Thursday, June 16, 2016

Adventure Generators

I like adventure generators. A few years ago I came across a really detailed and useful generator for swashbuckling adventures. I blogged about it here. It is called the Swashbuckling Scenario Generator. by Ralph Mazza. I've used his generator to create several adventures for Honor+Intrigue. Like all random generators it requires some interpretation and judgment, but I find such tools a great way of generating new ideas or throwing something even I don't expect and wouldn't have considered into the campaign. The really nice thing about the Swashbuckling Scenario Generator is it really does output the sort of plots one sees in swashbuckling fiction but it has a broader range than do most individual swashbuckling authors since it is clearly culled from many sources.

Unfortunately the game it was designed for never saw print and the generator is no longer directly online, though for now at least it is still available view the Way Back Machine. I'd love to post it or post a modified version for France in the reign of Louis XIII, but I have still not yet succeeded in tracking down Ralph Mazza and I am reluctant to publish it without permission. But great minds and all that, I came across a short adventure generator on the Wine and Savages blog by Sean Tait Bircher & Robin English-Bircher. It's designed for Champions of the People (a game I am not familiar with). The game seems focused on populace heroes like Zorro and Robin Hood. Here it is:

Champion of the People Adventure Generator

The authors note that the tables need to customized or interpreted based on settings, e.g. "Zorro’s California is much more likely to suffer a drought than Robin Hood’s England." The generator has several tables.
Roll once on Table 1 for Villain, once on Table 2 for villain’s target, once on Table 3 for Threat, and once on Table 4: Is This a Trap?
Obviously Table 1: Villain needs to be customized to the setting. We have four different types of villain:
  • Local Authority (Captain Ramon, Sheriff of Nottingham, crimelord, etc.)
  • Higher Authority (governor of California, Prince John, etc.)
  • Unaffiliated Criminal (roll on Table 1a)
  • Innocent in the Wrong (roll on Table 2: Innocent)
The Local Authority and Higher Authority will need customization. If the location is the city of Paris, the local authority would be the Provost of Paris who commands the Archers of Paris, the closest thing to a city police that Paris has in the time period. He'd be the nearest equivalent to Captain Ramon or the Sheriff of Nottingham. Because my campaign is not as focused as are stories about Zorro or Robin Hood, I'd probably include other local authorities - though for a shorter, more focused campaign selecting a single local foe as the major target might be smart move. The higher authority in Paris would be King Louis XIII or, more probably, the Cardinal. Thanks in part to Dumas, the Cardinal often ends up as a villain.

If the setting was in the provinces outside of Paris, the local authority would be the governor of the closest city or biggest, closest town and the higher authority would be the provincial governor or again, the Cardinal. If the setting doesn't have close city or town, then just drop the Provincial Governor or Lieutenant Governor to play the local roll. To add depth to the campaign one could add three levels of authority, e.g. a town governor, a provincial governor, and the Cardinal as the final villain. Once they defeat, expose, or the players tire of the Governor they discover that the Governor is just a pawn of the Cardinal.

Unaffiliated Criminal and Innocent in the Wrong work just fine as is. The six criminals types listed in Table 1a: Unaffiliated Criminal work just fine for 17th century France. So no change needed there. Similarly the four innocents listed in Table 2: Innocent are all fine for a French setting. If the setting is a city, like Paris I'd tweak Table 2a: Local Notable by swapping a  Jurist or Lawyer for the Land Owner.

Table 3: Threat works just fine as it is.

One final tweak I'd make is to Table 4: Is This a Trap? I'd start out with at least the first adventure or two as strstraightforward and not a trap. If the first experiences the players have is "Its a trap!" then they are likely to have a hard time getting into the good guy behavior. After they've solved one or two straightforward problems then I'd allow them the chance for a trap.

So have you found any interesting tables for generating adventures?


  1. Thanks! It's nice to see a fellow swashbuckling enthusiast approving of the generator.

    "Champion of the People" is just the type of hero the generator is meant for, not a specific system -- though now I'm tempted to write at least a short Savage Worlds supplement with that title.

    I completely agree that a Game Master should ignore the entire Is This a Trap? table until the heroes are well-established. They need to make some enemies first before those enemies start laying traps for them.

  2. A supplement like that sounds. Tables targeted for different types of PC hero would also be pretty cool. One for a Solomon Kane style hero would be a nice add on for the Savage Worlds of Solomon Kane. Hmmm....

  3. Very cool. I'm putting together a spreadsheet that can automate the output of each type of scenario with the touch of a button (each in its own tab). I'd be happy to share with you - and discuss some adventure ideas - if there's a way to get in touch.