Thursday, July 28, 2011

What's a Dazzling Urbanite Like You Doing in a Rustic Setting Like This? [Vornheim Contest entries #2 and #3]

Here are two tables for when the party is somewhere between civilization and the wilderness. I may expand this post a little later, but I finished these things not that long ago, and my brain feels like burnt tapioca.

First up: Rural Inns and Taverns. Roll once on each name column, or twice on the second, adding ampersands or possessives where applicable. Add Qualities and/or Encounters to taste.

Name 1

1 Jolly
2 Roasted
3 Blue
4 Lusty
5 Roaring
6 Spotted
7 Crowned
8 Green
9 Dancing
10 Hanged
11 Blind
12 Singing
13 Drunken
14 Gilded
15 Brazen
16 Rampant
17 Yellow
18 Prancing
19 Leaping
20 Wicked

Name 2

1 Miller
2 Cat
3 Boar
4 Huntsman
5 Hare
6 Hound
7 Stag
8 Hammer
9 Hangman
10 Fool
11 King
12 Hedgehog
13 Bishop
14 Boot
15 Head
16 Bantam
17 Rose
18 Dragon
19 Knight
20 Sinner

Unusual Qualities

1 Scene of a famous murder 50 years ago. Still haunted at night.

2 The interior of the tavern is marked floor- to- ceilling w/ wards against evil, painted, carved w/ a knife, & scrawled emphatically in charcoal. No one seems perturbed by this.

3 Is a safehouse for a notorious local outlaw & his gang.

4 Innkeeper & his wife are high priest & priestess of a forbidden cult/heresy. Are otherwise friendly & accomodating.

5 Apples on the tree outside are poisonous (the skin alone is a powerful hallucinigen). The innkeeper will explain that the tree keeps regrowing despite his efforts to destroy it.

6 Innkeeper & clientele are cannibals. Well-armed PCs have nothing to fear, but may discover source of last night’s meal too late. The tallow in the candles is made from human fat.

7 The food is amazingly good, due to the fact that the cook is a captured fae creature. It will plead for rescue (removal of iron horseshoe over kitchen door) through messages in marbled fat on meat, steam rising from stew, etc.

8 Innkeeper + staff are actually bandits (real Innkeeper, etc. bound and gagged in cellar). The food is consequently terrible and the service lax.

9 Several tavern patrons have an ashen, listless air about them. Barmaid is a succubus.

10 Brews the Best Cider in the World.

11 The Devil (or equivilent) stops in for a quiet pint once a month.

12 The manticore head on the wall is a piece of enthusiastic, if not seamless taxidermy. The teeth, however, are quite authentic.

13 The dartboard nailed to the far wall is a portrait by a famous (now dead) artist. The subject’s features are unrecognizable from years of regular play, but the signature is clear.

14 Innkeeper is former adventurer. As such, will be instantly suspicious of PCs, locking up his wife, daughter & valuables, & claiming to have no vacancies for the night. If pressed, will sullenly relent.

15 Hosts cockfights in the yard. Innkeeper’s bird always wins.

16 The ancient bronze sword above the bar becomes red-hot & smolders in the presence of Magic.

17 Local poacher keeps inn plentifully supplied with trout from the Duke’s private fishing grounds. His claims of intimate dealings with a court of river spirits is dismissed as drunken nonsense.

18 A conclave of rival necromancers meet here once a year under a truce to talk shop. They are particularly fond of the pheasant.

19 The stableboy bears an uncanny facial resemblance to a prominent local official.

20 No flowers bloom within a mile of it, & no birds sing.


1 A conjurer performs feats of prestidigitation before a packed crowd. 2d4 people in the crowd are his confederates, who are busily cutting purses & picking pockets.

2 Events will repeat in a loop every half-hour. The innkeeper, clientele, etc; will acknowledge PCs, but in a vague, half-interested way. If PCs go about their business as normal, the inn dissolves into fog at dawn. Locals encountered nearby will have no knowledge of such a place. Cause/solution up to GM.

3 Rowdy group of local rustics take offense at PCs’ manners/wardrobe/accent/faces and try to pick a fight.

4 Innkeeper’s cat knows the location of nearby buried treasure. Will lead the PC who pays it the most attention to the site.

5 8 + d8 armed revolutionaries have taken over the inn, forcibly drafting everyone into their ranks. They are awaiting a wagonload of gunpowder from one of their confederates, which will arrive at dawn the next day. From there, they plan to march on the house of the nearest local magistrate.

