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.

STORAGE
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.

REC
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.

COMMAND
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.

SOLITARY
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)

Sunday, 3 May 2020

A Taxonomy of Elves

Kindly recall that elves are magical phenomena that do not exist in material reality. Though physical means of treatment are absolutely necessary, they cure only symptoms, not the disease. Killing them does little but keep the abductions down.

artist: john anster fitzgerald

Viral elves are called fae, faerie, folk. They are the least concerned with human life, though as dependant on it as the rest. They are the most uniquely aware of their unreality, that they are momentary projections of a subtler force, mere ghosts of metaphor.

Fae are a parodic reflection of man's relation to nature, a psychic hijack of a corrupted means of production. They embody not wrath but scorn and derision, most often scolding and punishing. Tangled are their judgements, buried under irony and snared on subconscious guilts. Outbreaks occur most commonly as morality shifts, when old taboos are broken or new ones formed.

They appear most commonly in carousing bands, near-identical but reaffirming themselves with titles and caricatured relations. They pantomime society's most powerful figures to find better purchase in its psychome (their host), bitterly counterfeiting an individuality they can never possess. Identity is often erased by their judgements, sad princes turned into ponds or flayed poachers stuffed in goat skins.

The classic witch's cure is a simple memetic immunisation (leaving out perhaps a saucer of milk, or never breaking twigs on the solstice) and of course reconciling a culture with the natural world is an instant fix.


Bacterial elves are called borrowers, brownies. They exist in the essence of man's slow succumbing to nature: where homes crumble, bridges rot and fall, a carriage molders in the wood and a low cairn grows over with moss.

Feeding off this decay, borrowers must necessarily nurture it, protecting it from other agents of decomposition. They are martial, though more concerned with ceremony, ritual, keeping house.

Their population kicks and spurts; only after a decade do they move in, then five or six, a family. Each decade brings a dozen more, each century or so another clade, an institution enshrining their traditions against the ending of the slow collapse they ride. Castes of candledousers, damcoddlers, snailslayers and lichenmonks war against entropy.

White-haired sages sing their legends to starry-eyed squires (each turning of a season is 400 of their years, a lifetime) and pass the sacred knowledge of their home. Every detail is recorded in verse, woven into tapestry, tattooed, mosaiced, tallied and stored that it might be preserved for only a year more.

A flip book the size of your thumb, four hundred perfect paintings of a bench rotting away in the woods; a loving, anguished study of a raindrop falling to dissolution in a puddle.


Insectile elves are called sylphs, sprites, satyrs. Thriving on the sheer bloody mass of humanity, their encouragement of human activity is direct, usually carnal. They crave places held to be sacred, private or simply sentimental.

They machinate behind shotgun weddings and runaway brides, keeping families large and power structures volatile. It is fresh blood they want, not stagnant inbreeding, in politics encouraging unlikely alliance, conquest and coups. Even they seem not to know their motivations, caught halfway between lust and love, upturning old order for a joyous germination.

Commonly likened to pubic lice, in purpose far closer to the humble bumblebee. Fairy godmothers are their ilk, though any stated preoccupation with destiny is a distraction from the base nature of their desires. They watch you when you fuck.

They can be differentiated from viral elves via vivisection. From the many-eyed drow to the furze-girdled satyr under a mantle of antler antenna, all are invertebrates.

figuring out how 2 trick some guy into jacking off

Fungal elves are goblins, bugbears, redcaps and boogieboos. Their range of form and demesne are unparalleled, seemingly a species for every niche.

They may imitate other elves or other beasts entirely, stealing their wit from the foolish with tricks and pranks and gambling games. They are rambunctious and quick, most inclined to false friendship and eating children.

Of all elves the least anchored to this material plane, their form and fearsomeness may shift as a matter of perspective. Just so they are a stiltskinned wedge into our world, leveraging cracks and unbalances that other elves may colonise.

Loosest in form, they are the tightest mirror of man. Their characters are the nearest to human, with emotions in broadest range and schemes driving to most particular ends. Addicted to elvish irony, they hunt those whose true natures jar against their station in life and ruin them utterly.

Traditionally treated by throwing stones, numerous apocryphal tales suggest a stubborn infection can be cured by beating them at their own game. Such stories are gleefully disseminated by goblins.

artist: georgedragon
Elvish animals is what people are.

Tuesday, 14 April 2020

People & Gods & Problems

Arnold's latest dungeon got me going back to brass tacks:

OH HI
3d8 for relations, jobs and seeecrets
  1. Asema Baseball is the mayor's niece. She's head stablehand at the inn, secretly collects horse semen to sell to a local breeder.
  2. Batrok Eth is the butcher's husband. He feeds the pigs and runs errands, is mostly a drunk. In his youth he killed a dear friend in a fight, passed it off as an accident, keeps a secret, guilty shrine.
  3. Cain 'Morbid' Batoombi is the miller's brother. He runs the post office and graveyard. Secretly reads everyone's mail and fucks the newly deceased.
  4. Deni la'Vet is the duke's wife's sister's daughter. She manages a hatshop (poorly). She's involved in several groups plotting against the duke, is secretly quite loyal.
  5. Esme Merell is the witch's twin sister. Her home is the de facto orphanage and a thriving farm. She's secretly the witch.
  6. Franzo Furnk is the son of the garrison commander. He's a reasonably competent captain in the guard. He's secretly addicted to confiscated drugs.
  7. Gale Gadrot is the mother of a good half-dozen townsfolk. She's 'retired', but can't stop accepting new carpentry projects. Secretly had an affair with the duke in her youth - three of her children have claims to the inheritance.
  8. Hego Abondine is the grandson of a famous knight. He's apprenticed to the blacksmith. Has secretly been stealing offcuts to make himself a sword.
bruegel the elder
O HARK
6d6 for maximum mix matching


