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Clear Path Forward

Often she dreamed of towers and dragonback flying and strong hands holding hers, of golden rings blazing with power and of long tracks in the wilderness that led, finally, to nowhere at all.At precisely 06:15 the screen in her apartment blared out its alarm and dragged her upright and attentive while she was still not yet awake.   Stretching and calisthenics until 06:30 and then a breakfast of souring milk and tasteless Libertyflakes before the long walk to work.  Her bicycle, requisitioned a month ago and, melted down, was helping to secure victory against the relentless inhuman enemies of her freedom to obey and work herself to death.She didn’t think that thought.Between 08:58 and 13:01 she sat at a desk with a shiny plastic table whose top didn’t quite look like wood.   Documents arrived on her left and she corrected them using a combination of voice recognition software which didn’t work and a grubby grey keyboard that mostly did. 
She dreamed often of a world of glorious cold daw…

September Round Up- RPGS and RTCs

I haven’t posted for a while so here’s a quick round up of what’s been going on in the world of Finn

RPG Stuff
We’ve finished the most recent story arc of Rogier’s epic D&D campaign with my stoic old veteran Alaric Helm and his stalwart companion Lia the half elf misanthropist/ranger (a non standard dual class) defending the border realms of men from a goblin invasion.   We’ll be returning there soon after a spell of me running Blades in the Dark for them – a more supernaturally focussed visit to Doskvol as their characters are a Whisper/Leech team faking seances and selling magically infused dream potions to the wealthy and decadent.
My other Blades in the Dark campaign is less esoterically focussed with the HellRunner Corp of smugglers dividing their time between hunting down a serial killer in Crowsfoot (now revealed to be an Iruvian diplomat who is being shipped out of the city by his superiors) and getting involved with the machinations of the dreaded Izing Consortium a shadow…

History May Not Repeat, But Often Rhymes

Those old men in their towers, rich in gold and oil and powers  
Will never cry 'enough, I'm satisfied'
And they send out their town criers, and their skilful journaliars
And they cast their spell so trusted and so tried

See the other, over there? What they're doing is unfair
And their ways are wrong and evil and obscene
We must fear them and must hate them, and completely decimate them
For while they live the world is never clean

So they'll march boys off to war as they've marched them off before
And they beat the drums of falsehood and of shame
And if judgement's to be had between what's good and bad
then first you need to ask the killer's name

Jeepers Creepers

A creature for old school game systems (and others with a bit of tweaking) – inspired heavily by the explosive bastards from Minecraft Description
These shambling humanoids are composed of vegetable matter and exhibit a basic level of sentience. They have no language, no culture, they are effectively a means for the species to propogate itself. Originally encountered within the Minecraft game these silent and explosive monsters are a threat to anyone who ventures into the dark places of the world. Creepers are roughly human sized and human shaped (understandably given their origin- see below) but they are comprised entirely of a mottled green-brown fungal substance. Their bodies lack definition and fine detail, with lumpy misshapen faces and hands like they have been badly formed by a lazy worker in clay. Amid the fungal masses that make up the body are black specks with short sharp cactus like spines emerging from them. These are the spores that are disseminated by the creature to p…

Star Stones of Atar

A capsule setting for fantasy gaming The land of Atar is a land beset on every side by the forces of chaos and wildness. Lawless men and creatures from out of nightmare roam the land and the wilderness is a little explored new frontier. Only the Star Stones provide sanctuary.
The Star Stones are powerful artifacts whose origin is a source of speculation and superstition. Some say they were a gift from the gods. Some say they fell from the heavens. Some say they are the crystalline hearts of ancient immortal beings whose dreams created all things.
Nobody knows for sure where they came from but everything depends upon them. Each Star Stone is a gem or crystal the size of a man's head, of a shape that is hard to define and which seems to contain too many angles and facets. Each shines with its own light that seems to come from within it and the shadows of which extend in unnatural ways that make no sense.
Stones of Sanctuary Each Star Stone protects its surroundings from the chaos in …

Sorcerous Sigils

Being a treatment of the art of magic for sorcerers and their ilk for Lamentations of the Flame Princess and similar old school games – in short some House Rules that suit my style of play a little better.
Spellbooks
Each sorcerer maintains a spellbook which is a working journal containing the details of the spells he or she knows. Each spell consists of a complex geometric form or sigil that the caster must visualise as he or she reinforces the form with gesture and spoken incantation.
If the spellbook is lost or destroyed the sorcerer can recreate it but this will take time - one 8 hour workday per spell per level.
Studying The sorcerer must revise from the spellbook for at least an hour each day, practising forming the sigils. If the sorcerer is not able to do this - either because of time constraints or the lack of access to their spellbook - then spellcasting becomes a greater effort for them. They can cast only half the normal number of spells per spell level each day until this …

Hey, you. Yes, you!

