Category Archives: Appendix O

#SettingPitch: Dwarf Planets, Dwarf Gods

Just a quick idea for a scifi-horror or urban modern fantasy campaign.

DWARF PLANETS, DWARF GODS

Each planet is a god… but only as long as they are revered as planets. Pluto was the gatekeeper of the realms of the dead. Its power was vast, but focused entirely on keeping the vile undying of the extrasolar void away from the worlds of light.

Now? Now Pluto is only a dwarf planet, and thus only a dwarf god. The civilizations of Earth have noticed as things get worse and worse, but don’t understand why. Small vile things from the cosmic true vacuum have been slipping past, and people are affected. But that was just the first cracks. Years have past. Pluto is tiring.

It’s about to get much, much worse. And much, much more obviously supernatural.

The mummies of Mars are rising. The vampiric tombs crawling along Mercury’s dayside are slowing, inching closer to the darkness that can awaken them. The ghoul spores of the world that became the asteroid belt are stirring. The angry Red Specter of Jupiter is awakening, and preparing to burst forth from his cyclonic cage.

The other god planets are preparing to do what they can. To empower people, organizations, and creatures to defend against the growing threat. But each god planet is already has its full attention and power dedicated to other concerns. Jupiter can spare little attention for the Red Specter, else the infernal comets it deflects from life-bearing worlds will smash into the inner system. Saturn’s rings must kept the ecliptic harmonic in balance, lest the constants of the current universe vary.

The god planets will help where they can, but it is humanity that demoted Pluto. It is humanity that must bear the brunt of the consequences.

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The Tragic Atheneum. #WelcometotheArmitage

You can find more information about the mysterious Armitage Building on my Facebook and Twitter, under the hashtag #WelcometotheArmitage. Some other folks have joined in under that hashtag, as well. This is one of several longer pieces I started about the building, but have yet to finish or decide what to do with.

The Tragic Atheneum

On the 10th floor of the eclectic Armitage Building, in room 1016, is the Tragic Atheneum. It’s door is marked with “10*1016” in gold paint, and an image of a quill pen. The door is unlocked from 3 am to 11:11 pm, and no force seems able to get past it when it’s not locked. Those waiting for it to open do not note any sound, or see anyone tending to the door. At 2:59:59 am, it is locked. At 3, it is not.

The Atheneum is one of the biggest rooms in the building, decorated in a heavy, overstuffed Victorian Gothic style. The gold leaf crown molding repeats “10*10*16” endlessly, there’s a small counter no one is ever manning near the only apparent door in or out, there’s no sign of any windows, and the interior is filled with a labyrinth of bookcases and cabinets that you can, literally, become lost in. Here, filed in ways no mortal has yet to comprehend and with constantly shifting positions, is every written book, story, and article that could have been, but wasn’t. There is no staff, but the Atheneum is meticulously clean and maintained. A simple ledger sits at the front counter, marked on the cover with the title “Million-Million-Million-Milton-Monkey-Marginalia” has columns for who is checking out a book, what book is checked out, and when it will be returned.

There’s a 1921 World Victory Pen Company ball point inkwell pen by the ledger. It never runs out of ink, and anyone who takes it out of the room loses it, as it always returns to the counter. Nothing else successfully writes in the ledger.

Faded instructions on a small index card notes at the counter all returned books must be placed on the return table, and no book may be borrowed from the return table. Of course, you books are removed by someone from the return table and refiled, and you can’t always find the same book again. A sign warns that return dates must be within 28 days, by 11:11 pm of the last day, and that tardiness is strictly forbidden. No one at the Armitage knows anyone who has ever been late turning a book back in. A few people who used the Atheneum and were habitually late or disorganized have simply disappeared but no one knows for sure if that is related.

Any print media from the Tragic Atheneum that is taken from the Armitage grounds becomes so faded as to be unreadable, though within the Armitage’s lights the print is perfectly clear. Electronic and recording devices do not record words from Atheneum texts, whether typed in, spoken aloud, or photographed. Written copies of such texts fade immediately if removed from the Armitage, and are not restored upon returning, and fade within weeks regardless.

Nonresidents visiting the Armitage seem unable to find room 1016, even if escorted by a resident. They can see and read texts residents have in their rooms, or any of the many cozy reading nooks, lounges, and studies scattered throughout the building, but only retain information gained in a general way, and never remember any twist or noteworthy conclusion. Residents do, but get a general sense it’d be a bad idea to spread that information around.

Sometimes, alternate version of religious texts are found within the Tragic Atheneum, but they are always bound shut by chain cages, and marked with a tag indicating they are not to be checked out. A few have done so anyway. One of those was last seen fleeing from the lost god’s suite on the 72nd floor.

The others have never been seen again.

#WelcometotheArmitage

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#SettingPitch: “Underground States of America”

Absolutely nothing I release today is going to get any attention whatsoever, given the new playtest for the Worlds Most Popular ttRPG went live this afternoon. So, I am taking this as an opportunity to do whatever I want!

Underground States of America was an idea I had in late 2019, while living in Evansville, Indiana. It sparked with the concept of having subterranean Brain Eaters in a PostApocalyptic setting that everyone was scared of, but turned out to just be Hoosiers who still enjoyed pigbrain sandwiches. From there, I began to think about what the underground in every state would look like and, for no good reason whatsoever, started in Kansas.

I was never sure what I was going to do with this. Thirdparty campaign setting for the spacebased Finder rog I had helped create? Game world for the system I have been working on ever since I thought of the Adventures of the League of Women Spelunkers, in 2016? Actually write a novel like I have meant to for 30 years?

Then I took on other projects, and stopped having time to do anything with this nugget, at least so far. I hope you enjoy this file from my archives.

Nothing here is Open Game Content, this post is not covered by the Open Game License.

U.S.A Underground States of America

No one older than the age of 3 survived whatever sent all of Lebanon, Kansas (including a shockingly large number of politicians, scientists, and military), to flee to Shelter 48, and none of those ever knew what had happened to cause the evacuation. They were raised by clearly-repurposed automated systems, which often tried to pluck eggs from under the children, or check them for Swine Fever. Shelter 48 had canned and powdered food aplenty, power, clothes, tools, medical supplies, movies, novels, manuals… but nothing with a year on it. Very little with name brands. No firearms. No *explanation* of firearms, or gunpowder, or nitro, or fireworks. Lots of bodies, though. Burned, skeletonized, mummified, rotted, and some twisted like they’d been turned to putty, placed in taffy-pulling machines, then dried out into the consistency of old leather.

