Friday, June 21, 2019

Filler Art Post

I finally got a tablet a week or so ago so you can expect much more frequent arts now that each scribble need not be paid for in carpal tunnel from clutching my mouse in a deathgrip, and y'all can be shown't & tell'd!
Everyone warns of the moons, of course, chased by the New Sun to
out there beyond the Noonlands, listing the effects of their lightborne will,
strategizing how to benefit from or neutralize their effects, and hypothesizing unlikely celestial conjunctions.
Or they warn of the curious and infinitely varied beings of the vast Moonlands, many of whom proved most reasonable...
...though some did not.
But none had spoke of the time between moons, where the darkness writhes in hues of nameless night.
Moon or Sun, I cannot see past their light. Is this the Dark I see, or only shadow?

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Conflicting Visions of 'The Fighter'

The 'Fighter' exists in many different headspaces for me. The WotC notion is typically to split the fighter into Barbarians and Swashbucklers and Rangers and Monks and so on, but the more classes you have, the more you're saying 'your character can't do that thing in the fiction because an entirely arbitrary metagame class is required.' It's one thing to say 'your character can't do a whirlwind strike and decapitate 8 mounted knights at once because I'm trying to keep power levels low and that's not an option' (though with such limits I expect clerics and wizards will become far more popular) but quite another to say 'you can't do a whirlwind strike and CAN NEVER DO a whirlwind strike because you're in the wrong fighter sub-class.'

Just flesh and steel, someday to be bones and rust, with no authorial intent to save them from inevitable death
Fighters have no particular abilities save having more HP and better to-hit than other humans (but not monsters). They have AC 17 and a d8 attack not because this will let them defeat monsters easily, but to showcase just how terrible an idea it is to fight monsters fairly in the first place. They can survive what slays others, and they can hold the line just long enough for the others to get things done. With some +X swords and armor and good hp rolls, they can remain useful in combat at higher levels. But really, the point is to think beyond the character sheet, because the character sheet has no answers beyond an unfavorable 'I guess you can try to fight the monster..."

Thoughts that stem from this are as follows-
  • Trap Option- The obvious first problem becomes 'nobody will play a fighter*.' If fighting sucks, well, let's all be Magic-User/Thieves casting Charm and Sleep and Invisibility and enjoy being able to sprint and climb and swim and sneak and if the reaction tables are used RAW unavoidable fights will be incredibly rare, so why be a fighter at all?
    People might play fighters anyway, you never know
  • Swords Suck- Why waste those bonuses to hit on rubbish like melee combat when you can swagger around with a torch and a bandolier of molotovs? You are le grenadier, and no longer will damage over time and crowd control be the domain of wizardry! Or perhaps grappling rules are forgiving, and becoming some sort of iron-clad sumo wrestler allows you to stunlock and debuff enemies while your friends slap the enemies with their daggers or whatever. This is quite system dependent, of course, but in BFRPG molotovs and grappling and wardogs tend to be considerably better than sword-slapping, a paradigm of combat that I can't say I hate, but is neither what anyone really pictures when they imagine 'fighter' and is not particularly class-exclusive either.
There is one thing even the most barebones fighter tends to acquire, however...


The fighter establishes a keep at level 9 or so, and the idea of the Fighter as 'the leader,' even before that point is a concept that seems to have some genre momentum to it. And it makes sense too- hirelings can trust the slow, armored fighter probably will fight to protect them instead of sprinting away at the first sign of trouble like the thief, no religious hangups like the cleric, and no skeevy consorting with forbidden powers and unethical spell-use like the wizard. But then...
  • Humans Suck- 'master of minions' is both not fighter exclusive, and worse yet, fighters seem to get the worst minions. Clerics and Wizards get undead and monsters to command around, and having a charmed dragon at Wizard 7 makes '3d20 level 0 human infantry' seem a lot less cool. And a full army just means
  • Being King Is Perpendicular To Adventure A fighter whose strength is a bunch of high morale NPC hirelings is both a pain to keep track of, and the more their men do, the less impact their personal presence has, until they're practically an NPC themselves, just a source of orders for the mass of mercenaries and retainers, sending companies of horsemen hither and yon, hither and yon, but probably not into a dungeon lest it result in a wraith-splosion of undead conversion or similar awfulness.
  • Game of Thrones Sucks- But okay, lets say you clawed your way up to 'domain level' and now officiate skirmishes between your troops and wicked barons and feud for control of resource-rich legions and try to arrange marriages to nobles and so on and it's real proper Domain Level™ adventures, but
    That's probably not what anyone signed up for and was hype about if you started as a beer-n-pretzels hex/dungeoncrawler. I'm sure some groups have survived the transition, but in my experience, interest in building castles and managing mini-kingdoms quickly withers after initial interest dies down and people realize they're playing for personal stakes and problem-solving and roleplaying and the entire rulebook is based on spells and gear and monsters, not officiating bureaucracy and social engineering. But I'm getting on a tangent away from fighters specifically, and worse yet, a tangent in which my experience is limited anyway.
So if you don't want to drown the fighter in a sea of mediocre NPCs, the next impulse is to make 'em awesome, at which point you end up at
Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, in case you didn't know
if you didn't know never speak to me again you ignoramus churl
The modern route, where (in 3.5/pf parlance) you crack open the Book of Weeaboo Fightan Magic Book of Nine Swords and start giving the fighter super-powers. The first inklings of this are in the oldschool fighter ability to strike 1hd(or less) enemies with 1 attack per level they have, and later just getting extra secondary attacks at higher levels, or maybe weapon specialization. Issues immediately arise when trying this in OSR because
  • When All You Have is A Hammer... So if you have mastered the Five Point Exploding Heart Palm, when confronted with problems, you are naturally inclined to consider solving those problem with the FPEHP. And the more cool fightan powers the fighter has, the more the idea that the game is about cool kung fu action becomes prominent, and, at least in my mind, while combat is certainly an important tool, it is absolutely not the point of playing in OSR style. I believe that combat in OSR is thrilling because the stakes are high and unpredictable, not because RPG games are all that good at simulating the spectacle of an action movie or mathematical optimization like a videogame.
  • Whose Genre Is It Anyway- One of my secret kung fu techniques floating around the world is the Void Cut, where warriors can slap people 30' feet away with anime-esque slashes of wind or vacuum or blood flicked off the blade or ground-pounds with hammers or whatever. Mechanically speaking, this is pretty equivalent to just having a single volley of thrown javelins, and probably inferior to a molotov.  Perhaps a more mundane description (quickdraw daggers) might be more appropriate to keep the tone gritty and dangerous. But maybe it's a good thing to give fighters these abilities to feel like badasses. But tone and immersion are important for keeping people invested and 'on the same page'
  •  Everyone is Wizards- On the one hand there's a nice equivalency to having fighters who roam the world collecting secret techniques just like a wizard collects spells. On the other hand, there is a little bit of, well...

Being able to kill someone by stabbing their shadow or whatever, is, in my opinion, less cool when it's not a one-of-a-kind weirdness

Leaning far, far into GM fiat and narrativist rather than abstract combat, could be a fighter who can defeat a giant with a rusty spoon at level 1 by incredibly detailed descriptions of combat. Like
GM- The giant raises his club above his head...
I scramble a little left, so the raised club tracking my movements will be caught in the rafters!
GM- Ok, the giant's attack fails this round.

