31 January 2013

The Suckerbunny Tree

Collected from various sources...

The Suckerbunny Tree — A Weird Pamaltelan Monster

This giant tree curses all the jungle around it. Its unholy fruit, which drops every season, are monsters: the parasitoid suckerbunnies, which feed on all forms of animal life.

Note: This is not really something for my campaign since this monster is found in eastern Pamaltela. But it was too weird not to be mentioned!

30 January 2013

Rune Identities

I am still poring over old publications from the golden age of our hobby. I have found an extremely interesting Rune Identities table in issue No.9 of Wyrm's Footnotes:

click to enlarge

Watch this space for suggested uses of this table!

22 January 2013


I'm 45 soon. I don't know if it's my age, or all the talk about OSR nostalgia and stuff, but I've been re-reading old issues of the White Dwarf magazine (the original one, not the minis catalogue).

Those old issues would often feature RuneQuest articles. In issue 39, p16-17, there is an article titled Runeblades by Dave Morris [Q: is he the same Dave Morris who wrote the Fabled Lands series?] that presents a list of magic blades for rune-level characters for a selection of runic cults.

Those were the times...

Here's a short, summarised selection from the article, without too many rules-mechanics details, since the idea is to adapt the 'Runeblades' to your favourite rules system.

Volcanic Sword
This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Fire/Sky rune. Whenever needed, the blade will rise in temperature to red-heat within seconds. Any damage that penetrates armour is doubled. This would definitely look dandy in the hands of an Olodo chieftain!

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Death rune. The sword does normal damage, but it is so sharp that it cuts easily through armour, thus halving its protective value.

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Mobility rune.The sword moves with dazzling speed, allowing its wielder to always gain initiative (or strike first).

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Air rune. The sword allows its user to summon storms once a day. The storm will muster within ne minute and then last for up to fifteen minutes. Within this zone, all movement is halved, flying creatures must make a successful agility roll (or similar test) to continue flying, communication is impossible, and visibility is restricted to but a few metres.

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Death rune. Nightblades give their user the equivalent of the Troll's Darksense, and a bonus to any stealth-related talent.

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Magic rune. This sword increases the amount of spells its user is able to cast, or adds spell-casting ability to a non-magic-using wielder.

Fortress Sword
This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Stasis rune. It enhances to chance to parry.

This sword is the rune blade of cults tied to the Cold rune. Whenever it crits, the sword may inoculate a kind of icy poison into the location that has been hit.

Have fun in bestowing these lethal weapons upon your NPCs. Moreover, since their powers are linked to the rune-level-ness of their wielder, your PCs won't be able to re-use them, should they manage to kill the original wielder!

19 January 2013

Issues of S&P Useful for Pamaltelan Games

For the whole time that they held the licence to RuneQuest and Second Age Glorantha, Mongoose did quite a good job in terms of the number of RuneQuest- and/or Glorantha-themed articles available in their free on-line gaming magazine, Signs and Portents (aka S&P).

Not only were these articles free, they were also quite enjoyable and useful, especially the ones written by people with a good grasp of all things RuneQuest-ey like Shannon Appelcline, Loz Whitaker, and Pete Nash.

Here is a list of all the articles with Pamaltelan-compatible or adaptable content:

S&P issue 40
Gloranthan Goodies by Bryan Steele (p41-47)
This article presents a host of bizarre Gloranthan items. Some of them are daft, some other interesting, some others yet really well thought out. I am particularly fond of the Imperial Token of the Learned (p42), of the Tome of Secrets (p42), and especially of the Pollen Arrow (p45).

S&P issue 41
Druids by Tim Bancroft (p6-11)
This is a Gateway (non-Gloranthan) article. However, several ideas can be scavenged if you want to play a 'Plant Brother' type of character using the MRQII, Legend or RuneQuest 6 rules.

S&P issue 43
Twenty Gloranthans by Bryan Steele (p5-14)
As implied by its title, this article is an NPC gallery, with a good array of NPCs from various areas of Second Age Glorantha, and with MRQI stats.
NPCs of interest for Pamaltela-centred games are: the God Learner chronicler (No.1), the Malkioni sorcerer (No.2), the Waertagi runaway (No.3), the Tarint Beast Hunter (No.10), and the Arachan investigator (No.18).

