Sunday, January 28, 2018

Interesting Random Tables for RPGs

Since the earliest days of D&D, random generation tables have been a part of the game. Among other things they would allow a dice-driven random selection of NPC and monster encounters, magic items, and other objects that a group of adventurers might find while moving through the fictional world.  One of the more interesting uses has been sets of tables to generate whole environments.  This has included random towns, cities, dungeons (especially) and whole continents and worlds.

Excellent examples of this popped up very early not only in the original D&D books and supplements, but also in the excellent tables in the many early Judges Guild products (adventure settings and magazines). But the very best may have been Gary Gygax's dungeon generation tables in the 1st edition AD&D Dungeon Master's Guide.  Still loved and used.

Other very cool examples include the terrain/continent generation tools from the earliest versions of the ICE Campaign Law book (which, along with Character Law, would form the link between their early Arms Law, Claw Law, and Spell Law books, and the later whole Rolemaster idea).  Many, many other type systems appeared in print in the explosion of supplements and magazines in the 80s golden age of RPGs.

In recent years, many similar type offerings have been popping up both in Retro Clone RPG supplements, and the generally excellent sea of RPG blogs that aim at old school style roleplaying and DMing.  One of the most fun is the blog of  Jason Sholtis - the Dungeon Dozen  This a collection of many D12 tables of interesting (and sometimes whimsical) items to encounter in a fantasy RPG.  Jason has followed up the blog, with published collections of the tables (as of this writing, volume one is available in print or PDF, and volume two is coming soon).

One thing about the tables of Jason, is that in terms of topic, they are all over the place. Objects, people, conditions, monsters, locations - he covers it all. A great index has been compiled over at Blessings of the Dice gods by Jeff Russell. This is a great index to Jason's work.

random Dungeon start

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