Beast & Body Name Mood & Role Demesne
1 Owl-headed Aestena, Somnolent Sage of Fortune and Arguments
2 Moth-backed Baorun, Suspicious Tallier of Poison and Seeds
3 Crab-handedCoucauroo, Jovial Usurper of Dinners and Riverbanks
4 Eel-footedDenepet, Cantankerous Caretaker of Births and Prisons
5 Donkey-eyedEolou, Dim-witted Poet of Love and Archways
6 Chicken-tailedFyarid, Nervous Mother of Roofs and Merchants

brb worshipping moloch with my pal nancy pelosi

OH HECK
The animals started going missing, then the children, then whole towns. What was once a hapless hamlet, a charming chapel, is now corrupted, afflicted, twisted, cursed. It is...
  1. The colour from space. Everything is slick, the air heavy. Maddening spirals appear in stone and wood, though whether carved by webbed hands or the passage of this leaden, unearthly light, none could say. Everyone has too many teeth, eyes like plates and watery nightmares that drag you in.
  2. The fallen sword. It is too pure, too perfect to exist here. No mortal, living being could ever deserve to exist in the same realm - the very thought is sickening. So it dredges up the dead to cleanse the land. Old bones, rusted blades, pale and hateful ghasts. Nothing can rest, or pass to a better life, with heaven trapped and tainted in the earth.
  3. The caged moonbeam. A silver mirror rippling with tarnish. Flesh ripples too; veins and fur and torn muscle bulging, teeth and tails budding and bursting from the tortured form. The very walls sprout hair and sniff the air, howling at the pale orb ever out of reach.
  4. The pit of shit. Your joints ache, your eyes burn, your head throbs whenever someone speaks. Desires play in you like children, urge you to bite and taunt and poop and laugh. Everything feels unfinished. Clay that never made it to the furnace. The twisted runts that were once people feast and fuck and fight; a terrible pantomime far too hard to distinguish from your own life.
  5. The fecund mass. Air thick and yellow, awash with spores. A strain for every substrate. Fat black stalks crack stone, slime molds melt wood like butter. A thousand thousand fungal forms fight for supremacy in your flesh. Everything that could move still does, limbs hijacked by sticky purple mycelium then abandoned as crimson stalks pop through the sockets. That which was inert begins to shift, the whole steaming, rotting, thriving mess of countryside dragging itself as high as it can to spore once more.
  6. The bad book. Bound in skin, of course, and inked in blood. Wrapped in chains and warnings and hidden, poorly, always to be found again. A hand that should know better leafs the pages. The barest wisp of breath revives the cracked brown words. Shadows stretch up the walls, eyes roll back in the head. Roads crack, rivers flood. Devils caper through the forest and in the back of your mind. 66.6 square miles of earth prepare to sink down to hell.
  7. The golden cask. Age weighs heavy on the world. Rusted metal and rotted trees give way to gravity. Nursing homes sigh quietly with dying breath. The sand builds up, in corners first then dunes against the door. The weather beyond unseasonable, waves of heat and a biting wind of bugs. Slower than time the cask cracks open, in no rush to claim its new kingdom.
  8. The silver pond. It fell from the night in a bright white rain. Pooled in a cup of rock at a lofty height. Its flickering surface shows banners, spires, coruscating forms that splash through like moonbeams. Businessmen scurry like rats with windsor-knotted tails. The butcher wears a pig's face, her mistress the head of an ass. A knight on a noble horse, thin and beautiful and horrible, laughing gaily as it seats a lance.
  9. The wetted bed. Stretched blue shapes with thoughtlessly placed joints. In the daylight their tummies are fat and soft, tweedle-dumming down the lane peeking through the boarded windows. At night their fingers grow long as their shadows, grins split lava-lamp bubbles off their heads. They gather, clowns and dogs and angry parents, around a bed of twisted sheets and softly coo. Mustn't wake the sleepy babe.
  10. The crashed ship. Netted up in plastic tents and checkpoints. Everything's under control, say suited men who won't remove their glasses. The paranoid junkie behind the bus stop is calm for once, pupils square. Nothing to see here. Absolute normalcy creeps through the town like a fog. Spats are settled discreetly, grudges forgotten. Take off the mask, don't worry. Everything is going to be okay.
this is my zone hole

Friday, 3 April 2020

Reasons it Rains

Hey why is it always raining in dystopian sci-fi cityscapes??
  1. Classic mind control, precipitating depressants and stimulants sinusoidally. Populations riled into untimely rebellion and crushed under hopeless fog. Clouds and consent manufactured at the same time
  2. Rust and degradation. Renters paying repairs for faults they didn't cause. Hard-earned paychecks lost to addictive cold medicines and dermatologist bills
  3. Strictly aesthetic purposes. A roiling cloudscape for rich cunts towering high in the skyscrapers, keeps the rabble from seeing what they're missing out on
  4. Cooling system for city-spanning AI. Cloud cover keeps sun off the circuits, water washes away the heat. Servitors thermal scan to find water pooled, trapped in facades and firmaments. Pump it out and pump in liquid computing to expand the AI's reach
  5. Eugenic experiments misted down by upper classes trying to breed the perfect citizen. Hormones and engineered plagues leave a sticky residue activated by ancient 5G radio tech
  6. Maintained by weather priests for baroque cultural reasons. Rain as an obtuse metaphor, dousing unworthiness and purifying the many sins of its inhabitants, justifying the oppressions heaped upon them. Keeps everyone depressed and fills them with a strange bitter pride.

Damn who runs this biz even
  1. Fast food chain. All meat products are vat-grown clones of the CEO, all staff are lobotomised clones of the CEO. (shamelessly plagiarised from Dan)
  2. Subscription access to fresh water. Note you're only loaning the water. It can be returned in the same container you got it, in whatever form it left your body. Some inefficiency is expected, but return too little and the company comes to collect, with white rubber suits and vacuums
  3. Distribution specialists. Will sell enormous quantities of junk for impossibly low prices. Once you realise you don't want it, they charge through the nose to remove it again
  4. Medical insurance company. Will organise treatment for almost any ailment, for free. Require only a lifetime commitment that they can infect you every week with new experimental viruses
  5. Socialisation service. Will provide you with friends, of a number and temperament commensurate with your payment plan. It's basically impossible to afford the tiers where they no longer advertise in mid conversation.
  6. Self-actualisation agency. Give them your genome and they'll clone your brain, set your mindclones to anthropocentric tasks (mostly pattern recog and generating bad movie scripts). Once they figure out the things you're most useful at, they send you a print out of career advice. These guys never flip a profit, are propped up by tech entrepreneurs who want your genes for... nice reasons?
thanks to friend Henry for inspiring this post approx two years ago

