Sunday, February 28, 2021

The Gardens of Anomie: Artpunk Dungeon Poem

Summary: An antediluvian beauty-nightmare. This is the second Dungeon Poem I’ve done. Something about this format works.


If you are a Starling & Shrike detective: Read Appendix 1: “Eyes Only: 7/2 0330 airborne op chalk” and proceed to O1, where you will parachute into.

If you are a bandit tribesman: Read Appendix 2: “Legend of Chained Waters” and proceed to O1, to where you will mush your lynxhound sled.

If you are a Cynthian Knight: Read Appendix 3: “Desert Warlock Interrogation Report” and proceed to O1, which you will infiltrate after departing your palanquin and servants. Note that Starling & Shrike and the Cynthian Empire are hereditary enemies.


Addition 1 (Airborne Brief) to Tab J (Operation Index) to Appendix 7 (Special Reconnaissance) and Appendix 9 (Personnel Recovery) to Annex D (Starling & Shrike Contracting Authority) to Council Order 1

Concept of Operations
Who: Enneaplane (prize) Swallowtail chalk + attachments
What: Night airborne operation
When: 7/2 0330 wheels up to 7/2 0530 time on target to 7/2 0730 touchdown
Where: S&S airfield to DZ 022 649 High Desert Heroönlands
Why: Special Reconnaissance and Personnel Recovery pursuant to Contract D114 SR0002 PR0001, client Duke Marcus Summerbird for the recovery of his seventh son Ashton Summerbird.

Report - Special Reconnaissance Cell Starling & Shrike
Target: Ashton Summerbird
Descriptors: Pale, chestnut brown hair, brown eyes
Anthropological Classification: Lordling
Known Associates: Antinatalist terrorist cell Ringwyrm in vicinity of Cities on the Plain
Last known location: Little Iguanas, Coastal Heroönlands Outlying Islands
Whereabouts: Little Iguanas outfitter reports Papinchaon, roughly “Place of Seduction”. CIC Heroönlands indicates site #00003 Gardens of Anomie, Heroönlands High Desert.

Report - Cultural Intelligence Cell Heroönlands
Apocryphal legends tell of a people from a Hanging Garden bringing gifts and good tidings to the coasts and islands. They came from the high desert, and in the words of an ancient chronicler, “bloomed the desert with their desire.”
This period ended when the rivers of their garden began to drive the people of the coasts insane with their runoff. “The Garden poured a cup of unwatered wine.”
The only complete records are from an incident when messengers were sent to the Garden to complain, and returned to the coast mutilated.
The coastal folk warred with the “Warlocks” of the high desert and were finally forced by the magic of the Warlocks to pay tribute in cash, crop, animals, and people.
Finally, one day the Warlocks retreated from their holdings on the coast and returned to their garden in the desert. The rivers dried up. From that day, severe sandstorms have plagued the high desert.
The warlocks did not disappear; to this day they raid caravans which leave the coasts.
The Gardens are designated site #00003 Gardens of Anomie, and are believed to be ruins but internal maps have yet to be made.

Contract - D114 SR0002 PR0001
Contractor: Recover Ashton Summerbird and remand him to the custody of Duke Marcus Summerbird of Vineforest.
Client: Duke Marcus Summerbird deposits 3000 ounces of .999 gold to S&S Banking Liaison Troutbridge upon receipt of Ashton Summerbird not having lost life (-2800) limb (-1000) or eyesight (-1000). S&S Contracting Officer Vineforest receives 300oz. D114 SR0002 PR0001 detectives and attachments receive 2700oz.
Addendum: Special Reconnaissance Cell Starling & Shrike mapping bounty on #00003 “Valley of Anom.” 800 ounces of .999 gold transferred to designated S&S bank account.


You may be a strangler from the Crag of Songs, you may be a mud-slitherer of the Place of Things, you may be a thunder-ravisher of the Heroön hills, and you may be an Affidavit heroin priest. 

You have heard the legends of the Hanging Gardens and the waters trapped within.

You know of the shrouded warlock-men in the desert’s highest house, and necessity has drawn you nigh them. The Queen of All the Rains is held captive by a host of devils, and she yearns to be set free again by the strength within your heart. You have been called forth for this mission to unlock these captive waters because you alone among your clan have a desire strong enough to energize the waters as in the days of old when celestial love bloomed their valley white and green. What is this desire?
Possibilities: Recovery of a lost artifact, resurrection of a dead friend, salvation for a doomed people.


A Missive from Sir Epixton Lycaemilae, Her Expeditionary Claimant to the Heroön Coast:

Records from every tribe and city along the Heroön Coast report once paying tribute to a lost hanging garden in the desert. Logically, this would be a site worth excavating. To any Knight who can find it for me I grant the right to all the plunder which can be carried out in a day by his manservants.

Note: Servants, Stewards and Sea Legionnaires, you will not be granted this right so look to your duties.

I will consign four palanquins with a dromedary caravan for luxury necessities to those wishing to undertake such an expedition, as well as a crew of porters and body servants from Port Cittacotte. Auxiliaries or Sea Legionnaires will have to be financed by whomever answers the call.

Now for some intelligence I’ve acquired about the nature of this “Hanging Garden”.

I recently purchased a prisoner from the Cape Cittacotte security forces. This man was captured in a failed raid on a caravan en route to Port Cittacotte from Dunwren. The surviving caravan guards described being assaulted by spells which conjured snakes and scorpions out of thin air. Several caravanners died of venom in the days following the attack; others gradually entered a dissociative and then comatose state, having to be fed by tube before being taken off life support.

Both the caravanners and the security men referred to the captive as a “Warlock of the High Desert”; a traditional enemy of the tribes and cities of the Heroön Coast. Their ability to conjure creeping things is well known.

This “Warlock” was stupendously resistant to torture; I wouldn’t have believed he could speak our tongue if the Cittacottans hadn’t assured me he could. I began with cold water, electricity, straightstick, cuts on the skin (working around golden plating that was somehow bound to his skin), and finally I worked his palms and fingertips with the blade when he swallowed his tongue. It was only after I pulled it free with pliers that he relented and deigned to address my questions.

Here is what I gathered:

-The Gardens are located on a ~270° grid azimuth from Port Cittacotte, given that he gave Mount Saggar as a point of reference.
-There are several hundred “Warlocks” in the vicinity. Tread lightly.
-Their “spells” are prepared at their Garden, taught to them by their masters, and cast via staves. No staves were collected from the ambush site; the warlocks retrieved those of the dead before retreating.
-Their society is controlled by “Anomites”. He described them as sky giants, however he began to panic while attempting to describe their origins, and when he finally calmed down he’d developed the wherewithal to bite through his own tongue and drown himself in blood. I thought this was about as much information as I was going to get and allowed him to expire.

Come join me at the Heroön Coast, and take your share of the archaeological and astrological plunder!

Sir Epixton Lycaemilae, Her Expeditionary Claimant to the Heroön Coast


North of B1.

