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An Array of Specimens Tagged as Creatures

GOBBOS


Goblins all have an abnormal capacity for regeneration. Not enough to notice on the spot; they’re not going to stand in front of you swinging their intestines around until their stomach seals shut, but given a little time they can bounce back from most anything.

They don’t always heal right though. They’re like walking talking cancers. They reproduce by budding.

Sometimes before a wound closes up completely, a bulbous growth sprouts and keeps expanding and forming bits until a half-grown lumpy goblin drops off within a week, full-grown within a month.

 

It’s why they’re so fucking joyous about violence, it’s sex for them.

A goblin wearing armour is like someone wearing a condom: most of the fun while avoiding the reproductive consequences.

 

Some goblins are just a little too fertile, once they start budding they don’t stop, they swell up over time into an awful bloated self-important goblin mountain of flesh, forever sprouting crops of new goblins.

Goblin colonies un/lucky enough to get a Broodmother usually find themselves all wearing armour, either through enthusiasm for the Broodmother or from constant nagging and berating.

Sometimes goblins go sterile, their regenerating flesh out of control, sped up, growing into big warped crooked hulking things. Then they’re called trolls. Now you’ll notice their regeneration on the spot: about d8hp per Round’s worth of reconstituting viscera.

Mild brain damage tends to make them a bit deranged, not as smart as goblins, but if anything they lose some of their unbridled lust for violence: it’s not sex anymore.

Fire will wound them permanently, or at least until they can scrape out the seared flesh. If you kill them but don’t burn them they’ll regenerate in body but not in mind, with all of the strength and none of the capacity for reason, just a frenzied regenerating meat wagon with a desire to tear things in half.

 

Goblins learn fast but not well; when a goblin gets interested in magic it’s the worst.

They kind of know how to make armour. They kind of know how to make weapons. Everything is just super shitty looking. It’d be pretty funny if they weren’t stabbing you to death.

 

Most of them have a lifespan of about a year, Broodmothers are practically immortal until a frustrated goblin stabs them in the back, but trolls will only last a month or two before their bodies eat themselves.

If you could somehow isolate a colony without a Broodmother, with nothing to fight, it would die out within the year. They tend not to hurt themselves, it’s like public masturbation, frowned upon.

 

 

So fighting is goblin sex, a war is like an orgy, a lot of the time they probably don’t even have any ill-feeling towards you, this is all just really fun for them.

Combined with their short lifespans, it also tends to make them fairly impressively reckless.

It’s not uncommon to see:

  • Trolls wearing baskets full of spike-armoured goblins on their backs, shooting them out of misshapen hand-held iron cannons coughing black smoke.
  • Goblins sliding around inside herded slimes, eventually trying to squelch their way out before their bodies dissolve completely.
    Whether it’s because of their regeneration or just the way they taste, they can last at least an hour inside slimes and puddings before being wholly digested.
  • Rickety wooden spiked deathwheels and murderballs full of dizzy bruised driver teams plowing towards you, ready to be thrown everywhere amongst the shrapnel when they crash.
  • Half-grown goblins armed with knives and tiny flails strapped to the end of pikes, charged around by teams of goblin pikemen.
  • Goblins riding on makeshift platforms attached to armoured braindead rampaging trolls, trying not to get plucked off and eaten.
  • Piles of goblins launched through the air by cracking bending catapults.
  • Goblins holding onto half-wild pigs by fistfuls of hair and skin, trying to direct them by food dangling from the ends of their spears.
  • Cage flails full of spiders or burning pitch swung around by goblins that can barely handle the whirling weight.
  • Pig-drawn chariots with spring-loaded floors rigged to launch the charioteers forward if the wheels stop turning.
  • Goblin alchemists running around jangling with clicking ticking grenades full of altered expanding trollflesh and god knows what else.
  • Trolls leading knife-wielding goblins by chains attached to cages around their heads or torsos, swinging them around like gobbo flails.

 

If they worship anything it’s probably something they call Nurgleskop, a thing of pale orange and pink flesh like a misshapen warped monolith rising out of of a bulbous mound still clinging to its sides. It lies in a cavern open to the sky within the Marrowmorne Mountains, people don’t go there, there are rumours:

  1. The black woods around it are full of witches sick of the taste and feel of goblin flesh, they yearn for something new.
  2. Beneath the Nurgleskop is a sleeping boy who fell into the cavern and dreamt the goblins into existence.
  3. The abandoned villages dotted around it weren’t sacked by the goblins, the people living there went into the woods to become the goblins.
  4. The earth is so saturated by goblin filth that if you return home with a clump of dirt clinging to your boots, it will sprout a goblin overnight to knife you in your sleep.
  5. You can only find your way to the Nurgleskop if a goblin leads you. If you’ve made it there without one you can be sure one of your companions is a goblin/goblins in disguise.
  6. The bellies of the fat, uneasy birds of the Marrowmorne woods are full of gold coins, stamped with the face of an ancient king.
  7. The Nurgleskop is an egg fallen from the stars.
  8. Licking the sweaty dew from the Nurgleskop is the fountain of youth.
  9. An entire race of people laid down to die in the Marrowmorne Mountains, shifting themselves beneath the earth, and the Nurgleskop is nothing more than the fruiting body of a mycelium mass that has been feeding and growing on their remains over the centuries.
  10. The black river flowing out of the Marrowmorne stems from a great wound split in the mountainside, tainted lifeblood spilling from its ruby heart.
  11. When the moon is full over the Marrowmorne the goblins become beautiful young girls who run out into the night to tempt the unwary back into the woods.
  12. There is a black church hidden in the woods inhabited by an old man who will not die. Forbidden tomes and terrible artefacts are locked in the vaults below, protected from the world.

 

On the other hand some goblins practically worship filth, wallowing around in the worst shit they can find because it makes them heal completely wrong and they think it’s funny, twitching humps and extra arms and exploding stomachs and fingers that are far too long. Expelling toxic gas from various orifices and melding themselves to trolls and budding goblins that are little more than balls with tails and teeth.

While they’re around you should be playing this album on repeat.

 

Goblins goblins goblins.


2 comments



PETTY GODS // MASTURBATING GOATS


The revised and expanded edition of Petty Gods is now available, so here are a few of the entries I wrote for it back before this site even existed.

(I mainly just want to show off bigger versions of Rose’s illustrations because they’re excellent. Everything but the goat is hers.)

 

 

 

The Divine Worm, Mother of the Stillborn

 

 

Symbol: An x-ray style depiction of an earthworm holding multiple foetuses along the length of its body.

Talisman: A gold piece stamped with a newborn’s face, eroded by tears.

Alignment: Neutral

Movement: N/A

Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): Randomly determined (Roll d20 HD)

Attacks: Special

Damage: Special

Save: As Fighter of level equal to HD rolled.

Morale: 12

Hoard Class: 8,888gp, d% will melt the moment they’re taken into sunlight.

XP: 2x amount of stillborns spilt from the Divine Worm’s amniotic sac.

 

The Divine Worm, patron Mother of Miscarried and Stillborn Children, invoked by grieving families, worshipped by others for reasons that are their own.

A coin is cast bearing an image of the child and melted in a boiling pot in offering to the Divine Worm, beseeching her to carry the child in the beyond.

 

Manifestations of the Divine Worm are sometimes found in fragrant caverns below sites of plague or infanticide.

