Thursday 16 February 2023

Corposant 13 – REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEssentiment

 Entries #1 to #10 can be found by hitting 'Trailing Corposant' in the tags

Corposant #11 - BETRAYER

ADB, Lorgar, Angron, Emperor, Sanguinius, Precis; ADB good, least satirical Warhammer writer, herald of the awokening, found a way to have a black man shot by space cops, helped 'black box' the Emperor, (systemic issue), ship girls, edgy protags, BPD, shifting backstory, wrote Lorgar as being a bit BPD as well?, Echoes of Eternity like a Marvel director suffering under endless Fiege-notes, Sangunius finally good. Peace! 


Corposant #12 - VULKAN SHIVS 

Nick Kyme. Vulkan. Precis; boring bad books, seems like nice guy, good editor? hard to tell, vulkan gets tortured like black men in genre, he is guaranteed to survive this science fiction movie, not a blessing.




Corposant 13 – REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEssentiment


Is there anything more to say about Perturabo? 

I already discussed him here 

With this evergreen quote from Wikipedia; 

"Ressentiment is a sense of hostility directed at that which one identifies as the cause of one's frustration, that is, an assignment of blame to ones frustration. 

The sense of weakness or inferiority and perhaps jealousy in the face of the "cause" generates a rejecting/justifying value system, or morality, which attacks or denies the perceived source of one's frustration. 

This value system is then used as a means of justifying one's own weaknesses by identifying the source of envy as objectively inferior, serving as a defence mechanism that prevents the resentful individual from addressing and overcoming their insecurities and flaws. 

The ego creates an enemy in order to insulate itself from culpability." 

Is there anything more to say? 


(The Eye And Schtizophrenia) 

The only real reference to schitzoidal thinking in Pertys story; a common theme in the art of Schizophrenics is the observing eye;




Iain McGilchrist think this is due to some failure in brain lateralisation, that one part of the mind becomes directly aware of the other, but *as* an *other*, an alien observing presence, capable of reading thoughts, which no-one else can sense. 

Well Perty got an eye too, a malignant star that no-one else can see; 


and which never goes away. actually kind of useful in a few acts of navigation but just generally deeply upsetting the rest of the time.





**Chapter One - Birth of an Asshole** 

(19whatever to 2007) Pops up as a reference in a lot of Horus Heresy metafiction. 

(2007) - 'Fulgrim' by Graham McNeil 

I don't remember him doing much in this! 

(2012)  'Angel Exterminatus' by Graham McNeil 

Centre stage baby! We leap into Perturabos' story mid-heresy, after Istvaan and go right into a cooked-up meta plot about Fulgrim trying to become a god, or at least a demon. Oddly this bizarre pairing actually work as a story engine. Sometimes the goddess of story  logistics delivers inspiration. 

This is our first look inside Perturabos' head and it sets the tone for everything that comes after. 

The story ends with Perturabo badly wounded and the Iron Warriors trapped in the Eye of Terror, the same eye which has been watching him his entire life. Perturabo is (fictionally) born! And born angry! 


**Chapter Two - Metafiction** 

(2012) - 'Codex : Chaos Space Marines, 6th Edition' by Phil Kelly 

(2014)  -'The Horus Heresy, Book Three; Extermination' by Alan Bligh 

From 2012 to 2015 not much happens. Perty gets some current-year 40k lore about what he is up to post great-rift. He is conquering the segmentum obscurus and fighting Morty for relics. 

This is somewhat interesting for future 40k as Perty is (probably still) one of the more sane and better organised Primarchs, one of the few who actually has the aptitude and personality to organise a stellar empire at scale and keep it running. Will the Empire of Iron pop up again in the Imperium Nihilus? 


