#TTRPG – Welcome to St Cloud RELEASED! A Lynchian, surreal horror homage

]Welcome to St Cloud by Miguel Ribeiro (Postmortem Giallo Trilogy) is now available on all our usual platforms.

This 100 page book presents the locations of St Cloud and Lynch Bay, places full of strange and peculiar people, an ancient evil and a perverse dream-logic that twists everything into fantastical, soap-opera pretzels of schemes and intrigue.

This is a systemless book, designed to be used with any system you like, but is presented with statistics for Actual Fucking Monsters.

You can purchase this book at…

LULU (Hardcopy)

POST-MORT.COM (PDF)

(Please purchase hardcopy via LULU, rather than Amazon, for the maximum money to go to myself and the author, similarly with PDFs, it is best for us if you purchase via Post-Mort.com, rather than Drivethru). You can also support me and my projects via Patreon).

#RPG – Postmortem Studios Update

Hello all,

It’s time for a little update, just to let you know what’s going on.

I’m a bit rammed with work, having agreed to help out a bunch of people, or to layout and publish their material. I love doing it – helping people get their ideas out there and focussing more on presentation – but it does take time away from my own projects. As usual, I’ve over-promised when I’ve felt well, and as such am over-obligated when I don’t feel well.

You’d think I’d learn!

My Patreon has rolled over the amount where I’m committed to daily videos again, and I’m going to try to get back into that habit, but directly paying work has to come first and I’m reasonably sure that my patrons want me to produce work, over meeting that commitment.

Next publication is Welcome to St Cloud, by Miguel Ribeiro, who wrote our well-received systemless/AFM Giallo trilogy. This time it’s a Lynchian investigative horror location, drawing on the style and aesthetic of Twin Peaks.

After that it’s *Punk (Splatpunk), which is an Action!/Interlock retroclone, designed to be coupled with sourcebooks like Cyber*, Bio*, Clock* etc for different types of genres in the ‘x-punk’ genre umbrella, and to preserve accessibility to an important ‘heritage’ game system. There’ll be hardcopy available, but the main rules will either be free or PWYW.

Then we have another book by Mr Ribeiro, called Postcards from ZOA, which will draw thematically on Burroughs’ Interzone and other surrealistic sources.

After that, a medieval bestiary by Neil Coates, who wrote ‘A Lapidary of Won’drous Stones‘ for us, and who seems to specialise in making some sort of sense out of medieval nonsense so it can be used in games.

All this time I am still working on Wightchester, and we have about half the baseline art complete already. Hopefully we’ll still be good to go with the Indiegogo fundraiser at some point this summer. Provided I can get the baseline writing complete in time with everything else going on.

All that and I’m still running weekly 5th Edition D&D games as part of Tabletopless, all for a very adult audience on Manyvids and Chaturbate, and monthly Cyberpunk RED games on the same services.

Given my recent loss of some of my disability funding, focussing on the paying work with what effort I can muster takes even greater priority. I hope you’ll forgive me if anything slips down the line, I have another relapse or something else goes pear-shaped. If you want to help out while I try and get these issues sorted out you can sub to my Patreon for as little as $1 a month, for discounts and priority access.

#DnD – Ravenloft Lacks Stat Blocks – The God Brain

Want some real horror for D&D? Check out Grimdark.

The God Brain

The God Brain squats malevolently in its roiling, vaporous broth. It is covered in sores and lesions, pus dissolving away into its tank while diligent mind flayers tend and sooth and operate – constantly. You feel its attention, like you’re being turned around in your own skin, pass over you and for a moment you hear its echoing madness in the patterns of your own thoughts and mind. The brain is in torment, madness, driven by palpable revenge and an endless thirst for forbidden lore.

Gargantuan Aberration, lawful evil

Armor Class: 11 (The God Brain is surrounded by an AC 22, 72 HP tank of transparent adamantine which is transparent to the God Brain’s powers, but must be broken before the God Brain can be attacked).

Hit Points: (20d12 + 180 – Roll when you encounter the God Brain to determine its current state of health)

Speed: 5 ft., swim 10 ft.

