Monday, 8 January 2018


A hexcrawl that I made, loosely based on Renaissance poetry and Celtic mythology. Basically this post but a whole setting instead of a set of tables. Unlike the last hexcrawl I made, this one is designed to be played with just standard D&D rules.


The continent of Faerie was colonised once before, by a nameless race of men who sailed west across the trackless Atlantic in the time before the Romans came to Britain. Their dykes and dolmens still scar the land. Their degenerate descendants, the Hairy Men, fell to worshipping pagan gods and became little better than beasts. By the time of St. Brendan the Navigator, who first claimed the continent for Christendom, they were too deeply steeped in sin to greet him with anything but sticks and stones.

The Marcher Lords followed in Brendan’s wake. They hold their corner of Faerie in the name of England’s king, though not a man among them is certain of his name. They keep the peace, suppress the Hairy Men, mount pointless campaigns against each other and sponsor doomed military expeditions into the western wilderness. Their peasants labour as thanklessly as they would in any other feudal state. A steady stream of exiles, rogues and outcasts arrive in the eastern harbours, fleeing persecution or seeking fortune.


Sunday, 29 October 2017



I actually wrote this last year in an interactive-fiction program called Ink, but we didn't get around to hosting it until now. It's still a little clunky but you guys should be able to figure out how to play it. Takes a little while to load, there's no visible scroll bar and there's no reset button so you have to reload the page when you die. Ink is better than Twine in most ways but the lack of free hosting is a killer.

The game is about an awful wizard that you have to find and kill. I hope that you enjoy it.

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Gangster Generator

Here is a gangster generator I made instead of working on my thesis. For best results, read every entry in a Tony Soprano accent while listening to this.

Friday, 13 October 2017

The Art of Nine Limbs

Substitute Monk rules for our 5th Ed Yoon Suin game

Practitioners of Lethwei, the Art of Nine Limbs, learn one technique from the below list every level. Your Monk level must be equal to or higher than the level of the technique you wish to master, and you must learn these techniques from a master. This could mean training you Bull Style under the head of a martial arts school, or perfecting your Cobra Technique by striking the vital points of a hundred actual cobras

Use the Monk stats for hp (d8), proficiency, etc. Your unarmed attacks deal 1d4 damage and you gain an additional attack every third level. You can only use your Monk abilities while wearing no armour

truly, every part of the Siamese is blessed with venom

1 Boar - rushing attacks, especially with elbows and knees
Charge forward and strike with blinding speed. You always win initiative if starting your turn with this move
Bull - powerful charging strikes
Charge forward and strike with the power of a bull tossing its horns. Throw people around, flip carts, mess up china shops
2 Deer - short leaps away from an attacker
Actively dodge for the turn and you cannot be hit in melee
Eagle - sweeping and blocking with both hands
Actively dodge for the turn and you cannot be hit by projectiles
3 Python - chokes and locks
Lock onto an opponent after a successful attack. If subsequent turns are spent maintaining the grip, the target is paralysed
Scorpion - pinching and seizing nerve centres
Block the target’s chakras after a successful attack; they cannot cast spells for 1d6 turns
4 Monkey - agile movements (requires Deer style)
Perform any non-combat action while dodging and still avoid all melee attacks. Jackie Chan shenanigans
Heron - fast arm movements and short jumps (requires Eagle style)
Actively dodge for the turn and you can redirect up to two projectiles from any volley
5 Viper - attacks to the lower vital points
The target’s movement speed is reduced to half and they lose dex bonuses to AC for the rest of the day. On a crit you may cripple them
Cobra - attacks to the upper vital points
If the target attempts to exert themselves next turn, they take your maximum unarmed damage
6 Tiger - clawing attacks
Your unarmed attacks ignore all armour. Your fingers can gouge metal plate, crush rock, pulverise trees
Leopard - circling; leaping at and tearing at opponents
While above half health, you cannot be struck in melee by anyone lower level than you
13 Black Panther - taught by some teachers as a combination of all the animal forms
Once per day, when below half health, you can spend your turn performing a nine strike combo on a single target. Roll nine attacks. If all nine strikes hit, the target receives triple damage

Friday, 6 October 2017

some miscellaneous generators

I put some of the name generators from our ecosystem generator and our dungeon generator on Twine and set it up so you can generate them individually. Maybe that's useful, I don't know. HERE THEY ARE.

