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 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

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 under the church?

1 – Another church. Older, for a different religion; lots of crows, tapestries of a great and terrible crown. Roll again on this table to see what’s under this one.

2 – A roiling mass of worms. You can’t tell how far down they go, or what they’re surviving on down there. The door slams shut behind you.

3 – An underground cave system. Mostly it’s flooded, but the one dry-ish tunnel leads to the basement of a brothel in town.

4 – A forgotten library. It’s got the original religious texts of the church above it in there, but it seems like no-one knows it’s here. This would be an excellent opportunity to set yourself up in a prophecy of your own invention, if you’ve got a pen to hand.

5 – The anti-church. Built by a sect of True Neutral monks, this anti-church dwells beneath the above church and espouses completely different values for the sake of balance.

6 – A vault containing contraband treasure. Looks like it’s stamped with the insignia of the evil overlord who was cast down from his throne of blood thirty years ago. They (or anyone else who picked it up) would have a hell of a time shifting this. Why do they have it, anyway?

7 – A labyrinth, made out of repurposed wood. It’s filled with half-starving feral boars and the scant remains of the last people who came down here.

8 – A portal to heaven. At least: they reckon it’s a portal to heaven. It’s definitely a portal. The priests here are rapturing people from the local community after deeming them worthy of entrance into the great eternal. (God knows where it really goes, though. Would be a laugh if it actually was heaven, eh.)

9 – An enormous chasm, going way, way down. You can hear music – bells, flutes, pipes etc – and cackling coming from the bottom.

10 – A dark void. A magic hole in space and time, a portal to the elemental plane of No. The church was built on it to contain it, but their wards are failing, and now it’s only a couple of feet beneath the main altar.

11 – A vampire. Leave him alone! He’s trying to sleep.

12 – A suspicious quantity of arms and armour. Good stuff, too. Non-magical (aside from a handful of potions) but it’s of strong make, and there’s enough here to outfit a squad to do some serious work. Which is odd, because it’s hidden beneath a godsdamned church.

13 – A prison. They put sinners here. Sometimes they put food here. The town is calm and peaceful and crime-free, and they like it that way, so no-one asks too many questions about the black-masked priests who walk the streets at night and drag away the undesirables.

14 – A wizard’s tower. You’d think it’d be the wrong way up, but there’s a sky under here and everything; the tower is on a promontory overlooking a wild sea, and you can see something huge shifting under the waves. Wizard’s a bit of a weirdo; she says she’s studying the air currents here, and refuses to believe that there’s a church in her basement.

15 – Catacombs. But: round here, while you’re in mourning, you go and live with the dead under the church. Some folks never come out of mourning. There are about thirty people down there at any given time, and at the end of a funeral, family members are escorted down into the depths with the body.

16 – The same church, but last week. It’s one of the weird sharding effects of the cataclysm; the church is underneath itself, inverted, but the one underneath is a week in the past. As long as you visit the church once a week and stay on good terms with the vicar(s), you can effectively cheat death so long as you don’t mind getting kidnapped by your mates from the future every now and again.

17 – A hospital. The staff here are trying to hide the fact that there’s an outbreak of plague in the area; if it gets out, the panic would be impossible to handle. Their beds are filling up, and they’re on the verge of uncovering a cure, but time is not on their side.

18 – An opium den. None of the priests are actually priests; they’re drug dealers, and most of the town is in on it. They run a pretty solid operation, and don’t care about killing people who shove their noses in where they don’t belong.

19 – An orcish invasion. They’re tunnelling in from their world of darkness and fire and hate, and they’re hungry to see the light and feast on the pleasures of the surface world. You find evidence of an orc camp in the cellar, and then hear the unmistakable sound of iron-shod boots clattering against flagstones.

20 – Cogs from the machine that keeps the world turning. They creak and click at an incredibly slow rate, and beneath you, the sound of vast cthonic rumbling hints at something far larger beneath you. This is a maintenance access panel, but: do you really want to go exploring down here?


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 fly on Flickr

What are you a cleric or paladin of?

1 – Justice. And not the wishy-washy, platemail-clad shining sword shite that the other paladins talk about – actual, legal, by-the-book justice. You have an encyclopedic knowledge of the laws of the land, which is backed up by several actual encyclopedias that you carry on your back out of devotional respect. You are a lawyer, first and foremost, and you’ve let more than one “evil” necromancer go because they haven’t done anything wrong. (That said, you got that dragon on charges of livestock theft, and he’s still in jail, so.)

2 – Rocks. Can’t go wrong with a good rock. When everything is confusing and your adventuring companions descend into arguments, you focus yourself on the zen heaviness of rocks. Rocks know what’s what. You lift them a lot, to understand that heaviness better, so you’re pretty strong too. Mountains are kind of like gods to you, but the sort of gods you can climb and have a picnic on.

