Friday 5 July 2024

Spell Catalysts

(Art by Zezhou Chen)

Here’s an idea that struck me - I like metamagic and I like magic instruments (cf. my Wonder Worker), so I’ve been pondering how I might implement these things.

Here are catalysts.

The first eight are from something I’ve been noodling at, the last four are from Aclas.

The thing to keep in mind is that Catalysts have HP. Presumably a fighter can hit your Catalyst with a manuever, or a called shot, or what have you. Regardless, they also lose HP in the following cases:
  • In the MD paradigm,
    Catalysts lose 2* [highest] HP on a double/Mishap, and 3*[highest] on a triple/Doom.
  • In the Spell Points paradigm 
    Catalysts lose HP when [cost] is higher than [level], losing HP equal to the difference. (i.e., casting a 2nd Level Spell with 5SP deals 3 damage to the Catalyst).
In both cases, the Catalyst gives the caster its Backlash effect, (perhaps with a save?) if it drops to 0HP for any reason. Backlash lasts, say, a Season, or perhaps a month - fine tuning required.

Volatile Catalysts are gone when they drop to 0HP, otherwise, once their HP is restored, they can be used again.

These ones are for MD…
  1. Meian PalebranchA hefty, pallid branch, partially translucent, broken from the boughs of Meia Seda, Tree of New Life. Clear sap glistens where the soft, pliable bark has split like skin. (3 Slots)
    +4 [sum] for spells related to Plants or Flesh, or to spells cast within the borders of Meia Seda.
    Backlash: Pervasive Lethargy. 13HP (Heals 3HP per day immersed in freshwater, but poisons the water it’s immersed in.)

  2. Moonstone Polished stone of marbled indigo and black, surrounded by mist. Blends into shadow. (1 Slot).
    +5[sum] for spells related to Evasion, Illusion and Darkness. Cannot cast spells related to Fire and Light.
    Backlash: Invisibility. 6HP. (Can only be repaired by Lunar Clergy).

  3. First Sun RelicA heavy, leafless branch of coppery wood, resplendent with fiery light and covered all over in gleaming droplets of amber, in which are suspended the golden insects of earlier times. (3 Slots). 
    Allows the use of the Lingering Spell Metamagic. +2[sum] for Fire, Light and Life Spells.(Lingering Spell - Increase any mentioned time unit in a spell by one step: Second > Minute > Hour > Day > Week > Month > Year > Decade > Century > Millenium).
    Backlash: Total Dendrification. 20HP (Regenerates 2HP at Dawn).

  4. Naran Bellstaff A heavy staff, made of lunar alloy and pockmarked with holes – it is a hollow tube, open at the top, and, when focused upon, levitates by the caster’s side – ready to be rung. (3 Slots).
    +3 [sum] to all Sound-related spells. Further +3 [sum] to all spells when stationary, levitating and focused upon to the exclusion of all else. When saving against harmful sound based effects (siren’s song, suggestion spells, fear-inducing screech) save with a +6 bonus.
    Backlash: Deafness. 18HP (Requires a Bellmaker to repair).

  5. Glass KnifeA triangular blade of blue-green glass, with a Lunar rune of concealment scraped into it. An implement of secret society magi. (1 Slot).
    +6[sum] when casting spells on those unaware of your presence. Also a light weapon.
    Backlash: Face-blindness. 3HP. Volatile.

  6. Scabrous MaskBones, reeky hide and animal teeth. Bone slats give the eyes a compound look. Found among the darker elements of the Weserian clans, among whom it is said the god of plague was born. (2 Slots carried, 0 worn).
    +6[sum] to all spells when the caster has an illness and is suffering the symptoms. +2[dice] to all spells when the caster has 3 or less HP.
    Backlash: Vomiting. 9HP (Can be repaired by anyone with a sewing kit and a few animal bones).
  7. Shed DragonhornA branched white antler, as tall as a man – most are marbled through with thin streaks of bright colour, like red, gold or blue. The tines are still wickedly sharp. (3 slots)
    +5[sum] for spells related to Fire, Water and Pride. Will not cast spells for the self-effacing, humble or cowardly. Acts of reckless bravery add +3[dice] to the next spell cast with the Dragonhorn as a Catalyst. Also serves as a crude medium weapon.
    Backlash: Scale-growth (Permanent) and Heavy Burns. 13HP (Can only be healed by a Dragon Apothecary.)

  8. Holy Eclipse StaffA tall, thin staff of ebony, atop which stands a silver disc clutched in an arc of reddish mahogany. The disc is polished to pure reflectivity. (3 slots)
    +3 [sum] to all Light and Darkness spells. Allows the caster to Reverse Spells.
    Backlash: Radiating Darkness. 12HP (Can be repaired by a carpenter, whitesmith and solar priest working together.)

