Thursday, 4 February 2021


 Bois, it’s time to get old. Old as bones.


If I remember my own game correctly, one of the options for a starting character in Goose-Gold & Goblins is simply to be Old.

And by Old I mean 'Grandma' old; walking stick, slow pace, maybe a wheelchair, wrinkly, grey haired, maybe some thick glasses. Like Witch or Wizard old.

I don't really want medium-aged people in GG&G. Those of a common 'adventuring age'. Their social presence, physical capacity and general power and usefulness would really mess with the intended feel of play. I just want Children, Old people and pets. All beings with limited physical capacities, not much immediate social capital, and with lots of free time. People who are in society but for whom doing ordinary stuff might still be an "adventure".

My originating concept is that Old People have magic, as in standard D&D magic, or an Goosified equivalent of it. This fits the bill in a number of ways; like Wizards, OP's are weak, fragile and strange, with unknown powers and mysterious motivations. They have to think ahead to be useful and are a little cracked in the head.

If we try to imagine true multi-generational play, playing an 'Old Person' would be best for older children and parents.

Of course if we have a game with very young children in it, there will effectively be 'magic' or a form of it, as their grasp on and interaction with the simulated reality will likely be somewhat off its tits. Any young child is likely going to be playing some surreal, cartoonish strange figure, no matter what they think they are playing, and likely in GG&G, the Youngest-Sets-the-Tempo rule will be in effect.

So here is my development for being Old;


Even Mehl Amundsen

Old People are very wise and cunning. They are also slow, fragile, forgetful, often grumpy and sometimes smelly. If you find one, try not to break it. If you ARE one, be careful on those stairs!


Literally fucking everything. 

Moving too fast. Sitting too long. Getting worried. Heat. Cold. Rain. Pollen. Literally any and any event or situation that might exist. 

Think this is Stepan Alekseev


Honestly, just bits of the BX/OSE spell list but re-contextualised as weird stuff and old person might do
From the perspective of a child, the difference between superior knowledge of the world, unknown techniques and contextual information, clever tricks, unlikely intuitions, 'soft' magical stuff like tarot and hand-reading and low level 'hard' magic like disappearing, is not that great

Like if you are five and your grandma tells you she can disappear and reappear in the post office by wearing a special hat then you are gonna be like hmm there is a 50/50 here that granny is fucking with me...

Probably no 'hard' highly physical powers like fireball but, well lets see the lvl 1 lists for Magic Users

  • Charm Person
  • Detect Magic
  • Floating Disc
  • Hold Portal
  • Light (darkness)
  • Magic Missile
  • Protection from Evil
  • Read Languages
  • Read Magic
  • Shield
  • Sleep
  • Ventriloquism

Really a substantial amount of this is stuff a five or six year old would not be surprised to find out their Grandma can do;

I have added in the Lvl 1 Cleric Spells which don't have duplicates in the MU list

Charm Person - persuasion, nagging, "I know your father young man"

Detect Magic - "Something funny going on here...."

Floating Disc - probably no, unless they know a special sausage dog they can summon at will & strap things to.

Hold Portal - Obv Grandmas can "double-lock" things. Doors can be locked once  so why not extend the concept.

Light (darkness) - Bit of a challenge. Think I will remove this as I want production of light locked to objects. Might have OPs capable of moving in the dark though.

Magic Missile - Nope.

Protection from Evil - Grandma draws a salt circle on the ground that keeps bad things out. Makes perfect sense.

Read Languages - Simple. If you find a strange musty book in an unknown language of course Granny can read it.

Read Magic - As above. Not much of a difference between them.

Shield - Hmmm, not that appropriate. Will probably remove.

Sleep - An edge case. probably too powerful a spell to be easily used. Will limit it by diegetic elements like special ingredients, circumstances, possibly blowback etc.

Ventriloquism - Obviously.

Cure Light Wounds - Simple. "Let me put a plaster on it then..."

Detect Evil - "Strange smell in the air...". Could easily combine with detect Magic.

Purify Food and Water - Hmm, this links with cooking which should really be its own section.

Remove Fear (cause Fear) - Removing Fear affects from PCs should be simple, give them a magic hug and dry their eyes. Causing fear, that would need some context to it. I mean Gandalf pulled it off when he went into goth-mode so probably.

Resist Cold - "Better wrap up warm dear" From whence do they draw endless supplies of scarfs and mittens? Who knows.

So, limit 'Spells' (which aren't really spells) by thematic groupings during character generation, then during gameplay through diegetic requirements ("Well of course I can send Goblins to sleep, if I had the feather of a Bomblenowl to burn..."), limited access to new spells and sources of knowledge, and through a magic points system.

Yes magic points, everyone’s favourite mechanic. BUT; Old-person magic charges up in old-person ways.

