Random Adventure Creator

Last 3 Edits

  • 9th Mar, 2018. Added several sources. Some extra Villian ideas from Shane.
  • Added a Where to Next section to try and make it clear this is NOT about detailing a whole adventure - it is for the OUTLINE. We have many other docs/sources to detail the parts of the adventure.
  • Changed reference to Dungeon mag to Dragon mag. Doh! AND added actual issue number.
  • 8th Mar, 2018. Added level of adventure to the start. Changed Goals to Adventure Seeds.
  • 7th Mar, 2018. Made some adjustments and additions. Moved some entries from Adv Types to Goals.

Books/Sources used so far.

5E DMG
Dragon Mag #274 (the article that inspired this).
3E DMG2
PF GamesMastery guide
SW Pirates of the Spanish Main
Ultimate toolbox
SW Sundered Skies
SW Soloman Kane


Random Fantasy Adventure Creator

As I love to do things randomly, I love nothing better than throwing together an adventure using a whole bunch of random elements. Thankfully, there are already several 'adventure generators' and tables in some of my favourite RPG books, so I am just collating them all here in one place. You cannot put the adventure together from the tables here alone. You will need to consult the reference materials.

Note that these are overall guidelines to help put the 'big picture' of the adventure together. Individual encounters may vary from this framework. For example, if you roll that the PCs receive "No Donations" for the adventure it doesn't mean that they can't receive a little help during single encounters. This help is just not going to stay around or help solve the main situation. (Encounter building should still follow all the guidelines for doing so).


Adventure Basics & Location

This step is merely for the GM to add some structure to the adventure. It also directs you to the relevant section of advice in the 5E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide and some other charts, such as goal may refer you back here.
To generate any location that is not already detailed use our Realms Creation docs. (The Ultimate Toolbox also has many tables for most locations).

Roll Type Notes & Source
1 Location-Based (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
2 Event-Based (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3); Social events
3 Mystery (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3; Pathfinder GamesMastery Guide ch 8); See the many tables in Ultimate Toolbox starting page 328.
4 Intrigue/Political (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3; 3E Dungeon Master's Guide 2 ch 3 (inc table of random politics))
5 Roll twice and combine the results.

Tier of Play (Level)

Obviously, if you are generating this for a group of players, you will know the tier (and probably exact level) you want to create this for. If just doing to generate any adventure, have at it.

Roll Location Notes
1 Tier 1: Introductory adventure. D&D: Level 1.
2 Tier 1: Local heroes (5E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide ch1) D&D: Levels 1-4.
3 Tier 2: Heroes of the Realm (5E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide ch1) D&D: Levels 5-10.
4 Tier 3: Masters of the Realm (5E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide ch1) D&D: Levels 11-16.
5 Tier 4: Masters of the World (5E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide ch1) D&D: Levels 17-20.

Location

WHERE is a majority of this adventure going to take place? Some adventure types might make this obvious.

Details can be added to any of these locations by using the tables in the sources listed AND our Realms Creation Rules.

Number of Locations
Roll Location Notes
1 1 Location Roll from options on table below.
2 2 Locations Roll from options on table below.
3 3 Locations Roll from options on table below.
4 4 Locations Roll from options on table below.
5 1d6 Locations Roll from options on table below.
Random Locations
Roll Location Notes & Source
1 Dungeon Determine type on Dungeon Location table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5) OR Types of Dungeons (Pathfinder GameMastery Guide ch 7)
2 Wilderness For each location roll on the Random Terrain below. For each different wilderness terrain, roll on the Wilderness Features table below.
3 Settlement Many tables (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5; Ultimate Toolbox; our Realms Creation system).
4 Urban Many tables (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5; Ultimate Toolbox; our Realms Creation system).
5 Social Event Roll on Event table in SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p200. Follow up with a result - something that happens there.
6 Unusual/Fantastic Sky, Underwater, At sea/on ship, Magical, Portal, Planar, Evil crypt, Burning building etc. Roll a random book/source then random location. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5 (underwater & sky); 3E Dungeon Master's Guide 2 ch 2; 4E Dungeon Master's Guide 2 ch 2; 3E D&D Dungeon Master's Guide II p237)
7 Already detailed Use a location already detailed from a random book/mag on shelf or in folders.
8 Setting location Randomly determine or select a location that is specific or iconic to the setting. Most setting books will have a list or many descriptions to choose from. (eg. Location table in SW Sundered Skies p85.
9 Random inspired locations Roll on Adventure Locations (The Lazy Dungeon Master p34).
Wilderness Random Terrain
Roll Terrain Notes & Source
1 Arctic
2 Coast
3 Desert
4 Forest
5 Grassland
6 Mountain
7 Swamp
8 Underdark
Number of Wilderness Features
Roll Location Notes
1 0 Features -
2 1 Feature Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Features Roll from options on table below.
4 3 Features Roll from options on table below.
Wilderness Random Features
Roll Terrain Notes & Source
1 Monster Lair (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5)
2 Monument Roll on the Monuments table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5) OR on Monument Description table in (Ultimate Toolbox p107)
3 Ruins (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5)
4 Settlement (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5)
5 Stronghold (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5)
6 Weird Locale Roll on the Weird Locales table. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 5)
7 Scenic Spot Roll on the Scenic Spots table (Pathfinder GameMastery Guide ch7)
8 Specific Terrain Roll on one of two Terrain tables (Ultimate Toolbox p50).

