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.

So: you broke up with a witch. How bad is this going to be?

1 – It’s fine, because they kept some of your hair, and made a copy of you that doesn’t complain or leave the cupboard doors in the kitchen open. So it’s fine. It’s all fine. It doesn’t want to hunt you down and eat you or anything; and even if it did, that wouldn’t make it more powerful, or more “complete.” So go to sleep.

2 – You figured it was amicable, but when you went for a piss this morning, there was blood in it. And, eventually, painfully: thorns. So: that’s a problem, and they’re not answering their phone when you ring them to try and figure out what’s happening.

3 – They turn up at your house the next day with no knowledge of what happened; turns out you broke up with one of the meat-puppet doubles they employ to get shit done, and they’ve got no knowledge of it. They (or… the meat-puppet, you suppose) seemed really upset, and stormed out of the cafe after the break-up, and they can’t contact it any more. They need your help getting it back.

4 – They trap you hexwise in the day of the break-up, forcing you to re-live it over and over again until you get it right. Unfortunately, you haven’t a goddamn clue what “right” is, because not breaking up doesn’t seem to fix it. You’re on loop thirteen now and you’re starting to come unhinged.

5 – They transform into a cat, sneak into your house, and kill your pets. At least: you think it was them.

6 – Everyone in town starts looking at you funny. Pretty soon, your friends stop responding to your messages; even your mum makes an excuse and hangs up on you. The next week, your face is in the papers: everyone seems to recognise you as someone who masturbates in public parks. And: you don’t, just to be clear. It just seems that everyone else believes you do.

7 – You didn’t break up with them; they broke up with you, and to soften the blow, they cast a spell over you to make you believe you triggered the split. It’s just kinder this way. Which makes you wonder: what other memories from your time together are false?

8 – It’s amicable; you both realise you need different things, that you’re different people, and you kiss one last time before saying goodbye and walking away. Except: you were never going out with them in the first place. The whole relationship was just a spell, a potion you drank several months ago – a hallucinatory whirlwind romance with the partner of your dreams, who also happens to be the witch who brewed the concoction – and now it’s worn off, you wake up with a crushing hangover and a heartbreak to match as reality sets in. Can you survive without another dose?

9 – They sigh, and nod, and transform you back into your original form: their raven familiar. Except unlike the previous transformations (you assume) you’ve retained your human intelligence and memories, and now things are kind of weird when they ask you to help out with spells or bring other lovers back to their lair.

10 – They’re furious, and summon a great curse upon you; the sky darkens, the winds howl, lightning and hail smash into the ground and rivers break their banks and overflow. People are in serious danger should this continue; do you really want to go through with it?

Header image by Allan Wan on Flickr

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.

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.

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.