Friday, 31 July 2015

Cleric Rules I Stole From Last Gasp

This post was so heavily inspired by a Last Gasp thing I read the other day that I'm just going to start this with a huge quote:

There are still going to be mishaps ... it’ll be because their god doesn’t really understand what is appropriate. So if Roy’s snake worshipper Tipanius fudges a roll in the middle of combat and gets Inopportune Favour and falls to his knees vomiting an unending torrent of slick adult snakes, the Seven Serpents will be like, “Oh haha what, you didn’t want to give birth to a thousand snakes from your mouth right now? Haha whoops sorry love you xoxo.”

as Thanks for the inspiration Logan, and thanks g+ for giving me the tools I needed to spend like half an hour stalking the web to find that guy's name. Anyway.

This is just a cute photo of me.
pls put me in ur gam


Using my little Adventure Point system is cute and fun because it lets people give themselves a really limited pool of useful abilities with no real limitations on what those abilities are, and that's my favourite thing in rpgs. (There's a whole separate spiel here about how you should have very few spells used in combat because problem solving with a fireball is a lot more interesting than just shooting things with one, and spells should maybe actually just be interesting versions of a ten-foot pole. But I digress)

In being a system that promotes choice, the AP system should also have ways for you to sidestep the rules. The simple way to do this, by my eye, is to trade things for power. You really, really want that fifth spell after I told you you only had 4AP? Sure thing, but you earn your last AP by giving my your legs. Your horrible cripple character has earned a weird fifth variation of magic missile by giving up the ability to walk, and I like that about them.

A very mild twist on this is to have powers with their own limitations. I read a cool thing one time many years ago about huge lists of totally amazing powers, all of which only worked in highly specific circumstances. A charm spell with no saving throw that only works on redheads at midnight. Mass hold person that you can cast from first level, but only if you're standing in a field of barley and it's your birthday.

And then the Last Gasp thing got me thinking about clerics and how they'd make a good testbed for a catchall ruleset. Behold an example cleric.

Thassa. Godhead of Seas, Serpents, and Compound Words

Vassal of Thassa (3AP Psuedoclass)

A Vassal of Thassa may, as a standard action, call upon a miracle from their fishgirl godqueen. This miracle can be absolutely anything, from making an anchovy appear out of thin air to drowning the world in briny agony, as long as it's appropriate to their god. The DM will decide on a difficulty for the miracle, with an approximate guide below.
  • 0 for anchovies related activities, making a floor slick with seawater, finding nearest port
  • 1 for summoning a helpful, dogsized electric eel, making someone puke barnacles for a turn
  • 2 for capsizing small to medium sized vessel, raising fortifications of coral, drowning a target
  • 7 for bringing back someone recently drowned, causing a hamlet to fill with salt water and fish
  • 17 for producing a tidal wave, calling forth a leviathan, doing some amazing shit like that

Whenever the Vassal attempts to bring forth a miracle they roll a d20. If the result is higher than the difficulty of the miracle + their current Brine, it goes off fine. If the two numbers are equal, then the miracle goes of and there is a Terrible Occurrence. If the result is less there is only Terrible Occurrence and you can hear Thassa going 'wait y r u screaming??' in the background.

Regardless of what happens, the difficulty of the miracle is added to the Vassal's Brine. Brine may be reduced by 1 point a day with an appropriate act of worship, down to a minimum of 3. This minimum is also what it starts at at character gen, obviously. This means that you have a 15% chance of horrible failure even before you do anything interesting, which strikes me as a good tradeoff for really broad powers.

Speaking of horrible failure, roll on the table below to find out what happens. Maybe if you're nice you can base the die size of how much you rolled under by, or roll a d10 and add what you missed by. I ain't the boss of you.

Terrible Occurrences

  1. All your gold is sand now. On the bright side, all your sand is gold.
  2. Your stomach bulges uncomfortably. At midnight tonight you will birth a clutch of adorable baby crabs. They give you friendly nips with their claws as they climb out of you.
  3. All fires in the vicinity are extinguished by a mysterious salty wind. You can't make fire work for you, for any reason, for the next week.
  4. Start vomiting eels. Don't stop vomiting eels until you start to appreciate the feeling. That might take a while.
  5. Everything goes blurry as your blood is replaced with salt water. Pass out for a while, wake up very, very hungry.
  6. You are distracted by a passing swarm of beautiful jellyfish that are swimming through the air for definitely normal and friendly reasons. They totally aren't leading you off a cliff or anywhere dangerous like that.
  7. Your whole head starts to ache, doesn't stop until the skin of your forehead bursts like a pimple and a slimy, anglerfish-style lure curls out. Casts light as a candle. Is really distracting.
  8. Your left eye is a pearl now. Super valuable if you dig it out. Not so good for seeing out of, though.
  9. Barnacles sprout from your skin, tearing at the soft flesh under your arms and between your thighs. It hurts to move for the rest of your life.
  10. Coral polyps start shooting out of you like you're a broken gumball machine. Everybody makes a reflex save (except you you automatically fail hahaha) to avoid getting stuck in a new, incredibly heavy coral formation.
  11. Everyone in the party must help find and drown an innocent before the next full moon or you'll all start waking up drowned, guiltiest first.
  12. Your skin is stingers now. Anyone you touch gets painfully stung and must save v. convulsions. If they fail they save again v. death. There are no visible indicators of this.
  13. Whenever you get drunk again, for the rest of your life, you will without fail be pressganged and wake up chained to an oar. No amount of precautions can prevent this.
  14. Your blood is super delicious and even things that don't ordinarily smell that good can smell it from a mile away. Doubled in fresh water, tripled in salt.
  15. You are being stalked by a prehistoric monster than only you can see. You will not be able to convince anyone else that it exists under any circumstances. It will only strike when you are alone. Try not to be that.
  16. The skin of your neck ripples as new gills sprout. Your lungs shrivel up in your chest. You don't need those any more though, right? You should probably find some salt water. Quickly.
  17. There is a pufferfish in your stomach. You can feel it, circling around in there. Make no sudden moves.
  18. Everyone in 100' turns toward you, grinning. Their eyes are black. Their teeth are jagged and come in many rows. This includes the other PCs, who get a big old pile of bonus XP for each bite they take out of you. Once every scrap of your flesh has been consumed everyone goes back to normal and about their business as if nothing was wrong. You could cast another miracle to stop them all. It's going to be a hard one.
  19. Save vs death. On success, tiny fish start bleeding out of your pores. Take an appropriately debilitating amount of damage. On failure, your body convulses, your skin ruptures, you burst apart into a torrent of sea life that rapidly begins to rot away. You are super dead.
  20. Save vs death. On success, tiny fish start bleeding out of your pores. Take an appropriately debilitating amount of damage. On failure, your body convulses, your skin ruptures, you burst apart into a horror of the depths, unfolding impossibly from a too-small corpse. You are super dead and the new leviathan is hunting your friends.

