UVG: The Caravan Sheet

The UVG (my patreon) has grown a lot over the weeks and I got some friendly editing input from Skerples, and from that I realized I needed to restructure the introduction, so that the UVG makes sense to somebody approaching it without prior knowledge. And make a table of contents.
I've been doing that.

I've also been using a dagger axe to carve kobolds into kibble.

I have also been working on a very early design goal: creating a mid-level pointcrawl caravan game for the UVG. A traveling precursor to the fortress/stronghold game that D&D assumes (assumed) at level 9.

I've finally done most of that, revising and clarifying the rules, but especially, making a caravan sheet to track animals, helpers, supplies, inventory, trade goods, time, speed, and group finances.

It seems simple, but that and the actual map of the pointcrawl forced me to revisit so much of the setting, that the work just ballooned to take weeks of my time. It was fun, but also frustrating (I have piles of discarded maps and caravan sheets now).

Quick Breakdown of the Moving Pieces

The caravan is like a group character for the players, or perhaps a joint mobile base of operations.

Helpers are a bit like special abilities for the caravan, except squishy and prone to dying. Transport covers porters, animals, and wagons, it’s required for moving heavy things (like food and water) long distances.

Time is a key factor for making a journey into the steppe feel big, and inventory is simplified to focus on supplies and trade goods. Take note that I refer to the coinage simply as cash. Assume that 1 cash = 1 gold piece or 1 silver piece, whichever is the base unit in your game. Supplies are a mashup of water, food, and other essentials to keep humans going in the steppe.

I also propose the sack as a unit of stuff for D&D approximately equal to all the equipment an adventurer with 10 Strength can carry. Or 2500 cash in D&D 5E.

Does all this sound fun? Do you want to support my art and gaming? You can.

It's the WTF patreon.
Yes. A Patreon.


Vaults of Vyzor: Post-species Integration and Education Society

The Vaults of Vyzor is an on-going, epic, multi-player dungeoncrawl run by Jeff Rients of the Broodmother Skyfortress.

My character there is a lotfp specialist named Big Gnome. Big Gnome is a gnome, and is convinced he's a gnome, and tells everyone he's a gnome. He's also over six feet tall. That's ok. His red hat is two feet tall, so he still looks like a gnome. I rolled Big Gnome with straight 3d6 and ended up with absolutely average stats (all 8, 9 or 10), except Constitution. Big Gnome has 18 Constitution. That's why he's so huge. As a specialist Big Gnome is terrible at combat, but he does have one thing going for him: he's an expert tinkerer. He has a 6 in 6 pips of tinkering. In lotfp terms that means Big Gnome is the MacGyver, the tinkeriest gnome he could be. Also, he carries a shovel for tinkering with larger traps.

Now, the PIES.

An utterly unrelated gnome to Big Gnome, named Unrelated Gnome (crypto-biomancer, AC 9, HD 6, can cast Flesh to Lichen, which is a spell wholly unrelated to Flesh to Stone and also less permanent), introduces the Post-species Integration and Education Society (PIES) to Vyzor. At PIES anybody can learn what it is like to belong a different species-cultural complex through a combination of deep drinking, high hypnosis, timely training, pedantic practice and metagenetic magic (may involve surgery).

At PIES any character may acquire some quirky aspect of another species, culture or race, for a fee. For example, one could acquire the halfling throwing weapon bonus, the dwarven bonus against giants, the elven affinity for lyres, the human resilience in the face of ridiculous odds, or some other weird, stupid shit. Or at least try to.

The first visit to PIES costs 300 gold, the second 600 gold and the third 1000. A 'training' regimen takes 1d4 weeks (no adventuring during this time). After the first visit roll 1d8, after the second 1d10, after the third 1d12.

PIES Result Table

1. pinnacle of perfection! You acquire the new trait and master it even better than most ordinary members of that species! You can throw rocks better than most halflings (e.g. +2 with thrown weapons)
2. dang good. You acquire the new trait, but with an additional quirk. E.g., yes, you are very good at throwing, just like a halfling, but you're especially good at throwing black rocks (e.g. +1 with thrown weapons, +2 with black thrown weapons).
3–5. you have mastered the trait you were after.
6–8. you have mastered the trait, but with a quirk. E.g., you are very good at throwing red objects. Only red objects. Even if they're still wet with paint, you're good at it (e.g. +1 with red thrown weapons). Or, you can detect new stonework, so long as it is brick or metamorphic rocks. Igneous and sandstone? You don't understand those.
9–10. you acquired a weirdly specific and half-useless random other trait. E.g. you are no better at throwing objects in combat, but now have a bonus skipping stones on water or perhaps when playing boules.
11. you learned nothing. Seriously, you just blew all that money and time. Well done.
12+. you learned nothing, but developed an irrational fear or awe of that particular species. E.g. you are now afraid of halflings and are at -1 when attacking them.

A full list of traits does not exist and depends on your negotiations with the DM.

A Fourth Visit

Unrelated Gnome will strenuously advise against a fourth visit because he doesn't have a d14 or d16 on hand, but will be convinced by a payment of 1500 gold to give the PIE protocol another spin. The mad mongrel trying to modify themselves further must succeed in a Petrification Polymorph Constitution Death save with a moderate DC (say 15) or the procedure is a catastrophic failure and they must roll on the ...

Catastrophic Dismutation Table (d12)
  1. Death.
  2. Brain replaced with rodent. Death.
  3. Heart is now an incendiary device. Explosive death in two minutes.
  4. Liver is now a sentient goat. Death in a few hours.
  5. Death and corpse becomes a cannibal zombie ravaging a local pig farm.
  6. Skin is now a cloaker. Also, probably death.
  7. Torso replaced with shrubbery. Probably death.
  8. Arms and legs turn into mushrooms. Probably death.
  9. Hair replaced with stubby, super-agressive, auto-cannibalistic venomous snakes. Regular culling and antivenom required. Or death.
  10. Eyes replaced with holes of annihilation. Blindness. Possibly madness.
  11. Whole body replaced with identical synthetic soulless sterile clone. Character is now a prisoner operating the replacement body with their thoughts. Madness may ensue.
  12. Head grows seventeen arachnid limbs and runs away from body, screaming. Character is now an autonomous head. Can only have 1 hp per HD.


Necropolis: d100 Treasures Liberated from the Sack of the Burning City

This is an excerpt from the Necropolis - a tomb-raiding supplement I am writing.

Loot from the Burning City

“It was a glorious sight. The temples of temptation, the libraries of lies, the palaces of perfidy. All were judged and levelled and made even. Legionaries and auxiliaries alike found satisfaction. Reason smiled upon Iks in those blood-red days.” - Leveller Titanká’s Diary of a Reasonable Person.

Referee: this table simulates the looting of Ébét. It is not a balanced table of starting equipment and in theory, a player might decide to retire a hero immediately after they roll on this table. That’s fine (and could be amusing). If you are using an alignment system, I would not allow any good-aligned characters to roll (unless they wanted to change alignment).

D100 Treasures Liberated from the Debauched City of Ébét

  1. You died, probably alcohol or sharp metal poisoning.
 Your identity was stolen by a filthy Ebeteen. Gain 100 shekels and roll on the Ebeteen background table.
  2. 100 cursed shekels that age the thief by a year every day. Each day one coin disappears into a greenish mist, taking a piece of the accursed one’s soul with it. When the thief finally dies, they are reborn as a ghoulish revenant driven by an unholy greed.
  3. 1d4 clay I.O.U tokens and incapacitated by poor alcohol. Permanently lose 1 point of Con and Dex. constitution or dexterity damage.

  4. 5 rotted Ebeteen hands and murderous hangover. You are permanently vulnerable to alcohol. Your first adventure, all your physical activities or activities requiring intense concentration, are at a disadvantage—but you gain a 20% XP bonus.
  5. A clay pot filled with ghoul teeth and a permanent -1 to all poison saves. It’s unclear what happened, but the hero has a 10% XP bonus on their next adventure.

