Wednesday, 18 November 2020

d20 more anomalous media

 Based on this Throne of Salt post. See also this guy. I'm taking it as read that all of this takes place in the Black Auction universe.

1. List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1975-1979) - Wikipedia article. Contains several incidents not attested to by any other source, including the loss of an Israeli Lockheed C-130 Hercules over the Sinai Peninsula to what witnesses described as a "fist of light". These are tagged with [citation needed], but have not been taken down.

2. Krantz-Bohannon film - Silent 8mm film sequence shot in 1969 on the banks of the Klamath River in southern Oregon. Depicts a young man in a mohair jacket, provisionally identified as convenience-store worker Lee Bohannon, standing proudly over the corpse of an ape-like biped, holding a shotgun. As another biped lurches from the woods behind him, the video cuts out.

3. Matrakçı Nasuh map - World map compiled from Arabic and Portuguese sources in 1554 by Matrakçı Nasuh, the Bosniak polymath and Janissary. Includes an extremely detailed chart of the Antarctic coast, possibly derived from the missing fragments of the Piri Reis map, illustrated with black pyramids and leechlike creatures not found in nature.

4. "Never Give A Dollar To A Droggo" - Meme template originating on the 4chan board /pol/, in which a crude caricature of an emaciated, dog-headed creature stealthily picks a white man's pocket. Variations on the meme stereotype the "droggo" as being greedy, congenitally deceitful, superficially charming and prone to consuming his own vomit.

5. - Kindle-formatted Hyperborean grimoire. Will "colonise" other books on the same device, inserting references to a toadlike divinity beneath Greenland. Novels become horror stories, books of science propose nonstandard theories and history books develop footnotes attributing catastrophes to the influence of antediluvian cults.

6. McKinley-Bryan debate - Livestream, briefly hosted on CNN website, of a televised presidential debate from 1896. A visibly uncomfortable McKinley, gleaming with sweat under the studio spotlights, attempts several times to interrupt Bryan's lectures on the silver standard, the plight of American labor and the villainy of Charles Darwin.

7. Screen Cheats - 2003 webcomic about two best friends who play videogames and their wisecracking roommate, a talking llama who smokes cigars. Goes in increasingly surreal directions after the 2007 Epic Mike arc, where the friends meld with their gaming couch to become a bloblike "pleasure hybrid", much to the llama's distress.

8. The Spreadable Pooch - Unreleased eleventh episode of Wallace and Gromit's Cracking Contraptions. Annoyed by Gromit's failure to fetch the newspaper on time, Wallace sculpts a new dog out of Wensleydale cheese and brings it to life with a bolt of lightning. While he goes about his day, blissfully unaware, Gromit must fight to stop it assimilating all organic matter in the village.

9. "It Screams When You Step On It" - Series of magazine ads for the 1984 Isuzu Intruder, featuring the car driving down a misty road at night with a blurred, ghostlike figure visible behind the smeared glass of the windshield. The copy promises "authentic pagan engineering" and "the only car on the market that feels real pain!"

10. What Went Wrong - Political tell-all book written by an unnamed staffer purporting to have worked on George H. W. Bush's 1992 re-election campaign, attributing his loss to a "failure to appease the Sunken Ones" and Clinton's base of support among "the hounds of Apollo", as well as a lack of decisive action on the budget deficit.

11. The Towers Benighted - 1824 oil painting by the English calamity artist John Martin, depicting the exact moment at which American Airlines Flight 11 made contact with the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Distraught citizens gaze up at the burning towers from the rubble-strewn streets of a decaying city, overhung by swirling plumes of apocalyptic smoke.

12. "Ihre Festung hat kein Dach" - 50,000 propaganda leaflets dropped from the sky over Stuttgart in 1954, claiming that humanity's defeat is inevitable and promising a reward to any soldier who defects to the invading forces. Followed by the disappearance of a Martin B-57 Canberra tactical bomber from Ramstein Air Base in southern Germany, along with its pilot.

