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🎨 Creative [Any] Random Adventure Generator

Airos

Actual tiger
Validated User
#1
I've had this kicking around in a text file for a couple months. The primary purpose is to give DMs a set of tables to generate the basic details of an adventure, ideally for hexcrawl focused campaigns. Ultimately, this is destined for my E6 GM's Guide, however I hope to make it "generic" enough that it should work for pretty much any edition of D&D. I only really bring this up to head off questions of why design my own instead of using any and all of the alternatives. I need this one to be "mine" so I can publish it at some point.

The generator will be comprised of 4 main sections - The Catalyst (how the PCs learn about the job), The Task (what the PCs are expected to do), The Location (where PCs are expected to go), and The Reward (what PCs gain for doing the job successfully).

It's not complete, but I'm not entirely sure what else I need, so I figure I should at least offer up the basic framework and go over my ideas for how I expect the tool to be used, and maybe I'll get some feedback.

-----

Adventure Generator
So, you're presumably running a hexcrawl, and you need an idea. The barest bones of an adventure to get your players from their current hex out into the wilderness. That's where these tables come in. They're not going to write a module for you. In some cases these tables will refer you to additional tables with more specific details, (encounter tables, treasure tables, etc).

These tables do not generate a plot. It will tell you that someone is hiring adventurers to kills wolves in the local forest, but not why. That's outside the scope of "bare bones". It's up to you to determine if it's because they've been aggressive, invasive, or because the client simply wants their pelts.

Table One - The Catalyst
Code:
[Catalyst]
    [1] Adventurers Guild
    [2] Public Authority (Royalty, Nobility, Local Government, Military)
    [3] Public Job Board
    [4] Rumor Mill
This table is probably superfluous. If the PCs target a specific NPC to question, then either that NPC does have a job or they do not. Some NPCs may redirect the PCs, though. Asking a barkeep about "jobs" would probably result in a roll. Once a given location is established to have a specific means of locating jobs, PCs are more likely to go directly to that source rather than continuing to ask around. This is okay. Like all dice rolls, "only roll the dice when the results are unknown or uncertain". If the group knows there's a job board, you're doing more harm than good if you roll on this and "hide" the job somewhere the PCs aren't aware they should be looking.

Ideally, this would have a good handful of options, and DMs could roll 1-3 times depending on the size of the settlement, and forever use those results for that settlement. Podunk little town is only ever going to have a rumor mill. Capital city will have a guild, and maybe several job boards (1 per district). Asking around is only ever going to point to those locations. Thing is, I can't really think of too many ways a group of adventurers are going to scrounge up the sort of work adventurers do.

Table Two - The Task
Code:
[Task]
    [1] Bounty (Kill/Capture)
        [1] Animal or Vermin*
        [2] Monster*
        [3] NPC**
    [2] Fetch/Gather Item(s)
    [3] Deliver/Distribute Item(s)
    [4] Escort/Rescue
    [5] Explore
    [6] Recon/Observe

*See encounter tables    **See NPC gallery
This table is fairly self-explanatory. This is "the job". The Bounty result refers to a series of tables that is going to wildy vary not only from edition to edition, but from campaign to campaign. It's assumed that anyone using this outside the context of my work will be able to supply their own tables relevant to their needs.

This is probably complete... question mark? I could expand a little on categories of "Items", but there's effectively infinite possibilities here. Gather [Food Item] from [Forest]. Collect [Weapon] from [Plains] [Battlefield]. Distribute [Propaganda] around [Mountain] [Village]. The more verbose I make the results, the higher chance a nonsensical combo may result. If a DM is hard-pressed to come up with an appropriate item to fetch/deliver, a cursory glance at the equipment chapter should suffice.

It's no coincidence this looks shockingly similar to a list of generic MMO side quests and uses language such as "Fetch" and "Escort". "Generic Side Quest" is exactly what this tool is designed to produce. If those ideas are good enough for educated games designers to build upon, then they're probably good ideas.

