Friday, March 31, 2023

Over Hungry Grass

Over at our dear leader Phlox's GLOG server, people have been trading blogpost drafts for mutual co-completion. From deus ex parabola I got his unfinished adventure "Over Hungry Grass". He got one of my partially-done D20x5 generators - you should be seeing that any year now completed in record time over at

Without further ado, the provisional, prototypal, rush-it-out-so-deus-has-it-for-his-saturday-session version:

Thursday, March 30, 2023

D6x6 Dowdy Dohwar

Having arrived at this post, this digital sanctuary in a swirling virtual sea, you might have wondered to yourself: what the fuck is a dohwar?

They are from the Spelljammer setting. They look like penguins, they are a species of merchants - and they're not even the only merchant-species in Spelljammer, they are telepathic, they have an elite military force called the Deathsquealers that ride flying space pigs. That's it, that's all you need to know. Oh yeah, and they get drunk off sugar.

Click the button below to generate your dohwar:

Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here:

D6 These dohwar have
1 long, yellow, feathery eyebrows which they style labouriously with scented waxes.
2 comedically-long and curly-clawed flipper-feet - the result of obsessive aestheticism over many generations.
3 sunrise-red beaks and helms of lime-green feathers.
4 adorned themselves with masks resembling the faces of many species among the crystal spheres.
5 tall, featherless, flabby, albino bodies.
6 long brown feathers across their body, as if sparrows that forgot to fly.
D6 These dohwars trade in
1 spices, jewels, and other low-mass, high-value goods. They're a long way from home, with the homesickness to show for it.
2 exotic beasts. The interior of their spelljammer is a cage-filigreed menagerie.
3 medical supplies. They've got an undeserved sense of moral superiority.
4 bulk goods, moved often. They know everyone and every place along their typical route.
5 smuggled weapons and combat drugs. They're (understandably) guarded and paranoid.
6 the transport of people rather than goods. They don't usually ask if the people being transported want to be.
D6 These dohwars' telepathy
1 reached such a pace that their egos seamlessly merged together. They're now more like the limbs of a single organism than true individuals.
2 is on the fritz due to an intrusive thought-parasite, so they compensate with constant, quite annoying chatter.
3 works by creating a shared waking dream-world.
4 can be used offensively, projecting nightmarish phantasms into their targets' minds.
5 can spread their sugar-drunkeness to those they communicate with.
6 is low-bandwidth, communicating mostly just blunt emotions and vague imagery.
D6 These dohwars enjoy
1 the natural sweetness of fruits - a mellow high.
2 mead - an irresponsible double-drunkeness.
3 eating whole, refined lumps of sugar - they party hard and don't remember much of their parties.
4 no ensugared delights - they're strict teetotalers. Oiled fish suffice for treats.
5 chewing candied gummies throughout the day - they're functional addicts.
6 supping treacles - but only on certain sacred holidays - to do otherwise would certainly precipitate a tumble into intoxication.
D6 For protection, these dohwars hire
1 a squad of insectare sword-singers.
2 prissy giff mercenaries.
3 umber hulks, on loan from a neogi cartel.
4 gnome-leased automatons.
5 barbarians kidnapped from worlds without their own spelljammers.
6 hadozee privateers.
D6 These dohwars's spelljammer
1 has a damaged engine, so it's been leashed to a herd of space pigs for some extra motive power.
2 is a blocky, utilitarian cargo-hauler.
3 is lashed together from several modular components, and salvaged components that have been haphazardly modified to be modular.
4 resembles a gladius in profile - in fact its point is super-hardened to facilitate ramming maneuvers.
5 is a living creature resembling a giant manta ray, fitted with a habitat pod, control rig, and so on.
6 is a luxury model with a glass-domed terrarium that replicates the polar ocean of their home.

Tuesday, March 28, 2023

Who Is This: A Response to Dansumption

Over at Peakrill Press, Dansumption has issued a challenge to tell him about some AI portraits he generated. Here we go:



In his callowness a tradesman with no hand for his trade, fingers peeled by rope-hauls never hardening to callousy. By nature soft, he grubby-hid with shady sorts in shaded spots, padded digits counted stacks of bullion through their graspings.

Neither and never to the stocks nor the gallows, Melanogredo's grub hatched unfolding schemes, for a torch was bearing swift into his shadows. From o'er saw-backed waves rambuctive rowoars pushed uncedeingly; up river-in-vales sails flew en-gorged - the navy of Marlo, semper vicit, semper vincens, here to settle the piratical distempers of these coastal waters. Once ingrate to his sailing days, now they made the stock for his new work as a trade-man - he sold the sites of smuggle-coves and made way on routes now cleared of any else who'd known them.

Lips pressed tight sealed secrets shut - old and honourless friends not sold out to Marlo enjoyned Melanogredo under his entreupid captaincy. This son of iniquity spun wholecloth and heroic tapestries for his facade - he would be not merely Melanogredo the sailor, Melanogredo the mountebank, Melanogredo the merchant, but Melanogredo of the House of Albuminauc - a truly noble diction which sweet-talked a devil's dowry from his wife's father (a commonbred Marloan of uncommon bread).

Together married, their fleet knew stormy seas. A commissioned portraiteur put horns on Melanogredo, and skipped away with his wife to Gherriot (where their love soon turned stony and sunk the both of them). He swore off women and painters alike - for what was their beauty but an opaque curtain - and made to curtail their influence.

No son of woman born had he, but two sons born of alchemy. Vat-grown and levin-quickened, his own image reproduced by physicianical processes - though stripped of the delicacy which had been his own and only regret. Melanogredo's health herenow ailed him, perhaps tarnished by the fumes of his patronage, and against it he resolved to see his seed sprout . He quaffed potions to prolong life, potions to preserve life, potions with miscalculated miscibility which fermented rebellion within his guts. His final years saw him dissolved from within, slosh-headed and losing his previous acumen. Melanogredo transacted inadvisably, peeled the gilding from his self-raised house. Alast terminally softened, Melanogredo collapsed into sludge before he could tear up its last timbers.

This empty house passed to his first son, Leucocal. To his second fell not right but duty, to remember, to depict, to cut down the curtains of art and time. I, Grall, have borne it, though winters have weighted my tongue and pen, I, Grall, bear it.


