Star Wars: Storytelling and History

My father wasn't very good at inventing stories, but he tried very hard. He borrowed liberally from stories he'd seen before - radio plays, old novels, things he'd read as a kid and thought his children would like. We didn't have TV, movies were a rare treat, and we hadn't learned to read yet, so his stories were amazing. He could describe things very well, and he always knew how to play with tension and pacing.

One of my favorite stories he told had everything I liked in it. It had a princes and a brave hero. It had swordfights. It had space aliens and cannons and pirates and robots and danger - lots of danger - but the heroes made it out OK. I don't think he told this story more than once, but I remember it vividly. It was about a boy named Luke who came from a farm, and his friend Hans Olo, and their bear friend Chewbaka, and how they rescued the Princess from the evil Garth Vader, and how she got revenge.

Yeah, my dad told Star Wars as a story of his own (although he never claimed to have invented it), and let me tell you, the mental image I had of the story was very different than the film when I finally saw it years later. It wasn't wrong - he didn't change anything - but there were some things he couldn't describe or skipped or forgot. I think he'd seen the film once at that point.

This was before the sequels, mind you, or the prequels, or any of that. Star Wars for me, for a very long time, was a story and not a film.

Space Opera

The term "space opera" means something special. "Science fiction" is about science, about the potential future effects of things we have now, about a plausible way the world could be. 

Space opera isn't about the future. It's about the present. It's about us.

All really great operas need a few things. They need to be noisy. They need to be dramatic. They need to be beautiful. And they need to speak to the heart... and not to the mind. No physics. No science.

Nobody goes to the opera because the plot makes sense. Nobody in opera acts exactly like a real person, but everyone acts like something inside every real person. The soul, maybe. The subconscious. The bit that wants to scream into the night and set things on fire instead of eating ice cream and watching reruns on Netflix. Nobody in real life has ever sung about their morning plans and hopes and fears the way Calaf sings in Act 4, but we somehow wish we could.

And, in the words of Anna Russel, you can put your opera where you like. Set it in the Roaring '20s or in the Wild West. It's just set dressing and costumes; nice to look at but it's only one part of the experience.


Star Wars is often called a saga. Someone's rewritten it into an actual saga, if you're interested in that sort of thing. It's excellent.

Anyway, sagas are usually stories of one family, with mythological additions, later authors, and side-notes. Characters from one saga show up in others. In this case, this is the saga of the Skywalkers. The scope is galactic; the focus is one chain of people, one small set of events. You could re-write the story to take place in Feudal Japan or Iceland. Take away the laser swords and the starships and the saga doesn't change because the people in it are still people.

Mos Eisley, Claire Hummel

The Last Jedi

I liked it.

Spoilers start below.

OSR: [Prefix]gorgons

Everyone knows about the demogorgon, even if the name doesn't mean very much and is based on a mistranslation. Here are a few of the lesser known -gorgons.


People Monster
It makes sense for the most powerful demon in the Abyss to carry this prefix. They say hell is other people, after all. As the prototypical monster, all [prefix]-gorgons will be based on it. Presumably, all gorgons look similar, but the demogorgon is extra fancy because it's in charge.


Without Monster
The usual state of affairs. No gorgons about. That will change if the Demogorgon's plan succeeds.


Human Monster
Two horrible human heads, for horrible human arms, and two horrible human legs. A parody gorgon created in the Abyss for amusement only.


Negative Monster
If the demogorgon has 2 baboon heads, tentacle arms, and chicken legs, the Antigorgon must have no head, tiny human limbs, and regular legs. Some sort of peaceful divine akephaloi?


Away Monster
The messengers of the Demogorgon. Apostles. They look like tree-squid-lemur things. Not bright but very quick.


Rule by Monster
Or in this case, rule by demogorgon. One man, one vote, two heads, four lovin' arms and all them suckers.


Monster Measurer
An instrument for detecting gorgons. Sometimes referred to as "HP", "Sanity" or, "Hirelings".


