Sunday, December 29, 2019

Eschaton Holiday Special - Part 3 - Compromised by Fruitcake
and now the exciting conclusion.

Xmas is here fashionably late.

Where we ask what happens when elves go colonial?

#eschaton #space #christmas #drevrpg #hodgpocalypse (because it's new).

Sunday, December 22, 2019

Eschaton Holiday Special - Part 2 - Fruitcake Wars!
Fruitcake has become a matter of expressing your denomination.

If a spaceship sized Christmas tree falls from orbit, everybody hears it!

and the Ants have stupidly high morale despite all evidence to the contrary.

#eschaton #Politics #christmas

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Eschaton Holiday Special - Part 1 - One of Those! Fruitcake in a Gravity Well.

We start another campaign where we explore the true meaning of Christmas through a transhuman society.

Fruitcake is involved.

#pbta #eschaton #christmas

Sunday, December 8, 2019

Sunday, November 24, 2019

Sunday, November 17, 2019

MLSS: Superhuman - one shot (or not) game - Shooting Fish in a Vault
We throw together a game involving a new superhero system.

Superhero - a story game of troubled superheroes

#superhero #narrative

Sunday, November 10, 2019

MLSS: Vs. Stranger Stuff - Part 3 - 12 Angry Cats

and now the grand finale.  Or what lurks beneath the metal barn.

Here's a hint:  it's scary and just plain wrong.

#kidsonbikes #trpg #cats #dogs

Monday, November 4, 2019

MLSS: Vs. Stranger Stuff - Part 2 - Yarrr, Hoist the Chew Toy!
Our game progresses with the appearance of Tetch, a Pirate dog with a mysterious hat and a missing cat named Tiger.

Our heroes approach our fears (or not), as we get spied on by a crazy anthropologist lady, pestered by cops and decide it's time to go on the farm.

#strangerthings #rpg #trpg

Friday, November 1, 2019

Social Media Analysis #3 - Tech Company's Mad Dash for Power!!!

Harris, T. 2017. How a Handful of Tech Companies Control Billions of Minds Every Day. TED Talk.


This dovetails into the last social media analysis, but instead of distraction, it instead refers to the idea of steering people's thoughts (although couched by saying in an ethical manner). The tools of social media are not evolving randomly, but are defied by a race for our attention.  They use persuasive - persuasive technology for the purposes of socialization working off the assumption of a most finite resource:  The attention span of the average human.  Outrage, in particular, is something that can be used to maximize marketing potential as it can be herded.

In response, the speaker requests a three-part response. Firstly, human beings are persuadable in a block of time and accepting it allows a form of enlightenment. Secondly, we need to develop new models of accountability transparency to avoid the clandestine nature of current info gathering.
Finally, we need to focus on the current era instead of the future and use social shepherds, as tools will only get more insidious over time and we need to empower the timeline so we have a happier future.  If we can focus on macro issues like climate change, most complex issues have it coordinate together.


Youtube autoplay allows a path of least resistance and taking advantage of that most human of traits, laziness,   to maximize the attention of their audience. As a result, other competitors, such as Netflix or Facebook, follow suit.

Snapchat is a common social media tool used by teenagers.  They have a simple metric known as  Snapstream that shows the number of days they communicated.  This tracking of blocks of time creates an incentive to share passwords to keep their Snapstream going.

Interest and Appeal

The goals of the persuader aligning with the goals of the persuade I get and understand.  I do like the idea of synergy that creates a mutually beneficial relationship that could be expanded and I do like a good model of information.  Despite this, it feels more tempting than a solution.

Impact of Talk

Social engineering takes away agency and removes the ability to communicate in our relationships.  While I'm starting to agree, why would there be any incentive in changing the model?

The model still relies on social shepherds and ethics that ultimately lead to a "who watches the watchman" dilemma.  Any social media tool would be reliant on the ethical consideration of the people involved.  It most likely would need regulation by a third party or it could create a situation where you are simply exchanging one trap for another.

Additionally, his argument from authority brought up "kids sending empty messages"  that smacked somewhat of agism.  This is an argument that dates back to the ancient Greeks and it seems to be a common complaint as every generation blames the one after for not following the rules.


So what are your thoughts?

Is it even possible to create such a relationship without temptation rearing its ugly face?

Feel free to leave a comment below.  I'm curious about your feedback.

#socialmedia #technology #socialengineering

Social Media Analysis #2 - Driven By Tech Distraction

Harris, T. 2014. How Better Tech Could Protect Us From Distraction. Ted Talk.


The premise is how to get a choice from our technology.  The idea is that social media is bulldozing our attention and we have conditioned ourselves to be driven to be distracted.  He brings up the concept that you are either "on" or off and having a fear of missing out.  It's not just coworkers, but we end up distracting ourselves in the process.

That we need help with the way technology designing technology 

According to the presenter it takes about 23 minutes to return to a state 

I did a sweep to cross-reference his info and think I found the original source below: 

It works under the idea of the highest quality level of communication between two people.


While there are many examples used an analog of slot machines as they are a similar level of social distraction when it comes to social media.