First Impressions After Thinking About This For Like A Day

Hopefully this is a reasonably balanced set of general spellcaster rules that gives you a fun gambling minigame. Will you try to take out the ent in a single 5 Brine miracle, despite the fact that you already have 6 Brine? I mean what's the point of having these powers if you don't use them, right? Oh whoops you just turned a hard encounter into a TPK. lol.

So yeah, should give players a temptation to use magic until eventually they get a bad roll and succumb to the dark forces, in a way that nicely parallels the way I already think about succumbing to dark forces. As always, whether you use it or just think about it, tell me if it works!

Dark side, cookies, shit memes, etc

And if you were interested, my model for a d20 spell fuckup table is:

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Original Bandits Do Not Steal

"Write a bandit personality table" I says to Arnold. "Write your own durn bandit personality table" he says to me. "I ain't got no durn time to be writin' a bandit personality table for any durn gadabout who wants one."

So I did. All by myself with no help from anyone. Don't research these.

  1. Obese, incompetent, but not as incompetent as they seem. Boastful and cowardly. Much mocked and universally beloved. Gets out of crises by feigning death.
  2. Scion of noble and wealthy family frittering it away among the lower classes. Thinks they're better than everyone they meet and does not deign to conceal it. Will never understand how it feels to live their life with no meaning or control and with nowhere left to go.
  3. Thin, morose, talks about their problems. Keeps on talking about their problems. Won't stop talking about their problems. Won't ever do anything to solve their problems. Heir to some throne somewhere.
  4. Instantly your best friend. Super trustworthy. Always tells you exactly what they think, even if they know it's not what you want to hear, because they respect you just that much. Plotting to hurt you in some hideously cruel way for literally no reason.
  5. Old, rambling, white-haired, poor judge of character. Spends most of their time roaming the moors, yelling at the sky. Accompanied by jester. Kids are all dead, evil or both.
  6. Does not understand fun. Believes that wearing stupid clothes and pretending to smile will make people like them, is confused when this does not work.
  7. Gruff, military, possessed with ambition. Evil spouse constantly spurring them to ever-darker deeds. Foretold to die only under extremely specific conditions, thinks this makes them immortal, is underestimating amount of wiggle room in prophecy.
  8. Sneaks up on people while they sleep and applies chemicals to their eyelids. If caught, attempts to persuade people that they are just a dream and should not be criticized.
  9. Madly in love with a thirteen-year-old girl. Hangs around beneath her window all night, threatening to drink poison if she doesn't come away with them. Loathed by her family. Would lose interest the second she was no longer inaccessible.
  10. No hands. No tongue. Excellent cook.
  11. Sullen, brutish, resentful, looks a bit like a fish. Hates a wizard and constantly scheming to see him dead, but not very good at scheming so it never gets very far. Knows the territory like the back of their (web-fingered) hand.
  12. Hates humanity, especially that portion of humanity to whom they owe money. Lives in a cave. Pays whores to spread disease and rebels to attack the city.
  13. General exiled by spiteful aristocrats who roused the populace against them, working with old enemies to rob the city they once were sworn to defend. Will do anything their mother says.
  14. Paranoid and whimsical. Disdains children, distrusts oracles, treats friends as enemies but will change mind at drop of a hat. Cannot tell the difference between humans and statues.
  15. Actually twins, each of whom believe the other is dead. Keep crossing each other's path without realizing it.
  16. Rules lawyer. Obsessed with money. Makes bargains with very specific wording and will go to any lengths to ensure that you are held to them. Member of minority religious group against whom all of mainstream society is set, must struggle to assert even basic humanity in face of overwhelming prejudice. May or may not do all the evil things they are constantly accused of.
  17. Disguised duke running a test on promising young administrator by leaving the city in their hands and seeing what kind of weird new laws they pass. Plans to emerge at last minute to halt execution for trifling crime and seem a hero to all, thus crushing a potential rival while bolstering opinion polls.
  18. Has sworn off love in order to dedicate life to scholarship. Will fall in love with first remotely cute individual they see. All underlings in same predicament.
  19. Physically deformed. Extremely good at playing the victim. Has legion of murderers at beck and call, first instinct in any situation is to dispatch one. Haunted by ghosts of people they've had killed. Places great value on horses.
  20. Likes to cross-dress. Romps around the forest orchestrating mass weddings.
  1. Thou long-staff sixpenny striker
  2. Thou mad moustachio purple-hued malt-worm
  3. Thou whoreson caterpillar
  4. Thou bacon-fed knave
  5. Thou obscene greasy tallow-keech
  6. Thou sanguine coward
  7. Thou horse-back-breaker
  8. Thou huge hill of flesh
  9. Thou dried neat's-tongue
  10. Thou trunk of humours
  11. Thou bolting-hutch of beastliness
  12. Thou swollen parcel of dropsies
  13. Thou bombard of sack
  14. Thou roasted Manningtree ox with the pudding in thy belly
  15. Thou villainous abominable misleader of youth
  16. Thou old white-bearded Satan
  17. Thou son of utter darkness
  18. Thou sneak-cup
  19. Thou soused gurnet
  20. Thou veriest varlet that ever chewed with a tooth

Wednesday, 29 July 2015


The trick to making a silly idea work is to take it completely seriously and see what happens.

One of my players decided to be a cleric and I was like "what god do you worship" and they were like "Sugor, the sugar god". Pronounced soo-gore. He demands tributes of sugar from every corner of the world. I have decided he employs a caste of heavily moustachioed dwarven confectioner-architects to make temples out of it. They all have ancient hereditary totem-aprons and spirit whisks and things. It's a prestige class maybe.

Of course you'd worship sugar. You live in a medieval society, it's incredibly rare and your body is programmed to crave it. The demand for sugar drove colonial endeavours in every corner of the world. Imagine being offered a chunk of raw cane sugar and having never tasted it before. It would blow your fucking mind. You would have no idea what you were dealing with, you would be pretty sure the gods sent it just to fuck with you.

Sucropolis looks like this -

- except made from sugar, which the White Temple of Chiang Rai presumably is not. You are strictly forbidden from just snapping bits off and eating them as you walk around. That privilege is reserved for the high priests, who are all obese, toothless, slowly rotting from the inside and inclined to plunge into hallucinogenic comas. They run the city. It works out super well for all concerned.

Since the ruling caste are big fat guys, I have crab men running about and it's all vaguely south-east Asian I'm reading through Yoon-Suin to see what else I can squeeze in there. Hungry ghosts maybe. They're big on castes. I think they take samples of your blood at birth and assign you a job based on some pseudo-scientific nonsense about how much sugar you have in there and what kind it is. There's a law stating that any building not made of sugar can be no more than one story tall. Giant ants are a perennial nuisance. The dwarves have a city over the eastern mountains called Sherbetabad. The respected dead are preserved in glass coffins filled with syrup. Cultists of the Bitter Heresy are loathed as enemies of all that is good and right and sweet. Most people are just peasants and get on with their lives and don't think about it too much. They farm barley and coffee, not sugarcane. It's all grown and refined in the Goblin Marches, which makes sense because goblins are notoriously steampunk and refineries are steampunk as shit.

