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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Anchorite Suit

Out on the moon on Titan, they have knights, like the old days. Titan don't have any large proper settlements, right? Just small towns all over. And every bandit king in the belt sees them as good targets, pick em off one by one, and there's no big united army that'll come after you. But on Titan they got theses knights.

Big suits of armor. Old mining exos, fitted with military kit. Big fuck off armor plates riveted on. They paint em, old style. Religious. Images of the pilot and his deeds. Iconography.

Its a holy thing. Like a sacrifice, not that they're savages, they're mostly Orthodox out there, but its like a sacrifice. When a man's got nothing left, when a man starts feeling useless, when he just wants to feel strong again, town elders make an offer. Take his limbs, wire the stumps to connect to the armor, and hook up the blood too cause he can't eat or breathe no more cause he can never get out.

Aint nobody fight like a man in powered armor, aint nobody fight like a man's not afraid of death, and aint nobody at all fight like a man's got both.

Monday, July 31, 2017

Hunted

The sky was greens and yellows, the treeline was black, and the snow reflected the sky. The air was sharp and vision crisp despite the dim. The footprints dodged left and right towards a gully. When they caught up there would be meat and fat and only bones would be left for the wolves.

He clenched his spear in his hand. The prey was gaining ground. His youngest pointed her spear at a lone pine on a rise. Perhaps from there she could catch a glimpse of him.

She called out. She could see the trail. It ended suddenly in an open field.

There was a sound like a rushing wind, and the aurora flared. A flurry of needles fell from the tree.

She never came down from that tree.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Household Monsters

Large farms will often build small stone dens, hoping to attract a hydra-tortoise. A distant relative of hydras, hydra-tortoises have shells approximately the size of a human hand, from which emerge three snake-like heads. They are voracious predators, and will take a noticeable chunk out of the population of mice and small birds.

The small cousins of owl-bears and the terror of small towns, bandit birds are half screech owl and half racoon  They skilled climbers and gliders, and have an almost supernatural ability to find there way into your pantry. Their countryside counterpart is the powl, half barn owl, half possum.

Low-griffons are a common sight in some cities. Half pigeon, half rat, and invariably hated by residents, low-griffons harass cats and will steal food right out of your hands.

The ghosts of goats are a countryside pest. They eat the souls of grass, creating patches of dirt, but just as annoying is their habit of screaming at the moon.

 God-toads can create small rain showers. They never stop and must be relocated to avoid flooding.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Cockroach the Barbarian

The old world had killed itself with mighty weapons, or great and terrible plagues had been unleashed, or a meteor had struck the Earth, or something something aliens. The important points are, almost everyone is dead, everyone who lives is a mutant, and I had been granted eternal life and was enjoying every second of it.

Except this one.

The woman was as beautiful as they said. Limbs in all the right places (not something you can take for granted), eyes that shone (figuratively, not radioactively or hunts-in-the-dark-ly), and skin that was merely splotchy (instead of pock-marked, a bit green, or coming off).

And it turned out she was a laser-witch.

“Why?” I attempted to growl past the gag.

“Because it’s the right thing to do..”

“So?” I managed.

“So you could change the world for the better. Why wouldn’t you want that?” I should have known. I threw her across the room, dove out the window, and began running.

I could judge how close she was by the brightness of the blue light following me.

At some point her skin had turned translucent and what was beneath had a sickly glow. Perhaps her eyes had been shining radioactively after all.

“EARTH HANGS IN THE BALANCE!” she yelled, right in my face.

Her second mistake. I headbutted her.

Then the street collapsed, and I was face-to-eyestalk with a man-shrimp.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Scholomance Class Catalog

The Scholomance was founded by the devil, and has been Europe's premier school of magic for millennia. The school teaches through attrition. The only way to fail is to die, and the only way to graduate is to be the sole survivor (although you can withdraw by fleeing). Even in class death is possible, although the professors have a low tolerance for interruptions.

Classes are practical. Each class focuses on a secret technique. Most professors will sprinkle in theory, philosophy, or history as the mood strikes them. You may take as few or as many classes as you think you can handle.

Its campus is a hidden valley in the southern Carpathian Mountains, containing a town, several villages, small farms, a lake, and thick forest. The valley is littered with dangers, from monsters to artifacts to mysterious phenomena, not to mention the students.

Cannibalism

An old but youthful woman who lives in a hollow log deep in the forest teaches students to take the strengths of those they eat. Her students are feared for their habit of literally poaching talent.

Breeding

Taught by a sphinx, an ancient hybrid created by the originator of the method. Students are taught to breed in strength, speed, and cunning, to combine species, and finally to mix and match traits as they please. Students of the sphinx often build sanctums are usually at the center of labyrinths, patrolled by their pet monsters.

Runes

Both living and non-living things can be augmented by inscribing special signs into them. Taught by a heavily tattooed man who doesn't always bother to dress. This is a popular class, as use of runes is an in-demand skill with many applications.

Dreaming

Students of this man will learn to sneak into the minds of others through dreams. There are few ways to defend yourself from this technique, and its practitioners are distrusted. If you have potential, you will find the teacher in your dreams.

Skinchanging

A talking owl demonstrates the means of becoming animals by wearing ritually prepared skins. As useful for spying as for combat.

Languages

An old, soft-spoken woman teaches the principles of universal language that will allow them to speak to all things. They make good diplomats, although their intense anthropomorphising is off-putting to many.

Possession

Taught by a man in the garb of a monk, covered in prison tattoos. Students allow themselves to be possessed, granting them uncanny powers and exaggerated personalities. Practitioners tend to be unpredictable.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Names

Does your dog know his name, or does he know you want his attention? Does he actually identify himself with "Rex", or has he learned a sound which means you want his attention?

Think, why would an ancient, unknowable being would have a name at all?

Their names don't define them, their names don't give us power over them. Their names are the words we've discovered that draw their attention, and you must be very cautious about drawing their attention.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Magic

Science is the best way to understand a world ruled by unintelligent, perfectly predictable forces. What is the best way to understand a world that is alive and filled with life, in which everything has its own will, and in which reality is a constraint imposed by beings of infinite power? In such a world you must be both a shepherd and a parasite, taking nourishment from the weak, stealing power from the strong, and devising new tricks to use against competitors.

Controlling the weak, attracting the patronage of the strong, and competing always with rivals? These are the behaviors of witches and wizards.