My New Blog

Thanks for visiting my Parsantium blog which is now on hiatus. 

I’ve created a new blog,, where I will be posting about new game design projects and featuring session logs from my D&D games. I’ll be transferring the best content from this blog over there. 

Hope to see you at!

Happy Birthday Parsantium!

Four years ago, we published Parsantium: City at the Crossroads, a detailed city sourcebook designed for use with all editions of D&D and Pathfinder – including the soon-to-be released 5e rules.

Parsantium is a melting pot, a cosmopolitan place where trade routes meet and where great cultures collide. Inspired by Byzantium with its rich Greco-Roman heritage, it also incorporates characters, monsters and magic from the Tales of the Arabian Nights, ancient India and the Far East, alongside more traditional European fantasy elements. There are evil cults, scheming politicians and nobles, rakshasas and serpent folk, ancient dungeons beneath the city streets, and powerful criminal gangs, not to mention gladiators and chariot racing. The idea was to provide enough adventure hooks, patrons and adversaries in an edition neutral book to keep the PCs busy throughout your campaign, without them ever having to leave the city walls.


Parsantium started life in 2007 as the backdrop to my own 4th Edition D&D campaign, combining my two favourite types of setting – huge fantasy cities, such as Greyhawk, Waterdeep and Ptolus, and exotic campaign settings like Al-Qadim, Kara-Tur, and Rokugan. I ended up running two Parsantium campaigns from 2008 to 2015, and still revisit the city from time to time in one shot adventures.

When I wrote the material that went into my campaign (and later ended up in the book), I had only vague thoughts that one day I might turn it into something I could publish. But after doing a fair bit of freelance writing for Kobold Press and Raging Swan Press, I decided to give self-publishing Parsantium a go. I had hopes of selling a couple of hundred books and breaking even.


With the invaluable help of my amazing wife Kate, an experienced editor, Parsantium: City at the Crossroads was published in February 2014 after a year of research, writing, editing, layout, art direction and proofreading. It gone on to sell 1,500 copies, well beyond my initial expectations.

Since then, we’ve also released Icons of Parsantium, a collection of influential NPCs compatible with 13th Age, and Whispers of the Dark Daeva, a 1st level Parsantium adventure for 5e and Pathfinder. I’ve also written a number of free Parsantium articles for 5e which I’ve posted here on the blog.

In the last 18 months, I’ve been busy doing freelance stuff for Kobold Press, including work on the forthcoming Midgard Worldbook and Creature Codex and articles for the very cool Warlock Patreon. Hopefully, though, I’ll be able to return to Parsantium in the future.

I wanted to say a massive thank you to everyone who has bought Parsantium in the last four years, and to all those gamers who have chatted to me about the setting online or in person! I get a big kick out of hearing how you are using Parsantium in your games, so please do get in touch via Twitter or in the comments below.

And if you don’t already have a copy of Parsantium, you can pick up the PDF at half price at Drivethrurpg this weekend.

Whispers of the Dark Daeva for Pathfinder

Very pleased to announce that my 1st-level Parsantium adventure, Whispers of the Dark Daeva, is now available to buy for the Pathfinder Roleplaying Game. You can buy the PDF at or Paizo for just $4.99

Whispers of the Dark Daeva [Pathfinder]

Praise for the 5th Edition version (also available)
“A stirring adventure which gives the party a chance to make a name for themselves… It’s full of neat tricks to build up atmosphere and add to the realism of the town, as well as to provide a suitably creepy feel that grows along with the body count!” – Megan Robertson

“Each act and area in the adventure reads as well thought out, planned and as [if] the author has a real passion for what they’re writing and the world they’ve created – The Dice Trip

We spent a lot of time on layout for both versions to get the monster stat blocks on the same page as the adventure text. If you’ve run or read the adventure, I’d love to know what you think about this!


Old Quarter Commoner 5e Background

Following this weekend’s Twitter poll, here’s another 5e background: the Old Quarter Commoner. You can also check out the Gladiator and Bureaucrat.

