Friday, February 23, 2024

A Generator for New Words, Or: Automatically Grafting Prefixes and Suffixes Garned from Wikitionary

Special thanks to friend of the blog Rook for coming up with this idea. Caution: some words generated may already exist.

If you'd like to do some combinatorialization of your own, click the links below:

To generate a word here, click the button below:

Special thanks to Spwack for making the generator generator used for this post:

Thursday, February 15, 2024

An Adventure of Edmund the great

Friend of the blog Phlox drew this adorable hedgehog wizard:

& from it I was inspired to draw one of Edmund's no doubt plethorous adventures:

I hope that in time more of Edmund the great's adventures will be recorded.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

D20 Reasons Why Werewolves, Devils, Wights, And So On Are Vulnerable To Silver

1. Silver is the metal of the moon, a mistress who brooks no beastly stain on the lullabilic rapture of her night.

2. Undeath, devilry, and were-beasts are all fundamentally expressions of sickness, whether biological or spiritual. The prophylaxis of silver counters them at the root.

3. The undead, demonic, and were-beasts all share an infernal origin - the sulphurous components of their body oxidize rapidly in contact with silver, burning them from within.

4. A silver blade was used by the Great Hero to dismember the Primordial Beast and thereby create the material world. Silver weapons gain mytho-potency by this archetypal remembrance.

5. The demon Beleth was betrayed by its fellows and imprisoned in silver - all silver. Its rage slips through the gaps in its prison enough to especially harm its betrayers and their corrupted creations.

6. Silver resonates with the silver cords that bind spirits to bodies. On ordinary living things it does no more damage than steel, but with beings that are driven by the spirit more than the body it's anathema.

7. The magic which sustains these creatures responds to will structured by belief - the collective superstition that silver must harm them means that it does.

8. The powers of the underworld once made pacts with all the precious metals, but broke theirs with silver in favour of gold - thereby making gold the more precious of the two, and silver still seeks its recompense in blood for this slight.

9. Silver is a relic which remembers an older age of humanity - appropriately, our silver age. This lingering remembrance of glory grants even those in this fallen, iron age the strength to fight the monsters of the night.

10. Silver's close association with coinage imbues it with the energy of civilization - inimical to the devourers of mankind.

11. Silver is the backing of mirrors - mirrors which reflect images, such as images of humanity which in turn are the image of God - those who betray this derived image, through undeath, therianthropy, or demoniac corruption, are destined to be destroyed by it.

12. Some quirk of their biology (or abiology, as the case may be) causes them to suffer rapid and sometimes-fatal argyria on contact with silver.

13. Silver, like dogwood, has been cursed since its involvement in the death of Jesus - for being built into the cross for the latter, and for the thirty pieces paid to Judas for the former. When cursed silver is wielded against evil it creates an effect like multiplying a negative number by another negative number - Satan's house is divided against itself and turned inside-out.

14. Silver is the frozen shadow of mercury - quicksilver - which is the substance of change and mortality. Those things which cling to existence, through immortality or regeneration, are especially torn down by it. Mercury itself would be even more effective, but it's more difficult to weaponize.

15. The cymatic properties of silver cancel out their negative frequencies. All reality's an epiphenomenon of cosmic music, a superstring orchestra.

16. There once was an order of paladins that struck against the heart of hell itself. That order was lost, but the mortal terror of them remains in the soul of evil everywhere - and their heraldry bore an argent tincture.

17. Silver is the highest metal of the sub-lunary sphere, and the ruling archons have empowered it to strike down those who work against their law.

18. Photography really can steal your soul - if your soul's too malleable or detached from your body. Silver, as a foundational material of photography, carries this property by association.

19. The metallic structure of silver coincidentally forms occult symbols which are harmful to the forces of evil.

20. Silver is rooted in the collective unconscious, and reacts violently against the fearsome creatures of the night.

Monday, February 12, 2024

Eerie Knightly Orders - GLOG Δ Templates

Inspired by this:

By James Zapata

Order of the Errant Culver

Officially charged with retrieving the emperor's homing pigeons, and the letters affixed to them. This is a de facto excuse to trespass and spy on his vassals. Interference with your duty is to be seen as treason against the emperor.

Initiate: Be blindfolded and dropped into the wilderness without supplies. Find your way back to the Order.