S&P issue 51
The Voralans by Shannon Appelcline (p34-40)
Shannon Appelcline is the expert with regards to all things Aldryami, so this article is a must-read if you're interested in the diminutive fungoid pests, and especially if you want to play a Voralan: Voralan skills, Voralan backgrounds, Voralan professions, weapons, cults... A fantastic article, irrespective of your favourite rule-set or 'Age' to play in Glorantha.

S&P issue 53
Shapeshifters and Deceivers by Carl Walmsley (p22-27)
This is another gallimaufry by Carl Walmsley, who seems to have specialised in this kind of writing. For your Pamaltelan forest, I recommend the Charlatan Plant (p22). For your Pamaltelan swamp, the Cruel Vapour (p23). The Mimic Ghoul (p26) can be a terrific addition to Nontraya's undead.

S&P issue 53
The Voralan Tribes by Shannon Appelcline (p46-50)
This is the continuation of the Voralans article from S&P issue No.51. In this instalment, Shannon Appelcline details the various tribes of Voralans. The ones who live in Pamaltela are the Third Tribe.

S&P issue 63
Plunder of the Elfs by Shannon Appelcline (p29-37)
Shannon Appelcline returns to the delightful 80-ish format of Plunder (a Chaosium supplement for the original RuneQuest) to describe a whole host of Aldryami-destined magic items.

S&P issue 67
RuneQuest Elf Monsters by Shannon Appelcline (p68-77)
This further instalment in the series of Aldryami-centred articles is simply a must. Most creatures can be used in Pamaltela. I particularly like the branchsteed (p69), the snake vine (p75), and obviously the spore cloud (p76) since I'm such a big fan of Slorifings.

S&P issue 76
Gods of the Goblins by Shannon Appelcline (p20-23)
Yippee! As written above, I'm a big fan of Slorifings (aka Goblins) so this article is one of my favourite ones by Shannon Appelcline. The Goblin gods are as devious as their followers, and the spells in the article are really useful to render the nasty Slorifings even nastier.

S&P issue 87
Tomes of Power by Carl Walmsley (p44-46)
Gateway Stakhanovite Carl Walmsley gives us a list of strange magical tomes. Could well be used to stock a wizard's tower if you're running out of ideas (or traps).

S&P issue 89
Shamanism for Fun and Prophets by Bruce Mason, Gary Goldman and Pete Nash (p14-23)
This very long article is necessary if you want to introduce shamanism to your MRQII game, as the rules in the original MRQII book were not sufficiently developed.

S&P issue 90
The World of Spirits by Bruce Mason, Gary Goldman and Pete Nash (p18-34)
Again, a very long article, and a follow-up to the previous one. All this should really have appeared in the MRQII book in the first place. Indispensable if you plan to run your game using the MRQII rules.

S&P issue 91
Wondrous Woods by Carl Walmsley (p44-46)
In this issue, Stakhanovite Carl Walmsley gives us a list of plant-monsters. Not all of them are inspiring or particularly fitting in the context of Second Age Glorantha, but they can be used as impediments to the PCs' travels through any Umathelan forest.

S&P issue 92
Devil's Gulch by Bruce Mason and Dyson Logos (p66-73)
This is a short but deadly adventure set in an unpsecified wilderness location. [SPOILERS] The adventure features lots of Chaotic opponents. Since Chaos isn't strong in the Second Age, I wouldn't particularly recommend this adventure for a campaign set in Second Age Glorantha. However, if you fancy the idea that the abandoned temple has been used as a laboratory by some crazy (and now dead) God Learner, who has somehow attracted all these Chaotic creatures, you may give it a try.

18 January 2013

Improved Place Generator

This is a follow-up to when I blogged about my Impromptu NPC and Place Generator. If you read the comments to that post, Imaginos complained about some combinations being impossible because only one die was used and hence some runes woud l only be rolled with some given row/column combinations. My answer was that I liked simple-n-easy tools, and rolling one die only was my idea of simplicity.

Well, for (a) curmudgeons like Imaginos and (b) people who are OK with rolling two dice when they roll on a random table, here's my IMPROVED PLACE GENERATOR.

