I'm making a video game

You're curled up in front of the fire reading a folk tale on a cold winter's night. Something about it seems so familiar. Have you read this before?

Explore a cosy and mysterious fantasy universe inspired by fairy tales. The old kind of fairy tales, strange and wild, before the edges were sanded off. Warm and comforting, but with parts you don't quite understand, and you don't know if you want to understand.

Make friends with 4 different fairy tale folks. 4 main routes for the Witch, the Toad, the Thief and the Mushroom.

Align yourself with G-d, Death, or the Devil. Choose your godparent and your destiny.

The Thief, the Witch, the Toad and the Mushroom is a visual novel inspired by old folk tales like the original Brothers Grimm. It uses old art from the public domain that I've cobbled together. I've completed a lot of work on it so far and I think I should be able to release it later this year. 

One of my big goals is to evoke the feeling I get from finding an old book. The author is long dead, and their perspective warps the events of the story in ways that seem strange and mysterious. Who told this story? Why did they tell it, and who was the intended audience? 

At the time, maybe people would have immediately understood what message the story is trying to convey. But that message has grown twisted and arcane with time. The plot doesn't follow the basic structures we've come to expect, and we don't understand why it twists in the way it does. It's sometimes funny, sometimes bizarre, and sometimes seems to hint at a sinister hidden meaning.

I'll continue to post bits and pieces about it here until it's complete. If you're interested in playtesting the game, please shoot me an email at jack(at)ashtowngames.com and I'd love to send you a copy. 


This year, I'm going to try to make 1 blog post a week. Most posts will be monsters or elements for a pre-apocalypse setting I'm working on called NO-ONE GETS OUT ALIVE. Here is the first monster.

A small government research facility on the east coast has been experimenting with new methods of compressing 4th dimensional space. Boxes that are bigger on the inside, that sort of thing. This promises to open up exciting new opportunities in landfill storage. These hypothetically infinite spaces could store a hypothetically infinite amount of trash, allowing humanity to continue exponentially generating garbage in peace and comfort. 

Unfortunately the department was disbanded due to budget cuts and something inevitably went wrong with the machine. Now the country is plagued by hyper-dense 4th dimensional trash shamblers that lurk in the alleyways and absorb everything they touch. From the outside they appear as jittering mounds of lumbering garbage that glitches and intersects itself at impossible angles. Each one looks different, depending on what type of waste it's been feeding on. In the center, you can see what looks like a miniature black hole. 

The shamblers are programmed to detect Trash Producing Entities and will attempt to grab you on sight. Anyone unlucky enough to make contact will be sucked through into the infinite cosmos of the trash dimension. 

The trash dimension is a glittering star-filled expanse where landfill slowly spirals like the milky way. Strangely beautiful. From your perspective you see the dark violet outline of endless junk stretch to the horizon, with a swirling purple nebula haze in the sky above. The pinpricks of light in the sky seem like stars at first glance. They're actually ultra-compressed, self-perpetuating tire fires. 

There are rumours that the people lost to the trash dimension have built their own mad max-style civilization, surviving off the refuse for years. It is said they worship the serpentine Trash Queens that twist through the depths of the landfill rivers, and that these queens hold the secret to returning home. But if this is true, no-one has ever escaped to tell of it.


Danger: High.
Number Appearing: 1-2. 
AC: 16. HD: 5.
Speed: 1/2 unencumbered human. Double that speed when it's walking on trash. 


The trash shambler gets 2 of the following attacks per round. 
  • Grab +5. You are sucked in and embedded in the shambler's juddering form. Make a DC 15 agility save each round after you are grabbed. If you fail 2 saves, you are sucked through into the trash dimension. 

    The shambler gains +1 AC for each being it has grabbed. If you miss an attack against the shambler, you must deal damage to one of the beings it has grabbed. 

  • Disgorge. The gravitational forces holding the trash anomaly in place begin to fail and the shambler unintentionally spews out an impossible volume of trash at high speed. 2d6 damage to everyone in a cone, half damage on save. The Shambler loses 1 hit dice of HP. Everything in the cone is coated in ancient detritus.

