Friday 28 December 2018

Veins Of The Earth Cultural Specific Murder Objects

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I asked for some fantasy races people wanted me to speculate some weapons for and numerous Veins Of The Earth cultures came up.

And funnily enough I had done some sketches for some spitting balling an EON ago.


unfortunately I've lost any notes I wrote about what the fuck these do

It's the knife with the creepy antenna fingers.
I think it stabbed you in the feelings as well as the meat and could feel out your thoughts about it

This was human spine cord with the brain partially replaced with skull cup of knives. It shot hate at people I guess? I think it did something better than that like it pumped self destructive intrusive thoughts and suicidal impulses into you?

 all I got for these guys is my concept sketches for their knights armour


The Dvagir got something like predecessor to the Old Mate except its more of a hook and has this handy eye so one Dvagir can stick a vector hook and a bunch of them can then pull on an attached rope and gut something open.
Or use then as anchors, exoskeleton removing levers , picks etc.
Good luck trying to read that writing on the picture.
The first picture was me trying to come up with these multitool climbing shapes.

Some pictures of these bows made it into the book, but here's some me developing the idea 

  Also I think there was some kind of nightmare axe that was made up of dreams of axes? Fuck I wish I could find the notes for these
No idea what my idea for that spear was

These had these modular spears that could be assembled into pikes from single spears and then dissembled again.
Spears would be a mini-submarine sized liability to carry around underground but if you had them there then they would rather effective.
Consider a tunnel that opens up into a larger one. The larger one contains a dozen gnomen with long spears. Anyone trying to make through is going to have to be literally crawling up spears to get their.

The other idea was a Resonator , a stone bell tongue that could cause destructive and lingering vibrations in rigid matter. Additional it could be used for seismic solid body sonar.

It's a flat tear drop shaped club made from some hard stone like malachite, greenstone or serpentine.
Its edge has groove in which are attached (via fish glue) various teeth.
These can either be loosely attached to break off in a wound (sometimes with poison) or to a permanent fixture, especially ones from powerful or significant enemies.
The choice of teeth can be used communicate a wide range of cultural insults  , the most obvious is embedding the teeth of an enemy ancestors into their own flesh.

Underwater the No-Swallow Jaw are used with jabs and pull-tears. Swings are only really effective out of water.

The 100 sting spear is just a lot of barbs and stings from various venomous animals at the end of a bone shafter. Like a poison cluster bomb.

Saturday 15 December 2018


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 I was being shady/fucking hilarious about 3rd edition recently by referring to the above as "3rd edition
 art not aging well"
but honestly, I think it should be celebrated for pulling off (relatively) an iconic , classic but new ,and energized art direction.
Which did involve a lot of pencil diagrams done in a Leonardo da Vinci style , practical looking straps that weren't that practical because placement and sheer multitude, and fucking double weapons.
The Worst. The absolute fucking worst .

 But look, the intentions behind double weapons were good. 
Some weird shit that you could get for your character at the start that made it felt fantastic but "street level" fantastic. 
(I mean this aesthetic did wind up being called "dungeonpunk" )

 So I'm going to make my suggestions for better alternatives of "street level" fantastic

Actual Weapons:
 (the """east""" is generally the source for non-standard weapons but it's a jank if there's anomalous weapon names like "kama" or "tetsubo" in between conventionally named  guisarmes, gladius , zweihanders, arbalests , bec de corbins, dorys, javelins, bills and shillelaghs. Wait what was the point I was making?)

I guess these should/could ""balance"" via price and availability. Weapon proficiencys and specializations has never really been great so fuck that. Maybe that can be the swan song g+ hive mind secretions; a weapon proficiency system that's not character sheet busy work or build fodder.

it's a throwing axe but it bounces  alarmingly when it misses due to its weird protuberances,  according to several youtubers and a history channel show. That's good enough for me , I mean ring mail was a thing in d&d for a while right?
Mechanically its a throwing axe that on a miss resolves a new attack (with no modifiers) on a random opponent within half the range the axe was thrown.

3 section staff:
This is straight up kung fu weaponry but look I don't even follow my own rules and you think I'm going to make it the end of this without including a tetsubo you are new here.
3 section staffs are batshit ,so the fumble range is 1-2 instead of 1. On the result of a fumble it always inflicts its unmodified damage on the user in addition to whatever else happens. However when attacking with a 3 section staff , the attacker ignores any dex or shield modifiers to the armour class of whoever they are attacking. Its damage is a 1d8 (assuming staves are doing a d6)

Sword catchers:
Including Sai and Jitte here, as well as all the fancy looking renaissance ones.
Counts as shield when fighting an opponent with a melee weapon.  Additionally the opponent is  disarmed if they roll a 1,2,3 on their attack roll against the user of the sword catcher (If they roll a 1 they also fumble). Does damage as a dagger  

Like a  2-handed sword but with ambitions of being an axe . Damage as 2 handed axe or sword, but if it hits and rolls minimum for damage , a shield, piece of armour or regular weapon being used by the opponent is damaged.

There's been darts floating around d&d for awhile and no-ones sure if they were meant to be literal darts,kunai ,  mini-javelins , or these "lawn dart" things called plumata. If they were meant to be plumata the rate of fire seems a bit odd (3 per round for 1st edition if I remember correctly)
These ones do a d4 , have a shorter range than other throwing weapons but can be lobbed directly above a group of 3 or more. 
In which case a random member of the group takes the damage from it (with no attack needed)

Ball and Chain:
I saw these on Ultimate warrior and they looked  like a right laugh. It's like throwing like a non-chomping chain chomp.
Make an unmodified attack roll against everyone in the direction you throw this, until you get a hit or run out of targets. Does a d10.

Classic Fantasy Peoples and Their Weapons:
I think 3rd edition gave everyone their own double weapon. Wack. Anyway here is my attempt to make something that would happen with the conditions these demihumes lived in

Dwarven "old mate"
(the dwarvish translates to "the friend you are always glad see but isn't a beer" )
It looks like a short crowbar/pinch bar (just under a foot) with the claw longer and on a flatter angle and with a slight lateral flare to the tip. The opposite end has the chisel on a shallower angle and with a sharper terminal edge. One of side edges is also kept sharp. It often has an "eye" e.g a hole for threading a rope.
 It's proportioned to work as pick,hammer, trowel, wedge, chisel, spike, lever, climbing aid and grapple, and in dwarven hands maybe substituted for any other needed tool in some kind of improvised shenanigan situation.
In addition , on a successful attack roll (d6 damage btw) instead of doing damage it maybe used to lower the armour class of plated, exoskeleton , mineral or mechanic opponent by 2.
I've been up all night and now I'm editing this for typos etc and I still can't decide how much this armour class lowering can happen so dunno? Once? Not lower than 10?

Elven Lessoning Spear
A spear crafted from a tree that has been carefully messed up to give it a series of weaknesses running on an angles to the shaft. It other wise appears to be a polished wooden spear with only a slanted point and no edge.  It does a d4 damage instead of d6.
When stuck into someone and then twisted in a certain way, about 2 centimetres of the spear break off inside the muscle. The snap happens so the remaining spear has another perfect point  (each break being an obtuse triangle, similar to a boxcutter).  If time and care is available a point can be removed for 1 damage, if time is not available 1d4 damage (i.e you just stick your fingers in there and pull)

For each point still in someone : whenever they take a physical action requiring a roll (stat check, save, attack roll) they either take their choice of 1 point of damage or -1 to that roll.

