Random Generation for GMs: During the Game

Finishing off our 4 part series we look at Random Generators to be used during the game, using some of the resources we discussed in Part 1: Resources and Tips.

We look at generators for travel, weather, around town and in the tavern.

Random Generators For GMs already covered

For Names, NPCs and Treasures take a look at For Any Occasion.

For Adventure Ideas, Settlements, Buildings, Shops and Dungeons try Last Minute Prep

During the Game

When you're after something to help you during the game, it's often because your players have surprised you or things have gone off a tangent. It's here you want something quick and simple to use, rather than an involved generator with too many options to get anything of use out of it.

During a game players will sometimes do unexpected things, and you may find having a random generator on hand a worthwhile investment. 

Generators for Travel

Loved by some, hated by others, random encounters are often very specific to a world or setting. Therefore whether it be in the Arizona Deadlands, the Outlands of Pathfinder or the dungeons of Undermountain we can't really provide you with a specific encounter table beyond the ones that already exist.

However, there ARE some tables for modifying them on the fly.

- Ultimate Toolbox has tables for fleshing out encounters conditions on pages 352 - 352, along with generic fantasy roadway encounters. A quick roll turned up a mercenary who was smoking a pipe.

- Furthermore, Ultimate Toolbox has useful tables on pages 388-389 on Ambushes, Wilderness Traps, Camp Happenings, Camp Descriptions and Remains, all indispensable for wilderness jaunts.

And we can also help out with D&D 5E, the most popular RPG at the moment. Goblinist RPG Tools has a random encounter generator where you can specify terrain, encounter difficulty, level of party and more options. Our party of 8th level adventurers in Marshes turned up a group of mixed undead including a wight, wraith, 2 ghouls, minotaur skeleton and warhorse skeleton.


Lastly, for those going by sea there is a pirate ship generator at EN World.

- Out pirate ship was The Big Harlot, under the command of Captain Edmund "Sea Count" Lloyd (scarred, staggeringly stupid ), is a huge 6-gun sloop with 70 crewmen aboard originally out of Port Ashsey. Its hold is currently filled with a cargo of salt. Other items in the hold include a little plain lavender cushion [common; 7gp], a damaged gold tiara with a cuddly minotaur motif [rare; 800gp], and a filthy elm sextant [common; 10gp]. The ship's first mate is James "Pretty Dog" Watson (polite). This vessel's figurehead is a steel angel.

The Environment

For all of your weather needs, take a look at the Weather Forecast Generator at Chaotic Shiny. our arid climate prediction was "Over the next week there will be a scattering of clouds with a chance of sun and moderate winds. To the northeast there will be a few clouds with a chance of very overcast skies. To the southeast, dust devils with a slight chance of sun and high winds from the northwest. It will likely be drastically colder than it has been. Local scouts' predictions are sometimes moderately reliable."

E2ogame.net has a further weather generator which will generate them for several worlds including Earth, the Forgotton Realms and Ptolus. Choices for time of year and climate are included alongside custom calendars for those 12 day weeks or 33 days months. Our 3 months of the Forgotten Realms winter turned up the following with information on temperature, precipitation, moon phases and wind strength.

Holiday in Town

  • For those times when you need a random festival to distract the players try the Holiday Generator at Springhole.net. Our 3 holidays included..
    • This mid-summer holiday celebrates the arrival of the new year.  It is marked with gift-giving, a candle ceremony, and speeches.
    • This early autumn holiday honors soldiers.  It is marked with quiet reflection, sporting competitions, and pranking.
    • This late spring holiday celebrates an important event in the life of a historical figure.  It is marked with sporting competitions, storytelling, and a pageant play.


Crowds, Crime Scenes and Pockets

For those curious about the crowd, then

  1. The Crowd generator from Chaotic Shiny can provide you with the people
  2. The http://www.enworld.org/forum/dnd_view_block.php?id=331 from EN World can give them something to look at
  3. Picking the pockets will pick up things from the pickpocket loot of donjon
  4. More interesting finds would turn up trinkets also from donjon

Using these together we get (2) The body of a female elf was found in the street. The City Watch feels it is a crime of passion. Examining the body, the wounds are consistent with those caused by a sword. The following item was found on the body a well-preserved ebony bowl [rare; 400gp]. Watching them was a crowd (1) including a freckled, clumsy old man rambling incoherently, a pale, haughty woman who was pushing her way through the crowd and a tattooed, grinning woman who seemed intent on starting a fight.
Picking the pockets of a few turned up (3) 62 sp, salted fish, a patch of rabbit fur, a page torn from a spellbook and a minor potion. More interesting finds included (4) an oil lamp of dark iron, set with constellations of tiny gemstones and a pendant of golden stone engraved with a strange rune.

Taverns and Rumours

The Fantasy Bar Scene from ENWorld gives us a group of 3 elf guards is playing cards with a limp half orc leatherworker. A group of 5 human artists is laughing at a vain elf soldier.

The Local Rumour Generator from EN World reveals

  • Fibur, a local wizard needs the heart of a dragon for "research purposes"​
  • Firin Whitefist has discovered the location of The Villainous Oubliette of Shadows
  • The Rantshred Ring are planning a raid.
  • and most importantly, The food at The Small Dragon Cellar is better than here.

 And lastly, looking at the Wanted Posters from Ultimate Toolbox page 350 we find "Dagnal Wickaxe, 4 ft 2 inches, braided red hair, red eyed dwarf, is wanted for breaking into the temple and stealing the urn carrying the remains of the city´s most honorable warrior"

Final Mentions  Portals and Something Happens!

The Random Portal Generator from Chaotic Shiny is good for distracting players for an hour or two.

Try this one on them next time: This portal appears as a shadowy, whirling gateway when open, and a shining wheel when closed. It is hovering between two rocks. A piercing moaning noise comes from the portal. It smells very like pears.

Lastly there is a short but amazing table on the back of the D&D 5E Dungeon Master´s Screen called "Something Happens!", which contained entries such as A screech pierces the air and something spills or falls to the ground . If anyone finds a similar (and more detailed) generator let me know as so far I´ve turned up very little!

All Generated Out

That's all for now. Tell us about your generators in the comments or on @chaosgenerators on Twitter!