How to die properly

Which is to say, in pieces.

Every PC has HP equal to their constitution. Fighters have double. NPCs have whatever the GM decides.

If HP drop below 0, compare the damage to the table below. From then on you may sit at 0 with no adverse effects.

1-3 - Flesh wound
4-5 - Serious injury
6+ - Mortal blow

Every flesh wound imparts a -1 to all physically based rolls.

A serious injury rolls on the following chart:


  1. Staggered, lose your next action as you recover
  2. Random arm incapacitated, drop anything held
  3. Random leg incapacitated, save vs. something or fall over unable to get up unassisted. Otherwise you can still limp about, but you are easier to hit (+4 to hit you)
  4. Disembowelment. If you don't commit one hand to holding it in, save vs. death each turn to suffer a protracted and unpleasant death on the ground.
  5. Internal injury. Treat as a flesh wound until that evening or dramatically appropriate "go on without me" moment. If it has not been healed by said time, save vs. death; if successful it is just a flesh wound, if unsuccessful it was worse than it looked and you die.
  6. Mortal blow, roll below

Mortal blows are rolled on the following table:

D6 and lose...
1 ... D3 fingers (permanent -1 to hit with that hand after 1 finger is lost, useless for fighting after 3)
2 ... an eye (-1 to hit)
3 ... an arm/hand
4 ... a leg/foot
5-6 ... your life (heart or head probably)


All HP are restored at the end of a fight, -1 per flesh wound. Magical healing can remove all flesh wounds or a single serious injury. An evening's rest will remove all flesh wounds. Serious injuries require a week


Instead of the above, NPCs rolls on the following table unless they have their own monster critical table or doing otherwise would be fun:

1 Staggered (as above)
2-3 Incapacitated (if being conscious or unconscious is important, roll for it)
4-6 Dead

All this has the potential to end fights very quickly, or have them turn into blood soaked hackathons. Both are far more entertaining that watching those numbers decay.

Complements Do Not Help

Weird is easy. Art is easy. Horror and comedy are easy. All the same.
When a thing stops being alive it falls prey to ridicule.
The mechanical encrusted upon the living.

He falls over, laugh.
He kills, fear him.
He is rendered, nod.
He hides the gills with high collars, how odd.


Oscillating humour. It comes and goes with time.
Kill once and you're a murderer, kill many and you're exciting.
Paint him again, capture him.
Erode the security of knowledge.

And if it fails, if you cannot manage that, dazzle them with finely wrought chaff.

Mudmen Addendum

The collective's image of mudmen is created by the potters to both sanitise and barbarise.

"Aren't they silly!"
"Look how primitive they are, wearing sticks and mud!"

Truly, every day we take their soil is another step closer to civilisation. They even come to the city sometimes to offer tribute of clay, to ceremoniously kowtow and offer the rites of their lands. But they're just actors, wandering troubadours covered in cheap imitation mud then sent on their way with a mouth full of silver. Just gypsum and ashes, not the good stuff, too valuable to waste on a ruse. We need neat and tidy masks fast, strong enough to last a day of parades and bowing. Make them look primitive, make them look safe.

The real mudmen are out there. The last survivors of their apocalypse, fighting back the ghosts from their shore.

Language map

I have trouble applying the Lamentations language rules to the growing stable of languages. Since most of these were invented, or at least stolen, on the fly it's rather hard to figure out their relationships to one another.

So, to simplify:

  • Everyone has a 1 in 6 chance of knowing any language, modified by intelligence bonus and language skill.
  • Every character has a mother tongue.
  • When you roll to see if you know a language, count the jumps between your mother tongue and the new language. That is your penalty to the language roll.
  • If there is no connection, it is a dead or totally alien language and you get minus 6 to the roll.

The connections represent logical connections rather than common linguistic roots. Sokone isn't closely related to Yongardy or Calipygeon, but they interact a lot and would be commonly shared. Kairn has no relation to any of the other languages, but they live right in the middle of everyone so some cultural exchange has to happen.

The Empires

The Empires derivative common name for a fluid cultural area formally known as the Commonwealth
Characterised by ruins. People living out of the glory of the past, shattered by a tepid war to claim the seat of the Autarch. The succession war has carried on in its current state for generations, an amount of time so great that the common people don't think of it as a war, rather just the state of things.

The outside world knows them as mercenaries and adventurers. This blasted land produces them seemingly without end, the weary and the war-hungry, stumbling out of the dust looking for what they cannot find here.

There are more cities than this. The Great City was vast, stretching from horizon to horizon, so old that it's docks now sit far inland as the sea retreats from her. But this is some examples of her remnants.

