Wednesday, August 25, 2021

D12 Ensorcelled Scabbards

There's enough magic swords floating around out there I bet could run a game every day for a decade and still not run out of new ones to stock your hoards.

You know what I haven't seen too many of? Magic scabbards. Can't have a sword without a scabbard. It'd be inconvenient to carry, and vulnerable to rust. Here's twelve (D12) of them:

1. A History of Its Violence: Appears as an ornate, leather-bound book. Its cover is decorated with heraldry and images of clashing swords that change day-by-day. Its pages are normally blank, but a sword plunged into them will dissolve into ink and spread into words across them. These words will describe the entirety of its past and properties in exhaustive, boring detail that would take days to get through. Running your hand across the words lets you draw the sword again.

2. Deeper Goes The Crimson Ocean: A scabbard of rusted iron and polished mahogany. It is carved with flocks of bats in flight. The scabbard contains the blood of every victim of a sword it's held, which disappears into the scabbard the moment it's spilled, and is rendered weightless and uncoagulating. This is great for cleaning up crime scenes. If tipped out the blood flows from the scabbard's throat. It currently contains a large pond's worth of blood.

3. Scabbard of the Empty-Handed Warrior: Made of silver fir, adorned with delicate curlicues of actual silver. Anything can be placed in this scabbard, and drawn out as a sword of the same material. Most materials will probably make shitty swords, and break on a critical failure. If you don't put anything in, you can draw a sword of air that dissipates on any failure. As an example, if you put in a cockatrice's corpse, the sword will retain its petrifying power (until it breaks because it's made of meat, feathers, and bone). Other materials may have their own particular properties, even if they're subpar and break easily (e.g. obsidian, smoke, wight's finger, etc.).

4. The Serpent Sheathes: A trio of nigh-immortal snakes, sibilant siblings of uncertain origin. Each can swallow blades of a certain size, and if fed with living prey regurgitate those blades coated in their venom. If one could find a way to speak with them, they be a valuable, if serpentinely biased, source of history. They can't stand each other anymore and will refuse to be carried in the same party:
-Kipoka: White and purple. Delicate enough to wrap around one's wrist. Can swallow daggers, and nothing bigger. Her poison inflicts blindness on a failed save, and lasts for 1d12 strikes. She prefers animals no smaller than a squirrel.
-Dhaifuka: Red and yellow. Bears a spiny rattle on the tip of his tail. Can be worn as a belt. Swallows blades as big as longswords, and must be fed with a goat, or a pile of rabbits to regurgitate them. His poison halves a victim's strength on a failed save, and lasts for 1d8 strikes.
-Fuvuka: Black and green. Her tongue bulges obscenely. Must be draped around one's shoulders, if she is to be carried at all. Her poison causes death by throbbing of the brain on a failed save, and lasts for 1d4 strikes. She will accept nothing less than a horse to surrender the greatswords she swallows.

5. The Scamp's Stick: A gnarled wooden scabbard. While your sword's sheathed in it, it will appear as a simple walking stick, and you will appear as a feeble beggar, not even worth the effort of harassing. While it's in its walking stick form and used to support you, you can move at a normal pace even if you're exhausted and your legs are mangled.

6. Trucebringer: Made of olive-wood and burnished brass. It bears carvings of clasped hands. If Trucebringer holds a sword that has not yet been drawn, any others within 30 feet must contest its bearer in strength to be able to draw or nock their own weapon. If a treaty is sworn upon the scabbard, either party immediately becomes aware if the other breaks its terms.

7. Whispering Wind: A scabbard of clouded and rippling crystal. Swords drawn from it become invisible, and intangible to those they strike. Wounds dealt by such swords do not appear and take effect until after the swords have been returned to the scabbard. The appearance of wounds is accompanied by a rush of air towards its bearer's location.

8. Duelist's Delight: Made from bands of aspen and yew bound by rings of dark steel. Each round its bearer wields it in one hand they can decide whether it acts as a +1 shield, or a +1 club, with any penalties for dual-wielding with the latter being halved. Regardless of local custom, any blade drawn from it will be accepted as its wielder's weapon in a duel.

9. The Yearning Grasp: A scabbard of sticky willow-wood, decorated with gentle arcs of magnetite. If no weapon is within it, its bearer can attempt to draw a weapon within 30 feet into it. If that weapon is held by another they must save vs. wands to hold onto it, with a cumulative penalty of 2 each turn its bearer concentrates on the weapon. The scabbard adjusts its shape to fit the weapon.

10. The Spellsword's Sheathe: Adorned with purple-and-gold cloth. If its bearer succeeds in a save against a spell, there is a 2-in-6 chance that the sheathe will capture the spell. The next time a sword is drawn from it, it will cast that captured spell on the first target it strikes. The sheathe can contain only one spell at a time. While it contains a spell the gold sections of it emit a soft glow.

11. What Sound Prudence: A scabbard made of shark-leather, with a damascened locket and chape. When held, its bearer may consider fighting someone or something in their line of sight, and receive a notion of the difference in their power by the way the scales of its leather feel. If they're weaker than their intended opponent, the scales will feel proportionately rougher, and likewise smoother if they're stronger.

12. Scarseer: A grotesque construction of severed keloid tissue stapled together with gleaming bronze. Its locket is decorated with a bushel of fur resembling a lion's mane. Once a day, its bearer can access a vision of someone who's been wounded by a sword drawn from it, as Clairvoyance.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

GLOG Class: The Most Rangerous Ranger

Vayra over at The Mad Queen's Court has posted the following assessment of ranger and ranger-adjacent classes thus far made for the GLOG:

As you will note, none before have met all 16 criteria. This one does, making me the victor: King of the GLOG semiurge, GLOG emperor 1,000,000 years semiurge.

GLOG Class: The Most Rangerous Ranger
Starting Equipment: Two swords, bow, twenty arrows, hiking boots, waterproof cloak, bag of wound-staunching moss
A: Forager, Crazy As A Fox
B: Lay of the Land, Surefooted
C: Wild at Heart, Know Your Prey
D: Virtues of Beast & Bough


Forager: You get twice as much food and water when foraging3.

