Friday, October 30, 2020

Sword Plagues & Plague Swords


by Inoue Takehiko

Plague Sword

There is a certain kind of sword, found at the sites of recent battles or the ruins of subterranean dungeons. They protrude upright from decayed corpses, sometimes two or three blades clustered together in the ribcage of a never-buried soldier. The hilt twists skyward invitingly, inviting the bold to take up arms. These are the plague swords.

A plague sword is supernaturally sharp (+1 magic sword) yet brittle, losing its edge to the point of worthlessness after only a few cuts. When a plague sword breaks, slivers of the blade fly everywhere like tiny glass splinters, burrowing into any exposed skin within 5’. This deals no damage, at first.

Those cut by the sword collect metal slivers in their skin, only perceptible as a slight subdermal itching sensation. These slivers migrate along the nervous system to the host’s spinal cord, where they coalesce and form a tumor. The tumor then grows over the course of months, becoming hard and raised from the skin, accompanied by a sharp pain in the chest. Most hosts die from punctured lungs or an impaled heart. A rare few wake up one morning to find the blade poking through their chest.

If you cut open the tumor, you’ll find the hilt of a blade. At first, it’s little more than a runty dagger, something a trained surgeon or wizard could excise with time and caution, but with time it will grow into a full-fledged broadsword.

Plague swords feed on their host(’s corpse) until they attain full length. They grow hilt-first towards the sun, like iron flowers with glinting leaves. Then, they go dormant, waiting to be drawn in battle by a desperate knave and spread their seed once more.


by Pavel Kolomeyets

Sword Plague

Metal can get sick, which usually manifests as rust. Just as animals can catch many different kinds of diseases, so too can metal contract many different types of rust.

Common or lesser rust is not very contagious, and most commonly spread through water. It’s a slow killer which can degrade metal over many years, but can generally be cured with proper treatment.

Blue rust is to normal rust what the bubonic plague is to a really slow-acting cancer. Highly contagious and fast acting, blue rust can eat through a sword in seconds and spreads from item to item by touch (it’s also mildly airborne). When a patch of blue rust eats enough magic items, a blue ooze may form, and then you’re really fucked. 

Blue Ooze
HDArmor none  Pseudopod 1d6
MoveIntMorale 12
Special Oozy, Blue Rust, Feared by metal

Ooze creatures can crawl up smooth walls and through gaps as small as 1” wide. They take half damage from piercing attacks. They are immune to acid, but salt burns them as acid.

Any metal object a blue ooze comes into contact with contracts blue rust (magic items get a Save). Each round of combat, blue rust spreads from an item you are holding to the nearest item in your inventory. Items afflicted with blue rust break after one use, or after dealing/receiving any damage. A magic item consumed by blue rust transforms into a 1 HD blue ooze.

Metal fears the blue ooze the way human beings fear tigers. All attacks by metal weapons are made with disadvantage; swords will swing wide to evade the ooze, arrows will veer to safety, and ball bearings/caltrops will roll away from it as fast as they can.

Metal sings, albeit at a frequency we cannot perceive, and when it does it sings not for itself, but for its immortal God-alloys. The voice of metal echoes hymns of an ancient era before the sword plagues. Metal sings because it is praying for forgiveness, deliverance from a world of pain and suffering and rust.

better ditch that sword y'all
Sir Bedevere y e e t s Excalibur into a lake


Friday, October 23, 2020

The Foxes and their Laughing Children

by Gop Gap

A fox is a fae of fiery fur and feline form. They are never seen, only heard, gekkering in the hidden spaces between blades of grass where mundies never think to look, unless of course they want to be seen, which they never do.

(They’re also huge. Like, bite-your-torso-in-half huge. You don’t notice because they’re hiding themselves in fox space.)

Like all fae, foxes are obligate chronovores, and survive by eating the lifespans of others. They are fond of children, who have more remaining years and are much easier to spirit away from home. A fox’s den is full of these children (2d4), stuffing their faces with wild berries and playing in the glimmer-grass as they die swiftly and painlessly of old age.

Life in a fox den is like a daydream where everything tastes sweet and is soft to the touch. This is according to the wishes of the fox; fox space is especially labile in the face of a powerful will.

Most children live for a few weeks at most. Only a select few last long enough to learn the Laughing Language. These are the fox’s favorites, cheerful and clever and strong of heart. She teaches them to see the corners where fox space intersect the planes, and they use this power to play hide and seek across dimensions.

The laughing children are allowed free rein of the den, and act as older siblings to the fox’s other children.

Some leave the den to establish their own dens, while others become agents of the fox. None of them live longer than three years.