Monster Measure
The distance from the demogorgon's torso to the tip of one tentacle. Fluctuates. Will be used as the new standard of measurement when the demogorgon takes over.


Monster Eater
Possibly an ally. Possibly you, if you kill one and want to gain strange powers.


Excessive Monster
A really big gorgon. The size of a village, with dozens of cillia-tentacles and two heads like excavator buckets. Also known as a macrogorgon.


Diminutive Monster
A really tiny gorgon. Gets into your bloodstream via your ear and starts eating your lungs and gallbladder. Causes some diseases. Can be lured out with fruit. Also known as a microgorgon.


Law Monster
When the demogorgon takes over and starts writing laws (!), it'l be a legigorgon. The lex gorgoni is going to be a very strange law code, and probably the only one to specify penalties in hectares of flayed skin.


Single Monster
One head, one tentacle, and one chicken leg. Wheels along on the ground like a demented fidget spinner. The demogorgon's half sibling.


Dead Monster
The ideal state for any gorgons encountered.


Many Monster
The worst possible state for everyone; the best possible state for the demogorgon.


Few Monster
If you can't have a mortigorgon or an angorgon or a demogorgon, an oligogorgon will have to do. 


Backwards Monster
Two tentacle legs, four arms ending in heads, and two grasping chicken-claws where its head used to be. The demogorgon's younger brother. Kind of a waste of space, but tolerated. Also known as the fratergorgon. Nobody's sure who the mater and pater gorgons are - nobody wants to find out.


Many Monster
A fractal gorgon. Each main branches into two necks. Each smaller neck branches into two more necks. Etc. Tentacles festooned with tentacles. Legs like scaled brooms. Incredibly wise, because it has infinite brains. Harmless, because its claws and teeth are infinitely small. Currently stuck in a cupboard in the Abyss, trying to decide if it will starve to death if it eats one biscuit with infinite heads.


OSR: Metallic Dragons

The eight Chromatic Dragons were split from one ur-dragon by a giant prism (or something similar) in the dim prehistory of Creation.

The eight Metallic Dragons were created in a different manner. Metal is magic - everyone knows this. It's why gold has such a hold on people. It's solidified, condensed, trapped magic. The eight metallic dragons were born from eight metals, empowered and ensouled by others, consciously or accidentally or in dreams. They were raised, created, and set loose; dark mirrors of the chromatic dragons, but in every way their equals.

They are powerful, immortal, and immensely proud, but their creation has left them flawed and incomplete creatures. All dragons love flattery, and all dragons hoard things, but no two dragons are alike, just as no two sunsets are alike. All dragons are intensely magical. They are difficult to kill.
Side Note: There are no "good" or "evil" factions in my setting. It's just... people. I need dragons to suit. Some ideas run by dubious outside consultants.

Gold Dragons

Disposition: Vain, Patronizing, Sympathetic, Detached
Common Hoards: Religious Texts, City-States, Palaces, Statues, Masks
Breath Weapon: Paranoia

Gold dragons are the most majestic and desirable of all dragons. They love to be adored. They generate cults spontaneously. All other living creatures are treated with charitable indifference; kindness without empathy... or effort, if possible. Mere proximity to a gold dragon heals wounds. A gold dragon will listen to your story with a kind, smiling face and make a token effort to help you. They build vast palaces and indifferently rule city-states in warm climates. They prefer isolation; the better to ensure nothing distracts their subjects. Gold dragons can breathe paranoia, infesting targets with waking nightmares, lunatic fears, and crippling doubt. They also move with liquid grace and the momentum of a landslide.


Silver Dragons

Disposition: Meticulous, Strict, Scrupulous, Persistent
Common Hoards: Wealth in Any Form, Total Collections (one of every bird, one of every beetle), Books, Crippled Fraudsters
Breath Weapon: Sleep

Silver dragons are keen-eyed contract writers and organizers. Their lairs are living memory palaces; each thing has a precise and properly marked place. They despise frauds and forgeries; cities have fallen to the wrath of a cheated silver dragon. Instead of a loose pile of treasure, they build compartmentalized, numbered, and monitored vaults. A well-documented ledger sends them into rapturous ecstasy; tales of broken contracts can rouse them to fury. Their breath causes sleep; sometimes for a few moments, sometimes for years. Cruel silver dragons might sign a contract for a task to be completed in ten years, then put the opposite party to sleep until a few hours before the deadline. They'll never deliberately break a contract... but they are more than happy to engineer situations where the other party is forced to default.