At Template B you can forage for materials to make into stuff instead of or in addition to food. For every inventory slot of rations you would get, you can instead get an item or collection of items that fill as many inventory slots that could conceivably be made of natural materials you've found8.

At Template C you can use this ability to make preternatural arrows with abilities based on the feathers they're fletched with as follows13:
-Songbird: You can ventriloquize a short statement at the arrow's point of impact.
-Owl: Arrow is totally silent.
-Swift: Arrow's range before taking penalties is doubled.
-Shrike: If arrow's target is within 5 feet of an environmental danger (pit, spikes, fire, etc.) they must save or be knocked into it.
-Penguin: Arrow moves through and can be loosed in water as though it were air.
-Hummingbird: Arrow can be made to curve around corners and otherwise not move in normal arc.
-Seagull: Arrow extinguishes fires it's shot through.
-Carrier Pigeon: Arrow has +2 to hit if you know target's name.
-Crow: Arrow deals minimum of 4 damage to undead targets.
-Vulture: Arrow has +1 to hit and damage if target is below half HP.
You can make one arrow per inventory slot you'd get foraging. Bird types must be around in area to make arrows. Other feather/power combos at DM's discretion.

Crazy As A Fox: If you're fighting in an unconventional yet stylish way (two swords16, biting, shooting bow with feet) you reduce any penalties by 2. At Template C you reduce penalties by 41.


Lay of the Land: The first time you enter a hex you can learn one of the following:
-What the weather will be for the rest of the day, and the following day11.
-Sense if there's anything unnatural in the hex (natural magic, like a dryad, would not be sensed). Human constructions count as unnatural4.
-What the footprints of creatures on the hex's encounter table look like, and how big those creatures are.

Spending an hour familiarizing yourself with the area allows one of the following, potentially with some preconditions, or getting any of the previous options:
-Change the weather to be a step better or worse for the rest of the day/for the next day, if you've already predicted it. Changes take 1d6 hours to set in.
-The location of any lairs in the hex, if you know of those lairs' owners6.
-Surprise the next wilderness encounter you have2.
-Intuit the particular type of unnatural feature you've learned is present.

Surefooted: Natural obstacles (scree, slopes, bogs, etc.) penalize your movement or climbing one step less than they normally would (e.g. move over plains as paved roads, hills as though they're plains, or however it might work in your game). This also works for travel times while hexcrawling5.

You leave no trace of your passage through natural environments unless you choose to (and can choose to leave misleading traces), and natural features such as a forest floor covered in dry leaves don't penalize your stealth checks10.


Wild at Heart: You can effectively talk to wild animals through body language, mimicking vocalizations, and so on. They're still dumb and probably not nearly as pro-social as humans, and so getting them to do what you want or even just getting useful information from them may be difficult9.

If you build a strong bond with an animal you can make it your companion. Your companion animal will be able to anticipate your orders and act according to your will without needing to be explicitly ordered to. It will also be well-behaved unless extremely stressed, so you don't need to worry about your hippo companion rampaging through the market, for example. You can only have one true companion animal at a time, and can't take a new one until your old one dies and you've appropriately mourned it7.

Know Your Prey: Once per day when attacking a creature you can list substantial and distinct facts about it (e.g. one fact about its appearance, one fact about its behaviour, one fact about its history, etc.). Each fact adds +1 damage, up to +3 if the facts are generic to the type of creature, and up to +6 if the facts are specific to the creature as an individual. Facts that have been used for a particular creature or type of creature can't be used again15.


Virtues of Beast & Bough: Once per day while foraging you can find a magic herb. The herb has an effect as a random spell when imbibed in a random manner, as per the tables below. Spells are cast with [sum] and [dice] of 1. Herbs last 1d6 days before they wilt to uselessness14:

This herb casts (D20):
1. Clarity
2. Reform
3. Detect Metals
4. Forget
5. Alter Self
6. Powerful Presence
7. Wizard Vision
8. Hold Person
9. Shrivel
10. Sleep
11. Fear
12. Rot
13. Grease
14. Cure Wounds
15. Vigour
16. Light
17. Olfactory Revelation
18. Protection from [Element]
19. Raise Spirit
20. Feather Fall
All spells per Skerples' Many Rats on a Stick GLOG. Thank you Skerples, great job! Add/remove spells at your discretion.

When (D6):
1. Its smoke is inhaled
2. Chewed
3. Brewed into tea
4. Ground and snorted
5. Crushed and rubbed on something
6. Jabbed with its thorns

In addition to the herb, you can also take a trophy from a dead magical monster that casts a spell related to its magical abilities (e.g. Blink for a blink dog's ear). Same rules as herbs wrt power and how long they last12.

1 First criterion

2 Second criterion

3 Third criterion

4 Fourth criterion

5 Fifth criterion

6 Sixth criterion

7 Seventh criterion

8 Eighth criterion

9 Ninth criterion

10 Tenth criterion

11 Eleventh criterion

12 Twelfth criterion

13 Thirteenth criterion

14 Fourteenth criterion

15 Fifteenth criterion

16 Sixteenth criterion

Saturday, August 21, 2021

D20x5 Sword & Sorcery City-States

Click button below for a city-state of your very own:

Make your own generators by following this'n here link:

D20This city-state lies 
1 piled atop an ancient tel, swollen with the waste of a thousand generations.
2 like an overfed hog clogging a mountain pass, the only way past remaining being through.
3 at the mouth of a river delta, draining it to fill its canals and waterwheels.
4 ringed around a cenote into which live sacrifices are tossed.
5 astride a raging waterway. One half has been abandoned by the law for generations, and respectable folk don’t cross over anymore, at least not when they could be seen doing it.
6 at the base of a gargantuan toppled tower, its oldest and proudest buildings constructed from the thing’s fallen bricks.
7 arranged along an abstract petroglyph the thing’s lines making its roads and its tangles the city’s centres. 
8 deeply carved into a cliff-face, its stairs and towers puckered out in urban relief.
9 layered again and again upon its own ruins, destroyed and rebuilt over the ages.
10 in a lonely harbour on a deadly shore.
11 atop the canopy of a fossilized forest.
12 floating atop a crater lake which glows an otherworldly colour at night, fed by its deformed yet fecund flora and fauna.
13 in the shadows of the bones of some long-dead behemoth. Scrimshawed splinters of them make up the city’s finest weapons and works of art.
14 on a cluster of mesas, bridges stretched between them and over the sprawling slums below.
15 on a mostly-reclaimed marsh, endless disenfranchised drudgery required to keep the flooding waters at bay.
16 on top of and around an enigmatic bronze mechanism, long ago stripped of the parts necessary for all but its most perfunctory functions.
17 like a blanket over a conquered metropolis, the signs of the old regime and culture defaced where they could not be coopted.
18 in a state of constant half-completion and omnipresent scaffolding, as plans for grand, self-congratulatory monuments are scrapped and reworked due to administrative bickering.
19 on a jagged peninsula like rust on an old dagger.
20on an island undermined by an antediluvian labyrinth.

D20The corrupt government of this city-state 
1 is staffed by a bureaucracy of eunuchs stolen from their families and indoctrinated into its ideology. The nobility of the city are figureheads who rise and fall on the whims of these eunuchs.
2 is a feuding collection of noble houses who have molded themselves into unique visions of inhuman enhancement through breeding programs and vile flesh-magic.
3 is a senate of oligarchs who have purchased their positions at an exorbitant fee.
4 is a paranoid coven of seers who interpret every occurrence as a sign of an oncoming apocalypse.
5 is headed by a god-king whose authority can command death with a glance.
6 keeps meticulous and intrusive records on its inhabitants, feeding the information into an ancient machine to derive potentials of rebellion and suppression.
7 forsake their names and faces to be known only by their stations and the grotesque masks that come with them.
8 have their heads preserved in foul solutions after death so that they can be tapped for knowledge by those who follow in their footsteps.
9 possess human bodies, but have the souls of things far older than humanity.
10 are executed in horrifically creative manners for the slightest dissent from the party line.
11 are all members of the same mystery cult, which casually kills outsiders to protect its macabre arcana.
12 is a sometimes-literally incestous nightmare of nepotism and incompetence.
13 is a junta of its most canny generals, who use wars abroad as political playing pieces back home.
14 has no actual central, executive power in charge of everything, but is so bound up in calcified procedure and ceremony that it keeps chugging along with gnarled inefficiency regardless.
15 is commanded by a sacred monarch who is selected at random at the start of each year, and executed at the end of it to ensure future prosperity.
16 is driven by the clay-written algorithms of its accounting department, which have grown so complex they verge on sapience.
17 is a noocratic rule by a council of philosophers. Unforuntately, the benchmark for wisdom in this city-state is embrace of nihilism.
18 is technically headed by an archmage, who prefers isolated contemplation and sends created servitors to handle day-to-day issues.
19 is dominated by a single clan that bullies others into subservience.
20is a brutish mob democracy. Lots are cast with coloured stones, people who make unpopular proposals are pelted with the same stones.

D20This city-state’s power 
1 flows from its location at a nexus of geomantic energies. Armies that march against it are crushed beneath uprisen stone.
2 rests on the spears of its soldier-fanatics, converted by brutal initiation and mystical indoctrination into fearless, unquestioning killers.
3 is sheltered in its stables of mutant war-beasts.
4 stems from its control of the supply of a narcotic nectar.
5 springs from the mad inspiration of its engineers and the impossible war machines they build.
6 is bestowed by the blasphemous blessing of its defiled patron deity.
7 is in its undead legions, shaken from peaceful slumber by the foulest necromancies.
8 is bartered from demons with the innocent as currency.
9 is enforced by its ravening hordes of half-human hybrids, bred in lightless pits with sorcery and unspeakable cruelty.
10 is exemplified by its giant black-iron golem that consumes enough fuel for activation alone that its people feel the sting of extractive taxation for years afterwards.
11 is the shadow of a paper tiger. It’s stretched too far and too thin to be anything else.
12 is a double-edged sword, based on overwhelming its enemies with curses and cursed artifacts before the backlash grows too intense to manage.
13 seeps from its poisonous retributions against those that defy them. Salting the earth would be a mercy compared to what they do to desolate their enemies' territory.
14 is on a marked decline, and all its old enemies recognize this. Its current state is one last hurrah before the jackals close in.
15 is the result of its military's innovative tactics and relentless drilling.
16 is bound up in its allegiance with a neighbouring tribe of giants.
17 is worked from behind the scenes with a web of spies and blackmail.
18 is concentrated within an order of assassins who reside in it, experts in infiltration and esoteric murder.
19 relies on its old and long-unproven reputation to intimidate challengers.
20is projected with the aerial supremacy of its decaying fleet of poorly understood flying vessels.

