Sea monsters

This table generates sea monsters suited for attacking a party on a ship. I mean, who goes on a ship in D&D expecting good things?

Another way to use the table, and a good way to surprise the party, is to have the monster attack a fishing village from the sea, roam around a coastal fortress, or swim upstream on a river. Or perhaps in a tank in a dungeon?

The monsters in the table will have a lair, tactics and some very loose behavior structure, so they make for good persistent threats.

The monsters here are not perfectly suited for true underwater adventures. They can be dropped in, but some of the tactics may have to be tweaked. These creatures are better suited to attack ships or people.

Roll 5d10!

1A flathead fish made of coral and algae.Can shapeshift between its main form and a bank of small fish.Its bite is exceptionally strong and corrosive.Will prioritize food over anything. Can be lured by bait.Banks of sand emerging from shallow waters. The banks were put in place by people worshipping the creature.
2A jellyfish made of viscous black ink.Stalks the prey for several miles waiting for the best moment to strike.Knowingly targets ship hulls.Is especially vulnerable to magical damage.A wrecked trading sailboat with crates of acid potions of onboard.
3A 100 feet wide sole fishLies at the seabottom and suddenly strikes. Uses camouflage.Can devise and lay traps both at depth and on the surface. Cunning, scheming.Its belly is much softer and more vulnerable than its back.A rock formation with a cave system and underwater lava streams
4A tortoise that can breathe fire.Hunts in a pack.Has a head that has rock consistency – can ram small ships and will resist piercing damage.Relatively low intelligence creature – will attack even large groups head on.An underwater area covered in tropical vegetation due to the presence of a magical orb at its center
5A whale made of slab stones.Has enslaved a group of pirates to procure food.Can cast charm spells and the like. Can disappear and reappear suddenly.Cannot survive in cold temperatures or waters.An ancient underwater stone temple built by a long-gone civilization.
6A kraken punctured by several harpoons and swords.Is not prone to foraying out and attack ships but is extremely territorial around its lair.Has extraordinary perception, equivalent to true sight.Will be distracted by shiny objects.The creature lives inside an ancient giant blue whale in a symbiotic relationship.
7An amalgam of barrels dumped by ships held together by a dark elemental force.Is not often seen, but migrates every year at a known time along an ever-shifting route.Can use its tongue, tendrils, or a tool to pull people into the water.Having sustained previous wounds, is afraid of harpoons.A forest at the bottom of the ocean.
8A sea spider that can swim and crawl up a ship’s hullIs in constant communication with an intelligent being controlling it and using it to spy.Has swallowed a wizard and absorbed its powers – can cast like a 3rd level magic user.Has to resurface every minute.The creature takes over the harbor waters of coastal towns and feeds on water waste.
9A ghost of a dead sailor with a small ghost ship.Feels a responsibility towards fish and will show up to protect them.Communicates through songs with other member of its speacies and alerts them. The songs can cause psichic damage to humanoidsIs hated by the gods, and clerics can use this to their advantage.A coral reef growing on a ley line or another powerful source of natural magic.
10A weretuna. This large giant tuna turns into a boodthirsty killer at night. Its yellow fins are made of solid gold. What a sight!Moves at a great speed just below the water surface, often ripping through nets and escaping undetected.Can summon small storms.Though powerful, it is slow moving.An abandoned mussel farm that drifted out to sea.
I resisted deep ones and having a pineapple under the sea.

The smuggler’s cliffs – 1 hex adventure location

OK it isn’t a random table. But it’s what I made this week. Here it is!

While Captain Kraggan’s sea orc smugglers are unloading their cargo, some dwarves have mysteriously lost all the tools they used to mine an iron vein. Prospectors, centaurs and lizardfolks roam these plains dominanted by large limestone cliffs…

For those interested in additional hazards, here is a whacky climbing events random table I made some weeks ago.

Icons and relics

Every temple in an tabletop RPG needs a made-up relic in it! Especially when there is a tie-in to the history of the town or community the temple serves. Especially if it can serve as a jumping-off point for an adventure or investigation, right? Right? Anybody?