  6. 6 golden rings worth 60 shekels, and 1d4 healing potions. After desecrating a still-active Ebeteen temple, became vulnerable to Ebeteen curses for 1d6 weeks.
  7. 1 lucky shekel (grants advantage to Charisma saves) and the life-long enmity of a local Ébéteen nobleman. Disadvantage to reaction rolls with Ébéteen, advantage to reaction rolls with Iksans.

  8. Accidentally murdered a Mornari mercenary over a game of Crippled Hazelnut, and ended up owing 500 shekels to the Levellers who got you off so easily. Also, the Mornari have your number now. Still, you did get a magical neckerchief from the ‘accident’ that provides advantage to saves against ropes. 
  9. 1 shekel and a broken heart, trapped by an Ebeteen eunuch-succubus named Itebebotok.
  10. 1d6 shekels and a disease. The disease is [d4]: (1) venereal, (2) intestinal, (3) psychosomatic, or (4) a curse. In any case, the disease depletes one ability score of choice by 1d4 every week until the services of a physic or shaman are purchased for 1d6 x 200 shekels.

1d8 shekels and a severely [d4]: (1) sprained ankle (disadvantage Dex checks), (2) pulled muscle (disadvantage Str checks), (3) fractured rib (disadvantage all physical), (4) amorous Thirsteen henchperson of absolute incompetence, unshakeable loyalty, and immense luck.
  12. 1d10 shekels and a nasty rash that reduces [d4]: (1) initiative by 1d4, (2) Strength by 1d6, (3) Dexterity by 1d8, or (4) Charisma by 3. A topical cream costing 1d6 x 30 shekels should take care of it in 1d4 weeks.

  13. 1d12 shekels and a bad burn (1d4 hp and Charisma damage).

  14. 1d20 shekels and a rat named “Leviticus”. The rat can’t talk, can it?

  15. 2d6 shekels and a purple gem (50 shekels) gouged from a marble statue of a [d4]: (1) minotaur lady, (2) sea cucumber deity, (3) octopus creature, (4) fat Ébéteen child-eater.

  16. 70 shekels and a brand of sale gifting the hero’s soul to a demonic creature named simply “The Orchid”. The Orchid manifests as a nightmare vision each time the hero levels, granting a 1 point bonus to one ability score and permanently taking 1 hp and one loving memory as a soul bond. The Orchid leaves behind a sickly sweet floral smell after each manifestation.
  17. 2d8 shekels, a malachite mace (20 shekels) and a minor rotting disease. The disease afflicts the [d4]: (1) hand, (2) face, (3) foot, or (4) other appendage, and deals one point of damage to one ability score of choice per week. It can be cured by an Iksan doctor or an Izvoreni artificer at the cost of 1d6 x 300 shekels. Alternatively, amputation also works.

  18. 2d4 shekels and a scroll for “the summoning and banishment of flesh-eating beetles”. The summoned variety is useful for mortuary or medicinal purposes.

  19. 2d10 shekels and an Ebeteen bone-golem bolter rod (100 shekels). It deals 1d10 damage, is long range, and renders a corpse’s bones into d4 ‘bolts’ of bone.
  20. 13 shekels and a cursed black axe of Vile manufacture. On moonless nights the axe turns into a many-headed cat-like creature and sings eerie songs of forgotten vistas. By day it hums and thrums, begging for souls to eat. With a loud scream it consumes the soul of every creature it kills, increasing its critical range by one for each soul eaten. It can hold a maximum of 13 souls, souls beyond the thirteenth are dissipated in eruptions of black hate that deal 1d8 damage to every creature in a 20’ radius (including the axe’s slave). One eaten soul dissipates into the void every day. Every day that the axe is without a single soul, it eats one point of Str and Cha from its slave.
  21. 70 shekels, a pound of divine flesh, a memory gap, a pounding headache and a vague feeling of unease at having set in motion something. It was [d4]: (1) nothing and that’s donkey meat, (2) a bloodbath happened at an Izvoreni surrender dance and somebody saw the hero, (3) a pact with a machine demon from beyond time who will come back with a deal the hero can’t refuse in 1d6 weeks, (4) a ritual involving dark magics, amateur brain surgery and a sentient lungfish has summoned an embarrassing plague upon the city. It will descend in 1d4 weeks.

  22. 2d6 shekels and a cache of three ceramic-and-ivory slaggers: throwing arcane bombs that deal 2d6 damage in a 20’ radius and fuse flesh to stone. It takes a creature fused to a stone surface 1d4 damage and a round to free itself.
  23. 2d8 shekels and a bone knife inscribed with an incantation in the ossified tongue (“the Naga King also rises”). It [d4]: (1) is a non-magical fake, (2) makes snakes friendly to the wielder, (3) progressively turns the wielder into a lizard creature over six weeks, (4) deals double damage to the undead, but draws their attention to the wielder.
  24. 2d20 shekels and a water-steel sword with the water rune (ossified). It deals double damage to fire and air creatures, but half damage to water creatures.

  25. 2d12 shekels and a red-and-blue bow with multi-colored arrows. The red arrows deal double damage to red targets, the blue arrows deal double damage to blue targets.
  26. 2d10 shekels and an Izvoreni rifle of exceptional make and age. It deals 2d6 damage, is long range, holds eight clockmetal rounds, and in an act of Cosmic justice jams every time it deals 2 or 11 points of damage (it takes a round to unjam it).
  27. 3d6 shekels and an Ebeteen whip of living flesh. The whip is imbued with the vile power of the Great House and transfers 1d4 hp from the victim to the wielder every time it strikes.
  28. 4d4 shekels and a Flying Spear of ancient and vile make. The spear can be thrown three times the normal distance. At the end of the next round it picks itself up and flies back into its master’s hand like a faithless hound dog out of some disgusting Ebeteen racing brothel.
  29. 3d8 shekels and a fine bronzed Ébéteen cuirass (medium armor, 100 shekels).

  30. 3d10 shekels and a suit of Ebeteen bondage armor (light armor, 100 shekels, advantage to certain Charisma checks).
  31. 3d12 shekels and a blood-spattered set of Ebeteen Red Plume courtesan robes (light armor, 150 shekels, hiding space for 1d4 small items).
  32. 4d6 shekels and a heavy suit of celadon and lapiz scales engraved with Poems of Vitality (heavy armor, 150 shekels, restore 1d6 hp or one level of exhaustion, once per day).
  33. 3d20 shekels and an Ebeteen prince’s oddly lascivious armored bodysuit (light armor, 150 shekels, restores virility once per day in an amusingly grotesque manner).
  34. 4d10 shekels and a biomechanical suit of armor created from a Doghead’s body stretched over a chitin pseudo-skeleton (medium armor, 150 shekels, provides advantage to Str checks).
  35. 4d8 shekels and an Ebeteen sorcerer’s ghost armor mankini (light armor, 150 shekels, absorbs one blow per day in a vulgar display of power and converts it into magical energy ready for casting). The mankini is cursed and will grumbly dreadfully at any attempts to conceal it, eating through clothes and armors, so that all may gaze upon its leopard-spotted glory.
  36. 3d10 shekels and a lapiz lazuli shield studded with small silver mirrors (200 shekels) that provides protections against heat rays and gaze attacks.
  37. 5d6 shekels and a suit of alabaster golem armor (heavy armor, 2,000 shekels, disadvantage to melee attacks and all fine movements, 30 bonus hp).
  38. 3d10 shekels and a platinum eyeball (100 shekels) inscribed three times with the Solarcity pictogram “opening, unlocking, unbarring”. It is magical and can [d4]: (1) open a door smeared in the bearer’s blood (1d4 hp), (2) awaken a corpse pumped full of fresh air (3 charges), (3) release a bound soul from an undead creature with a long, loving glance (at the cost of 1d4 points of Wisdom), (4) replace a living eye and grant the ability to see the auras of the undead even through the closed lid of a sarcophagus. The implantation procedure is painful and traumatic.