D20This city-state’s people 
1 are branded like cattle, slaves one and all in a pyramid of domination that goes right on up to the highest elites.
2 are cosmopolitan in makeup, but not in attitude. They’re set against each other by xenophobic sentiments stoked by the elite.
3 are born with too many eyes, or too few fingers, or some other tell of the city’s contamination.
4 will never smile or laugh where a stranger could see them.
5 observe holy rites forbidden to them by those in power, hidden in dark and reeking places.
6 often bear the marks and mutilations of draconian punishment.
7 share the same nightmares, every few nights.
8 wouldn’t hesitate to snitch on even their own family.
9 feel a towering chauvinism towards outsiders. The city is seen as an island of civilization in an endless sea of barbarity.
10 swear loyalty to their neighbourhood’s criminal gang before even the government.
11 suffer from far higher rates of mental illness than those from elsewhere.
12 have a strong sense of gallows humour about everything, and die chuckling.
13 have a common cant that lets them disguise subversive statements as everyday conversation. Visitors are often shocked to find that in asking for directions they've advocated overthrowing the government.
14 practice a bone-breaking martial art that specializes in inflicting pain and disability. Masters of the art become surprisingly good at healing wounds in addition to inflicting them.
15 are quick to try to fit newcomers into the patterns of a messianic prophecy, and just as quick to dump them when they disappoint.
16 believe alopecia to be the height of attractiveness, and pluck the hair from their bodies when they have the leisure to.
17 treat corses with a complete lack of reverence, eschewing funerals in favour of dumping them in mass graves, or leaving them where they lie if they were particularly disliked in life.
18 take pride in the strength and variety of their moonshine. Every family worth its name has a makeshift still.
19 believe in a cycle of eternal civilizational recurrence. The degradation of current times is accepted as the lowest point before their city's glorious rebirth.
20raise blood-sucking bats as pets, and read omens into the patterns of their bites.

D20A decadent temptation of this city-state 
1 is its library, a labyrinthian collection of scrolls which could wrap around its walls seven-score times seven times if unspooled. The inbred caste of librarians who never leave its halls whisper that every secret of the world lies somewhere within.
2 is the beauty and skill of its hierodules, the primary recruiters for its myriad morbid cults.
3 is its delicate gardens, which abound with alchemical, medicinal, and intoxicating herbs. Only the constant exertion of a legion of slaves keeps it healthy.
4 is its fighting arena, where fortunes change hands over the bloodbath below.
5 is its grand bazaar, where goods pilfered from every corner of the world (and a few from even further beyond) are purveyed.
6 is racing its pleasure-yachts down tamed streams.
7 is its charnel fountains that roil with the blood of the earth. Bathing in them can bestow health, youth, and beauty, or else exsanguinate the bather if not thoroughly satiated first.
8 is its vaults of ghastly forbidden artifacts and lore.
9 is its fashion-houses, which produce the most elegant, most useless accoutrements. Being seen wearing one is an immediate, immense status boost.
10 is its festivals, which are legendary in their Saturnalian debauchery. The festivals act as a psychological pressure-release valve on the otherwise-constant grind.
11 is the skill of its weaponsmiths, whose dedication to pure violence lets them produce wondrous and slaughterous things.
12 is the gate to the underworld contained within it, which leads to an equally-depraved city of the dead.
13 is the luxury and lawlessness of its gambling-dens, where it's said anything can be wagered and won.
14 is the talents of its puppeteer-magicians, who can manipulate shadows and implant impenetrable mental programming in hapless people.
15 is its world-class cuisine. A good chef is the most valuable retainer one can keep here. Treasuries are emptied and lives are squandered to import exotic foods and spices.
16 is narcissistic immortalization in masterpieces of art. There is a veritable ecosystem of patrons and artists seeking employment by flattering them.
17 is a moment of political vulnerability offering the chance to take it over for yourself, or extract great favours from the one who does.
18 is the opulent performances of its operas and theatres, which encode in their drama the keys to legends of lost cities and treasures.
19 is its vast open-air slave market, where people of every sort and specialty are sold as chattel.
20is its boulevard of temples of stolen gods, where dark divinities (and the darkest aspects of more benign divinities) can be communed with and sacrificed to for uncommon favours.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Picture Pong with Phlox: If We Dream of Plastic Sheep Are We Ping Pong Balls

(What is the past? Can you touch it? What is a post? Was it almost a week ago? (Far longer now))

I dreamed of a woman with rose petals growing from her head. They laid on her face like a veil, showing only a white chin and a red mouth. There were paintings of her everywhere. We were in her kingdom.

She was old, older than any human had any right to be, and she was evil. So was I. Neither of us in the “depends on your point of view” way.

Her reign was in decline. Mine was on the rise, building on her ruins.

The memory of a dream changes in the telling. Try penning in a breeze by blowing on it.

Does this mean a damn thing, or only that I saw the picture below before falling asleep:

Not fit for polished pews are those knees that have bled crawling in the dark on rough stone.

Not fit for gentle hymns are those ears that have heard the whispers of the dead and the damned.

Not fit for sweet communion are those lips that have supped on the the effluvia of sorcerery.

But the human soul must have its idols, so where the gods above grant no succor the gods below happily and hungrily fill their void.

Get To The Point

Been a while since I touched this, but now the pieces have fallen into place... oh yes...
A little bit of this:
And a little bit of this:

The version of the GLOG I run is Skerples' Many Rats on a Stick. It has rules for using scrolls, but not for making scrolls. This is a system for filling that niche.

So: there are gods everywhere, and everywhere and everything has a god. Obviously there is only One True God, and the rest are fallen angels, ascended masters, living reality-glitches, cannibal ghosts, antediluvian abstract machines, and so on. This is fine, it means they're more venal. They are divided into the Gods Above, who are all hoity-toity and must be plied with red heifers and barrels of rosewater to grant kings victories, and the Gods Below, who are the divine equivalent of those abyssal fish that can go weeks without eating and swallow things bigger than them when they finally do.

Gods can grant scroll-like tokens, called miracles, if you give them sacrifices at one of their shrines. Each shrine has a rating that limits the number of MD that can be contained in across all miracles it's granted, based on how fancy it is. You don't get to choose what spell the miracle contains, only make the request (e.g. "healing pls") and hope there's something close enough within the god's domain. Using the miracle against the god's interest will turn it into a curse.

At baseline, miracles cost 20 sp in sacrifices (or gp, or whatever the standard currency is in your campaign) per MD for Gods Below, and 200 sp per MD for Gods Above. The cost can increase if the god doesn't like you, if you've worked with their rivals, if you haven't used your other miracles from them quickly enough or in suitably impressive ways, or if the sacrifices aren't in line with their preferences. Sacrifices stolen from another god are always accepted at full value (zero-sum status contests!) but will make that other god pissed off at you, and they'll probably send their priesthoods and servitors after you.

