WORMSKIN

6/12/2016

Four Tidbits



A God Game

Three Lords of Law with access to demiurgic powers of creation bring into being three different worlds, each occupying its own plane of existence. A great clock is constructed and the contest begins. Each god must choose a bit of clay to infuse with will, desire and self-awareness, then three aeons are allowed to transpire without divine supervision. The systems present on each plane -- typically identical to those in the competing worlds, but not necessarily -- are allowed the freedom to evolve as their designs and environments dictate. At the end of this term the results of each design are compared and contrasted. Did civilization develop? How much of the environment was mastered by this society? How much in that one? Finally an assessment is made, and the two worlds that were judged inferior are utterly erased and all their records destroyed.

-----

Sigil of Inevitability

A divine mark bestowed under special circumstances from a godling unto a mortal recipient. A creature bearing this Sigil is predestined to slay a particular man or woman.

Reality itself has seemingly succumbed to the mark's weird, and will actively bend toward the mark-bearer's object, throwing obstacles aside with improbable chains of coincidences. Mark-bearers are ultimately cursed, for once their dark purpose has been fulfilled their luck will soon abandon them altogether, and their deaths are always ugly affairs.

Mortals who learn of the Sigil's appearance and wish to protect the person it targets have only one recourse: They must sway the deity who bestowed the mark to undo the deed and revoke its power. Not a simple task, but it has been done. The price of this bargain will be terrible, if not cosmically grotesque.

The Sigil appears to be a flickering rose of red light that hovers an inch or two above its bearer's head, like a hazy IOUN stone. A closer look within its dancing petals reveals a tiny indigo rune, shifting and evolving with minute thrusts and intricate manipulations.

-----

Dead Fairy in a Lamp

A necromantic item of no small value to the searcher. It appears to be a bit of bones and broken insect wings rattling inside a rosy glass tube capped with two iron seals. Each is crusted with magical scripts of exceptional intricacy. When the lamp is rattled and a word is spoken, it bathes a 20' radius with intense, red-gold flecked luminosity. All invisible objects and creatures are instantly revealed in this glow. Objects of stone -- including masonry and monuments and raw cave walls -- become transparent -- allowing a clear view through them to the very edge of the lamp's 20' radius zone of efficacy. This transparency works equally well from both perspectives (inside and outside of the lamp's field).

The luminosity will last 1 turn for every (temporary) hit point invested by its bearer. Knocking on dead or living wood in the lamp's vicinity (earshot) will snuff it's light for 2d12 turns.

-----

Tetrograt

A minuscule, stationary golem peculiar to certain cultures and time periods. It resembles a small bronze statuette approximately three feet tall. The form is that of a classical anthropomorphic godlet of hermaphroditic quality. The deity's face is covered with sumptuously lipped mouths that flow around its head like leisurely ducks on the surface of a pond. They sometimes whisper incoherently, or come forth with names of people and places in a non-sequitur flow of babble. Each mouth is independent of the others -- expressing and spouting nonsense of its own -- until an untruth is spoken before it, at which time all mouths will chorus the words "It is a lie."

Tetrograts are typically royal heirlooms with origins in the distant past. No specific details can be readily ascertained about their fabrication -- all prescient facts having been worn away by the passage of time. There is mention of a distant empire, an underground temple -- little more.

3/19/2016

WORMSKIN #2 now available in PDF

The hour is upon us!

Issue 2 of the world's most popular Dolmenwood zine: Wormskin.



Its 46 dewy-moist pages feature:
  • An introduction to the High Wold, the south-westerly corner of Dolmenwood. 
  • Descriptions of the seven hexes clustered around the village of Lankshorn. 
  • Details of the most signifcant people and places in Lankshorn, including: the Hornstoat's Rest inn, the fairy-blooded bladesmith, the Man of Gold Apothecary, the Church of St Pastery. 
  • Tavern fare generator. 
  • Psychedelic compounds generator, including details on buying, selling, and manufacturing. 
  • Seven new monsters: addercorn thralls, barrowbogeys, bog zombies, longhorn goatmen, shorthorn goatmen, nightworms, witch-owls. 


http://www.rpgnow.com/product/176892/Wormskin-Issue-2




(PDF only for the moment. The print version should be ready to go next week.)

