Friday, August 28, 2015


Today is a reminder that Valley of Blue Snails and Planet Algol are both awesome.  those humans should publish books.  i would buy those books

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


some players sometimes wish to play Tolkien-style Dwarves.  here are some options for stuff that come from the nordic mythology


Dwarven Names: Dvalin (“the sleeping one” Dvale = sleep, led dwarves to new home in

the sand), Motsognir (“battle-roarer”), Durin, Lit, Fjalar, Galar, Alvis (“all-wise”), Eitri,

Brokkr, Hreidmar (greedy father of Otr, Fafnir, and Regin, loved gold and gems, chained

3 “gods” [demons?]), Alfrik, Berling, Grer, Fafnir (powerful arm and fearless soul,

owned Aegishjalmr, guarded Hreidmar’s hoard, strongest and most aggressive of the

sons, conspired with Regin to kill Hreidmar to get the Andvarinaut, greatest Dwarven

crime of all, turned into Black Dragon as punishment somehow??  Killed by Sigurd), Otr

(son of Hreidmar, could turn into an otter and gobble fish.  Killed by loki for some

reason, Hreidmar demanded Loki fill his skin and cover it in gold, but a whisker was

exposed so Hreidmar got Andvarinaut too.  Eventually caused him to be killed by his

other two sons) , Regin (wise and craftful, built Hreidmar’s golden house.  Conspired

with Fafnir and killed Hreidmar; Fafnir then turned into a dragon and chased him away.

Regin went and lived amongst humans, and taught them how to do basically everything.

Trained Sigurd to kill Fafnir and built him a magic sword which broke, then reforged

Gram, Sigurd’s father’s sword.  He learned from Fafnir that Regin planned to kill him

and take the gold so he killed Regin), Mimir, Andvari (could turn into a fish, lived under

a waterfall, cursed Andvarinaut when Loki forced him to give it up), Aldberich (king of

dwarves, jealously guarded his treasure, killed by humans), Alfr, Gandalfr, Vindalfr,

Bilis, Bliant, Gribalo, Glodoalan, Sindri, Ivaldi

“The Mountainhomes”: Nidavellir

Dwarf Artifacts: Tirfing (sword, cursed to kill every time it is drawn, will cause 3 great

disasters, “shines with fire”, golden hilt, never misses, cuts stone and iron as easily as

clothes, never rusts), Skioblaonir (folding boat, big enough to fit an army, fair wind will

always follow it, can travel over land or water), Gugnir (spear, “Unwavering One”,

always hits its target, ), Draupnir (golden bracer, infinite wealth; every nine days it

spawns another 8 golden bracers), Mjolnir (warhammer, “Mealer”, adds damage to

blows, always hits, adds distance, can shrink, comes with magic belt and gauntlets).

Andvarinaut (produces gold, brings destruction for those who own it), ægishjálmr (can

turn wearer invisible), Ridill (sword), Hrotti (sword)

“The Spine Mountains”: Harz

“Vaettir”: common magical race from which dwarves, elves and giants are descended

“Earth”: Heimar

Aettir: family/clan

Alfar: Elves

Jotnar: Giants

Nair: dead/death

Nisse: Undead

Draugr: Dwarven Evil Ghost

Dvergar: Dwarves

Dvur: Dwarf

Gullinbursti: magical boar

Monday, July 27, 2015


Eritrieu had been lucky.  He was not a pleasant man to look upon; his hollow eye socket was disconcerting.  Several days' beard covered his coarse features.  His skin and hair were burnt brown, like desert.
He was lucky.  He was far from home.  He could barely hear his God amongst these strangers.  Earlier, he had befriended a Lizard Tribe.  Not long ago, he murdered some wayward hedge knight and stole his armor and personal affects.  The knight's horse had been killed in the fight, but he kept the saddlebags anyway.  The shield was battered, bearing three yellow mockingbirds on a green field.  The dark-green cape had gotten torn and muddy.
Amble Edge was, at that time, a boom-town and a haven of debauchery.  Once past the gates, The Eyeless One went straight to the mead hall, which was spacious and loud.  
His feet hurt.  His head hurt.  All he had eaten for three days were the dead knight's dried peas.  He had moved fast overland.  Uphill travel; wending sleeves of fog through the forest, with intermittent showers.
But, the unknown knight had been a rich man.  100 silver Moons in a stolen pouch pleased Eritrieu, and soon his thoughts turned to ale.  He ordered a triceratops steak, hung his shield with the others and surveyed the patrons of the establishment.  A huge, 100-legged furry creature occupied one portion of the hall.  It seemed asleep. Lumberjacks and mercenaries beat & drank each other senseless, dogs & pick-pockets scrabbled on the floor. Wolfmen fought Lizardmen, and zombie wenches danced slowly.  Eritrieu, however, was more intrigued by a Bone-Man, sitting by himself and crying invisible tears.  His skeletal fingers scratched at his skull over sniffling coming from his empty nasal concha.  He was pouring ale after ale down his gullet, as it splashed down through his ribs.  There were many tankards lying empty around him, as well.
Eritrieu greeted the skeleton, making the sign of the Peaceful Cut.  
"What ails you, Bone-Man?"
The Bone-Man looked up, and Eritrieu stared into the rictus.

