Wednesday 18 November 2020

d20 more anomalous media

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday 25 October 2020

kingsmouth locations

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

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

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

Sunday 18 October 2020

the black auction 3

 Dear ______,

Do not be alarmed. Events are proceeding as anticipated.

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

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

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

Monday 28 September 2020


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

Sunday 16 August 2020

the black auction 2

 Dear ______,

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

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

Sunday 26 July 2020

blazing kansas

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

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

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

Friday 22 May 2020

Space Prison From My Dream Last Night

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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:

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
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

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 

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


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

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.