Saturday, 17 August 2019

Hollow Men

Actually, you know what? Here's a write-up of the Hollow Men.
This is not sympathetic at all. You don't get to play these. They don't get stats. But they're a counterpoint to the previous post.
This is not a fair portrayal. I'm biased and scarred and angry, and as a result I can't give them a proper write-up. All you get is the perspective of somebody who's only ever experienced them as total monsters.


So, what does it look like when Thanatos, the instinct towards death and entropy, goes out of control?

You know how the planet is dying and society is going insane because a few obscenely rich sociopaths control like 80% of the world's resources, and that's just the price to pay for their hunger for more? You know those old white men in suits who own everything, and don't think about you at all? Those men who always need more, who's sense of greed and entitlement poisons everything, who consider women, poor people, minorities etc to be on the same level as mere possessions? Things to own and abuse and discard without thinking?
You know when you hear that the UK's prime minister used to burn money in front of the homeless for laughs, committed weird sexual perversities with dead animals, and considers that perfectly acceptable? Or when the president boasts about assaulting women because 'when you're rich and famous they can't stop you'? Or when it turns out wealthy men have been abusing women and children for fun, because they can, so why not? Or when it turns out they knew that cigarettes were killing people for decades before it became public knowledge, and they covered it up to preserve their profits?
You know when you look at some rich, privileged suit-wearing motherfucker and wonder why they don't do some fucking good in the world? And they look back, and their eyes are empty, and there's no inner humanity there to connect with? 

And then, you see that same emptiness everywhere. The petty tyrant of a boss. The man who beats his wife to vent his frustrations. The guy in the club who won't shut the fuck up and leave you alone. The bitter young man who spews venom at anybody female or non-white or queer online, who dreams of taking his gun to school. The father who will never be satisfied with you, but uses pain and neglect to try to mould you into something that can make him feel less empty. The cop who just likes using his badge and power to make a victim out of anybody he feels like?
The constant poison of men who will never be satisfied, no matter how much they consume and hurt and control. Once you know what you're looking for, it's everywhere.

You know that guy who lives on a trust fund with a silver spoon in his mouth, and slowly poisons the community around him in his constant need for power, leaving a trail of broken and traumatised victims behind him that he's harassed and targetted and dehumanized until they're driven away. And when they flee from him, he gloats about it, and finds his next target. 
And he has a disabled partner, and abuses her horribly for years, and then when she goes public with it he sues her in Canada - not to prove his innocence - but because he knows that the stress of a court case will damage her health, and he wants to keep hurting her? And you look at that guy and think how can you do this? And he looks back at you, and thinks nothing at all. 

They're not even evil, I suppose. No more than cancer or rising sea levels or parasitic wasps or lead poisoning from traffic fumes are evil, they're just a sickness that won't ever really go away. They don't seem to feel, to understand that others have any importance except as things to grind down for their own satisfaction. Always needing more, trying to fill this yawning void inside them through greed and cruelty. But really, inside, there's just nothing. No empathy, no calling, no warmth. No soul.

Those are the Hollow Men.
They don't need cool powers. Fuck it, they don't get to have cool powers, because I'm writing this and it's my blog and they always get whatever they want, but right here I get to decide and I am incandescently angry at this shit. So this time they don't get shit.
Anyway, they don't need magic or powers or anything. Society is on their side, and will always protect them and side against their victims, and they're winning.
1-4 HP. Saves, AC, attacks, etc as normal men. AL: LE. Morale 10. # appearing: 1, with an entire community's worth of level 0 humans backing them up. Unreasonable amounts of treasure. 
Don't put them in your games unless you want to take things to a really dark place.

Tuesday, 6 August 2019

Wounded Daughters

“-and whenever they catch you, they will kill you. 
But first they must catch you-” 


So here's a thing I've been thinking about lately. It's another of my sideways advancement thingies. Like this one but from a different source and with different effects. A way to advance your character without needing to gain XP.

Not gonna lie, while the end result feels like grimdark fantasy, the initial thoughts for this came from something of a personal place. A common response to marginalisation - and one I exhibit - is to retreat into yourself, cut any losses, and concentrate on survival. 
Family disown you? Fuck 'em, cut all contact, move on, don't look back, you don't really need them. Big drunk man mouthing off at you? Keep your head down, hands in your pockets, don't make eye contact, scurry away. Evicted? Scrabble what you can together and find somewhere - anywhere - to live, doesn't matter how shitty it is, just keep yourself off the street. Cops hassling you? Say whatever you need to say, pick your stuff up, find somewhere else to sleep. Don't speak out, don't invite trouble, don't get a target painted on you. Life's hard enough just trying to get by.
You start to think that people like you don't get to have nice things. You accept being on the bottom rung of society, scrabbling just to keep your head above the water. One by one, you cut away bits of yourself that hold you back. Empathy, pride, ambition. Fuck that. Concentrate on the here and now. Live to see another day. 
Anyway. For most of my adult life, up until very recently, that was me. It still creeps into my thinking sometimes. That's what this homebrew's about.

Yes, it gives you superpowers, but it's probably not something you really want.
It's also probably not very balanced, but fuck it.



On the Wounded Mother
There are two fundamental forces in any living being. Perhaps they might be called Eros and Thanos; the instincts towards life and death. Both exist in a sort of tension, each tugging in opposite directions, and cancelling one another out until, eventually, the tension undoes them and the being dies.
When the death instinct becomes too strong, it overwhelms the life instinct. The being devours itself from within, becoming empty and soulless. Where once there was warmth and love and joy, now there's only a channel to the void between atoms and stars; a black hole that draws in and devours all it touches. A person so afflicted becomes infectious, drawing in all they touch to hollow them out too, until all is ashes and dust and only entropy remains. These hollow men stare at the external world with blank eyes, not even hating it, destroying it only because they lack the awareness not to do so.

This, though, is about the opposite problem. When the life instinct grows out of control, overwhelms the death instinct. Refuses to give in to ruin and extinction. 
Where the personification of the death instinct is the empty void, an unthinking hunger that infects all it touches, the life instinct is aware. It forms a sort of gestalt consciousness, dimly inhabiting living beings. It calls itself the Wounded Mother. 
The Wounded Mother is a squirming, writhing thing, struggling against entropy and decay. Furious with hope. For those in whom the life instinct stirs and flourishes, it has gifts. 
Oh, its gifts hurt, because pain is what defines and preserves life. Death is numbness, life is painful and horrible. But the pain of these gifts will keep you alive if you welcome it in. Those who embrace it become its champions - the Wounded Daughters.

The Wounded Mother teaches five principles:
  1. If you can't endure, flee
  2. If you can't flee, hide
  3. If you can't hide, yield
  4. If you can't yield, fight
  5. If you must fight, sacrifice anything to win.