  • SuctionThe anomaly sucks in all trash and trash-like objects nearby. This may include weapons and items the PC's are carrying - make a DC 10 strength save to hold onto them. It gets +1 HP for each object sucked in.

    These objects will become embedded in the shambler, tantalisingly within reach of the PC's.


The Shambler is easily distracted by trash. You can escape it by throwing away items, then running while it's distracted. It will focus on the areas with the most refuse (even if that means ignoring the PC's). 

Every time you deal damage to the Trash Anomaly, it scatters garbage nearby. Whenever it's on garbage, it moves twice as fast and has advantage to grab. It automatically hoovers up anything it moves through, but has to use the Suction ability to get anything out of reach.
When a Trash Anomaly reaches 0 HP, it convulses for a brief time, then explodes. The contents of the Trash Dimension is vomited up all over the nearby area. Everything in the blast radius must take 2d6 damage (half on save). Any PC's or items that were sucked into the trash dimension will be vomited back up. The walls, floor and ceiling will be embedded with the strange treasures of the trash dimension - mysterious items and artifacts from aeons long lost to man. 

What's wrong with your dog?

  1. It emits bursts of radioactivity at random.
  2. It swears allegiance to no master but Belphegor, Lord of Hogs.
  3. It sometimes no-clips into the walls and floor, jittering, whining, and looking at you in panic. You cannot help it.
  4. It compulsively eats parts of itself which regrow overnight.
  5. It knows everything there is about late 18th century moon-man architecture and constantly attempts to apply this knowledge in inapplicable situations.
  6. It watches you at all times. Even as it eats, or fetches sticks, or attacks an enemy, its head is always contorted at an awkward angle to gaze only at you. It does not sleep.
  7. Instead of barking, it just whispers the word "Bark". 
  8. For reasons of its own, it is conditioning you to ring a bell every time you feed it.
  9. In motion, it looks normal. When at rest, it loses it's internal consistency, slowly oozing and melting into a puddle until it moves again and re-solidifies. 
  10. Whenever it's surprised it explodes into a dozen round miniature dogs that roll around barking helplessly, only reforming once it's calmed down. 
  11. It stalks you online and creates dozens of sock-puppet accounts that bombard you with false perspectives, slowly warping your world-view to coincide with it's pro-dog agenda.
  12. While you're at work it goes into the basement and excretes a noxious saliva that solidifies on contact with the air. It is slowly creating a coccoon. When it is complete, it will wait until you fall asleep and drag you inside.
  13. It endlessly vomits up lost relics from the future and the past, then eats them again.
  14. It has long conversations with your mother on the phone. She doesn't want to talk to you anymore. "Can you put the dog on?" They laugh about you behind your back. 
  15. Flickering dog after-images follow it wherever it goes, like its form has been burned into your retinas.
  16. When you look directly at it, you can't see it. You have to unfocus your vision or look at it out of the corners of your eyes.
  17. It has lost a fortune of your money gambling on the stock exchange and swears it just needs a small loan to get back on top.
  18. Its tail is long, thin, and pulsating. It connects the dog's body to something you can't see in the earth. When it opens its mouth, the barking comes from somewhere deep underground.
  19. Every year another family members dies, and every year the dog digs up the graves and buries it somewhere underneath your house. The bone hoard grows. 
  20. Whenever you try to warn someone about it, you can't get the words out. Instead, you find yourself talking endlessly about how much you love your dog. Your eyes look terrified, but your mouth says He Is A Good Boy. You notice the same frightened look in the eyes of your friends and family. Look At Him. What A Good Boy, they say. He Deserves A Treat, they say, as it slowly absorbs their hand.

New website!

Hey everyone!

I have a new website here:

I'm starting it off by announcing a new megagame I'm psyched about called We Are Not Alone. There's a lot more projects coming down the pipeline though. I'm thrilled and happy to finally be announcing stuff.

