Shared posts

08 Oct 07:00

parvenu: Word of the Day

parvenu: a person who has recently or suddenly acquired wealth, but has not yet developed the conventionally appropriate manners.
07 Oct 22:01

The different faces of downhill.It’s curious how going downhill...

The different faces of downhill.

It’s curious how going downhill seems to have two opposite meanings.

07 Oct 07:00

WTD 1496

by Aaron
07 Oct 07:00

alexithymia: Word of the Day

alexithymia: difficulty in experiencing, expressing, and describing emotional responses.
06 Oct 22:04

You don’t say?

by Jessica Hagy


The post You don’t say? appeared first on Indexed.

06 Oct 14:46

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - The Most American Movie


Hovertext: The most American ballet is PRO WRESTLING.

New comic!
Today's News:

Oh GOD Seattle is almost upon us. There are only about 90 general admin tickets left, so buy soon to lock a spot!


06 Oct 07:00

WTD 1495

by Aaron
05 Oct 07:00

amphigory: Word of the Day

amphigory: a meaningless or nonsensical piece of writing.
03 Oct 15:18

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Guide to Science Writing


Hovertext: All philosophy comics are off the chart, down and to the right.

New comic!
Today's News:


03 Oct 12:00

Banned Books Week

by Dover Public Library
It’s crazy that in 2015 people are still challenging books in an attempt to have them removed or restricted in our public libraries and educational institutions. Over the years there has been an incredible amount of books that have been challenged, many of which have gone on to become some of the most popular classics. If […]
02 Oct 04:00


I just came from The Martian, and I just have to say: Forget BB-8; I want a pet Sojourner! It's always been the cutest of our Mars rovers.
01 Oct 21:19

Novelty can be terrifying.

by Jessica Hagy


The post Novelty can be terrifying. appeared first on Indexed.

29 Sep 19:02

i was invited to make a piece of animation for The Illustrated...

i was invited to make a piece of animation for The Illustrated Mixtape, which is a pretty awesome project by Leigh Tran. Check out my mixtape entitled “History Repeats Itself” here.

also want to give a quick credit/shoutout to Kati Kerber for her awesome fractals.

29 Sep 07:00

anomia: Word of the Day

anomia: the inability to name objects or to recognize the written or spoken names of objects.
29 Sep 18:01

Oh no, not again.

by Jessica Hagy


The post Oh no, not again. appeared first on Indexed.

26 Sep 18:03

npr: skunkbear: When can I see the supermoon eclipse tomorrow...



When can I see the supermoon eclipse tomorrow night?

On Sunday night, people in parts of western Europe, western Africa, North America and all of South America will be able to see a lunar eclipse. And this one’s extra special, because the moon will be at its perigee – the closest it gets to Earth. Not only will the moon turn red (learn why it turns red here) it will seem larger than usual.

In the first GIF I’ve listed the times the moon will enter Earth’s faint shadow (the penumbra) and then its darker, red-tinted shadow. You can figure out exact times for your location using the U.S. Naval Observatory’s handy calculator

The second GIF shows the eclipse from another perspective - looking down on Earth’s north pole. This is to scale. It always surprises me to see how far apart the moon (the white dot) and earth (the blue circle) really are. The sun is off screen to the right, casting a long shadow. The colored lines radiating from earth show the approximate horizon lines in the four time zones. Once the lines pass, the moon is visible. Everyone in the contiguous US will be able to see the eclipse, but only people in the Easter and Central time zones will be able to see it start.

(If you want this information in song, some awesome sixth graders from Old High Middle School in Arkansas updated my eclipse song from last year. Or check out this completely original and funny song by Scarlett Simmons).

Look to the sky tomorrow night (9/27)! This won’t happen again until 2033.

25 Sep 05:01

Happy Autumn!

by John Kovalic




Happy Autumn!

I will now listen to people speak the words “Pumpkin Spice” without wishing them any actual bodily harm.

– John

25 Sep 14:30

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - Babies are Weird


Hovertext: I hate you! I hate you!