In form the Worm’s body is like that of a giant hairless and eyeless mole, lined with damp axolotl legs and a toadlike mouth. Pendulous breasts appear almost at random on its flanks and legs and a swollen amniotic sac sprouts over its lower back and hindquarters, within the sac you can see neither flesh nor bone, it sinks forever. Floating calmly amidst the rotten amber fluid are more infants and foetuses than you can count.

The Worm sits atop a gleaming pile of gold coins, swaying lichen and moss hangs from the cavern roof above it.

 

The Worm never attacks, never defends itself. It sits there with its mouth open, hundreds of infantile heads emerging and weeping in chorus even as you hack into its flesh, the sound is almost soothing. Every round save vs. Poison or suckle from one of its breasts. The sac squelches and heaves as you drink its amber nectar. You age d6 years of life unlived.

 

If the worm is killed its sac will burst, spilling 253 stillborns per HD about your feet, there are so many more than you imagined.

 

 

 

The Lady of Tasks Forgotten

 

Symbol: A bottle filled with the faces of dying ants and locusts pressed against the glass.

Talisman: N/A. Most of the time her adherents aren’t even aware they’re adhering.

Alignment: Chaotic

Movement: 120′ (40′)

Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 16hp (2 HD)

Attacks: Special

Damage: Special

Save: M20

Morale: 12

Hoard Class: See final paragraph.

XP: 1,000. 546,000 if you’re the one to kill her.

 

You settle in and try to block out the din of the tavern, contemplating your next step, weighing the options.

A tankard slides beneath your nose, the frothing ale spills slightly onto your hand.

There’s nothing extraordinary about the waifish woman who put it there, she’s pale and without a curve, or is she terribly obese under that dress? You’re too preoccupied to really notice.

She smiles pleasantly but emptily, “You look worried about something, burdened, why don’t you tell me what’s bothering you so much.”

And you do.

You tell her everything, every twist every turn, you tell her everything there is to know about what you’re trying to achieve. And you do feel better for it. You feel fantastic, purged and light, and someone has left a full tankard of ale here on the table for you. Wait, what is this place?

 

The Lady of Tasks Forgotten can be called on by those who have lost their way, those that feel there was something important they were meant to do but can no longer recall. The elixir they prepare probably shouldn’t be consumed under normal circumstances, distilled liquor and locusts flavoured with datura, poured into a flask with live winter ants, already kept in the flask for days and belly-deep in secreted poison.

If they survive drinking this concoction they will remember the task without fail, but it is rarely their own, and they will never understand that it never was. The Lady has many tasks to remember.

 

You could likely kill the Lady quite easily if you desired, but how would you know her?

If you find a way to summon and bind her, her flesh softly broils and churns, melting in places while expanding in others, forming impossible beauty then rotting like a bed sore. She looks on you with such sympathy, you have so many troubles.

Every round that you are near her in this state you will forget something, save vs. Magic for it to be something unimportant.

Use the table below for important things or pick something the character will really miss.

 

I'm sure I'm forgetting something..
2d6
2You forget why you're here, who you are, you don't know who these people are, or this thing floating in front of you, you want to go home, you don't know where it is. You'll only find out if you kill her.
3-5Correct use of your weapon eludes you, -4 to hit with melee/ranged weapons depending on what you were using from now on.
6-8You lose all memory of a random companion. Everyone else seems to know them, she must have done something to their minds, you should kill this imposter before they can do any harm.
9-11You can no longer speak in a common tongue, you understand it when others speak it, but you're oblivious to the fact that you're replying to them in another language entirely.
12You lose all memory of the flora and fauna of the world you live in, everything is strange or terrifying. The first time you see a swamp will be interesting.

She has no gold to steal, no relics, and whoever kills her will absorb every task she still held, convinced beyond question that the tasks are their own, crippled by overwhelming responsibility.

 

 

 

The Turquoise Idol of Communion

 

 

Name: Turquoise Idol of Communion

Symbol: Imagine the purest light and assurance, it looks like that.

Talisman: A rough stone cylindrical idol, carved with intricate scrolling symbols.

Alignment: Lawful

Movement: 180′ (60′)

Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 10hp (1 HD +1 per being absorbed)

Attacks: Special

Damage: Special

Save: As Fighter of level equal to HD, immune to all Magic.

Morale: 12

Hoard Class: 500 river-polished pebbles of turquoise inside its belly per HD.

XP: 4,000 per HD at the moment of its untimely demise.

 

They hand you a piece of broken stone, the outside is timeworn and dark, graven with symbols, while the alluring turquoise surface within glistens like an adhesive.

They speak of four joining pieces that were lost, they say that if you reconstruct the idol it is told to strengthen your mortal shell, to unite you with a greater power.

 

The inner surface of the idol is dry to your touch but when you join it with another piece you find yourself unable to force them apart. Every piece amplifies the stench of the swamp wafting from it.

You find and join the final piece and place it before you, ready to receive its power. A wet blue skin seeps from the fine cracks on its surface, smothering it and expanding as a toad in the shape of a man, with five hanging arms protruding from its body. Its skin glistens and it wishes to join with you.

 

The only attack it will make is a wrestling check, either by leaping at you or with its 10′ tongue. The moment it takes hold you can feel your skin incorporating into its body, sucking you in. Take a -2 penalty to your rolls every round, taking damage equal to your penalty if you manage to escape, and incorporating into the toad completely if you haven’t escaped after 3 rounds. With its increased mass the toad gains a HD, sprouts another arm and a further bonus to wrestling checks, and its tongue grows another 5′.

If you hit the toad in melee your weapon sticks in its flesh, make a Strength check next round to get it back. The toad will try to grab anyone that comes near enough, or with its tongue if no one is already in its mouth, but won’t move until it has finished incorporating those already joined to it.

 

You will never completely remove its flesh from anything it touched.

 

 

 

The Moss-Worn Goat

 

Name: The Moss-Worn Goat, bearer of Sterility

Symbol: The head of a goat crying tears of sperm.

Talisman: A carven wood phallus, left to grow moss and fungus.

Alignment: Neutral

Movement: 120′ (40′)

Armor Class: 5

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 46hp (7 HD)

Attacks: N/A

Damage: N/A

Save: M22

Morale: 8

Hoard Class: That depends on how long you keep him around.

XP: 4,000

 

The Moss-Worn Goat can be called upon to dry up the seed of men seeking it or those whom they wish to inflict it upon.

Offerings of gold are left in the damp parts of the woods with a phallus carved from a discarded branch, hidden by rotting hollow logs. Some desire temporary affliction, but unless they save vs. Magic they are permanently sterilised.

 

The Goat himself will be found in a dark hovel of a cavern, sweating amidst lichen and mounded monoliths of dirt, sprawled on the floor, moaning mournfully in a reverberating howl.

Below the huge malformed head and horns of a goat his body is human, and the whole time you watch him he never stops masturbating, shuddering intermittently with spasms that force enormous single golden sperm to spurt from his cock onto an already squirming pile, creaking like bending metal.

 

If you attack him he doesn’t know how to defend himself, he doesn’t understand, and he doesn’t stop masturbating. Eventually he will try to flee, leaving a golden trail of creaking sperm as his crooked body stumbles away.

 

 

 

Deiphagous Maggot

 

Name: Deiphagous Maggot

Alignment: As the god it currently serves. It’s nothing if not helpful.

Movement: 120′ (40′)

Armor Class: 9

Hit Points (Hit Dice): 24hp (4 HD)

Attacks: Wrap, d4 needle patches

Damage: 3d4, d4 each

Save: M23

Morale: 8

Hoard: Find a wondrous item table and roll on it.