You enter a valley of red, pillow-soft powder. The earth is starred by flecks of ghostly sunlight cast off of obsidian clusters in the ridgelines.

There is a structure in the heart of the valley. Pyramidal boulder-buildings with bodies inscribed upon them.

A column of five hundred men descends from the structure and enters the gehenna valley. They are the warlocks of the high desert.

They are clad in black hooded tunics girt to them by leathern cross-straps. Their fastenings are hung with golden sun-discs that bleed gem slivers laid between radial gold-veins. Pools of stained glass wine under fallen limbs.

Their arms, calves and chests glimmer like wavetops with golden plate and scale. Their armor has been bonded to their actual skin.

Sheets of tiny silver chains hang like silken spiderwebs between niches in their chests and shoulders. 
Tiny statues go slinking back and forth along their lengths, graven sphalerite icons of women in gowns, old men at desks, and clumps of children. Things these men have lost.

They have slithering flamberge daggers tucked into their broad belts, iron question marks with alabaster pommels touched to their necklaces by delicate chains.

Some have red calfskin gloves tucked beneath belts of the witch-weird flesh of river snails.

They wear armored torcs and lengths of canvas twisted around daily servings of tobacco in chains of balls around their necks. Their white teeth are studded with black.

They carry staves with unique hafts and cylindrical sockets as heads. One staff is ivory spun with cinnabar like fire through a milky sky, the next is alabaster notched with jade notching like platforms of grass against rainclouds, a third is glossy purple like a flutelike decanter of wine.

Each man has two dozen thin cylinders hanging from his raiment. Some clatter in apostle bandoliers, others clink from the hems of their tunics like wind chime tassels, a few have them fastened along their limbs to guard against sword blows.

Thin gold line-etchings writ deep into lacquered surfaces, bony enamel writhing with obsidian inkstains bearing bloodstain apples, some wrapped in sapphire snakeskin with actual snakeheads blinking at the tip, others are rough sandstone sarcophagi rioting with hidden multitudes.

In combat these cylinders are slotted into their staves and sent whirling with unearthly payloads. See Appendix 6: Fruits of the Garden for the most common types of warlock grenade.

These soldiers sing a funerary dirge. Expertise in ancient languages reveals the song as about the death of one’s friends in battle, with the porters murmuring over the corpses in disbelief. A boast of the horrors of war.

The people of the coasts believe that these men raid for slaves. This is wishful thinking. Their captives are not used for slave labor.

There are occasional flickers of darkness in the reddened clouds. These are warlocks gliding upon the arid winds with wicker wings stretched with spiderskin.

Perhaps three dozen Warlocks remain in the garden.


The walls of the six buildings are engraved with stony star-shapes summoned from vortices.

As you walk along the wall, the stars transform into male figures. They are ten feet tall and stand hand-in-hand with human women. Serpents lazily watch asymmetric lovemaking in the orchard.

There is a moment of carving. The giants scoop away their own genitals as one.

They destroy whole walled cities. Towns are laid on the table. People stand on the rooftops gaping as giants sit down to eat them. Towers are cross-sectioned by cutlery.

They build ships, stages, playsets where men are ground like wheat. Floodlights click on over blood-bowers. Scorpions are unearthed. A flood is led into the Garden.


The shelves of this room are lined with glass jars. They are filled with translucent desert scorpions whose hearts glow inside them. They climb one another with fury.

Thousands of crickets jump in the air. A man who periodically unstoppers each jar so the scorpions can eat. This man is the Aculeutor. He tends the scorpions, as well as the apiary, the sea snails, and the serpentry.

He wears a cloak of discrete diamond-shaped furs joined at the tips. The outermost carry black tassels.

His staff is a black and yellow petrified snake. It has a grenade launcher jammed down its throat. He wears a silver bolt from a heavy necklace. This bolt will unleash a cloud of diamond dust capable of grinding the eyes and denuding the lungs of those present.

He wears black monocles.

He speaks verses to his people.

The foes of our fathers have turned into women
And shake behind curtains and walls
I’ll fill them with soldiers and serpents and snails
For they are my progeny all.
I’ll poison the cities and towns and the tribes
and poison the armies and strongholds.
And poison the herds of the cattle
and poison the husband and wife.
And poison the maid and grandfather
and poison the wagon and wheel.
And poison the dog and his keeper
and poison the eldest sage.
And poison the rivers and snowmelt
and poison the youngest girl.
And poison the sacredest places
And turn grassland to wasteland forever.
And so I shall plow them with serpents
And that is the harvest they'll reap.

He carries a whip that is like a bolt of lightning. It is capable of permanently blinding when unfurled. Its touch leaves molten streaks and sends electricity coursing through the earth.

The stairs lead up into A2 and down into U1.


This is the Warlocks’ ammunition foundry. It is a dark room lit by lamps.

There are oceanic terrariums where sea-snails bask. Their winding spiral-shells are etched with moving black ink. Runes manifest and bleed away. Mastery of ancient languages reveals that the runes describe the contents of the room that the snail is in. The language is attributed to Mesolithic shamans. The humble creatures cannot broadcast their message further than their shells due to the Ichor Spear in E1. 

These randy snails pierce one another with oversized love darts. The Aculeutor plucks the darts and hangs them upon the walls. They will be loaded as ammunition into steel and ceramic cylinders which are bound in bouquets here and there. See Appendix 6: The Fruits of the Garden for a description of the warlock grenades.

A large pile of mashed antimony sits in a steel pan. It has been mixed with chalky white powder. If a spark touches the antimony it will blow Section A hundreds of feet into the air. The white powder is hagnail from U6.


The Warlocks remember the age before their wars with their songs and stories. They believe in their heart of hearts that the iron of this world has made it warlike. They see blacksmiths and steelworkers as dark mages. Ore as the arcogoetic cancer of the earth.

The Warlocks count three epochs in their history which they represent in their art and architecture using three stones and three ores.
The High Garden, with alabaster and galena.
The Military Empire, with sandstone and limonite.
The Prison of Water, with onyx and gold. This is the current age.

There’s a plot of pure soil here. It was taken from the arms of the Mother of Rains herself. The Warlocks revere pure black soil in this place of drought and metal. Whenever a woman miscarries in the Gardens (almost always after mating with one of the Warlocks’ exocosmic masters), the Warlocks secretly burn the fetus in the soil, wrapped in a cradle of medicinal herbs.


This area contains a plate glass catwalk.

One side leads to a disused festhall where guests once sat with giants. It’s nothing but a gray cobweb now.

But there is a creature on the catwalk. It’s 12’ tall and like a man but elongated. Its body is black musculata, arms and legs, porcelain wings and volcanic claws. Eight sapphire eyes pierce a milky face and obsidian shard-blades flange a crown like skeletal knuckles. It gazes down through the plate glass floor into an empty maze. Its vision is vast and it will see the players if they are not invisible.