Table Three - The Location
Code:
[Location]
    [A] Terrain (nearest hex of indicated type)
        [1] Aquatic
            [1] Bay/Cove/Inlet/Sound
            [2] Beach/Coast/Shore
            [3] Coral Reef/Kelp Forest/Sandbar
            [4] Lagoon/Lake/Pond
            [5] Channel/Canal/Rapids/River
            [6] Ocean/Sea
        [2] Desert
            [1] Dunes
            [2] Flats
            [3] Steppe
            [4] Wastes
        [3] Forest
            [1] Glade
            [2] Grove
            [3] Jungle
            [4] Taiga
            [5] Woods
        [4] Hills
            [1] Butte
            [2] Highland
            [3] Ridge
        [5] Marsh
            [1] Bog
            [2] Fen
            [3] Mire
            [4] Swamp
            [5] Tidal
        [6] Mountains
            [1] Mesa
            [2] Peaks
            [3] Range
            [4] Tundra
            [5] Volcano
        [7] Plains
            [1] Grassland
            [2] Meadow
            [3] Prairie
            [4] Savannah
            [5] Steppe
        [8] Underground* (roll again)
            [1] Burrow
            [2] Cave
            [3] Cavern
            [4] Den
            [5] Grotto
       
    [B] Hex Features
        [1] Natural Feature
            [1] Cave
            [2] Canyon
            [3] Crater
            [4] Dry Lake
            [5] Geyser
            [6] Hillock/Knoll
            [7] Mesa
            [8] Oasis
            [9] Plateau
            [10] Rock Formation
            [11] Spring
            [12] Valley
        [2] Artificial Feature
            [1] Battlefield
            [2] Excavation/Mine/Quarry
            [3] Farmland/Orchard/Vineyard
            [4] Standing Stones/Monolith/Obelisk
            [5] Memorial/Monument/Shrine/Statue
        [3] Building/Complex*
            [1] Arena (Sports/Combat/Theatre)
            [2] Burial Grounds (Tomb/Crypt/Catacomb)
            [3] Camp/Refuge
            [4] Information Storage (Library/Archives/Museum)
            [5] Item Storage (Vault/Treasury/Reserve)
            [6] Learning Institute (School/Academy)
            [7] Prison (Dungeon/Prison/Bastille/Donjon)
            [8] Residence (Mansion/Manor/Villa/Estate/Castle/Palace)
            [9] Retreat (Hideout/Lodge)
            [10] Ruins (choose or roll again)
            [11] Secure Residence (Fort/Keep/Tower/Citadel)
            [12] Spiritual Institute (Abbey/Cloister/Convent/Priory/Monastery/Sanctuary/Temple)
        [4] Settlement
            [1] Thorp (fewer than 21)
            [2] Hamlet (21–60)
            [3] Village (61–200)
            [4] Small town (201–2,000)
            [5] Large town (2,001–5,000)
            [6] Small city (5,001–10,000)
            [7] Large city  (10,001–25,000)
            [8] Metropolis (More than 25,000)

*See dungeon construction tables
This is the Hexcrawl section of the generator. There are two components, the general terrain of the hex (using the types provided in the 3.5 SRD), and the notable features of that hex.

Under each terrain type are a non-exhaustive list of variations of that terrain. The actual complete list of variation in terrain and landscape is way more than I need. I'm aiming for common terms the uneducated layman can recognize. (Me. I'm the uneducated layman. I'm picking words I know). I'm also limiting them to those I think make the most sense to track on the 6-12 mile scale of a hex.

Notable features are things of importance, but don't (usually) define the hex. These serve as places to go more specific than "the swamp". The job is a [Bounty] on [NPC], who has a [Hideout] somewhere in [Swamp]. [NPC] probably has goons/defenses.

Most of the buildings are just fancy words for "dungeon", so DMs can feel free to use random generators for these, (a future project).

DMs should roll/select only as many features as they really need. This is a category that does have a healthy selection, so DMs can roll 2 or 3 times to get a flavorful hex. Cities and above are generally assumed to have most of the buildings listed already. It's only a notable feature when there's a major complex (a prision, a university, a temple) in the middle of nowhere.

