Saturday 30 December 2023


 My 5yo child caught sight of this in my feed (on some platform or other): 


...and of course they were immediately curious! They're just getting to that age where they're moving on from Paw Patrol and taking an interest in more varied worlds with higher stakes for the characters: Pokémon and Star Wars being the two franchises most appealing to them at the moment.

The game Animon Story was crowdfunded to great success last year and was recently nominated for  Dicebreaker's Best Roleplaying Game' category (the winner was Women are Werewolves, in case you were desperate to know who won). It is currently available at this link, but I would recommend taking a look at the free playtest available on before committing the tanks. 

Having looked at the playtest, I was impressed by the bold artwork and simple, double-spread layout (example page below). I printed out the entire playtest on photographic paper and they immediately felt to be of "retail quality", if that makes sense. My kid was suitably impressed.

Animon Story Playtest page, text available from the linked free playtest

However, I felt for the purpose of (gently) introducing my young child to RPGs it was a little too crunchy. To be clear, this is not a critique, just a statement of how my personal preferences didn't align with the game's design intent, and also the fact that "five year old kid" is probably not the game's target audience. I'm also aware that your child might enjoy this level of crunch: in which case, you consider ordering the full version of the game. 

I wanted to try something different: as it happens, Animon Story was an excellent catalyst for a few ideas that my child and I are going to explore further.

Wednesday 27 December 2023



...all actions are resolved by a 2d6 reaction roll- and specifically a reaction roll: this is god/the spirits/the fates/the forces of the universe responding to your actions based on how much they "like" you.

(or, more specifically, how much they react in your favour)

Support AnyDice's efforts to modernise through Ko-Fi

This emerged from the ongoing GENIUS LOCI project:

...being that, beyond animals and plants being treated the same way we treat NPCs... isn't time to start thinking of the terrain and weather in the same way?

This idea also occurred as a result of how we're resolving skill/ ability checks in CITY OF GHOSTS at the moment, which I'll elaborate on towards the end of this post.

Tuesday 26 December 2023

The One Hour Pariah Sandbox: City of Ghosts Session 2 Play Report

Due to time constraints and inspired by Luke Gearing's one-hour megadungeon sessions, I'm running a weekly PARIAH sandbox during my Friday lunch break. This is the second play report: track down all related posts at this link  

Between sessions, I posted on the r/osr subreddit (and also on the NSR Cauldron), seeking advice regarding this undertaking. There were some valuable responses which I'll summarise below, before getting into what happened in session 2...

Monday 25 December 2023


Clear the table.

Place the map of the moon (as big as you can print) in the centre.

Light a candle.

Play Dawn of Worlds on the lunar map until the candle burns out,

at which point the pariahs return to their bodies with memories of being gods and creating civilisations.

- Pariah Volume 1, page 49

Please print the moon map above.

Next, download Dawn of Worlds:

Never let it be said I never give you anything!

Please subscribe to my substack...

Sunday 17 December 2023

The One Hour Pariah Sandbox: City of Ghosts Session 1 Play Report

Due to time constraints and inspired by Luke Gearing's one-hour megadungeon sessions, I'm hoping to run a weekly PARIAH sandbox during my Friday lunch break. This is the first play report: track down all related posts at this link 

Draft cross-section of the valley

The PCs

  • Ugly Evening, exiled for forbidden sorcery and Rotten Antelope, exiled for thieving (both played by J). Ugly evening has a pet, "probably a dog"
  • Nimble Goat the spirit-touched victim of a blood feud and Wandering Jackal, the strong girl with double-headed axe, an aurochs and dog (both played by C)
  • An assumed "quantum cast" of as-yet unidentified pariahs, on standby for when other players drop in and out of the game

Saturday 16 December 2023

Anthropology and Archaeology: The RPG Blog Carnival

This is essentially a slush-pile post: last September, user Rook of Beneath Foreign Planets on the Weird and Wonderful Worlds discord server hosted the RPG Blog Carnival with the theme Anthropology and Archaeology. The complete list of posts is at this link is a veritable treasure trove.

