Thursday, December 26, 2019

On the nature of things: what they are and why

Stone is the basic form of existence. It is hardy, colorless, and heavy, generally unmoving when left to its own devices. Color is what turns stone into other things, granting it growth, motion, reaction and other things, often at the cost of its immutability. The four colors infused purely into stone cause it to become either natural fire (orange), ice which melts into water (green), lightning (indigo), or oil (yellow). The art of sorcery is generally the manipulation of these colors, not necessarily the elements themselves, and often the more purely distilled the color is the harder it becomes to truly control. Lightning is an exception here, as its indigo power is rarely ever diluted and so there is much knowledge on manipulating it in that purest form.

Material studies by Torsten Gunst

Dread illusionists, the arcane deceivers, manipulate the image without touching the material at its core, controlling the color without the 'stone' as it were. This power is profane and can only lead to ruin.

Where color determines the properties of a substance, spirit is the form of it. Most materials have no spirit, and can thus be reshaped freely without losing their properties (it has been discovered that almost everything does in fact have a spirit, though it is usually quite rudimentary. The spirit of crystal, for instance, may be that it persists only in hexagonal patterns, an extremely simple spiritual form). Plants have slightly more defined spirits, and animals even moreso. Most animal species share a spirit with their kin, including humans, though the soul has a strong tendency to impact the spiritual form.

A soul is simply a more advanced, particular extension of the spirit, which is so developed only in humans and other thinking beings. Because of the unique and advanced ways it can develope, generally no two souls are alike, and this can have an impact upon the prospective spirits, often turning a human spirit into that person's spirit, a subtle but important distinction for those who practice shifting arts. It may be noted that animals cannot be cursed, and this is a simple product of their having no soul; a curse is a wound upon the soul, as much as any cut or bruise upon the flesh. Minor curses can be healed with mild bed rest, as they are shallow cuts and scrapes on the soul. Deeper, more powerful curses require careful, lengthy processes of healing. The holy powers of saints utilize this process, pulling spiritual energy into their soul and tearing away bits of it in order to grant that energy to their allies, and more experienced saints can even learn to utilize these rends in their soul offensively, attacking the souls or even the flesh of enemies.

The summoning sisters by Antoine Collignon

Much study has been done with regards to silver and the functions of undeath. It is clear that the undead are similar to the living afflicted with a curse, as can be seen with vampires, who were long considered undead despite often suffering no death between humanity and monstrousness. It is now consensus that undead are given malformed souls that eat away their spirit, granting something that is almost life but often far more finite. On the other hand, many cases of immortality are reached through undeath, perhaps with souls that are reinforced using parts of the spirit, malforming the body but keeping the mind alive indefinitely? Regardless this is perverse and unnatural, and no further writing should be done upon the subject.

Similar to undead, artificial souls are created when a golem is animated. Imprinting the holy word upon a tool forms a unique embossing of the creator's soul upon the spirit of the tool, which must have originally been crafted with intent. Naturally occurring objects can be used as tools physically, but they have no spirit for it and reject the artificial soul. Because of this, some claim that golemology is a darker, more unnatural art than necromancy, and will one day destroy us all! This is preposterous, golems are quite useful and docile, and have never destroyed anyone when used properly. It is possible that a fusion of necromantic and golemary arts could yield a living golem, capable of creating more of its kind... but this strays too far from the known and established.

Household Golems by Ben Wanat

Of course these findings are irrefutably true and thoroughly proven through rigorous testing. Any wishing to dispute or disprove this work may find their way best to a tavern, where they shall engage in discourse with any drink of their choosing.

Monday, December 23, 2019

Blood spilled

  1. Hardens into the beginnings of a cathedral or bridge.
  2. Sprouts into brightly colored flowers with black stems.
  3. Shows an uncannily perfect reflection along its surface.
  4. Hangs in the air, jagged and motionless as it sprayed.
  5. Drifts in the air, gently bubbling and floating upward.
  6. Squirms and crawls away in every direction like worms.
  7. Draws together and swells upward into orbs.
  8. Sways along with your own motions.
  9. Ripples unnaturally, with strange spikes and patterns.
  10. Shimmers with milky rainbows like oil.
  11. Dries quickly into crimson ash, clumping into itself.
  12. Reaches out with numerous tiny hands.
  13. Opens eyes that watch the fight proceed.
  14. Swirls around as though building toward a whirlpool.
  15. Sinks into the ground, absorbed unnaturally fast.
  16. Falls into a pattern like letters, completely unintelligible.
  17. Shimmers with subtle internal light.
  18. Casts a long shadow as if it were much taller.
  19. Lands in a grid pattern of perfect squares.
  20. Whispers loudly, but cannot be understood.

Creeptober Day 29 : Blood - The Bake-Kujira's Curse by James Gowing

Working on a much larger post, probably going to try and write larger, more elaborate posts that will take longer.

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Magical Beasts

Most of these are drawn from Greek mythology, though there is inspiration drawn from other locales such as the Qilin, a Chinese creature.

Legendary beasts with mystical traits and abilities, they are often too powerful for regular hunters to capture, but can be butchered by victorious warriors for useful materials. Most have unique spirits so powerful they are almost like unto souls themselves, which makes them confounding for a witch's powers, and causes their corporeal flesh to erupt in blue sparks when struck with bronze.


HD: 4
Found: solitary in an abandoned island temple

Appearance: as a woman with scaled skin and venomous serpents where should be hair. None have seen her face and lived to describe it.
Voice: soft, lamenting
Wants: beauty and isolation
Tactics: careful, defensive

Attack: +2
Defense: +3
Speed: +1

  1. Cursed visage: any who look upon her face must make a magic save or be frozen in stone, as well as mirrors which reflect her image.
  2. Snake bites: light damage plus poison.
  3. Claws: light damage, instantly destroys stone.
The gorgon's head can be wielded once slain, to petrify enemies with a magic check.

