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Ready Ref Sheets isn’t technically part of the Judges Guild Campaign Hexagon Sub-System[1], but at least two pages of it totally should be: “Ravaged Ruins,” pages 43 and 44.

Ready Ref Sheets is a Judges Guild classic, one of the oddest and most information-dense gaming books I can think of. No matter what sort of D&D you’re playing, there’s something in here you can use — it’s a fantastic grab-bag.

As with so many things old-school, Jeff Rients has a great post about Ready Ref Sheets, noting (to give just one example) that 1% of women in the City State of the Invincible Overlord are actually Nehwon ghouls with transparent flesh, like the ones in Fritz Leiber’s excellent Lankhmar tales. (Which, in turn, are centerpieces of Appendix N and my 100-book Appendix N reading list.)

From what I’ve seen in the Campaign Hexagon series, that’s Judges Guild in a nutshell right there. A little bit bananas, a whole lot awesome. But back to ruins.

Tucked in below a lovely illustration of a ruined castle is a set of tables for rolling up ruins, in the manner of the Campaign Hexagon books, only shorter.

Let’s roll one up and see what we get!

One ravaged ruin

  • Class: I rolled a 4, vestiges. This is descriptive, but mostly it’s a pointer to a specific sub-table, Vestiges, and its nested sub-sub-tables. We’ll circle back to those after doing the other required top-level rolls.
  • Condition: Another 4, which is rocky slope. The first two results on this table, partially covered and fully covered, would lead to a sub-table for the type of covering.
  • State: 10 on a d10 — fully operational! Hmm. This isn’t a ruin, and I kind of like that there’s a chance that will happen. Nifty.
  • Keeper: “True-Giants,” a 6. Whatever this place is, giants run the joint. Let’s find out what this place is.
  • Vestiges: This is the main sub-table based on my first roll, and I rolled a 1 on it: pyramid. But what kind of pyramid?
  • Pyramid: An observatory! This table notes that 66% of pyramids are stepped, while 34% are flat. I roll an 11, so it’s a stepped pyramid observatory.

And that’s it: one surprising little ruin. Is it a working observatory built by humans and currently occupied by giants? Or did the giants build it? And either way, why? Are the steps giant-sized? What about the interior?

I love the questions this ruin-seed presents, and they’d be fun to answer in play. Like the other stuff I’ve rolled up using the Campaign Hexagon books, this ruin is surprising in the best way.

What the hell — let’s roll up one more.

Ravaged ruin the second

  • Class: This time I rolled a 9, antiques. I assume that’s going to be stuff, not a ruin per se.
  • Condition: “Above ground.”
  • State: 10 again, fully operational.
  • Keeper: Another 10, which means no one’s there.
  • Antiques: I rolled a 4, idols.
  • Idols: These idols are made of plaster, and they’re just 2″ high.

On the premise that it’s not much fun if the PCs can’t at least have a shot at finding the feature in any given hex, I’d look at these results and say that there are hundreds of these little things scattered all over the place. “Fully operational” could just mean “not broken” in this context, but for idols it could also mean they still function as religious items — perhaps even for contacting or summoning a god.

On “ruins”

“Ruin” seems like a bit of a misnomer, but as I’m not sure what would be a better fit I’m sticking with it. Still, neither of the two ruins I rolled up feels like what I first think of when I see the word “ruin” — one is a functioning observatory, and the other is a scattering of artifacts.

What matters to me, though, is that both of them are interesting. I like the idea of weird, ruined stuff being out there in the wilderness, and with only a half-dozen or so rolls these ruins are quick to generate and full of flavor.

(If you liked this post, take a peek at Let’s roll up a Judges Guild castle and Let’s roll up a Judges Guild village.)

[1] Confusingly, it also sort of is: Six pages of random tables, including “Ravaged Ruins,” from Campaign Hexagon System were reprinted in Ready Ref Sheets. They don’t feel the same as the Campaign Hexagon Sub-System tables to me, though, with the exception of ruins.

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