You automatically succeed at attempts to balance and/or perch on precarious surfaces and objects.

Brother/Sister: Retrieve or deliver a message which no pigeon could, at considerable risk to yourself.

Slit someone or something's throat. Thereafter you can imitate their voice by running the blade that slew them up and down your neck.

Commander: Unveil a conspiracy against the imperial personage.

Arrows fletched with feathers will veer off course rather than strike you.

Grand Master: Maneuver the Order into the full favour of the emperor while undermining the current grand master.

Speak the language of birds - concurrently a fantastical talent with poetry.

Order of the Stonebound Duchess

Within you is a princeling, writhing majestically in your guts. It dreams of a new age, an age of eternal twilight and omnipresent fog, where above is mingled fully with below, and air with water and stone. This age will come, your Order will assure it, with the release of your inner liege's mother, the Stonebound Duchess, from her erstwhile tomb.

Initiate: Accept a princeling-worm with the kiss of shame. Thereafter, if you fail a save against poison, the princeling within you will perish, and you must return to the Order to make penance and receive a new one before you can use its abilities again.

Your body becomes as flexible as a worm's. You can fight with long weapons and rigid armour in enclosed spaces without penalty.

Brother/Sister: Mature your princeling-worm - pass its child to another, and thereafter you require double rations or it starves.

You can eat ghosts and other incorporeal undead, dealing 1d6 damage with each bite. You can vomit out the half-digested remnants of these ghosts, which serve you for 2d6 rounds before dissipating.

Commander: Break a sorcerous seal reinforcing the tomb of the Stonebound Duchess.

Commune with other members of the Order through dreams - however unless they are of your rank or higher you can only send messages, and not receive them.

Grand Master: Reach a point in the earth deeper than any grand master before you managed - dream, and return to the Order with the prophecy revealed to you in this dream. If this prophecy leads to a schism, you must devour the old Order with your new.

Summon a purple worm up from the depths once per month. It won't be hostile towards you, but you can't control it.

Order of the Ringless Finger

There once was a land that enjoyed a golden age of chivalry. That age was tarnished, then broken, by that wretched thing called love. Chivalry will be finally perfected when love is totally subsumed in its code by duty.

Initiate: Sever the fourth finger of your left hand, which bears a vein that runs right to your heart.

-4 to saves against emotional manipulation, magical or otherwise (saves in Many Rats on a Stick GLOG are roll-under - reverse to a bonus if your GLOG is roll-over).

Brother/Sister: Provide unemotional counsel which solves a major problem in some domain.

You are able to echolocate with your heartbeat conducted through your left hand placed on a surface. This is vague by default, being able to detect the presence or absence of things within a container or beyond a door, and whether they are moving. Finer details can be discerned with a wisdom check.

Commander: Find a true love and break it.

If you would strike a mortal blow against a creature, you may instead snap a shard of your weapon off in their heart - so long as the shard remains, the creature's greatest love turns to cold hatred.

Grand Master: Rediscover and return the regalia of that lost land.

Any who've ever loved fight against you as if blind - their eyes clouded by tears.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

D100+ Pulp City Names in the Vein of Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, and So On and So On

Friend of the blog and co-conspirator deus ex parabola asked me to make this at some point some time ago. Here it is (click the button):

Special thanks to Spwack for the generator generator here:

Sunday, February 4, 2024


50 years ago today, on the anniversary and origin of the Feast of Salted Petals, god died.

Not God, of course, but god. For there were other gods in other lands, but in Bakseo there was only god, who needed no other name for he was the only god in Bakseo.

There can be no doubt that he is dead. Look towards the bay and see the lingering stains of terminal dogma. Look at it in your mind's eye, and see his snout bobbing in the waves - there can be no other imagining.

This death - let's be frank here - this murder, was no consequence of philosophy or theology, nothing so high-minded or abstract. No, god was a dweller in parochial flesh, old and weak and set in his ways, and he made Bakseo's people the same way - so he had to die, or else in this time of cauldron-born armies and alchemical stone-gassings the whole of Bakseo might die with him.

The death of god opened Bakseo's gates to the wider world - to the earth's fourty-four corners and all its heavens.

