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.

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

Who are they, and why are they coming after you?

Header image by Transformer18 on FLickr

1 – They claim to be angels; they’re all platinum blonde, regardless of skin tone, and they move in a way that suggests they’re actually six-winged flaming chariot-people stuffed into unconvincing human suits. They’re trying to pre-rapture you. They say you’ve been really good, and He wants to speak to you right away.

2 – They say that they’re your parents, which is weird because both of your parents died when you were a kid. They need… organs. A kidney, to be precise. Your mum in particular seems really upset about the situation, but not enough to not strap you down to the kitchen table and whip out your innards.

3 – They wear grey suits and all have the same haircut and say they’re from the government – when they speak at all, which is rare. They want to take the chip out of your head (they put it there) so they can download the information you uploaded to it and “back you up” in case you die like the previous versions of you did. In a way, they’re your guardian angels; in another way, there’s thirteen X’s tattooed on your left wrist, but you can only see it out of the corner of your eye.

4 – They’re demons. Normal folk can’t tell, but you can see that they’re sporting angular metal horns and leaving smouldering footprints in front of themselves when they walk, which is disconcerting. Anyway, they’ve got an award for you – you’ve brought so much pain and sadness into the world that the devil wanted to personally thank you for making his job easier. You’re no saint, but you didn’t think you’d been this bad; what’s going on?

5 – They’re a fey hunting party, loaded up on dodgy whizz they found in the bathrooms near the fountain of youth, and they’ve stolen taxis, bikes, trucks and One Actual Horse to chase you down. They want you because you’re beautiful, and you’re inventive, and you look good when you run away. So: try and be boring, and ugly, in your escape.

6 – The Machines have determined that you are the most average, basic, generic human available, and they have decided to study your fascinatingly dull life in minute detail.

7 – Everyone is after you; you’re a prophesied actor in several conspiracies, but no-one’s quite sure what you’re going to do or when you’re going to do it. So: people are watching your every move, and going through your bins, and strangling each other in back alleys for looking at you the wrong way.

8 – They’re all terribly sick, or they’re working for terribly sick people. They say that you have sacred blood, and it can heal them (or they have a more scientifically-sound explanation) – and, weirdly enough, they’re right. Your blood heals the sick and brings the dead to life, but only when it’s outside of your body, which is a problem.

9 – They’re the agents of a witch. She’s seen what you can do (or sees potential in you), and sends her minions after you with messages and trials. A magpie drops a note in your soup saying that three of the people in this cafe are hellbeasts, and you have to kill at least one of them before it gets cold. A blind woman stumbles into you in the street and tells you to leave your window open tonight unless you want it broken. Underpass graffiti shifts and warps into a Bayeux Tapestry-style depiction of your life, including parts of it you haven’t lived yet.

10 – They’re freelance ghost hunters, and they say you’re a ghost, and they need to put you to rest. As far as you’re aware, you’re living a pretty normal life, so you’d rather not be “put to rest.” (Except: are you a ghost? How would you know? And what do they stand to earn by telling you, if you aren’t?)

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.