Becoming a Wounded Daughter
There are four conditions that must be met in order to become a Wounded Daughter.
  1. You must know that such a thing is possible. This might mean reading about such things, or hearing rumours, but probably not. The only reliable way to learn is from another Daughter, as they don't tend to write things down, or have friends. 
  2. You must be female, unmarried, and owning no home. Becoming unmarried is simple - just murder your husband - and losing your home is likewise not too hard. Being female is harder; if you're not female initially you can become female but that might take some effort. I'm not gonna give a mechanical definition for femininity, you know it when you see it. 
  3. You must have just survived some danger that - by all rights - ought to have killed you. Sickness, war, lynchings, or the sort of dangers that adventurers face routinely.
  4. You must want to become a wounded daughter, knowing full well that it means sacrificing your humanity. The choice is deliberate and conscious; it happens because you invite the Wounded Mother into you and finally accept her gifts.

As soon as the conditions are met, the character dreams of the Wounded Mother when she next sleeps. The Wounded Mother's appearance varies. Maybe it's a rabbit. Maybe a human woman. Maybe a seagull. Maybe a child. Maybe a fox. Whatever the case, there's a huge gaping wound down its flank, oozing blood, viscera and muscles exposed. The potential daughter is invited to drink from the wound to accept its gifts.
If she does so, the daughter wakes up changed. She knows, instinctively, that she must survive at all costs, and how she must do so. Her mind is, forever, a constant barrage of fear and paranoia and underlying white-hot hope. Only survival matters, everything else exists for her only so long as it can serve that purpose.


Resilience of a Wounded Daughter
A wounded daughter has only one gift initially.
If she would die, if she can justify a way she might remain barely alive to the GM, she survives. 
For example, if she's stabbed through the gut, runs out of HP, and would die, instead she's merely unconscious. Certainly, she's on the brink of death, severely wounded, and will need time to recover, but she's not quite dead yet. On the other hand, perhaps if she's burned to ashes, chewed up and swallowed, or squashed to a red smear, there's no coming back from that. 
If an enemy thinks to make absolutely sure she's dead, then sufficient hacking will prevent her coming back. Effects that don't kill her, but render her helpless or useless, take effect normally. Her will to live doesn't prevent her from living on as, for example, a tree or somebody's mind-slave.

Costs Paid by a Wounded Daughter
Every time the wounded daughter would die but survives, she sacrifices something. Like a trapped rabbit gnawing off its leg to escape, something that was burdening her is discarded. Each time she survives thanks to her resilience, she accrues an xp 'debt' of 2,000 xp that must be earned and wasted before she can continue gaining levels. Furthermore, roll a d20 on the list below for what she sacrificed in order to live. If it's something she's already sacrificed, then there's no additional effect. Whatever vestige of humanity she abandoned, she was far gone enough that she didn't notice or care.
  1. Memories of unimportant things. Childhood, first love, parents, mentors. The player and GM pick something. These trivialities no longer matter and are forgotten. 
  2. Empathy. She becomes cold, callous, unmoved by the plight of others.
  3. Youth. Age 3 years.
  4. Somebody she once cared about. GM picks an NPC that was once important to her (a lover, teacher, parent, priest, child, etc), who dies immediately of unrelated causes. When she finds out, the Wounded Daughter realises she doesn't care, and never did.
  5. A body part. She picks one: a finger, eye, ear, hand, tongue, foot. It's gone now. It won't come back short of divine intervention.
  6. Her ability to heal. Whatever nearly killed her, the wound doesn't quite close, and she carries a constant stigmata as a reminder of her near-death.
  7. The capacity to love anybody but other Wounded Daughters. 
  8. The ability to have children. Any descendants die of coincidental natural causes.
  9. The ability to read and write. 
  10. The ability to speak or understand any but her native language. If rolled again, she forgets even her native tongue. 
  11. Any comprehension of money. She can only gain XP from treasure that has some use to her beyond its value as precious metal or coinage. Art, magic items, rare trade goods etc are all fine, but a big sack of gold is totally meaningless to her. 
  12. The capacity to experience any pleasure from food, drink, and other material comforts. 
  13. Moral restraint. Matters of 'right and wrong' no longer matter to her in any way. Her alignment becomes neutral (or unaligned) but most observers will think her evil.
  14. The ability to use weapons. If you roll this again, next she loses the ability to wear armour. each time after that, and she looses the ability to use some other tool of civilisation (pick a broad type, such as matches, sewing needles, cooking gear, etc etc).
  15. Her human appearance. Her physique shifts to something slightly more primal, her eyes become feral, her hair matted and filthy. It is impossible to mistake her for something fully human anymore. 
  16. The capacity to be loved. Those who currently love her (parents, children, paramours, etc) find their feelings turning bitter and resentful in a matter of days.
  17. Comprehension of the law and authority as a meaningful concept. She is aware that civilised society might try to stop her doing sensible things (like taking things she needs by force, or killing people who threaten her) but isn't sure why; it seems totally unreasonable and rather irrational.
  18. Legal recognition. Any records of her existence, place in society, legal status etc are lost in coincidental accidents and clerical errors. As far as any legal body is concerned, she doesn't exist, has no citizenship or legal rights.
  19. Ambitions. Any goals or desires beyond survival are no longer meaningful. Of course, getting stronger and removing threats are sensible routes to survival, providing a justification to continue adventuring.
  20. Wealth. Any accumulated treasure without a practical use (IE gold etc, but not magic items, plate armour etc) is lost through some coincidental disaster.

Gifts Accepted by a Wounded Daughter

Every time the wounded daughter survives otherwise-certain death, she accepts another gift of the Wounded Mother. For what she gains, roll a d20. If you roll a result she's already gained, take the next one down (loop back round to 1 if you go past 20).

