Pixels & Platforms

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

High Level Games: Five Settings To Pilfer For Your Game

I wrote another article for HLG! This one is Five Settings to Pilfer For Your Game. It's about a handful of books, shows, and games I've experienced relatively recently that I think would make for good tabletop RPG settings, or at least settings to pilfer from. One of them should be obvious given the image below ;), but hopefully one or two of these will be new to you.

Friday, October 11, 2019

Make it as you go RPG (200 Word RPG Challenge)

I made a 200 word RPG for the 200 Word RPG Challenge! It's called Make it as you go RPG and it's not even worth me re-stating it here because doing so would be longer than you just clicking that link and reading it!

I posted about it on the 200 Word RPG Subreddit where I describe my intentions and motivations for the system in a bit more detail. It's as much a setting generator, game generator, and thought experiment as it is a game per se, and I hope people get some value out of it. If you try it out, let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Cantrippers: Novelty Superpowers

A list of Novelty "Superpowers". These mutants are no X-Men, but if you're clever, you might be able to put these powers to some use. This idea is loosely inspired by the Valiant Comic series Secret Weapons, about "Psiots" (basically Marvel Mutants) with unremarkable powers who have been brought together as a superhero team. So you could use the official Valiant Universe RPG / Cue System, or you could implement these powers into pretty much any other system or setting, since they're intentionally supposed to be minimally useful.

I thought "Cantripper" would be a fun name for them, since these are kind of like Vancian-magic Cantrip-level superpowers, and I'm always a fan of adding superpowers to an otherwise traditional fantasy setting.

These could just be a background element of the game, but I think it would be fun to build a whole adventure around them. You could go the narrative game route, which might be easier, but it might be fun to implement these powers in an already underpowered system like OSR, where the players will have to come up with really clever uses of their powers in order to survive.

  1. No reflection.

  2. Can see one second into the future.

  3. Can levitate while running off a cliff so long as they are unaware that they are not on the ground (cartoon-style).

  4. Invulnerable except for an Achille's head and heart.

  5. Can speak to the recently dead (within six minutes of their death). The dead are exactly as coherent as they were at the moment of their death, and generally panicking over the existential and metaphysical dread of their situation.

  6. Can turn invisible but only when no one is looking.

  7. No body odor (entirely scentless).

  8. Can eat anything (like a goat). Only derive sustenance if the ingested item has nutritional value.

  9. Can turn any static image on any surface into a gif-like animation loop for up to one minute.

  10. Can produce spider-sized spider webbing.

  11. Can speak to cats. They are exactly as communicative and cooperative as you would expect.

  12. Abnormally long tongue that is prehensile, retractable, detachable, re-attachable, regenerative, and operates independently with its own nerve cluster, like an octopus tentacle (and is maybe telepathically linked to its person).

  13. Swaps dreams with any random person each night.

  14. Has somehow acquired expert-level knowledge of a seemingly non-existent topic, like the biology of an unknown species or geography of an undiscovered land.

  15. Can produce a flame equivalent to a match from their own metabolism, or extract excess clean fresh or salt water from their body.

  16. Bone structure, height, weight, and other physical features are constantly shifting. Changes are noticeable day-over-day; clothes they wore at the beginning of the week no longer fit by the end of the week.

  17. Can create a room-sized devastating explosion, only once.

  18. Can alter their own brain chemistry to induce any kind of inebriated / psychoactive state.

  19. Can prepare a supernaturally delicious meal from any ingredients. The meal appears as the best version of itself but nothing more, and the nutritional value is unchanged.

  20. Receives an unintelligible signal (telepathic, electromagnetic, magical, etc.) from an advanced lifeform that may (or may not) be a deity, or the epicenter of all reality.

  21. Eyelids are one-way screens through which they can see even when closed.

  22. When they close their eyes they see through any random person's eyes.

  23. Can adjust their perception of different acoustic signals as if they had volume control over all sounds in their environment. This ability does not alter the loudness of the sounds, just their perception of it.

  24. Long or thick tail that may or may not be prehensile.

  25. Do not appear to age, but still experience the effects of aging / mortality.

  26. Can adjust their height between 5'1'' and 6'6'' within the span of half a minute.

  27. Can vocalize a loud, air horn-like sound.

  28. Can levitate six inches off the ground for six seconds at a time.

  29. Is immune to the psychoactive effects of any substances, but is still vulnerable to other physiological effects (e.g. won't get drunk, but can die of alcohol poisoning).

  30. Can summon an ineffectual, cartoon-ish, teddy bear-like pet / companion. It can't talk, but makes cute noises. It is lovable, but mostly useless. It will try to follow simple commands to the best of its ability, but often fumbles even the simplest tasks in astonishing and humorous ways. If destroyed, it can be re-summoned within a day (or you can remove this regenerative ability if you want to get really sad with it...).

  31. Has the proportional speed and metabolism of a sloth.

  32. For any possible occurrence, they can increase or decrease the probability by 1% in their favor (e.g. the probability of winning the lottery goes from ~0.0000000715% chance to ~0.0000000722% chance).

  33. Sour foods taste sweet to them, as if they are always under the effects of miracle fruit.

  34. Immune to boredom.

  35. Experiences one or more unique or inexplicable emotions, such as an emotion vaguely like "manic annoyance" triggered by dogs that are slightly less cute than they should be, or "meditative aggro" triggered by a good workout towards the end of the day. Brain scans would suggest these emotions have unique neural activation patterns or even unique neurobiological circuits, not unlike fear and arousal.

  36. Can change their eye and hair color at will, including exotic coloration.

  37. Can turn gold to lead.

  38. Has a supernatural "presence". Not a literal aura of light, but they always stand out in a crowd.

  39. Lays eggs, independent of gender. The appearance and taste of the eggs is best compared to that of a platypus or echidna. The eggs cost as many calories to produce as they provide. They feel a pressure to lay an egg usually once or twice a day, and can suppress the feeling for a while, but as with bowel movements, will eventually need to go.

  40. Muscle flexion produces flashes or sparkles around them. Sometimes it also produces a BAM noise.

  41. Eidetic-like memory, except the memories are always incorrect in some critical way.

  42. Quantum-entangled with a self-aware machine or golem on a distant, empty celestial body. They perceive its contemplations about life and the vastness of spacetime and the meaning or meaninglessness of the universe, like a running monologue.

  43. No shadow.

  44. Can change the color of non-living things by touch.

  45. Supernaturally broad vocal range.

  46. They are extremely fragrant, but can control the scent of their body odor, such as to smell like chocolate or roses.

  47. Can draw a mathematically perfect circle, down to the sub-atomic level, that maintains its perfect state across time, regardless of the movement of particles. Has absolutely no conscious awareness of how they can do this.

  48. Has a mostly cosmetic supernatural phenotype, like a beak, scales, unnatural skin or hair color, tentacles for arms that are effectively only as functional as regular arms and hands, cyclops eye (may or may not affect depth perception), etc.

