Burning Wheel GM Apprenticeship

3 players at the table. Each player chooses one pair they like.

BW battle


Situation: The dukes are going to war and your manor is right on he border of two rival dukes on opposite sides. You must choose.


Situation: Your duke is going to war and is calling their sorcerer to their side. Your master was a trusted adviser and lived on the ducal estates but his children were raised in a religion that sees sorcery as sin. Will you answer the call?

Lady/Young Lady

Situation: The dukes are about to go to war, your castles are where these wars have historically begun and your lord is about to make a series of disastrous decisions that could get your noble house wiped from the ducal lists.


Situation: The dukes are at war and you must decide how the holy knighthoods will arrange themselves so that the church will best benefit.


Situation: Fucking dukes are feuding and your city is under siege. Gather food or make a run for it?

Bandit/Desperate Killer

Situation: The nobles are at war. The knights are busy. Time to profit.


What’s this now?

One person GM’s, other 2 players play characters. Rotate these roles as you come to satisfying chapter ends. All in the same world. Think of chapter-change-of-POV fantasy novels. Everyone should take turns GMing, playing the senior character and playing the junior character.

Rotate back, make sure everyone gets to play the tutor and the learner. Mix it up as needed. Things are going to get complicated. Lore for the world and an expansive list of NPC’s is going to get generated quickly.

The goal of this is to mix up the GMing so everyone gets a chance to GM for a small group. I would have never gotten the hang of running a game as dense as Burning Wheel if it wasn’t for the amazing players at my table helping me with rules questions. Right into my 20’s I told everyone I had no head for game systems.

If more people are going to GM, we have to set up games to help teach and mentor them to do so. It takes a table to run a game.

After some conversations about the mentoring that went into getting me to take up the GM’s seat back in the day and reflection on the people who have helped me get better at it over the years. I found myself wondering if we could structure games specifically so that the GM’s role is both modeled and handed over to our friends, hoping to de-mystify the process.



The Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs: Print Collection, The New York Public Library. “The Two Armies” The New York Public Library Digital Collections. 1530. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/d576ac40-e6d6-0132-8b89-58d385a7bbd0

Blades in the Dark: The Last Red Maid


The Red Maids were a group of chambermaids who turned to crime. Like so many gangs, they gathered too much heat too quickly. Because their enemies were among Brightstone’s and even Whitecrown’s elite and not yet among their fellow criminals, scoundrels still speak fondly of them as both a cautionary tale and a kind of heroic tragedy.

When their crime spree was over Brightstone was said to be painted blood red. The gang’s leader, Scar, was hanged under charges of witchcraft and the rest were put in prison by an over-zealous magistrate under heavy pressure from the City Council.

Forty years later and the only surviving member of the gang is getting out, not because of any mercy but because everyone in power has forgotten.  Scoundrels all over the city want to recruit her as she leaves Ironhook. None even remember her real name, only her street nickname.

What playbook was she?

  • Cutter: Bloody Mary
  • Hound: The Wolf Crone
  • Leech: Dr. Scarlet
  • Lurk: The Old Shadow
  • Slide: The Red Masque
  • Spider: Spinner Scarlet
  • Whisper: The Red Matron

There are barroom arguments, did she kill more people on the streets of Duskwall or while serving time in Ironhook?


This isn’t so much about one character getting out of Ironhook but as something new being added to the scoundrel’s underworld that acts as a spark. This is a fun way to have gangs compete over something that isn’t too high stakes. Of course, some gangs are going to claim their gang has some lineage leading straight to he Red Maidens, making their claim on this wise old-timer more than another or perhaps she has a link to a solid score that everyone wants, some money the Red Maids stowed before they made their valiant and foolish last stand.

Can your gang outbid and out-maneuver the other gangs and get this elder scoundrel to try life on the streets again?

Inspired by Season 5 of the Sopranos.


