OSR: Volume-Lords and Volume-Folk

I probably should leave the post about my new module, Kidnap the Archpriest, on the top of my blog for a little longer. Oh well. 


Volume-Folk are cave-dwelling humans and near-humans, feral and strange, buried miles below the surface. Exiles from rotting kingdoms. Holdouts of sense in a world of madness. 

They are surface-incursions on a meteoric trajectory, pockets of creatures from outside the Veins trying to make their way in a hostile environment, imposing temporary order on uncaring stone. Think of them as arctic explorers or shipwrecked sailors. They fled catastrophe, plague, war, or judgement. They went searching for gold and immortality. They ended up here.

Except... the island their ship crashed into has seen shipwrecks before. The locals, hungry and smart and perfectly adapted to their environment, will not be awed by gunpowder and horses.

Some domains last for decades or centuries. Some collapse immediately. The general tone is post-apocalyptic. Every settlement is surrounded by hostile nations who don't need as much water, food, light, heat, or comfort. Volume-Lords are lords of wastelands, borderlands, dead stone, areas not worth mining or claiming or patrolling. Their holdings are small: a single fortress-city at best, but more likely a village-cave, and even more commonly a single festering den. The Volume-Folk might number in their hundreds but never, ever in thousands.

Hexcrawl Notes

The map I'm working on has several areas owned by specific factions: the Olm, the Dracospawn, etc. There are also unclaimed spaces. One of the results on the Random Encounter Table for unclaimed areas is "Volume-Folk". They will be generated using this table, or selected based on nearby hexes, previous encounters, the GM's whims, etc.

There will also be specific keyed hexes with specific Volume-Folk encounters and locations. Speleo-mages and mad sorcerer-kings and specific dungeons and all that.

This table is also useful for filling out the more esoteric encounters in Veins of the Earth
Andrew Mar

Table of Volume-Folk

Sorry about the formatting. The PDF version in the hexcrawl will be better. You can read an entry left to right for "standard" volume-folk, or randomize each row for added complexity and depth, or roll once and read the next entry up 1 diagonally. If a result doesn't make sense, too bad. The Veins don't have to make sense.

The "Total?" column gives the total number of Volume-Folk in their entire culture, not counting the ones encountered (typically 1d6). Unless otherwise listed, the rest are back at the culture's Holding.

1d20 Who and What?
What Are They Doing?
1 Feral Degenerates. Filthy, coated in cave mud and grit, barely alive, barely aware.
Tearing one of their own apart for food. Manic hunger.
Just the ones you see.
Filthy cave full of bones and clay.
2 Bandits. Wild and free and starving. Smart enough to lie and flatter. Face paint.
Preparing for a difficult climb. Rope coiled at their feet.
Just the ones you see.
Cave high on a wall. Lots of loot and grime.
3 Survivors. Torn clothes, bloody feet, fear. Carrying children, weapons, valuables.
Running, heading for a half-remembered safe area.
1d6 more just out of sight, but moving.
Burned, shattered, invaded. They flee.
4 Cannibal Exiles. Rags and knives. Tremors from prion disease. Sharp teeth, no lips.
Hunting something. Could be the PCs. 
5 in the holding, +1d6 captives.
Spiral maze-cave death-trap village.
5 Lost Miners. Mad, gibbering, wounded. A liability. Wandering for weeks in the dark.
Staggering towards the light, begging incoherently.
1d6 were left behind. Not far.
Landmark they can find by sound alone.
6 Crusaders. Focused. Leather armour, clubs, a plan. Blunt but conversational.
On a divine mission to kill something. Could be the PCs.
20, +1d6 penitent captives.
Fortress-village, solidly built, well guarded.
7 Mad Prophet. Prophet is naked, followers are armed. Bells and hoots and muttering.
Trying to restrain one of their number, who has gone mad.
5, +1d6 supplicants.
Temple made of piled bones and rocks.
8 Muck-Rakers. Smeared head to toe in clay. Look like rocks if they close their eyes.
Sifting through a streambed. Eating a fish.
5, +2d10 young ones.
Deep clay pit. Dive in, swim for the caves.
9 Early Adopters. Eyes gouged out, copper ear funnels, skin like leather. Lucid, polite.
Listening in the dark, moving around the PCs, learning.
10, +1d6 on scout missions.
Cave village with surface trinkets.
10 Driven Explorers. Fine clothes, sharp weapons. Total fixation on their goal.
Protecting their camp. Completing a ritual.
20. Rival faction, 30 (identical), nearby.
Mobile but fortified camp.
11 Escaped Slaves. Iron collars and broken chains wrapped in cloth. Frightened.
Looking over shoulders, listening for pursuit, shivering.
1d100 more trapped somewhere.
Ancient fortress, retaken. Slave-pens.
12 Defense Force. Bone knives, hooded lanterns. Wary, but not hostile.
Checking caves near the holding. Slowly patrolling.
40, with 5 on guard. +1d6 prisoners.
Fungus farms, cave-castle. Cold, sturdy.
13 Slave Hunters. Tough clothes, well fed. Red-light lantern, rope, good weapons.
Scouting, searching for footprints, looking for someone.
30 masters, 20+2d20 slaves.
Crude stone villages, cave-snail farms.
14 Parasite Saints. Emaciated, but agile. Huge eyes with worms swimming inside.
Dragging something from its burrow. Screams and kicks.
10, +1d6 creature or monster-slaves
Warrens half full of water. Dry shelves.
15 Stealth Grazers. Naked, ritually shaven. Long soft toes and wrinkled fingers.
Climbing carefully, looking for cave crickets to eat.
20, +1d10 really really weird ones.
Painstakingly carved marble monastery.
16 Pain Junkies. Impossible stitch-wounds. Nail-fingers. Bits of laughter and moaning.
Finding something to torture, eat, and kill. Might be the PCs.
1d6 more out of sight. 30 at holding.
Cave village they invaded recently. 
17 Anarchocapitalist Commune. Once-fine clothes, good weapons. Educated, insane.
Bickering quietly about politics, religion, death. Shuffling.
1d20. Varies a lot. If 10+, debate night.
Sinkhole village-auditorium-arena.
18 Civils. On a diplomatic or trade mission. Robes, masks. Politely tell you to go away.
Lockstep march, heading for the nearest settlement.
40, +2d10 slaves, +1d6 visitors.
City-fortress, with streets and squares.
19 Farmers. Shit-stained, surly, weary. Polite as a form of self-defense.
Herding/chasing 2d6 Sonic Pigs!. Pigs are currently happy.
100, +20x1d10 slaves. Crowded.
Hell-pit city. Anarchic, brutal, collapsing.
20 Nobles. Gold and silk and dead eyes. Retinues of shining servants.
Meeting in the dark for secret plots. Are the PCs useful?
100 +10x1d10 slaves.
Dictator-driven cult-fortress. Many statues.

