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GM resources

Started by Ben Miller, January 20, 2004, 05:04:43 PM

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Ben Miller

This is probably off-topic... or perhaps not?

My question is just whether anyone knows of a good set of tables/charts that as a GM I can use to 'randomly' generate encounters, locations, npcs?

I'm specifically after stuff that would be relevant to a high-fantasy setting (think Hyborea or Dying Earth for style, but any generic fantasy would do).

This seems be a common problem in play for most GMs - I find problems thinking up a name for a NPC that the players suddenly want to interrogate.  Also, I want to allow my players the head off the beaten track and would like to be able to quickly generate an interesting scene or location for them.

I've seen that there is a thing called the GM's Toolbox published by AEG(?) but that seems to be d20 and possibly D&D specific.

I'm guessing that somebody has come up with groovy tables for this sort of thing, so I don't want to reinvent the wheel (just yet).

Sorry if this is deemed off-topic - it's testament to the knowledge of the people at the Forge that I felt this was the best place to ask to get considered and non-D&D centric suggestions.  (Will blatant flattery save me?)


Mike Holmes

Holy cow, this has been done a ton. There are loads of products that do what you're looking for. For example, have you looked at the old Judges Guild products? For example there were ones called Village, and Castle, etc. that in addition to having all sorts of maps of these things had random tables for generating contents. There was a book of names (what's that thing online, onamasticon?)

Today many of these sorts of services are available from online servers. Check out:

That should be a good start.

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Ben Miller

Thanks for the response Mike!

Right, yes, I thought there must be lots of this stuff.  I've never been one to buy this sort of stuff (even when I used to GM a lot some years ago) and over the last years or so (now I'm getting back into the RPG scene) I don't quite know where to turn for this sort of stuff.  (I'm sure my ability to handle situations my players spring on me is worse than it used to be when I was in my teens!)

Ideally I want something I can print out (or buy in hard-copy) that has charts you roll on.  I'm not keen on having my laptop there during the game (I get distracted by it and it takes up my table space).

I've seen the online map generator stuff, btw, but that's not really what I'm after.



Well, you could take a look at Savage World's 50 Fathoms game.  This is essentially a GM tool kit that is custom designed around a particular world and a particular meta plot, but the idea behind it is to let the players pretty much "do anything" and challenge them with random encounters.  Some locations have short mini adventures tied to them and some of the random encounters lead to these short mini adventures (which as they are completed open up other mini adventure possibilities) and some of these mini adventures turn out to be (unknown to the players) to connect together to reveal the metaplot of the campaign.

The campaign itself is fairly linear (although there are two different approaches to reach the climactic scene) but because of the random nature of how the elements get introduced it can be pretty open ended.

Its not generic, its tailored to the setting and storyline of 50 fathoms but it seems to be an effective GM campaign design aid for that specific campaign anyway.

Bob McNamee

This is one of my more favorite name generating pages for fantasy

For Real World

For generation of various random game stuff

PS: Loved Judges Guild Stuff back in the day...
Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!


Hi Ben,

Another useful reference tool for me is artwork and photos.  It never hurts to have a couple of art books and magazines floating about to flip open, and point to for cloths, characters, or locations.  Magazines for travel, fashion, videogames, and whatever else fits the game are great.  


Ben Miller

Thanks for the ideas (esp. Bob - those are good sites).

Now I just want some tables that I can print out and roll on!


What I do if I am really really stumped is I open one of my gamebooks and mix and match from the credits page. For a fantasy setting I might take the name backwards and add a few vowels/consonants.

For plot ideas you might wanna check out:
back again


Bob McNamee

Chris Pounds site listed above is my other favorite...especially good fr Universalis where you never know what you might need.

For a very humorous, mostly 4 color Supers game you might try

The (Useless) Super Hero Generator
... lots of generic fun!
Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!

Bob McNamee

Don't Forget some of the links available through the Forge.
Check out the Resource Library-Practical Design Resources page
Bob McNamee
Indie-netgaming- Out of the ordinary on-line gaming!