What’s defending the lich’s sanctum?

1 – A roiling tornado of bone. Looks like a spell got out of hand; this thing has been spiralling through the catacombs for years, bashing open coffins and adding the contents to itself. The Lich might even be in here, trapped, and more insane than ever.

2 – Copies of adventurers. They’re simulacra of bone and dried flesh, glamoured to look like people – people you know. The lich has a keen interest in history, and used to be an adventurer themselves, so they use magic to make their minions act out famous stories for their amusement. The ones defending the place are either: a younger version of the grizzled ex-soldier who runs the inn in town, inaccurate caricatures of legendary fantasy races, or wildly exaggerated copies of the player characters themselves. A canny group could disguise themselves as the undead guardians, if they can act appropriately.

3 – A great inland sea, still as a mirror, with the creaking bones of an awakened leviathan corpse beneath the surface. Which is weird, because the sanctum is a regular-sized building; clearly the lich built around a world-shard, or something. Anyway, you’ll need to find a boat if you want to reach her.

4 – A shifting labyrinth full of necromantic traps. The traps, and the shifting walls, are made of animated bones and flesh; you catch a glimpse of a skeleton without hands, its wrists grafted to the wall, sliding a section into place as the maze rearranges. The concealed pit trap is a load of skeletal hands holding up the floor, and they let go when they sense intruders on the surface; the crossbow traps are made of the top halves of soldiers, enchanted to watch and wait forever. The lich’s own energy is so potent and distinctive that she can walk through the maze without fear – the skeletons simply don’t attack her, and move the environment however she pleases. If you could grab something stained with her power, you might be able to enjoy the same freedoms.

5 – The crushing innards of a great chthonic beast. It died to make the world alive, or the sun come up, or something; the lich found the corpse far beneath the earth, raided the tomb, and brought it back to life so she could live in it. It’s huge – easily the size of a town, with a mouth like a valley – and, over the years, the lich has refined the innards to be controlled from a central dias in the belly. From there, she can crush intruders by wrenching the windpipe shut, or animate the razor-sharp teeth that line the throat. (The reason why you’ve got access now is that she’s come up to ground level; she’s attending her great-great-great-granddaughter’s wedding.)

6 – A picket fence. She’s just moved in down the road and she’s trying not to make a scene. Being a lich isn’t technically a crime; doing necromancy is. But she’s offered to have her skeletons help defend the town and bring in the crops, and she seems nice, so.

7 – Whirling revellers. The lich decided to make her afterlife one constant party, seeing as she no longer needs to sleep, so she sent out a psychic invite to the wildest hedonists she could uncover and let it happen. The party is currently in its thirtieth year, and shows no signs of stopping any time soon; she keeps the wine, drugs and song flowing and takes lovers, both living and undead, from the ranks of the debauched throng that lines the halls of her palatial mansion and grounds.

8 – Angels. Or: things that look like angels – too many faces, lots of wings, fire, the works. They’re true neutral beings, devoted to equality in the cosmos, and a series of big wins against the forces of evil and death have shifted the balance too far towards the living and the “good.” They’re defending her while she makes an army of undead to sally forth and destroy the nearby towns; they view it as part of the ecology of the world.

9 – A load of churches. There’s a turf war going on in the undead community; the vampires are taking land down by the south side of the river, there’s a wight and a banshee who just got engaged and are Bonnie-and-Clyding their way through the farms on the outskirts, and the zombies are revolting. The lich has built her sanctum inside a ring of churches and she teleports in there; should any other living dead try to approach, they’ll have to deal with the sanctified ground.

10 – A dwarven stronghold. She snuck in here many years ago and has been operating secretly, stealing dwarf bones from the cemeteries and animating them into a sort of army; if she can take the armoury, they’ll become a force to be reckoned with. A trusted oracle saw her presence in a vision; the dwarves refuse to believe that she’s there, and won’t let you into their inner sanctums to investigate. Can you persuade them to provide access, or will you have to sneak inside?