  39. 4d8 shekels and an Ivory Spine that can cure paralysis. It sinks into the flesh of the recipient, replacing the original organ and restoring mobility. The recipient gains 1d4 Constitution but loses 1d4 Dexterity.
  40. 4d10 shekels and a set of ghoul teeth set into an accursed mouth implant. The teeth meld into the mouth of their owner and regenerate 1d6 hp every time the flesh of a new sentient creature is eaten. Over time the owner loses all their hair, and their eyes shrink into small, desert-adapted slits. It’s pretty gruesome.
  41. 4d12 shekels and the gruesome Egg of the Flowering Flesh. Implanted into a body, it grows into a semi-sentient prehensile tentacle, which can be used as a third hand. The tentacle can only be removed with bloody butchery and restoration magics, even then it also causes the permanent loss of 2 points of Constitution.
  42. 5d10 shekels and the Ceramic Chest of the Livingwater Duke. This decorative cuirass is an incredibly powerful Izvoreni healing suit, which can restore a dead human to life or keep a grievously injured warrior alive. The ceramic chest sends out feelers of glistening tubing, which intertwine with the recipient’s body. Ceramic platelets and wires spread and create a body that is faster and stronger than before. Removal of the ceramic chest always results in the death of the recipient and the recipient can only wear customized armour, due to their altered body shape. The ceramic chest counts as light armor and grants a +1 bonus to Strength and Constitution. However, the wearer also becomes vulnerable to electric attacks.
  43. 4d20 shekels and an anthracite bas relief of a particularly disgusting ritual, that does actually permanently increase Dexterity by 1d4 points. It is a dreadful ritual, though, costing 2,000 shekels and requiring 3 shacklemind servants. Spoiler alert: servants don’t make it at the end.
  44. 5d8 shekels and the Singing Flute. A golden flute golem that can be commanded to sing on its own.
  45. 5d6 shekels and the Gloves of Bronze and Steel. One glove grants a +1 bonus to all melee attacks, the other grants +1 fire damage to all melee attacks. Both gloves together can be used to create fire-shadow-puppets.
  46. 140 shekels and a resilient large jug of light-green crystal filled with an amber liquid of preservation. Inside is a pair of authentic elven feet, thousands of years old. They’re just feet. Not magical or anything.
  47. 3d20 shekels and a dust-stone spearhead that whispers of a long-dead vizier who walked through walls and drank the blood of kings (250 shekels).
 Mounted on a proper haft, the spearhead can strike ghosts and other spirit creatures.
  48. 6d6 shekels and a five-pack of totally legal cut-price 10 shekel single entry passes for the Necropolis, with proper Party seals and everything.
  49. 42 shekels and a hand-signed edition of Mostly Harmless: A Guide to the Dead Among Us. Studying the book closely, and experimenting on three different undead, grants resistance to energy and blood draining attacks.
  50. 6d8 shekels and a very authentic-looking forgery granting the status of Leveller Colonel in the Iksian military, as well as two official cleansing licenses (worth 95 shekels each).
  51. 6d10 shekels and a full set of original, germ-bonded papers certifying the bearer 
as a bona fide Comrade of the Levelling Bureau, granting permanent customs-exempt de-imperializer status. How or why they seem to be completely legit is a mystery that should remain between the Hero and the Bureau.
 The Bureau also now refers to the hero by their reasonable name of Truthfire.
  52. 6d12 shekels and an original Brotherly Society of Expeditious Transportation tattoo that marks the bearer as a member of the malodorous smugglers who viciously avoid the customs and taxes due to the people of the Reasonable Republic. Being caught by the Levellers will not end well.
  53. 25 shekels, a sapphire worth 2d100 shekels, and an Iksan get-out-of-jail-free chit given for extraordinary services rendered in the liberation and redistribution of effects.
  54. 6d8 shekels and an Iksan License of Resurrection and Reanimation, a rather valuable permit.
  55. 6d10 shekels and five scrolls of Cure Symptoms, and one ceramic tile of Cure Disease.
  56. 7d8 shekels and a 33% share in a public-private partnership chartered Iskan troop boat. The other two owners are Brina, a Strupeni herbalist, and Marasa, a Kamini wool merchant.
  57. 30 shekels and a small ebony chest of mummy dust (1d10 doses). Inhaling the mummy dust gives a +1d4 Wisdom bonus for a day. Con DC 10 save or become addicted. Addiction applies a -1d4 Wisdom penalty every day without mummy dust. Might be better to sell this stuff.
  58. 4d20 shekels and an apprentice child captive named Malorop, said to be of the blood of the Glorious Architect. The child is skilled at [d4]: (1) nothing, truly an accursed child that seems to have an uncanny knack for not dying, (2) thievery and spite, (3) tailoring and the dressing of hair, (4) painting so accurate that the child looks uncannily like an incarnation of the foretold Doom Painter, who shall paint such an accurate depiction of Iks the Ninth, that it will trap the First Secretary’s soul upon the canvas, killing him.

  59. 3d12 shekels and the friendship of a BFF of the Goddess of Love you saved from certain destruction. The BFF gives you advantage to saves against poison, so long as you regularly give a small token of appreciation.
  60. 1d30 shekels and a fellow claiming to be the wandering King of Yore gave you a lodestone that will grow warm when near the Circle Gate in the Necropolis. It could be used to navigate the Necropolis.
  61. 3d10 shekels and a sultry war captive (500 shekels) named Asitomislit. The captive is a skilled [d4]: (1) merchant, (2) scribe, (3) singer, (4) medic-eunuch.

  62. 6d12 shekels and an elderly captive (200 shekels) named Nisokopatlit. The mangy slave is a capable [d4]: (1) butler, (2) gong farmer, (3) architect, (4) poisoner. Poisoner? That could be dangerous.
  63. 2d6 shekels and a couple of sultry captives (400 shekels) named Begotodip and Begesemip. They are [d4]: (1) deft thieves, (2) bumbling bricklayers, (3) mournful morticians, (4) an aristocratic brother and sister with a powerful revenant looking out for them.
  64. 2d6 x 10 shekels and a captive spear-lover (150 shekels) named Bogetenimat, of [d4]: (1) exceptional beauty, (2) heart-breaking ferocity, (3) violent moods, (4) dark and hidden secrets involving a flesh parasite given into their keeping by the Hidden Priests of the Flesh God.
  65. 1d6 x 10 shekels and an Izvoreni slave named Odtod, who is an [d4]: (1) accomplished mechanic, (2) grand historian, (3) capable administrator, (4) golem pilot.
  66. 4d20 shekels and a Doghead slave named Misi, of [d4]: (1) magnificently soft fur, (2) gloriously sharp teeth, (3) a silent and inscrutable mien, and a talent for avoiding traps and ambushes, (4) incredible intelligence and potential that will be utterly wasted if she is kept as a mere slave (if turned into a PC, roll 5d6 and drop lowest two dice to generate Intelligence).
  67. 2d20 shekels and an attack ghoul (AC 12, HD 2+2, vicious) on a chain, along with a lapiz command wand blood-bonded to a lazuli nail driven into the ghoul’s brain. The ghoul is named Kritibotek.
  68. 3d12 shekels and a luxuriously furred dancing Doghead slave named Boba. The dancing slaves gives advantage on morale and fear saves.
 Why you would make a Doghead slave dance in the middle of a tomb … I don’t know. I just don’t know.
  69. 4d12 shekels and a comfort golem (AC 10, HD 2, elegant) named Ease-becomes-you. The golem is immensely and intensely skilled and pneumatic.
  70. 1d8 x 10 shekels and a slave skeleton (AC 12, HD 2, bronze-plated) named Clackers.
  71. 1d100 shekels and the souls of 2d20 hapless Ebeteen that died in the accidental burning of a beerhouse that may have been caused by the ‘hero’. Not like vengeful shades of the dead would ever pursue the hero. Oh, also acquired a large dunite beer stein that magically refills itself with blood red ale every sunset and every sunrise.
  72. 5d12 shekels and an invisible servant named Cherob, who whispers suggestions about dangers and threats (advantage to perception and insight). Cherob may be imaginary. Cherob sometimes whispers downright creepy suggestions.
  73. 7d10 shekels and five pieces of rancid space pie. The space pie grants disadvantage on physical checks for a few hours, but also invisibility to undead.
  74. 7d6 shekels and four sachets of blue lotus. Each sachet grants 1d4 temporary spell slots and disadvantage on all perception checks for a day.
  75. 7d8 shekels and four cakes of red chung. Each cake grants 1d6 temporary hit points and disadvantage on all persuasion checks for a day.
  76. 7d12 shekels and three vials of medicinal mercury tincture. Each vial gives advantage on poison and disease saves for a day.