Roll 1d10 and read across rows…

DiceDescriptionIf somehow put to use..Venerated by…
1A dry olive tree branch. The demigoddess Cassanae extracted an unending amount of water from it and sustained people through a famine.All magical properties have been exhausted from the item, but an aura of good pervades the space around it.A group of monks that have been fasting for years, while seemingly being in perfect heath and condition.
2A torn piece of parchment with outlines of long-lost wax seals. It is said to be a part of a peace treaty between Giants and Titans.Other pieces of the parchment are scattered. Once recomposed, the bearer has a letter of passage into the kingdom of giants, who will recognise him or her as a minor noble.The local head of the temple, who holds the title of “head archivist”. Its prestigious position is a source of intrigue and infighting among the local clergy.
3An hermetically sealed jar containing a preserved hand of saint Marianus. His most famous deed, the miracle of the awakening, saw him cure a group of hundreds of lycanthropes by imposing his hands on their leader.Using the hand as a macabre weapon can harvest the remnants of its energy to turn low-level undead upon touch. Preserving it will then be the problem…The locals of the town around this relic are extremely devout to it, and will march it in processions several times per year.
4A rusty broken arrow with fletching made of Chimera feathers. The arrow, fired by the champion archer of the yuan-ti horde, was about to hit Queen Mathilde at the battle of Firethorn, when divine intervention snapped it in mid-air.If someone manages to recompose the arrow, it will be able to magically target anybody with royal blood.Hunters make the pilgrimage to the temple to pray to the arrow, believed to bless the worshippers with superior markmanship.
5A clay brick, once at the base of a tower that protected the community from the undead. The tower was magically erected in only one week by the mysterious archmage Kalandor, and partially crumbled some decades ago.The brick can be alchemically grown to re-sprout the full tower. Knowledge on how to do so is long-lost, and may lie in some dungeon… Once the tower is reconstructed, it can protect a village for several years before running out of energy.The brick is taken by masons as a sign that their profession is blessed by the gods. Thus, a shrine was constructed around it and constantly new parts are added. On the other hand, wizards want to remove the brick from the temple to study its nature and reactivate its powers..
6A harpoon wielded by the mythical heroine Varannis to down the warewhale that terrorized the seas. It is stained with silver-colored blood.The harpoon carries the blessings of many divinities and is a powerful magic object. It can be used to strike water creatures very effectively, but will be ineffective on land.Sailors and merchants pay their homage to the harpoon of Varannis by bringing fish donations to the local temple every spring. The fish end up dumped in an overpopulated pond.
7An watermelon-sized acorn gifted by the spirit of the lake, providing fertility to the surrounding lands.The acorn will deteriorate if removed from its encasing and the area it is in, as it is a gift from nature to the locals. It may even backlash, curse the thief and seek to be returned.Local tradesmen, farmers and business people keep miniature reproduction of the acorn in their homes, believing it brings good luck.
8The tongue of saint June. The saint was a commoner innately able to speak every known and unknown language. When he died, his body decomposed except for his tongue.You stole a tongue? You can speak 1d3 additional languages now, but only if you wear it as a talisman.While most people are devout to the tongue as a sign of the miraculous life of St. June, a small but fanatical underground sect cuts off the tongues of people believed to be impure…
9The house of Hwatha, god of the mountains. Three walls of his house were transported by humongous Roc birds and dropped in the front yard of the local temple. They now stand there, covered in moss, and attract a crowd.Sure, putting these walls in your stronghold would look super cool. But also make people and gods super mad.The walls hide frescos that prophesize an avalanche so large that it would bury the earth. They were dropped in the area as a warning, but being covered in moss, people just took to worship the miracle of them appearing and their meaning has not been found.
10The shield of the moon. Left on earth by a celestial being, it mimicks the moon cycle by growing to a crescent, then a full shield each month, mirroring the lunar cycle.The “dark side” of the shield is in the astral plane, and (on the non-full moon days) protects the wearer from being observed or attacked from the immaterial realm.Warriors, scholars, and paesants alike worship the shield as an unmistakable sign that the nature around us was forged by a divine being.


Pssst. You! Yes, I am talking to you! Over here!

I got that sweet sweet random table you are craving. The one you did not dare to ask about. Yes, that lake generator thing we talked about while poisoning ourselves kobold moonshine.

I have used one of these lakes in combination with one of the Trilemma adventures, and it turned out quite well, for what it’s worth. Roll 1d12 per column.

