Friday, April 6, 2018

Intelligent Design

Humanity was created for a purpose. We are vessels, with just enough soul to be possessed. We are servitors, with enough intelligence to do work but not enough to understand. We are clay, substantial enough to be molded but not so substantial that we pose a problem for the potter. We are neotenic, children who can become something greater. We were made to be transformed. We were always meant to something more.

There are older beings, mature beings who were once like us, but whose forms have stiffened. They envy our youth and our adaptability. They peer at us from great distances, from around angles in spacetime, and from the distant future. We must beat them to the punch and decide for ourselves what we are to become.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Pheonix Fire

The flame of a pheonix burns things back together. It burns things into health. It burns wood into trees, sickness into health, and metal into magic. If you light a funeral pyre with a pheonix's flame, it will even burn death into life.

This story is from the ancient days. Before all things had been created, before all things had taken their places, before the people built cities and organized their affairs. Across the land there was only death and those that feed on death. The people huddled under unrotting logs, fought with jackals for scraps of unrotting carcasses, and those that spent the night away from the warmth and light of a bonfire were never seen again.

One youth declared that the world could be better, and so he would make it better. The people had heard talk like this before, and knew that it always ended grand promises and a brave soul wandering away from the fire, never to be seen again. So they discouraged him, telling him about all the others who had failed, and when they saw he was determined to go, they wished him well, although in their hearts they knew they would never see him again.

 The youth wandered the lands for an uncounted period of time, stealing meat from jackals and sleeping in what shelter he could find. He found only mud, carcasses, and maggots. Nothing that could make a change or give him hope.

Eventually he resolved to climb to the peak of a mountain and see what he could see. Clambering upwards, he began to hear the sound of laughter. When he reached the top, he saw a great bird made of blue flame, laughing at the state of the world from above. The youth picked up a branch and held it aloft, lighting it from the bird's belly as it passed. He then began to descend from the mountain, to bring back to the people this new thing he had found.

As he descended, he noticed that the branch was becoming heavier. When he looked at it, he was astonished. Out of the bottom of the branch were growing pale white roots, seeking the earth. Out of the top of the branch were growing bright green branches, seeking the sun. The branch burned, but as it burned it grew.

The branch grew so heavy that he could not carry it. He planted it in the mud, where it grew faster and faster. The fire spread from the growing tree to the branches, logs, and stumps that littered the earth. As it burned them, they sprouted green branches of their own. The fire spread from wood to flesh, burning the carcasses that had lain in the mud for longer than memory, and as they burned they began to stand and run. The fire grew into a wildfire that covered all land, and it burned all day and night.

Next morning, the sun rose over a grand forest, through which wandered now-living wildlife. It was the most beautiful thing the youth had ever seen, but as he stared he realized he could no longer spot see any of the landmarks he knew. He was never able to find his way back to his people.

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Ooze Cyborgs

Ooze slime is a translucent yellow-green substance with the consistency of honey. It is a complex material, capable of regulating virtually any organic chemical reaction, as well as acting like a muscle. When young, oozes are simple scavengers, slowly squirming their way through tunnels and caves, eating whatever they find.

As they grow, they get smarter. Sooner or later, a young ooze's dreamlike sentience will direct their body to preserve, rather than dissolve, useful organs.

Most common are bones. Incorporating the skeletons of animals it has eaten allows an ooze to sustain a discrete shape, with useful features like limbs. Ooze skeletons are always unique, created by mixing and matching bones from many creatures. If an ooze is lucky enough to find a set of plate armor, it will wear it like an exoskeleton.

Oozes are also fond of glands. The powerful stomach of an owlbear might be re-purposed as an acid spray, the venomous sting of a wyvern might be implanted at the end of an "arm", and the flame glands of dragon hatchlings have obvious uses.

Oozes are translucent enough that incorporated organs can be seen from the outside. Those familiar with oozes, and with the interiors of local monsters can guess at the capabilities of a mature ooze.

Friday, March 9, 2018

12 Rewards for Quests that are not Gold

1. The local priest will say prayers in your name.

2. A puppy, ready to be trained.

3. Your name will be entered into the annals of the city as a hero.

4. Past crimes will be forgiven.

5. A local hedge wizard will cast a spell of good luck on you.

6. Access to the Lord's library.

7. A mule, old but healthy.

8. A portrait by a visiting artist.

9. A reserved seat at the local pub.

10. A letter of introduction to the local Lord.

11. A charm that will ward off illness.

12. The whole community made donations, and the reward is a dozen eggs, 2 chickens, half of a bushel of barley, a basket of apples, a newly forged knife, a keg of ale, and a fine new hat.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Oxpeckers

Oxpeckers feed on blood, suckling at wounds and staining their yellow beaks red. They pull out soft, half-dead flesh for their chicks to swallow, then tear at healthy muscle for themselves. They can smell blood on the wind from miles away, and will converge on even the smallest cut. Where they range, no open injury is allowed to heal but is pecked and torn and pulled apart until the animal dies from infection, weeks later.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Blackflies

From spring until the first frost, the wetlands of Canada swarm with blackflies. Some feed on nectar, others feed on blood. Most lay their eggs in water, some lay their eggs in flesh. Most of those that lay their eggs in flesh prefer dead flesh, but there is one species that prefers the flesh of the living.

The flies are small, so small that their ovipositors cannot pierce skin. They therefore lay there eggs in whatever soft tissue they can access: open wounds, open mouths, your sinuses, your lungs, your stomach. Throughout summer moose and deer wander the wilderness, snorting blood and larvae.

Monday, February 12, 2018

The Fields of the Sky

Go south. As you pass the equator, you enter the fields of the sky.

Birds rule here. Terrorbirds hunt down flocks of Ostriches and Gamebirds through the grass. The only non-avians are the snakes, which swarm the rivers, and feral cats, introduced by travelers.

The people here carve citadel-manors out of the great pillars of red stone, and surround them with tall white dovecotes. The women keep themselves meticulously hairless, the men take pride in never shaving and being as hairy as apes. The people do not craft metal, but trade honey and eggs to passing merchants in exchange for metal tools and weapons. Their weapons are therefore of a great variety, each of a different type and from a different culture.

I have not seen this land, but this is what I have heard.