Monday, 24 April 2017


Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF SO YOU WANT A ROOM BY ROOM DEATH LAND IN YOUR CAMPAIGN AND NONE OF THAT PESkY WILDERNESS CRAWL 

I mean the Sewer Beneath the City or the Ruined Ward is a classic. Though the Ruined Ward needs more love. Big old chunk of the city all wrecked and full of woe and they just put a fence around it and try and stop people from nicking things. Good times.

Here's some other ideas for the dungeon being some fucking dumb :

1: THE ATTICS AND ROOFS : like those medieval towns where they kept building up until the buildings leaned into each other and then insane birds started building nests ontop and flying ships kept crashing into the pile and now up is bad and another civilisation might of even been started up there? 

2. BIG FALLEN OVER WARMACHINES like giant monuments and colossal colossi. They are place around the city , fallen on the city, and buried under the city. They are full of treasure because the crews manning them were like every army ever and loved to loot.

3. DREAMLAND : if you are awake when the city sleeps , it's an alternate city with bad shit everywhere. and LEWD PEARLS OF THE NIGHT

4. CRAWLSPACES: Dungeon is condition like Rising Damp or black mold , but one that makes impossible amounts of space underneath your house or skirting board. Technically the treasure you drag out of there is a fruiting body that spreads spores but no-one has wised up to that yet.

5.  METROTUNNELS: Like big ass underground railways that used to connect citys and overland travel is not an option so everyone is really keen on someone making the trip and clearing them out but you know molochs and shit.

6. THE SKY + MOON : really it's just a big ladder away

7.  MANGROVES + SWAMPS: though it's basically a forest right around a city that's awful to log and has shipwrecks in it.

8. SHIPWRECKTOWN: So many shipwrecks they've formed a solid structure around the little island y'all call home. Variants include it's in space and they are spaceships. 

9. LORD MAYOR MUD: The old city gotten entombed in mud and the new one is just a couple of 100 people sweeping out some tower rooms at the top. The deep river below is emptying out the very bottom levels and things are getting in below too. So it looks like a hourglass if the top bit was some small boxes and the bottom was a wide bottomed triangle

10. THE CITY IS ON A BIG DISC AND THERE'S REVERSE CITY ON THE OTHER SIDE: both citys keep having groups sneak into the other and steal and fight shit. Both citys are mostly wrecked from this. Good one.

11. BIG TREE: it's a big tree , everyone lives up high in the upper branches go down and it's bugs and rot and rotten gods. Pretty sure this is where Chewbacca came from?

12. GOD : he dead and rotting in the middle of town. He's got stuff in him though.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Hardcover Version of Fire of the Velvet Horizon

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF Sooo this took awhile , mainly because it took so long to get shit send to new zealand and then problems with the physical postal address and courier post and initially trying to get it done through blurb  .
Blurb, while great interface and quality , don't have an a4 size. They do have some fun square and landscape sizes , and those were tempting , I went with peecho instead.

And while lulu is fine, it doesn't have the paper weight that allows super black and stand-out colours.
Lulu is 60lb while peecho  I think  is 110lb (they list it as 200 which I assume is gsm so that's 110lb because 200lb is crazy) and blurb 80lb to 140lb.
I.. barely understand any of that though?

Lulu also uses ftp file transferring for files over 300meg and this has taken days and days of multiple failed and resetting upload attempts to get it there and it's fucked and was a major reason for going else where.

I mean it's entirely possible I could get the pdf smaller  (the mac Preview default program is worryingly good at resaving pdfs at smaller sizes with no obvious loss of quality) but I don't know what the fuck I'm doing and I don't want to the horror of having to then go through the pdf to make sure nothing has gone wrong, then test print it out and wait for that to show up and then when it doesn't try and track it down and then finally get it and go through it and this has take over a year of doing this , I'm not kidding.

Anyway Blurb and Peecho you can upload crazy big files without using some darkages internet shit to do so. Big ups Blurb and Peecho.

Blurb has store pages , while Peecho sadly lacks them, so I have to awkwardly make one on here , all they give you is BUYNOW link like so くコ:彡

so if you want to do some absurd over illustrated monster check out both peecho and blurb.

Now that this hardcover is live , I intend to NEVER update this book again. It's reached some kind of event horizon where any improvements I make cause an equal amount unintentional mistakes that need fixing. It is done. I have reached the limits of my limited competence. No more.


It's sexy hardcover version of the book. It has like 4-5 additionally appendix pages , which do not justify buying one if you already have the softcover. The text is bigger and clearer and considerable effort has been made to get the text out of the gutter. So there's that.

there's some (much) better photos here

(also did you know Patrick sleeps in a bed and not a rat-eaten blanket on bare floors , I am surprised)

And let's just make this a super commercial mega-mix,
first up : CONTESSA. Contessa is the best, they do pro-active diversity and representation in gaming,  here is their
you get t-shirts there and/or support them directly, or find out how to register an event with them for gencon, which you should totally do if you are a lady or otherwise a member disproportionately underrepresented group in gaming and want to REPRESENT.