XP: 1,200

 

The bloated body of the maggot squirms through the air, contracting and expanding towards you, several feet from the ground in deliberate, hypnotic movements.

It draws itself up like a snake, a patch of glistening needles extend from beneath the rear of its body, supporting it before you.

Mouths cover the underside of its body, one speaks for every emotion, there are many mouths. Eyes filled with broiling red fog are held within them, winking out and opening elsewhere as each begins to speak.

It is not the nature of the maggot to harm the god it serves, but when it dies the maggot will swim amongst its flesh, supping on the decay of divinity. Of course the maggot hungers, but the longer a god lives, the more fervently it is worshipped, the sweeter its flesh. You see its conundrum.

It feels you’re here to spoil the meal it is cultivating.

 

Static physical barriers mean nothing to the maggot, it slides in and out of them like reality, be careful not to fall into a hole that isn’t there. Sharp swinging metal is harder to account for.

In combat the maggot will try to wrap itself around you with gnawing mouths and squirm away in one fluid motion, leaving you like a ringbarked tree.

If caught or cornered its skin bursts with patches of bristling needles.

 

The maggot’s digestion is slow, if it is killed there is a 50% chance of its ruptured belly releasing the power of a god it has fed on. Have you killed a god lately? That one. Otherwise roll or flip to a random godling in this book and inflict their wrath.

 

 

 

Shed Godling Skin Suit

 

Some godlings grow as their following does, sloughing off their old skin to make way for a glorious new facade.

The translucent leather stitched into this full-body suit still responds to praise and worship, either of its wearer or of the godling who shed it.

The skin will allow one use of an ability of the godling it came from within a period of time equal to hours you spend in ritual worship beforehand.

Pick a god, roll or flip to one randomly in this book, or use whatever horrible thing these abilities came from. Roll randomly or worship twice as long if you want to pick.

1. Swollen pustular mounds swell from the neck of the suit, allowing you to expel boiling black bile as a 6′ ranged attach or a 90° spray within 3′, bypassing armour and dealing 2d6 damage. If you can bite someone you may vomit directly into their bloodstream. Save or Die.

2. If someone makes a successful melee attack against you, you can allow their weapon and arm to pass through your body, trapping them. The arm will need to be cut away, but whatever is left on the suit will be absorbed soon enough.

3. You leech the life out of anything organic within 6′, regaining d6hp. Roll under Constitution or secrete it back out in noisome streams.

4. You regurgitate d4 phlegm-coloured tiny men. Lose 1hp for each tiny man and roll for their loyalty. Every round you want them to do something roll loyalty, you may need to think of incentives. The only way you can regain those hit points is by swallowing the tiny men.

The skin’s AC 8 improves by 1 for every person that worships the wearer like a disciple, as the skin flushes with life and moves in a distracting, unnatural way.

If you gain 14 followers you will fuse with the skin, becoming a malformed bastard demigod. You will not like it.


6 comments



PETTY GODS // DELVERS OF THE GOLDEN VEINS


So Petty Gods is being re-revived, and here’s one of my awful entries.

 

Text from a year or so ago, art from a few days ago.

 

//

 

Hidden away in the mountains, living in whitewashed caves, away from the prying eyes of those who would call themselves holy.

Their god is a walking mountain of flesh, all-consuming, ever enduring.

 

When the stars are deemed right, worshipping before an idol carved into stone wall, when their ululations reach fever pitch one of their number is blessed with transformation, alchemy of the soul and body. Their limbs atrophy and their back bends, their torso expands to the floor like a dropped sack, skin grows dark and pocked, their flesh is doughy and pliable, it is forbidden to touch during the transformation. Their head rots and retreats into the body, new pink-flecked quivering orifices open on their belly and across their sides, dissolving anything placed before them into atoms and breathing in the spore cloud.

 

Holy manifestation of their god, the Atmungsgebirgshund is carefully moved to a dais, carved from a crop of stalagmites, fed and adored. As it feeds, the Atmungsgebirgshund’s body becomes ever more stone-like, fracturing, forming peaks.

When the stars again proclaim the time right, crowning spires of light grow from the pinnacle of the Atmungsgebirgshund’s spine hill, and the Delvers fall upon it with pick and hands. They drink deeply of the golden blood that flows as they break away the shards of its flesh, and they are once more blessed to live long in worship amongst the mountains.

 

Their god does not exist. Their god is communal. Their god is them.

If they were destroyed, so would their god be.

 

Their number never exceeds 40, breeding is only permitted when another member has been lost, either by violent death or ascension.

Memories of persecution have rooted deep over the ages, and any intrusion into their caves will be seen as an attack. The Delvers are non-violent, their god is not. Some will delay the intruders, throwing their bodies upon the blades, others will fall against the Atmungsgebirgshund in supplication to be consumed.

 

Cracking shards of primordial blue light extend from the Atmungsgebirgshund’s belly, roots worthy of a mountain god, the orifices penetrating its side expand and howl like rushing wind, every Delver sacrificed on its body increases its HD.

 

You will see a mountain walk, you will see your flesh drawn across the room like pollen on the wind.

 

Name: Atmungsgebirgshund
Alignment: Lawful
Movement: 120′ (40′)
Armor Class: 0
Hit Points (Hit Dice): 8 (1 HD + 1 per self-sacrificed Delver)
Attacks: Special
Damage: Special
Save: M23
Morale: 12
Hoard Class: The Delver’s art may be worth something to the right person
XP: 2000 x HD at time of death

 

Once the first Delver has been sacrificed on its side, the Atmungsgebirgshund is able to digest the flesh of one creature within 4′ at the rate of 1hp per round. Every additional sacrifice increases the range by 4′ and allows another creature to by consumed simultaneously.

Every round there is a 10% chance of fragmented spikes of blue light bursting from the earth, impaling the unlucky creature above, consuming them from within in floating blue sparks that rise as the spikes retreat. Save or Die.

 

If anyone other than a Delver attempts to drink the golden blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund roll below.

 

d6Effect of the Blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund
1Your torso turns to stone, brittle internal walls crack and break, you're alive as your body splits in half and stone organs spill across the floor.
2An atomising black hole forms in your belly, consuming you from the inside, lasting another hour after you have disappeared, affecting anything that comes within 10'.
3Roots of molten stone seep from your feet and embed deep into the earth, your legs petrify up to the knees. Better find a hammer.
4For the next 4 days you gain no nutrition from anything you eat, you grow weak, but a solid gold nugget is forming in your belly, worth 2000gp if you can pass it.
5You can hear the Breathing Mountain, you weep at its glory, you remain in the caves to rebuild its family and live forever. Slay any who would stand in your way.
6The blood of the earth fills your veins, you will never age, decrease your Dexterity by 1 every year that you do not drink the golden blood of the Atmungsgebirgshund as you slowly turn to living stone.

4 comments



Why Yes I Do Own A Publishing House, What Of It?


So remember that cave map I donated to Matt Jackson, and subsequently all the wonderful things that happened to my players when they went inside it?

Well it’s now a little adventure pdf that you can take home to meet the parents.

 

It’s Pay What You Want, so if you’ve ever wanted to give me money for some reason here’s your chance, or alternatively you can take it for free and digitally spit in my eye, I’m fine with it either way as long as you enjoy it.

 

Click below to make all of your wildest dreams come true.

 

Sleeping Place of the Feathered Swine Town Crier


6 comments



The Apposite Pariahs of Creation


Here have some art, originally drawn for Patrick Stuart’s Veins of the Earth.

