Sunday, March 27, 2022

If You Wish to Know My Story, Do Not Ask Me, but See Me (Jackalopery)

 TALL TALE COSTUMES

You may be a humble Zouave, but that doesn’t mean you haven’t been a place or two, or that you haven’t seen a thing or two. You’ve travelled the whole world, from the spinning plateaus of Babarux to the crystal grottos under Ravensmoot to the perpetually-daylit fenland of Sonnisburg, and you’ve liberated all manner of artifacts from under the bone-pierced and painted noses of the savage, backwards locals. Use these Tall Tales to give your Zouave the trappings of an anthropologist from the Good Old Days. (Each entry inspired by a costume from here; I’d recommend ctl g’ing the associated regalia for your stories and equipment for inspiration and some good old fashioned wonderment.)


1 Declared ruler. Upon seeing your regal countenance and chiseled features, the locals found it only fitting to make you their monarch. And why shouldn’t they? You have a bearing and are a handsome youngster. At least, according to your grandmother. Clad in feathers and fanned by palm fronds, you lived a short but fruitful life of luxury before a pox wiped out your vassals. Always a shame, but what to be done of it? Back to smoky drawing rooms and being stared at by taxidermied animals, you suppose. You can scrounge up two mute fan bearers to follow you about and frond you, as well as other hireling-ly duties, with a week of searching. (Peru)


2 Reincarnation ritual. It took a while for you to notice. The old man on the road called you the wrong name, and swore he met someone who looked exactly like you as a child. The painting of the high priest in that cave had a face almost exactly like yours. The tarot card of the Fool dealt when you ducked into a caravanseri’s tent to escape the rain was drawn in your spitting image. But it was most obvious when you died ignominiously one day, only to wake up a few months (or was it years?) later in a slightly younger body with your same features. Your soul has cycled through many bodies, though why that is is yet a mystery to you. Once per escapade, recall a vital piece of information from a past life. (France)


3 Serpent wrangling. When they said you should participate in the snake-wrestling festival, you thought it would be fine. When you saw the size of the whalebone spear they gave you, it seemed like overkill for a little old snake. When you saw the crowd boo as you entered the muddy arena and saw the ratio of the bet stacked against you, you got a little uneasy. Then they raised the gate on the other side of the arena. You saw eyes as red as blood and fangs the size of your head. You’re not sure when thereafter you defecated yourself. You are immune to poison and can see heat. (Vietnam)


4 Star catching. Having the great fortune of being invited to tea on the night of an important astrological conjunction, you were invited to play a queer sort of sport, but you would have never expected that its name translated literally. Stalking through the dark, carrying a net of fine silver, casting your eyes to heaven to see if you can see those streaks of light your fellow hunters called the “tears of the heavens”. You held one in your hand for a moment, felt the warmth of distant nebulas flow up your arms like molten metal, before it vanished in an instant. Not pure enough in the head, they said. You can see perfectly in the dark. (Venezuela)


5 Monkey love. It’s an embarrassing story, really. In one thorp you visited, there was a bonobo- or perhaps a mandrill, or was it an Orang-Utann?- in a cage outside of the wise woman’s hut. It had such pathetic little eyes and precious little toes you had to liberate it. Unfortunately, it had been in captivity for well too long, and was, to put it courteously, all too enthusiastic for its salvation. You can talk to mammals, and they naturally trust you. (Thailand)


6 Fey voyage. You’re not sure how it happened; you inhaled too much smoke from the peace pipe, or you crossed a mushroom circle at the wrong time at night, or you angered an impish spirit in the guise of a child. But you took a trip into the world beyond this one, where rose-colored grass grows as tall as a house and glass-winged brownies chase horse-sized squirrels through ever-gloaming forests. You had to answer a bridge-troll’s three riddles to return, but you remember leaving something important behind, though you can’t quite put your finger on what/ You know how to open fairy circles, and the fey hold you in high regard. (South Africa)


7 Paint wrestling. It took you months to clear your hair of the powdered pigment that flew through the air that day, but even longer for the bruises to heal. You made the foolish choice of spilling a cup of red dye on one of the Blue Lotus boxers, and had to pay the price in a combat pit of paint. Your prismatic pugilism held up, and you walked out the victor, but to this day vibrant colors still bring back bad memories. With a half-hour of work, you can create [templates] perfect camouflage suits for any environment you’ve explored. (Panama)