Here is why it's raining in this town on Mars
  1. Weather machine fills canyon with foggy, breathable air. Company that owns machine and town both drugs the rain, subliminal messaging encoded in neon flashing through the cloud 
  2. Built in jagged crater, glass roof pinning permanent cloudceiling. Lightning arcs between the walls and the central weather machine, sending storms coursing down hilly streets.  Two feet under the concrete skin of the town is the old research station the weather machine was originally built for, choked through with experimental, psychotropic fungus
  3. Huge drilling rigs blast holes in the polar ice. Buildings and streets cluster between the mammoth rigs, kept warm by hot steam and pelted with gritty sleet. Occasionally a drill 'chokes'; an explosion of steam that blows away people, buildings, the rigs themselves, freezing them in place in the air
  4. Carved into cave underneath a huge aquifer, soaking power from the water pressure above by means of huge jet arcing across the town. Ever present drizzle dripping from the ceiling, near constant buzz of mining and research crews journeying into the water-carved caves below, and the occasional peasoup fog leaked from the hydrothermal plant on the edge of town
  5. Built into underhang of a waterfall. Town skinned with a thick layer of rainforest, this covered in turn by the vertical river that runs over every surface. Cliff walls papered in solar panels and vertical-axis turbines, a glut of captured warmth for when aphelion winter threatens to icyclise the town
  6. On a hydrothermal vent in a frozen CO2 sea, rechannelled heat clutching a bubble of sublimation. Unpredictable flumes lash the frozen dome with heat and pressure - a spray of liquid CO2 will give instant frostbite before evaporation 

THERE’S NOTHING BETTER AT BEING THE HUMAN HAND THAN THE HUMAN HAND
You can have, like, a robot hand, and it’ll be super durable or whatever, but you’ll suck at piano and handjobs and all the good things in life
  1. Lobotomies, removing: pain, fear, love, hunger, revolutionary drive, concern for aesthetics
  2. Additional tastebuds, not necessarily on your tongue: valuable metals, carbon monoxide, infrared light, gamma radiation, etc
  3. More eyes. One of the most well developed body mods. The more complicated you make things the more migraines you will get
  4. Photosynthesis genes (actually an algae-and-virus compound injected under the skin)
  5. Plastigut. Gut flora that lets you digest plastic. It’s basically like drinking oil though
  6. Artificial callous (actually an altered strain of HPV, can be grown several inches thick)
  7. Induced alopecia. Never clog drains/air filters again. Look like a huge weirdo though
  8. Induced hypertrichosis. Warm, cuddly. Definitely not a furry thing
  9. Satellite phone. Antenna is usually just looped around your bones, but also you can fill your blood with iron, and then die in a couple months like an idiot. Don’t stand near microwaves
  10. Gyroscope. You’re really hard to push over, and can rotate at will in zero g
  11. Disassembly array. Generally replaces the mouth and tongue; there’re enough nerves there that you can actually do anything useful - e.g. rapidly stripping circuits - with the prosthetic
  12. Voice box. Lets you copy any voice, accent, noise, etc that you hear. Sounds kind of muffled unless the mic protudes from you somewhere obvious
  13. Universal translator. Never gives you real fluency, but is way faster than learning a language yourself. Will let you read .mp4s, binary, etc, with enough practise.
  14. Arithmetic engine. You know the answer to any equation you see, so long as it has a rational answer. Irrational numbers and equations with too many solutions can give you a seizures
  15. Water autocycler. Not much more complicated than a yellowing tube coming out the bottom and going back in at the top
  16. Vitamin drip. Just a big pill stuck in your skin. Rarely causes abscess
  17. Spring limbs. Massively improved performance at one extremely specific task, completely crippled in most other respects. Reversible, if you're staggeringly rich
  18. Tool hand. Nothing too fancy or expensive. Your index finger's a screwdriver now, your middle is a stethoscope, your pinkie a pair of tweezers. Very popular with people already missing fingers
  19. O2 ration kit. Sometimes they'll stick a converter in your lungs and pump you full of synthetic hemoglobin, but by far the cheapest and most efficient technique is a coma bomb in your brain
  20. Skin pockets. Gross!

Thursday, 2 April 2020

HEX CRAWLER 666

Several years ago I spent some time accumulating a big collection of art for a dead-future setting called Scavenger I was working on at the time.

It's a lot of good art. I have never been sure what to do with it.


I was already on Twitter as @circusarmy. Now I'm also on there as @hexcrawler666. I have a million of these things. I will be tweeting vile hexagons at you until the world perishes in flame, so about five weeks.

Here is the merest sample of my power:
  1. A gravel track across barren plains to distant, snow-capped mountains. Not a scrap of vegetation to be seen. Tiny mouths and eyes peep open in the dunes, pleading for water. Feed them a river and they’ll grow you a forest.
  2. Fur-swathed nomads huddle in their yurt, brewing healthsome tea in an iron pot. Yapping, rheum-eyed mongrels with frost beading in their fur hate you on sight, and the nomads always trust their dogs.
  3. Love-maddened polyamorous ground sloths try to shake a hunter out of a tree. They just want to kiss and cuddle him. He has a lucky amulet and a crossbow, but no luck or bolts. He’s been up there for a week, eating apples.
  4. Proud bear hunter and her family celebrating the occasion of her first kill. They will invite you to join the festivities. Warriors from a rival clan lie in wait over the hill to ambush the once everyone’s drunk.
  5. Hollow radio golem bristling with antennae, wandering the desert. Wants to open up and pull you inside, where you’ll be forced to listen to alien transmissions from beyond the stars. This gives you magic and makes you insane.
  6. Lake full of floating trash. Colony of junkdivers living on dragon-headed rustboats, holding their breath and wrapping themselves in lead weights to sink through murky metallic water in search of trinkets.
  7. Erotic lizard-themed sorceress locked in intense argument with her enslaved iguana familiar over who is domming who. They are looking for the Chrome Pyramid but they can’t understand the map they bought in the bazaar.
  8. Bejewelled lich and retinue of obsequious skeletons with gilded halberds. Hunched mummy-ape totes huge parchment umbrella to protect it from the deadly rays of the sun. Wants cash and servitude.
  9. Frozen remains of a steaming alien gigamachine, melting a crater into the surrounding snow. Enter through the heat vents. A gang of outlaw archaeologists, paranoid about shapeshifters, have set up a camp on the icy rim.
  10. Barrow-tomb of the King of Golden Grief, lying in stately sorrow. Wall paintings tell the story of his defeat and exile. His mask grants you an air of solemn authority such that none can gainsay you.
Did you like that? Are you a little piggy for it? You will like HEX CRAWLER 666.

picture pong LAST

this is the last one. thank you for your service                                          The Ocular Realm

Also known as: the Hell of Deep Dreams, the Garden of Procedure, the Mordvintsev Continuum.