13. Where Do Chuckles Come From? - 1959 children's book about a curious mouse who wants to know the origin of laughter. After a series of adventures that involve tickling a big pink pig and making fun of a frog, he finds a deep cave in the side of a hill that all the other animals tell him is "where laughter really comes from, right down at the bottom". The last two pages have been torn out.

14. Dev Kahraman 6 - 1974 Turkish cult superhero film about a Mexican wrestler saving Istanbul from Spider-Man, who lacks any of his usual spider powers but can turn anyone he touches into a copy of himself. Full of copyright violations, including a Chewbacca cameo and unauthorised use of Hans Zimmer's soundtrack to Batman Begins.

15. Else We Are Savages: Translation and Barbarism in Early Modern France - 2002 PhD thesis from a graduate student at the University of Hull which claims to prove, through painstaking textual analysis, that Michel de Montaigne was consumed and replaced by a Brazilian cannibal in 1579, and the history of French literature must be wholly reinterpreted in light of this fact.

16. Empty Planet - 2013 BBC documentary on subterranean fauna, narrated by Sir David Attenborough. Covers the Slovenian olm, the Pilbara blind eel, the bat-eating centipede of Venezuela and the pink-shanked langur of Xe Bang Fai, never before caught on film. The last two episodes were scrapped after the disappearance of a camera crew beneath Kentucky's Pennyroyal Plateau.

17. Princess Time! - YouTube Kids channel with over 13,000 videos of Eastern European actresses dressed as Disney characters, acting out short, algorithmically-generated scenarios about toilets, pregnancy and medical experiments. Endorsed by several prominent child psychologists as a safe and healthy way to process pre-adolescent trauma.

18. The Invisible Gorilla: How Our Bodies Know What Our Brains Deny - Bestselling 2017 pop-psychology book by self-proclaimed "concrete Jungian" Dr. Bryson Valentine. Sets out nine simple rules for living that enable anyone to build confidence, overcome anxiety and percieve the vampiric entities who walk among us unseen, enslaving us and sapping our sexual energy.

19. Šílenci - 1933 Czech horror film about a discredited doctor converting his enemies into circus freaks and selling them to an American showman. Notable for its use of actors with real disabilities. The surgical scenes have been closely studied by effects designers, Soviet censors and medical professionals, but it remains unclear how they could have been simulated.

20. Prisms & Pentacles - Orphaned D&D blog. Posts about spell tables and lists of medieval professions gradually supplanted by long, rambling personal essays, reviews of nonexistent films, prolonged exegesis of fictional scripture from an Old Testament-inspired setting never fully detailed. Final post in 2019 anticipates the recent discovery of a flayed corpse in the New Mexico desert.

Sunday, 25 October 2020

kingsmouth locations

 Looking at Hyperborea again. Been a long time since I touched it. I have a lot of material in Google docs still begging to be assembled into some kind of usable form.

The city of Kingsmouth is like industrial London if it ran on whale-oil and was run by Cromwell if Cromwell was also Stalin. Probably. I've culled some material from this old post, which now seems very overwritten but still has gems. Work in progress but I expect you can find a use for it.

