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.

Friday 20 March 2020

picture pong 4 (?)


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.


(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.