Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Item Generator

Here is my take on a tool to help DMs come up with items.  I'm assuming that qualities of the items would be handled by a separate chart.  And if the items are magical that would be a separate chart as well.  This is just meant to help you come up with a random thing.
Drop two different colored d4 on it.  Choose one color to correspond to the figures and one to the triangle shaped categories.  Where the figure die lands on the silhouette indicates what it is related to.  So, a die on the hand has something to do with hands or fingers.  The other die will tell you what type of item it is.  If it is aesthetic, the item might be a ring.  If it is warfare, it might be a gauntlet.

A die that doesn't land on either figure can be read as items that aren't directly related to the bodies: furnishings, wall-coverings, urns, coffers, statues, etc.  A category die that falls off the page will still be in one of the category triangles, which stretch to the horizon.

Most of the categories are pretty self-explanatory.  I see "Learning" as information storage and retrieval: calendars, zodiac charts, royal successions that are incorporated into an item (like this), or scientific tools-- astrolabes, magnifying glasses.  It could also be a book about what the other die is pointing to.  "Daily Life" is meant to be tools, toys, musical instruments, etc.

You can read the number on the figure d4 if you want to.  So, a Daily Life item for a child on the hand might be a top, or a small spoon, or doll, for example.  An aesthetic result on the horse head could be a fancy falcon hood, a dog collar, a wreath for sacrificial oxen, or a bridle of some sort.

You don't have to use d4.  They are pointy and flat, though, which makes for a good choice here.  And the small number of results should be memorizable with use.  But you could potentially drop d10s or d12s or something and have whole subcharts of specifiers.

I playtested this a bit with my buddy and using it in conjunction with the object qualities chart really helped.  Mostly knowing what it was made of helped you figure out what kind of thing it might be too.  (I plan to revise the object quality chart soon).


  1. I wonder if this actually speeds things up or just goes:
    Instead of talking a minute and thinking up something from scratch, take a minute and think of something from scratch within these parameters.

    Of course if saving time is a nonissue it doesn't matter

  2. Thanks for the comment. Yeah, this one is more about variety than speed. When I think up things without some kind of constraint I tend to get in ruts or crowns and necklaces and such. But, as an example, my buddy and I got a result of Learning/horse neck/ made of lead using this and the qualities chart. We decided there were these map horses that can never raise their heads and it got us thinking lots of weirdness to try and explain them.

    I'm going to try and make a in-game fast item chart too, the kind you can read across or mix-n-match columns but I haven't got it done yet.

  3. If you simply add a smaller square centered on the middle intersection, it could serve to determine if the item is magical or not. If a die is within that square, the created item is magical. saves having to roll on another chart.

  4. Thanks. Yep, that would work. Essentially, each additional die you throw can be treated as a unique dice drop chart. The limit is just how much you can pack on to the sheet and still read it. Though with a binary of magic/not it might be simpler to just throw a separate die and say yes/no according to even/odd.

  5. That's really cool, actually. Something I've often noticed is that asking somebody to think something up from scratch within fairly narrow boundaries results in much more creative thinking than asking them to think something up from scratch without any limits. With the latter people tend to get constrained or intimidated by all their freedom and just go "Er, er...", whereas with the former they come up with idea very quickly.