6 Sheriff & his party, accompanied by magistrate, enter, escorting a prisoner (NPC from previous encounter or PCs backstory) in irons. S/he is to be hung from a nearby gallows-tree, but the magistrate insists of the formality of a trial. All present are sworn in as witnesses.

7 Wandering minstrel, accompanied by local musicians, will start up an impromptu ballad about one of the PCs, which will contain increasingly embarrasing & shameful (but true) details. Will only stop if paid 25 GP or sufficiently threatened w/ violence. The song is extremely catchy & will be remembered and repeated by all NPCs present for some time.

8 A small semi-aquatic demon has taken up residence in the ale keg, The oils from its skin impart unique qualities to the ale. Roll on Magical Effects table for each drinker.

9 Bandits burst in w/ heavy crossbows, demand valuables from staff+clientele and (unless thwarted) take inkeeper hostage & escape in a waiting coach. Are in league with innkeeper.

10 Innkeeper’s wife plots to murder her husband w/ the help of the pot-boy, her lover. Tonight’s the night.

11 Innkeeper’s son/daughter will beg PCs to take him/her w/ them, pleading boredom & drudgery. If they accept, will join them when they leave, along with contents of their parents’ strongbox.

12 Innkeeper & his wife are scouts for a brothel in the nearest large town/city. Will attempt to isolate, drug & kidnap particularly attractive or distinctive-looking PCs.

13 PCs will awake to find themselves trapped by thorny vines & brambles that have encased the inn overnight. All doors & windows are held fast. If cut w/ non-magical weapons, these will regenerate w/ even greater density within 4 rounds.

14 PCs (especially Elves/Magic Users) are attacked by vicious bedbugs in their sleep. These will inflict 1 damage every third round, ignoring armor & clothing. Observant PCs will note a trail of them leadng to the innkeeper’s room. If they force the door, they will discover the innkeeper lying in bed, his eyes glazed over, a stream of bedbugs scuttling in & out of his mouth.

15 The ale brewed here inspires poetry in those who drink it for the 1st time (lasts until dawn).

16 Group of men in rustic garb will accost PCs, asking them for news & gossip in a poor imitation of local dialect. Are obviously a nobleman & his retinue in unconvincing disguises.

17 A dishevelled young woman can be seen walking calmly around the outside of the inn, setting fire to the thatch w/ a torch. If challenged, will respond only that she is “doing what ought to’ve been done to this vile place years ago.”

18 Eloping couple are persued by an agent of the girl’s father, who can be glimpsed through the window, dismounting from his horse. The couple beg the PCs to create a distraction while they slip out the back.

19 An eccentrically dressed man waves PCs over to his table, where he importunes them to join him in a game of chance. He is a compulsive, but terrible gambler, a 6th –level Wizard, & a sore loser.

20 Inn becomes site of battle between outlaws and sheriff’s men, who arrive w/in minutes of each other.


And here's 50 Encounters for when you leave the Inn: It doesn't matter so much if no town or village is indicated on a map -- such places are tiny and numerous, and beneath the notice of most cartographers.

1-2 PCs come upon the body of a man, stabbed, stripped of weapons, cloak, and boots, and left dead at the side of the road. He has a letter tucked into his stocking informing him that a distant relative of his in a nearby town has died and left him his entire estate.

3-4 Inhabitants of the village take PCs to be an Inspector + their retinue from the Capitol (this explains their odd clothing and behavior) and treat them accordingly. The real inspector is about a day’s ride away.

5-6 A young man or woman, filthy, covered in small cuts, naked save for a fox’s tail tied around their waist, comes panting over the hill toward the PCs, and hides behind some nearby trees. A group of nobles on horseback appears a minute or so later and, with a chuckle, ask PCs if they have seen a fox passing through.

7-8 A group of young boys are fishing at a placid lake. They wave lazily to the PCs, just as two squamous, humanoid arms break the surface and drag one under.

9-10 A fire-and brimstone preacher is giving an impassioned sermon in a hastily-erected tent to a large crowd. The sermon has some bearing on one or more outer characteristics of at least one PC.

11-12 A group of angry peasants are burning the local duke in effigy, shaking farm implements and cursing his name. The crowd will encourage PCs to join in. An agent of the Duke’s is hidden nearby, taking down names and descriptions.

13-14 PCs come upon the body of a young woman, but closer inspection reveals that she is playing possum. She scampers away, whistling, at which a party of d6+6 hideously inbred cannibal hillbillies, led by her oldest brother-husband, attack.

15-16 PCs are waylaid by a masked Highwayman and d6+4 accomplices. He will attempt to kiss the hands of any females present.

