Random Generation for GMS: Last Minute Prep

The next in our series started by Random Generation for GMs: Resources and Tips, we look at generators for Adventures, Settlements, Buildings and Dungeons you might need when you´ve got 10 minutes to prep for a 4 hour game.

Something for the Next Session

When you´re prepping for your next session and you´re either looking for ideas, or desperately trying to get things together for that adventure you haven´t had time to writ then these generators will help.

This also applies if your players went off-tangent last session and you need to come up with something (anything) for them, or you have 20 minutes spare to flesh things out while waiting for latecomers.

Names, NPCs, Treasures

We covered these in Random Generation for GMs: For Any Occasion and these can also be used when you're doing last minute preparation.

Adventure Ideas

If you´re stumped because you need a one-shot, you´re players have ended up somewhere unexpected or you simply don´t have anything to run then try

  • A short adventure idea from Chaotic Shiny (3 examples)
    • The heroes must get the elemental bracelet from the gaol without alerting the spies to their plans.
    • The heroes need to unlock the powers of the silver garnet before the ghost gets an audience with the king or the gods will turn away from the land.
    • The heroes need to visit the barrow before the end of the year or important knowledge will be lost forever.
  • A Fantasy Quest Random Generator from donjon.bin.sh (3 examples)
    • An elven lady named Seredhel seeks a company of adventurers to recover and destroy an evil artifact from the ruins of Steini's Hold. Moreover, the party must complete the quest at a specific time, 7 days from now.
    • A haunted noblewoman named Ergent seeks a company of adventurers to escort the weapon Skullslayer safely to the dwarven town of Giledzar.
    • An ex-adventurer named Belia seeks a company of adventurers to thwart the monstrous plan of Adras the Poisonous. Moreover, the party encounters an old ally now working against them.
  • For a more generic adventure ideas try the Universal Plot Selector from ENWorld (one example)
    • The PCs are placed in charge of a large operation (a trading company, a feudal barony, the CIA) and must, despite lack of experience in such things, make it work and thrive. The victims are really villains and the villains are really victims.
  • For a slightly different session try a Tournament from Chaotic Shiny
  • For fleshing out an adventure, try the tables of Chapter 7, Plot, from from Ultimate Toolbox which includes tables for Plots, Patrons, How to Meet, Adventure Location, Quick & Dirty Plots and Unique Rewards

Lastly if you´re after something more robust try a more detailed Random Adventure Generator from donjon.bin.sh which creates themes, hook, plot, climax, settings, villains and all sorts of complications.

Random Settlement (Or Planet)

If you need a town or other settlement for the PCs to visit, rescue or destroy then you can get more details from one of the following

  • A Fantasy Town Generator from donjon.bin.sh with population and races (2 examples)
    • Tawold: Population 1200, mixed human and minotaur. The town is built upon a grid of streets and alleys. It is governed by an order of knights and warriors, whose weekly meetings often turn into drunken brawls.
    • Stowich: Population 210, primarily human, some elf and half-elf. The village is defended by a wooden palisade and ditch. It is governed by an arcane sorcerer, a female human named Elyn Bere.
  • A large part of a chapter from Ultimate Toolbox (pg 81-96) on cities, with quick full descriptions or more detailed tables available
  • The 5E D&D DMG has random tables for a town on page 112 with random buildings on page 113 (1 example of settlement)
    • A settlement where the racial minority are refugees, the ruler is a cabal who seized power openly, there is an important library or archive and it it known for wines. Currently a scandal threatens powerful families
  • Chaotic Shiny has two city generators, one a detailed description and the second a city map generator which gives a maps of the districts with numbered locations (city map example)
  • For a more military option castles, keeps and forts can be generated at donjon (2 examples)
    • Caer Egnor: This walled castle has white stone walls with defensive arcane wards. It appears deserted, but is inhabited by the ghost of a male elf named Tami.
    • Haukison's Deep: This small tower has strong stone walls and defensive earthworks. The male lord of the tower is a dwarf named Authlal Haukison, and it is defended by tough dwarven warriors. A secret door in the cellar opens into a network of tunnels.

And finally in a science fiction setting planets are often more important than settlements so here is a planet generator from Chaotic Shiny

Taverns, Shops and Buildings

For populating your settlements or simply a lone tavern there are several options:

  • Taverns:  Donjon has a detailed fantasy inn generator which lists location, description, innkeeper, menu, patrons and rumours with filters for Inn Quality and Patron Type (townsfolk or adventurers)
  • Taverns: ENWorld has a Tavern Creator which goes into some details (1 example)
  • Taverns: Chaotic Shiny also has a detailed but slightly more generic Tavern Generator
  • Buildings & Shops: The Pathfinder Gamemastery Guide (pages 210-211) has great tables for City Locations, Shop Names and Unique City Decorations (1 example of each)
    • Location: Horse Mill, horse-powered mill for grinding grain.
    • Shop Names: Urgin´s Hair and Tooth Removal
    • Decoration: Three trees interwined to create a crude throne
  • Buildings and Architecture: The Ultimate Toolbox has an entire section on Architecture and Atmosphere (pages 102-109) listing Districts, Monuments, Building Types and Monuments.
  • Merchant: Chaotic Shiny has a Merchant Generator listing good provided, details on haggling, the shopkeeper and the shop itself


Random Dungeon

If you want a quick old-school dungeon then try one of these:

  • The Random Dungeon Floorplan from Donjon.bin.sh is a piece of Generation Mastery, letting you specify all kinds of things for your dungeon
  • From the Ultimate Toolbox we can find a whole chapter (5, Dungeons) on dungeon generation. Tables include Legends, Entrances, Brick & Stone Patterns, Room Types, Features, Doors, Archways and Empty Rooms among others. Especially recommended if you have a half-filled complex.
  • The D&D 5E Dungeon Master´s Guide also has some great tables for creating a dungeon, (pages 290 to 301) with guidelines for Starting Area, Passages, Doors, Chambers and adding more details.
  • Gozzys.com has more map generators for Random Dungeons and Random Caves (and Wilderness ones), with an example cave below


 Have a Go a Random Generation!

So if you use any of the generators leave a comment or tweet @chaosgenerators with the result!