Sunday, April 28, 2013

Heigh Ho!

Given that messing around with fantasy games has been a hobby of mine for a couple of decades and I have a very particular sort of brain I have sought out all the words in English that refer to the things of significance to the kinds of games I like. I've long since worked out the rather telling etymological origins of whatever words I find most interesting - wizard comes from Middle English wysard and is much like dullard or drunkard but wiser, warlock comes from Old English waerloga - oathbreaker, and enchanter comes from the Latin incantare and so on. One of the interesting things I discovered recently is that the OED attributes the origin of dweomer (which only ever appeared as an element in compounds pre-Gygax) to Old Norse dvergmal - dwarf-talk. Little details like this are very telling in that they suggest a secret history of things long-forgotten. So dwarfs were actually deeply associated with magic and their very speech was magical.

Dwarfishness is sublimated male sexuality. They epitomise that archaic bargain between the attenuated male mind with its focus on extricating function from materiality and the spatulate female mind with its encompassing of social and environmental context. Dwarfs cannot conceive of the expansive thing that surrounds them but are digging and honing pointedness of purpose and covetice. The Rumpelstiltskin story typifies this bargain and appears in a large number of permutations. The story is that of the covenant between the sexes. One sex can do stuff that the other sex needs but claims mating rights in return. The other sex utilises social chicanery to evade the terms of the covenant. Hilarity ensues.

There is a way of looking at males as parasitic entities*. The fact that their investment in offspring is the lesser means they are compelled to go to greater lengths to demonstrate their fitness. Their gonads dictate this strategy - to infect viable females with endearing offspring that they will dedicate their lives to protecting and perpetuating the male's germline. Some males have this attenuated focus turned up too high: I once encountered a boy who couldn't speak but could focus for hours on rattling random objects around in a plastic container. I didn't know for sure but suspected he probably wasn't popular with girls. Such focus needs to be diluted with a little bit of context awareness.

When Dwarfs are thwarted they lose their shit. This is their schtick and sets their narratives in motion. This is what dwarfs are like and it matters not whether they are the kind of dwarf that is like a corpse that lives in the earth and hides from the sun or the kind that vies with the gods in superhuman romance epics the thing that binds them together is that autistic focus on the thing that consumes them and their tendency to fly of the handle when denied it.


Traditional Scots English is replete with terms describing dwarfs and dwarfish creatures. There are actually many more synonymous terms terms than exist in modern English. There is an extent to which the terminology is quite revealing of a negative attitude towards dwarfism and associations of sickness and deformity. I think it could be safely asserted that most of the terms refer to humans suffering from malnutrition or various disorders stunting growth but there are some that definitely refer to the mythological entities in question. Many refer to specifically deformed or squat or sickly or sinister dwarfs and obviously many are merely spelling/pronunciation variants;

Ablach, Ablich, Aiblach, Aploch, Awtus, Blastie, Bod, Boodie, Bottrel, Buntlin, Crile, Croil, Crok, Crowl, Croyl, Cryle, Dachan, Dreegh, Dreich, Droch, Fere, Herie, Knurl, Knurle, Knurlin, Knyaff, Nauchle, Nirb, Nurrit, Piz, Pizie, Pizzie, Setterel, Shaird, Shard, Sharg, Shargan, Shurf, Skeyf, Snauchle, Urf, Urling, Warf, Wratack, Wraul, Wroul, Wurl, Yurlin

(Incidentally this reminds me of
one of my favourite ever OSR blog posts from the long extinct  dormant Valley of Blue Snails blog and which old Dogsbody almost certainly derived from this article about mediaeval bynames. Fantastical racism is something I very much enjoy. ) 


Dwarfs covet treasure. It is what they do. There is an extent to which it can be said that they are the embodiment of that notion. As a result of this fact and of the fact that dwarfs have been around a long time and have histories tangled up with that of treasure there is a very real chance that individual hoards and individual articles belonging to individual hoards have some kind of dwarf yearning after it and swearing bitterest vengeance against those who would keep it from them. As such, for every hundred groats worth of treasure found in a hoard there is a 1% chance that there is a dwarf that feels very strongly that he has some claim over it. This chance is much greater for legendary treasures of dweomercraft (and certain other things) 20% of which have a dwarfish claimant. Depending on their natures, dwarfs might be willing to negotiate or in some cases make bargains but, dependent upon their nature, they may just start killing . It is not always clear how they know that their beloved hoard has been unearthed but they will tend to turn up in 1d20 days.

