Tuesday 17 November 2020

9 Anomalous Media

 Inspired by the posts over at Throne of Salt and Archons March On. Big Bandwagon Energy. 

1.  Vilnius  

Microfiche contained inside heavy briefcase found in bomb shelter in Ukraine.

Written primarily in Lithuanian, the text of the microfiche is the personal diary of an unnamed c.18th century officer in the Lithuanian Armed Forces. It chronicles, with crude illustrations, his journey across eastern Europe in pursuit of a creature he describes as ‘the mouth’.

The officer eventually tracks the mouth to outside Poltava, where he is eaten by it. The next eight pages describe his experience of the space inside the mouth. After the eighth page, seventeen are left blank. New handwriting picks up in the last few pages of the book, writing from the officer’s point of view about how different the 1950s are. The book ends with a six-page rant, with no punctuation, on the horrors of Mutually Assured Destruction before scrawling off into incomprehensibility.  


2.  Owls

Fifteen-minute-long videotape. The opening six minutes are an elderly woman calmly discussing what she likes about owls. She is sitting inside a screened porch, at night, with only a small white-light lamp. She begins with discussing their ‘cute faces’ and ‘beautiful wings’, but gradually moves into describing their ‘heaving bulk’ and ‘wise piousness’.

At six minutes and fifteen seconds, an indistinct, horse-sized object moves past the screen behind the woman’s head, making no noise.

A minute later, she finishes talking, begins to cry, stands up and exits the porch, and does not return.


3.  Bronze Age Collapse

Two clay tablets written in Babylonic Cuneiform. Each has been carbon dated to c.3000 years old. Each is a poem.

The first poem describes a way to make bronze fragile involving ‘the sea-woman’s blessing.’ The second describes a phrase that, if read aloud, will inspire homicidal rage in listeners. The final word of the second poem is the word in question.

The tablets were found in the office of the former Professor of Archaeology at the University of Manchester in 1983. He had been beaten to death by four PhD students, all of whom are still currently in prison.


4.  The Rhine Chronicle

A long, winding chronicle written in Latin, presumably around the reign of Charlemagne’s son Louis the Pious. It was allegedly written by Wala of Corbie, judging by commentary from later documents found with the chronicle.

It discusses at length the appearance of a ‘white knight’ with a ‘glass face’ on the banks of the Rhine in the third year of Louis’ reign. The figure is described as being bulky, moving slowly, and carrying an unknown banner with red and white stripes and many white stars.


5.  Cats

A forum thread on AlternativeMedicineTalkspace, written by forum user ‘88Cats’, who has apparently been raised in the same household as 88 cats. Their parents are cat-breeders, although account suggest they also appear to be involved in community organising and various poorly described religious movements.

After one of the cats is killed when it is hit by a car, 88Cats comes to the forum to ask for a way to ‘help it’. Another forum user, ‘OpalCarnelian’, sends a detailed series of posts totalling around 50000 words, which describe a variety of rituals involving blood, gasoline, bones, invoking the name of various underworld gods and the disclaimer that the cat will not have the same personality when it returns.

One day later, 88Cats responds with ‘worked :)’ and closes the thread.


6.  Mona Lisa 1999

A semi-accurate forgery of the Mona Lisa, excepting the fact she is depicted with a cut throat. Collected from a large collection of paintings, some reproductions of older paintings, alongside a few original works depicting contemporaneous celebrities. All have gruesome wounds.

All living people depicted died within 3 years, usually in violent or tragic circumstance.  


7.   Neon Genesis Evangelion REDUX

A DVD supposedly produced some time around 1998. Depicts a heavily rewritten version of the cult anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion in which a number of primary characters are cannibals. The plot spirals into incoherence far earlier than in the original work, and characters often eat the large monsters felled during the episodes. The original audio appears to be in Portuguese, and the animation quality varies wildly.

The characters themselves don’t react to the internal incidences of cannibalism, and many are written as being happier or more stable than in the original series.


8.  17 Ways to Improve Your Life!

A VHS tape presumably intended as a self-help product, although produced by an amateur single-person team, as noted on the box. The primary speaker of the VHS is a woman with a south English accent. Identification is inconclusive due to the large rabbit mask she wears throughout the VHS. Each ‘episode’ covers a ‘method’ with which to improve one’s life.

They begin innocuously, as you may expect by now, with various tips about public speaking, comedic timing, and ways to make friends more easily. Episode 4 features the first instance of a monochromatic, featureless humanoid figure standing in the apartment.

