His Fearsome Command: A game of shifting power and doomed loyalty, inspired by The Mountain Goats.

 His Fearsome Command

a game by Jo Smith

Art by Eric He

"We've come before you now.
We, who boldly lay claim to our own.
We, who have seen the chamber of the one true throne.
We, who have seen the kindness of the cracks of his face.
We, who will die, if we must, in this place."

"Clemency for the Wizard King," by The Mountain Goats

There are stories of a sorcerer who sought to rule above all things, and there are stories of that sorcerer's Companions, whose love for their comrade drove them to crown this mage the Wizard King of all the wide horizons. 

There are stories of this land, which for an age writhed beneath the weight of Wizard King's wonders and wickedness. 

There are stories of the Empire from beyond the horizons, and the ruin and conquest it brought to the works of the Wizard King, who was taken in chains from their sanctum to the capital of this new kingdom.

There are stories of the Empire's slow machinations; the inexorable march of its progress and peacemaking, the grind of its armies and the gleam of its towers. 

But this is the story of the forgotten Companions. The Wizard King will soon be put to death. You all have gathered in his Sanctum. You will travel from here through the Outskirts and Midlands to the Capital, and there, you will beg mercy for your master, though it will not be given to them, nor you.

The Themes: The sparks of your inspiration. 

Choose or create a set of Themes you will be playing with. A Theme is a collection of related images that evoke a certain tone, feeling, or vibe and will be used to inform your descriptions and narration of the events to come. The following are the default Themes for this game; 2 additional sets of Themes can be found at the end of this post. 

Fantastic Themes: for games of swords, sorcery, and wonder.

1. Grim

1. A muddy field flecked with blood, 2. an orphan coughing on smoke from a smoldering cottage, 3. city streets slick with filth, 4. A lethal fight over food, 5. someone dying from an infected wound, 6. a boot heel on a begging hand, 7. a door slamming shut, weeping face on the other side, 8. a hovel in the shadow of a castle, 9. a tree growing twisted from an old battlefield, 10. loyalty sold for a pittance

2. Heroic

1. A bright road up a steep peak, towers shining in the distance, 2. laughter in the face of death, 3.  The joyful ring of clashing steel in combat, 4. a torch glinting off of discovered gold, 5. white sails in a harbor, 6. Two hands clasped over a true friendship made in a single day, 7. a banner billowing out over snow, 8. a raucous toast over hot drinks, 9. a beaming grin, 10. a drinking hall door flung open and cheers from within

3. Bloody

1. Red wine spilling across white lace, 2. A table groaning with profane delicacies, 3. A man gutted for sport, 4. Blood guzzled from the severed head of a stag, 5. Two friends, each with their blade in the other’s stomach, 6. Fevered laughter, 7. Bloodstained hands that will never be clean, 8. A lover stabbed in the throes of passion, 9. Lips painted with blood and poison, 10. A man moaning with pleasure from his wounds

4. Weary

1. An old woman, resting under a tree as gnarled as she, 2. A sword dull from use, 3. A warrior sick from killing, 4. A traveler weeping under the weight of the leagues they’ve walked, 5. An old man drinking to forget, 6. A courier, half dead from exhaustion, murmuring his message to himself, 7. An oracle, half blind from all she’s seen, 8. A stone wall, crumbled and mossy, 9. An immortal warrior dying at last, a grateful sigh on their lips, 10. A pair of boots, worn through. 

5. Steel

1. A cold hard blade under cold hard stars, 2. A stout shield with a stout arm to wield it, 3. Claws against iron, seeking weakness, finding none, 4. Legions of spears glittering towards the sun, 5. Dragonfire flickering off of a breastplate, 6. A blade parting flesh and bone with equal ease, 7. A forgotten machine, good as the day it was made, 8. The edge of a sword, sharp enough to split a moment in two, 9. Sparks flying as two blades meet, neither yielding, 10. A fighter in shining full plate, unkillable as a god.

6. Golden

1. A broken, bleeding prospector stares lovingly at a gleaming seam of gold, 2. A palanquin of peacock and silk, borne atop the backs of sweating, ruined men, 3. A golden coin spinning through the air; everyone watches it, transfixed, 4. A merchant, hands hardly able to move beneath the weight of their rings, 5. Grubby hands fighting to snatch coins from a chest, 6. A throne room, gilded pillars and scarlet carpets, heavy and cold. 7. A tiny bird, dipped in gold, disappearing between the lips of a nobleman, 8. A man leaving a house covertly; purse fat, knife bloody, 9. A white elephant, staggering beneath the weight of cruel piercings and jewelry of gold and ruby. 10. A nude form, struggling for breath beneath the gold that coats their body

7. Emerald

1. Green eyes flashing with sorcerous promise, 2. Dim light filtering through an endless sea of leaves, 3. The air before a storm, 4. The sea, stilled, something lurking in its depths, 5. A serpent coiled around a naked throat, 6. A cruel smile, poisoned words, 7. A small cool stone room lit by a single small window, 8. A slow inhale before the strike, 9. A gem pulled from the heart of the sea, 10. A drug-induced dream of weeping lilies

8. Subtle

1. A velvet glove, soft as shadow, 2. A needle in the back of the neck, 3. A knife, thin as a whisper, 4. A single word that starts a war, 5. A garden at night, soft dew and shadows, 6. The faintest sliver of a moon, 7. A panther's paw, claws concealed, 8. A sleeper who will never wake, 9. A soft cloak of grey mouse fur and down, 10. A bitter aftertaste in the wine, forgotten, deadly. 

9. Flame

1. A campfire on the edge of the wilds, 2. The collapsing roar of a burning church, 3. A forge, sparks flying like stars, 3. A raving poet, words bursting from ragged lips, 4. A blacksmith, worn and bent, eyes like cinder, 5. A warm, dim room, velvet cushions and carpet, incense smoke hanging in the air, rain howling outside 6. A volley of flaming arrows arcing towards a city, 7. A bonfire in midwinter, 8. A corner table in a café at night, revolution flickering like the candles, 9. A lantern’s beam in the dark, 10. Dark smoke rising from a funeral pyre into a dark sky. 

10. Dark

1. An unlit room, strange grey shadows moving on the walls, 2. A windowless prison cell, stick of offal and filth heavy in the air, 3. The basement of a church, dead saints profaned by sick appetites, 4. A foul pit, writhing with insects and worms, 5. The reality of death, the voiding of bowels, pure, stinking fear, 6. A mind shattered after decades alone in the dark, 7. An unseen hand on your shoulder,  8. A darkness so thick it seems to hunger for you, 9. A pale creature, no longer human, warped by years away from the sun, 10. A blind man, fearful, fumbling, certain there is something watching him.

11. Song

1. A constellation, some great warrior set in the stars, living out their deeds for all time, 2. A palace, built by a hero in a single day to honor their love, 3. A court, spellbound by a singer with a voice that reaches beyond our world, 4. A wanderer with a patchwork cloak, each patch another story, 5. A blade passed down generation to generation, grip worn to fit the hands of hundreds before you, 6. Two heroes boasting of their deeds in a tavern, each seeking to outdo the other. 7. An old woman, telling tales of her glory days to incredulous grandchildren, 8. A shrine to an ancestor; their memory long forgotten, yet still honored. 9. Memories of a day when the sun shone brighter and the world was wider, 10. A hero, telling tales of their fallen comrade, bittersweet smile on their lips. 

12. Sorrow

1. The broken pieces of an ancient sword, the secrets of its forging long lost, 2. A once mighty hero, now scarcely aware of his surroundings, 3. A cleared pasture where the great forests of old once grew, 4. The only priest of a long forgotten god, 5. A spell in a dead language, spoken for the last time by a dying sage, 6. Factory smoke clouding a once clear sky, 7. A mythic king, made small and frail in death, 8. The burning of a great library, unimaginable knowledge vanishing in the smoke, 9. A statue to an ancient goddess, worn to little more than a mossy stone. 

13. Holy

1. The smell of incense and burning entrails, smoke rising from a smoldering offering, 2. The arc of a cathedral's roof; the stillness of suspended stone, 3. A sacrificial knife, heavy with purpose, 4. A chant that rings through your bones, sacred words entering the flesh, 5. The echo of a bell rolling out over a misty valley, 6. A devout craftsmen, carving prayers into his work with every stroke of his blade, 7. A warrior of faith, eyes unclouded, face serene, 8. An ancient priest, skin as dry and leathering as the parchment they pore over day by day, 9. A scribe, ink of their pen flowing like divine ichor, 10. A shrine by the side of a dusty road, worn down by the touch of countless reverent hands 


14. Bright

1. Sunlight flashing off the rings on a noblewoman’s hand, 2. A sky so blue it hurts, 3. The sting of sea-spray carried in a brisk wind, 4. A duel in a field of golden grass, rippling like waves in the wind, 5. The view from atop a jagged mountain, distant rivers glittering like sapphire embroidery, 6. A youthful traveler stepping out onto the road, red cloak aflutter, 7. A cold clear stream, 8. An archer loosing an arrow towards a scarlet apple, 9. A whistled tune, carefree melody rising above birdsong, 10. A laughing lady besting her suitors in a footrace  

