30 September, 2017

#DIY30 #29

29. Goblins are great. Why or why not?

Silly question, of course they are.

Here's my Goblin Tarot... I wouldn't have created 78 images for just any old race...


29 September, 2017

Observing the Observations

This is one of those images that I look at every couple of weeks just to see if people are actually looking at the blog, and to see how much interest there is in the various topics I've covered over the years.

The other chart I look at shows which particular posts are getting the most views.
In the top 10 posts, seven are from my Map drawing tutorials. What's probably more surprising is the degree to which that number 1 post is ahead of the others, while the differences between posts 2 to 9 only steadily decrease. 

When I look at sources of traffic, recent months have seen a lot of Pinterest links, but a few other people's blogs have linked to me. So I'd like to offer a special thankyou to them, in no particular order.

Tabletop Diversions - John Yorio's blog which covers a range of topics across the gaming spectrum. 
Rab's Geekly Digest - which seems to foctus on miniatures and the warhammer range of games (rpg and otherwise) among other parts of the gaming hobby.
Stonewerks - AJ seems to have finished writing this blog in 2014, but for some reason it's still directing people my way. This blog seems to cover more in the way of geomorphs and mapping. 
The Dark Dungeon - an aggregator organised by Jaap de Goede, with over 2000 blogs on it, roughly half in English, and the majority of them game related in some way.
Blessings of the Dice Gods -  predominantly OSR related blog by Jeff Russell, where this blog is one of the "followed" blogs that isn't particularly OSR focused. 

(EDIT: How could I forget one of the biggest sources of taffic to my site for a few years now... the RPG Bloggers Network, who send a few hundred visitors each month in my direction.)

#DIY30 #28

28. What's a really cool imaginary place you've made up? Draw a map of it. Don't worry it's just a map. E'rybody can make maps.

Oohhh... don't know if I can draw maps, this one could be tricky.

Here's a few cool places I've made up over the years.

This is the setting I've developed for the LARP I've been running over the past 2 years.

This is the tilted world from my white whale project, Walkabout. 

One of many steampunk settings I've helped work on over the years...this one for a graphic novel and film script project that fell through.

Part of a collaborative world project from over a decade ago. I've got no idea if the setting is still active, but it was fun to work on for a few years.

A Foxes Guide to Relationship Maps (Part 2)

I think that one of the reasons I don't like certain crunchy styles of game is the fact that I like to keep the flow of a story happening. I don't mind looking up a reference if two minutes of page flipping will stop five minutes of arguing later... I don't even mind ten minutes of page flipping during the early stages of a game, before the atmosphere has been established and the intensity of play begins. It might even be feasible to look up books when characters are engaging on shopping expeditions (reflecting their exploration of the local markets and seeing what might be available)...or during those phases of the game when investigation is occurring and the characters have their heads in books or staring into computer screens as they work out how to proceed... But as soon as things get good, I don't like taking a break from the continuity to look up a table with results which get me to roll on a variety of second tables. Especially in the middle of a combat, or a chase scene, or some other instance where the immersion is key.

This idea informs most of my game design and game running. Start slow, ramp up as the session continues. It's not so much a case that the game needs to be simple, just simple enough that confusion can be generally avoided. So my relationship maps follow the same general principles.

At the end of the first installment, we had a very basic relationship map consisting of a few people and the central element that they revolve around.

But this doesn't really tell us very much beyond the fact that relationships exist, and therefore isn't really that useful for referencing purposes. That means we need to start adding some of the details that actually become useful during play.

The first of these that I add is simply to add a tick to certain relationship lines to indicate a positive connection between the two parties, or a cross to indicate a negative relationship. If you're using coloured pens for your maps, you might make the positives green lines and the negatives red.

To add a bit more dynamism to this map, I've also thrown in a second faction of connected characters. Perhaps this relationship map reflects a pair of opposing character groups involved in a gang war or some other kind of conflict. 

Then we connect the two clusters of characters, reinforcing the fact that they are in tension with one another by applying negative markers to most of the relationship lines connecting members of the groups. Again, because it makes things a bit more interesting, you'll note that I've added a positive relationship between Gwenivere and Spider (arcing over the top). We don;t know why that relationship is positive, but there's probably some good story to be explored there. 

Next, I like to make different degrees of relationship. Not everyone knows each other to the same degree. Some relationships are vague connections, some are very close and intimate. I've made the strongest relationship connection into a triple line, in this map it's the relationship linking the bartender with the bar. Other strong relationships have been turned into double lines, with typical relationships retaining the single line. I've also added a few dotted lines to represent some loose relationships that might not mean anything, but could possibly be used as avenues of story exploration as a session unfolds. 

