Wednesday 6 December 2023

The Autumn of Summers


Nothing dies like a Summer and the great beasts of forgotten summers, each different. 

Seasons here come from the southwest and fade towards the north east, vanishing over those black hills, but there is something there among the pale lakes which curdles seasons, traps them so, in each season, a great beast comes forth. 

So tit is that this is the land of great beasts. Each beast is always different, as each season is different. And so this is a land of hunters and scholars of the hunt. Ao-one knows precisely what will come forth - the where’s and the hows of it. All can be dangerous, but the parts and danger of each beast can possess increasable properties, and the hunt is always different for each season. 

The beasts of summer are usually the most violent and aggressive, if not the most deadly. 

But now comes a great terror, for up int the black hills, a strange moon rose and the world shook, and this autumn has come forth not one beast of summer but all. A torrent of forgotten summers - one each day or night - slinking sliding or blazing forth so that the cool night shimmers and simmers with beasts. 

It is very terrible, nothing is safe or regular. As bad as the beasts are the hunters that flood up the river. Yet we need them; all the old hunters of past summers. They gather round in creaking hustles, talking here with a farmer, there with a thane, the old men and housewives pulling on pipes and speaking what they know of this beast or that; 

The hunters at rest Vasily Grigorievich Perov


1 - Its form; (d20)


1. Sinious and lizardine, it curleth and windeth that its end might be hither and yon, now near, now far.

2. a lion in aspect and aye ye might say that none here have seen a lion in this life or the next but the old books speak much of them and tales as well and at all or most points I do say it be lionlike.

3. the beast be horned and prancing, like an old forest god, a great deer or a circus man

4. the beast be a flock or swarm of some flying thing, it be a shimmer in the air, or perhaps like many birds

5. the beast be a river creature swimming in the air as if t’were water above and not below

6. the beast is chimeric, brutal and winged, a beast of many parts and not well arranged

7. the beast is insectile but vast in scael, like a small thing made larger than it might be, or a familiar thing made unfamiliar

8. the beast is a lizard beast of a lost age, or the bones of one, or perhaps it be an alligator or a huge chicken yet it have some part of all of those

9. the beast be a platypus

10. the beast be like a crawling baby or toddling boy with a huge beasts head, or visa versa some say

11. the beast is a great stilted quadruped moving dreamlike yet its feet are cruel

12. the beast is a screeching feathered earthbound mess

13. this is a rapidly tunnelying beast with a strong dorsal fin or spike that preturdeth forth and it do churn its way through the earth very busyliy

14. the beast is a rolling pangolin, or armadillo, or a long beast yet that it form itself into an hoop and roll

15. the beast is akin to a rabbit or hare, small or large

16. the beast is small bird but very big, not a large bird, but a small one made big

17. the beast is most like an elephant or mammoth

18. I would say it is a wild cackling monkey

19. Of this beast a man might say; “this be alike unto a great beetle” but another say “It be not so and you are a foole to say so, look thee upon a beetle for they be common enough and say again that the beast be so alike, go on with ye ye great foole ye”.

20. Some would call it like a Dragonfly, yet one not seen hither, others may call it a bird of heaven. 


Drunk Hunters Rest with Dog - Unknown


2 - Its coat similar to; (d12) 

1-3; Skin; naked is the beast

4; It be a hairy beast, which is that its hairs be looser and longer than fur

5-6; The beast have scales like a snake

7-8; It hath fur, mayhap short but not too long

9-10; It is a feathered beast

11-12; It be two of the above each in separate parts. 



3 - Its colour; (d20) 

1. Like fire embers mixed with falling cherry blossom

2. gold tarnished with nitre but in places waxing seemingly molten yet without heat

3. heat-haze sunset red fading into blue counter-shading

4. like a shiny copper penny

5. a shifting blue-green iridescence shining as if always under summer light even when not

6. from powder blue to ink-black mixing with its own long ever-present shadow

7. crocus-yellow veined with pink

8. the red of sunbeaten bricks with parts like fine pink-traced marble

9. like deep red polished wood

10. tobacco-stained dove feathers

11. bee or tiger-striped, aggressive yellow and depthless black

13. shimmering cut-grass green, along with the smell

14. bright burning yellow-white of a noon sun (it be hard to gaze upon)

15. Eclipse-Coloured (that is pseudo twilight, black ringed with white and many-shadowed)

16. A smooth milky white with dream-coloured markings (a colour not of this sphere), either that or the colour of wounded ice.