So everything works exactly like in the Impromptu Place Giannirator, except that you roll two dice.
  • Die No.1 (the blue die on the photograph) is used to determine the details of the place, as per the original Place Giannirator.
  • Die No.2 (the orange die on the photograph) is used to determine the owner/founder of the place, again per the original Giannirator.
  • And here's the final twist: in order not to have the runes linked with the rows and columns any longer, you will now use the rune under die No.2 with roll No.1, and the other way round.

click to enlarge
Die No.1 — the Place
(remember: die No.1 is the blue die)
Sixth row yields a VILLAGE.
Value rolled: 7: most houses have more than one level
Eighth column yields Average.
The rune under the other die is the Darkness Rune.

Die No.2 — the owner/founder
(remember: die No.2 is the orange die)

1. The die stops in the fifth row, first column.
2. Value rolled: 6.
3. Archetype: CITIZEN. The value rolled (6) yields us the following result: Journeyman / Crafter of a Superior level.
4. On top of the 1st column: 13.
5. Size Small
6. The rune under the other die is the Movement Rune.
Bonus: the map under the transparent sheet. The orange die stopped over the sea, north of the Umathelan coast.

Here's a possible interpretation of the results:
The party arrives in an average-sized village, in which most houses have more than one level. All in all, it is quite populous. The houses are tall and close to each other, so the place feels quite dark, especially in its narrow alleys.
If the PCs have a letter of credence, or are travelling on behalf of an important patron, or are otherwise well-known or puissant, they are introduced to the alderman/burgomaster/provost of the village. He's a jolly, shortish man who leads the local Guild of Artisans. He is himself a skilled wheelwright. Although not particularly dexterous, the man is able to craft high-quality cart wheels. Buying a set of wheels from him will increase the distance travelled by day on any given Umathelan road by 10%. If the PCs manage to get to know him better, they will learn that the man is actually not from Umathela. He was born in Seshnela and travelled throughout the mighty Middle Sea Empire, before settling in Umathela for the love of a local woman.

17 January 2013

A Nordic-Themed Setting for MRQII

The fine Italian-language blog la Cripta del conte has made available a free Nordic-themed campaign setting, simply titled il Nord (the North), for the Italian version of RuneQuest, which corresponds to the translation of MRQII. As such, it is also highly compatible with RuneQuest 6, and should be easily adaptable to Mythic Iceland.

The setting, as already noted, is an imaginary Nordic-themed continent, which is protected from menacing giants by a huge Tree of Life that grows in its centre. Yet it is not your vanilla good guys-vs-bad guys setting: the interesting twist is that the "good guys" (the inhabitants of the continent who are, presumably, the people of the PCs) are themselves descended from ship-borne invaders who massacred the original, shamanistic inhabitants of the place.

The PDF file is only 15 pages long, yet it manages to offer pretty much everything that is needed for playing in a Nordic milieu within the MRQII framework: languages, currencies, calendar, character backgrounds (cultures & professions), lists of equipment, cults.

The setting could even be ported to Glorantha to be used in Valind, in Ygg's Isles, or in a similar cold milieu.

15 January 2013

My Sandbox

So if you're saying "Old School" you're saying "Sandbox". If you're saying "Sandbox" you're saying "Hex-map". Here's mine. Second Age Umathela, right smack in the centre of Enkloso, with the river Riogache slowly flowing through it in a southeast-to-northwest direction.

click to enlarge

Most of the area is ruled, or rather claimed, by Duke Roderick of Varanswal. The central area around the Mere (a large, cool lake) is ruled by his archrival, Count William of Arstranwal. The actual extent of both rulers' authority is along the major paved roads (black on the map), and along the minor dirt roads (light brown on the map). The rest is controlled by uncivilised Umathings— or worse!

I have already ran four adventures; three in the Harlan/Rampart area, one in Greenmound.

Note: 1 hex is 10km.

14 January 2013

A Malki City after the Closing

(Travelling to the city itself amidst the encroaching forest:)

A chill wind blew from the highest peaks, inspiring evil, and making a dismal rustle amongst the woods of chestnut that hung on the mountain’s side, through which we were forced to pass. I never heard such fatal murmurs; nor felt myself so gloomily.  I walked out of the sound of the carriage, where the glimmering moonlight prevailed, and began interpreting the language of the leaves, not greatly to my own advantage or that of any being in the universe. I was no prophet of good, but full of melancholy bodings, and something that bordered upon despair.

