D&Dish: Questions to ask players about their character’s Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom and Charisma

Asking good questions is such a big part of being a good librarian that it was a shock when Apocalypse World first made me really think about questions as a tool at the table. Of course gamers asked each other questions before Apocalypse World; I’m not saying the Bakers invented questions or the question mark. But naming the tools in one’s toolbox makes it easier to reach for said tool and makes it easier to discuss how to use them well.

The questions here go back and forth between questions for high stats and questions for low stats. They can easily be changed a bit for the middle of the road results.

Below are the pretty versions with world bubbles and character sheets but below that is just the text.


DnD Sheet Questions


Were you born strong or did you work hard to become strong?


What is/was the worst part about not being the strongest?


What feat of strength have you always wanted to accomplish?


How did you survive without physical strength?


When you locked up with the strongest person you’ve ever wrestled, what happened that made you realize they were stronger than you?



When did you realize you were faster/more graceful than everyone around you?


What is your worst nightmare about being clumsy?


What feat of grace have you always wanted to accomplish?


What did you almost drop?


Which monster was the children’s game you were so great at named after?



What did being hale and healthy allow you to accomplish?


What was your haven during your sickest days?


What did you survive because you are so durable and healthy?


When were you most sick and who took care of you?


What did you attribute your great health to? Ancestors? Deities? The crystal clear water in the streams where you grew up?



When did you first realize you were the smartest person you knew?


How did you deal with the written word being so difficult for you?


What was the first problem you solved with your intellect?


How do you react to being called dumb?


What was the first problem you could not think your way out of?



What did you realize about the adults around you at a young age because of your incredible perception?


What problem in your community did you not see because of your lack of wisdom?


When did you first give wise advice to a friend and how did their problem find resolution?


What personal shortcoming did you fail to see until it was too late and damaged your life?


Which prayer has the most personal meaning for you?



Who were some of the first people you remember charming?


How do you recover from bad first impressions?


When was the first time you realized the power you wielded in front of a large audience?


Who did your lack of charm and social grace push away that you really regret?


What was the best performance of your life so far?

Village near a dungeon with a necromancy problem


Alright, I’m going to write this up as an incursion for Trophy Gold in one sitting. I read this when I woke up and I’m going to write this before I get my coffee. All names will be obvious placeholders that can be easily tossed out for easy insertion into your game world.

Clues, things players will likely need are in all caps.


Arneson is a distant, pleasant village with more sheep than people. Gygax, the friendly hedge wizard, had a tower nearby, always on the horizon. Most years, the big deal is rounding up the sheep and selling the wool at the crossroads market. No knight nor any ducal authority figure has been here in the eldest elder’s memory.

Gygax died and the wizard’s cruelest apprentice, Lor, came back with a posse of mercenaries and has taken charge of the town looking for lost power.

Secret shit the players should uncover pretty quickly:

Gygax has been here for years to watch over their master’s tomb. The Wizard’s master, Braunstein, was a necromancer he stopped from becoming a lich with his old adventuring party. Lor is looking for Braunstein’s tomb so he can find the lich-rites for their own use.

The Town, The Tower, The Hills & The Tomb

basic incursion diagram

The Town


Unless you the treasure-hunters someone in town, most folk are going to assume you are a posse of mercenaries or friends of Lor and keep their heads down. The villagers are clearly terrified.

Set Goal:

Find out where Gygax left the map to the tomb.


  • Mercenaries abusing a villager to pass the time.
  • Children playing pretend as Gygax and his adventuring party.
  • Elder engaged in tense negotiations with mercenary sergeant concerning village search.
  • Villagers leaving offerings to the All-Mother on the altar near the village well.


Elder House: The hierarchy of the town is pretty flat but one person is elected Elder and they get to live in the Elder House with all of the oldest and wisest from the village. Moldvay is older than dirt and will mischievously steal something off the players and give it back to them with a wink. Moldvay was the thief in Gygax’s party – you can give a clue to this in the children’s game.

