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As it turns out I haven't written much for my setting book. Instead, I started a new document. The first section is my old referee guide which was part of my house rules document for a short while. It's basically my "how I run my sandbox" document. Then I added the cosmology, gods and demon lords from Raising a God, and now I'm busy writing a new monster manual with a lot of boring and well-known monsters because that's what I use in my campaign. The extra challenge is that I'm now trying to illustrate all the entries using the Zen Brush 2 app, sumi-e style.

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I haven't been writing any text because I started looking at art. I feel like I should be drawing my own, maybe also because of all the talk about paying artists, I guess. So, I need to find a way get some drawings and I see Brian Scott is also trying to find a "look" for his project.
As for myself, I've been trying to use the Zen Brush 2 app in order to get some ink wash paintings. I'm not happy yet. I'm still wondering about the kind of things I can paint. My hope is that once I'm confident that this will work and once I have a bunch of pieces I like, I can return to writing. And when I'm laying out stuff, I'll have some material to fill the gaps. (Yes, I'm laying out chapters and sections as I write them because I'm trying to fit stuff on pages and spreads right away. Bad idea, or so I read everywhere... But I can't help it.)

I really should upload a few pieces.

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Zen Brush
Zen Brush

Sometimes it is important to point referees beyond the current setting, to provide a jumping off point that is weird and strange and good. And as I was looking at the entry on astral whales on my encounter table of the Astral Sea, I felt that perhaps I should offer something concrete, gameable, without spending many pages on it. Do you think this succeeds?

Astral Whales

Astral whales are dream singers the size of cities. Their thoughts overwhelm all others. Their bodies are like cliffs a thousand feet high. To hunt them is to use harpoons forged in hell according to plans devised by titans of war. When you're too close, it's like a religious experience. If you need to expand the campaign in an unexpected direction, roll 1d6 and be prepared to spend some time developing the idea for next session:

1. your ship is swallowed by the whale; there is a city full of snail people bathed in mauve light in here but their queen Patient Seer of the Seven Directions is weak and a triumvirate of martial snail men is trying to change the course of the whale's dive in order to swallow and assimilate a large city; these three powerful snails are called Acid of Perfection, Eternal Radula of the Mind and To Crawl Is To Fly

2. the ship is being attacked by a titan of war about 200ft. high called Rain of Fire that is using his lance of fire to kill the whale as you watch; waves of fear transport you to a dreamland of fire where rivers of lava rain down from above and glowing ghost giants with spears a mile long destroy the earth and their gaze sets things on fire – and you know that one of them is the titan of war you just saw and if only you could speak to it, this madness could end; the alternative is to die with the whale, unable to leave his dream maelstrom

3. this whale has been used by the lich lord called Father Bone Forest for a ritual of divine transcendence; the entire back of the whale is a gaping wound, a flesh pit 500ft wide, trailing black fumes boiling up from burning cauldrons of whale fat extracted from the living flesh by brass pipes and rusty iron needles, wraith fragments of whale soul screaming in madness and pain, going after any living being, begging for help, demanding help, spreading madness; and what god is being cursed, consumed and killed by this dread ritual?

4. waves of intense hate and love and fear and joy wash over you and suddenly you understand and you know, for this whale is a god and you have been chosen, all of you, this ship of yours, you are the chosen ones, the whale people, followers of Deep Thought, no save; if you decide to abandon your new faith, you'll be a heretic and you know it; and the people need you—the whale will use you to transform society and right all the wrongs, create a brotherhood of sophonts, a society of friends; boons granted include an aura of peace, a strong empathy for all living things and words of peace to calm all angry spirits

5. a trail of colors erupt behind the whale, miles and miles of chartreuse, of mandarine, of isabelline, of turquoise, of carmine, an explosion of colors, of plants gushing forth, a strip of land being drawn here from the whale's dream, the Bridge of Dreams and giving birth to the Bean People, green humanoids that grow out of your ship's wooden planks over the coming hours, charming you and all the crew unless they save vs. spells, spreading from your ship to others, a tireless appearance of messengers of peace and understanding for the next two months with names like Harmless, Peace, Happiness or Soft Words, friendly and caring, no matter how often you kill them

6. as you gape in wonder the eddies of the whale dream take hold of your ship and pull you over to the other side, a parallel Purple Sea, much like a Shadow Land, but colorful, of lonely skies and desert worlds, where sorcerer kings have drained all life and nothing but their dreams remain, and if you want you can find them still, their pyramids and mummies, their desiccated servants and buried boats, and if you bring them peace their dreams will end and the Purple Sea will fade, the whale will die and you might return to where you came from

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Title page and first chapter done (gods). The page size appears to be perfect. This will do, time to start writing about the Astral Sea and the various random encounters to be had.