Remnants is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create a fantasy world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[REMNANTS] Once upon a time, when the dragon-kings ruled the aetherealms and the Witch-Queens fought grand duels over generations with arcana of unimaginable power, the worlds split apart. There was too much magic, and reality couldn’t bear the weight any longer. The otherworlds splintered apart like ships crashing against a shoreline; but the pieces remained, shards of reality, and they pierced the material realm. A thousand dimensions, all attached to various degrees, to the prime material: some forgotten, some overrun with new inhabitants, some spawning monstrous creatures into the world, and some ripe for plundering.

Header image by Badlands National Park on Flickr

What’s weird about the club downtown?

1 – It’s run by the fey, and alongside the coat-check, you can hand in your reflection for the evening as well. Without a reflection, your soul doesn’t get stained from sin, so you can do whatever you wish and not end up karmically tainted by it. (In more concrete terms, you don’t feel bad about it, either. And you don’t even feel bad that you don’t feel bad.) The club keeps your reflection if you can’t pay up, and sells them on to desperate vampires at extortionate rates if you leave it too long.

2 – The music is a ritual. It’s one of the longest the world has ever seen, and it’s been performed by ten artists over about fifteen years; they come on stage and perform certain notes to add to the oversong. When it’s complete, they say that the whole club will ascend, but that’s probably just a spiel to get people through the doors.

3 – It’s infinite; there’s a room for every kind of music that you could imagine. However, seeing as the number of people in the club is finite, the less popular the musical style is the fewer people you’ll see. A number of shadowy organisations hold meetings in the throat-singing room, convinced that they’ll never be interrupted.

4 – You can only get to it by elevator. There are six elevators that go there, spread across town, and each of them has a slightly different combination of button-pushes that allow access. A lot of the elevators come with a “test” of some kind – a creepy-looking woman or child entering the lift and asking you weird questions – but that’s just to put off the tourists.

5 – It’s on the inside of a sphere; you can look up and see the other dancefloor. Which would be difficult enough to handle if you were sober, and you definitely aren’t. Some people like to throw small change up into the centre to see if you can get it to float in the middle of the sphere; the bouncers kick you out if they catch you doing it, though.

6 – It’s Valhalla for ravers. If you die on a dancefloor – generally thanks to an overdose, dehydration, or looking at the wrong guy in the wrong way and getting your head kicked in – then you come here, and dance all night, and sleep all day in the back of the chillout room. It’s jam-packed with the most hardcore party people available from throughout time, and they’re all impossibly irritating to be around if you’re sober.

7 – They’ve been playing the same song for the last twelve years. It’s incredibly long, and they just turn it down and leave it running when the club closes. Regular attendees believe that the mysteries of the universe are contained within the song – eventually. It seems to be about two years behind whatever’s fashionable when you hear it, which is pretty good going considering it was written last century.

8 – The place is jam-packed full of birds; owls, crows, hawks, ravens, etc. The staff’s main job is cleaning up after them, but if you can deal with the droppings, it lends the place a fantastic ambience.

9 – It’s pitch black inside. Most of the things that come here can see in the dark, and indeed prefer to function without light, so they don’t need it. Torches (and therefore phones) are banned; you can use night-vision goggles to see what’s going on, but expect the other punters to laugh at you and try to steal them.

10 – It’s in a rooftop garden. The plants here are unnaturally lush and vibrant, no matter what time of year it is – you reckon that there must be a dryad in charge, or at the very least a druid – and, occasionally, you see a deer or a fox scampering away down one of the corridors. Some of the more elaborate cocktails come served in pitcher plants or sliced-open cacti; the regulars tend to stick to glasses, though.

Glimmers is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create an urban horror world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?
[GLIMMERS.] The city is alive. The city is connected, with streams of light and noise and people, to every other city; they are all the same being, all branches of the same concrete-and-glass tree. There are streets between them, forgotten streets, with secret names and grim inhabitants. (And: there are wild-lands, dark places, the Spaces Between, where nothing seems right. Airport waiting rooms. Churches, at night. Backwater villages.)
There is vast power in the thrum of machines and the buzz of traffic, and it can be yours, for a price.

