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Attack of the random Dungeon Master


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I just watched a funny video about dungeon masters and their random charts back in the day and it made me think about crazy randomness that happened back when I played Ad and d.

My funniest story is that I made an orc fighter and rolled on the Dm's random character trait table. He got two traits one was "excellent marcher" he had the ability to keep perfect marching rhythm like: "one two, one two, one two" and so on. This benefited his whole orc party and they all could march faster.

Unfortunately he also lost a couple of intelligence points, and since he was an orc (bad) and a fighter (worse) he had little int to loose to begin with. He ended up with one in intelligence!  

So I named him Uh-Oh because he could not talk nor understand what was happening around him and repeatedly saying Uh-Oh while he walked. 

Infact all he did was walk around saying Uh-Oh. He died in his first encounter to a (you guessed it) a randomly rolled monster. It was a manticore coming in flying and pouncing on the group from above. 

All the other players ran in every direction but I decided that Uh-Oh was to stupid to run so he just stood there. He was holding a spear at the time and the dm counted it as set spear maneuver against the manticore and I randomly rolled four times the damage. It was almost enough damage to kill it but alas it did not help poor Uh-Oh who got crushed by the monster. The other players managed to finish it off though. Enough for all of them to level up even. :)


Anyway this is the video that reminded me of it. 




What about you? Any stories about random craziness from the table?

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"The Wandering Doris Table"


2ed D&D, this was in college.  One of my players was running a necromancer and had in his background that he had the stereotypical nagging mother ("He'll talk to the dead, but he won't talk to his own mother!") and the running joke was that Doris would always show up to complain. So, to nip that joke in the bud, I came up with a percentile table of if/when Doris would ever make an appearance again.


Cut to a few months later, when my party was dealing with a red dragon -- and I rolled on the table.


Doris was there.


"MA!  What're YOU doing here?!"


"He's my bridge partner!"




"Oh, it's just my ungrateful son..."




"No, dearie...*long sigh*  He may not appreciate all the sacrifices I've made for him, but he's still my son!"

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I gave my PC's a McGuilicuddy's Cap of Conjuring. You basically concentrated on the cap as you held it in your hand while thinking of exactly what you wanted, mystically passed your hand over it a few times, and pulled out whatever it is you were thinking of...if you made your roll. You couldn't pull out magic items, money, or vast treasure but most anything else which was portable was fair game.


The better you rolled, the closer you got to whatever it was that you wanted. For example, if you wanted a rope and rolled really well, you would pull out a rope which would work perfectly fine for a few hours before it disintegrated. If you rolled marginally well, you would pull out something which was vaguely rope-like. It might be something long and stringy like a worm, a snake, or a string. Or it might be something braided like a lock of hair, twine, or a steel cable. The worse you rolled, the less similar the item was to what you wanted.


The players ended up using it mostly for miscellaneous items since trying to pull a shield out of the cap during combat and getting a dinner plate instead just didn't work out very well. But they almost always used it at mealtime. If they rolled badly, I'd pick some modern food like a McDonald's Happy Meal and give that to them with just a basic description and let them try to figure out what it was that they were eating.


The item was useful enough that they needed to keep it around and having it cut down on the amount of clutter miscellaneous items they needed to carry. It added a bit of whimsy and unreliability by not necessarily getting exactly what they wanted and having to improvise and make whatever they did get work for them.


By the way, the cap would only recharge if a person wore the cap while also wearing a kilt (with no pants). That made for some awkward discussions with NPC's since men wearing skirts wasn't part of the culture of the campaign area.

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I remember back in the day we started using random critical hit/critical fumbles table and my Fighter cut his own arm off on a fumble.  He was eventually retired after we found out what it would cost to have it regrown (we were only level 7 and strapped for cash).


D&D was where I learned never to let the dice rule the game.  There's a reason why the "GM Screen" is a thing after all :)


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I use random tables a lot but not for these kinds of things.  Rather I use them to help generate potential encounters, locations, NPCs (and personalities) and adventure ideas.  I will generally generate a hundred or more and then pick out a few to refine to the point where they can be used or strung together into a narrative.  I use Inspiration Pad Pro to generate the results. The tables themselves are based on material I have found on the net and then my creating the random tables for Inspiration Pad Pro to use to generate the information.

