Posted on Leave a comment

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

Posted on 1 Comment

How did you get The Sight?

Header image by Teeejayy on Flickr

1 – Dad wasn’t around a lot when you were growing up, because dad was a kitchen god that mum summoned with some back-pocket voodoo and bodged-together mystic resonances she bought off some guy out of the back of his car. Sometimes, when you go back to visit her, she’ll compel dad to possess the body of a family friend, and the three of you have dinner together.

2 – There’s some elf in you. And not in a “grandma was tall and pretty and spent a lot of time in the woods” sort of way – you’re infected with elfdom. It’s a disease; you caught it off a particularly dazzling young man you got off with at a party a few years ago. You don’t know how many people you’ve infected since.

3 – You’re not entirely sure, but every time you see something strange, a black cat turns up about five seconds before everything kicks off. On one hand, it’s a great early warning system (and has saved your life on more than one occasion); on the other, you freak out pre-emptively every time you see a black cat.

4 – You only get it when you’re drunk; the mind control doesn’t work on you when your brain’s moving slower, so you can outwit them, except you have to be drunk, so. But this one time you did some cocaine at a party and saw an entirely different class of weirdness, so maybe different substances adjust your brain to the wavelengths of different supernaturals? The implications fascinate and terrify you.

5 – You know how you’re supposed to wait until the ghost says “GOOD-BYE” at the end of a oujia board session? Yeah, well, your stepdad came home early and you had to hide it before you finished, and now you’ve got a ghost stuck in your head. It can still only communicate using text, though, so you navigate the supernatural underworld by letting yourself get a bit possessed and tapping out instructions to yourself on your smartphone’s notes app.

6 – Clove cigarettes. There’s a reason goths smoke ‘em so much – they make hidden supernatural phenomena visible, a bit like the way regular cigarettes reveal laser traps. (Strong clove cigarettes do, anyway, which is why you hear so many folk talks of gruesome monsters coming out of Indonesia: they’re the world’s largest producer.) Unfortunately, it means you can’t hunt ghosts in public buildings, or outside if it’s windy. And you’ve heard they banned them in the US, too; presumably some sort of government conspiracy to keep the undead and fey under wraps.

7 – You crashed your truck into a mirror warehouse. It was late, and yeah, you’d been drinking, but the deer came out of nowhere – it was bad luck, ironically. Anyway, you shattered three hundred and twenty-seven mirrors in a handful of seconds, and now you can see ghosts, vampires, the fey, through governmental dazzler shields, and so on. It’s done nothing but get you into trouble, which you guess is karmic punishment for all the mirrors.

8 – You opened your eyes during prayers at Sunday School, even though you’re not supposed to, and God was there. He looked like… well, it’s hard to say. He looked like a thousand exploding lightning chariots, and He leant down and kissed you on the forehead (you still have the scar), and He cleared your vision of the clouds that keep humanity ignorant. You never opened your eyes during prayers ever again.

9 – A gutter-wizard on the run from a fey hunting party hid in your dreams one night five years ago, and he refuses to leave. While he takes up residence he appears in every dream (even the sexy ones) and, as a side-effect, allows you to view the world as it really is. He never tidies up after himself, and your dreamscape is an absolute tip.

10 – Six months ago, you woke up to see your doppelganger standing over you holding a pillow getting ready to smother you in your sleep; but was slower than you, and you really didn’t want to die, and you kicked the shit out of it in your bathroom. It was identical to you in every way aside from the way it bled printer ink. You didn’t know what to do. You tied it up and shoved it in your attic; it refuses to die, even though you haven’t fed it, and you can’t bring yourself to kill it. Every day it looks less and less real. Its skin turns to newsprint, its teeth and hair turn brittle and glassy and fall out.

And then: you touched the filaments that surrounded it like pine needles, and a handful of them burrowed inside you, and the thing laughed, and now, when they think you aren’t looking, the buildings get up and walk around and you can smell the stench of a ratkin carrion-feeder two streets away.

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.