Sunday, September 30, 2018

Antikythera Nova Pt. 3: Technology

This is the third and final post in my series of micro-setting posts about my Antikythera Nova scifi setting. Part 1 is about the premise and history, and part 2 about the factions.


Gaussian propulsion: Many forms of combustion-based propulsion, in terms of vehicles and weaponry, have been replaced by electromagnetic accelerators. During the journey of the Malik Tous, and still on many of the less terraformed planets, spaceships, space stations, and orbital colonies, combustion is an extreme risk. Furthermore, Gaussian weaponry can be fired at a higher velocity, at a higher frequency, and silently.

Smart rockets: While not replacing ballistics altogether, many fire arms now use smart rockets. While lower-velocity than ballistic weapons, smart rocket bullets can be used defensively, deflecting incoming projectiles, and can smartly lock-on to targets and navigate environments. Most have limited range if used non-ballistically, but they can also be equipped with various sensors, making them useful for local environment scanning or data collection.

Plasma and laser: Plasma tech consists of balls of energy, whereas lasers are any continuous beam of light within a focused bandwidth. These technologies are used as weaponry, as well as to transmit information.

Power armor: Traditional space suits have developed to the point of being light and comfortable, however many jobs in space require power armor. In particular, the space marines have various power armors which provide enhanced strength and speed, weapon and reflex assistance, jetpacks, augmented reality, and various other useful features.

Nanotube plate armor: The Gabor have developed an armor made of some kind of matte, carbon-like material filled with nanotubes of a possibly organic nature, or modeled after organic materials. The armor is tougher, and significantly lighter, than any power armor, and neither the KFP nor HLC have been able to reverse engineer it.

Cintamani and the Makara: Cintamani is a high-energy gem found throughout the Pickman Galaxy. Longterm exposure to cintamani induces a mutation in some humans, who are referred to as Makara. In the early stages of the mutation, they grow patches of cintamani gems or crystalline skin. Next, they develop enhanced speed, strength, agility, and dexterity, and the ability to traverse space unprotected. Eventually, they begin to develop psionic abilities not unlike the Gabor. However, over time they become increasingly crystalline, and what little organic material remains becomes bestial; an alien form with vague mammalian, reptilian, and aquatic features, but mostly altogether alien. These Makara lose their human intelligence, lash out violently at anything around them, and attempt to flee into space if threatened.
This risk aside, both the KFP and HLC have a supersoldier program for makara, including makara training and research. This research includes creating makara under controlled circumstances- a politically divisive practice. In the KFP, the general public is not aware of this cintamani-related mutation, and even among military personnel, if they know of the makara at all, they know of then only as part of a supersoldier program.


On an unrelated note, if you have not done so already (and given how little data I have, I suspect you have not >.>), please take my Weird & Wonderful Survey! It should only take a minute, it will really help me, and also I want to show people how much fun it can be to play with data, but I can't do it if I don't have any!

Likewise, please participate in my GNS study! This is a somewhat controversial topic and I've received a lot of resistance on it. All I can say is that if my study is somehow fundamentally flawed, then either I won't find anything, or what I find will require a degree of healthy skepticism, but it is possible I may find interesting effects or interesting trends in the data, which could inform our understanding of GNS or tabletop or inform better follow up studies, but the only way any of that happens is if I get data! There is literally no harm in participating, so if you value empirical science at all, why not just take a minute and let's see what the data have to say!?

Danscape (Partial) Play Report 9/28/18

Finally my schedule allowed that I could play again in Dan's Danscape Campaign! I don't need to provide a full account because I'm sure Dan will at some point, I'll just say a few pieces from my perspective.

  1. As per usual, Dan was awesome! I also got to play with some people I've never been able to play with before so that was a lot of fun!
  2. I was not feeling too great and wasn't able to get into the right head space. I had some moments where I felt like I was really in Rob's head but on the whole I don't think I was RPing to the standard I hold myself to, which was super frustrating. It doesn't help that my connection was shit and I would occasionally just not hear anything for like 60 seconds. At least I was rolling like a boss, which was a ton of fun!
  3. Here is a choice quote that we didn't actually do (although what we actually did ended up being just as or more exciting) but might give you a sense of what can happen in a Danscape game.
What if lantern boy just sits in the 'weird' chair? Just sits and stairs at him. Knowingly. Just sits there, as time passes. Each moment, Osric wonders, why? He contemplates the meaning of life. Why are we fighting? Why is she sitting in the chair? Why is the chair so weird? Why is chair? Is chair life? Is there anything besides chair? Chair is all. Chair is life.

On an unrelated note, if you have not done so already (and given how little data I have, I suspect you have not >.>), please take my Weird & Wonderful Survey! It should only take a minute, it will really help me, and also I want to show people how much fun it can be to play with data, but I can't do it if I don't have any!

Likewise, please participate in my GNS study! There was a lot of controversy around this study, which is understandable but still frustrating. I wish people would participate, even if they fundamentally disagree with GNS or think I don't know what I'm doing (which quite frankly is super insulting as someone who does this stuff professionally and coming from people who seem intelligent enough but clearly don't have a background in research design or statistics, even if the comments are not intentionally malicious, but that's neither here nor there). The survey only takes a minute, it's anonymous so no one will judge you based on your responses if you think the survey doesn't effectively capture your unique and nuanced view, if I'm wrong I'm wrong and no harm is done, or even if I do find interesting effects or trends in the data, it's not the end all be all on the topic and likewise no harm is done, so why not just try it so we can see what happens!? It actually legitimately makes me existentially sad that data science does not seem to be practiced or appreciated in our community, so why not participate just to make me less sad :), even if you don't believe anything I have to say about it?

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

An empirical approach to studying GNS

GNS is a theory about tabletop RPGs, and while many people have discussed it in great detail, to the best of my knowledge there has been no attempt to test any aspect of GNS empirically. In order to test the predictive utility of GNS, I have designed the following study. I am primarily looking for a sample that is already aware of GNS, has a broad range of tabletop RPG knowledge and experience, and is active in this or other tabletop RPG communities.

The research topic of the following study is about the (empirical/statistical) predictive utility of GNS. This is a separate question from whether GNS is a valid framework to think of tabletop RPGs from a critical theory or game design perspective per se. At this stage, my hypotheses are the following:
  1. Are certain RPGs reliably labeled as G, N, or S?
  2. Do people's stated preferences for G, N, or S-style games predict their preferences for specific games, assuming we do find an effect in hypothesis 1?
I want to avoid discussing my personal opinions / expectations in order to avoid biasing the study. If I collect enough data to do meaningful analyses, I will report my results in proper APA format and discuss how I analyzed the data and provide interpretations of the results. I'm aiming for planned analyses, but I may do some exploratory analyses as well.