STR 30 (+10) DEX 10 (+0) CON 28 (+9) INT 23 (+6) WIS 18 (+4) CHA 24 (+7)

Saving Throws: Int +10, Wis +9, Cha +12

Skills: Arcana +11, Deception +12, Insight +14, Intimidation +12, Persuasion +12

Senses: Blindsight 480 ft., passive Perception 14

Languages: Understands Common, Deep Speech, and Undercommon but can’t speak, telepathy 5 miles

Overmind: The God Brain, while it sits in its lair, is aware of all its dedicated servants and can sense everything that they can sense and communicate with them in a network. So long as one servant can see or hear something, all can.

Mist Vibrations: To those it controls, its servants and some magical devices, the God Brain appears as a beacon in the mists. A fixed point to which its servants can always guide themselves, despite the confusion of the mists.

Closing the Border: The God Brain can electrify the mists and flood them with psychically active gases, effectively cutting them off and wiping the memories (Wisdom Save DC 18) of any who leave.

Life Support: The God Brain has reserves of spinal fluid it can use to heal itself from damage, and it is tended by mind flayers who can also engage in healing actions. The God Brain has 2d10 doses of spinal fluid, each of which can heal it for 1d12 Hit Points, once per turn as a bonus action. It’s tenders can expend an action to heal its sores and wounds with arcane devices and consoles, healing 1d6 Hit Points for each action (Move, Action, Bonus Action) they expend in tending it.

Creature Sense: The God Brain is aware of the presence of creatures within 20 miles of it that have an Intelligence score of 4 or higher. It knows the distance and direction to each creature, as well as each one’s intelligence score, but can’t sense anything else about it. A creature protected by a mind blank spell, a nondetection spell, or similar magic can’t be perceived in this manner.

Innate Spellcasting (Psionics): The God Brain’s innate spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 19, spell attack +11). It can innately cast the following spells, requiring no components:

At will: detect thoughts, levitate, augury, blindness/deafness, enthrall, suggestion, zone of truth, comand.

4/day each: dominate monster, antipathy/sympathy, feeblemind, mind blank, forcecage, mirage arcane, project image, mass suggestion

Legendary Resistance (3/Day): If the God Brain fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Damage Vulnerability: The God Brain is vulnerable to poison damage.

Infirmity: The God Brain has disadvantage on Constitution Saves.

Magic Resistance: The God Brain has advantage on saving throws against spells and other magical effects.

Telepathic Hub: The God Brain can use its telepathy to initiate and maintain telepathic conversations with up to forty creatures at a time. The God Brain can let those creatures telepathically hear each other while connected in this way.

Actions

Tentacle: Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 30 ft., one target. Hit: (16d8 + 10) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a Huge or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 23) and takes (4d8 + 5) psychic damage at the start of each of its turns until the grapple ends. The God Brain can have up to four targets grappled at a time.

Mind Blast (Recharge 5–6): The God Brain magically emits psychic energy. Creatures of the God Brain’s choice within 240 feet of it must succeed on a DC 18 Intelligence saving throw or take 32 (20d10 + 5) psychic damage and be stunned for 1 minute. A target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Psychic Link: The God Brain targets one incapacitated creature it can perceive with its Creature Sense trait and establishes a psychic link with that creature. Until the psychic link ends, the God Brain can perceive everything the target senses. The target becomes aware that something is linked to its mind once it is no longer incapacitated, and the God Brain can terminate the link at any time (no action required). The target can use an action on its turn to attempt to break the psychic link, doing so with a successful DC 18 Charisma saving throw. On a successful save, the target takes (12d6) psychic damage. The psychic link also ends if the target and the God Brain are more than 5 miles apart, with no consequences to the target. The God Brain can form psychic links with up to ten creatures at a time.

Sense Thoughts: The God Brain targets a creature with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain gains insight into the target’s reasoning, its emotional state, and thoughts that loom large in its mind (including things the target worries about, loves, or hates). The God Brain can also make a Charisma (Deception) check with advantage to deceive the target’s mind into thinking it believes one idea or feels a particular emotion. The target contests this attempt with a Wisdom (Insight) check. If the God Brain succeeds, the mind believes the deception for 1 hour or until evidence of the lie is presented to the target.

