Black Coffee

I submitted this to the Necropraxis "Belonging" competition a few months ago. I haven't heard anything back, so I figured I'd post it here.

(I also want to just apologize for accidentally publishing this a million times and spamming all you lovely followers. Blogger kept telling me it couldn't publish it, I didn't realize it was lying.)



This is hopelessly dependent on Scrap Princesses Pandemonium Fracking Coffee. If I win, I figure I’ll probably give her the prize. Shared under a Creative Commons license.

What is it?



From people on the street:
  1. You won’t need to sleep for a month, it’s great.
  2. Man it just like, pumps you up. I just feel good, I can’t explain it.
  3. My sister tried it and she finished her novel in three days, it was crazy.
  4. The whole thing’s a scam, don’t waste your money.
  5. Listen, I don’t tell many people this, but - I saw something. A few weeks after I tried it I  made contact with, I don’t know, some kind of other being. Like, under all this, there’s something massive, you know? I’m saving up, I gotta try it again.
  6. Don’t even talk to me about that shit. I was throwing up for three days straight.

From literary sources (libraries, galleries, archaeology):

  1. Private letter from Pope Johan Riechart III: "This Satan's drink is so delicious that it would be a pity to let the infidels have exclusive use of it. We shall cheat Satan by baptizing it."
  2. Notice: "A PROCLAMATION FOR THE SUPPRESSION OF COFFEE HOUSES: Whereas it is most apparent that the multitude of Coffee Houses of late years set up and kept within this Kingdom, have turned over to the secret dealing of that malitious substance, known as “The Black Ichor of Life” or “Stun Gravy” … producing of many very evil and dangerous effects… his Majesty hath thought it fit and necessary, that the said Coffee Houses be (for the Future) put down and suppressed..."
  3. Concerned Citizens Group:"...Leads men to trifle away their time, scald their chops, and spend their money, all for a little base, black, thick, nasty, bitter, stinking nauseous puddle water."
  4. Recipe: water (250ml)... boneless albino civert cats (deceased) (2)...

~Player Line, do not cross ~



After drinking it, you can’t sleep. Roll a d10 on the table below immediately after the first cup. Every day after that, roll again and add +1. So, on day twelve you would be adding twelve to the roll. I call this your Crash number. As you go longer and longer without sleep, you slowly move from the great effects at the top to the terrible dregs at the bottom.


You can stave off this slow crash by drinking more coffee. Every time you take another cup, remove d10 from your crash number. However, double the amount you’re adding each day. Take another cup of coffee, and you’re adding 2 each day. Then 4, then 8.

  1. Everything stops. You walk in a frozen world, people around you slowly turning, staring, mouthing drawn-out syllables. You are transcendent. It's like this. And this. The effect lasts for ten minutes, the high lasts for the rest of the day.


You feel fucking fantastic. You can easily work through the night and still pop up fresh-faced and beaming the next day.


  1. You get two actions every round.
  2. +4 to critical success chance.
  3. For every check and attack, roll twice on a d20 and take the highest roll.
  4. You’re fabulous. Everyone you meet must save or be Charmed by you.
  5. You dance like a butterfly. Half the attacks that would normally hit you, won’t.
  6. You sting like a truck. Everyone you hit goes flying back ten feet.


The smell of fresh espresso wafts from your body. Your flesh is marbled through like a tiramisu. You can’t help but lick yourself. You taste delicious.


  1. You’re energized. You can work at making money, writing spell scrolls, building a lair, or anything else at triple your normal productivity.
  2. You’re hyper-observant. You automatically know when a room contains secrets or traps, and you’ll see tiny details others will miss. You could see hairs from a monster that came this way, for instance, and know who someone is and where they’ve been, Sherlock Holmes style.
  3. Whenever anyone fails an attack against you, you parry and get a free attack back at them.
  4. You move at double your normal rate today.  
  5. Your mind’s like a razor. You get a +2 to your int modifier, and you’re immune to all brain-effects like fear and charm.


Most of the buzz has worn off, but you’re still feeling pretty good. You figure you’ll probably start sleeping again soon.


  1. You don’t feel hungry today. If you try, you’ll end up throwing it up.
  2. You notice your hands shaking slightly. Probably nothing to worry about.
    +1 Critical fail chance. This effect doesn't go away in the morning.
  3. +2 to any attempts to do sick acrobatic tricks.
  4. You become overwhelmingly fixated on some goal. You get +2 while you’re working towards it, -2 at all other times.
  5. You’re the fucking best. You must be getting like +5 to rolls. You’re strong and fast and everyone loves you. (This is a delusion.)