Image by electricnude on flickr

What’s under the church?

1 – Another church. Older, for a different religion; lots of crows, tapestries of a great and terrible crown. Roll again on this table to see what’s under this one.

2 – A roiling mass of worms. You can’t tell how far down they go, or what they’re surviving on down there. The door slams shut behind you.

3 – An underground cave system. Mostly it’s flooded, but the one dry-ish tunnel leads to the basement of a brothel in town.

4 – A forgotten library. It’s got the original religious texts of the church above it in there, but it seems like no-one knows it’s here. This would be an excellent opportunity to set yourself up in a prophecy of your own invention, if you’ve got a pen to hand.

5 – The anti-church. Built by a sect of True Neutral monks, this anti-church dwells beneath the above church and espouses completely different values for the sake of balance.

6 – A vault containing contraband treasure. Looks like it’s stamped with the insignia of the evil overlord who was cast down from his throne of blood thirty years ago. They (or anyone else who picked it up) would have a hell of a time shifting this. Why do they have it, anyway?

7 – A labyrinth, made out of repurposed wood. It’s filled with half-starving feral boars and the scant remains of the last people who came down here.

8 – A portal to heaven. At least: they reckon it’s a portal to heaven. It’s definitely a portal. The priests here are rapturing people from the local community after deeming them worthy of entrance into the great eternal. (God knows where it really goes, though. Would be a laugh if it actually was heaven, eh.)

9 – An enormous chasm, going way, way down. You can hear music – bells, flutes, pipes etc – and cackling coming from the bottom.

10 – A dark void. A magic hole in space and time, a portal to the elemental plane of No. The church was built on it to contain it, but their wards are failing, and now it’s only a couple of feet beneath the main altar.

11 – A vampire. Leave him alone! He’s trying to sleep.

12 – A suspicious quantity of arms and armour. Good stuff, too. Non-magical (aside from a handful of potions) but it’s of strong make, and there’s enough here to outfit a squad to do some serious work. Which is odd, because it’s hidden beneath a godsdamned church.

13 – A prison. They put sinners here. Sometimes they put food here. The town is calm and peaceful and crime-free, and they like it that way, so no-one asks too many questions about the black-masked priests who walk the streets at night and drag away the undesirables.

14 – A wizard’s tower. You’d think it’d be the wrong way up, but there’s a sky under here and everything; the tower is on a promontory overlooking a wild sea, and you can see something huge shifting under the waves. Wizard’s a bit of a weirdo; she says she’s studying the air currents here, and refuses to believe that there’s a church in her basement.

15 – Catacombs. But: round here, while you’re in mourning, you go and live with the dead under the church. Some folks never come out of mourning. There are about thirty people down there at any given time, and at the end of a funeral, family members are escorted down into the depths with the body.

16 – The same church, but last week. It’s one of the weird sharding effects of the cataclysm; the church is underneath itself, inverted, but the one underneath is a week in the past. As long as you visit the church once a week and stay on good terms with the vicar(s), you can effectively cheat death so long as you don’t mind getting kidnapped by your mates from the future every now and again.

17 – A hospital. The staff here are trying to hide the fact that there’s an outbreak of plague in the area; if it gets out, the panic would be impossible to handle. Their beds are filling up, and they’re on the verge of uncovering a cure, but time is not on their side.

18 – An opium den. None of the priests are actually priests; they’re drug dealers, and most of the town is in on it. They run a pretty solid operation, and don’t care about killing people who shove their noses in where they don’t belong.

19 – An orcish invasion. They’re tunnelling in from their world of darkness and fire and hate, and they’re hungry to see the light and feast on the pleasures of the surface world. You find evidence of an orc camp in the cellar, and then hear the unmistakable sound of iron-shod boots clattering against flagstones.

20 – Cogs from the machine that keeps the world turning. They creak and click at an incredibly slow rate, and beneath you, the sound of vast cthonic rumbling hints at something far larger beneath you. This is a maintenance access panel, but: do you really want to go exploring down here?


