Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Harry Clark Project - The Sublunar Snitch

The Sublunar Snitch

Watching you from above. An androgynous youth in a colourful parody of military uniform - shako and tasseled boots, flimsy epaulettes, cords that trail upwards until they disappear into the darkness of the night sky. Could almost be a puppet of something unseen, but it moves under its own power - dancing on air as if there were invisible stones wherever it chooses to place its feet. Mockingly graceful. Peers at you through a rolled-up bit of paper that it pretends is a telescope. When it catches you looking back it laughs and pokes its tongue out. It is not afraid of you.

The Snitch targets people who commit unsavory acts under cover of darkness. Thieves, assassins, prostitutes, drunkards, adventurers, revolutionaries - the Snitch doesn't care, as long as it can feel morally superior to you. When it fixates on you it will follow you around, night after night, relentlessly perving on you from a safe distance until it catches you doing something naughty. This could be as big as murder or as small as pissing on a tree. Either way, the Snitch will report your bad behaviour to the Sun, who it considers to be Father. The whole next day the Sun's rays will seek you out. They will burn you and any house you're in and any shelter you're find until you're either dead or very, very sorry for causing trouble. The next night the Snitch will check in again, just to make sure you haven't backslid.

The Snitch is very good at dodging arrows. One way to fight it is lure it close to a window - it's reluctant to enter houses, or any other confined space, but it's an intensely curious creature and you can use this to your advantage. Once it gets its eye on you it's hard to shake off, but if you're a good boy for long enough - six months or more - it will get bored and go away.

I'm not really a stats guy but:

AC: Plate
HD: 1
Move: Triple human, flies
Attack: None
Damage: None
Morale: 6
Treasure: Sheet of blank paper that functions as telescope when rolled up
Alignment: Lawful

submitted under Details of the project at Cavegirl's blog.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019


arnold did a post on paladins and it got me thinking

if each holy order serves a specific purpose than you could generate new holy orders by thinking about what problems the medieval church had and what kind of guys it might have needed to fix them


Order of the Nightingale

Plague is caused by bad air. Bad air is caused by sin and sin is caused by demons. Or it's possible that microscopic demons breed in swamps and are carried into towns by insects and evil breezes. Or maybe the Jews did it. No-one really knows but there are definitely paladins about it. Also known as "empiricals", "grey surgeons" or just "plague knights", their beaked armour is packed with dried flowers and their stainless scalpel-swords are always sharp.

They prefer to fight at a distance, keeping potentially-infected enemies as far away as possible. They drain swamps and burn villages and and stomp on rats and butcher screaming hordes of the diseased and possessed - they don't make any distinction. Total bastards whose only redeeming feature is that killing every single person who even looks like they might have a bit of a cough does, in the long run, preserve more lives than it costs.

When they go heretical they become plague-agents, typhoid maries whose medical knowledge allows them to spread disease as quickly and efficiently as possible.

surprisingly hard to find good plague doctor art
Order of Janus

Whenever there is a schism in the church, the Order of Janus splits in two. Half the order sides with the real, legitimately elected Pope A and declares eternal war upon the foul deceiver Antipope B. The other half sides with Pope B and declares war on Antipope A. Half of the first half are deep-cover agents working for B. Half of the second half are deep-cover agents working for A. Half of the first half of the first half are only pretending to be deep-cover agents working for B in order to root out the vile traitors who'd turn against the holy word of A. And sometimes the church will schism again, and again...

The original idea seems to have been to prevent schisms in the first place by making them too confusing for anyone to bother with. Nowadays, though, people tend to assume that anyone wearing the two-faced helm of the Order of Janus is effectively neutral. Fighting Antipopes isn't like fighting Satan - their arguments tend to be a lot more convincing, for a start. Most people who aren't dickheads basically understand that it's not a good idea to worship Satan, but actual human politics tend to be a lot messier, especially when you're obliged to understand them as well as the people who make a career out of dealing with them. A lot of the two-faced knights are honestly too confused to know who they're supposed to be murdering from day to day, which is probably just as well. Quite a few are genuinely insane and can be found wandering the countryside, challenging people at swordpoint to arcane tests of ideology.

They are experts in spycraft and will sometimes infiltrate other orders of paladins, taking all the appropriate vows and waiting years for their chance to strike and denounce the whole thing as heretical. This is where shit gets really confusing.

When they go heretical they just become themselves, but more so.

Order of the Grasshopper

Even the humblest peasant can join the Order of the Grasshopper, as long as they demonstrate they're willing to put in the work. Grasshoppers wear velvet capes and gilded armour, ride fancy imported horses and eat plump capons sauced with exotic spices - but nobody begrudges their conspicuous display of wealth, because they know how hard the knights have laboured to get it, and in the back of their minds they're all thinking they too might be able to join the Order one day. Actual statistics on how many humble peasants make it to the top are not available at this time. The Order's Grandmaster was born in a pigsty and this fact is widely advertised.

