Friday, July 22, 2022

D6x6 Trite Tritons

Already did merfolk. Are tritons really necessary, in the grand scheme of things?

Anyways, the best way to use all these water-people I've seen to date is here:

Click the button below for your very own, very personalized, very special tritons:

Generator generator here:


These tritons have [have], and their skin is [skin].<br>These tritons can [can].<br>These tritons live [live].<br>These tritons believe themselves to be [believe].<br>These tritons have domesticated [domesticated].

twin fish-tails for legs, like the Starbucks logo
fleshy growths across their body that mimic aquatic foliage and break up their profile
no noses, instead having blowholes on the tops of their heads
symbiotic armour of coral and barnacles
fishy scales covering their body
greenish hair that clumps into kelp-like ribbons

wine-dark, crossed with bands of seafoam-white
countershaded, darker on their upper side and lighter on their underside
pale and nacreous like a pearl
as colourful as the most flamboyant sea slugs
near-transparent, showing off blue veins beneath
vantablack, absorbing light like the oceanic abyss

spit water with bludgeoning force and arrow-like accuracy
achieve immortality by reverting to an infantile state, though they lose many of their memories in the process.
rapidly inflate themselves with air or water to prevent being swallowed by predators
eat the stinging cells of jellyfish and other such creatures to concentrate that stinging ability in their own skin
exude a tremendous amount of mucal slime in an emergency
violently eject parts of their intestines to provide a distraction to predators

atop a seamount, as monastic pirates.
amid a mega-school of herring, whose swarming behaviour the tritons have learned to manipulate to create mobile structures and furniture
on the underside of a vast raft-city of matted sargasso, trading wherever the ocean currents take them. On the topside live albatross-folk, their uncomfortable neighbours
in the fortified harbour of a city their ancestors put to the sword, operating a protection racket on those that cross the boundaries of land and sea
in a patch of anomalous ocean similar to the Bermuda Triangle, where time and space don't work quite as they should and inexplicable disappearances are common
on the edge of a continental shelf. They trade goods of uncorroding deep-metals, forged by their smith-lords who are able to dive down into the vast darkness where their hydrothermal forges lie

descendants of the first people, who fell from the heavens like rain. Those who fell onto the land became humanity, and those who fell into the ocean became tritons. When the age turns, all people will evaporate and return to heaven to be reunited and reconciled
more refined humans, who have replaced much of the lesser matter of their bodies with water, the fundamental substance of the universe
genetically-modified survivors of a cataclysm that incinerated the land who escaped their fiery fate in the sea
the kin of humans who were spared death in the Flood through transformation by a last-minute moment of mercy by God
superior to land-dwellers because they're spared from the tyranny of gravity and all its saggage
the inheritors of Atlantis, Mu, Lemuria, and all the other drowned utopias

giant sea horses, the males of which are used to rear their young
octopi, who are taught many tricks so they can act as another, ultra-flexible hand.
sea anemones, which are worn as living ornaments and trained not to sting their owners
sea urchins, whose spines are milked for poison and broken off to be used as pins and nails when metal is scarce
sturgeons, whose caviar they export for great profit
fist-sized mantis shrimp, which punch out supercavitating bubble-bullets on command.

D10x10 Mysterious Megastructures

Started this one immediately after reading BLAME!

Click the button below for a megastructure of your very own:

Generator generator here:

Special thanks to friends of the blog deus ex parabola and Phlox for brainstorming assistance.


This megastructure is [is] made of [composition], located [located].<br>According to legend it was built by [builtby] [builtfor].<br>The megastructure is known to contain [faction], [monster], and [obstacle], but no doubt these represent only a fraction of what lies within.<br>One of the mysteries surrounding this megastructure is [mystery].

a sphere
a cube
a ziggurat
a cylinder
a pyramid
an asymmetric, amorphous blob
a ring
a lotus
a many-faceted polyhedron
a humanoid structure

in the middle of a desert, only its very tip exposed above the dunes
halfway embedded in a cliff-face
at the bottom of a great ravine
atop the roof of a towering plateau
at the heart of an ancient, untrod forest
within an extraspatial pocket, accessible by esoteric gates
beneath an extinct volcano
in low orbit
at a lunar Lagrange point
just off the coast, its bulk a darkness beneath white-capped waves

steel, glass, and concrete
countless skeletons fused together
a single, titanic living tree
tumorous bio-technological organs
diamondoid and carbon nanotube lattices
a single solid mountain of greasy black stone
Frankenstein-architecture kludged together from dozens of cultures
gleaming ultra-tough alloys and hard-light projections
modular automatons that periodically rearrange themselves according to unknown commands
gold, silver, and jewels that crumble to lead powder if removed from the megastructure

a workforce of exponentially self-replicating golems,
a clan of vampires who gained great power by drinking the burning blood of the earth itself,
a messianic religious movement,
an anteglacian species of bipedal cetaceans who enslaved and uplifted early humanity,
an archmage and their circle of treacherous apprentices
the population of a great city, all possessed by a ghost from the stars,
goblins, before their fall into their modern grotesquery,
an army of djinni at the behest of a sorcerer-king,
a single architect invigorated by obsession,
ancient giants so big they’d make today’s giants look like children by comparison,

