Sunday, January 20, 2013

Bestiaries and The Ubiquitous Sages


The Ashmole Bestiary (Source: Wikipedia)
Monster books are great. Let's look at some more obscure ones than the Monster Manual that everyone knows.

Bonus Bestiary

by Jason Bulmahn and F. Wesley Schneider

Paizo released this pamphlet as a preview of the Pathfinder Bestiary on Free RPG Day 2009.
  • It's marked "3.5 OGL Compatible" on the back, even though it uses the Pathfinder rules. I guess they're close enough that Paizo was hoping not to scare people.
  • At the time of printing, the Bonus Bestiary was monsters that didn't fit in the main book, and so this was the only place for them. Some of them I can imagine were missed (the Allip), and some of them less so (the Ascomid).
  • As of the Bestiary 3, I think all of the monsters in this book have appeared in other Pathfinder supplements.

Monster Manual II

by Ed Bonny, Jeff Grub, Rich Redman, et al.

A follow-up to the 3.0 Monster Manual. Hereafter referred to as MMII.
  • Pages 4-21 explain how to read a monster's write-up, but the information is complete enough that it could probably be used for making monsters too (a laborious task in 3.X).
  • The last two monsters (Scorpion Folk and Razor Boar) are designated open game content, which I think makes MMII unique among non-core WotC publications (Technically even including core: IIRC the books themselves are not OGC, only the SRD). I wonder what might have been.
  • The MMII is unique among the monster manuals for never getting a 3.5 printing.
  • I think the skull on the cover is meant to be that of an ethereal marauder, but I don't know that there's a "canon" solution.
  • This book is often remembered for its stupidly high-level monsters, but in fact, they do not comprise the majority of the monsters (see Figure 1). I remember it more for introducing me to many of the more off-beat monsters from older editions, such as myconids and thri-kreen. A lot of the new monsters are pretty uninspired though; it's very hit-or-miss.
Figure 1: Challenge rating distribution in MMII.

Legions of Hell

by Chris Pramas

I think I got this free with a subscription to Dungeon magazine a while back. It's pretty good though.
  • The stat blocks are irrelevant, as are the templates and prestige classes. What really makes the book worthwhile is the dozens of detailed devils with their schemes and manoeuvrings through the political structure of hell. Each of them has goals and activities outlined both in hell and in the material plane.
  • I appreciate that entries frequently play off of each other. For example there are rival dukes of rhetoric and eloquence (appealing to logic and the psyche, respectively). It gives the book a very complete feeling.
  • The book has occasional tie-ins with Hell in Freeport, which I do not own. But I would be interested to see if any of it also appears in the associated "world of Freeport" settings; I seem to recall that Green Ronin had all of their settings in a shared world.

The Ubiquitous Sages

As it was noted in "Let's Read the Monstrous Manual", many monster write-ups refer to "sages" with strangely specific knowledge and theories, implying some sort of twisted academic discourse in the D&D universe. When writing, it's an easy trap to fall into: when I do it it's because sometimes I just don't want to decide how something works, or I think something is a good idea but struggle to make it interesting, or I have multiple conflicting ideas. Basically, it's because I'm lazy (although I do try to catch myself doing it).
This fall-back device has some strange implications though. Take, for example, this passage from the AD&D Monstrous Manual:
Naturally vicious and almost evil at times, displacer beasts harbor an undying hatred of blink dogs. Many theories attempt to account for this enmity. Some sages believe it springs from antipathy in temperaments -- the lawful good blink dog would naturally be the enemy of a creature as savage and destructive as the displacer beast. Others argue that it is the displacement and blink abilities which cause this antipathy -- the two abilities, when in close proximity, somehow stimulate the nervous system and produce hostile reactions. Encounters between the two breeds are rare however, since they do not share the same territory.


The judgements implicit in "almost evil" and "undying hatred" contrast sharply with the pseudo-scientific prose in the rest of the text. On the other hand, the back-and-forth of competing theories suggests a reliable communication infrastructure, the use of "sages" and "others" plural suggests a community of academics, and the note that natural encounters are rare introduces the possibility of a controlled laboratory environment, complete with technology that can contain an ethereal blink dog.
The contrast of these prose styles might be explained by the method of writing of a real medieval bestiary: Greeks and Romans would hear stories from all over and write them down. Then monks would copy, translate, and illuminate, these manuscripts, and add a layer of Christian allegory. In some cases, these were then later translated again with annotations, like this one, leaving many competing authorial voices. I think this (possibly unintentionally) makes for a somewhat more "realistic" bestiary.