Grasshoppers defend the good, loyal, honest, hardworking folk of the land from bandits, monsters, demons and outside agitators who might fill up the peasants' heads with dangerous ideas about "class consciousness" and "mass popular uprising against the oppressor". They are widely beloved and the subject of many a popular song. A lot of the people at the top are greying accountant types who haven't gotten on a horse in years, if ever, and whose only job is to manage the Grasshoppers' vast investment portfolio - a task which they pursue with all the religious zeal of a younger knight slaying a dragon. They understand perfectly well that their real job is to maintain the feudal-capitalist order, and are absolute fanatical believers in it.

When they go heretical they become Communists, obviously.

artist is kyoung hwan kim
Order of the Lion-And-Lamb

The Church's official position is that all conflict between Christians is caused by demonic sin. The Lion-and-Lambs are militant diplomats, set to mediate between local lords when their disputes threatens to impact spiritual business. They are expert lawyers and judges whose verdicts are broadly pretty fair, and always widely derided as obviously corrupt. Even the people who stand to benefit from them will tend to assume they just got lucky, and the paladin was either bribed by someone else or just stood to benefit from the verdict in some abstract way. Lion-and-Lambs are all seasoned warriors whose lives are guaranteed by the Church, which guarantees the excommunication of anyone who touches them. They have an odd tendency to die by their own hands.

When they go heretical they become Iagos and Machiavellis, bent on using their legal expertise to spark wars and create as much trouble as possible.

Order of the Ox

Intelligence is a fine and sacred thing - as long as it's in the service of the Church. Smart men are no more immune to the temptations of Satan than anyone else, and if left to their own devices they have an unfortunate tendency to start asking the wrong type of question. To be an Ox you have to be a certifiable imbecile. Village idiots, people with actual developmental defects, are ideal, but regular halfwits and simpletons are accepted as long as they're provably incapable of understanding complex ideas.

Their job is to hunt down alchemists, engineers, astrologers, historians, poets and anyone else who thinks being clever lets you get away with upsetting the balance of nature. The Oxes are equipped with heavy clubs and it usually it doesn't take more than a beating to guide their targets back to the righteous path of the Lord. They do, however, have to be given very careful instructions. They wear horned helmets with bells attached and sometimes ride actual oxes. The peasants are generally on their side.

Oxes almost never go heretical - they're simply not able to understand the arguments for it. That's the whole idea. You might, however, see a lost one wandering the wilderness, missing their faith but able to find anything else to replace it with.