And the Aclan Catalysts, in theory designed for Spell Points…

In this case, I’ve felt the need to add [result], which is the number in the [cost] box after you’ve spent any SP you’re going to spend on the spell, in order to not have it seem like the Catalysts make the spells more expensive - then again, there could be design space there…

This Spell Points stuff is still in early days, I’ll admit.

  1. Phosphoryllium Powder A loose handful of glowing powder, doubtless salvaged from the cracked internal chamber of a vis-powered phoslamp. Common tool of a shitty wizard. (0 Slots)
    Glows brightly whenever SP is spent by the holder, a minute per SP spent. +1[result] to Light spells.
    Backlash: Bright Flash (Like the Flash of a Heliograph Camera). 1HP. Volatile.

  2. Malediar RodHeavy rod of shimmering, volatile red metal - the so-called “Silver of Hell”. (2 slots)
    +6 [result] to all spells. Deals thaumoradiation damage to the caster equal to the spell’s [level].
    Backlash: Violent Explosion. 10HP (Can be healed with a metal forge and more malediar). Volatile.

  3. Psycho-alcazarA weighty crown of pinkish crystal, malediar and gold, with diamond eyeshields on little folding arms. A work of the ancient era of great magic, created by the Church of the Maker to empower their trusted magi. (1 Slot)
    When worn, +4 to mental Saves. +2 [result] and +1[level] to mental spells
    Backlash: Mental Breakdown. 20HP (Can currently only be repaired by angels).

  4. Portable Lightning LoomA backpack-sized version of the famous magical machine which made Muscar an international technological leader - well, centuries ago before the Wilds took it, anyway. A casing of brass, teak and gold, all fizzing malediar wires and clicking copper gears, built around heavy storage tanks full of chemical goo saturated with heavy metals. (4 Slots)
    +4 [result] to electrical spells. During a thunderstorm, the Loom can extract atmospheric energy, storing 1d6SP per 10 minutes of operation. The Loom can store up to 15SP for the use of the caster.
    Backlash: Catastrophic Anbaric Discharge (Save vs. Death). 12HP (Irreparable).

Wednesday 12 June 2024

Cartographical Phantoms (Atlantic Islands for Penny Dreadfuls)


March 29th, 1860

Finding your way to the phantom islands is nearly impossible - you can only get to Hybrasil with a guiding spell or a sea-compass from Ys, and (these days) you can only get to the others with Hybrasil as a reference. The old trick of getting lost and washing up there mostly has a habit of sending people to Cuba, these days - another of Columbus’ fuckups. 

Fortunately, Christopher Columbus is burning in Hell. 

Hybrasil is the most famous of the phantom islands - “nearby” to it are Satanazes, Mayda and Antillia. Then, farther to the west, Avalon, then farther than that, the Fortunate Isles, Anqa’s Nest and the Garden of the Hesperides - then on to Bermuda and the New World. 


Antillia is a small archipelago where the culture is still Visigothic and the language is still Gothic. Antillia is called “the island of seven cities”, though each is barely a town by the standards of Victorian Britain.

About a twentieth of the size of Ireland, Antillia is densely populated, for a phantom island, with a fervently Christian population. Their Christianity is an unusual, Pre-Cluniac, Pre-Second-Nicene sort of Christianity - a living fossil. The British Empire have struggled to class them as Protestant or Roman Catholic, and therefore have struggled to settle on a level of disdain for the colony-in-waiting. All that protects Antilia from the bloody lion’s paw is that, in their base materialism, the British have awful trouble navigating the phantom seas. 

The thing one must be aware of when visiting Antillia is the immortals who sold themselves to the Devil. They hang in high gibbets, two each in six of the harbours, and their captain Heldebald high above the great pier of Cyodne, the largest of the towns. Heldebald curses and gibbers in Gothic and a language that will only later be recognised as the American English of the 2050s. He is regularly haunted by demons, and his cage is surrounded by hundreds of crucifixes made of gold and greened copper, hanging like fruit from the branches of a tree of chains. It is prophesied he will someday be king of Antillia, and his fellow immortals will sit with him around a king’s table that is all edges, and supported by spinal columns. The Antillian monasteries, of course, have no particular plan to allow this to happen before Judgement Day. 

The last surviving base of the Knights Templar is secreted on an islet just off of Antillia called Royllo, though they and the locals are beginning to grow tired of each other. Payens Castle is a gigantic concentric fortification from an age where one could say “Christendom” and mean it. The wealth inside its halls is immense - did you know about 9-in-10 members of The Poor Fellow-Soldiers of Christ and of the Temple of Solomon (their full name) were not in fact knights, and instead proto-bankers? Well, Payens Castle is a symbol of Christian might, and also the only bank that will willingly hold fairy money. It serves as a clearing-house for nephilim, elves and the shadier angels. Before you ask - it is, in fact, hard to rob a bank guarded by literal Knights Templar with magic swords and Colt M1836 Patersons. 