Now that it has an actual publishing deal these will probably never appear in the actual book because aesthetic consistency, with the whole thing likely to be illustrated by Scrap Princess (who is a brilliant machine).

 

Nevertheless I’m glad they happened, the Alkalion is one of my favourite things I’ve ever, ever drawn, and they all forced my fingies to keep working and working and now starting a new drawing isn’t the struggletown it was at the start of the year.

 

Unsolicited life lesson: THE MORE YOU STOP DOING THINGS OUT OF FRUSTRATION AT YOUR OWN INEPTITUDE THE LONGER YOU WILL BE TERRIBLE AT THEM. Push through the pain cupcake.

 

The Alkalion

 

The ToRaptoise

(still not really what I pictured when I first read about them and got all light-headed and dreamy,

but the design goal that Scrap and I ended up coming to was “a carnivorous penis spilling out of the worst vulva”, so I think I can lay some claim to success)

 

Sonic Pigs: the pigs that make you shit yourself and weep

 


5 comments



A Tale of Sixteen Piglets


Here’s the other request I fulfilled for His Abysmal Jolliness, Secret Santicore.

 

 

The Request:

 

A random encounter which includes an ogre, a maiden, and a standing stone.

 

 

The next time you’re in a town near some woods, or in a town near a town near some woods, you start hearing things.

The main thing to take away from all this talk is that High-Father Flagellus, a priest of your chosen important religion, is missing his daughter. He claims she was taken from her room during the night a week ago, and the weak-minded fools of the town will do nothing to help. He has reason to believe she was taken to the woods, but when he tried to go there himself was turned back not only by the animals dwelling there but by the very woods themselves.

In payment for returning his daughter he will pay a handsome sum siphoned from the tithing box, as well as a massive IOU from the church.

 

 

The Talk About Town
1d10
1I do a bit of bird watching in my spare time, relaxes the soul you see. But this last week I swear they've been flying from all directions in a steady line straight into those woods, it's the damndest thing I ever saw.
2That crazy old woman that lives up by the woods keeps complaining she can hear screams echoing out at night. I told her that's just age catching up with her and she just tuts and shoos me away from the house. I love winding her up!
3Old Otis Bronte swore he'd dealt with his rat problem but three days ago a swarm of the furry brutes poured out of his grain silo. They let the other farms alone and ran into the woods though so no harm done I guess. Strange thing though, every now and then you'll see little packs of vermin coming in from the countryside, straight towards the woods..
4There's a grave in them woods with no name. Y'see years ago a woodcutter's wife carried on with a merchant that used to pass through, and every time he came he'd bring her a new trinket. Golden necklaces that would serve as well as a breastplate, rings cut from solid ruby, earrings made of the bones of saints! Well one day the woodcutter finds these treasures hidden beneath the stair, and he knows he's been dishonoured, and he spits and he waits. He waits until the next time the merchant passes through, who comes to meet the wife as usual, in the woods when the moon is full, and when their lips meet the trees themselves shake and all the trinkets rain down from the branches above their heads. Well the wife looks back up in time to see the woodcutter step out of the dark and bury his axe sternum-deep through her lover's head, and when she tries to run finds herself caught up in a snare with a slit throat. The woodcutter he buries them right there with all their pretties, and marks the spot with a bit o' half-buried sawn-off log.
Folks say they never did see him again, and to the best o' my knowledge he'd still be in them woods, still full o' bloodlust after all these years; only reason I haven't sought out the grave meself y'see.
5Don't tell anyone I told you but Marcy over at the dairy? Well butter ain't the only thing she gets paid to churn if you know what I mean.
6Virgil's sow had a litter of 16 piglets, the biggest litter we've ever seen. Well he was proud as punch as you might expect but a few nights back someone done stole them. Questions have been made about town of course but everyone's come up squeaky clean.
7High-Father Flagellus claims his daughter Meredith was taken from her room during the night one week ago, he claims he heard noises trailing off towards the woods and he couldn't catch up with them. No one has helped him thus far because it's more likely Meredith ran away to get out from under that calloused thumb of his. Silly old sod made a big song and dance of going into the woods himself though and came out screaming that the woods were possessed, says the animals forced him out!
8There's little men what live in the woods, guardians of it they are! You just mind not to scare them off if you go traipsing about in there.
9I heard the Father's daughter ran away with a farm boy to live a life of sin, but not into no woods that's for certain! Old Flagellus just can't handle the fact his precious little girl's turned harlot.
10I was once chased out of those woods by a giant stag of smouldering coal, with burning yellow eyes and the bodies of children hanging from its antlers. Mark my words High-Father Flagellus isn't crazy, there's evil in those woods, and I wouldn't face it again for the world.

 

Once the players decide to enter the woods, finding the clearing at the centre won’t prove too hard if they follow the rat packs and other animals running purposely through them, or keep track of birds flying overhead.

The woods are pretty big though.

 

 

Random Encounters in the Woods
1d10
1A rope trap that yanks you feet-first up between the branches of a tree, bumping into a hornet's nest as you go.
2A veritable plague of rats swarms around your feet in the same direction, uninterested in you for now but if they're attacked or stepped on that will soon change.
3A soft ethereal singing floats through the woods, it sounds like all that is pure and good.
4A huge female bear rears up and roars behind the players, showering them in spittle. Blood is on her claws but she actually just wants the players to get out of the way and if they do so quickly enough she'll pass by without attacking, followed by three adorable cubs of decreasing sizes.
5A small group of rats run straight over a patch of brown leaves that is actually a pit trap full of hallucinogenic puffball mushrooms. Any player that falls in spends the next d10 Turns believing they're a mole with a furious need to dig.
6A one-eyed owl hoots mournfully from an overhead branch and flies off in the direction everything else has been going. Expect a Gnoblin ambush in the form of disembodied insults, thrown stones, and fresh defecation lying along your path.
7You momentarily see a strange furry little face off to your right, but whatever it was quickly scatters off through the undergrowth.
8You find a piece of half-buried sawn-off log. That crazy townie was right! Well, maybe:
1. You dig into a large chamber of a jumping bull ant colony.
2. There's just bones here. Child bones.
3. You find strange looking charms and totems, real voodoo shit, as well as a note in a bottle pronouncing a curse upon the black heart of you who would seek to disturb the dead.
4. He was totally right.
9A line trap that triggers drawn-back bramble bushes to slap everyone square in the face, giving you lots of nasty little cuts.
10Branches break nearby and you see a deranged looking woodsman with a twig-strewn beard and wild eyes wielding an axe. He isn't the murderous woodcutter from the story though just a poor man that lives near the woods. Unfortunately, he can't speak very well and has an extremely nervous disposition that is likely to be mistaken for aggression.

 

CIRCLE OF PROTECTION

 

Just outside the clearing the players will be faced with a ring of vermin and woodland creatures 10′ deep blocking their path. How they get past this is a matter for themselves.

For their part the animals will start trying to scare the players away once they get within 30′, becoming violent if necessary, but will not pursue the players if they make it into the clearing.

 

The Ring of Woodland Critters

 

Within immediate reach of the players there will be:

d100/2 rats

d20 Bunnies

d20 Squirrels

d10 Foxes

d8 Owls

d6 Deer + 1 Stag

d4 Badgers

 

As well as various finches, sparrows, and other birds and tiny animals that are really cute. Voles and shit.