New comic!
Today's News:
25 Sep 07:00

WTD 1488

by Aaron
23 Sep 22:53

#714 Sound Barrier

by treelobsters
22 Sep 04:49

D100 Inns By the Side Of The Road

by Zak S
Crowdsourced to folks in my Google + circles here using the following method:

A. Something mundane about it (10 words or less)…B. Something interesting about it but (20 words or less)…C. How you'd find out that unusual thing (10 words or less)

This is the kind of table that should see constant regular use, so if every inn is Secretly A Portal To The Emerald Pain Dimension then we fucked up and the GM who uses it is doomed to run a Weird Inn Weekly campaign. This table is just give us some places to stay with some flavor and maybe some gameables scattered around. There is an automated version here.

1, A. It's made of bluish stone…B. The owner has a knife collection, including knives from all over the world, some exotic, none magic.…C. Talk to the owner.…B. They sell a medicinal tonic made from crystals which allows speech with the dead.…C. Read the menu small print

2, A. Single story bunker design…B. Banking and storage services offered, secure vault level underground, guarded by heavy mercs…C. Signs advertise along road for miles in each direction

3, A. An improvised pub that serves average food and ale. …B. Theres a giant stone slab table with a map of the world carved into it in the basement. …C. Several tunnels lead into the undercity from here and were used as an underground railroad by the first generation of gods. PCs will most likely find this room through tunnels leading here than from ideal gossip upstairs.

4, . A.Small collection of log cabins.…B. Halfing cook is a famous royal chef on the lam.…C. Talk to the drunk at the end of the bar.

5,  A. Retrofitted wizard's tower now famous for BBQ…B. Humble server is languages savant, able to translate many ancient/extinct/arcane tongues…C. Only speaks to the exceedingly polite

6, A. Many stray dogs live around the grounds.…B. A voice sometimes echoes out of the well telling secrets.…C. Show a sign of affiliation with [religion] to the proprietor.

7, A. Family run: "I SAID ERTUS, PUT THE DAMN DOGS OUTSIDE!".…B. Secret orc blood, hold ceremonies to orcish pantheon on new moon. Mother a Cleric-3 of Gruumsh.…C. Scary-ass masks, spears, etc if they break into the family's rooms.

8,  A. Run by monastic order under vow of temperance, master brewers…B. Entire staff badass unarmed fighters, roam area at night kicking evil's ass…C. Assemble for pre-dawn martial arts training at nearby temple  

9, A. The stone building is round, with a shallow domed ceiling.  …B. Indecipherable words are carved into the walls, telling the story of a forgotten hero fighting demons. …C. The local druid knows the tale, but demands a tithe. 

10,  A. The menu changes every moon and has clever descriptions…B. Famous bards practice their new material in private shows in the backroom.…C. Break the cypher on the menu

11,  A. The sign is on a chalkboard…B.  The name can be changed by the current reigning champ at daggers  (like darts)…. C.  Ask the bartender.  Note that the current reigning champ is a washed up assassin and this is all she has left.  Several other champions have died and reverted the title to her.

12, : A. The place has a very tall wrought iron fence around it.…B. It has no windows, and the battered doors are always barred shut after sunset. …C. If the party tries to leave after dark.

13, . A.Pocked and teetering limestone…B. Someone is using the holes in the back wall to pass messages, love notes, meeting notes for the thieve's guild.…C. Going to the outhouse at or noticing the papers

14, . A. Facade replica of famous dwarf city, interior decoration: tasteless dwarf-kitsch …B. Proprietor has tearful freak-out triggering crowd hostility if dwarf-fixation questioned, criticized…C. Friendly, subtle warning from elderly patron

15, . A. Filthy hovel of a cob-walled flop house, but weirdly big.…B. Food is surprisingly good. Seriously, the best food you've ever eaten.…C. Taste the food. Rumors will not be believed otherwise.

16, A. There's a small stage in the main hall.…B. Locals use this place as a church once every 5 days, from sunrise until sunset. Expect terrible singing. (1 in 6 chance of arrival on that day.)…C. Stick around. 

17, A. It has no windows or doors, just hanging leather flaps.…B. When you first visit the inn you get super ill the night after, and then you are immune to it.…C. A retired waitress told me, but she was high.

18, A - made from mud and hay much like a qala. Large living area with only a couple of rooms.

19, . A. Half buried into a hill…B. The hill grew around the inn.…C. There's a plaque

20, : A. It's a single roomed hut and a stable where patrons are allowed to sleep.…B. The owner is a cannibal.…C. Players find out when owner nervously offers to pay the group 10 gold for a body, any body.

21, A. It's a three-story building.…B. All the patrons are women.…C. Look around.

