Monday, 29 June 2020

3 Session Framing

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I have indubitably done a post on this before , but I have this jolt of inspiration that I will write out right now

(so a lot of "campaigns" often last 3 sessions, so why not frame them that way)

A school of sorcerers had a sinister engine explode ripping apart the school. BUT a magic protection has frozen time mid explosion and the players are students who must escape the school with its now mid-explosion configuration . Also the outside world hates the wizzys and the players would best use this opportunity to "obtain" as much of the schools artefacts to allow them to survive in the outside world. The time stop magic is inconsistent and certain previous contained hauntings and elder beasts now wander its weird halls. Further CONFOUNDING YOU  are the hounds between time and other inter-spatial blights coming it through the cracks

basically the plot of 13 ghosts except with more ghosts, robbery, and murderous machinations.
An unrated movie by the way!
Here's a link to the synopsis


if you haven't seen it and just want to know right now

Just like the movie! Except the iceberg broke off a chunk inside the ship and protein starved tardigrade people defrosted and are running amok eating people! And the players are the under class forced to work in dangerous conditions below, because rich people have their souls kept in jars above! And some asshole thought it would be a good idea to have a monster zoo onboard!

the players are planning the ultimate heist! Getting all the balls, kites, and dogs that the scary old lady next door to the park claims when they go onto her property. Her property is a vast overgrown thorny mess and her house a crooked 3 story dwelling, squatting there like a underfeed toad.

Like Dante's Inferno but in reverse and more like Aristophanes's The Frogs

You are vice sodden dilettante,ingénue and fops invited to a private viewing of a renowned (and infamous!) art patrons gallery. But once gathered around his sinister collection he reveals himself to be the very Devil! You are cast into a painting and must struggle through the weird worlds depicted, as you leap from painting to painting, each one twisted to reflected the various sins and betrays that have made up your characters degenerate existence (ala silent hill)

Saturday, 13 June 2020

Velvet Hooks: Boa Boy and Boa Constructor

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More Velvet Hooks.
This series will be interspersed with other post topics but right now I don't have anything worth doing a full post on.
Also? , I'm no longer going to bother trying to label the hooks as "expanded content/original content" , as it seems arbitrary and not useful to try and divide them like that.
I'll keep the "pretty much in the text" one though.

Boa Boy:
The head of a child, the body of a snake, a simple abdead* servant . What could go wrong?

1.Boa boys are used as guards in well off houses. But where to put them? Lurking in vases , like the snake charmers money maker? One option is a fake safe, maybe being obviously hidden behind a large painting. Such a safe has boa access at the back . So when the safe is opened by intruder , the boa boy is waiting to pull them in , with the door engineered to swing shut afterwards

2. Eccentric Aristocrat with dozens of Boa boys holding up his train. He often needs to replace them , as he's prone to make wagers about his ability to shoot a glass of sherry balanced atop the head of one of his unfortunate boa boys.
He prefers Boa boys with eyes that aren't quite blue or green.

3. A Boa Boy of rare intelligence and an insatiable desire for vengeance. It murdered its first owner, making it seem like an accident. From there it moved on to another house, replacing the  Boa Boy on staff there . The "replacing" involves the current Boa Boy being set free, enlisted to  help, or if they prove too loyal  ,being killed and disposed of.

4. A isolated mansion with its owner succumbing to an heart attack. The Boa Boy staff are a particular witless example, and keep the mansion running as if the owner was still alive, rather than mummified in the tea room.

5. Certain Boa Boy are made and  sold off , but with a certain magick in their creation, sneak out at night to report back to their creator, who is slowly building up quite the blackmail portfolio,

6. Someone has let loose an illness as to have more dead children , as the poor often sell bodies they can't afford to have appropriately disposed of . The engineer of the blight doesn't need the resulting Boa Boys, they are just the byproduct of an extensive study in which the line between undead and abdead is to be understood.

*"abdead" using the term from China Miéville here as to define an animated corpse that isn't powered by necrotic energies , instead magic is used to restart and maintain its biologys.