Legendary Actions

The God Brain can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The God Brain regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Tentacle: The God Brain makes a tentacle attack.

Break Concentration: The God Brain targets a creature within 120 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain breaks the creature’s concentration on a spell it has cast. The creature also takes 4d4 psychic damage per level of the spell.

Psychic Pulse: The God Brain targets a creature within 480 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. Enemies of the God Brain within 10 feet of that creature take (12d6) psychic damage.

Sever Psychic Link: The God Brain targets a creature within 480 feet of it with which it has a psychic link. The God Brain ends the link, causing the creature to have disadvantage on all ability checks, attack rolls, and saving throws until the end of the creature’s next turn.

Lair Actions

When fighting inside its lair, the God Brain can use lair actions. On initiative count 20 (losing initiative ties), the God Brain can take one lair action to cause one of the following effects; the God Brain can’t use the same lair action two rounds in a row:

The God Brain casts wall of force.

The God Brain targets up to four friendly creature it can sense within 480 feet of it. The target has a flash of inspiration and gains advantage on one attack roll, ability check, or saving throw it makes before the end of its next turn. If the target doesn’t or can’t use this benefit in that time, the inspiration is lost.

The God Brain targets one creature it can sense within 480 feet of it and anchors it by sheer force of will. The target must succeed on a DC 18 Charisma saving throw or be unable to leave its current space. It can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success.

Regional Effects

The territory within 20 miles of the God Brain is altered by the creature’s psionic presence, which creates one or more of the following effects:

Creatures within 20 miles of an God Brain feel as if they are being followed, even when they are not.

The God Brain can overhear any telepathic conversation happening within 20 miles of it. The creature that initiated the telepathic conversation makes a DC 18 Wisdom (Insight) check when telepathic contact is first established. If the check succeeds, the creature is aware that something is eavesdropping on the conversation. The nature of the eavesdropper isn’t revealed, and the God Brain can’t participate in the telepathic conversation unless it has formed a psychic link with the creature that initiated it.

Any creature with which the God Brain has formed a psychic link hears faint, incomprehensible whispers in the deepest recesses of its mind. This psychic detritus consists of the God Brain stray thoughts commingled with those of other creatures to which it is linked.

#TTRPG – Wightchester Preview – Areas of the City

You can preview the full article on my Patreon

Wightchester’s Areas

Through the iron bars of the prison cart, across the rolling acres of downland and the rounded hills, Wightchester hoves into view. Is it your imagination, or does the sky look a little darker over that blighted city? It squats behind its walls, dowdy and stained with flocks of crows constantly circling. Even from this distance you think you can hear the hungry dead within, a constant, low cacophony of mindless moaning. From outside only the rooftops and the tallest buildings are visible. Above them all rises the square-block-and-spike spire of the Cathedral, ragged with crow’s nests, a holy signpost to the most unholy of places.

Even beyond the walls its presence can be felt. The cart rattles through abandoned farmhouses and villages, only a few occupied by fearful looking peasants, eking out a living where no other will dare. Around and around the city is circled by hedgerows and ditches, by wooden spikes and tangles of dry, dead brambles.

Guards file out of their barracks to gawp at the passing prisoners, fresh meat for the butcher’s block.

Outside the Walls

The Landscape

Wightchester sits within the South Downs, atop a part of the River Itchen, north of Cheesefoot Head. The Itchen was once a clean river, fed by chalk aquifers, where wild watercress would grow and trout would swim in great number. After flowing through Wightchester the water is now unclean, carrying disease to many and occasionally even raising the dead from their graves downstream, if they are buried too close to the water. Farmland watered from this source does not grow well, often producing twisted fruit, ergot-riddled grain, rot and sourness.

