Tuesday, February 3, 2015


I don't own a copy of Dwimmermount so I don't know how this would play out in the original but it seems at least vaguely cromulent. This dungeon was generated through use of the find/replace function working from Zak's fairly recent MadLibMount post, I haven't seen any others. 

I don't know what most of the names actually refer to but I enjoy the mental image of the Profligate Messiah of Charnel Grace riding around in a Bonnacon Automaton. For those who don't know what a Bonnacon is, here is the entry on one of my favourite websites of all time.

There was a ribaldry present in real mediaeval culture that was swept under the carpet by so many post-Victorian or WASP-y American fantasy writers that I am not ashamed to be childishly amused by. Here a couple of other cultural touchstones I'd like to reference for tone. First, from the superb The Worm Ouroboros by E. R. Eddison, the description of the fight with the manticore (near the top of the tallest mountain in the world, mind you);

"Small time was there to ponder. Swinging from hold to hold across the
dizzy precipice, as an ape swingeth from bough to bough, the beast
drew near. The shape of it was as a lion, but bigger and taller, the
colour a dull red, and it had prickles lancing out behind, as of a
porcupine; its face a man's face, if aught so hideous might be
conceived of human kind, with staring eyeballs, low wrinkled brow,
elephant ears, some wispy mangy likeness of a lion's mane, huge bony
chaps, brown blood-stained gubber-tushes grinning betwixt bristly
lips. Straight for the ledge it made, and as they braced them to
receive it, with a great swing heaved a man's height above them and
leaped down upon their ledge from aloft betwixt Juss and Brandoch Daha
ere they were well aware of its changed course. Brandoch Daha smote at
it a great swashing blow and cut off its scorpion tail; but it clawed
Juss's shoulder, smote down Mivarsh, and charged like a lion upon
Brandoch Daha, who, missing his footing on the narrow edge of rock,
fell backwards a great fall, clear of the cliff, down to the snow an
hundred feet beneath them.
As it craned over, minded to follow and make an end of him, Juss smote
it in the hinder parts and on the ham, shearing away the flesh from
the thigh bone, and his sword came with a clank against the brazen
claws of its foot. So with a horrid bellow it turned on Juss, rearing
like a horse; and it was three heads greater than a tall man in
stature when it reared aloft, and the breadth of its chest like the
chest of a bear. The stench of its breath choked Juss's mouth and his
senses sickened, but he slashed it athwart the belly, a great round-
armed blow, cutting open its belly so that the guts fell out. Again he
hewed at it, but missed, and his sword came against the rock, and was
shivered into pieces. So when that noisome vermin fell forward on him
roaring like a thousand lions, Juss grappled with it, running in
beneath its body and clasping it and thrusting his arms into its
inward parts, to rip out its vitals if so he might. So close he
grappled it that it might not reach him with its murthering teeth, but
its claws sliced off the flesh from his left knee downward to the
ankle bone, and it fell on him and crushed him on the rock, breaking
in the bones of his breast. And Juss, for all his bitter pain and
torment, and for all he was well nigh stifled by the sore stink of the
creature's breath and the stink of its blood and puddings blubbering
about his face and breast, yet by his great strength wrastled with
that fell and filthy man-eater. And ever he thrust his right hand,
armed with the hilt and stump of his broken sword, yet deeper into its
belly until he searched out its heart and did his will upon it,
slicing the heart asunder like a lemon and severing and tearing all
the great vessels about the heart until the blood gushed about him
like a spring. And like a caterpillar the beast curled up and
straightened out in its death spasms, and it rolled and fell from that
ledge, a great fall, and lay by Brandoch Daha, the foulest beside the
fairest of all earthly beings, reddening the pure snow with its blood.
And the spines that grew on the hinder parts of the beast went out and
in like the sting of a new-dead wasp that goes out and in continually.
It fell not clean to the snow, as by the care of heaven was fallen
Brandoch Daha, but smote an edge of rock near the bottom, and that
strook out its brains. There it lay in its blood, gaping to the sky."
Emphasis mine. Were it not for their Jacobean eloquence the protagonists of Ouroboros could be high-level PCs in anyone's campaign, Obsessed with adventurous striving and unconcerned of the consequences of their actions so long as their pride and honour is not questioned.

The other touchstone is a part of a Russian film I just became aware of today called Hard to be a God, based on a 1964 novel by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, the film is new and looks fantastically abject and I will never be able to see it at the cinema without extensive travel. It is the most Middenmurky piece of culture I've ever seen.

