Wednesday, December 30, 2015

The Best in Brutality: 2015

It's the end of the year, more or less, so that means "Best of" lists. These were my favorite heavy things of the year.

The Black Dahlia Murder - Abysmal

Der Weg Einer Freiheit - Stellar

Lychgate - An Antidote for the Glass Pill

Myrkur - M

Sabbath Assembly - s/t

Monday, December 28, 2015


I'm currently really interested in the idea of "downtime" actions in RPGs. What do characters get up to in-between adventures? Traditionally, things like learning spells, making magic items, building a stronghold/attracting followers, and training time for level ups (if needed) were the big downtime actions. In 5e D&D, we've got: building a stronghold, carousing, crafting magic items, gaining renown, performing sacred rites, running a business, selling magic items, and sowing rumors.

But man, I know what I do in my downtime: I read books.

Time to make a mechanic for that.

  • Each book that has something worth learning in its pages has a Difficulty Class associated with being able to make use of its useful information.
  • As a downtime action, a player can make an Intelligence check against that Difficulty Class to see if their character has successfully navigated the book and come away with useful knowledge.
  • On a successful check, the character gains whatever bonus is associated with the book (see below for some examples)
  • On an unsuccessful check, the character has to roll on the This Thing Reads Like Stereo Instructions Table.

d100 This Thing Reads Like Stereo Instructions
1-20 Something came up that distracted you from the book; roll on the Carousing Table instead.
21-30 The book's mysteries are impenetrable without assistance; you're going to need to invest in 1d4x10 gp worth of reference books to attempt reading this book again.
31-40 The book's mysteries are impenetrable without assistance; you're going to need to find an expert on the book's topic and convince them to help you understand what you're reading.
41-60 You read half the book, then misplaced it. You'll find it again by the next downtime cycle.
61-80 You simply failed to internalize the book's information
81-90 The book is incomplete! You're going to need to find another copy of this particular volume.
91-100 Reading the book was an arduous task. You got nothing useful out of it and start play with one level of exhaustion.

Sample Books:

Sanguine Psalms of the Martyrs
Difficulty Class: 15
Fluff: A hymnal filled with inspiring songs that sing the praises of the Saintly Blood in gruesomely-detailed chants dealing with wounds, blood, and holy agony.
Effect: You start play with Inspiration.

A True Account of Surviving the Silent Forest, by Almina Fromme
Difficulty Class: 10
Fluff: A first-hand account of a woman who survived the supernatural predations of a particularly nasty and haunted forest.
Effect: You gain advantage on any Wisdom (Survival) checks made in the Silent Forest for a week after reading the book.

The Ghastly Brood!, by Hesta Prym
Difficulty Class: 15
Fluff: A compilation of a particularly melodramatic penny dreadful that is infamous for its scenes of gore and bloodshed.
Effect: Something horrific you encounter makes you recall a passage from this book; since you're now inured to that image you gain advantage on this particular save vs. fear or horror.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Bloodborne's Gothic Influences

Aesthetically-speaking, it obvious that Bloodborne takes a great deal of inspiration from the Gothic. But what of its themes? Well, let's explore the connection between Bloodborne and its Gothic influences a bit:

Religion is Corrupt
In many Gothic novels--especially those written by 18th century Britons--the Catholic Church is portrayed as a corrupt institution. For example, Matthew Lewis's The Monk makes the case that the Catholic faith's culture of sexual repression allows the titular monk Ambrosio to be easily seduced by the Devil's ploys, as well as indicting the power, wealth, and pageantry of the Church as evidence of its focus on worldly matters instead of spiritual concerns. Other Gothic fictions, such as Poe's "The Pit and the Pendulum" and Ann Radcliffe's The Italian, dramatize the Church's excesses as sadism that operates under the guise of religious correction.

