Sunday 20 November 2022

Listen Closely (Wizard School: The Secretist)


Dispater, the Lord of the Iron City of Dis, is unshakeably convinced that every devil in Hell is out to get him. 

He’s completely correct. 

He can’t trust other devils. At all. First, most of them reside in Dis, and he is the one they have to be rid of to secure promotion. Second, he is the justice of Asmodeus, the judge of Hell. When a devil is punished and demoted, most often he signs the order. The built-up hatred for him across aeons is incalculable. Wizards have found demiplanes forged purely from the hate that exists for Dispater. 

He hides away in his Iron Tower (of subjectively infinite height) and operates a dense network of spies, secret police, propagandists, hell-cops and deniable mercenary groups, desperately clinging to power. He needs agents. And he can’t trust other devils. As it stands, most report to his scribe, Titivilus, instead of him. 

But Dispater has seen deep into the mortal soul. He owns millions of them. He knows the ways they act, the things they want - and, so… better the devil you know? 

Class as per your Favourite Wizard Chassis (Here’s Mine

Starting Equipment: Unremarkable clothing, light pistol, 20 shot and powder, light knife, dose of cyan poison (d10), Green steel mimir, two pieces of Secretist Gear

Perk: Your green steel mimir, beyond containing 10 Psyche Slots, also has access to the personnel files of Hell. Almost every creature of note anywhere has a file. 

Drawback: You need to fill out a report to Dispater and submit it to your mimir once a week. If you fail to do this, your MD only return to your pool on a roll of 1 until you do. Having a lie in your report discovered causes an immediate Doom


  • You have six fake faces stored in a tiny, airless demiplane, and can trade yours out for any of them with a fingersnap. You decide what your fake faces look like.

  • You can become (literally) invisible in a crowd. 

  • You can produce a small flaming sigil in the air, which serves as your Secretist badge. Devils are loath to impede a Secretist about their work (although, loath does not mean totally unwilling.) 


  1. Charm Person

Target creature of [dice]HD or less treats you as a friendly acquaintance for [sum] hours. If you do something a friendly acquaintance really wouldn’t - call them a severely rude name, rob them, shit on their floor - they can save to end the effect. Dealing any damage to them ends the effect automatically. Casting this on yourself cheers you up and banishes intrusive thoughts. 

  1. Invisibility

Target creature, or target object [dice] slots or smaller, becomes unseeable by normal senses for [dice] hours.

  1. Sending

Send a message of [sum] words to someone you are familiar with. The words are spoken into their ear, and they may respond with [dice] words of their own.

  1. Speak with Vermin 

For [sum] hours, you can communicate with rats, bats, bugs, small snakes, foxes, raccoons, jackals, pigeons, etc. You may compel from them [dice] favours. Answering a question is a favour. 

  1. Eavesdrop 

You enchant an object of [dice] slots or smaller, allowing you to hear from it as though it was your ear for [sum] hours. 

  1. Dull Emotions
    [dice] creatures are unable to feel emotions for [sum] hours.  

  1. Broadcast

Target a spherical area [dice] miles in diameter which is at most [sum] miles from you.  Everything in the targeted area hears a message of [sum - 3] words spoken in a low, roaring voice, echoing as though against iron. 

  1. Glyph of Fear

Inscribe a glowing symbol which, when viewed by a creature, forces them to save or be consumed by nameless terror and dread. Can terrify a total of [sum]HD of creatures, those who successfully save are not counted against the total. 

  1. Antipathy/Sympathy 

You infuse a creature or object with an intense feeling of revulsion/attraction, causing all unintelligent creatures, and intelligent creatures with less than [dice]HD, to treat the target as though it were coated in poison and shit/coated in joy, friendship and delicious, delicious cocaine. This lasts for [sum] hours. 

  1. Scrying

Choose a creature (or location) you have met or heard of. An invisible eyeball appears near to the target, observing it and the location they are in. It’s accompanied by an invisible ear that transmits sound to you.  Creatures unwilling to be observed may save to make the image blurry and you unable to hear through the Scry. If you have a body part from a target creature, they cannot save

  1. Arrest

Target creature of [dice]*2 or less HD must save or be pulled to a jail cell in Dis via a roaring interplanar portal. If the creature is wanted by the Nine Hells, they are immediately imprisoned and presumably prepared for a grim fate. Otherwise, they reappear in [sum] rounds, singed and a little beaten up, but mostly unharmed. 