Boa Constructor:
A vast snake with a maw full of clever hands. Makes itself a very important figure via trade and specialized construction, as to provide for its vast appetite

Encounters with Young Forms  (and pretty much in the text already)

1. Xanthic Snake: A series of brutal forest traps designed to isolate and maim , so allowing the Xanthic to gorge easily.

2.  Pavonated Snake :As above but instead of maiming, the trapped are then engaged in attempts at conversations and attempts at bargaining.

Griseous and older , expanded upon:
3 A mysterious shop sells strange and complex weaponry.   Examples are a thing like a elongated zither that will snap one of its metal strings like a bull whip, or one which resembles the fiendish child of a sextant and a scythe that will launch sharpened discs slicing through the air. Each weapon requires unique ammunition and this shop is the only place where these can be found.

4 In the treasure horde of some fabled beast lies a suit of armour. Constructed of starmetals, dragonbone, and the rarest of nights gold, it however is currently ripped nearly asunder. The construction of the armour is such that only by finding the original creator could there be any hope of seeing it repaired and modified to fit another. Spoiler Alert :  The creator is a giant snake with arms for teeth : o

5 Have a major villain or obstacle to the pc have custom armour, but if you can find the snake and bribe it , you will learn its weaknesses, Snake in question has "retired"  , having reached its maximum size and build a palace for itself.

6 Final Form of a Boa Constructor : so when they reach their maximum size a Boa Constructor will retire to its elaborate custom made palace. However this palace is actually a  womb  , factory and massive egg. It will slowly dismantle the Boa Constructor  painstakingly peeling nerves from muscles, etc, and then interlace the nerves unto a new massive frame of rubber, silk , steel , and wax.
The muscles are then attached to an engineering nightmare of levers, cogs, pulleys, and chains.

After an entire century the palace egg will hatch, revealing a Boa constructor the size of a castle and more mechanics than snake. Its frail flesh now spread like a fine web through out its bespoke colossus.

This Boa Constructor Omega will find an city that has is the right mix of vulnerability and viable potential. One that's relatively easy to take over ,  but still has the potential to  become a cultural mecca with a giant robotic snake running it.
This final form is less interested in food as it is knowledge, any city it runs will soon become renowned* for its libraries and universities

*I mean the MechaBoaConstructor overlord will likely be the first thing mentioned in conversation but the next thing is going to be the libraries and universities

Tuesday, 2 June 2020

Velvet Hooks: Bedlam Birds and The Blathering Bird

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It continues!
Also this book has a lot of birds in it, I'm not sure if it was because I happened to have included a disproportionate amount of birds in the images I gave Patrick , or if its because the birds that were in it were very personable.
Regardless , here's 2 more of them .

Bedlam Birds
Horrible skull headed malevolences , possessed a fiendish cunning, excellent mimicry and an inexplicable ability to always know if they are watched. Everybody hates  them

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already
1.An isolated settlers cabin, barricaded , parents insane* , their kids trying their best to tend to them.  The kids will let the players in to help , but only if they can see them (they've learned to never trust only what they can hear). They will describe laughing long skulls in the dark and beg the party to save them from them.
2. A village will enlist the party to hunt down some graverobbing, church desecrating, cultists. It's actually a Malignity** of Bedlam Birds
3.(hex filling/encounter) Two bands of long feuding armies are seen working closely together  , searching for the Bedlam Birds that have bedeviled them both. However Bedlam Birds are staying just out of reach and each night will mimic the voices of each , crudely trying to manipulate them to turn on each other
4.A search mission the players are on can be exacerbated by Bedlam Birds following them and mimicking the voices of whoever the party is looking for
Original Content Please Use
5.The ability of Bedlam Birds to always know when they are being watching , is tantalizingly potent ability. Alas as the Bedlam Bird will never co-operate , it is effectively useless for anyone else. However a Wizard and talented Psilord has attempting to isolate the ability , and will pay vast sums of money to anyone who can bring them to him alive.
6.So that Psilord? He was trying to turn Bedlam Birds into a fleshy tube with the bare minimum of brain and an eyeball that would blink when spyed upon. In his attempt to do so something went very very wrong and no further communications have come from his tower. So there's a whole tower of value just sitting there now , with nothing but it's wards, two dozen Bedlams Birds, a bunch of things that used to be Bedlams Birds, other lab experiments, and whatever happened to the Psilord and his apprentices.