General Research Division, The New York Public Library. “TheExecution of Cook and Coppock… Charlestown, Va.” New York Public Library Digital Collections. Accessed January 5, 2018. http://digitalcollections.nypl.org/items/c7b1c6e0-eb12-012f-a413-58d385a7b928

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


Exiled by the Emperor (Inspired by Renegade Crowns)

The Emperor and the Grand Theogonist have found your family guilty on charges of being Chaos Tainted.  Your house is exiled, sent to the lawless Borderlands due to Sigmar’s mercy. At best you will establish your ducal house as a Border Prince and maybe marry your children back into the Empire. At worst your house will fall under bandits, orc or Chaos Cults that all flourish in the Borderlands.



  • Write a Belief about the first thing you want to get done to insure your family’s survival in the Borderlands.
  • Write a belief about something you will ask of your wife to help you lead the family.
  • Write a belief about Chaos and how you feel about it upon being exiled from the Empire or about how you will make sure your children survive out here.



  • Write a belief about how you will have to model change so that your family survives this dangerous transition into this dangerous place.
  • Write a belief about something you will make sure your children learn so they survive.
  • Write a belief about something your family needs to acquire to help them flourish and become established as a Border Principality.

Eldest Son


  • Write a belief about a heroic deed you want to accomplish to prove to your parents that you are not a child anymore.
  • Write a belief about something you will learn so you will be more valuable to the family.
  • Write a belief about being protective of your sister as she becomes more martial or about how your sister has protected you in the past.

Eldest Daughter


  • Write a belief about something ancient and dangerous that you want to seek out and learn more about in the Borderlands.
  • Write a belief about something you need to teach your brother before he gets himself killed.
  • Write a belief about something you need to learn from your mother or father to survive the Borderlands.

This is inspired by Renegade Crowns, a fine tool for creating your own Borderlands sandbox. There were those lines in Dune where Lady Jessica talks about becoming a renegade house. I always liked that idea and thought it would make a fine set-up for a game.



Froghemoth Flats

This place has been in last year’s journal as an ugly map drawn while bouncing on a subway train. I picked up Wonderdraft and played with it and here we are. I’ve been trying to get bits and pieces from the journals I walk around with every day in my bag into blog posts and typed documents.

Froghemoth Flats 10.20.18 (2)

Using JRients’ twenty quick questions for your campaign setting

What is the deal with my cleric’s religion?

Which incarnation of the Queen do you have most prominently on your altar? The Olde Queen, honoring the dead, the old ways, family, clan, and tradition perhaps. Some are rallying around this shepherd girl among the forts, saying she is the New Queen or the Young Queen. She is preaching about birth and spring and new ways that make the elders uncomfortable. Most are blending the two. Perhaps you are one of those odd birds who has moved the Queens to the far side of your altar and has a lump of rock in the shape of the Frog God.

Prominent figures on local altars: The Arch-Duchess, The Olde Queen, the New Queen, the Frog God and a host of other gods brought from afar.

Think hard when you make camp and set up your altar for the night – how do you arrange them?

Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

Edwinae Cwen has fine merchants but most of the villages in the unmapped North Country will offer goods and the Shepherd Forts are well stocked.

Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

Edwinae Cwen is probably the only city big enough but as adventurers flood in to the forts to hunt frogs and search out the 9th Warlock’s Ruins their smiths might grow more skilled and more bold.

Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

Even in death the 9th Warlock casts a heavy shadow over the arcane landscape. Young Bibiz is gathering young and arcane minded scholars in Edwinae Cwen, trying to offer wizardly arts more regimented and organized than the Barrow Hills’ druids and the north country’s bardic traditions.

Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

Some day the chief of the Wyvern Riders and the best archer of the Shepherd Forts will do battle and whoever wins will have their name written in stone as the best soldier of this generation.

Who is the richest person in the land?

Master Unstin hasn’t thatched a roof in years but he leveraged his money and influence as the Chief of the Thatcher’s Guild to set up a mercantile enterprise, marrying into a family of drovers and wheelrights, running crops to the dwarven holdfasts in the mountains and running back beard-made tools and even some weapons.

Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Some roadside altars have a priest but there hasn’t been a proper temple since the Olde Queen’s cathedral was lost in the flood. The druids will heal you in the hills if you can pay their price.

Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

The Barrow Hill Druids might do much of that but it will cost you. There are paladins and clerics among the forts, cleaning out otherworldly influences from the flats, seeking to once and for all purify the Warlock’s ruins.

Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

The young, ambitious wizards in Edwinae Cwen are setting up a guild and might even try to have their charter recognized by the magocracy to the south or the sorcerer-kings in the east. Get in on this endeavor on the ground floor, I say.

Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

Edwinae Cwen has some fine scholars and some crackpots whose ideas were laughed out of older cities whose roots reach deep into the earth and whose walls still bear scars from ancient wars. The forts has a few arcanists who seem to think the frogs in the Flats are from another world.

Where can I hire mercenaries?

There are always highlanders in the Barrow Hills who are hungry to spill blood and prove themselves before seeking out their wyvern. The forts has adventurers aplenty. Folk in these parts grow weary of any armed party larger than a dozen. Many fought in the ducal feuds of the past decade. The last war this land saw was an ancient one between Giants and Dragons – folk are likely to keep it that way.

Lake Country has its manor knights and occasionally you’ll find a group of squires or even a knight willing to hire out and guard you for a time but they’re known for being as homesick as they are romantic.

Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

The highlanders are known to distrust wizards, warlocks and sorcerers of all stripes but they don’t have any laws against it until a spell leaves a scar or wound that isn’t healed in a fortnight.

Which way to the nearest tavern?

Most villages have a public house where the brewer or ciderist makes their home. Edwinae Cwen has fine inn’s and taverns of every stripe to deal with the influx of people who are making their way to these lands. The forts have shacks with tin cups nailed above the doorways where you can get liquor that might give you dreams of ancient days when the Warlock made war against the Dragon – more likely you’ll end up half-blind or married to a local.

What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

The flats have their frogs. The mountains have orc and goblins and kobold aplenty. The Barrow Hills have wyverns but the highlanders consider them holy creatures, gifts left to them via their pact with the Olde Queen. Some say the mountains hold a dragon somewhere but none are sure where. If that rumor grows the rush of new folk will become a full-on boom.

Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Are the hobgoblin scouts an indicator of the Imperials coming south?

Will the New Queen gather her forces and attempt to collect on the Barrow Pact as is her due if she truly is the reincarnation of the Olde Queen?

Will the Northern Villages band together and get desperate enough to raid the Shepherd Forts?

Arm up and find out. Let me know how that goes for you.

How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

The Druids are always holding ritual combats so young highlanders who want to ride a wyvern can be blooded and make their attempt. If you want blood, they’ll feed it to you.

Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

Frog Cultists among the shepherds.

Warlock Messianics among the highlanders.

Dragon dreamers among the villages.

Even royalists who think these lands belong to some faraway duke if you want to get really shitty about it.

What is there to eat around here?

Goat stew is the recipe every area has a version of and thinks they do best.

Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

The Warlock’s kit is said to be around. He was known for going into battle with sword and shield. Is it true there is statue of the Frog God with mouth that is a gate to a Chaos Realm somewhere in the Flats?

The Olde Queen’s barrow is said to be full of riches and her thane’s named weapons but you’d have to fight past angry highlanders and their wyvern-riders at the very least.

Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

Scholars and bards insist that there is a dragon out there in the mountains who has been sleeping since the Giants hired mercenaries from the Fiendlands who were led by the 9th Warlock. If that is true, there is an ancient one out there among the orc and griffons and owlbears.

Froghemoth Flats

fetid swamp, chaos infected, amphibious god

2: Froghemoth

1-2 it is asking for your worship

3-4 it is hungry for something/someone you have

5-6 it is angry and is lashing out

3: A highlands Wyvern Rider is flying overhead

1-2 they are hunting the Froghemoth but hasn’t caught its trail

3-4 they were just in battle with the Froghemoth and it was a draw

5-6 they just helped some lost fools get out of a mud whirlpool

4: A giant mosquito swarm

1-2 buzzing around a goat, taking its blood, and hasn’t noticed you yet

3-4 smell your blood and are beginning to get agitated and hungry

5-6 are coming for you in bloodlust

5: Bullywug hunting party

1-2 have you prayed to the Froghemoth are placed it on your altar? If so, they are here to help, if not they are here to eat your skin

3-4 they are taking the pieces of a recent kill, a giant mosquito, back to their people

5-6 they are in a complicated rite to the Froghemoth to make their hunt plentiful