What are its aspects: dogs in the clouds. Demons in the bricks. Crawling eyes in sidewalk cracks. Only the flattest plainest surfaces are safe. Anything that's not a face is a face. Anything that's already a face you don't even want to think about.

Why fear it: mass pareidolia. The rapid shoggothification of everything you love. Look at a thing in your room. Is it a lamp? Is it your brother? Now it comes towards you with mouths that are toes that are trains.

Whence it came: God's eye detects all living things in creation. The reversed eye of the demiurge, God's bleak opposite, imposes life and form in a stupid hiccuping parody of the sacred algorithms.

How to beat it: Closing your eyes doesn't help. Despite the name this thing doesn't care if you look at it or not. Scholars don't know if it's a disease or a miracle or a physical place. I'm not going to say there isn't a mad wizard somewhere, or a big eye that you could just stab with a sword. Run through streets lined with snakeskin and glooping with unborn monsters and hope Yaldabaoth doesn't turn its baleful eye on you.

Saturday, 28 March 2020

d20 diseases

The best entries from Wikipedia's list of fictional diseases, fucked around with and compressed into a useful form. Just posting about plague for no reason at all.
  1. Hanahaki Syndrome. Flowering plants take root in your lungs. You start coughing up petals and eventually suffocate. Only cure is for someone to fall in love with you. The plants' roots can be surgically removed, but then you lose the capacity to fall in love ever again.
  2. Macondovirus. You can't and don't have to sleep. Your eyes glow like a cat. Gradually you lose your identity and your understanding of the world, leaving you an autonomous drone that exists only to labor. Probably a metaphor.
  3. Stripes. Paints your body with colourful stripes that alter their hue and pattern according to the things people say about you. As the disease advances it starts to fuck about with the shape of your skin, covering you in shifting conversation-dependent waves of feathers or fungus. Kept at bay by eating a fuckload of lima beans.
  4. Carnosaur Virus. Makes you pregnant with a flesh-eating dinosaur fetus that will tear its way out of you on reaching maturity. With a good doctor you could have a C-section and raise a little baby raptor of your own.
  5. Malignapterosis. Makes you sneeze, break out in spots and experience violent temperature fluctuations. Actually a transformed wizard hiding out from his enemies. The virus is relatively harmless, but the wizard's enemies want to kill you to force him out.
  6. Say The Opposite Of What You Mean Disease. Does what it sounds like it does. Painless but infuriating.
  7. Protomorphosis Syndrome. Makes you "de-evolve" into a caveman, then a monkey, then a rodent, then a lizard, then an amphibian, then a little blob of cells. If it's not stopped you merge with the oceanic all-consciousness of the time before time.
  8. Bonus Eruptus. Makes your skeleton try to jump out of your mouth and run away. You can stop this from happening by carefully negotiating with your skeleton, arranging to drink more milk, respect its autonomy, let it make decisions sometimes, etc.
  9. Dave's Syndrome. Drives you into a frenzy of destruction whenever you're exposed to temperatures in excess of 31C.
  10. Electric Flu. Characterised by facial redness, sparks coming from the cheeks and uncontrolled bursts of electricity that lethally zap anyone who's standing near you when you sneeze. Spread by magnetic fields.
  11. Geodermic Granititis. Fools the central nervous system into calcifying bodily tissue, eventually turning you into a pile of rocks. Also known as cobbles. Makes you very hard to kill before you die.
  12. Ghost Sickness. Contracted from prolonged proximity or intimate contact with ghosts. Causes hallucinations, chills and fear, making you terrified of everything you encounter. Cured by vanquishing the ghost that gave it to you.
  13. Head Pigeons. Makes a pigeon nest on your head. Highly contagious.
  14. Holovirus. Transmitted via radio waves. Often caught from intimate contact with holograms. Endows you with telepathy, telekinesis and hex-vision while draining your life force and driving you insane.
  15. Mono Orangosis. Makes you unable to see, hear, smell, taste or touch anything orange. Technically means you can walk through orange walls - however, just painting them orange won't work, as you'll walk through the paint and hit the brick.
  16. Polywater Intoxication. Makes you sweaty and horny and incapable of controlling your impulses. Fun to have. Possibly turns you into a swashbuckler, or makes you get naked and run into a blizzard.
  17. The Suds. Bleaches your skin and makes you cough up soap bubbles. Otherwise just a cold.
  18. Worrywarts. Covers your body in ugly green warts and makes you incapable of making decisions. Cured by touching the horn of a wartmonger and chanting a special incantation, which transfers all your warts to the wartmonger's body.
  19. Angel Toxicosis. Gives you crystalline wings and super-hearing, strength and vision. Slowly removes your ability to taste, sleep, cry, feel pain and talk. Ultimately you give up your heart and your memory before turning into a beautiful, highly infectious angel statue.
  20. Radical-6. Causes you to experience time at a 40% slower rate. This is so annoying that you kill yourself.

Thursday, 26 March 2020

picture pong 5

here we go                                                                                                Housetiger

So this is pretty simple. One day you wake up and there's a tiger in your house. It's not actively killing you right now. But it is definitely a tiger and it's definitely not going anywhere. It might eat your dog or tear your pantry apart if it gets bored or peckish. You have to be polite to the tiger.

Is this a problem?

Well, you could just leave. But a house represents a significant investment of wealth. Nobody's going to buy a house with a tiger in it.

You could wait and starve it out. But somehow this doesn't seem to work. It's not clear what the tiger is eating or if it's even a real physical entity. Anyway you watch the house door for a week and you don't see the tiger go out, but when you come back in it's still right there curled up on your rug. It doesn't seem happy that you left it alone.

You could hire some adventurers to kill the tiger. Tigers are cunning and hard to kill but so are adventurers, in theory.

You could try to co-exist with the tiger. Of course it could kill you at any time but it hasn't done that yet. You respect its space and try not to freak out when it curls up behind you on the sofa. Some days the tiger wants company. Other days it's grouchy and you have to walk on eggshells. There are advantages - nobody's going to rob a house with a tiger in it. It can tolerate guests. Maybe you could host a big fancy party and impress your friends. A lot of people do this and it kind of works okay but it's very stressful until you get used to it, and one day after you've gotten used to it the tiger will kill and eat you. What do you expect? It's a tiger.

