Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Dicember Days 11-15: Forest, Help, Food, Ooze, Snow

It's this.

11. Forest

What's the deal with this fantastical forest? (1d8):

1. Bucolic and manicured. Stalked by the velveteen playmates of a child who lived here long ago. They want you to stay and play forever,
2. Abundant in nuts, berries, and game-birds. The domain of a lordly leshy. The squirrels are his peasants, the owls and wolves his knights. Demands the respect due to one of his station, and punishes poachers terribly.
3. Metallic bark, brilliantly colourful leaves that wave without wind. Actually a species of land-coral that feeds with magnetism, catching particles from the air. Silver-scaled fish dart through the invisible currents.
4. The trees grow so high their boughs drink in the clouds. Many layers have formed, each with their own particular ecosystem. The forest floor is a lightless, root-choked abyss where predatory slimes and glow-lure anglers lurk.
5. Barren, charcoal trunks part to smoking branches. There was a fire that blazed through here, a fire that never left. It lives within the trees now, sustains them. They have no need for the sun. They eat roasted meat.
6. The forest was once an entire city created by tree shaping. Its wildlife evolved from the former pets of its inhabitants, and their feral descendants.
7. The trees grow ramrod straight, their branches growing out in crosses at perfect 90° angles. Vines entwine themselves into ropes, and creepily intelligent monkeys make their nests among them. The place was created as the ideal raw materials to build a fleet, but was taken over by pirate-ents.
8. Growing atop an ancient battlefield. Its leaves hold the bold patterns of banners, its trees sprout around frameworks of yellowed bone. After nightfall, ghosts of the desperate, deranged, and damned shriek with the wind.

12. Help

S.O.S. Aboard the S.S. Lady Susan, an oceanic encounter for modern games

The Hook

An S.O.S., coordinates in Morse code, and distorted snippets of Mariah Carey's hit 1993 song Dreamlover insert themselves into radio and TV broadcasts in your local area. The coordinates are near enough that if you had a boat you could beat anyone else there if you left now. Could be good salvage.

Or you simply come across the S.S. Lady Susan while already out on the water.

Or you're hired by Mayor Brummelstroete to make sure his mistress is really dead.

The Situation

The S.S. Lady Susan is shrouded in an unseasonable thunderstorm.

St. Elmo's fire glows on the Lady Susan's highest points.

If any metal surface on your boat makes contact with a metal surface on the Lady Susan, everything electronic on it stops working.

If you come onto the boat with any device with audio capabilities, it repeats the sounds from the first hook. Outgoing calls are replaced with the same. Video devices display a woman sprawled in a hot tub, with a green tint and heavy static.

Weird Shit

Every ten minutes spent on the Lady Susan, roll on the table below (1dX):

1. Frizzling static build-up. Electricity visibly snakes across metal surfaces. The next person to touch one take 1 damage.
2. Metal on the yacht resonates, emanating Mariah Carey music as if sung by a swarm of cicadas. Everyone on board is deafened for the next 10 minutes.
3. A random verse from the Bible is recited rapidly over the speakers in Morse code.
4. Pale green phantoms flash into existence around you for scant moments, men in suits and women in cocktail dresses, all partying hard as only people on a yacht can.
5. An abnormal wave strikes the yacht. Anyone standing must save or trip into whatever's beside them.
6. Roll 4d4, or  1-16 in a random number generator. Whichever letter that number corresponds to in the alphabet gets hit by lightning, and everyone within takes 2d6 damage. If three rooms get hit, the whole yacht starts sinking.

The S.S. Lady Susan

A: If you're in a dinghy or comparable boat you're probably only going to be able to get on from here, unless you've got a grappling hook. I'm not sure though, not a yacht expert.

B: Beneath the bar's lip are a baggy containing $500 worth of cocaine, a deck of cards, and stack of post-it notes with the numbers of Mayor Brummelstroete's various mistresses, drug dealers, and other illicit contacts written on it.

C: A stripper pole's been screwed into the table here, and faint green holograms of dollar bills float around it. Up and down the length of the pole there's stuck cutlery, a skillet, and coins. On the TV facing the table an episode of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is on, though visual distortions like cigarette burns cover the faces of the people on it. The TV will directly address anyone who watches it, tailoring its questions to their personal life. If they answer it with a lie, a smattering of objects stuck to the pole will shoot off in their direction like a blunderbuss.

D: A pair of flickering, pale green phantoms, one sitting on the toilet, head in its hands, the other standing and berating it in wordless angry tones. If you intrude on the bathroom, after a few moments you must save or take the place of whichever phantom you most resemble at that time. Striking either phantom makes you take 1d4 damage from electrical shock and disperses both. Breaking the scene's "script" does the same without any damage.

E: Windows broken, fish flopping around on floor, crackling with electricity. The fish are attracted to active electrical outputs and life (in that order) and attack like a swarm of piranhas. Not particularly quick or graceful, but have zombie-like tenacity. Little hole burned through roof. The bath in the room is steaming, and at its bottom is a misshapen, iridescent chunk of metal. It tingles when held, and while you've got it with you you skip any rolls on the Weird Shit table.

F: Duffel bag containing an unregistered handgun, a change of clothes, an empty syringe, an opened pack of alcohol wipes, and a few drivers licenses with different names and details but pictures of the same guy (the guy in L). The handle to operate the crane to move the boat into the water has a scorched layer of skin stuck to it.

G: Mattress turned over, slashed up. Smattering of condoms on the bedframe, stuffing and a bear trap poking out of the mattress. Examining the far wall reveals a minuscule hole drilled in it with a camera peeking behind. The camera's got footage of quite a few important political and economic figures in compromising, even criminal positions.

H: A pair of service/support staff neatly shot in the head and stashed away.

I: Corpse of a once-handsome young man set on the bed, beat to shit, forearms slit wrist to elbow, sheets crusted with blood. Photograph of him and Brummelstroete's mistress in flagrante delicto on the bedside table, their faces burned out with a cigarette. The first person to approach too close will have the corpse lunge at them and lock up in rigour mortis strangling them. In the corpse's pocket is a harmonica. Playing the harmonica will soothe the harsher effects of any phenomena or creatures so exposed.

