Monday, October 2, 2023

GLoGtober: the Pearlescent Road

 Long ago, before the Quiet Conquest, before the Concord of Cor Ecclesiae, there was a shining road that spanned the length of the subcontinent. At one end, Cor Ecclesiae, the great cathedral, the beating heart at the center of what was then simply the Orthodoxy. At the other, the sagacious spires of Scholomance, tall and proud against the yet-virgin mountains. The daisy-chain crown of Sordheim, paved with pearls plucked from the heart of the sea, they say.

Then Merlin wrote the Opprobrium, and it all went to shit.


1 I A hailstorm of deformed, worthless pearls.

2 N A handaxe, a sword, and a trident imbedded in a dead tree trunk, each wrought of lead and inscribed with the cosmo gram. They fly out and attack any magic they hear.

3 F The ghost of Sir Moggdwynn sitting on a rock; he can’t pass on until he earns a mancala victory, and he’s dogshit at mancala.

4 I A stone golem that overliterally follows every command given to it by anyone holding or wearing a cosmogram, and immediately attacks anything it understands to be magic. It asks which way to Hell.

5 V A moon beast camouflaged as a pine tree in photonegative. It’s covered in paralytic goo, and its every needle is a serrated tongue.

6 E An impossibly withered old man, or perhaps a very wrinkly baby, in a howdah carried by four frog-people carved from emerald. He is asleep. If he wakes up, he screams in three voices at once as an earthquake opens a fiery rift under the disrupting party.

7 F A chunk of pearl-lined path is suspended 50 feet in the air. Walking under it sweeps you up in anti-gravity, with your feet set on this inverted path and your head towards the world below.

8 L An abandoned watchtower. The spartan basement, locked from the outside, contains a werewolf in human form, languishing in malnourishment.

9 A A cabin, trapped inside of which is moon beast that’s all mouth and legs. It ate the lumberjack and his wife without trouble, but it won’t leave because it’s terrified of their utterly unbothered cat.

10 V The roots of three trees grow around a ten-foot, polished diamond sphere. Pressing your ear against it, you hear wet, ragged breathing.

11 O A broken, pearl-edged bridge over a small river that doesn’t seem to flow. You can walk over the bridge as if it were intact, but the impossibly still water below resists reemergence with the strength of hardened hot glue.

12 R A roadside chapel from before the Merlinian Conflict, overgrown with mushrooms with crescent-marked caps. The spores force out unwanted truths, but on the altar inside is a valuable antique silver cosmogram.

13-20 No encounter.


For a while, I’ve been using two acronyms to round out out random encounter tables. For random encounters, e.g. those in a dungeon, I use IN FIVE (Interruption, Numerous, Friendly, Indifferent, Violent, Extreme). For random structures, e.g. those found during overland travel, I use FLAVOR (Fane, Lair, Abandoned, Vault, Oddity, Ruin).

To test for an encounter in a dungeon, roll a d12: 1-6 maps to IN FIVE, 7-12 no encounter

To test for an encounter while traveling, roll a d20: 1-6 maps to IN FIVE, 7-12 maps to FLAVOR, 13-20 no encounter

(and if you roll a structure, you can use the regional IN FIVE as a dungeon encounter table)

GLoGtober is off to a fantastic start this year. (This post brought to you by Locheil.) Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Saturday, August 26, 2023


 Here are some new rules, built off of RBSDnD, for an upcoming game I'm running in a more traditional fantasy style than Pb. Take it, for now, plus these reference images I've been collecting and annotating. Hopefully more to show soon- ideally a map or something?

The taigas and tundras of Vaneland and outer Sordheim, in their ice-hearted beauty.

    One of the spider-boats used to cross the ice field between outer Sordheim and the Durnish Lands.

The prophet X pierces the veil for the first time and glimpses the Nethersphere in all its perverse grandeur.

