What minor pocket dimension have we stumbled into?

1 – First, you need to find a tree that’s stood for more than a century; then it has to get struck by lightning, and die. Then you have to crawl down inside the rotted-out trunk of it, into the ground, and eventually (pray it’s a short trip) you’ll emerge into the garden. There isn’t a name for it, really; no-one really knows it exists, and for some reason there’s a cult of one-eyed priests who are going around and uprooting every lightning-struck tree they can find. The dimension itself is a small rooftop garden, and storm clouds roll overhead, and the air is heavy with the threat of a storm that never comes. But at least it’s quiet.

2 –It’s where cats go. You know, at night? It’s a mix of rooftops, linen closets, the bins out the back of taverns, and blankets. All the ceilings are too low, the stars are blurry and indistinct, and it smells like cat piss.

3 – It used to be a well-maintained graveyard, but it fell into disrepair a long time ago; you don’t think that dimensions can be “hungry,” as it were, but it’s as though it doesn’t want you to leave. The longer you stay here, the more of your vitality drains away, and your colour, and you begin to feel like laying down in one of the (suspiciously) open graves and going to sleep.

4 – You know when you’re drunk – like, really drunk, can’t-find-your-shoes-drunk – and you wake up at home? This is the dimension you use to get there. It’s a universal shortcut, but you can only use it when you’re blackout drunk, so. If you took notice of your surroundings – which you can’t do, you’re too busy throwing up in an alley – you’d notice a cadre of wine-making monks who have set up their monastery here, and who are all several drinks in all the time.

5 – Look, we’re not here to judge you, but: you went to a peep show. We’re sure you’ve got your reasons. But when the partition rolled back, you saw into a different pocket dimension, instead of the dancing sex worker you paid for. Turns out the place is its own shard of reality – in the back, at least – and you can use it to spy on people (or… cats) in other ones. This could be tremendously valuable in the right hands, but at the moment those hands are busy with other things.

6 – It’s a library; you fell asleep face-down on a pile of books, and woke up here. All the pages and covers are blank and it’s utterly, terrifyingly, silent. Your heartbeat begins to deafen you, and you can hear the high-pitched buzz of your central nervous system.

7 – He paints landscape scenes, and he’s very good at it. So good, in fact, that people wishing for sanctuary – usually when they’re running away from something – stumble into these peaceful, tranquil skylines and city-scapes. At the edge of the space there’s a rough pane of glass, which looks out of the painting and into his studio, so you can talk to him if you want. He doesn’t seem inclined to let you out; it’s as though capturing people was his aim all along.

8 – There’s a Screen Omega at this cinema, and you can get into it, if you know how to ask. You don’t recognise any of the films playing here – they’re all one step away from familiar, featuring people who look a little like the stars of yesteryear, and they’re all in black and white. Some of them are in languages you can nearly recognise. Anyway; the rules of cinema, not the real world, apply here. Walk in with a gunshot wound and you can heal it with a bandage and a montage. (Alternatively: walk in with a nasty cough and it’ll develop into full-blown tuberculosis by the end of the film, so be careful.)

9 – There’s a reason you don’t talk to people on the bus – they aren’t people. Every single bus is part of a mass hallucination, and there’s only one interdimensional space that we use to transport between locations; the bus is just a way to let your mind handle it. Why do you think they don’t let you off if it’s not at a stop? You’d be torn to shreds by transdimensional parasites.

10 – Someone built this place – it was a Sorcerer-King’s mind palace, they say, back when you had Sorcerer-Kings – and since then, every Tom, Dick and Harry with a stepping sideways spell has been through here and lifted everything of value. All the majestic tapestries have long since been ripped off the walls and sold; all the devious traps have been triggered, or rusted into inaction, or been deactivated and stripped for copper; even the walls themselves have been chipped away at, the shards of mind-stone sold for a few quid, leaving the place barren, empty, and draughty.


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.

Image by Eelke on Flickr

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.

How are you still alive?

1 – Duct tape and epoxy putty. You just stuck yourself together. Further examination of your body shows multiple patch-jobs concealed under your clothing – fishing-line stitches, sawdust and staples instead of organs, and so on. You are entirely unsure why you haven’t died yet, but it seems to be working.

2 – An angel with neon hair and bluescreen eyes came down from the skies above and brought you back to life with a binary whisper. Everybody saw it but no-one’s really… talking about it? Maybe they don’t want to admit that they think it’s real. On camera, it shows up as a blistering anomaly, or it just flat-out fries the hard-drive that the video records to, so it’s all eyewitness accounts and nothing else – unless you can get a polaroid of it.