J: Captain's room (I think, again, not a yacht expert). Stinks of burnt plastic. Totally inoperable, Levers, buttons, wheel, and any other moveable parts are fused in place. On the tables are books by Anton Lavey, Aleister Crowley, Helena Blavatsky, and the like. Spending some time searching through the books finds a listening bug (now burnt out) hidden in one, and a cut-out compartment containing rosary beads in another.

K: A one-armed skeleton with blackened strips of flesh clinging to it lounges on the couch, smoking a cigar. If someone approaches it, the skeleton will stand up, walk towards them, and point its remaining hand at them. One round later, that hand will explode, dealing 1d6 damage to everyone nearby. The skeleton will continue to approach, and the next time it detonates it's whole arm will go, dealing 2d6 damage. Its final detonation deals 3d6 damage, and totally destroys the skeleton. Towards the stairs there's a hole burned in floor, leaking steam.

L: Stocky guy with a Ukrainian accent squatting on couch, sobbing, one arm hanging limp, polyester sweater molten in places, eyes burnt shut. He believes that touching the floor will kill him, and that anyone talking is the voice of the devil tempting him into death. He's got a knife. He was one of the first people Brummelstroete hired to kill his mistress. Doesn't know much about what's going on besides the danger, saw a falling star hit the yacht, will do just about anything to escape.

Keys to the right jetski in room N are stuck in the couch cushions.

There's a line that looks a lot like a lower-case l just beneath the J. Ignore that, I didn't put that there.

M: The whole outside bridge deck area smells like overcooked pork. There's some half-finished drinks, one spiked with rohypnol. A cleaver lies on the table. Getting too close requires a save. Failure causes your arm to be taken over, which then tries to grab the cleaver and kill those around you, and then yourself. While active in this fashion the cleaver spits off green sparks. Grounding it like you would any electrical device ends the effect. The closed barbecue holds most of a human arm, charred to a crisp.

N: The jet ski on the left is messed up by electrical discharge. Keys in the ignition, but turn them and the thing goes kaboom. The one on the right's still good to go.

Examining the treadmill will reveal a gold and sapphire necklace caught in its mechanism worth $5,000.

O: Behind the counter are liquor bottles containing moaning, malformed, gelatinous homunculi. Opening or smashing them causes the homunculi to revert to the fluid they're made of. Left alone, they'll mature into mentally capable adult forms. They're worth quite a lot to the discriminating buyer. In the bathroom there's a hostile puke slime attracted to noise. Stat as a small black pudding.

P: Woman's corpse floating in the hot tub, veins faintly glowing green. Wires have grown like tree roots out of the sides and into its spine. Trying to cut or remove the wires will cause the entire yacht to lurch into a slow death-roll. Playing the harmonica from the man in room I, promising to avenge the woman on Brummelstroete, or the like will unravel the plasmatic symbiosis and allow her peace, ending all unnatural effects on the Lady Susan.

13. Food

As has been said sufficiently elsewhere, the little moments in a game can be as meaningful as the big ones - maybe it's only the little moments giving room and contrast to the big ones that the latter even can become meaningful. When going out to slay the dragon, take care not to forget what your party's eating together at camp. Here's some ideas:

The iron rations available here are (1d8):
1. Pemmican
2. Parched corn
3. Salt fish
4. Wax-sealed blocks of hard cheese
5. Dried lentils
6. Pots of brine and pickled vegetables
7. Desiccated apples, brown and wrinkled
8. Nuts and seeds

The regular rations available here are (1d8):
1. Links of hard sausages
2. Honeyed beef jerky
3. Loaves of dense bread
4. Butter and biscuits
5. Oatcakes
6. Muktuk
7. Hardboiled eggs, kept in-shell
8. Dry rice

The luxury rations available here are (1d8):
1. Gourd containing its own deliciously stewed innards, mixed with black pudding.
2. Spiced and sweetened hams
3. Mushrooms stuffed with minced meat
4. Roasted songbirds stuffed with syrup
5. Candied flowers and cream
6. Cured fish roe wrapped in breaded seaweed
7. Conches boiled in soup stock within their own shells
8. Whole suckling pig, fried in its mother's fat

14. Ooze

The cult of the God in the Keg are renowned and reviled for their generousity, spontaneity, irascibility, and over-sincerity. They are all terribly fond of drinking, and attract those terribly fond of drinking to them. The cult knows the secrets of brewing not just grains and tubers, but flesh, jewels, dreams, and stranger things still. Of these secret brews they share only a few outside the cult. The most infamous of these is ooze-booze, brewed from the endless variety of the underworld's slimes (1d10):

1. Mustard Mead: Tastes like a moment of sickening sweetness followed by a hit of unbearable spiciness. Your burps and flatulence become toxic while you're drunk on it, those who get a whiff of the same must save or take 1d6 damage and be stunned a round retching.
2. Ochre Old Ale: Tastes of citrus and a chemical you can't quite place. While drunk on it, if you would take a killing blow you can save, and if you succeed you split into two, one part dying and the other getting away at half size and half max HP.
3. Olive Ouzo: Tastes like liquorice and unwashed vegetables. While buzzed on it you gain an enhanced sense for vibrations, letting you pinpoint moving creatures within 30 feet. When trashed on it this range extends to 60 feet.
4. Green Gulp: Lumpy texture, tastes like avocado. While drunk on it your sweat becomes corrosive. While in a hot environment or after strenuous physical activity you can deal 1 damage on contact or melt through an inch of metal or wood after ten minutes of close contact.
5. Slithering Sip: Tastes like bacon and pomegranates. Odd texture, like slurping amoebic noodles. Vomit it out at a target and it'll briefly animate and seek them out. You'll immediately sober up, and if it gets in their mouth they'll get as drunk as you were off it.
6. Flareater Flagon: Tastes like caramel, sticky, leaves a tingling sensation on the tongue. While you're drunk on it, you can spit on any non-magical fire or other source of light to extinguish it instantly.
7. Snowflake Cider: Tastes like sour raspberries and stains the lips blue. You remain a comfortably cool temperature as long as you're drunk off it, and the condensation that forms on you lets you escape grapple and bonds as if you'd had a Grease spell cast on you.
8. Crystal Chicha: Refreshing as the first glass of water during a hangover, crisp and tangy. While buzzed on it you can breath underwater, but every thirty minutes doing so gets you as drunk as if you'd just had a glass of wine.
9. Stone Sato: Gritty texture. Tastes of smoked leather. While drunk on it and not moving you become camouflaged to match your environment. If passed out on it, the camouflage becomes near-perfect.
10. Black Bitter Ale: Tastes like old, over-steeped coffee. While drunk on it you become able to go totally limp and flexible. You can fit through any opening that could fit your skull, and take half damage from bludgeoning.