The shrines of the Gods Above tend to be fancy and relatively easy to access, but chances are their MD are already claimed. The shrines of the Gods Below are either deep in dungeons, or you have to make them yourself. Shrine components are a form of treasure. For each of the following your shrine to a God Below contains, it gains 1 MD it can grant to miracles:
-A record of the god's name, titles, and important myths
-A relic related to the god
-A priest initiated into its cult and constantly tending to the shrine (requirements for initiates tend to be esoteric, "one blinded by fire without making a sound", "a warrior maimed by their own child wielding their favoured weapon", etc.), each additional MD granted in this manner requires 10x the priests
-A suitably big idol carved from an appropriate material
-One of its monstrous spawn contained in a labyrinth within the shrine, and fed regularly
-The shrine is big, obvious, and impressive
-And so on and so on

With enough knowledge, resources, and hubris you could even try making your own custom god, like how Serapis was said to have been created by Ptolemy I.

Every level you've got limits the max MD of spells you can get from the shrine of a surface god (e.g. level 3, max MD is 1). If you've survived that deep into the outer darkness then it has made you strong, made you strange, and thereby laid its claim on you.

Example God Below:
Lady of the Ozonic Boudoir, the Decapitator of Mountains, She Who Raises the Curtain to Clouded Vistas
Preferred sacrifices/materials: mirrors, the bones of outlaws, pink granite, things that have been struck by lightning, fine textiles
Grants Miracles: that inspire, that blind, that have to do with heads, that scry or create illusions of entire landscapes, that deal with the boundary of life and death
Relics: the Bladeless Axe, which rests still in an infected wound in the third neck of the Hyrda of Herioloz; the Heron of A Hundred Sagas, a mechanical bird which can recite her popular legendry, and is sought by many other gods for the same reason
Priests: widows who must sleep only once every three days in beds stuffed with the grave-dirt their spouse was buried in

How about a remake of Forrest Gump in the 21st century, and the plot's like that he ran too fast to be caught in the explosion at the Boston Marathon Bombing, just doing it in the absolute worst taste. Instead of dying of AIDS Jenny overdoses on fentanyl. I hate this but I can't stop laughing about it. Anyways, here's the next picture:

Now I wasn't the biggest fan of the Big Apple, but that Osama fella was on a whole otha level!

Sunday, August 15, 2021

Interview With False Machine For His Demon-Bone Sarcophagus Kickstarter

For publicity for False Machine's ongoing kickstarter, I was allowed an interview. Behold:

1. Deep Carbon Observatory and Broken Fire Regime have been said to be an "elemental quartet". Why'd you choose elements as your quartet? Is there a plausible alternate universe where you chose, for example, card suits? How's about Chinese elements/wuxing? Why are elementals usually so boring? This one's a few questions.


DCO/Veins and Broken Fire Regime are just the first two parts, ultimately I want to do an Air book set in a gas giant and an Ocean book set beneath a continent of ice.

I have no idea why I chose elements, the origin of the concept is so long ago and so minute in moment that I can't recall the exact moment, I only remember the first part of the planning stages and how perfectly it all seemed to fit together.

If you want to make *precisely four* things and have them fit together then no there are not a lot of good options. Card Suits are too human for my purposes, I think they are based on medieval social roles? Cups = Priests, Swords = Nobles, Diamonds = Merchants and Clubs = Peasants?

That might be an interesting series of books for someone else but it doesn't sing to me.

The Chinese element system I don't know that much about and would be worried I would screw it up or produce uninventive sinochure.

Elementals are usually borin because the elements themselves are deeply inhuman and because few people do deep research into the actual elements before they create, instead relying on already-known popular culture concepts.

The pool of ideas seems at first both wide and shallow. A wide open range of ideas, known to all, easily communicated and therefore good for games.

But after that point ideas tend to run dry and forms repeat.

To go deeper means finding out a lot about respectively, geology, fire, etc etc, discovering the most beautiful and poetic elements of knowledge, which usually come from the late medieval/early modern period, and then transforming those into gamable concepts.

For instance did you know that at least one early thinker proposed that fire had gender and that it had three genders? The fires of the earth, the sky and of nature, each breeding with each other to create smaller fires like a living thing?


2. Diseases seem like they should be more interesting in games, but rules I can remember seeing for them are on the boring side. Risk of infection should be a good trap - telegraphed by stinkiness. Can you think of good disease/infection rules?


Real-life influenced diseases are usually a bad idea in D&D-style games as they produce mild, slow restrictions and problems for a character and its often hard to do anything useful or interesting about them quickly, and when you do all the player gets is release from a negative state and their normal powers back.

Rare or strange diseases are better, ones relating to incredible physical behaviours or strange physical states are good, mutation is a good OSR disease equivalent.

The classic OSR-ification method would be to go through all the boring diseases and find the really good ones, then break down the best of those into behaviours and tangible physical acts and objects, and then lace those through the adventure or dungeon in complex ways so that they can be sometimes optional or foolish interactions, sometimes risks and sometimes dooms.

A St Vitus dancers adventure where you have to get through the dancers without dancing with them but that's hard to do and doing the dance means risking infection.

Fellows with huge yellow pustules - maybe they are NPCs you have to interact with or potentially useful, even necessary allies. Say in pit-trap dungeon they go around handing out ladders. But if a pustule pops on you, you become an horrific pustule person.

A high-status disease like poets Tuberculosis where if you are dealing with fancy people or their world its likely you may get it, and if you do it might actually help you fit in there but it degrades you physically.

Like with LSD, most OSR rules and methods depend heavily on set and setting, rather than abstract game-wide rulings. Its why we make adventures rather than games. Think of a cool disease with an interesting methodology and complex costs and benefits to having it and a fun and interactive milieux as a building block in a game. Invent them and trade them with each other.