Mercury Dragons

Disposition: Passive, Considerate, Self-Obsessed
Common Hoards: Mirrors, Glass, Great Scholars
Breath Weapon: Rage

Alchemists might expect mercury dragons to be fickle. Instead, they are utterly fixed in one way - complete imperturbability. A mercury dragon is never wrong and can never be corrected, contradicted, or surprised. They live in a haze of perfect equanimity, with all possible opinions and actions balanced and given equal weighting. Therefore, they are blessedly inactive. They polish caves by their passing, construct smooth on top of mountains, and sleep with one eye open. They are master tacticians, scholars, and counselors, but their advice will always incorporate multiple points of view. Their flesh is liquid; their touch induces madness and slow tumorous death. Their silver-fog breath sends people into a delusional rage.
Frances Lane

Copper Dragons

Disposition: Magnanimous, Polite, Dishonest, Sadistic
Common Hoards: Wealth, Shattered Buildings, Supplicants, Slaves, Beautiful People
Breath Weapon: Miserliness and Cowardice

Unlike all other dragons, copper dragons give their hoards away freely. They seem to delight in giving gifts. They might rob, pillage, and extort for a century, only to turn around and release their wealth into the world. Their gifts are never random and always cruel. A poor man will be given unimaginable wealth. The dragon will watch as paranoia, new-found friends, or poor choices conspire to destroy the recipient. They also capture or purchase slaves and delight in giving them to unwelcome owners or arbitrarily freeing them. A copper dragon's breath induces self-interest, greed, and cowardice (via fear of losing one's life). This is their main method of acquiring wealth; they corrupt others into hoarding wealth and then rob them.

Bayard Wu

Antimony Dragons

Disposition: Prudish, Inquisitive, Contemptuous
Common Hoards: Skeletonized Undead, Rare Metals, Severed Heads, Surgeons
Breath Weapon: Lust

Antimony dragons are bizarre creatures. They can shift between a dark, liquid, and scaled "female" form and a dense metallic "male" form with ease. In their "female" form, they move with incredible stealth and can use shadows as portals. In their "male" form, their scales absorbs metal weapons, growing stronger and thicker with every blow. They are disgusted and fascinated by living creatures, especially mammals. They might be temporarily placated by abasement and humiliation, but eventually, they'll destroy any creature in close proximity. Toxic dust falls from their scales as they walk; they will resolutely refuse to believe their dust is toxic. Inside the soporific clouds they breath, creatures find their judgement altered and their perceptions warped.
Side Note: The exact effects of the antimony breath weapon's attack should be carefully adjusted to fit your campaign. Maybe it it breathes marriages. Maybe it breathes cartoonish, dancing-in-the-moonlight love and makes everyone waltz. Maybe it makes everyone tear their clothes off and dive for the bushes. Your call.

Iron Dragons

Disposition: Peaceful, Lethargic, Dim
Common Hoards: Shiny Objects, Flatterers, Impressive Statues
Breath Weapon: Violent Death

Iron Dragons know there is a war coming. They are conserving their energy. They rest in bogs or ruined cities, coated in layers of rust and slime. Each one is the size of a castle; some are the size of cities. They leak blood and molten metal. Simple statues of impressive scale and scope flatter them; they have no artistic taste, but all dragons love flattery. Once in a century, perhaps, they could be persuaded to breath instant death onto the enemies of their flatterers, but only if they're convinced it's the best way to prevent a larger conflict. Sword wounds appear instantly. Invisible arrowheads plunge into flesh. The iron dragon yawns and retreats, its skills untested. In fact, they aren't very good at fighting, but when you're the size of a castle and you can fly it hardly matters.

