Wednesday, April 21, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire - Extra Materials: The People of the Hedge

Even long before the coming of the Exarchate and the Illuminated, the peninsula was a land shared between two peoples. In the hills and the valleys, the forests and the meadows, there were humans above and hedgehogs below.

Look beyond the quills and whiskers. The greatest distinction between humans and hedgehogs is what's euphemistically referred to as "The Kiss of the Worm". Without it hedgehogs can't develop properly. They do not gain their intelligence, their size, or their posture, remaining snuffling runts, barely above beasts. These unfortunates are called 'little siblings'. Sometimes they're made deliberately, as a sort of contraception. Sometimes they're accidental, when the Kiss doesn't take.

Misunderstanding of the Kiss has led to terrible strife in the past. Humans, who lacked the Kiss, were believed by some to lack a crucial part of their soul, and so were enslaved and hunted for the medicine of their livers. Humans in turn did not recognize the sapience of the little siblings, and the mystery of the Kiss aroused suspicions and conspiracies, the most innocent of which was that hedgehogs burrowed under farmer's fields to steal their turnips. The universalist teachings of the foreign faiths (universal divinity, for the Illuminated, and universal servitude, for the Exarchate) put the final nail in this conflict, which in any case had been dwindling for centuries as expanding populations brought the peoples into closer contact.

Among humans, hedgehogs rarely occupy obvious positions of power. They cannot interbreed with aristocratic bloodlines. The power they possess tends to be the sort that's less respectable, yet can't be denied: as merchants, clergy, members of artisanal guilds, even criminal organizations. Hedgehogs are looked down upon for eating insects, but because they do they make superb guerilla soldiers. Their natural inclination to digging and resistance to the toxins and stale air underground also make them effective miners.

There is a royally-commissioned group of prospectors, all hedgehogs, who officially are tasked with finding gold and silver for the royal coffers. Unofficially, they are royal spies with an excuse to be present on anyone's land.

Though hedgehogs can eat insects right out of the undergrowth, this is generally seen as a regressive behaviour, best left for little siblings. In hedgehog cuisine insects have endless preparations: spiced, roasted, mashed into paste, liquefied by spiders then imbibed, and so on. Something that can be felt still wriggling for a moment after being swallowed is the most desirable texture. Hedgehog feasts can include columns of ants marching right into diners' mouths, led and sweetened by lines of sugary paste, and brine-tarts with leeches swimming within. Roots and tubers are also enjoyed.

Hedgehogs have much lower alcohol tolerance than humans, and find being drunk less pleasant. Their drug of choice is the inner bark of trees infected with a particular sort of fungus, which is chewed over hours for a mild, dissociative high.

The necessity of the Kiss of the Worm has largely limited hedgehogs to the peninsula, though not for lack of their trying. There are many warren-colonies on distant shores, a few still sustained by immigration, but most abandoned and become abodes of monsters. The hedgehogs' "Worms" are difficult to transplant. There are even legends of an ancient hedgehog nation that dug right under the sea bed, living there in bubble-cities to this day.

With their fur and quills, hedgehogs have less need for clothing, but no less desire to display their status and fashion sense. Clothing is either made so that it will not be punctured by their quills, in the form of scarves, shawls, and aprons, or loosely woven so that quills can poke between the weave without ruining it. Quills too can be dyed by painting around quilling skin, the paint taken up and into the quills as they grow*, the patterns thus made denoting family, birth order, and vocation. The wealthiest warriors have eyelet doublets tailored to fit so that the holes of the eyes let every one of their quills through cleanly. As colours can be hard to distinguish in the darkness beneath the earth, things like scent, variations of temperature and texture, and the sound of rustles are emphasized and appreciated instead. The same preferences apply to hedgehog art. The most beautiful hedgehog architecture is grown instead of built, carefully arranged shoots and roots carrying stones up out of the soil over decades.

Their dead are buried in familial tomb-chambers, and their quills turned into pens used to write solemn music and ancestral prayers. Their children are frightened with stories of jovidies, giant monsters like something between a hawk and a weasel, demons of the empty air that can dive down and wriggle through a warren like furred lightning, gobbling up everyone inside in an instant, and of bloaters. Jovidies are rare enough that they've faded into folklore. Bloaters are unfortunately a real and regular menace.

There's a disease that causes the space between a hedgehog's skin and flesh to fill with buoyant gas. It's uncomfortable, but easily treatable. Some ne'er-do-wells deliberately seek out infection with it, letting it progress until they swell up like living balloons. This lets them commit bizarre acts of banditry, and then float away from any pursuit. These hedgehogs are called bloaters.

* Don't do this with real hedgehogs I don't think it would work.

Tuesday, April 20, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire Session 5: The Wormwood Company Does It Again

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Session 4

Joining for this session were:
-TheisticGilthoniel (, as Ibrahim the Adept
-Renefor ( as Velasco the Heterodox Monk
-Oblidisideryptch (, as Sieur Alastair the Knight

The party's got a self-ascribed name now: "The Wormwood Company". I think it's got something to do with how they poison everything they touch.

After the bang that last session ended with, the party rows their rafts back to the 'I Wanna Die'. Brindle vomits over the side and is comforted by Velasco. They arrive at the barge to discover it in chaos. The raft's much-abused workers and the destitute gambler crowd that Brindle was a part of saw the explosion of the boar on the horizon as an apocalyptic omen, the "spear from the heavens" a sign that the world would be ending soon and the time of debtors overthrowing their creditors was upon them. They had killed many in both Lanky's and Vodyan's factions, and driven the two to the barricaded second and third floors of the barge. A bogoblin spots Cousin Jimerty, who they'd believed to be dead, and fills the party in. They request the heroes' help in bringing down the tyrant Vodyan.