At the risk of sounding adversarial, I have zero interest in getting into a debate. If you think there are serious issues with the design and have suggestions for how to fix them, I can attempt to do so in a followup study. When I report the results, if you have criticisms of how I ran my analyses or how I'm interpreting my results and have suggestions for how to fix them, we can discuss that at that time. If your comment is needlessly confrontational, does not include a suggestion for a practical solution in terms of research methods or experimental design, or is not relevant to the stated research topic or hypotheses (e.g. it's about critical theory or game design per se), I will likely ignore you.

With all of that being said, here is a link to the survey!

Also, I would really appreciate it if people would check out my blog and fill out this survey for my blog as well!

Tuesday, September 25, 2018


This is the third session in what I'm calling the SHIELDBREAKER campaign, set in my Phantasmos campaign setting.


·       Jim CasperTartarian-Mutant Specialist. Working in a storehouse in the tartarian kingdom, he learned about a mysterious martial cult, and has since been attempting to learn more about it. Has a mutation, a slit on his body which must be fed ancient artifacts.
          -- Player: z_bill

Kail: Mimic Knight (Fighter). Kail is a humanoid mutant, almost painfully bland with his stone-grey skin and coal black eyes. He actually sought out the shoglite parasite in order to feel special, and the change produced a sense of wanderlust in him. Now a mimic knight, he acts like a young astral Jack Kerouac, hitching his way around the cosmos/setting. He seeks out different ways to express himself to new people in new situations.
    -- Player: David Horowitz

Play Report

  • After defeating Asimov Dengo last session, the party headed towards Occulon's industrial complex. As one might expect from that crazy bastard, he overworks his employees, who cannot stop for even a second to talk. They needed to talk to Occulon, but he was locked away in his office and could not be bothered. Zeffre contacted them from the mesmerist network, asking them to retrieve a secret document, which glowed faintly in only their vision. The glow was coming from Occulon's office.
  • They created a Rube Goldbergian-level disaster on the assembly line and not-so-subtly blamed it on the nearby worker Toddward, who went into a panic. Security (Occulon's mafia thugs) and an aquorum security drone came to take him away.
  • The players used this as an opportunity to incite a riot, prompting Occulon to come out. In the panic, Occulon decided to kill indiscriminately, using his hard-light projections to mow down unruly workers. 
  • They investigated the office, finding both the document for Occulon (encrypted) and the second partial decryption of the SHIELD's location.
  • As the Doomsday Clock ticked closer to midnight, they learned from Arnold Tanaka that Terry and Barry were attacking The Forum and that they would be compensated by the overworked police if they took care of it.

  • They headed there, and found that while Terry was Punisher-ing the Forum, Barry was in his blue-phase, crying in the corner. Barry is not the brightest, and after conversing with him, they reminded him of childhood trauma, having no friends in school, and convinced him that Terry was just using him. He transformed into his red-phase and brutally pummeled Terry to death, tearing off his foldy flaps, then turned himself in to the police.
  • The document that Terry was trying to steal showed that both Barry and Terry were former patients of Doctor Hyborea, prior to release, and after committing further crimes, were then taken to prison.
  • Terry had also attempted to steal a corkscrew-shaped astrium looking glass. With this glass, the party would be able to enter the asylum on the astral plane while maintaining their "object" forms, which would be useful against the insane Doctor Hyborea.
  • Before heading back to Doctor Hyborea's mansion, they decided to check out the Grand Stable, based on information from the partial decryptions. Mr. Myce, the head of the Grand Stable network, was not available, but they conversed with the attendants at the nearby station. One attendant was a red-skinned naked mole-rat with hands like the nose of a star-nosed mole, and the other was a tiny grasshopper able to rub his appendages together to produce muzak. 
  • Through a pneumatic tube system across the Grand Stable network, they received a message from Mr. Myce that he was in communication with Arnold, and that they should come back when they have the full decryption. In the mean time, he provided them with tunneling gauntlets and two mirrors which reflect the light of each other.

  • They also took a detour to Zeffre's secret base. She informed them that the document they stole for her from Occulon was for a planned coup against her father, the Grim General. After some discussion, she convinced the party that her intentions were (reasonably) noble, and she now "owes them a favor".

  • On the way to Doctor Hyborea's mansion, they encountered a magi-SLIME with a wall of ice spell. After defeating it, they tracked it back to a cave containing several dead magi-SLIME and were able to recover two unidentified spells from their meridian cores.
  • They broke into Doctor Hyborea's mansion, and once in his proximity, used the astrium looking glass to transport to the asylum on the astral plane. 
  • Doctor Hyborea murdered the inmates, their “dead spaces” and his fractured mind filled the asylum with broken edges, gore, and various psychopathic entities. 
  • "Psychopathic" both in the sense of being psychic entities and being insane...
  • They encountered three entities. The descriptions were pulled from this table by u/semiurge on reddit, and I would encourage people to check out his work!
  • Arrogance: A toad standing on its hind legs, wearing fine raiments. It is haughty, abhors contractions, and enunciates with infuriating precision.
  • Misanthrope: A crawling tide of vermin, constantly devouring each other and rapidly breeding more. Speaks in a shrieking chorus.
  • Self-Loathing: A worm made of rusted and bloody weapons. Speaks with grinding steel.
  • Over a series of awkward, creepy, and Wonderland-esque conversations that I really wish I had recorded, the party made each of these three psychopathic entities confront their personal flaws and kill themselves.
  • In doing so, they returned Doctor Hyborea to sanity. Before leaving the asylum, they met two new psychopathic entities:
  • Honesty: Like a kind, fat old grandma; ugly on the outside, but warm and sweet on the inside.
  • Responsibility: Like a frazzled single-mom working three jobs to take care of her kids. Doesn't take crap, off-putting at first, but only because she is working so hard to do what needs to be done.
  • After leaving the asylum, the now (mostly) sane Doctor Hyborea gave the party the last partial decryption of the SHIELD's location, which seems to be somewhere deep in the labyrinthine Grand Stable network. 

And that's where we're leaving off, with what will hopefully be a fun dungeon crawl leading up to the conclusion of the SHIELDBREAKER campaign! I don't even need to do a "Breakdown", this was an awesome session and has me super excited for next time! I only wish I had recorded it because I think there was some really good stuff and I have a terrible memory for details, so I think I'm washing over some of the best parts :/.

