunk of pumice, a map of their distant home.
4. Jars of mucal ointment worn as a body coating. Mingles into wounds to put the flesh into torpor, slowing bleeding and dulling pain.
5. Lick-salts borne reverently on golden paddles. A taste skews your sight sideways into a next-door universe.
6. Elaborate braids that encode a writing read by touch in their knots and patterns. Everyday stuff is recorded in strands woven from fungal hyphae, important orders in copper wires.

Why here, why now?
1. Life on the surface has only just proliferated and progressed enough to convince the powers of the greater world below that they might have something worth taking.
2. An adventurer from the sunlit realms, thought lost in the depths, leads their ascension with messianic fury.
3. Reliable confirmation of the existence of the surface is a recent development. For the longest time orthodox cosmological models had an endless continuation of more stone up above.
4. The heart of the world is dying, its heat no longer sufficient to sustain its veins.
5. Interference from the surface has since ancient times been the political scapegoat for domestic problems. A prolonged and exceptional period of deprivation has caused that prejudice to boil over.
6. There is something crawling through the veins. It leaves the dead to rot. It is known only by the carnage that follows behind. If you are close enough to hear it coming, it has already got you. Nothing has yet survived.

What can be done?
1. There are many among them, and the grievances between some are older than the blood feuds of any human clan. Perhaps a wedge could be driven in to divide and better defend against the conquest.
2. As below, so above. Invisible legions lie in the upper air and the void beyond. The trick is learning what you could possibly offer to win them, and whether it is an acceptable price.
3. Salt every inch of lost ground, make every one of their victories a narrow thing fought for tooth and nail. Withstand the attrition, and you might reach a stalemate appreciated by no side but tolerated by all.
4. An army without leadership becomes a directionless horde, unable to apply critical pressure on any particular point. Strike surgically, decapitate the invaders, and weather what follows.
5. Forgive old foes, call up ancient pacts, present a united front to meet the flood.
6. Adapt or die. This is no different from any other extinction. Become the progenitor of surviving surfacekind.

*I started this 4 years ago in January of 2019, and on reflection now it feels diametrically opposed to the themes of VotE. That's fine. If it were too close I'd essentially be stealing Patrick Stuart's work. A man's work is like his child. Who would I be if I stole a man's child? I would be many of the people listed in child sex trafficker Jeffrey Epstein's unredacted little black book.