15. Snow

What's the snow around here like? (1d10):
1. Crust of ice on top, fluffy below
2. Brown and slushy
3. Streaked with yellow
4. Piled high but not densely, you can fall right in
5. Half-melted and crystallizing, a rainbow on the ground dazzling with all the spectrum's colours.
6. Gathered up into rough pellets like cold and grating gravel.
7. Blown up by the wind into precarious peaks and dunes.
8. Scattered with splinters of hoarfrost, almost painful to walk through.
9. Pocked with rounded dimples, a little hibernating creature placed in the center of each.
10. Molded into abstract, off-putting sculptures as if by the hands of some fey child.

Monday, December 13, 2021

10 D10 Assorted Cyberpunk Tables

D10Cyberpunk Rations
1 Jerky cloned from samples exhumed from historical figures’ graves. Try the new Austrian-style Hitler!
2 Cricket flour porridge.
3 Unflavoured soy-derivative cubes
4 Dried spirulina snack.
5 Pigeon skewer.
6 Caloric paste with multivitamins and flavour packets.
7 Fried panda testicles (lab-grown).
8 Private military company’s MRE.
9 Expired instant ramen.
10Bland corporate-appropriated ethnic food, produced for the cheapest cost and the lowest common denominator.

D10Cyberpunk Advertisements
1 Reverse-targeted ad, calibrated based on aversions rather than preferences to provoke maximum offense and controversy, and therefore attention.
2 Messages from dead friends and relatives reconstructed from their social media presence.
3 Guerilla marketing therapists who assure you that their covert sponsor’s product is the treatment for your depression/anxiety/ennui.
4 Positive psychological association with their product wired directly into your brain, piggybacking on virtual reality qualia uploads.
5 Basilisk-hack corporate memes that prime you for consumption through your visual cortex.
6 Disaster relief campaigns for victims of hypercanes and geoengineering efforts, which incur a lifetime debt to the company for those they save.
7 Infrasonic jingles broadcast through the ground.
8 Those dream ads from Futurama, subliminally programmed into your subconscious mind by video screens in “public” areas. There are no true public spaces anymore. Being physically present in “public” areas is legally consenting to receiving dream ads.
9 Use your capture of academia to make the Science say that if someone does not consume your product, they are Objectively a bad person.
10Extended time horizon hobbyist seed communities able to perfectly mimic genuine indie scenes while priming them to go hyper-consumerist mainstream and divert the diehards into another marketing effort.

D10Cyberpunk Augmentations
1 Character Faceplate: An animatronic, synthskin-covered replacement for the front half of a person’s head. Lets people resemble their favourite stylized mascots, vocaloids, anime, and so on while retaining the ability to chew, make expressions, and breathe.
2 Greyminer: An intra-skull implant which uses the brain’s spare processing power to mine cryptocurrencies.
3 Fur-Real Therianthropomorphization: Whole-body cosmetic surgery and grafted customized biomass that makes you into a living furry, and also dependent on proprietary immunosuppressants for the rest of your likely short and agonizing life. Price jumps significantly if you go for an option other than “rainbow wolf”.
4 Untrace: Biomod that scrambles the genes of your skin and hair follicles, as well as your fingerprints, so as to minimize others’ ability to track you based on biological clues.
5 Love Deluxe: Hormonal implant that lets you adjust your feelings of attraction, affection, trust, and jealousy with a few simple sliders.
6 LDAR Supreme: Reduces the body to the bare minimum needed to support the brain, then plugs that into a total simulated reality tweaked for pure comfort.
7 Bicameral Minder: Say goobye to stress, anxiety, and poor impulse control by outsourcing control of your motor functions to life coaches, rehab centres, or whoever bought your debt.
8 The Deal Sealer: Anaesthetic needle and ampoule concealed within the palm, can strike imperceptibly with a handshake. Typically contains an inhibition-lowering drug or a slow-acting poison. It's not illegal if nobody catches you.
9 Guttergut: Budget digestive system replacement that lets you break down cellulose and other normally-inaccessible nutrients, filters grants resistance to ingested toxins.
10The No-More-Overcompensator: Tricked-out robo-cock. Comes in sizes from big to horse.

D10Cyberpunk Diseases
1 Printer Cough: Lung disease caused by inhalation of particulate stock from low-end 3D printers, or from printers infected by a computer virus that causes them to produce invisible clouds of the stuff.
2 GenoDie: A bioengineered virus which can be relatively easily modified to affect only people with a certain haplogroup.
3 Yumyum Lesions: Result of an international food & beverage company’s guerrilla marketing campaign. The company dumped a chemical that caused brain lesions that made those who had them experience an addictive appeal from consuming their products. Side effects include seizures, pica, and anhedonia. The company has publicly disavowed the chemical, but incidences of yumyum lesions continue to crop up.
4 Brainjack Rejection: Adverse immune reaction to an implanted brain-computer interface. Causes multisensory hallucinations and decline in mental faculties followed swiftly by death.
5 Digital Gnosticism: Mental illness caused by overuse of virtual reality from an early age. Primary symptom is identifying virtual reality as the “true world” and the physical world as some manner of false imitation beneath it.
6 Michael Butt: A transmissible skin cancer created by a trillionaire heir who read about Henrietta Lacks and thought cellular immortality would be really cool.
7 Anthropic Feline Leukemia Virus: Made the jump to humans due to an ill-advised attempt to make transgenic "catgirls".
8 COVID-35: It's still around, and worse than ever.
9 Cybernetic Atemporal Depersonalization Disorder: The result of erosion of personal identity by exposure to multiple contradictory information streams. Sufferers have great difficulty conceiving of themselves as a self consistent across time, rather than constantly reprogrammed hardware that just happens to be made of meat.
10Vaxsickness: Complications related to shoddy vaccines rushed out to address the constant developments of total biowarfare.