 

THE CLEARING

 

In the centre of the clearing is a ring of four standing stones surrounding a boulder, all faintly inscribed with what appears to be an obscure, ancient, and absurd language. Imagine symbols carved by a dyslexic bird with its beak; like that.

But before any of that, what the players will notice is the ogre.

Misshapen and grotesque, its teeth are large and overly-numerous, crowding each other out from its jaw. Its gnarled limbs look as if it matured while confined to a box; joints veer off at awful angles and horrendous knots bulge from its muscles, a stunted degenerate third hand protrudes from its humped shoulder and the hands it does have are marred by stiff, useless extra digits near to its wrists.

Oh and it’s suspended over the boulder, its arms and legs tied to the standing stones as if it were about to be drawn and quartered. Infected-looking welts and gashes criss-cross its stained yellow skin and streaks through the dirt around its eyes make it look as if it has been weeping.

 

THE CAST

 

The Ogre

Has no name because it has never had need of one. It has learnt rudimentary language from overheard conversations around campfires and the pleading of wayward travellers before it eats them. It will weep and sob and beg the players to free it, all it knows is that it was tricked and trapped by the nasty furry goblins and dragged here, where the lady brings it pain every night.

 

Meredith, the Maiden

Meredith has tired of the strict life she is forced to lead under her father’s roof, she wants something more. Goddess of the woods would do for now, and after that we’ll see about the rest of this wretched land. Meredith plans to raise the ancient Boar God of the Wood when the celestial alignment is right, using the ogre as womb and being the first living being present, for the Great Boar to imprint on as mother.

Of course she won’t tell the players this, thank heavens they’re here! She’ll tell them she was kidnapped by this terrible ogre and she only just escaped thanks to the help of these friendly little forest folk, who then tied the ogre up to prevent it from harming anyone further. She would very much appreciate it if the players could go find some men to deal with the ogre, she’ll wait here until they return to make sure it doesn’t escape.

If the players leave she’ll send a group of Gnoblins to kill them before they reach town, if pressed to leave with them she will assent but set a Gnoblin ambush, and if they try to kill the ogre then and there it is on, she needs that thing.

 

The Gnoblins

Funny furry little man-things of the woods, no higher than your knee, mystical beings somewhere between a Gnome and a Goblin. They live in burrows beneath the clearing, accessible by openings between the roots of a mighty oak at its perimeter.

The Gnoblins first set eyes on Meredith on one of her walks by the woods, one of the few liberties allowed by her father. They took her seeming innocence and fondness for the woods as a sign that she was to be the mother of the Great Boar, due so soon to be reborn. Of course when they appeared to her and spoke of all this the fair Meredith managed to convince them of a “better” way.
The players probably won’t even realise the Gnoblins can speak; Meredith warned them not to talk to any strangers and for the most part they’ll just sit around and stare, unless Meredith tells them to do something or the players try to free the ogre. If Meredith isn’t around though and you’re really funny the Gnoblins will tell you everything you could ever want to know about the Boar God.

The Gnoblins aren’t evil, they just want to see the Great Boar reborn so that the woods can live on, and Meredith is ever so convincing.

Of course, when you make them angry is when the teeth come out.

 

THE BIRTH

 

Every day when the sun begins to dip Meredith takes out her bramble whip and sings softly as she begins to flay the ogre with it, invariably building up in ferocity until the moon reaches its peak and she screams at it, “Squeal! Squeal like a stuck pig!”.

In a small cavern directly beneath the standing stones the Gnoblins have piled the still-squeaking sixteen stolen piglets. When the celestial alignment is right and the ogre lets out its thunderous squeal into the night, the lifeforce of the piglets will be drawn up through the glowing standing stones and into its belly which will swell and tear and release the fully-grown majesty of the Great Boar once more into the woods.

 

What Time Is It?

  • From midnight to morning Meredith sleeps in the burrows with the Gnoblins, with only a few sleepy looking Gnoblins on watch.
  • In the middle of the day she’s probably off picking berries and other wholesome activities.
  • In the afternoon she sometimes likes to dance around the sobbing ogre with the Gnoblins. They form a ring and wear flowers in their hair.
  • In the evening she cuts a fresh bramble whip for the night’s torture training.
  • When the players arrive the celestial alignment is due to occur that night, what are the odds?

 

The Consequences of Your Actions

  • If the Great Boar imprints on Meredith as its mother she will use its divine power and influence to extend the woods and, in time, lead an army of murderous woodland creatures across the countryside.
  • If the Great Boar is reborn but Meredith is not around, all will be well. The Gnoblins will rejoice at the return of their king and the woods will remain at peace with the surrounding settlements. Although they’ll probably still be pretty mad if you killed Meredith.
  • If the Great Boar is not reborn at all the forest will wither and die at an alarming rate, followed by streams of feral starving animals pouring into the surrounding towns.
  • If nothing else, Virgil would be really happy if you brought his piglets back alive.

 

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Mystical Migrations of the Mythical Menagerie


Aside from handling word slaves in the last Secret Santicore, I also fulfilled a couple of requests.

Here’s an orphan one that I rescued.

 

The Request:

 

Nature on the move. A table of magnificent and/or terrifying migrations. Would ideally contain:

 

1. What the creatures are

2. What sort of impact this migration has on the world

3. Who hunts and/or preys upon the migration

 

20/50/100 your choice Santicore!

 

 

Nature on the MoveThe Impact of Life
d20
1The Many-Faced or Dividing Leopard Worm
A creeping mass of black-spotted yellow fur, voids gaping within the bunched mess of a head, bristling teeth like oily black quills. 15ft long tails thicker than your thigh drag behind the bulk before splitting away, hair separating, contracting and slithering with a mouth all their own.
Skinwalkers take the pelts as barbaric armour. The venom delivered by the caterpillar-like hairs that stand on end along their backs causes muscle spasms that can last for days. Older worms can eject hairs right out of their backs when threatened. The fibres alone contain enough venom to incapacitate ten burly men; if you take the pelt with the venom glands intact and keep them alive it will last indefinitely.
The worm mass doesn't really divide, it is made up of individuals moving together like a brood of Spitfire Grubs, but their faces do, split into even quarters bristling with quill teeth to better drag you down their gullets.
Beyond defence and hunger related deaths and cripplings, the only thing left to mark their passing are the flimsy abandoned silk nests spun around large trees just within the woods, temporary shelter for a few days' hunting before continuing their journey.
Due to the hairs woven amongst the silk, the only thing you'll earn by collecting it is a week of convulsions.
2Spiders of Gushmora
Exquisite neglect creeps in like rising waters, stranded wisps hanging from flowers turn to phantasmal curtains of translucent silk, undulating in the wind.
The brood mothers can only walk upon silken threads, and so a tide of their thousand children spills out before them, draping webbed paths over grasslands and trees until their spinnerets run dry and their bodies break, replaced by siblings birthed during the journey.
The Korhari Silk-Weavers follow the migration, gathering silk with long, pointed implements of bronze to be fed onto spinning wheels nestled within their gaily painted wagons, ornate and many-coloured behind a sea of white.
The few months spent following the spiders will provide them with everything they need for the rest of the year, producing fine Korhari silks to be sold to the highest bidder. Killing any kind of spider before a Korhari is invitation to violence.
Absorbed by the ravenous hunger of the journey, the passing of the Spiders of Gushmora effects near-extinction upon insect populations caught in their path.
In the weeks preceding the arrival of the migration, many animals will flee to other hunting grounds. First you notice that the birds no longer sing in the morning, then the rodents disappear from your larder, you hear predators padding away in the night. Many plant species will take months to recover with nothing left to spread their seed.

