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Random 5 Room Dungeon Generator

I had meant to do this for the August RPG Blog Carnival but missed it due to real-life problems.  However the idea stuck in my head so now it’s here, hope you enjoy.

Image (cc) miszla

This generator uses the 5 Room Dungeon model, which I always think works better as themes/areas than explicit rooms so the results are designed as hooks and inspiration so it fits better into your campaign.  As always, roll a set of polyhedral dice or use the JavaScript roller at the bottom of the post…

The d20 – The entrance:

  1. is up (or down) a sheer cliff.
  2. has become the lair of a beast.
  3. is hidden by thorny undergrowth.
  4. has soldiers camped outside.
  5. has sunk underwater.
  6. is guarded by a magical construct.
  7. was magically sealed.
  8. is guarded by an intelligent undead.
  9. has collapsed, is there an alternative?
  10. is haunted by vengeful spirits.
  11. requires a lost key (or keys) to open.
  12. is guarded by the local militia.
  13. is not located where the maps say it is.
  14. has been infested with giant vermin.
  15. can only be accessed using magic.
  16. is the home of an elemental or similar.
  17. is opened by machinery that is missing a part.
  18. is trapped in some way.
  19. is known only to a select few.
  20. is one of many, the rest are decoys or deathtraps.

The d6 – A group of:

  1. bandits
  2. refugees
  3. outcasts
  4. worshippers
  5. deserters
  6. criminals

The d10t – Challenge the party because they:

  1. have set many traps inside.
  2. want something from inside the dungeon.
  3. want something from outside the dungeon.
  4. have created a fiendish puzzle.
  5. seek help against the other inhabitants.
  6. are protecting the dungeon inhabitants.
  7. are frustrating the PC’s efforts.
  8. race the party for their objective.
  9. want to claim the dungeon for another power.
  10. died here or are dying, messily or agonisingly.

The d12 – The setback:

  1. a fake item or object
  2. switchbacks and dead ends
  3. lingering illusions
  4. a person who is not as they seem
  5. something from a character backstory
  6. a threat that was previously ignored
  7. the actions of a traitor
  8. the intervention of a divine force
  9. the intervention of an evil force
  10. hostages or bystanders
  11. something missing or incomplete
  12. sudden changes to the layout

The d4 – …mean(s) that:

  1. precious time may be wasted.
  2. resources may be used up.
  3. the party may get split up.
  4. a hard choice must be made.

The d8 – The final encounter:

  1. is the reverse of what was expected
  2. is hampered by the surrounding environment
  3. requires the party to split their focus
  4. has been designed as a lure or ambush
  5. features traps the enemy has set
  6. is against the clock
  7. is centred around a device or maguffin
  8. can be affected by something elsewhere

The d10u – The revelation:

  1. a former ally is revealed as an enemy
  2. a former enemy is revealed as an ally
  3. the treasure or objective is missing
  4. there is a hidden treasure hoard or map
  5. in the confusion, something is stolen
  6. in the confusion, something is dropped
  7. a clue highlights a new plot thread
  8. a clue turns a situation on its head
  9. a clue sheds light on something half known
  10. a clue reveals a hidden connection

Click to roll a 5 room dungeon


As always let me know your thoughts in the comments, and I would love to hear your dungeon ideas!

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Let’s imagine I’m starting my new campaign, and to keep prep low and help tie all the emerging plotlines together I’m using my 5×5 grid of Places, Antagonists, NPC’s, Things, and Scenes.

Image (cc) AsymmetricButterfly

I need something going on in the background, so I’m just going to roll up a random plot arc:

Crafted long ago by Lizardfolk, from the bones of a gargantuan beast to be wielded in a war against Undead, this is a spear of destiny. It makes the wielder speak in the language of the creator until attuned and is well balanced, or somehow blessed or guided, adding +1 to attack rolls. The wielder must avenge the death of the last hero who fell using it to awaken its powers, when it will become a +2 magic weapon that blazes on contact and deals an additional 3d6 damage to the intended enemies

This might be the main plot arc of the whole campaign, or it may never get any screen-time.  It doesn’t matter, it matters that it gives me some elements and a vague idea for a story.  The story can (and will) change, but that’s cool. That’s the point of the grid.  Quickly I scribble some stuff in:

Places The graveyard of the Gargants
Antagonists The massing forces of the Undead
Things The Gargantbone Spear

Now what about our characters’ stories?