  49. Tough soles on their feet that provide equivalent protection as hiking boots.

  50. Their brain is a literal black box. They seem to have normal consciousness for their species, the black box is as vulnerable as a regular human brain, and seems to respond to stimuli and chemicals in the same way as a regular brain, and yet its exact mechanics are completely inexplicable.

  51. Colorful shadows.

  52. Their reflection is of a different person.

  53. Can alter the way things taste (no nutritional / health changes).

  54. Their shadows act independently, and can stretch or compress to roughly twice or half size, change shape, and rotate around them.

  55. Once a day a random piece of factual trivia that they did not already know springs to mind. This may be something they have insufficient context to understand, or something they could not have otherwise ever learned.

  56. Supernaturally boring.

  57. Always warm to the touch. This has no effect on their biology and does not protect them or others from freezing.

  58. Always cold to the touch. This has no effect on their biology and does not protect them or others from overheating.

  59. Is a were-carp. Can transform at will, but is compelled into transformation in the presence of waterfalls. They will ignore everything in the presence of waterfalls and attempt to swim up the waterfall until they bring themselves to exhaustion. They have the proportional strength, intelligence, and other abilities of a carp.

  60. While they are alone, a pocket dimension opens 10'x10' around them. There is a 5 in 10 chance it is indistinguishable from the space it is replacing, 4 in 10 chance to be weird but harmless (or maybe even pleasant), and a 1 in 10 chance to be their personal hell. When the pocket dimension closes, any positive or negative effects of the space are reversed as if they never happened.

  61. Can transform into an animal for 1d6 minutes. During their transformation, they have the intelligence and behaviors of that animal. They may or may not have the ability to control what kind of animal they turn into.

  62. Every day, a random single moment (no more than 1 minute in duration) is eidetically encoded into their memory.

  63. Once per day at a random time they experience divine bliss and cosmic awareness for 1d6 minutes. They have little ability to interact with the material world during that time, and their memories of the experience are hazy and dreamlike, and difficult to derive meaning from.

  64. Super-speed, but susceptible to the shearing force of that speed on their body, the force of colliding with another object at that speed, and the force of inertia if they attempt to stop abruptly. Even with practice, utilizing the super-speed is extremely dangerous.

  65. A healing factor that makes them susceptible to ugly scars, broken bones healing incorrectly, rapid cancer metastasization, rapid over-development of muscle tissue, and similar negative consequences, in addition to the obvious positive benefits.

  66. Emits perpetual low-grade EMPs within a 6" radius around them; all electronics shut down, and magnets lose their attractiveness.

  67. Can transmit energy equivalent to a potato lightbulb.

  68. Automatically knows the curse words of any language they encounter. This does not transmit any magical properties of those words if they are literal curse words!

  69. Non-magical, non-intelligent cats will respond to their commands equivalently to a moderately well-trained dog.

  70. Supernaturally talented at something highly specific and mostly useless, like playing a single videogame that nobody cared about even when it came out 15 years ago let alone today, or making savory jello salad, or something else like that.

  71. Slugs, snails, and related creatures of a non-magical and non-intelligent nature are attracted to them. It is not uncommon for them to find a cluster of slimy things waiting for them when they exit a building.

  72. Can perform simple prestidigitation. If they are a magic user in a setting where magic users already can use prestidigitation at no cost, they can do prestidigitation of twice the magnitude than would normally be possible, or two separate instances simultaneously.

  73. If they carry no currency, they gain the equivalent of $1 once per day.

  74. Can make non-living things shiny by touching them.

  75. Can make non-living things sticky by touching them. They are not especially adhesive, just kind of gross and uncomfortable to the touch. Clammy.

  76. When they go to sleep, they pop out of existence. When they wake up, they return exactly where they were, as they were. Anything that would trigger wakefulness, such as a knock on the door or an alarm, also returns them.

  77. Once per day at a random time, they pop out of existence for 1d6 minutes, after which they return exactly where they were, as they were.

  78. Can instantly kill any mundane creature with a single finger strike, but the finger falls off shortly thereafter. They have a sixth finger on each hand, so they can use this ability 12 times in their life. If they have extra fingers, extra hands, or no hands, it still works 12 times by some other identifiable means.

  79. Despite appearances, they are actually of a different kingdom than their origin species, e.g. if they were birthed from animals, they are actually a fungus, or if they grew from a fungal spore, they are actually a bacteria. This affects what kinds of diseases they may contract, genetic disorders they may have, and certain other biological functions, but they are mostly functional and passable as their origin species. Magic operates on them as if they were their origin species (it's like how tomatoes are considered vegetables in a culinary sense even though they're fruits in a biological sense).

  80. When they must wait in a line the line moves supernaturally fast and smooth and/or they somehow get to cut through some or all of the line. This also applies, to a lesser extent, to traffic and other bureaucratic "lines" like customer service or dealing with paperwork.

  81. Maintains moderate physical fitness even with poor diet and exercise. If they want to actually be or appear athletic or muscular, they'll still have to do some exercise and have some consideration for their diet, but less so than other people.

  82. Zeitgeist; without consciously understanding what, how, or why, they can design logos, catch-phrases, and jingles that capture the zeitgeist. The things they create are not magical or supernatural, they're just really on-point.

  83. Both conscious and unconscious ability to control their circadian rhythm. Will always get the best possible night of sleep. Can make themselves practically unwakeable, or quickly readied at the slightest interruption. Seamlessly switch between different sleep modes such as micro-sleep. Will always dream or lucid dream, if they want to.

  84. Is cold blooded (or if their species is already cold blooded, then is warm blooded).

  85. Color vision is as acute in low-light as it is in normal light.

  86. True multitasking; can effortlessly maintain two separate trains of thought, or more with penalty (as normal multitasking).

  87. Once per day, can reverse time by up to 6 seconds.

  88. Has a fully functional extra appendage.

  89. If they are hungry, carrying no food, and have no currency or no other access to food, they can summon a food item with the equivalent nutritional value of a deli sandwich once per day.

  90. Produces excessive amounts of earwax which can be used as wax (e.g. for candle making).

  91. Produces excessive saliva of varying viscosity.

  92. Has relatively brittle, nubby little horns (if their species already has horns, they now have more horns, but of a relatively brittle and nubby kind). Getting poked by them would kind of hurt. They grow like nails but only up to a short length.

  93. Can alter probabilities, but only when using randomization devices such as cards or dice, and only when the results have not been made deterministic (such as somebody effectively counting cards, or using loaded dice). The magnitude of their ability is more like a "nudge" than it is like loading the dice or fixing the deck.

  94. Can produce beams of colorful lights and sparkles from their hands. They have no effects besides being bright.

  95. Can convert non-living things made of mundane stone (e.g. non-magical, non-psionic, etc.) into other kinds of mundane stone of a comparable mass, hardness, economic value, and other quantitative and qualitative differences.