Remnants is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create a fantasy world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[REMNANTS] Once upon a time, when the dragon-kings ruled the aetherealms and the Witch-Queens fought grand duels over generations with arcana of unimaginable power, the worlds split apart. There was too much magic, and reality couldn’t bear the weight any longer. The otherworlds splintered apart like ships crashing against a shoreline; but the pieces remained, shards of reality, and they pierced the material realm. A thousand dimensions, all attached to various degrees, to the prime material: some forgotten, some overrun with new inhabitants, some spawning monstrous creatures into the world, and some ripe for plundering.

Header image by fly on Flickr

What’s the supernatural weakness of this new threat?

1 – Television static. The black-and-white snow on detuned televisions shows echoes of the big bang, and it’s this cosmic afterbirth that sets the monster’s teeth on edge. You’re not entirely sure why (and you’re not sure you want to find out, really) but getting an old cathode-ray TV and setting it to a dead channel works like salt, or holy water, or church bells on these guys. You’ve heard tell that there’s a guy downtown with several specimens trapped in circles of hissing TVs, and he’s always on the lookout to buy old models if you pick any up.

2 – Your blood. Just you, though – not anyone else. You think it’s something to do with the way that you’ve got The Sight; anyway, they’re killing people all over the shop, and various factions are becoming interested in harvesting your blood to use as a weapon. You, of course, would rather that it stayed in your body where it belongs. Can you track down someone else with a similar effect? (Or: infect them?)

3 – Digitalis. You can get digitalis from foxgloves (also known as Dead Men’s Fingers); they use it in heart medication to slow down irregular heart-rate. When you jab these monsters with it, in a high enough dose, it slows their pulse down to a human rate, and they lose all their supernatural powers: no more incredible strength, no more accelerated healing, etc. At that point it’s just as easy as killing a regular human.

4 – Crowds. They don’t see humans as individuals; something about their minds means that they see their targets as a sort of hive, a singular mass of swarming entities. They can understand one person (and talk to them, kill them, eat them etc) but if confronted with a crowd, they can’t fathom the intent of it, or any of the people inside. Big enough crowds overwhelm their senses and give them splitting headaches; they avoid crossing train-lines or busy intersections like a vampire avoids crossing water, because the buzzing stench of crowds never leaves those places. You’ll be safe as long as you’re never alone.

5 – Darkness. Something chased them here. (Something worse?) Now, they can’t endure the dark, not even for a second; they adorn themselves with lights, bathe in neon glow, cluster under street lamps. They reckon that if they’re in darkness, whatever hunts them can find them. (And: it does. If they spend too long in the dark, they die.) So you’re completely safe from them, as long as you’re in utter darkness.

6 – Mathematics. There’s something raw and bestial about them, something feral that rejects a higher understanding of the universe; so long as you’re performing arithmetic of some kind, they can’t abide your presence. (They hunt scientists out of a kind of hate.) In the modern world, they’re screwed, because most everyone has a device in their pocket that’s carrying out millions of calculations a second, so they have to wait until your phone runs out of battery before they strike and smash you to pieces against anything hard in your immediate surroundings.

7 – Heat. They’re creatures of bitter winter, and the colder they are, the stronger they become. You’ve heard tell that they rule the upper reaches of Scandinavia, but obviously something’s driving them down into more temperate climes; and now they’re here, in the city. They can walk about as normal during the depths of winter; in summer, they’d be lucky to last for an hour or more outside of an industrial freezer unit before their organs shut down and they die. Now: you and your friends are holed up in a run-down flat, surrounded by a protective ring of three-bar heaters, wishing for the snowstorm to end.

8 – Painkillers. They have a special relationship with pain, so anything that blocks it is anathema to them. People tried making protective circles of ground-up analgesics, but that only went so far; now, if you hunt them, it’s considered a good idea to get loaded up on codeine before you set off, which causes its own problems. Some people say that anti-anxiety drugs work too as they can feed off your fear (which makes them stronger), and they swear by 200mg of Pregabalin to start the day or wear protective charms made of Valium pills strung through dental floss.

