Tuesday, August 31, 2021

Chromatic Shadows Faction: Hand of Moloch

The Hand of Moloch are emerging power players in the Shadow War. This highly secretive cabal of wealthy hyper-elites, are obsessed with immortality, and the occult. They will take any obscene measures to extend their wicked lives and increase their reach of power. The megacorps, often dismiss them as "eccentric gentry", but increasingly, conflicts of interest run hot. In these cases a cyberrunner team might be called up to infiltrate a Hand compound, in order to perform espionage, wetworks, or relieve them of a contested asset.


  • Sect of elite, enormously wealthy, occult obsessed decadent hedons. Many come from “old money” families. They are bankers, investors, corporate board members, and wealthy philanthropists.
  • They believe their history, wealth and genetic lines place them above the mortal cruft as “superior beings”. They seek nothing less than the keys to immortality, and the prerogative to revel in the most decadent and debased pleasures imaginable. They want to control the world, because it is owed to them. They are gods on earth, unconstrained by laws, morals and material need. Soon death itself will be defeated.
  • The inner circle consists of impossibly rich ancients kept alive for two centuries through genetic engineering, organ replacement, cybernetic implantation, etc.
  • In secure facilities, they keep stockpiles of clones in suspended animation. Adult clones in the peak of their physical health are kept in suspension vats for the purposes of organ harvesting, and body replacement. Cloned children are raised in highly secretive boarding school until they reach adulthood when they will be put into the vats.
  • A branch of the Hand seeks the means to upload consciousness into a digital matrix. They have already come close to perfecting AI simulations of their personalities, but the actual “transference of consciousness” still eludes them. Shadow War artifacts are of particular interest in this regard. They believe that some alien “canister” like devices from the moon and elsewhere might hold the key.
  • They exist above the laws of men and corporations, but will use these institutions to further their own agendas.They siphon off occult assets from the corps, or through their own networks. They also employ sorcery, but possess a shallow and incomplete understanding. The Typhonists take pains to protect their knowledge. What the Hand does with their occult assets and minor sorcery they exert influence toward their own agendas, which are usually insular, personal, obscene, & criminally weird.
  • They have occult ritual pageants, elaborate masquerade balls, where they engage in sex/ drug orgies, and sometimes human sacrifice. Costumes, masks, and archetypal enactments of their mythology is a component of their rituals
  • Many of these parties center around the selling and trading of “dolls”. Human trafficking rings provide men and women who are mentally conditioned with implants and drugs for  obedience. Cybersurgeons perform hormone augmentation and surgery upon them to make them perfect physical specimens. These dolls are docile, compliant & willing servants. They can be reprogrammed for certain behavior profiles (using headchips) as desired.
  • The Hand's base of operations are mostly in the Fortress Estates, where large ancient complexes are built in seclusion behind electric fences,15’ foot hedges and state of the art security systems. Sometimes on large yachts out to sea.
  • These locations are Faraday cages, information cannot be broadcast from within them, without the express permission of the admin. No external AR or Grid connection. On site servers operate a private host/ AR node network, which would need to be tapped/ hacked from within for infiltration.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Crafting Items from Monster Parts

The following table is a list of 20 powerful items that can be crafted from monster body parts. It is written with my acid-fantasy 'City of Calyx' D&D setting in mind, but it's suitable for many other old school adventure game systems and settings.

In the wilderness beyond Calyx, beasts both both alien and terrible stalk the crimson steppe.  Merchants and loose lipped adventurers speak of creatures warped by aeons of arcane fallout, and of the magical bounty to be carved from their dead flesh. Monster bones and organs are sought after, and command a high ransom of gold at the Calyx Bazaar. In the hands of a skilled craftman, these regents can be carefully formed into items capable of strange and powerful effects.


Roll on the following table to determine what monster part can be harvested from a magical beast and crafted into a usable item.

  1. Bones, talons, teeth- crafted into arrow clubs, blades, arrow tips & spear heads. Grants additional to hit bonus, cause extra damage
  2. Pheromone glands- grants a bonus to ability to intimidate or persuade
  3. Strong hide- resistant certain types of damage (bludgeoning, piercing, slashing, etc)
  4. Stomach acid- highly corrosive to a certain substance it touches (metal, flesh, stone, wood, glass, etc.)
  5. Gut- craft into powerful bowstring for increased firing rate, stronger & more accurate shots.
  6. Venom sac- poison causes deleterious effect when ingested or injected (paralytic, sleep, confusion, death)
  7. Parasites- carnivorous worms burrow into any exposed flesh. Can be applied against a new target host, causing rapid injury and disease.
  8. Organ sac- thin membrane can be stretched over body. Increases swim speed, resilience to the elements (fire, cold, electricity, acid, etc).
  9. Sticky secretions- applied to hands and knees, adds a significant bonus to climbing tests. Use it as a glue to anchor something in place.
  10. Pineal gland secretion- psychedelic compound causes dreamlike visions, transient psychic powers and auguries of the future.
  11. Alarm pheromone- apply the hormone to one’s body to summon like creatures which will defend you against a threat.
  12. Eggs- ravenously delicious--other creatures will drop everything to greedly consume them. If left to rot, they become stink bombs.
  13. Fur/ feathers- incomparably comfortable. Can be turned into a blanket or stuffed into pillows/ bedrolls. Causes extra hp recovery when sleeping on them for a full night.
  14. Musk gland- apply to self, creatures assume you are not humanoid and will ignore your presence.
  15. Horn/ tusks/ ivory- ground into powder and added to spell components to enhance magical effects.
  16. Heart- when consumed adds temporary hp (1d3 doses)
  17. Bile- cures poison, disease & purifies water.
  18. Tear glands- salt from tears wards away spirits, ghosts & demons
  19. Oil/ fat/ blubber- burns twice as hot (x2 damage) and twice as bright (x2 light radius) as lamp fuel
  20. Reproductive organs- cures exhaustion, fatigue, & generates a temporary strength increase.

Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Sprawl Site Generator- The Barrens

The Barrens are a zone of crushing poverty and urban decay. Between gang territory disputes and the slow rot of industrial buildings, the megacorps find the perfect place to sequester shadow operations. Consequentially, the Barrens are a veritable hive of cyber-runner activity.


Roll or choose elements from the following list of random tables to quickly generate varied sites within the Barrens. Designed for Chromatic Shadows but compatible with any other cyberpunk/urban fantasy game.



