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Your Whispering Homunculus: 50 Topics of Conversation

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Homunculus“Master!”

The creature hops spastically onto your shoulder and grasps your ear, glancing around before whispering “I have an idea…”

“What is it, slugling?”

“Master, I know you have toiled to make an answer to all the biggest questions in tonight’s tale, but what about the more mundane? Surely not everyone in the village is aware of the terrible fate you have in store for our brave adventurers, nor knows the full extent of the ghastly rumors that abound?”

“True.”

“So would it be helpful for you to have such a list of mundane talk and tittle-tattle?” …

50 Topics of Conversation

“Greetings, stout yeoman. My name is Hrathnil the Chunky—Keeper of the Dusky Vermillion Blade of Zsaard, wearer of the Belt of Toot, and bearer of the Bucket of the Arch-roper Xerses. I am seeking the Dungeon of the Cursed Topaz Harlot. Tell me, my good man, what strange rumors are abroad in these parts?”

“Well, they say Jog Wibberley’s got a new shovel.”

Not everyone’s lips are trembling at the news of the Tarrasque, and not all NPCs provide useful information. Often, what may seem very mundane excites local tongues to wag, or curious gossip has absolutely nothing to do with the PC’s latest quest. Here are fifty such topics of conversation, use them as the results of failed gather information checks or where the PCs are on the wrong track, as amusing distractions to the main adventure, or perhaps as adventures in their own right…

1                       They say Miss McGuire’s been seen frolicking and prancing on Noxey Moor again.

2                       I heard say from a man at Muckley that a calf with three heads was born last Tuesday. Mind you, that kind of thing is always happening in these parts.

3                       Arber’s whippet chased a rabbit for 4 days and nights before finally dying.

4                       Rotten weather we’re having—strangely rotten, some would say.

5                       Twelve bullocks gathered under the Twisted Elm last night—and that means troubles a comin’.

6                       A black goose was seen flying over the church yesterday at exactly six o’clock—and we all known what that means…

7                       All the ale was sour in the Bloated Pig the day ‘afore yesterday and now everyone’s come down badly loik.

8                       I ‘erd that the pond at Wimple drained on its own accord last ‘noit.

9                       Red skoi at noit—ankheg’s deloit’.

10                    Six of Jabel Puddley’s sheep gave birth to pigs last year. Them pigs are right over that hedge. Seems to me therefore that they ain’t no ordinary pigs, are they? Strikes me they must be devil pigs, come to do no good to the livestock and get up to some sort of sinister porcine mischief.

11                    The church bell rang twenty-seven times last night—dark times are upon us.

12                    Joffrey Giles had a nasty accident yesterday—managed to cut his own head off with his scythe. Bad business it was…

13                    I heard that a giant with eleven heads and fourteen arms was seen wandering through yonder meadow two weeks ago last Tuesday. Again.

14                    So that’s yer name is it? Hmm, we used to have a woodcutter by that name—at least we did until he got mad one night and went on the rampage. Tragic, it was—tragic and bloody—very, very bloody. A bloody, tragic business and no mistake.

15                    They say the long meadow is going to be drained tomorrow…

16                    Nice weather for the time of year, particularly good weather for hunting badgers, my old auntie says.

17                    Gnomes—don’t talk to me about gnomes. I once knew a gnome, shifty fellow he was—grew his own turnips—if you know what I mean…

18                    I think that wall over there might have moved overnight.

19                    It’s alright for you adventurous types—but what about us poor folks that have to pick the cabbages, eh?

20                    Young Rog over here, he once found an earwig nearly a foot long.

21                    Monsters? No, not round these parts—not unless you count young Watley’s Monstrous Ferret that is…

22                    A dungeon? Now what sort of thing would that be, pray?

23                    Well strangers, you’ve just arrived in time—for tonight we’re holding a special festival—we ignorant locals like to call it The Feast on Strangers… sorry of strangers. What was I thinking of?

24                    I bet you don’t know much about chickens. Well I do. “Chicken” Tolly they calls me. Now let me tell you something—I had twenty chickens here not 1 minute before you arrived and now they’ve vanished—now you tell me, just where have they got to and what have you got to do with it?

25                    It’s funny you turning up, I had a dream about a stranger just like you last night—horrible it was— ‘specially the bit when you got your head bitten off by that giant, fanged toad you weren’t expecting to meet.

26                    Well, they keep saying they’re going to cobble this road, but they never do—promises, promises, promises.

27                    A well’s only as deep as the water in it—as my old da’ used to say.

28                    Danger? Rumor? Dungeons? I’m not sure if I know what you mean strangers.

29                    Well, that’s the fifth pipe I’ve broke inside a week, and if that don’t mean something important, I don’t know what does.

