Twenty Fantastic Features
by Mike Shea on 9 January 2017
Injecting the fantastic into our games can be rough work. Our minds fall to to the cliche, pulling up those goddamned Argonath statues from Lord of the Rings time and again.
Unlike a lot of parts of our RPGs, fantastic things are hard to just create right at the table. This is the reason Fantastic Locations exists. Awe inspiring things that capture the imagination usually don't just pop out of our heads on game-nights. They take time consider, create, and make original.
One thought exercise we might engage in is thinking up a number of fantastic features. These features are things our characters might discover throughout their journey. These features might be the centerpiece of a town. They might be something discovered deep in the swamps or high up on an abandoned goat path on a mountainside. Like secrets we might drop a few fantastic features into our notebook when we're thinking about our game and think we might need something to grab the imaginations of the players.
Here's one such example list of twenty fantastic features we can drop into our game:
- A large perfectly-uniformed black cube that, no matter what measurement scale used, always come out to "23".
- A series of glass archways that seem incredibly delicate yet cannot be broken.
- A meteorite thirty feet in diameter that floats one hundred feet off of the ground and quivers as though straining with great force to crash down to the earth.
- A tall abandoned iron tower with no doors and no windows. Moss covers the base of the tower that shows it to be thousands of years old.
- A sheer side of a mountain has been carved into an incredibly intricate battle axe that measures over a thousand feet high.
- A stone hand ending in sharp claws that appears to be piercing out of the ground, reaching for the sky.
- A black iron statue one hundred feet high shaped into a draconic humanoid sitting cross legged with a glaive across its lap.
- A series of ancient raised aqueducts that appears to have once served a large city but no such city can be found.
- A stone brazier fifty feet in diameter that burns with an eternal violet flame, day and night.
- An emerald geode floating over the ground with the shadow of a humanoid figure trapped within.
- A grusome totem carved out of a dead tree of a variety not seen within a thousand miles of this location.
- A giant draconic skull buried in the ground with a large glyph carved into its forehead.
- Three large rings floating about five feet off the ground that whirl around a twelve-sided symmetrical black stone.
- A crucified and half-decayed werewolf corpse with three silver swords piercing through its breastbone. Blood still drips from the corpse but the scaffold and blades look to be centuries old.
- A bridge carved from the horned spinal column of a great beast.
- The wreckage of a ship buried half in the stone of the ground though no water large enough to host such a ship exists for many miles.
- A stone mausoleum of countless ages bound in huge chains and depicting a twisted and screaming figure on its door.
- A working brass clockwork model of the sky powered by a nearby stream that depicts the position of the sun and moon but also containing models for another black moon that no one has ever seen or heard of before.
- A ring of statues depicting dancing faeries and satyrs. When one looks away from them, the statues seem to move to new positions and poses.
- A black orb floating above a silver pedestal that whirls continually but somehow cannot be moved.
Directly or Indirectly Involved
These fantastic features may have a part to play in the adventure or they might just be some piece of fantastic scenery. You might not even know how it will come into play until you drop it into the world and see what happens. Some of these might become seeds for adventure. Other times they're just weird shit the characters run into. Sometimes the characters might find something useful about them. Other times they might remain a mystery.
Need some help? Try Ancient Monuments
If you find yourself at the table and want to add some fantastic variety to a location, consider dropping in a randomly generated ancient monument. You might need a little bit of time to figure out just what the hell that monument is, but often it will come up with something that sparks the imagination.
Dripping Fantasy Into Our Games
One of the many responsibilities we GMs have is to take our players away. We have to break past their daily issues and bring them to a different world. This is a world of details, of drama, and of fantasy. The more we get into the practice of thinking up such fantastic features, the better able we'll be to bring our players to the worlds that surround them. What does your own list of twenty fantastic features look like?
If you enjoyed this article, take a look at Return of the Lazy Dungeon Master, Sly Flourish's Fantastic Adventures, and Sly Flourish's Fantastic Locations. You can also support this site by using these links to purchase the D&D Starter Set, Players Handbook, Monster Manual, or Dungeon Master's Guide.
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