Sunday, November 27, 2011

Things in the Inn: Fun With Random Tables

When you talk about random tables with gamers you get a wide variety of opinions on the matter. Personally I love them, simply for the randomness they can provide and sheer terror that they can invoke in your players. Even if you don't use them in your own games I think it's a good idea to create them on a regular basis. Random tables force you to think about a particular topic and come up with a bunch of different options. For example if you were creating a "Random city encounters" table and came up with a dozen different items that's great for you as the GM. You may never use the table, but now you have a dozen different encounters bouncing around in your head that you can whip out when you need them. I also think that thinking about a subject like that also exercises your mind so that you'll be able to come up with things on the fly if your players go off the rails.

As such I present random tables related to Inns. Roll a d10

1.) The Flying Pony
2.) Easing the Badger
3.) Iron Horseman
4.) The Fat Lady
5.) The Rushing Boar
6.) Nine Warrior Lodge
7.) The Sword & Lance
8.) The Cheerful Rat
9.) The Waystone Inn
10.) The Lame Dancer

People in the Hall
1.) Group of travelling merchants
2.) Grizzled veteran
3.) Town drunk
4.) Town blacksmith
5.) Innkeeper
6.) Old woman in the corner
7.) Barmaid
8.) Captain of the Guard
9.) Family moving to a new town
10.) Bard/Entertainer of some sort

Specials of the Day
1.) Roast beef
2.) Mutton sandwich with lettuce and tomatoes and crispy bacon
3.) Potato soup
4.) Fresh venison
5.) Porridge
6.) "There ain't no special. What kind of establishment do you think this is?"
7.) Stale bread and last night's left over beef stew
8.) Freshly fried trout
9.) Meat pie
10.) No special on the meal but we'll sell you an apple pie at half price.

Innkeeper Descriptions
1.) Fat and jolly
2.) Skinny with a long scar down the side of his face
3.) Fat and surly
4.) Short halfing/midget. Don't comment on his height or he'll have the bouncer throw you out.
5.) Statuesque woman with a broken nose.
6.) Fat woman with a tiny dog in her arms
7.) Skinny as a rail, with a parrot perched on one shoulder
8.) Missing an eye.
9.) Missing three fingers on his right hand
10.) The left hand won't close. Looks like the tendons may have been cut at some point.

Notable Items in the Inn
1.) Swivel gun on the bar. It may or may not work.
2.) Crossed bastard swords behind the bar
3.) A mirror
4.) Tables are bolted to the floor and are giant slabs of wood
5.) The common room is surrounded by a balcony. The doors of the rooms open to the balcony
6.) Somewhere there is a trap door leading to river/ocean.
7.) Giant statue/figurine/totem
8.) Arena for boxing/wrestling/death matches
9.) Large bookcase full of books.
10.) Large bear's head on the mantle. The innkeeper will regale you with stories about his dangerous hunt if you let him.

Secret Occupations of the Innkeeper
1.) Smuggler
2.) Fence
3.) Part of the rebellion
4.) Kidnapper/ransomer
5.) Informant for the Guard
6.) Cultist
7.) Librarian/Teacher
8.) Former war hero trying to keep his past hidden
9.) Member of the royal family in hiding
10.) Captains of all sorts of vessels pay him to Shanghai patrons for their crews


  1. I really miss the "White Hart" and the "King's Head", which are probably the most common possible names in England.

  2. Good point Moonson. Maybe there should be one list with the common names and one list with unusual names.

  3. I was always a fan of random tables. As a young GM (we're talking about 14) I used to use them a bit, because I didn't know any better, but as I matured in that role (about 16 ;) ) I realized that they were really a tool, or a guide, and, to paraphrase Einstein, the generation of random table results is far too important to be left to chance. Hell, Gary Gygax even spelled it out in the AD&D DMG when he gave an example of the treasure that a pair of Ogres might have - the treasure table indicates a sum of gold, but rather than give the characters the gold, have it in the form of rations and armor and other (bulky) useful items, and piles of copper pieces - worth the same, but much, much more difficult to move.

    So, that's how I used the random tables - I look them over, got a gist of what it was they were trying to do, and used that information.

    Like you suggested, I also created my own random tables for a while, and they were really to see if I had the hang of things - like giving myself a pop quiz on what I was doing.

    Tables, yes; random - not so much ;)