Thursday, 6 July 2017

The Shore

The coast of the Southern Salt is an intertidal zone that stretches well beyond the sight of any eyeglass. The tides beat a slow, unsteady rhythm and the locals keep pace. The local measure of time, the fiveyear, follows the water - it hasn't been anything close to five years in living memory. Somewhere in the endless expanse of littoral variety is the Captured Sea and its resident islands but for the most part it's fishing villages, houseboats, seaweed farms, snail ranches and merfolk warrens.


The below table isn't going to cover your whole adventure, but should be useful for generating a stretch of tidepools in a pinch. I'm thinking most groups of people you meet can just be from Skerples' neat camp follower table, reskinned a little for the setting. Oh, and remember to roll a d20 to figure out how many inches deep the water mostly is right now!


Terrain Creatures Features People Threats
1 Round black stone, slick with algae Toadfish and salamanders Unfathomably deep pool. Suspiciously brackish Floating house. Family of fishers, tiny dogs. Huge lucky fish under floorboards Hermit crab. Cart-sized. Known for eating hermits
2 Jagged rows of orange rock Gulls and clams Massive ball of driftwood washed down from mangrove forests. Rustles Clade of nomads on stilts, picking at debris with hooks and spears. Odd philosophy Storm petrel. 20' wingspan. Lands like a thunderbolt
3 Thick layer broken, razorsharp shells Snails and octopi Dead animal, bloated and swarming with scavengers Gang of smugglers in cramped boat, happy to trade for smallest valuables you have Field of giant salt squirts. They begin erupting when you reach the centre*
4 Sucking mud, clumps of rotten seaweed Crabs and platypi Abandoned rowing boat. No oars, half full of rum, smashed chest in bottom Snail gaucho, performing one of the slow hobbies of the snail people. Hundreds of whittled idols for sale, keen to buy anything smokeable Bask of false gharials, ever smiling with those idiot mouths
5 Brittle, bleached coral  Silver fish and plankton clouds Ineffectual attempt at tower. Long ago abandoned. Tallest thing for miles around Salt witch on unidentifiable riding beast, pretending to not be a witch for comedic effect Sentient algae. Exposed to a cut it will do its sad best to communicate via hallucinations, prophetic visions
6 Water slick quicksand, reflecting the sky Silverfish and anenomes Raised peat mound, standing out like a sore thumb. How has nobody nicked this yet? Merfolk studiously pretending to be a "NORMAL HUMAN PERSON". Thinks there's nothing at all funny about this Riddle fish. Squat, ugly, not near as well camouflaged as it thinks. Laughs, spitting poison, when you can't solve its riddles
*Remember that falling over on rocks or coral is likely to cut your shit up and maybe crack your skull unless you're wearing armour. If you're wearing armour, falling over in mud could see you drown before your slip-sliding companions can get to you. In sand it's just a fun and light-hearted time!


And of course you need a bunch of magic junk washed up on the interminable shores.
  1. Spiral shell. Tip it and a pinch of sand pours from the mouth. Spin it around and other pinch falls. Spin faster and the sand begins to flow out in a stream. Held to the ear, one can hear the ocean, and the sound of someone very far away shouting into a near identical shell.
  2. Palm-sized, translucent jelly, washed up after a savage storm. If the skin breaks it bursts into a wave. Good throwing technique allows for increased control over the resulting wash of water.
  3. Knot of driftwood, snapped from a long-sunken ship. Molded by currents in the glacial rise to the surface, it now resembles a leering beast of the deeps. If returned to salt water, even just a bucketful, the wood will contort itself into a living, hateful creature and attack all in sight. Whittled into a religious symbol it will instead ward against the undead, evil, bad luck.
  4. Bubbling fulgurite, emerging from the sand just before a storm strikes. If exposed to a cloudy sky it will call down a bolt of lightning and explode violently. The stone will absorb magic moving above it. Larger specimens soak more power before shattering.
  5. Coral grown into jagged folds. When the right seam is found, and the coral twisted just so, the wielder is folded up into the piece. Fresh specimens may contain lairs of eels, labs of merfolk witches, troves of forbidden treasure. Some corals twist deeper and deeper, seeming without end.
  6. Forked mangrove root. Held by the forks it points to fresh water. Held by the shaft it points to dry land. Planted forks-down in a dish of salt water it grows a serviceable quarterstaff in about 40 minutes.
  7. Head-sized salt crystal, looks very nearly like it has a face. Touch the 'mouth' to anything and it will attempt to suck the water out of it. Wood can be rendered dry and brittle, flesh exsanguinated, pools of water greedily devoured. Also makes the air quite dry, if you don't cover it up.
  8. Cuboid lump of pumice. Clutched in the fist it lightens the holder. Gravity is about 1/6th as effective on them and anything they hold. If something would float in water, it floats now. Swimming through air is hard, but achievable with a pair of wings.
  9. Hard red jelly. Ingested, it causes the blood to thicken and grants immunity to bludgeoning, falling. A little more eaten and the limbs swell, crimson and heavy as cudgels. A little more seizes up the body and mires the heart. Repeat users are sluggish and mildly addicted.
  10. Sea's tooth. A fist-sized rock that, nestled into mud or sand, functions as if it were the tip of a boulder ten thousand times as large. There's an exceptionally sturdy iron ring embedded in it, for convenience.

