Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Nature Is Horrible

The Green God

It eludes description.  Us blind folk call it the Green God, but it is something else.  A force, or a season.  A foregone conclusion.

It is killing us.  It is the world saving itself from symbolic thought.

Because when the world ends, it won't be because of wind and trees and wolves.  It will because someone wrote something down and caught Azathoth's attention (to detail one possible apocalypse).

And so the Green God must overturn those containers of semiotics: the cities.  He must burn down our minds, infested as they are with mathematics and filthy languages.  He must elevate us to brute instinct, or oblivion.

And while the total destruction of symbolic thought is the ultimate goal, I should clarify that symbolic thought doesn't extend to depictions (a picture of a rose reminds you of a rose) or associations (the scent of a rose reminds you of a rose), but the actual high-order cognition that occurs when you see four black symbols on a computer screen, each representing a fragment of an unspoken noise, which you assimilate as a rose and immediately move on to further high-order thoughts, only some of which involve thorns.

Because symbolic thought is the one true evil.  What you are doing now, reading and comprehending what you are reading, is the penultimate sin.  That is why druids write "you are damned" throughout the forest.  Because if you can read it, it is true.

And so the Green God is that natural force that aligns the forest against mankind.  When it leans, it casts a shadow over the faeries.  When men distill it and drink from it, it is called God-In-The-Woods.

The forest is his church, and the high druids his priests.

Bag of Black Tigers

This is a magic item.

When you open the bag, a black tiger jumps out (stats as tiger) and attacks whatever is in front of the bag.  The tiger lasts 1d3 turns.  The bag contains 1d6 tigers which can all be dumped out at once, if you wish.

The black tigers have black stripes.  You can notice them by looking closely.

The Bear That Is Madness

This is a monster, but it is also an insanity.  Sometimes you are fighting a bear, but sometimes you have amnesia.

It is possible to encounter the bear as a madness.  If you do, skip ahead about ten minutes (because it is amnesia, they have forgotten the last ten minutes).  When amnesia skips the game ahead this way, each character has a 1-in-6 chance to have taken 1d6 damage (exploding d6, but no more than once).  When amnesia skips time this way, the bear is nearby, and it has taken 1d6 damage as well (exploding d6, but no more than once).  The party can hear it (perhaps they were running from it) and unless they flee immediately, it will find them and kill them.

It is possible to encounter the bear as a beast in the woods.  Combat starts normally.  After 1d3 rounds of combat, the bear turns back into madness, as detailed in the previous paragraph.

And so the encounter with the Bear That Is Madness alternates between forgotten spots (where everyone finds themselves in a new location, some with new damage) and regular bear combat.  This ends when the madness is cured, the bear is killed, or the party escapes.

the secret trick trees don't want you to know about
Hateful Tree

All trees hate us.  Men are cutters and despoilers all.  We think in false symbols, and we have forgotten the language of the trees.  When we think of the color of leaves, we think of the word "green" rather than the green of the leaf itself.

It is rare for a tree to get pissed off enough that it actually rouses itself.  Minor logging is not enough.  It must be a massacre, or the cruel trampling of young plants, or an insult against the tree itself.  (Taunt a tree enough, and it may just get up and attack you.  1-in-6 chance of dubious success.)  Lumberjacks are always immensely respectful people.

Any tree is capable of standing up and whomping someone.  Very few actually get angry enough.

HD 7  AC chain  Whomp 1d10 + grab
Move 0/6  Int 4  Mor 7

*Half damage from bludgeoning and slashing.

*Rouse - Hateful trees need to spend one round "waking up", during which they twist and groan horribly.  They can spend another round uprooting themselves, gaining Movement 6.

*Crown - At the start of its turn as a free action, a hateful tree can transfer a grabbed creature into its crown, 30' up.  Creatures in the tree's crown are immobilized (limbs wrapped, branches forcing themselves down throat, etc).  They cannot escape without assistance, but can attempt a Strength check each turn in order to free an arm for the duration of that round.  This will only work once.