17-18 A group of d8+4 figures dressed as religious mendicants approach, their heads bowed in solemn prayer. If the roll on the d8 was even, they draw back their hoods, produce shortswords from beneath their robes and attack.

19-20 A travelling carnival has set up on the outskirts of town. They are (1-2) a bizarre and sinister cult of degenerates and necromancers (3-4) Fae creatures in disguise (5-6) mere Carnies.

21-22 The local duke’s army is drumming up new recruits in the town square. Their methods are brutal and insistant, and will extend to any able-bodied PCs.

23-24 A magistrate is hearing cases brought by well-to-do local peasants. At the sight of the PCs, both parties offer compensation if any of them will represent them in a trial by combat.

25-26 Rival adventuring party (roll on table or supply your own) appears at the next crossroads, heading in the same direction as PCs.

27-28 PCs encounter an NPC from a past adventure or character background in the stocks in the town square. The details of the NPC’s crime can be obtained from passers-by.

29-30 A group of villagers are celebrating a fertility festival, featuring much drinking, dalliance, and the parading of an ithyphallic mannikn made of straw through the nearby fields. PCs are encouraged to join in.

31-32 A group of travelling players are putting on a performance in the village square, costumed as the PCs. They are performing an episode from their adventures, though misrepresented. If the deed was noble and valorous, it is depicted as trecherous , cowardly, and bloodthirsty, and vice-versa.

33-34 A hunting party is being assembled in the town square. Three village children have been killed in the last week by some half-glimpsed monster. The creature was sighted less than an hour ago by a local woodcutter. The villagers plead with the PCs to join the hunt, though some of the younger men grumble about involving outsiders in their affairs.

35-36 A mountebank has set up his wagon in the village square and is loudly proclaiming the virtues of his new “miracle elixir.” Will call out to one of the PCs to assist in the demonstration.

37-38 Two men are hurridly loading barrels of moonshine into an already loaded wagon. After percieving that the PCs are not, in fact, the Sheriff’s men, they will offer a barrel or two to the PCs before one of them hops in the driver’s seat and takes off. It is extremely potent, flammable, and illegal under local sumptuary laws.

39-40 A funeral procession winds its way to the outskirts of the town. A persistant banging can be heard from within the coffin, but this is ignored.

41-42 A Witchfinder and his retinue arrive in the village shortly after the PCs. The suspect they are persuing closely resembles one of the party, and they will shadow them closely until confronted.

43-44 PCs find themselves in the middle of a shootout (bows, crossbows, throwing hatchets, etc.) between two families involved in a generations-long feud. PCs are enjoined to declare for one side or the other. Neutrality will be met with incredulous outrage.

45-46 The whole town has turned out to watch the hanging of a notorius local brigand, who bears an uncanny resemblance to a respectable NPC of past acquantance. Upon seeing the PCs, he will greet them by name, shout a cheerful “See you all in hell,” and leap from the platform with the noose around his neck.

47-48 2d8 mounted bandits have arrived at the village first, and busy themselves with slaughter, rapine, and pillage. They will pause in these activities at the approach of the PCs and will either attack (if they outnumber the PCs at least 2-1) or attempt to flee.

49-50 A poacher runs past the PCs, dropping a large sack at their feet as he leaps a fence and dashes into the undergrowth. A few minutes later, a groundskeeper and 1d4 assistants appears from the same direction. He is interested in the poacher and takes the sack to be the PCs property. The sack contains 2d8 freshly killed eels. If eaten, they are quite tasty and the eater can speak and understand the speech of water-dwelling creatures for 3 days after ingestion.

51-52 A group of minor demons are engaging in a musical contest at the crossroads with lute, hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, tabor, and harp. They will ask the PCs to judge the contest, and the winner will present the PCs with a coin bearing its sigil, which can be used to summon it to fulfill a single favor.

53-54 2d4 Shrouded bandits spring out and attack PCs. At the first sign of resistance they flee. Any injured or captured member of the band will reveal themselves to be a member of the local aristocracy, that the PCs were mistaken for someone else, and that this was a prank that went horribly, horribly wrong.

55-56 PCs meet with an outlandishly-dressed foreign traveller on the road. He is affable, charming, and seemingly gullible, and does not quite understand the local exchange rate.

57-58 PCs arrive to find villagers in a mad, hallucinatory daze. Ergot in the wheat is the culprit, but witchcraft is, of course, a viable second hypothesis.

59-60 A wizened figure in a tattered robe has been nailed to a tree with silver nails. The placard around his chest reads “For Vile Necromancie.” The man’s eyes open wide and he screams.