Medusa by Amir Briki


HD: 3
Found: 1d6 in swamps near roads

Appearance: as a small beaked dragon with a feathered neck and birdlike legs. The beak glints with a dull shine of magic, and its eyes are deep with malice.
Voice: cawing but with a hint of gargle, trailing into a hiss.
Wants: to protect toads and kill basilisks
Tactics: aggressive and repetitive

Attack: +1
Defense: +2

  1. Petrifying peck: normal damage, gradual petrification. Magic save negates, on three failed saves target turns to stone.
  2. Claws: light damage.
Cockatrice beaks are highly valuable to alchemists, and could perhaps be fashioned into a spearhead by a very careful weaponsmith.


HD: 5
Found: solitary in a petrified village, coiled around a heap of eggs

Appearance: six-legged lizard crowned with a web of horns and glaring hatefully.
Voice: low hissing, imperious and threatening
Wants: to rule all reptiles
Tactics: careful

Attack: +2
Defense: +3
Speed: +1

  1. Deathly gaze: once per round the basilisk can look at a target and wound them if they fail a magic save.
  2. Bite: medium damage.
Basilisk eyes are highly treasured but caustic items, and the horns make excellent decoration for their resemblance to a crown.

Legends Beast: The Basilisk by Sean Bricknell


HD: 2
Found: solitary on plains, near poisonous plants

Appearance: an unhealthy but not starving bovine, with a large downward pointed head and long thin neck, its swollen purple tongue briefly visible as it grazes.
Voice: rasping moo
Wants: poisonous plants to eat, soft places to rest
Tactics: slightly passive

Attack: +1
Defense: +1
Speed: -5

  1. Petrifying breath: once per day, hits everyone in a melee the catoblepas isn't in, or one target it's fighting. Paralyzes all targets for 1d6 rounds, strength save negates.
  2. Head slam: heavy damage to prone targets.
Somber creatures, they are not overly violent but will defend themselves as any beast would. They are immune to any poison ingested, and in fact delight in such activities. Catoblepas skulls can be valuable as a novelty for their distinctive size and weight, but their saliva is a potent paralyzing agent, and the stomachs and tongues are of great use to alchemists.


HD: 1
Found: 2d6 along forest roads near cities

Appearance: small feminine torso and head with birdlike wings and legs.
Voice: shrill and demanding, unintelligent
Wants: to steal food and sparkling valuables
Tactics: cowardly

Attack: +1
Defense: +3
Speed: +4


  1. Claw swipe: either to steal food or attack for light damage. Mostly to steal food.
  2. Regurgitate: any poison or dangerous objects they have eaten can be spat back as a breath weapon. Generally light damage, agility save for half.
Harpy stomachs can be useful to alchemists, and the feathers are large and beautiful.


HD: 6
Found: solitary in an enchanted garden

Appearance: many (1d6) serpentine heads sprouting from a corpulent reptile body.
Voice: hissing
Tactics: protective but aggressive

Attack: +2
Defense: +2
Speed: -3


  1. Bite: medium damage plus poison.
  2. Regeneration: each head has 6 vigor. When severed, it will regrow two more heads, taking half as much vigor from the body. If the body is killed by regrowing heads, they crawl away as giant serpents, hoping to regrow as new hydras.

Hydra by Markus Neidel

Nemean lion

HD: 5
Found: solitary in a cave with two entrances

Appearance: an unusually large lion with shimmering golden fur and gleaming claws.
Voice: ringing roar
Wants: to eat humans, destroy steel works
Tactics: highly aggressive

Attack: +2
Defense: +1
Speed: +3


  1. Claws: medium damage, armor piercing 3.
  2. Bite: heavy damage.
  3. Invulnerable pelt: completely prevents damage from cuts, reduces damage from stabs to 1, and reduces damage from strikes by 1.


HD: 6
Found: 1d6 near ancient castles

Appearance: quadrupedal scaled creature with a broad, benevolent face, hooved feat, and softly glowing antlers, with sparks of flame flickering around it.
Voice: soft and gentle but impossible to ignore.
Wants: justice and peace
Tactics: well considered

Attack: +4
Defense: +2
Speed: +6


  1. Antlers: light damage plus fire damage if it has judged the target as wicked.
  2. Bite: medium damage.
  3. Flame of justice: tongues of flame whip around its body, dealing heavy fire damage. Will save negates.
Divine creatures which are light as a feather, and filled with a soft divine light. They can create and control flames near their body, and can surround themselves with this heat to rise in the air. Whenever struck with a melee weapon, they are flung out of combat as if they had successfully retreated. Their antlers and scales are very valuable on the black market if you can collect them, and their lungs can be used to make bellows that create flame, or a sack full of fire.

Qilin by Katie Langford


HD: 8
Found: unique at the top of a mountain

Appearance: a wolf-headed dragon with claws like a lion.
Voice: loud and intimidating, but caring
Wants: to protect the abandoned, eat elephants
Tactics: well considered

Attack: +3
Defense: +4
Speed: +3


  1. Bite: medium damage. If the target fails a strength save, they are gripped in its jaws and take 2d6 damage each round until they escape.
  2. Claws: heavy damage.
  3. Plumage signal: the simorgh knows whenever one of its feathers are burned, and flies there immediately to assist anyone it has gifted a feather to.

Zal and the simurgh by Clara TESSIER

Saturday, December 14, 2019

Drunken Adventuring

Alcohol is important in adventuring. It's a tough life, it's not a normal job, and it's incredibly dangerous. Characters can take a drink on their turn to restore 1d6 vigor. Every five drinks their drunkenness increases, to tipsy, then drunk, then smashed. Each level incurs a cumulative -1 to attack and defense, and the character will black out 1d6 rounds after getting smashed, followed by rolling on a carousing table at GM's discretion.

