Friday, July 28, 2017

Life, Death, and the Middle for CaBH + The West Wind Circuit

Most of this game will concern whether or not your vehicles are active and in the running but mortal concerns are still a factor. Characters slammed around in crashes or specifically targeted by other racers or creatures, folks suffering from atmospheric hazards, whatever: all these things add Wound Points. You begin suffering impairment (negative modifier of 1-2 pts) at 25 WP, but 35 WP is where things get really interesting for most players. That's when you can elect to let yourself be knocked out or elect to keep going the distance. This requires an Up check to see if you, well, stay up. It's a very easy roll against each character's Toughness. There's other stuff to consider, like Marks of Death, but here is the takeaway:

Your Pilots will not be immortal. They will be damn hard to kill without recklessness or concerted effort being involved.

Your Wound Points give you a big safety net to just do some really whack stuff. You never just hit a guy or drive really well in Feng Shui. You execute a move called Cleaving Fjord Wasp that happens to do punch damage, or take your car around the corner so fast the road cracks behind you. You get creative with your descriptions and you get buck wild with the stunts you want to attempt. Why try to just close some distance when you can do so by blowing out the base of a water tower and driving up it as a ramp, then surfing on the wave when it crashes and the water goes everywhere? That's...not going to lie, a couple rolls, maybe a -2 to a roll, but otherwise totally on the table.

That doesn't just go for your racing or combats. That goes for your role-playing, too.

The reason everyone is controlling multiple characters isn't because everyone loves keeping track of extra bullshit. It's so that no matter what scene we get lost in everyone has an opportunity to help play things out. This is something that can be hard to get people used to in demos of Fiasco (which you can tell I cribbed from) but eventually they get the gist and can fill in some gaps where needed. Your Magic Cop crashes and is our of the race? Play part of the support team for this Sifu over here, help them come out on top, keep playing!

It's also so you don't have to worry about whether or not your racers die. Your Sword Master can dramatically lose a duel in order that you, the Player, get to have a super awesome moment and wrest control of the plot for a minute...and next session your defender from someone else's team is so moved by their sacrifice that they take up his mantle and become a new Masked Vigilante to play.

You don't always have to show up with the same pilot and team, for that matter. Qualification means something in the world but in terms of our playing it just means WHO SHOWS UP - not just who is able to make the session but who the players want to bring.

Playing your Driver character but have an idea for a cyborg character with a big blocky Huitzil-from-Darkstalkers look instead, someone who doesn't know anything but racing but loves it so much? Ok, your Driver didn't qualify this race. Either you make up a good reason or I will. Maybe this will be a fun hook for future sessions, maybe not, but for right now you're Huitzil.

This can also help if you blow all your Resource Die wad and end up still having a busted vehicle, or if your character gets grievously wounded or maimed - you let them convalesce while you bring in someone else.

Speaking of convalescence, reduction of Chase Points during a Pit Stop requires the Fix It skill or Resource Dice. Reduction of Wound Points for a character requires Medicine skill or Resource Dice or some kind of magic/tech/mutation/creature power/etc that allows healing. Remember, normal juncture penalties are assigned geographically instead of by timestream for Chase a Bright Horizon. That applies to healing, too; if your Type can only be healed by Ancient Medicine normally then they can only be healed by someone who honed their skills somewhere DEEPLY strange and magical or unreal.


The West Wind Circuit brings a close to the Four Winds and determines whether the Grandissimo Prix will be held. It is the shortest race, with only four events: a driving race, an air race, and an aqua race, followed by a no-holds-barred last-person-standing demolition derby.

The West Wind Circuit was a later addition to Dawnstar Racing, a way to help settle close points rankings so there was no dispute as to who the winner of a season was. It's also a final test for any team which has managed to run away with the other three circuits. This was when Mammon Summer got tired of dealing with too many half baked challengers. Now anybody who has still proved themselves with distinction after the West Wind Circuit can expect an invitation should the Grandissimo Prix be held.

It's easy to be titillated by the demolition derby, sure, but these other races are hardly the same fare you'll see in a normal circuit. Each has some extra flair, some strange new rule, dangerous hazards, and sometimes direct opposition in the form of Dawnstar Team, a group of racing gladiators who hold no official racing position but operate as a kind of mobile, 'most-dangerous' hazard. Each of Dawnstar Team were once a pilot with a team of their own before being soundly defeated by Mammon Summer in the Grandissimo Prix.

These races are rare and deadly. Winning any of these, much less the circuit, is a storied accomplishment respected just as much as winning the Grandissimo Prix!

That's probably because nobody has survived winning the Grandissimo Prix. What a specific sentence...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Bagginses - A Stupid Dumb Stupid BXish Class

God forgive me

HD: Nope
Saves: as Fighter
Attacks: Nope
Advances: Not exactly
Requirements: If your DM actually lets you use this then congratulations, you passed the toughest requirement threshold ever.
  • Bagginses may not wear armor or use shields.
  • Bagginses may not wield weapons.
  • Bagginses may move 30'/10' under their own power, just sort of rolling forward. Permissive DMs may allow hopping. They may also be carried by any other character without adding encumbrance.
  • Bagginses are hit automatically when not carried and are +2 AC when being carried. They automatically fail any Breath save unless a character carrying them makes their Breath save.
  • Bagginses gave gems for eyes and coins for teeth. They are immune to gaze attacks, paralysis or petrification, poison, cold, radiant, necrotic, thunder, and psychic. They are -5 to save against electricity, fire, acid, and direct damage from spells.
  • When directly attacked, on a hit, a Baggins must save vs Spells/Magic in order to remain intact. If it fails then it is wrecked and everything stored inside it is lost. If a Baggins suffers a crit then it gets NO save and everything stored inside it spontaneously appears; if this includes magic items all of their magic effects go off at once. Consumed items do not reappear.
  • A Baggins may either store a magic item or consume it. For every magic item consumed it gains +1 to all its Saves. This magic item never returns but if it had a magic ability that can target a creature (e.g. Wand of Wonder or Light) then the Baggins may execute that effect 1/day on a creature it touches. If the Baggins is used as a weapon itself it does not need to save in order to remain intact. It does 1 pt of damage +1 for each magical item it has consumed, and can activate a randomly determined magical effect.
  • Healing magic and items do not affect the Baggins, nor does it eat or drink or sleep. A broken Baggins can be Mended through magic only; needle and thread won't do. After three strikes or being reduced to ash Mending will no longer cut it and the Baggins is gone for good.
  • Bagginses store up to 100 lbs. of non living materials. Rats in the bag will vanish into another dimension never to return, talking skulls (or familiars who are technically just alive spells) will fare fine. Every magical item it consumes increases this capacity by 20 lbs. At any time in initiative a Baggins may regurgitate one item in its iventummy.

CaBH Gear, Lifestyle, Wealth, & Upgrades + The South Wind Circuit

Feng Shui employs a lot of broad terms for its ranges, some Grover level generalities that used to be more common in D&D contemporaries before things got so much more granular. This applies to Fundage. Types have a wealth level of either Poor, Rich, or Working Stiff. Most Dawnstar Racers actually make a decent bit of coin from sponsors and purses. This is automatically assumed to cover the basic cost of equipment, fuel, transportation, and getting everyone paid. Your Pilot's wealth rating affects other things outside the normal course of racing. If you want to buy lunch for all your friends, or spring for a beach vacation, or an awesome new hat for Malibu Stacy, you make Fortune check. If you beat the odds then you have enough money for that thing.

Wealth level is "liquid walking around money" and there's lots of reasons an otherwise lucrative sport like Dawnstar Racing might have paupers in its midst. Perhaps you don't have sponsors, or many/large ones, and have to front a lot of costs yourself. Perhaps you're just bad at holding on to money, spending it on goodies on impulse and running out all the time when you need it. Maybe you're paying off a big debt. You could be giving oodles of dough to charity, or to one cause or person in particular. Maybe you've just taken a vow of poverty.

If you run out gas or you want 200 super-bouncy-balls or you want a present for your boyfriend or something like that you make a check. Depending on your wealth level this check might be easier or tougher. Someone who is rich has an easier time buying new tires after a blowout than a poor person. I speak from experience with that last part.

Equipment and gear in Feng Shui, as in a lot of anime frankly, is pretty loose. Do you want a thing, and it makes some kind of sense that you can find it on hand? You have it. Really weird items will require a Fortune check to see if they're around to be had. You can just roll into a race and then assume things about your loadout later. Firearms and conventional weapons are going to be a bit of an exception. A default assumption of the base game, if you want to bring these you need to specifically load up before the race begins. You are not finding an AK47 and ammo stores on a serene hillside while you repair your engine.

Resource Dice can be spent to automatically waive any lifestyle or equipment check. These are earned by the Team, bought with money earned from racing. Any Team member can spend them but these are communal resources so a light touch should be considered...especially since Resource Dice can be handy for other things.

Such as if your weapon is broken or disabled during a race. Or you want to add giant spikes to the side of your vehicle. Or you want to improve your vehicle's base stats. Or you need to repair your vehicle in a Pit Stop to either reduce its Chase Points or get back into the race after being knocked out. Maybe you want to add a new safety feature, luxury feature, or offensive/defensive feature, or a new trap or trick...