  96. They can integrate clothing, armor, weapons, and tools into their own biology, like their skin, muscles, and nerves intertwining with a suit of armor. It takes roughly a day to fully integrate the item or to separate from it (somewhat varying by the size and complexity of the item). This provides little to no additional advantage, besides it becoming a natural and comfortable part of their body, and is not removable except by intentional or violent means.

  97. Have the very niche psionic ability to press buttons or dials, turn knobs, or make other simple mechanical gestures, by blinking.

  98. Their body is completely hollow. In every way their body operates as normal (normal weight, nutritional demands, ability to consume foods, be poisoned, choke on food, etc.), but they can also open themselves up from a number of latches on their body only visible and operable by themselves, and store up to their body size of stuff. Those things do not affect their weight and are effectively in stasis until they reopen themselves.

  99. Has a potato-like body and the ability to swap out their body features with spare parts. This technically makes them more resilient to mutilation and injury than a normal person, but they can still feel pain and be killed.

  100. Can expel a substance like vanilla pudding from their hands in short spurts, with just about enough force to knock over an average-sized human child. The pudding is bland and not especially tasty, nor does it have any nutritional value or provide a sensation of satiety. It evaporates into nothing in less than a minute. They can build up more pudding for slightly greater effect by not using their power for a while. The process of expulsion is weirdly pleasurable to them, and not using their power for some time can be uncomfortable.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Contrarian Hot Take: I am Down for Feast of Legends: The Wendy's RPG

If you're expecting deep, critical analysis, look elsewhere. This is strictly a hot-take.

If you are not familiar, Wendy's just made a tabletop RPG, Feast of Legends, based fairly closely on D&D 5e, set in their original setting Freshtopia. This is not a review of the game; I've coarsely skimmed through it, and anyway I'm not a huge fan of D&D 5e in the first place. This also isn't a detailed breakdown of what's in the book. It's about 100 pages, it's free, and it's fairly well organized, you can skim through it yourself. This is me saying, I am a-ok with this.

Is it just a cynical, corporate advertisement for a massive fast-food chain. Of course. Is it going to be an ENNIE award winning system / campaign that we should all check out. I dunno, I just skimmed it, but probably not. Is it cool. Fuck ya it is!

Are you god damn kidding me!? Am I the only one who used to build worlds out of my happy meal toys!? I dunno, there's something just kinda nostalgic and pleasant about the idea of a fast-food chain themed fantasy setting. I want to see a barbarian in a Wendy's wig fighting a horde of monstrous Grimaces. Do you remember that creepy fucker!? I want a magic french fry sword! I want a wizard to cast Deep Fry you Fucks! Fuck! yes! 

The setting of Freshtopia is more original than anything D&D-proper has put out in like 20 years. This is just a dial over from Adventure Time! You even have what is essentially an Ice Kingdom! And come on, we all love evil clowns, and fantasy-Mcdonalds is the perfect evil faction! Ronald McDonald the science-fantasy Cryo-tech Jester Lich King. FUUUUCK YEEES!!!!

I'm not saying I'm likely to play this setting as-is, but then again, I don't play any settings as-is because I build worlds. But this makes me want to run with this. I'd totally be town to game in an Adventure Time-esque post-post-apocalyptic science fantasy setting with anti-corporate cyberpunk themes centered around fast food chains!! Wasn't there a Judge Dredd comic like this!? 

Anyway ya, so I'm probably not going to Wendy's any time soon (although Frosty's are delicious), but even if I did, fuck it. They put out a ~100 page RPG book, and it seems like they put some genuine effort into it. It has, if nothing else, made me chuckle, and inspired me a bit. I'm not trying to shill for a major corporation here, they can rot in hell like the rest of them, but someone there is having fun, and good on those people.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Warlord: TNT Type

I've only played D&D 4e a few times, probably a decade ago, way before I formally got into tabletop RPGs. I didn't have an especially great experience, the people I was playing with were nice enough but they were people I met online so I had no pre-existing relationship with them, and their sensibilities were everything I don't want out of tabletop. Also, combat was waaaay too long. In any case, I don't think 4e is my kind of game, but to my limited understanding of it, I can respect it for what it is. It seems if you want a game that is tactical, without being overly crunchy for the sake of simulationism, then 4e is the way to go. I was always interested in the 4e-based Gamma World, which seemed to strip it down to its essentials, but never got around to playing it. I guess that's neither here nor there.

Anyway, back on point, one consistent positive thing I've heard about 4e from various independent sources is that the Warlord was a really cool class and it was a shame that they didn't follow through with it in 5e. Having skimmed through the wiki, making me basically an expert on the subject, I can see why it was popular. I've always liked the idea of an intelligence-based fighter, but also it's a cool class in that it plays into the tactical-ness of 4e, and it's a martial support class that in addition to using intelligence, also uses charisma, which is often an underutilized attribute. On the whole, it's a cool idea.

I've talked about this in my prior TNT posts, but I really like the combat system in TNT. I like the tactical-ness of missile damage and spite damage within an otherwise opposed roll-based combat. However, like any combat system, it can easily devolve into a slog of number crunching and dull roll after roll. The last session of my campaign I felt like this happened in the single, fairly brief combat encounter. I've been trying to add more special abilities to my Character Types, ideally without getting too crunchy, because I want combat in TNT to be more than just the opposed roll. There should be various other tactical options with corresponding SRs that can sway the battle even when the dice probabilities suggest you'll more often than not win or lose the group combat opposed roll. My hope is for it to be more OSR-like than D&D 4e-like, but 4e can still an interesting point of reference to work from.

So in other words, I think TNT would be will suited to a Character Type very loosely inspired by the D&D 4e Warlord. I'm not using any of the specific 4e Warlord abilities or terminology, it is strictly at the conceptual level.

D&D 4e Warlord

This character type is almost exclusively designed for combat or pre-combat tactics. In a game like TNT, obviously that's not too much of a problem since most things are just attribute-based SR rolls anyway, but it's worth keeping in mind that they don't have any spells or other benefits for SRs outside of combat besides whatever basic talents they have and their attribute scores.

What makes this type cool (or so I think), but also tricky, is that it requires cleverness on at least the part of the Warlord to come up with unique tactical options, willingness of other players to go along with the Warlord, and flexibility and improvisation on the part of the GM to create situations the Warlord can leverage, or respond to the Warlord's plans in interesting ways. I could go more the D&D 4e route and give them explicitly-defined abilities, but that's just not in the spirit of what I want from TNT. That all being said, if everyone is gelling, I think this character type could make combat much more interesting, while still being true to TNT and OSR-like principles. 

