Wednesday 24 July 2013


We just achieved something in a game and I am surprisingly happy about it

By achieved I mean that one imaginary construct fell into place in a certain way. Its meaning was suggested by the GM then reinforced with an explicit challenge. Then failed multiple times. Then the quest revoked through loss of time. Then its meaning re-generated through the spontaneous movements of a number of people reacting together. Then actually achieved.

We rescued some dryads.

The evil thing at the bottom of the dungeon is still there. The magical thing it’s guarding is still there. But we stole back some hostages, after several weeks of effort. After taking my character through unlikely courage, to intrepid boldness, all the way to a borderline-nihilistic self-destruction, he is still not dead. He seems to be in some kind of peace. Maybe he will calm down.

We could go back into the dungeon and kill the minotaur, but chances of us managing that are minimal. Plus, someone keeps locking the door behind us when we break in, which is irritating.

If the bad guy has any sense he’ll come out of the dungeon and kill us in the open while we are tired BUT THEY NEVER DO THAT, even though they would win.

It’s true that a highly-focused team of ruthless dungeoneers could probably have done the same thing in less time with no casualties. But we are not those people. And what would have been learned? Only the solution to a problem.

I asked Francis Bacon for his opinion on our dungeoneering skills. I cannot say that any of us come out well from his review.


“This is well to be weighed; that boldness is ever blind; for it seeth not dangers and inconveniences. Therefore it is ill in counsel, good in execution; so that the right use of bold persons is that they never command in chief, but be seconds, and under the direction of others. For in counsel it is good to see dangers; and in execution not to see them, except they be very great.”


“Ambition is like a choler, which is a humour that maketh men active, earnest, full of alacrity and stirring, if it be not stopped. But if it be stopped, and cannot have his way, it becometh adust, and thereby malign and venomous. “


“It is a miserable state of mind to have few things to desire and many things to fear; and yet that commonly is the case of kings; who being at the highest, want matter of desire, which maketh their minds the more languishing, and have many representations of perils and shadows, which makes their minds the less clear.

..for.. lack of some predominant desire that should marshal and put in order all the rest, maketh any mans heart to hard to find or sound. Hence it comes likewise, that princes many times make themselves desires, and set their hearts upon toys.”


“Things will have their first and second agitation: if they be not tossed upon the arguments of counsel, they will be tossed upon the waves of fortune and be full of inconstancy, doing and undoing, like the reeling of a drunken man.”


“There is surely no greater wisdom than well to time the beginnings and onset of things. Dangers are no more light, if they once seemed light and more dangers have deceived men than forced them. Nay it were better to meet some dangers half way, though they come nothing near, than to keep too long a watch upon their approaches”


“We take cunning for a sinister or crooked wisdom. And certainly there is a great difference between a cunning man and a wise man, not only in point of honesty but point of ability.”


“It is a poor centre of a man’s actions himself. It is right earth. For that only stands fast upon his own centre; whereas all things that have affinity with the heavens, move upon the centre of another, which they benefit.

And certainly it is in the nature of extreme self-lovers, as they will set an house on fire, and it were but to roast their eggs.”


“Affected dispatch is one of the most dangerous things to business that can be. It is like that which the physicians call predigestion, or hasty digestion; which is sure to fill the body full of crudities and secret seeds of diseases. Therefore measure not dispatch by the times of sitting but by the advancement of the business.”

“Give good hearing to those that give the first information in business; and rather direct them in the beginning than interrupt them in the contrivance of their speeches; for he that is put out of his own order will go forward and backward, and be more tedious while he waits upon his memory, than he could have been if he had gone on in his own course. But sometimes it is seen that the moderator is more troublesome than the actor.”


“Communication of a mans self to his friend works two contradictory effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs. For there is no man that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more: and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less.”

“For friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections from storm and tempests; but it maketh daylight in the understanding out of darkness and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man recieveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is that whoever has his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly: he seeth how they look when they are turned into words; finally he waxeth wiser than himself: and that more by an hours discourse than by a days meditation.”

“The calling of a mans self to strict account is a medicine, sometimes too piercing and corrosive. Reading good books of morality is a little flat and dead. Observing our faults in others is sometimes improper for our case. But the best receipt (best I say to work, and best to take) is the admonition of a friend.”


“If a man look sharply and attentively, he shall see Fortune: for though she be blind, yet she is not invisible. The way of fortune is like the milken way in the sky; which is a meeting or knot of a number of small stars; not seen asunder, but giving light together”

“And certainly there be not two more fortunate properties than to have a little of the fool, and not too much of the honest.”

Monday 22 July 2013

Bunny World

My girlfriend asked for “a post-industrial bunny world where places are polluted and the bunnies have a social hierarchy that  revolves around vegetables because there is no longer enough fertile areas of land left to grow vegetables.”