3 – Wayfaring. Your order used to possess the secrets of interplanar travel, and your ancestors would protect the barriers between worlds. But: that all collapsed, and now you’re a gang of dispersed guides, bodyguards and travellers who aid passage through the unstable and forgotten routes to the otherworlds that crashed into the prime material.

4 – Goblins. Due to a misspelling of “goblet” in your sacred tome, you are part of a sect that reveres goblins as the true vessels of the divine. So adaptable are goblins! So eager to spawn, so ingenious! Everywhere you look, there’s a goblin, and it’s showing you its arse! You find goblins fascinating, and your search for the goblin used to hold the blood of your god continues apace.

5 – A family line. The Von Helsbrecht family are, as far as you’re concerned, gods on earth; hundreds of years ago, they ruled this land as benevolent dictators. After a series of brutal and bloody wars, the family were dethroned and the members exiled or executed. You still draw holy power from their divine right to rule, and you are on a mission to track down the surviving members – however watered-down their blood might be, and whatever sort of wastrels they’ve become (some of them are even adventurers) – then help them take over the country again.

6 – A bound demon of world-shaking power. Your order bound a demon the likes of which the world had never seen and trapped it in a vault of ivory-white stone, far beneath the city streets. The thing has such vast power that you and your allies can tap into it to cast magic spells and summon miracles – though they all have a hellish edge to them, and you’re often mistaken for dark magicians yourselves even though your cause is a righteous one. So long as the demon doesn’t ever break out and come to track you down and kill you, or send agents against you to do the same, you’ll be fine.

7 – A genius loci. There’s a hill, or a lake, or a mine, or some other large natural feature near you that has a god in it. (Maybe it landed there during the sundering; maybe it’s always been there.) You worship it, and protect the lands around it, and it grants you power in exchange. Now, as you go out on adventures with your companions, you are gifted with some token of the place – a glowing seed from the great tree, a crystal vial of water from the lake, stone chipped from the temple’s inner sanctum – and instructed to plant it elsewhere, and tend to it, to make new genius loci across the land.

8 – The People. You fight for the little guy, and not because some god tells you to; you do it because you need to help each other out. You’re at the forefront of demonstrations, you organise aid handouts for the poor and needy, and you kick the tar out of corrupt police officers. (And, sometimes, non-corrupt police officers, because they’re part of a corrupt system.) You draw power from the roar of crowds, the heartbeat of nations, and you march at their head with bloody banners held high.

9 – The Door. They call it the Heaven Door or God’s Door or just The Door, and it appears wherever humans are in place of other doors. It leads to a great and powerful kingdom beyond our own, and you have devoted your life to tracking it down wherever it manifests and killing the things that come out of it.

10 – The song that ends the earth. You know the truth – that the world is being sung into being by a mad god, and when the song is complete the world will end. Your order taught you some tiny fragments of the song that you can use to change the world in small ways, but your primary goal is to counteract the end of the world; either by continuing the god’s song, by building wind-powered instruments on mountaintops, or confusing the cosmic melody by laying down anharmonic discordances and tricking the god into starting again from the top of the verse.


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.

Cover image by Bit Boy on Flickr

What are these dwarves doing?

1 – They’re all getting married to each other, simultaneously. (Dwarf marriage is strange.) They need to find wedding dresses, traditional beard cosies (it’s winter) and wedding gifts for one another. Oh, and the roasted corpse of some giant subterranean beast for the reception, like their mothers and fathers had.

2 – They’re creating a fake gold rush, having purchased some hostels and camp-sites near the local mountains (and converting their ancestral home into a range of affordable B&Bs); they rock up to bars, engage in dwarven stereotypes and yell “drunkenly” about all the gold that’s up in them thar hills, and then clean up when chumps come to explore the area for treasure. The non-dwarves are digging without respect for proper tradition, and therefore are unearthing all sorts of nightmarish things from underneath the mountains: drow empires, fungal lords, liquid infectious darkness and animate curses.

3 – They’re refugees from a lost dwarven kingdom that was too far beneath the surface of the world (and too protected by ancient magic) to survive the cataclysm that sheared the multiverse away from the prime material. They’re looking for help to build an enormous vessel to get back, and for stout folk to crew it.

4 – They’re poets. Dwarven poetry, like all good things, is hewn from rocks and refined by skilled artisans; it’s powerful stuff, and they recommend that you don’t read it if you’re pregnant or looking to become pregnant in the near future.

5 – It’s a dwarven feast day, and as heroes of the town, you’ve been invited! (If you’re not heroes, assume it’s a case of mistaken identity.) Can you survive a dwarven feast? Better men than you have tried and failed, and the dwarves don’t consider a party a success unless someone dies from eating too much butter. To them, it’s as honourable as dying in battle – but a lot more comfortable, at least until the end.