22, A. During the war the inn was used to house prisoners.…B. One of the prisoners hid himself inside the walls and he still lives there in secret after decades.…C. Often small items go missing and are later found used.

23, A. Coaching Inn, built round a courtyard and stables…B. Has illicit cockfights, dogfights and small monster bouts as a novelty in the barn…C. Notice the landlord keeps a lot of Dandy Dinmont dogs.

24, A. It's infested with vermin and staff is somewhat retarded.…B. No one actually cares how much you pay for anything as long as you pay something.…C. Look how much regulars pay.

25, A. A gnomish inn. Partying hard all times of day and night.…B. It's a perpetual wake for a fallen gnomish adventurer. A doom will fall if the wake ends.…C. Elders will relate the tale if the party joins in.

26, A. Bargemans stopover built on a bridge over the canal.…B. Smugglers den, jobs available transporting stuff, nobbling customs men, snuffing out squealers, etc…C. Scruffy bargees playing mumblety peg for pouches of nobleman's quality baccy, coded smoke rings blown across room.

27, A. Place has no name or identifying features, only the noise and lamps being on all night distinguish it from the other houses on the street.…B. The most authentic [ethnicity] food so far away from [place of origin].…C. Place is famous with travelers and the homesick.

28, A. The outhouse is clogged.…B. The chess-like gameboard inlaid in one of the table tops is partially made with cockatrice bones.…C. The old guy in the corner knows. 

29, A. The inn is dilapidated and staff very pale and malnourished.…B. The inn actually exists only during the night. At dawn it just skips right into the next night.…C. Wait till morning.

30, A. Very basic beer hall built into an arch under a viaduct.…B. Spies use it as a dead letter drop.…C. Loose bricks, crumbling mortar, might see some drunk leaning on a wall idly fiddling with them.

31, A. It has windows that have dripped with age.…B. It smells of incense and peppermints due to the owner's peculiar taste in sweets.…C. Stay up all night and sneak into the kitchen.…B. Each person isn't at all a person. They're either automaton, or illusionary or phantasms.…C. By trying to interact with them in any way.

32, A. Yurts and carts standing in a field, jocular nomads offer strong spirits., play raucous music, sing the songs of their people.…B. Fortune telling available.…C. Every one of them claims to see omens and portents, will tell you for silver.

33, A. Typical "public house" run by recently widowed wife.…B. Husband will return as a ghoul in 1-6 days hissing his wife's name, lashing out at drinkers and punters.…C. Roll for initiative.

34, A. It's carved out of a single large moss covered boulder.…B. The beer gives hallucinations due to the moss they put in it.…C. Drink the beer.

35, A. The communal cheese is especially wormy.…B. The owner's son or daughter is an amateur necromancer and they've a mostly tame zombie in the cold cellar.…C. The kid has kohl around their eyes. The trapdoor jiggles.

36, A. Former chateau, now run down.…B. Run by former soldiers who were billeted on the genteel residents, still has some nice plonk in the wine cellar.…C. Le Comte, a drunk who will drink anywhere except his former home.

37, A. looks like an inn.…B. The owner hates halflings.…C. No allowances are made for halflings, everything is too tall.

38, A. Ancient stone structure unsound, no sensible dwarf would enter…B. Cage in corner holds mangy, still-vicious owlbear, various implements of abuse, what are they feeding it?…C. Smell hits one in the face upon entry

39, a. Set deeper into the woods, reached via trail.…B. Animal - headed or masked patrons after midnight.…C. Stay up.

40, A. Bar in front gate house of a brewery.…B. Whole operation run by Workers Cooperative, capitalist brewing barons want it shut.…C. Subversive newspapers sold over the bar, bars on windows to keep out bricks slung by hired agitators

41, A. The inn doesn't have many patrons.…B. There is some weird time stasis thing going on.…C. The candles don't melt down over time.

42, A. Wood panels and dingy, crummy scrimshaw art.…B. Innkeeper once crewed with an infamous pirate king. His compatriots also innkeepers now.…C. He'll tell you. It's like a restaurant chain.

43, A. Holds a colourful, whirling dance competition ($ entry, $$ winnings) at week's end.…B. Popular with fey and avatars in disguise who bequeath quests to leveled dancers.…C. Dance Dance Revolution! Players plan routines, more points for more flourish at higher difficulty. Fumble table for injuries. Placed winners approached.