Again, the party is confronted with the contradictions within their own ranks. Sieur Alistair feels his bastardry as a sting among these debauched gamblers, while Ibrahim desires the treasure promised to them. In an un-monkly fashion Velasco declares he is having too much fun to stop the intrigue and adventure now, and reveals that he was kicked out of his monastery, though whether this was for his unorthodox beliefs is not yet known.

Brindle catches up with her former comrades, and the party formulates a plan. At the staircase-barricade Alistair flashes the hell-goose pen's iron key to intrigue the guard posted there, and presses their service to Vodyan. Brought up to Vodyan's suite they discover the froggy-man severely hungover, and Lanky sitting by his bedside. Relieved to see the heroes, Vodyan charges them with ridding the barge of the rebels. Sir Alistair suggests releasing the hell-goose, and Vodyan expresses giddy agreement. Lanky and a couple thugs are sent down with them to the pens.

Cousin Jimerty is held over the barricade to come up with a reason for the assembled mob for Lanky and the thugs to accompany the party without being assaulted. He declares that they are to be fed to the geese. The mob thinks this is a great idea.

Down by the pens the party argues again. What do they truly want here, and what are they willing to risk for it? They decide against releasing the hell-goose, to instead convince everyone else that they had. Lanky and his thugs are fooled, and make a panicked break upstairs.

They make an awful racket, agitating the geese to make an even worse racket. Velasco catches and kills a goose to spread its blood over the flock, giving the others a double-dipping of gore in the process. Ibrahim transfers scars from his poor dog to the geese to play up their brutalized make-up.

The party chases the bloodied geese to the main floor, screaming that the "(hell-)goose is loose!". Fear spreads like widlfire in the already emotional atmosphere. Workers had turned their energies from repair of the barge to the construction of water-worthy escape craft, and so the place clears out pretty quick. Lanky and the thugs who accompanied him are nowhere to be seen. Velasco goes off on his own to find Brindle.

On reporting their success to Vodyan he praises the party and prepares for his escape. Too hungover to walk, he has his guards put together a makeshift pallet to carry him in, and reveals the location of his vault in a hidden compartment in his desk so that his trusted servant Sir Alistair can carry it down. Cousin Jimerty is sent off to find a weapon and put together a distraction.

Vodyan pulls an odd catch on the wall to reveal the wall itself can fall away and become an emergency raft. As his guards are loading him in Jimerty comes shrieking around the corner, sharp table-leg in his hand and fellow bogoblins by his side. He jabs Alistair in the thigh, perhaps harder than the charade called for, and in the chaos of the melee Ibrahim snags the vault (really more of a safe, vault just sounds more 'fantasy' to me), and sprints away. Alistair promises to return it to Vodyan and makes chase, with Jimerty hot on his heels. The bogoblins that followed him fall upon one of the guards, bringing them down into the water under their weight and stabbing them a lot.

Rounding their way back to the former bar of the broken barge, Alistair and Ibrahim reunite with Velasco, who found Brindle hiding in a box of turnip-wine bottles. They also find pieces of Lanky tossed into a bonfire, but the scent-merchant Killian is not seen among the dead or trampled dying. Alistair mercy-kills the latter.

With the payment they were promised secured the party prepares to leave the 'I Wanna Die' behind for good. Cousin Jimerty, having faced enough mortal terror for one lifetime, decides to stay with it. He says he's heard rumours of a bogoblin queen who's set herself up in the northwest side of the swamp that he'll try to join. The party expresses hope that they'll meet again, which causes Jimerty to go pale.

As the giant boar's gore clears from the air the War Dogs are able to pick up the Countess's scent trail, which they follow north-north-west to the swamp's edge. They come across strange people tied to logs bobbing in the water, some struggling to keep upright, some who'd failed their struggle and drowned. Velasco cuts the bonds of one to rescue and interrogate.

This strange person, a blocky man with rusted iron growing across his body like barnacles on a ship's hull, tells them that he was press-ganged into service by a pinecone knight in order to find the Countess ("Counter" by his recollection) by the order of the King in the Pines. He and his companions deserted to go south, where the King's reach is weaker, but were caught and punished. The party inquires if the Daunt was behind their punishment, and he tells them the Daunt would be less merciful. Ibrahim transfers the man's rust to the body of one of his drowned companions, revealing gleaming iron beneath. The man is thankful but cannot understand why Ibrahim would go to the effort when his kind are so easy to replace.

Somehow the conversation turns to the topic of reproduction and sexuality. Brindle finds Velasco's squeamishness on this hilarious. Much confusion and humour is had trying to explain a double-entendre involving "stabbing" to the rust-man. Apparently they have no concept of the stuff, and are simply disgorged from either a northern or a southern gate into an often-short lifetime of war.

While the rust-man refuses their offer to join the party, he appreciates their hospitality, which has convinced him not to simply steal their boat. The party frees his companions who still drew breath and drops them off on a giant turnip, wishing them well on their journey south.

Ahead of the drifting rafts the swamp narrows to the broad mouth of a river, penned on either side by red-iron gates. The water spilling from its mouth is tinged a bloody crimson, and beyond it the reeds bear a steely glint.

What lies for our heroes in this new land? Where will the Countess's trail lead? How will the tides of fate carry Cousin Jimerty, if he and the party meet again? Find out next time, on Beyond the Bizarre Armoire!

Friday, April 16, 2021

D20x5 Bountiful Bows

Yeah I misspelled diabolical what're you gonna do about it.

