Friday, 12 July 2019

Basic-Ass Imps and Some Vague Rambling

I do wonder often if anyone is ever going to actually play as any of the races or classes I describe. All of this stuff is kinda overkill for the drop-down menu of a 3D printing company. Even assuming (fingers crossed!) that the company does well and a lot of people log onto the site I really have no idea if anyone will actually care about the reams and reams of detailed lore that comes up when you click 'Imp'.

So so far I've just been working on Races, and since Blackwater got largely done, I've been creating the other inferred realms entirely through the descriptions of the races that live there. I haven't done more than a bare number of actual objects, but they are important too.

Part of the idea for this was that, by interacting with the drop-downs of the creation menu on the site, the 'user' is already partly playing a kind of game, because by assembling race, class and objects in a hierarchy, they are effectively partly assembling a specific character, especially if each kind of object has an origin and history.

And I had vague ideas of extending that process and creating a kind of Universe where it existed somewhat at intellectual or fantasy Lego, in that there were a lot of materials, and if you used them you got a strong identity, but you had to actually make use of them.

So Uud, outside of its basic descriptions, and maps, would be communicated through tables, like a Yoon-Suin, Border Princes or Vornheim thing. And that there would be no absolute canon Uud, only a hundred thousand individual ones created by different DM's for their own games.

Basically extending the way 3D printing lets you harness the power of an industrial process and distribution system and extending that to an imaginary world so the whole thing was like a series of pieces that only made sense when you, the chooser, chose a selection and locked in into a particular configuration that was unique to your game.

So the continents, or realms, are ultimately meant to be things you can literally pick up and put down like stickers on a map, arranging the 'world' however you like (within some broad structure). So if you want to do a story or game about two realms meeting then you just draw it like that.

The same, if we ever did a book of fictions, was meant to apply to that, everything was meant to be told exclusively in the 1st person, or what I've been told is called an 'Epistolary' story, so that sense of everything being accurate 'according to the point of view of the teller', but any particular reader can take whichever parts they want to be more real than the rest.

This was all to stop is becoming a 'dead' world, one where there is a set canon, and everyone needs to learn it, and all stories take place in the same history and when you want to know what really happened you ask the company that makes it and they tell you what is canon.

Instead, if its intellectual Lego, its more like a new Lego set came out each time and the conversation is more "what did you do with yours?" rather than "what is the new truth?"

The capacities of the internet and the modularity of 3D printing and industrial design, as well as the dropping of the difficulty of printing, and possibly the talent pool built up by the OSR Diaspora and, sure Storygamers as well, opens the idea of a different feedback response between the company and the 'users' or players, one that encourages not just play in the same world but individual creativity and creation with the tools provided.

Selling people tools essentially. Which yes they don't actually need to be sold those, they can make their own. But the sheer replication power and marketing force of a successful capitalistic enterprise  can create such a powerful feedback response that it can shape the culture, which in turn shapes it.

We've seen nerd companies essentially get poisoned by a negative feedback response in which the company doesn't really like its fans, the fans are resentful as fuck and they essentially seem trapped together, and where the worst elements of fan culture get boosted, loremasters (which isn't necessarily bad in itself) of hyper-detailed but dead creative worlds arguing each other into extinction.

What if that feedback response was a positive one? Where to interact with the thing you had to actually build or make something. It needn't be that complicated at first, you could essentially provide people with parts and tools, like the intellectual equivalent of a push-fit model, but if you could get it working, each development cycle, instead of being "Here's what happened in the Forgotten Realms/41st Millenium this marketing budget cycle" it could be "Here are a new bunch of fresh imaginative tools, what can you make with them and what do your worlds look like?"

All pretty vague dreams at the moment, and possibly deep delusions. We will see. You will be able to watch in real time as see if all this blooms into its own paracosm, disappears into nothing or chugs along somewhere in the middle.

For now, some Imps, who I interpreted mainly as fuckbois. You are welcome.


"Imps keep it real."

Is something only Imp would say. And is a lie. Imps are inconstant, deluded and frighteningly confident scumbags.


The shape of an Imp; something like a toybox miniature demon, and the range of mildly diabolic qualities they can exhibit, has lead many to ask; where in the hell to Imps come from?

Or more precisely, exactly which Hell do Imps come from? And why aren't they there right now, curled up and somnolent with the majority of Uuds sleeping or disappeared divine and diabolic hierarchies? Why are they up and about, flapping around in Marginalia and a handful of other places?

