OSR: 3 Types of Modules

I think people write RPG books in three very different ways, for three very different goals.
Recent modules I have read and enjoyed.
Your interpretation may vary.
If your module is on this list and you don't like where I put it... tough. 

Modules as Art

High Density of Ideas
Low Usability
High Browsing Enjoyment

The "art crowd" of False Patrick/Arnold Goblin/Scrap Princess/etc. Their books and ideas are beautiful and inspiring and crammed full of thought-provoking ideas... but they aren't designed for ease of use. You can't easily buy a copy of Fire on the Velvet Horizon at 4:30 and run a game with it at 4:45. But chances are good that, if you buy a copy at 4:30, you'll be thinking about the ideas inside by 4:30 the next day. Painfully high signal-to-noise ratio.

Modules as Manuals

Low Density of Ideas
High Usability
Low Browsing Enjoyment

This is where I like to work. I have the soul of a washing machine designer. Modules are tools, designed to be used and carefully tested and crafted for maximum utility. There's only so many new ideas an average person can digest while running a module, so the density of ideas needs to be lower. The trick is to make a module simple without making it boring.

Modules as Novels

Low Density of Ideas
Low Usability
High Browsing Enjoyment

This is where most bad modules come from. The designer wants to tell a story or describe a world, and they write with that goal in mind, neglecting both usability and density. These modules can be fun to read but are rarely well suited for actual play. While they might contain a few interesting ideas, layers and layers of pointless padding often obscure any brilliant points. I like to think of modules as tools to tell stories. The more story you put into them to begin with, the less story there is to tell. 

If you're a big established game company with well-entrenched rich IP, your gamebooks can become storybooks.

Accidental vs. Deliberate Design
Some people write modules by just... writing a module. They don't have a particular ethos or goal in mind. They want to write about a tomb with some traps - cool! Here's a tomb with some traps. Some people have deliberate design goals and methods, and set out to tell a story or write a manual or create art. In the diagram above, I've grouped modules based on what I think the designers were doing. This might not actually be the case. It's very subjective and possible unfair. 

Both techniques can produce good results, but I'll always prefer to have a goal and a metric for success.

The Art of Writing

First, what is Art?
Oh boy. Here's my take on the oldest subject in the book.
First, here's a lousy, vastly oversimplified, and probably wrong lesson in neurology.
Art gets to skip the step where your brain figures out what it is and goes straight to the who/how/association steps. Emotion without cognition. Evocation without analysis.

Here's a very competent drawing of a toad. It's not art (to me.)
Here's another drawing of a toad. It is art (to me.)
And that's about the best I can do to explain it. Shouts of "you are wrong!" will be answered with "ok".

Having "It".

Some people seem to have the secret sense of how to draw a line or a curve or an eye to completely skip several steps in cognition. Some people can write a sentence that makes no sense but somehow conveys a precise and perfect meaning. You might as well call it "soul", because it skips the conscious brain and goes straight to the poorly understood inner workings. Maybe "it" can be learned... but I'm not sure. The end result of "learn to draw" books and writing courses seems to be competent work, but it never seems to be art. Technical improvement isn't enough.

I don't think I have "it". I can turn a passable phrase and pound out purple prose, but I don't think I have that special brain-skipping soul-touching genius. I'm perfectly happy to work towards Jane Austen instead of Franz Kafka.

Having "it", the mysterious insight, seems to be associated with misery and mental illness and never getting anything done. Poetic souls are rarely happy souls. Seeing beyond the ordinary has its downsides.

The Craft of Writing

If you want to write modules as manuals, read manuals.

Seriously. A good technical writing course is invaluable. If -> Then statements. Flowcharts. A clear progression of ideas. Indexing. Precise terminology. Clarity of layout and flow. Testing and retesting.

There are a lot of bad, lazily produced manuals out there; read those too. Figure out where they went wrong and how you would rewrite them.

Read cookbooks. Read instructions for building decks, landing aeroplanes, and milking cows.

Every page needs to justify its existence. Can you turn 1,000 words into 100 words? 100 words into a table? A table into a single line? Is everything you are describing of vital importance to the GM as they are running the module? If not, get rid of it. This might be difficult to do if your editor or publisher says, "I want 2 columns on Dwarf armour polish", but if you're self-publishing, you have no excuse for padding and filler.

And above all else, read criticism. Before you start working on a new project, skim hundreds of reviews for similar products and look for common complaints. Ensure, from the start, that your module does not have the same issues.

The Joy of Writing

It's easy to get carried away while writing - just look at this article! It was originally supposed to be about how The Beseeching Parliament is a very good module and how you should buy a copy.

If you've got a really good idea, write about it. Publish it. Tell the world. But be careful. An RPG module might not be the best vehicle for your idea. Sure, it's familiar and comforting. You've read modules for years. You can definitely write one.

But if you think you've got a novel in you, don't staple a statblock to it and put it up for sale as a module. Write a novel.

In Summary

If you're going to make art, make the best damn art you can.
If you're going to write a washing machine manual, write the best damn washing machine manual you can.
If you're going to tell a story, tell the best damn story you can.
And above all, figure out what you want to do before you start doing it.

OSR: Postwald's Cunning Deathtraps

Postwald is a Tin Dragon in my upcoming Veinscrawl (underground Veins of the Earth derived hexcrawl).

Postwald... is not a very good dragon. It's only the size of a horse, it's not very bright, and it ruins every plan it encounters. Postwald thinks it's a very clever dragon. The long-suffering kobolds that serve it are forced to agree.

If Postwald captures the PCs it will subject them to one of its many Cunning Deathtraps. Postwald's kobolds can design proper deathtraps and quietly despair at their master's attempts. Postwald gloats like a Bond villain.

Matias Cabezas Montoya

1d10 Cunning Deathtraps

1. The Ruination of Friendships

(2, 4, 6, etc. PCs)
A rope hanging from a pulley with a bucket on both ends. PCs are loosely tied and distributed evenly between the two buckets. The buckets are suspended from a sturdy beam over a (very real) acid pit and carefully balanced. 

Kobolds will chuck pebbles into the buckets from the windows around the deathtrap room. "As the rocks fall," Postwald gloats, "one bucket will become heavier than the other. But wait! You can save yourself... by putting rocks into your friend's bucket! Ooooh, how cruel!"