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There was a random dungeon generator that I had as a kid for D&D that was supposed to be helpful for creating dungeon adventures but as you might guess they tended to lack any cohesiveness.  But at one point when I was home sick with chicken pox, I randomly generated a dungeon for my fighter character to go through just to pass the time.  It actually turned out to be a pretty good adventure, up until the very end.  Having cleared out the dungeon, he was heading back out and was literally within sight of the exit when a wandering monster check turned up a ghoul.  My fighter blew his saving throw, got paralyzed and then eaten by the ghoul.   Bummer.

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We were playing through some D&D module forever ago and hit a random encounter with dire wolves then a set encounter with...dire wolves. Then we followed that up with a random encounter with...dire wolves.


That was pretty much the end of the DM letting a roll on the random encounter chart be the final say in what monster we faced.

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OR, you could use that as a seed for future adventures. WHY are there so hecking many dire wolves in this area? Is someone breeding them? Is something pushing them out of their normal habitat? Are they being drawn by magic as part of someone's plan, or as a side effect of something else? Are they coming back from the dead and you've just killed the same pack of dire wolves three times in a row? Is this a second-order effect of ecological disruption caused by the activities of intelligent races?


As an interesting example of that last kind of thing, Charles Darwin once noted that a certain kind of wildflower was more abundant around cities than out in the wilderness with the same climate. He investigated and found that, indirectly, concentrations of humans CAUSED the abundance of those wildflowers:

* Humans keep cats as pets

* More humans --> more cats

* Cats prey on mice

* More humans --> more cats --> fewer mice

* Mice eat bumblebee larvae

* More humans --> more cats --> fewer mice --> more bumblebees

* Bumblebees are the main pollinator of this particular wildflower

* More humans --> more cats --> fewer mice --> more bumblebees --> more wildflowers


You'd be a special kind of crazy to have that kind of detail all over your RPG world, but I still think it's neat.

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On ‎9‎/‎28‎/‎2018 at 5:53 PM, archer said:

We were playing through some D&D module forever ago and hit a random encounter with dire wolves then a set encounter with...dire wolves. Then we followed that up with a random encounter with...dire wolves.


That was pretty much the end of the DM letting a roll on the random encounter chart be the final say in what monster we faced.


The area was packed with packs of wolves!

But then you made a pact to have no more such packs.


Lucius Alexander


The palindromedary remembers the wolves in the solo adventure game Barbarian Prince. Lucius Alexander started treating rolls of wolf encounters as "No encounter."

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One of the really ancient D&D supplements had Iron, Silver, and Golden Horns of Valhalla, which summoned set numbers of various sorts of berserk swordshumanoids to fight for the summoner.


We added the Tin Horn of Valhalla, which summoned a random number of berserk kobolds, who were sort of indiscriminate about who they fought.  It was supposed to be an even dozen of them,  but 3d8 was the range of kobolds's attempts to count as high as 12.

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In my Champions game, before writing up each adventure I typically roll versus the PCs' Complications (8- for Infrequently, 11- for Frequently, and 14- for Very Frequently) - typically DNPC, Hunted / Watched, Social Complications (typically Secret ID), and even Rivalry.  (To make my life easier, I created a table of PC Disads and wrote some Visual Basic code in MS Access to make the rolls and report the results with the click of a button.)  I don't always use every successful result, though I try to incorporate the successful rolls into the adventure if possible.  I feel guided by how much the roll is made by (often ignoring cases where the roll was barely made, and trying hard to use cases where the die roll was far below the required number.)


For instance, Maker has DNPC (Mom).  One time, I rolled a critical success on the DNPC check, so her Mom was definitely going to show up.  Maker's Hunted (Wight) was also successfully rolled to show up.  So not only did Wight directly threaten Maker's Mom, he managed to infect her with a mutated disease (which was the central plot of that adventure).  This sort of thing has happened enough times that Maker's player is seriously thinking of buying her Mom off.