  77. 7d4 shekels and two bottles of rational water. Each bottle grants immunity to one drain attack for a day.

  78. 2d4 x 10 shekels and six saving grace lilies. Drunk as a herbal infusion, they give advantage on acrobatics checks and dexterity saves for a day.

  79. 1d4 x 20 shekels and two cakes of motor chung. The cakes give advantage on initiative checks for a day. They are addictive (Wis DC 10) and expensive (100 shekels per cake).
  80. 5d12 shekels and a full bottle of Vim, twenty big gulps’ worth. Drinking a gulp of vim gives advantage on the next attack or save. Only one gulp is active at a time.
  81. 5d20 shekels and two full tins of pre-packaged VigorTM. VigorTM is a processed meat product created from the offal of the Living God Itself. Lightly grilled it fully restores a sick or injured person to health, and as a burnt offering it can reattach a soul to a body.
  82. 10d10 shekels and three Mortadellas of the Immortal Flesh, processed from Godmeat by the cannibalistic Ebeteen. Conveniently, each mortadella can be thinly sliced to restore up to 20 hit points in 1 hit point increments. A single slice can also purify water. Weird, yes.
  83. 4d6 shekels and a god-debt deed to a studio apartment, fit for one, in the Diorite Port (40 shekels per year)
  84. Four copper pots and a god-debt deed to a slum tenement, fit for ten or a hundred, in the Diorite Port (300 shekels per year).
  85. 8d12 shekels and a god-debt deed to a small farm with a few slave tenants in the Delta. Could be a cushy retirement (200 shekels per year).
  86. 100 shekels and a god-debt tablet to a fine house, fit for ten free humans, in the Bronze Heavenly Bullock district of Ébét (250 shekels per year).

  87. 1d4 shekels and a god-debt deed to the hamlet of Under the Feet of the Destroyer of the Impudent (500 shekels per year) in the estuary of the River of Life. A hero can resell the deed or retire to live the life of a landed liberator. The impudent Ébéteen peasantry will probably not be friendly.

  88. 1d10 shekels and a blood-stained cloak of silken darkness that grants advantage against melee attacks in the dark, the cloak is also embroidered with a map of the Tombstone Trees of the Scribes (all scenes are known, advantage to open a few locks and disable several traps).
  89. 1d100 shekels and a map of the Streaked Ziggurat of the Watching Cat (all scenes are known, advantage to open a few locks and disable several traps) tattooed onto a skin-fish mask. Wearing the mask grants limited waterbreathing.
  90. 7 shekels and seven sticks that turn into seven serpents (AC 13, HD 1, venomous) that slither into a map of the Glass Pyramids of the Six Piece Queen (all scenes known, advantage against a few locks and traps).
  91. 5d12 shekels and a golden rod that protects the holder against paralysis and has a map of the Gilt Domes of the Eunuch Princes (all scenes known, advantage against a few locks and traps).
  92. 4d10 shekels and an unbreakable porcelain mask. If fed the blood of a virgin beast, the porcelain mask can turn its owner’s face bright crimson for a day.
  93. 8d10 shekels and a dragon ivory amulet of the Ghost-rank that gives advantage to hit noncorporeal creatures.
  94. 93 shekels worth of gold dust and a jade and gold phylactery, ready to receive a hero’s heart. While a hero’s heart is in the phylactery, the hero’s body is vulnerable to turning and exorcism, but even if reduced to 0 hp, the hero’s soul flees to the phylactery and can possess a new ‘willing’ body.
  95. 9d10 shekels and a map of a Kingdom of Heaven accessible through a submerged visage. The map is engraved upon the reflecting eyes of a feathered snake (AC 14, HD 2, bite of Sleep).
  96. 9d10 shekels and an ancient golem-powered war chainsaw (disadvantage on melee attack, deals 3d6 damage on hit, double against zombies, cleaving weapon).
  97. 99 shekels and an unholy parasite of the Dead Flesh God. Ingesting the parasite permanently reduces Constitution by 1d4 points, doubles the healing rate and provides complete immunity from magical corruption. Ebeteen curses are twice as effective against the parasite host. Additionally, the parasite can hold one spell in its neural net. If the host’s hp drop to 0, the parasite will try to take control (Wis save DC 14). If the parasite takes control, create a second character for the parasite. The parasite wants to reanimate the Dead Flesh God, but has no idea how to do that, being a mere bundle of impulses and mind control protocols.
  98. 10d10 shekels, the god-debt deed to a strong and stable plucky little temple (50 shekels per year) and an original copy of the recipe for opium of the masses, the cheaper substitute for reason. It can be used to produce a panacea that provides resistance against depression, ennui, and mortal terror—the perfect tool for a charlatan.
  99. A small chest filled with bloody gems and gore-smeared pearls of exquisite value (worth 1d100 x 1,000 shekels) and a god-debt deed, legally transferred to the hero with signatures in blood, for a barony on the shores of the Cyan sea (20,000 shekels per annum). If the hero chooses to retire immediately, give the next character a suspiciously rich uncle and 10x the starting cash.
  100. The hero came out of the looting with nothing, save a simple linen smock or robe. All their shekels, all their equipment, disappeared in a rainbow haze. A vague sense of dreadful certainty fills the hero that all material things are mere illusions. The hero is now completely immune to all diseases, curses, and demonic possession. Additionally, the hero acquires equal XP for ritually destroying wealth, as for carousing (save that ritual wealth destruction carries no risks of mishap).


Ultraviolet Grasslands: 100 Misfortunes on the Road

This is an excerpt and remix of rules from the Ultraviolet Grasslands. My patreon-supported psychedelic metal space rock steppe crawl rpg thing. I know, I know. I slightly change the description every time. Bear with me, it's too long to remember!

A key design goal of the Ultraviolet Grasslands is to make a rule-and-content kit for running a really long-distance RPG adventure. I'm talking transcontinental distances. A large part of that involves adjusting time (weeks) and supplies (simplified) to make long distances feasible. Another part is borrowing from games like Oregon Trail (or more recently, Death Road to Canada), to make the dangers of long journeys in horrible conditions more tangible for the heroes.

Thus: Misfortune.

I use Charisma as a proxy for luck (and divine providence) and use weekly Charisma checks or saves against relatively easy target numbers (DCs) to see who gets in what trouble. I also warn players in advance that this kind of shit will happen in the adventure. If they take precautions, buy extra supplies, and generally take wilderness travel seriously, I let them use their survival skills to help their roll.

Suggestion: Let each character save individually, then roll for a single misfortune for the whole group. Imagine the joy of half the party clumsily wandering into a cactus patch to relieve themselves during the night. Thanks to Frotz Self and David Shugars for the suggestion.