Hey.I’m sending you an image.   It will reach you somehow.You’ve been unresponsive since we got you back from the enemy, but the doctors say your mind is active in a  dream prison they made for you.  A life so real you can’t escape it.    Reasons to stay there.   I don’t know what dream it is but my words have to reach you.  Maybe you’ll hear them, or read them in a book.  Maybe on a screen.You have to walk through the door to wake up.  The door in the image.Please.  Do it now.

One from the (secret) vaults.

Yesterday I mentioned to a friend that before “A Step Beyond Context” I’d been working on a novel set in an early-Victorian magical subculture in England – but that I’d abandoned it because I couldn’t get the pacing right and it was too long and drawn out.I decided to dig it out just to take another look at it (and show off some of the good ideas lurking in there) and discovered that I’d already redrafted it, sorted out the pacing and made it a lot narrower in focus and a better work as a result.I have no memory of doing that.  At all.  And it’s about 75,000 words.   I was not in a good place (as they say) at the time but even so you’d think I would have remembered at least doing something.   Maybe the fairies did it overnight in exchange for me leaving out saucers of milk.I had a good time reading through it but was baffled.

Lamentations of 1666

Now that I’ve discovered the Homebrewery I’m getting carried away with prettying up some otherwise drab notes and handouts.This link HERE will take you to a work in progress document that summarises (so far) the 17th century apocalyptic Europe setting I’m working on, and also a sample antagonist that fits (the dreaded Inquisitors and their minions)

The Blackspire Horror

I recently wrote and ran a very simple one-shot for Lamentations of the Flame Princess and it went well.   Rather than write up the adventure as a module with GM advice, suggestions for play etc, I’m just uploading my actual notes from which any GM worth her salt should be able to improvise around the player’s choices and their characters actions.   In the adventure I ran the end turned out very differently to the most likely outcome as one of the party realised that her only chance of saving her downed allies from the dreadful undead was to make a deal with the devil…Anyway, make of it what you will – The Blackspire Horror

Bare Handed

Every empire falls and there’s not a one that’s lasted,
A state has an expiry date, and yours has blown right past it
It happened to us once and soon you’ll join us in the wreckage
Your influence is fucked your credibility is lessened
Made enemies of friends and you suck up to dictators
You brag about your bombs but you’ll only devastate us
With a tanked e-conomy and a trade war that’s not needed
And tariffs on the borders making headlines for the readers
Of the press – If I can call them press cos really that’s a joke
They’re a propaganda outlet for the racist redneck volk
“He’s a tough guy, he’ll make the country great again”
Bullshit, he’s a moron, and you’re going down the drain
All his goons investigated for fraud and for collusion
And he fornicated porn stars, cos his marriage is illusion
It almost made me numb to all the stories that kept breaking
At how fucking dumb a nation gets when it’s mistaken
In choosing an orangutan to try and run the country
He’s a moron not a politic…

Wooden Heart

The grove of trees was secluded, and it was dark.  It was ancient and largely unknown.  And it was waiting.    The eldest of the trees held court there, squatting like a bloated tyrant with a tanglewood crown and grasping miser’s fingers raking the earth around its corpulent trunk.   Healthy things did not grow there, wholesome plants did not flourish.   Birds did not roost in the trees of that grove, not the wise old birds anyway.  Ravens shunned it.   Foolish fledgeling songbirds who fluttered into the tyrant’s little realm did not flutter out again.   Insects and crawling things flourished and dug and bred greedily in the stinking moisture of the hollows of that grove.An approaching light, flimsy and weak.   Two men picked their way through the night, a lantern held aloft by the older of the two.“It is much further?” said the younger, a strong young man in his twenties, broad shouldered beneath his roughspun jacket.   His voice carried the barely masked complaint of someone who had…

Apocalypse

I’m working on the background for a new fantasy horror setting and the following idea interrupted me this morning:

Every generation produces zealots who believe that they are living in the End Times.
At midnight of June 1st 1660 the bells of St Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican began to ring by themselves, a long and melancholy peal of bells that lasted for five minutes. As they stopped, every single church bell in Christendom tolled a single note in response.
Some saw this as a miraculous sign of God’s providence. Some saw this as a warning of God’s wrath. The next few years became a time of turmoil and wonder.
Wars began and ended and began again along once stable borders. Civil uprisings occurred and revolutionary sentiments were widespread.
Reports of miracles and healings were heard from far off places and sometimes holy shrines nearer at hand. Tales of the rise of witchcraft and dark sorcery haunted the fears of those who would listen. Ghosts and apparitions were rumoured to appe…