I still need to do the Arcane Apprentice, Axe-Bearing Guard and Platinum Knight-Errant. Most of the other Character Backgrounds in Parsantium: City at the Crossroads have good equivalents in the Player’s Handbook (or in Kobold Press’ excellent Midgard Heroes).


You come from a poor family struggling to make ends meet in the Dock Ward or Poor Ward of the Old Quarter. You might be a Sampuran belonging to the shudra caste, a half-orc or an Aqhrani. Either way, you toil away as a labourer of some sort, although if you’re a half-orc you might do an “unclean” job such as tanning leather, slaughtering animals or working as an undertaker. Alternatively, you could be a street orphan, running errands for local merchants and acting as a tout or unofficial guide. Whatever you do, it’s an honest living, and you are part of a community of folk in the same situation, all of whom look out for each other. Life is hard, though, and you earn a pittance. If someone offered you a way to climb up the social ladder, you’d probably grab it with both hands.

Skill Proficiencies: Insight, Persuasion

Tool Proficiencies: One type of artisan’s tools or vehicle (land or water)

Languages: One of your choice

Equipment: a pair of bone dice, a letter of recommendation from a past employer, a set of common clothes and a belt pouch containing 10 gp


Roll or choose from the entries on the following table to determine the type of (generally unskilled) work you did before taking up the life of an adventurer. Skilled artisans and craftsmen are more likely to take the Journeyman background.

d12 Type of Work
1 Fisherman
2 Dockworker
3 Builder or general labourer
4 Slaughterhouse or tannery worker
5 Baker
6 Wagon driver
7 Tout or errand runner
8 Lamplighter
9 Sewer worker or dung sweeper
10 Undertaker
11 Prostitute
12 Bartender or waiter


You are at home among the tightly-knit communities of the Old Quarter, and can count on friends, neighbours and relatives for solidarity and support. Other hard-working poor folk will try and help you out if they are able to do so, providing you with information and sharing what little food they have with you if you are in need of a meal. If you are in trouble with the City Watch or one of the criminal gangs, you can find someone to hide you for a night or two, no questions asked.

Half-Orc Warrior

Art by Matt Morrow


Old Quarter commoners have led lives of poverty and hardship, surviving by dint of honest work, sheer bloodymindedness, and resilience. Some dream of riches and making it big, so they can turn their backs on the ward they grew up in for good. Others still feel a close bond to their family and their local communities, and want to make things better for everyone, not just themselves.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I take pride in my work. If a job’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.
2 My religion is a great source of comfort to me.
3 I support the Greens, through thick and thin. Blues supporters had best give me a wide berth.
4 There’s nothing better than a trip to the bathhouse at the end of a long, hard week.
5 My frankness and honesty often cause offence, but I find it hard to bite my tongue.
6 I try and sneak off early when the boss isn’t looking.
7 It’s not easy being a half-orc in this city. People sometimes cross the street to avoid me.
8 I’ll complain to anyone who’ll listen about how hard my day at work has been.
d6 Ideals
1 Aspiration. I’m determined to make a better life for myself. (Neutral)
2 Change. It’s not right that we in the Old Quarter have so little, and those in the Imperial Quarter have so much. (Chaotic)
3 Community. We need to look out for each other and keep each other safe. (Lawful)
4 Might. I’ve knuckled down and worked hard and where has it got me? It’s time to start grabbing the things I want! (Evil)
5 Family. I’ll do whatever it takes to provide for my family. (Neutral)
6 Respect. Just because we are poor doesn’t mean we don’t deserve to be treated with respect. (Good)
d6 Bond
1 I was born in the Dock Ward slums and they will always be my home.
2 My true love died three years ago and I still cry on her birthday.
3 I’m obsessed with the chariot races. Tarkhan Kadir’s autograph is my most prized possession.
4 The Friendly Society are my family too – I can count on them to stand up for our people.
5 My childhood friend has got mixed up with one of the gangs and it’s down to me to get him out of their clutches.
6 I’m going to prove to my mother that I can make something of myself.
d6  Flaw
1 I make a little extra on the side by doing some muscle work for the Golden Scimitars.
2 I find it easier to get through the day if I start drinking early.
3 I only take dash when I’m in need of a pick-me-up. I can stop any time I want.
4 I keep trying to win big at the Floating Palace but I just end up blowing everything I’ve earned.
5 My brother’s success makes my blood boil. One day someone is going to take him down a peg or two.
6 I know I shouldn’t have gone to the Winking Vixen. I love my wife and hope one day she will forgive me.