DiceFirst featureSecond featureFloraFauna, monsters, people…
1The lake is on a hot sulfur gas stream which bubbles to the top.Waters are very dark, it is impossible to tell the depths.Thin, long, pale grass, barren vegetation. Sagebrush.A tribe of kobold hunters hides in the vegetation.
2The lake has several stone spires rising from its waters.Waters are cystal clear, calm reflective.Mossy, with mushrooms set to defend the place.If you go fishing, you can catch a speaking fish that can assist you in your quest.
3The lake has shiprweck at the bottom. How the shop got there from a sea (or the sky?) is a mystery.Choppy waters, constant strong crosswindsThe center of the lake has a perfectly hexagonal group of water lilies. Eerily symmetrical.The lake has a group of islets that are contested between different tribes of lizardfolk.
4The lake has a crumbled watchtower rising above the waters.Saltwater lake. It has unnatural red color, and there is a beach made of salt crystals.The lake is surrounded by willows with long branches falling in the water. They seem to move on their own…Protected by a fanatical sect of druid “ecoterrorists”.
5The lake has 6 rivers flowing in, and one flowing out. Cults/legends swirl about the meaning of the rivers.Muddy lake, renowned for its healing properties.Ferns and a mini bamboo forest poking out of the waters.The ghosts of two peasants drowned in a witch hunt haunt the lake.
6The beautiful lake is the final resting place of a mighty warrior. His mausoleum lies besides the water.The water is gray, devoid of life. It does not reflect.The lake’s vegetation has been deeply mutated, corrupted, by a magical force. Trees and plants have humanoid features and look wounded.A sect of 2d6 cannibals gathers here at night
7The lake has an abandoned, molding group of stilt houses.One of the shores of the lake has a sandy beach.The lake has lush vegetation, but some plants are sentient/carnivore.Herds of large animals or monsters stop by the lake to drink during migrations.
8The lake is a device that stores memories.The lake is covered in ice regardless of the season or climate.The lake is surrounded by lavander fields. A positive, healing energy emanates from the field.The lake fluoresces from its sentient jellyfish community.
9The lake is holy to a divinity, but hotly contested by another.The lake used to be much larger, but its basin has almost fully dried out since an event made rivers change course.Thick brambles make moving around the shore difficult.The lake is guarded by a Naga.
10The lake is wizard-made, and its waters are illusory: it hides an underwater lair.The waters swirl in strong spiral currents. An artifact keeps them in motion.Large bushes with berries of fantastical colors and mysterious effects.The lake is a meeting spot for smugglers of necromantic potions ingredients.
11The lake edges over a cliff and generate a massive waterfall. A huge, majestic obsydian acqueduct departs from the cliff. It has stood for millennia.Swamp lake, still water of green color and low depth.Parts of the shore are overrun by an aggressive plant which seems to be snaking out of the water.A merchant has set up a shop on the shore, as it is a common stopover. 50% chance the merchant is a lycanthrope.
12The lake is surrounded by limestone structures, one of which shows a fossil of a sea monster. The lake has several small skiffs abandoned on the shore that can be used to navigate a complex system of winds separating the sides.The lake is surrounded by tar pits.Once a month, the lake is visited by hill giants taking care of their water supply. They arrive with huge buckets.

Loot table #1 – humble beginnings (trinkets)

This week – something very traditional. A loot table. Specifically, a loot table designed for low-level characters, to be combined with loot that is more “mechanical” (weapons, potions, scrolls).

The objects here have “mechanics”. I personally like items that hold a single charge (or a charge count), rather than those that can be used N times per rest. This will encourage players to keep adding and changing their inventory. RPGs with inventory slots, such as Knave, already encourage this, and work well in combination with single or low numbered- charge objects. In D&D 5e most items have N uses per rest, and players are almost channeled into reusing items over and over again, lowering the surprise and improvisation factor. It is then up to the DM to force situations or “guide the players into” using charged items and prevent hoarding.

Think of “Breath of the Wild”, “Fallout: New Vegas”, or other RPGs with weapon degradation systems – this encourages the players to keep scavenging, keep crafting and come up with different solutions to daily problems. Okay, they can be a chore if overdone, which is why half way through the game the player is usually given very sturdy weapons. But a similar effect of not keeping the same objects and therefore doing the same things should be sought in tabletop RPGs, especially when one goes for an old-school weak characters/low survival rate vibe.

Another suggestion – for some of these, it may be good not to reveal what the trinket does to the players – and change/improvise a function when they try to use it, in case the players are being clever (it may happen!) and deserve that reward.

Anyways…. roll a d20 and gift your players a trinket to remember (hopefully). Mechanics are somewhat matched with the objects though, so you may want to read across instead of rolling once per column. The drescriptions are more randomizable. I wrote the table with single charge in mind, but of course, do what you want…

