Thursday 23 July 2015

The Cobweb Continued: Random Tower Generation Table

A random tower in the Cobweb will be 1d20+8 floors high, and will be connected by bridges, walkways, rope pulleys, and message wires to 1d4+1 other nearby towers. The family that lives in it will have 3d6 members, attended by 1d8x10 servants, guards, live-in lovers, and assorted hangers-on. To quickly determine what sort of family owns any given tower, roll 2d10 on the table below.

(NB: Because the 2d10 roll produces a bell-curve of possibilities, the most common options are placed in the middle of the list rather than at the extremes.)

Random Cobweb Tower Table

2: Abandoned. Roll 1d4 to find out why: 1 = structurally unsound, 2 = cursed, 3= haunted, 4 = tied up in a complex legal battle. In the meantime it's been taken over by nests of vagrants, animals, criminals, and possibly even escaped monsters. Tread carefully.

3: Puppets. This appears to be a regular noble family, but real power in the household lies with an ambitious servant who has accumulated so much influence over the family (and so much dirt on them) that they now run the whole place, using the wealth and power of their employers as they see fit. The family resent them bitterly, and would dearly love to be rid of their 'servant' if a safe way could be found to dispose of them. The servant knows that they are playing a very dangerous game, and is quite willing to kill to protect their own position.

4: Paranoids. The inhabitants of this tower have become convinced that all the other families are plotting against them. They never go out, sabotage all the walkways leading to their tower, and have filled their home with traps and guards and very large, very vicious dogs. 1d100% of their paranoid suspicions are actually completely true.

5: Cultists. This family are all members of some kind of creepy cult; maybe they worship the Wicked King, maybe something even stranger and scarier. Large areas of their tower are closed off to non-initiates, and the family disappear into them for several hours a day to perform strange rituals and other unsavoury activities. If you can convince them that you're a true believer then they might be a valuable source of occult knowledge - but, then again, they might just be crazy.

6: Social climbers. This family are convinced that they are destined for greatness, and spend all their time plotting how to increase their wealth, power, and influence. They have links with many other important families, and with the ministries in the King's Tower. They are totally unscrupulous in their methods, and are loyal to no-one but each other. They will happily betray their city to outsiders if they think that they, personally, might benefit from the fall-out.

7: Rakehells. The wealth of this family has fallen into the hands of its irresponsible younger members, who now spend all their time drinking, fucking, and taking drugs. They consider themselves totally above the law (which they are), and will horribly mistreat ordinary people unfortunate enough to cross their paths. Despite their recklessness they have no intention of doing anything to endanger their good fortune, and are not nearly as stupid as they seem.

8: Socialites. This family are social butterflies, constantly fluttering from one engagement to another. They're only home if they're hosting a party; otherwise they will inevitably be out, drinking or dancing or banqueting at some other tower. They're very well-connected, and a fantastic source of malicious gossip. Always looking for interesting new friends. Tend to push boring people out of windows.

9: Criminal merchant family. Obtained their wealth by methods that will not bear even the slightest examination. They put on an unconvincing charade of being upstanding citizens, but basically they behave like gangsters (which they are). Extremely rich, but ignorant and vulgar, favouring huge, ugly items of jewellery covered in diamonds and gold. Completely ruthless in the defence of their interests.

10: Merchant family. Enormously wealthy. Fantastically exploitative. Money is their only claim to status, so they spend it like water: they all wear the most expensive clothes, the most lavish jewellery, and the most fabulously impractical shoes. Secretly nurse a massive inferiority complex towards the nobility, and long to acquire a noble title of their own through grant or marriage.

11: Minor nobility. Desperately status-conscious; arrogant and overbearing to their inferiors, grovelly and obsequious to their superiors. Sticklers for ceremony. Constantly on the look-out for advantageous marriages. Secretly hate everyone who outranks them.

12: Impoverished nobility. Clinging frantically to their status symbols even as they slide deeper into debt in an unsustainable attempt to support a now totally inappropriate high-class lifestyle. All the best clothes and food are saved for visits, in order to keep up appearances; at home they live in filth and rags. Willing to grasp at any opportunity to repair their waning fortunes.

13: Military family. Wear elaborate dress uniforms, and insist on tight discipline from their guards and servants. Carry ceremonial swords and know how to use them. Their besetting vices are drink, gambling, and casual gratuitous violence, but anyone who proves that they can take a punch, hold their drink, and tell a decent war story may be able to earn their respect.

14: Clerical family. They derive their wealth and status from the church, but they're cynics and hypocrites, viewing their clerical 'vocations' as nothing but a convenient source of money and power. Capable of putting on a decent show of piety when it suits their purposes. Language is their weapon and they use it like true virtuosi, tying their opponents in logical and rhetorical knots. Everyone else regards them as devious, conniving little shits, but is forced to put up with them for form's sake.

15: High nobility. Believe themselves to be naturally superior to pretty much everyone. Totally infuriating to deal with. So important that they can afford to ignore the rules of normal etiquette, much to the frustration of the minor nobility. Every room is stuffed with priceless heirlooms. Go everywhere surrounded by swarms of servants and hangers-on.

16: Decadents. This is what the rakehells might become if they survive to middle age. Bored by mundane indulgences, this family spends its time and money on the most rare and unusual pleasures: exotic drugs, fine wines, gourmet food, and weird sex. They will pay handsomely for new experiences with which to excite their jaded appetites.

17: Collectors. This family devotes its wealth and power to the collection of rare, valuable, and beautiful things: rare books, works of art, antiques, exotic slaves and animals, and so on. Whole floors of the tower itself are devoted to showing off their possessions, museum-style. This is mostly for show, but some of them are quite obsessive about it, and will offer bribes or favours to anyone who can help to plug particularly hard-to-fill gaps in their collections. 

18: Blackmailers. This family are hoarders of incriminating information on other households. They know who's sleeping with who, who's secretly selling off the family jewellery, and where the bodies are buried, and they use this knowledge to gain leverage over other families. Everyone else would love for them to have a series of unfortunate accidents, but they don't dare move against them for fear of their darkest secrets being made public. They will pay high prices for especially juicy secrets.

19: Occultists. This family is devoted to the pursuit of arcane knowledge: magic, alchemy, spirit communication, and so on. The tower is full of libraries, laboratories, and ritual chambers, and strange-coloured lights shine out of its highest windows at night. The doors to some of the rooms are nailed shut. All this magical study has left the family themselves a bit out of touch with reality, and they are regarded as being decidedly odd by their neighbours. They may or may not possess incredible magical powers.

20: Crazies. Too many generations of inbreeding have wrecked this family; its members suffer from a spectacular range of hereditary insanities, and are frequently deformed as well. Their servants are just as inbred as they are, and serve them with a feverish devotion that is not always matched by their actual competence. Each member of the family has turned their own section of the tower into a reflection of their own lunatic obsessions, whatever those happen to be. They're real old nobility, though, so people have to keep inviting them to parties, no matter how bizarre their behaviour is and how uncomfortable they make everyone else.

I might do a 'random Cobweb walkway encounter table' at some point, too...

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