Some rarer Lessoning Spears are made from poisonous woods.

Orc Axe Helmet
It's a helmet that's also an axe so you can do more damage when you are head-butting or trying to bite your opponents face . Can be used to make an additional attack (doing a d6) but the regular attack (also can't be using weapon longer than sword) and this attack will be at a Disadvantage and they are assumed to be already in range for a grapple attempt

Halfling Bastard Pipe:
A pipe heavy enough to be used a life preserver and can function as blow dart pipe, the first dart handily already poisoned by the nicotine build up.  Can also generate a small smoke screen

Gnome Whirlygig:
A large spinning top with blades attached. Do you have caltrops rules? It does that against a random opponent within a 3 metre diameter circular area where it was aimed.

Increasingly Weird Fantasy Peoples Suggested To Me on G+ and I want to get this done already so not bothering including mechanical suggestions

Centaur :
Centaur Staff: Centaurs are going to want to not have to bend down to pick stuff up so having a long staff with a scoop attached would be something they eventually would put together . The other end has a Y at the end for pinning snakes.
The Scoop end can be use lacrosse style to throw a projectile alarmingly fast, especially when combined with full gallop.

Mucus Grenado 
Hagfish slime is made up of these weird folded protein chains that expand when you try and wash it off. This is like that but worse , basically acting as a personal grease spell that makes enough slime to start suffocating you if you try and get it off by scrapping or washing it with water. Alcohol or vinegar is the way to go. It's delivered by throwing a knotted and fermented hagfish at you. : (

A hinge joint like the top of the femur or humerus with 4-8 cm of the bone sharpened into a spike. The marrow has been poured/scrapped out.
Then the space inside the bone further expanded.
This is to make room for a concoction of fermented fat, leftover marrow, certain herbs.
Then its capped off with a mixture of rabbit pellets, tar and fat.

This hearty mix serves both as ration source for gnolls and a way of giving people lethally infected wounds.

Gnolls that have been eating well and often, can have up to a dozen of these.
 As they are a food store and wasting food is anathema to gnolls , they only tend to use them in the following situations:
:bring down very big game , with the komodo dragon tactic of "infect and follow"
:in a series of methodical  harassing attacks , with the intention of exhausting and whittling down resistance , especial when the food that can fight back is protecting a bigger quantity of food, e.g a entrenched village militia defending their non-combatants and farm animals .
:right before fleeing a losing/not one sided enough battle, one where there's enough potential reward , that's it worth regrouping and coming back later

Chisel ended spears with a full metal haft that are used for Snailman vs Snailman conflicts. They are jammed into the shell and then brutally levered to propagate cracks.

They do a d8 damage but have damage disadvantage against things without exoskeletons or shells.
Against things with exoskeletons or shells they do d8 damage  and the next round after a successful hit they make their next attack roll ignoring any armour class other than dexterity modifiers and the like, and the weapon damage increases to a d10.

Radula Shield:
Something like a cheese grater made into a tower shield . It allows the user to attack without the penalty associated with using a tower shield, and inflicts a d6 damage. Some are equipped with a rope and can be swung at range,  inflicting damage from the sidelong blades cutting as the shield is pulled back and little from the initial impact.

Aquatic Elves: 
A hollow bone, shell or coral shaft like an oversized hypodermic needle , with some kind of bladder (seaweed or animal in origin) at one end.
They come in 3 sizes; a 30 cm close fighting one, a metre long skirmishing one, and metre and half sniping one.
They all are called Cnida-glaive , but technically the middle length one is the glaive, the shortest one is the Cnida-Spur and the longest one a Cnida-Lance
As well as straight up stabbing , squeezing the bladder can be used to launch darts (both in air and water) .
Darts are commonly repurposed  sea urchin spines and so can be barbed and/or poisonous.
Darts can be fired immediately after stabbing, lodging them very deep in the poor bastard so stabbed.
In a pinch the user can just pump air or water after stabbing someone , causing additional rupturing especially to something like a lung.
By squeezing the bladder before stabbing with the cnida-glaive and the releasing it once its penetrated , it can used to suck out a flotation gas or acidic slime or some other vital fluid in a monstrous adversary.

ThriKreen :
 Someone suggested ThriKreen and they already got their gythka and chatkcha.
Which sure, are goofy but goofy in some kind of freewheeling 80s barbarian movies way so it's hard to dislike them.
The only thing I'm going to add is they would have bola. It's kinda boring so maybe they have bola made from ant-heads or something

Bird People:
A bundle of dozen or more short spears with rudimentary fletching. Not able to be effectively thrown, instead dropped or dive bombed, the Cloudburster then separating into its component spears, peppering the area.

The damage done and the area effected depends on how far the Cloudburster travels before hitting things (no attack roll needed, ref save for half damage) 
Distance Traveled|  Dmg | Area affected
4 Metre Drop | 2d8 Dmg | 1 metre sq
8 Metre Drop | 2d6 Dmg | 2 metre sq
16 Metre Drop |1d8 Dmg | 4 metre sq
20 Metre Drop | 1d6 Dmg | 8 metre sq

A razor sharp disc at the end of a rope, like murderous yoyo.
The disc shape means it has little chance of getting hooked or stuck, as the intention is something that can be used in swoop attacks, striking quickly at any momentary exposed areas.
No real excited mechanics here, it does  d6 damage and counts as a ranged weapon , despite returning to user after striking.

Mind Flayer:
use other species as tools , so weapons would be other species. Manchurian candidates basically.

Very long , very slender , spears that multiple ettercaps can use at once, slowly moving it through the foliage from a concealed position until its within a breath from an unaware opponent before impaling in a blink.
When not in use Whisper break apart into smaller parts , like a tent pole.
The parts of the Whisper are hollow as it is made from giant spider legs, reverently gathered and shaved down to the bare structural minimum.

The hollow aspect to it means that it can deliver poison, either via stabbing or  blowing it down it , as if it was a giant straw,   dropping poison into a sleeping mouth , ear or exposed food.

The other use of it being hollow gives it is namesake ; it can be used to get a victims attention by speaking down it, getting them to turn towards the source of the noise , exposing an eye or throat to quick impalement.

Whispers are too laterally brittle to be used in combat, and ettercap will never do so, fleeing to conceal the Whisper safely if nessacery.

A Whisper can be a maximum of 10 metres long, (which will require at least 2 ettercaps to use, otherwise a single ettercap can manage). It will do 3d6 damage , however if
1 ettercap is using it reroll 6s
2 ettercap are using it reroll 1s
3 ettercap are using it reroll 1 and 2s
4 ettercap are using it reroll 1,2 and 3s. 

Tabaxi :`
(cat people)
Victory Crest:
A woven wicker shield reinforced with bones.
In the weave is set the claws taken from defeated rivals, giving the shield a ripping attack.
A Victory Crest does from 1d3 damage to d8 damage depending on how many claws have been included.