  1.  Apartment block/ row house.
  2.  Public Facility
        1. School
        2. Government office
        3. Police barracks
        4. Fire station
        5. Park
        6. Community center/ YMCA
  3.  Store
        1.  Market/ convenient store
        2. Liquor store
        3.  Pawn shop
        4. Guns n ammo/ army surplus
        5.  Restaurant/ Bar
        6. Electronics/ computer shop
  4. Office building
  5.  Medical clinic/ cybernetics chop shop
  6. Homeless camp
  7. Repair garage
  8. Warehouse/ factory
  9.  Laundromat
  10. Arcade 
  11. Junkyard/ scrap yard
  12.  Storage cubicles
  13. Subway station/ trestle
  14. Overpass
  15. Parking garage
  16. Coffin hotels
  17. Church/ orphanage
  18. Data spire
  19. Prison
  20. Kennel

Structural Quality

  1. Brutalist slab construction/ bunker
  2. Tumbling multi story block
  3. Grouping of conjoined geodesic domes
  4. Crowded stacks of trailers
  5. Composite of disparate architectural styles & materials
  6. Classic architecture- brownstone, townhouse, Victorian  mansion
  7. Raw, industrial building- exposed steel girders & concrete
  8. Shoddy- plywood & chipboard construction
  9. Temporary structure- vinyl tents,lean-to, pavilion
  10. Below ground- built within renovated subway stop, or tunnel
  11. Framed up with rebar scaffolding
  12. Prefab- Corrugated aluminum/ Precast concrete/ 3D printed


  1. Covered in graffiti
  2. Under construction/ being painted/ renovated
  3. Caged doors & windows
  4. Heavily damaged/ collapsing
  5. Abandoned/ occupied by squatters
  6. Recently looted & burned
  7. Chain link and razor wire fence
  8. Numerous stripped bicycles chained to nearby posts
  9. Overrun with pigeons/ cages of pigeons
  10. Piles of industrial debris, crates, palettes
  11. Painted garish neon colors
  12. Thick with flakes of chipped paint/ scabs of rust

Cyberpunk Textures

  1. Antenna and satellite dishes cover roof
  2. Large glitching AR signage
  3. Covered in thick webs of telecom cable
  4. Exterior and windows traced in buzzing neon
  5. Crawling with numerous drones
  6. Large flickering 3D billboard
  7. Covered in solar panels
  8. Too many security cameras
  9. Stacks of video monitors playing television shows
  10. Draped in strands of LED lights
  11. Lit by numerous swaying fluorescent tube lights
  12. Stacks of shuddering generators/ machines

Tuesday, June 22, 2021


(Designed for use with Chromatic Shadows, but easy to slot into any existing cyberpunk or urban fantasy setting)

Clubs of the near future spare no expense in being unique. Singular and exotic themes sets one apart from the next. Roll randomly or choose one of the below, the next time your thirsty cyberpunks need a weird watering hole, or a safe place to settle a contract.

  1. 'Chew'-- Bubble gum bar. Interior plastered with vintage gum ads, multicolored nubs and soft pink cushions. Full menu of intoxicating & euphoric gum choices.
  2. ‘Gastronomicon’-- Exotic dancers wear devices that scope inside their bodies and project their internal organs as massive 3D AR objects in space above the crowd.
  3. Club Splice’-- Science themed club. The servers wear lab coats and serve frothing fluids from vials and beakers. A cyber-surgery kiosk is in center of the dance floor, where you can get amputations and implants in front of a live audience.
  4. ‘Sanctuary’--Indoor natural habitat. Floor is soft grass and ferns. Exotic birds roost in the rafters, and nest among the indoor trees. 3D projection screens on the walls display creeks winding away into a deep forest. AR wildlife wander throughout the space.
  5. ‘Club Shhhh’--Felted walls, and thick carpeted floors. No speaking above a whisper. Everyone listens to their private music, dancing in complete silence.
  6. ‘Club Heat’-- Pitch black. No lights at all anywhere inside. Get your pair of infrared goggles at the door. Share a warm time in the dark with a stranger
  7. ‘Red October’-- Club is within a decommissioned submarine permanently docked at the river's edge. The interior is painted and upholstered in deep scarlet, and lit by neon. Staff wear suggestive soviet military uniforms, serve bitter tea and the strongest vodka in the Sprawl. Notorious hangout of anarchists, street activists, and punks.
  8. ‘Bubble Club’-- Dance club where every member of the crowd dances within their own human sized vinyl bubble.
  9. 'Bacchus'-- Greco-Roman themed masquerade/ sex club. Club goers partake in elaborate costumes, high pageantry & drunken revelry. Back rooms for the VIPs to partake in ecstatic sexual experimentation.
  10. 'The Cauldron'-- Occult themed club. Decor draws heavily on Victorian occultism, Hermetic tradition, witchcraft and the tarot. Tables are Ouija boards, waitstaff wears black hooded robes, and the drinks served in large golden goblets.
  11. 'Heaven'-- Club interior simulates floating high above the sky. Dance floor is 3D projection screen of a view 5 miles above the ground looking down. Fans blow thick fog throughout, while AR clouds drift through the space.
  12. 'The Cage'-- Accessible from an abandoned high rise. The Cage is situated between two close skyscrapers, built from a network of steel scaffolding. Swaying and howling in the high winds, the Cage is not for the faint of heart or for those who fear heights

Friday, April 30, 2021


Dangerous digital sentinals guard megacorporate data vaults deep within the Matrix. Here is a generator to quickly determine what fearful form these Intrusion Countermeasures take. For use with Chromatic Shadows and other cyberpunk games.