Frances Lane

Tin Dragons

Disposition: Duplicitous, Shy, Humble
Common Hoards: Criminals, Lost Art, Secrets

Breath Weapon: Overweening Pride

Tin dragons have few virtues and powers. They are typically the smallest dragons. Some are barely the size of a horse. They can't see (heavy scales grow over their eyes) and they fly slowly. Their main power is being underestimated; their breath can convince anyone they are an invincible dragonslayer. All the tin dragon needs to do is play dead or lure the would-be attacker into a trap. Tin dragons tend to be highly religious - another anomaly. They hide escaped convicts, rescue people from persecution, and generally try to be helpful. It rarely works; tin dragons are notorious for doing precisely the wrong thing.

Joon Ahn

Lead Dragons

Disposition: Grim, Stoic, Smug
Common Hoards: Wealth, Bets, Messages
Breath Weapon: Frenzy and Death

The seer dragons. Lead dragons are thankfully rare. They have molten hearts and radioactive eyes. They leak poison and ooze corruption. Few living creatures can spend any length of time near one; their very nature is sufficient protection, leaving aside their thick scales and blunt, crushing teeth. Lead dragons are assured of immortality; they will carry messages forward in time, take long bets, sculpt using stone and water, and wait patiently for problems to solve themselves. They know a great deal about the past. Convince them they are in danger and they'll rise like nuclear fury, shedding white lead and spraying toxins in all directions. They can breath a prickling cloud of invisible gas that first invigorates and then poisons.


Occultum Dragons

Disposition: Unknown
Common Hoards: Unknown

Breath Weapon: Unknown but probably apocalyptic

There's never been enough occultum in one place to create an occultum dragon, but someone out there is working on an occultum dragon egg. Whatever hatches from it will be massless, frictionless, and pure directed magic, untroubled by physics or morality.


OSR: Ludicrous Loot from the Veins of the Earth

The rewards from the Veins should be as great as the dangers. Here are some ideas for rewards surviving characters could haul to the surface and swear it was all worth it. Some (like Occultum, obviously) are adapted from lines in Veins of the Earth.
Coin weight, 8-9th century Egypt

1d10 Items

1. Occultum

Glassy, massless, and smooth. Occultum slowly accretes into tiny translucent gold-black grains. On the surface, you'll be lucky to find a few grains. In the Veins, water and time concentrate particles of occultum. Grains are melted into coins; coins are used to buy impossible things. The highest level currency. Occultum is raw stabilized magic. It's depleted uranium.

An occultum coin the size your thumbnail is worth 100gp in the Veins. On the surface, it's worth at least 1,000gp. A bag full of occultum coins is a king's ransom.

Uses of Occultum

Warning: uses are theoretical, untested, unbalanced, and dangerous.

I. Magic Amplifier.
A staff or wand made from at least 10 occultum coins (1,000gp, 10,000gp) allows the caster to:
-reroll any dice used to cast a spell
-reroll any numeric effects (damage, duration, etc.) of the spell.
-increase effective caster level by +2 (or equivalent)
 The caster's ego automatically inflates to fit their new magical prowess. They also attract attention. Occultum in coins is safe; weaponized occultum could upset the local balance of power.

II. Magic Boost

Melt and occultum coin over a magic flame and inject it into your forehead. Save. If you fail, explode. If you pass, gain +1 permanent caster level or magic dice, etc. You become pale, twisted, and very powerful. Roll on the Veins Effects chart twice. You will die of more-or-less natural causes in 1d10 years.

You can try again, but you'll need to roll under half your Save. 3 coins and you've got a 99% chance of exploding. Your life expectancy doesn't drop further and you don't roll on the Veins effects charts. Some aspiring liches use this method to fuel the last stage of their transformation. Wealthy underground races keep various kinds of spell-slaves. The deadliest varieties have syringes pre-wired into their pineal glands, ready for the moment they'll be activated and set loose.