  1. Idea Transfer 

You may transfer the contents of a Psyche Slot from one creature (of [dice]*2 HD or less) you can see to another (also of [dice]*2 HD or less). If either creature is unwilling, it may save, and one successful save prevents the spell from going through.  You can use this to give people your curses, steal peoples’ dreams, inject ideologies, move ideas from one person to another, pull out a friend’s phobia and inflict it on a foe, and so on. 


  1. MD only return to your pool on a roll of 1 for 24 hours. 

  2. Suffer 1d6 nonlethal damage as you accidentally tune to a blaring psychic propaganda broadcast.

  3. Accidentally project your whole head into the fake-face demiplane. Apparently headless for 1d6 rounds, save vs. oxygen deprivation and dizziness. 

  4. Become face-blind for 1d6 hours. 

  5. Swap to one of your fake faces accidentally, but do it wrong - blinded for 1d6 rounds. 

  6. Every intelligent creature within [dice] miles is made aware of your presence via blaring psychic broadcast. 


  1. Your Mission, You Must Accept It…

Dispater’s schemes include you, finally. You’re given the task to defeat and arrest an Osyluth (Bone-Devil) of some importance, in its home District of Dis. 

  1. Growing Suspicion 

A (different, hopefully) Osyluth appears from a portal. It will demand an immediate explanation for something in one of your reports and how your actions assisted the Nine Hells. Failure to satisfy it results in your MD being confiscated for a month. 

  1. Enemy of the State

Dispater turns on you. You know too much. Nine kill-teams of spell-immune Bueroza (Steel Devils) have been dispatched to mangle you severely and return your head to Dispater. They are coming within the next three days.  

You can avoid your Doom by achieving a seat in the City Conseil of Dis, by killing a Demon Lord, by becoming beyond reproach in Hell,  or by getting the single most paranoid living thing (Dispater) to trust you completely. 

Secretist Gear: 

  1. Grey Formal Wear - Precisely cut, iron grey. Not a distinctive piece of apparel at all - could easily allow the wearer to blend into bland high society in almost any place. Takes no slots worn, 1 carried.  

  2. Canesword - Sneaky medium weapon. Your choice of ruby, topaz or emerald in the hilt. 2 slots. 

  3. Brick from Dis - A full slot of grey iron from a building in Dis. Why the hell do you have this, again? A light bludgeoning weapon, for when things get uncivilised. 

  4. Propaganda Posters - A full slot. Carry pro-Nine-Hells messages like ORDER IS WORTH ANY COST, WHO STANDS AGAINST CHAOS?, WE REWARD THOSE DESERVING OF MERIT and THE UNIVERSE NEEDS YOU TO ENLIST IN THE BLOOD WAR. You are not immune to propaganda. Clearly. 

  5. Velvet Gloves - Classy, innit? Good for disguising an iron fist. 

  6. Invulnérable Justaucorps - A justaucorps coat that is, as it says on the tin, invulnérable. Conveys +1 AC and stops you from getting shanked with light knives. For medium blades and heavier, just turns the slashing damage into bludgeoning force for the same damage. Bullets still hurt, but at least they won’t get embedded in you. The coat’s invulnerable, you aren’t. 

  7. Iron Rod - 2 slots. Has a wrist loop. A decent truncheon - and also, anything you strike with it can be seen by Dispater, at least briefly. 

  8. Cheater’s Coin - A coin that, when flipped, comes up with any result you desire. Not limited to Eyes and Heads (the two sides of a Hellmark), you can also do Angels, Kings, Pilgrims, Sheep, whatever you like. 

  9. Grey Gin - Cosmic order in a bottle. So claims the label. Makes the drinker immune to mishaps (but not dooms) for an hour. And is also alcoholic. 5 doses in a 1 slot bottle. 

  10. Smoke Bomb - Disguised as a bottle of wine. Fuse can be set for up to 10 rounds. When it explodes, it  produces a massive cloud of thick smoke. The smoke lasts for an hour, or a minute in high wind. Anyone holding it when it goes off takes 1d6 damage. 

  11. Bear Grease Pomade - A thick, waxy substance made from bears. Used to style hairs and grease mechanisms. 1 Slot in a steel tin. 

  12. 5d6 Hellmarks - Nonagonal rosegold coins marked with nine Asmodean eyes. Worth double value when used as currency in the Nine Hells.

  13. Safe Gun - Looks and sounds exactly like a medium musket, except if it kills someone, they’re instead placed in a deathlike sleep for 1 day, then are healed for 1d6

  14. Really Loud Boots - Boots which, when you walk with them, make incredibly loud, echoing footsteps. Ominous! 1 Slot when carried. 