I'm going to send the players to an abandoned and collapsing temple under siege by ants with orders to get a priceless relic out before the rains come over and the whole thing disintegrates. Which usually doesn't happen because *thinks furiously* the ancestor spirits protect it, I guess? Or maybe it's a chemical secret of the dwarves. But I like the idea that the spirits have fled because the temple has been desecrated by acid-worshipping Bittermen in league with the ants.

There are two factions of dwarves - crystalline and amorphous. Amorphists believe in alloying the sugar with butter, fat, oil and citrus, for a smoother and more malleable product. Crystallists believe that it is abominable to adulterate the pure sucrose with any lesser substance. They intrigue against each other endlessly. The players are unwitting pawns in their game. My secret mission is to see if I can get them to actually take any of this seriously.

Friday, 24 July 2015

saturday game

Trying to figure out what the minimum amount of work I can do for this Saturday game is. Want people to enjoy the game but can only reasonably expect them to take it so seriously. Also if I call a character "Gobespierre" there is a very real chance that Sven will flip the table.

So here's a map:

I cannot believe we've just been drawing maps this whole time like a bunch of fucking plebs. LRN 2 HISTROY GUYS. Anyway. This is a coastal goblin fortress. The players - a crabman bard, a dwelf (half dwarf half elf) cleric and a human (probably) negapaladin - are sugar traders on the Silicon Sea who were lured by false lights onto the rocks of an uncharted island and awaken face down in a bunch of shallow graves. Goblins are extremely bad at telling when things that are not goblins are alive or dead.

  • None of the PCs have a very clear memory of the shipwreck. The dwelf has a carnelian scarab-shaped amulet in his pocket. He doesn't know where it came from.
  • They awaken in the Burying Ground, obviously. The soil is full of bones and bits of corpse. Not all were put there by the goblins. Some are thousands of years old.
  • The kiln is an ancient black ziggurat that the goblins have converted into a crematorium. Ancient bones are fed into the hole at top along with pieces of smouldering charcoal, goblin guano and raw sugar. The shaft narrows as it gets deeper and there is a chamber in the base into which a viscous black liquid - "corpse honey" - slowly drips. A couple of goblins can always be found on top of the pyramid, stirring and pressing the mixture.
  • The gun battery is a gun battery. Most of this stuff is just exactly what it says it is. That includes the arsenal + bakehouse.
  • What's left of the PCs' boat is being kept in the harbour. To get to the harbour you either have to cross the pond (which is full of vicious sand dolphins), go around the rocks to the north (same deal with the sand dolphins) or persuade the guards at the Brouillan Battalion to let you in across the moat. They can be bribed with corpse honey, which is a goblin delicacy. They can point you in the general direction of any other NPC.
  • The harbour chain can only be lifted by the goblin princess, her vizier or her sergeant-at-arms. Goblins are like bees - queens, drones, larvae, royal jelly, you know the drill. This goblin princess has taken a bunch of followers and gone off to found a new hive.
  • The chain is drawn back with a giant iron wheel up on the Spar that it takes forty goblins, or one ogre, to man. The only ogre on the island is currently asleep in the Bastion Pond. He has one eye and is named Grumpus. It would take a bucket of water to take him and water on the Silicon Sea is incredibly scarce. The sergeant-at-arms cannot currently spare forty goblins.
  • The princess can be found in the King's Bastion. She is paranoid because she thinks the Red Pharaoh is about to launch an attack against her in protest at the desecration of his ancestor's bones. She won't open the boom chain until she is satisfied that this is not going to happen.
  • The vizier is a skinny, goateed, Rincewind-ish human who has found his true calling being vizier to a bunch of shitty goblins. He is madly in love with the goblin princess.
  • The sergeant-at-arms can be found bossing troops around on the parade ground. He is eternally frustrated at the inability of goblins to understand the concept of "formation".
  • The mother superior of the goblin nunnery is secretly a vampire and an agent of the Red Pharaoh. This is why her wimple is so... wimple-y.
  • The head baker can do amazing things with corpse honey, which is hilariously flammable. He has an excellent moustache that he is very proud of.
  • A cockatrice wallows in the sandpond to the south, near the Prince's Bastion. The many marble statues of goblins flanking the pond testify to their inability to tame this foul creature, as well as their enduring fascination with it.
  • A surveillance balloon flies high above the fortress. Two more are tethered on the flat piece of land that is apparently the Queen's Bastion. All are made of inflated toads, one of which was the mother of the cockatrice, which as everyone knows is what you get when a chicken's egg is incubated by a toad. God knows where the goblins got a chicken's egg.
  • The sergeant-at-arms hates the cockatrice and would like to see it dead, but the princess has expressly forbidden this because she finds it hilarious.
  • The sands of the Silicon Sea come in many colours and a good navigator knows how to read them all.
  • The Red Pharaoh's skeletal legions will attack at sunset to evade the piercing rays of their heavenly tormentor. The sands will turn blood red to presage their coming.
  • The Red Pharaoh has transformed himself into a carnelian scarab-shaped amulet and used his will-o-the-wisp aides-de-camp to lure the PCs onto the rocks, whereupon he secreted himself in one of their pockets. When the sun sets he will assume his true form.
  • It is now about midday. Every time you do something an hour passes.
d6 encounter table for goblin colonial fortress:
  1. 1d4 goblin musketeers + sergeant
  2. 1d4 goblin nuns
  3. 1d4 giant cane toads + toadmeister
  4. 1d4 canecutters on break
  5. 1d4 bakers juggling combat muffins
  6. Important NPC out for a walk
Pictures of stuff:
goblin musketeer
tomb-barge of the red pharaoh
silicon sea
Final thoughts - I should make a whole game about 18th-century colonialism, that'd be sick. Like the PCs are voyageurs in Acadia or something.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Random Encounters on the Silicon Sea