Naming the Sages

If there is an academic community however, these books do a pretty poor job of citing things. Proper citations and references might be a bit much, but let's at least name the sages. Take the above blink-dog passage:
Many theories attempt to account for this enmity. [Nymphitylus believes] it springs from antipathy in temperaments -- the lawful good blink dog would naturally be the enemy of a creature as savage and destructive as the displacer beast. [Marixtus the Optimist argues] that it is the displacement and blink abilities which cause this antipathy -- the two abilities, when in close proximity, somehow stimulate the nervous system and produce hostile reactions.
I think the addition of names is a minor change that adds a more academic tone. I can easily imagine several names reappearing throughout a text, alluding to the nature and reliability of different sources.
Of course, names for ancient sages should be Greek. So here is a table to name them:

Sage Names

A half-dozen samples:
  • Hegetius of Stratonicia
  • Hierocrates the Epicurean
  • Porphygias the Cynic
  • Phaeneas
  • Alexagnote Mallotes
  • Carneacydes of Athens
Epithets can be generated with a d100, or a d30 to exclude place names, or a d20 to exclude Greek epithets. On 1-2 in 6, I exclude the epithet all together.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Recollections of 3.0 and Roman Names

Recollections of 3rd Edition

The type of thing I did just recently, may be one of the better things I have chanced upon: I feel much better about getting rid of things after I've enumerated reasons I should, and I feel better about keeping things if I'm more familiar with them. For now, I'm looking at my 3.0 books, since they've been mostly superseded by 3.5 and Pathfinder.

Player's Handbook

by Jonathan Tweet, Monte Cook, and Skip Williams

This wasn't my first exposure to D&D (I got started from a 3.0 boxed-set), but it was close to it. It's well-used and held together with masking tape these days.
  • The first printings of the core rules (2000) were priced at $20 ea. I don't know if WotC planned to take a hit on the core rules and get it back in the extras (like consoles), or if they were genuinely cheaper, but I've ever since felt slightly betrayed by $40+ rulebooks.
  • The PHB was the first of the three core books to be printed. As such, my printing has a "2000 Survival Kit" in the back, containing basic monsters and magic items, and rules for DMing and designing a dungeon, as well as a sort of quick-start dungeon. I always felt that the other two core books were somewhat extraneous after these 16 pages.
  • It came with a CD. I don't know what was on the CD, but I think it was a version of Character Gen, which is now a nifty open-source program.

Dungeon Master's Guide

by Monte Cook, Skip Williams and Jonathan Tweet

So far as I know this book is largely unchanged in 3.5 anyway. The only thing I've found is that the NPC generation section is a bit better than in 3.5.

Monster Manual

by Skip Williams, Jonathan Tweet, and Monte Cook

The most important part of this book is the pictures, and those didn't change in the move to 3.5. Also, I think 3.5 has a few extras.

Psionics Handbook

by Bruce R. Cordell

This was the book that introduced me to psionics.
  • The system it uses is notoriously a mess. Some of these things were fixed in 3.5, and some of them were fixed by Dreamscarred Press, and some of them are fundamental, but the concepts are still awesome.
  • Soulknife is only a prestige class in this edition, although in 3.5 it becomes a base class.
  • This is the book where the Gith* d├ębut in 3.0.

Tome and Blood

by Bruce R. Cordell and Skip Williams

  • A paperback rulebook at the same price as my PHB, it's was a bit flimsy, but still feels quality.
  • Has a lot of good information on how to play an arcane spellcaster (e.g. "Fun with Prestidigitation" and "Researching a New Spell").
  • Has a lot of good fluff that I don't think made it to Complete Arcane: setting-neutral arcane organizations, wizard's hideouts, that type of thing.
  • I have a memory of an article detailing the design process of the Candle Caster prestige class, but it isn't here and I can't find it for the life of me.

Living Greyhawk Gazetteer

by Gary Holian, Erik Mona, et al.

I have nothing against Greyhawk, but this is far too in-depth for me. It details the political positioning and affiliations of every little piece of the continent. I've got a little ~16-page pamphlet with a quick summary, some maps, and some adventures and dungeons, and that's enough for me.

Treasure Quests

by James M. Ward

A lot of third-party products from this time are hit-and-miss. This is one of those "misses", generally speaking. It would appear the authors were well-meaning but sloppy, and it frequently refers to WotC's product identity.
  • The binding is wire-ring, which is nice. It lays flat on the table.
  • Each two-page spread has a map with a few rooms, some npcs and some treasure. Despite the blurb's claims, there isn't really much to link each map, or even each room, but they're not entirely unrealistic either.
  • There are recurring references to a wizard NPC named "Ren". Unfortunately these are never explained anywhere.