These all cost Resource Dice. These aren't rolled, just spent. Every Team begins each race with 1 Resource Die and depending on the purse they have the potential to earn enough money to buy more Resource Dice. The deeper you are into a circuit the harder these extra RD are to afford. There are also Resource Dice to be found scattered through the world which can be found through interaction and exploration.

They are a versatile resource that you should spend freely but never lightly.


The South Wind Circuit focuses entirely on aquatic races. Open ocean, winding rivers, untamed bayou, majestic sounds and tranquil coves, canals and cascades... The inaugural race in the circuit accepts twenty qualifiers, though rarely do more than a half dozen even finish (and those scarcely intact): the Waterfall Crawl, a nearly vertical climb up raging rapids and relentless opposing currents.

This circuit sees the Dawnstar Racers walking on eggshells in order to delicately balance the importance of the ecosystems around them with the need to drive fast and kick ass. It sees the least interference from local and international peacekeeping agencies, and has the least amount of broadcast coverage and surveillance from racing officials and news outlets. The remote nature of some courses means they are the most sparsely attended races, though still much viewed at home.

All of this is to say that there is no safety net. Your life preserver is your only parachute for drowning. It's impossible to overstate the power of water or the enormity of it. Add in wildlife dangers, kelp beds, reefs, oil spills, squalls, rogue waves, and more - never mind the occasional ghost ship or goddess - and you're in for some real trouble if your attention should falter.

Alliances are common in Dawnstar Racing; two or more teams acting in concert to help each other do well against the competition, draft with each other, then duke it out in the final stretches. In the South Wind Circuit such alliances are ESSENTIAL for safety and survival. Your buddies watch your back and stage your rescue mission.

Many racers had been to shores not found on any map. The walls are thinner this far out from society. Your course may take you to an entirely different kind of destination altogether.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Other CaBH Source Material + The East Wind Circuit

A lot of the heavy lifting of delineating a character concept and melodramatic hook in conventional Feng Shui is done by the very very Fiasco like (read: I ripped them off from Fiasco) relationship tables and the whole...premise of the campaign, really. You aren't disparate Dragons from all walks of life, different times and dimensions, coming together to fight a geographical war using time. Not necessarily. More likely you're excitable nobodies in a grander game or broad celebrity types angling for...whatever keeps you going, I guess.

The seed germ of this game was Studio Ghibli Wacky Races and I never want to get so far away from that as to be unable to see it without a telescope. That's not the only point of reference here. 80s cartoons - G.I. Joe specifically, and the legions of G.I. Joe knock offs like Ma-Ma-Ma-Mask. 80s professional wrestling. Card game anime. Lesser Square games. Through the Lupin III door comes Cowboy Bebop and the rest of the Watanabe canon. HAMTARO. Inevitably David Bowie. Schwarzeneggar movies but not the ones like Commando and Predator you'd expect. Scooby Doo and the Reluctant Werewolf. Mario Kart. What You'd Think Jojo Was If You Only Knew It Through Osmosis. My First BREAK!! Character. Sammo Hung movies. Not Speed Racer the cartoon but Speed Racer the movie.

Astro City #1. Astro City #1/2. Gumball Rally, or to a lesser extent Cannonball Run and Rat Race. The Good, The Bad, and the Weird. It's A Mad Mad Mad Mad World. The Catanooga Cats. Goldfinger, Maison Ikkoku, KIYOHIKO AZUMA, Steven Universe, the parts of Fury Road that aren't in cars.

Inevitably He-Man.

Disney Afternoon. High School AU Fan Fiction. 2005 series Doctor Who Power of Love Endings. Raiders. American Graffiti. Only the music from Katamari Damacy. Crazy Taxi. Master Roshi. The characters before Atreyu shows up. Global Frequency. The really sappy later seasons of MASH and Scrubs. The end of Schindler's List. The scene where Gen Wilder locks himself in with Peter Boyle. "So shines a good deed in a weary world." "I want everything I've ever seen in the movies!" Fuck it just Gene Wilder.

Buster Keaton while we're at it. Michelle Rodriguez. The part in Sailor Moon where she really wants to be Sailor V and ONLY those parts. Kamen Rider and Ultraman and Godzilla and Jack Kirby and Neil Gaiman and G. Willow Wilson but mostly for Mystic and Air. NextWave specifically. Marvel vs. Capcom 2. Power Stone. Sonic Adventure is shitty but the feeling of that game when you were twelve Actually fuck it DREAMCAST.

The bedrock, proto Ghibli: the Real Ghostbusters, Akira, Sherlock Hound? Sherlock Fucking Hound. Archie's Ninja Turtles comics. Legend of Five Rings by way of Last Airbender. Death Race 2000. The alternate reality represented in Monster Truck VHS tapes from the 90s where the guy who owned Bigfoot stopped drug dealers by running over their mobile homes. Monster Truck tv commercials. Jackass the Movie 2. E Honda. Yokai Monsters Attack. The weird Flintstones cartoons where their neighbors were the Munsters and they hung out with the Shmoo and then The Thing like Marvel Comics' The Thing was there too what

Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7. That time they just filmed Marvel Two-In-One Annual #7.

Pixar but not the cars ones. Disney Princesses As... Tumblr galleries. Micro Machines commercials. Explicitly and exclusively seven Transformers. The Music Meister Brave and the Bold. Unironic power chords.


Only the sincerest parts of Freakazoid!

Establishing shots of flowers and rivers.

David Lean panoramas. Mutant League Hockey. GWAR. Piano music. Zhang Yimou. Tsui Hark. Foggy Mountain Breakdown. The Great Muppet Caper. Violin music. Gershwin. Priest. Henry Selick. Burt Reynolds. Vanishing Point. LITTLE WOODEN BOY!

"My friends, you bow to no one." "My name just happens to BE Harvey."The movie Big Fish. Hey! Hey, FUCK you: the movie Big Fish.

"The river."

"Like this."


Paul Williams and Tim Curry. Goseki Kojima and Stan Sakai. The Wrong Trousers. Radar Love. Gorillaz. The Italian Job. The Crimson Permanent Assurance. Bernard Herrman.


These are your Chase a Bright Horizon characters. These are their villains. This is their world. These are your goals. This is the game. These are the choices and bonds and friendships and losses. This is Feng Shui 2, now. Now get

DEEP in it.


The East Wind Circuit is chiefly focused on sky races. The dangers here are obvious: any vehicle-to-vehicle contact ends in disaster. Crashes or "stoppages" from Chase Points can often be fatal. It can be harder to catch up from an early deficit. There are a greater number of no-fly-zones in nations than there are conventionally closed borders, as in Chevalle. Atmospheric phenomena.

Air races also require contending with travel ships and war ships more frequently in any other race mode. These are massive hulks with strange shapes and sometimes stranger missions. Magical forces, be it broomsticks or dragons, are more common in this mode than any other circuit.

The circuit culminates with a fireworks-spackled, explosion-dodging race around the world. A race against midnight to champion the first victor of the New Year.

While this circuit courts the least interference from the Road Dawgs or Knightrous Oxhide it does have some, shall we way, unique aggressors. These fields are usually pretty open and have a lot of racers who qualify. This is perhaps the most nationalistic/jingoistic of circuits, like the Olympics meets Top Gun. They are also, often, the shortest races, usually with only one major Pit Stop per race.

The skies go on forever, until they don't. Keep your wits about you, maintain dead reckoning, stay out of twilight, and think of something cool to put on your parachute.

Monday, July 24, 2017


HD: as Thief
SAVE: as Thief
ATTACK: as Thief
ADVANCE: as Thief
REQUIREMENTS: Constitution 11, Charisma 9, 1 hour each morning donning your gear and cosmetics.
  • Punks cannot use shields. Punks may wear leather armor, getting a +1 bonus to their AC (so a 3pt AC modifier total from armor).
  • Punks may use daggers, chains (as flail), and clubs. They may use any magic item they have stolen from someone, but not any they just find lying around.
  • Punks have a 2/6 chance of figuring out the meaning of glyphs, marks, and signs in cities and dungeons. Not translating them, just their meaning; "This is a warning" not "Lava ahead 500 meters."
  • Punks can skateboard (cost as shield). Punks add their Dexterity bonus to Architecture when skating, rolling this to avoid difficult terrain or double their speed for a round.
  • Punks will always detect as Chaotic no matter what sort of alignment system you use, whether they are or are not. Punks are +1 to hit and +2 damage against Lawful creatures and Lawful creatures are +2 to hit and +1 damage against Punks.
  • Punks can Detect Hidden Drugs on a 2/6.
  • Punks hope for nothing, and so are immune to Fear.
  • Punks love noise, and are immune to being Deafened.
  • Punks are considered to have Charisma 19 for hiring Punk retainers.
  • Punks get bonus HP each level equal to the number of times they were arrested since last level, whether as a direct result of their actions or just because the Man is hassling them.
  • At level 9 go fuck yourself: Punks gain the ability to ignore a rule of their choice once per day and get away with it.

CaBH Archetypes + The North Wind Circuit

Today's game prep is a discussion on Feng Shui 2 Archetypes. The idea is to treat the beginning of every campaign like you're using pregens, playing the first session through and then making any wished for or necessary changes. You just play the page out of the manual and you're fine.