There is a legend which most Imps claim to believe, the story of the Imp King.

As they would tell it, long ago, before the fall of Esh, the Imps swapped one of their own for a human child. This child grew up in Hell, amongst the Imps. Over time, they grew strong, and eventually became the King of Imps. This 'King', then lead a revolution in Hell. All the lesser spirits, small demons, minor horrors and others, banded together to overthrow the ruler of that Dark Realm. In this they were successful, but at the last minute the Imps were betrayed. They were cast out of Hell and banished to reality, there to perish.

Which actually turned out OK as the Fall of Esh lead to its realms of Divine and Diabolic judgement falling into a kind of dull sleep, curling up into silence, growing distant and quiet. While out in the world, well, not everything was destroyed, at least some parts lived. And those parts of falling worlds that were spirited away and curled up into Marginalias first strands turned out to be great places for an Imp.

So, win-win?

Regardless, absolutely no-one other than Imps believes the Legend of the Imp King. It is not clear if even the Imps believe it, considering how much absolute rubbish they talk.

Some sophonts claim that Imps are the avatars, or elementals of Primordial mistakes. That the very substance of creation, since its beginning, has thronged with these tiny errors, like imperceptible chips in smooth glass, or like the dots and blurs which sometimes float before the eye. Old philosophies of Esh said that the perfection of existence demanded flaws, as if through some complex teaching, what is perfect could only be understood through what is flawed.

Darker and more realist sophonts since the Fall instead claim that everything is just really really really messed up all of the time, and that reality has been so ravaged by Yggsrathaal that cracks are everywhere, and so Imps are also everywhere.

A popular belief amongst the common people is that Imps are random thoughts from dreaming Gods.

Whenever a Devil, Demon or other dark being turns in its sleep and laughs without restraint, but for reasons that are not themselves cruel, an Imp is born. And whenever a good God or and Angel likewise also smiles when sleeping and sniggers for reasons they really should not, then also an Imp is born somewhere in Uud. For Imps are creatures of inversion, or upside-downness, petty lords of Misrule riding backwards on snails, wine-bags full of nonsense like the farts of chthonic entities.


Imps are, by many comparisons, quite powerful for such miniature beings. Or they would be if their catastrophic personalities did not effectively disrupt, neuter and destroy the effects of these powers, causing most of their plans to collapse like badly baked bread.

Their abilities vary greatly, sometimes because the Imp in question has actually forgotten that they can do something.

As well as eating, and more importantly, drinking, anything available, Imps can live off sins. If they can get others to commit minor wrongs, these actions can feed, and ever heal them. This gets much harder to do, and the effects of it lessen the more aware the participants are that, by screwing each other over, they are actually helping the Imp. This causes the action to slip into charity, and to no longer be a sin.

After drinking alcohol Imps can fart fire from their ass. Since many Imps are high-functioning alcoholics, this is a more commonly available power than you might think. Imps find this endlessly amusing, running whiskey-and-cigarette parties where they sit around downing whole bottles of booze and drunkenly lighting each others smokes. It’s all fun until they are grabbed by a Troll, stapled to a stick and used as a pipe lighter.

Many Imps have the ability to turn themselves invisible. Or at least, to make themselves hard to notice. Unfortunately, (for the Imps), they rapidly fall into delusions of invisible omnipotence and are often detected through their own insane cackling and a tendency they have to narrate their exploits out-loud...

"Heh, heh, heh, the fools!"

Many Imps can also change shape, often into small and feral animals, like a Crow, a Rat or something similar. As with the invisibility, they tend to massively over-use and in a sense, to get 'high' on this power to the point where it gives them a kind of delirium, and massive identity issues. An Imp pretending to be a Crow may actually get so involved in the masquerade that it starts to think it is a Crow and forgets what it was originally meant to be doing. One who has been pretending to be an animal, will often adopt that animals behaviours, even when in Imp form.

The only way to resolve this is to pinch, poke or slap the Imp back into sanity.

Imps may have some degree of resistance to at-least small natural fires. An Imp will often snooze in the middle of a campfire while others sleep around it, pulling the ashes or embers over them like a sheet and passing out. Even the Imp doesn't know how far this ability might stretch, whether it applies to large fires, to magical fires or to fires of strange materials, and they will often forget they can do this.