  1. Wolf/ hyena/ panther
  2. Swarm of bees/ hornets/ locusts
  3. Bladed orb
  4. Armored knight
  5. Shifting geometric shapes
  6. Snake
  7. Spiders/ scorpion/ crab
  8. Shark/ piranha
  9. Cloud of blades
  10. Ball of energy
  11. Skeletal warriors
  12. Flying skulls
  13. Predatory birds
  14. Squid/ octopus
  15. Harpy
  16. Wyvern
  17. Spectral apparition
  18. Angel
  19. Demon/ imp
  20. Virus/ spore


  1. Crackling/ pulsing energy
  2. Icy cold
  3. Wreathed in/ made of flame
  4. Void blackness
  5. Faceted mirror
  6. Prismatic/ rainbow
  7. Erupting spikes/ thorns
  8. mass of nanites/ nodules/ sparkling dust
  9. Liquid quicksilver/ chrome
  10. Dense black smoke
  11. Riveted iron
  12. Veined stone
  13. Blazing/ blinding light
  14. Pulsing circuitry
  15. Fractal shapes/ angles
  16. Gold
  17. Diamond/ crystal
  18. Mechanical/ robotic/ clockwork

Thursday, April 29, 2021


At the heart of the Shadow War, the megacorps struggle to control eldritch artifacts and hypertech devices known as Occult Assets. Billions of credits and thousands of lives have been lost in pursuit of this power. Any megacorp that unlocks these secrets, and spins them into a global commodity, will dominate their rivals. Here are several random tables and prompts to create Occult Assets for Chromatic Shadows, my in-progress weird cyberpunk RPG.



  1. Salvaged from original Lunar mining expedition
  2. Recovered/ reverse engineered from crashed alien craft
  3. Plundered from Antarctic/ Lemurian/ Atlantean ruins
  4. Obtained within crashed meteorite
  5. Claimed from interdimensional portal
  6. Created by another esoteric device


  1. Cylinder/ rod
  2. Sphere/ prolate spheroid
  3. Prism/ crystal/ platonic solid
  4. Cube/ box/ tablet
  5. Pyramid/ Cone
  6. seed/ spore/ egg
  7. Disk/ lozenge
  8. Shell (1.nautilus, 2. snail, 3. clam, 4. conch, 5. oyster, 6. scallop)
  9. Vessel (bowl/ chalice/ vase/ pyx)
  10. U-shaped/ torus/ tesseract
  11. Body part (1.head/skull, 2.fist/ hand, 3. arm, 4.brain, 5. heart/ kidney, 6.spine 7. Large tooth 8.phallus 9.breast 10.oriface [mouth/anus/vagina])
  12. Combination of 1d3 above elements


  1. Meteoric metal/ mineral/ graphite/ carbon
  2. Living thing: animal/ plant/ fungi/ hybrid
  3. crystalline/ glass/ diamond
  4. amber/ resin/ plastic
  5. Quivering flesh/ Teratomic mass of eyes, hair and teeth
  6. Thick foam, can be twisted and deformed, but returns to original shape
  7. Ice that never melts
  8. Carved bone/ ivory/ wood/ coral/ chitin/ cartilage
  9. Ceramic/ porcelain/ marble
  10. Granules/ particles/ nanites/ tiny organisms
  11. Covered in/ composed of oily tar/ slime
  12. Simulation/ hologram/ VR construct


  1. Non-solid/ energy/ holographic projection/ kinetic state/ void substance
  2. web/ net/ mesh/ lace
  3. Highly complex interwoven circuitry that lights & flashes along pathways
  4. Pulsing crude machine, made of disparate/ old/ patchwork components
  5. Golden gears/ wheels/ clockwork
  6. Encrusted in jewels/ gems/ pear/ mirrored facets
  7. Bundle or pattern of component shapes/ nodules/ elements
  8. Lattice/ bundle of fibers/ rods
  9. husk/ exoshell/ carapace
  10. Nano-thin surface composition


  1. Pulsing with inner light
  2. Conforms/ covers/ flows over any objects that it touches
  3. Contains portal/ peepholes to alien/ cosmic vistas
  4. Filled with liquid/ gas flowing in a coriolis system
  5. Surface reflects the viewer/ surroundings at different age/ gender/ past or future state/ dead or decaying
  6. Rapidly moving through cycle of creation & decay
  7. Covered in soft pink cilia that reacts when touched
  8. Vanta black type surface, absorbs all light. Comes off on fingers, but fades in 1d6 rounds
  9. Mechanisms moving & rearranging component shapes
  10. Perpetually slick/ sticky with slime/ oil/ tar
  11. Emits a soft resonant pitch/ hum
  12. Sound of low muttering voices comes from it
  13. Temperature fluctuates from warm to icy cold
  14. Crackles and arcs with blue energy
  15. Quivvers/ pliant/ sensually reactive when touched
  16. Glowing soupy fluid-- murky images coalesce below surface
  17. Radiates unapproachable light/ requires black out goggles to a view
  18. Sprouts hair/ scales/ feathers
  19. Sweating/ excreting/ discharging substance
  20. Budding/ blooming fungi/ flower/ simple organisms

Warps Reality via...

  1. Forces (fire, electricity, nuclear, temperature, gravity, magnetism, time)
  2. Space (connections between places/ locations, inside vs outside space)
  3. Consciousness (senses, dreams, mind, visions, hallucinations, compulsions, emotion)
  4. Psychic phenomenon (ESP, telepathy, telekinesis, remote viewing, clairvoyance, prophecy, precognition)
  5. Manipulation of the digital realm (AI Daemon, AR/ Matrix/ Cloud architecture)
  6. Occult powers/ magic/ sorcery
  7. Spirits/ hauntings/ ghosts/ poltergeists
  8. Physical matter (natural and artificial substance)
  9. Life (human biology, animals & plant life)
  10. Void (interdimensional portals, eldritch beings/ outsiders/ alien beings)

How is it being exploited/ accelerated?

  1. Installed within a machine/ device/ process to amplify effect
  2. In a neurodrift network with a group of human/ animal subjects
  3. External energy source interacting with it
  4. Used/ amplified within occult ritual
  5. Being fused with subject via Direct Neural Interface pathways
  6. Gestating inside an artificial womb/ vat/ or within a human/ animal/ plant matrix
  7. Host subject infused with device’s energy/ physicality. Subject’s biological/ psychological/ genetic structures being rewritten/ altered.
  8. Used as antennae/ energy source/ amplifier/ interface for external hypertech
  9. Interacting/ influencing subjects in a VR construct/ simulation
  10. Interfaced with outside entity/ AI Daemon/ eldritch being/ spirit

Asset Power Level

  1. Individual person. Self or another.
  2. Group of people/ building
  3. community/ city block
  4. Neighborhood
  5. Sprawl zone/ district
  6. Large swath of sprawl encompassing several zones