This was the main hero image to showcase all of the different glasses in one shot.
Bone Wine by Mary Williams

A bottle or mug of low alcohol or a shot of liquor is one drink. Characters can drink about a bottle or five shots worth in a round.

Midnight vodka: fermented of the star potatoes in a strange icy land, the fluid is inky dark, with twinkling motes of light floating within.
Blood ale:
Lamping whiskey: somewhat bland liquor that can be used as lamp oil if necessary.
Spider's wine: fermented from bodies of insects in Tarix. To some it is particularly delicious, to others deadly.
Grenbiir: fermented of a particular grain, it only comes from Drumbin and is unpopular elsewhere. They also produce green bread, which outsiders often think is disgusting.
Gonne tea: a strange kind of wine from far off lands that is said to 'kick like a crossbow.'
Goblin blood: extremely sour ale that is widely derided, but some claim it is an acquired taste.

flat diffuse to amuse
Hand study by miki bencz

Many thanks to Sam, Wisteria, and my sweetheart Jack Tatters for some much-needed information about alcohol! These rules were much sloppier and dumber before their help.

Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Animal Companions

In Skies Below, no classes get animal companions, even though many people love pets. This is because I want animal companions to be separate from class, something the player can focus on or neglect as they wish! Players can buy or befriend animals, or try to tame one for themselves. As the animal levels up, they'll gain a better connection to the owner, and more ability to act with the party.

There are six general 'classes' of animal companions. Each companion can only have one class, but maybe they can take a level from two if it could logically work. It's only possible to command one animal in a given combat encounter, or else it becomes too confusing to command them properly.

Attack beasts deal light damage unless equipped with a specialized weapon, and hunting birds deal damage as unarmed. Mounts and beasts of burden have ten inventory slots, pets and attack beasts have 5, and hunting or messenger birds have 1. They have 1 vigor at level 0, plus 1d6 for each level. It costs 100 exp to reach level 1, and 200 to reach level 2. I use Skerples price list for buying tame animals (found here: ). Currently I don't have any system for taming a wild animal, preferring to run that through roleplay.

These should be used as a baseline rather than absolute RAW. For example, if a player buys a warhorse rather than a normal riding horse, it could have higher vigor or the ability to attack. On the other hand if they buy a noble horse of fine breed, it could have more speed. Something else to consider is Awakening, as that would pretty fundamentally alter how people can interact with the animal.


Examples: rouncey horse, Eland antelope, deep gecko, Gombian ostrich, , pebbled rhino
Stat bonus: +1 speed
Level 1: passenger, signal
Level 2: steady on, unposted
  • Passenger: able to carry one adult or two children, in addition to the rider.
  • Signal: whistle, call out, or make another distinct, loud noise to call upon the mount from anywhere, as long as it can hear.
  • Steady on: when the mount is startled, the rider can make a will save to calm it down quickly.
  • Unposted: the rider can command the mount to wait for them, and it will stay where it is until it either hears the signal, the rider commands it again, or immediate danger appears.

Substrata Mounts by Darren Bartley - fightPUNCH

Attack beast

Examples: mastiff, ivory tiger, komodo drake, sawbeak goose, sheepspider, pond hippo
Stat bonus: +1 attack
Level 1: battle training, fetch
Level 2: vicious training
  • Battle training: able to enter a feint stance.
  • Fetch: able to grab and return with small items when directed properly.
  • Vicious training: deals medium damage, and can fight effectively while wearing custom armor.


Examples: shepherd dog, Abyssinian cat, rosy boa, Maran hen, puffbeetle, iron rat
Stat bonus: +1 vigor
Level 1: fetch, an understanding
Level 2: tracker, copycat
  • Fetch: able to grab and return with small items when directed properly.
  • An understanding: the pet and master have a unique understanding, and can communicate clearly at a rate of about one word per round.
  • Tracker: a well trained pet can track a scent for nearly any distance, anywhere (except through water or an extremely pungent area), and can sniff out magic or invisible creatures.
  • Copycat: once per day, the pet can borrow a skill from the master, including skill stars.

Tavias kid by Alexander Nanitchkov

Beast of burden

Examples: mule, ox, mountain toad, oak owl, trench slug, wagon crab
Stat bonus: +2 vigor
Level 1: saddlebags
Level 2: stubborn strength, unmoved
  • Saddlebags: able to carry +10 inventory worth of items as long as it doesn't have to move quickly.
  • Stubborn strength: able to make strength checks with 16 strength outside of combat.
  • Unmoved: for one round per day, the beast of burden can be given a command which it always ignores, becoming immovable for one round.

Hunting bird

Examples: falcon, killer bat, minidactyl, salt glider, ripper cricket, blood hornet
Stat bonus: +1 armor piercing
Level 1: fetch, bird of prey
Level 2: distraction
  • Fetch: able to grab and return with small items when directed properly.
  • Bird of prey: once per day while travelling the wilderness, a hunting bird may be sent out to catch small game and return with it, providing a ration.
  • Distraction: grants +1 armor piercing to the master's attack when they target the same foe.

Nomad Hawk Master by Kaz Foxsen

Messenger bird

Examples: dove, spotted raven, cloud serpent, courier flea, moon squirrel, leaf bat
Stat bonus: +1 destination
Level 1: fetch,
Level 2: signal, carrier

  • Fetch: able to grab and return with small items when directed properly.
  • Signal: when the master whistles, calls out, or makes some other loud predetermined signal, the messenger bird can hear and return no matter where it is.
  • Carrier: +1 inventory slot.

Saturday, December 7, 2019

Monster generators

Some monster generating buttons, simple but fun random monsters. The elemental one indicates a broad sense of how powerful it is, but you should feel free to modify any and all details to suit your needs.

