Monday, November 7, 2016

Gray Goo

As a phrase, “gray goo” was never meant to be a literal blob of gray goo—it was simply a shorthand way of discussing a potential problem in nanotechnology.  But once you start tossing around terms like “replicators,” “nanobugs,” and “ecophagy”…well, the image of flying, flesh-eating dust is pretty hard to shake.  And that makes gray goo a pretty amazing monster for Pathfinder as well.

Now, given that I spent most of the last entry fretting about whether grays are too sci-fi to fit into Pathfinder, it probably seems weird that I’m like, “All right, nanites!” 

But whereas grays carry all this cultural baggage with them, gray goo is just straight-up terrifying.  It’s also incredibly useful from a game perspective—it’s a flying, high-CR ooze-like construct swarm, making it a useful threat at a time in your campaign when puddings and jellies just aren’t going to cut it.  If you’re already messing around with robots and androids, gray goo seems like a logical fit.  And in the experience at the gaming table, is there that much difference between gray goo and, say, a living disintegrate spell in the Eberron setting?  Not really.

So bring on the nanites!  Just be sure to triple-check your coding before you let them loose…

On board a mining facility that straddles the back of a comet, adventurers race to rescue cryogenically frozen elf children before the hurtling ball of space ice crumbles to nothingness.  But after an outer dragon streaked past one of the habitat pods, the benign nanite swarms inside became warped by the alien presence.  Now swirling mists of gray goo, the malfunctioning nanites seek organic life to incorporate and reconstitute.

A clockmaker has achieved the seemingly impossible.  Not only has he created mechanical men, but these clockwork beings can create smaller clockworks of their own, and so on till the constructs vanish from sight.  But the clockmaker’s children grow frustrated with their father’s human frailty and paranoid about carrying out his will—and so they will meet any perceived threat with an attacking cloud of nearly invisible, tiny, flesh-tearing gears.

On one world, archaeologists excavate a stone pyramid guarded by living sandstorms.  On another, colonists explore a metal ziggurat buzzing with the hum of a gray goo storm.  The monuments are one and the same—a single pyramid split across two dimensions, housing a godlike being that cannot be perceived on either.  And it is hungry…

Numeria, Land of Fallen Stars 50 & Pathfinder Bestiary 5 130

For my U.S. readers, normally this is the part where I would encourage you to vote tomorrow—that no matter where you live, no matter which candidate you support, and no matter which party you belong to, I support your right to vote encourage you to act on it.

This isn’t the year for that.

This week more than 300 gaming professionals, including weschneider, Mark Moreland, Sean K. Reynolds, Jason Bulmahn, Jeff Grubb, Wolfgang Baur, Keith Baker, Andy Collins, Bruce Cordell, Mike Selinker, Mike Mearls, Chris Pramas, and scores of other authors, designers, and developers whose work I love wrote a letter supporting Hillary Clinton’s candidacy and denouncing Trump’s. 

I stand with them.  And you should too.

For my readers who are Republicans, I apologize for bringing the contest even here, to a place where you probably wanted some respite from the shouting.  But this is not a normal post.  This campaign has not been normal.  And the actions of Trump, his surrogates, many of his supporters, and much—not all, but much—of his party this year (from blocking Supreme Court appointments to engineering widespread voter disenfranchisement based on race) have been completely unacceptable in a functioning democracy.

There comes a point where you have to draw a line.  I would rather lose readers than stay silent.  It is not enough to vote tomorrow.  You need to vote for our future.  You need to reject hate and lies.  You need to vote Democratic all the way down the ballot.  This year, it's the only acceptable choice.


  1. Thank you for having the courage to speak for what was and still is right on your blog. I'm sure you lost some readers, but if they have any sense of democracy I hope they can look past it and keep your - as always - amazing content the main focus. Thank you, for everything you do here.

  2. Wow, that description of Hillary Clinton was almost as cringe as "Pokémon Go to the polls". I really don't understand people who think Hillary Clinton is a good person, or candidate. Also, Senator Biden said that a president on his last year shouldn't be allowed to appoint a SCOTUS judge, and I thought you lot liked him.