Sunday, 28 August 2016

Cicada Lovers

As the metamorphosis of caterpillars to butterflies supplies a great spiritual metaphor to the west, so the cicada furnishes the Widdershin Kingdoms with an abundance of parables and similitudes. 

They are icons of rebirth and immortality, their discarded exuviae uneasy reminder of the futility of sin and material advancement amidst the endless cycles of reincarnation. Their image is carved on everything from temple statues to bone spatulas, jade ornaments to pills and yak-butter sweets. They have ontological weight. 

Cicada lovers are insect spirits, though they walk like men. They have power over lust and fertility, rebirth, and abundance. They arise from the earth every 4, 16, or 256 years. Although immortal in the subworlds, their surface lives are brief and tumultuous: When not pulsing with metamorphosis, frantically feeding or mating, they war with the mantis queens, who find their lives offensive but their flesh delicious. 

What are they doing? (1D6) 

  1. Emerging from subterranean hibernation, new carapaced and naive 
  2. Securing the area, harvesting life force 
  3. Metamorphosis, shedding. 
  4. Seeking mates
  5. Warring with hunting mantises 
  6. Lingering bachelors, awaiting death
The apparent abiogenesis of cicada lovers is a spiritual but chaotic time. Like many demons, they earn the name for both their morals and the deleterious results of their interactions with humanity. They are sin eaters, whose touch absolves guilt and inspires new beginnings, but their karmic significance does not reduce the mayhem they incite. 

When first they swarm, they are hungry for transmogrifying life force. In time they transform into a winged, slightly more human form, ripe with the swollen genitalia of both genders, and pheromones that enslave and addict. They can both conceive and impregnate, and are talented lovers, protective of their concubines. Humans become intoxicated, drawn inexorably to join the swarm. 

In their final cycle, both human and insect with child go willingly beneath the earth to incubate the next generation. The few ‘widowers’ who remain guard the nest or linger on the surface, bereft of purpose until they die. Few reach their all too swift dotage. Alchemists of course, prize the cicada lover’s glands as an irresistible aphrodisiac. 

Black Hack /OSR 

HD 2, Armour 1(leather), Move fast human (fly), Attacks mandibles or claws 2D4, pheromone charm; Morale 10. 

Into the Odd 

DRIVEN TO MATE WITH HUMANS AND DEVOUR BAD KARMA. Attacks with claws and mandibles, sexual pheromone does Will damage. 

1D8 Expeditions  

  1. Tortured by unbearable guilt at his iniquities, mandarin Jade Neck requires a cicada lover to assuage his conscience. See to it, immediately.
  2. They have taken the Weeping Weaver’s wife.
  3. The Lowly Poet must have the love of aloof Lady Moi. Bring him an enslaving love gland, undamaged, and he will immortalise you in verse. 
  4. Potion Po needs freshly-shed exuviae, so he might brew the elixir of renewal. Only the freshest will do. 
  5. The sinister Gentlemen Swami is studying the swarm. Find out why.
  6. Vulgar Prophet requires escort to so he may safely learn their tantric sex techniques. Payment upon his safe and un-impregnated return.
  7. Vulgar Prophet is keen to see his offspring of his last visit to the nest. See that the father safely visits his ‘sons’ 
  8. They took the Dashtaar Master’s wife and daughter when last they came. He seeks iron swords to destroy them once and for all this time… but do his family’s souls live on in the unusual violet eyes of this generation?

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Preliminary Mutterings


This is really just a writing exercise, a warm up so to speak. I'll get better at this.

So, a first post then - soon to be swallowed by a treasure trove of gaming goodness and nerdish proselytising. As the pages grow hardly anyone will wade widdershins through time to reach here. Perhaps one day our future AI overloads will discover this in their data archaeology of the strange flesh-monkey time. 

For their benefit, I assure you all that I was a benevolent ruler of the earth, firm but wise, and much beloved, and gave up my throne when utopia was perfected.

My name's Dan, and I like roleplaying games, possibly a bit too much. I'm English (somewhere near Winterfell) and so life in the largely Americanocentric OSR blog-sphere is a delightful game of bleary-eyed catchup. I've been gaming since 1989, when I migrated from Fighting Fantasy to White Dwarf, to Warhammer, to eventually to D&D. I remember playing Fate of Istus. I remember we killed off bards.

Back in 2008, I wondered if I had it in me to write something the way professionals did, to translate the  notes into something usable by others. The result was Desire & the Dead: A hideously overwritten 90s-style adventure and mini-setting, and introduction to the Planescape setting, which I let loose, with transcendental timing, in the very week that 4th edition D&D was announced. 

You can get it from for the price of 0 gold pieces.

It's painful for me to read, to look back at what I thought was good. I think there are good nuggets though, amidst the hand holding and setting fetishism, and the player agency is good. And a nice map or two. It features neither dungeons nor dragons.

One day I'll talk about it more.