44, A. Highly polished light fixtures. Effervescent speciality cocktails, taste like rosewater.…B. Owner is a time traveller from the distant future. Gave up on going back, resigned to inconveniences of medieval life.…C. Have something from the future on your person. She'll notice.

45, A. Low fieldstone building with a poorly thatched roof. …B. The old well in back is half full of bones. …C. Go fetch some water. …B. 2) Sailor has agreement sending victims to Sirens in exchange for their valuables, which are sold off at the local pawn shop.

46, A. The building is dome shaped.…B. There's a second secret establishment in another dome, upside down and underground beneath the first one. For high rollers only.…C. You spot someone going through the hidden door.

47, A. It's called The head in the barrel.…B. They have a goblin head in a barrel of brandy.…C. They advertise free drinks if you first order and drink the goblin head brandy.

48, A. The Charmed Life. A pretty little cottage. Smoke curls invitingly from the chimney. …B. Dark, empty, and cold as death inside. …C. Cross the threshold. 

49, A. Building is brand new. Opened yesterday.…B. Previous tavern on this site burned down. One before that exploded. One before that collapsed. Locals think its cursed, owner doesn't seem to care.…C. Talk to any patrons or staff.

50, A. Offers low-quality wine very cheap, sold by the amphora…B. Caged lava child used as heat source in kitchen. …C. Hear it complaining while the kitchen door is open 

51, A. Cheap food. Nice people. …B. A candle burned to a nub in your room will cast the shadows of the last murder committed on the road. …C. A vulgar poem carved into the bar. 

52, A. Inside appears old, built in even older construction.…B. Basement infested with giant rats. Staff kill them and use them as basis of popular roast rat steak.…C. Check the menue. 

53, A. Furnishings much repaired/replaced.…B. Host to weekly scheduled bar fight, put on to entertain rich voyeurs. …C. May be asked by owner to take part in exchange for free drinks. 

54, A. Serves only harsh spirits. No ale. …B. The door to the cellar is heavy. The stairs to the cellar are slick and hard. The innkeeper is fast, and stronger than she looks. …C. Order and ale. 

55, A. Pretty little country cottage.…B. The site of a gruesome murder suicide.…C. Anyone drunk. It's local legend. There's a crummy song even.

56, A. A coaching inn. Reroll- a cottage, shack, or large home.…B. Below the floorboards: noblemens' skeletons, crushed under the chairs of marauding giants, drinking to their victory over the noblemen.…C. Everyone knows the story, curses dwarves and giants alike.

57, A.  The inn is built from black volcanic rock.  …B.  Hot springs under the inn provide a constant supply of hot water.  …C.  Overnight guests are offered the use of the hot baths.  

58, A.  The inn is a river boat, either moored or drydocked.  …B.  All of the servers have had their tongues cut out.  …C.  Try to get one of the servers to speak.  

59, A.  All the local patrons drink quietly and no music plays.  …B.  The rooms have no windows.  Doors are securely locked at midnight with garlic and henbane blooms hung over them.  …C.  Rent a room and hear heavy locks latching at midnight.  

60, A.  Wind constantly moans softly throughout the inn.  …B.  The inn was built on the site of an historic battle where a local king was slain.  …C.  At dusk the innkeeper bids patrons to toast the king.  

61, A.  Every wall is painted a different color.  …B.  An elderly blind woman cooks all the meals without error and helps serve when she has time.  …C.  Ask about the blind woman serving food.  

62, A.  Only serves beer made from fermented mushrooms.  …B.  Has a backroom where orcs (or appropriate substitution) are chained up and forced to dance nude for onlookers.  …C.  The characters are asked if they have special entertainment interests.  

63, A. One get the feeling that the food is not cooked properly.…B. If checked one can find that around a hundred people have gone missing at the inn or its proximety.…C. The mad hobo outside likes to whisper it.

64, A. Each table has one chair clearly cosier than the others.…B. The innkeeper whistles the same cheery tune, which earworms PCs on a failed save.…C. At the day's end, when your eyelids fall closed.

65, A. The squirrel stew is known for its thickness.…B. All of the tables have one leg that was shortened by a brownie the innkeeper insulted, causing them to wobble. …C. Talk to the servant boy who cleans up the spilled food and drink. 

