Bardic Inspiration: Another Random-Roll Adventure!
Random roll tables! Random encounters!
Oh sweet baby Gygax, do I have a problem.
I love random tables! I love them in ways that I am not entirely comfortable with yet. And why wouldn't I? Random roll anything is basically at the heart of most any RPG. The players roll dice to determine the success or failure of their actions. The GM rolls (though they really don't need to) in order to determine all manner of things, from encounters, treasure, and randomized NPCs (yes, I know all those examples vary from GM to GM).
Fate has a definitive hand in the games we play. That pure randomization is arguably one of the best elements. It adds a sense of the unknown to the proceedings, to the point that even the Game Master isn't entirely sure what may happen next (though a canny one can go with the flow). It turns the game into a thrill ride, where anything can be around the next corner.
For me, random tables serve something of narrowing ideas. You see I have a lot of ideas just bubbling away in this cauldron of a noggin of mine. So many ideas at any given time that it is hard to narrow them down. They're all good ideas (biased), but I know there is no way I can possibly run all of them, and the prospect of choosing just one is a maddening one indeed. So, when I need something definitive, I sit down and I make a random roll table.
That's right, my hobby-within-a-hobby is making random roll tables.
Recently I cooked one up, just for funsies, and decided to share it with the most intelligent group of role-players that I know (that's you). The scenario is simple; the player characters have been kidnapped. Go!
This scenario is best used as a one shot, a means of starting off a new adventure or beginning a new arc. It assumes the characters are of a good to somewhat good alignment. If you're running an evil campaign, just make some minor adjustments.
Note: This is not a fully fleshed out adventure. The elements of the adventure give the Game Master just enough material to get the gears turning so that they might connect the dots. There are no stats, no mechanics, just story elements.
Also, it should be known that some of the foes may be wildly more popular than the player characters, so discretion is advised. Either scale the enemies down in number or power, trust that the party is clever enough to evade or deal with them, or just let it happen and watch them squirm.
DANCE PUPPETS! DANCE!
Er... sorry about that.
Without further ado, here is "Ed The Bard's Random Roll Kidnapping Adventure" (not the final title...I hope)
The characters find themselves kidnapped. They sit on the floor/ground, hands and legs bound, their heads covered by black sacks. Their minds are fuzzy, making it difficult for them to recall much, let alone why they are bound and blinded.
Who Kidnapped Them?
1 – Bugbear
2 – Drow
3 – Duergar
4 – Dwarf
5 – Elf/Fey
6 – Giant
7 – Gnoll
8 – Gnome
9 – Goblin10 – Goliath
11 – Halfling
12 – Half-Elf
13 – Half-Orc
14 – Hobgoblin
15 – Human
16 – Illithid
17 – Intelligent Undead
18 – Kobold
19 – Lizardfolk
20 – Orc
1 – Assassins/Ninja/Hired Killers
2 – Bandits/Thieves/Criminals
3 – Barbarians/Savages
4 – Cultists/Religious Fanatics
5 – Druids
6 – Mages
7 – Monks
8 – Pirates
9 – Rangers
10 – Warriors/Fighters/Knights/Mercenaries
Who Leads Them? (1d6)
1 – A Member Of Their Own Race (roll on the “Background Table” to determine their role)
2 – A Powerful Priest/Cleric/Cultist (roll on the “Who Kidnapped Them?” table for race)
3 – An Extraplanar Creature (1d8; 1-2 Devil, 3-4 Demon, 5-6 Elemental Being, 7-8 Fallen Angel or Aasimar, 9-10 Fey)
4 – A Powerful Mage (1d6; 1-2 Warlock (or equivalent), 3-4 Wizard, 5-6 Sorcerer; roll on the “Who Kidnapped Them?” table for race)
5 – A Guild/Faction Leader (roll on the “Background" table for their role and the “Who Kidnapped Them?” table for race)
6 – A Powerful Undead (1d6; 1-2 Dracolich (roll on dragon table located in the "Additional - Powerful Enemy" table below for type), 3-4 Lich (roll on “Who Kidnapped Them” table the for base creature), 5-6 Vampire (roll on “Who Kidnapped Them” table for the base creature))
Why Were They Kidnapped? (1d12)
1 – Mistaken Identity: The characters are mistaken for people who look or act similar to them, who have wronged the kidnapping creatures or their master in the past.