Friday 23 November 2018

Hungry Sun

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF  Here is a more detailed example of what I was talking about in the Bad ideas with Legs post

 Man Panther (fighter with wizard spell mechanics)
Hitpoints & attack bonus as fighter, can only use weapons of obsidian, tooth, bone, silk and wood.
Get "Sacred Leaps", special fighting maneuvers  and spiritual directions that are treated like spells, though most happen simultaneously with an attack.

 (example of 1st level Sacred Leaps)
Red Haze:
 Everyone the Man Panther want to hurt badly glows with a red light. Duration as Light spell.

Thirst :
The Man Panther moves double their full movement and does their melee attack against an wounded opponent

Butterfly Step:
Immediately after missing an attack the Man Panther makes a new attack against any other enemy within there near melee range.

Screaming Weapon:
The Man Panthers weapon screams continually causing fear 

Hunters Hide:
The Man Panther appears as middle-of-the-food-chain animal appropriate to this area. Duration as disguise self

Rot Kings:(wizard using specialized equipment lists)

Hit points and attack bonus as wizard.  Can use any armour or weapons
Collect , breed , and trade "entropys" (parasites. worms, vermin, stains, rust, frays, rot, blights etc). Keep in sacks, cloaks , headdresses. Socially function like a combination of exterminators, engineers, and the runners of protection rackets.

Flesh Locusts (as long bow)
Debridement (as Halberd) 
Night Terrors ( expensive and rare , multiple ranged attacks only useable from surprise)
Death Stink (as leather armour , and makes wearer repugnant to carnivores)
Blood Cough (as spear)
Earth Star (exploding fungus, as a grenado)
Lice (as dagger)

Itinerant Clerk: (clerics using thief skill mechanics)
Hit points and attack bonus as Cleric . No armour . Only tools for weapons.

Flay (as pick pocket but removes spiritual and physical protections)
Weather sense (as hear noise)
Bureaucracy (as move silently/ hide in shadows , but allows the following with supernatural beings of the current sun :bargain, make contracts , intimidate , bamboozle, and hold to their word )
Placate (as picklocks, calms and soothes disembodied hungers , mindless ghosts, and pooled malices)
Nourish (as climb walls, boost natural heal by feeding sacred foods)

Exiles: (thief's using cleric spell mechanics )
Hit points and attack bonus as Thief.  Can use any weapons or armour.
People who the Bureau-Engine-Priests has declared are reincarnated souls from the Previous Sun. Not officially human, thus unbound and unprotected by law.
Can bring forth fragments of the Previous Suns world;
( for example these spells)
1st level
Change self
Heal light wounds
Feather fall

Thursday 22 November 2018

Regular Card Game

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF The bigger post I got half written keep not getting written because the time and concentration needed to do them keeps being used on other things.
So y'all get the rules for this card game I've been playing a lot with my flatmates

It's a modification of game I learned in Melbourne that never had a good name ("Game of Threes ") and I've seen a few variation of .

The version we are playing has a notable enough extra bit we gave it a new and better name;

The aim of the game is to get all your cards out. (Thus giving you the title GILGAMESH) .

There can be 3-6 players, and it is played with everything but the jokers.
  1 deck is fine for 3 players , a bit tight for 4 players , and 2 decks is needed for anything higher.
2 decks is actually pretty good for 3-4 players as well.


Each player starts with a hand of 5 and 6 cards in front of them , with the remaining cards in a central deck.

The cards in front of the player are arranged with 3 cards face down and 3 cards face up , with the face up cards on top of the face down cards.

 Play starts from the left of the dealer.
This player chooses a card, or set of matched cards,  from their hand and places them in the centre (the "pile")

They then refill their hand.

Play goes to their left.


Play then consists of a player playing a legal card on the card/s pile and then refilling their hand if its less than 5. If they can't play a legal card they must instead pick up the pile and add it to their hand.

A legal play is playing any card equal or higher to the card on top of the pile.

Once the deck is gone, and players can no longer refill their hands , any player with no cards in their hand will use the cards face up in front of them, and when those are gone, .he face down cards.
The face down cards are played "blind", which might result in a illegal play, thus picking up the pile.
Once all their face down cards are played , they are out of the game.
First to do so is GILGAMESH , last is BEAST BOY or if you can pronounced it ENKIDU.


2 s can be played on any card and can have any card played on them.

5s can be played on any card ; however immediate next player card/s played on it must be legal for being placed on the card before the 5.
Additionally any other effects that previous card might have must still be considered

7s can be played on 6 or lower.  Any card played on a 7 must be either a 7 or lower than a 7.

10s can be played on anything except a 7.  A 10 will "burn" the pile, discarding it from play. Burning has additional special rules , see the BURNING section

4(or more) of a kind : burns the pile.  A 4 of kind does not need to be from a single players turn. The set just needs to be uninterrupted by other cards (other than 5s)

For example player A plays two 6s. Player B then plays two 6s. This is now a 4 of a kind.


A player who burns a pile , then refills their hand , and then can swap one card in their hand with one of the face up cards in front of them. They then play again, starting a new pile.


>When a player refills their hand and draws a card that matches the card they just played , they may immediately play it.

>Once the deck is empty and a player is playing the last card/s in their hand, they can include any of their face up cards if would make 2 (or more ) of a kind by matching the card played from their hand.

>5s don't prevent a 4+ of kind from forming. So a pair , a 5 , and then a pair of the same rank , is treated as 4 of a kind.

>if a player can play a card they must do so , they can't choose to pick up. However this has not yet come up that someone might want to do this , and it's possible a good choice in some situations. So you are welcome to allow it, we just haven't tested this out at all.

>the player that is BEAST BOY deals.  Sometimes we make them also be responsible for keeping the Burned pile tidy. Neither is that thematically appropriate though

The bit I added and we are now playing with is the bit about being able to swap a card after you burn the pile. In the original game players could freely swap from their hand to their top cards immediately after the cards were dealt but before the first card had been played.
This addition gives the early game a lot more considerations than just trying to avoid picking up lots of cards. I think I'm a fucking genius for thinking of it and its possible that I've been pre-scooped and this version exists already.

Wednesday 7 November 2018

Bad Ideas With Legs

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 I threw out an idea on the dimming but still alight g+  .
It was ridiculous idea but actually has more potential than I thought.

The idea is swapping the mechanics for how the classes work.

So fighters mediate and select their fight moves "magic missile" "light" etc
and wizards buy a halberd spell and use it.
Thieves steal "cure light wounds" and "sanctuary" from the gods in their sleep and clerics solemnly learn 45% Hear Noise from their hierophants and solemn tomes.

By frankensteining  around the raw mechanics , a different genre feel starts to happen.
(Although something more than just calling the halberd a "woeful finger" will need to be done)

Fighter "supreme techniques"/spells  as limited use encounter breakers starts becoming more wuxia

(though "limited use" isn't that common in Wuxia; it would have to be framed as Ultra taxing powers as opposed to the workaday cloudstepping and needle throwing)

Wuxia as a genre is extremely open to how much can be justified as possible via "chi" and "kung fu" technique so limited use supreme techniques could still include things like Charm person , Web and Phantasm force.