In Bloodborne, your character has come to Yharnam to be cured of an unnamed disease by the blood ministration of the Healing Church. However, as you progress through the game you realize that the Healing Church doesn't offer blood ministration simply out of altruism; instead, the Healing Church is using blood ministration to control the populace while using that same population as lab rats for its various experiments with otherworldly blood. Notice that if you send any survivors you encounter to Iosefka's clinic, they will be experimented upon and that the impostor Iosefka wears the garb of a Healing Church agent. Furthermore, the Healing Church is shown to be not just responsible for the beastly transformation of the populace; it is also involved in a cover-up of its responsibility. Ultimately, the Church Hunters are actively disposing of the victims of Church's experiments, and Old Yharnum was burned in an attempt to destroy evidence of the truth about blood ministration. 

Man's Nature is Bestial
The results of the Healing Church's blood ministrations reveal another Gothic theme: man is not so far removed from base beasts as we might like to believe. In Rudyard Kipling's "The Mark of the Beast," European colonists in India discover that the heart of a predator beats within their breasts, despite their ideological belief that as white men they represent the apex of civilization. When one of their number is transformed into a werewolf-like creature, it is revealed that European culture and the norms of "civilization" are simply a veneer that hides the savagery of the human condition. Similar transformations are laced throughout Bloodborne: the animal-like men and women of Yharnam created by the Healing Church's blood ministration are further evidence that it's possible for civilized people to devolve into ravening beasts.

Oh, and it's already happened to you as well. Take a look at your hand when you perform a visceral attack; the reason why your hand is monstrous and claw-like is because you too have been tainted by blood ministration and have begun to backslide into a bestial state. Father Gascoigne's plot line isn't just the horrifying tale of a man who gives in to bloodlust and kills his wife--he's a cautionary tale about your continuing degeneration into something both more and less than human.

Science and the Supernatural Are Not Separate
I think people sometimes get the wrong impression about the existence of a well-tended dichotomy between science and the supernatural in Gothic fiction. While in some stories there is a binary opposition between science as a manifestation of reason and progress and supernaturalism as an overflow of passion and superstition, it's more often the case that science and the supernatural work in tandem. Note that in Shelley's Frankenstein Victor's education in the discipline of natural sciences combines with his research into discredited alchemical theories to produce the secret of creating life from inanimate matter. In Machen's The Great God Pan, neurosurgery is used according to mystical ideas to pierce the boundary between the material world and a spiritual plane of existence. In Stoker's Dracula, the only way the heroes manage to defeat the vampire is by utilizing the latest technology (blood transfusions, steam conveyances, the telegram, phonograph recording) alongside Van Helsing's knowledge of ancient folklore and superstition.

The obviously supernatural horrors of Bloodborne are all related to scientific inquiry and experimentation. The discoveries about the alien Great Ones made by the scholars of Byrgenwerth are pursued with scientific rigor; the Healing Church's blood ministrations take a magical substance and apply it via medical science; the inventions of the various hunter's workshops meld supernatural effects (such as the sparks of the darkbeasts) with weapon technology to create new implements of battle (such as the blue-sparking tonitrus). Bloodborne's terrors sit firmly at the junction of science and the fantastical.

Abjection is Everywhere
The importance of blood is a given in a game named Bloodborne, but it's interesting how often blood is particularly associated with women in the game. 

As far as I've discovered, only women give you special vials of blood. Iosefka, Adella the nun, Arianna the prostitute each offer you a special kind of blood vial, and the last two give you blood that is explicitly their own. (Also note that both Adella's and Arianna's behavior changes with the rise of the Blood Moon.) 
Queen Annalise is a vampiric "vileblood"; swearing an oath to her involves drinking her blood, and she will then send you in search of blood dregs to bring back to her. Lady Maria of the Astral Clocktower makes use of a weapon that requires her to shed her own blood; as the fight with her progresses, her attacks become accompanied by waves of damaging blood residue. 