66, A. The inn is two stories high.…B. The third floor vanished in an Aleister Crowley-style dark ritual and now exists only between the first and second floor.…C. If guests try to leave without paying due to chronic nightmares the owner may blab.

67, A. People enter The Cork Owl, but you never see them leave. …B. People leaving The Cork Owl cannot be observed. …C. An invisible waif will probably try to take your purse. 

68, A. A thick walled squat fortress of a place, well constructed of heavy black stone. The inn is also a Dwarven Brew Pub.…B. The dwarves are terrible beer snobs.…C. Just try to order a drink which isn't a fancy craft beer.

69, A. Old, colorfully painted, now peeling.…B. Serves visitors to a minor, now unpopular roadside miracle. holy water spring. Tree of iron. Hill clangs like a bell.…C. Its the first thing the tired innkeeper/bored staff asks.

70, .A. The old lady always insists in giving free dessert.…B. This lady is the widow of an elf king and has several letters from him.…C. Ask old elven courtiers about the story of the kingdom.

71, A. Was a bell tower once.…B. The bell no longer rings.…C. The owner has the clapper hanging from his belt as a club.

72, A. Wattle and daub building.…B. Stools are incredibly sturdy.…C. There is a bar fight every night and the stools are the main weapon.

73, . A. Half hangs over a steep drop on tottering palings.…B. Back rooms (over the drop) are "long sleep" rooms and half price. The inn has collapsed several times already.…C. A waiter sick of the innkeeper's advances confides in you.

74, A. Luxurious and newly rennovated.…B. Monosyllablic seal-man at the bar is a fence for exotic and illicit goods.…C. Spend a night or more hanging out with at least one eye's worth of attention on him.

75, A. Staffed by 4 moody teenagers.…B. Teenagers have locked real inn workers in cellar and are pocketing the money tonight.…C. Go anywhere a guest wouldn't normally go, overhear nervous conspirators

76, A. Run by an extended family. …B. There is nothing in the inn that is not for sale.…C. You will be asked to make an offer on the chairs. 

77, A. Large hole in wall blasted out by fleeing sorcerer…B. Proprietor turned to stone, now kept in closet, regulars collect money for de-stonification, raised 42 gp so far…C. Patrons wheel proprietor out and pass the hat at midnight

78, A. Decoration highlight: glass barrel dispenses rings in wax balls randomly…B. The owner operates a chain of similar tavern/inns with a network of spies tracking adventurers' quests through tracking rings.…C. Mounted, haunted elven skull whispers this info at Table #9.

79, A. Built from rough pine logs and thatched in green pine boughs.…B. Whole structure is actually a living mesh of pine trees, formerly a wizard's abode.…C. Lazy owners. No upkeep. Roof always green. Subtle-carved sigils everywhere.

80, A. Roof patched with painted wagon siding.…B. Proprietor a former caravan guard. She's seen the start of many an adventure.…C. She's quick to tell you.

81, A. Situated near flat, muddy field, Y-shaped pole structures at ends…B. Impending game of ultra-violent rugby analog vs. rival roadside inn…C. Active recruiting of able-bodied for innovative kamikaze strategy 

82, A. Rudely carved devils adorn the lintels, bannisters, doorknocker.…B. The innkeeper's genealogical disposition to short, broad and ugly means they always play Satan in the local morality plays.…C. Anyone. He also tells a ghost story every night.

83, A. Shopworn stuffed cat, bumbling owner who's very curious.…B. Cat comes alive if a stranger admits theft; cat becomes a leopard if a stranger admits homicide. Living, it's invisible.…C. Rowdy crowd? Stuff gets knocked off shelves & people get mauled.

84, A. A meticulously looted ancient tomb complex of black volcanic glass, where a few of the empty sepulchers and crypts have been turned into a fine roadside tavern.…B. The ancient gods and spirits are very angry about this state of affairs, but far too weak to do anything without a few blood-sacrifices.…C. Holy workers, clerics, houngans and such can sense that the whole place is spiritually uneasy.

85, A, Built from various shattered sailing vessels….B, Innkeeper is former sailor, can sell information about sunken treasures…C, Ask around at the inn.

86, A. Nice looking well kept place...B. - has hidden tunnel in the cellar that leads to a hidden room in the back of a warehouse.…C. - you will need criminal connections or to stumble across/find the door (if in the cellar)

87, A. Rickety, wooden construction on a small hill called "Gleaming Shell"....B. - Built on dragon turtle's back, hibernates 3D20 years at a time. Innkeeper its half-human daughter.…C. - At night psychically sensitive or magically gifted share turtle's dreams (turtle enjoys this very much, may provide oracular answers).

88, A. Typical Middle Eastern-ish caravanserai...B. - Is located somewhere cold, and is run by an efreet exiled here for some kind of court intrigue…C. - Strange, flickering lights come from the proprietor's room - it's always burning in there.

89, A. Reasonably nice digs, drinks are kind of expensive though...B. - There's a fake wall near the exit to the outhouse. Behind it is a secret fancy bar. In addition to delicious custom cocktails, it tends to be frequented by people in the know on criminal and adventurous matters.…C. - Talk to someone in the local service business

90, A. Exceptionally large and well furnished coaching inn....B. - Actually a spectral presence, though harmless unless you happen to arrive on the one night a year it was sacked.…C. - Always has the same patrons, everything many years out of date.

91, A. Cottage of local widow, seats 8, space to sleep in barn, plenty of beer....B. - The village drunkards congregate here will be really angry if there aren't at least five seats left for them - may burn the place down.…C. - Travel in a group of four or more.

92, A. The "inn" is actually a clearing with some fire pits, lean-tos, and a few barrels of ale. ...B.: Local fey will occasionally wander in to drink and chat with mortals in poor disguises. …C.: Mushrooms grow in a circle around the camp. 

93, A. Nice place, richly furnished, clean and staff are well dressed....B. - cult of a succubus worship out of this place. Been made to look rich and classy so as to keep away commoners and people of lower classes.…C. - find the secret room / see the wealthy leave in droves / hear about it though rumors or from a rival demon

94, A. Upper class, plebs can stay in the stables....B.: Two bands of young idealist revolutionists with opposing views often have secret meetings here, unaware of each other.…C.: They'll stare at you if you look like you're listening and speak in hushed excited voices.

95, A. A den of thieves and murderers and looks like it, brawls are common....B.: Strangers are expected to stay in their rooms the duration of their stay and leave as soon as possible, otherwise there will be trouble.…C.: The barkeep recommends you stay in your room.

96, A. Christian imagery covers the walls and there's a crucifix in every room....B.: The staff and regulars are very pious waldensians as are most villagers around the inn.…C.: Speak about the christian faith with any of them.

97, A. A sign in front declares the inn is under the protection of the Knights Templar....B.: It's completely run by children (10 years old on average) after their parents fell ill and died.…C.: Ask to see their parents.

98, A. Seems normal on outside, inside a slimy coated room of flesh...B.: with happy patrons gnawing on growths from walls and drinking fluids dripping from orifices…C.: open your eyes unless you fear SAN loss

99, A. Sign is an old battle-scarred shield....B.) Bartender can do amazing knife-juggling, only when drunk.…C.) Order whisky, talk about the war. Bartender will join you.

100, A) five storeys high, narrow and long…B) top floor of the inn serves as an aviary/inn for migrating birdfolk, innkeeper is an aarakocra…C) ask anyone within 5 miles, wildly famous spot
23 Sep 07:00

WTD 1486

by Aaron
21 Sep 18:35

Proof of feelings.

by Jessica Hagy


The post Proof of feelings. appeared first on Indexed.

19 Sep 15:00

Saturday Morning Breakfast Cereal - A Monster


Hovertext: I will never NEVER get tired of monster-under-the-bed jokes.

New comic!
Today's News:

BAHFest livestream is live!

15 Sep 00:01


by aaron
18 Sep 07:00

shibboleth: Word of the Day

shibboleth: a peculiarity of pronunciation, behavior, mode of dress, etc., that distinguishes a particular class or set of persons.
11 Sep 05:53

Thought Eater Contest--Religion in Fantasy Games: Solve It

by Zak S
So here are the first two essays from the first two contestants in the Thought Eater DIY RPG Essay Tournament.

These are not by me--they're by a pair of anonymous DIY RPG peeps who were both assigned the topic "Religion in Fantasy Games: Solve It" and hope to win fame and fabulous prizes.

Anybody reading is eligible to vote for which one you like best and voting will be cut off once all the votes for all the first round Thought Eater essays are up...