* the book doesn't give a duration of the insanity, but let's assume healing magics or abilities of level 3 or higher can cure it.
** the collective noun

The Blathering Bird
A bird that would be renowned for its powers of retention and recall, if it wasn't even more well known for never shutting up .

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already
1. (hex filler/encounter) a Blathering Bird on route between one settlement to another. Useful in the sense that it can lead you to the next settlement and give you news about the last one, less usefully in the sense it will never shut up and attract additionally encounters.
 Expanded upon greatly
2.The most obvious one is to have the Blathering Bird know something the party wants to know. The way to make getting that information interesting  is to require the Blathering Bird to have its memory "jogged" . I.e physically escorting it through the series of locations and events that lead to it getting the information desired in the first place. 

3.A prison has Blathering Birds kept in cages above the prisoners communal area, as form of torture, surveillance, and mental disruption. At the end of the day the Blathering Birds are moved to a communal cage . There they are looked after by individuals saint like in their patience, who record in short hand anything new the Birds have learned, before committing it in longhand  for the overseers of the prison. But this routine has been disrupted by the sudden murder of one the Bird-tenders and the theft of his log book from his home (off site from the prison). The Crown Jewels had been stolen a month previous to this event, could one of the thieves involved be currently serving time for a unrelated crime? Does one of the Birds know? How do you go about finding the one Bird that does know? 
Original Content Please Use
 4. Villages spread out along dusty badlands that use Blathering Birds as a way of keeping up to date have send notice to royal authority that Birds are coming back to their village , completely unwillingly to talk about what they've seen. The location and timing of the reports is suggestive of something moving towards more populated areas. There are now concerns.

5.Blathering Birds are actually good defenses against some forms of telepathy, as their brains are the equivalent of very loud white noise generator 

6.A technique has been developed to store information in Blathering Birds and have it not recalled until the correct conditions are met.
 The  technique involves subjecting the Blathering Birds to a very bright, very loud , very sudden piece of theatre. The piece must around 3 minutes in length and cannot be mere chaos, it must have characters, plots, character arcs, and a resolution, all while using unique music and costumes.
At the exact middle of this , everything is stopped, and the information is clearly stated  to the Blathering Bird. Then the piece continues til its resolution. The Bird will be so overwhelmed , so interested in everything , it won't be able to know which bit to talk about first, and it will immediately have a fit. Once it has recovered from the fit it will have formed a "mnemonic cyst" around the information. It will be unable to recall any of it , unless its exposed to the exact same piece of theatre again, in which case it will blurt out the information at the half way mark.

Monday, 25 May 2020

Velvet Hooks: Atrocious Crows, Azul

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More hooks from and for Fire On The Velvet Horizon

Atrocious Crows: 
Walking birds with a depressive call,  capable of scouring humanity from the inflicted and leaving only amoral marauders. 

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already:
1Their feathers "eat" light, valuable to make into exceptional thieves cloak , shield and contain objects of dangerous radiance
2.In the darkest cells of the royal dungeon , is a circular pit lined with Atrocious Crow cages. Spies, conspirators to regicide, and holders of the old faith are sentenced  to  being lowered down into this pit for a precise amount of time; enough to experience despair  but not long enough to become an Atrous-man
3. A land has become lost , blustering villages and tight knit towns have become empty , home only to the passing bands of atrous-men.
4. (hex filler) A lone very tall , very hallow pine, with a dozen atrous men living  inside it, surrounded by a mire* of Atrocious crows. One used to be a legendary sage who knows things no other knows. But which and how to get him to willing to recall the knowledge?
5. (hex filler) The sound of manically rung church bell and loud festive music can be followed to reveal wedding under siege by Atrocious Crows, lead by multiple Empty-Men. While some of the wedding party are now catatonic and huddled under tables, the majority have holed up inside the church. They have  boarded up the windows and doors, and are drowning out the caws by ringing the bell and playing festive music as loud as they can. For now they are managing to keep it up, having had to improvise several instruments broken from the extended playing, but it is unlikely they will outlast the bitter patience of the Empty Men
Greatly Expanded Upon
6.The Atrous-men command the Crows with language unknown to all but dismissed as mere noise. However rare samples of a written form of it exist. Further more records of a collapsed ancient empire refer to a book written in this language, and the book was seen as valuable enough to ruin this empire in the attempt to obtain it.