It’s an Anomite. It no longer speaks. 


“They came as conch-clad biotites like energy anemone.
We called the angels Anomites, all micalike and anomie.”

The seven angels took on seven human bodies which the people had laid out for them. With our bodies came our bodies’ desires. The angels had no training in resisting these desires, no life guarding against them.

They held out for a while. They gave themselves to love, and on the bare desert they built a Hanging Garden for their paramours. White wavecaps could be seen among vine-girt canals. Manors under fruit boughs.

They raised many wonderful creatures in this place. Honeybees who made golden halls, snakes shepherding the outward ways, and sea-snails who sweetened the rivers like wine for the lovers.

The angels’ lusts grew morbid at last, and there was a time of horror and war for flesh. Finally, in desperation, the angels removed the instruments which had offended against them. Ceasing to desire mankind, they began to admire mankind, for they had witnessed great valor and self-sacrifice in the battles which they had caused.

The angels arranged cerebral entertainments in which they could bask in the valor of the wards, subjecting them to the most horrific situations to entice their greatest efforts. The angels built stages for this drama.

This is one such place, and the drama continues.

See Appendix 5 for information about the Anomites.

Those who will be tested walk in through the west or southeast archways.

The maze’s stone walls reach the plate glass ceiling above. The Anomites and their human guests watch men make their way through the labyrinth, a swirling cacophony of pathways which one can traverse only by flattening oneself sideways between the walls.

If the PCs are captured and sent to this room, they’ll be subjected to the Sidelong Fight or the Walk of Fire. In the former, the warlocks force men into the far side of the maze and the party will have to kill them with their bare hands while shimmying sideways between the walls. In the Walk of Fire, kindling will be laid along the floors and set on fire behind the party, and they’ll have to push their way through before smoke and fire consume them.

Entrants who survive will be allowed to join the Warlocks.

Across the years, the Anomites have become masters of composing bloodsports. They have seven schools of thought. Each Anomite his preference.
First: “Collapsing House.” Emphasises intricate setups and difficult solutions. Rarely completed by participants, but when they do the Anomites shower them with admiration and approbation.
Second: “Hunting Scene.” Beauty, artistry, and companionship among the participants.
Third: “Melee.” Free-play with any variety of objectives and incentives
Fourth: “New Collapsing House.” Requires logical deduction. No missteps allowed.
Fifth: “Synthesis.” Combination of Collapsing House and Hunting Scene.
Sixth: “Strategy.” Emphasizes sacrificial battle command and Lemmings-style use of humans.
Seventh: “Variety.” Changes in environment, objective, or number of participants while the scene is ongoing.


The Anomites once used this place to commune with a master from their home dimension. Now they hide away from him.

They do this using a large object in the center of this room. It it is like the interior of an emulsifying geode. It shifts in and out of focus. You stagger and sicken as you look at its ridges of blue on shining black like esoteric shooting stars.

Touching this thing will energize your body for a shift into the Anomites’ universe. You can’t go through right now because the Ichor Spear in E1 shields this cosmos from theirs. Touching the strange form will temporarily channel your experience so that you can take in layers of perception inherent to the other universe. This projection is like what the Anomites experience in our universe: a hitherto-unknowable ocean whose every eddy is an undreamed-of high.

It’s impossible to pull away from this experience. Your friends must help you. You will always yearn to go back to the otherworld pleasure bog. This is a severe drug addiction without withdrawal symptoms.

There is an Anomite here. It is an armored humanoid that’s as broad as it is wide. It hulks with spikes running down its back. Its rhomboid head is set low at an animal angle with a visor of powdered sapphire set within it like a full-helm’s eyeslit. This terror-terrapin has mercury in its veins. It draws back for strikes like a riptide before a tidal wave.

There’s a clicking noise deep inside it. With the noise comes fleshkilling gas.


The precious beeswax that turns men to gold is made here. See Appendix 6 for a description of Agrippan beeswax.

There’s a table where Warlocks lay to receive the painting of the wax, which will fasten itself to his skin as golden armor.

The coastal folk say that a Warlock can bought off by a flower. This is partly true; it would be more accurate to say that the promise of a load of flowers could save your life. This is because the Warlocks need pollen to produce their armor and stinger grenades.

The Agrippan bees waddle through the air like enormous puffballs. Their big eyes seem to glance at you worriedly as they they pass by. Their hexagonal heliopoli cover the walls and golden ooze swells from their honeycombs.

They’re used to the presence of people but they’ll sting if they’re irritated, turning your flesh to gold where they pierce you. The Midas-touched flesh will fall out in a nugget, leaving a chunk missing forever, taking nerve and bone with it if the sting was deep enough (a good one goes an inch deep).


There’s a lever here that controls the walls in B2. The Anomites may place a Warlock here to operate the walls. He can also fire his staff into the arena.


A corridor with movable walls and observation platforms. The favorite tests of the Anomites are the Death Race, the Press of Battle and the Funnel Web.

The Death Race is simple. Two or more entrants are placed at the eastern entrances. They must rush for the western door. The first through the western doors is safe; the doors will slam shut behind him with incredible force. The second entrant is trapped while the walls grind inwards incredibly slowly and loudly. It takes a full hour for the walls to meet, after which they retreat in a heartbeat and Warlocks come in to clean them.

The Press of Battle: Two parties enter this area from the east and west. The walled sections marked on the map grind slowly inwards and meet after 90 seconds. The parties must defeat one another, and can gain an advantage by hemming the opposition into the area to be crushed.

The Funnel Web: The participants enter from the east. A dozen strands of spiderweb pass between the walls in B2, but if any one of them is displaced the walls slam in so fast that B1 will be in the splash zone. Hundreds of colorful, meat-crazed poisonous spiders are released behind the entrants when the contest begins. Those who make it through the western doors are safe.


A pyramidal platform from which an Anomite can witness the agon in B2.


Captives awaken on red satin fainting couches beneath the boughs of potted ferns. This playset looks like the sumptuous drawing room of a beautiful country home. An elegantly brocaded floral curtain hangs along the northwestern wall and there are several small tables laden with marvelous delicacies. This should have an obvious appeal and suspicion for those who are hungry and thirsty after their sojourn in the desert. The room is completed by a grand piano, a grandfather clock, a crystal chandelier, a curving library with a rolling stepladder, and a great rolling table globe with a world map 100 years out of date.

There are several games that the Anomites like to play on their guests after giving them some time to discuss their situation and graze the hors d'oeuvres.

Bad News: A Warlock (dressed as a smart butler) enters the room and regretfully informs the guests that the manor is sinking. He explains that the haggis contains a bladder with enough air for just one guest to survive. If they share the bladder, they will all drown. The butler leaves, and the room begins to fill with water.

Gentleman’s Rules: A Warlock (dressed as a smart butler) enters the room carrying a platter. A wine-colored tartan runner is draped across the the platter and a number of daggers equal to the number of guests are laid upon it. Half of the daggers have silver hilts and half have golden hilts. The butler sets the platter on a table and informs the guests that once one team has killed the other, they may leave. It’s up to those present to sort themselves into teams.