Setting Up the Situation

Adventure Seed

A seed may be framed as a goal to be accomplished or a simple situation that has arisen and needs dealing with. WHAT do the adventurers need to do? Or what do the adventurers WANT to do? You could choose a seed after the players have indicated what they want to do nest, otherwise roll. Some seeds will direct you back to the type of adventure you determined above.

Roll Goal/Aim Notes & Source
1 Dungeon Goals (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
2 Wilderness Goals (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
3 Event-Based Goals (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
4 Other Goals Roll on Other Goals table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3) OR Story Goals table (Ultimate Toolbox p311).
5 Adventure Simply head out to seek fortune & fame. Roll on the Adventure table (SW Sundered Skies p80)
6 Employment Taking on an honest job, such as guard duty. Roll on the Employment table (SW Sundered Skies p82)
7 Trade Mainly for PCs that have a ship or means of transport. Roll on the Trade table (SW Sundered Skies p84)
8 Crime PCs take on a job outside the law. Roll on the Crime table (SW Sundered Skies p86)
9 As type If type of adventure matches one of above entries, use that.
10 Seeds Roll on the Adventure Seeds or Movie Inspired Quests tables (The Lazy Dungeon Master p33).
11 Framing Event After determining what this is on the Framing Events table, roll again (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3).

Victim

WHO needs help?
The above goals might already have a victim, but you may assign a 50% chance to change that victim by rolling below.

Number of Victims
Roll Victim Notes
1 No Victim Some goals require a victim. Roll again.
2 1 Victim Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Victims Roll from options on table below.
4 Fake Victim Victim is actually part of the situation - could have played the victim to lure people into adventure.
Random Victims
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on Victim table (Dragon Magazine #274)
2 Roll a random encounter from appropriate encounter tables to determine victim.

Villain

WHO is the main threat or behind the situation?

A solo villain is typically 1d6 CR above party level -1 CR for every sidekick or minion group that are likely to fight alongside the villain. (Not every sidekick or minion group in adventure - just those that are likely to be encountered alongside the villain). Halve this difference for low level play.

Number of Villains
Roll Victim Notes
1 No Single Villain There is not a single big bad to be defeated. Lots of minor plotting parties, or a small group in over their head.
2 1 Villain Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Competing Villains 2 Villains are trying to beat each other to the same situation.
4 Fake or Faceless Villain PCs learn of the villain early on, but they are not really the villain or they never really get to meet the villain as it stays behind the scenes and distant. You could roll again to see if their is a real villain for the fake one.
5 Many Villains There is a whole cast of villains. 3-6 is a good number. This is more likely for an Intrigue adventure.
Random Villains
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on The Villain table (Dragon Magazine #274)
2 Roll on the Adventure Villains table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
3 Roll on Villain table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p195 OR SW Soloman Kane p135)
4 Roll on either of the Villains tables (Ultimate toolbox p318)
5 Roll on the Crime Villain table (SW Sundered Skies p86)
6 Organisation One of villians is actually a random group from the setting/area or even PCs' relationships.

Most NPCs should follow NPC creation rolls, but these tables are crucial as they will affect the main plot of an adventure.