couldn't find a real pic so have some dragon ball z

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

d100 encounters in the islands

The setting here is Wind Waker + Miyazaki + Earthsea. Sunny meadows and silent forests, cute villagers and comedy pirates. In my mind this is what's south of Yoon-Suin. Make it into a hexcrawl if you want. Also read this Japanese monster manual from 1776, it's very good.
  1. Giant flying machine frozen in ice. You'll need a giant's stove to melt it and you'll have to clear out all the ice monsters before you can use it.
  2. Forest of looming redwoods, home to serow and giant spiders. Circled by clan of swarthy nomadic loggers, living on massive raft, who want to cut it down but are afraid of spirits.
  3. Inn built into windmill, with famous pumpkin soup. If you can catch all ninety-nine of the yellow butterflies that live in the nearby meadow, the owner will give you a bottle of her Special Soup, which makes you super strong and able to breath underwater for exactly one minute.
  4. Giant mangrove baobab, surrounded by root maze, home to clan of goblin pirates. The tree is carnivorous but slow, and hates the taste of goblins but can't get rid of them.
  5. Smoldering caldera with goblins scraping sulphur from the rim to use in their horrible fireworks. Also home to iguanamen.
  6. Horrible toxic bug forest exuding poisonous wind in all directions. If you can get a single drop of clean water into the spring of venom at the centre, the whole island will be purified.
  7. Big friendly turtle with small village on his back. Scares easily. One villager must be on hand to soothe him at all times, in case he gets spooked by a passing cloud and dives into the sea.
  8. Enormous colony of breeding cormorants that build nest complexes out of their own valuable shit. A hermit who can tell the future lives among the birds.
  9. Clan of hermit crabs who live in skulls and are always looking for bigger ones. At night they scour the bottom of the sea for shipwrecks, and therefore know where a lot of sunken treasure is. Discarded bones everywhere.
  10. Floating casino where you can lose your shirt at snail races, mahjongg or fighting-fish fights. Run by a guy called Lucky Pao who always smiles and is never happy.
  11. Beehive palace of the bug collector, high in the branches of a big dead tree. Will pay you for exotic bugs. Will also hold your family hostage until you get exotic bugs for her. Has a whole root-cellar dungeon full of hostages and bugs.
  12. Big fat dragon who is sad because he can't find a girlfriend. Has landed in the middle of the village and refuses to leave until somebody can satisfactorily explain to him how relationships work. Smells awful.
  13. Atoll of the floating coconut people, who look like hairy little babies and need your help to defend themselves from a tribe of hungry monkeys. Don't have any treasure but will pretend that they do.
  14. Giant shark who lives in a tidepool and is terrified of the open ocean. Very hungry. There's treasure at the bottom of the pool but you need to convince her to leave to get it.
  15. Masked cultists sacrificing people to a volcano. After the ritual they'll take off their masks and invite you to a feast.
  16. Two iguanamen, each surrounded by sacks of trinkets, sitting at opposite ends of a sandbar. One is fat and one is thin. They're both salesmen and will compete with each other to sell you junk at the cheapest possible price.
  17. The tomb of the demon prince who fought the creator goddess at the dawn of time. Surrounded by chanting shrine priestesses whose job is to make sure nothing comes out. They'll let you go in though.
  18. Nest of the golden roc, which is currently away hunting for whales to feed its chicks. The chicks are smarter than you and very curious. They keep a shipwrecked sailor as a pet and defend him from the bugs and goblins who infest the nest.
  19. Wide sandy bay, home to the all-archipelago surfing contest. Winner gets to have tea with the Emperor in his floating palace. Current frontrunner is an ex-pirate named Three-Toe Deng.
  20. Shark farmers. Wooden corrals in the ocean, attached to floating platforms, full of sharks segregated by species and age. Like the setting of the film Deep Blue Sea.
  21. Giant's Causeway hexagonal basalt pillars. Pressing them all in the right order opens a whirlpool in the sea. Jumping into the whirlpool leads you to the secret cave of an ocean giant, who will not be pleased to see you.
  22. Permanent, stationary tornado. Shop on the island in the eye sells luxury goods and powerful potions at very reasonable prices to anyone who can get there.
  23. Ronin marooned on a sandbar, whittling a chunk of driftwood into an exquisite figurine of a courtesan with her katana. Wants revenge on the pirates who left her here.
  24. Crabs whose shells look like the faces of angry samurai. A clan of goblins is smashing and eating them, angering the spirits of the warriors who died in an ancient battle here. Goblins are immune to ghost anger, so they take it out on everyone else.
  25. Fish and chip shop, in boat tethered over coral reef. Owner wants to catch and fry up Goliath, the enormous blue-spotted coral grouper that lurks in the reef's depths.
  26. Village of wrecked ships. Definitely not interested in wrecking more ships so the chief's newlywed daughter can build her own place and finally move out of home.
  27. Dark pool hidden deep in redwood forest. Moth fairy within, big enough to ride, wants a picture of the moon. Remembers it from her youth and misses it dearly. Show her a way to the actual moon and she'd be ecstatic, fly straight there.
  28. Whole island is a mimicking ooze, sending out pseudopod blobs to gather data on you. A nervous pig sits in a rowboat in a sheltered bay, slowly training the island to mimic doubloons.
  29. Treasure hunters in primitive diving gear scouring reef for lost doubloons and overgrown treasure chests. Get very salty if they think you're trespassing on their patch.
  30. Old graveyard overgrown with flowers. Beekeeper tending his hives. Ghosts speak through the bees, helpful if you give them offerings, vicious if you try to take their honey.
  31. Rock arch blesses every third ship that sails through it and curses the other two. Wizard skeleton hanging from it in gibbet. Sailor clinging to nearby shipwreck explains how it works, but isn't sure of exact number of ships that gets blessed, just knows there's a pattern.
  32. Pink salt lake surrounded by rainforest. Super buoyant, enough to float a cannonball. Mud at the bottom of the deepest point is a powerful curative, can regrow lost limbs. Some very relaxed hippies living in lakeside huts.
  33. Blue hole - deep, deep sinkhole surrounded by coral atoll, full of hammerhead sharks, caverns at the bottom that lead to a labyrinth of limestone caves. On moonless nights the kraken emerges, to kidnap attractive people and take them back to its lair.
  34. Bubbling caldera lake. Holes in side of mountain lead to fire-themed minidungeon with goblins, firebats, burning oozes, magma snails and centipedes. Prize is gauntlets that let you pick up fire and carry it around. Taking them reactivates the volcano.
  35. Castaways spit-roasting a dead manatee. The manatee's mate circles the island, singing a song which is so sad that anyone who hears it tries to drown themselves.
  36. Village of giant friendly tortoises that invite you into their homes and slowly entangle you in their passive-aggressive tortoise drama.