Leucocal made real what Melanogredo imagined - the architect and the architecture of his desire. Albuminauc coffers clinked hollow at his inheritance, and so Leucocal made his salt in Marlo's army, instead of upon its seas (for it's hard-scrabbling to make money as a merchant without money to begin with).

Deftwise did his spear split the space between reavers' ribs, and his marching-boots trampled reeking terror in pursuit. He vaulted into an officer's crest in momentous time - just as Marlo was to be swept up in the tide of an unwholesome war.

For it was custom in our forefathers' day to give the dead to the lurking things in the deep, that they might walk and sing as we do in their lightless halls. To Marlo this was the utmost breach of the relational propriety between child and parent, king and country, that those who've passed should be denied rest in its mountainous catacombs, to dream, and one day awaken once more. Forbiddance was laid heavy on the practice to its acquired citizens.

Corpses crusted by abyssal growths breached wakes all'ong the coast - slime-soaked knots pulsing in their holey chests - haggearts, in the term of the banned rites.

To fight a haggeart was a much-different fray than against men - and Leucocal stalthwarted their advance all the same. In the darkling pitch of battle he saved a prince of Marlo, who'd been reborn in the head of a well-couched host, and won brief adulation court-side for it.

The House of Albuminauc bleary-blinked beach-sand from its eyes to find itself stood among fields of glistering molly-combs, swathed in blossoming-indigo ivy. For exemplary service was land awarded to it, and on this land the House was transcribed from fiction into deed. Leucocal continued his father's work in the flesh, and without labour his son Tasanthos was birthed in that House.

A life lived awash in blood and rotten mobs left Leucocal unmarred save for a long line hooked from mouth-corner to the end of his cheek - such was his tempered ferocity. He never awoke from his nightmares with a scream, but with a slight smile, that quivered at the edges. He was not ended by sword-point or the cold comfort of a death-bed. In armour swaddled, over-board tipped by a sudden storm, Leucocal dove to shudder the fear of him back into his waterlogged nemeses.


Though his father and grand-father had in their latter days fallen victim to the reaper of men's hair's harvest, Tasanthos came into this world without a strand on his body. This was the least of his afflictions - his blood was pale, he could scarcely walk a mile, and yellowed veins crept from his crown. As an aging amanuensis might err in his passing of words from ear to paper, so too was the old branch of Melanogredo blemishing in its autumn.

Melanogredo had loved his accounting-books, and Leucocal his romances, but no Albuminauc before or since loved books as widely and as deeply as Tasanthos. He amassed library-piles, oil-stained and wax-dribbled, and studied alongside the alchemists who midwifed him.

This virtue was his burning moth-light. The war waged against the haggearts by his father's generation planted dubiousity in his own - knowledge that should have been left to its cultic dusk was dredged, and Tasanthos was helpless against seeking knowledge. Serpents came to coil in the cellar of this House, and spiders wove plots among its rafters. Mawkish rakes milked venom from each other's mouths against their betters.

Saviour-counsel whispered its way to Tasanthos from a comrade-in-arms of Leucocal - a man high-ranked and far-sighted. He gave warning that Marlo weary-wared towards the festering heathenry of the coast, and would soon lance it. Tasanthos came sober-light to his senses immediately. He uncovered the occulted vermin to Marlo, and was made its eyes and ears in the underworld.

Though he brought servicial glory and the wealth of a rich stipend to the Albuminauc name, Tasanthos died by treachery, by the dividing line of this House. It was his firstborn, Aurandudate, too hideous for even my recollection, who fed the draught that poisoned him. I swear it was Aurandudate's hand that fed him.


Tasanthos's second-born, leal, lamb-bent though shining eyed, the heir whose birthright was stolen, posed as Aurandudate's opponent in every fashion. He was the first Albuminauc since Melanogredo to be born from the union of man and woman, never knowing the flasks and flumes of his forebears - a wizon'd choice on the part of Tasanthos, to rejuvenate the souring fruit of this House.

That he remembered anything of his father's House is a credit to the sharpness of mind in his blood - for he was chased out milkling-young. His mother was a fisher-woman before she was the wife of an Albuminauc, and he was raised as a fisher-man.

He would not, could not remain a fisher-man til his greying days. Rud's skin tore like thin paper - though this never pained him - and his blood gleamed in the fissures of these tears. The mark of true lordship was upon him, not granted by Marlo but welled up from within. When the sky glowed with sailor's mourning, a globstrom serpent writhed ashore in Rud's village - and kissed his wounds, and returned to the water when he so commanded it. He was crowned with sculpted fish-leather before the sun set.

It was at this moment when Marlo was o'erthrown in these parts, conquered, yet never to conquer'ere again, mist-fade revelation to settle in. The village became a militia, which spread to many villages and became an army. Haggearts piled in the harbours, more thoroughly defeated by Rud than even mighty Leucocal had accomplished, for now they were not simply slain but subjugated - swarming into battle alongside his followers. The enemy-fallen were cast like tears down cliff-faces into the sea.

A haggeart with Leucocal's face was seen leading a force into the very halls of this House, and dragged Aurandudate jiggle-chinned and blubber-screeching into the star-winked night, and indeed... and indeed...

Indeed I must pause here, for the ridges of my brain grow hard and dry and rankle against the innards of my skull.

Remember always the motto of this House... remember always... remember always... remember always... remember always...

O brother, good brother, why me?

Friday, March 24, 2023

D20x5 Sinister Space Churches

Is this really an archetype? There's like Unitology from Dead Space... and then what?
Why didn't I just make this sinister churches in general, like they always have in animes?
The inner machinations of my mind are an enigma, even to me.