Dark Offerings: The cakes, melons, bread loaves, oyster ice-beds and casseroles contain primed Warlock grenades and explode after five minutes. Irate snakes and scorpions swarm all over the room. Once there’s only one guest who isn’t dying, or after 15 minutes, the western window will open a crack.


There is an Anomite here. Its gossamer-white robe clings to fatless, fleshless gifts of snakeskin-wrapped muscle. It has a straining, skinless head with ivory coins upon the eyes for once this creature conspired to die. It has concentric wreaths of peacock feathers rising from its neck like an aura.

It is a keen lepidoanthropist.

This place is filled with resin-treated corpses with giant pins stuck through their chests into smooth and elegant display boards. Most of the bodies are remarkably well-preserved. Bronze plates are etched with names, phrenological details, and informational paragraphs on what is known about their homes.

Some names are familiar. Ascension. Bounty. Mandrake. Starling & Shrike. Troutbridge. Great Loom. Archzenith. These are modern City-States.

Some names are recognizable only to knowledgeable archaeologists. Arnamadon, felled by a rain of parasitic wooden snakes. Misruzei, imploded by the cosmic withdrawal of a miraculous building material. Navagastar, brought to heel by an ungainsayable legal advocate from before the time of man. The people of Navagastar scattered themselves to the winds. When they had all disappeared, so too went the slug.

These bodies are very ancient and decayed, especially the man from Misruzei. His black-boned skeleton is swaddled in a midnight-blue raiment bound fast around his crown by an iron-girt circlet studded with lapis lazuli. A starry nebula of gemstones is set in silver across his chest, a triptych of treasure like a geode’s law codes.

His white-gold bracelets weave around fat dollops of ruby. They’re bound by tiny golden chains, and he closed his eyes imprisoned in the high finery of the Anomite age.

He is beyond resuscitation.


This is a dank room of rust-colored masonry with collapsed skeletons once suspended by chains. Graven images describing their fates are set upon the walls.
Once, the Anomites attempted to categorize men who had failed in the Playsets, but they were overburdened by sheer numbers and gave up this science. Today, only those who succeed may be preserved in C2.


These are two small closets containing substances that are precious to the Anomites. The east room contains a trove of spermaceti and the west contains a fortune in ambergris. The Anomites love these smells and can follow them from several miles away.


Once upon a time, when the garden flowed with life, the Anomites insisted that their human servants follow the God of the Anomites’ cosmos.

The worship of this savage deity was forbidden when the garden fell from grace.

At first the Anomites permitted the worship of other gods, but in time the Anomites insisted that they were the only divinities fit for the Warlocks.

Some shrines to other gods do remain, though the Anomites have desecrated their statues as an example. There are shrines here to:

The Moon Bear: A huge bear of veined white marble like a passing cloud. She gazes down with concern upon her overburdened and heavy-hearted Warlock.

The Maven: A matronly figure seemingly melded with a chair. The Warlock can sit here briefly, close his eyes, and perhaps hear grandmotherly advice from this sagacious deity.

The Fates: A set of intersecting trapezoids forged from titanium, now beaten and bent like an old coat hanger. It is said that gazing into such sacral angles can help the viewer set straight his actions and align them with the momentum of matter at large. Now that this depiction of the Fates has been so ruined, it is unclear whether it can no longer guide a petitioner or if this is actually now possible.

The Warlocks sacrifice their hair here when times are good. A finger is the ultimate sacrifice, but if the Anomites discover it then the offender will be cast back into the Playsets.

A boy wearing a canvas sack is knelt in prayer before the Moon Bear. A Warlock stands behind him with his arms crossed. Most Warlocks have a few plates of gold fused to their arms, legs, and bodies, but this man seems to be almost coated in the stuff. He wears an encompassing purple cloak with an ermine hem and hood, and his face is a golden mask. There is ravaged skin between his armor plates. He is the Honey Knight.

He was a mighty mason taken captive on the dunes. His test in the Playsets was a driftwood castle with children tied among the highest branches. The Anomites set the castle on fire and watched. The mason rescued one child but couldn’t reach the other. He carried his ward through the fire and the flame and was horrifyingly burnt. The mason is now beloved of the Anomites. They fused his sloughing flesh with the musculata, mask, greaves and bracers of gold honey-plate from the bees of paradise. He cannot speak, but his boy can tell the party about him.
The Honey Knight despises the mutilated angels. He only cares for the boy he rescued, who the Knight spared from the Anomites’ dining table by invoking the sole wish granted him for his successful performance.


This magical chamber was a great risk for the Anomites to construct because the obfuscating power of the Ichor Spear in E1 is not unlimited. It is the purest manifestation of their wish to explore mankind’s potential.

Each column contains a sea snail in a crystal chamber. These snails’ spiral shells do not lazily manifest runes describing the environment like in A2, but whirl in ticker-tape salt-and-pepper reams of antediluvian sigils.

The Anomites’ understanding of this universe’s underpinnings has been utilized to create a real-time existential overwrite function accessible by all local parties. They use it to force humans to wage battles of creation against one another.

The sea snails provide an ambient neurolinguistic user interface so that words spoken in this place rewrite the physical environment as best the gastropodous interpreter network can manage.

Complex or large modifications take time to execute and may happen slowly and visibly, giving the opponents a chance to counterpose against the threat or to get out of the way.

Naturally such a function set is extremely disjointed, imprecise and unstable. Quantities of matter are likely to be disturbed by any activity, crumbling into unbound clouds, having their temperature set at random, or turning local space into a kind of protocosmic vacuum which spreads in spikes and corrupts local matter into unrecognizable and barely-perceptible states.

It is up to the GM to interpret the effects of what those present are saying.

The snail pillars cannot be directly manipulated by the interface, but could be damaged by creating an object above them and letting it drop, for example.

The Anomites hold ultimate power in this place, and may override whatever is happening here with a single word. Unless they are unaware of it.


A prize taken from Occultists fleeing a purge in Port Cittacotte stands upon a table draped in purple.

It is a sage green candelabra inscribed with white sigils of universal rebirth.

Few things will survive the closing and the opening of the universe, but one could temporarily step outside the cosmos by breathing the incandescent ekembrites imbued in the fat of this antediluvian candle. They would wrap you into an alternate energy form for a time, and then release you back into this stratum. Things would be lost in your reassembly, but perhaps an element of your consciousness would survive. Consciousnesses can sometimes be translated across universes, but often information is corrupted in transit.