"I am Dickie-Dee, the Bone-Man.  I have lost my manhood, my flesh, my brain, and the only woman I could ever love, and I can no longer even taste ale."
Eritrieu furrowed his brow.  “How can a simple Bone-Man afford this ale?”
Dickie-Dee collapsed onto the table, sobbing the tears of the dead.  “I can’t.  I’m running out of silver.”
It was then that a fellow caught Eritrieu’s eye.  Standing by the fireplace was an elderly man with swept white hair and an aristocrat’s easy boredom.   As he caught the eye of the Eyeless One, Eritrieu watched him raise a glass of wine in toast.
Eritrieu crossed the hall, making a pretense of drying himself by the fire.  
“Greetings,” said Eritrieu, making the sign of the Peaceful Cut.
Now that he was close, the old gentleman was not as dashing as he appeared from afar.  His clothes were last year’s, and cheap perfume lingered about him.  He looked gaunt and pale.
“Greetings, sir,” said the old man, taking a sip of dark wine.
“I’m looking for work.  I know how to use this.”  Eritrieu patted his sword.
The aristocrat looked startled for a moment.  Then a strange, cold light came into his eyes.  
“Perhaps.”  His voice was phlegmatically lachrymose.  He took another sip of wine.   Eritrieu noticed that his teeth were unusually sharp.  
The old man stepped closer, into the firelight.  “I need pick-pockets.  Alive, or freshly dead.  Their lives are forfeit anyway - you’d be dispensing justice.  Just leave them inside the trap-door to the loft.”
“Is there a reward?”
“Yes - this necklace.”
Eritrieu snatched a pickpocket scrambling by - an urchin of about 14 - and picked him up by the collar.  He stomped over to the trap-door, ripped it open, threw the teen inside and slammed the deadbolt home.
He returned to the vampire.  “Give me the necklace.”
He plucked it from the stunned vampire’s hand.  It was a black cord, from which hung a single onyx and a small, golden representation of a man in a burial shroud.
“It was my father’s,” said the old creature, with the same cold expression in its eyes.
Eritrieu sensed power, and stared deep into the onyx.  A strange feeling came over him - he felt more attuned to death, the world of death, the swirl of metal and anguish and finality.
He put it on (alongside a few goblin ears on a string he’d been saving for a bounty), and turned to get more ale.
In the process, he nearly tripped over a Dwarf.  Both had to move to avoid spilling drinks.  The ancient Hill-Dwarf Blood seemed strong in him, for he was small, pot-bellied, wiry, wrinkly, and his face nutty brown.  In the manner of Hill Dwarves who live among humans, his beard was trimmed.
“Watch it, asshole,” the Dwarf spat.
“Who are you?” growled Eritrieu.
“You address Darvi, of the Crooked-Back Underway. I was a Tunnel-Fighter.”  He wore well-used iron chainmail with a leathern hood and breeches.
“They call me Eyeless Eritrieu, of Barbarian Krax, and some name me Whorebane and Corpse-Reaver as well.”
It was not long before a drinking contest began.  Eritrieu ordered the Purple Death, and the Dwarf took a Spine-Cracker.  Both survived, though drunker than before, and Eritrieu listened briefly to the anatomy of the Zutt before walking away with 5 more silver Moons in his pouch.
Soon growing bored, he sat down on a bench and began idly playing with his dagger.  It was a keen weapon.  
A few mercenaries seemed to have noticed the barbarian’s posturing.  One of them strode over.  “Do you use that often?”
Eritrieu leaned back and looked up at the warrior.  He recognized him - one of the Seven Spartans.  Far Travelers.  They called their band “the Unbreakable Shield-Wall”.  
The barbarian smiled back at him.  “I do.”
Before long, knife games ensued.  Eritrieu began, calling it a “gentlemen’s bet”.  The Spartan readily agreed.  Eritrieu easily took the first game, but the Spartan performed far better when silver was lain on the table.  Eritrieu handily executed a sequence of manuevers, but the Spartan made a serious miscalculation.  During a particularly gallant flourish, he impaled his hand to the table.  All was chaos and screaming as blood spurted and silver jingled quickly between hands in the crowd. The bleeding Spartan returned to his comrades, compressing his wound with his other hand..
Eritrieu sat back, swept his coins into his pouch, and smiled.  
Today, he had been lucky.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

and then there was no sound but the deep growl of the hounds that roared over the wonderful carcase as they wallowed in fabulous blood.

