What minor pocket dimension have we stumbled into?

1 – First, you need to find a tree that’s stood for more than a century; then it has to get struck by lightning, and die. Then you have to crawl down inside the rotted-out trunk of it, into the ground, and eventually (pray it’s a short trip) you’ll emerge into the garden. There isn’t a name for it, really; no-one really knows it exists, and for some reason there’s a cult of one-eyed priests who are going around and uprooting every lightning-struck tree they can find. The dimension itself is a small rooftop garden, and storm clouds roll overhead, and the air is heavy with the threat of a storm that never comes. But at least it’s quiet.

2 –It’s where cats go. You know, at night? It’s a mix of rooftops, linen closets, the bins out the back of taverns, and blankets. All the ceilings are too low, the stars are blurry and indistinct, and it smells like cat piss.

3 – It used to be a well-maintained graveyard, but it fell into disrepair a long time ago; you don’t think that dimensions can be “hungry,” as it were, but it’s as though it doesn’t want you to leave. The longer you stay here, the more of your vitality drains away, and your colour, and you begin to feel like laying down in one of the (suspiciously) open graves and going to sleep.

4 – You know when you’re drunk – like, really drunk, can’t-find-your-shoes-drunk – and you wake up at home? This is the dimension you use to get there. It’s a universal shortcut, but you can only use it when you’re blackout drunk, so. If you took notice of your surroundings – which you can’t do, you’re too busy throwing up in an alley – you’d notice a cadre of wine-making monks who have set up their monastery here, and who are all several drinks in all the time.

5 – Look, we’re not here to judge you, but: you went to a peep show. We’re sure you’ve got your reasons. But when the partition rolled back, you saw into a different pocket dimension, instead of the dancing sex worker you paid for. Turns out the place is its own shard of reality – in the back, at least – and you can use it to spy on people (or… cats) in other ones. This could be tremendously valuable in the right hands, but at the moment those hands are busy with other things.

6 – It’s a library; you fell asleep face-down on a pile of books, and woke up here. All the pages and covers are blank and it’s utterly, terrifyingly, silent. Your heartbeat begins to deafen you, and you can hear the high-pitched buzz of your central nervous system.

7 – He paints landscape scenes, and he’s very good at it. So good, in fact, that people wishing for sanctuary – usually when they’re running away from something – stumble into these peaceful, tranquil skylines and city-scapes. At the edge of the space there’s a rough pane of glass, which looks out of the painting and into his studio, so you can talk to him if you want. He doesn’t seem inclined to let you out; it’s as though capturing people was his aim all along.

8 – There’s a Screen Omega at this cinema, and you can get into it, if you know how to ask. You don’t recognise any of the films playing here – they’re all one step away from familiar, featuring people who look a little like the stars of yesteryear, and they’re all in black and white. Some of them are in languages you can nearly recognise. Anyway; the rules of cinema, not the real world, apply here. Walk in with a gunshot wound and you can heal it with a bandage and a montage. (Alternatively: walk in with a nasty cough and it’ll develop into full-blown tuberculosis by the end of the film, so be careful.)

9 – There’s a reason you don’t talk to people on the bus – they aren’t people. Every single bus is part of a mass hallucination, and there’s only one interdimensional space that we use to transport between locations; the bus is just a way to let your mind handle it. Why do you think they don’t let you off if it’s not at a stop? You’d be torn to shreds by transdimensional parasites.

10 – Someone built this place – it was a Sorcerer-King’s mind palace, they say, back when you had Sorcerer-Kings – and since then, every Tom, Dick and Harry with a stepping sideways spell has been through here and lifted everything of value. All the majestic tapestries have long since been ripped off the walls and sold; all the devious traps have been triggered, or rusted into inaction, or been deactivated and stripped for copper; even the walls themselves have been chipped away at, the shards of mind-stone sold for a few quid, leaving the place barren, empty, and draughty.


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 Eelke on Flickr

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 these elves?

1. They’re feral, like all elves are until the age of 100 or so. Up until that point they dwell in the forests in caves, or improvised lean-tos; they hunt with their nails and teeth, leaping out of trees and tearing the throats out of deer. At the end of their first century, they undergo a sort of awakening and become the book-reading, spell-casting, dress-wearing elves you’re used to, staggering away from their latest kill and naked, stinking cave-mate in abject horror.

2. They’re plants. They photosynthesise, which is why you never see them eat, and instead they sleep with their feet buried in soft earth. (They extend little roots down there to suck up moisture and nutrients; it’s gross.)