6: Mud whirlpool

1-2 geological anomaly sucking you down into the muck

3-4 mud maw is inhaling, trying to swallow you everything around you

5-6 early signs of a mud whirlpool are showing – air bubbles and giant insects – the whirlpool will begin in 1d3 days in this area

7: Tomb raiders

1-2, on their way in with nothing but equipment and hope

3-4 on their way out with nothing but scars and pain

5-6 on their way out with treasures and tragic tales of lost comrades

8: Shepherds

1-2 here to find their lost goat

3-4 here with an offering to the Froghemoth (1-2 a person, 3-4 a goat, 5-6 gold)

5-6 here to check their giant mosquito traps

9: Alligator, Giant

1-2 it is pretending to be a log, laying in wait for easy prey

3-4 it is content gnawing on a swamp goat

5-6 it is fiercely protective of a nearby clutch of eggs

10: Lizardfolk hunting party

1-2 it is getting cold and they are looking for a place to sleep

3-4 they are sunning themselves on some flat rocks

5-6 they are laying in wait, patiently covered in mud, waiting for the players to get close to their bait

11: Fiendlands adventuring party

1d6+1 Tieflings looking for the 9th Warlock

1-2 they have an ancient map that will guide them through the old spells that hide the ruins

3-4 they are lost, tried and fucking frustrated with this shit-hole

5-6 have left their allies at the ruins and are looking around a bit – considering settling down here and claiming the surrounding lands based on the 9th Warlock’s old boundaries

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry

Elfstone Border

restless forest, ancient warning, capricious immortals

2: Emissary from the Elf Queen

1-2 we come with gifts for the New Queen

3-4 we come with demands for continuing peace

5-6 we come to visit our friend, the Olde Queen

3: Satyr Raiding Party

1-2 the raid is on, let’s steal everything that isn’t nailed down

3-4 the raid is over, let’s party and compare treasures

5-6 butting heads, deciding where to raid and what to steal

4: Ent-moot

1-2 humans need our wisdom, send an envoy to the Druids, let’s not be hasty and choose the perfect messenger

3-5 humans are an annoyance we can tolerate for a while longer

6 humans suck, summon the ents to war

5: Blink dog pack

1-2 protective of newborn pups

3-4 hunting a wounded lion

5-6 driving you away from their elf kennel-master, mortally wounded and out of sight nearby

6: Fey-blooded scholars

1-2 we’re huddled around an elfstone and are in awe of some minutiae

3-4 we’ve found an old battlefield and are gathering old arrowheads and bones

5-6 we’ve found something big and don’t want you to know about it

7: Treasure hunters

1-2 on their way in with nothing but equipment and hope

3-4 on their way out with nothing but scars and pain

5-6 on their way out with treasures and tragic tales of lost comrades

8: Lion(s)

1-2 lone lion on the hunt

3-4 pride on the hunt (1d3+1 lions)

5-6 pride at rest around a watering hole (2d3+1 lions)

9: Human trespassers, back after a century in fey country

1-2 we’re a mess but docile

3-4 we’re a mess and could easily tip towards violence

5-6 we’re a mess and are looking for someone to follow

10: Elf patrol

2d4 of the haughty bastards

1-2 you younglings need to be taught a lesson with arrows and spears

3-4 you folk are such noble savages!

5-6 someone stole from us and we’re on the hunt (roll again if you want to know who stole from them)

11: Elf exiles

1-2 thieves

3-4 kinslayers

5-6 devil-worshippers

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry

Barrow Hills

green hills, haunted barrows, restless dead

2: Vampire Lord, former consort to the Olde Queen

1-2 hungry, filthy, newly awakened

3-4 with a merchant family posing as a servant for now

5-6 armored and armed, resplendent in all of his glory, riding an undead wyvern steed

3: Arch-Druid

1-2 was guided here by the Olde Queen to offer you all some wisdom

3-4 is fighting a young upstart who wants the position for their own

5-6 is here with 1d6 druids and 1d3-1 Wyvern Riders to offer you a strong rebuke from a past deed or if no past deeds work, something came up in a recent divination

4: Ghoul pack

1-2 eating a caravan they ambushed – content and lazy from eating all this fresh meat

