Monday, November 29, 2021

A Metric System for Faerun

In many tabletop roleplaying games, the round of 6 seconds, and the space or square of 5 feet serve as basic units of measurement for game mechanics. Just for fun, let’s try to actually construct a system of measurements using these as our base units for time and distance.

The self-imposed rules of the exercise are as follows:

  • Derived units are expressed simply in terms of base units. (Coherence)
  • Larger or smaller units use a consistent exponential power (Though I’m not sticking to decimal).
  • And if possible, the resulting system should feel psuedo-medieval, be intuitive to a 21st century American, and be useful for rules of thumb in a tabletop rpg.

Tuesday, August 24, 2021

321 Hero* Dice: A post about unusual dice anatomy.

This post briefly mentions HeroQuest. As such, we must begin by viewing the sacred liturgy. Once this is done, you may return for the rest of this blogpost.

The structure of the dice:

Several games use six-sided dice with the following properties:
  • 3 of the faces share the same symbol, usually indicating a successful 'attack' result.
  • 2 of the other faces share a second symbol, usually indicating a successful 'defense' result.
  • The final singular face has its own distinct marking.
An example of what these dice look like. Photo credit to Eric on BGG.

What follows are some examples, and my thoughts about adapting these dice for RPGs.

Tuesday, August 17, 2021

d6x6 City Names, Poorly and Literally Translated

In what follows,  I've taken the names of places, translated them into English, and when the namesake itself was a name, I've gone and translated that too. 

Don't take this too seriously. I haven't worked too hard to verify the translations or etymologies. In some cases where it sounded interesting, I went with suspect folk etymologies. 

Cities in the Fishhook Language Ball:

1. The Most Populous Cities in the Southern Lands:

  1. Wide Watermeadow
  2. Mill Stream
  3. Broken Bone
  4. Wood
  5. Noble Sort
  6. Gold Coast

2. The Most Populous Cities in the United States of Laborious Rule:

  1. New Pig Farm
  2. City of The Angels
  3. Garlic
  4. Town of the Mind Clan
  5. Phoenix
  6. City of Brotherly Love

Friday, August 13, 2021

12 Mile Hexmaps overlayed onto the Contigous United States

 Hey, there. I put a 12-mile hex grid onto North America. The projection is Lambert Conformal, so there's minimal distortion, at least within the US.

Rivers, train-lines, and urban areas are included, but there are no labels.

So, if you happen to want an unlabelled 12-mile hex map of North America with rivers, train-lines, and urban areas, then this is the blogpost for you.

click for slightly lightly bigger version.

And click here for a very very big version of this map which includes more of Mexico.

More maps below.

Monday, August 2, 2021

d6x6 Elemental Powers: Wood

 Inspired by this post by Red_Kangaroo.

All xylomancers are resistant to poison and illness.

1. Wood magic is about strength.

  1. Wood in your sight can't be bent or broken.
  2. Augment your strength with vines coiled around your limbs.
  3. Form self-repairing wooden plate armour around your body.
  4. Reactively form a protective wooden dome around yourself when attacked.
  5. Lift and swing massive logs and poles as if they weighed no more than a twig.
  6. Bring to life mannequins and totems which you carve from wood. They'll follow your commands, but are only capable of brute force, and not fine manipulation.

2. Wood magic is about endurance.

  1. Your skin is faintly green. Time spent in the sun makes you rapidly heal.
  2. Become tougher and more immovable the longer your feet are firmly planted on the same piece of ground.
  3. Tap a contiguous piece of wood to render it immovable and inviolable. The effect lasts until you apply it to a different piece of wood.
  4. Repair wounds - yours or another's - with wooden prostheses that work as well as flesh.
  5. Go without food or water or rest, and ignore severe injuries, as long as you remain in contact with living plant matter
  6. Care for a specific plant. If that plant grows ill, so will you. But as long as that plant flourishes, you cannot be killed.

3. Wood magic is about growth.

  1. Sing to plants to make them grow at visible speed.
  2. Snap your fingers to make a sapling instantly, explosively, destructively grow into a full-size tree.
  3. Dense and diverse vegetation sprouts in your footsteps. You have limited control over the kind of plants that grow.
  4. Grow to many times your normal height, with strength scaling more than proportionately. The extra mass sloughs of as leaf litter when you sleep.
  5. Cause dense roots to burst from the ground and ensnare a target, growing around them. Needs existing roots as a starting point.
  6. Extend and retract your limbs like Inspector Gadget. The extra length can take the form of either vines or hardwood.