MOLDVAY TOTALLY KNOWS THAT THE MAP IS BURIED WITH GYGAX’s OLD PARTY IN THE CEMETERY OUTSIDE HIS TOWER. Moldvay asks to go with them and is old but it also surprisingly spry (if you want the players to have a mentor who isn’t going to do much derring-do because of bad knees, here you go).

Elder Kaye will offer 5 gold if the players can promise to have Lor and the mercenaries out of Arneson within two days. He’s savvy and knows they’re looking for something and doesn’t want to pay for protection if it means the treasure-hunters just wait until Lor finds whatever it is he’s looking for and goes away.

The Well: A good place to catch up on local gossip and offer prayers at the nearby altar. The All-Mother is most often prayed to but other saints, Sisters and deities are welcome; folks will ask good natured questions about foreign prayers. Sergeant Metzger will likely stop by to find out how long you’ll all be staying, warning you all to move along at first light tomorrow.

There’s One in Every Village: Braunstein had one family on his side and they still pray that he will return as a lich some day. Their family has a secret altar to the Necromancer Braunstein behind a secret panel in their cottage. If anyone shows necromantic powers or prays to any death deities or ghoul saints, the elder of the Avalon family will approach them.

If you want to ramp shit up, maybe this family grabbed a guard and sacrificed them to Braunstein in a blood rite.


Mercenaries being cruel to the villagers could draw the adventurers into a fight, announcing their presence to Lor and causing them to speed up their search.


These folks don’t have shit. The only real money to be made is making a deal with Elder Kaye.

If you kill any mercenaries, their gear is worth about 2GP each. The sergeant might have some memento pillaged from some distant castle; if a player has some castle in their backstory that they haven’t visited in years, put something they will recognize and let them know that this mercenary company pillaged that castle.


Mercenaries (2 squads of 6 people each in town, another 2 squads patrolling, 4 squads camped outside the tower)


  1. Playing dice, bored
  2. Terrorizing villagers
  3. Actually doing their job looking for clues as to where the map is
  4. Sighing as they draw their weapons, offering warnings
  5. Grinning as the fight begins
  6. Checking on and mending gear and weapons

NOTE:  I like the idea of human bad guys but if you want a little touch of strange, maybe Lor gave them animal heads with gifts from different animals.

Weakness: The mercenaries fight well together but don’t do well alone. Single them out and alone they are fairly useless.

Defenses: Good gear and weapons

Animal Heads

  1. Hawk
  2. Boar
  3. Wolf
  4. Lion
  5. Vulture
  6. Goat


If the players keep a low profile, Lor will take their time and their clock will be a 12 part clock. If a player fails a roll or they spend a night somewhere, click off a part of the clock.

Once Lor knows there are adventurers in town shit gets real and the clock becomes a six part and Lor will get aggressive, sending hunting parties out to get them. At this point there will only be two squads in camp and Captain Allston will rarely be there.

The Tower


A humble 3 story tower on a hill that once belonged to a Tower Knight, back in the days when dukes set aside silver for such things. Attached is a stable and a pig pen. At the bottom of the hill, near a stream, is the mercenary camp with 4 more squads of 6 and Captain Allston’s senior officers.

Set Goal:

Dig up the graves of Gygax’s adventuring party and find the pieces of map carved into the lid of each coffin without anyone knowing.


Mercenaries grumbling about shit-eating wizards while bringing buckets of fresh water up to the tower.

Mercenaries saying a few words over the fresh grave of their friend killed by the owlbear in the cemetary. Shovels are nearby.

Stream gurgling in the distance while bumblebees buzz lazily through the air; this is beautiful country.

Somewhere in the distance, the owlbear shrieks a hoot-growl.


The Tower: Lor is going through Gygax’s library and finding nothing. There are wards to keep the mercenaries away. It is a 3 story tower without much in the way of adornments. After killing Braustein, Gygax settled down and didn’t adventure much, happy to stay in his tower, living the good life, offering some vague wizardly wisdom to the villagers when needed.