Table Four - The Reward
Code:
[Reward]
    [1] Currency (coins/gems/bank notes)*
    [2] Service(s)
            [1] Merchant/Guild Discount (10/15/20/25%)
            [2] Combat services (Hireling)
            [3] Non-Combat services (sage/guide/blacksmith/leatherworker/tailor)
            [4] Spellcasting services (magic item creation/spellbooks/scrolls/wands/potions)
    [3] Information
            [1] Location of treasure (maps/legends/history books/diaries/shipping logs)
            [2] Information pertaining to another active quest
            [3] Details on an unexplored hex
            [4] Location of monster lair or hunting ground
    [4] Item(s)*

* see treasure tables
The final table, and frequently the answer to why the PCs should get involved. Treasure tables also vary by edition and campaign, and can be swapped out accordingly.

Services and Information are very nebulous, and much like the first table, may not always be an "unknown". It's only a valid reward if it's useful to the PCs. The flip side is that in a hexcrawl, the PCs won't always know in advance what's going to be useful. That being said, if a DM knows there's certain information or services the PCs are seeking, they may consider skipping the dice and just picking those results. If the PCs are taking side quests because they want money or gear, then consider picking those results.

It's worth noting that these rewards are meant to be in addition to the XP and treasure rewards for any encounters and challenges the PCs completed during the course of the adventure. Completing the side quest itself is a separate and distinct event. DMs may wish to consider an appropriately scaled XP reward if the edition they're using has defined wealth by level guidelines, (as 3rd edition and Pathfinder do).

Depending on the difficulty of the overall adventure, completion should award between 1-3 times the rewards for single a level appropriate encounter. If your chosen edition doesn't define what a "level 1" encounter is or how much XP and GP to award for one, you may need to eyeball it.

The last point to note is that in some cases the reward on offer can help infer who the client is. A [Mage] is offering [Spellcasting Services] or [Currency] as [Bounty] for capturing [NPC] at [Swamp] [Hideout] dead or alive.

That almost sounds like a legit adventure.

-----

Well, there you go. Did I miss anything? Questions? Comments? Are there ideas I should consider adopting from other generators like this? Let me know.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
#2
Terrain should include wastelands and unnatural places. Settlements should have necropoli and other monster lairs with large populations. Artificial features could include portals (to other lands, planes and worlds), divine art (i.e. what the gods make when they feel the need to spruce up creation), and junkyards (from other worlds, the gods or wizards who want a place to toss stuff).

More as I think of them.
 

Airos

Actual tiger
Validated User
#3
My google searching has informed me that a necropolis "is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments". Using that definition, it would already be included under Buildings - Burial Grounds. A "fantasy city populated by undead" would just be a settlement.

"Lairs" is somewhat of a nebulous term here, so maybe you mean something different than what I'm reading. A large population of monsters are either building their own settlement from scratch, or they're appropriating an abandoned building/complex, (which includes "recently abandoned because they've killed everyone that didn't flee"). In general, the population of a hex (or the population of a feature within a hex) is either going to be determined by a demographics table (for settlements) or encounter tables (for everywhere else). "Monsters" go onto those tables, not these.

If the only thing that distinguishes a small town from a monster lair is the occupants, then that's not really something I see value in adding to the settlements table. If a lair has a distinct design or function, then I'd like to include that location separate from whether or not it's an active lair.

I'm taking "Unnatural Terrain" to mean "magical" variations. Plains of metal grass, mountains made of crystal, 100-foot tall mushroom forests, an ocean made entirely of silt. That's not a bad idea. I'll put ideas like those into sub-tables, so as to allow DMs who don't want to use fantasy terrain to just not roll on those tables, and DMs who want full gonzo can roll on only those tables.

Wikipedia searching has informed me that wasteland "may refer to: Desert or barren area", which is why I've placed Wastes there. A ruined and abandoned city would just be "Ruins" in combination with "Settlement". Maybe only part of the city is in ruins. Maybe the entire thing is. The point of "choose or roll again" is to decide what is ruined. Just a single ruined house in the middle of the woods? An abandoned fort in the mountains? A city after an apocalypse?

