My idea for random tables of all things

mgckg

Do you guys use random tables in your games? Part of me, being an old gamer that started GMing in the early 80’s, likes them. Another part of me finds them cumbersome.

Somehow, I’m looking for a jack-of-all-trades approach… like writing one or two general tables that point to different methods of creative mayhem to determine what happens.

e.g.

Random Encounter Table to Rule Them All

1- Use the tarot
2- Use numerology
3- Grab your Magic deck and draw a card. That.
4- Open the book that’s on the nearest shelf to your right. Blindly choose a word.
5- Play a random song from your mp3 collection.
6. The 1d6th player to your right. The 1d10th letter of his complete name (first, middle and last). The encounter starts with that.

Example:

The party is wandering in hilly grassland, a Europe-like setting in the fantasy medieval ages. Possibilities of an encounter, according to the table above:

Tarot: I pull „King of Cups“. It stands for a man who is in control over his emotions. He has vast empathy, and my deck (Morgan-Greer) portrays him in a way that makes him look like a mage to me. So that he his. The card indicates that he is peaceful and willing to help. Another draw of the deck reveals his motivation: the Four of Swords, mental blockage, a stagnation. For a mage, this means he has trouble casting spells. He’s looking for a cure, that’s the reason the characters meet him here.

Numerology: The player next to me plays the character who is first to stumble into that encounter. The player’s name is Robert. I take the numerological value of the first letter of his first name, R, which is 9. Nine, numerologically speaking, symbolizes empathy and selflessness. 9 is patient, loving and giving. I immediately think of a wandering cleric of the order of Santa Anna, the holy mother. Motivation: The next letter of Robert’s first name is O, a numerological 6. Six is the number of the family, of togetherness. The cleric is on his way to a clerical meeting of some sorts.

Magic deck (I don’t have any, but I use an online MtG randomizer): Razorfield Rhino, a mean monster. Basically, a raging, intelligent rhino with a skin and horns of metal.

Book: „Raja Yoga“, by Vivekananda. „Willpower of the ruler“, it says where my finger is resting. Now this suddenly seems like a not-so-benign encounter. A sorcerer, definitely, with bad intentions. What motivates him? Another random look in the book: „There are things that are much higher.“ Uh-oh. So the sorcerer has a boss, and from the sound of it, it’s probably a demon or a similar evil creature.

Random song: Electric Wizard, „Vinum Sabbathi“. One line is hammering into my head: „I awake on planet black / Freezing moon, no turning back“. Uh-oh! Phase shift! This is one of the rare occurances in our game world where an interplanar gate or vortex opens. What’s behind it? The chorus tells me: „Forbidden sorcery“…

The (roll, roll) 3rd player to my right. The (roll, roll) 7th letter of his full name is an E. An elephant. But not your boring, off-the-shelf elephant, but the much huger version, bred for the battlefield, fighting for the Lords of the Red Castle. And it’s angry. Because it (roll, roll, the 5th letter of the player’s full name is a Z) was taken captive by the likewise evil sorcers of the Zos Kia Cult, dangerous iconoclastic chaos mages bent to destroy the order of the world. The gods know what those sorcerers did to him. So yes, he’s mad, and it looks like the party has ticked him off, somehow.
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