III. Construction Materials

If you want to build a deep carbon observatory, use occultum to hold the lens. If you want to build a time machine, use occultum to hold the crystals. It's a malleable, stable, and resistant material. Where inferior metals fail, explode, melt, or change into goats, occultum will persevere. It's the unsung hero of a thousand doomsday projects. If you want to build something insane, you'll need a bag full of occultum.

2. Stone Lightning

Every time a volcano erupts, huge storms form overhead. Ever wondered why?

Lightning can become stuck in stone. It follows a winding crystal path into the veins and fossilizes. Sometimes, a miner chips off a piece. The survivors, if there are any, carefully extract the rest of the bolt.

Stone lightning looks like a frozen tree branch. A 3" piece is worth 50gp in the Veins and 200gp on the surface. It can be discharged as a lightning bolt wand, but the true power of stone lightning comes when it is used on stone. All damage against stone is doubled, meaning a very small section can destroy a castle wall. Larger pieces can level cities. In the Veins, using stone lighting effectively is difficult. There's always closer exposed stone. On the surface, the bolt will fly straight and true.

3. Bedrock Charter

Stones are proverbially lazy. They can move. They just don't want to. They're stubborn, grumbling, miserable, and conspiracy-minded. You can negotiate with them if you are patient. This charter, a roll of parchment and leather the size of a sword case, is the result of centuries of negotiation, compromise, bribes, and betrayal. It gives the bearer total command over stone. It's been stolen, traded, lost, and rediscovered many times.

When unrolled, the bearer automatically gains the attention of all stones in a 100' radius. The bearer can speak with them and they can respond. The default attitude of the stones towards the bearer is, "truculent", like unionized dock workers on a Thursday before a long weekend. They'll do what they're told (assembling a city, disassembling a city, diverting a river, spitting up gems and metal), but they'll kind of half-ass it and complain the entire time.

The stones will try and engineer situations where the contract could be lost, burnt, or shredded. They aren't very good at it.

4. Drugs

Really. Good. Drugs. Think the Gin Craze, the Opium Wars, the Cafe Societies... If this stuff gets into your setting it spreads like wildfire.

5. Soul Tablets

A small clay tablet the size of a pea. Swallow it and you never need to eat. You can instead draw life directly from the environment and other nearby people (unless they've also eaten a Soul Tablet). This effect has a ~30' range. In caves, this still means finding living things and mingling with them. On the surface, where life is abundant, no effect. You'll waste away if you're stuck in a desert or on the moon.

One person's effect will barely be noticeable. Five people will start to brown grass and kill insects if they stay anywhere overnight. Twenty people will start draining mammals and birds in a few hours. An army will create a wavefront of death.

Soul Tablets come in bags of 100 and are typically worthless in the Veins. People down here know about the downsides. You can't really exist in a community if you take one; you'll slowly leach the life from everyone else. And if everyone takes one, the combined life-leech will kill all local life, requiring constant movement or slow death. It's not usually worth it. People dying of starvation may disagree.

But on the surface, the pills are worth at least 100gp each. Anyone who dies (of any cause) after eating one will have a head full of Soul Tablets (~100). The price will plummet; the effects will spread.

Soul Tablets are delicious and smell appealing to animals.

6. Half-Mile Cloth

A broad cloak. The inside has a pattern of cold, alien stars. The outside is black. If the cloak is spread on the ground, black-side up, it creates a hole half a mile deep. It's not a portal, so you will need a rope or a way of surviving the fall. If the cloak is placed with the star side upwards, anything placed on the cloth is launched half a mile straight upwards.

Larger bolts are available.
The Swords of Glass

7. Dream Key

Carved from under-meteorite iron. Fits into an ear. Allows you to walk into people's dreams, affect their lives, find memories, etc. It can be difficult to tell when you've left a dream. Experienced dreamers may be able to bring unreal objects back with them into the waking world, including loved ones, impossible treasures, and more keys.
Side Note: before introducing this item into your games, please read The Arabian Nightmare by Robert Irwin.  You may want to read it anyway.