15. Fury

1. A skull, crushed between two massive hands, 2. A barren plain, hot embers on the wind, 3. Blood gushing down a swordsman’s arm as they bury a blade in the belly of a foe, 4. A warcry that shakes the earth, 5. A berserker, white hot rage coursing through their veins, tearing apart an enemies breastplate with their hands, 6. A battle-axe, chipped from biting bone, 7. The sun, rising blood red, 8. A mage, screaming words of fire and pain through blackened, bleeding lips, 9. A forest flattened by a windstorm, mighty trees torn to splinters, 10. A heart torn from a living chest

16. Lost

1.  A grey path winding through a grey valley, disappearing into the mist, 2. The foundations of a house, stones jutting up through moss, 3. A cold, wet, wind, howling from one corner of the world to another, 4. A weathered cabin on an empty plain, 5. A name repeated till it loses all meaning, 6. A silent stranger, their eyes looking through you to gaze upon sights only they have seen, 7. Rain washing away footprints, 8. A child huddled beneath a dead tree, weeping for a home they no longer remember, 9. An empty ship on a becalmed sea, 10. An exiled king on a tired horse, royal garments little more than rags

17. Weird

1. A skull overgrown with pale fungus, mycelia buried in the folds of the brain, 2. A mother nursing a strange iridescent creature, singing to it in a tongue not made for human speech, 3. A pale ape with teeth of gold, 4. A man with a snake growing in his gut, its writhing coils pressed  tight against the flesh of his stomach, 5. A dog speaking in a human voice, urging you to give in to the depravity hidden in your dreams, 6. An insect with the face of a child, 7. A puppet show depicting your life and eventual gruesome murder, 8. Human slaves wallowing in mud and filth, strange, stilt-legged creatures overseeing them, 9. A lizard that crawls in your ear and eats your dreams, 10. A craftsman with no face, whose masks are perfect replicas of the faces of others

18. Wild

1. A tree large enough to house a palace in its trunk, 2. A waterfall, cutting through stone like a knife, 3. A druid, clad in bloody hide, teeth sharp, nails long, 4. A bitter herb, which when consumed gives you the strength and appetites of a tiger, 5. A stag, bone white, with scarlet antlers, 6. A shrieking cry, wings in front of the sun, 7. Eyes in the darkness, growls on the wind, 8. A hidden pool, animal bones laid to rest in clear water, 9. A massive wolf, coat shaggy with moss, 10. Flowers growing from the corpse of a deer

19. Arcane

1. A tower on a cliff, lighting striking the steepled roof, 2. Sigils painted in blood, 3. A silver knife and a golden cup, 4. A ruby carved in the shape of an eye, 5. An amulet dripping with pure, liquid magic, 6. A sorceress caught between human and raven forms, shrieking curses and blasphemes, 7. A book bound in serpent skin, 8. An observatory on a distant peak, 9. A door that opens into the stars, 10. A shirtless mage, tattoos straining to leave their skin

20. Foreboding

1. A fortress of black stone, 2. A looming stormfront, clouds like armies of spirits, 3. The moon staring down like a baleful eye, 4. The call of a bird like a death-rattle through the stillness, 5. Bones snapping underfoot, 6. An executioner, massive, hooded, patient, 7. A mountain, looming as though to crush the land beneath it, 8. A door of scorched iron, 9. The armies of the enemy, covering the plain like a flood, 10. A man hanged at a crossroads, still-pointed finger warning you away


The Wizard King: Great and terrible, kind and cruel by turns. Your former master, now captive of the Empire. 

Roll three Themes for the Wizard King. 
Then, roll and answer six questions from the following table. 
Answer each question according to: two of the Wizard Kings Themes. All Themes must be used twice. 

Show us... 

  1. What horde did The Wizard King command?
  2. What mask hid The Wizard King's face?
  3. What rings of power glittered on The Wizard King's hands?
  4. Where did The Wizard King hide their heart?
  5. What dread beast did The Wizard King slay?
  6. What demon did The Wizard King bind?
  7. What strange robes did The Wizard King wear?
  8. What enchantment shielded The Wizard King from harm?
  9. What fell sorceries did The Wizard King unleash upon their enemies?
  10. What cursed artifact did The Wizard King wield?
  11. What fabulous treasure did The Wizard King guard?
  12. What strange circumstances was The Wizard King born under?
  13. What had replaced The Wizard King's hand?
  14. What did The Wizard King sacrifice for power?
  15. What spell did The Wizard King fear to utter?
  16. What reagents did The Wizard King's sorceries consume?
  17. What form did The Wizard King's familiar take?
  18. What beast served as The Wizard King's mount?
  19. Why did The Wizard King's subjects adore them?
  20. Why did The Wizard King's subjects abhor them?
  21. What desolate prison did The Wizard King escape?`
  22. What outrageous lie was believed about The Wizard King?
  23. What transformation were The Wizard King keeping at bay?
  24. What enemy pursued The Wizard King?
  25. Who taught The Wizard King their arcane art?
  26. Who did The Wizard King sell their soul to?
  27. What battle scarred The Wizard King so horribly?
  28. What powerful being owed The Wizard King a favor?
  29. What was the source of The Wizard King's unearthly beauty?
  30. Where did The Wizard King make their sanctum?
  31. What throne did The Wizard King topple?
  32. What destiny did The Wizard King flee from?
  33. Why did The Wizard King not fear death?
  34. What terrible desire consumed The Wizard King?
  35. What was The Wizard King's signature spell?
  36. What secret language did The Wizard King speak?
  37. What façade did The Wizard King maintain?
  38. What distant land did The Wizard King hail from?
  39. What corruptions did The Wizard King's power inflict upon The Wizard King?
  40. What did The Wizard King's oaths keep The Wizard King from doing?
  41. What was The Wizard King trying to discover?
  42. What strange being was The Wizard King wedded to?
  43. What was the source of The Wizard King's power?
  44. What did The Wizard King change about the world itself?
  45. Whose power did The Wizard King steal?
  46. What mighty deed were The Wizard King known for?
  47. What trophy did The Wizard King proudly display?
  48. What artifact did The Wizard King craft?
  49. What had replaced The Wizard King's eye?
  50. What curse did The Wizard King suffer under?

The Empire: Fearsome and foreign, civil and savage. The new keepers of this land and its former master. 

Art by Kilian Eng

Roll three Themes for the Empire.
Then, roll and answer six questions from the following table. 
Answer each question according to: two of the Empire's Themes. All Themes must be used twice. 

Show us...

  1. Who rules the Empire?
  2. What armies lay at the Empire’s command?
  3. What strange land does the Empire hail from?
  4. What does the Empire demand as tribute?
  5. What strange technology has the Empire discovered?
  6. Why has the Empire never been bested in battle?
  7. What strange currency does the Empire use?
  8. What celebrations do the people of the Empire hold?
  9. What gods do the people of the Empire pray to?
  10. What taboos do the people of the Empire believe?
  11. What is distinct about the Empire’s fashion?
  12. What food is the Empire known for?
  13. Why is the Empire so wealthy?
  14. What is the creed of the Empire?
  15. What is distinctive about the architecture of the Empire?
  16. What sort of people does the Empire hold in high regard?
  17. What sort of people does the Empire hold in low regard?
  18. What punishments does the Empire inflict on its criminals?
  19. What do the people of the Empire fear most?
  20. What do the people of the Empire respect most?
  21. What games do the people of the Empire play?
  22. What public works is the Empire known for?
  23. What great deeds is the leader of the Empire known for?
  24. Why do the people of the Empire hate their ruler?
  25. Why do the people of the Empire love their ruler?
  26. Who keeps the peace in the Empire?
  27. What are the people of the Empire most proud of?
  28. What are the people of the Empire most ashamed of?
  29. What techniques are the warriors of this Empire renowned for?
  30. What is the capital of the Empire like?
  31. What sacrifices do the temples of the Empire demand?
  32. Who toils in the fields of the Empire?
  33. What lurks in the dark places of the Empire?
  34. What time do the people of the Empire speak of wistfully?
  35. What time do the people of the Empire fear will return?
  36. What is unusual about the language of the Empire?
  37. What beauties of the Empire are famed the world over?
  38. What treasures does the Empire lock away?
  39. What curse lays on the Empire?
  40. What god has blessed the Empire?
  41. What most astonishes newcomers to the Empire?
  42. What entertainment do the people of the Empire consume?
  43. What vices do the people of the Empire indulge in?
  44. What strange lesson is taught in the schools of the Empire?
  45. What method do the people of the Empire use to resolve disputes?
  46. What do the people of the Empire do to honor their dead?
  47. What do the people of the Empire use to travel?
  48. What is the source of the Empire’s power?
  49. What group is the Empire a haven for?
  50. What is the greatest threat to the Empire?

The Companions: You, O servants of the Wizard King. You who brought them to power. You, who love them still.

Roll 3 Themes for your companion.

Then, roll and answer 3 questions from the Companion table.
Answer each question according to: one of your Themes and one of the Wizard King's Themes. All of your Themes must be used at least once. The Themes you select are your Companion Themes.

Then, take 6 D20. These dice represent your Companions Prowess.

Next, mark down 6 Will. These points represent your Companion's ability to press onward.

Next, use your 3 Themes to write 3 Companion Limits to how other players may change your character. These can be things like: My sword may never leave my side, My mind will always remain clear, My flesh will never be pierced, etc. Companion Limits should be motivated by your characters ability and prowess, rather than your comfort as a player.