If I was in a hurry, this is typically where I'd leave a relationship map. There are degrees of intimacy, and a general idea of where the conflicts and alliances might lie.

The map doesn't cover dozens of people, it's more specific to a single story or session. A few of these people might appear in a completely different relationship map fr a different session. For example the rivalry between Percival Cho and Mephisto Green (at the bottom of the map) might appear in a completely different relationship map where these two characters are linked to elements that might play a central role in a completely different session. You don't need to map all the variables and all the characters on a relationship map, just the ones that you'll be using now. 

28 September, 2017

A Foxes Guide to Relationship Maps (Part 1)

A couple of days ago I went through the process I'd follow when creating a relationship map for a game. This was specifically done for the Dispatch Guide for "The Law" which I've been working on.

The development of this relationship was done on my electronic whiteboard, with board captures done at a few intervals to explain the process and why certain design decisions were made.

After posting a few photographs of the board, it became obvious that a lot of people were familiar with the concept of relationship maps, but quite a number of people either hadn't completely grasped how useful they could be, or how to make them work for their own games.

One of the more interesting comments repeated by a few people linked back to the idea of "I have too many NPCs in my games, my relationship maps would be too complicated, therefore I don't bother with them."

Honestly, if you have that many NPCs in your games, how do you keep track of them? If you don't keep track of them, how do you make sure they don't get forgotten? If they do get forgotten, wouldn't you like a way to remind you of them and how they connect in to the network of relationships around them? If you don't care whether they get forgotten, why write them up in the first place?

I'll answer a few of those questions in this series of posts. But the general gist is that I write enough of a relationship map to cover a specific situation, maybe a specific session or scenario, maybe the interactions within a faction, or the interplay between characters in a pair of factions...if it gets more complicated than that I'll break the relationship map into a number of separate maps. The aim is to make a tool that improves and streamlines the play experience with quickly accessible reference materials, not to bog things down.

Let's begin.

I start with a simple concept that links a few people or ideas. In this example I'm using a bar. I start by giving it a name and a vague location.

The first people indicated on the map are linked to the bar in some way. I cluster them around the point where the bar is marked. The majority of detail about these characters would be found on their respective character sheets so there isn't much need to provide everything about the characters here, just a name, a two word (adjective and noun) description of them, and because this is for "The Law", and indication of their caste/cultural background, and maybe an extra word that gives a bit of a reminder on how they are intended to be played 

Another person is added a bit further away, because they aren't as closely linked to the bar.

Next, I'll add the lines that link distinct elements of the map with relationships. Not every character needs to be linked to every other, they all get linked to the core element (in this case, the bar). But it's actually more interesting to have some of the people in the map unlinked. They may still know each other (after all they're all connected to the bar), but they don't know everyone well enough to justify a distinct relationship within the narrative (or impacting the game mechanisms).

(To be continued)

#DIY30 #27

27. So what's with that overly-elaborate locked box?

Oh, that one? 

For generations, the Guild of Locksmiths has had a final test that allows an apprentice to attain the rank of journeyman. It looks simple enough, an apprentice just needs to open the elaborate box, and they pass the test. There's a slight catch though, open it incorrectly and one of the many mystic wards will activate... roll a d6 to see what happens.

  1. The box instantly becomes red hot, the apprentice takes minor damage, but any lockpicking tools used are instantly melted and rendered useless.
  2. The box crackles with St Elmo's Fire, the apprentice is electrocuted for minor damage, and is stunned for a few minutes.
  3. The box vanishes, along with any lockpicking tools touching it... it appears again after d6 hours.
  4. The box seeps a greenish mist through it's cracks, there is a chance that the apprentice breathes it in and passes out for d6 minutes, then suffers a disadvantage to anything involving stamina/endurance/constitution for d6 hours after that.
  5. The box is instantly engulfed in intense light. The apprentice is blinded for d6 minutes after this, and suffers a disadvantage on all vision/perception tests for d6 hours after that.
  6. The box opens, but the apprentice has no idea how they did it...in fact their entire locksmithing apprenticeship has been wiped from their memory.

Under the rules of the Guild, an apprentice might have attempted to open the box annually, if they failed to do so they'd have to wait another year (refining their skills in the meantime) before attempting again. 

26 September, 2017

#DIY30 #26

26. Your childhood pet is now a monster. How is it going to kill me? 

I never really had a childhood pet.

Does my lack of a pet kill you with it's oblivion to the material universe?