4. Wood magic is about weird plant-themed whatsits.

  1. Emit soporific spores from flowers blooming from your skin.
  2. Organic material rapids decays under your touch.
  3. Implant a parasitic sprout into someone's body to parasitically siphon away their lifeforce.
  4. Absorb light energy into your skin and concentrate it without bound. Re-release all the light at once.
  5. Rapidly grow parachutes of cottony fibers.
  6. Exude sticky sap in place of sweat.

5. Wood Magic is about being in tune with nature.

  1. Step into a tree-trunk, and step out from any trunk connected to the same wood web.
  2. Meditate in a grove to gain tactile awareness of all the creatures therein.
  3. Speak to trees. Learn the strange things they've seen and heard.
  4. Plants and undergrowth don't hinder your passage. They bend out of your way while reaching to trip those who pursue you.
  5. Trees grow and slowly twist into shapes convenient for you. Chairs, spears, houses, etc.
  6. In exchange for tender care, Trees will relocate at your command. You need to shout; they're hard of hearing.

6. Wood Magic is about hurting people... with wood.

  1. Shoot seeds as projectiles from out of your palms.
  2. Cause impaling thorns to burst from nearby wood.
  3. Summon and swing whip-like vines.
  4. Staffs and polearms can grow and shrink in your hands.
  5. Summon razor-sharp and impossibly rigid leaf blades. 
  6. Stab a stake into something to destroy it utterly. 

Here is some visual inspiration: 1, 2.

Bonus: 6 more elemental powers to combine with Kangaroo's lists to make a nice round 200:

  1. The element of Storm: Call down a lightning bolt directly on your location.
  2. The element of Glass: Glass shards cannot cut you, and in your hands they can cut through anything.
  3. The element of Osmium: You can telekinetically move osmium with your mind. It's quite strong, and has impressive range, but only works on highly purified osmium (which happens to be the rarest of the precious metals).
  4. The element of Friendship: You can fire concussive beams of force from your palms that, in addition to knocking people off their feet and breaking their bones, also overwhelms them with an intense longing for companionship.
  5. The element of Flesh: Sprout nasty flailing tentacles.
  6. The element of Surprise: It's a gun. The surprise is that you can somehow own a working firearm in a magical psuedomedieval fantasy world.

Wednesday, July 28, 2021

Micropost: Pantheon of the Eternal Industrial Era.

Vatra - The Primordial Mother Fire. Embodied in the Sun (Her fire above) and Coal (Her fire below).  Consumed the previous world and from its ashes were born the gods.

Qiri - The Daughter Fire. Goddess of the Moon, gas, oil, lamps, chemistry, and noxious gasses.

Avull - Goddess of steam, waterfalls, storms, engines, beasts of burden, passion, and blood.

Hekuri - God of iron, foundries, bellows, mining, cement, stone, and the rail.

Turma - Goddess of agriculture, abundance, forestry, crowds, crowding, and plague.

Udhetar - God of canals, calm seas, trade, travel, deserts, desire, and desperation.

Fabrika - Goddess of management, textiles, wisdom, planning, and mass production.

Zare - God of gold, entrepreneurship, investment, prophecy, games and greed.

Shoku - Goddess of community, conformity, communication, the telegraph, lightning, roads, and repair.

Genje - God of paper, printing, knowledge, literacy, eloquence, entertainment, diplomacy and deception.

Martesa - Goddess of boundaries, borders, property, contracts, marriage, and oaths.

Ushtar- God of lead, law, order, rage, war, and gunpowder. Punisher of broken promises.

Kupon - God of the wilds. Merchandising. 

Inspired by this prompt from Discord user DefinitelyNotAnEggHahaha:

In many fantasy worlds, the gods create the world in a sort of medieval stasis. Humans, dwarves, etc, have medieval-level tech handed to them from day one, and the gods that exist in these worlds also often reflect that technology level (god of the harvest, god of the forge, etc). That is to say, these gods would make no sense in a world where everyone is a hunter-gatherer.

So, with that established, worldbuilding idea: A world created in a sort of industrial era stasis. Have gods of oil rigs, and railroads, and such

A sort of dirty steampunk kind of vibe, where tech never actually progresses because of the influence of these gods

PS: Kupon is literally just the Greek god Pan in a top hat and ill-fitting three-piece suit. 

Friday, July 23, 2021

Astropost: Astronomical Objects, Their Symbols, and Their Namesakes

I want to play a game set in a mythologized version of the Solar System. So I took some notes on the bits and bobs floating about.

Click to open in a new tab.

 The following is an incomplete list of objects in the Solar System, along with their namesakes and symbols.

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Fragmentary Powers v2.0 - A Tarot Deck Generator for Janky Superpowers

Use this to generate confusing and bizarrely conditional supernatural powers.

This is an expanded version of the previous post, tweaked to be used with a deck of cards.