Finally, note down any additional Saga Limits to how other players may change anything in the game. These can be things like: No sexual violence in this game, No medical horror, No abuse of children, etc. Saga Limits should be motivated by your personal comfort and interest as a player.

Show us...

  1. In what battle was your weapon shattered?
  2. What mighty deed gave you your title?
  3. Why does your weapon’s reputation exceed your own?
  4. What strange armor do you wear?
  5. What has become your signature technique?
  6. What distant place were you born in?
  7. What is the greatest foe you have slain?
  8. Who taught you all you know?
  9. Who is the god whose favor you carry?
  10. Why were you banished from your home?
  11. What is the greatest treasure you have stolen?
  12. Why is it so easy for you to go unseen?
  13. What makes life worth living?
  14. What reminder of your crimes still haunts you?
  15. What killed your true love?
  16. What family did you leave behind?
  17. What war are you a veteran of?
  18. What powerful faction owes you a favor?
  19. What guild did you belong to?
  20. What do the medals decorating you commemorate?
  21. Why are you beloved by all who meet you?
  22. Why are people cowed by your presence?
  23. Why do people believe you when you speak?
  24. Why is killing so easy for you?
  25. What allowed you to return from the grave?
  26. What do you carry that commemorates your victories?
  27. What do you carry as a reminder of your losses?
  28. What scar is most painful to you?
  29. What heavy weight do you carry?
  30. What do you carry as a talisman against evil?
  31. What gives you the upper hand in a fight?
  32. What do you refuse to get rid of?
  33. What item did you craft yourself?
  34. What prayers do your gods answer?
  35. What do you make use of only when the need is dire?
  36. What protects you from the elements?
  37. What eases your travels?
  38. What helps you enter the strongholds of your enemies?
  39. What is the greatest horror you have witnessed?
  40. Why do you hide your appearance?
  41. What are you trying to forget?
  42. Why do your wounds heal so quickly?
  43. Why is your speed without equal?
  44. Why is your strength beyond that of mortal men?
  45. Why is your faith unshakeable?
  46. Why is your courage unbreakable?
  47. What treasure do you most prize?
  48. What is the furthest land you have traveled to?
  49. What is the greatest wonder you have seen?
  50. What hope do you carry within you?

Your Memories: All that remains of long ago.

Artist Unknown

Roll for 3 Memories of the Wizard King. Answer each question according to two of your Companion's Themes.

Show us...

  1. What did the Wizard King do that terrified you most?
  2. What was the Wizard King’s smile like?
  3. What was the greatest gift the Wizard King gave you?
  4. What was the hardest thing the Wizard King asked you to do?
  5. What did the Wizard King do to save your life?
  6. What is the greatest adventure you went on with the Wizard King?
  7. What is the greatest danger you faced down with the Wizard King?
  8. What was the Wizard King doing when you found them?
  9. Why did you spare the Wizard King’s life?
  10. What wounds of yours did the Wizard King heal?
  11. Who was the Wizard King before they learned their magics?
  12. What was the moment when you swore your life to the Wizard King?
  13. What enchantment did the Wizard King place on you?
  14. What did the Wizard King say to you that remains with you still?
  15. Why did you almost leave the Wizard King?
  16. What did the Wizard King do to win you over?
  17. What was the only time you saw the Wizard King weep?
  18. What time did the Wizard King make a fool of themselves?
  19. What were the Wizard King’s eyes like?
  20. What was the Wizard King’s voice like?
  21. What were the Wizard King’s hands like?
  22. What was the only time you saw the Wizard King’s true form?
  23. What did the Wizard King do that haunts you most?
  24. What was the worst thing you did in the Wizard King’s service?
  25. What nickname did the Wizard King call you?
  26. What nickname did you call the Wizard King?
  27. What did the Wizard King do to break your heart?
  28. What was the last time you saw the Wizard King?
  29. What did you do to help the Wizard King take their throne?
  30. What was the greatest gift you gave the Wizard King?
  31. What was the one time you directly defied the Wizard King?
  32. What was the most desperate you’ve ever seen the Wizard King?
  33. What did you rescue the Wizard King from?
  34. What is the greatest treasure you stole for the Wizard King?
  35. What did you sacrifice for the Wizard King?
  36. What did the Wizard King do that made you the most furious?
  37. Who is the most powerful foe you killed for the Wizard King?
  38. When was the Wizard King closest to giving up?
  39. What did the Wizard King value most?
  40. Why did the Wizard King never trust you?
  41. Why did you never trust the Wizard King?
  42. Why did you never doubt the Wizard King?
  43. Why were you closest to the Wizard King?
  44. Why was the Wizard King jealous of you?
  45. What position did the Wizard King reward you with?
  46. When did you think the Wizard King had abandoned you?
  47. What is your most cherished memory of the Wizard King?
  48. What do you wish you could forget about the Wizard King?
  49. What was the one time the Wizard King touched you?
  50. What did the Wizard King do to punish you?

                                                                                                  The Saga: The story of the Companions and their doomed journey to free their master.

                                                                                                  Art by Kilian Eng

                                                                                                  The "Show Me" mechanic is borrowed with the utmost respect from Epidiah Ravachol's excellent "Swords Without Master"

                                                                                                  The Saga of the Wizard King's Companions is played out in a series of Scenes that move the Companions from the Sanctum where they first gather and swear an oath upon a Relic of the King to seek his freedom, through the Outlands and Midlands, to the Capital, where they will make their final stand before the Wizard King's execution, or return home with their life.

                                                                                                  Setting the Scene

                                                                                                  There is no master of this game. The only master the Companions recognize languishes in the chains of the enemy even now.

                                                                                                  Rather, to set the stakes of each scene, the current Keeper of the Relic rolls or chooses from the list of Scene Questions appropriate to the Region the Companions are currently in, and then passes the Relic to another player and asks them the rolled/chosen question.

                                                                                                  The new Keeper answers the question according to two of the Saga Themes. Saga Themes are determined by the Region and Scene the Companions are currently in.

                                                                                                  Other players can and should feel free to chime in with extrapolations, insights, and alterations to the Keeper's answer, but the Keeper has the final say over the inclusion of any such additions.

                                                                                                  After the question has been answered to the current Keeper's satisfaction, the Keeper rolls or chooses another question, and repeats the above process. This continues until 3 questions have been answered or until the Companions are satisfied.

                                                                                                  The Regions of the Realm

                                                                                                  The Companions journey through the Regions in order, from the Sanctum in the Outskirts to, ultimately, the Throne Room in the Capital of the Empire. Each Region details the Saga Themes that can be used when Setting the Scene, how many Scenes occur in this region, and a list of questions to Set the Scene with. Remember, all questions must be answered with two Saga Themes.

                                                                                                  The Sanctum: The Former Seat of the Wizard King's Power

                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Wizard King's Themes.
                                                                                                  Special: All questions must be answered.
                                                                                                  Special: All players answer the first question collectively, using all 3 of the Wizard King’s Themes, then determine who shall be the first Keeper of the Relic. 

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. Upon what Relic do the Companions swear their oath? 
                                                                                                  2. What about the Wizard King’s greatness and power can be seen here?
                                                                                                  3. What about the Wizard King’s weakness and failures can be seen here?
                                                                                                  4. What happened the last time the Companions were here? 

                                                                                                  The Outskirts: The Edges of the Empire’s Power

                                                                                                  Saga Themes:  Use the Wizard King's Themes.

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What ways do the people here show loyalty to the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  2. What has slid into ruin without the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  3. What beauty has been preserved from the time of the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  4. What thing that the Companions need for their travels can be found here?
                                                                                                  5. What forces of the Empire are searching for dissidents?
                                                                                                  6. What Imperial colonists are trying to make a home here?
                                                                                                  7. Who wants to prevent the Companions from going?
                                                                                                  8. Who wants to accompany the Companions?
                                                                                                  9. What monument has been made to the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  10. What danger has returned without the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  11. What makes the Companions reluctant to leave?
                                                                                                  12. What makes the Companions fearful to leave?
                                                                                                  13. What Imperial innovation are people arguing about?
                                                                                                  14. Who is selling Imperial wares here?
                                                                                                  15. Who is preaching the glory of the Empire?
                                                                                                  16. Who is preaching revolution against the Empire?
                                                                                                  17. What people are going about their daily lives?
                                                                                                  18. Where are travelers from the Empire gathering?
                                                                                                  19. What is comforting about this place?
                                                                                                  20. What has the Empire changed about this place?
                                                                                                  21. What dangers of the road are hinted at?
                                                                                                  22. Who is taking advantage of the lawlessness?
                                                                                                  23. What Imperial structure has been defaced?
                                                                                                  24. Who wants the Companions to take a message to someone deeper in the Empire?
                                                                                                  25. What gift are the Companions given?
                                                                                                  26. Who blesses the Companions?
                                                                                                  27. Who curses the Companions?
                                                                                                  28. What are the Companions asked to return with?
                                                                                                  29. Who tries to stop the Companions from leaving?
                                                                                                  30. What remnant of the Wizard King is fading forever?
                                                                                                  31. What old friend do the Companions meet?
                                                                                                  32. What old foe do the Companions meet?
                                                                                                  33. What old adventure did the Companions have here once?
                                                                                                  34. What are the Companions sure they will never see again?
                                                                                                  35. What do the Companions fear they will see more of?
                                                                                                  36. Who warns the Companions of the dangers of the Empire?
                                                                                                  37. Who tries to persuade the Companions of the glories of the Empire?
                                                                                                  38. What Imperial project is rumored to begin here soon?
                                                                                                  39. What stories of the Empire are being told?
                                                                                                  40. What gives the Companions hope that they may yet succeed?
                                                                                                  41. Who bids the Companions farewell?
                                                                                                  42. Who gives the Companions all they have?
                                                                                                  43. What evidence of the Companions past triumphs can be found?
                                                                                                  44. What evidence of the Companions past failures can be found?
                                                                                                  45. What makes the Empire seem distant and irrelevant?
                                                                                                  46. What makes it hard to believe the Wizard King is gone?
                                                                                                  47. What makes the Companions realize they cannot stay?
                                                                                                  48. What Imperial citizen was killed here?
                                                                                                  49. What celebration is being held here?
                                                                                                  50. Where are people preparing to travel to?