The PCs can escape by:
1. climbing the rope.
2. throwing rocks back at the kobolds to knock them out.
3. very patiently filling in the acid pool with rocks.
4. swinging the buckets from side to side to get to a window

Postwald can't fit into the room or any of the nearby passages.

2. The Pit of Death and Poison

(Any number of PCs)
A bucket and a well. "Full of the deadliest snakes in all Creation," Postwald will boast, "and vicious biting scissorfish! If the poison* doesn't kill you, the biting jaws of my precious fish will! Ahahaha!"

The snakes and fish died long ago. The bottom of the pit is odorous but not dangerous. If PCs scream and wail and act out dramatic death scenes, Postwald will be satisfied and leave them alone without checking. Its eyesight isn't very good, so even if it does check it might not notice the PCs moving around. A ledge in the pit leads to the fish feeding room (abandoned) and the rest of Postwald's lair.

*Postwald means venom, but it doesn't know that.

3. The Minecart Problem.

(3 or more PCs)
"Aha! You see before you a horrible dilemma! On the left track, one of your friends. On the right track, the other. By the use of this lever,  you alone control the path of a minecart full of rocks, which will soon come rushing down this track! Which friend will you mangle?"

Postwald is standing on the leftmost track. It will not move until it's too late. The minecart will knock the wind right out of it; all the kobolds in the area will rush over to check it, giving everyone plenty of time to escape. Alternatively, the lever can be wedged in an intermediate position, causing the minecart to derail and scatter rocks everywhere.

4. The Prisoner's Intriguing But Difficult Choice

(2 or more PCs)
"I offer you this simple choice! You must choose whether to Suffer or Betray. If you choose to Suffer and your friend chooses to Betray, I will eat you and let them go free. Similarly, if they choose to Betray and you choose to...

No wait, let me start again. If you both choose to Betray,  you both will be eaten! But if you both choose to Suffer, I will let you go free. Now... what do you choose?"

The PCs are all in the same room. They can communicate freely.

5. Chess

(Any number of PCs)
"A game of wit and daring. Chess! The true game of wise people. If I defeat you,  you will die. But if you defeat me, I will let you go free."

Postwald doesn't understand the rules of chess. It has the basics, but it can never remember how the knights move. It will also ask the PCs for advice. Any reasonable bluff, and several unlikely ones like the "Queen Death-Spiral rule" and the "Reverse Castle Mortgage" should work. If the GM has a chessboard, they could act out the game against the players.

6. The Horrible Saw of Messy Death

(Any number of PCs)
The PCs are strapped to a thick iron table on a sliding rail. A huge spinning sawblade whirrs menacingly. "Goodbye, intruders," Postwald gloats. 

As the PCs approach the blade, Postwald rushes over and shuts off the machinery. "No, wait, that's not right," it says, and rotates the table so the PCs are heading into the saw feet-first. "Much better."

The saw will hit the metal table and explode. PCs might be lacerated, but the room will fill with smoke, sparks, panicking kobolds, and secondary explosions. The saw fragments will cut a few of the leather straps binding the PCs.

7. A Duel of Honour

(Any number of PCs)
"We shall fight like nobles. You may have your weapons. I will have my teeth and claws and fearsome intellect. Ten paces, turn, and then the duel begins. Ready? One, two..."

Postwald has its back to the PCs. The exit is unguarded; all the kobolds have also turned away. They can easily make a run for it. When Postwald turns around, it will pause, then shout, "Invisible, eh? Well have at you! Hah! Aha!" as it stomps around, smashing furniture and fighting imaginary opponents for several minutes.

8. Your Just Reward

(Any number of PCs)
"As a reward for your greed, you will be given a fitting gift. Molten gold! Yes! Bring the cauldron forward!"

Observant PCs will note that the cauldron is more... warm-ish than molten. The kobolds will object but Postwald will silence them. The cauldron will tip over, dropping a shower of gold pieces and warm-ish block of solid gold onto their heads. One PC might be concussed. The block of gold will also fall on Postwald's toe, causing it considerable pain. The PCs can easily escape in the chaos.


9. Agonizingly Slow Drowning In A Glass Tank

(Any number of PCs)
"You shall suffer exceedingly slowly as this tank fills with water. I'll come check on you every so often. Try to hold your breath! Ahahahaha!"

The 15' high glass tank is slowly being filled from a water channel. It has no lid; the PCs can hop out once the water reaches a certain height. Additionally, the glass is fragile, and can be broken with well-timed blow. The real trick is timing the escape to avoid the occasional patrolling kobold.

10. The Deadliest Game.

"I will hunt you like a cave spider hunts a cave cricket, except much bigger, and also you can't jump as high. To be noble, I will give you a head start. You have until the sand runs from this hourglass to evade me."

The PCs are given all gear and items back. They have a 30 minute head start. Postwald, despite its claims, is not a mighty hunter. Its kobolds will try to push the PCs into an obvious path or trap them somewhere Postwald can't possibly miss.... but it usually misses them anyway.


OSR: Horrible Magical Candyland

So you've read Veins of the Earth and you want to try it out.

One problem; your players have read Veins too. Or they know about it by reputation. Or they wisely fear a huge evil-looking tome. Or the invitation to "visit Patrick Stuart's horrible twisted dreams" didn't appeal. Anything deeper than a broom closet and they flee. Any hint of a cave and they panic.

You could take content from Veins of the Earth and fling it into the clouds, making Lumps of the Sky.

Or you could do something even sillier.

Introducing: Horrible Magical Candyland

Step 1: Buy and read Veins of the Earth
Step 2: Build a gigantic factory. Seriously gigantic. Mostly underground.
Step 3: Run a slightly modified Veins game.
       Step 4: You might want to read Blood in the Chocolate too.
                 Step 5. Sing silly songs.

Wait, What?

Look, everyone knows candy factories are magical places. It's in the rules.

Caves, in a way, are kind of like the interior of industrial buildings. They are dangerous. They make no sense to an untutored visitor. Try walking in a straight line through an oil refinery or a paper mill and you'll see what I mean. There are mysterious drops, forests of pipes, clouds of steam, strange locked doors, rattling loops of chain, and plenty of hazards. 