Of the same tableated sci-fi universe as:

D20x5 Space Marines

D6x6 Xeno-Swarms

D6x6 Rebellious Robots

Click the button below to get your sinister space church - one in three million, two hundred thousand: 

Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here:

D20 This sinister space church preaches
1 positive nihilism - nothing matters, so have some fun.
2 that a proper hierarchy, beings obeying their natural betters, will lead to a harmonious universe.
3 tithing all your belongings to it so they can be invested towards its (outwardly virtuous) goals.
4 total nullification of the self in service to the greater good.
5 that all things that happen are the will of the divine, so all events and status quos should be passively embraced.
6 that all living things are ultimately prey - to predators or decomposers - and so part of the same herd.
7 the necessity of piercing through the anthropic illusions of compassion and so on to arrive at celestial reality.
8 that it can sell indulgences for any sin.
9 the incompleteness of humanity, and its tenets as the ladder to further development.
10 that by following its teachings one can purge the body and brain of toxins.
11 that those who follow its teachings will be rewarded with material prosperity and mates.
12 post-mortem mind-uploading to a virtual afterlife of their design.
13 antinomianism for its followers - freedom from laws and morality.
14 the need for humanity to accept peaceful annihilation in order to end suffering among the stars.
15 that they hold the negentropic key to survive the end of the universe, while non-believers will suffer final destruction.
16 that humans were uplifted by aliens long ago, and that those with certain genetic markers were made to be leaders of humanity.
17 obedience to occulted masters who've become enlightened and unified with the fabric of the universe.
18 that it alone holds absolute knowledge of the future through astrological prophecies.
19 intentionally-contradictory doctrines to give itself the appearance of gnostic depth and lure in the gullible.
20 subjection of actions to their utilitarian calculations.
D20 This sinister space church is headed by the
1 Evolutionary Pinnacle - a harsh and brisk sort kept alive into hoary age with piled-on life support tech.
2 First Among the Fellowship of the Faithful - F.F.F. for short - someone lazy and willfully-ignorant who can't imagine ever losing their position of privilege.
3 Primordial Principal - a fanatical, misanthropic true believer.
4 Archdruid of Interstellar Nature - a hard-nosed pragmatist really only interested in their own enrichment.
5 Utmost Patriarch - a sadist who values their position only insofar as it lets them hurt other people.
6 Elder Hierophant - a senile horndog used as a mouthpiece by the real power of the church: the inner council.
7 Most Reverend Ecumenopolitan - a gutless politician at heart.
8 Polestar Pontifex - a wild-eyed academic-at-heart who relishes the opportunity to be so close to the otherworldly.
9 Cornicopian Manciple - a generous tyrant who gives and takes according only to their whims.
10 Collective Universal Ally - a snake-in-the-grass, gregarious and treacherous.
11 Galactic Incarnate - an entitled and tantrum-prone man-child raised for the role.
12 Rebus Regia Astronema - a transhumanist addicted to self-modification.
13 Enlightened Exarch - a murderous paranoiac who stabbed backs to make their way to the top.
14 Nebulous Oracle - a worlds-historic bullshitter.
15 August and Sagacious Heavenly One - a cold and well-read sort who justifies their church with inhuman logic.
16 Coronal President - ineffectual, and elected to that position by vying factions precisely for that reason.
17 Syzygycephalus - who's become disillusioned with the church but will be torn apart by their followers if they ever give hints of this.
18 Optimal Primate - who cynically uses the church to pursue a personal vendetta.
19 Empyrean Emperor - a power-drunk madman with a feverish charisma.
20 Champion of Cosmic Truth - a coward who surrounds themself with sycophants and yes-men.
D20 This sinister space church's buildings
1 are glass-and-steel tumours they renovate off other structures.
2 are towering brutalist behemoths.
3 are spindly skyscrapers kept aloft more by anti-gravity than structural integrity.
4 are connected to each other even other large distances by secret underground tunnels.
5 are bunker-like and militarized.
6 are built with ruin value in mind - and their oldest constructions are their most sacred sites.
7 are built with deliberate hostile architecture principles.
8 are not advertised as such, and have no outwardly distinguishing features - most require word-of-mouth to find.
9 are pyramidal - they believe the pharaohs shared their beliefs.
10 are suffused with infrasonic music meant to brainwash their visitors.
11 are a blatant imitation of Christian cathedrals, complete with stained glass portrayals of its own mythology and figures.
12 double as astronomical observatories.
13 are never built planet side - in close orbit at the lowest.
14 are the architectural equivalent of the Corporate Memphis style - flat, geometric, inoffensive to the point of being offensive.
15 are psychedelically disorienting.
16 are made as ostentatious as possible to advertize its wealth and popularity.
17 are ridden with hidden passages, chambers, and surveillance systems.
18 are all replicas of the site where the church was founded.
19 are designed according to fractal sacred geometrical ideals.
20 are, in accordance with doctrine, lit only by genetically-engineered bioluminescent creatures.
D20 This sinister space church truly worships
1 an alien parasite that initially augments then gradually takes over the body.
2 an unthinkably vast hive of spaceborne beasts lurking in the void between galaxies.
3 an incomprehensible worm that burrows through the stuff of linear time.
4 a higher-dimensional, hyper-intelligent predator that became trapped in our 4-dimensional universe and was driven insane in the process.
5 decadent psycho-electrical entities obsessed with possessing organic creatures and working them to death in pleasurable pursuits.
6 an anti-matter universe that desires the annihilation of its counterpart.
7 a biotechnological, globe-spanning ocean of protoplasm, which devours and endlessly replicates all life.
8 ultraterrestrials that want to turn this universe into a garmonbozia farm.
9 a living magnetic storm in the heart of a supermassive gas giant, which wishes to spread like a lesion to every world.
10 an ancient artifical intelligence hellbent on assimilating all minds into itself.
11 a rapacious and enormously technologically-advanced empire trapped by its peers in a past eon within the event horizon of a black hole.
12 a psychic messiah who will be born thanks to their efforts in the future, and telepathically projects guiding dreams to them back through time.
13 an anomalous black moon which appears in different systems seemingly at random, and is riddled with tunnels and caverns that go on far longer than they should given the moon's apparent size, crawling with monstrosities and impossibilities.
14 the titanic husks of things older than the universe, which inflict bizarre fractal mutations in those who come into contact with them.
15 an undead alien dictator whose immortality and uncanny power come from the advanced nanites they're infused with.
16 a zombifying astral fungus - as the means for their immortalization.
17 a sentient memetic viral system that can infect biological brains and computers equally easily.
18 shadowy entities which possess god-like physics-warping powers within a rift of unreality, that wish to tear this rift wider until the whole universe is their playground.
19 colossal plasma-vampires that drift through space and drain life-giving stars.
20 the hell-dimension they believe underlies faster-than-light travel - like in Event Horizon.
D20 This sinister space church is opposed by
1 fedora-tipping atheists who embarrass the opposition movement.
2 a network of apostates who learned the truth of its faith.
3 a team of inquisitors sent by the Roman Catholic Church.
4 the benevolent ghosts of lifeforms that evolved and existed only in the brief moment of cosmic expansion after the Big Bang.
5 an exile-nation the church once waged a holy war on.
6 a totalitarian regime that tolerates no alternate ideologies.
7 a heretical sect that splintered off it, which is growing in support among orbital workers.
8 a tax bureau investigating their sketchy financial activities.
9 an order of cyber-valkyries who induct fallen warriors into their number with nanites.
10 partisans opposed to its influence on their planets' politics.
11 some kooky conspiracy theorists.
12 a criminal organization who don't appreciate the church cracking down on the drug they deal.
13 some terroristic space-anarchists who violently oppose all centralized authorities.
14 fundamentalists within it who believe they shouldn't have to hide the truth of their beliefs from the universe.
15 an association of families who've lost members to the church's indoctrination.
16 an archaeological department that uncovered evidence of a past disaster caused by the true object of the church's worship.
17 bounty hunters collecting on hits put on members of the church by an unknown enemy of it.
18 an up-and-coming political party which positions itself against secret societies and mystery cults.
19 a rebel union of indentured servants the church imported to its planetary seat of power.
20 enigmatic aliens whose civilization was destroyed by the true object of its worship.