Avaricious claimant;

1. Trolde - eldritch mysteries

2. Svartling - devices of artifice most cunning

3. Trow - funerary trappings, barrow-hoards

4. Pech - beast fells, objects of horn and bone, bronze weapons

5. Blastie - fine fabrics and magical garments

6. Shargan - weird pets, strange creatures

7. Knockerman - rare ores, uncut gems

8. Bodach - figurines of domestic gods, ornate vessels and silverware

Fell Dwarfs


Grewsome Trolde: Corpse-worm white haunters of the burrowing dark. Loathsome and long-buried odium incarnate creeping through the endless night of the underworld. Dead-eyed and reeking like grave-sod they are, gnawing like rats at the world's root. Trolde seek an unspeakable mystery in the blackest chasms and shun the light that shuns them in return.

Max. Charisma 3. Equipment options:

1. Gloom Lanthorn - of battered lead, burns black bile , foils infravision 30', 20 groats

2. Iron Guthook - d6 dmg, 5 groats

3. Nadder-Stane - perforated stone through which it is possible to detect invisible 1/day with 1% cumulative chance of seeing a vagrant enormity which sees right back, 300 groats

4. Brither Bulhorn: sinister grey snail exudes 1 dose of sleep poison per day, it takes 3 turns for the snail to apply the poison to the weapon, 100 groats

5. Fenris Cur: Feral, gaunt and haggard, hairless, earless, snarling hell-jackals AC: 7 MV: 180' (60') HD 1/2 dmg: 1d3 ML: 4, 100 groats for 3

6. Ethercap's Bile: grants +3 STR and -6 INT for d6 rounds before 6 turns of debilitating vomiting, 50 groats for 3 doses

 Svartling: Blue-black and bristly smithy-workers of the shadowy underworlds, forever forging chains to bind the hated uplanders to despicable thraldom in their endless mines. Beauty to them is the hammering clangour of the rhythm of artifice and the colour of bruises and iron and soot. Of old they were the craftsmen of the gods but they are fallen into shadow. 

Max. Charisma 5, Equipment options:

1. Iron Mole-mask - +1 AC, +1 to saving throws vs. fire, 100 groats

2. Orichalchum Habergeon - (mail coif) +1 AC, +1 to saving throws vs. lightning, 120 groats

3. Adamant Warhammer - 1d6 dmg. +1 vs. heavy armour, 50 groats

4. Aureal Lodestone - Drawn to gold within 5', poisonous: -1 WIS per week to user, 180 groats

5. Unbreakable Manacles of blue-black steel - 150 groats

6 .Heavy Windlass Arbalest: ROF 1/2 dmg d10, 80 groats

Dun-Trow: Solitary stunted things in stone towers long-abandoned. In the brochs and duns of the bleak emptiness long forgotten and forsaken they squat, shaggy and a-glower. They inhabit a sullen brown world of sullen brown desolation. Their only occupation is hobbling about on twilit paths to the secret places of their hoarded trinkets and dancing the quaint awkward mysteries of their birthright.

Max. Charisma 7. Equipment options

1. Noxious sphagnum brew - of sovereign virtue 'gainst the pox, allows second saving throw, 60 groats

2. Toadstone - poison antidote, +2 to saving throw, 150 groats

3. Wulver-skin - Stinking black fur, +1 to AC, +1 to saving throws vs. cold, 80 groats

4. Ancestral blackthorn cudgel - 1d6 dmg, 20 groats

5. Flint Skean - Stone sacrificial knife - d3 dmg but can strike invulnerable spirit entities, 50 groats

6. Copper Eft Amulet - Coiled newt, verdigris encrusted, acts as a mystic key into seemingly impassable brochs, 60 groats


Pech: Little grey stone-ghosts from an archaic epoch. The pech are uncouth and woady, craggy-browed and unlovely - weird shades in earthy guise. They bear inscribed upon their bodies curious designs, the sigils of ancestral beast-gods and sacred trees and things unknown spiralling and coiling on the flesh. In chambers beneath the lonely hills they forge weapons and panoply of gilded bronze but guard their secrets with bestial ferocity.