As each episode passes, the speaker’s apartment becomes more dishevelled, the rabbit mask grimier and more threadbare, and the speaker herself more visibly emaciated. More and more figures begin to appear in the back of the shot, never moving or doing anything.

Around Episode 10, the host is lying prone on the couch, rabbit mask sideways on her head to look straight into the camera. She goes on a muffled rant about killing everyone who has wronged you and taking their things. Nineteen figures crowd around the couch.

Episode 11 is made up of ‘guest speakers’, that is to say, strung together clips of other self-help media.

Episode 12 appears to be filmed from a hospital bed. The host is visibly healthier, has a new rabbit mask, and a ‘co-host’, a young woman with a north English accent and a cat mask.

The remaining five episodes have a far lighter tone. No further figures appear in the woman’s apartment. The episodes move away from the self-help framing device into long, podcast-format discussions of how lying to yourself leads you down a dark path, and asking for help is crucial to improving your situation.

The final episode is filmed by both co-hosts in a new apartment. It’s mostly devoted to their new cat, Mr. Snuffles, and the positive qualities of the new apartment.


9.  Minutemen Meeting 2005

A six hour long .mov file recording a meeting in a small function hall. The file was recovered from FrontierJustice, an obscure forum that mostly contains amateur recordings of violent acts.

A flag on the wall suggests the meeting takes place somewhere in Arizona, although the primary speaker has an accent more consistent with Florida. The primary speaker remains unidentified. There are around fourteen subjects sitting in plastic chairs in the field of view, with at least six more off-screen.

The primary speaker gives a rambling, incoherent speech, mostly made up of castle doctrine ideology, anti-immigration rhetoric, racist dog whistles, nationalist quips and border patrol slogans strung together with little grammatical sense. The attendees clap enthusiastically whenever he pauses.

At 00:14:17, the primary speaker reaches behind him to a black violin case and produces an object. What the object appears to be changes on a frame by frame basis between a Smith and Wesson revolver, a flute, a matte-black crowbar and a square graphic imprinted directly onto the speaker’s hand.

At irregular intervals, never more than 5 minutes, the speaker says ‘how about a demonstration?’ and ‘shoots’ one of the subjects. The subject’s place on the screen is immediately replaced by extensive visual disruptions that render viewing the subject an impossibility.

The first six shots are accompanied by raucous applause, the last fourteen are met with silence, although the applause continues whenever the speaker pauses. At the end of the speech, the speaker walks into the visual distortions. The empty stage is all that is visible for the last hour and sixteen minutes of the video.

Saturday 14 November 2020

GLOG Class: Verdant Monk

Bouncing around ideas for the ‘Yaalit Desert’, which is basically a cold desert in a giant crater full of lost technology. 

The Verdant Monks rule a single green hill near the city of Tlingos. They left the monastery-city due to the increasing severity of the ruling monks and the dwindling resources.

They live and teach on one verdant hill, defended by the monks. The twin cities of Tlingos and Midaq often try to conquer the place – supposedly the food and water are plentiful there. This is untrue – the monastery is constantly on the verge of collapse, and the monks only maintain it with strict and extensively planned water rationing.

The head of their order is an ancient tree, one of the last in all of Yaalit. Like all trees, it is a repository of ancient wisdom. Unlike most trees, it was taught ancient martial arts from 4000 years ago, which is why it isn’t currently part of the rafters and doors of the Twin Cities.

Verdant Monks wear dull green robes and usually carry planks.  

Plain green robe.
Bottle of pure water.
A staff made of holy wood.
A bag of seeds.
A bag of tea leaves (for drinking and divination).
A Plant Speech, Leaf-Eating-Beetle-Step
B Twig to Tree
C Dry Tree Seeking Water
D Ghost Tree Valley
Plant Speech
You can communicate with plants. Most Plants do not speak in terms of colour, light or distance, but instead in terms of water, temperature, time, seasons and weather. Only trees are capable of full conversation on a human level, and there are few trees left in Yaalit.
Following the example of the Leaf-Eating-Beetle, anything wooden will support your weight. Even the thinnest twig will hold you upright as if you weigh nothing.
Twig to Tree
You can turn a dead or lifeless piece of wood into a growing tree briefly. The size of the leafy branches which grow depends on the size of the source wood. Twigs make twigs, a roof rafter will grow a whole trunk. You cannot use this ability on living wood, or on wood created by this ability. Trees always grow straight up, when they can. Roots can crack stone. 
Dry Tree Seeking Water
You can instinctively ‘smell’ water up to a mile away. Clean and foul water smell different. Water based liquids, such as wine, beer, and poison, can only be smelled from nearby. You can tell if two liquids have been mixed – for example, water and poison.
Ghost Tree Valley  
By undertaking an hour ritual to enchant a hole in the ground, you can access the Ghost Tree Valley, an ‘echo’ of the ancient forest which once stood where Tlingos is now. Once the ritual is complete, you and your companions may crawl into the hole and appear in a cool, twilight forest, about a kilometre wide. The place is safe, and has plentiful food and water. The ancient masters of the Verdant Monks live here as spirits and will gladly offer advice. If you damage a spirit tree, or stay more than a week, you wake up in the hole you dug at the next sunrise.
Each time after the first you wish to enter the Ghost Tree Valley, you must bring an offering of seeds from a new plant.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