His main counterexample was the use of couch surfing.   Instead of matching guests with hosts, the instead say they designed to create lasting positive experiences and relationships between strangers.

It then presents a metric where you take the number of days and then subtract the number of positive hours in those days.  Then you divide how positive in this experience and then subtract a number of hours spent on the website. This is the net "good times" created between strangers.

Interest and Appeal

It's a good idea, but we already have the tools in question: The urgent button.  Unless we have common ground with concern with the messaging, the tools won't matter.  His metrics seem a little subjective, to put it mildly.  and there are a bit of Orwellian undertones and a threat of the old Doctor Who Happiness Patrol to all this.

Here's a synopsis of the later for your own education:

His very example shows the weakness in his argument.  The use of organic is mainly a marketing term as there isn't any regulation on the term itself.  Plus the actual term organics is mainly used to reduce overall food production and to create hysteria to scare people from using genetic alternatives that will save lives (ex. golden rice) due to fear and the mob mentality.

Impact of Talk

From a marketing perspective, the best thing is to create a socially conscious term and use it for marketing purposes. Ultimately it's about presenting a good experience and one that provides a specific focus.


So what are your thoughts?

Is the technology possible by reducing distraction and developing closer relationships, or is it a pipe dream?.

Feel free to leave a comment below.  I'm curious about your feedback.

#socialmedia #technology #distraction

Social Media Analysis #1 - Going Viral - Social not Medical

I have to write a few blogs on several ted talks for a class I'm taking, so putting them here so I can best understand them and reference them at a later date:

Nguyen, D. 2017. What Makes Something Go Viral? TED Talk. 


The thesis of this presentation is twofold:

  • Anticipation creates virality.  The idea of creating a feeling of a sudden action that hasn't arrived yet will bring a greater degree of interest for any project.
  • However, the main part of the presentation was the idea of cultural cartography.  The idea was don't just think about the content, but figure out how it applies what they are thinking and to be able to present it and present it on how is it helping our users do a real job in their lives?

It included this handy, dandy image to show the interrelationship of presenting your content to your audience

It is broken down into the following base categories:

  1. Humor
  2. This is me (self-deprecating)
  3. This is us 
  4. It helps you learn something about yourself.

Examples used:

It began is live streaming of goats in BuzzFeed office on their boss.  Because it took time to present, there was a delayed response that increased the audience to 90,000.

They then were followed up with an attempt to duplicate its effect.  They dressed two people in hazmat suits and wrapped rubber bands around watermelons until they popped. This was a facebook live event that included many hits.  they got 800,000 people to watch it successfully.

The main presentation was the use of 32 memes to send to your sister immediately, which apparently had enough 3 million views by taping into the following cultural cartography categories: this is us, connects with family, makes me laugh.

The next presentation was "Pick your footwear and we'll guess your age and height.  This went viral with 55 and up women who were surprised and delightful that they were 28 and 5'9."  It was not accurate, but it empowered their viewers to perform a humblebrag.

We end the examples on the recipe: They wanted to hit the following bubbles: Job - > ingredient - > recipe.  This led to the fudgiest brownies ever that empowered their viewers together on the baking.

Interest and Appeal

I did like the usage of a structure to present data on how it can be used overall in a presentation.

Impact of Talk 

I'm finding a real disconnect in what they are presenting.  The name of the game for their case samples is absurdity more so than social contract and using their cultural cartography as a rationale for their overall results.

To quote from our previous social media best practices, it feels it's emphasis is more so on Awareness and Engagement media, but in its current state, it does little in converting to Conversion metrics.

This is to not say it isn't useful, but rather mostly can be used to generate the first step in any social media presence rather an overall plan.


So what are your thoughts?

Will this base model work for your own social media presentations.

Feel free to leave a comment below.  I'm curious about your feedback.

#socialmedia #viral #buzzfeed

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

MLSS: Vs. Stranger Stuff - Part 1 - the 100 Meter Laxative Dash
We try our hand at the kids on bikes genre.

So after creating a sleepy cheese town with a scarry gazebo, we had a slice of life episode where the juvenile delinquent and the nerd show why bullying them is a seriously bad idea (it involved laxatives).

#strangerthings #rpg #trpg

Sunday, September 22, 2019

MLSS - Eschaton - Part 3 - Let loose the Spuds of War

We cause a change of political position on Sherwood Asteroid using potatoes.

We found out about a depressed group of anti-theocratic secret service that is surprisingly chatty.

Little John is an evil mastermind who likes fluffy critters. :)

and planet dirt will never be the same, as we take down Todd.

#eschaton #pbta #robinhood #spacepolitics

Sunday, September 15, 2019

MLSS - Eschaton - Part 2 - Strobing Saviors

After a misadventure involving making a moon into a strobe light, we find that friends don't let friends eat their friends.

Here is a link of the game if you wish to try the game.

#eschaton #pbta #robinhood #spacepolitics

Sunday, August 18, 2019

Sunday, August 11, 2019

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Sunday, April 14, 2019

Uranium Chef - Part 1 - Have You Been Pooped?