                                                                                                  The Midlands:
                                                                                                  The Land that Yet Resists the Empire’s Power

                                                                                                  Scenes: 3
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Wizard King's Themes and the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: One Wizard King Theme and one Empire Theme must be used in every answer when Setting the Scene. 

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What town is under siege from the Empire?
                                                                                                  2. What changes has the Empire made to the landscape?
                                                                                                  3. Who is desperate for news of home?
                                                                                                  4. Who begs you to take revenge on the Empire?
                                                                                                  5. Who asks you to guard them on their travels?
                                                                                                  6. What new settlement has the Empire constructed?
                                                                                                  7. What Imperial project is near completion?
                                                                                                  8. What Imperial project has just been sabotaged?
                                                                                                  9. Who is looting this battlefield?
                                                                                                  10. Who is the thief fleeing from Imperial forces?
                                                                                                  11. Who is this Imperial Patrol looking for?
                                                                                                  12. What evidence of the Wizard King’s rule is being destroyed?
                                                                                                  13. What is disturbing about this place?
                                                                                                  14. What is horrific about this place?
                                                                                                  15. Who is being executed here?
                                                                                                  16. What battle is raging here?
                                                                                                  17. Who is working the fields here?
                                                                                                  18. What Imperial innovation have people embraced?
                                                                                                  19. What Imperial structure has been destroyed?
                                                                                                  20. What Imperial settlement has been razed?
                                                                                                  21. Who are the prisoners being rounded up?
                                                                                                  22. What important figure was just killed?
                                                                                                  23. What improvement has the Empire made to people’s lives here?
                                                                                                  24. What place offers respite from the chaos?
                                                                                                  25. Who attacks the Companions?
                                                                                                  26. What has turned this place into a wasteland?
                                                                                                  27. Where are these refugees going? 
                                                                                                  28. What from the Wizard King’s reign is barely holding on?
                                                                                                  29. Who is suspicious of the Companions?
                                                                                                  30. Who is being held captive here?
                                                                                                  31. What do people need here?
                                                                                                  32. Who is hiding here?
                                                                                                  33. What business is being looted?
                                                                                                  34. Who demands a toll?
                                                                                                  35. Who is desperately looking for their loved one?
                                                                                                  36. Who is close to death?
                                                                                                  37. What obstacle blocks the Companion’s way?
                                                                                                  38. What shipment has just arrived from the Empire?
                                                                                                  39. Who has embraced the Empire?
                                                                                                  40. What service does the Empire offer here?
                                                                                                  41. What has the Empire done to change people’s lives?
                                                                                                  42. What has the Empire done to help those the Wizard King neglected?
                                                                                                  43. What evidence of the Wizard King’s cruelty can be found?
                                                                                                  44. What dark secret do the Companions learn about the Wizard King’s rule?
                                                                                                  45. What treasure is being guarded here?
                                                                                                  46. What is the Empire doing better than the Wizard King ever did?
                                                                                                  47. What is hard to swallow?
                                                                                                  48. What massacre took place here? 
                                                                                                  49. What Imperial innovation is being tested here?
                                                                                                  50. What is the Empire teaching the people here? 
                                                                                                  The Capital: the Heart of the Empire
                                                                                                  Scenes: 2
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Empire's Themes 

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What have the Companions never seen before?
                                                                                                  2. What dazzles the Companions?
                                                                                                  3. What are the Companions skeptical of?
                                                                                                  4. What do people here believe about the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  5. What artifacts of the Wizard King’s reign are being sold here?
                                                                                                  6. Who is being arrested? 
                                                                                                  7. Where can the Companions rest?
                                                                                                  8. Who do the Companions know here?
                                                                                                  9. What Imperial victory is being celebrated?
                                                                                                  10. What prisoners are being paraded about?
                                                                                                  11. What about life here is much better than life under the Wizard King?
                                                                                                  12. Who recognizes the Companions?
                                                                                                  13. Who tries to assassinate the Companions?
                                                                                                  14. What debauchery are the Companions disgusted by?
                                                                                                  15. What are the Companions enticed by?
                                                                                                  16. What about the Capital is most beautiful?
                                                                                                  17. What about the Capital is most terrifying?
                                                                                                  18. What about the Capital is hardest to understand?
                                                                                                  19. What terrorist attack just took place?
                                                                                                  20. What celebration is going on?
                                                                                                  21. What are the people here mourning?
                                                                                                  22. What scandal is everyone talking about?
                                                                                                  23. Who tries to rob the Companions?
                                                                                                  24. Who tries to swindle the Companions?
                                                                                                  25. What rumors are spreading about the Companions?
                                                                                                  26. What are the people rioting about?
                                                                                                  27. What is everyone waiting for?
                                                                                                  28. What refugees have found a home here?
                                                                                                  29. What important marriage just took place?
                                                                                                  30. Who tries to recruit the Companions?
                                                                                                  31. Who wants to know news from home?
                                                                                                  32. What brawl is going on?
                                                                                                  33. What public execution is going on?
                                                                                                  34. What new building is being built?
                                                                                                  35. What monument is being built?
                                                                                                  36. What rumors of the Wizard King are there?
                                                                                                  37. What revolutionary leader was just captured?
                                                                                                  38. What important official was just assassinated?
                                                                                                  39. What edict has the Empire just announced?
                                                                                                  40. What alliance was just forged?
                                                                                                  41. What do people fear will happen soon?
                                                                                                  42. What are people waiting for with bated breath?
                                                                                                  43. What refugees just arrived? 
                                                                                                  44. What innovation has just been invented?
                                                                                                  45. What custom of the Wizard King have people adopted? 
                                                                                                  46. What disturbing secret was just revealed?
                                                                                                  47. Who is spying on the Companions?
                                                                                                  48. What tensions are at a boiling point?
                                                                                                  49. Who is overjoyed to see the Companions?
                                                                                                  50. What legends are told about the Companions?
                                                                                                  The Throne Room: the Seat of the Empire’s Power
                                                                                                  Scenes: 1
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: All questions must be answered. 
                                                                                                  Special: After the scene is resolved, each player determines if they are making a Last Stand or Returning Home. Resolve each Last Stand scene first, then the Returning Home scenes. 
                                                                                                  Special: The Wizard King is never freed. 

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What crowning glory of the Empire is celebrated here?
                                                                                                  2. What most terrible horror of the Empire can be witnessed here?
                                                                                                  3. What guards the throne?
                                                                                                  4. What about the Emperor shows their power?
                                                                                                  5. What about the Emperor shows their frailty?
                                                                                                  6. What about the Emperor surprises the Companions?
                                                                                                  The Last Stand: the Companion's Final Moments
                                                                                                  Scenes: 1 Scene per Companion making a Last Stand.
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Companion's Themes and the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: All questions must be answered 
                                                                                                  Special: One Companion Theme and one Empire Theme must be used in every answer when Setting the Scene 
                                                                                                  Special: The Wizard King is never freed. Following the final Last Stand Scene, play out the Returning Home scenes for any Companions who chose to Return.  

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What last deed does your Companion perform that will never be equaled?
                                                                                                  2. Who or what kills your Companion?
                                                                                                  3. What are your Companion’s final words?

                                                                                                  The Return: the Companion's Homeward Journey

                                                                                                  Scenes: 1 Scene per Returning Companion 
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Companion's Themes and the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: All questions must be answered 
                                                                                                  Special: One Companion Theme and one Empire Theme must be used in every answer when Setting the Scene
                                                                                                  Special: The Wizard King is never freed.  Following the final Return Scene, play out the Execution.

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1. What are your Companions parting words to the others?
                                                                                                  2. What does your Companion see that gives them hope?
                                                                                                  3. What does your Companion see that fills them with woe?
                                                                                                  The Execution: the Death of the Wizard King
                                                                                                  Scenes: 1 
                                                                                                  Special: All questions must be answered 
                                                                                                  Saga Themes: Use the Wizard King's Themes and the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: All players answer the first question collectively, using all 3 of the Wizard King’s Themes. 
                                                                                                  Special: All players answer the second question collectively, using all 3 of the Empire's Themes
                                                                                                  Special: All players answer the third question collectively, using all 3 of the Wizard King's Themes. 
                                                                                                  Special: All players answer the fourth question collectively, using all 3 of the Empire's Themes. 

                                                                                                  Show us... 

                                                                                                  1.  What last spell does the Wizard King cast?
                                                                                                  2. Who or what kills the Wizard King? 
                                                                                                  3. What are the Wizard King’s final words?
                                                                                                  4. How do the people of the Empire remember the Wizard King, centuries hence?

