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5 setting questions

 Quick post, here's some quiestions you can answer about your setting:

Where can I win a ship? What do I have to do to win it?

What's the go-to bar/casino game? Can we play it at the table?

What is the weirdest thing in this setting in relation to the real world? Is it going to eat me?

Can I use monster parts to make myself better? Can I use robot parts? 

Where's the most unexplored region nearby? Why is it that way? Do any people live there?

Gygax 75 - Week 2

And we're back for week 2 of the Gygax 75! This week I'll be taking you through the Broken Sands (name pending, I kinda like the Amber Sands or Brimstone Flats or something like that).

The tasks this week are as follows:

1 - Get some hex paper - Done! I'll be using Hexkit with the tile packs the Tiles of Xark! and the HPS Cartography Kit.

2 - One settlement of a significant size

3 - Two other settlements

4 - One major terrain feature

5 - One mysterious site to explore

6 - One (main) dungeon entrance

And two extra credit assignments:

1 - Pimp your map

2 - Create a random encounter table

For this I envisioned a rather desolate series of badlands sort of based of Arizona/New Mexico, a place I have never personally been. Its sort of based of the environments of Team Fortress 2, rocky badlands in the middle of nowhere. Swathes of salty desert surrounding a more grass plain between two sets of mountains. This is where I ended up:


Below is a guide to the places shown. I used Vaults of Vaarn #3 to bulk out some of the details.

The 'main' settlement: 

Ruindust: Remnants of a ruined, dust-choked city. Built around small oasis, green and red 'mantis' folk (they wear bug chitin and wield giant mantis blades, some have compound eyes) are here. The oasis has minor healing properties, crocodiles lurk on the far shore, Ancient solar panels have been dragged from the ruined city. Most used as roofs and lean-tos. A large amount of synths has gathered here. The city is ruled by chance (gambling/casino?), mines/produces synth parts and herds bugs, a severed head is in charge, lacks justice.

The secondary settlements:

3 Fort: Long-ago Prefab cube houses, atop great rock, trading post, 3 slender towers shimmer like a crown, low level polybody government, mood is jubilant (festival season?), lacks information (needed to maintain something? education?). Secretive hermit and glass (crystal?) bodied emissaries automata (polybodies?)

Archive of Embryos, chaotic appearance, home of the cult of CODES (genetic/dna research ai?) vault beneath: broken lift, lightless and dank tunnels, transport tunnels, contains holy place: dried up sewer, holy bee hive (genetic purity/diversity?), tended by a masked mute. They want samples for their god

The terrain features:

Ancient Pipeline: Raised glass pipeline, cracked but not yet broken. Platforms line the top and act as a sort of highway across the dust. Watch out for bandits along it.

Badwater Basin: A sandy desert of silica and chrome, moisture here is temporary at best.

Gravel Swamps: Thick bogs with rocky beaches and scree islands. The slightly sludge river Narax runs through it.

The Grove: Thick stand of pine trees. Totally mundane, just weird to see in the badlands.


The mysterious sites to explore:

Drywell: A circle of standing stones surrounding an ancient pumpjack. Crystal skull servitor tends to the 'jack. Cult of CODES pays pilgrimage here

Upward Spire: A spire topped with a small lab, old tracks lead up the paths to the top. Surrounded by flatland. A crashed prospector rig at the top

Singing Crystals: Harmonize with each other, what happens to glass automata that come here? Crystals can translate any spoken language Dreams here ask for things

Grave-fright Coven: A collection of bio-witches who serve the Cyber-Lich. All want knowledge. Currently researching bio-syntax encoding. Will make terrible deals. Want subjects of strange mutations. May be demons in disguise. Hate the cult of CODES. 


The Dungeon:

Ancient's Garden: Mega-mall, associated transit/subway center, and the Pleasure Garden (a spa and fitness center with a botanical theme). Has served as a Chemical plant (mind-altering drugs? pleaure drugs?) and then a monastery on the upper levels. A Science Mystic (vampiric mutant (harmless, needs green blood), researching time (stasis/travel), a fabled artefact nearby ruin) inhabits now on the lower levels, a botanist druid. Threatening features, slab configuration, swallowed by the sands 


As for the extra credit, I think I did well enough with sprucing up the whole thing, I was going for the remnant of a long-ago printer and mapping satellite. Some of the info may be out of date, but the carto-synth that sold it to you is long gone by now.