Jihun Lee
And a Race table. It's specific to my setting.

d10 Race Details
1 Human Albino-pale, long arms and legs.
2 Human Normal-ish. Unshaven, unwashed, wiry.
3 Human Grey-green skin, huge luminous eyes, gnarled teeth. 
4 Human Long shaggy hair, small eyes, sail-like ears. Padded feet.
5 Beetleling Scarred, violent, clicking limbs, shining eyes.
6 Toadling Goggle eyes, gawping, warty. Chortling quietly. Dough-sticky flesh.
7 Batling Small, sharp teeth, echolocating. Fidgeting.
8 Elf On the edge of total collapse. Like a tired toddler at a cocktail party.
9 Wormling White outside, red inside. Vulgar.
10 Flealing Spiny, quick, vampyric. Mocking laughter and great leaps.
Thomas Mahon

Lone Wanderers

If you roll a 1 on the "Number Encountered" section of the Random Encounter Table, you can use one of these characters instead. They might also be useful as replacement PCs.

1d20 Name Description
1 Banjat Garangabal Prospector. Shoots first, questions the wounded. Good gear, pickaxe.
2 Loops Abseil ferry owner. Something at the top has gone wrong. Worried.
3 Presindiligon Eugenicist. Has measuring calipers and books. Wants samples, plans.
4 Xort Survivor of robbed caravan. Silk robes, dagger, ritual brands. Callous.
5 Fren Jenss Mad. Says he found a way out. Actually a pit. Will push you in.
6 Gamspender Old fighter, guard. Fleeing a disaster he caused. Guilty, paranoid.
7 Joal  Traveling cave-singer. Sings creatures to sleep for a fee. Ethereal.
8 Sister Sister Undernun. Roving angel of silver-sword deliverance. Very polite.
9 Wospot Lost, desperate for attention. No useful skills but very obedient.
10 Lord Spasbar Exiled noble, pompous, magical, ambitious. Wants to rule again.
11 Kar-kar Bite You Bone-seller. Uncanny knack for finding lost things. Worm fingers.
12 Mawlostana Assassin. Bitter, ungrateful. Wounded in the leg, trying to make it home.
13 The Fink Sly climber and nest-thief. A bit crazed. Tittering laugh, three teeth.
14 Howittler Beans Cannibal connoisseur. Bargains for bits of you. Rich but fast and mean.
15 Nork Charming, incongruous. How did someone get here? Exiled cave-mage.
16 Cup Face Body to die for. Face like flesh landslide. Hunting for food. Mute.
17 Ipsibibibibipal Scout. Ate something, became half-real. Exists through right eye only.
18 Ahr Filth prophet. Will speak of next random encounter/hex in vague terms.
19 Ole Long Johnson Makes ladders from anything. Loves ladders, heights, feathers, socks.
20 Relibert Plant-finder, potion-maker, wandering herbalist, wise trickster.

Efflam Mercier

Things Volume-Folk Know

1. Major features in their own hex (including their Holding).
2. The approximate content of adjacent hexes.


Did you know that Veins of the Earth has a table of names? VotE pg. 278.


  1. You need to work on releasing your veins stuff officially as a second book or in v 2.0.

    Or do whatever you want. But it's in MY secret Veins pdf.

    1. Nah, this one is definitely unofficial. If Veins of the Earth is a terrifying rocket-engine of good brain-stuff, this hexcrawl thing is just... fins. All I'm trying to do is vaguely steer it somewhere.

    2. Which is a major thing that Veins 2.0 could really use. It's intentionally unfocused, but focusing it is really useful for those who don't want to spend that effort and time.

  2. Veins isn't even an engine, in my opinion, it's just pure rocket-fuel. Pour it on your campaign, your players, yourself. Hand someone a match. Your work is the jelly that holds together the napalm. It's also 3am so whatever. Keep doing what you do man.

    1. Thanks! That's pretty much how I describe it in the draft intro to the Veinscrawl. Patrick made a warehouse full of lovely, beautifully crafted aircraft parts, engines, and wheels. I've built the plane from The Flight of the Phoenix (the 1965 version) out of them.

  3. Why call them "volume" folk?

    1. Volume as in the space inside a cave.