61-62 PCs arrive in the midst of a wedding party. The fare is plentiful, simple, and tasty, and the ale is served with generosity. Unless the PCs find a way to screw this up, the evening ends well for all involved, and the PCs are sent on their way in the morning with free provisions.

63-64 The skies open up, and the rain comes down in torrents. The nearest shelter is the half-rotten ruin of a fortress. It is haunted, and the ghostly inhabitants will offer information about the surrounding area (150 years out of date) in exchange for a few drops of human blood left in a pewter dish in the mess hall.

65-66 PCs hear shouts from a group of laborers digging up a barren field to lay a foundation. Upon inspection, their digging has unearthed a bronze door set into the ground at an angle.

67-68 PCs pass a roadside graveyard, startling 2d4 ghouls at their meal.

69-70 PCs arrive at a small monastery populated by ogres. These have renounced their old ways, and offer shelter for the night, though any wounded PCs must remain in the storage shed, as the smell of blood will arouse old appetites and undo the work of religion.

71-72 A toll-bridge straddles the river at its narrowest point, guarded by a colorfully-dressed man who hails the PCs and announces that they cannot cross without answering a riddle. The riddle itself is completely nonsensical, and the man has no magic powers of any kind, and can be dispatched in the usual manner.

73-74 PCs find themselves surrounded by d6+10 outlaws with swords and longbows. If they convincingly deny allegiance to the local duke, they are brought (blindfolded) to the outlaws' hideout and receive an offer to join their band. If they refuse, they are merely feasted and entertained, before being returned to the road in the morning.

75-76 A small boy sits on the fence by a grove of trees playing a flute. Will demand payment for his music (name an outrageous sum). If the PCs refuse, he plays louder, and the trees uproot themselves and lumber slowly but inexorably toward them. The only way to stop them entirely is to break the flute.

77-78 A young girl in a white smock, garlanded with flowers, stands in the middle of a field, surrounded by other peasant farmers. Her eyes are glazed over and she walks as if in a trance toward a figure in an elk-skull mask wielding a dagger.

79-80 PCs arrive in the midst of a fair. Competetion for prizes is fierce, and they will be assaulted on all sides with demands to taste an endless array of jams, pies, cheeses, ales, etc. Offers of bribes will be constant and not particularly subtle.

81-82 Two rival brewers are competing for the prize at a festival, demand PCs do a taste-test as neutral parties. Finding in favor of one will earn the violent emnity of the other.

83-84 PCs hear giggling and splashing up ahead, and spy a trio of water-nymphs bathing in a nearby stream, their garments left on rocks. These garments, if successfully stolen and worn against the skin make the wearer proof against drowning.

85-86 PCs pass a rotted corpse hanging in a gibbet by the side of the road. A scrap of parchment nailed there proclaims the name of the arresting magistrate and the identity of the corpse (a friend, relative, or past associate of the PCs).

87-88 A violent, impassioned scene breaks out in the village square, starting with threats and accusations, leading to attempted murder and/or rape. PCs attempting to intervene will discover that they are wielding stage weapons. The participants disperse, grumbling, and a man in a neatly-trimmed goatee will loudly complain that "these ignorant shitkickers wouldn’t know experimental theatre if it bit them on the ass."

89-90 The PCs unknowingly violate some unwritten code of conduct in the town, and a lynch mob soon forms.

91-92 1d6 tough-looking village lads, eager for excitement and opportunity, offer to join PCs.

93-94 A crowd has gathered around a makeshift stage, where a series of bare-knuckle matches is taking place. Betting is frantic, pickpockets are rife, and the purse to be won is tempting. The local champion is heavily favored.

95-96 The village is holding mayoral elections. Since citizenship is determined by baptism at the village church (an office the local cleric is willing to perform), the PCs can theoretically cast a legal vote. Factions representing both candidates sieze the opportunity with both hands.

97-98 PCs arrive to find village in mourning, with a young woman in black being escorted down the road. It is explained that the local lord has taken her as his latest wife, and none of the 14 women previously chosen for this honor have been seen again.

99-100 Passing farmer offers to give unmounted PCs a ride on his haycart to the next town over in exchange for stories from afar (more than 30 miles away).

And because I'm an insomniac:

Jeremy Duncan took the Hardest Gary Gygax Quiz in the World and got 60%!

You are a Gary Gygax Myrmidon. You are mighty in the ways of Gary Gygax. You're probably a First Edition or OD&D player, and I wouldn't be surprised if you had an original copy of the Chainmail rules.

Paladin Code: You completed this quiz without using Google.

Not bad for 4-5 hours of sleep.

And now I'm off to bed. Enjoy!