Zzarchov Kowolski (who funded the original Deep Carbon Observatory , and paid me to illustrate  this )
is doing a board game,  I know nothing about boardgames I can see literally nothing about it other than here's kickstarter

Jacob Hurst (who paid me to do some small illustrations for this) has been doing this Swordfish Island thing for years and it's basically done , it's just funding the print run. Here's the kickstarter it will explain everything.


crikey all that commercialness has made exhausted tooo exhausted to put some actual game content on here, hahahah

So Draco is the genus , caustiscus is the species , and if there's a 3rd word it will be a subspecies (so in this case sputem). In this case (1st edition monster manual dragon names) it makes little sense for their to be a subspecies listed unless there is a shit load of slightly different black dragons. If there was going to be a subspecies it would be likely that Black dragons would be Draco caustiscus caustiscus as it's thought of as the most representivity of that species. There could be an argument  that chromatic should be the the species with each of the colours being a subspecies (So Draco chromaticus sputem for black dragon). 

However, there doesn't really seem to be any hard and fast rules about when to do species and when to do subspecies and it's more about people's careers than an exact measurement of genetic difference.
Also while botany can have cultivars ; kinda like a subsubspecies , zoology doesn't, and doesn't formally recognise "breeds" , which are the zoological equivalent of a cultivar , the closest thing is race , which is used fairly rarely and informally.

In regards to the correct way to have latin suffixes, well yes there are all kinds of rules about which to use depending on the gender of the root word, but it's been barely followed in actually biology for like a century , so fuck it. Like there's serrata and serratus and it should be standardized as one because the suffix is depend on the gender but no.

 Some suffixes , however , modify the word , so -oid or -scens.
-oid means "like a" and -scens means "an immature version of"

To make it even crazier there's a lot of greek used , and  latinized greek. Like -oid for example.

Sunday, 2 April 2017

Small Clustered Things

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF more ideas I couldn't expand much further than a couple of paragraphs

Godzilla campaign:

Put some stupid large monster on the map and have it wandering around smashing things from the very start of the game, so the players can have an end game right there in front of them , and it keeps things changing and basically randomly moves around and destroys whatever it wanders on.

Players might just tail it , looting the chaos in its wake.

I had this idea before I read Broodmother Sky Fortress btw, and Broodmother Sky Fortress is a lot about this so that's a plug for it.

Player types:

there's these 2 player types, it's not an either/or thing though, it's just 2 contrasting behaviours I've noticed.

-one will turtle up and do as little as possible as to avoid risk, and you need to give them a clear goal and try and kill the shit out of them. When you do that , they get amazing creative and engaged with the game.

-this other type will immediately find stuff to do or make plans in the campaign (and often are not-directly-linked to character advancement) and be super engaged and creative etc, but interpret any obstacles put in there way by the g.m as the g.m punishing them for something.

I lean more to  that second type btw.

Which kinda leads me to this other thing

Powered By The Apocolypse :
I keep reading these books and feel even more confused about how you are supposed to play them. It's like a play style like a hybrid of those two I just mentioned, the g.m just sets some token stuff up and the player's start thespianing around it and then the g.m tries to make as shitty/interesting as possible for the characters/players.

Like it sounds like my thing , but I can't help feel like I should be doing my best to not trigger moves , it like feels like just bull-shitting ideas with friends but with bear-traps thrown around, but you aren't meant to avoid the bear-traps?

I'm still not over the "pick a name" thing. It's messed up.

So no-one had seen an elve or dwarve that close and just described what they saw using what they knew existed, but actually

The things growing out of the face of dwarves:
From a distance it looks like a beard. But that's not hair , it's
1.Fungal Hyphae
4. Filter Feeding Tentacles
5. Worms
6.Eimer's organ
7. Kept Promises that participate to a physical form
8.Tongues, randula
9. Tongues, pseudotrachea
10. Bristles, stinging
11. Old Teeth
12.Ancestors DNA

The things growing from the sides of the elf heads:
not an ear, an error
1.The flesh pinches off into space, like distorted 3d model. This is where the animating force acts on them.
2.Skull knives
3. Antenna
4. Fruiting body
5. Moth
6.Wings (bat, insect, other)
7.Photosynthesizing fern fronds
8.Suckers for remora style attachment
9. Flower Labellum
10. Fractal Whorl of All Previous Bodies
11. Minaret
12. Cooling Fins

Ninja dragon:

this is one of the stupidest things I could think of as a base concept, but say there's this whole country that is fearful of a secret society of assassins who do this whole horrible secret police bit
 , pulling the strings of the government , killing both politically and seemingly arbitrarily.

Expert poison users, only shadowy figures glimpsed etc . All kinds of theorys and stories about who they are, where they came from , what they want etc.

In truth they are literally shadow of a vast crippled dragon lying deep beneath the land.

The dragon who was said to have been killed by the founder-hero of the country.

But it's not dead , and it extends its poisonous shadow into every patch of darkness, hearing everything, seeing everything, and twisting the legacy of the founder hero into a vast tortured mockery.

