Not Random but Inspirational

The players are an Outland Exhibition Team (O.E.T.) operating out of Sigil. O.E.T.’s are city-funded adventuring parties that head out into the Outlands and restore balance to situations that arise there. When they return they sit down with the community where they live and discuss the philosophical and moral implications of their choices.

“I just want to point out that outsiders entering a community to restore some idea of balance is colonial nonsense that is harmful to the world.”

“Do you attend every O.E.T. community discussion to say this?”

“Yes, I do.”

“Fair enough. So noted…”

I rolled up the adventure and mapped out an outline using the Trophy Gold incursion structure (more on that in a future blog post). The players were heading to Xaos, Portal City between the Outlands and the Ever-changing Chaos of Limbo to stop a god-feud happening there. Gods from a dead Prime Material World were feuding and causing problems.

I decided that there was a rival group of assassins known as the God-killers on their way to Xaos to kill the feuding gods. I wasn’t sure of much else about them. Would they get there first or show up later to heighten the tension? Not sure.

I rolled on the Encounter Table for their first day of travel.

Lost Souls…Dead Adventurers. I think my encounter just told me that the God-killers are dead.

INTERESTING. I did not see that coming.

The gods heard about them and panicked. They set aside their differences for a bit, made sure they were killed and then went back to their in-fighting. If the players find out that they set aside their differences once, they can figure out how to get them to do it again.

It also was a nice way of giving an info dump because assassins who call themselves the God-killers definitely did their homework.

One of the God-killers was a Tiefling and asked Kuru the Halfling Thief to burn some incense at the shrine to Asmodeus back in Sigil. Love it.

For the next day, I rolled a 12.


On the third d6 I got a 6. The dragon is taking treasure. Cool. But from who? I rolled again. I could’ve chosen but I was curious to see what the table would say.

Merchants. Makes sense. More simple than a dragon mugging an angel but sometimes simple is good.

I described the players arriving to a one-inn town with a merchant caravan leaving as a thunderstorm began. The players noticed right away and asked the inn-keeper why they were leaving into a storm. She told them that the caravan had a delivery that was time sensitive (what was that about? I’m still not sure and I’m not sure I ever will be) and so they left despite her warnings. She said that the storm wasn’t natural and they were leaving into doomful circumstances.

The next morning as the players were leaving, lightning-scorched survivors from the caravan were in the common room, talking about how they survived a dragon attack the night before. The blue dragon had attacked the caravan and pillaged its treasures before flying away.

I decided the rest of the journey went by without a hitch. I roll every day or two of travel.

Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.

That is okay. Friendly and neutral encounters are fine. We’re into our third session. It fleshes out the world. I get to learn about what the characters are like.

The players could’ve gone after the caravan and talked them into staying. They could’ve decided to hunt the blue dragon. For now it is just color.

Sometimes I roll. Sometimes I choose. Sometimes they players sprint headlong into a brewing situation that has nothing to do with the oncoming adventure. Sometimes they hang back and smoke a pipe in the rain, under the eaves of the inn. Sometimes the players’ actions make something on (or off) the table obvious, so the encounter for that day is taken care of. Sometimes they get the jump on the encounter and other times they encounter will get the jump on them. It all depends on the circumstances and what the fiction demands.

I’m not calling them random encounter tables anymore. They’re Inspirational Encounter Tables.

I wrote up 2 pdf’s with Inspirational Tables in them. Please check out Silver Swords of the Lich Queen or Raven Queen vs. the Ghoul King to see more.

Dragon-rider, Choose Your Dragon!

Gygaxian: These are ancient dragons that can live for centuries, only becoming full grown when they are well over a thousand years old. They are intelligent, use magic and will mate with damn near anything that moves, breeding half-dragon children all around their lairs. They gather treasures around them in great quantities and often choose their morality, climate and religion based on their breed. Gygaxian dragons can change shape and possess breath weapons based on their breed. These dragons are said to be strongly linked to the foundations of magic.

Inspirations: D&D (the second D)

  • Choose breed: Red, Blue, Green, White, Black, Gold, Silver, Bronze, Copper
  • Where is your dragon’s lair? What guards it while it is away and why doesn’t it trust the guardians it left?
  • Choose 3 spells your dragon can cast once a day: Charm Person, Web, Magic Missile, Read Magic, Detect Magic, Read Languages
  • Does your dragon worship the Platinum Emperor, Paladin-Lord of Justice or the Chromatic Queen, Demon-Lady with Five Heads?

Pernese: Some monsterists say these are not dragons at all but merely specially bred fire-lizards. These dragons’ riders disagree, sometimes not so politely. These dragons form a powerful bond with their riders and have other psionic abilities, including gaining access to a quasi-dimensional space, flight-enhancing telekineses and weak telepathy. Their fire-breathing is done through the digestion of firestone that causes an alchemical reaction in their second stomach.

  • Choose a mutation: Gold, Bronze, Brown, Blue or Green
  • Name a socially awkward emotion of yours that your dragon picks up on due to your bond.
  • Choose 1 of 3: plenty of firestone, plenty of food, plenty of money

Inspiration: Dragon-Riders of Pern

Olde Valyrian: These dragons were bred  to serve the ruling class of a fallen empire and give its freeholds military superiority. Their civilization has fallen, making their draconic breeding pool shallow and their training protocols misguided. These dragons can live centuries, growing to tremendous sizes and breath fire at temperatures that can melt metal and cook knights in their armor.

Inspiration: Song of Ice and Fire

  • Is your dragon so large that it can fit a warhorse in its jaws and blots out the sun or is it smaller and more maneuverable?
  • Has your dragon been left wild and stubborn or beaten and frightened by its ignorant trainers?
  • Choose One: Dragon Prince, Dragon Princess, Dragon Knight, Lucky Vassal