"But Orion was away with his hounds near that great inlet of Elfland where it lay as it were at high tide, touching the very grass of the fields we know. He went there at evening when the horns blew clear to guide him, and waited there all quiet at the edge of those fields for the unicorns to steal across the border. For he hunted stags no more.
And as he went over those fields in the late afternoon folk working on the farms would greet him cheerily; but when still he went eastwards they spoke to him less and less, till at last when he neared the border and still kept on they looked his way no more, but left him and his hounds to their own devices.
And by the time the sun set he would be standing quiet by a hedge that ran right down into the frontier of twilight, with his hounds all gathered close in under the hedge, with his eye on them all lest one of them dared to move. And the pigeons would come home to trees of the fields we know, and twittering starlings; and the elfin horns would blow, clear silver magical music thrilling the chilled air, and all the colours of clouds would go suddenly changing; it was then in the failing light, in the darkening of colours, that Orion would watch for a dim white shape stepping out of the border of twilight. And this evening just as he hushed a hound with his hand, just as all our fields went dim, there slipped a great white unicorn out of the border, still munching lilies such as never grew in any fields of ours. He came, a whiteness on perfectly silent feet, four or five yards into the fields we know, and stood there still as moonlight, and listened and listened and listened. Orion never moved, and he kept his hounds silent by some power he had or by some wisdom of theirs. And in five minutes the unicorn made a step or two forward, and began to crop the long sweet earthly grasses. And as soon as he moved there came others through the deep blue border of twilight, and all at once there were five of them feeding there. And still Orion stood with his hounds and waited.
Little by little the unicorns moved further away from the border, lured further and further into the fields we know by the deep rich earthly grasses, on which all five of them browsed in the silent evening. If a dog barked, even if a late cock crew, up went all their ears at once and they stood watchful, not trusting anything in the fields of men, or venturing into them far.
But at last the one that had come first through the twilight got so far from his magical home that Orion was able to run between him and the frontier, and his hounds came behind him. And then had Orion been toying with the chase, then had he hunted but for an idle whim, and not for that deep love of the huntsman's craft that only huntsmen know, then had he lost everything: for his hounds would have chased the nearest unicorns, and they would have been in a moment across the frontier and lost, and if the hounds had followed they would have been lost too, and all that day's work would have gone for nothing. But Orion led his hounds to chase the furthest, watching all the while to see if any hound would try to pursue the others; and only one began to, but Orion's whip was ready. And so he cut his quarry off from its home, and his hounds for the second time were in full cry after a unicorn.
As soon as the unicorn heard the feet of the hounds, and saw with one flash of his eye that he could not get to his enchanted home, he shot forward with a sudden spring of his limbs and went like an arrow over the fields we know. When he came to hedges he did not seem to gather his limbs to leap but seemed to glide over them with motionless muscles, galloping again when he touched the grass once more.
In that first rush the hounds drew far ahead of Orion, and this enabled him to head the unicorn off whenever it tried to turn to the magical land; and at such turnings he came near his hounds again. And the third time that Orion turned the unicorn it galloped straight away, and so continued over the fields of men. The cry of the hounds went through the calm of the evening like a long ripple across a sleeping lake following the unseen way of some strange diver. In that straight gallop the unicorn gained so much on the hounds that soon Orion only saw him far off, a white spot moving along a slope in the gloaming. Then it reached the top of a valley and passed from view. But that strong queer scent that led the hounds like a song remained clear on the grass, and they never checked or faltered except for a moment at streams. Even there their ranging noses picked up the magical scent before Orion came up to give them his aid.
And as the hunt went on the daylight faded away, till the sky was all prepared for the coming of stars. And one or two stars appeared, and a mist came up from streams and spread all white over fields, till they could not have seen the unicorn if he had been close before them. The very trees seemed sleeping. They passed by little houses, lonely, sheltered by elms; shut off by high hedges of yew from those that roamed the fields; houses that Orion had never seen or known till the chance course of this unicorn brought him suddenly past their doors. Dogs barked as they passed, and continued barking long, for that magical scent on the air and the rush and the voice of the pack told them something strange was afoot; and at first they barked because they would have shared in what was afoot, and afterwards to warn their masters about the strangeness. They barked long through the evening.
And once, as they passed a little house in a cluster of old thorns, a door suddenly opened, and a woman stood gazing to see them go by: she could have seen no more than grey shapes, but Orion in the moment as he passed saw all the glow of the house, and the yellow light streaming out into the cold. The merry warmth cheered him, and he would have rested awhile in that little oasis of man in the lonely fields, but the hounds went on and he followed; and those in the houses heard their cry go past like the sound of a trumpet whose echoes go fading away amongst the furthest hills.