If the players somehow get access to Gygax’s library they will find he was fascinated with the history of the Tower Knights; most of the books are about the knights, trying to piece together the identity of the knights who lived here. The mention mention of Braunstein’s tomb is a vague snippet in the margins of a book: MY FRIENDS GUARD THE SECRET OF THE TOMB. Lor hasn’t figured out what that means yet but he will.

The Cemetery: Gygax’s adventuring party are buried here: Cookie, Bell and Perren. The map to Braunstein’s tomb is carved into their coffin lids.

The Camp: An orderly mercenary camp but the captain’s gold from their last contract is here.

The Owlbear Cave: Gygax’s old owlbear still remembers Lor fondly and follows their orders as if they were the wizard, happy to have a wizard to follow again. Lor has the money they’ve promised to pay the mercenaries hidden in the owlbear’s cave. The cave’s floor is covered in sheep bones and has a nest where the beast sleeps. Under the nest is a secret compartment where Lor keeps his treasures.


The owlbear and the mercenaries are a real danger. Lor is either out scouring the hills for clues or is in the tower reading through the library.


Captain Allston has 20G in a locked chest in their tent. There is always an old merc who lost a leg in a campaign sitting on it.

Lor has 10G under the owlbear’s nest.


Owlbear, a nightmare of furry feathers, claw and beak, two terrible predators mashed together for the sole purpose of guarding wizards’ shit.


  1. Hoot-growling
  2. Climbing a tree in order to pounce from above
  3. Clawing a tree with arcane sigils
  4. Eating a sheep it caught
  5. Mauling
  6. Beak cuts through armor

Weakness: If you cast a spell in front of it and offer it some food it will take you for a wizard and cautiously follow your orders

Defenses: Furry feathers are tough, claw/talons and beak rend through armor

The Hills


Beautiful rolling hills, dotted with sheep.

When Braunstein was killed, the folk of Arneson killed the necromancer’s servant. They buried their body in a local barrow, hoping the ancient king would hold the necromancer’s servant from coming back and seeking vengeance. Any shepherd kid in the hills will gladly tell the treasure-hunters that tale in return for being able to hold a weapon or hear about life far away.

Set Goal:

Hunt the ghoul here for its treasure or ambush a mercenary patrol out here if you wish but know that nothing of Braunstein’s tomb is in the hills.


Sheep scatter as the mercenaries march by in formation.

Shepherd’s dog runs circles around the sheep, keeping them together.

Someone’s playing a haunting tune on a flute while they watch their herd.

A sheep is found, eaten by the ghoul.


The Barrow: A simple barrow where the ghoul was buried in a coffin wrapped in chains. Those chains are broken.

Below that, the ancient king is buried with their ancient treasures.

The ghoul, nor the king (someone will find a way to talk to the dead king; I’m sure of it) have any idea of where Braunstein’s tomb is.


Only bad dreams…surely that can’t be bad, right?


If the players dig under the ghoul’s coffin they will find the ancient king who the locals hoped would keep the ghoul from awakening. The king’s ancient jewelry and iron crown will fetch a fine price. Its bronze weapons are likely to break but were made to kill undead; that was the job of ancient kings, to guard their people against the dead.


Ghoul, dead skin stretched over sinew and bone with crimson teeth


  1. Jumps on you and bites any exposed flesh – hands, neck, arms…whatever
  2. Hisses
  3. Bites off a piece of your flesh
  4. Tangles you up with its cold limbs as it attempts to clear away clothes or armor and get its bite
  5. Holds weapon thrust into it so it can get close
  6. Offers you a piece of your friend it just bit off

Weakness: Holy symbols and the ancient king’s weapons are made for killing undead

Defenses: None

Braunstein’s Tomb


Built into a hill hidden in the nearby haunted forest.

