Wednesday, October 30, 2019

dragon poem

Dragons are living
In coils
Where the sun doesn't shine
Far below the water
They laugh
They scoff at us

We are fast
They have been together
Pierced by daggers
Memorialized in quatrain
But alive
Their eyes are red
Their tongues, red
Sleek, shining
Finely adorned
Who eat
Who cut
They come out at night
And fill
And return to their waiting nests
Where rivers pour

I wish I could see them
But, hidden, underground
They are safe
And can exist apart

Last week my players fought their first dragon: Corvenon, Son of Valathex, who guards the Flying Fortress of the Sky Witch, and finally decided after enough of their shenanigans that they deserved to die. They weren't expecting this, and he stripped their wizard and bard of 2/3 of their HP in his first round with his poison dream fog breath breath, and they put up a wall of force and ran. I'm very proud of Corvenon. I hope he never dies.

Monday, October 21, 2019

spell ideas

spell takes one power or spell from one character and gives it to another
spell makes an area assume the qualities of night time
spell allows seeing through walls
spell makes person exceedingly small, size of mouse
spell creates rays of golden light
spell causes object to swell
spell causes object to melt that wouldn't otherwise
spell causes object to float and bob buoyantly, either in air or in water
spell causes own skin to become poisonous
spell allows you to move so fast as to be instantaneous, but no additional movement speed
spell makes body stretchy and rubbery
spell guarantees a good night's sleep
spell pulls disease out of body as a slug, slug now causes disease
spell causes song or message to hang in the air, repeating
spell allows you to eavesdrop back in time
spell creates an exceedingly sharp and long lance
spell causes you to melt into fluid form, move quickly
spell shoots you straight up, then fall very slowly
spell makes only one part of your body poisonous
spell creates unnatural winter
spell summons an elf
spell makes person short-sighted, cannot see more than ten feet
spell allows you to see fine details at a distance of one mile or more
spell gives you extra arms
spell gives you claws for one attack, reaction?
spell creates multiple illusory doubles in sight, you teleport

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

the west

It is said that Deirregex, the Black Dragon, came out of the west, and drove out the frost giants of the Hatemountain, and made war upon the white elves of Velenheim, and made their civilization into ruin

To the west lies great Belmric, the city in snow, and the wastes around Belmric are covered in the bones of the wars brought to the city, and over the bones the many winters of snow have fallen, and more bones, and ice

West of Belmric, the Merelunds, where the seven cursed lakes lie in fog, and the seven city-states make slow wars in the deep fog, except for Dead Kizaad, which was laid waste by Vlaurung, the Red Dragon

West of the Merelunds it said lies the Kingdom of Lamdru, who was born of the Egg Moon, and keeps 700 wives

It is said that the worst spirits can be called from the West, that they are invincible, indestructible, and possessed of unbreakable strength, and unbreakable resolve, and a desire for murder, but can be tricked with simple tasks, which they devote all their attention and care to, until they are released, and called back to the West

Hagar Blath, Queen of the Witches, who rules in the Mountains of Hunger, came out of the west as well, and usurped the Sky Witch, who fled in her Flying Fortress and was not seen for years uncounted

The spirits of the North and the South are sometimes called good, for they are at worst benign, or trickster spirits, who at their own leisure do not make murder or wreak harm, only small mischiefs, or even aid

The spirits of the East are cruel, unapproachable, powerful, and capricious. Beware a dry east wind. But beware most the high, cold winds that blow strongly from the west, for it is a herald of death

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

the known planes of existence

These are the dimensions my players have had direct contact with. They're getting high level and this stuff is coming up more and more frequently, sometimes in worrying ways. They haven't traveled personally to any other dimensions yet (pretty sure), but have dealt with interlopers from or have had to deal with the effects of them.

Reality -- this of course is where everything happens

Plane of Fire -- they've met a handful of conjured fire elementals, and found a puzzlebox that seems connected to the plane of fire somehow. Most recently they've met the elemental Salliflax, who keeps the Flying Fortress of the Sky Witch afloat. He's basically Calcifer.