Here is the teaser, it is short, imagine this world when reading the dungeon;

 Marrowdank Level 8: The Copromancers' Sanctum

Wandering Monsters for this Level

1 Tutelary Vagrant of Wicker and Twine
2 d2 Copromancers
3 Mantled Incandescence
4 Rider of the Flensing Wind
5 Phlegethonic Imperatrix
6 Chancreous Rampart
7 d8 Picklebrides
8 Cindergimp 
9 d4 Ambulant Slurries that once were men
10 4+d4 Svartling Contraptioneer cultists
11 Creeping Melancholia
12 Tunnel Rukh

1. Fuck all.

2. Pinchbeck Drudge attacks anyone without Sevenfold Mitre

3. Gastrophetes of Dispatch bears message saying to place Thighbone of St. Asprandulo into a ikon-niche.
-If someone performs the action and makes a save vs device, an Sevenfold Mitre appears
-If they fail a Malodorous Glyphe is placed on the Thighbone of St. Asprandulo and also d4 Pinchbeck Drudges come from Rms 8 and 9 and attack.
_If--after 2 minutes--no-one places their Thighbone of St. Asprandulo into the ikon-niche, d4 Pinchbeck Drudges come from Rms 8 and 9 and attack.

4. If the Privy Sump has been clear for more than a day: 8 guards from Svartling Contraptioneers
If it has not, the rooms contains The Laird of the Fleas, a Nexus of Bale.

5. Rhadamanthus Mandragore, a Copromancer is here and, if The Laird of the Fleas isn't in Rm 4, The Laird of the Fleas is here, too.
Rhadamanthus Mandragore is trying to deactivate the barricade of martyr’s bones that cuts off access to Rm 41 from this room and Rm 27 and will try to cajole the party into helping. Rhadamanthus Mandragore has Jawbone of St. Ghispert the Abominator, Oracular Marmoset of the Seventh Order, The Ghaistwattle and two Chalices of the Nectar of the Gods, a Drouth Ember and a Broken Draakzwaard. If Rhadamanthus Mandragore must flee, it will be to Rm 7 or, if that fails, to Rm 6.

6.  Preserved but violently mutilated Domovoi corpses--failed Picklebrides from
Rm 24. If you ingest the substance coating them you have to save or become Picklebrides.

7. Rider of the Flensing Wind placed here as a guard by Rhadamanthus Mandragore. Will attack any mortal on site and do little to protect Rhadamanthus Mandragore if they appear here.

8. and 9. Each contains 4 Pinchbeck Drudges that attack anyone with Malodorous Glyph.

10. Locked--can be opened with Sevenfold Mitre. Contains bones of the dead.

11. Storage. Contains Tharandus Mantle however it's cursed so if it is used by any but heathens it will have a 50% chance of backfiring and hurting the user.

12. Damaged smutty etching representing actions characteristic of decadent urbanity, any cleric of decadent urbanity praying here for 10 minutes will have their spells refreshed.

13a-13b Cell off of 13a can only be opened with Sevenfold Mitre. Otherwise touching them results in 8d6 Carnality damage--save for half. Inside there is Arbitrator’s Swingeing Gavel belonging to the Adipose Gallowglass in Rm 49.

14 Area at 14a controls cell at 14b. If two Sevenfold Mitres are used here, a Gastrophetes of Dispatch will hurl a message quarrel asking if 14b should be unlocked. Answering 'yes' will release a Tunnel Rukh from suspended animation in 14b which will try to eat whatever it finds. Closing 14b also requires two Sevenfold Mitres--whatever is locked inside will be placed in suspended animation.

15. Two Pinchbeck Drudges attack anyone without Sevenfold Mitre.

16. Door to this room is visible and usable by creatures of decadent urbanity, invisible and impassable to those of primordial vileness, and visible but impassable to those of rustic apathy. Contains fallen hero with 3270 gp and Jar of Dismal Foetor, Skeinshear, Pyx containing Reliquary Ordure

17. Shrine to Suzerain Inculcatus and Gammer Guthrung, their statue lungs are here. 30% chance of containing d8 Picklebrides.

18. A smouldering hassock--using it prevents the user from Picking its teeth for 3o mins.

19. Contains 600gp, Sevenfold Mitre and Ensign’s Barbute. If Privy Sump has been available for more than a day there are three members of Svartling Contraptioneers, one of whom is a wizard.