By the standards of phantom islands, Satanazes is huge - about a fifth of the size of Ireland. 

There are no widely available maps of the interior of Satanazes - the coasts of it are entirely harsh cliffs, surrounded by skerries, reefs and sandbanks. 

The British Empire has only been able to locate Satanazes once, during the disastrous 1801 expedition - led there by a Hybran ship. The HMS Triton, a Mars-class ship of the line from the Secret Navy, ran aground on the rocks - the fate of the crew of the Triton is unknown, but the British government assumes the Satanazian locals have killed them and stolen the occult sovereignty device they were carrying to try and anchor the island to colonisable geographical coordinates.  

The Satanazians are referred to as “woses”, often - they are furred and towering, but seem to otherwise be human. They speak an inexplicable derivative of Gaelic laced heavily with fairy-distorted Catalan (many fairies speak Catalan, after some Majorcan navigators got swept into the Otherworld and were kept for 250 years teaching their language).

The Satanazians favour elfshot, weaponry of flint and bone, and pure lightning which the Hybrans claim they catch from the sky at the top of tall trees. Their buildings, such that have been seen, are startling achievements in wooden architecture, huge balconied towers leaping up among the oaks and the black Satanazian aspens (populus diabolus). The Hybrans suspect them to be of the same kind as the old Fir Bolg, the men with bags, who once had Eire’s hand. 

“Satanazian weather” is a common shorthand in the Secret Navy for the kind of weather that can kill you if you stand in it. Golf-ball hailstones, sheets of rain, sudden 130mph windflaws - in Satanazes, the sky is hungry. 


On Mayda, the people are Guanche, who sailed here from Tenerife in the days when you could. Most of them wear at least one live snake somewhere on their person, which are deadly venomous, but will never bite them. Priests wear only snakes, in place of hairpins, clothing, or even armour. The Hybrans like to claim that when St. Padraig drove the snakes out of ireland, they all swam to Mayda. 

Mayda is a small crescent island, volcanic and rocky, which is almost paradisiacal in its lushness. The few British sailors who have made it here assumed it at first to be the Garden of Eden. That assumption was helped by the snakes, which sleep in every trumpet-leafed shrub and slither through the thatching-brambles.

The largest creature on the island, except for man, is the Maydan sheep (ovis acutodon) - block-bodied, mean, and vegetarian except in the case of snakes - their thick, armour-like wool protects them from venom’d fangs, so they wade into heaving piles of mating snakes in the hot Maydan spring, and set about devouring the serpents with hard chisel teeth.  

On the western shore, the outer side of the crescent, there grow great coniferous “caltrop trees” (palissya maidus), which are found nowhere else. The cones of these trees fall from the branches and spiral down through the air, a weighted spike burying them in the ground - or in an unfortunate sheep, or incautious human. The top of the cone is covered in sharp protrusions, meaning where they fall, few can step. 

The Maidans bury their dead in these trees, cutting open a wedge and placing the corpse inside. Within two years, the bark retains the body, within fifteen, all that remains are skulls and tibias poking out among the needles and branches. The trees preserve the dead, and the Maydans love them, but they fight a battle with the palissyas, keeping them confined in the west, lest the whole island be choked out by them and their warlike cones. Mayda’s only export, to the Hybrans, is the wood of the palissya, which is fragrant, grows straight, and is near impossible to work by conventional carpenting. Hybran fairy magic turns the logs into the keels of their drakkars. 

The mencey of Mayda, a man called Tinerfe, knows quite well what happened in the Canary Islands. He doesn’t trust Europeans as far as he can throw them - which, admittedly, with his immense strength, is quite far. He has tested his throw, in fact, on at least one Spanish adventurer who did not watch his tongue. Tinerfe has a great palace made of palissya wood, but sleeps on the floor inside the shrine to the mother-of-the-sun Chaxiraxi, who protects Mayda from the perfidious Hybrans and their devil-loving masters in Britain. 


The people of Hybrasil are the Uí Breasail, a clan who first settled out here in the 200s BC, but passed ships back and forth with Ulster all the way until the 1650s. After that, their policy became isolationist, until the British Empire arrived here in 1795, and did as they do best. The Hybrans would not be pleased to hear of Tinerfe’s assessment that the Europeans are their “masters” - especially not after what they did to the previous governor. 