The Empire and its neighbours
Link to the big version

They speak a non-gendered language. This is cause for embarrassment when among foreign people, as they default to referring to everyone as women, and have great trouble differentiating gender linguistically. Possibly the source of the belief that Empiric mercenaries refer to everyone as women because of barbarian arrogance and a desire to demean other warriors as weak, but it's merely a matter of linguistic confusion.

There are extensive roads between the cities, but they are closed by order of the last Autarch. In disrepair and patrolled by ulans, who have royal writ to claim any belongings of trespassers). They are dangerous and avoided by all.
Ulans stalk the highways
Example City-States

Great Lady's house
White Ape City
Ruler: The Mighty Opener, Soul of Darkness,

If it were not redundant to call any city among the empires "ancient" White Ape City would earn that moniker. Temple city to the Great Lady Under Earth and at its highest peak her own residence and, by relation, entrance to the underworld.

Though not the most populous, it is opulent. Even modest citizens can live among the carven arches and endlessly repeating grotesques depicting scenes from the House of the Great Lady.

The city gains its name from the intelligent white gorillas that are allowed to lope around the city. They are considered to be guides to the underworld and contribute to the city's safety. Most people are hesitant to risk harming or angering them.

Ruler: The Carnifex
A cold and blasted hill, honeycombed with tunnels and cells. When the wind blows at the right angle and with enough spite it makes the city-hill moan with a thousand hopeless voices.

The wealthiest citizens live at the bottom of the hill in dark wooden houses, huddled together against the wind and noise. As you travel further and further up the mound they become poorer and poorer. The worst wretches live alongside the prisoners kept in the few functional cells left in the vast tunnels.

At the very top is the house of the carnifex and her apprentices. Masked and silent, she rules from on high. Her sword is the sum of the law, pray her masked agents do not take you in the night for breaking the unspoken law.

Gateway of Gods
Ruler: The Masterful Keeper of Gods

The twin rivers that flow through the Empires are the remit of The Flood-Storm, a god both OF and which IS the river system. The Flood-Storm ensures that the seasonal floods and other equally important river activities remain in place.

You will find the House of the Flood-Storm here, at Gateway of Gods, sitting atop the antiquated system of gates and channels that has the power to withhold and unleash the rivers. It's priesthood has evolved around its arcane operation, with the Keeper of Gods as its high priest, and bodily representative of the Flood-Storm when she is needed. At her command the waters were withheld and mountains flooded, thus both the White Tree Mire and Concourse of Copper was formed.

Gateway of Gods

The Gate of the Sun-Child
Ruler:  The Yellow Empress, the Power Perverse

The Gate of the Sun-Child is believed to be the closest point to the sun as it crosses the sky on its way to the underworld to determine the fate of the dead. At no other place is the Sun-Child's numinous power more apparent.

A caste of column builders call this city-state home. They mine the fine white stones from their quarries and fashion them into taller and taller pillars, upon which the wealthy clamber in order to be closer to the Sun-Child. Taller and taller columns require more and more advanced and elaborate constructions, all in order to prove the godliness of its owner and to allow them to look down upon others.

The construction of these pillars drives the city to expand and plunder.

City of the Emerald Throne
Ruler: The Amaranthine Vizier

Before the Gate of Gods redirected the Slow River, the Emerald Throne was home to only it's ruler and her staff. The great basalt ziggurat of the Emerald Throne is the seclusium of  The Amaranthine Vizier, who some suspect is THE Amaranthine Vizier, who advised the last Autarch and was suspected of being the true power behind the throne.

Since the arrival of the Slow River and its flood waters, others have come, flocking to live in the shadow of the ziggurat. Food is abundant and rival cities are fearful of the Vizier, who for now has seen fit to stay in her seclusium pursuing whatever it is brought him here to begin with.

Like this, but imagine cranes as well
Fort of the People at the Edge
Ruler:  The Manifold Gatherer

Sat on the edge of the Concourse of Copper, the starved river.

Once a vast port stretching for miles along its bank, now its inhabited area is largely confined to still operable loading cranes and the buttresses that once formed the solid walls of the river bank.

They maintain fields in the rich, damp soil of the riverbed, producing a vast surplus of food. In addition, they are the largest producer of Yellow Sun-Child, a thick, sometimes viscous, tea enjoyed by all levels of society. It numbs the senses and mouth, to which can be attributed the characteristic drawl and slow speech that foreigners associate so closely with the Empires.

The Impregnable City
Ruler: The Voluminous Shepherd, Eater of Hearts

Its name refers to the metaphorical nature of the city, rather than a measure of its assailability. Indeed, it has been taken and sacked many times since the beginning of the succession. Rather it is a statement regarding its origin as the necropolis of the Great City, which of course lies splintered every which way can be imagined.

Death can not be overcome, of which the residents are grimly aware. Their livelihoods are found in the acceptance and proper treatment of corpses. From all corners of the world people send their dead here. Great caravans arrive carrying dead kings from lands most people have never even heard of, all to be interred, burned, dismembered, preserved or otherwise attended by the citizens of the necropolis. Their knowledge of burial rites is immense and eerily up to date.

You can often spot the tell-tale rheumy eyes* of a member of the polis under foreign garb, just as they slip off the caravans and melt into the crypts and laboratories to report what they have learned. Ostensibly adding to their professional knowledge, but those ears can't help what else they may learn.

*Dark Water Corpse Dust, another source of wealth, is not good for the sinuses

Seven Orchard City
Ruler:  The Green Lion

Seven orchards for seven families. Not long ago it was simply Orchard City, and for miles at its approach you would be met with the sweet smell of pear blossoms, date palms row by row, tended by the armies of fieldhands.

Now there is little land left, the rows of trees are drowned in the White Tree Mire, a gift from the Gateway of Gods. As they give, they take away, or give so much you can take no more.

The Bear Tower
Ruler: The Unconquerable Monster, the Hidden Guest of the Bear Tower

The bear tower is a crumbling spire at the terminus of a meandering and shattered wall, at places scores of metres thick, clad in metal.

The Bear Tower itself takes in young children and raises them to become animal tamers. More than mere tricks, they can break any animal and produce extraordinary feats. At some point in life each tamer takes a lion or bear in marriage, after which they shun human lovers.

Under a member of the Bear Tower an animal will be tested and either broken or moulded into a focused machine, bent to whatever end it was intended for. Many die or are too wounded to continue and are thrown from the tower to be collected by the people living in the shacks and shanties below.

The Ven visit the House Absolute with diplomatic gifts of laser guns

The House Absolute
The seat of governance. Its palatial gardens are of such arcane and perfect design that those searching for it uninvited are unlikely to stumble across it.

Since the succession crisis the halls of the House Absolute have been a petty game of intrigue and jockeying for position. The rulers of the cities come in and out of favour among the courtiers, find themselves invited to the garden parties and dances less and less often.

Somewhere in it's halls is kept the Iron Sceptre of governance, left carelessly on the throne. No one would think to take it by force, only a man who believes he is Autarch, and with the will to make others believe it, can even find it. None so far have done so, regardless of their bombastic claims otherwise.



A vibrant port city, teeming with humanity. Famous for its judicial system (fairest in all the lands) and being the place to stop for any respectable trade ship darting along the Friendly coast between it's grim storms and spasmodic squalls. Its enormous fortified harbour is a joyous sight, and the last one they will see in a good while for those headed north. No major ports exist in the Empires, where the coast has retreated from the ancient cities and been left to rough border towns to handle. And further, Calipyg's ports are strictly regulated by their mushroom overlords, each barrel and hold inspected and logged on entry and exit. Such a burden of time has meant that most skip it's once bustling waters and continue onto the frozen spires of Vornheim beyond the mountains.

Trade has made it rich, but it's cavalry has made it safe. The city sits in the corridor between the Yellow Kingdoms and the Empires, a plain occupied by nomadic Grass tribes (a rough and violent people), kept in check by decree of the governor and the court of directors. Dragoons are sent out regularly to pillage and burn the roving villages to keep them fearful and to ensure they never grow numerous enough to threaten the Fairest City.

You've Found a Mushroom!

A piece on mushrooms by my dear friend Alex, who does not have a home of his own.

You've Found a Mushroom! 

A nature or intelligence test will identify the mushroom. Upon failure, a second, easier, test may be made after eating the mushroom.

Roll a D20. On a roll of 1 the mushrooms were poisonous. Roll on the poisonous mushroom table and everyone who ate them suffers the same effect.

On a roll of 2-9 the mushrooms were inedible but not poisonous. Either rotten or slimy or bitter tasting or too insubstantial to provide a meal.

On a roll of 10-19 you've found some edible mushrooms! Hurrah! Roll again on the edible mushroom table to discover what delicious morsels you've found.

On a roll of 20 you've found magical mushrooms. Roll on the magic mushroom table and apply the effect to each character who ate the mushrooms, although some mushrooms will have different effect on different players.

Poisonous Mushroom table: D10

1 Deathcap: Tall white stem with frilled “skirt” and flat scaled cap. Pleasant taste. Make a poison save or die of a heart attack. Otherwise become violently ill for 4d12 hours. A violently ill character is considered completely incapacitated and will die without having their basic needs cared for.

2 Destroying Angel: Tall white stem with the same frilled “skirt” as a Deathcap, but with a brown scaled top. Disgusting, bitter taste. Make a poison save. If successful vomit away your last meal. Otherwise fall violently ill for 2d12 hours and make a poison save every hour for the first d6 hours of the fever. A failure on any one of these saves means your liver is destroyed beyond recovery and the character loses 1d4 points of constitution every day until they die or are cured via a magical spell that could regrow a limb.

3 Web cap: Brown and phallic. Delicious taste, firm peppery flesh. Make a poison save. If If successful vomit away your last meal. Otherwise make become violently ill for d12 hours and make two further saving throws, one for each kidney. A character with only one kidney cannot drink alcohol and all poisons have their effect doubled. A character with no kidneys cannot eat until they are cured via a magical spell that could regrow a limb.

4 Panther Cap: Dark brown with white spots. Good taste, earthy with a slightly bitter after-taste. Make a poison save or fall violently ill for 2d12 hours and take 1d4 poison damage every hour of the sickness. Causes minor hallucinations even to those who save successfully that last 2d6 hours, making any attempt to accurately see perceive the world difficult.

5 Fly Agaric: Bright red with white spots. Bitter, unpleasant taste. Make a poison save or suffer intense delirium that makes any actions unpredictable. A character might not recognise their friends, or may see them as monsters or long lost loved ones. They might communicate with gods or devils and be given a sense of purpose or have their world-view remade. On a successful safe, only minor hallucinations occur. Effects last 2d6 hours, then progress to the lighter stage for another 2d6 hours, or disappear as appropriate.

6 False Morel: Dark brown brainy mushroom. Good meaty flesh and strong earthy taste. Edible if cooked, otherwise become violently ill for 2d12 hours, save for half the time.

7 Fool’s funnel: White trumpet like funnel. Slimy, with no taste. Make a poison save or become and incredibly sweaty for 2d12 hours. A sweaty character has a 1-10 chance to drop an item they are carrying without gloves whenever they use it (e.g. swinging a weapon). A character overly covered, such as wearing armor, will become too hot and risk fainting if they perform strenuous exercise.

8 Devil’s boulette: Puffy red and grey boulette, blushes orange when cut. Firm texture but bitter taste. Become violently ill for 2d4 hours. The save is easier if it was cooked.

9 Yellow Stainer: White with light yellow blushes. A little bland and a little mealy. Make a poison save or suffer diarrhoea for 2d6 hours. Every time you roll a 1 on any dice you have 10 seconds before you shit yourself.

10 Jack ‘O Lantern: Dark orange cluster, slightly photo luminescent. Unpleasant bitter taste and insubstantial. Make a poison save or feel vaguely unwell for 2d6 hours.

Edible Mushrooms: D20

1 Field Mushroom: Small, mushroomy. Good, mushroomy taste.

2 The Prince: Stubby with a wide cap. Tastes excellent, hints of almond.

3 Blushing Wood Mushroom: Small white and brown, but damage causes deep red “bruises”. Good, delicate taste.

4 The Blusher: Dark brown with white spots. Good taste, earthy with a slightly bitter aftertaste.

5 Honey Fungus: Yellow orange clusters. Good taste, but requires large numbers to be a substantial meal.

6 Wood Ears: Purple fruiting body is gelatinous and ear shaped, undulating, affixed to dead wood. Tastes good but needs cooking to be edible.

7 Bay Bolette: small brown bulb, stains green blue when cut. Good, excellent when dried.

8 Penny Bun: Small brown bolette. Excellent, either dry and add to stews for strong earthy flavour, or fry with butter and garlic and serve with toast or fresh white bread.

9 Shaggy Ink Caps: Long flaking cylinders or finger, purple around base. Excellent when young, particularly in creamy sauces.

10 Horn of Plenty: Dark black or grey trumpet. Excellent, easily dried.

11 Beefsteak Fungus: Bracket fungus with red flesh with white “veins” resembling a cut of meat. Good but a little sour.

12 Hedgehog fungus: White and convex with spines rather than gills on the underside. Excellent, sweet and nutty with a crunchy texture.

13 The Deceiver: Sometimes pink, brown, yellow or orange with wide cap deeply depressed in centre. Mediochre, only really worth eating if desperate.

14 Saffron Milk Cap: Carrot orange tufts that can exude a harmless white substance. Good, will add orange colour to dishes.

15 Chicken of the Woods: Knobbly, sulphurous yellow bracket fungus. Mushroomy, purportedly tastes of chicken to some. Best eaten when young.

16 Giant Puffball: Large white ball that can grow to the size of a bull’s head. Excellent taste, can be sliced and fried like a steak.

17 Oyster Mushroom: Brown bracket fungus with white gills. Mushroomy.

18 Dryad’s Saddle: Large plates of brown scaled flesh. Smells strongly of watermelon, but the taste is lost when cooked.

19 Scarlet Elf Cup: Small, fragile funnel with bright scarlet inside. Mild, only worth eating if discovered in large quantities.

20 Truffles: Black warty globes, found underground. Excellent, nutty, intense flavour. Considered a delicacy and can be sold for d20 gold pieces.

Magical Mushrooms: D10

1 Phycobilin Mushroom: Small and brown with thin stalks. Not literally magic, just causes intense but pleasant hallucinations for d6 hours. Roll a D20, on a roll of 1 the character has a bad trip and the hallucinations are not pleasant. Any divine character, such as a paladin or cleric, has a 1 in 100 chance of being contacted by their God during this trip and are given useful information or are tasked with a specific quest to perform.

2 Exploding Puffball: Appears identical to the giant puffball except when first cut it explodes dealing 2d6 damage to everyone within ten feet, save for half damage for all characters except the one who cut into it. Puffballs have a 8 in 10 chance to explode when damaged by other puffballs, causing a chain reaction. Surviving puffballs have a 1 in 10 chance of exploding when touched or moved.

3 Mirror Fungus: Appears like a random edible mushroom. When eaten, non-sentient fungus doppelgangers of all characters who ate the fungus grow underground, hatching in d20 hours. The naked doppelgangers will attempt to hunt and kill their progenitors, with whom they share identical physical stats. The corpses of anyone they kill will sprout more mirror fungi in about a month.

4 Doctor’s Friend: Salmon pink trumpet. When eaten fresh it cures all non-magically caused ailments and diseases. Can be dried, but has a 1-10 chance of becoming poisonous causing the consumer to become ill, suffering from fever and taking 1d6 poison damage every hour for 2d12 hours, however after the fever subsides the diseases will still be cured.

5 Lucky Charm Bolette: Fat little bolette with a red stem, flesh blushes indigo when cut. Perfectly edible, if bitter, but the spores it produces cover everyone who touched it when fresh, lying on the skin and conferring a blessing. The next time a spored character rolls a 1 on a d20 before washing, they re-roll the dice and use the new result.

6 Beadle’s Beetle: Black little mushrooms with a hard, crunchy cup. Causes mild hallucinations and confers the ability to talk to animals, plants (including mushrooms), insects and other natural flora and fauna, lasting an hour. Can be dried but the hallucinations become extremely vivid and disorientating and the effect lasts 1D4 hours.

7 Jorkvander Chanterelle: Intensely blue, slimy trumpet. Droll a d4 with 1=Strength, 2-=constitution 3=dexterity 4=all three. Increase the corresponding stat(s) by 2 for the next 2d12 hours. Ineffective when dried and multiple portions have no further effect.

8 Golden Jack: Dull, slimy yellow cap with a pale stalk. The next bowel movement the character performs will be solid gold. Golden poos are of varying quality and size, so roll 2d6. The first dice dictates the quality of the gold, and the second is the amount. Times one by the other to determine the GP equivalent.

9  Devil’s Eyeball: Deep red, slightly photo luminescent globes. To the eyes of the consumer, all magical and otherworldly beings are surrounded by an aura of flames. The aura corresponds to the origin and nature of the being. The specific colours the auras correspond with are much discussed by scholars, but generally red flames correspond to creatures of the pit, and blue to those of heaven with green indicating fae origins. Purple flecks in the aura indicate chaotic and orange indicate orderly nature. Apparently the consumer’s own stance on good or evil alters the inner hue of the aura, closest to the body, with white being closest to one’s own alignment and black furthest away. The effect lasts an hour, and the mushrooms can be easily dried, becoming dark brown pills that will last a year.

10  Lich’s Orchid: A perfectly white funnel. Only ever found singularly, so only one character may consume the mushroom and must do so immediately or the effects are lost. The character instantly grows 1d6 years younger and gains one permanent magical ability. Roll a random first level spell, the character may now cast that spell once per day in addition to any other spells they might be able to cast.

The list of poisonous mushrooms comes from this article:

And was invaluable for the edible mushroom table.

Calipyg Map

The map of Calipyg and its surroundings. The western tip of the Fern Court, famous for its Cunning Men, dominates the peninsula, where it cascades down into the sick and salty Bitterfen.

Click for the big version.

It's currently the bare bones, simple places and how they connect. The details are vague until players actually see them and confirm that they're there. I look forward to filling this in.

The Downfall of Calipyg

Calipyg is a warning to those whose hubris lead them to remove themselves from the Great Games of the Empire. The roiling, endless, succession war keeps others vital and strong. They left us fighting for the Sceptre to fashion themselves a crown. But they made it too big, too grand, and now the Blight throttles them with it.

Behold, your new masters
The City

A city state on the coast of the Friendly Sea, built upon a string of islands in the salt marshes found there. No matter the season it is haunted by a pervasive wetness that, rather than simply fall from the sky in the right and proper manner, comes from the very air itself. It sticks to the bones and lends a counterpoint of decay to the wealthy polis. Everything is soft to the touch, a veneer of rot. The most affluent household will have moss climbing their velvet curtains.

The city is ruled by a line of Queens. The last succession caused something of a stir, where no female heir stepped fourth to don the Seven Faced Mask and wield the Concordant Staves Which Make Clear the Way. Not unheard of, certainly, but a scandal worthy of the finer tea-houses for sure. As is tradition, the male heir stepped into the position of Queen of Calipyg and accepted the Greater Seal.

The Seal

The Seal is practised among royal lines and some among the upstart middle orders putting on airs. The Lesser Seal, considered to be very fashionable, is a simple castration whereby the testes and scrotum are removed. Further, some accept The Greater Seal. Rarely seen outside of the aristocracy due in equal parts to its gruesome nature and difficulty in finding someone with the skill to cause such a heinous wound without killing the patient. Quite a feat in this foetid environment. Since the surgeon must perform a full emasculation it is entirely likely that anyone without the means to recuperate at leisure is likely to die in bed surrounded by their family and the sweet stench of necrotic flesh.

Many social practises have evolved around the Seals. Nobles who were both brave and wealthy enough to survive The Greater Seal take every opportunity to publicly urinate through richly adorned pissing horns, kept conspicuously slung under one arm when not in use. In turn, it is equally common for any noble or ambitious bourgeoisie to own one and wear it when in high society, Seal or no Seal.

The nobles, due to these practises, have understandable trouble with procreation. The most common way a new noble is born is through scandalous liaisons between female members of the aristocracy and low-born proles. This process is an entirely traditional and secretly accepted, but openly shunned, practise. One doesn't wish to give the under-classes ideas.

A typical Calipygeon night dockside

Calipyg used to be synonymous with necromancy and self mutilation, with one imagining the dead standing at every corner serving their butchered masters, but the truth falls short. Necromancy is reserved for the royal families, of which there are many, and is primarily used to maintain their own tenuous existence rather than frivoled away on the lesser social orders.

As can be imagined in such a society, magical knowledge is common amongst those who can afford to be tutored in it. It would be terribly shameful, and mark them as someone who works with their hands, to ever admit to not having one jot of necromantic prowess. This has, again, led to much duplicity at parties, with every noble attempting to outboast another with their stupendous age bought at the expense of others.
"Why I'm 200 years old if I'm a day!" 
"Well I consider it to be terribly gauche to count past 100", and so on,

They like to remind those too poor to afford immortality of what is to come

The Blight

But now Jewel of the West it is faced with change. The marsh is deep, nearly impassable, but what good is that against an invader that emerges from the cracks in your streets? In your basements and your palatial garden? The answer is of course none whatsoever. The Blight emerged from their deep mycelium some score of years past and broke the city overnight. 

From beneath, they devour

The city is sealed. Its people are tasked with building a vast tower with no reason given, no sense apparent. The nobility are placated by their conquerors and in turn keep the people in line. A secret police stalk the streets, distinguished only by their loamy smell and the faint hint of tendrils beneath the skin. None come in, none leave, the masses are fed by huge spore-bearing mushrooms. They gather around them each morning and fight for scraps. The nobles maintain a brisk smuggling ring so they may keep up appearances, but that can only last so long. The Blight knows, but they tolerate. They see everything and are content to control and build.

Queen Iacobetta d'Valaseno Taiapetra IV
The Blue Lady

The ruling family of Calipyg were purged, ensuring the nobles had no one to rally behind. In the confusion of the initial invasion there was little time to get the royals to safety, as such most were killed. All except the only son of Queen Iacobetta, the recently ascended Queen Benvenuto.

He now ostensibly leads a resistance, out in the marshes, though no one has seen the young Queen since the purge. Maybe an enterprising courtier took off with the mask and staves, plucking it from the young prince's corpse and becoming the beacon the Blight had hoped to quash in it's founding. What is certain is that the police search for the Blue Lady, uplifting slogans of revolt are scrawled in the public square under the noses of the surveillance bulbs, people whisper Her name in the queues at the spore towers.

The Blight want her dead, Queen or no.

Undercroft Subscriptions

Ok, you've had a post with content, now back to being a dirty attention whore. Short and sweet though.

Look to the right, there is a big red button. That button links to a Patreon that I made in order to create some semblance of an ordered and useful subscription system for The Undercroft while furthering my sinister goal of paying better rates for my precious contributors.

The first issue to benefit from this will be issue #5. The whole thing may or may not work, but I encourage any interested parties to dive in with me and help test the waters. I'm reasonably sure it can't go that wrong.

Tutelage of the Spider God

All hail the wise Arak-Naka! The Weaver, The Spider Father, The Storyteller! Who lairs in the Caves of Small Favours at the heart of the Tertiary Sub-Realm! Ia!

Yes, I am yet again making more magic schools based on the super-fine Wonder & Wickedness (and here). I will eventually cover every peculiar magic source from my campaign, but today we're here, talking about spiders.

Originally this was a small encounter in Dwimmermount that spiralled off into strange and awful places. "The demon will offer anything for the party to spare its life". How about taking our wizard and making her your spidery disciple? Of course. Praise Arak-Naka and his fabulous new follower!


Summon Spider

  1. Spawn of Arak-Naka AKA "Booby Spider"
    About the size of a man's hand. In place of a head and thorax it has a woman's head set back at an angle, as though laughing at the sky. It would be a pretty face if not for the madly rolling eyes and constant whispering of secrets. At its belly you find an array of withered teats from which its young may feed. Do not drink their milk.
  2. Tall spider
    Little more than a black blot and hugely long and spindly legs. Though as tall as a cat it is ineffective in a fight since it is fragile. Merely touching it could snap one of its wispy legs.

    The tall spider can, if not squashed, clamber onto a victim and deposit its eggs beneath the skin. It will at this point die, turning brittle and twig-like, easily brushed away. In d6 turns they will start to hatch. A demonic birth, it doesn't abide by your pety logic, and the spiders (mundane, house varieties) will emerge from every possible opening. Mouth, ears, eyes.
  3. Hoard of spiders
    Small poisonous spiders form roiling mass. They will bite and poison and generally be entirely unpleasant.
  4. Noticeable huge spider
    A spider the size of a Labrador. Stubby legs and enormous fangs. Luckily, it isn't venomous. Unluckily, its fangs are 8 inches long.
  5. Sourbroth Spider
    A single, tiny, yellow spider. Smaller than a pin head, but with a bite that should be feared. It sinks its tiny fangs into flesh, at which point it opens a minuscule gate to the sub-realms and channels its spurious powers. This effort kills the spider, but its effects are most impressive.

    Anyone bitten by the creature must save vs. death or have their insides dissolve and erupt from their orifices like a rudely squeezed raw sausage. A moral save would also probably be in order. Successful save causes 1d6 damage and a nasty rash.
  6. You open a funnel to the sub-realms. Keep rolling until you get another 6. Only the first summons obeys you, though they will not harm you. Your friends however? Eh.

1-5 - They quietly leave when the time is up
6 - They stay as a permanent pet, until killed

Demonic Excretion
Exude a thick mucous, can be excreted to form a web effect, or to climb walls, or just be really gross. The quantity is controllable, where it comes from is not. So, it oozes from your hands, your face, your feet, your bum. Everywhere.

You can chuck it, you can smear it, you can eat it. But you shouldn't.

Speak with Spider
Always works. If there isn't a spider in the vicinity, there is now. It will speak with you as though you were its dark master, Arak-Naka, which is to say it will exchange secrets in a tense transaction. If you ever drop this ruse it will be hostile, or at least rude. Spiders know many secrets and love to tell them.

Spider Babies
Small spiders come to you and cover you in a sack of silk. They drain you of all your juicy juices and scamper off, leaving behind a soggy sack of skin and bones.

You emerge from a huge spider nest D6 days later, naked, stuck to a roof beam in a barn, in the boughs of a tree, in a quiet corner of an alley and so on.

Steal Stories
Distil raw memories from the targets mind. They form like glass globes at the targets forehead and float erratically to the sorcerers outstretched hand.

Save to resist. Failed save results in the subject losing a random memory which can be viewed in the orb. Spiders love these orbs, as does Arak-Naka.

  1. They forget a person, utterly
  2. They forget a detail about themselves, such as their name or job
  3. They forget a period of time (1-5 it's negligible, 6 they lose d10 years)
  4. They forget one specific fact
  5. They forget what's going on right now, leaving them bewildered.
  6. They forget a really useful fact or memory. GM chooses, based on what the players want/need

Chaos for the Fly
Induce hallucinations in others. Bring their memories to the surface so that they take form and confound them.

Save or suffer the affects.

  1. Grief-struck. Paralysed, staring into the distance
  2. Terrified and flees
  3. Angered. Flies into homicidal rage
  4. Happy. Babbles in a dreamlike state at long lost friends
  5. Totally banal. A weak memory, doesn't fo anything other than distract them slightly (-1 to things)
  6. The shock is too much. Save or take 1d8 damage from a heart attack or similar nervous outburt. Roll again.

You produce venom from your mouth parts. This can be spat or injected via bite, and so on.

If you spit it in their face, they must save of be blinded as it melts their eyeballs. Successful saves mean they are blinded for 1 round.

If you bite them they must save or suffer d6 damage per round, (in addition to you having just bit them, you madman). Lasts 1 round per level. If they die to it, please see Sourbroth Spider for the general effects. Morale saves all round.

If you get creative with it the venom lasts for 1 turn per level outside of your body, if stored in an air tight container. Otherwise, 1 round per level.

Whisper story
Spiders know every story. They don't just collect the best ones, but every story, they value them greatly and whisper them to Arak-Naka before they sleep.

You can communicate directly with Arak-Naka with this spell. In exchange for stories he will tell you a Truth. A small truth. A yes or a no, perhaps. The sorcerer must whisper his question and lose a small memory to the Weaver. This takes the form of either D4x100xp or something more appropriate and campaign specific. Possibly they exchange the memory of their husband? Maybe a great loss? Maybe someone else's memory in convenient orbicular form.


Spiders live on you. They nest in your pockets, scamper from your sleeves and live in your hat. Others will occasionally get bitten or otherwise bothered by them.

Thick wiry hairs grow out of you in very obvious and unpleasant ways. Face, armpits, etc.

You grow a fetching set of mandible. You can no longer eat solids and must instead mush food into your face in a very undignified manner.

Contract a gradual transformation like The Fly (but, you know, The Spider). Bits fall off and are replaced with spider bits. Watch The Fly, do that to your players.

You constantly drool thick goo that dries into crusty webbing.

Open a permanent funnel to the realm of Arak-Naka as its legions (of spiders) pour forth.

Local spiders become sapient and conspire against the populace. Constant whispering in the crawl spaces drive people to panic.

Your memories pour over the edge. If you move too suddenly they pour out of you in a thick grey sludge. From your eyes and nose mostly. Save vs. device when suddenly jostled or else they start pouring out and you take d3 turns to gather yourself and stop the flow. If you don't eat up the sludge off the floor you loose d4x100xp

Spider migration. All arachnids within several miles come to this spot. Coat everything in webs, economy shuts down, famine, etc.

A senior spider demon appears. It might be helpful, it probably isn't. It will most likely be nosy, inconsistent and rude. Its objective is to spread the dominion of Arak-Naka which entails lots and lots of spiders, possibly changing the economy into a story-based rather than silver-based one.

The sorcerer is pulled through a 5th dimensional hole by giant spider to feed Arak-Naka. Tough titties.

Spiders wrap you in a silk bed at night. They revere you, you are a Disney Princess of spiders. Other people do not find this endearing.

The Undercroft #4

Watch it slither down mother's leg. Admire the glistening splendour sat squirming on the floor. Look! Barry's here, he couldn't stay away and continues to confuse history with his gentle hand. See here! We employ rules to impart a  paradoxical formlessness, thankyou Lord Inar, or Mr. Gacy to you. Lawks! It's Master Gearing come back from the wars with another monstrosity. Lo! It's the prettiest Princess, come with another troll he claims to be dreamy but I see it for what it is. Each a precious facet of the creature you hold in your arms, a moribund remnant of an effort spent. It only wants to be loved.

But of this, where am I? Nothing in this slick bairn's countenance speaks of the father. A cuckold and a chimera. But I love her and her fathers anyway, and hope you do to.

The Undercroft issue 4, available to purchase now in print and PDF.

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