Or a more in-depth example
GM- The dragon leaves its lair, scaled belly dragging across the ground as it approaches the goat you tied up...
Player- And when it slides over the concealed pit trap that I'm hiding in, I strike with my poisoned spear up into its belly
GM- Roll damage, you've hit automatically, and the beast must take a round to reposition itself so its claws and jaws might reach you
Player- While its turning around, I leap from the pit and seize the tail so it can't attack me without menacing its own tail, and whistle for my attack dogs to rush from the nearby forest to help harry its flanks. They should buy me time to climb the beast's back and attack its wings to prevent it flying away, and after that, its eyes are next, all the while it bleeds from its belly wound and...
Finding where to draw the line for stuff like this can make combat interesting in a storygamey narrative sense and break away from 'I roll to hit' 'Goblin A rolls to hit' 'I roll to hit.' But at a certain level of fiat, you're just playing pretend, and victories no longer feel earned. The fiction is exposed as nothing but idle whimsy and immersion and emotional investment plummets.
This breaking of the facade is why people tend to dislike 'It was all a dream!' endings- not because a fictional dream is any more fictional than a fictional adventure, but because it calls out the absurdity of caring about fictive people and places, and by calling it out, it belittles the real emotions that the false world created.

IN CONCLUSIONclasses🤔🤔🤔 more like asses lmao😹😹😹, tl;dr light ur bad and dumb class-based sys.//T3M on fire & run Die Trying instead B-cuz D&D is 👏c a n c e l e d👏 'k bye

Thursday, June 6, 2019

Sunset Realms Geneva Conventions

Having had a conversation about this sort of thing, I realized 'hey I actually do have some of these'
So if you're sick to death of worldbuildy campaign notes just go click a cooler looking post on the blogroll

The default assumptions of locales are in Mercia and its offshoot city-states, the triumvirate lands of Queen's Coast, Kings Point, and Prince's Spit, and the beast-haunted realm of Vint-Savoth, with the  disparate Beast Islands, sandy and ancient Saresare, and war-torn Yuba being most likely to have regional differences.

That said, much of the setting is lawless wilderness and ruin. The strong do what they can, and the weak suffer what they must. But kings and adventurers alike would do well to recall- when people strive to dominate each other with cruelty instead of uniting in friendship, the things beyond the reach of light and law stir, and lick their unspeakable lip-analogues in anticipation.
"Empires built on blood end with sharks" -Beast Islander saying
The Oath of the Skull
Battles shall be overseen by an order of Gravekeepers, clad in patchwork garb of colors of all involved parties, who shall be free to recover bodies and return them to the appropriate side, lest the dread Skull Moon rise and reanimate the unburied dead. Impersonating a Gravekeeper in wartime is a crime worthy of death.
Similarly, actual Gravekeepers who take sides in political conflict lose their 'immunity.'

In Saresare, there are no Gravekeepers, only the Vulch, the somber scavenging vulture-folk, sacred and pariah, who devour the dead, sooth their souls, and fly corpses abandoned in the desert to grave-trees before they are taken by dread Skull.

In Yuba, the Gravekeepers are also priests of the Jackal God, the Heart-Eaters, who seek to take hearts from the dead before disposing of them and are unfazed by the occasional revenant seeking to defend or avenge their hearts.

In the Beast Islands, pretty much all war is exclusively nautical and corpses consigned to the briny deep will be beyond Skull's influence mostly.
mostly(insert hideous cackling from behind GM's screen here)

The Oath of the Sun
Any monsters capable of 'spawn cascades' (examples-green slime, lycanthropes, vampires) are forbidden from the battlefield (and everywhere, really) as well as anything else thought to threaten the power of the Sun or humanity at large. Those who utilize such beings or fell powers are referred to as 'Dark Lords' or 'Moon Mad' or 'Yubans' (regardless of actual relation to darkness or moonlight or Yuba, it's just an example of humies lumping together disparate concepts into a single notion of 'the enemy') and can expect every sunlit realm of law to forsake them once word gets out. This is a (relatively) new concept was not always the case, and is why Yuba is such a heck-hole these days and why the Witch-Alf war was so totally out of hand.

In Saresare, this is simply one of many precepts of The Law which exists to provide social cohesion for humanity in the face of annihilating chaos, for while the Law is always around, the same cannot be said of the sun. Saresarens look upon Moonspawn and Darkspawn more fairly than most, for rather than judging the various creatures from beyond the sun by their cosmological light-origin, they judge them by their ability to follow laws and become upstanding citizens. Moons are not particularly subtle entities, nor are their spawn, so the problem of 'apparently law abiding but secretly evil' creatures is not a concern that has much merit to it.

In Yuba this doesn't apply because there's horrible monsters everywhere, especially in governmental positions, and the Yuban people are like 'bite the sun' anyway because they suffered under the 4th sun Riikhus and the 5th sun Helios doesn't even reach the Yuban heartland so Yuba is both in the moonlands, and more favorably inclined towards Moonspawn since the hordes of moon beasts vanquished Mercian and Saresaren occupiers in the intersolar period and accidentally helped Yuba become free again.

The God/Sun/Queen/King/Prince/Hunter/Captain/Qadi/Jackal's MercyNamed based on whatever central body holds the monopoly of violence state's authority in a land, this is a tenet of society that allows people to plead for mercy from individuals in the name of social cohesion. Essentially, it is a pledge to serve either the one who defeated them, or the community they have wronged, for a year and a day, to make up for their opposition (and serve as replacement characters/retainers, of course)
This is a serious oath to swear, and to accept, and even to refuse, for breaking or refusing it means that those aware of your traitorous/unmerciful ways will never surrender to you, nor accept your surrender, and then you've got 6 morale bandits fighting to the death like berserkers because they expect no mercy from Sir Smitesalot. This goes both ways- a bandit who murdered someone he surrendered to is viewed as irredeemable scum, and an entire settlement that refused to give someone a chance can be branded as a guillotine-happy bunch and stricken from the records of the Tourist's Guild. Naturally, the chance of mercy and the stigma of refusing to grant mercy changes with severity of crime and public opinion.

In Saresare people get very poetic and say things like 'I am your slave!' and 'My life is yours!' but you gotta realize that hyperbole is a whole cultural thing there- it's like when you arrive at a city and the King is like 'visitor i have literally never seen before I shall grant you ONE WISH' and you're supposed to wish for something reasonable that the king can give you to show off their own wealth and munificence without actually straining their hospitality, not be all 'I wish for infinite genies' it's not that  kinda wish though I see how you could have gotten confused on account of the distribution of Ifrit on the wandering encounter tables

In the Beast Islands you always have to swear to serve the captain of whoever got you to surrender, which cuts down on piratical mutinies a little at least and gives ships a good rotating cast of scurvy sea dogs. In the absence of a captain you can always swear to serve the home island of whoever defeated you instead of them directly, but you still gotta serve them until such point as you reach that home island, so it's less of a cop-out as you might hope. Some people will let you swear to serve a ship instead of the captain, cuz people do get attached to the things.

In Yuba it's always acceptable to eat your heart instead and you don't get to complain because it's a bit of an honor to be symbolically devoured by the Jackal-God and ensures you a good afterlife/reincarnation gig so long as you like dogs. But yeah, the heart-eating thing is why Yuba was the punching bag of Saresare and Mercia in the age of the Tyrant Sun-God Riikhus. Mercia was mad because noble POWs were sacrificed instead of ransomed, Saresare was mad because the Jackal God was given precedence over mortal Law, just, a diplomatic disaster that turned into crusade to enslave the Jackal God that turned into proxy wars between Saresare and Mercia with Yuba as ground zero that turned into a rogue-agent wizard cold war in the intersolar period between Riikhus and Helios and just, wewza, it was a mess, an absolute mess

I await the day someone is like 'Hey isn't your Jackal-God just Anubis' and then I will reveal my hideous true form of a backpfeifengesicht mythology nerd and be like 'akshually he's based on Wepwawet, you've probably never heard of him' and then i'll be given a wedgie
This picture is totally Anubis + Ammit tho

The Sanctity of the Soul
 Life and death work a little differently in this universe compared to real life. Torching people with fireballs isn't a disgusting war-crime because, well, souls can vacate a body at any time, so people can nope out of painful situations and carry on to the merry afterlife if they decide a body is too painful to live in. Souls and afterlives objectively exist, and can interact with the living (with effort) so murder and pain are of less moral hideousness (from my perspective, at least). That said, there is a connection between the physical and the immaterial, so corpse-mutilation and tomb-robbing are viewed pretty much equivalent to property damage to someone's house.