Set Goal:

Get that treasure.


Flocks of ravens cover the trees, imitating things they hear the players say, mocking them.

The click and wirr of Gygax’s traps as it activates


Trapped hallways: Gygax trapped the hallways. The traps are obvious; Gygax was a wizard, not an engineer.

False Tomb: A sarcophagus mimic, surrounded by the bones of the animals it has eaten. The only real clue is that the mimic isn’t centered on the raised platform. The True Tomb is in a secret room under the false tomb.

True Tomb: Braunstein’s bones are charred black because Gygax tried to burn them because the lich-rites are burned into the bones and can’t be destroyed by any mortal means. Maybe dragon-fire could do it, erasing the fell knowledge from this world.

Bas reliefs on the walls show the adventures of Gygax’s adventuring party to kill this bastard, like a final plea not to use the rites on their bones.


Pressure platers. Trip-wires. You know the drill. Find a map and have a blast if that’s yer cuppa tea.

The mimic is ready to eat the face of someone who tries to peak in its “lid” to see what is within.


Lich-rites on Braunstein’s bones is priceless to the right necromancer if you have no morals.

Brauinstein had other treasures. Need some ideas on what? I’ve got a mini-supplement for that.


Mimic, stonelike flesh and rows vicious teeth


  1. Swallows you whole
  2. Jumps on someone
  3. Blocks the doorway
  4. Spits out bones after quickly sucking meat off what it has eaten
  5. Jumps on whoever has fire
  6. Faces of those around it show up in carvings on its body

Weakness: Fire

Defenses: Stonish skin, Surprise

Other Monsters

Captain Allston and his Senior Officers, vicious professional soldiers.


  1. Getting quickly into formation
  2. Offering mercy if you put your weapons down
  3. Striking down anyone who shows arcane skills
  4. Retreating efficiently when they are losing
  5. Closing ranks when one among their number falls
  6. Barking orders

Weakness: Arcane powers

Defenses: Well kept armor and well wrough weapons, Discipline


Lor, young necromancer with a posse of skeletons


  1. Bolts of black lightning rend flesh
  2. Sharpened bones pierce armor
  3. Nearby dead rise and begin fighting for him
  4. Offers mercy if you throw down weaposn and bow before him
  5. Sneers at anyone who practices arcane rituals, “Amateur!”
  6. A sharp dagger as a desperate last measure

Defenses: Necromancy (+1 Endurance to anyone who dies during battle)

Weaknesses: Close quarters combat


I always like to have the names for an adventure in one place

  • Gygax, the dead wizard
  • Braunstein, the dead necromancer
  • Lor, the cruel wizard
  • Captain Allston, mercenary captain
  • Elder Kay, village leader
  • Moldvay, elder, thief in Gygax’s original party
  • Tac, the owlbear, not named in the above text yet

I’m trying a thing.

Version 0.1 (not much different from this blog post) is now for sale on itch.io

More versions will be uploaded and the price will go up as the project develops.


Setting up camp – Altars and Shrines

The rituals from my childhood D&D games fascinate me. Setting up camp was one of them.

  • Was this going to be a place where we made a last stand?
  • Was this going to be a place we abandoned because of an attack we couldn’t defend?
  • Would we be meeting and welcoming a new friend, patron, enemy or deity by the fire?

The structure was familiar and comforting, even though the world all around our characters was dangerous and unknown.

The Travel Shrine

The travel shrine or travel altar can be a tree stump or an actual stone shrine, a folding table or just a clean bit of carpet with holy inscriptions laid out over dry ground. When you make camp for the night, before setting up watches, lighting the fire or eating, you set up your shrine. Everyone contributes something.

One could contribute an icon depicting a deity or saint. They might contribute a piece of vellum with a prayer or holy phrase or even a whole book or scroll. If they have lost someone important recently they might put one of their belongings on the shrine or an item commemorating an elder or ancestor.