  37. Hot springs with prankish monkeys that wait for you to take a bath then steal your stuff, throw rocks at you, etc. Hollow tree somewhere full of stolen loot.
  38. Prison carved out of huge barren rock, home to the archipelago's most dangerous pirates and criminals. Only entrance is big hole in top of rock. Only food source is fish caught from barred windows overlooking sea. No guards. No exit.
  39. Mad scientist and bumbling assistant trying to build a space rocket out of gunpowder and baobab trees. On their seventeenth attempt. Keep a strange glowing anemone thing in a jar and claim it fell from the moon one day.
  40. Scarecrow standing in a wheat field. The family in the nearby cottage is dead. The scarecrow can talk and will tell you to get revenge on some nearby monster - but it's vague on the details of what actually happened. Actually it killed the family itself, out of jealousy and loneliness, and is now in denial.
  41. Floating carnival village where everyone is clowns, firebreathers, jugglers, etc. Mayor is the ringmaster. Crave audiences, since the village is poor and they're much better entertainers than fishermen.
  42. Skeletons playing music - one with a fiddle, one with a flute, one with a drum. They're rehearsing their act, hoping to get good enough that the Emperor will invite them to play at her floating palace. They could use new music and new talented skeletons.
  43. Network of limestone seacaves, flooded at high tide, home to giant sea slug that squeezes through small spaces and secretes corrosive slime. Its flesh is a delicacy to the right consumer.
  44. School of intelligent, friendly, doglike jellyfish that crowd around your boat, demanding that you play with them in piping, childlike voices. Cause agonising pain if touched.
  45. Used-boat salesman, travelling around in big makeshift raft of nine or ten boats tied together. Will buy your boat for a pittance and sell you a slightly better one. Terrified of, and extremely attractive to, pirates.
  46. Elaborate hedge maze, guarded by stomping one-eyed ogres with halberds that follow predictable paths and only attack anything in their direct line of sight. Fairy fountain in centre will permanently increase your health by one point, once.
  47. Ramshackle hotel run by grumpy old tyrant who's bossed around by his shrewish wife, with incompetent foreign waiter who's always getting into scrapes. Variety of colourful customers. Haunted by ghost of maid, murdered by wife out of jealousy.
  48. Village built around sleeping giant. Signs all around telling you not to wake her. Villages move very quietly, hate loud noises. Giant cannot actually be woken by any means.
  49. Village run by children, with all adults permanently asleep in their beds. Children do a pretty good job of administering everything themselves, have stupid theories about why adults won't wake up.
  50. Merchant ship w/cowardly crew hiding in isolated cove from pirates that may or may not actually exist. Merchant who owns the ship wants to move on, since she's losing money every day, but has been overruled by the captain she hired.
  51. Nobles in silk robes fighting a distance duel with hwacha, launching rocket arrows across the narrow channels that separate their islands. The noise is terrifying the native population of talking moles.'
  52. Abandoned castle, falling apart, wooden walls penetrated by cherry-blossom trees. Used as a base by goblin pirates who are constantly on the verge of burning it down, barely kept in check by their captain's authority. Haunted by samurai ghosts. Sea vultures perched on rooftops, flooded basement dungeons infested by crabs.
  53. Huge moai head, blocking the entrance to ground hole that leads to fungus-filled minidungeon. Surrounded by other, smaller moai heads, all looking away from it.
  54. Fleet of fishing canoes. Fishermen eating whitebait alive, competing to see who can swallow the largest squid whole. Sea vultures following in their wake.
  55. Floating noodle shop w/ tame pigs swimming around it. One of the pigs has swum away to take shelter among the palms of a nearby atoll. Must be caught and brought back so it can be made into soup.
  56. Giant oyster with head-sized black pearl in its mouth. Pearl sucks anyone that touches it into a shadowy dungeon zone where they wander through the blackness at the bottom of the sea, fighting formless luminous predators that represent their own doubts. Famous samurai has been trapped within for the last five hundred years.
  57. White-robed noro priestess alone on tiny rock, tending sacred fire that must never be allowed to go out. Has lost her sacred umbrella and is nervous about coming rain.
  58. Ancient formal garden with eroded stone lion statues that come alive if anyone disturbs the vine-shrouded mausoleum they're set to guard. Headstrong yuta shamaness trying to raise the spirit of a buried queen.
  59. Village with communal outhouse mounted over fish pond, haunted by vengeful toilet kami that takes the form of a blind women with a spear and long poisonous hair. Villagers have not been able to take a peaceful shit in days and will give you everything they have if you can make her go away.
  60. Giant paintbrush of the creator goddess, slowly decaying, bristles home to monsters that form from rotting, congealed paint. The few remaining droplets of untainted paint are a valuable reagent that can be used to create new life.
  61. Giant sitting on ocean, submerged up to his shoulders, meditating. Kung-fu monastery on top of his bald head. The monks grow pears in his ears and distill them into potent wine, which they use to practice the drunken-master style.
  62. Whalers herding panicked herd of pilot whales into bay and slaughtering them on beach until the waters run red with blood. Not one whale can be allowed to escape, or it will carry word of the whalers' disrespect back to the ocean goddess and the whole sea will turn against them.
  63. Village of pearl divers locked in mortal feud with village of seaweed gatherers. A travelling merchant has been deliberately stoking drama in order to sell weapons to both sides, and also for fun.
  64. Sugarcane plantation. Fields are infested with goblins. Owner wants to drive them out but is worried that if she pisses the goblins off too much, they'll started a fire.
  65. Elephant-seal colony. Band of ragged sealers camping in the hills. They came here to club and skin the huge white bull that rules the beach, but he's already sunk their boat and killed half their number.
  66. Massive spiky skull-festooned fortress of the goblin pirate queen, built into the side of an extinct volcano, over an elaborate network of magma pits and lava tubes. Any ship coming within a mile gets bombarded by rockets until it sinks or sails away.
  67. Hunters with aconite-poisoned arrows stalking carnivorous cranes through a reedy salt marsh. They need the crane's feathers to become full members of their tribe.
  68. Monstrous bear, injured by a spear, too ill to move and mourning the loss of her cub, which was taken as a present for the Emperor and is currently being held offshore in the trophy-filled boat of the world's best huntress. You get the bear's blessing if you bring the cub back.
  69. Noro priestesses holding an extravagant funeral for a beached whale, with drinking and dancing and feasting and eulogies praising the whale's many virtues. A spy from a rival temple is plotting to sabotage the ceremony.
