1cc6f03b481a8daa66e849b38d48a996“‘Tis a dark night, Master, and full of evil portents. I saw three toads heading toward the crescent moon as night fell, and we all know what that means. For days now the air has been alive with buzzards, midges, and the distant singing of one-armed mummers. Only last week a piglet with three faces was born out toward Gimly. Something terrible is clearly afoot.”

“Shut up, and get on with clipping my toenails.”

 

Everything has meaning, some say, and in a world of suspicion and magic and portents that come true, these curious signs must assume great importance to some—particularly to those that have little else to grasp onto except toil and woe.  Here are fifty such beliefs, customs and warning signs from the gods, together with their randomly generated, somewhat obscure meanings or consequences. Use these to have NPCs warn PCs of the true meaning of seemingly mundane occurrences, as tenuous introductions to adventures, as side-treks or leads, or simply have them as yet another bit of color that proves, without doubt, how strange characters really are. 

Perhaps, there are even certain naughty people who invent such things purely to achieve their own ends or even those wicked enough to take advantage of the portent for their own foul needs.

And if you can come up with an adventure using one of these dubious portents, bravo, please share a brief synopsis with us, we’d love to hear about it…

Your Whispering HomunculusOccurrence/Portent

  1. Three pregnant toads were seen walking toward the moon…
  2. A ewe was just seen dancing in the gloaming…
  3. A talking fish was heard by a local fisherman…
  4. Two bats collided and died above the church steeple…
  5. Eight men called Burpy passed through the village in a single day today…
  6. Ghostly harpsicord music has been heard coming from below
  7. A cat with one eye was seen standing upon the grave of a nun…
  8. A red badger was seen walking on its hind legs…
  9. Two horses were seen laughing in their stable by a one-armed blacksmith who is married to a red-haired twin…
  10. A yellow ghost dog was said to be seen by three spinsters yesterday afternoon at exactly four-o-the-clock…
  11. Cheese has exploded in the local cheesery at exactly midnight…
  12. Singing ale was heard at the local inn at dusk…
  13. A hooded gnome rode through town on a huge badger, both were entirely green in hue…
  14. A treble rainbow was seen at sunrise…
  15. A marriage of a male rat and lady mouse was seen by village children this morning…
  16. A swarm of bees has taken to the local vicarage…
  17. A plague of beetles has carried off a local black sheep…
  18. Ghostly church bells have sounded twice today, and on each occasion, a walking scarecrow was reportedly seen nearby…
  19. A walking birch tree was heard wandering through the village in the depths of the night…
  20. A giant cow is rumoured to have settled at the old burial ground exactly six miles north of the village church…
  21. A blue bull circled the entire village boundary at dawn and was seen by seven monks…
  22. Two chimneysweeps collided and died this morning whilst rushing to get to work at dawn in the mist…
  23. Corpse-lights were seen last night circling around the village spring…
  24. Cowslips have mysteriously sprung up overnight on eight seemingly unrelated graves…
  25. Thirteen crows have been seen settling upon the roofs of certain houses for the past week…

True Meaning

  1. …a sure sign that evil magik is afoot.
  2. …obviously, all the local cats are doomed to die this evening and are being rounded up as we speak.
  3. …it’s clearly the herald of the Apocalypse.
  4. …undoubtedly skin-changing witches have somehow moved into the village; they must be rooted out and burned—now.
  5. …clear evidence that a demon in disguise is here. Everyone wearing brown is to be distrusted, if you see such a person, look away and call the village guards.
  6. …obviously strangers passing this way are to be distrusted and lashed with braken and long sticks in the traditional way.
  7. …everyone is understandably on the lookout for witchcraft and evil-magic-doers up to no good.
  8. …quite naturally everyone has started drinking holy water and gin to ward off evil spirits.
  9. …everyone is braced for the supernatural fire that is sure to follow and are taking necessary precautions, many are presently in the duck-pond.
  10. …clearly all curious animals must be driven out, for they carry the plague upon them.
  11. …no self-respecting person will talk to a stranger this day for fear of his honeyed voice bewitching them. Just in case, all locals have been pushing parsley in their ears to prevent accidental conversations being heard.
  12. …quite wisely, all the local pigs will be sacrificed at dusk to ward off evil.
  13. …those who foolishly ignore this portent and do not wear sprigs of heather and lucky offal to ward off the evil spirits are clearly in league with devils.
  14. …if a man be tall and a stranger, he is here to cast the evil eye on local unmarried women. Let him prove his innocence by walking naked around the village wearing sandals of thorns upon his feet, or face his punishment.
  15. …plainly the moon will never rise again.
  16. …those who bear unborn children must seek out the blessings of strangers or risk their children being born as changelings.
  17. …and by the wearing of pig’s ears shall the foulness that is clearly heralded be prevented – those who have such ears will hear the wickedness coming.
  18. …the vicar has called everyone to prayer in an hour and we all know what those who don’t turn up are saying by their absence.
  19. …to offset the imminent arrival of demons, everyone is wearing a spring of holly and carrying a lucky whelk or turnip at all times. Those that do not do so are showing their allegiance to the Evil One.
  20. …clearly all trade has ceased today and money cannot change hands until dawn or foul things will happen.
  21. …the crops are doomed, as—plainly—are all the ferrets.
  22. …evidently strangers are to blame for bringing an impending pestilence upon us!
  23. …needless to say everyone is heading for a night in the local church to keep away from the dancing, singing night-beasts that may arrive after dark and bring doom to anyone they find outdoors.
  24. …by clear ancient rites those with red hair must have it shorn or the village is doomed.
  25. …shepherd’s delight.

TO BE CONTINUED…!

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