My favourite film "Swordsman 3: The east is red" features such abilitys as a ninja suspended in the air hiding behind a fake moon, sewing needles used to animate corpses, a dozen hearts exploded out of enemy goons simultaneous  (at range ) , a "laughing point" manipulated to cause compulsive laughter, disguises,  doves released from corpses upon death and a swordfish as flying carpet. It's a good time.

Wizards relying on equipment for power already has an easy form; in scrolls or calligraphy paper .
(the Palladium book "Mystic China" has some interesting magic based on this)
A greater range of abilities and power should be possible than what is normal for an equipment table, but it seems workable to me.

Thieves using mystic abilities could be added to a world as something elaborate as promethean thieves stealing powers from the gods themselves , or drawing from folklore such as the "hand of glory", "thieves oil" , protective talismans , or other superstitions and "one weird tricks".

This is more suggestive of component based casting than clerical powers, but that's not really a problem.

Further mixing it up could have the spells randomly determined and the player is required to explain their components and write them down, the spells become weaker if anyone else (including other players , not just characters ) knows the recipe.
Or the recipes could be learned as an item like reward.

Clerics having a set of skills instead of spells could be conceptualized as formal ghost hunters, exorcists,  Confucian scholars, or doctors.

Priests in folk stories tend to have a much narrower range of abilities than most spell lists (the "turn dead " ability is even already close to a thief ability)
A quick list from memory:
-banishing supernatural agents
-trapping said agents if they can tricked or convinced to enter a vessel
-casting out possession
-healing sickness, infertility, curses
-fertility (land /domestic animals/ people)
-weather prediction
-dispelling illusions/detecting of supernatural influence
-protective wards against disaster or ill intend
-assessing auspiciousness of dates , partnerships or signs
-lay dead to rest/ placating angered ghost or spirit

So using any of these as replacements for "pickpockets" and "find and remove traps" seems plausible to me.

The trick bit is how much to keep or modify hitpoints and attack bonuses . The thief and cleric seem similar enough in power that swapping or giving them the same seems fine to me . Though if you were using classic d&d having this priest having the lower hitpoints and attack bonuses makes more sense than a more robust bandit type.

For hitpoints /attack bonuses for the fighter and the wizard , I would keep them the same (maybe bounce the wizards hitpoints up a die), but have the wizards calligraphy magic ignore conventional armour a lot of the time.

Or have both classes having options to trade less hitpoints for more Special powers .

I'm still making slow progress on "plane scrap" , art is being done for DCO's re-release, I'm being commissioned for 2 other projects. The cyberpunk writing is still shelved for now and ditto Broken Fire Regime .

Me and Patrick made a zine and it's available now:

just remembered about some osr wuxia rpgs that its been awhile since I've read but I'm pretty sure had some ideas overlapping with this

Sunday 30 September 2018

Dwarves In Space

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF Warhammer 40,000 has orks, humans, demons and elves in space. 
The other fantasy classic dwarves (also hobbits?) exist as the "squats" a modified human race that were dropped out of production by Games Workshop and sidelined by the lore.

Something about Dwarves couldn't translate into Sci-Fi, possibly because two of the central aspects of dwarves ,industrialism and being underground, are eclipsed by the scale of outer space conflicts.

But is possible to have Dwarves in Space being Dwarvish?

I don't think you could add them now to Warhammer 40 K , as any new faction some amount of  Starcraft and/or Lovecraft to be taking seriously. 

However here's my attempt at a Space-Dwarves that would fit in the earlier 40K warhammer.

Their origins indicate they were human , descended from humans that left with slower than light travel.

From there they increasingly compromised their humanity for the advancement of technology and the requirements of space travel.

Eventually being able to survive and traverse blackholes  and making use of the super dense materials and energys they mine there.

 Their form is now inseparable from their pressure suits, the being inside a oily like mass of bio-slime and crude nano bots.

The requirements for their extreme existence have turned their society into one of absolute routine and conformity,  spending millennium maintaining and improving their ships, gathering materials, and drifting through space.

Their ships are like brutalist sculpture or soviet reactor.
(Center for the Performing Arts, Albany)

Divorcing themselves from imagination and frivolous individuality is one of their solutions to the threat of Chaos.

Their goals now is render the universe safe from chaos, which involves converting anything that chaos could invest into the equivalent of concrete dams, like the apocalyptic madness of "paperclip making AI".

While not having access to the warp , they claim to have outlasted the universe and seen it loop over , allowing them to have already traveled to where they need to be.

Their ships are undetectable and vast fleets can be calmly traveling at sub light speeds, having traveled millions of years to arrive just as another fleet arrives out of the warp.

Their technology and weapons would involve moduleness , gravity, magnetism , and weird time effects, weird materials, blackholes, super bullets and railguns.

Aesthetically drawing from any human like technology which looks threatening or overwhelming to human scale, so brutalism, big massive lines, hostile cubic detail.

Additionally add signs of pitting and crust from the vast ages of their craft.

The central ideas and required horribleness (warhammer)  would be the fear of technology and overly applied rationality to transform things into unrecognizable alienity, as well as fears of deep time, and the unblinking gaze of those hidden behind protective suits

(Arnaldo Pomodoro sculptures)

Saturday 25 August 2018

snares, ambuscade, and inveiglements

Print Friendly Version of this pagePrint Get a PDF version of this webpagePDF Look it's a game or a trend or something

and I have been mildly encouraged to join in! I am also mildly inclined to pay attention to what the criteria of a good trap is so ..

1. The Classic.
It's 10 by 10 metre square pit , smooth sided, and  deep enough that it would injure you to fall in it and it's hard to see the bottom with the lighting.  30 Metres  ?

It's not disguised, it's plainly there in the middle of the room. There is nothing in the bottom of it.
The odds are really good that your players will manage to spend a hour on this trap and resulting in at least one character badly injured.

2. Blood Stream
This section of corridor is partially flooded via a  fast flowing stream, very clear and fairly quick. Algae or some other slime has coated the submerged. The real danger is the concealed glass blades, spikes and caltrops  that are hidden here. Brushing past them will cut you , falling on them will impale you and trying to knock them out of the way will break them into smaller , but still sharp pieces.
Any resulting cuts or injurys have a high chance of infection because its down stream from a midden.
(if this trap is being used as defense rather than a fun house fuck you type deal , this will be a defense that scouts or sentry's will escape or fall back past, using stilts or a simple raft to get across.)

3.Statue Gallery
A looong winding tunnel filled up with statues in various poses, you have to  occasionally squeeze or clamber over them if you want to get through. Some statues appear crude and unfinished (or abandoned), others executed well. Mostly sandstone but some harder materials.  Creator has a good eye for movement and emotion, especially anger and sorrow.  Air is a bit stuffy though

4.Free Fall
Something is wrong with space here, there's no floor or  ceiling , and they effectively loop.
So something that falls through the fall comes out the ceiling, soon reaching terminal velocity .
A number of large rocks are doing this currently

5.Upper Crust
A boiling mud pool has a natural bridge of a thicker layer leading to a Obsidian Elephant Skull. It's heavy enough that if you try and carry it you will fall through the crust and into the mud.