A Senior Lecturer in Exorcism and Binding Studies teaching pupils at Mordent Academy by wrestling with a Daimon.

The Society of the Angled Circle invoking a Daimon in utmost secrecy.

Panem et circensis for the Vanish aristocracy.

A wedding between Lesser Houses.
(Incidentally, my current favorite painting in the Yale art gallery, and potentially anywhere.)

A troupe of Revelers, eternally restless in their worship.

Music nurtures the soul- a profane truth the pontificate of the Outer Orthodoxy cannot ameliorate.

The ramshackle altar of a Reveler conclave.

Sue, that'll work for now. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Monday, August 21, 2023

An Idiot's Guide to Chemistry and/or the Infernal Arts: 2 new RBSDnD classes

 ALCHEMISTS brew impossibility into liquid being. Whether you are a chemist, apothecary, or forager, you can bottle miracles.

  • While resting for the night, you can brew two random elixirs with a one-day shelf life.
  • You can identify magic by taste.
  • Start with 2 random pieces of equipment, your reagent-mixing equipment, and a weapon.

ALCHEMIST ELIXIRS. Interpret freely and liberally.





















DIABOLISTS dip into immoral secrets to seize malevolent magical power. Whether you are a cultist, demonologist, or harlequin, you abandoned the well-lit road long ago.

  • You know 2 random DIABOLIST SPELLS. You have 3 SLOTS with which to cast them.
  • You can pull out and reinsert your sensory organs.
  • Start with 2 random pieces of equipment, an icon of your misdeeds, and a weapon.

DIABOLIST SPELLS. Interpret freely and liberally, though strenuous casting requires a CHA roll.





















Random class (roll 1d6 for even distribution, d20 for diegetic proportion):







Pondering using RBSDnD for my upcoming game. Wanted to put a little more meat on the bones in terms of character creation, and free myself from the one-page constraint by blasting that door off its hinges. Watch this space for developments there. Otherwise, thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

Link-flavored slush

I've been collecting blog posts that have sparked something creative in me for a little while. That collection has gotten...

...well, you can see for yourself. Time to liquidate.


Poetic Keying. Using shortform poetry to constrain the description for dungeon rooms/hexes. Might be a good way to write a dungeon for A Weary Work to Do, what with the one-page formatting constraint and the thematic connection to flyting. The real disadvantage is that I don't really write full room descriptions in my notebook that I DM out of, so if I were to write a dungeon with this, it would be for the blog only, and I kind of hate doing that.

Four-Image Setting. This idea intrigues me, but none of the cool pictures I have stockpiled have really lit this sort of fire in me. I see some worldbuilding in my future, though, so maybe I'll revisit this, especially as I need to make it something fairly simple and easy to onboard new players into.

Orgami Hexes seem a fun way to make a hexcrawl tangible and more feasibly ran. If I were to run a hexcrawl, I might give this a shot.


Hallways. This is one of two posts that address the space between big, setpiece dungeon rooms. A random table of ways to spice up what might otherwise be a mundane hallway.

Myth of the Map. On the other end of the spectrum, this post by Runehammer (who I think is a genius of dungeon design, especially for his TTT method, which I implore you to google) advocates for the handwaving of hallway space and empty rooms between climactic scenes. While this philosophy probably wouldn't work well in your average OSR game, it compelled me, and I might experiment with it.

This dungeon is keyed in a way that doesn't make me want to kill myself, seems a feasibly runnable size, and thematically seems like it would fit well in Pb as-is, even more so with some slight tweaking. If I weren't allergic to running non-homebrew, this would have been at my table already.


Achievements are always fun, and the mind reels with possibility as to how to integrate these into a system or campaign.

Delver Class. I am always torn between classless and classed games: on the one hand, "adventurers tend to be one of X varieties" rubs me the wrong way in principle, but on the other hand, I crave the mechanical progression and thematic support that classes offer. This class shows a world in which I get my cake and eat it, too.