DiceItemDescriptionEffect upon use (single charge)
1A coin…with the sigil of a long-lost ancient kingdomcan be given to any guard or barkeep and they will reveal a deep secret
2A cane…covered in mossunlock a secret passage somewhere in the world
3A mug…that was shattered and put backtogethersummon poison antidote
4A feather of an exotic bird…with clear fingerprints on itAllows perfect forgery
5A letter…bearing the signature of a famous hunterWild animals will feel the holder as their friend
6A winter coat…thar shimmers in the darkcan blind an enemy in combat for one round
7A journal…In pristine condition, never usedshows who entered and exited a room in the past 8 hours
8A bracelet…made of viscous dark liquid held together by magical forcethe holder can mentally communicate with someone else for 5 minutes
9A yak horn…has been cleaned and maintained by expert craftmanshipCan take damage and shatter
10A key…very fragile and rustyreveal whether anybody is magically observing the party
11A small wooden toy chariot..makes unnatural creaking soundsdistract a creature with low intelligence for 1d6 rounds
12A pumice stone…the item is in a small custom wooden case made especially for ittoughens the skin of the older for 1d6 rounds, improving their armor class
13A miniature of a crow..can slot into a sword pommel os similar holderobserve the terrain ahead from a bird’s eyes
14An unmeltable ice cube..shows complex inner structure as if engineered by some forceturn any weapon the person is holding into an ice or fire weapon for one round
15A rope…very coarse to the touch, tough to handleCan soak up a huge amount of liquid (e.g. dry a small pond)
16A small quartz globe..Chipped by an axe or something that tried to destroy itallows a reroll of attack or damage roll
17A Roman dodecahedron…clearly part of some mechanismallows the holder to recall a memory of an event as if he or she was there
18A crowbar…The object is unexpectedly crisscrossed by veins of glowing red energyCan swap position with what another person/monster is holding
19A leather pouch…smelling of rosemary or other herbsimproves any crafted potion or recipe by doubling the effect
20An ivory die…the object has been smoothed over by the sands of timecan reorient a room in a dungeon

(Magical) Weapon Lore

Handing your players their first magical weapons is a hallmark moment in a campaign, usually signalling the party’s transition from being absolute garbage wannabe adventurers to being someone in the world.

But why make your first weapon a generic +1 sword? Magical work should well, be, magical and somewhat noteworthy.

The table contains little vignettes of lore for the weapon in the player’s hand. Perhaps it can trigger a mini-quest to discover where the weapon came from. I refrained from descriptions of the weapons, because those are really dependend on which weapon is being handed out. Nevertheless, some detail in the weapon description should hint to the pleayer that the weapon has a history…

Roll 1d20 and read across the rows (the entries go together). Still, if you want to shuffle, you could roll 1d20 per column, and then rework names accordingly. Who am I to tell you not to spice it up!

DiceOnce belonged to..Forged by..Consequence
1Omenax, an orc warlord who waged war on the elves.The Galmans, a renowned group of goblin smiths operating secretly in caves.Elves may recognise the weapon and shun the weilder.
2The guards of Falen, a mad wizard who ruled the area.Falen summoned the weapon in a ritual.There are 7 identical copies of this weapon in the world.
3Rowen, an infamous assassin who rebelled against the local guild in gruesome fashion.The original smith is unknown, but the weapon is covered in runes of an unknown language.The weapon was cursed by the guild who defeated Rowen and will disintegrate if it is ever brought into Rowen’s tomb.
4Ecalna, a lizard priestess, who used it in sacrifices.The weapon was forged by Ecalna herself, magically binding together tree branches into a blade (or whatever the weapon is).The weapon cannot be used to slash trees or inflict damage on nature.
5Edgar, a human merchant (or slaveowner) corrupted by his own wealth.Calimel, the elven blacksmith who manifactured the royal guard weapons, made it on commission. His signature in elven is etched on the weapon.The weapon is beautifully decorated with gemstones and the hilt or handle is veeneered in gold. It will get noticed.
6Doreen, a paladin who led a war against the undead.The weapon was gifted to Doreen by her God.The story of the weapon is long-forgotten, but recorded in annals and will be known by well-read priests at the relevant temple.
7The weapon was never owned by anyone. It was made to celebrate the 25th year of rule by an ancient king.Krugar, the head blacksmith of a dwarven forge, on behalf of the dwarven diplomatic delegation to the king.The weapon was meant to be ornamental. It is not properly balanced and a bit uncomfortable to wield. But the tempering and bladework are impeccable.
8The weapon was used by a cavalry commander in the battle of Termanov between humans and lava monsters.The “fine weapons” division of the imperial forges. It was made for regiment commanders.The weapon is particularly effective against fire creatures, and will not conduce any heat.
9Neema, a noble lady famous for her hunting prowess, who was assassinated in a palace plot.The weapon was magically forged by woodland elven tribes as a gift to Neema.The weapon can be opened up and conceals a cyphered message from Neema, her testament.
10Calghan, a farmer who ran into some fortune. He commissioned this weapon as a family heirloom.The maker is not famous, nevertheless the weapon has the hallmarks of good craftmanship and has a small sigil depicting a stag.The weapon is well made, sturdy, but needs a slight reworking to perform to its potential (e.g. temporary -1 damage)
11Remnic, an immigrant who came into the area from a distant land, escaping persecution.The weapon was made with a completely unknown technique using glass-like material, perhaps by another race.The weapon is clearly of foreign making. Some may mistake it for being acquired in looting during a war.
12Harold, a vampire who ruled the area with an iron fist. The weapon represented the unbreakable bond between Harold and a promising underling.Harold himself infused the weapon with magic when he pierced the heart of a vampire hunter.Holding the weapon enters the player in a bond with the long-dead Harold. The player will hear the vampire’s voice in his of her head, and will be intimidated (at some point) to do the vampire’s bidding.
13A shadowfell creature trying to open a rift between this world and other dimensionsThe weapon was conjured out of darkness and chaosThe weapon deals damage to the mind of the creatures it encounter (e.g. convert the regular damage type to psychic)
14Tasany, a gnome inventor in pursuit of a machine for growing steel out of rocks.Tasany made the weapon in her workshop.The weapon is the key to reactivate a mechanism in Tasany’s workshop. The workshop lies under a giant tree, and the mechanism can move its roots to make the tree walk.
15A pirate captain who could communicate with and enlist monsters on his ship. The captain stole the weapon from a nobleman and had a wizard he kept captive enchant it.The weapon is covered in notches and automatically notches kills.
16A plane travelling adventurer who had seen into the future that the player would own the weapon.The weapon was originally forged in a city outside of the material plane.The weapon marks the holder as chosen to cross through a portal.
17Nervalek, kobold shaman with a taste for the finer things in life.The weapon was bought at a brothel.The weapon glows purple when it is in the vicinity of wine.
18The weapon was part of/wielded by a golem constructed to protect a prison complex.The weapon was fashioned out of a pile of fine weapons, smelted into pure metal and magically recast into the golem by the state alchemist.The rests of the golem lie scattered in the world. Completing the sword with arms, torso and legs may bring it back.
19Calhoon, a djinn freed from its imprisonment in a library who sought to regain its power.Calhoon summoned the weapon from the desert sand.The weapon is extremely light to hold, and has an almost immaterial quality to it. It is disappearing over hundreds of years, which will happen whe Calhoon’s enchantment runs out.
20Nasha, a legendary bard, who composed the famous “ballad of the living waters”.Nasha retreived the weapon from a shipwreck while accompanying a group of lochatah on a raiding missionThe weapon is mentioned and described in a stanza of the ballad. The players or others may be familiar with it.