It's from a thread here which also has some solid gold ideas by other people on using fantasy cliches

One more thing
 I just watching something that had the amazing pun "Salt Rifle"

from here

1. Salt Rifle (naturally) :
Squeeze it tight and a crack starts and propagates like anti-lightning to the end of it , and a shard snaps off and is carried impossibly by the crack as it extends past the rifle .
In addition to the damage a subsonic hatey triangle will do , it will pull salt out of the body to expand into a beautiful, flesh destroying salt crystal formation.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Still Protean Things

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF here's some ideas I couldn't expand that far

they look nearly like a person. Neaaarly .Something is off, the elbows maybe too low? shouldn't their be bone showing or not showing , the eyes maybe? Something not right. They were shapeshifters, doppelganger, mirror escapees, not any more. They quit, they got out , they wanna be real and have blessed coherence , have an I inside. So they took a form and made it them and... it's not right. They can't make it right. Something is always off. They observe and observe and observe and every little thing they think they might be doing wrong they write it down in book they keep instead of a heart. They are always learning and adjusting and almost almost almost . They are never found together. They can see everything they are doing wrong so clearly,  an agony mirror.

Cultural Apoptosis:
A culture is under severe threat. Their military (if any) has been shown to insufficient to resist the invaders. They will not be called the invaders , it will not called an invasion, they have brought new words with them, and they will make sure that their new words are used instead.
Theft  Proof of ownership , Violence  Law,  Murder  Justice, Child Abuse  Education, Slavery Productivity

The invaders will always offer the chance to be like them, but it's never to be equal to them.
Everything the invaders don't take as theirs will be made to less than exist.

The enemies of the culture. The old enemies who would call themselves enemies, who would describe themselves in the old words, who always conspired in the dark , and hungered for child and light. They are also under threat. They will be made to be less than exist.

Do they realise this? Will the Famine Ghost realise they will not find purchase in the new thoughts of the invaders? Or will the Famine Ghost glut themselves on the vast psychic wounds poorly protected behind alcohol, unrealising their famine will come too?

Will the Nether Giants realise their land will be stolen even further from them and ally with the resistance? Are they vulnerable to the promises of the invaders?

Is the Old Women crafty and ruthlessness enough to insert herself into the stories of the invaders? Or will she find herself a mere alley ghoul?

The Winged Sickness ,  might be virulent enough to settle down in the heart of the invaders, starting a rot that will reveal itself in a century.

Might there not a few that the invaders ignorance does not protect them from? Malarial spirits, Night Tigers, Dream Cages?

Will there be an under council?  A great meeting of the night? Every bitter thing realising there will be no darkness left to hide?

Jungle vs Forest
so I've gm-ed a few player deaths that surprised me , the level of caution I've come to expect did not happen, and while likely it was an attack of the button-press-imp on their behalf , or some poor explains on mine, I have another theory.

If you put the players in a forest they will "know" the trees won't kill them and the wolves and bears will.
If you put the players in a bug-fuck psy-jungle they will not really know what the fucks going on and walk right into obvious danger because their base level of understanding just got too bamboozled.
"Shock and Awe" kinda.

No real conclusion here, just a possible observation.

Being Small:

If you ran a game where everyone was tiny it should be a thing that everyone feels tiny.

Main things about being tiny (let's say mouse or insect size) that seemed to be a thing from my crude understanding of physics:

-Water is basically glue but slidable on.

-falling 100 times your height isn't really a problem , nor being thrown an equivalent kilometer from wind (well okay maybe for a mouse. I don't have a mouse handy sorry) Climbing is easy enough that anything remotely rough is basically a horizontal surface.

-the proportion of force applicable to self-loading or whatever means pincering seems to be the prefered weapon of choice, though if you were doing borrower sizes and setting scalpels and needles would totally be viable. Just nothing seems to give a shit about being kicked at that size is all.
So it's all stabbing and slicing .

-You could literally make the play surface there infront of everyone , like the stack of boxes and sticks or whatever is what the characters are actually moving around. Or go outside and move plastic dudes around the grass and leaves.

-if it was an actually campaign book someone should someone to try and get a jeweller or some other tiny artist to  make equipment and weapons  out of stuff and then scan and put them in book. Little scalpels with human hair wrapped hilts ,  scrub cloth armour, fishing hook grappling hook etc


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

More on the Elementals

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Anathema, Spectrum, Azure (source unknown, maybe?)
Anathema , Spectrum , Deep (Zdzisław Beksiński)
Anathema , Spectrum, Verdigris (Gareth Pugh, Fashion In Motion, 2007)

Anathema, Spectrum , Stark (Jean Tinguely Le Soleil)
Anathema, Spectrum, Slurring (“spacehunter: adventures in the forbidden zone” (1983)

Anathema, Duality, Teragen (photo from here)

Anathema , Duality, Entropy (Spider embryo from here)
Fire, Blasphemy , Conflagrating Muse (Jean Paul Gaultier spring 2007)

Earth, Blasphemy, Monsterwomb , sculpture by Maximo Pedraza)
Air, Blasphemy, HysteriaWinds (Francis Bacon)

Water, Blasphemy, Remembering-Seas ( Epimeria larsi , Stefano Schiaparelli click for source)

Usurper Wood (Hyperolius spp. )

Usurper Flesh (found here, ??)