9 – Fire. Back in the day, everyone had fire; we lit our houses with candles and lamps, and we burned wood to warm them. Now, the closest most of us come to an open flame during the average day is lighting a cigarette; so these creatures, clad in shadows and emerging from lightless corners, are having a field day. A lighter or match isn’t enough to keep them at bay, and you’re going to get some funny looks (and probably arrested) if you carry a burning torch around with you.

10 – Disease. They only eat clean things, so anything or anyone with a disease is disgusting to them. A minor cough or cold will put them off or slow them down (but not, say, stop them if their backs are to the wall) – late-stage leukemia will send them running in fear. If you hunt them, you’ve got a few choices: stay sick, so they’ll give you a wide berth; carry vials of disease around with you, which is a crime, and you’d have to break them open to use them; or bring an ill person with you, probably in a wheelchair, probably waiting in the van outside, to use as a tac-nuke if everything goes to shit.


Glimmers is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create an urban horror world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[GLIMMERS.] The city is alive. The city is connected, with streams of light and noise and people, to every other city; they are all the same being, all branches of the same concrete-and-glass tree. There are streets between them, forgotten streets, with secret names and grim inhabitants. (And: there are wild-lands, dark places, the Spaces Between, where nothing seems right. Airport waiting rooms. Churches, at night. Backwater villages.)

There is vast power in the thrum of machines and the buzz of traffic, and it can be yours, for a price.

Image by Alpha on Flickr

Worlds Apart Episode 0 – Aliens X Dwarves

We’re trying out some new stuff as we’re having a look at overhauling the stretch goals on the Hearty Dice Friends patreon, and one of the first ones is a show called World Apart where Chris and I design a world live on air.

If you like it and would like to hear more, or if you have any ideas for concepts for shows, please let us know!

– Grant

What are you a cleric or paladin of?

1 – Justice. And not the wishy-washy, platemail-clad shining sword shite that the other paladins talk about – actual, legal, by-the-book justice. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of the laws of the land, which is backed up by several actual encyclopedias that you carry on your back out of devotional respect. You are a lawyer, first and foremost, and you’ve let more than one “evil” necromancer go because they haven’t done anything wrong. (That said, you got that dragon on charges of livestock theft, and he’s still in jail, so.)

2 – Rocks. Can’t go wrong with a good rock. When everything is confusing and your adventuring companions descend into arguments, you focus yourself on the zen heaviness of rocks. Rocks know what’s what. You lift them a lot, to understand that heaviness better, so you’re pretty strong too. Mountains are kind of like gods to you, but the sort of gods you can climb and have a picnic on.

3 – Wayfaring. Your order used to possess the secrets of interplanar travel, and your ancestors would protect the barriers between worlds. But: that all collapsed, and now you’re a gang of dispersed guides, bodyguards and travellers who aid passage through the unstable and forgotten routes to the otherworlds that crashed into the prime material.

4 – Goblins. Due to a misspelling of “goblet” in your sacred tome, you are part of a sect that reveres goblins as the true vessels of the divine. So adaptable are goblins! So eager to spawn, so ingenious! Everywhere you look, there’s a goblin, and it’s showing you its arse! You find goblins fascinating, and your search for the goblin used to hold the blood of your god continues apace.

5 – A family line. The Von Helsbrecht family are, as far as you’re concerned, gods on earth; hundreds of years ago, they ruled this land as benevolent dictators. After a series of brutal and bloody wars, the family were dethroned and the members exiled or executed. You still draw holy power from their divine right to rule, and you are on a mission to track down the surviving members – however watered-down their blood might be, and whatever sort of wastrels they’ve become (some of them are even adventurers) – then help them take over the country again.

6 – A bound demon of world-shaking power. Your order bound a demon the likes of which the world had never seen and trapped it in a vault of ivory-white stone, far beneath the city streets. The thing has such vast power that you and your allies can tap into it to cast magic spells and summon miracles – though they all have a hellish edge to them, and you’re often mistaken for dark magicians yourselves even though your cause is a righteous one. So long as the demon doesn’t ever break out and come to track you down and kill you, or send agents against you to do the same, you’ll be fine.

