Life During a Wartime Random Table Redux

Every great man built himself a castle and held it against the king; and they filled the whole land with these castles. They sorely burdened the unhappy people of the country with forced labour on the castles; and when the castles were built, they filled them with devils and wicked men. [1]

By Henry of Huntingdon (Historia Anglorum) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By Henry of Huntingdon (Historia Anglorum) [Public domain or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

I’m preparing for an upcoming Burning Wheel campaign. I am using the Anarchy of England as the backdrop.

If the characters crawl the English countryside, I want some more random generators. Five years ago, I was gearing up to run a campaign set during a war. I wrote up a random wartime village generator; I may reuse some of that.


In response to a weak crown, the barons are consolidating their personal power.

What is the State of the Fortifications?

2d6 Roll
2 Wooden palisade
3-5 Major enhancements beginning
6-8 Major enhancements wrapping up
9-11 Earthen motte and bailey
12 Stone castle

Were these Fortifications Sanctioned by the King?

An unsanctioned castle may draw the ire of the king; Though he has numerous irons in the fire.

1d6 Roll
1-5 Unsanctioned
6 Sanctioned


Taking a page from Zzarchov Kowolski‘s Scenic Dunnsmouth (review), I’m establishing a campaign attribute “King’s Popularity”.

When a person’s loyalty to the king is unknown, the GM rolls 2d6 to get their “Loyal to the King” score. Then compare that score to the current “King’s Popularity”:

Loyal to the King is… Resulting Allegiance
Less than King’s Popularity Loyal to the King Stephen
Equal to King’s Popularity Hedging bets
Greater than King’s Popularity Loyal to Empress Matilda

Throughout the course of play as the “King’s Popularity” rises and falls, this will adjust a person’s allegiance.

Example: The current “King’s Popularity” score is 7. The players encounter Herald FitzJohn, an unknown. The GM secretly rolls 2d6 and gets a 6. Herald FitzJohn’s allegiance is to King Stephen. If the “King’s Popularity” drops to 5, the Herald FitzJohn’s allegiance will shift to Empress Matilda.

More Randomizations

  • Village/city events – lift from Torchbearer
  • Countryside events – drawing a blank right now


1: The Angle-Saxon Chronicle, placed as the entry for the year 1137, but written in the 1150s. This section comes from The Peterborough Chronicle 1070-1154, ed. C Clark, 2nd edn. (Oxford, 1970); translations include The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, ed. D. Whitelock et al. (London, 1962)

Campaign Random Encounter: Library of Ancients and Surrounding Village

After wrapping up the 5E 0th level character funnel adventure, I did a bit of preparation. The characters were going to travel to the Library of Ancients to research about the Shadow Wars, the shadow creature, and the failing wards that kept it bound.

I didn’t write up much about the Library of Ancients, and its adjoining village Codex, except for the following random table. In making the table, I became aware of what could be in motion at Library of Ancients and Codex.

In these 12 rumors and events, I found far more than enough to run a satisfying delve in the Library of Ancients. I now forget how I resolved the research aspect of the Library, but I was generous in the information I gave.