6 – One of their number is gravely ill, and has got the idea into her head that she can replace her malfunctioning meat parts with metal cogs, springs and sprockets. It’s a common dwarven delusion, and her friends are doing their best to stop her as she’s just making herself worse, but she keeps doing it.

7 – They’re selling fairy-tales – or fairy-tale experiences, anyway. They have all the illusion spells and a wide stable of trained actors on hand, and they can transport you to a world of whimsy and excitement for a modest fee. Ever wanted to meet the Prince of your dreams at a ball at midnight, only to have your carriage turn into a pumpkin? They can do that. Also, for not-so-modest fee, they offer to inflict fairy-tales on other people; not the nice ones, either.

8 – They’re selling moody cigarettes by the case, claiming that they’ve found a secret door to the Interdimensional Plane of Smoke. The markings on the packets are weird (ever heard of Fiddler’s Heel brand cigarettes? Or Bletchley-Harringdons? Or seen warnings that smoking damages your second heart, or endangers your alternate selves?) and they taste… well, they taste like moody cigarettes that’ve been dropped in a river and dried out on a washing line round the back of the pub. But they’re cheap, and the dwarves say they can sort you out with some cheap wine, too, if you’re willing to help them escort it out of the dangerous coastal region of Kahlay.

9 – They’re holding a funeral; a unit of thirty of them, grizzled veterans all, are heading off in the morning to attempt to liberate a lost hold from kobolds. Given the dangerous nature of the mission, the clan is holding their funerals before they go; even if they return, they’ll be legally dead, and the other dwarves will shun them. (You occasionally see dwarves who’ve returned from these suicide missions living on the edge of dwarf society, surviving off whatever scraps they can get. A lot of them become adventurers.)

10 – They’re buying an army. A few years ago, dwarf recruiters popped up in every town for miles around, offering pay and free training to join their militia. A lot of the region is now informally policed by dwarf-led soldiers, which has both upsides and downsides; and they’re gearing up for something big, too. Rumour has it they’re rebels, kicked out of the overly-conservative dwarf holds to the west, and they’re massing an army of Tall People for a single decisive assault.

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 Tanya Hart 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

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

What’s at the bottom of this well?

1 – The top of the other well. We don’t talk to the folk down there – they’re strange. Sometimes music leaks up, so plug your ears with wax when you go to collect water during a solstice, else you’ll be drawn down beneath.

2 – A very stuck dragon. We couldn’t get him out. He’s clearly embarrassed about it. Throw him a copper – he says he’ll tell you your future if you do, but he clearly can’t. Problem is: the older a dragon gets, the bigger it gets, and he’s starting to buckle the ground around the well.

3 – A Sphere of Annihilation. It’s like a garbage disposal, but you don’t need to worry about putting a fork in it, because it’ll destroy that too. A wizard put it here (of course it was a wizard) after plucking it from the Elemental Plane of No, and after burying it didn’t work (it annihilated the dirt and the shovels) they just built higher and higher walls around it.

4 – A branching myconid (fungus-folk) colony which is infecting people with waterborne spores. They have dire news from the Land Beneath and are trying to make an ambassador that has a human mouth, but it’s going really wrong.

5 – During the day, nothing but water and the occasional frog. At night: a lank-haired witch-thing, skittering about on bent and broken limbs, who steals livestock and drags the bodies, still kicking, back down the well to feed. The villagers are working out whether it’s best to keep placating her or try to stop her nightly rampages.

6 – Gold coins. Loads of them; they’re covered in grime, but you can see the glint of something valuable down there. Now, the whole village around it is abandoned, but presumably that’s got nothing to do with it. (Of course: it’s not gold coins. Well. It is gold coins, stuck to the camouflaged shell of something between a wyrm and a squid, designed to lure in careless treasure-hunters.)

7 – It’s not a well: it’s a chimney from a waterlogged dwarven forge that got stuck down there when the multiverse imploded. Springs and tiny cogs keep coming up along with the water.

8 – Goblins, filling the buckets with water, presumably as part of a ruse.

9 – The corpse of a unicorn. Its horn and bones are turning all the water to low-grade healing potions, making this village the healthiest one for miles around.

10 – Gin. A wizard magicked it this one time for a party and never changed it back, making this village one of the least healthy for miles around.

11 – An adventure! There’s a guy down there, all covered in robes and stuff, and he says that the well conceals a portal to the land of the dead. If you can survive the seven trials and challenges ahead, you can rescue lost souls from the underworld. (Sounds like a ruse? About one in four people in the village claim to have been rescued from down there. But maybe they’re lying, too.)

12 – Clouds. And, beneath them, a desert of bone-white sands and endless black skies, where hungry ghosts trade coins from a damned kingdom for blood, and tattered madmen lead packs of semi-intelligent dogs to raid ruined libraries.


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.