Warlord Abilities

Tactical Actions

  • The Warlord can make an IQ SR (Battle Order) or CHA SR (Rally The Troops) by exploiting a Tactical Opportunity (see below), which provide benefits to ally SRs during combat. 
    • The SR will generally be 1-2 (easy), 3-4 (moderate), or 5+ (difficult) minus Warlord level, to a minimum of 1.
    • Warlords cannot attack and make a Tactical Action in the same turn without spending Tactics Points (see below).
    • A Tactical Opportunity can only be used for any Tactical Action once per combat.
    • Once per combat (or more at GM discretion), a failed Tactical Action SR may lead to disadvantageous circumstances (GM discretion).

  • Tactical Opportunity
    • A situation the Warlord can exploit for Tactical Actions. This is intentionally loosely defined, and can be anything from an enemy weakness, a trap, object, or feature in the environment, having the high ground, outnumbering the enemy, having superior training to the enemy, etc.
    • Tactical Opportunities are only allowed to be exploited for a Tactical Action once per combat so that the Warlord must be creative, and by extension combat will hopefully be dynamic and interesting.

  • Battle Order
    • The Warlord exploits a Tactical Opportunity to gain the high ground, allow allies to flank enemies or bypass a defensive line, find a weak point on an enemy, etc. 
    • Effects may include giving an ally a +3 bonus on a combat-related SR roll (such as missile DEX rolls), receiving a hint from the GM of an enemy weakness, triggering some environmental element that damages the enemies or affects the battlefield (like deploying an artillery weapon or dropping boulders from a cliff), increasing the spite range from 6 on d6 to 5 or 6 on d6, allowing an ally to roll three dice and take the best two on an SR, etc.

  • Rally the Troops
    • The Warlord gives a rousing speech or rallying warcry that fills an ally with determination, creating a Tactical Opportunity to do something extraordinary, resist the effects of debilitating injuries, or overcome the odds.
    • Effects may include allowing an ally to fight for one more round even if they've lost all their CON (if the ally succeeds at a CON SR equal to the Tactical Action SR), giving an ally +3 to SRs to resist debuffs such as poisons, sleep spells, and charms, allowing a spellcaster to channel a spell even if they've run out of WIZ (if the ally succeeds at a WIZ SR equal to the Spell Level), creating a new Tactical Opportunity, etc.

  • Tactics Points
    • Every time an ally rolls an SR to perform a unique action (i.e. not missile attack, spellcasting, character type special ability), the Warlord gains a Tactics Point.
    • A Warlord can only have up to 1 + Warlord Level Tactics Points at a time.
    • Each combat, a Warlord starts with 0 Tactics Points, and any unused Tactics Points are lost at the end of a combat.
    • Tactics Points can be used to give the Warlord a +3 bonus to a Tactical Action SR, give a +3 bonus to an ally on a combat SR, or allow the Warlord to make a Tactical Action as a bonus action. The Warlord can spend Tactics Points up to their level times per turn, but can only spend them in the same way once per turn.
      • I.e. They can spend a point to make a Tactical Action as a bonus action and give themselves a +3 bonus to the SR, but they couldn't spend two points to give themselves +6 to the SR.

Warlord Combat Example

Given that Tactical Opportunities and Tactical Actions are loosely defined, I wanted to give an example of what a Warlord can do. So in this party we have Warlord, Warrior, Rogue, and Wizard, against a horde of goblins, including two club-wielding Clublins, three pig-riding Pigboiz, a goblin Whiz, and a Bugbear.

The Rogue makes a DEX SR to shoot a flaming arrow into the brush to create a fire along the goblins' path. This gives the Warlord a Tactics Point. They use the Tactics Point to make a Tactics Action (specifically, Rallying the Troops) as a bonus action, by exploiting the Tactical Opportunity of the fire. They roll CHA SR 2 (even a horde of Goblins aren't that tough), and on success, intend to give the Warrior a +3 bonus to their CON SR to resist the fire as they charge into battle. The Wizard casts a spell, and the Warrior and Warlord roll their damage dice (the Rogue already took their action to start the fire, but the fire damage dice are added to the roll as well). Since the warrior succeeded at their CON SR, they take no fire damage.

On the next turn, the goblins are intimidated by the Warrior who charges into battle amidst the fire without a care in the world. The Warrior decides to make a battlecry, a showy display meant to further intimidate the goblins, granting the Warlord another Tactics Point. During the commotion, the Rogue wants to set a wire trap to trip the Bugbear, the most dangerous of these Goblins. The Warlord spends their Tactics Point to add +3 to their Tactics Action, a Battle Order, to give the Rogue +3 to the SR to lay the trap. They roll an IQ SR to see if the Battle Order succeeds at assisting the Rogue. Additionally, since this is a unique action SR on the part of the Rogue (and not an SR in response to the circumstance, as the CON SR for the Warrior in the last round was), the Warlord gets another Tactics Point, which it uses to make that Tactics Action a bonus action, so that they can still contribute to the opposed combat roll. The bugbear is successfully tripped, taking them out of the opposed combat roll (for now), and the fight continues...


I really like the core concept of this Character Type, but it definitely needs testing. I like the idea of keeping tactical actions and the benefits they provide fairly rules-light, almost more like FATE aspects. However, in itself it's not a major benefit, which is why I allowed tactics points to be spent to allow Warlords to make tactics actions as a bonus action. However, part of me wonders if that is overkill. Also, all of this only works if players are willing to take the initiative to make a bunch of SRs rather than just straight combat, which I think is really cool and a necessary buy-in, but it is definitely a demanding thing to ask on a consistent basis. What do you all think?

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Minigame: Tama-Dama Collectible Egg Battle Game!

I have several other posts brewing but I've been fairly busy lately, so I figure now's the time to break the glass on some of my backup posts. This is something I wrote up forever ago.

This is a minigame that exists in my Phantasmos campaign setting, but could be applied to other science fantasy, or even other science fiction or regular fantasy settings, with a bit of tweaking. The game was designed around Numenera / Cypher System and would need to be heavily re-worked for other systems, but I still think it's a cool idea.

I ran it in my old Numenera campaign set in Phantasmos which was forever ago, I can't believe I never posted this on my blog!

It only showed up a few times, mainly giving the players some alternative ways to problem solve (the shopkeep won't sell the mcguffin... unless you can beat him in a tama-dama battle!), and I thought it was fun. You could theoretically build a whole campaign around this!