Zdzisław Beksiński
Usurper Fungus (Zdzisław Beksiński)

I got caught up (I'm directing a play, google Limbo Cabaret Wellington Fringe) and can't remember where the fuck I was going with this, but here's some replies to questions people had on g+ regarding the previous post here

- Volcanos and lava:

there's no "molten core" but there are magma lakes. A complicated deal between Earth and Fire mean fire have provided the heat to melt stone , providing a liquid sled, so Earth can crash around mountains easier. So teutonic drift is a thing , but it's potentially a lot faster and the faultlines are way more erratic. 
Going down it's caves and deep time all the way down.
The elementals found in herding and corralling the lava are "legally" earth elements, though technically a mongrel element. They don't realllly see themselves as Earth elementals and simultaneous held in high regard for their aid in moving continental plates and looked down on because their mixing with fire and it's potentially a volatile situation  .

-Why does Earth care where continents are ?

time share agreements between the August and Gross aspects mean any patch of earth needs to be periodically cycled between them. So mountains raised up and then eroded down , then compressed and pushed up again. 
The status of various elements means different priorities on how fast it's done. An Elemental not in command of a section of earth means it has less status so it's a complicated situation when they hand terrain over and when they hold onto it.

Holding on it too long means there corresponding aspect will also hold onto to stuff and the ideal situation is to arrange for someone else's terrain to get cycled early in exchange for yours to be delayed.

-Does Fire have a Terrain?
the sun yo. It's smaller and closer that we would assume. The surface is cool enough to walk on though, it's just the corona that's super hot.  Some stars are smaller , weirder suns (like fringe political groups or hippy universities) others glowing eldritch trash , aeon old eggs, gem prisons, space whale spoor etc.

-What other mongrel elements?
Magma and mire would be the biggest, most coherently identifying. Magma chaffing under their "honorary Earth" status and Mire being near pariahs , with barely concealed cabals with Wood and Fungal Heresys . Mire are swamps , bogs and marshs and are difficult and unpleasant to access for the other Elements. It's like .. small towns , way off from any highway or railway, running on some drug economy. 

Other things that could be seen as combinations , such as deserts or cloudscapes are firmly Earth or Air respectively , though a young gauche elemental might identify as Sand or Cloud.

-Why does Weather?
because it's interesting . As in interesting stuff happens if you keep watering land , and both Air and Water like interesting things and so have this arrangement to make weather.
This why stagnant empires wind up in deserts, less weather happens in boring places.

-What is the mind of Fire?
Fire likes purpose and direction and energy but doesn't really care what or why , only that someone is very much doing it.  They can be capiarious fire and also deeply focused slow burn fire.
Fire doesn't like or even really understand passivity or indecisiveness . Do the thing and if it's the wrong thing just do the other thing next.

Fire likes purpose and direction and energy but doesn't really care what or why , only that someone is very much doing it. They can be capiarious fire and also deeply focused slow burn fire.

Fire doesn't like or even really understand passivity or indecisiveness . Do the thing and if it's the wrong thing just do the other thing next.

Fire has no crimes outside of the sun.

The thrill -junkies and experience seekers and sensates will descend from there and woe to those that catch their eye.

Destruction and Consummation is often considered the height of appreciation.

However what is gauche and inconceivable is passivity or indecisiveness . A gauche fire elemental is indifferent, unmotivated and if they really feel like pissing off the Sun-Courts , Making a Point about it.

Which should be more understandable but it's even more infuriating to the Courts.

A Gauche fire elemental deliberately act against themselves, burn things down that they don't really care about, merely observe

-What do they look like again? Like not just fire but all these dudes
Well lose the Elemental need to made solely of an element thing and have Elementals look like anything that would be cool for that Element. So a Water Elemental could be a Coral Shark festooned with skulls. Elementals look like a range of weird shit, think classical uses of terms like fairy or demon. The actual stats and abilities of any elemental are going to vary greatly as well

-Speaking of Water , what's something that they do that would make them and the players paths collide?

crime  (I swear that this wasn't thought up to make a shitty "crime-wave" pun) 
Water demands tribute and respect by those that move or feed from it, and punish with storms, drownings, tidal waves etc.

A criminal water elemental would be one who is destroying stuff without care about tribute, one who is skimming tribute and not paying their tithe to the Sea Kings

Basically the ocean is a giant protection racket teeming with both larger operations and small independent operators trying to get an edge

so a Water Element could be going from village to village demanding tribute right under the nose of the established operators and then they have to fuck off inland pretty quickly

Tribute is anything people care about, the elementals don't really care what is exactly, they just care that you care about. There's a certain amount of potency they gain from it but it's more for display of status to other Elementals and status corresponds to territory and lobbying power

So yes an Elemental would pay someone to rip off another Elemental tribute stash, especially if said stash was stored not in the ocean

Earth :
The Parliament of Earth's are extremely concerned with the procession of terrain moving from August to Gross aspect. A criminal one*is not into this and is very into something else. Some get into being something else, a mass of cracking rock and dustfalls pretending to be cow, a walking tower,a colony mind of mud children .