  15. Comically Evil Bat - A very litl bat who wants to do serious harm to the universe at large. Understands your words and obeys your orders, unless you help people for free, or try and save the world, then it bites you for 0.1 damage and laughs (ee ee ee). Can carry-coin sized objects. 

  16. Demonteeth Grenade - A grey iron sphere stuffed full of crawling Tanar’ric teeth. Deals 3d6 damage in a 30’ sphere, save for half, and has a 1-in-6 chance of inflicting a demonic infection (which is like cancer, but the cancer can think and hates your fucking guts). Even Devils hate these things. 

  17. Deed to a House in Dis - In one of the districts where mortals aren’t flayed or eaten on sight. Three floors, shelled in hot iron, fire-proof, water-proof, allegedly demon-proof, equipped with a damned butler who explodes if he tries to leave the building. 

  18. Blinkcatcher - As a mancatcher, but, enchantments on the catching ring prevent caught creatures from teleporting. 3 Slots. 

  19. Stunning Powder - Three doses. Creatures which breathe must save or be stunned for a round if this is thrown in their face. Flammable. 1 Slot. 

  20. A Curio!

    1. Pain Gun - As a light pistol, but you load divorce papers and passports and fire agony

    2. Lingering Memory - Fills a Psyche Slot. The shadow of a face, half-forgotten. You were somebody else, before this. Gain a Mark whenever you chase the identity of your lost self. 

    3. Advespa Egg - A black egg about the size of a (real) football. Takes up 2 slots. When soaked in a mixture of alcohol and blood, it hatches over the course of an hour into a giant 6HD wasp-devil-thing with a severe hatred for everything alive and a giant fucking stinger. 

    4. The Right Bullets - Six green steel bullets which individually have +6 to hit. There’s a 1-in-[remaining bullets] chance a shot flies where Dispater directs it, regardless of where you pointed the gun. Once Dispater's shot has been fired, the rest are yours.

    5. Cursed Beetroot Kvass - Whoever drinks it is cursed to 4d4 years of intestinal problems. One dose. Considered in poor taste. 1 slot.

    6. Deck of Mefianté Cards - An imposter version of a popular fortune-telling-card deck. Contains 54 cards, with such standouts as The Two-Headed SnakeThe Violence, The Pursuer, The Flames, The Honest Soul, and The Secretist (shows your seven faces in perfect detail).  Without fail, predicts ill fate. May well cause ill fate. 

Friday 18 November 2022

The Tapestry of the Firmament

Yet a few days, and thee
The all-beholding Sun shall see no more
In all her course; nor yet in the cold ground,
Where thy pale form was laid, with many tears,
Nor in the embrace of Ocean,
shall exist thy image.



Viradon’s Tower, at the Fall of the River Vir, is often called the False Tower - in contrast to the White Tower and the Black Tower. A fifty-floor construction which stands alone on a spur of jagged rock near the World’s Edge. The place is heavily guarded by a detachment of the Solar Army, but, in this time of Civil War, more and more troops are funnelled away to the front line.

What lies within? Well, surely the Charters know, they’ve been picking at the construction and carting away wagons full of unmarked boxes for years.

Surely? What within the tower could stymie the full attention of the King?



The great fortress of the Coin Knights, Ardrang, lies a few leagues north-east of the city of Madrevel, in the Duchy of Defiance. Vast towers, a foundry fit to equip an army, a feasting hall second only to the one in Surang far to the south.

It is built atop a massive stone sphere. Some call it the Child Moon, the locals have called it the Egg of God. Whispers say the cellars fall all the way into the depths of the sphere itself. What could be down there?

Rumour says the Robber-Knights have retaken the castle, in recent months.



In the depths of the Void, it is very easy to hide. Nobody can see you.


Iron Scribes say…
“The universe, the whole mass of things that are, is corporeal, that is to say, body, and hath the dimensions of magnitude, length, breadth and depth. Every part of the universe is ‘body’ and that which is not ‘body’ is no part of the universe, and because the universe is all, that which is no part of it is Nothing, and consequently Nowhere.”

The symbol of the Iron Scribes is the Sword-sans-point, a symbol of contested meaning - does it represent the lost freedom of the people under tyranny? The ultimate futility of violence? The need for a blade to secure a covenant? The fate of those who oppose the Iron Scribes?

Iron Scribes say…
“Fear of things invisible is the natural seed of that which all calleth religion.”

Iron Scripture is not necessarily illegal magic, but the literacy that goes hand in hand with it is. There are a few collaborating Iron Scribes who use their magic for the King in exchange for leniency in the case of their literacy. These collaborators with the King and the Chantry are derisively called Tin Scribes by their defiant ex-fellows.

