Blog Archives

Flumph Noir

Aberrant Report

It was a humid night, as Mhuoomphies forced air out his cloaca to hover pensively by the office window. It was the kind of night where a tentacle might be slick with something other than condensation.

His office was cluttered with images, each a fuzzy impression of a scene, projected from crystals floating apparently at random about the room. He reached out with a 7-tentacle, the scarred one, and spun one of the crystals. The out-of-focus image spun with it, the psychic impression of a witness, able to be seen from any angle.

The witnesses all thought they knew what they had seen, but both the perfect psionic impressions of their true recollection and long experience told Mhuoomphies otherwise. Creatures thought their memories were perfect images, ingrained forever like stone carvings. But the mind of a sentient didn’t work that way. Emotions, distractions, preconceived notions, and bigotry flavored everything any thinking creature remembered. In the flumph’s experience, many evils could be traced to different creatures having different memories of the same events.

But there were hints of the truth in the memory-crystal’s images as well. Certainly SOMETHING had happened. The image of the adolescent iron-eater, rolled on her back, antennae straight in fear and shock, were similar in most of the images. Some showed her as larger or more aggressive, but metal-users usually despised and misunderstood iron-eaters. And even those who remembered the event as the adolescent iron-eater’s fault remembered the position of her body, flipped over, wing-tail raised in defense. They might think they remembered her being the attacker, but they were fooling themselves.

The true attacker was shown in fewer memories, and the image was much more indistinct. A red cloak was featured in more than half, but Mhuoomphies was suspicious of that. There had been a great deal of blood. Sapients often added red to memories of a scene where blood had been splashed like cheap ale.

The creature had been tall… maybe. Hunched… maybe. Neither detail was shown in more than a quarter of the memory images. And one, just one, showed an arm made of a swarm of roaches jutting out from a crimson robe, rather than a cloak.

That memory was alone in that detail, but it was otherwise so crisp. And it made Mhuoomphies port outage nozzle whistle a low, sad sound. He had never hoped so strongly for a witness to be unreliable.

Because the young iron-eater had been killed, and he hoped it was either a simple hate crime, or a political gambit to convince the iron-eaters to do their mining for a smaller share of the ferrous metals they unearthed. Those were terrible reasons to kill, but there weren’t any good reasons for murder. The young iron-eater was dead, and the flumph couldn’t change that. If the reason for her death was simple, he could gain justice quickly. He would have no living help.

When an aberrant race died, none of the breathing Lamplighters took it seriously. Aboleth crime lords and cloaked gangs had eroded any goodwill bipedal vertebrates felt for all his kind. And even those who wanted to care had too many other crimes on their plate. Only Mhuoomphies had the time to investigate such crimes, and only he was trusted by anyone in the Aberrant communities.

And with iron-eaters on strike, and the dark naga pressing for full voting rights, this needed to get handled fast. Even the Metalhearts might decide…

The flumph’s office door burst opened, the brief scream of its metal lock bending and shattering the only warning before it gave way. A lurking metallic humanoid stood in the doorway, a bullseye lantern in its chest leaking light through the cracks, despite being shuttered.

“You are the Aberrant Lamplighter, Muffles?”

Two of the flumph’s starboard vents honked quietly in annoyance. He pursed his feedhole, and forced air through it to emulate the annoying, imperfect language of the bipeds. He also pooled caustics into his adamantine-tipped primespike, in case the creature was hostile, rather than just dangerously bumbling.

“Mhuoomphies.” he correct the intruder. “ArchLantern, Mhuoomphies.”

The metallic creature nodded once.

“I am Malakrut. I am a fresh forged Spark. The LawKeepers have assigned me to assist and monitor your efforts to enforce the laws of DarkStar Station, in the matter of a slain iron-eater in the abnormals district.”

Mhuoomphies felt himself relax, and sucked his caustics back into their reservoir. Of course he would be saddled with a rookie to report his every misstep.

It was Inevitable.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)


Island of Misfit Magic Items

I kinda want to write an adventure set on the Isle of Misfit Magic Items.

“So you have a 9th level spell as a prerequisite. Oh! Are you a ring of wishes?”

“No!” (sobs) “I’m a ring of foresight. I’m a ring with literally the only 9th level spell no one cares about.”

“Well… at least you’re an intelligent item!”

“Not that intelligent. I can’t spell.”

“But you have a spell in you!”

“Yeah… but it’s ‘Foursight’!”

… Along with the Gem of Climbing, Cloak of Elven Strength, and Rope of Holding.

Warrior Christmas

“So what does Santa do the other 363 days a year?”
“He kills people.”
“WHAT?!?”
“Well, he mostly sends Krampus and Père Fouettard for minor wetworks, but for big targets the Kringlenator does the deed himself. Knecht Ruprecht keeps the operation’s books. That naughty list doesn’t whittle itself down you know, and if you were an immortal with perfect knowledge of people’s sins, the ability to access any stronghold, instant transportation, and limitless wealth and resources, what would YOU do with it?”
“Get laid?”
“And Mrs. Claus is a hottie, to be sure. But she can also gut a man with a cookie cutter in 5 seconds flat.”
(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

Updated List of Very Fantasy Words

The most recent update to the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words!
Here!

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

Random Game Idea: Order of the Desert Rose

The Order of the Desert Rose are poisoners and assassins second to none. As fair warning, each has an adenium flower tattoo no smaller than the palm of their hand somewhere on their body. Some of the order choose for this to be visible. Others place it in a more easily concealed location. The order has numerous contact poisons they are themselves immune to, or take the antidote daily. Thus any unwanted contact with a Desert Rose can result in death.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material! Or you could even become a sponsor, and get me to link to YOUR content!)