Green Races

by Timothy Brown

A campaign setting made entirely of monstrous races seemed like a neat idea, but suffers from similar problems to Treasure Quests.
  • Each region details the predominant inhabitants, the structure and tactics of their military, usually some sort of ruin in each territory, and a prestige class.
  • The only crunch in the book are those prestige classes.
  • The picture quality is low, and the backgrounds grey, giving the whole book a sort of photocopied feel.
  • There are further sections for "Non-Aligned Combatants" and "Dungeons, Ruins, Caverns, and Lairs". These are actually not bad; they've got some good original content.

The Book of Eldritch Might

by Monte Cook

I think this was the first third-party supplement I bought, and I don't regret it.
  • Really nice feats, spells, prestige classes, and items, although I don't much care for magic constructs.
  • Appendix I is "Random Rune Description Tables", which I had forgotten about. I'll have to remember these in the future.

If Thoughts Could Kill

by Bruce R. Cordell

A pretty mediocre adventure with some good ideas and some mediocre extras to show off a system with serious flaws (See above: Psionics Handbook).
  • One of the endings is pretty cool: letting one of the players re-architect the psionics system.
  • I feel like any non-psionic PCs would start to feel left out. Sure it has the option of letting an NPC be the psionic one, but I don't feel like that would be any better.
  • Interestingly, the psionic lich appears in this book, and also in 3.5 psionics. I wonder how the stats compare.

AEG "Adventure Boosters"

These include "Servants of the Blood Moon" by Ree Soesbee, "The Last Gods" by Kevin Wilson, and "Princes, Thieves, & Goblins" by Marcelo & Kat Figueroa.
  • These are a good form-factor and price: $2.50 for a 16-page "hot-dog folded" adventure. The last two pages of each are new material (monsters and items mostly)
  • The adventures themselves are somewhat bland and uninspiring. "Princes Thieves & Goblins" makes the mistake of devoting the whole first page to a history lesson, and "The Last Gods" is full of creatures that "cannot be harmed and are completely immune to magic" and the like.
  • Oddly the 3.5 series of similar adventures was very well-written IIRC, and much more sandbox-y.

Penumbra Adventures

These include "Lean & Hungry" by Chad Brouillard, "The Tide of Years" by Michelle A. Brown Nephew, "Three Days to Kill" by John Tynes, and "Maiden Voyage" by Chad Brouillard. These are all good; even the ones with boring premises manage to be exciting.

Roman Names

Just as the Great Khan has seen fit to extend the contest deadline, so have I seen fit to procrastinate further. I have taken a list of Roman names found here, and truncated and padded it until it makes a neat table:

Roman Names

A half-dozen samples:
  • Publia Hortensia Rulla (F)
  • Quinta Claudia Planca (F)
  • Publia Sicinia Longa (F)
  • Gnaea Acilia Dento (F)
  • Titus Horatius Stolo (M)
  • Marca Livia Barba (F)
In general the name has three parts:
Praenomen - This is like the first name. There's not so many of them, and I have the table set up to (very) roughly weigh them by frequency.
Nomen - This is a sort of family name. The female form can be made by replacing the "-us" ending with "-a". To roll a d120, roll a d10 for the ones place and a d12 for the tens and hundreds places. Treat a "12" as leading zeros unless the d10 rolls a "0".
Cognomen - This specifies which branch of the family one comes from. A d200 is rolled like a d120 except using a d20 in place of a d12.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Paying the Taxman

After so much blathering, I should apparently pay a tax. Unfortunately, I only found this out after I'd gone ahead with it, so I'm improvising here: a thing I've made and some notes on my "workflow" as it were, but neither is very polished.


Sometimes people ask me: "Ian, how do you know so much?" (this is true, but not in the areas this is about). The biggest trick is not to know actual facts, but to know where to find them. This is great, because the internet is full of facts, but they're not very well organized. I sometimes take it upon myself to organize things as I go (this is why I found MtG satisfying) and to take notes on my resources. Here are some of them:

Random Tables

I absolutely love random tables. I don't get to use them as much as I'd like, but for the density of information they convey, the convenience they offer, and the elegance of their mechanics, it was inevitable that I'd start collecting them. So this thing happened, and quickly spiralled out of control.