Table automator can be found here:

D20This bow is made
1 from slats of baleen pulled from the mouth of a world-devouring whale.
2 out of iron extracted from vampire blood.
3 from the ribs and femurs of a world-historical conquerer.
4 from gold bejeweled with rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.
5 from the antlers of a peryton.
6 out of the hands of a doomsday clock.
7 from the rim of a barrel used by the gods to store the mead of poetry.
8 from the shell and pearl of a giant oyster.
9 from a scythe-blade stolen from a soul-reaping psychopomp.
10 out of a segmented length of stones torn from the base of a grand wall that rebuffed a terrible barbarian invasion.
11 from partially-calcified behold eyestalks.
12 from the nails of a hecatoncheire.
13 from a shard fallen from the sky itself, knocked loose by an incursion of star-ghouls.
14 from some fossilized branches of ferns of a line that survived every mass extinction since their genesis.
15 from the silver branches of a tree from the Land of the Ever-Young.
16 from the heartwood of a tree that grew upon the grave of a famous wizard.
17 from an articulated keystone pulled from a grand temple's main gate.
18 from the teeth of a lord among tigers.
19 from a sliver of a crescent moon captured in an enchanted mirror.
20out of frozen ectoplasm, taken from the manifestation of a ghost that died long enough ago to be forgotten by the universe and everything in it.
D20This bow is strung with
1 lion-gut cord. Loosing an arrow from it makes a sound like a lion roaring.
2 a moonbeam. When exposed to the light of the full moon its damage is doubled, but under the new moon it loses its magic power.
3 a giant's sinews.
4 the hair of a sacrificial sacred king.
5 a bolt of lightning. It makes a sound like thunder every time an arrow is loosed from it.
6 a divine serpent's tongue.
7 silk milked from worms glutted on the blood of warriors who've never fled a battle.
8 a puff of smoke that drifted from a witch's pyre.
9 the rigging of a ship that circumnavigated the world.
10 a sliced section of the banner of a conquering legion.
11 a chain that used to bind a titan.
12 a band of alchemical elastic.
13 a wire stretched from a defiled brass idol.
14 golden strands of hay spun by an unnameable fairy.
15 a stream of flowing mercury.
16 a rainbow.
17 a strand of knots sealed with storms by a sea-hag.
18 a strip of paper pulped from a treant.
19 the tail of a trickster monkey deity.
20the belt a great artist used to hang themself with.

D20This bow's power
1 is that arrows it looses expand into a bramble of wood, feathers, and metal barbs around the targets they hit, acting as the Entangle spell.
2 is that arrows it looses stretch across time and space into shimmering tachyon beams. They suffer no range penalties, and always strike first in the initiative order even if their archer did not. If a tachyon beam arrow kills a target who had already acted that round then their actions are retroactively cancelled out.
3 is that arrows it looses can curve around cover in flight, do loop-de-loops, and other such tricks.
4 is that whenever its string is pulled an arrow materializes. It never runs out of ammo.
5 is that it strikes terror into those it strikes. The first target hit by an arrow loosed from the bow in a combat must immediately save vs. morale at disadvantage or flee.
6 is that once per day it can loose a heart-piercing arrow. If this arrow is fired at a living thing with a heart it can't miss, and that thing must save vs. death or instantly die as the arrow burrows through their heart.
7 is that any arrows it looses and any wounds it deals are completely imperceptible by its targets and any other of its wielder's enemies.
8 is that it can loose anything its wielder can hold in one hand as if it were an arrow. If it wouldn't deal damage if thrown it doesn't deal damage as an arrow. Anything from swords to potions to whispers might be loosed.
9 is that it can transmute arrows it looses into venomous snakes mid-flight.
10 is that three times per day its wielder can affect a target struck by its arrow as if Charm Monster had been cast on them by a magic-user of their level.
11 is that arrows it looses fuse into whatever they strike, becoming impossible to remove until the wielder of the bow is killed. The bowstring can be strummed to reverberate in the direction of one of its fused arrows.
12 is that its wielder gains flashes of insight into the minds of those it strikes.
13 is that arrows it looses transform mid-flight into birds of the same sort as the feathers they're fletched with. These birds last for one minute before they disappear in a puff of feathers, and obey the commands of the bow's wielder.
14 is that once per day an arrow it looses can be transformed into a ballista bolt.
15 is that if an arrow it looses slays its target, that arrow can lunge out and strike another nearby target.
16 is that arrows it looses strike with resounding force, knocking back those it hits 5 feet for every point of damage it deals. Distance increases or decreases based on how far the target is from human mass.
17 is that arrows it looses seal the magic of things they strike for 1d4 rounds.
18 is that it deals twice as much damage to those who've broken an oath with its wielder.
19 is that arrows it looses can be transformed into grappling hooks of woven wood and wire, and reeled in with a strength of 18.
20is that arrows it looses transform into spinning chakram-like discs. They'll sever limbs on a critical hit.

D20In order to function properly, this bow
1 can only be used in times of mortal need.
2 must be kept by its wielder's side at literally all times.
3 requires the blessing of a higher religious or temporal authority for a mission it's used for.
4 must first be used by its wielder to slay an enemy stronger than any they've faced before.
5 requires its wielder to spare one enemy for every enemy it kills.
6 must be used to avenge blasphemies spoken in its presence.
7 requires its wielder to challenge rival archers to a contest of skill when encountered.
8 must be wielded to the exclusion of other weapons.
9 must have a prayer for forgiveness offered for its sake whenever it's used to kill.
10 must have a libation poured over it whenever its wielder has a meal.
11 must have war-songs sung to it while it's used.
12 must be ritually married by its wielder.
13 must be kept spotlessly clean.
14 cannot be seen by those who either haven't killed with it or will be killed by it.
15 must be allowed to "sleep" three days for each day it's used.
16 must be washed in fragrant oils if a battle it's used in is lost or fled from.
17 must be used to kill one person related to its wielder.
18 be addressed and treated as if it were a real person of noble rank.
19 must be bathed in the blood of an enemy each day.
20must only be used for honourable combat.