I understand why some would bristle at this but as someone who ran a decent bit of Feng Shui, usually for new people, using the old rules let me tell you: this works. Believe me when I say that I do get the appeal of meticulously building your character but that's never been Feng Shui's goals. They want to get you playing as quickly as possible. However, even the relatively light customization options afforded in the older rules became a time-at-the-table quicksand. It had the opposite effect of get-playing-sooner, as people flipped back and forth between different sections....

One thing customization out of the gate does is place an unhelpful emphasis on schticks. Schticks are kind of like feats or moves in Feng Shui, they are not your primary weapon. That's usually a straight up Attack Value for Guns or Martial Arts or somesuch. Focusing on being creative in a fight is going to be much more helpful than trying to fit all your creativity in early so you can just set things on auto-pilot during combat.

Good line of thinking for most games, I bet.

So, you pick a guy and we just play and we fix them later. But what kind of guys can you be? This isn't a post to rule any Types right out or add in a bunch of workshopped ones or whatever. This is more of a guide to making this cool game peg fit into this specific Miyazaki hole. A lot of Types come laden with firearms or standard vehicles; the latter are right out and unless your Type is completely based around your weapons, so are your starting load-outs. Racers will not be trying to murder each other as a default assumption.

Do what you feel you must to be true to your dude but if you're in a Ghibli movie or an anime series or a jrpg that isn't explicitly ABOUT guns or gunplay then it's usually chiefly the bad guys running around being super gun-y. Your characters can be exceptions here, of course - even if Cagliostro wasn't a specific point of reference Lupin III is very in the spirit of what I'm attempting, and that has at least two deadly weapons masters in it. We can find some wiggle room and add things back and change things after the first session. The Killer might still use sharpshooting skill to blow out tires and puncture radiators, the Full Metal Nutball's "firearms" might take the form of Mario Kart weapons, etc.

Hammering this home again: King Arthur, Robin Hood, Conan, Xena, Ripley, etc. are all D&D Fighters. Lots of players may decide to field, say, an Exorcist Monk but have very different concepts and vastly different destinations over time.

With those two big changes in mind I want to look at individual types by groups. Some people get a concept and then find a Type that fits it, while some go the other way around. Hopefully this will be useful for both of you.

There are 36 Types in Feng Shui 2. Most don't fit neatly into one category and I'm not going to go over them all. I'd just like to look at three clusters I think are worth highlighting.

Big Bruiser
Everyday Hero
Scrappy Kid

This is kind of the starter pack. If you're never played before, or find all the other types and trading out schticks complicated, or if you are just plain unsure of which type to pick, go with one of these. They are straightforward each in their own way, with usually one or two gimmicks to master. Especially since our games may not revolve chiefly around rumbling...these guys offer some other good options.

Supernatural Creature
Transformed Crab
Transformed Dragon
Gene Freak
Magic Cop
Exorcist Monk

If you like the idea of playing a very involved character with lots of swap-out options for your schticks after first session, weird leveling paths, or just really playing up the witches and spirits and magical nutsack raccoons and pork curses of the source material then think about one of these. Just know that all of these powers won't mean very much unless you're prepared to actually use them to help your team race like a mofo. You can be obvious with your gifts or not, depending on what style you want to embrace. Not the action movie grit of the base game but the stone gears, sympathetic illusions, and binding decisions of this style of anime stuff.

Of special note, the book has off-the-shelf options for Transformed Crab and Dragon but suites to easily cobble together specific Transformed Animal types and enough room to cobble your own together, either a mishmash weird type or just say building a Giraffe out of different parts. If you go this route then just use the Transformed Crab for the first session and we'll see what you feel like building afterward. The important thing is to get a feel for how the different parts of the game work before tinkering under the hood.

Typically Feng Shui assigns "juncture penalties" for Scroungetech or Creature or Sorcery or other magic abilities. These will instead be based on geography: you will gain a bonus to your rolls in your homeland races, have no penalty when racing somewhere with similar supernatural elements (monster kingdom or robot kingdom or wizard kingdom, just not your own), and a penalty to your rolls in places without such features or with supernatural elements opposed to your own (tech rolls have a penalty in magic places for example). No nation of people is only one thing or one kind of geography so there will be little oases and exceptions along the way. But you see why, now, I take the time to call these Types out: they will involve the most give and take with me and fine tuning over time to make them work while still getting at what you're after.

Everyday Hero
Full Metal Nutball
Highway Ronin
Karate Cop
Maverick Cop
Scrappy Kid

These are the Types that begin with some level of the Driving skill. If you want to ever improve your vehicle behind its starting values you will need some level of Driving in order to pilot it. Any Type can trade a non-Info skill it possesses for Driving after the first session, as long as you can justify the swap.


The North Wind Circuit is a series of eight races beginning the day of summer solstice, when the barriers between worlds are thinner, the powers of the arcane nations hum louder, inspiration strikes those seeking it, and anything can just about happen.

North is focused entirely in road races. Some will be specific road courses, while some will take place on tracks. Most are going to be an overland scramble between checkpoint destinations. The first race in this series, the North Star Challenge, sees the racers dodging contested zones, dealing with natural hazards, and relying on their Team's bonds to overcome fierce arctic conditions and be the first to reach the finish line at the North Pole. Up to ten racers may qualify for the North Star Challenge.

First Place for the North Star Challenge is enough Money to buy 1 Resource Die and 100 Victory Points.

The North Wind Circuit represents the greatest risk of damage to property and bystanders. It also represents the greatest danger from animal life, unexploded ordnance, and dangers which can seem to come out of nowhere. It is in this circuit where the many diverse nations of the world will bring the most influence to bear on our racers. This circuit has the most direct oversight and interference from local law enforcement, militaries, criminal enterprises, and S.E.D.A.N.'s agents. Gracie Coupe herself makes it a point of qualifying for the North Star Challenge each year, just to prove the point that she and her fellows are always watching.

This is also the circuit most vulnerable to the activities of Knightrous Oxhide.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017


You know that Drawtown always needs some extra hired hands this time of year, be it for labor or for security. You have an itch for coin, or maybe nowhere else will have you. Perhaps this is the start of something new.


You are a merchant, gourmet, or entertainer, or part of a larger troop of the same. Every three years you head out to the middle of nowhere to a town far larger than it has any right to be to make a big deal out of the local yokels' frog eating party. This is the last time. After this you wouldn't be caught dead here.


While drinking in Auberdene you hear tell of some trouble with some of the carnival folk who have set up early out Crook's way. You can't abide to see innocent women stampeded and cattle raped. Best to help put things right.


He cannot say what troubles him as he slides you a marker for your payment advance. He cannot say what you are looking for. He gives you the name of an old threadbare magician - Arquon the Red - and sends you to find out what he knows. The man in the hood knows a catastrophe is coming, all signs point toadward, but he cannot say what exactly he fears. If he better knew he still could not articulate it. He lacks the tools. You take him for some mean caster or low adept. He looked an awful lot like the High Reverend...

Chime out ye cauldrons, shine up yon gigs, spice up the brandy, brandy up the figs, it's TODESUP, TODESUP, come all and one, the harvest time's over, so now comes ye fun! Everyone within a week's ride of Crooker's Draw knows about the todesup, a fortnight long celebration leading to an enormous feasting upon all the gods' creatures...including the local toad population, abnormally large in both size and number. This town and the surrounding farmland has thrived on the attention its little festival has attracted, expanding into quite the tiny metropolis. This in itself is unusual. Crooker's Draw is, by definition of a Draw, not really on the way to anything, a few days ride even from the closest thing to be considered a road. There are only three things this remote burg has going for it: a big to-do every few years that helps put everyone for a day's march in the black; incredibly strong women, an accident of selective breeding in this weird little pocket of civilization; and the lake, gorgeous and silver, perfectly nestled downhill from the city like its mirrored shadow, the lake whose banks fairly burst with frogs and toads, the lake for which old Crooker first bought this stretch of land, Lilypad Lake, the lake full of people.


There are eighteen primary points of interest around Crooker's Draw.

1. The old hall, original from when this place was but a small village. The hall remains from the days when it provides shelter for distant disparate stranger settlers, shelter from winters and raiders. It has grown up in that time to be the seat of governance and regional register reporting to three different kingdoms. When taxes are collected they are stored here behind wood so old it might outlast stone.

2. The Temple of Life's Light, a pilgrimage point for wandering believers. Strong on the divestment of worldly goods and coin to the Temple, that they might do more good with them. Their friars are ascetic and severe and prone to wines.

3. The Temple of Light's Life, a splinter faith in a glorious new structure who preach of giving one's goods and coin directly to those who need it. Many people are simply lazy so donate directly to the Temple instead of pay attention to their fellows. The church is not corrupt per se and does much good but the underlying schism in such similar doctrine has led to a ferocious one sided rivalry with Life's Light, in the way of faiths.

4. The Church. Old faiths, old gods, not consecrated to any and so open to all. This is the place with the graves, this is the place with the gallows, this is the place with the true altar. It's hard to tell but this is the place with the most priests. They look similarly, dress to obscure those looks, move about and change places when others aren't watching...every worship is conducted here, including the ones the others find abhorrent, so the priests see nothing, say nothing, do not watch and about being sought. All are welcome here unless seeking forgiveness. There's none left in the box.