Or do I go with the first pet I got as an adult?

Ōkami is certainly more dynamic than a void of nothingness.

But in this picture it looks like the same sense of nihilism will completely obliterate anything it touches.

#DIY30 #25

25. The last thing you drank is a potion. What are it's effects?

A potion of enhanced alertness and motivation.

Poured into the lips of a recently deceased corpse, this restores them to life for a single day. The following day another draught of the potion will be required, but as long as the potion continues to be taken orally the subject may remain alive indefinitely.

Drunk by a living person, this potion enhances speed and alertness for a half hour. Of course the problem is that after that half hour there is a chance that fatigue may set in.

25 September, 2017

No revision where revision is unnecessary

I was about to revise my game "Tales", but I realised that I had done this last year.

The post for the revision can be found here.

My intention was to bring the Tales idea into line with what I've been working on for "The Law", perhaps shifting the Tales brand to encompass each of the subsettings that I'm hoping to in orporate into the Urban Megalopolis/Sprawl (I can't flat out call the setting "The Sprawl" be ause there's another game already doing well under that name...despite the number of people who tread on my toes by calling their games "FUBAR"...but that's another rant entirely).

I guess the whole point of this post is that I'm considering a simple, open source system reference document for The Law and it's associated game lines. This means I've been pulling apart the elements of the game based on the play sessions I've run and the feedback I've received from other people. This system reference should boild down to no more than a pocketmod explaining the framework for characters, a pocketmod explaining the core systems of play, another explaining magic and paranormal powers, one for describing how the overall structure of a play session works, and maybe one or two others to cover things I haven't considered. "Tales" seemed like a nice generic title for this project, but it's a generic title that I've gravitated towards for a while, and have obviously used too often already.

Time to move on, and find a new name for a generic game system.

24 September, 2017

#DIY30 #24

24. If the object closest to your left hand right now was a magic item in your campaign, what would it do?

Calling her an object is a bit harsh... but the true question here is "what wouldn't Pirate Rosalie do?"

She is already an escape artist extraordinaire, a master climber, a stealthy ninja and achilles tendon assassin. Adding magic to her repertoire would probably make her like a Blink-dog, capable of teleporting herself even more quickly than she does already...actually there are certain dys when I'm sure she already has this power. Perhaps she'd talk, but she's pretty stubborn and ADHD... ther's a good chance she wouldn't bother talking to "the boring giants" anyway. So maybe she's already got that power too.

23 September, 2017

Experiment Success

Today I tried a variant in my LARP running style...Basically running the LARP as a live action tabletop session. Normally I'd set up an ecosystem of play, and let the players make deals with one another, or throw twists into the session to keep everyone on their toes; but this time I basically split the group into two halves, with one group running PCs who ran through a linear quest of 8 scenes while the other half played NPCs for them... then after lunch switched everyone around.

For a group of a dozen players, this worked well and I'll certainly do it again.

I don't think the game should regularly shift to this format, but for one off special events, it makes a nice change of pace.

#DIY30 #23

23. How should gods work in a game?

This really depends on what the game is trying to say. Based on the way the question is worded, it's safe to assume we aren't discussing a monotheistic setting.

The presence of clerics, paladins, divine and infernal magic users also plays a part in how gods might work in a game.

I always liked the idea of gods who gain power from the belief of their followers...the more followers, the more power the god has...but the more followers a god has, the more an individual follower needs to do in order to gain their deity's notice.

So, let's say every doubling of follwers increases a god's power level by a degree.
1 follower = lvl 1
2 followers = lvl 2
4 followers = lvl 3
8 followers = lvl 4
1024 followers = lvl 11
2048 followers = lvl 12

Gods form pantheons because a follower's belief in a pantheon counts as a half measure for all allied deities. They fight within pantheons for the biggest share of follower power, pantheons fight each other for the same reason but at a much larger scale.

Gods cannot fight each other except through their followers. They grant miracles to their mortals to advance their faithful and expand their influence, they need to grant these miracles sparingly, because they need the divine energy of the faithful to remain relevnt to their flock. A miracle used today migh mean that a miracle can't be used tomorrow when another god's seizmic disruption threatens to kill a large percentage of one's flock.

God's are in it for the long game, and as long as they've still got a single follower, they might be capable of becoming a powerful force in the future. This could be detailed far more, and there are numerous games I could write about this concept.