It was midnight before we emerged from the dark forest, and saw faintly before us the huts of the hamlet where we were to sleep. At our approach, two hags stalked forth with lanterns and invited us with a grin, which I shall always remember, to a dish of mustard and crow’s gizzards, a dish I was more than half afraid of tasting, lest it should change me to some bird of darkness, condemned to mope eternally on the black rafters of the cottage.


(Within the city itself:)

Nothing can be more sequestered or obscure than its situation. It had rather a deserted appearance; several of its houses being destitute of inhabitants, and crumbling into ruins. Two or three of them, however, exhibited ancient towers, richly mantled with ivy, and surrounded with cypress, that retained the air of having once belonged to persons of consideration.

We perceived among the grass an oblong basin, incrusted with pure white marble. Most of the slabs are large and perfect, and still retain their polished smoothness. The pipes to convey the waters are still discernible; in short, the whole ground-plan may be easily traced. Nothing more remains: the pillars and arcades are fallen, and one or two pedestals alone vouch for their former existence. Near the principal bath, we remarked the platforms of several circular apartments, paved with mosaic, in a neat simple taste, far from inelegant. Weeds have not yet sprung up amongst the crevices; and the universal freshness of the ruin shows that it has not been long exposed.

Stolen from Dreams, Waking Thoughts, and Incidents by William Beckford

08 January 2013

Robber Monks

Please give to the poor, er, to us.
Robber Barons are a well-known nuisance that plagues societies living in feudal anarchy— such as Umathela after it has severed all links with the Middle Sea Empire, and has started suffering from the effects of the Closing. I must absolutely post about Malki Robber Barons one of these days.

Today, however, I want to post about Robber Monks. These are less well-known than Robber Barons, but no less a nuisance. This post has been inspired by a book I'm reading about Muslim Sicily. In the book, mention is made of the famous Muslim traveller Ibn Ḥawqal, who wrote a travelogue on Muslim Sicily, the Ṣūrat al-’Arḍ, in which he complained that:

There are quite a few ribāṭ [fortified monasteries] on the coastline, full of freeloaders, scoundrels and renegades, both old and young, poor and ignorant. These people would pretend to perform their prostrations, standing in order to steal money given to charity, or to defame honourable women. Most of them were pimps and perverts. They sought refuge there because they were incapable of doing anything else, and because they had no place to go. They were low-life and rabble...

I love these guys! The concept of Robber Monks can be transposed to coastal Umathela. With the demise of central authority, and with the decrease in alms and donations, some of the fortified monasteries have to resort to extorting 'tolls' from travellers. Some others turn to outright banditry— or worse, as per the text above. Robber Monks needn't be poor and ignorant, though. The demise of Malki civilisation in Pamaltela is still an ongoing, recent phenomenon, so these monks still have access to their fortified monastery in good shape; the road they 'work' on is also in good shape, as are their weapons and their grimoires. All in all, these guys are formidable opponents, and most certainly lord it over a large swath of coastline.

Glass Tokens

Historically, some Muslim countries have relied on glass tokens instead of metal coins whenever metal was too rare to use it for coinage. The glass tokens in the picture to the left, for instance, are from ancient Bactria.

I do not have a map of metal ores in Umathela, and then I know Gloranthan metals are not geological in origin like their earth equivalents, but are mined from the bones of dead gods, so I don't have the slightest idea of the availability of metal in Umathela. However, I seem to recall that most battles betwen gods took place in Genertela; those that did take place in Pamaltela took place further south. My opinion is hence that metal is scarce in Umathela.

This is not a problem for the Umathings, whose trade is basd on barter anyway. It is, however, a problem for the Malki cities of the coast, especially now that they are cut off from the Middle Sea Empire and its supply of metal coins.