7 – A genius loci. There’s a hill, or a lake, or a mine, or some other large natural feature near you that has a god in it. (Maybe it landed there during the sundering; maybe it’s always been there.) You worship it, and protect the lands around it, and it grants you power in exchange. Now, as you go out on adventures with your companions, you are gifted with some token of the place – a glowing seed from the great tree, a crystal vial of water from the lake, stone chipped from the temple’s inner sanctum – and instructed to plant it elsewhere, and tend to it, to make new genius loci across the land.

8 – The People. You fight for the little guy, and not because some god tells you to; you do it because you need to help each other out. You’re at the forefront of demonstrations, you organise aid handouts for the poor and needy, and you kick the tar out of corrupt police officers. (And, sometimes, non-corrupt police officers, because they’re part of a corrupt system.) You draw power from the roar of crowds, the heartbeat of nations, and you march at their head with bloody banners held high.

9 – The Door. They call it the Heaven Door or God’s Door or just The Door, and it appears wherever humans are in place of other doors. It leads to a great and powerful kingdom beyond our own, and you have devoted your life to tracking it down wherever it manifests and killing the things that come out of it.

10 – The song that ends the earth. You know the truth – that the world is being sung into being by a mad god, and when the song is complete the world will end. Your order taught you some tiny fragments of the song that you can use to change the world in small ways, but your primary goal is to counteract the end of the world; either by continuing the god’s song, by building wind-powered instruments on mountaintops, or confusing the cosmic melody by laying down anharmonic discordances and tricking the god into starting again from the top of the verse.


Remnants is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create a fantasy world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[REMNANTS] Once upon a time, when the dragon-kings ruled the aetherealms and the Witch-Queens fought grand duels over generations with arcana of unimaginable power, the worlds split apart. There was too much magic, and reality couldn’t bear the weight any longer. The otherworlds splintered apart like ships crashing against a shoreline; but the pieces remained, shards of reality, and they pierced the material realm. A thousand dimensions, all attached to various degrees, to the prime material: some forgotten, some overrun with new inhabitants, some spawning monstrous creatures into the world, and some ripe for plundering.

Cover image by Bit Boy on Flickr

What happens when you die?

1 – The devil challenges you to a game of your choosing in exchange for a better position in Hell. You can’t “win,” per se, because the devil cheats, but you’re at least in with a chance of getting a role as a middle manager or informant on the other guys. One death mage invented an eternal game and challenged the devil to it, thinking that he was being clever enough to guarantee himself eternal life, but the devil just chucked him into a pit and told him to forget about it.

2 – You enter an infinite plane, a place of ethereal landscapes and half-remembered sunlight, and you must search for a way out to an afterlife. The longer you stay here, the less of your original memories and personality remain; some of the shades here are just smudges of shadow and noise that barely resemble a human. You hear tell of a route to heaven in the mountains; of Elysium beyond the great sea to the east; that Valhalla emerges from between the clouds in a storm; and that Avici dwells, vast and malicious, in the tunnels far below the earth.

3 – Whoever rules the place where you died gets your soul as an eternal servant. The power-players in the occult world have legions of invisible servants at their command, or so they claim; there are secret poltergeist wars fought for territory under the cover of storms, and possessed agents in high levels of government.

4 – You escape death – narrowly, at the least second. You count yourself as lucky and go on living your life. Except: it’s not your life. Everything you experience is a simulation, your own personal afterlife, modelled after the one you chose to live while you were breathing. (In reality, your friends are grieving your death.) Die in this one, and you’ll enter another simulation, a more suitable heaven; right up until you hit the age of 88. We don’t know what happens if you die after that.

5 – You haunt the person who killed you. But: most people aren’t directly killed by someone, so your soul takes a roundabout route to punish whoever it thinks is responsible. Someone who fell off a bridge might haunt the bridge’s architect; a suicide victim might haunt their ex-therapist; a smoker might haunt a cigarette manufacturer. The closer they are to actually being at fault, the more intense the haunting is; there are layers and layers of bureaucracy between a smoker and a tobacco lobbyist, for example, and this is largely to keep the hauntings to a manageable level.