22 September, 2017

#DIY30 #22

22. Describe Milk Demons for me. What do they do, what are their names, what do they taste like? 

Milk Demons are a subclass of imps. Where imps are typically affiliated with the major elements, Milk Demons are one of the many impling forms related to non-elemental forms of matter. In most cases, Milk Demons are named for the effects they apply to milk when they die immersed in dairy. So there's Yoghurt, Edam, Gouda, and Haloumi, among others. If it weren't for Milk Demons, these dairy byproducts would not be possible, which is a carefully guarded secret among dairy farmers across the world.

It is rumoured that there are obscure forms of Milk Demons which turn into the most exquisite desserts if they are boiled alive in milk, but any truth to that rumour has never been confirmed.

21 September, 2017

#DIY30 #21

21. Most unexpected spell that helped you get past the walls of the Fortress of See.

The fireballs were definitely useful as we approached the fortress and confronted the Guardians of the Sacred City, the levitation spells would have been useful to get over the walls but the nega-psychoc barriers prevented almost every form of magic from working. The only spell that did seem to work was that odd little Chance Minutiae spell that Devali concocted a few years ago. We left it running for a few hours just beside the wall, returning to the spot only to find that the thaumivorous nature of the spell actually ate away chunks of the wall, leaving enough opening for us to crawl through the wall and into the fortress.

20 September, 2017

#DIY30 #20

20. Describe a mechanic you would put into your Science Fiction Heartbreaker. 


Oh, maybe you mean a game mechanism...

There are a lot of ideas that have already been incorporated into science fiction games over the years. But most of them are generally ignored during the course of play...so I guess the question is what I'd make sure appeared in a heartbreaker, and what the definition of a heartbreaker is. One of the many definitions of a heartbreaker is the kind of game that basically replicates an existing game, but renames a variety of elements and adds one or two specific twists to the game mechanisms to claim the game as "original". The whole of the OSR is basically heartbreakers.

What are we trying to emulate with this game? What type of science fiction?

If we have multiple races, I'd want to make sure they were alien and exotic to each other. Roleplaying to me is about getting into alternate thought patterns to explore ideas outside your regular identity and paradigm. I like the idea of paths of enlightenment in the Sabbat books from Vampire: the Masquerade. They are designed to be ways that control behaviour outside a humanistic paradigm. Some have similarity to humanity, many are very different. So I'd throw a few paths like this into the game, requiring non-humans to follow one of them as a reflection of their different mind-set. Maybe a single path per alien race, but probably a few related paths for each alien race (and a few similar paths for humans to choose from).

For truly different racial perspectives, I'd limit in-game speech to a word or two between characters at most. Only those who share ideals and agendas would have enough commonality in their thought patterns to meaningfully communicate with each other.

#DIY30 #19

19. What single change would you make to a popular D&D setting and why?

My gut reaction to this one is to change the mechanisms of play rather than change the settings. I want to change the way spell slots work, and simply run with a magic energy pool that is drained by casting spells and recharged according to your chosen style of magical pursuit... but that's not what the question is asking.

My second rection is to change any one (or more) of the settings, and completely remove humans from it. I like what Dark Sun did to elves in the setting, I love the diversity of new races available in Planescape, I never really got into Eberron (because I had a falling out with the regular gaming group that I was a part of at the time when it was big, and never really got into a new regular group until it had somewhat subsided), but I'd love to have pushed any of these settings the next step further...making them a bit more exotic by simply pulling out the humans...either by a massive catastrophic spell effect or plague that wiped them out over a matter of days then playing with the resultant aftermath, by filling an alternate race into the niches typically held by humans, or by logically working through how the setting might have developed if humans were never there in the first place.

Perhaps humans are inextricably linked to the prime material plane, they can handle brief forays into planar regions, but gradually become weakened if they don't have a physical anchor (which gradually rots away as a sacrificial anode to prevent their own soul from being destroyed by the lack of prime energy in the realms of Planescape). Perhaps they need to wear cumbersome suits like those old diving suits if they want to survive for more than a few minutes away from the prime material... astral projection might work too, but that has it's own issues.

Humans are too prevalent...I understand why, it's generally because they function as a narrative anchor for the setting. A guage by which to measure the other levels of strangeness in the settings, but I think we've moved beyond the need for that in every single setting.

