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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

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1 – Elf flesh. Its horn functions as an always-on Hand of Glory, which immobilises any elf who looks at it because it’s so beautiful. Then the unicorn eats them. But it hasn’t evolved canine teeth yet, so it takes a while, and they’re alive for most of it.

2 – It’s an emissary from the forest people, and they are demanding that the two most beautiful people come back with it to the deep woods to be their king and queen. Some people are jumping at the chance to grab at what they see as easy power, but the elders of the village understand all too well the terrible price that such a position holds.

3 – To retire and live fat and lazy with the indulgent wizard recluse who lives at the top of the village. But it needs to get an audience with her, first.

4 – To hunt people: despoilers of the forest who have burned the trees and poisoned the earth, that are hiding out in the village. It has sworn an oath to destroy them, no matter the cost. Are they performing dark rites out there, or are they just trying to make a living off the land?

5 – Sanctuary from the band of horn-hunters that have been tracking it back from the forest; it’s injured, limping and bleeding. Later on, you learn that – while the horn hunters are black-hearted bastards – they’re doing it to make a curative potion that will save the life of someone important to the players if delivered in time.

6 – Protection for its young. The unicorn has a foal – a tremendously rare creature – and all sorts of organisations are coming to abduct or simply kill and harvest the horn off it, so it approaches the village begging for help. (Also: the foal is as smart as a seven-year-old, but much faster, and is eager to go off on adventures – even if you tell it not to.)

7 – Tithes. It stomps up on market day and demands tribute of gems, silk and labour to bedeck its forest kingdom in finery, and threatens reprisals from the wood-folk if its demands are not met. To prove its point, it summons a mighty oak that bursts through the ground and demolishes the central clock-tower.

8 – Cure light wounds potions. It got hooked on them – don’t ask how, it was running with an adventuring crew a few years back and things got out of hand. Its body is a weird mix of swollen flesh from gout-like side-effects and bulging muscles from the excess Positive Energy, and it has precisely zero patience left. Using trickery, ambush, robbery or begging, it’ll track down a fix.

9 – To escape the dominion of the Dryad Queen who rules the forest; it wants to leave and meet more unicorns (or maybe some young men and women, for strictly platonic arrangements) but the Queen demands that it stays to bolster the forest’s ecosystem. Can you talk to the Queen on its behalf? Or… deal with her in some other way?

10 – To cover up the fact that it got a talking horse pregnant when it was on holiday in a nearby village, and now she’s asking for child support, except she’s a horse so doesn’t really understand the concept? Anyway, deal with the mother and the kid, put them up somewhere nice and make sure that the elves who pay the unicorn’s wages don’t find out about it.

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.

Photo by Jenny Brown on Flickr