The travel altar offers an aegis of protection. If a fellow traveler should offer their own icon on the altar should violate the trust of anyone else who has put down an icon it inspires the ire of every power invested. Being god-cursed is a terrible fate, though some bandits and thieves have been known to do their best to survive with a fell mark against them. Even refusing to sit and robbing those who have contributed to a travel shrine is known to bring about the anger and retribution of the icons represented.

Every character says something short about what that piece means to them. Over the course of the night one might talk about how two pieces on the shrine might interact or ask questions about an icon, remembrance or text. Discussions occur about how the different ideas interact. In this way, travel shrines and altars help mythologies become woven into one another as travelers talk under its aegis and make sense of one another’s ideas and traditions.

Of course this gets complicated. When larger retinues or even armies meet on the road. When larger groups meet before a traveling shrine there will often be a spiritual leader who represents each group. In these cases, sometimes this leader might put down several icons to represent the factions within their group or put down more remembrances if they have lost comrades on the road or in battles. Sometimes armies will put icons down for units who took heavy casualties or an icon for the unit or army’s patron saint. Sometimes an army that has been routed or a group of adventurers who have been decimated put down an icon for an incarnation of death.

Among smaller groups it is often a less complicated endeavor. Travelers have been known to use discussions around the shrines and altars to celebrate their comrade’s heroism or to take a moment to remember those who have fallen. It can be used to remember where they are going and why or what they learned from where they are coming from.

Around the shrines and altars powers have been known to offer visions and dreams; sometimes there is even a disguised or direct visitation.

Things to do at the Travel Altar:

  • Ask each other questions about your homes, backgrounds, families and cultures
  • Relate a story about the powers on the altar and how they relate to one another
  • Seek forgiveness from a comrade
  • Air a grievance before higher powers and your fellow travelers
  • Seek guidance from those around you and from higher powers
  • Remember a dead comrade


There are many different types of icons for the various deities, saints, elemental lords, devils, demons, angels, and more alien powers worshipped in these lands and beyond. If someone’s icons are lost, often they will search for material to make a new one, often taking the material they first find as a kind of calling towards that power.

The Spring Maiden (also known as the Spring Queen in some areas)
Made of corn husks and fresh grass.

The Winter Matron (also known as the Winter Queen or even the Death Queen in some areas)
Made of pine needles, oak roots, raven feathers and winter roses.

The Empress with Five Crowns (part of the dragon pantheon, you know Her name)
Made of five different minerals of varied local meaning.

The Platinum Emperor (you get the idea)
Made of copper, brass, silver, gold or even platinum – sometimes a cheaper mineral that seems like any of these colors.

The Arch-Mage
Made of intricately folded vellum into an origami wizard with arcane theories written all over it.

Patron Saint of Apprentices and Squires (often given a common name to that village or area)
Made of a scrap piece of leather or a carved dagger.

The Imperial Emperor (a Hobgoblin icon)
Made of melted down Hobgoblin coins.

The Eight Legged Empress
Made of spider silk and dried mushrooms.

The Devil-God
Made of a slim piece of black basalt with a crown on top.

Made of a slimy frog-shaped rock.



I wanted an in-game reason for characters to set time aside to palaver, discuss their deities and saints, celebrate each other’s heroism and toast the sacrifice of the dead. Inspired by the hero quests in Glorantha. What if myths changed in a more mundane way? What if myths were altered by people sitting around a fire in dangerous places talking about how their deities might interact.

Please let me know if it is helpful at your table.



The Planar Surveyors of the Spire Rail Company


I like the idea of the surveyors being Godbound characters. They have fun tools for outside-the-box problem solving.

I might swap out Artifice for Engineering from the Lexicon.

The Necropolis Architect

Artifice, Liche, Cities

A hired liche who was brought in not only for his ability to build but also to represent the dead and undead stakeholders.