1/25/2016

Star-Teader, the Beta-Gnosis Cluster and the Interplanetary Engine

Been working on some SciFi stuff in the off-hours.


STAR-TREADER is a very streamlined, pseudo-scientific setting book inspired by the (scanty) space opera of H. P. Lovecraft (mostly "In the Walls of Eryx") and the dozen or so interplanetaries of Clark Ashton Smith. Contents include basic procedures for adventure (aka the INTERPLANETARY ENGINE), some sample worlds and their local flora and/or fauna, and a number of space-faring beings.


BETA-GNOSIS CLUSTER is a campaign guide utilizing the Interplanetary Engine. It covers all the major worlds, way stations and anomalies in the Cluster and describes many of the beings that may be encountered there. Here are two of the planetary bodies found in Beta-Gnosis:



Hodge's Planet

A small outpost world, extensively mined and scoured by corporate industrial machines. After its resources were sufficiently exhausted, the planetoid was sold for a mint to an Earthman named Witkin Hodge, who has since dwelt there for at least a thousand Earth years as an eccentric cyborg recluse.


Kurme [kur'm]

Transolar dump-world maintained by xygobotic industrial corporations. ["Dump-worlds" are a widely-utilized means to store solid waste materials, as the practice of jettisoning such stuffs into empty space is actively discouraged by most interplanetary law enforcement agents.] Kurme has the distinction of being a well-known black market in addition to a typical, storm-wracked industrial trashscape.

A black sea, toxic to most organics but well-suited to xygobotic florafauna, rings a partially inhabited sub-continental district situated about the northern pole. There a geodesic Star-Port may be found. Several miles from this smokes a grotto-city called Gulphe. This is where the widely regarded and extralegal black market is located.

Carnivorous xygobot garbage-forms roam much of the planet, feeding on a surprisingly resilient population of quasi-mammalian vermin. Translucent pseudo-lichens flit above the surface of burning swamps and excrement-choked chunnel-systems, teeming in flocks sometimes numbering in the hundreds of thousands. 

Loose tribes of humanoid scavengers make forays into the Southern Caches, occasionally returning with centuries-old parts and components that enrich Gulphe's expansive market. Archaeo-engineers refurbish defunct industrial mechs, bringing them back from Kurme's robot-hell to serve the organics again. The most common conveyance to be found is a bug-like vehicle called a rewreck that crawls on a set of four or eight hydraulic legs, each terminating in pairs of spring-loaded metal hammer-claws.

Kurme's constant precipitation and electro-magnetic squalls make a close survey of the planet's surface from the air an ill-advised plan at best.

Air-quality varies in inhabited areas from passable to aggressively horrible. Zones of radiation and chemical waste may make passage through certain areas deadly or simply impossible. 

12/14/2015

WORMSKIN #1 Available Now in PDF


Wormskin explores the mythic forest called Dolmenwood, a setting for use with B/X campaigns or similar tabletop systems. Each issue will look at various elements of this eldritch realm situated on the leafy verges of Faerie, where austere Drunes rub elbows with weird elf-lords and talking beasts, where witches wander skyclad and armed with sinister magicks to bind the spirits of hapless adventurers. Be wary.

Issue 1 includes:
  • The grimalkin race-class.
  • Four new spells of cat-kind, including the terrifying (?) furball.
  • The moss dwarf race-class.
  • One (1!) new forest-creeping monster: the root-thing.
  • A hearty article on the fungi of Dolmenwood: edible, psychedelic, and poisonous.

(Print version coming in the new year. If you purchase the PDF edition now, we'll send you a discount on the full print/PDF combo when it goes live.)

Buy Now

7/03/2015

Revised B/X Monster List



[Not Final]

MEN
Bandit
Berserker
CULTIST (includes "Acolyte")
HILLMAN (replaces "Neanderthal")
Medium
Noble
Normal Human
NPC Party
Trader
Veteran

BEASTS (MUNDANE)
Bat
Bear
Boar
Camel
Cat, Great
Crocodile
Elephant
Hawk
Herd Animals
Horse
Insect Swarm
Mule
Rat
Rhinoceros
Snake
Shark
Whale
Wolf

