Wednesday, January 31, 2024

Stellar Atlas of the Zauberreich: Praxis, Capital System (and World) of the Zauberreich

The capital city of Praxis contains a dozen palaces for the Hexenk├Ânigin (one for each of the Twelve Houses of the Galactic Wheel), the bureaucracy of the Zauberreich, and the most prestigious university of sorcery within the Golden Gate Sector of the Orion Arm.

Praxis is the last of the manufactured worlds; after the destruction of the Sol System in the Dust Wars, Humanity fully embraced sorcery in an impassioned example of the “fight fire with fire” philosophy.  To a degree, it worked; those worlds who refused to join the Zauberreich or embrace sorcery as a means of defense were devoured by the Dust or crushed in the ancillary wars, but the newly-forged Zauberreich survived.  

Even before the Dust Wars were completed, the talisman world of Praxis was wrought upon a lonely brown dwarf.  By sorcery was the brown dwarf tamed, and, to a degree, humanized, but not in the manner of the worlds of the Satya Yuga.

Floating in the upper atmosphere of Praxis is the Comb, a lattice of hexagons fashioned from adamantium incised with orichalcum runes and then covered in gold.  Each segment of the lattice is 12 miles long.  Upon this giant lattice is built the capital city, by turns called Praxis, the Comb, or the Palace of Palaces.  

Looking at only the buildable sections of the Comb, the actual lattice segments themselves, there is roughly 12 million square miles of liveable surface area on the Comb.  The Comb houses something like 2.5 trillion people, giving it a population density of roughly 200 thousand people per square mile.  To say Comb is densely packed is an understatement.  Over 90% of that population is Humans, with a wide range of aliens making up the rest.  Roughly two-thirds of the Comb’s inhabitants are slaves.

The Comb is lit and powered by the hellish radiation of the decaying brown dwarf.  The streets are literally paved with gold because gold is a necessary ingredient in the magic that channels this radiation for the use of the citizens and protects those same citizens from the dangers and heat of the radiation. Attempting to remove the gold, so legends say, removes the protection of the Comb from the one damaging it, meaning they will immediately burst into flame and vaporize.  By that same sorcery, the light rising up through the massive holes in the comb (each over 300 square miles in area), waxes and wanes in a 24 hour cycle that is the Human preference.  Likewise, gravity on the Comb is 0.97 g.  

Sorcery is a matter of daily life on Praxis.  The locals think nothing of it, nor do they question the thousands who get their hearts ripped out and their souls sacrificed to demons every Human year to keep their strange city-continent floating above the throbbing maelstroms of the brown dwarf.  Praxis is the most civilized city in the Golden Gate Sector completely lacking in temples to Astarte.  

Art by Stable Diffusion and JB Murphy (using GIMP).

Monday, January 29, 2024


I’ve been too busy to keep up with the RPG blog-o-sphere lately (more on that later), so I missed this excellent article at Goblin Punch on negotiations between PCs and monsters/NPCs.  It makes a nice compliment to these two articles I’ve written on the subject:

Honey Cakes For Cerberus

More Honey Cakes for Cerberus

I’ve also got this handy-dandy random table for monster motivations that’s definitely in the top ten for things I’ve posted on this blog that I use most often. 

Saturday, January 27, 2024

Mad Mashup: Bard

 And back to my series of classes for my mad mashup of various sources, but based on a B/X core.  


Some artists can literally tap into the music the Primal Ones used to sing Creation into being.  They can express this through song or stories or music or dance.  In any case, it grants True Bards powers beyond the abilities of mere entertainers.


  • Bards roll their hit points with a d6.  

  • They save as Thieves.

  • They can use any weapons but longbows and wear any armour except plate.  They may not use shields.

  • Bards can only cast spells if they are at most Heavily Encumbered.

  • A Bard must have Dexterity of at least 9 and a Charisma of at least 13.  If a Bard has Dexterity of at least 13 and a Charisma of 16, the Bard enjoys a 10% bonus to all earned EXP.