17. Rose counterpointing the blood-green of thorn

18. The soft tan of well cared-for teeth, ringed with glistening red

19. Perfect lavender with the smell also and bees always near whether day or night

20. beaten heated iron speckled with the colour of its sparks and with something of its heat 



4 - Its size and bygness; (2d6) 

2. Very little like a kitten yet faster than the eye and fierce as fire

3. Badger size, deft and ferocious withal

4. A wildcats size and suppleness, and as silent and careful

5. The size of a big dog yea also robust, fearless and deep-chested that it tire not

6. As wide as a pygg, or boar very thick set and small legged and oncoming

7. Big as a foal or mule with long slender parts yet some thikke

8-9. It hath the mass of tiger or great catt, very large and at all points well-proportioned

10. More large and mighty than an Aurochs - it could break down simple walls

11. Alike the tales of the Olyphant claim; that it may batter houses

12. Like a Wyrm of tales, or mayhap a Whale of the See. A mighty thing that may push down the tallest trees and fear none 


The Hunting Meeting Adolphe Monticelli


5 - A Wonderous Aspect the beast hath; (d20)


1. Heat, that it gives out a great warmth that parches the green and bakes the earth and makes a shimmer in the air so that the birds drop dead and an egg may be cooked in its track, it may also breathe the fire of the sun some say.

2. Winds. It be cradled and woven with winds that may blast hunters hither and yon and may even carry it forth in the air.

3. Gold. All those wounded by it corrupt not into foulness but transmute slowly into purest gold, spreading like infection from its wound till they die thereof. It may be that its blood be hot gold, or its bones, or that it breathe gold or its fewmets be so.

4. Sweetness. The beast hath about it an Amorous sweetness which do cause those nearby to look kindly and sweetly upon one another and the beast too so that a man may be being eaten by the beast and cry out; hurt it not, the poore thing.

5. Fecundity. A great growth of green things wherever the beast passes, as much as if the land were left untilled and unmanaged for five or ten years or more.

6. Fertilisation. It be that where the beast is or has been, if ye be tupped ye shall seed and if ye tupp another they shall be with child, this being so for all animals even man, and the children be many.

7. Priapism and Satyrification. All males around the beast find themselves in a great heat for what they desire and ever-ready to make their amore with whatever they may see be it alike unto their love or not. This being so for all animals and they becoming most dangerous as a result.

8. Mnemophagy. This beast do devour all memory of it, though how it do this, by bite or sight, or be scent or touch, or by infection or whatever, none can recall. Likewise whatever be said of this beast be hearsay only, aye even this.

9. Loss, Listlessness and Dwelling upon Old Things. Those who hunt the beast are become a melancholic sort, as if the very thought of it do lead the mind down old and winding paths such that men take to drink and poetry and hunt it not.

10. Phoenixaliac Rekindling After Death. If the beast be killed it shall live again another way. How this be done and how stopped none have yet devised/

11. The Engendering of Mazes. Some by growth, others by a changing of the world.

12. It Doth Blind Those Who Look Upon It. As it be its form be but a rumour from seeing it in mirrors.

13. Shamed-to-Mar. All those who pierce, slice, put blows upon or otherwise marr the beast are consumed inwardly by great shame as if they had done a holy wrong and must be kept from blade, rope and poison for a good while.

14. That It May Dwell in Reflections. It do seem very small in a mirror, glass or still water, yet may leap from one to another and come again in its true size and largeness.

15. That It May Change Its Size.

16. That Its Blood Become Clever Snakes. Red and poisonous and at times capable of speech, these issue forth and run up trousers and into joints where they bite venomously and lethally. If a snake may be taken and kept it may give secrets.

17. That Its Roar Makes Panic, Causes Walls to Shatter and Streams to Surge and Doth Awaken Dark Spirits.

18. That It May Not Be Harmed By Weapon Made Of Mortal Hand. Yet how this be accounted, that it be a thing forged, or simply assembled by hand, if a sword will strike, an arrow pierce or even a thrown rock hit home I cannot say.

19. That It Maketh a Music or Cry Which Do Exchange The Selves Of Those Thereabout As If T’were The Shuffling of Cards. If the beast do make its sound aye one shall become another as if the spright were hoisted from one wight and placed in another as a card may change hands and this hath done great confusion for many are not them-selves.

20. That It Be A Phylactery. It be said the beast have within it the souls of any whom it has slain or who have fallen by its hand and should it die they shall be free’d. Yet whether they will attain their old wights or where they shall go, who can say?



The meeting of Khusrau and Shirīn on the hunting field.
Gouache painting by a Persian artist, Qajar period


6 - the prey of the beast; (d20)


1. Man. The beast taketh any man or woman wherever and however it may and makes little division or distinction between them be they man, woman, young, old, sic or hale or of this land or that.

2. The Beasts of the Field. It doth eat the cows, sheep, hoggs and Goats and any other beast that the hand of man places in some pasture or closed acre so that the country go bare and the fields overgrown, but of wild beasts it eats not.

