Monday, September 14, 2020

The Palace Semi-Infinite

The implicit setting of PALACE RUN. The palace is richly-appointed, labyrinthine, and endless. Some would say “infinite”, but it is surely partly bounded as it has relatively easy access to the outside. The format is from Jack Shear, although I’m sure I haven’t done it justice.


  • Whole rooms of one color or material, tables set for hundreds, imperial staircases, gilt-framed family portraits, exotic tributes and gifts, the slow approach to the throne.
  • Scaffolding for renovation and construction; kitchens so large they have their own weather systems; secret doors, passageways, and whole hidden complexes for servants.
  • Vast unread libraries, dusty rooms of unknown purpose, sacred crypts and chapels, a lonely child exploring.


This is an RPG and not a fable. These are ideas to be interrogated, not morals to be enforced.

  • “The rich are different from you and me.”
  • Hierarchy scales poorly. Bureaucracy fills the gaps.
  • Systems are people. Ritual, habit, and operational discipline hold them together.


The core of PALACE RUN does provide some rough motivations (“Enrich”, “Entertain”, “Escape”, “Ingratiate”, “Investigate”, and “Overthrow”), but these hooks have a little more meat and should work in a more traditional set-up.

  • The Duchess of the North Wing is to be wed this week, but the baker’s union is striking for better working conditions after a recent outbreak of “doughlung.” She will pay handsomely for a cake, but the provider risks being marked a scab.
  • The palace is of such scale that at any given time, some portion is on fire. The palace bucket brigade does what it can, but after the fire passes through, there’s always work to be done. An imperial magistrate had to abandon their staff of office while escaping, and will pay handsomely for its return. What else might be found if you can beat the recovery crews?
  • The youngest prince of the Southwest Expansion has gone missing! He’s only seven and he was last seen in the Bronze Armory, fiddling with a strange gauntlet.

Designer’s Notes

The first thoughts I had of the Palace Semi-Infinite were merely “what if the adventure site were so fabulously wealthy that it really stopped mattering?” But in the years that it’s stewed since, I think it’s gotten significantly weirder, and hopefully better.



  1. Replies
    1. Thanks! I've had ulterior motives (obviously) for keeping such a close eye on Goblin Manor, but it's truly been a pleasure to watch it come along.

  2. Yes Gormenghast is so evocative. Love it!

    Some part of the palace being on fire at all times gives a great idea of the scale. It's as large as a city. Bigger maybe even.

    1. Yes! Semi-infinite is still infinite, after all. The idea is always a little fuzzy around the edges, but the bucket brigade and the remodelers have always been part of it. Martin O's Infinity Hotel might be partly to thank for that.