Random Generators

Random Generators

Before we get started talking about random generators, Bone Marshes has funded!!!

WHOOOO!! I can’t wait to get started on layout and artwork on this beast. Bone Marshes is truly something special, and I cannot thank you all enough for your support.

With that out of the way

To keep myself from constantly hitting “Refresh” on the Kickstarter page I started poking around with the idea of making a random generator.

For those unaware, one of the philosophies OSR games is that of randomness. Randomness not only with dice rolling, but with combat encounters, magic items, and even entire adventures and quests.

Gardens of Ynn is probably the best example of an adventure that relies heavily on randomly selected elements. Hot Springs Island is another excellent example.

Creativity from Conflict

On the surface random elements are simply a way to stretch content further. It’s one thing to fight a dragon, it’s another thing to fight a {Color} Dragon that breathes {Element}. For a little while these small variations can be fun and exciting.

But there’s more to randomness in RPGs than content.

Ynn generates each area with a Location (flowerbed) and a Detail (scorched). 35 locations x 35 details can give a lot of variety, which is fine. But how different will those locations really be? A scorched flowerbed is only a little different from a frozen flowerbed.

Video games bump up against this problem a lot. Procedural elements can get kinda….samey after a while.

But RPGs have an edge to prevent this: the Game Master.

It’s up to the GM to use random results and distill them into a cohesive experience. To give an example from Ynn:

Location: Magical Fountain. Detail: Frozen

Wait…how does that work? By default the fountain has a bunch of rules for throwing coins in, making wishes, drinking the water, etc. But this Fountain is frozen over! Doesn’t that break everything?

No. In fact, because the GM needs to make sense from these facts, each combination gains so much more life.

Maybe the PCs have to chip the coins out with tools to retrieve them while fighting off monsters. Maybe they need to use fire to melt the fountain before it can be used. What if the water has different magical properties when frozen?

While randomness in video games can get repetitive, RPGs thrive on randomness; especially conflicting randomness. It forces creativity and ends up creating something more than either of its two parts.

My generators

So I’ve dipped my toes in the water and tried my hand at making my own generators.

The first is a character generator for Bone Marshes. Super useful for playtests; it lets you jump right into the game.

Bone Marshes Character Generator

The second one was a Gardens of Ynn generator. I took almost the complete text of the book and distilled it into an easy, mobile friendly tool that lets you create garden with a SNAP. Or CLICK. You get the idea…

Stygian Library Generator

The third one was a Stygian Library generator. Written by the creator of Ynn, this one generates libraries!

Gardens of Ynn Generator

Let me know what other generators or tools you’d like to see. I’ll probably dive back into Bone Marshes before too long, but this has been a really fun side-project to keep me busy.

Header Photo by Amador Loureiro on Unsplash