Kim Sokol


You have to be careful charging your Old Person -  if you fill them with too much OP energy things can go HORRIBLY wrong..

Here are some charging methods, of course all have to be acted-out;

> "Things are "NICE"

"NICE, ISN'T THAT NICE" - every time an oldster can say "that's nice dear" or "isn't that nice" or "nice weather we're having isn't it" or any contextual comment on the world which uses the word NICE, that’s one twentieth of a chargeup. Or maybe each time you can roll a d20 and if you get a 20 you charge up, but you can't say it more than once a minute.

> Recollect

"What's going on?" - The other PCs have to remind their OP who they are, what they are doing, who you are, who everyone else is and what is going on. This all being done, a spell is charged.

> Fated Meeting

"Oh there's Gladys HELLO GLADYS" - If an old person sees another old person and starts a long long long conversation with them about what they have been up to and whatever health problems they have, and if it goes on for a significant segment of time, then that's a chargeup. This has the benefit of being a mutual chargeup for both OPs. A lot of OPs will just wander around charging each other up all day.

> Trowel

"Just need to prune these hedges dear, won't take a moments..." - Fixing shit in the garden can create powerups, with each task accomplished adding to the charge. The situational nature of this makes it good for a possibly-dangerous multi-charge powerup; start gardening, fall asleep, (BRIEF SIT DOWN), then forgetting what they are doing and having to be reminded (RECOLLECT), then finally finishing the task (TROWEL), before complaining about how everything is worse these days (TALES). A powerful, perhaps too-powerful multi-stage chargeup, with the downsides being the time and resources taken and the dangers of an overcharge.


"Time for tea and biscuits.." - It can't just be tea from a thermos outside, it has to be indoors, with everyone sitting down, using the good china, with each teacup filled RIGHT TO THE FUCKING BRIM GOD DAMN IT, and everyone has to keep drinking the tea until they feel a bit sick NO-ONE CAN STOP. The darker version of this power-up involves forcing Tea upon an unwilling victim, with the strength of the charge being related to how unwilling they are.


"This was all fields you know..." - maybe its still fields, but not the SAME fields. These new fields are somehow worse. Time for your OP to go on a long long long digression about how things were different and better back in the past and how things have changed and therefore become somewhat crappy. There’s a charge for you.

> Stairs

"Oh dear are these steeper than they were?" Successfully getting up or down a long flight of stairs can trigger a chargeup. Though it can also cause slips, trips and falls.

> Acquisition

Many OPs obsessively hoard particular types of object, these are always rare, specific, relatively cheap, perhaps even valueless, and ugly. They are always particular to an OP and the category never changes. Could be toby jugs, horse sculptures, silk doyleys, commemorative tea towels, spoons. If your OP finds and acquires one of these for their Hoard, mark a power-up.

> A Brief Sit Down

"My my what a morning, give me a moment dear and I'll take some weight off my legs" - The OP must sit down and pass out for a  randomly determined and perhaps lengthy period of time, on awaking they will not recognise, recall or admit how long they have been asleep.

> Annihilation

Defeating an opponent in games of bowls, card games, table games like backgammon or similar situations causes an instant power up as the OP consumes the shame of their opponent and transmutes it into raw magical energy. This goes both ways; they can also be drained of the same energy. So if you need some OP magic then challenging the boss goblin to a game of chess might give you the power to cast it.

Fuck I forgot Knitting. Have to add that in later.

Andrei Pervukhin


What happens if you do actually overcharge your OP? Its difficult to think of things that make diegetic sense but which also aren't potentially massively traumatic for children playing.

Freaking the Fuck Out - having a complete memory and identity collapse is diegetically appropriate but also pretty disturbing.

Falling Over - OPs don't have many Escapes to begin with, you don't want to risk them losing one of the few on an  overcharge. Will they even be able to get up? 

Asleep for a Day - the least troubling and traumatic option but also takes them out of the game and slows it down for everyone else.

Getting Racist - Yeah probably can't put this one in. COWARDS.

Getting Lost - Like some interdimensional power that just lifts OPs out of place and strands them somewhere else if they overcharge. Probably brings the rest of the group with them. (This actually explains why old people are always getting lost.)

Incapacitation - "ohhhh me lumbago.." Not passed out like the falling asleep option and could be amended by the right medicines or specific sweets or biscuits

Obsession - Maybe they follow a duck or something or just have to look up an old friend.

Grump-Out - They have HAD ENOUGH I TELL YOU and refuse to co-operate with either instruction or request. Again can be ameliorated by time and sufficient biscuits.