We start a shiny new game where we go to the depths of our creativity to have a 3-way culinary showdown between a monocellular organism, a legally distinct small robot boy, and a legendary muppet collective.

Sunday, March 24, 2019

Custodians of the Galaxy - Episode 1 - Dirty Low Down Cheating Snake
In our premiere episode, we learn serpents and cheating downmix (mainly due to fires).

oh and we get thrown in jail to start the adventure (They made an offer they cannot refuse, mainly due to the script).

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Monday, February 4, 2019

Riddles and Puzzles in Gaming and Dungeons and Dragons in particular.

This has been a white whale of mine.

I like the ideas of puzzles, but there are issues regarding using them in most games.

The problem with puzzles is 1. they either get solved trivially or 2. they stop your game dead.

So this is an attempt to integrate puzzles in a way that uses a level gauge to make them easier to use.

I have no idea if this will work, so this is a bit of a thought experiment.

1. Integrate: Make sure the puzzle is added to a normal encounter/skill challenge that can either make it easier or harder depending on the PC's actions.  That way it's more like a condiment than the main course.  They should be able to cut the Gordian Knot if it isn't working and continue onwards.

2. Using Real Life gauges with CR: It will affect the CR by adding a puzzle.  It hit me like a ton of bricks what can be used.


Using children's ages to get an idea of how much a CR should be added.

so here's a rough idea:

children 3 years  = cr +1
children 4-5 = cr +2
children 6-8 = cr +3

I don't think any harder ones will be listed until we confirm if these categories work as they will most likely need to be adjusted.

Here's a link to see if it works:

3. Traps are your Base: We already have a method of explaining cr for adverse effects: Traps.  I would use either the DM's guide or Xanathar's Guide to everything trap gauge with the CR if it has any adverse effects and use the trap metric if they find a creative resolution either by using skill checks (aka investigation) or damage if they fail.

4. No Single Point of Failure:  If it is that important, it needs to be given independently of any puzzle or created into a conceptual treasure (such as you solved puzzle #A, so now it's marked in your treasure list).  I wouldn't do more then five characters if you want to spell something out to reduce frustration with the letters.

5. The Rule of Three:  have three different ways to give an answer or solution for any clues on any puzzle or riddle.  Examples include, but are not limited to: books with pages, mnemonic devices spoken by NPCs (and gives a great chance for those sneaky characters to hear over clues), and a sage on retainer whom can "work on the problem" while you work out other issues.

6. Minimize Red Herrings:  If you have any doubts, don't put red herrings in your puzzles.  All they do is a waste of time and annoy your players.  If you use one, keep it to one per adventure.  PCs have this ability to make things too difficult as it is.

7. Write it down: Flat out have your PCs write stuff down if important.  Don't be obtuse that it's a riddle.

8. Use keywords:  Parties will inevitably overthink the problem, so use keywords as clues to simplify the puzzle especially if they go down a tangent.  We have them for conditions and damage types, so use them as pointers.

9.  Hardest Puzzles First: Do the hardest puzzles at the beginning of the game session.  Everybody's fresh and they are more likely to find it fun.

10. Theme:  Make sure the puzzle fits the theme of the dungeon/location.  If it comes out of nowhere, it makes the puzzle more difficult.

11. Character Participation:  If you are writing it for a party, that becomes way easier as you know the strengths and weaknesses.  However, a good rule of thumb is if you are writing something where you don't know the party composition, to flat out say what it contains so it's not a surprise and make sure the prebuilds have the appropriate skills.

If a game is likely to involve puzzles, generally discourage players from creating characters who are much dumber than the player is in real life.  If their character should be much smarter, give them clues and/or rolls to get around it.

If the characters have divination spells that make sense, use them to reduce the nature of the puzzle.  ex. If they use Guidance, they get a hint.

12. Team Effort:
The puzzle or riddle should involve everybody if possible.  Nobody likes to feel like they aren't doing anything.

Type of Puzzles:

1. Riddles: Since the riddle is one of those most common fantasy puzzles since the Hobbit, everybody wants to use them:

Besides the above rules, thinking I would do the following:
a. always use one that can easily accessible from the internet.
b. I'd pretty much use CR +1 for the base
c. If a character makes a high enough int or related skill check, I would point them at the answer via the internet.  If your gaming without internet, I'd scroll the answer on a small sheet of paper and let them flip it over.  
d. The riddle itself should be a clue or other "enhancement"  that gives them an advantage in a future encounter, even if it is just giving inspiration or advantage in a particular situation.

2. Mechanical Puzzles:
Whether a Rubiks cube or a jigsaw puzzle, the idea is to physically assemble something in the real world. This has the problem that the DM cannot just handwave it without having it hang over the party.  It's probably better just to treat it as a pattern puzzle for all involved.

3. Pattern Puzzles:
Whether it is a series of gems, buttons or a certain set of musical keys from Goonies, these are puzzles where you have to put or push objects in a particular order.  I would do a skill challenge if they aren't into it as a backup (using investigation, perception and any appropriate artistic skills as a base).

A personal favorite is the checkerboard floor that has a pattern to cross.

