February 27, 2024 armour magic item flatboat

Man-Suits of the Flatboat People

When a child has stopped growing, those who wish to live as men must be initiated. First they must find a Shaman 1 and beg from them the use of a team of flesh-boring beetles. They may be rejected and try again elsewhere. Those consistently rejected, or who do not wish to try, live forever as children or become women, subject to their own inductions.

With the team of beetles stored in a gourd or clay-lined hide, they may gather as many of their mothers, sisters and siblings as are willing to aid them. This band sets out as a hunting party to seek an Old Man of the Forest [3HD, AC as Leather, 1d6+1 Damage] of the right size. Such beings can smell men coming, and always flee before them. The Old Man of the Forest must be captured alive, with as few injuries as possible. Bound and held prostrate, the prospective man must decapitate the Old Man in a single strike. If this fails, any in the hunting party are allowed to try and finish the job, earning the right to be a man if successful. 2

With the head removed, the flesh-boring beetles must be introduced to the neck, chewing their way through the organs and viscera of the skin, hollowing it out. The man in the making must guide them with a stick that they do not chew a hole in the skin and escape, as well as retrieving them once their work is done.

With the skin is hollowed out, the man must don their suit for the first time, abandoning their child-name and dubbing themselves anew. They must then travel home in the raw suit, before being sealed away in their new home to have the matters of Manhood taught to them whilst the skin is bathed in smoke and the skin is stretched and cut to be fit for use. After five days, they will never be seen outside their homes without their Man-Suit. Only their wives, husbands and children will see them naked, as they were when a child.

The Man-Suit protects against spiritual warfare - hexes and curses struggle to take root in such poor soil that they may never bear their poison fruit. It offers some protection against physical threats too, although many wear hides from the crocodiles of the river to protect their borrowed skins.

AC as Leather.
Worn by a member of the Flatboat People, it is as a second skin - allowing additional armour to be worn too.
When a man of the Floatboat People is wearing his Man-Suit, he saves vs Spells as if 4 levels higher.

  1. Shaman is an approximate translation - the term can be broadly understood to refer to any practitioner of magic, with various honorifics or qualifiers used to differentiate sorcerers, witches, divine fools etc. Notably, the lack of qualifier was consistent when referring to the individual from whom the beetles are sought. No man was willing to speak of the cost nor favours owed for the use of the beetles.↩︎

  2. Whilst we did find some men who told that they had gained manhood this way, having lived as women before, none would explain if the child would be allowed to try again or if such was forbidden.↩︎

January 20, 2024

When Entering a Polity…

Whenever the PCs enter the domain of a lord, government, municipal council etc etc, roll 1d10. If this is under the average level of the PCs, they are summoned to court.

1d8 Reasons for Summons
1 Paranoia as to their reasons for being here.
2 Prospective job offer.
3 Desire of the power to associate itself with powerful and notable individuals.
4 Assessing the party as potential destabilisers of the status quo.
5 Desire of the power to assert dominance through issuing orders - with possible humiliation awaiting at court.
6 Plans to induct them into the power structure through appointment, marriage, titles etc.
7 Consequences of prior involvement with the power, its rivals or allies.
8 Confirmation of rumours about the party.
9 Throwing a feast (or other festival) to accrue honour-debt/obligation from the party. 50% chance they already have a specific use for this debt in mind.
0 Taxation, licensing or other such control mechanisms - possibly motivated by a lack of funding, or else a desire for control.

Or, you know, just roll Reaction and go with your gut.

October 25, 2023

Split Initiative

I’ve been doing a thing for a while in OSR Thinking Adventures style games I’ve been calling split initiative which I almost certainly read somewhere else and stole but here we are. Those of you using the Wolves rules have seen this before.

Basically at the beginning of each round of combat (or general dangerous time) each character rolls to get over/under some value. Those passing the check go before the monsters (or danger or whatever) and those failing go after. Simple as.

This adds a bunch of chaos - in the Wednesday game today this lead to all the high-level PCs going last, allowing a bunch of Level 1 characters to be killed by carrion crawlers. The easiest form of the check is just a d20 under Dexterity, although Wolves does d10 under AC - reinforcing the Armour-as-Class thing those rules are doing. If you wanted to decouple this from stats it could be as simple as roll 4+ to go first” on a d6, giving an even 50/50.

September 1, 2023 mentorship

Mentorship Applications Open


I am now open to submissions for round 5 of the mentorship scheme I’ve been running. This is done free of charge to give back to the wider TTRPG scene. Submissions sent before September 17th 2023 will be considered - anything sent after this is not eligible for this round.

