Saturday, 31 December 2022


#Dungeon23 is about making a megadungeon throughout 2023, one location per day. I'm joining in.

Like photo-a-day, selfie-a-month, and landscape-painting-a-fortnight activities I've joined before, I expect this fad to last no more than a few days. But perhaps 2023 will be different?

You see, last night I had an idea. An idea for an Electric Bastionland megadungeon.

9 months ago, noted surgical-tools magnate The Very Mentionable Theophilus Q. Trocad Snr., lost his only daughter, Madamoiselle Cadero I. Trocad III, due to a tragic accident during her 47th plastic surgery operation. “The World will not forget my Cadero’s name”, Trocad told an assembly of press and radio journalists at the time, “you will all see, I shall build an incomparable public monument to her memory, This shall be my great gift to humanity, to the people of Bastion. This will show that Cadero did not die in vain.”

After 9 months under a very large dustsheet, the latest addition to Bastion's downtown shopping district has been revealed: THE CADERO, a bulbous monolith (a little like a bakelite version of the Sage Gateshead) housing a bloated shopping mall.

The Cadero is 416 feet high and about half-a-mile long, with 365 locations across 8 levels above ground (including 3 shopping galleries and a private members’ club) and 3 basement levels (with a not-at-all-hard-to-navigate car park, and easy-ish connections across Bastion, via the Underground). Everything you desire, all under one roof! (Please note, due to delays with contractors the Gorkinson’s Department Store in the East Wing is not yet open).

The Cadero: level 1 draft floor plan

What is that shopper looking for? (d66)

11: A map of the mall
12: A lost child
13: The information desk
14: An escalator?
15: The ice rink
16: The car park

21: Somewhere to eat
22: Somewhere to drink
23: Somewhere to pray
24: A remote working space
25: The soft play area
26: Somewhere, anywhere, quiet

31: Workwear
32: Outdoorsy clothes
33: Underwear
34: Partywear
35: Surgicalwear
36: An item of clothing for a relative of unknown size

41: A haircut
42: A shoeshine
43: A makeover
44: A chiropractor
45: A dentist
46: A plastic surgeon

51: Someone who's in charge here
52: Security staff
53: A personal shopper
54: A mandrill mockery
55: A gullible passer-by
56: A jar of BBQ-spiced chicken stock

61: A pocket watch
62: A set of saucepans
63: A spare part for a combined gramaphone and radio set
64: A very particular book
65: Three planks of wood (assorted sizes), a hammer, and a pot of nails
66: Chewing gum

Friday, 30 December 2022

Mycelium Parish News

The Mycelium Parish News

Earlier this year, on a walk with James Burt, he proposed that the two of us produce a “parish newsletter”, to let our friends know what our other friends have been up to.

James and I first met on the Cerne to CERN pilgrimage. Between us and the other 69 pilgrims exist fecund networks of creative folks. But none of those folks has a full picture of what all the others have been up to.

James suggested we publish a newsletter, listing as much of the good stuff as we could track down. The result is The Mycelium Parish News. It features 2022's books, podcasts, radio, TV, exhibitions, theatre, videos, newsletters and more.  Here's James's introduction: 

WTF is a mycelium?

The mycelium refers to a network of countercultural groups and events, and it’s a term we first heard through theatre-maker Daisy Campbell. In nature, a mycelial network is the inter-connections that grow between fungi. Also known as the wood-wide web, these networks allow communication between different plants in a forest. It is a brilliant metaphor for culture: the fungal threads are often hidden underground, but when they cross, then a mushroom can appear.

Our particular mycelium includes a whole jumble of things, including arts labs, Festival 23 and the Cosmic Trigger crew, as well as various fellow travellers. Common touchstones include the KLF, Robert Anton Wilson, and Discordianism (which is either a joke disguised as a religion or a religion disguised as a joke). 

That explanation may not make you any the wiser. Regardless, this zine lists the work of many amazing people over the last year, and you will definitely find something of value inside that you didn’t know about before.


Somewhat wonderfully, we managed to keep the price of the magazine to £2.30, including UK postage (or £5 if you're outside the UK). So there's no excuse for not buying one now.

If you want a downloadable version, you'll have to wait; this zine was designed to be a thing, a thing to hold, to read, and to love, and to attract tea-stains.

Here are some spreads from the 44-page zine:

Introduction and editorial

Feature on The Lost Doctor

Some miscellaneous podcast appearances

Some books published this year

Some videos published this year

Advertising Shits In Your Head

Friday, 16 December 2022

d∞ Caltrops

Because I can't stop tinkering with AI, I asked it to "Write a random OSR RPG table in the style of the d4 Caltrops blog". Oh boy!

