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What’s under the church?

1 – Another church. Older, for a different religion; lots of crows, tapestries of a great and terrible crown. Roll again on this table to see what’s under this one.

2 – A roiling mass of worms. You can’t tell how far down they go, or what they’re surviving on down there. The door slams shut behind you.

3 – An underground cave system. Mostly it’s flooded, but the one dry-ish tunnel leads to the basement of a brothel in town.

4 – A forgotten library. It’s got the original religious texts of the church above it in there, but it seems like no-one knows it’s here. This would be an excellent opportunity to set yourself up in a prophecy of your own invention, if you’ve got a pen to hand.

5 – The anti-church. Built by a sect of True Neutral monks, this anti-church dwells beneath the above church and espouses completely different values for the sake of balance.

6 – A vault containing contraband treasure. Looks like it’s stamped with the insignia of the evil overlord who was cast down from his throne of blood thirty years ago. They (or anyone else who picked it up) would have a hell of a time shifting this. Why do they have it, anyway?

7 – A labyrinth, made out of repurposed wood. It’s filled with half-starving feral boars and the scant remains of the last people who came down here.

8 – A portal to heaven. At least: they reckon it’s a portal to heaven. It’s definitely a portal. The priests here are rapturing people from the local community after deeming them worthy of entrance into the great eternal. (God knows where it really goes, though. Would be a laugh if it actually was heaven, eh.)

9 – An enormous chasm, going way, way down. You can hear music – bells, flutes, pipes etc – and cackling coming from the bottom.

10 – A dark void. A magic hole in space and time, a portal to the elemental plane of No. The church was built on it to contain it, but their wards are failing, and now it’s only a couple of feet beneath the main altar.

11 – A vampire. Leave him alone! He’s trying to sleep.

12 – A suspicious quantity of arms and armour. Good stuff, too. Non-magical (aside from a handful of potions) but it’s of strong make, and there’s enough here to outfit a squad to do some serious work. Which is odd, because it’s hidden beneath a godsdamned church.

13 – A prison. They put sinners here. Sometimes they put food here. The town is calm and peaceful and crime-free, and they like it that way, so no-one asks too many questions about the black-masked priests who walk the streets at night and drag away the undesirables.

14 – A wizard’s tower. You’d think it’d be the wrong way up, but there’s a sky under here and everything; the tower is on a promontory overlooking a wild sea, and you can see something huge shifting under the waves. Wizard’s a bit of a weirdo; she says she’s studying the air currents here, and refuses to believe that there’s a church in her basement.

15 – Catacombs. But: round here, while you’re in mourning, you go and live with the dead under the church. Some folks never come out of mourning. There are about thirty people down there at any given time, and at the end of a funeral, family members are escorted down into the depths with the body.

16 – The same church, but last week. It’s one of the weird sharding effects of the cataclysm; the church is underneath itself, inverted, but the one underneath is a week in the past. As long as you visit the church once a week and stay on good terms with the vicar(s), you can effectively cheat death so long as you don’t mind getting kidnapped by your mates from the future every now and again.

17 – A hospital. The staff here are trying to hide the fact that there’s an outbreak of plague in the area; if it gets out, the panic would be impossible to handle. Their beds are filling up, and they’re on the verge of uncovering a cure, but time is not on their side.

18 – An opium den. None of the priests are actually priests; they’re drug dealers, and most of the town is in on it. They run a pretty solid operation, and don’t care about killing people who shove their noses in where they don’t belong.

19 – An orcish invasion. They’re tunnelling in from their world of darkness and fire and hate, and they’re hungry to see the light and feast on the pleasures of the surface world. You find evidence of an orc camp in the cellar, and then hear the unmistakable sound of iron-shod boots clattering against flagstones.

20 – Cogs from the machine that keeps the world turning. They creak and click at an incredibly slow rate, and beneath you, the sound of vast cthonic rumbling hints at something far larger beneath you. This is a maintenance access panel, but: do you really want to go exploring down here?

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 fly on Flickr

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What happens when you die?