3 – You’ve replaced most of your internal organs with car parts (specifically: parts from a 1977 Ford Thunderbird), which makes you almost invulnerable to harm. But not tearing.

4 – The bullet went right through you, and now sand is pouring out of the hole. Wait: not sand, gold-dust. Weird. Anyway, it’s running through your fingers, and passers-by are partially concerned and partially interested in stealing the stuff.

5 – You shudder, and add another ghost to the swarm that follow you around, then get up and walk away. You’re on twelve, now; two small ones from the same day when you went camping in the forest as a kid, one from heart disease, a couple of car accidents, and so on.

6 – You’re the God of Mirrors. The woman who shot you through the chest is face-down dead with a ragged exit wound in her back. You have a bet going with several noted deities that they can’t kill you, and are welcome to try, because you’re getting bored of being alive and interested to find out what’s next.

7 – Because you are the True King (or True Queen) and commoners cannot hurt you. You’ve only ever been hurt by those of noble blood, and the more noble blood they have in them, the easier it is for them to hurt you. You’re petrified that a royal family (from another country, not your country, because the royal family in your country are a bunch of charlatans) will find out and use it against you somehow.

8 – You’ve never once stepped on a crack in the pavement. (Ironically: your mum’s in a wheelchair.) Also, you avoid walking under ladders, turn around when you spot a black cat, never open umbrellas indoors, and so on. But honestly, it’s just the cracks that work.

9 – You flickered out of reality for a split-second, just when it would have hit you. It saved your life, but you went somewhere else for the duration (which felt like hours to you, even though no time passed at all as far as everyone else was concerned) and you come back reeking of spoiled milk and hot plastic. You can’t remember much about where you went; you’re not sure you want to.

10 – You’re soul-bound to your brother, and you have to die at the same time in the same way or it just doesn’t… take. Still hurts, though. Your brother’s been trying to kill you (and, by extension, himself) for the last three years. At the moment he’s in hospital following his last attempt.


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.

Image by Salva Graziano on Flickr

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 does this serial killer collect from their victims?

1 – FINGERNAILS. And toenails. They rip ‘em out with pliers, and fix them to their own scabby, pallid skin with staples. (The “scales” function as a kind of armour, weirdly.)

2 – THEIR LAST MEAL. Pumped straight out of the stomach.

3 – AURAS. They rip it off them in their last moments and add it to their own; a swirling, incoherent mess of jagged colours that makes electric lights malfunction when they get angry.

4 – SHOES. They reckon if they steal the shoes off people, they can’t “walk into heaven,” which is kind of a dick move; instead, they nail horseshoes to the soles of their feet to pin them in place. Most of them hang around as ghosts, but on the other hand, most of them don’t deserve to get into heaven given what they’ve done.

5 – THE LAST THING THEY SAW. They used to reckon that the last thing people saw was imprinted on their eyes when they died; they were wrong, but you can use magic to access the information. The serial killer does, and renders them as nightmarish paintings – most of them self-portraits.

6 – PETS. They don’t want them to die; they take them home, put them up, feed them, etc. They’ve built an impromptu (and illegal) kennel in their apartment, and they’re starting to run out of space and money.

7 – IDENTITIES. It’s gross, but: they hollow them out and wear the husks, and some back-alley sorcery lets them pose as the person. It’s a good likeness, too, right down to the mannerisms, until the body starts rotting; they keep a couple of bodies cured and dried in their bedroom, ready for emergencies. So, you know: look for suture marks on the backs of your friends’ heads.

8 – EYES. They install the eyes around their home, and they can focus and look through them, letting them act as a sort of security camera system. (They varnish them so they don’t dry out; it impairs the vision a little.)

9 – HANDS. To make a Hand of Glory, you need the left hand of a man hanged for murder. Those are really hard to come by these days, so the killer is capturing people, having them kill one another and then hanging the survivor, cutting off their hand, and selling it on the black market. (If YOU’VE ever used a Hand of Glory, odds are it’s coming from an illegal Hand Farm like this one.)

10 – MONEY. The killer (or is it killers?) receives instructions detailing the location, appearance, and movements of the target from a mysterious source; they track them down and kill them, and each one of them just so happens to be carrying a huge amount of cash, which is the killer’s payment. Who’s setting it up, and where is the money coming from? And are you going to open that briefcase that appeared in your living room last night?