5. Lilypad Lake is strange for (rolls die) three reasons. The first is its isolation; several small creeks and streams can flood from time to time and send a trickle but the dry riverbed snaking out above the town is a pretty firm reminder that the tributary which birthed her is a long gone memory. Secondly, amphibians; an abnormal number of frogs and toads can be found in the mud and grasses along its banks. There is not seemingly an insect population large enough to sustain this force, which does raise the mystery of how they continue to thrive. Since residents are able to live a blessedly pest-free existence (APART from the green and brown bastards) few actually mind. Finally, there are the visitors. Most folk ride over hill from the big road maintained by the king, while others arrive from aged trails cut by their own fathers. Stranger strangers simply walk up from the bottom of the lake herself one day and straight into town. It is no longer remarkable. The visitors never know where they are or how they got there and some are stranger than others but they never stay long, particularly around Todesup, and have fueled many tales and romances. Few ever return, and those who do usually take a more conventional route.

6. The caves in the crest beyond the dried river bed. Less true caves and more impressive tunnels these have been here since before the town. Once people used them for burial. Long before Crooker settled here folk stopped doing that, though no one remembers why.

7. The market is really just a few shops: a general store, a green grocer, a tack and feed supply, a bakery, a butcher, a chandler, and, a true rarity, the personal and professional apartments of Arquon the Red, survivor of the Vodehorne who holds a kind of court here offering folk remedies.

8. The stables, far too small to accommodate the new town let alone peak Todesup numbers. The hands here are not too old for this work exactly but older than they should be.

9. The smithy, indeed under a spreading chestnut tree. The smith is ill and his seven daughters are keeping up with the increased workload.

10. The festival grounds are overpacked, muddied, shit-reeking, and an awful thing to hear, even this far out from the big day. There are all manner of entertainers, pleasure providers, and wonder sellers. They are all of them grotty to a degree. This is the best place to drain players of coin, what with the plethora of magical items to be found. None of them do a god damn thing.

11. The campgrounds spreading around homes and through freshly harvested fields, full of revelers doing what revelers do whilst waiting to revel, which is revel anyway.

12. The tower is only tower in name. It's two stories tall and meeting place for the local militia, quarters for a three-man standing watch, and part time barracks for the hire mercenaries who help to police the Todesup crowds.

13. The great square is neither great nor square, an open place for moving stalls, demonstrations, a fountain, and two wells. One ran dry and is ignored, the other seems fine.

14. The estate of Hearth Crooker, considered palatial by farmer standards but shabby by the standards of the new town. He still owns claim to this place's riches from his lineage and mostly uses it to ply travelers for exciting stories and/or sexual favors.

15. There is a true inn with a small bar called Shrew Hole.

16. There is a true tavern with a few rooms called One Bastard's Plenty.

17. The gate west is easily driven around but it is where all customs are checked, taxes levied, trials held, and generally the place everyone gets their news. Notices and bills are posted all over several boards on either side of the gate. The town road stops abruptly, overtaken by hill and loam in the direction of the true king's-road.

18. The pyramid showed up last year. People panicked, and shied away. Then scholars and holy men came to study it. Then magicians plied their trade against its rough concrete sides. Then people began stealing pieces of it to sell as relics, souvenirs, curatives, or just for construction supplies. Leader Fawn put a stop to this practice, sensing a potential new revenue stream. They have not been able to rebuild or fully capitalize on its existence in time for this next Todesup but all the locals are recommending newcomers to check out the "brand new ruins."

Put these on a map. Do it.


Your party should ideally arrive in town 12 days before the festival but if you need to lead that come up with some content to dick around with for a couple days and get them there earlier. They won't be able to get there after Twelve Til.

Twenty Til: A hunter's caravan bringing salt meats for the festival fails to arrive on time. Their trail became a great razored trench beneath them. Tracing their intended route will lead you to this hellish looking gap where the trail used to be, old earth long piled up on either side.

Seventeen Til: The first visitors in a very long time rise up from Lilypad Lake. They are not remarkable apart from this and seem to be a train of homesteaders and guardsmen. They intend to leave before Todesup and are making the best of their surroundings until then.

Fourteen Til: Giles Gaunder, chaplain of Light's Life, has had terrible dreams for the last several nights. Portents, he believes, of something awful to soon befall Crooker's Draw. With the permission of the Anchorite he has set out with the underchaplain, Devil, riding to the king's road to bring back aid from Heshing.

Twelve Til: Silak the Great only has three freaks in his show and they have all escaped. These are detailed further in the freaks section but are the Wild Man, the Dog Faced Boy, and the Minotaur. The Dog Faced Boy will be found lost among the campgrounds (11), the Minotaur lies in the tunnels (6), and the Wild Man is hiding in an ancient fishing shed about a day's ride north, where the river never died.

The Sleep: All creatures capable of sleep will sleep. Creatures who do not have to sleep but are still capable of sleep will sleep. Creatures incapable of sleep see a wave of magical darkness maybe a 20th of a second in duration pass over the entire town. They are the first to awake to what has occurred. They are the first to be suspected.

Eleven Til: A wall has gone up, thick and made from something like stone. It is 500' tall, so you don't get full daylight except at midday. It extends as far as the dry river bed and encircles even the smithy and the smith's home on the edge of town. All points of interest mentioned above, as well as all the homes and such, are within its borders. If your party went to investigate the Pyramid or ran after the Wild Man and missed the Sleep and camped outside of Crooker's Draw then they will find themselves quite unable to challenge the wall now. Refer to the Suspects section to set up your initial factions. Then, about noon, set down your first Spire (roll 1d20, reroll on 19-20).

Ten Til: The first Engine will appear overnight in an area closest to the square (13). Some time before noon the first Figure appears between Light's Life and Life's Light. In the last embers of sunset twilight the first Blade will be found.

Nine Til: Wherever the most people are gathered a Teaching will appear. A Spire appears nearby around noon. An Engine appears inside of Crooker's house come midnight.

Eight Til: A Figure is found in the old hall. A Blade is in its hand. A Teaching is alongside it. This is the earliest you can find the tunnel beneath the floors.

Seven Til: Lilypad Lake becomes inaccessible for visitors for entry or exit. The bottom of the lake has been basically paved over, made of the same stuff as the Wall. There are a lot of amphibians around its borders, watching the center of the lake.

Six Til: A mutant toad creature is found, dead. Nothing else happens. The sound of croaking grows loud as the night comes.

Five Til: The frogs and toads this town is so famous for begin crawling around town in record numbers. Some are as large as a dog. They are attacking everything, eating everything, and fucking.

Four Til: A Teaching is found. From now on the phenomena occur in an order reverse to normal - Teaching > Blade > Figure > Engine > Spire. You will have one of each per day.

Three Til: The well runs dry, the lake turns poisonous. Flies are thick now for the dead, for the first time in this town's history, yes, flies. The amphibians ignore them, ravenously attacking other animals and then cannibalizing themselves. Giles Gaunder returns to the outside of the wall with workers, soldiers, and apostles all scrambling to get in. They begin suffering Changes.

Two Til: Cracks begin to show in the Wall. Any surviving Hoplites organize themselves and begin patrolling the ruined square. Beings with more than 14 Changes will band together regardless of permutation. Any pure beings left in Crooker's Draw will be seen as enemies by all others.

Tode Nite: A Confessor is appointed. They will be found covered in Teachings, wielding a Blade. They will explain things calmly and rationally. He is not here with a way out, he is here just to give everyone a chance to atone to their gods before the end. He is not here to bargain but he will HEAR your bargains and relay them in the night. If you were saving any last ditch strategies now is the time.

Todesup: There is a rumble in the earth and from Lilypad Lake comes a steady stream of frogs, toads, tadpoles, salamanders, FISH, whatever. It is a constant stream like the breaking of a dam. Within minutes all within the wall will be ankle deep. Staying standing in them will be difficult, avoiding being eaten alive will be more so, avoiding being crushed to death will be trickier still, as will keeping from suffocation under green flesh, and oh my god the noise will make communicating just impossible. They continue pouring out until they flow over the top of the wall, at which point the wall will crumble, crushing any would-be rescuers below. Time's out: toads up.


They are not makers. Well, they were not makers. They were barely anything, half forms who had half homes, stepping from here to there, world to world. None ever settled anywhere for long, there were no homes to speak of, no possessions. There were of course places which were THEIRS.

The trails came first, blazed during the hour of light. Those were surprising, alarming, but other than instilling a new anxiety the beings paid them no mind. Sometimes there was a new tree, or sometimes the shadowy grass turned to ash, and they never knew why. They did not have the tools to even voice their concerns about the trails. Now the old hall, yes, that was a game changer.

They did not talk together much before that. This set them chattering with new words. It took a few more farmhouses and small buildings before they figured it out.

There is a world out there with the power to affect their world, to change their world. It's what burned the brush, and it's why trees just appeared. These new structures also just...appeared. The deciding factor seemed to be completeness. Once a structure was finally finished down to the last detail according to its maker's plan, or once a tree had grown to the shape of what some cosmic force thought a tree should be, it would appear here.

