Wednesday, December 15, 2010

New Monsters, Items & Stuff Invented By The Table

Experimenting with The First Draft of The One Table.

Here's what I did with my results:

Where's the basic plot of this thing coming from?
Aeschylus (d8--I got Prometheus Bound)

The PCs meet a punished-type person who prophesies for them that their actions will free him.

With a side of what?
Dr Doom

The punished-type person is a schemetastic villain. The PCs will probably try to avoid having the prophecy come true. A kind of anti-railroad plot here.

Where am I going to get an idea for the big, crazy fight?

Ok, but without the chair. Just some huge bastard with an enormous head, stumbling around.

And the totally incongruous element?
Elric stories

There's an Elric story called "The Fortress of the Pearl". I can't remember what this story is actually about but for my purposes here it's a giant pearl that's also a fortress.

The multivalent trick the PCs can fuck with and turn against the adventure?
Love boat

Ok--there is a room where everyone falls in love. The villain hopes to lure a PC there.

And the new monster?
The mastermind here is a (random monster). I used some online 3.5 thing and got an aasimar which is some angel-type thing, then got bored and rolled again and got a doppleganger.

I decided that basically there's something someone thinks is an angel but it isn't one. Or it's a second-rate one.

Dumb prop/DM gimmick?
Roll a random monster. Build the most stereotypical situation you can around this monster. Investigate all possible naturalistic inconsistencies in said situation.

Dog. Fetches stick. None of our dogs fetch sticks.

Stupid DM gimmick here: The girls are always bringing dogs to the game. So: there's a guardian monster (or three) in the pearl palace. Secretly the place is laid out analogously to the actual place we are playing the game in and the movements of the monster are based on the movements of the dogs.

Nondeath situation-altering punishment a PC might face?
The anti-life equation.

Remember how the anti-life equation was supposedly buried in Jimmy Olsen's brain? (Ok, maybe you don't.) I figure the villain can bury the mcguffin formula in the PCs brain. So even if they defeat the villain, it's there waiting.

Other people's interpretations of these and other results are here.
I screwed around with the chart some more and came up with a few elements I like a lot:

-The Aeschylus thing above plus rolling London Fields for the dumb gimmick got me to...every time a PC does x___ (shed blood?) the villain grows stronger. The PCs have to try to do the adventure without doing x or the villain breaks loose.

-For multivalent trick you can use against the scenario, I got "Bloody Hammer" which I decided, based on the lyrics, is a magic item that can cure insanity (or possession) by pounding someone unconscious with it. Greyhawk fans might wanna re-skin it as the mace of St. Cuthbert.

-For New Monster I rolled "Silence of the Lambs". I figure: This is Monster A. Monster A will answer any question about how to defeat Monster/Villain B. However, Monster A grows in power for each answer it gives you. This monster could be the same villain from the Aeschylus thing above or it could be the Wyvern of the Well or it could be some whole other thing.

-I rolled up Basically The Love Boat With A Side of Frank Miller DD Vol 1 (The Elecktra saga). I figure: the Love Chamber from the result above works just fine, however, anyone who is loved due to the Love Chamber is then vulnerable to a geas from an Assassin Stone (or something)(in other words, if you use the love thing then that person can be made to try to kill you).

-For New Monster I rolled Star Wars. Thinking of the Jawas' robot-zapping weapon I came up with a Lodestone Golem. Which is already (Google...) apparently a Magic The Gathering monster but I figure its gimmick here is it's magnetic (oddly not a feature of the Magic monster) and crackling with blue lightning. Worse than a rust monster, if you think about it.

-For Monster--I got The Greased Goat--The Sign of Denied Passions (an astrological sign in WarhammerFRP, if you don't know) and then Bosch for Stupid DM Gimmick. I figure there's a demon called The Thwarter. It approaches in human form. In the course of an ordinary conversation it will find out what the PC wants. Then, so long as the demon lives, the PC will never get that thing (no matter how abstract). Possible addendum: The demons occupy a realm precisely resembling a Bosch painting (pick one and print it out). The PCs have to find the relevant demon, but have to avoid pissing off the other demons in the process.


Some notes:

-Naturally, I'd advise DMs to look at the whole table and cross out any sources/phrases they consider uninspiring and write their own.

-An "after you're sick of a result, cross it out and write your own" rule looks good.

-I generally assumed that any result could be re-skinned to fit a fairly vanilla D&D situation & got what I assumed. Other people didn't and came up with totally chaotic scenarios. Like when I got "Love Boat" I basically parsed apart every idea I associated with the show until I came up with something usable.

-After my first batch, I decided to just keep rolling new sets until whatever I had reached a critical mass of "Oh that's interesting". It may be possible to redesign the procedure to take advantage of this.

So I like my results. But are they any better than if I had just sat and thought of an adventure for that length of time? Who knows, but my thought here is that it's not about the ideas being better than usual, it's about making the process of thinking up adventures fun in a different way than creation-ex-nihilo is.

Like sometimes you wanna write an adventure and sometimes you wanna sit and play Donkey Kong when you should be writing an adventure. If writing the adventure can be effectively made into a game in itself then maybe you get more stuff written and the campaign and the options available are richer for that. hmmmm...


  1. That last bit is key, I think. I couldn't find a satisfying place for the dog in my attempt, but I didn't feel frustrated, and I had fun putting the rest of it together. With a bit of spit and polish, I think I could run whatever output The Table produces.

  2. Nice. You've reawakened one of the eternal two-beer questions raised by intellectual property lawyers: "if I invented a machine for [inventing | creating] things, would I also be the [inventor | creator] of the things that my machine invented?"

    Here you've thrown in enough creativity on your own account, by parsing the table results, that you've clearly established originality. But - what if you open-licensed the table, and someone simply rolled and reported the results? Would you, they, or no-one have natural copyright in the particular random combination of results?

    I am too young to remember, but I think this kind of question came up frequently in the glory days of d&d / t&t / runequest.