Chatting with the players in the first session I find out:

  • The Dragonborn Barbarian seeks fame and glory, he seeks out a hermit who knows the whereabouts of the greatest beast in all the land…
  • The Halfling Paladin seeks to atone for his criminal past, and is drawn here to find and punish his estranged father for leading him astray from the path of righteousness…
  • The Human Bard seeks a piece of a legendary harp, broken in two. She was given the piece she currently has (and the story to go with it!) as a reward for saving a man’s life.
  • The Elf Monk was exiled for leading a revolt and now must gain enough gold to pay off his dues and return home

I scribble some more notes in my table, which will eventually help tie everyone’s stories together:

Places The graveyard of the Gargants
Antagonists The massing forces of the Undead Enemies of the Elf who would see him fail
NPCs The Hermit The Halfling’s Father
Things The Gargantbone Spear The Sundered Harp
Scenes The Slaying of the Beast The Restringing of the Harp

At the end of the first session – which is a one-sheet adventure unrelated to any of this and intended to help set the tone, introduce the characters, learn the rules, and again not worry about prep – the goblins the party encountered are scattered but unbroken. The PCs recovered a silver key from the chief’s corpse, and have decided to return to town to rest and resupply. Brilliant. I add:

Places The graveyard of the Gargants The Town of Fallowmarsh
Antagonists The massing forces of the Undead Enemies of the Elf who would see him fail The Goblins
NPCs The Hermit The Halfling’s Father
Things The Gargantbone Spear The Sundered Harp The Silver Key
Scenes The Slaying of the Beast The Restringing of the Harp

I can already start defining these things if (and as) I want; the Spear is done, the Town is probably going to be needed next session. I can draw up a quick sheet of enemies, NPCs, encounters etc. for each of the Antagonists and build a conflict involving one (or more) of them into next session too.

How do they all fit together? I have more questions than answers at this point, but that’s the point.  I let it all percolate in my head for a few days before I start connecting these elements in twos and threes to make some initial plot threads.  That’s for next time, I’d be interested to hear your ideas in the comments!

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One-Roll Random D&D 5e Characters

I have been working on a procedural character generator for 5e, as I find the system isn’t necessarily built around making characters interesting, but it’s involving learning a new language so is taking a while.  I’ll post it when it’s done!

Image (cc) Mikeypetrov

SO! Here’s a quick generator you can use now, with a reason to take non-minmaxed stats and a life event to add some inspiration for background colour.

Why not grab a set of polyhedrals or use the button at the bottom to generate someone interesting?

The d8 – Race

  1. Human
  2. Elf
  3. Dwarf
  4. Halfling
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Tiefling
  7. Gnome
  8. Half Elf or Half Orc

The d20 – Background

  1. Acolyte
  2. Charlatan
  3. Criminal
  4. Entertainer
  5. Folk Hero
  6. Gladiator
  7. Guild Artisan
  8. Guild Merchant
  9. Hermit
  10. Knight
  11. Noble
  12. Outlander
  13. Pirate
  14. Sage
  15. Sailor
  16. Soldier
  17. Spy
  18. Urchin
  19. (choose a background)
  20. (custom background)

The d4 – You adventure

  1. seeking revenge.
  2. for glory and fame.
  3. to pay off a debt.
  4. to find something.

The d10u – Formative life event:

  1. sold into slavery.
  2. lost something significant.
  3. orphaned or adopted.
  4. led a revolt.
  5. built something grand.
  6. accused of murder.
  7. saved a life.
  8. found a secret place.
  9. made a strange friend.
  10. had to leave town.

The d6 – You have unusually low or high

  1. STR
  2. CON
  3. DEX
  4. INT
  5. WIS
  6. CHA

The d12 – …for your class:

  1. Barbarian
  2. Bard
  3. Cleric
  4. Druid
  5. Fighter
  6. Monk
  7. Paladin
  8. Ranger
  9. Rogue
  10. Sorcerer
  11. Warlock
  12. Wizard

The d10t – This is due to

  1. a magical side-effect
  2. a domineering parent
  3. a curse or blessing
  4. a childhood accident
  5. a pact with a demon
  6. a job you took on
  7. a spell or potion
  8. time in captivity
  9. contact with a powerful item
  10. your unusual birth

Click to roll 5e Character

Hopefully this will help people like me roll up some unusual and interesting characters using the prompts, comments are always welcome and I’d love to hear your character stories below!