8 Trial of strength. To be fair, when you agreed to attempt to lift the Stone, it looked a lot heavier than it ended up being. The weird looks you got while being rubbed in ceremonial oils and dressed in bodybuilder’s garb should’ve clued you in, but when you got to the apex of the ziggurat, the natives were too eager to see you attempt to life the dragon statue carved out of the house-sized boulder. You were always a strapping fellow, and you weren’t about to make a fool of yourself now. You can lift any weight, if you stay stationary and can manage the bulk. (Laos)


9 Year’s fast. You were taken on as a pupil by an ascetic from some distant mist-shrouded mountain. As you memorized scriptures and practiced physical discipline, you rose through the ranks, but your final trial was by far the most difficult. With nothing but incense and a hand-transcribed book of prayer, you had to meditate in a sealed sepulcher for a year and a day without food or water. When they drew you out, you were little more than a skeleton, and your graying hair reached the floor, but you were alive, and had caught a glimpse of the silhouette of the divine. You do not need to eat, drink, or breathe. (India)


10 Liberation struggle. You aided the native population in a struggle for self-determination, eventually throwing over your overbearing, imperialist oppressors and instilling the rightful indigenous rule in place of their bloody tyranny. For once, a story of glorious do-goodery. Who were you all rebelling against, you ask? Uh… some barbarous empire or other, can’t remember exactly, it was all a blur. What? Our fine and civilized land? No, couldn’t possibly be! Hey, do you want another beer? If you’re making a surprise attack against a non-combative enemy, it always kills its target. (United States)


Trinkets from your travels:

1 Feathered armor. You can glide while falling, though you’ll take full damage upon landing. (Mexico)

2 Ceremonial bow. Unerringly splits fruit, extinguishes small fires, or finds the bullseye of a target should you wish to show off a trick shot. (Cambodia)

3 Golden idol. Utterly captivates anyone who inspects it and could fetch a pretty penny from an irreputable antiquer.

4 Incendiary globus cruciger. While it looks real, the tip of the cross is a wick; it’s secretly a mortar bomb. (Spain)

5 Obfuscation cigar. The smoke of this cigar is clear and smells of strawberries, and while you smoke it, you are effectively invisible. A half hour left of puffs on it. (Cuba)

6 Peacock cloak. When you fan out its feathers, you can walk on liquids. (Sri Lanka)

7 Everburning pipe. It won’t stop smoldering, even after you dropped it off your raft and found it in the belly of a crocodile three days later.

8 Crown of the sun. Sheds sunlight in a cone like a bullseye lantern when rubbed with oil. (Romania)

9 Mendicant’s bowl. She probably didn’t need it anyways, what with her strict asceticism. Possession of property leads to sin, you know. Always contains one shilling. (Myanmar)

10 Pith helmet. Can be sundered as a shield, or have a lantern affixed to it for hands-free illumination. Perfect for spelunking and jungle-slogging.

11 Star spangled machete. Cuts through chains and cage bars as effectively as through sugar cane. (Puerto Rico)

12 Wooden knife. Made for a child, God rest their soul. If planted, grows into a monkey puzzle tree in an hour. (Malaysia)

13 Monkey’s flesh. This worn fur cloak, taken off the back of a beggar, turns you into a monkey of your choice (under DM control) when you wear it. Totally not cursed. (Indonesia)

14 Parasol. While it is quite pretty, it won’t hold up to a hard rain. (Hong Kong)

15 Ivory dagger. An animal icon is carved into the handle, it deals double damage against that beast.

16 Blade fan. While it deals damage like a dagger, it doesn’t look like a weapon. (Japan)

17 Beaded shield. It makes a pleasant rattling when stuck, reminiscent of maracas. Spears cannot be removed from it without an hour of work. (Philippines)

18 Parade dragon costume. If a festival’s going on, you can blend in seamlessly. If one’s not, you can drum up a lot of attention in provincial locales fast. (Bolivia)

19 Upside-down map. There’s a few errors here and there, but the most notable feature is an X annotated in the northwest corner.