Guy in the game I'm running this weekend wants a sand ocean. Here is that sand ocean. Some of this comes from my friends because my friends are secret geniuses.
  1. Pod of evil sand dolphins. Live on sugar and blood. Fiendishly intelligent. Can jump to incredible heights, knock people off boats like the last scene of Piranha. Music soothes them, especially the haunting elegies of the crab people.
  2. Trading convoy running oil and fireworks to the goblin marches where they will trade them to the goblin queen for delicious goblin sugar. Heavily guarded. Captain one-eyed, jittery, sees goblin agents everywhere. First mate a goblin agent.
  3. War-confectioners from the temple-city of Sucropolis in hot pursuit of a thrashing sandwhale, brandishing candycane harpoons.
  4. Goblin pirates in balloon made from inflated pig. Equipped with spiked telescopes, cherry bombs that they will drop from height. Slow and vulnerable to strong winds, exploding.
  5. Spotted by a lake drake. All you see is a couple of frightened sand-otters, plowing though the sand and leaping into the boat, while a shadow briefly flickers across the sun. Lake drake has dusty blue underside, camouflaged against sky. Will attack next time you get into any serious trouble or otherwise show weakness.
  6. Very tip-top of black pyramid now sunken beneath the sand. Investigation reveals entrance into random Zelda minidungeon.
  7. Mummies paddling life-sarcophagus, refugees from sunken tomb-barge ferrying dead to final resting-place in the Sunset Lands to the west.
  8. Silicon serpent. Like a fistful of optical fibres with points of light at the end. Feeds on vision. Will try to abduct someone, drag it back to nest in rocky outcrop then drink and digest their sight over a period of days before letting them go, blind but otherwise unharmed.
  9. Floating jungle island harbouring goblin anarchists, rebels against the iron-fisted rule of the goblin queen. They all wear tricorn hats. They can supply you with a navigator that will take you to the Driftwood Citadel of the President of the Goblin Republic, Gobespierre
  10. Skeleton ambassador from the Sunset Lands on secret mission to the Driftwood Citadel. Under orders to offer Gobespierre the support of the Red Pharaoh, but stymied by the fact that she can't find the bastard.
  11. Poor, innocent sand-manatee being bullied by evil dolphin arseholes. Anyone within a mile radius that isn't a total cunt must save on hearing manatee-song, seeing manatee, thinking about manatee, else be completely overcome for a turn with the haunting, melancholy refrains of manatee agony.
  12. Anti-mirage. Looks like another boring patch of sand until you're run aground/drowning at which point you suddenly realise that it was all an illusion. You're now surrounded by tranquility and abundancy but your boat is totally fucked up.
  13. Your favourite thing just got stolen by a sand dolphin. It got about half a mile into a maze of Sarlaccs before getting eaten. Is it worth edging your way through the maze and figuring out how to get shit out of Sarlaccs?? It better be, or this encounter fucking sucks.
  14. Envoy of the goblin queen's not-quite-finest sailors attack you for even thinking of stealing their precious rock. Totally ridiculous; you don't have a clue what their precious rock is and besides it'S yOUR RoCK HOw DARE TheY ATtEMPt To ClAiM iT KILL ThEM KILL THEm ALL.
  15. Acrid fumes vent from the ten dozen chimneys climbing the side of a small mountain. Congenial skeleton alchemists run this sulfur mine, and would happily grant you an experimental jawbreaker cannon if you could just clear out the mild corpsegrinder infestation.
  16. Crab people at local oasis are hosting a birthday party and a funeral at the same time, as per tradition. Causing a scene at the funeral would be incredibly rude. Failing to attend the party would be ruder. You can't figure out which one is which.
  17. Tomb-barge is on a cruise of the highlights of the silicon sea. The undead crew mistakes you for lost passengers, attempt to sink your boat and drag you to your rooms. They politely nod and smile as you insist that you're still alive, make patronising jokes about you with the other mummies.
  18. Group of shit assassins sent by goblin queen to hunt down Gobespierre. Won't stop saying "Oh man, anarchy, hey? Can't get enough of it! Yep! We all just totally love anarchy!!" One of their number is actually a really good assassin, hoping to get an in when this group gets captured.
  19. Ankheg circus. Ankhegs jumping through hoops, balancing on balls, failing to totally murder every one in the vicinity. All very impressive. Ringmaster planning arson for insurance money.
  20. Wizard with little foresight has just invented the self-replicating transistor. The surrounding few miles of sand are rapidly evolving into a series of bizarre alien intelligences.
gis delivers once again
edited to reflect the fact that there are no fish in the silicon sea. WHAT WOULD THEY BREATHE

Saturday, 18 July 2015

The Golden Eyes of Shahr-e Sukhteh

A Golden Eye of Shahr-e Sukhteh is a ball of rubbery pitch, covered with a thin layer of gold and engraved with a circle (for the iris) and a pattern of lines that represent the rays of the sun. Tiny holes are drilled on both sides. To wear the eye you have to have more tiny holes drilled into the bones of your eye socket so that somebody can get a needle and golden thread and actually sew it in.
this is a .gif, for some reason i don't fully understand

All of this is true. (Well, I'm not an archeologist, it's an obscure thing that somebody got very excited about on Wikipedia). What is not true, but might be cool maybe is the following:

  • About a third of all people who get the surgery also get an infection and die (okay this might be true).
  • The first stage of the surgery doesn't get you anything but a good story and a cool false eye.
  • The second stage of the surgery also involves the surgeon shaving your head and making a couple of small holes in your skull, allowing your brain to make contact with the open air. Salt is offered and bells are rung to attract curious spirits, who will see the hole in your head and not be able to resist exploring it. Your head is then coated with pitch, sealing the spirits into your skull. Your golden eye will be able to see spirits, sometimes. You will also have occasional glimpses of the future, which is exciting. You have to wear the pitch cap forever.
  • The third stage of the surgery involves the surgeon inserting a long thin copper rod into the small hole in your skull before sealing it shut. The copper rod pokes out of your skull and can be used to stir up the spirits. If it's touched you have a brief, horrific vision of the future. If electricity is run through it you have a sustained, horrific vision of the future. They are always horrific and always 100% true.
  • The people of the Burnt City have a kind of clay jar containing copper and iron electrodes that creates electricity when it is filled with vinegar.
  • The Burnt City is called that because it will one day be destroyed by fire. The gates to the city will be barred from outside, the rivers will be dammed and everyone in it will perish in pain and anarchy. Nobody knows when this is going to happen. Currently it is a wealthy trading hub that specializes in the production of board games, ivory, dice and caraway seeds.
  • Children's skulls aren't as hard as the skulls of adults, so spirits find it easier to get in and out. This is why children are all mad.
  • If you bind a baby's head to a flat board then its skull will grow into a different shape (this is true). Since the mind, like water, takes on the shape of its container, if you shape it right your baby will grow up to be a great leader and capable of brilliant insight. But if you shape it wrong your baby will be a coward and a fool.
  • Most experienced surgeons are also experts in headshaping and command enormous prices for it. The eye thing is just a sideline for them, most frequently done on commission for a king who wants a soothsayer, and they won't just do it for free. A less experienced surgeon is cheaper, obviously, but also worse at mitigating infection.
  • If a high-profile child grows up to be a disgrace then the surgeon who shaped her head is also disgraced. They might still be great at mitigating infection, however. They're sometimes sought out by poor families who want their kids to have a chance.
  • If a baby's head is shaped just right, the holes are made large enough and enough sacrifices are made, the surgeon might be able to attract and trap a daeva. This spirit is very powerful and very finicky. It must find the head aesthetically pleasing and the thoughts within must be of sufficient quality (which are the same for a daeva). Having a daeva in your head makes you a mighty sorcerer, capable of seeing across all time and space and summoning creatures to you from the far depths of the universe, but having this portable Aleph makes you disengaged from the cares of the everyday world. In addition, if it is not punished through the application of electricity, the daeva will resent its captivity and try to drive you mad so you will dash your skull open and let it go.
  • If you die with a spirit in your skull the spirit is still trapped in your skull and will not be set free until someone breaks the skull, which may take thousands of years. Most spirits will go mad if left underground, among the ruins of a burnt city, for thousands of years. Which is why all the visions of the future are horrific.

