Tuesday, 27 December 2016

you are on fire but like gravity fire

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF

" 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


  1. The thing with the snakes is that you are working with a meaning economy. You can't just produce snakes to eat - that's intentless. You have to have an intent, that this tribe must eat for they are of the chosen. And THAT doesn't get you off the hook, because it raises the question of if they are chosen - if no, so you art condemned for your heresy. If you have no intent, then then the thing goes bs insane - how things go, which is to say how you will be judged, will be far worse than the prior heresy, for intentlessness is to have no commitment across a spectrum, which is heresy across a spectrum.

    Basically you take it on like an old testament god - where you're always wrong, always beaten no matter what you do (but it always appears for a reason that comes from a greater unfathomable reason), until you enter a controllable state of learned helplessness.

  2. #UnderRated #Revolutionary

    "There is no separate Elemental plane they are all just folded into this one"

    The Elementals will tell you that they have their own Pure, Supreme Planes, and these extend in Elemental-directions, and they converge with their Rivals and intersect to make the Material. From the Material, you have to divine toward Fire, then travel in the Fire direction to encounter more Fire (Vespers in heated hills -> Mephits in broken, hot vents -> tribes (I like Salamander-people) and lil' Elementals in magma fields & volcanoes -> Mag-Men and big Elementals deep in Lavaland).

    I saw this when published, but having only 2 comments wasn't right! Good stuff.