You can use Veins of the Earth to generate a factory (if you're able to adapt cave descriptions on the fly).

Rules Changes

Light isn't a problem anymore. The factory is fairly well lit. Replace all instances of "light" with "water". The air dries you out. You need to keep drinking water or you'll desiccate. Water is Initiative. Does this make sense? No, but it's OK.

Generate caves normally except they are made of pipes and tubes and chocolate fountains and toffee waterfalls. 

Food is abundant, but Nutrients are rare. You can eat until you burst and still starve to death. Only a few creatures provide nutrients. 

All the caves are 
squashed close together. Everything is jostling for space. 


Water-otter. Dribbles water to melt through candy. Wants to eat your bone marrow.

The Master of the Candy Factory. Whimsical. Wants to teach people moral lessons. Some sort of extra-dimensional entity that feeds on unfairness.


Arachnopolis Rex
Chaotic city made of candy wrappers and discarded industrial machinery. Crewed by thousands of tiny child-clones made by the Master of the Factory and his Shrinkifying Ray. 

Cinnamon elementals. 

Atomic Bees
Floating saltwater taffy. Horribly mutating side effects.

Blackfoot Gigaferret
Ferret transformed into a guard. Will wait until you sleep, tap you on the shoulder (mouth full of teeth, eyes shining) then tell you that sleeping is not permitted in this area. Will follow you until you lose your mind from lack of sleep.

Calcinated Cancer Bear
Rock-candy golem. Might be a child underneath; who can say? Big faceted blue crystals.

Derpa Lerpas, the workers. They sing songs where all the rhymes in a stanza are the same word. Dumb as heck, but very hard to kill. 

Castilian Caddis Larvae
Deranged Dentist, living in a lair of teeth and steel implements. A larval tooth fairy. Wants to pull teeth. Horrible buzzing tentacle-drills.

People whose teeth have been removed by the Deranged Dentist. Wander around moaning. They want to steal your teeth. 


Toffee golem. Sticky. 

Children transformed into Kinder Surprise toys inside of chocolate eggs. They are excitable, cheerful, and indestructible.

The Egengraü
Instead of stealing your memories it steals your words and your bones. Eventually you'll turn into a Derpa Lerpa.

Fossil Vampire
Carbonized children in a thick layer of industrial sugar-sludge. 

Fungal Ambassodile
Quality control auditor. Two heads. One is mercilessly capitalistic, the other is idealistic and quality-obsessed. They bicker. They want you to taste samples. 

Funginid Slaves
Various flavours of living chocolate people. White, rose, milk, dark, with associated personalities. Some have nutritious fruit inside. 

Rescue Ranger. Mouse in a vest. Will pull you out of danger and drop you off elsewhere in the factory (no the surface, oh no, never the surface). The more perilous the rescue the better.

Living statues of the Master of the Factory, containing bits of his vices. 

Igneous Wrath
Living industrial accident. What happens when you drop a ladle of molten tungsten through a time machine on a full moon on Friday the 13th. 

Ignimbrite Mite
Bits of souls. Like the soot-balls from Spirited Away. They are helpful but can only speak one word each. If you eat one you get a bit weird but can also speak to candy or do other neat tricks.

Guests of the factory. Ragged tour group uniforms (the same as yours). Horrifically obese or wracked with sugar-related conditions. Scurvy. They deny this. Everything is just fine. They like it here. They want you to stay. 

Squirrels. Used to sort good nuts from bad nuts. Like all squirrels, they are powerfully insane, and will smash your head open if they think you are thinking bad thoughts. The madness effects from the Lamenters tables are just the side-effects of concussions.

Mantis Shrimp
Crystal-candy predator, sharp and thin and brittle. Long stabbing talons.

The ghosts of the people you might have been if you didn't eat so much candy. Better, fitter, smarter, thinner. 

Liquid sweetness. Traps you in happy cloying dreams, not nightmares. Comfortable. Cave full of skeletons, people who starved in their own happy worlds.

Bubblegum people. Sticky mouths full of moist teeth. They want to chew you.

Really big Knotsman (visitor) trapped in diabetic fever-dream. Instead of tentacles, syringes. Medical nightmare zone.

Panic Attack Jack
Deranged kids on a sugar high. Their touch induces the Rapture.

Phantom Hand of Gargas
Some sort of mobile industrial accident or living safety warning. Tries to pull you from 3D-land into 2D-land, where it can mash you with gears or falling objects.

Psychomycosis Megaspores
Gumdrop megaspores. 

Pyroclastic Ghouls
Original board of directors, lovingly carbonized and coated in sugar dust. They think everything is going splendidly

Everlasting gobstopper. Will outlast the stars and the gods. 

The Rapture
No change.

Swarms of fruit candy. Kind of cute until they try to crawl down your throat and into your lungs. 

Workers in industrial suits. Will ask you pointless questions about "reciprocating turbines" and "sump-shaft eight". Voices are distorted, like a subway station announcement.

Sonic Pigs!
Marzipan Pigs! They make you participate in festive dances. 

Spectre of the Bröcken

Cavity elementals. Ooooh, your poor teeth.

Spotlight Dogs
Safety Dogs. Hunt you with siren-faces and amber rotating lights unless you wear proper safety equipment for the area. This varies widely. Might need to kill some 

Horrible hooked cranes overhead, accidentally grab you instead of their targets. 

Cotton candy sheep. Much less dangerous, but it will get all over your hands and you can't wash them easily.

Tachyon Troll
Child-man trapped in a time loop as punishment for "impatience". Has seen it all before. 

Butterscotch ooze.

Titanskull Hermit Crab
Gingerbread witch living in mobile gingerbread castle. Will trade for all sorts of things, but always tries to trap you in an iron cage. Fairly obvious, possibly apologetic about it.

Sugar-adapted vampire tortoises. They smell nutrients. Their shells are beautiful layered hard candy. 

Armoured Virtue Inspector. Will quiz you on your faults. You'll always get them wrong. Will try to wrangle you into a machine for an appropriate punishment.

Golden Ticket Inserter. Sneaks into houses, give kids golden tickets in their next candy bar, escorts them to the factory. Then returns to erase the memories of the parents. Like a weird folded-up spider in a blue tailored suit.