3. Bridges. Not only these but perhaps doors, gates, crossing place poles that carry signs it doth gulp and swallow all as if t’were good cheese so that no river may be crossed, door barred and no man know which way go which.

4. Those Sleeping. Both beast and man so that all living fair and foul in the land fear greatly to sleep, or if they can sleep in shifts and all are tired most times and muchly. Sleep not lest the beast take thee!

5. Princes. Tis well these are few and well-guarded and rich withal that they may pay hunters to protect them. Yet a crown to travel faster than a ray of light and should one prince fall the crown do go rightways to another and the beast smells them out rightwise.

6. Children. Oh woe!

7. It Doth Eat of the Greene. As to a locust or plague of voals, the crops are devoured and even the leaves of the trees!

8. It Snuffleth in the Earth. What it seekes there who doth know, yet it tear up the land in great trenches and pitts and leaves a soily ruine wherever it will.

9. Treasures of Silver and Gold. Such riches be like sweetmeats to the beast and it may smell them out readily enough. It hathe eaten half the gold hearabouts and we must go now on credit. No coin or ring is safe but it will not eat flesh.

10. Yron. And mayhap steel, so that horses go unshoed and nothing of great devise may be made or sustained in this land but that the beast will smell it out and devour it.

11. Chickens.

12. Clothes and Eyes. Tis very sad to see the blind and naked people hearabouts. Some say it better that the beast do sukk they yghen outte, others prefer that the orb be pierced and drawn like an olive.

13. Fingers. And it will not discern between but take all and in great bites and then be gone and ye left with bloody mitts as ye may see from some here.

14. Virgins. I be in no danger but in gods name get ye tupped or get ye gonne.

15. Prey of the Hunt. The great of the land be offended for not fox nor deer nor bear or even badger can be quested for but that the beast interrupt and take the prey, even a small man may not take a pigeon by arrow lest the beast be upon them.

16. Honey. Aye and good luck to it and it may keep the hives. But there shall be no honey this year and none left in jars either and I take it sore.

17. Those Who Looke Not Behind Them. For this you see all hereabouts are everglancing and head turning and leaping and twisting hither and yon for if the beast sees you looking towards your own hind to see it then it shall fear to be seen but if not it shall come at thee.

18. It Drinketh the Streme. And gulpeth all down day upon day, now in one place, now another, as if it were the very see, and the land by made parched therewith and there be nothing to drink at all.

19. It Taketh Voices and Wind. ……… tis still ………

20. Wives. And not all are pleased by it (though some are), and do dress their wives in great suits of yron and spikes that the beast may not get upon them and this do please some men who say t’should’ve been done afore times yet others divorce & live free & the men be woe.


The Old Hunter
by Ferdinand de Braekeleer


7 - manner and habit of the beast; (d20) 

1. Fuming and Bellicose, it doth roar and go with great bobbaunce and make much of itself as if it’were to be a king of beasts aye and men too.

2. Like a Hott Ember that sits yet sparks fiercely if poked. If ye see it show care for it may only growl and then leap forth in ways unseen and with great pain.

3. It Runs like Water always to the Easiest & subtlest Path.

4. It stalks like a Tiger, leaps and carries away what it desires to where it would and only then devours them.

5. Preening and Ladylike. It pleases to be admired and preens and cleans often and is much horrored by being fouled. Likes to be looked upon but does revenge itself like a batty matron if assailed.

6. Afearing and Astounding. It pleasures in the terror it inflicts and enjoys to afear and horrible its prey, to hear them querulous, then to scream and run and be pursued as if the fear itself were meat to it.

7. Like Stagnant Water in a Well. It lies hidden in some place where what is needed is kept, as with; water, firewood or similar, then takes what comes and lets none pass. A bridge may be its dwelling place.

8. Its Manner be Circumspect and Little Known.

9. Subtle and Sidling, striking and assailing from where it be not suspected to come. It doth take much pleasure in this invention.

10. Hawklike and Striking, it do seek to observe what it desires from and great distance, giving little sense or sign of what it would, and in a trice it advance and descend in great speed and silence, aiming at one and only one particular desire of its flesh and either it carry away that one or it retreat and sitt and seem to again give little auger that it ever desired any such thing.

11. Wheeling and False-Craven. The creature makes a squirrel like hopping and friendliness and a craven wheedling like a beaten dogg and a sopping of eyes like a sad child as if to say ay sir let me but be by thy side, but attend it not for it shall eat well.

12. Regular and Castellean. The beast doth patrol its own walls and ways like a well-fed cellarmaster, one may set ones clock by its goings.