The Dead Fens

The Dead Fens are a vast, cold wetland along the basin of the River Vok. They lie in the distant north of a country called Wurmgar. It stands entirely in the shadow of Grave Ridge, a huge hilly region said to contain the bones of an ancient god.

The fens are known for a few things:

  1. Constant fog, apparently produced by a curse laid by a vengeful druid in eons past.
  2. Red and black flora. Thick beds of fleshy looking moss, obsidian sedges and stands of carmine reeds.
  3. Hideously dangerous fauna. Skitterjaws, catoblepas, giant poisonous dragonflies, screw-worms and ghouls, worst of all.
  4. ‘Godbone’, some kind of organic material that is usually found in huge spires or craggy boulders.

Reports that the godbone spires resemble ribs, or the boulders seem to be teeth and fingerbones fit for a titan, are likely exaggerated.

There are only three places worth visiting in the entire Fen.

Tzorovik – No local would ever admit their city is in the Fen, but the bulwarks and sluices protrude far into the region, and the whole northern side is overgrown with that abominable red moss. The Tzoroviki are in denial.

Tzorovik has been many things. It started as a mining outpost, both for copper and godbone. Both materials are present in the city’s construction, and the hills nearby are pockmarked with deep, winding mineshafts.

Next, it became a military city. Half the Wurmish army is still barracked in the vast, dilapidated Copperhill Barbican, that looms on the hills above the city. Battlements and, rusting, obsolete ballistae abound.

Finally, and most recently, it has become a cult city. Specifically, it is home to two cults: The Children of Thulgan, a ‘family’ of feral, animalistic ghouls that hunt the populace at night, and the Church of Vizkov, a shiny new messianic religion that are also ghouls, just better dressed.

Femur Camp – Built precariously upon the crux of three godbone spires, Femur Camp is home to bonedraggers, reckless fools with guns and pickaxes who are attempting to haul the godbone back to Tzorovik. The only entrance to Femur Camp is a ropeladder – it has exactly one spare room to offer to travellers, and no tavern to speak of.

Godbone is prized for durability, and can be distilled by alchemy into a number of useful products – such as fertiliser. Wurmgar relies on this fertiliser to have its meagre fields feed a growing population. As such, successful bonedraggers make a lot of money. There are not a lot of successful bonedraggers.

The leader of Femur Camp is called Malkus, a Bugbear with a missing eye. He is supposedly some kind of druid, and uses toads to spy on his subordinates. Some people say there’s a screw-worm hiding behind his eyepatch he unleashes on anyone who attacks him.

The Cave of Teeth – A limestone cave carved into a high wall above a particularly reeking segment of wetland. Some jester has placed godbone teeth in a high arch, and a low wall, making the cave resemble a giant, yawning human mouth. The Spirit of the Dead Fens, a calculating creature called Toothblood, slumbers within. She resembles a stretched ox with a horned centipede head, and hooved centipede legs.

Toothblood offers pacts and deals to those who visit, which the people of Tzorovik often avail themselves of. She can turn any liquid within a mile of the Dead Fens into poison, or cure any disease, in exchange for a life, sacrificed in the pool in her cave.