Some get into gardening even growing things on themselves. A garden is not remotely limited to plants, entire towns can be carefully curated as a garden by a rogue earth elemental, "weeds" removed, buildings "pruned" , interesting new features forcibly added, like a couple of lions in the town square
The rogues tend to still be fascinated by cycles though.

*okay only a criminal if it starts acting against or ignoring Parliament Earth decrees .

How do they  get along with each other?:

None of them are officially enemies , it's far more petty and vindictive than that. 
Earth's August and Gross aspects are like a seelie unseelie court but if they were also politicians and stockbrokers , so even if they are complete alien to each other , they are so heavily entwined in each others interests , they get along like a dangerous family.

Earth has a long term deal with fire for the maintenance of magma lakes which greatly add the Progression. In exchange the magma lakes act as embassy for vacationing Fire elementals . August Earth regards everyone else beneath them (ironically?) and barely acknowledges they even exist , while Gross Earth has creative , sometimes heated exchanges with Air and Water outliers , like proponents of various art schools and left wing philosophies arguing fiercely but admiringly?

Fire in its August aspect is in the sun, while the Gross in the poles. Gross Fire is moody and weird and Gross Water is there and they are moody and weird together.

Fire basically claimed the upper sky all to itself and Water and Air have been extremely passive aggressive about it ever since. They tolerate and pretend to humour Fire touching down but it better not get comfortable.

Water concerns itself mainly with bullying people for tribute, with the weirdos engaging with Air (as the Weather) and Gross Earth .

Air is the most interest in people for the sake of them being interesting, and it's not accident that a stagnant empires are often in deserts. The weather stops showing up regularly to where it's dull .
Gross Air is weird and hidden all over the place being very interested in things happening very slowly , though sometimes one will just flat out kill an entire town , and then roll back into the bottom of the lake it spend the last 30 years watching sediment fall.

Air is like academia but if all the canon works were written by manic pixie dream girls.
Which is terrifying when it's the justification for a hurricane .

The Sun-Courts are def a decadent aristocracy and keep back handedly reminding everyone that they have near sole domain over the outer sky.
Water and Air pretend to be polite , friendly and interested but you know it's going to rain torrentially anytime the Fire Courts make the mistake of telling them their plans.

The weather cycle actually does not involve evaporation anymore , Water got that petty. Clouds just form from the action of wind on the sea.

(August) Earth resolutes refuses to acknowledge everyone except Fire , while (Gross) Earth is constantly co-authoring weird shit with all the fringe elements of Water and Air.

Earth's primary interest is the Progression in which territory is passed from August to Gross and back.
Fire's primary interest is stimulation , consummation , and trends in court
Water's primary interest is exploiting offering reasonable rates to insure safe travels
Air's primary interest is studying and experimenting on anything below them but in a "free spirited poetic way"

so Elementals are made up of elements but not all elements are elementals.

They have "coherent gestalt of central agency" aka a soul , but calling it a soul is actually joining in with any number of religious arguments 

Ice is water in its gross aspect, gross fire is an easy way to convert water to gross aspect, however technically here ice doesn't need to be cold and categorically salt crystals, ice, various participates, limestone are all kind of the same thing.

(Note : think of the elements like nation states. While they make sense as broad entities, they make less and less sense the smaller you go)

Magma are , legally, earth elementals, but have an uneasy relationship with the Parliaments of Earth

Lightning is august air, and a lightning elemental would just be August Air Element, but a hyper focused one.

Dust is classic Gross earth

Further More:
the underlying logic is similar to the underlying logic behind categorys like Europe, Africa, Asia and the Americas.
As in it's more deeply invested power interests, a long bloody history, xenophobia and some coherent landmarks and differences.

So there's 4 elements because it kinda makes sense, and the people (Elementals) with the most to lose with it not making sense are utterly willing to crush any threat to it.

So there's no logical limit to usurper elements and if they gain enough belief and physical territory , the nature of reality will actual shift (possibly even retroactively) to line up with them.

It's possible that a new hegemony wouldn't both with the August & Gross aspects (the elemental blasphemy are an attempt to established a further aspect to the elements that makes the ruling party's uncomfortable, so it's wrong and bad. The 4 humours would also be an elemental blasphemy but no-one has dreamed that up yet)

The Usurper Elements have Gross and August aspects?
 at a guess August wood would be actual wood and Gross would be anything herbalicious i.e green floppy stuff. It could be easily be argued the other way though.

August mind would prob be Introspection and gross ; Empathy. Again depending on what Mind elemental winds up being on top could be the other way.
The thinking being anything that opens the mind to others also threats to dissolve it while Introspection cements the individual entity but risks isolation and stagnation.
So which is the "bad" one depends on how much you prize individualism vs collectivism

Flesh : the 2 aspects I guess are "growth and mutation" vs "coherence , structure and specific adaptation" so Womb and Bone maybe

ARe golems elementals? Skelemans?
 So the theory that there was an "animating spark" in the base physical nature of a body , the thing that made a dead frogs leg twitch, is basically true here.
So Coral golem animated by elemental force is basically animated by something like elemental-soul-skinflakes.

