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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

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What’s weird about the club downtown?

1 – It’s run by the fey, and alongside the coat-check, you can hand in your reflection for the evening as well. Without a reflection, your soul doesn’t get stained from sin, so you can do whatever you wish and not end up karmically tainted by it. (In more concrete terms, you don’t feel bad about it, either. And you don’t even feel bad that you don’t feel bad.) The club keeps your reflection if you can’t pay up, and sells them on to desperate vampires at extortionate rates if you leave it too long.

2 – The music is a ritual. It’s one of the longest the world has ever seen, and it’s been performed by ten artists over about fifteen years; they come on stage and perform certain notes to add to the oversong. When it’s complete, they say that the whole club will ascend, but that’s probably just a spiel to get people through the doors.

3 – It’s infinite; there’s a room for every kind of music that you could imagine. However, seeing as the number of people in the club is finite, the less popular the musical style is the fewer people you’ll see. A number of shadowy organisations hold meetings in the throat-singing room, convinced that they’ll never be interrupted.

4 – You can only get to it by elevator. There are six elevators that go there, spread across town, and each of them has a slightly different combination of button-pushes that allow access. A lot of the elevators come with a “test” of some kind – a creepy-looking woman or child entering the lift and asking you weird questions – but that’s just to put off the tourists.

5 – It’s on the inside of a sphere; you can look up and see the other dancefloor. Which would be difficult enough to handle if you were sober, and you definitely aren’t. Some people like to throw small change up into the centre to see if you can get it to float in the middle of the sphere; the bouncers kick you out if they catch you doing it, though.

6 – It’s Valhalla for ravers. If you die on a dancefloor – generally thanks to an overdose, dehydration, or looking at the wrong guy in the wrong way and getting your head kicked in – then you come here, and dance all night, and sleep all day in the back of the chillout room. It’s jam-packed with the most hardcore party people available from throughout time, and they’re all impossibly irritating to be around if you’re sober.

7 – They’ve been playing the same song for the last twelve years. It’s incredibly long, and they just turn it down and leave it running when the club closes. Regular attendees believe that the mysteries of the universe are contained within the song – eventually. It seems to be about two years behind whatever’s fashionable when you hear it, which is pretty good going considering it was written last century.

8 – The place is jam-packed full of birds; owls, crows, hawks, ravens, etc. The staff’s main job is cleaning up after them, but if you can deal with the droppings, it lends the place a fantastic ambience.

9 – It’s pitch black inside. Most of the things that come here can see in the dark, and indeed prefer to function without light, so they don’t need it. Torches (and therefore phones) are banned; you can use night-vision goggles to see what’s going on, but expect the other punters to laugh at you and try to steal them.

10 – It’s in a rooftop garden. The plants here are unnaturally lush and vibrant, no matter what time of year it is – you reckon that there must be a dryad in charge, or at the very least a druid – and, occasionally, you see a deer or a fox scampering away down one of the corridors. Some of the more elaborate cocktails come served in pitcher plants or sliced-open cacti; the regulars tend to stick to glasses, though.

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 electricnude on flickr