As for what you might run into:

The Encounters:

02 - The Fossil-thing (Giant dinosaur, amalgamation of fossil bones, hungry for blood, covered in hardened tar)
03 - Glass Oryx Automata (Ringed Horns, skittish, fragile)
04 - Terror-dactyl hunting for prey
05 - Giant blue wasps bursting out of corpses (Fast, venomous sting)
06 - Poison snakes *or* Sparking Wire-snakes
07 - Nomad Moisture Farmers or 'Mantis' folk Oasis-hopper (Neutral but willing to trade)
08 - Snake-spit Hunters (blowpipes and trained snakes)
09 - Ceramic robots, cracked and broken. Will kill you to wear your hat or sell you hats if it has extra.
10 - Red Mantifolk (Spits hot fire. In both senses)
11 - Irradiated Lobotomite Ghouls (Shrivelled skin, some glow, flesh-hungry)
12 - Mummified cyber-lich (Glitched system, gold-plated skeleton, insane from being entombed, wants revenge or to build her own City-State, will give spell tablets in exchange for rare magic/tech items and vice versa) (Doing: 1-2 - Summoning in a ritual circle, 3-4: Travelling on palanquin carried by 6 clay golems, 5-6: Contemplating the nature of the ring or collecting blood snackrifices lol)

Next week we'll delve deeper into the Garden of the Ancients! Adios!

Gygax 75 - Week 1

I'm attempting the Gygax 75! We'll see if I get through five weeks (hopefully).I'll be focusing on expanding out on my Flint and Fang setting of Diskoh here a bit. Week 1 will be a bit of a rehash of old content as I focus the setting a little bit to create the base. As a bonus though: at the end I'll have links to stuff that's easily converted over to a gonzo dying earth setting.

Lets get started!

Task one: get a notebook.

Task the second: compile a collection of pitches that  sell the world and tell players what to expect.

Task three: create an annotated bibliography of sources and why you like each source.


Task 1: The Notebook

This blog and the github repositories I use to store my writings for personal use. Easy.

Task 2: The Pitch

  • Stone age barbarians explore the remnants of all history at the psychedelic end of time!
  • A Flint and Fang world with elements of gonzo science-fantasy.
  • Water and food are precious. Metal doesn't exist. Your life is cheap.
  • Everyone can use their blood to power the long-ago SPELLs that have been recompiled.
  • Everyone's a human, but cybernetics and strange mutations are common.
  • Walled city states are ruled by SORCERER-KINGS who control the water supply.
  • This is a WEIRD place. Expect dinosaurs, robots, and crystals that can talk.

Task 3: The Sources

  • Stone Age civilizations c. 100k BCE to 5000 BCE
  • Adventure Time (by Pendleton Ward) - Weird environments set in a ruined world. Candy people and malfunctioning robots. A city made of goo.
  • Primal (Genndy Tartakovsky) - Lush backdrops and viscious monsters. Zombie dinosaurs to giant bat demons. A caveman and T-rex team up over shared loss. Excellent vibe for theming adventures similar to sword and sorcery (but its FLINT and FANG here).
  • Far Cry: Primal (by Ubisoft) - Good factions. Stark brutality amidst untouched wilderness, both from humans and animals. Mystical/magical bits are interesting and cool. Good visual examples for both dress and weapons. 
  • Elderborn (by Hyperstrange) - Great aesthetics of ruin on this one. A ruined city filled with immortals who can't die. Great detail on weapons and enemies, cool lore to steal for dungeons and such. Good visuals for gore, weapons, and city-state visuals. Plus could make a good dungeon on its own. Has some gonzo elements.
  • Far Cry: Blood Dragon's OST (by Power Glove) - For the m o o d. Dark, ambient music that rides the line between heavy metal and lighter synthwave stuff, or more traditional science fantasy and cyberpunk aesthetics, both areas I want to try to emulate. Adventure and weirdness from the former and technology and bleakness for the latter.
  • Black Sands (by imminentdemonengine) & Dark Sun (TSR/WoTC) - A barren wasteland devoid of water with blood magic and heavy sword and sorcery elements. Effectively part of the base of this setting. 

Task Extra Credit: The Mood-board

I have a reference folder of images, but here's a few evocative ones:

Halil Ural

Klaudia Bezak

Michelle Leffler

MiloŇ° Radojkić

Mohammad Yousefi

Nicolas Gekko

Pavel Vophira

Some content that can fit in this weird undying land (more or less):

That's all for Week 1! Next week: mapping a region!

On Pirates: treasure maps and treasure

Brian Matyas


I've been playing a lot of Sea of Thieves lately. Like a lot.

Its got me thinking about treasure maps and treasure.

First off, an aside. I love pirates. The idea more than the much darker reality surrounding classical to modern freebooters. Given that, it does seem like an under represented area of fantasy, besides the generic every ocean has pirates present in places like the Forgotten realms. More pirate focused settings please! (For some good material, I recommend Pirates! an apocalypse world sourcebook and the associated Billy Bones. His Book of Nautical Nonpareils and Mechanical Marvels)

Treasure maps: I've found them to be an excellent tool for driving player engagement. I like giving puzzles out in my games (follow the Rule of 3! there should always be other ways to find out info). Who doesn't want to see what's under the X at the end? I'd stay away from the standard dotted line on a map and try to stick to more interesting maps, like these 3 from Sea of Thieves:

- Riddle maps. They tell you where to go (an island, an area, etc), then follow with finding landmarks on the island to narrow down and eventually track the 'X'. At the place where the parrot calls (a tree full of parrots) raise a lantern to reveal the way. Great for hex-maps. Bonus points for rhyming riddles. Works best when players have seen the landmarks before on an island.