6. Candle Snakes
An altar with unlit candles. The candles repeal undead when lit but have a snake skeleton inside. As the wax drips away the snake becomes noticeable. If it is burned much longer that snake bursts free and starts savaging the face of the holder.

These candles were made to allow junior archivist to access the archives, crypts , and mausoleums  but with strict time allowances.

Friday 3 August 2018

OSR and what to explain

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These definition of the OSR posts are the worst.

I feel the compulsion to explicitly state the things I desire in play and assumptions in the material I write,
they overlap so much with what people state as OSR , that it would incongruous for me to deny that.

However if there was a new term or a sub-term that was getting used instead and that was a better fit , sure use that (like Patrick's "Pretentious Hipster" or DIY etc etc)


There could be a new term that would be a "better fit".

-if somehow it was more clear about what it represented right there in the name, like "story games" (also constantly argued about) gives fairly good indicator of what it means.

         -there's OSR as a style of play and there's OSR as (numerous)  communities. A new term that could dodging the misunderstandings around this .
Like when someone talks about a shit head "in" the OSR there's an implied question about what other (OSR) peoples relationship is  to this person . If this New Term was one that described a style of play then this confusion could be avoided.

So "board gamers" is a term that describes a style of play and to talk about a board gamer community you have to actually put the c-word in there.

     -Because OSR is referring to numerous communities (each generally congealed around particular personalitys and/or websites /social media) and OSR-play to each of these communities generally refers the play styles and assumptions they have. These can vary enough that it causes a lot of confusion . I've read people dramatically stating they are an OSR heretic because they don't like Thac0/descending armour class/Gary Gygax. And basically everyone I'm talking to in the """OSR""" could not give less of shit if one like or doesn't like these.

and against all this:
- The inertia of a  term that everyone is already using is massive and it's rare that anyone has ever got a "better" term brought in. Like, slightly bad example to due length,  "Procedural generated content with permadeath"  is better than "rogue-like" but I've not seen it stick.

-I can't really think of a catchy 2-3 word title that sums up and I doubt its possible to summarize all the stuff I'm about to discuss below in this way.

-I am looking for a new term to describe exactly what I'm about or for the OSR as whole?


 A term with a reasonable of traction is "traditional play" / "trad games" , and while it is a term that is kinda useful to talk about a distinction from  "story games".
However  "traditional" by definition is fairly unchanging and isn't looking for refinements, and a lot of OSR** game design is about the refinements and breaking abruptly  from "back in the day" methods.

Additional "tradition" play could be the sandboxy , high lethality , "bob the fighter"  style of play or railroaded to shit , 3 page back story, fantasy novel,  style of play.

**a good example here of contradicting goals had by different self identified OSR people/communities; people who want to have play/game design closely replicate "back in the day" methods and people who want to improve and experiment with play/game design that has the same playstyle/goals as "back in the day"



With the games I run and write material for, these are the assumptions and desired play styles I have that overlap with the OSR enough for the term to be correct.

>Players Decisions  Must Matter: The consequences of their actions and decisions is the engine of the entire game. It is what results in an "emergent story", but even before then , the moment to moment play is interesting because what they are doing matters to what will happen.

 To best support this:
 They should be given all the information that would be available to their character.

The g.m should be prepared to accept the results of the dice and roll with the players effects on the world.

>Trying to force a conventionally coherent/cliche narrative for a "better story" by trying to force or cancel player decisions or consequences or ignore a dice roll, will always act against the mattering of player decisions.  Don't worry about the final results working as conventional story , worry about the moment to moment play being interesting .

> Any encounter /situation will be "balanced" ( i.e have the ability to effect) as is appropriate for its existence in the world.
Therefore the players should be able to seek the challenge they want by seeking out different areas, getting information, or coming up with plans, alliances or schemes to balance things in their favour.

Outright avoidance , fleeing , negotiation, schemes, befriending, disguises, and the like are acceptable and even desirable outcomes.

>Because of above , only exp for killing monsters is a bad fit. Consider exp for treasure, pre-set goals, or the like

 Here are some other statements about """OSR""" play I felt were good summaries for me.
They were from a g+ post about OSR assumptions that people felt should be stated.


Resolution of action by player skill first then dice or character mechanics. Like players don't declare I roll X instead players describe their characters actions and rolls are done if neccesary.

Gregory Blair :
 Killing things is usually not the goal, there is nothing that is "supposed" to happen, combat is not the default assumption for an encounter.

Character death is not taboo and is to be expected.

The adventure will not enumerate the one correct way to resolve conflicts and puzzles; player creativity is expected and should be rewarded by the referee.

Balance as a design goal is generally absent.

Brian Harbon

This is a game primarily about interacting with this world as if it were a place that exists. Outcomes will be based on how this world would react to your interactions, and challenges will be as unbalanced, unexpected, and exciting as they would in a real world. Your goal is generally to survive the enemies around you, whether that be via avoidance, negotiation, befriending, or creatively throwing the balance in your favor./
I think I just view story more as an emergent, secondary effect of OSR play rather than it's active, primary goal. i.e. The goal is not to tell the most interesting story you can, the goal is to interact with and overcome the problems at hand. From those interactions, the story passively emerges.

Brian Murphy

 It is not the DM’s job to balance encounters; it is the players’ job to unbalance encounters in their favor. (AKA: if you find yourself in a fair fight your tactics suck.)

But why all this?

I read this Maze Of Blue Medusa review and the author appeared to have no understanding of other peoples play styles and it was a trip. 
So I thought I could try and make a pre-face to use in future for any material I create.

Annus Horribilis:

 Speaking of any material I might create, let's address the commonwealth .

-The Stretch Goal of me writing material for Demon City has been reached so that's happening.

-There's an edition of Neoclassical Geek Revival happening with just my art. It was a selectable option for backers of the just finished kickstarter.  Not sure what the availability after that will be . I'll let you know

-Jacob Hurst (Swordfish Islands, up for ennie) is doing a Deep Carbon Observatory new edition , he's got a lot  on, there's logistic problems etc etc, but it will happen at some stage with better maps (not  by me, don't worry) , not be a5 (fuck a5) , and have more art and replacements for the stuff I'm not happen with.

Additionally the next release me and Patrick are doing with him will be Broken Fire Regime.
This one has been nailed with so many fucking delays and piss arounds including the previous publisher suddenly dropping it (a whole year of unnecessary delay right there, thanks for that) .

It's got like 95% of the writing and art done but that last 5% plus layout or anything else involving other people is a minefield and we keep stepping on them.

Ones possiblitys and potentials open dramatically up if you find the right people to work with but boy can working with other people send everything into the doldrums.

-The Planescape material has got David Shugars editing it , he is a star, I'm on the last plane now (lawful evil one) and it's being difficult but progress is happening. I'm hoping the decisions and quality of the later writing doesn't make me then have to revise all the earlier stuff however (some of which was written 3+ years ago now). Eta by the end of the year

-The cyberpunk thing: this is on ice at the moment (no pun) , kinda waiting for feedback from someone else in the project .  Will resume this and give it my full focus once the planescrap is out , or if I feel massively inspired. I needed to load the brain with fresh ideas for this anyhow and also? trying to extrapolate a terrible future from the terrible realitys right now is depressing.
It will happen at some stage but don't hold your breath.