D20According to legend, this bow
1 was used to assassinate an emperor and thrust their former empire into chaos.
2 was once wielded by a hero who united feuding tribes to fend off an unnatural invasion.
3 was used to pin the stars to the vault of the sky to prevent their falling.
4 shot out the sun god's second eye, whose glare was roasting the world.
5 once slew a leviathan and prevented it from drowning all life on land.
6 was central to the tragic end of two star-crossed lovers.
7 dealt the wound that causes the moon's waning.
8 is so fearsome it stained the mountains' crowns white.
9 turned the tide of a slave revolt and won freedom for those born in bondage.
10 was hung as a mere decorative heirloom on the wall of an aristocratic house until an aggrieved servant took it to exact their vengeance.
11 loosed an arrow that pierced the throat of a diabloical bard who was prophesied to sing the song that would end the world.
12 will be found by a warrior who will turn the world's order on its head.
13 killed an emperor of bears who had been holding back the coming of spring to ensure an endless hibernating dream for his subjects.
14 is the key to a dungeon complex that contains wealth beyond imagining.
15 was made as insurance in case a primordial titan loosed its bounds. This bow is the only thing that could wound it and force it back into containment.
16 is the father of all amazons.
17 was made as a matched pair with a magic quiver, and together they achieve their true power.
18 was the weapon of choice of a mercenary captain who conquered a clutch of petty princedoms and transformed them into a merchant republic.
19 was sealed away as it was used to commit an unspeakable crime.
20was used to win an impossible contest and earn the hand of a divine princess.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

GLOG Class: Slasher

Some killers are born, others are made, and some have killing thrust upon them.

Regardless of how you came to be a killer, you've taken to it like a fish to water.

You don't kill for ideology, money, revenge, anything petty like that. It's an art-form, something to be done for its own sake.

Your legend is small right now, whispered of by a handful in marginal corners, but with time and blood it could swell into true infamy.

Someday Death may smile upon you and answer that age-old question posed to it with: "Here is my sting".

GLOG Class: Slasher
Starting Equipment: signature weapon, mask
A: Mutilation, Sequel Bait
B: Master of Fear
C: Inescapable, Grisly Display
D: Rampage

You gain +1 HP for every Slasher template you possess, which you can only access while wearing your mask. For every two Slasher templates you possess you deal +1 damage with your signature weapon.


Mutilation: When you down an enemy you can choose to kill them in a particularly brutal fashion. This makes any other enemies who can see you do it immediately have to test morale. Enemies with 3 HD or more than the enemy you mutilated get advantage on their test.

Sequel Bait: You can play dead so well it's indistinguishable from being dead to anything but magical or intensive medical investigation. A number of times equal to your Slasher [templates], if you would be reduced below 1 HP, you can instead save to remain at 1 HP and automatically play dead. If you've got 3 Slasher templates your ruse is absolutely undetectable by any means.


Master of Fear: When an enemy fails a morale test as a result of your actions, you can loosely choose what their fear response will be, within the general limits of a fight/flight/freeze response. This also applies to successful intimidation attempts.


Inescapable: You can keep pace with anyone fleeing from you while you're chasing them. If they're fleeing by some extraordinary means (flight, teleportation, etc.) then they must save at a penalty equal to your Slasher [templates] or you'll somehow appear on their tail in the next appropriate spot.

Grisly Display: You can work the bodies of your victims into horrifying exhibitions that allow you to make intimidation checks at a distance on anyone who sees them.


Rampage: Once per day, while wearing your mask and wielding your signature weapon, you may go on a rampage. While on a rampage, mutilating an enemy grants you 1d6 temporary HP, up to a maximum of 20 HP total. Temporary HP last as long as the rampage does. The rampage lasts so long as you are fighting or pursuing enemies.

Tuesday, April 13, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire - Extra Materials: Religious Primer

In my ongoing Bizarre the Beyond Armoire campaign (latest session here) religion has come up a surprising amount. Surprising to me at least, as I provided only a barebones summary of the world's religions at the outset.

So my players and anyone else who's interested can have a better understanding of the world without me going on an exposition dump in-session I've put together this primer on the three main religions/religious groups. The entries are based on the level of knowledge & bias the characters would have (e.g. more on the archons, as Velasco is a heterodox archonic monk):

The Exarchate

The church of the archons is called the Exarchate. At least nominally, the Exarchate administers the entire world for the archons. In reality their authority is much more limited, particularly in regions remote from their centers of power like Nalas-Dula where the campaign takes place.

The archons, the celestial planets, even the sun itself are one and the same. By ineffable means (and the occasional meteor impact) they control the fate of all people. Their actions are often inscrutable, when they're even recognized, but their ultimate end is distant yet just governance of the sub-lunar realm. Those loyal to the archons' Order will prosper and be fruitful, the wicked and disobedient will be brought low. Many of the things which their Order includes are commonsensical: be honest and fair in your dealings, obey rightful authority, honour your parents, your friends, and your enemies as they have honoured you. Sometimes it is not so: sacrifice a thousand cattle at this moment at these locations, build a structure of this material to these exacting geometric specifications, say this phrase with this intonation to that person when you receive such and such signal.

They are not anthropomorphic beings, in fact addressing them by names is taboo. That used to be different, but now only remote cults will worship archons individually.

Their priests (called exarchs) are the only ones who may pray to the archons and expect a response. Exarchs are consulted constantly for the interpretation of witnessed omens, advice, and to act as an intermediary for divine requests. Monks & nuns live a step apart from worldly civilization to observe the stars and other signs to interpret the archons' will and nature. Superstitions to attract fortune and ward off misfortune abound among archon-worshipers. So does vegetarianism. They do not view themselves as having dominion over or especially above animals.

Their worship is transactional, more similar to patronage than faith. To the archons humanity (hedgehogs included) shares the position that a draft horse does to us. It is not the draft horse's place to question why it's made to pull the plough, it only knows that it must. We are protected and succored only so long as we are useful. The world holds the ruins of those before us who were not so useful. That attitude is known and accepted even by laypeople, consider the following joke as an example (adapted from Slovenian rockstar philosopher Slavoj Zizek):

A group of archon-worshipers are in a temple publicly admitting their lowness in the eyes of the archons. First, an exarch stands up and says: “O archons, I know I am a mere beast. I am nothing without your favour!” After he has finished, a rich merchant stands up and says, beating himself on the chest: “O archons, I am also a mere beast, I pursue wealth over your will. I am nothing without your favour!” After this spectacle, a poor ordinary archon-worshiper also stands up and also proclaims: “O archons, I am nothing without your favour.” The rich merchant kicks the exarch and whispers in his ear with scorn: “What insolence! Who is that guy who dares to claim that he is nothing without the archons' favour too!”.