  70. Old woman living in tower above seacave that's home to a vast colony of bats, which swarm out every evening to feed on nightfish. She's trained the bats to deliver messages and can send a small object anywhere in the islands, for a price. Goblins keep trying to steal her bats and tie bombs to them.
  71. Huge hollow banyan tree inhabited by shy kodamas and a potion-brewing witch, who throws bottle bombs down on you if she thinks you're likely to disturb the kodamas' peace. Can only be climbed from the inside. The witch needs children's teeth and rare fishscales for her potions. She is terrified of octopi.
  72. Scared old man in hillside shack festooned with clamshell amulets. The east-facing wall of the shack is fortified with dozens of runes and seals. The old man has offended the spirit of the east wind, by stealing her magic boots, and is terrified of revenge. The boots are buried below the shack's floorboards.
  73. Shadow puppeteers on the beach, putting on a show for an audience of no-one. One of the shadows has come alive and is commanding the puppeteers to make it dance, fuck, perform heroic deeds, etc. If they stop playing it will suck out their souls and leave them frozen corpses.
  74. Village with a canal running through it, from one side of the island to the other, where dragon boat races are being staged. One of the boats is a clear favourite, but its drummer has been poisoned and is too sick to beat time for the oars.
  75. Village celebrating the Hungry Ghost Festival. The lion dancer going from door to door is actually a ghost and if you don't give it food it will eat you. All the other festival shit is on the level though.
  76. Vents of white smoke that age anyone exposed to them. Wrecked boat. Old man running away from angry naked teenager with the morality of a toddler.
  77. Stand of bamboo. Rock-throwing war between two rival tribes of tanuki over who has the biggest, bounciest testicles. If you show them your tiny testicles they'll be united in laughter and forget their differences.
  78. Fox caught in a trap, pretending to be a priest that was turned into a fox by an ogre's curse. If you let it go it'll ask you to help it lift the curse, lead you somewhere dangerous, wait for you to die and eat you.
  79. Tiny samurai - needle for a sword, straw for a scabbard, bowl and chopstick for boat and paddle. Floating around in a pond looking for a giant to kill.
  80. Cheerful tanuki running an inn, secretly chopping up guests and making them into delicious noodle soup. Owns a magical hammer that grants one wish to anything you hit really hard with it.
  81. Cave of the fetus-eating witch and her baby, who is huge and red and hairy and strong and cries all the time. The witch only eats fetuses because she's been made cranky by the crying - it's like chocolate to her.
  82. Maze of wrecked ships shrouded in permanent fog, in which the webs of the spiders that live inside the ships are almost impossible to see. Only the screech of a goblin trapped up in the rigging alerts you to the danger.
  83. Village where it constantly rains, cursed by an umbrella salesman and the one-eyed hopping demon umbrella that controls him. The crops are rotting and everyone is miserable.
  84. Fleet of fishing boats plagued by an ingenious sea scorpion that destroys their nets and creeps aboard at night to snip the heads off sailors with its claws. Don't want to return to a hungry village empty-handed.
  85. Stone temple, ruined and worn away down to the foundations. Cats everywhere. One of the cats has nine tails and is the key to the big stone door, if you can catch it.
  86. Figure in a broad hat and cloak of dirty straw whose enormously long arms are covered in eyes. Offers you secrets to lure you closer, then plucks away your valuables and bounds off through the trees. If you don't have anything valuable it will steal your bones.
  87. Mysterious flames that resolve into a ghost ship when you get closer. Ship seems abandoned but that's only to lure you aboard so the ghosts can get on your ship and sail off with it.
  88. Horrible gelatinous serpents that crawl all over your ship for hours, bleeding heavy oil that will sink you unless it's constantly bailed out. Almost impossible to hurt. Don't like salt though.
  89. Giant headless skeleton wading through the sea, looking for its lost skull. You will hear its cry - "HAVE YOU FOUND MY SKULL?" - before you see it.
  90. Tree with cyclops heads for fruit. You can suck out the eyes of the heads like they were raw oysters and they will give you confusing visions of the future, if you can keep them down. Cooking them makes them delicious but destroys their powers.
  91. Giant floating peach, hollowed out and made into a pirate ship by children. The children are deadly serious about being pirates and will absolutely try to kill you, though they're not very competent.
  92. Luxury bathhouse built into side of mountain, over system of hot springs. Has been taken over by a huge hairy stinking ogre who lolls in the biggest pool, demanding more sake from the terrified staff. She wants to get clean enough to marry the Emperor
  93. Dog buried up to its neck in the earth, surrounded by filthy people behaving like dogs. Anyone it bites becomes possessed by a dog spirit and is forced to join its pack. At night it comes off and flies around with burning eyes, biting people.
  94. Creepy bald man with a cane that approaches you across calm seas, walking on top of the water. Asks for a bucket, then uses the bucket to throw water in the boat until it sinks. The only way to escape without incurring his wrath is to give it a bucket with a hole in it and sail off while he's confused.
  95. Abandoned trading town that's overrun by hungry rats. The biggest mansion in town is now home to an iron-toothed ghoul, the spirit of a beggar woman who starved to death in the main square while rich merchants passed by and laughed. Put her to rest and the rats go away.
  96. Lumbering blob of flabby, faceless flesh with stumpy arms and legs, cast away on a raft by traders who discovered it stowed away in the hold. Stinks like death. Harmless, just wants a friend.
  97. Tired-looking woman who asks you to hold her baby so she can get some rest. If you take it, the baby becomes incredibly heavy and impossible to let go of. Then a sea monster with the head of a bull, the teeth of a shark and the body of a spider crab comes out of the water and eats you. Also the woman has a snake's lower body and is hiding it beneath her robes.
  98. A swarm of floating lanterns that eat bugs and imitate human voices. Hang just out of reach, making fun of you and refusing to let you sleep until you get them some delicious bugs.
  99. The red-coral palace of a sea dragon. He's served by jellyfish, he owns jewels that control the tides, he's a gracious host who can take human form at will and in each wing of his palace it's a different season. It's rumoured among his guests that the secret fifth season, Gosper, is being kept prisoner in his basement.
  100. The floating palace of Emperor Jingu, surrounded by the boats of petitioners. Some of them have waiting years to get through all the formalities necessary for an imperial visit, and a whole urban economy has sprung up around them. The Emperor is of course just a puppet controlled by the shogun, who no-one ever sees, and who is rumoured to be a hundred-year-old goldfish that lives in a small glass jar.