Sunday, September 23, 2018

Phantasmos/SHIELDBREAKER NPC Reference Sheet (I made a thing!)

To help my SHIELDBREAKER players (or anyone who wants to use Phantasmos), I've made some Magic the Gathering-style cards for some of the NPCs. Since I haven't had as much time as I would have liked to do this, I've only done a handful of NPCs that my players have encountered, are relevant to the plot and setting overall, or that will be relevant for the upcoming session. One of them they haven't encountered yet but I think it's likely they will so I'm including it. I'll try to update this in the future to include NPCs they already encountered or future NPCs.

I generally hate doing stuff like this, in part because it's cumbersome and I have no artistic skills, but also because I have these very particular ideas in my head of what these characters look like and they don't look like these things, but if it'll help other people then I'll do it :p.

Also, if you're reading this and it is still September or October 2018, please take my survey!

Click here for the Session 1 Play Report!
Click here for the Session 2 Play Report!
Click here for the Session 3 Play Report!
Click here for the Session 4 Play Report!
Click here for the Session 5 Play Report! (Final session of SHIELDBREAKER)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Weird & Wonderful Survey September 2018

As a cognitive neuroscientist and data analyst, I like to take an empirical approach to decision making. I want to understand how people feel about and engage with my blog, both for the sheer curiosity of it, but also so that I can make the blog better, in a systematic way.

The survey should only take a few minutes, and it will help me make the blog better, so I would appreciate it if people could participate.


Click here to take survey

High Level Games: 5 Ways To Make Fantasy Worlds Fantastical Again

I recently started writing for High Level Games, I'm aiming for one article a month there. They're a cool bunch who provide each other writing advice, and I think being accountable to other people will encourage me to be a better writer. Whereas my blog is generally more about my personal ideas, my posts there will be more about general thoughts and advice in the form of listicles. This blog post is my advice for how to make a fantasy setting fantastical. It culminates in a one-paragraph micro-setting that's probably tighter and more broadly appealing than any of the micro-settings I've posted yet on here :p. Give it a look!

5 Ways to Make Fantasy Worlds Fantastical Again

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Antikythera Nova Pt. 2: Factions

This is the second part of my Antikythera Nova setting (first part here). I'm still not totally satisfied with my writing on that first post, but hopefully it's coherent and engaging enough to keep you reading (and if not, LET ME KNOW!). This post is about the various factions I discussed in part 1, in greater detail. I designed this setting from the perspective that most games in this setting would have players as humans from the KFP, but from a scifi/worldbuilding perspective I think the aliens are really cool, if I do say so myself :). I aim to complete this micro-setting in one more post which will discuss some of the technologies that either provide flavor to the setting or are core to it.


Kaddai Federation of Planets (KFP): The history of the KFP extends as far back as the dark age of the Malik Tous. They have spacefaring and spacefighting technologies, advanced (although not post-singularity) computational power, and the ability to terraform planets. Very few communities within the KFP still directly identify with their Earth origins, although the most prominent cultures maintain elements of 21st-century African, Arabic and Semitic, and Southeast Asian cultures. The racial characteristics of humans in the KFP vary and do not conform precisely to 20th and 21st century conceptions of race.

  • One of the larger ethnic minorities are the Häksen, who are closer in appearance and heritage to Central Asian, Slavic, and Scandinavian peoples. During the dark age of the Malik Toas they were enslaved and cannibalized, and they are often scapegoated or stigmatized even in the present.

Hun-Long Confederation (HLC): The HLC split from the KFP shortly after the Malik Tous reached the Antikythera Sector, although their origins are rooted in several ethnic minorities which formed during the dark age of the Malik Toas. It is rumored that the HLC has integrated other factions of humanity which had split from the Malik Tous at one or more points during its journey. In over a century and a half since the HLC split, the KFP and HLC have communicated only to the bare minimum extent, and so there is much that is currently unknown about the HLC people and way of life. Technologically, they appear roughly at parity with the KFP.

Gabor: An alien species with smooth metallic blue skin, long gazelle-like hind legs, lean and muscular upper bodies, three long finger-like tentacles on each hand, and a slightly hunched forward stance. Their heads are round and featureless, semi-translucent, with a glowing brain-like organ floating in fluid inside their skull. On top of their heads are two medium-length horns, curved forward, which glow when channeling psionic energy. The light from their brain-like organ is an indescribable color, and this light seems to be something non-electromagnetic in nature, although it shares similar (although not identical) physical properties to electromagnetism. The light, often referred to as psionic energy, can be used to transmit information through a psionic network, transmit matter at faster than light speeds, and produce psychokinetic energy, among other abilities. Each psionic organ is like a fusion reactor in terms of energy production, however the death of a Gabor or the destruction of a psionic organ does not cause an atomic explosion or the dispersion of deadly radiation.

Given that the Gabor have only recently begun to interact with humans, and mostly on hostile terms, little is known about their civilization and way of life. Communication has proven difficult since Gabor and human physiology and psychology are so fundamentally different, but thus far the use of mathematics, specifically signal processing, has proven the most effective means of communication.

The versatility of their psionic abilities gives the impression of scientific advancement, but in fact, prior to interaction with the human factions, Gabor science was comparatively primitive, as they did not require technology to thrive in the way that humanity does. Their abilities gave them a major advantage against the human factions early in the war, but the systematic application of scientific and statistical methods by the human factions has rapidly closed this gap, and now the Gabor are attempting to learn from humanity.

The Singularities: Even more so than the Gabor, the Singularities is incomprehensible to humanity. Only the symbiotic transhumans who coexist with it can meaningfully communicate with it, or between it and the other factions. It has converted most of the matter on Earth and in the Solar System into sub-nanomachine "gray goo"; a pure computational space. In such a space where matter can take any form and information can be perfectly replicated, compressed, distributed, or processed, the distinction between physical and virtual/augmented reality becomes arbitrary. This surreal reality is the Singularities.

With great power, comes great expense. The exact goals of the Singularities are not understood, but it seems to be folding spacetime and penetrating other dimensions or even other universes beyond human comprehension. Maintaining the gray goo and performing these computations is enormously expensive, and so it uses its less resource-demanding transhuman symbiotes as heralds, scouting for energy-rich worlds, particularly those containing cintammani minerals such as the Gabor worlds, to convert and integrate into itself.