Here is a compilation of 100 misfortunes from the Ultraviolet grasslands.
  1. The hero caught sight of the Face of Death. Their body is translated into a salty burn shadow and a flickering soul-echo of their existence remains suspended in the air. Nothing short of a Wishful Dream or Wish can restore them, for their human essence has been ripped into the shreds of the Ignored Tower’s distortion. Singed possessions and belongings remain, tossed as by a grim tide.
  2. Got the runny blues, a depressive digestive disorder (-1d6 Dex and Con).
  3. Picked up tendril tapeworms.
  4. Got an infected sore on the muddy road.
  5. Pick-pocket attack, lost something precious.
  6. Fell in love with a swamp wisp.
  7. Nice shoes ruined in a deceptive bog.
  8. Luckless character sprains an ankle (+1 day).
  9. Lose 1 slot of supplies to a sharp-toothed rodent pack.
  10. Catch a rattling cough. Noisy, but harmless. A patent medicine (5 cash) should cure it.
  11. Bitten by a scorpion spider trying to make a home in a smelly boot (poison, Con save DC 3d6, disadvantage on physical checks for Δ6 days).
  12. Unfortunate hero sprains shoulder (+1 day).
  13. Lose a beast to a pack of wild dogs.
  14. Get a bladder infection (-1d4 Str).
  15. Infested with ash-lice (-1d4 Wis).
  16. Metal armor has rusted (-1 AC bonus).
  17. Red eye from the irritating dust (-1d4 Dex).
  18. Preventable with proper eyewear.
  19. Horrible blisters (limping).
  20. Beast found with seventeen two-inch cubes cut out of its flesh, it is severely weakened (+2 days or leave it behind).
  21. Nasty nettle burns (-1d4 Dex).
  22. Sat in an ant nest (-1d4 Cha).
  23. Ripped pants on some cinder slag.
  24. Infected cut on hand from sharp shard (-1d4 hp).
  25. Δ4 supplies pilfered by monkey-handed canids.
  26. Sat on a cactus (-1d4 Con).
  27. Hat blown away by sudden gust.
  28. Those pretty flowers in that garland? Totally poisonous (Con save DC 2d6), left a rash, too (-1 Cha).
  29. Ecstatically beautiful flower patch, could lose track of time here (+1 days, +50 XP, -2 Con from exposure).
  30. Biomech razorfly swarm forces everyone to hunker down. Lose 1d4 days or 2d6 hp.
  31. Mount steps into a puddle of Source and suddenly undergoes violent source code corruption.
  32. Lost in the high grass. Lose 1d4 days, roll on Misfortune and Encounter again. Also, lost a shoe to a thirsty tangle shrub.
  33. Hit in the eye by a speck of windblown biomech garbage. Ouch. -1d4 hp and -1d4 Dex. Blinded in one eye until treated by a proper medic.
  34. Infected thornstone wound. Lose 1 Con per day until healed (Cure Disease or equivalent).
  35. Lightning strike, DC 14 Dex save, 2d10 damage or lose a henchman or beast of burden.
  36. Dreadful winds slow progress, lose 1 day and DC 12 Con save or catch the dusting cough.
  37. Baking heat exhausts travelers, lose 1d4 Con.
  38. Baking heat and sweat means a bad saddle rash, lose 1d4 Dex.
  39. Slept in the soil of a radiation ghost, lose 1d6 Str.
  40. Bitten by a rabid steppe wolf, Con DC 10 save or diseased. Wis DC 15 save and three rations could get you a steppe wolf pet. Fears magic carpets.
  41. A princely toll is levied for semi-legal goods. 20% or 50 cash, whichever is more. Or fight a porcelain patrol.
  42. Sharp porcelain splinter leaves festering foot wound, slowed, lose 1d4 days.
  43. Lightning strike throws up biomantic spores, Con DC 2d6+2 or diseased. Mutations possible.
  44. Massive static field raises glowing dusts, that bring bad coughs and sleep deprivation, lose 1d6 Con.
  45. Bad cinder storm sends sharp debris flying, lose 1 day or 1d6 hp.
  46. Tiny poison golem in boot, can be trained. Poison DC 3d6, requires refill after each attack. Quite stupid.
  47. 1d4 supplies worth of water lost to a freak desiccating gust incident.
  48. Shard of the Dark Mirror lodged in one eye, letting the hero always see the worst in people. Sort of like a permanent Detect nastiness ability that won’t turn off. Curse removal recommended.
  49. Booming rust storm flenses caravan and leaves ringing in the ears. Lose 1d4 days.
  50. 1d6 pieces of metal equipment rust beyond use. Even magical items rust in this area.
  51. Stumble and cut self on the weathered grave of a machine folk hero, taking 1d8 damage from an ancient weapon. The grave contains porcelain eyes worth 1d6 x 100 cash and a magic, un-rusting weapon. It has no other power. It just never rusts.
  52. Nasty concussion from walking head-down into an unexpected arch of salt (Lose 1d6 hp and 1d6 Intelligence).
  53. Broken leg from stumbling over a scree pile. Still, better than looking on the Face of Death (Lose 1d8 and 1d6 Str and Dex).
  54. Pack animal caught in the gaze of the Face of Death. It’s gone now, all the goods it carried singed, but still about half-salvageable.
  55. Thick haze-storm obscures the Face of Death, making travel easier, though the smog plays havoc on the lungs (Gain 1d4 days, but lose 1d4 hp).
  56. Strap, belt, thong, shoe-lace or other tie snaps at the worst moment, and in the fall a fragile object breaks. If the hero has no fragile objects, then they packed well and get through intact.
  57. Horrible, bloody blisters (limping and -1d4 hp). Could get infected.
  58. Picked up lenticular worms. Great.
  59. Lit a campfire on top of an enormous deposit of methane-rich ‘deposits’ left by some gargantuan herbivore (Dex DC 2d10 or lose 1d10 hp),
  60. Found a wonderful little oasis, full of delicious fish and black light lotus (+1d4 Cha for a week, get a week’s worth of rest, lose 1d6 days).
  61. A spell or memory disappears into the dead land (lose one known spell or skill permanently, or until a Restoration is used).
  62. Dry, flaky rash strikes hard (-1d4 Charisma).
  63. 1d4 slots of supplies lost to the dust.
  64. Chitin-cap spores infected a steed, laming it.
  65. Lost in the dull, repetitive land. Have you walked past that abandoned village before? Maybe? (-1d4 days).
  66. Rested in a peaceful farming village, but it turned out to be a ghostly echo of the Times of the Liberated Serf Dictatorship (lose 1 day and 1d4 supplies).
  67. Water runs out in the empty land (-2 supplies).
  68. Sudden snow storm (-1d4+1 days).
  69. Swarming blood-sucking flies (-1 Con).
  70. Abandoned rodent warren snaps a steed’s leg. Oops.
  71. Restful grove with beautiful spring. Oh, wait, the spring water was contaminated with the effluvia of Ultra ghosts (lose 1 day and 1 supplies in a hallucinated fug).
  72. A random weapon or armor fell off the danged pack animal. Back over there. Somewhere. It’s gone now in the sea of grass.
  73. Fell through an eroded shell midden into a subterranean cavern (-1d4 supplies or lose 1d6 Dex and Con).
  74. Unexpected hailstorm (-1 days or -1d4 hp).
  75. Soporific pine trees put party to sleep (-1d3 days).
  76. A beast of burden wanders off (lose beast or -1 day to retrieve it).
  77. Caught a nasty cold (sniffling and sneezing for 1d6 days).
  78. Cash pilfered by a tribe of uplifted, greedy prairie dogs (-1d100 cash).
  79. Attacked by blood-draining vampire grass in the night (-1d8 hp).
  80. Harsh, stiff winds make progress slow (-1d4 days).
  81. Mechanical or magical device breaks down from the odd electromagical fields.
  82. Carnivorous grasses entangle a beast in the night (lose beast or 1d4 supplies).
  83. Got a nasty infection from a sharp sedge cut (-1d4 Con).
  84. Camped on a nasty ant mound (lose 1d4 hp).
  85. Swept away by a flash flood, throw away up to six posessions and roll d6. If you roll equal to or below the number of discarded possessions you wash up 1d4 days away, unhurt. If you roll over, you drown.
  86. Struck by lightning, lose half hit points and one metal item is destroyed.
  87. Pack animal sickens in the light of the Near Moon and begins to show lycanthropic tendencies. Lose 1d4 days treating animal, or lose the animal.
  88. Catch a nasty cold from the icy waters (lose 1d4 Con).
  89. Supplies get wet (lose 1d4 supplies).
  90. One of your rings was actually magical and it slips away from your finger as you are crossing, to be found years later by a fisher-dwarf named Smehol. But that is another story.
  91. Nauseated by the odd tides (lose 1d6 Con and Wis).
  92. Lost your cloak and hat to a freak wind.
  93. Fell into a bog and caught a cold (sneezing), also ruined a fine silk kerchief, if you have one.
  94. Acquired a fantastic belief that you are a lycanthrope and require raw, bloody meat to feed your inner beast. This passes once you are out of sight of the moon.
  95. Torn waterskins (lose 1 supply) and horribly bitten by bugs in the night (lose 1d4 Dex).
  96. Flash flood washes away 1d4 beasts (or people if the beasts run out). Saving a beast requires a Str DC 15 check (or related skill). Fail the check badly enough and the hero might be pulled in too. Same DC.
  97. Muddy bog and ravines wash out trail, forcing a detour that wastes 1d4 days.
  98. Bad sunburn from the violet rays (lose 1d6 hp).
  99. Wind blows away one book, map, scroll, or other inconvenient parchment.
  100. Supplies soaked while crossing an unexpectedly rough ford (lose 1d4 supplies).
If you like this kind of content, or if you like my art, or if you feel like just dropping a dollar or two my way for some odd post-euclidean reason, I will greatly appreciate it. On my patreon I release a block of UVG content almost monthly, and Patreons will also get a free, polished and properly laid out .pdf copy of it once it is completed. Hopefully in about 4–6 more releases.