Draconic Elements. A more gameable alternative to the four elemental planes. Makes me also wonder how much better a wuxing cosmology would be... something to consider when next working in a kitchen sink fantasy headspace.

d100 Spells. Consistently top-notch and creative; many examples of giving a traditional spell a facelift through the addition of an interesting constraint.


What's on your backburner? What blog posts have been burning a hole in the back of your mind? Let me know in the comments, or through a post of your own. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Tuesday, July 25, 2023

A High Fantasy

 Wrote this adventure for a very successful RBSDnD d6e game (which changed how combat and a couple of classes worked a tad); what you see is a messy expansion of my personal notes with the fucked-up horror dials set above where they were for my middle schoolers. It’s not my most polished adventure notation, but I think it serviceable enough to communicate the most important parts. Enjoy A High Fantasy!


One cycle ago, on the last waxing gibbous, Mother Hubbard divorced Queen Mab, forfeiting her position as Queen of the Seelie Court. Now, the Seelie Throne lies vacant, and Mab’s heartbreak manifests as the Blight, a plague that blackens vegetation and twists creatures towards their darkest vices. The Blight has just surrounded the hamlet Happily Ever After, and Mother Hubbard fears that if it consumes the Grandfather Tree, as it is set to do the next moonrise after the coming full moon, it will darken the forest forever. As long as the heartbroken Queen Mab remains in the Unseelie Throne, the Blight will spread…


MOTHER HUBBARD, ex-Queen of the Seelie Court. From her boot at the edge of Happily Ever After, she intends to employ a team of adventurers (players) to create an amnesia potion, correctly assuming that Queen Mab can’t spread the Blight if she doesn’t remember the hurt. To make it, she needs a golden egg (found in the henhouse next to Camelot), an eye of newt (found in Hubbard’s Wunderkabinet), and Queen Mab’s heart (found in her chest; the wedding ring Hubbard makes is an acceptable substitute, should it be pointed out to her).

WHISKERSHINS, Hubbard’s clueless, plucky cat familiar.

QUEEN MAB, Queen of the Unseelie Court. Her broken heart is the Blight. She’s locked herself in Bleak Ending, grieving a love that burned for centuries, and now burns her alive.

ISOLDE, Mab’s dour raven familiar, serving as the Queen’s eyes across the forest.

BARON KLOPP, terminally ill ruler of the giants. He intends to make a play at the Seelie throne once Mother Goose heals him, not yet realizing that what he has can’t be cured, even by the best. His cloud palace, Camelot, is parked above the highest branches of the Grandfather Tree.

MOTHER GOOSE, sister of Queen Mab. A remarkable doctress and amateur hedge wizard. Also a bird. She has been trying and failing to find a cure for Baron Klopp since before the Blight started. She never liked Mother Hubbard, and will resist giving up the golden egg if she catches wind of Hubbard’s “latest hare-brained scheme. Honk.”

BIG BAD, the Blighted guardian of Hubbard’s Wunderkabinet. Normally a more erudite psychopath, his irregular patch of ash-grey fur and blood-red eyes betray his unwilling descent into mere bestial violence.


HAPPILY EVER AFTER, the only human village in the High Forest. The Blight’s surrounding the city is what incited Mother Hubbard, who lives in the giant shoe at the end of the lane, into action.

THE GRANDFATHER TREE, a mammoth oak nestled behind the mists of the Lost Peaks. Looms higher than any tower man could build, with a trunk that might take an hour to circle. Hidden in its heart sits the empty Seelie throne. At its peak is docked Camelot, the cloud palace of Baron Klopp. He’s doubled up velvet-clad outside of the henhouse, blocking the door to Mother Goose’s makeshift workshop inside. Next to her medical equipment are two golden eggs.

HUBBARD’S WUNDERKABINET, a dry storage for alchemical reagents. Guarded by the Blighted Big Bad. Inside are shelves and shelves of ingredients, among them the Eye of Newt. Other possible additions to the inside of the cabinet are a Blight-touched vignette or one of Phlox’s Adventure Components.

