Friday, May 15, 2015

Dunkey's Dracula Generator Made Pleasant

Dunkey Halton posted a Dracula Generator that I liked. I stole it, made it look kind of like it belonged in A Red And Pleasant Land and glued it into my copy. It fits nicely in the back, over all those blank pages. Click the thing below to get it.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Sad Dolls

Written in a hurried scrawl in the last page of the journal is an address, then nothing but blank pages. The address leads to an abandoned building adjacent to the Old Bugbear, a suspiciously cheap inn on the quiet side of town.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Skelintons Versus Demons One Oh One

by Xavier Turisini

The dead are fighting the demons down in hell and always have been. Both are terrible and neither can possibly win. But worry not, for they cannot touch us up here in the land of light and beauty.

Oh wait sorry what's that?
"He took the King's secret whistle from its secret hook. He blew a long, low blast down the King's back secret stairway. And a moment later he heard them coming! Up from their musty hole beneath the dungeon, up the empty midnight tunnel to the royal bedchamber tower, came the magicians on their padded, shuffling feet. Up and right into the room they came chanting."
  -Bartholomew and the Oobleck, by Dr. Seuss
Fuck. Fucking wizards. Now there are demons and skelingtons crawling out of the dark holes and graveyards all over the world. That's just great.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The Caves Beneath Otbara

What are you doing down here? It's dangerous under the city!
  1. I wanted to get down to the port without paying taxes or having my luggage searched.
  2. I wanted to find the Rewarding College.
  3. I wanted to see if it were true that the weight of the city was going to crumble the cliffs one day and tumble everything into the sea.
  4. I heard you can get into the palace through these caves.
  5. I just followed one of those hooded creatures you see deliberately pacing the streets of the city, the ones with all the legal protections -Peaceful Monks. I mapped their progress and discovered their paths were drawing intricate city-wide pentagrams. Then I decided to follow them.
  6. I heard there was a series of shrines down here that, if visited in the correct order and with the correct rituals, can supercharge magic items.


The caves sprawl for a very long way - going beyond the borders of the city and down all the way to the water. I suppose it could be a megadungeon but maybe not.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

I Ran Logan Knight's Mystics

Rules are shit - this is known. However, I must concede that they are nice for making people do things and making them feel like the things they are doing are the right things to do.

In vanilla Dungeons and Dragons people playing wizards obsess over finding weird scrolls, thieves piss off the rest of the party at every turn and fighters hang around, feel washed out and itch to kill things. All as it should be.

But then along come clerics and bore the shit out of absolutely everyone. Maybe that's intentional? Whatever. Fuck them. Clerics are boring.

Don't worry though. It's going to be OK.

Logan Knight has answers. He wrote a blog post where he suggests replacing stodgy old clerics with his own mad, itinerant mystics. I did, and you could too. Let's talk about why that'd be a good idea.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Running Deep Carbon Observatory

For anyone reading this who doesn't own and/or isn't running Deep Carbon Observatory then this probably isn't the post for you. Here's my review instead.

For everyone else, maybe this will interest you and maybe it won't. What follows is a record of some of my thoughts about the book and how it went down in my campaign.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

DIY OSR Starter Sets

Inspired my recent acquisition of Paolo Greco's punk rock anthem, the Cthonic Codex*, I have been thinking about starter sets.

Here are some things that are great about starter sets:

  • They come in BOXES.
  • Having BOXES on your shelf in between the books makes you feel like a deviant.
  • They are full of weird stuff that would seem totally unrelated if it weren't all in a BOX together.
  • There are primal human urges to read things that are books but play things that are in BOXES. If you want something played, put it in a BOX.
  • You could be making your own OSR Starter Set right now.
  • Then you could give it to the one you love. He will say, "I never understood how you could play a game from a book. Now that you have given me your favourite game in BOX form I can love you again."