8. Sideways Citadel

The key looks like a shovel made from bone and basalt. Insert it into a crack in the rock and turn. A passage opens to the - your, that is - Sideways Citadel. It's a castle hidden in the rock. It's always deserted. The front few rooms are safe. Anything beyond that links to other castles, times, and locations. The key is worth at least 1,000gp in the Veins and about the same on the surface.

9. Fossilized Angel

The size of a coffin. Should be heavy, but it isn't. It's awkward to haul but it floats like a soap bubble. Projects a consecrated aura 50' in all directions. No creatures in the aura can lie or insult anyone. No one in the aura can die (even if mangled, decapitated, etc.). Any water in the aura becomes holy water.

10. Red-Gold Crown of Command

Carved from phoenix bones. Anyone who kneels, swears to be loyal, and kisses the hand of the wearer will be resurrected if they fall in battle within sight of the wearer. If they were killed by a spell or effect that left their body intact, they rise permanently. If their body is no longer intact, they are raised until the end of the battle, or the crown's wearer falls asleep or is killed.

1d5 Books

1. Der0 Manual of Surgical Alterations

A bundle of paper, leather, skin, and metal. No spine, no covers, no index. Reading any part of this book inducts you into the der0 conspiracy (level 1).

If you read the book and consult it like a manual, you can perform any surgical feat you describe. Unusual materials will be required; silver coins, hair, nails, straw, dead cats, human blood, and earwax are good starting points. Just for starters, der0 surgery can:

-transfer an effect or ability from one creature to another (dragon's breath, troll's regeneration, beholder's eye-beams)
-grant +1d6 or -1d6 to any Stat.
-transfer memories or implant false ones.

-raise the dead.
-cure or inflict any disease.

Anyone who has der0 surgery performed on them is also inducted into the der0 conspiracy (level 1) if they are ever made aware of the fact. The surgery is not neat; strange lumps, buzzing sounds, side-effects, scars, digestive disorders, and madness may result.

2. Prophecy Cylinder

Contains compressed prophetic vapours (made from decaying prehistoric angels deep beneath the earth). 2d6 doses. Each dose is worth 1,000gp. Anyone who inhales the fumes make a true and accurate prophecy. The event listed will occur in 1d6 weeks; usually, the prophecy will only be recognized after the event has occurred. If your players don't feel particularly prophetic, generate one by these methods: 1, 2

3. The Riddle of Steel

A book on metallurgy. Worth at least 10,000gp on the surface (payable in installments, provided a war does not interrupt them, which it will). Clearly and patiently explains how to construct blast furnaces and make very good quality steel. Also explains coal mining and basic pump design. The book is fragile and water soluble.

4. The Unnatural Gourmand

An illustrated cookbook inked onto flayed skin. Covers recipes for every living creature. You can't flip to a given creature; you need to have a dead one in front of you to open the book. If you follow the instructions in the book, you can reroll any effects from eating a creature. The recipes will only include ingredients available to you without extraordinary effort. You should probably keep a few ingredients on you or the cookbook will suggest using your companions.

Anyone who uses the cookbook becomes obsessed with exotic meals and rare meets. Their tastes tend to the sadistic. If they wish, they can add marginalia and new recipes to the book.

5. Your Horrible Secret

A small volume written by a very sadistic wizard. Anyone reading it is convinced the book sets out their worst secrets and most shameful thoughts in lurid, judgemental detail, as if written by an English male historian born before WWII and writing before 1980 (trust me on this one). Anyone reading the book must Save or shut it after a few lines. They will desire the book and wish to see it destroyed or kept locked away somewhere.


OSR: Lumps of the Sky

So you've read Veins of the Earth and you want to try it out.

One problem; your players have read Veins too. Or they know about it by reputation. Or they're wise to your usual tricks. Or the invitation to "visit Patrick Stuart's nightmare visions" didn't appeal. The mysterious chasm at the bottom of the dungeon will go unplumbed. The mention of a deep cave system sends them howling back to the surface in terror. Anything that doesn't have doors and ceilings gets a hard pass.

This isn't because they don't want a game with Veins content. It's what they signed up for. But it's like jumping into an outdoor swimming pool in January. Dip a toe in and run away shivering.

You could force the issue. Have a stairway collapse. Have a worm eat them. Have a teleport spell go awry. Make a vital item to their quest (or ambition) only available underground. All sensible ideas.

Or you can do something very silly.

Introducing: Lumps of the Sky

Step 1: Buy and read Veins of the Earth.
Step 2: Get your players onto a cloud (by falling off a mountain, by crashed airship or hot air balloon, by catapult, etc.
Step 3: Run a slightly modified Veins of the Earth game.

Wait, What?

Clouds are big. Very, very big.

A typical low-level fluffy round-looking cloud is like a single cave or series of caves. Inside most clouds there's a Lump. It's made from condensed wind, water, ice, and magic. Maybe silver too if you like a good joke. It looks like a weird twisted-up potato thing. Caves are negative space. This is positive space.

Lumps of the Sky are sticky. They have a sort of gravity all over them. You can walk on them like an ant walking on an apple. Jump too high or get hit and regular gravity takes over. Their stickiness, plus their tumbling, plus the all-enveloping soft-white cloud, makes telling your direction very difficult. You usually can't see the sun or the ground.

These sky lumps trundle and tumble in the wind, bumping into each other, changing shape, flying high, sinking low. Never disappearing, but sometimes changing shape dramatically. Real clouds evaporate, but this is medieval meteorology.

There are cities up there, built inside permanent storms or roving cloudbanks. Some are built on the lumps, ever-shifting, ever moving. Some are stone castles suspended by ancient magic or technology. Lots and lots of loot because nobody ever loots the sky and makes it safely to earth.

Imagine seeing a town below you and leaping from your cloud onto the spire of a church, only to find that the town is also on a cloud.
Pro tip: you can map caves using a pile of cheez snacks.

Rules Changes

Light isn't a problem anymore (except at night). Replace all instances of "light" with "heat".  Heat is initiative. Warm things move more quickly than cold energy-conservative things, but are easier to spot.

Heat could be from torches, campfires, dry clothing (it slowly gets soaked), desiccants, chemicals, etc.

Generate caves normally except you're on the outside rather than the inside. Generate cloud by cloud.

Climbing rules become Jumping From Cloud to Cloud rules.

Food is just as rare and expensive.


Generates ice instead of melting through stone. Builds ice palaces in the sky. If it touches you, it freezes all the blood in your body (messily).

No changes.


Arachnopolis Rex
Spiders can fly. Their construct is light and diffuse and very fast, more like a wooden fighter jet than a fortress.

Cloud bacteria. A native species. Change flavour, not effects.

Atomic Bees
Ozone farmers with wind-socks. More like wasps now, building big papery nests to trap rare high-altitude chemicals. Or maybe helium? Grab a nest and use it as a balloon.

Blackfoot Gigaferret
Whales evolved from wolf-racoon-things. So did these guys. They got thin and wispy and hunted birds in the trees, until the drifted upwards and into the clouds. They are pale and transparent and fast. Some of them are filter-feeders. Not these ones.

Calcinated Cancer Bear
What happens to surface creatures when they spend too long in a high-altitude radiation-rich environment. Bears, wolves, men, etc.

A native cloud species. Too dumb to survive on the surface. Full of antifreeze and soap. Occasionally fall out of clouds, convince people to launch them back up with catapults/rockets/big see-saws.

Castilian Caddis Larvae
Lives in airship wrecks or one of those Laputan sky-castles. Covered in air loot (angel feathers, etc.) plus regular magic items. Kill it and the stuff starts dropping on to the world below. It's raining wars.

They say disease is carried by bad air. Well they're right. Closer to ghosts than people, closer to heaven than hell, but still very deadly and very crazy. Also, plague-doctors on a flying city trying to invent cures (and dropping them on areas they pass)

Laputan sky-fortress that flies over cities and scoops up artists with it sentient fogs. Damp but astonishing.

