Tuesday 13 February 2018

Goblin Market Generator

Like the Yoon-Suin market generator but with goblins. Could fruitfully be used with the Hexcrawl of the Marcher Lords. For each street of the market roll once on the goods table, 1d3 times on the encounter table and once on the games table. Then scatter a bunch of these and these around. Zak's goblin market post is also useful - I feel like almost everyone has had a go at this at one time or another.

Monday 12 February 2018

The Fatal Shaft

The empire faced an epidemic of crime. The war had drained their coffers, the population was exploding and the ancient elite clung to what little capital was left, enclosing common land and replacing human workers with hideous new machines. The rural poor terrorised the highways and the urban slum-dwellers haunted the filthy streets, publicly indulging in unnameable sins, ready to do anything for their daily crumb of bread and tot of gin. Worse - Levellers, Radicals and Chartists were active among the mob, organising them to rise against their betters. Something had to be done.

When children toiling in the darkest part of the Cedarbrook Mine found a shaft sunk deep into the earth - a shaft that could have been dug by no human hand - Parliament was quick to act. The blind, emaciated survivors of the First Expedition were hastily packed off to asylums and secluded estates in the country, but the notes and maps they carried home were endlessly poured over by Her Majesty's patient administrators. The discovery - a vast, sprawling cavern system, home to clusters of edible black fungus, accessible only from above - could not have been more perfectly suited to the Empire's needs. They decided to name the settlement Fort Providence.

The army jury-rigged a rope elevator. At its first use the rope snapped, sending a basket-load of convicts clattering down into the dark. Their mangled corpses were never found. The second load of settlers survived for months in near-darkness, on starvation rations dropped down from the surface, desperately trying to work out how to farm the fungus. Parliament intended the colony to be self-sufficient - they resented having to pay for it. It took several years for the convicts, working under military supervision, to hack out houses in the cavern walls and get the hang of subterranean agriculture. Only when they struck a vein of copper did the town really begin to grow.

Decades later, the colony of Miasma thrives. The earliest convicts worked off their seven-year sentences, obtained their tickets of leave, were granted land by the government and a fresh supply of felons to work it. Their children are dark-adapted cave urchins, raised on half-believed tales of the bright lands above. They're allowed to return to the surface but rarely wish to. The First Subterranean Regiment, nicknamed the Devil's Own, are a rum-swilling, unshaven, sadistic mob who enforce the Governor's laws with bayonet and manleather whip. Fort Providence, in its bottle-shaped cavern with its huge central guard-tower, has a church, a hospital, a newspaper. Convicts who violate its myriad laws are dragged off to the secondary hells - satellite colonies in the surrounding caves, established to terrorise and punish those felons who are recalcitrant or incorrigibly criminal by nature. They are all governed by their own sinister Wardens, and all awful. Some contain their own tertiary hells. Nobody knows how far it goes. You can get sent there just for looking at a soldier in a funny way.

Anyone can walk away from Miasma into the surrounding caves at any time. The Veins are so insanely dangerous that most people who do just die, or are returned by Volumefolk or wandering Olm in exchange for rewards. The colony, being supported by a surface state, is very rich by Veins standards. The Devil's Own employ a few Olm trackers on a semi-permanent basis. On the other hand, it's not unknown for a tribe of Veins natives to take an escaped convict in and teach them how to survive in the underworld. These lucky few become Veinrangers - preying on the colony's outskirts, raiding their fungus-farms, stealing a sonic pig or two and vanishing back into the darkness. The PCs begin as convicts in a chain gang, brutalised by a heartless overseer, on the verge of being flogged to death. Escape is their first challenge. Becoming a band of Veinrangers is the second. The campaign's final goal is to find a way back to the surface. The obvious way is the rope elevator in the central shaft above Fort Providence - it can only be operated from above, and gravity is the enemy.