Straight 18s

For many years, I secretly harbored the knowledge that I HAD rolled a character with straight 18s for a 1e D&D game. And that bothered me, because I know the odds against doing that were… huge. Beyond any reasonable chance of it happening. And yet, I remembered it happening.

But it hadn’t.

During one of my recent moves, I found the character in question — Buskirk, an elven rogue/fighter/magic-user (multiclassing and demi-humans were weird in 1e). And I made two startling discoveries.

First, he didn’t have all 18s. It was three 18s, and three 16s. Awesome, but not the same.

Second, those ability scores were rolled using a method from the 1e Unearthed Arcana, rolling 9d6 for your primary ability score *and keeping the best 3), then 8d6, then 7d6, and so on, down to 3d6. I know this because I wrote down the results of all the dice on the back of the character sheet when I first made the character. I haven’t done the math on this, but it obviously produces higher ability scores.

So, memory vs reality. I can see why I remembered it the way I did… but my instinct that there must be something wrong with such a spectacularly unlikely result (astronomical in scale) was accurate.

Memory has been shown to be spectacularly unreliable, and yet many of us cling to it as our most trusted information source.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material!)

Updated List of Very Fantasy Words

A weekly (?) update to the Revised, Partial List of Very Fantasy Words!
Here!

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

A (Revised, Partial) List of Very Fantasy Words

These are “real,” not newly-minted words, which I almost never encounter outside a fantasy RPG or novel. Note that I intentionally don’t give definitions. If a word looks cool, go look it up! I love projects that expand people’s vocabulary.

Some of these are tied to a concept that just doesn’t come up much outside of fantasy. Others are just terms that sound cool and get bolted on to fantasy to give it a more mysterious feel, or that got used in pulps and similar stories enough that they have a cachet with fantasy fans.

Newest entries are bolded.

Adamant
Analect
Anelace
Archon
Argute
Armiger
Armlet
Aspergillum
Axinomancy
Baleful
Baldric
Banneret

Barrow
Bestiary
Bulwark
Caer
Cantillate
Ceraunomancy
Cerulean
Chiliad
Chronicle
Codex
Coistril
Cozen
Croft
Cthonic
Cudgel
Deliquesce
Demesne
Dexter
Dimunition
Dirk
Disenthral
Deosil or deasil
Dolabra
Dour
Draff
Draught
Eerie
Effable (though ineffable is much more common)
Eldritch
Ensorcel
Ethereal
Evocation
Famulus
Fane
Fel
Flagon
Folio
Froward
Furuncle
Gainpain
Galivant
Gallant
Geas
Gird/Girt
Gride

Glyph
Grimoire
Harbinger
Harrow/harrowers
Haruspex
Haversack
Heraldry
Hind
Imbue
Incant
Incantation
Incunabulum
Inunct
Jazaraint/Jazarant
Justiciar
Karst
Kava
Keck
Kedge
Kef
Kith
Kurgan
Kyrie
Lanthorn
Legerdemain
Lexicon
Liripipe
Lucubration
Mesne
Miscibility
Mudlark
Nacarat
Nacre
Naos
Naphtha
Narthex
Naze
Necrologue
Nephilim
Oculus
Offal
Orrery
Ossuary
Oubliette
Palimpsest
Pauldron
Pavonine
Periapt
Phial
Phylactery
Potable
Prestidigitate
Previse
Puissant
Querulous
Quaff
Raconteur
Realm
Reliquary
Rill
Sage
Samite
Scofflaw
Scry
Seer
Sigil
Signet
Skullduggery
Smallsword
Spadassin
Solander
Souk (or souq)
Stramazoun
Sup
Sward
Tabor
Taciturn
Talisman
Telos
Thalassic
Thew
Tincture
Tome
Trenchant
Troth
Tumulus
Tunic
Umber
Umbrage
Unbated
Undercroft
Uroboros
Valiant
Vavasour (though I prefer the spelling vavasor)
Venerable
Wain
Weir
Welkin
Widdershins
Yale
Yeoman/Yeowoman
Ylem

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)

SSAI: A Fist Full of Quarters

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Tell players to bring as many 1st level characters as they want for a special event. Create a short adventure of CR 5 to 6 encounters, but with no one monster above CR 3.

Tell the players you EXPECT them to die. even to have TPKs. But they are playing their characters as a cross between PCs in a MMORPG and an arcade game. The group has a number of total extra characters equal to twice as many encounters you’ve prepared. When someone dies, they bring in a new character (their own or someone else’s) and expend one extra life.

If you want, you can also ask them about the fictional normal people playing this fictional arcade MMORPG. Then, when they finally beat the adventure, tell them that the fictional players they discussed are now trapped in the bodies of their fictional MMORPG characters, and begin a WarQuest World campaign.

(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support the creation of more free material!)

SSAI: Change!

Super-Short Adventure Ideas

Any level PCs, but the players must never have played them before. Specifically tell them not to worry much about character backgrounds, just have a name and description with 2 visual details.
The PCs are all guarding a nobleman. Tell the players not to worry about why.
Assassins burst in… and try to kill the PCs, screaming for the nobleman to run.
The first time each PC is injured, that PC is revealed to be a doppleganger.
The doppleganger PCs literally don’t remember their past, or why they were standing around the nobleman…
(Do you enjoy the content on this blog? Why not become a patron, and support more free material!)