4. Situation Puzzle:
These are the puzzles where one person has the answer (in this case the GM) and the pcs asking questions until completed.  I'd keep any such puzzles as a maximum of 20 questions and restrict any questions as "yes/no." 

I would still treat it as a fairly low cr basis if used independently of an encounter, but it should be short enough for the resolution to be able to stand on its own.


Since dnd is based on a gauge, I'm going to keep fiddling with it.  Expect this post to change over time.

It might be because I just got the following book, How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business, and am curious if a similar procedure could be used in gaming to make puzzles more formulaic.

 #dnd, #5e,

Monday, January 28, 2019

Greek Mechology - Part 4 - Automatia and Special Equipment

“The Greeks were known for their brains, the Romans known for their drains.”
- Anonymous.

Technology varies widely in this world.  Some locations are effectively the stone age.  Otherwise, are automated to the point where it’s approaching the modern quality of life.  The theater drove technological innovation by such greats as Pythagoras and Ptolemy (who are sort of around) who defined musical rules and regulations.

If there is a way it differentiates from our own timeline, it is the change in mentality.  In the original history, most of these automatons were little more than toys and rarely intended for practical application.  It only takes one person to change this mentality and that person is Archimedes.  By surviving, he acted as a catalyst for a change in technology.

This is further enhanced by 1st Punic war.  It was far worse than in our timeline, and they didn’t get the massive influx of slaves, so it stirred the automation catalyst.

Furthermore, the shades of the past allowed certain knowledge to not be lost, so it was then expanded on.

But ultimately, it was a simple change in thought allowed for all the pieces to be brought together: cross-indexing.  Nobody is quite sure where it came, but the development of reference scrolls that allowed the sorting of material not only in alphabetical order but also in categories.  It has allowed creativity to create associations for new and exciting ways that spurred technology.

The Technology of the era.

The Aeolipile:

(Gts-tg - CC BY-SA 4.0)

This was originally conceived by Hero of Alexandria.  This was the first steam turbine.  It performed a simple task and levitated a sphere above a jet of steam.  Archimedes was given a couple of these machines as part of his surrender and learned that the steam could be used to push a fan in a circle, thus allowing a device to be propelled, then combined with screws, nuts, levels, gears, pistons and pumps allowed for great versatility.

The Antikythera Mechanism

(Gts-tg - CC BY-SA 4.0)

This was the 1st Analog computer and it is a machine that originally used gears to predict the movement of astral bodies decades in advance.  Unlike in our timeline, this device was duplicated and innovated to use such clockwork, thus allowing analog devices to drive wondrous devices, often programmed by a drum with pins.     

Auto-drawing Lathe.

This copying device has been automated with a rudimentary mechanism with a photocopier to allow ideas to be transferred via scrolls.


The plating of metal was incredibly prolific.  It has allowed the development of grinding up of metals into grains smaller than sand and then fuse them to a medium to produce subatomic effects.  While originally performed with precious metals, it has expanded to use a wide variety of more conventional metals. 

This has allowed plating on objects to essentially have them change color depending on the light and has been used in military application to provide camouflage.  

They also have used phosphorous to shield metal underneath from weather effects and has experimented with strange metals to make weapons with unconventional material (ex. Rare earth metals) to enhance their combatant properties.

Electrostatic Battery

These reinforced jugs contain electric rays and provide a rudimentary charge that can use as a catalyst for many types of machinery. 

Stentorophonic tube

Setup along Greece and Rome at military forts and often are used as means of sending messages quickly as well as listening posts.


These paved tracks were originally developed in Diolkos.  While originally of limited use, combining this with the aeolipile development has allowed a steam engine that gives rapid movement of goods and rapid deployment by defense forces.  Such tracks Crisscross the Italia Peninsula and the Greek Leagues.   These are in particular the pride of the Achaean League as they have used this to dominate their neck of the woods.

Vending Machines

These were originally used to dispense holy water in the temples of Egypt thanks to the legendary hero of Alexandria.  The toy war caused them to spread far and wide for objects that are generally nonperishable in areas of high traffic.   They are particularly prolific in Egypt, Greece, and Rome.

Automata of Note


(pic from clash of the titans)

These mechanical owls are designed to act as a helper and apprentice.  They are small and clockwork.  They look to be made of gold, but in fact seem to be plated with a more common shiny substance.


This is strange automation that is used for that most difficult of operations:  namely the landing of troops from sea and land.  It has a Greek Fire spray and then uses its fairly low profile to drop off troops on the beaches for any and all invasions.  It has been adopted by all Greek powers and even the Carthaginians have adopted these to ensure control of the sea.


                                        (Talos from Jason and the Argonauts)

While these are few and far between, these huge statues are automated as guardians.  They are usually designed to be somewhat amphibious and often use ocean waters to reduce heat issues.  The driver rides in the head.   Noteworthy Colossus are in Alexander, Athens, Rhodes, and Rome.

Dolium Duarum Laminarum

This is a barrel with a rotating blade that circles as it moves.  It is a cheap means to tear through infantry in enclosed areas: just wind it up and let it rip.