Climbing encounters, mishaps and hazards

The party has to reach the top of a mountain, navigating a difficult route climbing on a glacier. Ice… cold… isolation… madness.. maybe? Or maybe not. Climbing is kind of hard to DM well, honestly. I can’t say I have done a great job of it myself in the past.

“We climb the wall”. “OK, make a check”. “An 18!”. “It’s no problem for you, you zoom along and get it done”

We climb the wall”. “OK, make a check”. “A 5!”. “You find it difficult, at some point you lose grip. You take a short fall and take 1d8 damage”.

In the mountains, the biggest danger is the weather, the conditions, what happens around you. These are things that are so much more powerful than the climber, or anybody, really. Sure, a climbing mistake can happen even to a level 12 ranger. But the conditions worsening, something showing up, or some other natural or magical force working against the party while they are hanging by a rope are much more fun to navigate than a mistake.

These things- which is what is in this table- should be brought in when a check fails, or perhaps regardless of checks, for a scripted difficult section, or for something interesting anyways.

The following table contains descriptions to read to players. It somehow came easier to write in this format. I hope it can inspire a DM to design a mini-encounter or diversion during a climbing section of an ice adventure. For the players of 5e official modules (we don’t judge here), this may be used somewhere in “dragons of icespire peak” or “icewind dale: rime of the frostmaiden”.

I may have had to use this

Anyways, roll a d12.