*the collective noun of Atrocious Crows is a "Mire"

Blazing bugs carried to earth on thunderbolt, doomed to die unless they can once again climb skyward.

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already:
 1.Clouds are hives for Azul. And like bee hives, there's a honey "Phlogiston". It's extreme dangerous, unstable , and somewhat counter-intuitively, valuable
2.<encounter> A frantic Azul chasing a storm , leaving a burning swathe behind it
3. If you need to get a sky-palace , storm fortress, or cloud garden the least feasible and practical  way is to find a downed Azul, wait until its latched onto a lightning bolt, and ride it , as it rides itself, back into the sky. However such a dangerous and nigh inconceivable plan has one thing for it, who would think to guard against such a fool's quest?
4. "Its ghostly organs are worth incalculable sums" The containment measures to keep it fresh and puissant are also a considerable amount  , but what interests us today is the damage  unleashed if they are tampered, and the gathered auction crowd present who would be subject to their damage, and that's about where the job offer begins to your p.cs
5. The lives of the storm and the Azul are linked. If an Azul can be captured and maintained beyond its own to do ,  then its storm will also be maintained. A storm that does not end can become a significant problem.
 Original content please use
6."Perhaps as the Azul lives in the air, once long ago its ancestors swarm within the earth and stone." Well turns out those weird rock echoes of the Azul aren't  its ancestors, they are its parallels in stone rather than sky. And while the Azul moves at a lightning pace, these earthen brethren , move at geologic pace. A matter of mere academic interest?  
Well it would be but a particular academic , whose particular unhinged, happens to be investigating what happens if you cast a lot of haste spells on one. Other more reasonable minds are very concerned about this , and are looking for a rag-tag band of resourceful individuals to find him before some new mountain ranges start popping up.

Sunday, 10 May 2020

Velvet Hooks : Anemone Men , Ants Of Neutrality

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 I continue to see write hooks for Velvet Horizon, using what I can find in the text and making shit up when I can't
Anemone Men:
The long dreaming polyp men with deadly soporific stings.

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already:
1.Guards: to counteract the advantage that could be had by observing their sessility and making preparations , they could be placed after a flooded tunnel connecting two rooms via pools in their corner. Thus preventing easily electrocuting , burning , smoking them out or starting combat with a volley of missile fire.
2.Their Venom as a cure for Insomnia: Either tasked or hired to find one and getting the venom , or a  character is afflicted by a magic curse of sleeplessness.
3. Looking for someone who was looking for the venom: An important npc known to suffer  from insomnia was last known to be seeking out the Anemone Men before they disappeared, possible due to getting knocked out by them and is now asleep in a damp cave somewhere.
Greatly expanded on
4. The "blue world" that surviours of the venom report dreaming of , turns out to be a pocket dimension , in which has been hidden secrets to the true nature of the world. The world is not without its guards and obfuscations though.A successful trip to the world hinges on finding and interviewing surviours of the venom to piece together a map of the blue world.
5.(wandering encounter) An Anemone Men has ripped the eyes out of some poor soul, and has approached the party seeking their aid in returning the eyes to the being who apparently survived but fled.  The eyes appear to be made entirely of precious stones with near inconceivable level of craftmanship
Original content please steal
6.A city is suffering from a sleeping plague ,where-in people sometimes fail to wake , and remain in deep dreams, seemingly in distress.  The cause is a village of Anemone Men has moved into tunnels that feed into the towns aquifer , and thus their chemicals have tainted the water.

Ants Of Neutrality :
grumpy little legal minded conformists

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already:
 1. Wilderness encounter: the terrain becomes increasingly ordered and geometric , leading to the nest of the ants of neutrality.

2.Collecting the ants for use as magic-suppressing device

3.Someone valuable to the party has disappeared while riding a horse ,very drunk.  The horses returning home with very very neat braids suggests  the Ants have captured said person and will soon put them to trail.