Note I only use the PHB races, classes, and backgrounds here.  Sorry but this is intentional as a) there are limited sides on a die and b) I’m not a fan of the bloat that comes with book after book of options.


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I have been playing around with ways to make my planning easier, more dynamic, and more focused.  The idea I’ve hit upon is mainly inspired by Technoir’s “Transmissions” and the sheets I had made to track the Enemies, Friends, Complications, Things and Places for each system in my Stars Without Number campaign.

Image (cc) Sheam Bo

I was using a 5×3 grid for SWN – one for each category for each tag I used, including the Trade tags from Suns of Gold, and it worked well.  However it didn’t feel like there was much continuity in terms of the plot, and I was keeping notes elsewhere on what was happening on and off screen. Given that the system is designed for sandbox games that’s fine, but in retrospect I think I overplanned here for my needs and should only really have had one of each category for background, side plots, and local colour – but that’s for another article…

Somehow I stumbled upon Technoir – I do love cyberpunk – and while I wasn’t a massive fan of the narrative system I was impressed by the way the game used the 6×6 grids of intentionally disconnected Connections, Events, Factions, Locations, Objects and Threats to drive dynamic story building. It’s been an inspiration.

I’m using 5×5 grids, not because 5×5 is a thing but because five is a good number of things and I could immediately think of five things I always prep:

  • Places; whether they be dungeons, settlements, areas of wilderness…
  • Antagonists; these are the faction sheets and monster lists I talked about last time
  • NPCs; whether they be friend or foe – especially as I don’t always like to decide beforehand how the party will take sides
  • Things; magic items, plot items, important buildings or monuments…
  • Scenes or Set-pieces such as “huge space battle” or “PCs framed for a murder”; these are the cool things you imagine and the events that will unfold
There’s been some slight shuffling to ensure these spell out the acronym PANTS but it works for me; it’s worth noting that you should use what works for you!  Each of these ways of categorising is similar enough to suggest that any would work as well as the others so tweak away.

The goals of this project are keeping prep low and being able to build a story dynamically without railroading or meandering, so the elements that go in this grid are the ones that I know I need to prep for the game, imminently or ultimately, and having a definite number means I can connect them as I go to build a complex story.  I’ll explain how in the future, comments as always are very welcome.

PREV Campaign Planning & Management Project NEXT

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Some important concepts from my work in computer software can definitely be applied to campaign planning. Let’s talk about two of them.

Separation of Concern
Think of any dungeon you’ve seen – or have written – with a map of the layout, lists of encounters for each room, key items and notes on where they are hidden.  How many times have you, as GM, had to skip, rearrange, shuffle or rebuild parts in response to the party’s actions?
Separating the elements means more flexibility.  The dungeon map doesn’t care what monsters lie within, generally, and the monsters don’t care what important treasures they guard. So if we plan loosely we can make it easier to change or add things on the fly.
Let’s say we have:
  • a handful of dungeon maps, with or without notes about key features
  • a page of magical or plot related items and a list of – or means to generate – treasure
  • a page for each faction/threat with a few common monsters, and some sketches of encounters at various levels if it’s that kind of game
Now it doesn’t matter if it’s goblins infesting Castle Blackkeep, or giants, or whatever.  If the PCs find a treasure you can give them anything you know (because you’re prepared) they might need to further the plot or defeat the Big Bad.
Similarly, if you know it’s important that the party finds certain clues, does it matter where or how they come across them? Plan to play dynamically because you invariably end up doing so anyway. By separating out all the important components you can combine them however works best.
This follows naturally from the above, and experienced GMs do this anyway, but planning to reuse things keeps prep times down.
Having a list of enemies and sample encounters for each group of antagonists means time saved because you only have to write the list once and you can use it over and over.
Having dungeons or areas that we can revisit – slightly changed – reduces prep and reinforces that the world is not on rails.  If you have a castle map and the players never go to Castle Blackkeep then you can just use it for another castle…
Returning to the goals of this project, keeping prep low and being able to build a story dynamically without railroading or meandering, these concepts are key. I need to plan and prepare elements that can be reused, mixed and matched, discarded or modified as the unfolding story demands.