The bite of the Spiders of Gushmora causes an accelerated rot, swollen wounds burst and spill decomposing flesh with an iridescent sheen much like the spider's exoskeleton, all fuchsia, purples and black. When the swollen boils appear across their chest and arms the victim will know they endured the amputation of their leg for nothing.
Korhari assassins often travel ahead of the migration, ending those they find preparing to defend their lands.
3Ignis Fatuus Floris
Ethereal points of blue light float through the sunless dark, dancing on the wind. When the luminous seeds settle they sprout dark-stemmed flowers topped with thick bulbs, scored like a spiralling vortex. The feathery pink petals that sprout astride the spiral flutter in the breeze, until a strong enough wind blows in from the right direction and the pods violently ejaculate the next generation of seeds into the air in an unfurling explosion, one step closer to their destination.
The Moulting Priests of the Seeping Dissonance seek to destroy the Ignis Fatuus Floris, why they will not say.
They have been within reach of the flowers only twice, causing them to explode into an errant wind, thwarting the priests but setting the flowers back on their journey.
For the species to survive the flowers must survive. When the seeds first enter the soil they excrete a toxin that causes all plant life in the immediate area to wither away, eliminating any competition for the nutrients needed to grow.
Unfortunately for the flower, the same toxin that kills flora causes intense hypnagogic hallucinations in fauna. If their needle-like thorns fail to deter wanderers or thrill-seeking boars hoping for a transcendent experience, the damaged flowers exude a chemical warning that causes the remaining flowers to disperse their seed into the nearest wind, regardless of direction.
4Eels of the Nighted Depths
None know where they come from or where they go, only the swarm of oil-slick flesh that undulates over the land, toothless, wrinkled maws stretching wide to consume creatures twice their size, slipping onward while the hapless beasts howl from within their stretched flesh, slowly succumbing to digestion.
Apothecaries and Dabblers of the Black Arts lust for the flesh of the abyssopelagic nightmares. A piece of their blubbery leathered skin will buy a week's debauchery, their rock-hard sightless eyes would fetch an honest man's yearly wage, for a living intact specimen your very heart's darkest desire would be fulfilled.
Upturned ecosystems, lost pets, lost loves, insane bearded men kicking down your door demanding to know which direction the eels went.
5The Periphery
As people walk there seems to be a shadow not their own moving beside them, seen in their peripheral vision and absent when they turn.
As the phenomena ceases in one settlement it emerges in another, trailing across the land until the reports finally cease after several months.
The Scholars of the Seventh Seal seek any and all information pertaining to what they call The Periphery. Shared knowledge will be rewarded, false informers will never be found.
A lingering feeling amalgamated of dread and rapture, the subtly unnerving presence of the Scholars weeks after the event.
6Xanthous Locust
It begins with bands of gregarious wingless nymphs, a hopping carpet of bronze-tarnished mandibles, but when their density reaches fever pitch a flavescent metamorphosis takes place that sees their carapace harden into grotesque studded plates of rich yellow armour, glittering wings unfurling in the light.
Their omnivorous plague migration sweeps over vegetation and flesh, a flying wall of hooked limbs and eager squirming labial palps.
Communities with Forewarning often plant large crops of Mandrake before the oncoming swarm, a fragrance irresistible to the locusts, tearing roots from the ground after gorging upon the leaves and flowers. While it will not kill them, ingesting Mandrake renders the locusts lethargic and uninterested in pursuing further sustenance for at least a day.
At night roosting locusts may be caught up in nets and baskets. Fried Xanthous Locust is said to be an unsurpassed delicacy.
Devastated crops and shrubberies, flesh chewed straight from the bone while you're still screaming and flailing, an abundantly delicious crunchy food source for those smarter than you.
7Fog Walkers of the Broken Isle
Magnificent striding things on slender multi-jointed limbs, symbiotic creatures hanging from their shaggy pelts with bright eyes and wicked little hands. The mottled fur of the creatures makes them nothing more than mossy discolouration among the grey coats of the Walker's short, stocky bodies until they move with alarming speed.
The fog that seems to have carried away from the Broken Isle to surround the Walker's body is in reality a cloud of minuscule insects, feeding on the blood of the creatures before being sucked into the Walker's facial ducts for nourishment. What sustains the creatures is as yet unknown.
Too sure-footed and strong of limb to be cut down from the ground, Companies of Landsharpuniere carefully select Walkers to bring down with harpoon and rope, protected by pikemen and foot soldiers from shrieking creatures in descent.
The Fog Walkers always seem to be accompanied by grey skies and light rain, as if their very presence had seeded the clouds.
Vegetative growth after the rain is strong but somehow subtly wrong, vaguely reminiscent of the Broken Isle if you stare long enough.
8Abysslodira
Clacking pyramidal shells amble out of the sea encrusted with lustrous blue barnacles, their long hibernation in the depths at an end. Tortoise-like creatures the size of absurdly large wolves on a slow plod through whatever falls in their path.
When confronted by another creature their small hard skulls raise high on startling long necks, pudgy grey skin stretching tight and regarding the stranger through glassy white eyes. If they perceive danger their head and limbs retract completely within nigh-impenetrable shells until the threat has passed, if there is no threat they renew their slow plod straight through you, smooth featureless faces rotating to stare all the while as you fall to the side.
Various Birds land on the Abysslodira as they walk, dislodging barnacles from their shells with surprising ease and feasting where they land. The parasite they have eaten will cause the birds to fly without rest to the nearest suitable body of water, plunging into its depths to drown and decay, birthing a strange algae-like ooze from their feathered corpses.
Undeterrable from their path, the Abysslodira will plod over mountains and through battles with the same measured lackadaisical step until a cavalry charge causes them to drop to the ground, a wave of horses breaking over their blue-jewelled shells.
Towns that find themselves host to the migration of the Abysslodira would be best advised to clear all obstruction and make them feel welcome, because it will take weeks for them to move out of the streets if some slight offence or threat causes them to retreat into their shells.

The algal bloom bears a semi-sentience that sees it infect water supplies and drown animals before moving on to sample the next set of organisms it finds again and again before finally being swept back out to sea.
9Caustic Sludge Crabs
A plague of black carapaces spills from the protection of the Moldenwood in order to reach the Hollow Sea to spawn, crawling over the land in a blanket like a swarm of mites over a corpse.
Within the woods the crabs are without predators, rock hard shells containing their liquid flesh, in the open air birds swoop amongst them in an attempt to carry away lone crabs before being dragged down amongst the swarm.
Albino Ibis close a nictitating membrane of the same unhealthy pink as their wrinkled faces over their eyes to ward off snapping claws as they descend. After escaping with a crab they will lay it on a hard surface and peck a hole in the armour of its belly to expose the oily sludge beneath. Caustic to most creatures, the Ibis dilute it with their own vomit before sucking it up through long, curved beaks.
Little will stand in the way of the crab migration. Anything caught in their path will be pulled beneath by claws too numerous to count, bones picked clean in their wake, and a smashed crab will easily melt through armour with its spilled liquid flesh.
10Diasporea
The stranger moves towards you in slow, gliding steps, their body hunched inside a great coat covered in dry leaves and sticks and rotting plant matter. Metal trinkets and bones hang from the gnarled branches extending from their head like horns. A powdery whisper accompanies them as they move closer, and a low thrumming voice like rain asks where your dead grow.
Light washes over the stranger’s coat as they move into the glow of your lantern, and you see the gaps amidst the sticks and filth. You see fungal sinew strung inside, like the forest floor caught in a web. A thick mass of lichen veil hangs in the hooded space below the stranger’s antlers, and ever more unexpected mounds and wooden horns are illuminated across their back. Small stout yellow round-capped mushrooms in jagged rows beneath its throat and chest quiver and begin to thrum against wood and bone, forming the words that politely ask again, “Where do your dead grow?”

