Sunday, 26 July 2020

Lings and related things

A ling is a type of elemental being or golem, formed from a non-organic substance with a tiny organic heart. They can control their own shape within a fixed diameter sphere (only waterlings are ever likely to be precisely spherical). The tiniest, size 1 lings, are adorable things an inch or two across, something like a blob of sentient water from a studio Ghibli movie, or those cute long-legged smuts in Spirited Away. These smallest of lings are always friendly, and will often attach themselves to a player character, burbling away at them for hours on end.

Larger lings are something else entirely. Often hostile, they range in size from a few inches to hundreds of feet across, the largest being the size 6 godling, with a size and presence similar to that of the Forest Spirit in Princess Mononoke.

Friday, 24 July 2020

Fish-maggot Paté

An artifact found in every fish folk settlement, fish maggot paté is almost always stored in a tiny jar of dark blue glass with a lid of marbled precious metals streaked with jade. Inside is a paste which looks a loose liver paté: slightly runny, pink, and homogenous save for occasional veins of deeper red. It smells sweet, sickly even, and tastes surprisingly pleasant, although it leaves a slimy, gritty residue on the tongue and roof of the mouth.

Wednesday, 22 July 2020

Sak Shibboleth

(Some random dumped a big load of "don't you know who I am" on me in a blog comments thread. I didn't know who that person was. I googled them, and now I do, and so I wrote this game)

You are Sak Shibboleth, some-time writer of games and game-related content. Your transatlantic flight, where you have 3 seats booked up-front for you and your ego-sac, is hijacked. Angry feminists have kidnapped you to take you to the Total Perspective Vortex.

The Adventures of Bleaklow Part 1

Pleased to Meat You

Content warning: everything.

So you’re dithering in the the street one day, trying to work out which turn to take to reach Gampforth’s Exotic Potionérie when you fail to notice a dwarf, and you walk right into him. "EX-FUCKING-SCUSE ME" he spits into your face from a distance of two inches, before grabbing you by the collar. Before you know what’s happened, he’s done some kind of headbutt-somersault pivoting around your collar, landed on your shoulders with his feet squeezeing your neck, Pulling your hair and your head straight up. He reaches down and holds a long, thin flint dagger to your neck.

“The fuck you think you’re doing? Is this your fucking street? Is it? Is It? I would slit you from gullet to sphincter, if I didn’t have places to go." His right knee connects with the back of your head, and he leaps off you as your body crumples and your face hits the dust.

Tuesday, 21 July 2020

Adventurer's Snap


Iron Rations

Ever wonder what's in those packs of iron rations that adventures have to encumer themselves with for any journey longer than a few hours? Wonder no more, here are the ingredients - at least, the Peak District version.

There's not actually much "iron" in them. In fact, in the southern Peak District you will find more lead than iron. In some adventuring communities this severely affects the intelligence of adventurers. Academics and gurus are these areas.

Most of these minerals come from raisins - nothing like the type we know, but tiny, hard pellets which melt in your mouth, leaving far too much grit and seed. They taste of bitter earth and charcoal.

Next come cubes of salted pork fat, brined in a special mix unique to each family or artisan. This always contains salt and some kind of vinegar, and often fruit and mountain herbs too. In Hope the people typically add linden flowers and borage to the mix, whereas in Hathersage they add rose-bay willow herb and marigold. In Castleton, cowberry and blueberry flowers are the norm.

The mix is finished off with hazelnuts with papery skin: crisp and succulent in the autum, dry and chalky by the time the next summer comes around.

Breakfast Buffet

But iron rations are not the only sustenance for adventurers on the move. Most inns have a breakfast buffet, and items from this can be stuffed into pockets and bags. While some proprietors are generous and delighted that their guests are so appreciative of their cooking, others consider "dawn-snaffling" a liberty and will even spy on breakfasters to ensure that nothing is taken.

A very popular breakfast buffet takeaway is the bacon sandwich. Adventurers can usually secrete around 6 rounds of "pocket bacon" within their clothing. Thank you to Silva Sweetberry, the halfling thief, who taught me this trick, and who gleefully offered a sarnie to every NPC we met during our 7-day in residence at The Blushing Tankard in Hupperdook, a residency which our party won as a prize in a drinking contest.


When all else fails, there is always lard.

Sunday, 19 July 2020

What's so great about OSR?

What is so great about OSR? Genuine question. I gather people can get quite heated about this topic but... help a newbie out here.

Since I started playing RPGs again about 3 months ago, I've gravitated towards some of the more indie stuff out there (I have to say that it's great to see the zine scene is every bit as strong as it was 30 years ago). One thing I noticed really quickly was that all of the writers and publishers I like keep going on about "OSR" in general, and "LotFP" in particular. I'd just started playing D&D 5th Edition but... these guys are great, the stuff they publish is great, so OSR must be muchly much better than 5e, right?

So I downloaded the free version of the LotFP rules and read them through. And I don't get it.

Rediscovering RPGs

An assortment of old-school RPG books and zines

I played Dungeons & Dragons as a kid. A lot. I still remember the excitement of opening that D&D Basic set in 1980, when I was 11. And the cake decorated with lead figures* for my 12th birthday. And when I wasn't playing RPGs, I was usually reading, writing, drawing or dreaming about them.

In the mid-80s, a big fan of Citadel miniatures, I started playing the shiny new Warhammer (first and second editions), switching to the wonderful WFRP first edition as soon as it came out. I felt straight away that WFRP was my game. I'd discovered it myself, but there was more to it than that: characters had far grittier and more realistic backgrounds, the game was set in a fascinating and coherent world based on our own, and best of all it was packed with wry humour and an unmistakeable whiff of Britishness (at a time when it felt like British gamers were second-class citizens to the Americans who wrote most published RPG material).