D10Cyberpunk Polities
1 Little St. James II: A mobile artificial island seastead fitted with cutting-edge anti-surveillance technology. The place to be for trillionaires and politicians seeking collusion and debauchery.
2 Red Olympus: Humanity’s only Martian colony, owned by a depraved oligarch who plays god with its captive, dependant population of technicians and sycophants.
3 The Job Club: Exclusive orbital observatory/habitat and social club. Ultra-rich members pick a person on the planet below at random, absolutely surveil every facet of their life, place obscene bets on how it will turn out. Interference is forbidden but happens constantly regardless.
4 International tech company town/city-state arcology. A sealed environment built to give a taste of pristine suburban life.
5 Anarcho-scavengers living large off the discarded trash of decades congealed into a rusty island by ocean currents.
6 Isolated and intensive psychological research facility peopled only by researchers, investors, and people who've surrendered their human rights for a pittance, allowing any number of studies to be performed on them, with amnesiac drugs applied afterwards to avoid tainting the baseline.
7 Politico-technological archipelago composed of "islands" of various technological and political forms. Exist exclusivley off tourist income, selected for novelty of their offerings.
8 Malthusian eco-fascist militia that's taken over a national park. Allowed to remain there due to sympathizers in the government and the fact that it's cheaper to let them maintain the park.
9 Immigrant mafia organization swollen in forgotten lumpenproletarian corner of society into government of miniature ethnostate.
10Moleman mutual aid commune squatting in defunded public transit tunnels.

D10Cyberpunk Businesses
1 Sablestone Real Estate: Build and manage everything from luxury condos to slum towns. Heavily involved with university endowment funds. Blast propaganda about how property ownership is settler-like.
2 Waifuworks Inc.: Manufacturers of relationship-mimicing AIs, sex toys, and companion robots. Headed by a digital emulation of its founder.
3 Caracara Consulting: Specialists in looting failing states. Their ruthless work ethic is masked by a bubbly executive cult of personality, their speeches peppered with self-help jargon.
4 Bluewave: Vertically-integrated company that operates desalination plants powered by its own tidal power stations. Political activists that coerce countries deprived of fresh water to adopt their agenda. Strong ties to neoliberal institutions.
5 Astromedia: Bizarre startup that sells itself as beaming cultural influence to aliens, which haven't been discovered yet. A black hole of venture capital money. Executives have the part of their brain correlated with their conscience removed.
6 IntravenUs: Provide narco-subscriptions and health insurance. Promote a flat hierarchical, family-style corporate model. CEO is a serial killer whose modus operandus is death by overdose.
7 Peaceprize Worldwide: Pharma-memetic company that deals in pacification of entire populations: chemicals in the water supply, social media guidance, and so on. It's gained notoriety for sponsoring terrorist cells in order to scare up business.
8 Retributors Experiences: Combined theatrical and special effects firm that creates scripted encounters to make you feel like a real-life superhero, to your preferred degree of realism, anti-heroism, etc.
9 Procrustes Perfections: Cosmetic alterations and elective augmentations company. Known to prey on people suffering dysphoria. All employees are contractually altered into an identical androgynous ideal.
10Hyperborea Resources: Prospecting company that seizes claims in the artic and antarctic for trace rare earth and other such elements such as helium that are running out elsewhere. Practice a quaint, old-school nationalism, and operate off one of the few remaining old boy networks on Earth.

D10Cyberpunk Fashions
1 Ironic gender hyperconformity.
2 Animated anti-facial recognition tattoos.
3 Brutish personalized gasmasks, clinging opaque clouds of perfume or stench chems.
4 Pop cultural nostalgia, dressing in the clothing of a past decade and only consuming media from that time. Often accompanied by cosmetic surgery to resemble celebrities famous in that time. 
5 Basically naked but in augmented reality dressed in impossible videogame character outfits.
6 Ethically-sourced human leather. Taken without coercion! Preying on people made desperate by poverty does not count as coercion.
7 Neural network-created & optimized hyperstimulus clothing, maximizes attention on its wearer.
8 Anti-surveillance clothing featuring designs registered to you, which anyone holding footage of has to pay royalties for. Only works against the little Big Brothers who don't have the legal pull to ignore it.
9 Identical grey jumpsuits.
10Democratic ultra-extravagance by way of open-source gengineering, customized spiders or silkworms constantly weaving and consuming outfits around you. Hope you're not ticklish, but if you are there's mods for that.

D10Cyberpunk Weapons
1 Vortex gun originally loaded with hookup app guru’s personal pheromone brand, now with short-lived homecooked nerve gas.
2 3D-printed submachine gun loaded with frangible ammo for safe firing in thin-walled apartment complexes.
3 Vermiform organism that burrows into its wielder’s arm and feeds off their spare nutrients. Emerges and spits envenomated needles when that arm is flexed right. Undetectable by most scanners.
4 Micromachines applied as nail polish, can rearrange themselves into claws. Break off into scratch-wounds and break down bodies from within.
5 Super-tactical full frontal assault rifle with rotating superimposed load barrels, under-barrel grenade launcher, side-barrel mini-drone port, magnifying scope with night vision, heat vision, sonar, and video streaming, and a spring-loaded fractal ceramic bayonet.
6 A computer virus that hijacks a target’s online profiles and causes them to behave in socially-ostracizing ways that are nigh-impossible to deny as their own actions.
7 Strategic "bass boom" ultrasonic resonator that causes long-term, hard to detect damage to infrastructure, reducing entire buildings' or city blocks' quality of life well beyond the ability of most to afford repairs.
8 Designer pug with carbon nanotube-threaded musculature, reinforced bones, titanium pharyngeal jaws that can extend up to twice its body length, and a remote control rig wired to its nervous system. Indistinguishable from an ordinary, very expensive dog at a glance.
9 Autonomous robots that can construct improvised explosive devices from commonly available materials and plant them to deny access to designated areas.
10Spider-taser that seeds area with electrified wires.