Max. Charisma 9. Equipment options;

1. Leaf-shaped ancestral bronze sword: 1d6 dmg, can harm otherwise invulnerable spirits, 100 groats

Cruths (mystical tattoos);

2. Badger's Rage: +1 dmg 1/day, 100 groats

3. Salmon Leaping: win initiative 1/day, 100 groats

4. White Bull at Bay: heal 1 dmg 1/week, 80 groats

5. Heron's Vigil: only surprised on a 1, 1 hour/day, 80 groats

6. Sagacious Birch: Read Languages 1/week, 120 groats




Petty Dwarfs


Though it may seem I'm appropriating the nomenclature of the Noegyth Nibin, in truth those are actually Petty-Dwarves. I'm using the now largely obsolete pre-Tolkien plural and am nothing if not pedantic.


Blastie: Diminutive drunken gaberlunzies, tattered and lumpen. Blasties hide in the shade of mannish edifice and wheedle and gripe after scraps. They have made an art of grimacing drolleries and tumblings to elicit guffaws and alms from the bigger folk who might otherwise fear and hate and enslave them for their ugliness. Articles of finery suggestive of unobtainable gentleness and grace awake a covetous fire in their humble hateful hearts.

Max. Strength 10, Equipment options;

1. Juniper Spirit - Makes men maudlin yet malleable, +3 to reaction for potential hirelings, 3 doses for 30 groats

2. Firewater - Spit fire, d8 dmg. 10' range, ignore armour, 3 doses for 50 groats

3. Awfish Whisky - heals d2 dmg but crippling cramps (as hold person) for 1 turn, 40 groats for 3 doses

4. Tattermantle - +1 to reaction among roguish types, -1 to others, 20 groats

5. Hurdy-gurdy - CHA check to successfully play rousing tune, +2 morale if successful, -2 if unsuccessful, morale bonus only applies while tune is being played, penalty continues for 1 turn, 70 groats

6. Itching powder - DEX check to apply, -1 to AC and hit rolls for 1 turn to whosoever should be affected, failed check backfires, 30 groats for 3 doses

Shargan: Scrawny, scabrous and greedy cellar-dwelling gimps. Perhaps merely descendants of vile and debilitated humanity, the shargans occupy the desolate periphery of the mannish world, peddling articles of tin and repairing broken crocks. They keep caged menageries of vermin who are their beloved hateful children and furtively covet the comely and the innocent and everything that glitters.

Max. Constitution 10. Equipment options;

1. Fess-cat: Unnaccountably fierce grey feline, AC6 MV: 240' (80') HD 1/4 dmg: d2 ML: 10, 100 groats

2. Gangrel-bitch: loathsome, stinking she-dog, AC: 7 MV:150'(50') HD: 1/2 dmg: d3 + horrors ML: 5, 120 groats

3. Flaycruke : Tatty raven with dead eyes that yet see, speaks , AC: 7 MV 300'(100') HD: 1/4 dmg: 1 ML: 8, 150 groats

4: Gnattery Sow: Small, black and furious, forages successfully almost anywhere and can be milked for nourishment for one dwarf, AC: 8 MV: 120' (30') HD: 1 dmg: d2 ML:6, 100 groats

5.Duleskin Crabbe: In an urn full of gravel and brine, can pick locks 10% 1/day, 30 groats

6. Yellerish Warbler: Quaint songbird of irksome purplish brown hue, gives warning of encroaching danger, surprised only on a 1, 40 groats

Knockerman: Featurelessly drear and stony grey mine-sprites. Dull of countenance and bleakly impassive save for glimmerings of trenchant prankishness and the lust for mineral wealth in their hard eyes. Stone they love and veins of ore they sense like invisible radiance surging from the earth-deeps. Their desire to assist human miners has faded to a vague resentful murderousness.

Max. Wisdom 12. Equipment options;

1. Brazen Ear Trumpet: Detect sliding stonework 1-5 on d6, 80 groats

2. Tinker Hammer: Detect stone traps 1-5 on d6, 60 groats

3. War Mattock: d10 dmg, +2 to open doors, 50 groats

4. Lantern Helm: 20' illumination, adversely affects light-sensitive entities, +1 AC, 60 groats

5. Bane-Ore:Greenish lump repels cave vermin 20' (morale check), 120 groats

6. Signal Hammer: Tapping conveys signal through 100' of stone, d4 dmg, 10 groats


Chimbley Bodach: Old men of vigorous and vehement decrepitude smothered in coal-dust and misery. Of old they may have had some role in noble servitude to the ancient heathen godlings but they are reduced to living in abandoned chimneys and seething with the peculiar resentment held by the obsolete for those who still participate in the world-in-motion. Their thieveries are exceedingly petty and indiscriminate.