  1. The Brown Beast. Pub at end of pier. Trapdoors in floor for surprise disposal of rowdy patrons. Trained seal assists one-armed bartender. Serves thick red ale that tastes of iron, and wafers of revelation - chunks of ship’s biscuit infected with hallucinogenic mold.
  2. The Mermaid. Spacious tavern for playwrights and philosophers. Serves ice wine, roast bear, skry, hairy lobster and cloudberries. Courtyard where illicit satirical skits are performed, under the protection of the hairy-armed and crooked local magistrate.
  3. The Bitter Draught. A tavern so small only one person can fit inside it. Serves thimble-sized glasses of a pale green sticky substance that induces drastic and permanent personality changes. Widely rumoured to have a trapdoor in the floor that leads to secret tunnels. Doesn’t.
  4. The Pale Whale. A narrow alleyway roofed over and turned into an ale-hall. The slops of all the drinks are poured into the gutter that runs down the middle, beneath the arching skeleton of the whale that killed the greasy bartender’s brother. Drunkards with straws plague the downhill roads.
  5. The Yellow Sign. Cozy hole-in-the-wall that sells tiny cakes and kaf, a stimulating black nectar from the underworld. Owned by the Zulshibani ambassador, who lounges in a silk robe on one of the overstuffed couches, reading and gossiping about politics.
  6. Glimselby Hall. Fire-gutted galleon hauled halfway up a hillside. Crammed with beggars huddling together for warmth, sometimes fed by smug nuns who make them pray for their daily bowl of oatmeal. Killer called the Bittervetch haunts the nearby streets.
  7. The Dry Magazines. Abandoned warehouses, their contents untouchable due to complex legal dispute. Guarded by pack of disciplined law dogs, bred by solicitors to prevent theft. Squatters in roof. Something nasty imported from Zulshiban growing in the cellar.
  8. Horeb’s Hole. Warehouse cleared to make space for primitive menagerie and bear-baiting ring. Horeb pays well for exotic animals to set his dogs on - tigers, white apes, sea scorpions and baby mammoths. He’ll give his gold tooth to anyone who can fight his prize bear, Muggleton, bare-handed.
  9. The Rindelstraat. Trench of burning effluent runs between canvas stalls of jabbering speculators, buying and selling shares in trading voyages and adventuring companies, dabbing scented oils beneath their noses and using sign language to cut through the din.
  10. Reprimand Square. Stage for public tortures and humiliations. Petty thieves, naked and frostbitten, dangle in iron cages. Children poke them with sharp sticks. A monarchist hangs over a fire-pit, pleading for mercy as vendors of honey-roasted nuts prepare for the evening’s burning.
  11. Disputation Square. Actually a pentagon. Overrun by dissident preachers and philosophers all screaming at each other, teetering on stacks of furniture to get more height. Disguised police agents hang around, egging them on and taking notes.
  12. The Grabyard. Empty gravel-strewn lot where bare-knuckle boxing matches are staged every Sabbath morning. Current champion is a skraeling harpoonist who proudly brags that the mouse is his spirit animal. Warehouses on either side contain gyms.
  13. Oosenkrupp Manor. High on side of black hill, overlooking the icy bay. Home to mad old woman, last scion of wealthy family, who fears thieves and spends all her money rigging the house up with diabolical traps. Also two cats named Greesome and Flitterkins.
  14. The House Of Love. Sprawling thick-walled mansion complex, home to secretive sect of fur traders. Members are blonde, fat-faced, wall-eyed and prodigiously strong. They all claim to be married to each other, which is only not illegal by virtue of being nonsensical.
  15. Cathedral of Saint Yonah. Fills up every Sabbath morning with hymn-singers and flagellators in wire gloves, bleeding into collection bowls. Stained glass tells the story of Yonah and the whale. Only those lost at sea can legally be buried in the somehow-haunted crypts.
  16. Akrabbim Station. Bustling central watch-house with half-drunk, well-meaning captain presiding over the bullpen. Crooks dragged in by their ears and hurled into filthy, overcrowded holding cells until the magistrates sort them out.
  17. Blackbride Hospital. Theatre that evades the law against drama by pretending to be a lunatic asylum. Official story is the players are madmen, being exhibited for educational purposes. Employs several dozen actual madmen to keep appearances up.
  18. The Hierophant Club. Plush armchairs, deep liquor cellars and armed guards to keep the riff-raff out. The retired explorers who attend the club have a love of extravagant wagers, which leads to attempts at bear-wrestling and flights across the ice in burning balloons.
  19. The Ivory Tower. Lighthouse at bay’s end carved from ribcage of unspeakable leviathan. Base of secret police. In times of chaos its guttering red flame can be fueled with oil from the witch-whale, creating a brilliant white light that reveals everyone’s inmost sins and secrets.
  20. Flaywhistle Palace. Meeting-place of the Kingsmouth Parliament, presided over by First Citizen Praise-Poverty Vandersmeer. Home to King Jasper Stuart before the revolution. Smoke-stained debate halls and MPs’ offices in rust-spiked turrets with private balconies overlooking the sea.
look at all these illustrations by the perfect genius gustave dore

Sunday, 18 October 2020

the black auction 3

 Dear ______,

Do not be alarmed. Events are proceeding as anticipated.