---
hello! you must account for me!

Tuesday, 24 March 2020

the city of rain

Slanted cobblestone streets. Gutters rushing with ice-black water. Mossy stone bridges arching over canals. Slick spike-topped walls concealing lush private subtropical gardens, a hint of shocking green in a place of darkened greys. Plazas pocked by bottomless dark wells. Gargoyled cathedrals, always empty, rain spurting from each demon-mouth. Abandoned neighbourhoods where the system failed and the streets are flooded knee-deep.

Damp, furious, red-eyed jackdaws. Soggy tramps clustered in doorways, coughing up their guts. Vicious, rabid garbage otters. Caravans of clerks in turtle formation under stiff black umbrellas.  Paddling turtles. Cheerful urban ducks. The endless patrols of the damunjammers, in their black oilskins and floppy hats, bearing lead-glass lanterns and long white poles to clear blocked gutters before they lose another street.

Gabled slate roofs like witch's hats, prickled with cupolas. Rattling drainpipes.  Scowling faces pressing against smeared lead-glass windows, watching until they're sure you're out of sight. Heavy oak doors with lion's-head brass knockers. There is safety and warmth inside the homes, feast-laden dinner-tables and roaring fires in study-rooms lined with leather-bound tomes, but they will not let you in without a bloody good reason.

If you are in a city and there is enough rain, for long enough, you can walk from there into the city of rain. Though you may not want to.
Ettore Roesler Franz, official painter of the city of rain
LOCATIONS

1. The Teatro Imbroglio. 

Rotting plaster cherubs. Peeling murals of gods and angels. Aesthetes cram like sombre sardines into the stalls of this dank, humid, rococo theatre, suffering drips from the punctured, painted ceiling and the foul sweat-smell of their fellow patrons to appreciate warbling opera and terrible, laboured farces. Rusted, malfunctioning stage machinery drops papier-mache suns and opens trapdoors beneath stress-crazed actors and ballerinas. Labyrinth of cellars NOT home to an albino cannibal phantom.

2. The Palace of Justice.

Hook-noses judges in mouldy wigs. Pinch-faced lawyers in mildewed black robes. Wan pickpockets and etiquette criminals pleading for mercy as the hammer comes down. The sentence is life in prison, a patchwork maze of rust-barred, rat-haunted cells that get more flooded the farther down you go. The doors are never unlocked but the holes in the walls are never mended. They say you can escape through the sewers but the chain gangs and rodent queens down there protect their turf.

3. The Codleian Library.

Dry-lipped librarians with crossbows and pinch-nez guard the silence. Mold cements the pages of tedious leather-bound tomes, stacked to the ceiling. Try not to cough and choke as you crack them open. Filthy scholars with hobo dreadlocks and missing teeth build blanket-nests in the endless stacks, huts from the books they've completed and discarded in their endless search for wisdom. The deeper, damper halls are overgrown with moss, exhaling literature in their psychoactive spores.

4. The Urchin Derby.

A guttural cascade down steep zigzag streets, obstacles of pried-up cobblestones and makeshift wooden dams. Street urchins racing intricate origami leaf-boats, chanting the names of their favourite craft and folders. Punters watching intently from overhanging bridges, their fortunes staked on each twist of the current. A strong leaf from a rare tree is worth its weight in gold. Kids on rooftops watch for militant damunjammers with blood-tipped razor-wire crowdbrooms.

5. The Crown and Anchor.

Yeasty ale, gravy-soaked puddings and unpleasantly strong sausages at extortionate prices. Oil lamps. Dark varnished oil paintings of glowering old men. Extravagent, matted facial hair. Sour-smelling fur coats hanging forever in cloak-rooms, haunted by indoor moths. A five-month-old game of dominos, with players dropping in and out. A six-month-old pot of stew, still on the boil. The public bar is for the damp - you don't get into the saloon bar until you are completely dry.

6. The Discreet Menagerie.

Sulking hippos in muddy lagoons. Maddened wet leopards skittering across stone floors, pouncing at every raindrop. Contemptuous orang-utans reaching out between the bars to pluck off your hat. The overpowering smell of wet dog and unscraped dung, radiating from every corner. Zookeepers in shit-smeared tuxedos explain that the animals wear carnival masks "for your discretion" and dodge all questions about how they train the beasts to keep them on.

Saturday, 21 March 2020

d20 things in the creepy old curiosity shoppe

inspired by this

  1. Brass cage. Empty. If you put a small animal in the cage and take your eye off it for a couple of minutes, the animal will be gone. You will find it again later in an unexpected place.
  2. Oak wardrobe. Holds a portal to a very small magical realm. Basically just a snowy field with a single lamp-post and an overfriendly faun who wants to hang out.
  3. Turk's-head meerschaum pipe. Haunted by a wise but perfidious vizier. The smoke whispers sage advice into your ear and secretly plots to steal your body.
  4. Porcelain piggy bank. Bulges grotesquely as it's fed more and more coins, becoming less cute and more of a stubbly, obese, feral hog with a Videodrome-style flesh slot in its back.
  5. Dried basilisk. Actually a Jenny Haniver - the mummified carcass of a stingray, cut to look like a grinning imp. Will definitely probably come alive if you just do the right thing to it.
  6. Clay teapot. Used for thousands of years to brew the ritual mind-palace tea of the Monks of Leng, and retains some of its unearthly flavour. Weird dreams if you drink from it.
  7. Divination dice. Carved from animal bone. Inscribed with cryptic sigils. Used to tell the future, but the manual that explains the sigils is so torn and faded it's almost impossible to read.
  8. Ship in a bottle. Crewed by dozens of tiny sailors who seem to think they're caught in the doldrums on an endless glassy sea. You can hear them if you put your ear to the mouth.
  9. Cuckoo clock. Every hour a different bird comes out, its species foretelling the mood of the hour. Cracking it open to inspect the mechanism reveals a small wooden egg.
  10. Oil lamp. Home to a small fire demon that will do its best to grant wishes in exchange for its favourite fuel, liquefied human fat. Pretends it's a lot more powerful than it is.
  11. Shrunken head. Holds the vengeful spirit of a jungle warrior. If you decapitate a small animal and attach the head, it will serve you as a familiar. The head will explain this in dreams.
  12. Stuffed crocodile. Crawl into its mouth and come out the mouth of a random crocodile somewhere in the world. Tickle its belly and it barfs up something a crocodile ate.
  13. Music box. The tune it plays seems hauntingly familiar, like you heard it as a child. Trying to track it down will lead you to a horrible revelation about your past.
  14. Butterfly collection. Preserved under glass. If you smash the glass and pull out the pins they will come back to life and turn out to be vampires.
  15. Faded globe. Depicts the fused, hyperborean continents of the world as it was in a forgotten age, before the kingdoms of forbidden science sank below the waves.
  16. Harpsichord. Makes you play like a virtuoso until blood spurts out from between the keys and you collapse into a coma. Only a true musical genius can tame it.
  17. Oil painting. Depicts a decrepit old man. Somewhere in the world there's a handsome young immortal who wants this back. He's famous enough that you'll hear if he crumbles to dust.
  18. Medical skeleton. If you remove some of its bones it will come to life at night and try to get more bones. Currently missing two metacarpals. Friendly, loves to dance.
  19. Well-worn overcoat. Huge, warm, bulky. Countless pockets with coins and little trinkets the last owner left behind. You keep finding new ones and the stuff in them keeps getting stranger.
  20. Engraved whale tooth. The whale wants it back. It's ruthless and creative. Don't think that just because you're on land it can't find a way to get to you.