Greatly Expanded upon
 4 A design for a powerful anti-chaos weapon requires Ants of Neutrality , a device somewhat like copulating of a sextant , a cannon, and a prism. The design has 2 versions. One which the ants antennas are mashed to a pulp and boiled down to crystallize. The weapon shines the light of order through the crystal which acts as lens. This is the lesser version. The greater version involves having an entire nest peacefully living inside the machine. But this requires obtaining a nest and transporting it without stressing the Ants by exposing them to chaotic engine, or they won't survive the trip.

Original Content please steal:
5.A powerful chaotic force is contained behind a vast vault door, with some of the locking mechanism by the presence of a hive of Neutral ants. However recent events in the city have exposed them to a form of chaotic engine the terms of their contract don't cover. So they are claiming breach of contract and will be leaving soon, resulting in the vaults integrity being compromised
 6.The Ants of Neutrality, a minor nuisance of the Mute-Chalk Plains, are freaking out like the proverbial canary in the goldmine,  suggesting a vast chaotic event is nigh.  By comparing the degree of freaking out the direction of said event can be determined , and thus giving the first clue.

Sunday, 3 May 2020

Velvet Hooks

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The post kickstarting doings are being done at a steady pace , the country is beginning to ease the social restrictions , and I have for you a new blog post series that will hopefully keep things regular around here.

This new series entails my favourite  (un)dead horse , Fire On The Velvet Horizon and giving you hooks for using all the monsters.

But before that , a quick note about the process of the book:
I gathered a range of art I had done, in a broad of a way as I could manage, including finished pieces with barely started, pieces I loved, and pieces I was embarrassed by . Patrick then respond to the ones he responded to, and sent me the writing, which I might accept, suggest changes or additions, and  in a couple of times reject.
One of the desired outcomes of the text , to which I made suggestions in aid of , was that there would be obvious hooks on how to use the monster.

So this series will also mean I will revisit that goal  and see how well it accomplished it.
I will note which hooks , to me, seemed easy to draw from the text , and which ones I'm in fresh territory. 

The slug that uses civic law as its invincible shield

Hooks that are pretty much in the text already:
1. The Abhorrer has purchased an enslaved genius , the only one capable of solving the vast hyperdimensional locks protecting the vaults of the treasure moons. The Abhorrer will have them counting sand until their wits fail them.

2.The party reaches a city of renown for its wisdom and love of justice in order to seek the aid of their armies. However an Abhorrer has twisted its way into the courts of the city , and has snared up the courts with endless petty cases. Its poisonous presence hasn't yet sunk the cities leaders into apathetic cynicism, but each passing days is a drop of corrosion on their vigor and virtue.

3.To rid itself of an Abhorrer , a city has collapsed into sheer bloody anarchy , the courts aflame , open warfare between a dozen or more factions filling the streets. However the Abhorrer has hidden itself , like an encysted parasite in rotten flesh. The party is tasked to find it and kill it, at risk from rioters,overly zealous military, or any number of factions liable to mistake them for their rivals.

4. Another city seeks the path of law to rid an Abhorrer. While the Abhorrer is physically protected by law, and evidence of its wrong doing inaccessible through legal means, its powers won't be able to protect that evidence from extra-legal means, i.e the party. The relevant civil authoritys can't be official connected to the party or be shown to have directly  hired them , but through use of catspaws, anonymous drops, and arranged  "accidents" the parties services can be directed and rewarded. 

  Original material please steal:
5.  In a sinking city, one whose new buildings lay foundation on the roofs of old, a vast case against an Abhorrer is being made.  Ancient books of law must be obtained from ancient archives deep down in the old city. Among the dangers of mammoth book lice, guardians demented with age, and demi-real book beings,Abhorrer hired mercenary,  are the undead librarians zealously punishing anyone breaking the silence.  Also for your Library megadungeon needs

6. A small frontier town begins to be able to pay adventurers/the party to clear out monster lairs, establish trails and merchant routes, etc. The Burgomaster funding it is actually a front for Abhorrer  , keen to have a metropolis grown up around it.