BEASTS (LEGENDARY)
Ape, White
Beetle, Giant
CRAB, GIANT GENITAL
Cave Locust
Centipede, Giant
Dinosaur
Driver Ant
Ferret, Giant
Fish, Giant
Leech, Giant
Lizard, Giant
MAMMOTH
Mastodon
Octopus, Giant
Robber Fly
Rock Baboon
Scorpion, Giant
Shrew, Giant
Spider, Giant
Squid, Giant
Roc
Titanothere
Toad, Giant
Weasel, Giant

MONSTERS OF THE WILDERNESS
Basilisk
BUGBEAR (literally a bug-headed bear)
Centaur
Chimera
Cockatrice
Cyclops
DEODAND
Devil Swine
Displacer Beast
DOUBLE (replaces "Doppleganger")
Dragon (Red, Green, Black, White, Blue, TIAMAT)
Dryad
Dwarf (Mountain)
Elemental
Elf (FAIRY)
ENT (replaces "Treant")
Gargoyle
Giant (ELDER)
Ghoul
GNOLE (replaces "Gnoll")
Gnome
Goblin
GORGON (replaces "Medusa")
Griffon
Harpy
Hippogriff
HOBBIT (replaces "Halfling")
HORSE, FLYING (replaces "Pegasus")
Hyrdra
Lizard Man
Lycanthrope
Manticore
NIGHT-GAUNT
Ogre
Orc
Owl Bear
REVENANT (INCORPOREAL) (replaces "Spectre", "Wraith" and similar)
Stirge
Troll
Unicorn
Vampire
Wyvern
Zombie

MONSTERS OF THE SEA
Dragon Turtle
Mermen
MERMAID (UNDEAD)
Nixie
Sea Dragon
Sea Serpent
Termite, Water

MONSTERS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Caecilia
Carrion Crawler
DHOLE
Dwarf (UNDERWORLD)
Kobold
Gelatinous Cube
Giant (UNDERWORLD)
GUG
Hellhound
Minotaur
Purple Worm
Rhagodessa
Shadow
SHOGGOTH
Skeleton
Wight

HAZARDS OF THE UNDERWORLD
Addercorn
Black Pudding
Blink Dog
Cloying Mist
Dungeon Fruit
Earwig, Greater
Fake Cake
Gray Ooze
Green Slime
Hickorywort
Ick
Jade Jism
Kitten Strangler
Lemonstrap
Mocking Turd
Numinous Tree-Shroom
Ochre Jelly
Phase Crystal
Quillvine
Royal Jelly
Saffron Scum
Shrieker
Taint
Umbilicus, Giant
Vestigial, Elder
Waxen Floatroot
Xorbidic Slime
Yellow Mold
Zoetic Moss

6/29/2015

GORGON | Trollnuts of Unwisdom


The Idea

Trollnuts of Unwisdom is a book-within-a-book that will be a part of GORGON #666 and also available as a separate, arted-up tome. Trollnuts are the opposite of "Pearls of Wisdom" -- they are more often than not designed to mislead adventurers and possibly lure them into traps. The book would contain a variety of rumor tables for different situations. (We leave it up to the referee to decide what degree of truth, if any, these rumors contain.) While the book will be intended for use with any pseudo-medieval campaign setting, I would encourage you all to invent new fictitious kingdoms, realms, townships and hovels willy-nilly, and I'll bake them all into a single campaign map. Cross-referencing other people's inventions as we go is absolutely encouraged.

Eg.:

Ten Lies Concerning the Location of the Sacred Grove

1) It is hidden in a cave beneath the roots of Blacknife, a crooked mountain far to the north-west. Gold flows like honey there, and the local dryads are eager for men's seed. [gg]

2) It lies just beyond the next hill. You will know you have reached the place because it is a copse of cinnamon trees -- their musk fills the air. A lone maiden attends to the shrine -- you will see her light from the road. She will accept a gift. Do not touch her. [gg]

3) It burned down long ago, but seeds from the trees were saved and the forest replanted in a different location. The grove retains the memories of its ancestral home and several trees long to return there. [Matthew Schmeer]

4) Near the scrim of the sea on the southern shore, the grove is hidden within the bowl of a sea cave. The trees need no light to grow but devour fish each night with mouths full of razor-sharp teeth in their roots. A sea god sometimes sleeps beneath their boughs. Do not disturb his rest. [Matthew Schmeer]