But souls can be destroyed (or at least the light-soul can be. Scholars are divided on whether the shadow-soul persists eternally in the unknowable Darkness of the world, like a hollow mold waiting to be filled with light and reform). Heleognostic quibbling aside, anything that threatens to trap, destroy, corrupt, etc the soul is super bad news, double-plus forbidden, the living and the dead uniting against the unthinkable horrors of oblivion. (Void Monks will swiftly point out the error in fearing oblivion- after all, you do not fear the years before your existence- why fear nonexistence afterwards?)  Fortunately, things that threaten the soul are pretty rare. Undead that seemingly corrupt or devour souls are really probably just inflicting enough pain to cause a soul to give up on a body, then filling the empty vessel with a fragment of their own soul, obedient to the larger whole, or calling in a disease-spirit or something


Saresare has its own stock of mortal psychopomps in the form of the Vulch, and their dead, sung lullabies by the vulture-folk, are among the most peaceful in all the world... but also the most prone to succumbing to Nightmare due to a psychic undertow that afflicts the desert for reasons likely celestial in origin.

The Skeleton War Truce
 Some people don't have a community afterlife their souls fit nicely into. No gods, no close friends, no dream-world necropolis reflection of a city-state that they have default dual-citizenship for, not evenn the willingness to subside into a personal solipsistic dreamworld of their own making. Or maybe they could have these things, but they're just too darn stubborn to stay dead (these sorts of undead that rise out of sheer force of will are called Revenants and are low on wacky powers but high on sheer unkillability) Those people are probably gonna end up in the Skeleton War sooner or later, which is where all the skeletons(and ghosts once the elements eventually reclaim the bones) of people with nowhere else to go end up. Bones and shades in the bowels of the earth, scheming and sneaking and carrying on, eyeballing juicy afterlives and mortal affairs like bandits eye juicy but impregnable townships. A thousand ages of vertebrates all mixed up together, every one of them probably a bit of a jerk on account of having nowhere else that will take them, but also being too materialistic to give up on the physical world and not self-actualized enough to create their own dream-realm afterlife.
Dubious speculation on the character of skeletons aside, the truce between the living and dead is thusly- the living do not begrudge the occasional skeleton war recruiter poking around(you can tell one by the silly hat and trumpet), nor do they interfere with netherworld politics, and the dead do not constantly rise to continue to interfere with the politics of the living.

Mercian Ban on Gunpowder and Clockwork
Pushed by dwarf lobbyists, Mercia does not permit anyone but dwarves to utilize these technologies. Possible reasons for this include
  1. Anti-Dwarf Conspiracy-The bastardly mole-men wish to maintain absolute technological superiority and unassailable position, and gunpowder bombs are the only thing that could breach their mountain homes. They'll sit back and wait until Mercia is weak, distracted with newfangled frivolities like fireworks and watches, then bam! They'll emerge from below and take it all from us!
  2. Dwarf Official Stance- Ye humans and yer endless wars aren't responsible enough to be trusted with the dangers of the technology, or the cruel destruction it would enable ye to visit upon yourselves over whatever daftness causes you to war among your own kind.We assist what causes are worthy of our assistance, and you should question your own actions before questioning ours.
  3. Human Nobles Official Stance- It's obvious the dwarves are dealing with troubles of their own deep in depths of stonefast three and need to hoard their most powerful tools. Yet despite this, they have deployed their clerics, war machines, and armaments when the need has come. Besides, guns ARE too dangerous to be entrusted to the masses- just look at the rest of the world, where no noble knights keep the peace, because pirates with cannon and pistol run rampant! Not to mention if Saresarens love rifles, it's practically patriotic to avoid their use at this point.
  4. The Clockmen Conspiracy-  Guns guns guns, that's all everyone thinks about! The real secret is in clockwork! It's unnatural! Probably Alvish! Metal was meant to be wielded by man, not wield itself! Vint has had that giant clocktower for decades and their land is as cursed as Yuba!
    (This author would like to note that Vint-Savoth is cursed due to being the grave of the Blood Moon, which perished in the recent intersolar period and if anything, the clocktower is a beacon for justice-loving vigilantes)
Gunpowder is of great popularity in Saresare, which has more alchemists than it does wizards, and no dwarves to naysay the stuff. Being somewhat poor in metals, Saresare has opted to have musket and pistol armed light cavalry and shoot what little metal they have at the heavily armored knights of Mercia, and has had great success with sappers and smokebombs. Some dwarves fear Saresaren conquest of Mercia and subsequent threatening of the mountain fortresses and actively participate in human wars with the hopes of suppressing the tech, which is normally most un-dwarflike.

The Beast Islands are also quite fond of gunpowder, and create large cannons that are superior to the normal armaments of warships (mounted ballistae and war-wizards). Beast Islander pirates are mostly unbeatable, nautically speaking, save for the similarly armed boats of  Queen's Coast, King's Point, and Prince's Spit, who have metal reserves comparable to Mercia but no reservations about having heavily armored knights AND guns.

Vint-Savoth has seized every advantage it can to resist the scourge of beasts that spring forth from the corpse of the Blood Moon, and has clockwork and gunpowder gizmos and weaponry that rival the works of the dwarves themselves, though only in a specialized beast-slaying sense.

Yuba does not much care for guns on account of having great faith in filling ones hand with war-dog leashes, seeing guns, swords, and plate-mail as 'tools of the oppressors,' and finally of valuing stealth greatly in their dark and jungly land wracked by monsters.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

Latenite Thoughts on Ynn

So Castle Nowhere has had 8 sessions so far. Most sessions have been The Gardens of Ynn material, but I've been running it all adapted to my setting so here's a quick rundown to keep in mind.
  1. The gardens are not extraplanar, but the accursed grounds of a decadent noble's estate that time-loop and shuffle every 3 days. This means that they are both perhaps more open to simply 'skipping' points of interest and delving deep immediately, and have a more permeable barrier between the Gardens and the 'outside world.' They are the liminal zone of the megadungeon of the campaign, and as such are being heavily delved into, almost every single session, rather than occasionally visited between other things.
  2. The place has no day-night cycle, only the eternal leering light of a Moon. 
  3. The random encounter tables have also been heavily mixed up, the main change being that it is jam packed full of time-trapped servants who have grown surly and revolutionary, and nobles who have grown decadent and bizarre after 30 years of being trapped in a 3 day time loop. The place is more human and less monstrous(but, as we all know, man iz de real monshta)
  4. Due to said time loop, routes through the place are not necessarily immediately reshuffled, but typically are, between sessions. Points of interest can be found again, if the players have a plan- random wandering has like a 1/400 chance of finding somewhere again.
So bear in mind that my thoughts are derived not wholly from the original Ynn, but from the Ynn as rewoven by me
yeah there's like a web of towers that are a different dungeon and it's in the moonlands so my Ynn is not the Ynn and it won't
be your Ynn

I think it’s easy for games to push in darker directions, and to match the unpredictable lethality of old-school games with a particular grim and gritty aesthetic. I wanted to move away from that, into something that, while not blandly pleasant, had a lightness of tone to it. A setting where sunshine is the de-fault weather. -Emmy Allen

 Hear hear, hear hear. I slide into the grim and grit myself constantly, sometimes in response to the players being murderhobos, sometimes simply because I suckle too greedily from the teat of nightmare, so I think this is a good sentiment to bear in mind. As an aside, this post is great and relevant to this notion. Anyway. Other points made in the intro is that the author thinks its not deep enough to be the focus of an entire campaign, but is good to bolt on to other campaigns as a side dungeon. I agree there, even though I went about it weirdly. With the 'canon' methods of entering Ynn, the place is very easy to visit.