The reason why there are so many close associations of blood with women in Bloodborne is to reinforce the idea of abjection. As Julia Kristeva asserts in Powers of Horror, abjection signifies being “cast-out” or marginalized, and the descriptive tropes that most often mark this state are blood and other "disgusting" bodily fluids. (Note that Lady Maria also seems to have something to do with the experiments with brain fluid in the Old Hunters DLC.) When women are depicted in terms of the horror that often attends Gothic descriptions of menstruation or childbirth, they're being portrayed in terms of the abject; because the biological realities of being a woman are made monstrous in these stories, the very state of being a woman becomes associated with disgust, revulsion, and excrescence.

That Bloodborne couples its female characters with images of blood makes sense when you realize that the central premise of the game is one of horrific childbirth. After all, Queen Yarnam is both associated with blood (the front of her white dress is stained with her blood after she gives birth to a child given to her by the Great Ones and when you fight her she turns into an erupting fountain of tainted blood) and with a distorted, horrifying image of grotesque motherhood. Arianna's story line reinforces this connection as well; not only is she associated with blood in two ways (she gives you blood vials and her blood is related to the vileblood of Cainhurst), she is also fated to give birth to an inhuman monstrosity. Also, look at the blood dregs you collect for Annalise...they're some sort of bloody sperm. No wonder they're said to allow Annalise to give birth to a "child of blood."

It's called the Nightmare of Mensis for a reason.

The Uncanny
Have you ever attacked the Plain Doll in the Hunter's Dream? Notice that she bleeds too. Also note that she will care for you as a "child" if you complete the "good ending." Add that to the speculation above about women, blood, and childbirth, if you dare.

But let's also dwell on what the Doll adds in terms of Gothic conventions. The Doll is uncanny. She looks human, but it's clear from her dialog and strange, stilted mannerisms that she is an automaton of some kind given "life" by the Hunter's Dream. As such, she represents Freud's ideas of the unheimlich; since she blurs the line between animate life and inanimate object, she becomes an alien, disquieting figure. The Doll functions a lot like the statue in Thomas Hardy's "Barbara of the House of Grebe": she becomes the uncanny, material substitute for the kind of safety that is craved in its real, human absence. Of course, you'll eventually realize that despite not being human she's easily one of the more safe and secure characters you'll meet in the game. Except...take a look at the color of her blood again. What other creatures have that color of blood in the game? Best not think on that too much, good hunter.

The Present is Haunted by the Past
When Hamlet's father tells him that "the time is out of joint," he essentially codified the most important convention of Gothic literature: something horrible happened in the past and the reverberations from that event continue to haunt the present. The idea of haunting is central to the first Gothic novel, Horace Walpole's The Castle of Otranto: the usurpation of the throne generations ago has resulted in both a tyrant acting as prince and the intrusion of specters from the past into the present. The fictions that followed Walpole's Gothic mode applied that convention as a tenet of faith.

Your character in Bloodborne similarly finds themselves encountering the troubling echoes of the misdeeds of the past. Why else would your experience points in this game be called "blood echoes"? Of course, you act as a hunter of monsters, dispatching both the transformed residents of Yharnam and the Great Ones who have been beckoned from across the cosmos, but you're forced into that role because of the actions taken by the Healing Church, the Byrgenwerth scholars, and the various hunters of the past generations. In fact, once the night of the hunt begins it's clear that time has stopped working in a linear sense--you meet characters who are long-dead or are otherwise trapped in the Hunter's Dream. One of the endings lets the break the cycle of repeating the past, but the other two keep you firmly within the cycle of disjointed time. The great irony of Bloodborne is that descending into the past to solve the riddle of what went wrong literally makes you part of the problem: if horrors were unleashed by the scholars of Byrgenwerth and the tomb prospectors when they explored the ruins of the ancient Pthumerian civilization, you merely extend the circular nightmare by delving into the history of those explorations.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Ripper Street, Season 3

I needed some bit of Victorian melodrama to fill the gaping void left in my life since the second season of Penny Dreadful ended; luckily, I had somehow missed the third season of Ripper Street in January, so it made for a handy replacement.