Rumors and Events

1d12 Event or Happenstance
1 A contingent of viziers arrived 1d4 days ago. They will soon broker a treaty (1 – 3) or launch a treasonous initiative (4-6).
2 Yesterday, one of the towers collapsed killing Tanja, a visiting researcher, and Raiko, a librarian. Workers are clearing the rubble and assessing the damage. Soon the library and Codex will know that the Raiko stabbed and killed Tanja.
3 Dalia, a visiting scholar, is waiting at the entrance to the library. She has found what could be a capstone to her life’s work. She’s looking to hire some muscle to go get it. Soon her insanity will be revealed as she drives ever onward towards her goal.
4 The Library and Codex, the neighboring village, fended off an attack 1d6 days ago. Hanging from the fortified walls are the tarred corpses of 1d10 assailants. From the mouth of one of the corpses an orchid will grow.
5 The staff and faculty are excited about the recent acquisition of the collection of Lapernum, a planar scholar. One will soon bear witness to an apocalyptic vision.
6 Codex elected Orithia a new mayor 2d6 days ago. She replaces the previous mayor, Bale; He went insane. She will soon face a challenge to her authority.
7 Grigor a wealthy merchant left not more than a few hours ago; He hired several guards for what is normally a safe trip. He will be betrayed soon.
8 Jelenneth, a young woman from Codex, has been missing since a raid on the library. Her parents are distraught and seek help. She will soon enter the realm of fairy to be with her lover.
9 Reeve Vander has just found that the winter stores of Codex spoiled over the last three days. A diabolist will soon reveal a nefarious scheme.
10 In the next month the Duchess of Ariana will be visiting. The librarians are busy preparing for a visit. Head librarian Gidian is seeking a ducal endowment.
11 Salindra and her acting troupe (6 others) arrived yesterday; They are here to perform a play and write and research their next play. The play will be outlawed in the months to come as it foments open.
12 Filip has been dragged back in chains; He has stolen from the library. He will be abused a lose a hand at the end of the week.

An Incomplete Catalog of Random Tables for Future Reference

Rummaging through my RPG collection looking for random tables to make sure I’ve bookmarked for later reproduction (and adding to my GM binder). I have mine already marked.

Kevin Crawford packs his RPG supplements with numerous random tables. Some are in the moment tables and others are very much “I need a 5 minute break to whip something up.”

What I have marked for copy/printing:

And sitting beside the binder will be:

  • Jason Sholtis‘s Dungeon Dozen – a book of off the wall, outrageous ideas and crazy situations.
  • Zak S‘s Vornheim – a book with several useful tables for urban encounters and random relationship graphs
  • Wizard of the Coast’s Dungeon Master Guide (for 5E) – lots of tables, but no index of what all of those tables are.

Others that are on the short list to review are:

A Random Book Name Generator

I wrapped up my organization task. In doing so I figured I’d post a random book title generator based on some of the books in my personal library; pluralize the nouns as necessary. And as with so many random tables, when you roll a result, cross it off and add a new one.

Roll d20 d20
1 Fables and Reflections
2 The God Delusion
3 Fellowship of the Ring
4 Demonhaunted World
5 Heretics of Dune
6 Snow Crash
7 The Complete Strategyst
8 A Mighty Fortress
9 Age of Bronze
10 Lamentations of the Flame Princess
11 Master of Shadows
12 A Storm of Swords
13 The Blossoms are Falling
14 Serpent’s Tooth
15 Spears of the Dawn
16 The Elegant Universe
17 Chronicles of the Black Company
18 Fragile Things
19 A Red and Pleasant Land
20 The Fires of Heaven
A wall of books

The books are organized again.

Random Relationship Graph Builder

As I said earlier in my Random Clergy Generator post, I’ve been kicking around a campaign that involves a monastery (or perhaps more appropriately church). Around this time I read an old blog post at Deeper in the Game regarding 3 tiered Conflict Webs.

This go me thinking that I wanted to have the monastery filled with internal conflict at both a petty level as well as the leadership level. I also wanted the monastery to be in the maelstrom of the external world.

This may also be just in time for the rerelease of the Birthright Campaign Setting PDF.

Graph relationship of major players in the kingdom

A Proposed Kingdom Relationship

Relationships Defined

Within a living and breathing campaign world, consider three categories of relationships:

  1. External leadership
  2. Internal leadership
  3. Petty affairs

External Leadership

The inter-relationship between organizations and/or figures of authority that are in regular contact.

Thieves Guild, Bishop, Vizier, King, Earl, Duke

Internal Leadership

The characters of an organizational structure that are part of the leadership.
What are their motivations and relationship with other internal leaders.

Abbot, Prior, Subprior, Cellarer, and Sacrist

Petty Affairs

The characters of an organization that are part of the day to day function.