Also noted is that it's probably a bit lethal for level 1 players, and not supportive of level 9ish players, with 3-5 being the sweet spot. So far my level 1 hobo squads have been just fine, but I did swap out a lot of 'beast' encounters for humans (though really, shouldn't you be able to talk to beasts in romantic fantasy?) so that may have reduced lethality. And I have a lot of fairly savvy osr players. And I use the BFRPG reaction tables rather than strictly adhering to the 'events' that may indicate hostility of encounters.
BUT THAT ASIDE, I would say, 's not THAT lethal... assuming the players are in the mindset of 'you don't gotta fight the monsters' and aren't straight outta Skyrim and Adventure League and of the belief that they are invincible fated badasses sure to defeat all level-appropriate obstacles. Anywho.

Rumors are lovely, but I didn't use 'em due to the setting being different. I have a bit of a similar 'time limit' for exploration as default Ynn, but the players are too low level for that to be too much of an issue at the moment. My version is also less likely to get players 'stuck' in Ynn but I like the idea. I do think the day/night encounters could have been significantly different rather than just a few changes, but I can't talk much cuz I jammed them together and then changed the resulting table anyway.

The locations are lovely, and interesting, and I can't wait to stop rolling orchards aaaaaaa. Some are more interesting than others, which is good because of the empty room principle, but can be bad if you roll a lot in a row but them's the breaks with random tables, and you can't blame RNG when you the GM have executive authority to make stuff up in defiance of what the dice say. Anywho, in addition to the locations, they each have additional details that can really differentiate them, and then when an event happens that spices things up further still. One trick of design that has worked well is the events table- when the players are interested, even in 'uninteresting things,' interesting things continue happening, rather than it solely being monsters drawn by the players 'wasting time.' They're easy to ignore if they'd spoil the fun or overcomplicate an already complicated area (after a certain number of secret staircases, I decided to hold off on creating more until the players actually went through one). Such GM fiat in adjudicating random tables is classic gming stuff, and I think experienced GMs will get a kick out of flexing their brains with the content, and inexperienced GMs will quickly learn the pleasures of using random tables rather than trying to shoulder all creative cognitive loads themselves.

Treasure-wise, it's not great for sheer gp-to-xp coinage hauls, but the treasures have a lot of charming little baubles that are very good for lateral thinking. (I would have personally placed the treasure tables immediately after the rest of the random tables, formatting wise, but that's a minor quibble.)

The monsters, though there are loads of good ones, have a distribution of 'types' that I feel leans too heavily towards constructs and animals, which do not lend themselves too well towards factional play. On the one hand, since Ynn is not fixed, factional play would be thwarted by reshuffling the place and this is not as dire a critique as it would be for a stable dungeon, and the esoteric terrain is pretty good for bamboozling low-intelligence monsters such as using an ice rink to remove the mobility of a pursuing statue-golem, as my players did. 'S just that some of the monsters lean more 'hack n slash through awful jungle' than 'whimsical and melancholic exploration of a ruined and alien land.'
Mind you there are plenty of talky monsters, but they tend to be deeper in, so. Myeh? I just don't wanna roll a giant frog, I guess, when there's such cooler fare to be found.

Speaking of 'cooler fare' I found the animate chess sets and their built in factional play to be neato (at least hypothetically)... but being buried deep and difficult to randomly encounter, well, it seems a shame, don't it? My recommendation for people running Ynn is to do away with a few of the early /beast/plant/statue/golem/etc encounters and have them be lone chess pieces off on quests or trysts or whatever, so they can already be entangled with the chess-pieces by the time they roll up the entire chess set. Oh, maybe more animal-servants instead of just animals, too? I am all for 'put the cool stuff first' and don't hide the 'good stuff' for later. That's like, my one complaint about the place- there's a bit of 'you gotta delve DEEP to get the weird stuff' and I am all about weird=good, so I'm like, 'remove the buffer zone!' Or the late wacky stuff might ne'er be seen! o gods it became 3am when I wasn't looking my text is getting rambly

tl;dr Ynn is good and you should consider buying it, and since I eat pizza out of a dumpster and pay rent with plasma money and patreon tips so you better believe I weighed those $5 carefully

Sunday, May 12, 2019

The Color Dungeon

this dungeon is inspired by The Astral Prison of Urash Mhyr, one of the greatest gimmick dungeons of the 2014 one page dungeon contest. I'll probably drop this place as a random dungeon fill so if you're my players you may wanna skip this post. Or you could read it and excuse your metagame knowledge as 'prophetic dreams'
I couldn't condense it enough for the 2019 OPDC so I expanded it to my satisfaction instead. I think it will be best for characters with some experience and problem-solving tools under their belts.

The Color Dungeon has two trees growing outside- one with red fruit, and one with blue fruit. Eat the appropriate fruit and you become insubstantial to and utterly unaffected by the opposite color, and you and your equipment are stained that color for the rest of the day. If you eat both, you become purple and are unaffected by Red and Blue objects. Having normal coloration allows all things to affect you.
Normal- Interacts with everything as normal.
Red- Interacts with Red and typical objects normally. Intangible to Purple and Blue.
Blue- Interacts with Blue objects and normal objects as usual. Intangible to Red and Purple.
Purple- Interacts normally with typically-colored objects and Purple objects. Intangible to Red and Blue objects.

A massive gate of red stone seals the entrance. Beyond it, a massive door of blue stone also blocks off the entrance hall. A lever behind each gate will open it slowly, then reset as the gate slides back down.

To the left and right are corridors with pits, covered by red or blue tiles.Gigantic blue tentacles occasionally wave through the red floor, and will make blind attempts to grab people. Red people are insubstantial to the tentacles, naturally. The Blue floor also has purple hanging loops that people can swing across on if they are purple, one at a time. The floor between this pits (where the players are presumably standing to weigh their options) is actually an elevator platform that shakes, then slowly begins to descend into a flooded trench where the Kraken lurks, which both pits lead into. The overgrown octopus(actually a polymorphed dog) has figured out how the colors here work and can change color between Red and Blue (with one round of unwitting purple while it changes) and occasionally switches which floor it reaches up through, hoping to snag people. The beast can also swim through a long, dark, and labrynthine flooded cavern to reach the frozen cavern. The elevator can be raised back out of the pit via operation of an underwater wheel-lever in the flooded kraken-pit where it lowers

Over the blue tiles is a hallway that doubles back on itself and passes three locked prison cells, access to which is barred with colored iron bars that one can reach through but not squeeze through.
The blue cell contains a vampire named Crim and his coffin. He is not actually trapped, but IS pretty bored and hungry, and will make no secret of this. He will follow around the players and demand probably nonlethal tributes of blood (1d8 damage) from any non-blue characters if he sees them. (He will make additional reaction rolls to individuals on merit of how tasty their blood is) This will suck the red right out of them, decolorizing reds and turning purples blue(though apart from this blood-draining trick he is still unable to interact with purple objects unless turned purple himself). If threatened, he will retreat to his cell then sulkily stalk people to eat them, but if his demands are met he will aid the party in half-assed fashion. He and the purple wizard are not on speaking terms due to quarreling over a lover, and they will pretend the other doesn't exist to the point of ludicrousness.

The Red cell contains a blue chest full of treasure and has no key to its iron-bar door, but the cell could be unbarred from the inside by someone able to interact with the bar.

The purple cell contains a wizard, Drawjim, who claims he built the dungeon but was betrayed by his apprentice and imprisoned. Naturally he wishes to be freed, and promises the players any reward they name if they will free him. His cell is locked and doubly trapped with runes that trigger on anyone crossing the barrier for a 5d6 fireball and a 5d6 Ice Storm, and he says to safely extricate him the key must be retrieved from the neck of the guardian dragon, and the wands of unblue and unred must be tapped against his cell to undo the magics.