A table of tables
It's pretty messy right now, because the first thing is always to get everything in one place and then make it pretty. So I was waiting to share this, but I doubt it would have aver been finished anyway. The tagging is inconsistent, and it's missing a lot (for example, most of the Dungeon Dozen currently).

Classes, House Rules, Monsters, Items, Etc.

I also find lots of good things that aren't tables. I can't keep all of them, but if it appeals to me I add it to the Links to Wisdom wiki. Theoretically, the monsters wiki could also collect the monsters, but in practice I don't tend to add monsters anyway.
If it's a resource that can't be easily added to a larger one, I bookmark it. I won't bore you with a comlete linkdump (especially because 1. I expect this is familiar to a lot of you and 2. none of it's particularly well-organized), but here are some highlights:
I also have a similar collection of inspiration sources. Again, here is a sampling:
That sort of thing.

If It's downloadable, I download a copy, which means that I have a collection of random articles and things rivalling the size of my unorganized bookmarks. I may make some effort to go through these . . .

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Nitpicking and Reviews

I've accumulated a fair bit of gaming material that I'm only just now getting the chance to more closely examine and sort through. Here are some of my thoughts, opinions, impressions, and notes.
I'll do my best not to pick at every typo and mess-up, though it goes against my nature.

Left-to-right, top-to-bottom: Lamentations of the Flame Princess (with tiny dice), The Magnificent Joop van Ooms, Thrilling Locations, Monstercology: Orcs, DM Campaign Record

Lamentations of the Flame Princess (Grindhouse Edition)

Overall this is a really nice set of rules, and I'm glad I finally picked up a hard copy. In particular, the spells are awesome. I know there are a lot of reviews of this already, but I haven't read most of them, so I may re-iterate tired points.
  • The tiny dice are awesome.
  • The "Adventuring" section is ordered alphabetically, which means that things like skills aren't grouped under one heading. This is weird, because they're all essentially the same mechanic, but appear interspersed with unrelated things.
  • The color pages in the middle are unreferenced and unlabelled. This probably wouldn't irk me so much if they didn't remind me of photo plates from old technical books.
  • In two places I feel like I missing something: the spell "Strange Waters II" and the example item "Purple Lotus Powder Type II", which are both missing their "Version I"s. In particular I feel like Strange Waters II is an artifact from some editing pass.
  • The Referee's booklet (p. 76) has a table for converting AC between several systems. It is unreferenced and uncaptioned, which is a shame because it's a useful thing that could use more attention.
I knew this going in, but it irks me that there is no separation of game and setting. There exists no non-grindhouse edition, and many of the rules are specific to a certain tone of campaign. For example, the summoning spell is all I'd heard it was, but several of the special forms are too dark (or meta) for my tastes. I think I may use some of Scrap Princess's stuff should the need for substitutes arise.
Lamentations of the Flame Princess can be purchased at the LotFP store. A free version, sans art can be downloaded from the LotFP blog.

The Magnificent Joop van Ooms

by James Edward Raggi IV

The stuff about Joop van Ooms himself I may or may not use (it's good, but doesn't grab me), but the first half of the booklet is excellent for any city with a wharf or a black market.
  • The convenient (half-A4?) size fits well in the box for LotFP, which is convenient because I feel like it might get damaged on its own.
  • "Down on the Wharf" - a giant encounter table:
    • 8 - "[everyone dies, Amsterdam is gone, start over]" annoys me. It might be passable, but it's not very fun and the tone offends me. I'll re-roll the event if I want to, or interpret it as I will. "Seriously." or not.
    • 28 - missed opportunity for a stealth table, by ending the list with "wherever". A trivial decision could have been avoided by padding the list of cities just a bit.
    • 48 - people die in random and unexpected ways, and I guess that could be interesting. But I'll probably make this into an assassin-mage's Lightning Bolt. This also takes care of the awkward moment when nobody at the table has a d30.
  • As an adventure hook, "rocks fall, everyone dies" is even more out of place than in a table because there are no circumstances under which someone might be forced to "run with it". Ironically, this one gives better chances of survival and more details than the other one.
The Magnificent Joop van Ooms can be purchased at the LotFP Store as well.