I have hence decided that the Malki cities of the coast are increasingly relying on glass tokens instead of metal coins. That will also add to the exoticism of Second Age Umathela☺

06 January 2013

The Good Scorpionwoman

Sleep Tight- Mother is Busy.
This beautiful drawing has been posted on Google+ by Sandy Jacobs-Tolle with the following comment:

The scorpions I'm most familiar with are called "hairy scorpions", and they live in the Sonora desert, including the places I used to visit as a kid.  They are big (5 inches), light yellow, and, unless you're a cricket, pretty harmless. So I got to thinking about scorpions without the baggage that people put on them for being evil and aggressive and venomous. When I found that this variety of scorpion gives live birth and carries its babies on its back, the idea just formed.

She's dressed and her hair is cut like an O'odham woman, of the tribes that live in the Arizona desert. She's got a basket full of de-spined cactus fruit (I figure once you get to a person-sized brain and its caloric needs, being an omnivore has its uses), and she, like her human neighbors, carries her baby on her back. 

Now, this is really fascinating. Scorpionfolk, especially in RuneQuest/Glorantha, being chaos creatures, have definitely always carried a 'baggage' of being 'evil and aggressive and venomous'.

Let us remember that Chaos is not so strong in Second Age Glorantha as it is in the Third Age.So why not imagine a lost tribe of non-Chaotic scorpionfolk somewhere in the Tarmo Mountains. It would be interesting to see how the PCs react to non-Chaotic 'monsters'.

05 January 2013

Twenty Quick Q&A for my Campaign

The following is a list of answers to Jeff Rients' twenty quick questions for your campaign setting. Well, kind of.

1. What is the deal with my cleric's religion?

You don't want to ask your "cleric" what his religion is. You don't want to get involved in hair-splitting theological disputes. Especially not in the kind of disputes between the Malkioneranist Wisdom Church and the Atroxic Church, which may end in bloodshed.

2. Where can we go to buy standard equipment?

To buy equipment, go to the nearest city. If you're OK to barter, you may try the closest fair or village.

3. Where can we go to get platemail custom fitted for this monster I just befriended?

Plate mail? I don't think your character will ever get that rich!

4. Who is the mightiest wizard in the land?

You don't want to start a pissing contest between a God Learner and a demonologist.

5. Who is the greatest warrior in the land?

One of the bad-ass Horali from one of the Malki cities on the coast. If asked, most Malki would say the greatest warrior in Umathela is Hergo II, Grand Master of the Rightness Templars. Some, however, would probably mention Nicephorus the Apostate, pirate ruler of the free city of Clission.

6. Who is the richest person in the land?

That's a good question. Some of the Malki merchants are really rich, but they're usually not bragging about their riches. Then most of the old lineage Malki families have managed to retain much of their wealth despite the recent catastrophes.

7. Where can we go to get some magical healing?

Alchemists may have healing potions to sell. They would be expensive.
Some wizards are able to heal, but they would only heal people within the same wizardly order as theirs.
Some heathen priests are able to heal, but they would only heal people of the same religion. Only the priestesses of Neiropha the Healer heal indiscriminately.
Herbalists prepare healing poultices. Not sure those would be considered as "magical" healing though.

8. Where can we go to get cures for the following conditions: poison, disease, curse, level drain, lycanthropy, polymorph, alignment change, death, undeath?

a/ poison
An alchemist's.

b/ disease
A shaman.

c/ curse
Depends on the curse. But usually that would be the wizard or the priest who inflicted the curse upon you in the first place.

d/ level drain
This is called Tapping in Glorantha, and is universally acknowledged to be the evillest form of sorcery. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Tapping.

e/ lycanthropy

f/ polymorph
The person who polymorphed you in the first place.

g/ alignment change
There is no such thing as 'alignment change' in Glorantha. The closest equivalent would be switching your cult loyalty, but that is something you do intentionally. Whenever you do switch your cult loyalty, you may be hunted down by your former cult's spirits of reprisal. Unless you find some magic or spirit protection, this can hurt.

h/ death
Priestesses of Neiropha the Healer may resurrect dead people. They would only do so for very important people, however, and certainly not for lowly adventurers. Also, this must be done quickly: once the soul has departed the dead body, there is no resurrection possible.

i/ undeath
The person who turned you into an undead in the first place.

9. Is there a magic guild my MU belongs to or that I can join in order to get more spells?

Your wizard obviously belongs to a wizardly order. Rogue wizards don't last long.

