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 these goblins?

credit: Hammermancer image by Iguanamouth

1 They worship seagulls, after being caught at sea on a particularly treacherous voyage, and view them as pecky angels. The worship is not at all mutual and many of the dropping-caked goblins are blind in one or more eyes.

2 They love explosions. They were raised in a mine, turfed out by expansionist dwarves, and now they roam the countryside with a cartload of stolen dynamite and a grudge to settle. (They can hurl mining explosives, dealing moderate area damage, and they defend their cart with terrifying, chew-through-your-ankles zeal.)

3 They killed a first-level adventuring party, and have therefore levelled up. One of them is convinced he’s a cleric, another a wizard, a third a rogue, and so on. They all wear armour that’s far too big for them, but they can fight better than the average goblin.

4 They feed off insults thanks to an old fey pact. They’ll try to get people to swear at them or toss garbage their way, at which point they gain a handful of temporary hitpoints and maybe a bonus to hit for a round or two. To encourage insults, they dress as offensively as possible and like throwing turds at people.

5 They live inside a giant beehive full of giant bees, and they serve the queen. They paint themselves yellow and black in an attempt to fit in; this may or not not just be part of a ruse to steal some giant honey.

6 They’re not a joke; they’re anti-dwarf tunnel-fighters, trained to make improvised traps and lay ambushes. Their kind can see in total darkness, and they all inflict sneak attack damage as though they were rogues. (They’ll run like hell away from a fight, too, if it looks like they can’t win. Tracking them down is half the battle.)

7 A necromancer wove spells of undeath over the wrong graveyard, so now they’re skeletal goblins. Not much else has changed about them; they retain their mischievous nature, and often enjoy swapping heads or playing each other like xylophones as a gag.

8 They’re not interested in fighting, and are on a sort of fund-raising mission to get enough copper pieces to repair their dungeon roof, which has been leaking something awful. They’re doing okay so far, but they need a solid donation to ensure they can stay homed through winter.

9 They made off with a sizeable portion of a dragon’s hoard and are living like kings – and they’re clad in stolen magic armour that makes them hard to kill. They’re not the real threat, though, because the dragon can smell stolen gold, and she’s coming to get it back.

10 Devoid of morals and finding it easy to sneak up on people, the goblins have set up a sort of protection racket in the village; the inhabitants leave out food and drink for them on their back steps at night, and in exchange, the goblins keep them safe from low-level threats and non-goblin burglary. They’re not doing too bad a job of it, either.

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.