The Bloodmoon Goblins

by John Grana

One of the first Kickstarter projects I backed, it was finally released (a little more than a year late) last month. Despite my annoyance at its delay, it seems like a solid product to me. Some of my players have expressed interest in playing goblins, so I may give it a try.
  • The lack of "splat" is surprisingly pleasing. I suppose I've just gotten used to ignoring lists of feats and spells.
  • The book keeps an informal tone, but restricts actual joking to frequent sidebars. This distinction pleases me.
  • It takes a decidedly old-school approach to the campaign, in that it starts off more controlled ("The king says to do this") but the end-game is ultimately player-driven ("We want to overthrow the king","We want to establish trade relations with . . .", etc.).
The Bloodmoon Goblins can be purchased at DriveThru RPG for (free sample at same).

Monstercology: Orcs

by Rick Maffei

Of all the 4E stuff I got, this book looked the most approachable (I know very little about 4E). It's basically what it says on the tin: a book about orcs. Unfortunately, most of the fluff (not all) falls flat and the crunch is too system-specific for me.
  • Physiology and Habits is the best of the fluff to me. I may make some notes on this section before inevitably passing it on.
  • Relationships with Other Races is something I hadn't considered before. Most of this I don't care for, but I like the Orc-Drow dynamic.
  • I don't think it was necessary to make four subspecies of orc and three new  cross-breeds. I just can't justify it.
  • The table Pocket Items (p. 43) was almost reason enough to keep the book, except that it's been done before (and non-specific pickpocket tables would also work). Upon further investigation the Flask Subtable does not actually have anything alcoholic, which is a grave oversight.
  • The names orcish deities are occasionally confused: I'm tempted to let it slide, but I take it as an indication that they were becoming bland and indistinguishable even to the authors.
Monstercology: Orcs can be purchased at the Goodman Games Store.

DM Campaign Record

Another pull from the grab-bag, and also technically a 4E supplement, but it seems pretty system-neutral to me.
  • Pretty good coverage of what I'd want to keep track of: calendars, major NPCs, character stats, deaths, custom encounter tables, house rules, etc. and also what books are allowed.
  • Does not have any pre-compiled content, which is something I've taken a liking to.
  • Has one of those aforementioned pickpocket tables, with a target social-class subsystem. Handily, this system is also used in the quick NPC features section.
  • Has one of those tavern name tables. Probably not the most useful of things.
  • Is missing credits for Interior Art, Graphic Design, and tellingly, Proofreader.
  • Although its a 4E product, it still has the OGL in the back, and the text of it refers to "Character Codex".
Then again, this was from a grab bag, so it's possibly a reject of some sort.
The DM Campaign Record can be purchased at the Goodman Games Store.

Thrilling Locations

A Supplement for the James Bond 007 Game

Contains rules for playing in casinos, hotels, restaurants, trains, boats, planes, and airports, as well as floor-plans for major locations in the movies. I will confess to not only having no familiarity with the system, but also to not having really watched very much James Bond.
  • Information overload. Some of these things really could have been left out:
    • Population of Monaco, pros and cons of citizenship (p.14-15).
    • Rules for roulette, baccarat, blackjack, etc. (p. 19-22).
    • Great Hotels of the World (p. 44-45)
    • Great Restaurants of the World (p. 65).
    • I could go on . . .
  • It's unclear to me if this is intended for the players or the GM. Most of it is clearly GM-only, such as who is secretly spying for who, and whether or not the wine is poisoned. But, for example "The Bed's Too Small" (a sub-section of "Notes for the Gamemaster" (p. 47-48)) contains two pages of tricks that players may wish to employ in securing their rooms. Many of them are not at all obvious to the player, so I don't see what use a GM would have for them.
  • It's unclear to me what this is: sometimes it reads like a set of pre-written unlinked encounters, sometimes like vicarious fiction about the life of luxury, sometimes like a leaflet from the board of tourism, sometimes like the CIA World Factbook, and sometimes like the toolbox I'd kind of expected.
  • The system has some wonky separation of character and role, which makes it difficult for me to follow what's meant to be happening sometimes.
Now that I've written all that, it occurs to me that this was probably not a great purchase. But if you're interested, or know something I don't know, I bought my copy of Thrilling Locations from Paizo.

Vornheim: The Complete City Kit

by Zak S.

Let's not end on that note, shall we? Here's a truly awesome product that is maybe the best thing I have ever paid money for. And the competition is all more expensive.
(Bear with me, my notes are rough and I don't have my copy with me.)
  • The covers being used as "drop-tables" to generate random values is immensely cool. But it makes me want to model the probability distributions of the dice, how different dice bounce and roll, how it changes if the edges are bounded, what biases are introduced by a right or left-handed player . . .
  • Something somewhere in the book triggered a ramble in my notebook about the common tongue that I can't figure out at the moment.
  • My lovely girlfriend suggests that the cursed tome could inflict more accurate psychological afflictions by using DSM-IV codes. If I ever figure out the dice to do that, I'll be posting it here.
  • When re-rolling on the table of book subjects (p.49) to determine the actual subject of the book you have just determined the language of, there is no need to discard rolls of other languages:
What I believe to be a Swedish textbook about the French language.