Beautiful Neolithic figurines, Gozo Museum of Archaeology, Malta

My first (and I should add, incomplete) degree was in anthropology and it's a discipline I would dearly like to return to one day, possibly when (if?) I (get to?) retire. Consequently I had a few ideas but never, had a chance to expand on any of them. The following is a list of posts I’m likely never going to write out in full: I hope they might inspire someone to make something more of them. In no particular order...

Thursday 14 December 2023

New Pariah Generator: CITY OF GHOSTS campaign

Ahead of Friday's inaugural "lunchbox" it became clear that a new generator was needed! Excellent, a chance to tear my hair out over Javascript... here's a post explaining what I mean by "lunchbox" first:'s the latest character generator:

* * *

Monday 11 December 2023

Weapons & proficiency

I saw this beautiful image of an opalite spearhead on a discord server (the image is a screengrab from this video, thank you, Krisnan) and it set me to thinking about weapons: specifically, proficiency and enchantment.

Image showing an opalite spearhead being held up to the sun.

Additional big shout out to ANCIENT CRAFT for their ongoing posting of Neolithic and late palaeolithic tool making videos.

This is the nerdiest post I've made in a while and I'm proud of that. Disc-horsers prepare to be bored stiff... you may want to skip to the part marked LEGENDARY WEAPONS as that's probably more fun.

Friday 8 December 2023


A recent trip to Dragonmeet involving actual, face-to-face communication and the rolling of dice instilled a deep longing to get back to the gaming table. Sadly, sitting down with my partner to plan out the next few months it dawned on both of us that our lives are not going to be our own for a very long time. This is the price of having children in a declining former superpower, far from the embrace of a supportive extended family—an arrangement we entered voluntarily and could (in theory) escape at any time, so please don't send your sympathies. Nonetheless the reality remains fixed: no nights off for elf-games.

(Foot note: need an alternative semi-humorous shorthand for the RPGs I play: "elf-games" has the whiff of vanilla fantasy... one that springs to mind was "spirit-games" but that sounds like a Victorian parlour game) 

There's also the matter of this cover image, first shared in this post back in May last year:

City of Ghosts cover image by Jef Cox

In short, I have a lot of material ready to go but I want to explore it at the table before releasing it to the world. Fortunately, inspiration was at hand in the form of Ben Lawrence's megadungeon podcast, in which Luke Gearing was interviewed. Turns out that Luke's only gone and been running a weekly online game in his one hour lunch break. Having said that, special mention must go to Pat Eyler aka Foot of the Mountain who has previously shared details of his (face-to-face) lunchtime campaign on his Patreon, which undoubtedly sowed the seed for this latest venture...

Friday 20 October 2023

Atop the Wailing Dunes: the Artefact


Centre spread of Atop the Wailing Dunes: illustration by Edd0 text transcribed below


Form of the Artefact

  1. 3D realisation of Mandelbrot set, to be worn as a mask by its wielder
  2. Incandescent floating ovoid, size of an ostrich egg
  3. Plumed helmet as the Blighted One’s, though fits a human head
  4. Set of animated, concentric golden rings, levitating

Monday 7 August 2023


 This post was originally a note on substack.


If you have a  podcasts, mailing list or blog related to old school (or old school adjacent) TTRPGs please post on the r/osr blogroll linked below, and have a look at other links shared as comments on that post:

Saturday 5 August 2023

THE DAWN REALM: Further thoughts on psychedelia and animism

The recent Cthulhu Dark post served as a reminder of the long, long to do list that Pariah created. It also revived my interest in the structure of player-character-world interface through the prism of psychedelia.  Given the obtuse twists and turns of both a) the aforementioned post and b) the preceding sentence I have set myself the task of keeping the prose clean, clear and concise….

…but first, my friends, a scruffy, ill-thought-out felt-pen sketch of how psychedelics can transform hexes... drawn and written so it is indecipherable.

