Wednesday, September 29, 2021

d12 Metaphysics of Magic

from this reddit post
What are spells? (d12)
  1. Spells are deeply ingrained memories of your previous, godlike existence. These are instinctive and indescribable, as if flexing muscles you no longer have. They cannot be shared, only unlocked through introspection and enlightenment.
  2. Spells are arcanometabolic parasites, like magical mitochondria, that exist symbiotically entwined with your soul. Wizardry is the hereditary over expression of this magical potential.
  3. Spells are the sudo commands of a universal simulation. Higher level spells require higher order administrator privileges, which in turn involves tricking the universe into thinking you created it.
  4. Spells are favors, traded painstakingly with the G-ds in exchange for services and debts.
  5. Spells are angels, bound by duty to defend important people and places. Acquiring spells requires binding them to service, either by persuasion or Pokéball.
  6. Spells are ripples in the 6th dimension, sometimes referred to as the Weave. This vast, interconnected energy topography defines the leylines of the world. When two spells with specific wavelengths collide, they may cancel each other out or mutate into an aberrant waveform. All spells have an opposite which can be used to counterspell themselves.
  7. Spells are ghosts, once-living spirits untethered from flesh at time of death. Finding new spells involves haunting local cemeteries and bottling up poltergeists. Wizardry is often considered taboo, except in specter-plagued city morgues, where wizards are a logistical necessity.
  8. Spells are history, echoes of great feats performed long ago. Casting is empowered at the site of a great occurrence or in the presence of an important corpse or relic.
  9. Spells are manifestations of sentient will; by wanting something badly enough, the universe can be bent to the wielder’s will. Wizards, therefore, are masters of want.
  10. Spells are reactions born from rapidly-decaying rare elements. Charcoal, bladders of helium, and white iron are common spellcasting tools. Gold is inert, and resists magic. A wizard’s backpack is very heavy and explosively volatile. Most wizards, fearing radiation, wear lead-lined robes. They tend to die from lead poisoning.
  11. Spells are languages, through mastery of which one may speak with the elements of the world. Most wizards know short commands; masters can hold a conversation and tell stories in their spelltongue.
  12. Spells are dogs; loyal, easily trained, enthusiastically servile beings native to the ethereal plane. They were once the pets and servants of a higher intelligence, but some ancient catastrophe destroyed their civilization. Perhaps some of these spell-lords are still out there…

Monday, September 27, 2021

d20 Cheap Tricks


geov chouteau
Phlox put out a call. I've crawled out of my thesis cave to answer.

30 tricks? Sorry, my religion says I can't read anything that isn't a random table.

  1. Describe the world with your 5 senses before resorting to symbols. My last big bad was heralded by the smell of detergent and raw meat
  2. Talk with your hands. “The spider crawls creepily” is eh; “The spider crawls around like this *fingersome gesture*” is better.
  3. Talk with your body. When I really need to get in character, I get out of my chair. Sounds silly, but it helps.
  4. Talk with your players. Ask them if you can’t remember an NPC’s voice. Let them know if the session has taken an unexpected or uncomfortable turn. Remember, you are also a player.
  5. Steal from other media. Paradoxically, the more things you steal from, the more original it will be. You could (un)charitably call my current campaign Castle in the Sky + Chrono Trigger + Hollow Knight + Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2
  6. Steal from your players. Ask them about their theories. Take notes when they speculate about what’s behind that locked door, or over the ridge, or for sale at the bazaar. ~~Even~~ Especially if they’re joking. (This is how we ended up with Mysterio the Mind Goblin)
  7. Steal from yourself. I keep a shortlist of joke NPCs that got good reactions the first go around and sprinkle them in as filler where appropriate.
  8. Every session, introduce one piece of information that you don’t fully understand yet. Fly by the seat of your pants; discover the world alongside the rest of the table.
  9. Put a dragon in every dungeon. A dragon is anything powerful and secretful and recognizably lethal. just put more dragons in your game, period.
  10. If you’re not sure whether to roll, favor the players. Roll to avoid consequences
  11. Animals are cool. Use them to reskin stock fantasy shit. Crocodilian dragons w/ deathroll attacks and swordswallows picking their teeth. Hippo+tiger+crocodile chimera. Burrowing owl goblins. Mindflayers but they’re axolotl who can grow limb buds on anyone they look at and control them.
  12. Unconventional steeds are always a hit. This includes bears, giant snails, and horses who are kidnapped princesses of the horse kingdom. Also horses who are just absolute bastards. Name all of them.
  13. “What are you looking for?” ← best question to ask any PC about anything
  14. What’s their name?” ← second best question to ask any PC about anything
  15. Be like shakespeare: use real-sounding fake words to flesh out the world, both in NPCspeak and in descriptions.
  16. NPCs that hit 0 HP aren’t dead, they’re just helpless (disarmed, KOed, socially cowed, etc.) Make it clear that nonlethal options are always on the table.
  17. Resolve games of chess, blackjack, etc. with a single die roll. All you need is “how good are you at this game” and “are you playing safe or risky” to adjudicate.
  18. Replace typical casino betting fare with snail races. All the snails should have names.
  19. Sometimes, you don’t need to try that hard on small details. Sheriff Beriff and Mr. Placeholder are equally as memorable as Symarin Esre, or moreso. Lint Jehovah is a name that a real person could have and its just two words put together. You can always go back and flesh them out later.
  20. It has already been said; young, female, or outcast NPCs are easy to love. The inverse is true; old, male, socially advantaged NPCs are easier to hate.

