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Signs & Portents

Your PCs have begun their march down the King's Road.  They're headed for certain doom and they are well-aware that not all of them will return.  Why not dial up the tension a bit with the addition of a dread omen or two?

Below are a few tables to escalate the horror in your setting.  Most entries are ominous symbols of happenstance, but some could develop into small adventures.  Two tables are provided: one for towns and the other for wilderness, along with a sub-table for little surprises along the way.

Town or Settlement - roll 1d24
  1. Children avoid eye contact as the PCs pass.  A small girl shrieks and runs from them.
  2. One of the PCs awakens to find that a creature has been through her pack and has filched a prized possession.  The mysterious thief has left behind a small bit of flayed skin as payment.
  3. A seafaring old man hails the PCs from across the town square, but is abruptly struck down by an unseen assailant.  The only trace left by the killer is a sharpened bird feather lodged in the victim's neck.
  4. As the PCs begin talking with a stranger in the local tavern, their ale seems to turns sour.
  5. A cloaked figure with pupil-less eyes watches from a second floor window, then fades in to a black mist.
  6. As the PCs dine, a red finch flies directly at one of them, striking the nearby window pane and dies from the impact.
  7. A previously unseen cat rubs up against one of the PCs, purring and mewling. Then, abruptly as it appeared, it violently attacks the PCs legs.  
  8. One of the PCs is beset by magpies who peck at her relentlessly.
  9. One of the PCs wakes from a restless sleep surrounded by the decapitated bodies of his comrades - then he wakes again.
  10. The PCs come across the rotting corpse of a dead animal (roll on the Carcass sub-table below).
  11. A deranged figure peers into a window at the PCs, spits at them, and then vanishes.
  12. A blind boy reaches out to one of the PCs, begs her to reconsider her current plans, then is suddenly unable to remember how he got there.
  13. A vagrant covered in a blankets shouts unintelligible curses at the PCs, then falls to the ground and vanishes, leaving only a rumpled pile of dingy cloth.
  14. An elderly, mute fishmonger approaches the PCs with a tray full of black eels.  His young apprentice relays that the old man is insistent that they must eat one raw eel each day for the next three days, or there will be dire consequences.
  15. A three-legged dog with a collar of rope relentlessly follows the PCs from a distance.
  16. A series of characters seem to be following the PCs at different times.  All have very different ages, but each appears to have variations of the same face.
  17. During their stay at the inn, the PCs receive a missive from an unknown party consisting of a blood-stained scrap of parchment signed with a large letter "M".
  18. In the middle of the night, a distant moaning is heard, followed by the sound of dragging chains.
  19. As the PCs pass a white horse, it rears and breaks free from its bonds, galloping into the river and drowning itself.
  20. A group of young toughs eye the passing PCs and begins to stalk them.  Before a confrontation develops, the youths stop abruptly, looking about with fear-stricken eyes, then sheath their weapons and run in terror.
  21. A one-eyed crone scrutinizes the PCs and begins to cackle uproariously, then abruptly falls into a drunken slumber.
  22. When the PCs return to their rooms at the inn, their doors have been decorated with a bloody pictograph of a flaming eye.
  23. After a night's rest, the PCs exit their rooms at the inn to find muddy tracks which lead up to their door and then disappear out through the kitchen and into the sewer.
  24. A local farmhouse is known to be abandoned.  As the PCs approach, a pair of filthy hounds block the entrance, growling and foaming at the mouth.

Wilderness - roll 1d24
  1. A raven seems to follow overhead.  As the PCs advance toward their destination, more join the group until a multitude darkens the sky.
  2. A distant flash of lightning leaves a brief afterimage of a colossal figure on the horizon.
  3. Abruptly, a cold wind blows despite the sweltering heat of the day.
  4. The group comes upon a nest of field mice who are unable to walk properly.  They struggle to stay upright, twisting their heads almost to the point of breaking - it's as if they are convinced that the world is upside-down.
  5. A distant voice cries out in agony.  Another sinister voice cries out in a mocking imitation.
  6. A dead sparrow falls from the sky, landing at the feet of one of the PCs.  In its death throes, it pathetically pecks at the PCs boots until its last breath.
  7. The PCs come across the rotting corpse of a dead animal (roll on the Carcass sub-table below).
  8. A blind dog blunders out of the trees, seems to look one of the PCs directly in the eyes, then trots off.
  9. A distant tree suddenly loses all of its leaves, turns black, and then falls to the ground.
  10. The sky hangs heavy with an impending storm, thunderheads loom in whatever direction the PCs are traveling.
  11. The PCs pass near a dry river bed containing hundred of rocks in small stacks.  As they examine the vertical compositions, a foul smell develops on the wind.
  12. The PCs come upon a camp sight with a recently-doused fire.  The ground is covered with bones and hair.
  13. A murder of crows alights from a distant tree.  Slowly they wheel in the sky as a group and fly directly at the PCs.
  14. There is a low, building rumble of thunder which finally gives way to a downpour as the PCs arrive at their destination.
  15. In the center of the path ahead is a tall pointed rock.  A nook has been carved into it which contains a totem made of mud and sticks.
  16. A PC finds one of his possession along the trail that he did not know was lost.  Are they going in circles?
  17. The path ahead is stained with blood and ichor.  A putrid trail of gore indicates that a body was dragged into the distant trees.
  18. A distant tree blows almost to the point of breaking, yet the air is still.
  19. A mangy dog appears and begins barking at one of the PCs.  Using its snout, it struggles to push her back where she came from.
  20. A pentacle has been scratched into the path ahead.  At each point of the star is a polished white stone etched with a pictograph of a mountain.
  21. Upon awakening, the ground in and around the PC's campsite is covered in beast tracks, despite the diligence of their night watch.
  22. The section of trail ahead is demarcated by a short fence of human femurs, each topped with a goat skull.
  23. The trail crosses a river bed strewn with dead fish.  The drone of flies drowns out all other sounds.
  24.  The silhouette of a wolf appears on a distant hill and begins following the PCs.

Carcass sub-table - roll 1d10

  1. A one-legged raven.
  2. Six white rats with black eyes.
  3. A stillborn baby bird.
  4. A pig with a severed tongue.
  5. An emaciated horse.
  6. A rabbit whose innards have been removed and strewn about.
  7. A headless chicken.
  8. The head of a goat.
  9. An exsanguinated lamb.
  10. A mouse which seems to have been turned inside out.


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