This man-sized automata are designed to supplement standard infantry.  They are expensive to maintain, but often are great for mopping up troops.  They are armed with retractable spears and shields, but often contain chest weapons for ranged attacks.


These dog-sized mechanical beetles are an invention of Alexandria.  While they can be used for warfare, but also used in mining operations for their digging capabilities.

Weapons of note

Archimedes Claw 

Imagine a gargantuan crane with a grappling hook used to pull down ships.  This was originally used in Syracuse, but the Romans have adapted this to their automation as a means of allowing them to grapple their opponents at range and to climb.  It is mounted on the arm, but its winch and spool are mounted on the back to reduce strain on their machines.


This automated repeating straight string catapult fires heavy arrows in succession has been augmented with the crank has been put on a piston track, allowing a hail of arrows that is easily moved by chariot, or even more bizarre constructs.

Auger Spear

This wind-up rotating drill-like blade on a short stick is good at catching enemies’ blades and breaking them, as well as helping with penetrating armor. Produced in mass, they are the default weapon of most modern infantries. 

Retractible Emota Tridenti

Originally a means to have some sort of polearm on the march, it somehow gained popularity with Women fighters as it provides reach and leverage.  It is an electroplated segmented pole with three blades that can easily retract into a baton for easy carrying.  It has two buttons, one that merely extends the blades for close quarter fighting and when that telescopes the handle to act as a polearm.

Greek Fire

This alchemical formula may or may not have been originally been created by the Greeks, this napalm-like substance sprays like a sticky oil and lights them ablaze.  It is a weapon of war that is currently sprayed not unlike a modern-day flamethrower.

Also, Barrels filled with sulfur, naphtha, and niter are either fired by catapult or floated as a weapon of denial. 

Heat Ray Packs

Archimedes pride and joy that allowed the defense of Syracuse for a while, its secrets have been rolled into the Roman forces.  While it was originally believed to be polished surfaces, it is, in fact, crystal light amplification creating a laser that can be used to ignite the fire or cauterize wounds.   It has been shrunk down to a backpack-sized weapon that allows Romans a unique advantage.   If it were not for the requirements of certain rare materials, they would be standard.  Instead, they are used in specialized legions controlled by generals and are used as shock troops.

Land Mines

Earthenware jars are often buried originally to make quicksand to create areas where infantry can move over, but larger vehicles will sink into the earth.  This is sometimes enhanced by the use of Greek fire contained in such canisters.

Steam Gun

While fairly slow, they act not unlike a pot that boils over.   Shooting a blast of steam through a pipe, allows a fist-sized bronze ball to hit with high velocity. They are mounted on Automata and defenses.

Vehicles of Note

Armored Steam Chariots

This one-man chariot is best described as a two-wheeled dune buggy powered by a rudimentary clockwork engine and with descent Shock-Absorbers.  Its speed and maneuverability allow an incredibly maneuverable ranged weapon platform.  The Romans have begun to use these in formations as a sort of killer segway cavalry.

Icarus Machine

Daedalus and his nephew Talus are rumored to have made his machine, and their shades revealed this knowledge.  It is essentially a one-man frame covered in feathers and frames that when launched from a height and then are propelled using a mixture of chemicals.  While masters claim to say they can stay up for hours, the truth is the average practitioner has roughly 10 minutes before gravity inevitably prevails.

Land Galley

(artist - triggerhappy from

This vehicle seems to be the main defense of war machinery.   It is a vehicle with treads used for transporting and patrolling along the main roadways.

Scythed Chariot

Originally a Persian attempt to stop the heavy Greece Phalanx of Alexander the great, it has been updated to use rotating steam blades to penetrate tight formations.

Semaphore Wagons

These retractable wagons are easily wheeled and popped up to allow long-distance communications.  Both the Greeks and Romans are notorious for changing their codes on a regular basis.  They are built around an iron stove that blows smoke or fire depending on the time of day for long-range communications.

Wall Wagon

This collapsible wagon is designed to pop out at an instant, not unlike a tent trailer, but reinforced with heavy wood and iron, allowing for both relative comfort and instant defenses.  These are a new addition to Roman Legions as they increase range and reduce logistical issues.


Monday, January 21, 2019

Greek Mechology - Part 3 - The World - Greece and Enemies (Including other Greeks)

(thanks to Triggerhappy and Undeadfrog from spacebattles/sufficient for the inspiration)


Greece is in turmoil.  There are multiple factions vying for dominance in the new era, while other independent city-states and factions try to play off the powers that be.


The former homeland of Alexander the Great, they are fighting tooth and nail to retain control of the Greek Peninsula.   They are having problems adapting to the new era, most notably because it seems like every two-bit commander claims to be the successor to Alexander the Great, creating rivalries that will not give up in the phalanx as a base unit.

However, while limited by treaties, they have turned to sponsor privateers to weaken their foes at sea.

What is particularly of note is they have created a massive fortification around Mount Olympia and claim to be the protectors of the gods, even if the gods often dispute this claim.

There is also a rumor that the ruling family is a snake cult that comes from a time long before the time of humanity.  So far, this is unfounded, but the rumors persist.


