Long ago, before the Quiet Conquest, before the Concord of Cor Ecclesiae, there was a shining road that spanned the length of the subcontinent. At one end, Cor Ecclesiae, the great cathedral, the beating heart at the center of what was then simply the Orthodoxy. At the other, the sagacious spires of Scholomance, tall and proud against the yet-virgin mountains. The daisy-chain crown of Sordheim, paved with pearls plucked from the heart of the sea, they say.
Then Merlin wrote the Opprobrium, and it all went to shit.
RANDOM ENCOUNTERS ALONG THE PEARLESCENT ROAD
1 I A hailstorm of deformed, worthless pearls.
2 N A handaxe, a sword, and a trident imbedded in a dead tree trunk, each wrought of lead and inscribed with the cosmo gram. They fly out and attack any magic they hear.
3 F The ghost of Sir Moggdwynn sitting on a rock; he can’t pass on until he earns a mancala victory, and he’s dogshit at mancala.
4 I A stone golem that overliterally follows every command given to it by anyone holding or wearing a cosmogram, and immediately attacks anything it understands to be magic. It asks which way to Hell.
5 V A moon beast camouflaged as a pine tree in photonegative. It’s covered in paralytic goo, and its every needle is a serrated tongue.
6 E An impossibly withered old man, or perhaps a very wrinkly baby, in a howdah carried by four frog-people carved from emerald. He is asleep. If he wakes up, he screams in three voices at once as an earthquake opens a fiery rift under the disrupting party.
7 F A chunk of pearl-lined path is suspended 50 feet in the air. Walking under it sweeps you up in anti-gravity, with your feet set on this inverted path and your head towards the world below.
8 L An abandoned watchtower. The spartan basement, locked from the outside, contains a werewolf in human form, languishing in malnourishment.
9 A A cabin, trapped inside of which is moon beast that’s all mouth and legs. It ate the lumberjack and his wife without trouble, but it won’t leave because it’s terrified of their utterly unbothered cat.
10 V The roots of three trees grow around a ten-foot, polished diamond sphere. Pressing your ear against it, you hear wet, ragged breathing.
11 O A broken, pearl-edged bridge over a small river that doesn’t seem to flow. You can walk over the bridge as if it were intact, but the impossibly still water below resists reemergence with the strength of hardened hot glue.
12 R A roadside chapel from before the Merlinian Conflict, overgrown with mushrooms with crescent-marked caps. The spores force out unwanted truths, but on the altar inside is a valuable antique silver cosmogram.
13-20 No encounter.
REVERSE JOESKY: SUNDERED’S ENCOUNTER STOCKING TECHNIQUE (ZEST)
For a while, I’ve been using two acronyms to round out out random encounter tables. For random encounters, e.g. those in a dungeon, I use IN FIVE (Interruption, Numerous, Friendly, Indifferent, Violent, Extreme). For random structures, e.g. those found during overland travel, I use FLAVOR (Fane, Lair, Abandoned, Vault, Oddity, Ruin).
To test for an encounter in a dungeon, roll a d12: 1-6 maps to IN FIVE, 7-12 no encounter
To test for an encounter while traveling, roll a d20: 1-6 maps to IN FIVE, 7-12 maps to FLAVOR, 13-20 no encounter
(and if you roll a structure, you can use the regional IN FIVE as a dungeon encounter table)