Ultraviolet Butterfly
Lollipop butterflies. Suck on one to trip balls. Delicious, addictive. 

Zombie Coral
Chalk-candy children, fused and coated and stored in sacks.


Treacle Lords from the Deep Treacle Mines, mad that the Master of the Factory has pumped away their homes.

Deep Janeen
Replace "stone" with "chocolate" and make them another kind of chocolate elemental in vast underground palaces.

Sugar-addled workers. They know what all the machines do (or do they)? Quick, this way. Aha! It was a trap! Oh no, it was a trap, we must flee!

Factory building golems. As cheerless as the factory is cheerful. Grey men building prismatic cathedrals.

Nougat creatures from the world's nougat core. They whisper recipe dreams into your ears.


Table of Candy Words to Add To Your Cave Names and Descriptions

1. Gumdrop
2. Lollipop
3. Gumball
4. Chocolate
5. Jellybean
6. Mint.
7. Caramel
8. Cinnamon
9. Sour Candy
10. Fudge
11. Cherry
12. Lemon
13. Candy-coated
14. Nougat.
15. Toffee
16. Taffy
17. Peppermint
18. Peanut Butter
19. Liquorice
20. Sour


OSR: Veinscrawl Random Encounter Tables + Update

Here are the draft random encounter tables for my underground Veins of the Earth-inspired hexcrawl. You can read all previous posts with the Veinscrawl tag here.

When I'm done, the whole thing will be released as one big free PDF. In the meantime, you get some sneak previews.

Here's the draft map.

Each hex is 6 hours across. Relative sizes vary. The map is a map of proximity in terms of travel, not in terms of actual 3D space. Some hexes might be folded over each other.

The thick black lines are impassible terrain. Fissures, chasms, folds, solid waves of stone. You can still cross them, but it requires a difficult climb, a spell, a secret guide, a hidden path, etc. If the PCs really want to find a way they'll find one, but casual travelers or cave-addled lunatics can't easily cross.

The blue lines are major, navigable rivers. The Veins are full of water, but these lakes and rivers are landmarks.

Most hexes are controlled by a specific faction. Hexes marked with a dash instead of a name are neutral, contested, or deserted spaces. Each hex will have a brief terrain description, a major encounter or location, and a hidden encounter or location.

Don't worry too much about mapping or navigation or rules at this stage. This article is just a sneak preview (and a handy way to generate and classify Veins encounters).

Shahab Alizadeh

Layers of the Veins

Littoral: the light grey layer. The shoreline. Encounters here follow recognizable surface-world logic. Things here have seen the sun or know what it is.

Profundal: the mid grey layer. The transition zone. The sun is a legend. Surface logic will actively get you killed.

Abyssal: the dark grey layer. The depths. Beyond light, beyond hope. Encounters here follow their own deadly logic.

In hexes controlled by a faction, roll on the Faction Random Encounter Table. In neutral hexes, roll on the appropriate Depth Encounter Table.

Each encounter has an Omen. If the PCs are moving slowly and cautiously, they will get the Omen before they run into the Encounter. They might have time to douse their lights, hide, observe, or plan an ambush. As they learn to recognize Omens, they will be able to plan and manipulate encounters. Not all encounters are hostile; the usual Reaction rolls still apply.

Side Note: the der0 Encounter Table and the Ruins Encounter Table aren't done yet. The Ruins are a high-level, high-challenge area full of explorers, looters, tomb-guardians, and traps. The der0 are... special.

Side Note: the tables aren't finalized yet. Some might need tweaking or improvement. Page references will also link to a section in the hexcrawl PDF with extra information, tables, stats, etc.

Depth Encounter Tables


1d20 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Fizzing, crackling,salt and bleach. Faint metal-on-glass scratching. 1 Alkalion, in a salt-cave-warren. 1d6 lion spores, drifting in the air.  VotE pg. 16
2 Blind men tap-tap-tapping. Old books, straw, bones. Creak of pulleys. 1 Arachnopolis Rex, twitch-stalking, moving carefully. A curiosity, then a danger. VotE pg. 24
3 Silence, and the faintest click of claw on stone. 1 Blackfoot Gigaferret. Will stalk party until they sleep or wander into a dangerous area. VotE pg. 30
4 Oil, guano. Cacophonous maddening noise across the entire spectrum. 1d6x1d100 Lamenters, nesting, shitting, squawking. 1 Ghost per 50 Lamenters. VotE pg. 78
5 Skittering, dripping. Faint fresh meat and dusty ice. 1 Mantis Shrimp. 5-in-6 chance there is a deep sump nearby. 1-in-6 chance of body parts. VotE pg. 82
6 Soft ridiculous plops. Hedge-trimmer clatter. Faint copper blood. 3d20 Scissorfish sprinting straight towards the party. A shallow stream in the cave.  VotE pg. 110
7 Distant mining explosions, a rave, a rock concert in an oil refinery. 5d8 Sonic Pigs! A shuffling herd, faces against the rocks, paranoid and twitchy and noisy. VotE pg. 115
8 Dishes being stacked. Shifting glimmer of pearl shells. 4d4 Toraptoise, slowly licking the walls. They ignore strong prey. VotE pg. 139
9 Smells of sick children. A muffled cry, a swish of silk. 1 Trogloraptor, 2d4 children on its back. Just sedated one; PCs might hear it cry, might glimpse. VotE pg. 143
10 Stink like compost, with a faint wet slapping sound like wet leather boots. 1 Carrion Crawler, complacent, massive, eating a corpse. Roll again to see what it's eating. AD&D MM pg. 13
11 Faint hiss, like an hourglass. Slight reflection of light Long white feelers. 2d6 Cave Centipedes, loose and hungry, branded with Olm-marks. Reward for return. AD&D MM pg. 14
12 Chittering, faint echolocating clicks. Sharp guano stink. Fast footsteps. 5x2d10 Goblins, hunting. Blind and toothy. Bone knives and rocks. Swarming, chasing, cornering. AD&D MM pg. 47
13 Silver threads in the air. Silence. Shifting shadows. 1 Cave Spider, in the cave's highest point, patiently waiting for weak prey. Can speak; doesn't want to. AD&D MM pg. 92
14 Flutter of wings, copper smell. Whoosh like a lobbed baseball. 2d6 Stirges, hanging and dropping like thrown knitting needles. Cave-mud nest, 1d6 fat larva. AD&D MM pg. 92
15 Splash of water, streak of white flesh. Stone that moves. 1d6 Cave Eels in a stream. Waiting for feet. Trip, then go for the throat. They look like white marble. AD&D MM pg. 36
16 Faint conversation. Light. Click of metal on stone. 1d6 Volume-Folk. Generate type/activity if not already known.
17 Hop-scratch, skitter, twitch. Small flicks of white among the stones. 1d6 rations worth of Cave Crickets. Tiny, mostly harmless, but tricky to catch. 0.5 hrs per ration.
18 Air pulling you forwards. Warmer, living air, faint scent of sulphur and spice. Chasm. Cannot see other side (40x1d10m across). Might be a way down/around. Delay 1d6 hrs.
19 Splash of water. Humidity rises. Faint drip and burble. Sump. Caves sink into the water. Can be navigated without swimming, but slowly. Delay 1d6 hrs.
20 Deja-vu. Unease and irritability, slowly rising into panic. Winding Passages. Way forward is blocked; way back is uncertain. Delay 2d6 hrs.