The following bunny

1. Lord Hoppington
2. Vice Captain Nibbles
3. Doctor Flops
4. Lady Von Binks
5. The Marquis of poops
6. Professor Iscratchyou
7. Admiral Pawless
8. Baron White-belly
9. Madame Downey
10. Pontifex Thumps

Who is a fine example of a

1. Rex
2. Lop
3. Helicopter Lop
4. Dutch
5. Lionhead
6. Belgian Hare
7. Blue of ham
8. Dwarf
9. Angora
10. Harlequin


1. The Carrot Codex
2. The Crown of the Broccoli Baron
3. A Seduction in Strawberry
4. The Cabbage Contract
5. A Parsnip Inheritance
6. A Dandelion Dowry
7. The Pea-Pod Peerage
8. A Bell Pepper Birthright
9. The Truth about Turnips
10. Celery Investments

At –

1. Agreeable drinks under the rail sidings.
2. Polo in the belly of a crashed tanker.
3. Luncheon on an overgrown roof.
4. A wedding in the burrows under an abandoned factory.
5. A dinner party in a roofless overgrown shopping centre.
6. The theatre on a grassy bypass.
7. A garden party of the forested landing strip.
8. Unexpected elevenses in a soil-filled truck.
9. A race in the old smelting works.
10. A dance on a downed dirigible.

But may be prevented by

1. An embarrassing disclosure.
2. An unfortunate faux-pas.
3. The gossip of rivals.
4. The miscommunication of a boon.
5. A brute of a cousin.
6. A revealing joke.
7. Drink.
8. The unrequited love of a serving girl.
9. An incompetent butler.
10. The tyranny of an ancient dependant.

Sunday 21 July 2013

Now I know my A B C

Matthew Adams had YET ANOTHER request

“Knowing full well it is probably too late, and that I have already posted a request (which was more of a joke in response to spam than a real request, so please ignore), here is an idea which I think you could really go to town on.

A city that did not pay the piper, and when he returned he took everyone from the age 9 and up, leaving only young children behind. The months following many of the young children died, but some survive, creating small gangs and turning feral.

A few generations later, and the city is inhabited by the descendants of these feral children, still operating in gangs, and leaving vast areas of the city uninhibited. They are still mostly feral, each gang creating its own language, culture, belief. Some small groups of humanoids and wolf packs have also moved in. It is basically a mega-dungeon that is above ground.

Can you describe 5 gangs, their beliefs and attitudes, methods of communication, how they interact with other gangs, how they get food, etc. Are they still human beyond the physical level, whatever else might interest you?”

These things are generally accepted by all, though sometimes in very different forms.

The Gods built the city, then one day they left.
We are descended from the gods.
Their leaving is our fault
(Unless it’s their fault)
There are Olds, who are the first. They are few.
No-one yet has died of old age, only violence, starvation and disease.
No-one knows how old a person can get or if they even die. Maybe they just keep shrivelling up and getting wrinklier forever.
The oldest Olds say it can happen because they saw gods die that way.
There are many tribes but these are the biggest.

This gang coalesced in the year following the piper. It was made up of those children who could read and who wanted to keep reading, along with their younger dependant siblings.  They are now a kind of religious caste with their religion as the godlike past. They are an informal culture with access and status based on ability and desire for reading. People move in and out of the lower echelons all the time so the edges are fuzzy.

Ayebeseedys are seen as fortune-tellers, advisors and magicians. They have little direct physical force so retain complex alliances with other gangs, particularly the Ayoo’s. They tend to speak all of the gang dialects and are the chief form of communication between them. Like Bards, they can be reasonably assured of a good reception anywhere as they can easily ruin your reputation.

There is a deep hidden schism between secular Aybeseedys who believe they understand the objective truth of the past and between the overtly religious faction who understand it in spiritual terms. There are a handful of actual magic users but no-one knows who they are. Most clerics and religious leaders are from this group. They worship the imagined past, tied to the disappeared gods by the guilt of failure to live up to their promise. Chaotic clerics secretly believe that the gods left because the creators themselves were flawed in some way, they tend towards nihilism.

All Aybeseedys will present a united front if one of them is harmed. They swear vengeance and divine doom, which sometimes actually arrives.

The fortresses of the Ropecutters are two or three orphanages and boarding schools dotted around the city. The Orphans already had a structure of authority when the teachers and older kids disappeared. They were not too damaged by the loss of parents as they never had them. They obsessively self-segregate by age and gender. They separate by exact school year, and are quite good with dates and calendars as a result. They have a strong class hierarchy based on age with the oldest always highest. Like a monarchy, this is ruinously unfair and, like a monarchy, there are limits to how abusive it can get as the choice of person in charge is essentially random.

Year jumping in either direction is a massive crime (Most commonly people try to move up a year to get the extra status but occasionally some try to move down a year so they have an extra year of development, enabling them to dominate their yearlings.)

