Bardic Inspiration: Random Roll Settlements For The Lazy GM

Greetings and salutations, my most magnificent meeples. It is I, Ed The Bard, bring to you the first offering of 2017! 

But what could it be? A long essay on the philosophy and pseudo-science of Game Mastering? A primer on the key elements of perfect character creation? A new entry for Campaign Creation, Racial Bias, or Class Acts

Nope! Random Tables!

... I might have a problem.

You know me. I love me some random encounters. I love easy to roll tables. In a weird, strange sort of way, they can be very Zen-like. Also, if you decided to do something silly, like put off game prep for a week, a random table can save your ass.

Case in point, look at me! I should have been a little more attentive in my Game Mastery duties, but with the recent Con schedule and publication work, I've scarcely had time for luxurious things, like sleep. Still, as a Game Master, I have made a solemn vow to provide my players with an evening of entertainment and potential character death.

So, random tables.

Random tables don't write the story for me, but they give me a good jumping off point when my mind is full of too many ideas, or too empty. In my weekly campaign, my players have taken off on a road trip to a mental institution. Sure it's not Disney World, but there are sure to be colorful characters to greet them when they arrive. And, as the old adage says; getting there is half the fun.

The characters have a week a travel between them and the nut house so it would make sense that there be something of interest on the way. Sure, we could do the "Bandits ambush the party along the way" cliche, but that is old hat. Settlements are where the action is. Villages are a whole lot scarier than highwaymen. Ask anyone living in a small town.

Thus, here we are, Ed The Bard's Super-Happy Random Roll Settlement Maker!

Granted, these aren't detailed settlements. The tables below aren't going to give you fully fleshed out towns or cities. They do, however, lay down a foundation, a framework to build a settlement up if your characters are going to spend any amount of time there. Remember, players are chaos generators, and you don't want to put weeks of work into detailing a village or town they are going to spend less than a day in. 

We've all been there, am I right?

*UPDATE 1/28/17
The "What's Down The Road" and the "Type Of Settlement" tables have been adjusted to accommodate more options. Two new tables have been added; "Type of Encampment" and "Type Of Abandoned Structure".

What Is Down The Road? (1d6)
  1. Wayside Inn
  2. Encampment (Roll On Encampment Table)
  3. Fellow Travelers
  4. Bandits
  5. Abandoned Structure (Roll On Abandoned Structure Table; 1-70% Inhabited, 71-100% Uninhabited)
  6. Settlement (Roll On The Settlement Tables)
Type of Encampment (1d6)
  1. Monsterous (Goblin, Orc, Gnoll, etc.)
  2. Military (1-33% Friendly, 34-66% Indifferent, 67-99% Hostile, 100% Roll Again)
  3. Merchant Caravan (Likely To Sell Goods To PCs. Has 1d4 Random Magic Items)
  4. Bandits
  5. Travelling Troupe or Carnival (Entertainers. May Or May Not Contain A Freak Show, Mobile Stage, Or Fortune Teller)
  6. Refugees
Type Of Abandoned Structure (1d10; Attitude Of Possible Inhabitants: 1-50% Friendly, 51-100% Unfriendly)

  1. Keep/Watch Tower
  2. Wizard's Tower
  3. Church/Temple/Shrine
  4. Wayside Inn
  5. Asylum/Hospital
  6. Cemetery
  7. Old Mansion/Manor
  8. Farm/Plantation
  9. Trading Post
  10. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls Of 10.
Type Of Settlement (1d6)
  1. Village
  2. Small Town
  3. Large Town
  4. Small City
  5. Large City
  6. Bustling Metropolis
Distinguishing Physical Features Of The Settlement (1d10)
  1. Walled (Walls Surround The Settlement. 1-40% Wood; 41-90% Stone, 91-100% Other)
  2. Tightly Packed (The Structures Are Close Together)
  3. Built Into A Natural Structure (Cave, Mountainside, Waterfall, Etc.)
  4. Built On The Bones of Ruins (Built Upon A Previously Existing Settlement Or Structure)
  5. Spread Out (Structures Are Set Apart By Large Distances)
  6. Ramshackle (The Structures Are Little More Than Shacks, Huts, Lean-tos, Etc.)
  7. Finely Built (The Structures Are Well Made By Skilled Hands. 1-20% Wood; 21-40% Stone; 41-90% Mix; 91-100% Other)
  8. Near A Body of Water (River, Lake, Ocean, Etc.)
  9. Very Remote (Several Days Ride From Larger Settlements)
  10. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls Of 10.