19 September, 2017

#DIY30 #18

18. The wizard has researched a new spell named “Chance Minutia.” What does the spell do?

Chance Minutiae is the micro-transaction bitcoin engine of the magic world. Most wizards don't notice it, it just ticks away in the backgrounds, gathering momentum slowly while magical effects unfold around it. It doesn't seem to do anything useful at all to those capable of sensing magic (or those who cast detect magic around it), and for that reason it's generally ignored. Every time a magical effect fails in the vicinity of the spell, the magic energy is still released... this spell simply absorbs a tiny a ount of the excess magic energy and funnels it to a storage cell amulet. The more common effect of the spell (and the effect for which it was named) relies on those magics that manipulate probability in it's vicinity. Every time a magical effect distorts probability (by increasing or decreasing a die result by a minor amount), this spell absorbs some of the probability flux energy. Not enough to make a successful action associated with the spell fail, and if a magical effect has been used to make an opponent's action fail, this won't draw enough flux energy to make it succeed again. It just syphons a point off the top.

In areas where spells of this nature are being regularly cast, Chance Minutiae might syphon a single point of probability flux energy every half hour or so (Roll a d6 every ten minutes, on a 6 a point of energy is gained...in a wizard school it might increase to one roll every five minutes, in a generally non magical area it might only be one roll every half hour). At the end of the spell's duration, the wizard casting the spell may modify the die roll of a single action by the total number of flux energy points accumulated by the spell while it has been operating.

From little things, big things grow.

17 September, 2017

Instant Kill

In D&D, once you get past level 3 or so, it gets really hard to be killed with a single hit, beyond level 5 or so (and certainly beyond level 10) it's pretty much impossible. Characters reach a point where the number of hit points to take them down just can't really be dealt by an opponent in a single blow.

Some people like this, some people don't and there are games written to specifically avoid this concept. I guess it all depends what you want a game to be about...if you want consistency in story and don't want random whim taking out your characters, it makes sense to have a system in place where characters can't die suddenly, without a moment's notice. If you want dangerous and gritty, then you probably don't want a system where characters can take full strength hits from a two-handed sword and just walk away.

I like the way the new edition of Warhammer 40k has gone back to the idea where anyone could theoretically take down anyone else, a comparison of attacker's strength versus defender's toughness gives a simple die roll target number. Some situations moght see instant kills quite likely, others might see it quite difficult to achieve, but as lomg as there's a hit, then a death blow is possible.

I'm seeing a similar system develop here... attacker rolls to hit (which incorporates Defender's defence score), if the hit strikes, any damage is rolled based on a comparison of strength vs toughness,

I'm not sure where I'm going with this... it's just a kernel of an idea. But I want to play with it at some stage.

#DIY30 #17

17. What political situation existed 500 years ago, and how does its fall affect the world of today?

We should specify here that the question doesn't state that the political situation stopped working 500 years ago...it could have been strong 500 years ago, and just as strong one year ago, only recently falling and causing an impact politically. But while that plays with the wording of the question, it probably isn't fair to the spirit of the question. 

Let's look at something that was strong 500 years ago, but fell during the century after that point. This would be a political situation that may have kept someing in check for centuries, maybe even millennia, but once the political situation had been eliminated, problems gradually crept into the world leading to issues that we now face. 

Words are power, but energy is constant in the universe. So perhaps it is better to say that words are a specific means by which power and energy can be controlled. 

While the last great Ice Age thawed, and the ravenous mystics of the Asian and European continents sought to harness the wild energies of magic through carefully aligned buildings and stone circles, the spirits of other lands were allowed to roam free, their energies free for all to access rather than limited in the hands of a few. In time the lands of northern Africa and the near East lost their invigorating magic due to the sheer greed of those who had claimed the magic. Fertile lands died and deserts spread across the world. The spirits of the region needed magic from other sources and the powerful dynasties transformed themselves into the religions of today...this meant the dynasties would maintain temporal power in the world, and under the guise of angels and saints, the spirits would gain the soul energy of the faithful. Thus the religions spread to Europe, to Asia, and across Africa. The Americas were another story completely, but this is not their tale.

The spirits and magic of Australia remained unfettered by the restrictive words and aligned geomantic magic of an elitist cabal. The people of Australia were more attuned to the ways of nature and there was a more careful balance and deeper understanding between the mortal and the spirit world. The mortals maintained the land, and the spirits cloaked the continent from power hungry explorers from the near East and Europe. For centuries, Australia could have been discovered if not for the cloaking effects of the spirits. But something happened, five centuries ago... something that fractured the goodwill between the Spirits of the Dreaming, and the mortals of the continent. The cloaking effects were negated, and shortly thereafter, the first Portuguese explorers laid eyes on the land, then with Willem Janszoon, Dutch explorers set foot on the northwest coastline of the continent.  With every exposure to the power hungry eyes of European explorers and the ravenous spirits they prayed to under the guise of patron saints, the defences were worn away further.

