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.