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.