14 January 2024

Random Fantasy Campaign Generator

The Random Fantasy Campaign Generator can be used as a prompt to create a setting and situation for a party's first adventure, and, perhaps, the initial focal point of a new campaign world that will expand with the party's travels.

Random Fantasy Campaign Generator

Starting Place

Roll 1d4

1. Outpost
2. Village
3. Town
4. City


Roll 1d4

1. Archipelago
2. Island
3. Continent
4. Supercontinent

Nearest Waterway

Roll 1d4

1. Stream
2. River
3. Lake
4. Sea

Nearest Geographical Feature

Roll 1d12

1. Barrow
2. Canyon
3. Cave
4. Desert
5. Forest
6. Hill
7. Jungle
8. Megalithic structure
9. Mountain
10. Plains
11. Swamp
12. Volcano

Most Prominent Architectural Achievement

Roll 1d12

1. Abbey
2. Castle
3. Fountain
4. Granary
5. Guildhouse
6. Library
7. Marketplace
8. Mill
9. Monument
10. Palace
11. Temple
12. Tomb

First Patron

Roll 1d12

1. Abbot
2. Alchemist
3. Elder
4. Guildmaster
5. Innkeeper
6. Local official
7. Merchant
8. Noble
9. Sage
10. Spy
11. Trader
12. Wizard

Best Place for Rumors

Roll 1d12

1. Castle
2. Den of iniquity
3. Dock
4. Fountain
5. Inn
6. Guardhouse
7. Marketplace
8. Shop
9. Stable
10. Tavern
11. Temple
12. Well

08 January 2024

Reviewing Reviews

There is a debate amongst some in the hobby—if not the industry—whether a review of a role-playing game is legitimate if the reviewer did not first play or run the game. The crux of the problem is this: Is it the game or the product that is being reviewed? Take chess for instance. One could review the rules of the game and the experience it produces as an activity, or one could review the physical components of the game such as the board and the pieces. Most role-playing game reviewers rely heavily on the latter because there is the added complexity that no two groups of gamers play exactly the same way. When they do address the rules (as opposed to the details of a rule book such as font, binding, type of paper, or quality/quantity of illustrations), they typically concentrate on how they think they will help or hinder the gameplay. Without experiencing the effect of the rules firsthand, they can only theorize whether a given rule is good or even necessary. And this will vary from gaming group to gaming group. One group might respond favorably to a game in which each player controls multiple characters whereas another might find it a nuissance. One group might consider an initiative rule to be novel and entertaining whereas another group might find it too time-consuming. All reviews are subjective. It is in their nature. I would merely suggest that reviewers draw a distinct line between a review of a role-playing game as a product versus a review of the same as an experience, because both are valid. Sometimes a rule looks better on paper than in practice, and sometimes the rules as written work better than you could have imagined. Too often I have made assumptions about a rule only to be proven mistaken at the game table. The proof is in the actual play. You can a) review the game itself, b) review just the physical product, or c) review the product and speculate about how it might work at the table. Just be clear about your approach.

[This article has been cross-posted here in Creative Reckoning.]

06 January 2024

Table: Secret Door Status

Sometimes a location in an adventure has secret doors that will never be discovered by the player characters using conventional means. This can be made easier for player characters who are actively searching in the correct area by giving them clues or by bestowing a bungling bonus, but if you need something a little more obvious, you could roll on this table...

Secret Door Status

Roll 1d12

1. Ajar.
2. Ajar and secretly trapped.
3. Cracked open.
4. Cracked open and secretly trapped.
5. Locked and obviously cursed.
6. Locked and obviously trapped.
7. Locked and showing signs of attempted entry.
8. Locked and showing signs of successfully activated trap.
9. Magically sealed with prominently displayed riddle.
10. Shut and marked by previous intruder.
11. Shut and obviously cursed.
12. Shut and obviously trapped.

N.B.: This can be used when creating an adventure location (such as a dungeon), but it's especially useful when applied to published adventures that might abound with dead ends and bottlenecks caused by the injudicious use of secret doors. Just make them impossible to miss.

03 January 2024