20. Four Pinchbeck Drudges attack anyone with Malodorous Glyph. Any Pinchbeck Drudges summoned by alarms triggered on the southern half of the level will be drawn from this room and/or from Rm 28.

21. Mostly empty. Clear liquid marked "Shouldst perils befall ye" in Svartling runes. Contains Tincture of Wolfsbane.

22. An intangible carnality exudes from nowhere in particular save or be disoriented. 4 Picklebrides.

23. Door to RM 24 is locked from the inside. Sign reads, in Svartling rune "Doth troublous circumstance arise? Fling open ye ikon-niche". Out in the hall, there are 4 nooks, instructing the reader to perform the same action as in Rm 3.

1: If the user is a cleric of Suzerain Inculcatus or Gammer Guthrung, the northwest Ikon-niche reveals a Bloodstained Crozier. Otherwise, the Gastrophetes of Dispatch hurls alarum quarrels that howl “Foemen! Blackguards!” to summon 1d4 Pinchbeck Drudges Room 28 to slay them.

2: If the user is urbane, the southwest Ikon-niche reveals a Hypnalian Dart. Otherwise as 1

3: If the user is a cleric of Suzerain Inculcatus or Gammer Guthrung, the northeast Ikon-niche reveals a Hepatizon Ostensorium otherwise as 1

4: If the user is urbane, the southeast Ikon-niche reveals a Veinseeker Lancet. Otherwise as 1.

Make wandering monster check each time a ikon-niche is activated. It's loud. 

24. Any failed attempt to unlock or force open the doors alerts the room’s occupants. Prison containing The Seventh Emanation of Micturatus Gowk --who is fucked up from being imprisoned. There are six Svartling Contraptioneers hooked up to the prison being transformed into Picklebrides in d6 rounds unless cure disease or neutralize poison is used.
Copromancer inside holds the keys to the doors and oversees this process, protected by 4 Picklebrides. The Copromancer has the Levinbrand and Aegis of Aelfbeorht Churnlark.

Copromancer will flee to Rm 26 if things go poorly and will immediately flee if The Seventh Emanation of Micturatus Gowk prison is shattered. It will shatter if successfully struck v. AC 0/20 with a deliberate attack from an enchanted weapon that deals at least 5 points of damage, or if the tube sustains 25 or more points of damage from being in the area of effect of spells.

If the holding tube is shattered, The Seventh Emanation of Micturatus Gowk will begin to return to its former state, gaining 10 hit points per round until it reaches 100 and has full powers and intelligence, fucking everyone up.

25. 13625 gp worth of treasure.

26. 6 Picklebrides. Complicated barrier to next level down having to do with what happens in Rm 40 level 6B.

27. Area controls Pinchbeck Drudges. Anyone with Sevenfold Mitre and Coquatrix of Chrysoprase can change the Pinchbeck Drudges with a successful Int check at -4.   Each successful check allows a user to command them to attack a specific type of target or stop targeting a specific type of target as the user wishes—but not both. 
A Copromancer is here along with 2 Pinchbeck Drudges. If the Privy Sump has been available for more than a day there will be 4 Svartling Contraptioneer guards, if it has not, the rooms contains the Phlegethonic Imperatrix from Rm 34.

28. Four Pinchbeck Drudges attack anyone with Malodorous Glyph. Any Pinchbeck Drudges summoned by alarms triggered on the southern half of the level will be drawn from this room and/or from Rm 20.

29. The hatch to this room is locked and barred from the outside. If a character presses themself or is pressed into one of the ikon-ikon-niches, they must immediately make a saving throw or become urbane. The Decadent urbanity shift is a zealous one, meaning that anyone who uses a pillar will no longer associate or cooperate with anyone primordially vile. The effect can be reversed through the use of remove curse or similar spells.

30. The hatch to this room is locked. Inside one of desk drawers is a Sevenfold Mitre. Books worth 5000gp.

31. Pieces to make Klibanion and two Ballestrinos.

32. Angry Cinnamulgus of Belphegor. Scent of burnt wood coming from Rm 33.

33. Brazier burning incense which causes Unsettling Rictus if a Waerloga tries to regain spells within. 4 more blocks of incense.

34.  Phlegethonic Imperatrix 

35. Remains of dead creature wearing Cinderbreeks

36. Scorch marks leading toward Rm 37.

37. Cindergimp bound to remain within 100 feet of Iron Glue-trough unless that object is destroyed.

38. Fuck all.

39. Mural of individuals suffering unsettling rictus anyone observing the windowlike structure on the far wall must save or suffer that punishment.