This was very advanced theory. Their world was without forest creatures, without anything like a human. There was them, their place, their way, and their strange food. Figuring out that there were creatures with a will behind these happenings was a long road, a deduction of sheer genius.

These new structures aged and crumbled in their world. They ruined the landside and killed many, crushing tunnels, making a mess of things. A cross-dimensional one-sided campaign that the aggressors did not even know they were waging: architectural warfare. There was really only one thing to do. To become. They were not makers.

Something to keep in mind is that these worlds are not the same. Time doesn't sync up, either; their nights were much longer while roughly corresponding to our nights, and the two centuries that went by in the mortal world was closer to a dozen for these things. This meant that any effort to join the conflict would involve generations, and careful planning and consistency, a devotion to things left unfinished. They were unfinished beings, so this was an easy sell.

The first try was the well. When that succeeded they tried something rudimentary: the pyramid. Emboldened, they widened the scope of their projects. A happy coincidence altered and speeded their plans somewhat: this world also had the food. They knew about the food and how it was found in the other worlds they visited, all empty save for they and the food. The food used the door to go from place to place, just as they did. The food was for them to use. They would use the food, the TIME of the food, for their plans.

These beings are not sorcerers but their creations have a profound effect in our world, a kind of alien radiation we have no apparatus for. They believe the distant creatures are brash and dangerous. What better weapon to use against such animals than the animals themselves? Snare them, winnow them down, let them do to each other what they had done to the half-made world. After-effects and curious alterations are a bonus.

They do not come to our world and back. The door is there but they cannot enter through it, we are too different. Their tunnels and their grander creations persist with a strange energy close to their world but that's it. Neither side of this war will ever meet a soldier from the other, they cannot harm one another directly. However, the strange energy their tunnels and grander creations persist with a hum of energy similar to that of those beings. Enough time around it and our shape becomes like a ghost in their world. They become like shadows in ours. They are not ever fully appreciated, fully visualized. They are just shapes, or less than that: mere Glimpses.


The Wall goes up first. It is 30' thick, 500' tall, and made of something which is not stone but which acts like stone. Attacking or casting a spell on the wall will prompt a Magic save. Failure means you undergo a Change. You have to get naked right now, you suddenly shed a hundred pounds, something like that. This seems perfectly normal to you. If your comrades point out the strangeness you will be horrified at how your core self has been so undermined. You will now be aware of this change but helpless to fight it. Your decision whether Remove Curse works or not since this is not a spell effect cast with intent. It is a side effect of strange matter. The Wall is not strong enough to last but, then, it is not meant to last for long.

The Spires appear first in the Weapon Clock. These are great metal skeletons piled high in an area, supported by incomplete scaffolding. In the world of the Glimpsed the scaffolding is clawed away as the Spire is completed, leaving it without any support. They will stand at their strange angles for 10 full minutes in the mortal realm before collapsing. Their component rods can be wielded as clubs or spears. If so then treat anything killed with these as you would a kill from a Blade. Creatures merely crushed by these items in their collapse rot and stench much faster than normal.

The Engines are basically traps that affect a large portion of the area in which they appear. Old standards: rippers and pullers; spikes; pits; blades; crushers. They are some mix of DaVinci diagram and Jigsaw hodgepodge. They are fragile and easily destroyed, disarmed, or otherwise dealt with once you have time to assess them. However, each will trigger as soon as they appear in the mortal world. These start out covering a wider area with deadly damage (like 12d10 or something) and then reduce in size and damage quickly over the iterations. An idea abandoned by the Glimpsed at large, save for a few dedicated murdersmiths who take the design and execution of these devices as an art form themselves, regardless of whether they affect anybody.

The Figures are all half-things, crude simulacrum of the Glimpsed themselves. These begin as a form of communication (WE ARE HERE) but quickly in their development become warnings, brags, declarations of war (WE DID THIS TO YOU). When they first appear all who behold them - not interact with them but all who behold them - must save or have a Change triggered. This power quickly fades but few travelers or citizens will feel comfortable staying in the same region as one for long. They continue to radiate unease. Examination of these will reveal an evolution in tool marks. Things will start out very jagged and experimental, the last few will be refined enough to be more terrifying. Oh also they seem to be made of gold, close enough to fool an alchemist. It's NOT gold, but it's not NOT gold, so that's just as good.

The Blades appear only to those ready to use them, whether that's out of fear, survival instinct, hatred of those one blames, madness, whatever. These are long, flat, sharp, and can be wielded for 1d8. It is wrong to consider them swords in the same way a word is not a book. Any creature you would normally kill with such a weapon instead simply vanish. They're still dead, just outside of the world, not bleeding out but dissolving like a sandcastle. For any PC that dies this way I would have a graphic little paragraph I'd slide them with instructions not to mention what it says. Better if parties waste their time in the hope their fellows can be rescued. Each Blade has its own effect on the wielder and only has one wielder at a time. Roll for effect or choose:
  1. Begins to rot alive
  2. Partial paralysis
  3. Hand fuses to Blade
  4. Floats in random directions 1.5' off the ground
  5. Stand in one place for too long and rats burrow up from the ground, biting everything.
  6. See everyone around already hacked to pieces, thankful for your violence as they bleed, pleading with you to get on with killing now VERY convincingly

The Teachings are a mix of castigation, explanation, propaganda, and religious marker. They take the form of strange writings interlaced with hideous three-dimensional pictograms that look like they were drawn on with juicy hams. A variety of emerging styles will be evident as more appear. Most viewing them will have different interpretations, and will seek like minded persons. Whenever a Teaching is revealed you must recast all of the factions within Crooker's Draw. So, for example, if the rest of the population is united against the fairground folk, you change the faction lines so that Changed people do not trust the normal people any more. Or divide the town, including people with no dog in this fight, between Light's Life and Life's Light. So on and so on. I'm using 2 factions for an example and, sure, for simplicity's sake start out with 2. By the third Teaching, though, splinter that shit but good. In this way allies will be at each other's throats the next day and back in accord the next, their minds trying to make sense of this informational warfare. Long term plans will have to be redrawn. Folk who want to hunker down in safety and ride this out will be torn apart. Try not to use this to split the party up too much.

I never said don't.


When the Wall goes up a lot of fingers get pointed. Some party has to be responsible. Explore a couple of these possibilities and lean into the first one the party responds to: make that a prevailing sentiment, erecting the first schism. Pick another side conflict between two of these parties to act as a distraction, so things are not too easy.

  • Giles Gaunder specifically and his Temple will fall under suspicion once his departure becomes known.
  • Arquon the Red is used to being blamed when things go wrong, so he isn't even surprised when people question whether a wizard did this. A faction to himself, unless other MUs are present (your call).
  • The party themselves are obviously suspect since they are among the first to get really organized and proactive.
  • The festival attendees could have some demon amongst them.
  • The vendors and entertainers never leave the folk at ease to begin with. Just as likely this is some game of theirs.
  • The Freaks in particular are suspected of bringing this down on everyone's head with their blasphemous existence.
  • The caravan which appears out of the lake has some really fishy timing. Probably invaders.
  • The blacksmith's daughters have always been strange ones, refusing to take a man. Now their family harbors some...plague! They have brought it down upon us.
  • Obviously we must ferret out whatever dark deeds and dark dealers have been hidden in the old church, for this is surely damnation for their sins.
  • Rats are always good. The rats are going Ape. Shit. Crazy. with nowhere to escape to. The smart ones will begin to dig. The Glimpsed are down there: better not, whiskery friends.
  • Any of the three nearby kingdoms will be a good scapegoat, with everyone in town from that kingdom being 'one of them.'
  • Tode is a word these people use interchangeably for anything hoppy. If violence is visited upon these masses up their number appearing in response.
  • The dry river bed divides a section of Crooker's Draw off from the rest. It's small. All divisions start small.