Past the red tiles is a room with 3 other exits blocked by flames that obscure all beyond them. Once there is no weight on the Red tiles,  flames appear to block the entrance as well.
There is a riddle written on the floor that can be read from the perspective of those entering the room-

"It is wrong to cut off a mans left leg, and wrong to cut off his left arm, but if you do both, he is all right. Two wrongs therefore make a right, and of course three lefts also make a right. Barred by flames, there are two right paths, and two wrong paths for moving forward. Visitor, calculate the number of lefts contained in the rights and wrongs to know which flames are left harmless, then leap through boldly!"

The dead end flames conceal long drops to the Dragon's Lair, causing 3d6 fall damage and then, presumably, a lot more dragon-induced damage. The correct flames can be sprinted through for no damage at all, but cautiously creeping through or poking 10' poles into them will reveal them to be deadly to the tune of 2d8 damage per round and perfectly capable of melting metal and incinerating wood.

Red and Blue bars bar form walls that prevent complete access to this room. A giant dog sleeps in the center of the room. If roused, it will bark and alert the treacherous Apprentice in the Sorcerous Chambers, who will unleash his dog-hordes.

A mighty purple Inexorable Beast roams this area, tracking the players down by smell over and over, and 'respawning' a mere 1d6+4 dungeon turns after it is slain. There are a great many huge slabs of stone colorshifted to force intruders on circuitous routes, and purple slabs at each entrance to the Maze-Vaults to keep the beast from escaping.

There are also a great many rooms with treasure chests inside. Assume the chests are of the color they appear unless otherwise specified, and that they are locked. The keys are around the Guardian Dragon's neck.

1a- This chest is Purple and therefore hard to interact with. It is also behind 5' of solid stone in every direction. It contains the Immaculate Garnet, a gem of 5000 coin value and the ability to turn things Red or Blue based on which color they are, overall, closer to.
1b- The chest here contains 1000 coins worth of Red Gold, and a single coin smeared in lethal contact poison. The only clue is a single dead mouse within the chest. Even if the players are wearing gloves when it is collected, when counting treasure or paying a merchant later, the poison coin will surely be touched with bare fingers eventually.
1c-The bottom of the chest is actually thin red paper barely able to support the 1000 coins within. Any excess disturbing of the chest will cause the paper to tear and the coins to tumble down the chute beneath into the dark, flooded caverns of the Kraken.
1d- The Red Noose within this chest will strangle people till they're blue in the face, causing 2d6 damage per round of strangulation but allowing them to slip through with 1hp remaining once they've turned Blue. It is also somewhat hidden, having passed through the bottom of the blue chest it is in and lying in a coil on the ground beneath the bottom of the chest, making it invisible to the casual observer unless the chest is moved.
2a-The chest here contains 1000 coins worth of Blue Gold, and also a small 1HD gelatinous cube within which the coins are suspended. The clue is the dust that has accumulated, apparently in thin air, in a uniform, flat layer 1 inch above the coins(on the top layer of the cube).
2b-The chest here is and contains an Immovable Rod that is Purple and therefore immaterial to things of exclusively red and blue hues. The chest is bolted from the inside by said immovable rod and made of heavy stone weighing 800 pounds, requiring an hour of pickaxing to break open or some manner of cleverness in moving the chest straight up 1 foot before opening, so the rod no longer holds it shut.
2c-Sealed away behind a 2' brick wall on all sides is the chest containing the Blue Diamond, which turns people Blue if light shone through it falls upon them and is worth 5000coins.
2d- This chest contains a Scroll Of Unfortunate Teleportation which can teleport the party anywhere in the world, provided they don't actually want to go there. Touching the chest it is contained inside teleports whatever touched it to a random room in the maze-vaults.
3a- This chest is made of glass and full of Rust Gas that makes it appear orange and opaque. The gas causes all exposed metal objects to save or crumble to dust, and metal objects that do save to turn Red.
3b-This chest is full of red hearts which function as red fruits, but grosser. The vampire will eat them if given the opportunity.
3c-The chest here is a mimic half starved from its inability to eat anything red or blue.
3d - The Blue Bulwark- A towershield that blocks all frontal attacks directed at the wielder, provided they are not Red or Purple, of course (Any bloodstained weapon likely counts as red). A 4hd skeleton blocks the entrance to this room with this unbreakablish defense, and is wielding a cursed purple longspear that stabs the user in the kidneys whenever it misses to poke through the shield.
4a-The Red Crystal Sword- A Vorpal Sword encrusted with Red crystals that make the handle unwieldable (unless you are blue or Purple) and the blade worthless except for use as a magical club  (unless you are striking a blue or purple enemy in which case the crystals are no hindrance).
4b- The Ruby Exemplar- This 5000coin value gem turns things Red if light is shone through it onto the target. The chest is not red via color trickery, but by virtue of being red-hot from a contained and enraged Fire Elemental.
4c-This chest is full of Blue shrunken heads from hanged criminals that function as blue fruits but grosser
4d-This room is defended by crossbow bolts that shoot from holes in the walls, change color, then shoot across the room again every round, alternating blue and red. Within the chest is the Purple Bolt that forces Purple beings struck by it to save or die.


Huge bookshelves and piles of junk have been stacked to the ceiling in rectangular-ish stacks. A player may find any mundane(though damaged) item here with 1d6 rounds of searching, albeit in a random color of Red, Purple, Blue, or regular. Climbing the piles of junk is easy but confusing to do in a rush- roll under Intelligence instead of climbing or anything if attempting to climb the stacks in a crisis situation (such as being swarmed by dogs)

The Sorcerer's Apprentice is here, and wields the Wand of Unblue that he will use to turn Purple things Red and Blue things Normal as it suits him. (It also turns green things yellow.) He has gone mad with power and will kill anyone who defies him even slightly. He also wields a regular whip that he uses to try to trip people at range so the dogs can eat them. His only memorized spell is two casts of GreasePaint(as Grease), one Red and one Blue, which he will use to keep people prone or make them fall from the junk-piles if they are climbed.
If defeated he will cacklingly reveal the Wand of Unred has been taken by the kraken. He will, ideally, flee from combat to the Color Cavern before this happens where the two great guardian beasts will be unable to harm him so long as he is Purple.

The Mad Dogs- Two dozen dogs, 6 red, 6 blue, 6 purple, 6 normal. All are mad with hunger and confusion over constantly passing through each other and fight as 1hd monsters that attack randomly, unaware of their coloration, until someone is dragged down by their attacks, at which point they all try to maul downed individuals. They will prioritize eating over fighting.

The Cleaning Demon
- The polyamorous lover of both the vampire and wizard, the wizard turned the demon purple out of jealousy, causing the rift between himself and the vampire and alienating the demon, who aided the apprentice to get back at the wizard, but now regrets their actions and wishes to get things back to normal and also devour the uppity apprentice's soul. the apprentice Unred'd the thing and turned it blue for his own safety. The demon currently appears as a hulking blue ogre-maid and is responsible for keeping the place tidy and maintaining the junk-stacks. The apprentice(or anyone paying attention when the apprentice foolishly reveals the name) may command the demon for one round by invoking their true name '
Manushakaguyn'  but this will enrage the demon if the command is frivolous or against the demon's own desires. The demon is already furious with the apprentice, of course, and will be well-pleased if chromatically reunited with both the vampire and wizard. If only reunited with one of the two, will be annoyed as that's what started this whole mess, and the vampire or wizard will be pleased if able to interact with their lover, and incensed if denied once more.