Whether it’s being caught while invisible due to their own insane cackling, being trapped as a mad crow for a decade or passing out drunk, face down in a guttering candle and waking up encased in cold wax, Imps rarely learn anything from any of these mistakes.

In fact, if being an Imp is about anything, it’s about massive and impulsive overuse of whatever you can get and about never learning anything from anything.


With Imps, its not really a question of whether they are a Narcissist - just how bad it is.

The less-terrible Imps have a manageable level and often find ways to be an at-least moderately useful person with some level of functional empathy, a vague sheen of reliability and not too many negative behaviours.

'Bad' Imps are simply alcoholic, drug-addicted, scheming feral little bastards, like a cross between a pack of nasty crows and a teenage street gang; somewhere between an infestation and crime spree. Gangs of Imps laugh at old Gnomes who have fallen over in the street. Feral Imps dare each other to climb up a cows asshole simply to see if it can be done. They smash windows with stones, scrawl insults on walls and randomly call on strangers pretending to have Tourettes and asking to borrow money.

Like Goblins, Imps lie a lot, unlike goblins they do not have the excuse of 'alternative cognition', and also unlike Goblins they are bad at it.

Imps like to make crude sexual jokes about the lives of larger creatures, though it’s not clear that they really understand what they are joking about and their attempts at insults come out as strangely surreal;

"You pigged that hooper right in the bloggins! Heh heh heh!"

Resulting in a sense that one certainly has been insulted and that something bad has been said, but a confusion as to how and what exactly the insult meant.

An Imp would totally have a stripper pole in their house, just to be edgy, even if they didn't really know what to do with it. But they would probably never actually own a house, at the most they would rent. (Never leave an Imp with the keys to your house).

Many Imps though, have more manageable, or at least 'civilised' behaviours. Whether this makes them better or worse over the long term is a still-open question.

Knowing a 'civilised' Imp is like knowing a celebrity, except they are almost certainly not actually famous and are probably even more self-destructive and possibly more useless than an actual celebrity.

An Imps greatest treasure is often a six-foot high oil painting of themselves in formal wear, or possibly a giant sculpture of themselves in milk-white marble.


That said, there are (arguable) positives to knowing an Imp.

Many Imps just want desperately to fit in and will simply hang around making themselves 'useful' until you get tired and let them be your friend. In fact, Imps seem to live their lives almost entirely for other people. They need and feed off attention, and if they can't get good attention, they will get bad attention.

Their garrulous, chatty, sneaky and deceptive nature means they get in anywhere, know everyone and have heard all the gossip (although much of what they know will be lies).

An Imp will immediately find the most questionable character in a pub and immediately sit down with them. When you meet the imps friends they always seem suspicious types, and also not really their friends, they sometimes refer to the Imp by a different name. Imps can find crime, schemes and shady business with unerring accuracy. Bad ideas and terrible con-jobs are their north star and they will always locate the worst of them. This can be bad, or good, if you are looking for shady business.

Imps often do well with assisting another, often stronger, entity. They are strangely loyal creatures, in their own way. They seem almost keyed to do it.

An Imps powers of illusion and invisibility, their high awareness of others attention and their speed of movement make them very handy in a whole range of ways, especially as spies or thieves. Though they are also quite ill-disciplined.

Imps are also shameless Yes-Men, so if you want to be told that your every decision was brilliant, there can be nothing better than an Imp. They are also strangely, bizarrely confident in their own abilities and eventual success despite the ever-unfolding, self-destructive cataclysm of their daily lives. While this can be extremely irritating in good times, in bad times the Imps irrepressible nature can make them quite tolerable.

True, this does often lead to Imps working as dogsbodies for villainous beings. But really, if the best someone can do is to put together a flock of Imps, they are not exactly a high-level threat. It’s like having a gang of miniature asshole teens working for you. (Though they can still be dangerous to smallfolk.)

Less horrible Imps can find places working for less horrible (but still probably not that 'good') rulers. They can be the Queens left hand, a Court Jester or Satirist, and on the side, a spy, thief and messenger. Wherever they are, they are always involved in affairs, in 'business', the work and movement of the court, the gossip, parties, connections and talk.

It’s rare that you would want even a reasonable Imp to be the person in charge, but they can definitely be the person you want backing up the person in charge, especially if there are certain things the leader can't be seen to do.


Imps are surprisingly good in emergencies, especially situations involving fire, destruction, darkness, poison and gas, none of which seem to make an Imp especially or unusually afraid.

