Friday, October 4, 2019

DIY Corner: Make Your Own Random Tables

It's really a rite of passage: you have these options, these choices, and you want to use them all on your hapless players, but you can't decide, and then all at once, it hits you like a Thunder Wave spell, and you think, "I'll just make a random table! It's easy! I've been listing things off my whole life!"

Then you get started. And you write some stuff down, and then you erase a couple of entries, because you want them to be a the top and bottom of the list, and one thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you've got an unruly mess, but it's a table. Your first. And it's glorious. You think to yourself, "Now, at last, I truly am a Jedi Knight Dungeon Master."

It's a rush, and maybe you think, that was so much fun, I'll do another. And another. And another and another and another, and...then one day, you're writing up some notes for your next game and you realize, "this is just another random table." That's okay, too. But I will always have a soft spot for the all-powerful random table. Few things are as useful and also as easy to create. They can really flavor your game in unique ways because it's 100% created by you.

Since I prefer to work away from the computer for all sorts of neck-beard-y reasons, I wanted to utilize this newfangled technology but still keep it lo-fi whenever possible. So I made this up: It's a worksheet for making d20 (or any other integer) tables. One side has the numbers 1 to 20 listed, and the other half of the sheet is made of graph paper. Why graph paper? Because sometimes I like to make little charts, or draw a dungeon room, or do a little statistical math, and I don't want any of that in the margins of my nice list. Sometimes I want to brainstorm before I make that list. That's where the graph paper comes in. It soothes my fevered brow. Let's me organize my scrambled thoughts. Helps me see the problem a little clearer.

When I'm done brainstorming and mucking about, I can write my d20 (or any other integer) list, taking time to put the entries where I like them, and then if I want, I can fold that scratch sheet back and run the table, as is. Clean and simple.

It's not much, but it's free. If you can use it, be my guest.

Most recently, I decided I wanted my group to actively conscript their crew for their ship, but I didn't want to waste a lot of table time on it. So I made a list of 20 candidates, with just a basic string of information and one personality characteristic that I could throw at them when they met the crew member. I had each player roll and tell me the result, and I did a little interaction with each crew member. It worked very well and helped establish for them that these crew members were NPCs and not cannon fodder. They've all got a favorite, too. God help me if a mutiny breaks out.

So, that's the DIY Corner for this we--

"But Mark, what about d30 tables!?"

Well? What about them?

"Those are totally a thing, too, you know!"

Yeah, I know, but the d20 tables are so much cleaner. So very...

"But you put a picture of that old-as-dirt Armory d30 table book up there! What are we supposed to think?"

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: d30 dice are the Spinal Tap of polyhedral dice.

Me: You've got percentile dice, you've got d20s, what do you need the d30 for?

Nigel: Well, it's ten more, innit? You're rolling dice, you get to twenny, there's nowhere else to go, so what do you do?

Me: You reach for the D30.

Nigel:  Exactly. The D30.

Me: But what if you just used percentile dice, or maybe cut your choices back to the top 20 and have a kick-ass d20 list instead?

Nigel:...this is a d30.


Okay. Fine. Here. It's a d30 Table Worksheet. Orientation is different, but the concept is the same. Don't say I never did anything for you, Nigel.

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