The Black Auction of 2020 will take place December 21st at a private facility on Rothschild Island. Guests lacking their own means of transport are encouraged to secure a berth aboard the Blue Rose, which sets sail from Ushuaia precisely seventy-two hours before commencement of the event. We regret you to inform you that the local nightlife offers limited opportunities, although the scenery is without peer and the bar is of course fully stocked.

We understand this has been a difficult year, but we must reiterate that the Committee maintains total control. It is true that the next phase cannot be delayed, but we have some very promising opportunities for evacuation available at reasonable cost. Our keynote speaker, Senator Harris, will by December be in a position to advise you on how best to prepare yourself.

Please find enclosed the Auction catalogue. As always, we cannot guarantee it is complete. 

Monday, 28 September 2020


  1. Old Earth. Like living on a Civil War battlefield. Drowned cities and nuclear exclusion zones. Soil pregnant with the ash of a thousand tragedies. Sterotypes about Terrans - they live in castles, they talk to ghosts, they're secretly a thousand years old and drink the blood of the innocent to stay young. Lagos is the new Tokyo and the President lives inside the Moon.
  2. Socrates VII. Home to Yarnell College, the galaxy's most prestigious university, as well as ten thousand lesser institutions of learning. Pompous beyond belief. Disgruntled professors form cults and student riots raze cities. Academics plot for decades to secure a one-in-a-thousand shot at tenure. Prank wars between colleges sometimes turn atomic.
  3. Tantalus the Love Planet. That is its official full name. Founded by polyamorous hippies who are sex-positive to an irritating degree. Fragrant jungles, warm lagoons and scenic valleys, all spoiled by the fact that someone is 100% guaranteed to be fucking in your field of vision. Even sex tourists rarely last more than a day. Kinkshaming punishable by death.
  4. Rattlebucket. Lifeless icy globule orbited by the aftermath of the greatest space battle in history. Layer upon layer of crashed, compressed starship, riddled by ventilation shafts and home to engine mutants who never see the sun. Upper strata are picked clean but salvageable proton torpedoes, military secrets and cryopreserved supersoldiers lie untouched in the depths.
  5. Kanaloa II. Ocean planet. Only a few specks of land. Home to mournful psychic leviathans and superintelligent squid, who probably would have taken over the galaxy by now if inventing fire had been an option for them. Humans in floating cities trade metal to the squid in exchange for seafloor pearls and mysteries. They're definitely not building spaceships with it.
  6. Vizhinjam. Situated on the Achernar Hyperstrait, a vital interstellar trade route. Home to thousands of spaceports, orbital drydocks and huge reeking bazaar cities ruled by obese decadent merchant princes where literally everything is for sale. Famous for its experimental curry chefs, who feud over access to the most exotic spices in the galaxy.
  7. Sunset Beach. Nobody under 70 can land here without a special permit. Retirement villages sprawling across tropical archipelagos, staffed by immigrant labourers who sleep in spartan dormitories well away from the nature trails and pickleball courts. Governed by a council of elders who command a small, elite force of hardbitten octogenarian mercenaries.
  8. Xavier III. Settled by missionaries who wanted to convert the local aliens to the Catholic faith. The aliens died of the common cold. The missionairies remained, establishing an antipope and using the planet's considerable gold reserves to fund a set of gigantic cathedrals in his honor. Now a major tourist attraction and pilgrimage destination.
  9. Bagatelle. No oceans, no continents, just an endless swampy morass of mud and water. No permanent settlements, only caravans of houseboats and airboats with hillbillies twanging banjos on the porch. Space gators, megasquitos, cannibal frogmen, parasite fireflies that burrow into your skin. Mile-deep stagnant sinkholes where the bog krakens lurk.