1“As you secure the next grip and throw your climbing hook over a ledge, you feel the ice wall a few inches from your face. It glows with a deep, otherwordly, purple color. Suddenly, your hook gets swallowed by the ledge, and appears as a reflection inside the ice sheet“.
2“The climb is taking a toll on your arms and legs. Your face is getting covered in snow and you feel a numbing sensation. You look up and see that the end is in sight. However, the head of an ice goblin is poking over the top of the cliff. You can see he is up to something. After a few seconds, you see the goblin show up again, this time holding a large saw. He looks at your rope with malicious intent and begins to repel down towards your top anchor point…”
3“As you climb up, you begin to realise the wall is much frendlier than it seemed from below. Several platforms and resting points you could not see from below are on your route. When you reach one, you are surprised to find it covered in orange mushrooms that poke strong roots through the ice sheet… wait a minute. Are those spores?”
4“You continue moving up the mountain, trying to stay on a safe route. Every now and then you look at the sky, and you see clouds moving very fast across it. The weather is holding, but you don’t know for how long. Just as you think that, some light snow begins to fall. The combination of the frozen wall with the wet snow makes the surface horrible to grip. And yet, the rock just would not let you go. Suddenly, you realise that the features of this wall are actively gripping you, keeping you safe. But will they want to let you go at the end of this?”
5“You are past the midway point. You do not want to look down, but you give yourself the luxury to look to your side. About 300 feet across a traverse, you see something sticking out of the rock. It appears to be a mirror, fixed to the surface for god knows what purpose..”
6“During a difficult section of overhang, you have to pull yourself over a ledge by sheer strength. Your face comes very near the rock wall. You notice that this rock is covered in cuts and marks, as if made by a blade. Something was fighting here in the middle of a climbing wall. With a sword. But how? You feel the rock feature your are holding on beginning to move… you look up and the entire wall is shuffling. You will have to hold tight to see this through!”
7“You pull your gear up below you after securing yet another anchor point. As you pull it up, you feel sudden strong crosswinds. Your gear is swinging wildly from side to side, threatening to smash into your fellow climbers.”
8“The rock is crisscrossed by a number of small cracks. The quietness of the environment is broken up by loud, deep noises. You look in horror as the cracks begin to widen.. and widen… the pincers of a large insect1 smash through one of the openings.”
9“Below the ice you are climbing, you hear a constant flowing sound. Looking above, you see a series of stones that seem to have been fixed into the ice by someone. You continue climbing up, until you approach some of the stones. As soon as you attach one of your hooks to it, the stone rolls over and a huge spurt of hot water comes flowing from the hole, like a geyser. The ice you are secured to begins to melt….”
10“On a section of horizontal traverse, you find a series of metal poles pushed into the wall, acting as a series of secure points, or as jumping platforms. You use them to tie your rope as you move across. As you tie your rope to the first one, you hear the ice resonate with a hollow note. A crystal staircase appears from the poles, leading you up the mountain..:”
11“You swing your hook up, planting it firmly over the next ledge, beyond sight. KWOOOOOOOOOK!!! Some small rocks and branches fall over your head, the remainders of the nest of a large bird you have just smashed. You see it taking flight above you, ready to dive straight down…”
12The wall has a series of cylindrical features, lining up on top of each other. This makes the ascent relatively easy. You climb the first 6 or 7 of them, and take a short break. As you look down, you see the wall lifting itself off the ground you started from. With a thunderous noise, two giant rock columns, two legs, rip through the ground at the bottom of the climb, lifting your position. Two large sections of rock are now widening, creating a gap, to your left and right. You are resting on the spine of a huge rock golem that has just woken up…
1: You can use an Ankheg for this.

Mirror mirror on the wall….

Magical mirrors, abandoned in a dungeon, or in someone’s study. For players to interact with and puzzle over.

Roll once per column and happy holidays.

1Observe the last person that looked into the mirror.A spherical mirror projecting in all directions.
2Appear in another person’s dream.A large wooden frame lying against the wall.
3Reveal what the watcher will look like 1d12 years from now.A small handheld mirror covered in gemstones.
4A tendril reaches out of the mirror and slashes the looker.A fountain full of shimmering silvery liquid.
5Read into the mind of a person you are focusing on.A pitch black obsidian stone with inscriptions on its sides.
6Summon a ghostly version of a creature you are thinking about.A perfectly cut circle entirely made of silver,
7The mirror talks and answers one question from the looker before going dark.An hourglass of reflective dust.
8The mirror only shows a reflection if a person has committed a human sacrifice.A concave mirror in a stone frame.
9A person can reach into the mirror, but the arm comes back withered and old.A tapestry made with sillver threads.
10The mirror shows a secret passage in a wall if the looker knows a password or wears objects belonging to the owner.The pommel at the end of a hilt of a sword mising its blade.
11The mirror has several cracks. Looking into it, something that presents a threat to the looker is shown. But then the mirror cracks once more, and it shatters.A mesh of magical bamboo-like plants capable of reflecting.
12The mirror reflects only magical objects.A mirror in a hexagonal frame with a different colored gemstone at each vertex.
13Sacrificing a magical item to the mirror returns a pearl capable of reviving a party member once.A mirror hanging from the ceiling overshadowing the room.
14Looking into the mirror creates a connection with a monster who will haunt on the looker’s behalf for the next 2 days.A small mirror similar to a photo frame, that is tucked away and hard to notice.
15The mirror dresses you (not your image) up according to the fashion sense and epoch of the mirror’s owner.Water from a specific place in nature that has been moved into a container.
16The mirror is sentient. It is very lonely though. It whines and demands gifts.A spoon.
17The mirror reveals the blood running through the looker veins, unveiling his or her ancestral origins.A taxidermied monster with spherical mirrors for eyes.
18The mirror is incapable of projecting any image and will sap the willpower of anybody looking at it.A window turning into a mirror at night (or in the darkness).
19The mirror freezes an image of the looker to be used as a disguise at a later time (the looker memorizes it and can deploy it once).A firepit presenting a reflection to the looker.
20The mirror does to the looker what the looker does to it.A mirror dude, gimme a break ;)R
None of these mirrors reads the Daily Mirror.