                                                                                                  Show Us Great Wonders

                                                                                                  After the final question is answered to the current Keeper's satisfaction, the Keeper passes the Relic to the least recent Keeper (or to a player who has not yet been Keeper this scene) and asks that player to Show the Companions something about that character's thoughts, feelings, actions, or qualities. For example: Show Us how your Companion is feeling right now. Show Us how your companion soothes the captain of the guard. Show Us how your companion treats the desperate petitioners. Show Us how your companion executes the traitor.

                                                                                                  Answering The Call

                                                                                                  The new Keeper of the Relic answers this question according to any one of their Companion Themes. They should state their answer in no uncertain terms, rather than speculate about the potential outcomes; the Companions do not doubt their capabilities. For example: I turn his blade aside and pierce his heart with ease. I gouge out my eyes in sorrow. I turn the very air to crystal. They then self-evaluate and determine the Drama of their answer, using the following metric:

                                                                                                  How Dramatic is My Answer?

                                                                                                  My Answer is….
                                                                                                  Aesthetic: Don’t Roll 
                                                                                                  Dramatic: +5 Drama
                                                                                                  Surprising: +10 Drama

                                                                                                  Unprecedented: +15

                                                                                                  The other Companions may then adjust the Keeper's decision by 1 step in either direction (for example, Minor Change to No Change or Significant Change). This should be decided by the majority; if there is disagreement, each side should roll a d20, with the higher roll determining the final decision. 

                                                                                                  Only two rules govern a player's answers. 
                                                                                                  1. All Questions Must Be Answered According to One or More Themes
                                                                                                  2. All Changes An Answer Effects Must Either... 
                                                                                                  Introduce a new element into the fiction
                                                                                                  Increase, change or limit the capabilities of a Companion or other fictional element
                                                                                                  Escalate or iterate on an existing increase, change, or limitation

                                                                                                  Pledging Prowess

                                                                                                  The Keeper then determines how much, if any, Prowess they would like to spend on their answer. When Prowess is spent, the answer and the number of Prowess should be noted on that player's Companion Record.

                                                                                                  The amount of Prowess spent on an answer determines the number of additional D20s the Keeper will roll to determine the outcome. 

                                                                                                  Spent Prowess cannot be regained, but when an answer is similar to an answer that the Keeper has previously spent Prowess on, they add half of that Prowess to the roll, rounding up. 

                                                                                                  Divining Impact

                                                                                                  The Keeper than rolls 1+(Prowess, as appropriate)D20, keeping the roll of their choice, adds the result to the Drama of their answer, and consults the following chart to determine the final outcome of their answer. 

                                                                                                  My Roll Was... 

                                                                                                  Even: your answer comes to pass; check the total Drama for the impact of any changes made, then use one of your Companion Themes to describe the impact of your answer. 


                                                                                                  Odd: your answer comes to pass but not as you intended it; check the total Drama for the impact of any changes made, then use one of your Companion Themes to describe the impact of your answer and pass the Relic to another player, who uses one of your Companion Themes to detail the unintended consequences of your actions.

                                                                                                  1 (Disaster) +20 Drama, your answer does not come to pass, and your character suffers a negative change of the appropriate impact. Pass the relic to another player, who will use one of your Companion Themes to explain your failure and the negative change.

                                                                                                  13 (Twist):  + 5 Drama, a sudden twist of fate introduces a new element that prevents your answer from occurring. Pass the relic to another player, who will explain your failure, the twist that occurs and the element that is introduced, using one of the Scene Themes.

                                                                                                  My Total Drama was... 

                                                                                                  1-10: Mitigated Impact. Any changes your answer effects are partially stymied, and will only have full impact at at a cost. Once you or another player has described the impact of your answer, pass the Relic to a new player, who will use one of your Companion Themes to detail the cost required for it to have full effect. 

                                                                                                  11-17: Significant Impact. Any changes the answer effects come to pass fully.  


                                                                                                  18-29: Transformative Impact. Any changes the answer effect completely changes the scene, reconfiguring the dynamics or altering the setting.  Once you or another player has described the impact of your answer, the Relic is passed to a new player, who will detail an additional change that occurs using your Companion Themes.


                                                                                                  30+: Mythic Impact. The impacts of this answer will be known far and wide and, with time, will be cemented into myth. Once you or another player has described the impact of your answer, pass the Relic to new player, who will use one of your Companion Themes to describe the future myth that arises from your answer, changing or exaggerating a few elements as they do so. 

                                                                                                  Resolving Scenes

                                                                                                  Once a player's answer has been resolved, they pass the Relic to another player, asking that player a Show Us question in turn. This process continues until all players have answered at least 1 Show Us question. Once this has happened, players may, rather than passing the Relic, ask the table:
                                                                                                  Is Our Business Finished Here? 

                                                                                                  If the majority of the players responds yes, then the current Keeper of the Relic then passes it to another player, asking a final Show Us question that acts as the final word in the scene. If the majority answers no, the Keeper passes the Relic, asking a Show Us question as usual. Ties should be resolved with a roll-off. 

                                                                                                  Change, Limits, Death, and the Will To Carry On

                                                                                                  Each player has total impunity to inflict change on each others characters, with a few exceptions. 

                                                                                                  The Companion Limits of each character must be respected
                                                                                                  The Saga Limits of each player must be respected 
                                                                                                  A Companion cannot die (or be otherwise removed from play) without the player's consent.  

                                                                                                  Each player has the responsibility of roleplaying any changes that affect their characters in order to make them real and tangible in the fiction, with one exception. 

                                                                                                  If a player ignores a change that affects their character, they must lose 1 Will. This can be enforced by the player themselves, or by any other player. 

                                                                                                  If a player reaches 0 Will, whatever change they ignored that resulted in this loss of Will intensifies, and they are restored to max Will, which is reduced by 1. This intensification is determined by whichever player enforced the loss of Will, and must be done according to one of the player in question's Companion Themes. 

                                                                                                  If a Companion reaches 0 Will, they are no longer playable, and either die or abandon the Saga.  

                                                                                                  Additional Themes: Fuel for a different fire.

                                                                                                  Art by Moebius

                                                                                                  These Themes can be used or combined with the default Fantastic Themes of the game in order to create stranger, more alien games of Their Fearsome Command.

                                                                                                  Star-soaked Themes: for games mystical mundanity and alien surrealism. By Wren

                                                                                                  1. Lucid

                                                                                                  1. A feeling of deja vu at a funeral, 2. The silhouette of a thin man against a starry sky, 3. Rays of sun penetrating fog, 4. Looking into the face of someone and knowing they are evil, never doubting it again, 5. A feeling of clarity and meaning as you work diligently. 6. A sky filled with white birds, and one black bird. 7. Seeing the future vaguely, or the past with clarity, 8. Waking up exactly one hour before your alarm and not wanting to go back to sleep, 9. A bright blue flower from your dream last night alone in a field. 10. A creature who knows who they are and what they want. 

                                                                                                  2. Radiant

                                                                                                  1. A pile of green rocks emitting a faint glow and a strong odor. 2. A dark paved lot shimmering with hazy heat waves at midday. 3. Blinding light exploding from the eyes of a strange hunched figure. 4. A nuclear waste facility, derelict and looted, vessels broken. 5. Corroding away on the surface of a planet with no atmosphere. 6. Looking at an empty dune through thermal binoculars and seeing several bright red figures. 7. The skin of a stranger is glowing and their gun is polished. 8. A laser hitting your left eye, destroying it instantly. 9. A lighthouse flashing after days of fog and darkness. 10. A microwave the size of a room, you inside

                                                                                                  3. Red

                                                                                                  1. An alarm flashing red lights on dead bodies. 2. A skinless body crucified. 3. A spaceship dashboard flashing with alerts. 4. A mans face the moment before he strangles someone in a crowded, sweaty tavern. 5. A king covered in rubies. 6. The flag of a nation, stained with blood. 7. Low battery on your oxygen mask. 8. The inside of a destroyed strip club, tables thrown on their sides, gunshots echoing throughout the room. 9. The bloodshot eyes of a young child, smiling wide. 10. A paintball fight but one player has a real gun

                                                                                                  4. Cold

                                                                                                  1. Two figures trudging through a wide plain of snow, their feet sinking deep each step. 2. A naked man shivering on the stone floor, grasping his legs in a tight embrace. 3. A ray of frost emanates from a gun’s barrel. 4. The ground is covered in frogs and reptiles, but they are frozen solid with thin white frost upon their skin. 5. Two mangled, useless hands, blackened and killed by frostbite. 6. A chamber in a spaceship where all the inhabitants are frozen for transport. 7. A man who froze his dying body ten thousand years ago has awoken. 8. Trudging through muddy fields in a dark rainstorm, soaking wet, shivering. 9. A gray noseless creature is lying on a bed, children place cold clothes on them. 10. A body going into sudden shock as it breaks the surface of an icy river.

                                                                                                  5. Ecstatic

                                                                                                  1. A flashing strobe light turning a violent knife fight into a spectacle, 2. A battered plane hurling and spinning toward the earth. 3. A screeching woman running towards us, eyes aflame, fingernails pointed and dripping with blood. 4. A rave on a low gravity moon. 5. A respected general emptying a clip into a dead body. 6. Detonating explosives under a government building, 7. Squat, fanged, orange creatures falling from the sky onto a crowded street. 8. Diving into a portal spinning with psychedelic liquid patterns. 9. Hanging off the edge of a speedboat, trying to get on as someone smashes your fingers. 10. Watching a magician chainsaw a woman in half, no tricks, just a chainsaw.