Fairy blood is common, and many families have a mirror-family in the Otherworld, with whom they swap a human wain for a fairy one, for a period no longer than a year and a day - much better than the old changeling kidnap system, the fairy child gets to learn a little empathy from the apes, and the human child gets to learn a little magic and a dash of madness from the sidhe. 

The Gaels aren’t the only people who have settled Hybrasil - on the west coast of the island, there are villages speaking Mi'kmaq, and Euskara in the south. The ruins of the Portuguese fort looms high on Aisling’s Head, the cliffs in the southeast. The fairy-tortured ghosts of the Portuguese serve as a fearful omen to the implements of the British colonial government in Hybrasil - what they have earned is coming to them. 

0105 - St. Brigid’s Nunnery - An immense clochar, stony and cold, far too massive in size to host even the four hundred nuns of the convent on the island. St. Brigid’s is built over tombs predating Breasail habitation of the island, and the lower levels of the great building are not at all built for human use. Here is practised a sort of Columban Gaelic Christianity, which is fiercely careful not to stumble into any sort of syncretism, and fiercely pleased to say that each nun here carries a handgun, should she have need of it to shoot the Devil. 

0203 - Killuntrae - Across the sound from St. Brigid’s, stands a much newer, more open place - a small village built around twinned churches called St. Athanasius’ and St. Brendan’s. St. Brendan’s is where funerals of those sailors whom the Sea has eaten and spat back out onto Hybrasil take place. It is a very sombre building, high on a hillock, gazing out to St. Brigid’s like a forlorn spouse. Not a single window adorns it. 

St. Athanasius is, on the other hand, a Catholic Church which wholly avoided the iconoclastic habits of the Reformation, and, since it is lit by pallid faerie-fire, has never had to suffer the shroud of soot seen on many of its fellows. The place is wildly bright and colourful - here the pews are draped in cloth-of-gold. The finery seems inexplicable for this isolated isle, ‘til one learns this is the only church in western Europe to offer the Holy Communion to fairies and elves. 

Both churches are the responsibility of the Archbishop of the Mare Perditum, assigned here by the Vatican about fifteen years ago. Archbishop Lagadec is sort of like a palaeolithic, Breton prototype of Brian Blessed - he seems from a distance to mostly consist of a beard and a cassock, except when he dresses in his episcopal vestments for Mass. The Hybrans mistook him for a Satanazian wose at first sight, which is how he first began to dream of sending salvation to that island. Among the Hybrans, nobody could be more popular - he is a beloved shepherd (literally and metaphorically). He likes to argue theology with Patriarch Alaric of Antillia, when he can get a letter to the island. He has been kidnapped into Faerie at least thrice, and each time returned within the month - mostly unharmed, aside from the second time, when his eyes arrived home some five months after the rest of him. 

0209 - Méarógg - The fingerstone, a little islet. Mythically, it was once home to a beithir, but the Hybrans claim they killed it by filling a sheep with sulphur and feeding it to the beast, causing it to explode. The sheep-trick is a common tale, though, and there’s no particular evidence of it. What there is evidence of is the habitation of a giant in some ancient time - a huge house built of black hexagonal bricks, just like the Causeway, in which stands a great bread oven you could roast an elephant in. Whomever the Fingerstone Giant was, there’s no sign of them these days, save potsherds as thick as your arm.

0303 - Priest’s Hills - Out here, Hybran priests once lived in secluded bothies, in solemn contemplation of Nature and God. Archbishop Lagadec spends Summer out here when he can, tending a literal flock of sheep, keeping away rare-but-dangerous Most Weasel (mustela diabolus) with a firm application of crook and fist. 

0304 - Road to Killuntrae - A raised road of old stones crosses a peat bog. Peat-cutters work daily to supply the island’s cookfires, and toss over their shoulder the fairy gold they turn up from the earth at their task. Tis better to cast back that stuff, lest it haunt ye. 

0306 -  West Coill Dubh  - An ancient, twisted forest. Here they say the Most Weasels lair, slithering about in dark tunnels under the roots that they violently conquered from Hybrasil’s now-extinct stocky badger (meles crassum). This habit has led the Hybrans to refer to the Scots, English and Welshmen sent to loot their shores as the “weaselmen” - an assessment that’s hard to argue with. Except if you are, in fact, a shimmer-furred Most Weasel, who have a habit of devouring incautious foreigners that go too far into the Coill Dubh. 

0307 - East Coill Dubh - Slate cliffs and pebbled shores where hermit crabs fight for shells under a prehistoric old-growth wood. Here the wind only blows from behind you, except when you really need your footing (such as at a cliff’s edge), when it changes direction sharply. An attempt at a lighthouse was made here by the British, beginning in 1804, but fairies drove three consecutive keepers insane, and the structure was abandoned to the weasels and the redcaps. 