Chimera, or just a very general animal hybrid monster generator

The Roam - Semargl, Pilgrim's Companion by Timur Kvasov


Token - Elemental by Svetlin Velinov

Aberration, alien, outsider, or any other bizarre creatures when you really want something freaky. In my game system these are conjured by the Summoner.

Ancient by Ryan Barry

These generators were made using Spwack's 'Automatic List to HTML Translator - Version 2' on Meandering Banter. Check it out and make your own magic buttons right here:

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Most slimes can be identified by their jagged-edged, misshapen appearance and oozing movements, as well as their attraction to breads and fruits. They can even be briefly subdued by pure sugar, which can make it seem as though they have been glued to the ground as they suck it from the grass and dirt. On the other hand, they are usually repelled by strong liquor. Most slimes are differentiated by their color and the bits floating throughout their mass, as these tend to be adapted to and from their environment, respectively.

Like this but the size of a person

The most well known variety are rot slimes, sickly greenish brown with bones and flecks of meat floating within, residing deep in abandoned crypts and ancient sewers. They are known for the way they clash with adventurers, though for most humans they will likely never see one. One of their signature abilities is the way they 'spit' poisonous spray at living creatures. A few who have encountered them will tell of their predilection for rotting meat, and how one can resist their poison more easily if drunk.

Somewhat more of a pressing danger for average folk are rivers slimes, which make their homes on the banks of clear rivers, as one might expect. They are light blue and full of smooth stones but tend to blend in with the flowing water, hiding in wait of animals approaching to drink. Of little threat unless of course, one was simply out washing clothes or fetching water, in places they inhabit people know to keep a pouch of sugar or a jar of syrup with them to distract any slime they might face.

Perhaps more common than river slimes, but much less often encountered, are the vaporous cloud slimes. Their forms usually appear fluffy, despite their sticky, corrosive nature. They are unique in that they float high in the sky nearly all of the time, especially around storms as they await a lightning strike. They feed off of birds and lightning, retaining a charge for many days after being struck as they slowly absorb the energy from it.

Cloud Slime by Me, using Deep Dream

More of an actual danger to society, swamp slimes have deep green bodies covered in hairy algae, with flecks of rusty ore suspended within. They are a danger to bog miners, often attracted to campfires or torches and approaching silently until suddenly a poor worker finds themselves being eaten. Nearly all who go into the bog in search of iron go with a pouch of sugar and a pouch of lye (or at the very least a bar of cheap soap), just in case.

Deep underground are molten, red hot blobs thought to be a type of magma slime. Little is known about them as they are hardly ever encountered by humans, but they exist closer to the surface near volcanoes, and some say they tend to carry gems and metals within their scalding mass.

Lava Slime
Lava Slime by Richard Bogmar

There is tell of a great honey pool that once existed in the Great Hive. One day the honey itself heaved and sloughed up out of the pool, attacking workers and drones until it was finally stopped by an apian hero using a weapon blessed with lightning. Needless to say the honey pool was no longer considered safe, and the bees no longer keep honey in this way.

Slimes are of course mindless, but on very rare occasions one will accidentally consume a source of magic, be it a brittle artifact, magic scroll, or particularly careless wizard, and become itself infused with magical charge. For some reason yet unknown, this rearranges the thing's body into a cubic, crystalline structure that is nonetheless still gelatinous, with motes of misty light swimming within. Alchemists are eager for the flesh of these, and will pay well for it, though they demand it be completely unsullied by dirt or detritus.

Gelatinous Cube by Jose Oliva

Each round roll 1d6 for the slime's pseudopodia shape:
  1. Polypodial: many medium-sized extrusions which the body flows into and between.
  2. Monopodial: one large extrusion that the body shifts into.
  3. Lobose: small bumpy reaches that overlap and absorb each other.
  4. Conical: broad, medium extrusions that expand in an almost fractal pattern.
  5. Reticulose: branching, unnervingly similar to tree branches.
  6. Actinopods: spikes that jut out and expand horizontally.

Friday, November 29, 2019

Blog update

Mostly I just want to draw your attention to the new buttons on the sidebar, just under that 'about me' section! I'll also add them to this post, for mobile users. Also added a tag list, links to my favorite blogs and Patreon, a search bar, and a few other things. Thanks for your time!

Generates a new character with appearance, personality, and backstory. Doesn't add stats, so you should be able to use them for any game in a medieval fantasy setting with a good amount of flexibility:

Nonmagical but unique weapon. They should be fairly plausible and usually practical, but may end up pretty out there:

Potion generator, mostly for the GM but hopefully it'll be fun for players too. These potions are temporary buff types, maybe I'll add permanent ones and downsides later on:

These buttons were made using a tool built by Spwack at Meandering Banter. Check it out here:

Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Special elementals

Jittering sulfur

HD: 1
Found: 1d6 near hot springs

Appearance: a rough, flaking ball of yellow powdery stone, with spindly limbs jutting and bending in all directions.
Wants: to run around enclosed spaces
Tactics: chaotic

Attack: 0
Defense: +1
Speed: +4

  1. Ram: light damage
  2. Scattered essence: each round the it spends in melee with someone holding a source of flame, there is a 2 in 6 chance the sulfur in the air will ignite and burn into heavy black droplets. The flame will spread to all areas it has passed through, dealing 1d6 damage each round to anyone actively fighting in it, or 1 damage if they are focused on avoiding it. The elemental takes 1 damage per round while on fire, and will run around in a panic.
(I drew this one a while ago, but it's way too faded to look any good)

Ash angel

HD: 1
Found: 1d6 underground, in large buildings, or places where the air is particularly still.