Beautiful Stranger

When I first became immortal I assumed it would be like being part of an exclusive club of wise and mysterious beings, roaming the earth like gods and angels.  It really isn’t.   There aren’t many of us but we keep bumping into each other.   The world becomes a dull party.  You know their jokes, stories, habits and hang ups.   One minute you’re sitting on a beach watching the sun set and the next some bastard’s bitching about some merchant from Thebes who stiffed him over an amphora of bad wine.    Most of us become solitary.  All of us become bad company.Not youHah.  Maybe.    I’ve been alone too long and sometimes I need to make contact.   Not with another immortal though.    Tedious bunch, like I said.  And the ones that aren’t tedious are too damned dangerous.   I warned you about those didn’t I?Scared me silly.   I’ve been looking out for Them ever since.They’re too good at hiding.  I’m putting you at risk by talking to you, I should go.Please don’t.  I want to learn more about y…

(Old) School’s In For Summer

I recently discovered Lamentations of the Flame Princess mainly due to seeing it mentioned all over the Internet as something worthy of note – people talked about its high production values, innovation, boundary pushing etc and I thought I’’d see what all the fuss was about.


The basic rules are available for free online in an art-free version (which is a shame – the art is splendidly evocative of the feel intended by the author) and I will be honest and say that when I first read through the rules I was underwhelmed.   Yes it was an old school D&D clone, laid out very well, clearly explained and with some nice rule tweaks to tidy things up --- but it didn’t seem to be anything special.   I was a bit nonplussed as to what all the fuss was about.     Then I saw a few reviews on YouTube – IvanMike and QuestingBeast do a lot of old school gaming posts and reviewed a number of LotFP’s products – and it dawned on me that the strength of the game isn’t from the system but from the advent…

Silent Movie Pacing

I’ve been watching a lot of silent movies lately – specifically as much of Lon Chaney's output as I can find (the man could act with every cell of his body and is a pleasure to watch – seriously go find his stuff and savour it) and one of the things that struck me is the pacing of the movies.

Without dialogue every scene has to convey all the emotional oomph and exposition in as condensed and pure a form as possible. If there is necessary dialogue then one or two captions take care of it and the rest is acted out and the movies gets on with the next scene. Once you watch a few in sequence and then go back to a more modern movie (or talkie, to be precise) it becomes obvious just how much filler there is.  Some people can write good dialogue (Mamet for instance), some is perfectly functional, but some is just filler.

I was wondering how this would apply to RPGs.

Obviously character interaction is a vital part of the experience in role-playing and I’m not suggesting it is eschewed i…

Beasts of the Bone Coast

After the wreck of the ship carrying them into slavery, a small band of survivors face the dangers of the hostile land where they have washed up. Gigantic insects, abandoned temples to alien gods, impenetrable jungles – and worst of all a city of hate-filled ape-men marching against an isolated human township that is our heroes’ only hope of escape from this hellish new world

My latest adventure BEASTS OF THE BONE COAST is now available for free download HERE.

This is a short survival based adventure in the sword & sorcery genre with game suggestions and statistics for both Barbarians of Lemuria and Index Card RPG.   Starting from nothing can your heroes survive a hostile land and save a helpless town from a horde of crazed beast-men?

Comes complete with rules for a Mammoth-back chase and hero-focussed mass combat.

NSFW

It was a hot day, and the office seemed hotter than the world outside.  Despite the air conditioning she was perspiring, feeling lazy and sticky and just a little bit horny.

Looking around herself, seeing that none of her co-workers were looking at her she slipped her cellphone from her purse and used her thumb to deftly caress words into a new text message for her lover
Text me something NSFW
She smiled a private smile as she sent it, and imagined how he’d react.    Seconds later her phone whispered to her that a new message had arrived.  Reaching down and holding the phone below desk level, flat against the so-proper dark blue skirt, she opened the message.
What’s NSFW?
She tsked in frustration.   Sometimes she half believed that he was a refugee from the Victorian era as he often joked.    Her thumb moved again on the slick screen, teasing out a new message letter by letter.
Not Safe For Work.   You know… something provocative.
She sent the message.   The word provocative pleased her…