2 – Prophecy: The characters were foretold to do something that would greatly impact the creatures, their master, and/or their agenda. The creatures and their leader greatly desire that the characters do not have a chance to achieve their destined goal... or perhaps they intend to help them achieve it.
3 – Enslavement: The creatures have taken the characters for slaves to perform some manner of task for them. The task could be mundane, or something far more dangerous.
4 – Information: The characters know something, or at least it is believed that they do. The creatures are convinced that the characters have some vital piece of information and intend to learn what it is, using torture if necessary.
5 – Imprisonment: The characters have been captured with the intent of keeping them, prisoners. To what end or for what crime, they do not know... yet.
6 – Protection: The characters have been taken in order to keep them safe. Someone or something is hunting them, and the creatures don't want that. Why do the creatures harbor the characters, and what hunts them? To determine the identity of the hunter(s), roll d100; 1-50 roll on the "Who Leads Them?" table and on the "Who Kidnapped Them?" table to determine their minions, 51-100 roll on the "Additional - Powerful Enemy" table
7 – Aid: The creatures need a service performed, be it a monster slain, an enemy defeated, or their people rescued from some manner of plight or catastrophe. They have collected the characters to help them in this task, though it is a mystery of what they will do when the task is completed.
8 – Experimentation: The creatures have some manner of scientific or arcane mind among them that requires fresh test subjects. What kind of experiments do the creatures have planned, and to what end are they experimenting?
9 – Sacrifice: The characters are to be sacrificed to some evil entity or dark God so that the creatures might gain favor with it or forestall some great calamity.
10 – At The Mercy Of Something Greater: The creatures are beholden to something far more powerful than they are, or something that endangers something they hold dear, and will act on this enemy's behalf. Roll on the “Powerful Enemy” table to determine the identity of this enemy.
11 – Food: The characters are the main course in a feast for these creatures. Are they starving, or does ingesting the flesh of the characters hold a more sinister effect?
12 – Stolen: The characters have been taken from the rivals of the kidnapping creatures who kidnapped the characters first. Roll again on the “Who Kidnapped Them?”, “Background?”, and “Who Leads Them?” tables to determine the creatures that kidnapped the party first, and again on the “Why Were They Kidnapped?” table to determine why the original creatures kidnapped them, to begin with.
What Kind Of Environment Were They Taken To? (1d10)
1 – The Sea/Island
2 – Mountain
3 – Forest/Jungle
4 – Desert
5 – Swamp
6 – Tundra
7 – The Underdark
8 – Another Plane
9 – Cave Complex/Massive Cavern
10 – Roll Twice!
Where Are They Now? (d12)
1 – Stronghold/Fortress/Keep
2 – Tower
3 – Palace/Castle/ Manor
4 – Temple/Church/Hidden Shrine
5 – Hideout/Warehouse/Hideaway
6 – Crypt/Tomb
7 – Dungeon
8 – Ruins (Roll 1d4 instead of 1d12 on the “Where Are They Now?” table to determine the type of ruin)
9 – Encampment
10 – Abandoned Mine
11 – Haunted Mansion
12 - Grotto
Additional – Powerful Enemy (1d6)
1 – Fiend (1d4; 1-2 Demon, 3-4 Devil)
2 – Aberration
3 – Dragon ( 1d10; 1 Black, 2 Blue, 3 Green, 4 Red, 5 White, 6 Brass, 7 Bronze, 8 Copper, 9 Gold, 10 Silver)
4 – Undead (1d8; 1 Dracolich (roll on dragon table above for type), 2-3 Lich (roll on “Who Kidnapped Them” table for base creature), 4 Demilich, 5-6 Vampire (roll on “Who Kidnapped Them” table for base creature), 7-8 Death Knight)
5 – Archfey or High Ranking Member of the Fey Court
6 – Giant Lord
And there we are. A few tables provide endless possibilities and combinations, and will easily create a single evening of adventure. In the end, isn't that why you'd want a random table to begin with?
Roll well, my friends
+Ed The Bard
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