Friday, 20 March 2020

picture pong 4 (?)

THE ENTITY MUST BE DEFINED. ALL PRAISE TO THOSE WHO DEFINE THE ENTITY.

The Three Pests of Pandomice


Some cities have legendary guardians. They arise in times of great danger to rescue the inhabitants from evil.

Pandomice has these fucking things. Their names are Belberith, Furfur and Agastigel. In times of great prosperity, when everything seems to be going well for the city, they emerge from slumber to fuck it all up.

Belberith, on the lower left, has charge of greed and ignorance. She slowly corrupts the city's leaders, masquerading as a sage advisor and subtly encouraging them to take the stupidest and most short-sighted possible actions. Cut that grain subsidy! Privatise those wizard schools! You don't really need an independent corruption watchdog, do you?

Furfur, on the upper left, has charge of pestilence and misfortune. He contaminates the water supply with cholera, sets small fires in the warehouses, unleashes ship-boring worms on the trading fleets, brings hail to decimate the crops and generally does anything in his power to maximise the hostility of the physical world.

Agastigel, on the right, has charge of cunning and enmity. She is highly intelligent, charming, funny, useful, scrupulously honest and generally a pleasure to be around. She works very closely with the city's enemies, telling them exactly what the other pests are planning and offering extremely good advice about how exactly Pandomice can be brought to its knees.

Pandomice occupies an excellent strategic location on a highly-defensible island at the mouth of a river that's a vital artery of trade. By every geographic law, it should be a global power. Right now it's on the rise again. The bazaars bustle with colourful exotic goods, the coffee-houses are full of sublime intellectual chatter, the vaults of the banks are overflowing and the new Prince Ludwig is by all accounts a remarkable, almost Napoleonic figure. Great times lie ahead for Pandomice.

The locals are starting to get very fucking nervous.
---

but who are these guys??

Tuesday, 17 March 2020

picture pong 3

This is fucked up dude. How dare you. No it's good, I like that there's a whole fucking political theory in it. Anyway here we go:

The Bibulous Mantethrax


"Tripartite am I in nature, and most resplendent in form. But howsoever lieth my essence? This is the riddle you must seek, traveller - for as three stands in one, and one stands in three, so to doth my gnosis stand as that of the only thing in nature, personiflaged as my humble self! Dare you acknowledge my inquisition?"

This is the story of the Mantethrax.

There was an old man.

He went in search of Philosophy.

He lay awake in a cave in the desert for fifteen days and sixteen nights, eating toads and scorpions. But Philosophy eluded him.

He dwelt as a beggar in the gutters of the City of Peace, sucking up the slime between cobblestones. But Philosophy eluded him still.

He tended lepers in a sanatorium and travelled with a pack of hyaenas, obediently cleaning up their dung. He even, at his lowest moment, did some part-time work for a law firm. But Philosophy persisted in eluding him. So finally he weighed down his pockets with stones and cast himself, despairing, into the river, overcome by the knowledge that there was no such as Philosophy and he had wasted the golden last years of his life.

And at that moment, Philosophy was there.

"Indeed, traveller, do not let my prowess dissuade thee! For those who seek fire must inevitably come to water, and we must travel a road of earth to visit a precipice of air! Have you questions? Exegesis? Apologia? Fear not your own dullness, for the keen scintillation of my wit is as sharp and bleak as the tooth in the serpent's tail! Now, what ails thee? Something doth ail thee, doth it not?"

The Mantethrax is now a Champion of Philosophy. It has been tasked by Nature Her Divine Self to seek out and slay Enemies of Thought. It would like your help in his matter.

It has a sword. It can give you the sword. The sword's name is Argument. It uses your INT bonus instead of your STR and can be physically deflected by good reasons why you should not be using it.

It can also attack you with the sword. The Mantethrax has a very high INT bonus. Its claws just work like regular claws.

It will pay for your help in answered questions. The Mantethrax has a complete intuitive understanding of the deepest mysteries of the universe and absolutely nothing else. For each Enemy you slay it will explain to you one mystery. The explanation will make complete intuitive sense to you and be utterly incomprehensible to anyone else. You will change your life to adjust to the explanation.

You will not be able to understand that nobody else can understand the explanation. To you it will seem that everyone else is just being willfully ignorant. The willfully ignorant are Enemies of Thought.

Other Enemies of Thought include orcs, graverobbers, bookburners, politicians, schoolteachers and probably adventuring parties. Also anyone who points out that the word "bibulous" means "drunk".

"For thought is the highest pursuit of art, and art is the highest pursuit of life! And what are we if not alive? Tell me quickly, or demonstrate by thine thoughtlessness, and hence thine lifelessness!"

There is of course such a thing as the Cult of the Mantethrax and if you're not a deep thinker yourself this is probably who you'll encounter first. Skinny weedy guys with bad facial hair doing Freemason shit and being weirdly good in fights.
---

Alright what's the go with this thing:

Friday, 13 March 2020

picture pong 2

The challenge has been ACCEPTED. Archons March On provides us with this devastating riposte. I recline, defeated, amid the bloody remnants of my hubris.