Rules for Tama-Dama battling

  • By default, lvl 3 difficulty
  • For every lvl difference between tama-damas changes difficulty by 1
  • Element advantage/disadvantage changes difficulty by 1
  • Anti-Information>Absolute Solid>Liquid Starfire>Impossible Light>Anti-Information
    • Learn more about the Elements of Phantasmos
  • Training/specializing in Tama-Dama battling changes difficulty by 1 or 2
  • Intelligence/Might/Speed type determines which pool to use for effort

List of Tama-Dama

Cordicoyot: A cyan-furred puppy coyote-like creature with a psilosymbiote infection 
  • Element: Anti-information
  • Type: Might

Starmander: A translucent yellow, gel-skinned salamander-like creature which breathes liquid starfire
  • Element: Liquid starfire
  • Type: Speed

Angefel: A pink-skinned, cherubic, semi-humanoid, golemite vulture-like creature

  • Element: Absolute solid
  • Type: Intelligence

Elephanshine: An impossible-colored baby elephant-like creature which sprays impossible light rainbows from its trunk
  • Element: Impossible light
  • Type: Intelligence

BB-Beetle: An emerald shelled beetle with pinkish skin, which shoots spitballs of absolute solid
  • Element: Absolute solid
  • Type: Speed

Phreaky Frelin: A frelin-like phreaker who casts spells of anti-information magic
  • Element: Anti-information
  • Type: Intelligence

Cosmom: A ball of gelatinous starfire with arms and big, red lips, which smothers its enemies with love… to death
  • Element: Liquid starfire
  • Type: Might

Impossipanda: A panda-like creature with patches of impossible colored fur, and mesmerizing eyes which produce impossible light. Surprisingly fast for such a fat creature
  • Element: Impossible light
  • Type: Speed

A sample Tama-Dama Tournament

Players will compete against 4 NPCs or each other in a tournament:

Georgina: A mutant girl with the mouth of a lion. 
  • Battles with a lvl 1d2 BB-Beetle.
  • A bratty girl who acts mean to cover her insecurities. Underneath her bluster, she's actually timid and caring.
  • Will get angry and flustered if she loses the first round.
  • Will cry if she loses.
  • If you convince her that you respect her, even if she loses, she will cheer up.

Ruk: A middle-aged tartarian with a hunched back. 
  • Battles with a lvl 1d2 Phreaky Frelin. 
  • Is trained in tama-dama battling.
  • Neckbeard.
  • Will accuse you of cheating if he loses.

Loys: A mutant boy with spirals in place of eyes. 
  • Battles with a lvl 1d2 Cosmom.
  • Nice, but very weird.
  • Has an overbearing / domineering mom.
  • His mom will yell at you if you win the first round.
  • She will begin crying and console the (unperturbed) Loys.
  • He will ask if he can be your friend, regardless of whether you win or lose.

Vincent: A pale, skinny mutant with greasy grayish-blue hair. He is almost attractive, except for his slightly droopy, beady eyes, and large nose. 
  • Battles with a lvl 2 Impossipanda. 
  • Is specialized in tama-dama battling.
  • Arrogant. Too cool to talk to you. Mildly sociopathic. 
  • 1337 h4x0r.
  • If Vincent makes it to the final round and loses a single round, his Impossipanda will turn into NaNo, the secret glitch tama-dama. 
    • NaNo has type superiority regardless of player's tama-dama type.
  • Will be an over-dramatic edge-lord if he loses. 

Monday, September 16, 2019

Aquarian Dawn: Howlston the boom town

Howlston is still very much a growing city (both in-universe and because I'm making things up as I go in my current TNT Aquarian Dawn Campaign), but after the seventh session of my current campaign, I think there's enough here to share more about Howlston, the primary location of the setting.

Since I intend for this campaign to focus heavily on settlement building, Howlston needs to be an interesting place. While my SHIELDBREAKER campaign, set in Nova Arkham of my Phantasmos campaign setting, was also a fairly centralized campaign, unlike Phantasmos, in Aquarian Dawn I can't over-rely on gonzo, so this is an interesting challenge for me. I still allowed myself a little bit of gonzo baked into the premise of Aquarian Dawn, but i want these places and NPCs to stand on their own merits, and not just for being "weird", so we'll see how that goes.

If you need additional context for Aquarian Dawn, I have the following posts for some of the major species in the setting:

And a couple pieces of prose:

And with that, here's Howlston!


These lists are broken into three overlapping sections, each referring to the other two.

I chose to put NPCs first because I think the personalities and preconceived interpersonal relationships are the main driver of Howlston. Ideally, even without any pre-written modules or adventure seeds, the interpersonal relationships alone should lend themselves to natural emergent narrative within a sandbox adventure.

NPCs: These are NPCs commonly found in or associated with a given region/location.
Locations: Specific points of interest within a region.
Regions: Broad areas that include several locations.

Finally, there are some "spoilers" in this table, so if you're in my current campaign please don't read this. If you're a GM, you may want to mix some things up anyway. 

Palthos the Triton Warlock by u/captdiablo. Not quite an Aquarian, but close enough for a visual reference.