D10Cyberpunk Policing Methods
1 Freelance bounty hunter drones piloted by children playing an augmented reality-obscured alternate reality game. The game is pitched as a way increase their civil engagement.
2 Gig economy gangstalker networks you can hire to do zersetzung on anyone at any time.
3 The classic "gated communities with private security forces that can go Guantanamo on your ass if you step on someone's lawn on the inside, lawless favelas outside".
4 You are implicated in a terrorist plot instigated by the authorities themselves and killed by an extrajudicial missile strike on domestic soil.
5 They just roll up with a death squad and shoot you, there's too much else going o to really register it happening.
6 They've got an agreement with a private prison and quotas to make, so look forward to whatever disciplinary, pharmaceutical, etc. nightmare you're bound for.
7 They enact a localized quarantine in your area, and if you leave your domicile they'll be able to stick you in a hole for however long it takes your non-existent illness to heal.
8 An occupying army coming through, convoys of armoured vehicles running over anyone too slow or disabled to get out of the way in time, barely less-than-lethal ammunition raining down on the crowds.
9 They'll stick a chip in your spine that lets them hit you with some paralyzing agony whenever.
10Algorithms constantly observing your online activities and biometrics, and tank your credit rating and ability to work or apply for jobs if you're predicted to slide into political extremism.

D10Cyberpunk Weather
1 Fog lit like glowing tie-dye by neon light pollution.
2 Acid rain wiping smooth past monuments it wasn’t profitable enough to remove. Bring a sturdy umbrella.
3 Heatwave pushing temperatures above the survivable human limit, streets are dead, air conditioning bills through the roof.
4 Sky bright with space-junk burning up in the atmosphere, natural drift or pushed by laser broom in a Kessler syndrome-reduction effort.
5 Superstorm pissing rain nearly sideways.
6 Air thick with gengineered locust swarms, feedstock escaped and turned globally invasive species.
7 Stratospheric sulphate clouds seeded by dirigible drones.
8 Severe, sudden cold snap spat out by fucked-up atmospheric cells. Satellites too blinded by ultra-high bandwidth telecomms wavelengths to predict.
9 Old-school animated billboards beamed right onto the clouds.
10Rare clear, sunny day. Parks and beaches are all rented for exclusive use by influencers doing photoshoots.

Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Doing Names Backwards, With Devils; Or: A Method By Which One May Gain Inspiration From The Innumerable Subtypes of Monsters

A thought hit me in the shower the other day: You know how in D&D there's dozens of different kinds of devils & demons, and a lot of them are X devils or Y demons? If you're struggling for inspiration for a magic item, trap, weird device, or some other sort of object, you could do worse than flipping the name of one of those monsters around for inspiration.

The Process, Illustrated

Devil Ice: A baby's heart is a warm thing, and a child's heart is warmer still, burning with imagination, though often untempered by empathy. It is the hearts of adults that can grow cold, whether through heartbreak or despair or plain damn meanness. In the coldest of hearts a peculiar ice starts to clog the ventricles like cholesterol. That ice is treasured by witches and torturers. It absorbs hope, joy, love, and all other bright and precious things it comes into contact with. Charged with stolen light or otherwise, it is a key ingredient in many vile potions and enchantments.

Devil Chain: Take the noose a debtor used to hang himself with. Wrap around it the hair torn out by a grieving mother. Affix it all together with nails - ideally from a crucifixion, but a prison will do. That's your devil chain. Put your devil chain around someone you've proven yourself stronger than, someone you've beaten down physically, mentally, financially, whatever, and you'll have them bound. Doesn't matter if they take it off after, or you lose it. The object's just a carrier for the curse. Wherever they go, at any time, you can have them immobilized as if by invisible manacles, until such as time as you release them or the curse is broken. The Men With Eyes That Flash Like Silver Dollars make extensive use of devil chains.

Fiend Blood: One of the more popular drugs of prisoners in the depths of Carceri, as well as one of the more common causes of death. The name is only slightly euphemistic. It is not the blood of fiends, but the putrescence of dead prisoners from higher cells that slops down in gutters and cracks, crudely filtered for the most rarefied elements within: the juicy bits of planar outsiders. Hopefully you'll end up with a hit that has enough angel in it to leave you floating in bliss. Bad hits of fiend blood are so toxic they'll just kill you. Really bad hits are just toxic enough to leave you at the mercy of your fellow prisoners. Really really bad hits end up with a bit of Far Realm stuff in 'em that'll fill your head with infinite torments you couldn't name or explain if you had a billion years to try. In any case, it's the closest to an escape from Carceri most prisoners will get.

Demon Iron: The priests of holy Mount Bezelurra were zealous in their crusade against the evil spirits plaguing humanity, yet their crusade proved endless, and their mortal bodies grew weary. Banish a spirit, and it would return to harrow the next generation. Their solution was as simple and brutal as they could be. The priests prized the holy ore from their holy mountain and forged the evil spirits they captured into it, cowing them through a thousand folds of white-hot metal and a million blows from a blessed hammer. This binding proved inextricable. None of the stalkers or lurkers or sicknesses or delusions they captured ever escaped the iron of Mount Bezelurra. In the end the priests martyred their god. Their mining became rapacious, the tailings poured day and night from their mines, all to keep the world piling accolades at their feet. The priests are no more. The nails, horseshoes, keys, and so on they made with their silently shrieking malignancies within remain a historical curiousity.

Devil Bone: A dousing instrument created by soaking a sliver of goat bone in soured wine for just under a week, plucking it out on the sabbath. A correctly made devil bone is thought to be able to point towards veins of gold, diamonds, bitcoin wallets, and other such concentrations of wealth. In truth, devil bones detect murderous desire and the potential thereof. Wise users make their money as facilitators of that desire and then run far away.

Demon Shadow: An urban legend among streamers, e-sports performers, and camgirls. They say if a particular pattern of dead pixels that resembles a run-over seagull appears on your screen, you have three choices: forsake digital technology forever, forward the pattern to people who cumulatively have a larger audience that you, or be taken over body and soul by some orphaned corporate algorithm that'll use you as a puppet in some dot com boom scheme that doesn't even have the potential to take off anymore. They're two-thirds of the way right, but the truth's worse.

Devil Beard: The Agolifolgin family was as hated as they were ungroomed, which is to say very. At every turn their patriarch would cheat and steal and abuse, and every son would be worse than the last. On inheriting their office, they would all grow out that same gnarly, unwashed, untrimmed beard. The Agolifolgins, rather predictably, did not last in their title longer than four generations. Their daughters fled, their sons died in mysterious accidents, and their last patriarch was called to court and hanged for treachery against his higher-ups. All this meaning: their estate was ripe for looting, and yet, whatever treasures it may hold still lie within. The looters that have tried until now have been unaware that the Agolifolgin beard still guards Agolifolgin halls. Enter, and you will find yourself growing increasingly hirsute. First on your head - nothing to worry about. Then on your face - blinding you. Then on your body - snaring you. Finally, down your throat - suffocating you. Find a way to escape this fate, and their stolen inheritance will be yours.

Demon Whisper: Dungeoneer slang for infrasonic reverberations of the deep underground, whether produced by natural tectonic events or rifts in reality itself. These "whispers" have an insidious effect on human cognition, causing paranoia, greed, poor impulse control, and flatulence. Despite being among the least physically threatening phenomena of the depths, demon whispers are a disproportionate cause of expedition failure.

Devil Glass: According to apocryphal history, the west rose at Notre Dame was not in fact the oldest stained glass window in the church. There was another, just before it, far more beautiful, made by an artist of such talent as to never have been seen before or since. After a glance, the archbishop of Paris of the time ordered it destroyed and replaced - and then killed himself almost immediately after, to be replaced by an impostor to save face. If you believe the apocrypha, this window depicted the crucifixion of Christ in such beauty that those who beheld it would have no choice but to emulate it. A memetically viral suicide. Shards of glass, supposedly from this original window, were traded like relics throughout Europe for centuries, as common as nails claimed to be the ones that pierced Jesus's hands and feet. This trade is still allowed. This trade is considered harmless. After all, each carries only a fraction of the original work's effect.

Does this work with other kinds of monsters? Certainly not so well with giants, I can tell you that right now. Giant cloud, giant rock, giant fire, pretty one-note results with them. Other sorts of monsters do better: naga water, naga darkness, hydra frost, all fairly inspirational.

Could be more than just stuff even, could do it for geography too. Seawraith, Sea Hag, Seawolf => Sea of Wraiths, the Hag Sea, Sea of Wolves, are there a bunch of wolves in the sea they named it after?

There's no end to the elemental and other subtypes of monsters in D&D that have piled up over the years, and I think this is one way to get some good use out of them.

Monday, December 6, 2021

Dicember Days 6-10: Shame, Daemon, Present, Night, Skull

It's this.

6. Shame

What's this NPC's secret shame you can blackmail them with if you find out? (1d10):
1. They stole a dead relative's impressive stories they were told as a child as their own.
2. They were castrated (or the nearest genital-equivalent) in a drunken fight in their youth.
3. They subordinate all their important decisions to the advice of an older friend, priest, or other authority figure, leaving nothing significant to their own flagging will.
4. They deal addictive, degrading drugs to support a materialistic quality of life they can't sustain on their own merits.
5. They've got a birthmark in the shape of a blasphemous symbol they don't allow even those closest to them to see.
6. They've stolen another's identity as their own belongs to a persecuted minority group.
7. They're compulsively sadistic, and kidnap & torture others' pets to satisfy their urges.
8. Their own intolerance was the cause of their dear friend's suicide.
9. They're cheating on their spouse with their spouse's sibling.
10. They were intimidated into covering up for a bully's gruesome crime.

7. Daemon

A daemon is properly understood not as a being in itself, but rather the manifestation of a force, or mode of intercession, between gods and humans, the celestial and the terrestrial. Love was held by Plato to be a greater daemon.

What happens when one side of that interaction collapses? As a less-theological comparison, imagine if you took a bar magnet, snapped it in half, and were left with a north and a south magnetic pole with no connected opposites - a couple of magnetic monopoles. Now, what these monopoles could actually do is hard to suss out, because according to many models of physics they're supposed to be impossible. Discussing impossibilities can quickly get obtuse, but that's essentially what happens with a one-sided daemon: the impossible, what neither magic nor science could achieve by mortal hands.

When ancestral idols left to gather dust, when a god devours its people's last foodstuffs as sacrifice, when a ruling archon is tossed down from their starry thrown, so too do the daemons tied up with them become one-sided, unmoored, castaway. The room in that ancient, buried complex that blocks all spells, or inflicts unnatural terror, or has its gravity reversed - these could all be castaway daemons, or perhaps stranger things still. If the former, they are snarls that could be unwoven through research into their origins, and then grounded once more and undone, or finally severed and plucked and sold to the highest bidder. After all, the impossible is rare, and thus truly precious.

TL;DR: Why is there weird inexplicable magical effects in the dungeon? Castaway daemons.

8. Present

Here's a little present for you:

If you've got eyes that can see and a heart that loves truth, you will recognize that this is incontrovertible evidence that Minoan kings were waited on by a harem of renamons.

History as we know it is a lie. Anime is real. Waifus are real.

This is what they took from you:

Merry Christmas.

9. Night

Under the government of Enver Hoxha, the People's Socialist Republic of Albania became covered in bunkers and run through with thousands of kilometers of tunnels - a hedge against invasion and nuclear annihilation.

In this riot of construction, it should come as no surprise that some people became lost within it. One such person was an officer of the secret police force, the Sigurimi, who on a routine inspection was sealed inside an incomplete tunnel section by an overly-competitive rival.

It can't be said for certain how long that man was stuck down there alone in the utter dark. When that section was opened again his corpse had had time to mummify to a stage that the coroner who examined him claimed should've taken a century given the environment, and every available surface had been scratched with convoluted ramblings. These ramblings took over a thousand pages to be transcribed in full - which they were, by an unknown party.