20 Something more exotic…

1 Phoenix. When they gave you that glowing egg, you had no idea what you were signing up for. If it dies, an egg appears in its ashes that hatches in a lunar month. (Nigeria)

2 Starfarer’s helm. Found in the epicenter of a holy crater and worshiped as a heathen idol by the primitives, it protects the wearer from the vacuum. (Macau)

3 New World blunderbuss. Because sometimes these primitive brutes need to be taught a lesson. (Dominican Republic)

4 Mantle of the beast lord. If you’re under the effects of a drug, you can use the cloak to pull an animal phantasm from the spirit world; you appear to be that animal as long as you’re intoxicated, though sensory inspection reveals the truth. (Ecuador)

5 MANIFEST DESTINY SEIZED. This gladius has a silver eagle icon as its crossguard, and warms slightly in the presence of those of a different ethnicity of the wielder. If let to rest, it always points to the nearest church or courthouse, and deals double damage against entities that aren’t part of a religious group.

6 OVERTHROWN SHACKLES ACHE. First recovered from the corpse of a burgomeister stoned by a druidic order, this rapier showers sparks when it strikes a target, alighting anything flammable it hits and gives its wielders mental pictures of an ancient bloodbath on a full moon.


Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


[A disclaimer: the concept of this class is unspeakably unethical, and this class is intended to serve as a satirical mockery of the ideologies that glorify such pillaging and insensitivity.]

Saturday, March 26, 2022

THE FALL OF MERMERUS (Jackalopery)

The Old Tales:

When you see the writing figures, chanting and cavorting below the waves, with teeth all too sharp and eyes all too human, let it steel your heart to know these were once goodly folk like you and I. They lived in the empire of Mermerus, now below the waves, and like specters their half-fish forms writhe in the depths, colonizers of and strangers within the homes they once lived and loved in. What warped their flesh and sunk their cities is yet a mystery, but there are…


Three Explanations for Mermerus:

Professor Emeritus Dogo of Runehold holds firm that Mermerus was a terrestrial empire that bridged the Tarnished Coast and the distant shores beyond. However, an emperor by the name of Ariachles turned the merchant class against the priest class through propaganda depicting the Archpraetor as a dragon-like figure, hoarding wealth and behaving with reptilian cruelty. The subsequent spiritual revolt turned the nation to the idolatric worship of an unknown oceanic demon. A mass suicide ritual caused the tides to drown the empire so they may join with their fiendish overlord, explaining the empire’s sudden collapse below the waves. His colleague, Reverend-Doctor Dillamor, argues that the keystone of the tomb of Ariachles’s entryway was marked with a serpent bearing the head of a man, the symbol that Dogo believes to represent the Archpraetor- why would he be buried under the symbol of his hated rival?


Mysteriarch Patriventi concurs with Dogo’s theory that idolatry was the reason for Mermerus’s aqueous collapse, but instead claims that before it sunk, Mermerus was a theocracy that practiced an unrefined and barbaric form of Unitism. That would reframe Ariachles as an iconoclastic Archpraetor who upended the orthodoxy in favor of demon-worship, though Patraventi had to go to lengths to explain how it was not Ariachles’s autarchy that led to the sumberging but his corruption in order to avoid being blacklisted by the Mistress or worse. Patraventi’s rival, Mysteriarch Relsath, published their objections in a book known as “the Secrets of Mermerus: Ten Theses”, but every known copy was burned shortly after their disappearance.


The Threefold Eye, sybil from the Gauntforgfes known for their retrocognition, saw a vivisected piscine mutant when they touched a rusted chestplate, a bubble bursting when they touched a detached machicolation, and a beached whale being hit by lightning when they touched a spear found in Ariachles’ crypt. Tillimar the Frail, a Glanodeli doctoral student, writes in her thesis that these imply not an idolatry-induced natural disaster, but hints that instead Mermerus was first erected subnautically by land-folk, and that a civil war resulted in the collapse of the sphere. Evidence for magic strong enough to create a habitable environment on the ocean floor is yet undiscovered, she claims, but is surely out there.


Of course, not everyone can be correct. The ruins hold many secrets, if one may circumvent the terrors of the depths and its potentially even more spine-chilling inhabitants…


Contemporaries of Mermurus:

Despite the warped citizens of Mermerus (or “Mer-maids”, the nomenclature resulting from the more frequent sightings of females) having a proclivity for foul and sacrificial magics, they are not malicious to land-dwellers, instead seeking solace amongst small tribes of their own in the secluded ruins of their lost empire. When their territories are disturbed or a demagogue whips them into a bloodthirst, however, they are quick to take up arms both mundane and arcane. Their most powerful casters are Sacrificiants, followed by Elementalists, followed by Invokers, and finally the non-magical Myrmidons.


