A few inspiring d6 tables to get the juices flowing.

A few inspiring d6 tables to get the juices flowing.

When do I use tables like the ones below?

I might use them before the game as my pre-game prep, figuring out a few rumors or a handful of missions or things that might be happening.

I might use one of the d6 tables to figure something out and disclaim some decision making to the dice. Maybe I want 2 factions that are fighting – handy to have 6 factions in a d6 table (or 4 or 8 or 10 or 12 or…you get the idea), isn’t it?

Might use it to figure out what is happening in a part of the map that I did not think the players were going to head into or to flesh out an idea.

Might just use them as lists of cool shit to inspire ideas during play. They can be a good way of writing down the campaign’s starting vibes.

If I’m stuck, I find I can usually write down 6 bullet-point ideas that aren’t fully formed. After that, 6 more bits to spice up those 6 and then one more to add something odd. If you really aren’t sure, put down your 6 favorite monsters, your 6 favorite types of places and 6 more odd things that have nothing to do with anything else. Roll some dice and see what comes of it or pick my favorite from each and see what that inspires.

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PIC: faded gaming table behind the words TEXT: Type of place: 1 Ruined Tower 2 Ancient Temple 3 Beautiful Grove 4 Abandoned castle 5 Barrow 6 Wizard-scorched battlefield Glimmer of Past: 1 Shrine to dead god 2 Statue of a dead dynasty's monarch 3 Dying empire's boundary marker 4 Ancient druidic order's standing stone 5 Ancient road 6 Mass grave from a slaughter lost to history Wild Card: 1 Remnant of a spell gone wrong 2 Spirit, watching and judging 3 Ghost, longing and reaching 4 Bandit scout, hiding and assessing 5 Beast, hunting and sniffing 6 Your favorite monster
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Places Serene Glade Ancient Witch-Tree Coven Devil Gorge Ancient Standing Stones Elf Ruins Raging River Factions (roll twice if you want factions fighting – same result might be in-fighting) Satyrs Queen’s Elves, returning to lands they left long ago Witch-Elves, sworn to fell trees, never left Tieflings (with a keep and small castle town in Devil Gorge) Gnomes, ply the river Scattered human nomads, hither and yon Problems Something ancient has stirred One faction’s forces is stalking the other from stealth One faction’s forces is retreating desperately Diplomacy among two factions is occurring One faction is celebrating a holy day Two factions are trading goods
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The ship is dealing with

1 plague
2 storm damage
3 mutiny
4 a difficult mission ahead
5 being hunted by a sea beast
6 being hunted by a rival ship

Ship type:

2Ship of War
3Whaler/Beast Hunter
4Refugee Ark
6Storm Wizard's Sanctum/Storm Deity's Temple

One more thing:

1 Ghost Ship
2 Treasure Map
3 Storm on the horizon
4 Pirates on the horizon
5 Land Ho!
6 Dragon
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Inspired by:

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Solving Problems with Swords, Necromancy & Laser Pistols ala Troika!

Solving Problems with Swords, Necromancy & Laser Pistols ala Troika!

We played our first game in June, so it was a bit hazy. Luckily, it was a good stopping point, jumping to another world aboard an artifact throne. I asked folks to remember moments where they felt their character come forward and that led to a fun discussion about things we did in the last session.

Solving Problems with Swords, Necromancy & Laser Pistols with Troika!

We ended on the Throne of Air, with young Mallory, a runaway squire from a Temple of Telak (“No, it is tel-AK.”) the Swordbringer asking the artifact to bring them somewhere cool. I said that we’d start the game at the Temple of Ten Thousand Swords but I think there is an adventure with that name already, so in an ancient tongue, ten thousand is shorthand for, more swords than is reasonable to count. Many.

A nameless Necromancer with a co-dependent ghost named Rory, a Nunslinger named Sister Falconius Silvanus and Adamson ‘The Kraken’ Mallory, runaway temple knight of Telak the Swordbringer found themselves in a mountain range, near a temple. Mallory could tell it was a Telakite temple but something seemed off.

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The Prep

Last time we played I rolled dice and inserted factions based on the d66 character types but this time I knew I wanted a temple to Telak the Swordbringer but with a dragon sleeping in it. When I opened the book to look over some rules, I found the Vengeful Child character type. Instead of making a mad libs and rolling dice, I wrote:

Vengeful Children are running amok, wanting to kill the dragon and avenge the burning and pillaging of their town.

BLANK has a spy among the Telakite Monks.

Telakite Sword-Monks are trying to avert the dragons’ wrathful awakening.

I grabbed a map from the amazing Dyson Logos and did a touch of editing. More on editing next time, we ended this session in the midst of some Big Decisions. When we sat down, I filled in the BLANK and it fit into the story whole mess perfectly.

I knew I’d need to make swords and so I made three tables.

1 Longsword
2 Gladius
3 Katana
4 Rapier
5 Saber
6 Two-Hander
1 Runes
2 Star-Metal
3 Tech
4 Blessing
5 Elemental 
6 Spell
SWORDS! Purpose
1 War
2 Fashion
3 Dueling
4 Executions
5 Slaying
6 Ornamental

Shit, do I now need a table of elements? Sure. Do I need two tables of elements? Yes.

1 Fire
2 Earth
3 Water
4 Air
5 See Strange
6 See Strange
Elements, Strange
1 Ice
2 Smoke
3 Mirrors
4 Magma
5 Steam
6 Black Hole

These were dropped into a pretty format for the blog but were just jotted down into my notebook quickly so that I could get this thing down in hopes of getting in a workout and a shower before the game (I got both in!).