3-4 hungry, jackal-eyed and on your trail

5-6 hungry, jackal-eyed but you are on their trail

5: Highlanders

1-2 on their way to a wedding

3-4 on their way to a funeral

5-6 on their way to call up a feud

6: Lowlanders

1-2 here to trade their goods with the highlanders

3-4 here to visit a relative who married into a local clan

5-6 here to pay a wyvern-rider to get a loved one taken in a raid

7: Treasure hunters

1-2, on their way in with nothing but equipment and hope

3-4 on their way out with nothing but scars and pain

5-6 on their way out with treasures and tragic tales of lost comrades

8: Highland Shepherds

1-2 moving their herd into a valley

3-4 moving the herd they got from raiding the lowlands back to their lands

5-6 going to talk to the local wyvern rider because a griffon is eating their herd as we speak and their sling stones are just pissing it off

9: Druid procession

1-2 enacting an ancient ritual that cannot be interrupted without dire consequences

3-4 enacting an ancient ritual that has a place for outlanders stepping in, welcoming them

5-6 hunting a runaway acolyte who is attempting to get to the lowlands with their secrets

10: Highlander, hunting down their wyvern steed

1-2 has tracked a big one to a nearby nest

3-4 is half starved and lost – being chased by a pack of ghouls

5-6 lost the track of a wyvern they almost saddled and now is being hunted by it

11: Wyvern Rider

1-2 patrolling the lands under their watch, stopping to talk to you

3-4 looking for a lowland trespasser

5-6 on the hunt (1-2 griffon, 3-4 rival wyvern rider, 5 manticore, 6 dragon)

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry


unforgiving stone, lairs upon lairs, fell hunters

2: A manticore is not stalking prey but it is looking for servants.

1-2 orc are on its mind

3-4 trying to decide between feuding posses of kobolds and goblins

5-6 it has its heart set on your all to be its agents in the lowlands

3: Wizard posse from Edwinae Cwen, here to find a wizards’ tower lost to history, said to belong to one of the Olde Queen’s most trusted counselors

1-2 They have read the signs correctly and will reach one of the lost towers in 3d6 days.

3-4 They have no idea where they are or the meaning behind the scrolls that launched their expedition

5-6 They have badly misread some scrolls and are en route to the dragon’s lair.

4: An owlbear is upon you

1-2 it attacks as it is being driven mad with pain with a kobold bear-trap caught on its leg

3-4 if there is a wizard in the party the owlbear attacks the other members of the party, thinking it is saving the wizard from their aggression unless the wizard makes otherwise very clear

5-6 the wizard who raised the owlbear’s corpse is nearby in a dry streambed and the owlbear is protecting it

5: Orc hunting party

1-2, returning home a mess of claw and spike wounds after having tangled with a manticore

3-4 on the trail of rival orcs

5-6 on your trail, of course – if you just got here, their never-sleeping, one-eyed scry-god must’ve told them of your coming through a priest

6: Goblin riot

2d6x10 Goblins

1-4, they are infighting, tearing each other apart and will cut their own numbers in half in 3 rounds as long as their attention isn’t diverted

5-6 they are coming after you all with the bloodlust of a horde of rabid toddlers

7: Wannabe Dragonslayers

1-2, on their way in with nothing but equipment and hope

3-4 on their way out with nothing but burn-scars and pain

5-6 on their way out with treasures, singed eyebrows and tragic tales of lost comrades

8: Kobold trap grove

1-2 classic covered spiked pit

3-4 the old exploding tree

5-6 half dead human nailed to a good ambush spot

9: Hobgoblin Imperial scouting party

1-2 they are looking for word of the dragon

3-4 they are primarily here to assess the Northern Village’s defenses

5-6 they are here to find a site to erect a fort

10: Orc-hunters

1-2 elves from beyond the border here to playfully collect some orc heads

3-4 young Highlanders out to be blooded

5-6 dwarven veterans – cold and furious

11: The most famous knight all the way from Lake Country with squires, pages, a bard and servants, here to see the mountains

1-2 here with a false map to the dragon’s lair

3-4 with a token to trade for weapons with the dwarves

5 with a piece of a true map to the dragon’s lair but needs more

6 here to die in the mountains from a wasting sickness

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry

Lake Country

idyllic landscape, unplumbed depths, naiads and knights

(Thank you, twitter-friends…)

2: Water Elemental Lord

1-2 Confused, remembering a time when this was all under primeval ocean-water

3-4 Caught in a powerful summoning circle prison, dead wizard who made the summons nearby.