PDF using the LaTeX class by +Peter Fröhlich:

If I'm going to add gods to my setting, then these gods must play a role in some adventure locations later in the text, and it must be possible for my players to interact with them on some level – calling forth agents in times of need is one such possibility. I've had a few sessions where this roll actually worked and it's just great when a spirit naga shows up to ruin everyone's day… I'm also going to add a sentence or two with marks they leave on their most devout followers: halos, glowing eyes, spirit ravens, trailing shadows, and so on. Anyway, this section so far:


There is a chance that the gods will send one of their agents to help if their name is called. In order to succeed, players need to keep track of a score for each god they care about. As characters do things to honor or spite the various gods, their score goes up. This could be about saving or killing their followers, building altars and temple in their name, defiling their altars or acting on visions sent by them. This score is the percent chance that the god will act when their name is called. Whether the agents appearing will in fact help the characters depends on their past actions. An evil demon lord like Set might still send a naga to help a paladin of Mitra, hoping to mess with them.

When paladins and clerics cast spells of level four and higher, the spell effect usually involves the appearance of such an agent, and an opportunity for some discourse.

Freya is the goddess of winter, of spring, of fertility, of grain, of war, of cats and boars, of magic. She leads the valkyries and collects half the slain in battle. These dine with her in Sessrúmnir, her hall in Asgard.

Odin is the god of wisdom, of magic and poetry, of war, of eagles and ravens, of runes, of wanderers. He wields a magic spear, he raises the dead, he rides an eight legged horse called Draupnir. The other half of the slain in battle dine with him in Valhalla, his hall in Asgard.

In times of need, both of them will send a valkyrie named War, Mercy Spear, Cruel or Fight: HD 6 AC 2 1d8 sword+3 MV 18 ML 12 XP 820, flying, need +1 to hit. The swords of valkyries are bright swords of light. When swinging such a sword, the wielder is compelled to shout for blood and glory at the top of their voice. Also, when allies are fighting, the owner of such a sword is compelled to draw it and join this melee. When resisting such a compell for the third time, the sword looses its magic. The owner is considered unfit to wield it.

Loki is the god of lies, of deceit, of misdeeds, of excuses and explanations, of looking the other way, of tricksters, thieves and shape changers, a friend of giants, the innocently accused, the misunderstood and the innocent.

In times of need, he might send a nameless shape changer: HD 4 AC 5 1d12 MV 9 ML 10 XP 190, polymorph at will, immune to sleep and charms. Clearly, mostly useful when in need of deception.

Mitra is the goddess of law, of fire, of bulls, of contracts, of bonds, the swearing of oaths, of honesty and truth, of loyalty and sacrifice for the community.

In times of need, she might send a minotaur named Silence, Calm, Truth Teller or Spirit Guide: HD 6 AC 6 1d6/1d6 MV 12 ML 12 XP 820, mesmerize any listeners at will (listeners must save vs. spells or stop hostilities speak nothing but the truth), immune to sleep and charms.

Set is the demon lord of snakes and crocodiles, of assassins, of revenge, of spies and diplomats, of poison makers, of death traps, of hypnotists and mind benders.

In times of need he will send a naga named Sweet Stab, Revenge, Crocodile Tears or Coral Death: HD 9 AC 7 1d8 poison MV 6 ML 12 XP 2400, fireball (7d6) 3/day, charm person at will, need +1 to hit.

Pazuzu is the demon lord of pestilence, of miscarriage, of famine and disease, of crows and vultures, of temptation and betrayal.

In times of need he will send a vulture demon named Gangrene, Pestilence, Corpse Eater or Baby Killer: HD 8+1 AC 5 1d4/1d4/1d6/1d6/1d8 MV 18 ML 11 XP 2420, flying, need +1 to hit.

So, what's a first step? I've got notes. I've got ideas. Now what? I think I'm going to start a table of contents. Lay out how's what topics to cover, how many pages I get to use, that kind of stuff.

My setting is probably going to be called Raising a God
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