Wednesday, 28 June 2017

Misremembered Men

In The Destruction of the Philosophers Al-Ghazali teaches us that all things in the material universe exist only as information in the mind of God, much as all things in a video game exist only as information in the mind of a computer. He was not quite right. In fact all things exist only as information in the mind of Yaldabaoth, the corrupt and rebellious entity who created the material universe against the express will of the Ineffable Monad, who wished to remain forever in eternal contemplative unbeing. Yaldabaoth does his best to keep track of everything, but his brain is slowly rotting with age and he was never a particularly diligent student of philosophy in the first place. Sometimes he forgets things, and those things simply blink out of existence. Other times he gets the details wrong. In the book of his memory all things are written in the divine language Enochian, and even a single misremembered letter can have dramatic consequences.

These are the Misremembered Men, the Flawkind or Glitchenkin. They were not always like this. Some have memories of their former lives. They have the stats of a normal human, but they
  1. Have one random stat set to 99.
  2. Have one random skill set to 999.
  3. Have no HP variable and therefore cannot be killed. Blood and viscera gush from their wounds but they take no actual damage.
  4. Do not register as a valid target for an attack roll. You can't attack them, though you can still damage them in other ways.
  5. Can glide through solid objects, ragdolling frantically and spraying polygons everywhere. Will grab you and pull you into the negative space under the floor.
  6. Can swim through air as if it were water and walk through water as if it were air. 
  7. Can, whenever you leave a room they're in, spawn a duplicate of themselves in the next room you enter.
  8. Can interact with anything they can see as if it were in melee range.
  9. Are slowly growing larger at all times. Reset to default size whenever they roll a 1.
  10. Are ten times as fast when walking backwards.
  11. Are invisible so long as their hit points are an odd number.
  12. Turn anyone they deal combat damage to into a level 5 elven wizard named Risparillion.
and they
  1. Have no inventory and therefore cannot hold, wear or possess objects.
  2. Have a memory that resets every time you initiate conversation with it.
  3. Can't turn left.
  4. Can't go through doors.
  5. Can't make sound, directly or indirectly.
  6. Can only speak in mangled, distorted word fragments and write in broken spidery symbols that crawl across the page.
  7. Are completely passive - can't instigate action, though they can respond to stuff done to them.
  8. Are constantly, rapidly aging. When they turn 100 they roll over into a baby again.
  9. Will instantly teleport back to a particular spot if they move more than a hundred feet from it.
  10. Freeze up whenever they roll a 1 and can't do anything until they are manually returned to where they were at the beginning of the day.
  11. Looks like a mundane object - broom, dog, teakettle, etc. Still can do anything a human can do.
  12. Looks like whoever's standing closest to them. But all glitched out, obviously.
Some Misremembered Men just want to lead normal lives. Others take revenge on a world that hates and fears them, or act out of motivations comprehensible only to themselves. The Syntagmatic Order wants to find Yaldabaoth, said to lurk shamefully in a cave beneath the world, and force him to remember than again. They do other chivalric stuff as well, and are often found waiting by bridges to challenge those who cross. Their horses are nervous.


