Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Friday, January 26, 2024

Dreams in the Witching Hour

Can't sleep, so I will finish some drafts:

Groups of Animals

(Fluff in the vein of "making mundane animals more magical")

A Murder of Crows: The king of all crows is dead, struck down by celestial fire. Before that a group of crows was called a "spy". Now there is no one for them to report back to.

They see much all the same, much that others would probably prefer they didn't. They congregate around the dead, the dying, and those that seem likely to die soon. They witness many murders. Should a murder strike the right mix of passions (often religiously-involved) as to spark the moral indignation of a Murder, they will hound the murderer and draw attention to the murdered. The behaviour of crows is still not altogether trusted in a criminal trial, however, as similar behaviour can be approximated by plying crows with the right treats.

A Cauldron of Bats: Pigeons were once domesticated. They're feral now, but they were once prized pets. That's why they're so iridescently pretty, so companionably docile.

Similar story for bats. Less the companionable part, mind you, don't go out and grab one. Colonies of bats will share their food through regurgitation, more successful hunters feeding the less - tonight me, tomorrow you. This behaviour's derived, from bats' original programming of regurgitating into cauldrons and alembics and other such vessels, all the reagents and suchlike they were loosed to sup up by their masters, congealing in the pot into potent brews. Few now remember the ultrasonic whistles to command them.

A Tower of Giraffes: The demiurge is not of this world, or in it. Heaven is not its home, only the abode of its archons, and heaven was not empty when they claimed it. Many insufficiently pleasing things were cast out when they did. Giraffes were one of them.

Giraffes were not always so tall. Their height is the result of deliberate selection over many thousands of generations, selection meant to bring them closer to their old habitat. When a community of giraffes believes they have reached a suitable threshold, they will stack themselves up, creating a ladder into the triple airs. Climbing these ladders is how many terrestrial creatures have ended up on sky-islands, or in the conceptual reifs of the Upper Air.

A Consortium of Crabs: There's more than just the Italian mob - the mafia. There's the Irish mob, the Jewish mob, even the Moroccan mob. That similar though independent evolution is the human version of carcinization: convergence on a crab-like form. You see, all crabs are criminals, and every harbour pays their protection racket. Nice hull there, would be a shame if someone were to drill a hole in it - this sort of thing. The crabs don't say this, explicitly, crabs can't talk, but the implication is there, and so they get their slice of chum and cropshen.

A Quiver of Cobras: Cobras are not a natural species. Look at those hoods - how could they be? No, cobras were one of the first products of the flesh-forges of the serpentmen, a prototypical living weapon. Hiss in the right frequency near a cobra and it'll straighten and freeze right up, ready to be fired at your enemies. While frozen they enter a state of torpor, allowing a number of them to be stacked up and stored for long periods of time while still primed to slither and bite on impact.

A Knot of Toads: It was from the lowly toad that wise-folk first learned their magic of knotwork. Ever wonder how it rains toads? They catch storms in their tied tongues, like sailors came to know how to do, and let the captured tempest carry them across the heavens. Many die, but then so do their spawn in attempting to reach maturation, and for the living greener pastures are reached.  Witches and hags encode messages to each other in the knotting of toad-tongues, muttering ciphers into their mouths.

A Chowder of Cats: Cats are talented chefs, but not natural ones. They learned it from us. It was our part of the bargain for their domestication. They'll protect our homes from pests and ghosts, but you've got to show them how you cook the mice they bring to you. That was the deal, remember?

Alley-cats gather in the night around tossed-out pots set on trash-fires, stirring scavenged stews. The mollies and tomcats will match up according to who can match whose taste.

A Wealth of Martens: Martens, their fur, represent wealth. Martens, the animals themselves, are wealthy. They are quick and clever critters, and on an even field make for a tremendously difficult catch for hunters, so much so that if the field really were even, then marten fur would make up a much smaller fraction of the fur trade than it currently does. Good for the fur-traders and the wealthy martens then, that there is no even field. Marten society is ruled by something like a cartel, which gives up their criminals and other undesirables to human hunters in return for bribes. This is most often done in a deniable fashion, hamstringing the unfortunates and leaving them along a trapped trail.

An Audience of Squid: Compare the cephalopods to their wretched cousins among the molluscs: their dexterity, digitation, acuity, ingenuity are leagues beyond. This distinction is the result of a negotiation, not in a metaphorical, evolutionary manner between populations and their environments, but quite literally, between the molluscs who would become cephalopods and a thing from the darkness beyond all stars. In return for their many advantages, the cephalopods agreed to watch. To bear witness. To be windows which could be opened, and reached through.