What I can do is make it a bit more clear where you're supposed to chose/roll from. It does currently read like you're only supposed to reroll on the Building/Complex tables. I'll change that to read "(choose or roll again on this table or the Settlements table)".

I'm not sure what form "divine art" would take that excludes it from Statues and Obelisks, however I do see a gap where I can add Geoglyphs. For these tables what is there is more important to me than why they are put there. I expect the DM or the group to fill in those details themselves, because that's how I work best.

A dump/junkyard/scrapyard is a great generic idea that can be expressed in a few different ways. Same with portals. (I, too, have seen Thor: Ragnarok). Definitely something I'll add.
 

DMH

Master of Mutant Design
Validated User
#4
My google searching has informed me that a necropolis "is a large, designed cemetery with elaborate tomb monuments". Using that definition, it would already be included under Buildings - Burial Grounds. A "fantasy city populated by undead" would just be a settlement.
I was thinking a city of the undead, so you got that covered.

"Lairs" is somewhat of a nebulous term here, so maybe you mean something different than what I'm reading. A large population of monsters are either building their own settlement from scratch, or they're appropriating an abandoned building/complex, (which includes "recently abandoned because they've killed everyone that didn't flee"). In general, the population of a hex (or the population of a feature within a hex) is either going to be determined by a demographics table (for settlements) or encounter tables (for everywhere else). "Monsters" go onto those tables, not these.

If the only thing that distinguishes a small town from a monster lair is the occupants, then that's not really something I see value in adding to the settlements table. If a lair has a distinct design or function, then I'd like to include that location separate from whether or not it's an active lair.
What I had initial in mind was a dragon's lair, one built by servants/slaves and populated by many beings. But it could also apply to harpy nests, beholder cities, locatha fortresses and the like. It isn't just the occupants, but the architecture and alien mindset that went into building them. That being said, your right that such may have no place in this generator.

I'm taking "Unnatural Terrain" to mean "magical" variations. Plains of metal grass, mountains made of crystal, 100-foot tall mushroom forests, an ocean made entirely of silt. That's not a bad idea. I'll put ideas like those into sub-tables, so as to allow DMs who don't want to use fantasy terrain to just not roll on those tables, and DMs who want full gonzo can roll on only those tables.
That is a great idea. Too few fantasy settings have fantastic landscape IMO.

Wikipedia searching has informed me that wasteland "may refer to: Desert or barren area", which is why I've placed Wastes there. A ruined and abandoned city would just be "Ruins" in combination with "Settlement". Maybe only part of the city is in ruins. Maybe the entire thing is. The point of "choose or roll again" is to decide what is ruined. Just a single ruined house in the middle of the woods? An abandoned fort in the mountains? A city after an apocalypse?
I didn't mean something natural. A wasteland is a place where Nature retreated and let something else take its place. It should go under unnatural terrain.


I'm not sure what form "divine art" would take that excludes it from Statues and Obelisks, however I do see a gap where I can add Geoglyphs. For these tables what is there is more important to me than why they are put there. I expect the DM or the group to fill in those details themselves, because that's how I work best.
I agree with you to a point, but examples are great springboards to setting design. As for the art itself, it would have to be something that is impossible for mortals to create, otherwise it wouldn't be divine.

A dump/junkyard/scrapyard is a great generic idea that can be expressed in a few different ways. Same with portals. (I, too, have seen Thor: Ragnarok). Definitely something I'll add.
I watched and then forgot most of that film. What I was actually thinking of was something I wrote for Mutant Future where portals to other realities leak energy and other effects into the characters' world.


As for something else- two terrains you may want to include are the sky and the void (space). And for unnatural terrain, giant trees are popular in some settings. The ones large enough to support entire cities or even planes.
 

Lord Crimson

Prophet of Darkness
Validated User
#5
I'd suggest throwing in an optional "Twist" table. Some kind of "way in which the adventure isn't as straightforward as it initially appeared."

This could be things like the employer was dishonest or missing info (or actually the villain) or an excuse to introduce extra obstacles like the primary pathway has been blocked by a cave-in/rockslide or runs through a bigger monster's territory.
 