Misremembered Men grant corrupted XP. If you level up in a session where you kill one, you get a corrupted level. This probably needs to handled on a case-by-case basis, but you could get bonuses to the wrong stats or spells from the wrong class. They also sometimes drop treasure.
  1. Perfectly neutral and generic object. Has no properties. Valuable as a curiosity to a certain type of collector.
  2. Fishing rod with the data of a broadsword. Can be used to do anything a broadsword can do. Cannot be used to fish with.
  3. Boots that let you walk through the air, but only along a flat plane located at exactly sea level.
  4. Infected coin. Lettering distorted, face of monarch warped. Slowly dissolves into pixelated rainbow dust, but not before it's infected 2d6 other coins in the inventory of whoever's holding it.
  5. Displaced horse. The rider sits in the air ten feet behind it.
  6. Bow with infinite range. Arrow gets bigger the longer it travels. Can be used to destroy the sun. Don't do that though.
  7. Spellbook full of corrupted spells. If you memorise them they can't be cast but also can't be forgotten, and just sit in your head taking up spell slots forever.
  8. Sword of plus. Not plus anything, just plus.
  9. Rations that make you feel full but don't provide nutrition.
  10. Cuirass that takes up a head slot instead of a torso slot. Wear it as a hat along with a normal cuirass.
  11. Whistle that, when blown inside a room, makes all the doors in that room lead to the Minus World. The Minus World is constructed out of bits and pieces of all the other settings in your campaign, copied and pasted in incoherent order. It is said Sophia, Yaldabaoth's mother, dwells therein, imprisoned by order of the Ineffable Monad in the sinful universe she helped her son to create.
  12. A fuzzy mass of pixels. If ingested, causes one random item in your inventory to duplicate itself 99 times. Stolen from here.

Thursday, 15 June 2017

Metal Dragons

Inspired by a Scrap Princess G+ post about how forgettable the metallic dragons are. There's now one dragon for each of the alchemical metals, with a personality based on the associated planet.

Suryamandra, the Golden Wyrm. Rightful empress of all creation. Threw the gods off their sacred mountain at the world's hub, moved in to their eternal city. Paladins of the outcast gods try to fight her and always fail. Breath is all-consuming sunlight that liberates noble souls from their corrupt fleshly bodies and leaves behind only smoking skeletons. Souls then bound to serve her for eternity. Heart is the philosopher's stone. Will know if even a single coin from her immense treasury is stolen and will dispatch a battalion of heroic ghosts to track down and slay whoever's wound up holding it. Shopkeepers in vicinity of sacred mountain all know about this and will not accept payment in gold under any circumstances.

Chandraluna, the Dragon Argent. Comes down on nights when the moon is full to play tricks on lone travellers who won't be believed. Can shapeshift into a hot person, command night creatures, induce petty misfortunes, turn straight roads into winding ones and winding roads into labyrinths. Breath is luminous mist that takes the shape of your nightmares and attacks you. Lives in a moon castle full of secret passages, doors to nowhere, libraries of lies and whimsical items taken from children's dreams. Any madman who enters the castle becomes sane, but only so long as they stay there. They also live forever. Advised by beautiful trauma victims and exiled monarchs from long-forgotten kingdoms. Deliberately drives people mad so they have to stay with her and be her friend.

Vormangala, the Iron Serpent. Flightless. Lives in a tunneled-through magnetic monolith in the heart of a barren red desert. The monolith's black sides are encrusted with weapons and the corpses of soldiers who couldn't get out of their armour in time. Breathes a torrent of red rust that corrodes all metal instantly and infects you with the desire to beat each other to death with your bare hands. Has the same effect on anything he touches, but slower. Jealously hoards enough enchanted blades to equip a small army. Loves chess but plays far too aggressively. Has a long-distance game with a prominent general who's secretly analysing every move for clues to his psychology and weaknesses.

Aphrasukra, the Wyrm Verdigris. Breathes a cloud of colourful spores that makes you fall in love with all living things, including the dragon. Lives in an enchanted rainforest full of tropical birds, carnivorous plants, butterflies, tigers and blissed-out romance cultists who live off fruit and the intoxicating nectar of the flowers. Attracts poets and painters, who scrape the verdigris off her flanks and use it as a pigment. Rewards her favourites by eating them. The rainforest is hostile to anyone who comes with less than pure intent and a haven for people fleeing arranged marriages. More than one kingdom has been cast into brutal war when a peace treaty and diplomatic betrothal was scuppered by a runaway husband.

Jovanguru, the Dragon Pewter. Conspiracy theorist. Covets Suryamandra's power and is obsessed with unveiling the secret systems by which the gold dragon controls everything that happens in the world. Sly, duplicitous and paranoid. Likes to think he's outwitted you. Sees everything not in her direct sphere of influence as a threat that must be controlled. Has made a fortune on the stock market through various proxies and invests it all in plots against those who would destroy him, including the other dragons, gods, kings, merchant houses and ordinary people who just happened to move in a suspicious way. Breathes lightning and lives in a thunderhead. Sees everything that's visible under the sky. His enemies wear wide-brimmed hats.