When you burn this candelabra and sit upon a small steel dais between the candles, you will be entwined and perforated by the mites of the steel mist and written into energy currents imperceptible to mortals of this dimension. You will be spun into the energetic undercurrents of another universe in a format that is capable of keeping your consciousness more or less contiguous by identifying and filling a set of reoccurring energy streams that are compatible with your pattern. Your location in our spacetime will be marked by the mites until it is time for you to return.
Roll a d20:
1: 71 hours
2-10: d20 years
11-19: d100 x d100 years
d20: d100 x 1M years

When you reenter this universe, your consciousness will erase the consciousness of the human or large animal who is nearest the place of your departure and you will occupy their body until natural death. 

If there is no suitable host available, for example if you utilized the candelabra to escape an extinction event, you will be held in a suitable buffer pattern such as a star until an organism capable of hosting your consciousness has evolved.

Information corruption is inevitable in this process. Roll a d20 for effects:
1-5: -2d20 IQ 
6-10: Retrograde amnesia
11-14: Amygdalian pattern corruption: Extremely poor impulse control and lack of fear
15-18: Hippocampal pattern corruption: Extreme furtiveness and neuroticism
19: Pattern breach: entities rewrite your personality for their purposes, or install a backdoor or spy.
20: Left-body paralysis

This is one way to escape death.


This room is divided in two by a set of bars with a steel door.

There are several prisoners behind the bars. 

Count Uriel Underglaze: His people conquered many city-states beyond the Wine and ruled as an international warrior aristocracy. They held power for generations, but finally a peasant revolt of unprecedented magnitude overthrew them and butchered most of their high families.
The survivors have not lost their abilities. Count Underglaze has all the skills of a medieval knight, an Early Modern reiter, and an Industrial-era rancher. His equipment has been stored in the sodden coffers in U2.
His people generally no longer wed amongst themselves, nor live as organized warriors. Their culture will fade in a generation.
He could be used as a replacement PC, or encountered in the Playsets.

Sheshach: A linguist from Port Cittacotte. He can interpret much of the ancient text and symbology found in the Gardens. He has been hit with a snail’s love dart and the boundaries of his perception are expanding. Soon they will no longer exist and he will be permanently incapacitated. If he is brought to C6 while he is still able to speak, he will become a kind of demigod until his mind totally disintegrates.

Ashchenaz: A bounty hunter from the coastal hills. He rides among the wandering tribes of the Heroön Coast and delivers his bounties to the cities woven with horsehair through fresh piercings around their bodies, which Ashchenaz holds in a rope.
He is fearsomely scarred, hulking, and has been known to simply pick up bounties over his shoulders and carry them off.
His kit has been stashed in the coffers in U2.
He could be used as a replacement PC, or encountered in the Playsets.

Ashton Summerbird: The Remittance Man: This is the quarry of S&S detectives if any are present.
He is pale and has big cheeks, big cheekbones, eyes like knives. His head is low on his shoulders.
As a minor son of a Vineforest Duke, he was given extensive combat and wilderness survival training throughout his entire upbringing. He traveled here with nothing but a compass and the clothes on his back.
He was given the test of the children upon burning driftwood, just like the Honey Knight. He laughed at his good fortune, for he was prepared for deadly combat and horrific torture. He simply stood back from the castle and admired its collapse, thrilling at the shrill screams.
The Anomites despise him and keep him alive only because of the terms of their covenant. Ashton expected the Anomites to admire him for his logic and ruthlessness, and their contempt infuriates him.
He will conspire to use the party escape the Gardens, but will resist attempts to bring him to his father’s estate in Vineforest. His father knows Ashton’s soul and will put him in a dungeon for the rest of his life.
If the party insists upon taking him to Vineforest, Ashton will appear to cooperate but wait for his chance to cause the party’s destruction. Should they try to take him to Vineforest by force, he will become their nemesis until killed. If he escapes he will wreak havoc upon the world.

He will try to kill the Honey Knight’s boy, safe in the knowledge that the detectives have come to rescue him, or believing that the party are wandering gunmen who won’t really care as long as they can profit from him.

He longs to throttle fawns with his bare hands.


There are ships here in a one foot deep layer of water in an open cistern. They are smashed and set at sinking angles. The ships are impossibly curvaceous and have bay windows at the waterline and fireplaces in the bilge. Whoever designed these has never seen real ships before.

Scenarios which captured PCs or other unfortunates might be subjected to here:

Spillage: The ships are greased with whale fat. The water is treated with a poison which will necrose flesh on contact. The participants must cross ships, crates and planks to reach the “shore” on the edge of the cistern and escape.

Magazine Hit: One of the ships contains a powder magazine which is counting down to detonation. The participants must determine which ship contains the explosives and then hide on the far side of another ship, because deadly wooden shrapnel will fill the Playset upon detonation. Warlocks will fire water moccasins at anyone who enters the water.

Broken-Backed War: This exercise is set at the twilight moment of a naval battle where all ships are sinking but the sailors and marines must fight on. One side must defeat the other or the survivors of each ship must defeat all others. The ships are close enough for leaping between them, but the participants must be quick because the surface of the water has been coated in oil and set on fire. The ships are copper-bottomed but made of wood, and will become red-hot before collapsing.


There are a small group of botanists from Feyglade here. They belong to a secret society which comes to this place to watch Playset games, paying the Anomites in pollen for the thrill.


Several prisoners from Archzenith are here beneath the spectator boxes. Their leader is an Archzenite noble who fancied himself an explorer. There are two savage Affidavit spider-lodge warriors with him as bodyguards, and a pair of enslaved POWs from Palmgrove who were acting as the noble’s palanquin-bearers.

The coffers in U2 contain the group’s possessions. Though disarmed, the Affidavit warriors will gradually sprout extra arms and eyes once they begin to hunt. If a playset requires a single victor, one will submit to the other to be executed.


This room contains a raised dais. Its surface contains an intricate clockwork of intersecting loops of unknown metals, some cream-colored, others black pearl. A great golden spear stands in the center plate. Its haft is laid over with spirals of coral notched like an ibex horn. A conic mound of outré ichor stands at the top. This burbling pile is an opaque, sunny blue like tropical waters.

There is an Anomite here. He is a creature half-petrified. He longed to wear the body in which he was born, so he bound himself in volcanic ash until much of his flesh became like rock. He still lives, and hungers. An ambergris brazier hangs within his ribcage and its silkclouds snake between spice-speckled bones. He wears a flame in his face.
This one has never trusted his osseous chassis and he left a structural backdoor with which he could shed his body. The Anomite will do so if trapped, for his pseudoenergetic form is only a transliterated approximation of its exocosmic original. The Anomite feels he will die soon and return to his own dimension for judgement, and he will not risk doing so trapped in a humanoid form.

The Ichor Spear is the Anomites’ sole defense against their furious master. The spear is fastened to this point in reality with such wards that it cannot be removed by any temporal power; but there are atemporal powers which may unfasten it. The living stone in U6 is one such example.


This place is a mechanical nightmare of articulating armblades, piston levers and whirling steel cables on complex, unpredictable wall track patterns.
Normally entrants must simply escape this place. Occasionally they must survive for five minutes, or recover an object from the center before escaping again.