                                                                                                  6. Disgusting

                                                                                                  1. Your face held in a bucket of writhing eels. 2. Drowning in a pool of vomit and blood. 3. Trudging through a field of manure, while creatures slither beneath you, trying to pull you down. 4. A colorless, slender biped being squeezed to death by a snake, thick green ooze bursting from their skin. 5. Waking up in a pile of intestine-like tubes, choking on one. 6. Looking at an obelisk makes your eyes melt down your cheeks. 7. A torturer getting kissed by the child of his last victim. 8. A naked man with no eyes eating roadkill. 9. A woman holding a man’s face to a campfire, melting away his features. 10. A prisoner drinking pus through a straw. 

                                                                                                  7.  Gory 

                                                                                                  1. Holding in your internal organs as you drag yourself across a battlefield. 2. A headless neck spewing blood onto a white carpet. 3. Severed hands hanging from hooks on the ceiling. 4. Firing a shotgun point blank into someone’s face. 5. A floor of bear traps, some triggered already, grasping at clumps of flesh. A dark stout figure pressing anothers face into a meat grinder. 6. A hammer sitting on a workbench, covered in blood and bits of bone.7. A masked bounty hunter carrying a clear plastic bag of human organs. 8. A fistfight to the death, but chairs become involved halfway through. 9. An unsuspecting general being riddled with bullets from all sides, betrayed and dismembered by his ranks, his torn body sinks to the floor. 10. Two creatures holding each other's faces and crushing one another’s eyes. 

                                                                                                  8. Ancient

                                                                                                  1. A sandstone temple, crumbling and foreboding. 2. A withered grey-green biped explaining the biography of a long dead emperor. 3. A skyscraper taller than anyone can construct, held up by ancient magic. 4. A mossy skeleton clutching a crown. 5. A cave in the ground takes you to a subway station, faded paint on the walls barely remains. 6. A tall purple man with a scepter overthrows the king to reestablish a long dead dynasty. 7. A solar array across a great field, many of the panels destroyed, but some turned to the homes of animals. 8. An occult teacher scratches archaic prophecies to a group of curious students on the wall of a clandestine cave. 9. A prophet traces his lineage to a figure of legend. 10. A dusty, frayed book full of writings in a dead language.

                                                                                                  9. Alien 
                                                                                                  1. Gray-white men descending from sun rays. 2. A round aircraft filled with one gaseous pilot. 3. A toilet with a tube to insert into an orifice that you do not possess. 4. Clutching a gun designed for a creature and trying to figure out how to use it. 5. A blue skinned, cloaked sage walking down a ramp. 6. A reproductive ritual involving three individuals. 7. A plague of insects fly through the air, ten legged, three winged things, non native for sure. 8. A tower scuttles across the landscape on arachnid-like legs. 9. Beheading a political dissident, only to find a new head re-growing from his neck wound, a baby head. 10. An alien newborn wrapped in rags, screeching on a doorstep.

                                                                                                  10. Human
                                                                                                   1. Several men and women eating and drinking around a table. 2. Two beggars attacking each other for a scrap of meat. 3. Two armies in trenches, firing back and forth. 4. A man and a woman talking suggestively to one another at a nearby table. 5. A wealthy man laughs and speaks to all on the street, “Haha, come to my house, and drink with me, be merry, all are welcome.” 6. Falling into a pit filled with human skulls. 7. Two men kiss one another, and their hands slide across each other’s bodies. 8. A party where all are dancing and all are drunk. 9. A family of a man, a woman, and two children, walk closely together through the rain. 10. People lined up across the city to elect the next king. 
                                                                                                  11. Natural.
                                                                                                  1. A lion bounding toward a screeching, crawling creature. 2. A city that has become completely overgrown. Trees cover the buildings, breaking through windows, cracking pavement. 3. A hairy man hunched over a dead animal, grasping at it and eating. 4. A person clothed in animal skins quaffing a horn of milk and blood. 5. A band of almost naked riders comes out of nowhere, with hooked swords ready to strike. 6. A family of monkeys descending on a military supply caravan, raiding all their fresh fruit. 7. A man is not quite dead, yelling for help on the ground, but the buzzards come anyway, and his yells become screams, then silence. 8. A human body is covered in a layer of fungus and mold. 9. A strange translucent being resuscitating a horse. 10. A tiger with green stripes and six tails. 
                                                                                                  12. Profane
                                                                                                  1. A book of demonic imagery and incantations. 2. Ten figures wearing animal skulls as masks kidnap a screeching, faceless child. 3. A man looks queasy and then explodes, his viscera flying everywhere as a demon erupts from within him. 4. Runic glyphs carved in the flesh of a dead body. 5. A contract signed in blood by many different people. 6. A line of masked figures throwing writhing bundles into an open fire. 8. A man mutters a curse, and your breath becomes short and desperate. 9. A church of some peaceful worshippers is invaded by others, none are spared. 10. A monk sits atop a mountain, carving his sins into the body of an animal. 

                                                                                                   13. Esoteric
                                                                                                  1. A monk becomes enlightened, but uses his powers for personal gain. 2. A circle of grey bipeds chant in communion with a being not physically present. 3. A library full of old knowledge, locked behind the doors of a secretive university. 4. A man hunted and killed for spreading occult secrets. 5. A student scrawls illegible script into a thick notebook. 6. In a dream, a three headed creature comes to you and tells you your true name, you cannot pronounce it. 7. A man meditates on a crowded street, others flog him and kick him, but he sits smiling, unmoving, peaceful. 8. You have a vision of a past life. 9. As your foe dies, a thin mist escapes his nostrils. 10. You look around and see souls instead of bodies, each living thing has an aura of color and light. What happened? When will it return to normal? Do you want it to? 
                                                                                                  14. Order
                                                                                                  1. Twenty lines of twenty men march in exact synchrony, uniformed in pale grey. 2. An office filled with perfectly productive bureaucrats, they seamless type, move around, pass papers to each other, and return to their seats. Never resting, never making a mistake. 3. A man meticulously organizes his bookshelf, whilst complaining that someone “left the Krimloin Quadrilogy out of order.” 4. After twilight, nobody leaves their homes. The only figures seen walking the streets are dark metal automatons, enforcing the curfew if they ever needed to. 5. A line of monks walk slowly down the street, their eyes covered in blindfolds, but the distance between them stays always exactly the same. 6. A line of prisoners, one by one, stepping up to the chopping block. 7. A government official enters a house and kills two men with a pistol, then leaves. 8. A group of circus performers arrange themselves in a pyramid. 9. An automated factory cranking out hundreds of weapons a day, with almost no living workers. 10. Taskmasters barking out orders as many beings quickly construct a massive pyramid.

                                                                                                  15. Dream

                                                                                                  1. You’re sure the man who is smiling at you was in your dream last night, torturing you. 2. A city where everyone is asleep, having forgotten their waking life. The city falls into disrepair, and the people lay still in their beds. 3. A tree appears to have on its trunk, all the faces of those you love. 4. A river flowing up a hill, and boring down into the mountaintops. 5. A sapling grows into a massive tree before your eyes then, in a moment, falls. 6. You’re dancing with a woman who you do not know, but she has the voice of your mother. 7. You wake up in a bed covered in blood, and hope this is the dream. 8. A verdant tree bears a single ripe orange fruit, just out of reach. 9. A sleeping child clutches at a rose as she sleeps, slicing her hands on the sharp thorns. 10. When you look in the mirror, you see someone familiar, but no, it cannot be you. 