The Rail-God

Earth, Alacrity, Journeying

A young deity tailor-made for this rail line. One day they will look over travelers and goods going over these rails but for now they oversee the path they take.

The Gunslinger

Bow (Gun), Alacrity, Murder

A hired demi-god of the gun, brought in to see to the safety of the survey team.

NOTE: I went with Murder from Lexicon of the Throne rather than Protection because it felt grittier.

Spawn of Tiamat and Bahamut

Dragon, Fire, Sorcery

Dragon investors wanted to make sure their hoards were well spent, so they sent this child of dragon deities to watch over the endeavor.

Dwarven Maker

Artificer, Earth, Endurance

The Dwarven Princes would like to profit from their goods sent all over the planes, and so they pledged their Maker-Deity

I’ve got a method for creating imbalances in the Outlands but I feel like this will need more.

I might do 1d4-1 cities in each map. I’ve got a way to create a fast relationship map among those cities.

History happened on this map, roll 1d6 and a 1d8

1 – Battle of Armies

  1. Devils vs. Demons
  2. Tiefling Empire vs. Dragonborn Federation
  3. Elves vs. Dwarves
  4. Elves and/or Dwarves vs. Orcs
  5. Dragons vs. Giants
  6. Wizards vs. Warlocks
  7. Githyanki vs. Githzarai,
  8. Primordials vs. First Gods

2 – Birth

  1. Deity
  2. Elemental Lord
  3. Beast Lord
  4. Mortal Hero
  5. Beast (your favorite monster)
  6. Idea
  7. Artifact
  8. Player character

3 – Death

  1. Devil
  2. Elemental Lord
  3. Beast Lord
  4. Mortal Hero
  5. Holy Martyr
  6. Deity
  7. Angel
  8. Someone a player-character killed.

4 – Sign of Collapse

  1. Illithid Empire
  2. The Ancient Giants
  3. Primordials
  4. Dragonlords
  5. Liche Undead Empire
  6. Hobgoblin Empire
  7. Dinosaur Pantheon
  8. Fey folk from long ago

5 – Mythic Clash

  1. Gith vs. Illithid
  2. Corellon vs. Gruumsh
  3. Bahamut vs. Tiamat
  4. Correllon vs. Lloth
  5. Raven Queen vs. Vecna
  6. Vecna vs. Kaz
  7. Sun vs. Sea
  8. Night vs. Day

6 – Odds and Ends

  1. Bottomless pit that leads to hell
  2. Howling gate into the Far Realms
  3. Sword the size of a skyscraper buried in a mountain
  4. Ghosts re-enacting an ancient, petty battle
  5. Wizard’s Tower, reputation as a god-killer
  6. Crashed Spelljammer capital ship
  7. Pilgrims, following a holy path
  8. Site where a player-character did something epic and it is remembered here.

SWN: The Taking of Free Trader Grandma’s Trusty Rifle

This e-mail was sent to the folks I game with after our last session, as mentioned in Episode 15 of Daydreaming About Dragons.

SWN Galaxy Breaker


Everyone present take 4 XP for the past session. Good plan, good execution. Good stuff.

I knew they had a Big Fucking Gun out of the box but wasn’t sure how they’d set it up. The way you guys posed as a Veluriuan family ship really changed the way I thought that whole thing would go.
SWN Galaxy Breaker


Witt and I had a miscommunication about the Gudradim hunter who works for the Valerius family. She is not the traitor Strachan is hunting. She is a different person all together. Sorry for the confusion.

RIP Mubarak.

If we ever have a game where we have absences and don’t want to move on without everyone present we will play a game on board the Free Trader Mubarak, the haunted ship under Captain Agrippa Horatius.