Appearance: a winged, crumbling figure. Penitent and cautious in its posture and movements.
Voice: weak and rasping
Wants: stillness and quiet, stronger elementals to follow.
Tactics: careful but ill-considered

Attack: 0
Defense: +1
Speed: +2

  1. Smog: 1 damage, ignoring defense.
  2. Burst: when killed, each will explode into a cloud of choking, obscuring ash that hangs in the air, sticking in the eyes and throat. For each Ash Angel killed in the same room, combatants of flesh fight with -1 attack and defense.
Hovering spirits thought to be closely related to wraiths, they likewise prefer the still and silent. They are quite vulnerable to strong winds or water (a bucket or more), which can dissipate them without letting them burst.

Reforming by Aaron Salter

Forking fiend

HD: 5
Found: solitary at places where the future could go many ways.

Appearance: countless little spindly limbs meet at a joint, which reaches up to do the same again, creating a sort of pyramidal centipede without head or segmented body.
Voice: crackling and uncertain
Wants: possibility. It likes forks in the road at least, but will seek greater possibilities
Tactics: random

Attack: +3
Defense: 3
Speed: +3

  1. Dagger feet: light damage
  2. Splitting: when it takes one third of its damage, a HD 1 forking fiend splits off and fights alongside it, with 1 attack, defense, and speed bonus. Likewise its stats decrease by one each. Happens again at two thirds damage.

Hungry forge

HD: 4
Found: where many dwarves have died

Appearance: ponderous blocky limbs heaving a tall, rounded body. A chimney spews smoke from above and a mouth glows from red hot coals within.
Wants: to eat metal
Tactics: cautious

Attack: +1
Defense: +2
Speed: -1

  1. Mulch: it will take metal into its furnace and smelt it down, stopping for a round to smelt a random tool (1. shovel 2. plates & cups, 3. hammer & nails 4. chain 5. light struts 6. small chair). If it hasn't forged anything recently, it will aggressively try to take weapons and/or armor for this purpose, but is not picky if offered metal.
  2. Hammerblow: medium damage.
  3. Spew: 1d6 fire damage, agility save for half. Cannot act next round as it stokes the flames.

Gold-Forge Garrison by Svetlin Velinov


HD: 2
Found: solitary at sites of great magical destruction or natural disasters

Appearance: a roiling, heavy smoke with embers glowing from within and electrical energy crackling about its long limbs.
Voice: booming and sudden
Wants: to discuss the nature of destruction and preservation, and kill immortal beings.
Tactics: aggressive

Attack: +4
Defense: -1
Speed: +3

  1. Flaming thunder: red hot talons of crackling energy form, dealing heavy damage.
  2. Destructive existence: when moving slowly, it can pass through unattended solids, completely destroying them.

Photo by Francisco Negroni


HD: 2
Found: solitary at the depths of the Temple of Hidden Light

Appearance: broad shouldered shining form, fading into shadows from the waist down. Without light nearby it looks wan and frail, but as it absorbs lights it fills out, appearing more muscular and sturdy.
Voice: slightly echoing
Wants: to collect candles and kindling
Tactics: aggressive

Attack: +1
Defense: 0
Speed: +1

  1. Luminous form: for each light source roughly as bright as a torch or three candles, the Luminbeast gains +1 HD, attack, defense, and speed. One round after such a light source is extinguished, these bonuses are lost.
  2. Raking light: shimmering claws that deal light damage.
  3. Great flare: a blinding burst of light shines from its body, blinding anyone nearby. 2 in 6 chance this drains a light source, extinguishing it.

Lush soul

HD: 1

Appearance: crudely humanoid shape, plump and welcoming, formed of alcohol as if held by totally unseen glass.
Voice: bubbly and muffled
Wants: strong alcoholic drinks, to join diverse groups
Tactics: careful

Attack: +1
Defense: +2
Speed: +0

  1. Slam: light damage. Coats target in flammable alcohol on a successful hit.
  2. On tap: regrows about 5 liters of alcohol a day, up to its normal size at 50 liters. It will fight if half of it is consumed.

Beer Dragon by Nicolás Morales
Not the same idea, but a good beer elemental


HD: 1
Found: 1d6 in flat expanses of firm ground, as large as possible

Appearance: translucent wheel of lightning, peeling wildly and without rest.
Voice: screeching
Wants: to race
Tactics: distracted

Attack: +1
Defense: -1
Speed: +8

  1. Ram: medium damage.
Able to attack while moving, but cannot but move every round. If someone races to a target, it will be unable to resist competing against them.

Silvery doppelganger

HD: 3
Found: solitary in heavy concentrated metal veins

Appearance: angular, metallic humanoid covered in flat, shiny surfaces. Whoever is close enough to be reflected will find themselves fighting their own mirror image, reaching through the surface.
Voice: scraping and faintly echoed
Wants: to show reflections
Tactics: whatever it thinks the foe will use

Attack: +1
Defense: +2
Speed: +1

  1. Reflection: each person fighting it in melee will fight their reflection, with their bonuses added to its own for them alone. If approached peacefully when not in combat, by someone who hasn't attacked it, the reflected selves will only try to assist with grooming, examination, or what have you.

Saturday, November 23, 2019

Player character appearance

These should be free to roll if the player wants, but shouldn't be compelled.



  1. Mebirinu
  2. Kippil
  3. Veshkin
  4. Tula
  5. Fahd
  6. Gollo
  7. Yingao
  8. Ort
  9. Finnin
  10. Shimex
  11. Nihemi
  12. Bolshu
  13. Purple Cikrem
  14. Blue Cikrem
  15. Green Cikrem
  16. Yellow Cikrem
  17. Orange Cikrem
  18. Red Cikrem
  19. Black Cikrem
  20. Grey Cikrem