Potential use cases:
  • Janky superhero one shots.
  • Store brand JoJo stands.
  • Clearance-sale magic items.
  • Use these powers in place of GLOG templates? Bad idea? Best idea?

To manually generate powers, draw three cards from a tarot deck, and consult the tables below. The first card determines the Triggering condition, the second determines how the power manifests, and the third determines what element the power applies to. If you're using a poker deck, then simply ignore the trump suit and Cavalier cards, and map the red and black jokers to the Fool and the Magician.

Here's a pdf version of the tables below.

Sunday, June 13, 2021

Fragmentary Superpowers - Two experiments with randomly generating jank.

I need some janky superpowers. Here are a couple of little experiments to randomly generate such things.

The first combines an activation condition with a power and an element:

The second just picks a few options from a list of 'partial' superpowers. Fire summoners are immune to fire. Super strongos have the unbreakable bones needed to support their strength. What if those required secondary powers were just doled out at random instead of being properly matched?

Here are a few doodles of janky superheroes for inspiration. The tables used in the above generators are down below.

Original Premium - While chanting, saltine crackers randomly appear nearby

Thick Liz - Immune to disease, doesn't need to breathe, can talk to fish (they don't listen)

Capn' Flappy - Changes direction of local gravity, redundant wings

Sunday, June 6, 2021

Wizards in Rayon Stockings: Some worldbuilding notes on plastics.

How reasonable is it is include plastics in a psuedo-medieval fantasy world without fossil fuels? 
A better title might be "Alchemists in Rayon", because of course you can just wave your witchofingers and summon tupperware from the realms of chaos. But even restricting ourselves to low-magic fantasy, for many plastics, it's totally reasonable to throw them in. They'll probably just be rarer and considered high-quality objects instead of throwaway trash.

Clearly, the question on everyone's mind when they see this compilation of public domain witches is
"Where did they get those sweet leggings?"

Skip to the end if you just want a bulleted list of which plastics I thinks a witch might be able to brew in a cauldron. But otherwise, come with me on this scatterbrained journey into the world of organic chemistry.


Saturday, May 22, 2021

10 bandit gangs which ambush you along the road.

1. Avery's Autarkic Army

 As you walk through down the road, dozens of identically clad bandits step out of the shrubbery. They're all brandishing similar swords in similar poses. One of these is Avery, the lone bandit. The rest are magical puppets mirroring Avery's moves.

2. Brutus and Billy, the Brute Brothers

A couple of beefy blokes relax out in the open next to the road, big cudgels in their hands. If your group looks weak, they'll step into the middle of your path, and demand that you hand over your valuables. If you look tough, they'll smile and wave as you go past.


3. A Cloudy Encounter

There are rumors of strange thefts on the road between Castletown and Cabletopia. Some evenings, a strange thick fog rolls in, acompanied by the clanking of bells. Then three silhouettes and 6 glowing eyes are seen charging forth from the darkness. The burly silhouettes shoulder past travelers, knocking them aside. After the fog clears, these unlucky travelers  find that they're missing their satchel or waterskin or somehow their shoes.


4. Denny (and his devilishly deceptive traps)

The cobbled road in front of you suddenly gives way to a short section made of regular red bricks. A crude amateurishly-carved statue has been recently installed along the road-side, with a wooden chest at its feet. From here, you can just barely see a set of cables running out of the back of the chest and into a hole in the statue.

 Ah, the local shire-reeve warned you about this. And sure enough, when you look around, you see a man in wizard's robes off in the distance, poorly concealed behind a small boulder and accompanied by several bored-looking mercenaries.

The man in the robes is Denny, a former wizard's apprentice with a concerningly pulsating growth on the side of his head. The growth whispers to him in dreams, gifting him grand visions of elaborate traps. Even when his devices manage to catch a traveler unaware, he rarely walks away with a haul worth more than the cost of their construction, so it's a bit of a mystery how he's managed to operate for so long.


Tuesday, May 11, 2021

d6x6 Sources of Magic.

What is magic anyways? Where does it come from? What is it all about?


1... Magic comes from nature.

  1. It just comes out of big holes in the ground.
  2. Dragons radiate it. Mana is dragon waste. Some creatures have evolved to collect this waste and reuse it to open doors or clean their clothes.
  3. Lightning supercharges matter with mana.
  4. People learned magic by studying the abilities of the ancient titans which roam the land. Pyromancy was learned from the father of dragons. Divination is a gift from the Moonwatcher. Necromancy comes from the Corpse Ball over in Glasmont.
  5. Only animals have access to magic powers. In order to cast a fireball, you need a pet fire toad.
  6. Gold. Gold is where magic comes from.

 2... Magic comes from the divine.