Ultraviolet Grasslands Area 17: New Moon

This is an excerpt from the upcoming update to my psychedelic doom metal para-apocalyptic RPG and art romp through the Ultraviolet Grasslands. The Stratometaship welcomes all in its voyages through the Rainbowlands.

Whispers only came to the Violet City of this oddity, a spherical moon come to Earth, suspended less than a bow-shot above the ashen soil of the Grassland. The mile-high sphere, dusty and cratered, mocks astounded travelers.

“By the Black Bosom of Vulkana! That thing is enormous!” exclaimed PT.

“Yes, the cosmographers believe the stuck-force holding it in place must be the largest in the world,” recited Poncho from the guidebook.

“Ah, throw that to the fish! That moon has room inside for treasures that would melt the hearts of the simpering sopranos of Saffranj!”


A blue-glow haze is the only light until noon, when the sun emerges, washed out and colorless, its rays are still fierce and burning. No water falls in the vicinity of the Near Moon, but in the eternal twilight beneath its bulk dank waters pool and bogs spread.

Misfortune (Charisma save DC 13, roll d6):

nauseated by the odd tides (lose 1d6 Con and Wis).
lost your cloak and hat to a freak wind.
fell into a bog and caught a cold (sneezing), also ruined a fine silk kerchief, if you have one.
acquired a fantastic belief that you are a lycanthrope and require raw, bloody meat to feed your inner beast. This passes once you are out of sight of the moon.
torn waterskins (lose 1 supply).
horribly bitten by bugs in the night (lose 1d4 Dex).


10 cash per week to stay in the Spectrum Lodge.


North-West, Moon to Spectrum Run (trail, ∆4 weeks): a well-marked trail leads towards the Spectrum Palace and the Ribs of the Father.

North-East, Moon River Ford (moon-haunted trail, ∆4 weeks): the accursed faces of forgotten times glare west and travelers fear to raise their eyes lest those grim visages steal their souls.

Encounters (d6):

  1. a ka-elemental (AC 10, HD 10, insubstantial) stalking in maddened decay, leaving ectoplasmic debris as it seeks a lost body to reposses, unmoored in its rage by the action of the moon’s odd tides. It is known that ka-elementals are often tied to ill-fortuned tombs and sites of some slaughter, perhaps valuable slaughter (2dx6 x 200 cash). 
  2. mysterious moonbirds (AC 14, HD 6, flock) descend in a mind-stealing flock and feed on strong emotional emanations. Sufficient moonbird feeding can cause ka-zombies (living dead). 
  3. ka-zombies (AC 10, HD 2, docile) tilling fields or working at repetitive tasks for their moonling taskmasters. 
  4. a friend-group of tin-hatted moonlings or moon quarterlings (AC 14, HD 2, good at throwing rocks) discussing ka-zombie maintenance and how to build a better moon-rock bubble-burrow. 
  5. a local clan of fisher quarterlings offering dried fish, nasty gossip, and cut purses - or, to nice people, a totally safe and dry burrow to sleep in. 
  6. a Spectrum Satrap self defence initiative (AC 18, HD 2, heavy) on patrol from a fordite coral kraals. 

Odd Tide Effects

Besides just severe nausea, the odd tides of the Near Moon, as it strains against the bonds and aeons old magical detritus that holds it close to the soil, also have other effects (roll d6 when the weather changes or once per week):
  1. soul dislocation: the tethers between souls and personalities are weakened, giving disadvantage to all Wis and Cha saves during this period. 
  2. troubled sleep: rest is half as effective and disadvantage to all Con checks. 
  3. delirious tides: disadvantage to all Int checks. 
  4. moon-walkers: all Dex checks have advantage. 
  5. bloody tides: all damage dealt with advantage, healing checks and rest half as effective. 
  6. days of inspiration: all Int and Cha checks have advantage.
The Ultraviolet Grasslands is a a psychedelic heavy metal rpg sandbox module to take a group of blundering PCs (or heroes) into the depths of the Ultraviolet Grassland in search of wealth and booty to pay back their adventuring loans. It started out with my tentative Patreon for people to donate a few bucks to my illustrations. Over time, I realized that I do not like getting direct monthly patronage and prefer money for content. The current model of the WTF Patreon is that I release a block of content, game world and art, when it's ready. Usually once a month.

If this sounds good to you, or you just know me because of all that art I get up to in other places, give it a try. It's potentially a lot more than a cup of coffee, which just goes to show you have great taste in games, writing, and—obviously—art.


Hey, Don't You Have a New Blog & Ooh, Bookie!

No, I'm not shutting this blog down just yet. For now the new one (www.wizardthieffighter.com - go and book it) is focused on being a hub for hosting the stuff I draw that has an "epic" whiff of DnD, Grapeshot and Metal.


Do you want brains in machines, egotistical hedge wizards and a curio shop gone bad? Maybe not, but I'm telling you to check out this pay-what-you-want adventure by John Carlson anyway: http://www.drivethrurpg.com/product/198834/Automata-Run-Amok


Because it's fun. And because I illustrated it (but did not write the deputy). So go look at it.

I've also expounded on how it was made and why you might be interested: (http://www.wizardthieffighter.com/2016/6-automata-of-john-carlson/). It also has paper-geekery, where I detail the paper I used and the pens and suchlike.

Oh, and to make you feel better, here's a colored promotional detail of one of the pieces I drew for the adventure:


Art of WizardThiefFighter Gets its Own Site!

As of today, my G+ collection AoWTF has hit 521 posts. A respectable number, indeed.

Such a number, that even I have trouble navigating through them!

Well, from now on this will be much easier, as they will begin to move, along with some additional content (and ads, and donation boxes, and links, and patreon stuff) to www.wizardthieffighter.com.

Seriously, go there. Look at it. Marvel at it. Ride the Stratometaship.


Quaalude Iron Wicker Druid Man

  1. or a Ritual of Harvest Appeasement Gone Awry
  2. or Where Have All The Longpigs Gone
  3. or Who Said Druids Are Nature Lovers
  4. or Burn the Forest Feed the Fires
  5. or Ia Ia Treantu Ftagn.
  6. or Iron Man Shall Walk Again In The Sizzling Blood of the Unclean


D&D is not a game. It's games.


A few days ago I joined a largish 5E D&D group on Facebook and I was ... astounded. For a few days I clicked around, participated in a few discussions, and most of the people were normal and quite polite. So far so good.