Asset Design Considerations/ Systems

  • Occult Assets are extraordinarily powerful, valuable, and highly contested. The megacorps fight their Shadow War over them, and will spare no expense in their recovery. Major events within the game world revolve around them. They do not fall casually into the hands of PCs. If and when the do, the game world is always shaken up by this change in power dynamic.
  • Occult Assets embody the Weird. Not only do they possess raw power, but they disrupt established reality and the status quo. The corps can barely hold them in check. These devices as a rule, cannot be predicted with total accuracy, cannot be mastered, and resist total comprehension. They are often at once obscenely powerful and totally absurd. A device’s true origins and purpose defy any easy answer.
  • They typically have a single primary effect, and several secondary effects, that may contradict, or complicate its use. Using an occult asset is never straightforward, and often comes at the price of a difficult tradeoff, or side effect.
  • Using an occult asset in any way  has an ambient and cumulative effect on it's environment. The 'weird' rubs off on local reality. It affects existence (especially people, animals & plants) in subtle, but unmistakable ways. Its not uncommon for individuals who are unaffected by an asset's direct or indirect effects to still have strange dreams, or to manifest subtle psychic abilities, or compulsions. Animals might be disturbed, or manifest uncanny intelligence. Plants might grow abundantly exhibit strange mutations or not grow at all.
  • An Occult Asset may require specific ‘in-game’ routines to activate. There may be necessary words, gesture, rituals, codes, programs, energy sources, substances, configurations, arrangements, physical locations, sounds, etc. that must be satisfied in order to ‘unlock’ a device’s power. These routines may or may not be obvious to a would be user, and their discovery might be its own separate mission.

Saturday, March 27, 2021



(Written for Vampire, but easily fits into any sort of old school urban/ horror adventure game)

In my V20 game, the players are preparing to delve into the abandoned coal railway tunnels beneath Chicago's Loop in search of their enemy's lair.  I designed the tunnel system as a point crawl map along with a series of random tables in order to generate each "node" as they make their way through. 

Although the characters have a map, and know approximately where they need to go, the system itself is only navigable through a series of possible passageways. Additionally, they've  been given a choice of three possible above ground starting points (the sub-levels of historical buildings) where the tunnels are accessible. The closer the access point is to their final destination, the higher the security risk, so there's a trade off from the beginning. They can deal with more security and surveillance above ground and bypass a few nodes underground, or start from a relatively safe access point that's further away.

The Map!


  1. Chicago Cultural Center. Mayor’s reception venue. Grand ballroom where rich people throw parties. Not in use at the moment. Fairly antiquated security system, and light on-site security guards. Access in sublevel, in an old coal burning room, now used for storage. Farthest away from destination.
  2. Palmer House Hilton. Gilded age hotel, struggling financially. Cameras and security guards, but underfunded and understaffed. Basement access to old tunnel, bricked up in the back of a laundry room. Midway point to destination.
  3. Tribune Tower. Neo-gothic skyscraper. Offices. Center of loop, state of the art security and patrols. Bricked up access port in the pipeworks sub-level. Closest point to destination.


  • The old rail tunnels are cramped 7' high and 6' wide shafts. They intersect the subway system and sewer at intervals,  getting considerably wider at points. In other cases they are choked with debris, and partially collapsed making them much more narrow.
  •  The whole system is a patchwork of old and new construction making the network unpredictable and dangerous. It's also the exclusive domain of a sadistic Nosferatu who has set numerous deadly traps throughout.
  1. Standard, clear tunnel.
  2. Heavy wooden ribbing and supports holding ceiling and wall in place. Precarious.
  3. Narrows. Crawl to proceed
  4. Open area. Hub, vaulted ceiling
  5. Collapsed, impassible
  6. Much wider tunnel (subway line)
  7. Old subways jamming tunnel, must be crawled through
  8. Trap!


  1. Pit Trap with spikes
  2. Stakes shoot from wall shaft
  3. Bricks fall from ceiling cache
  4. Pendulum blade
  5.  Acid bottles from ceiling cache
  6.  Wet area rigged with live electric cable


(where applicable)
  1. Trip wire
  2. pressure plate
  3. rigged door


  1. Filled with heavy boxes and crates (coal, concrete, railroad ties, tar)
  2. Unstable floor (drops to pit)
  3. Unstable supports (might collapse area)
  4. The sign of Zelios: his sign can be seen carved into bas relief ornamentation (the harlequin mask, roses, and a medallion with the letter Z, Latin inscription: “by the hand of the architect, immortal.)
  5. Strange effigies and fetish objects hang from the ceiling (bones, stones, etc.) Occult symbols painted on wall.
  6. Filled with old broken coal-filled railway cars
  7. Vermin nest
  8. People down here (homeless, explorers, graffiti kids, etc.)
  9. Dead bodies/ skeletons beneath rubble (animals, human, or otherwise)
  10. Flooded
  11. Choked with debris & trash
  12. Bricked up. Break through or turn back.


  1. Water dripping rhythmically from sweating pipes above.
  2. Rumbling of a nearby subway. Dirt debris dislodging in a spray
  3. Exposed pipeworks emitting gouts of white billowing steam.
  4. The sound of loud rushing water through grates in the ground
  5. Vast graffiti mural. Occult symbols punctuated throughout.
  6. Sound of traffic seems to echo from above (although obviously far off)
  7. Footsteps seem to follow the PCs. They die off when the PCs stop to listen. A moving figure just beyond range of light in the distance
  8. Distant sounds: strange laughter, dog barking,soft crying (may lead to trap)
  9. A small railcar is seen in the distance moving through an intersecting tunnel. Upon inspection, the tracks are torn up, and the tunnel is filled with rubble.
  10. A piece of coal is thrown at the PCs from somewhere in the darkness ahead. There is no one there.
  11. The temperature drops to ice cold for no apparent reason
  12. Heavy scratching in the walls and ceiling. Claws marks rending through stone and wood.

Saturday, March 20, 2021


 Here are 3 city districts from my in-progress City of Calyx setting for old school D&D.

Insula District

Residential district of of Calyx’s middle class. Multi-storied (1d6 stories) brick and stone insulas with clay shingles built up against the cliff face. Narrow streets and alleys run between them.