Friday, 22 September 2017


This is a map of Hyperborea. Or at least the part of it I'm putting in my book.

The anchor in the lower right is KINGSMOUTH. I wrote about this before as Kesselhaven but I'm going to change the name and some of the details. This is the Yellow City of the setting - the hub that adventures will tend to begin from. It's part Jacobean London and part Melville's Nantucket.

Kingsmouth is a whaling city, lit and kept warm by gutters full of flaming oil that run from stone hilltop towers into the harbour. It is ruled by King Jasper Stuart, who lives in fear of dissident Levellers that want to behead him and distribute his oil-wealth among the people. He is served by an order of secret police called the Illuminators, who harvest oil from the nornhvalur, the witch-whale, every winter solstice and burn it in lanterns whose light exposes people's secret desires. They're based out of a huge lighthouse carved from a single gigantic tusk.

Everyone in Kingsmouth is born female, becomes a boy after their first voyage on a whale-ship and becomes a man after seven full years served at sea. Gender roles are enforced. The slums are run by criminal wivegangs, made up of sailors' wives and widows. Bear-baiting, plays and public executions are all popular entertainments. The theatre companies are censored by the King and always trying to flout the law. Minor criminals are sent to a prison hulk called the Adventure. Major ones are maimed, boiled alive in oil or staked outside naked to freeze to death.

In the book all this stuff will be written up in table format so you can generate a pub or a play or a creative mode of execution or w/e. I want it to design it so you can pull out individual tables and use them in other contexts.

The church in the centre right of the map is TOLERANCE. It's a settlement of Levellers, gloomy black-clad puritans who hold all property in common and have declared joy illegal. They have no ruler. The ruler they don't have is Praise-Poverty Vandersmeer, a charismatic Cromwellian preacher who believes the reign of man is at an end and the Hierarchs (standard elder gods) will soon arise from their slumber in Hyperborea's frozen heart to inaugurate an eternal winter across every possible reality. Still working on these guys.

In the upper right is GLASSHEIM, the obsidian tower of the sorcerer Roald Amundsen. It's built in the path of a glacier, fixed to the bedrock, and the glacier breaks around it like a river flowing around a bridge pylon. Amundsen is not technically a lich. He has learnt how to enter a meditative state of living death, lowering his calorie intake to the point where it's negligible and training his body to survive on less than a single breath a day. He intends to live forever, to conquer entropy itself, and is already planning to make himself king of the beyond-the-zero negaverse that he anticipates will follow the heat death of the cosmos. The airship Italia is tethered to the top of the tower. He is using it as a base to communicate with the spirits who live in the aurora, which he believes are outside of Time. He has several children with a princess of Zulshiban and has a pact with that subterranean nation.

The totem in the lower left is the THING ROCK, a lone monolith in the tundra that plays home to the skraeling parliament.

All animals are just humans wearing masks. A long time ago the first human, Peacemaker, went around wooing the most beautiful maiden among each kind of animal, getting her pregnant and convincing her to take her mask off. Thus the hundred skraeling clans were born. Each clan owns a longhouse where the clan Grandmother lives. She runs the clan and keeps safe her ancestor's mask, which allows any clan woman who wears it to take the shape of their totem animal. Children are of their mother's clan, and marrying inside the clan is incest.

Each clan gets to send a representative to the parliament, the All Thing, where the peace of the skraeling Confederacy is maintained. They are constantly at each other's throats over petty bullshit. They throw huge potlatches, competing to see who can sacrifice the most food, masks, metal, mammoths, dogs, caribou and slaves. They play a brutally violent ballgame, like lacrosse or hurling, with a leather ball and whalebone paddles. Masks are titles, deeds to hunting grounds, markers of membership in secret societies and ownership of particular songs. They're often used as currency.