  1. There are multiple competing gods, who disagree about the laws of physics and try to change things when they think the other gods aren't looking.
  2. Gods are playing hyperchess with people as the pieces. Magic is given to the important players.
  3. God just really likes certain sounds and gestures. Spells are divine applause.
  4. Spells are what happens when spirits show up in the physical world. Ghosts, demons, spells--all the same.
  5. The universe is a dream, and if you think in ways similarly to the dreamer, you can exercise some control over the dream.
  6. Magic is the divine. Not a manifestation of the will of the gods, but the actual physical form of the gods.

 3... Magic is metaphysical in nature.

  1. Magic is what happens when parallel universes slam into each other. You get magic by stealing power from your alternate-universe selves.
  2. The universe is actively anti-inductive. A previous civilization figured out the laws of physics, which made the laws of physics change to become weirder.
  3. The cosmos used to be chaos, filled with the unlimited force of creation. From this chaos, many universes were born. Ones in which the force of creation was limited tended to be more stable. But entirely constrained universes can't use the force of creation to create new universes. So there is a selective advantage for worlds just unstable enough to support the creation of child demiplanes. The anthropic principle does the rest.
  4. Magic is just the leftover scraps of physics that haven't been banned. At the start of time, magic was limitless and birthed the universe. Any time magic becomes degenerate enough to cause an extinction event, it becomes more limited. Eventually, only the magic of magical exclusion itself will remain.
  5. Chunks of another reality fell through the holes in the sky (the stars) and warp the world around them. Mages carry around little slivers of these other worlds and throw them at people.
  6. The laws of physics are a government cover-up. Anyone can do magic if they stop eating the fluoridated ham.

4... Magic comes from the self.

  1. Magic comes from meditation and attunement with the universe.
  2. Magic comes from the power of emotion! Specifically, an emotion that most people can't feel anymore. Ancient sages trapped the emotion in a bottle and distilled it into a more concentrated form.
  3. Magic comes from Fighting Spirit! Scream loudly and passionately! Wizards train to scream in the most passionate manner.
  4. Blood is liquid magic. More blood = more wizard powers. The gods have severe hypertension.
  5. Magic occurs when your soul leaves your body to go do other stuff. Counterspells are dark magic that directly erases the soul.
  6. Mana is the byproduct of normal metabolic processes. Plants transform stale air, water, and light into fresh air, sugar, and magic. Wizards transform fresh air, sugar, and magic into stale air, water, and bad decisions.

5... Magic comes from technology.

  1. The universe is a simulation. Magic is just a hacked together solution to some universe-crashing bug, and will be removed in a future update.
  2. Spells are just technology from a long-dead civilization.
  3. The universe is a simulation. Due to a security flaw, you can send commands to some subroutines you weren't supposed to be able to access.
  4. Inter-dimensional aliens are doing science. Spells are experimental tech, and the aliens are having expendable lower-life forms run the safety tests.
  5. Listen. There was this talking bird who crashed into a psychic ocean monster, but he was so good at video games that he was able to take over the monsters brain and then used his new psychic powers to transform himself into a spaceship and fly around the stars but then he got into a fight with a big robot crab and the robot crab pushed him into a black hole but instead of getting squished he became omnipotent. So anyways when magic happens, it's the bird guy.
  6. Nanomachines, son!

6... You are mistaken about magic.

  1. Magic is a hoax. Doesn't actually exist. It's all just mirrors and bits of twine.
  2. That's not magic. It's just a very elaborate form of camouflage for insects.
  3. It's all a coincidence. Particles can, with very low probability, spontaneously rearrange due to quantum tomfoolery. You just happen to live in one of the vanishingly rare Everett branches where magic coincidentally seems to work. Chants and finger-wiggles correlate with the spontaneous appearance of fireballs. There's no reason for it to continue working tomorrow, though.
  4. That's not magic. It's a tumor.
  5. Magic is just an allergic reaction to certain foods.
  6. The real magic was the friends we made along the way.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Color-coding Monsters by Genre

I've been making a lot of wood-block minis, lately, and need a good color-coding system.

Here's what I've settled on:

Artificial, Bestial, Chimerical, Dungeonesque,
Ethereal, Fay, Grubby, Haunting,
Inflamed, Moist

Each category is associated with a basic color term. I tried to make the split be along aesthetic and thematic lines, so that the color-coding of a monster indicates something about the style of game encounter it leads to, as opposed to indicating something about the monster's appearance or physiology.

For example: Werewolves are fully alive, but in terms of thematic associations, interactions, and weaknesses, they're very similar to vampires. (As recognized by pretty much every piece of 21st century pop culture.) So Instead of having a category for "undead", I have "Haunting monsters", which draws a big circle around that whole chunk of slightly tragic halloweeny horrors.