Weird beings from a microworld. Masked , social and flanged.

 pretty much in the text
 1. An Aeskithete curator , buys art and books , pays with unusual materials  .

Hooks in the text , greatly expanded upon
2 . A vast and ruinous war might be coming to an end, if a facilitator of impeccable ability and complete neutrality can found. To that end , the party will be offered a significant reward to be magicked to the microworld of the Aeskithetes, brave the dangers there, and convince an Aeskithete to abandon its peers, and its entire generation in order to secure a lasting peace.

3. The true heir to a throne was absconded by usurpers. While the usurpers have been ousted , the heir is still missing, and it is unlikely stability can be found without them. An investigation of the possessions of the former usurpers points towards the incredibly impossibility of the heir being trapped on their own skin. Aeskithetes must be found and recruited to allow such a impossible journey.. Note that some contrivance must be order to allow the heir to still be alive, despite time passing quicker in the micro world. The heir might now be ruling a new kingdom or have sired a dynasty.

   Original material please steal:
4 World destroying events are a foot  .Meteors, vast artifacts falling from the  sky, unpredictable changes in the atmosphere. A mad solution is advanced. Find the magics that allow the Aeskithetes to expand into (for them) the marcoworld  and use them to ascend up to the marcomarcoworld and adjust the events directly

5. Books sculpted from keratin indicate the presence of Aeskithete library.  One is a catalog and it lists many otherwise lost tomes of civilization altering knowledge. The colour of the keratin is distinctive and if one  can find the being whose hair matches this colour, then one can likely find this library.

6.A character is struck by magically irrevocable wound or disease. But! Help shows up in an Aeskithete from the characters very skin, their civilization foreseeing the end , sending one of their own to bring their host unto the hosts very skin and do battle with the source of infection directly!  

Friday, 10 April 2020

A Jewel of the Internet

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Have you ever seen a cover from Amazing Stories, Spicy Detective , Weird Tales or Scientific American and thought "Cor, this is the real shit, why do I not know who did this? Why are galleries and modern book covers are full of trash when there are such guiding lights to follow?

Like this piece by C B Coby
Well I can't answer the second question (my suspicion is the world is vast engine of suffering) and because I  phrased it badly  I can't answer the first one either, But what I can do is point you towards this website: 

Which has a metric fucktonne of artists listed, with extensive biographies and examples of their art.
It took me about 8-10 hours to look through them all and that was with mostly ignoring all the cowboy and sports adventure art.

I assume most of these  are now public domain , but more importantly some of the pieces I've seen around with no credit can have a name  , and more works can be easily be found of that artist.

The creator and maintainer of this website have done THE  WORLD a massive service with this site.
 I am so in awe of the amount of art and artist that could of been forgotten or at least unknown to me , had it not existed.

The rest of this post is going to be featuring some of my favourites from the site.
This selections is due to them having at least one of the following qualities:
 "goofy charm" , "endearingly deranged" "breaks all the rules but, by god, it works", "craftsmanship at sublime level" "delightfully imaginative" "Amazing Style)
(In case you though pulp art could only be one of those)

Allen Anderson
 (Goofy Charm)
Allen Anderson
 (nothing crazy but craftsmanship at sublime level)(but also the trumpet and the alien noses are a mix of goofy charm / delightful imaginative) 
 (Breaks all the rules but , by god, it works)
 (this depiction of a vampire is interestingly corrupt so Delightfully Imaginative) 
(Amazing Style)

 (the last picture is also from the story At The Mountains of Madness. The first picture is of the Great Race of Yith)

 (Endearingly Deranged)


 Can we just have a moment to reflect on the body language and poise of this character and how it shows their temperament , age, and degree of skill with the blade?  And how much coiled energy exists in its depiction of stillness?


Like Western as genre has basically zero appeal for me , but I recognise art when I see it

 (That's the story that became the movie THE THING by the way. Also Hannes Bok is an artist you might be more familiar with their weird block geometry monsters from rpg blogs that love weird pulp artists. This sites collection shows a transition of Bok from more conventional (but still striking ) to their own distinctive style.

A Leslie Ross
 (Craftmanship at a sublime level and also I did check out some of the cowbow art)


Clarence Doore