0402 - North Nipuch - The Nipuch forest was first settled by Mi’kmaq sailors hundreds of years ago. Their descendants note how they brought with them the porcupines (erethizon dorsatum) now found only here - a sort of counter-animal to the sinuous Most Weasel, which will devour a man, but balk at these kingly rodents. In this, the migrant rodent becomes a symbol for the Hybran people. 

0403 - East Nipuch - A once-dense and trackless wood, now thoroughly trod. Three logging camps run by the weaselmen cut ancient trees to serve as ship-masts. The loggers are mostly Indian indentured labourers, very far from home and treated very poorly. The superintendents of the logging camps each are third sons, all out here because it is preferable to their being at home. They treat their “territory” in the Nipuch wood like a kingdom, and lead their loggers in mad battles against the others’ to preserve their claims. 

0404 - Burntmoor - Trails of burnt land run through the moorland, from the hills to the sea. Nothing will ever grow on the paths of Burntmoor, and the road takes a wide stretch to avoid them - here the heavy-lidded eye of old Balor Béimnech burnt the land in Fomorian times, his great eyelid lifted by four of his soldiers.

0405 - The Nemeton - An ancient sacred grove, older than written history. The draoidh of the island pronounce judgement in local law here - they hold great sway even among the Christian Breasail, who see no particular problem with combining the traditions. Their arguments with Archbishop Lagadec are forceful, but ultimately good-natured - whereas what they did to Governor Barnet was forceful, but not at all good-natured. No-one meaning harm to Hybrasil can step into the Nemeton, or a fairy arrow balanced on a high tree instantly flies into their left eye and strikes them dead. They say the stone arrowhead is a fragment of the slingstone Lugh Lamhfada put through Balor’s eye. 

0503 - South Nipuch - Dense old-growth forest, crossed by no road and full of cairns. Here stand statues of a Danu king with a silver hand, Nuada, and here walk leannan sith with beauty like the dawn and teeth like wolves. They’re out here looking for a Tam Lin of their own. Thus, travel through this place is conducted only on Sunday, when the sidhe are banished or at Mass.  

0504 - Hermit’s Hill - A wild old man with a crooked staff lives up here on this bare hillock above the forest. Burnt in ancient times and never re-grown, only little round rabbits and wildflowers really thrive up here. The old man, whose name is long forgotten, is as old as Methusaleh and about as wise, though he owns nothing but a staff,  and a robe to wear in church on Sundays. What need has he of possessions, though? God charges no rent, and the people of the island are happy to contribute food to him in any season, even in Winter, when he walks atop the snows and speaks with ancestor-ghosts from Eire and Mi’kma’ki.   

0505 - Pastures - Normally, colonisation brings rats and pigs. Neither can withstand the fearsome Most Weasel, for which a rat is a nice bite that lives in easily accessible places, and a pig is a fine meal that’s easy to surprise. Out here, on the pastures, are sheep in their bleating hundreds. 

0603 - Amasamkiaq - A Hybran village on the west coast where they speak (a dialect of) Mi'kmaq. Sailors crossed the ocean hundreds of years ago, to settle here at about the same time as the Ui Breasail. In most places, the Mi’kmaq language fused with the Gaelige to produce the heady Hybran dialect, save this isolated village on a slatey cove, where the locals still speak the old tongue. The village is run, in effect, by a very competent wizard by the name of Nakuset, who turned down membership in the Peerage Obscure, haunts the dreams of the mencey of Mayda, and plays dice with the kraken on the last Saturday of every month, out there in the deeps. You should see the size of the dice. 

0604 - Road to Amasamkiaq - A narrow stone road winds through a deep forest valley full of waterfalls, small stone bridges, sidhe cairns, dead drops, and cairns you ought never enter. Travel without a local guide is inadvisable. 

0605 - Gort Roisin (and surrounding villages) - West of Williamsport lies the largest Hybran town on the island, named after one St. Roisin, who is the town’s patron saint. St. Roisin came here from Falias, a city in Faerie - she herself half a daoine sith, she made a number of miracles that were impossible by fairy magic and came to be considered a folk saint by the Hybrans - even with her cloven hooves. 

Gort Roisin is a picturesque little town, always crowded with livestock, fed by a clear burn, and full of depictions of the Little Rosy Saint. Archbishop Lagadec’s huge popularity began when he agreed that Roisin ought to be canonised, and sent her case to the Vatican. This is the only part of Hybrasil that visiting sailors and imperial officials will go to without an armed guard. 