The Gardens of old have been preserved in this place. Weeping bells of tangerine and green, vines lit with tiny sprigs hugging the walls like paper roses, reams of butterflies to make a Cynthian lepidopterist green with envy, stately flowers with roots thick enough for bark, gazing holly-heads with seeds thick enough to eat, little succulents like white grapes burbling from the soil. Light pours in from the desert outside, and tiny holes in the floor allow in wet air from the aquifer to steam the room. The scent here is heady, and it would be tempting to join the plants in languid repose were it not for the Anomite tending garden here.
He wears plates of ivory and jet in a harlequin diamond pattern from neck to heel. His red eyes gleam behind a twinkling black mask held before his face like a music stand, and a golden wreath sits around his sunken temples.


This place is a dizzying network of white ropes and nets suspended in the air; looking around it’s like entering a giant spider’s nest, but actually it’s where the Warlocks spend their sleeping shifts. There are six layers of hammocks from floor to ceiling.


The Warlocks live on caravan raiding. This is where they keep their bounty. Aching moats of rice greet the party, bags blasted open from being flung across the floor casting alps of shivering snow-spikes. There are bales of barley by the bushel wound in twine and hairy as filth-matted dogs, buckets of beans like ten thousand inverse eyes all distended pupil with a fleck of white to bear the burden, sausages rotating in space like medals for contemplation, pears on pears in baskets pushing stem down mottled flesh like sister-sabotaging bucket crabs, whole heaps of jerky on bloodstained butcher paper, the innermost reaches an ephemeral glow like the last light in the eyes of a dying life, sweet potatoes with skin split in transit like autumn in the earth, dumplings losing face and deflating beneath the onslaught of pretzel sticks tearing them gaping and shivering, spilling the salty broth of their innards across the crystalline skin of ripe red apples whose fragrance dominates all, the spring victor, orchard king, casting word of plenty across the meek voices of subtler cohorts. The Warlocks bathe in the grain, riding ass-first down dusty piles of oats, diving nosefirst into vast quivering casks of strawberry jam, swinging around on whole banana bunches like lemonade chandeliers, climbing the vast ropes of licorice all slimy and dank like the pseudopods of a giant spider’s nasal parasite. The giant erotic ass of a plum. The butter bounty of coffee beans, mudstaining cocoa lumps like unicorn turds, calamari tentacles which point accusingly over the ice, you, you, you.


This is a bitter standing pool which draws from the aquifer here. Enchanted water lays beneath the Gardens, but this water is not it. That said, it is a pleasant place, and water lilies float atop the dark water.

There is an Anomite here. He is like a palanquin with four bent legs wrapped regally in a crimson cape, its edges brocaded in gold lace. He lays against a throne of velvet built into his own body, its soft surface pierced with brazen studs. 


The Warlocks use long trains of dogsleds to rapidly traverse the dunes.

Each sled train contains four or five distinct sleds. Each can be loaded up with cargo, prisoners, or mounted with weapons, and indeed, several of these sleds have machine guns or mortars bolted to their bases.

The dogsleds are a likely mode of escape, but the Warlocks will follow you if you do not disable every train except the one you’re going to use.

This place is guarded by at least a dozen Warlocks, although if they hear trouble elsewhere in the complex some of them may leave to find out what’s happening.


This room contains a number of blocks, platforms, and little masonry arches. The lynxhounds yawn languidly. They have draped themselves over nearly everything in this place, and many will need to be shoved off their perches and fastened into their harnesses before they’ll remember their duty.


This is the underworld. It is a dank and sodden place and you can see strands and weaves of thornvines like brown barbed wire in the darkness. There is a slight electrical current running through the marshy ground.
Note: I have modified the layout of this map from its original manifestation by enclosing it.

This is where the Beastmaster breeds his serpentry.

Balls of snakes in mating pits glint with static electricity throughout the wet soil. You will startle the snakes if you come too close to a pit, and they will burst outwards in a 15’ sphere. The skin-on-skin of their eruption charges every snake with powerful electricity.

They are not the only denizens of this place.

Many brides perished in those first days of horror. Some of heartbreak, some of hemlock, some, finally, upon the dining table. But some remain.

They were pushed beneath the garden and their quarters were given over to the strange animals bred by the Anomites as ammunition.

The crones wander here in the tunnels between deadroot and foundation where the vines are poisoned by spite and thirst, though sacred waters one poured past them to caress the garden’s thigh.

They have not forgotten the angels’ solar caress, though the angels have forgotten them. These women have not perished, near as they are to the mother of rains, but their subterranean yearning has warped them into loping hags as the roots have become poisonous coils of thorns.

The crones are still sympathetic to the Anomites. They remember the days when the Hanging Gardens were built for them. They believe the Anomites will remember them yet. They know that many women did not survive the fall. They are unaware of the Anomites’ self-emasculation.

They carry poisoned pins which inflame wounds. They will hang you on poisoned thorns and torment you with the pins for threatening their angels.


There are several wooden caskets in which the Warlocks keep treasure which they don’t want to turn over to the Anomites. Firearms all have a supply of ammunition.
Crate 1: The kit of Count Uriel Underglaze. A lance tipped with an anti-tank grenade, ten .44 revolvers (eight to be worn down the chest and two at the thighs), a chain shirt, three shortswords and a longsword in a kind of joint scabbard, a beautiful tapestry depicting the settling of his homeland, and a bag with 110 ounces of gold coins.
Crate 2: The kit of Ashchenaz the bounty hunter. A 20’ horsehair rope with a kusarigama at the tip, a basin for producing mare’s milk liquor, a chain of blood sausages made from horse blood, a coach gun and a bundle of javelins. The javelins are connected at the tips by a net, so when thrown they will expand so as to entangle a target.
Crate 3: The possessions of the party from Archzenith. A noble’s gilded silk sash, dual smoothbore shotpistols, and the Affidavits’ powdermanes, boning knives and rotary jezzails
Crate 4: A supply of illicit cheese smuggled to this place to be sampled by friends of high-status warlocks. A wheel of gruyère with a cheese knife stuck in it, a tin of water with a net in which a number of orbs of muzzarella 'e vufera bob, and, stunningly, a lightly capped truckle of casu martzu in full bloom with a dessert fork resting within.


The waters wait, dark and hidden with congested magic.

They curl about themselves, soft and azure, glowing in rich, warm soil beneath the fallow planters of their fallen gardens. This is where the waters built a bower in which to lay, a place of richness in an ocean of sand. They dream of the sun and sky that once made them glitter, now cut off by the aching stones of the Garden’s walls. The waters feel the passage of the winds and wait to once again meet such a desire as inspired them in the cool spring. They bore fruit for the love of angels and womankind, and this valley was a bedsheet for their rapture. Alas, the hearts of men and angels are inconstant, and when blood began to soil the sweetness of the snails, the waters recoiled and recalled their melody from the darkening valley. 