1d20 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Squeak and pop. Crackle and wheeze. Smells like sickness. 1 Calcinated Cancer Bear, sniffing its way towards fire and meat (in that order). VotE pg. 32
2 Food fight splats, monosylables, gawping, plopping. Aniseptic reek. 4d6 Cambrimen, blundering around, looking for something forgotten, inspecting everything. VotE pg. 34
3 Soil and wet clay. Slow landslide, methodical stomping. 1 Cromagnogolem, sniffing without lungs, cold vapour curls. Attacks relentlessly. VotE pg. 46
4 Chalky, ashen. Brittle creaking. Mad pool cue squeaks. Vein of black. 1d4, exploding on a 4, Fossil Vampires. Half wedged in the rock, so so so easy to disturb. VotE pg. 53
5 Screaming, growing closer. A pit. A scrap of metal or a tangle of rope. 1 Panic Attack Jack barreling out of the dark, ropes slithering like snakes, inflicting the Rapture. VotE pg. 96
6 Wet dog, chlorine bleach. Scrabbling, panting, faint ultrasonic buzz. 4d6 Spotlight Dogs, hunting you in a long gallery. Blind, terrorize, harrass, and mark. VotE pg. 123
7 Distant scream from above. Two stalagmites appear. 1 Still-Tor-Man, fishing for delicious flesh. If you know what it is, run. If not, stare upwards. VotE pg. 126
8 Glass necklaces poured into a bowl. Ozone and fizz. 1d50 Stormsheep, searching for lightning, following gold-flecked quartz. 2-in-6 chance they are starving. VotE pg. 128
9 Soft leather shoe slap. Ammonia, urine, blood. Moisture. 1 Tetracharcarodron slithering along the roof of the cave. Bizzare, impossible. Then, the charge. VotE pg. 134
10 Coconut shell clatter, deep drums, claw clacks. Ozone and magic. 1d4 Titanskull Hermit Crabs waiting for good skulls. Might want yours. Might trade (in skulls). VotE pg. 136
11 Faint fluttering, slight musty odour. Purple-pain light, flickers of emotion. 5d50 Ultraviolet Butterflies, 300-5d50 caterpillars in skulls. 1d6-2 Volume-Folk, deranged. VotE pg. 146
12 Did that column just move? Creak and click of stone, wet slap of flesh. 1d6 Ropers, lurking. Roll on Littoral table for scavengers waiting nearby. AD&D MM pg. 83
13 Bludgeoning crash of stone. Thump of heavy footfalls. Heavy breaths. 1 Umber Hulk, battering its way through stone and water. Scarred, dented, belligerent. AD&D MM pg. 98
14 Rattle and squelch like a subway train made of sausage meat. 1 Purple Worm, migrating, filling entire cave segments. Easy to avoid if you want to run blindly. AD&D MM pg. 80
15 Flick of fin, splash, rise in humidity. Polished bones in the water. 2d6 Floating Eyes in a stream. Hypnotize then drown. Phosphorescent cuttlefish pulses.  AD&D MM pg. 40
16 Shuffling. Faint, hoarded light. Click of metal on stone. 1d6 Volume-Folk. Generate type/activity if not already known.
17 Deja-vu. Unease and irritability, slowly rising into panic. Winding Passages. Way forward is blocked; way back is uncertain. Delay 2d6 hrs.
18 Air pulling you forwards. Hot, angry air. Whorls of steam. Chasm. Cannot see other side (40x1d10m across). Might be a way down/around. Delay 1d6 hrs..
19 Splash of water. Humidity rises. Faint drip and burble. Sump. Caves sink into the water. Can be navigated without swimming, but slowly. Delay 1d6 hrs.
20 - Transient. Roll on either the Littoral or the Abyssal tables (50% chance). -