Butler, Footman, Scullery Maid, Driver, Stableman


Establish the Entity’s Attributes

Each entity has three attributes:

  • Influence – how the entity is perceived/interacts beyond their domain.
  • Sovereignty – the entity’s control over their subjects and domain.
  • Means – resources that can be leveraged to action; wealth, military might, spy network, etc.
Rank Influence Sovereignty Means
-4 Pariah, Outcast Fall is eminent Impoverished, insolvent, mutinous
-3 Shunned Leads in name only Deeply indebted, demoralized
-2 Ridiculed Strongly opposed Shaken, heavily taxed, indebted
-1 Distrustedm Disrespected Meager, Over committed
0 Heard Obeyed Bases are covered but nothing more
1 Trusted Respected Some excess capacity
2 Persuasive Revered Excess capacity and capabilities for securing more
3 Finger in every pot Infallible Owed numerous favors, abundant capabilities
4 “Puppetmaster” “God” Incomprehensible

Establish the Entity’s Relations

For any of the above organizational relationship categories, write each of the named entities in a line. It is the author’s recommendation that you put “obviously related” entities immediately adjacent (i.e. King and Royal Vizier).

For each named entity, roll 4dF and lookup the result:

  • Negative – connect the entity to the next entity in the line
  • Zero – connect the entity to the next entity in the line (as above) but also if an entity further down the list has no connections, connect to that entity.
  • Positive – do all that you would for a zero result and if another entity further down the list has no connections, also connect to that entity.

Each connection represents an established relationship between the two entities.

Optional Relationship: Draw a connection from the last entity on the list and the first entity.

Define the Relationship (Optional)

d8 Vice Virtue
1 Lust Chastity
2 Gluttony Temperance
3 Greed Charity
4 Sloth Diligence
5 Wrath Patience
6 Envy Kindness
7 Pride Humility
8 Roll 2 times Roll 2 times

Each established relationship between a character/organization is defined by one or more vices or virtues. Roll 1d8 and lookup the corresponding Vice/Virtue.
For each line roll 4dF and lookup the result:

  • Negative – the relationship is based on the indicated vice.
  • Zero – the relationship is defined by both the vice and virtue.
  • Positive – the relationship is based on the virtue.

It is up to the Gamemaster to interpret the resulting relationship.


Random Clergy Generator

I’ve been kicking around an idea for a campaign that involves a monastery. As I’ve explored the campaign, I figured that I might as well create some potentially useful generators.

This is heavily influenced by Roman Catholic tenets and organizational structures . Much has been drawn from and Wikipedia.


What is responsibility of the clergy member?

d20 Duty Description
1 Bishop Spiritual and political head of multiple parishes (e.g. a diocese)
2 Archdeacon A cleric having a defined administrative authority delegated to him by the bishop in the whole or part of the diocese.
3 Deacon Minister to the physical needs of the congregation.
4 Abbot/Abbess Head of the abbey
5 Prior Oversees the internal life of the monastery, responsible for the monastery when the abbot is gone
6 Subprior When the prior and abbot are away, the subprior is responsible
7 Almoner Responsible for distributing alms to the poor
8 Barber Surgeon Responsible for shaving faces, tonsures, and performing light surgery
9 Cellarer Responsible for provisioning the monastery
10 Infirmarian Oversees the infirmary
11 Novice Master Oversees the postulants and novices
12 Lector Entrusted with reading the lessons in church
13 Guest Master Responsible for overseeing any guests
14 Refectorian Responsible for refectory where meals are served
15 Sacrist Responsible for the safe keeping of books, vestiments, vessels, and maintenance of buildings
16 Cantor Leads the church choir
17 Postulant a person that has come to the monastery to take the vows; watched by the Novice Master
18 Novice a person who has completed their postulancy and within the year will take their vows
19 Brother a monk that has taken the vows
20 Father an ordained priest


