Your Personal Jesus NPC

Interesting article at VICE:


I wonder just how common this Mary Sue the Rapist NPC phenomenon really is. Certainly it's a gruesome psychological pattern among the guys who sit behind the screen. I don't recall ever inserting an idealized version of myself into the game. At least not for any sort of sexual ideation/gratification purposes. Sounds more like bedroom roleplay, but to each his own I guess. The girl's response -- quitting the campaign -- was totally appropriate. The article's subtext -- that D&D should be absolutely free of any political incorrectness or male wish-fulfillment fantasy -- is hamfisted and misses the whole spirit of the game. Like it or not, D&D did begin as a boy's club. Robert E. Howard is in its DNA.


WHAT IF? | Trans-planar portals are rotting cracks in the superstructure of the Prime Material

Efforts to conserve the invisible structure of the Prime Material Plane date back to the early aeons of organized wizardry. Prevailing magical theory suggests that physical portation across the material barrier to the otherworlds leads to a sort of decomposition of that barrier. As the occurrences of portation to the outer lands increase -- leaving more rotting punctures and pocks -- the barrier becomes compromised so that all manner of vagabonds from Outside can find their way in to the Material. The manufacture of new permanent gates is strictly forbidden, and various magical buffers and boundaries confound most forms of temporary portals, so that special knowledge is required to bypass them effectively.


  • Knowledge of the location of existing sanctioned permanent gates may be a requirement to reach certain otherworld destinations.
  • The magical means to bypass the old wizard-boundaries would be extremely rare and valuable.
  • Such information might be: (a) lost or forgotten, (b) protected by magical means, (c) part of an ancient hoard, (d) available for an astronomical price.
  • Certain magic-users would devote their study and practice to conserving and repairing the wizard-boundaries and would protect them ferociously.
  • Permanent gates need wardens to prevent vagabonds from accessing the Material.



Books | A False Machine 2011-2014 (Lulu)

Try as I might, I really can't say anything too douchey about this compendium of Patrick Stuart bloggery. The missing "t" on the spine is unfortunate. (If I ever encounter Patrick and win the initiative roll I'll probably ask him to write it in with a Sharpie.) I am a huge fan of "The Demon Behind Glass" and plan to desecrate decorate my next campaign with it. His section on gods in campaign worlds -- a comparison/contrast between the gods of the Greeks and those of the Romans -- expresses something that had been unverbalized for me and immediately lubricated all the right imagination gears. You can order the book at Lulu here


Dolmenwood | Horris' Folly

A bit of Dolmenwood folklore, overheard at the tavern in Prigwort.

Horris' Folly

It was all very long ago. So long ago that certain names and details have been lost in the uncoiling of Time. We know that Lord Horris and his entourage of retainers sallied forth one fine morning in the midst of a long Autumn like men knew in days of yore. They essayed to bring back the accursed Nag-Lord's horn in the belief that this would break the beast's power forever and send him trotting back to the fiery cyst reserved for enemies of the One True God. Horris, it will be noted, was a self-annointed champion of the One True God who considered himself under divine guidance and protection. He freely and accurately quoted from the Seventy-Seven-and-Seven Psalms in his sleep and was known far and wide as a Healer of some talent. He carried a wicked sword called Weeper that sobbed aloud when it was used to take the life of an Evil being. Weeper choked and sobbed often in the hands of Lord Horris, who considered the sword's tortured cries to be penance for its past crimes.

Despite all their carefully drawn maps and pressing of locals for directions, it became clear to Horris and his men that -- regardless of the vivid descriptions of the place in tale and song -- no one seemed to know exactly where the Nag-Lord's Court might be found. The very stretch of haunted woodland where all evidence stated the nightmare estate should be was a vacant, howling valley strewn with nothing more than a few collapsed cottages. Horris, in accordance with his nature, held on to his convictions. For several weeks they camped in the lonely valley, and all that time Horris prayed to the One True God for an omen to guide them.

As it happened, an omen of sorts did appear. While collecting water from the stream that ran just north of their encampment, one of Horris' men spied a goat-headed man reclining in the upper bowers of an ancient tree. On the lord's orders his archers brought this sleeping creature down with their arrows, whereupon it was roughly collected and brought to the encampment for purposes of interrogation. The wounded beast-man provided them with little in the way of information before he died, though he was able to give them directions to a nearby grotto where a number of unwed maidens were said to dwell.

Few of Horris' men were interested in his views on chastity and pronouncements of caution. Having spent over a fortnight living like animals in the wild, they longed for the laughter and company of womenfolk, regardless of what cave they chose to dwell in. Rather than wait out his retainers' ill-advised investigation, Horris in the end chose to accompany them, he announced, to better protect their souls from the wiles and traps of temptation.

The maidens' grotto was hidden in an unexpectedly deep cleaving of the forest floor -- a cavernous maw dappled with moonlight and night-blooming fronds. Several identical women possessed of apple-red cheeks and seemly proportions were seated on chairs carved from tree stumps as the men arrived, talking in lilting tones amongst each other in the glow of a dying fire. It was obvious to Horris that they feigned fright and embarrassment in this initial meeting. For only a moment later the men were invited within their strange home, past a rustic door reinforced with bands of an unfamiliar alloy. Within they found that the nubiles' dwelling was arranged quite homely with all the comforts and things of beauty one might expect to find in any noble lady's house. It was strange, but no stranger than the mirrored features of their hostesses. There was no set of high-perched breasts or dainty toes that did not resemble their sister-counterparts. Yet this seemed to only satisfy the lord's men the more -- there being no need to draw straws to determine who would bed the prettiest, the second prettiest, and so forth. For some time Horris attempted to determine the exact number of maidens who occupied the grotto, but to his consternation he found the task impossible. Even their flimsy shifts and tantalizing bodices were of one kind, seemingly made by the same hand. Conservative knots bound back their dark, shining hair -- though these were quickly undone by the retainers' incautious caresses. Indeed their rough hands wandered all over the maidens' supple forms, squeezing here and tickling there. It was all too much for Lord Horris, who announced his displeasure several times though none appeared to hear him. He left in a huff, finding the trail back to the encampment by the light of stars showing dimly through the treetops.

Accounts differ as to what happened next.

One version of the tale says that Horris' men were bewitched by the women. Their misguided love for the maidens was used evilly to foment mistrust in Lord Horris. By the following night the men's hearts were raw with murder-lust and like wolves they descended on the lord's encampment to find him reciting psalms in his sleep. There he died, cut to bits as he pronounced his God's secret name.

In another version the maidens are goat-headed women who have taken on the appearance of a captive girl kept behind a hidden door in their grotto. When one of the retainer's accidentally discovers the girl and learns of her plight, he informs his brothers-in-arms and they quickly bind the bleating goat-women with ropes and set fire to them and their grotto-mansion.

In still another version, a forlorn Lord Horris meets the Nag-Lord on the road home and thereafter disappears from all record.


Coming Next Month: Year's Best Weird Fiction

Yep. Weird fic is getting its own annual anthology. That only took us -- what? -- ninety years or so right? Well, super weirdo author Laird Barron is the guy to thank. He's Karl Edward Wagnering the hell out of this thing. Pre-order at Amazon, if you like.