Friday, August 30, 2019

Mutliverse Traveler Generator

Just a silly post, don't mind me.
You are traveler from the [d12] [d12, d12] verse.
(Roll and chose between the options provided)
Or just click there.

d12 Roll once
  1. Dark / Gothic 
  2. Fantasy / SciFi 
  3. Cyber / Techno
  4. Queer / Punk    
  5. Cosmic / Mystical
  6. Grim / Lighthearted
  7. Lo fi / High 
  8. Modern / Retro
  9. Pulp / Gritty 
  10. Bizarro / Poetic 
  11. Tragic / Comedic 
  12.  Post-Apocalyptic / Medieval  
d12 Roll twice
  1. Western / Wuxia
  2. Romance / Erotica 
  3. Young Adult / Chick lit 
  4. Noir / Conspiracy
  5. Pastoral / Urban 
  6. Space / Underground 
  7. Picaresque / Heroic 
  8. Medical / Legal 
  9. Horror / Splatter
  10. Political / Military 
  11. Dystopian / Utopian 
  12. Crime / Mystery
Rolling some examples

  • Queer Chick Lit Noir Verse 
  • Fantasy Political Young Adult Verse 
  • Punk Noir Medical Verse
  • Tragic Wuxia Conspiracy Verse
  • Cosmic Splatter Mystery Verse 

Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Keywords maps

As a experiment I used keywords instead of names to fill up a map. I selected the keywords using free associations but I guess that you could also randomly generate them or use a mix of both techniques. Generating them collectively could also be fun.

I think that I like the result, I could easily use the map to improvise a point crawl session. The only annoying thing is that you have to figure out how to actually name things in the game world, I guess that you can combine the keywords with other words to craft names. Like the town with the keyword "sad" could be Sad Street or Sad Sparrow.

You could also use the keywords to generate random encounters. Let's try this.
The red keywords are regions or kingdoms, lets try with Diaspora of Remembrance

On one table we put up 20 keywords located in the region. 
  1. Remembrance 
  2. Sad
  3. Moon
  4. Quiet
  5. Buried
  6. Paintings
  7. Healing
  8. Light
  9. Ghasts
  10. Joy
  11. Old
  12. Memories
  13. Abandoned
  14. Forgotten
  15. Ribbons
  16. Milk
  17. Exiled
  18. Mourn
  19. Roots
  20. Rest
On a other table we put 10 types of encounters
  1. Group of people
  2. Loner or outcast 
  3. Trader
  4. Small beasts 
  5. Large beast
  6. Undead
  7. Spirit
  8. Monster
  9. Conman 
  10. Figure of authority  
If we combine some rolls to craft a d10 random encounters table we get:
  1. Healing + Figure of authority 
  2. Joy + Outcast 
  3. Memories + Undead
  4. Exiled + Spirit
  5. Remembrance + Conman
  6. Ghasts + Small beasts
  7. Light + Undead
  8. Buried + Group of People 
  9. Milk+  Group of people
  10. Forgotten + Trader
I could easily work with this. You can apply the same formula to generate treasures and magical items. 

Tuesday, August 27, 2019


The other day I was thinking back about the Skinned Moon Daughter B/X class that my friend Benjamin wrote for the Undercroft #9. I wanted to write a blog post about using the articles in the Undercroft #9 as the building blocks of a campaign but as I was rereading the zine I was taken aback by how nihilistic some articles were. I checked on the back cover and I noticed the “Compatible with Lamentations of the Flame Princess” logo. This made me think about the influence of the LotFP horror genre in the OSR and how it intermingled nihilism, gross out and horror together. By nihilism I mainly mean the dead trap nega-dungeon or settings and scenarios where everything is amoral, horrible and hopeless. 
In the Undercroft #9 there is a unstoppable sexual disease monster that contaminate everything it come in contact without any real hope of resisting it effects, there is a monster made of dicks that automatically turn people into copies of itself and finally there is a scenario about a entity that cause women to give birth to babies that spawn gigantic monsters that feature cults that control or use these women. All of these things had uncomfortable implications of abuses or cruelties and I thought: do gross things always need to be linked to these themes? Is there other kind of gross?

