Location and encounter design, Cairn adventure

The Circular Cavern

A forgotten ancient cavern, vast and cathedral-like. The stone walls are naturally-formed and drip with condensation. Every few moments, the ground shakes and thunder fills the air.

  • The cavern formed around a cluster of jagged stalagmites and is lit by torches on the outside walls.
  • Thunderous and cacophonous rhythm drowns out most sounds.
  • A massive stone lion patrols the stalagmites in the worn path.
  • The cavern continues north, sloping downward.
  • The remains of a collapsed tunnel are visible in the southeast corner.

Stone lion. A weathered construct patrols the cavern, moving in an anti-clockwise path. 20ft tall, covered in glowing green runes and exuding powerful magical energy. Sprawling clusters of mushrooms spread across the surface of its back and lichen grows on its belly. The sound of its movement on the ground reverberates in waves.

Worn path. Formed over centuries by the patrol route of the lion eroding the stone ground, continuing around the stalagmites in a circular pattern; 10ft wide and 4ft deep. Half a dozen smashed skeletons lay scattered around the path at different points, including a hulking ogre and several dwarven shapes in dented grey armour. These as the remains of duergar, grey dwarves.

Northern slope. The cave floor leads 20ft down to the next area.

Collapsed tunnel. The ceiling in the southeast corner has collapsed, covering the remains of an ancient tunnel. There are a handful of skeletons around and underneath the collapsed tunnel; one holds a leather satchel.


Stone lion. Patrols around the stalagmites. Follows a predictable route and attacks anything on sight. Centuries of hearing its own thunderous footsteps rendered the lion deaf.

Duergar skeletons. Approaching or interacting causes them to animate and attack. One additional skeleton is pinned under the collapsed ceiling and drags the upper half of its body forward to attack from the ground (impaired damage).


The skeletons’ remains reveal:

Battered grey dwarven plate. Dented and damaged by powerful blunt attacks. Smaller and lighter than standard plate (2 armour). If you suffer critical damage in this armour, there’s a 1 in 3 chance the armour breaks. Repairable at a master blacksmith for a significant fee, removing the critical damage risk.

Runecairn Bestiary

Monster design, Norse fantasy monster supplement

Mirth (Hamingja)

6 Res 10 Str 10 Dex 12 Wit 14 Spi 40ft sorrow gloom
  • Ethereal feminine spirit, once connected to humanity & influenced luck & happiness; the worlds breaking severed this connection & twisted their nature.
  • Often takes the form of a shimmering translucent animal such as an otter, rabbit, or fox; delights in inflicting torment on those favoured in fortune.
  • Immune to mundane attacks.
  • Sorrow: Sings to those dreaming in slumber, inflicting a great sorrow; sleeping target must make a Spi save or have Res reduced to 1 for the following day.
  • Gloom: Summons a dark cloud that follows above, casting a grey shadow; affected target’s Spi is reduced by half until the mirth chooses to lift the gloom or is slain.

Seer, swamp

12 Res 16 Str 12 Dex 16 Wit 14 Spi 50ft cursed talons (d10) whisper gaze
  • Appears as a delicate old woman with long silvery hair, bright eyes, & angelic face.
  • True form is too hideous for a mortal mind to perceive, constantly shifting, skin bulging, hair hissing around a grotesque form.
  • Dwells in lost & abandoned places, feeding on old magic from the broken world.
  • Immune to all seer spells, resistant to mundane damage.
  • Whisper: While disguised, the old woman whispers suggestions to travellers; Wit save or be compelled to follow the instruction.
  • Gaze: Those who meet the gaze fall into nothing; target must make a Spi save or die.
  • Dire strike (talons): Target is cursed & permanently loses 1 Vigour.

Whale, heather-backed (Lyngbakr)

20 Res 2 Def 18 Str 9 Dex 9 Wit 14 Spi 20ft bludgeon tail
  • Unique
  • Gargantuan whale covered in lush & beautiful algae in vivid colours of purples, reds, blues, & yellows, appearing like a great island covered in heather floating on the sea.
  • Navigates cold waters & lone inlets, home to a wild & thriving ecosystem.
  • Avoids any contact with the human world, preferring to drift alone in a tranquil sea, singing of times long lost.
  • Legendary: Critical damage saves made with advantage.
  • Bludgeon: Capable of destroying even the sturdiest ship that approaches; Wit save to steer ship away from destruction.
  • Tail: Pushes ships back while simultaneously propelling itself forward & out of range.

Runecairn: Wardensaga

Dialogue and narrative, Norse fantasy TTRPG system

Combat Example

Lind the skald enters a darkened ruin, overgrown and ancient. The corridor leads north and figures are heard shuffling.

Amy: I walk further down the corridor, steel sword in one hand and runic focus in the other.

Warden: Further down the ruin you see an armoured form wandering aimlessly. Its skin is decayed and drawn and it’s holding a rusted spear. It’s a draugr and it hasn’t spotted you yet.

Amy: I’m going to run up and cut it down with my sword!

Warden: OK, you rush forward and slash at the undead warrior. Roll your damage. Amy rolls a 5 on her d6.

Warden: The draugr has 1 defence from its armour so it takes 4 damage. The draugr turns and raises its spear to attack!

Amy: I gather my will and unleash the power of the gods through my voice! I shout NO! Choosing to use Lind’s shout skill as a reaction to avoid the attack, Amy rolls a d20 and attempts to roll under her Spi of 16. She gets 5, a success!