Airos

Actual tiger
Validated User
#6
Draft two!

First up is a short list of auxiliary tables these tables refer to. The [Dungeon Construction] Tables will probably be generic enough for me to tackle outside of my E6 thread, but treasure and population are too edition/setting specific. I am considering a more verbose settlement generator, if for nothing other than to determine the quantity/quality of adventurer-facing establishments (shops/taverns/inns), and to give me an excuse to plug my Tavern Name Generator. The actual drawing of a map and placing buildings may be more complex than I can design tables for, but that's for future me to figure out.

Code:
[Treasure Tables]
[Encounter Tables]
[NPC Gallery]
[Dungeon Construction]
[Settlement Demographics]
I've added one result to the [Catalyst] table, and expect to bring it up to a total of six. I do want to avoid "the NPC approaches the PCs directly", because I believe direct contact like that should be reserved for main quests. Same with dreams, visions, and divine commandments. Also, "why does god need 14 Bear Hides?"

Code:
[Catalyst] (d6)
    [1] Adventurers Guild
    [2] Public Authority (Royalty, Nobility, Local Government, Military)
    [3] Public Job Board
    [4] Recruiter/Town Crier
    [5] Rumor Mill
    [*]
Lots of expansion on the [Location] tables.

It should be noted that I've make an intentional choice to omit a random climate portion of the table. If the PCs are in a temperate region, the DM should probably avoid sending the PCs outside of that region, and should certainly go no further than a sub-tropical or sub-arctic region. If you generate a side quest that's half a world away, do not be surprised when the PCs promptly ignore that quest.

Terrain is following the established types from the SRD, which just so happens to nice and neatly map to a d8. The DM may then choose or use RNG to determine between common and magical, and is then given a selection of foundations to build on.

Code:
[Location]
    [A] Terrain (nearest or most convenient hex of indicated type) (d8)
        [1] Aquatic
            [1] Common Types (d8)
                [1] Bay/Cove/Inlet/Sound
                [2] Beach/Coast/Shore
                [3] Coral Atoll/Coral Reef/Kelp Forest
                [4] Channel/Canal/Rapids/River
                [5] Island/Sandbar
                [6] Lagoon/Lake/Pond
                [7] Ocean/Sea
                [8] Sound/Strait
            [2] Magical Types (d6)
                [1] Acid/Poison
                [2] Blood
                [3] Lava/Magma
                [4] Mercury
                [5] Ooze/Slime/Sludge
                [6] Sand/Silt
        [2] Desert
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Badlands
                [2] Dunes
                [3] Flats
                [4] Rocky
                [5] Steppe
                [6] Wastes
            [2] Magical Types (d4)
                [*] Ashen/Burning/Scorched
                [*] Drained/Stripped
                [*] Inorganic (Crystal/Glass/Metal)
                [*] Illusory/Shifting/Shrouded
        [3] Forest
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Glade
                [2] Grove
                [4] Rainforest
                [5] Savannah
                [5] Taiga
                [6] Woodland/Woods
            [2] Magical Types (d6)
                [1] Bioluminescent
                [2] Elemental (Burning/Floating/Frozen/Stone)
                [3] Giant
                [4] Inorganic (Crystal/Glass/Metal)
                [5] Mushroom
                [6] Poisonous/Toxic
        [4] Hills
            [1] Common Types (d4)
                [1] Butte
                [2] Highland
                [3] Cliffs
                [4] Ridge
            [2] Magical Types (d4)
                [1] Echoing/Singing/Whispering/Whistling
                [2] Moving/Wandering
                [3] Sponge
                [4] Sylvan/Verdant
        [5] Marsh
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Bog
                [2] Fen
                [3] Mire
                [4] Salt Marsh
                [5] Swamp
                [6] Tidal Marsh
            [2] Magical Types (d6)
                [1] Abyssal
                [2] Creeping
                [3] Necrotic
                [4] Shadow
                [5] Stench
                [6] Toxic
        [6] Mountains
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Caldera
                [2] Mesa
                [3] Peaks
                [4] Range
                [5] Tundra
                [6] Volcano
            [2] Magical Types (d6)
                [1] Bone/Horn
                [2] Celestial
                [3] Floating
                [4] Hollow
                [5] Inorganic (Crystal/Glass/Metal)
                [6] Spire
        [7] Plains
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Grassland
                [2] Highland
                [3] Lowland
                [4] Meadow
                [5] Prairie
                [6] Steppe
            [2] Magical Types (d6)
                [1] Broken/Floating/Shattered
                [2] Calm/Placid/Serene/Sleepy
                [3] Ethereal/Foggy/Ghostly/Misty
                [4] Inorganic (Crystal/Glass/Metal)
                [5] Iridescent/Prismatic/Rainbow
                [6] Raging/Stormy/Tumultuous
        [8] Underground* (roll again to determine above-ground terrain)
            [1] Common Types (d6)
                [1] Burrow
                [2] Cavern
                [3] Den
                [4] Grotto
                [5] Lake/River/Waterfall
                [6] Tunnels
            [2] Magical Types (d4)
                [1] Abyssal/Bottomless/Endless
                [2] Giant Crystal
                [3] Glowing Fungus
                [4] Lava/Magma Flow
Fewer changes to the features table.