With nowhere to go in this vast desert, the waters fell into the aquifer and wept while the garden hung with husks and the stones which had known dancing feet cracked beneath the weight of their bereavement. 

If you gaze into this startling pool of glowing sapphire water, it will languidly extend a warm pseudopod and caress your face before falling back once more. It will quietly say a prayer for you as you go on.

The partymember whose desire is strongest may lay with the waters if the Anomites have been destroyed. His desire will bloom the waters and bring the desert to life again, and in return the waters will give him what his heart desires.

See Appendix 4: The Valley in Bloom if this occurs.


There is a cathedral in the deep. It is a remnant of the earliest times, when the Anomites first came to the Garden.

A pair of statues are half-sunken in the mud. They are tall, thin, beautiful men, their arms like reeds, their faces sightless and serene. Their alabaster bodies are stained and cracked. This was what the Anomites looked like before they clad themselves in ceramic, steel, snakeskin and stone.

A steeple pokes from the mud at an odd angle behind them. It reaches for the heavens with terracotta tiles. Its walls are graven with four faces of civilization: the Sun Lion, the Moon Bear, the Burning Eye and the Clockmaker. These deities are worshipped by some in this world. Should the party remove the terracotta and stucco they will find that the steeple is made of an unknown, shimmering, lavender-colored stone-metal. This was once and still could be a kind of transuniversal rebroadcasting station.


This altar is accessible only by passing through a harsh squeeze. The hags have grown too large to enter; only the Warlocks come here now. The altar is to the Hymnsinger. Those who have suffered psychic damage can kneel and be guided by the goddess of prayer-song to recite improvised verse about their lives and deeds in trochaic tetrameter. Those who do so may roll a d6:
5-6: The singer creates a memorable narrative in their song and it helps them fit their memories into a logical schema, soothing them and helping them metabolize their experiences. The effects of their psychic damage are lessened by whatever metric is appropriate.
1-4: The damage they have suffered is not of a kind that can be healed by the ordering of thoughts and experiences.
This can be attempted once per character. Characters who have a knack for this kind of thing may attempt it twice.


A stone is set waist deep in the water. It was once a tall and majestic boulder, a tablet of law for a thousand tiny tribes who once gathered in harmony before his kneeling shoulders. The people besought him when the angels came, “O stone of worth and prophecy, give our bodies unto the angels that we may bear the gift of God.” And the stone did as he was asked, and gave union to seven men of the tribes and seven angels burning with celestial fire, for the angels too were stones.

But the angels were usurpers, and they induced the men of the tribes to play treason on the stone. They rolled him down into this clammy nightmare cave, and now the loping hags rake him with their bone-white talons to keep the length down. The waters of the aquifer were set loose by the dimming of the garden and have poured past the rock in its eternal retreat ever since. He has been much diminished, his graven laws all but washed away, his hulking form shrunken like a pickled head.

The party finds him half-submerged and crooked in waist-high water. He wants revenge and will say as much. He will speak to them in terms of their strange missions, for time and erosion have humbled him. He will offer to unlock the Angels’ greatest treasure for the party, and will promise whatever else he can give to remove him from this grinding hell. Two men could roll him, four could carry him. He describes the treasure of the Anomites: a great golden spear with spirals of coral etched like an ibex horn, outré ichor bought at blood-price from otherworldly outlaws when the Anomites first took human lovers. This burbling pile is an opaque, sunny blue like tropical waters and is priceless beyond priceless to those who would study the places where the incompatible matters of universes intersect and misalign themselves. The stone will offer to use what power he has left to unlock the spear from its moorage, telling the party that the spear could destroy the angels for good.

When the spear is removed from its docket, a great burning sigil appears silently above a nearby mountaintop. It is an esoteric, angular eye made up of livid, blinding, steam-wreathed beams of fusion. It glares down upon the valley of its betrayal. This is a manifestation of the Angels’ master, and the removal of their ichor spear has unhidden them. The mountain weeps lava like bloody wax beneath the Burning Eye, a lament for lost children.

The valley heats up horrifically as the Burning Eye bathes it in macro-microwave, flash-focusing around the bones of the warlocks. His marrow-superheating sight blasts their bones like alabaster shrapnel through ragged flesh and fabric, their remnants flopping out like spongiform aquatic animals. A burning blasting pillar-ray erupts from the Burning Eye’s starlight iris and rakes through the valley. What is left of the Garden’s stone goes blasting wide beneath the pulse of godly mighty thunder-wrath, the beam of vengeance long denied. The superpowered electrolaser is like a thousand bolts of lightning woven together into a constant beam. It demolishes all discrete forms in the valley.

That is the punishment of the mortals. For the Anomites there is a special destruction. Shimmering and then all-consuming vortices grow around their bodies, localized gravitational axes that twist the Anomites slowly and with relish into coiled ropes with barely-recognizable ridges of color showing what had been where. The vortices of the Burning Eye wrap the their horrifically constricted and elongated bodies around each other into a great multicolored beehive of twisted material, which it then turns its electrolaser upon and sears them into a molten bundle of inconstant colors and weeping materials. The angel-coils of the Anomites will remain in this bundle as it cools, and there they shall experience the full rigor of the Burning Eye’s justice where their trained, insatiable hunger can meet no peace.

They shall fuse and harden, experiencing a long, slow death of starvation and calcification, and their fading essences will not be captured by their home universe. This woven, spiral-bodied cask of angel flesh would be of immeasurable worth to anyone wishing to study the mysterious science of the divine. 

Players will need to face d4 deadly challenges each to survive this cleansing, such as staggering through superheated air, lifting burning boulders out of the way to shelter, dropping behind crushed masonry and rolling to put out one’s burning clothes, rushing to a blasted Warlock and using his burble-boiling gore-slicked corpse as a fireshield, diving from the way of an armed collapsing warrior statue, or evading the very beam of the Burning Eye.

Once the last of the Anomites have been twisted into their barrel-form, the great electrolaser will dissipate and the Burning Eye will grow translucent and disappear, bathing the charnel valley in night again. 

If the stone has not been destroyed it will relax and go dormant unless the GM thinks of something he’d like to use it for. The rock was once a forge chimera who spent a day and a night immersed in molten gold and emeralds; his siphoned ashes became the rock.

As noted in U4, there are people in this world who worship a deity known as the Burning Eye. Worshippers of the Burning Eye in good standing are not affected by its onslaught. However, if the Eye detects the trace of submission to the Anomites upon the players, it will automatically annihilate them with the Warlocks.

Alas, the vengeance of the Burning Eye is fell and indiscriminate. The Waters beneath die in the heat. This causes a sandstorm which will never end, beginning roughly fifteen minutes after the disappearance of the Burning Eye.



First an azure glinting in the darkness of the sand. The night falls in the day and prismatic lights whip in flitting weaves far over the desert floor. Suddenly an upswelling from hidden waterspouts and electric azure light erupts from a deeping prison. Latent seeds are spread and burst into life, filling the waiting air with ferns, saplings, sprigs and boughs. The water washes your feet and kisses your calves. Roots take hold and wander beneath the earth as flagstones crack and moan, giving way to the union of the waters and their hero.