to act as proof of their existence that would last until the end of time
to bridge past, present, and future; life, death, and pre-existence
as a prison for a world-ending evil
as the temple and abode of the last and only true god, who would arrive in the universe when the megastructure was completed
as a terraforming engine that would transform the world into their paradise
as a prism that would focus the ambient light of the cosmos back into the pure light of creation
as a doomsday device that could wipe entire concepts from existence
as a factory that could produce all their material needs and usher in an aeon of leisure
as a computing machine that could discern and amend the laws of the cosmos
to pierce the veil between the world and realms unknown

an exile-culture chased from their homeland
a conspiracy of derro who all dreamed of the place before knowing it existed
a lich-poet (accompanied by their undead retinue) who is certain that within the megastructure is the cure for their centuries of writer's block
outriders from a local tribe who see it as their ancestral duty to guard the megastructure from those who would exploit it
an adventurer-prince and his band of cutthroats and scoundrel aiming to carve out a kingdom for themselves
a very confused group of butterfly-folk who don't know why their traditional migration route led them here
a secret society of masons aiming to glean the secret of the megastructure's construction
a cabal of ancient elves trying to find out why the place doesn't exist in their collective memory
the research camp of a prestigious university
a roving market of tinkering nomads

an apparently invincible reptilian behemoth that absorbs and incorporates into itself any weapon that wounds it
giant, drill-faced wolverines that can burrow through the substance of the megastructure
men with hourglasses, pocketwatches, or other timepieces for heads, who interact oddly with causality and history
living comets that have carved themselves into vicious shapes, and drag the utter cold of the void with them wherever they go
grey-fleshed, faceless humanoids that can slip through shadows as if they were doorways between each other
serpents coiled together like DNA strands whose venom mutates whatever they bite
decaying cyborgs that must constantly hunt for flesh and machinery to repair themselves with
holographic beasts that project 3-dimensional bodies for themselves
large ticks with the faces of men that are able to puppeteer people they drink the blood of
floating glass eyeball-things that shoot lasers from their pupils and make their homes in skulls

pockets of airless vacuum, corrosive gas, hallucinatory fumes, and other unbreathable atmospheres
a bad toxic mold infestation
entire miniature, alien ecosystems in domes within
flooding in the lower sections - sometimes mere water, but other times acid, or blood
pipes that contain hot steam, liquid crystal, swarming vermin, and stranger things, which sometimes burst randomly
hostile architecture that's difficult to impossible for a human to navigate without tools
collapsed passageways, sealed gates, and whole sections that move around like parts of a puzzle box
moving gears, pistons, and other machinery that is not even close to OSHA-compliant
rooms and hallways that are impossible according to conventional geometry
a curse that drives those who linger too long within to delve deeper and deeper, heedless of risks

why it's impenetrable to scrying magic and even the sight of the divine
why so many heretical sects schismed off from their parent faiths after receiving a vision of what lies at the megastructure's core
why and how it's suddenly started to move
why settlements near it have started having their populations disappear without a trace in the night
what the source of the wondrous music that drifts throughout it is
why and how it seems to be growing year after year
why people who've returned with treasures from it tend to die in inexplicable ways
why smaller copies of it are starting to be discovered all over the world
why those who try to map it are stricken with genius and madness in equal measure
the fate of a colony established within it, that suddenly and recently dropped out of contact

Semiurge Reviews Movies 4: The Fourth Time Around, It’s Fourthsonal

Semiurge Movie Reviews 1

Semiurge Movie Reviews 2

Semiurge Movie Reviews 3

Lately, people have been stopping me in the street to say: "semiurge, July's almost over, where is your movie review post - the annual event that cinephiles the world over look forward to like Christmas, or Hanukah, or one of those other big ethnic holidays, the name of which I can't remember right this second - not Ramadan, I can't imagine that many people look forward to fasting, but other ones, you know?". Up until now, I've had to scream and soil myself to get them to leave me alone, but no longer. The 4th annual movie review post is here:


What a film, what a great damn film. All-star cast, Pacino & De Niro... my first exposure to De Niro was in Meet the Parents, a fine comedy, but my God, how much more depth he has to him.

GTA V is ripped pretty much entirely from Heat, it's almost scandalous how shameless it is.

Movies really went downhill after 9/11. My running theory is that the unprecedented military-industrial complex involvement disrupted the native ecosystem of Hollywood in ways it still hasn't recovered from to this day. But maybe I'm off-base with that. Just look into how involved the OSS/CIA was and probably still is with Disney.

The Matrix 4

I was day drinking & barbecuing with my buds the whole day leading up to watching this movie, so I don't remember a whole lot of it, but what I do remember was a disappointment. 

My favourite part of the original trilogy is everything leading up to the moment Neo takes the red pill - solid gnostic horror. This movie tries to do something like that over again, but it's muddled and riven with cuts to the people already outside the matrix having fight scenes in trains or whatever.

The rediscovery of the relationship between Neo and Trinity is a workable central thread to this movie, but there's just so much uninspired cruft around it that drags it down.