However the smarter you want that golem the more complicated the animating force you need to put in it. At a certain point it risks have a runaway cognitive loop strong enough to awake it into consciousness.

Elementals can "bud" like sea-anemones so it's a real risk it might just be growing smarter by itself.

And generally you don't need to have controlling magics in a simple golem, it doesn't have enough awareness to not want to do what you tell it. Controlling magics are a significant invest of time and power and many wizards won't bother.
Many wizards then keep investing more elemental essence to make their golem less dumb when they get frustrated with it walking through doors or getting stuck on corners or otherwise acting like bad AI and then one day it goes full "I'm Sorry Dave I can't Do That" on them.

A skeleton or a zombie is just turning up the remaining animating spark inside a body so it does what you want it to do but a motile corpse without a soul is like an empty building with open windows but instead of pigeons you get hungry ghosts and malign spirits showing up

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

you are on fire but like gravity fire

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" The Greeks name the hoopoe (upupa) thus because it would settle on human waste, and feed on foul dung. It is a most loathsome bird, helmed with a protruding crest, always dwelling in tombs and human waste. Anyone who anoints himself with the blood of this bird and then goes to sleep will see demons suffocating him."

"Many people know from experience that bees are born from the car- casses of oxen, for the flesh of slaughtered calves is beaten to create these bees, so that worms are created [from] the putrid gore, and the worms then become bees. Specifically, the ones called ‘bees’ originate from oxen, just as hornets come from horses, drones from mules, and wasps from asses"

"They are called birds (avis) because they do not have set paths (via), but travel by means of pathless (avia) ways."

"Pythagoras says that a snake is created from the spinal cord of a dead person. Ovid mentions this in
his Metamorphoses when he says (15.389): There are those who believe the human spinal cord is
changed to a snake when the spine, in the sealed sepulcher, has rotted. This, if it is believed, occurs with some justice, in that as a human’s death comes about from a snake, so a snake comes about from a human’s death. It is also said that a snake will not dare to strike a naked human."

These are from St Isidore's Etymologies and they are great.

I bring them up because it's easy to resort to real world physics and chemistry to determine how something should go down. 
But this is a fantasy world , and maybe lamarck theory is actually right here. (Arnold is playing with this here too

The trick however would be making an underlying system that either is too buried in the background for the players to notice OR is something that might break things if the players get their hands on it.

Like "spontaneous creation" and having snakes formed from the trailing part of a women's dress left in a rain barrel; and this being weaponized by the players to make a shit tonne of snakes.

This might not be a problem and it would give a certain fairy tale aspect to play, however if it starts raising questions on why no-one has done it before, then it could be a problem

For example if you establish you can eat snakes, and snakes form in the above manner, then why are these people starving when they can make snakes from cloth and old clothing?

Which can lead to either adding on additional caveats (the amount of snakes made from water is limited by the amount of stillborn children that year) or further consequences (if you eat a diet of snakes you become a Yuan-Ti ) .

So depending on how good you are at making up additionally layers of weirdness and bullshit might become a boon or burden. 

Something that you see in a lot of books like St Isidore's Etymology is that underlying principles are established and referred back to, sometimes , incorrectly,to explain an observed phenomena (the descriptions of some snake bites are actually fairly accurate , e.g The haemorrhois asp is so named because whoever has been bitten by it exudes blood, with the effect that as the veins dissolve it draws out through the blood whatever life there is –  Which is hemotoxin being a classic hemotoxin . Classic.
 ) or a supposing on one , e.g "Venom (venenum) is so named because it rushes through the veins (vena), for its destructive effect, once infused, travels through the veins when bodily activity increases, and it drives out the soul.  Hence venom is unable to cause harm unless it reaches a person’s blood

 So start with some underlying principles that effect something the players will interact with, but not something so innate to existence that everything is overturned (unless you can be bothered) .

Here's my example:

Elemental energies can be found in all things . Energies can either August (postive) or Gross (negative). 
The most obvious energy is fire. August fire is fire , Gross fire is cold. 

Confusingly , because fire was discovered first , the concept of burning is also used to describe when any elemental energy spreads and cause the release of more of the energy in nearby objects.

Something can affected by a elemental energy without "burning" . However the harder something is to burn by an energy often the more dangerous and contagious it is when it begins to.


- Fire when burning can be stopped by overwhelming it with any other elemental energy . This is why Fire can be blown out or drowned. 

-Gross Fire causes Water to take on its Gross aspect (crystallization) i.e Ice. When you warm yourself up by jumping up and down you are actually reply the Gross fire with August earth (impacts)

-August Earth Burning is basically a localised gravity well and can be incredibly difficult to escape, and it doesn't seem to be able to be "put out" like other elemental burnings.

-Acid is just Water with higher amounts of August energy  ,  it's just turning things into water! Alkaline is not a thing here, and Acid injuries will look more like putrefaction than a chemical burn.