Friday, 10 July 2015

The Many Hobbies of the Peacock King

Did you guys know you can just take maps from the internet and add numbers to them and the maps are yours forever?

This is not a sketch of the interior of the Gur-Emir mausoleum in Samarkand, home to the jade sarcophagus of Tamerlane, from a six-volume photographic survey commissioned by Konstantin von Kaufman, Russian governor-general of Turkestan, in the early 1870s. Although that would be a cool thing for it to be! But it is not that and is, in fact, another thing.

1. Entrance hall. An skeleton in a tailcoat and pinstripe trousers, his bones coated in ash, will offer to take your jackets. If you allow him to do this he will scurry off with them and hurl them into the small incinerator in 4. Then he will come back and ask for the rest of your clothes. If you clean the ash from his bones the ritual animating him will break and he will die. He is very persistent and knows a lot about the palace, including the secret of the incinerator, but can only be made to spill the beans if you threaten the peacocks, his charges. He understands you perfectly but has no tongue and can only read and write in cuneiform, which he will scratch onto the ground with a single bony finger. He has a library chip (see 5.) rattling around in his skull.

2. Gardens. Blood-drinking sacred peacocks patrol the grounds. Anyone who sees their fanned tails must save or be compelled to worship the peacocks, slicing open their veins and allowing the peacocks to drink until they are sated (which usually takes about 1d8 hp worth of blood). One of these is worth a small fortune if you can extricate it from the palace, though you might accidentally start a new religion in the process. The first false princeling, a doppelganger created from the substance of Tawus-Shah, the Peacock King, can also be found here, petting the peacocks. Pale, androgynous and clad in the finest and sparsest silks, the fact that he is immune to the peacocks' effect is the only obvious difference between him and the real princeling.

3. Buzkashi grounds. Several dozen horse-mounted players clad in only whips, spiked turbans and boots are busily engaged in dragging a headless, sandpacked goat carcass from one end of the field to the other. The blue team (as indicated by turban colour) is currently winning. Fist-size turquoise carvings of lions adorn the goalposts. The princeling's bodyguard, an enormous albino, is hanging half-starved in a cage in the centre of the field - the players are competing to see who gets to eat her, albino flesh being a prized delicacy among their people. She knows that the Peacock King has created three false princelings and that none of them will burn or suffer if exposed to flame, but she does not know where the real one is. She is consumed with shame over letting him get kidnapped. She doesn't know he went with the Peacock King voluntarily.

4. Incinerator. Discrete cubicle about the size of a bathroom stall, smooth-walled clay shaft dropping down into pit of roaring green flame, eerie and soundless. Anything consumed by this flame will appear unblemished, whole and perfectly hairless, in room 11.

5. Library. The second false princeling is here, browsing the scrolls, which are written in an assortment of dead languages (requiring translation by an expert) and have all been salvaged from libraries long thought burnt. The princeling is wearing leather gloves, which he will claim is to protect the scrolls from finger-oil but is in fact because his touch will char and shrivel the paper. If you are looking for a specific scroll he will happily guide you to it, though he has only a limited grasp of the languages and will often get stuff wrong. He will make no attempt to prevent you from touching the pages with your own bare hands. Any attempt to remove anything from the room, whether it be a scroll, an urn, a fleck of dust, a dropped coin or a princeling, will awaken the obsidian gargoyle who perches above the door and who vomits blue bloodfreezing antimagma, which will preserve you in stasis until the Peacock King comes to get you. Random scroll contents include:
  • agricultural treatise
  • spurious travellers' tales
  • epic poem documenting forgotten war
  • compilation of lewd gossip about important figures of dead society
  • erotic odyssey
  • natural history
  • openly partisan political chronicle
  • bad military advice
  • dry diplomatic missives from one extinct culture to another
  • strategy guide to Hundred Worries, the game everyone is playing in 8. 
  • complete explanation of how to be happy
  • periplus - list of ports and coastal landmarks, in order, along a distant shore
  • golem creation instructions, will result in sad, confused monster who doesn't understand modern world
  • cookbook w/ recipe for peacock stuffing
  • catalogue of ancient curses
All are valuable to the right research wizard or historian.

6. Anti-art gallery. The Peacock King despises perspective and has, in the four rooms of this corridor, abolished it. Anything in any one of the rooms appears the same size to anyone in any of the other rooms. Anyone can step instantly to any of the rooms from any other. Anyone in any one of the rooms can make a melee attack against anyone in any other room and can pass things back and forth, etc. It's all very confusing. Within the rooms you move around as normal, you can't step from one corner to another but only in between them. The walls are inscribed with complex geometrical patterns that seem to come alive if you look at them for long enough, though they don't. Two nomad-philosophers in spiked turbans and boots are taking a break from buzkashi to study the walls at length, happy to chat about what the hell's going on. They know there is a secret room and that to get there you have to "destroy yourself and be reborn". They also know a lot about sacred mathematics. Any objects of pure art brought into the gallery will, after a round has passed, come alive and try to attack anyone who commits the sin of looking at it. This will break the curse on the culture hero in 9., but only for as long as he stays in the gallery.

7. Smoking room. To the north is a kitchen and pantry, to the east is a long dining-hall with a table running down the middle. Low comfortable couches everywhere. Miniatures on shaded walls of attractive nude youths, gold leaf around edge of paper probably worth something. In the centre of the smoking-room stands an ornate glass hookah twice the size of a man being puffed away at merrily by a couple of sleepy nomads (does not count as an art object for purposes of 6., since it has another function). One of the nomads is holding a scroll from the library and has in her left boot a chip of obsidian with the cuneiform for "debtor" on it. This is a library chip. It will allow you to borrow up to three scrolls out of the library without angering the gargoyle, but you will first have to pay off the nomad's late fees, which are calculable at a single human tooth/day. The scroll is currently three days overdue and is a guide to hydraulic engineering. The skeleton butler comes by every couple of hours to add coal to the hookah and hand around glasses of orange sherbet. Anyone smoking the hookah for more than a couple of minutes will go into a light trance, possibly falling over and hurting themselves, and awaken 2d6 hours later with vague memories of wandering the bowels of a vast ziggurat and being spoken to earnestly by a lammasu. For 4d6 minutes after they wake up they will find themselves able to comprehend all dead languages and no living ones. Every subsequent time they smoke the hookah, the effect lasts twice as long and they become more compelled to do the bidding of ancient gods. The dining table is set for a great feast and a skeleton chef labours in the kitchen, putting the finishing touches on the stuffed sacred peacock that will be its centrepiece. Other dishes include olive, hummus, halvah and albino-flesh kebabs.

8. Gaming courtyard. Open to the sunlight. Hexagonal stand in the middle manned by skeleton barista dispenses thimble-sized cups of insanely strong honey-scented coffee to extremely old people who lounge on cushions playing a kind of tile-based three-player strategy game called Hundred Worries. The board is five-sided, the rules are simple but hard to master, the game is designed to create situations where two people gang up against a third. There can only be one victor. It gets political. The Peacock King will grant a wish to anyone who wins a game that he plays in (which is to say, doesn't come second) but if you play a game with him and you don't win he will not allow you to leave the courtyard until you do. Reigning champion has paid off skeleton barista to serve his opponents decaf, crippling their game, could plausibly be blackmailed about this. Knows that the Peacock King has a treasure chamber somewhere in the palace that "only the foolish can enter, only the wise can leave".