**Chapter Three – “I hate sand..”** 

(2015)  - 'Black Oculus' by John French 

(2017)  - 'Tallarn' by John French 

(2017)  -'Pertuabo: The Hammer of Olympia' by Guy Haley 

Perturabo escapes from the Eye in a short story and the goddess of logistics swoops him off to Tallarn to fill in that planets backstory. After getting a suppurating hole in his soul from Fulgrim, this marks Pertuabos 'Wunderwaffen' obsession; if he gets a big enough super-weapon he will feel better about himself. 

Perturabo fails in his war on Tallarn by just *this* much and is dragged back into the main Heresy line by a summons from Horus. 

At about the same time (in publishing history) he gets his second personal deep-dive, this time from Guy Haley, giving us his backstory, his discovery on Olympus, youth, meeting the Emperor, and gradual slow decay into bitterness and ressentiment. Then his total breakdown after one campaign too many followed by a revolt on his homeland finally drives him into a violent purge of his own planet which culminates in him choking his adoptive sister to death. 

This is where Pertuabo "falls", and it has relatively little to do with Chaos, at least explicitly. There are no cackling demons popping out to offer Faustian bargains, no Truman-show theatrics, mind-worms, obvious abusive behaviour or strange invitations to the realm of dream. Curze fell likewise but he at least had very serious and undeniable mental problems, whether you see his sadism as inborn or a partial choice. 

After murdering and enslaving a substantial chunk of his homeworld, Pertuabo is convinced that 'The Emperor will never forgive this" and turns fully to Horus, who is willing to offer the obvious lie of "you did the right thing". Almost the entirety of the rest of their relationship is Horus consistently pressing this button with Pertuabo until it finally wears out. 

Probably, actually, the Emperor would actually have “forgiven this”, its just one world and Primarchs have done worse, plus they did technically rebel, plus the Emperor really needs Primarchs at that precise moment. 


Turbos family fortunes; 

Adopted Father – rebelled against him while absent and was killed.

Adopted Brother – drove Perty mad by being actually better than him despite being only human, culminated in spastic statue-smashing by Perturabo, but the guy aged naturally and died well.

Adopted Sister – choked to death in a rage.

Father-Creator – slavish obedience followed by (unusually effectual) rebellion.

Primarch Brothers – either betrayed, betrayed by or just generally fuck those guys.

Gene-Sons – orders Legion to decimate itself via random selection and bare hands, things generally get worse from there. 


Chapter Four - Backstage Competence Baby! 

(2018)  - 'Slaves to Darkness' by John French 

(2019)  - 'The Solar War' John French 

(2019) - 'The Lost and the Damned' Guy Haley 

(2020)  - 'The First Wall' Gav Thorpe 

(2020)  - Saturnine by Dan Abnett 

(2021)  - Mortis by John French 

From 2018 on Perty is pulled into the final phase of Horus' war and, though he gets no single books to himself, does Pretty Fucking Well Actually, fully earning his Most Competent Traitor Primarch badge. (Its not a high bar but whatever). 

Tasked with bringing crazy-ass Angron to heel in 'Slaves to Darkness' he pulls it off neatly. It looks like he planned much of 'The Solar War', which ended in a raging success. I don't think he does much in 'The Lost and the Damned' and Horus won't let him just BLOW UP THE SUN, an ambition he shares with Mr Burns, but when finally allowed to get to work he brings down the Palaces shields with the pinpoint music of his lance weapons, outwits Dorn in 'The First Wall' and takes the Lions Gate, bringing Traitor heavy armour directly to the Palace, then, when stymied, he pulls off the rare feat of half-tricking, or at least manipulating Dorn and Abaddon into the Saturnine gambit, humiliating Fulgrim, blunting the power of Horus and giving the Loyalists a temporary win. In 'Mortis', a rather boring book by John French his plans bear fruit and the Palace is cracked open, leading to the beginning of the end. 

After being cucked out of the killing blow by Horus and effectively demoted after doing the hard work, instead of being manipulated again he just Fucks Right Off, getting the hell out of the Sol system with the bulk of his forces and goes off to his Empire of Iron to be a massive problem for the future Imperium. 