Laughing Child
HDDefense as chain  Nails 1d4
Move as halfling  Morale 3 (Flighty)
Special teleport within line of sight (fox space), the Laughing Language

You can follow the laughing child through the fox space if you’re quick, but every turn spent in fox space without a fox to escort you incurs a Save vs mutation.

Much like Dwarven and Cheoxic, the Laughing Language has special properties. Creatures in earshot feel their hearts lifted, and become more trusting. All reaction rolls improve by one degree, and Saves against charms and hypnosis are more difficult.

Fox Baron
HDDefense as chain  Claws 1d6/1d6/1d6
Move as an elephant-sized wolf  Morale 7
Special teleport within line of sight (fox space), the Laughing Language, chronovory

The fox eats away at your lifespan as you fight it. Any damage it deals ages you an equal number of years. If you would age past your natural lifespan this way (default 80), Save vs instantaneous organ failure.

Foxes are more fur than flesh. If you kill one, it and its den collapse into a dense red garnet, which are valuable to big game hunters and wizards, who can turn them into bags of holding. 

by Cecile Berrube

Foxes are found near villages where food is plentiful. They may be reviled in local legends as crib-snatchers, or revered as whimsical gods. Foxes often have direct relationships with humans; you might encounter a town which serves a local fox baron in return for its supernatural protection. Fox barons pay close attention to human settlements under their wing; the more populous the village, the more children are born, and the less people will notice when someone goes missing.

Unlike most fae, foxes are capable of complex moral reasoning. They observe the many hardships of our world from the safety of their dens, and they weep for our long, miserable lives. They see themselves as agents of good, rescuing unloved and abused children from a lifetime of trauma and destitution. In their mind, the fox is saving the child from a lifetime of being human.

To live as foxes do, without worries or cares, is a blessing afforded to few out of the goodness of the fox’s heart. It is a great kindness that the children never grow to remember their previous trauma.

In this way, foxes convince themselves of their moral superiority. They’re like people who eat burgers and say “if the cow understood its situation, it would have wanted it this way”.

It is rumored that foxes were mundane animals who became fae to avoid divine punishment. This is silly, and probably true.


Friday, October 16, 2020

3 Alternative Monster Biologies

In a world where magic exists, calories are overrated.

Obscurovores — Eaters of Darkness

Dungeon ecologies are a precarious balance of scavengers and fungal culture. The only resource a dungeon has an abundance of is darkness. The challenge is turning darkness into energy, and this is where the Glowpig comes in.

Glowpigs are short-legged, headless swine, like the rear ends of two pigs stuck together. They eat darkness through their skin, which causes them to shed light as a torch (light is the absence of dark, as the drow will tell you). Their meat is black and rich and, according to some, corrupts the soul.

When threatened, they stop glowing (because they’re no longer eating) and curl up into a ball, relying on their thick, cactus-bristle hair to deter predators. They excrete noxious smoke (save vs. 1d4 poison damage) which crawls over the dungeon floor like a heavy fog, extinguishing campfires and choking sleeping adventurers.

[quick note: most creatures that live in the dungeon have true darkvision, and see as well in the dark as we do in the light. When everything that wants to eat you has darkvision anyway, shedding light isn’t a negative. It can even momentarily confuse predators when the light suddenly goes out and their vision has to adjust, buying the Glowpig precious seconds to flee.] 

Chronovores — Eaters of Time 

There is no such thing as immortality, a truth belied by the timeless nature of the fae. Their secret is chronovory: the consumption of one creature’s lifespan to extend another. This explains the faerie practice of abducting humanoid children, who are likely to have many years ahead of them, and their fascination with food, which they do not need but appreciate artistically much like theatre or music.

This is also why only human children are seen living alongside faeries; they die of old age before they ever grow up. 

Fae of Wishes by Wylie Beckert

Cogitovore — Eaters of Thought

There is a whole category of spirits which draw energy not from calories or magic, but from sapient thought. Among them are angels/devils, spells, nature spirits, and (arguably) gods, all empowered and affected by the thoughts of others.

Emphin are feral cogitovores without an onus or guiding principle to align themselves by. They are sometimes believed to be proto-angeloids, and as a result many eventually ascend to angelhood. Until then, they are as cordial as you would expect a rogue spirit to be.

Emphin are shapeshifters who look like you’d expect them to. Their identity begins and ends with the expectations of others, and their bodies fluctuate as wildly as the rumors surrounding them. Only their size is fixed, scaling based on the number of people who know about them.

If your players are hunting an emphin, describe it in vague terms. The villagers will have conflicting accounts of its appearance and abilities, and give it vague names like “the monster in the woods”. Right before they meet it, ask your players what they think the emphin looks like, then tailor its abilities to match.