As outlined in the retrospectives (see below) the mentorship consists of regular calls to discuss techniques as well as taking a critical look at other works in the TTRPG space.

The mentorship prioritises marginalised people, although everyone is welcome to apply.

Those who have applied for previous rounds, please send a new application (or re-send the old if nothing has changed).


I am working with writers to develop adventures and sourcebooks for use with games. I am focused on helping you take a set of ideas and developing that out into a first draft - both in terms of generating quality ideas, but also techniques to help with the writing process. Manuscripts in the early stages of writing are also considered, although projects which have already had a round of crowd-funding are not eligible.

I also help with finding resources for self-publishing, or for finding a publisher. Engagements last for a variable amount of time, although there will be regular check-ins to ensure we’re making good progress and that the mentorship is still right for all parties.

If wanted, all communications can be held with a third party present - just indicate this during the application process.


Below are links to the retrospectives: written by the mentees and myself.

Mentorship #1
Mentorship #4
Where the mentee was unable to provide their retrospective I’ve elected to not share my half either.


Before applying, please ask yourself if you can commit to an hour-long call a week and spending a few additional hours working on the material discussed in those calls. Ultimately the mentorship can only help you equal to the work you are able to put in. Be sure to read through the retrospectives to get an understanding of the format and process.

To apply, please send an email to .

In the subject line, please put your [Your Name] - Mentorship Application”

In the body, please introduce yourself with any links to prior work (not required, just useful to have). If you consider yourself marginalised, please mention this here (no details are required).

Then provide a pitch of your project as well as a summary of where you are with it and any issues you’ve been having.

Finally, if you have any thoughts around self-publishing or being published, that would be useful to know.

Thank you for taking the time to read this and for considering applying.

August 25, 2023

Traveller Animals for the Jungles

Needed an animal encounter table for a job the Travellers are taking in a jungle. The planet is being colonised and has a reputation for the hyper-predatory nature of the wildlife.

4+ on 1D to encounter, rolled twice per day.

2d6 Type (Pack Size) Size (in KG) Hits Damage Mod Damage Armour
2 Carrion Eater (7) 50kg 17 -1D as Blade None
3 Eater (3) 50kg 14 -1D as Halberd None
4 Reducer 25kg 11 -1D Thrasher None
5 Hunter 400kg 23 +2D as Broadsword as Cloth
6 Filter 25kg+ 11 n/a as Body Pistol as Jack
7 Gatherer 200kg 18 +1D Hooves, Teeth as Battle Armour
8 Chaser 400kg 21 +2D as Halberd None
9 Pouncer 1kg 5h -2 Posion Stinger None
10 Event 3d6 Colonists. 30% Lost, otherwise rebels.
11 Trapper 200kg 14 +1D as Pike None
12 Killer (5) 50kg 15 -1D as Blade None

The names are given by the colonists, although multiple terms are often used.

2 Ghoul”

Intermittent quadrupeds with over-long claws on their arms’. These are used to hew flesh from bone, scraping what gobbets are left after others have eaten their fill. If one of their number is injured, they stalk the offending party. Lightly furred, they shy away from the sun.

3 Mosscrab”

Huge claws for cracking bone and armour alike. Low to the ground, the size of small pigs. Their soft hides often bear symbiotic plant-life which gives them a degree of camouflage. Usually encountered in trios - one of which appears to be the child. If the child is killed, the parents’ attempt to drag the body away and bury it.

4 Treetongue”

Soft-bodied lengths of muscle which secrete bone-dissolving enzymes, Treetongues descend upon the carcasses left by the others, consuming the skeletal remains. They are also attracted to metals, although it seems to act as a slow poison - slow enough to give them time to thoroughly destroy engines and other complex machines.

5 Big Fucking Mantis”

The size of a horse with a tough chitin-clad body and scything arms. Noted to be very cannibalistic. Moves eerily quietly apart from their Tiger Dance’ - performed when the gas giant looms large in the sky.

6 Harpoon Slime”

A rolling bulk of cut-resistant slime which fires bony spines at animal life. The fallen leaves and ground-plants it consumes give it a pseudo-camouflage. The more spines are embedded in prey, the faster it moves - otherwise inching through the jungle floor. Leaves useful paths through the undergrowth.

7 Stone Giraffe”

A tall, slender-limbed being wrapped in bone-plated armour. Highly resistant to small-arms fire, it has been seen killing and eating animals unable to flee it’s long, loping stride. Otherwise it grazes upon the tall jungle canopy.

