In my short, sharp review of Scenic Dunnsmouth at the end of the last post, I listed what I felt were its shortfalls when I was running it, chief of which was the lack of inter-NPC relationships.
Well instead of crying about it, what I did was start working on my own town generator using a set-up method inspired by Scenic Dunnsmouth, and it’s done now.
What you do is this:
- Roll 20d6, 1d4, and a couple of d12‘s if you feel like it (I threw them in for flavour as an afterthought, like a final dash of paprika). Either do it on a big piece of paper or take a photo that you can pretty-up using a future box.
- Remove any d6 that has a result lower than the d4, so that you end up with something like below (click on the pictures to make them bigger and better).
[Edit: Originally the idea of removing d6‘s lower than the d4 was to vary the size of the town, but I think a better use of it would be to vary how many groups have a Common Curiosity, to lower the chance of having an overwhelming amount of things going on at the same time. So, roll 10 + d10 d6‘s, and that’s the variable town size. Then, re-roll each lot of d6‘s with a result equal to or higher than the d4 and look up the result on the Common Curiosity table.]
- Each d6 is somebody’s house!
- Mark where all of the dice landed, then re-roll each lot of d6‘s that have the same number and look up the result on the Common Curiosity table below.
- Re-roll the d4 on the table corresponding to its number for the most significant/interesting feature of the town. The group that matches its original number is the most closely associated with it.
- Look up the result of the d12‘s on the Other Features of Interest table.
- Then roll on Who’s In Charge Here? to find out who’s in charge here.
|Re-roll d6's||Common Curiosity|
|1||Ostracised from the community, more than happy to help ruin the plans of others for good or bad.|
|2||Were once caught in a compromising position with a well-bred member of large livestock. It brings everyone else great joy to ensure they never live it down.|
|3||Have a surprisingly large assortment of goods for trade or sale.|
|4||Incredibly friendly, attempting to summon an earth-shaking terror using an underground shrine they found, need help recovering the innocuous missing pieces.|
|5||Fervent devotees to a known religion.|
|6||Protectors of an ancient and terrible secret.|
|8||Members of the same bloodline.|
|9||Addicted to a strange and wonderful new drug they have discovered.|
|10||Under the influence of a sentient plant growing in the area, its form depends on the number of homes affected:
1-2 Discoloured patches on the skin, small hidden sprouts.
3-5 Root clusters in the darkness at the back of their throats, speaking for them, a fledgling mother plant beginning to grow in the area.
6+ A large, established plant, protected by those given over more wholly to its symbiosis.
|11||Insect cult. If six or more homes are affected, a shrine containing a physical manifestation of their worship exists in the area.|
|12||Aggressive/distrustful towards outsiders.|
|13||Dress like demons and prance around burning pyres when the moon is full.|
|15||Share a psychic connection to one another that allows them to simultaneously experience everything that happens to each individual member, and grants them terrifying powers of the mind when their number exceeds fourteen.|
|16||Extremely welcoming towards outsiders.|
|17||Enthusiastic practitioners of a strange pastime.|
|18||Speak in a dialect not used for centuries.|
|19||Organic body-horror replacements from a fallen star in the hills. They smell of thyme and their flesh is all-too pliable.|
|20||Will attempt to burn Magic-Users and Clerics like witches.|
|21||Capture children of all ages as offering to the toad beast in the woods for the protection of the town. The sacrifices sleep curled within amber pus-filled holes in the hardened skin of its belly until they emerge as misshapen and fantastic children of the fae.
The rest of the town is oblivious.
|22||Their windows are dark and they do not answer their doors.|
|23||Share a competitive rivalry over something quaint.