Also they declined to have Laurence Fishburne reprise his role as Morpheus - weak!

Total Recall

A P.K. Dick adaption, so you know it's gonna be a real mind-bottler.

Practical effects, actual physical sets, that shit sells sci-fi. Miss me with that green screen, talking to a tennis ball on a stick shit. Bussin' no cap, fr fr. The Martian machinery at the end is probably the best megastructure I've seen on film.

Schwarzenegger - is he a good actor? I say yes. He doesn't have to do subtlety or whatever, he's simply got the raw charisma to carry an entire movie on his broad, muscular shoulders.

Terminator 2

Voiceovers have fallen out of fashion - there's a few long voiceovers in this movie.

Another essential piece of Schwarzenegger-core, with great sci-fi action scenes that put the current flood of Marvel-slop to shame. A pessimistic thematic end to the Cold War, where it's no longer a human conflict of good and evil (or whatever else) that brings about the end of the world but our own dumb technological systems running out of our control, inevitable and itself without end through the tangled tumbleweed of possible futures.

The bad guy in this one's a cop. Modern audiences should appreciate that more. I didn't think John Connor's actor was particularly good, and the "hacking" stuff was a clumsy way to make him practically relevant beyond being the emotional heart of the film, but I like what they were doing with the character, which is more relevant that ever today - a lonely kid without roots or role models, seen by the adults around him only as the troublemaker he is and the menace he could become, basing his personality on imitating faux-mature pop culture gunk.

Training Day

We're seeing a lot of wins coming Ethan Hawke's way these days, and performances like his in Training Day go to show that Mr. Hawke's deserved these big Ws for a long time.

A baptism by extended, anxious coal-raking for an idealistic cop on his first day on the job in mean & dirty L.A., under the eye of Denzel Washington's also excellent grizzled old wolf. Katabasis & anabasis, a real modern myth.

My sensitivity reader (unpaid) advised me to remove the following paragraph - I have simply modified it. I leave it to you, dear reader, to decide whether I should have followed that advice entirely:

Women may have trouble fully appreciating Training Day. This comment has no bearing on the moral or intellectual worth of women, which I consider to be equal to men and non-binary people in every respect. My sample size is two. I watched this movie with my girlfriend and my mom (I am an adult man who does not live with my mother. I was helping her with weeding earlier that day, in accordance with the principles of Confucian filial piety. Do not call me a basement-dwelling troll loser in the comments, as that is not an accurate description.), and throughout the film they were on their phones and asking for clarification of plot beats that had been explained less than a minute ago onscreen. This is not a misogynistic comment, I did the same thing when we watched Lady Bird (it was just me & my girlfriend who watched Lady Bird, as previously established I do not live with my mother). A good entertainer keeps their audience in mind when picking movies. Just something to keep in mind.


Couldn't get all the way through this movie. It was decent when it was a "Sam & Frodo in Mordor"-type romp through the WWI wasteland, but (spoiler alert) the tubby one dies after a moment of mercy shown to the Germanic menace, and it's all downhill from there. The "no cuts" filming style works well when exploring blasted landscapes and packed trenches, but weakens tension when the action ramps up. By the time I quit the movie in boredom I was rooting for the good ol' English chaps to lose the war, and spare us a century of rule from the City of London - did you know they worship Gog and Magog there?

In The Tall Grass

I'm not the biggest Stephen King fan - too verbose - but this adaption of one of his novellas yanks the raw root of his horror from the weeds of wordiness.

Norman Rockwell Americana spooked up, that's In The Tall Grass. A grassy field where time and space don't work the way we expect - an alienation from the land, the breakdown of family, a stone in its center granting terrestrial rather than cosmic revelations that lead some to baby-eating madness and others to gentle, terminal decency.

Blood Red Sky

Another movie I couldn't get all the way through. I should have liked this one - freaky vampires are an easy way to get in my good books - but airplanes are just such drab settings that there could be no redemption. The movie's also German, and Germany hasn't had much of a domestic film industry since, well, history buffs will know the answer to this one.

If you need a freaky vampire fix, consider watching Blade 2, or The Strain.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

A modern fantasy classic. Guillermo del Toro's creature design sings here. Good action, good emotion, smooth pacing, sprinkles of comedy, tragedy, and freakyness. You don't need to watch the first movie to understand it, or read the comics, it's pretty self-contained. Watch it if you hadn't, or rewatch it if you haven't seen it in a while - it's worth your time, your precious, precious time.

Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The Gods of Jornu: The First & Second Generations (with Special Thanks to Throne of Salt for the Generator)

Based on Throne of Salt's pantheon generator here:

Which itself is an expanded version of the Manse's pantheon generator here:

The Gods of Jornu

That the world shall one day end and be born again is common knowledge across it. After all, it is the way of things from autumn leaves to mortal generations.

Less common are stories of many worlds, many endings, many beginnings anew, each following the last.

Rarer still is the insight that there are not just many worlds in sequence, but in parallel as well, each with its own deaths and rebirths.