A fox heard them coming, and stood quite still and listened: at first he was puzzled. Then he caught the scent of the unicorn, and all was clear to him, for he knew by the magic flavour that it was something coming from Elfland.
But when sheep caught the scent they were terrified, and ran all huddled together until they could run no more.
Cattle leaped up from their sleep, gazed dreamily, and wondered; but the unicorn went through them and away, as some rose-scented breeze that has strayed from valley gardens into the streets of a city slips through the noisy traffic and is gone.
Soon all the stars were looking on those quiet fields through which the hunt went with its exultation, a line of vehement life cleaving through sleep and silence. And now the unicorn, far out of sight though he was, no longer gained a little at every hedge. For at first he lost no more pace at any hedge than a bird loses passing clear of a cloud, while the great hounds struggled through what gaps they could find, or lay on their sides and wriggled between the stems of the bushes. But now he gathered his strength with more effort at every hedge, and sometimes hit the top of the hedge and stumbled. He was galloping slower too; for this was a journey such as no unicorn made through the deep calm of Elfland. And something told the tired hounds they were drawing nearer. And a new joy entered their voices.
They crossed a few more black hedges, and then there loomed before them the dark of a wood. When the unicorn entered the wood the voices of the hounds were clear in his ears. A pair of foxes saw him going slowly, and they ran along beside him to see what would befall the magic creature coming weary to them from Elfland. One on each side they ran, keeping his slow pace and watching him, and they had no fear of the hounds though they heard their cry, for they knew that nothing that followed that magical scent would turn aside after any earthly thing. So he went labouring through the wood, and the foxes watched him curiously all the way.
The hounds entered the wood and the great oaks rang with the sound of them, and Orion followed with an enduring speed that he may have got from our fields or that may have come to him over the border from Elfland. The dark of the wood was intense but he followed his hounds' cry, and they did not need to see with that wonderful scent to guide them. They never wavered as they followed that scent, but went on through gloaming and starlight. It was not like any hunt of fox or stag; for another fox will cross the line of a fox, or a stag may pass through a herd of stags and hinds; even a flock of sheep will bewilder hounds by crossing the line they follow; but this unicorn was the only magical thing in all our fields that night, and his scent lay unmistakable over the earthly grass, a burning pungent flavour of enchantment among the things of every day. They hunted him clear through the wood and down to a valley, the two foxes keeping with him and watching still: he picked his feet carefully as he went down the hill, as though his weight hurt them while he descended the slope, yet his pace was as fast as that of the hounds going down: then he went a little way along the trough of the valley, turning to his left as soon as he came down the hill, but the hounds gained on him then and he turned for the opposite slope. And then his weariness could be concealed no longer, the thing that all wild creatures conceal to the last; he toiled over every step as though his legs dragged his body heavily. Orion saw him from the opposite slope.
And when the unicorn got to the top the hounds were close behind him, so that he suddenly whipped round his great single horn and stood before them threatening. Then the hounds bayed about him, but the horn waved and bowed with such swift grace that no hound got a grip; they knew death when they saw it, and eager though they were to fasten upon him they leaped back from that flashing horn. Then Orion came up with his bow, but he would not shoot, perhaps because it was hard to put an arrow safely past his pack of hounds, perhaps because of a feeling such as we have to-day, and which is no new thing among us, that it was unfair to the unicorn. Instead he drew an old sword that he was wearing, and advanced through his hounds and engaged that deadly horn. And the unicorn arched his neck, and the horn flashed at Orion; and, weary though the unicorn was, yet a mighty force remained in that muscular neck to drive the blow that he aimed, and Orion barely parried. He thrust at the unicorn's throat, but the great horn tossed the sword aside from its aim and again lunged at Orion. Again he parried with the whole weight of his arm, and had but an inch to spare. He thrust again at the throat, and the unicorn parried the sword-thrust almost contemptuously. Again and again the unicorn aimed fair at Orion's heart; the huge white beast stepped forward pressing Orion back. That graceful bowing neck, with its white arch of hard muscle driving the deadly horn, was wearying Orion's arm. Once more he thrust and failed; he saw the unicorn's eye flash wickedly in the starlight, he saw all white before him the fearful arch of its neck, he knew he could turn aside its heavy blows no more; and then a hound got a grip in front of the right shoulder. No moments passed before many another hound leaped on to the unicorn, each with a chosen grip, for all that they looked like a rabble rolling and heaving by chance. Orion thrust no more, for many hounds all at once were between him and his enemy's throat. Awful groans came from the unicorn, such sounds as are not heard in the fields we know; and then there was no sound but the deep growl of the hounds that roared over the wonderful carcase as they wallowed in fabulous blood."

