Others still travel to Gnomon seeking wisdom, for the city is not only home to a thousand shaded markets, but also to a thousand philosopher’s guilds and esoteric colleges. The study of the lost wisdom of the ancients is feverishly pursued. Tech-priests, petty gurus, science mystics, and alchemists compete for patrons, prestige, and precious glimpses of the knowledge that was lost during the Great Collapse.

Works continues on the second issue of Vaults of Vaarn. I wanted to share a little bit of what I’ve been writing this month, namely a set of tables that allow the referee to generate a Philosopher’s Guild, an organisation of somewhat-rational wisdom seekers. The idea for these groups is that they’re what the super advanced scientific movements of the Age of Titans have shrunken and degenerated into, post-Great Collapse.

All tables are d20.

As is customary for these posts, I’ll use the tables to generate my own results.

Rolling the d20s, I get as a name for the Guild: Cordial Institute of Remorseless Discovery.

For some details: the Guild studies cloning, only men are allowed to join, and they want to discredit a rival Guild.

For drama I get: a stupid, wealthy student has been robbed by a former student, who broke the guild’s code. On a second roll, I get: a visiting translator has been accused of breaking the guild’s code, by a former student, who broke the guild’s code.

There’s definitely some stuff to work with here. It seems like it must the same individual, the former student, involved in both these dramas. As the rules state you can’t join unless you’re a man, I assume this renegade ex-student is female, and pretended to be male to be initiated into the Cordial Institute. I wonder if the visiting translator was attempting the same trick, and got called out by someone who recognised her deceit, since she was practising it herself? But what would be the motive here? In any case, it clearly backfired. I assume the former student stole from the rich student to finance her escape. The Cordial Institute of Remorseless Discovery would likely be interested in locating this ex-student; already an adventure brewing here.

The fact that they’re all men and devote their time to mastering cloning is interesting. I wonder if there’s some serious elements of misogyny here, and the Cordial Institute is attempting to supplant the maternal function of womankind? A kind of replacement for the womb? Would be interesting if several members of the guild are imperfect clones of a dead founder. I’m curious as well about the rival guild that they want to discredit. Is this rival guild responsible for the infiltration by a woman? I’m inclined to think they are, although the Cordial Institute have no proof as yet…


    1. Thanks! There will be more lore details but I want it to be a world that’s revealed in glimpses, rather than explicated at great length. I’m really put off by TTRPG settings that have too much information to absorb; I love it in novels but I think Vaarn needs to be a setting people are comfortable making their own. So the focus is on mood and a world that’s implied through details.

      You will get an overview of Gnomon, how the city works politically, details on seven major factions and their associated NPCs, and about 9-10 of these generators to create trade cartels, philosopher’s guilds, noble houses etc. It’s definitely more location focused than the first issue, which was about character creation and setting tone for the GM.


      1. Sounds fantastic. Yeah having too much information is certainly off-putting, no way can I remember all that setting information when actually playing a game. Generators are a wonderful tool though.

        Also you should certainly read past the first Dune. I’ve only read the 1st and 2nd, but the 2nd is very good and much shorter than the first so it’s not much of a commitment.


      2. It’s a fine balance I think. Too much and you drown people in details and restrain them, too little and there’s no setting at all just a blank void. But yeah Gnomon has its own character which I hope to get across, it’s a lawless, decadent merchant city.

        I adore Dune but I heard really mixed stuff about the sequels so I’ve never delved into them. It feels like I probably should though if I’m working on this material.

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I have also heard that his son did not exactly do the series any favours. You have inspired me to try Dune Messiah though. Will be interesting to see what it’s like.

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s