I’m a big fan of random tables. I always have been – there’s something about having a table of possible results but not knowing exactly what the result is going to be that really appeals to me as both a writer and a designer. Many adventures in the Cut to the Chase Games backlog, or at least the seeds of those adventures, were generated using some combination of random tables. I’ve created whole random adventure generators for AD&D 2nd Edition, ones that I cringe over now but I still pull out every now and then to look over fondly.
For me, a random table is a good way to jump start inspiration. If I’m given some crazy elements and told to make a scenario out of it, my mind begins to work to try and stretch the fantastic to encompass some sort of plausible set of adventure parameters. This is one of the many reasons I fell in love with the 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide. Appendix A: Random Dungeons is a literal treasure trove of possibilities. I know it pulls a lot of inspiration from the 1st Edition DMG but that’s not the one I grew up with – I grew up with the AD&D 2nd Edition books, and random tables seemed relegated to the treasure tables and that was it.
But then the Dungeon Builder’s Guidebook came along. It used geomorphs for the random maps, something that never appealed to me, but it came with a lot of really fun tables for random traps along with one of my all time favorite tables for adventures – the random dungeon premutation table. This table was a list of big, thematic changes that could be made to a dungeon setting to make it unique. I still refer to this table from time to time to get inspiration when the well feels a little dry and so far it hasn’t failed me.
All this talk of random tables has put me in the mood to roll some dice. Excuse me while I bust out my Dungeon Master’s Guide and throw a little adventure together!