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Kos, slow Kos, Dead Kos,
Mouldering by the sea,
Where the bones of low hills murmur
Beneath a frowning sky.
I have seen you, in your gray wasted splendor;
To love you is to know that you are insane.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Lone Pine Hill is visible from several miles in each direction.  On the Eastern side of the Kos River Valley, it rises from the surrounding gently sloped valley-floor.  Atop the hillock is a pine, ancient and vast.  It crawls upward, gnarl upon gnarl, a dense titan bristling with dark needles, hundreds of feet high and host to a self-contained ecosystem.

The undisputed master of that ecosystem is the White Serpus of Lone Pine Hill.  Albino and blue-eyed, it spends its days nestled in and amongst the innumerable curving boughs of the Lone Pine, descending only to destroy and devour anything larger than a Murder-Crow that passes beneath its home.

Once, the Serpus was a beautiful young woman.  Her lover traveled far away to war and never returned.  She waited by the Lone Pine until finally her spirit, fetted with jealously at the thought of him finding another, transformed her into a Serpus.  Since then, she has waited in the timeless manner of the Serpus for her lover to return.  Unfortunately, the mind of the Serpus has largely taken control by now, causing her to coil and to choke, to strangle and to envenom and to feed, and to spend dreaming decades in reptilian stupor, dreaming of her lost love.

The Serpus will not attack a young male warrior who does not attack her first.  Instead, she will descend silently and stare with bright blue eyes directly into his face until he does something.  If he treats her with kindness, he may be able to keep her as a "pet".
The only way to transform the Serpus back into the woman she once was is to pronounce (truthfully) that you love her at the Island-Temple at Par-Kos.

Amidst the tangled roots of the Pine lie half-bured the detritus of the Serpus.  Most of it consists of crinkly shed skin and the occasional animal bone or Lowder husk, but wedged between two massive roots is the skeleton of a Far-Traveler from the late 19th Century.  His corpse bears a large silver belt buckle attached to a shred of leather belt, and an antique (but still functional) .50 caliber revolver containing 2 spent shells and 4 unspent shells (should be treated as a magic item - non-Earthlings probably will not immediately grasp how it functions.  Medium range, deals 2d6 damage) along with a Bowie knife (treat as non-magical Dagger +1).  He also wears a gold ring on one finger and a pair of steel spurs.  Other than that, only a few buttons remain.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


This is a magic sword for my Pendragon of Mars campaign.

"Star-Eater" is an ancient electro-sword from before the Apocalypse.  It can function as a normal sword, but this is not the true power.
STAR-EATER can be sheathed in a powerful electric field similar in design to a particle shield, which allows it to slice through any object.  Unlike a regular particle shield, STAR-EATER grows more powerful when it contacts extreme heat, energy, or kinetic force.
In addition, STAR-EATER contains a highly advanced onboard AI.  To activate this AI, several wires which hang from the pommel must be inserted into the wielder's nerve-endings.  Once this is done, the mind of the sword and the mind of the wielder become one.  The Sword is laden with complex spatial cognition algorithms.  When properly connected, the user can make Personal Combat checks at +10 and can also use the Sword to absorb incoming plasma blasts or laser beams.  As the sword absorbs more energy, it gains greater combat bonuses.
The Sword uses up a Type A energy cell every other round when the field is activated, except rounds in which it absorbs energy.  If the Sword is plugged into the wielder, it requires no energy cells (it instead draws from the life-force of the wielder).
Some say that the Sword is cursed, and will cause only destruction and ruin to all around it.  Every time STAR-EATER is plugged into the wielder's nervous system, he must take a check for trait: VENGEFUL