A Shrewdness of Apes: A name derived from the fact that groups of apes are typically shrewd enough to avoid humans.
Tenuously related but I made this and think it's funny:

Goblin Dogs

Concept courtesy of friend of the blog deus ex parabola over at Numbers Aren't Real:


1. Chewdogs: These are capybaras whose natural loving-kindness has been broken by witnessing goblin obscenities into an apathetic numbness. They'll let goblins ride on their backs, will begrudgingly go approximately where the goblins want to go, and gnaw open holes in palisades, but they won't like doing any of it. They want most of all to be free, to sit beneath waterfalls and laze with friends.

2. Real Mans: A possible fate of human captives. Warped by torturous surgeries into toothsome mockeries that go about on all fours. Living jokes or inscrutable philosophical point. It's a real handful to get them back to normal.

3. Thisdogs: Actually large cats, maddened with meals of fish fermented according to goblin recipes. Sent about tethered to a scratchpole, a goblin masochist who volunteers to be their recreation. Many clamorous objects are affixed to the ends of their tails to further agitate.

4. Roosterooster: Two roosters, fed horrid goblin-corn to swell them up to a nasty size, then tied back-to-back and having razors nailed to their talons. Even more violently insane than two roosters tied back-to-back would normally be, becoming a feathered cyclone of death.

5. Hognobs: Feral hogs they caught and forcefed moonshine to work them into a drunken frenzy.

6. Snoozedogs: Thankfully the least-commonly encountered sort of goblin dog. Of course not a dog at all, but a sleepwalking bear who was found in hibernation by goblins, and had gobliny things whispered in its ears until its dreams became gobliny too.

7. Muddogs: Lobe-walking fish dragged up from bed-muck and sneezed on by a crowd of goblins until the accumulation of mucus lets them somewhat breath in air and infects them with gobliny rapacity.

8. Cheesedogs: Accursed cattle, their heads bowed under a profusion of horns, their beefsome flanks shriveled to gauntness, and their udders filled with sour acid that is squeeze-launched out so that they serve as an awful artillery platform.

9. Diggydogs: Badgers driven into a mindless rage by noxious fumes and lobotomizations. Can be pointed at people to rip them up, or at the ground to dig out warrens and sapper-tunnels.

10. Scurrydogs: Sadistic giant geckos. Not altered by goblins at all - they're just like that. Use the van der Waals force of their clingy feet to tear people's skins off whole, then laugh an awful lizard laugh about it. Sometimes lashed to spiky circular chariots - like wrecking balls that just as often wreck themselves - for vehicles that can clamber up sheer inclines.

11. Yackdogs: Big bats, too big to fly except in short flapping hops. Bellies full of blood and bile, throw these up on you, if they get in your eyes or mouth or wounds you will contract several very bad, very nasty diseases.

12.Quadpole: Four very oversized tadpoles making out with/eating each other and sort of fused together at the mouth. Flop around a lot. Of no tactical value whatsoever... but they make a statement.
Urban Haruspexy

(This idea came to me in a dream - not just the name, the whole concept. It's rare that dream-ideas are any good, or remembered fully. Some other ideas from the same dream, or perhaps nightly dream-cluster: gathering many amulets to resist the magic of a dark wizard, only to trip and have all the amulets tangle together into an unwearable mass; a car that sprouts legs from the sides of its wheels to climb up walls)

Night and day, winter and summer, these are empty markers now. It is a time for vultures, a feast for worms.

The construction never stops. Traffic congeals for kilometers around in every direction. The construction isn't the point. Beneath the concrete and asphalt scraped away lies the city's nutrient- and information-dense viscera.
The city used to have a name, a real name that meant a real thing - it was Hogtown, and the hogs came into the city, and hungry people were fed. The hogs don't come into the city anymore, only the tracks they rode in on remain of them, and lots of people are hungry.

Meat's a thing you can see and hold. Back when people worked with that sort of thing, lived in that sort of world, they could cut a pig open and tell you about the world from its guts. The world's changed since, dissolved and sublimated and sublated. People work with numbers, and numbers derived from numbers. The old sayings don't soothe anymore.
And so the city's cut open, because the city's as abstract as the numbers and new futures are. The workmen peek at what they've eviscerated, glean a scratch-off or two, but the policemen chase them off before they can suck the juiciest marrow.

People come in suits after that - men and women now - WASPs, Italians, Jews, and Chinese and Indians now. This is their feast, and they are lords of this land of rot. The city is their dung-heap.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024

GLOG Grimoire: Swearing-Book of the Opaline Order

Here's another grimoire for the grimoire bandwagon. Previously:

Caster Beware!