MERMAID SACRIFICIANT N 3 H 10 A Mermaid, 3 SPELLS (Thassilic, any type), Sanguine Cycling (WOUNDS taken in the last ROUND can be used as STRESS for casting), Aquatic Arcana (SPELLS that effect a body of water take place NEAR you when submerged, and you are immune to these effects) I To rekindle the old ways


MERMAID ELEMENTALIST N 3 H 7 A Mermaid, 2 SPELLS (Thassilic, 1 Ash 2 Moon 3 Raven 4 Glass), Elemental Immunity (Ash = heat, Moon = cold, Raven = piercing, Glass = slashing), Aquatic Arcana I To unite with the universe


MERMAID INVOKER N 2 H 5 A Mermaid, 1 SPELL (50% Thassilic), Aquatic Arcana I To learn secrets


MERMAID MYRMIDON N 1 H 4 A Mermaid, Defensive Instincts (Take 1 less WOUND when protecting something) I To protect the tribe


To generate a tribe of standard size, assign it a leader and roll 2d6 to see how many non-combatants are affiliated. A bellicose leader will have a tribe of 2d6 Myrmidons, 1d4 Invokers, and an Elementalist as their acharya. A spiritual leader will have a Sacrificiant advisor, with d4 Elementalists and Invokers serving as clergy, the non-combatants guarded by d6 Myrmidons. A meek or pacificstic leader usually leads a council of d4 Invokers and Myrmidons, with an extra d6 non-combatants. Tribes who delve too deep may have mutants or demons among their ranks.


THASSILIC ARCANA:

1 IGNEOUS RIFT (A). For a ROUND, you can run your hand along the ground to create a foot-deep fissure that oozes pyroclasm. (A scourge with obsidian studs)

2 BOIL UNTIL RUFESCENT (A). Touch water to boil it, metal to heat it red-hot, or a creature to scald it for 2 WOUNDS. (A bellyful of well-done lobster)

3 BARNACLEIZE (A). Touch something; barnacles will instantaneously grow across it, eroding it. If allowed to sit for a week, the barnacles will hatch into water fairies. (Chunk of living coral)

4 RED TIDE (M). Any water you touch for a TURN becomes acidic. (Inverted seagull)

5 BLACK TIDE (M). You can control the agitation of water FAR from you for a TURN. (Tentacle)

6 GOLDEN TIDE (M). Any body of water you look in will contain some sunken treasure for a TURN. (Treasure chest loaded with booty)

7 KELP’S EMBRACE (R). Wet ropes bind a FAR target for d4 ROUNDS. It requires a STR roll or a sharp blade to break free; anything bound for the full duration becomes edible. (Soda ash)

8 DEEP LITHE (R). You can swim at twice your walking speed and spray octopus ink for a TURN. (Fish head with a diamond for a brain)

9 COMMUNION AURA (R). You can speak to all beasts for a TURN, and with a CHA roll can make one your familiar or mount. (A speck of animal food)

10 FROST BRIDGE (G). Your body becomes deathly cold, instantly freezing any liquid you come in contact with. If cast underwater, it instead creates a rime plate, which you can walk through to any other unmelted or otherwise intact rime plate you’ve cast. (Child-size silver ring)

11 LACERATION WHIRLWIND (G). Spinning blades of jagged ice explode in a cone in front of you, dealing 2 WOUNDS and immobilizing anyone NEAR you for d4 ROUNDS. (Oroborus eel)

12 SHARP EYES (G). For a TURN, your vision cannot be impaired by darkness, magic, obfuscation, or any other interference, and you can see auras. (A glass eye)


[For those not familiar with MARROW, there are four types of magic.]


One down, umpteen to go. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

WEARY WORK: CICERONE'S GUIDE

If you ever want to play A Weary Work To Do and enjoy learning about the secrets of the setting and mechanics, close this page now. In this doc, I show my whole hand (or as most I can within the constraints of the one-page format) and demystify every secret for anyone with aspirations of running a Weary Work campaign. Also included is a sample dungeon with which to start your adventure, though I'd recommend writing a short hexcrawl to get your party from their starting location to the crypt itself.

Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


(Just kidding. Here's the real document.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

MARROW 0.9

Bet you're surprised this hack is coming back. Believe me, I am too. But I've had this revision in the works for a number of months, half-finished, and recently I've felt the urge to just get something done, so here is the dividend of that.

WHAT'S NEW?

  • 5 brand new Region Primers! Replacing the stuffy old gazetteer with a panoply of new character matrices and an overhauled looked at the Autumn Kingdoms.
  • A guide to the structure and setup of MARROW campaigns- best practice tips from yours truly to get the most out of MARROW.
  • Some minor revisions across the rest of MARROW (patch notes, rephrasings, and minor rule adjustments will likely continue to happen over the next couple of weeks).

WHAT'S YET TO CHANGE?

  • Going through each character matrix and Ability table to make sure all of the abilities are interesting, fun, effectively phrased, and fit with the most current rules still. This is the biggest task left ahead of me.
  • Sample LOOT table(s). Should be pretty easy to steal from resources I already own.
  • High Arcana and suggestions as to what the Autumn Kingdom's cosmology looks like.
  • Tighten up the specifics of the currently-nebulous drug rules and write up some common drugs. Same for maladies/diseases.
  • I want to do a playtest of a full MARROW campaign. I've done a number of low-level games, and I've ran a high-level game that was converted from 5e, but I've never bridged that gap at the table, and I want to put the rules and the campaign advice to the practical test.
  • In that playtest, I want to put the dungeon procedures to the test. I've learned some interesting new solutions to managing time in dungeons since I wrote this, and I want to see how I can contribute those to MARROW.

WHAT'S THE FUTURE OF MARROW?

I'm getting very close to a definitive edition. At that point, I may invest in getting some art (or getting back to illustrating it myself as I once planned to do) and layout and publishing it as PoD somewhere as a "Scrimshaw Edition", if I have the will to. For now, though, I simply intend to enjoy re-discovering this system with new eyes and making it even sharper and better (though it's already looking a lot more fixable than it felt a few months ago).

Here's a link to MARROW 0.9. Thanks for reading, and happy gaming.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

A WEARY WORK TO DO

 This hack, and this post, may contain typos, but this is not among them: I set out to do five things with this hack.


1 I wanted the hack to revolve around a sort of numerical trick a la 4DJ. I all but tell you what that is; I hope it's intelligible.

2 I wanted to also introduce a lot of asymmetry in what the players know about the rules versus what the DM knows. For example, the “STATS” section has no typos.

3 I wanted to build in elements that would encourage players to do things that I as a DM found interesting, like starting rivalries, getting married, hosting parties, and rap battles.

4 I wanted to make a game that was “about” something, that orbited around key themes. Some of those themes include the life cycle of empires and the importance of stories and poetry in a young world.


I have the setting’s Four Truths, some equipment packages for starting characters, and a dungeon in the works, but I wanted to Get Something Done so I could remind myself that I could. Let me know what you think of the hack, thanks for reading and happy gaming.



These words are my hack bibliography

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

The Dividends of Research (Pb)

  I have good news! I’ve hired an Iodinian scholar by the name of Lara Beudenchamp (the Illuminated, third of her name, Principium Anathetor, et cetera) to answer some of the questions the shadows whisper to me right before I fall asleep. Unfortunately, she charges by the hour, and I have very little gold lying around my house, so this is all she could come up with. I hope it helps you, at least a bit.


What is the Red Word?

“Why do I burn?

When I feel those eyes on by back,

Tongues aflutter with my misdeeds

Their eyes upon me, needles, needles

What corner left in my soul holds that spark

That impulse

Of joining with a whole I know

I was born in the shadow of?”

-The diary of an infamous heretic known as Stitchley Hatters.


Who are the Red Hierophants, blessed be?

“TO PASS BILL INTO LAW EVER-BINDING:

Each party on the Council, starting with the Red Hierophants, blessed be, scribes a single word in iodine onto the beatified tablet before delivering it to the next party. Once a majority of the Council votes to end the scribing process, the tablet is heated and the law revealed. Only a unanimous concursion can abolish such a law, so laws are written almost as scarcely as they are vetoed (for an example of the last such occurrence in history, see the Second Defenestration of Turgendaal in Subsection III). Of course, codes are another matter entirely; for reference, please see Handbook 22A: “On Imperial and Sub-Imperial Codes”.”