In a way, for Perturabo, the siege is a personal success. Even though the siege as a whole fails he succeeds at almost every challenge he is given, and ultimately just stops caring about how Horus and the rest view him. He doesn't need to be anyone’s special boy any more. This is largely due to him now regarding everyone else as being utter shit rather than any growth in his personality, but for our fake stoic that might be the best we could expect. If you can’t be Marcus Aurelius, be Steerpike. 

Peace out nerds! You won't have Pertuabo to kick around any more! 


Wait, did Peter Turbo WIN the Horus Heresy? On the Traitor side at least he comes the closest. 

Horus – dead.

Morty - stabbed in the head by the Khan.

Lorgar - beaten up like a nerd after a failed coup & made to go sit in his tower.

Curze - suicide-by-assassin.

Angron - tubes ripped out and banished by Sanguinius.

Alpharius - killed by Dorn and then again by Robute. How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?

Fulgrim - tabled by Dorn and flounces off (though does cut Robutes throat later)

Pertuabo - beats Angron, cracks open the palace, gets the Justarian killed ;-), takes the Lions Gate, leaves of his own accord, humiliates Dorn in the Iron Cage - how was he ever driven to the Eye?




It’s been stated in a few places, but I can't find confirmation that the Hazard Stripes are a form of Heraldry meaning "death to transgressors"  which is to me a pleasing idea of a post-apocalyptic human culture preserving and translating the basic concept of 'industrial heraldry' into something new. (Should be more red hexagonal shields in 40k tbh). 




What we know of Perty, and what he knows of himself, starts with him hanging from a cliff, half-way up. 

We learn from contextual information that he definitely was not just incarnated at this point. When he meets his to-be adopted father, they talk of stories of a hero wandering the hills, fighting monsters, a super-boy doing adventures. If this was Pertuabo, and no reason to think it wasn't, that’s quite a different personality to the one we see from this point on. 

While living at court on Olympia he is largely pictured indoors, arguing with his family, giving Dawkins speeches on  atheism, locked in his room doing 'research' and later leading brutal military campaigns. The earlier Perty seems to be cut much more in the mould of a classic wandering Greek hero. 

SO - what happened to his memory of those days? and why? I think no other Primarch had anything similar happen to them... 

Most likely option is that he somehow traded away, or was tricked out of them or they were somehow stolen from him by the Ruinous powers 

We know that Perturabo has access to something quite like the Akashic record, that he essentially 'knows' all material things, (though he doesn't know exactly how to combine or use them), but basically he has a perfect internal science wikipedia running continuously on everything he looks at. 

This seems to have had a detrimental effect on his character and personality - he loves research and science, but he is a scientist who can't really 'discover' much; he already knows the details, he can just confirm theories 

Consider the personality of a classical renaissance man, asking endless questions about nature, conducting experiments, exploring, finding things out, the kind of person that is and the effect they would have on those around them, both from the relative openness of  their personality but also that they are engaged in a process that others can also take part in and come along with. 

Compare that to someone who has all of Wikipedia in a low-tech society, and can theoretically *do* anything, but they do it alone, discover little or nothing, are just instantiating knowledge they already have and the main challenge is just getting it right. And consider the different societal effects of lets-discover-nature guy and I-know-everything guy. One shapes an entire culture in a possibly-positive way, the other is basically just a living data-bank, respected, sort of, but more of a resource than an inspiration. 

We can consider also the effect of losing those early memories. Early, likely original Perturabo was, a wanderer in the hills, a being with no particular status who encountered strangers, peasants, travellers, monsters, whoever, for himself and interacted with each as he would. (probably). Who was genuinely exploring and having an actual adventure. With no societal instruction book he simply set his own goals and went about them, adjusting with understanding. 