Thursday, March 23, 2023

D100+ Vainglorious Volcanos

"'Neath sea the land sinketh, the sun dimmeth, from the heavens fall the fair bright stars; gushes forth steam and gutting fire, to very heaven soar the hurtling flames."
-The Prophecy of the Seeress

Click the button below to get your very own volcano

Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here:

Tuesday, March 21, 2023

D6x6 Garbled Gargoyles

Click the button below to get your gargoyle:

Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here:

D6 This gargoyles is carved from
1 fossil-laden limestone. It can release trilobitic sub-gargoyles as drones.
2 rich red porphyry. Its larger smashed-apart pieces would be valuable as loot.
3 magnetite. It can crudely manipulate magnetism to toss around ferromagnetic materials.
4 quartz. It's near-invisible when it wants to be.
5 sharp-edged obsidian. Even just touching it is enough to cut you.
6 piezoelectric tourmaline. Striking it creates a dangerous electric charge that can climb back up metal weapons.
D6 This gargoyle looks like
1 a gryphon with the head and wings of a pigeon and the arms of a man.
2 a squat and wrinkled grotesque with tusks and a horn in the middle of its forehead.
3 a winged and spade-tailed caricature of a long-dead political figure.
4 a childish imp, a diabolical putti.
5 a long-necked donkey with fangs and clawed feet.
6 a dwarf with a snarling cat head and the robes of a clergyman.
D6 This garygoyle is animated by
1 a fistful of the still-molten blood of the underworld.
2 a prayer wheel rotor echoing with orisons.
3 canopic jars containing fossilized organs, looted from an inhuman tomb.
4 the 1,000 names of the Prime Mover engraved across its form.
5 the ghosts of monks who broke their vows in unforgivable fashions.
6 a tamed and yoked spirit of the earth.
D6 This gargoyle is perched
1 atop the gatehouse of a ruined castle - about the only part of the structure that's still standing.
2 in a cathedral sealed due to a necromancer raising the dead interred in its crypt.
3 on the eave of the derelict temple of a proscribed religion.
4 in the unfinished palace of an upstart dynasty which was unable to complete its construction before another rebellion overthrew them in turn.
5 in a once-luxurious, now abandoned leprosarium which catered to the nobility.
6 atop the burned-out husk of a government ministry building in a neighbourhood that's been barricaded off into its own self-ruling polity.
D6 This gargoyle is rumoured
1 to be able to smell the guilty, and so those hoping to prove their innocence against accusations are sometimes sent to it as a trial, though very few ever return.
2 to be weakened by direct sunlight.
3 to be sought unscuffed by a fabulously-wealthy collector of antiquities.
4 to have been carved by a master mason who was also the grand master of a secret society, who left clues to the location of that society's hidden treasury in their maker's mark.
5 to be possessed by the jealousy of its carver, and so it could be distracted by someone who resembled the object of its jealousy.
6 to have adopted a hunchbacked orphan.
D6 If you grind up this gargoyle and snort it
1 you'll abrade the shit out of your nasal cavity.
2 you'll trip balls and commune with lithic intelligences that live at the interface of magma and dead stone.
3 you'll sneeze it back out into a phlegmy map of the region's geology.
4 your skin will become hard as stone for an hour, though after this you'll sweat out the grains in an extremely uncomfortable process.
5 then the next time you would be killed, you instead petrify into a statue of ultra-hard stone.
6 you'll mutate some stony and monstrous feature.

Friday, March 17, 2023

Toothpaste Brands That'd Make Good Fantasy Names

I was taking a bathroom break from an enriching conversation with friend of the blog Phlox yesterday when, mid-stream, something caught my eye: a tube of toothpaste - and on that toothpaste: the name "Pronamel". Pronamel. Pro-nam-el...

There was something there. Something fantastic. When I returned from the toilet to excitedly report this to Phlox, he was skeptical.

Inspiration's been taken from the names of stars before, from the literal translation of words, and from reversing the names of D&D monsters, but could it be done with the names of toothpaste brands? Let's find out.


I believe the origin of the brand's name is that it is "pro-enamel (the hard outer covering of the tooth)" - pro as in "favouring" or "supporting", and not as in "professional". Let's keep that. Let's keep it favoured.

Now for the -namel part... it can't simply be "enamel", or we've arrived back at the brand's name, and using that would step on some powerful dental industry toes. What it could be is Nam-El, nam from the Sumerian 𒉆, meaning "fate", and el from the Ugaritic 𐎛𐎍, meaning "god", or "lord". So we get "Favouring the God of Fate" - sounds like a theophoric name*.

Who favours the god of fate? Fate unchanging, unerring, inescapable, fate which finds Oedipus in the steps he takes to run from it. Perhaps some proto-Nietzchean, elated with his allotted path. Perhaps a seer content to be a Cassandra, getting more joy out of being able to say "I told you so" than in averting disaster. Perhaps someone who can roll with all of life's punches, if only he can see them coming. Maybe you'd take on the name as a propitiatory measure - "I hope in your foresight you decided to take it easy on me".


Col-gate... gate is obvious, but col?.. It could be a misspelling of kohl - an ancient Egyptian cosmetic made from grinding the mineral stibnite. Large deposits of stibnite are rare, so perhaps Kohl-gate is a city which controls the trade route to such a deposit, becoming filthy rich so long as kohl remains in fashion and so also patronizing and exporting portraits and poetry that portray kohl in a desirable light. The advertising-houses of Kohl-gate would be the first and finest in all the world, penning treatises on propaganda that would be read by rulers for centuries to come.