-An excerpt from ‘the most tedious book in the Athenaeum’, as decided by a surveying group of students at Mordent University


No, but like, who are they?

“Yeah, I was wondering the same thing! Why won’t this guy answer any of our questions with a straight answer?”

-I don’t know how Deus Ex Parabola’s strawman ended up here, but I’ve heard that salt circles can keep it away? Please let me know if you have any tips; I hate it so fucking much; this explains why Deus has gone mad;; 


What other constellations did Saint Copper imprison?

“This is an all-too-common misconception; Saint Copper imprisoned none at all. After battling a Thing From Beyond and losing an eye in the melee, Saint Copper beseeched the Great Bear to guard the firmament against the incursion of further violators. Each of the other stars are the Great Bear’s fetal progeny, and one day, they will all grow as strong as their mother, and return from their thrones clad triumphant with the blood of the last of the Things From Beyond, and we will drink and rejoice and shed our skins to join them in starstuff. Easy mistake to make, especially in this day and age.”

-Kagro-Kang, Ursulist prophet (presumed deceased)


What’s in the Æther?

“Y’ever seen one of them turtles? Sorry, no, not turtles, but they look like turtles, at least when you’s far away. But when ya get up close to have a good look at the buggers, it’s like their skin is… moving. Alive wit’ little gnats ‘n ants ‘n whatnot- hunnerds, thousands, too many to count. An’ they just live like that. Carryin’ these little folk wit’ em wherever they go, sharin’ their food n’ everything. And then the strangest thing happened- one day, I dropped a brush n’ all the little buggers scattered, an’ it was a skull in there. Imagine that! There was nothin’ under there at all, was the little bugs moving the skull along.”

-Garou Whistledown, itinerant Golgothan painter.


What the fuck is an elf?

“Stop asking me! Do you think I fucking know!?”

-Dr. Seremin Averu, Chair of Archaeology and Excavations at Mordent University.


Who was the Warrior-Poet?

“In your words, speak truth, but whisper.

In your deeds, be generous, but unflinching.

In your thoughts, be steadfast, but incorruptible.

In your flesh, be staunch, but meager.

And in your soul, be steel and lead.

Let me tell you a tale, my children, of the Mother in the Star...”

-The first words of the Codex Periodicum.


Where did the dragons go?

“DAY 49: Subject has begun to shudder violently to an unidentifiable rhythm- perhaps akin to a heartbeat, though no investigation has revealed the presence of a cardiovascular system. Also has begun secreting a fluid smelling faintly of gasoline, currently being chemically analyzed by the Rats. Omens of natural disasters written in Heretic and inverted archaic Chemoglyphic have begun appearing on the walls of the containment unit. We request more lead so that the holding chamber may be reinforced.


DAY 53: Subject’s shuddering and secretions have ceased, and the transmogrification appears to be reversing itself, though the carvings and placoid scales remain a part of the Subject’s flesh. Subject appears to have an insatiable appetite for its own offal. It has begun speaking Chitter again, and begs for us to let it out of the chamber. We have received strict orders from the Black Hierophant to not accede to its pleas, though I can’t help but feel pity for must obey my orders in service of the Empire.


DAY 54: Code Double Red. In response to the hypnotic stimulus, an Acolyte released the Beast Subject from its cell. Motecrackers have been deployed to our location but it won’t be enough it never is abandon all hope may She have mercy on our damned souls why did he release it WHY DID HE RELEASE IT

-Partially burned records recovered from the wreckage of Outpost Omega.


Are you satisfied yet?

“NO. SHOW THEM WHAT WE GAVE YOU.”

-The shadows


Fine. Here. Are you happy?




Well, are you?


Are you?

Friday, November 5, 2021

Two cultures for Pb

There is more to come, but have this for now. In advance, thanks for reading, and happy gaming.


THE CHURLIAN TRIBES

NAMES: Always ending in a vowel. The higher-status someone is, the more syllables they have; being addressed by one syllable is practically a dehumanization.

Low-class names

1 Tavo

2 Kesi

3 Dali

4 Vana

5 Yesu

6 Tadi

High-class names

1 Taragonsedia

2 Hasanatona

3 Togadimara

4 Grasendyvari

5 Vedrasinotamo

6 Stasinakitha


DRESS: Somewhere between a Diesel-age pilot and Native American regalia.