Ripper Street is a crime drama set in Whitechapel after the Jack the Ripper murders. Although the Ripper isn't present in the series, his shadow continues to lengthen across the East End of London; the area is rife with destitution, squalor, crime, and violence. The program follows three coppers are they try to institute justice and order without being fully dragged down into the brutality of the streets they police. Ripper Street could easily lapse into Whitechapel: SVU territory, but thankfully any police procedural traits are counterbalanced with a healthy dose of personal drama between the characters. 

The third season mostly concerns itself with a train robbery that inadvertently ends with a railway accident that claims the lives of many innocent residents of the East End. What is interesting about this plot line is its structure: usually in this kind of show the viewer follows along with the detectives, piecing the clues together as they come, hoping to discover who the guilty villain is. In the third season of Ripper Street, the responsible party is made clear to the viewer early on; all the drama and tension is wrapped up in watching the characters come to the same knowledge that the viewer possesses--and in the resolution of the fallout from that revelation.

If you're looking for a bit of gritty costume drama (or looking to fill the hole in your life in this post-Vanessa Ives world we live in) you could do much worse than turning to Ripper Street.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Prior Experience and Customizing Characters

Character creation in old-school systems is elegantly simple, but aside from your dice rolls characters of the same class are likely to be more or less mechanically the same. Character creation in newer systems tend to be a bit more involved (with several decision points built into the process), but that degree of customization means making a character takes more time. 

Below is my attempt at a "Goldilocks" solution: assume an OSR game like LotFP as the base, but this adds some quick options at character creation to differentiate characters at the outset:

Prior Experience To account for your character's experience prior to becoming an adventurer, customize them by choosing two items from the list below. You can pick the same benefit twice, if you like.

Esoteric Arts – Pick a 1st level spell; your character can cast this spell once per day.
Hardened – You get an extra die's worth of hit points plus Constitution modifier.
Resilient – You get +1 to saving throws.
Sharpened – Add +1 to your attack bonus.
Skilled – Add +1 to a skill of your choice.
Special Snowflake – Want a special ability not covered by the regular rules? Tell me what you've got in mind and we can probably work something out.
Windfall – You get another 3d6x10 silver pieces of wealth to spend or save as you see fit.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Saint of the Dark Places

  • According to certain apocryphal texts, Saint Melara hid the mortal body of a martyr deep within a cave so that his sacred form could not be defiled by his persecutors. Melara martyred herself by keeping watch over his corpse, eschewing food and water, until her own demise.
  • Melara is the saint of those who venture into the dark places of the earth. Miners and adventurers who explore the Grail Tombs petition for her protection and carry medals bearing her likeness.
  • Secrets are sacred to those who adopt Melara as their patron saint; to disclose a secret is to blaspheme against her holy name.
  • Those who devote themselves to her reverence often clothe themselves in perpetual mourning finery. Shrouds, hooded cloaks, veils, and black arm bands are the distinctive marks of those pledged to Melara.

Friday, December 4, 2015

Enemy of the Sun

Back in the early 90s, my hometown had a couple indie record stores--but they couldn't have been more different. One was a bootlegs-of-the-Dead-man and tie-dyes place that had a reputation for being a front for the local coke trade. I swear to god that the only thing you ever heard over their speakers were the fucking Allman Brothers. 

The other shop was the place to go. It was about the size of a walk-in closet, and the carpet smelled like a crime had been committed on it and then hastily covered up, but it had the weird stuff: punk, metal, and alt. rock discs you weren't going to find anywhere else. In a town where the Misfits were super-obscure, this mattered. It was an oasis in the middle of the blighted, post-industrial upstate NY landscape. Sometimes we'd go there just to stand around inside because it felt like being anywhere but where we were from.