The Perturabo we actually get is 'born' on that cliff face. First they face the abyss of knowledge about themselves, then their perfect understanding of the material world, then their first social encounters are with guards and then late a manipulative court, which they enter without any contextual sense of self. A name and a strong will, but no story or sequence of experiences and decisions to tell them who they are. A powerful tool, ready to be manipulated and used. 

We can have some sympathy with Perty here as the internet has done a similar number on us. 

I'm imagining here, something like a classic 'unwise bequest' in which original Perturabo, for some reason we will never know, makes some kind of deal with the Ruinous Powers (in disguise, he doesn't know what they are), for knowledge. (Magnus did something similar for his own reasons). 

'Knowing everything' or being able to understand or construct anything, is the kind of thing an intelligent young boy might think they really want, with no understanding of what a personal disaster it might be. And the only price asked is "your memories up to this point" - and who knows how long that is? A few weeks? a few days? 

And perhaps the Emperor actually designed Perturabo with access to the Akashic record in mind, and the power that was 'given' to him in this deal is only power that was rightfully his already, but perhaps might have taken time to unlock. 

If it’s a gambit of chaos, it’s a beautifully elegant long-term move to cripple someone’s personality while seeming to aid them, and, most beautifully, removing any knowledge or evidence of the deal at the same time. 

(I mean never sign a contract were part of the deal is "you will lose any memory of signing this contract") 




The first thing I wrote about Perturabo was about Identification through Recognition, and I am far from the only one! This guy has a fair number of fans and or many of them a similar emotion seems to be at play; recognition of some of the best talents and worst traits shared by the nerd/autist personality type and a kind of distant sad sympathy. 

Pertuabo is one of a few projections of the Warhammer player into Warhammer itself, something he shares with Trazyn the Infinite (a compulsive collector with literal shelves of space marine helmets and interdimensional poke balls full of lore-accurate period armies which he arranges in actual dioramas in his planet-sized museum), and to some extent, Fabius Bile (a superior atheist who just loves to kitbash). 

Pertuabo collects and built figurines (something remarked on several times), trains his soldiers to fight in computerised and tabletop Kriespiel games, isolates himself when distressed (which is always), is ‘always-online’ via his weird cybernetics, and, as discussed everywhere, has the personality of an angry incel gamer boy. 

The blessed gifts of modernity; isolation, technology, FOMO, self-hatred when compared to an infinity of beauty and accomplishment we can never match. 

The fundamental battle with ressentiment, perhaps the most powerful of modern drives and the central moral cultural challenge of out generation. Whom amongst us is not Perturabo in our hearts?? Anyone who put their hand up to that one; FUCK YOU GUYS, FUCK YOU RIGHT IN THE ARSE. 

Some have said the world is shaped by men who set their hearts on toys. I will say that the world often shaped by the irresolvable desires which prompt relentless action. 

So why can Perturabo not name or acknowledge his own desire for recognition? Even though he is utterly driven by it? 

It’s painful to look that deep. Its shameful. To look that deep into yourself and accept not only such a consuming need, or flaw, but also the deep sense of weakness that provokes it, to see yourself as weak, as low status, and such an overwhelming history of failure thereby.. Weakness must deny itself and so never be resolved.

I suppose that is what "set in your ways" really means. After all, just living life, day by day, becomes something of a sunk-cost fallacy, tearing out a part of yourself that late in the game only becomes more and more difficult as the years go by, an admission that deep cuts all the way to the core, does it basically invalidate everything that came before? It certainly feels like it does.




The horror of intelligence 

In a way we don't need the nightmare of Chat GPT to show us this, we just need the biographies of mildly autistic and very intelligent men. 

Intelligence; swiftness of comprehension, exactness of conception and clearness of memory, rapid and subtle manipulation of abstract values  - is a quality that can be cranked up pretty high, and it can gain you so much. 

Chat GPT doesn't know why it does what it does, but if you ask it, it can give you an pretty good answer, (that is entirely made up and not actually true). 