Imagine a world that ended like a dandelion in a breeze, pulled apart and drifting on the void in a thousand thousand pieces. One of these pieces came to this world in its current incarnation, landing more gently than a falling feather. This piece is called Jornu, and so is the city atop it. The city is built from its gods. Little else could have survived the journey

The greatest six of the gods of Jornu (in size and potency), and ancestors of the rest, are the Quartermasters. Each is a divine monument which defines its section of the city. They are as follows:


A smoking ziggurat at the center of Jornu, her stepped sides flowing with her incandescent effluence. Munsara's domain is a pounding heart of industry. Under the shadow of her fumes nightlife thrives. Her people are artisans and prostitutes, labourers and gamblers, the deafened, the blinded, and the maimed.

Before she was remade in Jornu, Munsara was a god of clanging blades and hardened hearts. Idleness poorly suits her. Her frustrated energy bleeds into her populace. Members of the iron-fisted Tempered Temperance movement kick down the doors of speakeasies and do battle with drunken boxers. Guildsmen fight over contracts in the streets. The energy is frantic, indulgent. Philosophies, politics, religion: all melt together here into endlessly merging and colliding sects.

Munsara is respected by the other gods. She is mother to many of them. She is feared as well. They sense her restlessness, and each would turn it to their own ends. Integrationists, isolationists, conquerors, escapists, these are tendencies in their agendas, but not true blocs. The gods of Jornu are family, and squabble like family even when their interests might align. An outsider could tip the balance.

The palace of Jornu's royal family is built on her top steps - this statement is mostly correct. Each of Jornu's royal families has a palace somewhere on her top steps. The palaces are so crowded they've kludged together into essentially a single palace. Each family has a credible claim of descent from Munsara herself, but no one can prove their claim is closer than anyone else's. Locked in an impasse of competing divine rights, the families have withdrawn from government of the city, and become incredibly passive-aggressive towards each other. Theirs is a self-contained world of genealogical warfare.

In their absence the city has defaulted to a sort of gangland anarchy. Each god holds territory in their vicinity, and their will is enforced by mortal lieutenants: the high priests of their cult. This has worked out mostly alright, or at least better than the royals did.


Macro-Cosanti, Paolo Soleri

The gleaming dome of his back dominates the western skyline of Jornu. His splayed limbs are carved with apartments, balcony-gardens, storefronts. In his chest are gymnasiums and bathhouses and racetracks. Throughout him is the salty-sweet smell of incense and sweat.

Virvaril is an arcology, a city-within-a-city. You could live your entire life inside him and not want for anything. By this fact he should be a paradise, yet isn't, because once some weed has taken root within his body it becomes nigh-impossible to uproot. Rebels, criminals, and heretics can disappear within the liminal tangle of his hallways and sustain themselves on hydroponics and vermin indefinitely.

He is also a tragedy, a constant reminder of the cost of Jornu's journey. In hollowing Virvaril out, in tapping his vitality, he was rendered comatose. His remaining priesthood is a few bitter remnants encysted in his guts. The glory and comfort of Virvaril's internal amenities are slowly, yet perpetually, deteriorating for want of his active attention.

Some adventurers believe that within Virvaril's body must lie his brain, and that a sufficient jolt will rouse him back to wakefulness. A handful of these adventurers have returned raving and mold-ridden at the heads of exile-hordes, forced back only by fractious alliances of Jornu's priest-gangs. It is an issue which even polities of the new world have taken interest in, for if Virvaril finally fails then a massive exodus of Jornuans into the outside world for want of food and habitation is assured.


Hala was and is a seer. He foresaw the end of the gods’ world, and what his family would need to do to survive it. None trust him. It was the authority of his wife Munsara that convinced them.

He had originally intended to become the engine of Jornu, its motive power, yet all the wheedling and prophecy Hala could muster couldn't convince the others to grant him such an esteemed position. Instead he was shattered, shrieking, into a million reflective pieces, and reassembled into the city's optics - made to see through space as he already could through time.

As a structure, Hala is five enormous silver dishes pointed skyward, and the complex connecting them with hallways and bounced light. Beneath each dish is the monastery of an order of prosecutors, forbidden from speaking with each other except by the most controlled and monitored channels. These monkish prosecutors are charged with interrogating the five lobe-dish minds of Hala, ensuring there is no unity or alibi between them to further the seer-god's schemes and trickery. By their cross-examination of his splintered psyche they are able to derive cryptic, yet defused, portents to guide Jornu by. There is perpetual low-intensity gang warfare along the branches of Hala's complex from rival cults attempting to steal or disrupt these portents before they can be delivered. There are some who say the entire endeavour is a farce, that Hala's telemetry is meant for the interplanetary void rather than an atmosphere, and that his prophecy can no longer be trusted - these voices are swiftly silenced.

Due to Munsara's smoke a large part of the city is twilit at best. As her husband, Hala takes it upon himself to amend this. A web of mirrors pried from his halls reflects the brilliance of her blazing flanks to all darkened corners of Jornu. Even so, blackouts can occur when a parade, pursuit, or prank pulls the macro-mirrors out of alignment with civilian lumino-networks.