  1. Immune to fear. More accurately, she's constantly paranoid, on the jittery edge of a fight-or-flight response, but controlling and channelling that fear. Any fear effects inflicted on her don't actually meaningfully change her emotional state.
  2. No longer sleeps. Constant amphetamine-buzz exhausted alertness. No penalties for lack of sleep, tiredness, etc. Immune to sleep spells etc. If she must sleep, perhaps in order to heal, the only real way is to drink herself into a stupor.
  3. Bites for d8 damage. Teeth become ragged, chipped to sharp edges. Smile off-putting.
  4. No penalties for eating raw food, carrion, etc. Cannot suffer food poisoning from improperly prepared food.
  5. Double move speed when she drops onto all fours to run or scramble.
  6. Can spit blood and teeth with violent force. She has 32 teeth, each one does d8 damage spat at an enemy (roll to hit normally). Once spat, the tooth's gone.
  7. Sweats venom. On skin-on-skin contact with her save vs Poison or suffer one damage. Other Wounded Daughters are immune.
  8. Can shed her skin. Below, the wet red mass of musculature and organs. Doing this deals enough damage to her that she only has 1 HP remaining. As her HP heal, her skin grows back, healing fully when all her HP have returned. Her new skin looks subtly different, enough that she won't be recognised as the same person from casual inspection. Any identifying tattoos, brands, scarification etc are likewise gone.
  9. Kiss is poison. On lip-on-lip contact, victim must save vs Poison or fall unconscious. Other Wounded Daughters are immune.
  10. Leave no tracks or scent when travelling. 
  11. Sixth sense for traps; if her action triggers a trap or similar hazard, she can immediately take 1 damage in order to retroactively not take that action.
  12. Can detach any body-part. Doing so deals 1 damage for every 10% of her bodymass detached (round up). Useful for getting out of restraints. The detached bodypart (and the HP sacrificed to detach it) grow back at a rate of 1 HP per night.
  13. Can hold her breath for as many 10-minute-turns as her constitution modifier.
  14. Can scream or sob horribly. Those hearing her lamentations must save vs Paralysis; on a failure they take 1 sympathetic damage and waste a round stunned. The Wounded Daughter must have a good reason to scream; pain, grief, rage, etc. Other Wounded Daughters are immune.
  15. Massive resistance to sickness. If she'd be infected by a disease (including on a failed save), make an additional Save vs Poison; if this extra save is passed, she suffers no ill effects from the sickness, and is not visibly affected. She's still infectious, though. Other Wounded Daughters cannot contract the disease from her.
  16. Sixth sense for ambushes. Can spend 1 HP in order to act when surprised, regardless of how badly off-guard she'd have been caught.
  17. Totally immune to any magic or effect that would compel love, lust, friendship or affection. Cannot be charmed. Love only by deliberate choice, and even then probably only other Wounded Daughters.
  18. On examining a corpse, know the exact circumstances of its death. What killed it and how.
  19. Can walk through any locked door as though it were unlocked, but only to leave a location, never to get in. 
  20. If an effect would knock her unconscious, stun her, or kill her, she can make one final action immediately before blacking out. Perhaps an attack, last words, swigging a potion, or whatever.
The Wounded Sisterhood

Wounded Daughters have no formal organisation, being both rare and generally antisocial and nomadic. None-the-less, they tend to cooperate, recognising shared ideals and obstacles, and are far more likely to seek each other's company out than the company of those outside their sisterhood.
A Wounded Daughter instinctively recognises any other Daughter she meets, as well as any women with the potential to become Daughters like her. They innately understand one another as sisters.
Wounded Daughters can speak and communicate with one another regardless of language barriers, even if they've otherwise sacrificed the ability to speak, and can likewise leave simple messages for one another as scratched glyphs. Their communication is unsophisticated; concentrating on the here-and-now, potential dangers, visceral emotions and potentially the bonds between them.
If a Wounded Daughter ever kills (or tries to kill) another Daughter, she loses all of the Wounded Mother's gifts, immediately and permanently. Not her sacrifices, though, those stay.


The Wounded Daughters as a PC Class


If you want to use this as a class, rather than a sideways upgrade, here's how you do it:
  • D6 HD
  • XP like a Magic User
  • Saves like a Magic User but 3 points better.
  • To-hit progression like a Magic User.
  • If your system restricts weapons & armour, can use any weapons and armour.
  • Have all of the abilities listed above.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

No Rest For The Wicked - a short review



I bought No Rest For The Wicked, here's my thoughts. Mild spoilers.

Visual stuff first: I only got the PDF, so I can't say anything about the physical book. Cover art by Yannick Bouchard is always nice, featuring Alice the Cleric. Internal stuff is very pretty. Dark minimalist moodiness, setting the tone wonderfully. Jez and Alex do a very good job here; I'm reminded of the dark block-black art of Hellboy comics. The whole thing has a sort of grimey woodcut feel to it, it's wonderful.
I found the layout of what goes where pretty intuitive. There's a lot of information repeated, so you get the brief summaries all in one place, and then more detail later on. It works well, and saves page-flipping in play, I imagine.
But then, this is LotFP, you expect it to be good.

So, then, the adventure itself.
There's no weird elements here (save perhaps the PCs), just humans being grubby and horrid.
The adventure itself puts a neat little moral dilemma in front of the PCs, and then asks what they'll do. Things have layers. None of the 'bad guys' are presented as wholly bad, and it's possible (if difficult) to appeal to their better natures. None of the victims are wholly blameless, either. It's messy and complex. The sort of thing where working out the 'right thing' to do is going to take a long argument, but you don't have time to have that argument, you need to act now.
If the PCs do nothing, they're basically fine (so long as they can avoid being hauled in for being witches and/or bandits, which is always a possibility). The affair ends cruelly but cleanly, a few people get executed and that's the end of that.
If they intervene there's a horrible tension to things and the slightest knock can set everything off into a spiralling disaster. The whole thing drips with possibilities for the PCs to do something dramatic and stupid, and make everything Much Worse.
I just don't want to run this, honestly. I want to play this. It gives you a nasty moral problem with difficulties and complications and external pressure. I want to try to give everybody a happy ending somehow.
Reading it, it feels like this is a situation best solved by subterfuge. A cleric with the right miracles prepared, or a magician with invisibility, illusions and some prep time, etc can - if they want - solve this fairly easily. Then again, the massive looming threat is 120-ish soldiers, all lv 0. A direct fight is one that the PCs almost certainly lose, but the almost is important. LotFP gives PCs a lot of lateral thinking tools and weirdness. Misdirecting or subverting the army's not impossible.

Minor quibbles:
There's no map of the surrounding countryside; where the inn, the army camp, escape routes, hiding places etc are in relation to each other. If the PCs decide to flee with the fugitives, this is gonna require a little frantic map-sketching from the ref.
It feels like if the PCs start throwing around witchcraft, the responses of various NPCs will matter. It's not clear how the adventure intends the innkeeper, refugees etc to respond if the PCs start summoning tentacle-monsters and creating phantoms, even if they're trying to help. Not a massive issue, but it's something I'd possibly have given a little more detail.
These are very minor though, and don't really detract from the quality of the book as-written.

The tone is interesting. It's fundamentally about refugees from horrible circumstances. It tugs at the heartstrings. It doesn't take a political stance, and makes no assumptions about what the PCs will do, but it feels relevant. I feel like it's one of those scenarios where how you approach it says something about you.
It ties in with some of the themes of other LotFP modules - Man Is The Real Monster, War Is Horrible, etc. I can see it working amazingly as a prelude to Better Than Any Man. Actually, I think thematically this adventure, No Salvation For Witches and Better Than Any Man are very nicely tied together. The three in sequence would make a pretty great campaign imho.



