Stories in the Outer Reaches and Off The Beaten Path

Everyone understands the value of playing a role-playing game in a familiar setting. The streets are filled with recognizable characters and fruit carts, and who doesn’t want to know the apple they’re buying is top notch, even if it’s a pretend apple?

But it’s not just Skywing elves who have wanderlust. All elves and humans (Xadian and Earthling) know that wild adventure comes with unexplored areas, and some gorgeous official maps of Xadia exist with thousands of miles of uncharted territory. 

Narrators, let’s huddle up and talk about how to take players into those mysterious places!  

Your Secret’s Safe

Feeling authentic to the show gets tricky! It can feel weird when you invent a city and then while watching a future, hypothetical episode of The Dragon Prince Rayla refers to the area as a desolate wasteland stretching for miles.

Luckily, there are limitless forests, oceans, mountains, and tundras to choose from, each full of unlabeled ambiguity. Want a biome you don’t see? Just get a little vague about where it is on the map, or call it a magic plane. Or do what I did in The Tale of the Lost Oasis and have the town float above the map!

By making the location a great unknown, you can also have fun with the way PCs find out about it. It could be the whispers of a thief or the translation of ancient runes. There’s a reason it’s not on the map! Perhaps it even contains and individual who has worked hard to keep it that way.

Filling The Blank

Just don’t be intimidated by lore. That’s what is key. Lore is to be “respected” rather than feared, so to speak. Use it when you can, but don’t let it ruin your day! Because it’s only there to be loved and enjoyed– this is your big chance to feel empowered by a contribution to this rich world.

Examples of locations you could place on blank map spots could include–

  • A steamy beach where lava runs into the Gulf of Tenebris
  • A tiny, hard to see island in the Independant Isles
  • A town hidden deep in the Evenerean jungle swamp
  • A magical Neolandian city that only appears in close proximity, like a reverse mirage
  • Underwater ruins under the sea amongst the Shiverglades

None of those places is canon, not at all. I made them up just for you while looking at the official Xadian map available on I’m sure you can magic up something yourself with an illustration that rich!

Inspiration for Your Table

Cortex can tell virtually any story! Get into the  Tales of Xadia newsletter, and our YouTube channels feature fun playthroughs of our tales!

Creating a Creature Quest Tale

As the author of three published tales for Tales of Xadia, there are few things I love more than when I hear fans dreamt up some tales of their own. While I’m obviously honored to have people play the ones I came up with, my heart is invested in the continuation of this game into your imagination. Hence why I’ve focused so much on tale inspo lately! I hope that what I share today gives you a sense of how even the seemingly minor characters can shape an entire story.

Small But Mighty

A personal and fan favorite Narrator Character that I have cooked up is Wiggy the Chicken. A mere background decoration for some folks’ iterations of my first tale, The Lost Oasis, she could easily be upgraded to an asset. For April Fool’s Day of 2021, I even upgraded her to a full-on catalyst character in the Tales of Xadia newsletter. She was all personality and could dominate through sheer pluck and sass, even without the power of speech.

Plucky, sassy, independent, loyal, brave, outgoing, silly. These are some of the words I like to ascribe to Wiggy. So though she may not speak, one can imagine all the choices she would make in reaction to a variety of improvised player choices. A player character with Wiggy roosting on their shoulder draws their sword? Perhaps Wiggy would pluck out a feather and wield it in a similar, if inadequate fashion. (No “pluck/plucky” pun intended.)

So, while flipping through the Tales of Xadia Game Handbook, pause on a section like the one we dedicated to creatures. Maybe one of them reminds you of a personal pet based simply on their illustration, or another has a broader kind of personal resonance. For me, I immediately look at the zogmoppet and think, wow, if that weird walking eel was real I can imagine it getting up to some serious mischief.

From Ambler To Zogmoppet

So let’s invent a zogmoppet NC! And yes, let’s go with the obvious name of Ziggy.

Here are some traits you could imagine Ziggy has, two of which you’d select, then get a trait die:

  • Mischievous
  • Snarky
  • Greedy
  • Selfish
  • Wiggly
  • Dancer
  • Stealthy Slitherer

Let’s say you decide on “Wiggly” and “Selfish.” A fun start, right? But with all those spare traits, story ideas might come flowing out of you as you imagine these traits being ascribed to other aspects of your tale! Here are some tale details you can jot down once you decide what you’d like:

  • In the native land of zogmoppets, Evenere, there are many other mischievous swamp creatures.
  • Hiding in this human kingdom is a snarky Moonshadow Elf.
  • Another nearby person is a greedy dark mage.
  • The dark mage and Moonshadow elf hate each other, like many elves and humans do, but their stories collide at a local Evenerean seasonal dance.

See how the unused traits inspired these ideas? They all came from the brainstorming of that one little zogmoppet, adding some tone and flavor to your clean slate. Hopefully getting you eager to create even more details!

For more on these adorable zogmoppets, get yourself a copy of the Tales of Xadia Game Handbook!

Inspiration for Your Table

There’s so much more to Cortex! If you subscribe to the Tales of Xadia newsletter you can learn all about it, or watch our YouTube and Twitch channels for some playthroughs of our tales!