But ALL IS NOT LOST. It is now my serve and I shall destroy you utterly. Here is the image that providence and my foe's ingenuity has provided me:

And here is what it is:                                                           The Anti-Anti-Anti-Pope.

Also known as: Papa XYSTVS, Old Brother Guilt, the Umbraculum, the Hog of the Morning.

What are its aspects: height, darkness, the creaking of gibbets, a rich dry fruity contemptuous voice like every corrupt untouchable authority. Lots of spidery hands to give you blessings.

Why fear it: schismophrenia. In the presence of XYSTVS no two people can hold the same system of belief. Take sanity damage whenever you agree with anyone on anything. Cities burn as one-man cults wage bloody battles in the streets, overcome by rabid philosophising, tearing ancient dogmas like "murder is bad" to shreds with their bare teeth.

Whence it came: a holy empire torn apart by petty disagreement. A controversy over ritual - should the chasuble be trimmed with five rows of lace, or only four? - that came to symbolise every smoldering factional vendetta. Hate and smug stupidity embodied as a guy.

How to beat it: Establish a tradition of respectful intellectual debate and resolve your differences one microfeud at a time through the painstaking application of reason and logic. Or just cut its head off.

---

MY TRIUMPH IS COMPLETE. To stand against me now would be foolish. But in my munificence I have granted you another chance to defeat me. What, or who, is this:

Tuesday, 10 March 2020

we are now playing picture pong

(Dero influence caused the failure of the previous image. A new image has been provided. SAVOR YOUR BRIEF REPRIEVE.)

Here is an image.

But: what is it? What could this thing be?

That is for YOU to discover.

You are tasked with defining the nature of the entity or object depicted within this photograph. You are to write a BLOG POST about it. You will then produce another cryptic image for somebody else to write a blog post about.

And we will all have fun.

If you do this we will all become wise geniuses like Scrap Princess and Patrick Stuart. I had a dream the other night that Scrap Princess was mean to me in a Google Plus post. That can never be allowed to happen. By playing my game of picture pong you will banish my subconscious demons.

But if you do not do this we will all be dead of oil price shocks and the coronavirus. ALL IS AT STAKE.

Begin!

(Also please tell me in the comments if this image also does not work for some insane fucking reason. I'm furious about this, the last one was good and now you will never see it.)

Sunday, 8 March 2020

d20 more magical precipitations

taking after this

  1. Rain of Kittens. You would think this would lead to smushed meat everywhere, but luckily they always land on their feet. Minority of suspicious people flatly refuse to believe this can possibly be as benevolent as it is and start killing the kittens, leading to widespread outrage and bitter division of communities into pro/anti-kitten factions.
  2. Rain of Diamonds. Very small, sharp hail that scuffs every hard surface beyond repair and basically flays you alive if you're unlucky enough to be caught in it. Beautiful, though. In the weeks to come, every jeweller will go bankrupt.
  3. Rain of Larceny. Tinted black. Picks the pockets of anyone caught in it. Lifts small items from any building it gets into. Hoards its treasures wherever the water goes to ground - so after it passes, cisterns and streambeds will be full of valuable trinkets.
  4. Rain of Orientalism. Tinted yellow. Makes everything it touches temporarily "more Chinese". Widely condemned as problematic by liberals and scholars. In settings that are already highly Chinese it instead makes everything more like an anime idea of medieval Europe.
  5.  Rain of Revolution. Tinted red. Destroys capital. Acts as acid on any complicated machine which is being used to replace a worker. Erodes the walls around gated communities. Melts banks. Stings the skin of the rich.
  6. Rain of Olive Oil. Makes everything intensely slippery. Nobody can move on hard surfaces faster than a crawl. Every cook puts a jar out. Will fry on metal roofs when the sun comes.
  7. Skinflake Snow. Powdered dandruff and thumbnail-sized pieces of dead dry skin heaping in snowdrifts and whirling on the wind. Harmless but disgusting. Too loose to build a snowman out of, which won't stop kids trying. Look forward in the coming days to plague of mites.
  8. Rain of Pages. Torn from random secondhand books. Most are just cheap genre paperbacks or self-help stuff but some contain forbidden secrets. Blow everywhere. Unfortunately flammable.
  9. Brainrain. Tinted blue. Makes everyone super smart.
  10. Braindrainrain. Tinted a slightly different shade of blue. Makes everyone super dumb, but they think they're super smart.
  11. Painrain. Tinted green. Magnifies all pain suffered by a factor of ten. Do not stub your toe. Definitely do not break your leg or like, actually be tortured.
  12. Rain of Grain. Great for everyone except wheat farmers, who won't starve but will go bankrupt. Hoarded in silos, can supply food for years and permanently change the socioeconomic landscape.
  13. Architect Snow. Little flakes of abstract building material that take on the style of any building they hit, encrusting roofs with irregular cupolas and piling new wings up against the sides of houses.
  14. Rain of Dye. Stains everything in bright rainbow colours that won't come out for weeks.
  15. Rain of Eyeballs. Bounce instead of splattering. Roll around looking at anything that moves. Unclear who or what might be seeing through them.
  16. Rain of Perfume. Cloyingly sweet aroma is unbearable at first, pleasant and refreshing after it's had a chance to fade.
  17. Rain of Wine. Delicious and sticky. Massive citywide drunken revel inevitably leads to shenanigans. Really fucks with a lot of recovering alcoholics.
  18. Rain of Foam. Non-toxic. Makes the whole town look like it's taken a nice shiny bubble bath. Generally also leads to street parties.
  19. Royal Blizzard. Heralds the coming of the snow queen. Iceflakes form into a massive ethereal glittering frost palace just outside town that will melt with the return of the sun. Ice dragons and yetis and frost skeletons and sapphires to steal. Get in there and have a fun adventure before it's too late!!
  20. Rain of Tigers. Also land on their feet, but now it's bad.