  1. Very short
  2. Short
  3. Average
  4. Tall
  5. Hunched
  6. Stilts

Old Crane UTA by David Aguilera De Casi

Body shape

  1. Slender
  2. Fat
  3. Average
  4. Muscular
  5. Bulky
  6. Chubby

Hair color

  1. Brown
  2. Raven
  3. Blonde
  4. Ginger
  5. Red
  6. Dirty blonde
  7. Platinum
  8. Silver
  9. White
  10. Salt and pepper
  11. Orange
  12. Yellow
  13. Green
  14. Blue
  15. Indigo
  16. Violet
  17. Transparent
  18. Mirror
  19. As the sky
  20. Whatever it touches

dye in your color by Kar Wun Tan

Hair style

  1. Shaved
  2. Buzzed
  3. Pixie
  4. Bob
  5. Straight
  6. Ponytail
  7. Pigtails
  8. Bangs
  9. Swept back
  10. Wavy
  11. Curly
  12. Braided
  13. Frazzled
  14. Mohawk
  15. Fade
  16. Spiked
  17. Dreadlocks
  18. Bowl
  19. Afro
  20. Topknot


  1. Barely adult
  2. Young adult
  3. Adult
  4. Mature
  5. Aging
  6. Elderly

QiKun et Yun by shans Zhu

Eye color

  1. Brown
  2. Hazel
  3. Blue
  4. Green
  5. Grey
  6. Black

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Magic powers

These powers do not require a magic focus or ritual to use, and take one round to perform. Each power occupies one skill slot, and whenever you use one make a magic check or become strained. They can be granted by powerful figures or unstable concoctions, but do not trust wizards who offer great power (they are, at best, completely uncertain as to the safety of their procedure). Roll 2d6 to pick one at random.

meditation by Anna LAKISOVA

1. Callinary
  1. Angelic wings: grow a pair of wings powerful enough to carry you for an hour. You can grant this power to a number of creatures equal to your magic bonus by touching them, and those who have flown before will be slightly faster in the air.
  2. Charybdal cud: catch any amount of liquid in your mouth, and up to an hour later vomit up 1d6 gallons of the same liquid.
  3. Homunculus: spawn an exact duplicate from your body for a minute. It has all of your physical and mental attributes, but no items or magic.
  4. Possession's loyalty: hold up an item and burst it into shimmering dust, followed by all nearby items of the same type floating gently toward you.
  5. Wall of bread: conjure a barrier of hard bread which can block hallways, impede movement, or protect against ranged attacks. If crumbled and sifted through, up to 1d6 rations worth of it is edible.
  6. Wind from the East: call upon a gust from the lands where the sun rises. It may put out small fires, spread large ones, and completely ruin an orderly study if you're in one

Spring Spell by Kasia Zielinska

2. Energetized
  1. Impenetrable aura: a sphere of unbreakable force swells around you, which cannot be broken as long as you stay still and focused.
  2. Luminance: with your touch, any object or being starts to shine brightly for an hour, in any color you choose.
  3. Prismatic barrage: launch a stream of multicolored flaming spears that strike your target for 2d6 damage, but splay out to hit 1d6 random targets for 1d6 damage each.
  4. Spectral chain: arcane bonds wrap around a nearby target, paralyzing them for up to one minute unless they can burst the chains. The chains do not tie them to the ground.
  5. Sol's quill: your finger carves a glowing trail upon any solid surface. It can be made to hide until something specific happens, and other powers can be tied to cast once it is revealed, but they will be trapped within and cannot be used during that time.
  6. Stormtongue: at your word, lightning strikes a target for 3d6 damage, though it will be halved if they dive away fast enough. One round after, a random similar target will be struck, such as a person if a person was targeted, or a building if a building was targeted.

Dark Sorceress by Richard Bryce Gore

3. Enhancerous
  1. Embolden body: grant 10 temporary vigor to a creature with a touch, even if they are wounded.
  2. Extend: at your touch, a creature such as yourself will just above double in height (about five meters for a human). The result is stretched out and lanky, gaining no additional strength or agility.
  3. Giant's might: at your touch, a creature such as yourself swells in strength to an unreasonable degree, gaining +3 strength but -3 agility.
  4. Shadewalk: your touch shrouds a creature in shadow for an hour, which makes them invisible when out of light for +2 stealth.
  5. Sovereign stance: take a sacred pose that makes you invincible and unmovable for 1d6 rounds.
  6. Stimulate: touch a creature to hasten their feet, allowing them to run and fight for 1d6 rounds, or granint +5 speed.

Immovable by Lee Yeong gyun

4. Materialine
  1. Adherent: with both hands, link two unliving objects with an unbreakable bond for one minute.
  2. Alchemist's boon: when you touch a metal object, it liquifies for one round before hardening in whatever shape and position it has poured into.
  3. Belonging: for one hour you appear as a servant working for one of the local authorities. You can also grant this appearance to a number of creatures equal to your magic bonus by touching them.
  4. Composition: know the materials of any object you touch. If they are materials you don't know, glean basic information about its properties.
  5. Holy word: animate a clay idol to act at your command for an hour. Larger golems may be stronger, but also vastly heavier. Used on a true golem, it can be used to add, remove, or change one word from its Command.
  6. Ironhand: strengthen one limb against heat of all kinds for 1d6 minutes.

[ l o t u s ] by princessofcubes

5. Mentalistic
  1. Courier root: connect to the roots of all plants to reach someone you can picture clearly, regardless of distance for a minute.
  2. Glean memories: view a random secret of someone you can see.
  3. Mind stamp: with a look, you can force a target to do any one thing. If it is obviously dangerous, they may resist with will +4.
  4. Pigmentary thoughts: the momentary thoughts of someone nearby become visible to you, showing what they are planning for a round.
  5. Share tongues: speak to any one creature for up to a minute.
  6. Speech puppet: throw an invisible thread around someone nearby, allowing you to make them say whatever you want for 1d6 rounds, though they may move and act otherwise as normal.