Stolys is the most likely of all the Quartermasters for a foreigner to encounter, perhaps the most likely of any god in Jornu. She is a gregarious being, quick to befriend, eager to learn (quicker to discard once she has what she wants). It's what she was made for.

An eclectic building, Stolys is part university, part embassy, and part zoo, under constant renovation and reinvention. Of all the gods of Jornu, she is the only one with demigods, for her priests are integrated into her divine construction, either as fleshy, conscious mortar or with music-box-like machines chirping from a privileged position in their skulls.

Her role in the pantheon is to learn, assimilate, and manipulate the new world that Jornu has found itself upon. In the old world she was a goddess of something like a rainbow, a divine messenger who circled the world a dozen times over before the day was done, yet now her horizons are restricted, her ability to travel and observe for herself shackled to her own foundations.

This is agonizing for her - Stolys is starved for knowledge. Her Jornuan agents are limited in the movements, and ignorant of the outside world besides. She needs agents, agents of the new world, and when employing them is on the knife's edge of paying through the nose for information, and capturing them for vivisection.


Elegant Lomizelc, trimmed and manicured and stuccoed and painted in all the ways that are pleasing to the eye. Land here is coveted, where the sunshine might be enjoyed outside Munsara's caul.

Most of Lomizelc is claimed by the fortified micro-fiefs of old world aristocratic families. Their holdings are the last place in the entire universe where Jornu's fruits are grown in the same manner as they were so very long ago. The families have calcified in the new order of the city, without the uniting yoke of the royals. Roles are played out in feuds and scandals that have repeated so much over the generations that they've become formal traditions. Honours are granted to exceptional knights-florist on the scale of patches of dirt. The gods themselves are mistrusted for the forms they've taken. Alcoves are carved into idols to worship.

Edging in on the nobility's manor-farms are the towers of Jornu's noveau riche, built with merchant-wealth. They have no love for tradition and much for the money brought in by trade between Jornu and its new world. Their feuds are stunning in their speed and innovation. Lomizelc abhors brute violence, but their eyes are low, so the merchants fight 'cloud wars' between their towers, and against the taller nobles' homes. These wars are fought at lethal heights with war-kites, siphon-blasted toxic gases, pole-shimmying mercenaries, trained birds, and pissed-off swarms of bees (or rather their Jornu-equivalent).

There are domes speckling the immaculate gardens where the careless flaneurs do not care to tread. These 'speculatoria', monuments to all Jornu's imagination and ignorance both, are Lomizelc's true passion.

The gap between worlds is one that light and divinity struggle to cross. Little wonder then that even as they set off Jornu's people were woefully uncertain about their destination (indeed, even whether there was a destination to arrive at). There was much guesswork. Natural philosophers worked night and day beside novelists. A thousand contingencies were drawn up in the space of possibility. Would solid things be drawn downwards, and gaseous things up? Would the air sustain or poison? How many of their angels could dance upon the head of a pin? Each speculatoria is a closed ecosystem adapted to one of these contingencies.

Many contain curiosities, trivialities, answers to problems like "what if the plants there are green instead of purple?". Some contain horrors, answers to worlds of unceasing hostiliy: exponential cancer-castles that decant their own armies, suffering-maximizing terror weapons that root in your brainstem, signivores that eat reality and shit simulacra, and more. These horrors have been sealed (and not even Lomizelc alone could release them now) for fear of what they might do to Jornu as much as for the goodwill of the city's host - this is what is hoped. Truth is there's so many possible threats that not all of them could be sealed, or even recognized for what they could become. All it could take is one urban explorer stumbling through the wrong door to unleash havoc in the gardens.


Jealous Abuo, who curls around the city's southern rim, is the god of rags, despair, and those with nothing else. It is by mass the largest of all the gods of Jornu, but it is spread wide and deep and thin into clutching pipes and coiling drains. All things lost and all people with nowhere else to go in Jornu drain down to Abuo, who is loathe to let them go.

It has two cults, one within itself and one on the outside.

The cult within is a lay priesthood, informal, eager missionaries. They pray to forget, give what little of themselves is left in return for relief. They know much of what others would rather have forgotten. The highest ritual they have is to dance to the moaning music of their god.

The cult outside go about in stainless white. Theirs is an elite circle, open only to the scions of oldest privilege. To them Abuo is a necessary cosmic purifier, swallowing the filth and the cast-offs of existence.

Of all the gods of Jornu, Abuo longs for their home the most. Its dreams of that home spill out from its mouths as miscreated spawn. They're pitiable things, dangerous, a bit nostalgic. Skewered and seared they're popular as street food.

The First Children of the Gods of Jornu

Around the Quartermasters are arrayed their many children, subordinate architectural marvels that guide the ebb and flow of life and death in Jornu. Among their number are:


Jornu is shaped like an apple core, eaten around the middle: fat on top and bottom, gnawed skinny between. There are several ways to get up or down, some better than others. There are the twisting tunnels inside (but those aren't a place for decent citizens, as monsters from Jornu's old world lurk within), the rickety zipline-gondolas (great for bulk shipping, not for the faint of heart), and then there is Kybalt. A flexing trunk of a bridge, long enough to extend right to the ground at a comfortable incline. He is armoured in segments of the seven metals of Jornu (not iron or gold or lead, but alien stuff). His armour is the cradle-gift of his mother Munsara.