A Fresh Crop, Ripe & Green

Bakseo is buffeted by fat fogs from the sea, walls of moisture so dense you can feel them push into you. When storms come the difference can be hard to tell, save for the peal of thunder. It's a lush land, once almost entirely swampy in its lowlands, though vast swathes have been drained and reshaped in the last half-century. Cash crops are seeded in its new fields, sugarcane in the lowlands, and inland and upland (though upstanding sorts would never admit to it) groves of heart-racing akarra. The crops are shipped out - once raw, now processed - and a balance of vital stuffs flow in: grains, metals, weapons, cloths, grimoires, and so on.

Like the land, Bakseo's people are reshaped too. The core of this reshaping is the school system, the funnel which feeds its army and bureaucracy (as if one could be cleanly told from the other in Bakseo). At the system's outset tutours and scholars were imported: turtle-pate sophists from Quelm, prophessors from the universities of Cathalo, and suchlike and sundry. Now, its teachers are mostly produced domestically. Its life-defining examinations, both physical and mental, sort students into occupational strata, (ideally) without regard for their ethnic or class background, from officer to exorcist to labourer for the island's infrastructural projects - as brutal as they are necessary for its modern conditions. Bands of young and radicalized fugitives lurk in the hills.

There are vicious, strongly suppressed, and perennial rumours that prisoners and the lowest performers on the examinations are sold off, to the witch-kingdoms or the Mewling or Ba'ator or the many other realms revealed in the grand cosmologies from across the sea.

Little Elephants With Sharp Tusks

Bakseo is sometimes called "The Isle of Little Elephants" - this is an old name, and one never used by its more respectable inhabitants. The name's an embarrassment, demeaning, not least because Bakseo really is home to little elephants, no taller than your nipples. These elephants were once believed to be god, and so a program of extermination was carried out against them in the early years of Bakseo's new era. Contemporary education teaches that this identification of god with the elephants was nothing more than a superstitious conflation, and so the extermination is now seen as a silly, even ignorant excess.

The same men who ordered the extermination still rule Bakseo, an aging junta. They were and still are visionaries - ruthless, violent thugs, maybe, but visionaries nonetheless - patriots who believe in an ideal of Bakseo above and beyond the old internal divisions, and in the power Bakseo can and has drawn from centralization, bureaucratization, modernization. There's no love lost between them, and not in an ironic sense - they are comrades and confidants alloyed by conspiracy and tribulation. This closeness, this mutual trust, has become a weakness: in all their years of government, they have not found successors satisfactory to enough of them, even as they've passed from young men to white-haired patriarchs. Part of this is due to paranoia - they made a devil's bargain long ago with the god-killers of Far Vashar for the armaments necessary for their endeavour, and have been dodging their end of that bargain ever since. They said they'd make Bakseo a forward operating base for the Vasharans' theomachy, but balked when they realized just what psychotic fuckfreaks the Vasharans are. The Vasharans, for their part, have taken this lightly so far - they're patient, and slip their infiltrators in where they can. Besides the Vasharans, there are several somewhat less-freakish foreign powers who seek to subordinate the country, played off each other by the junta while they stockpile arms and expand their forces.

In the hills where date-drunk monkeys clamber and holler, the grip of the junta is tenuous, where it can reach at all. There are villages that live the old ways and fight the old feuds without a thought for the lowlanders, and there are newcomers - those fleeing the corvée, political offendees, uncontrollable wild talents, and some more organized sorts - the Widowmade chief among them, rebel-faithful and ritual wives of their dead god, who rescue piss-stained chunks of idols from Consecration Alley in Bakseo's capital, who weave necklaces of flowers and brew honey-wine for the island's surviving elephants, and who delve into its caves and interior ruins for artifacts of its legendary history to rally more people to their movement.

Flotsam On Astral Tides

Gods don't die like we do - not by nature, for one thing, and not to return to dust. They fall back into the astral plane, the place of stars and spirits and the shining intellect. This falling-back is only very rarely a neat and one-directional process.

In Bakseo god's fall has splashed, in the same way a meteor crashing into the ocean might be said to have splashed. The land is awash in astral energies. Dreams are often shared, and sometimes prophetic, latent psychic powers erupt, ghosts are strewn like roadside rubbish, manias periodically rush through the population, and ethereal predators come to pick over all of it.