Features (roll 1 or more)

  1. 1d6 Extra stories, rickety ladders reach to small precarious apartments high above
  2. Unstable, the whole insula is reinforced with timbers to keep it from falling over
  3. Decorative- painted with brightly colored patterns and botanical motifs
  4. Ornamental- bas relief carvings and gargoyles adorn the exterior
  5. Exterior walls covered in thick vines of dark green ivy and small purple flowers. Bees and hummingbirds drawn to the sweet blossoms.
  6. Abandoned, and ramshackle. Floors have collapsed in on themselves. Thistle and sweetbrush grow rampantly within. Great sagging wasp nests.
  7. Hundreds of clay and twig nests built along the eaves. Countless chattering iridescent grackles congregate upon the roof.
  8. Apartments carved out of an outcrop of stone cliffside.
  9. Under construction- new building being built or old one being repaired. Crew of laborers with several carts of bricks, mortar and timber
  10. Over crowded. Each apartment is bursting to capacity with tenents. Clothes lines heavy with  fabrics sag between close buildings. Colorful rugs are draped from every balcony.

People of the Insula District

  1. Merchant families
  2. Skilled laborers
  3. Low ranking city bureaucrats
  4. City officials
  5. Guards/ soldiers
  6. Guild artists/ artisans
  7. Minor philosophers/ poets
  8.  Scholars

Bazaar District

Overlapping patchwork of colorful tents and canopies cover four city blocks. A maze of bustling activity, commerce, shops, food stalls, music, revelry and criminal enterprise. Just about anything can be found here for the right price: rich food, exotic regents, rare animals, weapons and equipment, all manner of services for hire (legal and illegal).

Tents of the Bazaar

  1. Patchwork of faded fabric, sagging, propped up by spindly wooden sticks
  2. Sturdy & large white and red striped rotunda, doors and windows
  3. Animal skins, with bits of fur and flesh still attached. Smells of tannins and rot
  4. Billowing red fabric. Multiple rooms separated by veils and beaded curtains
  5. Vibrant blue, orange and yellow. Pit dug below, with a ladder leading to a stall. Workers dig even deeper as the vendor conducts business below.
  6. Wooden platform 15 feet above accessible by ladder. A sign reads: “remove clothes before ascending”. Above, a tent of white and golden fabrics swish in the sun. Mirrors and dangling glass catch the sunlight.
  7. Black tarps piled on top of each other, creating a cave like tunnel. Small corridors lead to various openings and stalls of ill repute.
  8. Geometric patterned tapestries, opens into chamber thick with incense. Piles of thick rugs heaped on the ground. Sound is muffled.

Food of the Bazaar

  1. Roasted white grubs on a skewer
  2. Giant frogs smoked on a line over a fire pit
  3. Bag o’ spicy locusts
  4. Sorghum brick with solar escagraph
  5. Honey millet stick with crunchy ants
  6. Lizard jerky
  7. Monkey meat pita with llama yogurt
  8. Honey glazed dog leg
  9. Pepper snake on a stick
  10. Fried whole sparrow with sage
  11. Boiled white tubers
  12. Produce: figs, pomegranates, olives, dates, almonds, muskmelon, grapes
  13. Sorghum beer: cloudy brown, earthy and sweet, highly alcoholic
  14. Sorghum desserts and fried pastries
  15. Jellied frog eggs on sorghum chips
  16.  Honeycomb with live bees
  17. Goat sausage boiled in blood
  18. Almond paste biscuits (various erotic shapes)
  19. Pomegranate liquor
  20.  Pickled peacock eggs

Merchant stalls

  1. Food stall merchant (roll on food table to determine which)
  2. Animal handler drawing cages of exotic beasts to a menagerie tent,
  3. Psychedelic dealer. Various substances in pots and jars within a locked box: diviners sage, scorpion venom, black tar incense, live blue centipedes, dream grass, worm powder, witch cactus,
  4. Alchemical regents and magic items
  5. Clay pots and vessels sold by women from the mud district
  6. Ponchos & grass sombreros
  7. Multicolored gems, geodes and stones
  8. Haircuts, weaves and beard styling
  9. Incense & exotic desert spices
  10. Reader of palms & fortunes
  11. Brass solar medallions, good luck charms, protective talismans
  12. Massage/ Acupuncture therapy
  13. Brothel. Lovely ladies and lads available for comfort and companionship.
  14. Apiary. Bees cover the tent walls & fly out of an open roof flap. Wooden hives contain copious fresh honey.
  15. Tea tent. A small iron stove with copper kettles filling the tent with billowing steam.
  16. Greenhouse, woven white mesh. Humid. Tables of plants and blooming flowers. Bees
  17. Art gallery. Paintings hung in carved frames.
  18. Goldsmith and purveyor of fine jewels
  19. Map merchant and scribe
  20. Tattoo & piercing parlor

People of the Bazaar

  1. Twin women in peacock feather dresses stand on stilts, juggling knives and flaming torches. Trained monkeys pick pockets during their performance.
  2. Grass elves (black sombreros, multicolored ponchos) transporting giant insect nymphs tied down to a wagon. Insects are docile and drugged with Diviner’s Sage.
  3. Red wizards haggling and threatening a vendor for regents
  4. Drunk youth brawling and expelling vomiting in the street
  5. Ascetic street preachers in loincloths painted bodies with arcane symbols ranting about “the Singing Presence” and “the Father of a Thousand Forms”.
  6. Wide eyed, naive and inhumanly beautiful humanoids with exotic skin colors (blue, red, purple, green) follow in the company of a Red Wizard (beings grown from the vivimancer's vats in the Arcane College).
  7. Vestal virgins from the Shrine of the Moons wearing silvery togas,veils and long braided hair. Processing silently to the temple of Utu for daily homage and back. Carrying silver sickles.
  8. 1d4 adventurers fresh from the Rift. (1. Carrying a dead companion 2. Raving psychotically about the Elder Gods or the Great Old Ones 3. Partying ferociously in the back of a wagon 4. Selling a cache of rift artifacts/ Monster parts/ Foraged psychedelics/ Geodes)
  9. Street artists involved in a performance
  10. Teenagers hallucinating wildly. Pockets are full of various psychedelic herbs.
  11. Philosophers arguing over esoteric metaphysics.
  12. Gladiators covered in scars, followed by throngs of adoring fans.

Domus District

Gated wealthy neighborhood of beautiful villas behind a high stone wall. Troops of chattering monkeys roost in the olive and almond trees that grow here. They are notorious for stealing baubles and coins and hide them among the branches. Children will often sneak into the district just to steal anything of value from the treetop roosts.


