Crackling some lotus petals, or something

Having finished up some other projects (and gotten some work- and family-related nonsense dealt with, at least for now), my thoughts are drifting back to my plan to do a new version of the Blue Lotus Hack using the Merry Mushmen’s CRACK! as a base.

(I’ll be changing the title when/if I get it done.)

Leaving aside questions like “but why not stick with The Black Hack as a base?” (answer: 1) CRACK! looks fun and I want to use it, 2) Lotus is using TBH 1e and if I’m tweaking at all, might as well go on, 3) CC feels more comfortable to use than OGL right now, 4) CRACK! looks fun and I want to use it), there’s some things I need to contend with, but that’s okie.

– The Lotus classes are front-loaded and most of them also get more ability picks as they level, which I wrote one-half because I like it (still do) and one-half because Lotus was written as much as an exercise in distraction from a miserable work situation as anything else and more stuff = more to write = more distraction.

Contrariwise, CRACK! jobs are pretty compact, which I also like. Also, if I don’t make super-elaborate jobs, then dropping in any other jobs that look cool from other sources will be easier for anyone who happens to pick up and poke at Lotus mkII.

So, how to reconcile? I could make beefier jobs — and I suspect I by and large already do, if the handful I wrote and posted up here already are any indication — but then the compact little job blocks get lost, and I like them. So what I’m probably going to do is split some up and pull out abilities and make even more jobs.

Might even use one or two of those blog ones besides.

Jobs jobs jobs.


– Related to the above: BLH has kinds, humans + three others, which amounted to a smallish bonus to one thing. CRACK! as-is uses heritage-as-job. I would definitely miss having Puss-In-Boots-but-a-wizard, though, so atm I’m thinking of working up new small traits or adapting the ones I have (and may also include optional kind-as-jobs, in case someone wants them).

– I am absolutely ripping out levels for magic spells and psionic gifts moohahahahahahaha

– The systems for the above I have no decisions on whatsoever yet and it’s not impossible I just brazenly adapt what I use in pocketrpg, lol

– There are some things that aren’t in Lotus as it stands that I am really tempted to use this opportunity to get off my arse and add in; hirelings-and-henchmen rules, frex, or (related) how to recruit in a dungeon or whatever (probably borrowing from my navel-gazing on incorporating that into pocketrpg sheerly for the lols of using it with Lost Emblem Saga).

And of course the whole general tearing out of a rules set and putting in a new one, etc etc.

In a perfect world, I’ll also be adding more critters/spells/gifts/trinkets, because I’m me. I am absolutely looking forward to writing up little starting equipment kits for each territory in Varas let me tell you (I love writing little equipment kits the last few years and now I have an excuse for Lotus ahahahahaha).

Do I have any idea when I’ll get this done? Nope. I am not putting even an estimate on, because that way lies screaming and black brain spirals and terribleness, and also every time I turn around something Stupid[tm] happens in my life and derails my plans so I’m erring on the side of “this is a personal project anyway so”.

But I want to do it.

So I’m bloody well going to try.

on the eve of Dungeon23

By this time tomorrow, it’s going to be a new year.

I just finished the last page in a scribble-journal I’ve kept for a year, after several year’s hiatus.

I used to use Moleskine journals, but I couldn’t find one that just had dates, and this was more stressful than it needed to be; in the end I was saved by finding, oddly enough, an unused and very old (1975 at the youngest, by the calendar on the inside cover) government diary-pocket journal-agenda squirrelled away in the bookroom. (the gods only know where I found it initially, and when.) And it’s served admirably.

In 2023 I’m going to use a Moleskine again, and will just ignore the bujo notations down the side of the pages, and not let them bother me. I will fill larger pages than the little green diary, the way I used to; word lists and fragmented ideas, bits of prose and imaginary quotations, descriptions of places that don’t exist and that I might write someday, or not, or just in an expanded form on some other journal pages. And when I’m finished this one it will go stacked on a shelf with the other Moleskines, and with the little green diary.

Yes there’s a point I’m getting to here.

Sometimes, I miss days, in the Moleskines or the little green diary. I make them up when I have the opportunity; it’s the filling of the pages that I like to do, not flagellating myself if I double up a day down the way. Some stories need more than one page in any case.