-Things are Heavy and Solid because they have August Earth Energy. Pumice rocks are full of Gross Earth Energy. Any impact is a release of August Earth Energy. Stomping out a fire is overwhelming the fire with August Earth Energy. If you hit someone really hard with a hammer it could cause a localised black hole!

-There is no separate Elemental plane they are all just folded into this one . Elementals have no consistency of form from individual to individual and can be anything from bestial wrecks to sly man-whore connivers. What constitutes an elemental seems to be the ability to call yourself an elemental and not be destroyed by other elementals.
Their actual physical form might technically be incorporating other elements including "usurper" elements like flesh or wood , and it's a really bad idea to point this out.  The fights between different Elements are nothing compared to the internal fights in that Element itself.

The wizard first level spell "Catalytic Spear" is where players are most likely going to start finding the weirdness.

This spell ignites and releases the dominant element energy in a held object*, which is ranged attack (hit roll modified by perception , damage roll modified by knowings) doing a d8 damage.

A wooden stick will shoot a fire blast  (August fire).  August fire is the most contagious of the elements, so they will start to burn taking an another d4 damage until they put themselves out.
If the die rolls a 4 it goes up a die size, if it rolls a 1 it goes out by itself.

Something that has been super burned like a charcoal stick or a glass vessel will release Gross fire energy , i.e a cold blast, which causes numbing , a disadvantage on Initiative, Str and dex checks.

Rocks and Metals, heavy or refined earths : Positive earth energy, which is imploding, gravity and mass. After striking someone with a gravity blast , the target will take increased damage from falls and blunt attacks will have damage Advantage

Crumbling earths, sands, pumice, clays: Gross earth which is erosion , disintegration and reduces their defense by one

Basic Water and Liquids : August water which is dissolution and liquefaction , what we would think as acid but more "turning into liquid". Does a d8 on the next round  . Rolling a 1 on the damage means it does a d8 on the next round too.

Salt Crystals and any other Crystals formed from dissolved solids :Gross Water which is crystallization , which looks like big faceted shards forming out of your bloods and liquids. This means it the target has to choose between taking disadvantage on str and dex checks or take damage again.

Air but needs to be under your agency so from a bottle or your entire breath. Fulgurites.
August Air : Lightning : Spasmodic jolt, Str check or lose action

Air from corpses, or from long term enclosed spaces: Gross Air :withering , stagnation, dry gangrene. Damage from this attack negates the first attempt to heal it , and gives fortitude disadvantage.

Gems get weird, some of them are going to be  fire, others water, air or earth.

And then there's the elemental heresys , the suggestion that core 4 are not the only ones. As it's not actually fixed and the Elements themselves jealous defend their cosmological relevances.  Flesh , Fungus, ,Thought and Wood are Usurper Elements  . Studying them risks being marked by the elements and more likely to catch fire , drown , break limbs from a fall, or hit by lightning.

The Mongrel Elements risk less from studying them , only provoking ire from the involved elements (Lava provoking Earth and Fire for example).

Elemental Blasphemies are suggestions that there are other energetic properties to the elements, homeopathic memory for water , monster-wombing for earth, inspiration for fire, and hysterias for air.

The Anathemas reject the elements entirely :the Duality: Teratic and  Entropic

The ultra-spectrum of Azure, Stark, Verdigris, Slurring, Deep

Finding texts or scholars covering this is difficult as destroying these is a easy to empower any  (regular) elemental magic.

*it's important to magic if you are holding i.e physically supporting or wearing something , it's "under your agency" and affecting that means you are going against the soul of the target. That's why it's not routine to teleport an object into someone's head and soulless automata are extremely vulnerable.

Some pictures of Elementals!
(sources to follow)

Earth (August)

 Stephen Fabian 's cover for The Metal Monster
 Stephen Fabian 's cover for The Metal Monster

Earth (Gross):

Smiljan Radic and Marcela Correa, Extension to the charcoal-burner's hut, 1998, Santa Rosa, Chile. Photo by Smiljan Radic.

Water (August)

Ringwraith from Ralph Bakshi's Lord of the Rings

Water (Gross)

Radiolaria, single specimen from arranged slide by Wim van Egmond, photograph by David Walker

Fire (August)

From here

Fire (Gross)

photo of "The Garment Distinct" by Bart Hess

Air (August)

 "The Negative Pole of an Electric Spark"  from Camille Flammarion's Thunder and lightning 

Air (Gross)

From Smithsonian’s National Collection of Fishes "X-ray vision Fish inside out exhibition see here

Sunday, 18 December 2016

there was a dog at work today , he was a special mister guy

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF so you can do skills and some starting equipment as a background and then make playing non-humans as an option to have instead of a background and then you can have these non-human archetype to go with whatever pathfinder bullshit the players want but if they want to have a non-human but still don't have any ideas there's some tables I'm really tired and not making this easier for anyone

(and this bit of the current "players handbook" I'm using for home games that will be here for y'all once it's been tested a bit more. The stats are Learnings, Toughness, Dexterity, Wits, Perception, Strength, and it's not a homebrew unless you have atleast one pointless stat renaming. The background skill system was influenced by Zzarchov Kowolski's Neo-Classical Geek Revival

picture unrelated

Your background  determines what Stuff you have and any usefully skills  you may have picked up.
When you are playing the game and you try something that requires an Stat check and you think that your past might be relevant tell the g.m. If they are convinced you will get an Advantage to the roll. Make a note of this, because you will get Advantage any other time a situation similar to this happens. Then make Learnings roll.. If you succeed you can keep bringing up your Past in future. If you fail, that's it. That is all your character managed to get the hang off.