  • Every even level, they add a spell of any level from the Bard list to their repertoire.  To successfully cast a spell, the Bard’s player rolls a d20.  They add their Level to the roll and subtract the level of the spell.  If the result is 11+, the spell goes off without a hitch.  If they roll from 6 to 10, the spell goes off, but there’s a backlash.  If they roll 5 or less, the spell doesn’t go off AND they suffer a backlash.

  • Every 5th level (5, 10, 15, etc.) the Bard adds another known Language.

  • When trolling for rumours, a bard will gain one more than usual.  

  • Bards enjoy a +1 bonus when rolling the reaction to an offer of employment to potential Retainers.  

  • During fights, a Bard can perform instead of fight.  While they do this, all their allies get +1 to all attack rolls, saving throws, and morale checks.

  • Bards can use the wands, staves, and wands that Wizards can use.

  • All who watch a Bard perform for at least one Turn (10 minutes) cannot help but be affected by their skills.  When the performance ends, the audience must make a save vs. Spells or have their mood and emotions shifted according to the desires of the Bard.  For every Turn past the first, the saving throws are lowered by -1 to a max of -4.  (See the Apsara for potential synergies.)

A fun class for players who want to risk “bad” magical fumbles.  The combat performance option is also an easy choice for players who don’t enjoy being on the spot or suffer from analysis paralysis.

Art by NC Wyeth and from the manuscript Rudolf von Ems, History of the World, created around 1300.

Saturday, January 06, 2024

Mad Mashup: Apsara

And back to my series of character classes for my mad mashup D&D game based on B/X but including rules from all over.  This time, a bit of Hindu myth that really, really harshes on what lots of folks consider a core element of the Old School vibe.


Apsara are the handmaidens of the gods, divine nymphs who serve the powers of Order and Chaos equally.  Thus they must be Neutral in alignment.  They are also all female with skin in various shades of blue.  Each is an expert artist, and most favour dance, music, and the erotic arts.  


  • Apsara use d6 for their hit points.

  • They cannot wear any armour or shields.  

  • They can use any weapon.

  • They can cast cleric spells, but only while at most Lightly Encumbered.

  • They save and fight as Clerics.

  • An Apsara must have a DEX and Charisma of at least 13.  If both are 16+, the Apsara gets a 10% bonus on all EXP earned.


  • Apsara can understand all spoken languages, and be understood when they speak.  They are, however, limited as normal in written languages.

  • They are also immortal.  They do not age and they cannot die.  Only the most potent of foes or weapons can leave scars on the mind or psyche of an Apsara.  They can, however, be knocked unconscious, charmed, etc.  

  • All who watch an Apsara dance for at least one Turn (10 minutes) cannot help but be affected by her grace.  When the dance ends, the audience must make a save vs. Spells or have their mood and emotions shifted according to the desires of the Apsara.  For every Turn past the first, the saving throws are lowered by -1 to a max of -4.  If they are being aided by a Bard or another Apsara, that penalty can go as low as -6.  

  • Apsara can use all magical items designed for Clerics, as well as all magical musical instruments.

  • 3rd Level: the Apsara can cast Charm once per day.

  • 5th Level: Foes must successfully pass a save vs. Paralysis in order to target the Apsara with attacks or harmful magic.  This does not apply if the Apsara is inside a wider area-of-effect attack (like poison cloud or a fireball spell).  

  • 6th Level: the Apsara can manifest a second pair of arms, allowing them to take a second action in a Round.

  • 7th level: the Apsara can cast Confusion once per day.

  • 9th level: the Apsara can cast Charm Monster once per day.

  • 10th level: the Apsara can manifest a third pair of arms, allowing them to take up to three actions per Round.  

A fairly straight-forward support and social class.  Fun for people who really like to wield "soft power" and make others look cool.