9. Baths. Hook by door for hanging turbans on, racks for keeping boots. If searched one boot will yield three gold coins!! The boots themselves are probably more valuable than that. Another has a library chip in it. Western room filled w/ pools of extremely cold water, tiny arctic shrimp that nibble dirt from skin and leave you rejuvenated. Marble fountain in room's centre of strongman wrestling serpents is actually ancient culture hero locked in time by divine curse, serpents are later addition, water run through pipes in their bodies is cooled by excess stasis energy from curse and fed into pools. Eastern room pressure-locked (doors open inwards), currently filled with flesh-meltingly hot steam. Third false princeling can be seen through glass panels from outside, apparently enjoying himself. Nomads lounge in cold pools, bickering and reciting poetry, irritated that the princeling is taking up the sauna but too afraid of steam (and the wrath of the Peacock King) to do anything about it. The tunnel that usually vents steam outside the palace is currently blocked off, magnifying the heat in the room tenfold. Very thin woman in central bath is trusted advisor of the Peacock King, knows that he despises most of the nomads and would never allow the real princeling to be exposed to their covetous gazes, will provide useful advice if you can get the fake out of the sauna. It's her library chip in the boot. She knows that it will allow you to leave the treasure chamber but has no idea how to get in.

10. Bedroom and harem. Pillows, giant mirrors, beautiful pale boys with scars on their inner arms from feeding the bloodstained albino sacred peacock that wanders the room and that they treat as a beloved pet. Skeleton playing the zither unobtrusively in the corner. Floor descends in steps like inverted ziggurat, air gets hotter and hotter as you descend. Curtains of white silk, illuminated from with, part to reveal huge clay-walled firepit set into floor, dangerously bright, flames leaping into air. The Peacock King is grappling in his vast blue hands the ash-coated bones of his most recent lover, mourning his own insatiability and trying to put the boy back together. Every so often the skeleton butler will bring in a cartload of coal and refuel the fire, which will kill the Peacock King if it ever goes out. The Peacock King usually appears as a huge blue jolly naked fat man in a fez. He can be any size, take any shape and appear anywhere in the palace at any time. He can create servants from his own substance but is limited to three or four at a time. He will burn anything he touches. The skeletons of people he kills in this way are bound to serve him. They feel the same way towards him that they did in life - all the ones you will meet in the palace are former lovers of his who still feel tremendous affection for him. An iron grate in the firepit opens onto a tunnel that leads to 11. If the Peacock King dies everything in the palace except for the nomads and the real princeling will crumble to ash over the space of twenty minutes.

11. Treasure chamber. The real princeling is being kept here among huge piles of gold and jewels. The Peacock King promised that it would be a matter of days at most before he figured out a way for them to consummate their love without anyone getting turned into a skeleton. This was weeks ago. He's since been denied the liberty of the grounds and meals are becoming increasingly erratic. He's not aware that the Peacock King is consoling himself with flame-duplicates of his beauty, a practice basically akin to masturbation. He holds no real grudge against the Peacock King and mostly feels sorry for him, but also he would very much welcome rescue. A trapdoor in the floor leads to the firepit in 10. An obsidian sarcophagus against the north wall will transport a single person to the library if the door is closed on them while they are holding a library chip. The centrepiece of the Peacock King's hoard is an enormous golden statue of a lammasu that whispers in dead languages, creeping the princeling the fuck out and causing him to doubt his sanity (he's been alone and hungry for a while now). It is actually the ancient god who cursed the culture hero in 9. It will ask you (in a dead language) to sacrifice an albino to it. If you do it will break down the wall to 10. and try to kill the Peacock King for imprisoning it millennia ago.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Smokeless Fire

In the absence of heat, of light, of fuel, they hibernate. Like those Alaskan frogs that can tolerate being frozen. Like Encino Man. Like Siberian mammoths or mosquitos in amber, waiting to be cloned. They take no shape during hibernation - they are an instant of preserved potential, something permanently about to happen, a bowstring trapped in the moment before it is released. They are coded to a particular location but they are invisible and immaterial until they are supplied with energy and form.

An ancient brass lamp still filled with cold black oil, awaiting a flame. A dusty furnace heaped with coal by some forgotten hand. Biomass heaped in a rainforest gully, still gently smouldering, six months after the last fire. An anvil-shaped cloud bulking over a shadowed plain, dry wind promising thunder. An underground fountain of natural gas. The grinding tension of tectonic plates poised against each other with unimaginable pressure. The brush of solar wind against the upper atmosphere, inciting atoms into an ionic frenzy.

You light the lamp. You spark the furnace. You stir up the leaf-litter and let oxygen in.

They have no true forms, find the idea ridiculous and a little insulting. They have learnt to take human forms, to pass among you. To camouflage themselves. To appear friendly. But they do not interact with light the same way you do. They are luminous photonegatives, cold colours lit from inside.

The laws of physics mean something to them but not the same thing as they do to you. They are bound by fuel and magnetism but not shape or gravity. Their touch does to reality what a cigarette butt does to a strip of film. They can make anything you want out of their own substance as long as you don't expect it to last more than a day or so, more if you feed it, less if it gets cold. They can liberate your consciousness from your skull and take you on a tour of the globe, riding the geomagnetic currents above the earth, bargaining for passage with their nomadic brethren in the exosphere, towing the energy lattice of your soul behind them like a child's balloon. They have strict codes of hospitality and lie all the time. They can be bound by anyone who controls their fuel supply and will happily grant favours to anyone who can help them achieve their goals. Their skin burns you. The gold they pay you in crumbles to ash.

They are building their own universe out of pieces of ours.

There are two kinds of people. Us, the people of clay. Them, the people of smokeless fire. Also the angels, who are technically the people of light, but they don't have free will so they don't count.

There are two competing visions of the world. One high-energy, one low-energy. One where motion is the default and rest is the exception, one vice versa. One where the constant transmutation of matter is necessary for the perpetuation of life and where anything remaining the same for more than a second is frostbite and corrosive death. And one which is the opposite.

At the beginning of time we fought with them to see whose vision of the world would predominate. The angels took our side. We won. They resent us. They want to eat our cities.

Whenever a palace burns, a witch, a jungle, a painting, a prophet - anything interesting or beautiful or which just happens to strike their fancy - it is taken through to the universe of the Sibli. Their universe is small but growing. Chrome deserts. Citadels of ash. Ghost peacocks. Veiled dancers flickering between wavelengths in the nuclear shadows.

You can survive in the universe of the Sibli, just as they have been surviving in yours since the beginning of time. You will create a zone of stability around yourself. You will not understand most of what you see and destroy most of what you come into contact with. You will walk on the ceiling and freeze everything you touch. You can free their hostages, reclaim the burnt treasures of eradicated civilizations. You can speak with martyrs and the centuries-dead.