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.

Cover image by Ben Smith 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 the supernatural weakness of this new threat?

1 – Television static. The black-and-white snow on detuned televisions shows echoes of the big bang, and it’s this cosmic afterbirth that sets the monster’s teeth on edge. You’re not entirely sure why (and you’re not sure you want to find out, really) but getting an old cathode-ray TV and setting it to a dead channel works like salt, or holy water, or church bells on these guys. You’ve heard tell that there’s a guy downtown with several specimens trapped in circles of hissing TVs, and he’s always on the lookout to buy old models if you pick any up.

2 – Your blood. Just you, though – not anyone else. You think it’s something to do with the way that you’ve got The Sight; anyway, they’re killing people all over the shop, and various factions are becoming interested in harvesting your blood to use as a weapon. You, of course, would rather that it stayed in your body where it belongs. Can you track down someone else with a similar effect? (Or: infect them?)

3 – Digitalis. You can get digitalis from foxgloves (also known as Dead Men’s Fingers); they use it in heart medication to slow down irregular heart-rate. When you jab these monsters with it, in a high enough dose, it slows their pulse down to a human rate, and they lose all their supernatural powers: no more incredible strength, no more accelerated healing, etc. At that point it’s just as easy as killing a regular human.

4 – Crowds. They don’t see humans as individuals; something about their minds means that they see their targets as a sort of hive, a singular mass of swarming entities. They can understand one person (and talk to them, kill them, eat them etc) but if confronted with a crowd, they can’t fathom the intent of it, or any of the people inside. Big enough crowds overwhelm their senses and give them splitting headaches; they avoid crossing train-lines or busy intersections like a vampire avoids crossing water, because the buzzing stench of crowds never leaves those places. You’ll be safe as long as you’re never alone.

5 – Darkness. Something chased them here. (Something worse?) Now, they can’t endure the dark, not even for a second; they adorn themselves with lights, bathe in neon glow, cluster under street lamps. They reckon that if they’re in darkness, whatever hunts them can find them. (And: it does. If they spend too long in the dark, they die.) So you’re completely safe from them, as long as you’re in utter darkness.

6 – Mathematics. There’s something raw and bestial about them, something feral that rejects a higher understanding of the universe; so long as you’re performing arithmetic of some kind, they can’t abide your presence. (They hunt scientists out of a kind of hate.) In the modern world, they’re screwed, because most everyone has a device in their pocket that’s carrying out millions of calculations a second, so they have to wait until your phone runs out of battery before they strike and smash you to pieces against anything hard in your immediate surroundings.

7 – Heat. They’re creatures of bitter winter, and the colder they are, the stronger they become. You’ve heard tell that they rule the upper reaches of Scandinavia, but obviously something’s driving them down into more temperate climes; and now they’re here, in the city. They can walk about as normal during the depths of winter; in summer, they’d be lucky to last for an hour or more outside of an industrial freezer unit before their organs shut down and they die. Now: you and your friends are holed up in a run-down flat, surrounded by a protective ring of three-bar heaters, wishing for the snowstorm to end.

8 – Painkillers. They have a special relationship with pain, so anything that blocks it is anathema to them. People tried making protective circles of ground-up analgesics, but that only went so far; now, if you hunt them, it’s considered a good idea to get loaded up on codeine before you set off, which causes its own problems. Some people say that anti-anxiety drugs work too as they can feed off your fear (which makes them stronger), and they swear by 200mg of Pregabalin to start the day or wear protective charms made of Valium pills strung through dental floss.

9 – Fire. Back in the day, everyone had fire; we lit our houses with candles and lamps, and we burned wood to warm them. Now, the closest most of us come to an open flame during the average day is lighting a cigarette; so these creatures, clad in shadows and emerging from lightless corners, are having a field day. A lighter or match isn’t enough to keep them at bay, and you’re going to get some funny looks (and probably arrested) if you carry a burning torch around with you.

10 – Disease. They only eat clean things, so anything or anyone with a disease is disgusting to them. A minor cough or cold will put them off or slow them down (but not, say, stop them if their backs are to the wall) – late-stage leukemia will send them running in fear. If you hunt them, you’ve got a few choices: stay sick, so they’ll give you a wide berth; carry vials of disease around with you, which is a crime, and you’d have to break them open to use them; or bring an ill person with you, probably in a wheelchair, probably waiting in the van outside, to use as a tac-nuke if everything goes to shit.


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.

Image by Alpha 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

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.