Much of Bakseo's traditional culture was deliberately dismantled by the junta, because it was deemed sympathetic to god or an obstacle to new and superior methods. This left a void where once there were techniques for the treatment of these exponentially-increased spiritual/social maladies. Companies of exorcists popped up, relentlessly practical syncreticists and experimenters for hire, to cleanse a new construction of a haunting or stop an echopraxic worship-plague in its tracks.

Religion more specifically remains in flux. The priesthoods are foreign, and merely tenants in rented temple-space. They are held to bureaucratic standards and quotas much as the exorcists are - such-and-such required miracles, intercessions, abjurations, tithes kicked up as taxes, and so on. The sun Adonaios, god-king Zarus, and Panzuriel are the current leads in popularity.

Sweets & Treats

Bakseon cuisine has always been heavy on sweetness - from honey, traditionally and still, as most sugar is exported. Fruits and spiced syrup-infused pastries are nibbled at just about whenever more than one person sits down. This sweet-heavy diet isn’t conducive to dental hygiene, and so the people of Bakseo show their class in their mouths.

Ministers, plantation overseers, colonels, and other upper-enders have a set of dentures for every sort of meal, most carved from the nacre of giant river mussels: thin razors to strip the flesh from fish bones, delicate nubs for when the texture of rum-soaked cakes must be fully appreciated, and so on. Men show off their grit by having their teeth pulled publicly at festivals. "Sweetpee" is an insult against the rich, like "fatcat" or "poncey". Only the truly wretched in Bakseo have a mouth full of their own teeth.

Besides sweets, foreign arts and languages are appreciated - being able to appreciate them is a mark of sophistication. Poets, painters, sculptors, and playwrights flock to the island, seeking the patronage of its elites and the chance to be immortalized in Bakseo's new canon. What they produce is typically either an inspired fusion of the various influences available, or a taste-fraying hodgepodge of clichés that would be laughed into the sea if not for the prevailing fashion. It's essentially a coin-flip.

Friday, February 2, 2024


Been reading D&D wikis lately. This one: and this one: mostly.

I feel like a prospector, going out into the hills with nothing but a shovel and a crusty gooch, looking for nuggets of gold:

Deep Bats


These types are, in order: some kind of winged eel, reanimated bat skeletons, a bat with a mermaid tail instead of legs, a flying manta ray, and guys with an infectious curse who can turn into bats.

I really like this. It's downright medieval, like classifying whales and beavers as fish. Gives the setting some lived-in messiness - easy to imagine the weird bestiaries, scholarly debates, religious taboos, and suchlike that resulted in and sprung off from the idea of "deep bats".

Hook Horrors Know What Friendship Is

 Did you know that this guy could talk:

Art by Thomas Baxa

Did you know he's got friends and loved ones, and also that his hands are in demand by alchemists to make elixirs? Not even evil alchemists, just your regular, shop-on-the-corner, puts their pants on one leg at a time alchemists. To be fair they shed their exoskeletons every now and then, but how many poachers wait for elephants or rhinos to keel over of natural causes before taking their tusks/horns?

More D&D beasties than I thought can think and talk. Displacer beasts for instance. DBs also apparently begin to "hate all life" when they reach adulthood. Why? Correspondents reported "liberal morality play bullshit" when polled. Have displacer beasts ever acted like sapient, talking creatures? The one in the movie didn't talk. Seems like an oversight. If it's on sight with DBs just based on their species-essence, why even make them able to parley? Why not just hungry animals? Odd.

Displacer beasts in Pathfinder are telepathic (they're also called "coeurls", which if I remember right is what they're called in the book DBs were inspired by) - that's neat, let's work off that. OK so DBs in the wild are animals, they're telepathic but they're about as smart as your average bear if they only encounter other animals. If they come into telepathic contact with humans, that does something to them, some bicameral mind, master-slave dialectic shit that awakens self-consciousness in them. DBs most likely to come into contact with humans are the old and sickly who can only catch humans anymore, or those whose territory is being eroded by human expansion - so besides the "I am a hungry apex predator as smart or smarter than you are" thing, there's probably also some upfront animosity. Maybe if you encounter a displacer beast and it runs away, and you roll a displacer beast on the encounter table again, it's that same displacer beast, only encountering you awakened it to abstract thought. This isn't a moral relativism thing, evil is real, it's an objective phenomenon that exists in reality, I just think this adjustment makes displacer beasts more interesting.