Please click through and subscribe if you're interested! <3


You should read this post if you haven't:


I believe Mandy.

Zak Smith's blog was the thing that got me into tabletop RPG's. This blog wouldn't exist without him. The first tabletop RPG session I ever ran was from Vornheim, his debut print work, and I've been running Maze of the Blue Medusa for over a year now. A lot of the previous posts here have been focused on his work - reviewing it, recounting actual print stories from it. I've decided to remove that content from the blog now.

I have defended Zak online in the past, and I feel ashamed of that now. I retract those statements, and I'm sorry for any harm I've caused. I think Scrap Princess and Patrick Stuart have written about this better than I can. I agree with them.



I am glad that he is now being exposed and condemned. I'm glad to see the DIY D&D scene, and the creators I most love from that scene, excise him. I know this community will make incredible, beautiful games without him.

I want to thank Mandy, Jennifer and Hannah for coming forward and speaking up.

This may be one of the last posts made on this blog. I felt like it was important to post, for anyone who may go through the archives and isn't aware of some context. I'm currently working on a videogame, and I plan to change to a new website to release that. In case this is the last post on this blog, I also want to thank Scrap Princess, Patrick Stuart, Matthew Adams, Tom Fitzgerald, and too many others to name, for inspiring me beyond words.

Mystery-o-Matic: The Academy

The Academy doesn’t send acceptance letters. You just feel different one day. The things you once took for granted seem strange to you. You don’t recognise your family or friends. You don’t recognise your hands. For reasons you will never be able to explain, you walk out of your house, past the places you know, and into the nearest patch of woods. In the center of those woods - wherever they are - you will find The Academy. Your school supplies are waiting for you.

The Academy is in black castle Czorsztyn, surrounded by mountains and sunk into a slush marsh in the shadow of a melting glacier. Even from the highest spires of the castle, you can see nothing but endless, impenetrable taiga in every direction. On clear days, you can sometimes see thin spires in the fogged ice of the looming glacier, and the shadows of crooked things moving across them.

Use the tables below to generate a dark mystery in a twisted magical academy. Roll to find each magical class, who teaches it, what terrible secret they're hiding, and their relationship with one other teacher. Once you're happy with the amount of characters and intrigue, roll to see who is killed, and which character is the murderer.

Customers at the migraine store

Lady Melinda Birthright's Migraine store is packed. Hordes of furtive customers grab one of the glowing lanterns around the shop and head out into the drizzling rain. Others can't wait: they slip into a corner to crack the thing against their forehead as soon as they get it, letting the pain ooze down their face like egg yolk.

Who would be buying headaches at this time of night?
  1. This old wizard's brain hold a terrible secret which no-one can know - not even him. He needs to keep it forced down in his mind with ever more powerful migraines.
  2. The ninth world's BDSM clubs grow tired of the usual punishments.
  3. After a knowledge spell gone wrong, this ambitious young nobleman must keep his brain constantly fed with ever-more difficult tasks and obstacles, lest it grow bored and leap out of his skull.
  4. Jimmy two-fingers just wants to get out of work. Anything's better than another day at the Thresher.
  5. The Torturer's guild is researching some of the more intricate psychological punishments for a Pain Conference later this year. They hope to impress the other attendees with some new techniques for inducing a Migrainous Infarction.
  6. Madame Du Pont is using them to cloud her husbands mind as she drains his finances into several off-shore bank accounts.
  7. Tom Tongue buys in bulk to sell as a hallucinatory drug to the Under-Things, which experience pain as pleasure and pleasure as pain.
  8. The Order of Saint Tinnitus attempts to divine visions of the future from the spots and auras they see while in the throes of one of Lady Birthright's custom creations.
  9. This shriveled magician is pitting headaches against each other in cage matches inside her head. Her eventual goal is to breed the strongest specimens together to make something capable of instantly pulverizing your brain.
  10. Most psychics stop by here regularly for a top-up. They isolate the migraine to the outer regions of their brains, using them as a barrier to stop intruders.