The young Pyrrhus II has claimed the throne of the region, this land of small villages is essentially the Greek frontier and broken by Pyrrhus’ ancestor, who reached the outskirts of Rome at great cost.   Believed to be possessed by his ancestor who wants a do-over.  It is a place of strong religious belief and 2nd chances and is often a place where outcasts and outsiders go when they aren’t sure where else to be.

At Dodona, the oracle of Zeus has expressed their favor by clouding the location in a massive thunderstorm, only allowing knowledge to those that are worthy.

Aetolian League:

The Aetolian League was the first to form and while considered semi-barbaric by their neighbors, they are the dominant state of Central Greece.  They are driven to a position to upset Macedon and are currently weighing their options to ally with either Carthage or Rome.  They have abandoned the Phalanx for a more wave style of warfare, where they prefer cheap automation with interchangeable parts over using citizen armies.

They have the mighty oracle of Delphi under their heel, but the Oracle keeps warning of a war that "all will lose."

(For the purposes of this post, the Role of the Oracle of Delphi will be played by Bea Arthur, a more age-appropriate Oracle).


While nominally associated with the Aetolian League, they are their own city-state and often do things in the name of the state and “the gods”.  Just about their entire soldier caste is merged with the shades of the gods (most commonly Hercules and Leonidas) to become a society of demigods.

Achaean League:

The Achaean League, similarly, had existed for centuries as a loose religious association before it reformed itself in 280 on the same lines as the Aetolian League.  This is a strange unification of such ancient and legendary cities of Argos.  It dominates the Peloponnese through the use of mercenaries.  They rely on their mobility of their citizen soldiers to repel invaders, using both rails and small automation.


The ancient city of the Hydra has regenerated.  The beast itself is now a mixture of the serpent and the mechanical thanks to the power of interchangeable parts.  The animation of beast and machine has made it a perpetual guardian, but it demands regular sacrifices for its services.  Its minions are known as it's heads and is sent out on its behalf.  These forces are difficult to route out as they are always working behind the scenes.


Is one of the prominent members of this league and considers it’s automation that of the new Spartoi or "Sown Men."  While destroyed by Alexander the Great, it has been restored using a blueprint and is one of the most orderly cities in Greece.  It is also a place where it’s police force is completely automated in the name of public order.  They were traditionally Cavalry, but have adapted this tradition to small steam chariots.  They still have that contrary and bullheaded nature that made them famous, and often looks over old innovations in the hopes of finding something new "just to show them."

The Athneo-Knossos Alliance:

At one point two powers were going to go to blows, but instead of getting into a fight, they got into a debate that lasted days.  Once exhausted from the discussion, they ended up making an alliance that dominates the Aegean Sea and a lot of those city-states that are dependent on it, not unlike a federation.


The birthplace of innovation, naval power, and Automation and has regained long lost power and dominance.  It is the Greekpunk city of wonder and conformity.  They are also essentially the town you go to make it big in the theater and more then one vigilante organization has used these skills and technology developed to fight or commit crime throughout the ancient world.


The land of Philosopher Minotaurs whom species is the fusion of the spirits of Daedalus and the Minotaur who conquered Crete through brains and brawn.  They consider themselves the Platonic ideal and have a bad temper to those that point out their inconsistencies.


The Island kingdom is known for having the greatest Colossus in the ancient world.  It wades into the depths of the water driven by heroes to keep the Aegean safe from sea monsters.  But there is a nasty rumor that there are organic sea serpent components in the mighty Colossus.

Other powerful allies in this federation are Pergamum and Byzantium.

The Trojan Necropolis:

This town was found by a couple of freebooting adventures, that the shades of this dead city immediately possessed them.  They then began to offer themselves as a waystation but continued to possess travelers until the population of Troy has arisen again as their personalities were rewritten by beings of legend, abet with a slight green tint.  It is a step back in time, with huge ancient walls, and a dedication to getting revenge on the Greeks and the Romans (whom they consider an insult they claim their ancestry).   Poseidon is their patron god now, after the horse fiasco, and it prepares it's deadly hippocampus forces that merge the dead and machine.  Troy never forgets.


This fabled city of the Amazons are one of the staunchest allies of the Trojans and are often responsible for kidnapping new hosts for them.  Their city contains the legendary Temple of Artemis and it influences the actions of the entire city: namely that of the hunt and moon.  They have been rumored to have strange, secret technology that allows them to track when others would give up and are one with the night.


This mountain fortress in Asia Minor was virtually impregnable, but instead of conquering most of Asia Minor, it instead had underwent possession by the Trojans and has become an important base for them as a rallying point for their own purposes.


(special thanks to Incognito from for this one).

Horseman tribes and confederacies are bound to these grasslands as they are dominated by the bloodline that merged a dragoness and the mighty Heracles that mated during one of his many adventures. Purity has been key by the rules to preserve this bloodline which allows the draconic features to manifest.  Their lack of unity is the only thing stopping the rise of the dragon, but for how long?