40. Wreckage-fixable using tools from next level down.. Coquatrix of Chysoprase.

41. Barrier to entry has 3 states:
A-Impassable. It starts this way.
B-Anyone may enter, but only urbane characters may leave. Achievable using mechanisms in Level 6b, Rm 40.
C-Passable to all. The bad guys on this level are trying to do this.

41a. Roll:
1-6 Profligate Messiah in Bonnacon Automaton
7-24 Copromancer with Vulpinia Targulche
25-42 Copromancer with Silas Groomsharke
43-60 Copromancer with Bramble Thorndyke Campion Varangy
61-00 Empty

42.  Copromancer with Vulpinia Targulche 25% here if not encountered in 41a, 33% Rm 45, 32% Rm 49, would die before allowing harm to come to LocalDeity.

43. Copromancer with Silas Groomsharke 25% here if not encountered in 41a, 75% Rm 45. Despairs of ever escaping open to possibility of mutiny against Profligate Messiah of Charnel Grace.

44. Copromancer with Bramble Thorndyke Campion Varangy 25% here if not encountered in 41a, 75% Rm 45.  Would sacrifice Profligate Messiah if it meant they could escape this prison.

45. Profligate Messiah of Charnel Grace, if not encountered in 41a, 30% of being here, otherwise Rm 51. If here, Profligate Messiah will not be alone.  Whenever outside this cell, Profligate Messiah rides in a Bonnacon Automaton. Within his quarters, however, it is just a head.

46. Door to here is locked, Profligate Messiah has key. Bones of martyr. If an urbane worshipper of the Suzerain Inculcatus carries a bone fragment it grants a Nauseous Imperviousness vs opponents of primordial vileness.

47. Fuck all.

48. Circle on floor--any being not native to this plane who passes over its edge will become imprisoned and powerless until the circle is broken by someone not bound by it.

49. Locked; the key is kept by Vulpinia Targulche. A heroic Adipose Gallowglass is kept here and periodically tortured inside the Brazen Karkadann. If freed, the Gallowglass will ask for a weapon and help the party.

50. Stasis- Brazen Karkadann.

51. Locked the key is kept at all times by Profligate Messiah. Circle on floor--any being not native to the stablished earth who passes over its edge will become imprisoned and powerless until the circle is broken by someone not bound by it. Inside the circle is Revenant Scion trapped and opposed to Profligate Messiah who'll help anyone who isn't primordially vile.


  1. The full film of Hard To Be A God is on YouTube

  2. Thanks, I've actually been watching it in short sessions. I have no Russian so it is completely incomprehensible to me but still utterly fascinating. One of the reviews I read commented on the very rich evocation of community the film imparts. Every scene, almost every shot, is cluttered with a profusion of minor characters engaged in incomprehensible activity, everyone seems stupid and/or mad and everyone's house is buttressed with shit. I love the anachronisms as well, the jazz trumpet can be explained by the earthly origin of that character, but the tank? What appears to be samurai armour? It has something of the nature of a cabinet of curiosities, one of the key symbols of the enlightenment, with its proliferating profusion of oddities, but there is no curiosity. The Breughel comparisons are apt not merely for the rollicking rustic carnivalesque quality of the characters enacting genre painting scenarios, but that gawp, the vacant gaze of senility or of what we call with political correct jargon intergenerational socio-economic disadvantage. These people are burdened by an ignorance that is like a curse. I'm only about halfway through it and don't know what they are saying but I love it.

  3. The book it is based off recently got a new English translation, and the new film is getting small screenings in a few places here in the U.S. I started watching through the original a few nights ago on YouTube and I didn't make it far before i dozed off. Not for boredom but for a long work day. But what I saw really reminded me of El Topo. Which is not the worst thing to be reminded of, but there lingers still the ever so odd dwarf body horror day-dream-nightmares I find myself staring into occasionally.

    1. I never saw El Topo but I know the sort of weird depersonalising otherness of acid-damaged '70s cinema and I got resonances of that from HTBAG

    2. part of me wants to tell you to skip el topo. part of me has also read through nearly this entire blog and thinks that you would probably enjoy it and find merit in it. part of me also feels like you should skip el topo.

  4. For acid-damaged '70s cinema from Jodorowsky, I would suggest Holy Mountain. But before that, for a fan of Hard to be a God, I strongly recommend A Field in England. Similar feel and execution of a surreal period piece. In English.