Grand tome in his left palm, gilt pages fluttering frantically in the unnatural wind, the wizard squeezed his eyes shut against the brilliant, crackling green light of the portal. His mind raced: through the gateway of time and space to the doorstep of the ancient library containing the forbidden works of the madman Alhazred, and from there a mad scramble against the agents of The Unmaker who are certainly already past the marble doors, already skittering up stairs and down halls searching for the very same book. No time to waste, no time for second thoughts or hesitation, no chance of anyone else shouldering this life-and-death burden; only he could charge through the shortcut between universes and save all Creation from The Unmaker. His purpose clear, he stepped through the gleaming doorway of arcane force.
A lot can go wrong when wrestling with forces of time and space and what gossamer cosmic tissues lay between. One word – one syllable – out of step with the sorcery chained to the spellbook page by enchanted ink and quill, and you’re liable to find yourself at the center of a star or behind the cruel throne of a desperate demon prince instead of the magician’s marketplace as planned. Here are a few magical mishaps that might make mages mad:
|Magical Mishaps Around The Multiverse
|A floating island above the clouds in a pink sky, knee-deep in the palest green grass you’ve ever seen, surrounded by blooming white cherry trees and hundreds more islands of much the same.
|A sewer, filled with the scents of rot and foul decay.
|The forecastle deck of a massive ten-masted sailing ship, planked with brilliant red wood and an ornate figurehead on a great bow.
|Nearby the intended location, waist-deep in a body of water.
|Exactly where you attempted to leave from, but a few moments before you arrive. As your time-double arrives, you fade out of existence and only they remain.
|In the back of a wagon in a grand caravan traveling through a desert of blue sands, where four great planets – moons? – hang on the horizon and the pale sun beats down.
|On top of a desolate mountaintop, looking down upon a ruined, scorched landscape pock-marked by deep craters. A war rages in the canyons below as catapults lob flaming canisters of explosives back and forth.
|A flat stone about a hundred yards across, lazily flipping end over end, slowly wobbling through the ethers of the Astral Sky in a great asteroid belt. Strangely has an atmosphere and its own gravity, and two other marooned people who are on opposite sides of the stone because neither gets along with the other.
|Your ex’s front doorstep.
|The middle of a fishy catch, wrapped in a net and unceremoniously dumped on the deck of a broad fishing cog bobbing in the mouth of a tributary.
|At the steps of a temple to an oracle, whose auspices have predicted the arrival of an outsider who shall solve a difficult situation.
|A small cottage with a round door. No one is home, and the little food left here is moldy or stale. Outside, a small village of similar homes is also empty, eerily so.
|A crowded outdoor amphitheater in a natural, shallow valley where locals are clamoring to hear the prophet speak through the performance of an elaborate play.
|Behind the throne of a paranoid petty sovereign during a siege of his walled estate by a competing city-state.
|What a time to land in such an inviting taproom – the middle of a violent brawl between two schismatic sects of a church of thieves, the city guard, and a troupe of acrobats under an oath of silence.
|The rousing crescendo of a wizard’s fireworks display is being met with rave reviews by a crowd of hobbits with their mouths stuffed full of food. Unfortunately, you appear right on top of a wagonload of the sorcerer’s finest explosives, and the fuse is lit!
|At the center of a hedge maze. The tough part is the bushes keep moving, changing shape and orientation, all around you.
|With the sun setting in the distant eastern horizon, all around you chant a dozen humanoids dressed in solemn grey robes with garlands of thorny leaves around their heads. Their language is foreign to you and their chants only increase in volume and pace with your arrival.
|On the back of a great lizard, dozens and dozens of paces long, with four massive wings beating like drums.
|At the site of the annual egg-laying of the endangered jaekelopterus. The shallow, brackish waters teem with hundreds of eight-foot-long euryptids laying thousands of eggs each in the sandy banks.
|In the overloaded rear compartment of a massive, ornate sleigh drawn by teams of elk. A rotund fellow struggles to hold on to their reins as an oncoming blizzard blots out the evening horizon and hides the glittering stars from view.
|Atop the phallic palanquin of the blushing, honored, duly-elected sacrifice of a fertility cult in the midst of an annual procession to a bone-filled pit.
|At the top floor of a prison tower used to house political rivals, religious undesirables, and former lovers of the head of the corrupt theocratic dynasty currently ruling a hermetic mountain kingdom. Not behind bars… yet.
|In the shadow of a huge banner, its sign a terrier with a snake in its mouth. Around you on all sides, men with wild eyes scream for war and beat their hammers on their oaken shields. In the distance on a hillock, a gleaming citadel girded for a siege.
|Beneath the bed of a hill giant chief in his stead. The room is filled with rugs and furs, pelts of all kinds. From beneath the blankets hanging over the side, you can see a simple, large table with a cask of wine, a huge shield and a pile of battered old weapons are leaned in one corner, and a great chain is bolted to a wall.
|A ruined tumulus complex where toppled cairns litter the landscape and wild grasses and saplings have overtaken the once-tended pathways. Haunting groans fill the air and seem to be coming from below you. A tomb, marked XIX, seems to have been recently opened, and an eerie green light emanates.
|The hold of a huge airship, among the cargo. Beasts of burden strain at their tethers and gripe at the turbulence. Huge sacks of cereal grains and bolts of fabric dyed for trade block nearly all the light streaming between the planks of the bulkhead.
|In a coral temple beneath the sea, in a dome-like bubble constantly exhaled by a sleeping gargantuan puffer-fish. It is the wondrous iridescent cathedral of the sea goddess Nammu, carved from a single giant pearl and peopled by an incredibly diverse array of colorful aquatic folk.
|At the servants’ door to a huge kitchen of clay ovens and oak counters. Rushing scullery drudges and waitstaff hurry past, sprinting this way and that, covered in flour and grease. Winter air rushes in from side doors and windows as platters are overloaded.
|A peaceful pastoral farm, with grazing aurochs and a gentle breeze blowing through the soft finger millet.
Hopefully these places transport your wizards and your games to strange new places! I’ll see you shortly for Day 23 of Dicember, but if you have to yell at me in the meantime, try over on Twitter where I also scream into the void as @dungeonspossums.