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

alternate universe spidermans

while this list could technically be used with any superhero the authors strongly urge you to only do spidermans

art by james stokoe

Monday, 7 January 2019

dinosaur sea

rounding out dino trifecta

A fractal coast of fractured stone, cliffs in white and bright ochre. Everywhere teeming clouds of life. Billowing flocks of pterosaurs peel from the cliffs and dive at improbable shoals of gleaming fish. Plankton bloom and bioluminesce, cut through by basking sharks while ichthyosaurs frolick a swell away. People drag in slabs of bark from the swamp and carve every kind of craft: outriggers and kiteboards, kayaks and surfboards, and playfully tussle with the uncaring sea

Whenever anyone rolls a natural 1 they get bigger fished.

Villages Games 1 Fish 2 Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
1 carved into the cheeks, eyes and jowls of stone faces that spew water into the sea belowdive off cliff, swim to island, steal egg, swim back. maybe sharksa jelly swarm, bobbing in their skirts and twining tentacles together like nervous hungry schoolkids2d4 wolfwhales, throwback orcas with the blunt faces and blunter humour of hyenasfinely feathered mosasaur, regal and curious, all the patience its great belly will afford
2 built around the rim of a blowhole, rooftop nets catch falling chunks of fish and other foodget tied to a rope and used as bait for a fish2d12 dartfish pop out of the water with a flash, tear through the wings of pterosaurs or nail into cliff side climbers and thrash, trying to drag them down1d3 sea scorpions clatter about the cliff sides and surge out of the shoreline mindlessly feeling for food1d100 horseshoe crabs, slowly migrating, their trails plotting lunar arcs through the sand
3 burrowed into the underside of a arching causeway, ropes dangling down to snare fish and haul shipscarefully scripted game of ulama, someone loses an eye or a hand probably20d20 writhing forms the length of your arm, catsharks and dogfish, wobbegongs and sawfish, a tumbling ball mad for blooda motile mass of seaweed, twitching twisting limbs of green grip corpses, food for symbiotic fish2d10 crashing, empty-eyed dunkleosteus, as happy to shatter cliffs as ram their aggressor
4atop huge raft of seaweed and guano, flocked over once a season by pterosaursswim through seacaves into the sweep of a blowhole8d6 somnolent squid regard the surface with detached, benthic wisdom, gather beneath human villages at night to share in their dreams1d6 morays jealously guard their porous home. poke sneering maws from their hiding holes but flee a real threata thousand year old nautilus drifts serenely, slow grow into indestructibility and content with the sagacity of centuries
5 in cave accessible via sump, lit by bioluminescent algae in the poolssurf the wake of a megalodon3d4 fisherfolk, their life completely at the mercy of the sea, totally laid back and relaxed5d10 huge-crested tapejarids, gather once a season on the guano islands to court each otheran algal bloom, a toxic wash that swirls against the current hunting hot life
6nestled into the tall walls of a coral reef, kept dry by an enormous dykeleap onto the back of a pterosaur and ride it down into the water3d4 skull faced, white feathered pterosaurs, like seagulls, or dingos, clamour and cajole and pounce on your backfat, happy amoeba, smaller prey forgotten as it gloops around any new point of contacta tentacle, the furthest tip of some beast bigger than your comprehension