Bureaucrat 5e Background

It’s been a while since I’ve posted new content here – since Whispers of the Dark Daeva was published I’ve been busy working on the new Midgard Campaign Setting for Kobold Press.  Now that my Midgard chapters are done, I should have more time to write new Parsantium material and get the long-overdue Pathfinder version of Whispers finished!

Parsantium has always been a “city for all editions”. Here’s a new 5e Bureaucrat background, expanding on the character background in Chapter One of Parsantium: City at the Crossroads.


You have served in Parsantium’s vast and complex bureaucracy as one of the “beardless”, a junior civil servant. If male, you may be a eunuch, born to a poor family who handed you over to the authorities for schooling in return for a well-paid government job for life. Alternatively, you could be the second or third child of a wealthy Bathuran family, or a dwarf in the service of the Royal Exchequer. You may have done a superb job, or you may have spent most of your time daydreaming about dragons and dungeons rather than pushing paper around, but you’ve been overlooked for promotion several times now and your career is going nowhere. You have a good understanding of the workings of the corridors of power in Parsantium, including who wields influence over what, and which fancy hats and obscure job titles have the most prestige. You feel it’s now time to do something a bit more interesting with your life.

Skill Proficiencies: History, Persuasion

Languages: Two of your choice

Equipment: an impressive hat, robes of office, an ink pen, a bottle of ink, 10 sheets of parchment, and a purse containing 10 gp.


You are familiar with the labyrinthine structure of Parsantium’s government and can navigate through the many departments of its bloated and corrupt bureaucracy with ease. You know how to track down useful information in the city’s bewildering Hall of Imperial Records, and the right officials to approach to get your request for access properly notarized . You also know which forms you need to fill out (in triplicate!) to obtain most permits and licences, allowing you to complete your business smoothly and quickly, and without having to pay bribes to expedite the process.


Art by Marc Radle


Bureaucrats have spent a long time in the halls of the Curia, learning how to deal with mountains of paperwork, and mastering the etiquette needed to influence high-ranking officials.  This has shaped how they view the world: some are glad to be free from the regimentation they laboured under; others feel most comfortable when things are structured and there are rules to follow.

d8 Personality Trait
1 I write important notes to myself on the back of my hand.
2 I get distressed when other people don’t put things away in their proper home.
3 Lies trip off my tongue, even when it would be easier to tell the truth.
4 I’ve have had enough of petty rules and regulations.
5 I love being outside and feeling the sun on my face.
6 I stay calm under pressure, and can usually find an effective solution to whatever problem I’m faced with.
7 I have a friendly way with people that puts them at their ease.
8 My handwriting might look like an illegible scrawl to you, but I can read every word.
d6 Ideals
1 Order. Everything must be properly recorded to ensure the smooth running of the government. (Lawful)
2 Generosity. I do my best to help those in need. (Good)
3 Greed. I can make that happen but only if you make it worth my while. (Evil)
4 Freedom. Rules are meant to be broken. (Chaotic)
5 Aspiration. I work hard to make something of myself (Any)
6 People. I care more about my friends and family than filing. (Neutral)
d6 Bond
1 I am profoundly grateful to my mentor who helped me progress through the ranks, despite my lowly background.
2 I uncovered evidence of the Pavone family’s corruption but dare not tell anyone what I found.
3 I’m very proud of my hat – it was presented to me when I was promoted to Principal Secretary at the Department of Mercantile Affairs.
4 Every copper sestertius I earn goes to my family in the Poor Ward.
5 House Ziper bribed me to “lose” the deeds to valuable property owned by House Laro in the Hall of Imperial Records. I hope no one finds out what I did.
6  One day I will get my revenge on the petty tyrant who blocked my transfer out of the Department of Night Soil Management.
d6  Flaw
1 I find it hard to trust anyone.
2 I get very angry when people don’t fill out forms correctly.
3 It’s hard for others to hold my full attention for long.
4 My job was so dull I started taking cloud nine to get me through the day.
5 Some people say I’m tactless. I prefer to think of it as honest.
6 I’ll do anything for a quiet life.