10. Where can I find an alchemist, sage or other expert NPC?

You can find them in the nearest city, at the court of the local ruler, in his exclusive employ. Only very large cities would have experts for hire.

11. Where can I hire mercenaries?

Depends on the kind of mercenaries you're looking for. If you're looking for soldiers able to fight as a unit, and to follow your orders, go to one of the cities on the coast. If you're looking for mere ne'er-do-wells who will fight for you in exchange for some money; well... you can find that sort of good-for-nothings pretty much anywhere in Umathela.

12. Is there any place on the map where swords are illegal, magic is outlawed or any other notable hassles from Johnny Law?

It is usually forbidden to walk with bare weapons in the Malki cities. In the small towns and villages of the hinterland, people will give you a wide berth if you're armed and look dangerous.

Magic is legal if you are a wizard— who is to stop a wizard? If you are practising heathen magic, you better be inconspicuous in Malki-ruled areas.

Murder, theft, unruly behaviour, etc. are forbidden everywhere, even in the tiniest settlements. Of course, the law enforcers may be weaker than the player characters, but they will be reported to the other urban centres of the area.

13. Which way to the nearest tavern?

Just round the corner.

14. What monsters are terrorizing the countryside sufficiently that if I kill them I will become famous?

Elves. Especially in this age and time when they're supposedly extinct.

15. Are there any wars brewing I could go fight?

Not yet...

16. How about gladiatorial arenas complete with hard-won glory and fabulous cash prizes?

How uncivilised.

17. Are there any secret societies with sinister agendas I could join and/or fight?

The Malki cities of the coast teem with secret societies with sinister agendas.

In the hinterland, where people live simpler lives, the only sinister secret society is the cult of Nontraya.

18. What is there to eat around here?

Wheat, barley, oat, buckwheat, silverbeet, parsnip, cabbage, legumes, olives, nuts, cheeses, fresh fish, smoked fish, poultry, dog, pork.

Wealthy Malki may have food imported from distant lands.

19. Any legendary lost treasures I could be looking for?

Oh, yes! That's actually why there are adventurers in the first place: to loot and plunder the legendary lost treasures of the God Learners!

20. Where is the nearest dragon or other monster with Type H treasure?

The Malki says— Dragons live up north in the heathen lands of the Empire of the Wyrms Friends. Believe me, you don't want to fight one.
The Umathing says— Dragons don't exist. Go and try to scare somebody else's children, stanger!
The Doraddi says— The Dragon sleeps deep down in the heart of the mountains. Do not awaken the Dragon! The world will come to an end if you do!

02 January 2013

Impromptu NPC and Place Generator

OK, so you've used my Random Adventure Giannirator to devise an adventure for your players. The adventure is now underway and —despite your having prepared it, of course— you suddenly need to flesh out an NPC the characters encounter, or a place the party arrives at.

Do not fear! I have prepared an Impromptu NPC and Place Generator for you! Contrary to the Adventure Giannirator, this particular gaming aid does need some preparatory work.

Just as the Adventure Giannirator had been inspired by an entry on Zak's blog, this present NPC and Place Generator has been inspired by the nifty inside cover of Zak's Vornheim book. The guy is a fucking genius. I hate him.

Take a transparent A4 (or letter-size if you're across the Pond) sheet of paper and divide it in 8 times 8 = 64 rectangles, i.e., eight rows and eight columns. Please leave some space on the sides to write some labels there.

Write the following labels on top of the first row, from left to right, above the eight columns:
13 - 13 - 14 - 15 - 16 - 17 - 18 - 18
These will be used for the primary attribute or keyword of the NPC.

Write the following labels below the last row, from left to right, below the eight columns:
These will be used for the size of the NPC/of the place.

Write the following labels on the left-hand side of the first column, from bottom to top, to the left of the eight rows:
These will be used for the archetype of the NPC.

Write the following labels on the right-hand side of the last column, from top to bottom, to the right of the eight rows:
These will be used for the place.

Last but not least, draw a small Gloranthan rune within each square, as per the picture below:

[click to enlarge]

You will need a D12 to create your impromptu NPCs and places using my magical sheet and a SINGLE die roll. Follow the simple steps below.