Burnt Bridge - "She's only gone and done it again for gods sake!" - The OP grumps out in a more permanent way, this time aimed at a former friend, colleague or adult NPC with whom they will no-longer co-operate or communicate. The reasons behind this may be obscure, and even imaginary but its going to be a nightmare talking them out of it. "Gladys KNOWS I shave my duck-boards and she sang that song ANYWAY!" (what the fuck?)

Situational Deafness - They are not going to hear anything they don't want to hear.

Optical Breakdown - "My eyes aren't what they used to be dear..."

Situational Incoherent Perception - They can 'hear' you, but whatever words are coming out of your mouth don't seem to have much effect on the ones going into their ears. "Well you said EASE the SWAN dear! You can't blame me for greasing the poor thing! Don't give me that I know what I heard!"

Brief below-the-jump query;

If I were to do a False Machine Book - a printed book based on entries from the blog, would you want;

- UNABRIDGED version, thick, bible-dense text and images where necessary. The whole thing from 2011 to 2021 with nothing taken out, but an index at the back so you can find the subjects you want.

- ABRIDGED version, take out most of the crap and stuff thats been in other books, (or that's going to be), keep it to the decent blog-only content.

Or something else?


  1. 'shield' could work if you flavour it like 'OP obliviously avoids being hit by ducking randomly because they found a penny on the ground'

  2. ABRDIGED, definitely. Long time readers will probably be able to pick up on the 3 types of posts you generally do: reviews (generally books) and critique, prose posts, and then game posts (like this one). game posts i think generally will be the most popular (but who knows), maybe paring some of the posts themselves down so the meat is all there but leave the commentary in the meat for the blog might do the trick


    I would personally pick up books of related posts grouped together; you could group them however you like but here are some example concepts with example posts

    1. Book Reviews and Aesthetics Criticism/Interviews/Content
    (This could definitely be in Meditations)

    2. Prose and Poetry (ideally not including stuff from your published RPGs as we can get that in those games)
    Your mechanical knight stories
    There’s a pretty goddamn unbelievable story somewhere on this blog about some kind of underdark cannibal degenerate going on a quest in a warzone with some kind of ghost which was Awesome
    (This is RPG content but I would want it in a book of your prose)

    3. Meditations

    4. Selected Passages
    Plus your Ruskin stuff

    5. Unpublished RPG Stuff
    (Dunno where this should go but it should be in there’s somewhere, like many, many of your posts)

  4. Sleep seems obvious as a lullaby, perhaps with a longer casting time or equivalent?

    1. Maybe not usable if the target is already worked up in some way. It's not too hard for a granny to sing someone to sleep if they're relaxed, but it shouldn't be easy (if even possible) to sing an angry, ranting goblin to sleep.

    2. Maybe not 'sleep', exactly, but some kind of 'pacify' spell could be reskinned as a whole 'now, now, calm down' routine, whereby a combination of soothing, reassuring language and implicit social pressure are used to make rowdy people or creatures sit down and behave, at least temporarily.

      (Quite a lot of 'enchantment' and 'divination' spells could be reskinned as just grown-up levels of social competence and emotional literacy, which must often seem quasi-magical from the perspective of small children.)

  5. My grandmother was supposed to be a seventh daughter of a seventh daughter. If I remember right, she was able to say some words over a wound or sickness and put a poultice containing a variety of things (including mashed potatoes, I believe) on top of it which would make it go away overnight.

    All of my uncles and aunts on my mom’s side can make basically whatever - furniture that looks like it came from a showroom, canned pickles and jelly, ornaments out of wood, metal, and cloth, quilts, really it seems like anything. They’re all short and live in the woods. My wife calls them all elves.

    1. You may be an elf, goblin or gnome

    2. I’m probably one of those. If I’m an elf, though, it’s the Keebler kind.

  6. Just read this to my wife and she said "that sounds exactly like my day at work yesterday" (at an OP's home)

    For the book, I think it would have to be abridged - although I love the idea of putting everything in, it would probably be too much to cope with, and not a significant improvement on randomly exploring posts on here (which I do from time to time, as I struggle to keep up with everything you write, plus I started too late)

  7. Unabridged! I feel quite strongly about this! There's a real real surplus of sparse, heavily edited, bare bones, just-the-essentials books in the indie/osr/whatever scene, and a distinct lack of books that are:
    1. completely sprawling
    2. self indulgent
    3. big as hell
    4. actually good

    As a firm fan of that genre I think an unabridged everything-and-the-kitchen-sink False Machine book could fill that niche really nicely.

    1. I was on your side dude but looks like its three-to-one

  8. This comment has been removed by the author.

  9. Unabridged. Long, sprawling, readable in any order the reader likes.

  10. Unabridged. Long, sprawling, readable in any order, max soul.

  11. Where can one preorder The Compleate(ly) False Machine? Take my money.