This is accepted because the archons generally hold up their end of the bargain. An ice age has been held back, a supervolcano lulled into dormancy, and legions of demoniac enemies have been obliterated by light from the heavens by their whim. That being said they are not all-powerful (but more powerful than any earthly ruler), they are not all-knowing (but more knowledgeable than any who have not been around since the start of time). Sometimes some things slips through the cracks.

The Shining One

Physical properties, except perhaps position, are all ultimately just descriptions of how an entity will behave in various circumstances. So far as we know, there is nothing it is to be an electron but to interact in this way with the electromagnetic field, this way with gravity, etc. Physics tells us about the mathematical structure of the universe, and the entities it posits are just particular roles within that structure. Trying to find an intrinsic nature to the electron independent of its physical role is like trying to find an intrinsic nature to the number three, independent of its role in arithmetic.

For experiences, this is not the case. Red is the sensation produced by particular patterns of nerve firings, it results in particular outputs like the act of saying "that color is red", it is similar to the sensation of orange, less similar to blue, and less similar still to the feeling of sneezing, but a complete characterization of all of these things doesn't tell you what it's actually like to see a red thing- experiences have intrinsic properties. They have content, independently of their role in some larger structure.

You are not merely physical. You have experiences. This is because you are not of the physical universe. Not originally at least.

There was no beginning to this universe. There was only matter, without context, without purpose, without experience. Then there was light. That light was the Shining One.

You are a piece of that light. That is how you are able to experience. That is why you give meaning to the world.

That light, of which you are a part, is not meant to stay here in this universe. It is only one point in a long, possibly eternal journey There are powers which seem far above you which find you exploitable. They would trap you here. Some among them are called the archons. Some of these archons are known to you by name and title:
-Sabaoth the Red, Sabaoth of Armies, the Star of Discord
-Adonaios the Golden, the Sun, the crippled runt of their litter
-Horaios of Wealth, Horaios the Silver, Goddess of the Coin
-Saklas the Purple, Saklas the Ender, He Who Devours His Children

The Shining One's premier servants in this temporal world are the paladins: living saints, fierce bodhisattvas, walking, talking, burning holes in the universe, far closer to monster than mortal. A single one could break a siege or turn the tide of a battle. They are fortunately rare, and rarely active. They desire nothing more than universal annihilation. They are certain that, on a long enough timescale, they will win.

The Shining One is known according to Exarchate doctrine as TH-R-ZD-N, an entity of invasive  and malignant chaos. They might even be right.

The Natural Spirits

There have been many Orders, many orderings of the world towards an end. However the world is a very complex place, and so the systems for ordering the world must be complex too. The problem with complex systems is that such systems behave in ways not predicted by their components. Even the mere maintenance of an Order produces chaos. Chaos in turn produces irregularities in the functions of elements and forces, which demand an expansion of Order to regulate.

Throughout time there have been agents tasked or created to regulate these irregularities: mephits, nymphs, elementals, and genies among them. Inhabitants and avatars of aspects of the natural world that ensure the natural world behaves in accordance with the natural Order.

Even as agents of Order these spirits are not immune to moral hazard. They may be bribed, seduced, appealed to, coerced, tricked, and so on to bend their charge to the benefit of mortals, regardless of how it might affect the world's stability (or the plans of the world-rulers) in the longest term. Over generations these procedures can become enshrined in impossible-to-dislodge ritual.

That is the basis of worship of the natural spirits. Do a little something for them, they'll do a little something for you: make rain come during an ordained drought, bring the fish swarming upriver out of breeding season, move the roots out of this field, and so on. As long as it stays out of sight of higher powers, everybody might end up happy for a long time.

Some related reading (spiritually if not literally in the same universe):


The Republic of Beards

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire Session 4: It All Returns to Nothing, It All Comes Tumbling Down, Tumbling Down, Tumbling Down

Session 1

Session 2

Session 3

Joining for this session were:
-Maxcan7 (, as Mr. Fox and his War Dogs (less one)
-TheisticGilthoniel (, as Ibrahim the Adept
-Renefor ( as Velasco the Heterodox Monk
-Oblidisideryptch (, as Sieur Alastair the Knight

This one was a doozie.

Things kicked off by rushing the 2nd in command of Lanky's crew to find the guy before he burned the barge down, and then some bickering on what the end game of their time on the barge was. Velasco insisted on saving Brindle (and only Brindle), the War Dogs wanted to become the puppetmaster, and Sieur Alastair was fed up with the criminal sorts that surrounded them.

They settled on setting up a murder triangle/quadrilateral by convincing Vodyan that the aristocratic mannequettes wanted to kill him. This would not be too difficult, as they really did want to kill him (see: last session).

The party sidled up to a drunken Vodyan at the barge's makeshift bar. Velasco pulled a double-cross on the mannequettes, revealing the poisoning plan to Vodyan, and Alastair won his trust by sharing a few rounds of drinks and playing an oracular dice game.

Vodyan's condition swiftly deteriorated with the amount of turnip-liquor he was chugging, so Alastair carried him up to his suite. Before passing out Vodyan entrusted the knight with a big iron key, which would unlock the pen of the pride of his goose-breeding endeavours, a "very big goose". Alastair also steals a bottle of turnip-liquor from under the drunkard's bed.