Saturday 29 July 2023

Estelle: Novelist

This is published in response to recent posts by Throne of Salt, A Most Majestic Fly Whisk and The Furtive Goblin's BurrowUnlike those posts, this is not a collection of fictional books, but is instead a silly short story about an imaginary novelist that I wrote many years ago. Gameable content is low in this one, so I'll draw a line right now for those casually browsing.

Wednesday 26 July 2023

The Beyond & Cthulhu Dark

The entities of The Beyond are infinitely varied, but draw on the traditionally nightmarish: eldritch horrors, demonic beings, tentacled monstrosities, horrifically assembled flesh golems, spectral maidens with bleeding eye sockets, faceless statues, the greys…

Cover of rules-light eldritch horror game, Cthulhu Dark


Make it weird by turning the lights out and switching to Cthulhu Dark...

- Pariah Volume 1, Page 50

Sunday 23 July 2023


Portrait of the Artist as an Eco Mofo....

David Blandy is an artist, RPG designer maker, and one half of Copy/Paste Co-Op with Daniel Locke.

David also has the dubious honour of introducing me to the world of livestream actual plays, during a 2020 run-through of his game-within-an-art-project,  The World After.

Currently crowdfunding the runaway success story ECO MOFOS!! over on Kickstarter alongside Dan,  David very kindly agreed to have take to give me nearly two hours of his time in a discord voice call while he went out to buy bread in the Brighton's labyrinths.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

300th Post: Index Update

Last time I did this (June 2022) I was fairly confident of hitting 300 before Christmas.

Took me another seven months on top of that... but here we are!


The blog index offers an alternative to searching by labels (at the bottom of the post) or trawling through the archive (on the left, underneath the shameless self promotion). 

It now lives on its own page rather than buried beneath other posts:

The button at the top of the site also links to that page:

See you next time!

Our Big Show of Worth

This is a write-up of a solo run-through of what is actually a game for two players! Our Big Show of Worth is a micro game by Vian Nguyen available for purchase from the following link:

Image for game: yellow border with turquoise trim frames a white background with black text. Black text reads: "Our Big Show of Worth", and is accompanied by the four suit-symbols from a standard deck of cards. The suit symbols are all black, even the hearts.

An unknown deity challenges the existence of the world you call home.
It’s up to you, the most  acclaimed theater group of your town to represent the worth of your existence through your dramatic performance.

This is a proof of concept prompted by PARIAH: VOLUME, wherein it is suggested that this game be introduced following a pariah imbibing a heroic dose of Desert Rue. 

Sunday 9 July 2023


UPDATED 10th July for greater clarity, thanks to feedback from Dan of Thrown of Salt
You might be familiar with the Lego analogy used for the design of roleplaying games.

There's memes and everything.

Image of ive lego figures from the earliest incarnation of the castkle range. They carry swords, shields, spears and  polearms, and carry a cart behind them. The history of this lego is set is very disturbing, but I'm not going into it here, this is an easter egg for you to investigate yourself
Designers do some subtly disturbing shit with LEGO

..but I came across it thanks to Monkeys Paw Games:

if you buy a lego set that has a castle on the front of the box and use the lego inside to build a spaceship are you playing lego "wrong?" are you told "no, idiot, you should have bought the spaceship lego, instead!"

interesting interesting

Saturday 8 July 2023


 Earlier in the week I posted a play report of a PARIAH mini-game-within-a-game I finally got to the table, Mutagenic Hive Swarm. Players take on the role of pariahs undergoing an intense and terrifying psychedelic experience: re-manifesting inside a bio-mechanical reptilian hive swarm ship in another dimension... as bugs.

I've put a first draft of the "zini" edition up on They'll be a few more updates, with the ultimate goal of this transforming into a zine-length mini-setting/adventure/sandbox.