1d20 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Two voices, bickering. Soft patter of crocodile feet. Vaguely fishy smell. 1 Fungal Ambassodile on a critical diplomatic mission. 50% chance it's dead, implicating PCs.  VotE pg. 56
2 Gravel clatter, lime. Scrape and stomp. Muttering. 1 Gilgamash, roving on its quest. Shambling. Roll for goals, etc, before the PCs see it. VotE pg. 66
3 Chemicals, wings, fire, roar and clatter. Industrial accident at speed. 1 Igneous Wrath coming in like a dive bomber. Hungry, mad, and fast. Will hit and run. VotE pg. 68
4 Sulphur, faint crystallized magic, gentle bells, sizzling. 1d20 Ignimbrite Mites, living symbols, flickering like a constellation, trying to hit tongues. VotE pg. 71
5 Smells like nostalgia. Faint voices, soft and high and comforting. 4d4 Meanderthals, only real to humans. Murderously real. Otherwise, faint hateful ghosts. VotE pg. 84
6 Liquid moonlight glow, flickering shadows, nightmare hiss. 1 Mondmilch pool. Shimmering impossible nightmare forms and art. 1d6 gibbering artists. VotE pg. 87
7 Bleach. Falling glass, faintly musical. Twinkling light. 1 Radiolarian, drifting. PCs can observe it from a distance to gain insight into adjacent hex contents. VotE pg. 105
8 Burning stone, hot air. Thump of lead. Bullet whip-crack. Dents in walls. 1d50 Splinterlads, playfully swooping. Break things. Tear ropes, swords, teeth. Find chalk and quartz. VotE pg. 120
9 Clawed footprints, click of steps. Faint smell of salt. A shouted challenge. 1 Trilobite-Knight, roving, searching, testing its skills, telling tales. VotE pg. 141
10 Creak and scrape of bone and chalk. Dust in the air. Salt. 2d4 Zombie Coral, stumbling, reaching, grasping. Blood releases more. VotE pg. 150
11 Buzz of magic. Rage-screams. Explosions. Gnashing teeth. Blood. 1 Beholder, flying along, blasting or tormenting things. A lunatic with power. Frothing. AD&D MM pg. 10
12 Rustling, unfolding, skin on skin. A huge eye bulging in the dark. 1 slimy, boneless Giant. Worm-like, fast, crawling through gaps. Crushing fingers, wet suction mouth. AD&D MM pg. 45
13 Faint drip of water and hiss of snakes. Petrified bats, spiders, cave crickets. 1 Medusa and statue-cave. Polite. Prefers conversation, but will petrify beautiful people. AD&D MM pg. 66
14 Rumbling. Cracking stone, sliding tomb lids, click of claws. Dust. 1d4, exploding on a 4, Fossil Dinosaurs. Could be harmless. Could be deadly. Watch the walls. AD&D MM pg. 23
15 Splashing water, deep pools. Swish of something dark and snake-like. 2d6 Lampreys from the Nightmare Sea in a deep pool. Want to drain blood, youth, and madness. AD&D MM pg. 59
16 Whispers. A clank in the dark. Sudden nausea, emotions, pain, ozone. der0 Encounter. Roll on the der0 Encounter Table. 
17 Terrible groans and shrieks and scrape of claws. You can hear the teeth. False Omen. Nothing. It passed by. Might induce paranoia.
18 Basalt walls, glass-smooth caves, nightmare sea incursions. Impossible Terrain. No way through; must go around. Delay 6 hours.
19 Shimmer of air, temperature drops slightly. Scraps of rope. Difficult Climb. Delay 1d6 hours. If Rapture attack delayed, it hits now.
20 Sweat becomes painful. Headache. Difficulty focusing on hands. Heat Exhaustion. Saps energy, awareness. Delay 1d6 hours. Lose 1d6 HP (to 0 at worst).
JiHun Lee

Faction Encounter Tables


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Faint pattering of feet, splash of water. Yeep of surprise. 1 lost Olm child. Terrified. Wants to get home. May have escaped from Trogloraptor or Drow. VotE pg. 90
2 Ragged breathing, blood spots, scraps of skin. 1 wounded Olm. Armed, dying. Will ask PCs to return body to sump in exchange for future favour. VotE pg. 90
3 Faintest glimpse of a white sine-wave tail. 1 Olm scout. Will observe PCs, follow them into adjacent hex. Might help, might not. Opportunistic. VotE pg. 90
4 Spear flies out of the darkness. Unless PCs are running, 4-in-6 chance to hit. 3+1d6 Olm in a raiding party. Spears, nets. Smart. Will make 1 kill and retreat. Might help PCs. VotE pg. 90
5 Muttering, glimmer of magic. Slow, exaggerated gestures in a clear cave. 2 Olm mages in a ritual duel. Will turn on PCs if hostile, help or ask to judge if polite. VotE pg. 90
6 Cold water, deeper and deeper. White corpses. 3d10 sleeping Olm in a small Olm-sump. 1 is awake and watching PCs. VotE pg. 90
7 Flick of rope from above. Click-hiss of information. Clinks and scrapes. 3d100 Olm on epic migration-rappel. May ask PCs to assist, watch for air-threats. VotE pg. 90
8 Rising and falling hiss of legs, Olm singing, dancing. 1d6 Olm herding 2d10 Cave Centipedes to a new pasture. Drunk as lords, cheerful. VotE pg. 90
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table.
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results.


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Waltz-march of padded feet. Coloured silk, pale flesh. 1 Drow with 2d6 Immaculate Slaves, carrying bales of silk to a buyer. Polite but very strange.
2 Eye-shine in the dark. A faint, perfect smile. 1 Drow sitting naked on a pillar or limestone shelf, watching PCs. Distant, disinterested.
3 Burst of magic, then violence. Joints lock, sleep-fog rolls. 2d4 Drow Slave-Takers, raiding, targeting the PCs. Sudden spells and pain.
4 Wailing, groaning. Red lanterns fly overhead. 1d4 Drow Slave-Masters, 2d6 Immaculate Slaves, 2d6 freshly captured Volume-Folk slaves.
5 Soft red glow, careful steps. 1 Drow Memory-Seller. Will buy memories for silver, sell you others. Fear, love, power.
6 Blood trail, slightly disturbed silt. A fragment of silk in the air. 2 dead Drow. Murder, suicide, murder-suicide? 2 silver daggers, other treasure?
7 Brief shower of rose petals. Rose petals in drifts. Like a brief snowstorm. Beautiful, inexplicable.
8 Black stone gate, briar-pointed walkways. Cold stone halls. Abandoned fortress, or is it? 1 Drow somewhere inside, watching PCs. Safe, but do not sleep here.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table.
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results.


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Chip chip chip of a pickaxe, then a crack, a clatter. 1d6 Antling Workers, mining. They just mined through the wall. Confused, alarmed.
2 Lanten light, cleared sightlines, spear-holes, a door. 2d6 Antling Soldiers, 1d4 Antling Workers in a forward base. Worried, jumpy, hostile.
3 Conversation, lantern light, militant lockstep marching. 1 Antling Diplomat with 6 Antling Soldiers and 1 Spider Ant. On a vital mission. Suicidal.
4 Hiss of falling rope, arguing, click of hammers against pitons. 1d6 Antling Soldiers and 1 Spider Ant on a training mission. Want to learn from PCs if possible.
5 Running feet, hasty conversation, dim light. 1 Antling Worker on the run with her Volume-Folk "husband". Might be wiling, might not be. Romantic.
6 Militant marching, lantern light. Pauses and starts. Scratching. 3d6 Antling Soldiers, 1d6 Antling Wizards, and 1d6 Antling Workers on mass patrol. Jumpy.
7 Scraps of chitin, drips of blood. A leg twitches in the darkness. Massacre. 1d6 dead Antlings. Half are still edible. Whatever did this can't be far away.
8 Shuffling, clicking. Moaning. Lots of pauses. Drips of blood. 1d6 wounded Antling Soldiers trying to make their way home. Will warn of contents of next hex.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table.
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results.