The Indigenous communities of Australia (both mortal and spiritual) had never encountered such militarised spiritualism and ravenous hatred. By the time the spirits had consolidated their plans and prepared a strategy to deal with the interlopers, the continent had been ravaged. The words of the Indigenous mortals had been obliterated as "benevolent missionaries" brought civilisation to the people, disrupting their cultures and languages, and preventing many of the mortal tribes from communing with the spirits in languages they had used for dozens of millenia. The magic of the land is still being desecrated to this day, along with the natural minerals and resources of the physical world, the spirits of the Dreamtime know that something drastic has to happen soon before they are forgotten and it is all too late. 

16 September, 2017


Next month's posts will be an image a day for Inktober, much like I did a few years ago when I fleshed out the Darkhive setting.

I know I did this another year too...I think it was actually last year, but I didn't quite finish. In that attempt I combined the results from a few different lists to give me my prompts. 

This time I'll just be running with the core words under an overarching theme of 🦊 foxes, or Vulpinoids. The race I started detailing in various game systems over 30 years ago... it's been too long since I've visited them. 

#DIY30 #16

16. Make an equipment list for a post apoc setting, using only things in 1 room of your home. Garage and kitchen are easy mode.

If kitchen and garage are easy mode, then my art studio is super easy mode.Even if we're going with items that aren't powered by mains electricity.

  • Assorted tapes (duct tape, masking tape, electrical tape, sticky tape, double sided tape, plumbing tape)
  • Assorted knives (scalpels, snap-off blades, 3 different swiss army knives, guillotine)

  • Glues (two dozen tubes of super glue, a litre or so of white PVA/woodworking glue, an unopened bliste pack of Epoxy resin, a dozen glue sticks)
  • Lights (two overhead battery powered lights, one solar charged lantern, a battery powered lit magnifying glass)
  • Which brings me to magnifying glasses (in addition to the one mentioned, two on stands, and one hand held)
  • Notepads and journals (too many to count)
  • Two paper maps of local area
  • A dozen recyclable shopping bags
  • Assorted wire in various guages (and fishing line)
  • Dozens of small containers for carrying assorted bits and pieces
  • Assorted batteries and a solar powered battery charger
  • Battery powered radio
  • Maybe 4 square metres of leather remnants
  • Complete leatherworking toolkit (including punches, mallets, cutting tools, dyes, sponges, thonging, and swivel cutter)
  • Paint in numerous shades and mediums
  • Markers, pens and pencils
  • Lighter (with a can of butane to refill it, and a pocket welder that can also be refilled with the butane)
  • Canvas sheets
  • Bottles (some filled with water, some filled with turps, methylated spirits and acetone, others empty)
  • Assorted metal and PVC tubing
  • Assorted lengths of wood
  • Ten ferrets
  • A dog

If I didn't know better, I'd think I was a prepper.

#DIY30 #15

15. Write a pitch for how you would turn a shitty game into a good game. 

"World of Synnibarr with matches."

Bear with me here.

World of Synnibarr has been mentioned a few times here on the blog. It's an over-the-top gonzo extravaganza 473 pages long, so it works perfectly for this theory. Now imagine the Neverending Story as a game, where the Nothing is gradually consuming the world, and you are playing in a duing age where dreams are being obliterated. Players make characters normally at the start of play, but after that point, each player rolls d600 (with a d6 determining the hundreds, then a pair of d10s for the tens and units). They tear that page out of the book and burn it. Any monsters or character types on those pages are no longer available to the game. Any rules that might have been on those pages are no longer applicable to the game, any other rules which refer to rules on those pages have a chance of simply not working...flip a coin. If that page is already gone, the Nothing becomes stronger, the nameless void grows in power and the named world grows weaker. If the die total is higher than 473, then the world gets a temporary reprieve.

After each game, every player uses this method to tear a new random page from the book. Any monsters or characters on these pages become the villains for the piece, as the nameless void has taken their empathy, their goodness, or something similar. Any rules will become vital elements of the next scenario to be played out. If the characters win, the players may hold on to the rules they have torn away from the book. These rules become something specific to that player's characters (but they may be traded to other players diring the course of play). A player may hold no more than six pages in this way, and at any later time they may burn a page to gain a reroll on an action they have failed. If a character dies, a player may use the intact riles in the book, and the rules they've saved personally to create a new character.

Eventually there will come a time when core rules are eliminated from the game, or when the nameless void gains so much power that it is virtually unstoppable. This will be the games climax, the make-or-break session when it is decided whether the world is left to burn, or whether anything can be salvaged from the setting for a later campaign in a different game and world.