1d10 Encounters on the Dead Fens

  1. 1d6 Screw-worms - These red, spiny worms start out the size of a finger, but eventually grow to the length of a forearm. They're notorious for drilling their massive mouthparts into unsuspecting limbs as they inject a numbing agent. You don't notice the pain, and if it stays there for a whole day, your leg goes dead and it starts chewing it off. Pulling them out is incredibly painful, but they'll release their grip if exposed to fire. 
  2. A Catoblepas - A creature resembling a huge, rotten aurochs with a pendulous neck and stinking, matted fur. Its breath is supposedly fatal, or at least horribly painful, at forty paces. They dislike bright light, which is rarely a problem under the constant fog-cover of the Fens. 
  3. 1d6 Foglings - Strange little spirits that resemble grey, long-limbed, hairless children that sit waist deep in the water, playing childish games with skulls and fingerbones. If you befriend them by winning at their games, they'll follow after you in the fog - clouding your movements from your enemies, and parting it for you at an oppurtune moment. If you anger them, they'll try to drown you by pouring fog into your lungs. 
  4. 1d8 Bonedraggers - Masked and hatted people in overalls, lugging pickaxes and waving pistols. Their 'uniform' is a scrap of black cloth pinned to the shoulder. They're liable to be jumpy, suspicious and really, really excited to not be here. 50% chance they're lugging a huge chunk of cut godbone, upon which they're even more jumpy
  5. 1d12 Swamp Naiads - Translucent, aquatic insects the size of a dog. They bury themselves underwater in shallow mud, then burst out and bite round your ankle, like a chitinous landmine. They never ambush alone, if they can help it. Utterly blind and disturbingly durable.  
  6. A Deathless of Vizkov - An armoured knight, riding a struggling horse through the Fens. They're likely on some important mission. Their cape carries the hexagonal emblem of Vizkov. The horse, beneath the barding, is a zombie, and the knight, beneath the armour, is a ghast, just a well-dressed, perfumed one, with makeup and stitches. 
  7. 1d8 Children of Thulgan - These ghouls lope along on all fours, wearing ragged remnants of clothing. They've clawed away half their own faces, revealing their distended ghoulish fangs. They are liable to greet you politely, call you cousin, then try and eat your entrails. 50% chance they're accompanied by an utterly animalistic ghast they lead on a chain. 
  8. 1d4 Buzzing Things - Venomous, armoured dragonflies the length of a horse. Primary prey of the Skitterjaw, these huge things spend 10 years gestating as Swamp Naiads, before crawling to the top of a godbone spire and molting into a giant, hideous dragonfly. They only live for a year, but in that year, they cause mayhem. They fly faster than a horse, and their long, segmented tails end in a stinger that injects a hallucinogenic poison. 
  9. Toothblood's Thrall - An unfortunate elf, who made the mistake of crossing Toothblood. He wanders the fens, alone, clad in rusting mail, challenging everyone he meets to a duel. His entire head and face have been ripped open by a nesting colony of screw-worms, leaving him blind, but Toothblood's wrath keeps him staggering along. His blood is deadly poison, and the swamp water he dips his blade in before a fight is too. 
  10. A Skitterjaw



“Dragons are Chaos. The scaled terrors represent all in the world that is arrogant, destructive, pagan, primordial, uncontrolled, and detrimental to society and life. All kin to the World Serpent are the same.”

-        Dano Zintana, Cleric of the Triumvirate

Put simply, Dano Zintana is an idiot.

To explain more thoroughly, all Draconic creatures share one origin: the blood of a murdered god called the World Serpent, which spilled across the face of Aclas when the Maker struck him down at the dawn of history.

Those that supped on the heaving rivers of godblood found themselves changed – whales into sea-serpents, songbirds into pseudodragons, and folk into dragonborn - or thus go the myths.

The five eldest True Dragons supposedly pulled themselves free from the Serpent’s corpse, full grown – ravenous Skaelir from the gut, two headed Kythmalus from the eyes, wise Zalarys from the brain, vicious Dastokkar from the liver, and proud, violent Yxamor from the heart.

And surely, all these creatures and more – the drake, the wyvern, every nonsense creature with scales and fiery breath, is chaotic. But dangerous?

Look at the Driggin.

Art by Iguanamouth

Dangerous is, obviously, a stretch.

Nobody can agree on the origins of the Driggin. Most will say dogs, due to the Driggins matching their natural enthusiasm, lovable nature and tendency to get really excited about nothing.

But, the jaw. The massive, impractical mouth. Perhaps the most dangerous looking part, although the lack of leverage or manoeuvrability massive decreases the danger it poses.

Whence doth the Stupid Fucking Jaw originate?

It has no analogue in nature. Thus, the inevitable question arises:

Are the Driggins spontaneous creations, like the great Dragons?

It would certainly be embarrassing for the Dragons. By virtue of size, and, for lack of a better term, originality, they reign supreme over the myriad descendants of the World Serpent. To be upstaged by such a small, stupid, adorable thing would be… unacceptable.