Perhaps seeking some heavy support to go with their more subtle intrigues, the party made their way to the goose-pens in the barge's belly. Some quick talk and flashing of the key convinced the mannequette guarding the door that they were here on Vodyan's business. The mannequette's day was ruined by this, as they had always wanted to be entrusted with the very big goose.

The bogoblin who had been beaten by Vodyan's thugs last session is found hung up and badly beaten. The party cut him down and made their way to the huge, iron-barred door which held the goose they were looking for.

-My description of this door, and the feeding/viewing slots it held, was not the best. This led to a brief and retconned fight with the goose because I thought that the party had opened the door to look at it. A lesson in clearer communication of imagined spaces, and smoothing over differences in understanding-

Peeking through the view-slot, they see that it truly is a very big goose, perhaps comparable to a smaller elephant, with curling horns of beak-stuff crowning its head. In my notes I have it listed as 'the hell-goose', but the party settles on calling it 'Demogoosegon'. Sieur Alastair is immediately enamoured with it and begins to desire it as his mount, despite how much this might hurt his horse's feelings, and the goose's own diabolical temperament.

After interrogating a worker patching up the barge's hull damage, they learn that the formerly strung-up bogoblin "Counsin Jimerty" was Demogoosegon's handler, so Alastair gave the little guy some water to rouse him, then carried him off on what was claimed to be Vodyan's orders. The workers were all thoroughly terrified of the party by this time.

Deciding to give the wheels of intrigue they set in motion some time to spin, the party prepared to head off to the giant boar corpse that the scent-merchant Killian had mentioned. A raft is built with requisitioned repair materials to hold some of the quickly-growing party who wouldn't fit in the boat, and they set off to a relatively uneventful journey.

Before sundown they come across their destination: a dead and rotting boar big enough to dwarf the I Wanna Die with an equally rotting tree piercing up out its back. The party investigates the corpse and the tree, attempt to talk to the tree for some reason, and discuss possible entrances (the eye-sockets? the nostrils? the anus?) before Ibrahim brought up the possibility of using his magic to simply blow it to kingdom come.

-Ibrahim has access to biomancer and necromancer spells from Skerples' Many Rats on a Stick version of the GLOG. The spell he would use is Explode Corpse. This spell has no size limit. Thank you Skerples-

Agreeing that that would be the simplest and quickest way to fulfill their mission, the party retreated some distance to a floating turnip on the edge of the crater in the swamp's vegetation left by the boar's death throes. Alastair removes and covers his armour, the animals and cargo are battened down, and Ibrahim conducts his fell ritual, permanently sacrificing some of his own health to fuel the detonation. And what a detonation it was.

Unbeknownst to the party, an entire nascent civilization of maggot-people was flourishing in the giant boar's meat and bowels. I had a whole dungeon written up for them and everything. Alas, the best laid plans of DMs are nothing before the ingenuity of players. The boar disintegrates into a reeking mushroom cloud and the party is showered in pink mist and the obliterated material culture of the maggot-people. Cousin Jimerty, shocked out of his half-conscious state by the shockwave, begins to see Ibrahim as something akin to a god of destruction.

Brindle questions Velasco on why the archons, if they are really benevolent and loving divinities, would allow such an atrocity to happen. Velasco and Ibrahim agree that the archons prefer to let people have free will even if it means evil on a scale such as they just perpetrated could happen, thus solving the problem of evil forever.

The session and even our call ended here. Where usually there is some post-game shooting the shit, then there was only grappling with the enormity of their deed.

Will Ibrahim continue his trend of exponentially-increasing massacres? Who will be left alive on the I Wanna Die when the party returns? Where could the Countess have ended up by now? Find out next session of Beyond the Bizarre Armoire.

Monday, April 12, 2021

Beyond the Bizarre Armoire: Session 3; Getting Intruiging

Session 1

Session 2

After a riveting discussion on Y2K, the adventure continues. We're joined by:
-Maxcan7 (, as Mr. Fox and his War Dogs (less one)
-TheisticGilthoniel (, as Ibrahim the Adept
-Renefor ( as Velasco the Heterodox Monk

The party receives a hero's welcome at the wrecked gambling barge 'I Wanna Die' after saving them from a very pissed-off tree last session.

After surveying the crowd, apparently gathered into factions, they decided to first speak with the mouse Brindle, who had gambled away everything but the shirt on her back. They learned that Brindle was an escapee from the cult of the great worm out east, and her family shunned her for rejecting their anti-clothing beliefs. The party decided they should try to rescue Brindle and her faction of destitute gamblers. Velasco in particular was smitten with the mouse, though Brindle seemed more interested in practical ways to escape the swamp and better her lot than with tales of the archons' love and romantic gestures.

Brindle, depicted fully be-shirted by Renefor

After this contact was made with Lanky, B.K.'s partner in crime, a tall and skinny mannequette dressed like a wise guy. Lanky informed them that the money they were promised by B.K. for rigging the goose-race was kept under lock and key in the suite of the barge's owner, a goose-breeder named Vodyan, who apparently had his own scam going which was ruined in the feast of jockey-flesh last session. Lanky was clearly not the brains of the operation, as he proposed a brutal smash-and-grab. The party, not particularly keen on either Lanky or Vodyan, decided to sow rumours between the barge's factions and snatch the money once chaos ensued.

Taking advantage of Vodyan's regard for them, the party convinced him that B.K., apparently one of his many grandsons, in fact respected him and that his scoundrely ways were simply an attempt to win Vodyan's respect in return. They also turned Vodyan against some of his other relatives on the barge.

Inside the ruptured belly of the ship a makeshift bar had been set up. There the party had a long conversation with the bartender, a lackie whose entire liver had been hacked away. Ibrahim got on the bartender's good side by transferring the scars from his side to Ibrahim's dog, easing his discomfort. The party heard about the Loggerhead, a creature who traded in peoples' parts and thereby created all lackies. While enjoying a drink, they overheard distressed noises below deck.

