Friday, 30 April 2021

April: What a Shower of— (plus Brù-Gar Campaign report!)

 Work sucks - I know.

Roman mosaic image depicting to figures surrounded by geometric/floral motifs and the wordand the word "Apries".
April panel from a Roman mosaic of the months (from El Djem, Tunisia, first half of 3rd century AD)

Life continues to be a struggle, yet still I manage to deliver! The first is this twenty minute rambly podcast by yours truly where I talk about all the things I would be doing if I had time:

The second is an ACTUAL PLAY REPORT by Louis/Gen2K whose name I mention 4 billion times in the podcast above. It's a first for me as I was not participating in this game in any way: I think you'll agree the outcome was no worse for my absence (indeed, possibly improved?): read on!

Tuesday, 13 April 2021

I Promise I have Nothing Against March (or Mars)

 Honestly, I don't know what it is. I just don't seem to be able to write anything in March. Nothing against the month, nor indeed this poor unfortunate:

Image of Invincible's Martian Man, his mouth agape.
A man from Mars, aka. "Martian man". Absolutely nothing to do with Martian Manhunter.

At the turn of the century, when blogging was still sort-of fashionable, there would be a million blog posts that would begin "wow, sorry for not posting in so long!". Not going to do one of those, nor make any promises to commit to posting frequently again. I'm also sorry to report that the long-running PARIAH campaign concerning the trials and tribulations of the Unlucky Ones is on temporary hiatus. However, there is still at least one active PARIAH campaign ongoing at present, run by Louis of So Much Game. I've shared an update from his game (in which I play) which I will share below:

It is backdated to 1st April for personal reasons.

Thursday, 1 April 2021

Brù-Gar Sandbox Session

This session took place on 3rd March 2003.


Slayer of the Father (Nye)

Chasing Ape (TinheadNed)

Timidly Hindered Dwelling (Sofinho)

Louis Gen2K of is the gamemaster.

Lions at Chauvet cave.


Early to middle spring

Tuesday, 2 March 2021


This is the summary of the 31st week of the PARIAH campaign, covering 14th-20th February.

The previous session report is available at this link:

You can catch up on all the session reports via this link here (all posts tagged "unluckyones"):

I've decided to lump these updates together as there were only 3 sessions played in that period. Incidentally, this brings the total number of PARIAH sessions (in this campaign) to 35, not including 3 sessions of "hudless" Pariah in a modified Lair of the Lamb and  2 sessions GMed by Louis in his Brù-Gar campaign setting (there will be further posts about this shortly). 

Given that the first (post-Kickstarter) session was played on 6th June, that's 40 sessions over nearly 38 weeks!

As the sandbox continues to evolve and develop I'm hoping some of the players will be happy to step-up and take on GM duties so we can start to flesh out this burgeoning world even more.

Visible/experienced world, end of most recent session.

Monday, 1 March 2021

D66 Enchanted Items

Have I done one of these before? Feels like I should have... maybe I'm thinking of that I search the body post I did recently. In any case, here are some magic items for your proto-Neolithic campaign:

Neolithic grave goods, possibly magical.

Sunday, 21 February 2021

CITY OF A HUNDRED GODS: Part 1/10 City Limits

Jewel at the Foot of the Mountain. The Bridge Over the Great River. City of Many Stairs. Gateway to the Sun and Heavens. The Endless village. The city has nearly as many names as the number of deities to whom its inhabitants pray... and it is this peculiar feature that grants its most familiar name: the City of a Hundred Gods.

Was going to use this as the cover for PARIAH volume 2 then remembered...
...we ripped it off Assassin's Creed...

To outsiders these "gods" are hungry, capricious demons that thrive on that unique misery endemic to urbanised societies... but to those born within sight of the city's incredible walls, they are entities worthy of their devotion. The myriad cults venerating these one hundred deities each work in synergy to make the metropolis greater than the sum of its parts.

So come then, let us explore each district via the "gods" venerated there, starting with the outskirts of the city and of course its walls.

Friday, 19 February 2021


This is the summary of the 30th week of the PARIAH campaign, covering 8th-13th February.

The previous session report is available at this link:

You can catch up on all the session reports via this link here (all posts tagged "unluckyones"):

Multiple sessions were put forward with the nature of the session determined by the players present, similar to a "west marches" style campaign. Dates provided are in-game, to help players to coordinate the events of the past few sessions.

Thursday, 18 February 2021

The World in a 1d100 "I search the body" table

Once again, a fun challenge has emerged from the OSR discord, this time issued by Sahh: create a 1d00 I search the body and grant flesh to the bones of your world. The first response to this challenge was made not by Sahh but Locheil of Nothic's Eye and it is this post that I shall first link below:

...but Sahh was quick to remedy the situation and put up her own:

Illustration by Greg Harlin from this cool article:

A lot of these are taking from the 48 or so starting items. Half sorry about that.

Wednesday, 17 February 2021


These events continue from the TWENTY-SEVENTH session. The real world dates were Sunday 31st January and Saturday 6th February 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  


- Mister Kent as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín playing as Earnestly Wooded
- Semiurge playing as Witheringly Footed at the Point

30th Day of Crow Moon, Last Slither of the Old Moon

Map annotated by!