These last 2 are the only things that could use that preface I talked about...

After these are done I am so excited about doing something that I'm 100% into and not one that I got caught up in .  Who knows what it will be, something small not involving anyone else most likely.


did Sherlock Holmes say Never The Less a lot?  Jeremy Brett delivering the line has always stuck with me  enough to make seem like he didThe fuck is with this Burma Shave Format?

Sunday 15 July 2018

Teaching a dog to flick the lightswitch on and off is of little benefit to one's peace of mind

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Fighter is a Seldom Prophet
Rogue is a Santa
Wizard is a Labourer
The Cleric a Disillusionist 



They Meet On Meat , And Discuss Every Matter.
Oh what you can learn from them! If you can entangle actual fact from the dense sophistic arguments they frame it in


They Steal and Conceal, only to have something to betray each other for.
They might just betray who they betray to before they find the spoils.

it's not even a sexy tree spirit tree.
Ants are the reason


No-one is good at their job

Some even suspect it's become a competition to be the Worst

A crestfallen Journeyman approaches you  , having spend a wish on a  perfect horse, he now offers to sell it you.


One of the backer options in this is to get a version with just Scrap Princess art:

1.What if Children but Too Much?
2.What if Domestication but Too Much?
3.What if Holes but Too Much?
4.What if Puppet Show but Too Much?
5.What if Writing Things Down but Too Much?
6.What if Tombs but Too Much?
7.What if Dying but Too Little?
8.What if Air but Too Little?
9.What if Bones But One Set Per Family?
10.What if Trains?


A Giant Brass Head, It is a Vast  Kettle That Lips Part and Kill With Steam

A Zorb ball but Perforated allowing the  elite spear men inside to stab and punt it around.

A Walking Wickerman Siege Tower but with bees hives inside, the densely attired troops concealed in the head

The Sickening Ultra Bell

Friday 22 June 2018

I hate doing reviews of role playing products

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I intend to never do it again , other than "I like this thing" referencing / advertising for people

I'm reviewing a bunch of Zedeck Siew's stuff right now.

Specifically these zines that aren't really for sale , but if you hit him up on g+ you might be able to get them.

The first 2 are teasers from an upcoming Thousand Thousand Islands project.

Mr-Kr-Gr is the "death rolled kingdom". It's crocodile themed if
 Kraching  (the other one) can be described as cat themed.

Kraching has vignettes. Some are descriptions of people, some of locations, some groups. Also interspersed with myths of the founder "Auw" .

The vignettes are not framed or obviously organized. It is more like reading a collection of short storys and essays (click the link on his name to do that).

The first is The God Auw. It is a description of a statue . The next entry is Auw The Woodworker.
It is a origin story of Auw.

Then it's a description of the town, then a trader, then a book keeper.

It's an arrangement extremely counter to how a role playing book should work.
I don't know if the future book will be like this or not.

However a couple of things make this work way better than it should.

  Zedeck's writing ; it's very sparse , and delightfully so.

Here's the entirety of the writing about Anurra (baring a 4 lines about her house and husband, Allu)

Calloused hands, muscled arms. Quick to laugh. But her smile disappears if she thinks you are not looking.
"In the hills , when she was young." All tells you. "She was caught by a witch. The witch gave her a choice: hands that make art, or a womb that bears children. Anurra chose her hands."

  Allu asks you find the witch , force it to return his wife's fertility.  Anurra will hate him for this.

There is depths here, about the couple, how the world works, etc. 
Don't think for a second is white wolf pages and pages of fiction that drip feeds you actual material. This is one of the most concentrated, poetic , yet usable piece of role playing writing I have ever read.

So that's a thing.

The other thing happening here is memory and time and a rebuking of exact borders.

This zine starts with a description of the statue of the god Auw. It's described as the god.

 The first story is of the god as when he was just carver.

The description of the town is about the cats.

A later line about the cats "They are either primeval nature spirits , or wood carvings come alive. Or maybe just cats. Or maybe all three."

Auw in their stories changes personality, gender, human /cat.

Things are always always another thing too.  A town is the first 2 people you meet.  A god is the stories told about them and the statue you just past.

You are reading about everything when you are reading about one thing.
So the usual problem of "not being able to find what you wanted" is obscured here. Everything is a little bit everything else too.

There is tables and things in tables too. They are a more familiar format but excellent too.

Mr -Kr -Gr
is crocodiles. More past here than shifting stories. More formal
Also excellent.

The illustrations are by Mun Kao

They are exact , detail rich, and work wonderfully with the text.

Really quick reviews for some pdfs that their creators gave me when I mentioned I might review things ages ago. I have managed to lose both pdfs and didn't feel I could really do a good review anyway, as I wasn't going to use them and that should be the focus of any review (shout out Bryce Lynch running the most useful  rpg blog in existence )

I've felt honour bound ever since to actually review them though.
Please no-one ever send me anything to review again though 

Black Sun Crawl:
(James Macgeorge )
An efficient setting with a concentrated tone and effect , using public domain art and giving a very metal grim dark souls feel. If anyone has a dream about releasing a project of their own this is good guide for how to make something distinct without getting overwhelmed with all the material "you have to include as well"

Castle Gargantua:
(Kabuki Kasier)
A table generated mega dungeon with a greco-roman theme.  Using the mechanics as written to generate the castle seem not ideal to me, and it seems bad for the players to try and navigate it, as the random generation means you can't figure out potential room contents the same way you could a conventional building.

However there's enough here that you could easily find at least one table for your own use.
Some of the monsters have some good imagery and there's a enthusiasm to the whole thing too.
There's one game effect  here , while thematic appropriate for the god Pan,  that could piss a lot of players off, however its nothing a g.m couldn't use their own judgement to handle.

Tuesday 8 May 2018

Part2 of What Exactly is the Problem Here?

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Picture Unrelated

Okay that last post got more traction/attention than I thought and now I got to clean up my points somewhat.

And look at some more spells to see if there is other conclusions to be drawn.

So in the last post I was trying to dissect my own disinterest in all these spell lists , but it's become blurred in/ or resonant with enough other people , that it's coming across as  a "objective" critique of the spells.

In this post I will try and be clearer about What I want from a Spell and how/if/does various spells fit that, but also be mindful about how this spell could be successful for other player preferences.

Some Concepts Will Use
Hijink potential:
Both how easy it is to use the spell in a variety of ways and how much unexpected things could happen from the spell.

Red Key Card:
A spell that just solves a particular problem , particular a problem created just to have that spell.

 the spell doesn't exist or barely exists outside the game mechanics for it. Magic missile, shield, true strike.