Impromptu NPC

1. Roll the die on the sheet. You may want to place the sheet within the cover of a wargame box to make sure the die stays within the expected bounds.

2. Check where the die has landed on the sheet: which row, which column, and what rune. Take note of the value rolled on the D12.

3. Look at the label on the left of the row; this is the archetype category of the NPC. The value of the D12 will give the exact archetype:

1-3: Jack-of-all trades
4-6: Journeyman / Crafter
7-9: Trader / Merchant
10-12: Farmer / Fisher

1-3: Hunter
4-6: Mercenary
7-9: Thane
10-12: Soldier

1-3: Scout
4-6: Thief
7-9: Assassin
10-12: Spy

D12 - MISC. 2
1-3: Shaman
4-6: Plant Brother
7-9: Healer
10-12: Nonhuman

1-3: Wizard
4-6: Priest
7-9: Alchemist
10-12: Herbalist

D12 - MISC. 1
1-3: Minstrel / Skald
4-6: Sage
7-9: Lawspeaker
10-12: Musician / Entertainer

D12 - 'LEVEL'
1, 4, 7, 10: Inferior
HeroQuest: Ability at 17
LotFP: Level 1
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 50%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +2
2, 5, 8, 11: Average
HeroQuest: Ability at 1Ш
LotFP: Level 3
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 75%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +4
3, 6, 9, 12: Superior
HeroQuest: Ability at 5Ш
LotFP: Level 5
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 100%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +6

4. Look at the label on top of the column; this is the value of the primary attribute (LotFP, RuneQuest/BRP, Tunnels & Trolls) or of the keyword (HeroQuest, please add 5) of the NPC.

5. Look at the label on the bottom of the column; this is the size of the NPC.

6. Look at the rune below the die; this may add a final twist to the NPC.

Impromptu Place

1. Roll the die on the sheet. You may want to place the sheet within the cover of a wargame box to make sure the die stays within the expected bounds.

2. Check where the die has landed on the sheet: which row, which column, and what rune. Take note of the value rolled on the D12.

3. Look at the label on the right of the row; this is the kind of place the party have stumbled upon. The value of the D12 will give the number of storeys (if needed):

1-3: single-storey houses only
4-6: some houses have more than one level
7-9: most houses have more than one level
10-12: most houses have more than one level, a few have more than two

1-3: three storeys
4-6: four storeys
7-9: five storeys
10-12: six storeys

1-3: single-storey
4-6: underground + one level above ground
7-9: two storeys
10-12: underground + two levels above ground

D12 - CITY
1-3: some houses have more than two levels
4-6: most houses have more than two levels
7-9: most houses have more than two levels, a few have more than three
10-12: multi-storey houses are common

4. Look at the label on the bottom of the column; this is the size of the place.

5. Look at the rune below the die; this may add a final twist to the place.

First Example

I have put the sheet within a box and rolled the D12 for our first example:

[click to enlarge]

 Let's go through it step by step, first for the NPC:
1. The die stops in the first row, seventh column.
2. Value rolled: 11.
3. Archetype: MISC. 1. The value rolled (11) yields us the following result: Musician / Entertainer of an Average level.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 1Ш, e.g., Brings Peace and Understanding with her Lute 1Ш
LotFP: Level 3, e.g., Level 3 Specialist
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 75%, e.g., Stringed Instrument 75%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +4, e.g., Stringed Instrument +4
4. On top of the 7th column: 18.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 18+5=3Ш, i.e., Entertainer
LotFP: 18, e.g., Charisma 18
RuneQuest/BRP: 18, e.g., APP 18
Tunnels & Trolls: 18, e.g., CHR 18
5. Size Large
6. The rune under the die is the Water Rune. This could mean, for instance, blue eyes.

Here's a possible description of the NPC met by the travelling party:
You meet what seems to be a wandering musician. She carries a lute and is quite large for a woman. She is very beautiful, with incredible watery blue eyes.

Let's use the very same roll for a place.
First row yields a FAIR.
Seventh column yields Large.
The rune under the die is the Water Rune.

Here's a possible interpretation:
At the end of the day, you arrive at the fairgrounds. There is a very large fair dedicated to fishing implements, boats, canoes. There are also many fishmongers, and trappers selling otter furs.