SWN Galaxy Breaker


Mechanics I want to write-up:

  • Buying things using Astral Dragon Money (inspired by Burning Wheel’s resource dice)
  • Making tech in the lab (inspired by the Saavyhead’s Workplace move in Apocalypse World)
  • Experience point lists (inspired by Blades in the Dark)
    Ammo checks (inspired by usage die in old school D&D games)

SWN Galaxy Breaker


You got over a dozen crates containing the parts for six complete Storm armors as worn by the Guevaran Hegemony Space Marine Squads along with diagnostic support stations and replacement parts. These are the type of armor worn by Lalita Space Marines during the Battle of Forest 164 in the bloodiest battle against the Crick. There currently are not any companies nor governments producing these in this system.

In most systems using these in acts of violence without the proper paperwork is considered an act of terrorism.

Keeping these in fighting shape is really difficult. Space Marine squads have 3 Warfare Engineers for every one door-kicking devil dog wearing one of these brutal machines on the battlefield. There will be mechanics to show this.

SWN Galaxy Breaker

P.S. It looks like that armor pic (not shown above but in the link) is by Kai Lim.

SWN Galaxy Breaker



 Image taken from page 645 of ‘L’Espace céleste et la nature tropicale, description physique de l’univers … préface de M. Babinet, dessins de Yan’ Dargent’ by The British Library
Via Flickr:
Image taken from: Title: “L’Espace céleste et la nature tropicale, description physique de l’univers … préface de M. Babinet, dessins de Yan’ Dargent” Author: Liais, Emmanuel Contributor: BABINET, Jacques. Contributor: DARGENT, Jean Édouard – calling himself Yan’ Dargent Shelfmark: “British Library HMNTS 10003.d.10.” Page: 645 Place of Publishing: Paris Date of Publishing: 1866 Issuance: monographic Identifier: 002161070 Explore: Find this item in the British Library catalogue, ‘Explore’. Download the PDF for this book (volume: 0) Image found on book scan 645 (NB not necessarily a page number) Download the OCR-derived text for this volume: (plain text) or (json)Click here to see all the illustrations in this book and click here to browse other illustrations published in books in the same year. Order a higher quality version from here.

Questions and Hex Describe

I was talking to Alex on Mastadon and he asked me to put the following on my blog to save it from the G+calypse:

I was thinking about the classes in the game and questions to ask the players during character creation while dice are hitting the table, chips are being laid out or just when there is quiet moment in play.

Which heresy vexes you the most?

When did you hear your calling from your deity?

What slaughter have you perpetrated that still haunts your dreams?

When you get to hell, who do you hope is waiting for you there?

How did you learn magic and what happened to the person, institution or otherworldly force that bestowed the ability to carry spells in your brain upon you?

In what way are you damned for practicing magic?

Tell me what your character loves about adventuring.

What the hell led you to this life? Boredom? Greed? Idle curiosity?

Who taught you your skills?

Every dwarven family has some terrible kinstrife feud at its heart. Tell me something about yours.

What extraordinary happenstance caused your parents to rut and give birth to you?

What do you miss most from home? What did you bring from home to make the big, cruel world seem less cold?

Why did you leave the comfort for a life of adventuring?

What have you heard about your faery home, far from this muddy shit-hole of a world (possibly heard from the eldest in your Elf enclave or a wanderer you met on the road)?

What do you hate most and love most about these humans?

What is something you regularly do (or don’t do) that is inhuman?

This is a technique that I first saw made concrete in Apocalypse World and thought it would be neat to hear a player’s thoughts on their character before the cruel LotFP world destroys, mutates and corrupts them into whatever they end up becoming.

(Editing Note: Thank you, +Jason Morningstar for the solid edits on the last Specialist and Magic-User questions.)

Alex recorded a podcast about these questions too.

While we’re here you might as well check out his site that generates hex descriptions: Hex Describe.

It made this: Hex Describe hexes.


Some descriptions it generated:

0105: The dry lands up here are the hunting grounds of a manticore called Bastard of Envy living in the ruins of an old tower.

1308: These mountains are called the Sharp Giants. Fissures lead into the depth of the
mountain and in the warm chambers below there sleeps the red dragon Red Agony of the Deeps.