Shamans are outside the clan system and act as impartial judges, a bit like the Supreme Court if part of their job was to enforce the boundary between life and death. Everything is alive and has a soul. When you die you go up into the aurora or down into the darkness under the sea. Or you can lease your soul to a shaman and become their ghost-slave for a while. Sky Elves are the ghosts of children who never grew up. They want friends but don't understand ethics, and will kidnap you away to starve in sky palaces or play ball-games with your head. Rock Elves are wizened old people who hid under the earth until their soul withered away from lack of light. They are sad and frightened and will live forever. Renegade shamans are loathed and feared, like cops gone bad. The child of two shamans is always a monster.

The tents in the centre left are on BEAR ISLAND. The Bear People were exiled from the Confederacy centuries ago for the crime of cannibalism. They still insist that cannibalism is a perfectly reasonable survival strategy in a resource-poor environment like Hyperborea. They've cut a deal for Zulshiban to use their island as a staging-ground for slave-raids. Their beaches are strewn with scavengers and bones.

The palace in the upper left is ZULSHIBAN. The bay ends in a cliff of ice, floating in the water, a hundred metres high with ninety percent of its mass below the surface. Tunnels called the Maws have been bored into the ice, wide enough for five ships - usually Zulshibani triremes rowed by crews of slaves - to travel abreast. They lead to the Hungry Ocean, a secret sea that runs through the caves beneath the Hyperborean icecap. Caisson locks allow ships to pass while preventing its blood-red waters from draining away into the waters of the surface. The Hungry Ocean is inhabited by a prehistoric civilisation of sapient bacteria and produces heat when fresh blood is fed to it, particularly the blood of intelligent creatures. The city of Zulshiban sits on its shore, surrounded by tropical jungle, in a huge warm humid cavern below a roof of dripping blue ice. Every year they have less slaves to feed it. Every year it gives less heat, their farms fail, their armies falter and their culture becomes weaker.

The bacteria colonise living hosts to interact with the wider world. A colonised creature is called a ghoul. Each is a nation in its own right and its actions are as cryptic and erratic as those of nations. The will of animal ghouls is swiftly overwhelmed. Human ghouls generally achieve a kind of eccentric symbiosis with the kingdoms rooted in their flesh, and often get psychic powers or some other kind of mutation-table effect. The current Empress of Zulshiban was anointed with sacred oils and bathed in the lake as a newborn. She is one thousand years old, inhuman and almost unkillable, to the chagrin of her daughters.

The fighting pits of Zulshiban are famous. Janissary slave-soldiers fight dinosaurs and degenerate pale crab-things from far below the earth, knowing the loser will be fed to the Ocean. Exotic spices are grown in the jungle, vampire orchids are raised and carnivorous worms spin silk. The aristocrats of the city indulge in every type of luxury, seeming not to care that each bite of peach or puff of black opium brings their society closer to the end.

Beyond the southern edge of the map is probably Hyperaustralis, Mount Penglai, the pleasure palace of Xu Fu and some kind of Sino-Mongolian steppe. I already have enough to work with, though.

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Castles of the Marcher Lords

The Marcher Lord (roll twice)

  1. Extremely proud of his big bushy uncombed food-stained red beard
  2. Coddles his hounds, kicks servants around like they were mongrels
  3. Compulsively cracks his knuckles and hums ballads under his breath
  4. Likes to prove his toughness by breaking stuff over his bald head
  5. Laughs very loudly at inappropriate times. Loathes the humourless
  6. Launches arrows at birds and beasts from his bedchamber window
  7. Absolute stickler for the law. Punishes even the pettiest crimes
  8. Assumes everyone's trying to outwit him. Second-guesses everything
  9. Alcoholic. Cruel when sober. Melancholy and regretful when drunk
  10. Loves chess. Harbours secret hatred for anyone who beats him
  11. Searches chronicles for evidence of crimes against his ancestors
  12. Knows the name and face of every last one of his subjects
  13. Gaunt and sinister. Vomits up two-thirds of everything he eats
  14. Always remodeling the castle. Can't make his mind abut it
  15. Disgusted by his own sexual impulses. Self-flagellates a lot
  16. Gets splitting headaches that confine him to bed for weeks on end
  17. Eats more than should be possible for any one man. Missing teeth
  18. Absolutely devoted to his wife. Gives her anything she wants
  19. Loathes his children and beats them on the slightest pretext
  20. Completely sane. Pretends to be mad for political reasons