The Seleucid Empire:

The dominant power of the Middle East, it is on the decline.  Its feudal structure allowed political vibrancy, but it also has affected the stability as local rulers become rebellious vassals.  It has lost territory to its neighbors but is currently going through a revival through Antiochus III the Great.  He plans to raise an army like the world has ever known and just simply march east and drown them in sheer numbers and teamwork. This includes supernatural creatures such as ogres, manticores and even stranger creatures of power.


The center of the Seleucid Empire, this is a young city of opulence. Built as the choke point for the middle east, this is where the forces are amassing to move out east.  It is the city of the Jinn which influence the city using their knowledge of the legal code to wield their supernatural power.


This city was ancient even by these eras standards, it is currently abandoned. Plant life has taken over this city and it's rumored that some of the plant life is sentient enough to be amassing forces within.


The Graveyard of empires is a little too literal. It teams with shades that are unsure of their heritage (due to the surprisingly high Greek population in this neck of the woods), who have deteriorated into ghouls. They would be a danger to all if Antiochus hadn't come to a "working agreement" which is rumored to be his ace in the hole for his own schemes.  They are also a focal point of the silk road and use the Oxus river as a weapon of commerce along with huge mud brick walled cities.

Egypt/The Ptolemaic Kingdom:

This ancient land was conquered by Ptolemy I, the childhood friend of Alexander the Great and he still rules.  While he died over 80 years ago, he arose from the dead and repossessed his original body.  The mummification process gave him eternal life and he has been cannibalizing mummies, temples, and artifacts to only increase his power as Pharaoh.


While many cities claim this name, the one in Egypt is the one people refer to.  It is a place of writing and is the place of cosmopolitan, 2nd only to Rome in sheer size.

It is probably best known for its library.  While there is some modern skepticism whether it existed in history, it exists in this world and is a place where all knowledge ends up: you just need to know where to look.  Whether you survive is another matter entirely as the library is a very dangerous place for the ignorant.

Isthmus of Suez: 

One of Ptolemy's many projects.  He has hired some Roman contractors to dig a canal to allow access from the Mediterranean to the Red sea using Steam Technology.  If completed, it will allow an unprecedented amount of prosperity and control over trade.  But there are many that are trying to sabotage this endeavor.


This ancient city of the Egyptians is the religious center and has undergone a renaissance of sorts. This is the city that Alexander the Great has been entombed, at least for now, and is the city of a thousand gods.  A side effect of this city is the sheer number of ancient shades, and not all are happy with the new regime.  The people of the nearby Set maat (the place of truth), the town of artisans, is home to what can be described as "shade stoppers" that are sent throughout the Kingdom and beyond.


While not a location, there is this persistent urban legend of note.  A minor Pharoah was missed during the magical cannibalism of Ptolemy.  He was resurrected by his shade and now wanders Egypt and beyond, looking for resources and force of arms to reclaim his kingdom.

Ankhar the Defiant

Claiming to be the son of Ra, this mighty hero runs around the world looking to right justice with a large toothy grin.  The Greeks compare him to a Hecatoncheires for his giant size, mighty strength and ferocity in combat, but he isn't the brightest and often gets into trouble because of it.


This land far to the north beyond the Northwind.  While often depicted as a utopia, it is closer to a land of fire, kept warm by the magma flows from the volcanoes that isolate this region.  The circular temple to Apollo is occupied by a multi-headed dragon that sleeps, forever guarding the golden apples that grow in the rich volcanic soil.  These apples are rumored to be an ever-burning fuel source.

It is rumored that it's mainly the twisting currents that make people think it's that far north, and in fact, it might be Iceland.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Greek Mechology - Part 2 - The World - Rome and Friends


The Italia Peninsula is both smaller and greater then they have ever been.  Without the constant slaves of conquest, Rome has been forced to rely on automation for the mines and the fields.  Still, Rome and its allied states have learned from the blood and iron used in the 1st Punic Wars.  All roads still lead to Rome as thousands flock to the city for a better life.


It is mostly occupied by the Romans, but the Greeks and Carthage inhabitants are always providing resistance.  It is a place that is like the Vietnam war that gives dread to those troops that get this tour of duty.

Mt. Edna:

Ancestral home of Hephestus, this is one of the largest Cyclops colonies on the planet.  These master smiths were rumored to be friends of Archimedes and have picked up a few of his tricks with their mastery of lightning and magma.  They also invented the Donair.


Carthage survived relatively intact from the 1st Punic wars. The worship of Baal allowed young impressionable shades that had been sacrificed to help in the protection of this mighty empire.  It currently controls the northern African coast, Corsica, Sardinia and the southern tip of the Iberian Peninsula (where they have a working relationship with the monstrous entity Scylla who lives by the pillars of Hercules).


Ruled by a woman that claims to be Medusa, queen of the desert. Her nomadic minions cover themselves from head to toe and raid their neighbors: Carthage and Egypt.  They are considering an alliance with Rome but are wary of dealing with the Patriarchy.

Iberian Peninsula:

The rest of the Peninsula is Centaur Territory.  After being morphed by a curse done by the Carthage (that loosely went "if you like horses so much, you can be one."), they have adapted by setting up a logistical network of way stations across Europe for communications.   They attempt to hold their primal nature by using music and poetry to provide a focus, which results in some truly amazing entertainers that scour the lands.