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Infinity is an awesome game. I love how dynamic it is and the minis are brilliant. I hate how overwhelming it is for new players, which stems from:

  • Having many, many, special rules and equipment choices despite the elegance of the core rules.
  • There are no bad unit choices, so it’s hard to narrow things down.
  • Starter boxes contain a good mix of units but these are not necessarily beginner friendly – Haqq box I am looking at you!
When I started I bought as much Haqq as I could, mainly through bulk sales on FaceBook, and a few new pieces that I wanted because they were cool or because people on the internet recommended them.  Looking at my 7-800 points of unpainted Haqq and still having things I want, I can’t help thinking that – especially as a casual player – I should have taken a different approach…

Coming to Infinity – as any faction – I would recommend prioritising a usable and easy-to-learn 150pt force for playing Recon or Recon+ games.  Recon is a great format requiring minimal startup investment, as it’s low points, and minimal terrain as it’s designed to be played on a single terrain pack.  The limits on HI and Irregular troops will also help us keep things simple in terms of rules and narrow down our choices.

In the context of models that are available in blisters, or where a whole box can be used without waste, we’re looking for:

  1. Some specialists – preferably ones that can move up quickly – and a Lieutenant.
  2. A solid mid-range (somewhere between 8-24 inch sweet spot) assault piece.
  3. Some not-long-range general purpose or utility units to make up to 5+ orders.
  4. Ideally some plan to deal with armour or camo, and nothing too complex.

It doesn’t have to be perfect or even particularly optimal! The aim is to learn the game and have fun without too much expense or learning curve.  Looking at the releases at the time of writing, the following stand out:

  • The Naffatun box is the only box where all models could be used, and they can also field a Lieutenant (1) and have flamethrowers which can deal with camo and armour (4) to some extent.
  • The Ghulam Support box has two specialists (1), but would we use the Nasmats?
  • The Namurr (as Spitfire), Odalisque (Spitfire), Asawira (Spitfire), Ayyar (as Shock Marksman Rifle), KTS (Spitfire) blisters all meet the criteria for (2), and the Namurr and Ayyar count as Specialists too…
  • The Barid (Hacker), Farzan (Chain of Command), Hunzakut (Forward Observer), and Tuareg (Hacker) blisters all look usable for (1) – especially the Tuareg and Hunzakut who can deploy forward using Infiltration.  Also the Tuareg could proxy as a Doctor Plus.
  • The Fiday (Boarding Shotgun), Farzan (Minelayer), Bashi Bazouk (either), and Hunzakut (Rifle+LGL) blisters all look good for (3) depending how much complexity you want to add.
  • The Hassassin Ragiks pack has a Hacker who can deploy forward (1) AND a Spitfire (2) but also add some complexity, but it could be fun…
A few minutes playing with gives me this:
 NAFFATÛN Lieutenant Rifle + Light Flamethrower, Grenades / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 12)
 NAFFATÛN Rifle + Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 13)
 NAFFATÛN Rifle + Light Flamethrower, Grenades / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 12)
 NAFFATÛN Rifle + Heavy Flamethrower / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 13)
 NAMURR Spitfire, E/Marat, D-Charges / Heavy Pistol, E/M CC Weapon, Knife. (1 | 44)
 TUAREG Doctor Plus (MediKit) Rifle + Light Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 33)
 FARZAN (Minelayer) Boarding Shotgun, Antipersonnel Mines / Pistol, Knife. (0 | 23)
1 SWC | 150 Points
A secondary goal might be to expand this to around 250pts of mix-and-match-able units to start building 200pt armies on our first forays onto a full size table.  Here I’d expand the context to include boxes for lower AVA troops; if we’re mixing and matching we can expect not to use all of them at the same time. What do you think? Comments welcome!

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Image (cc) Cameron Daigle

I happened to chance upon the brilliant Twitter bot @doskvolscores and it prompted me to start thinking about bots and automation.

I had been playing with some of the old automation stuff the blog was set up with long ago; it seems the feed aggregators are mostly gone, as RSS has gone out of fashion, but the feeds are still going strong. They’re what power a lot of the links in the sidebar as well as the blogroll, so I started seeing what I could do with them.

I found my very old Twitter account – and managed to remember enough to reset the password to gain access – to use for a bot, more on that below, and set up an experimental Facebook pageIFTTT leverages many APIs (it seems) to pass data to social media, amongst many other things, so I’m testing whether this post makes it to them now!