#DIY30 #14

14. Roll a D20 and count down that many photos on https://www.flickr.com/explore. That's your prompt.

Sorry, just not working for me. I've tried six times the post the pictire I got as a part of the post... but it just won't connect. Even when I go through n the back end, download the picture that my computer, then try to re-upload it. I might revisit this one later.

15 September, 2017

#DIY30 #13

13. Three sports that wizards play. 

Quidditch... are you kidding me? Quidditch is like that bastardised cross between lacrosse and softball that gets played by three schools in the whole world. They call it a "world cup" when all three schools compete because there's no one else on the planet who plays it. 

But it all depends on your definition of "Wizard". In some circles, wizards are a very specific category of those who use magic, they derive their powers from theory and textbooks, sometimes finding magic in the words that they use to define reality. In other circles, the term wizard could be used as a catch-all term to describe any male capable of weaving magic in some way (as compared to its feminine counterpart, witch... but sometimes the terms wizard and witch are used even more loosely, avoiding gender binaries altogether). In some parts of the deep south of the USA, a wizard might be denoted by wearing white cloak and hood, concealing their identity while engaging in racially motivated hate crimes.

...let's ignore that last group, because things could get quite unsavoury if we include the pastimes they might consider "sport". 

The theoretically-inclined wizards tend to view sport as a physical exertion, and therefore beneath them. They may observe sports for a better understanding of biological matters for the purposes of their magic, but would rarely get themselves dirty in such a way. 

The wider context of wizards, as "men and women who are capable of wielding magic to manipulate reality" is probably the most useful definition here. In which case, any sport might be possible. An easy answer could be "cricket, badminton, and waterpolo". But regular readers of the blog haven't come to read the post for an easy answer, so perhaps we should clarify things by asking "Name three sports that wizards play, but that regular non-magical people don't (or can't)?"


Actually, I have played a version of this. A number of footballs/soccer-balls ⚽️ are soaked in methylated spirits. One ball at a time is lit on fire 🔥. Umpires and goalkeepers wear hard hats with lights on them...otherwise the game is played in pitch darkness. Generally the game is played as per a game of soccer ⚽️, once the ball extinguishes, it is returned to the tub for re-soaking, a new ball is lit and the game continues. 

Wizards have been known to play this, but using magic to keep the ball lit (thus avoiding the need to return the ball for soaking in methylated spirits when it burns itself out). Some of the more extreme wizards have even been known to use continuous fireball spells to engage the sport rather than using a physical ball at all. 

No Limits Tag

When playing a game like tag with people who are capable of shapeshifting, flying and stepping between realms of reality, things can get awfully complicated awfully quickly. When one wizard has mastered one set of abilities (eg. flying) and another has mastered a completely separate set of abilities (eg. dimension hopping), the game might seem impossible to play. To make things more sporting, there actually is a limit on "No limits" tag. Two warded circles contain point-scoring plinths, within the circle, tagging is possible but magic is prevented. Players gain a point if they touch a plinth after they have touched the alternate one. If a player is "it" they cannot score points, they must tag someone (who becomes "it") they may rejoin the game and earn new points once they touch a plinth. A game will typically have a set duration, typically an hour, or "midnight to dawn"; one notable game played between immortal wizards was said to have lasted a century.

Apprentice Showdown

A common sport among certain sects of wizards involves drawing on the local populace for a dozen or more potential apprentices. There are usually three to six wizards involved, although there may be other wizards who observe and place bets on the outcome. There are usually three or four times as many potential apprentices as there are wizards. The apprentices are set loose in a mock dungeon filled with deadly traps, and magical items that might help them survive. The sport continues until there are a number of apprentices equal to the wizards. Starting with the apprentice who eliminated the least opponents in the showdown, wizards offer their tutelage. 

13 September, 2017

#DIY30 #12

12. What is there to do when stationed on an interstellar lighthouse?

Interstellar lighthouses became a vital element of the navigation grid during the Third Imperium, when trans-light travel required ships plunging into hyperspace, where gravity wells left faint echoes of themselves, but regular tachyon bursts could be easily detected between the chaotic null-waves of the hyperspace warp. Quantum leviathans would hurtle through hyperspace piercing through lightyears of distance in minutes... but dropping out of hyperspace a second to early or late might leave such a vessel stranded in space for months at sublight speeds to reassume their correct destination. Interstellar lighthouses were placed to ensure accuracy of placement when ships dropped out of hyperspace, carefully triangulated vectors would be drawn from their positioning. Thus it was of utmost importance that the lighthouses didn't drift from their designated coordinates by more than a few thousand miles. 

