Illustration by Rollin Kunz
Adventure Calendar is a series of 25 winter-themed random tables that mesh together to build an evolving setting and campaign for your favourite fantasy RPG, whatever that might be. You can learn more about the project and find the full list of published tables here.
Your party doesn’t necessarily need to have a reason to hang out together and go on adventures – but in case they do, or you want to cement them more into the setting, here are some group concepts you can choose or roll randomly to help them get going.
1: ADVENTURERS’ UNION REPRESENTATIVES. After several exploitative laws were passed governing the distribution of salvage and bounty in Salen, the Barbarian/Lawyer Kazadrach the Well-Read gathered the disparate adventurers, tomb-robbers and mercenaries into a viable political force. The Adventurer’s Union has argued down the Barony to a tax rate of 23% on treasure taken from their lands by registered adventurers, and they offer healing and equipment repair services from their offices that overlook the town square. Kazadrach has hired you as representatives for the union – you’re in charge of monitoring unlicensed adventuring and actively recruiting anyone who wishes to undertake derring-do on your turf.
[When you rest in Salen, restore twice as many HP and/or stat points as usual. If you restore fully as part of a full rest in your system, gain +1 to hit and damage in the first encounter after you leave Salen.]
2: THE BARON’S MONSTER-HUNTERS. The Baron of Salen loves a hunt, and he also loves it when monsters aren’t rampaging through his town. To that end he has formed a cadre of monster-hunters who operate within the area – a mix of seasoned vets, aggressive research biologists and posh enthusiasts who were able to buy their way into the club in search of a thrill. The Winter Festival is a great opportunity for the hunters to parade their most impressive kills through the town and maybe chat up some impressionable onlookers, as well as providing a distraction for the Baron so they can get on with the serious business of neutralising actual threats to the town without him insisting on coming along and getting himself in trouble.
[+1 to hit and track a particular kind of monster. GM: please put this particular kind of monster in the game.]
3. OLD BELLWETHER’S DISCIPLES. Mercutio Bellwether is a truly ancient monk who espouses cosmic uncertainty, oscillating between states in a zen-like state of perfect unconfusion. He and a few other monks live in the old monastery in Dovescopp to the west, nestled on a stony outcrop that thrusts up above the forest canopy. You have sworn to protect Bellwether and his associates and perhaps, given time, come to understand their wisdom.
[You do not gain levels as normal. Instead, whenever you roll a D20 to resolve a dangerous or exciting action and it’s equal to your current level, you gain a level at the end of the scene.]
4. BOUND GUARDIANS. The Church of Eternal Resurrection has a deal with adventurers that come through Salen – in exchange for six months of protecting the town, they offer a valuable blessing. For the duration of their employment, the adventurers will probably not die if they sustain a fatal wound while guarding the place, and instead come back to life in the chapel upon the next morning. To make sure that the town stays safe over winter, the priests bind the resurrection spell to the church, so if anyone decides to flee the town they’ll quickly find their previous deaths catching up with them.
[If you die, roll a D8. If you score equal to or over the number of times you’ve died so far this campaign, you are reborn in the Church of Eternal Resurrection upon dawn of the next day. You lose all your gear (unless your companions pick it up for you) and a level in the bargain. If you flee the region, you die in an exciting and demonstrative manner. At the end of the six month period, assuming you survive, any weapon you use acts as a +X magic weapon, where X is your character level divided by 3.]
5. CHOSEN OF THE WINTER COURT. There are faeries in the forest – beautiful things, impossibly so, as fierce as a midwinter gale and ephemeral as a snowflake. You work for them. Maybe it’s by choice – the fae offer glory and riches beyond compare. More often than not it’s due to a curse on your bloodline, or because you were left in the woods to die and one of them raised you as their own, or because you’ve got one of those faces that the fair folk can’t ignore. After the Summer Court went to war against and annexed the Spring and Autumn courts into their domain, the Winter Court are the last bastion against an endless number of supernatural tragedies emerging from the dark places of the earth – and the last defenders of the wild places against those who would seek to destroy them for profit.
[Once per game, pick one: halve an incoming instance of damage, bypass a single barrier by becoming ethereal, summon a cold winter wind, or roll with advantage on a navigation or survival check in the wilderness. The fae have jobs for you, on occasion, but more often than not they just leave it up to you and have another endless dinner party.]
6: STAR-GOD WANDERERS. Each tribe of nomads in the Bone Steppes worships a different star god, and no end of skirmishes have been fought over the superiority of one deity over another. Your tribe was on the losing end of one of those wars, and you’ve been declared exiles from the Steppes and branded as heretics by a rival faction. Taking your ark – the heavy, ornamented box where your god resides on this plane – you have made your way to the northern territories in search of a deeper communion with your patron on the mountains of Svartfjell, and perhaps absolution for your sins.
[While your ark is properly set up in your camp, you gain the ability to curse your foes with righteous and inscrutable star magic. By pronouncing a specific person or beast anathema as part of a ritual around your ark, you reduce their level (and HD and appropriate modifiers) by D3. You must slay the foe before you can curse another.]