A room of Red and Blue stalagmites, stalactites, and columns, with a lake of chilly water taking up the left side of the room that is spanned by the Blue Bridge. If entered by anyone but the Wizard the Kraken and Dragon are both alerted and will arrive in 1d6 rounds (roll separately) to slay intruders with grasping tentacles and burning breath, and to incidentally
guard the Purple Pedestal, upon which is engraved the following spells. The center of the room where the Pedestal sits can be reached both by dragon-breath and Kraken-tentacle, but they cannot reach tentacles/breathe fire more than a few dozen feet past their own 'side'
  • Redden-  Turns a target Red, or a blue target purple.
  • Bluify- Turns a target Blue, or a red target purple.
  • GreasePaint- As the spell Grease, but the grease is a color of your choice and dries into paint in a few minutes.
  • Polychromorph Other-Turns a target into another living form that you have seen before, provided both target and intended transformation are the same color.
  • Painted Gate- Summons a random demon of a color of your choice. If you know a demon's true name and color, you may summon them specifically.
  • Drawjim's Instant Dog- Grows a dog from a mammal corpse. Dog is of similar size to corpse.
  • Fireball- As Fireball, but Red
  • Ice Storm- As Ice Storm but Blue
  • Wall of Fire- As wall of fire, but Red
  • Animate Red- As Animate Dead, but only works on Red corpses
GUARDIAN DRAGON LAIRStats as an adult red dragon. It is of merely animal intelligence, being a Polymorphed dog, and too big to leave its lair, though with a long, sinuous neck and a long jet of fire, it is still a menace for any entering the Color Cavern (right side) It will, however, stick its head out to fry anyone trying to reach the color cavern or sorcerous chamber back entrance- the safe route to the color cavern is through the maze-vaults. Around its neck are the keys to the chests in the maze vaults. It is not as clever as the Kraken and does not understand what's going on with colors.

The lair itself is a series of descending concentric stone ledges with a lava pool at the bottom and a few streams of lava trickling down into the center. It is full of fumes, broiling hot, and an unpleasant place to be for anything but a dragon. Holes in the ceiling lead back to the Trapped Doors area.

KRAKEN LAIR- an underground lake frozen over partially by thick, floating ice-bits. The Wand of unred is at the bottom and it has turned the water here full-on Blue, meaning Red and Purple characters can traverse the place as though it were a hollow cavern filled with air instead of water, and the Kraken is limited to being Blue here lest it 'fall' through the blue water and splatter. The reason for the chill is due to excessive Ice Storm target practice.
It will swim up the channel to menace people with its tentacles, but for the most part cannot reach much past the left side of the Color Cavern.

Friday, May 10, 2019

Excerpts From A Second-Hand Necronomicon

pictured: actual real-life selfie of me writing this self-indulgent post about some dead wizards my players stomped in prior campaigns
The Necronomicon, by Abdul Alhrazed, Astronomer-Necromancer (early 3rd sun)
(Corrections Courtesy of  Sarkomand, The Sorcerer-King, The Omnipotent!) (4th Sun)
(test results of queens-consort neroikos) (late 3rd ranging to 4th)
(With advice for a modern audience by Magister Verdurus in the age of the 5th sun)
Rejoice, seekre of knowledge, for ye hold in your hands the lyfe's worke of Abdul Alhrazed(or more likelie, a copy of my great work). Belief me when I say I holde no ill wille towardes the race of menne nor womenne nor childrenne, butte sought only to understand lyfe and deathe, and wishe to spread this knowledge to all mortals, and even immortals such as the Alves(poor bastard was writing this before the intersolar war, ignore everything he says about Alves)

Though a broade subject, let it first be said that Necromancy is notte a art of deathe and darkness, but of LYFE and LYGHTE! The Soul is what we speake to, and grant new fleshe, so that the dead may once againne gaze uponne the sunlit realms. Ifn the ruling bodies of a land prove querulous and recalcitrante in accepting our blessinges, remembere that it is notte these foolishe kings and wytches, butte the elements and world, who are your true enemie. Air, Earth, and Water- all seek to expel our SOULS from our bodies, and reclaim our crude materiel bodies to their cold grasps. The ignorance of men may be rectified in time(dubious), butte the enmitie of the elementes is eternal and unrelenting, and to denie deathe, one must assert that LYFE and LIGHTE, the FYRE of the SOUL, is eternallie dominant over the elementes! (again, 3rd-sun scholar, he had never even heard of the purging flame of riikhus)

Before ye proceed, I would firstlie recommende seeking out the Haibane Yazata (he means a Vulch. Bird-person, endemic to Saresare) for though they are filthie and loathesome of aspect, they are mortal psychopomps entrusted with a deep empathie for the soul, and can teach ye muche of calling forth the spirits of the deceased, and perhaps most importantlie, of putting them back to rest. Do notte call up what ye can not putte down....  
Chapter One- Missing Parts
Ye have doubtless hearde of mightie menne and womenne fighting battles after taking fatal wounds, and the simple reasonne for this is that a bodie is merelie a vessel, the lantern holding the lyghte of the soul. A strong soul need not leave its bodie if it can endure painne and impairment. I examine the following issues with missing organs, butte advise ye, my student across time, to use bodies that died peacefullie(Ironic)(irrelevant) and to follow these instructional sketchings to inform ye barber-surgery and confirm all organs are present before proceeding.