These ideas for basic OSR starter sets were chosen with a few simple premises:
  1. The base of a starter set should sometimes include rules, and then either a module with which to use those rules or instructions for generating scenarios for those rules.
  2. The separate pieces of the starter set should have nothing to do with one another. Not be made by the same person, not intended to be used with the same system.
  3. The components of the starter set should be free or very cheap.
  4. These are all things that I really like and would genuinely love to play.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

They Poured Fire on Us From the Sky

"Later my father asked 'what colour was that hyena?'
'It wasn't really yellow and it wasn't really red.'
'What did his neck look like?'
'Big neck with lots of hair and on the head.'
'You got a lion this time so we have to go and take care of it.'"

"'Fetch my spears,' my father said.
'Dad', said Dingmakuan, his eldest son by his first wife, 'I don't think only two of us can fight a lion.'
'Son, the covenant has been broken. I have to kill this lion.'"

Monday, February 23, 2015

Enforced Poisoning and Dismemberment in the Mycelium Metropolis

"Is this the largest organism in the world? This 2,400-acre (9.7 km2) site in eastern Oregon had a contiguous growth of mycelium before logging roads cut through it.Estimated at 1,665 football fields in size and 2,200 years old, this one fungus has killed the forest above it several times over, and in so doing has built deeper soil layers that allow the growth of ever-larger stands of trees. Mushroom-forming forest fungi are unique in that their mycelial mats can achieve such massive proportions."
—Paul Stamets, Mycelium Running


  1. To find the ingredients to complete an obscure and powerful spell or ritual.
  2. To find a god-poison.
  3. To hire an invincible mercenary army.
  4. To find the fabled Homokaryotic Hammer.
  5. As part of a pilgrimage for a weird, musty god.
  6. Because you are a secret agent for the SLIME MOULD.
  7. To find help purifying a region of poison or radioactive taint.
  8. To find Old Mould Mouth.
  9. Banished there by a sadistic hell-sorcerer.
  10. To plead that a town in the path of the mushroom-men's autumnal warparth be spared.
  11. To become infected with old knowledge.
  12. Because you are so fucking lost.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

I Ran Deep Carbon

I am not yet done with Deep Carbon Observatory, though the end is near. My players are currently trapped deep within the Observatory itself; too afraid to descend the great titanium chain into the darkness and kept from returning to the hollow comfort of the surface by the ravenous malice of a naked, crawling giant. This is the culmination of about eighty hours of play during the last six months (almost an hour per A5 page - and that's not counting a lot of unrelated fucking around). This book is dense to the point of being obtuse. Nothing is repeated. Nothing is explicitly stated that can be inferred. In order to discuss it I am going to be blunt and obvious about content that is deft and clever and, I am certain, reveal my total misunderstanding of several core concepts central to Deep Carbon and life in general.

Let's go.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Elves Hold the Lives of Every Other Creature in their Filth-Encrusted Hands

Elves have pointed teeth, small, delicate genitals and the ability to vomit up plants once per day.They are itinerant disease ridden vagrants who have fucked the world so bad that it would take the destruction of every living thing on the planet to fix it. They are burned by holy water.

Elves have spell slots. They can use them for spells and inventing plants. Once they have invented a plant they can vomit up a corresponding seedling once per day. If they ever clear out the spell slot then that entire species of plants will wither and die.

Elven children can be made the same way as plants. Elves can also reproduce sexually and through the implantation of humans with changeling children, but they prefer not to. Natural birth kills elven mothers and changelings creep everybody out - even elves.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Dwarfs Live Outside of Time and Despise You as the Bad Dream You Are

Dwarfs are just like humans in many ways. They have kings and beards, they like fucking* and they define themselves by their monuments. However, there is one crucial way in which Dwarfs and Humans are irreconcilably divergent, and that is what we shall discuss here.

The human race has been blessed with the ability and drive to crawl all over this yellow earth - filling up its arable and its desolate places with their lives and leavings.

Time, however, will do for them in the end.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Canoptic Abomination

I am nearly done with Deep Carbon Observatory. It's badass. If you haven't checked it out already then you definitely should. It's my favourite DnD module-thing from last year. Also this post probably won't make any sense if you haven't read or played it.

Anyway, halfway to the dungeon there is an excellent dam. It is guarded by some statues that are full of guts called Canoptic Guards. Upon his gruesome murder at the hands of a Canoptic Guard, one of my player's last words were "Cut out my brain, shove it in this thing and see what happens."

The un-paralysed wizard performed a long and ridiculous ritual and I rolled on The DMs Emergency Dodecahedron Outcomes Table with all of the modifiers except for +2 and -2. The ritual was successful.


Monday, January 19, 2015

Actual Conversation

I asked the dude I work with if there were any good boogieman stories that got told to kids in South Africa. He started talking about witches.

The problem with Western Society is there is no room in the legal system for witches. You take a witch to court, say "He was dancing naked in my yard trying to curse me," and the court tells you he has dementia. They don't know what to do. Back before the West came we were better able to deal with witches. You could kick them out of the village, deal with them. Now you can have a witch and you know he is a witch but you can't do anything about it. There's just a witch.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

The Dragon

A demon sits in the ailing heart of the Old Empire. Her name is Missy Lillian Misseria Lemon Gloriana Underhoof XIX, and she is a guest in the court of the Emperor. Most of her days are spent in needlework, gossip and petty court intreagues.
She has an incurable fascination with adventurers. She will seek them out and invite them to tea the moment she hears of their arrival at the palace.

At these ridiculous engagements she will invariably demand to hear about all the party's adventures, with particular emphasis on any wealth they managed to acquire along the way. She will be equally eager to hear about any future ventures and will predict, with unnering accuracy, which one will be most profitable.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Adventures in Russia

(EDIT - Revised to be more concise and better)

I bought a copy of Hoard of the Dragon Queen on a whim. That was a mistake. Still, I liked the idea of an overarching pursuit/mystery dynamic in an adventure.

Time to reskin HotDQ as a pointcrawl set in Weird Civil War Russia.


Things are bad in Moscow. The Grand Prince has been murdered and the Communist Reds have taken power. The Reds are forced to fight not only the Whites - who are still loyal to the old Monarchy - and the Greens - who are anarchists and fighting everyone. Feeding the people and keeping order have been forgotten. It is 1919.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Advice for the Newly Afflicted

I have been playing "Old School" style Dungeons and Dragons for half a year now and I still have no idea how to play "Old School" Dungeons and Dragons. However, I do run a game for a bunch of old friends over the internet every Monday night and they appear to be having a great time. They have not yet figured out that I have no idea where to put the health potions, how to properly balance encounters, describe intricate traps properly, make buying starting equipment interesting, or do any other essential Dungeon Master tasks easily and correctly.

There's plenty of excellent How-To-Play-DnDs from people who actually know what they're talking about but I suspect that many of them don't actually remember what it's like to not DM DnD (It can be kind of all-consuming like that). Myself, I still find playing DnD difficult, stressful and strange. It's also incredibly rewarding. I love it.

I want to write out instructions for how to start playing DnD when that's something that you'd like to do but have absolutely no idea how, both as potentially useful information for someone someday, as well as a record of where I'm at with the hobby now.
So let's go. Here's how to get into playing DnD (or how I did anyway):

Friday, January 9, 2015

The Revenant

 "It would not be easy to believe that the corpses of the dead should sally (I know not by what agency) from their graves, and should wander about to the terror or destruction of the living, and again return to the tomb, which of its own accord spontaneously opened to receive them, did not frequent examples, occurring in our own times, suffice to establish this fact, to the truth of which there is abundant testimony" 
-William of Newburgh
So a player character died. My condolences - my players always take that shit hard. The rest of the party probably couldn't afford to resurrect her and her player probably had another character all ready to go anyway. Maybe they buried her.


About a day's journey from her grave, a charming old man appears. He is offering to sell a scroll of resurrection for ridiculously cheap. (At this point the players may believe that the old man is a crudely shoehorned way for the DM to apologise for killing of a character and bring her back into the game. That's funny.)