0606 - Williamsport - Residence of the British Governor of Hybrasil, Samuel Vinclair. Vinclair is a member of the House of Vinclair, a very old dynasty of Norman wizards who would like to be known for their divinatory prowess but are mostly known for hereditary porphyria and supporting the wrong claimants in Civil Wars. He was reassigned here by the Peerage Obscure to get him out of the way - a war is brewing, and nobody wants Vinclair’s support. He has constant nightmares of being sacrificed on a stone table, because that is what he assumes the rebel Hybrans did to Governor Barnet, his predecessor.. He is wrong - what they did to him was much, much worse. 

Williamsport itself is a dreary town built around a breakwater, with a wall warded every five paces with a massive iron crucifix. Each gate consists of three thresholds, and every Sunday the town priest goes around and casts salt. All of this to make grey, wet Williamsport free of sidhe, and safe for drunk sailors of the Secret Navy to piss on walls and leer at the locals unpleasantly. 

The Governor’s manor crouches on a high stone hill above town, an ancient building retrofitted with modern amenities. Once, the King of Hybrasil lived in this house, and Vinclair is unhappy to report that his soul has not gone on to the home of Donn, but instead haunts the stony halls, demanding a drink of water, his dogs, and his wife, in that order. Worsening the Governor’s mood is his guest - An ambassador from pale and sunken Ys is visiting, a glassy-eyed prince with an unpleasant smile. He hasn’t given his name (a habit from dealings with Faerie), and won’t explain to Vinclair why he’s here, and not in London. 

0704 - Sinner’s Graves - Who rests til Judgement Day in the ten tombs in this dark and tangled forest? None can say for sure, but the Hybrans know they were evil. Most agree (incorrectly) that the largest tomb where youths are dared to creep around the haunted stones belongs to Judas Iscariot. 

0705 - Cnoc Fuar - A Hybran town on the far side of a high hill, where Williamsport can’t keep an easy eye on it. A dense collection of dark stone houses with tall thatched roofs, inhabited by clannish Breasail. There are a great many shapeshifters among the people of Cnoc Fuar, and any pig, dog, most weasel or seagull you see could be the chief, the thatcher, the draoidh or even the priest. 

0706 - Road to Cnoc Fuar - A very old stone road, crossing intermixed heath and wetland. The road is falling apart, for now - Governor Vinclair’s phobia of ritual sacrifice prevents him from putting too much force into fixing it - this fits the people of Cnoc Fuar fine - they’ve never much needed roads. 

0707 - Empty Coast - The forested coast southeast of Williamsport, where a few villages are now in ruins, and a coal-mine cuts into the earth. This place was the site of a massacre during the British conquest of the island, led by a Scot called Campbell, who left the island in 1804, and died in his home via violent decapitation in 1809. As he may have himself said, in a nationalistic way - nemo me impune lacessit.  

0709 - Wickanach - A Hybran town of herring fishers on a high, rocky island. Under sparse tree cover, herrings dry on racks by icons of the Erlking and the Cross. Wickanach is best known for her meanest daughter, Cloch, a Hybran… guerilla? Assassin? Knight? Regardless of her title - she’s currently loose in London. 

0803 - Kernewek Tombs - Ancient tombs of Cornish sailors  dot the strip of land between Loch na Soilse and the Atlantic. Back then, the Horned Welsh still had horns, you see, and sometimes you’ll see them poking out of the soil in the shallow graves. Who buried them? It was before the Breasail. Perhaps the Sidhe took a dislike to them. 

0804 - Loch na Soilse - A freshwater lake inside an island in the sea, full of rare radiant smelt (osmerus candidus), that glow under the water like swimming stars. Incomparably delicious, the fish are barred to eat except by direct permission of the sidhe. Any breaking of the agreement not sharply punished will bring down faerie wrath on the island. Fish-theft is more of a sin than a crime, to the Hybrans, and it was half of the reason they did what they did to Governor Barnet. Governor Barnet and his bloody fishing rod!

0805 - Sachati Forest - A managed pine forest south of Williamsport, home to about ten Hybran villages. For the last three years, each year, men from these villages have engaged in a running match of football - one goal is the Fairy Caves in 0904, and the other is the front door of the governor’s mansion in Williamsport, in 0606. They do this to demonstrate their cheerful disdain for both great powers that hold Hybrasil in their sway. It remains to be seen which will retaliate first. 

0806 - Ruins of Forte de São Barinto -  The remains of a Portuguese fort, built here in the 1770s to watch over the old port to the southwest. Now a haunted (literally) pile of stones, surrounded by the slouching ruins of bloodstained houses. Whatever angered the sidhe, nobody now recalls - save maybe the ghosts. 

0807 - Aisling’s Head - Named for Aisling, a princess of the Ui Breasail whose dreamlike castle stood here, filled with many treasures looted in a life of raiding the Hebrides, Iceland, Thule and Britain. In 1805, she tricked the sidhe into “stealing” her entire castle, dragging it to Falias in Faerie overnight. Of course, she desired this, and left behind only a few messages, unpopular cousins and rude graffitis. They say she’ll be back with a sidhe army and a sidhe husband any year now - they’re right. 1867, pencil in the date. She won't have aged a day. 