  1.  The Brainne- This soft cushionne exists so our fierie souls might be comfortable and dreaming in our crude bodies of fartinge mudde. With no brainne, a bodie will be discomfited and confused, unable to differentiate between things within the world. Bodies with no brainnes are suitable onlie for mindless-seeming slaves to obey magickal commandes to the lettere, or as hosts for souls that ye fear would be too powerful to release into the world with a full bodie. (a truly powerful soul has no need for a body at all, but they may want one badly. my queen will have a proper one, soon enough...)The better the brainne, the better the feeling and control of the bodie, and so a certain lust for brainnes may manifeste in undead with withered or damaged brainnes, out of agonizinge desire to heal themselves, not maliciousness. Thinke well before e'er raising a Skeleton, and pay ye embalmers well!
  2. The Skull- a Skull is a beacon for appropriate souls to inhabit a bodie. Ye may find yourself infusing headless corpses with the confused souls of wyrmmes of the earth, squiddes of the sea, and snailes of the both, and other boneless blasphemies if ye are luckie, and if unluckie, ye may call forth the dead of the First and Forgotten Sun, the nameless nightmare dreamers of whom i wille not speak(in this text at least)(alluding to later work, Nameless Cults)
  3. The Heart, And The Bloode- The power of a bodie resides in the heart and the bloode, and dry bones lacking either will be of limited strength. Rotten bodies and those chopped and hewnwill likewise be of limited power, relying on strength of spirit. A bled bull inhabited by a standard spirit will be of little use as a plow animalle, while a childe's dry bones inhabited by a mightie warrior of ages past will have the strength of ten menne. (small bodies enable flight with a sufficiently strong soul. stitched giants tend to be unable to so much as twitch. souls spontaneously generate and incubate within bodies, however, allowing for artificially gestated souls to be matched to special projects.) (Vampirism of the first-order is a curse that affects the soul itself, second-degree vampirism is the disease spirit offspring of a first-order vampire attaching themselves to living hosts.)
  4. Liver- Thinke of the liver as a prism for the soul, amplifying desire in the basest senses. Love, hunger, fear... A bodie with no liver is a colde thinge, alienated from humanne desires, and driven onlie by ideologie and logick. (Not necessarily a bad thing for a minion) Alves do notte have livers so do not fret if ye cannot find one. (Wrong, Alves DO have withered vestigial lily livers, as do Elves. It's Snakemen who don't have them at all.)
  5. Stomach And Viscera- The lacke of guts allows for spirit-flight more easilie, butte the cold earth, even a sprinkling of sand, will oppress passage of a bodie without them, explaining the popularitie of subterranean graves even in lands where the skull-moon does notte go. Beware the so-called 'purifying saltes' that will strike the gutless bodies like an onager-stone (Feels more like slingstones, I'd say)
  6. Bladder- A parallel of the guts, butte for water. A bodie with no bladder may not resist the flow of water, making rain paralyzing and even streams impassable without a bridge. The ocean will devour bodies without bladders in a flash! (not so bad in darkness and deep, deep ocean. Unfortunately, there are aquatic grues. Sunken necropoli are rarely worth effort)
  7. Lungs- A parallel of the guts and bladder, butte for air. The wind itself will be a bodies' enemie, a thousand invisible daggers on everie breeze, and everie incense burner an impassable wall! (M'shesh breathes the Black Wind and is my personally recommended intermediary)(incense aside, wind is manageable assuming you wear clothes, but this was before the covenant of lightning. Day clouds=almost as bad as sunlight these ages. If your minions start falling apart for no reason, check the lungs)
Chapter Two- Species And Souls
  1. Humannes-It is important to knowe the culture of a soul, so to avoid offense and reach agreements...(Forget all this, see Appendix B, for 'Boozehound Brigands' whose souls will serve perfectly well in most situations, provided their liver is intact enough to get sozzled and you can understand some archaic Common)
  2. Dwarves- I have notte met many of the stubborne folk of stone, butte their own necromantic artes are based on ancestral bloodlines and ornate crypts where the dead remain vigilant, to one day defende the living in a time of ultimate peril. It speakes to their fortitude that their dead can cling to such wounded bodies for so longe... as suche, I would not seek to raise a Dworf for fear of the obstinate ideologie and prior obligations sure to rise up...(induced vampirism excellent at altering priorities. Bizarre inorganic dietary options emerge) (Sounds like Sarkomand accidentally recreated nascent Svarts, though in a mineral-deprived, feral state.)
  3. Alves- While one may raise the Bodie of an Alf with a different soul(initial experimentation with soulless, elf-homunculi resulted in the occasional spontaneous possession of the bodies by hyperbolically competent alves when the iron moon passed by. security risk, all elf-clones destroyed.), the Alf-soul will likelie alreadie be departed to a Lunar Mirror and rejoining the circle of lyfe in a new bodie. Alves are an enlightened people who do not mistake the container for the content, and are most tolerant of the so-called 'undeade' so longe as they are not gruesome and abhorrent to their sensitive ears (this is not true of Elves these days, and if it is true you're probably dealing with a post-collapse Alf who should be slain and their dark-stained soul sent back to the Iron Moon.)
  4. Haibane Yazata(vulch)-The spirits of the sacrede yazata are very strong, but they scavenge lowlie bodies on their own should they choose to return to lyfe, and compelling them to take a bodie they do not consider abandoned is follie. I found this out the harde way when my instructor, Nasir, took an Arrow to the Gut and slowlie perished despite my offers of assistance, and I hope that his lessons are expressed in this booke...(Ignoring this lengthy eulogy, know that the vulch can set to rest undead with their humming and singing, but not Skull-Moon undead. Also know that the Church of the Bell Exorcist is derived from their songs, and their instruments are both of great use to necromancers, and of terrible danger to the undead.)
  5. Ningen- A race of gentle and fishie giants of the sea, their spirits flow like water back to the sea upon deathe, and are most difficulte to call back from the depths, and the sea, being of salt and water and a great profusion of lyfe, is most inhospitable to the long-term condition of the bodie. As such I was unable to restore the fallen princesse of the Ningen despite my best efforts, and have notte heard from the sea-folk again since my unfortunate failure, and so my knowledge is most limited on this subject.
  6. Snakes- The great mother of serpents Yg, a friendlie(HA!) black-haired priestess of whom helped editte this booke into the commone tongue, of course discovered necromancie and many other wonders beside in those forgotton Ages, butte has kept their secrets within her libraries and amonge the snakepeoples and their ancient crypts that survived the Age of Dragonnes. Suffice it to say that you should notte meddle with the affairs of serpents, (HA!) butte Dragonnes are fair game in the eyes of Yg. Beware that dragon souls are most unreasonable, and their bodies are large and unwieldie for other Spirits to use, butte rewarding if a suitable match can be found.
  7. Beasts- When raising the spirits of beasts, carnivores for savagerie and domestic spirits for obedience are -(Stop reading his ramblings, use queen bee souls!) (Unless you're really into making your minions double as literal honeypots, when it comes to bugs, ant souls are the ideal mix of unthinking obedience and natural cooperation. Don't use Dogs unless you're Yuban, but cat-souls are good if you want a natural predator that you don't have to pay much attention to. Bird souls too, oddly enough.)
  8. Plants- It is relativelie easie to raise a plant into a state of preserved stasis, as seen in the eternal forests of the alves, butte nearlie impossible to restore one to any semblance of lyfe. They are too close to the cycle of elementes and the Sun for their souls to be of great use, and a humanne soul within a tree will have greate difficultie moving such heavy limbs. (Also, while they're great to pillage for stashed corpses, do not ever bring undead close to a grave-tree. Those things are near elementals in terms of their hatred for undead) 
  • Ghouls- Ghoul Fever is a fundamentally elemental process- life consuming life, as life is wont to do, but only ever consuming and assimilating, not reproducing. Ghouls maintain their organs by devouring the dead, and as such are not found in violation of the elemental covenant. I think, carefully managed, that Ghouls will be the perfect servants for the west fortress, and further proof of how far I have exceeded Abdul's understanding of the opposition of elements to the undead. Also works on Dogs- the Jackal God is displeased, but powerless to oppose me.
  • goblins, ogres, and other alfspawn- highly morphogenic bodies proved useful in biomancy, but nearly useless for necromancy, as their souls were suggestions at best, vestigial, embryonic things. I could have taken the time to name them, but compliance was low. all were terminated after security risks grew too high. alf biomancy and abdul's necromancy are increasingly useless in my true task of freeing my queen from this accursed tree and into one of these dozens of bodies that so resemble her
  • Blight Fungus(?)- A wonderfully horrid crossbreed between undead fungus, darkness, and disease spirits led to the creation of a virulent life-mimicking corruption that spread via air and contact, and reacted very positively to necromantic energies (and poorly to flame and salt). I suspect all fungus may be a First-Sun life-form, explaining how lightly death touches it. Souls in infected bodies quickly lost morale, sanity, and finally their grip on the mortal realm entirely as their host bodies decayed into festering masses. A side effect arising from second-stage decay of blight itself results in airborne ghul-fever and the subsequent consumption of the infected- an immune response from the elemental covenant, I expect, and a damper on its spread. Though the City of Bells seems unfit for further experimentation, I have met with xxxx-xx-xxxxx who in turn has communed with a being of outer darkness xxxx for further alteration of the stuff. The neighboring desert country and the disgruntled 'Circle of Aldha' therein seem very promising for further collaborative research. 
Chapter Three- On the Dead of the Skull Moon
I belief we whomst've'd necromanced are so reviled for the superficiale resemblence of our art to that of the dread Skull Moon, and its hideous beyeings thereof. While it is true that the soul of a locust within the bodie of a manne, afflicted with confusion, pain, and unnatural hunger, may be a disturbing sight, it is still a living soul within a natural bodie. Butte the 'souls,' such as they are, of the Skull Moon Dead are all extensions of a singular idiot will that seeks to devour all goode sunlit lyfe, and devour our're warm souls to adde to the the pallid glow of the stonie bones of that fell moon. The necromancer reshuffles the cards dealt by lyfe, butte the moon is unlyfe itself! The difference could notte be more clear...

skull-dead- Looking down on the dry city of annu nki, I sometimes am at a loss as to how to continue my work, and I merely note the dead and the dehydrated in hopes of inspiration and a superior catalogue to Aadul's meagre bestiary- the slaughter and progressive stages of undeath I witnessed from the slaughtered brigands who had the temerity to seek shelter at my gates...
day 1-crawling claws, flying heads, gutsnakes, crawlers, skinkites, muscle slugs, skulletons. weak, easily dispatched pieces of the whole. a grotesque necessity of making do with bits and pieces of entire bodies, an emphasis on stealth and assassination. under the light of skull, dismemberment is recruitment.
day 2-drowned, hangmen, butchers, bloatfloats, zoonbies. upper levels of cathedral sealed and warded against fliers with both strength and thumbs, wells sealed to prevent amphibious entrance. the dead are starting to show task-specialization.