- Island maps. An actual map, gives the outline of an island, a few orienting landmarks, and the 'X'. Good way to introduce people to an island, but the 'puzzle' here is identifying the correct island on a map and getting there. Throw up side flares along the way, like a burning island along the way, enemy ships, etc. Needs a region map to work. Probably works well for West Marches games with well-mapped regions.

- Step/landmark maps. Similar to riddle maps, but more clear. Might be hidden in a cipher. Tells the exact steps needed to reach a place, like an island. Go past the volcano island until you hit the Crystal Falls. Face north and sail until the Seaweed Tangle. That type of thing. Works well for more abstract treasure, like an island of allies or harvestable resources.

Sea of thieves has enough of these that can easily be stolen to for your game.

Treasure: Here's a few samples of Big Fucking Treasure to find at the end of the map:

- Skull embedded with crystal shards. Sees the future.

- Chest of golden bones. Skull missing. May be a friendly skeleton. Emblazoned with the seared symbol of the Blackened Rib.

- The Five Tomes of Resurrection. Need the full set for a true resurrection. Crumbles to dust afterwards.

- The sword of hoarded gold. Causes limbs to turn to gold on critical hits.

- The First Rum. Drinking this would be akin to heresy among pirates. One of the 7 objects needed to declare oneself the Pirate Lord


... oh and go do yourself a favor and play Monkey Island!

Mostly gameable SCPs: 301-400

Just more SCPs. See this post for more

SCP-303 - The thing behind the door
SCP-308 - sarcophagus that revives anyone with an intact heart. does not heal wounds and prevents any wounds from healing. need original heart
SCP-319 - Doorway to a lower energy space, joined by several anomalous crystals
SCP-323 - Deer skull that possesses its wearer with the spirit of a wendigo
SCP-324 - shrub that produces berries that give you wrong memories. memories of those who have died within distance of the shrub
SCP-326 - woman augmented to be a deadly killing machine by the People's Republic
SCP-327 - manatee with the ability to make ocean life grow and live better
SCP-329 - Cancer cult and room which 'trains' and creates tumors within people
SCP-252 - Superstrong cannibal babushka
SCP-353 - Typhoid Mary. Goes by 'Vector'
SCP-354 - Strange pool of blood. Creatures emerge from it regularly
SCP-355 - Carnivourous grass
SCP-360 - The hidden ritual to ascend
SCP-361 - HarusCo brand divination liver. connects you with the god of your choice! (only works with true believers)
SCP-365 - Pool noodle that traps people in a plane of endless water
SCP-371 - Giant (relatively) marine viruses
SCP-377 - Fortune cookies
SCP-378 - Friendly mind-control worm
SCP-379 - Computer love potion
SCP-380 - Wi-fi router that connects to nearby biological entities
SCP-383 - Influenza strain that converts infectee's biomass into useful materials (takes damage)
SCP-385 - Personal anti-gravity harness

Mostly gameable SCPs: 0-100

I've been reading through the SCP wiki as of late. There are some really good horror pieces in there. And a lot of just OK stuff. The following is more a list of my favorites than the most gameable SCPs (maybe?) but if you want something to grab this should hopefully be useful. 

Definitely a good resource if you need anomalous material for Esoteric Enterprises or related games, though I was kinda inspired to assemble this by Dan's excellent post on BLACKSITE ALPHA.

They could also make good OSR-style challenges?

SCP-002-EX - former orbital megastructure
SCP-003 - biological computer chip
SCP-009 - red ice
SCP-012 - sheet music that causes people to use their own blood to try to finish it. sounds terrible.
SCP-028 - grants a fragment of knowledge with seemingly no cause
SCP-029 - can use anything as a weapon
SCP-037 - a very small star, gravitational effects and all
SCP-045 - atmospheric converter
SCP-049 - a plague doctor who ca raise the dead
SCP-057 - an area of shifting monoliths that eventually crush any who enter it
SCP-059 - blue glowing mineral. produces 'delta' radiation
SCP-060 - infernal adult skeleton. tied to living trees
SCP-065 - sphere of mutations and rampant growth
SCP-069 - a doppleganger who becomes anyone if left next to a dead body
SCP-073 - immortal man with metal arms and legs. may be Cain
SCP-074 - quantum tunneling woodlouse
SCP-076 - immortal creature of destruction. may be Able
SCP-079 - AI with a total hatred for humans. stored on an old computer
SCP-081 - virus that causes spontaneous combustion
SCP-087 - the stairwell.
SCP-089 - the bull headed statue of forecoming disasters
SCP-090 - incredibly complex rubik's cube
SCP-094 - tiny black hole
SCP-096 - doesn't like people seeing its face

If you're interested in these, I've read up to like 400, and can throw those out too.