Perhaps Colgate is a mispronunciation by numb tongues - its true name is Coldgate. Is Coldgate an empire's passage through mountains to a vast tundra - a swamp where mosquitos swarm thick as tar in the summer, a coldly hateful wasteland in the winter, though always calling to fresh and foolish souls with its wealth of sable-fur and amber? Is it not a passage to a cold place, but rather the coldness of the gate itself that's the origin of its name? A cold gate, frost-rimed or itself carved from blue-grey ice, set in place to keep out things of hungry flame from the lands of men, as Dhu al-Qarnayn raised a wall of iron and copper against Ya'juj and Ma'juj.

Perhaps Colgate is truly neither the Kohl-Gate or the Cold-Gate. It could be a contraction of Cole-Gate. Cole is related to the German kohl (which is, as far as I know, unrelated to the Egyptian kohl) which is itself derived from the Latin caulis - meaning cabbage, or stem. Apparently the whole family of cabbage, kale, broccoli, and so on are called cole crops - or cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous, from the New Latin Cruciferae: "cross-bearing". Cole-gate could be an elaborate, Rosicrucian obfuscatory name for a Christian intentional community, honouring the cross-bearing Christ in an oblique way. The ancient Greeks believed that cabbage was detrimental to grapes, lending the fruit their bitter taste if grown too close together. Grapes, the sacred fruit of Dionysus - perhaps Cole-gate is declaring itself an Apollonian haven for reason. The largest cabbage ever grown was 138.25 pounds, presented at the 2012 Alaskan State Fair by Scott Robb (congratulations Scott!). Extrapolating this to a fantasy world, perhaps Cole-gate is a city built within the petals of a titanic cabbage.

Maybe it's even simpler than all of those explanations: some time ago there was a man named Cole who named a place Cole's Gate, and over time that name shrank down to Colgate.


First impression? Sounds like the name of a dragon. Let's break it down:

Paro - slang, French, meaning "crazy" popularized - maybe even invented - by the rapper Kerry James.
Don - Spanish title, high-ranking member of the Mafia, name derived from the Irish donn, meaning "chief" or "noble"
Tax - English, a compulsory contribution to state revenue, levied by the government on workers' income and business profits, or added to the cost of some goods, services, and transactions

This Parodontax is a dragon, spoon-billed and serpentine, with scales of white and pink that fade translucent at the edges. Her hoard is lakes of liquid metal - mercury, gallium, caesium, and rubidium, kept within their melting points by the heat of her deep geothermal lair. Parodontax's breath is flame of a similar colour to her scales, though even paler, and its touch brings clarity - helpful with just a whiff, but receiving it full-on is paralyzing, agonizing, every little mistake and regret magnified monstrously. She sends agents to poison aristocrats with the maddening poison of her hoard, then demands these victims come and pay homage and tribute to her to receive the temporary treatment of her flame. Lapses in this treatment can then be blamed on the mental consequences of noble inbreeding.

Or how about:

Par - English, meaning an equality in value or standing
Odon - Basque, meaning "after", and resembling Formless Oedon... and also udon noodles...
Tax - Latin onomatopoeia for the sounds of blows - comparable to "whack"

This Parodontax is also a dragon, built like an albatross, with a toothy beak and a wingspan to evoke primal terror. He was paid an outrageous, treasury-emptying sum to serve as a mercenary in a war between leagues of neighbouring city-states which by any rational measure absolutely did not need a dragon involved in it - only mutual hatred which grew over generations of inter-city feuds got Parodontax involved. Over the course of the war Paradontax gained a taste for being paid to fight, as well as a sort of respect for the human mercenaries he fought alongside. After the war, he absconded with these mercenaries, forming them into a new free company with him as their captain - the Fangs of Parodontax - and considering the boss is a dragon, the pay's pretty good.

But we can also go further:

Parod - Welsh, meaning "instant"
Ont - Suffix meaning "being"
Ax - An axe

This Parodontax is a magical axe, hammered forgeless from bronze heated to malleability by a stroke of lightning. Its head bears a tassel from the tail of a mare who mothered a line of horses fit for kings, and its handle must always be made of yew-wood - and it must be remade often, for it is the part of Parodontax not blessed with magical resilience. Parodontax's power is that any singular endeavour with it may be resolved in an instant - chopping down a tree, cutting down a foe - but within that instant its wielder suffers any exhaustion and injuries they would have had it resolved normally.


Reminds me of the circuadont... likely an animal species. Sozo apparently means "saved, made whole, restored, healed, delivered, preserved" in Greek. So - a sozodont could be a "saviour tooth", or something along those lines.

The first sozodonts evolved in the middle era of the Age of Mounds, when the moral ecology of that time was really starting to get creative in its perversity. They were rodent-like in dentition, yet entelodont-ish in size. Sozodonts could smell infirmity and senility, and sought out creatures suffering from these conditions to bite off their heads with incisors that slid like guillotine-blades. These heads would be preserved and rejuvenated in the anagathic baths of the sozodont's stomach - an act rewarded with calories by some distant decree of the Authority, but little appreciated by the heads who could only enjoy their newfound lucidity and health in the dark and dank confines of the beast's belly.

Only a single species of sozodont survived the mass extinction that followed the transition of moral ecology to regular ecology - a species with an underdeveloped digestive tract that could hardly continue its way of life as a conventional predator. And so it adapted. Slowly and painfully, it adapted.

The modern sozodont little resembles its ancestor - it's a bit bigger than a squirrel, with hand-like paws and teeth like needles. Its lifestyle is somewhat like a cleaner wrasse's: the sozodont will seek out wounded animals, or wounded animals will seek it out, following distinctive and short-lived scent-marks (would be bad for business if predators learned a spot was popular with wounded prey), and nibble away the dead flesh around wounds before sewing them shut with its teeth and sticky saliva. Its patient will then reward the sozodont with a gift of pre-digested vomit.

Sozodonts have been wiped out in human lands due to over-hunting for their saliva and the life-extending traces of their ancestors' fluids in their guts.


A genus of moth, also called Declana, and according to Google Translate a Cebuano word meaning "use for shooting". Use for shooting...