Wightchester itself lays across a very slight valley, carved by the river, but the downland all around is low, gently rolling and you can see a long way on a clear day, at least as far as the nearest hills. Much of the land around Wightchester is abandoned, dilapidated villages with rotting thatch, copses of trees reclaiming the ground, half-wild pigs, ponies, cows and sheep roaming the downs. Only a few bother to still work the land here, fearful of the dead as they are. The villages, already emptied by war and plague, now only host the stubborn, the radical, the insane and outlaws.

The walls of Wightchester are not considered sufficient to contain the threat, and so various earthworks and protections have been erected around the city. A great bank and ditch – in the old style – bone white from the chalky soil and only just beginning to be colonised by weeds and brambles. A barren circle of salted earth, salt thought – by some – to be proof against demons and witchcraft. Great fences of sharpened staves, blunting in the weather, but appearing scary enough. A great spiny hedge of blackthorn has also been planted, both as protection and to hide the rest of the defences from passing travellers. Here and there are also great crucifixes, raised by the religious, thought to help contain and control the devilry that reigns in the city.

A single path winds through each and every part of the defences, studded with several gatehouses of wood and stone, each one guarded by a handful of men, the final gate being that of the city itself.

The Garrisons

Two garrisons stand to defend England from the foulness within the city. One has been built up in an old farmhouse, the other in a vacated manorhouse – where the Captain Safe-On-High Travers commands from. A whole company is stationed here, though not of the best men. Wightchester has become a dumping ground for the insubordinate and the untrusted, duty here is a punishment – hence the Puritan captain.

The soldiers here number a hundred, fifty billeted at the farmhouse, fifty at the manor…

#TTRPG – Mork Borg – Tarnished Knight

TARNISHED KNIGHT
You were once a knight, a figure of chivalry and honour, a minor lordling. Then something happened to rob you of your glory and standing. Perhaps you were injured, maybe you broke an oath, perhaps you offended a King. Whatever the case, you have lost your lands, your income and your honour, and they may be irrecoverable.

Begins with 1d6s, a sword, a horse, heavy armour, a shield and no Omens.
HP: Toughness +d8

Abilities
Battle Hardened: Roll 3d6+1 for Strength.
Bitter Experience: Roll 3d6+1 for Toughness.
Disgraced: Roll 3d6-2 for Presence.
Devout: You are honour bound, however far you fall, not to use scrolls. If you begin with one, re-roll.
You also start with a source of dishonour:

Roll 1d4
1. Injury: Roll d6 – 1. Lost Arm, 2. Lost Leg, 3. Disfigured, 4. Slit throat, 5. Crippled, 6. Battle Fatigue.
2. Disgrace: Roll d6 – 1. Blasphemy, 2. Cruelty, 3. Treachery, 4. Cowardice, 5. Lying, 6. Meanness.
3. Insult: A higher level aristocrat took offence to something you said or did. You do not know what it was.
4. Broken Oath: Roll d6 1. Fealty, 2. Oath of Chastity, 3. Oath of Silence, 4. Poverty, 5. Enclosure, 6. Unique vow.

  • A lost arm makes you incapable of using larger, two-handed weapons and/or carrying a shield. Appropriate Agility Tests are made at DR14.
  • A lost leg is replaced with a peg, you can only move half as fast, and appropriate Agility Tests are made at DR 14.
  • Being disfigured increases the DR of Presence rolls to 14.
  • Having a slit throat prevents you from being able to communicate, save in a croaking whisper.
  • Being crippled means you cannot walk. You lose your horse but have a crude, wheeled chair. You can only move by being pushed (full speed), carried (half speed) or wheeling your own chair (half speed). Stairs are very slow to negotiate at DR 18. There is no brake other than to hold on to the wheels.
  • Battle Fatigue: Each time battle breaks out, roll a d6. On a roll of 1, you drop into a foetal, trembling ball of fret and worry and cannot act until you are attacked and struck.

Disgrace: Increase the DR of social rolls by +2

Broken Oath: Simply the source of your dishonour as a misdeed. Increase the DR of social rolls by +2

Livery: Roll 1d8
1. Atramentous
2. Russet
3. Titian
4. Jaundice
5. Verdigris
6. Saxe
7. Violaceous
8. Nacreous

#TTRPG – Wightchester Preview – Crimes and Misdemeanours

Read the full (early) excerpt at my Patreon.