30                    Young Caply over there played dominoes eleven times last night in the Slaughtered Turtle Inn, and each time he played he drew the double blank. Dark days are upon us, I fear.

31                    Nothin stranger, nothin’ at all…

32                    Well you tell me, is it normal for a man’s back to crack when he stands up?

33                    I’m a hundred and thirty seven—today.

34                    They say that oak yonder, gets up and walks every night at just about this time. That’s why I’m standing here watching it…

35                    Ploughs—they’re just a waste of good money—every time you get a reliable one, it escapes.

36                    Well, I must get on. I’ve twelve pigs to milk before sunset. Not all of us can stand around gossipin’ all night. Tricky business, pig milkin’, not that you’d know much about that I expect.

37                    We did have a monster here once—big horrible thing it was, a little like your friend at the back there…

38                    You haven’t found any walnuts on your travels, have you? I’m awfully fond of walnuts me.

39                    I bet you’re just a group of clever adventurers who never have to do a proper day’s work. Have you ever shaved a goat? Repaired a leaking bladder? Shimmied up a church steeple to catch an escaped floatrabbit for a crying child? I thought not. Not used to real work are you, eh? So let me ask you a question, clever breeches, how do you fix a leaking mill-race?

40                    I wouldn’t stay around here strangers. Awful quiet it is. We’ve nothing sinister going on—nothing at all… Now if you don’t mind, I’ve these nine black cloaks to fix before midnight.

41                    At last! At last you’ve come! Tell me, how long will it take you to repair the bridge?

42                    No good will come of your visit strangers—every time some heros turn up in the village, something bad happens. To them or us, but usually to them.

43                    Eggs is eggs and cheese is cheese—that’s what I say.

44                    Frogs—we’ve a pestilence of frogs!

45                    Well, two weeks last Thursday a chimney fell on the vicar’s head, and he hasn’t talked since.

46                    You’re in luck strangers—today is our annual Dire Ferret Ride! Prepare yourselves for a day of fun that you’ll never forget!

47                    Ropers, eh! Funny creatures ropers are… they have funny mannerisms—not that we’ve seen any in these parts for a good few weeks.

48                    If you ask me, it’s no coincidence that the farmer’s milk turns gray, a magpie is seen flying backwards over the village green, and a group of strangers turn up—all in the same hour.

49                    The young Toby lad has run off with the Watkin girl—the whole village is talking about it. Mind you, you can understand them eloping—what with her terrible skin complaint and his peculiar bowels. I’d say it were a match made in the heavens.

50                    Come here for the butter, have you?

    10 Comments

  1. Nice! I like the ones that threaten to drag the adventurers into the villager’s own agenda.

    In the remake of “Shaft” with Samuel L. Jackson, a woman agrees to give Shaft some information if he’ll beat up a drug dealer that’s corrupting her son. Shaft promptly walks down the street and lays the guy out. I always thought it would be great if he came back to discover that she not only didn’t have any useful information, but the “drug dealer” was just an ex-boyfriend she wanted to get even with.

    Wade Rockett

    April 30, 2010

  2. Excellent stuff, I normally do a small pool of these for townsfolk or random encounters. It is fascinating to watch the players chew on these sorts of things and generate elaborate conspiracies which must be stopped!

    Brett

    April 30, 2010

  3. I am taping these into my DM screen and using them ALL.

    Wolfgang

    April 30, 2010

  4. Another fine list Rich! Adding this to my NPC folder.

    James Thomas

    April 30, 2010

  5. Wonderful stuff! I would love to see more… I could even imagine a random table or three that could generate topics of conversation that every commoner would have on their mind.

    catdragon

    April 30, 2010

  6. looks like a rather short list….;)

    Good stuff, it will definitely make it into my list “dumb things towns folk know or would say” list that I made and use when my PC’s fail their gather information checks….:)

    jim

    April 30, 2010

  7. These are all awesome. I can’t wait to see my player’s faces when they learn about escaping ploughs or a three headed calf and to see them trying to explain how they haven’t been sent to fix the bridges.

    Christian M.

    April 30, 2010

  8. Hey, these are what local people in Derbyshire are talking about right now, so its more journalism than fantasy:)

    Catdragon, that is a very fine idea indeed!

    And now I’m on Wolfgang’s DM screen I’m going to retire, thank you all and farewell!

    Huzzah!

    Richard Pett

    May 1, 2010

  9. These are great! Now do the Call of Cthulhu list. But seriously, change a few things about these and it would describe some of the thing I heard from villagers in foreign countries or our own when you start asking questions and your armed. Can you imagine how distinctly uncomfortable these people must feel answering your characters questions after they see them slaughter some creature which has been plaguing them with ease.

    “Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Cthulhu R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn.”

    Rourke

    May 5, 2010

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