The ipana is a creature much like a moth, or a butterfly, but it is neither. While some moth caterpillars are amphibious or even fully aquatic, only the ipana is as an adult able to swim as well as it flies. Several adaptions contribute to this: the semi-flexible membranes of its wings are able to switch from flapping to paddling in a rippling motion, its scales have an oily, hydrophobic texture that prevent it from being caught by water's surface tension, and cut down on drag, and they are able to breath underwater without gills through their pores so long as they remain in motion, or lie still in moving water.

Ipanas are native to the land of Pibaw, where zaratans come ashore to lek and make their nests, bringing tsunamis in their wake and liquefying the soil with their thunderous footsteps. Beavers teem in Pibaw, having grown cunning in their use of the zaratan-floods. They share a strange symbiosis with the ipanas.

The beavers harvest the scales of the tinderwing ipana, which when dried and powdered make a fine incendiary, and pack the hollowed logs of ironwood trees with the stuff, and also with rocks, teeth, and metal scrap. With these cannons they defend their dam-villages.

The decadent underwater court of the beaver-king has long enjoyed indulging in the bite of the stinging ipana. In the wild, the caterpillar of the stinging ipana consumes poisonous plants, concentrating their poisons in its tissues as it does. When it metamorphoses into an adult, it becomes able to inject these poisons through its proboscis, which it will do to defend its fellows - the stinging ipana is the most sociable of its kind. If instead the caterpillar is fed on more pleasant plants - poppies, for instance - then it concentrates their substances instead, and the adult ipana becomes a living drug syringe.

Perhaps the beavers' most wonderful use of ipanas is with the window ipanas - so named because they are able to change their colours to mimic whatever it is they rest on, seemingly becoming transparent. The beaver art of [Combination of Hooting and Tooth-Clacking] involves placing a number of window ipanas within a device like a mirrored camera obscura. This device is then used to project an observed image for the contained window ipanas to copy, before they're all plunged into darkness (the creatures will not change their colours in darkness) and quickly pinned in place. If all goes well, the ipanas will have created a true-to-life copy of whatever scene the artist wanted to capture. These ipana-images have exploded in popularity in lands both around Pibaw and much further down trade routes.


"The springs" in Norwegian, according to Google Translate. Google Translate has a translation for everything. Kjadak - it thinks this means "just' in Malay - Malaysians, pop off in the comments if this is bullshit.

Sprinjene... Spring Jean... Jean of the springs... Jean of Spring...

It's got a fey sound to it. Let's not lock it in just yet though.

Sprin (according to wikitionary) is an Indonesian acronym, representing surat perintah - a warrant, a writ, literally a compound of "document" and "order".

Jene is Friulian for Hyena. In German and Upper Sorbian, it's "one" or "that one". Stick a little accent aigu on the second e and you've got jené - Javanese for yellow, in adjective and noun forms.

Okay, I should have locked it in. Brain's flapping like a flag in a breeze.

You remember these things? "Salt cellars", or "cootie catchers" - fold the paper right, and it's got faces hidden within faces. Bureaucracy has its own realities, worlds of conflicting reports. Everyone's brown-nosing the people above them and shitting on the people beneath.

There once was an empire made of paper. Its power was in its maps, its accounts, its investigations, its forms and rules. This empire didn't conquer so much as it absorbed, slowly and surely, people flocking to its predictability over the whims of their own warlords. Unfortunately for the empire and its people, it grew within as much as it grew without - mounting complexities (an increasing sum self-made), administrations, budgets for the administration and those who could navigate through it.

This top-weighting overhead was finally tipped over by what would normally be a minor, local case - a naiad named Sprinjene. Procedure should've been to set up a shrine, assess her output of blessed water or whatever else, and move on. Problem after problem piled up. Sprinjene's spring was an intersection of various land claims. The Hierodules' Guild and the Order of Celestial Waters and the Azure Circle all butted heads over who'd manage Sprinjene. From this one stress point fractures were made, and existing fractures were made apparent. The empire shredded itself apart.

As the epicenter of this collapse, Sprinjene was crushed under the contradictions. Who she was, what she was, all this was lost in the shuffle of papers. On some days she is an eater of drowned corpses. For some she's a healer, others a prophet of floods or drought. Sometimes she dredges up the empire's ghosts from dried riverbeds. Underneath all these artificial yet ineluctable identities, Sprinjene's a naiad who's sick and tired and just wants to be left alone.


This one's obvious - the zen metal.

Zendium is a metal that exists entirely within the present, with no past, and no future. Wounds dealt by zendium-forged weapons disappear practically as soon as they leave a body, making it a favourite of surgeons and torturers. Zendium never tarnishes - not because it physically can't, but because tarnishing is a process which occurs over time.

It's said that a master's blade becomes an extension of their body. Zendium weapons are a shortcut to this level. Their wielder's mind merges into the metal, granting them a kinesthetic awareness of it, even prehensile control over flexible weapons - a zendium urumi is unrivaled on the battlefield. However, should you die with zendium in your hand, your mind will be trapped within it.

A zendium-backed mirror reflects the true nature of things. Few can bear to look into one.

Zendium ore is in everything, non-local, unformed - to forge it is something like blasphemy.

All of these things might be true about zendium, or none of them might be. If you ask a zendium-smith, they'll probably just slap you instead of giving a straight answer.

This is what the machine spat out when I gave it the prompt: "the Garfield pipe strip but Garfield has stolen Jon's toothpaste instead of his pipe". Far inferior to my version of course, but Arerielda Pope is a pretty good name. Another good one is Brixton Braxton - that one came to me in a dream.

* Special thanks to the ever-brilliant Ènziramire for reminding me of this word - without his reminder this post would likely have burned up in the flame of frustration.

Thursday, March 16, 2023

Indispensable Tools for the Modern Practicing Occultist; Or: Loot Which One Can Use To Stock A Wizard Or Wizardly-Type's Laboratory & Domicile


1. Vortex Prognosticator - A device like a many-tiered funnel, with a tube and vacuole leading off from each tier. Each vacuole is numbered (sometimes with a strange number of para-mathematics) and represents a layer of the Abyss. Given that the layers of the Abyss are by most accounts infinite, or at least so very many that it would be impossible to represent them all on a reasonably-sized prognosticator, the makers of these devices choose a selection based on which layer might make for the most useful and comprehensible omens, and on which demon-lords they'd least like to offend.

To work the prognosticator, you pour a jug of blood (human is ideal) and a lead ball into the thing, and make a note of which vacuole the ball ends up in, which layer of the Abyss it corresponds to. You then cross-reference this with a book of the layers of the Abyss and their associations - for example, the 66th, the Demonweb Pits, is associated with poison and treachery (among other things), and interpret the result as an omen from there. If the vortex prognosticator is well-made, it will have a pool at the bottom full of leeches who will glut on the blood, and must be sacrificed afterwards as a propitiatory offering.

A vortex prognosticator is best used for predicting disasters and other such misfortunes, and like all divinatory devices several should be consulted in tandem for increased accuracy.

2. Xorvinthaal Board - Xorvintaal is a board game somewhere between chess, ouija, and tarot. At the outset of a game, players pick their pieces from a selection based on archetypal roles and personified concepts (Night, Dream, the Holy Fool, the Veiled Lady), and open their minds to the influence of greater forces and powers. How the game plays out should, in theory, depict in cryptic terms how these forces and powers desire for the future to turn out. Which pieces you play with should, in theory, help reveal more than these forces and powers intended to about their plans and foreknowledge. There is of course the risk that these reveals are in fact simply moves in a greater plan which the diviner is being manipulated for.

3. Phototypic Telescope - Fate is written in the stars, it's said, and if regular astrology is carefully and critically attempting to discern the authour's intent and techniques, then use of a phototypic telescope is closer to grabbing him by his tweedy authour collar and shaking him until he spills the beans. The catch? It's very expensive.

You need the optics for the telescope, finely-wrought enough to focus on a single star, and then you need a plate, exactingly manufactured from an alloy-balance aligned to that same star. You've got to keep the plate in total darkness until the moment of its use, when you zoom in on the star and let its light, and its light alone, project onto the plate, where it will create a single still image of the future encoded in the star, from a distance into the future based on how long the plate as exposed. Every star has its own thread of the future, and knowing which has what is its own trick.

4. The Ten Thousand Proclamations of the Prophet Sutandis - As the name suggests: a (very long) book of prophecies by Sutandis - who is held to be a true prophet because how else could a street urchin have acquired such a poetic fluency in draconic? The Proclamations are rarely the first thing a diviner will consult, but forewords to the book tend to be filled with various formulae for converting various letters, symbols, and phrases into mathematical equations, which can then be solved to arrive at one of its 10,000 prophecies - which can help to get a stumped diviner going again, and open up new possible interpretations.

For a bunch of randomly generated prophecies, try here.

5. Darkling Needle - Divination's best when it's one-sided. If I'm trying to predict the future, and then you're trying to predict that same future, then I'll have to predict you predicting me, and you'll have to predict me predicting you predicting me predicting you predicting me predicting you, and then suddenly we'll have all gone cross-eyed.

A darkling needle's a tool meant to keep that from happening. It keeps a future exclusive - with a catch. Take a needle forged from dark iron, steep it in the black blood of a chthonic beast that's never seen sunlight, wrap it in the write-up of a future you've foreseen, then prick your brain with it. Don't worry, this last part won't kill you, won't even really hurt you, just kill the part in your head that remembers that future. Thereafter, so long as the needle remains intact, anyone who tries to see that future will have their eyes jabbed. Anyone who tried to write it down will have their paper drowned in ink. The same will happen to any external records you try to keep of that future too however.

The key to good use of darkling needles is to use them "around" the future you want to protect, like roadblocks that'll scare off any potential competitors, while leaving your one way clear to you.

6. Oracle Bones - From a genuine oracle, and preferably the orbital bones. Roll them and look at how they fall, how they cluster, where they point - that could be the spirit of the oracle trying to tell you something. Or it could be that spirit fucking with you, if you weren't on good terms with it in life or you've been calling on it too frequently.

Free Space. Crystal Ball - Can't beat the classics. Might instead be a shew-stone, or a deep pool of crystal-clear water.


1. Spiced Rum - The tastebuds of the dead might be numbed and rotten, but they hunger still for fleshly pleasures. Therefore a drink strong in alcohol and flavour makes a good bribe for many among their number.

2. Evening Glories - Pale violet flowers, said to have grown from the tears of a goddess of unfading love. In the presence of a corpse they will preserve it by withering in its stead. Dried and crushed, the evening glory's petals are useful for sterilization and mummification of the dead.

3. Bag of Bone Dust - Working with negative energy's a bit like working with high-voltage electricity - it helps to have some grounding, so that it doesn't slip into your guts and rot them from the inside-out. Dead stuff tends to hold negative energy better than living stuff, and bone dust is pretty hard to use for anything else, so it finds its use for that.

4. Sharpened Shovel - Good for digging up bodies and dismembering bodies that stay up when they're not supposed to.

5. Evergrowing Trichobezoar - A congealed lump of hair pulled from the stomach of a troll or other such beast that's overflowing with life. It provides a convenient bit of positive energy to balance out the negative that builds up from necromantic workings. Must be trimmed regularly to prevent it from slithering off.

6. Nosegay - Dead bodies can smell pretty bad. It's nice to have a package of fragrant flowers and herbs to hold up to your face to block that out.


1. Stomapyli Relic - The Church of the Divinity of Mankind teaches that the body of the cosmos and the human body are reflections of one another - the cosmic body is the primordial giant Annam, and the ideal model of the human body was the god-king Zarus. This teaching is one explanation for the existence of the unfortunate souls known as stomapyli - people who possess a gate to another plane in their body.

A legend of the Beolo people tells of their conflict with the city of a queen who bore the curse-weapon of "tears of dissolution", and could weep oceans of acid against their army. Scholars of the Church of Wonders interpret this as referring to a stomapyli with a connection to the para-elemental plane of ooze in her tear duct.

In Conquering Marlo there was a stomapyli with a gate to Limbo in his rear, who lived his life upon a garderobe expelling all manner of grotesqueries.

A play banned in many of the tyrannies of Quelm is about a famed masseuse and stomapyli with a gate to hell hidden in her throat. She assesses the virtues of her clients, and if they disappoint her swallows them up into damnation.

Preserved, a relic from a stomapyli has little of the power it held in life, but any tether's a handy one when dealing with crossing the gulf between planes.

2. Full-Spectrum Mask - Beings of the outer planes don't always appreciate being called down to the prime material and bound to do their summoner's bidding. To cut down on the odds of a vengeful spirit tracking them down, conjurers tend to wear masks - masks which must be masterfully crafted, for it's not just human sight they have to block but all the subtle senses of outsiders.

