Grim Lands Adventure

Already available:
Already available:
Upcoming games:
Upcoming games:
Games funding – thanks!
Games funding – thanks!


Be your own game master!                                        Compatible with many TTRPG systems


 “Terrible things are happening in the most distant borderlands,” says the emperor. “Odd monsters occur there, we’ve lost outposts under unknown circumstances, and dark sects seem to gather. In short, we know nothing for sure, but people desperately call for help.

So, I send you, my best scout! Do not interfere, just write the most thorough report. Power will be used then.”


The adventure in the gloomy borderlands unfolds in two different phases:

I. Scouting & Reporting

II. Solving the Problem

I. Scouting & Reporting

This initial phase may consist of multiple scouting expeditions. After finishing them, you move to phase II.

Scouting means that you browse through the pictures, trying to identify monsters, characters, and events depicted and then you report your findings on the backs of the cards. In the words of game mechanics, you may write the name and stats of the creature there (based on your favorite TTRPG system bestiary or your creativity) so that you see precisely what kind of encounter you are facing when you play this card during the adventure in phase II.

Thus, you build a deck of dangers (and cures/loot – don’t forget about them!) that you will try to beat later.


Setting event/creature stats

Choose a TTRPG system you want to use for your playing. Identify monsters/traps/NPCs/events according to the corresponding bestiaries or tables (you can always adjust anything based on your creativity or bring new stats/names) and write the “findings” on the back of the card. Try to be brief, leaving enough space below for eventually translating it into another system or for editing the stats/effects, adding more loot, etc. (“roguelite approach” mentioned below). You can also add card titles, brief stories or other notes – write them above all the stats so that they can serve all the different systems below on the card. Eventually add some escape options (with penalties) to harder encounters.


Setting the aim(s) of the game

Scouting the grim lands, do not hurry. Before setting stats/events, try to figure out what is happening in the big picture. Is it just a rebellion of lands too distant from the center? Or is something vile behind it? Have evil cults arisen? Is there a mastermind behind the evil, for example, elder gods reclaiming their rights? Must the solving party just clear the area of all monsters or is there a specific mission based on the plot the scout revealed (boss hunt, key items, etc.)? Also, remember that the aim of the game does not need to be the same for all upcoming adventures. You can go on one quest once and for another mission with another party next session. Unleash your creativity!


II. Solving the problem

Phase II is about going through the dangers that you prepared in phase I, with a TTRPG party that you create in between these phases.

Phase II may consist of multiple tries too. Between them, you can occasionally return to phase I, rewriting some stats, adding more loot, etc., as squires of an unsuccessful group return with more precise reports for the benefit of the next groups that may be sent (you are incorporating sort of roguelite mechanics this way).

Next, we suggest a way to play the cards, i.e., how to move in this world, but you can use your own creative approach based on it (as with everything in this adventure).


Moving in the Grim Lands


Once your set of cards have the necessary stories and stats on their back, your mighty party is ready for a dangerous adventure. Prepare the party according to your RPG system, but keep in mind that the emperor has many problems to solve, and he must conserve his energy by sending a group that aligns with the needs listed in the report. Then comes the most important decision: how to move within these dangers! Should you just keep taking one card after another?


An adjusted DOOM PILGRIM input is recommended as a better option:

Provided that you have at least 40 cards ready and that you play for “clearing the area from danger”, choose say 20 of them at random for the easiest difficulty, 30 for medium, and 40 for hard. (If your game is not about just beating the whole deck, make sure to include all the “key cards”). Shuffle and set the deck pictures up.

Each turn, proceed like this:

Draw 3 cards. Based on the images only, you make a decision:

Put 2 of them, in any order, on the top of the second, “RETURN” deck (not existing in the 1st turn): These are the places you have missed now but will have to go through when returning. Play the remaining card the way that you turn it, read, and face the event. Use dice, sheets, etc. from the system you use. Discard the card if you beat it or put it to the bottom of the RETURN deck if you escape (under some conditions or penalties).


Important: Once there are fewer than 3 cards left in the main deck at the start of any turn, put them on the top of the RETURN deck in any order. And now you return through all the dangers you left behind, taking just one card after another, with no choices now, trying to survive your way back after having delved deep into the grim territories.


If you wish, you can also adopt the original, not adjusted DOOM PILGRIM mechanics (rules are free to download) or you can even make effects of the cards based on the DP system if you don’t want to use more complicated TTRPG rules. You can play multiplayer too (with a real GM?) or use the cards any other way you want. More tips may appear on:


Note: Your decisions are not totally blind: Your memory of card effects represents having a good report/map at hand. But also make randomized or ambiguous effects to mitigate the fact of the self-designing!

You can also deepen the story after a successful mission: For example, if you statted only creatures in the front of the scene on the picture, now you can add also castles/caves depicted in the background.


The damned foul lands at the world’s edge might be better left to their own fate.

The empire is big enough without them. But what if they are gathering forces there?

And you are not the emperor, so don’t think, take your sword and go!


© Waclaw Traier, War Claw Games, 2023