The scroll will detect as magical and examination by those knowledgeable in the arcane will confirm that it should indeed summon the dead. However, the scroll does not work. Or, at least, it appears not to. Though after being cast on a corpse it no longer detects as magical.

In d66 days after the scroll is cast, begin questioning the player about the dead character. Where did she grow up? Did her family move around? Did she have any close friends back home? Did she ever go to school? Was she a member of any organisations? What was her hair colour? Eye colour? What tailors did she favour? Who would she have liked to have been, had she lived? Explain nothing. When the player runs out of biographical details, the dead character will finally seek out her old party and kill them one by one until she is saved.


Let's talk about summoning a revenant.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Doctor Zhivago

1) "...shrinking against the walls, thin, decently dressed old men and women, who stood like a silent reproach to the passers-by, wordlessly offering what no one needed - artificial flowers, coffee percolators with glass lids and whistles, black net evening dresses and uniforms of offices that had been abolished."
2) "Simpler people traded in more useful things: spiky crusts of stale rationed black bread, damp, dirty chunks of sugar, and the ounce packets of course tobacco cut in half right across the label."
3) " Round the corner, girls and women from villages near-by, hiding behind each other as excited as if they were at the fortune-teller's, stood in single file in the shelter of the station wall, selling cucumbers, cottage cheese, platterfuls of boiled beef and rye pancakes kept hot and savoury in quilted napkins."

Saturday, January 3, 2015

The Pleasure Palaces of Al'Yin Jin Zarain

1) Prototype demon powered drill tank.
2) Full body suits of Rock to Mud.
3) Safely tucked inside the belly of a Xorn.
4) Riding a Duergar mining drill down from the Underdark. Duergar machinery runs on blood. I hope you brought a couple of paralysed giants with you.
5) Houdini's Collar: If the wearer of the collar's movement is ever completely constricted then she will be immediately teleported 50' in a random direction. And-
Miner's Twine: As long as this string remains tied around your little finger you cannot be crushed to death by stone, earth, or mining slurry.
6) More traditional methods. Probably took about 100 + d20 years, at a rough estimate.

Congratulations. That must have taken a lot of hard work and preparation. I hope you're equally prepared for the drop.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Weird Remote Village

1) Monster
2) Psi Witch
3) Vinemancer
4) Exiled knight of the realm
5) Dream Shaman
6) Necromancer
7) Monk
8) Beast Master. Use local wilderness table to determine which manner of beast they command.

1) Beloved. Fed all the best food in the village. Fat and extremely competent.
2) Undead.
3) Benevolent evil dragon. Will take great pains to keep this information secret. Only clues are extensive knowledge of arcane subjects and the veneration of dumb animals.
4) Telepathic
5) The last of a line of ancient learning.
6) Demonic pact. (50% chance made by the village, 50% by the protector.)
7) A poser, well versed in illusion magic.
8) Drunken master.

1) The ashes of the sorcerer-tyrant. If reclaimed he will return to life, and be just as much of a pain in the arse to destroy as he was the last time.
2) Small girl, unaware that she is undeniably the rightful heir to a distant monarchy.
3) Entrance to the hollows within the roots of the world tree.
4) Obsessed bio-alchemist. Makes new monsters in his laboratory vats beneath the city. Funded by the crown.
5) Grand witch coven. Roll dwhatever every time a new female villager is met. 50% chance witch.
6) One of the apple trees in the overlarge apple orchard on the outskirts of town belongs to heaven. Existence of tree sole proof clerics of dominant religion are not just tapping dark sorcery.
7) Small golden kitten sleeps in town every night. One night the kitten was woken and shooed away from the doorstep she'd chosen to rest upon. The sun didn't rise the next day.
8) Grand Druid Coven, All villagers are druids. Entire town ancient forest kept safe by illusion magic. Do not gaze upon the forest's defender with true sight.

Summin extra from d12