Warden: You emit a shockwave and knock the draugr off balance, deflecting the attack! Tick one fatigue for the shout.

Amy does and she now has 4 slots left.

Amy: This thing’s not so tough. I strike out with my sword!

Amy rolls a 4 on her d6 for the attack.

Warden: The draugr takes 3 damage – it’s not looking very good! It snarls and thrusts its spear.

Amy: I’ll take the hit since I’ve got decent defence.

The Warden rolls a 5 on their d6 for damage. They subtract Lind’s defence rating of 2 from the damage.

Warden: Oof! You take 3 points of damage.

Amy: Grr, that’s it. I clutch the runic focus tightly and weave a tale of Thor the thunderer. Lightning spear!

Amy rolls a d8 for damage for her spell and gets a 5. She marks another point of fatigue for the spell. Warden: Magic bypasses the draugr’s armour therefore it takes full damage. Because the attack reduces its Res below 0, it takes the remaining 4 damage to its Str. The draugr now needs to make a critical damage Str save or die!

The warden rolls 16 on a d20, failing to roll under the draugr’s new Str score of 7.

Warden: It crumples to the ground, a blackened husk from the lightning strike. You’ve defeated it!

Amy: Yes! Does the body have anything on it?

Warden: Before you can search, the spell you just cast draws the attention of another draugr. It shuffles out of the darkness, holding a rotted shortbow. Roll a Dex save to see if you can react quick enough to avoid it!

Amy rolls a 16 on her d20. Failure, since her Dex is 14!

Warden: You try to step back but aren’t quick enough and the arrow strikes you in the arm. The warden rolls a d6 for damage and gets 4. They subtract Lind’s defence.

Warden: You take 2 damage. A second draugr shambles out next to the first, spear in hand. What do you do?

Amy: They’re undead right? I throw my bottle of sacred waters at them!

Amy rolls a d10 twice for damage, one for each draugr, and gets 9 and 4. Amy updates her character sheet to remove the sacred waters from her inventory, freeing up a slot.

Warden: The bottle breaks on the first draugr’s armour and splashes over them both for magic blast damage. The first takes 9 points, bringing it under 0 and reducing its Str by 1.

The warden rolls a 1 on the draugr’s critical damage save.

Warden: A critical success! The first draugr is still up but at -1 Res. The second sizzles as it takes 4 points of damage. Both lurch forward, spears raised! Unless you avoid it, they’ll hit with damage advantage since its two on one.

Amy: I grip the runic focus and scream a curse from the gods, using my shout to deflect the attacks. Amy makes a Spirit save by rolling a d20. A failure at 18! She ticks another fatigue.

Warden: You struggle to remember the tale and the shout fails to deflect the attack. The warden rolls a d6 twice for the spear attacks and gets 6 and 6.

Warden: Bad luck, a dire strike! One of the spears strikes your abdomen and the other pins you to the ground. You can’t move for one turn.

They subtract Lind’s defence.

Warden: You take 10 damage.

Amy: I’m at -8!

Warden: You lose 8 points of Strength. Make a critical damage save to see if you stay on your feet!

Amy rolls a d20, hoping to beat her newly reduced Str score of 1. Natural 20! A critical failure!

Warden: You died! The draugr watches your lifeless body collapse to the ground and it slowly lurches

away. The world fades to black…

…You awaken at a roaring bonfire. Your wounds are healed but you lose 1 point of Vigour.

Amy marks her sheet, cursing her bad luck. She has 3 Vigour left. Her total Resilience is now reduced to 6.

Amy: This means the draugr I killed are back alive – er, on their feet again, doesn’t it?

Warden: That’s right. But at least now you have a better idea what to expect.

Amy furrows her brow and grips her pencil tighter.

Amy: Let’s do this!

We Deal in Lead

Rules and mechanics, Weird west TTRPG system


Attacking & Damage

  • Gun attacks bypass Defence, directly reducing Grit.
  • Mundane attacks lower Grit, reduced by DEF.
  • Unarmed always does d4 damage.

Attack Modifiers

Multiple attackers. Attackers targeting the same foe all roll damage dice, keeping the single best result.

Dual and 2-handed weapons. Attacking with two weapons or wielding a weapon two-handed grants damage advantage.

Diminished attacks. Attacks from a weak position (ie. through fog or while bound) are diminished (d4 damage).

Enhanced attacks. Attacks from an advantageous position (ie. against a helpless foe or via daring manoeuvre) are enhanced (d12 damage).


  • Affects all targets in the noted area, rolling separately for each.
  • Covers explosions to cleaving onslaughts to a meteorite impact.
  • If unsure how many affected targets, roll the related damage die for a result.

Dire Strike

Some weapons or enemies have special abilities that trigger when rolling max damage (ie. 10 on a d10 or 12 on 2d6). The Warden can also decide the effect of a dire strike.


In a fight or when timing is helpful, rounds (~10 seconds in-game) track when something occurs and are comprised of turns.


  • On their turn, characters can move within short range and act once (attack, move again, or other reasonable action).
  • Declare actions before rolling dice. For risky actions, roll a save.
  • All actions, attacks, and movements occur simultaneously.
  • The Warden telegraphs NPC actions.
  • Gunslingers act before opponents unless surprised, where they act first with a successful DEX save.
  • If facing off against another Gunslinger, see Duels (pg. 31).

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