This proud people once sacked Rome and Rome has never forgotten it. The Druidic Consul holds sway and is masters of alchemy, often using strange potions on fearless troops to create monsters dedicated to acting as guardians of the land.


This land is the Atlantis of this world.  Very little is known about this world, even the nearby Gauls give it a wide birth.  What is known is it is a location of huge Standing Stones, strange blue-white light lines of immense magical energy and a surprising amount of sheep, always watching.


 A Pythagoras cult (complete with a Pythagoras shade) has taken over the Matterhorn and have built a mathematical wonderland, complete with automated monsters.

Automation provides warm running water, but it runs a contest once a year for initiates.

They have a working agreement with Hannibal, which allowed significantly more troops and elephants to cross the alps in this timeline with relative ease.


Here be Giants, which was rumored to have migrated from the north and settled here.  While their populations aren't large, they have managed to raise huge paddocks of sheep to live off of.  Runes and ritual are very important to these monsters.  They commonly hire themselves as mercenaries for anybody if the price is right.  However, they are beginning to slow, but surely learn the ways of the south and are trying to organize themselves into a mighty kingdom that will dominate the continent.

Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Greek Mechology - Part 1 - Overview

This is an idea I've been stewing on off and on and decided to flesh it out to see if interest to develop further.

It's essentially its own sandbox of the Ancient world, with a few twists to make it different.


One of the defining moments of the settings is just after the 2nd Punic wars.

1. Archimedes of Syracuse is captured, rather than killed.
2. He's then sent to Alexandria with his new patron as a "wonderous consultant" and expands on the knowledge there.
3. He finds out about the aeolipile and refines it with the knowledge of the day.
4. These toys win favor at court.
5. Athens takes issue and starts a "toy war" with Alexandria
6. with this rivalry pushing innovation, within 50 years, it allows the Greeks to push back the Roman expansion for a while with automatic as well as low-grade rail transportation.

This is an ancient world where technology managed to be driven to mythic levels and has changed a lot of how the world works, for good and ill.

Rome, while powerful, hasn't reached it's insane empire building levels yet, mainly due to its rivals stealing state secrets and developing their own weapons and countermeasures.

Shades of the Past

Hades/Pluto must have opened the gates because of this blood because the spiritual dead are surprisingly common.

Some claim to be fragments of the gods, some claim to be great figures of history and it's very hard to confirm which shades are telling the truth.

While the mainstay is Greco-Roman, every culture of the ancient world has had this occur causing the need for inter-pantheon politics through the possessed Council, an international organization dedicated to deruffling feathers with varying degrees of success.

While they can do little directly to affect the current world, they can use worshipers and ride them, not unlike the voodoo tradition, while offering mystical insight and power.

(Heck it is rumored that the Shades of great scientists and builders of the past is the reason why the ancient world has gone through such innovation as cults seek to out tech each other until they are grabbed by the local authorities).

Sometimes it comes as incantations, other times comes as essentially superpowers, but there is usually a trade-off to control such power and makes many superstitions have real power, at least in their jurisdiction.

This has caused many historical figures to play a prominent role long after their deaths.  Although it does make people somewhat blasse whenever yet another "Alexander the Great" or "Hercules" comes to town.

For example, there is a feud where a shade of Socrates has accused a shade of Plato of corrupting his words and using his mouthpieces, causing a feud between the Socratic Order and the Philosopher kings that has been going on since the return of the shades and it's only going to get worse from here.

This also allows many people who were relatively mundane in life and forced to walk the living world to setup mystery cults or agreements with adventurers to make something of their afterlife
(which can even include former player characters).

Sometimes these Shades end up mutating the living, resulting in the transformation of entire people into mythical creatures, both monstrous and playable, many of which are still trying to find their place in life, which often leads to the multicultural center
that is Rome.

Now the Punk

The punk aspect would be patrons in all cultures, but especially Rome, owning most of the pie by being able to trace it to the founding of the republic.

A lot of the others have hereditary kings that claim to go back to divinity.

Your characters are the plucky upstarts that have to wade through the various power plays of both external and internal politics while wondering where your next meal is, at least at first. :)

Additionally, a lot of underground cultures based on ideas, professions (such as the firemen of Rome) and mystery cults that "do your own thing" as contrast and potential political upheavals.

It gets worse if a shade gets a liking to you.   Suddenly, you have a fragment of the gods/ancients/spirit and are usually considered "unfit" by your betters.  Whether they exploit or exterminate you, they will consider you beneath them unless you can bring them to heel.


Disneys Aladdin (because Mechanicles started it all)
Hercules (1983)
Hercules vs the Moonmen
History Bites
Hardcore History: Dan Carlin (Punic Nightmares, Death Throes of the Republic, Celtic Holocaust, King of Kings)
Rinse the Blood off my Toga (a Wayne and Shuster Special).
Rome (HBO Special)
The History of Rome (Michael Duncan)
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (Edward Gibbon)
The Storm before the Storm (Michael Duncan)
Into the Lands of Bones-  Alexander the Great in Afghanistan - Frank L. Holt