There is no more red sand in this valley, it is resurrected into rich soil. The mountains are covered in the bright and shining fur of newborn trees, a rainforest in the desert.

The old pyramidal houses of the garden crumble. The lavender cathedral in the deep rises, and inside of it the lover of the waters will find what he has sought.


The people welcomed them and gave them pseudo-human forms.

The angels cried for our sun and earth, shackled by skin and nerve. They turned their burning souls to love. They made the salt mesa a Hanging Garden for those they loved. They made the waters sweet with their creations.

The people lived like gods, eating of the fruit of the trees and waiting on their tall and lovesick masters. They danced among the courts of the coast, and the kings there agreed that it was a fine thing that angels and women should make love upon the earth. The first of the Warlocks were the angels’ highest advisors, the shapers and assemblers. They were men who could find no wives, so many did the angels take.

Their impulses could be contained only by a hair’s breadth.

Those of the river valley came to the gardens. They told the Anomites that the river of Anom had been bothering them greatly with a plague of poisonous snails. The Anomites replied that the waters were most pleasing and then cut the noses, ears and lips from the messengers in a paroxysm of desire.

The innocence of the garden had been shattered in the eyes of the cities and tribes.

The angels gave themselves to gluttony. At first there were burnt sacrifices, which the Anomites devoured thereafter. In time they no longer could bear cooked flesh and turned upon the living. They first ate the flesh of their wives.

There was once a seventh Anomite, but he was murdered- truly murdered, that his soul would not return to their home universe- when he refused to join in their carnivorous covenant.

With the women gone, the men of this place turned upon their herds until the Anomites devoured the animals too.

With the withdrawal of the waters and the dying of the Hanging Gardens, where were the Anomites to eat of meat? Who were to be their cupbearers in the drought? Here I am, said the flock. I am the meat. I am the cup. And the shepherd ate of the lamb.

And so the war of raids began.

The Anomites’ foe was a mother with seventy sons, walled cities all. They were burnt and emptied by the Warlocks, the women to the platter, the men to the Playsets.

The very presence of the Garden turned the nearby tribes to repentance and confession. Their only hope became the destruction of the earth, and in their anguish they prophesied it. And then one day, the warlocks left and went back to their Hanging Gardens.

The Anomites had pared themselves down until only hunger and bloodlust remained. Their whole bodies are masks.

The war has ended, the raids continue.

Their blood is mana to man.


Tales of the Warlock-raiders of Anomie describe sorcerous staffs with many powers. Many means of capturing you for the blood pits or the tablecloth.

There are three categories of staffshell: dumbfire, airburst, and discarding-sabot.

Seer’s stone: Dumbfire crystal linked to a Warlock’s glass eye.

Fin-stabilized discarding sabot serpent shell: This is the extreme long-range Warlock Grenade due to the lightness of its warhead. A snake encased to the neck in a rigid, fin-stabilized tube. The user adjusts the snake-release range by moving a sliding knob up or down the staff to set the detonation fuse before firing. When the missile has reached 90% of its range, a gunpowder charge detonates and frees the enraged serpent to strike at whomever is near. This round is also useful as a close-range chemical weapon because the serpent’s venom sac can be squeezed with a thumb, ejecting a spray; this can be employed once a day or so assuming the serpent has been fed. The fin-stabilized discarding-sabot concept would be a valuable prize for city-state engineers.

Scorpiorion shell: Airburst round loading dozens of small megavenomous scorpions. Their hemotoxic stings bloat up extremities to 2-3 sizes their original mass, drooping, useless, red, and necrotizing into the bloodstream. This shell uses the aforementioned sliding knob to set the scorpiorion shell’s detonation fuse before firing.

Agrippan beeswax stinger grenade: The fruits of the hanging garden’s beekeepers, this alchemical wonder bursts in the air and sprays a mist of molten beeswax all over the target area. Once exposed to oxygen the beeswax bonds at the molecular level with whatever it touches and gradually sets into a ceramic as hard as steel over the course of about a minute. Simple water will prevent the bonding process if applied within 30 seconds, though this is a sacrifice Anom’s enemies were often unwilling to make. This wax is the origin of the golden-armored bodies of the Warlocks; not gold or gild but hard-set Agrippan beeswax permanently bonded to their flesh. This is a sacrifice. The unnatural and interruptive grafts bother the warriors all day long.

Armor piercing discarding sabot love dart penetrator: The love dart of a psychoactive river snail from the time of the hanging gardens. It is sharp-tipped and somewhat rigid, but bendy enough that you could use it to strangle a foe from behind. The dart drips in anticipation. If it hits, d4 snails begin gestating inside the target, emitting megadoses of hallucinogen intended to incapacitate the target while leaving them alive during the three-day gestation period. While the hallucinogen is technically nontoxic, it will gradually psychologically dissolve the target.
5 minutes: the victim begins to see the material world as disassociated from his or her personal frame or schema; instead of seeing the world in an instrumental way, the victim simply sees the matter of the objects in question and must focus very hard to know what to do with them and what their context even is.
8 hours: the victim will have developed a radically open personality.
24 hours: the victim will only barely recognize familiar forms; they will be capable of gardening unsupervised, but that’s about it.
48 hours: the victim is completely psychically dissolved and able to respirate but not swallow
72 hours: the snail worms its way out of the host’s rectum.
The only way to stop the process is the surgical removal of the embryonic snails. The surgeon should be careful as the snail ichor carries the hallucinogen. 
An alternative round is the love dart flechette canister round, which contains a bundle of love darts from sea snails younger than the ones which standard darts are derived from. When these canister rounds burst, a shotgun blast of small love darts hits the target area. Each delivers only a single embryonic sea snail rather than the d4 from a mature penetrator.

Diamond dust round: The cloud from this airburst round perforates lungs and degloves eyes.


  1. This is mind-blowing.

    I really enjoyed the experience of reading it untethered from the structure of the dungeon. It becomes poetry then, the kind that bypasses the intellect and goes straight to the senses, where understanding becomes less important than experiencing.

    However, pinning the text down in this way does something equally amazing. Seeing everything in context like this makes it possible to share it. If this was run correctly it would transcend playing a game (which I'm not belittling - that is important in and of itself) and become a chance to make art together.

    Thank you very much for sharing this.

    1. Thank you very much. I think the dungeon context is a part of the power of this format; that you’re trying to make it beautiful and also the reader knows just what he or she can do with it

  2. I just found your blog this week, and I’ve been binge-reading it in my breaks at work. Absolutely stellar stuff, the best of artpunk. Really baroque, in the best sort of way. Keep doin’ what you’re doin’.

    1. I am tremendously pleased to hear that, thank you Ben. I will keep trying to write things that are worthwhile


Art - First Run