Whichever wizard or naturalist proved it would find themselves firmly on the shit-list of every dragon ever.

As such, research into the Driggin remains a niche topic, to say the least.

Tuesday 10 November 2020

The Phasmovis


There is a reasonable progression to things, say the Corpse-Barons of Cantos.

As new technologies and methods of magic are discovered, new kinds of undead follow in short order.

Fire resulted in the shade, a ghost of ashes.

Ritual desiccation gifted the world the mummy, and rites of ancient binding gave forth the vicious wicht.

It stands to reason, then, that Vis, the fuel of the modern age, should gift us with a new bedevilment of the cold and wayward soul.

The Phasmovis

There have been no deliberately created Phasmovis recorded by history. Necromancy is something of a dying art, considering the fact that it is banned and viciously persecuted pretty much everywhere but Ostow and Cantos.

Natural creation of such a creature, however, comes about when one is killed by Vis. The most common death in this manner is the quick, agonising freeze of being bodily immersed in Vis – like four weeks in the cold plains of the Northern Expanse rushing over you in a second. A leaky pipe or a cracked canister results in a wash of glowing blue. All Phasmovis thus recorded have been workers caught in industrial accidents. 

Vis is not a stable substance. It balances between liquid, gas and pure magic, and is more volatile than all three. The Vis-Explosion is a growing terror on the cities of Aclas, and one which creates Phasmovis in great numbers.

A flash of cyan, a screaming hiss like the gates of hell, then slow, quiet snowfall on a summer’s night.

What does the Phasmovis look like? Well, in the manner of magic, it has become an exaggeration. A frostbitten corpse, often hovering about a hand’s width above the earth, leaking rivulets of Vis and huge clouds of freezing vapour. They rarely speak, but often repeat their final screams of agony.

Bruise-black fingers, crusted in frost, snatch out for warmth and life.

This, but Gorier


  DnD 5e
Medium Undead
AC – 14
HP – 66
SPEED – 20ft. Fly (Hover)
STR – 8 (-1)
DEX – 8 (-1)
CON – 16 (+3)
INT – 10 (+0)
WIS – 14 (+2)
CHA – 12 (+1)
SAVING THROWS – Constitution +6, Wisdom +5
RESISTANCES – Physical, Force
CONDITION IMMUNITIES – Exhausted, Prone, Restrained
SENSES – Darkvision 60ft.
LANGUAGES – Any it spoke in life, although it rarely speaks.
Unstable Vis Reaction – Any source of Vis that a Phasmovis physically touches (such as the Vis inside your autocar engine, your bullets, or the train engine you’re next to) violently explodes. Small sources of Vis (bullets, canisters) deal 1d6 Force Damage in a 5ft. Sphere, no save. Medium sources (Autocars) deal 4d6 in a 20ft. Sphere. Large Sources (Train Engines, Refinery Canisters) deal 10d6 in a 40ft. Sphere. If it hits the mainline of a Refinery, you may as well wave the city goodbye.
Freezing Vapour – Anyone starting their turn within 5ft. of a Phasmovis takes 2d8 Cold Damage.
Rivulets of Vis – The Phasmovis lets of 60ft. of dim light, in a chilling cyan colour.
Chill of Death - The Phasmovis will always move towards sources of warmth hotter than a human body within 60ft. (Such as a torch, a bonfire, or a tiefling). 
 Freezing Grasp – One target within 5ft. must make a DC 15 Strength Save or take 2d8 Cold Damage and have their speed reduced to 0ft. while the Phasmovis is within 15ft.
Scream of Modern Fuel – The Phasmovis screams, and vomits up a stream of glowing Vis in a 30ft. Cone. 3d8 Cold Damage, 3d8 Force Damage, those in the cone can make a DC15 Dex Save to half.

5e Statblocks really are fucking huge aren't they?


Lvl 4 Def Leather Freezing Grasp 1d10 
Move slow hover Con 8 Dis freezing 
Freezing Grasp - Anyone hit by the freezing grasp of the Phasmovis cannot move while it is still nearby. 
Unstable Vis Reaction - Any Vis the Phasmovis touches explodes, dealing 1d6 Damage for small sources, 3d6 for medium, and 6d6 for large ones. 
Scream of Modern Fuel - The Phasmovis can blast everything in front of it with ice-cold Vis, dealing 3d6 Points of damage, Save to half. 

Phasmovis are the screaming terrors that haunt the dreams of the Vis Guild, and that institution will pay handsomely for their destruction.