Like the opposite of abstract, what the spell does that then might needs game mechanics or reference existing game mechanics. A example of a spell that creates mechanics by its material is fireball or grease. A spell that doesn't even have game mechanics for what it creates is something like fabrication. Very often a factor in the spells Hijink potential, but not always (unseen servant)

Push Back:
push back is how hard you make it for any player plan to work, either through complication, dice gating or out right failure. Spells with high hijink potential can get a lot more push-back than abstract or red-key-card ones and if the d.m pushes back harder that the player likes then spells that don't risk it are going to be more appealing , example:

Everytime you use burning hands without thinking extremely careful about it, the d.m has the now on fire goblin crash tackle you or the resulting smoke choke you or the smell of cooked goblin attract a snake bear .

Push-back can done because the d.m likes the players to think really hard, or things to be very chaotic, or in some cases is trying to discourage the player.

Might be useful to define Push-Back that promotes chaos vs Push-Back that just prevent things happening at all. However not doing it now.

 I don't know how to segue into this bit:
There's spells I condemned because they created an easy to grasp real world object rather than a weird magic one (but still one with actual physical propertys unlike magic missile) .
So Mount creates a Horse rather than a weird organ beast.

However as players are familiar with horses they could think up more things to do with a horse than an organ beast, thus more hijniks potential so shouldn't it be regarded as less boring?

Also this one:

 There's trusting the d.m to make rulings about edge cases and then there's writing up Telekinesis as "move 2000 coins of weight"
which is like writing up magic as "the wizard can use spells to change reality. The d.m will decide the limits and restrictions of this"

Because players are going to want to know how fast it can move things, can it move small things fast enough to injure , how delicately , if you can target a held item , if someone gets a saving throw if you are trying to lift them up, can you lift someone up by specific body part like eyes or genitals, can you use it to crush or squeeze a throat, can you use it disable a limb or at least interfere with it enough to make attacking difficult , do I have to see something to use telekinesis on it , etc

The only use of the spell that won't require an immediate ruling is just picking something inanimate up and moving it somewhere else when nothing else is going on and somehow I feel this is going to be a less common use to any of the above

Compare to  "imagine the telekinesis as a mystic leaf blower like force which can push or even lift but can't specifically target or manipulate things with any more skill than you could do with a leaf blower < then some game effects if you use it against someone to slow them down or shove an object at someone>

(not saying telekinesis should be that limited but just giving an example of something that gives me something to work with as d.m)

Wizard Role:
Some people like some spells because they allow wizards to do things that wizards should be able to do like Obscure object or other Single Use spells or allow Wizards to be useful without having a complicated plan.

Actually I'm going to a terrible job trying thinking about spells in ways other people like them. Sooo


Arcane LockM: Magically locks a portal or chest. I guess it's something wizards could do but like could this be broader in application so you can use it on mouths  . It's hard to care about this spell
Obscure Object: Masks object against scrying. This is so red card key door I think it's the archetype
Protection from Arrows: Subject immune to most ranged attacks.  Boring but useful and you could see high level wizards getting to not worry about snipers oh wait that's hitpoints. Moving on
Resist Energy: Ignores first 10 (or more) points of damage/attack from specified energy type. Boring but useful

Acid Arrow: Ranged touch attack; 2d4 damage for 1 round +1 round/three levels. Alliteration and it has some materialness  I like it
Fog Cloud: Fog obscures vision. There's a level 1 spell that does this , can it just be one spell?
Glitterdust: Blinds creatures, outlines invisible creatures.  C+
Summon Monster II: Calls extraplanar creature to fight for you. covered previously
Summon Swarm: Summons swarm of bats, rats, or spiders. This is a good way to do a low level summoning , and is creepy and there's prob always a swarmable creature nearby
Web: Fills 20-ft.-radius spread with sticky spiderwebs.  C+ oh wait you can burn it B+

Detect Thoughts: Allows “listening” to surface thoughts.
Locate Object: Senses direction toward object (specific or type).
See Invisibility: Reveals invisible creatures or objects.
Detection spells need a whole post on themselves I think , but Detect thoughts and Locate Object are better than See Invisibilty

Daze Monster: Living creature of 6 HD or less loses next action.  Maybe if said why , like a mind jolt or vertigo but without any thing other mechanics it's boring and feels like it's here to give enchantment another spell
Hideous Laughter: Subject loses actions for 1 round/level. Is this still contagious?  Kinda like the Sleep / Colour Spray , I'd get sick of having happen in every combat.
Touch of Idiocy: Subject takes 1d6 points of Int, Wis, and Cha damage.  Bad. What about the touched target next time has to make a decision just does it really dumb?

Continual FlameM: Makes a permanent, heatless torch.
Darkness: 20-ft. radius of supernatural shadow.
Flaming Sphere: Creates rolling ball of fire, 2d6 damage, lasts 1 round/level.
Gust of Wind: Blows away or knocks down smaller creatures.
Scorching Ray: Ranged touch attack deals 4d6 fire damage, +1 ray/four levels (max 3).
Shatter: Sonic vibration damages objects or crystalline creatures.

A bunch of Okays. Maybe not you Shatter depending on the g.m lets it get used

Blur: Attacks miss subject 20% of the time. I mean okay I guess. Wizards should have some protective spells and it does it in a way with materialness
Hypnotic Pattern: Fascinates (2d4 + level) HD of creatures. What I said about Fog Cloud but also what said about Hypnosis
Invisibility: Subject is invisible for 1 min./level or until it attacks. Sure
Magic MouthM: Speaks once when triggered. Could there just be a "trigger illusion spell?"
Minor Image: As silent image, plus some sound. SO this is why those level 1 spells couldn't do both at once : (
Mirror Image: Creates decoy duplicates of you (1d4 +1 per three levels, max 8). A example of protective Wizard spell that has some special effects to it that make good
Misdirection: Misleads divinations for one creature or object. What the fuck is with all the boring spell : The Return ?
Phantom TrapM: Makes item seem trapped. This actual could be great if was so it made everyone unease not just specific trap detectors

Blindness/Deafness: Makes subject blinded or deafened.  Debuffs are forbidden unless they have some flavour to them , not literally the effect they do as their name. call them "The Devil's Note" and "Unbearable Word" and the effect happens to those exposed.
Command Undead: Undead creature obeys your commands. I mean if you going to have necromancers a thing couldn't they just have this as ability? I guess it's simpler to have it as spell. Bland but forgivable
False Life: Gain 1d10 temporary hp +1/level (max +10). Bland but unforgivable
Ghoul Touch: Paralyzes one subject, which exudes stench that makes those nearby sickened. 
Add that if you touch food or drink it affects the consumer. I know the stink just makes it to tie in with the ghoulness but dunno it gives it something
Scare: Panics creatures of less than 6 HD. What I said about blindness , also there was a level 1 spell that did this. I hate this. Just pick how strong the effect is and give it a single spell.
Spectral Hand: Creates disembodied glowing hand to deliver touch attacks. I feel like this was crude fix for all the necromancer touch spells but a glowing hand flying around combat Sucking the life from people is fine , so sure

Bear's Endurance: Subject gains +4 to Con for 1 min./level.
Bull's Strength: Subject gains +4 to Str for 1 min./level.
Cat's Grace: Subject gains +4 to Dex for 1 min./level.
Eagle's Splendor: Subject gains +4 to Cha for 1 min./level.
Fox's Cunning: Subject gains +4 Int for 1 min./level.

