Sunday, 24 April 2022

Summer Wars

 Idea gained from looking at my garden lawn

A war conflict on an epic scale, fought between city states, great wizards towers and strange underground races, with the occasional interruption of gargantuan kaiju-dragons and inexplicable chthonic entities

Aesthetic would be Elrics Melinbone in fineness but in colour and form, more like 19th century and later Fairy images - very bright, summery, decadent. A high-toned luxurious and sensual society of nobles, plus Warhammer, plus Honey I Shrunk the Kids

its a Wizards garden and the PCs are hired to sort out its infestation problem before summer ends, this means they get shrunk to micro-scale, and that leads to this ballardian dreamscape ruined plant arcology where grains of soil are like small hills, daisies are forts and daffodils are huge city-states

Fae queens riding flitterflies, flea-cavalry, infantry slogging through nightmare three-dimensional mazes being hunted by centipedes, war without end as the apex culture of a race of fae sorcerers blast each other with desolating magics and entrap each other in schemes - high intensity warfare and court drama with the PCs mixed up in the middle of it all.

From 'Warframe'


War in a cool green cathedral shaped by vast leaves like towers of glass. A sylph queen garbed in armour of plated butterfly scales gazes down as an army musters outside her gates. The armour of a green knight expands into a chrysalis - what emerges is a sorcerer. Winter isn't just a season but the end of the world, and the rule of worms.

What is the sun but a green-gold glow that fills the air and in sliver gaps between towers, a blazing radiance which scorches and destroys.

What is night but a black riot of sounds, the grumbling of worms in the earth and the squealing of moths as they pass far above? What is a dragon but a being so vast its claw can crush the towers of the highest mage, armoured in great sweeps of scales themselves larger than many cities, a spear so mighty that it can plunge deep into the earth, deeper than the deepest mine, and pull forth entire, one of the great worms, and carry it off into the sky. A war of gods and monsters.


A world at this small, very small, microverse, would need more actual research than is customarily assumed. The classic post-fairy-tale paracosms, Honey I Shrunk the Kids, the Marvel and DC shrinking heroes etc, tend to work at a scale at which the very small to us becomes very big to them (Godzilla battles a single rat in the New York sewers etc), but at this very micro microverse, what is small to us becomes nearly insensible to them. A thrush, not just a monster but a Behemoth of god, and what is nearly microscopically indistinguishable to us becomes the material of life to them.

How does reality work at this scale and how much blurring into dreamland should we engage in?

Gravity and oxygen for a start, will be very different. For a being this small climbing would not be hard. 

What are they breathing? Are they breathing like we do or are they fundamentally different beings only seemingly related to our world, like parallel reality creatures existing at this low scale? Like ghosts or the flickering spirts of dreams sparking into corporeality for one long summer.

And I would need to look into the substances of the microverse, at the scale at which an ant is like a giant war elephant or something, what is a sword made of? What are people drinking? Are they burrowing into the surface tension of water droplets like miners with asteroids?

Are you chilling with a tardigrade? Do you snort RNA like its a drug?

If I remember my microverse properly, its a realm of scent as much as sight. The wind doesn't even reach down here, fogs and clouds of pheromones drift opalescent through the still air, to us it would be like a second texture to the air itself, tinting and ruffling, though not necessarily obscuring. Pollen whirling through the air like cartwheels. A poisoned blade drawn from the stinger of a nettle.

The land of the dead cannot be very far away, its down where the roots go, beneath the stones. The land is not level, it is built up of great jagged boulders of soil, each one independently alive, and there are cracks between them always, it only needs a slip and down you go into the lightless depths to be hunted by skittering centipedes. The earth quakes and churns with the movements of the great worms beneath it. A mosquito is a vampire dragon which, every hundred days, feeds upon he blood of great forgotten gods.