Emphin Rumors
It has many mouths and can skeletonize a cow in 30 seconds.
It flies on gossamer wings, but charges like a bear.
It cries acid and bleeds saltwater. It has an insect's maw.
It’s immune to fire, and spits flames from holes in its neck.
There are thousands of wasps in its mouth.
It can command undead. It’s afraid of holy symbols.
It eats soil and silt and regurgitates locusts.
It has gorgeous plumage and a long python-like neck.
It has a bird's beak and 2d8 additional heads all over its body.
It's lean like a panther and can tunnel through the earth like a mole.
It’s invisible.
Don’t look it in the eyes, or you’ll die from fright.
It’s actually a set of triplets.
It has a rhino's horns and shines like the sun when it roars.
It has claws the size of scythes, which weep cobra venom.
Its skin is harder than stone. Its mouth is long like a crocodile's.
It has two extra pairs of arms, which are always praying (+cleric spells).
It can speak, but only in blasphemies (+wizard spells).
It’s invulnerable to attacks by mortal men.
It’s actually pretty chill. Leave it alone.

They wouldn’t be such a big problem if everyone wasn’t so convinced that all emphin are monsters.


Drow, the Dark, and an Edgy GLOG Wizard

by Tyler Crook

This post is a bit of a chimaera, incorporating ideas about the Mythic Underworld, Advanced Darkness, and Arnold K.’s Book of Mice. The intersection between these works should give you a pretty good idea of the kind of stuff I try to write here.

Drow worship the Dark (note the capital D). In their stories, she is the God before all Gods, the Ur-Mother, the primeval ancestor of all living things. She is the starless night shackled beneath the earth and sea. She is parent and predator, giver and taker of breath and blood. She is the womb, the hungry crucible, the warm embrace of perpetual stillbirth.

The following enumerates the many beliefs of the drow.

The Dark is always making things. She is the source of all spontaneous generation, from the mouse born in the pile of grain to the dragon hatched on a hoard of gold. She is strongest in the lightless places, under bridges and in dungeons far below the surface, where she fosters her oldest and strangest offspring.

All living things are her children, or are descended from her children. This is why all life contains a fragment of the Dark, which is released into the air when the body is burned or decomposed. The drow know how to extract these fragments and refine them into Vanta, a carcinogenic venom which they use to wet their daggers. (save vs. volleyball-sized tumors)

Only the Dark can give life, for she is the mother of men as well as monsters. This is why offspring must develop in the womb or egg rather than out in the open.

[There are creatures born from light rather than Dark—angels/devils (same thing) as well as emphin and aasimar. The drow believe these are sterile constructs manufactured behind the moon or sun as enforcers of the Lumocentricity.]

Conjuration magic draws upon the Dark to manifest her children in the service of the caster, from unseen servants to summoned woodland creatures. Golems are usually created during a New Moon, when she is at her most powerful, as are undead.

[Because they are born from Dark, golems and undead are perceived as more alive than angels and devils. Liches and ghouls often hold surprising status in drow society.]

someone please tell me where this image is from

The Dark embodies the most natural animal state. She is savage, base, and uncivilized. All animal urges—greed, hunger, love, and so on—originate from the fragment of herself which resides in the liver; a doting mother guiding her child towards the most primal forms of satisfaction. Her favored children are the grue, vicious man-eaters who swim through the Dark like water.

Consumption and reproduction are the only virtues she abides. For this she is sometimes worshipped by druids, who abhor the laws of the civilized world as she does. The drow seek her favor through carnal worship and red-blooded atrocity. Their temples are built with gutters, which collect the runoff from their abominable rituals and feed it drop-wise to the hungry earth.

The Dark is forgiving. She harbors a deep hatred for the kingdoms of men, who betrayed their mother and drove her underground, yet she wants nothing more than for her children to return to her. This is why drow are the only mortal humanoids with true darkvision; those who earn her forgiveness can see without light, as they did in the age of the first kin.

This is the origin of undeath; If a body is not properly buried and sanctified, its stillness may be mistaken for repentance, and the Dark reclaims it. Necromancy is merely the practice of drawing her attention to a viable corpse.

This is also why doors close behind you in the dungeon; as one descends into the embrace of primeval darkness, she will do everything in her power to keep you just a moment longer.

Theological Conflict

The drow are a pretty backwards people, on multiple levels. They see light as the absence of darkness. Their vision is perfect in perfect darkness and dulled in direct light, the literal polar opposite of how everyone else sees the world. Their worship of the Dark reflects this backwards perspective, and vice versa

Drow theology may directly contradict the rest of your campaign world; that’s fine. Different cultures with incompatible worldviews are very true to life and make for interesting role-play, and as DM you can pick and choose which elements each culture gets right and which are left ambiguous.