5) On an island in a lake of red waters grows a grove of bambaga trees, each tree three times as tall as a hill giant. The grove is protected by a spiderlion which spins webs of acidic silk. The fruit of the bambaga tree heals all sadness. [Matthew Schmeer]

6) Far into the desert, a copse of trees springs from the brackish waters of a dying oasis. Remove the curse and the oasis will recover. The trees will thank you with riches from beneath the sands. [Matthew Schmeer]

7) In a high mountain vale a stand of 7 trees is surrounded by 7 stones, each stone inscribed with 7 runes. If the correct 7 runes are touched in the correct order 7 times, a jeweled bird will alight in a nest on a branch of the 7th tree and lay 7 jeweled eggs. The bird will then depart. If the 7 eggs are kept warm for 7 days, they will hatch. Inside each egg is a seed which, when planted in a protected vale, sprouts an identical grove. [Matthew Schmeer]

8) Within the dark wood is a large clearing; in the middle of the clearing a clump of rowan trees entwine, their branches hopelessly engnarled. No magic works there. Buried beneath the roots of one of the trees is a golden axe. Remove it at your peril. [Matthew Schmeer]

9) The grove is to be found on the Plateau of Frozen Dreams, where the Snow Maiden slumbers. It is foretold that one day a brave soul's kiss shall awaken the sleeping beauty and lift the curse. No one has succeeded so far, and many lovesick souls wander among the timeless trees, sad and unfortunate. [Sándor Gebei]

10) In an underground paradise, created by the archmage Inscrupulous Testamen [sic]. The wizard, seeing how the overland world was unforgiving and intolerant, decided to conjure the elements to build his very own world, a haven for great minds, he thought. Since then, many misunderstood artists and philosophers have fled to his sanctuary, finding peace and harmony under the artificial sun. [Sándor Gebei]


6/19/2015

Announcement | GORGON QUARTERLY

What if the OSR had a quarterly anthology of cool bits from the community in a nice 8x10 softcover phonebook format?



Contributors would give the GORGON permission to reproduce their stuff. While I will happily layout some material for inclusion, the intention would be for YOU to layout your own stuff in 8.5x11 (.5" margins!) with all fonts embedded. This will cut down the time of production considerably and give GORGON a kind of punk look, with no continuity of style from article to article.

GORGON would be sold at-cost as a POD item from Lulu. So about 2,000 coppers (~$20) including shipping and handling.

I will take pains to not include any illustrations or artwork that is not from contributors or in the public domain. There is no shame in GORGON's game.


LINK: Gorgon Quarterly G+ community


SUBMISSION INFO & GUIDELINES

1. By submitting your stuff to GORGON, you give us permission to publish it in perpetuity on a not-for-profit basis.

2. In other words, I WON'T MAKE A RED COPPER ON YOUR WORK. GORGON pdfs are free to download, and GORGON print products will be sold strictly at-cost on Lulu.

3. All submissions should be in PDF format. Dimensions 8.5" x 11" (.5 inch margins!)  with all fonts embedded. Greyscale/b&w. REMEMBER: The way you lay it out is the way it's going to look in GORGON. More info on embedding fonts: http://tinyurl.com/k98286f

4. Submit stuff to the GORGON QUARTERLY Google drive here: http://tinyurl.com/pdv7oag

5. Make sure you have the rights to any illustrations you use in your submission. Whether you're an illustrator or an author, you retain the rights to your work, and you can use that work anywhere you like, regardless of its appearance in GORGON. Likewise, you can use work that you previously published elsewhere as long as you have the rights to do so.

6. There are NO LIMITS on the page-counts of your submissions, and NO LIMIT to the number of items you submit. That said, there's no guarantee that everything you submit will appear in GORGON right away or in the same issue. I will try to be flexible to your creative intentions, however.

7. There are no rules governing the TYPES of things you choose to submit. If it's something that would appear in an OSR blog post and it's good enough for the dead tree treatment, then it's allowed. If possible, I will attempt to keep the contents of a single issue loosely related thematically, or organized into a set of loosely related themes.

8. OGL: If you want to include an OGL license with your submission, please make it a separate PDF document that CLEARLY INDICATES what work(s) it addresses. If you have no interest in writing up and including something like this, you'll be covered anyway by a general purpose Creative Commons license that will appear on the last page of each issue.