The pariahs spent the day resting until sundown, then split the party in two:
  • Antelope, Fallen-far-from-the-Wind and Rides the Grove built a large pyre on the edge of the forest, in sight of the temple's main entrance;
  • Beautiful Other Far-from-the-Lake, Earnestly Wooded, and Witheringly Footed at the Point waited in cover of darkness by the temple's west entrance, in preparation for their daring raid. 

Friday, 12 February 2021

2 Curse Templates: Doom of the Sleep-flower Smoker | Lycanthropy


In PARIAH, powerful curses are represented by curse templates. Inspired by Emmy Allen’s lateral advancement trackers (particularly wendigo sickness and the wounded daughter) templates provide the opportunity to inflict a doom on a pariah over an extended period rather than removing them from the game immediately—providing the opportunity to remove the curse, or at least having some fun in the attempt.

This is the basis for ghouls in PARIAH:

Each template has triggers which initiate a roll on the affliction table. Each entry reveals one (or more) afflictions: beneficial, baleful or both. Each curse has a point at which the player must surrender their character to the GM, though it is down to the table to establish when that point might be (suggestions are provided). A pariah may suffer multiple curses concurrently.

Curses are thus diseases, a monsters, and a weird mode of lateral character progression (but not necessarily in that order)...

Doom of the Sleep-flower Smoker

Sleepflower by Abigail Lingford

Sleepflower is a powerful entheogen: used without caution it can be lethal... but even cautious shaman may begin walking a path darker than that which leads to the realm of the dead...

Sunday, 31 January 2021

Vayra's Questions

Being an individual of advancing years it's often some time before I catch up to the latest trends currently entertaining the kids, and when I do it's embarrassingly late. So here I am, some TEN WHOLE DAYS after the original post, attempting to answer the ten setting questions posed by Vayra in her recent post:

The setting being interrogated is the implied setting of PARIAH.

Saturday, 30 January 2021


These events continue from the TWENTY-FIFTH session but also picks up the characters not seen since the NINETEENTH SESSION. The real world session took place on Saturday 9th and 16th January 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  


- Eugene  as Nervously Rides the Grave 
- JFur playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind
- Mister Kent as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín playing as Earnestly Wooded
- Semiurge playing as Witheringly Footed at the Point

The Temple of Water

28th Day of Crow Moon

Beautiful Other was joined by Antelope, the old ally of the founding pariah band in hope of tracking down the mystery surrounding the irrigation temple and the apparent disappearance of Wither, Rides-the-Grave and Earnestly Wooded. The latter resolved itself fairly soon after leaving the settlement...

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Interview with W.H. Arthur, RPG Designer/Maker

Arthur's RPG design work is available at

During last year’s COVID lockdown/Zine Quest crossover special it came to my attention that fellow RPG designer/maker W.H. Arthur lived in the same town as me. We arranged to meet, face-to-face out in the real world in real time: summer was in full swing and government guidelines had relaxed substantially since the beginnings of the pandemic.

If someone had told us that our next meeting was going to be nearly 6 months later and under full lockdown conditions it is doubtful either of us would have believed it. Nonetheless,  last weekend we found ourselves on either end of a discord call, catching up on the intervening period… a period which has been particularly busy for Arthur.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Exploring Space: Procedure in Different RPG Environments (Part 2)

Part 1 of this 2-part post special can be read here:

In a previous post I look at play procedures in different environments, in the hope that this might somehow "unlock" the secret to running a city encounter. For many readers I'm trying to solve a problem that isn't there, and I'm not going to argue with you: I think this is probably about my own obsession with cities and what they mean. Hopefully something good can come out of it.

Lilith, Anselm Kiefer

Before digging into the urban environment I want to examine the final play procedure: delving. In producing this text it occurred to me that my issues with cities in RPGs is that they can offer the same high risk/high reward scenario that dungeons and other discrete locations can offer, but the procedure for exploring such sites is entirely unsuited for the majority of play within a city.

Anyway, here's my breakdown of dungeoneering. Again: this is not didactic, merely how I interpret old-school style play at my table, ymmv:

Friday, 22 January 2021

Reaction Rolls and Reputation

As usual thinking about ability scores was keeping me awake at night, and—after yet again unsuccessfully trying to square the circle OF STUPID ABILITY SCORE MODIFIERS—I started thinking about reaction rolls. One may well assign the notion of ability score modifiers to the status of "only for the combat mini-game", but then you miss out on the UNADULTERATED POWER of having an 18 charisma character getting involved in this murky business:

None but a nincompoop would deny the beauty of the 2d6 table: indeed, many have tried to use it as the basis for whole systems. I am certainly a fan of the above interpretation (taken from the red box), as there's it runs the whole gamut of monster emotions! In all seriousness, I enjoy that it suggests multiple stages of negotiation, with charisma perhaps playing second fiddle to other circumstantial modifiers.