Ropecutters have a conservative non-expansionist culture based mainly around farming and scavenging. Their gender mix is as close to exact 50/50 as they can get it. Their base is very stable so successive waves of change have left them in the second position in the city, just behind

The Ayoo descendants were living as homeless criminals on the streets when the piper came. They already had a power structure in place and were fully self-sufficient in an already-hostile environment. They lost nothing during the event. They are the most confident, capable and aggressive group. They are also the most formally ignorant and care least about the past. They are highly violent both within and between groups, but generally nonlethal. Violence is tied to status and heavily socialised to prove dominance but generally not to kill. Beating, maiming and breaking are fine. Fistfights are the most honourable way of settling fights, except in inter-gender fights, in which case one, or  both parties might be thrown a knife, if someone likes them. A loser can retain, or even gain status by showing ‘class’, a mixture of bravery, indifference to bodily harm and sly humour when in danger. It’s possible to climb to the middle of Ayoo hierarchy without even winning any fights, you will lose fingers and soft tissue though.

They have a mafia/feudal arrangement of bosses and capo’s. They are the easiest group to move up in and in their own violent way, are something of a meritocracy. Tend to soak up self-made individualists from other groups. The top hierarchy is 70/30 male/female. This group is the one most like the vanished society though they know nothing about it, they have preserved the reversed mirror image of its culture and status markers. If anyone were to unify the human tribes, the Ayoos would lead them.

Pariah low status class. Only is a curse word in the city. It might mean one of the Only gang but might also be an insult meaning ‘weak’ or ‘coward’. The onlys are descended from the only children of middle class families, their settlements cluster round churches or schools but are widely dispersed in places no-one else wants to live. They have a weak social structure with a great deal of intra-group violence, simple hierarchies based on the use of immediate force. It’s hard to keep them together for anything longer than a short term plan as they lack discipline. There is not much trust from person to person, or in outsiders. No-one wants to be an Only. They form most of the mob if an Ayebeesedy preacher gets people riled up about the return of the gods. They survive by theft, scavenging, whatever they can get. Sub groups have own dialects, sometimes not understood even by other Onlys. It’s not a good gang to be a woman in. There are no female Old survivors in this group.

They are descended from the children of violently and sexually abusive parents. These children were set free from torment when the piper came. They celebrate the Harrowing. Like slightly evangelical wide-eyed barbarians. Like hippies but fearless and fucking nuts. Weak social ties and low levels of organisation but spiritual and moral unity. Often in conflict with conservative Ayebeseedy clerics as diametrically opposed views. Exactly the kind to get into adventures with. Crazed wanderers. May be easy to kill  but you never know so maybe leave them alone. The Olds are universally tough as nails and not to be fucked with, have mildly legendary reps. Roughly even gender split. Get food by scavenging, begging or killing something dangerous and eating it.

Tony Pace had this request

“Appearnetly i am a Ravenloft Victorian somehihng. I am severlely lacking inspiration, but i trust my DM. Spatter some inspiratiuon.”

Tony I honestly don’t know what that means, so… no. Sorry.

Saturday 20 July 2013

long-term leniency toward Kancho

Pearce Shea asked

“This is a barter economy. What do they trade here? ten horror stories in twenty words or less (or something like 20 words). what happens when you stare in the same place for hours without blinking?”

THREE THINGS Pearce? You get one hour regardless.

What do they trade here?

Murders, and songs about the murders.
Mosaics of babyteeth.
Hollow eggs, painted in the faces of friends with blood from your enemy’s wounds.
Disfigured Imperial busts by the tonne.
Ghostminer scrip from forgotten mass battles.
Bottles of brains.
The hair of lost children.
Tattooed eyes.
Infectious bites.
Coins cut out of executed men.
Gold acquired by three successive crimes.
Skulls of savants and mysterious beings.
Fragments of dull fictions recorded in gold knots by blind witches on ribbons taken from a corpses hair.

Ten horror stories in 20 words. I misread and did them in ten words each.

Pins behind your lovers ears release her face when pulled.
Tweezering freak hair, you feel it spiralled round every organ.
Underage girls bloodied clothes in your gym bag, no memory.
Glimpse your face on television every time you walk in.
You dampen internet signal, stop phones calling, effect deepens, widens.
Your name screamed from inside trunks of passing cars.
Successive mailed broken dolls predict future wounds. Untraceable.
Friends die when you sleep. Unstoppable. Your dreams do it.
True words in tabloid stories bleed when you read them.
Your anger crashes cars, planes, in radial waves around you.

What happens when you stare in the same place for hours without blinking?

Hour 1 – Shadows animate and beg you to stop.
2 – All fires within 10 leagues moan your name.
3 – Stone thins and hollows.
4 – Printed words form segmented insect forms and scurry away.
5 – You age d100 years.
6 – Time slows to a crawl.
7 – Solids become liquid, liquids gas, gas self-annihilates in screaming spectres.
8 – Quantum tunnelling reveals anti-self on other side.
9 – Nearby space fills with invisible watching gods.
10 – Time and space decay under your gaze releasing catastrophic zero-point energy.
11 – Space between living and dead, good and evil, meaning and void disappears.
11.5 – Loki, god of mischief Kancho’s you, resulting in blink. No-one ever reaches hour 12.