Kronoshanti, the Leaden Wyrm. Sleeps among the columns of a ruined city, dreaming of the day when it was whole. By crawling into the dragon's ear you can become a character in its dream, someone who lived in the city back when it was inhabited and prosperous. The temples of the dream-city hold priceless knowledge, including the recipe for liquid fire and a map to lost Hyperborea. If you stay in the dream too long, however, the memories of your dream-life will overwhelm you and cause you to forget the waking world. The dragon inhabits its own dream as a small black dog somewhere in the city's slums. Killing it will throw you out of the dream and wake her up, although maybe only briefly. Breathes a tide of darkness which inflicts rapid aging and melancholy. Armoured everywhere except for her belly, which she sleeps on. Heavy as fuck.

Hermastunga, the Dragon Mercury. Lives in a glass bottle-palace under the sea. Aggressively cheerful and hyperactive. Can change size and does so constantly. Wants to collect all the knowledge in the world. Memory like a goldfish. Has developed an ingenious new way of storing information in liquid form but can't remember how to read it. Kidnaps people and makes them tell her everything they know from the beginning as fast as possible. Then forgets that she's done it and makes them do it again. Then gets frustrated and eats them. Served by amnesiac djinn who will lose count of how many wishes they've granted you and forget what the wish is before they make it come true. Breathes poisonous fumes that cause itching, tremors, paralysis, hair loss, irritability, light sensitivity and the feeling of bugs crawling under the skin.

Lesser dragons include antimony, arsenic, bismuth, borax, magnesium, phosphorus, platinum, potassium, sulphur and zinc. Aeneolus, the Dragon Bronze, is Aphrasukra's daughter with Jovanguru. Orichalcos, the Dragon Brass, is her son with the wyvern zinc. They hate each other.

Monday, 15 May 2017

SUBLIGHT Classes

Arnold asked me for classes to go with the hexcrawl I wrote. I came up with seven that I think more or less cover the scope of what I'm trying to do in SUBLIGHT. Some of these are more based around skill and some are more based around social position, although really I think the two things are kind of inseparable.

ALIENIST. Like a psychiatrist but for AIs. Since AI is embedded in everything this is a little like being a hacker and a little like communing with the spirit world. Hacking is always hard to make interesting in games, so I want to replace pretty much all of it with social challenges, such that getting through the locked door is less about making a roll or solving some kind of logic puzzle and more about negotiating with the bored computer that runs everything in the complex. I also want to establish that AIs are deeply weird, in some ways like people with mental illnesses and in some ways like faeries or demons than need to be carefully bargained with. Alienists know all the tricks about how to do that, with the consequence that they tend to be pretty weird themselves.

SCAVENGER. Understands how machines work. Can take them apart and use them to build other ones. This might cover anything from a safecracker to a long-haul trucker to an industrial saboteur who specialises in precision explosives. I want each of these classes to have some kind of implicit goal, and the scavenger's, presumably, is to find interesting new bits of tech to add to their big rig or robot buddy or favourite gun or suit of power armour or whatever. Can't work with AI the way an alienist can, and might have an unfortunate tendency to see even a sapient robot as useful bundle of parts.


ENFORCER. Resolves situations through the intelligent deployment of violence. Skilled in both detective work and gunplay, and knows when to stand their ground and when to walk away. The class most likely to get into a Mexican standoff. An enforcer could be a sheriff, a standover man, a bodyguard or a bounty hunter, or anyone else whose job involves shooting at people until they do what you want. Sam Spade is one, as is Raylan Givens, and to be honest the protagonist of pretty much every movie.

APOSTLE. The representative of some religion, whose job is to provide spiritual and material comfort to those in need. Derives much of their power and authority from their social status - has useful contacts among the faithful and can, in emergencies, rally the flock to their cause. I imagine this as being a kind of jack-of-all-trades class, with maybe even the ability to borrow another class' skills - so a Jain monk might be an expert vet, a Buddhist would know kung fu, a worshipper of Tiamat the Mother Machine might have some skill at preaching to AI.


SAWBONES. Not necessarily the mad scientist class. Cuts up people and animals, then puts them back together, hopefully better than before. Synthesises their own customised medicines and drugs, as well as viruses and genetically-altered strains of bacteria. The guy to go to if you want a new set of fingerprints, a robot eye hooked up to your optic nerve, a pill that will make you immune to pain, an untraceable poison, a tailored plague that makes your enemies schizophrenic, a fun night on the town, a tooth pulled or somebody tortured to death.