Saturday, 5 January 2019


buildings sneak into the city; in reflections, through pictures and adverts, flickering visible in the skyline into conversation then reality, history, memory punched through like a flag in soil

the babbling fates, piss-stained and homeless ratty beards woven together like their voices - sing song prognosticate, jibe and laugh; manic and sad and saner than you

plant rooms bloom on the rooftops, filtering human life: water and air and thin dense streams of data, strained of life to silhouette a ghost, a metal dryad

a million generations of rats little red eyes watching little red deeds soaking in gangsters executions arsons fraud little yellow teeth chewing little yellow wires and no one rat knows quite what it’s doing until you’re electrocuted in the bath

cop cars blacked out windows break the glass and all the shadows stream in the world goes flat and sirens sirens overwhelming your veins pop out like old diagrams of the circulatory system all red and blue blood pounding in you skull in shame and guilt and anxiety until you lash out and once the crime’s committed you’re dead, cop car tyres gleefully crunch your skull

ads sprawl over walls like vines, lcd displays bloom and flyers crawl like lichen, drinking in the light reflected from fixated eyeballs, photosynthesizing attention

dead ends always curving away around another corner you want to keep going but you’re tired and you need to piss why is it taking so long to get back? full of cats they love it here there’s space enough to establish long hierarchy and tradition and there’s always fresh meat

the internet of things

a living bus with a hundred concrete legs wants to smash your bones and slurp your unbroken skinsack into its form but can only see you when you transgress boundaries of politeness - jay-walking, loud swearing, littering, talking with your mouth full

rats in the streets below but pigeons wheel above, eating off the margins and making marginal gains, every swirl of the swarm a prediction, every falling falcon an insider trader, all calculating odds in aggregate and watched fearfully by people hands on their wallets

trains under your feet bind up the streets in a rune and draw you to a station like a spider like a wurm like your own anxiety at wondering where you're going, tunnels draw you in out of the rain but you don’t stop and rest because they have to be walked, trams trail you beg to be ridden but once you sit down you don’t stand up

super markets all twisting corridors of homewares and clothing and tins of food on special there's a frosty jug of milk somewhere in the back and you won't leave without it cause that's what you came here for, isn't it? Like a fey barrow with tight corridors of plasterboard and cheap metal shelving, clacking guardians of unrecycled plastic and the tithe of milk you have to pay before they'll let you out

it's an anglerfish a crocodile a suicide booth flashing LED deals 2 3 4 5 for the price of 1 sitting smug on street corners letting consumers flit in and out until someone touches the wrong twix bar and SNAP it gobbles everyone down and dives under the street to digest

the smell finds you and follows you everywhere like a lost dog, snuggling into garbage bags and exhaust pipes and backed up bathrooms, snuffling up your nose when it’s happy to see you and choking you to death when it’s not

spiralling highways, cars full of skeletons with cold quiet grins their heads turn to you unmoving and watch as the cars grind and bump towards each other dragged into a sinkhole and slow compacted metal and bone splinter and twist but don't break and then rumble up again under garages from tunnels ready to drive again again again into the hole that spawned them


