Random Generation for GMs: Resources and Tips

Following up from Randomisation for Players we take at look at what tools are most useful for Game Masters over 4 parts, leaving Adventure Writers and World Builders for another time.

Resources from Print and Web

Some resources have a plethora of random tables for the GM and you'll find recommendations for specific tables from these later.

In a previous post on Resources we mentioned a book, the Ultimate Toolbox from AEG, as well as web-pages listing generators at EN World, Chaotic Shiny, and donjon.

To that list we should add...

  • D&D 5E Dungeon Master's Guide, which has a plethora of high quality tables and advice throughout on events, settlements, dungeons, NPCs, villains and locations.
  • Pathfinder GameMastery Guide, also containing a broad range of random tables including NPCs, dungeons, random encounters and taverns.
  • Springhole.net a website with content for writers and RPGs with generators for world-building, plot, characters and a few links to other generators
  • dxContent has a system for building your own generators and a library of free generators created by various users.


Presented here are three ways you can use random generation to help with preparation and play..

5 Minute Break

When stumped by something your players have done, and in desperate need to gather thoughts or find something to distract them, try a 5 minute break.

It could be a break for tea or beer or pizza, a quick trip to the shop or fleeing to the bathroom but it gives you a few minutes to jot down some notes and think of some options away from your players.

And if you have the right Random Generation tools to hand you can get an adventure, npc or encounter ready to give you something to work with...

Generating Ahead

If you know you'll probably need particular names, NPCs, events, treasures or settlements in your game, but don't know where or when they'll come up, then generate them ahead.

Generate a list of quick NPCs handy for the road, tavern or temple, or as prisoner, passenger or outraged pickpocket victim.

Remove items from the list and your players will admire your ability to always have the right thing for the right occasion.

Games Master's Screens

If you use a screen to shield you from your players, then you spend at lot of time able to look at the back of it. And you may find some of the material useful and others not.

Find random tables you can use and stick them on the back of the screen. Then when you need a handy name, inspiration for a travel event or a quick NPC you know where to look.

Alternatively print them out on a reference sheet, keep them bookmarked on a smartphone or a dedicated tablet.

Next Up...

We'll look at Random Generators for Any Occasion next but tweet or comment your favourite generators!