AI-generated Thin Desert Travellers

So again Red Berries for the Red Planet wrote an excellent post with a short NPC Travellers table. Again, I fed his post to Talk to Transformer, and it seems it actually likes his posts: I've tried to do the same with other tables and blogposts, but results are nowhere near as usable or interesting.

Use for giving local colour to setting, as plot hooks, hirelings/retainers/henchmen, replacement PCs...


  1. Jobless navvy. Great as a passive lifter, terrible as a direct lifter. Can’t find a job anywhere. 
  2. Deserter guardswoman sent to investigate the ossuary. Just some bones, they said.
  3. Centaur, native of River Lucerne. Usually wanders alone, blowing her horn, hopelessly calling her once herd.
  4. Iron-willed savage tribesman, seeking some sort of proof of his mastery over the glowing iron.
  5. Undead rider of the Lords of Zin. Masterminded an attack on the city of Tal Tal; denied his arrears and loot.
  6. Flame-flier, separated from the rest of his wing, in full battle apparel: flaming backpack (single use), goggles, winged brass helmet, and taloned gauntlets and boots. Trademark weapons always on the ready: dirk, petrol bomb, and unreliable sidearm. A bit touched in the head.


  1. Young magic tutor. Wins bizarrely passionate arguments about non-existent objects.
  2. Low-ranking Wizard-Official. On the run for sabotaging census to better distribute tax burden.
  3. Hisself, ex-philosopher, living in gloomy poverty. Never learned to have friends.
  4. Retired Archmage of Aqueducts. Always weary. In need of fresh, unthinned air.



  1. Gifted inventor. Expanded an endocrine gland in her own body, now exploring new avenues of genetic modification.
  2. Tongue-clipping barber-surgeon. Desperate for money, doing a poor job of it. Not that the clients have complained.  
  3. Amateur architect, assisted by clocksmith. Laboring to restore the Silver Tower of the House of Anteros. 
  4. Halfling herder. Longs to become a shaman, but longs to remain a herder even more. Sheep almost bigger than him.
  5. Doomed circus performer. Desiccated by necromantic mummification process, given the duty of clearing the city of the dead. 
  6. Nomadic beggar, looking for a new life in the hidden city of Niph-Below-The-Sand. 



  1. Giant leech rancher. Grazes his cattle on the Riviera de Tapal. Fleeces the villagers on a regular basis.
  2. Noble elf scion in service to the Temple of Sinuhe. Thrived on solitude in her youth, now hates her unrequited love for her young protégé. 
  3. Monstrous dogs, expertly trained to fight under each others’ lead. Hungry for blood and plain hungry.
  4. Refugees from Sunnadara, ravaged by Tongue Rot. Decaying, rotten away or chopped off in time, barely any of them can speak anymore beyond frustrated humming. Hopelessly carrying late-stage infected.


Guns for the Martians: Air Rifle

As endless strife turned to lasting peace, the Empire set out to outfit the armies with new weapons. The more civilized age demanded an elegant weapon, safer for the soldier and which could make him more independent of supply chains. The actual origins of the air rifle's design are lost to time: some claim an epiphany from the Wind Genies, others, that they were forged after the evil Old Martians' bee rifles.

That peaceful age fell woefully short of expectations, however. After hurriedly reverting to the older fashion and especially after the Fall, these guns were appreciated by peasants and petty nobility for small-game hunting, as their shots wouldn’t make the whole game population run or fly away. Abandonment, poor maintenance and lost knowledge on how to operate them made many of these weapons fade away with their last owners.


What's this? (TLDR) A moderately-damaging gun with a usage die mechanic that doesn't however expend precious resources (ammunition). In other words, a +1 bow that runs out of juice after a while.

Girardoni air rifle. See it in action here

A conventional air rifle can take a single shot each round. As a gun, it gets +1 both to hit and damage for every shot each round including the first (as per GLOG gun rules), which in this case just translates to shooting always with that +1 bonus.

It takes up 2 inventory slots, plus 1 extra slot for the weapon’s tool pouch (cleaning stick, hand pump, bullet mold and spare ammo balls). It shoots minute metal balls, trivially made from scrap metal with a mold and a fire. As such, ammo isn't tracked as long as the weapon’s pouch is carried (always assumed to have enough balls, just like arrows in a quiver). Likewise, the rifle's ammo tube holds enough balls so as to effectively ignore reloading, tracking instead the air pressure in the reservoir.

Kunitomo air gun

Note the animal-like (fox?) hammer

An air rifle's damage die acts as an usage die, representing the diminishing air pressure in the reservoir, as follows:

d6 > d4 > d2 > empty

When a 1 is rolled as damage, the die steps down a size. On stepping down from d2, the pressure becomes too low to inflict any significant damage and the weapon must be hand-pumped again. The process is long and laborious, taking up an exploration turn for each step.