One of the guys who worked there fronted the big local hardcore punk band. For a while he made a little 'zine that they gave out at the front counter; the 'zine was essentially a "look, kid, here's what we just got in stock that you should be listening to" type of thing. Maybe it had some listings of upcoming shows or something too. Yeah, yeah, it was essentially an advertisement, but more importantly it had character and the recommendations refused to steer you wrong. 

One of the records that his 'zine strenuously urged me to check out was Neurosis' Enemy of the Sun. The description of it in the 'zine sounded good, but I was hesitant. When you're a teenager and the only money you have is gained through a series of odd (and probably soul-destroying) jobs, you've got to make every dollar spent on music count. But he put Enemy of the Sun on the store's stereo and that was it. No need to put it in a bag, it is going in the Discman as soon as I'm out of the shop.

Enemy of the Sun was my first taste of Neurosis, but it wouldn't be my last. If you haven't yet, click the above for your first taste. You can trust me on this; for weird kids living in the midst of decaying factory towns, music was all we had. Now you should have some too.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Saint Azia of the Thorns

  • Although she is an obscure saint of the Church of Saintly Blood, shrines and lonesome chapels devoted to Azia of the Thorns are found throughout Krevborna.
  • Those who take Azia as their patron saint believe that the mortal world is suffused with suffering because pain and torment are transcendental experiences. They believe that both physical pain and emotional torment are to be indulged in and felt deeply.
  • Since pain is a sacrament to those who follow Saint Azia of the Thorns, it is not uncommon for them to favor self-flagellation and the wearing of crude, barbed iron crowns.
  • Some organized worship of Azia is clearly a front for sadists and masochists to meet and ply their vices under the cover of religious fervor.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Grendel's Arm

The petrified arm of a massive beast, Grendel's Arm can be wielded as a two-handed weapon that does 1d10 damage. The arm still retains a measure of its inherent ferocity; after it has been wielded as a weapon by a character, it strikes out on its own against the same foe with an attack bonus of +6.

On an attack roll of one, the wielder of the Arm must make a Saving Throw vs. Magic Device. On a failed Save, Grendel's Mother becomes alerted to the location of the bearer of her son's arm.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Our Universal System Can Do All the Genres, Look!

THESIS: An "Our Universal System Can Do All the Genres, Look!" cover is invariably lame.


Let's illustrate that our game can handle ANYTHING YOU CAN IMAGINE by showing the most generic tropes floating around in space in...bubbles.

Or maybe quadrants? 

Hey that genres-in-quadrants thing that GURPS did above seems like a good idea! Right? Right?

Okay, what if we scrap the quadrants and just mash it all together? Oh, no, that's just a god-damn mess:

Okay, okay, let's simplify then. Less is more, right? Right?

Maybe simple will look better if we do a color gradient? Maybe?

Okay, that didn't work. Maybe if we make the cover look like the label of a body-building supplement?

Hmm, da Vinci is cool, right? Gamers love da Vinci!

This is what is looks like when you lose all hope:

Friday, November 20, 2015

Wildeacre Estate

Wildeacre is an estate in the rural country north of Piskaro; it has long been the seat of the Lacey family. The estate is currently owned and operated by the brother and sister team of Harry and Beatrice Lacey.

There is something rotten at work in Wildeacre.

Beatrice is unduly and obsessively attached to the land of Wildeacre. Her love of the estate and its farmland is a dark, pagan undercurrent of passion; whether through delusion or supernatural agency, the land whispers to her in her dreams.

When Beatrice realized that her brother would inherit the land she loved due to entailment and that she would inevitably be married off and sent to live on her husband’s property, she seduced Wildeacre’s groundskeeper, Ralph, and convinced him to assassinate her father. Once her father was out of the way, she seduced her craven, weak-willed brother Harry, the new lord of the estate, in order to maintain her connection to Wildeacre.