0902 - Awochweijit - This isolated highland of steep cliffs and large oaks is home to a species of absolutely gigantic dazzletrap spiders (Cteniza silvanophagus). They are perfectly harmless to humans, because their main food is fairies. The dazzling patterns on their backs are irresistible to a pixie or a redcap, and their argyric venom is a nasty paralytic. Faerie has a story about a beloved Danu king who drove the spiders out of Faerie, just like Padraig did for the snakes of Eire. They are allowed to exist here, by the princes of Faerie, because, when it comes down to it, their venom is just too useful.

0904 - Fairy Caves - Don’t go uninvited. Better yet, don’t go in. These caves go down, down, and up, up, to Faerie, to the land of the Faerie city of Finias. The Sluagh Sidhe, with burning spears and horses of air, use this road to arrive in our world, a manleather boot never once touching the gravel, to scour the shore and seas for fugitives, foes and sport. If you see them in the air above the hills - start praying. It’ll serve you better than running. 

0905 - Ruins of Porto Ibra - A Portuguese port town, built in the location of a village of Euskaldunak people, cleared out of here at the point of a musket. This mistreatment very much offended the Sidhe, who descended on the settlers of Porto Ibra like wild animals, killing many and driving the rest back up into the Fort on the hill - then declared any human that laid down their head to sleep here would be hunted. It took a few incidents for the original locals to realise that meant them, too. 

0909 - Slige - An islet home to the mound-manor of an exiled sidhe prince. The Hybrans call him the Fluting Prince, for the eerie music that heralds his presence. The great mound-manor, which appears to the uninitiated as a simple heap of dirt, is covered all in seashells from this and other oceans, that glitter nacre and black. Thousands of dead crabs, tortoises, mollusks, bivalves, and other shelled things dot Slige’s beaches, rotting and rotting for the pleasure of the Prince. On the north shore, made from black stone, there stands a statue of Mannanan mac Lir, his eyes each a pearly shell from some Faerie sea. 

1002 - Coill Clais - Here, deep pits dug by the dazzetrap spiders dot the landscape. Each is just wide enough for a person to fall into, and around 20 metres deep. Usually, they are obscured by shrubbery. Few people travel through Coill Clais. 

1003 - Fomorian Tombs - Immense court cairns made of black volcanic stone and decorated with the standing femurs of giants dot the landscape, like ships at sea. The treasures inside are all aluminium, the magic metal of the ancient Fomor sages, which, at this point in history, is worth far more than gold, due to being rarer. You have until about 1888 to cash in on that, if you don’t mind having your skin eaten by angry fomorian ghosts. 

1006 - Aio - A town on a small islet called Iomaire.The population are mostly Euskaldunak in culture, and speak a Euskara-Hybran creole. Aio is strung out along a narrow valley in Iomaire’s middle, which has always been a place of refuge for the islanders. Aio is a town famous for its musicians, who can always be relied upon to sing a soothing song for whatever sidhe has come raging through from the otherworld with mayhem on their mind. 

1007 - Coill Aio - The narrow valley continues east, cutting into the managed food forest of the people of Aio. Unlike the forests of the big island, Coill Aio is practically idyllic, and certainly better lit. Governor Barnet used to hunt here - when he arrived, he had foxes released onto Iomaire, to serve as game. Now, the foxes are everywhere. The Hybrans were furious, not because of anything to do with ecology, but because the stupid weaselman had betrayed their location to Reynard the Fox. That was the other half of why they did what they did to him. 

1103 - Cape Brendan - Here, high on the cape, is the tomb of St. Brendan. He was returned to his famous island as a protection of having his body dismembered for relics, something he feared. His body was recorded as being buried at Clonfert, but that’s a bluff - it’s here, high on the cape in a humble stone cist beneath a cairn, the body of the Navigator. The Ysian sea-compasses don’t point north - they point towards him. Pray, really pray to him, and he’ll guide you onwards - to Mayda, Antillia, Satanazes, Avalon - 

Or even Cuba, if you like. 

Wednesday 1 May 2024

Brass Grimoire

Cogs - Summon [sum] gears, arranged in any way you choose so long as they are interlocking. Gears can be up to [dice] feet across and can be connected by a total of [dice]+1 shafts or pins. Attaching a gear to something producing rotational force turns the whole arrangement. 

Machine Pieces - Summon [sum] pieces of broken machinery, each [dice] slots big, anywhere you can see within 60’. It is believed this spell once summoned functional machines. 

