- A single alder tree in a clearing, bubbling white mushrooms from its bark. If a pilgrim attempts to eat a mushroom, they must Overcome Frailty to spark up a psychedelic conversation with the lonely tree. The last human to talk with it left an offering of 35 ancient coins in a small sack under a rock. The tree has no use for these coins. If they fail to keep the mushrooms down, they Gain 1 Frailty as they violently retch up the mushroom. The tree, disgusted, refuses to speak with them.
- The thrum of nearby bees leads the pilgrims to a calm meadow of wildflowers. By the peaceful aura in the air, they can tell that no harm will come to them while they rest here.
- A holy mausoleum fallen into disrepair and neglect! The pilgrims can’t even make out the name: Saint something or other. Clearing the overgrowth and washing the stone takes one exploration shift, but one pilgrim finds a relic among the bramble: (The Silvertongue Necklace, +1 to persuasion).
- A branch-bound hermit counts leaves. They are not interested in other tasks or conversation. Remarkably well-outfitted.
- The undergrowth becomes thick and especially labyrinthine. The pilgrims may:
- Overcome Frailty to cut a path through the blocking roots. Regardless of success, this infuriates the tree spirits of the region, who will begin pilfering small items from the pilgrims’ packs.
- Overcome Clumsiness to clamber to a better vantage point, from which a clear path can be seen. A pilgrim suffers a painful medium-distance fall and Loses 1d6 Vim on a failure.
- Overcome Doubt three times to keep their bearings as they navigate the pathways. On any failures, they Gain 1 Doubt and become even more helplessly lost.
- 2d12 wild pigs, absolutely causing a ruckus. Just terrible for the soil in this delicate ecosystem.
- 1d12 poachers (reroll on 1 or 12), weighed down with furs and pelts—a fortune in illicit wares. They are hunting and hunted by a large pack of grey wolves, and at least half of the group wants to head back to South Kul.
- 1d12 wolves, or something moving between the trees? Overcome Doubt to be certain. They are disinterested in the pilgrims for now, as they are actively hunting poachers, taking vengeance for a fallen sister.
- The overgrown remains of a fishing lodge, destroyed by violence years ago. Spending an exploration shift here reveals a sturdy rowboat that survived both the destruction and the decay, large enough to comfortably seat 5. Two can easily row together; a pilgrim rowing alone is going to have a difficult time.
- A flock of human-sized birds flow through the trees, just above head-height, passing silently and numbering in the dozens. They skirt within inches of the pilgrims, who feel a breeze and the trace of feathers across their skin. The birds pass in a moment, finding a break in the canopy, turning to the north, then up and out of sight.
- Something has been digging in the dirt among these old, battle-scarred trees. A few feet down, large stones cover a pit with three decomposed bodies, each wearing a pristine Bolest military insignia, each impaled on a thoroughly rusted Bolest sword.
- A hastily-vacated campsite, one wolf corpse, five poacher corpses.
It's not even out yet, and I'm in love with PILGRIMS OF MISFORTUNE by Nate Treme. It balances a minimal, OSR-ish simplicity with a unique take on adventurers as weak and craven fools who know it and just want to overcome their many, many flaws. Plus: d12s. You know I love a d12.
Since Nate was kind enough to make the beta version of PoM available via his Patreon, I have been periodically writing a small hex-based adventure for it. This is the first random encounter table the pilgrims will be exposed to, just outside the crossroads town of South Kul as they embark on their quest to find the great poet, Rodolfo Santiago.
I'm calling it a "Low-Stakes Adventure." There's a big thing or two in the world, and the pilgrims would be well-off to avoid that mess altogether. If nothing else, I enjoy writing a smaller story! Our pilgrims won't be charging to the battlefield (hopefully) any time soon, but maybe they can help these wolves or redirect some feral hogs on their way up north. I even made a map!
Adorable, right? Those cool hex tiles? Also Nate Treme. The man is an inspiration, what can I say?
In any case, I'm excited to see where this one goes. Out of all of my half-finished projects and brainstormed ideas, this is the one I'm most eager to write, and I'm looking forward to sharing more on the journey!