Harry would be an utter failure as the master of Wildeacre if it were not for his sister’s knowledge of how to administer the farmlands. He is over-educated in academics, and under-educated in practical matters. Worse yet, while at Creedhall he fell in a crowd of boys who used him, literally, as their whipping boy. Now masochism is an ingrained part of his personality. Indeed, it was the discovery of his masochistic streak that allowed his sister to seduce him into an incestuous relationship; now she uses her body and a whip to bend Harry to her will–she is the true master at Wildeacre.

But what of Harry’s bride, the child-like and fragile Cecilia? She seems relieved that her husband’s amorous attention is directed elsewhere, but is she truly as naive as she appears? Perhaps she is more involved in the horrors at Wildeacre than anyone realizes.

After Ralph murdered Beatrice’s father, she set a man-trap in his path so she might dispose of her inconvenient lover and assassin. The trap crushed his legs, and Ralph was left to die alone and in great pain. However, his specter continues to haunt Wildeacre, dragging behind it the trap and chains used to end his mortal life.

Complicating matters is Ralph’s gypsy mother, who is known to be a witch. Formerly a tenant of Wildeacre, she disappeared soon after her son’s death. Is she behind the reappearance of Ralph as a haunting shade, or will she seek aid in giving her departed son the peace of eternity?

* * *

All of the above was inspired by and bastardized from Phillipa Gregory’s novel Wideacre. Consider this the start of a Gothic estatebox, a sandbox limited to a single horrible country estate.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Haunted House Encounter Table

1. Hungry Shroud (shadow)

2. Possessing Geist (ghost)

3. Dreadful Apparition (banshee)

4. Mischievous Ghost (poltergeist)

5. Tortured Wraith (wraith)

6. Vengeful Specter (spectre)

Monday, November 16, 2015


Add caption
(You can see the whole thing here. It's great.) 

Eleanor Rigby
AC 12, Move 120', HD 5, HP 23, bite 1d8, Morale 10

  • Eleanor Rigby can assume the facial likeness of anyone she has seen.
  • Eleanor Rigby is compelled to pick up any grains of rice that are scattered before her, provided that the rice has previously been thrown upon a newly-married couple.
  • Eleanor Rigby has advantage on attacks against all the lonely people. 

Friday, November 13, 2015

Crimson Peak's Truth, Bone Temple, Monsters in Literature

Crimson Peak reveals the truth about Gothic lit. fans:

* * *

Here's a map I found some place or another that will likely get used in a game someday:

* * *

Song of the Moment: Cocteau Twins, "But I'm Not"

Things from the forest die here
But I don't
Dead forest things are offered here
But I'm not

* * *

Monsters in literature, in one handy graphic:

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Color-Coding a Character Sheet

One thing new players sometimes struggle with in rpgs is finding stuff on their character sheets, which makes sense if they're just not used to the visual conventions and layout strategies of tabletop games. I'm wondering if color-coded characters sheets, like my above example of a custom LotoFAP sheet, could help. Something like "Okay, what's your Armor Class? It's in the red area" might just save some time and help nail things down.

If you want your own technicolor Baphomet character sheet, I've made it available here as a pdf.

Monday, November 9, 2015

The Daughters of the Eel Cult

A Confession: I've been using the Daughters of the Eel as antagonists in a couple different games, but I haven't really fleshed-out what they're all about. But I have some dice and some random tables, so we can fix that.

Some things we know about the Daughters of the Eel:
  • The members of the cult are drawn exclusively from the ranks of female artists who are inspired by the terrible and sublime power of the primordial sea. Only women who evidence an affinity with the dark depths of the ocean can hear the call of the Eelmother. Since all its members are artists, it is a tenet of the cult that beauty and aesthetic pleasures are to be celebrated. Conversely, those whose art is mockery--such as clowns and buffoons--are to be stripped of their motley and tormented without mercy.
  • The Eelmother promises to bring her faithful Daughters wealth and prosperity. Those who survive shipwrecks and drownings are thought to be blessed by the Eelmother.
  • One rite practiced by the Daughters of the Eel is the profane mixing of sacrificial blood with that of monstrous creatures from the deep to create an injectable, magical substance they refer to as "the Mother's Nectar."
  • The Daughters of the Eel seek the entrance to an ancient reliquary hidden within a seaside cove; they believe that the reliquary houses a potent artifact that will allow them to raise the Eelmother from the depths.
  • Those who serve the ends of the Eel Cult are granted a transformative boon: their skin becomes as tough, rubbery, and protective as that of a great eel. Furthermore, the recipient of this gift is able to survive the crushing pressures of the undersea. 