3. First let us accept a dungeon trinity of monster-treasure-trap. Secondly let us assume that the intersection of monster and trap is the mimic, and the intersection of treasure and traps is cursed items. What might then fit between monster and treasure?


Think various people have come up with gold-coin monsters and gold coins which look normal bur devour all your other coins, let me think if I can come of with something better....

Hmm, the treasure-glem or perhaps some form of 'Pinata Monsters' like a kind of Gelatinous Cube is the best I can think of for now...


4. You know how in the Magician's Nephew how the uncle has that ring that takes them to a forest full of portals to other worlds? I've been thinking about a campaign setup sort of like that but instead of the forest it's a collection of what I'm calling "pocket dungeons", like pocket dimensions that are one smallish dungeon each, e.g. a ship in a bottle that sucks you in when you uncork it with monstrous Jenny Hanivers and Fiji Mermaids, the lament configuration, etc. The campaign would be based on figuring out your uncle's disappearance based on traces left behind in the dungeons. What do you think would be some other neat pocket dungeon items?


A small caved castle in a black bag. You can't see it but if you open the tiny castle door a tiny hand comes out and pulls you through it.

A spooky door knocker where if you place it on a door and knock it opens to a ghostly adventure - maybe a locked room murder mystery in a gothic castle.

A chess-piece where if you use it to complete the last move on a board you end up in an Alice-In-Wonderland/Jumanji adventure.

A bone flute and a tattered page of musical notation where if you play it its a primal lullaby and everyone falls asleep and has a Bronze-Age style dream about the primal roots of Indo-European Fairytale structures, i.e. the very first and original Ogres Castle.

A wardrobe with a portal behind the coats ITS A CLASSIC FOR A REASON.

An ebony rod with a hook and when you pick it up and *only* of you pick it up, you notice a loft trap door above you. Using the hook opens the door and brings down an ebony ladder which takes you to the realm of night.

A larder kept cold by a single Very Cold cube of ice, put it in water and it cracks the vessel, spreads and freezes into a pool. There are shadows beneath and then one moves and a huge hand plunges out of it and you are hoisted into an icy world by a giant which just caught you like a fish.

At the back of a dustly cutlery door - right at the back in the dark, is a grimy spiderwebbed handle. If you pull it, the whole house tips on its side and everyone falls out into the 'under-house' an inverse version of the house in the shadow realm where the shadow of your missing uncle is as malignant as the original was benificent. To get back you have to find the other handle - though its not in the same place, and make sure you don't bring your 'other uncle' back with you.


5. Your Queen Mab stuff has been interesting to me as your usual stuff is poetical, fantastical, etc., which seems at odds with its magicless sci-fi setting. Actually I guess Silent Titans was that too now that I think about it. You can ignore this question if you want I'm not entirely about it. Is it like a deep future mirror to the deep past of Veins of the Earth? I think one of the previous worlds in Aztec myth was destroyed by tools becoming sentient and killing people from indignant rage ("quit sticking me in a fire assholes!" cried the pan). Do you feel there's a clean break between anxieties about our children and anxieties about our technology or is it more of an overlap?

The Deep-Future/Fantasy axis has been a part of D&D since its inception and I would say a time lost future where magic and hypertech are versions of each other.

The original concept with Queen Mab was actually to do two parallel adventures or books, one with medieval characters trying to navigate the place thinking its a Fay Palace, and the other, simultaneous adventure would have been sci-fi space marines doing the same thing, but they *know* it a space ship. The space marines have the advantage in technology and knowledge but it doesn't actually help them as they don't understand the selfhood of the beings they are dealing with.

Its changed a lot since then since the original concept was so complex and difficult it became unworkable.

Re; technology.

We know intuitively our power comes from abstraction and, in its physical expression, from tools and technology.

There is a fundamental violence at the heart of abstraction, at condensing movement and shape into a line on a cave wall, at turning time into sound with the creation of language, at forming a cutting edge from a flint. When we do these things we are taking the blade to our own souls, we are doing something violent, revolutionary, even intrusive and invasive. Our thoughts are violence against a world which before us had few to no abstracted thoughts.

And we fear this, as is right and rational. It is a dangerous power that we hold. In our stories it becomes spellcraft, magic words, magical tools, secret knowledge and in our later stories as this process become more externalised, moving sculptures, dangerous robots and mad computers. We erect and investigate the danger of our situation in possible worlds, parallel dreams and potential lines of fate, obsessing over the danger of our own capacities like the head of a nuclear power sation anxiously tapping a dial or refreshing a screen.

I never really saw it as related to fear of our own children, so for me at least they are pretty different anxieties.


6. Do you read/watch/play much horror stuff? What kind of stuff do you find scary (but not serious-scary like Alzheimers)?


I don't really, I either find stuff not-scary and therefore uninteresting or actually-scary in which case I avoid it. I am a little bit mental and don't really want to prod the unsteady pile of maladaptations in the back of my head.

The last horror thing I remember experiencing and really enjoying was seeing Argentoes 'Susperia' at the cinema. That really left an impression as just a lovely river of images and emotion.

I don't know if I have a clear cognitive pattern for 'finding things scary but not Alzheimer's scary' I'm not sure I have a lot of engagement with that experience so can't answer the question very well.

An empty urban park at night, filled with shadows and a high wind? But thats more energising than frightening..


7. Dreams are kind of fucked up, right? Are you a big dreamer? What do you suppose dreams are, or could be? I read somewhere that dreams are biologically for integrating short term memories, and Mendeleev figured out the arrangement of the periodic table in a dream. Maybe there's different kinds of dreams your subconscious can shift gear to, like one for figuring out complex problems and another for remembering - maybe there's subdivisions like remembering for learning and remembering for emotional catharsis. That'd be cool.


I doubt dreams are "for" anything. The brain/mind is made to create an image of the world, a 'simulation' (blech), and it pretty much has to keep doing this just like your heart needs to keep pumping and living needs to keep doing whatever it does.