1 – The devil challenges you to a game of your choosing in exchange for a better position in Hell. You can’t “win,” per se, because the devil cheats, but you’re at least in with a chance of getting a role as a middle manager or informant on the other guys. One death mage invented an eternal game and challenged the devil to it, thinking that he was being clever enough to guarantee himself eternal life, but the devil just chucked him into a pit and told him to forget about it.

2 – You enter an infinite plane, a place of ethereal landscapes and half-remembered sunlight, and you must search for a way out to an afterlife. The longer you stay here, the less of your original memories and personality remain; some of the shades here are just smudges of shadow and noise that barely resemble a human. You hear tell of a route to heaven in the mountains; of Elysium beyond the great sea to the east; that Valhalla emerges from between the clouds in a storm; and that Avici dwells, vast and malicious, in the tunnels far below the earth.

3 – Whoever rules the place where you died gets your soul as an eternal servant. The power-players in the occult world have legions of invisible servants at their command, or so they claim; there are secret poltergeist wars fought for territory under the cover of storms, and possessed agents in high levels of government.

4 – You escape death – narrowly, at the least second. You count yourself as lucky and go on living your life. Except: it’s not your life. Everything you experience is a simulation, your own personal afterlife, modelled after the one you chose to live while you were breathing. (In reality, your friends are grieving your death.) Die in this one, and you’ll enter another simulation, a more suitable heaven; right up until you hit the age of 88. We don’t know what happens if you die after that.

5 – You haunt the person who killed you. But: most people aren’t directly killed by someone, so your soul takes a roundabout route to punish whoever it thinks is responsible. Someone who fell off a bridge might haunt the bridge’s architect; a suicide victim might haunt their ex-therapist; a smoker might haunt a cigarette manufacturer. The closer they are to actually being at fault, the more intense the haunting is; there are layers and layers of bureaucracy between a smoker and a tobacco lobbyist, for example, and this is largely to keep the hauntings to a manageable level.

6 – You instantly become a shade of your former self, and all you can do is watch the world without you in it. You get to watch your family move on and deal with your death, but you can’t do anything about it. You can’t see other shades, either; just you, forever, in a world that you are incapable of affecting and which increasingly doesn’t care about you. (But: you can be pulled out of this state, and the crushing thing is you know how, but you can’t tell anyone. At least, not with the tools you currently have available.)

7 – A death mage (one of the bad ones) finds your corpse, and before your soul can move on or manifest into a ghost or any of that good stuff, the bastard field-strips your animus out of you and jams it into a mason jar. Before you know it he’s sold off your spectral eyes to juice up a warding spell, he’s flogged your sense of purpose to a struggling med student and siphoned off all of your back-from-the-dead vengeance and stored it in a safe in case you get any ideas about coming after him.

8 – You awaken, and you are marching in an impossibly long line under smog-choked stars, and the stench of industry stings your nostrils. You are fuel; your deeds in life have determined how much heat you will produce when burned, and at the end of the vast line, there is the great furnace that powers the machines which keep the world spinning. You see, at the edges of the crowd, iron-masked enforcers; these are people who made so little impact in their lives that they are more useful as agents than fuel. You envy them.

9 – You enter a marketplace – it looks something like a cross between a Moroccan souk and an IKEA – and it contains portions of every available afterlife, ready for purchasing with the proceeds earned from the good deeds you performed while alive. Always wanted to hang out with Abrahamic angels, but didn’t want to faff about with the whole “heaven” deal? Why not buy a six-winged friend and go hang out in the Elysian Fields? You find someone offering “Return to Life Unharmed,” which is a pretty swish deal, but the kicker is you just can’t afford it. So you’ll have to find someone willing to lend you some credit, or steal it from the nicest person you can find.

10 – Your spirit possesses someone else in the party, nestling inside their head like a parasite. They gain access to all of your skills and knowledges, but if they ever made a critical success or critical failure, they hand their character sheet over to you (and their body over to your spirit), which means you can do things like eat and love and feel again. Should you make a critical failure or success, or fall asleep, control reverts back to the original player.

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 Krowten on Flickr