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Faint blue-green glow and a steady hiss. Glass glitters, folds. 1 Archaean strolling, touching the rock. Trying to get a good sightline on a quasar. VotE p.26
2 Steady buzzing, slow and low. Faint smell of sugar and ozone. 2d6 Atomic Bees, wandering. Track them to a buried atomic (1d4x100 bees) beehive, fresh atomic honey. VotE p.29
3 Creak and scrape of iron on iron. Slow fat stomping. 1d4 Rust Monsters. Surly. Focused on iron; don't really want to eat you. 1d6 eggs. AD&D MM pg. 83
4 Streaks of ash, bubbled rock, faint glow, nausea. 1d6 very confused irradiated Shadows, burnt onto the wall long ago by Archaeans. AD&D MM pg. 86
5 A busy kitchen next to a scrapyard. Clouds of toxic vapour. 2 Archaeans in heated debate or passion or something. Mercury droplets everywhere. 
6 Ceramic snakes in and out of walls. Faint sizzle. Steam. 1 half-buried Snail Reactor in a stream. Warm, valuable, deadly.
7 Nausea, roaring, burning, crashing. Apocalyptic. Blood pours from ears. 1 enraged Cursed Metal Golem. Now would be a good time to run.
8 Glimmer of gold. Cracked stone. Toxic rust-red water streams by, scars skin. Pile of metal. Gold, silver, iron, other stranger ores, neatly stacked.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table.
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results.

Fungid Valley

1d20 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Squelch-patter of feet, bobbing mushroom cap head, wheezeing. 1 Myconid, pre-sporulation, roving. Manic, looking for food, willing to kill. VotE p.59
2 Muttering, shuffling. Swaying heads close together. 3d6 Myconids guarding a fungal growth. Mild debate. Might attack, might not. VotE p.59
3 Shuffling, moaning. Faint yeasty smell. Blorping. 2d4 floating Psychomycosis Megaspores, 3d6 zombies. Burbling, drifting. Shuffling, clawing. VotE p.100
4 Rumble, stilt-step of spiked legs. The wall appears to be moving. 1 Gill Beetle, roving, churning filter-mouthparts. Not hostile but does block tunnels. AD&D MM p. 9
5 Fat plops and squelches, spreading shadow. 1 Black Pudding searching for food. Surprisingly quick. Alpha predator. AD&D MM p. 10
6 Weird silhouettes, strange tumbling shapes, faint bitter smell. 1d6 Gas Spores, drifting. Roll on Littoral table for shape. Drift as if attacking. AD&D MM p. 42
7 Gently waving tendrils. Sickly-sweet smell. Puffs of purple spores. 1 patch of Violet Fungus. Tendrils reach out, seeking prey. AD&D MM p. 42
8 Sizzle, slight bare patch above and below slime. 1 patch of Green Slime. Drips slowly. More of a terrain hazard. AD&D MM p. 49
9 Faint caramel smell, drifts of brown spores. 1 patch of Brown Mold, blocking a portion of the cave. AD&D MM p. 71
10 Faint flour smell, drifts of brown spores. 1 patch of Yellow Mold, blocking a portion of the cave. 10% chance of being sentient. AD&D MM p. 71
11 Squishing, rolling. Difficult to notice. 2d6 minuscule Ochre Jellies, crawling around, trying to get into packs to eat rations. AD&D MM p. 75
12 Faint whistling, waving tendrils. Unusually vibrant growth. 1d6 Shriekers, hidden in other growth. Roll again if activated. AD&D MM p. 87
13 Mouse-like skittering, fleeing the light or sniffing for food. 3d6 Mushmice. 1 ration each, 1-in-6 chance of being poisonous.
14 Luminous green-blue glow. Small clouds of flies. 2 Glowing Fungi branches. Can be used as torches. Last 3 hours.
15 Buzzing, growing louder. A flicker of wings. Tiny mushmice fleeing. 1 Burrowgrub Swarm. Envelops, looking to bite and lay eggs. Most dangerous if infected. 
16 Noisy flapping, like pancakes being thrown at a cat. Flickering shadows. 2d6 Sporebats, flapping moistly. Will try to nest on PCs. Looking for coal and wood.
17 Deranged chanting, a humanoid head-shape bobbing, glint of steel. 1d6 Adapted Humanoids, gathering. Mad, fungus-addled, half-buried in walls. Hungry.
18 - Roll on the Rare Fungus table. -
19 - Roll again twice on this table. -
20 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results. -


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Moaning, stink of flesh on stone. 1d10 Cholerids, melancholy but in the way. VotE p.38
2 Slap of feet and clap of hands. 1d10 Cholerids, dancing as if acting out a festival. VotE p.38
3 Patter of running feet, mad whispering. 2d10 Cholerids, seeking death.  VotE p.38
4 Roar-whisper, awful stench. 1d100 Cholerids in an idle crowd. VotE p.38
5 Stampede, moans, rage, rot. 1d100 Cholerids in a raging swarm. VotE p.38
6 Slow stomp, then pause, then stomp. 1 lost Myconid, trying to find a way out. VotE p.59
7 Elegant steps, shuffling trail, clink of gold tomb-goods. 1 Cholerid noble in tomb-gold, 1d10 fawning courtiers. VotE p.38
8 Screams, slash of weapons, moans. 1d6 Volume-Folk besieged by 2d10 Cholerids. VotE p.38
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table.
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results.