  1. Stone manor faced with high fluted columns & ornate pediment.
  2. Two story villa. Stucco & red clay shingles. Inner courtyard with flowering redbud and yellow ginkgo trees..
  3. Shrine to a minor god of fertility or love. Lovers cavorting in the bushes.
  4. Private well, solar motifs. Servants drawing buckets for their lords & ladies.
  5. Herb garden, overgrown with flowering sage, rhubarb, rhododendron and sweet brush. Birds, rabbits, and red fox nest here.
  6. Large pavilion with a stage and long stone bleachers.
  7. Glass enclosed greenhouse filled with blooming flowers. Buzzing with bees.
  8. A walled park of fig, olive & pomegranate trees. Gazebo, benches & statuary
  9. Bath House with veined columns and voluptuous nude statuary.
  10. Menagerie filled with exotic birds, monkeys, reptiles & occasional monster

People of Domus District

  1. Wealthy merchants in opulent robes and jewelry
  2. Sorghum field owners
  3. High ranking officers
  4. Noble families
  5. Slave dealers
  6. Bankers/ financiers
  7. Chief architects & engineers
  8. City politicians & council members
  9. Lawyers & judges
  10. Celebrated philosophers/ artists/ poets

Spire District

Upon the crown of Calyx rests the opulent Spire District, the seat of Calyx government, wealth and temporal power. The complex is composed of great palaces, towers, and barracks built out of cut stone.


  1. Folly of delicate arches and tracing above hidden gardens and grottoes
  2. Ring of fluted columns enclose a (1d6) tiered fountains. Statues of nudes women and children frolicking in the water.
  3. A mahogany door opens out of an ivy covered wall into a long banquet hall. 2 in 6 chance of a great feast taking place.
  4. Double white doors with ornate tracery open to a grand ballroom. Balconies above the open floor are festooned with bouquets and imperial banners. Prince Mitra throws a ball almost every evening, and the royal servants scramble with the preparations during the day. Sometimes the Calyx Quartet can be heard practicing their waltzes during the day.
  5. Shrines to a goddess of beauty/ wealth/ pleasure
  6. Bathouses carved into the ground. Natural hot springs feed luxurious tiled basins. Nude nobility cavorting.
  7. Gallery of plundered artifacts, and relics from a previous age.
  8. Menagerie. Exotic animals and monsters in golden cages. Many are intelligent and will bargain for release.
  9. Hedge maze, filled with marble statues. The nobilty often escape here to conduct private business both carnal and criminal. 
  10. Vast ornamental garden. Manicured walkways, grottoes, and carp pools. Exotic plants, flowers, and fruit laden trees. Peacock roosts.

Thursday, March 18, 2021


This generator is designed for use with Chromatic Shadows, my in-progress weird cyberpunk RPG. 

In Chromatic Shadows, the missions you run your for the megacorps don't happen in a vacuum. Other events are taking place in the weird-haunted Sprawl that impact you and the people you know. As your character reaches out to their contacts and engage with various NPCs they become embroiled in the numerous plots and intrigues running behind the scenes. This generator provides the tools to quickly create those plots, and to draw the lines of connection between them.


  • Determine 2-3 starting Plot Nodes. These are large-scale adventure hooks. They don’t need to be introduced all at once. They exist as areas of focal interest, optional exploration, additional layer of texture/ detail/ context to your campaign. They say “hey there's something going on over here, come take a look if you want!”.
  • Connect a character contact to each of these nodes, in order to create a "personal connection". When the contact is activated, reveal bits of the “sub-plot” when relevant. Give glimpses and teases of events happening behind the scenes to draw player interest.
  • Create continuity & connect things together. As the story is being built sandbox style, tie new discoveries, & NPCs back to these nodes as makes sense. 
  • As old nodes are being dealt with, and as the characters organically pursue their own agendas, introduce new nodes and story hooks. Find ways that large nodes connect to each other and the influence of one relates or comes into conflict with another. 


  • Plot Nodes contain various associated details that can be chosen or randomly determined. The following tables can used whenever a relevant detail comes into play.


  1. SinCom
  2. CortX
  3. Biodyne
  4. Aerotec
  5. Citadel
  6. Reroll

Sprawl Zones

  1. Metroplex
  2. Fortress Estates
  3. CorpSec
  4. The Barrens
  5. The Slags
  6. Arcologies

Shadow Facility

  1.  R&D lab/ black site/ bunker
  2. Concealing alien structure/ vessel/ energy source
  3. Containment unit/ prison
  4.  Mystical/ cult based (temple, ritual chamber, ceremonial space)
  5.  Portal (remote location, extra-dimension)
  6. Matrix based/ VR construct


  1. Criminal Cartel/ Gangs
  2. Hand of Moloch
  3. Sentinel
  4. Matrix Daemons
  5. Order of Typhon
  6. Neotribes


  1. Ferals
  2. Leather Angels
  3. Nils
  4. Paladins
  5. Satans
  6. Borgs
  7. Proteans
  8. Clowns
  9. Iron Men
  10. Draculas

Large scale city events

  1. Political upheaval, protests/ riots
  2. Plague, drug epidemic
  3. Terrorism, law enforcement/ surveillance lock down
  4. Urban renewal projects
  5. Crime wave, looting, fires/ arson,
  6. Disaster (flood, hurricane, displaced populations, resource scarcity)
Outside Entity
  1. Bio-engineered hybrid/ chimera
  2. Extra-dimensional horror
  3. Animal uplift
  4. Matrix daemon
  5. Alien entity
  6. Spirit/ ghost/ poltergeist

Black Market Assets

  1. Cyberware
  2. Drugs, stims
  3. Weapons
  4. Drones/ machines, vehicles
  5. Matrix/ DNI tech, software
  6. Biotech, organ legging

Esoteric Assets

  1. Hypertech machinery
  2. Weapons
  3. Inter-dimensional portals
  4. Psychic assets (remote viewing, telepathy, telekinesis, precognition, dream-tech, emotion/ compulsion)
  5. Alien artifacts
  6. Biological assets

Reality Warping Effects

  1. Physical forces (fire, electricity, nuclear, temperature, gravity, magnetism, time)
  2. Space (connections between places/ locations, inside vs outside space)
  3. Perception (mind, senses, illusion, compulsions, emotion)
  4. Physical matter (natural and artificial substance)
  5. Life (human biology, animals & plant life)
  6. Void (extra dimensions, alien life forms, spirit)


  • Roll 1d6 to determine node type, and then roll 1d6 twice more to determine the features of that node category. Consult the above "node-details" tables to determine other attributes/ textures as necessary.