Creatures of artifice. Robots, golems, and alchemical oozes. 

Thematic Commonalities:

  • Rigid programming gone awry. (Golem guards preventing people from stealing, but doing nothing to retrieve stolen items. Oozes mindlessly cleaning all 'filth', including living creatures.)
  • Unhealthy relationships between creation and creator.
  • Unique specimens trying to make more of their kind (with potentially apocalyptic consequences if they succeed)
  • The dangers of hubris.

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • Very durable.
  • Aversion to water or fire. (Sinks or short-circuits; overheats or explodes)


  • Extremely inedible.
  • You can eat these things, but they will really do a number on your digestion.
  • 0/5. Would not recommend steel nachos dipped in alchemical cheeze.




Big animals, ogres, any any critter that's down for a good wrassle. Things that you'd hunt or which would hunt you.

Thematic Commonalities:

  • Hunting, being hunted. 
  • Uncomplicated Nature, red in tooth and claw.
  • Straightforward fights. Brutal but necessary actions.
  • Overcoming adversity, making new friends (bestial creatures are the most likely to be tamable as pets.)

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • No fancy tricks. Just brute force and animal cunning.
  • Will attack if they have the advantage, and retreat if they don't (unless enraged).
  • Wary of loud noises and fire (but only because they don't understand it.)
  • Trying to exploit some other sort of clever weakness (like smelling salts or holy water) is more  likely to drive such a creature into a murderous rage than it is to actually scare them off.


  • Yes, very edible.
  • Delicious too.
  • Just be warned that the feeling is mutual.


Whimsical creatures of folklore, especially those composed of two real beasts stapled together. Cryptids, centaurs, fearsome critters, and the like. I'm including flying-saucer style aliens here too.

Thematic Commonalities:

  •  Solitary and elusive creatures, often the only one of their kind.
  • Tall-tales. Chasing rumors. Piecing together clues. Monsters as mysteries.
  • Fairytale-style allegories. Storybook logic.
  • The wonder of the unknown.

Mechanical Commonalities:

  • Flashy magical abilities.
  • Some exploitable eccentricity. Easy to trick, if you did your research.
  • If all else fails, it will probably help to play soothing music.


Tuesday, April 27, 2021

10x10 Table of Monster Names, Presented Without Comment

Artificial Bestial Chimeric Dungeonesque Ethereal Fay Grubby Haunting Inflamed Moist
Artificial Robot Manbeast Owlbear Shoggoth Modron Candy Critter Fake Egg Zombie Tarbeast Submarine
Bestial Stichthing Bear Snallygaster Orcgre Eternal Bird Ball of Fur Big Rat Lycanthrope Rakshasha Shark
Chimeric Gargoyle Bigfoot Panther Cerberus Ziz Reptilian Basilisk Pumpkinking Firefox Kraken
Dungeonesque Ooze Dino Gorgon Eyebeast Throne Gnome Spider Shadow Cherufe Urchin
Ethereal Meme Bird of Prey Pegacorn Starspawn Wingaling Fairy Bat Ghost Djinn Flying Fish
Fay Clone Turtle Queen Dryad Mimic Sylph Li'l Elf Ball of Teeth Vampire Will o Wisp Jelly
Grubby Golem Beastman Cyclops Sewercrawler Locus Goblin Wormlord Mummy Firebug Eel
Haunting Frankenstoid Wolfpack Mothman False Hydra Guardian Angel Bogeyman Lemur Skeleton Hellhound Angler
Inflamed Steam Punk Rampager Drake Plaguehurler Phoenix Imp Compostling Devil Flamespren Fishstick
Moist Snowman Leviathan Merfolk Deep One Nimbus Lake Lady Serpent Swampheap Salamander Trout

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Making Scrabble Tiles Into Cheap RPG "Minis"

Here's how to make cheap DIY wooden standee miniatures for 10 cents each.
Snail wizard modified from Twitter Emoji; Modron modified from AD&D Monster Manual II; plastic minis from Battlelore 2e.