When did they join the clergy?

d8 Age Joining this chapter Background before joining
1 10+d8 Yesterday A foreigner banished from their land
2 10+d10 Last month An orphan taken in at age 1d6-1
3 10+d12 Last year A noble born with a gift of land
4 20+d8 1d6 years ago A free person with an aptitude
5 20+d10 2d6 years ago A serf that fled his liege
6 20+d12 3d6 years ago A soldier forsaking the way of war
7 30+d20 1d4 decades ago An outlaw posing as a free person
8 30+2d20 At age 11 A slave that escaped his master

– If you roll the maximum value, roll the die again and add the new result to the previous result; Repeat if you again roll the maxium value.


A monk’s daily routine includes numerous religious services.

d8 Mass Description
1 Matins at midnight
2 Lauds at dawn (approximately 3am)
3 Prime approximately 6am
4 Terce approximately 9am
5 Sext approximately noon
6 Nones approximately 3pm
7 Vespers before dark (approximately 6pm)
8 Compline before retiring (approximately 9pm)

Virtue and Vice

Answer the following questions related to the clergy member’s perception of vice and virtue.

  • They lack this virtue?
  • They exemplify this virtue?
  • They loath this vice? They personally hold it as the worst of all vices.
  • They conceal, yet are consumed by, this vice?
d8 Vice Virtue
1 Lust Chastity
2 Gluttony Temperance
3 Greed Charity
4 Sloth Diligence
5 Wrath Patience
6 Envy Kindness
7 Pride Humility
8 Roll 2 times Roll 2 times

Methods and Means

Determine a clergy member’s method and concern.

d6 Method Concern
1 Repenting for the congregation
2 Toiling over the sacred relics
3 Shepherding the sacred text
4 Glorifying the lands
5 Expanding the buildings
6 Depleting the brothers/sisters
7 Protecting the guests
8 Purging the offerings

Remember the Reaction Roll

Having hastily perused Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Rulebook, I remember the Reaction roll, something that I’ve so quickly forgotten from my 3E and 4E days.

The reaction roll is for monsters that aren’t predisposed to attacking the player characters. And with a random component to how each encounter begins then most play-throughs of an adventure will be significantly different. Interesting.

This is very analogous to random encounter tables, but instead of provides a mechanism for the GM to defer a decision regarding monster reactions.


Remember Vincent’s Admonition? (TL;DR – “Roll Dice or Say Yes.”) The admonition is for a GM responding to a player. But sometimes, a GM, without input from players, may not know what to do next. Enter the random encounter, reaction roll, etc.

So I am realizing there is a corollary for this admonition for the GM – “Don’t know what to say or do next? Roll the dice.” I suppose that is what is behind the Mythic Game Master Emulator (a fantastic product in its own right).

Reaction Roll Table

Now back to the Reaction Roll Table from Basic Fantasy Role-Playing Game Rulebook.

Reaction Roll Table (2d6+Charisma modifier)
Roll Result Explanation
2 or less Immediate Attack The monsters are so offended that they attack immediately.
3-7 Unfavorable The monsters do not like the player characters, and will attack if they may reasonably do so.
8-11 Favorable The monsters will consider letting the player characters live if they choose to parley; it does not necessarily mean that the monsters like the player characters.
12 or more Very favorable The monsters (or perhaps only the monster leader) do, in fact, like the player characters; this does not mean that the monsters will just hand over their treasure, but it does indicate that they may choose to cooperate with the player characters in mutually beneficial ways.

These days, when I see 2d6+n I think And when I see 2d6+X, I think its time for a move in Dungeon World. Given that the Charisma modifiers in Basic Fantasy RPG range from -3 to +3, this table could map directly, but would break with the concentric game design.

Dungeon World Move

When you attempt to placate one or more monsters that are waiting for you to make the first move, roll+CHA. On a 10+ they will cooperate with you so long as its mutually beneficial. On a 7-9 they are willing to listen.