Hell -- they helped a young noblewoman at a black market auction buy a magical diving bell which can transport those inside directly to Hell. What is Hell? Common knowledge says devils come from Hell, and bad people go to Hell when they die, but the slain Demon Lords were on Earth from the start. Players have not yet made the journey to Hell. It's hard to find the time, but the noblewoman who took the trip reported that she had a direct view of Castle Satan.

Realm of Fenrath, God of Wolves -- in very first adventure, players found a magic glass that looked into a vast, darkened forest. The gods retreated to their separate realms after they defeated the demon lords, and do not venture out.

"Hot Car Dimension" -- players looted a ring from a trio of beast-headed demons that can conjure a scalding hot door, behind scalding hot door is a small, metal, scalding hot room. They put things in there they want to forget about, like frost demons. They aren't sure of its true nature but it's definitely another plane or demiplane. Hot Car Dimension is just what they call it.

Whatever's embedded in the Hyperplasmic Gap of the Silk Wall -- they found a path through the massive wall that separates the Blighted Lands from Orostranthy, but when they looked within, they found a great ocean of gold, a foreign sky, and an alien creature sunning itself on obsidian plinths. They declined to explore and flew over the wall instead.

Whatever's surrounding the Thrice Cursed Prison of Dendric Vast -- crawling over the ramparts from the inside of the prison leads to a darkened, blighted landscape covered in ruins and alien creatures. Three alien moons float in the sky, the stars are too close and bright. What is this place?

Other possible planes of existence?

Other Elemental Planes -- I'm not sure they've ever met or conjured other elementals than fire, but given the spell options they must exist, right?

Plane of Slime -- they found a triumvirate of slaad conjuring a river of slime from a tortured unicorn. Also issuing forth, a variety of horrible insect monsters. Killing the slaad closed the portal, so no chance to explore further.

Carcosa -- they've stumbled on a handful of references to this place. Might be an alien planet, might be another plane of existence, maybe it's somewhere in reality?

Other "stars" and "planets" -- these seem to be places one could travel to. They found a magic orrery that lets them project their mind to these places. They found hideous monsters of alien intelligence that blasted them with psychic assaults, among other mysteries.

The Other Celestial Realms -- where are they? how does one get there? How many exist? It's widely known Belm, Izorides, and Otin have retreated to their own realms, but are there others? The wizard Malagon of the Cruelest Eye desires to kill a god and steal their blood for his divine crucible, in order to forge a ring of flight, but cannot find a way in.

Astral Plane -- Astral plane, what's that? It's on the 9th level spell list so it must exist, but . . .

Wherever demons come from that's not reality and not Hell -- they've met many many demons that are summoned or at least seem to appear from somewhere else, and that place is not Hell, probably. So.. what is it?

Planes that do not exist

Heaven -- absolutely not

Ethereal Plane -- I disallowed the spell etherealness because I don't like how it lets you phase through objects so freely, and because I think the ethereal plane is lame and boring.

Any of the other standard D&D outer planes, like, I don't know, Limbo, and any alignment focused planes. They are so many of them I can't keep them straight and I don't like the monsters.

Shadowfell and Feywild -- just not my jam

The Abyss -- Cool high fantasy concept but I prefer demons to be a little more malleable and variable. The word "demon" seems to be a catch-all for a variety of horrible spirits and monsters, most of them connected to or allied with the slain Demon Lords, but many of them not. Anyway, the Abyss as imagined in second through fifth edition D&D does not exist.

I think that covers it for now.