1 Well-worn denim overalls embroidered with clay beads

2 Fur-lined bomber jacket with fringed sleeves

3 Fanny pack made from a hollowed-out crow

4 Jeans with wildlife patterns embroidered on the knees

5 Bomber cap with feathers sticking out of the sides

6 A suitcoat woven from serape fabric


TRINKETS:

1 A mineworker’s Imperial punch card; despite looking like swiss cheese, it doesn’t meet the criteria for “sufficient labor”

2 A clay amulet with the icon of an eagle, its eyes sparkling amethyst

3 A doll woven from dead grass; three blue beads are tucked away in its chest

4 A tarnished ankh bracelet scratched silly and bent in half

5 A small red pouch of warm-smelling spices

6 A jar of beatified liquor, clear and bitter and burning, labelled with angular animal designs

7 A hand puppet of a comically villainous Imperial enforcer

8 A ring of rusted iron in the shape of a propeller


APPEARANCE: Skin like rich tanned leather, hair like the earth after a rain or silver as startuff, eyes like brilliant tigereye. Some (5%) are born with blue eyes, clear as crystal, marking them as clairvoyant Seers.

ACCENT: Like a British person trying to impersonate an American.

CUSTOM: When there’s a feather lying alone on the ground, you must burn it as soon as possible, or that feather will tether the bird’s spirit to the material world after death, and no one wants a Phantasma infestation.

RELIGION: Spirits emerge from an undifferentiated mass of being, each expression of life in the material world simply one facet of that great beyond spirit. The older a creature is, the closer to the One Spirit it becomes- immortal, mythopoetic creatures like Yellow Bison and the Moonshine Crow are said to be near-pure avatars of the One Spirit made flesh.

CURRENCIES: Bead strings- yellow beads are used to buy necessities like soap and candles, blue are used to buy frills like massages and murals, red are used to buy dangerous equipment like weapons and chemic, and purple are used to buy luxuries like jewelry and buildings. The type of work someone does determines in what bead they are paid; a common laborer gets 3 yellow beads and 1 blue bead a day, while a notorious mercenary would get 3 red beads and 1 purple bead per mark. (3 beads of one color and 1 of another is a good estimate for small potatoes payment.)


REGION: The Churlian Fields are primarily rolling hills (40%), dry grasses (50%) and wetlands (10%), dotted with hulking, rusted antediluvian relics (30% on a given mote) of technologies decommissioned well before the Age of Aerodynes.

ARCHITECTURE: Simple geometric shapes and elemental designs melding closely with the landscape and terrain features; Churlian architecture is characterized by its simplicity and an almost symbiotic relationship to the surrounding landscape and symmetrical circular designs. In colonized regions, the aesthetic difference between Iodinian and Churlian design is very stark, some sociologists calling the incongruity symbolic.

FOOD: Standard Fare: A honeyed cut of yeabu* along boiled tubers. Fine Dining: Eagle’s blood pudding and berries served in the hollow of a melon. Travel Fare: Yeabu jerky and tack.

*Yeabu: a spotted, tripedal beast of burden native to the Field most notable for its protruding forehead. Female yeabu ritualistically headbutt each other when squads come in conflict. Behind the cranial protrusion is a wall of fat to protect the brain, frequently utilized by Churlians for long-burning candles, food preparation, and preservation.

MUSIC: Meandering and out-of-time vocals accompanied by plucked/bowed chordophones like Kagus and Vilas, traditionally with little to no percussion and/or one or multiple sustained pitches that move to create harmony. One of the best-known songs is the Ballad of the Skymonger, a culture antihero who stole the gift of flight from a falcon.


THE SACCHARINE DYNASTY

NAMES: Flowing, overwrought, sounding as if a group with a hyperbolic spirit played Telephone with archaic European names. House names are typically two vaguely Asiatic syllables, serving as surnames (Tsollinarit Vo-Tran) just as often as titles (Mirilando de Prisstil of House Ye-Khar).

Low-class names

1 Salthen

2 Iolde

3 Vernus

4 Yordic

5 Ralfodo

6 Kendris

High-class names

1 Xainaphen

2 Terrophilius

3 Mimsley-Hattington

4 Carnigelia

5 Fyordinham

6 Rufadelpho


DRESS: All of the following are gender and class agnostic.