I only used the tables once during the game. When they met their first vengeful child, I decided that he had grabbed a sword off the wall and rolled. I got a katana that I called Spring Blossoms on the Wall. Later in the game, when Mallory would use this magical katana to try to thwart a 13 year old girl with a longsword from stabbing the abbot, he’d fail his roll. I asked if he wanted to Try His Luck and see if he could activate the sword’s arcane power. He declined, not wanting to hurt her by accident, which I really liked – felt like a soulful, very real reaction.

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The Characters

The posse we’ve made are in their teens and early twenties and they feel very young. We laugh a whole lot at their shenanigans but it isn’t goofy. There is an emotional core there that I dig. Sister Falconius is a kind of old, cool sister with a laser pistol. The Necromancer without a name who is in an unhealthy relationship with a ghost feels so very much like a young woman before she comes into her own. Mallory is the teenage boy who wants to see the dragon, even though it might spell death for the entire party, because its cool. He carries around swords and has spent his life worshipping a sword-god but isn’t good at swordplay.

They are a hot mess and I adore these teens. Will we see them grow up? Will they survive?

Even without dragons, how did any of us survive those decades growing up?

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For whatever reason, I don’t like the roll under option and use the versus roll for everything. I need to think through what exactly I’m doing when I do that and write that down.

As the game began, I wasn’t sure how the Vengeful Children were doing as they tore through the Temple. I rolled 2d6 for the Sword-Monks and another 2d6 for the Vengeful Children. It was clear that the Sword-Monks had the upper hand and so the game began with a few monks tossing out a bruised and battered kid. I used those numbers I initially rolled for the first few conflicts where the characters tried to use their skills to get some kind of upper hand.

At one point, Sister Falconius tried to kneecap a Sword-Monk and failed the roll. A miss felt wrong. She shot the monk in the head, killing them instantly and accidentally. The monks dropped their staves and put their hands up after that but I feel like we’ll need to see a consequence of that death at some point. I’ve got ideas. I want failed rolls with firearms to be messy affairs.

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Next Time…

This is what happens when you send teens out into the worlds with only laser pistols, swords and necromancy to solve their problems but they also have tools, right out of the Troika! chargen that are better suited for solving actual problems – skills like Awareness, Etiquette and Relationship Counseling.

When we left the group, they had the vengeful children and the Sword-Monks rounded up. The abbot had been stabbed by a child. The six-step countdown clock for the dragon waking up had a few ticks on it. As always, I have no idea where this is going.

After our next game I’ll write about how this mess resolved and will also peel back the curtain more on the prep without worrying about spoiling any sense of mystery for friends at the table.

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Science Fiction Collection
scifi Truesword

Random Table Rolls in Stars Without Number

Last night I knew the players were going to arrive at the Archive Planet. Once it was the home of the Preceptor Archive, the data sent from Olde Earth to this system to support humanity. Recently, this planet fell to Tech Level 2. It was a steam age level of tech. This was all made from rolling up the system years ago. I wrote up what those system tags meant in a google doc.

I went to page 246 in Stars Without Number Revised and rolled a d4, d6, d8, d10, d12 and d20 as the players were getting online and I was chatting with my friend.

What is the conflict About? | Money, extortion, payment due, debts

General Venue of the Event | Next to or in a public park

Why are the PC’s involved? | Participant offers reward for help

What’s the Nature of the Event? | Fires or building collapses are happening

What Antagonists are involved? | A local bully and their thugs

Relevant Urban Features | Unrelated activists are protesting here

I had no idea what all of this meant. I had words written in my notebook:


They landed on this moon, knowing what was written in the Sector Hades Zeta Guide:

The Archive City, The Hades Zeta Library, H.Z.L.

Atmo: Breathable

Temp: Warm

Biosphere: Miscible

Population: 10K

TL:  2

About: Eriphyle is a moon circling a gas giant named Polyxena, from which the system takes its name. Eriphyle shows clear signs of having been terra-formed and is covered in cryptic ruins, showing strong evidence that an alien species was in the sector before human settlement. The outpost is governed by an administration that proudly traces its lineage back to the Preceptor Archive created to track data and offer information access since the first days of human space exploration.

Eriphyle’s knockdown from TL3 to TL2 is a source of fierce shame, as data has become corrupted and lost as information infrastructure broke down and computer networks collapsed. Some archivists still hold out hope that when the archive regains its technological glory, coordinates of Olde Earth will be among the pieces of data uncovered.

Everyone knows that the Guevaran Hegemony is out there and that they have a Preceptor Archive that claims a more pure line to Olde Earth.

The players saw a fire in the distance and when the two soldiers arrived on the scene they saw protestors organizing a protest in a park against the latest Archivist Congress budget cuts. Hegemony loyalists want the rival archive to come and lift the planet out of the steam age. The Samihayan Orthodoxy Loyalists were gunning the protestors down.

The players took action. Witt’s Gudradim Cannibal Hunter killed the shooters, noting that they were being led by Hegemonic Intelligence Agents. They got the wounded to a nearby hospital, which was literally a building plugged into a free merchant ship that belonged to some retired military personnel from a tech level 4 world.

I’m fascinated with the way the tables generate something, that something collides headlong into the system generation and all of that collides with the players (GM included) and their characters and all of their motivations. Somewhere in there an adventure happens.

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