It is capable of manifesting approximations of eldritch beings from other dimensions within the gray goo, although the true form of these beings seemingly cannot exist within spacetime as we understand it. It is unclear whether it is binding these creatures to its will, or if the singularities has itself become an eldritch being, and is merely coordinating with its peers across meta-spacetime.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

"Traditional" Fantasy Anathema

These are 20 races, classes, or other concepts that would be considered anathema in many traditional fantasy settings. Either these can be ways to subvert genre expectations in your world by making them non-anathema, or alternatively, the fact that they are anathema could make them plot points unto themselves. Some of these, such as the cults of the xenopantheons, could probably be a whole table unto themselves.

Anathema (1d20)Description
1. Chaos MonksThey have the martial technique and spiritual abilities of a monk but the bloodlust of a barbarian. They believe in cosmic balance, but unlike other monks, they believe that the world has become so imbalanced, that acting with rage and ruthlessness is necessary to restore equilibrium.
2. Green ElvesA forest-dwelling tribe of cross-bred orcs and elves. They are nearly as large and muscular as half-orcs, with short tusks, green skin, and black hair. They have pointed ears, a lean frame, and an androgynous attractiveness.
3. Objectivist Paladins (God-Killers)The closest mortals can come to the divine is to seek it from within themselves. To submit to a god or messiah is cowardly, weak, and will ultimately prove fruitless.
4. Nihilist ClericsThey believe the physical world is futile and reject both materialism and any divinity which acknowledges mortals. Their gods are eldritch and indifferent. They wish to enact an omni-suicide ritual. The ritual can only be accomplished by bringing peace and prosperity to the world; only when all have the luxury of contemplating their metaphysical futility will the ritual be possible.
5. Divine LichesMortals chosen by their gods to serve as their avatars. Their god serves as their phylactory, storing their soul within them, or within a relic. Their bodies degrade over time not due to mortality, but due to the metaphysical strain on their physical form. They undergo uncanny, divine mutations in the image of their god.
6. Geas AttorneysThose practiced in arcane and devilry law. They find legal loopholes to break geasa and other deals with devils, and bind devils through these pacts. They are occasionally "requested" to serve as public defenders in purgatory.
7. Soul DeadOn the verge of natural disaster, an ancient, enlightened civilization enclosed itself, committed mass ritual suicide, and raised themselves as undead. Over the ages, like monkeys with a typewriter, these undead eventually developed new souls and regained their lost knowledge, reopening themselves to the world.
8. Life GolemsA holy word is willingly imprinted on an individual, sacrificing their soul to host the word. They gain powerful supernatural abilities in relation to the word, but their personality is altered, and they are no longer capable of learning, growing, or in any way changing as conscientious individuals.
9. NamuhAn uncanny-looking humanoid species. Their facial features are just a little too big, or small, or out of place. Their body proportions are slightly off. Their expressions and body language, and their thoughts and emotions are different from and opaque to other mortals. They were created by a different god or pantheon than the other mortals, and laws of divinity apply differently to them.
10. Cults of the XenopantheonsThey see themselves as the adopted children of alien gods, creators of other life from other worlds. The powers they derive from their pantheon are divine, not occult, but alien and uncanny, and of a fundamentally different ethical and metaphysical sort than our own.
11. Church of the Third DimensionIt is traditionally held that ethics exists along two dimensions; structure (chaos to law) and valence (evil to good). However, some believe in a third ethical dimension, attachment, along which are the beliefs of upadana (passion), wu wei (non-action), and wu nian (non-thought).
12. Ex-ChannelerHoly people who make a deep personal sacrifice; while channeling their divinity, their skulls are opened and their pineal gland lesioned. They will never again channel their divinity or receive any kind of holy reward, but they disrupt any other divinity or divine channel in their presence, no matter how powerful.
13. Apocryphal ProselytiserIn a world where the divine are present, some still choose to believe in lost gods. Often merely charismatic charlatans, a rare few proselytisers have found a genuine holy book or relic of a lost god, and gain access to the lost powers of the divinity.
14. Druid, Locus of the Dam (Naacal)Those who, rather than serving nature, attempt to master it for the benefit of society. They use magics and technologies to manipulate nature. They are architects and carpenters. They control machines, aberrants, and undead as readily as nature. They are neither divine nor arcane and they reject ethical absolutism. Whereas druids believe in the inherent goodness of nature, the naacal believe in the inherent goodness of society.
15. CriticsOft-reviled, they are not creators, and they do not draw inspiration from the spirit. They refine. Although often accused of arrogance or ignorance, adventuring parties with critics are smarter, wiser, more versatile, and less complacent. Their parties defy the expectations of linear progression, challenging themselves and each other.
16. AdvocatesLike the Fool, traditionally their job is to serve for, and at the expense of, a king or noble. They dress provocatively and profanely (with tacit admission by the Church), always arguing against the ruler or against the common wisdom. They are brilliant, masters of argument, logic, and abstract or atypical thinking.
17. Barbarians, Path of the PedagogueAn unusual sect of barbarians who channel their rage towards argumentation. They are formidable logicians in their own right, but are often accused of over-reliance on pedagogy and arguments of pathos, verbal intimidation, or trolling. Nonetheless, they consistently out-perform other disciplines at swaying the opinion of the masses.
18. PolimancersPoliticians, those with "presence" (such as sorcerers), propagandists, saboteurs. However information is disseminated, they undermine it. Through charm and social engineering, illusions, psychological or psychic tactics, in rare cases altering reality itself, they undermine facts even in the face of concrete evidence.
19. Risen DevilsIt is easy to fall, but difficult to rise. As such, risen devils are rare, but are often the wisest and most powerful of the divine. Either they represent the concept of change, growth, and self-actualization, or they defy the notion of gods as abstractions for mortal concepts altogether.
20. AbsurdivinityAn ever-changing, uncanny being; disgusting, pitiable, uncomfortable, the way people look at the homeless. A divine argument against the notion of any fairness, order, or reason in the universe. In its presence, one is forced to confront that often good things happen to bad people and bad people win and that good and bad are irrelevant. The other gods are false, there is no afterlife, it's all a mass-delusion, a childish play-pretend power fantasy. In its presence, characters break the 4th wall and players must confront their own personal doubts and flaws.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

Discussion: D&D Alignment and the Attachment Dimension

I'm working on a new "traditional" fantasy table, and I don't think it'll be ready for a while unless I find a vein of inspiration, but I wanted to share one of the ideas for that table now and also ask for peoples thoughts on it.

