Monday, October 26, 2020

Something is Not Right in the House of Mald (Part 1)

Photo by Tim Mossholder
It's not often that I get a chance to play an rpg one-on-one, but the other day I had the chance to run Necro-Cavaliers of the Astral Galaxy (my science-fantasy hack of Lasers & Feelings) for Anne of DIY & Dragons. Anne's character was Anomi Anomalisa Monalisa, a noblewoman trained as a necromancer and cavalier of House Satomi, a family attached to the God Empress's court as historians and scholars. 

Anomi was called upon to visit Ogra V, a backwater agricultural planetoid. A woman named Joella Mald and her son Micah were expected for a visit with Joella's sister Selenia, but they never arrived at Selenia's home. Anomi's first task was to locate the homestead of Sperlington Mald, Joella's husband and Micah's father. Anomi's initial face-to-face with Captain Varrigan, the constabulary administrator of Ogra V, did not go particularly well; it was clear that Varrigan was trying to dissuade Anomi from investigating further. He posited that perhaps Joella or Micah had fallen ill and forgotten to notify Selenia.

Anomi returned to orbit to delve into the records on her data slate to get a little additional information. Her first suspicion was that Sperlington Mald had run afoul of some enemies and his family had been abducted, but she uncovered no obvious enmity. However, she did discover that Sperlington and Joella had been taking their son to a variety of blood specialists. Delving deeper into the medical records, she found out that Micah seemed to be suffering from an unknown blood ailment that had so far resisted all treatment. In fact, there was something in his blood that seemed...inhuman.

The time had come to investigate the Mald homestead directly. The homestead consisted of a two-story house and a large barn surrounded by soybean fields. Mald's hauler was docked at a nearby landing port. As Anomi made her way up to the porch of the house, she heard a beeping sound that became more and more rapid; she realized, too late, that she was about to fired upon by a laser beam trap! Fortunately, she was tackled out of the way just in the nick of time by a handsome, clean-cut man raised on Wonder Bread. After extricating themselves from each other, he introduced himself as Deputy Durango. Captain Varrigan had assigned him to watch the house for "intruders," but he had found someone by the back door who had similarly fallen prey to the house's traps.

Anomi and her new lackey Deputy Durango resumed exploring the house. The house was in good order, with nothing notable missing, save for the occupants of the house. However, Anomi did discover Micah's data slate, which he mostly used as drawing pad; the first few images were normal, but then it began to seem like Micah was obsessed with drawing a strange alien creature with elongated limbs, dead black eyes, and a mouth full of fangs. Anomi's attempts to search the databases of known alien beings turned up nothing, but she did find strikingly similar creatures depicted in the woodcuts of one culture's historical treatises on witchcraft--these creatures were regarded as "demons" in the historical record.

However, one item in the house caught Anomi's attention: the door to the basement was not just locked with a conventional keypad; it was also being held shut with a necromantic ward made of black magic and bits of ribcage. What secret was it hiding in the depths of the house of Mald? Tune in next time to find out.

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Fiend Patrons in Krevborna

Mastery of the arcane can be gleaned through the study of heavy tomes laden with occult secrets, but some who seek power instead choose to become conduits for the power of entities that are beyond human understanding. The following four fiends are particularly active in recruiting mortals to their service.


Calysti is an archdevil that glorifies perversion and uses seduction as her preferred weapon to corrupt humanity. She is a sadomasochist who views pain and degradation as the highest forms of beauty and art. Everything that should illicit disgust instead excites and titillates her. She even finds the thought of her own downfall and destruction to be arousing. Her favorite pleasure, however, is breaking the will of the pious.

Appearance. A beautiful woman clad in finery and an ornate choker; the archetypal winged succubus. 

Common Symbol. A heart engulfed in flames or a braided whip.


Damophet is baseness incarnate. He is a demon lord of many lusts; both an indiscriminate, bestial sexuality and a monstrous lust for blood define his nature. Damophet’s goal is to refashion humanity in his own image, rendering mankind nothing more than a slavering mass of desires that are never truly quenched. Damophet is plagued by dissatisfaction—he is a creature of ruinous want that cannot be satiated. 

Appearance. A hulking beast covered with shaggy fur with a ram-like head.

Common Symbol. A ram skull.


Gyraphon is an archdevil associated with war, conquering, and militaristic violence. He cares only for victory and is willing to sacrifice even his most devoted followers on the battlefield to ensure his triumph. In his eyes, everyone and everything is a tool to enable his glory. Gyraphon is also the most philosophical of the archdevils. He is emotionless, and his plans are long-ranging stratagems spanning centuries.

Appearance. A breathtaking androgynous soldier armored in shining steel who bears an elegant saber.

Common Symbol. A peryton in flight.


Khelana, also known as the Demon Womb or the Demon Queen of Fecundity, believes in a curious utopia; she dreams of a world populated by a ceaseless sea of demonic monstrosities that continuously fight and copulate among themselves for eternity. Khelana is a dangerous trickster; she rejoices in spreading disorder and luring mortals to their doom. Some occult scholars also regard her as the source of all arcane magic.

Appearance. Her lithe human torso is perched atop the body of a massive, bloated arachnid. She wields a flaming sword.

Common Symbol. A spider covered in eyes.

Monday, October 19, 2020

Japanese Horror

Three interesting Youtube videos about Japanese horror.

What Happened to Japanese Horror?
- Screened

The Grudge & Ringu: What Makes Japanese Horror Creepy?
- Bluelavasix

A short history of Japanese Horror
- One Hundred Years of Cinema

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

Strahd versus Dracula

Did you know that it is a canonical possibility that Strahd could face off against Dracula?

Let me explain.

It is generally well known that the Ravenloft setting pulls people from other realms into the Land of the Mists. The setting has characters from other settings such as Krynn, Faerun, Athas, and Oerth. The mists of Ravenloft can also abscond with characters from Gothic Earth--a setting that where all the elements of the Victorian Gothic are real rather than fictional. In fact, Ravenloft has a domain--Odiare--that was stolen from Gothic Earth's Italy.

And that's where Dracula comes in.

Dracula is one of the great evils of the Gothic Earth setting. If the mists can incorporate Odiare into its patchwork of horrors, there's no reason why it could not also pull Dracula from Gothic Earth's Transylvania and insert him in Ravenloft as the dark lord of a new domain. Of course, if that were to happen, it's only a matter of time until Dracula and Strahd square off to determine who is the true lord of the undead. What a horrible war for player characters to find themselves in the middle of...

Monday, October 12, 2020

A History of Horror

A History of Horror

This is a three-part documentary on the horror film genre made by the BBC and Mark Gatiss.

Frankenstein Goes to Hollywood

Home Counties Horror

The American Scream