Owl's Wisdom: Subject gains +4 to Wis for 1 min./level.  
Darkvision: See 60 ft. in total darkness. F-

Whispering Wind: Sends a short message 1 mile/level. Bland but forgivable

Alter Self: Assume form of a similar creature.  What I said about Scare

Knock: Opens locked or magically sealed door. The classic red key card door spell and the beginning of the wizard starting to do everyone's jobs. I guess it's the "resource management" aspect to d&d challenge so if that works for you, fine. This spell is a pariah to me
Levitate: Subject moves up and down at your direction. Bland but unforgivable

Pyrotechnics: Turns fire into blinding light or choking smoke. Feels like it should be level 1 and/or replace the spells that do stuff like this without needing a fire

Rope Trick: As many as eight creatures hide in extradimensional space.  fine
Spider Climb: Grants ability to walk on walls and ceilings.  fine


Dispel Magic: Cancels magical spells and effects.  I guess wizards should be able to do this : /
Explosive Runes: Deals 6d6 damage when read.  fine
Magic Circle against Chaos: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
Magic Circle against Evil: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
Magic Circle against Good: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
Magic Circle against Law: As protection spells, but 10-ft. radius and 10 min./level.
everything I said about the first level one

NondetectionM: Hides subject from divination, scrying.  holy shit how many spells did this??
Protection from Energy: Absorb 12 points/level of damage from one kind of energy.  make it one spell please

Phantom Steed: Magic horse appears for 1 hour/level.  it's a level 2 mount spell
Sepia Snake Sigil: Creates text symbol that immobilizes reader.   I mean it's okay but 2 spells to trap reading necessary?
Sleet Storm: Hampers vision and movement bland but forgivable

 Stinking Cloud: Nauseating vapors, 1 round/level. fine
Summon Monster III: Calls extraplanar creature to fight for you. covered already
Arcane Sight: Magical auras become visible to you. this is divination kinda alright.
Clairaudience/Clairvoyance: Hear or see at a distance for 1 min./level. bland but forgivable
Telepathic Bond, Lesser: As telepathic bond, but you and one other creature.  I mean it sounds wizardy but would anyone miss it if it wasn't here?
Tongues: Speak any language. as what I said for comprehend languages

Deep Slumber: Puts 10 HD of creatures to sleep. this is my face for when a higher level spell is identical to a lower level spell - _ -
Heroism: Gives +2 bonus on attack rolls, saves, skill checks. Number increaser
Hold Person: Paralyzes one humanoid for 1 round/level. Like there's snake sigil and that ghoul touch one that I guess are limited versions of this but can we just have those?
Rage: Subjects gains +2 to Str and Con, +1 on Will saves, –2 to AC.  Still no
Suggestion: Compels subject to follow stated course of action.  Fine

Evoc  I was deleting the schools But I guess I should leave them because I refer to them
Daylight: 60-ft. radius of bright light. a 3rd level light spell -_-

Fireball: 1d6 damage per level, 20-ft. radius.
Lightning Bolt: Electricity deals 1d6/level damage.
Sometimes people say these are boring but there's a lot of plans that go around trying to get dudes all in the one place so these spells ruin them the most and a lot accidents that happen because not enough of plan happened before they got used. So don't estimate the "hi jink potential" of spells with high "materialism" I feel weird about making terms now like Ron Edwards

Tiny Hut: Creates shelter for ten creatures. A spell carefully written to only get used for this one thing and makes it so any characters that are good at wilderness survival are redundant boo
Wind Wall: Deflects arrows, smaller creatures, and gases. bland but forgivable

Displacement: Attacks miss subject 50%.
Illusory ScriptM: Only intended reader can decipher.
Invisibility Sphere: Makes everyone within 10 ft. invisible.
Major Image: As silent image, plus sound, smell and thermal effects.
The only one of these that isn't an existing effect could be 1st level and is pretty limited in scope . Could there just be a Wizard writing that allowed you to do the Snake Sigil, The Explosive Runes and Say Different Things To Different people?

Gentle Repose: Preserves one corpse.
Halt Undead: Immobilizes undead for 1 round/level.
Ray of Exhaustion: Ray makes subject exhausted.

Vampiric Touch: Touch deals 1d6/two levels damage; caster gains damage as hp.
boring but forgivable

Water Breathing: Subjects can breathe underwater.
Flame Arrow: Arrows deal +1d6 fire damage.
Blink: You randomly vanish and reappear for 1 round/level.
 Fly: Subject flies at speed of 60 ft.
Gaseous Form: Subject becomes insubstantial and can fly slowly.
bland but forgivable 

Haste: One creature/level moves faster, +1 on attack rolls, AC, and Reflex saves.
Slow: One subject/level takes only one action/round, –1 to AC, reflex saves, and attack rolls.

Buff debuffs should always be like these 2

Keen Edge: Doubles normal weapon’s threat range.
Magic Weapon, Greater: +1/four levels (max +5).
Secret Page: Changes one page to hide its real content. See Illusionary Script
Shrink Item: Object shrinks to one-sixteenth size.  Sure it could be used in someweird ways but does it have to be a spell?

Okay that's all the 2nd and 3rd done , this getting boring , stopping here.

How to fix :
Obviously if you don't have a problem with these spells then they don't need fixing.

A lot of people mentioned reskinning, or just adding enough materialness to make it interesting.

So Fly gives you wings or something. There's argument for the spells being presented in simple bland ways so you can then modify them for each wizard.

However if the cosmetics (like Fly's wings) don't have any materialness (like being able to tickle the inside of a throat with the wings) then it could be just additional description that gets skipped over. "The enemy wizard makes a glowing carpet appear and/ Yeah he's casting a fly spell I shoot him"

But if the carpet means you can body the wizard off his carpet and flying around on it , then that's good.

However then if each wizards spell flavour actually has materialness it makes their pressure to try a game that.

So either roll with that or just give spells that bore you materialness until they don't.

The same version of a spell but it's a different level. Just have it be the one spell and you can cast it as a second level spell if you want the more powerful effect.
If you just want a bigger spell list for conjurers etc , how about don't and give them some ability other wizards don't have , then stuff like Summoning , Protection Circles, Raising Undead could get its own mechanics rather than cutting it all up and putting it as spells.

I guess that's kinda a simpler solution but I dislike it for some reason.

An alternative to Materialness of effect is making the spell have a circumstance to its use that make hijinks happen around it.
  Like Comprehend language requires a shared meal or the tongue of the creature (attached or not) in your mouth. 

However if the circumstances seem too difficult or involve too much push-back for the players tastes they might hate you.

A way to make this more palatable to players is having the circumstances be exploitable in some way or the spell more powerful than it was.

So Obscuring Mist, Stinking Cloud and Blinding Light (Wait was it called that) all require fire you use because you also folded them into Pyrotechnics make it so the bigger the fire the more powerful effect.

Or Spectral Hand actually involves having real severed hand to animate make it be able to effect more people if get your hands on a bigger hand. Or you can use it on a living hand and fight the owner for control