(Hunting, baking, growing large vegetables, needlework, gardening, offering sacrifices to their abhorrent god, etc.)
|24||Are afflicted by a terrible, undocumented ailment.|
|25||Wash their dead in the creek and bury them beneath the silt, returning in a week's time to retrieve their bare, yellowed bones.|
|26||Form the militia of the Blue Palm, adept in the use of paralytic poisons derived from local flowers.|
|27||Incredibly eager to marry-off/apprentice their sons and daughters, will go to great lengths to prove the superiority of their children over their neighbour's.|
|28||Summoned a melting pyramid-headed lady of unspeakable lust and terror as a plaything and instead became her emotional puppets. She can't hurt them but is trying damned hard to make them hurt themselves, she can't leave this plane of existence until they are all dead. She resides in secret at the home nearest to the centre of the group and she hates it here.|
|29||Esoteric horticultural society, with a 3 in 6 chance of having access to any rare plant you care to mention and a high likelihood of losing their minds over any specimens of your own you'd like to share.|
|30+||Recently welcomed the offspring of their god into the womb of a blushing bride on her wedding night, we're all terribly proud.|
|d4||d4 result of 1|
|1||A partly-excavated ziggurat hewn from seemingly moist red stone.|
|2||A shunned manor.|
|3||Large statue of a many-armed woman dangling various iron scales from chains. A golden swine stands in one of the largest, holes in its back collect rainwater that drains slowly from its teats over time. Various wedding rites and legal proceedings are conducted by filling the other scales then climbing into the final scale to release the lever protruding from the statue's mouth to discover if they match the weight of the swine.|
|4||A series of bronze columns wrapped in thick, healthy vines, bearing forth sprays of waxy leaves and plump purple fruits.|
|d4||d4 result of 2|
|1||An obscenely elaborate gateway to nowhere.|
|2||A well-equipped timber fort, with the severed heads of horses impaled on pikes at intervals around its perimeter.|
|3||A strange sinkhole rife with brilliantly-coloured fungus.|
|4||Monolith of carven white soapstone in the centre of town. Rearrange the houses so that they form rough curving lines radiating out from the monolith.
Most of the townspeople seem entirely unaware of this pattern, but once you mention it to them will descend into obsession over it, eventually seeking to unlock the monolith and what lies beneath.
|d4||d4 result of 3|
|1||Clusters of huge pink-tinged crystals growing from some obscured central mass.|
|2||Memorial crypt holding the fallen of past battles, decorated above by the bones of their enemies.|
|3||Bridge over an algae-strewn stream, drilled full of holes. It is a rite of passage for the young men, not for pleasure, but to deny the begging crone of the water their manhood while she gnaws at their thighs.|
|4||Elaborate tower like one big perpetual motion water mechanism built around a seemingly bottomless pool full of golden eels.|
|d4||d4 result of 4|
|1||Many-spired black stone church casting a cryptic shadow.|
|2||A mostly-ransacked library and observatory converted into a watchtower.|
|3||An enormous pale tree, its reaching branches dropping soft purple leaves over the town. Lost baby teeth have been hammered into its twisting trunk, gradually sucked in over the years, and a dark hole gapes near its swollen roots, the faint soft sound of moving air.|
|4||An alchemist's pit of living molten metal contained below a ring of standing stones and a descending spiral staircase.|
|d12||Other Features of Interest|
|1||Weather-worn image of an old god.|
|2||Mystically placed patterns of stones.|
|3||Evidence of some recent natural disturbance.|
|6||Verdant hole in the earth.|
|9||Remains of destroyed structure.|
|10||Site of recent slaughter.|
|11||Patch of stubborn forest.|
|d10||Who's In Charge Here?|
|1||The nearest odd number to the d4.|
|2||The nearest even number to the d4.|
|3||The nearest matching number to the d4.|
|4||The furthest matching number from the d4.|
|5||The furthest odd number from the d4.|
|6||The furthest even number from the d4.|
|7||Council with a representative from each number group lower than the d4.|
|8||Council with a representative from each number group.|
|9||Council with a representative from each number group higher than the d4.|
|10||We do not speak its name.|
After that, things start to look like below:
- The green group’s re-roll totals 7: Cannibals.
- The pink group’s re-roll totals 16: Extremely welcoming towards outsiders.
- The blue group’s re-roll totals 15: Share a psychic connection to one another that allows them to simultaneously experience everything that happens to each individual member, and grants them terrifying powers of the mind when their number exceeds fourteen.