Likewise, if we ask ourselves why we do what we do probably the average person is only slightly better at working this out about themselves than a random stranger watching video footage of them would be. Nevertheless, press the button and words spill out; explanations, stories, declarations of principals, ideas, histories. 

Could all be complete bullshit - how are we supposed to know? Perhaps we just pressed the Chat GPT button in our own minds and what comes out is as free of real self knowledge as a digital neural network would be. 

Whenever we find out something meaningful about ourselves it often comes as a slightly uncomfortable surprise, and it often comes as a result of complex action in complex, rapidly moving and hard to predict environments, not the kind of thing you can just think through, and it often feels slightly unpleasant. 

The horror of a high IQ and the alienation that often goes along with it, and the lack of self-knowledge that can grow alongside that. 

Cracks are inevitable. They begin at single tiny points but once they start they propagate themselves with brutal speed, and in many cases, increasing the hardness of materials won't help much with stopping cracks, instead you need something softish or more flexible to even out the distribution of force. The hard is not much use without the soft. 

Oh Lord of Hosts, I beg ye keep my IQ roughly on a par with my intuitive systems, general instincts and broad life experience, not too high above or too low below, for to do otherwise is to become lost, and the worst kind of lost is to not know you are lost.



Wednesday 8 February 2023

Cryjack, Rare Skeletons and a Request for Aid

 Hello everyone. Here are some updates and at the end a request for help.


'Noisms' is nearly at the end of the Yoon Suin 2 Kickstarter

He's been incredibly successful.. Much more than any of my Kickstarters.

 and I for one.

am thrilled by his success...

If you want to hear me an 'Noisms' ramble for an hour about Yoon-Suin, Games and Culture then you can so so here;


Do you like .... rare skeletons????

I am clearing out my cupboards and selling a bunch of stuff on eBay (UK only sorry), including some rare original C17 Skeletons from the depths of Games Workshop history.


We are working through the layout for my own (much less successful) kickstarter for 'Speak, False Machine'. The book is meant to have a central glossy colour photographic section with images used for reference in the chapter on minis.

Does anyone out there know where I might go to hire someone to help me source a bunch of copyright-free photographs of certain specific types of Warhammer minis in various situations?

I am aware of most of the Copyright free sites for images and they are ill provided with photos of the kinds I need. I could try sourcing individual photos from places like Instagram etc by contacting individual creators but that promises to be a long and frustrating process.

Here is an example spread of what I am talking about (from the test print not the new version);

Monday 6 February 2023

A Review of 'Tomb Robbers of the Crystal Frontier' by Gus L


Writing AND Art! A twofer! 


Has a pleasingly integrated aesthetic and informational design, everything is in shards of pink and purple.

But who did layout, was that Gus?

A pleasing unity of form.

Guss' art is not always perfect but it is always correct.


Gus is an old old OSR (though he is just as likely to have renounced that group identity a few times since I last read his stuff.

He ran a blog called Dungeon of Signs [] which was pretty good, had a huge megadungeon called HMS Apollyon, and all of his stuff was free and slightly complicated, and because it was free it never really developed a 'cult following', though he had more than enough expertise and artistic and creative power to be considered very notable.

He was and likely is also a very very left wing and very bitter man.

Now he blogs at All Dead Generations [] and has come to whatever self-negotiation with the spirit of capital he needed to and produced something you can pay money for, so now people will like it more.

And well worth the money it is!

Because he is writer, and artist, AND map-maker (the most important) AND (maybe?) layout person - Gus could probably make an INSANE amount of money - however since he is a Commie also he probably wont.

No judgement here - I have written about the inescapable polarity between D&D's twin roots of capitalistic systemisation and ground-up folk art, to which we can add the parasocial personality economy of Kickstarter and the friend/contact economy.

Its all a little ugly and impure but so is everything that works, the best anyone can do is decide which compromises they are willing to make and try to stick by that honourably.