The above details about the Daughters of the Eel were generated with Rafael Chandler's Obscene Serpent Religion supplement; I modified things here and there to be less about snakes and more about eels, but it was really useful as a starting point.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Villanoska Mystery: The Road to Villanoska

Hurstcote is as vile a den of corruption as you might dare imagine. Within an opium den in a particularly loathsome street three "heroes" gather to meet their prospective employer: Isoline, a dark-eyed gypsy left upon the doorstep of a cathedral; Marius, a thin, nervous man from an ancient house who dabbles in the criminal underworld; Galen, a gnarled little brute with a taste for whiskey and a thorough knowledge of the darkened woods.

Their employer, Madame Urania, is a hulking woman who speaks plainly. She has had a distressing letter from her sister in a village to the north. According to her sister, the citizens of Villanoska have been turning up dead with alarming frequency, and the death do not seem to stem from natural causes. Each victim was found bloated and water-logged, as if they had been drowned at sea--a strange thing for a land-locked village. Though little love is lost between Urania and her sister, Urania feels a duty to send some willing bodies to Villanoska to fetch her sister before she becomes the next victim to whatever is plaguing the village. 

As the heroes set out the next morning they are relieved to let the stink of Chancel recede behind them. But all is not well in the dark lanes that lead north from the city. Sharp-eyed Marius realizes that the trio are being shadowed by creatures who stay just out of sight within the trees. Surreptitiously, they ready their weapons for the inevitable ambush. 

The ambush comes in the form of a number of shambling figures breaking forth from the treeline, surging forward on legs seemingly set at the wrong angle, waving butcher knives and rough-hewn clubs. Galen lets his blunderbuss sing its scattershot song, Marius slips his rapier between ribs with insouciant aplomb, and Isoline calls down the burning wrath of the saints. The group take a few minor wounds, but soon the landscape is littered with the misshapen corpses of their attackers. As this is no safe ground to regroup upon, they opt not to rest here and instead press on to                                                          Villanoska.

Ah, Villanoska at last! A sleepy, ramshackle village protected by a poorly-mended wooden stockade. Urania's sister, Cybaline, is located. She's reluctant to leave the town; when pressed for what little information she has she remarks that if the characters can discover the source of the murders in the village they will receive a substantial reward. 

Others are questioned--and it is determined that the only known source of water in the village is the common well at the center of the what passes for the town square. The well is nondescript from the outside, and shows no signs of obvious malevolence. 

Unconvinced that all is as innocuous as it seems, Galen is lowered down into the well by his rope-laden compatriots. Deep within the well he notes that there are holy runes dedicating it to Saint Arethia--except that these runes have been crudely defaced. Whatever sanctity once guarded this important source of water has been utterly effaced.

The trio retreat to the way-inn to ponder what this might mean, replenish themselves with food and rest, and to wait for the morning sun to rise before taking action. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

#drawlloween round-up

All of those mini Snicker bars are gone, so I guess Halloween is over.

FUCK THAT, let's keep it going another week at least.

Anyway, one thing I did over the course of October was participate in #drawlloween. If you haven't seen it before, it's a challenge to draw one Halloween-related thing per day. I'm posting my output below; I'm still strictly amateur and have only been drawing for a couple years now, but I learned some things by doing these and mostly I'm proud of myself for not missing a day.