  10. Josephine IV. Governed by hundreds of warlords, every last one of which firmly believes they are destined to become Emperor of the Galaxy. Wide flat plains designed for cavalry engagements and narrow mountain valleys perfect for ambushes. Clever indigenous species of talking parrot-vulture offers strategic advice, cleans up mess.
  11. Big Pig Dig. Hollowed out and abandoned by a lost race of extraterrestrial miners. Now a flayed skeletal shell of a planet, half the core surgically removed, orbited by moons of slag that draw prospectors like flies. Dripping veins of rare deep-earth minerals guarded by crystal men, lava worms and the security forces of ruthless corporations.
  12. Flamingo Grande. Mafia-run casino planet where everything is a gamble. Ticket machines are slot machines. Waiters play blackjack for the bill. Criminals spin the wheel of punishment to see if they go free or get their kneecaps broken. Every thief dreams of tackling the impregnable vaults sunk a mile beneath the Fortress of Fortune, castle of Carmine the Cosmic Don.
  13. Nouveau-Tchad. Desert planet. Long winding canyons that flood every hundred years, when a race of sapient lungfish emerge to conduct the business of their very slow civilisation. The bedouin tribesmen who roam the desert consider their empty cities to be haunted, but won't balk at digging one up and eating it if they happen to run low on supplies.
  14. Poo World. Quiet agricultural planet, named by the six-year-old daughter of an explorer. Tourist board constantly tearing their hair out trying to attract more people to their sparkling beaches, breathtaking snowfields and charming native wildlife. Name change blocked by locals who have no desire to see their homes overrun.
  15. Malbork VI. Cut off from the galaxy for centuries by a hyperspace collapse, the original colonists regressed to medievalism and established a society of knights, castles, peasants and rigid gender roles. Yarnell College anthropologists bar anyone from making contact with the planet, and are widely thought to have set the whole thing up as an experiment.
  16. Nakamura II. Heavily fortified bunker planet occupied by holdouts from the losing side of the Second Galactic War, who refuse to acknowledge that the war is over and blast anyone who attempts to reason with them out of the sky. Children raised in fanatical loyalty to serve an emperor who's been dead for centuries, using weaponry that's hugely out of date.
  17. Daintree. Trees like mountains with branches as wide as city streets, woven into a canopy that blankets the globe. Jungle pygmies dwell in the sunless depths and come up at night, riding blind jaguars, to kidnap children from the colony towns in the upper reaches. The forest floor is theorised to be a mile-deep carpet of fungus and rot.
  18. Christmas Rose. Everything that grows here is diabolically poisonous, locked in an evolutionary arms race with iron-stomached herbivores that accumulate toxins in their flesh. Don't leave the domed cities without a full-body rubber suit and thirteen different antidotes in your system. The pharmaceutical researchers who live here are definitely not secret assassins.
  19. Bridewell. Tidally locked prison planet. Convicts get their choice of blazing arid wasteland or bitter icefields and permanent night. Daysiders and nightsiders hate each other. Small bands of escapees make a home along the temperate, dusky equator, living in fear of patrolling drones and the robot overseers who'll drag them back to the labor camps.
  20. New Earth. A retrofuturist paradise of flying cars and crystal spires, food pills and nuclear families, friendly robot servants and science priests in white togas. Founded by utopian rationalists who intended to develop the most advanced possible form of civilisation. Lives in fear of memetic corruption by communist worshippers of the Computer Devil.
from here