The Sibli are not evil. They are doing this out of desperation. Our universe is toxic to them. They have nowhere else to go.

They are fighting a guerrilla war against reality itself. If they are not stopped everything you love will burn.

(loosely based on Arnold K.'s rant about fire elementals, which you can find here.)

Saturday, 4 July 2015

Comanche Hexcrawl

Loosely based on Patrick Stuart's SAVAGES. Except I wouldn't call a game where you play as Native Americans SAVAGES. Seems like a bad idea.

You can ride three hexes in a day. You are a warband. There are three or four of you. Your home base is your band, it moves around the map just like you do except in a semi-random way and slower. It spawns other warbands more or less constantly but most of these are not kept track of. There are other bands on the map, they are your allies unless they have some special reason not to be.

There's a few things moving around the map for the GM (Great Mystery) to keep secret track of. Every time a day passes she tallies it up. Bands move two hexes a day, wagon trains one. Trains five a day if the tracks are intact. Train engineers riding out on horseback, two. You could get pretty deep with this but as soon as you start wishing you had a computer to keep track of it you should stop.

The middle of the map is yours. There's little there but bison and the occasional cannibal owl. The edge of the map is also yours but periodically your enemies will seize control of hexes along it. Different factions along different edges - the Pueblo and Navajo to the west, the Mexicans and Apaches to the south, the Texans and Tonkawas to the east, the Pawnees and Osages to the north. Also the occasional French fur trader. Each one of these will in a semi-random manner establish settlements on your territory. If you leave these settlements alone they will grow into towns. If you leave them alone some more they will grow into cities. Different factions do different things - the Texans build forts, the Pueblo all live atop well-fortified mesas, the Mexicans try to convert you, the Tonkawas will fucking eat you, etc. (everyone seems to fucking hate the Tonkawas. Sorry Tonkawas! I don't mind that you used to eat people, I think that that is a rational use of resources).

If you raid the settlements you can take their stuff. If you wait and let them grow into towns you can trade with the townspeople for even more stuff. In either case you can then take the stuff to the other side of the map and sell it for even even more, because you run a transcontinental trading empire that Eurocentric historians will do a splendid job of completely overlooking. If some of the stuff happens to be guns and horses you can use that stuff to raid more and larger settlements. You can just catch horses on the plains also because there's a shitload of wild ones. And you can hunt buffalo and make bows out of their sinews and shields out of their hides. Can't farm guns though. Sorry Comanches.

Anyway there's a obvious feedback loop here and it culminates in you becoming the wealthiest band in your band and getting ten thousand warriors together and driving your enemies back into the sea. Which almost happened a couple of times.There'd be a few different currencies to keep track of, like meat, horses, grain (need those carbohydrates), hides, slaves (to tan the hides), guns, powder, etc. Also respect, which is probably XP. You get it by raiding and by trading (though less so) and by completing missions and hunting buffalo and stealing people's horses and torturing your enemies to death, unless you want to skip that part because you are not thirteen years old. I would also import a "counting coup" system where you get respect for performing specific battlefield stunts like touching an enemy without killing them even though I don't think it was actually a Comanche thing at all.

You're not actually playing Comanches, you're playing fantasy fake Comanches who can use magic and don't have strict gender roles. You don't get to choose your own name, you are given a name based on how much respect you have. Really cool people will be Rides-The-Thunder and people who everyone hates will be Farts-Wetly. Political power is tied directly to how much respect you have. There are no political institutions so everyone just tags along w/ whoever they like the most, and you can always buy respect by giving away slaves and horses and other forms of wealth, so it tends to be tied to that as well. I suppose this doesn't allow for a chief to be called Farts-Wetly, which is a missed opportunity but w/e. You would probably also need a computer to keep track of this, but there's a reason I'm just summarizing a system in a blog post and not actually designing it.

All combat is mounted. You would need a better system for mounted combat than any I currently know about. I'm thinking it's a sort of 4th-edition miniature-y chess-y sort of thing, except on a hexmap and you use that Diplomacy mechanic where everyone writes down their moves in secret and reveals them. You're always facing the opposite side of the hex to the one you entered it on and that side with the two sides adjacent to it count as Forward. It costs a movement point to go Forward and a movement point to turn around so you're facing another side. You get movement points equal to your speed, which is also the amount of hexes you can travel in a day, you and your enemies secretly spend them to do stuff. You can attack your enemies by riding into their square from behind. You can also fire arrows somehow, you can spend points to do other cool manoeuvres. Maybe you can spend a point to save a point so you don't have to use it until everybody else has revealed their moves. Stealth and sneak attacks are also important and everybody gets them. Or maybe something not even like that at all I don't know!!!. Standard disclaimer about needing a computer to keep track of it.

Not being mounted means you can move, like, once every two turns and just fucks you completely.

I don't know about classes. Pretty sure the Comanches only ever needed one type of warrior. If I were actually designing this I would figure out an actually viable combat system and work backward from there. Everyone needs to be combat-viable, the players are expected to do all diplomacy themselves. I like the mechanic where your spells have a secret list of failure conditions and if you fuck up too publicly you lose respect, I would probably have a wizard class based around that. Wizards are also warriors but maybe they have less movement and they lose out on bonus feats or something. Maybe movement points are also like mana points and it's just a single pool that everyone draws from and some classes get more movement but less abilities to use them on.


You have these empires encroaching on your borders and you profit from their presence; they're the guys who gave you horses and made all this possible in the first place. Ultimately you do want to drive them into the sea and take over the continent, but they have a few advantages over you:

They can inhabit mountains and mesas and islands and other places where your horses cannot go. In these places you lose all your movement points and they keep their powers because their powers don't rely on movement points.

They can respawn basically forever. They represent the furthest outposts of a distant empire and that distant empire will just keep on sending them until it finds something more interesting to do. Unless they are normal people like you, then you can obliterate them and assimilate their culture and fight the people on the other side of them.

If you allow them to establish themselves they will grow at surprising rates. But allowing them to establish themselves is often the only way to make any real profit from them. You can "farm" one enemy for the resources you need to fight another, and this is the only way to make sure all those fights are actually won. You need the corn and potatoes from your Mexican vassal states to make up for the nutritional deficits of your all-buffalo diet so you can dominate the Apaches (basically what actually happened). As you get more powerful you will be making longer-term strategic decisions about this, deciding when to stop trading with somebody and start raiding them again so they don't get cocky.

