It seems to be a thing this winter that random rpg tools are becoming really popular. JDale has his brilliant RMU NPC Generator, I cannot link to the thread directly as you need to be signed in as a play tester but I am pretty sure if you are into RMU then you know about this already.
On MeWe there is an entire group dedicated to random tools. I have used random maps and random dungeons in the past. I personally highly rate Grozzys not just for random dungeons, but also terrain and cave systems. I am no artist so getting great looking maps is a real boon. The other standout feature at Grozzys is the gallery of precreated maps. People have uploaded images you can download and print off if they hit the mark for you.
I like random name generators and if I am running an adventure in an elven culture I tend to keep a sheet of random elven names, printed off double line spaced so I an spirit up an NPC on the fly and add a few notes to them as I go.
I was thinking last night that the mother of all randomisers in RPGs had to be the wandering monster table. What brought this on was that I am laying out a settlement of sorts, half way between a village and a fort. When the characters go there it ‘should’ be all peaceful, sweetness and light. When they leave chances are that there will be black smoke rolling from windows and widows wailing over their fallen men folk, but that is just my PCs for you.
What I wanted was essentially a wandering monster table but of normal things, normal people doing normal jobs. The point being that as the characters will almost certainly want to get in and out of areas without being seen. A maid cleaning a room is as big a problem as a patrolling guard.
So I wanted a wandering monster table for in the common areas, one for the more secure areas and one for the more affluent areas. The point of the random nature of this is that when the characters pass through an area once there could be someone going one way carrying laundry, the next time there could be a guard trying to sweet talk a lady in waiting, the next time a child playing a cup and ball game and so on. A charming PC may try to bluff the maid with the laundry. The child could be bribed with sweet money but the guard and his beau are a harder challenge. He has responsibilities and a resentment of being disturbed in the first place.
You could say that I could create all this on the fly as I go but what if I am having an off day? Or I get tired?
You also need a surprising number of random events before they start to repeat.
So I started thinking about just kitchen staff random events, just guard random events, just ‘upstairs’ (footmen, ladies in waiting, butlers and such) staff. Then guard movements, hunters, groundsmen, gardeners. Then the trades.
You may think that this is a lot of hard work but my adventure map has something like 60 locations and a simple 1d6 possibles would 360 random events. 1d6 is probably the minimum. A 1d10 becomes 600 possibles entries.
Most of these will be throw away descriptions, the characters look around a corner and there is a girl playing with a length of ribbon so they go a different way.
So how to approach the random events?
I am now going to spend ay free time this weekend trying to build these urban random encounter generators. I will let you know next week how I get on.