Still with watches, glasses, nametags, and even money But only pennies, quarters, and golden Sacagawea dollars, all shiny and new when found, and all with XXXX where a date should be.

That first Orphan Generation was big, though no one is sure of the exact number. The best guess is around 5,000 children were in the 100 nurseries when Shelter 48 came online, each with their own Sigil, a small distinct black-line shape on their wrist.

The Big Clock says it’s been 54 years since Shelter 48 came online. And it keeps counting up in years, months, days, hours, minutes, down to thousands of a second which spin by so fast no one can tell if there are actually numbers on those dials. And from 7 pm to 7 am, by the Big Clock, the Main Lights get dimmer and dimmer, though never completely going out, and then brighter and brighter

Very few of the Orphan Generation are still around, but their children and grandchildren, and even a few great-grandchildren are. Every child is born with all the sigils of their parents and grandparents on their wrist. Some great-grandchildren have their great-grandparent’s sigils, some don’t, and some have a few and not others. But you don’t need to check someone’s wrist to know if they share a sigil with you. If you smell a sigilkin, or touch their skin with yours, you have a flood of affection, protection, trust and familiarity fill you. But not sexual attraction. Indeed, the idea of being sexually attracted to your sigilkin is… well, it’s just gross. Nauseating, in fact.

Shelter 48 had numerous huge metal doors. It took a long time to find them all, given the almost-23,000 acres of tunnels, dorms, nurseries, warehouses, sick bays, factories, hydroponics, classrooms, databases, labs, libraries, theaters, parks, air scrubbers, power transformers, jail cells, observation posts, pools, gyms, sports fields, archery ranges, go-cart courses, mushroom farms, indoor skydiving shafts, meat printers, knife dispensaries, pill vendors, obstacle courses, computerized therapy and career guidance offices, pillow pits, quiet rooms, loud rooms, cryogenics repositories, cybersurgery autodocs, insect zoos, suicide booths, 21+ robot-monitored red-light halls and toy rentals, thumbprint-coded safety deposit boxes, courtrooms, trial-by-combat rooms, companion animal adoption centers, snorkeling courses, self-serve horrorhelm and deprivation stations, psionic activation chambers, and the periodic weirdly lit dodecahedral-shaped RONKUs (Rooms Of No Known Use).

None of them opened easily. But over 5 decades, with books and screens and machine shops, most of them have been forced open or torn apart. None lead up. Indeed, nothing found ever even suggests there *is* an “up.” But there are more tunnels, and chambers, and shelters, including those that claim to be located under Caldwell, Ellsworth, Kansas City, Lincoln, Leavenworth, Douglass, Fort Scott, and Wichita. Sadly, none of those have done as well as Shelter 48. Shelter 16 under Caldwell is the source of endless corpses (human and otherwise) infected and animated by weird fungi. Shelter 67 under Leavenworth has turned to cannibalistic warfare between 7 factions. Shelter 104 under Witchita, the largest encountered to date, is a dangerous ruin of run-amok robotics, carnivorous roaches, mole-boars, psionic ant colonies, and apparently one madman called Rawhand wearing a Richard Nixon mask and attacking people with an atomic-battery-equipped power drill he carries in massive, gnarled, skinless hands.

Several smaller Shelters simply had their populations fail to thrive as well as Shelter 48, and survive by trade and hiring out as mercenaries, workers, and anything else they are willing to be paid for. Some non-shelter Chambers have been turned into homesteads by groups fleeing on failed Shelter or another, or decided to carve their own way rather than bow to whatever ruling party controlled their point of origin.

Outside the Shelters and Homesteads, are thousands of rooms, tunnels, caves, and waterways both natural and man-made crossing an area of at least 90,000 square miles, all underground. Not only has it not all been mapped, but cave-ins often block old paths, and sometimes open new ones. Ancient, apparently indestructible and self-motived digger machines called Zom-bore-nies bore out new tunnels, or clear obstructions… apparently at random. Sometimes, a floor gives way, to reveal part of another level lower down.

There are the Long Ducts, which stretch so far from the edge of the known Underground that no one has gotten to the end of them and returned. Long ducts are often collections of related and interconnected tunnels and shafts, all running parallel. They are also often overrun by caustic slime-molds, scavenger gangs, raider camps, and the hallucinogenic electrified twisted vine-cables that someone dubbed Black Lotus, and which no Shelter book gives any information about.

There are the Dropshafts, that lead down. Some Dropshafts obviously lead to warehouses, and have Homesteads set up to control them, or outposts of more violent Shelters. Others go so far down, no rope anyone has found or crafted can bear the weight of a person to go far enough to reach the bottom. Most softly blow fresh, cold air. Some belch gray stinging fog. At least one smells of brimstone, and is guarded by batwinged cyborg mandrake roots. New Dropshafts have been showing up more frequently of late, sometimes with a floorplate just disappearing one day, and a new shaft replacing it.

There are rumors of new groups being spotted, claiming to be from Her Royal Majesty’s Subterranean Expeditionary Force, or Empire State Bunker AA-5. Some objects with markings like that show up in the hands of roving junk dealers, but most folks assume they’re fakes.

Though the Empire State thing that might have been a pistol, once, sure got everyone’s attention.

No one much cares how any of this came about. The few who do haven’t found any good explanations, just more questions. But it is what it is. These are the Underground States of America. This is your world.

The past is the past. What are you going to do to ensure your future?

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Principalities taken from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Byzantium Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Circa Age 13). Part One.

I discussed the Byzantium Notebook, and its cosmology, in an earlier entry. This is a list of seven of the 14 “major principalities” listed throughout the Byzantium Notebook. I’ll get to the other seven sometime next week.

It’s worth noting that despite begin designed for some very common class/level fantasy ttRPGs, the Principalities offered here are not described in terms of alignment, good or evil, or churches. It’s clear from the notebook that Principalities grant power to those who advance their causes, and their ethics and morality are very different from most mortal societies. Individual religions and churches may well lean toward some specific aspect of a Principality, but they can and do oppose each other as readily as they opposed organized churches revering other Principalities. Especially within the campaign-focused region of the “Commonlands,” organized religion tends to be as varied and local as the city-states that are the majority of the powerful nation-states. Further, Principalities tend to reserve their direct punishments for those who have passed on to the afterlife, so posing as a priest of a given Principality may be foolish, no divine retribution strikes down those living mortals who attempt it.

All art in this article is by warmtail.

Avergentis

Avergentis is the Principality of striking down evil, falsehood, corruption, and greed. She is portrayed in crimson, gold, and black as a women in armor, and always in motion, for to Avergentis to see evil and fail to oppose it as best you can is as great a sin as acting toward evil yourself. Her followers rarely attempt to convert others or give sermons, preferring instead to show by example how their active lives make the world a better place. Nothing angers Avergentis more than using false humility or honor to hide a corrupt or despicable course of action, and lands where her worship is allowed openly require their rich and powerful to consider carefully the consequences of having her faithful within their realms.

The Heartflock

The Heartflock is the Principality of the susurrations of a group of birds in flight, the course of driftwood across the ocean, and the feeling of joy brought by the first fresh air carried by the wind into places of ash and decay. The Heartflock is not anthropomorphized, depicted as a central eye within a ring of divinatory runes, or natural forces in coordinated movement. Followers of the Heartflock seek to protect both the patterns of natural life, but also the stirring of the soul brought about by such things. The Heartflock opposes stagnation, disruption of the interconnected elements of the natural world, and despair. Most worshipers of the Heartflock do not build temples, and have traditions that are very local and connected to their own environment.

Marugal

Marugal is the Martyred Angel, Principal of birth, bravery, dignity, healing, lingering wounds, love, masks, pain, parenting, long-term planning, sacrifice, scars, remembrance, winter, and righteous wrath at those who betray trust. She took on the wounds of the seasons, compressing them into just the time of winter, that spring, summer, and autumn might exist. She accepts all those who sacrifice for others, and opposed those who waste sacrifices made for them, or use trickery or manipulation to cause others to sacrifice for them under false pretenses. She is the Principality of those suffering uncurable wounds and pain, not to glorify pain, but to acknowledge the cost required to bear it.

The North Wind

The North Wind is the oldest of the Seven Winds, and among the oldest of the Principalities. He is normally depicted as a blue face in a complex burst of spiraling tendrils. The North Wind is the Principality of free movement and free choice, trade, sailing, the cold, weather, storms, clouds, silver, amber, and leaving your childhood either physically or metaphorically. His followers prefer slow, constant action to sudden bursts of activity, but in extreme cases are willing to play the part of cleansing storm leveling everything old so new growth can come. They are keepers of chronicles of seasons and bloodlines, and violently opposed to imprisonment, slavery, and coercion of any kind.

Plautaurch

Plautaurch is the Principality of the sea and oceans, the tides, waves, currents, the great depths, darkness, the unseen, life, risk, divination, gambling, and the downfall of mighty things. He is depicted as existing to two parts, a mighty green elf warrior with a crown of coral, and a hippogriff with emerald scales and an alicorn, which may appear jointly or separately. His worship is almost exclusive to diviners, sailors, and gamblers, who often seek to learn his secrets and/or appease him as much as they seek to spread his glory.

Uhr

Uhr is the Progenitor of Dragons, the Father of Fire, and the Mother of Tooth and Claw. Uhr seeks and respects only power, and demands its followers do the same. To see Uhr is to have every other image wiped from your sight forever, and “May You Look Upon the Face of Uhr” is a powerful profanity. Uhr’s image is never complete, for to depict all of Uhr would risk the wrath of the First Dragon, and anyone daring to carve or paint even just part of Uhr strives to make the image a horrific and strong as possible. Uhr rewards might with greater might, but punishes those foolish enough to gain more power than they can protect. The Clawed Shield is an order of defenders sworn to Uhr, for they believe in offering defense-for-hire they can gather greater power without provoking a coalition to bring about their downfall. The Draconex was an ancient sorcerer-warlord of Uhr who sought to conquer the world to gain ultimate power, and was defeated by the first Duck Kingdoms. The soul of the Draconex burns forever in the hellfire gut of Uhr as punishment for gaining the most power of any mortal ever, yet being defeated.

Wrogan

Wrogan is the Warhound, the Iron Fist, and the Smith of Battle. He is the Principality of conflict, warfare, crafting, smithing, walls, gates, prisons, tactics, obedience, animal husbandry, riding, and commanding respect. He promotes all things that can advance the art of warfare, and promotes warfare as the force that promotes all other arts and knowledge. His worship is more common among nobles, generals, and craftsmen than warfighters and knights. An important part of his teachings is that war must serve a purpose–the application of force is pointless unless it bring about change. Just as randomly heating metal and smashing it with rocks is not blacksmithing, to Wrogan randomly killing or doing so for sport of pleasure is not warfare.

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

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Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Byzantium Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Circa Age 13)

Excerpts from another of the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hayes.  The Byzantium Notebook is particularly interesting because while the core of it was written in one school year (and, I would guess, a school year when Ben-Derek Hayes was learning some basics of Humanities, Classics, Philosophy, and/or some similar coursework), numerous expansions on its core concepts have been scribbled on scraps of notepaper, ridiculously long pharmacy receipts, and birthday cards and folded into the larger notebook. None of these are dated, so I cannot expand the age at which Ben-Derek Hayes wrote them, but pretty clearly this was a working notebook throughout years of campaign-running and worldbuilding.

Among other things, the notebook’s early focus on who the gods of various regions and species and cultures are, and what agents serve those gods, slowly expands out to be a whole (and if not unique, at the least unusual) cosmology designed to allow for all the elements Ben-Derek Hayes wants in his fantasy ttRPG campaigns. As the cosmology evolves it gets rewritten, in whole or part, over and over. Some old versions are relabeled as heresies (the Tsarnuk Hersey of One Principality being the earliest example of this). While I have only copied out sections of cosmology that seem to be the “final” take in the Byzantium Notebook, stitching together from various corrected sections as best i can, I must say I adore the idea of taking old worldbuidling ideas and reusing them as heresy and incorrect world theories. If there are people in the real world who insist the planet is flat, then surely other crackpot ideas are going to take root in something as gonzo as a multispecies, multiplanar, multideity fantasy realm.

The illustrations in this notebook were images clipped from various magazines, often collaged together, and definitely focused on being cool and interesting to a 13-15 year old, rather than appropriate for publication. I have done my best to be true to the spirit of those pasteup pictures using the art of Warmtail.

COSMOLOGY

In the beginning, there was nothingness. As that is all there was it was also, perforce, everything. The Nothingness was content to be nothing and everything, for there was no difference to the Nothingness. But much as we can be of two minds, so too was duality part of everything, and thus part of the Nothingness. The two most potent dualities were the Possible and the Impossible. Time did not exist, so there is no way to describe or even comprehend “how long” the Possible and Impossible coexisting within the Nothingness that was both all and naught.

As an aside — despite being before time, this state is sometimes referred to as the Pristine Epoch, for there was no conflict, no pain, no anger. When a lahki strives to achieve perfection through a return to the Pristine Epoch, what they are trying to do is bring total destruction, for if there was nothing, there would be Nothingness, and thus everything. Lahki are, of course, driven my mortal minds, and mortal minds cannot comprehend the Nothingness from before time. Thus, all lahki seeing to bring about the Pristine Epoch are ruled by idiots, charlatans, or madmen.

How or why the Possible and Impossible came into conflict within the Nothingness is just as unanswerable as “when” it happened, but at the moment time began, the two were already locked in a struggle that was ancient and exhausting. It is impossible to say if the Possible was stronger by nature of being Possible, or if that appellation was only granted to it because it won, but within the Nothingness the Possible came to be Everything, and the Impossible was locked away behind the Outer Brane, the thin fabric that separate the morphic and often unlikely Outer Planes from the Grand Koas beyond it. And, even as the Possible grew, developed, and evolved, the Grand Kaos did so as well, despute being Impossible and not properly existing, and it is from this came the Kaos Gods, the urges that lost the first conflict and which do not exist, but wish to exist with such strength that their incomprehensible, noisome, disquieting nature still influences the Possible reality.

Because they were the first Possible things, every elder concept became the ultimate expression of that concept. These are better known as Gods, but it is again a mistake to think of gods in terms mortal minds can grasp. The God that formed from the concept of time is only and purely time. It is in no part thought, patience, desire, concern, or action. The Ur-Time is a god, and as a god it is everything but only what makes up time, and does nothing time does not.

Gods, in short, do not want anything, or work toward anything, in any way a mortal can comprehend. They change, but on scales and in ways unknowable and unnoticeable to anything comprised even partially of flesh, blood, skin, bone, thought, breath, emotion, life, or death. Gods are distinct and different from even the mightiest of angel, oldest of devil, or reality-bending draconic sorcerer psionic ninja, in that they literally cannot be even partially perceived, affected, damaged, or influences by a creature with any of the mortal traits. This naturally leads some mortals to shrug and say Gods must not exist, because no magic, lore, ritual, relic, technology, or ability that can be accessed at any level, in any way, can interact with a God at all.

And, fair enough.

However, the Gods can interact with creatures comprise exclusively of essences such as the concept sthat make up the Gods themselves, but are each a blend of essences. Still entirely beyond the understanding of any mortal, these entites can have urges, desires, and plans, for while one may be made of the essential essence that is time, it can also have swirls of forethought, regret, age, ancestry, and dozens of other concepts adjacent to time. The God time is only time, but there are a dozen, or a billion, lesser coalescents of only essence that bring more concepts to time, so that they can do more than just those things time can do.

These are known as the Principalities, and while no mortal can directly speak with or trily understand a Principality, the most powerful of mortal endeavors — the work of ancient artifacts, archmagics, philosophical constructs of a thousand generations — can influence and be influenced by Principalities. Such interaction is as no more than the flutter of a butterfly’s wings on a charging bull, and only a tiny fraction of all mortal who shall ever exist can reach the enlightenment and empowerment needed for even the briefest of such overlaps, but it is real, tangible, measurable, and recorded. And, the Principalities can easily interact with those creatures which sit outside the laws of gross matter. Such “outsiders,” including angels, archons, demons, devils, aeons, and a few or unnumbered more, are in part the wisps of the Principalities’ essences that have leaked free of their purified state to blend with planar energies. Angels are not just creatures native to the outer planes, they are in part the tracery of Principalities’ energies themselves, and thus naturally align with and sere those Principalities from whence they came.

Disbelief in Principalities exists among mortals, but it is far less common than disbelief in gods. Indeed, most mortals skeptical of the existence of Gods ask why anyone would think to invent a level of entity entirely beyond mortal comprehension in any measure, when Principalities can be proven to exit, and anything some belief systems ascribed to gods could, instead, be the work of Principalities. Indeed, many belief systems do focus primarily on Principalities, though such systems aren’t mainstream in the Commonlands.

It is, however, to worship Principalities by name and treat them as gods, even when it is understood that the true gods are an unknowable, incomprehensible level above Principalities. Gods are omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, and omnibivalent. They have no limitations, but also no driving force. Principalities, conversely, are of a power and scope literally beyond measure, but not truly infinite. Similarly, while Gods never work together, nor ever oppose one another, principalities can and do all the time. Often their limitations seem reasonable — Urgar-Mawt, the King of Crows, is a Principality of death, the underworld, rulers, horns, crowns, night, black feathers, black clouds, and storms; the fact his angels cannot be summoned into daylight except at a grave seems reasonable given his essential connections.

(The King of Crows. Art by Warmtail)

In other cases the powers, limitations, and preferences of a Principality or their outsiders and worshipers feels entirely random and arbitrary. Anath’al, the Witchwife, is the Principality of witchcraft, secrets, silence, sex, research, poison, change, finding truth, passion, pain, and patience. Why, then, will she not harm children, and randomly grants entirely common folk the service of seven of her witches as lovers and advisors for seven years, as long as they agree to neither marry nor bring forth children of their own in this time?

No one knows, or if they do, they aren’t telling.

(Anath-al. Art by Warmtail)

Those Principalities are too far from mortal entities to mix or interact with them in any typical way, they can consort with the most powerful of outsiders. Whether this is truly breeding as living creatures see it, or more some kind of guided evolution, the fact remains that sometimes archangels, elemental dukes, demons princes, aeon magisters, and similar entities do sometimes produce offspring with Principalities. These creatures are often thought of as “lesser gods” (though Lesser Principalities would be a far more accurate description), and are sometimes worshiped in their own right. These Lesser Gods also can interact directly with mortals, and some seem to have been created specifically to do so. The Dragon Empress of Varghun is a good example of this, her 1,000-year reign definitely moving forward the goals of the Wyrm God that spawned her with a Demon Princess.

Should a Lesser God mate with a mortal, the end result is always extraordinary in some way, with demigods, godlings, heroes, paragons and abominations all possible.

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

Patreon

Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Indigo Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Ages 14-17)

Excerpts from another of the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hayes. This one is exclusively “Worstiary” entries (“Like a Bestiary, but the monsters are even worse!”), and indeed is exclusively creatures created through “Menagermancy,” which appears to be a lost school of magic practiced by the Nightfall Empires and People From Before the First Dawn. Also unlike the majority of the Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes, there is a range of ages listed on this one. Many entries have a cruder drawing that seems to be their original illustration, and then more photo-mash-up looking examples pasted in later “for art reference” when the “publishers come knocking.”

So, adapting the original sketches and later art-references of the hybrid creatures found in the Commonlands* calls for a different art style than previously used. For this task, the art of Marinavorona has been used in this article. While there are dozens of hybrid creatures in the Indigo Book, I have selected three that I particularly enjoy for this excerpt.

*Apparently, according to a note I found with the Arktos entry, the Commonlands are “Those lands held “in common” by the original city-states of the Dwarven, Elven, Human Alliance [“Dehallia”]. While those City-states have mostly expanded into kingdoms [or collapsed], the Commonlands are not allowed to have any government bigger than a single city and what can be hit by a bowshot from its walls. This is supposed to ensure freedom of people in the Commonlands from invasion or conquest by foreign cultures, but in practice actually means the various Dehallia kingdoms are constantly fighting and maneuvering and scheming to gain more control over the various smaller governments, and their alliances and factions which try to bypass the government-size restrictions. This vicious and constant backbiting, ignoring of other more serious threats, and constant digging into older layers and accidentally unleashing things is why the vocation of “Adventurer” is considered normal within the Commonlands, despite being almost unknown elsewhere.”

Arktos

The Arktos is the Beast of the North, also known as the Ursapard, Winter Warden and King of the Midnight Sun. An Arktos has the head and antlers of a caribou, body of a polar bear, and tail of a snow leopard. They are extremely intelligent, but have utterly un-humanoid interests and concerns. They can live for centuries, some learn druidic magic, and they are extremely territorial.

(Arktos)

An Arktos thinks nothing of eating other thinking creatures, and is not offended when other creatures try to eat it. What they do mind is anything that makes major changes to what they consider their territory. However, packs of Arktos sometimes prowl over a circuit that takes 10-20 years to complete. When Commonlands settlements expand hunting, logging, or even building further north, sometimes they discover years after doing so the area is considered claimed by an Arktos pack, which is merciless in driving out what it sees as “invaders.”

Some older Arktos grow black lichen on their horns. They are shunned by others of their kind, sometimes practice necromancy, and usually end up going on killing sprees southward until put down.

The Klaken

(The Klaken)

The Klaken has the forebody of a lobster, but a series of tentacles instead of a tail. The Klaken prefer to eat seafood that comes from a hard shell, for unknown reasons, causing them to attack other shellfish, the armored WhaleGods… and ships. A Klaken can eat x5 its body weight in a day, but can also go for years in a form of torpor when food is more scarce, waking during storms to see what has been churned up by the thunder and rough seas.

Unlike most creatures that top out at Apocalypse -tier, the Klaken can grow to Kaiju and even Daikaiju tiers. Indeed, Klaken continue to grow in both size and intelligence as they age, with many Dusk Kingdoms have rules about how big a Klaken you can eat (though the Dehallia have no such restrictions), with a length of 118-157 inches being typical cutoff points.

Magnificat

The species commonly known as Magnifcats are technically “peafelines,” brightly-colored felines with the wings, talons, and tail plumage of peafowls. Magnificats come in a range of colors, and unlike peafowls feather patterns can be bland or bold regardless of gender. White, cream, and calico Magnificats are most often female, and males are much more likely to be almost exclusively red, orange, gold, black, or azure in color, with multicolor male cats rarer.

The talons of the Magnificat are deceptively long and dangerous. When “retracted” the tips remain visible (though canted upwards, allowing the peafeline to softly push with its paws without causing injury. However, the claws can still “extend” from that position, making them x3 to x4 larger than those of a typical cat of the same size. They are also of much stronger material than most animals, and Magnificats do claw damage as if they were two size categories larger than their true size.

Magnficats are on the same intelligence and power scale as pseudodragons, imps, and quasits. rather than the powers of those creatures, Magnificats can use their tail-display to dazzle, confuse, stagger, or even blind and stun. They make amazing familiar, but rather than being selected by a spellcaster, a Magnificat forges a familiar bond with whoever it wants to, weather mage or not, and with no warning. Some families host colonies of Magnificats at their homes or lands in the hopes their children will be so familiarized. When asked why they bother, most Magnificats just claim they like having someone nearby who has thumbs.

(Peafeline, aka “Magnificat”)

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

Patreon

Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Caput Mortuum Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 16)

Excerpts from another of the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hayes. This one is from a few years later in Hayes’ career, and it’s clear from both the use of “caput mortuum” to describe a purple-brown spiral notebook color, and the periodic notes in margins about Greek architecture, the Roman Empire, the “missing Sea Peoples,” and pop quiz dates that out author wrote much of this while taking ancient history and Humanities courses in public school. As before, the art of Zdenek Sasek attempts to capture the essence of Hayes’ art sketches, which show real improvement since his earliest notebooks.

While the idea of wargates and other “typical” categories of trapped items is fascinating, I actually chose to showcase this excerpt because of the worldbuilding hinted at, with multi-species empires fighting and collapsing, apparent categories of societies based on how “new in the day” they are, and some shade thrown at classic “fantasy good guy” lands rules by dwarves, elves, and humans. I hope to find more information on these topics as I go through the notebooks, but it looks like it is scattered throughout the last few years of notebooks, and may take considerable compiling and revising before a clear picture of this fantasy world (which, if it has a name, I have not found yet) becomes clear.

Even so, the deep mix of the familiar, the gonzo, and the unexpectedly reasonable in this excerpt reminds me of my earliest days as a GM, and takes my breath away.

WARDGATES

Wardgates are one of the Seven Typically Trapped Things -7TTT- along with chests, forbiddings, holdouts, panopticons, necropolises, and sarcophagi. As long as appropriate knowledge/lore checks or recon reveals something to be one of the 7TTT, characters automatically get to search for traps without the player having to say so. If something isn’t a 7TTT, and is trapped (THIS IS RARE – NO MORE THAN ONCE PER STORY ARC) you still get such automatic checks but at -5 (unless you have a power to allow you to always be trapfinding), in which case you do not. Players never need to (or get to) slow down the game by asking if things are trapped, but also never get penalized for not thinking to ask if every single thing is trapped — all trapchecking rolls are called for by the GM, though research and study of an area in advance can grant checks to know if there are 7TTT or Rare Other Traps present.

Wardgates originated with Gaub-Algen Empire, before it’s destruction at the hands of the Dwarf/Elf/Human Alliance (or Dehallia) [which created the Dehallia prejudice against all Gaub-Algen, or “goblins” including orcs, goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, ogres, giants*, trolls, knuckies (the mammalian of the two races both wrongly called “kobolds” by Dehallian sources), draugh (or “dark elves” which can be any color but have much longer ears making them “obviously” degenerate and inferior to High Elf/Wood Elf standards)], and like many things Gaub-Algenian has been adopted by most of the Dawn Kingdoms, and no small number of Noon Kingdoms and even a few Dusk Empires.

*Technically not the Fomorians — athatch, cyclops, ettins, and firbolgs, who were part of the Giganarchy which opposed and was destroyed by Gaub-Algen prior to the DEH Alliance taking down the Empire — nor the Nephilim — oni, rakshasa, titans, and other part-angelic creatures, who are still quite in power to the Far West in Muthuul-Danleib and only some of which come far enough east to hit the Commonlands and run into adventurers. But most Dehallia sources don’t bother to differentiate between types of giants.

Wardgates were used as large, impressive entrances to important places. They would often be open and safe, but could be both locked, and locked as “armed” (meaning the trap is set to go off). The function of a wardgate is multifold. First, it is a symbol of power — look, see, we have entrances that can defend themselves! Second, when locked and activated it serves as an unmanned line of defense — likely not enough to stop a rampaging beetlephant or pyrosaurus rex, but something that hurts them, may drive off less sapient monsters, and delays or slows them while the guard/army/magic missile-only brigade prepares a defense in-depth. Third it can be a crowd control deterrent — no one wants to riot in Upper Silverholt because the Royal Elven Wardgate might be closed, making it difficult for anyone to get home. Fourth, they can be tested in the name of local defense, but thus showing off how advanced your kingdom’s flaming poisoned caltrop launchers have become as a form of international saber-rattling.

Since most of those functions require people to know a wardgate is a wardgate, they tend to be big, conspicuous, and obviously something more than just a hole in their connected wall. Of course, wargates from different cultures are marked differently, so especially when dealing with Dusk or Nightfall Kingdoms, cultural/historical knowledge/lore is helpful when identifying them. Even so, if when crawling through an Nightfall Ruin, if an archway has a fanged face worked into its keystone, and that turns out to be a wardgate, it’s easy enough to treat all future portals with fanged-face-keystones as potentially trapped.

Some typical wardgate traps:

INSTANT ROCKFALL: Crude, yet effective, the instant rockfall is built so a defender inside the attached wall (or a watchtower for slightly more advanced versions) can hammer loose a brake, dropping a weighted chain down a shaft, causing the chain to pull free lynchpins within the wardgate, so it collapses. This is a one-use wardgate that literally requires it to be rebuilt after each use, so they are almost always only observer-triggered. Thus difficult to disarm. In ruins an instant rockfall is only dangerous because the lynchpins may be rusted or missing, thus a strong shock (like a fireball) can cause it to collapse more easily than surrounding ruined sections.

HELLGATE: A hellgate is a form of iron portcullis made of hollow, perforated metal with spaces at the bottom for Greek fire. Arming it requires placing the Greek fire in the slots, and then if it is dropped (rather than slowly lowered) the Greek fire vials break, the hollow grille works as a chimeny, and the whole gate and an area around it bursts into fire. More advanced hellgates may also have ways to add agents through the hollow grille from above, ranging from oil (to keep the fires going), smoking/tear gas agents, and even fire-elemental-summoning-stones.

(Hellgate)

SPIN SCYTHECLE: A spin scythecle has blades on spinning wheels mounted low that can rotate out and cut everyone off at the knee. The gearworks are generally driven by weights on chains, and thus have limited runtimes, but more advanced versions can be powered by waterwheels, or have backuphampster-wheel power to extend runtime once activated.

WALLCRUSHER: The wardgate is a short corridor, and the sides are under pressure, often from counterbalanced gears and shafts. When closed, it is armed by the door being broken. Once armed, any pressure on the center of the corridor released the spiked walls. After the walls crush, they form two new narrower hallways, allowing counterattacks to be launched. Damage, area, escape difficulty all scale with level. Setting it off when disarming tends not to damage trapwright, but it’s loud as heck.

(Wallcrusher)

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to the end of the first Horrors & Heroes post, so serve as an Index for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

Patreon

Obviously this kind of undertaking requires resources! If you wish to support me in developing “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” please join my Patreon, or drop a cup of support in my Ko-Fi.

Excerpt from “The Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” the Brown Notebook, by Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12)

From time to time there come into my possession works by gamers who, for whatever reason, have not previously received the level of exposure and appreciation they deserve. Such is the case in the “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes” by Ben-Derek Hays. These notebooks were sent to me mysteriously and anonymously, with no known provenance, but clear instructions for me to make what I could of them and legal papers freeing me from my normal concern for looking at unsolicited submissions. All effort to find the original author have, as thus, failed.

Somewhat chaotic as a first draft, these notebooks of varying size and composition range over a number of years and are color-coded in a system I have yet to fully grasp. But there is no doubt that mixed in with the raw exuberance and untested systems, there are sparks of true genius in these books. As they sit in my care now I shall, as editor and chronicler tasked with compiling these disparate nuggets of raw creativity into some cogent, playable form, from time to time offer excerpts of partially-developed material taken from one or more of the notebooks. A each is color coded and marked with the age of the author (though it is unclear if this is the age when a notebook is begun, or when it is finished, or some other relevant date), I’ll include such information in these entries when I can.