6 – You instantly become a shade of your former self, and all you can do is watch the world without you in it. You get to watch your family move on and deal with your death, but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t see other shades, either; just you, forever, in a world that you are incapable of affecting and which increasingly doesn’t care about you. (But: you can be pulled out of this state, and the crushing thing is you know how, but you can’t tell anyone. At least, not with the tools you currently have available.)

7 – A death mage (one of the bad ones) finds your corpse, and before your soul can move on or manifest into a ghost or any of that good stuff, the bastard field-strips your animus out of you and jams it into a mason jar. Before you know it he’s sold off your spectral eyes to juice up a warding spell, he’s flogged your sense of purpose to a struggling med student and siphoned off all of your back-from-the-dead vengeance and stored it in a safe in case you get any ideas about coming after him.

8 – You awaken, and you are marching in an impossibly long line under smog-choked stars, and the stench of industry stings your nostrils. You are fuel; your deeds in life have determined how much heat you will produce when burned, and at the end of the vast line, there is the great furnace that powers the machines which keep the world spinning. You see, at the edges of the crowd, iron-masked enforcers; these are people who made so little impact in their lives that they are more useful as agents than fuel. You envy them.

9 – You enter a marketplace – it looks something like a cross between a Moroccan souk and an IKEA – and it contains portions of every available afterlife, ready for purchasing with the proceeds earned from the good deeds you performed while alive. Always wanted to hang out with Abrahamic angels, but didn’t want to faff about with the whole “heaven” deal? Why not buy a six-winged friend and go hang out in the Elysian Fields? You find someone offering “Return to Life Unharmed,” which is a pretty swish deal, but the kicker is you just can’t afford it. So you’ll have to find someone willing to lend you some credit, or steal it from the nicest person you can find.

10 – Your spirit possesses someone else in the party, nestling inside their head like a parasite. They gain access to all of your skills and knowledges, but if they ever made a critical success or critical failure, they hand their character sheet over to you (and their body over to your spirit), which means you can do things like eat and love and feel again. Should you make a critical failure or success, or fall asleep, control reverts back to the original player.

Glimmers is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create an urban horror world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[GLIMMERS.] The city is alive. The city is connected, with streams of light and noise and people, to every other city; they are all the same being, all branches of the same concrete-and-glass tree. There are streets between them, forgotten streets, with secret names and grim inhabitants. (And: there are wild-lands, dark places, the Spaces Between, where nothing seems right. Airport waiting rooms. Churches, at night. Backwater villages.)

There is vast power in the thrum of machines and the buzz of traffic, and it can be yours, for a price.

Image by Krowten on Flickr

What are these dwarves doing?

1 – They’re all getting married to each other, simultaneously. (Dwarf marriage is strange.) They need to find wedding dresses, traditional beard cosies (it’s winter) and wedding gifts for one another. Oh, and the roasted corpse of some giant subterranean beast for the reception, like their mothers and fathers had.

2 – They’re creating a fake gold rush, having purchased some hostels and camp-sites near the local mountains (and converting their ancestral home into a range of affordable B&Bs); they rock up to bars, engage in dwarven stereotypes and yell “drunkenly” about all the gold that’s up in them thar hills, and then clean up when chumps come to explore the area for treasure. The non-dwarves are digging without respect for proper tradition, and therefore are unearthing all sorts of nightmarish things from underneath the mountains: drow empires, fungal lords, liquid infectious darkness and animate curses.

3 – They’re refugees from a lost dwarven kingdom that was too far beneath the surface of the world (and too protected by ancient magic) to survive the cataclysm that sheared the multiverse away from the prime material. They’re looking for help to build an enormous vessel to get back, and for stout folk to crew it.

