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.