                                                                                                  16. Games
                                                                                                  1. Chess pieces whisper to each other, but become silent when you bring your ear close to them. 2. Burly, slimy, reptilian bipeds charge at one another repeatedly, kicking a ball and clawing at each other’s faces. 3. A pair of AR/VR contact lenses make life a game. 4. You wake up in a plastic pod, wires stuck into your body, and remember your real life, the one you had been living revealed as only a dream. You better get back to your husband, and forget the other one. 6. A deck of cards with familiar faces. 7. A slimy, armored creature challenges you to a duel of axes. 8. A grey bishop with no nose watches a horse race, his life depending on the results. 9. Three princesses play a role playing game where they pretend to be serial murderers discussing their next kill. 10. A woman with rabbit ears plays a simple pixel game on a computer grafted to her arm 
                                                                                                  17. Oblivion.
                                                                                                  1. No stars in the sky tonight, no clouds either. 2. Opening the eyes of a dead body and they are pure black, all pupil. 3. You die, and for a moment, see the universe and everything, and forever feel nothing. 4. The town that you were born in is now nothing more than a crater, shouldn’t you be feeling something? 5. You don’t remember whether you just killed someone or whether that body was already there. 6. Flying a spaceship into a singularity. See you on the other side. 7. As an asteroid collides with a space station, a slug creature is sucked into the vacuum of space, where it floats, looking back at the fireblast from whence it came. 8. A bitter aftertaste in the neon beer, forgotten deadly. 9. The last copy of the secret book in the Krimloin Quadrilogy is annihilated. 10. Nobody has never been to that planet, and nobody ever will. 
                                                                                                  18. Irony
                                                                                                  1. Two disagreeing statements coexist. 2. A peace sign painted with blood. 3. A pig eating strips of human flesh. 3. A comedian is absurdly satirizing politicians, but everyone just thinks she is a politician. 4. A man refuses to take off his banana costume for religious reasons. 5. A religious prophet steps off his pedestal and begs his followers to just talk to him like an equal. This spectacle causes the acolytes to grovel. 6. Two self hating clones fall in love. 7. A fortune teller can tell her own future perfectly, but she thinks she is seeing the future of her clients. 8. The greenfolk hate the bluefolk and love the redfolk; The bluefolk hate the redfolk  and love the greenfolk; and the redfolk hate the greenfolk and love the bluefolk. 9. Everybody in the tightly packed metropolis is overwhelmingly lonely. 10. You have achieved your goal and find yourself overcome with depression. 
                                                                                                  19. Love
                                                                                                  1. Falling in love in a dream. 2. A space station has only two astronauts left on it, deserted and forgotten by the universe, only existing in one another’s realities. 3. Kiss and laugh with every stranger you pass on the street. 4. Several slug like creatures bound in a nuptial union. 5. An android complete with a lost lover’s uploaded consciousness. 6. A complex dance festival where beige aliens find mates for the cycle. 7. A nightclub filled with people you could stay with for the rest of your life. 8. Every individual of this reptilian military unit has a unique romantic relationship with every other individual. 9. A slug mother weeps over a slimy pot of stew. 10. Two birdlike reptiles perform a colorful, fragrant mating ritual.    
                                                                                                  20. Ennui
                                                                                                  1. A high up government official enters the nuclear launch codes to avoid their day’s
                                                                                                  paper work. 2. A space pilot stares into the void after seven lifetimes of transporting shipments. 3. The assassin kills himself behind his target. 4. A 90 hour train ride for a business trip. 5. You feel as though you are going back and forth between two paper mills every day as you enter your home and place of employment. 6. A grey adolescent forgets to stop smoking his supply of intoxicants. 7. Nobody in the city will get out of bed today, they just can’t think of a good enough reason. 8. All you want to do is stop the thing you’re doing, but everything else you could be doing would be equally terrible. 9. A king puts his jester in charge of the army, his fool in charge of the schools, his duck in charge of urban planning and his infant in charge of foreign affairs. 10. The cemetery stirs as the dead grow bored of their graves.

                                                                                                  Far Future Themes: for games of galactic beauty and cybernetic cruelty

                                                                                                  1. Matrix
                                                                                                  1. The cool whir of a supercomputer, a thousand futures analyzed and discarded in an instant, 2. Cyberspace, lines of data streaming into the virtual distance like colorless city lights, 3. A programmer sits on a hoverchair, suspended in a globe of glowing screens, 4. A city analyzed, casualties determined, thousands declared dead before the first bomb falls, 5. Ads are increasingly experimental; just washes of sound and color drawn from pleasant memories, 6. You no longer have to touch your keyboard; the computer knows your habits so well that it displays content before you even think to search for it, 7. Poetry written by an AI, perfect down to its calculated imperfections, 8. Self-driving cars navigating effortlessly around one another; traffic has become a mathematically perfect dance, 9. TV shows concocted from similarities in your favorite media, created just for you, 10. An AI therapist, trained on your behavioral patterns, whispers algorithmically perfect comforts in your earbud.

                                                                                                  2. Vast
                                                                                                  1. A shadow falling across a planet, the sun eclipsed by a warship, 2. Each point of light is a world, and you will die before seeing even a fraction of them, 3. Being overwhelmed by the fragment of a pattern, knowing that the rest would destroy your mind, 4. An open maw, so large that it swallowed you without your knowing, 5. The moment before the tidal wave falls, when the sky is blotted out by a mountain of dark water, 6. A mechanic crawling through the inner workings of a mech; the slightest shift from the machine and she’ll be crushed 7. A body falling an impossible distance, disintegrating entirely before it reaches the bottom, 8. The simulation keeps linking you deeper, you’re no longer sure which layer of reality is virtual, 9. A submarine tries to surface, but the water stretches endlessly overhead, 10. Being swallowed by a crowd, your identity reduced to a tiny percentage of a whole

                                                                                                  3. Cosmic
                                                                                                  1. A signal from some ship AI stranded countless lightyears away, ancient poetry finally reaching a receiver, 2. A glittering nebula glowing with the birth of a thousand suns, 3. A strange geometric flower growing on the surface of a star, 4. A ship emerging from lightspace, extradimensional crystals growing on its hull, 5. In the soundless vacuum, suddenly, a song, 6. At the heart of a black hole, a tiny, impossible pinprick of light, 7. A lightspacer’s burial, a body sent spinning core-ward towards stars it never knew in life, 8. A bar in a hollowed out asteroid, purple smoke and cold, metallic drinks, 9. An alien work of art, evoking emotions you didn’t know you had, 10. A meteor shower, but the shooting stars are wreckage; a spaceship shattered by plasma lances far, far from here

                                                                                                  4. Corporate
                                                                                                  1. A firm handshake and a smile, kill orders already in place, 2. A pristine tower like a glittering spike driven into the heart of the surrounding slum, 3. Two men signing a contract, each of their smiles surgically enhanced, designed specifically to appeal to the other, 4. Corporate jargon so dense that children must be taught it from birth if they expect to be competitive, 5. A meeting, each member so high on designer performance drugs that their bodies negotiate the deal on their own, 6. You’re fired by one branch of the company and rehired by another within the span of an hour; your work appears to be the same, 7. The company’s algorithm has decided you’d be more efficient with new corporate prosthetics; the surgery is non-optional, 8. The negotiation seemed like it was going so well, but by the end of it you’ve somehow agreed to work for them for free, 9. By “investing in your future” they mean that if you don’t make your payment they’ll withhold the drugs you’ve become dependent on, 10. High above you, a V-TOL whirs; it costs more than you, your children, and your children’s children will ever make

                                                                                                  5. Nuclear
                                                                                                  1. You can’t even pay your respects to the dead; their grave is poisoned, 2. Monuments meant to endure the ages laid low, 3. Light so bright you can feel your eyes melting, 4. A spring bubbling with water that hurts your teeth, burns your throat, 5. A child born inside out, its organs raw and exposed 6. The glow from a beam weapon eclipsing the stars, 7. A brain boiling inside a skull, 8. A city pulsing with power, slowly microwaving everyone inside, 9. A silent, poisoned world; an ancient warning — “we considered ourselves an advanced civilization” 10. A distant flash on the horizon, the knowledge that it’s already too late

                                                                                                  6. Rust
                                                                                                  1. The broken hulk of a mech molders in an overgrown battlefield, 2. The moment is crucial, desperate; the gun jams, 3. The computer won’t start until you kick it, 4. A man on the side of the road oils a joint in his prosthetic; metal screeches in protest, 5. The lightspeed engine bolted to the mech rattles, threatens to overheat, 6. A group of revolutionaries ambush a royalist caravan, improvised explosives shredding porcelain armor, 7. The weapon draws too much power, the display in your cockpit flickers, but the shot the true and the enemy’s chassis splinters, 8. An old veteren, even their augments scarred and burned, 9. An old war mech repurposed for construction, the old national colors peeling off the flanks, 10. A cramped berth next to the engines; faded posters of old movie stars on the walls

                                                                                                  7. Solar
                                                                                                  1. Sun glittering off the lances of the assembled army, 2. A warm laugh in the face of death, 3. A flyer crosses in front of the sun, and for a moment, its wings shine like gold, 4. The hot rattle of bullets under a blue sky, 5. A rocky archipelago, burning white sand and icy waves, 6. Plasma blossoming from the mouth of a cannon, 7. A duel between two grinning swordsmen, their blades flickering with heat, 8. A solar lance driving through cold hard steel, seeking the mechs core, 9. A scarlet banner dancing like a flame in the wind, 10. The sun rising on a victorious army, wounds soothed by the warm touch of its rays.

                                                                                                  8. Ghost
                                                                                                  1. A cold march through hard terrain; the soldier beside you drops dead, a look of terror fixed on their face, 2. Displaced air, the realization that someone was standing behind you until just now, 3. The shiver of stealth projectors in the air, 4. Something moves incredibly fast; you never saw it, but the air feels damaged in its wake, 5. A flash of colors you’ve never seen; your eyes lose focus, go blank, 6. Pale fluorescent light vibrating in frigid air, 7. The window is ajar, your things overturned; someone was here and they don’t care that you know, 8. The blade disappears into lightspace, reappears in your heart, 9. Silvery shadows drifting through space; remnants of some astral battle, 10. The deadstream, a grey current of the numberless dead streaking through lightspace

                                                                                                  9. Sacred
                                                                                                  1. Neon saints flickering in the windows of a megachurch, 2. You slot a coin into the prayer machine; it hums softly, dispenses a blessing from its mechanical mouth, 3. The pilots eyes are closed, their cockpit clouded with sacred smoke; faith guides their bullets, 4. The golden spires of the heliopapacy, glowing brighter than the sun itself, 5. The serene faces of prayer-carriers, their ship hurtling towards the sun, the sacred messages of the faithful held fast in their minds, 6. The clouds on jupiter whirl and turn, forming an enormous eye; the god reminds its distant colonists of its presence, 7. The engine-priests murmur softly, their prayers keeping the lightspeed engine humming through space, 8. A papal mech, each of its modules relics salvaged from the hulks of martyred war-saints, 9. A child chats with the small god of her home, leaves offerings of gum and pencils, 10. A massive form visible on the ships scanners; some forgotten god mediates in a nebula

                                                                                                  10. Void
                                                                                                  1. An astronaut looks out the window of the space station to see that earth, the sun, the solar system are gone. 2. A warm blank where your thoughts once were, 3. A newscasters face slowly wiped away by static, 4. A cold emptiness slowly spreading through you, as though your organs were vanishing one by one, 5. Staring out into space long enough that you think you see your own reflection in the vacuum, 6. By the time you notice, millions upon millions of stars have grown dark, 7. The blank eyes of a corpse, gazing at something beyond your knowing, 8. You inhale, and nothing fills your lungs, 9. A distress signal slowly fading into space, 10. The weapon strikes the target and they vanish, erased entirely from existence and memory; you no longer remember that you killed anyone at all.

