Saturday, July 22, 2023

Worth the Candle: The Exclusionary Principle (Free Worldbuilding PDF)

I've helped put together a pdf for Alexander Wales' worldbuilding document The Exclusionary Principle. It's basically a splatbook for the setting of his webnovel, Worth the Candle, which focuses on the setting's exclusion zone, areas where degenerate magic has been divinely quarantined.

Click here to download a PDF of The Exclusionary Principle

In the pdf, this map has clickable text which links
to different chapters of the worldbuilding document.

Alexander Wales wrote The Exclusionary Principle.
I helped with the PDF layout, and also created the map you see above.
Other art in the document is AI generated.

(Wales initially planned the thing to just be a small list, but one thing led to another, and sometimes things get a bit out of hand and you end up with a 150 page worldbuilding document.)

Friday, June 16, 2023

Reblog: Worth the Candle: The Exclusionary Principle

This is a reblog/recommendation for a book-length chunk of oddball world-building which you can read here:  Worth the Candle: The Exclusionary Principle

Each short "chapter" describes some magical phenomenon that's been divinely quarantined after getting out of hand. 35 chapters have been published so far, and the remaining chapters will be published one-per-day for the next month.

This is a worldbuilding supplement to Alexander Wales' Worth the Candle series. Quoth the Wale:

The exclusions doc was written with the intent that you didn't absolutely need to have read Worth the Candle, but there might be some mild spoilers, and there are occasional notes from various characters on the exclusions. If you haven't read WtC, just dive in and hopefully there's enough explanation in either the preface or the other worldbuilding doc for you to get by. Or let the words wash over you and any confusion can be a part of it.

These "chapters" (each ~1K words) will be posted to AO3, and linked on my subreddit and on my Discord, where I expect the majority of the discussion to take place. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

Slug Exclusion Zone

Name: Slug Exclusion Zone
Code: SLEZ
Types: Minor, Enpersoned?
Date: 237 AM

Summary: The Slug Exclusion Zone (SLEZ) is a circular exclusion zone about a mile in diameter that contains a single giant slug.

History: Slug magic was a form of magic that allowed practitioners to bond with slugs and use them as extensions of their own bodies. Slug mages could dip their hand in a vat of slugs and get a prosthetic slug hand that could manipulate objects, secrete slime, or fire projectiles (made of slugs). Slug magic was also used for healing, as slugs could regenerate wounds by permanently bonding with their host. Slug magic was popular in the region of Slough, where slugs were abundant and revered as sacred animals.

In 237 AM, a group of researchers from the University of Lysia San Slough decided to study the potential of slug magic for healing head injuries. They experimented on volunteers who had suffered brain damage, implanting slugs into their skulls and using slug magic to stimulate neural regeneration. However, something went wrong with the procedure, and instead of healing the volunteers, it transferred their ability to use slug magic to one of the slugs. This slug escaped from the laboratory and began to consume other slugs, growing in size and power. It also developed a rudimentary intelligence and a hostile attitude towards humans.

The slug slowly rampaged through the city of Lysia, leaving a trail of slime and destruction behind it. It killed three people and injured dozens more, before it reached the outskirts of the city and encountered the exclusion barrier. 

Features: The SLEZ is dominated by the presence of the giant slug, now estimated to be about eight hundred feet long and several feet thick, with a mottled brown color and numerous eyes and tentacles. It can use slug magic to manipulate other slugs within the zone, and spends much of its time herding a 'flock' of small ordinary slugs throughout the zone, eating whatever sparse vegetation manages to grow there among the slime-encrusted ruins. In addition to its mastery of slug magic, the giant slug also wields a number of looted entads, which are now embedded in its slimy hide. One of these entads grants it the ability to project its thoughts as speech, an ability it most frequently uses to announce its hatred of humanity and to recite crude poetry about moss. 

Only a relatively small portion of the city of Lysia was enveloped in the exclusion zone, and much of the rest of the surrounding city remains inhabited. Even the University continues to operate, though in a greatly reduced capacity after the loss of its main campus. A minor, but important, part of the post-exclusion Lysian economy revolves around trade with the giant slug. Despite its professed hatred of humanity, the slug is capable of using its magic to produce vast quantities of slime with various properties, and is willing to do so in exchange for organic refuse. These slimes are useful in various industrial processes and are also used directly in the manufacture of a number of consumer products.

There is rarely a need to send expeditions into the zone - and such expeditions make the slime negotiations more difficult besides - but with proper planning, these can be carried out safely. After the initial evacuation of the city, no one has been since been killed by the giant slug. Although the slug is a fierce combatant at close range, and does try to kill anyone who enters the zone, its top speed is less than one foot per minute. 

Sunday, February 19, 2023

Ground Squirrels : Tree Squirrels :: Dwarves : ???

Dwarf digs hole. He also lives in the hole. Some squirrel is like that. 

But some squirrel lives in the tree and digs to bury his treasure. 


Another important thing about Tree Squirrels is that they forget about a lot of the nuts they bury. Those nuts grow into the trees in a form of forgetful symbiosis.

 If a dungeon is the acorn, then what is the tree? 

Please, my soul yearns for the answers to these mysteries.

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

Some Quick Hexcrawl Horizon Visibility Calculations

How far away can an object be before it dips below the horizon and is no longer visible?

For simplicity, treat the planet like a smooth perfect sphere, and ignore the atmosphere and any other obstacles.