Max. Intelligence 10. Equipment options;

1. Ninkip-in-the-Cauldron: Apparently dead cat, knows the way 20% of the time

2. Blinding Smut: hurled in the air requires save vs. dragon breath or blind for 1d4 rounds, 50% chance it backfires.

3. Iron Earshank; 1d4 dmg, 1d10 vs. individuals without helmets, 80 groats

4. Mordant Pizzle-reek: A clay pot full of acrid foulness, acts as stinking cloud, 20' radius, 150 groats

5. Shuck Whistle: Wandering monsters arrive in d4 rounds, 50 groats

6. Smetchy Mantle: dull black tatty rags, allow surprise on 1-3, 30 groats


There are or were also Dweorgs or Dvergar, the ancestral and undiminished craftsman of the  morningtide of the world but they come not into this tale for they were man-high and comely to look upon and did not stink.

This is an appropriately dark and corrupted take on dwarfishness
* In the case of males of certain species of angler fish they have actually evolved to become tiny appendages attached to the female.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Fear and Madness

Alan Lee

The psychedelic, demonic, Dung Age/Crapsack paradigm dictates that there be things that man cannot look upon without soiling himself or gibbering and quaking like a frightened toddler. I like the insanity rules in Call of Cthulhu and concur with whoever the hell it was I read once who wrote of the insanity rules as the reward mechanic of that system.

Now I am not going to go to the extent of constructing a whole 'nother mechanic because I believe in parsimony whenever possible. I like D&D because it is like a twelve-bar blues. One need not get too ornate to be able to tell a compelling story if one uses a solid foundation.

Fear and Insanity in Labyrinth Lord can be adequately modelled with spell effects. This is not an original sentiment and I am sure someone in the OSR has written almost precisely this post probably around 2009-ish but since I cannot secure the resource and intend to incorporate something of a fear mechanic into monster descriptions I will go ahead and describe the mechanics. Someone tell me and I'll credit the originator.

In ascending order of frightfulness;
Daunting - make morale check (hirelings only)
Fearsome - flee in terror (as cause fear)
Terrible - faint dead away (as sleep)   
Horrifying - freeze rigid in paralytic fear (as hold person
Abominable - become utterly bewildered (as confusion
Unspeakable - lose your mind (as feeblemind)  

 From Labyrinth Lord, it's not like I think you kids don't know this but I like convenient things;

Remove Fear (reversible)
Level: 1
Duration: 2 turns
Range: Touch
This spells instills courage in the subject, and potentially
removes the effect of magic-induced fear by allowing the
target a saving throw versus spells to attempt to remove the
effects. The subject receives a saving throw bonus of +1 per
level of the caster.
Remove fear counters and dispels cause fear. The subject must
be touched for the spell to take effect.
Cause fear (reverse of remove fear ) will cause a subject who is
touched to run away, hysterical, at full running movement for
a number of rounds equal to the casterÊs level.
Level: 1
Duration: 4d4 turns
Range: 240'
A sleep spell causes a magical slumber to come upon
creatures with 4+1 Hit Die or fewer. The caster may only
affect 1 creature if it has 4+1 HD, but the spell will otherwise
affect up to 2d8 HD of creatures. Calculate monsters with less
than 1 HD as having 1 HD, and monsters with a bonus to HD
as having the flat amount. For example, a 3+2 HD monster
would be calculated as having 3 HD. Hit Die that are not
sufficient to affect a creature are wasted. Creatures with the
fewest HD are affected first. Sleeping creatures are helpless
and can be killed instantly with a blade weapon. Slapping or
wounding awakens an affected creature, but normal noise
does not.