day 3-tomb-bursters, plaguehosts, gravemoles, maggoteers. noise and stench absolutely grotesque. the stage is set to pillage the locked-away dead as well as the living now, and poison the land, barren though it be. i have no fear of conspiring disease spirits.
day 4-the winter moon is come, a brief conjunction, skull ascendant. unfrozen, rot oozes, redbogs. decay, frost, the dead raising the dead. i sent forth my own organ-takers and crypt wights, all lost despite cloud cover. The very soil and snow crawl with animated blood and unidentifiable flesh sloughs that extinguish burning oil due to sheer mass- thank my queen for the tree's desiccating roots that destroy these liquid threats.
day 5-devouring cages, coffin-crawlers, skin-flayers, swallowers, red pythons. amalgamation of yesterday's crude masses into singular forms, the accoutrements of crypts repurposed into war machines. my acids are distilled, and poured down the walls en masse. the moonspawn smoke and wither to nothing, but they have no self-preservation and press the accursed stone of the cathedral itself.
day 6- dust wraiths, hair-horrors, smoking ones. even my strongest countermeasures begin failing, as beings reduced to ash and dust simply refuse to stay dead in the glaring light of the will of skull. every gate warded with a hundred knives, and my failed dolls sent out as sacrificial lambs, though they join the horde themselves. even with their twisted forms, they still count as human for the reanimation process. 
day 7-the taker of skulls- gigantic amalgamate skeleton with a hundred skulls & arms 20 feet long with 5 hands on each end. I lured it into the crypts and the roots of the immortal tree that holds my queen prisoner showed the impromptu avatar that without the light of skull it was nothing but bones to be scattered and buried. the sun finally comes and the skull moon flees.

Chapter 4- The Jealous Elementes
The humanne bodie is composed of  a balance of air, water, and earth, with sunlyghte composing the animating lyghte of the soul. While a soul can impose masterie over these elementes, once deathe has occured, the elementes will seek to reclaim the bodie via the forces of decay, and in some cases, via brutishe calamitie of lyghtning, earthquake, tornado, volcano, flood, and so on. It is told to me that these elementals are somehow in service to the sun, and that the dead are in violation of some pact, butte how could this be, when the sun is merely a great lyght wrought of iron and magick and set in the sky by Alves and Dwarves, which is predated by far by the elementes?
That aside, the division of elementes into sunlit and dark, anthropomorphic or formless, is of greate interest to me and I would lyke to return to the subject(
he never does, but the academy library on heleologos has various excellent works on the subject of elementals both shadowed and sunlit)  in its own right beyond these simple charms, which should be performed for all bodies set to be raised.
The Warding of Sky-Obtain some pan-pipes, and perform the following piece(a reversed vulch-lullaby) to communicate to the air that the bodie is not dead. Convincing the animated bodie to breathe will aid greatlie in the longevetie of this ward. (speed of the piece should vary based on ambient wind speed.) (Any instrument using breath will do, including singing of sufficient quality) 

The Warding of Sea- Next, or perhaps during the warding of sky, the bodie should be washed thoroughly, and given to drink an elixir of wine, bloode(preferably of a live enemy), and spit(preferably of a live lover), to convince the elemente of water that the bodie is still alive and engaging in drinking, fighting, and loving.
The Warding of Stone-Upon the leg and toe-bones, certain runes should be scrimshawed, with minimal rending of the flesh to access the bones. The runes Stability and Balance aid greatlie in giving a bodie a proper walk, as opposed to an unsightlie shuffle, and a drum should be beaten as the bodie is gifted with a new soul, to beat the cadence of living movement that the bodie should learn as quicklie as possible, and convince the grim and listening earth that the footsteps uponne it are that of a living being, full of vigor and lyfe.

(such trifling wards are of no matter if one commands the elements as easily as the dead, of course)

Appendix A- Undead Categorizations- Naturally, the painless, faithful, and pacifistic undead of M'shesh are not listed here
Barely cognizant due to lacking a brain, but possessed of an indomitable will that refuses to abandon even such a terrible body.
Zombie- Not much better than a skeleton, but stronger, and able to move in dead silence. Angry cat spirits account for the stealth

Ghoul- All consuming hunger for flesh, a paralyzing touch, sane when well fed, bestial otherwise. Would be the perfect soldiers were it not for their distractible nature and corpse-obsession. Dogs extremely dangerous when infected. A grey area between the living and the dead.

White One(long since bastardized to wight)-Similar to a zombie, but death-pale, ice-cold, better preserved and so capable of rational thought. Their soul is too powerful to be driven out save by weapons that can strike the soul directly, and their touch is the touch of a soul trying to devour another soul. Such power! Such force of will! 
Shadows- Reflections, barely alive.Not sure if actually derived from living things or just stupid simulacra that convinced themselves they deserved to be real. (could this be an account of successfully reanimated goblin-kin?)
Wrath(long since bastardized to wraith)-An imprint of incredible ill-will. Not the soul of a person, but an impression of hate, not enough to live on its own, but enough to kill and try to claw its way into full life. I think my retainer Oza casts one of these as her shadow naturally, ha ha!
Ghosts, Spirits, Etc- This is the full soul, of course. As a full soul, it can take bodies for itself. What terrible geas binds the soul to the world even after the body and all else is long gone? That won't happen to me. For I will never die!
Mummy- Somehow related to whatever went wrong in that temple-town of M'shesh, these shambling brutes are helped along by a bound disease spirit aiding their strength. Really, not much more than a dirty, spice-scented zombie. Buried the lot of them under the sand-moon.
Vampires- The curses involved are too elaborate to expound upon in a charity appendix in someone elses book, but a proper viewpoint sees eternal life and a bamboozlement of vengeful elementals as a blessing, not a curse, no matter how M'shesh wails at the thought of her dead devouring the living. A vampire who is depressive and not exuberant is defective.

Appendix B-  Boozehound Brigands
Ruznur Zcun- Mountain bandit of a bygone age who graffiti'd his name in a cave wall. Limited familiarity with modern accoutrements and believes alcohol to be a magic spell. Do not mistake this ignorance for stupidity. My go-to big game hunter.

Admiral Torgrin- Much happier if promised a ship. Allowing him to call forth his own damned crew will inevitably result in a mutiny, but setting him in charge of any other crew results in faster mutinies. Understands dwarvish Boompowder, piracy/privateering, and naval strategy.

Scutty Pyotyr- Vint-Savoth bandit and ex-werewolf. Good at controlling dead with carnivore animal souls. Doesn't mind animal bodies. Will probably escape into the wilderness sooner or later, more effort than it's worth to keep around once he gets wanderlusty.

Tecs Vulsus- Mercian Riikhite- will do any task so long as you twist it into being a holy crusade against heretics and the second coming of the 4th sun. Treats cognitive dissonance with alcohol. Recommendation- Pretend to be a Mokkhus Cleric, ie, somber, lawful, insistent he not stay too long in the living world(and discover, for instance, that Riikhus is dead and Mokkhus has been 'missing' for 200 years)

Failures of Nalil- Moonland berserkers who were not chosen for demonic ascension by their damned and blasted Carnage Moon, and are waiting for a second chance, which you can falsely promise. By now all the names I knew are devoured by their moon, but if you find one name, you should be able to find many more from that one, and simply turn them loose to cause murder and mayhem.

Butler Jeeves- Alf-raised fellow of impeccable service, even when utterly soused. Knows a variety of dead folk who have no outstanding engagements and will serve in a domestic sense without much complaint, due to their servile upbringings and alcoholic inclinations.

As a parting note- always remember that though society spurns our art, you are never alone. We dead masters of bygone times are just a ritual away, and all too willing to return and share our wisdom with neophytes beginning their journeys.