You’re moody all the morning
Mourning all the night
And in between it's nicotine
And not much heart to fight




  1. You can’t get out of bed this morning. You can’t sleep, but you can’t bring yourself to stand up, either. Sorry, guys. We’ll have to do the adventure tomorrow.
  2. Your eyes are red and bleary. Bright light is painful. In sunlight, you suffer -2 to hit.
  3. Everything you’ve killed shows up one by one, in the order you killed it. They hang around in the shadows, getting drunk and giving you terrible advice until past midnight.
  4. Every time something unexpected happens, save or be confused for 1d4 rounds.
  5. Your memory is falling apart. Roll a d20: every time you roll that number again, you’ve forgotten some important fact (how to reach a place, how some piece of equipment works, your mother’s name). This effect doesn’t go away in the morning. Every time you roll this entry again, another number has the same effect.
  6. You feel worthless. You suffer -2 to all rolls unless you’ve got some kind of alcohol or other drug to use as a crutch. This effect doesn’t go away in the morning.
  7. Your normal movement is ten feet slower. This effect doesn’t go away in the morning.


Tonight, you lie in bed and look at the ceiling. It looks like it’s crawling with millions of tiny, brilliant worms. You’re too terrified to move. You lie there for an eternity, frozen and crying.


  1. The shakes are getting worse. +1 Critical fail chance on all rolls. This effect doesn't go away in the morning.
  2. There is something terrible behind you. You can’t turn around, take a backwards step, or go back the way you came. Otherwise it will appear.
  3. You’ve got a head full of needles. Whenever anyone annoys you, even slightly, save or fly into an uncontrollable, murderous rage.
  4. Your body has finally realized what’s going on. It violently tries to purge every trace of Pandemonium from your system. Spend the day spewing from every orifice, and gain d4 crash.
  5. Roll a d20. Whenever you roll that number again, you have some vivid “Hallucination”. For example:
  1. Peoples faces start smudging like this. Sometimes everyone turns and stares at you for minutes, saying nothing, before going back to whatever they were doing as if nothing happened.
  2. You see a man watching you, half hidden behind things.
  3. You hear a girl’s voice, warning you not to do things.
  4. You feel something wet slither through your hand.
  1. You blacked out tonight. You can’t have slept, because you’re still exhausted. There is something written on the walls in a language you can’t understand. People say they saw you doing terrible things.


You’ve been awake too long. Every night, we’re meant to coat over reality with a protective layer of dreams. That’s why the brain desperately tries to shut itself down when you keep it on too long: it starts to realize things.


  1. You start suffering absence seizures. Roll a d20: Whenever you roll that number again, you are paralyzed for 2d10 seconds. This effect doesn’t go away in the morning. Every time you roll this entry again, another number has the same effect.
  2. Your limbs are so twisted and thin you have trouble walking. It becomes easier to crawl. In fact, you can crawl faster than you could walk.
  3. There are gaps in the pavement. You realize you can squeeze through them, move through the inverse space under everything, and then pop out again in a different location at the same instant that you left. If you stay under the pavement too much, the things that live in the inverse space will begin to notice.  
  4. You need to make an intelligence check to understand human languages, but you begin to understand what the stones are saying.
  5. When you talk, you can barely be understood by the rest of the party - but out of the corner of your eye, you notice other things listening attentively.
  6. Your eyes are now so red that they’ve started scabbing over. As your vision leaves you, you find you can still see in a strange, geometrical heat vision - it sees around corners, but not what’s in front of you. You see the inside of things, but not the outside.
  7. You never eat anymore. Your body is thin and pale. You draw power from reverse photosynthesis, soaking up darkness and converting it into energy.
  8. The shakes come in waves that vibrate your whole body. In the worst moments, the world tears, and you can see the shapes of something darker come through - as if you’re vibrating on the frequency of a different world.
  9. You can finally see it. The shape of the world. Everything.

    The party sees you suddenly stop shaking. You say something like “Of course.” Then the world starts vibrating violently as you stand perfectly still. Everyone around you throws up. The walls seem to dissolve, and the party catches glimpses of some strange, terrible geometry beneath them.


You are lost forever. For years afterward, they’ll see you in clouds, in piles of driftwood, in the shadows cast by torchlight. People with their backs to the party will always look like you. Strangers and monsters will unconsciously babble the phrases you used to say.

40 or above: You collapse, and sleep for as long as you’ve been awake. As you sleep, you slowly lose all effects. Gain 50 EXP per level. For a long time after waking, you will still be shaky, unable to understand the world, still trying to move in the way you used to. You will be certain that you could have understood everything, if you had just spent a little more time awake.