Inspired by the Ruins generator in the Judges Guild Ready Reference Sheets, your humble scribe presents an odd number of odd things that might be found in a hex somewhere. No system information is provided to maximize utility. Grab one the next time you need to distract your players. Let me know what they do with it, if you think about it.
- At the bottom of a steep ravine lies the rotting hulk of a wrecked merchant ship. Its yellow sails, strangely still crisp and bright, occasionally rattle in the strong winds that sometimes blow through the forest. Giant wasps have made their home in the vessel and will not take kindly to intrusions.
- In the center of a large but relatively shallow crater stands an obsidian obelisk, its four faces disfigured & defaced. The ancient writing, still readable in places, tell of a curse that came from the stars. By night ghouls gather here.
- On the shore of a small inland sea stands a blue steel trident, planted firmly in the basalt sand. Just below the slowly lapping waves rests the clockwork lobster enchanted to guard this relic from would-be thieves.
- Partially covered in the fine sand is a weathered tombstone. The name of the grave’s occupant is no longer decipherable, but the dates tell of a tragically short life that ended well before the oldest living man was born.
- Scraps of well-worn leather, along with two brass buckles, have been discarded along the side of the path. A sounder of wild boars resides nearby and treat this area as their territory.
- A palisade and dry moat encircle the dirt-covered ruins of a small village. Some 20-odd cottages are contained within these defenses. Mold covers most surfaces and an sense of sickness and contamination fills the stale air. The ghosts of the town’s elders still haunt the village.
- Partially covered in the muck and slime of the mire are a set of iron-bound lenses hung from a large ring, each a slightly different size and of varying colors. Some are cracked, some scratched. A patrol of Lizardmen approaches, irked by the intrusion into their domain.
- The ruins of a great stone hall lie near the river’s edge, its western wall and part of the roof collapsed. Three wights reside inside, kept company by little more than dust and webs.
- Beneath an outcropping of rock, its ceiling blackened from countless watchfires, six dozen chipped and dulled flint arrowheads have been arranged into geometric forms. The dragon who lives in the mountains to the north can be seen circling lazily above.
- At the water’s edge the shell of some titanic crustacean looms. The salt breeze whistles through it, humming at times. It has been painted in bright colors and is considered a holy place to those who worship the silent gods of the eastern sea.
- Worn marble, the ruins of a temple to a long-forgotten god, have tumbled down this rocky slope. Several columns, cracked and scarred, still stand at the summit. Pieces of the frieze that once decorated the facade are scattered amid the rockfall. A wyvern, called the Temple Beast by the people of the nearby hamlet, lairs here.
- A small cave mouth opens in the cliff face as the path turns south. Within the cavern lies a battered and rusted iron shield, grasped in the bony hands of an otherwise unadorned skeleton.
- Rising from the scarred plain is the wrecked remains of a war tower, a remnat of the war against the giants. Its axles are broken, and its sides are overgrown with dense ivy that gives off a sickly sweet aroma. A rickety ladder ascends the steep sides to a platform high above. Fires can be seen atop the walls of the long-abandoned giant fortress that lies a league to the west.
- The dry remains of a fountain have sunken slightly into the soft earth of the clearing. A large number of verdigrised copper coins litter the basin. The central figure, a quartet of fish, has fallen over revealing corroded pipework. Local legends say that those who cast into the fountain would be wise to keep their wishes small.
- High above the pass lies the ruin of the Hellking’s Citadel. The walls of the keep and its quartet of towers glisten like dew in the morning sun. The outer wall is mostly collapsed, but the parts that stand are black with soot. Werewolves lurk within.
- The strange whirring and clanking rising from the crevasse comes from a metal box the size of a costermonger’s cart. Metal apes, the garish paint that once decorated them mostly flaked away, dance and cavort on gearshafts that guide their movements. Two dozen goblins stand about, some imitating the monkey’s motions. All are silent as though listening to a tune that does not reach your ears.
- Gleaming white bones, the skeleton of a strange cube-shaped creature as big as a house, stand atop this crag. A pile of much smaller bones lies within the cube.
These are all evocative and brimming with creativity, but I especially like ruins #2 and #3. For some reason, when I was reading the descriptions I could see them as album covers. #2 is sort of Megadeth and #3 is prog rock. Also, love the idea of clockwork lobsters.
As always, I’m glad you dig ’em and I’m grateful for the kind words amigo 🙂 I definitely get where you’re coming from on the album cover idea, too. I’ll call this one a victory.
Thanks for the great notes, Pao!
I’ve turned these kinds of blurbs into three or four session adventures with minimal prep, some randomly chosen maps and a storm of improvisation/bullshot. Usually turns out as well as anything else I’ve run, and a surprising number of times it turns out better. If you let your players run the adventure without telling them, it’s even better.
Hey Monk! You’re most welcome and I’m (as always) delighted you dig ’em, amigo!
I totally agree that these kinds of nuggets can often yield much bigger adventures. And letting the players drive the bus is always fun (and sometimes funny) to watch. I hope you get something truly delightful out of one of these if you choose to use it! Cheers!