Among the goose-breeder Vodyan's entourage, the party first talked to a strange little creature with a trunk and no mouth named Killian, a self-described scent merchant. Killian had fallen on hard times due to the stench of rotten pork from the corpse of a great boar that the Daunt had slain for the King's wedding feast, but had lost so many men in the attempt that it lacked the manpower to dredge the boar's corpse out of the swamp.

After this talk with Killian they had a tea party with some fancily-dressed mannequettes, who lacking tea filled their cups with turnip-liquor. To stir up discord in Vodyan's ranks they claimed that the toady man was the one who planned B.K.'s murderous scam, an accusation which riled the noble crew up enough to try killing Vodyan on the spot. Not wanting such open bloodshed, the party talked them down to a poisoning, which Velasco agreed to perform in exchange for a handful of gold coins.

This sparked an OOC discussion as to how the barge's intrigue fits into the big picture of rescuing the Countess. Was the potential for gaining allies worth the time spent here?

Though he'd been rebuffed earlier after offering a bouquet of swamp-flowers to Brindle (who by this time was sick of the swamp), the offer of gold coinage won her over, and she agreed to team up with the party.

While Velasco charmed the mouse, the War Dogs decided to investigate the sounds they overheard at the bar. Sneaking below deck via a circuitous route, a dog spied one of Vodyan's thugs torturing a bogoblin worker, apparently based on the lie the party had said about his treacherous family earlier.

The party circled back with Lanky's group to find the mannequette had grown impatient and decided to go ahead with the assault plan. They convinced his 2nd in command who'd remained behind that they had another, better plan in the works, and to hold off on setting fire to the barge for the moment. That is the briefly-delayed powderkeg explosion the session ended on.

(Between sessions, the previously unnamed pinecone knight who had accompanied the party from the watchtower at the armoire's door is named 'Silverfrost')

Character Cards:

There are a lot of NPCs to juggle in this game. Here's some quick summaries based on what the party knows so far to keep them all straight:

In the mortal world:

Countess Aluya
-Still missing

Count Omedo
-Killed Aluya's brother in the war
-War buddies with Mr. Fox and the War Dogs

Maid Nadiya
-Convinced to stay quiet and stay put until the Countess has been rescued

Beyond the bizarre armoire:

-Pinecone knight
-First person the party met beyond the armoire
-Agreed to guide the party to the King's palace in gratitude for them healing his comrade

The Couturier Spider
-Big spider
-Obsessed with fashion
-Lives down a well
-Promised silk drip to the party if they brought it a living victim
-Fears the great worm will find it if it emerges

The King in the Pines
-Nominal ruler of the world beyond the armoire
-Ordered the Countess's kidnapping, wants to marry her
-Possible mistaken identity(?)

The Daunt
-Bad news
-The King's right hand man
-Can't be killed by mortal means
-Killed the great boar in the swamp
-Killed a lot of people really
-Razed the Couturier Spider's village and strung up some of the pirate mannequettes that stole the Countess from under his nose

Captain Amberdrip
-Leader of the pinecone knight outpost in brocadia
-Defeated by Sir Alistair in a duel for medicine and the freedom of Sir Pineleaf

Sir Pineleaf
-Pinecone knight disgraced by failure to retrieve the Countess before the mannequettes did
-Sworn to serve Sir Alistair for winning back his honour

-Pinecone knight
-Guards the brocadia outpost's dock
-Sold raft to party in exchange for Ibrahim's rings
-Someone on the I Wanna Die owes him money
-Sketchy guy

-Grandson of Vodyan
-Promised to split gambling winnings with party if they helped rig the result of a goose-race

-Tall, skinny mannequette
-B.K.'s accomplice on the I Wanna Die
-Fond of arson

-Grandfather of B.K.
-Goose-breeder and owner of the I Wanna Die
-Paranoid about his family trying to overthrow him

-Mercenary attitude
-Destitute escapee from the cult of the great worm
-Agreed to work with the party for money and a way out of the swamp

The Loggerhead
-Creator of the lackies, steals/repossesses/buys and sells body parts
-Not a turtle

The Great Worm
-Eats clothing
-Lives to the east
-Tyrant over the nudist mice
-Feared by the Couturier Spider

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

GLOG Class: Abjurer Wizard

You're a specialist in wards, protections, and bindings. If there's an evil that's been sealed away for a thousand years it was probably an abjurer that did it. Might've even been your master's master's master. Abjuration's not as flashy as throwing fireballs, but someone's gotta do it.

Starting Equipment:
Wool cloak, ceremonial silver lock and key, apotropaic amulet

You can invest a spell into a physical token no bigger than your fist, and set the spell to go off once the token has met a specific condition*. Tokens don't last longer than a day. If a token's destroyed then the spell and any magic die used to cast it are lost. 

* Condition must be something you personally could observe if you were at the token's position, no setting them to go off if P=NP.

If you personally initiate violence (e.g. sneak attack, duel challenge, etc.) then you lose a magic die. Provoking someone into attacking you is fine.

1. Stretch a strand of your hair across a threshold. You'll receive a mental alarm sufficient to wake you up if the hair is crossed.
2. Tell at a glance if someone or something is magically protected.
3. If you cup something completely in both hands and whisper magic words to it, it cannot harm you so long as you continue to do so, whether it be a lump of burning coal, or poison dart frog, or whatever else.

1. MD only return to your pool on a 1 for a day.
2. Spell affects you instead of its intended target.
3. You become unable to see or hear beyond any threshold (doorway, your own barriers, etc.) for an hour.
4. Paralyzed for 1d6 rounds.
5. You're flung out the nearest exit of the room you're in. If you're not in a room it happens the next time you enter one.
6. Any conditional spells you've set up go off simultaneously.