For such ridiculous flibbergibbets the rest of the time, they don't really get hysterical or emotional in response to danger in the way many others do, and they are surprisingly tactically efficient.

While craven, they are not cowards. They will fight, in fact they are quite aggressive, but not until they think they can win. They HAVE to see a potential route to victory, or at least, survival, so their combat logic is quite different to some other creatures and personalities. They don't do noble last stands (they would just run away). They won't dive into danger to protect a friend unless they think they can win.

Compare this to a Gnome, who might jump into a no-win situation simply out of a sense of duty.

To a Goblin, who might leap in on the assumption that they can connive or improvise some way out of an apparent impossibility.

Or to a Firbolg, who might leap in even if they thought they might die, purely for the élan of the thing, and to make an end worth singing of.

An Imp would need to see a way to win before they got involved. If they really like someone it doesn't need to be a very high likelihood - but there needs to be a chance.

Despite their refusal to fight unless they think they can win - all this goes out the window if the subject is crime.

An imp is always ready for some extra-legal scheme, even if very high risk. The simple fact that it is illegal or wrong seems to energise them. If the matter is breaking and entering, fraud, theft, deception or just a simple piece of electoral Gerrymandering, an Imp is almost always fully ready go right now, regardless of the risk involved.


Imps may be functionally immortal, or at least, they do not seem to age. They have short-term minds and forget things after a century or two, so an Imp may have lived many lives and not even remember them. Their ridiculous nature seems to protect them from the tragedy implied by their extra-long lives. In some ways they are like minor comic characters made real. Always the same japes, pratfalls and 'hilarious' misadventures, never developing, never really learning, but growing no closer to death.

But there are ways for an Imp to 'age' and change. Ways both good and bad.

The darker path for an Imp is to dive deep into their capacity for deceit and manipulation. A truly evil Imp can become a kind of emotional black hole, a vortex of pain and degradation who slowly poisons the lives of all who come into contact with them, but who time and time again, escapes any of the consequences. The worst among Imps regard themselves as responsible for nothing. They are always utterly right, its only on this particular occasion that they were let down by others. If an Imp proceeds along this path, they can become more and more powerful, eventually transforming into a form of sleepy Daemon.

Much of the Diabolic hierarchies of Uud are currently lost or asleep, so when an Imp becomes a Demon, they gain incredible powers, but suffer under the same sleeping curse as the rest of Uuds divine and demonic entities. Although they are potentially terrifyingly powerful, and out and loose in Uud, rather than curled up in a pocket dimension, they are also somnolent and narcoleptic, preferring to hang around in a lair, slowly poisoning the atmosphere with their terrible dreams

A 'good' way for an Imp to develop is by drinking mortal blood that has been both freely, and honestly (no deception involved), given. The more of this blood they drink, the more mortal the become. Their emotions and intuitions deepen and widen, they become capable of a greater range of experience and understanding. It presents the opportunity to 'cure' their narcissism. The interior lives and feelings of others become more real to them, and a source of meaning. This also makes them vulnerable to sadness and despair, which they do not much like.


  1. lol I want to play one of these little bastards

  2. I would certainly play a Nathling Ranger if I could.
    What I appreciate about Imps is an ability to develop in a more human form, along with their almost comical villainy which can turn truly horrifying in certain circumstances. I guess I have a weakness for dual out-kinds.

  3. I would totally play an imp. Also your way of writing things into such a complex and multifaceted existence is quite remarkable. I can't help but fall in love with these little guys even though I know they would be right pains to deal with.

  4. I really don't care about miniatures or a website of miniatures but this stuff is extremely good and I'd buy it as a book.

  5. Seconding Spidder, I'd buy this as a book. Though I am fond of minis, I suspect they'd be too expensive to indulge in overmuch.

    I have to complement you on your ability to get to the heart of these already invented creatures, with years of preconceived lore to wade through, and really distill them into something somehow both familiar and unique. You describe here the Imp. It is exactly what an Imp is, to the point where it is almost how I had always imagined them, but have never quite been able to describe them. Your Aeth were very much like this to me too. They felt like what elves mean. Even if they were very different to the elves I've known and loved, they somehow represented them too. It seems like a difficult needle to thread, but you do it well.

    It may be that all of this needs to be collected into a book as well as descriptions alongside a character builder. A book of tools, not unlike how Vornheim is both a place, and a handy tool to help you make places.

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