Colonies of fungus and mould that cobble debris together to gain a locomotive form. They will talk to you, they’ll even trade, but they have no empathy. They won’t understand why you’re so upset that they dug up your daughter, pulled her corpse apart, and placed the pieces amongst their body. Fragile but hard to kill permanently, and the spores that erupt from them in times of stress end up everywhere, and your flesh is ever so fertile.
The Diasporea have no predators or prey, only those ignorant enough to try to kill them then scream in horror at the release of their infectious spores.
If you're savvy enough you may find yourself in possession of time-lost artefacts at the cost of a dead dog or an ancestor's corpse.
11Cancerslugs
As long as a man, putrescent yellow flesh glistening under thick layers of mucus as they emerge from swamps during the wet season, smelling of stale semen and broken drought.
Generally placid, violent in short sharp bursts that you never expect. Their wounds bubble out in pink masses of vivid new flesh, deflating into yellow normality over the coming days.
The Flesh Crafters continue to obtain samples of slug mucus for experimentation, but since the successful capture and confinement of a live specimen within their labs six years ago have shown no interest in further capture, in fact they show an aversion verging on disgust at the thought.
Gold-Banded Broodsac Larvae attempt to invade the slugs, carried as sporocysts until they develop into Broodsacs as the slugs near settled areas or forests. The Broodsacs push into the slug's eyestalks and secrete chemicals that induce a compulsive need to climb the tallest thing it can find; an ancient tree, a belltower overlooking the town square. At its height the Broodsacs squirm and pulsate, golden Rorschachs glinting in the open sky until a bird of prey descends to tear it from the slug's head, the next stage of its life cycle begun.
With the majority of its brain torn out the slug will fall to the earth, impacting in a disintegrating shower of yellow flesh bubbling regeneration even in death.
Sudden maddening irritations befall bare skin exposed to the thick mucus trails left in their wake, progressing into lesions and worse. Those unlucky enough to discover an allergy will spend the rest of their lives swaddled in cloth to hide the horror they have become.
12Powder Deer
Herds of them, white fur so pure it nearly glows. The female of the species, and the herd is almost entirely female, bear branching antlers as fragile as glass, shattered and disintegrating on impact. Semi-parasitic young hang from their backs, pink pupal piles of them with pliant manipulable bones that curl around their brood sisters and into their mother's fur.
Monolithic among the herd is the Husband, black furred with a compact, upright body like a giraffe, its powerful chest supporting the thick, muscled neck that stretches up to a magnificent head crowned by twisting spires of horn as tall as its body, piercing the sky.
Packs of Predatory Beasts try their luck harrying the migration, but lone predators would never dare. Before they disintegrate completely the Deer's shattered antlers fracture into splinters, leaving wounds full of powdered glass where they pierce the flesh.
In dire situations the Husband tramps through the herd like an icebreaker, all discordant howling and rage, any shred of self-preservation lost. If the Husband perishes another Powder Deer will undergo a transmutation to take its place, but such things take time.
Their powdered antlers fertilise the growth of both bacteria and vegetation. Lush foliage and crops sprout where there has been conflict, but any wounds contaminated by the earth or even the plants themselves are likely to fester within mere hours.
13Copulatorum
Less a migration than a minor incursion, men and women bearing the faint scent of carnal knowledge arrive at secluded cabins, farms, taverns, palaces. The method of their approach and petition for solace varies, but invariably ends in an enticement to lay with them.
Where their advances are rejected they leave with apology. Where accepted, people report seeing either a heavily pregnant woman or an obscenely obese man with a pendulous gut leaving in the small hours of the morning, while inside the homes are all torn flesh and a madness of blood and bile.
Respected and Disregarded Organisations are all in consensus that the reports are utter fallacy, only lone eccentrics and outright lunatics seek out incidents of Copulatorum, though not all for the same reasons.
Jilted lovers, subsequent suspicious deaths, absurd stories and hangings.
14Bowelbird
Flocks of inky black birds with eyes like fresh-spilt blood alight on rooftops and concentric patterns in fields, named for a habit of digging amongst entrails after a slaughter, the Bowelbird is possessed with a desire for objects of the colour red, not gore.
At each rest they erect crimson piles of thievery in ensanguined cairns, incomprehensible shrines which will be destroyed by various breeds of Simian if they happen across them, reproachful shrieks echoing through the trees.
Carcasses strewn open, crimson veils carried away, roses a-snatched mid-courting.
Something much more were the cairns altogether allowed to stand.
15Ulcerate Vermis
Loathsome grey masses emerge from the sewers and water systems of the cities, slopping and rolling clumps of tentacles that make their way to the nearest patch of bare earth beyond the city walls, seemingly melting into the dirt.
The majority of their migration takes place beneath the ground, but when it begins to rain they will emerge through shifting clumps of dirt, tumbling and running chaotically across the land amid the spattering drops.
Apathetic Gastronomes savour them as a delicacy, and Various Unseemly Bookish-Types would rather like to get their hands on a specimen.
The light touch of a tentacle when you get too close to them opens a painless ulcer in your skin that will heal within a few days, but while it persists you remain mildly irritated over nothing. They often evade capture simply because those around them are too busy arguing over meaningless drivel.
16Nightshade
Unseen in the light of day, slinking through the night, melting into shelter when something is near. Beneath a tree you raise your head to the night sky to find a dark shadow towering over the leaves, staring down at you with furtive reflective orbs.
One-Eyed Stygian Herbbalists have an unwholesome interest in the movements of the Nightshade.
Unearthly beautiful blossoms unfurling their shimmering black petals in the morning light provide the only marker that a Nightshade ever passed.
17The Crawling Rot
They emerge from their burrows, decaying with splitting flesh in the sunlight, undergoing regenerative transmorphosis throughout the night, an ever-shifting parade of warped flesh and cancerous disease.
Every Being With a Sense of the Sanctity of Their Own Existence or Self-Preservation will avoid the Crawling Rot at any cost, even the carrion vermin know better than to meddle with their flesh.
You will know their passing by the rotting remnants of shed antlers, teeth, eyestalks and splitting jaws, twisted arms, segmented legs, tentacles and gore, you will know them by the smell.
18Somnolent Broodmite
Transportation is what they need; human, animal, they don't mind. The anaesthetic saliva of their bite renders the host unaware as the mites enter their body through holes bored in the legs, populating through the body, consuming everything non-vital to their needs over time. Somnambulance is induced when they reach the brain, carrying the Broodmites towards their desire.
If they absolutely must be stopped, a human host will speak with others, but it won't make sense, like a lover waking you in the middle of the night during a dream.
For the most part no one will ever know that the Somnolent Broodmites have passed, but some may find the target of their hunt or planned thievery suddenly split apart by their attack, spilling piles of bloody mites in search of new transportation.
19Jewelled Mounds of Ur
Shambling masses of flesh little more than a delivery system for the rose-tinted crystals sprouting in clusters from their skin, hobbling on pairs of bony arms like crutches and cloven-footed hind legs.
They travel towards the Valley of the Nine Streams and the anchored egg sacs already laid by their females within the sapphire waters. When they reach the stream's edge their unheard voices raise in a harmonic reverberation, bursting their fragile crystals over the water, releasing pink seed to fertilise the eggs. After this release the males will die, their corpses waiting food for their unhatched young.
Uneducated Would-Be Jewel Thieves have sometimes killed Mounds in order to dislodge the giant crystals from their flesh, only to be rewarded with a burst of honey-thick semen for their troubles. The Mound's seed also happens to hold remarkable mutagenic potential, a property that makes it rather valuable to certain other parties.
Apart from theft-related mishaps, fish and amphibians that spawn from the Nine Streams during the same period are abundant in number and girth, even if their flesh does taste unnaturally salty, and their entrails form strange patterns amidst too-many bones.
20Ash Spider Colossum
Spread fractal shadows beneath them as they pass, light clouds of dust motes shaking free from segmented legs that stab the earth with every step, stretching straight up to lightly suspended plateau bodies bearing black monoliths that scratch the sky like lightning-struck trees.
Shivering Bare-Fleshed Zealots worship the Ash Spiders as gods, climbing to their backs to partake in an endless liturgy amongst the monoliths.
Blue-Bloat Bore Grubs infest the colossal limbs, burrowing tunnels as they feed.
Zealots crawl over the Spider's legs as they walk, digging out melon-sized grubs to gorge on succulent blue flesh.
Madness sprouts in their wake, a religious fervour erupting in settlements that drives the afflicted to scale their new gods and worship at their peaks, replenishing the ranks of Zealots that have climbed within grasping mouths, food for the gods.