By this time tomorrow, I’ll be starting Dungeon23.

In the time since I decided to take part — spurred by being aggravated at someone on the webs taking pass-agg “humorous” potshots at folks’ happy preparations and chatter — I’ve gotten myself settled into what I plan to do, which is still what I already posted about, more or less. (I’m kind of predictable?) I may leave some dangly bits on my maps to make linking bits together later easier, if I decide to.

I’m also not planning to transcribe my dungeons afterwards, at least not now, because I don’t want this to be a Thing[tm] — it’s something I want to tinker with and poke at and add to, and I might miss a day and catch up a day.

Like my journals, and all their contents that sit contentedly in their pile.

I might snap a picture or roughly scan dungeons to show, if I remember to. (that’s the plan, we’ll see if the plan survives.)

And that’s fine.

Some folks are planning to release their dungeons (or cities, or environments, or spaceships) as finished products.

That’s also fine.

Some folks are making theirs expressly to be played as they go.

That’s fine too.

Others have made special journals and workbooks and the like, some for free and some not, some fancy, some not.

Also fine. (I’m using a little one myself, I like it a lot.)

Whatever we want to do with our work, that’s fine.

You know what’s also fine? Feeling that the Dungeon23 activity — in whatever form — isn’t for you. Not all things are. I was feeling that it wasn’t for me, until I realized that no, all the folks pointing out that it doesn’t have to be a megadungeon were right.

And also that I don’t need to be a brilliant artist or anything either.

I can just make my dungeons.

My dungeons.

For however many weeks I have ideas for.

And that’s fine.

And if someone feels the need to cut down folks who are doing this thing that — one hopes! — makes them happy; or if someone feels the need to try to guilt those happy folks out of their fun and their conversations and their plans, just because they don’t feel it’s for them themselves; or if someone decides to start a tirade about how dungeons (never mind that not everyone is even making dungeon-dungeons) are BadWrongFun and terrible and we should all feel bad —


Yeet them all into the sun.

We got dungeons — and spaceships, and maps, and cities, and towers, and a zillion other things — to make.


It took being spurred into it be getting annoyed as hell at some jerk being an attempted joykill after a week of folks making plans and sharing resources and etc etc, but I think I’m committed to giving Dungeon23 a shot.

(spite is, as ever, a wonderful motivation fuel. fuck that guy.)

Dungeon23 is the idea of Sean McCoy, who floated the notion of making one dungeon room a day, for a 365-room megadungeon by the end of 2023. This is really cool and seeing so many people also think it’s really cool has been one of the best things I’ve watched unspool in rpgland in aaaages.

But I don’t really do megadungeons, and I also do chunks of months of prompts already, and —

And, well, I can do smaller dungeons. It’s totally fine. 7-room one week dungeons. Longer 14-room or whatever dungeons. Make them so they can just daisy-chain however.

It’s all good!

I’ll probably stick with my usual kinds of themes and still basically fantasy; I have some scifi/space things dimly nibbling at me and before this came up, but I haven’t done scifi anything in a loooong time and I’d rather just go with the flow and whatever tips out of my head, especially since this is a big undertaking for me as is.

I might cruft together a weekly prompt list of my own (the gods know I have enough prompt lists of many many different kinds and lengths hoarded that I could pillage), or use Sean’s, or both. Maybe both. (probably both.)

Also, system neutral whenever possible, or as close as my brain tips out, because that’s theoretically shorter and easier.

I’m going to use Shouting Crow’s Monthly Mega Dungeon Maker notebook to write in, because I can make them as I need them and their ickle size and format means I won’t have a pile of unused journal when/if I crash out of the project. (also their notebook is both basically perfect for my needs and adorable.) There’s a bunch of other takes on Itch and elsewhere, though, as well as boughten journals and just scribbling up your own ~

If I can remember, I may make weekly or at least monthly posts on here about it, or at least take a picture of my scribblings and post it up …

psionics in the works

Over the last stretch of weeks, after contemplating the idea for most of last fall (I can be very slow), I’ve been putting together a set of psionic talents for pocketrpg stuff.