Tuesday, September 7, 2021

Machina Ethikos

jake zetter
One becomes a philosopher by asking questions. One becomes a wizard by asking very dangerous questions.
Observation: It takes a lot of energy to be a good person. Where does that energy go?What is the relationship between this energy and evil? How might one harness that energy?

That last question was the inspiration for the Machina Ethikos, a senior thesis project so diabolical and perverse that the ad-board swore its inventors to secrecy--at least until the patent could be finalized.

Soular Energy

The principle is simple; a soul contains energy proportional to its moral strength (among other arcanometaphorical factors). To elevate the soul, one must expend energy. In turn, degrading the soul releases said energy.

This is why Evil is a distinct field of study in magic canon; it is the technique of harnessing one’s moral freefall. The deeper one’s depravities, the more energy can be released. Consider the widespread use of human sacrifice in traditional ritual magic.

This is also why great wizards are so often evil, or at least amoral. Power corrupts, in part, because corruption is a means to power.

Despite their best attempts, academics have yet to fully understand the mechanics of universal morality. Hexyard output for acts of evil appears to fluctuate wildly based on intention and cultural context, making it nearly impossible to study in a controlled environment. Only the angels are said to know the true nature of good and evil, but if they do, they refuse to share it.

angels angels angels

On the Nature of Angels

Angels are beings of pure morality. They are children of the Sun, although they speak fondly of the stars, as if they were distant relatives. Their souls are extremely energy-rich, so much so that they constantly shed light. The intensity and wavelength of an angel’s light describes the strength of their soul, and therefore their age. (blue = young and strong; red = old and experienced)

As time passes, angels expend their souls and slip closer and closer to human morality, until they are put down by their fellows—a holy ceremony called ignova. Angels who do not undergo timely ignova may develop self-preservation instincts, fleeing angel society and eventually sinking to demonhood.

It didn’t take a genius to make the connection: the market demanded energy, and angels had it in spades. The only question was extraction.

The Mechanism

Each Machina Ethikos is unique in design; mass produced prototypes are never as effective, as they lack in personalized cruelty. The device remains closed most of the time, so as to prevent a mess, although a porthole can be opened at the operator’s discretion.

Noise is not a concern until extraction is three-quarters complete, at which point the wick may suddenly develop a sense of pain. Once this occurs, the device should be relocated to a sub-basement or dungeon.

Generated magical power can be rerouted automatically into nearby artifacts, grimoires, and golems, or stored in crystal arrangements and personal leylines for later use.

Once extraction is complete, the Occupational Health and Sorcery Administration demands that any leftover demons be recorded and exterminated. To skirt these regulations, many wizards elect to simply release the runoff into the countryside.


Needless to say, the wizards have been at war with the angels for a long time.

and all for a 3.6 GPA


Thursday, September 2, 2021

Hunger Lives in the Wolf

pauliina kinjama / kipine

 "The endosymbiotic hypothesis suggests that mitochondria were originally independent organisms that fostered a symbiotic relationship with eukaryotic organisms. They generate power for the animal, and piggyback onto its reproductive success."

—heavily paraphrased wikipedia


Magic is and is not a part of the human organism, which plays host to a wide array of spells. These dwell in the body, tucked away in corners that cannot be dissected out, assisting oneself in the basic functions of life.

They make up what you might call your soul.

It is theorized that all animal drives—hunger, procreation, and so on—are magical in nature, which explains why great feats so often arise from great emotion. [Consider a mother lifting a car off of her child; isn’t that a kind of magic?]

No part of the soul is shared among all living things. Lust, for example, is unknown to certain species who produce purely asexually. Hunger is an alien concept to angels, who drift thru existence as filter feeders, deriving energy from meaning itself.

Likewise, some magicks are more pronounced in certain species or individuals. This is why no (relatively) sane sorcerer would turn their Pride against that of a high lord Crab; the crab wins 9 times out of 10.

(This also explains how certain individuals can be born with inherent magical prowess, why wizards often specialize in one type of magic, and why magic often follows a bloodline; its all genetic.)

The unifying theory of magic is thus: that magic is life, and life is magic. All living things are similar in the sense that they are magical, from the hungry wolf to the mana-made angel to the reanimated zombie. Humans are not just magical, but too magical in too fundamental a way to extricate themselves from the natural world.

Joesky Tax

HD as wolf; AC as wolf; maul as wolf
Appears: pack of 2d6
Special: always described as a blue jay, except by wizards, who describe it as an octarine jay. Does not fly because it is a wolf 


patterson clark