I thought about underground comics and the art of Julie Doucet, one of my favorite comic book artist who gleefully represented gross things in her comics but in a often playful way. Yes there was some self depreciation and angst in some of her strips but her art also feel positive and liberating.

There is a inherent power in daring to represent and to explore gross things, underground comics certainly understood this. There is also waves of women artists who try to appropriate the right for women to be as gross as they wish. They dive in the trashy and gross out but still, there is often sometime positive to retain from their work, not just emptiness.

While working at the library I also often see children books about farting and other gross things, these books tell kids that it is ok to be gross and that gross things are not scary. Daring to be gross can be sometimes cathartic, liberating and even empowering.

Gross things don’t have to be about abuses and cruelties or nihilism, I think that it is important to also be able to explore the gross in a positive way. I wish there was out there, creators or publishers that balance the nihilist-gross popularized by LotFP with material that explore a more playful and positive gross. I am not saying that nihilistic-gross should never be explored but that balancing it is important. I don’t want to see the nihilistic-gross balanced only by materials that move away from the gross to explore different things, I also want to see products that balance it by embracing the gross without linking it with forms of abuses and cruelty.

How to do that?

A good starting point could be to explore your own darkness. The video that Contrapoints made on this question is good food for thoughts. Try to explore your own gross or darkness first.

Some possible paths to explore:
  • Feature the gross as something liberating. Something that break stiff social norms or that is good to vent out or to unleash in a cathartic way.
  • Gross, like chaos don’t mean evil. If we can have chaotic-good things, we can have gross-good things too. Chaos is also often about change, transformation and revolutions, same for the gross.
  • Present the gross as allies, tools or resources instead of presenting it as threats.
  • Play characters imbued by the gross. Make the gross personal and familiar instead of about otherness and external fears.
  • If you make the gross external and scary make it so that you can communicate with it in some way. Present the scary gross as something that you can make peace with instead of something that you have to destroy.
  • If you present the gross as something to be fought, contrast and balance it by making the characters or their allies gross too. Motley of cheerful-gross friends vs the evil-dangerous-horror-gross.
  • Don’t link the gross with abuses, keep it consensual, let the players trigger it or dare them to dip their toes in it. Same for the NPCs, don’t force the gross on them, make them embrace it through their emotions or actions.
  • Empower the gross, don’t always link it with misery and suffering, make it sometimes amazing or wonderful in it own grotesque way. 
  • Humanize the gross, don't always make it comical or ridiculous. Diversify it expressions or it reactions.
  • Develop safety tools about gleefully grossing each other out, tools that let us safely dare each other. Tools that let us safely push our comfort zone to explore gross things. Maybe something inspired from the emotional safety flower. Read about the tools that already exist, hack them if needed. Thinking about content warnings could also be a good thing. I feel like there is exploration to be done here, especially for the OSR who often shy away from these tools.  
I don't consider myself a gross person, I am pretty shy and all but as a trans woman, the gross sometimes speak a lot to me, dysphoria often lead to self depreciation and I often find part of me gross (less often now that I am transitioning). I also often tried to identify with gross monsters to kind of accept myself. Making peace with what we perceive as gross is not always easy (and we are not always in a position to do so). I think that there is a lot to gain from exploring the gross in a way that don’t leave us numb and empty.

Gross as a ally and something personal and scary that you need to accept or make peace with:

The gross as player characters and as the familiar and the mundane:

Gross as something neutral that the characters can interact with:

Gross as someone that the characters can gain as a ally:

There is a lot to explore.

Monday, August 5, 2019

Insects from Shaggai

Using the Insects from Shaggai in a fantasy setting. 

Campaign premise: 
The player characters are young from the same village, they will be soon initiated into the local cult. Years ago the insects landed in their temple ship, they domesticated the more useful monsters to use them as servitors. This was a good thing at first, while the woods gained the reputation of being haunted, the area became more peaceful. But soon the insects implanted their cult into the local human populace. To answer their need, the insects taught some technological innovations to their cultist while carefully controlling the villages' populations. The lands around the landing area became a sacred and forbidden place. Thing would go well but factions among the insects have different plans for the villagers. There is also these foreigners that were found in the woods, near the forbidden lands, a family is healing their wounds but the foreigners sinful influence have already infected some of the young, they call them adventurers.
  • Each village is under the influence of d3 Insect's factions.
  • Local families have their own petty ambitions.  
  • The wounded adventurers want to use the young to get what they want. 
  • (The surviving adventurer are ill or crippled, it will take them weeks to recover) 
  • The players determine a personal temptation that push their characters toward the forbidden area.  
Alternate option: the players play a group of adventurers who stop in one of the cult's villages. They are probably seeking something in the forbidden area. Young befriend them while local families want to use them to achieve their petty ambitions. The insects don't care about them at first but once the adventurer get troublesome, the insects will want to control them or may have other uses for them depending of their faction.  

Alternate option: the players play the insects. This option is naturally harder to play but quite tempting. The player characters are insects who fused with the mind of villagers to influence their community. Since their fused mind tap into their victim memories, this help the players make sense of their characters (vs playing truly alien ones). The insects have to deal with rival insect factions, their servitors becoming more erratic, the petty ambition of the villagers' clans and the presence of adventurers.

The Insects from Shaggai

Castes d9
  1. Oracles (Command & administration)
  2. Seers (Navigation)
  3. Shapers (Engineering)
  4. Priests (Science)
  5. Scribes (Archives)
  6. Weavers (Medicine & biotech)
  7. Shepherds (domestication and bioengineering of alien species)
  8. Singers (Operation)
  9. Watchers (Security & Intelligence)

Factions d9
  1. Seeders: want to create multiple colonies on imperfect worlds. Secret sub faction: research Shub-Niggurath to adapt their biology to these new worlds and secretly want to remain on their present world.
  2. Seekers: seek only the perfect new Shaggai and ways to divine it location. Secret sub faction: research Yog-Sothoth and Daoloth to create the possibility of the perfect new Shaggai. 
  3. Mentors: want to uplift indigenous species to imprint them with Shaggai culture to make backups saves of their history and culture. Secret sub faction: believe that the uplifted specie can revitalize the Shaggai culture if they are allowed to retain some form of agency. 
  4. Harvesters: fear indigenous species revolts and influence, want to harvest them as raw materials or to exterminate them. Secret faction: research necro-animation technologies to develop a new servitors and are secretly worshiping Mordiggian.
  5. Puppeteers: believe that the insects should infiltrate and control indigenous species and never reveal themselves. Secret faction: believe in monitoring the indigenous species to actually learn from them. They sometimes influence them to observe their behaviors but to gain meaningful data the specie must retain it agency and not be controlled or modified.   
  6. Renders of the veil: want to find new deities to ally with and new dimensions to explore. Secret faction: want to use local species to use as interfaces to contact and summon new deities and dimensions. 
  7. Heralds (or Pipers): want to fully summon Azathoth into the material universe to create a new Shaggai, oppose alliance with other deities. Secret faction: research Nyarlathotep to use local species to interface with Azathoth.
  8. Dreamers: want to enjoys sensorial stimuli and indigenous memories. Believe that they will never find a new Shaggai. Secret sub faction: devise drugs from indigenous brain matters and genetically alternate their brains to create different drugs. Secret sub faction: want to fuse with indigenous species to live their life and explore their Dreamlands.
  9. Guardians of the twin suns: want to preserve the past and pre-Azathoth worshipping culture, favor science but are very conservative and traditional. Secret sub faction: research Liao drug and time travel to return to the original Shaggai and the golden age of science.