BLEAK ENDING, the epicenter of the Blight. Growing out of a glass ziggurat is a giant black rose dripping with blood-red honey, visible from as far as the Grandfather Tree. Inside the ziggurat, Queen Mab sits mournfully on the Unseelie throne. 

(An aside: you may notice that the High Forest was originally a Forgotten Realms construct. That’s because the camp I worked at has an ongoing skit set in Neverwinter, so I thought it would be cool to have this game also take place there in case any camper were to go on and play in the Realms on down the line. “Woah, Neverwinter, like Kian and Clay versus the Owlbear! And the High Forest! I remember climbing the Grandfather Tree with an arrow tied to the Magician’s Rope…” I didn’t use any FR lore to make this adventure, though; just geography and place names.)

BLIGHT-TOUCHED VIGNETTES (from order of least to most fucked)

1 Two tall trees bully a sapling out of sunlight; the pixie who animated the trio looks on sadistically

2 The dish and the spoon hiding from the vengeful, spurned fork

3 Little Red Riding Hood, clad in namesake bloody pelts, hunting another wolf to skin alive

4 Hansel and Gretel devouring a gingerbread house as, inside, a witch, burning alive, starts an oven fire

5 Pinocchio, interrupted as he’s about to cut off the nose that’s making him so insecure

6 Two of King Wenceslas’s shiniest men trying to convince Humpty Dumpty not to jump


1 BAND OF BEAST SPEECH, a ring decorated with dancing creatures that translates animal speech.

2 PATIENT ACORN, which explodes into an adult oak once planted.

3 SPYGLASS OF DESIRE, a kaleidoscope that shows what someone wants most.

4 MAGICIAN’S ROPE, sturdy silk scarves that can be indefinitely procured from one’s wrist.

5 ROSE KNIGHT BLADE, a bastard sword that grows a thicket of roses when stabbed in the ground.

6 POTION OF TRUE LOVE, that tastes of summer honey and just might work, in the right light.

I promise my notebook looks cooler and less smear-y in person. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Wednesday, July 19, 2023

d6-only RBSDnD

 Forgot my d20 at home these past couple of weeks at camp. Wrote up this d6-only variation on RBSDnD instead. Very similar to past iterations, just more accessible for those without d20 handy. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Friday, July 7, 2023

RBSDnD 2e, or, OSE for summer campers

    In preparation of running more DnD for summer campers in coming weeks, I've looked back on RBSDnD and updated it with the dividends of last summer's playtesting. Here's what I've changed:

  • I've reduced the number of classes from 7 to the core 4. There are many reasons for this, but the two main ones are that the high specificity of the previous classes created a sense of character concept claustrophobia, and that explaining the difference between fewer classes allows for an easier, more informed choice upon character creation. (The downside is that we lose the clarity of the design process, making "make your own class" a more hollow invitation.)
  • I removed the attack roll, as the two-step attack process was slow to explain and enact, despite making possible granular effects like weapon FUMBLES. I also changed all HIT DICE to d6, bringing the number of dice required to play RBSDnD R.A.W. down to just the common d6 and the d20, which I couldn't conscionably remove from the game and still call it DnD.
  • Beyond those major structural changes, I cleaned up some verbiage and cut some cruft, like the shield, my nebulous dungeon-stacking guidance, and a list of potential rewards in place of rules for leveling up. This new version is more concise and internally consistent to accommodate the expanded classes.
    Here's a link to the new version. The old version will still be available here, under the name 2022e, but I'll update the link on the right to reflect the edition change. As I test it over the coming weeks, I anticipate patching some leaks, so watch this space.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

GLoGtober: the Pearlescent Road

  Long ago, before the Quiet Conquest, before the Concord of Cor Ecclesiae, there was a shining road that spanned the length of the subconti...