(I’m kind of thinking of tweaking the phrasing of a few of them and releasing a Creative Commons version of the talents themselves, like I did when I put out a hundred CC spells over the holidays)

And yeah, I basically used the tried-and-true thematic subdivisions, because

1) they work so why change it
2) they’ve existed through all branches of specfic as well as through sff rpgs
However! My end results have seven paths/schools/disciplines/whatever, instead of the “usual” (A)D&D six, for the following reasons and rambling train of thought to get to the end result:

1) I liked some of the ideas behind the Metapsionics discipline in 2e, but not all of them, and also the idea of locking stuff behind/into “the uber discipline” was and is annoying
2) similarly I really like the Metacreativity discipline in 3e, because making stuff is cool, manipulating ectoplasm — originally as much considering a psychic manifestation as a ~ghosty manifestation, thanks so much Ghostbusters *grumbles* — is cool, and why I never liked anything to do with crystal anythings why do you ask *shifty look*
3) if psionics is powered by your will, your “you”, your spirit/soul/insert-whatever-term, there should be spirit stuff in general
4) buuuut I hate the (often frankly creepy and not in a horror way) “occult” trappings that get slathered all over that end of things (a turnoff I have with Pathfinder’s approach to psionics, for example, because it lays it on thick)
5) I wanted to try to avoid the exoticizing/Orientalizing that keeps slinking into psionics stuff, from names to definitions

Also “telepathy” needed some tweaking, although in the end it really is about messing with people’s minds as much as talking to them and that’s annoying. I’ve avoided the worst mind control, though, I hope.

So in the end I have seven groups, labeled with one-word titles because frankly I think a good amount of the “psionics doesn’t belong in fantasy” crowd — aside from having missed whole branches of the fantasy genre in general for the many decades — are put off by the oft-deliberate pseudo-scientific name schemes in place.

To whit:

– Sight (“clairsentience”)
– Mind (“telepathy”)
– Body (“psychometabolism”)
– Forces (“psychokinetics”)
– Motion (“psychoportation”)
– Matter (3e “metacreativity”, tweaked just a smidge)
– Spirit (“metapsionics” 2e stripped down and recombined with spirit- and ghosty- and intangible stuff)

Twelve talents each, and I did my best to avoid jargon with the talent names also. (oh gawd I wrote another 80-odd thingers plz end me *lol*)

Hopefully I get some simple formatting done and these up by the end of the week or maybe next week. Definitely debating over a CC version also though.

And of course, nothing’s stopping anyone from using these, once they’re up, as just another pile of spells to add to a spell pool anyway; there’s nothing inherently different about them in the end. It’s all cool.

Dicember 2021 – world

Here we are, at the end of Dicember and at the end of the year, and this one time I’m going to diverge from the posts I’ve made up to this point to instead offer, if not “advice” exactly (because what works for me may not be guaranteed to work for thee), then a very brief glance at how I get grist for the worldbuilding mill.

(for all you “anti-canon” folks and similar, this applies just as much to making tables of possibilities and similar as it does to describing places and things. just saying ;p)

Because every once in a while I get asked how I make things, and — leaving aside that analyzing any of my creative impulses is a foreign country for me anyway, it would boil down to the following:

01. Read. Read a lot.

And I do mean read. Not watch Youtube videos or tv shows or Tiktoks. Put the words into your head. Go back and re-read parts. Chew on them. Mull them over. Compare them to other things you’ve read. Don’t be afraid to return to the material again and again, especially if you enjoyed it the first time.

02. I mean read non-fiction.

Stuffing more rpgs/novels/plays/manga/comicbooks/whatever into your skull shows you how other people implemented their ideas but it doesn’t give you where all that stuff came from. Read about the world; read about things that exist in the world (and beyond the world, for that matter). Which brings us to

03. Read non-fiction widely.

History textbooks are all well and good *glances at part of shelves* but you want more than that. Read anything and everything that looks interesting. Read about plants, animals (living and dead and very dead), rocks and stones; read about food — where it comes from, how its made, what’s eaten or not and why and how it got there. Bathing habits to bees, textiles to tombs, fossils to flowers, soil to space.

An illustration: the holidays are basically when my collection gets notably expanded, because I ask for books. Topics of the 2021 holidays include but are not limited to the Old Kingdom Egypt Pyramid Texts, the use of specific (author-selected) colours in art, an overview of 7000 years of worldwide jewelry, and the sociocultural and political history of the potato outside of the Americas.

