Sunday, 22 May 2022

PARIAH VOLUME 2: City of Ghosts

I had planned to write a long-winded post explaining the major changes to my RPG design philosophy and other nonsense that would not be fun for me to write and possibly much less fun for you to read.

Given that a picture paints a thousand words, please take this image instead:

City of Ghosts cover image, WIP by Jef Cox

We'll be launching a kickstarter for this at some point next month.

Sunday, 2 January 2022

Interview by Weird & Wonderful Worlds

I was simultaneously honoured and humbled by Maxcan7 (of Weird and Wonderful Worlds) offering to interview me last month. That interview is available NOW via the following link:

Be warned: it was conducted via instant message, so my tendency to ramble was indulged. 

Hope you enjoy it.

Check out the whole series, there's some great interviews including ScrewHead McDuff, Spwack, Semiurge and some other people whose names don't begin with "S" — including Patrick Stuart.

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Demi-Humans & Alignment: Dwarfs

Continuing my extrapolation and twisting of original material to create a new chassis to run old school modules I'm jotting down some notes about so-called "demi"-humans. 

This was originally meant to be part of the "alignment" post. Likewise my post about elves (forthcoming) was supposed to go on the end of this one, but I started to ramble...

Previous posts in this series:

Image courtesy The Internet


What is a Demi-Human? 

Dungeons & Dragons has always taken a Tolkien-esque approach to "demi-humans" and "humanoids":  dwarves [sic] and elves are treated as "races" rather than the magical spirits that appear in our myths and folklore. This treatment is extended to orcs, goblins, gnomes etc. The clue is in the terminology used: they are human-like or human derived, or variations (or corruptions) of humans.

Folding that back on itself, what if they became "in world" what they are outside the fiction: projections of human ideals? These are spirits rendered flesh: they exist because of our stories and folklore, and our belief in tales of ancient kingdoms in forgotten mountains or slender gender-fluid aliens materialising in dark forests.

They do not have economies and cultures and taxonomies, they are archetypes.

Demi-Humans and Alignment

When I first started to think about alignment again, may brain did this:

  • Law vs Chaos
  • Clerics vs Magic-Users  
  • Dwarfs vs Elves

As with other binary pairs, there are (multiple and interesting) exceptions, but I like this set up as a foundation.

Friday, 31 December 2021


Part of an ongoing series last update with MANGROVE: 

...we now come to TEMPERATE  BROADLEAF FOREST. I feel like I'm making genuine strides towards a comprehensive proto-neolithic psychedellic animist hexcrawl, more than two years after making this initial post.

* * *

Monday, 29 November 2021

Alignment Post (Non-Alignment Pact)

I'm making a chassis to run old school modules, but hoping to spin it out in interesting directions... this week  month I'm looking at alignment and also jotting down some notes about so-called "demi"-humans  giving up the extended footnotes about dwarfs and elves because there is no time in my life to do anything any more... which is an exaggeration and I apologise.

Previous posts in this series:

That was in the past. Now: let us tackle alignment, aware that this is a path well-trod, but one we will attempt to follow with fresh legs and open eyes.

But first...

While I was writing this I became aware of recent posts on alignment at FORTRESS OF DUST and VDONUT VALLEY which more or less align (ha!) with some of what I'm hoping to achieve.

Tuesday, 16 November 2021


I originally included this generator with a continuation post concerning GENIUS LOCI REACTIONS AS ENCOUNTERS but I like it too much to leave languishing as a footnote. I like the revisions to the generator enough to give them their own post. 

Besides which, I should continue on from the series which last covered TROPICAL FORESTS:

...we now come to THE MANGROVE...

* * *

Saturday, 13 November 2021

Spirit of the Wilderness: Second Look at Genius Driven Loci Encounters... and a new hex (mangrove)

Previously I've posted two posts about random encounter generation, both of which within the framework of PARIAH (but easily adaptable to your old school game of choice blah blah...). The first attempt was inspired by Goblin Punch's encounter stew, but modified to accommodate the skills system I'd built into PARIAH (this version was included in the zine). I wasn't entirely happy with it, especially when playing it online and started to think about how I could move things around and create something more coherent but also thematic. 

I googled "Nature spirit - scary" and got this

What then emerged was something based around the Genius Loci reacting to the PCs as they enter and interact with the place in question, usually (but by no means always) imagined to be the local 6 mile hex. A poor reaction leads to more lethal encounters, ba weather, and shitty foraging; the inverse is true of a a good reaction roll. You can read it all here:

That post has become one of the most popular on this site, no doubt due to it being featured in an edition of The Glatisant. Nonetheless what was presented was somewhat incomplete. 

This represents an attempt to grant that post a little more polish.

Friday, 12 November 2021

Solar Blades and Cosmic Spells: Title Generator

In my previous post about Ulysses 31 I mention the utility of Diogo Nogueira's TITLE GENERATOR in the wonderful Solar Blades and Cosmic Spells and soon realised it would be better for me to "show" rather than "tell".. and tbh I can't think of a better advertisement for the game than that!

Wednesday, 10 November 2021


I used to think the DIY old-school scene needed to take more inspiration from James Joyce* than Ulysses 31. I have since revised that opinion.

Characters L-R: Yumi; the eponymous hero, Ulysses; Telemachus and finally the robot Nono

Ulysses 31 was a Japanese-French anime released in the early 80s, charting the voyage of the titular hero through space after being cursed by the Gods of Olympus. You don't need to have studied classics at a posh English school to recognise that this children's cartoon was a sci-fi retelling of Homer's Odyssey. The (literally) epic storytelling, stylish animation and (figuratively) epic soundtrack (U-le, U-le, UlySSEEEEES!/Flying through the ga-la-k-SEEEE!)would insure that the cartoon would have a lasting impact on young Gen Xers and older millennials around the world.

My question is this: would it make for a good campaign?

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Generic Adventure Game: HIT PROTECTION & HIT DICE

Let's cut to the chase- this is another "0 HP" post, but I've been thinking about it while putting together this GENERIC ADVENTURE GAME  by working backwards from monster stat blocks.

You don't have to read any more if you don't want to. No one will think any less of you.

But if you do, let me know what you think.

Saturday, 30 October 2021


Follow-up post to a concept an Esoteric Enterprises campaign where a party of down-at-heel artists and performers, all tied to the same unscrupulous agent, carry out magical crimes in the esoteric underworld of H-Town

What follows is a simple character generator... grab one of each of the standard dice-set (D4, D6, D8, D10, D12) and roll....

Thursday, 28 October 2021

Duodenums & Drains


Finally: the farewell roman-playing gander you've been waiting for...

Duodenums& Drains!

This is an experimental publication combining Jean Lescure's S + 7 constraint with the original version of the world's most famous RPG