Richard Dadd


The armies of the petal-dwellers marching forth in great crumbling lines, shining like droplets holding high banners made from the tuft hairs of baby moles, of single fish scales, blowing strange trumpets carved from the earbones of shrews. Ant-mahouts perfume the air to drag forth huge false-caterpillars; siege engines built from the root tendrils of holly plants. From where will assault come? From above as strike teams ride huge ladybirds in assault? From below as bind sappers tunnel forth under your very feet on the backs of ants? From around as tick-riders encircle the column? Spotters riding preserved dandelion seeds tied to lumbering beetles by spiderweb try to observe but they are little use. A long trek to assault the plant stem of another petal-dwelling lord or lady.

And all for what? A word.. or a glance. A bet or sharp look over the turning of a card made from the dried cornea of a baby mouse. What else is there for a noble to do but to marshal forces and send forth great powers to crawl through leagues of hellish nightmare, rolling dice of crystal quartz* with every turn and pathway, only to assault a green tower, climb its rugose column, hack at its roots, inject troops into its capillaries and in the end a daisy falls in the night, a culture annihilated, its pollen given to the wind and petals fallen to the realm of death to be carried away by pale ants.

(*crystal being maybe the only substance which would look, feel and largely act the same way in the microverse)


  1. But does the winter come to all of them or the prophesy on a card from baby mouse cornea promises chances to survive?
    I remember vaguely that some plants can have two-years cycle instead on one year at some circumstances; and if so, would the victory still sweet if everything of them would have to assume somber forms to emerge again with a new sun, unrecognizable from what they were.

    But the way the land and air, and the struggle of this world are described, it is magnificent to read, to me. Thank you very much.

    1. Was thinking of Winter as the apocalypse, like a dying earth situation, but the idea of semi-survival through strange transformation sounds tempting

    2. In some mythologies (Aztec, I think), each new sun era is pretty much apocalypse (by fire, by flood, by jaguars), but some aspects of the previous world might survive transformed (such as people of, I think, Third Sun who got turned into monkeys. In Norse myths sone gods survive Ragnarok. Even Revelations have post-apocalypse part, so the notion isn't strange.

      To me to think about a civilization or an individual who would have a choice to survive but transform irrevocably and perhaps, monstrously, is rather interesting.

  2. This is brilliant--Richard Dadd's Forever War.

  3. One of the best things you've written recently, in my opinion. Swollen to bursting with gameable possibilities. The sort of thing that makes one want to start a new campaign.

  4. I love this so much. I thought of two very different parallels after my twitter reply. First there is this kind of beautiful book Merlin's Ring by HR Munn a Weird Tales Alumnus. see here: There is a section of Merlin's Ring where the hero goes to Faerie and essentially shrinks to insect size. The description is haunting and fits your piece pretty well.

    And then there was an exhibit in the Field Museum in Chicago that really sticks with shrinks you to an ever smaller scale and I think would give you some good visuals and inspiration. It was a lot of fun - especially with kids.,the%20soil%20beneath%20our%20feet.

  5. This handwaves away a lot of the square-cube stuff you mention but the lads did a smashing job of adapting hollow knight's aesthetic to a gilded (but still decaying) kingdom to the ruins of one.
    An outright wizard's garden (read:dumping ground) probably allows for anarchic fun better suited to kitbashing minis though.

    1. O god another RPG. Do I have the STR to read yet more? Maybe.

  6. Regarding life at small size you should really watch this video: . The interesting bit is about that tiniest insect that is known to us which _can_ fly but not like larger insects. It seems more like it's swimming through gelatinous substance that we know as air.

  7. This is excellent. It has a kind of fierce joy to it - the joy of living through motion and the understanding that there are fewer seats than there are dancers.

  8. That video is great, and kind of highlights the problem with running this kind of campaign, for me anyway: How much of the physics of this tiny world do I really want to account for? Maybe none? But then I'm missing some of the hijinky fun. Also, I just did a deep dive on aphids. There are aphid men in the new Yoon Suin.

    1. It would be interesting to try though wouldn't it?