Attitude Of The Population (1d4)
  1. Indifferent
  2. Friendly
  3. Hostile
  4. Suspicious

Settlement Quirks (1d12)
  1. People Only Ever Come Out At Night.
  2. Most Residents Are Weary Of Outsiders
  3. Everyone Is Entirely Too Polite.
  4. There Are No (1-50% Children; 51-100% Elderly)
  5. The Streets Are Heavily Patrolled By Watch Or Militia,
  6. There Are An Abnormal Number Of Beggars
  7. There Appears To Be No Watch Or Militia Presence.
  8. The Population Is Very Fashionable.
  9. The Population Is Very Poor.
  10. The Settlement Is Entirely Made Up Of A Single Race
  11. The Settlement Is Made Up Of Bickering Clans Or Families.
  12. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls Of 12.

Unique Settlement Features (Roll Twice) (1d12)
  1. Magic Shop
  2. Alchemists' Shop
  3. Weapon/Armor Smith
  4. Gambling House
  5. Brothel
  6. Temple To An Obscure Deity
  7. Military Outpost
  8. Gladiatorial Arena (1-50% Legal; 31-100% Illegal)
  9. Wizard's Tower
  10. Large Mill/Refinery
  11. Bazaar/Open-Air Market
  12. Roll Twice Again! Ignore Rolls Of 12.

Major Factions In The Settlement (1d10)
  1. Mages' Guild
  2. Thieves' Guild
  3. Assassins' Guild
  4. Military (1-50% Current Regime; 51-100% Rebels And Dissidents)
  5. Foreign Embassy (From Other Nations or Races)
  6. Artisans' Guild
  7. Religious Order (1-33% Good; 34-66% Evil, 67-100% Neutral)
  8. Cult Or Secret Society
  9. Monstrous Humanoids (Orcs, Goblinoids, Etc.)
  10. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls Of 10.

Type of Local Government (1d6)
  1. Council
  2. Elected Official
  3. Magocracy
  4. Theocracy
  5. Aristocracy
  6. Anarchy

Conflict (1d12)
  1. A New Organization Has Arisen In The Settlement, Threatening Existing Factions (Roll Again On The Major Factions In The Settlement)
  2. Raids From An Outside Presence
  3. Plague/Illness
  4. Famine/Drought
  5. Impending Natural Disaster
  6. Impending Unnatural Disaster
  7. Serial Killer On The Loose
  8. Rash Of Kidnappings
  9. String Of Robberies/Muggings
  10. Rival Factions Are About To Go To War Within The Settlement
  11. Undead
  12. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls of 12.
Interesting Features/Structures In The Area (1d8)
  1. Ruins
  2. An Abandoned Temple
  3. A Cave System
  4. A Long Forgotten Tomb
  5. A Sylvan Glade
  6. An Abandoned Mine
  7. An Abandoned Keep/Fortress/Tower
  8. Roll Twice. Ignore Rolls of 8

There we go. More randomness for your game session. At this point, with my affinity for chaos, I should really start considering prescribing to a new alignment. I've murdered too many PCs with rapt indifference to be considered Chaotic Good.

Maybe a nice Chaotic Neutral? Though their cries of agony as they write up new characters sings to me like music...

Maybe Chaotic Evil?

But who ever heard of a Chaotic Evil Bard?

Roll well, my friends
+Ed The Bard 

Do you like what you've read? Would you like to see more from Ed The Bard on a regular basis? Then hop on over to my Patreon page and pledge your support. For pennies a day you can get early access to new articles, help choose the next topics I write about, get sneak peeks into upcoming projects, and more! All by becoming my illustrious patron!

Would you like to support the bard in another way, and still get some pretty cool stuff out of it? Kick in the door to the Open Gaming Store. They have a mountain of affordable aids to help you be all the player or Game Master you can be. Just tell them Ed The Bard sent you.

The holidays are here, and shopping can be a drag, especially if you are shopping on a budget. But what if you could give a great gift this holiday season for the price of a crappy, fast food cheeseburger? Behold, Ed The Bard's first published adventure!
The Mines of Dhol Kuldhir, a D&D 5E adventure for first level characters, available now on the Dungeon Masters Guild for only $1.00! Give your friends the gift that keeps on giving; a plethora of potential TPKs.

Looking for an article? Just want to browse the archives? Wander over to my Master List, a directory of every article I've ever written, right here.

Want to stay up to date with The Bard? Follow me on...

YouTube (NEW)

And coming soon to...


Popular posts from this blog

Steal This: 50 Adventure Hooks To Swipe For Your Game

GM Advice: How To Design A City

Steal This! 5 Really Useful Cursed Magic Items