|The Rubble by night. Image by John Avon.|
Random Encounters: The Rubble
- This area is home to a nest of brightly-coloured snakes, all of which are poisonous. Horribly poisonous. FORT-save-or-die style poisonous. They're not big or aggressive, but they slither around through the rubble in places where you don't expect them and will bite anyone who looks like they might be about to step on them. Tread very carefully here.
- A group of 2d6 People of the Rubble, out patrolling their territory while scavenging for food and any other useful items they might find; they gather roots and berries, hunt and trap small animals, root through ruins that might still have usable metal tools in them, and cast their nets into ponds in the hope of bringing up edible fish (or edible frogs, or edible water-snakes - they're not picky). They carry bows and knives, and their blades and arrowheads are coated in lethal snake venom - make a FORT save or die screaming over the next 3d6 hours. (They carry an antidote, but only a skilled chemist or doctor would recognise it.) They're very suspicious of outsiders, but gifts of food and useful objects will do a great deal to help win their trust.
- This area is riddled with traps: concealed pits, deadfall traps, tripwires that drop people into snake pits or flooded basements, punji sticks in shallow leaf-filled trenches, and so on. PCs might assume that all these traps mean that there's something here the People of the Rubble really value, but in fact it's just the home of a rather crazy old trapmaker who builds them as a hobby. He's notionally a member of the nearest Rubble clan, but they only come to see him when they need his expertise, and the rest of the time he's happy to live alone. (The traps rather discourage casual visitors, in any case.) A lifetime of bad experiences have left him extremely suspicious of anyone who is not one of the People of the Rubble.
- The burned-out ruin of what was once an alchemist's lab, overgrown with thorny creepers. Something weird has seeped into the waters, here, turning the local vegetation mobile and predatory: now it preys upon anything that gets too close, entangling its victims in its tendrils before sucking the nutrients out of them. Observant PCs may notice a large number of skeletons from rats, snakes, dogs, and other animals who have run afoul of this killer foliage, with creepers wrapped around their limbs and necks and growing through their bones. Unobservant PCs may not realise anything is wrong until thorned tendrils start lashing out and wrapping themselves around people's necks.
- A young Blighted couple - a boy in his late teens and a girl in her early twenties - are living here amongst the rubble. Both tried, and failed, to undertake Mindblade training, and now they live out here to avoid endangering anyone else with their uncontrolled psychic powers. They are very strongly attached to one another, and spend a great deal of time and effort calming one another down to avoid dangerous psychic outbursts. The People of the Rubble regard them as unlucky, and avoid them whenever possible. They are perpetually on the brink of starvation, and their friendship can easily be bought with regular gifts of food. Stressing them out is probably a very bad idea.
- An area of flooded ruins, which are home to a truly enormous poisonous serpent, almost twenty feet in length. It spends most of its time basking in a sunken pool, emerging to eat the odd dog, rat, or cat. There is a 10% chance that it is hungry, in which case it will lash out at any nearby PCs, trying to bite, crush, or drown them before eating them; otherwise it will only attack if its pool is disturbed. The People of the Rubble are well-aware of this monster, and will try to lure people they don't like into disturbing it, usually with fatal results.
- 1d6 young People of the Rubble out on an initiation rite, led by a clan elder. The initiates have all been dosed up with snake venom and hallucinogenic mushrooms, and they're babbling and hallucinating wildly; the elder's job is to make sure that they complete their ritual tour of this area of the Rubble without too many broken limbs. PCs will be instantly worked into whatever tapestry of fantasy and delusion is currently working its way through their fevered minds, and may find themselves worshipped as spirits, attacked as demons, or anything in-between: make an unmodified reaction roll, but exaggerate the result to slightly surreal levels, and reroll every 1d10 minutes regardless of what is going on. The elder will try to keep things from getting too out of hand, however, as too much excitement tends to cause the initiates to drop dead of snake-venom poisoning.
- A huge clockwork beast, escaped from some Clanker arsenal or Steel Aspirant foundry-temple, which has smashed its way into the rubble and now lies quiescent. It may look inactive, but would-be scavengers are in for a nasty surprise; its mainspring still turns, albeit extremely slowly, letting its tremor-sensors continue to run even while all the rest of its systems remain at rest. If it detects motion nearby it will lash out violently - anything larger than a dog will set it off - and the local animals have learned to avoid it, as have the People of the Rubble. After 1d10 hours of activity (or the same number of months of inactive monitoring) its spring will be completely unwound and it will collapse to the ground, at least until someone winds it up again. It would be worth a small fortune if looted for spare parts, and a rather larger one if repaired and returned to fully operational status.
- A nest of brass-snout rats. The People of the Rubble hunt them for their meat and their metal jaws, which has made them very wary of humans. They have burrowed deeply into the rubble here, and their burrows (which are flooded in places) connect at multiple points to the Maze.
- A stretch of cleared land, on which the People of the Rubble grow crops: rice, vegetables, and lots and lots of huge, vividly-coloured, violently hallucinogenic mushrooms. The farmers who work these fields have a habit of snacking on these as they work to alleviate the boredom of agricultural labour, and live in a state of perpetually stoned low-level delirium. They still remember how to shoot just fine, though, and they carry the same bows and horribly-poisonous arrows as the rest of their clansmen.
- A waterhole, the home of a herd of feral swine which inhabit this area of the rubble, foraging for food amongst the ruins. The People of the Rubble prize them as a delicacy, and carefully manage their numbers, hunting them to provide hog roasts for their most important feasts. PCs who see them as an opportunity for an all-you-can-eat bacon buffet will incur the enmity of the nearby Rubble clans.
- A Rubble priestess on some kind of vision quest: she's wandering around in huge, looping circles, singing constantly, and smoking something foul-smelling and mind-altering in a battered wooden pipe. Live snakes slither all over her: if hassled she'll throw them at people, who will rapidly learn that they're intensely venomous and much less friendly towards people other than her. People willing to tolerate all the singing, smoking, hissing, and general weirdness will find that she's not bad company, however, and anyone who can actually help her in her search for enlightenment will receive a warm welcome from her clan when she finally returns to them.