Slightly blurry white, capitalised text against a macro lens photograph of an iridescent sea-shell. the text (which is all capitalised) reads "muta (hyphen, new line) genic (new line) hive (new line) swarm"

Thursday 6 July 2023


 …totus mundus agit histrionem

- Petronius

Sometimes it takes a while for me to catch on, and so it was with Hamlet: a One Letter RPG by W.H. Arthur. Regular readers may recall my interview with Arthur back in 2021, but if not please follow the link or have a glance over his page: he has built up an excellent catalogue of games and material during the two years that have passed since he kindly agreed to be interviewed.

This post very specifically examines one game in particular: Hamlet: A one-letter RPG, inspired by the Business Card RPG Jam and We Are But Worms. You can download the game here:

Photograph of wood-veneered tabletop, upon which are two teal-green and gold business cards, arranged so that each displays the opposite side of the other. The card on the has a decorative, leafy gold edge to the left and right sides (but not the top and bottom); in its centre sits a large lettter B encircled by a gold ring. The card on the right has an identical margin, but the text in the centre reads as follows  HAMLET (first line); A one-letter RPG (second line); W.H. Arthur (3rd line); Twitter: @Aryl-ether (fourth line): (last line)
Screenshot: a business card RPG, Hamlet

Tuesday 4 July 2023


This is a play report of a PARIAH sub-game that takes place in the Hive Swarm aspect of The Beyond

However, in truth it is my homage to the now-nerfed forces of Hive Fleet Kraken and my brief, intense love affair with them back in 1998. I miss you x

Prayer to GW: please don't sue me for using this image, nor what you are about to read...

From Sketches for My Sweetheart, The Beyond:

Wisewomen speak of the chaotic immediacy of Dawn in contrast with the rarefied reptilian intelligence of Dusk: within the Beyond, these two realms have conflated. 

The plague swarm is a complex, technologically advanced culture of monstrous insectoid reptiles driven by the insatiable hunger of Dawn to replenish and reproduce. Biomechanical monsters driven by the desire to assimilate all life and reform it in their own image

The civilisation spans millions of worlds and represents the amalgamation of trillions upon trillions of species, dreaming of a reality in which no single element exists outside of their domain, working in unison towards their goal of multiversal omni immortality

Friday 23 June 2023


TL/DR: bookmark this blog, use my sidebar to keep up-to-date on other interesting blogs

I received a message from Reddit yesterday, congratulating me on my "7th cake day".

A birthday cake thrown to the ground, a hilarious reference to SNL's Lonely Island
Happy Birthday to the Ground

Sunday 11 June 2023

THE BEYOND: POLARIS REVISITED, via Carcosa and... The Imperium of Man?

In this post I return to THE BEYOND in PARIAH, principally the realm of POLARIS. This idea's been stewing for several years now but two recent blog posts by others prompted me to revisit it. 

CONTENT WARNING: The Absolute Worst Stuff Imaginable is alluded to. 

Tuesday 30 May 2023

White Chalk

It's coming up for three years since I returned to these Blighted Isles from Vietnam, and those memories not tied to the faces of those I love start to fade. I speak specifically of dense forest clinging to steep hills, coracles bobbing up and down on the East Sea, heavy hot rain exploding from black skies... all these things, once so visceral, have transformed into something Other. They turn into words and pictures and reproductions... facsimiles—or memories of memories, like an anecdote related by someone else.

Instead I am here, again, well-and-truly embedded in the land of my birth: hollow man without a landscape of his own, brittle bones without marrow, bemoaning this self-imposed fate. Happy, of course, in the warm embrace of the family I love, but when alone I feel afraid. I'm afraid of death and loneliness in a manner that is quite alien, and so seek to confront it in new landscapes. 

I swim in cold seas and swallow saline tides, letting my white body wash across sharp shingle shores... and shiver.    

Up hills I run, until I can look out across cities... or else, uppercut Orion.

Through forests of dead trees—dutched elms and died-back ash—I pant, scrabbling on all fours pursued by ghosts of a forgotten age, terrified but exhilarated 

...and I think of a girl, because I'm unoriginal like that.

Above image: forensic reconstruction of the 5600 year-old remains of a Neolithic woman