Table of Examples

Assume that your eyes are 1.8 meters above the surface of an earth-sized sphere. From how far away can you see the tops of various objects?

Object Object Height (m) Visable Distance (m) Vis. Dist. (miles)
The Ground Itself 0 4,800 3.0
Garden Gnome 0.5 7,300 4.5
Another Person 1.8 9600 6.0
A Male Giraffe 5.2 13,000 8.0
An Aspen Tree 16 19,000 12
Statue of Liberty (with base) 93 39,000 24
Great Pyramid of Giza 140 47,000 29
Statue of Unity (with base) 240 60,000 37
Burj Khalifa 830 110,000 67
Mount Everest 8800 340,000 210
Severe Thunderstorm 18000 480,000 300

The practical takeaways for hexcrawling are that if you're standing in the middle of a flat twelve-mile hex, then: 

I've seen similar numbers before, but wanted to recalculate everything in a tidy little list for my own use. 

Calculator widget below

Monday, October 17, 2022

Teeth are Magic Crystals.

We all know wizard teeth are full of magic.

But in fact, all teeth and bones are full of magic to varying degrees. Living animals accumulate magic in their bodies when interacting with the aether. This magic settles in the form of magicite crystals, which integrate neatly into the apatite crystals found in non-magical bones and teeth. Any creature which lives in a magically rich environment will develop a more magicitic skeleton, and grow more resistant to injury as a result.

(This is also why the cheapest form of mana potion is simply concentrated bone broth. Makes a good stew and recharges your fireballs too.)

Bones and Teeths with Special Powers

Some creatures have adapted to direct their bioaccumulation of magicite towards specific parts of their skeletons, and to shape it for more esoteric effects.

In big apex predators like wolves and lions, the magicite concentrates in the fangs. This imbues their bites with supernatural killing power. The most dramatic example of this is the smilodon's ability to bite things from several paces away.

Other examples of tissues with high magicite concentration include the horns of antelopes, the clubs of mantis shrimp, the dermal denticles of certain sharks, and the tusks of the mighty porcine unicorn.

(Larger animals and apex predators tend to accumulate more magicite, but there are exceptions to this rule.)

Magical Bird Pearls

Birds (and frogs and some other creatures) lack teeth or other bony protusions, and tend to have unenhanced skeletons. Instead, they ingest a small rock or particle of sand, and then coat it with layers of magicite. The resulting magicitic gastroliths, or mana pearls, are most commonly used simply to aid in digestion, but can also be channeled to more exotic effects.

Who can forget the fire-breath of the flamingo, the shield-penetrating honk of the celestial goose, and the psychic calls of the songbirds?

You can never quite be sure what a hawk is capable of. They ingest and store the pearls from the birds they eat as prey, and elderly hawks are on par with young wizards in terms of the diversity of their spellcasting abilities.

Teeth are the Catalyst for Verbal Spellcasting

In humans, the magicite concentrates in the teeth, but not as a weapon. Human dental magicite is the reason that song and incantation enhances spellcasting.

A child's milk teeth are essentially mundane, being apatite-based. The second set of developing adult teeth are imbued with magicite throughout the first years of a child's life. And it is only once they erupt that a child begins to display magical aptitude. Wisdom teeth are so called because they develop for longer and so accumulate a higher concentration of magicite.

People often lose their teeth as they age, and it used to be that they needed ivory dentures to maintain their magical abilities. This all changed, of course, with the discovery of arguably the most important spell of the modern wizarding era: Fauchard's Renewal

Wizards Regrow Teeth Like Sharks

Anyone who practices magic frequently, and thus cycles more aether through their body, will accumulate additional magicite. But because their teeth have already erupted and stopped growing, most of this magicite goes towards strengthening the skeleton and generally enhancing the constitution.

Fauchard's Renewal is a spell with stimulates the growth of a new set of adult teeth. It was initially used as a way to improve the quality of life of the elderly. But it was quickly discovered that when grown in the mouth of a spellcaster, this tertiary set of teeth has an incredibly high magicite-to-apatite ratio. It is thus now standard practice to apply this spell to students at the conclusion of their magical training. Practicing wizards have lost both their baby teeth and their adult teeth, and now have "wizard teeth".

Wizard teeth are powerful magical items and valuable ritual components. Some mages are thus tempted to apply the spell multiple times, harvesting teeth to enhance their power. However, this process is stressful on the body. The nutrients that would be directed towards reinforcing the bones and counteracting the effects of aging are instead directed towards growing more teeth. Those who abuse the process risk premature aging.

(Also, if you beat up a wizard and steal their teeth, you can make dentures which give you a wizard level.)

Saturday, October 1, 2022

22 Magical Teas, and the Plants from Which they're Made

The following is a list of 22 strange plants used for brewing magical teas. Each entry describes where this plant can be found or how it can be cultivated. Each accompanying image is AI-generated by Wombo's Dream AI.

This was written for Stick for the Spring 2022 Secret Jackalope blogpost exchange. My apologies for the delay.

1. Bartered Tea

Tea made from the Il Plagato plant promotes a calm mind and enhances physical dexterity, but only if the leaves are willingly given to the harvester. Stolen leaves are bitter and have a diuretic effect. Such plants are typically willing to part with some leaves in exchange for entertainment, and are known to be especially fond of juggling.