Which takes care of that particular ugliness (I dislike discarding and rerolling). A lot of the mechanics in the book are particularly elegant, to say nothing of the actual gaming material, which I can't wait to use.
Print copies of Vornheim are increasingly difficult to find, but a PDF can be purchased at the LotFP store.

Let's Read the AD&D 2E Monstrous Manual

While we're on the subject of really awesome things, here is one of the best things I have paid no money for. I can't possibly begin to communicate the number of ideas I've gotten from it, or the amount of time I've spent reading it (I'm still only in "G"). Whoever linked it to me, I hate you forever and thank you so much.
  • My only regret is the occasional dead link, usually to a picture. I suppose I'll have to go actually acquire a copy of the Monstrous Manual, but then I'm not sure I could call this a free product anymore, because this is the only reason I would buy it for money.
  • When I eventually finish, it might be amusing to go back through and tabulate the creatures with usable corpses or valuable eggs or some other recurring theme.
The threads are consolidated here, and formatted and indexed in a PDF here. The author, noisms, has an excellent blog, and this guy informs us that one of the contributors also publishes stuff on Paizo's website.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Grab Bag and Ancient Rome

I got my Goodman Games Holiday Grab Bag today (the sale is ended now). It contained:

The top row is things I'm definitely keeping (most of the 4e stuff is alien to me).
Which I think is a pretty good pull, especially considering The Esoteric Random Creature Generator was not only on my wish list, but enormously discounted:

So About Ancient Rome . . .

I'm thinking of doing something for the Great Khan's latest contest. Initially, I was thinking of making some sort of itinerarium, but I don't think I'll be doing that anymore. But for the use of others, The Orbis Project is an amazing resource.
For the entry I'm considering now, here are two translations of Vitruvius' On Architecture:
While I may or may not finish in time for the contest (13th January), I'm having a lot of fun with it, and I wish everyone else the same.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Plane of Shadow

I think my favorite non-material plane is the plane of Shadow. Conveniently, everything I think about how Shadow behaves and acts was almost perfectly mimicked by Apple Maps, inspiring this post.

Properties of The Plane of Shadow


The most obviously useful feature of Shadow is that not only is it relatively easy to reach (via shadows in our world), but that it does not map exactly in a one-to-one manner. Thus an experienced mage can travel long distances in the material plane very quickly via Shadow. However, the most direct route is not always the quickest.


Although travellers to the plane of Shadow feel perfectly three-dimensional, their two-dimensionality becomes apparent through their interactions with surroundings. Among other things, height becomes unimportant.

Time Indifference

Not only does our world's space not play nice with the plane of Shadow, neither does its time. In Shadow it's possible to spend years in a moment or to revisit the shades of last year. Pockets of time run across the plane, making a quilt of seasons and eras.


Just as height is an illusion in Shadow, so too is color, and the illusion comes and goes.

Strange Waters

Water does not take well to the plane of Shadow; constantly churning but without direction. Due to the flatness of the plane, it is often possible to travel across most bodies of water without fear of drowning.

Phenomena of the Plane of Shadow


Due to the flatness of the plane, clouds exist at a universal eye-level and create impenetrable fog wherever they go.


Sometimes, whatever substrate holds together the plane of Shadow, fails to exist for a while. These places are impassable until they return.


Blurs are not as dense as clouds, but do cause more alarming distortions. Finding anything specific in a blur is nigh-impossible, and seeing once-familiar things can be upsettling.


The most immediately dangerous hazards of Shadow, a burn is a roving point of blinding white light with no discernible source. Survivors describe the experience of entering a burn as that of catching fire, although it does not spread and no heat is felt outside of it. To gaze upon one is to invite blindness.

The Nature of the Plane of Shadow

Shadow is poorly understood. The classical explanation is that it is literally a shadow of the material plane, projected across the ether onto some substrate. Scholars theorize that this substrate may be the foundation of our world, or maybe the remains of a previous creation.
While travelling across shadow, one may encounter lost empires, alien structures, echoes of future calamity, or warnings from presents that will never be. Due to the vast and ever-changing nature of Shadow, we may never know all its secrets.

Pictures in this post are all from The Amazing iOS6 Maps.