Wednesday, 2 January 2019

d50 villains

  1. Crime Slime. Big green ooze in a domino mask and a trenchcoat, holding about fifteen guns in its pseudopods. Talks like Tony Soprano.
  2. Couch Potato. Giant potato with big blue eyes and stumpy little arms that is toted around in a sedan chair by its henchmen. Buries foes in the dirt to feed its little potato babies.
  3. Cardsharp. Gambler with a thin moustache. Has exactly fifty-two razor-sharp throwable playing cards - when the deck runs out, the crime is over.
  4. Diving Belle. Woman in a Victorian diving suit with wetsuited, speargun-toting henchman and a flying submarine that crashes in through walls. Cannot swim.
  5. Saguaro. Big slow half-cactus bruiser who wears a cowboy hat and hugs enemies to death. Spongy flesh is hard to damage. Can heal by planting feet in soil.
  6. The Gecko. Cat burglar who climbs walls with sticky feet. Is constantly licking own eyeballs with long translucent tongue and making weird clicking sounds.
  7. Mancrab. Homeless hermit with crushing claws who steals hollow objects to use as shells. Robs banks just for the vaults. Would like to get big enough to wear the Sydney Opera House.
  8. El Conquistador. Don-Quixote-esque lunatic in steel helmet. Claims the wealth of the banks he robs for the Spanish crown. Underlings dressed as Renaissance musketmen.
  9. Killbug. Rolls into a chitinous ball and barges through town, knocking people over. Is constantly explaining that he is technically an isopod, not a bug.
  10. Stampede. Possessed by the spirit of a dead ecosystem. Has the power to summon a horde of ghost bison that charge down the street, destroying everything in sight.
  11. Parasite Wasp. Venomous ovipositors in her hands. Lays her eggs in important people, and controls their minds, so her babies will have a secure place to grow.
  12. Maid Marionette. Turned to a life of crime after she was fired from the children's TV show she created. Uses dark magic to animate evil puppet versions of pop-culture figures and superheroes.
  13. Flagburner. Hates patriotism and wants to destroy all symbols of America, from the Statue of Liberty to Mount Rushmore. Wears black. Definitely extremely evil.
  14. Joy Buzzer. Prankster with electrical powers. Can imbue seemingly harmless objects with lethal static charges that hurl people across rooms.
  15. Iceberg. Giant carved from craggy ice. Can't be stopped by anything except heat. Gentle at heart and loves to play with his two pet fairy penguins.
  16. Snow Day. Former science teacher who grew to hate school so much that she built a weather-controlling device to bring the city to its knees. Henchmen are delinquent students in turtlenecks.
  17. The X-Terminator. Self-styled hero who pumps poison gas into crooks' apartments and has creepy fascist overtones. Has long-term plan to target George Soros.
  18. Toastmaster. Breakfast-themed, with fried-egg gun and combat spatula. Seems funny until he sprays boiling bacon fat into your eyes.
  19. Pet Peeve. Can speak to all domestic animals and convince them to turn them against their masters. Uses them as a spy network and knows everything that goes on in the city.
  20. Red Scare. Torments capitalists with hallucinogenic fear gas, which mostly gives them nightmares of the working class rising up to reclaim the fruits of their labour.
  21. Red Herring. Traps capitalists in elaborate underwater death labyrinths and forces them to solve riddles to escape. Failures get fed to carnivorous fish.
  22. Loan Shark. Hammerhead shark in a cheap suit who runs a pawnshop and bites the legs off his debtors. Wisecracking remora attached to chest.
  23. Little League. Twelve-year-old baseball prodigy and criminal mastermind who turned to crime when he became too old for the game. Goons wear uniforms and beat people with bats.
  24. Brass Monkey. Monkey in a top hat and goggles, equipped with an array of steampunk gadgets. Hates cold and only works in summer.
  25. Knucklehead. Head is a fist. Fists are also fists. Has a gun that shoots fists. Has trouble working out how to commit fist-themed crimes.
  26. The Mammal. Bit by a radioactive mammal, now has all the powers of every mammal. Tracks prey like a wolf, runs like a cheetah, punches like a gorilla, swims like a dolphin, etc.
  27. Stable Abel. Cat burglar with perfect balance. Can never be knocked over. Spirit-level vision - always knows how close to level any given surface is.
  28. Mister Blister. A slave to the sapient acidic blisters that cover every inch of his skin. Squirts corrosive pus at enemies. Does not enjoy life.
  29. Helen Killer. Deaf-blind assassin who hunts by vibrations in the air. Delivers hilarious Bond-style quips by means of a sign language interpreter that follows her everywhere - she's holding his family hostage.
  30. Turf War. Huge man with enormous pruning shears, wrapped in layers of high-quality lawn turf that muffle all blows. Talks to the grass and takes its advice.
  31. The Luddite. Hates technology, wields a huge hammer. Nothing invented after 1700 works in her vicinity. 
  32. Deathwish. Suicidal guy with luck powers. Does violent crime and gets into dangerous situations in the hope that it'll kill him, but survives by outrageous coincidence.
  33. Wet Willie. Skin is permanently damp and slippery, making him hard to get hold of. Can squeeze through small spaces like he was made of jelly. Likes to sneak up behind you and put his finger in your ear.
  34. The Prickly Pair. Team-Rocket-esque duo of gunslinging outlaws who are constantly taking offence at minor insults. Mascot is a trained, highly-intelligent burrowing owl.
  35. Wireframe. A luminous green video game skeleton that escaped from the computer into reality. Can clip through walls and teleport randomly around the map.
  36. Clickbait. Gets more powerful the more attention is paid to her. A big fan of sexy costumes and controversial political opinions.
  37. The Raw Prawn. Extremely Australian mercenary, known for his brutal honesty and appallingly fishy body odour. Expert in maritime assassination. Fears being whacked on the barbie.
  38. The Dropbear. Big hairy guy in leather who assassinates people by HALO jumping on top of them. Commonly thought to be an urban legend.
  39. Lemon Squeezy. Guy with a squirt gun attached to a big tank of lemon juice on his back. Only move is to squirt lemon juice into your eyes and laugh. Wears yellow.
  40. Spin Cycle. Ex-wrestler dressed like a washing machine. Utility belt contains slippery soap, caustic detergent and deadly tide pods.
  41. Pillowfight. In her hands, pillows and cushions become heavy as lead and unbreakable as adamantium. If she throws them they turn into feather-filled bombs. Prefers to rob IKEAs.
  42. Sargasso. Enormous animated blob of tangled, decaying seaweed that wraps you up and chokes you. Releases sulphurous fumes that rust metal. Lonely.
  43. Hocus POTUS. The American president from another dimension where everyone is magic. Plots to take over the America of this world.
  44. Daily Grind. Golem made from used coffee grounds. Raids cafes to get more grounds to supplement its rotting form. Will suffocate you, but smells great.
  45. Thunderhead. Head is a perpetually-roiling storm cloud. Shoots bolts of lightning when she gets angry. Voice is modulated thunder.
  46. Stunt Double. Capable of being in two places at the same time. One body creates distractions by doing fantastic, death-defying stunts while the other commits sneaky crimes.
  47. Firedamp. Exudes and controls clouds of flammable gas. Wears heavy leather padding to protect them from the inevitable explosions caused by people shooting at them. Henchmen dressed as miners carrying lanterns.
  48. The Oaf. Incredibly stupid, reasonably strong man who, due to a gypsy's blessing, can't be injured or defeated by anybody smarter than he is.
  49. Crookatoo. Flashy gangster who dresses all in white, with a yellow plume in his hat. Cracks open nuts with his teeth and repeats everything said to him.
  50. Stickybeak. Bird guy with a glue gun.