Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Table

One day I will devise The Table.

Point is it will be the only table I--or anyone--will ever need.

You will roll on this table and then the whole adventure will be there. And you'll say "excellent idea, table! Let's roll."

I will never have to do any work ever again.

The details are, as yet, poorly worked out. Some things that I know will have to be worked into the table include:

-Leiber levels.

-Post-Burroughsian neoweird iteration density algorithms.


On-line adventure generators often include some fine and gamable ideas, but somehow do not include the important things I feel are the actual hard part about coming up with an adventure.

Like: a level of aesthetic consistency that makes having 3 minotaurs in one room and a robot with flamethrowers for glands in the next room make perfect sense and feel like a luscious dark bite of a rich and chocolatey gameworld full of mystery and specialness and not just two things you rolled up.

I need a rationale generator. Lots of generators will give you 8 giant rats and a pie trap. I need to know why.

Also I need screwy inventive puzzles or dilemmas that no chart could spit out. Like that. I need a table that can invent that. I need an AI.


  1. What you're asking for is what you did with the chunks of our X-Minute Dungeons.

    So, you basically want yourself, but faster.

  2. I'm reading "The Glass Bead Game" right now & as far as I can tell it is just an awesome DM sim.

  3. @Chris

    and better looking and with bigger tits

  4. Serious:
    Look at how to weight future decisions, e.g. if the first room is minotaur themed, make nature/cows/horns more weighted for future decisions.

    Use a random dungeon generator, and feed descriptions of each room to www.cleverbot.com and use cleverbot's responses as the filler text between rooms.

  5. e.g.

    The room is a 10 by 10 foot area, with a troll in the center of the room, and a golden chest behind him.

    Easy, he hung himself by standing on a big ice block and waited until it melted which would leave him hanging there.

    3 minotaurs in one room and a robot with flamethrowers for glands in the next room

    There is no room. There is only well defined space.

    Ok, this sounded good in my head... make sure everyone is high.

  6. @rince

    "serious" is a good idea. but i can't make cleverbot say anything even remotely interesting.

  7. Zak, the better looking/bigger tits thing went without saying. Everything is better with those things.

  8. You could have the generator provide two possible room contents, then in play you decide which one 'makes sense' to be the actual room contents, given the prior rooms and game world, etc. The other option is discarded.

  9. Hmmm. Instead of the cleverbot, try looking for and downloading Megahal, which just might be the basis of cleverbot. The good thing about downloading it is that the initial "brains" are text files that can be edited. It's been years and I don't remember all the details, but I did have a lot of luck editing samples of specific styles of text, such as the books of Genesis and Revelations mixed with quotes from SubGenius sources to create an insane ranty preacher brain. It seems to me that you could assemble snippets of interesting dungeon descriptions to create an initial Megahal brain that spews room descriptions.

    On the subject of The Table specifically, I almost have one. It's part of my dice map fetish, arranging related concepts as spokes around a hub on the map, then rolling two or three dice and assigning the low score to one part of the inspiration and the high score to the other part. For a retor-scifi rocket patrol game I was working on ages ago,I was working on the idea of rolling missions, using the concepts "who's involved" and "what's at risk". I dove into my sketchy notes and found this list of external purpose and internal value pairs:











    Not that it's really usable at this point, but it might be worth a few ideas.

  10. I've been reading the Mythic GM Emulator lately, and I think it can do something like what you want. I think the explanation part could be organized better— maybe by showing a simple flowchart before waxing philosophical —but otherwise it seems like a very usable subsystem to speed up prep or pursue tangents that come up in play in a meaningful way.

    I found it through these actual play threads at the T&T forum:
    * Mythic GM Emulator + Tunnels & Trolls = Awesome
    * Solas, sell sword for hire...

  11. Zak, have looked at Matt Finch's adventure design notebooks? It's the closest thing to what you're imagining that I've ever seen. (And they're damn good too.)

  12. @Ben L

    no but that sounds awesome. googled it and got nothing

  13. @Zak

    And Blackjack and hookers.

    The puzzle part is hardest. The rest is, well... not easy, but imaginable. You need a terrific amount of nouns and adjectives, weighted so that stuff like "minotaur" is slightly more likely to arise than "dirt." The trick is that each word would have keywords associated with it: Everything related to that thing (cow, horn, bull, blah). The Table's job would be to spit all that not-entirely random crap out, then look for matching keywords or failing that, matching keywords of the keywords. Eventually the Table would find what minotaurs and robots have in common, even if it turns out to be Kevin Bacon.

  14. Here's where you can find them. Pretty awesome.