Aerodyne - Summon a strange winged device with [sum] inventory slots and [dice] seats. It is constructed from brass, canvas and balsa wood. If provided a 100ft piece of flat ground, it can run up and take flight, unless overloaded - it requires the same for landing. The Aerodyne moves at about 80mph and handles strong winds poorly. Nobody alive remembers how to repair or even dismantle the complex clockwork engines of these devices. If you break three Aerodynes, this spell no longer functions - apparently, you are put on the blacklist of whoever is sending them out. 

Machine Gremlins - Conjure [sum] tiny mechanical assholes that run around messing with machinery, ripping paper, farting little clouds of coal dust and insulting people in the language which they think in. They have 1HP and, if killed, explode in a cloud of shrapnel for 1d6 damage to the surroundings, save to negate. 

Coronation Decision Machine - Summon a towering machine with a brass keyboard and a “screen” made of engraved overlapping wheels. The machine picks the better of two candidates for rule based on [dice] qualifiers you plug into the machine, such as “ability to deal with the giant spider infestation” or “projected ≤3 heirs” or “highest fighter level”. This can also be used to pick the better of two candidates for anything, if a qualifier is set as, for example, “best qualified to run a bakery”.

Maintenance Mode - For [sum]*10 minutes you are invisible to mechanical devices and creatures. Your skin takes on a pearly blue sheen. Traps you trigger don’t fire, and constructs can’t perceive you.

Call the Clockmaker - With a metallic clang and a cloud of red smoke, you conjure up a 20HD construct made of gleaming brass and silvery gears. It resembles a giant brass man with a fanciful moustache and leetle round spectacles. It has 30 Strength or your system’s equivalent, and has 18AC. It is a supernaturally skilled mechanic and much lighter and more agile than it looks. However, it only ever fights in self defence. It rolls reaction with a [dice] bonus. If it rolls a “hostile” result (2-4), it charges off to start fixing the locality. Otherwise, it will listen to your requests - if the reaction roll was 10 or higher, it’ll even consider fulfilling them for free. 

Imperial Candles - You conjure [dice + highest] sticks of black dynamite, capped with little mechanical devices you can use to light the dynamite’s fuse with a thought. You can set the delay between activation and detonation for up to [sum] rounds. Dynamite does 1d6 damage per stick, with +6 damage per stick if used in an enclosed space (such as a dungeon room). 

Summon Rust Monsters - Summon [sum] 1HD rust monsters. They are each silly little guys who can each consume up to a cubic metre of metal before dozing off with a full stomach. If [sum] is 20 or over, you can choose instead to summon a single rust dragon, the extremely rare imago form of the common dungeon pest. It has 20HD, flies with a horrifying buzz, and can eat however much metal it

feels like. It breathes acid, hence “dragon” - and has a stinger-tail. It’s also sapient, hungry and cunning. 

Antifire Sludge - Summon [sum] cubic feet of a grey-brown, freezing-cold and totally non-flammable sludge that slowly slithers towards active fires and smothers them out. The sludge smells terrible. The cubic feet can be anywhere in your line of sight and need not be contiguous. The sludge dries to a brittle mass that cracks into brown carcinogenic powder. 

Disassemble - Target object is disassembled into its constituent parts, or into [dice]+2 pieces if its constituents are not clearly distinct. If it is intended to be disassemblable, it reassembles after [sum] minutes. Otherwise, it is broken. 

Water to Oil - Turn [sum] litres of water into clear, flammable mineral oil. 

Dead Man’s Switch - Summon a device which will send a magical, electrical or mechanical signal if you die. The spell is active for [sum] days, then the Switch vanishes without sending the signal. It can detect your death at any distance on any plane of existence. 

Windmills - With a 10 minute ritual, summon a clockwork windmill on a marked spot. It’s 10ft around the base, 20ft tall, and anchors into any solid surface. A windmill converts the force of the wind into mechanical force. Comes with a wide variety of gears to interface with a wide variety of machines. Windmills are permanent once summoned, though a given caster can only support up to [level] windmills at once. If trying to go over the limit, the oldest windmill rusts and collapses overnight. 

Brass Cross Sword - Summon an impressive +[dice] magical heavy greatsword, with a gigantic metallic crossguard. The sword is covered in moving gears of no apparent purpose, which would allow it to interface with a larger machine. 

Fraction of the Heavenly Spear - Summon [dice] sixths of the sky-scraper-height flying weapon once called the Heavenly Spear. The sixths float overhead, disobeying gravity and surrounded by a magnetic storm cloud. This spell used to summon the whole thing, but someone broke it. You’d need a very good mechanic and 100,000g worth of components to repair it. If you did, you would have access to an electrical flying fortress with an on-board lighting cannon WMD - then all that would be left is figuring out how to fire it.