1 Ball gown covered in orbs (1), flowers (2), bows (3), knives (4), bells (5), or hats (6)

2 A fine ruffled suit coupled with a coin veil

3 A leotard covered in glittering quartz

4 An animalistic masquerade mask with genuine matching furs

5 Half of an ocean-blue silken gown sewn to half of a crushed red velvet  suit

6 Nothing but a thick coat of paint 


TRINKETS:

1 A music clef-shaped locket containing a sliver of antimony

2 A darkwood Kithremba (like a cross between a sitar and a banjo) named Ethel missing two strings, one of which is being used as a garrote somewhere

3 A gold-on-black scroll containing saucy messages in impeccable calligraphy; both the sender and addressee are married nobles of rival Houses

4 A badge of watch from House Do-Rahck in the shape of an 11-pointed star

5 A cotton candy-pink iron stiletto carved with the name of a fallen House

6 A bill for ‘a buggy covertly laden with sufficient explosives to destroy a small house’

7 Three turquoise octahedral dice stained brown with blood with pips in the shape of butterflies

8 A bowl carved from a Crystal Crab carapace and mended a la kintsugi


APPEARANCE: Crazy bod mod, a sign of both discipline and wealth, is the norm (80%). Underneath are pale, diamond-eyed folk who tend to the tall and lanky side despite their diet.

1 Entire body bleached/tattooed cotton candy pink

2 Entire body bleached/tattooed baby blue

3 Entire body bleached/tattooed lavender

4 Entire body bleached/tattooed stark white

5 Entire body bleached/tattooed some other color, or with swirling designs

6 Eyes are an unusual color (1-4), have a strange pupil shape (5), or are monochrome (6)

7 Crystal implanted into forehead as “third eye”

8 Poems carved into foot-long fingernails

9 Pointed, elfin ears laden with gauges and piercings

10 Forked tongue, frequently tattooed with alchemical symbols

11-12 Roll d4 times and combine

ACCENT: On a class spectrum from Italian (lowest of low) to French (highest of high). There is much social stigma around speech impediment, lisps and stutters most common in this region; if you want to make a killing, covertly advertise yourself as a linguistic therapist around a lesser-known noble house.

CUSTOM: You must eat all food you are presented with in its entirety (crumbs are frowned upon), and take care to avoid any sort of mess. To do otherwise is a great disgrace, you slovenly slob.

RELIGION: The head of each House is divine, their power corresponding  to their position on the socioeconomic hierarchy. The Emperor (praise be) is the autarch-god-lord of the Dynasty. The Saccharinians live in a world where a god can be stabbed in the back and replaced; it’s no surprise that Viadolphus Machiavelli’s “the God-Prince” was such a hit.

CURRENCIES: An uncountable myriad of bills, each representing a very specific, concrete asset that one can claim and use. The “grain-store” is the most common (enough grain to make a week’s worth of bread), while the “arsenic-vial” is among the most coveted. Making new bills along with new pieces of technology is common; the “printing-press” caused quite a stir when it hit the market.


REGION: Dominated by chromatic spires of pure sugar crystal (80%), the remainder covered in crushed rubble and crystal dust (20%), the deforested litter of centuries of excavations. Pools of sugar-water in and around which Crystal Crabs congregate are common (30% on a given mote).

ARCHITECTURE: A mash-up of the mythic European castle aesthetic and Islamic/faux Arabian architecture. All hyperbolically grand and splendorous; often optical illusions are employed to make them look larger and more boastful than they really are, frequently resulting in Neuschwanstein levels of nonsensical geometry. Tempered sugar-mortar and ‘concrose’ (sucrose concrete) are construction staples.

FOOD: Standard Fare: Candied poultry with a side of sparkling sugar water and a bowl of cold pinto beans. Fine Dining: A main course of breads and rich Crystal Crab* and tuber stews followed by up to fifty courses of desserts. Travel Fare: Rock candy and dried turkey legs.

*Crystal Crabs: crustacean creatures who have evolved shells of sweet salt to dissuade predators. Nest in hallowed-out warrens within crystal spires next to bodies of still liquid. Develop hive minds under duress, but always a sucker for shiny baubles.

MUSIC: The Saccharinians invented the symphony orchestra and are emerging into a Baroque period, filled with candlelit opera, prickly counterpoint, and ever larger and louder ensembles commissioned by the bored patriarchs and matriarchs of the upper crust Houses.

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