13. Playful and Boisterous. Frustrating as a sugared child the beast demands attention and runs circling round and round and round and upon tiring itself breaks down and wails, it assails in manic wise as troubled children will.

14. Slovenly and Villainous. A poor and nasty creature that slinks and covertly writhes in great suspicion and clear malignancy yet it seems not to think it is seen, also the thing by dirty, wrenched and ill-kept.

15. Like a Snail that Knoweth Much. It make is way slowly but beware for the beast is a player of games and wise withal and shall be neither outwitted or surprised, instead ye shall have thy hand turned as if by a sharper of cards for all its slowness.

16. It Goeth about as a Merchant upon highway and road. The jaunty creature travels as if expecting good welcome.

17. Like a Great Shippe, or Drifting Thyng. Or mayhap like a cloud which goeth against the wind, or an old drunk who finds his way home though bleary, the beast doe drift and hang about and do little and then drift away.

18. Curious and nose-arching. Like a pompous drinker of fine wines the beast do sniff here and there and investigate much and poke about where it will yet if seen it shall seem to give over that it seek not and that whatever it hath found be not what it sought or it do be so but not of right quality.

19. It Quest Like a Dogge. Very much do it scent and follow seeking and biting at what it wants.

20. It Cometh and Goeth at Strange Hours Alike Unto a Man Confused. No sooner be it in one place but that it look about it and seem to go on as if it came wrongly, at other times it butts in where nothing it desires may be but yet it shall be present and full of wonders till the sense strike and it wander off or seem woeful and leave. 



Paulus Potter. The Bull, 1647


8 - the lair of the beast if it have such; (d20) 

1. It Lay Down Where it Will. Who can say where the beast be, not I.

2. It Hide in a Nest in a Tall Tree

3. It Seek out Tombs.

4. In the Roof of an House

5. Beneath Something Larger than Itself, often a bridge, perhaps a hill

6. In a great Nutt

7. Behind a Clokk

8. It hideth in a myst which emits from a toad that lives in a tree that grows upon a skul, tho  the nature of the skul be of no consequence in this telling and only a matter of chance and I say to thee any skul will do and busy thyself not with this petty aspect but be about your work.

9. It liveth within a Goat and which Goat or where be not known except that it hunger for lime for the Beast within do afflict its humours.

10. It liveth in a place that cannot be found except that of those that pursue it each shall dream of the beast and dream one thing true so that if several do seek and do remember and compare their dreams the parts of which that are true will be combined to indicate the place yet for that day or night only.

11. It rest where waters fall.

12. It rest not and cease not but be ever-amove such that if it cease it may die.

13. It seeks old castles or ruins of like kind.

14. It be a shape-changing beast and sleeps as a man in a bed, and the man knoweth not that he be the beast.

15. It rest as a sweet Air that drift from a silver harp that be seen only in the reflection of a starlit pool and when day do break the harp fade and with it each note do pass away and as each sound doth fall to earth for each one the Beast be painted in the daylight air as with the stroke of a brush till it be real and fierce once more yet if a man do learn its tune and if it be moonlight and have they a silver harp they may cause the beast to sleep invisible for as long as they do play and play well.

16. It sleep quiet in a cavern of soil beneath the house of an Old Maid and she will have none of thee or thy ways and shall allow thee not but turn the country against they for devilling with her floorboards yet how else shall the Beast be attained I ask thee woman?

17. It rest beneath a great pyre of hott embers and ye may find these by their scent and smoke.

18. In the Cowshed.

19. In three separate parts, one beneath earth, one above and one in neither of those and they may be hunted separate or combined but if ye strike one ye must strike all at the same moment or ye be lost.

20. It build for itself a False House of twigs and the woods leavings, and why it do this none know for the house be hollow within and like a nest yet without it do look very like an house.



The Jabberwock, by John Tenniel, 1871







(i was going to title this 'help Patrick get hard', 
count yourselves lucky that i did not)



  1. For the size of the summer beasts, how is one to roll a 1 with 2d6?

    1. That was a test which you just passed. Well done.

  2. Very characterful! Love the different kinds of prey especially.

  3. "the beast is small bird but very big, not a large bird, but a small one made big"
    I don't know how you're able to routinely nail a tone out of seemingly nothing at all, but I am always appreciative that you can.

  4. As ever, I am left admiring your grasp of language as a means of setting tone and crafting complex, interesting scenarios. This was delightful.

  5. And yet, there is in the entirety of these sprawling tables hit point, nor saving throw nor armor class to be found. Of procedures for integrating the thing into an extant campaign there are a measly child's handful. You cavort in the airy realm of thought and concept, while below you is the turbulent ocean of roiling mathematics, procedures and actual play, a diamond wall called D&D into which those who would call themselves game designers must descend and immerse themselves.

    What are you afraid of?