City Watch

City guards – what are they doing?

Ah, yes. The bumbling city guard. The elite pool of citizens ensuring safety in the big city. <insert city’s name>’s finest.

City guards make for a good low-level antagonist or comedic relief moment, as Terry Pratchett knew all too well.

This table generates a platoon of city guards intent on doing something that the party can run into. These are designed to be small social encounters you get in, have a laugh or interact in some sort of way, and get out of.

I guess this is not a great table for serious, high fantasy campaigns, but some of the most memorable moments I had as a player were when the tone went from 1000 to 0 real fast, and 15 minutes of absolute nonsense followed, before getting back into adventuring or plotting on a more “serious” level. Can’t have nonsense all the time, I guess. But you need some nonsense, in my opinion. Nevertheless, it’s not all comedy here, the important thing is to have something that sparks the attention of a player and triggers an interaction. Or perhaps this is just something to provide color in the background while something else happens.

Whatever floats your boat, DM!

Roll once per column.

DiceWhat are they doing nowSomething noteworthyAttitude towards party
1Breaking into a tavern to demand protection moneyOne of the guards has a janky wooden shield made by his momFriendly
2Heading back to the garrison while ignoring pleas of helpA pair of twins is in the platoonCurious
3Hot in pursuit of a pickpocketer crashing through the partyOne of the guards is a rogue character capable of phenomenal disguises and trackingConfrontational
4Betting on a street kobold fight before breaking it upThe whole platoon is made of nonhuman racesAggressive
5Patrolling the city walls looking in the distance for some enemyThe commander shouts his orders very pompously, and the guards seem to ignore himNonstop questions
6Tailing the party undercover because they look like foreignersThe platoon has a pet manticore that is constantly sniffing people.Flirty
7Distributing little pastries through a neighborhoodThe guards are wearing regalia or ceremonial clothesDismissive
8Acting as the personal bodyguards for some merchantThe platoon has a person meticulously taking notes of everything that happensThey are in awe of such mighty adventurers
9Transporting stolen goods from between smugglers and buyersThe guards have tall halberds that are way too unwieldy for the crowded city streetsDon’t notice the party
10Inspecting wagons entering the cityOne of the guards notices the players and says “didn’t I see you at a gambler’s parlor last night?”Looking for help or clues
11Rounding up all people with crooked noses because of some weird city decreeThe platoon includes a cleric/chaplainMistake the party for someone else
12Registering and fining all donkeys and horses outside a busy tavernThe platoon commander is very superstitious and will interpret something the players do as a bad signSuspicious
13Sitting on a corner sharpening swords and polishing armor while telling exaggerated war storiesThe guards march in formation and treat the peasants very aggressivelyTriggered by some feature or characteristic of the party (race, objects they carry…)
14Investigating the scene of a crime, perhaps where something magical happenedThe platoon is on horseback (or riding some other beasts.Offering helpful advice
15Training new recruits in an archery field where the targets have emblems of some noteworthy city factionThe platoon commander is a spellcaster and will show it by creating a magical aura to disperse crowds. Confused by anything the party says
16Acting as bouncers for an expensive banquet taking place in a decadent mansionThe guards have a running bet on who can trip the most drunksImmediately referring the party to some other authority
17Tracking down the last few crates of very precious healing potions left in townThe platoon commander is very talkative and will spill secrets to the partyForcing the party to go fetch them something
18Drinking in the tavern to celebrate the retirement of a brother in armsThe platoon is an elite investigative unit on some crazy long-term huntReferring the party to some shitty inn or establishment that pays them a kickback
19Providing security for a theather play but getting too much into the plot to pay any attention to what’s going onThe platoon is a “loser squad” made up of previous prisoners serving some sort of punishment.Neutral
20Extinguishing a fire with tiny buckets of water.One of the guards is clearly going blind and the others keep pointing things out to him or herMistake the party for colleagues on a break
‘I shall deal with the matter momentarily,’ he said.

Criminal networks and gangs

Everybody needs a spicy network of criminals, cultists and the like. The important thing is to give them an agenda that is clear to the GM and needs to be discovered by the players, and some features to make it stand out. The network may be populating a dungeon-like area, over or underground, or be one of the factions in a city or location that the players have to understand and deal with. Ultimately, not all criminal networks are made for the players to “fight their way through”. They are often best used as the shadowy presence moving the strings in the world around the characters, popping in and out for specific quests. A hack and slash through bad guys is also fun, as long as it’s not a hoarde of similar-looking enemies.

In this table, the columns that flesh out the network also double as bits of information that may be revealed to the players if they ask around or overhear conversations about crimes in the area. It’s often good to make clear to the players, through NPC conversations, that these people have ears and eyes everywhere and nobody is to be trusted.