Young Master Crooker- Head of Crooker's Estate, not especially young but he insists folk "genially" refer to him as such. This chaos affords him the opportunity to strut, show off his privilege, and indulge a few stranger lusts once the Changes come. He will be hard to win to your side.
Watcher Gobben- Old man, head of the local watch which consists of three standing watchmen, technically in charge of local militia and the added security for the festival. Willing to lend a hand, but also too willing to trust those under his command.
Sack- One-eyed captain of a royal regiment from a neighboring kingdom, sent on a babysitting mission, incredibly peeved. Always one inch away from declaring martial law. More vicious than any mercenary but always adheres to rule of law and chain of command. Lady.
Magister Ubar Bluke- Not a fat man but somehow with the character of one. Manic when the wall goes up, he will agree to any plan that saves 'his' city and its money making festival. Will seek to punish cowardice or failure severely.
Burrabee Bluke- Tailor's apprentice, magister's son, over-eager to show off his plan to bring new life to the fair: the Hoplites. Will be incredibly helpful up until the first time the PCs lose contact with him, then will return MUCH changed. The other Hoplites will come to a similar state soon after.
Centielm- Caravan leader for the folk who came out of Lilypad Lake. She had intended to leave sooner but delayed departure to entertain a romantic pursuit of Snake Boy. Will back a course of action designed to save the caravaners but, if she has to, will personally try to save Snake Boy.
Darf- Blacksmith has had strange skin lesions appearing for a while now, caught after working a strange ore he found in the tunnels past the river bed. Confused and scared he will help anyone who seems like the know more than he does, or anybody who can offer his daughter's escape.
Iwren- A prostitute who has taken over the inn. She offers shelter to any who surrender their weapons. A surgeon with an axe, she strikes down any troublemakers. She and all peace loving folk shall abide the siege in here, thank you.
Leader Fawn- Head of Crooker's Draw and by a damn stretch the sanest person for leagues in any direction. Fawn will record any changes she undergoes with Brundlefly detachment, remaining both analytical and compassionate as long as she can. She will be understanding, insightful, helpful, and a good DM mouthpiece. She will NOT be permissive, and going against her will surely bring chains.
Silak the Great- Not an explorer or magician really, just a gifted surgeon and gifted drunk. His half-creatures feel the danger coming to Crooker's Draw and bolt, causing much consternation even before the wall: freak off the leash! If he survives until the Wall goes up he will probably not survive long enough to sober up.
Arquon the Red- Knows 6 spells and has a big chest of silver hidden somewhere. Possesses a spear that ignores all armor save for leather. Has Vodemarche's skull under his bed. Arquon is fatalistic about all of this, accustomed to being asked to solve problems but well aware that sometimes fate just catches up with you. He will assist for as long as he is able but he puts his life in his hands whenever he casts a REAL spell, so...his days are probably numbered.
Giles Gaunder, Devil, the Anchorite, and other figures of religious authority and avenues for divine intervention are simply dead ends, completely impotent in the face of this siege.


It's possible that the shape of another world slips off of those for whom the shape of this world was insufficient to fully bind and form, like water on a duck. These are unfortunates, some of them magical victims, some of them vivisected, some merely outcast. Changes and the transposition of Blades and the divisions of Teachings will not affect them. Can still get trapped and crushed, though.

Dog Faced Boy- One of Silak's things, just a dog with some brain surgery. Limited vocabulary, tries to walk on hind legs until it loses feeling in them from a bent spine. Lacks tools to convey what it actually fears.
Snake Boy- Scaly, bald, yellow nails and eyes. Female. Plays a pipe and tells fortunes that all have a smear of tragic romance to them. All she has known is this life. Her suitor represents freedom and safety surely as, to Centielm, Snake Boy represents adventure and danger.
Paper Martyr- His skin is so thin, sensitive, brittle, that his act involves cutting great wounds in himself with only a feather. He can crimp these wounds closed and smooth them down later to heal. Life outside the freak shows might easily mean death for him.
Todedamme- Simply a pox scarred young child with lots of small moles. She has been 'crowned' as part of a local tradition. She is miserable but desperate to hold onto her title and prison: her family desperately needs the cut of the gate she's getting.
Wild Man- Just a guy who has freakishly long body hair all over. Billed as a kind of ape man or educated animal, his act has a lot of poetry in it as well as the occasional foaming...He is the smartest of Silak's freaks and though he feels the encroaching counter-world the least of those three he still makes it the furthest away.
Dragon of Ganchor- Big ass lizard, extra bones sticking out of flesh, will die soon. Poisoned by a stomach full of costume jewelry.
Minotaur- Most extensive of Silak's creations, cannot stay standing under its own strength but cannot breathe on all fours. Will hide out in the tunnels uphill. Feels what's coming most acutely, most frightened. Just a Frankensteined bull with a brain too big for its skull.
Visiona- Epileptic with fourteen eyes, most clouded over. Works herself into a fugue by describing horrible things on stage then wigs out. Knows lots of languages. Didn't see ANY of this.
Pin Prick- Metal as fuck.
Jaw Clown.


An invention of Bluke the Younger these are essentially park mascot characters. Big suits that look like frog people, dressed to look like soldiers. He made a lot of these outfits and they range in quality, showing his deepening craft. Saved the grandest for himself of course. Bluke will change the first and most: his movements will become loose, sleepy, and Slinky-like. His outfit will take on stains and start bursting seams. He will not be visible within the costume's slack sack mouth. His clay sword will be replaced by a nice copper one.

There are fourteen Hoplites including their commander. When the Wall goes up only a few will have made themselves known. As the days go by more will appear. "Go be a frog guy" is its own kind of madness and Change. These will move even more grossly, as if the suit is hollow of men and filled with toads and if you feel like it then you should just do that but that is allllll you baby.

Their skin and eyes underneath with take on amphibian qualities but nobody just turns into a frog. You can, however, have one just explode into a bony pulp in the process of trying to turn into a frog. That's way better.

They will roam until addressed or attacked, at which point they will attack, croaking, until killed. Every three rounds roll to see if their battle is joined by more of their kind. If you try to reason with them or help them you attract their attention and they will follow you. They are not on the Encounter table because you need to be judicious about when and where you use them. They are always dingier than last seen and Bluke in particular looks more nightmarish each appearance.


Roll for wandering encounters as necessary. Every two real-world hours roll on this table. Few if any of these will wield weapons that do more than 1d6 and many will have only their bare hands. Those encountered will exhibit at least 1 Change for every day the Wall has been up. Not all will be immediately hostile but they will almost all be prepared to fight if needed. Re-weight this as you feel is needed, I'm tired.

1. Swarm of panicked rats, 4hp per 2d6, AC 10
2. Repenter, 6hp, AC 11, 1d4 appearing
3. Drunk, 10hp, AC 9, 1d6 appearing
4. Deputy, 10hp, AC 13, +1 tohit, 1d6 appearing
5. Soldier, 20hp, AC 16, +2 to hit, 4 appearing
6. Beggar-Thief, 4hp, AC 10, steals object on a hit
7. Dog, 4hp, AC 12, +1 tohit
8. Child, 4hp, AC 8, -3 to hit but double damage, 3d8 appearing
9. Cook, 8hp, AC 9, +3 damage, 1d4 appearing
10. Builder, 10hp, AC 11, +2 tohit
11. Hunter, 20hp, AC 13, +4 tohit ranged, +2 tohit melee, 2 attacks
12. Toad, 1hp, AC 10, 1 damage and effect, 2d4 appearing in town, 3d8 appearing near lake, double appearing night
13. Performer, 6hp, AC 15, 1 will always be clown, 1d12 appearing
14. City clerk, 4hp, AC 8, Sneak Attack
15. Freak, no Change or altered feature, AC 5+1d10, 1d4 appearing
16. Lion, 25hp, AC 13, +2 tohit and damage, 3 attacks, 2 appearing
17. Merchant, 5hp, AC 10, always has bodyguard (choose), 1d4 appearing
18. Craftsman, 4hp, AC 9, 2x non coin loot
19. Farmer, 15hp, AC 12, free attack when killed
20. Glimpse, save or you'll see them again, after 3 failed saves you disappear forever


Attacking the Wall or being in the presence of a Figure triggers a save against a Change. Most folk in town have saves much worse than the party's. These are modifiers to the people Encountered above. Interestingly the Freaks from the festival grounds are immune to these Changes. The amphibians are undergoing their own changes. Roll 2d20 to determine something...OFF about these people or their state of mind.
2. Crying blood
3. Hollow mouth, void of calcium
4. Splinters growing from fingernails
5. Gray skin
6. Golden eyes
7. Voice is crickets
8. Rabid
9. Fast walking, like a poorly cranked silent film
10. Hirsute
11. Noticeably taller
12. Skin sag
13. Albino
14. Pulsing vessels
15. Sharpened teeth
16. Hair clumping out
17. Reek
18. Boils
19. Bites from some unseen insect
20. Scars
21. Burns
22. On all fours
23. Noticeably thinner
24. Aged
25. Nude because wearing anything causes you terror and pain
26. Sleepwalking/entranced
27. Writing, wherever and with whatever
28. Deluded
29. Dead but hasn't noticed
30. Sweating black
31. Jawless
32. No thumbs
33. Big head
34. Terrified
35. So hungry
36. Seriously injured/disfigured
37. Speaking backwards
38. Suicidal
39. Overladen with materials
40. Only animal grunts and screeching


Use whatever stats you want, throwing in an occasional giant after a few days of the Wall being up. These creatures use Lilypad Lake to come and go between otherwise empty worlds like the Glimpsed but are able to enter our world. Not without changes of their own, though: they are devilishly clever, patient, and cruel. The deeper into the timetable you are the freer you should be with mutant frogs, were-frogs, poisonous toads, prehistoric ancestors...there are strange things across infinite ponds.

That is by design, really. The Glimpsed are not the only aggrieved. There is at least one more world connected like these two, only they have both the mortal world's clutter and the Glimpsed plane's horrors visited upon their own home. Their reaction was similar to that of those half-people: retaliation. The Glimpsed used Making. Their unknown enemies used Breeding, a making but in flesh. They have used the food.

No manner of crazy amphibian creation is too crazy to let through the Lake so long as it is open. Do not overdo having weird things show up but show off that they are possible. These are not salvos against the mortal world. They are rockets that overshot London. The final drowning swarm on Todesup, and the strangeness affecting the amphibians and all in their guise, was never a plan of the Glimpsed. Unable to learn any lessons watching the conflicts they caused, the Glimpsed never understood that there is never such a thing as an Only Two Sided War. The city of Crooker's Draw is almost certainly doomed, true. However, an entire world only Glimpsed from ours in shadows has had its doom planned for a long, long time.