Also, there's a lot of monsters in D&D that are basically just big cats with one thing tacked on, like an extra pair of legs. There's one called a thylacine that I like, but not the name because that's also another name of the real-life (thought not anymore (extinct)) Tasmanian tiger, because it's got the ability to create the illusion of a person. It's not a smart cat like the DB, it's just a normal cat-brained cat with the ability to create the illusion of a person. From my experience with cats I don't think it's going to get very complex with the illusion, it'll might get somewhat clever, but a lot of the time it's just gonna be uncanny*. Imagine being out in the tall grass - you see some guy shambling towards you, blank-faced, It Follows-style, then while you're confused by that BAM, a big cat's severed your spine and your carotid artery. That's scary.

Anyways, just give that ability to some DBs on top of the telepathy, it's a subset of their telepathy now.

Strange Connexion

OK so there's this living demi-plane called Neth, nobody knows where it came from, not even it. It's obsessed with interrogating and absorbing creatures to figure that out.

Then there's this ancient fallen empire called Netheril. It had flying cities, arch-mages, the works. It's got successor states - more fantasy worlds should have successor states - including a pseudo-Tibet that's so lazy they just call their Dalai Lama-analogue the Dalai Lama. Anyways, Netheril warred against these giant magical sea anenomes called phaerimm, and the phaerimm put this biomantic curse on Netheril that eventually destroyed it.

Biomancy, curse, Neth(eril) - maybe one of those flying cities had all its citizens smushed together and kludged into the astral plane. I don't know. As good an explanation as any.

Why Can't I Hold All These Trickster Gods?

OK, so Chult, it's kind of like the Forgotten Realms Africa. Anyways, there's these guys called the Nine Trickster Gods of Chult. I like that name. You have one trickster god? OK, by the book. Two, three trickster gods? Stepping on each other's toes. A whole pantheon of trickster gods? We're getting somewhere. There's a god for each point on the Good-Evil/Law-Chaos grid, and all of them are tricksy, even the lawful good one. Neat. They're also all represented by / can manifest through an animal/monster - including weirdo D&D monsters like the flail snail. Also neat.

That's about all I've read about them. This bit won't go nowhere. There's something to be said, with regard to refreshing cliché, of simply putting the pedal to the metal. Elves like trees? Do like Glorantha do, make them trees. Dwarves like mining? They mined so much they mined into hell, a lot, that's where volcanoes come from. They've got whole procedures now.

Oddmen & Weird Little Guys

The Forgotten Realms - has a reputation, as a setting, for being overly generic. Don't think this reputation would bear out, if you were to use all of the material. In the cold north, there's these furry insect-centaur guys called sha'az, and they feud with broods of psychic parasitic worms called hauns over giant slug-beasts called haundar, and over the sha'az's eggs which have telepathy-enhancing yolk. There's tyrant wizards coming up from the south, setting up outpost-forts and backing the hauns as their comprador-proxies. That's a cool scenario.

There's boulder-shelled jellyfish-squid-things that live in forests, right alongside elves and unicorns and shit on the encounter table. Ormyrrs, look those up.

There's stork-men. They're not really stork-men, not like lizard-men are lizard-men anyways. They're just big, intelligent storks. They're also called eblises. Eblis, or Iblis, is basically the Islamic version of Satan. Imagine a species of puffin-guys called satans. Odd.

There's So Many Kinds Of Dragons, I Know It's Called Dungeons & DRAGONS, But Come On, At Some Point You've Got To Realize That There's A Problem, Systemically - Energy Could Have Been Better Spent Making Some Unique Dragons As Characters, Writing Up Their Lairs, Plots, And Whatnot Rather Than "Brown Dragons" (Colour Of Poo, Not A Draconic Colour) Or "Force Dragons" (Come On)

* Cats can be pretty dumb, but I was talking to this zookeeper at a bar the other day, and you know what? Crocodiles are SHARP for creatures with brains the size of walnuts or whatever. Will plot out your routes, your routines, try to snap your elbows off when you're leaning over a railing. Can plan like a month in advance. So I've heard.