Sunday, 16 August 2020

the black auction 2

 Dear ______,

The Committee would like to assure its guests that our schedule remains unchanged. The Black Auction of 1968 will take place exactly as promised - on the evening of June 21st, the venue being Los Angeles' luxurious Ambassador Hotel. We believe that last week's events can only benefit the integrity of the Auction, although guests are advised that the facility may be subject to a slight uptick in popular attention. As the kitchen is still an active crime scene, it is politely requested that guests make their own arrangements for luncheon, although sandwiches are available on request. The Cocoanut Grove nightclub remains open for business.

As promised, this letter encloses a partial catalogue of the lots available for bidding. We regret that it is not complete, but remind our guests that nothing in life is certain.

Sunday, 26 July 2020

blazing kansas

Something bad is happening in Kansas. A strange meteor fell from the sky and the government has sent you to sort it out. A yellow brick highway leads between cornfields towards a distant green glow on the horizon.

This is a depth mechanic. Take a step into the zone by rolling d6 on each table and adding 2 for each step you've already taken. Keep going until you destroy the Super-Wizard. Or you could put it on a grid and treat it as a squarecrawl, it's up to you.

  1. Big white cross on the top of a hill. Crows circling overhead. Grants a blessing to anyone who's willing to kneel before it and commit their soul to Jesus Christ.
  2. Gas station. Wizened old man with shotgun behind the counter. He'll sell you snacks and potions if you can convince him you're not a thief or a jayhawker.
  3. Old-fashioned wooden grain elevator. The inside smells of sweet corn. Mutilated, rat-chewed bodies hang by necks from rafters. SLAVER written on walls in blood.
  4. Row of oil derricks. Guarded by a creaky, rust-riddled mechanical man. The slightest disturbance to the pumps will cause an explosive gusher that spews crude oil everywhere.
  5. Abandoned farmhouse. Haunted by spooky ghosts. In barn, covered by tarpaulin, strange machine of coiled glass that can project people into the Phantom Zone.
  6. Corn maze. Grows new walls to trap sinners. Scarecrow men lurk in the corn. Farm princess trapped in the longhorn minotaur's central lair - only her kiss can slay the beast.
  7. Wagon train. Pilgrims terrified of "Injuns", have circled their wagons to protect against surprise attack. On their way to ask the Super-Wizard to help them get to Oregon.
  8. Cheap motel. Clan of desperate bank robbers hiding out in room one through four. Innocent travelling salesman in room five. Pimpled teen on counter reading comic books.
  9. Revival meeting. Big white tent. Preacher baptising converts in a tin tub and inducting them into the Army of Gilead. Wants you to join and won't take no for an answer.
  10. Baseball field. Overgrown. Mechanical men play ball, their rusty joints squeaking, in front of the empty stands. Score a home run off the batter and he'll spit out a prize.
  11. Railway station. Glum hobos dwell in forgotton freight train, its wheels rusted to the track. Manic mechanical station-master insists on taking your ticket.
  12. Sculpture garden. Grotesque scrap-metal caricatures of celebrities and politicians. Owner has declared himself the Kansas antipope and wears a tinfoil mitre.
  13. Applebee's. In every way a fully-functioning, completely regular Applebee's. No trick whatsoever. Try the shrimp 'n' parmesan sirloin or the double-glazed baby-back ribs.
  14. Bible museum. Sleepy tame dinosaurs inhabit a life-size model of the Temple of Solomon. Friendly pastor explains how God created them to show that evolution is a lie.
  15. Saloon bar. Piano stops as you walk in. Whiskey-sodden desperadoes slump against the bar. Football plays on TV in the corner. High-stakes poker game going on upstairs.
  16. Wal-Mart. Libertarian management policies have led to a civil war raging between the aisles, with every department ruthlessly competing for your business.