3. They were created by True Elves many years ago (hundreds? Thousands?) and, even though their towering and alien makers have died, the elves continue to function. They are complex machines of stolen bone and ultrafine metal wires, kept taught and wound up nightly to power their bodies; they cannot breed, but they can make inferior copies of themselves in turn, and those copies can do the same, and so on; like worn-out photocopies, badly-sculpted and malfunctioning elves populate the poorer places of the world.

4. They come from painted worlds; in works of fine art, occasionally an elf will appear in the background, and slowly move forward in the frame, and then one day they’ll emerge. (This destroys the painting, or rather, turns it into an elf, so collectors are generally against it.) They seem to be able to find each other once they emerge, and they’ve formed a culture.

5. There’s only three of them. When one dies, another one is born. Or: arrives. Anyway, there are minimum three and maximum three elves at any one time, and they all work in concert.

6. They only exist in moonlight. Or they’re only visible in moonlight, which makes more sense, but they tell you they don’t exist if the moon isn’t shining on them. There are various folk stories about moon elves stalking unwelcome hunters through the forests, only visible as strobing images.

7. They aren’t born; they happen. All elves start off as beautiful, famous humans – as big as celebrities can get in fantasy worlds – and as more stories are written of their exploits, and portraits commissioned of their visages, the adoration poured upon them physically changes them. They grow taller, thinner, more cruel.

8. They’re all drunk, all the time. You wouldn’t really be able to tell unless you knew; but when an elf sobers up, their refined mannerisms and graceful movements become even more refined and graceful, turning them into alien creatures who are largely impossible to communicate with outside of a sort of high-pitched vibration they use instead of speech. They drink to bring themselves down to our level, which is kind of them, even if it doesn’t really work.

9. They’re hollow vessels for ghosts. Generally, an elf will be filled the spirit of an ancestor when they come of age so their elders can continue to advise on courtly happenings; when the body dies, the ghost takes over and carries on. That’s why elves live so long: most of them are already dead.

10. They eat gold. Or: anything that’s expensive, because they derive nutrition from value. Gold is the easiest way to do it, but it doesn’t taste of much, so when an elf wants to treat themselves they’ll eat gems, crowns, phylacteries, oil paintings, etc. They don’t pass solid waste; they just absorb everything they eat. (Wizards reckon this is out of reasons of politeness, and also because it could be quite painful to shit out a crown).


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 Angie Trenz on Flickr

WHAT DOES THIS UNICORN WANT?

1 – Elf flesh. Its horn functions as an always-on Hand of Glory, which immobilises any elf who looks at it because it’s so beautiful. Then the unicorn eats them. But it hasn’t evolved canine teeth yet, so it takes a while, and they’re alive for most of it.

2 – It’s an emissary from the forest people, and they are demanding that the two most beautiful people come back with it to the deep woods to be their king and queen. Some people are jumping at the chance to grab at what they see as easy power, but the elders of the village understand all too well the terrible price that such a position holds.

3 – To retire and live fat and lazy with the indulgent wizard recluse who lives at the top of the village. But it needs to get an audience with her, first.

4 – To hunt people: despoilers of the forest who have burned the trees and poisoned the earth, that are hiding out in the village. It has sworn an oath to destroy them, no matter the cost. Are they performing dark rites out there, or are they just trying to make a living off the land?

5 – Sanctuary from the band of horn-hunters that have been tracking it back from the forest; it’s injured, limping and bleeding. Later on, you learn that – while the horn hunters are black-hearted bastards – they’re doing it to make a curative potion that will save the life of someone important to the players if delivered in time.

6 – Protection for its young. The unicorn has a foal – a tremendously rare creature – and all sorts of organisations are coming to abduct or simply kill and harvest the horn off it, so it approaches the village begging for help. (Also: the foal is as smart as a seven-year-old, but much faster, and is eager to go off on adventures – even if you tell it not to.)

7 – Tithes. It stomps up on market day and demands tribute of gems, silk and labour to bedeck its forest kingdom in finery, and threatens reprisals from the wood-folk if its demands are not met. To prove its point, it summons a mighty oak that bursts through the ground and demolishes the central clock-tower.

8 – Cure light wounds potions. It got hooked on them – don’t ask how, it was running with an adventuring crew a few years back and things got out of hand. Its body is a weird mix of swollen flesh from gout-like side-effects and bulging muscles from the excess Positive Energy, and it has precisely zero patience left. Using trickery, ambush, robbery or begging, it’ll track down a fix.

9 – To escape the dominion of the Dryad Queen who rules the forest; it wants to leave and meet more unicorns (or maybe some young men and women, for strictly platonic arrangements) but the Queen demands that it stays to bolster the forest’s ecosystem. Can you talk to the Queen on its behalf? Or… deal with her in some other way?