So while the not-right-wing-actually wing of the OSR seems to have recombined around Prince of Nothings blog it seems the not-communist-actually-you-CHUD wing (and this being the OSR, the actual political spread of creatives goes all the way from centre left, to very fucking left, with a few dots in the centre right, and then a little reactionary splurge a bit further right) has recombined (if they even needed to) around Bones of Contention and whatever purple grouping this is.

This is actually working better than it was back in the day, when all these goons had to share a forum or a G+ string or a comments thread life was 80% drama, 15% autism and 5% REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, now they have all effectively purged each other from one another’s spaces and, looking around in their MIND PALACES, presumably have been left with little option but to actually produce dungeons, so now we have Prince of Nothings anti-artpunk thing and this.

10 out of 10, would partition again.


Like many D&D settings this exists on the borders of political power to allow the negotiation between law and lawlessness that makes up what we typically consider 'adventure', in that there is somewhere to go from (civilisation) and go to (the 'wild'), where you can do things that are usually or often disruptive to civilisation, and then return from back to, hopefully with all the money you made.

(Other versions would be just staying in the 'to' - which is maybe survival meets empire building - you don't get to trade the 'treasure' away to somewhere else for money which is mainly useful somewhere else, instead what you have that is useful is what you have, so gold less important than dry wood, and staying in the 'from' where you are still in civilisation and may to extra-legal things but have ot keep it on the down-low, in which case, we might call that 'intrigue' or a 'crime' game.)

The game where you go from the wilds into civilisation and then go back to the wilds, I haven't seen that very much - we could maybe call that the Tarzan game, or a Conan game. Some unexplored possibilities there perhaps.)

Different to some points of crap settings, this borderland exists between two or I think three empires, one of which is gaining in strength - so it looks like there is no 'infinite frontier' but instead distant, but growing, and probably inevitable, conflicts between major powers.

This plays into the faction play of the main settlement in which the main players are represented by low level goons and the unstable power balance of the town means the PCs will probably end up getting involved in this somehow, pissing off and or pleasing one or more of the factions and, if they are successful tomb robbers, disrupting the tenuous balance of power.

There is also a nascent fourth faction mad up of revenants and fallen star people which can pop up and start blooming in various forms depending on what you do in the crystal tombs.


An elegant conceit where a bunch of crystal meteors or stellar objects created or made into tombs by a race of elfish types who live up above the atmosphere, are plummeting through the atmosphere and landing across the 'crystal frontier'.

This answers the question of why it is a stateless borderland - giant crystal things keep plummeting out of the sky and when they land they poison the place, and why tomb robbers come there (no need for 'deep time' past empires integrated into the history of the game world)

[Interesting conflict or polarity there between OSR-adjacent creators tending to like both modularity in dungeon concepts but also loving 'deep time' and 'readable strata of empire' in their dungeons].


I am on record as being against crystals both in principal and actuality. Mere ageless boxes of refracted light, they carry no stain, mark no culture and drift through rich history like raindrops across a windowpane, yet for all that it is based largely in and around crystals I cannot deny that this book makes as good a use of them as likely can be made;

Professional crystal cutters gaining access to fallen tombs (possibility of tomb manipulation as one grows in this skill).

Ballardian crystal transformation disease.

(the opportunity for Stugatsky/Cronenberg crystal doppelgangers who walk prismatic through the wastes and think they are, and may be, the originals, is missed, but can be easily added)

Crystal swords, chests, zombies etc.

The refractive capacities of light in a crystal tomb are I think not fully developed.

Actually was I wrong originally? I think I would have preferred a somewhat more dreamlike and Ballardian tinge to the setting - shimmering plains and Faberge hogs, shining prismatic ghosts watching from obsidian crags, well you can't have everything.


There is something of a limitation in the concept of Tombs, in which nearly everything you meet inside has to be a revenant, construct, ghost, immortal or trap of some kind.