This transcription was released in a very limited printing to the cultural fringes of Southeastern Europe under the title Libër Nate Pa Fund, the Book of Night Without End. Most of what survives of the Book to the modern day are amateur translations, and partial quotations in fringe academic journals aiming to prove it a forgery. Massacres have been committed to acquire a few pages of an original printing.

The Book speaks of a universe long-before and quite alien to the one we know - one in which the sun and stars were intruders. This universe was ruled by a gentle homeostasis, wherein the scarceness of energy led to a cosmic preference for the intellectual and spiritual over the physical. Its organisms did not - could not - consume and dominate each other, but rather united in collaborative projects through manifold chains of logic over slow eons.

And then there was light, but these peaceable precursors did not take this lying down.

The light invigorated them even as it annihilated them. Unimaginable trillions turned coat, spreading photosynthetic wings to fly across the widening voids and devour their compatriots for mass-energy. Their greatest mind looked forward, so very far forward, for a solution. The stars couldn't be reasoned with. When questioned, they only roared. To preserve anything worth preserving, much would have to be sacrificed. In this initial exchange, 99.9999999% of everything was lost. They'd survive in the nothing left behind, the nothing between atoms and the nothing between galaxies.

This incredible history takes up only small fragments of the Book. It's interspersed in long sections of that lonely man chronicling his descent into starving, hallucinatory wretchedness. In the English copies, there is more word count dedicated to how to eat rat skins without getting too much fur in your mouth. And yet, as the Book itself says at many points, silence can be just as effective at communicating as noise. Acolytes of the Book believe its written words to be a misdirection, a cipher for the true Book which lies in the empty spaces and unused syllables. These acolytes tend to be passionate in their interpretations, as people who come into contact with the Book have a tragic tendency to disappear without a trace.

Whatever the truth of the Book's mythic history, a war is being fought. Memory decay, negative quantum fluctuation, entropy - all theaters of that war. The missing original printings weren't burned, or torn up, or tossed out with the garbage. They simply disappeared. The I Ching's confirmed it. People kill over the Book because a complete copy might hold the key to turning the tide of this war, or at least saving one's own skin. Even if it can't, a human death, no matter how bloody, must still be preferable to disappearing into the clutches of those vast, cold, and hollow things that have had since the edge of eternity to consider their vengeance.

10. Skull

1949: The Dragon's Head is bought at an antiques auction in Wyoming by one Mr. Taboulliet for the sum of $5,000.

1957: Mr. Taboulliet is murdered in his home in a breaking and entering gone wrong by a then-teenaged Mr. Clark. The Dragon's Head is taken, along with a stash of stolen jewelry that Taboulliet had hidden within the fiberglass insulation in his attic.

2015: Mr. Clark is arrested during a Friday Bingo night at his retirement home for drug dealing, pimping, and scamming his fellow residents out of their savings. Shortly before the police search is room, the Dragon's Head is taken by a staff member, his former collaborator, who sells it to an anonymous buyer for $250,000.

1525: The tactical advice of the Dragon's Head allows a Saxon Freiherr fighting in the Great Peasants' Revolt to lure a peasant force into a slaughter, winning him personal commendations.

1840: A Ms. Bartlett of Cheyenne, Wyoming inherits the Dragon's Head from a distant relative, and is convinced to fake an identity as an Underground Railroad contact in order to waylay, rob, and murder escaped slaves.

1935: Descendants of the Bartlett family, long indoctrinated into their Satanic family cult by the Dragon's Head, commit mass suicide in their basement alongside the fellow cannibals they'd picked up over the dust bowl years.

1813: A British officer of an Independent Company of Foreigners by the name of Bartlett is egged on by the Dragon's Head to outdo his own men in their brutality. He considers the Head to be his only friend, it having saved his life on several occasions.

1799: The Dragon's Head is looted from the Van Riesse's ancestral estate by officer Bartlett during the Anglo-Russian Invasion of Holland. The Baron Van Riesse's final act is to ensure the whole place burns to the ground.

1760: Then a young man, and not yet baron, Van Riesse is gifted the Dragon's Head by a man staying with family friends who claimed to be the Comte de St. Germain. An aficionado of the morbid and arcane, Van Riesse becomes a recluse, obsessed with the Head's secrets. At first he believes he can exercise the evil spirit within it, but in a moment of weakness after losing his parents to typhus he is convinced to study its dark arts in the hope of preventing any further tragedy.

This is almost total bullshitting on the Head's part to begin with, but nonetheless over the decades it makes great strides in re-inventing the same magics that created it from first principles. Van Riesse becomes a prolific serial killer under its guidance, hiding the remains of his victims in the floorboards of his estate.

1602: A priest seals the Head within a church near Radeburg.

1625: The church holding the Head is sacked by Protestants during the Thirty Years' War, and the Head is unleashed once more.

1458: A student of Nicholas of Cusa acquires at great personal expense the fossilized head of a Lilienstrenus specimen, a basal neotheropod dinosaur that lived approximately 210 million years ago during the latter part of the Triassic Period in what is now Germany. Lacking any knowledge of paleontology, this student came to believe that the skull was that of a dragon, and no less a dragon than the Biblical serpent that tempted Eve into eating of the Fruit of Knowledge of Good and Evil.

Ecstatic with this discovery, the student set about modifying the skull in accordance with the alchemical and necromantic procedures by which his own mentor and Roger Bacon were alleged to have created their brazen heads which dispensed their knowledge.

By luck, genius, or some combination of the two, the student succeeded far beyond the meager results of his predecessors. His brazen serpent was no mere occult toy, but a full, independent consciousness. Unfortunately, it was also under the delusion that it was a being of pure evil whose only purpose was to tempt humans to sin. It had no particular power or knowledge to do so, but it was a quick learner.

1463: The student is murdered by passing drunkards after they're mocked by the Head, which he was carrying in a sack on the way to find buried treasure (which of course didn't actually exist).

2020: After years of mind games and cultic initiations it made up on the spot, the Dragon's Head convinces its buyer to fund paleontological digs in Germany to find more specimens of its kind. It believes it can now fully reconstruct the methods of its own creation.

Friday, December 3, 2021

Dicember Days 1-5: Ammo, Ice, Child, Rage, Blade

It's this.