8 Centipede-Lizard”

Eight powerful limbs propel this reptilian behemoth through the trees, dextrously clambering over all obstacles in pursuit of prey. Rending teeth and a powerful jaw enable it to quickly tear apart those it catches - although long basking periods in rare clearings give much of the other life respite. The scales are nearly paper-thin, giving no protection - theorised to allow for easier basking.

9 Wasp”

Hiding in burrows of softer trees, Wasps jump from hiding to deploy their stingers. The poison in the sting causes humans to rapidly undergo powerful seizures before death - often from cardiac arrest causes by stress. Sufficient sedatives and induced coma has been successful, but requires fast action. Thankfully, the stingers struggle to penetrate anything thicker than light clothing.

11 ???”

No surviving reports from the colonists yet exist. Something like a giant starfish with a shovel-scoop mouth which it uses to dig covered pits wherein it waits for prey, easily carving off limbs with its excavator-mouth.

12 Nightmares”

Packs of vicious killers which kill large swathes of wildlife before gorging themselves on the devastation, resting for long periods of time. Each is the size of a hairless wolf, propelled by four short powerful limbs. Their mouths are filled with tiny, razor-sharp teeth at the end of long necks which they use to whip prey back and forth, cutting them to shreds. Their hairless bodies are a dull grey-green due to symbiotic algae which feeds on the gore in which they are often covered.

July 26, 2023 review traveller scifi

Prison Planet Review

Prison Planet is an adventure for Classic Traveller, first published in 1982 and credited to Erik Wilson, Dave Emigh, John Harshman, Chris Purcell and Rose Geier.

Something very striking about the early Traveller adventures is the total lack of uniformity. Many are nearly totally unrecognisable to the modern concept of an adventure whilst others prefigure some of the forms that became dominant later on - such as Adventure 09: Nomads of the World Ocean, released 1983 and being heavily plotted with many highly characterised NPCs. Adventure 08: Prison Planet is definitely the former.

The premise is extremely simple - the player characters, for whatever reason, have been sent to space-prison to mine radioactive ore. The simplicity of this is great - it can be introduced mid-campaign as a consequence for player actions, or a killer way to open a campaign. The rest of the book is dedicated to delivering the premise of a prison complex, detailing almost everything you need to run the prison and any attempts to escape it. There’s a map of the facility, most of which is underground due to the air being tainted - requiring a filter mask to move around outside. You’re also provided with a comprehensive breakdown of the prisoners and guards present - quickly revealing a significant disparity in numbers. One thing the module consistently does well is set up these clues and routes to escape without excitedly pointing at them - leaving it up to you (the referee) as much as the players to discover these wrinkles. Another of these is present on the map - a huge tank of spaceship fuel is kept right next to the laser-turret which guards the facility. There’s a number of these tantalising nuggets spread around - doubtless me and my players missed several. This stance towards the players and readers is extremely refreshing: throughout, the simple facts of the situation are presented without elaboration or knowing winks and nudges - with one glaring exception, discussed below.

Much of the actual play of the module is driven by a pair of tables, which specify Events and Encounters which occur to each work-group of PCs on a weekly basis. To add to the feel of a long-term incarceration, the speed of play zooms out’ to a weekly procedure wherein a couple of major occurrences happen, either globally or to that specific group. In play, this set up a push-and-pull between the proactive, player-led action and the reactive play of the Events and Encounters. Most of these require a little work to introduce organically, but once done a few times you quickly get to feel for it. I pre-rolled these before each session so I knew what was coming week-to-week. This speed up play and gave me more time to blend the events and encounters into the game.

One of the entries on the Event table - Incident - is one of the few missteps in the module. Rather than being a conventional, generic Event, the Incidents are a track of specified vignettes which happen sequentially - adding a degree of planned narrative. Th earlier entries are very heavy-handed tutorialising which felt extremely unnecessary, hammering home basic ideas like hiding contraband or bribing guards. The bulk are fine, and introduce some interesting aspects which could’ve been handled using the Events and Rumours before culminating in an escape-attempt-on-a-plate. This is disappointing considering the wonderful lack of interest in seeing PCs escape presented elsewhere in the module. In play I scrapped this listing of Incidents and instead used it as a faction turn’ for the gang in the PCs cellblock demanding things from them.