Sleep does not affect undead creatures.
Hold Person
Level: 2
Duration: 9 turns
Range: 180'
When this spell is cast, most humanoids become paralyzed
and freeze in place. Undead and any monster of a greater
size than an ogre are unaffected. They are aware and breathe
normally but cannot take any actions, even speech. Subjects
may attempt a saving throw versus spell. This spell can effect
1d4 beings, but if directed at a single monster or character,
the saving throw is attempted with a –2 penalty
Level: 4
Duration: 12 rounds
Range: 120'
This spell causes 3d6 targets to become confused, making
them unable to independently determine what they will do.
Roll on the following table at the beginning of each subject’s
turn each round to see what the subject does in that round.
Roll 1d10 Behavior
1-4 Attack caster’s group.
5-6 Do nothing but babble incoherently.
7-10 Attack creature’s group.
A confused character that can’t carry out the indicated action
does nothing but babble incoherently.
Level: 5
Duration: Indefinite
Range: 240'
If the target creature fails a saving throw versus spell with a –4
penalty, it becomes a mental invalid. The affected creature is
unable to speak, cast spells, understand language, or
communicate coherently. The subject remains in this state
until a dispel magic spell is used to cancel the effect of the

I think of this system as being something that can be applied to the more bizarre chimaerae and spectral entities and things from the bottomless pit and something that complements rather than replaces the caution of players - insta-kill and level-drain creates its own fear.
 -Dwarfs are next

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Plug: Last Gasp Grimoire

Get ye forth and visit Logan Knight's site;

It's a gorgeous site and Logan is very clever. He has just a little bit of body horror going on, by which I mean his mind is an abbatoir of abominations loathsome to behold. He's a capital fellow, though, and seems to exorcise all his demons into horrifically mentally scarring random tables which will seriously fuck you up if you read them.

The stuff is surreal and demonic and hilarious...

"Your lips seal shut like they never existed and your tongue seems to double in size, it's moving around your mouth and feels like it's getting bigger, it's trying to choke you. If you bite your tongue in half you'll find that your mouth is full of black, legged maggots, and your lips were never sealed shut.
50% chance you really did bite your tongue in half"


Saturday, April 13, 2013

Fallen Elves

"We must depart into the West, or dwindle to a rustic folk of dell and cave, slowly to forget and to be forgotten."

Saw the remnants of our people
Sweeping westward, wild and woeful,
Like the cloud-rack of a tempest,
Like the withered leaves of Autumn!

Longfellow -Song of Hiawatha

A Elbereth Gilthoniel silivren penna míriel o menel aglar elenath!

Na-chaered palan-díriel o galadhremmin ennorath,

Fanuilos, le linnathon nef aear, sí nef aearon!

which Tolkien translates as;

O Elbereth who lit the stars

From glittering crystal slanting falls
With light like jewels from Heaven on high

The glory of the starry host

To lands remote I have looked afar And now to thee, Fanuilos

Bright spirit clothed in ever-white

I here will sing beyond the sea

Beyond the wide and sundering sea

which bears some resemblance to a passage from another hymn

O Elbereth Gilthoniel

We still remember, we who dwell

In this far land beneath the trees

Thy starlight on the western seas

Despite being a lifelong atheist I've always had a powerful sense of the transcendent. These passages and the merest mention of the theme that Tolkien placed at the heart of his legendarium -the long defeat of the elves- used to make me shiver with delight when I was a child and weep piteously as a corrupt and drug-fucked young man. Though the Longfellow quote does not refer to the elves the theme is the same. There is a defeat that will consume everything and the world will pass away from us all and the only holding on is letting go. Sic transit gloria mundi.

I loved Tolkien's elves with such a fierceness that it galled me to see what happened to fantasy and what is still happening with the genericising tide of banality drowning the fierce joy and sorrow. Everyone now thinks elf means long straight hair and languid insouciant poise and my curmudgeonly intolerance waxed mightily before I realised I don't really care.

I like the idea of bypassing Tolkien whenever possible. There is enough precursor material that one can get by without plagiarising, indeed, one could be picky in one's plagiarisms and build something entirely different from; Druedain, Bombadil, Southrons, Mewlips, Numenorean oddities and Tevildo: Prince of Cats but I digress.