  1. Tetra-El-Voss
    • Aquarian ambassador who has chosen to identify as female for the convenience of humanoids. She has aqua skin with greenish-gold spots and greenish-gold eyes. Her head filament is in the shape of a tight bun haircut, and unlike most Aquarians she dresses in human clothing. She is surprisingly knowledgeable of human language and culture but is still not totally fluent. She tries to be friendly and accommodating but presents in a way that comes off inauthentic.
    • Usual Locations: Aquarian Caravan
  2. Urin'Kal
    • A dwarven engineer working on the surveillance suite project. His appearance is somewhat more humanoid than other mountain dwarves, although he still has a round and inflated appearance. He is also more adapted to thinking like and communicating with other intelligent species; not just humans, but also Aquarians and fey. He is friendly and excitable. He builds tiny warforged servants which he refers to as his babies.
    • Usual Locations: Aquarian Caravan; Lighthouse; Mount Laputa
  3. Quint
    • A goblin engineer working on the surveillance suite project. She has greenish-gold skin and light, wispy, shock-orange hair in the shape of an onion. She rides an "impossible" rocket-powered tricycle. She loves pranks and is a thrill-seeker, but is a bit of a softy and does not take well to criticism. Unerringly loyal to those she cares about, sometimes to their detriment.
    • Usual Locations: Aquarian Caravan; Lighthouse; Fey-Town
  4. Hericlesa Siriwell
    • A renowned artificer from the capital, who is temporarily staying in Howlston to work on the surveillance suite project. She is commonly seen with Lumo, who is partially funding her work, although at night she's more likely to be found at Black Tom's Tavern with Lumo's wife Natrova. She is also "old friends" with Peter Gibson, although it's unclear how exactly they know each other.
    • Usual Locations: Aquarian Caravan; Lighthouse; Black Tom's Tavern
  5. Bet-Don-Tuin
    • Aquarian engineer of the lighthouse. They have a haughty contempt for humanoids and has made no effort to learn the language or customs of humanoids. They are older, with dull green skin and loose, wispy filaments.
    • Usual Locations: Lighthouse; Aquarian Caravan
  6. Ruth Gibson
    • Human mechanic and general groundskeeper of the lighthouse. She is a middle-aged, heavyset woman with short brown hair and a muscular frame belying a history of some sort. She is stern but kind, as demonstrated by how she berates her “no-good” fisherman husband and dotes on her three young children. It is tacitly understood that she is working for one of the Kind Companies with the purpose of reporting on Bet-Don-Tuin and attempting to at least copy, if not reverse engineer his work. Ruth and Peter were elite Huntsman for the empire and are significantly older than they appear. They were involved in the extermination of what they believed was the last domain of the bluecap fey. Horrified by the things they were forced to do, they later ran off to live a simple life in Howl's Village, Ruth's original home long, long ago. 
    • Usual Locations: Lighthouse; Oldtown
  7. Peter Gibson
    • The “no good” fisherman husband of Ruth, an aging and somewhat portly man with a jolly blush to his smile. Has an unusual accent for one of the “original villagers”. He came from another place, long before the Howlston Boom. He really is a sub-par fisherman, but is kind, and generous to a fault, and treated as a pillar of the community among the original villagers. His eyes carry a heavy weight. Ruth and Peter were elite Huntsman for the empire and are significantly older than they appear. They were involved in the extermination of what they believed was the last domain of the bluecap fey. Horrified by the things they were forced to do, they later ran off to live a simple life in Howl's Village. 
    • Usual Locations: Docks; Lighthouse; Oldtown
  8. Gilgamesh
    • A large, muscular middle-aged man, the top of his otherwise shaved hair tied into a knot. He has a raspy voice with an unusual accent. A smooth talker and salesman hocking the finest wares from throughout the empire. He wears a purple and gold vest and carries a silver and gold saber that occasionally glows and sparks.
    • Usual Locations: Fish Market
  9. Gemini Forthright
    • The proprietor of Black Tom’s Tavern, a surprisingly young halfling, known for her competence, cunning, and comeliness. She dresses in a professional looking black leather suit appropriate for business and for getting one’s hands dirty, wears black gloves, and a black top-hat. She wears yellow lenses, the top half of her face is painted in a black that fades down to her cheekbones, marked by many yellow spheres like the eyes of spiders. A large toothy grin is painted across her face. She is an information broker, and as a result is one of the most important people to the Kind Companies. She is also nominally associated with Le Fauves. She does not believe strongly in the philosophy and actions of Le Fauves, so much as that she does not identify with humanoid society. She has learned to work the system in her favor so that she can buy the power necessary to buy freedom. She sees herself as an animal, and wishes for civilization to accept its place as part of the animal kingdom.
    • Usual Locations: Black Tom's Tavern
  10. Cyrus Giancarlo
    • An esper and enforcer for Black Tom’s. He’s large and strong, with a stern face and stubbly shaved head. His skin is slimy and gummy, making it easy for him to grapple and disarm opponents. Additionally, his skin is impervious to piercing. He can still be hurt but has abnormally high durability. Despite his exceptional wrestling skills, he prefers the simple life of an enforcer, with ample free time for hunting and fishing.
    • Usual Locations: Black Tom's Tavern; Docks; Mononoke Forest
  11. Damon Ricci
    • An esper and enforcer for Black Tom’s. A rogueish mystic who appears as a photo-negative of a human. For this reason, he hides his skin behind clothing, black gloves, and a black mask over his entire head. He has the ability to create a field of light distortion around himself, in addition to general magical abilities (61: Photobomb). He has a developed a major gambling problem, and can often be found at the Clover Casino. He thinks Gemini doesn't know about this, and would prefer to keep it that way.
    • Usual Locations: Black Tom's Tavern; Clover Casino
  12. Gylex Hane
    • The owner of Clover Casino, a leprechaun and real-estate tycoon, and the biggest threat to the Kind Companies in regards to dominance and effective ownership of Howlston. Although he puts on a used-car saleseman charm with his customers, he's a cutthroat and a scrooge. He wears a perfectly-fitted red suit and red bicorn hat, and his clothing is laced with the finest luster gold. It is said that he built his empire on the blood of those murdered by the legendary Death Metal Crow and her Mosh. If the rumors are to be believed, he set her up to fail on their last job together, leaving her for dead, and now she is out looking for revenge.
    • Usual Locations: Clover Casino
  13. Jeremiah Blackstone
    • Effectively the mayor and sheriff of Howlston. The Kind Companies have privatized most of Howlston’s new developments, leaving him with frustratingly little power. He’s a small, thin, elder man, but carries himself with a gravitas of leadership. He was among the last generation of monster hunters (at least until they recently started coming back), and there are few deadlier with a bow than he. His bow is a magical artifact from the high age of humanity, an ivory bow that charges its arrows with energy that launch like beams of light, capable of arcing and bouncing, if the wielder knows how to use it. He is strongly opposed to the Aquarians and what has happened to Howl's Village, and seeks to expand Old Town and collaborate with the Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra against outsiders, although he does not approve of the current Hydra Head, Alice Olmstead.
    • Usual Locations: Law Building
  14. Alice Olmstead
    • The Hydra Head of the Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra. She has short red hair (dyed aqua) and large and awkwardly-shaped, egg-like eyes. The temple is nominally associated with the greater pantheon of the empire, but the church is mainly focused on the patron deities of the sea, and few churchgoers besides Alice are even familiar with the broader pantheon. Alice believes that the Aquarians are the gods' chosen people, and sees their arrival as a blessing. Although a new cult is forming around these beliefs, there is also an orthodox resistance to this movement, and the church is at risk of sprouting a new Head.
    • Usual Locations: Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra
  15. Robert Marsh
    • An elder member of the Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra, his wrinkled head, fatty neck, O-shaped mouth, and large pearl-shaped eyes give him the appearance of a canned sardine. He is a former fisherman and firm believer in the orthodoxy, and some believe that he intends to split into a new Hydra Head in the face of Alice Olmstead's Cult of the Aquarians.
    • Usual Locations: Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra
  16. Patrick Russo
    • Captain of a Kind Company, operating out of one of the low to mid-tier offices of the Slum Ruin. His company only has a single apartment for an office, but is respectable and well kept, and the shared enforcers of the Kind Companies on his floor keep the area safe. He wears a brown leather bomber jacket, rounded goggles that cover half his face, and a clean but worn cloth scarf. He prides himself on the number of fey gadgets and trinkets he’s amassed, many of which he keeps in a utility belt around his waist and across his chest, and others that are worn over his clothing. He acts manically and eccentrically, like he’s never satisfied with what’s happening in the moment. He puts on a bold front, but is actually deep in the red with Lumo and desperately trying to claw his way to prominence.
    • Usual Locations: Slum Ruin
  17. Lumo
    • Captain of the Luminose Kind Company on the penthouse top floor of the Slum Ruin. Middle-aged mafia don type who wears expensive but flexible outfits (always ready to scrap) and has a rogueish build. (Power 83 synchrous flow). So long as there is a beat or rhythm, he is a perfect, Ace shot. His crew always includes bards and a musical mage esper. He regularly cheats on his wife Natrova but would be furious if he learned that she is cheating on him.
    • Usual Locations: Slum Ruin
  18. Natrova
    • An attractive, vaguely elven or fey-looking woman in her early 20's with an unusual accent, the wife of Lumo. It's an open secret that Natrova regularly cheats on him, and has struck up a relationship with the renowned artificer Hericlesa, who is temporarily in Howlston working on a secret project for the Aquarian Caravan. She is actually a drow mystic working on behalf of the Machine Goddess, but has tricked a Pride of the Righteous Angry Lemurs into believing she is a lamia elf. She is using Hericlesa and the Lemurs to activate the Whitemare Ziggurat, to summon the Machine Goddess from the Whitemare Dimension.
    • Usual Locations: Slum Ruin; Black Tom's Tavern
  19. San Alemania
    • A field medic and general provider in Slum Park. He has tan skin, dark hair, and a high-born foreign (real-world Spanish) accent. He's attractive and charismatic, but doesn't look like much of a fighter. He is an esper; he has a ghoulish alter-ego which exists only in mirrors, is incredibly powerful, and invulnerable. So long as he is being reflected in a mirror, his real body is also invulnerable, although not supernaturally powerful. He is also a member of the true Le Fauves, and when operating he wears a razzle dazzle outfit of brown, green, and orange, that blends into the crowd and trashfires, giving him near-supernatural stealth. His Le Fauves makeup is like a hyper-exaggerated dandy gone wrong, with yellowing jaundiced skin and running makeup; like an uncanny parody or satire of opulence, like a creepy clown.
    • Usual Locations: Slum Park; Razzle Dazzle Den
  20. Death Metal Crow
    • The largest hob you've ever seen, covered from head to toe in black metal armor; a long, crimson, beak-like visor obscuring her face. She rides a beast thrice the size of a horse, with a scaly gray hide like a metal lizard covered in jewels, and a girthy horn longer than any man. She carries a metal compound bow as long as she is tall, and the metal string screeches and rends on each draw. Her metal bolts pierce the air, shrieking in absolute dissonance with the pounding music of her Death Metal Bards. Two massive blades protrude from both sides of her beast, the metal stained crimson from the fields of meat and blood left in their wake. It is said that at the end of battle, she draws these blades and effortlessly eviscerates every bit of dead meat into a single lump of pinkish pudding. She is a warlord, leading a legion of red, green, and blackcaps, along with her elite Crows and shocktrooper Mosh. She has a long-standing grudge against Gylex Hane.
    • Usual Locations: Eastern Wildlands
  21. Hobb Headhunter
    • A mysterious knight and presumably esper, covered in full body armor. He has become something of an urban legend, known for hunting firbolg war gangs, and other remnants of the Machine Goddess. Few take these threats seriously; up until recently they were thought to have been virtually exterminated. However, the recent rise in firbolg gangs has made the Hobb Headhunter a more prominent figure. He will begrudgingly leave "civilized" hobbs alone. Has an antagonistic relationship with the Death Metal Crow, whom he's not totally convinced isn't part of the Firbolg.
    • Usual Locations: Eastern Wildlands; Elsewhere in Howlston
  22. Golure
    • Grendel elf with bright red skin, fiery orange stripes, covered in burns he received from a starborn cyclops. Part of the Righteous Angry Lemur Pride, often hunts with Celinael and Tanarfin.
    • Usual Locations: Mononoke Forest
  23. Celinael
    • Lamia elf who seems to always be in a breeze. Part of the Righteous Angry Lemur Pride, often hunts with Golure and Tanarfin.
    • Usual Locations: Mononoke Forest
  24. Tanarfin
    • Black-skinned Grendel elf, supernaturally stealthy. Part of the Righteous Angry Lemur Pride, often hunts with Golure and Celinael.
    • Usual Locations: Mononoke Forest
  25. Lessarie
    • A Grendel elf with an uncanny, deer-like face and short antlers. Her quiver is the trumpet of a giant calla lily, and its pollen enchants her arrows with various effects. Part of the Raging August Leopard Pride. She has taken criticism from her pride for being overly cooperative with the humans / Aquarian colonization project. She sees any conflict as an inevitable loss for the Leopards, and so wishes to position the pride as best as possible through diplomatic means.
    • Usual Locations: Mononoke Forest; Kind Company Camp
  26. Debbie
    • A daemon, a cyborg creature containing djinn energy, subservient to the Machine Goddess. Her body is covered in open wounds seeping a dark grease. Her mouth is covered by some sort of breathing apparatus, giving her the appearance of a wide grin. She has a long spiked tail. A series of rotating fan blades dance around her in a repeating pattern. The fans each contain organic tissue with a mouth. She is oblivious to mortal concerns, but has a friendly / HR-like demeanor. She tends to make 20th and 21st century, real-world pop-culture references, specifically pertaining to robots and AI. If the Whitemare Ziggurat is freed from the Machine Goddess, she would likely serve the new owners. However, she may also try to trick them into freeing her.
    • Usual Locations: Whitemare Ziggurat
  27. Woody
    • An esper and former Huntsman for one of the Kind Companies working on the Aquarian Colonization Project who deserted. He was running an illegal drug trade as a side business, but fell in love with the dwarven mountainside and dwarven way of life. He is in his early 30's, has medium-length black greasy hair in a ponytial, and wears round blue-tinted sunglasses. His esper power is to see six seconds into the future. He also has three magical dog companions known as the War Dogs.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  28. Keelut
    • A hairless Siberian Husky with an odd foulness about him. He's actually an undead ghoul-dog.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  29. Bul-Gae
    • A maroon Jindo with an aura like sunset. He has a determined personality. He also has natural fire and lightning magics.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  30. Cu-Sith
    • Bull-sized, shaggy dark green fur, coiled tail, and a soul-chilling howl. She is the alpha of the pack, is motherly, and protective. She rescued Keelut from the realm of the dead.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  31. Coca'Cola
    • A dwarf who is clumsy and perennially sick, leading to her damaging her saiga suit and regenerating it so slowly, that she is often found in humanoid form. She is an oneironaught; a dream explorer, meaning she's a genius philosopher and mathemtician. She speaks in a poetic code, a hash function for a geo-spatial map; to communicate with her one must simulate, must imagine the space from the graph theory model her language is encoded in. She prefers to go by the shortened name Cola. In dwarven society, where individuality is valued, referring to someone by their surname is seen as a term of diminution but also endearment. She is seen as the spacey "problem child" in her family, and so the name stuck.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  32. Pepsi'Cola
    • A well-meaning, practical-minded dwarf blacksmith, and the brother of Coca'Cola. He is somewhat embarrassed by his sister, who he does not really understand. He has a simple worldview.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
  33. Arsee'Cola
    • The village elder of Blue Candlelight Village and father of Coca'Cola and Pepsi'Cola. He is proud of his daughter in his own way, understanding her on some level, but he has a much stronger relationship with his son, who is a more practical-minded person.
    • Usual Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
Land of Giants by Desmond Wong. A bit too big and not aquatic looking enough, but roughly a visual reference for the Aquarian Caravan.