This is evaded somewhat by having the main tomb be crashed for a while and penetrated already so now an animal is nesting inside, in a secondary dungeon rival groups of prospectors are already humming about outside 

and there is nothing saying further drops must be limited to tombs, there could be crystal mazes, laboratories, churches, space-forts etc etc - 

yet still they must be crystal...


I have *tried* to produce here a very simplified flow chart of the dungeon layout which hopefully will not ruin it for anyone or tread on copyright or design

The lower red arrow is the main entry and the upper arrow a potential secondary entry and exit

Looks like basically a two-loop system, one loop obvious and the other hidden by a secret door.

If you look at the upper right branch of the leftmost vertical, irl that actually crosses *under* that point of the right vertical, if I were doing this I would have found it hard to avoid jamming in some kind of secret passing or crack there to create a third loop.

Should a dungeon be looped-to-fuckery?

Should it (like this one) have maybe one or two main loops and *possibly* more but those found only by exploration investigation or cunning?

Is there some kind of neat proportion or value between a dungeon having a certain proportion of 'open loops' and 'hidden loops'?

There is some kind of balance or at least, relationship here between the virtues of 'Flow Control' making a more Zelda-ish puzzle dungeon - like Arnold tries to do much of the time, and between ruincore or crumblecore design where there is just a hive of sneaky and chaotic ways to worm through a place as if it were rotten wood, producing a chaotic and unpredictable state of play, like I tried to do with Demon-Bone Sarcophagus.


There is a lot of excellent stuff in here; the main dungeon, a local town with factions etc, isometric AND flat maps, all done by Gus, plus a nice isometric area map, ANOTHER smaller dungeon with some battling prospectors.. 

(it’s a spiral which means it’s essentially a single line. I once made a spiral dungeon thinking it would be mysterious and cool but actually it turned out to just be a line and the players were tired and frustrated, not saying that is the case here but something to bear in mind)

Anyway, do you put the world stuff at the front, like an establishing tone thing, put it in the back like an appendix? Which maps do you put where? (this has literally every kind and format of map you might need, top down, isometric, for players for DM, etc,) do you arrange it to be read more like a story? to be referenced? for usage? (what kind of usage and by whom).

Anyway there is literally no good or correct way to lay out a book of this kind so...


The Crystal Tomb has the dungeoneering process integrated into world arrangement, with an on-call group of seconds to take the place of dead party members, rewards for both deceit and honesty with bosses, probably enough XP to get players out of the one-hit-to-kill zone.

It is not as carefully engineered or toyboxy as Serpent King, and not as deranged and chaotic as DCO.

It is a *hard* dungeon I think, and especially hard for new players. The crystal wasting sickness that seems to come in at every possible exposure to nearly anything, is pretty hardcore, especially over the long term and especially for low CON players.

I think my only complaint about this *might* be that it kills too slowly for something so terminal in what might be an opener dungeon - it seems highly likely that a new players golden winner PC could make it out with enough XP to hit level 2, a bunch of interesting things to make them care about the character and some spicy in-world political takes but still essentially have crystal-cancer which is going to kill them, slowly.

This could be a good hook for adventure and role-playing and there is a rumoured witch who might be able to cure you *somewhere* in the setting but at least the way I read it - pretty much everyone is going to get the crystal sickness thing and so 'hunt for the witch' is going to be adventure 2 in almost everyone’s campaign.

I might throw in an insanely expensive elixir or drink imported from some empire, available in the main town, which you can buy for an extortionate amount - that's less interesting than going to search for a witch, for one session, but more manageable long-term than 'ok boys we need to go to the witch again' over multiple sessions

Maybe it’s a slightly boring option? depends how you cost it perhaps.


In terms of its 'engineering' this is a pleasingly good and solid book. 

A possible Enny winner? Maybe 5 years ago when the 'OSR' was still a thing, but probably Gus is happier that way.

Deserves a hardback release and a print run imho!

(though knowing this audience you probably all already know about it)