The Short-Lived Book

Some Spells, Mostly Summons

A GLOG Grimoire

Grimoire, And Custom Fireballs

Grimoire Bandwagon + Mage Organ-Spells

Grimoire of Grimoires


Once the terror of their enemies and the jewel of their lords and less-cynical songsters, the wizard-knights of the Opaline Order fell victim over generations to their own exacting honour. Spellbound to never flee from battle, never cheat or lie, and to obey their master in all things, the Opaline Order was winnowed and withered by the vagaries of this tarnished world until it was completely and finally broken by one of its own, the arch-warlock Oathbreaker Engrand.

The Order is survived by its swearing-book, a thick tome recording its members, rituals, history, and the spells which they took particular pride in. Its iron-bound cover will not open unless a bloodied thumb is pressed to an indent in its corner and the Order's secret declaration of allegiance is recited. The spells it contains are:

1. Gustatory Geas
R: 30' T: Intelligent creature D: See below
Place a magical command on a creature to fulfill some quest. The quest cannot result in certain death, and must be within the creature's ability to understand and complete. While the creature is under the geas, when they try to eat they must state a significant step they've taken towards completing the geas or they will find themself unable to eat or keep any food down. If the quest becomes impossible the geas is lifted - however if it becomes impossible due to the geased creature's own actions, they are cursed to starve to death. At 1 [dice] the geas lasts [sum] hours. At 2 [dice] it lasts [sum] days, and at 3 [dice] it lasts [sum] weeks. At 4 [dice] the geas is permanent.

2. Solar Mantle
R: N/A T: Self D: Up to [sum] rounds
Shine as bright as the sun (though without the heat). This has all the effects of actual sunlight, such as burning vampires. At 1 [dice] the caster takes 1d6 damage per round the spell's active. At 2 [dice] this decreases to 1d3 damage per round, at 3 [dice] it's 1 damage per round, and at 4 [dice] it's none.

3. Milk Glass Manifestation
R: 30'  T: Spot on the ground big enough to hold the shape D: [dice]x[dice] hours
Create a solid shape made of milk glass up to [sum] feet across at its widest point. When the duration's up the construction crumbles to nothing.

4. Become Javelin
R: Touch T: Creature or self D: [sum] rounds
Target is transformed into up to [dice] javelins. Unwilling targets get a save to resist. They can change back at will, becoming any of the javelins - and if the spell is still ongoing, they can teleport to any javelins left in subsequent rounds, poofing the javelin they teleport to out of existence in the process. If a javelin is broken, the creature is forced to change back from or teleport to it, and is stunned for a round.

5. Sorcerous Shodding
R: Touch T: Mount D: [sum] minutes
This spell requires a material component: a set of horseshoes made of any material of your choosing, affixed to the target of the spell. While the spell lasts, the target may move across the same material as their horseshoes as though it was flat, solid ground. The spell grants no special ability to make horseshoes out of, for example, air - that will require other methods. At 1 [dice] the target must be a horse. At 2 [dice] the target must be some horse-like creature, such as a zebra or a camel. At 3 [dice] the target may be any quadruped that can be fitted with a saddle and bridle. At 4 [dice] the target may be any creature carrying another creature on its back.

6. Gatewinch Glammer
R: 30' T: Object D: [sum] minutes
Creates a winch attached by occult mechanisms to an object within range. Turning the winch moves the object in a single predefined direction (up, down, left, right, etc.), however the winch must be turned with a cumulative strength proportional to the amount required to move it normally - this amount of required strength is reduced by the spell's [sum], and [dice] creatures may work together to turn the winch at one time. E.g., if a boulder would require 40 strength to lift normally, and the spell is cast with 3 MD with a [sum] of 10, the winch would require 30 cumulative strength from up to 3 creatures working together to move the boulder.

Tuesday, January 16, 2024

20 Tattoos Indicating The Guy You're Talking To Is A Were-Creature

A belated Christmas gift for my dear computer friend deus ex parabola:

1. Werestag
(collab. between deus ex parabola & Phlox, inception of this'n here post)

2. Werefish

3. Weredog


5. Wereboar

6. Werewolf

7. Werehorse

8. Werellama

9. Werefrog

10. Werecat

11. Werepossum

12. Weregoat

13. Werefox

14. Wereaxolotl

15. Werepanda

16. Werealligator

17. Werecamel

18. Weredog, again

19. Weremantis

20. Weremoth