Bride of the Rat King–an adventure for Barbarians of Lemuria

My new adventure for Barbarians of Lemuria – Mythic Edition is now available free.  Your bold heroes are engaged to investigate the disappearance of a young noblewoman in the shadowy underworld of the city of the Lich King.   Dangers, death, intrigue and some foul magic will surely await – as you would expect.The folder includes the pdf of the adventure itself plus some .png files ready made and scaled for use as Roll20 battlemaps (the file name gives the size of Roll20 screen to create for an exact fit)I’ve included some conversion notes for Index Card Role Playing Game the philosophy and mechanics of which have been inspiring me for a while now.I hope you enjoy the adventure – please let me know what you think and how things go if you bring it to your table.
DOWNLOAD LINK

Aru-Kamis–Return to the City of the Lich King

I’m currently working on a new Barbarians of Lemuria adventure Bride of the Rat King which is tentatively located in my existing setting of the dreadful haunted city of Aru-Kamis (though it can be dropped into any setting that has cities with disreputable areas, which is pretty much all of them).   Because it’s been a while since I posted my Aru-Kamis setting online, and because when I originally created it I inadvertently and spontaneously created a gang of criminals that had the same name as a gang of criminals from another and rather wonderful game, I thought I’d tidy up the setting material, correct the coincidental plagiarism and reupload it.So if your Barbarian heroes are likely to enjoy visiting a haunted city of shadows ruled over by an immortal lich, then you can find out all you need to know about Aru-Kamis (and hints about its sister cities) HERE

The Stone and the Seven

Cannot sleep my lady?  Then draw close to the candle and listen.I will tell you a tale of the old old days there were not in fact so long ago as you would hope.The King in those days had two sons.   The eldest son, the heir was a foul creature, handsome enough to look upon but nobody could long bear his presence without wanting to flee him or strike him.   The King indulged his eldest son and the people suffered for it, but not so much that they would rise up and turn horror into anger.In those days a traveller came through the wood, astray in the dark heart of it, lost and cold.  Each path mocked him with its turns and every way he took brought him back across his own earlier path.   If he called on the Virgin for guidance she did not hear him or choose to answer.The denizens of that house were several and they were foul welcoming him with mocking eagerness, complimenting the length of his limbs and the strength of his frame and the beauty of his features.   They themselves were shor…

Abandoned Beauty

“He’s on his way, I’ve seen him through the eyes of owls.  Young and full of vigour,” Her voice was self-satisfied, with just a hint of lewd appreciation.
“So romantic,” came the reply in gentle delicate tones of wistful contentment
“Romance be damned,” the third voice was a menacing rumble, “it’s the story that draws him.  Always the story.”
The three of them waited in an upper room, looking out of the window into the wooded valley below.   The house was glorious once, but that was before it had been abandoned to the elements and to time, before moss and vines grew over its surface and the burrowing creatures dug into its rocky foundations, before the rain and wind of countless years wore away the paint and etched age into the face of the building.   
The three of them wore the shapes, more or less, of women.
“We should try to stop him of course,” said the first of them, “Should I…?”
“No,” sighed the second, “let me.  Poor boy.”   She relaxed out of her vanishing body and the valle…

Oh my gosh

I’m far more excited than I have any right to be after receiving notification of a piddling little electronic payment.  My first ever royalties for my novel have just come through and while it will barely cover the cost of the new ICRPG core rulebook coming out today I am very happy indeed – Guess this means I’m a professional writer now!If you want to see what’s made me so happy check out “A Step Beyond Context”

The Star Flung Hammer

A new Sword & Sorcery adventure for Index Card RPG involving a daring expedition into hostile territory and the confrontation of an unexpected cosmic horror.

Something strange fell from the sky into the land of the Jötnar - and those brave souls who went in search of it never came back.  Now doom is prophesied and new heroes must arise to follow the path to danger and glory - but worse things than Jötnar dwell in the mountains, and the secret of the Star-Flung Hammer is nothing that those heroes could have imagined.

Download here

The Jötnar

The Jötnar, (singular Jötun, make the plural “Jotuns” if you want – they’re unlikely to call the Plurality Police) are an adversarial race suitable for a dark ages, particularly Viking inspired setting.   
The name is often mistranslated into English as “giant” (via a Norman/French word relating to a Hellenic Greek concept misapplied to a term in Hebrew if you’re interested) but the Norse folk did not see them as particularly being of great size.The name is more accurately translated as “devourer” or “wrecker” and the Jötnar are seen as forces opposed to good order and human society.Some may appear larger than normal folk, others smaller, others may have appealing features, others again may be monstrous in many ways.
They dwell outside the edges of the human controlled lands (a famous Jötun dwelled in Utgard, the name literally meaning “beyond the bounds”) and typically provide a force of external menace and opposition.
While they are not some sort of monstrous race like Orcs or Goblins,…