Regular duties of a lighthouse keeper involve measuring relative angular positions of stars, nearby and distant, then adjusting star charts accordingly, and if necessary activating the ion drives to account for any drift that might have occurred since the last measurement. These are generally automated processes, with procedures enacted every month or so (according to Earth chronology). The whole process could have been automated, but when the first array of lighthouses were set up, there was a deep suspicion among certain religiously inclined advisors that AI was ready to overthrow the biological lifeforms of the Imperium. Economic advosors suggested that to maintain a high degree of employment across the Imperium, each of the 750,000 lighthouses should be maintained by one or more families who would serve a twenty year duty period in exchange for free lodgings in an apartment chosen from a range of worlds, for the rest of their lives. 

During their 20 year service periods, many devout lighthouse families prayed, meditated and tended the crops necessary to their long term survival. Many less devout families ran illicit criminal waystatios between the more organised and patrolled sectors of the Imperium, some fended of regular attacks from rebel systems and intruding forces...some vanished shed without a trace (but few people talk about them). 

12 September, 2017

Images from the Sprawl (Part 5)

This set of additional images for the series sees a few more males added into the mix, some more surrealism and strangeness, and a shot revisiting one of our earlier ladies. 

I'm not sure where we'll be heading next with the series...

Anyone got any ideas?

#DIY30 #11

11. Why is the stone circle on the hill top broken?

Who says it's broken? It has been like that for as long as anyone can remember. There are even some who say that it was built in it's current state. So it's not so much that the stone circle is broken, but more accurate to say that it was never complete.

What might the stone circle have done if it had been completed? A few scholars have offered suggestions. (Roll a d6 to determine which of these is real).

1. The stone circle when completed would habe been an accurate sundial and calendar.

2. The stone circle would have been configured in such a way to summon a monstrous creature from the nether realm, during a particular celestial alignment... but it wasn't finished in time. Coincidentally, the same celestial alignment is due to occur some time in the mear future.

3. The stone circle marks the graves of a forgotten family of decadent and bloodthirsty nobles. One stone per noble. The family were overthown by their vassals before the circle could be completed.

4. The stone circle was an installation by a group of artistic troubadours a few decades ago, it looks broken because that makes people feel uncomfortable. Ever since it was built, and the nomadic artists fled the area, people have wanted to track them down for such a rubbish job, and because they're sick of being asked why the stone circle is broken.

5. See that sign over there, the one that says "People who ask about the broken stone circle will be put to work in the mines for the term of their natural life".... yep, that one... guess what, stranger... you're headed to the mines.

6. What stone circle? I don't know what you're talking about.

10 September, 2017

#DIY30 #10

10. What is beyond the Wall? (So help me, any of you who makes some lazy-ass Game of Thrones reference is kicked out of the OSR.)

Assuming that the Wall you are referring to is the known landmark in the Astral Plane, it is a barrier between the waking and dreaming worlds. On one side of this wall of light are the astral projections and daydreaming souls of those who are still awake, while on the other side of the wall are the dreamers and comatose sojourners desperately searching for meaning in a chaotic and ever-changing landscape. Crossing the wall is relatively easy but takes a conscious effort. 

Perhaps more important as a question is, what is the wall? Or even, what is within the wall? 

The wall itself is composed of an ephemeral protoplasm known variously as "dreamstuff", "Arcadium", or one of a hundred other names. Every person who travels through the wall leaves a fragment of their soul in the wall, and finds it replaced by the material of the wall. It is said that those who travel through the wall often find their abilities to weave illusions enhanced, at the risk of finding their physical presence in the mundane world diminished...they gradually become illusions themselves, until the entirety of their soul is replaced by the material of the wall and an attempt to cross becomes their final moment...they become one with the wall. 

It is said that there is a similar wall of darkness, dividing the living from the dead, but it is much harder to find and only able to be crossed via specific portals at certain times of the year. Those who attempt to cross this wall, gain a similar effect of augmented magic but with regard to necromantic effects. Over time they gradually become spectral entities, undead for eternity, losing their sanity as the dark wall calls them back. 

Images from the Sprawl (Part 4)

Life has been busy over the last few weeks, with assignments and starting a new round of pre-service teaching as I approach the end of my university degree, and all those daily blog questionnaires. Having a really bad case of the flu hasn't helped either.

I've still managed to get a few extra images done, one every day or two.

If you've been regularly reading the blog or following me of various social media platfoms, you may have seen some of these images before. I'm not sure which ones (if any) I've posted before...but this batch brings the images up to date.