  17. Meatpacking plant. Blood-smeared mechanical men herd screaming cows across the factory floor, slaughter them and extract their organs for use in Super-Wizardry.
  18. Clockwork factory. Mechanical men labouring tirelessly to produce more of their own. Interlopers have their brains chopped out and used in grotesque experiments.
  19. The Perfect City of the Super-Wizard. Lobotomised suburbanites with gleaming, drool-slick smiles shuffle between rows of identical green houses, watched by mechanical police.
  20. The Atomic Fortress of the Super-Wizard. Citadel of green crystal, home to a legion of mechanical men. Grew from a seed in a crashed alien spaceship.
  1. Looming grey tornado, slowly rolling towards you. Cows and houses orbiting around it. Psychic baby with giant brain levitating serenely in the eye.
  2. Jayhawkers from the Army of Gilead. Men in red trousers and floppy hats, armed with rifles and broadswords, hunting down pagans and industralists in the name of Free Kansas.
  3. Satanist serial killer with mask made of human skin and swastikas carved down his arms, armed with an iron sickle, preparing to chop you up. Surprisingly stealthy for such a big guy.
  4. Phalanx of mechanical men, armed with axes, out looking for human brains to extract and return to the Atomic Fortress so the Super-Wizard can make more of them.
  5. Cynical teen genius with a laser gun. Perfectly bald. Cannot be restrained from denying the existence of God. Obsessively tinkers with every machine they can find.
  6. Longhorn minotaur. Hideously overmuscled from bovine growth hormone. Twelve-foot hornspan makes doors difficult. Wants to bring you back to the corn maze and eat you.
  7. Pack of masked harlequins with blood-stained teeth and wheels for hands and feet. Act like rabid wolves. Scarily quick on flat ground, but have difficulty turning.
  8. Red-haired boy reporter looking for the story of a lifetime. Excitable. Prone to ludicrous bad luck but is never actually seriously hurt. Constantly needs rescuing though.
  9. Stone-faced war preacher and band of jayhawkers looking for recruits for a military raid on the Atomic Fortress, intending to abolish the Wizard and all his sinful works.
  10. Woman in aviator goggles and diaphanous white robes. Claims to be the rainbow's daughter, fallen out of the sky. Can only eat the purest dewdrops and is therefore slowly starving.
  11. Shaggy-haired sasquatch in a battered top hat, wielding an enchanted magnet that compels people to love him. Depressed. Seeking someone more deserving to give the magnet to.
  12. Robotic flesh-eating worm with the head of Hillary Clinton. Wants to take your guns, raise your taxes, drink the blood of aborted children and convert Kansas to Islamic communism.
  13. Flock of yellow-fanged baboons with vulture wings, in comical blue jackets. Vicious, but crave discipline. Looking for a witch to govern them and keep their mischievous impulses in check.
  14. Giant hungry tiger. Wants to kill and eat some big fat babies, but can't, because she's born again in Jesus Christ and very active in the pro-life movement. Won't stop talking about it.
  15. Barber-surgeon with tuberculosis and a huge bushy moustache, looking for tooth-pulling work. Expert gunfighter but won't admit it, since he keeps getting challenged to duels.
  16. Obese purple leech-mouthed parasite man that drains energy by touch, getting fatter and stronger as it goes. Leaves behind a trail of smouldering skeletons. Scared of eggs.
  17. Four-faced brass helicopter heads kept in air by impractical Da Vinci corkscrews. Loudly announce their intention to devour you. Easily distracted by philosophical riddles.
  18. Reverse-talking bizarro clones of the PCs with chalky white skin and inverted systems of morality. Want to do exactly the opposite of whatever the PCs want to do.
  19. The Green Guardian. Secret weapon of the Super-Wizard. Muscled adonis in acrobat's tights with magnificent emerald beard and moustache. Impossibly strong, naive, refuses to kill.
  20. The Super-Wizard. Toymaker in a checked waistcoat with pockets full of marvels. Pretends to grant wishes with holograms. Planning to conquer the world with mechanical men.