Psychic by Oli Lee

6. Translatory
  1. Move without touch: pass through solid objects aside from natural ground for a round, carrying items with you.
  2. Polymorph: transform yourself or a touched target into a random animal for an hour. Items remain within or are spirited away safely until they return.
  3. Repetrify: transform creatures into stone or stone into meat. Creatures will remain in stone for an hour or until freed, and up to a half meter by one and a half meters of stone can become uncertain meat, up to 1d6 rations worth of which is edible.
  4. Shift alignment: touch an object and switch its weight to make it fall in any direction for one minute.
  5. Touch of winter: freeze a liquid by touching it. The longer this power is maintained, the more water can be frozen. A gallon freezes in a round, a tub in a minute, a pool in an hour, and a lake in a day.
  6. Twigs to serpents: hold either end of lengths of wood in each hand, and animate them into snakes that will obey one command before behaving as wild snakes. At most, a human can produce 1d4 snakes that would be useful in combat. Special woods will result in enchanted snakes, and tiny, harmless snakes can be created without strain.

Whenever someone gains a power, roll for a vulnerability
  1. Blood
  2. Feathers
  3. Salt
  4. Copper
  5. The caster's name
  6. Green leaves

Saturday, November 16, 2019

Skies Below skill system

Skills are generally based on professions, aside from particular outliers like ranged combat. Generally if you're using the butcher skill, you'd want to do things a butcher is good at, with the poet skill you can do things a poet would do. The uses and effects aren't precisely categorized or quantified, it's intended to be flexible and intuitive.

Blacksmith by Arnesson Art / Thomas hugo

Each character has skill slots equal to their Will score (which can be modified by things like class levels, mutations, or other effects), and each skill takes one slot. Extra languages and magic powers also take skill slots. New skills start with no stars and no marks.

To perform a skill successfully, the player must roll 1d6 and get 2 or lower. Each time the character uses a skill in an important situation, whether successful or failed, they add a mark. When the skill has three marks, the character can spend a week in town (or another safe area) and make a Will save to gain a star. A skill can have up to three stars, and each star increases the target number by one.

basic challenges - illustration for dresden rpg
basic challenges by Jayna Pavlin

Most backgrounds give a skill, and a character's first class level gives them one of three skills randomly selected. New skills can be learned by practicing for a week with a teacher who has at least two stars, or through concentrated practice for a month with ample freedom, tools, and supplies which may be expensive or rare. Trainers should charge or require other compensation.

It's important to note that ranged combat uses the skills launcher, archer, and shooter depending on the weapon, and the attack hits if the skill check is successful. Harder shots can be made by rolling under half the normal target number, and there are surely non-combat applications for these skills as well.

Dwarven scribe by Michał Sztuka

Here are some examples of things that can be done with certain skills:

With the butcher skill you could cut open a dead creature and acquire useful organs or body parts, or skin it to get a good sturdy pelt.

Using the smith skill you could repair metal items that had been damaged but not destroyed, or use a forge and metals into armor, weapons, or other items.

The colors of flame

Red- bloodfire

A rare and cursed flame which burns only living creatures, curdling their flesh before it eats away the skin. It leaves nothing but bone and fur or hair, and none have yet tested if it can spread along freshly spilled blood. The skincity Viren is perhaps the only place where such fire can be found.

Orange- of hearth and torch

Natural flames said to originate from the plane of fire, wherever that may be. It has long been tamed by mortals as a fine tool for light, cooking, and fending against beasts, though careless use may reveal its own feral nature and show it for the danger it is. 

Simple fire
VFX: Simple fire by Artem Grechko

Yellow- flames for gold

Sometimes used by money-changers or alchemists to sift gold from other metals or stone, as this jagged flame burns only precious metals and gems. Most metals it corrodes and ruins, while gems burst or explode. Its use comes in the way it melts gold, as that immortal treasure cannot be rusted or degrade into patina.

Green- demon's breath

Cursed flames known to come about after unnatural magics and dark pacts, remembered by most from a conflagration that burned away the undead armies of the Dead Lords, when they were finally slain. They manifest as they will, consume what they have come for, and disappear without trace or ash. Truly none can say if this fire is a demon itself, merely a tool of dark forces, or perhaps a consequence of twisted wizardry.

Fire-Green by Gabriel Ramos dos Santos

Blue- spirits of the dead

Smoke like mist and a pale glow marks these flames as the product of necromancy. Most often seen in the empty sockets of skeletons still fighting, it is also found at the heart of bone lanterns, whispering the memories of a soul long since dead.

Violet- the memory of dreams

When the pulp of a dream birch is lit, the flames burn with a beautiful light. The long tongues of its pyre will plunge any who touch it into a deep sleep. Curiously, when an unwanted memory is written or drawn clearly enough and put in the flame, it will burn away from the creator's mind. It is thought that these are impossible to recover, but an alchemist in Renzez claims to have crafted a restoring poultice using the ashes of burned memories.

Magic Fire by Evgeny Starostin

White- gentle cleansing flame

A wizard's trick, fire that burns away dirt, dust, and stains and leaving only the shining surface of what lies beneath. The potion that ignites it is quite laborious and time-consuming to brew, so it is perhaps best relegated as a parlour trick for the nobility.

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Combat, weapons, and health in Skies Below

To those just joining, Skies Below is the working title for my personal RPG project. Combat isn't the central focus or quite as emphasized as it tends to be in some of the more popular RPGs, but it is still pretty important in a medieval setting and I like to have a good tactical fight every now and then.

Battle by Faraz Shanyar

Vigor is the measure of a character's ability to keep on fighting, generally avoid major injury be it due to physical stamina, morale, or even luck. When damage has reduced a character's vigor to zero, that character is worn out, and the next damage they take will cause a Wound. When characters rest for an hour long meal break and eat at least one ration, their vigor is restored to full. Likewise when they sleep for eight hours, and they can drink alcohol to restore 1d6 vigor in a round.