2007: On one of the hills of Black Forest stands an old tower overlooking the lands below.
This is the home of a manticore called Old Hate. This is where the spring of Eurfron’s
Brooklet is.

0307: The green valley up here has some sheep and a kid called Gil guarding
them. This is where the spring of Blood Brook is.




Finding an old, lost world…

On a whim I posted a recycled old idea, one of the ideas I sent for the old WOTC Setting Contest years ago. A friend posted an interested reply, which sent me into the depths of my Google Drive, uncovering Anthropa:

Anthropa is the fantasy world of anthropomorphic Animals, Magical Beasts and Aberrations struggling in their newfound society as remnants of humanity’s civilization crumbles around them.

Animals, Aberrations and Magical Beasts of the Monster Manual walk on two legs.  Examples of heroes found in Anthropa are the Psionic Ape Councilors of the Feathered Serpent, the Griffon Barbarians of the Black Glass Mountains and even the Rat Rogues, who skulk under the haunted cities of extinct humanity looking for hidden artifacts or just some chow. The hunter who looks for more than just a meal and a mate, the herdsman yearning for something more than merely safety and green grass, or in the Magical Beasts who rise up and fight against the Aberrations all heed the call of heroism.

Unicorn Paladins take up sword and shield against the thousand knives of Carrion Crawler Assassins. Dire Lords struggle to feed an empire of carnivores. The Feathered Serpent to the south rules a jungle empire from atop his Golden Pyramid.  Beasts act out the primal drama of their former four-legged existence while struggling with their newfound humanity.  Deer arm themselves against Wolf pack violence with the very bows and arrows that hunted their stags in the old world.  The line between hunter and prey has become complicated.  Tomb-like cities contain magic, remnants of a lost age, clues concerning mankind’s extinction.       

Nightmare Blackguards conspire with Yeth Hound Sorcerers on moonless nights. The Dire Lords mercilessly hunt Herdsfolk for food as they did when they walked on four legs. Aboleth use their stolen memories of the old world to scheme and enslave. Driders and the Panther-like Displacers pour out of the Underdark reaping sacrifices for their Spider-Queen. Beasts twisted with an evil lust for power gather in their rotting fortress, Tarrasque.

There still exist provincial herdsfolk who foolishly believe that Unicorns are tales told by drunken Horses and that Dragons are myths. Nonetheless, former Wizards’ familiars teach the magicks of their now dead masters. Some say this Arcane meddling is unnatural and will bring the Doom of the Humans upon all of Beastkind.

Anthropa allows its players to bring their favorite mundane or mythical animals to vivid life. It is a fantastic world of high adventure that invokes the work of Brian Jaques’ Redwall, Robert Adam’s Watership Down and Stan Sakai’s Yusagi Yojimbo while putting their textures and themes in a high fantasy context. Sword and sorcery meets hoof and horn.

I had forgotten this thing existed, hadn’t touched it in 6 years.

lion v unicorn

The picture above is from a scroll from the Dire Lords hunting grounds. See how they depict the unicorn as the extinct humans depicted them in their ancient tapestries, 4-legged and full of herd-fear.

I kind of want to use Knave to play it. Maybe species just allows you an Advantage Die under very specific circumstances or a special power.

Predator: When chasing an enemy or a group you gain an advantage die

Prey: When running from an enemy or looking for an ambush you gain an advantage die

Carrion-eater: When you eat the dead they tell you a secret

Familiar: Start with an advantaged extra roll on the arcane items table (roll twice, take your preferred result)

Unicorn: You can use your horn to Cure Poison as many times per day as your Wisdom bonus +1.


Don’t throw anything away.

Be kind to your past self.

Don’t go extinct.

Not bad for an off-hand tweet I wrote up because I couldn’t sleep.





Art and Picture Collection, The New York Public Library. “T U V.” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1911. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/6b26eaac-2bb6-1da7-e040-e00a18062258