Monday, September 9, 2019


king has stairs in his chest leading down
king kills anyone who comes before him, this is widely known and accepted
king has gone to live on foreign star, promises to return
king wields sword, only weapon that can slay him
king has killed all the dragons except one
king can see your moral failings
king has one red side, one human side, red side exists in hell
king has dagger in his chest from attempted assassination, if dagger removed, king dies and kingdom goes with it
king has flooded throneroom with swamp water
king has flooded throneroom with his own tears
king has flooded throneroom with blood from own subjects
king emits strange song whenever his mouth opens
king is completely silent, never talks or moves
king will move again in 25 years, until that, you're on your own
king is weak and easily subdued
king enjoys watching children, children are with him at all times
king is only one who knows the way to the true throneroom
king is only one who knows he is not the true king
king has locked his double in a tower underground, if they come within 10 feet, they both die
king holds a scepter that determines the true heir
king has strange wife
king has evil wife
king's wife has disappeared
king has four princes and one princess, each is battling for control of kingdom
king has forgotten his identity
king has been cursed to be a strange object or animal
king has been cursed so that his hands are extremely heavy
king always sees one day into the future
king knows how his kingdom will fall, desperately working to prevent this
king has kindly wife
evil king
king is jealous of other king, works his subjects far too hard in order to beat this other king
king plotting to gain control of sun or moon or important weather (storms, winter), in order to further shore up his claim to the throne
king can bring the dead to life
king has one golden hand
everything king touches turns to wheat
king is guarded by two angels, who give him divine guidance and friendship
king is wisest in all the land, except he is too old and no one listens
king has trusted councilor who gives evil advice, is working for evil end
king has sworn fealty to an evil emperor, cannot see or overlooks his flaws
king desires a surplus of beautiful maidens
king's wife desires of surplus of exotic fruit (pomegranates, tangerines, cherries)
king has been appointed by demon of hell, maintains reign by demonstrating demonic power

Thursday, March 14, 2019

6 things

g+ dead, back out cold, computer dead, i’m home from work. guess i’ll blog

6 jewels
1. bright red, set in campire to burn it brighter, rest for 1 hour get 1d10 temp hitpoints
2. cold and clear as night sky, sought by Vernalus Varn to contain his unruly twin soul
3. small can fit in fold of palm, gleaming green. piece of sky of shattered Janthus, can empower spells that cause flight to last twice as long, or affect one other person but last 1/2 as long
4. smoky, knuckle sized. crystalized thoughts of self entombed dwarf mage. inside is spell flesh to crystal
5. a pin, on head of pin is fleck of diamond, inside diamond fleck is fortress, the fortress of Yorgund Grasl, hidden king
6. livid purple, shines in starlight bright as a torch. skeletons seek the holder

6 enemy (boss?) powers
1. set all in sight on fire
2. spell cast on it empowered, gets cast by enemy for free next round
3. gleaming shining anime tears (always crying), its sadness gives it unbreakable strength (strength 30), and it can dodge one attack for free every round; if you cheer it up it cant do this
4. its allies are weapons — has like 5-6 guys fighting with it that it can transform into overpowered weapons (scythe, double sword, massive sword, meteor hammer, etc) that all deal at least one dice extra in dmg and like does cleave and are magical
5. turn into shadow when moves, only corporeal when still or attacking
6. shiny rubber skin. can fall from any height. projectile weapons bounce off.

6 friendly NPCs
1. Roga Lorn, bread baker, hates her neighbors, handmakes
miniature figurines to put in her breads as surprises
2. Ferelda Blight, a fine but little known pianist, is always out buying flowers for her house and piano, likely witness to anything the PCs do in public
3. Xelda, a blue-nosed dog, desiring meats and friendship, her owner is always drinking at whatever bar the PCs are at, so Xelda is also always around
4. Posl, gender ambiguous but attractive and a little too rambunctious, training in same weapon as the PC but a little more advanced, eggs PC on to do things maybe not such a great idea
5. Mundo Mon, a walking cleric of the Glass Hills, shows up exclusively when PCs have taken a hard hit, can offer very limited healing for a cheap price, and advice on good nearby views
6. Ultra Vog, a princess in disguise, she appears to be an older man practiced with the machete and hammer, a fan of the PCs, but gets herself into trouble and takes foolhardy risks as soon as she meets them, every single time