  • Roll for Sprawl zone effected & Megacorp targeted

Area Effected:
  1. Neighborhood block
  2. Residential pods/ apartments
  3. Industrial area
  4. Physical infrastructure (energy/ transportation/ water/ sewer)
  5. Digital infrastructure: AR Nodes, Matrix hosts, VR construct server farms
  6. business/ commercial/ public services
  1. Cover Ups/ disappearances/ mind-wipes/
  2. Damaged property, explosions, fires,
  3. Injured people, death, disease
  4. Eye witnesses, stories, rumors
  5. Occult asset somehow got loose, being actively searched for
  6.  Heightened law enforcement & media attention


  •  Roll to determine the Sprawl zone of site.
Type of influence:
  1. Esoteric Creature (cryptid, hybrid chimera, bio-experiment, extradimensional entity, matrix daemon, spirit/ ghost)
  2. reality warping effect (psychic phenomenon, space-time distortion,
  3. Extra dimensional breach/ dimensional portal (site connected to another location or dimension)
  4. Haunting, possessions,
  5. Physical or psychological effects (deformity, disease, transformation, odd behavior)

How is influence being delivered:
  1. Abandoned shadow war facility (R&D lab, production facility)
  2. Occult asset in play (misplaced and lost, being kept somewhere secretly by an agency, being used leveraged somehow for gain, being used but unwittingly)
  3. Hidden lair/ hive/ tunnel/ dungeon
  4. Ley line, vortex/ focal point of occult energy
  5. Effects anchored to/ influenced by a person or an object
  6. Through a digital medium/ node/ matrix



  • Roll to determine Sprawl zone and Factions involved
What type of activity?
  1. Seeking asset (esoteric, black market)
  2. Consolidating strength
  3. Dramatic falloff of influence/ power vacuum
  4. Trying to gain foothold in contested area
  5. Moving in on a “tainted” zone,
  6. Seeking information
Secondary characteristic
  1. Uncanny influence (Y/N?)
  2. Underground/ black market assets (drugs, weapons, cyberware, stims, electronics)
  3. Social asset in play (important group of people involved/ contested, gang, neotribe, neighborhood)
  4. Physical asset in play (residential building/ commercial/ industrial, infrastructure, natural feature)
  5. Digital asset in play (AR node/ Matrix host/ VR construct server farm/ telecom station/ broadcast towers)
  6. Economic asset in play (business, high profile club, bank, real estate/ property)



  • Megacorps (roll) and/ or factions (roll) in conflict with a large scale Sprawl event (roll zone)

Large-scale Sprawl event

  1. Politics, Protests,
  2. Terrorism, riots, looting fires/ arson,
  3. Renewal, infrastructure projects
  4. Rampant crime, drug epidemic,
  5. Disaster (flood, hurricane), plague,
  6. Immigrant wave, displaced populations

Type of Conflict

  1. Over physical territory
  2. Over a contested asset (esoteric or otherwise)
  3. Competing sphere of influence (economic/ PR/ political)
  4. Corp responsible/ implicated in negative situation
  5. Caught in the crossfire through no fault of their own, but now involved
  6. Trying to actively help situation, but causing unintended consequences/ complications/ harm



  • Major events are shaking up the Shadow War, the megacorps & the cyberrunning community (roll for which corp is being affected)
  1. Merger. Megacorp absorbs another, becoming more powerful and expanding their sphere of influence.
  2. Economic downturn, Bankruptcy, financial vulnerability
  3. New corp enters war
  4. Legal exposure, high profile lawsuit, wide scale crime comes to light
  5. Alliance between rivals
  6. Event causes major loss of key public infrastructure/ asset (fire, sabotage, malfunction, quake)
How is cyberrunning community affected
  1. Contracts drying up/ runs are less lucrative/ more competition between runners. Runner bars becoming hostile.
  2. Sudden surge of contracts. Contracts paying more. More cash flowing. Scene is blowing up. Runners getting more access to drugs, cyberware & stims. Drug and cyber-addiction increasing.
  3. Anonymous identity of contracts slipping. Mission details reveal too much in light of recent events. Runners gain knowledge of corporate sponsor or target. Corporate retaliation possible.
  4. Black-market drying up. Stims/ drugs/ cyberware becoming scarce. Withdrawal from scene. Fewer runners coming around looking for contracts.
  5. Vigilance. Paranoid. Proxies extra cautious. Kicking crews off contracts for slightest perceived unreliability. Corporate investigation of the slightest perceived indiscretion
  6. Runner crews disappearing. Individual runners dropping off the map. No clear knowledge of who or what is going on. Crews are laying low until answers can be found.



  1. Shake up/ redistribution of power within a single faction (leadership, resources, infrastructure, territory,)
  2. Rivalry between two closely related factions (rival neotribes/ cultists/ criminal/ daemon)
  3. Triangulation: Alliance between disparate factions, against a third faction (common enemy)
  4. Faction losing power in zone, being killed, mass defection of members, loss of resources, or otherwise diminished influence (external event/ power vacuum or rival faction/ being supplanted)
  5. Massive power consolidation within zone. (due to esoteric asset, seized physical/ digital infrastructure, political alliance with another faction, community, government)
  6. Transformation of faction into something else. Identity shift from one state to another. Fashion is behaving different, caging its core beliefs, and actions

Secondary Interest
  1. Piece of unique architecture, neighborhood building pivotal
  2. Members of one (or more) the factions are being influenced by an uncanny/ supernatural.force (creature, asset, effect)
  3. A demagogue/ cult of personality like figure has emerged, and his influence is part of these events
  4. Radical new belief system is influencing things (restatement of old beliefs or a new system)
  5. Disillusionment within the ranks is influencing things
  6. External event is influencing things (sudden wealth/ healthcare/ economic stability or its opposite disease, drug addiction, poverty. Also environmental factors such as weather, climate, environmental livability, law enforcement) 