Second Example

Now why did I ask you use a transparent sheet of paper? Well, so that you can add another sheet below the transparent one to add yet another result to the roll.
For instance, upon rolling an NPC for my Umathelan campaign, I would also like to know where the NPC comes from, and still keep the single roll.
I have hence drawn a rough map of Second Age Umathela to be put below the transparent sheet:

[click to enlarge]
Now I add the transparent sheet and roll my favourite D12:

[click to enlarge]
Again, let's go through it step by step:
1. The die stops in the third row, third column.
2. Value rolled: 8.
3. Archetype: MAGIC. The value rolled (8) yields us the following result: Alchemist of an Average level.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 1Ш, e.g., Manufactures Healing Potion 1Ш
LotFP: Level 3, e.g., Level 3 Magic-User (specialised in Alchemy) OR Alchemist (retainer). Retainers do not have levels in LotFP; however, since this Alchemist is of Average level, we shall award a +1 bonus when rolling for research time improvement.
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 75%, e.g., Alchemy 75%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +4, e.g., Alchemy +4
4. On top of the 3rd column: 14.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 14+5=19, i.e., Alchemist 19
LotFP: 14, e.g., Intelligence 14
RuneQuest/BRP: 14, e.g., INT 14
Tunnels & Trolls: 14, e.g., IQ 14
5. Size Large
6. The rune under the die is the Fertility Rune. This could mean, for instance, that this alchemist is able to brew impotence-curing potions.
7. The Alchemist hails from southern Cerngoth.

The party has met an Alchemist from southern Cerngoth (so he's probably seen service with the God Learners). He's bright and he's skilled, meaning he'll probably want high wages and/or a good share of whatever treasure the party find should the PCs want to hire him.

Third Example

The map needn't be that precise. I know that appr. 66% of the inhabitants of Umathela are Umathings, so a simple sheet with areas in sizes that correspond to the various peoples will do:

[click to enlarge]

I add the transparent sheet on top of my crude drawing, and I'm ready for my third example:

[click to enlarge]

Let's go through the customary steps:
1. The die stops in the eighth row, sixth column.
2. Value rolled: 6.
3. Archetype: CITIZEN. The value rolled (6) yields us the following result: Journeyman / Crafter of a Superior level.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 5Ш, e.g., Basketweaver
LotFP: Level 5; however, "Citizen" implies a Level 0 NPC. We shall nonetheless award a bonus (e.g., +3) when needed because of the "Superior" result.
RuneQuest/BRP: Skill at 100%, e.g., Craft (Basketweaving) 100%
Tunnels & Trolls: Primary Talent at +6, e.g., Basketweaver +6
4. On top of the 6th column: 17.
If your system of choice is
HeroQuest: Ability at 17+5=2Ш, e.g., Crafter
LotFP: 17, e.g., Dexterity 17
RuneQuest/BRP: 17, e.g., DEX 17
Tunnels & Trolls: 18, e.g., DEX 17
5. Size Avg
6. The rune under the die is the Illusion Rune. This could mean, for instance, that this basketweaver is so crafty that whatever his baskets hold seems to be something else.
7. The die rests on the Pamalt Rune (= the NPC is a Doraddi).

The party has met a traveller from the distant lands south of the mountains: a Doraddi crafter. The man is specialised in the craft of basketweaving. His wares seem of excellent quality.

Fourth Example

The transparent sheet can be put on top of a book, as the need arises. This last example aims at creating a LotFP NPC from 17th century Europe. I will hence use an historical atlas.

[click to enlarge]
1. The die stops in the fifth row, eighth column.
2. Value rolled: 1.
3. Archetype: CITIZEN. The value rolled (1) yields us the following result: Jack-of-all-trades of an Inferior level.
I've decided the system of choice is LotFP, so: Level 1; "Jack-of-all-trades" would imply a Specialist.

4. On top of the 8th column: 18.
e.g., Dexterity 18
5. Size Avg
6. The rune under the die is the Fire/Sky Rune. This could mean, for instance, that this Specialist knows how to handle firearms.
7. The die rests on Transylvania.

Albrecht is a Saxon adventurer from Transylvania. He's notorious for his use of firearms, which has earned him the nickname 'Fiery Al'.