A wounded character cannot regain vigor until they've healed, which takes one week per wound. If a wounded character takes damage, they must roll 1d6. If the result is higher than their number of wounds, they survive and take a wound. If the result is equal to or lower than their number of wounds, they become fatally wounded. A fatally wounded character can die right away, or within the week if the player wishes, but the character won't be able to continue adventuring consistently while dying.

Carrying the Wounded by Dominik Mayer

Each round of combat takes ten seconds, and melee combatants have three stances to choose from; fast, parry, and feint. Much like rock paper scissors, fast stance is beaten by parry stance, parry is beaten by feint, and feint stance is beaten by fast stance. If your stance is beaten by your opponent's, you take full damage. If your stance matches your opponent's, each take 1 damage plus attack bonuses. A character can only use feint stance with a weapon they are proficient with, and can use parry stance with any weapon.

Animals or creatures of similar mental capacity can either pounce or dig in, which are analogous to a fast stance or parry stance respectively. An animal trained specifically in combat can feint, as can creatures with human-level intelligence.

There are four categories of melee weapons: light weapons, mass weapons, balanced weapons, and reach weapons. Light weapons are generally small, one-handed ones like daggers, knuckles, or a small cudgel. A mass weapon could be a mace, hammer, or axe which can be wielded in one hand. Balanced weapons include swords, spears, and other weapons that are generally longer but can be used either one handed or two handed, and have a more even balance along their length. Reach weapons include greatswords, poleaxes, and most other polearms, and can only be used with both hands.

                               | attack | defense | armor piercing |
Light weapon:         |    +1   |     +1     |           +1          |
Mass weapon:        |    +1   |     +1     |           +2          |
Balanced weapon:  |   +2    |    +2      |          +1           |
Reach weapon:      |   +2    |    +2      |          +2           |

Viking Axe by Adam Dudley

Light weapon damage uses the lower result of 2d6, one handed mass or balanced weapons deal 1d6, and two handed weapons deal the higher result of 2d6. While wielding a mass or balanced weapon, a light weapon in the offhand grants +1 attack and armor piercing. With a shield, the character can choose to block instead of attacking, increasing their defense by the lower result of 2d6 with a small shield, or 1d6 with a large shield.

Ranged attacks use the a skill check each round. For thrown weapons such as knives, darts, or a sling, the launcher skill is rolled. For bows, the archer skill is used, and for crossbows or firearms the shooter skill. For a particularly difficult shot, such as trying to hit someone hiding in underbrush or out of range, the skill check is twice as hard.

A successful unarmed attack deals one damage plus attack bonus. With special unarmed training, an unarmed character can enter parry stance against unarmed enemies. With unarmed mastery, an unarmed character can enter parry stance against armed opponents.

Xiu Yin Chen by Mario Wibisono

Armor increases defense, +1 for gambeson or other light armor, +2 for chain or other medium armor, and +3 for plate or other heavy armor. If the character wears heavy armor all day, they become strained, and heavy armor takes one minute to put on with help.

Varangian by Sergei Gereev

There are five movement choices in a round. Closing distance, creating distance, maintaining distance, racing to a target, and holding ground. When making one of these actions against a foe, such as racing against someone, maintaining distance against a fleeing opponent, or holding ground against someone trying to get past your character, each roll 1d20 and add their speed bonuses, whoever rolls higher wins.

These rules may seem a bit unfocused, but in general it's designed to focus on melee combat and create a reasonably realistic, tactical, and streamlined experience. Lots of this was inspired by so check out that blog if you want some really interesting real-world data related to weapons, travel, equipment, and other information relevant to a medieval fantasy type game. Sorry I missed a post, for those that noticed.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Skies Below character creation & some basic rules

Skies Below is intended to be a game that makes the player really feel the human struggles of their character. To that end, it may be best to start with how those characters will be created.

A Home Up High
A Home Up High by Chris Lambert

It is recommended that you first come up with a name, then roll a background, secret, and connection. You can also roll other things for your character's history and personality, such as memories, fears, or attitude, or you may want to wait until after rolling your core attributes. These are generated with 3d6 each in order of will, strength, and agility, with one optional reroll. This will give scores ranging from 3 to 18, and each will have a bonus depending on the number.

Score          Bonus
3, 4, 5            -2
6, 7, 8            -1
9, 10, 11        +0
12, 13, 14      +1
15, 16, 17      +2
18                  +3

Saves can be made by rolling 1d20 equal to or lower than the associated attribute, such as rolling a strength save to resist petrification or lift a falling door, or rolling a will save to fend of mental effects. Each attribute score and bonus contributes to another secondary attribute. The will score determines your base number of skill slots and the bonus determines your magic score. The strength score determines your base number of inventory slots and the bonus adds to your attack bonus. The agility score determines your base stealth and the bonus adds to your speed bonus.

Potions Fact by A. Shipwright

A level 1 character starts with 6 maximum Vigor, and increases their maximum by 1d6 every class level. This represents not necessarily physical health, morale, or willpower, but rather a general sense of your character's ability to keep fighting on. If you take damage at 0 vigor, you take a wound. Each time a character becomes wounded they must roll 1d6, and if the result is equal to or lower than their number of wounds then it is a fatal wound. They should be allowed to choose whether they die there or sometime within the next week, within reason.

Each player character can start at level 1 unless running a character funnel. For new players or a new campaign, only a few starting classes should be available until people get more comfortable playing or as the campaign develops. Most characters will get an outfit and skill from their background, and most classes start with a weapon and some interesting items.

Old Spanish Treasure Chest by Samuel Sheath

When you spend money on personal comforts and luxuries, you gain experience points. It costs 200 exp to reach level 2, 400 to reach level 3, and 800 to reach level 4. To level up, you spend a month in town relaxing, carousing, or training as the player sees fit.

Character sheets are still work-in-progress, but can be found here:
Backgrounds, secrets, and connections can be found here, along with some other backstory elements:
Starting classes here:
Other classes here:
And here:
Partial combat rules can be found here: