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

I got a special order to write up the Seven Winds that are Principalities in Ben-Derek Hayes’ “Chromatic Books of Horrors & Heroes,” as defined in his cosmology, which comes from the Byzantium Notebook. You can find a description of that cosmology here. Since, you know, I DO create these articles for money, I was only too happy to slip this way forward in the schedule and put it on Friday (which you’d normally get a much shorter article) in return for money. All art in this article is by warmtail.

As a concept, “The Seven Winds” is often used to refer to all the people of the world, or all the places of the world. Someone wishing to tell a captive no one can hear them might say “Shout to the Seven Winds if you wish, for none will answer,” while a veteran sailor might brag she’s “Had all the Seven Winds fill my fails, on one voyage or another.” Secrets are sometimes “Whispered only to the Seven Winds” to indicate they’ll get out eventually, and a tyrant might claim “My grasp exceeds even that of the Seven Winds themselves.”

The winds are also seen as powerful forces of fate and destiny, and someone might well be said to be “born into” a given wind, while those who seem to choose a specific trait might be said to be “blown by” a given wind. While different cultures assign different traits to those born into each wind, and it’s always seen as just one aspect of how Principalities can influence a mortal’s life, it’s very common to refer to a wanderer as “born into the North wind,” and a morose personality as being “blown by the Death Wind.”

The Seven Winds, in order of both age and potency, are commonly considered to be The North Wind, the South Wind, the Rogue Wind, the East Wind, the Tea Wind, the West Wind, and the Death Wind.

The North Wind

The North Wind is by far the oldest and most powerful of the Seven Winds, and among the oldest of the Principalities (and the only wind to be treated as a Major Principality). It is believed that the North Wind came into being when the gods of Land and Sky first developed, long before most other principalities evolved, and that was at that time the *only* wind. However, being wise and foresightful, the North Wind realized that if the wind blew from only one direction, in time all the world would be leveled before it. Thus, it set out to bring forth others of its kind, and five more winds formed of these efforts. One of the Seven Winds, the Rogue Wind, has an origin outside of the efforts of the North Wind, and is often seen as a trickster and, if not cruel, at least uncaring to the fates of others.

The North Wind is normally depicted as a blue face in a complex burst of spiraling tendrils, and is equally often named “he” and “it.” He 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. The North Wind is sometimes called the Blue Man, Father Sky, the Lord of Whispers, and the King of Feather and Flower.

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. Most places dare not outlaw followers of the North Wind, though those of his faithful who mark their own faces with blue, gray, or black are often seen as troublemakers, and treated in much the same way as is a boiling thunderhead on the horizon.

The South Wind

The South Wind is the Queen of the Sky, the Knight of Swans, the Lightning Lance, the Bringer of Comets and Falling Fire, and the Guardian of the Heavens. She is the Principality of raptors, waterfowl, fire from the sky, borders, swift action, summer, growth, self-identification, inspiration, guards, and the single most important moment of any person, place or thing. Though she is a Lesser Principality, that is a matter of scope, rather than power. The South Wind does not move from her areas of interest, but within them even the greatest Major Principality would hesitate to oppose her.

All other winds bend knee to the South Wind when she is present, even the North Wind from whence she came. Indeed, the South Wind is that part of the North Wind that felt her true nature was not to be the North Wind and, in complete accordance with the North Wind’s dominion over free choice, chose to stop acting as the thing she was not and instead exist as the South Wind. However, the South Wind rarely interjects herself into the affairs of the other winds, unless they dare to influence those concepts she claims as her own.

Many people work to keep themselves in the favor of the South Wind, for she oversees both their right to say who they are and the most important moment of their lives, whatever that might be, and when disaster strikes many invoke her as the Principality of swift action, but few worship her. The exceptions to this are generally martial-leaning folk who believe some forces work against those who would find themselves, or are moving unseen to put an end to guarded peace, inspiration, environments that promote growth, or all of the above. These warriors most often taken on her aspects as Principality of hawks and swans, and her role as the strike of lightning that burns rotted, choking underbrush away, or both.

The Rogue Wind

When only the North Wind and South Wind had come to be, a gust pried itself lose from their choreographed dance of pull and push. This was the Rogue Wind, the Killer Wave, Eclipse, Lord of Broken Things, and Jester of Fate. The Rogue Wind is the Principality of that which operates in the unplanned, unexpected, and unforeseen. It plays no favorites, bringing anarchy and surprise to all, but when a system has oppressed a people long enough, Storm Jesters may raise and openly call for the Rogue Wind to come and sow chaos, for when order becomes tyranny, any change of events can be seen to more likely favor the oppressed.

Fools, jesters, those who lack sense and those who turn away from reason and societal norm are blown by the Rogue Wind, and beloved of this most capricious of Principalities. Some embrace this role specifically to free themselves of the expectations of others, and are known as the Bedlam Born. No one can count on the Rogue Wind’s support, but the unpredictable from beggar to berserker are oft treated with a modicum of respect and fairness purely to keep the Rogue Wind from taking note. Sailors, lords, and builders hate the Rogue Wind most, but with that hatred comes and acknowledgement of its power, and a coin is often tossed to those careening outside the roles of society in an effort to appease this ultimate agent of anarchy.

The East Wind

The East Wind is the Prince of Mists and Herald of Fog. Known as the Little North Wind, it is in many ways a lesser son of its forebearer, but it is also the keeper of the East Star, by which all navigation can be attempted. It is the Principality of consistency over time, navigation, orienteering, and small things having large effects. The lost, prestidigitation and misdirection are also within its bailiwick, as lacking guidance and clarity is seen as just one form of engaging with directions and maps.

Cartographers and navigators often worship the East Wind, as do some natural historians who seek to understand how the median of all action can form the equilibrium of the world. Many sects of the East Wind date back to the time of the Dusk Empires and have kept charts and secret forms of mathematics hidden within their coded scrolls. These are among the only acceptable group in which the Dwarf/Elf/Human Alliance (or Dehallia) will allow Gaub-Alge (or “goblins”) and draugh to operate in Dehallia cities and society, as the sects claim to have ancient ways to commune with the East Wind to determine if an individual will be a fair mathematician, cartographer, or navigator, and even the most bigoted of Dehallians dare not loose the East Wind Sect’s access to navigators.

The Tea Wind

The Tea Wind is the Herald of Trade, the Constant Consort, and the Loops of the Sky-Dragon. She is the Principality of civilization, trade, negotiation, contracts, progress, wealth, sea ships and ports, colonization, oppression, conquest, decimation, disease, deceit, press-ganging, hunting for sport, and genocide. As the name might suggest, she oversees and powers the Tea Gauntlet, the worldwide sea travel route that brings teas from Al’iimbiraturiat Aleazima, Dà Dìguó, Dai Teikoku, and other lands for which Dehallia has not bothered to learn the names, to the Commonlands, and through it the remainder of the Dehallian Kingdoms.

The Tea Wind is seen as the exclusive patron of Dehallia and its kings and nobles, as the route it empowers makes it easy for things that are cheap and plentiful in their lands to the distant empires where it is eagerly traded for tea, silk, jade, saffron, coffee, orichalcum, ivory, ink, and magic rods, and then back around to Dehallia. While at one time numerous small island nations that severed as important resupply stops made significant wealth from such trade, various Dehallia nations have long since conquered them, to ensure the wealth largely comes to rest in their coffers.

The West Wind

The West Wind is the Mist Upon the Waters, the Daughter of Sand, and caster of Nets. Born equally of the North Wind and South Wind, she ensures winds bring life and renewal after the storms have passed and fires extinguished. She is the Principality of gentle rains, sweet winds, fresh winds, fish, crabs, seaweed, leaping dolphins and mighty whales, and the rainy season. She is beloved by farmers, fishers, and many things of the sea that yet need to breath to live. She rejects all violence and force, and when draught or stagnation or red tides settle in to plague a region, it is said that some evil has bound the West Wind, and she will not strike back. But she is also the Principality of caring, and to endure, and in time, all of her bounty stolen by those who mean evil will return to where they should always have gone.

The Death Wind

The Death Wind is the Last Gasp, the Still and Silent, the Living Cyclone, and the Air Unmoving. It is the Principality of endings, death, rest, time, tornadoes, finality, harvests, the hunt, successors, and destruction. When the North Wind saw the first six winds that existed he realized that, in some strange time, even the wind must die. Then did he reach to his own end, the moment past which he must be replaced by some other thing or cease to be himself, and took the final gust of his entirety, and set it free. This is the Death Wind, the movement that brings an end to all movement. Mountains shall be ground down by it, every mortal shall meet it when they draw their last, and only it knows when it shall reap those that spawned it.

The Death Wind is evoked when something must end so that something else may come to be. There are no edifices built to worship the Death Wind, but its dark funerary followers can claim a corner in most other temples. For everything will end, and the moment should be observed and respected, and all ceremony of death is said to come from the reapers of the Death Wind.

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.


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.

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 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 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 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 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 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.


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 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.


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.


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.”


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.


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.


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.


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 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.


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.


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.


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.


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.