You may choose or roll a past from below. The weapon and armour description is mainly for how you picture your character, ignore it if it is not interesting.

Starts with:
Sacks, long hooked pole, protective mask, shovel
your weapons and armour is:
"scrounged and repaired"

Starts with:
dried meats, snares, calls, scent
your weapons and armour is:
"self made and simple"

Starts with:
esoteric cultural item, concealed jewellery,compass,trade item
your weapons and armour is:
"distinctive and unfamiliar"

Starts with:
domesticated animal, basic trade good, lard, homebrew
your weapons and armour is:
"repurposed tools"

Starts with:
bad drugs, stolen valuable, blinding dust, caltrops
your weapons and armour is:
"stolen and/or easily concealable"

Starts with:
jewellery, weird drugs, reading material, clockwork toy
your weapons and armour is:
"gaudy and distinctive"

Starts with:
lantern, maps, crowbar, chalk
your weapons and armour is:
"ancient and rare"

Starts with:
divination tools, spirit cleansing incense, fireworks, blankets
your weapons and armour is:
"anointed and festooned"


Instead of these you can be something NOt HUMAN. They won’t have any stuff, but their Past is used in the same way as other Backgrounds.
Upon choosing one of these you will need  your highest stat to be one of the two listed, you will need to swap it is not.

Some kinda of talking upright animal person like a possum-man or pangoliod, a funguy,  a short hairy irish-esque person, a silly goblin man or walking plantpart
You are Slight (makes some things harder other things easier) but only the other player characters can understand what you say (and maybe things close enough to what you are.).
Your highest stat is now either Dexterity or Perception
If you can’t think of anything use below table.
1. Fun-guy : a walking toadstool dude
2. Hobbot: a cheery little man with hairy feet and this accent, what is it? You don’t know, very rustic and cheeky.
3. Boggle: Ugly , big nosed , squeaky darkness dweller. Like decorated a gnome with bat parts
4.Cocofolk: It’s a coconut but with adorable little limbs . What a fellow
5. TikkityTok: A wind up toy , with all the complicated parts of a person but with cogs and a furnace.
6. Ragdolly: cloth sack filled with life and hair! Smiling face , oh it digusts to watch you eat
7. The Garbage Eating Friend: A rat or raccoon or oppossom, but walking about on 2 legs and touching everything with it’s uncanny pale hands
8. Hand Faced Cat: This isn’t right at all.

Large! Of impressive physical form if not always large, is somehow dense, or potent. A walking crocodile, an anger statute , or just a bearded near-boulder up blinking from below!
You are Burly (makes somethings harder other things easier) but Impetuous! If you (the player) say your character is doing something , your character is immediately attempting it , no take backs or “but wait” if you have spoken too soon.
Your highest stat is now Strength or Toughness .
If you can’t think of anything to be use below table :
1. Gladigator: A scaley lizardy fight man of blood sport
2. Alive Statue: of what purpose it has life?
3. Grim Earth Miner: you have a beard and if imagination fails, a scottish accent
4. Piggy: Fierce and bestial , just appetite or a misunderstood savage?
5.Gorilla of your Dreams: Primate trailblazer.
6. Morlock: Degenerate future bruiser, like an albino neanderthal with crazy shag hair
7. Beetleborglar: A mass of chitin ,choppy bits, intimidation , and insectile authority
8.Rat-Ogre: Fierce rodent snooted head but no cowering squeaker , just this towering nuggety body

Shimmering and foreign, not like us, with their insights , androgyny and arcane ways. You could be a pointed eared superhuman , a walking butterfly, blue skinned jewel eyed deceptionist or a Many-Bowie.

You don’t have as many biologically limitations as everyone else, choose 2 things like “sleep”, “eating”, “aging”, “fatigue”, “illness”  to not need or suffer.  On the other hand your alien-ness means something everyday and harmless , scalds you like boiling water. Something as common as salty liquids, fresh water, iron or song.

Your highest stat is now Learnings or Wits.

1.Bug Eyed Being : thin and insectile with kind alien eyes
2.Fairy Explorer : A man-pixie , long limped and clad in forest green
3.The Spell Who Lived: A idealised figure, conjured as illusion and now partial real!
4.Pygmalion : Eerie delicate artifice , quicken by creator or god dreams
5.Sorcerer's child : your hair is smoke , your wit and eye the fire
6.Flower-being: A pollen smudged face collared  by petal , step with stem or root
7. Star-Man: from the upper upper air, soft and silvery
8. Not-Quite-Ghost: You are cold and ethereal, hearted stopped but not your will.