  1. Mandatory silence, darkness, solitary confinement. Based on the Auburn System. Prisoners weave silk from ultraviolet caterpillars.
  2. Half-flooded tunnels too low for a man to stand. Prisoners shuck black pearls from cave-oysters and slowly forget how to walk upright.
  3. Opal mine. Prisoners keep a fraction of their finds, must use it to pay for food and lodging. Meant to teach virtues of industry. Lots of gambling.
  4. Slowly flooding cells with four convicts apiece. Heavy crank pumps the water out - one person must always be turning it.
  5. Farming unusually huge black fungi. Near a natural fission reactor - convicts are rapidly and grotesquely mutated.
  6. Cramped cages dangling above lakes of lava, their iron bars agonisingly hot. The guards drop food-scraps from above and the prisoners must catch them.
(this is all based on Robert Hughes' classic of Australian history, The Fatal Shore, which I have just read. also there's a joke here about Down Under but I can't figure out what it is. I might do more on the Hells later but also maybe not)

Monday 5 February 2018

Tools of the Goblin Pirates

Sail south from Yoon-Suin and you come to a chain of atolls and volcanic islands that I don't have a name for yet. They're home to dozens of bickering feudal clans, governed by a puppet Empress who never leaves her floating palace. Sengoku Japan + Miyazaki + Wind Waker + Lafcadio Hearn's ghost stories + Polynesia + Skull Island, with samurai privateers and an untouchable caste of animist priests whose job it is to keep the giant monsters in line. Also goblin pirates. Here are some things the goblin pirates have:

1. Bluebottle Blunderbuss. A hessian sack full of stinging blue man-of-war hydrozoa (technically not jellyfish), crammed into the barrel of a lion's-mouth cannon and set off at close range to entangle you in sticky blue strands of raw agony. Sometimes blows up the cannon and splatters everyone in range with bits of poison tentacle.

2. Divine Dragon Engine. A battery of rocket-propelled fire arrows, all lit from a single fuse, designed to rain bushels of flaming death upon the decks of enemy ships. Wildly inaccurate but good for igniting sails and terrifying sailors. Goblins love these but everyone knows how to make them - countermeasures include armoured turtle ships, fireproof leather sails, bucket chains up the mast and appealing to the kodamas of the ship's wood for protection.

3. Porcupine Mine. Poisonous blowfish inflated to bursting point with lighter-than-air volcanic gasses. Brushing against their spines causes paralyzing seizures. Touching them with fire or squeezing them too tightly makes them explode, hurling spines everywhere. Can be tied to the ends of long poles as a boarding weapon, released in clouds to cover an escape, used in bundles as makeshift scouting balloons.

4. Silken Wings of War. Rocket-propelled triangular kites painted with tigers and skeletons. Goblins can travel over a mile in these, letting them board your ship from what you thought was a safe distance away. Obviously half of them crash into the sea or explode. Slower box-kites are used without the rockets to soar overhead, riding the wind, dropping sea-snakes and burning pitch down onto enemy decks.

5. Hunger Dust. Dried, concentrated goblin guano. Sprinkled on the ocean's surface, it attracts marine predators from miles around and drives them into a psychotic, cannibalistic feeding frenzy. Even in its unprocessed form the guano is an addictive stimulant - sharks, squid and leopard seals will follow a goblin ship for miles just to get a taste of it. It's also high in saltpeter and the goblins use it to make gunpowder.

6. Creaking Mockery. An overcrowded junk built of wood from a desecrated shrine, haunted by an angry minor god who is powerless to personally avenge this violation of taboo. Nature will usually punish those who break the laws of honour, but goblins are living insults to nature and can break all the laws they want without worrying about spiritual retribution. The angry god will bring thunderstorms and misfortune down on the heads of anyone who passes by the ship without making an active attempt to reclaim the shrine's wood and cleanse it.

7. Ghost Gun. A blunderbuss loaded with gravedust and bits of shattered tombstone. Anyone it wounds will be haunted by splinters of angry ghost until a priest ritually cleanses them. Goblins are immune.

8. Sting of Silent Death. A handheld whalebone drill threaded through with a tube of fishgut attached to a bladder of compressed, odourless gas - blackdamp, which silently suffocates, or firedamp, which explodes. Goblin divers bore though the hull of a ship and pump the lower decks full of gas, either killing half the crew in their sleep or turning the whole thing into a bomb that will go off the instant night falls and the first lantern is lit.

9. Firebats. Thousands of bats with small incendiary charges tied to their bellies. Released at night, will disperse far and wide across the ocean, looking for a place to rest before dawn. Half of them will try to return to the ship they were released from and must be shooed away. When the sun rises the charges go off and fires get started in hidden places. Effective in shipyards and against cities.

10. Beseecher of Heaven. A goblin carrying a long metal wire, wrapped in more metal wire, tied to a balloon. Grapples onto the top of the mast and does their best to attract lightning. You would think they'd only use these in thunderstorms, but you'd be wrong.


plus this

equals this