Monday, July 17, 2017

MOON SLAVE Spell Failure Table (Wonder & Wickedness/VAM! Style)

Where an individual spell has its own failure table always use that one first, coming back to this one if referred. Otherwise just use this one straight. I often use the shorthand of "smoke, nightmares, and witches" to explain the spheres Moon Slave governs. This does not mean it is a god of all magic or that he is some source of all magic in a Dragon article kind of way. It does mean that he wants more magic and more powerful magic in the world. He takes magic's use, especially dangerous magic or magic ill-applied, as a form of worship. It will not be denied the spread of his worship just because YOU fucked something up. There is no "the spell just doesn't go"/"you lose the spell" option.

My spell failure is going to have three extra rules:

1) If you survive until your sixth spell failure an aspect of Moon Slave shall appear in a plume of flame. It will cast one spell of its own and then vanish. You're on warning.

2) Performing a blood and burn sacrifice to Moon Slave beforehand lets you modify your roll against spell failure. This bonus equals the number of living beings with Hit Dice you just sacrificed. No partial hit dice like rats or worms.

3) If you kill a creature in 1 blow and by your own hand then you get another Safe Spell for the day.

On your 66th spell failure congratulations: Moon Slave appears and begins a slow march to claim you.

1. Something in the environment which would not normally burn catches fire for 1d6 rounds.
2. Caster loses 10kg. This is not so bad at first but repeatedly getting this result will have you slowly waste away from magic. No amount of pastry will fatten you up when magic eats you from the inside.
3. Area fills with choking smoke, Poison save to keep from being helpless while hacking and retching, completely obscures vision, lasts for a minute or until otherwise dissipated.
4. Spell is cast but it dulls all blades in your party, -1 to hit and damage until each blade is sharpened again.
5. Caster falls asleep for 5 minutes or until awakened, has horrible dreams.
6. Any coins you have melt, any paper money or marques you have burn.
7. Caster's name changes, but they don't know what their new name is. Their party members have always known them by this new name. Cannot cast spells if you don't know your own name.
8. -1 Constitution until your next bad dream. This stacks over time.
9. Full darkness. If torches or lanterns are lit they snuff, if the sun is shining bright above the sky instead appears like starless black. 1 mile radius.
10. Spell succeeds but treat as immediately triggering a wandering/patrol failure. You've got company.
11. Bat swarm, obeying no master.
12. The opposite of this spell's effect occurs. Light becomes dark, fire becomes ice, death becomes life, lightness becomes crushing gravity, etc.
13. Spell targets a random creature in line of sight, even if spell can normally only affect the Caster or a touch target.
14. A weeping apparition appears and follows you, soundlessly screaming. Every time you get a spell failure between now and the next black moon another will appear whether you roll this result or not. Everyone can see them but you.
15. A dead person returns to life - mostly - for a day. They know and will tell that you are the cause.
16. 13 witchfinders appear, confused and angry.
17. Hurricane storms manifest, out of all control. If this happens in an enclosed space you're pretty screwed.
18. Spell debt: lose one Safe Spell from your next alottment. Spell still fails.
19. Spell casts. Roll for a random spell. That spell also casts, affecting the same target or affecting a random target
20. Spell fails. Summon, Wish, and Permanency cast instead, in that order.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Elves Are Over

Day drinking. Let's write.

SO: elves are the best at fighting and the best at exploring dungeons for secrets and the best at magic and the best at fighting undead critters and the best at surviving being stabbed and they don't even get sleepy.

That is boring. As editions pile up (and an important factor: as D&D novels pile up) elfs get all sorts of other cool shit. Even before Orlando Bloom comes along elfs are all stunning and cool and Above.

I don't need class as a class. "I rolled up metropolitan aristocracy!" Hell with that. And none of this really underlines the cool shit we associate with elfs.

Elfs are one with the forest, one with nature. Their step is a cloud, unheard and unseen. They are so perceptive as to be difficult to lay a hand on. They are so graceful as to save themselves from certain death. They're swift. They're really great at shooting you from a distance. That's an elf all right.

Except in BX or LotFP none of that is an elf. That's a FUCKING Hobbit.

I find it exceedingly weird that hobbits are still in the game. I do not MIND it at all, especially since all halflings are cowboys (which is another article I guess). It's just strange that they're in there in the first place from exactly one (1) point of reference where dwarfs and elfs are recommended by a plethora of myth and traditions. Gnomes, even, or a T&T style leprechaun, sure, but hobbits is weird.

I can also say that in all my years of running and playing I have never run for nor played with another character who was playing a halfling. I know one guy who played an elf and one gal who played a drow. I think a lot of this owes to the idea that people like their character to be thought of as a badass and nobody, after 6 big movies not counting the other adaptations, thinks hobbits are badass. Another factor is that elfs always take forever to level. It's the one thing they aren't best at, really.


If you want to play a halfling that's fine, play a dwarf and call it a halfling and give it different languages and requirements and shit. Hell we can make a pretty good damn halfling this way, yknow? Another solution is to just...not. If a player asks about hobbits then you can spin them one on the fly but let the work you put into it correspond to how often it comes up.

Elfs should be both fierce and fragile, like nature. Like a thorn tangle, brittle but lacerating. They should feel like I'm going to bump into them in a misty vale, not like I'm going to bump into them on the Justice League satellite.

Elfs are halflings now.

Don't like the halfling weapon restriction? Ignore it. Or just make longbows a specific exception: longbow and all one handed weapons. Or make it a reward: a lot of people don't even use BX/s bonus XP rules these days so if you have Dexterity 13 you don't get extra XP you get longbow proficiency. Or keep it and recast your mind-elf: elfs are 5', reedy, and at 5th level they all start growing horns. Or just accept that your damage output with a shortbow for BX or LotFP are the same as a longbow and you're really just trading off some extra distance at long range, then just use a shortbow. Leave longbow use to be another special thing for the Fighter to have, greedy guts.

The best thing about this change is it's so EASY. I could probably whip up a quick-n-dirty DnD PHB in like 1000 words. Most of us could. And it could have all these fun spins on these old types of guy. It's just....who needs that? If I want to play old school dnd right now I have SEVENTEEN or so rulesets on my computer including the originals. Fuc. k. This way you just go, "we do this now," and then you do this now.

My table is not Kiel's table is not Katie's table is not Claude's table: maybe your party is swimming in halflings or, one shudders, swimming with elves. Everyone's happy with things as they are. Good on yer.

I want to do things this way because rolling up an elf, even one of those fun new random elfs, feels like making something connected to Elf Kind in a very Deep Space Nine kind of removed way; rolling up a halfling, absent of enough other connotations, feels like making something connected to Jules Bass. I want to roll up an elf that feels connected to the W O R L D. This lets me do that in a sentence:

From now on all elfs use the character builds for halflings instead.

and some of them are FUCKING BRUNETTE.

The Face of Edsu Voi

In the beginning there was nothing.
Outside the nothing were gods, the beings who made all things possible by their existence. That is, the act of their existence, the moment of their existence: they were, and the universe therefore was. Cause not separated from effect. Each all powerful yet always there is a first among equals.

Think back to the great idea you had, never acted on, then one day it's being advertised on late night television. Inside a year it's in every store. Inside three every home in the country has it in their cabinets. Think about the time you forgot the name of that one guy from your favorite movie. It's your favorite ever, how could you forget his name? You know you can remember it if they just give you the chance. They don't, and now you look like a schmuck.

In the beginning there was nothing. You were the ultimate unrealized potential. You dwelt within the halls in yourself for time out of meaning, meaning out of time. The riddle of your existence was the riddle of the universe. Knowing it is knowing the shape of the perfect world. You are so close. When you know the world will begin, the perfect world, you are so close and...

Think back to the time you were just about to create the universe and then some other fucker jumped in and ruined it.

We were so close to the perfect world of Edsu Voi. Edsu Voi was so close to the perfection of being Edsu Voi perfected. Now reality was locked into a course of inevitable entropy and destruction, and she along with it. This did not deter Edsu Voi, who resolved even before the fires settled to save the universe, to save all life forever, to save herself and her brother gods, and to make everything as right as it was meant to be.

She would do this by aiding entropy, speeding extinction, beckoning disaster...subtly, always; not causing bedlam or outright killing kingdoms but stalling and thwarting the efforts of those who would hold back the unavoidable decay of all. Everything would be terrible eventually, which meant that, later, everything would be okay. There would be nothing then, and by that point Edsu Voi would have worked out the answer to her riddle. Every person would be the perfect person they should have been, every sunset more glorious than the last, forever.

Some people did not appreciate her hand in things and avenged their lieges and loved ones upon Edsu Voi. Avalanches she set in motion thousands of years ago are still toppling over but she has been dead above ground for a century, the light not gone from her eyes, still breathing her last rattle while her breast and throat are impaled on a mountain range. Still thinking about that perfect world...

You could do what she could not: use her knowledge, her power, her vision, but with an eye of mercy and acceptance for the world that is. You could make everyone safe. You could also hook your fingers into the strings woven for epochs, connected to puppets not to be born for an age, and with a great heave pull everything apart, dragging the world into ash and cold.