The more you take in, the more you can send out.

04. Read outside your own experience.

Go beyond your own country, your own ethnicity; go beyond the modern era. The world’s a big place, it’s always been a big place. Check it out.

05. You don’t need to own it to read it.

In these benighted pandemic times, it can be tricky, it’s true. Nonetheless, a library is your best friend if you have access to one — wander the stacks, see what catches your eye. You might be surprised. Interlibrary catalogues and loans can bring sources to your fingertips that your local library doesn’t have. Many library systems are also online, now, so you can at least browse the catalogue from home (and often arrange book pickups).

If you have access to — or can have a sit-down in even if you aren’t registered (pandemic situation allowing) — a college or university library, these are also excellent sources of often very specific books. I’ve chased down my own copies of texts I used to read to death from my university library.

And that’s basically it.

Yes, yes, I haven’t said what to do with it all — that part I can’t help you with beyond “enough stuff in your head means inspiration to make your own stuff”. (I did say that analyzing any of my creative impulses is a foreign country for me.)

But seriously, this is my advice.

Reading up on all the cool stuff that has existed prompts me along. Maybe it will for you too.

Dicember 2021

I posted more in October of this year than I ever did before, tackling four different prompt tables of various lengths and sneaking a bit of other things in sidewise. November was, predictably, a dead zone (after a few wee game jam entries on Itch), because I burned myself out bad.

But now it’s December and — though I have other ideas and projects slowly percolating around in my brainpan — Dyson Logos has offered up such an awesome set of prompts for this month I can’t help but give it a shot. 😀

I’ve got no particular set form (critters, magic, whatever) in mind for these so, alas, I’ll probably be trying to make individual blog posts. Apologies for incoming bittyposts all over the place?

Onward ~

01. Ammo
02. Ice
03. Child
04. Rage
05. Blade
06. Shame
07. Daemon
08. Present
09. Night
10. Skull
11. Forest
12. Help
13. Food
14. Ooze
15. Snow
16. Unholy
17. Nap
18. Balefire
19. Runic
20. Huge
21. Push
22. Door
23. Slow
24. Tower
25. Arcane
26. Boss
27. Gold
28. Toxin
29. Ghost
30. Reverse
31. World

why did I write an rpg: some navel-gazing

At some point over the weekend — said weekend was cold, raining, and generally gross, which made work a grind and my brain search for distraction but fail to have energy to do much constructively — I had a somewhat incoherent train of thought that went basically like this over a day and a half or so:

“There are other setting ideas kind of rattling around aside from the plane-hopping one, and hell I’m practically admitting that the plane-shopping supplement is also basically a setting; should I post up somewhere a ‘generic’ version of the rules I use for my pocketrpg?”


“If I posted up a generic version of the rules somewhere, wouldn’t it make sense to add a ‘feel free to use these to make stuff’ note or something along those lines in case someone would like it?”


“An ‘SRD’ or a make-stuff note is kind of extraneous isn’t it, there’s piles of games that people would rather use/would get more out of/already tinker with and oh gawd the brainweasels are closing in”


“But doing a Whole Thing every time I might want to post another minisetting or whatever also kind of feels presumptuous? Or ridiculous? Or something?”


“Oh gawd I need this weekend to be over, I can tell I’m doing terrible things to myself here”

… and from there (by this point I was trundling around on Sunday evening), I wisely chose to divert myself away by indulging in the recording of the Pharaohs’ Golden Parade and hauling several comforting textbooks on dynastic Egypt to work, which did help. It also had me ruminating on a different-but-related topic by the time last night rolled around:

Why did I write an rpg/these rpgs/these rules?

I mean, the first answer is also the simplest: because I wanted to. All of the various iterations have boiled down to “because I wanted to”; so will the ideas I’m still nibbling away at, because this is a hobby for me and I like to create, and rpg things are one of the things I like to create.

The actual path for this pocketrpg thing went basically like this:

-Two summers ago(ish) I was at work and had a moment of “I wonder if I can fit a tiny system+enough flavour for an implied setting into a pocketmod?”, and proceeded to peck at the notion for a bit. Nine Black Jewel Moons was the result, which I then promptly also reskinned into a cyberpunk-with-psionics version (Neon Burning Skies) because why not. A few folks liked this, which was reassuring.