When your consciousness and most of your sensory input shuts off the brain/mind just keeps making an image of the world, pulling from whatever it can, making a reality that makes sense to it.

If dreams have any utility it may be similar to the usefulness of meditation and some forms of prognostication; giving yourself a good look at the current contents of your mind as they are right now. As the dreaming mind pulls in information from all of its various patterns and spiderthreads of memory and imagination, like pulling a thousand thousand stored carpets into a pile by the narrows threads, it must pull from 'what-is-there' in a way totally unlike the interrogations of the conscious mind.

I quite like the idea of having 'time off' in dreams. Instrumentalising them sounds like a slightly mental somewhat-american idea where if something isn't 'of use' it lacks meaning and the point of existence is to make everything 'useful'. Though I can see the temptation.

I rarely remember my dreams and I am fine with that. I'm on a low dose of Sertaline at the moment and the effect it has had on my dreams is sometimes remarkable - they sometimes become hyper-clear, almost crystalline parallel realties with much more internal coherence and cause-and-effect than I remember from previous dreams. Though what this means I have no idea.


8. You've posted recently about mangas and animes. Need we fear a Gamer Patrick in the future?


No I don't game because I don't have the time and can't control it. My last period of gaming (on a computer) was around the 2010s - I liked big RPGs like Oblivion and before that Baldurs Gate and before that I liked open clever games like Theif and Deus Ex.

Gaming eats a lot of time and if you are self-employed in a creative job then I don't know how you manage it. Personally I don't have a strong capacity to avoid "just one more level, one more quest" and am pretty sure that I would be up till 2am playing, and then my next day schedule would be fucked, I would be drained of energy and I fear my work would start to resemble to aesthetic and logic of the game.

The last game I tried to play was Morrowind on Steam - I ended up dumping multiple hours into it, staying up late and a friend advised me that since I was having trouble with it I should maybe stop. I haven't gone back since but I do like to watch a lot of videogame analysis and review shows on youtube and to keep up with what they are up to over there.


Thursday, August 12, 2021

Some Three Word Swords

Three Word Swords

Three Word Swords

Three Word Swords

Postito ergo sum

1. MILK DROWNED KITTEN: A wooden toy sword with its blade and grip wrapped in soft leather. Cuts like fine, enchanted steel despite this. While you wield it you lose all skill at swordfighting, and can't use any special techniques. The same happens to your enemies.

2. SIGNS IN BIRDS: An elegant, silver-plated smallsword. The crossguard is molded to resemble an eviscerated dove, its wings spread and its trailing guts twining down into the grip. Up to three times per day the sword can "capture" an item reflected in its blade. The item must be small enough to fit through a hole with the same dimensions of the blade. Items are stored in stasis in an extra-dimensional space until the blade is tapped to knock them out. Captured items can be seen as if reflections on the blade's surface.

3. CROWNED BY LILIES: A spatha enameled with abstract purple flower-patterns. Its handle is made of living wood, which sprouts blooms if left to lie long enough. If someone surrenders to you after you defeat them with the sword, you can prohibit them from violating the terms of that surrender as if you placed a geas on them. This geas can prevent them from doing things (e.g. "don't attack me anymore") but not make them do things (e.g. "fight my other enemies for me"). It is sought by a well-connected secret society who believe it to hold another, truer name: "MASKED BY STONE", the prophesied tool of their tyrannical messiah.

4. CORN SPITTLE BOON: Wootz steel with gentle ripples, jian-esque in form. Its crossguard is an open scallop shell. Those touched by it have their pains eased, whether mental or physical. The sword's wielder can heal any wounds dealt by it, and once per day can heal a wound dealt by someone who's been healed by the sword.

5. SET AGAINST SEA: A bastard sword embellished with blue coral filigree. Its pommel is shaped like a decapitated seahorse. Forever cool to the touch, just over the edge of uncomfortable. All fire within 10 feet of the sword is extinguished. This extinguishing extends out to 30 feet along the arc of a swing. Vapourizes water into chilly mist within the same distance (though any mixture less pure than seawater is not affected).

6. BEHOLD BESTOW BEHAVE: A platinum-edged paramerion. Its blade is etched with the names of all its wielder's ancestors with exquisite caligraphy. A chorus cries out in joy when it's drawn. If you are entirely unharmed and unblemished while wielding the sword, you become surrounded by an aura of majesty. Those with hostile intent must test morale to so much as meet your eyes. Royalty will treat with you as an equal. If you are hurt or dirtied while wielding the sword this effect inverts. All reaction rolls are downgraded a step, you are attacked preferentially in combat, and in civilized society treated about on par with an improbably flatulent leper. This curse lasts until you wash the sword with an expensive bottle of wine.

7. CALLED YOUR NAME: A rose gold blade that slowly undulates between straight and curved. Phantasmic red petals drift in its wake when swung. While fighting with it, a sword-bearing figure made of similar petals appears and fights by your side as a 1st level fighter. They will not leave your side or do anything but fight alongside you. If slain, the figure will remain dormant for a week. The petal-formed figure will also appear in your nightmares to soothe them.

8. RETURN WITHERS TRIUMPH: A chokuto with a grip carved from a horse's tibia. When it's wielder is doing well they will hear cheering and glorious music. When they're doing poorly they'll hear mockery and farcical tunes. Three times a day at the beginning of a fight its wielder can send out a mirror image of themself while they become invisible, both effects lasting for a single round.

9. SEVERED SCALES SUMP: A golden rapier, its blade made of beaten coins. The faces of kings and emblems of nations stretch obscenely to its tip. When laid between two objects it will turn to point towards the more valuable of the two. When used for a duel, its wielder can wager any prize on the victory, so long as what each duelist wagers is agreed to be equal in value. This agreement doesn't need to be made at the outset of the duel, or even made with the knowledge that there will be a duel. You could get a king very drunk and trick him into agreeing that his kingdom is worth the same as your horse, then duel him and take it the next day.

10. LONELY NARROW LIGHT: A flyssa with a blade of clouded glass. Its grip is wrapped in strips of haircloth. A cluster of tiny tin bells jangle dangling from its guard. If something is blocking your path, then striking it with the sword will do an absolute minimum of 1 damage, even if it's a solid block of adamantine. Once, and only once, the sword can be used to cut a path through anything, even up to slicing a new pass through a mountain range. After being used like this the sword dissolves into a cloud of dry autumn leaves, never to be seen again for a generation or more.

11. BOSOM QUAKES LAUGHING: An urumi that is in some places red with white streaks, and white with red streaks in others. If you get a critical success or failure while doing anything but wielding the sword they become regular successes or failures. The next time you wield the sword you'll enjoy the critical success or suffer the critical failure. DM decides exactly when.

12. THIS HIDEOUS MIGHT: Big gross flesh-sword. Blade of talons and teeth. Fuses to the hand that wields it, can then only be removed by amputation. You can learn to retract the sword into your arm with focus, and then that arm will just look oversized and misshapen, but if you get angry or scared it'll spring out. Once a day when you kill something with it you can absorb yourself into them and pilot them around like a pseudo-living zombie for 1d6x10 minutes.

13. GALLOW AMONG BOUGHS: A greatsword with a square-tipped blade of dull grey stone. If someone it's wounded has broken a law of the land they're in, the sword will shriek their crimes as it tastes their flesh. Its wielder can also transform into a large monkey with a tail that can tie itself into a noose. If they lose hold of the sword they can't turn back until they touch it again.

14. WARM WET USURPATION: Shining steel, wide and angled like a guillotine blade. Its surface is always dappled with blood, which congeals to sticky sluggishness but never fully dries. If cleaned the droplets return like dew at the next dawn. Those killed by it are not lost to the hereafter, but broken apart and returned piecemeal to the living. Their killer becomes fated to encounter them again. Kill a goblin, and return to find the shopkeeper's skin tinged green. He remembers where the goblin hid its stash of stolen treasures, but also becomes more goblinish in his dealings with you. Kill a friend and a monster you encounter might have inherited her positive disposition towards you, and her laugh. This one's pretty loosey-goosey, hard to put simply in game terms.

15. METE DULL INTOXICATION: A near-white whinyard with a crystalline glimmer to its metal. Its pommel is a pale opal carved into the shape of a gulping whale. Anything cut completely through by this sword is cut exactly in half, regardless of whether that makes sense for where it was cut. If a mixture is poured over the sword's edge then its wielder can cause one component of the mixture to flow over one side and another component over the other, perfectly separated.

16. THOU'ST ALSO FORSAKEN: A cracked harpe of tarnished silver. Organic crimson veins can be glimpsed in the cracks. If you stab yourself with it you die. Your ghost is freed to astral project around and talk to other ghosts. If the sword gets pulled out you spring back to life and the wound immediately heals into a translucent scar that only occasionally leaks ectoplasm. If you move too far from your body while you're a ghost then the risk that something else might steal your body when the sword's removed increases.

17. VIOLENCE MISWROUGHT HEAVEN: Serrated black iron messer. Its wielder can use a wound they've dealt with it as a portal to any other wound they've dealt with it within 50 feet, on a living or dead body, assuming they can fit through both. Portals don't work for anyone else.

18. HOPE'S FURTHEST TINE: An estoc made from entwined bands of copper, brass, and bronze, spiraling to its point like a unicorn's horn. If you can rightly name someone within line-of-sight's deepest desire, you can then lunge at them, crossing a mile in an eyeblink, and pierce them through the chest, dealing triple normal damage. Naming a desire falsely causes the sword to unravel and bind the arm that held it for a day.

19. HOWLING BROTHERS REUNION: A gladius with a blade of yellowed bone. Its pommel is a petrified eye with a yellow iris and a slit pupil. While bearing the sword, creatures instinctively react to you as if you were an apex predator. Domesticated animals spook and flee, wild animals keep their distance or challenge you for territory, people back away without realizing precisely why. Wounds dealt by the sword become indistinguishable from those received from being mauled by a pack of very large wolves.

20. YET DARK WITHIN: Hewn from a single chunk of obsidian. The sword is covered in shallow, intricate reliefs that depict the entirety of a saint's life, from birth to martyrdom, with particular scenes revealed depending on the angle light shines on it. In direct sunlight a pleasant halo forms around it. The grip has countless small, sharp edges that nick the hand that holds it, dealing no damage but drawing a constant trickle of blood. The sword will not unveil its magic unless held by bare flesh. The shadows of those it kills are bound to the blade, and can be commanded by its wielder. They're normal shadows, not the monster also called a shadow, and are restricted by ambient light, but if enough of them overlap you could make a spot very dark.

21. AS WE JUDGED: A khopesh forged from iridescent starmetal. It radiates an itchy warmth. It has 3 MD per day its wielder can use to cast Explode Corpse1 on those killed by it. If you tell a lie while wielding it you vomit sparks and smoke and drop to 0 HP. If you break an oath or promise while wielding it you explode.

22. CUT FOUR CORNERS: A gargantuan sword of gleaming titanium, inlaid with the antecedents of scriptural passages in gold. It is far too heavy to be lifted by human hands, unless the sword wills otherwise. It has the tremendous pride of one who was borne by the greatest angels to make the cuts used to fold the once-flat world up. If used to carve a perimeter around an area, that area sloughs out of the universe and forms a pocket dimension.

1From Many Rats on a Stick GLOG by Skerples. Thanks Skerples, great job!:

Explode Corpse
R: 50' T: corpse D: 0
Target corpse explodes, dealing damage in a [dice]x5' radius, Save vs Dexterity for half. The maximum damage dealt is dependent on the creature's size: Rat: 1, Dog: 1d6, Human: 2d6, Cow: 3d6, Elephant: 6d6, Whale: 8d6. This spell cannot target undead creatures unless you control them.