5-6 Angry at how the ancient rites have slipped

3:  Nyad, known as The Arch-Duchess, showing up more and more on local altars:

1-2 diving from cliffs into nearby water, enjoying the water with her hand-maidens

3-4 armored up with her hand-maidens in full war mode looking for a criminal who broke one of her laws (can roll again to see who she is looking for, if you roll 3 she is looking for a rogue hand-maiden)

5-6 is holding court, listening to locals bringing disputes to for her judgment

4: Gnomish traders offering

1-2 total garbage made beautiful through illusion

3-4 solid goods made even more useful through illusion

5-6 magic items that allow users to utilize illusions to their advantage

5: Series of ancient wells in a verdant glade

1-3 friendly water weirds who seek to collect ancient tolls for the water

4-6 hungry water weirds looking to destroy any drinkers, bones are in the grass around the wells upon any kind of close inspection

6: Knight and small retinue

1-2 Collecting taxes

3-4 Fishing trip

5-6 Tracking down bandits (if the players have committed banditry it is them)

7: Fisher-folk

1-4 Fishing

5 Looking for drowned loved one

6 Beaten after bandit attack

8: Giants spiders with goblin servants

1-2 moving their communal webs, migrating with the giant bugs

3-4 eating a (1 – goat/2 – squire/ 3 – cougar/ 4 – gnome / 5 – 6 giant mosquito)

5-6 hunting you

9: Bandits

1 They ask you to hand over your valuables and be on your way.

2-5 They offer to be your guides for a reasonable wage, only robbing you by force if you refuse.

6 They shoot first, planning to rob your corpses.

10: Wizards from Edniwae Cwen

1-2 hoping to study the bottomless lakes, perhaps find a gate to elemental planes of water

3-4 here to study and/or pillage the courts of the Arch-Duchess, a powerful local naiad who is growing in power and prominence in the area

5-6 here to serve as manor wizards to local knights, hoping to create a bond between the Lake Country and the newfound wizard’s guild in Edniwae Cwen

11: Priests on pilgrimage from a faraway archipelago, to see ancient altars to ancient elemental waterlords

1-2 “Have you heard the good news? The Great Tide is coming!”

3-4 “We are lost and would appreciate your help.”

5-6 “From water you were born and so with time will the waves pound your flesh and even the stones of your tomb into insignificant sand.”

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry

Along the River

spine, life’s currents death’s floods, from dragon to Froghemoth

2: The New Queen with a full retinue of her honor guard, the Saint’s Sisters

1-2 preaching, offering simple but beautiful statues for local altars made from local slate.

3-4 in the midst of a sermon to local river-folk, discussing theology, debating orthodoxy

5-6 in battle against those who think her and her folk heretics (roll again to see who her enemies are)

3: Wizard posse from Edwinae Cwen

1-2 taking a survey of river altars to see how it might effect power of the Froghemoth

3-4 looking at river-banks with engineers to see if future floods can be prevented to protect the city

5-6 on their way south to hunt for the 9th Warlock’s Ruins and to recruit from adventuring wizards to the new wizard’s guild in Edwinae Cwen

4: Gnomish traders offering

1-2 total garbage made beautiful through illusion

3-4 solid goods made even more useful through illusion

5-6 magic items that allow users to utilize illusions to their advantage

5: River Pirates

1-2 dividing loot after a score

3-4 in hiding, looking to take a barge coming downstream from Edniwae Cwen

5-6 recruiting, looking to bring the players in on an upcoming big score that demands more muscle

6: Knight and small retinue going to or from Edniwae Cwen to 

1-2 purchase warhorses

3-4 sell smoked and pickled lake fish

5-6 tracking down bandits (if the players have committed banditry it is them)