Such a weapon has multiple advantages over ordinary firearms, namely being much quieter (while not totally silent, stealthy enough that the shooter’s position remains concealed and doesn’t trigger an automatic encounter check when firing) as well as firing without smoke nor muzzle flash.

Along with an air rifle, an Imperial foot soldier would be equipped with this mass-produced armor:

Korean fabric armour (Source).
As Middenmurk pointed out, looks like a potato sack

These single-shot rifles were, however, for rank-and-file conscripts. More advanced air rifles with a hammerless mechanism were devised, allowing for up to three shots per round at the cost of expanding the step-down range on the damage die for each additional shot (so, for example, taking two shots for a +2 to hit and damage at the cost of stepping down the damage die if 1-2 are rolled) and taking up an extra inventory slot. The few surviving ones are now true relics.  


Reskinning this for your own game: a rules-light version of the air rifle could be using it simply as a reskin for the regular/light (whatever you call "non-heavy" if there is such a divide in your game) crossbow: d6 damage, shoots once per round at +1 to hit and damage. 

Similarly, for more science-fiction-oriented games, the air rifle could be styled/renamed as a wind-up gun, a crank laser musket, or whatever.

Air gun with hand pump. Source


Martian tribal treasure tables

League of the Extraordinary Gentlemen, Vol. 2, Issue One

Here is the blog Red Berries for the Red Planet, which I feel is much more unknown than it has any right to and many more people should keep an eye on. All posts combine succinct setting evocation and down-to-table playable mechanics with the setting's own twist. Additionally, most posts are edited a second time, expanded and published as pay-what-you-want printable zines, giving them a really solid, rounded-out feel.

Anyway, I fed some of his tables to the paid version of Talk to Transformer (using successive 20,000-character free trials) and selected and (minimally) edited the results while on public transportation or half-watching TV (notably, all proper nouns except the witch's ring, the bardiche and the last spell were given by the transformer). Here they are:

I Loot the Body, But Find No Coin

Alternatively, What is this nomad's treasured keepsake?, or What can I barter with this nomad for?

  1. Soiled kimono with a locket bearing an ivory engraving of a woman
  2. Ornamental fan calligraphed with the words "May money always find you" 
  3. Leopard hide as cloak
  4. Purse of silver coins from a Free Barrow, bearing the profile of a skeleton head in a half-helm.
  5. 1d4 gold coins bearing a depiction of a grinning brain
  6. Grotesquely erect clay penis: wand of Sublimation of the Incubus Wine.
  7. Gilded skinning knife
  8. Solid brass kitchen cleaver with carving talon
  9. Two longswords from Agramat, in rather poor condition
  10. Old Witch's Ring: engraved minutely with indecipherable script, but seemingly useless. Allows the wearer to comprehend and pronounce the modulation of silences that is witch-speech, whose tongues have withered away.
  11. Grooved wax cylinder. When played in a cylinder phonograph, the spoken dream diary of a servant reveals in a calm voice the existence, beneath the family mausoleum of a provincial scholar-officer, of another, secret crypt, as well as the means to unlock it.
  12. Pole of bright copper, on which an impish creature is engraved on one end and an pious, honest man on the other.
  13. Elderberry bonsai

The tribal leader carries...

Equipment, treasure, keepsake or source of authority (real or ritual):

  1. Dowsing rods and full waterskin, a rare find in the Great Vacuum
  2. Dreadstone Staff: A simple six-foot +1 staff of obsidian. 
  3. Halfling athame with sapphire pommel 
  4. Fine ebony whip, made out of a black snake and lined with barbed steel wire
  5. Hide armour of flayed giant skin
  6. Gilded morion with face plate, bearing the small tusks of a demon
  7. 2d4 Masterwork firecrackers, capable of making anything combustible (as flask of burning oil; fires created as Faerie Fire)
  8. Canoptic urn filled with ravenous blackflies. Once per week use of Insect Swarm if attuned to the user (ritual requiring a charisma save and offering of 1d6 hit points of own flesh) or after successful psychic domination. Single use otherwise, after which they disperse.
  9. Elven silver priest charm engraved with the neume of the Threnody of Thoth: while it can be learned by priests, with this charm the hymn can be sung even by non-priests. When worn, acts as a passive Comprehend Languages spell, limited to the written word in the languages of man. Will contribute to the wearer's good karma if he or she gives it to a dying person (automatically pass next Death save, one use only). 
  10. Royal ring: +3 charisma while the wearer (and the player) speaks like Elven nobility. However, not everyone might understand the nuances of such speech, nor might take to it kindly. 
  11. Jeweler's set, including scale, eyepiece, and case of knives, stolen from the Red Wizards of Thay
  12. Notes on various magical wells that none have ever been able to find
  13. Operation manuals for assorted steam construction machinery and a fat roll of reports, blueprints and diagrams on what to do with what once was Agramat City

The tribe's idol/sacred treasure is...