The origin of Iron Scripture is not known.



This man, he is neither wise nor foolish, but a secret third thing.

This man, he does not die for king or country, but a secret third thing.

This man, he sees neither light nor darkness, but a secret third thing.


Chapter 1 of the Knightly Matters (Summary)

It opens (pictographically, as this popular tale is rarely recorded in writing) on the Siege of Vel Index, where the Nameless Knight arrives astride his monstrous horse, Baligant. At this time in the story, he is the only Knight of any note in the land - symbolised by his riding alone in the circle of the setting sun.

The siege goes poorly. The city sits on a high mount in the Sunan Hills, which divide the Torni Plain from the lands of the Hanchen. It was designed to be unassailable by master architects in ancient time. A bandit army, former mercenaries unpaid by the Duke of Draad, have seized the city’s walls, and are holding the people as hostages in order to extract that which they are owed.

The Knight disguises himself as a washer and Baligant as his old mule, ignoring the squabbling generals carrying out the siege. They crawl up the drain where the Pointera, a tributary of the River Shay, flows out from the high city.

He makes his way quietly through the city, noticed by none - despite his plate mail. The disguise must’ve been damn good.

When he reaches the old bastion, he throws off his disguise and sets about the mercenaries, cutting off hands and heads in precise revenge for the crimes he has witnessed them enact on the people of Vel Index. Those who have left the people alone are left with sundered shields and sore heads - but with no blood spilled.

As battle continues, he meets the first of many duelling opponents mentioned in the Knightly Matters, Red Haired Hua, the captain of the ex-mercenaries. Hua begins a prepared speech - which is interrupted terminally by the sudden stroke of the Knight’s halberd.

The final violence ensues, and the Knight leaves through the Eagle Gate of Vel Index as the Sun sets, cleaning blood from his armour - and picking bones from the fangs of his horse.

He leaves Vel Index, awe in his wake, riding towards the rising moon - to later meet his first Squire, Saeraath.


Has the dawn ever seen your eyes?
Have the days made you so unwise?
Realise, you are

Had you talked to the winds of time
Then you'd know how the waters rhyme
Taste of wine

How can you know where you've been?
In time you'll see the sign
And realise your sin.


The Solar Chantry is the state religion of the Kingdom. It is a religion which contains nothing salvific, nothing which could lift the spirit or reinvigorate the soul, but one which portrays human existence as a constant struggle, a delicate balancing act - painting the iron grip of the king as less a gauntlet crushing the windpipe, and more a steering hand upon the reins.

The King is regarded not as a god, but as an intercessor with the ever-present and ever-dangerous Cosmos.

The hoi polloi of the World Above believe that the mad dancers of the Moon are always seeking access to their dreams, the tyrannical princes of the Sun watch from dawn to dusk, that the ghosts of the Void lurk in every shadow, and that every engineer, alchemist, or doctor not in the King’s direct employ must derive their education from the callous nobility of the Stars. As such, in the common belief, however bad the King and his rule may become - the alternative is worse.


The symbol of the Law Scribes is the Fourfold Square, which is said to represent the robust construction of the world and the successive layers of existence.

Law Scribes are said to believe that God, or, the Demiurge, or, All Truth Absolute, has abandoned the world, left the throne, discarded their crown, let their sceptre fall and break against the stone, and so on. They can’t agree on why - the main theories are Disgust at Humanity, that they were Pulled to a Greater Calling, or that They Left Simply to Rest. No Law Scribe believes that God is dead - although some believe they are a bastard.

Law Scribes say…
“The title of ruler of all is not one easily filled. It hangs loose about the usurper, like the robe of a giant around the frame of a mere man.”


How to describe sacred steel? As blue as the thunderbolt, white as the pure snow, black as the soil, and grey as the morning fog.


Vassari in Action.
You can tell it's her because of the rapier.


….the Yliaster represented the two basic compounds of the cosmos, matter representing "below", and the stars representing "above".


Ceremtis is where the method of making silk was discovered and originated. Cerem was its own kingdom, for a few brief moments in time. They once had a festival where chosen people (always married and older than fifty years) went from home to home wearing a black silk pall and a horse’s skull on their head, demanding to know “has the hour come? Has the hour come? Give me booze and I’ll go away.”

Alas, the Sun King banned this charming tradition about fifty years ago, after hearing reports of it became intolerable to him.


I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air.