  1. Being targeted/ pursued by X for something they (did, know, have, etc)
  2. In need of something desperately (advance position/ upward mobility, revenge, money, information, drugs, cyberware, medicine, information) . Pressuring you to do something risky.
  3. Acting erratic/ strange behavior. Not in control of own actions. (possessed by outside influence, being drugged, behavior induced through digital interface, hypnotized, being pressured/ leveraged/ extorted).
  4. Victim of an attack (themselves or someone they know). (cult, ritualistic, cyberware theft, scarrifiation, kidnapping, etc) may require medical assistance, retribution. (The attacker was under some kind of outside influence. What was it? Connections to the occult world?) Could also be an attack against an asset (theft/ arson/ extortion)
  5. Involved in a complicated relationship (business, romantic, needs help getting out). Third party might be willing to bargain, but the price is something very risky to achieve.
  6. Experiencing meteoric success (business, relationship, wealth, personal beauty, status). Comes at a personal cost (health, business relationship, esoteric asset, drug, occult involvement ) or at the cost of another (extortion, theft, harm)

Thursday, January 7, 2021


Chromatic Shadows Beta

The first beta draft for Chromatic Shadows: Weird Cyberpunk Roleplaying is nearly complete! It's over 80 pages long, and includes full character creation rules, and just about every core system you'll need to play the basic game. It's still a bare-bones document in a lot of ways, and I intend on adding more content as the writing & editing continues, but putting the polish on this beta draft is a milestone for me. Not only important for playtesting, and moving forward with design, but as a significant point of "completion" in this year long  process of designing a complex game. 

What is Chromatic Shadows? 

It's a medium-crunch cyberpunk RPG, inspired primarily by Shadowrun, Vampire the Masquerade, & Stars Without Number. It's influenced by the writing of William Gibson, Neal Stephenson, Philip K Dick, H.P. Lovecraft, Mark Fisher, and media like Black Mirror, Stranger Things, & X-Files. The design goal is provide the framework for traditional cyberpunk game play within an occult influenced near-future game world. Streamlined, yet robust rules favor intuitive rulings over heavy tactics. The game is a toolkit that supports a mixture of action packed  guns-out missions along side a more personal exploration of the characters within the context of a futuristic urban sandbox.  "Cyber-runs" and their consequences lead organically into complications and emergent situations that impact the character's lives and careers.

The Shadow War

The backdrop of Chromatic Shadows is The Shadow War--a secret conflict being waged between the three largest megacorps on Earth. It is concealed behind layers of media misdirection, false fronts and deniable assets. At its heart, The Shadow War is a hidden struggle for control of what can only be described occult assets: esoteric artifacts, alien hyper-technology, exotic beings, & ancient rituals infused with digital power. The player characters act as cyber-runners, agents on contract for the megacorps. Their job is to execute missions that inevitably run up against these mysteries. The deeper the characters go down the rabbit hole, the closer these hidden powers come within their grasp. Will they seize a piece of alien hypertech or an occult artifact for their own? Can they somehow change the world with it? What will they do when the corporations (or worse) come looking to get it back? 


 Release Date?

When will the beta be ready for prime-time? Soon! I've got to make another pass of edits and then a hard decision about the best platform for distribution. The learning curve on this whole project has been a trip.  Look for more updates in the near future!





Tuesday, December 29, 2020


 A few elements from my "City of Calyx" fantasy campaign I've been working on. It's in the acid-fantasy/ dying earth genre, inspired by projects like Planet Algol, Carcosa, and Lizard Man Diary's "Iron Rib Peninsula". Hoping to drop more content as it comes.
Art by Roger Dean

The Grass Elves of Callio 

Every seventeen years, clutches of grass elf hunters from the village of Callio, venture out onto Alizarin Steppe in search of giant cicada nymphs. On clear nights, under the canopy of stars and the light of the recurring comet Aolothuwee, the clutch matriarch trained in the ways of soil tasting, samples her way across the dusty shelf. She stops at the tell tale sign: a salty acid brine mixed with the taste of honey and ammonia on the tongue. The team is signaled and begin to dig. Just below the surface is a deposit of golden jelly- an excretion produced from the nymph's neck glands prior to the act of molting. The elves take care to scoop every drop of this rare medicinal delicacy into clay vessels.  The clutch then begins loosening soil, digging out in a ten food ring from the deposit. Not far below, the great nymph lies burrowed and sleeping. It’s golden head a yard across with black saucer eyes the size of mans head. Its monstrous ribbed body lies buried below. If aroused, it could awaken in a fury.  An elf poisoner is lowered down to the nymph. She draws a long hollow reed loaded with a dose of paralytic moon lotus water, slips it into the exposed crease beneath the gland, and blows. Once sedated, the nymph is then drawn out with ropes, tied down upon a sturdy pallet, and born away by the troupe toward its final destination: The Grand Ampulla of Calyx.

The Painted Ascetics of Calyx

In the tent village at the base of Calyx, the Painted Ascetics worship the “the Father of Ten Thousand Forms”. They draw spirals and eyes upon their naked bodies with an intoxicating paste in order to commune with his "singing presence". Tattered fabric tents and prayer flags emblazoned with elder signs flutter in the desert wind. Day and night, thick clouds of incense & burning sage rise and commingle with the sound of sonorous chanting.

The blue ghost centipede is at the center of the cult of the Ascetics. When ground into a paste, eaten, snorted or ingested through the skin it provides an addictive euphoria & manifests unpredictable psychic phenomena. Prolonged eating stains the teeth, tongue, gums, and face a shade of deep indigo. Eventually the ascetic's vocal cords become paralyzed and they lose the faculty of speech. Some speculate, however, that cultists who reach this advanced level have no need for speech, having mastered the gift of telepathy.

 The Arcanum of Calyx

No merchant of Calyx dares park his stall in the shadow of the Arcanum, for fear of the demon-sworn magi that dwell within. The Arcanum appears as a matte black hexagonal tower rising 60 feet above the busy market district--each of its sides emblazoned with great silver sigils that slowly change over the course of the day. The Arcanum is doorless and windowless, with no apparent way in or out. Calyx's magi dwell here, and study their occult formulae in sworn secrecy. The wizards are given a wide birth at the market. They can be seen in their black silk robes wordlessly collecting exotic regents from terrified vendors, only to vanish suddenly from sight. Accessing the college is a feat only the mad would dare. It is said that at on certain nights at sunset, on the western wall, a riddle written in silver script can be seen, catching the last light of the setting sun. If the correct answer is written in chalk upon the wall, before the sun sets, a magical door is said to appear granting access. When the sun slips below the horizon, the riddle and the door are lost.

Chromatic Shadows Faction: Hand of Moloch

The Hand of Moloch are emerging power players in the Shadow War. This highly secretive cabal of wealthy hyper-elites, are obsessed with imm...