Crimes and Misdemeanours

Everyone or almost everyone, who passes through the prison gates of Wightchester is guilty of a crime. If not guilty of a crime, they are either thought to be guilty or have volunteered to enter the city.

For those who are criminals, or wrongly accused, there must be a crime for which they have been sentenced. The following table provides a proportionally weighted set of possibilities for that crime. The player may choose from the list or roll randomly, and it is the random roll that I recommend.

Of course, if you roll randomly for both the crime and whether you are guilty or not, you may find that your character is guilty of some thoroughly repugnant or horrendous crime. You can always play your character as having fundamentally changed or as seeking reform and redemption, but better roleplaying opportunities come from rolling with the punches. This is especially true in such a ‘Grimdark’ setting.

These crimes are culled from The Bloody Code and the reasons for transportation to the colonies. As such, some are apocryphal to the period, but then there wasn’t a city full of undead in our real history.

Keep in mind that being consigned to Wightchester, or transported, was seen as merciful compared to being hung, beheaded or subjected to other forms of execution. In England, beheading or hanging (and sometimes gibbeting) were the main methods of execution, with beheadings not ending until the mid-1700s. Burning at the stake was primarily reserved for women guilty of treason and ‘unnatural crimes’ and continued into the late 1700s. Given the supernatural pretexts of the setting of Wightchester, burning – and other horrible forms of execution – are likely to be relatively prevalent.

Guilty or Innocent? – Roll 1d10

1-9: Guilty.
10: Innocent.

Crime – Roll 1d100

1-80: Thieving (Roll 1d12)

1-2: Burglary: Breaking and entering a premises, likely causing damage, and making off with goods of any value, or even failing in the attempt to burgle.

3: Demanding Money with Menaces: Extorting people for money by making threats or offering ‘protection’.

4: Fraud: Pretending to be something you are not to gain sympathy, regard or money. This might include pretending to be a pensioner or war veteran, selling phoney cures or masquerading as a priest or similar person ‘of station’.

5: Highway Robbery: Stand and deliver! You hide your face and rob people on the road, often at gunpoint.

6: Looting: This might include scavenging from shipwrecks (though wrecking is apocryphal) or making off with goods during a riot.

7-8: Pickpocketing: A shilling in 1667 is equivalent to about £6 today, and that would be enough to send you to the gallows or the colonies if you were caught.

9-10: Poaching: There is common land upon which you are allowed to hunt, graze your animals and so on, there is also the land that is privately owned, or owned by the Crown. So much as take a single rabbit on land, you’re not permitted access to, and you could be killed or transported.

11-12: Other Theft: Shoplifting and other forms of theft were punishable by death or transportation if they amounted to three shillings or more (£18-20 in today’s money).

#TTRPG – Wightchester Preview – History of Whitchester

YOU CAN READ THE FULL PREVIEW BY SUBSCRIBING TO MY PATREON

The Ancient Past

The grassy downland and forests made this area of Hampshire prime land for early settlers of Britain. What was good ground for hunting and gathering, with clean water from chalk aquifers, plentiful game and open land, was also good for farming as society developed further. The ground was also full of one of the most important resources that prehistoric man could hope for, flint.

So important was flint that whole flint mines were opened up in prehistory, carved into the bone-white chalk of the hills. This flint was worked into arrowheads, spearheads, knives and even large axe-heads. Flint could be honed to a razor’s edge, almost as sharp as obsidian, and its use persisted even into the bronze age.

To this day old flint mines are uncovered, or fallen into, and the ground is littered with old arrowheads, which are considered to be elf-shot. The ground is full of such mysteries, and older ones, fossilised sea creatures such as sea urchins, which are called ‘fairy loaves’ by the locals. Amongst the more prosaic flint points, the occasional piece of ‘true’ elf-shot is found, silvery like the moonlight, more fragile than glass.

Hill Forts

The remains of ancient hill forts still dot the landscape, though the efforts of farmers and Christians have erased many of the old landmarks and standing stones. Whitchester was the site of one such fort, a great bank and ditch, with a man-made hill at its centre. That hill, or what little remains of it, is underneath the site of the cathedral today, and the old ditch – long used as a spoil-pit – often turns up bones, pottery and other trinkets from that bygone age.

Oppidum

Whitchester developed into a town, around the old fort. A wooden pallisade was raised further out from the old fortifications, creating what the Romans would call an ‘oppidum’. This fortified township was a meeting place for different tribes within the Belgae, and a religious site for the worship of Nantosuelta, a river goddess of the Celtic tribes. While not as important as the other, surrounding towns, Whitchester had its own niche of importance as a secondary marketplace.

Roman Settlement

When the Romans came to England they saw the value in the land around Whitchester as much as anyone else. After their conquest they set about Romanising the populace and built many a villa in and around the same area. Whitchester itself survived as a garrison town with a small fort, safeguarding and supplying Roman settlers and soldiers as they moved about the region and built their roads.

City Walls

Romans raised the first wall about the town, circumscribing the site of the oppidum – and a little more besides – with a stone-reinforced bank and flint-blocked wall of chalk-white, as tall as a mounted man. The town never came under attack in this period, but the large stones of the walls, reinforced with proper Roman bricks and terracotta, were broken apart and reused time and again in the years to come.

After the Withdrawl

After the Romans withdrew a great deal of progress and civilisation was lost. Whitchester survived better than most, retaining many of the things that Roman conquest had brought, not least of all its Roman sewers, insisted upon by some ancient and forgotten magistrate or commander. Like many settlements across the area, this loaned Whitchester a reputation for cleanliness and health that wasn’t necessarily deserved.

The Old Church

Throughout the medieval period, Whitchester continued to be built up. Its walls thickened, grew taller and were expanded. A grand old church was built upon the hill in celebration of burgeoning Christianity. No longer a true fortress, it still held some strategic importance in the petty struggles of kings and lords. Consistently, throughout the period, Whitchester provided food and lodging for soldiers and displaced peasants.

The New Walls

Each new conflict or lordling saw Whitchester’s walls addressed. Different stonemasons and different materials, different styles and choices. The ‘New Walls’ ended up an oddly-shaped patchwork, changing without warning, torn down and built up seemingly on a whim. Old flint was supplemented or replaced with slabs of sandstone and mudstone, statues and crenelations were added – here and there – and the gatehouses were constructed. Much of the walls are still this medieval craftsmanship, worn smooth by the passage of time, but as sturdy as when they were laid.

The Maze of Streets

Given constant raiding by Vikings throughout the years, ranging as far south as Andover or further, radical reconstruction of Whitchester’s streets was undertaken. The passageways through the city were turned into a snarled gnarl of knotted pathways, intended to confuse and slow down any invaders while armed men took to the church. Fortunately, the town was never raided and, over time, the citizens of the city rebuild in a more conventional fashion.

The Normans

In 1066 the Normans invaded England from the North and South. Having overcome English forces on the coast, they rapidly took over the rest of the country and became the new rulers over it. Whitchester became the site of a Norman motte and bailey castle, the first and only proper castle to stand upon the site. In addition to the building of the castle, the Normans undertook the construction of ‘The New Church’, a more impressive replacement for the pre-Norman cathedral that had begun to be built on the site. This church would form the basis for the cathedral-proper in later years, and little of the original remains. The combined weight of the castle and the New Church largely flattened old hill fort, meaning the castle barely rose above the ground or the enclosure.

The Grand Cathedral

The final phase of construction on Whitchester Cathedral began in 1348 and would not be completed for two centuries, interrupted almost immeditely by the arrival of The Black Death. Constant delays and changes of whim turned Whitchester’s Grand Cathedral into a schizophrenic mess of a construction, full of follies, blind corners, cubbies, staircases to nowhere and mismatched windows. Nonetheless, it has a certain gothic charm to it, and was the site of many petty intrigues in the Church, as it provided so many secretive places to meet.

The Burning

In 1360 a great fire swept through Whitchester, burning almost everything on the left bank of the river and within the bounds of the city’s walls. Enormous sacrifices were made to protect the Cathedral, and this came at a huge cost of life and property everywhere else in the settlement. Between the ravages of the plague and the fire, the city was catastrophically depopulated, but soon began to be resettled and the opportunity was grasped to give the place a new layout and new buildings, this time – primarily – of stone and brick, paid for in no small part by the local wool trade, which was about to be impoverished.

The Black Death

From 1348 The Black Death ravaged England and Whitchester seems to have particularly angered God, as it suffered greatly from the disease, as bad – or worse – than London, though no reason for it has ever been discovered.

Significant Instances of Plague:

  • 1348 – 60% of the population killed (3,000 of a population of 5,000).
  • 1361 – 20% of the population killed (600 of a population of 3,000).
  • 1563 – 25% of the population (1,000 of a population of 4,000).
  • 1593 – 20% of the population (800 of a population of 4,000).
  • 1625 – 15% of the population (500 of a population of 3,500).
  • 1665 – 25% of the population (1,250 of a population of 4,500).

The city was consistently and constantly unable to cope with the number of casualties in each instance. The dead were buried en masse in a number of plague-pits around the city, most notably in the excavations for the new Cathedral, this being reckoned a worthy grave, as even commoners were to be interred on the holiest of ground. Later instances were buried beneath the city’s parks and within the old ditches, or deep in the crypts below the Cathedral in mass graves, dug into the clay, chalk and sedimentary stone.

Sheep, Cows and Wool

The Tudor period spanned from 1485 to 1603, a lineage of royalty that most notoriously included Henry the Eighth. It was a transformative period for England in terms of religion, power and a flowering of art and technology referred to as The English Renaissance.

Dissolution of the Monasteries

After Henry the Eighth had separated the Church of England from Rome in 1534, not a great deal changed. This was simply Catholicism with the King at its head instead of the Pope. This was also the King who took on the ‘divine right of kings’ and who ruled with an iron fist, and a lot of executions. From 1534 to 1540 the crown ransacked, demolished and disbanded the overwhelming majority of monasteries and convents throughout England. Winchester was not spared, with its Carmelite convent and Benedictine monastery both being looted and broken down. The cathedral was similarly looted of many of its treasures, but remained relatively unscathed…

#DnD – Wightchester Preview – The Miracle Year

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The Annus Mirabilis

Literally, the ‘Year of Wonders’ or the ‘Miracle Year’. This was ironic, given its hellish connotations and the millenialist spirit of the age, it was originally applied to the year 1666.

  • This was certainly an eventful year, which could – at least from a British perspective – be seen either as heavenly, or hellish.
  • Newton made his major discoveries.
  • The Dutch and the English went to war.
  • The Great Fire of London, burned down the city – albeit with remarkably few deaths.
  • There was an uprising in Scotland.
  • The Great Plague ravaged London, killing a quarter of the city’s population (some 100,000 people). Though it spread further.

Given the portentious number of the beast, and the enormous upheaval of the times, it’s easy to see why denizens of England, London in particular, could imagine this was the end of the world.

The Aftermath

The passage of the comets in 1664 and 1665 were thought to be a herald of doom, and though not easily seen by many people, they did set things astir amongst religious fanatics and at court. In the world of Wightchester, after these comets, there was a third. A ‘Great Comet’ with a brightness to rival that of the Moon. It passed rapidly through the sky, leaving an enormous trail and bathing the Earth in an unnatural, pale blue-purple light for the handful of nights it was in the sky.

After the comet had passed there were incidents, not just in England, but most notably in England, of the dead returning to life and seeking human prey. In most places these shambling horror were easily cut or shot down by the organised actions of the Military, but in an England still reeling from the Great Fire and the Great Plague, it was a different matter…

#TTRPG – Zelart Scholarship Winning Art Available

The winning piece for the ’20-21 Zelart Scholarship is in, and available.

You can get it HERE, and use it for your personal and professional products for a small fee. All proceeds go to next year’s Zelart Scholarship fund. There’s also a bunch of new stock art up, if you’re looking for something else to fill out your projects.

Here’s Mike’s story:

I am an adjunct faculty member teaching courses in Art and Game Design at a local college and university. When the world is normal, I am also working as a Graphic Designer and selling prints and drawings at various conventions. It’s been a ride of year to say the least! Schools are looking at major cutbacks, with enrollment plummeting. This means I have no confirmation if I will be given any courses to teach in the Fall. My Graphic Design job also dried up when the shop I was working for suddenly closed. And well, conventions, those are on an obvious holding pattern. Needless to say, it’s been disaster management for the last 12 months, with an unknown recovery time expected for the near future.

That was the glum reality, not far what many artists have faced this year. Now for the art. I focus heavily on monsters – both designing them mechanically as well as illustrating them. On occasion, I may dabble with other things like a map, full scene, or even portraits, but it always comes back down to the monsters. My artwork is mostly digital these days with some pen and ink to keep my hand still working with some traditional material. The creature I included here is a Greater Wisp from some game and world building I do on the side. These act like vacuums for living energy and will suck areas dry of life. That is the shorter description, I won’t go into lengthy detail here.

So onto the main thing. That “What will I do with this money part”. I am holding on financially. This means I can maintain a rent, food and a vehicle, but it’s difficult to keep the business functioning at all. Recent issues relating to poor service forced my to get rid of my webhost. Some of the money would go into resurrecting the site and giving it a functioning store. I would also like to get into setting up a mentorship and moving at least part of my studio into art content creation. This will take a few pieces of new gear. Anything left over I would place into printing new inventory. Sounds ambitious but a quick breakdown of how the funds would be spent – Website is around $250 for the first year. Capture card and new mic are around $150. And the remainder would go into prints. I can probably get together 2 new prints with runs of about 25 each.

I hope all this helped Mike out. That’s what we try to do with the scholarship!

#TTRPG – Wightchester Preview – Firearms

YOU CAN READ ALL OF THIS ON MY PATREON, FOR AS LITTLE AS $1 A MONTH

Firearms

The fourteenth century was the time in which gunpowder weapons first saw widespread use in Europe, beginning with cannon and simple explosives. By the seventeenth century things had progressed a considerable way from those early, dangerous weapons.

The matchlock was the oldest form of firearm still in use during this period. Prior to the matchlock weapons were fired by directly applying a match or burning taper to a powder-strewn hole atop a cannon or hand cannon – somewhat awkward and necessiting one-handed aiming of a rather cumbersome weapon. The matchlock held a burning taper or match within a mechanism which, when the trigger was pulled, touched it to a flash-pan of priming powder which would, in turn, ignite the charge. Matchlocks were susceptible to the weather, spilled powder from the flashpan, misfires and other issues but remained in use, in the form of muskets, right through the English Civil War and its aftermath.

The wheellock was a development from the matchlock, using a spring-loaded wheel, scraping against a fragment of pyrite (or similar material) to generate sparks, which would then ignite priming powder, and in turn the main charge of the firearm. The wheellock was rapidly replaced by the snaplock, snaphaunce, doglock, and finally the flintlock, all of which used flint and steel – and sometimes primer powder – to ignite the main charge.

The final evolution of this firing mechanism, and one that would be used for two whole centuries before being discarded, was the true flintlock, first developed in 1610 and used by the elite forces of the New Model Army, typically in the form of carbines and other cavalry use firearms, due to the relative simplicity and reliability of such a gun (many were water resistant and weren’t at risk of spilling their primer powder).

Because of the slowness of reloading weapons, even the more efficient flintlock, a number of innovations were made to compensate. Weapons with multiple barrels were constructed, which could be fired one shot after another, all at once, or even in a rapid volley, one shot after another. Barrels could be clustered together to fire a devastating volley, spread out to shoot in a broad spread or mixed with close-combat weapons such as hammers, axes, swords and knives. Some even had revolving barrels, able to fire multiple shots and even of having their revolving drum swapped in and out – an early version of a magazine. Some gunfighters would wear multiple, holstered pistols, drawing and discarding (or sheathing) the pistols as they were expended and reloading them all before the next battle…