- The purple group’s re-roll totals 12: Aggressive/distrustful towards outsiders.
- And lonely old yellow’s re-roll comes up as 4: Incredibly friendly, attempting to summon an earth-shaking terror using an underground shrine they found, need help recovering the innocuous missing pieces.
- The d4 gets rolled on the d4 result of 2 table and turns out to be an obscenely elaborate gateway to nowhere. The group most closely associated with it are the 2’s: the cannibals.
- The d12 with a result of 2 is a mystically placed pattern of stones.
- The d12 with a result of 6 is a verdant hole in the earth.
- The Who’s In Charge Here? roll came up as 5: the furthest odd number from the d4. So that’d be whoever Pink A is.
And now we want to know who freaking lives here and what their beef is!
- Roll 1d8, 1d20, 1d6, and 1d4 for each house, and look up the results on the tables below (the d4 is just to determine which house the d6 relates to).
- The relationship table may seem weighted with negative/sinister results, but bear in mind that there are going to be a lot of houses that don’t have a direct relationship stated, so there’s every chance that everyone else is buddies, these are just the more gameable relationships.
|d8||Who Lives In This House?|
|1||Couple and 1d8 -2 children.|
|2||Single adult and 1d8 -2 children.|
(roll again for family status)
|8||d4+1 friends and lovers.|
|3||Harbours terrible suspicion.|
|4||Owes a debt.|
|6||Long family history.|
|16||Knows varied secrets.|
|1||The d4th nearest odd number.|
|2||The d4th nearest even number.|
|3||The d4th nearest matching number.|
|4||The d4th furthest matching number.|
|5||The d4th furthest odd number.|
|6||The d4th furthest even number.|
Which makes the groups look like this:
- Green A: a couple and their three children, they have some kind of distrust regarding Green B.
- Green B: three associates and one of them is having an affair with a member of the Green A household, so the distrust might be over that, or concern that they’ll betray the whole “cannibal” thing.
- Pink A: a single adult and their five children, they’re in business with Pink D.
- Pink B: a bachelor who has a rival with the nearby 4 (Blue A).
- Pink C: a bachelorette involved in a blood feud with the nearby 6 (Yellow A).
- Pink D: a Specialist living with four friends and lovers, who has some kind of political involvement with Pink B.
- Pink E: a Fighter living with his wife and children, who is blackmailing Pink C.
- Blue A: a couple and their four children, who have some kind of political involvement with the nearby 2 (Green A).
- Blue B: four associates who know varied secrets regarding the far 2 (Green B), which means the whole Blue group knows due to their psychic connection.
- Blue C: a pair of lovers who find great joy in mocking the far 5 (Purple A).
- Blue D: a pair of lovers who have a long family history with Green A.
- Purple A: a bachelor who is firm friends with Purple C.
- Purple B: extended family living together, betrayed the nearby 6 (Yellow A).
- Purple C: bachelorette blackmailing Yellow A.
- Yellow A: a Cleric who yearns for the nearby 3 (Pink C), which is kind of difficult due to their blood feud.
Which makes the whole town look like this:
So we’ve got a large number of stranger-friendly homes involved in governing, blackmail, and political scheming, a small group of cannibals involved with some mystical gateway who seem to be about to implode, a group of psychically connected households who have a long history with the cannibal family, know all about the adulterous indiscretions, and seem to be trying to orchestrate some kind of political scheme of their own, and a few xenophobic households terrorising the poor lovesick Cleric who wants to summon the earth-shaking terror he found below the ground.
Now towns have more than houses, and there’s a good chance that the players will be looking for somewhere to get drunk or buy a sword or pay to ride a pony, but setting all that up as well will take too long.
- If the players are looking for a service that would reasonably be in the town, roll a d6.
- The lower the number the better the quality of the service, if it’s a 6 you just, you probably don’t want to even go there. Place it near a random matching number (or the closest number if none match).
- If the players are looking for a service that’s a bit more specific but still plausible, like a soothsayer or a master cheesemaker, there’s a chance in d6 equal to 5 minus the result of the d4 of it being there (so if the original d4 roll was a 3, there’s a 2 in 6 chance of finding specialist services in the town).