Villain's Scheme/Motivation
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on The Villain's Scheme table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 4).
2 Roll on Villain Goal table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p195 OR SW Soloman Kane p135).
3 Roll on either of the Villains Goals tables or the Hidden Agenda table (Ultimate toolbox p322).
4 Roll on either or both the Bad Objectives and the Bad Motives tables (2E D&D Complete Book of Villains p126).
Villain's Method
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on The Villain's Methods table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 4)
2 Roll on Bad Methods table (2E D&D Complete Book of Villains p125).
Villain's Source of Power
If this does not conflict with direct stats for villain, you can roll here.
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on Source of Power table (2E D&D Complete Book of Villains p126).
Number of Henchmen
For each villain see if they have other trusted sidekicks or lieutenants and cannon fodder or minions. Method (above) may already pre-determine at least one of these.
Roll Location Notes
1 0 Henchmen Villain works alone.
2 1 Henchmen/Group Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Henchmen/Groups Roll from options on table below.
4 3 Henchmen/Groups Roll from options on table below.
5 4 Henchmen/Groups Roll from options on table below.
6 1d6 Henchmen/Groups Roll from options on table below.
Villain's Henchmen
Roll Notes & Source
1 Related Minions. Many lower intelligent CR creatures. Use recommended creatures from the villain's 5E Monster Manual entry OR simply low CR creatures of same/similar type.
2 Any Minions. Many lower intelligent CR creatures. Use low CR creatures common to the location. Use encounter charts or one of many tables in Ultimate Toolbox.
3 Related Beasts. Many lower CR beasts. Use recommended creatures from the villain's 5E Monster Manual entry OR simply choose some appropriate low CR beasts.
4 Related Leader. A creature of a lower CR than villain. Use recommended creatures from the Villain's 5E Monster Manual entry OR simply a lower CR creatures of same/similar type.
5 Unrelated Leader. A creature of a lower CR than villain. Use creature type common to the location. Use encounter charts.
6 Roll on Villainous Henchmen table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p197)
7 Roll on either of the Henchman tables or the Brute table (Ultimate toolbox p319)
8 Roll on Villainous Henchmen table (SW Soloman Kane p138)

Hook

HOW are the PCs introduced to the adventure. Also called 'Mediations' or 'Introduction'.

Random Hooks
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Mediations table (Dragon Magazine #274)
2 Roll on the Adventure Introduction table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
3 (Urban only) Roll on Town & City 50 Rumours & Hooks table (3E Dungeon Master's Guide 2 ch 3)
4 Roll on Hook table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p196 OR SW Soloman Kane p135)
5 Roll on Adventure Instigation table (Ultimate Toolbox p310)
6 The adventure involves one of the PC's relationships, such as the villain being from enemy organisation or victims from a friendly one. They make good patrons too ;)
7 Roll twice. (See if you can combine OR different PCs are introduced in different ways.

Patrons

WHO is going to back the PCs to go on this adventure. Again - this may be determined by the hook (or assign a 50% of changing the patron to one listed below). Of course, if the PCs have an actual patron, then this step may not be necessary (but again, maybe someone else steps forward).

Number of Patrons
Roll Patron Notes
1 No Single Patron There maybe people wanting help but they can't fund the PCs, or perhaps there are a large number of poor seeking help and offer what they can.
2 1 Patron Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Patrons 2 different patrons are willing to help. They may be opposed or working together.
4 Fake Patron Patron could be working for the villain to set the PCs up.
Random Patrons
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Adventure Patrons table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
2 Roll on one of six Patrons tables (Ultimate Toolbox p312-3).
3 A random group from those that the PCs have Relationship Dice and a positive relationship with.
4 A single PC from a random PC's background.
5 An NPC or group that at least 1 PC has a relationship with (even if they did not know until now). Roll on PC Relationships table (The Lazy Dungeon Master p35).

On the Adventure

Help

Who or what aids the PCs? Often this is allies, but could be some other source. Also called a 'Donation'. The PCs might obviously have to do something to get this aid - these are all just potential helpers.

Number of Donations
Roll Donation Notes
1 None The PCs are on their own.
2 1 Donation Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Donations Roll from options on table below.
4 3 Donations Roll from options on table below.
Random Donations
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Adventure Allies table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
2 Roll on the Donations table (Dragon Magazine #274)
3 A villain has a major weakness. Roll on the Villain's Weakness table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 4) OR the Villain Weaknesses table (Ultimate Toolbox p323).
4 Roll on Heroic Allies table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p197)

Complications

Who or what hinders the PCs from achieving their objective? Sometimes called Obstacles.