10 – To cover up the fact that it got a talking horse pregnant when it was on holiday in a nearby village, and now she’s asking for child support, except she’s a horse so doesn’t really understand the concept? Anyway, deal with the mother and the kid, put them up somewhere nice and make sure that the elves who pay the unicorn’s wages don’t find out about it.

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 Jenny Brown on Flickr

Which Fey Court is involved in this?

Header image by Anton Novoselov on Flickr

1 – THE CONCRETE COURT. Who are in charge; who rule the high-rises, whose eyes are television, whose hair is a thousand flowing telephone wires, whose breath is choking exhaust, whose pulse is the thrum of traffic and the drone of air-con units, who are brilliant and terrible in their smog-caked majesty. They are of the City and they are the City, and they hold themselves with the bone-deep understanding that this is an unchangeable, self-evident truth. (Until it changes, of course.)

2 – THE COURT OF SPILLED WINE. Who coalesce at the end of a grimy party, summoned like foul spectres from the bottom of bottles and emerging blind-drunk and bloody from back alleys; drunks, louts, and vicious bastards the lot of them. It is generally accepted amongst fey society that, once the Court of Spilled Wine shows up to a party, the best is already over and it will soon be time to leave.

3 – THE COURT OF WAYS. Our Lady of the Underground was cast out of the Concrete Court after a failed takeover, and she dwells beneath the City in the tunnels, the subways, the metro systems, where only the faintest echoes of the neon racket above bleed down to remind her of her failure. She has fashioned a court of rat-things and the souls of trains, a cobbletogether fake, but they do her bidding – she is consumed with the idea of returning to the City above once more, and she is the ruler of ways, paths, portals and tunnels within the dark places of the under-city.

4 – THE COURT OF KNIVES. Who are the lords of division and separation. The Knives are obsessed with boundaries, streets, gates, walls – they have a keen sense of “inside” and “outside,” and can smell who is in charge of a given area if the wind blows in the right direction. They are uniquely fey in as much as they don’t do anything – they just love boundaries. Sometimes they stab people who disrespect them, but it’s not like they’re anything so gauche as guards. They’re just enthusiasts.

5 – THE LORDS MOTLEY. Who are a loose selection of gutter-born half-fey who huddle together for warmth in the cold depths of the City; cannibal elflings, ronin Knights from fallen courts, refugees from lost cities and abandoned timelines. They are desperate to hold onto any advantage they can get, but that desperation – and the lack of a proper leader – makes them easy to manipulate.

6 – THE DEVILS OF ABERNETHY STREET. Who make contracts with mortals in exchange for drugs, but only the inexperienced ones. The Devils can give you whatever it is you wish – in exchange for whatever they ask in return – and they can serve up brief happiness in whatever form they choose. There are many whose happy suburban families are mere illusions, patchwork things conjured up by the Devils, and who will turn back to old newsprint and cardboard boxes should the luckless fool not hold up their end of the bargain.

7 – THE FOREST QUEEN. Who, once upon a time, ruled this place when the trees stretched from horizon to horizon, when the dark, and not the light, was the real power. She is a withered old thing (although: she cannot die, not as we would know it) with pot-plant dryads and tired-eyed agent Knights who have been ensorcelled and mind-wiped hundreds upon hundreds of times, neither of which are enough to do her bidding with any efficiency.

8 – THE COURT OF RAIN. Who were the Court of Snow, long ago, and lived in great palaces of ice and frost when the city froze over in winter. Now: they are dreary, wet things the colour of rain-soaked concrete, hungry to recapture their past glories; they trade curious imports with humans for refrigeration units and walk-in freezers where they make their homes, and are hesitant to leave them, for in the humid modern City they will quickly melt from shimmering majesty back into their drab, lank selves.

9 – THE COUNTING COURT. Who are ghostly and pale collective of buttoned-down fey in masks and gloves (or – who have masks and gloves instead of faces and hands, it’s not quite clear) who, thousands of years ago, acquired the contract that allows vampires to sustain themselves with nothing but blood and thus gain eternal life. (Or: whatever it is this vampire takes, instead of blood.) They are owed a sliver of power from each drop of blood that touches a vampire’s lips, and they collect it solemnly, blood-letting each vampire once a year with the sombre air of a mortician.

10 – THE COURT OF GLITTER. Who are ephemeral, and to be honest stupid, sprites and wisps who are drawn to the city by cheap drinks, sex, dancing and cocaine. They are barely sapient, and they are fond of living inside the fever-dreams of clubbers or the fantasies of young lovers, and honestly they tend to leave a mess whenever they manifest fully in the real world, but they’re a Court nonetheless, and are offered a seat at the triannual meet, even if they never show up to claim it.


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.