The NPCs are a highlight of the work being done for you by this module: 60 prisoners and 18 guards. All of these individuals have been assigned work areas and cellblocks, although indexing them as such would’ve been very useful. There’s a few prisoners with little going on, although almost all have at least one interesting wrinkle or alliance which makes them compelling in play without being difficult to use. Many of them having access to some rumours adds an easy way to track their knowledge, although using numbers to refer to each rumour means a look-up is required. Having a PDF open multiple times makes this easier; if I was running this in-person, I would definitely have printed out a copy of the Rumour pages. The Rumours once again have an interesting stance: specifically called out as being contradictory and occasionally false, there is no guide to which are true or false. This reasserts the module as disinterested in success or failure - only a statement of fact.

Once the players escape the prison facility itself, they have to tangle with the terrible conditions on the planet: unbreathable air, killing heat, and the occasional carnivorous animal stalking them in the wilderness. The Referee is given a hexmap of the planet (each hex being 540 kilometres) and a set of encounter tables for each type of terrain. Given each hex takes between 5 and 20 days to traverse, this seems like it would be a desperate experience for any escapees. I’m speaking hypothetically here as my players stole an ATV from the prison after setting the nuclear reactor on-site to explode, destroying the entire facility. In an ATV, it’s a mere 3 day drive to the only known settlement on-planet, Circle City. Whilst this originally would have required some exploration, the encounter dice favoured them: they met a band of geologists and claimed their navigational computer was broken.

Circle City itself feels a bit under-developed, although I wouldn’t be surprised if this was due to a lack of space: 64 pages is commonly accepted as an upper bound for staple-bound books, which Prison Planet runs right up against. These is enough here to riff off of, although I would’ve liked there to be more - especially with some of the possible escape routes involving a trip to the hospital in the city for those too injured (or appearing too injured) for the meagre infirmary of the prison itself. You could definitely use the existing Traveller encounter procedures in Book 3 to run this section. That said, extrapolation from minimal detail is part of the joy of running Traveller - entire worlds invented from a quick string of numbers.

Running this module is an absolute blast, and reading it is deeply interesting: offering a vision of adventure-modules as a collection of physical spaces and tool for running them rather than the modern conception of space-alone (dungeons etc.) or the heavily plotted adventure-path style Trad adventures. There’s definitely improvements that could be made - marking the cameras on the map, details of where the power for the prison comes from - although these mostly are to save the referee work when the players ask. As is often the case with these Traveller adventures, you can use this a few different ways too: the fully-mapped out nature of the prison means you have everything you need to break someone else out of the facility too. This seems to be a guiding principle in these adventures which I’ve not seen elsewhere outside of Mothership.

BONUS: Play Report/Summary

Immediately after arriving, one of the PCs talked back to the warden and got beaten by the guards and assigned to the Danger Zone - the most dangerous part of the mine. They met their cellblock-mates (including the de-facto leader, head of a gang) and started a fight with the biggest, meanest looking prisoner in there. After the guards broke it up, one of the PCs immediately snitched without thinking.

After making such a good impression, they began settling in to prison life. Some of them got assigned to the machine-shop (wherein one PC got degloved and spent the rest of their stay in the infirmary, thanks to a random Event) whilst most toiled in the Danger Zone - where there was the least oversight. One PC, who deliberately wrote provocative letters about wealth-management and cooked books was dragged upstairs by the vice-warden to assist in a coup against the inept incumbent warden. Another worked in the infirmary, and assisted the prison doctor in cutting drugs to sell to the prison population.

The gang leader of their cellblock was spurred to demand a sign from the group that they were on his side” - the murder of a guard. This took a few sessions to set-up, and involved borrowing money in prison for a bribe, but they eventually killed their man and hid his gun and equipment. Due to some unfortunate rolls, this gun was found by another prisoner they’d met previously, who insisted upon a dragon dwelling within the mine and hungering for souls.

They discovered a few possible escape routes. The first, a cave which led to the surface (they deduced due to the presence of cave-bats) but also contained a giant horrible lizard which tried to eat them. The other was a collapsed elevator shaft which could have been carefully excavated slowly to dig a way out of the mines. The PC in the machine-shop built a way to disrupt the radio-comms after repairing a few broken guard radios, hiding this jammer in their person effects. All of this planning was thrown out of the window when the prison who stole their stashed SMG opened fire on the guards during a random search. The PCs led the population to kill the guards on their floor, stealing their guns and equipment. Then they jammed the comms and piled into the elevator, dressed as guards. From here they took over the prison, set the reactor to explode and escaped in an ATV, leaving nothing but a glowing crater. They did all this in 10 weeks in-game.

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