  1. Get some Scrabble-style letter tiles.
    • Here's an example search query on Amazon, but you can find similar tiles pretty much anywhere for around 0.04 USD per tile.
    • For a bit of extra money, you can buy them pre-painted in a variety of colors. I bought the pink ones up above to make a gift for a family member, and had a bunch left over.
  2. Glue pairs of tiles face to face to make a thicker wooden block.
    • (A single Scrabble tile can be balanced on it's end, but it's not very stable.)
    • A simple pva gluestick will do the trick. The resulting bond holds up to normal handling, but can be twisted apart. 
    • A stronger bond can be made by scoring the surfaces and using a bit of wood glue, but I personally don't think it's worth the extra effort and mess.
  3. Optionally: give them a couple quick coats of acrylic color. 
  4. Print out some little images of critters.
    • To avoid peeling, make the images slightly smaller than the size of the tiles. 
      • For example, the scrabble tiles I bought are about 18x20mm, so I should have printed the images at about 17x19mm.
    • I print two images per block. One for the front, and a mirror-image for the back.
    • Make or select images with sharp lines and bold colors. Texture and fine detail gets washed out at this scale.
    • I used GIMP to crop my images and Inkscape to scale and arrange them for printing. These are both free software.
      • In Inkscape, you can change the default display units to mm under File > Document Properties.
      • In this same menu, make sure the correct page size is selected. A4 is the default.
      • Leave a bit of space around the edges of the page for printing margins.
      • Once all your images are arranged, export the file as a pdf by choosing File > Save a Copy, and changing the file type to pdf. 
      • Print this pdf at 100% size. Don't shrink to fit it on the page.
    • Color printing services usually cost less than 1 USD per page; my local library charges 0.50 USD per page. You can easily fit 50 blocks worth of images onto a page, making the printing costs no more than 0.02 USD per block.
  5. Cut out and glue the images onto the blocks.

Now you  have some nice little game pieces . They're not as fancy looking as molded plastic minis, but the advantages are:

  • They're significantly cheaper, and easier to replace.
  • They are much more durable than painted minis or paper standees. You can just throw a handful of these in a box or bag without concern.
  • They stack nicely for compact storage.
  • They're pleasant and easy to handle.

Formatted Example Downloads:

Here are some downloads for the doodles I made:

Wednesday, April 14, 2021

Wandering Titans, part III - Making Things Personal

 Part 1, Part 2

Here's another batch of titans as weather. See part 1 for explanation. The unifying factor with this batch is that these titans interact more directly with people. The first stretches the concept of "weather" a bit.

The Hard-hearted King of Dragons

Logan Feliciano
The artist's description is also pretty good RPG brainfuel.

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)

: Just the dragon's sharp silhouette seen occasionally in the sky.

Environmental Effect 
:  Blades and claws become sharper. Stone becomes unchippable. Bones become unbreakable. Metal becomes impossible to bend.  +1d6 damage when attacking a target without hard armor, like plate or shell. Bouts of dart-like hail impale the ground.

:  Gargantuan dragon with impenetrable scales. Wings held wide, blocking out the sun.

Behavior / Desires
: The King of Dragons hoards peace and stability. In a conflict between two states, it will rush to decimate the attacking armies. It will use its breath to turn revolters into glass. And there is nothing it finds more beautiful than a tyrant on their throne. 

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby
  • Sharp nailed dragon cultists on ineffable missions of political espionage.
  • Piles of wicked stones, once merely gravel, now made impassibly dangerous by the Dragon King's presence.
  • Woodland creatures impaled on supernaturally sharp brambles and branches.
  • Beehives and waspnests grown to unreasonable size, their stingers empowered, and their queens driven mad with a lust for expansion.

Radiant Fowl

"The Dragon Prince" background by Michael MacRaebut I doodled a little bird on top. 

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Light on the horizon. Most noticeable during the night.

Environmental Effect 
:   Brightness that rivals the sun's. Lights up the night like the day (including effects like vampire ensmoldering). Somehow penetrates indoors and into caverns. Don't need light sources, stealth is impossible.

:  A giant glowing phoenix, wispy tail trailing off towards the horizon. Or maybe its more of a glowing rooster. The details are hard to nail down because you can't really look directly at the thing.

Behavior / Desires
: Witness it! Witness its luminous glory! This titan wants to be seen, appreciated, and maybe even worshiped. It tends to gravitate towards areas with large populations of people or polished surfaces, where it perches and preens.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fluffy, arm-length, radiant feathers fallen on the ground. They glow so brightly it hurts to look at them. A single small barb casts light like a torch. Frequently leads to deadly conflict between rival feather-hunters.
  • Cold-blooded monsters, standing still, eyes closed, basking in the ever-present glow.
  • Travelling titan researchers bedecked in reflective protective suits. Despite its proclivity for precariously perching on buildings and blinding pedestrians, it's overall the safest titan to observe and study.
  • Nomadic lycanthropes following the titan to avoid transformation, driven only a wee bit mad by lack of sleep.
  • Basements and dungeons choked with new sprouted vegetation.

Desiccant Prowler

Nutchapol Thitinunthakorn

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: No clouds in the sky. No rain.

Environmental Effect 
:  Rivers and lakes dry up, soil turns to dust, plants wither. Deplete an extra water ration each day. Persistent magical effects falter.