-Not leaving well enough alone, I made a companion pocketmod for NBJM with some magic items and more setting snips and a few ideas for rules additions. (originally I was also going to do a companion for NBS and I still have the scribbles, but to this day it’s never actually materialized …)

-About the first time it looked like Fantasy Flight was about to kill off L5R *bitter laughter* I tried my first take on “here is a different type of setting, please see NBJM for the rules” and wrote Steel Blossom Dreams, my little pocketmod take on what I got after shaking my fist at a lot of L5R’s … L5R-ness and hauling textbooks to work. (said books are probably why SBD owes as much or more to Heian as to later eras.) At the same time, I was experimenting with a setting-with-map-in-a-pocketmod, and in the end tried to sort of thread the needle to make Six Swords Rising usable with or without SBD, though the two were (tenuously) connected.

(I am tempted to give SSR an overhaul and expansion, and maybe a different map, and probably lean even harder into being a fantasy setting not meant to emulate any specific thing, I freely admit. it would also make borrowing over the one thing I kept-ish from L5R, descriptive clan/family/whatever-you-like-in-your-setting names, both much easier and far less fraught.)

(… I also just really like pocketmods >.>;;)

-Hilariously, expanding past pocketmod-size was entirely prompted by my being thoroughly annoyed by several years’ development in a completely different arena — the Fire Emblem srpg franchise — and throwing up my hands and yelling fine I’ll make my own, then! … And then I did, if by “made my own” I mean “emulated the tropes common to FE characters with traits and equipment and then wrote another small setting from scratch while including a few nods to FE plot tropes here and there”. I’d use my mini rules (+ the companion bits) as a base and expand a tiny wee bit, and add a wee gazetteer, etc. And so, Lost Emblem Saga. Which also had a few folks like it, which was also reassuring.

Equally hilariously is this is where I actually started calling these things my “pocketrpg” because — this is 100% true — since what I wanted to do would never fit on one sheet, I would make something that once printed out, would be the size of the quarter-page handmade notebooks I make. Which conveniently fit snugly in the back pocket of my work pants.

Yes these are literally pocketrpgs and I am not even sorry.


-Some time shortly after LES, I started thinking I’d like to use its expanded rules (I’d elaborated on magic a little, among other bits), originally from NBJM/Jewel Moons, to actually expand out Jewel Moons itself into a similar pocketrpg. This was not so much prompted as a sort of “I think I’d like to do that …” and then I started tinkering. Oops?

What eventually because Wandering Jewel Moons took a lot longer to pull together, but there were more hurdles (even more pandemic brain; other ideas, like what became Wilusa, City Of Chains, itself spinning from my first ideas of the “mini-not!Planescape”; etc) to get past to do it. But I did. And a few folks like that also.

This is a lot of rambling to basically still say, at the end, I did it because I wanted to …

There are and were other games I’ve done. The Blue Lotus Hack (which is out there on the interwebs) is a flavour tweaking of The Black Hack 1e with a setting/bestiary/magic items selection attached, and I also used TBH 1e for a conversion of Final Fantasy (yes, the original; no, this one’s not out there on the interwebs) including the whole bestiary. Some day I might finish the “space hack”; sometimes I muse on seeing if I can switch it over to pocketrpg or pull what system it has out altogether.

But, it was nice to make a little game framework of my own? Even if, in my personal opinion, there are plenty of folks who do much better — and yes I can name quite a few without batting an eyelash — I wanted to make it, and it made me happy, and I can use it to be that framework for other things I write. I just need to keep taking a newspaper to the brainweasels over it.

I still want to make more things for the pocketrpg (which if I ever do pull up my britches and post a generic version, for folks to use or otherwise, probably needs some kind of name). I need to also keep on telling myself that that’s fine. This is a hobby, after all. I like to make things, and I like to make little notes about little worlds.

This has been a lot of babbling and if you’ve made it this far, congrats *lol* There’s no grand conclusion, alas, not to the babbling and not to the questions that kicked it all off. But sometimes, it’s like that –?