Saturday, September 9, 2023

Lanthanide Horizon Vignetteposting

In the style of Knot//Braid//Line - a war, a harvest, a crash, a christening, a telegram, and a fable.

On the first day of the first year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur carried a walking stick, three weeks of dried, salted vegetables, a block of graphite wrapped in copper wire to cook with, a map on sedge paper, a hat, a second hat in case of emergency, and a ridged meditation charm to rub between thumb and forefinger, to feel the heartbeat of the sleepers he is leaving.

The workers have just finished the telegraph line to the forward operations tent of Ratan, head of a two-hundred man operation to map the Lacework Tunnel.

It would be better if they hadn't.


On the first day of the sixth year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur saw one of those few, fabled immortals. She knelt, holding up the weight of the ceiling - and across her arms were dozens of chains in the shape of letters.

Ozgur took one in his hand to read - "You are the wanderer Ozgur. I have seen your face in the eyes of the world. There is a great hall, plated in silver. You will find nothing there."

The immortal looked down at him, and let one of her hands drop from the roof above. Ozgur climbed up through the ceiling, into a great hall, plated in silver.

Argider Maitagarri of 4 watches the harvest come in. The tower overflows with grey fruits, the sea overflows with fish. His sister drowned, six months before - but he found the fish she became, and now it hangs above the door of his room in the tower Maitagarri. A seventh name is all but guaranteed to him.

On the tenth day of the ninth year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur met the immortal again. The ceiling still pressed down upon her, and still she was silent. The wanderer reached into her chains, peered into the tangle, and read - "I remember you."

The immortal looked down at him, and let one of her hands drop from the roof above. Ozgur climbed up through the ceiling, into a great hall, plated with silver. He saw his own footprints in the dust. And then he started on the long path home.

The city Drinking Water sat above the city of Wheat Fields. Through the hole in the ceiling, Drinking Water sent its aqueducts and extracted its tribute. One day, the patron of Wheat Fields climbed up the fifty thousand stairs between the two, attended by her guards and guarded by her attendants. 

She spoke to the patron of Drinking Water for two weeks and three days (a lucky number for her temperament), and changed nothing.

When the tall men from outside came to Wheat Fields, they offered her weapons - guns, and bombs, and machines powered by burning the blood of the walls. 

The patron of Wheat Fields was killed soon after, as Drinking Water dropped stones and burning oils and killing cables from their aqueducts. That same day, the patron of Drinking Water was shot dead in the street.

A month later, the tall men from outside called the cities new names.

The good ship Certifier is setting sail. The hydrogen tanks are filled, the shipwright has said his two blessings (traditionally, "Come home safe" and "Come home joyous", though this time he fumbled and said "cheerful"), a relic (three bolts from the Together, ship of the heroic Selectwoman Dyann) has been set into the hold, and the voyage's Selectman, Leander, has been mocked vigorously.

A man on the docks releases the clamp, and the Certifier drifts out, spotlights on the world below.

A city stumbles. One foot cracks through the floor and lands in a pool of water - a second is overstressed, and its knee joint cracks. The people awake to a hammering alarm, but the city has already sent a team for the repair, and a second team to prepare to decontaminate the first.

They light cones of wax around their homes anyway. You can never be too careful.

The first team welds the cracked joint - it will not last, but it will hold for now. Then they spot for the city as it carefully lifts the first leg, and spit in the hole to punish it. When they return they are coated in grainy paste and kept in a room full of burning incense, talking the whole time - hoping any words they caught will make themselves known.

On the hundredth day of the eleventh year of his travels, the wanderer Ozgur returned home. His walking stick had snapped, his vegetables were long eaten, his graphite block was gone, traded to a Navigator for a gun, the gun was lost in a tunnel underneath a electrical substation, the map was drenched in greasy water on an open plain, the hat got caught on a spike, and the emergency hat blew away at the top of the tallest pillar he had ever seen.

But he still held the charm between his forefinger and thumb, and felt the ridge and the hole. One-two, one-two, one-two.

Thursday, September 7, 2023

Go Away Play Reports

     Go Away was a short cyberpunk/super"hero" campaign, set in the technocratic city of I Re. In 5 weeks, the last ship offworld is leaving. A ticket for 6 people is $100,000,000. Get one.