And now that that’s all sorted, all I need to do is pull up the NPC Birthing Sacs and click the button a few times per househ0ld to get some names and drapery, and this shit is good to go.
Glyceria Albumuth (Pink A), is a naive and incredibly large young woman who inherited control of the town when her husband disappeared, along with sole responsibility for their five children. She’s in business with Lazzaro de Balzac (Pink D), a quietly spoken lover of many and sociopath, butchering the animals he traps to be sold to the rest of the town. She is entirely unaware that he is plotting to supplant her control of the town with Caal-Nuggoth Ubral (Pink B), a slender old lotus addict involved in quiet rivalry with Danzig and Jezebel Barringhaus (Blue A), who he suspects are also plotting to snatch control.
Meanwhile Augustine Viricuse (Green A) is distracted by his suspicions about his wife Porphyria and Henrietta Stanislaus (Green B), unaware that far from simple political goals, the Barringhaus family and all those they are psychically connected with are manipulating him in order to open the gateway and take control of it. He doesn’t even remember placing the rune-stones nearby his house last night.
Brockhaus Brdjanin (Pink E), a gaunt, money hungry Sword-Whore, is blackmailing Vera Voss Bachen (Pink C) for money, and sexual favours. He knows about the unnatural shriveled third arm she hides bundled within her clothing and the portents inscribed in its flesh, and he knows there are those in the town who would not react kindly if they were privy to that information. Vera channels her disgust and rage into a blood feud directed at Daemos Al Anan (Yellow A), who she blames for her father’s death.
Sama’el Maw (Purple B), the Herald of Woe, betrayed Daemos Al Anan, claiming to be unable to help him purge a wasting sickness from Vera’s father Sebastian, which eventually lead to his death, knowing full well that she could have saved him at any time, as it was she who cursed him. She lives now surrounded by her descendants and her secrets, one of which she passed on to her granddaughter Lol’th Vagha (Purple C), who now uses it to torment and control Daemos Al Anan. This secret is that Daemos Al Anan reached out to some other power to halt his friend’s decay in a moment of desperation. He is not dead. Though his form is much changed and he waits suspended in a moment, and the sight of him would surely drive Vera insane.
For his part, Daemos Al Anan yearns to be able to tell Vera the truth, and to hold her, for he has always loved her. He has found a shrine to the power that answered him below the earth, but it is not complete, something is missing. He needs this last piece to be able to call upon the power that he tasted so long ago, to right all that is now wrong, to recover his life, if only someone could help him find it.
Aaaand that’s not everyone but they’re the most interesting people so that’ll do, pig.
If you don’t mind improvising your arse off and acting like you knew about the eventual connections all along you could probably get away with rolling this right at the table, but it’s a much better idea to just generate a few when you’ve got a spare hour and have them lying around for the next time your players stumble into a random town.
Here, take away the tables in PDF form, or get it later from Penny Pamphlets.
I wish to almighty Ghu that I could take this post and wave it in front of the folks I was arguing with the other day about random tables and their (to them) dubious utility and how they felt you needed to carefully hand-craft urban environments because players wouldn’t accept randomly generated whatevers and announce that YES YOU DIPSHITS, IT ACTUALLY WORKS.
TL;DR: this is awesome. Reminds me of the kind of thing you get from Fiasco.
Hahaha I pity the DM that has to meticulously research and construct every part of their game so that their players don’t gently push themselves away from the table saying, in a low voice, with slightly pursed lips, “no… no I don’t think so”.
Besides, in my experience it’s the carefully constructed rather than randomly generated environments that tend to feel a bit stale under the teeth as a player.
“The fuck? This wall is Styrofoam!”
I can’t wait to try this. Looks great!
I’m very late to the game with this. But this is amazing. Between the Vornheim and Dunnsmouth supplements, it wouldn’t be difficult to extrapolate this out to procedurally generate an entire kingdom.
Still coming back to this for ideas 6 years later