Following certain unfortunate events recently, I've seen a lot of discussion about what the future holds for LotFP as a brand. If they keep putting stuff like this out, they'll be just fine.

I''d run this, and I'd leap at a chance to play this. Go get it.











Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Supernatural Masterpieces

A system for the creation of magic items.


How it Works
To make any sort of masterpiece, you require three things:

  • The raw materials to make an exceptional item of the same type (iron for a sword, etc)
  • A forge, workshop, studio or similar in which to work.
  • A magically resonant ingredient that is included in the item to be made, which lends it its potency.
The first two are trivial to acquire. 
You can assume that the materials cost the same as buying a pre-made example of the item in question (what you save in labour costs is negated by the requirement for higher-quality materials).
The place to work is likewise easy to acquire, merely costing a thousand silver (or gold in a gold-standard system) to buy all the necessary tools, supplies, venue etc. You'll need to have an appropriate place to work, however; you can't forge swords in an artist's studio, nor can you make magic shoes in a blacksmith's forge.

The third part (resonant ingredients) is where the meat of the system lies. A resonant ingredient is some material taken from a supernaturally potent place, monster, event or similar. For each such place/monster/event you encounter, you can distil its magical potency into a single ingredient that is used when making the masterpiece.
The resonant ingredient might become a physical part of the item being made (for example, you might make armour from dragon-scales or use a giant's thigh-bone as the haft for an axe). It doesn't need to be, however, and can be used up in the crafting process in some other way (you might quench a sword in basilisk's blood or burn a particular wood to heat your forge). 
Each different resonant ingredient you incorporate into the item being made gives it a particular property, but using many of the same resonance doesn't stack (IE you can make a sword that is Winter and Night resonant using those two ingredients, but not one that is doubly Winter resonant by using two winter ingredients; the sword either is winter resonant or it isn't).

Spotting when something could be resonant, and working out how to make it into the item you want, is up to the players. Justifying why a particular thing is resonant is a matter of player skill, that rewards familiarity with the themes and ideas each resonance embodies.

The examples given are only examples: If your players make something not covered, invent an effect for it that matches the themes of that resonance. Perhaps they have an idea for what it does; if they do, go along with that idea if it makes sense for the relevant resonance. 
Don't be limited by what's here, use it as a starting point.

There are a total of Seven different resonances: Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter, Day, Twilight and Night. Without further ado, here they are:

Spring

Affinities
Concepts
New growth, vibrant life, nature red in tooth and claw. The triumph of the green, savage world over civilisation. Growth that is unrestrained and without reason, like a plague or a cancer. Life struggling to expand, feed, breed, evolve. Regeneration and adaptation. Rot and decay leading to new life. Predation, parasitism, the competition to survive. Vigour. 
Classical Elements
Earth, Wood, Grass, Venom.
Monsters
Shambling mounds, myconids and other plant or fungal monsters, particularly the less elegant sort. Parasitic monsters such as rot grubs. Giant insect-like beasts such as purple worms, carrion crawlers and so on. Slimes, molds and puddings. Primordial lizards, ancient fish. Probably nothing particularly intelligent. The 'lower orders' of life that just want to feed and breed.
Places
Deep jungle, thick forest or swamp, coral reefs. Places untouched by civilisation
Events
Plagues, storms.
People
Savages, druids, the insanely feral. Those who cast off the restraints of human culture and revert to living like mere animals.

Uses
Swords
A spring-resonant sword drips with venom; victims must Save vs Poison or else take double damage.
Clubs and Axes
A spring-resonant club or axe has a 1-in-6 chance to destroy any crafted object that it strikes. 
Other melee weapons
A spring-resonant weapon gets +2 to hit and damage against 'civilised' foes; anything that has a use for money.
Other ranged weapons
Spring resonant ranged weapons and ammunition passes through foliage, tree trunks and other living plants as if they were intangible.
Armour
The wearer of spring-resonant armour regenerates one hit-point each turn. The wounds seal up and are replaced with odd scars; sometimes the scars are a crust of tree bark, coral or lichen.
Farming or gardening tools
Plants planted and tended to with spring-resonant tools grow in a matter of minutes rather than months or years, often growing far larger than natural and in strange shapes.
Other tools
Other spring-resonant tools can be used to work living flesh or growing plants without causing any pain, and if used in this way the subject will recover from the alterations without ill-effects (although alterations made may be permanent). IE, spring-resonant woodcarving tools could be used to re-sculpt a person's face for cosmetic or disguise purposes, etc.
Boots
Spring-resonant boots allow the wearer to pass through undergrowth, over marshy or rocky ground, and so forth without being slowed at all.
Rings
The wearer of a spring-resonant ring does not need to eat or sleep, so long as they get enough water and access to sunlight to photosynthesise. 
Clothing
The wearer of spring-resonant clothing gets +5 to any saves against poison, and suffers 5 less damage from any venomous attacks.
Amulets
Spring-resonant amulets render the wearer immune to the downsides of any disease they might be infected with. Whilst still a carrier, they don't suffer any symptoms. Furthermore, they can - by touching a victim with their bare skin - infect that victim with a disease they suffer if they wish.

Summer

Affinities
Concepts
Triumph, glory and majesty. Martial might, beauty that exalts, fabulous power. The world of 4-colour comic-book characters engaged in larger-than-life struggles. The apex of things, power at its climax. Emotions that are huge and all encompassing; courtly love, endless vendettas. Hubris and vainglory. Living in the moment. Heroic archetypes, narrative tropes, fairytale logic. Pride.
Classical Elements
Fire, stone, gold, the sun.
Monsters
Dragons, unicorns, and other heraldic monsters. Butterflies, angel-fish and other elegant beasts. Lions, stags, eagles and chimera composed thereof. Elves, nymphs, sylphs, satyrs and related beings known for their beauty. 
Places
The highest mountains, deepest vales, widest rivers and other exceptional places. Castles, huge monuments to personal glory. 
Events
Pitched battles, volcanic eruptions. 
People
Divine monarchs, heroes-of-the-people, paladins, champions.