But still. Astounded. I've run 60 sessions of more-or-less D&D 5E. Sure, there are house rules - what game isn't house ruled? - but the game we run is certainly 5E compatible. It's also OSR compatible, with everything from DCO to DFD and SUD getting played.

And there I kept asking myself, what game are these people playing? Who are these dungeon masters? These games sound nothing like my games! The core books held as laws to be followed. The constant call to "CR" and "balanced encounters" and "challenges" and calls to "fudge dice".

My mind is completely boggled. D&D is supposedly a game where your imagination provides an unlimited special effects budget ... and here I saw it reduced to accounting over and over again.

I vented my astonishment on the G+ OSR group - again managing a pretty normal and polite discussion. Good job folks.

My Bard

The whole experience with accountant-D&D reminded me of one experience, years ago, when I tried to join a group at a game shop. I'd been DMing for years and I looked forward to being able to play a bit. So ... the DM lets me know the basics, level, setting, stuff like that. I roll up a bard.

I show up at the table and all the other players begin complaining, 

"Oh, God! A bard!"

"Bards are totally underpowered!"

"Bards can't fulfil any role, they don't even make good support!"

We came to the first encounter, some orcs at a barricade. I announce that I try to talk to them. The DM stares at me, "But they're orcs!"

I respond, "Yeah, but I'm a bard with an epic lute and I can try to soothe the savage beast."

All the other players look at me darkly. The DM looks at me darkly.

My bard offers parley, the orcs accept. The bard stands up and starts to talk. The DM rolls some dice and announces, "Five arrows hit you. 22 damage."

My bard was down.

The party charged into battle and killed the orcs. My bard bled out.

"Now you can roll a character that can help the team fight."

I left the group. F**k if I was going to waste time moving minis around square rooms shooting orcs with a wand of magic missiles Mk 3 for four levels until I got fireballs and could do the same thing but against appropriately higher CR monsters.

D&D is Not A Game

Finally, the heart of the post. During that OSR discussion (and also thanks to this here post on RPG combat as war vs. combat as sport) I became aware more acutely of something. When you get together with friends to play chess or monopoly, you know exactly what game you will be playing and what the victory conditions are.

But not with D&D.

Because D&D is not actually a single game. It's actually more a type of play activity, within which different games are played. Let's look at the games (pl.) of D&D.
  1. An overland exploration / travel game that is literally Outdoor Survival from Avalon. The so-called Hexcrawling. This is a game I never managed to play successfully at my sessions, by the way! (with resource management system 1 - over long periods)
  2. A combat game that comes originally from Chainmail, which was a miniature war game (and I think that's where the accounting war game tension comes from). (with very short term resource management)
  3. An exploration / mapping game where players delve into a dungeon. This is where the grid squares come from (it was easier to get grid paper to draw architectural-ish labyrinths!) and this is the game that is well spoofed in Munchkin. (with resource management system 2 - over short periods)
  4. A hero simulation game, where the PCs go from zero (or level 1) to hero over the course of several sessions. This is where the whole experience thing comes from.
  5. A game of improv, which is the DMs funny voices and the actual role-playing - which are surprisingly completely untethered from rules in actual D&D. At least some basic improv tenets would be useful here.
I actually think this is pretty great. It means that you can take this House of Games (HOG) and cherry-pick your play experience. It's also pretty easy to add additional games to the D&D play house:
  1. A 'domain' game of geopolitics, which might as well be replaced with Diplomacy or a similar simple strategy game.
  2. A world-building / history-building game, which could be either wholly narrative or set up as a card game (I think Microscope does something like this).
  3. In-game gambling / fortune-telling with cards, dice and more.
  4. A dungeon or city-building game with lego bricks and dice.
  5. A music game of trying to find the perfect song on Youtube to fit a given scene / character / battle or result (I actually do this at the game and give XP for players who come up with great music).
This big playhouse means that there are different things for different people to enjoy and actually think reducing D&D to just one or two of any of these components diminishes it. Honestly, it's not a great exploration game, and it's not even that great a combat game! But, the mix and the openness of games it allows, this is amazing (I suspect even the founders of D&D didn't realize exactly what kind of play house they had created). By the same token, taking the subsystems of the game and trying to reduce them to the same rule system does not necessarily work well.

What I do think is a problem is that D&D as presented in the game books isn't up-front and open about this situation! It clearly refers to D&D as a game, but then says that "the game has no real end".

No, of course it doesn't have a real game! Why? Because the "campaign" is just a themed play-time. We're playing Feyrun [sic] or Greyskull [sic] or Mordorland Blues because it gives a mental reference frame to our actual games of "kill the annoying archmage Elfminister" or "explore the ruins of Aetheria to find the Magic Sword of Swordiness" or "banter and jibe in an improvised rhyming competition among oppressed railroad worker orcs while listening to music"

So ... phew. Not sure exactly where to take this forward, but the Games not Game realization has opened my eyes to possibilities. Now, since you read so far, some music from Dio (and Rainbow):


All PCs are Thieves

Over the past five months I've drawn over 144 wizards, thieves and fighters. Characters, vignettes and accompanying texts. A number I've also published here.

The Wizards were easy. They're madmen, plumbing the depths of creation, seeking knowledge humanity was not meant to know, bringing magic, science and weirdness into the fantasy rpg. A wizard as an opponent in a game of D&D is the perfect opponent. It takes so little to make them wrong. The corruption of magic can make dispatching a wizard, even one who is good at heart, an act of mercy. No hero needs feel bad about dispatching a wizard.

The Fighters were also easy. They represent power, hierarchy, strength, domination. A wizard breaks the rules of reality to get to the top, a fighter is the top. Two heroes walk into a ring, one comes out. That is the fighter. A fighter represents the Man and it is so easy for the power of the fighter to corrupt. After all, there can be only one.

But Thieves. Making thief-type opponents is hard, because by their nature they are not the opponents of PCs. They are not kshatriyas or brahmins, they are not in positions of power, they do not seek to spit in the eyes of gods and demons with their magics. They are the underdogs. Ordinary folks getting by on guts and guile.

Thieves are essentially all adventurers. At best, they are competitors, but not opponents.

Prometheus. Heinrich Füger 1817
Prometheus. Anansi. Loki. Robin Hood. Reynard the Fox. Bilbo. Aladdin. Sinbad. Odysseus. Theseus. Conan. Brier Rabbit. Coyote. Bart Simpson. The Doctor. Bugs Bunny. Benjamin. All of them are "Thieves" and "Upstarts" against the order. Against the Man. Sneaking into the Scary Wizard's Temple to steal a ruby. Overthrowing a tyrant king. Going against the giants. Assassinating a hobgoblin holy man to prevent the downtrodden goblinoid masses rising up against the rightful elven aristocracy.

The only thieves are the ones who overthrow the tyrant and then put themselves in his place, becoming the Man, the Wizard, the Priest.

At the core of the D&D adventure is a group of down-on-their-lucks making it in the big world. Rising up, against all odds. To do this they use guile, trickery, guts and if they don't die, they achieve glory. In essence, it doesn't matter if a 1st level character is a barbarian or a bard or a warlord (terrible class name, by the way), they're all thieves.

And that's why setting thieves as opponents is kind of crappy. They're thieves because they're the underdogs and have to fight a sneaky battle against those in power. And that's why following Elminster the All-powerful's instructions is kind of lame, because it's just doing what the authority tells you.

The PCs are in a fantasy world where they can overturn everything at no cost. And now, they're going to follow orders from the Man to keep things the way they are. How boring!