It's a privelige afforded to the larger cities, to organise their own Night Watches.
Everywhere else, it's the King's Solar Army


The Branch Merchants, a group of itinerant Kelkoran cultists who wear green veils and chains of gold amulets. They sell medicines, pest-poisons and emetic concoctions, providing aid in both medical crises and pest infestations. They worship a goddess of overspilling life called Hi-na. The Sun King has banned them, but they never seem to end up caught for long.


One Within, One Beyond

One Mostly Dead, One Nearly Alive

One Above, One Below

One Calling Out, One Silent Evermore



The old Kelkoran Empire was made up of Banners, which represented clans, nomadic groups, areas of land or mercenary factions. Supposedly, there were over three thousand Banners.

In theory, they are now forbidden by the Sun King. In practice, they still fly over the labyrinth vales.


Tome Scribes say….
“By His order bodies are produced; His order cannot be described. By His order souls are infused into them; by His order greatness is obtained. By His order people are made high or made low; by His order they obtain preordained pain or pleasure.”


For the entirety of known history, the King has sent soldiers to search for something in the valley of Madrevel, in Defiance. It is the best mapped valley in the entire world. The soldiers were never allowed to know for what they searched.


There are two true towers upon the disk of the World Above. Each is at least a hundred floors tall, and ends in a point.

Sar Arum is the Black Tower, in Arumell. It rises high above the woods and the capital of Chelborc. Once, the entrances were sealed with rubble from the ruined fortress of Uxt, and all the doors had molten lead poured over them to block them by Signatories, but since the rebellion, enterprising souls have torn down the seals and begun to explore the lower towers, hauling out strange treasures built for giants, slick statuettes of black stone depicting men and women with fish-like forms, the seeds of blood red trees, and strange things besides.

Sar Isad is the White Tower, in Draad. It rises high above the roofs of the Great City of Dramyth (sometimes poetically called Vel Isad). The entrances to it are supposedly well-guarded, but there are whispers of criminals breaking in through underground cellars to store their ill-gotten gains inside the great tower itself. There are just as many rumours of bloody bodies being flung from the eightieth floor with no eyes or teeth - but the Duke’s Grand Guard and the Solar Army cover up these incidents quickly, if they do occur.



Dream Scribes say…
“And this they will play until the serpent arises to rebuke them, saying: "What do ye, playing with stars and fates, and life and death?" And they shall be ashamed of their playing in the hour of the laughter of the serpent.”


In outer Zzargod, where the forests end in the County of Reneth, there are huge caverns that bubble and boil from some distant steam, vomiting huge amounts of heat and streams of boiling water. It’s a popular resort destination for the wealthy, but many have gone missing in the Kettle Caverns, and in recent years, increasing numbers of massive, blind, albino snakes have slithered out from the depths.


In inner Zzargod, on the coast of the Sea of Vir, there’s a place where the soil is chalky and grey and no living things can grow. Some people say they’ve seen the ruins of a huge old city inside the ring of hills. But the howls and the screams of pain have turned back prospective explorers thus far.



The Province of Winter in Outer Magnos is called such for there it is always winter. Few reside there - the cold is miserable - but those who do guard their secrets and their land jealously. They are stereotyped by the rest of Magnos as hard-as-nails bastard insane motherfuckers, a reputation that many enjoy cultivating.


The Skull Scribes and their Caput Mortuum - worthless remains.

Rot is a process. Processes require inputs and have results, so they say.

The world was born from the decay of EMPTY LIES UNDONE, or God. All corpses bloom.

Bones beget nothing.

All of the profitable rot has happened, in royal society. All the ideas and peoples which can be extracted from this controlled collapse are here. Either, we must crack the bones for access to the marrow, or bury this time and provide a new order, for which to slowly fall apart into lush and fertile chaos.


Before the invention of mechanical clocks (in Tackelm, in Arumell) the people of the World Above mostly used incense clocks to tell the time.



For a true Giant, the form of the earth is no impediment. Their might is unparalleled. Few stories of them have reached back Above, but all are spoken in a voice that shakes with terror and awe.


Fear the Manticore, the idea which kills Scribes.


Outer Zzargod looks like this.


The ravenous bats of the void - bad souls cursed to eternal hunger which sweep the battlefields at night, looking for the abandoned wounded.


A bishop rings a bell
A cloak of darkness fell across the ground
Without a sound


They say the King wields a sword too - the blade: ULTIMA RATIO REGIS.


Behold, I saw a horse, pale greenish grey. The name of the one riding on it was Death, and Oth was following him. Authority was given to him over a fourth of the earth, to kill by sword and by famine and by plague - and by the wild beasts of the earth.