In the spirit of supporting the blogosphere I’ve also tried to get to pass random posts from the networks to Facebook and Twitter, with mixed success. It’s easy enough to set up the inputs and outputs but some things I tried just didn’t work.

Check out how well it’s working here:

Hopefully I’ll get the time to repurpose my Twitter account to run a bot.  Initially I want to build on the Doskvol Scores bot code I found to post results from the blog’s various random generators, but Tracery looks such fun for recursive randomised string creation that I’d love to try some procedural character generators – and learn enough Python to be able to field and reply to requests:
@plaspoly roll me a d&d character
You are a [Gnome] [Barbarian] who [hungers to avenge [the theft of [your people’s ancestral lands] by [an elder god cult]]…
Any advice? Thoughts? Comments always gratefully received.

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Since my last Carnival post I’ve been thinking about Faerie NPCs, what sort of things they might want and what interesting trades they might offer unwary PCs … grab a set of polyhedral dice or use the JavaScript roller below to find out!

The d6 – Type

  1. Dryad or other female Fae
  2. Satyr or other male Fae
  3. Sprite or Leprechaun
  4. Pixie or Faerie
  5. Wild Elf or Gnome
  6. man-beast of some kind: Faun, Centaur, Kitsune…

The d4 – It has an aspect of

  1. spring – bright green shades, suggestions of flower buds
  2. summer – vivid colours, suggestions of flowers in full bloom
  3. autumn – red / brown shades, suggestions of fruits and seeds
  4. winter – grey or white shades, suggestions of bark or twigs

The d8 – It wears

  1. a silver circlet
  2. nothing
  3. fine clothes
  4. stitched rags
  5. a cloak
  6. an icon or brooch
  7. a magic ring
  8. human skin

The d12 – It carries

  1. a spear
  2. items wrapped in leaves
  3. a bow
  4. a silver bell
  5. a staff
  6. armfuls of fruit
  7. a sword
  8. a lock of hair
  9. two knives
  10. an injured animal
  11. a cudgel
  12. a covered basket

The d20 – It wants

  1. to know a secret
  2. to dominate someone
  3. to play a trick
  4. revenge on an enemy
  5. an audience
  6. to trade goods
  7. a true friend
  8. help against a foe
  9. to meet Royalty
  10. help for a friend
  11. eternal life
  12. to destroy something
  13. to die, but cannot,
  14. help to steal something
  15. to lift a curse
  16. to curse another
  17. to open a portal
  18. a specific item
  19. to close a portal
  20. undying love

The d10(tens) – It would (offer to, but not necessarily actually) trade…

  1. a love charm
  2. a bag of gold
  3. eternal life
  4. a handful of gems
  5. safe passage
  6. fine jewellery
  7. to undo a spell
  8. a magic item
  9. to cast a spell
  10. its servitude

The d10(units) – …In exchange for

  1. a drop of blood
  2. a lock of hair
  3. a language you speak
  4. a firstborn child
  5. the memory of a loved one
  6. your true name
  7. all memories to now
  8. the sight of one eye
  9. a day in your skin
  10. a terrible secret

Click to roll a Fae NPC

Thanks again to Pitfalls & Pixies for hosting this month’s Carnival, and to Of Dice and Dragons for the RPG Blog Carnival in general!  Let me know who you roll, and their plots, in the comments.

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Yesterday I took my two eldest to Ambush which is run annually by my FLGS at our local showground.  I wasn’t sure what to expect, and how long they’d want to stay…

  • After a look round the stalls we enjoyed an introductory game of Blood Bowl run by the local gaming club Wolds Wargamers.  Both of them had so much fun they wanted to buy a copy straight away! It was a close and very swingy game, ending in victory for my daughter from the jaws of defeat.
  • Both wanted to have a go at painting so we grabbed a free mini each and spent an hour or so in the painting area while the painting competition was being judged.  Suffice to say we didn’t produce anything that could compete!
  • We all got talking about all sorts of games – we didn’t even get to play any of the boardgames which I thought they would make a beeline for – and my son even wanted to have a quick game of Infinity when we got home, so all in all a positive experience.
Is this a shameless plug? Maybe … but it was a great event, all very friendly, and the work put in deserves recognition. It’s running today as well, and then hopefully back bigger and better next year.

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