Illustration by Rowan MacColl
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.
The Winter Festival attracts all sorts of strangers to the north. Who’s the most interesting person milling around in the crowd?
- Mister Christmas who is definitely not a mind flayer and very much likes Christmas. You think “Christmas” might be his word for the festive period, which is weird, but here you are. He’s got a big white beard, just like a human might have, and also regular human glasses and a perfectly ordinary red suit and hat combo just like a person would wear. He has a large sack of gifts that he’s giving out to everyone – nothing too elaborate, just bags of nuts, cheap trinkets, carved wooden toys, that kind of thing. Seems like a genuinely decent guy.
- An Ominous Stranger. More ominous than your normal stranger; this man is dressed in a hooded cape, his face is perpetually in shadow, and he bears a curved knife of curious design. He trails you through the market and waits until one of you is alone to make his approach. He is a cheese salesman; the cape contains a full cheeseboard and that knife is designed to both slice and pick up bits of cheese. He’s singled you out as a great prospect for investing in his cheese business, and in a voice like poison gravel he suggests that you should try some of his wares. They’re delicious. He’s just really weird.
- Tigers For Sale! This guy has ended up with a job lot of black-and-white striped tigers and now he can’t shift the buggers. He’s set up shop in the corner of the Blackspur tavern and is happy to talk at length about how tigers make “great pets and better gifts” and how affordable his prices are when you consider that tigers can hunt for their own dinner. The tigers are kept in a series of ramshackle cages down at the docks where they’ve eaten more than one stevedore whose families have been hushed up with a promise of a cut of the eventual tiger sales.
- [Sound of fracturing ice,] a travelling ice elemental, who’s taking some time off their normal winter shift after coming into some money following the death of an elderly ice elemental aunt. They say they’ve come all the way from the other pole and that the snow here “smells fascinating” and “is warmer than proper snow,” which you don’t really understand. [Sound of fracturing ice] is interested in hiring a local guide to take them up to the peak of Svartfjell, which is a terrible idea, but they seem easy to trick and have a lot of very cold money to throw around.
- Dr Neon Arcana, rival to Professor Flouro Wizbiz and actual inventor, accompanied by their research assistant Argon Floresce BSc. The strikingly beautiful Dr Arcana has come to defend their honour against the scurrilous accusations laid against them by Wizbiz in several journals of note, but Wizbiz has wisely cast a spell on himself to appear invisible to anyone who’s trying to kill and/or sue him for libel. Are you willing to help out? Whose side will you choose?
- Chance Alhambra, legendary ice sculptor. Chance is famous all across the north for their uncannily lifelike renditions of wildlife and legendary heroes – and has more than once come under suspicion that they’re in fact just turning animals and people into ice instead of actually carving it. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth; they make all their sculptures themselves. But they’re so good at it that sometimes their art comes to life, and they can’t afford another incident, they say tearfully outside your window in the middle of the night, so could you please help?
- Ironpelt, a world-famous half-ogre trapper and hunter selling pelts of animals she’s hunted in her wide and storied travels. Most of them are just nice to look at but she’s claiming a few of them have magic properties – wyvern scales that can turn any blade (“kicked it to death,” she explains without being asked), bearskin rugs that will animate and protect the house they’re in from intruders, wolf pelts that keep you as warm as it is inside of a wolf but don’t smell nearly half as bad, and so on. Ironpelt is known for giving away pelts to people that she fancies, so you might be able to get a freebie if you charm her.
- Gather-The-Spears-For-A-Crimson-Dawn-Approacheth, “Gather” to his friends (if he had any friends), a star-god priest exiled from the Bone Steppes for his apocalyptic brand of worship – he believes that all the star gods are as naught against the might of the Great Absolution that is coming, which is the kind of thing that gets you kicked out of not just one but several clans. Gather is en route to Svartfjell, the great mountain to the North, where he will witness the true wisdom of the stars. He isn’t wearing shoes and he’s already lost a couple of toes to frostbite.