*Backbreaker - At the start of its turn as a free action, a hateful tree can deal as much damage as it wants to creatures grabbed in its crown.  It uses this ability to hold hostages and/or lure humans to it, drawn by the screams of their captured friend.

DM's Note:  I feel like I shouldn't really need to write out rules for what happens when a tree grabs you.  They're not very interesting or essential; any DM worth her salt can come up with something equally functional.  I write them down just as an explicit example.

High Druids

They have spent their entire lives purging their mind of symbolic thought.  Regular druids still struggle to purge its taint from themselves.  A vow of silence is a good start, but they still cry out in words if you prick them.

High druids have no such weakness.  They forgot their last word long ago.  (Perhaps it was their first word they forgot last: "mama".)  Their brains have been hardened through a  regimen of physical trauma, self-inflicted deprivations, and potent hallucinogens.

Language is beneath them.  They do not navigate the world as we do, symbolically.  The blue-green sky is not a word ("blue-green") or a some other symbolic crutch ("#3B8471").  To them, the blue-green sky is blue-green, nothing less.

It's not something you can describe in words.  That's sort of the point.

When they vocalize their grunts and spit their black spittle, there is no ambiguity of their intent.  They harness some primeval part of our brains, dredging up the cold, unmistakable tonnage of instinct.  They don't need to speak our language or read our minds.  Our intentions are already printed on our face and in our movements.  

They hate us and our cities with a clarity and depth that they will never explain, and that we would never understand.  They know about the zondervoze, and struggle mightily against them.

You will not see them.  When they close their left eye, they become unseeable to us.  When they close their right eye, they become unhearable.  The only ones immune to this effect are children, madmen, and animals.

They will hunt you in your dreams, a bear the size of the sky among the rain-slicked pines.  The high druid will catch you and devour you and in the grey fog that precedes the morning you will awake and devour your friends.

A flick of their wrist induces bone-breaking seizures, as all the pyramids of false knowledge in our heads come tumbling down.  They can pluck your heart from your chest, as easily as pulling a baby bird from its nest.

But these are their fast gifts, weapons that they can bring to bear in just a few seconds.  Their real powers are slow and immense, like plagues and ice ages.  Like the rapid wasting that occurs when your body's cells forget how to divide.  Like the swift murders that occur when every animal in the forest converges at your campsite, each heart full of malice, from the field mouse to the panther.

They are lice-covered gods.


  1. Yes yes yes I love scary nature and horrible strange druids.

  2. Dude, this is great. I've used your druid work as inspiration for a bunch of RP stuff I write occasionally, and when I was extending it I came up with literally the same ideas ala 'Green God'. I even used the same name.

  3. I remember mountain climbing,came upon 2 dead animals while doing so and realized "the mountain wants to kill me" the buzzing of the flies was the only music on the trail.

  4. What is the relation between the preists in Cauterus and Druids?

    1. Haven't decided yet.

      But druids aren't monocultural. Some want isolation, some want destruction, some want to educate the civilized idiots, so their feelings are probably complex.

      Current favorite idea: God-In-The-Woods is divinity-as-pirated-technology, where his cultists have hitched their carriage to a very powerful horse, with the intention of seizing power. So the cult would have components that are "in on it" and some that are sincere haters of civilization, bleeding over into extracatholic guilt and shaming.

    2. Interesting idea with great potential for it to go horribly wrong. Also how wide sread are druids?

    3. I don't like nailing down details unless they're super-interesting or super-extrapolatable. So the real answer is: as common as the DM wants.

      As to the setting, version 11.2.4, as it stands in my brain, I'd say that most forests have a druidic presence of some kind. (And there are a lot of forests.) All forests have a reason why you don't want to fucking go in them, and that reason is usually druids.

      Or at least, savage people that the forest shelters, Princess Mononoke-style. Druids are a subset of the savage tribes.

  5. I wrote a game which borrows from your druids much of its philosophy and even some individual sentences I thought were cool. It's all for this one roleplay server I play on. Here, take a read if you want:

  6. Does your underlying druid ideology draw from John Zerzan/anarcho primitivist ideas or am I just reading too much into it?