Kybalt sees himself as the city's gate and guardian both. He allows none to tread upon him that are not gracious guests or exemplary inhabitants. In the one and only siege of Jornu, Kybalt inflicted more deaths on its enemies than even the star-sicknesses.

He loathes his half-sister Skurma. It would take a threat to the city itself for him to consider treating with any agent of hers.


The gentle daughter of Abuo and Lomizelc. Like her father she accepts everyone into her graces.

Skurma is a cistern, in the same way that a lake is a sort of puddle - a great inundated cavity below Jornu's surface, sucking up rain and sticking her well-fingers into its plazas. She is a graveyard too - a recycler of the dead, processing them back into base nutrients and expelling them onto gardens or as edible slop. In her depths she shelters monsters and leviathans of the old world, loathe to let a single piece of it slip away.

The undead are a novelty to her - a terrifying alien menace to the rest of Jornu. She's become preoccupied as of late with attempting to revive corpses drowned in her water, or devoured by her charges. When death has died, she reasons, all will be reconciled.


A broad road, bulging along its middle, that winds through the whole of Jornu. Ukasil is the child of all six of the Quartermasters (don't worry about how that works, the gods don't follow the bio-logic of gametes). They are a responsive god, responding to foot traffic as though it were prayers, snaking and shifting the layout of the city through its interstices to maximize the efficiency of its throughput. This is a gameable system, and priest-gangs will often press passers-by to commit a quota of marching through their territory as a practical show of dominance that will serve to centralize and nexusize their holdings.


A cabaret club, and a crusader against tedium and conformity. She would not let the god-reconstruction touch her immaculately beautiful features, and so she is a gigantic decapitated head occupying a city block as surely as any apartment or office. Her golden tresses are woven by her devotees into the curtains and chandeliers of her interior. Her haunting, echoing voice provides the music for every dance.
In Tethanki's shows, by the brush of her hair and flesh, it becomes possible for features of the body to be traded. Thereby does every inhabitant of Jornu with the guts for it converge on their own ideal form, or at least the form which their original body could be traded in bits and pieces for.
As with Abuo, so too with Tethanki is there a dual pair of cults, in even deeper conflict for their closer quarters. One is a cult of surgeons and doctors, using her power of exchange for the treatment of disease and deformity, and for the ultimate perfection of the body. The other is aesthetic in nature, pursuing beauty, and the assemblage of the apex of beauty in one body, as its transcendence. When their conflict peaks, Tethanki smiles amusedly - for war can bring the best novelties of all.

Every inhabitant of Jornu lives in dread of the day they might be called to Bozum. He is an arena, and he is a battery, a last-ditch measure for when prayer and the dew of the cosmos might not sustain the world-fragment's gods. His floor is dusted with the oldest blood, and his galleries hold room for tens of thousands of weeping witnesses.
Even the gods are subject to the tyranny of the rocket equation, yet sacrifice is an efficient source of energy for their kind. When their reserves ran low on Jornu's grand voyage, Bozum was granted a tithe of irreplaceable souls to spill themselves for the sake of everything they'd ever known.

In the new world still there has been cause to call on Bozum's cruel gift - integration into the Order of things doesn't come cheap - but the time of the hecatomb has passed. The comparatively mild top-ups of modern times require small, yet high-quality sacrifices, tournaments of fantastic fighters with all their talents and gimmicks set to the death against each other. To the last survivor - honour fit for the greatest of mortals, and a fragment of the power given to recharge Jornu's pantheon.


Yaheya is a proud god, and for good reason. She is the tallest building in Jornu (which has won her no friends in her parents' generation) and she is why there are any people left in the city. Recognition of this fact is what keeps her as tall as she is.

She's built in sections, stacked cylinders, each rotating slower than the ones below it. This is a trick of perception. They're really all turning at the same speed, just in different frames of reference. The higher sections are not slower in speed, but in time.

Traveling the yawning gap between worlds takes a while even for gods (whose years are measured in the cycles of stone to dust to magma and back again). They could not feed all they wished to save for that long. Nor did they wish to see their people drift from the ways of their home. Thus Yaheya was made, the last god born on their dying world.

She worked exquisitely (with one grating exception - the inhabitants of her lowest section... diverged, and escaped into Jornu's godless tunnels). In her highest sections some mortal sages are still preserved (along with countless cultural treasures). They are consulted in direst need, as doing so robs future millennia of the potential to do the same.

Yaheya is conservative as only an immortal can be, and viciously xenophobic. She is a patron of the arts (Jornu's arts! And a stickler for adherence to the art forms!). She serves her purpose without question, out of deep love.


No on in Jornu likes to talk about Zizabuz. Worship of the god is forbidden. She is an abomination.

Zizabuz is unlike the rest of Jornu's gods. She exists in scrawls, defacements, scribbled invectives. She is a parasite on others' faces. Zizabuz is divine graffiti. She is scraped from facades and plastered over every day, and reborn in paint and grime and blood every night.