  1. Aquarian Caravan
    • Opulent district, consisting primarily of mobile coral-like structures on the backs of large crustaceans, turtles, and amphibians. 
    • Region: Coast
    • NPCs: Tetra-El-Voss; Urin'Kal; Quint; Hericlesa Siriwell
  2. Lighthouse
    • A large building made of smooth marble, a wonder from the High Age. It’s believed to have been used to signal ships from across the ocean, before that knowledge was lost. The Aquarians recently restored its functionality by placing a large magic pearl at the top. It has become a local attraction, and a useful tool for the caravan.
    • Region: Coast
    • NPCs: Bet-Don-Tuin; Hericlesa Siriwell; Ruth Gibson; Peter Gibson
  3. Dock and Fish Market
    • A once quiet area where local fisherman would head out on their small ships to fish nearby waters. As Howlston has grown, the “fish market” has become a hustling bazaar of oddities from throughout the world.
    • Region: Coast
    • NPCs: Gilgamesh; Peter Gibson
  4. Black Tom's Tavern
    • The first and so far, exclusive luxury inn on the coast. In addition to the finest food, drink, lodging, and entertainment, it is also the den of business and politics. It is a large building, painted entirely black, with black gargoyle-like sculptures at the corners.
    • Region: Entertainment District
    • NPCs: Gemini Forthright; Cyrus Giancarlo; Damon Ricci; Hericlesa Siriwell
  5. Clover Casino
    • Part of the burgeoning Fey-Town neighborhood of the entertainment district. The casino is a small but flashy house of cards, dice, game machines, and other mechanical contraptions. The building has mechanical arms and other constructor machines operating on top of it, giving the casino the appearance of being alive. They recently opened an amphitheater, and are constructing an inn, which would make the casino larger than Black Tom's and put the two in direct competition.
    • Region: Entertainment District / Fey-Town
    • NPCs: Gylex Hane; Quint; Hobb Headhunter
  6. Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra
    • Perhaps the nicest and largest building in Oldtown, a steepled church with aquatic colored stained glass depicting the patron gods of the local religion.
    • Region: Oldtown
    • NPCs: Alice Olmstead; Robert Marsh
  7. Law building and jail
    • A small, unassuming building, that contains the courthouse (as it were), jail, Jeremiah's office, and a general reception area.
    • Region: Oldtown
    • NPCs: Jeremiah Blackstone
  8. Slum Park
    • Hooverville-style overcrowded slum of makeshift housing.
    • Region: Slums
    • NPCs: San Alemania
  9. Slum Ruin
    • A large brutalist ruin in the middle of slum park. The lower levels are slum housing, the higher levels are Kind Company offices.
    • Region: Slums
    • NPCs: Patrick Russo, Lumo
  10. Razzle Dazzle Den (aka Den of the Wild Beasts)
    • It is rumored that a secret underworld exists within the slums, a pattern enmeshed within the tents and makeshift buildings of Slum Park. Graffiti, like bunches of dots or cubes or other simple geometric shapes, interrupting and intersecting stripes of contrasting colors, all designed to give the illusion of densely packed spaces, where from within the true Le Fauves gang operate.
    • Region: Slums
    • NPCs: San Alemania
  11. Kind Company Camp
    • The main camp managed by the Kind Companies for the Aquarian colonization project. Located in the northeasternmost region of Mononoke Forest that has been colonized, one of the furthest points along the current length of the road. Has the bare essentials but little else. Must be associated with a Kind Company, and willing to pay, in order to enter. The golden rule is no in-fighting among Kind Companies within the camp.
    • Region: Mononoke Forest
    • NPCs: 
  12. Whitemare Ziggurat
    • A fractal pocket-dimension embedded within an unassuming cabin. A secret base of the Dark Lord Athena, the Machine Goddess, who appears to have returned. If the ziggurat is removed of her forces, Debbie may assist the new owners as a subservient daemon or free djinn, depending on the circumstances.
    • Region: Mononoke Forest
    • NPCs: Debbie
  13. Blue Candlelight Village
    • A dwarven village nestled within unevan terrain, partway up Mount Laputa. It is known for its vision-inducing Withered Mallow Flowers, hot spring, stilt-legged huts, and the Singing Bard Tavern. Within the village are a handful of metal sculptures of ancient humanoid dwarves which contain bluecap fey magic. The town smells of potpourri, devil-water, and burning pig feces, and at night has a pastel glow.
    • Region: Mount Laputa
    • NPCs: Woody and the War Dogs, The Cola Family
Fairy Market (Stardust) by Charles Vess. A visual reference for the Fish Market or Entertainment District of Howlston.