Uses
Swords
A summer-resonant sword burns with brilliant flame. +d6 damage.
Lances and spears
A summer-resonant lance or spear automatically seeks out the hearts of its victims. When charging, the wielder gets +3 to hit.
Other melee weapons
A summer-resonant weapon looks magnificent, giving an extra +1 to the morale/loyalty of allies while being wielded.
Other ranged weapons
Summer-resonant ammunition, or ammunition shot from summer-resonant weapons, burns with brilliant fire. +d6 damage.
Armour
Summer-resonant armour is made for honourable duelling. Whenever the wearer engages in single-combat, for the duration of that duel they are immune to any attacks by anybody other than their chosen opponent; enemies who would interfere are struck dumb and dither rather than attacking. The duel concludes if either side is slain or backs down, if the wearer attacks a third party, if one of the wearer's allies interferes, or if the two combatants part and go their separate ways.
Heraldry, banners, etc
Summer-resonant heraldry is glorious and inspiring to behold. Reaction rolls are 3 better when viewing it, and the loyalty and morale of followers and hirelings is likewise 3 better.
Tools
Summer-resonant tools impart an artistic flair upon everything they touch. While the actual quality of the work is no better, and no practical benefit is gained, even a mediocre worker using them produces results that are ornately and elegantly decorated.
Rings
Summer resonant rings allow the wielder to make attacks with their bare hands that do d8 damage just like a war-hammer. 
Clothing
Summer-resonant clothing is opulent and pristine. The wearer is always treated as an individual of repute and importance. Furthermore, no matter what horrible situation they find themselves in, their appearance is never marred or dirtied - save perhaps a single stylishly dramatic slash of blood across their face.
Crowns
Summer-resonant crowns render the wearer totally immune to fear, charm effects and other emotional manipulation. 'Hard' mind control such as commands and domination still affect them, but the wearer will internally disapprove of whatever they are compelled to do and knows exactly what happened. 

Autumn

Affinities
Concepts
The triumph of the cunning over the strong. The maturation of things. Carefully-laid plans. Artifice and artificial things. Trade, Machiavellian politics, capitalism, byzantine schemes, degenerate democracy. Industry and mass production. Laws, contracts, small-print and legalistic conflict. Civilisation conquering the natural world. Ambition.
Classical Elements
Brass, gold, fire, soot.
Monsters
Artificial monsters such as golems and animated objects. Beings that rely on mind-control, such as mind-flayers and succibi. Monsters associated with contracts, binding and punishment, such as genies and devils. Monsters that bind and entangle such as spiders, ropers, etc.
Places
Palaces, court-rooms, prisons, and other places of power and control. Factories and workshops. Geo-thermally active places.
Events
Coups, industrial revolutions, court cases.
People
Lawyers, artificers, spies, strategists, inventors.

Uses
Swords
An autumn-resonant sword parries and blocks effortlessly, as if with a mind of it's own. The wielder gets +3 AC.
Whips and flails
An autumn-resonant whip or flail entangles those it strikes; they must save vs paralysis or be unable to move from the spot for a round.
Other melee weapons
When an autumn-resonant weapon is used to parry, it hooks onto the enemy's weapon, dragging it from the enemy's hands. When an enemy rolls a 1 to hit, they are disarmed.
Other ranged weapons
When firing autumn resonant ammunition, or using an autumn resonant weapon to fire it, ammunition is never depleted and lasts forever.
Armour
Autumn-resonant armour renders the totally wearer immune to improvised weapons, unarmed attacks, and the natural attacks of mundane animals. Monstrous or supernatural beasts can still damage with their fangs and claws, however.
Shields


Autumn-resonant shields grant no benefit to their wielder, but give +3 AC to their allies fighting to either side of or behind that shield.
Tools
Autumn-resonant tools can be used to work with frightening speed. Any task takes one-third of the time when done with such tools.
Ink
Contracts signed in autumn-resonant ink are magically enforced. If any signatory breaks the terms of the contract (letter or spirit) they take d12 damage immediately, and everybody else involved knows the exact nature of their betrayal.
Snares, bear-traps etc
Those caught in an autumn-resonant trap are totally unable to free themselves, no matter what they do. They must rely on somebody else to free them.
Clothing
Autumn-resonant clothing displays a combination of shining golden inspiration edged with steel-hard absolute authority. The minions, followers, hirelings etc of the wearer will never fail their loyalty or morale rolls for any reason.
Amulets
Autumn-resonant amulets render the wearer resistant to fire and heat. +5 to saves, and half damage.

Winter

Affinities
Concepts
Unstoppable entropy, the ending of all things, privation and hunger. Barren wastelands, widespread death. Strength from desperation, wisdom derived from suffering. Endless hunger that drives those afflicted to cruel deeds. Fear and dread used as weapons. The unstoppable march of time and desperate struggles against it. Relentlessness, sacrifice, consumption. Hopelessness.
Classical Elements
Ice, ash, darkness, poison.
Monsters
Wendigos, werewolves, ghouls and other beings driven mad by hunger. Creatures associated with winter, ice or cold such as yetis, white wolves, frost elementals. Pointlessly spiteful beings such as redcaps and manticores. 
Places
The arctic, mountain-tops and other cold places. Barren wastelands and deserts. Graveyards, mass graves, sites of great disaster.
Events
Famines, mass-executions, blizzards, droughts.
People
Cannibals, the elderly, 

Uses
Swords
A winter-resonant sword sucks at the vitality of those it strikes. When it deals damage, the wielder is healed by that much.
Knives
A winter-resonant weapon is spiteful and cruel. It deals double damage against enemies with only 1 hit dice.
Other melee weapons
A winter-resonant weapon is blisteringly cold to the touch, dealing 1 extra damage against warm-blooded foes and double damage to fire-type foes.
Other ranged weapons
Winter resonant missiles (or ones fired from winter-resonant weapons) are blisteringly cold to the touch, dealing 1 extra damage against warm-blooded foes and double damage to fire-type foes.
Armour
Winter-resonant armour renders the wearer immune to cold, fatigue, weather exposure, and so on.
Cooking & eating utensils
Food prepared or eaten with winter-resonant utensils is nourishing and palatable no matter how unsafe or distasteful it may seen. Human flesh, carrion, insects, rotten food and worse are all pleasant and edible.
Medical Supplies
Winter-resonant bandages, surgeon's tools, etc can be used to heal all damage a victim has taken, at the cost of reducing their HP total by 1 until they next gain a level.
Torches, tinder boxes, etc
Objects burned by fire from a winter-resonant source can never be repaired or restored. Corpses burned by a winter-resonant source can never be resurrected, reanimated or otherwise return; they're gone forever.
Other Tools
Winter-resonant tools can be used to destroy anything, given enough time. No hardness or skillful artifice prevents them being hacked apart by winter tools.
Clothing
The wearer of winter-resonant clothing is uncomfortable to even look at. Observers tend to drop their gaze before the wearer, and enemies always fail morale checks when fighting them.
Amulets
The wearer of a winter-resonant amulet does not feel pain. If they would be knocked unconcious or disabled by pain, but are not yet dead, they can carry on acting, totally numb to their injuries.