Code:
[Location]
    [B] Hex Features
        [1] Natural Feature (d12)
            [1] Cave
            [2] Canyon
            [3] Crater
            [4] Dry Lake
            [5] Geyser
            [6] Hillock/Knoll
            [7] Mesa
            [8] Oasis
            [9] Plateau
            [10] Rock Formation
            [11] Spring
            [12] Vale/Valley
        [2] Artificial Feature (d10)
            [1] Battlefield
            [2] Excavation/Mine/Quarry
            [3] Farmland/Orchard/Pasture/Vineyard
            [4] Geoglyphs
            [5] Memorial/Monument/Shrine/Statue
            [6] Gateway/Portal
            [7] Standing Stones/Monolith/Obelisk
            [8] Waste Disposal (Dump/Junkyard/Scrapyard)
            [9] Wasteland (Scorched Earth/Deadlands/Post-Calamity)
            [*]
        [3] Building/Complex* (d12)
            [1] Arena (Sports/Combat/Theater)
            [2] Burial Grounds (Tomb/Crypt/Catacomb/Necropolis)
            [3] Camp/Refuge
            [4] Information Storage (Library/Archives/Museum)
            [5] Item Storage (Vault/Treasury/Reserve)
            [6] Learning Institute (School/Academy)
            [7] Prison (Dungeon/Prison/Bastille/Donjon)
            [8] Residence (Mansion/Manor/Villa/Estate/Castle/Palace)
            [9] Retreat (Hideout/Lodge)
            [10] Ruins (choose or roll again on this table or the Settlements table)
            [11] Secure Residence (Fort/Keep/Tower/Citadel)
            [12] Spiritual Institute (Abbey/Cloister/Convent/Priory/Monastery/Sanctuary/Temple)
        [4] Settlement** (d8)
            [1] Thorp (fewer than 21)
            [2] Hamlet (21–60)
            [3] Village (61–200)
            [4] Small town (201–2,000)
            [5] Large town (2,001–5,000)
            [6] Small city (5,001–10,000)
            [7] Large city  (10,001–25,000)
            [8] Metropolis (More than 25,000)

*See dungeon construction tables    **See settlement demographics tables
 

ezekiel

Follower of the Way
Validated User
#8
As a sort of side note on the divine art thing, at least as far back as Apuleis (The Golden Ass) we have attestation of a thing--specifcally a building or complex--which a mortal human was understood to instantly recognize as being the work of gods and not mortals. (From the classroom version of Cupid and Psyche we used: "...domus regia est, aedificata non humanis manibus, sed divinis artibus." [...there is a regal house, erected not by the hands of men, but divine arts.]) So there may be some space for divine arts-as-skills, as in, "yeah, Pelor himself gave this building to us. It was quite a surprise."
 
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