 You can read the actual play here.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

How to Fight Ghosts, and Yourself, and Everyone Else (GLOG Duelist Subclasses)

    Like every glog-type individual, I can't stop myself from making a new fighter every few months. Also like every glog-type individual, I can't stop myself from immediately doing anything a blog post tells me to - so when Locheil's fighter Legally Required anyone reading it to make more subclass variations for it, I did, dooming it to an eternity shackled to me.


Ψ - Assured

A method developed by, and for, Clockwork Men. It expects that your skin is proof against blades, but even tiny weak flesh-creatures may find it of some use.

You may have learned it from a retired Clockwork Man, or from a recovered punchcard.

1. Technique: Splintering

    When you could riposte, you can instead catch the attacking weapon between two fingers and snap it like a twig. Assuming you remain adjacent to humanity, you take 1d4 damage.

2. Stance: Sunderer

    Swords you hold count as sledgehammers when used against inanimate objects.

3. Stance: Pristine

    As long as you are at full HP, your attacks deal +2 damage.

4. Technique: Caught in the Gears

    When you make two successful attacks on the same target, you may immediately grapple them. According to doctrine, you should then crush their head like a grape in your huge metal hands, but I expect you don't have huge metal hands. Pathetic.

Ψ - Zoanthropy

A "style" of screaming, biting, and bleeding. 

You may have learned it from observing one of its practitioners, or by spending days in a strobe-lit room while being beaten with sticks.

1. Technique: Frenzy

    You may make as many bonus melee attacks as you want, but your target gets to make just as many against you.

2. Stance: No Idle Hands

    Weapons you have built yourself, from scratch ("I mined this iron ore and smelted it in a furnace I built myself" scratch) have their damage die increased by one step. (Bone, stone, and wooden weapons shatter into splinters when they roll their maximum damage.)

3. Technique: Taste of the Blood

    You may replace one of your melee attacks each round with a 1 damage bite. If this kills the target (and unlike other Duelist abilities, this kills the target, no question) you regain all your spent attacks.

4. Stance: Deadened Nerves

    For every point of damage you take, your attacks do +1 damage until the end of your next round. 

Ψ - Carceral

Developed and maintained by the ranks of the Knight-Exorcists in the eight cities of the dead.

You may have learned it as an initiate in their order, or through messages in your dreams.


1. Stance: Open Eye

   A careful pattern of acupuncture needles seats your soul strongly in your body, and sets your eyes firmly on the material world. You can parry spiritual attacks, mental intrusions, and heretical speeches.

2. Stance: Closed Eye

    Your attacks and your body count as magic for the purposes of attacking gargoyles, ghosts, and other such things. Your vision becomes blurry and grey, but with ten minutes of focus you can look into someone, at the shape and movement of the soul through their body.

3. Technique: Expose

    You may replace one of your melee attacks with a deeply uncomfortable poke directly at the target's spirit. Most people must Save or be knocked prone - those who are possessed must Save or fall unconscious as the possessor is flung from the body. Of course, many possessive spirits survive perfectly well in the open air...

4. Technique: Ingrained Response

    Some tricks meant to disperse the holy dead work just as well on tomb-robbers and vagabonds. If you miss with a melee attack, you may immediately throw an item held in your off-hand: piles of salt and iron nails are stereotypical, but sometimes a grenade works even better.

Ψ - Solipsism

A method developed by you.

You always knew it.

1. Technique: You Are Me

    When someone you can see makes an attack, you can decide they will roll with your current attack bonus and deal damage based on what you are holding.

2. Stance: You Are Not Real

    You are not affected by injuries of any kind until they kill you. Look down at your broken legs and declare that it is a trick - I feel nothing.

3. Technique: You Are Here

    Instantaneously switch places with anyone you can see - after all, they're just another piece of you.

4. Technique: You Are Not Safe

    You can make melee attacks against anyone you can see, at any distance. To onlookers, it seems as if you are hacking at yourself.

Sunday, July 30, 2023

Ashes to Ashes Play Reports (#2)

The first part is here - 30 player PbP, bronze age fleshapocalypse, run by Locheil, who is great, I write play reports, etc.

ew ew ew ew ew, where a few domain lords descend into the meat-filled ruins of the Dusk Fort.

Past the Gate, adventures around a lake of burning poison. 

Above the Sky, an attempt to retake the lost city Eriqadaa, featuring living curses, tiny stars, and Old Age.

Dibs, where some criminal goons decide retaking lost cities can't be that hard.

Stolen Items Are Free, an undead swordfighter breaking into a tomb full of undead swordfighters.

Monday, July 24, 2023

Lanthanide Horizon - Tied in the Strings of Dream (Sustainer Cells)

    Within the megastructure, resources are scarce. Water must be tapped from lines, light and heat from stolen electricity, food slowly persuaded to grow in waste pits and cracked panels. So, if you have the tools, why not just wait it out?

    The Sustainer Cells keep the majority of their members in cryosleep, hidden away in tunnels and vaults below, above, and within their villages. The few still awake labor to keep themselves alive and the pods functional. These sleepers wait for the turning of the world, dreaming and speaking between themselves of things hidden from the eyes of the wakeful.

    People transition back and forth from sleep to labor, switching bodies in the untethered land of dreams. The bricklayer Ceyhun, struck dead in a fall, is pulled out of a chamber later that day - next month, they wish to retire, so the body is returned. A week after that, it is brought back with the weaver Binnur inside. Given this disconnection from the body, gender has no cultural relevance among the Sustainers - a person is a person, and the body has a sex in the same way it has an eye color.

    Children are born among the wakeful - raised in batches based on age, uploaded as part of their adulthood, and then sent out on their rites of passage, to meet distant folk and strange monuments. Upon their return, they are members of the community, and given their inheritance (since, hopefully, their parents will never truly die). Rarely, as an alternative to childrearing, bodies will be pulled from sleep with no known Sustainer mind within - these memoryless, confused inducted are sent through childhood like any other, learning the language and ways of the wakeful. However, once brought to adulthood, biological children follow in the caste of their parents, while the inducted are untethered.

    These four castes (those of the Farmer, the Artisan, the Scavenger, and the Diviner) are half of the social hierarchy in the Cells - in general, the Diviners command official social and political power, by reading and interpreting the dreams of the sleepers (to be clear - the Diviners do actually read signs according to a set of rules, and in general they don't just say everything means "give me all your stuff" - people generally believe in their own traditions and act accordingly). Within the castes are jobs themselves - a large landowner and the people working their land are both within the Farmer caste, and everyone from a machinist to a playwright is an Artisan. Under their heavy plastic-and-fur coats and their long, narrow hats, the wakeful wear face paint marking their caste and identity, applied to new bodies as part of the ceremonies of revival.

    The other half of social hierarchy is through goods - the wakeful operate on a barter and gift economy. Needed items are traded directly, or in some cases simply given. This giving is competitive - social norms reward lavish gifts and expect, eventually, an even greater return from the receiver. Winning these competitions of charity by giving the other person more than they could return improves and maintains your social reputation. The ability for a person to provide gifts is, in theory, a mirror of the respect granted their caste: a rich herder can hand out entire animals, a team of artisans clothes and tools, a scavenger brings devices from the megastructure, but the diviners produce nothing to give.

    When a Cell is threatened by war many of the sleepers will be pulled awake - even though they cannot be fed in the long term, and in the short time they cost the Cell greatly, having five, ten, a hundred times as many bodies to hold spears, to fix armor, to continue the harvest, and to read the signs lets them survive - hopefully.

    Similarly, if a Cell's home becomes uninhabitable, a body is conscripted for each of the community's sleepers in preparation for them all to flee - dragging as many chambers as they can keep online behind them as they search for a new home. These flights come with a loosening of social norms - unofficial "debts" of gifts are forgotten, names are changed, and in some cases a person can shift to a new caste before the boundaries solidify again.

    When near the Navigator Houses, Cells often begin to accommodate House ideas of reincarnation and an essential soul. The concept of the soul having a shape that fits with the body leads to an idea of a personal gender, and some of the wakeful believe that remnants of this soul can be contacted - that everyone contains sleepers of their own, who speak clearly.

    Influences from the Oasis Kingdoms and their extractive industries alter the way the Cells think of their economy - barter systems become standardized, then Kingdom coinage is introduced, both to aid in trade with the Kingdoms (and often avoided by all but the elite of the Cells). Less notable Artisans, now creators of trade goods, push for more prestige and power under the new economy.

    Next to the blighted waters and tall towers of the Gardener Clans, the Cells dissolve. With the ease of foraging in the swamp-hydroponics of the megastructure, many of the sleepers can be awoken, and the chambers of the few who cannot are spread across the dry islets. Instead of a single village built with its vault, the Cells live in dozens or hundreds of close-knit groups.

    In Cells that often trade with the Skinborne, reverence for the sleepers becomes more and more specific - the wakeful seek out the voices and the names of their ancestors inside the dream, and great families become a third path to social power.  

   Once met by the machines of the Walker Herds, the wakeful begin to associate the minds of the sleepers with the seed intelligences of the walking cities. They find the Herds' methods of teaching their nascent mind (where it is kept walled away from the world, spoken to only by the members of the royal families) misguided. In response to the Herds, these Cells become more open with access to the sleepers - they are paraded through the cities, instead of left to molder in their vaults. Equality spreads to much of the rest of their social life. Caste boundaries and hierarchies weaken as the Cells begin to view the Herds as an example of all that could be wrong.

Thursday, June 29, 2023

Ashes To Ashes Play Reports (#1)

Ashes to Ashes is a 30-something player play-by-post domain game run by the Unequaled, Inimitable, Et Cetera, Locheil - set in the City Qal Ashen, city of the deathless and the dead, last city of mankind in a world consumed by unending life. 

the intended vibe (art by Locheil)

the real vibe (art by Chris M-S)

Since the game is split into some innumerable amount of hidden Interweb Locations, and people have this terrible habit of always doing things, I've ended up conscripted into keeping track of... well, not everything, but at least some.

And since I have the special set of brainworms that makes me want to read and write play reports no matter how much it tanks blog readership, it's now everyone else's problem. So, here are three that are Complete, Comprehensible(ish), and possibly even Good:

- Reckmore and the Egg, a thousand-year-old bureaucrat trying his hand at dungeon-crawling

Teeth that Scream, the two evictions of the feral wizard Colorless Agum 

The Get-Along Boat, where a pair of exiles don't learn their lesson

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

City of Cities Actual Play

    Locheil's City of Cities, Iskadar. Built of five lesser settlements bent and stacked atop each other. Temples built atop train tracks atop temples, the homes of the rich looming, bent, above fields of unused fortresses. And pinned under its immeasurable weight, the Guts, where the sun - and the law - barely reach. And inside the Guts, the Hawthorne Autocar Works, staffed now by the Red Tooth mob. And inside the Autocar Works, our PCs:
  • Serafim Victorovich, who definitely isn’t a ghoul, no matter what anyone says and how many of his parts fall off.
  • Gerome Castaigne, a bundle of star-stolen knowledge somewhere under a pile of matted hair and tacky robes.
  • Corvette, a gargoyle “paladin” whose constant meditations let her move things with her mind.
  • Ana, veteran of the wars of Hell. Don’t ask which side.
  • Zipporah Viterbo, a city-speaking harpy with a knack for doors.
  • An armored car, which may not be “alive”, or “a player character”, but really did more to help than anyone else, and deserves a place on the list.
  • And, unfortunately, “Pigshit”, some kind of goblin who lives in the vents no matter what anyone tries to do about it.
    This set of walking disasters is under contract to steal a box - though they don’t know what’s inside, the fact that the cops confiscated it when it was imported means it must be worth something, and they’re driving it through the Guts on their way to lock it up.

    The first session is, of course, spent plotting - the cops are taking their car through “Ropewalk Lane” - a winding, tight, generally horrid little road perfect for, as an example, blocking with an armored car on one side, a gargoyle on the other, and every other available goon shooting from the balconies.
    Zipporah’s in with the Dockworker’s Union gets them to happily say exactly what’s in that box (a probably Quite Cursed combination of tome, glass sphere, and golden death mask) and who it’s for - sent from the Duly Elected People’s Government (oligarchic dictatorship) of Haracaa to one “Ialanna Merce”. They also have a record of what the box looks like, so the PCs soon split up even further to go get a copy or twelve made.
    Corvette wanders around bars on the Lane, going on about the wonders of punching cops (which isn’t very hard to persuade people of, with the Great Strike only ending a couple years ago), as step one of inciting a riot when the time comes.
    And then the time comes.
    The van holding the box and its police car escort are blocked by the armored truck - and when the first cop gets out, complete pandemonium. They get Pigshit’s patented bag full of rats over their head as Ana starts shooting from the armored car’s window… once, before taking a round right through the seam and into her ribs.
    As Zipporah’s gun jams, and then jams again, Corvette tears open the back of the van to come face-to-face with a cop in powered armor, whose gun also jams, turning it into a fistfight that Corvette, backed up by a dozen rioters, slowly starts to win.
    Rain freezes on the barrel of Ana’s gun as the cops scatter into doorways and alleys - half of them carrying a surreptitiously tossed rat or two with them, thanks to Pigshit, who then crawls between the power armor’s legs to start searching the van.
    Soon, one cop makes their way to a third-floor balcony, giving Zipporah the chance to jam her gun again, then stumble through an attempted flying tackle, and then get hit on the head with a vase. Fortunately, just then Pigshit finds the box, and Corvette snaps one of the power armor’s legs - but as the players pile into the armored car, one of the cops peeks out of a doorway and asks them if they’re with the Pulps, a local wizard-gang.
    And Zipporah says yes, so the plant hops into the back seat of the armored car as it peels away - and is then, promptly, tied up. The police don’t follow, thanks to a set of spike strips, Corvette tossing the power armor in front of the van, and Ana taking a couple shots at the tires. Unfortunately, when the PCs creep into an alleyway to open up the box (in case it shoots poison darts or something - better to know before the boss gets his hands on it), they’re interrupted by the Pulps’ agent, in a giant kookaburra mask and filthy coat, falling directly onto the car’s roof and demanding his loot.
    Instead, Pigshit gives him a rat, and then a rat, and then when Kookaburra reaches down to grab what is, in fact, a third rat, Gerome tries to shoot him in the hand with a pocket crossbow. Kookaburra does some kind of Wizard Business to cover himself in acidic slime - which protects from the crossbow bolt, but very much does not save him from Ana driving the car under a low bridge and scraping him off.
    Unfortunately, the rest of the Pulps take this as their signal to start chasing with a car of their own, driven by a steel Daedalus war-construct (in a fetching scarf) and followed by a flying harpy, who tries to glue the armored car’s back wheels to the ground using magic before taking a crossbow bolt from Gerome right to the wing joint.
    And then, Corvette leaps from a rooftop to land right in front of the Pulps, takes the hit from the car with only a light… 10… damage, and completely totals it. Then, as the Daedalus and their passenger get out, Ana reverses the armored car right into them.
    Unfortunately, the Daedalus is completely immune to small arms fire - so Gerome ducks into an alleyway to use some Thief Metagame Story Altering Nonsense™: having “already” gotten a smuggler friend of his to hide him a little tool in a nearby alley, in case of some kind of car chase or giant robot - a hand grenade.
    A paper airplane drifts down into the alleyway as Corvette uses her telekinesis to hit the Daedalus with their own car, and then drop it right on top of them, pinning them to the road. Gerome stumbles out of the alleyway (thankful he can keep his grenade for something else) and, for just a moment, reaches out to the paper airplane before running over to steal the Daedalus’s scarf. Which is good, because after he turns to pull the scarf out of the pile of scrap car parts, the airplane unfolds, glows a bright red, and explodes - thankfully damaging no one.
    The second paper airplane, however, airbursts, blowing Corvette’s hand off. And that’s enough to convince the PCs that discretion is the better part of valor.
    Back at the Autocar Works, the PCs are patched up (with the wonderful medicine of “a bunch of old rags” and “grain alcohol”) just in time for the box’s buyer, Ialanna Merce herself, to arrive. Fortunately, she gladly pays extra hazard pay for injuries - and even better, since Gerome has his face covered with his new scarf, and hasn’t yet spoken to her, he can pry an extra 50 crowns from her by simply pretending his jaw’s broken.
    And with that, the job is complete.

Sunless Horizon Beta 2.3 Release

Commissioned from Scrap Princess excited screeching I've been posting about  Sunless Horizon  for about a year, and after finally gettin...