d20: Dungeon Hazards

  1. A pit filled with venomous snakes
  2. A room full of acidic fog
  3. A room with a magical trap that teleports the party to another plane
  4. A hidden door that leads to a room full of giant spiders
  5. A false floor that drops the party into a lake of lava
  6. A room with a magical force field that drains the life force of anyone who passes through it
  7. A room full of bone-chilling cold that damages anyone who stays in it for too long
  8. A room that is full of illusions that can only be dispelled with a magical word
  9. A room full of magical illusions that can fool the party into taking the wrong path
  10. A room with a magical portal that transports the party to a random location
  11. A room with an ancient magical construct that can animate to attack the party
  12. A room with a powerful magical artifact that can turn the party into statues
  13. A room with a powerful magical creature that can cast a powerful spell to trap the party
  14. An area with a powerful magical force that can warp time and space
  15. A room full of undead creatures that can drain life force from the living
  16. A room with a magical fountain that can grant wishes, but has a price
  17. A powerful magical item that can grant wishes, but has a powerful curse attached to it
  18. An area with powerful magical beasts that can turn the party into animals
  19. A room with a magical pool that can grant visions of the future
  20. A powerful magical artifact that can grant any wish, but at a cost

Hah! Generic dross, admittedly, and I think d4 Caltrops is safe for a good while yet, but it's pretty amazing that, from such a basic prompt, the AI completely "understands" what it's being asked to do.

Let's try just again:

d20 Things Found in a Strange Ancient Temple

  1. Strange symbols carved into the walls
  2. A massive statue depicting an unknown god
  3. An altar dedicated to a forgotten deity
  4. A hidden chamber beneath the floor
  5. A pool of bubbling acid
  6. Piles of yellowed bones
  7. An ancient tome filled with secrets
  8. A secret door leading to another area
  9. A giant stone golem
  10. A strange device of unknown origin
  11. An ornate chest filled with treasure
  12. A magical fountain that can grant wishes
  13. A cursed relic that brings misfortune
  14. A magical weapon of great power
  15. A powerful magical artifact
  16. A strange creature lurking in the shadows
  17. An altar of sacrifice
  18. An arcane circle of power
  19. A powerful magical trap
  20. A strange creature imprisoned in an enchanted cage

Once more for luck?

d20 Adventure Hooks

  1. You discover a hidden entrance to a magical tower with a portal to another dimension.
  2. A mysterious magical item is stolen and you must recover it before it can be used for evil.
  3. While exploring an ancient ruin, you stumble upon a powerful artifact that could unlock untold secrets.
  4. A powerful wizard challenges you to a duel of magical wits.
  5. You must navigate a labyrinth of traps and challenges to reach a lost treasure.
  6. You are tasked with rescuing a princess from a castle guarded by monsters.
  7. You are asked to explore a haunted manor, but you must uncover its secrets before you can leave.
  8. A powerful artifact is hidden at the bottom of a lake and you must retrieve it before it is lost forever.
  9. You are taken captive by a band of orcs and must escape before they can sacrifice you to their dark gods.
  10. You must negotiate with a race of lizardfolk to gain access to their sacred temple.
  11. You must battle a powerful dragon to prove your worthiness to a powerful wizard.
  12. You are summoned to a distant land to help a noble family reclaim their rightful throne.
  13. You must travel through the depths of a dangerous dungeon to retrieve a powerful magical item.
  14. You are tasked with infiltrating a rival clan's stronghold and stealing a powerful artifact.
  15. You discover an ancient temple with a powerful relic that will allow you to control time.
  16. You must battle a powerful necromancer to save a small village from his undead horde.
  17. You must journey to a distant land to find a powerful magical artifact before it falls into the wrong hands.
  18. You must battle a powerful demon to save a kingdom from destruction.
  19. You must infiltrate a powerful wizard's tower to steal a powerful magical item.
  20. You must brave a deadly dungeon to recover a powerful artifact that will grant you untold power.

Just to clarify, the only thing I wrote was  "Write a random OSR RPG table in the style of the d4 Caltrops blog". Everything in italics, including the table titles, was generated by the AI. And, my god, it doesn't half like using the word "powerful".

Gelatinous Cube podcast

I've just driven from one end of England to the other (ish), which means that I've just listened to a lot of podcasts, one of which was the excellent Gelatinous Cube.

Most RPG podcasts feature reviews of games, or actual play, or occasionally a bit of pontificating about games design and worldbuilding. And then there's Gelatinous Cube, in a class of its own.

Each GC podcast starts with a very short prompt for an adventure: "This Goblin Wears Lipstick", "This Mountain has a Witch on it", "The Spirits are Restless". One of the two presenters, siblings Adam and Rosie, acts as DM for that episode, and explains the encounter or short adventure they have written to go with the prompt. If they've already incorporated this encounter into their campaign then they also talk about how their players responded. The two then throw the idea about a bit, talk about ways it could be fleshed out, alternate takes, possible consequences and follow-ups... and then they throw it over the the show's silent third host, the eponymous Gelatinous Cube, for an alternate take. Working only from the short prompt, the Cube presents its own entirely different set of encounters/adventures.

It's a really simple and delightful format, and its bursting with ideas. If it were just Rosie and Adam discussing their adventure ideas, this would still be well worth a listen, but The Cube's creative contributions take it to another level, and really get the creative juices flowing. Comprehensive show notes mean that each episode is playable pretty much as-is.

I listened to a LOT of gaming podcasts 18 months ago, but Gelatinous Cube is the only one that I still regularly download and listen to. 

All of the the podcasts are here, but if you want show notes for the more recent ones then head over here