  1. Two jaguar dogs, petrified 
  2. A fruitful sapling. When grown into a tree, produces every fruit imaginable, from blueberries to durians. 
  3. Ten rusted barrels of ­permafrozen pelmeni, one scratched with claims that they taste best when fried twice in sunflower seed oil.
  4. The Bardiche of Binding: under the gleam of its indigo alloy blade engraved in silver Kufic script rallied all the Great Vacuum tribes long ago. Actually resembles more closely a fauchard. 
  5. Scale mail shirt from the Lagashian wars. Hidden on the inside are floorboard plans for the Chaos airship Rubeus, annotated with "Obliviate the dragon?"
  6. Mummified simulacrum of the dead lover of an Imperial prince
  7. Enchanted Backgammon set that can be played by oneself. Apparently, the unseen player’s skill level swings wildly. Its true purpose is as a divinatory tool, given one knows how to play/speak the board’s code and read the auspices.
  8. Bronze idol of a star-faced mole: beckons forth 1d6 star-faced moles (as goblin) from their burrows. 
  9. Man-sized polypoid mummies in elaborate coffins, gilded in gold.
  10. Ancient star chart in lapis papyrus.
  11. A feather of the Nightingale. Radiates light as bright as a torch, with all the properties of natural sunlight. Give it back at the sound of her dodecafonic birdsong, lest it turn into ripping metallic shrill.
  12. Unbound manuscript folios written in silver on jade-green parchment. Mages can learn from it the summoning incantation Sparafucile's Skillful Stabbing.
  13. A pair of iridescent dragon scale mail hunting hound jackets


Sublimation of the Incubus Wine: Turns any untainted liquid into Incubus Wine. The drinker adds 10’ to their Movement score and can travel a single further hex per day thanks to enhanced endurance, at the cost of irritating priapism (-1 to reaction rolls). Lasts for d4 days. No adverse effects on women or eunuchs. 

non-mages: -1d4 Wisdom OR 1-in-6 chance for each use that an hostile Incubus is summoned. 

Threnody of Thoth
: As GLOG spell Raise Spirit.

non-priests: -1d4 Wisdom or Charisma each cast OR become absolutely mute as your tongue rots away and falls. Cast only with a single, automatically expended MD.

Sparafucile's Skillful Stabbing: (As Invisible Stalker but): the target must be reasonably argued to be a grave threat to Imperial order, whatever remains of it now. The soul of God-Queen Aelita's silent assassin was trapped in the Astral Realm through an arcane ritual, so that he could forever serve Her.
non-mages: -1d6 maximum HP OR pass a save under the presence of those threatening the Imperial order or fly into a murderous rage.

Hobo Nickel, Gediminas Palsis

Old Witch's Ring
Suzhou Star Chart

Full two-page spread


Harry Clarke Bestiary - The Monstruous Vermin

The Monstruous Vermin

Armour Class: as plate
Hit Dice: 3
Move: as dwarf
Attacks: oversized rapier (1d8), crush (1d12), dung ball (special)
No. Appearing: 1
Save as: dwarf 3
Morale: 4
Treasure: assorted keepsakes
Alignment: Neutral

Why did it find itself transformed into a monstruous vermin?
  1. Punishment for unnameable sins.
  2. Debauched and debased itself to what it is now.
  3. Slowly changed into what it was treated as.
  4. Troubled dreams spilled over into the waking world.
  5. The cold, uncaring and meaningless hands of fate.
  6. An unknowable mystery, forever lost.

In this sorry state, it is nevertheless forced to provide for its former family. To this end, it has taken up adventuring. However, it never was particularly resolute, and will hopelessly carouse everything away.

It is as much a captive of its helpless kin as of its own ravenous hunger, aggravated by a distaste for all fresh food. It can only bring itself to eat moldy bread, rotten vegetables, carrion, and other tainted food.

It finds vile pleasure in scurrying on the floor silently and hanging from the ceiling, faintly swinging while waiting to fall on its armoured back over prey (1d12 damage).

The Monstruous Vermin always rolls in front of it a ball of pressed dung, soil and assorted trash as big as it is, which it uses to spring traps, clear shallow pits, as sustenance source, and to safekeep mementos. Additionally, when on top of a slope or cliff, it will throw the ball down to crush any unfortunates below (damage as if the victim fell from that height, halved on a successful save). 
It will diligently roll the ball up any slope. Are we, then, to imagine him happy?

What can be found inside the dung ball?
  1. 1d6 gold buttons (1 gp each).
  2. A collection of textile samples.
  3. An bone-rattlingly loud alarm clock.
  4. An officer's sword.
  5. A letter to a father.
  6. A suitcase of textile samples.

  7. Released for the Harry Clarke Bestiary under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.