What’s different about these gnomes?

1 – Gnomes are what happens when you leave magic items unattended for long periods of time; they absorb information from around them, grow and become sentient, then sprout a pair of legs and wander off into the countryside to go live up a tree or down in a cave. To that end, it’s quite hard to keep hold of large quantities of magic items – if you don’t want your favourite axe to turn into a gnome, keep it by your side and take good care of it. Gnomes don’t have any particular universal physical traits, aside from their diminutive stature – they look a bit like the item they grew out of.

2 – They’re swamp witches; they live in wet ground and hang out with toads. Some of them marry the toads; others ride them as mounts, leaping stickily through the mud, grabbing people with long tongues and dragging them under the filthy water to drown. Careful examination of the toads has proven that they are the kind that secrete hallucinogenic grease, and may well be dominating the gnomes with some sort of innate mind-control spell.

3 – They’re all the avatars of deities. When they visit earth, gods assume the ideal form; turns out it’s gnomes. Weird.

4 – They build cities in strange places where life shouldn’t be able to survive: the frozen north, deep beneath the sea, in lava-spewing volcanoes, in mid-air, that sort of thing. They’re fiercely isolationist. Diplomats emerge once every few months to trade with the outside world; you hear tell that each gnomish city is a brutal totalitarian state devoted to keeping the outside out and the inside in.

5 – You remember how gran always said you were to eat your vegetables so you’ll grow up big and strong? She wasn’t wrong. If you don’t get a varied diet as a child, you’ll never grow past four feet tall, and you’ll become a gnome. Most gnomes live in the ghettos, marginalised for their stature; a few reach positions of responsibility or power, but it’s a rarity.

6 – They’re machines, but: they’re made of flesh, just like you and me. They’re part of some vast, complex, world-spanning computational engine designed to solve the problem of eternal life – the machine operates on a scale that neither we nor the gnomes can really comprehend. This explains why they like machines so much, why they seem a bit weird to outsiders, and why they snore in binary.

7 – A gnome is born every time someone swears at a piece of broken machinery; mechanics have a wide variety of replacement profanities to hand so they don’t end up having to take care of (or “take care of”) a small gaggle of gnomes that they’ve created.

8 – They’re beastmasters. They have an innate knack of getting animals to do what they want; gnomes will generally ride the biggest creature they can find and get it to eat the second biggest creature they can find for dinner. They’re absurdly good at it, too – elephant dressage is a popular gnomish sport in the flatlands.

9 – They can never set foot on land. Well, they can, but they instantly start to sprout roots and, within a minute or two, become horrid little tree-statues. As such, gnomes live their lives as sailors, pirates, river-traders or trees.

10 – Gnomes happen organically when you store too many books next to each other; they coalesce out of dust mites and torn pages until, before you know it, you’ve got twenty of the little buggers running around the stacks. They steal books and then hurl them into the river, laughing the whole time; no-one’s quite sure why. Seeing as they’re comprised out of knowledge, they know some weird things that they shouldn’t know, so you might be able to get something useful out of them. Or they’ll just piss on you and run away, one or the other.


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.

What’s weird about this flying castle?

1 – It’s powered by divine energy, rather than arcane, so the central structure is a huge chapel with a hundred-strong choir belting out devotional hymns around the clock. If they stop singing, the god who makes the thing fly will look away from it, and it’ll crash to the ground – or that’s what they believe, anyway. The place hasn’t been silent in over a hundred years.

2 – Goblins stole it, and they’re using it as a sort of skyborne pirate ship to raid cliffside towns all down the coast. They can’t steer it very well and keep bashing into things, so the external structure has sustained massive damage – it’s basically flying ruins at this point, tied together with stolen rope and steered with a massive, threadbare sail.

3 – It’s piloted by an order of do-gooding Paladins on a righteous quest – to rid the world of evil. “Ridding the world of evil” seems to consist of wearing flashy armour, investing their reclaimed treasure hoards in shady businesses, and getting in good and cosy with the rulers of the land by air-dropping in and solving all their problems at the point of a shimmering blade.

4 – The mountain underneath it crumbled away hundreds of years ago in a devastating rockslide, but the skeleton wizard who lives there has such almighty powers of solipsism that the castle never fell along with it. But: whenever he starts to doubt himself, the castle drops a few hundred feet – and the who built their village below it (in what seemed like a good idea at the time) are starting to get worried.

5 – It’s a loose door to the Elemental Plane of Dungeons, an MC Escher-like cryptogeometric maze fought over by five unstable alliances of monstrous humanoids. “Doors” like this one cruise all over the globe, following inscrutable patterns (Leylines? Solar energy? Dragons?) and, after a few years, crash hard into something. Eventually, the links to the elemental plane die off, and it’s just a normal subterranean megacomplex. Wizard-scientists believe that over twenty per cent of the world’s dungeons are naturally-occurring.

6 – It used to be a private zoo for the son of an obscenely wealthy noble, who would visit it on occasion and enjoy the oddities of the world laid before him. But: something went wrong. (Something always does.) Now the entire thing is overrun with dangerous creatures – some of them magical – and now he’s asking you to rescue some important documents of lineage he was keeping there for safe purposes. If you could do it before his father’s funeral next week, that’d be super.

7 – The entire thing is jam-packed with cats and almost nothing else alive; they line the streets, lick themselves on balconies, piss up abandoned library shelves, and survive on rats and the occasional pigeon. Legends tell of a cursed clan who lived there, and were turned to cats for their insatiable curiosity by some vengeful god, but you know what legends are like. Maybe the owner just really likes cats.

8 – It skips like a stone across the waters of the sea after being flung in the dim and distant past by a giant folk hero. (Giant folk stories pretty much all end with the antagonist being thrown into the sea, or at the very least a big hole. It’s tradition.) The guy was so strong that the castle is still moving in huge, predictable arcs to this day. Fishermen know to avoid certain spots in the ocean at certain times of the year.

9 – It’s held up by thousands of birds. They shit everywhere. It’s gross.

10 – Once upon a time, a wizard enchanted her castle to fly around the place. Then: she landed in town to get some turnips and opium, and some bastards stole it; but it was a modest castle (more of a shed, really), and there wasn’t enough room to accommodate everyone in the gang, so they built on top of it.

That was… twenty years ago? The original structure has long since been obscured by successive builds and rebuilds; the magical energies of the castle make even shoddy constructions unnaturally resilient. It now resembles a sort of curled-up hedgehog the size of a small village with wooden towers and gantries coming out of it in every direction; it is impossible to land the thing, and so the flying shanty town hovers around the plains of the world, its inhabitants trying to scrape out an existence as best they can.


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 Sean MacEntee on Flickr