Thursday, 21 January 2021

Exploring Space: Procedure in Different RPG Environments (Part 1)

Constant's New Babylon Nord. It is upside down, courtesy the internet.

Work for PARIAH VOLUME 2: CITY OF GHOSTS continues apace. There is no way I am going to be able to have this ready for Zine Quest 3  unfortunately, but I have at least settled on a format. The nature of the space is closer to a dungeon crawl than a city crawl, so there will be a somewhat granular approach to the space... by which I suppose I mean a keyed map with defined locations and routes around.

However, I'm still thinking about a bigger, more urban setting for another project, but feel the need to really define the procedure for exploring an urban environment, as it's the least defined in old school play. To get there I'm first going to have a look at some traditional play procedures with additional commentary regarding how this manifests in PARIAH.

Monday, 18 January 2021

HEARTH SPIRITS: Neolithic House Ghosts

Discussing the etymology of hobgoblin on the discord server was a reminder that the idea of a "kitchen ghost" or "hearth spirit" is common to many cultures across the globe. Hob is used by a lot of British people to describe their stovetop, an evolution of the hot plate that once kept pots simmering on traditional stoves. Goblin, of course, was a type of fey creature rather than a rat-faced runt with green (or orange) skin and a selection of  pointy sticks. The hobgoblin was thus a kitchen-based domestic spirit and not the larger kinds [of orc], as suggested by Gandalf.

They used to be fun, now they're just another "proud warrior race" trope.

In protestant Europe (and in many of the lands the countries of that cultural sphere once occupied) belief in this spirit and the practice of honouring it has largely died out over the last few centuries along with many of that culture's folk traditions. The guilty party in this case being the religiosity of the reformation and the "rationalism" of the later enlightenment period. 

Sunday, 17 January 2021

The Knife: the very last skills post (until the next one)

I had the unusual pleasure of playing in a pariah game that someone else (specifically Louis from So Much Game) was running. One of the other players (specifically Nye of the internet and Garblag Games) expressed frustration at the lack of opportunities for his character to be useful: he seemed to have a lot of social, charisma-based abilities that weren't of use in the wilderness scenario Louis was presenting.

I did a pretty terrible job of explaining tactical infinity in old school games, and how this can work alongside a skill system, but I stand by my words: I know a lot of old school RPG enthusiasts would say that this is because character skill always detracts from the application of player skill. I want to address that supposition—it in a non-confrontational way—with the notion of skills as tools.

Neolithic flint knife blade.

First among tools is the adventurer's friend, the knife.

Saturday, 9 January 2021

More Neolithic Settlements—City of Ghosts/PARIAH

 A confluence of currents, including but not limited to...

...has lead me back to this idea that cities and settlements could do more (or at least could feel more interesting) in the implied PARIAH setting.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: this 9,000 year old Neolithic dwelling is better than my house.

So: using (and augmenting) the tables in this post:
....I've assembled a generator for four different types of settlement: RURAL (the kind that should number in the dozens-per-agricultural-hex), MAJOR SETTLEMENT (the home of a chieftain or regional leader) SACRED SITE (what it says on the tin) and the CITY.

Thursday, 7 January 2021


These events continue from the TWENTY-FOURTH session. The real world session took place on Saturday 2nd January 2021 on the Atelier Hwei Discord.  


- Mister Kent as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- JFur playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind

Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe and Mortally Garnished-of-the-Fallen were NPCed.

There are 2 things to note ahead of this session report. The first is that these reports take a very long time to write. Secondly, judging by the views and comments, they are the least interesting to site visitors. I've said it before but I'm going to try and take a less narrative approach in an attempt to address these issues. 

The Metamorphosis of Narcissus by Salvador Dali. Love can do strange things to people.

Monday, 4 January 2021

The Others— Pariah, City of Ghosts

PARIAH, in the early stages of its development was known as City of Ghosts, as it was imagined that the principal focus of play would be around haunted cities in a fertile river valley abandoned by a precursor civilisation known as The Others. Originally beginning as an exaggeration of the our elves are different trope cross-fertilised with the sidhe of The Gardens of Ynn and with a little bit of spire's aelfir thrown in... but they took a turn.

Besides, everyone's redoing elves now:

All images by Kylli Sparre/Sparrek

The Others are young spirits, though they have existed longer than humanity. The possess powers that can only be ascribed to the Dawn or even the Beyond, yet they dwell in the Here and Now. Once they built great cities but, having solved the problem of subsistence and needing nothing, found there was nothing left that they wanted.

All that they have left is the Work.

Saturday, 2 January 2021


These events continue from the TWENTY-THIRD session. The real world session took place on Saturday 19th December on the Atelier Hwei Discord. Today is the 2nd January 2021. You can listen to an audio summary of this session here:

(note: this podcast omits some information)

- Mister Kent as Beautiful Other-far-from-the-Lake
- Oisín playing as Over-Hollow-Hills-Flies-the-Cuckoo
- JFur playing as Fallen-far-from-the-Wind

Mercifully-Wasted-from-the-Tribe was NPCed.

Some bonobos.

DAY 25, CROW MOON FINAL QUARTER (still the same day!)