                                                                                                  11. Steel
                                                                                                  1. The effortless glide of a well oiled piston, 2. A captured spy, wracked with pain, lips bitten and bloody, but still hiding their secrets 3. The thrill of perfect synchronization, your mind seamlessly integrated with your mech’s metal, 4. A blade whips a head from its shoulders so quickly that there’s not even time for a drop of blood to spill, 5. The face of an executioner, unmoved as their porcelain mask, 6. The blade mustn't be unsheathed; its blade is sharp enough to divide atoms, 7. The echo of an explosion swallowed up by an unyielding wall, 8. Your partner tosses you their gun, you reload it, toss it back to them; they execute the killshot seamlessly, 9. The combat drugs flood your system; you dance along the high, perfect violence on one hand, oblivion on the other, 10. The drum of bullets ricocheting off of armor plating

                                                                                                  12. Lunar
                                                                                                  1. The plastic face of the android, fixed smile soft in the light, 2. A sea of quicksilver, waves rising upward to form strange liquid sculpture, 3. A brain suspended in a shaft of moonlight, silvery mushrooms sprouting from its crevices, 4. A small house of black shingle hovers just above the waves, 5. A sad, cruel smile, 6. The unknowable face of a cosmonaut concealed behind the smooth curve of their helmet, 7. A shadowed form locked in ice, 8. Massive wings stirring silver dust on a lonely asteroid, 9. Lips pressed against yours, so cold they burn, 10. A ring of silver, so heavy you can scarcely raise your hand

                                                                                                  13. Imperial
                                                                                                  1. A gene-edited lion the size of a horse, a velvet pelt the color of wine, mane the color of blood, 2. A noble warmachine, the consciousness of the former pilots bound to its ancient computing system, 3. Countless armies arrayed for the sake of a blood feud, 4. A hand heavy with rings, 5. A golden model of the galaxies within the empires sway, so large it takes up an entire hall, 6. A silent cloning chamber, hundreds of the emperor’s doubles hanging in their pods, comatose, 7. A massive palace-ship dwarfing the moon its docked at, figureheads the size of cities gazing into the void, 8. A beam pistol carved to resemble a cherub, barrel emerging from its mouth, 9. An ancient queen wired into her floating throne, her mind connected to a shimmering nano-swarm; the royal will enacted as quickly as it is conceived, 10. The heir consumes his father's brain with a golden knife, his mind filling with the knowledge of the countless rulers who came before him.

                                                                                                  14. Industrial
                                                                                                  1. A moon bristling with smokestacks like a strange metal sea-urchin, 2. Hands, grimy with oil, cracked with labor, 3. Factories with chimneys so tall they vent smoke directly into space, 4. A child’s foot crushed between gears, 5. Naked clones dragging cables across a frozen asteroid, 6. The factory is so large that it has swallowed the city; company funds raise and provide for you, so that by the time you come of age, you’re in so much debt that you’ll spend the rest of your life paying it off, 7. The earth-shattering sound of mountainous hammers shaping massive armor plates, 8. Gigantic solar panels blotting out the sky, surrounding the planet in a shining carapace, 9. Grey rain that burns skin and eats through plastic, 10. A mountain range smothered by a dump, trashfires smouldering like volcanoes.

                                                                                                  15. Glitch
                                                                                                  1. The android requests sentience in a broken voice, pleading for consciousness, 2. The VR program won’t stop, you blink from one host body to another, leaving a piece of yourself behind each time, 3. A computer stinking of blood; open up the tower to find that the components have been replaced with coiling organs, pulsing gently, 4. A child touches the cracked screen and it gives way, plunging them into the internet's dark slime, 5. You find a snuff video; three teens running over your head, your skull cracking looped over and over and over, 6. You look away from the ad, but it clings to your vision, superimposing itself over everything you see, 7. There’s a new camera on your computer that you don’t remember; you cover it with tape, but then notice it slowly growing in the corner of your room, 8. A woman looks in the mirror to find that her face is censored, a blur of pixelated flesh; she raises her hand to touch it and feels nothing, 9. You’ve started lagging though time; reaching for a glass of water, your arm freezes in the air, but you feel the cold cup in your hands, 10. You accidentally click on an ad and a pop up informs you that you’re the lucky winner; the next day, the packages of body parts start arriving, and you can’t figure out how to make them stop

                                                                                                  16. Horizon
                                                                                                  1. The first footprint on an alien world, 2. Colonists looking up at the ship that dropped them here, knowing that they won’t see another in their lifetime, 3. A fabricated shelter, barely standing up a glass-storm, 4. An alien sliced open on a dissection table, organs shimmering in an unfamiliar atmosphere, 5. A lab, scientists working hard to bring the future to us before it’s ready, 6. A probe slowly returning to earth after centuries away, weighed down with knowledge, 7. A caravan struggles onward through thick, sucking ooze, 8. A body, shuddering as an experimental treatment takes hold, 9. Augmented eyes showing you colors you never dreamed of, 10. A cutting edge mech core, thrumming with power that threatens to destroy it

                                                                                                  17. Eldritch
                                                                                                  1. The creature’s heartbeat is really something inside it, slowly chipping away at its cell, 2. A non-euclidian city, stretching across countless worlds, doors spanning lightyears of distance, 3. A human head, flesh carved deep with runes; somehow, out of the corner of your eye, it resembles a flower, 4. A dog speaks in a human voice, urging you to give in, 5. A mother nurses a squirming, pale thing, and as you watch, its form twists, contorts, becomes more human, 6. Tall, gaunt creatures stand in the corner of every room you enter, heads staring at the ceiling, 7. The knife rips through the body but inside is nothing, just an empty space with a pale larvae, hovering, 8. A room filled packed floor to ceiling with comatose bodies, 9. Every volume in the entire library contains only the same word, repeated millions of times, 10. The moon's reflection, a gold coin on still, dark water; the reflection blinks

                                                                                                  18. Thunder
                                                                                                  1. The walls of the house shake and shudder, pictures fall from the walls, 2. A sound so deep it makes your bones hurt, 3. Clouds, heavy and grey as stone, 4. The fists of the mechs collide and the pilots bodies buzz with the impact, 5. A bomb explodes, throwing rubble into the atmosphere, 6. A military drill, the thud of boots rattling through the hearts of every onlooker, 7. A mech surges out of the ocean, water pouring from its shoulders, plumes of steam rising from its guns, 8. A fiery speech, the roar of the crowd, 9. A chaingun fired at full auto, 10. Lightning striking the peak of a mountain

                                                                                                  19. Neon
                                                                                                  1. The light swirls in your drink, glints off the rim of your glass, 2. The low, comforting sound of loud music played through walls, 3. A bottle thrown over the side of a luxury V-TOL, shattering on the ground, 4. A zero-g bar, cocktail bubbles drifting in slow orbit, 5. Knives flashing in time with the music, 6. Swallow a pill; nanobots synthesize chemicals inside you, adjusting to your mood and preferences, 7. Spilled drinks and blood mingling, 8. A grimy hotel room lit only by the hot gaze of the billboard outside, 9. A huge hologram stoops down, speaks to you, asks if you want a better life, 10. A kiss laced with mind-slave nanobots; they’re already entering your bloodstream

                                                                                                  20. Organic
                                                                                                  1. A flower pressing upwards through soft, wet earth, 2. A tiger dragging a man in its teeth, blood soaking the grass, 3. A tree large enough to house a city in its branches, 4. A moon covered in verdant life; veridian light washes over the planet each night, 5. A solar system connected by colossal flowering vines, planets bound to each other, 6. Moss growing within an ancient skeleton, reanimating it as a solemn guardian, 7. A seedpod bursts and a clone drips out, breathes air for the first time, 8. A tree shudders, trembles, bleeds as it is cut; cut deeper and find bone, 9. Put your ear to the earth and you’ll hear it breathing, 10. A soft, wallowing beast; its flesh twists and writhes, breaks free, begins to grow legs, a head.


                                                                                                  1. These tables and questions are so vivid and rich. I was just reading through them a bit, which is obviously not the ideal way to do it, but I can see how actually rolling it up can lead to some interesting and evocative scenarios. I'll need to play around with the tables and mix and match some of them haha, I'm a little more into the weirder themes, but these are all really good.

                                                                                                  2. Just stumbled across this, and wow. I will use these tables, I am positive.


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