The feeling of paranoia can be used to ratchet up the tension and can create amazing moments at the table. Beware of potential “analysis paralysis” if the players decide to really not trust anybody and be extremely extremely suspicious of everything to the point that no fun is being had and players are cheesing every potentially ambiguous situation. In this case, a trap or an event that happens at them (big explosion, kidnapping of friendly NPC, etc), can set things in motion again.

Some other good tables for bandits and criminals are in the incredible Yoon Suin book, which is of course a “godfather book” (cos we are talking about criminals, get it? get it?) for procedural generation, crimes and exploration.

Most of the entries in this table are pretty “straight”, nothing too outlandish. Roll 1d20 per column.

DiceCriminal operation (discovered only through investigation)Based in.. (high DC)Masterminded by… (very high DC)Famous for/rumors (low DC)
1Smuggling magical componentsA giant underground bank vaultA captain of a ship or militiaNever committing violence on “civilians”
2Kidnapping the children of noble familiesAn invisible temple on top of a towerA sleazy politicianA rivalrly with another gang
3Doing the bidding for a bloodthirsty local lordA shipAn elemental possessed by an evil soulPutting the heads of those who cross the network on pikes
4Robberies of merchant caravansSecret chambers in the palace of a wealthy familyA super strong golem of a long-gone wizard/inventorBeing wealthy and spending lots of money around town
5Minting fake coinsA guildAn unexpectedly cunning goblin/kobold that has risen to the top of the gameRecruiting its members among barkeeps, bards and socially connected people
6Overthrowing the local governmentA local forest warded with magical glyphsA friend of the PC’s who was hiding a contract he was forced to sign with a demon/spiritLeaving a logo or a sign on the sites of their crimes
7Harvesting the power of nature for themselvesA casino or gambler’s parlourA very powerful creature capable of manipulating people (mind flayer, dragon, beholder , vampire etc)Having laid low for a while, or not reported any activity. Maybe they just went away?
8Eliminating one class/race of peopleThe lair of a beastA merchant that lives a lifestyle apparently outside his or her meansHaving a secret code or language
9Fanatical fullfilment of an ancient prophecyA library that has been overrun by a corrupt entityA local farmer who grew paranoid and erchant that lives a lifestyle apparently outside his or her meansviolent before committing to a life of crime (the Kaiser Soze)Being extremely adept at disguise
10Activate forbidden artefactsA caravan roaming from city to cityA traveller from another world who is trying to pay his way backHaving local officials in the back of their pockets
11Imposing the rule of a foreign powerA series of huts located in mountains, a secluded bay or other inaccessible regionsA living tree or a natural spirit that has resentment for humanoidsBeing very popular with farmers and poor people because of donations
12Stealing a ship of the royal navy or a giant beast/machine from the armyAn abandoned mine that they expanded into a network of tunnels under the city/locationA coven of witchesBeing the heirs of an ancient society of fighters or explorers that lost its purpose long ago
13Eliminating all forms of magicAn alchemist’s shop that acts as a frontA seemingly poor and unassuming bard/jester, who can roam undisturbedNever having confessed a crime, even under torture
14Opening a portal to another worldRuins of a manor or settlement covered in lush vegetationA child who inherited vast wealth and power from their parents and is controlled by his or her guardiansBeing aware of everybody and thing that comes in and out of the area
15Underground racing with fantastical beastsA fantastical cave with mushrooms, underground lakes and a strong magical presenceA cryptic from a morally corrupt ancient civilizationBeing capable of building hidden structures that can only be revealed by magical means
16Diverting ore for forging illegal weapons for an armyA red desent with canyons to hide, hotsprings and geysersA divine creature that is now stripped of his or her powersBeing made up largely of members of a given race or class. Which brings a stigma onto the innocents.
17Growing plantations of harmful plants Warehouses around the docks that are magically shifting or moving aroundA blacksmith driven mad by the desire to acquire the immense resources needed to forge a legendary weaponHaving recently been through a bloody internal war for succession of leadership
18Sealing the region off from the outside worldA theaterA shaman of a tribe that was long ago murdered or displaced by the local communityBeing extremely quiet and striking only at night, minimizing collateral damage
19Enslaving harmless creaturesThe barracks of a local militia, which is infiltrated by the networkA spy, diplomat or functionaryUnleashing monsters to do their bidding, using terrorist tactics
20Exploring, colonizing, and stealing artefacts from the “uncivilized” (or “civilized”) worldA valley with strongly independent but poor locals sustaining themselves on sheperding (and the criminal activity)The head of a powerful guild (mage guild, artisan guild etc) trying to secure a dominant position for its factionKnowing secret passages through the area and being seemingly capable of teleportation
“gabagool? Ova heeeeeeeh”

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