They will send dudes after you. Osage and Navajo raiding parties moving around the map at the same speed as you, hunting your buffalo and stealing horses that you probably stole from them in the first place. Maybe with their own special magic powers although it depends if they seem okay with you using their spiritual beliefs, like I wouldn't use any of the Lakota sun dance stuff because from what I have read the Lakota prefer that you don't (if you start an argument about this in the comments I swear to God I will turn this car AROUND). Spanish punitive expeditions, slow but well-armoured but heat-vulnerable. Conquistador-led, bell-ringing clerics calling down minor miracles and dispensing the favour of the saints (I don't have any compunctions about using Catholicism because the Spanish have never had their culture murdered). Engineers armed with good old American know-how, land-surveyors who show up, dick about with a couple of little metal triangles and the next thing you know there's a work gang chopping a hole in the hills to run a train through. Forts that spawn buffalo-hunters who if left unchecked will economically extinguish you (also, in fact, what actually happened). Telegraph poles that allow your enemies to keep track of your movements with irritating precision. These would ideally also be kept track of on the map, moving towards your bands and the communities of your vassals, trying to do to you exactly what you've been doing to them. Except the telegraph poles I guess. Those just... stay still?? No I've changed my mind they are all Telegraph Golems every last one of them.

Your equivalent of a lich is a Texas Ranger. This guy moves as fast as you do, can track as well as you can (with the assistance of her Tonkawa allies), can ride as well as you, has all the advantages you rely upon to make one of you worth five of them. Her horse is better than yours, her gun is shit right now but as soon as Mr. Colt can borrow somebody's factory they're getting these new "revolving pistols" that don't even need reloading and will level the shit out of the playing field. She has learnt all her best moves by watching you do them. You probably killed her brother, her wife, her best friend, the guy who ran the second best saloon in Corpus Christi. I am going to say that each of you has your own personalized one of these, your own nemesis, who has sworn vengeance upon you and who advances in respect exactly as you do. Your legends are bound together. The more people you kill the more determined she becomes to kill you back, the more justified she feels and violent she gets, and the more funding she can snag a hold of. This is also true of your nation. The fuller your power waxes the more your enemies pay attention to you and the more determined they become to destroy you.

I'm also wondering if the game should keep track of the phases of the moon, because full moons are best for raiding and there ought to be a sort of cyclical aspect to it. But maybe that's too neckbeardy IDK. (Actually maybe the basic unit of time is moon phases, i.e. weeks, instead of days, I just thought of that. Might be less granular and allow you to get more stuff done in one.)


Thursday, 2 July 2015

Death Sydney

  • Ibis Men rule over the city as garbage pharaohs, dispensing radioactive wisdom from their temple complex in the ruins of the Opera House
  • The Star has come to life and devours people with its hypnotic rotating teeth, chewing up their souls and shitting them out as expressionless suit-wearing servitors who plant pokie seeds in the underbellies of otherwise-innocent pubs
  • All the good drugs come in via deep-sea current, smuggled in the bellies of tuna by the 'Ndranghulhu (otherwise known as the Pelagic Mafia)
  • Joe Hockey, torn and blistered, lies undying on a football field in his North Shore electorate, thousands of maggots endlessly sucking the last last ounce of juice from him
  • Chinatown slid sideways into Darling Harbour and is now a floating market of sampans, secretly governed by an animated and evil wax statue of Nicole Kidman
  • All the water abandoned Bondi in disgust, it is now a mile-wide expanse of dead dry sand
  • That guy who drives up and down King Street on a scooter blasting classic rock turned out to be the actual King of King Street and now provides the anarchist denizens of Newtown with the only authority they can understand
  • Rupert Murdoch was mummified in old front pages of the Telegraph and his hate-preserved ancients war with Lebanese vampire hunters in muscle cars on the streets of the Outer West
  • Oxford Street closed in on itself to form an infinity symbol, it cannot be accessed from outside but over the rooftops you can hear the distant roar of a Mardi Gras parade that never ends
  • Manly snapped off from the mainland and is now an island fortress, the people who live there have enough money to pretend that nothing's wrong
  • Circular Quay is full of broken glass and avocado-coloured scumwater and smashed-up ferries and bad, pretentious art torn out of the galleries by tourists enraged at being expected to pay $6 for a cup of coffee. Toothed seabirds circle overhead, doing the bidding of the Ibis Men
  • An enormous ruined cruiseship lies at anchor off Watson's Bay, it is full of insanely old people with parasite oysters clapped to their brainstems, pumping them full of immortality hormones and controlling their every move
  • All the rich people killed each other and now Mosman is a single giant haunted mansion full of entitled ghosts
  • There are spiders everywhere, they're harmless and if you help one out it's good luck. If you disturb one it's not bad luck you're just a dick
  • The weird Brutalist concrete shoreline of Clovelly looks exactly the fucking same, is breeding-place of crab people with cement shells
  • Taronga Zoo was bought up by a billionaire gun enthusiast who has offered a small fortune to anyone who can survive a night within its walls, he has let all the animals out and will snipe at you from the gondola
  • Each Friday night the gunpowder phoenixes dance in the sky over the ocean and wake you the fuck up
  • Long pork rolls are sold on every street corner and considered a prime hangover food
  • There are warehouses in Marrickville packed with flesh, you open the door to see an oozing red wall and the pulse of an arm-thick artery. If not pruned regularly they will grow and multiply
  • Buses pass at midnight, faces pressed against the glass. They only stop to let people on, not to let them off
  • If you are not yelled at by a homeless person at least once during the course of the day it means that they have already decided to come to your house and kill you in your sleep
  • A single enormous black swan nests in the calm blue dark of an abandoned movie studio, it has devoured its mate and now knows the future
  • Cook's baked and disembowelled revenant patrols Botany Bay with a spyglass, scanning the horizon for the war canoe of the Hawaiian king who pursues and, he believes, intends to eat him
  • In winter the skies freeze over and it's five minutes to get inside or death by apocalyptic hail, this pisses off the gunpowder phoenixes
  • The phantom of the monorail prowls Pyrmont at night, dragging victims back to its lair in the Powerhouse museum where they labor in chains to construct it a new, brutal, piston-powered body
  • Falun Gong peace pirates have learnt to survive indefinitely without the organs stolen from them by agents of the Chinese government. Their urine is filtered by the concentrated meditation energy of thousands of tranquility slaves who can only attack by vomiting up black qi
  • The aquarium has inverted itself and lumbers through the harbour's slimy depths with small, scared townships trapped in what were once fish tanks, breathing from pockets of stagnant air that are refreshed every full moon when it surfaces. The inhabitants have learned to not throw stones
  • The Domain is now the domain of giant carnivorous fungi that spill over each night from the botanical gardens, they worship mushroom Madonnas in St. Mary's Cathedral and smear the portraits in art gallery with poisonous mold, cursing their subjects
  • The botanical gardens are a stinking trashpile which breeds carnivorous fungi. This is the design of the Ibis Men, who look upon them as beautiful and sacred
  • The actors, crimelords, media personalities and mining magnates of Finger Wharf live a life of astonishing luxury so long as they never leave. It's like the Masque of the Red Death in there. Each one is missing their little finger, the price of their admittance
  • Tiger Edwards, a literal tiger, runs a portable pie cart that shows up where you least expect it. He is waging an eternal struggle with the guys who sell the long pork rolls
  • Swimming-capped seahags lurk in wave-dashed pools at the bottom of cliffs, guarding the fountains of regenerative brine which prevent them from shriveling into nothingness. They eat only scones and flesh
  • The bridge left. Legends say that one day it will return