Day

Affinities
Concepts
The clear light of day that illuminates and lays bare. Clarity of information, intellectualism, cerebral thought. Purity, things divided into their proper categories. Certainty, structure, properly applied mechanisms that produce predictable results. The acquisition of knowledge, more than mortal minds can handle. The overwhelming realisation of the totality of things.  
Classical Elements
Sunlight, crystal, water, 
Monsters
Hyper-rational monsters such as modrons. Monsters associated with light, such as will-o-whisps. Monsters with gaze attacks like medusas and beholders. 
Places
Palaces, court-rooms, prisons, and other places of power and control. Factories and workshops. Geo-thermally active places.
Events
Coups, industrial revolutions, court cases.
People
Lawyers, artificers, spies, strategists, inventors.

Uses
Swords
A day-resonant sword cuts through anything. Victims get no benefit to AC from armour or natural toughness.
Other melee weapons
Other day-resonant weapons allow the wielder to see a second or so into the future in snatches and glances. While using such a weapon to attack, the wielder always goes first in initiative.
Other ranged weapons
Day resonant ammunition and other ranged weapons have unlimited range (as far as the eye can see), and never take any penalties for long range.
Armour
Day-resonant armour allows the wearer to know the capabilities (IE the rough stat block -  HD, AC, attacks, vulnerabilities or immunities, special powers, etc) of any being whose attacks successfully penetrate that armour.
Lanterns, torches and other lights
Those illuminated by the light of day-resonant illumination are revealed for what they really are; illusions are dispelled, invisibility and disguises penetrated and the true form of shape-shifters superimposed over them.
Books
Nothing that is written in a day-resonant book will ever be forgotten by the writer. No magic or force can ever compel the writer to revise an opinion they've written in such a book, either, until they revise the written statement.
Jewellery
The wearer of day-resonant jewellery automatically knows any lie told to them, and understands the actual truth instead.
Tools
Day-resonant tools work without any risk of flaws or slip ups. The work might not be good, but the user will never mess up badly enough to be noticed or cause disaster.
Clothing
The wearer of day-resonant clothing is never caught by surprise. Furthermore, they always see through mundane attempts at hiding or disguise, having a sixth sense that alerts them to such things.
Mirrors, lenses, telescopes and so on
Day-resonant viewing items allow the viewer to see all details with absolute accuracy, and to see through solid objects if they wish.


Twilight

Affinities
Concepts
Concealment, illusion. Transitional states. Things fading from memory, things that are forgotten yet still remain. Anonymity, loss of identity, wiping the slate clean. Disguises, masks and veils. Things intentionally erased. Hallucinations, gas-lighting, paranoia. Leaving the past behind and becoming something new in the present, transformation that negates the past. Uncertainty.
Classical Elements
Mist, shadows, sand.
Monsters
Illusions and monsters that use illusions such as hags. Ghosts and lingering spirits. Remnants of ancient civilisations. Monsters that resemble things that they are not such as mimics, cloakers, doppelgangers and so on. 
Places
Empty ruins, lost colonies, mist-shrouded islands.
Events
Revisions of history, becoming lost.
People
Censors, con-artists, those who drink to forget, make-up artists, burglars, those who hide in plain sight.

Uses
Swords
A twilight-resonant sword is near-impossible to perceive, appearing as a cloud of indistinct possible blades that don't reveal its true location. Victims get no benefits to their AC for shields, dexterity, defensive fighting or similar.
Knives
Twilight-resonant knives cause injuries that are not immediately apparent, causing the victim to bleed out without realising. Wounds caused by the knife don't appear for d10 rounds but deal that much extra damage.
Other melee weapons
Twilight-resonant weapons are concealed when carried but not being wielded in combat; no search of the carrier's person will be able to notice them.
Other ranged weapons
Twilight-resonant ammunition and ranged weapons can be shot absolutely silently and with little visible motion. Shooting such a weapon makes no noise and never gives away the wielder's position if they're hidden.
Armour
Twilight-resonant armour is imperceptible when worn. While still bulky and heavy, no observer will ever realise that the wearer is armoured, and will instead believe them an unarmoured, largely helpless civilian until their actions prove otherwise.
Tools
Twilight resonant tools are small, easily concealed and unremarkable looking. They are always overlooked when searched for by anybody but the owner.
Ink, paint, chalk, etc
Things drawn with twilight-resonant materials can be used as if real. They remain real for as long as was spent drawing them, and then fade away to nothing.
Boots
Those wearing twilight-resonant boots never leave any tracks, nor can they be tracked by scent.
Paper
Anything written on twilight-resonant paper is immediately forgotten by the writer, unless the writer knows to mix a little of their blood into the ink. Furthermore, if they read whatever they wrote, their memory might stir but they'll soon forget it again.
Clothing
Twilight resonant clothing is dull, drab and easy to ignore. The wearer gets a 50% chance to hide simply by standing still and blending in- if they already have such a chance to hide (as a thief or halfling perhaps), increase that chance by 50%.
Gloves
Any person who touches a twilight resonant glove with their bare skin (other than the wearer, obviously) forgets that that the wearer was there or what they did once they're no longer in the wearer's presence.
Masks
Twilight-resonant masks perfectly disguise the wearer. Whatever the mask is off, the wearer will seem to all observers to be that thing. 

Night

Affinities
Concepts
Passion, art, madness. Emotions unrestrained by reason. Transformation from moment to moment to reflect whims. Things that should not be known. The transcendence of the spirit over the physical world. The dark womb-crucible which allows the mind to reinvent itself. Shapelessness, amorphousness. The drive to create art, to express one's self in ways that defy rationality. Primordial truths beyond the scope of the rational mind. Mysticism and the higher instinct. Altered states of consciousness. Insanity.
Classical Elements
Darkness, clay, wax.
Monsters
Shapeless primordial monsters such as shoggoths. Insane monsters such as beholders, derro and so on. Beings whose forms are shaped by their emotions such as genies.
Places
Lunatic asylums, artists' collectives, caves inhabited by religious mystics, growths of hallucinogenic plants.
Events
Mass hysteria, religious revivals.
People
Religious mystics, the wildly insane, the most passionate of lovers, alchemists, artists, those who willingly undergo extreme physical transformation.

