Modify idioms, swears and curses to increase unfamiliarity

If the idioms and swears are unfamiliar to the players, then they will feel unfamiliar to the characters. Use weird ones when the players are in a new or foreign region to make it feel more like they are elsewhere. Otherwise, use them in sci-fi and fantasy to remind the players of the world and its lore.

Idioms for unfamiliar regions

Heavy RainDeathAnger (ironic)Not very much
cats and dogskicked the bucketcalm as a laketwo shakes of a lamb’s tail
tables and chairssharpened the wrong knifehappy as honeyquick as birth (ironic)
axes are droppingbrushed it oversweet as applesbee’s feet
wheelbarrowssneezed the lotskipping twice overlight-by-thunder
stream of malletsbounced it twicepounds incount to one twice
raining frogshad half againflute, fiddle and freea cricket’s fart
ghost rainslept over and underclear as nightingales a life’s taxes (ironic)
old ladies and sticksmoved asidethirsty, hungry and sleepingladder’s down
poured from a bucketred and yellowhoneymooningthree pints gone
boats and barrelsdropped it allbunny eyed and bunny earedtop to top and half over

If challenged on the origin of these idioms, the locals don’t know why they say them, they’ve just always been said like that. Just like in real life.


Unproved theory: most swears relate to poop, willies, sex or gods

Extension of unproved theory: most poop, willy and sex swears are ‘four-letter-words’ and most ‘four-letter-words’ are poop, willy or sex swears.

In Farscape they say frell.

In Gaunt’s Ghosts they say feth.

In Battlestar Galactica (2004) they say frak.

Some of those are five letters long but they fit the format of a four-letter-word

Four-letter-word generator

Roll 3d8 to get a random start, vowel and end of a four-letter-word.


Some results might be real words but you could just reroll them with little effort.

You might want to roll to decide what the word represents, or you could choose based on how it sounds.

d4Type of swear
4something else

Swears relating to gods and such

If a swear invokes a name, I’m going to call it a curse from here on.

Curses in English are mostly about invoking the christian god’s name.

Cursing by literally saying/shouting the name can be replaced with the names of gods in your setting. If your setting is devoid of gods you can use a legendary figure.

Sometimes curses call upon an aspect or item of a character.

In Harry Potter some characters say Merlin’s Beard!

Marvel’s Thor similarly sometimes says Odin’s Beard!

An Arthurian character might exclaim By Excalibur!

I can’t really give you a random table that will work for your setting. You just need to spend 2 minutes listing a few possible curses and stick them somewhere in your notes.

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