PIONEER. Lives off the land. Understands animal behavior and ecosystem management. Knows how much nitrogen is in the soil and how to fight a bear. All habitable environments in space are artificial, from the smallest orbital oxygen bubble to the vast terraformed hinterlands of Mars, and having somebody around who knows how to maintain the delicate cycle of nutrients which sustains all organic life can mean the difference between life and death, unless of course you are a robot and don't give a shit. The pioneer could be a gaucho, a mountain man, a fur trapper, an isolated farmer or anyone else who's uncomfortable in cities and maybe has an animal companion.


EXECUTIVE. Has the greatest power of all - money. Unlike all these other plebs, the executive is a ranking member of some corporation, government, wealthy family or other high-status and well-funded organisation. They have way better starting equipment than anyone else, and the social connections to do stuff like get out of jail or be invited to the party, but these things have to cover for a lack of actual physical skills and the hassle of having a boss who can tell you to do stuff. Kind of the opposite of the pioneer, in that they're useful in urban environments and bad in the wilderness.

Wednesday, 3 May 2017

SUBLIGHT Hexcrawl

A hexcrawl I made for SUBLIGHT, my near-future hard SF setting. This is a section of the hinterlands of a terraformed Mars, where people go to flee civilisation and make a new life for themselves in the desert. Things that are in it:

- tyrannical Buddhist monks ruling from a palace atop a waterfall
- an elevated highway that runs across the map, abandoned and home to flying bandits (this is the grey line)
- mining towns run by the East Wind Company, who combine ruthless capitalism with qi gong
- satellite shamans who may or may not derive strange radio powers from orbital gods
- a cadre of deadly lawpersons bound to clean up the hinterlands, whether the locals like it or not

It's too long to post here so I'm giving it to you in this Google doc. i hope that u like it

DESERT
MOUNTAINS
HILLS
FORESTED HILLS
SCRUBLAND

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Kaiju Generator

Base animal
  1. Ape
  2. Tortoise
  3. Crab
  4. Mantis
  5. Iguana
  6. Mole
  7. Anglerfish
  8. Spider
  9. Porcupine
  10. Nautilus
  11. Centipede
  12. Moth
  13. Bat
  14. Armadillo
  15. Toad
  16. Chameleon
  17. Vulture
  18. Scorpion
  19. Wasp
  20. Penguin
Powers
  1. Extra head
  2. Radioactive
  3. Fire breath
  4. Frost breath
  5. Acid blood
  6. EMP blast
  7. Skin parasites
  8. Shoots spikes
  9. Shoots webs
  10. Camouflage
  11. Burrowing
  12. Laser eyes
  13. Summons storms
  14. Knows judo
  15. Sonic blast
  16. Plasma claws
  17. Atomic self-destruct
  18. Electrified
  19. Vents sound-eating fog
  20. Shed-skin duplicates
Behaviour
  1. Meeting up with other kaiju to fight
  2. Meeting up with other kaiju to breed
  3. Thinks city perfect place to lay eggs
  4. Already has babies, teaching them to hunt
  5. Just awoke from hibernation, cranky
  6. Seeks vengeance on humans who've disturbed its home
  7. Must kidnap and protect one particular human
  8. Must find place to weave cocoon and metamorphose into next life-cycle phase
  9. Restoring balance to nature by destroying artifacts of civilization
  10. Driven mad by radio transmissions
  11. Being controlled by pilot creatures that ride it
  12. Aggravated on purpose by hostile power
  13. Vanguard of alien invasion
  14. Hungry
  15. Hungry for one specific thing, i.e. plutonium
  16. Thinks city is living thing, trying to communicate with it
  17. Hiding in city from some greater threat
  18. Wants to be worshipped as a god
  19. Claiming city as its territory, marking boundaries with body fluid
  20. Only wants a friend
Target city
  1. Tokyo
  2. Shanghai
  3. Seoul
  4. Kuala Lumpur
  5. Honolulu
  6. Sydney
  7. San Francisco
  8. Las Vegas
  9. New York
  10. Washington, DC
  11. Miami
  12. Rio de Janeiro
  13. Buenos Aires
  14. London
  15. Moscow
  16. Venice
  17. Cairo
  18. Dubai
  19. Mumbai
  20. Cape Town
Greg Broadmore

Bonus Kaiju
  • Kaiser Kong - white ape with black Hitler moustache and spiked Prussian helmet. Grown in lab by German imperialists
  • Baroqueus - a Gothic cathedral brought to life by Satanic sorcerers and given humanoid form. The skies around it flock with gargoyles
  • Zozobra - a wicker giant that kidnaps children and puts them inside him. Could easily be defeated with fire, but that would kill the children
  • Kushiel - an angel of God, sent to purge the city of its sins. Four arms, lidless eyes, flaming sword, thirty stories tall
  • Ghostzilla - Godzilla but dead and a ghost. Intangible to buildings but not other kaiju
  • Kink Kong - ape in a gimp suit

Sunday, 19 February 2017

Lizardmen


  • Geckomen
Can't blink. Must constantly lick their own eyes. Small but surprisingly loud. Live in arboreal puzzle villages where the walls are floors and the floors are traps. If you attack one the jungle will ring with war-chirps as every geckoman in twenty miles is alerted to the threat you pose. Attack from the trees with small, powerful bows and poison-tipped arrows. Steal children and try to raise them as their own, but this never works because they can't figure out how to teach the children to walk on walls. Love pineapple and will gather around to lick at it with their little tongues.

Some of them can glide on skinflap wings. These are called "ptchyozoons" and held in high regard by the others. Others look exactly like leaves and attack from ambush.


  • Frillmen
Live lonely lives in deserts. Only want to scare people and cannot figure out why no-one is scared of them. Run up to travelers and bare their frills and go "naaaaaaarrrrrrrr". Get really annoyed when, instead of running in fear, people think they're hilarious and adorable. Then go home and write sad poetry about it. Actually quite talented poets. Much in demand as exotic pets. Aristocratic owners like to pierce the frills and put gold rings through them.


  • Molochmen
Sit alone in barren places feeding off the dew that condenses on their skin at dawn and dusk. Rarely move. Considered by some to be wise ascetics and sought out for the sagacity of their judgments, which must be paid for with a sacrifice of at least one hundred pounds of ants. Thought by others to be devils in ascetic guise whose alleged words of wisdom are in fact designed to insidiously corrupt the moral fibre of their disciples. Monarchs have been known to consult them - always in secret, to avoid being accused of blasphemy by those whom their decisions disadvantage.

Can shoot blood from their eyes. Anyone who sees someone covered in molochman blood will immediately know that person is guilty of some monstrous, though unspecified, sin, and must be punished in an appropriately brutal fashion.


  • Monitormen
Eat mostly carrion. Always have bits of rotting flesh caught between their teeth. Red saliva swarms with septic bacteria. Bite people, or stab them with saliva-dipped spears, then scuttle away and follow them around for several days waiting for them to die of infection. Hate doctors and have been known to perform daring raids into urban areas just to kill them. Love to raid graveyards, dig up fresh-buried corpses, bite them into swallowable chunks and leave the remains scattered untidily around the church steps. Only need to eat once a month and spend a lot of time lying on warm rocks, basking and digesting. Have a strict hierarchy based on size. The young live in trees and roll in shit to dissuade the old from eating them.


  • Iguanamen
Amphibious. A dull, sooty black, the same colour as the volcanic beach boulders they live on. Stubby faces are always encrusted with salt, which they blow from their nostrils like whales. Eat algae. Live on isolated islands and are desperately curious about the outside world, but are thought by sailors to bring bad luck to any ship that allows one on board. Will try to stow away in holds, though they're thrown overboard if caught. Proverbially ugly. Love games - have a deceptively simple-seeming form of checkers that they play with pebbles on boards drawn in the sand. Also love really bad jokes/ Worship the Volcano Woman, who they believe cursed them into their current hideous forms and will, if they are sufficiently good, one day make them beautiful again. Sacrifice beautiful things to the Volcano Woman when they think nobody's watching.


  • Tuataramen
Third eye on top of the head can see the future. Deep time agents from a long-forgotten age of reptiles, Take jobs as henchmen for low-tier warlocks and secretly manipulate their actions as part of an impossibly complex, millennia-long plan to resurrect the Lizard Queen and bring about the dawn of a new Scaled Epoch in which humans will once more flee and cower before their cold-blooded masters. The only ones who know about this are the rats, and the Rat King works in opposition to them wherever possible. They kill rodents on sight.

Monday, 6 February 2017

More Lovecraft Villains

The people who run the British Museum are evil. Where other cults sacrifice children, they gain power through the imprisonment and ritual degradation of entire cultures. Their agents are always hunting for more artefacts to put on display, deliberately mislabeled and stripped of context in a way that implies the people who made it were talentless savages, or just to leave in a drawer somewhere gathering dust. Wherever possible, they promote the treatment of foreigners with mockery and contempt and encourage all good Englishmen to approach the outside world with an attitude of smug and self-satisfied incuriosity. To steal something from them is always an act of liberation, and an effective way to strike back against the toad-faced, incestuous gentry who are their patrons.

Anyway, let's talk about Lovecraft.

1. Cauchemas, le Roi du Crime. The terror of the Parisian underworld is rarely seen in person, and never spoken of above a whisper. His gang of hyperviolent Apaches stalks the streets of Montmartre and Pigalle, breaking tourists' heads against the cobblestones for no more reward than the handful of centimes in their pockets. It is said that he operates several hell-themed nightclubs, that half the police have sworn fealty to him and that every member of his operation is freakishly strong, even the old woman who reigns over his clan of urchin pickpockets.

But he is most famed, and most feared, for his impossible crimes. A baroness who mocked him at a party was swallowed alive by a gigantic python while her husband, on the other side of the bathroom door, heard not a sound. An inspector of the Sûreté was found, suffocated to death, in his own office, which had been completely filled with sand. A coal-shoveller aboard a steamship heard a terrible banging sound coming from inside his furnace, and opened it up to discover a police informant who had disappeared from his jail cell several hours earlier. Nothing Cauchemas does is technically against the laws of nature, but all defies simple and rational explanation. As long as Paris is too scared to move against him, he holds the city in his grasp.


2. Diego Mandragora, poet. Madrid's most beloved man of letters has published four volumes of a verse epic, modelled on the Icelandic sagas, which tells in painstaking detail the history of an alternate Earth. It is a world of heresiarchs, stone mirrors, metal pyramids, invisible tigers and towers of blood, whose inhabitants speak a nounless language and believe that all things in nature are essentially indivisible. Those who investigate the young artists and philosophers who make up his inner circle, or probe too deeply into their curious belief that when the poem is complete the world we know will be swept away and remade as Mandragora's, are sometimes found mauled to death, as if by a wild beast who they were for some reason helpless to defend themselves against.


3. The Batrachi family. One of Venice's longest-established aristocratic bloodlines, their ancestors lived in the lagoon long before there was a city there. One son is a Fascist colonel. Another is a cardinal in Rome. The older members wear black mantillas or carnival masks, claiming leprosy or disfiguring wounds received in the great war. They all come home to visit Nonna Nero, who dwells beneath the crumbling ancestral manor in a moon-pool that opens onto the filthy canals, her fat neck ringed with a ruff of lacelike whiskers and her great body swollen with thousands of unfertilised eggs.


4. Emil Kaltenberg, atomic physicist. Thought a kook by the scientific mainstream, Kaltenberg and the alternate system of physics he propounds as the Doctrine of Inevitable Winter have achieved a cult following among the leadership of the newly ascendant Nazi party. They provide him with the funding he needs to build his cloud chambers, where subjects are imprisoned in a glass cage full of freezing mist and exposed to intense radiation in the hopes of stimulating visions of the future and confirming Kaltenberg's theory that Ice is the primal substance of all reality. His aim, it seems, is to communicate with the dark quasi-human sorcerers that reign over the Hyperborean wasteland which Earth will become once the Sun goes out, and wield their sinister powers in aid of the Third Reich. Rumor, as yet unfounded, suggests that he has a secret basement beneath a Berlin cabaret where he feeds people to a degenerate crab-thing from the future.


5. Max Hochstapler, alienist. The troubled and traumatised journey from across the globe to visit the Vienna office of Hochstapler, specialist in the analysis of dreams. He will listen to your dreams, note them down in his leatherbound journal and tell you exactly what they mean. Then, once you're gone, he will add your information to the huge chart he is drawing up of the Dreamlands, the mystical realm that all of us enter when we pass beyond the veil of sleep. Hochstapler knows more of that world than anyone before in human history. By instructing his patients to perform certain actions in their dreams, he can subtly influence the politics of that complex and ancient world, tilting the balance between cats and nightgaunts or moonbeasts and Men of Leng. He is yet to discover how this benefits him, be he is sure he can find a way. It is of little interest to him if some of his unwitting agents never wake up.


6. Antheia Manolakis, maenad. The newly-established Hellenic Republic demands a rebirth of true Hellenic religion, unsullied by the influence of Abrahamic upstarts. Antheia is using her late husband's money to resurrect the ancient mystery cults, leading her all-female followers into subterranean temples to consume hallucinogenic mead and perform ecstatic rites in veneration of the gods beneath the earth. No-one has yet found out what happens to the young men who try to spy on them.