 

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A Bitter Spirit Called Regret


We finally managed to find the time to actually start our Cörpathium campaign again, so we cosied-up the studio, made two jugs of Goblin Punch [lots of apple/lime/kiwi/banana/mint juice and lime and pineapple soda water and vodka and… look lots of sugar and it ruined me for the next day and I lost my voice around the 6th hour but it was worth it, it tasted like the mid-point of a party where you’re like, “things could go horribly wrong, or this could be the best night of my life, I’m going to find out”], printed some fresh new character sheets, pulled up the spreadsheet for the Rookery of Van Möldus, and rolled our little hearts out.

 

I had this idea to start everyone as 0 level and only gain a class when they do something to earn it or find a spellbook they can read or have religious fever dreams or something, kind of like a DCC funnel except with a single character each and let loose in the sandbox instead of a set adventure. Have to say, it worked pretty damn well.

 

Everyone but Ellen used the automated NPC Birthing Sacs to get an idea for their character, so after rolling for equipment we ended up with:

 

Ellen: Senorita Dos Lumpos, Francish lady in a ridiculously big frothy skirt with a horrible rusted knife and a copper pot.

 

Roy: Azarnoush Al Zahir, softly spoken Moorish giant (17 Strength) carrying a bronze dagger broken from a statue, still with partial finger attachment, a corpsecatcher pole, and three black candles.

 

Rose: Maddock Mohrghast, an imposingly big but weak and clumsy Urgoth that may be mentally touched, carrying a sharp copper blade, a bottle of dark “bog” alcohol (that apparently he’s had since he was 7 and it grew his finger back? I don’t know they made that up while I was in the bathroom), two discarded censer balls from the Church of Dust and Ash, a leather satchel with charcoal pencils and half a notebook, two days worth of preserved rat, and a small collection of mouse skulls.

 

Michael: finally rolled an Intelligence over 5 (well, not on the first try but I let him roll them all again), Elena Sanguine, a petite Francish girl missing an eye, carrying a black blade and a tarnished brass looking glass full of creeping fungus.

 

Bulletpoint play report after the gameporn.

 

 

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This Place is Crawling with Tables


It all started when I found the old AD&D Lankhmar supplement, which features this gorgeous map right here:

See all those white boxes? The supplement contains neighbourhood geomorphs that you randomly insert when the players move off the main streets and into the ‘burbs, and even suggests changing the geomorph if the players don’t go back there for a while to make the city feel more alive. I know, it’s wonderful.

 

Around this time I was also having chats with the also wonderful Jeremy Duncan about mapping Cörpathium and his own Galbaruc, and the trouble of figuring out how much is too much, what to nail down and what to keep loose. Because as pretty as the above map is, forget that.

 

Really what I want is to capture the sprawling mutability of cities like Viriconium and Ambergris, something you experience by running around in it rather than poring over a lavishly drawn map, with just enough grounding to make it work as a game.

 

 

OKAY SO WHAT DO YOU SUGGEST SMART GUY?

 

Map your main streets. That gives you a framework, points of reference, clever/punny street names for players to remember. Everything else though? Doesn’t matter until it matters.

 

When your players want/need off a main street drop a d4 and a d6 (try to use a d6 with sharp corners, you need that random bounce). If the numbers match, there aren’t any reachable exits.

 

Otherwise, treat the d4 as the player’s position on the street, facing the way you are. The number is how many alleys they can see, and the points of the dice show the rough direction they’re in. Add them clockwise from whatever point is closest to the d6.

If there are 4 alleys put the 4th wherever.

You might prefer to drop the dice directly onto the map instead, do whatever makes you happy, I’m not your mother.

 

There’s also this roughly where the d6 landed:

 

1.  Someone left their door open

2.  Public house

3.  Sewer entrance

4.  Way to climb onto building

5.  Lesser street

6.  Intersecting lesser street

 

So if you rolled like below, there’s four reachable alleys; one back off in the direction of the 2, one ahead in the direction of the 1, one directly off to the right thanks to the 3, and another one wherever takes your fancy. The d6 came up as a 5, so there’s a lesser street leading away back on the left side of the main street.

 

 Okay so now we’re running around in alleys, fun!

 

Every time the players enter an alley, drop the d4 and d6 again and generate the exits like before, using the tables below. If the numbers are the same, there’s a complication.

 

 

AlleyCrawling
d4Points of Diced6
1Alley.1Back door.
2Alley.2Darkened nook.
3Alley.3Boarded-over alley.
4Alley.4Way to climb onto building.
5Reachable window.
6Alley complication.

 

 

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Horrors of the Unknown: The Family Man


The thing shambles at you out of the dark, its phallus half hard and bobbing before it as it walks, heavy testicles churning beneath its girth. Something viscous seems to be slowly dripping from its tip, until suddenly it sucks back inside. As you brace your shield and unsheathe your blade similarities to a snail’s eye occur to your subconscious. The thing shudders and retches on itself and the base of its cock swells to triple the original girth and continues to inflate until something you cannot fathom emerges from the tip. The beast wails in pain and terror and collapses to the floor.

 

Have you seen the snails infected by mind-controlling worms? Like that. Something that enters your penis and takes residence in your scrotum after consuming your testicles, it needs the room, it is not small. Penises can be surprisingly elastic, but fuck it hurts. But you don’t process that. The chemicals it’s pumping into your bloodstream just make you want to mate. Make you want to woo. It is always looking for the perfect host, someone pleasing to the opposite sex. It needs you to find a mate. It needs it to be consensual and loving. It needs your mate to care for the offspring once you have passed away from a mysterious wasting disease, right up until hundreds of its kind emerge from her womb amidst screams and blood and madness.

 

It is not completely averse to you engaging in same-sex relations, it has found that to be a very convenient way of entering a handsome new host.

 

Cocks can be both invaded and invading. NO ONE IS SAFE.


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