First you have to get inside her head. The gods are not big on figurative language so pack some rope and a pickaxe.

The Corner of Her Eye

Edsu Voi saw things we could not. The shape of things that should have been. Everything that could ever be for everything that ever was. That is how she saw her killers: not as the desperate or the lucky but as demigods (no, gods themselves), perfect agents of order and power. They killed her with the knowledge of what they might have been. Few who dare strike against the gods ever survive this hubris, and the killers of Edsu Voi are no different...

The eye is like a mirror. The eye is like a camera. The eye is like neither of these. The eye is an aperture through which light plays shapes, light which may burn forever. The eyes of gods are a thing above, as is the light of the gods, and so the shadows burned forever there are deeper darks. Some burn there still.

Burning light and searing god-thought: to see and know a thing for Edsu Voi was to see all possibilities. The degenerate, the nonviable, the diseased and mutated, the wracked and monstrous. Her murderers were able to destroy Edsu Voi because she saw herself in them. She was avenged after her killers saw themselves in her. A reflection out of shape, warped backwards glint, in the corner of her eye.

The Skin of Her Teeth

The gods were born ready to eat. They were born with their senses to experience the world they made (and by which they were made). They were born with a flesh form to interact with that world. They were born with bones to support that form. The gods were also born with teeth and teeth are only there to kill or destroy with. Teeth are a core principle of the universe, as much as gravity or fire.

You are a thing without a mind which has existed since before minds in the conventional sense. You are an elemental form of the universe which has done one thing for time immaterial. Now you aren't.

This won't do at all. Still, one must change with the times.

From your flesh is born a new life, the only life Edsu Voi truly has left in her. All they are is Eat. They are indiscriminate. They have turned on the body of Edsu Voi herself but they are glad of any new meat, such as the things which show up to naturally degrade and decay the body of Edsu Voi...or those who come to plunder her.

These Eat grow in strange directions, little monsters budding off of them. They, like all in Edsu Voi, are slowly fading from this world. Rotting. They fight this as they have done everything since time started up: Eat. Your flesh is appreciated but it's not why they're chasing you. It's not what they need, what fills them with blood and skin...after a fashion.

They smell your bones. They want to drink them. They vampires of calcium, they stalagmite lopers, the hunger of all space, the skin of her teeth.

The Back of Her Mind

The gods hold grudges better than most because the gods remember everything. This was doubly true for Edsu Voi, she who hates all creation for its own good from beyond her open grave. Every world have the watched scoured of life and thought. One another have they all glimpsed being born, in the fullness of their glory and worship and power, and at the precipice of nothingness. It should not need explaining, in the arteries of Edsu Voi, that the gods themselves can die. There are kinds of death, though. Some gods die while they are still alive. Some gods die when they are utterly forgotten by the rest of the universe.

Gods remember everything.

The fatty gray within Edsu Voi's skull writhes angrily and urgently. It pulses with a sense of No. No, Do Not Forget Us. The mind of a god is final temple and consecrated crypt of a hundred smaller gods, weaker gods, those cast out by their believers or lost to cataclysm. The forcibly forgotten have refuge in the temple of the eternals only, but the inkling of their memory will not last without the considered nostalgia of infinity. No, No Do Not Forget Us.

Each great deed they died before working, every miracle or smiting that never happened, the fear and love they never had, the memories of the gods long for all these things. Here in the mental temple they will be just ravenous for anyone who can know them, understand them, listen to them. The thought of them will lodge itself in your mind, riding you out into the world. For those willing to be their arm and pledge their service? For them, these one mighty will pledge themselves with equal fervor. They long for life and scream for worships, silently, trapped in thunder and thought at the back of her mind.

The Bridge of Her Nose

You are not the first to see the opportunity afforded by the corpse of Edsu Voi. A great expedition was mounted for the cost of a castle, quartered here on the face of Edsu Voi. The walls of this camp were made thick against the dangers inherent in life on a god. When forces from within and without, horrible creatures and others seeking power or fortune, laid siege to this modest keep a surprising thing happened: those within the fortress survived. The dangers atop the mountains, on the face of Edsu Voi, conspired so to frustrate one another. Slowly the weapons and camps meant to crumble this camp have instead been bolted on at crude angles as inexpert expansions.

Many have come to her seeking sanctuary since. They have been turned away. Some have come hoping to sack her, reap the rewards of other people's labor. They have been denied. A very few mad persons for reasons lost to the distant kingdoms whence they hail have scaled the mountains and dared the climb up Edsu Voi to offer their body and soul in defense of this strange bastion. They have been welcomed in with open arms.

Within this keep they are drilling down. They will harvest the wisdom and might of Edsu Voi from within their unassailable shell, the execution of their mad grand scheme made possible by the protection of the men who hold the bridge of her nose.

The Ringing in Her Ears

The creating of all for all time was a cacophonous affair, most people agree. They don't know the half of it. The divine sound of the gods scream singing themselves into being, the worlds wrapped around them like a pearl, shakes inside the walls of every tree, rock, fire, wind. This is figurative, but the gods are not. In every supplication, each sacrifice, all calamity or music, they hear echoes of the chime of creation.

Some surmise that it is the sound of themselves being created which sustains the gods, confers their divinity. This is not quite true but it is true enough to go looking.

In the bedlam of the world-making reverberations which still thrum in the deep reaches of her skull pilgrims to Edsu Voi revel in a limited godhood. They hear in the whispers of the cosmos the recipes of all making. The miracles they can perform, the wonders they can achieve! They are gods and they are prisoners, for when they venture outward and the echo in her bones fades so does the magic of their divinity. Miracles undone, starved for the power their skin knew moments ago, near deaf to all other sensation, they scramble back desperately to reclaim the music of the spheres.

They are a small and cramped pantheon there. Junkies for sacred transcendence. Addicts to the ringing in her ears.

The Question On Her Lips

The easiest means of entry to Edsu Voi is through her great mouth, which is haunted by the literal spirit of the Perfect Edsu Voi, the dying breath of Edsu Voi hanging still in the air. The Herself she once intended to raise can now never be unless formed in the shape of space by another; she is almost nonexistent, but is glimpsed and known by few, will be glimpsed and  known by many more, and so in this way endures.

She will challenge any who come, forbidding them her power. She has knowledge of each person she meets, as well as everything which has happened or will happen to her corpse. This is rumored. If the intruders ignore her, she will plainly make this known. She trades a question for a question: she will ask you something and your answer buys you an answer from her. What drives you? What do you seek within? In what manner shall you prevail? This is a saccharine trap. Save to ignore temptation and walk away. Answer, forfeiting your chance at escape, and forfeit some aspect of yourself. Your courage drives you; now you have lost it. You seek raw power; the power of Edsu Voi engulfs you. You shall use powerful magics of the Archdeacon's Fleshbook; there is no more power in your mind, and the beings within may use these magics against you.

Everything you give of yourself is taken by the potential of Edsu Voi. As it grows in strength so does the actuality of Edsu Voi. Feed her ghost long enough and the flesh will know its old life

and so in this way endures through the question on her lips.

The Pain In Her Neck

Doldr Drumn. Doldr Dreng. Doldr Ddi. Crown peaks of the Doldr mountain range, the Angry Sisters of local folklore, boundary of living rock between Irium and Belene. The faces of these mountains were alive with small villages despite the dangers of lurking near the summit. It is upon these Angry Sisters that Edsu Voi is impaled.

Parties from both Irium and Belene have been dispatched to claim the secrets of Edsu Voi or merely mine her god flesh. Some of these parties even returned with value to show for their efforts. Both city-states lay claim to ownership of a goddess. The hill people whose homes were destroyed when Edsu Voi was destroyed have become desperate and scavenging refugees barred from both sides. On these, Edsu Voi takes pity, and they roam within her looking for food, shelter, or solace. They are tired of despair and as hungry as feral dogs.

Within the mountain the golden blood of the Doldr churns and reaches, angrily, up through the crust of the world, out through the skin of a god. Seeking and burning, these scorching shapes pull parts of her down into the heart of the world for fuel, powering the battle within the mountain against the strain of a goddess' weight.

Wolves take refuge in caverns made of meat.

Those who do not respect the dangers inherent in desecrating a god are likely doomed to a speedy demise. Those who think themselves the only persons clever or desperate enough to do so find themselves in a world of pain in her neck.

The Tip of Her Tongue

The promise of Edsu Voi is a word of perfect creation. She has been waiting to speak it for almost the life of the universe. With this power one can become their perfect self, or unmake the world by remaking it from underneath: everything that is and was still stands save for a few certain changes designed by the speaker. Perhaps the unmaking of something is enough of a prize to be won.

To find the raw energy of creation within Edsu Voi and to not only locate but understand the perfect schema she devised would be a feat unparalleled in our time. Will the power fall to some despot if you do not act? Will some lucky idiot waste the fortunes of the gods on avarice or caprice? Even if one did not desire the fruits of godly power to stand idly by while those unscrupulous and unworthy claimed it to the ruin of nations would be an apex sin.

Someone can rewrite the world. Who would you permit to speak the secret Edsu Voi has kept for ages, the almost-universe on the tip of her tongue?