  1. Coast
    • Beautiful, increasingly over-developed. High concentration of ruins and ancient wonders.
    • Locations: Aquarian Caravan; Lighthouse; Dock and Fish Market
    • NPCs: Tetra-El-Voss; Bet-Don-Tuin; Hericlesa Siriwell; Ruth Gibson; Peter Gibson; Gilgamesh; Urin'Kal; Quint
  2. Entertainment District
    • Between the coast and the town. Has developed to accommodate the new traffic in Howlston.
    • Locations: Black Tom's Tavern; Clover Casino
    • NPCs: Gemini Forthright; Cyrus Giancarlo; Damon Ricci; Gylex Hane; Quint; Hericlesa Siriwell
  3. Fey-Town
    • A burgeoning neighborhood, technically within the entertainment district, centered around Clover Casino.
    • Locations: Clover Casino
    • NPCs: Gylex Hane; Quint; Hobb Headhunter
  4. Oldtown
    • The original village center.
    • Locations: Law building and jail; Temple of Father Dagon and Mother Hydra
    • NPCs: Jeremiah Blackstone; Alice Olmstead; Robert Marsh
  5. Slums
    • Hooverville-style campgrounds, full of crime. Massive brutalist ruin in the center has been re-purposed into slum housing (lower floors) and Kind Company offices (higher floors).
    • Locations: Slum Park; Slum Ruin; Razzle Dazzle Den
    • NPCs: Patrick Russo; Lumo; San Alemania
  6. Eastern Wildlands
    • Mostly flat or hilly planes east of Howlston. Treacherous for the Firbolg gangs, human gangs that did not become Kind Companies, and increasing numbers of monsters.
    • Locations: 
    • NPCs: Death Metal Crow; Hobb Headhunter
  7. Mononoke Forest
    • The forest of the elves, where the Kind Companies are developing roads for the Aquarian colonization project towards Mount Laputa.
    • Locations: Kind Company Camp; Whitemare Ziggurat (appears as a cabin)
    • NPCs: Golure; Celinael; Tanarfin; Lessarie; Debbie
  8. Mount Laputa
    • Home of the mountain dwarves and duergar, the destination of the Aquarian colonization project. A large and dangerous hollowed out mountain, known for Withered Mallow Flowers and other flowers and herbs that grow on its surface.
    • Locations: Blue Candlelight Village
    • NPCs: Urin'Kal, Woody and the War Dogs, The Cola Family