7: Adventurers

1-2, on their way in with nothing but equipment and hope

3-4 on their way out with nothing but scars and pain

5-6 on their way out with treasures and tragic tales of lost comrades

8: River-folk

1-4 Fishing

5 Looking for drowned loved one

6 Beaten after river-pirate attack

9: Fiendlands adventuring party

1d6+1 Tieflings looking for the 9th Warlock Ruins

1-2 they have an ancient map that will guide them through the old spells that hide the ruins

3-4 they are lost, tried and fucking frustrated with this shit-hole

5-6 have left their allies at the ruins and are looking around a bit – considering settling down here and claiming the surrounding lands based on the 9th Warlock’s old boundaries

10: Lizardfolk hunting party

1-2 it is getting cold and they are looking for a place to sleep

3-4 they are sunning themselves on some flat rocks

5-6 they are laying in wait, patiently covered in mud, waiting for the players to get close to their bait

11: Wyvern Rider patrolling the river

1-2 looking for river pirates

3-4 looking for a safe place to land their wounded steed

5-6 on the hunt (1-2 Froghemoth, 3-4 rival wyvern rider, 5 manticore, 6 dragon)

12: Dragon

1-2 hasn’t seen you yet

3-4 has your scent but isn’t sure exactly where you are

5-6 has you in its sights and is hungry

Need to grab some cool Old English words? This link is what I used for that.

But you didn’t make a table for the Northern Villages!

I’d just use a mix of mountains and Barrow Hills.

But you didn’t make a table for Edniwae Cwen!

I would’ve just gone with a straight 1d10 with lots of items from various tables and some odd shit that only shows up in metropolitan areas like minotaur who want to discuss their religion in which every decision in your life is a turn the labyrinth of your life or kobold masons who have turned their trap-making skills into building the city’s foundations. Add whatever odd shit you’d want to see in your fantasy; it all flocks to the city first.

Why are 12’s always dragons?

It was inspired by this post by Beloche Strike.

Planescape: Imbalance in the Outlands

There is an imbalance in a village in the Outlands where the Inner Planes and the Outer Planes meet in a kind of mess, like when saltwater and fresh-water meet in a brackish swamp but instead of water it is ideas and rather than mud you get raw elements charged with ancient passions.

Roll 3d8.

Inner Planes

  1. Lightning, Air and/or Vacuum
  2. Ice
  3. Steam, Water and/or Salt
  4. Ooze
  5. Mineral, Dust and/or Earth
  6. Magma
  7. Radiance, Fire and/or Ash
  8. Smoke

Outer Planes

  1. Law
  2. Good
  3. Chaos
  4. Evil
  5. Mechanical
  6. Magical
  7. Balance, True Neutrality
  8. Alien Far Realms

Wild Card

  1. Blood War spill-over
  2. Prime Material yokel nonsense
  3. Tides of the Astral Sea
  4. Reflective Glare from the Mirror Plane
  5. Demi-Plane of Dread Creepiness
  6. Realm of Dreams
  7. Big city interference from the hub
  8. Shadow Realms Obfuscation

These are the planes where elements and philosophy crash into one another causing alien landscapes to be born. Magma growing solid might be the cooling of an ancient feud. Salt might be preserving ideas that were better abandoned and decayed.

7, 2, 4

Radiance, Fire and/or Ash, Good, Mirror Plane

In the lovely village of Iggen every fire in the town has become a portal into the mirror plane, showing people their greatest good deeds. Some folk are walking into these fire, catching aflame and also destroying that moment in the past when they did good. People’s memories are becoming infested with fiery reflections of those who offered them kindness, screaming from the fire they walked through to get there.

4, 7, 3

Ooze, Balance, Tides of the Astral Sea

Usawa is a swamp-town in the middle of nowhere, poised on the edge of the Astral Sea but without a deep enough body of water to be a port without serious arcane-industrial dredging that none are willing to do. Lately, pieces of an ancient religion dedicated to a dead True Neutral Druid-Deity have been washing ashore in a state of perfect balance. When these ancient wrought-iron tools are exposed to any act of good, evil, law or chaos they become dangerous cursed, turning their wielder into agents of an ancient hunting pack designed to keep balance in a newborn universe.

Brushed up on the planes with this wikipedia article, Plane (Dungeons & Dragons)