If you aren't very good at drawing it can help to loosen the wrist a little, and the mind also. Scribble away. This is something I stressed when I was teaching kids about art-making. Unless you know what you are doing that implement you have for mark-making is going to keep its secrets, inside every pen is a bewildering infinity of marks but only crap things will happen if you haven't the witchery to unleash it. When there are things that you can do and practices or exercises you can undertake that makes it easier then it is as though you've glimpsed some kind of sorcery beyond space and time. We as a species, as a culture, as a conglomerate entity, we have techniques available for unlocking the gate that leads to the miracle burning in the marrow of us but it's too easy to mooch around outside in a kind of desolate fecklessness. This desolate feckless mooching is where the bad things happen. It makes me think of the banal atrocities perpetrated by those whose cultures have been destroyed. It is on the outside of the capacity to experience the numinous heart of everything that these horrors are. The frustration with the world that is the frustration of the uninitiated is a haunted and famishing thing.

It makes me think also of the look on the faces of people who are on the road with a barrow-load of items while men with machetes and guns and toxic ideologies are making free with their homeland. Such people never thought the structure of their lives would be so thoroughly undone. They look as surprised that such things occur in the world as I would be.


If there are elves then they are simultaneously fickle and flighty and steeped in ancient wisdom and weird. The Good Folk and Fair Folk and Gude Neighboures are all euphemisms for what they really are; Evil and Ugly, Bad Neighbours, or at the very least Not Like Us. Not for nothing are diminished Tuatha De Danann and Vanir mixed up with the lost souls of the unbaptised dead and the pagan ancestors and fallen angels. Not for nothing is the boundary between fairy and demon and ghost a bit blurry.

It should be remembered that traditional folks have that marvellous tendency to ascribe everything to supernatural agency. Elves made you sick or killed you with magic or curdled milk, knotted horse's manes, pinched milkmaids, stole children and replaced them. It is this last relationship like that of cuckoos parasitising other birds that defines my own understanding of elves.

These cuckoos are common where I am and use their eldritch mocking cry to distract and enrage crows and currawongs so that their nests may be parasitised.

If elves are anything they are witnesses of the wild purity of existence. They were there, right there in the centre of things, watching the demiurgic agency ushering forth the thing-in-itself from nescience - gorging on the fugitive light. Their relinquishing of undifferentiated prime seems a defeat, a sundering, a fall from grace. Their walking with us on the earthly plane bitter to them, and they are sufficiently alienated from the human world that perhaps they care not what they do to us. Indeed they prey upon us or adorn us with flowers and bestow unimaginable pleasures upon us in turn without distinction. They are elementally amoral. The fall of the elves is like the fall of an older order of existing in the world in a purely poetic dimension of existence to a dull prosaic world. Among humans they suffer the alienation of the disenfranchised and the persecuted.

Alongside this alienness which in itself is sufficient cause for genocidal racism there is the fact that they can all cast spells. Any one of them could use magic to blind you or put you to sleep or strike you down from afar. This again brings to mind the fear of sorcery in traditional cultures. In the excellent film Ten Canoes the Yolngu men have a discussion about what would happen if you leave a turd in the bush where a sorceror could find it. They envisage different scenarios where, for example, the sorceror puts your turd up in a tree and when the branches rub together you get a sore throat. If the accounts of the burning times and the accounts of contemporary traditional cultures tell us anything it is that people have a terrible paranoid fear of malign sorcery and are happy to anthropomorphise ailments and misfortune especially if they can find a friendless old lady to brutalise. It's happening somewhere in Africa right now.

Judson Huss: preposterously bizarre

OK, well I've edited out a vague meandering ramble about setting design. Suffice to say I believe in brevity and the necessity of inducing some kind of exercise in creativity for the GM and players. The setting is always going to be a collaborative exercise. I'm more interested in establishing tone and promoting a trope-armature upon which can be hung internally consistent elements.

So I'm dealing with a Crapsack World setting where the elves are strange. The True Elves (who are higher level) live apart in hollow hills which are the otherworld and are preposterously bizarre and beyond my remit right now. The elves I am dealing with are lost in the diminishing world, grown senile and disparate and corrupt. These are the rustic folk of dell and cave.

PC elves are something I dealt with years ago and I guess remain somewhat relevant but what I am interested in doing is weaving a few little weird fragments together with a kicker. Assuming race-as-class and the existence of spellbooks there is an interesting little reward mechanic that can be used to send magic-users and elves trooping around the countryside in search of elfin magic and things to trade for it. The idea of intra-level reward mechanics needs fleshing out further later on.

