Thursday, March 25, 2021

A handful of random tables about magical whatzits

d6x6 Random Mundane Materials

1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Dirt Tin Stone Ethanol Chitin Hair
2 Silk Copper Sand Soap Rope Skin
3 Water Silver Diamond Nacre Pykrete Bone
4 Grass Gold Glass Grease Graphite Giblets
5 Shellac Iron Rust Treacle Cement Blood
6 Mold Lead Mud Honey Rubber Meat

d20 Random Magical Materials with Impossible Properties

  1. Dirt
  2. Skywood: Dense, hard wood which resists the pull of gravity. Grows as trees which float through the air, carrying along clumps of earth tangled in their roots. Wicker panels of the stuff are used to craft flying ships.
  3. Adamant Glass: Cloudy gray glass, impossible to sully or scratch. Impervious and impenetrable to all forms of chemical or magic, meaning it can be used to entrap ghosts, spells, and other spirits. Really easy to melt, though, and can shatter violently.
  4. Vermillion Ichor: Like red-tinged quicksilver. Constantly jitters in place. Imbues anything it’s placed into with elan vital, compelling it into motion and imbuing it with will.
  5. Magnets
  6. Shimmersilk: Lightweight fluttering cloth of indeterminate form. Appearance changes based on the viewers’ expecations
  7. Alkahest: Universal perfect solvent, seperates things into their constituent components without otherwise damaging or changing them.
  8. Tomberstone: Stone which hates the heavens. Dark violet with streaks of iridescent yellow. When directly under an open sky, it pushes downwards with immense force. When covered, behaves like normal stone.
  9. Chornolyst: Magical kudzu. Thick sticky pitch-black sheets which grow rapidly over surfaces in the presence of mana and bright light. Rapidly dies and rots in their absence. Tough but flexible. Highly flammable. Technically edible.
  10. True Vitriol: Green-Red crystal with a greasy lustre. Eternally burns with an unquenchable putrid flame. Powerful heat, but irritating headache-causing flickering light.
  11. Ectoplasm: A versatile stringy substance that can be regurgitated by skilled experts. A sort of physical manifestation of the soul which responds to the emitter’s will. Is capable of fine manipulation and interaction with a wide variety of magical phenomena. The main drawback is that any damage to the substance has drastic psychic health consequences for the person who squeezed it out.
  12. Philosopher’s stone: Turns mercury into silver on contact, lead into gold, reverses aging, frags trolls, etc.
  13. Slarmbe: Insulates from time. Kind of a salty amber-tinted jelly. Kind of just a zone of shimmering air. Kind of makes you go cross-eyed to look at it. The thicker it covers an object, the more slowly that thing advances through time. Can be arduously moved by prodding it with a long stick.
  14. Solidified Nimbus: Like the cartoon version of a cloud. Soft and moldable. Cold to the touch. Drips water out of the bottom when squeezed. Accumulates static electricity.
  15. Null: Absorbs energy practically without bound. Unworkable and immovable in its pure form. Can be dissolved and alloyed to produce immovable rods and similar wonders.
  16. Impressionable Flesh: Raw animal matter in its most magically pure state. Often mistaken for a species of pale grey ooze. Assimilates small bits of detritus and small clumps of organic matter. When it comes into contact with a larger body of living flesh, it merges into and assumes the form of that flesh. Potent for healing, and can even restore lost limbs. Contraindicated for head and spinal injuries, under penalty of execution.
  17. Demoncore: Densely malevolent metal, brimming with alchemical power. Capable of poisoning those who merely stand near it, or providing a near limitless source of arcane energy.
  18. Voidmetal: Sticks to shadows and vice versa
  19. Pureglass: Perfectly invisible stone.
  20. Song-glass: Frost that dissolves into radio static whispers divine secrets.

d10 Random Places the Wizard Gets Their Fix

  1. Magical aether flowing through the air.
  2. The intangible life force which connects all things.
  3. The energy from food, consumed and transmuted within the body.
  4. Lightning. Gotta get zapped.
  5. The elemental power of the land, channelled into human form
  6. Virtuous Living
  7. By basking in the glorious radiance of the sun
  8. Invisible smoke burbling up from the core of the world’
  9. Snorting various slimes
  10. Sparkles

d12 Thingamajigs

  1. Chunk of split wood, etched with accounting symbols
  2. Baked clay tablet with a poorly doodled sheep.
  3. Wax cylinder recording of the first song ever sung by a dwarf
  4. The oldest preserved pair of jorts.
  5. A cup attached to a ball with a string.
  6. Chess-playing brass automaton.
  7. Lapis ring, carved with the face of a forgotten queen.
  8. Porcelain vase with traces of cat ash inside.
  9. impractical sword-eggbeater combo
  10. Plastic drinking straw, thousands of years old.
  11. Leather hat full of bullet holes.
  12. Carved statuette of a dancing woman. Clockwork that made it dance has long since rusted.

d6 Impossible Branches of Engineering

  1. Giant Robots
  2. Elementally magical exoskeletons
  3. Magic Golden diagrams which
  4. Arrays of crystals which do, you know, magic stuff.
  5. Flying boats!
  6. Modern real-world electronics expect they’re powered by ghosts instead of electricity.