Any comments or feedback welcome.  If you enjoyed this post, why not check out the gladiator, the gnoll, the vanara and trinkets?

Yggdrasil and Midgard

Two (maybe even three) years ago I wrote a Parsantium article called “The Other Crossroads City” for a fanzine for Wolfgang Baur’s excellent Midgard setting. As some of you may know, the original Parsantium campaigns included several Midgard adventures, including Wrath of the River King, Courts of the Shadow Fey and Halls of the Mountain King.

Now, as I’m working on the updated Midgard setting for Kobold Press, the fanzine has finally been published!

Called Yggdrasil, it clocks in at nearly 100 pages and is absolutely free. You can download it here from Paizo.


Also, if you are interested in Midgard, a dark fantasy setting for 5th Edition D&D and Pathfinder, influenced by Central and Eastern European folklore, check out the Kickstarter.

Hammers & Nails – AetherCon V video

Back in November I appeared on a panel at AetherCon V called Hammers & Nails: What Goes into a Good Town? discussing worldbuilding and cities in fantasy RPGs.

The panel was hosted by Craig E Goad of Star City Savages, and also featured John Bennett (Raging Swan Press) and James Gantry (Rogue Blade Games). I enjoyed doing it and got to talk a fair bit about Parsantium.

You can now watch the video on YouTube 🙂

Latest News

Hope you all had an enjoyable Christmas and are looking forward to 2017!

Whispers of the Dark Daeva has been out for over a week now and I am very happy with how it’s been received. It’s had three positive reviews already which is fantastic!

Whispers of the Dark Daeva [5e]<

Megan Robertson gave the adventure 5 stars and wrote:
“A stirring adventure which gives the party a chance to make a name for themselves… It’s full of neat tricks to build up atmosphere and add to the realism of the town, as well as to provide a suitably creepy feel that grows along with the body count!”
Read the full review

Tim Baker also gave the module 5 stars. Tim says:
“As a long-time fan of the Parsantium setting and a 13th Age GM, this adventure has a lot going for it.”
Read the full review

Finally, Liam Gulliver reviewed it on his news and reviews site, the Dice Trip:
“Each act and area in the adventure reads as well thought out, planned and as [if] the author has a real passion for what they’re writing and the world they’ve created
Read the full review

I’m also delighted to report that you can now buy all three Parsantium products at Open Gaming Store. Parsantium: City at the Crossroads is included in their 12 Days of Christmas Sale at 30% off.


Looking forward, we’re hoping to get the Pathfinder version and POD editions of Whispers of the Dark Daeva done early in 2017. I’m doing some freelance work for Kobold Press at the moment which is keeping me busy but I’m also thinking about what’s next for Parsantium. This could be another adventure to follow on from Whispers, a 5e player’s guide with new races, backgrounds and class archetypes, or a guide to the wider world.  Let me know what you would like to see in the comments.

Happy New Year! 🙂

Whispers of the Dark Daeva now on sale!

It’s taken longer than expected but I’m very pleased to announce that my new Parsantium adventure for #dnd 5e, Whispers of the Dark Daeva, is now on sale at 🙂

Whispers of the Dark Daeva [5e]

Thanks to all the playtesters who helped make the adventure better, and to Kate for doing the editing and layout. Hope you all enjoy it!