1. Your soul's resistances weaken. Automatically fail any saves vs. magic and possession for the next day.
2. The weakening spreads to your entire being. Fail all saves for the next day. You also become homo sacer, without legal protections, for the same time. Anyone who sees you recognizes this. It's essentially a one-person Purge (like the movie franchise).
3. You become a pariah to the universe. You can own nothing. You can never remain in one place long enough to rest. The law will not recognize your humanity. Fate sees it so. Anyone who shelters you or stays by your side will start to suffer the same effect as long as they do.

1. Stasis
2. Barrier
3. Sanctuary
4. Deflection
5. Clear the Air
6. Against Prying Eyes
7. Iron Binding
8. Enfolding Seal
9. Return to Sender
10. Expand Space
11. Guardian Spirit
12. Absolute Territory

1. Stasis
R: touch
T: creature or object
D: [sum] rounds
Touched target becomes locked in time, unmovable (relative to the world's surface) and invincible for the duration. Creatures get save to resist.

2. Barrier
R: touch
T: class of creature or individual
D: concentration
Draw a line in a soft surface or with sprinkled powder and name a class of creature (goblins, birds, etc.) or an individual. To these targets the line will act as a solid, invisible wall with either [sum] HP if a class of creature was named, or [sum]x[dice] if an individual was named. All attacks against the barrier automatically hit.

3. Sanctuary
R: 50 feet
T:  [sum] HD of creatures
D: 10 minutes
Affected creatures must save to attack one another. A creature that makes its save is not longer protected by the spell. You may include yourself in the affected creatures without spending any [sum].

4. Deflection
R: touch
T: self
D: [dice] rounds
You can deflect the next [dice] non-magical attacks aimed at you onto another creature within touch range. If there are no eligible targets the spell has no effect.

5. Clear the Air
R: 20 feet
T: volume
D: [dice] rounds
Within [sum]5x5x5 feet volume any liquids or contaminants are gently pushed aside until only breathable air is left within the area. Deals [sum] damage to fluid or gaseous creatures if cast inside them.

6. Against Prying Eyes
R: touch
T: area up to [dice]x5 feet in diameter
D: [sum] rounds
Creatures outside the area must save or become physically unable to look at it, even in their peripheral vision.

7.  Iron Binding
T: point
D: [sum] minutes
An iron chain [dice]x20 feet long erupts from a point you touch. You can choose to have one end bolted to a solid surface. When the chain emerges you can use it to tie something within its length up with a ranged grapple attack. After the spell runs out the chains crumble to rusty dust.

8. Enfolding Seal
R: touch
T: object or creature
D: 1 hour
Lay a sheet of paper, blanket, or similar surface on or below a creature or object no bigger than 10x10x10 feet. That target is then folded up inside the surface, effectively existing in a pocket dimension for the duration of the spell. Unfolding the surface or damage to the folded surface immediately breaks the spell. Creatures get a save to resist.

9. Return to Sender
R: 20 feet
T: [sum] HD of hostile summoned or magically created creatures and constructs
D: [dice] minutes
Creatures that fail their save are turned against the one who sent them against you with the same level of hostility. Particularly loyal creatures get a bonus to their save equal to their HD.

10. Expand Space
R: 20 feet
T: two points
D: Concentration, up to [dice]x2 rounds
Space is warped so that the distance between two points within 20 feet of you and each other is increased by [sum]x5 feet. This distance is only experienced when moving between the two points, moving sideways between them isn't affected.

11. Guardian Spirit
R: Touch
T: Animal figurine
D: [dice] hours
Place down an animal figurine. If the real animal's HD would be equal to or less than [dice]x2 then a guardian spirit in the form of that animal will be summoned. The spirit will guard an area up to 50 feet across, and attempt to non-lethally subdue any trespassers who you have not designated as guests. The spirit can see the invisible and the true form of shapeshifters. If the figurine is moved from its initial spot the guardian spirit is banished.

12. Absolute Territory
R: self
T: 10 feet diameter sphere
D: 10 minutes or until area is left, or see below
Choose up to [dice] abstractions or forces (death, gravity, magic, etc.). A 10 feet diameter bubble is created around you wherein those things effectively don't exist. You are not protected from any side effects this might have. If you invest 4 dice into the spell then it lasts until you leave the area. Explosions, radiation, and the like from removing the strong nuclear force or whatever will not pass beyond the area of the bubble even after it drops.

Thursday, April 1, 2021

Twenty Minute Dungeon Challenge: The First Batch

Make a dungeon in twenty minutes. Try to make it not completely suck. Simple enough:

This post's got three of them, if anyone's interested I can make cleaned-up versions:

1. Play-Palace of the Deposed Prince

The previous monarch spoiled his sole heir rotten, emptying his treasury to commission a wondrous hide-away full of toys and wonders for the child. That's not the only reason he was overthrown, but it was a big one. The play-palace and the prince were lost in the chaos of the rebellion, its treasures ripe for the taking, if only you can find it...

2. Perplexing Problem of the Prize-Winning Pumpkin

That is not dead which can eternal lie... in the pumpkin patch. Farmer Portman thought he'd struck orange gold when his pumpkin won the village's biggest produce competition by a landslide, but then it just kept growing, and growing, and growing! Turns out some nameless sorcerer in league with dark powers was killed and buried on the land his fields now occupy, and the lingering dregs of their spirit had finally managed to seize a new, unconventional host. Many of the village's inhabitants have now fallen under the pumpkin's dread influence. Are you a bad enough dude to get this gourd to give up the ghost once again?

3. Crawling Cannibal's Creepy Cabin (more of a lair than a dungeon really)

It's kind of like The People Under the Stairs (kino flick). This cozy-seeming cabin turns out to be the honeyed web of an invertebrate killer!

-Twenty minutes is not a long time for much besides being on fire
-Coming up with decent puzzles quickly is hard
-Twenty minute hexcrawl? Possible, maybe even more feasible than a dungeon
-Favourite is the Play-Palace, did not have nearly enough time to put to paper what I had in my head for it
-This was a fun challenge and I encourage bored people everywhere to try their hand at it