First level spells vary so widely in power and utility it seems a bit ridiculous. They are a very interesting glimpse into the early game, two of the spells can be replaced by a padlock and a wheelbarrow.

Every elf is a first-level LL elf with one 1st level spell

Note on nomenclature: I've named my elves using a fair few obsolete dialect words (because it makes me feel so very clever) e.g. Sloomit Waghorn means "slovenly villain/trickster" and Habberjock means "turkey cock" and by extension "thick-lipped idiot".

Misergeist: Hold Portal - Hooky emaciated gloating buzzard-folk; Long and twisted are they and keepers of secrets . The geists are melancholy avarice embodied, hook-nosed and sallow flinthearts that spend their lives gloating over tarnished pewter in the dim and secret cysts of the margins of the world. Misergeists are vanishingly few and bereft of generative vitality; always they seek brides and bridegrooms favoured by the heavens.

Sloomit Waghorn: Read Languages - Conspiratorial manipulative lurkers in alcoves. Hidden in the Bounder-Keeps of the imperium's tattered brink are the fey and crump-horned scholars of the dead years. They keep chronicles kept in dusty archives in which are remembered the aeons of the Earth's dark prime and dynasties beyond. They seek runestones and ogham-staves and other archaic inscriptions.

Worriganger: Light - Feral outcasts shrouded in rags and dusty fur who live alone in desolation. They are dusky and angular strangers who mutter in their solitude and follow after the wayward with wolfish intent. Worrigangers are feared and abhorred such that the name is a malediction cast upon the rapist and the hearthless vagrant.

Habberjock: Shield - Thick-lipped grotesques of apparently majestic stupidity. Habberjocks are outlandishly ugly changeling children grown man-high and uglier still. their voices are thick and unctuous and their eyes dull and gleaming. They delight in the company of geese and mules and in the slow-worm and eft.

Brackenfrau: Charm Person - Burnished nut-brown moon-faced wenches with crinkly hair that lurk in the withery drears and fern-brakes of a grey autumn. Out in the dappled half-light they dwell in hovels and weave plots to capture comely admirers. They trade in stolen children and seek to use their powers of persuasion to encourage the starveling poor to part with their offspring.

Hollowback Ylfen: Detect Magic - Fair to look upon from the front but weirdly hollow and cow-tailed behind. The Ylfen pass briefly unnoticed among humans seeking articles of spae-craft hidden among the detritus of decaying civilisation. To them, all magical trinkets are their province, to be purloined and returned to the barrows where they reign in solitude.

Gluntie Queyne: Magic Missile - Gangling, bristly and ungainly fairy women. Horse-faced and haggard and possessed of an abrasive angularity of demeanour. The Glunties dwell apart in realms of fearful loneliness as their capacity to strike men dead with elf-shot makes them formidable and hated and their tendency to imbibe inebriants immoderately makes them unpredictable.

Flibbertigibbet: Ventriloquism - Far too slender and unearthly to be beautiful -glittering dark and furtive craven wispy fey who haunt the fen-lands and spinneys. They have an unwholesome predilection for leadings-astray and yearn merely to caress the placid faces of the wayward dead. The living are too too coarse and earthly for them.

Scalbert Gumph: Sleep - Shambolic fae manifest as slobbery dullards that sleep under bridges and in abandoned mills. They shamble about in the drunken twilight seeking the unwary with groping fingers and muttering dark lullabies. More than anything they desire comely sheep and black roses and locks of maiden's hair.

Ouphe: Floating Disc- Gawping outlandish pudding-headed wanderers. Mostly harmless, ouphes prance uncouthly around the peripheries of the world and laugh at thunder and cry at sunlight and sleep in ditches. What they value is hard to gauge but they have little to offer anyone that makes any sense so it matters little
Capripeds: Protection from Evil - Unctuous epicurean blackguards who traffick with strange forces. In the high hills the Capripeds dance in the new moon's dark with godless things from elder aeons, for the shades can touch them not and the awfish nymphs of the unbegotten prime harm them not for they wrap themselves in webs of glamer.

Canny Childe: Read Magic - Diminutive starry-eyed archaics of cherubic seeming. Like unto a child of ten or eleven years in aspect but with a wry glance and a knowingness beyond their apparent youth, the Canny parasitise human dwellings where they can creep about seeking the glyphs and sigils of arcane witchery and abuse the trust they elicit in their hosts to worm their way into vaults of secret gramarye.

Apropos of nothing: The man is a sorceror

Wednesday, April 10, 2013


Because I feel like I have a limit to the number of times I can dip into my word-hoard to weave together disparate elements into pithily empurpled wads of inextricably tightly-tangled prose I feel I must practice. If I think for but a moment I know there are limitless (at least based upon the time left before the heat-death of the universe) sentences I can construct but many of them suck. This makes me wonder, what is the percentage of possible sentences that don't suck?

So, Yes. Stealing from Patrick the idea of a city beleaguered without hope. Stealing that line from my favourite version of the Fall of Gondolin, stealing the idea of mechanical beasties from that self-same version of that self-same story. Stealing from Bakshi, stealing from Miller all to make a synoptical gibberish version of, like, Dragonlance (40K).

Yes, Tolkien wrote of this occurring

The good ideas from Dragonlance are awesomely sensually satisfying complicated machines and Tiamat as Sauron - but with a fucking stupid non-Mesopotamian name that will not evoke sorcery and devil-worship, To which I say, every one of the Hydra's heads is named after a different Mesopotamian goddess, Ninti, Inanna, Ereshkigal, Ashtoreth, Ishkur etc. etc. and you need to chant their names in ecstatic frenzy before the game or it Will Not Be Fun.



The knocker-men are dead or banished from the world, they that were hidden cunning personified. Of old in their deeply dolven forge-citadels they crafted uncanny devices of marvelous contrivance like unto heraldic grotesques of iron and lead and beaten tin with hearts of poisonous fire and lightning. These things became the steeds of the champions of the Tame who rode them to war against the inconceivable abominations that came from beyond the world.

This would be the knockermen at work

For the million-headed Hydra had come from Outside and from Her did issue the abominable spawn of nethermost abysms, they that were infinite hunger and destruction that cleft the sky. And it rained blood.

And the Last Citadel stood like a mountain of steel as reared from the barren plain in rampart piled upon bulwark and bastion unyielding -a thousandfold fortress against the darkness.

From the blasphemous horizon comes a hellish tide of doom. Life recedes. The world is defiled. The Hydra trumpets her challenge with a sound like universes torn asunder.


Unfortunately the Androtaureans and Kinder-grigs and Scumlickers have passed from the world with the Knockermen, as though the forces of unspeakable chaos thought it unnecessary to have three different comic-relief races and unnecessarily jarring proud-warrior race guys. Everyone denies there was ever an such thing as prissy pseudo-elven proto-ogres for obvious reasons. This leaves only men and elves and dwarves and, I guess, halflings - because I fuck not with canon unless that canon be utterly iredeemable. I reckon the halflings were just some paedomorphic strain of dwarvenkind who arrived at the citadel during the great refugee crisis of whenever it was the Hydra's horrible children arrived.

Everything outside is the wasteland. I fucking loved the word wasteland when I was a child and I can still see the desolation and the skulls. There are savage tribes of mutant fiends writhing in their fiendishness and manifold pulpy weirdnesses such as would be disgorged from a buncha random tables. The Hydra-Spawn belching blasphemous odium sprawl in the crevices of the world or soar through irradiated vermilion skies.

Knockertech devices are of intricately devised metallurgy and diligently serrated meshing cogwork and alchemical essences. They are spiky and fluted and flanged, hissing and churning, grindingly vital in their secret mechanical hearts - the last hope of the world manifest in miracles of forgotten artifice.

They generally manifest in forms like unto the beasts of heraldry as aforetime adorned the regalia of vainglorious knightly orders long since incinerated - the Brock, the Phoenicopterus, the Martlet, the Enfield, the Fierce Tyger, the Tatzelwurm, the Hippalectryon, the Crocuta and the Amphiptere among many others, all cunningly rendered in metal. These devices fight alongside the Forlorn Hope of desperate lunatics that issue forth from the Citadel against the nameless Behemoths of horn and hide. And upon the gleaming backs of fulminating Lindwurmes of orichalcum and in hidden chambers within iron Leviathans the most vaunted zealots of iron law unleash righteous fury and elemental destruction upon the invincible enemy.



There is a Carcass reference for those of you playing at home. Oh, and some kind of setting for Ron Edwards' Sorceror informed this.