:  A dusty striped pantherine thing, surrounded by a thin choking haze

Behavior / Desires
: Lazily tears apart magical protections, sabotages water reserves. It doesn't kill things directly, but its mere presence is hazardous, and it likes to watch things die. Stares down at entire villages or herds as the life drains out of them, and them laps up their souls like a cat drinking milk.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Fanatical dust elementals and living stone statues, helping wage war on water-based life-forms. The titan is ignorant of their devotion.
  • Arcanohazard disposal teams dragging wagonloads of janky cursed items and failed enchantments into the titan's zone of influence, hoping the beast will rip them apart for fun.
  • The desiccated corpses sometimes begin to crawl around and gnaw. Don't let them get their teeth into you, or they'll steal your blood and soul. Outside of the titan's hex, they crumble into ash, which can be sold to wizards for its magic-suppressing and water-absorbent properties.

Kekai Kotaki

Additional Titans: Part 1Part 2Part 4

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Wandering Titans, part II - Fast and Slow

Giant monsters that are also weather phenomena.

The basic mechanism I suggested in the previous post is to roll 2d6 each day, and move the titan to a neighboring hex when doubles are rolled. Here's a pair of titans brainstormed while thinking about twists to those rules.

Stampeding Winds

Keep track of the direction the titan last moved. Each day, roll 2d6, and use the sum to decide whether this titan continues in that direction (6,7,8) turns left or right (3,4,5;9,10,11), abruptly reverses direction (2) or stalls in place (12).

Donato Giancola

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Swirling clouds, moving at a visible pace, forming and dissolving in the blink of an eye. Distant sounds of roaring winds and hooves.

Environmental Effect 
:  Hurricane-force winds topple structures and knock you to the ground. But if travelling downwind, you'll find yourself magically invigorated and full of energy.  Travelling through the hex in the same direction as the winds provides the same benefits as a long rest. Travelling through any other direction is difficult and hazardous. Exiting the hex in the upwind direction is impossible. 

: A herd of charging ethereal stallions precipitating from the air. Clouds run through the sky, and smaller instantiations charge along the ground. Windward, the air speeds up, forming into visible near-tangible wind-creatures, and then slowly dissipate as they approach the leeward edge of the hex.

Behavior / Desires
: Wants to run. Wants to be free. Wants mortal creatures to charge alongside it without end.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • The smaller manifestations of the Stampede can be captured and used as a magical power source. Poacher-wizards try to do this with elaborate steel wind-traps. But it's dangerous work, as the winds speed up to impossible levels to batter down walls wherever a member of the herd gets trapped.
  • Wind-dependent ecosystems of whirlibirds, tumbletrees, and lumbering strandbeests.
  • Homes or even entire castles tumbling through the air.
  • An encounter with an instance of the Stampeding Winds. If it likes you, there's a chance it will bless you with tailwinds for the rest of the day. Party travels twice as fast until the next time they sleep.
  • Travelers hitching a ride on the winds
    1. Two blokes calmly rowing along in an airborne canoe.
    2. A gang of witches racing along on suped-up broomsticks.
    3. A village of people, rapidly evacuated, carrying as many possessions as they could grab from their now-destroyed homes.
    4. Bandits in a balloon with long hooks and nets, snatching up possessions that people left behind.
    5. 140-years-old woman, hunched over with age, slowly walking with the wind. Hasn't stopped or slept for the past 50 years. Barely kept alive by the sustaining force of the titanic winds.
    6. A whale which beached itself and just kept going.

The Ponderous Ox

This one's simpler. Roll 3d6 each day and move the titan when you roll triples.
While the party is awake within the titan's hex, don't advance the time of day, and don't roll for its movement.

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds frozen in midair. Things sound slightly more quiet than they should.

Environmental Effect 
:  Silence. Stillness. Fires stop crackling and flickering, but still give out steady heat and light. Rivers freeze in place while remaining fluid. A diffuse mist fills the air. The sun and moon appear frozen in the sky. Your heart aches with nostalgia for things you've never seen. Loosed arrows slow to a stop and hover in midair.  Rest and rations are optional when near this titan. Cannot gain XP while in this hex. As you travel away from it, time suddenly returns to normal as if you never approached the titan to begin with.

: A massive buffalo, with fur like boulders and horns like mountains.  Always faintly visible, far off in the distance, behind the next hill, shaded by the mists. You can always approach the titan, but can never reach it. 

Behavior / Desires
: No one has ever seen it move, or do much of anything at all but slowly breathe titanic breathes. (But surely it must move, for how else can it travel from hex to hex?)