Uses
Swords
A night-resonant sword causes those it strikes to mutate physically or emotionally, weakening them. Those it strikes must re-roll all their hit-dice, taking the new result if it is worse.
Hammers and maces
Night-resonant hammers and maces cause those they strike to fall asleep, unless they pass a Save vs Magic to resist. 
Other melee weapons
Night resonant weapons can be warped into the shape of a spear, sickle, halberd or two-handed-axe by their wielder, working exactly like a weapon of that type until the wielder lets go or wants to revert them or transform them again.
Other ranged weapons
Those hit by night-resonant missile weapons are physically mutated. They re-roll all their hit-dice, and take the new result if it would be worse.
Armour
Night-resonant armour shifts and alters its shape and fitting to best suit the wearer from moment to moment. It simply doesn't encumber the wearer, at all, ever. If it ever matters if a location is armoured, then it will be for that moment. If the wearer ever needs a location to be exposed, it will be for that moment.
Rope
Night resonant rope moves of its own power, knotting or unknotting, coiling itself, extending and so on as commanded by its owner.
Tools
Night resonant tools work on any material, regardless of suitability. Stone can be sculpted like wax, wood cast and forged like iron, and so forth.
Lanterns, torches and other lights
Those illuminated by the light of night-resonant illumination remain asleep no matter what; no noise, movement or even injury will be sufficient to wake them.
Clothing
If the wearer of night-resonant clothing tastes the blood of another being, their appearance and physical characteristics - including str/dex/con, AC, natural attacks and perhaps even abilities such as flight and physical senses - shift to become a doppelganger of that being. While their mind remains unchanged, their body is transformed, permanently.
Masks
The wearer of a night-resonant mask mentally takes on the traits of whoever the mask depicts. Their personality shifts - possibly including alignment, int/wis/cha and so on - and they may gain or lose abilities such as the capacity to turn undead, immunity to fear, etc. They may forget aspects of their previous life, and start remembering facts that, while obvious to the mask-identity, their real self has no way of knowing. 


New Class: The Artisan
It might be the case that you don't want everybody in your campaign making millions of magic items, and you'd prefer to limit this craft to a single class. If that's the case, here's such a class for you.

Hit Points, Saves, Experience Totals, Attacks, Etc: all as the Magic User.
Tinkering: Get a 5-in-6 chance at the tinkering skill in LotFP, or else 5-in-6 to McGuyver together any gadget that might require a roll, take a mechanism apart etc. 
Artisans: Can make use of the 'supernatural masterpiece' crafting rules given above. If this class is being used, they're the only class that can.
Fast Work: At first level, can complete a crafting project (IE swords, etc) in half the normal time. 1/3 time at 2nd level, 1/4 time at 3rd, etc.
Identify Artifacts: Can identify the magical properties of any material or item that they are able to examine and experiment with for a full hour.
Mastery Of Their Own Tools: When wielding a supernatural masterpiece they made, the artisan can always use it regardless of class restrictions. They can wear any armour they made, wield any weapon, etc. 


---------

six of these seven resonances (spring, summer, autumn, winter, day and night) are based on the magical realms in the larp Empire, by Profound Decisions in the UK. Kudos to them for these, they're pretty great. I've tweaked them a bit, however, and added a seventh.


Friday, 7 June 2019

Guess what's in print?

Wolf-packs & Winter Snow Revise Edition is in print! It's 300ish pages of palaeolithic weird-fantasy and I finally fixed the horrible print errors that made it illegible. So have at it.

That is all. Still osr high priestess.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

On the Place Of Grim Subject Matter

Warning: this is gonna have some bleak stuff, and some stuff relating to sexual violence. In it, I talk about being the edgiest of edgelords, and also delve into some very personal stuff. This may sound worryingly close to storygames. Feel free to skip this one if it's not your cup of tea.

There was a broohaha lately involving a convention rpg one-shot which apparently involved all the PCs getting raped, which is perhaps not the most sensitive way to game with total strangers. 
That's what prompted this post, but the ideas had been milling around in my head for a while.


* * * * *



So. First up, let me tell you about Dr Choi, the pro-life campaigner's worst nightmare.
Dr Choi was a character I ran in a mixed-splat World of Darkness game a few years back. We were all servants of the Wyrm in some capacity; I played a Wyrm-tainted Changeling who worked for Pentex.
Pentex are (in the setting) a spiritually corrupt medical research company, known for their (deliberately) poor ethics and the spiritual taint their products spread, as well as their various bio-weapon related side-projects. Specifically, she worked in Embryology - the study of how embryos develop. Stem cells and all that jazz.

A few months into the game, the Black-spiral-dancer pack I was working with captured a pair (one male, one female) of enemy werewolves. My PC lobotomised them both with silver spikes (to keep them docile) and set about breeding my new test subjects.
This was the beginning of Dr Choi's descent into utter, unrepentant atrocity. All that horrible stuff you're imagining my PC did? I did that. I did worse


People say that playing truly evil characters is dull because doing atrocities gets boring after the first time. Those people lack imagination. 
(It remains a point of pride that the most fucked up PC I've ever played was for Changeling the fucking Dreaming, and that she managed to put the antics of the Tzimisce and BSDs to shame).


Dr Choi is perhaps the most extreme example of this sort of thing, and also somewhat atypical in that she was deliberately as grotesque and horrible as I could possibly make her. Everybody in that game was on-board with going full-throttle horrible and seeing just how dark we could take the world-of-darkness setting.
There are other examples, though, most of them rather more tasteful.


I play in a regular Vampire the Masquerade Larp where - among other things - rape, incest, psychological torture, child trafficking and other nastiness are explicitly on the cards. The game uses pretty careful tools to ensure that players are opting into the darkest stuff, and players who don't want to deal with it don't have to. But. I've dealt with some of the nasty shit in the game, and had a lot of... I wouldn't say fun, for all of it. But they've been experiences I'm glad I had. The game is dark and gothic and atmospheric and genuinely the best larp I've ever been to. It gets under your skin. It's fucking great.
Like, I cannot hype this game up enough. If Bex & Delia (or people who know them) read this, fuck, I can't thank them enough for the work they put in.

Shortly after I lost my Grandmother (who had been there for me in some really difficult times, gave me a place to stay when things were rough at home - of all my family, she was probably the one I was closest to) to Alzheimer's I played in a Changeling the Dreaming game. 
Changeling deals strongly with loss of self; if your memories of your life as a changeling fade into the mundanity of mortal life, how do you respond? How do those watching it respond? How do you face forgetting with dignity?  I'd just watched my closest family member forget who she was and die from it. And then I'm playing a character who's in that situation herself, feeling herself slipping away, watching her reality recede bit by bit to be replaced by something far emptier, knowing that in a few months time she'd have people around her, and she'd not recognise them, and that would break her former friends' and lovers' hearts. So she said her goodbyes and killed herself while she was still herself.
I mean, it was super sad. I cried a bit after the game. But it was also really fucking cathartic. It let me work through a bunch of difficult complicated feelings I'd been trying to ignore. 
Shit like this is why we, as a species, tell stories. 