7. Nikolai Zarubin, mad monk. A consort to princes under the Tsar, Zarubin was apparently assassinated during the revolution, only to show up later in Leningrad at the head of a sect of mystically-minded Bolsheviks who call themselves the God Builders. True comprehension of communism, they claim, enables one not only to liberate the mind but to travel between the stars and resurrect the dead. Those who question this doctrine are pointed to the bullet wounds still in Zarubin's forehead as evidence. His agents are active throughout Europe, sabotaging industry and seeking ancient knowledge in an attempt to bring about the full emancipation of all mankind.


8. Haakon Svendsen, explorer. Since the whaling ship found him off the coast of Greenland, clinging to a piece of debris that was all which remained of the airship supposed to take him across the Pole, Svendsen has become increasingly reclusive and paranoid. He kept his return to Oslo quiet, ducking the parade that the king had arranged in his honour, and now spends most of his time at his family estate on the lichen-encrusted Hardangervidda plateau. He is seeking a way to defend himself from the tupilaq, avenging spirits sent to pursue him by the shaman-kings of the lost city he was sent by the British Museum to invade and desecrate. The ring of blood he has drawn around his sod-roofed cabin is keeping them away for now, but the local villagers are beginning to wonder what happened to the child he's keeping in his basement.

Friday, 27 January 2017

WORLD'S MOST EVIL HYDRA

The WORLD'S MOST EVIL HYDRA possesses the heads of history's greatest villains. It is born from the paradox created when somebody tries to go back in time and kill Hitler.
  1. STALIN. Bite causes victims to slowly fade from reality. Their past actions are undone, beginning with the most recent, until they are entirely edited out of history. If they've chopped off any heads, those heads will regrow.
  2. POL POT. Anyone looking at this head through glasses, or any other kind of manufactured lens, must save or die instantly.
  3. NERO. Breathes fire. The flames crackle with the sound of fiddle music.
  4. BIN LADEN. Tall buildings in the vicinity spontaneously collapse.
  5. VLAD DRACULA. Causes wooden stakes to spring out of the ground beneath people.
  6. THATCHER. Iron teeth. Bite curses victims with slow starvation.
  7. CASTRO. Breathes cloud of foul-smelling, vision-blocking, lung-invading cigar smoke.
  8. JUDAS. Barfs a torrent of silver onto the ground. Anyone who takes the silver will be compelled to betray their friends.
  9. BLACKBEARD. Beard braided into writhing pigtails, stuck through with lighted matches, that entangle foes and burn them.
  10. NIXON. Pins victims down with its jowls and drowns them in flopsweat.
  11. CALIGULA. All horses in the vicinity become senators and refuse to obey the authority of their riders.
  12. TRUMP. Endless stream of blather forces victims to save against confusion and despair.
  13. MAO. Gaze forces victims to kneel in place and confess how they have betrayed the revolution. Failure to confess anything will result in laceration with broken glass.
  14. RICHARD III. Seems surprisingly reasonable. Whispers to party one at a time, sowing demoralisation and discord.
  15. TOJO. Birds and other flying things divebomb its victims and explode into balls of fire.
  16. CROMWELL. Any monarch within a mile who takes any damage will immediately die.
  17. MCCARTHY. Victims must save or be convinced that the hydra is an illusion created by secret witches.
  18. MACHIAVELLI. Hangs back and advises the other heads, making them more cunning and powerful.
  19. PUTIN. Knows the most embarrassing secret of anyone it fights and will threaten to reveal it unless they serve its agenda.
  20. RASPUTIN. Hypnotic stare. Can't be chopped off until it has been drowned, shot and poisoned.
  21. ATTILA THE HUN. Head can't be cut off, but will die if given a nosebleed.
  22. THE KRAYS. These two heads will regrow unless they are chopped off simultaneously.
  23. NED KELLY. Head can't be cut off unless iron helmet is first removed. Attacks with headbutts. Hates coppers.
  24. LEOPOLD II. On a critical hit, bites off a hand.
  25. ROBESPIERRE. On a critical hit, bites off a head.
  26. JACK THE RIPPER. On a critical hit, tears out a random organ with its teeth.
  27. MUSSOLINI. Hydra is accompanied by 1d20 low-level thugs in black clothing, who will flee if this head is defeated.
  28. GENGHIS KHAN. Hydra is accompanied by 2d4 horse archers, who will flee if this head is defeated.
  29. AL CAPONE. Hydra is accompanied by 1d4 high-level enforcers from local thieves' guild, who will flee if this head is defeated. Bleeds moonshine.
  30. TORQUEMADA. Always gets a surprise attack, as nobody expects it.
oh god I put too much of my life into this monstrosity