10 Burial Cairns

The borderland and wilderness areas of the world are dangerous places. Here adventurers and other brave souls push back against the darkness encroaching on humanity’s realm.

Cairn Entrance by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

Cairn Entrance by William McAusland (Outland Arts)

 

Inevitable some of these heroes fall in battle and often their companions bury them at the site of their death.

Use the table below, to generate the details of the cairn the party discover.

  1. A jumbled pile of stones stands atop a low, grass wreathed hill. Investigation reveals the cairn has been opened; stones (and some weathered bones) lie scattered about the summit.
  2. Amid a field of wild flowers, a single cairn stands under the wide, lofty boughs of an ancient oak tree. Thick moss grows over the cairn and a rusty steel shield is wedged between two large stones. A faded device on the shield may represent a prancing unicorn—or it may not.
  3. This meticulously built cairn stands next to the banks of a bubbling stream. A spear is wedged into the centre of the cairn and a mouldering head of some kind of humanoid hangs from its tip.
  4. Built around a rocky outcrop of up thrust stone, this cairn serves as a makeshift (and accidental) sundial.
  5. Neat piles of neatly stacked, weathered bones surround this small cairn. The cairn itself has clearly been carefully made; the stones fit together well and the whole structure is relatively solid.
  6. A field of scattered stones surrounds the shattered remains of this once large cairn. The rotten trunk of a tree lies across the cairns remains; at some point in the past it fell on the cairn mostly destroying it and scattering the stones about. Splintered bones are visible amid the remains.
  7. Three cairns stand in a ragged line amid the shadows of a small stand of trees. One of the three cairns has a sapling growing through it. Moss grows across the stones and bracken clusters thickly against their flanks.
  8. A large flat stone tops this cairn. While the carving is illegible, faint scratch marks reminiscent of writing can still (just) be discerned by a perceptive individual.
  9. This cairn was never finished. Stones lie scattered about and from the cairn’s profile if seems the builder was interrupted. In a dense stand of bushes nearby, perceptive individuals spot the yellowing bones of a humanoid; its skull has been smashed in and a large, suspiciously stained stone lies nearby.
  10. This wide, low cairn is easily big enough to hold several bodies. Investigation reveals, the cairn covers a deep hollow cut into the earth. A stone trapdoor lies at the bottom of the hollow under a thin layer of moist soil.

 

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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