Sunday, 23 February 2020

Peninsula of Peril

Moved to the Quimper Peninsula, in Washington State, a few months go. Here are some of the local sights.
  1. Lawn forested in statues of the bigfoot. Bigfoot smiling, fishing, smoking reefer and cuddling a raccoon. Most are sold already, the owner swears, though nobody comes to pick them up. Oh well, there're always more to carve
  2. Drive-in cinema cloaked in pines. Shadows hang long across neat rows of cars. Half the speakers are missing, the sound system broken into ghostly chirps of horror anthologies played in decades past. When you get up to pee the woods are abrasively silent, looming with shadows cast from the black and white screen
  3. Crab shack too close to the highway. Fisherwoman talks loud over the droning traffic. Things used to be different, she says, before the roads and summer homes, when you could hear volcanoes groan below the earth and the water teemed with bony-headed fish
  4. Down by the docks the rust-cheeked boats are pulled up for repairs. In the water toppled trees bob like icebergs, jellyfish. Shipwrights huddle and stare, wrapped tight against the cold, whispering superstition
  5. Summer camp on the cliff edge ringed by fake grass. Real green won't grow over their salt circle. They're open about their faith, about the crosses carved inside the doors. Teasingly vague whether they're keeping something out, or in
  6. 'JESUS is LORD' says the sign, blue on white. 'GOD is DEAD' says the graffiti. The look in the pastor's eye suggests they're both right
  7. Suburban culs-de-sac tighten upon themselves like knotted intestines. The houses bunch up two or three to a yard, trap the light and cast it back at 50Hz. Bristle-backed cats and dogs stalk pairs of people through the night
  8. Cars sink into the wet ground. 'For Sale' signs with the prices faded out of sight. Mildew and moss blur the propane tank to a rhinoceral burl. Banner in the blacked-out window offers gifts and games to children
  9. Smell of the paper mill rolls across you, thick vegetable wind trailing fog. Mean-spirited kids taunt of things hidden in the smell, hunting cowards and tattle-tales
  10. Cardboard cutout by the fuel pumps advertises deep-fried drumsticks. Hiding behind the shelves inside, attendant wears a dirty chicken suit and carries a bat
  11. Dead silence in the tunnel beneath the road. Semi-trailer rumble echoes down the pipe but you'd swear there was nothing above you but a hundred miles of rock
  12. Second-hand variety store, in endless rows of sporting, shooting, fishing gear; pickling, poisoning, pruning kits; homewares and hardware, jet-skis and tvs. Out back 
  13. Swollen hogs in ramshackle bungalows, lording the wallow over a few ducks, two goats and a horse. The beasts are well fed, the farmhouse looks abandoned
  14. Locked gates and a welcoming sign. Authority in the Owners Association obtained through cultish meddling; surveillance, sabotage and the kidnapping of pets. Access is achieved with bribery or trickery, but beware; trespassers will be prosecuted
  15. Woodpecker watches you, half-hidden behind the tree. Whenever you move it pecks out a rhythm, encoding your intrusion in holes in the bark
  16. Potholes guard each end of the bridge, a hulking truck gates your tail. The waters, a flashing mirror, reflect headbeams and the night-eyes of deer, white wood graves for those taken by the current  
  17. Casino in solid cubes of light. World blacked out by the glare. Roads billow into overpass around it; whenever the heads burst from the earth, a shining subsoil of auto lots and liquor stores lies exposed
  18. Strip mall wallpapered across the hills, memetic maze of repetition. Towering billboards declare indecipherable names and sigils. It rations to those that take its turn-offs and rakes at the tails of travellers-through
  19. Mountainside stream, steaming with sulphur. Hazy baths barred by sign and toll, doors and the jaws of beasts. Bubbling, muttering wisdoms of the deep water
  20. Cedar's thick outer skin splits like ripe melon. Long-fingered form inside stretches out a yawn

Thursday, 23 January 2020

400 thousand rubber ducks

shipping container full of:
  1. rubber ducks
  2. ceramic owls
  3. cardboard flags
  4. fancy santas
  5. faulty vacuums
  6. rechargeable batteries
  7. art deco lamps
  8. mouldy twinkies
  9. bugged telephones
  10. easter themed fondue sets
  11. musical plaques
  12. child-friendly steak knives
  13. edible houseplants
  14. animatronic action figures
  15. star war lunchboxes
  16. bootleg dvds
  17. roboticized shaving kits
  18. lockable money boxes
  19. deconstructed speakers
  20. pink vibrators
or 2d20, descriptor and detritus

  1. Rusty, with a broken O2 cycler. Captain is a drunk
  2. Fresh-painted, with a custom stardome. Captain is a nudist
  3. In neon, with a laser projector array. Captain is a gamer
  4. Leaky, with duct tape repairs. Captain is a child
  5. Stolen, with bullet holes in the hull. Captain is a paranoiac
  6. Badly-driven, with a smoking engine. Captain is an insomniac
  7. Chromed, with dekotora accessories. Captain is a hoarder
  8. Latexed, with a promiscuously-shaped chassis. Captain is a pervert
  9. Precisely maintained, with a jury-rigged cannon. Captain is drug dealer
  10. Graffitied, with a studio and darkroom. Captain is an artist
  11. Stuccoed, with a pizza oven and greenhouse. Captain is a gourmand
  12. On fire, with an over-stocked hold. Captain is a compulsive liar
  13. Factory-fresh, with too many antennae. Captain is a cop
  14. Overgrown, with a hazy atmosphere. Captain is an eco-terrorist
  15. Broadcasting nu-metal, with blacked out viewports. Captain is a goth
  16. Plastered with adverts, with a vending machine collection. Captain is a retro enthusiast
  17. Speeding, with incendiary bumper stickers. Captain is a racist
  18. Oversized, with flame decals. Captain is a gentle giant
  19. Heavily reconditioned, with a defunct asteroid drill. Captain is a prepper
  20. Art deco, with a bonsai garden. Captain is a robot
or 3d20; aesthetic, accessories, aviator

1d3 crew members per ship c'mon
  1. Adi Parva
  2. Poboy Ranchero
  3. Hardbody Wang
  4. Corona Vocal
  5. Jainie Eightstreet
  6. Doc Broccoli
  7. Seabury Chrust
  8. Litmus Bic
  9. Taco Softshell
  10. Banjo Bumperton
  11. Slazenger Fats
  12. Collegiate Lam
  13. Hijack Lojack
  14. Teacup Zephyrson
  15. Pluck Gocard
  16. Ratrick Goggins
  17. Lu Monsanto
  18. Bok Choi
  19. Benzene Infomatic
  20. Acceptable Tub
2d20 names. If your dice add to 10, 3d20 instead