Less frequently, I roll the Complications of the villains as well, using the results to, say, tip off the heroes that the villains were sighted in their area (when a Hunted by PRIMUS or UNTIL was successful).  One time, I was running an adventure where the Heavy Metals had broken into a Mechanon base and stole some stuff, basically adapting one of his mass-genocidal ideas to their own purposes.  They had also built a robot of their own a while back, so while at the base they also stole some of Mech's robot repair tech to help keep it operating.  The robot himself had Hunted (Mildly Punish) by Mechanon.  As a lark, I was rolling their disads -- and got a major success on the Adamant Robot's Hunted.  (Not quite a crit success, but close enough.)


Thus, the adventure took a left turn at Albuquerque, with Mechanon showing up in the middle of the big battle between the PCs and the Heavy Metals.  It was one of those "brown pants" moments where the heroes and villains both decided to cut and run, leading to the following exchange between Pops (teleporting PC hero) and Osmium (villain):


Osmium:  Wait!  Take me with you!

Pops:  Sure, if you want.  You are aware that we're going to the PRIMUS base, though, aren't you?

Osmium:  (shrugs)  Okay by me.  Arrested is better than dead.

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Many years ago, a friend ran a Fantasy Hero game, and I decided I wanted to run a summoner, but summoning things rather than creatures or people.  We created a VPP, powered by an END Battery which only recovered END when I paid XP into it.  The amount of END spent controlled how many points worth of summoned item I got.


One running gag was that this fantasy wizard could summon things from a modern or sci-fi world, so he may not know how to operate what he summoned.  For example, I might try to summon a sword and instead get a lightsaber.  Or a Ginsu knife, depending on how much END I had spent.  If I was going for, say, a Wand of Fireballs, I might get a flamethrower.  Or a Bic lighter.  After a while, the summoned object typically disappeared, returning to the world from whence it had come.  Though sometimes they stayed with him.  (He had a huge collection of pens, keys, mismatched socks, and so on.  So now you know what happens to all those things you lose along the way.)


The other running gag is that I didn't actually control specifically what was summoned -- I just told the GM what I was trying to get and how much END I was spending, and he'd figure out what I actually got.  More often than not, I either way-underspent or way-overspent the needed END for what I was hoping for.


One adventure, we were trying to break into a walled compound and were trying to figure out a way past the wall.  We also knew that the bad guys had a wyvern chained up as big nasty guard dog.  We successfully snuck up to the wall, not alerting the guards at all.  I decided to summon "a creature to dig under the wall," saying that my character was thinking something like a Dire Beaver but that I figured on something like a VIPER tunneling machine.  Apparently I didn't spend enough END because what I ended up getting was a backhoe.


Still game to try, I hopped in and (having accidentally summoned someone's minivan before, so I kinda-sorta recognized some of the controls) turned the key, starting up the rather loud diesel engine, alerting everyone in a mile radius.  I even put it in gear, thus smashing through the brick wall and allowing my compatriots access to the compound.  They started shooting arrows at me (who was now huddled in the bottom of the operator's cabin shoving random levers back and forth), which made the compound guards think the other PCs were on their side.  Then the wyvern showed up and saw the hoe as a tail, thus thinking the backhoe was a big yellow metal wyvern infringing on its turf.


Overall, it was a great distraction - my teammates went in and got what we were after, while I kept the guards and wyvern busy.  I don't recall how I got away, but it was certainly a hoot.

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A random polymorph/transform mechanic I've used in fantasy campaigns is get one of those big collegiate dictionaries parents liked to give to their college-bound kids, and roll 3d10, interpreting the roll as a three-digit number.  Open the dictionary to that page, and scan forward until you find an appropriate creature in the dictionary.


The guy transformed into a macaw was pretty pleased with the result (he could still talk) until others decided he was a stealable piece of loot.  The guy who ended up as a whelk was not so impressed.

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