Subvert the order! Bring down the Fighters and the Wizards that keep the common goblin down!

d12 Table: As you leave the Popular Noble King Wizard's Audience Chamber

  1. a maiden slips you a discrete silk purse that holds a crystal rose and a scented letter alleging that the king has had six secret sons imprisoned in a crypt beneath the citadel of City Over.
  2. a group of petitioners with magic cabbage growing from their ears are beaten away from the doors by the NKW Police.
  3. an NKW security wagon rumbles by, three captured goblins inside, destined for the NKW processing facility five.
  4. a merchant comes to you, offering to pay for goblin futures on scalps you'll collect cleaning the New Expanse of their troublesome hides. He'll give you 50% on the rate, so you can armour before you go to the New Expanse.
  5. a group of peasants with placards protesting the price freeze on turnips imposed by the NKW to fight speculators and kulaks. A group of Official Trading House accountants laughs at them from their coach and throw turnip pies at them.
  6. a nobly accoutred knight pulls you aside and mentions that if you do well in clearing out the Marble Quarries of Marmarra of the filthy kobold raiders, he may have a job protecting the tax collectors in the Western Ranch Reach.
  7. an astrologer attorney offers additional money if you also bring her any patent amulets on farms and mines that the goblins might have stolen in their raids. The goblins don't realize that these trinkets are valuable, if properly argued in the NKW property protection courts.
  8. a preacher stands on a box ranting about the inhumanity of the filthy hobgoblins in the New Expanse, who continue to pollute the Good Folk with their robbery and brigandage and breeding like rabbits and bringing sexual diseases and corrupting young folk with filthy notions and stealing young men for their lust matriarchs. The ranting goes on. And on.
  9. a noble scribe comes to mention that he knows a specialist interested in live goblins as test subjects (for a spell that will allow for the more effective fumigation of the New Expanses) and will pay 'andsomely for them. He passes an address in the Fine Warehouse Quarter of City Magnificence.
  10. a woman in a great dun coat whispers if you want any illegal goblin tech to help you out, maybe some of their cryptic mesomorphic keys to help you out in the Rainbow Ruins?
  11. a troop of proud young recruits, chests puffed and wearing the silver and red livery of the Righteous Fighters of the NKW march back and forth in the parade square, groups of young fine women swoon delicately, peddlers offer snacks, shoe shining and grooming for pennies.
  12. a number of drunken NKW university students accost several half-goblin slaves and beat them with smelly salamis while onlookers cheer and wager.


30wizards - The Soft Cloud

The Soft Cloud

HD 5-5 - massive but soft
AC 8 - pillowy
Atk 1d4-1 - intoxicating, gentle and filling

Glorious ruler gently rests, smoking the Pipe of Djinn on the Throne of Little Three-Eyed Thralls while contemplating the world through the colour haze of trans-plutonian existence.


  • Little Three-Eyed Thralls - numerous, cute, lasagna-eating menaces. A vigorous shakeup of their hierarchy is a common spectator sport. HD 1-1, AC 13, Atk 1d4 poisoned lasagna, see your embarrassing secret.
  • Chair Golem - immobile but unforgetting, golem immunities from below and behind. HD 2, AC 18.


  • Pipe of Djinn - summons gin vapors and communicates with a Djinn named Eugene. Intoxicating
  • Colour Haze of Trans-Plutonian Existence - a void-traversing communication-enabling spell. Enlightenment brings confusion. Confusion brings release. Answers are questions wreathed in purple.

Someone has stolen my Throne and now the Thralls won’t carry me!

  1. It was Pneumato, the Gas Wizard!
  2. Perhaps it was just misplaced in Trans-Plutonia?
  3. It’s a Thrall Revolution! Lasagna for the masses!
  4. There is no throne. The pipe is corrupted.

Eugene the Djinn has a well-laid business proposition for a gin franchise. It will be a success.

  1. I will never let him go! He’s my only friend!
  2. Gin?! Who would ever drink that! Folly!
  3. The Polly Pogue Gang won’t stand for that. It has a nice Cracker Jack racket going.
  4. But to release him, some gentle virgin must drink the Aetherial Gin Prison! It turns mortals into (1) rainbows, (2) potatoes, (3) water nymphs, (4) cheese, (5) iron golems and (6) a shrubbery.


SUD: Session 3 - Three Wizard Time

Three Wizards Walk (and are Carried) About

Dramatis personae:

  • The Astrolomancer, a quarterling astrolomancer with a tarot deck, some crappy illusion spells and the summoning spell from lotfp
  • The Psychotropic Neomarxist Healer, a priest of empowerment with a lot of psychotropic herbs and a few crappy healing spells
  • The Pretty Pot, a magic pot with an unseen servant, charm spells and the ability to brew potions inside itself.

... after becoming friends with the slothrog and releasing it. They wander into the Reaver Camp. After putting on a harmonica duel with one of the pirates, sharing some long pig, charming another pirate and singing an epic poem in praise of Fooloo, first mate, they are acclaimed as true friends. The pirates pay them for the entertainment and the charmed pirate, 'Chunky', joins as a henchman carrying The Pot.

They arrive at the Golden Barge and spot the skeletons on it. After denting the barge, a skeleton comes to fix it. With mending, they help fixing it. They engage the skeleton in conversation and soon prove that they too abhor "the flesh demons" and point to the pot, the mending and some illusion magics as proof. After demonstrating their "non-fleshiness" to some more skeletons they are allowed in.

The skeletons take them to see the "Great Machine Mind", while equipping them with some sentient snacks to deliver. At the foot of the great staircase they run into the great ape dropping barrels on them. After very little thought the Astrolomancer summons an arachnid demon from the great icy seas of chaos that is 'immune to all physical attacks'. It promptly breaks free of his control.

Making themselves scarce (crappy illusions, darkness, phantasmal barrier and some other stuff) the summoned demon goes after the ape. Bypassing the whole battle they enter the "Control Chamber" where they find the odd-headed supercilious and sniffy creature with a vibro axe trying to activate the "mind-machine-interface-helmet". Eventually they lure the demon inside and close the door behind them, while they rest.

Returning an hour later, the room is a mess, the demon has evaporated back into the seas of great icy chaos and they discover that they don't know the odd language to control the machine. Disappointed they proceed to poke around further in the barge, picking up some books, discovering great hamster wheels, and deciding to discover another of these "odd-heads" to use them to control the "great machine mind".

Then they politely leave, thanking the skeletons for their help.

Weirdness: 4/5
Bypassing Combat: 5/5

(Golden Goats Session 58)


30wizards - Kromo Reza the First Version Sword

Kromo Reza the Sword V1

HD 2+10 - heavy and metal.
AC 18 - high and strong
Atk 2d6+6 - proud and mental, the greatsword glimmers

Great magus of the metal order, binder of demons, witch king of barbarians, poses with the great thrall Littlehead Metalknees.


  • Servant Littlehead Metalknees - a mind closed to reason and influence, a strength to bring down great goats. HD 6, AC 16, Atk 2d6+6 and the Words of Metal.


  • Bewitch Barbarians - influence speakers of unintelligible tongues by waving hands and flashing metal eyes.
  • Hill-arising Runes - they do make the hills walk and the lowlanders quake in fear. "Gor na gor bo goru!"
  • Metalknees - heavy metal knees that stomp and shake the ground and mark the true thrall. Prosthetic.


  1. Worship me, fleshy warrior, and I will make you King!
  2. Sacrifice your most beloved sheep to me, that I see your heart is truly mine.
  3. Wield me and your bones will be as iron.
  4. Climb the peak of Ca-Ru-Na, defeat the three-headed bird Alabu and call the Lightning!
  5. Eat the soul of the horned wolf and your mind shall be closed to all ill magics! I swear!
  6. Expose the 3 Words of Metal!

The Three Words:

  1. Ca (death) is visited by those you strike in my name! (save vs. death)
  2. Ru (black) blinding ink fills the eyes of the stricken! (save vs. blindness)
  3. Na (dark) lights burn dark and shed night around us!

Pull me from the stone!

  1. Free! Free at last! Die mortal spunk!
  2. Ga-ju-ga! My task is complete! You are unbound!
  3. As a boon, that stone is now Glod. Enjoy him.
  4. Yeah ... that was anti-climactic. Do you have a body ready for me to inhabit?