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Fill In The Gap

Random Plot Encounter Table

by Matt Turnbull
Sep 05,2005

 

Random Plot Encounter Table

The plot in an RPG is often simply a MacGuffin, an entity solely designed to get the players from point A to point B, with the journey and the adventures along the way being the important part.

Many GMs don't have the inclination or the energy to come up with complicated or involved plots. They're too busy with the minor details, the dungeons and monsters to be faced along the way, the towns to be visited, the challenges to be overcome. Who has time to create something solely to help string all this together?

That's where the Random Plot Encounter Table comes in. If you've ever played a Fantasy-genre RPG, I'm willing to bet you're familiar with the concept of an Encounter Table. Basically put, it's a chart that you reference a roll to, which determines an outcome, event, or encounter. In some games, there are random tables for everything from town names to treasure piles. What follows is a handy and easy to reference chart, to be used in the creation of a random Fantasy-genre RPG plot.

The way this table works is almost like one of those word-replacement games I won't mention due to copyright infringement concerns. Let's just say it's like an angry person who opposes abbreviations of conservatives. You replace the variables (whose value is determined by rolling a D20 and referencing the appropriate random tables) in this phrase: We need to rescue the A from the B, because he/she is the only one who knows the location of the X of Y. We need to find it/them if we want to have a chance at stopping the Z from D!

See, easy! At the bottom are some sample plots created by this table. The charts are found below.

A:

  1. Princess
  2. Scholar
  3. King of Thieves
  4. Court Jester
  5. Librarian
  6. Pixie Queen
  7. Queen
  8. King
  9. Town Magistrate
  10. Daughter of the Great Wizard
  11. Insane Child
  12. Royal Historian
  13. Court Shaman
  14. Tribe's Chief
  15. Town's Cook
  16. Orphan
  17. Empress
  18. Seer
  19. Reformed Villain
  20. Village Idiot

B:

  1. Carnivorous Dinosaur
  2. Dragon
  3. Dracolich
  4. Undead Horde
  5. Lizard People
  6. Earth Elementals
  7. Orcs
  8. Bandit King
  9. Cannibals
  10. Mutated Forest
  11. Merfolk
  12. Evil Wizard
  13. Demon Lord
  14. Neighboring Kingdom's Prison
  15. Dark Amulet's Power
  16. Himself/Herself/Themselves!
  17. mind-control spell
  18. Cave-Dwellers
  19. Dark Council
  20. Gallows

X:

  1. Gem
  2. Sword
  3. Dirk
  4. Amulet
  5. Spell
  6. Scroll
  7. Tablet
  8. Statuette
  9. Eye
  10. Heart
  11. Bow
  12. Arrows
  13. Writ
  14. Word
  15. Winged Boots
  16. Jewel
  17. Potion
  18. Council
  19. Sand
  20. Helm

Y:

  1. Darkness
  2. Light
  3. Death
  4. Power
  5. Prophecy
  6. Omens
  7. Awakening
  8. Hawk Sight
  9. Beauty
  10. Obedience
  11. Antiquity
  12. Divinity
  13. The Holy
  14. Righteous Indignation
  15. Flight
  16. The Sun
  17. The Moons
  18. The Heavens
  19. Fortune
  20. Yore

Z:

  1. Elder God
  2. Forces of Evil
  3. Ones who watch from the edge of the world
  4. Beings of Pure Chaos
  5. Mage Lord
  6. Lich's King
  7. Beings of the Outer Worlds
  8. Neighboring Kingdom's Leader
  9. Childlike Queen of the Undead
  10. Roll on Table B again, re-roll if a location is rolled.
  11. Horseman of The End Times
  12. Wrath of the Divine
  13. Kings of the Night
  14. Roll on Table A again, re-roll if the same result as was rolled orignally for A is rolled.
  15. Sun-Dwellers
  16. Creatures that crawled out of the meteor
  17. Underworlds's Guardian
  18. Last of its kind
  19. Oldest of the Elementals
  20. Inventor, driven insane by his own genius

D:

  1. Poisoning the Water Supply
  2. Destroying the last hope for peace
  3. Devouring the world
  4. Plunging the world into perpetual night
  5. Opening a terrible portal
  6. Summoning his/her/their true leader to our world
  7. Leading all of the children into the ocean
  8. Eradicating life as we know it
  9. Turning everyone into stone
  10. Causing the greatest unnatural disaster ever seen in this kingdom
  11. Creating a rift in space and time that could prove to be the end of all that is known
  12. Spawning his/her/their twisted progeny
  13. Being used as the vessel(s) that bring the ultimate evil to this world
  14. Killing the world-famous diplomat who is our last chance at peace
  15. Unleashing a plague that could kill millions
  16. Toppling the kingdom's government
  17. Causing a famine the kind of which has never been felt by these people
  18. From capturing the (roll on A again, re-roll if the same result as was rolled orignally or subsequently for A is rolled.) and forcing him/her to help him/her/them
  19. Bringing about his/her/their treacherous rule
  20. Reaching the fruition of his/her/their terrible scheme

So, that's it. Not too hard, and the results can be very useful indeed. Here's some examples as rolled from above:

We need to rescue the King from the Merfolk, because he is the only one who knows the location of the Tablet of Prophecy. We need to find it if we want to have a chance at stopping the Beings of the Outer World from Turning everyone into stone!

We need to rescue the Pixie Queen from the Dark Amulet's Power, because she is the only one who knows the location of Powder of Light. We need to find it if we want to have a chance at stopping the Inventor, driven insane by his own genius from Poisoning the Water Supply!

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