This specific idea is about the D&D alignment system. As a matter of principle, I hate the very concept of the alignment system, and more specifically how it is reductionist, leads to lazy worldbuilding and character-building, and how it devolves into things like "lawful stupid" (lawful good) or "backstabbing murder hobo" (chaotic evil). That being said, I love playing with and thinking about ethical and metaphysical concepts from Eastern religions like Hinduism, Buddhism, and Taoism, or games that utilize these philosophies in interesting ways such as Tenra Bansho Zero.

I should state that I am hardly an expert on Eastern philosophy or religion. I've taken some classes and read some books here and there but don't claim to be perfectly representing these belief systems. If people think I am so fundamentally misrepresenting these belief systems as to be offensive, I can change the language or in some other way dissociate this from them, but hopefully if nothing else it can be appreciated just as a reflection of some of my own thoughts.

With that disclaimer out of the way, here is my attempt at adding a "third dimension" to the D&D alignment system. 

Attachment: This dimension concerns the extent to which one engages with the material world and with ones own thoughts. The three categories along this dimension are upadana (passion), wu wei (non-action / neutral), and wu nian (non-thought). 

Upadana: Passionate, motivated by events from ones past or the current state of the world. Focused on unresolved personal conflicts. A desire to tangibly affect the world, or be remembered during ones life or after ones death. 

Wu Wei: The belief that there is a way of the world (tao), and whether evil or good, chaotic or lawful, that this way is as it should be. As such, one should refrain from acting upon ones personal motivations and desires. This is not to say that one cannot act at all, or have any personal beliefs, nor is it to say that one should champion the status quo. Change itself can be part of the way, and one may act in a manner consistent with the way of the world, as they understand it.

Wu Nian: Intrinsic to the nature of the material world is suffering, and therefore wu wei is to accept and tacitly engage with this broken system. However, upadana is also not the solution, as passion only fuels more passion, unwittingly entrenching oneself deeper in suffering. Instead, one must detach from the material world itself, and to do so, one must necessarily detach from ones own thoughts and desires.

Given that this is already in greater detail than what will go into the brief entry on the table I'm working on, I have not yet thought about all of the alignment permutations with the other two dimensions, and honestly I don't have much interest in doing so since as I've already said I don't like the alignment system in the first place. If people have ideas for these permutations though, I would certainly be interested in hearing them! However, I'm mainly interested in people's thoughts on this ethical dimension itself.

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Vortekka One-Shot Play Report / Adventure Module Outline

While my home group has unfortunately not been able to meet in months, my roommate and I had some friends visiting from out of town and we got to run a one-shot with them! I GMed the game, set in my Vortekka micro-setting. We used Dungeon World, which I have never played before but have wanted to try for forever, so that was cool! I'm writing this as sort of a hybrid play report and Adventure Module Outline, since I think it's simple and straightforward, but also was a lot of fun and I could see myself running it again, and I hope other people can get some value out of it as well. While I think it worked as a one-shot, I also think it would be better spread out over a few sessions.

Premise / NPCs
Players are privateers aboard The Brown Bowser, with the mission of discovering new islands for colonization and for the acquisition of lost treasures, gold, and other resources. In addition to players, a few core crewmembers are:

Captain Noah “No Face” Fairman: His entire head and face is covered in bandages. He uses three parrot-shaped golems as his eyes; one blue, one red, one green. He is not especially large but is a ferocious hand-to-hand brawler and sharpshot. He wears an elaborate rainbow-colored frilly coat, a tall hat, and a curly gold wig. He appears friendlier and more relaxed than one might expect from a Captain, but has a low tolerance for insubordination and will turn ruthlessly cutthroat at a moment’s notice, if necessary. No Face is actually a Shark. He intends to take their treasure to an island dominated by sharks and kill the rest of the crew.

Cowan: A zapatotian mercenary hired as security officer and second-mate. He is disliked by much of the crew, in part due to racism, and in part due to him being a hard-ass. He is frequently seen swinging from the masts of the ship. Except for a clear disdain for Diego, he does not otherwise express his feelings towards others openly. In addition to his natural weapons, he is a master of phalanx tactics with a spear and shield.

Diego Jaramillo: First-mate. Casually dressed, bronze skin, short black hair, long hoop earrings, wears a lot of makeup. A drunken lay about, but brilliant ship and airplane pilot, decent fighter, and charismatic gentleman. He has a dark past; he was once a captain, but after a mission gone horribly wrong, he was demoted. He will avoid discussing this, but when drunk, or if he gets to know players better, he may reveal how his ship was somehow erroneously routed to a dangerous island, and most of his crew were killed and his precious cargo destroyed. Has an adversarial relationship both with Captain No Face and Cowan. Cowan may develop a begrudging respect for him if organized by the players against No Face. On the other hand, No Face was in fact the one who secretly organized the mishap on Diego’s ship, and sees Diego as a loose end. He insisted on Diego as his first-mate to kill him off once and for all. 

Oskar: A swashbuckling rogue with a magnetic energy sword known as the omni-sword. He dresses elaborately and flamboyantly with the full accouterments of a 17th century-esque gentleman. We used the mutant playbook from adventures on dungeon planet, where we re-flavored the "mutations" as abilities from his omni-sword, and I just wrote some custom moves for it. Played by my roommate (referred to as R).

Wilhellem: A scientist and technologist with an all-terrain, amphibious and aerial mech suit. I used the mechanic playbook from Inverse World. Played by our male visiting friend (referred to as M)

Lana: A wizard who desires drink and adventure. Not content to read from arcane books, she wants to explore the islands of the vortex and discover new magics first-hand. This was the only core Dungeon World playbook of the party. Played by our female visiting friend (referred to as F).