Friday, 22 May 2020

Space Prison From My Dream Last Night

Okay I just had this dream last night. It is for Mothership probably though I've never played or read it.

The TETRAD is a prison ship, or was. A thin torus spinning to produce uncomfortably heavy gravity. You probably docked because of the distress call, but maybe you just saw the scorch marks and missing section and thought 'huh'.

Doors open to reveal a bomb the size of a golfcart. Oh it is a golfcart! Covered in accelerant with a scrawled note: 'lol u idiots - pay fealty to Lupin and maybe you can leave'

You've landed in Storage. Here's a map.

In a minute Victor 'Figs' Fontanelli jumps on the intercom, announces that he's 'the warden round here'. He's doing some kind of cowboy/Zsasz routine. Sounds like he's having fun. There're panels by most doors you can use to talk back, and he's keen to talk. He'll explain what he knows, that something went wrong and the prisoners got loose. He's holed up in Command, the last person there alive. He's got guard droids blockading the door between Storage and Rec, where the surviving convicts are holed up. He apologises, Lupin is 'no longer with us', and Figs doesn't know how to disarm the bomb. He's been taking advice from Chanibul Vector, a cannibal savant locked up in Solitary, who might know how to help.

If you stick around and search thoroughly, you might find Rodney Peck, holed up in a shipping container with two thousand cans of seaweed and five other guards, four dead and one comatose. Rodney's mind is pretty much gone. He has no idea whether he's been eating dried food or his friends. He can help clarify that Figs is 'one of the crazies, worse than them in Gen Pop'. He has a vague understanding that the explosion was some kind of insurance scam gone wrong, and can maybe answer questions about guard droids or bulkheads or whatever else. If you spend long enough dicking around, or start Rodney screaming again, a scout team from gen pop will find you.

It's mildly tense, but democratic and well organised. There're two inmates more in charge than the others. Shadrock Clemens is short, nosy and intense. Locked up for anarchist agitating and industrial espionage. Hates making decisions, though actually very good at it. Bolo Startrek dealt drugs and killed people in a different life. Reformed for the last three decades, locked up for the last two. Bolo will probably never recover from the anger and pain of imprisonment, but channels that energy into community organisation and support.

For those inmates who weren't killed in the explosion, life has considerably improved. They can sleep where, and with who, they want, have free access through the rec rooms and what's left of Gen Pop. Despite the rations they've self-imposed (with a 2/3rds majority vote) everyone has more food than they've had in years. They practise restorative justice for the few incidents that arise. Their simple rules, rarely broken: let everyone be heard, respect people's boundaries, follow consensus, don't lock any doors.

They get to storage through the air ducts, avoiding Figs' blockade, foraging for dried goods every few days. They try to not be spotted, so as to not upset Figs' paranoia. A minority would like to overthrow their assumed warden, but most don't really care. Sneaking past the droids is pretty fun, and they're not going to gain much by taking over more spartan steel corridors.

The bulkhead between here and Storage is actually secure, no air ducts and cheap hollow walls, and Figs will ask you to leave your weapons in the bin provided. The first few rooms are plant equipment: water cycling, O2 and power. Next are barracks and droid storage, maintenance shop, the control room, sickbay, then the bulkhead to Solitary. Figs is holed up in the control room. He's dragged in a dozen mattresses, replaced the security feeds with porn and cartoons, spray painted a little colour into the place and even found a potted fern somewhere. He doesn't seem put off by the smell of the old warden, gutted and nailed to a wall. Figs is very accomodating, smiling and eyeing you off like a tiger. He always has a couple of knives on him, and two taser-armed droids he's named Benny and Penny. He wants to kill you, obviously, but only A) if you lower your guard, turn your back, or otherwise show your trust, or B) if he thinks you're gay.

Figs will insist on showing you the way to Chanibul Vector. The other cells you pass have had the air vented, most contain a mummy in a white jumpsuit. Vector's has the lock welded shut and a droid on watch, though the man is calm, composed, his superiority lacking the desperation of Figs'. He insists on pleasantries and introductions, a little background insight into his new 'guests'. Before answering any questions he demands payment from Figs. Suggests one of you go help Figs carry back a treat. Once Figs is gone he is direct.

The ship was sabotaged by the old warden, though not very effectively. The O2 lines didn't combust properly and only a quarter of the ship blew up. Lupin, in solitary for repeated escape attempts, busted loose and freed Figs to help subdue the guards. With the droids distracted fighting fires and riots in Gen Pop, Figs killed the head officers and commandeered the command deck. Lupin hacked into the droid controls, turned them on the leftover guards, and in about four hours the ship was theirs. It took only a couple days for Figs to decide Lupin had got 'too queer'. He threw him out an airlock, and only now realises he's stuck here. He can't update the droids' orders, doesn't know how to disable the bomb blocking the only dock, and is terrified the other prisoners are going to bust in to command and 'take turns on him'.

Chanibul would like to be free, but for that will need the door unwelded and the guard droid disabled. He suggests a coup. Lupin's body is still tangled in the wreckage just outside, and his notepad has the passwords and filepaths needed to reconfigure the droids. Figs, who will be back any moment with a plate of fried human, is readily distracted. Apologies if he's already killed anyone you sent with him. Once you have disabled his droids and taken him down, come bust old Chanibal out and he will take care of that nasty bomb for you. (The bomb is a convincing fake, which will become obvious when Chanibal steals your ship and flies off cackling)