4 – They’re poets. Dwarven poetry, like all good things, is hewn from rocks and refined by skilled artisans; it’s powerful stuff, and they recommend that you don’t read it if you’re pregnant or looking to become pregnant in the near future.

5 – It’s a dwarven feast day, and as heroes of the town, you’ve been invited! (If you’re not heroes, assume it’s a case of mistaken identity.) Can you survive a dwarven feast? Better men than you have tried and failed, and the dwarves don’t consider a party a success unless someone dies from eating too much butter. To them, it’s as honourable as dying in battle – but a lot more comfortable, at least until the end.

6 – One of their number is gravely ill, and has got the idea into her head that she can replace her malfunctioning meat parts with metal cogs, springs and sprockets. It’s a common dwarven delusion, and her friends are doing their best to stop her as she’s just making herself worse, but she keeps doing it.

7 – They’re selling fairy-tales – or fairy-tale experiences, anyway. They have all the illusion spells and a wide stable of trained actors on hand, and they can transport you to a world of whimsy and excitement for a modest fee. Ever wanted to meet the Prince of your dreams at a ball at midnight, only to have your carriage turn into a pumpkin? They can do that. Also, for not-so-modest fee, they offer to inflict fairy-tales on other people; not the nice ones, either.

8 – They’re selling moody cigarettes by the case, claiming that they’ve found a secret door to the Interdimensional Plane of Smoke. The markings on the packets are weird (ever heard of Fiddler’s Heel brand cigarettes? Or Bletchley-Harringdons? Or seen warnings that smoking damages your second heart, or endangers your alternate selves?) and they taste… well, they taste like moody cigarettes that’ve been dropped in a river and dried out on a washing line round the back of the pub. But they’re cheap, and the dwarves say they can sort you out with some cheap wine, too, if you’re willing to help them escort it out of the dangerous coastal region of Kahlay.

9 – They’re holding a funeral; a unit of thirty of them, grizzled veterans all, are heading off in the morning to attempt to liberate a lost hold from kobolds. Given the dangerous nature of the mission, the clan is holding their funerals before they go; even if they return, they’ll be legally dead, and the other dwarves will shun them. (You occasionally see dwarves who’ve returned from these suicide missions living on the edge of dwarf society, surviving off whatever scraps they can get. A lot of them become adventurers.)

10 – They’re buying an army. A few years ago, dwarf recruiters popped up in every town for miles around, offering pay and free training to join their militia. A lot of the region is now informally policed by dwarf-led soldiers, which has both upsides and downsides; and they’re gearing up for something big, too. Rumour has it they’re rebels, kicked out of the overly-conservative dwarf holds to the west, and they’re massing an army of Tall People for a single decisive assault.

Remnants is a series where Chris and Grant, the creative leads behind Rowan, Rook & Decard, create a fantasy world through the use of Dx tables. Because who has time to read a full setting book?

[REMNANTS] Once upon a time, when the dragon-kings ruled the aetherealms and the Witch-Queens fought grand duels over generations with arcana of unimaginable power, the worlds split apart. There was too much magic, and reality couldn’t bear the weight any longer. The otherworlds splintered apart like ships crashing against a shoreline; but the pieces remained, shards of reality, and they pierced the material realm. A thousand dimensions, all attached to various degrees, to the prime material: some forgotten, some overrun with new inhabitants, some spawning monstrous creatures into the world, and some ripe for plundering.

 

Photo by Tanya Hart on Flickr

Hearty Dice Friends Episode 43 – 2017 Christravaganza Pt 1

Ho ho ho! It’s one half of our Christmas special, brought to you by this week’s sponsors: Turkey and Little Baby Jesus. In this week’s episode:

– How would you improve Christmas?
– Which of the 12 Days of Christmas makes the hardest encounter?
– How would you turn the Nativity into a horror adventure?
– Also some bollocks that isn’t Christmas-themed we guess

Much love. If you want to get us presents, the thing we always want is bourbon.

– Chris(tmas) and The Grinch

If you like this, then you can subscribe to us wherever you get podcasts from or support Hearty Dice Friends through our Patreon. Or: tell a friend about us!