Number of Complications
Roll Complication Notes
1 None The PCs get lucky. This should be rare.
2 1 Complication Roll from options on table below.
3 2 Complications Roll from options on table below.
4 3 Complications Roll from options on table below.
5 4 Complications Roll from options on table below.
6 1d6 Complications Roll from options on table below.
Random Complications
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Moral Quandaries table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
2 Roll on the Twists table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
3 Roll on the Side Quests table (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 3)
4 Roll on the Obstacles table (Dragon Magazine #274)
5 Roll on Twists & Turns table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p198 OR SW Soloman Kane p135)
6 Roll on Details (for Social Events) table (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p202)
7 Roll a Subplot from (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p203)
8 Roll on Plot Complications table (Ultimate toolbox p330)
9 Roll on Plot Twists table (Ultimate toolbox p331)
10 Roll on Surprise Endings table (Ultimate toolbox p331)
11 Roll on the Adventure Obstacle table (SW Sundered Skies p81)
12 For Employment type adventures. Roll on the Employment Obstacle table (SW Sundered Skies p83)
13 For Trade type adventures. Roll on the Trade Obstacle table (SW Sundered Skies p85)
14 For Crime type adventures. Roll on the Crime Obstacle table (SW Sundered Skies p87)
15 Go to TV Tropes and hit the Random Trope tab top left.

After the Adventure

Roll for a Reward or a Penalty and apply either based upon whether the adventurers succeed or fail. You could have an ending where both apply too (a partial success). Often the Penalty might seem obvious given the nature of the adventure, but if not roll on tables below.

The number of rewards should really be based upon how successful the party were, from very (3 reward rolls) to barely (1 reward roll). Typically only apply 1 Penalty, though you might also apply one with a partial success (as well as a reward) or maybe 2 for really bad failures.

Random Rewards
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Rewards table (Dragon Magazine #274)
2 Roll on Treasure Hoard table for any Challenge rating up to that of one of the main villains. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 7)
3 Roll on Treasure Hoard table appropriate to the Challenge rating of one of the main villains. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 7)
4 Roll on Treasure Hoard table at 1 Challenge rating higher than one of the main villains. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 7)
5 Roll on Treasure Hoard table at 2 Challenge ratings higher than one of the main villains. (5E Dungeon Master's Guide ch 7)
6 New ability, such as a boon or specialised training. Could roll a random feature from a 4E class too. (4E Dungeon Master's Guide 2 ch 5)
7 Treasure appropriate to the setting/location, such as: Booty from (SW Pirates of the Spanish Main p203) for a pirate adventure; Salvage from (SW Sundered Skies p88).
8 Personalised reward. (Ultimate Toolbox p313).
9 Unique reward. (Ultimate Toolbox p313).
10 An item from a random PC's 'Wishlist' - something we keep on all PC Pages for our games.

If not playing D&D, use random treasure tables for relevant system.

Random Penalties
Roll Notes & Source
1 Roll on the Penalties table (Dragon Magazine #274)

Where to Next?

NPCs

All NPCs listed above will need fleshing out. For most villains whose race has not been decided, 50% are humanoids, 50% are any other type of intelligent creature. For a creature go to a random monster book or roll on our Realms Creation Charts. For humanoid race again there are many charts on our Realms Creation Charts or simply roll from those available according to setting.

At this stage the Realms Creation documents are attached to the bottom of our System Neutral GM Tools Page, but keep an eye on right hand navigation bar - i am slowly adding them to the site.

Then fully flesh out important NPCs using our NPC Creation documents Attached to the bottom of our System Neutral GM Tools Page or some other source that allows you to detail NPCs… and there are many.

Locations

These will need to be created for original adventures. For home games, I would find such places already detailed in sourcebooks and adventures I own and adapt them if needed. Again - our Realms Creation Charts will allow you to work out all the details too.

Encounters

Depending upon how big the adventure is going to be, you would need to determine a number of adventures. Around 3-8 key encounters would be a good number to start with. Use the Set Encounter Charts to determine these.
Attached to the bottom of our System Neutral GM Tools Page

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