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Void monk meditating on a hilltop. No, they haven't been following the titan. They've been here in this spot as long as they can remember. The titan hasn't moved in all that time, they say. 
  • Small towns that don't exist, fiercely aggressive towards outsiders.
  • Strange pillars, can be hacked apart (may trigger localized earthquakes) and sold to wizards to make immovable rods.
  • Empty cabins, with a warm hearth and hot soup inside. If you sleep in the soft beds inside, you'll wake up on cold ground outside, weeks later, the titan having moved on.
  • Incomprehensible alien geometries slipping through the gaps between moments in time. Probably nothing to worry about.

Additional Titans: Part 1, Part 3Part 4

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Wandering Titans (Monster as a Hex/Weather)

I trust you see where I am going with this.


In addition to the normal features of a hex, the presence of one of these Titans adds some sort of environmental effect and additional things to encounter to the hex it's in. 

The Titan should move about the map, but not nearly as quickly as PCs. It's a mountainous lumbering beast. Untested suggestion: Number the 6 hex directions. Once per day, roll 2d6, move the titan in that direction if you roll doubles.

Combat stats aren't given to the Titans for the same reason that combat stats aren't given to a hurricane. 

Some Example Beasties

Flood Serpent

Flood by Sandara

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Towering Rainclouds. Clouds being unnaturally pulled in.

Environmental Effect 
:  Torrential downpours. Banks overflowing. Ankle-deep water even where you might not expect. Poor visibility. Need sheltered high ground to rest.

: A raging river, rising into the air, and then flowing wherever it pleases.

Behavior / Desires
: Capricious. Sometimes languidly arcs through the sky. Sometimes rapidly tears apart towns with sadistic glee.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Bountiful fauna. Animals flee the floods, but mysteriously more than could possibly live in these areas.
  • Strange fauna. Creatures subtly wrong in form. Alien mutations. When killed, their bones perpetually leak water.
  • Landlocked Pirates. Special boats that allow them to sail along in the wake of the serpent's storms, pillaging evacuated villages. 
  • Her sociable children. In calmer waters within the serpent's hex, you can find strange smaller serpents assigning quests and  promising various wet boons. Personally, I wouldn't trust the things. But if you think stealing a dozen cats in exchange for a sword that gives the wielder extra blood sounds like a good time, that's your prerogative. 
Lucas Roussel


Penumbral Hound

by Muroid

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Dimmed sky. Sun sets early if the titan is to the west, and rises late if the titan is to the east.

Environmental Effect 
:  Darkness. Like night during the day. The sun and moon appear constantly eclipsed. Light from large fires just doesn't seem to carry as far. Need held light sources to navigate. 

: The stars blacked out by an indistinct silhouette. Two bright eyes like rival moons. An occasional glint of giant teeth.

Behavior / Desires
: Slowly and carefully plod across the forest. It wants to be left alone. It wants to contemplate the stars. It wants to sleep.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • The cult of Mother's Shadow. Blindfolded titan-worshippers, skilled in echolocation. Core dogma is that none who see the Hound's face should live to speak of it. 
  • Wizard vision. Spend enough consecutive time near this beast and you'll begin see the unseen. Permanent if you spend at least a full consecutive lunar cycle in the Hound's hex, or a week there without sleep.
  • Shadow pits. Places of deep shadow (small pits, crevices, overhangs) become physically deeper within the Hound's domain. Sometimes open to inhospitable worlds.
  • Snarls of titan fur, tangled in tree-tops. Can be woven into coarse, scratchy, uncomfortable cloaks which  cling to shadow and help hide the wearer.

The Swine Which Seeks to Unite the Earth and Sky

MtG card art by G-Host Lee

On the horizon 
(visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds of dust, floating rocks seen in the distance. Occasional tremors as floating chunks of stone leave the area of the beast's influence and come crashing to the ground.

Environmental Effect 
:  The earth reaches towards to sky. Trees grow upwards at visible rates. You feel lighter on your feet and can lift more weight. Random updrafts and downdrafts. Whole chunks of land lift up into floating islands.  No fall damage. Bulky items easier to hold in inventory.

: Thick vegetation spiraling upwards into the air, carrying masses of debris with it. Pieces flake off and float into the sky. The entire tangled grove always looks at least vaguely like a giant boar.

Behavior / Desires
: Uproots earthen structures and hurls them into the air. Carefully avoids damaging obelisks and towers. Bows in deference to particularly impressive spires and mountains.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Foreign Isles. Some of the large floating chunks of rock have been drifting along behind the Swine for decades, and are host to strange endemic species.
  • Skywood. Plants which have passed through the Swine's body become buoyant in air and desirable for building flying ships. Incredibly difficult to collect in large quantity without getting crushed.
  • Vanguard Birds. A society of birdmen worship the beast, and zealously attack anyone who comes near (that can't fly). Easy to bribe with shiny objects.

More Titans:

Part 2, Part 3, Part 4