First One

If you like this one better, send an email with the Subject "Vote RELIGION1" to zakzsmith AT hawt mayle or vote on Google +.

Gods Killed Religion

D&D has a problem with its gods. Because this is a world of monsters and magic, the gods themselves are written as active agents in the world. At higher levels they even become directly involved as NPCs, or enemies to be fought.

Leave that stuff to demon princes, arch-liches, and star-titans. Those beings can shake entire worlds, but they aren’t gods. Worshipping them has more in common with fealty than faith. If your god can really send a giant spider to eat you, or grant you magic powers, then faith doesn’t come into it. There’s no need for an ecclesiastical structure, you just do what the big glowing head and his super-soldiers say.

Picking a side might be of ideological interest, but it has little resemblance to religion.

Religion is showing up to mass every Sunday because otherwise you’ll be shunned by your neighbour. It’s a mandate to apply your law to everyone. It’s having a holy reason to chase that new family out of town.

Catholicism and Islam were at war for centuries, but nobody would actually say “Jesus Hates Muhammed, but maintains peaceful relations with Guru Nanak”.

D&D deals a lot with the very top and bottom levels. At the top, your deity is amazing and has all this power and influence. Maybe they’re imprisoned, or ruling on a distant plane, but they’re totally there. At the bottom, your character. You’ve got some powers directly from your deity. You wear their symbol, carry their weapon, and talk about them a lot. Maybe you hunt down their lost relics, which always carry power.

It’s a relationship that almost completely bypasses actual Religion. You might as well be a member of a particularly ideological order of wizards.

You can’t meaningfully use Religion in your game without tying it in with Culture. It’s the glue that strengthens a community, or creates barriers against those outside it.

And in many cases it serves as a justification to do something you wanted to do anyway.

Next time you're working Religion into a fantasy setting, forget the god. Don’t pick something symbolically perfect that character or region. Don't create a pantheon.

Instead create a load of hokey old nonsense and focus on how the people of your world use that to justify the things they always wanted to do. Soldiers serve the Mother of Peace by killing other soldiers. Healers serve the Bloody Maw by helping humanity grow. Industrialists fly the flag of the Golden Oak because technology the next logical step for nature.

The Faith is always secondary to what the faithful do with it. Two cultures, one enlightened and one violent, will both find a way to make the same religion work for their needs. Bend the rituals and faith to the needs and desires of the people.

Then go nuts with the disgusting rituals and silly costumes.

Second One

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Religion should feel somewhat familiar to have an impact. For every cultist, priest or inquisitor, the referee should consider different ways people can react to religion and pick or roll one.

Utter zealot, someone who believes in the deity but not the dogma, utter non-believer (explicit magic comes the self, not gods), someone who participates in rituals due to habit and tradition, someone who believes due to tradition, someone deeply sympathetic who does push the faith, someone deeply sympathetic who does not push the faith, militant atheist or opponent of religion, someone who does not care, a member of minor branch or cult with a doctrinal difference insignificant to outsiders.

The trappings - doctrine, visuals, temples, churches - can be as freakish or banal as one wants, according to the campaign setting. The characters make the religion.

The referee should especially use characters that make them or their group uncertain. For atheists, this might be the good-hearted character who does or does not prosetylise, while for a deeply religious group, it might be the elder participating due to tradition and habit, with no faith. If inquisitors are hunting and burning witches, some of them ought to be wicked, others innocent. Some high priests ought to be sincere in their faith, while others just do their job since they get benefits, and neither of these should be by default more good or evil than the other. The referee should add the characters they find most disturbing.

The referee will, in this way, be able to show religion from several angles at once. This, if one honestly, will widen their own perspective on religion and give their players the opportunity for the same, while making the campaign world more complex and hence more interesting. Maybe there will even be discussion about religion, which is often interesting and illuminating.

Roleplaying is a fine tool for understanding others and the world. If religion is not interesting to the group, then this attention would be better placed elsewhere. Maybe social justice issues and issues of free speech? The same principles hold.
11 Sep 04:00

I Could Care Less

I literally could care less.
09 Sep 04:00


"There's one set of foot-p's cause I was totes carrying you, bro!" said Jesus seconds before I punched him.
08 Sep 05:01

God Doesn’t Play Dice With the Universe – DORK TOWER 08.09.15

by John Kovalic

Happy Super Philosophy Game Hour