d8 Metamagical Spells

  1. The spell that makes blinkenlights flash when other spells are nearby
  2. The spell that turns other spells into knives
  3. The spell that turns other spells into birds
  4. The spell that makes other spells forget what they were doing and take a coffee break
  5. The spell that moves other spells several feet to the left
  6. The spell that doesn’t really do much of anything at all
  7. The spell that prevents itself from being cast
  8. The spell that makes other spells smell

d6 Very Important Objects of Questionable Utility

  1. The Jade Eagle
  2. The Holy Teacup
  3. A file folder full of Secret Plans
  4. The Emperor’s Scepter
  5. The Bracelet of Ultimate Evil
  6. The Lost Prince

d6 Irreplicable Feats of Inspired Creation

  1. A monolithic tower, nearly the size of a mountain, bristling with machinery. A great barrel in the center, pointed upwards. The whole thing is a cannon which, if fired, would destroy the moon.
  2. Megacryptid: Bioengineered bigfoot with an entire loch ness monster for a head.
  3. A small, perfectly spherical pebble that everyone agrees looks exactly like a fully-grown elephant. Objectively, it doesn’t. Carved from a massive block of granite. Took a family of stonecarvers 140 years to make the thing by “removing all the parts that don’t look like an elephant”.
  4. Suspenders that let you influence the mind of anyone else wearing suspenders. Sewn in secret deep in the heart of Mount Loom
  5. The perfect cake. As far above a normal cake as a normal cake is above a fistful of moldy flour. Generations of royalty have been taking small nibbles.
  6. An undullable blade. The last thing ever forged by an eons old elven blacksmith before their death.

d4 Divine Entities

  1. Zuesidon: God of Hurricanes. Has a bad habit of turning horses into swans.
  2. Valoria: Goddess of Battle Tactics. Undefeatable in combat, but no understanding of strategy or even the concept of long-term goals. Has been lost in a forest for the past several thousand years, brutally vanquishing all the small woodland creatures which cross her path.
  3. *: God of Sea Urchins
  4. Sol, the Sun, God of Food and Light: Makes plants grow, constantly screaming, will someday eat the world.


  1. I've been meaning to respond to this post for forever, sorry i'm so late! This is awesome! And thanks for referencing my element generator :)! Did you use it for any of the other ones by any chance? No pressure if not lol. Also, I like your recent series on the Titans- it's a really cool idea to fundamentally link the "boss monster" into the hexcrawl itself, gives it much more personality, but also more weight and substance.

    I'm actually in the process of working on yet another element system (not a new system for generating elements, just a new set of elements for a setting), and it's going to include Mythic Beasts similar to the Four/Five Guardian Beasts of Taoist Mythology that map to the Taoist Elements. I'm not sure if it would necessarily make sense for me to do something like the Titans for that within the context of the setting and what I'm trying to do with it, but in theory it could be really cool to do that.

    I still don't understand how so few people get excited by elements. How does everyone just look at the Western or Eastern Alchemy elements and just say "yep that's enough for me I'm satisfied"!? It actually is like existentially frustrating to me how few people seem to care about this, like what does this mean that to me it's so obvious that this is a viable if not critical creative / worldbuilding avenue, and yet practically nobody does anything with it? It feels like the universe just gaslighting me when I see how few people give a shit about elements. Anyway that's my crazy though, but thanks for posting this!

    1. The titan idea is actually the leftovers from an attempt to create a system of 'weird elements'. In "On the Generation and Corruption", Aristotle described the fundamental qualities a substance can have, argued that hot vs. cold and dry vs. moist are the most important ones, and then matched the four pairings to what he termed the elements. Fire is hot and dry, water is cold and wet, earth is cold and dry, air is hot and wet.

      So I thought: let's start with a different set of fundamental qualities, and use their interactions to generate a gonzo alternate-reality system of Aristotolean elements. The trouble was, regardless of how I arranged the qualities, I could only figure out interesting evocative 'elements' for about half of the combinations. (Your tables were a help for that, and some of the results ended up in the second table up above.)

      But the idea of having more fundamental primordial quality-based elements evolved into having quality-elementals (qualitals?). And I had 6 pairs of qualities that I liked the most (hot-cold,dry-moist,soft-hard,bright-dark,rising-falling,fast-slow), so may as well map those to the 12 zodiac animals. Once you have a glowing chicken and a darkness doggy, the obvious next step is BIG glowing chicken and BIG darkness doggy. After that, it was just a matter of playing around with different worldbuilding justifications for "big glowing chicken" until I found one that worked well at the table.

    2. I totally feel your wavelength haha.

      Designing good elements is tough, because the implications of them affect literally everything else so you can get locked into these really complex layers of symbolism, metaphysics, physics, aesthetics, etc.

      That's cool that this elements stuff and the Titans are interconnected. That makes perfect sense to me, but I'll have to reread those to see it more closely.

      I've played around with that Aristotelian "qualities" idea as well. Often I'll use that as like a Cardinal vs Ordinal elements, which works both with western and eastern alchemy elements in different ways.

      My current elements for that thing I mentioned above are:

      Color / Beast / "Direction" / Element:

      Indigo Cyclops of the Outside, Elemental Beast of Meat

      Orange Cordyceps Insect of the Inside (Mind), Elemental Beast of Fungus (Fermentation)

      Fox-Hare of Time (Prediction/Reason), Elemental Beast of Cosmos

      of the Unknown, Elemental Beast of Salt

      Clearly still figuring it out, but these seem like elements and directions that aren't strictly seen in any older culture or mythology that I know of, but seem consistent with the kinds of fundamental features or forces of human civilization and how humans interface with the world.