Clay bird instead with a heron's head. Stabs instead of cracks. Weaponized prehistoric osiris.

Not all dragons lay their eggs underground.

The Egengraü
Works pretty well in cloud-land too. Still scary.

Fossil Vampire
Ash cloud vampire. What happens if you burn a vampire to death but don't actually kill them. Usually found in mass graves.

Fungal Ambassodile
Fungal Ambassatross

Funginid Slaves
The same. Spores rise, land, find some dirt, grow. Fungus people arise, are enslaved.


Leftover prototype angels.

Igneous Wrath
Laputan war-engines gone amok. They orbit a Lump (one on one side, the other on the opposite) with contrails and steam following.

Ignimbrite Mite
Sunspots. They fly out of the sun on bright days and leave dancing lights in front of your eyes.

I don't understand what Patrick was getting at with these guys and I'm not sure I can adapt them without knowing... so they're Sky Assholes. They scoop babies out of carriages on foggy days and leave jars of farts behind.

Warm birds. They live in clouds and are incredibly fluffy. You can make a coat out of one. They also pick you up and drop you off the cloud (possibly onto another, worse cloud).

Mantis Shrimp
Flying glass praying mantis.

Genetic ghosts. All the evolutionary pathways you could have taken but didn't. Turns you into a lizard like it's an episode of Star Trek and you've been devolved.

Gets caught in clouds too. Possibly an entire cloud made of the stuff, or it forms in pools (like mercury). Evaporates in sunlight; big problem at night.


Sky-whale. Bigger than the not-Gigaferret. Instead of aquatic whale-nightmares, you get parasitic thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hail.

Panic Attack Jack
Broken-down inventors strapped to wings of wax and wood. They still fly.

Phantom Hand of Gargas
I don't get this one either, so instead it's aliens who beam you up to fight in an alien war on the far side of the moon.

Psychomycosis Megaspores

Pyroclastic Ghouls
The Volcanic Virgins. Plus some cows. The bits that didn't get burned. Ashy, flighty, old sacrifices, full of self-confidence. The world didn't die and they helped.

Space probe. Sputnik murderbot. Eats samples, shoots lasers. Inscruitable.

The Rapture
Rename to Vertigo, change very little.

Cloudfish. Swoop between clouds eating people.

Space aliens taking samples. They are aware there's stuff on the ground; they say they'll get to it eventually.

Sonic Pigs!
Infrared Puffins! They give you a tan (and make you shit yourself).

Spectre of the Bröcken


Spotlight Dogs
Thermal Sharks. They shoot either heat rays or they suck in heat with bimetallic chameleon tongues. Ick.

They live inside the Lumps. Ripple ripple, what's that below your feet? Reach down to touch it, get pulled in and replaced.


Tachyon Troll

Some strange upper-air predator native to the Lumps. Anyway, it's an ooze with hydrogen pockets.

Titanskull Hermit Crab
Robot servant from Laputan flying castle. Alternaitvely, lives inside a crashed flying machine, uses it to float from cloud to cloud.

Solar manta ray. Soaks up sunlight (low efficiency) or swarms and eats people (high efficiency). And because of the source material, it looks vaguely suggestive.

Upper air apocalypse prepper. They're going to be the first into Heaven when the end comes. They've got a score to settle with God.

Same, except it scoops children out of their beds in mountain villages, leaves them dangling below clouds. Expect frantic pursuit on horseback below.

Ultraviolet Butterfly
Same. Sentient sun-halos.

Zombie Coral
Angel feathers. Same effect except feathery.


High Elves, maybe? Or Cancer Elves, burnt red and raw by the light of their risen god?

Deep Janeen
Replace "stone" with "air" and make them another kind of flying elemental thing in a palace.

One word: chemtrails.

Not sure.

Another kind of alien or possible weather angels.

Descendents of the Laputan castle-builders, living in simple, pastoral peace in the sky.