Six-Shooter of Stolen Fates: A silver-plated revolver engraved with constellations and astrological signs, which always seems to have cobwebs forming on it. Mounted atop its cylinder is a little ivory sphinx.

The six-shooter is reloaded by playing Russian roulette. The game must be fair, but participation can be coerced. Each person who dies in the game adds a bullet to the gun with an effect based on how their life was fated to go had they not played (d6):

1. WEALTH: Flecked with gold. Whoever's shot with this bleeds coins worth 1d6 x the damage they took.

2. LOVE: Tinged pink. Other bullets aimed at the same target gain +4 to hit.

3. DRUDGERY: Leaden, heavier than it looks. Lodges in and weighs down those it hits, halving their speed and dragging them out of the air if they're flying.

4. DOOM: Black as coal and stinks of sulphur. The next time someone shot by it might slip off a ledge, catch fire, fail a save, etc., they do.

5. PENURY: Rusty and pitted. The target's most precious possession on their person crumbles to dust.

6. BETRAYAL: Glass, with a scorpion encased within. The next time the target's ally fails a morale check, they turn on them.

2. ICE

Five more twenty-one word dungeon rooms related to the theme of "ice":

Cold Storage

Yeti pack in suspended animation in pillars of ice. Torches melt them fast, body heat melts slower. One pillar blocks exit.

Slippery Slope

Steep descent, slick with ice. Backpack full of useful supplies caught halfway down. Ghoul feasting on broken body at bottom.

Frosty Phantom

Corpse impaled on giant icicle. Ghost haunts trespassers with hypothermia. Give proper funeral to end its torment, be pointed to secret.

Fishing Hole

Unevenly frozen-over pond. Hole cut in center, can be fished for rations. Feel ahead with pole to avoid thin ice.

Coolant System

Hall full of pipes, flash-freeze moisture on contact. Turning valves causes pipes to leak or burst. Goblins fucking with valves.


Writ of Succession: A slip of the finest silk paper, bordered with gold leaf and bearing the seal of the mother of the gods. When signed with your name and stained with another's blood, they become your parent, legally, biologically, metaphysically, and otherwise, with no possibility for disownment. Physical changes due to this are only cosmetic, e.g. if you used it on a dragon you wouldn't gain fire breath or wings, only scales and perhaps the ability to cough up a few sparks.


Aeshma's Brand: A brass rod, with one end bearing a jagged sigil. Someone branded with this sigil gains the rage ability as per the first level/template of a barbarian/berserker class of the DM's choice. Each round you use this ability gives you 1d6-3 (min. 0) points of Aeshma's Claim. The more points you have, the more the brand spreads across your body. Further effects as follows:
1 point: You become off-puttingly vascular and your eyes are permanently bloodshot
5 points: You stink of burned meat and take a -2 penalty to reaction rolls with those who've never killed before
10 points: Bonuses from raging are doubled, and in your peripheral vision you see little clawed fingers digging the brand further across your flesh
15 points: You're dragged through a fiery rift to Aeshma's hell

You can shed 1d6 points of Aeshma's Claim through acts of cruelty and anger. Each act must be significantly worse than the last to have an effect.

If you are able to keep to a vow of absolute pacifism for twice as many days as you bore the brand, the skin it covers will slough off and transform into a tapestry bearing scenes of saints battling demons, all bearing your face. Thereafter, attempting to apply the brand again simply burns you.


Was looking for an excuse to make more three word swords.

When the band of the Blessed Hundred (of whom many songs are sung) split into the Five-score Scoundrels (to whom many curses are spat) they also split apart their former master's sword into five:

SICKLY SWEET SERENITY: A talwar enameled in a rich honey-amber colour, with golden tassels dense as a lion's mane around her pommel and crossguard. Speaks in a sing-song tone, fond of wordplay, pretends to be much dumber than she is. While wielding the sword you can swap all the mind- or soul-affecting conditions on you with the sword herself, which last as long on her as they would on you. Swapping again gives you back any conditions she might still have. Held by the reprobate heir of a merchant dynasty whose grandfather bought her at a tremendous sum from the leader of the first score of the Scoundrels. He keeps her under his bed to dump his hangovers onto.

LOST ENCLAVE AUSTERITY: He is a Damascus steel pata, stained with brownish wood-ink to dull its shine, with a gauntlet shaped like a rhino's head, the blade forming its horn. Mumbles, often incoherently, as though perpetually half-awoken from sleep. While fighting with the sword you won't get any more tired, hungry, thirsty, or older. Held by an immortal bogeyman who killed the leader of the second score of the Scoundrels to take him, and has been waging a constant war on everything since.

SKIN DEEP SEVERITY: A knobbly, sable kampilan, looking as if he was hacked from an iron bloom. Speaks tersely but not to the point, saying only about 2/3rds of what he means to. Can absorb unclaimed bones into himself on contact. Absorbing an amount roughly equal to a human thighbone adds +1 damage, 1 inventory slot, and -1 to hit to him. Shedding the extra mass is as easy as unsheathing the sword from it all. Held by a jackal lich who broke into the tomb of the leader of the third score of the Scoundrels, and uses the sword as a tooth.

CRIMSON SUNRISE PARADISE: She is a coppery firangi with a warthog-hide grip. She is pierced through with iron nails, and she speaks as one whose mouth has been wired shut. Her wielder can alter the consistency of the blood they spill while wielding her, from glue-sticky to oily to a crystalline solid or dense mist. On killing a target, they can extract all the blood left in their body in a gory burst. The average human body contains about five liters of blood. Held by a brain-damaged and near-blind battlefield looter, who is not quite aware of what she holds.

PEALED IRIS HAZE: A spindly sword with a blade of rippling green glass, and a grip and back of polished pink coral. Contrarian, confrontational, but sympathetic to the wretched. When run along the surface of a wall or floor, rings with music that reflects that emotional history of the area. Held by the leader of the fifth score of the Scoundrels, who yet lives as the captive of a fairy-prince in his riverbed palace.

If brought together these five blades might yet be combined back into their predecessor, greater than the sum of its parts. The master of the Blessed Hundred is said to have used it to sever the peak of a mountain and cut the evil from men's hearts.