I'm about to start a VtM 5th Edition game. I'm not a fan of everything that system does, but the way it focuses on feeding and touchstones really zeroes in on the very personal aspects of the game. With the characters we've got set up, it's looking like domestic abuse is gonna be a thing that comes up. And I've got some history with that, that's left me with some emotional issues to work through, but the group are all people I trust and am comfortable with. I'm expecting it to get dark and intense and I'm really looking forward to it.

* * * * *


So, why am I talking about this?
Well. The old staple conversation of Rape In Tabletop RPGs has reared it's head.
On the one side, we have people arguing that you should always be able to rape to your heart's content in RPGs because, uh, free speech? And if a player can't hack that, they shouldn't be playing RPGs. Because, you know... on a certain political wing, Trigger Warnings (and their cousins in RPGs: lines and veils, etc) are a tool of the SJWs that threaten our precious western civilisation.
On the other side, we have people arguing that rape is never OK to put in your games. That old James Desborough article, tastefully named "In Defence Of Rape" gets trotted out and mocked, as does much of the LotFP back catalogue where things get unusually edgy.

Here's the thing: the games listed above - which are, really, only the tip of the iceberg - are some of the best, most intense, most rewarding experiences I've had with RPGs.
There absolutely is a space for this sort of thing in roleplaying, and attempts to erase it leave the artistic and emotional potential of the medium lessened and hollow. 
Indeed, one of my favourite RPGs of all time - Monsterhearts by Avery Alder - is explicitly about messy teenage sexuality, and it can (if the relevant characters are in play and the relevant mechanics get triggered) get real bleak real fast. Its a game where sexuality can be predatory and weaponized and abusive. And, I mean, I've had some (minor) experiences with this sort of thing, but that doesn't get in the way; it gives me that much more context and emotional resonance to draw on.
There have been larp games which have brought me to floods of tears. There have been games where the NPC I played - bleeding and broken, lying twitching and whimpering and screaming - made the players feel ill. This shit can be powerful. The interactivity of the medium, the viscerality of it (particularly in larp, but also in ttrpgs) can make you feel things in ways that other mediums just can't.
I mean, fuck, I talk about WoD a lot in this post, but Death Love Doom is, imho, a fucking masterpiece for how it can get under your skin and really produce an uncomfortable horror experience in a genre (D&D) where that sort of thing doesn't normally go so well.

But, there's a flip side to this. Would I use a Changeling the Dreaming character to work through my grief with a bunch of strangers or casual acquaintances? Of course not. This stuff makes you emotionally vulnerable. It can be too much all in one go. I've had games where we go "ok, that scene was hardcore, let's pause, get some food, and step back from the game to chill" because that level of intensity's unsustainable in more than short bursts.
You gotta use safety mechanics. I'm not a huge fan of the x-card as the main solution to this stuff (I've said so at length here) but other ideas, such as Lines and Veils, and regular check-ins, and so on are vital if you're gonna create an atmosphere where people feel safe and comfortable delving into this stuff. And, indeed, if it all gets too much, you gotta stop the game, because people's emotions take priority over the game unless you're a fucking sociopath.
((Admitedly, I am perhaps not great at calling time-out for my own good sometimes. Like, physically, I've got injured in larp fights by not making the 'pause the game for health and safety' call when somebody was about to stand on my head. I've been hit in the face with the butt of a weapon, spat out a tooth, and kept on playing. I'm not great at self care. But fuck it, I'm having fun and I'm not dead yet.))
And, like, not everybody's gonna be up for this sort of thing all the time. I'm not! A lot of the time I just wanna be chill, throw some dice around, fight some skeletons. Some people are fragile, or don't have the same experiences to draw on, or are uncomfortable exposing themselves like that, or have really nasty memories or phobias, or just don't enjoy horror. That's cool.
I wouldn't have played most of the stuff listed above with total strangers, or with people I didn't trust to handle it well. Even among my IRL friends, there's plenty I wouldn't be happy playing a game like Monster-hearts with.

So what's my point? My point is that this sort of thing is powerful and can lead to some amazing experienes if you go all-in on it. But for it to work, you need a level of trust between everybody involved. Everybody needs to feel safe and to be buying into where the game is going.
Obviously, that can't happen if you spring this stuff on somebody by surprise.
Like the proportion of women that have been raped, sexually assaulted, abused in relationships, etc is pretty fucking high, and this isn't news to anybody with half a brain. But, like, the proportion of men who've had this shit happen to them is surprisingly high as well, and nobody fucking talks about it, which is its own problem. Which means that the chances are, even if you don't know about it, somebody in your group has probably had to deal with this shit irl.
If - and it's a big if - you want to do this sort of thing, you wanna find a group of friends you're comfortable being emotionally open with, and then work out which themes you want to explore. It doesn't have to be rape! You can get really fucking dark with parental abandonment, Alzheimer's, war, all sorts of shit... pick a topic that works for your group.
You can make a joke of it and be grotesque and outlandish - see Dr Choi, above - but that robs the experience of some of its horror and catharsis. Leaning into it, taking it seriously and getting immersed can be really rewarding.
Its not for you, but if you've been considering this sort of game and aren't sure, it gets my seal of approval. But, in the words of an immortal scholar*: The Bleak Horror Of Man's Inhumanity To Man is a Sometimes Food. Maybe play some Paranoia or whatever after to cleanse your palette.
*cookie monster


* * * * *


Unrelatedly, I've declared myself Evil High Priestess of the OSR. I now have a fancy hat, ominous robes, and a wobbly-bladed knife made of obsidian, and am keen to start ripping out hearts and offering them to Ungoliant.
IA IA! SHELOB F'TAGN!


Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Stuff In Print and Other News

Just a quick one, I've finally got test prints back for The Stygian Library and The Dolorous Stroke back that don't have those weird transparency issues, which is nice!
(The solution turned out to be taking a really high-res screenshot of each page, and making a new pdf where each page is just that screenshot as a .png. It's not the most elegant method but it works; there's a slight affect on the crispness of the text but it's basically fine).
So now you can buy them! Here is The Stygian Library and here's The Dolorous Stroke.

There are probably typos, but fuck it they're done now.

Wolfpacks Deluxe will get sorted out and - hopefully - likewise be up for sale soon as well. It's a big chunky 300-page hardback, but I have hope. Likewise Esoteric Enterprises. 

I've revived my 'ship sailing into the west' module idea, and been hashing stuff out for it. That's probably my next project to come out. That or finally finishing the ref stuff for Esoteric Enterprises, but that's gonna be a long slog before it's done.



(There's also still a fundraiser going Mandy's stuff. Any help you can throw at her means a lot.)