How are you still alive?

1 – Duct tape and epoxy putty. You just stuck yourself together. Further examination of your body shows multiple patch-jobs concealed under your clothing – fishing-line stitches, sawdust and staples instead of organs, and so on. You are entirely unsure why you haven’t died yet, but it seems to be working.

2 – An angel with neon hair and bluescreen eyes came down from the skies above and brought you back to life with a binary whisper. Everybody saw it but no-one’s really… talking about it? Maybe they don’t want to admit that they think it’s real. On camera, it shows up as a blistering anomaly, or it just flat-out fries the hard-drive that the video records to, so it’s all eyewitness accounts and nothing else – unless you can get a polaroid of it.

3 – You’ve replaced most of your internal organs with car parts (specifically: parts from a 1977 Ford Thunderbird), which makes you almost invulnerable to harm. But not tearing.

4 – The bullet went right through you, and now sand is pouring out of the hole. Wait: not sand, gold-dust. Weird. Anyway, it’s running through your fingers, and passers-by are partially concerned and partially interested in stealing the stuff.

5 – You shudder, and add another ghost to the swarm that follow you around, then get up and walk away. You’re on twelve, now; two small ones from the same day when you went camping in the forest as a kid, one from heart disease, a couple of car accidents, and so on.

6 – You’re the God of Mirrors. The woman who shot you through the chest is face-down dead with a ragged exit wound in her back. You have a bet going with several noted deities that they can’t kill you, and are welcome to try, because you’re getting bored of being alive and interested to find out what’s next.

7 – Because you are the True King (or True Queen) and commoners cannot hurt you. You’ve only ever been hurt by those of noble blood, and the more noble blood they have in them, the easier it is for them to hurt you. You’re petrified that a royal family (from another country, not your country, because the royal family in your country are a bunch of charlatans) will find out and use it against you somehow.

8 – You’ve never once stepped on a crack in the pavement. (Ironically: your mum’s in a wheelchair.) Also, you avoid walking under ladders, turn around when you spot a black cat, never open umbrellas indoors, and so on. But honestly, it’s just the cracks that work.

9 – You flickered out of reality for a split-second, just when it would have hit you. It saved your life, but you went somewhere else for the duration (which felt like hours to you, even though no time passed at all as far as everyone else was concerned) and you come back reeking of spoiled milk and hot plastic. You can’t remember much about where you went; you’re not sure you want to.

10 – You’re soul-bound to your brother, and you have to die at the same time in the same way or it just doesn’t… take. Still hurts, though. Your brother’s been trying to kill you (and, by extension, himself) for the last three years. At the moment he’s in hospital following his last attempt.

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 Salva Graziano on Flickr

What kind of dragon is that?

1. Aluminium. The other dragons make fun of it because it’s weaker than they are; it has hollow metal bones, great feathered wings, and its maw is more beak than teeth. Instead of gouts of flame, it emits a stabbing jet of superheated air with an ear-splitting screech that can easily melt through steel. Its hollow bones are highly prized by collectors who use the super-light materials to make flying machines.

2. Trash. It comes from the elemental plane of Trash (which is where goblins are from) and it consists mostly of leftover junk, leaf matter and old rags. It smells awful, it has a terrible (if enthusiastic) sense of humour and it vomits up high-pressure streams of slurry about once every three hours, whether it wants to or not. There is no particular reason to go trash dragon hunting, other than to stop the smell.

3. Corvid. They hang out in cemeteries (or mass graves of their own creation) and collect bones, skulls, mementos mori and death cults; they are all in love with The Morrigan, a death goddess, who doesn’t really care for them. They build great piles of bones to try and draw her attention, and sing to her in the night, and it’s rumoured that once every twenty years or so she ascends from the underworld and takes one as a pet.

4. Hermit. They live in buildings, except; they pick the buildings up with their bodies and move around. Most of the ones you’ll see in the wild have stolen potting sheds or pagodas, and make do with shuffling around and keeping themselves to themselves. The really dangerous ones are big enough pick up seriously heavy buildings, like inns or churches, or that happen upon structures with some kind of resonance; you’ve heard tell that there’s one in the mountains who’s stuck in a wizard’s tower that he’s way too big for, but he’s unwilling to give up the spellcasting ability that it gives him.

5. Mouse. They’re pretty much the same as your standard common-or-garden fire-breathing sky reptile, but they’re the size of a mouse and they come in groups of about fifty or so. They’re not much of a problem, really, aside from a nasty little bite and the ability to set fire to your house from inside the walls. Some rich kids keep them as pets, which is how most infestations start.

6. Dust. Dragons don’t die of natural causes; they just get less and less vital over the centuries, and eventually shift into a sort of stuttering zoetrope half-existence. Dust dragons are the final stage of this process, and they’re almost all pathetic, sorrowful creatures, looking for a way to fix it. They leave dust wherever they walk, and breathe gouts of entropy over people who mess with them – equipment breaks, teeth fall out, vision falters and fades, and the truly unlucky just lay down and die.

7. Train. These ones don’t fly; they’re long, and they have an awful lot of stubby leg, and they stomp at speed across the flatlands, shovelling the topsoil into their mouth and sieving it for nutrients before ejecting it as dry dust through special gills. (The dust hangs in the air behind them, so you can usually tell they’re inbound and get out of the way.) Having few natural predators on account of their size, they’re content to charge around the highlands; several enterprising merchants have tried to use them as beasts of burden, but steering them has proved all but impossible.

8. Dream. There’s a special kind of opium that appeared on the market a few years ago, and everyone’s crazy for it; you take it, and you dream of a vast and mighty empire in which you are ruler, and scintillating, crystalline dragons fly above you in the skies. Here’s the deal: those dragons are real, except they can only exist in the dreams of people who take this opium. (It was a curse. You know curses.) Now, if enough people in one place dream of them at once, they can start to manifest in the real world.

9. Steel. Metallic dragons are naturally-occurring; these ones are alloyed, so they’re the result of careful interbreeding and genetic engineering at the hands of wizards. They’re smart, well-armoured, keen tacticians and, rather than use their breath glands to throw fire (or acid or frost or what have you) they can bellow their commands at a volume where they can be heard far across the battlefield. (Or: yell at you until you burst from sheer sonic pressure.) The other thing you need to know about steel dragons is that they all rebelled against the wizards about seventeen years ago, set up a feudal culture far to the north, and now they’re coming back with their own armies.

10. Ape. We don’t know how it happened. Wizards? Probably wizards. Anyway, what’s important now is: these things are the size of small houses, built like gorillas, and they can breathe fire but instead they tend to focus on punching things to death and then tearing them into pieces. Unlike normal dragons, these guys have a family-based social structure, so they’re in groups of ten or more and they’re stomping all over the city as we speak.

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 Michael Day on Flickr