Play Report
  • I wrote a quick-and-dirty weird science fantasy island generator for this one-shot and pre-generated 4 islands. I knew that there was no way the players would hit all of them in a single one-shot, but I wanted there to be options. Of course I rolled for the largest one, so the bulk of the adventure was on the island or on the ship.
  • Randomly roll islands (either in advance or as needed) using island generator. This can go indefinitely. As the session is wrapping up, Captain No Face will lead the ship to the drop-off colony, which has been overrun by sharks. If the players realize Captain No Face is a shark and mutiny, or manage to escape the shark colony alive, they “win”.
  • Roll 1d12 for random encounter between islands. (NOTE that in this one-shot, the players only traveled to one island, but for a longer adventure this is what I would have done)
    • 1-4: nothing happens. 
    • 5-6: 1d6 small or 1d4 medium aquatic or aerial hostile creature.
    • 7: 1 massive or 1 large and 1d4 medium/small aquatic or aerial hostile creatures.
    • 8: Dangerous natural phenomenon (waves/storm/rocky/etc.).
    • 9: Friendly ships, merchants, prey aquatic or aerial creatures.
    • 10-11: 1d4 small hostile pirate ships.
    • 12: Large hostile battleship and 1d4 small ships.
  • For each island, there should be some conflict:
    • The captain wants to take more resources than would be sustainable for the island’s ecosystem.
    • The ancient relic / natural oddity is more powerful than the captain is letting on. He will feign ignorance, adamantly disagree, or authoritatively shut down any conversation on the matter.
    • The live specimen is being kept under inhumane (but survivable) conditions.
    • The Captain demands they avoid an encounter with a friendly human ship. He either provides no explanation and demands obedience, or makes a weak/speculative argument like it may be a trap or something seems “fishy”.
    • The Captain forces the party/crew to do needlessly risky things and holds no regard for their lives. This should be towards the end of the session, when the Captain wants to thin out the crew to make the inevitable betrayal easier.
  • Below is the one island that my players visited this game, but if you like this, in the island generator post that I linked above you'll find three others.
Island 4 (Large)
A partially submerged island covered in a vibrant, metallic-colored coral forest. The corals produce usually pleasant humming and singing noises.
Apex Predators: Starfish-shaped robots harvest the coral, without discernment for other present lifeforms within.
Threat 1: Large robots disguised as coral which trap threats to the apex robots.
Threat 2: An underwater hive of flying bee-like pistol shrimp which have evolved to ballistically propel themselves by producing sonic booms, as a means of rapidly targeting prey within the coral forest and avoiding the traps of disguised robots.
Threat 3: Packs of raptors with vibrant metallic colors and frills which disguise them within the coral.
Non-threat 1: Pteranodons with sharp beaks and claws capable of chewing through hard coral. They are only dangerous if threatened.
Non-threat 2: A photosynthetic, slime-like yeast which has developed a symbiotic relationship with the coral. Can provide sustenance, but also causes inebriation or intense hallucinations.
Non-threat 3: A metallic gold-colored tree which produces a multi-metallic-colored tropical fruit pollinated by the flying pistol shrimp. The fruit contains a chemical harmful to the slime yeast, and by extension the coral forest itself. Seemingly an invasive species outcompeting the coral for the same ecological niche.
Treasure: 1200 gold value in slime yeast, to be sold as a recreational drug or as medicine.
Conflict: While the metallic trees were eventually going to overtake the coral forest anyway, collecting so much yeast will give the trees an even larger advantage. The trees will overtake the island faster than the ecosystem can adapt, and the ecosystem will collapse. Additionally, the captain will be draconian in not allowing the crew to consume the slime, threatening death, while flagrantly abusing as much of the slime as he wants. Eventually a crew member will be caught stealing slime and the captain will force them to walk the plank. 

  •  The players investigated the island, encountering all the wildlife. After running some analyses (and consulting with Diego and Captain No-Face), they learned that the slime was extremely valuable, and made it their mission to extract as much slime as possible. They also learned first-hand about the intoxicating effects of the slime, which was quite fun ;). The captain gave them 24 hours to extract the slime.
  • There were 4 major pockets of slime. They had to clear out each area of threats so that a safe and efficient pipeline could be established. Their actions, or spending time coming up with plans, would affect how long it took to clear out each pocket.
  • They learned that by extracting the slime, they were creating an imbalance in the ecosystem. They decided that they did not want to destroy the ecosystem of the island, so they had to clear out a proportional number of trees to counterbalance the amount of slime they extracted, nearly doubling the time and creating additional complications.
  • After encountering and defeating the apex predator, they were able to extract enough slime to satisfy the captain in just the nick of time.
  • Upon returning to the ship, Captain No-Face throws a party in honor of a successful mission. While he consumes as much slime as he could want, he does not allow anyone else to sample the goods. 
  • The players stumble upon Cowan and Captain No-Face getting into a heated argument. They hear shouting, followed by violent noises. They rush in too late, and find Cowan's body brutally torn apart, the office covered in blood.
  • No-Face tells the party Cowan had gone crazy. Oskar follows No-Face to discuss the matter further, while Lana and Wilhellem investigate the office.
  • In their investigations, they discover that the official documentation of the Brown Bowser's status as a privateer ship have been falsified. Additionally, they find a magical shark tooth.
  • Simultaneously, Oskar, not convinced by No-Face, engages him in a duel of honor, where No-Face removes his bandages and reveals himself as a shark.
  • The other players, hearing the conflict, rush to his aid, and they all face off against No-Face and his parrot golems. 
  • Lana magically activates the shark tooth. It turns into a magical sword, but shark teeth in the pommel cut into her hand, embedding the sword into her.
  • The party manages to kill No-Face and keep the ship and slime, Diego survives, but Lana's fate is left uncertain.
The Breakdown
Given that this was a setting I've never run before, and a system I've never run before, and M and F have little RPG experience, I was worried about how this was going to go, but actually everyone had a really good time! In retrospect I wish I had just developed one island and put more depth into it, since for a one-shot of course they weren't going to get far, but still they really liked the island. I also felt like I hadn't utilized the NPCs as well as I would have liked, but again I think for a one-shot that's to be expected. I will definitely say that R crushed it! He and I have been roleplaying together for nearly 2 years now and he's always been great, but he really nailed the character concept with Oskar right away, and that kept the game exciting and engaging.

In regards to Dungeon World itself, I thought it was a fun system and I want to play with it more, but also I struggled with the reactive nature of the player/GM relationship and I don't think I leveraged the system to full effect. I also ignored a lot of the GM moves and other mechanics that felt like obvious stuff I would have done anyway, but I wonder if that would have changed the experience if I had stayed closer to those rules. While we discussed the bonds during character creation, they also didn't really come into play during the one-shot. In a longer game where character progression is determined by fulfilling bonds maybe things would have been different, but in a one-shot with limited time, the idea of fulfilling bonds seems at odds with a D&D-style adventure. That being said, even with just this one one-shot, it was clear to me how this system applies a "storygame" approach to a D&D framework that I think is really cool. It feels like a similar thing to what I was trying to do with my WIP LotFP: Decyphered game, where I attempted to fit the design philosophy of the Cypher System to a D&D framework.

Tuesday, September 11, 2018


I will return to Antikythera Nova eventually, but I wrote this micro-setting for a one-shot I ran recently (play report soon), so I thought I'd share this first. Because this blends some of my older writing (my synopsis for Vortekka as a Place in Phantasmos, Zapatotians as an Intelligent Species in Phantasmos), I think it could use some touching up- the synopsis in particular could be "punchier". Maybe I'll eventually rewrite it, but for now I think it's good enough to post as-is.

Vortekka is a world surrounded by a vortex of multi-colored, shimmering, luminescent ocean dotted with islands. It has a land mass core of a series of disjointed plates floating in place. Life exists both on the plates, and on the inner-surface of the vortex. From the core, the sky appears like the inside of a massive surfing wave. The centripetal and centrifugal forces between the vortex and core allow for gravity on both planes. After reaching a critical distance away from their respective source of gravity, objects are pulled in the opposite direction. This has created a three-dimensional ecosystem blurring the lines between land, air, and sea. It’s a world of late-17th century-styled adventures of pirates and privateers, with a dash of high fantasy and steampunk. A world largely unexplored, where every island is a unique ecosystem challenging pre-conceived notions evolutionary adaptation.

Humans: The dominant intelligent lifeform of the central landmass. Only recently have they developed the magi-technologies to reach the inner surface of the vortex, bringing about a new age of growth and exploration. Unlike the halflings, they are more concerned with the discovery of lands to settle and resources to exploit, rather than discovery and scientific inquiry. They are the most magi-technologically advanced species, but the least adapted to life on the vortex.

Zapatotians: Orangutan-sized land-dwelling octopi. Their eyes have adapted to above-water light and visual conditions. They breath air, but also have vestigial gills. They have long torsos, and hind tentacles differentiated such that their two lateral hind tentacles are longer, capable of snake-like locomotion, and of raising the body such that their beaks are raised above ground. Their front tentacles are utilized for carrying objects. They are fast on the ground and swinging in the trees, have powerful beaks, and are expert hunters in forests and jungles. Their society is simple, stone-age or barbarian-esque, but they are not necessarily unintelligent. Even in direct combat they are excellent warriors. In the modern era, they are often employed as mercenaries by other factions.

Indri (halflings): Halfling-sized lemur-like humanoids. They have large eyes, protruding snouts, strong, elongated limbs, and large rounded ears. They are more magi-technologically advanced than the zapatotians but less so than humans and are likewise more adapted to life on the vortex than humans, but less agile traversing the island jungles and forests than the zapatotians. They have a shamanistic and scientific culture and have taken it upon themselves to catalog life across all the islands on the vortex.

            Korora (penguins): Penguin-like amphibious creatures averaging over 7’ tall with short limbs and pear-shaped bodies. They have short but powerful beaks with rows of sharp teeth, blueish scales, and white bellies. They are the least maneuverable of the major intelligent species on land, but the most adept in water. Their scales also provide strong natural armour. They are generally simple people with simple wants and needs, but given their size, relative intelligence, and amphibious nature, they are perhaps the most thriving civilization on the vortex surface.

Sharks: A species of imperfect shapeshifters. They are always hairless, and no matter the form they take, they always have the gaping, toothy grin and cold, flat eyes of a shark. With the right costume and a bit of magic, some sharks can disguise their form enough to be passable as whatever species they are mimicking. Little is known of their civilization except that it exists somewhere deep within the vortex. They seem to be primarily interested in spying on and manipulating the island peoples on the surface of the vortex towards some malicious end. With the recent discovery of the humans, they may even have begun to explore the floating core.

Magi-technology and Ecology
            Between the competing centripetal and centrifugal forces and the air currents of the vortex, it is easier to take flight on Vortekka than on Earth but flying creatures must be heavier and stronger to control their flight. As a result, large, flying animals of all kinds are common, including those as adept in the sea as they are on land or in the air. Apart from these more ubiquitous creatures, life across the small and vastly distant islands has evolved each in relative isolation. Usually there is one large, dominant land-dwelling species or a social, intelligent species, and many smaller species, including flying or aquatic creatures too small or weak to be able to travel far, adapted hyper-specifically to the concerns of their island. Except for the larger aerial or aquatic beasts and their effects on the ecosystem, life on the floating core is more like life on the continents of Earth.

            While the air currents make it easier to take flight from the vortex than from on the core, the limited space and lack of natural resources across the islands has kept the intelligent species on the vortex islands from developing the necessary magi-technology to launch towards the core. Only in the last 50 years have humans developed the magi-technology to reach the vortex, and it is still an expensive and inefficient process. As a result, the human colonists, privateers, and explorers on the surface have limited communication with the core and cannot rely on assistance.

            To go from the core to the vortex, individuals in winged flightsuits must literally be rocketed into the air, and although the process has been refined, it is still not uncommon for the rockets to explode or fail to launch far enough to pull the rocketeer into the centrifugal force of the vortex.

            From the vortex, larger one or two-person aerial vehicles, like a cross between a canoe, sailboat, and biplane, can take flight without the need for a rocket. Likewise, individuals in flight suits can be launched from moving watercraft like paragliders. Some ingenious individuals have even developed transformable mechanical suits (mecha), smaller than airplanes but larger than a flight suit. Although often still somewhat bulky and impractical, the versatility of mecha in air, sea, and land have made them valuable assets on a ship. However, the technology is yet to be standardized and mass produced.

            Naval ships, airplanes, mecha, flightsuits, and these other technologies are often facilitated using magic and alchemy. Outside of fairytales and legends, most magic is relatively simple, practical, and mundane. Likewise, while humans on the core are starting to develop steam technology and have conceived of even greater technologies using resources like demon water and lightning, in the present these are little more than pipe-dreams.

Sunday, September 9, 2018


This is the third in my series of Weird & Wonderful tables of "traditional fantasy" elements, the first two being Elves and Goblins. As with my goblins table (and the latter elves), my intention for these vampires is that each one represents some sub-textual or thematically-relevant aspect of vampires. Additionally, as with the goblins, I'm going with a broad definition of vampire, including not just the European creature but also creatures such as the Hindu Vetala or Chinese Jiangshi, or any creatures which steal blood, energy, lifeforce, etc. It's interesting, looking at vampiric creatures across different cultures, that vampirism and deviant sexuality, specifically female-empowered sexuality (which would have been considered deviant in those cultures), as well as liminal consciousness, sleep paralysis, sleepwalking, and out of body experiences, are so co-morbid. I also took inspiration from animals known for being vampiric or carrion-feeding, other biological or chemical vectors for blood or energy transference, and more abstract forms of emotional vampirism. These entries definitely stray pretty far from the traditional Dracula-derived modern vampire, but I tried to relate each entry to these concepts.

Vampires (1d20)Description
1. Dilation VampiresPsychic beings that make you think of a single, uncomfortable event. The event grows in your mind. It no longer reflects reality. It grows beyond what your brain can contain. The blood pressure builds, crushing your brain as every blood vessel bursts.
2. Blood GnollsAndrogynous female hyena-like humanoids with blood-red fur and bright green eyes. Supernatural hunters and scavengers. Their teeth drip a crimson enzyme which can dissolve bone. They are often hired by desperate desert wanderers. As payment, they demand a sacrifice of a male virgin with a hyper-masculine personality.
3. AgnathaA crimson-colored creature with a worm-like body and a large, round orifice for a face, layered with sharp teeth, and a large eye on its chest. Has eight appendages like a squid, with webbing between the appendages giving the appearance of a cape. The witch attracts those who are lost but have not lost hope, and offers them care and a place to rest. It nibbles at its guests each night, forming a small, infectious wound that burrows ever deeper towards the heart.
4. FloxforosCyan skin, blue or white hair, a burning aura. They consume heat produced by the metabolism of intelligent life, or artificially produced, life-sustaining sources of heat. They require a precise equilibrium; too little heat and they die, too much and they explode. They use fire and water magics to maintain this equilibrium.
5. Byakhee LordsNeck and wings of a vulture, face like a cross between a reptile and raven. They enter your life after you've lost a loved one. They take the form of whatever you need most in that moment. They make you forget your loss. They replace your dreams with fantasy adventures of just you and them. They make you love them like you did your lost love. They make you give them everything. And then they leave you. They leave a void in your soul in place of your forgotten loved one. They feed on others until they have consumed every memory in the world of your loved one.
6. Playwright VampiresA chameleon-like shapeshifter. It searches for talented but inexperienced actors. It offers them their dream role and everything they could ever want, and feeds on their sense of fulfillment. Everyone and everything in the production is an illusion except the actor and the playwright; even the audience is not real. It strings the production along for years. The actor never improves their craft because the audience loves them exactly as they are. When the actor is well past their prime, it reveals the ruse, leaving the actor with nothing to show for their life's work.
7. Plague VampiresIn their first stage of life, they are dog-sized insects which hop on powerful hind legs and stab their prey with their proboscis. Their torsos engorge with blood, and they form into a blood chrysalis. In their secondary stage they are humanoid insects with beautiful wings like a butterfly and toothy, beak-like mouths. They prefer to feed on the weak and sick, cultivating the bacteria and viruses into even more potent diseases. Once their new disease is ready, they infect the healthy.
8. Dracul VampiresThese vampire dragons gain power from accumulating zero-sum wealth. The less resourceful steal and hoard treasures, while others own property and profit from the fruits of their exploited workers' and slaves' labors. They fear economic and industrial disruption, and act as an inertial force on economies. Some are charming, and these are the most dangerous ones. They will convince you they have your best interest at heart even as they exploit you for everything you are worth.
9. Asphyxiation VampiresA plant intelligence distributed across a field of poppies and thorny roses. They induce pleasure and psychedelia in those who pass through the fields, feeding on the blood dripping down the thorns and oxidizing their circulatory system, shutting down their muscles and trapping them. Unlike most plants they are oxygen breathers, and their trapped prey blissfully suffocate on the carbon dioxide exhausted in the field.
10. Manic VampiresThey supercharge hematopoiesis in the marrow. The lifeforce courses through their victims, stimulating every nerve ending and every neuron as if the body were alight with holy fire. Their victims live hard and fast until they (metaphorically) burst, and the vampire feasts on the ripe, juicy remains.
11. Holobiotic VampiresA parasitic organism that lives in the gut like a fungal or bacterial infection. It hijacks white blood cell production, manipulating the immune system, both to make the gut microbiome more hospitable, and to manipulate the thoughts, emotions, and even physical form of the host. The identity of the host is usually so radically altered that the host's original identity effectively dies long before the body is fully consumed.
12. Lost BoysAngels created by long-forgotten gods on a faraway world. They are alien and beautiful, child-like but world-weary. They inspire faith and good will in others but have none for themselves. Inevitably, the faith they garner is squandered or corrupted. They are not malicious, they are simply lost.
13. Memetic VampiresThey drink from the collective unconscious of a culture, acquiring its history, knowledge, and customs, but not its soul. They love the culture, in their own way, but don't really understand it. They trap it, exploit it, pervert it, and indoctrinate others into the corrupted culture. They lack restraint or consideration for their actions, and eventually they kill the culture that they grew to love.
14. Azure VampiresHuman-passing save for their bluish and coppery metallic skin. In post-industrial worlds they are lords, in pre-industrial worlds they bide their time. They are a dangerous people, in that they are savant-like in both their abilities as engineers and technologists, and also in business and finance. They are captains of industry, moving civilizations forward only to exploit them. They drink the blood of the poor and exploitable. They are the greatest argument against innovation and progress.
15. Liminal VampiresThey appear in hypnagogic visions, interacting with the physical world through the pineal gland and the electricity produced by myoclonic jerks. They oscillate in dissonance with your brain just before you fall asleep. They feed on your physical essence, degrading you each long and wakeful night.
16. Primordial VampiresDeformed creatures with clubbed feet, shriveled lungs which wheeze and croak at each breath, and overly large or small or misshapen heads. They prey upon women with unwanted pregnancies, violently aborting the fetus and feeding on the amniotic fluids.
17. Vampire Blood GolemsGolems made from the blood of vampires. The circulatory system must be given life within the (un-)living vampire. When the vampire feeds, the circulatory system routes the blood only for itself, starving the vampire host from the inside. Eventually, the vampire starves, and the golem sheds its host. It is a powerful, magical being, and it hungers.
18. Black-blooded VampiresTitan-like magical beings hiding within civilizations. They are far too powerful to find nourishment in blood. Instead, they must wait millions of years for heat and pressure to transform organic matter into fossil fuels, a far greater concentration of life than blood.
19. Ego VampiresThey are hopeless romantics, feeding on the vibrancy of passionate love and lusty sex. However, as soon as the passion burns out, so does any interest they had in their relationship. When they leave, their former lover must come to terms with the relationship, or transform into an ego vampire themselves.
20. Lymph VampiresObese, yellow and bluish degenerate creatures which feed on lymph, hemolymph, and hemocyanin. They take a blunt approach to solving problems, and lack a sense of nuance. They live in squalor and filth, taking as little responsibility for themselves as possible. They survive mainly on the cockroaches and other vermin attracted to their filth.