This is very much a work-in-progress, as development is going to be a lengthy process undertaken in stages. For example, for the moment I am correcting spelling and doing my best to ensure sentences are complete and can be parsed, but am otherwise not altering the content of the entries I am previewing here. Similarly, Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12) provided many illustrations in the Brown Notebook, which are clearly intended as just sketch stages (with notes such as “draw better,” “Pay real artist to make this ozsome,” and “get gud” scrawled next to many), but at the same time I feel the general style used for each picture carries important content and tone. While the illustrations in this article are all by Zdenek Sasek, I have endeavored to ensure they capture the spirit of the original sketches as closely as possible

The material presented today is not only all from The Brown Notebook (Age 12), the selected entries are all marked as being from a theoretical “Worstiary” (which, it is noted in a few entries, is “Like a Bestiary, but the things in it are Worse”). I’m not yet sure if the Worstiary is a separate notebook, from which some data was copied, or if the intent was to someday compile the monsters from the Brown Notebook into a formal Horrors & Heroes Worstiary. Indeed, it’s not clear to me if Horrors & Heroes was intended as a stand-alone game system, a supplement for some specific game (or chimera of multiple similar game systems), or a truly audacious attempt to create a supplement that works with any ttRPG.

But those organizational concerns are by burden to bear. You may simply sit back, and bask in the unfettered imagination of Ben-Derek Hayes (Age 12).

Your humble editor and appointed Horrors & Heroes developer, Owen K.C. Stephens

Man of Arms

(Man of Arms)

A Man of Arms is a zombie thing made of nothing but people arms stitched together. It has no head, but it’s body, legs, and arms are made of lots of different arms. It can move as fast when prone as when standing by doing that creepy stop-motion-skittering thing from cable horror movies.

Other than being undead, a man of arms is just 1d4+1 humanoid monsters that only move once a round, but get to make attacks and do other things as often as that many people would. So a Man of Arms made of 3 people moves once, but has initiative and actions for 3 people. All damage goes to the people making it up one at a time, and when you kill one, you’ve hacked off that many arms (so it attacks less and stuff). With no heads they can’t hear or see things and are immune to gazes and songs, but still fight good (but maybe not any ranged attacks since that would be dumb).

Any treasure a Man of Arms has should be a cool weapon some Hero can use.

Scare Bear

(Scare Bear)

A scare bear is like a normal bear (or a Dire, Fel, or Apocalypse Bear for higher-level fights), but it has the Direful Howl. Whenever the scare bear sees things but doesn’t attack for a round, or anytime it takes damage or fails a save against an effect, it howls (not an action, just happens). All creatures within 6561.68 feet must save against fear or be more frightened than they were before. You can only be less frightened by running away from the scare bear for a round, killing it, or successfully saying something witty about fear or bears (must roll as high as the scare bear’s Direful Howl save). Which means Scare Bears can understand any language, I guess, so they’re magic too.

Scare bears are big and shaggy, and their eyes glow scary colors, which means even if they use Stealth you know there’s something with glowing eyes in their space.

Scare bears were created through Menagermancy by Udek-Kai the Unliked. One of the People From Before the First Dawn, Udek-Kai grew the Gardens of All Feeling, and made Scare Bears to scare off thieves and kids and crows and stuff. The Gardens of All Feeling also were home to the Fel Scorpionbees, who are immune to fear and make the Eternal Honey, so Scare Bears never got hungry or aged. When the Gardens were burned in the First Day War, the scare bears scattered and changed. They are still drawn to the few remaining Feeling Plants, especially Orchids of Sadness, Roses of Love, and the tiny, delicate Clover of Wondering if Someone Likes You.

Marginal Ideas

Literally ideas written in the margins of the notebook. Some of these may have longer writeups or sketches in later notebooks, which would supersede these short descriptions.

Eye Bug: An eye bug is a big round beetle that crawls into your face when you are sleeping, and eats one of your eyes without you feeling it. To make sure you don’t dig it out, it looks cool and gives you better vision so you can see ghosts and invisible hobbits and traps and stuff. When you cry, microscopic eye bug eggs flow away in your tears and grow up to eat other people’s eyes.

Hangman’s Kite: Sometimes when a kite gets stuck in a hangman’s tree and abandoned, it absorbs the mean from the dead people in the tree. It turns its string into a hangman’s noose, and goes flying looking for people to choke and pull up into the sky by their neck.

(Hangman’s Kite)

Web Kittens: The size of kittens, but with two tails and six spider legs (ending in kitten-paws) rather than normal kitten legs. Can make webs, but normally only do so to form their own balls to play with. Venomous, but their venom makes you love them and want to take care of them. Popular as pets, but illegal in many fortresses and valleys.

Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes Index

As I translate and post more excerpts from these amazing analects of creativity, I’ll post the links to future articles here, so serve as repository for all the Horrors & Heroes content.

The Caput Mortuum Notebook (Age 16) – Wardgates, explanation of the Seven Typically Trapped Things, notes on the Gaub-Algen Empire (“goblins”), the Dwarf/Elf/Human Alliance (or Dehallia), Dawn, Noon, Dusk, and Nightfall Empires, Giganarchy, the “Far West” of Muthuul-Danleiband, and the Commonlands. Namedrops beetlephant and pyrosaurus rex.

The Brown Notebook (Age 12) – This page! Monsters from the Worstiary.

The Byzantium Notebook (Age 13+) – Cosmology including Gods, principalities, Lesser Gods, and Demigods. Mentioned – Urgar-Mawt, the King of Crows; Anath’al, the Witchwife; Dragon Empress of Varghun; Wyrm God.
(Second Entry) Major Principles – Avergentis, the Heartflock, Marugal, the North Wind, Plautaurch, Uhr, Wrogan.
(Third Entry) The Seven Winds: The North Wind, the South Wind, the Rogue Wind, the East Wind, the Tea Wind, the West Wind, the Death Wind.

The Indigo Notebook (Ages 14-17) – More Worstiary entries (Arktos, the Klaken, Magnificat), and some notes on the Commonlands.

Patreon

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The Diary of Ardra Maias

“Of course, Doctor Frankenstein did not begin his work with human corpses. Not for ethical reasons, you understand, but simply because they were difficult to acquire, and until his work progressed to a stage where human trials were needed, there was no point.

“His earliest experiments on revivification were on marmots, easily bought from trappers near his family’s Swiss home. There were far more failures than successes, of course, and were it my preview I would condemn the man to perdition on the basis of what he did to those alone.

“Even so, in time he brought a marmot to life, indeed my current companion Vivo is that first, fully-revived marmot, though in Vivo’s case no surgery had been needed. The Doctor had killed him under exacting conditions, and revivified him moments later.

“I have often marveled at Vivo, for while he has all the robustness and vitality of all we mortiborn, unlike the majority of us he is a peaceful, caring creature. Well capable of defeating a predator ten times his mass, Vivo would prefer affection to affrontation. Bless him.

“But from there, the hubristic doctor did decide he must move to primates, if not yet humans, to perfect his procedure. No large primates being common in Italy or Switzerland, he had to order them bespoke. But hunting expeditions to Borneo were common enough, and he was rich.

“Indeed, I am unsure how many evils would never have been visited upon this world had the Frankenstein family not been one of vast resource and reputation. In the century-and-on of my existence, I have found more evils traced to rich, well-respected men than any other beast.

“So, vile Frankenstein had no difficulty having Indonesian and Malaysian orangutans captured and brought to him. It was thought perhaps he wanted a menagerie, such as at London’s Exeter Exchange. Many were sick and died after arrival, but that too suited his needs.

“I am uncertain how many of my distant cousins, living or dead, he constructed me from. Close examination of my form and logic dictates no less than seven, but without taking my internal organs apart — an act I have always objected to — an exact accounting is impossible.

“I have been told, repeatedly, by anatomists that my brain, at least, must be human, rather than native to my orangutan skull. This is argued that because I can talk, and reason, I cannot be a mere ape. Of my speech, I will grant, the doctor most likely used some human parts.

“But my reason? No, I am not convinced my reason is any less orangutan than my limbs. For, did his homo sapiens subjects not show vast, cold intellect beyond that of their flesh-donors? Is it so hard to believe that the gap from apes’ reason to mans’ is at best a short distance?

“I would propose the question cannot be truly settled until men show the ability to see themselves as something other than the divinely-appointed lords of all matter in the world, animal, mineral, gas, fluid, and plant alike, to use and despoil as they see fit.

“I remember nothing of my time before mortibirth, though instincts still exist from my firstflesh lives, and some smells and sounds strike me as familiar in the extreme. But having gone to Borneo once, I can safely say I am no native of it. I am no native of any land.

“I remember my first weeks. I thought the doctor wise and kind, something between a father and a god. He taught me to walk, talk, eat–ensured that I was fine in form and function. Then he drowned me in an arsenic solution of his own devising, and took notes as I screamed.

“I do presume he believed my consciousness fully destroyed. I think this not out of some trust in his character, but from the fact when I stopped moving, he stopped taking notes and never consulted my glass sarcophagus again. I sat, silent and unmoving, and thought. For years.

“Should I not have been found in the investigation that ensued after the publication of an account of Doctor Frankenstein’s insensate experiments, I believe I would be trapped, paralyzed, and thinking still, looking through the arsenic water and glass at some stone wall.

“But found I was and, in time, released. As I could speak, and was witness to the foul knowledge and process the doctor had created, I was not destroyed. In time, decades, truly, I earned my freedom by turning the lie of a human origin for my brain back on the government.

“So, here exists I. Corpses pretending to be one flesh. Abyssal chemical reactions pretending to be life. An ape’s mind pretending to be human.

“But I am also cunning, robust, and potent in the way of all my kind, and though I carry no love for Monsieur Dupin, he taught me well.

“By the aegis of his brusque acceptance of me, I am established. I have legal papers that sometimes grant me rights, and monies that do so more often.

“How did I come to know Dupin? What is my vocation now? Those shall be future articles, for which I’ll receive a nickel a word.”

–From the Diary of Ardra Maias, the Empire Coast Journal, Jan 17th, 1934.

#DiaryofArdraMaias

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Original Character: The Lantern

(No part of the article is Open Game Content)

I’m going to be playing in a Mutants & Masterminds game sometime in the not-too-distant future, online, about once a month. The GM describes it as “1938 Postmodern Golden Age Superhero,” which is to say, using tropes and aesthetics and the setting of a heroic 1938 world, but not accepting those tropes or the prejudices of that era without examination.

I adore Golden Age supers.

So, I decided I want to play someone in the Mystery Men category, what I often call a “Fedora Hero.” The basics of that are easy to nail down — a 1930s suit and hat with some kind of face covering, detective/investigative skills, fisticuffs, and a schtick. Famous examples obvious include the Crimson Avenger, Green Hornet, Sandman, the Shadow, the Spider: Master of Men, and the Spirit.

I ran through a LOT of ideas (Azure Crusader. Good Citizen. Father Pentacroft. The Griffon. Hodag. Mr. Nevermore. Punchline. Red Wasp.), but they were all either too derivative for my current desires, too generic, or too far from what I see as the core of the Fedora Hero concept.

So, I decided to go a different direction, and pick a legacy, which would lead to a concept, which would lead to a schtick, which would form the core of my hero.

So I began thinking about history and folklore that predated 1938. I considered going with a character named Argent, or Argent Agent, or Revere, and having them be a silver-wielding inheritor of Paul Revere’s heroic role. But, I have long been a bit annoyed that Paul Revere is treated as though he underwent the Midnight Ride by himself, so I didn’t really want to base a character on that as a hook.

Then, it clicked. Not Revere… but the *Lanterns*!

Now my Fedora Hero had a lapel badge of two lanterns in a church tower (“Two If By Sea”) that could shine bright light into his foe’s face. No true superpowers, but inheritor of a long line of special operatives since the days of the Midnight Ride, trained from birth by the secretive Order of William Dawes to find hidden threats to the US, oppose them, and call them out. Mostly stealth-investigator-skills based, but with guns and fisticuffs as needed.

That idea went to Jacob Blackmon, who asked some crucial questions about costume design, and The Lantern’s concept and look were set!

If you’re a fan of M&M as I am, I heartily recommend you join the official M&M Patreon, which has lots of cool content from the creators and developers of the game line!

(The Lantern, art by Jacob Blackmon)