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

here's a post

so it's been determined beyond a doubt that zak sabbath is an evil man and should be ostracized from our communities. unfortunately i used to support and admire him. i defended him at times and i'm ashamed of it. certainly his blog and his work is what drew me into the online gaming communities. and in fact, it was his ideas that brought me back into playing dungeons and dragons, and revived my interest in the game. out of all the ideas and theories and writings and books i found, his were the freshest and most intelligent, most usable, clearest, and most aligned with the way i wanted to play the game. and many of his ideas have done well by me over the years, and i use them often.

unfortunately he is also a manipulative narcissist and abuser. i was one of those taken in by him. much could and will be said about the processes by which he manipulated people. for myself, the desire to be cool, to be part of the scene, to be validated and liked by a celebrity, the reluctance to fight, and other more painful insecurities. at times over the past couple days i've felt nausea, anger, disgust, sadness. i take this to be a grief.

finally for me, the decision to break contact with him happened about a year and a half ago, after a long conversation with him, when he failed to follow his own rules, particularly to answer all questions and to assume good faith. and also because of his insane and dehumanizing stated belief that the consequences of a person's actions are inseparable from their core identity. and more than that, his contempt and disdain for the feelings of those he despised and attempted to control, which contempt is the necessary prerequisite for the more serious evils humans perform. i wish i had said something publicly.

others have said this but mandy's post immediately created the feeling of a spell having been lifted. what had been obvious for a long time is simply true. it is a relief.

i do believe that the beautiful things a person makes are separate from them. i was even about to write a review of the immortal zoo of ping feng, which i ran for my new players last month. it was a fun filler dungeon, very engaging and scary for my players, but without the zip of self-created content, and a little bit tough to run due to being disorganized in the writing. however now i can't look at his books without feeling repulsion.

at the same time google plus is dying. for a long time this was my primary way of interacting with other gamers. i've met many people and formed a handful of relationships and done a touch of collaborative work. but to be honest, i preferred the days of blogging. in blog form i found fuller ideas than the brief, social media-y conversations that often happened on g+.

i don't know what will happen with the future. certainly i will keep playing dungeons and dragons. i love this game. i have two gaming groups right now. one is my long-standing group from back in Philly, they're all around level 15 now and digging into a megadungeon i've arranged for them. everything hits like 3-4 times a round, or automatically hits from around corners, or deals damage just for moving, or drains experience points, or permanently poisons, or is immune to and reflects all damage, and meanwhile they're creating a small army and trained their giant wolf to wield a sword in his mouth they've trained their mantis-man to fight with his claws and they've hired a famous cook who's also an ex-mob-leader and they have a diving bell which can transport them to hell and their most used and powerful and often exploited tool is a pair of teapots whose top openings creates a teeny-tiny portal between the two teapots and their potionist can make them potions that cast two spells at once, and they know their rival party "the deadboyz" is somewhere in the megadungeon but they're just not sure exactly where and they're terrified. while my new group in oakland is around level 2-3 and we've had two character deaths so far and they've broken into the royal goblin palace, where david bowie sleeps in a glass coffin in the tallest tower and king nurgle rules over an endless party and communist rats are trying to unionize the anarchist crocodiles who just eat them.

and i've changed a lot over the past year as a dungeon master. more open to the unpleasant feelings the game can create, the fears and insecurities that losing and dying create in people, but which are crucial to the creation of an engaging game. and i'm more explicitly interested in running a game that exists in a zone between easy and frustrating, the zone of pleasant challenge that is unique to every game group.

and i've been working piece-meal on publishing my module, the thrice cursed prison of dendric vast. i'm leaning towards just giving it out for free. finishing the job is better than searching for a publisher and never finishing it or delaying it, i think.

that's all for now.

love, nate