Saturday, October 14, 2023

Wandering Titans, part IV - Hot and Cold, Plus Two More to Complete the Set

This is the final planned entry in a series of Wandering Titans, which are part weather, part giant monster. 

Previous parts with more titans: Part 1, Part 2Part 3

The Plague of Flame

AI Generated via Bing.
"Roman Tile Mosaic of a Rat kaiju towering above a burning city."

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Smoke rising from burning forests or villages.

Environmental Effect 
:  Intense heat wave. Metal becomes too hot to touch barehanded. Outbreaks of fever-causing disease. Dry material spontaneously bursts into flame. Swarms of smoldering vermin spontaneously generate where you least expect it.

:  Flickering apparition of a colossal Rat, wreathed in smoke. 

Behavior / Desires
: Hungry. Devours/burns fields, food stores, forests, and wooden buildings. 

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Pyromaniac Rat Cultists. Skin pockmarked and burnt. Constructs of flame or smoke fill their wounds, replace missing limbs, and grant a sort of manic undeath fueled by arson.
  • The smoldering vermin sometimes contain valuable exotic chemical substances within their bodies. More common is that they contain nasty exotic diseases.
  • Exotic fires and unusual forms of heat, which can be bottled by a skilled arcane technician. Floo, Bale, St. Elmo's, an unnamed species of flame that burns songs as fuel...
  • Regular fire, too, if that's what you're into.

The Frigid Scapegoat

AI Generated via Bing.
"Roman Tile Mosaic of a giant sheep or goat creature towering above a frozen city. People pray to it."

On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Snowstorm contained in a precise cylinder.

Environmental Effect 
:  Cold snap. Flames diminish and new fires cannot be lit. Pipes and vessels of water freeze and burst. Those who freeze to death will find themselves mysteriously revived and healthy when the goat moves on and the landscape thaws, but other harm remains.

: Giant Ram with horns like icebergs. Flurries of snow drift out between matted locks of tangled wool.

Behavior / Desires
:  It seems to take a fascination in random things, tilting its head and fixing its eyes in place for hours at a time. Sometimes it takes the things, and not just a fascination. It lets out a massive breath, a downburst of bitter frigid air, causing collateral damage and knocking things aside, leaving only the object of the Scapegoat's interest sitting in a wind-blasted patch. This object - which is always perfectly intact whether it be a a statute, a mural, or something abstract - is then delicately picked up with teeth the size of warships and tucked deep into its fur.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Ancient treasures tangled in its locks.
  • Ancient people too.
  • Also something called "slood", which no longer exists anywhere else.
  • Petitioners beseech the Scapegoat to take their sins and obligations. If they attract its attention, it is often willing to oblige. It takes one of their limbs, too, frostbitten and broken off by its terrible breath.
  • A caravan of frozen corpses. They corpses in question were people dying of something else, and will become so again once they leave the zone of cold. Their caretakers are trying to hitch a ride towards a specialist magical institution which can help them, but the Scapegoat is currently headed in the wrong direction.
  • Lots of ice. Quite valuable in some settings.

And here are a couple bits of human-made giant goat artwork I found inspirational: "The Stilted Ram", by Michael MacRae"Summoning a god", by Calder Moore, and "Giant Goatman and his bridge", by Esteban Hernandez

The Fluffy Floppy Megabunny

AI Generated via Bing.
"Hyper fluffy giant bunny seen from below. Titanic rabbit towering into the sky. Tiny angry beady eyes. Ancient Painting."

 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: The horizon and clouds in that direction look faintly blurry, as if seen through some lenses of the wrong prescription. Occasionally, a large white cloud seems to rise and then fall.

Environmental Effect 
:  Blades and claws are blunted. Stone becomes malleable. Iron becomes as plastic. Minus 1d6 damage when attacking unarmed or with physical weapons. Minus 1d6 from falling or other impacts, as well. A very faint ever-present mist moderates temperatures while making your hair bouncy and voluminous.

:  Like an opaque cloud that leaps and bounds high into the air before slowly drifting back down.

Behavior / Desires
: Oh how it hates! It yearns in its heart to tear apart the pathetic creations of mortals. To trample their farms, and bring their empires to ruin, to lead mindless armies into pointless slaughter, and to hear their lamentations. Of course, none of that is obvious from its vast vacant expression. It just seems to bounce around harmlessly and at random.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • When the titan lands on top of you, it's said to be quite a relaxing experience, "like a fog made of hugs". It impairs visibility a bit, but doesn't impair movement and only lasts a few minutes at a time.
  • Occasionally, patchs of "fluff" can get caught on brambles. These can be magically spun into a something like silk which is bouyant in air.
  • Although the softening aura of the titan impedes the function of some devices, it enables forms of otherwise impossible crafting. A train of artisans follow the Megabunny in mobile workshops, creating ornate and durable artifacts out of materials which are difficult to work anywhere else.
  • This train has grown over the years into a Wandering Festival which is part carnival and part trade show. In the big top, trapeze artists perform stunts without a net, jugglers juggle swords by the blade, and big dudes punch each other in the head while laughing. 
  • Because blades and bludgeons are blunted, the most effective means of dealing with ne'er-do-wells (besides hiring a wizard) is via grappling. A tradition of wrestling has developed in the Wandering Festival, and the greatest wrestlers from all over the world come to demonstrate their prowess. Elaborate costumes are not required to enter the tournaments, but are appreciated by the crowds.
  • Lots of happy people.

The Wretched Ape


 On the horizon (visible in neighboring hexes)
: Clouds of dust. Faint tremors and distant echoes of loud noises.

Environmental Effect 
:  Earthquakes.

:  Big monkey. (Not actually an ape.)

Behavior / Desires
: It's a big monkey that knocks things over and shakes its fist at clouds. When it jumps around, it causes earthquakes.

Things to Discover or Encounter Nearby

  • Things which have been knocked over by a big monkey.

Additional Titans: Part 1Part 2Part 3

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