3. Imp in a Bottle - Often an imp, and often in a bottle, though any lesser creature of the lower planes and sufficiently-warded container will do. The creature is bound then cajoled and coerced into revealing the true names and other pertinent information of their superiors to work up to greater summonings.

4. Silver-Edged Dagger - Many things which a conjurer can call down shrug off ordinary weapons. Some silver gives a blade the bite to harm them.

5. Communion Bed - Really more of a padded table loaded with straps. Used to hold a conjurer who intends to commune with other planes down, so that they don't injure themselves in the case that they're possessed or overawed by some transcendent entity.

6. Adamantine Lodestone - Invincible adamant is said to be the primest material of the prime material, so even just a sliver of the invaluable stuff is useful as a reference point and anchor for the summoner's home plane, whether trying to return or bring an outsider in.


1. Brass Head - A simple golem, not capable of much more than biting and jabbering. Used to practice the imbuement and binding of animating elementals.

2. Asbestos Blanket - For smothering of and protection from fires. Not good for your health, but then neither is being on fire.

3. Tafula Shard - A broken piece of a crystal "tree" from a mismera, charged with lightning. A potent store of power to draw on, but it must be handled with exceptional care.

4. Dead Pigs - A relatively cheap way of approximating the effect of an offensive spell on a human body. Can also eat them afterwards, if you don't mind your meat charred.

5. Wizard's Hat With Inbuilt Helmet - Very little can cut an evoker's career short like a traumatic brain injury caused by shrapnel or falling debris. As one rare nod to safety, there's often a helmet of padded cloth and metal built into their flamboyant hats.

6. Scar Ointment: Jars of stuff that can be spread on scars to improve their flexibility and strength, and reduce pain and discomfort.


1. 4-D Prism - A piece of glass that exists in higher dimensions. Used for refracting light into illicit spectra, and peeking beneath the surface of things both real and illusory. Tricky to handle, easy to get cut on edges you couldn't possibly see.

2. Triptych Mirror - For checking one's work. Each face of the three-part mirror is back by either copper, silver, or gold - which will each reveal a different sort of flaw in an illusion not made either painstakingly or by the hand of a virtuoso of the art.

3. Portrait Mimic - Mostly tamed. Can be fed paintings to gain a sort of algorithmic ability to imitate their subject matter, and be used as a reference. Responds to verbal commands, but not always in straightforwardly sensible ways.

4. Dog Treats - Animals can often see through illusions where humans are fooled. It's good to have other means on hand to distract them.

5. Sticky Pigment - If you can become invisible, others can become invisible. Best be prepared for them.

6. Sensory Deprivation Helm - To learn how to fool others, a good step is learning how you fool yourself. Cut off from sight and sound, your brain invents stimuli for itself, sometimes full-blown hallucinating.


1. Mercury Bath - Mercury is the metal of flux - many transmutations flow from it. It's also a horrendous toxin - transmuters are a strange bunch, whether from mercury poisoning or the modifications they've made to their bodies and brains to work with the stuff.

2. Hides - It's a lot easier to shift into something's shape if you've got its skin as a basis. Hopefully these all belong to mere animals.

3. Primordioid - A lump of undifferentiated living substance, supposedly the clay of life itself. Malleable but unstable, quick to reshape but equally quick to return to its undifferentiated form. Used to add mass to short-lived metamorphoses and homunculi.

4. Memento - Something uniquely yours, one last chance to remind you of yourself if you become lost in another form.

5. Gold-like Slag - Just about every transmuter's tried turning lead into gold, and so far all of them have failed. Some keep the results around hoping to sell them to a dumb jeweler, some as a shameful reminder, some as a joke, and others for another reason entirely.

6. Moonshine Still - Studying natural transformations is a necessary prerequisite for performing magical transformations. Plus, you get an end result you can get shitfaced on - leave sobriety and refinement of the spirit to the alchemists.


1. Seabird-Down Pillow - Protects you from nightmares if you sleep with it. Has to be slept on by a sailor on at least a seven week voyage beforehand, and never washed after. Don't ask why it works, it just does.

2. Apotropaic Eye - Invisible, malign forces are slower to act if they think someone can see them - at least that's the current popular theory behind how these things function.

3. Peach Branch Broom - Made from green, flexible cuttings. Spaces and objects are beaten with it to drive off impure influences that might contaminate a longer-term abjuration.

4. Bead-Laden Concentric Puzzle Boxes - Sturdy, carved with sealing sigils, each box must be rotated to access the next, and rotating a box spills numerous beads within it. Such boxes are made for the containment of the surprisingly common monsters obsessed with counting things spilled before them.

5. Divine Dog Statuette - If anointed with sacred oil and offered rice cakes, it will scare off beasts and idiots by growling in their minds. Advanced abjurative workings can animate them to fight in your defense.

6. Iron-Rich Paint - Lots of baddies are repelled by iron, perhaps thanks to humanity's pact with the archdevil Mephistopheles Manfriend. Keeping a vat of the stuff in a conveniently-applied form around makes it easy to slap down wards and glyphs.


1. Perfumes - The olfactory bulb is directly connected to the amygdala and hippocampus. With the right scent an enchanter can break past a target's defenses and grab them by the root of their soul.

2. Honeyed Poison - "Drink this" is an easier sell than "jump off that building" or "fall on your sword".

3. Cavitous Effigy - A model of a specific person, enhanced by hair, blood samples, articles of clothing, and any other sympathetic materials the enchanted can get their hands on. The model has openings in its head, heart, gut, and groin - potentially elsewhere, but those are the most common - and enchantments to be worked on the person it's modeled after are placed in these openings to focus the enchantment on a particular aspect of that person. For example, enchantments that will focus on memory will be placed in the head, while those focused on libido will go in the groin.

4. Veil - Like a conjuror and their conjurings, it's usually best if those you enchant can't remember your face.

5. Mesmer Candle - Made from the tallow of pixies, as well as certain mushrooms. The smoke of such a candle is psychedelic, and its flame dances in a hypnotic rhythm.

6. Cage - Isolation, captivity, deprivation - all these can help with breaking someone's mind down so you can build it back up. There's nothing nice about enchantment. Even a simple Charm Person is reaching inside someone and violating them more intimately than a knife ever could.