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Faint fungal rot, glimmer of gemstone, signs of struggle. 1 Dvergr, dead for ages. Crystal core intact, tools looted.
2 Solid pillars, clear field of vision, huge doors, crossbow slits. Dvergr fortress. 5+2d10 Dvergr inside, armed, guarding minehead. 
3 Steam, smell of rotting fungi. Stone walls, copper drains. Dvergr farm-distillery. 5 Dvergr guarding. 3d10 Myconid slaves ready for slaughter. VotE p.59
4 Shuffling in the dark, quiet debate. Flash of blue-white lantern light. 5 Dvergr on an exploratory mission. Want to go to a random hex. Will pay in, gems, gold.
5 Shuffling in the dark, quiet debate. Flash of blue-white lantern light. 5 Dvergr on a trading mission. Trade less work for more work. Want to examine everything PCs have.
6 Walls become smooth, square, faceted. Dvergr mine-road, abandoned, engraved, semi-fortified. Safe to rest here.
7 Rumble, scrape of iron on stone, a whirring drill bursting through a wall. 1 Dvergr Mining Engine moving through stone. Might be able to follow it to another hex.
8 Warm air, sudden right-angle drop in the cave floor ahead. 1 Dvergr mineshaft, very deep, square, steep stairs. 5 Dvergr working at the bottom.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table. -
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results. -


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Silence, dust. A ruined village. Lots of rooms to check. 1d6 Paralytic Ghouls, buried, claws out. Like feral landmines.
2 Hiss of breath. A shadow clambering over rubble. Disturbed dust. 1d6 Feral Ghouls, stalking and waiting. Hunger makes them impatient.
3 Groans, rattle of chains, barked orders, moans in response. 1 Rational Ghoul herding 2d6 chained Feral Ghouls. Polite, but wants PCs to move on quickly.
4 Creaking wheels, scrape of dragging wood. Barked orders. Corpse-caravan. 6 Rational Ghoul guards, 2d6 Feral Ghoul shock troops, 3+3d10 corpses. Alert.
5 Polite conversation, bursts of laughter. Screams and groans in response. 1 Noble Ghoul, holding an official visit. 2d6 Rational Ghoul courtiers, 2d6 Feral Ghoul subjects.
6 Faint out-of-tune music, shuffle of feet. A roofless, lightless ruin. Laughter. A party. 3d6 Noble Ghouls, 3d10 Rational Ghoul guards. Food, drink. Darkness. Dancing.
7 Quite conversation, creak of wheels, whispered commands. 1 Noble Ghoul corpse-trader, 1d6 Rational Ghoul assistants, 2d6 corpses. Will make deals.
8 Imposing walls, cracked. Ragged banners. Small fortress. 2 Noble Ghouls, 3d6 Feral Ghouls in dungeon, 3d10 Volume-Folk slaves in farm.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table. -
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results. -


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Cries for help, struggles. Faint odour of blood. 1 Doppelganger. Resembles lost Volume-folk merchant. Offers reward to be taken to city. AD&D MM pg. 29
2 Faint footsteps. Conversation in all-too-familiar voices. Enough Doppelgangers to match the PCs. Not a great resemblance but close enough. AD&D MM pg. 29
3 Sudden headaches, nosebleeds. Faint hopping, padding sound. 1 Intellect Devourer, hopping along, seeking minds. Eternally hungry. AD&D MM pg. 54
4 Flicker of a tentacle. Burble of a stream. Faint photoreactive shimmer. 1 Cave Octopus, slithering in a shallow stream. Smart, opportunistic, camouflaged.  AD&D MM pg. 75
5 Moist howling, stomp, buzz, roil. Ozone, blood. A mental thunderstorm. Near-feral exiled Illithid with 2d6 Squidlings and 1 Myrmidon. Desperate for brains. AD&D MM pg. 70
6 Buzz and pulse of unseen technology, groans. 2d6 Squidlings, fanatically loyal, on patrol. Will try to capture PCs if possible.
7 Wet leather slither, buzz and pulse of unseen technology, groans, begging. 2d6 Squidlings with 1 Bagbeast containing 2d6 Volume-Folk. Also 1d4 Manaclebugs.
8 Glimmer of eye-shine and glass. 1 Watchman stuck high up. Monitoring, watching. Will alert 1d6 Squidlings with 1d4 Manaclebugs.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table. -
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results. -


1d10 Omen Encounter Page Reference
1 Squeaking. Disturbed dust. The hints of a trap. Slithering rope. 1d6 Kobolds waiting to ambush. Might start the ambush, then back off apologetically. AD&D MM pg. 57
2 Bickering, rude noises, stomping feet. Indignant puffing. 1d6 Kobolds vs an equal number belonging to a different dragon. Feuding noisily. Ask PCs to judge. AD&D MM pg. 57
3 Shouting, clatter of weapons, marching feet, waving banners. 40x1d10 Kobolds in a war party, lead by 2d6 Dragonborn. Disorganized, easy to distract. AD&D MM pg. 57
4 Lantern light. Quiet discussion. Glint of light off scales. 2 Dragonborn, guarding a junction in the caves. Polite but quick to anger. AD&D MM pg. 62
5 Quiet squeaking. Hesitant footsteps. Bitter smell. 1 Kobold explorer, completely lost. Wants to go to a random hex. AD&D MM pg. 57
6 Incense, bells. Statues and cleared pathways. Lantern light. Dragon shrine. Temple to nearest Dragon. Guarded by 2d6 Dragonborn. Safe for pilgrims.
7 Chanting, cautions movement. Rustle of silk. 2d6 Sycophants, carrying offerings to the nearest Dragon. 
8 Quiet footsteps, grunts, slithering rope. 1d6 Volume-Folk traders, laden with goods, well-fed. Shadowed by 1d6 Sycophants.
9 - Roll on Depth Encounter Table. -
10 - Roll again on this table, and also on the Depth Encounter Table, combining results. -

Not Appearing In This Hexcrawl

For a Different Campaign:
Anglerlich, Antiphoenix, Civilopede 

I Don't Know How To Run This Encounter (to my satisfaction):

The Egengraü, Gegenscheim, Phantom Hand of Gargas, Silichominds, Tachyon Troll

I Don't "Get" This:

Knotsmen, Spectre of the Bröcken

Separate, Map-Based Entries

Egg-Dead, The Rapture, Oneirocetacean