Her priests, when they are not executed on the spot, are accused of nihilism - of valuing nothing but destruction. They protest - their only sin is tradition, for Zizabuz is the conscience of the gods, sprung forth from their collective unconscious the moment Jornu touched the earth once again. Her message is simple, her message is kind.

“Come home,” she says, “come home and die with us”.

Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Pathfinder Bestiary 5 vs. D&D 3.5 Monster Manual V: A Tournament for the Ages

It's at five minutes to midnight, the last few drops of gas, when every step could be your last, that truly heroic acts make themselves know.

After four big books of monsters, the crews for Pathfinder & D&D - the heartbreaker & the heartbroken - must have both been scraping up dregs for the fifth.

Time for the showdown nobody's been waiting for. We're gonna see who's wrung the best of the things that go bump in the night out of their blood, sweat, and tears - Pathfinder Bestiary 5 vs. Monster Manual V:

Category 1: Covers

Winner: Monster Manual V - no contest. That's a tome that could exist as an in-game artifact, and be used to bludgeon someone's head in. The grim reaper, an alien, and a fish-man with cataracts can hang out all they want - they're never going to top that.

Category 2: Dragons & Dragonoids


Monster Manual V has got "Xorvintaal dragons", who join a dragon chess club - except that the chess is played with people as pieces and the board is the world. They get telepathy and the ability to empower their chosen "exarchs". I like the word exarch, got a good sound to it.

It's also got Greenspawn Zealots, who are just dragonborn but evil I guess. Could've done without these guys.


Bestiary 5 has got: astral dragons, dream dragons, dragonkin, etheric dragons, nightmare dragons, occult dragons, amphipteres, cetuses, ether drakes, jungle drakes, khalas, peuchens, pyraustas, scitalises, shens, uraeuses, vishaps, water leapers, wyrmwraiths, and FUCKING ROPE DRAGONS. That makes for a very crowded idea-space.

I like that the cetuses (these guys):

Are mechanically bad omens for sailors. That should be more common - monsters that are dangerous for their ambience & symbolic meaning.

Winner: No one. Too many goddamn kinds of dragons. Why does everything have to be a distinct kind? Bestiaries should have more unique monsters instead of a bloating of kinds, each with their own particular situations & scenarios. A whole species of nightmare dragons doing evil dragon stuff in the land of dreams? Yawn. A single dragon heralded by people dreaming of a time when mammals were just tree-shrews in a world ruled by reptiles, waking up with nasty raptor-bites? That's starting to get somewhere.

Category 3: Cutie Patooties



It's a slime that wants to be a person but its transformations revert in sunlight and then nobody wants to be its friend.


It's a nice little magic dude who makes crops grow better. You could have a situation where a village is dependent on a fastachee's help to not starve, but they've offended it somehow and it's hidden itself away, but beyond that I don't know how interesting these guys could be. Cute though.


It's a Hopkinsville Goblin. It tries to trick people into throwing their things at it so they break. There's a pokemon based on the Hopkinsville Goblin too I think.


Could be the cutest of the whole bunch, but it's trying too hard with that fireball. You're not going to be cool ovinnik - stick with being cute. These guys live in granaries and grant good luck or bad luck depending on how they're treated. Soft-ass D&D social situations.


I can imagine the sound these guys make: "mehmehmehmehmeh". They make pocket dimensions in homes (would be neat to expand on) and make nuisances of themselves unless flattered. Sworn enemies of brownies - brownies sound lame. You need to find something in a run-down house, but the resident kikimora has hidden it under an illusion unless you solve its riddles/give it cookies. Imagine it stomping its feet and shaking its broom in tiny impotent rage.


Good monkey :^).


It'll cut you up with bones or something. Don't care, I'd still give it a hug.


Taunting Haunt

Horrid little man. Ghosts who just want to play pranks & make fun of the targets of their spectral ire. Can only be defeating in a battle of wits - lamely abstracted in the book but could be made good.


Kuo-toa don't need bulging bicep veins, they don't need to look physically threatening - let them be funny little fish-frogs. There's enough veiny bicep monsters, there's room for ridiculousness. Anything kuo-toa worship becomes a god is the lore I think. That's good, stick with that. Mad little dudes making mad little gods.

Winner: Pathfinder. Bestiary 5's got an avalanche of cutie patooties, but it'd take some work to make a few of them gameable.

Category B: Undead


Animate Hair

The non-wasteful necromancer uses every part of the corpse. These guys can make themselves into a wig and manipulate the mind of whoever wears them - first to vanity, then to prideful murder. Fun.

Bone Boat

It's a boat, crewed by the drowned dead and made of reanimated whale-bone. What's not to like?

Death Coach

Ghost-coach, steals souls. Folkloric.


Good art. You can really feel the torment. These things are like ultra-specific genies - spirits of murderers trapped in bottles, released only to kill, their murderous fixation can lead them to turn on the unwary summoner. Can imagine some good mysteries with a polong as the murder weapon.


Deadborn Vulture

A big bird hatched by necromancers. Not undead to start with, but rises as a zombie once it dies. Not a bad gimmick. I like to imagine the necromancers sitting on a clutch of eggs to make them.