If all else fails, history favors the victors. If the players can clear out a drow encampment, it will certainly be interpreted as a sign that their gods are more powerful than the Dark.

by Piotr Foksowicz

You can pledge yourself to the Dark for dope shit, at the cost of everyone at the table calling you an edgelord. 

Tenebrous Wizard 

This is a wizard school for the GLOG. (I considered writing a 5e Warlock Patron too, but the concept doesn't quite lend itself to a system with de-emphasized light mechanics.)


You have true darkvision in pitch darkness; if you can see any light, your vision returns to normal. Grue do not appear to you.


You cannot cast spells in direct sunlight or on targets standing in direct sunlight. 


  1. Dim or extinguish mundane light sources within 10’.
  2. Touch an egg/expectant mother’s stomach to learn the exact time of birth.
  3. Spend any number of Rations to summon half that many HD of vermin: flies, rats, pigeons, etc. They eat their way out of the Rations, as if they were always inside. They have no loyalty to you. 


Mostly stolen from here and here and also here oh and here too. I really like the abbreviated spell format Lexi's using for Sawn-Off, so that's here too. 

1. Rot
2. Fear
3. Light
4. Darkness
5. Enhance Senses
6. Aura of Warmth
7. Forge from Shadow
8. Control Light and Dark
9. Imperceptibility
10. Primal Descent
11. Create Life
12. Maw of the Dark 

An object you touch ages [dice] x [sum] years. Alternatively, a creature you touch takes 2 x [dice] damage and ages [sum] years. 

Up to [sum] HD of creatures within 50’ must Save vs Fear or take a morale check/flee from you. If [dice] >= 4, creatures unused to supernatural occurrences (peasants, domesticated dogs, etc.) must Save or age 2d10 years. 

You bend darkness away from an object you touch for [sum] x 10 minutes. It shines as a torch. If [dice] >= 3, it shines as sunlight.
Alternatively, make an Attack roll against a sighted creature you can touch. If you succeed, the creature is blinded for [sum] rounds. If [sum] >= 12, it is permanent. 

Darkness descends upon a [dice] x 10' radius sphere within 50’ for [sum] minutes. It drowns out mundane light sources and sunlight. If [dice] >= 2, it overpowers magical light sources. 

Enhance Senses
Choose [dice] senses. You enhance these senses for [sum] minutes. You have advantage on checks with these senses. 

Aura of Warmth
You and creatures within 5’ of you are immune to cold environmental conditions and take half damage from freezing attacks for [sum] hours. 

Forge from Shadow
You reach into the shadows and retrieve a mundane object, weapon, or tool no larger than a [dice]’ cube. It dissolves into shadows after [sum] minutes 

Control Light and Dark
You freely control light and dark in a [dice] x 10’ radius sphere within 50’ so long as you maintain concentration. You can cloak objects in darkness or displace light from its source, dim or extinguish light. 

Choose [dice] senses. You cannot be perceived with these senses for [sum] minutes. 

Primal Descent
Up to [sum] HD creatures within 30’ must save or have their higher brain functions reverted to a feral state for [dice] minutes. They have no loyalty to you and retain their base personalities, albeit in a much blunter form. 

Create Life
You conjure a [dice] HD creature into being after 30 minutes of casting. If it’s a humanoid, it dissolves into shadows after [sum] minutes. Otherwise, it dissipates after [sum] hours. If you roll triples, it lasts forever. 

Maw of the Dark
Up to [sum] HD of unwilling creatures (and any number of willing creatures) within 50’ must save or be swallowed by the Dark. They return after 2d10 hours, aged 2d10 years.


  1. MD only return on a 1-2 for 24 hours.
  2. Take 1d6 damage.
  3. Random mutation for 1d6 rounds, then Save. Permanent if you fail.
  4. The Dark rejects you. You lose your darkvision for 1d4 days.
  5. The Dark rejects you. You emit 5’ direct sunlight for 1d4 hours.
  6. The Dark rejects you. You taste and smell delicious to dungeon dwellers for 1d4 hours. The DM rolls 3 Encounter Dice for each Encounter Check and takes the lowest.


  1. The Dark whispers to you, and you listen. You treat bright light as dim light. You become an obligate carnivore, and require meaty rations (cost double and go bad quickly).
  2. The Dark makes a few suggestions, and you oblige. You are blinded by bright light. You can no longer read or write, except when it comes to spells.
  3. You can hear the Dark calling you home. When you next enter a dark place below the earth, such as a dungeon or cellar, you wander off and are never seen again. You slip through cracked stonework into the earth and return to the Dark, becoming a child of the mythic dungeon. You are completely feral, perhaps even a goblin lord or grue.

Friday, October 2, 2020

Belliserum's Mind Palace (2/2)

by Francois Schuiten

Thanks again to my amazing girlfriend, who inspired and basically co-authored this whole dungeon.

Read part 1 here.