Big stack of murder-bones. Can apparently turn into a rhino-form too. I like big skeletons made of smaller skeletons.

Skull Lord

Unique set of monsters - twelve of them in the entire world, seeking artifacts to raise their master / their whole self? It's ambiguous, and that's appealing. Have three skulls, each with their own power - videogamey fun.

Winner: Almost a tie, with Pathfinder pulling ahead by a(n animate) hair.

Category X: Flora & Fungi



Giant psychic fungus that traps people nearby in a hallucinatory world indistinguishable from the real one, so it can eat them.


A plant/fungus symbiote that mistakenly and usually futilely attempts to infest people, causing them to experience bizarre symptoms and delusions as it integrates into their bodies. A plethora of mind-altering drugs can be harvested from it - it's likely the groups harvesting these drugs will be of more danger to you than the creature itself - secret police with truth serums and so on.


Parasitic, emotion-draining plant. Grows out of its hosts as tendrils and flower-crowns.


Verdant Ravager

What happens to someone charmed by a dryad when their meat-body can't withstand living unsheltered in the wilderness anymore. Some decent body horror in its description. Art could be spookier.

Fetid Fungus

Your typical flesh-eating slime, except it's a fungus, and it smells really bad. Mediocre.


Unexceptional, except in that it's yet another parasitic plant. Implants a vine down your throat then beats you into unconsciousness until its spawn's parasitized your body. Yuck!

Winner: Pathfinder by a wide margin. Why are there so many parasitic plant/fungal monsters though? Odd to me.

Here's a youtube channel I've been watching lately - it's a microbiologist or something of that sort analyzing parasites and viruses and so on in movies & other media and attempting to explain how they might work biologically:

Category Y: Weirdoes & Spookums



I guess this is Pathfinder's version of the su-monster? Those things on its back are its babies, and they're intelligent & psychic. The thing isn't and is quite upset about that. The image of those basically-humanoid babies growing into the shrinkwrapped wolf-things is a good one.


Nice alien anatomy. Doesn't have much else going for it.


Hell yeah samurai crab.


Chariots of the Gods-style shapeshifting, civilization-sculpting ancient aliens. Some of their abilities are based on high-tech devices you can steal from them - that's neat.


They're nightmare-monsters that feed on fear. The art for all these guys is great - maximalist Silent Hill-type stuff.


Mockery Bug

Look at that picture. That's a great picture. Artist is "Daarken". These guys have a queen that eats people and poops out drones that look like those people, except very stupid, who goof about until they burst out as centipede-things with those people's faces.

Thoon Guys

Mind flayers, but even spookier. Also got great art. Wouldn't want to run into one of these guys.


They've got knives for fingers, and need to steal the organs of others to put inside themselves. Definitely spooky.


I hate these tornado-nipple bastards so goddamn much.

Winner: D&D, but seriously I hate shaedlings. Pathfinder has a lot of stuff that's too close to its source inspiration, if not ripped entirely like the Lovecraft stuff. This I do not like. Get a little crazy with it, I can adapt the King in Yellow or whatever on my own.

Category !: Elementals & Golems


Wood Colossus

Dope art. Art by Tomasz Chistowski. Big ol' houseman.


Ruin Elemental

Winner: I want to wrap this post up, so it's down to just these too. Pathfinder wins on the strength of its art.

Category Z: Vapourblobs



AAHH!! That cloud's gonna punch me!!

These guys have it out for "unnatural sources of light or darkness". Pretty lame.

Aerial Servant

Like a polong but lamer.

Caller in Darkness

Eats minds. Okay as far as vapourblobs go.


Don't think this one's got any.

Winner: Nobody, I don't particularly like this sort of monster.

Category ?: Monster Women



Oh no no no no no no no no no no no.

Shadow Collector

Looks like a dang Zelda.


Bee-women. Do not think about the belly-holes.


Arcadian Avenger

Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion-ass swords.

Frostwind Virago


Winner: D&D.

Special Category: Twinks


Choral Angel


Water Veela



Possible twink? - Consultants report hint of a breast - Boymoding?


Nothing. Not a single one.

Winner: Pathfinder by a landslide.

Special Category: Silly Names

Pathfinder: Chuspiki, Exscinder, Tsaalgrend, Somalcygot, Rhu-Chalik

D&D: Draudnu, Garngrath, Guulvorg, Rylkar, Spirrax

Winner: D&D

Special Category: Pagecount

Pathfinder: 322

D&D: 226

Winner: D&D. Yeah, having fewer pages means you win this one. More pages = more monsters = more potential for good monsters. Gotta balance it out somehow.

The Verdict:

D&D Wins: IIII

Pathfinder Wins: IIII

Ultimate Winner: What's this..? It's a tie?!

That's crazy. That's almost unbelievable. I was sure Pathfinder was going to win - maybe they would if there had been more categories.

What have we learned? Maybe that art can make a monster concept. Maybe that it's not enough to just have a monster be threatening, it has to be distinct and have hooks & mechanics that distinguish it from the undifferentiated mob of shovelware monsters. Draw your own conclusions.

Bonus: Look at this Artorius from Dark Souls-looking ass: