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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Setting Generator

A game's setting is the keystone of any campaign.

We've got to speak to the king as quickly as possible, you say? Does this setting have communication magic? Flying mounts? Wait, does it have smart phones? Without setting knowledge, players will be at a loss, unable to see into the game any further than the ends of their characters' fingertips.

For a lot of GMs, designing a setting can be fun, even a chance to stretch those creative muscles. For others, it's just a box that has to be checked off before play begins. A setting generator, then, can be a boon for any GM. For those who love designing settings, it can provide inspiration; for those who just want somewhere to stage their game, a generator allows them to jump straight into the game.

This particular setting generator is fairly straightforward, providing: a primary government, the level of technology, the environment, the general tone of the action, and a place to begin. Obviously, this leaves much unsaid, but those details can be filled in manually by the GM or naturally by the group as the game unfolds.

Who governs the setting? (d4)

1. A benevolent emperor, blind to the corruption in his government
2. Ruthless princes and princesses vying for power using every method at their disposal
3. An immortal queen whose subjects are beneath her concern
4. A strict chancellor chosen by the people to guide them through political strife

What is the technology level of the setting? (d6)

Age: community type; weapons and tools available; centers of trade
1. Stone age: families and clans; basic hand tools; individual bartering around the fire
2. Bronze age: city-states; metal weapons and tools; markets with local products
3. Powder age: colonies; firearms and refined tools; markets with global products
4. Industrial age: nation-states; complex weapons, tools, and vehicles; markets with mass-produced products
5. Information age: global; automated weapons, tools, and vehicles; global market chains with mass-produced products
6. Space age: interstellar; energy weapons, tools, and vehicles; individual machines that produce custom products

What kind of environment dominates the setting? (d8)

1. A wasteland of burning sandstorms by day and arctic frost by night
2. An endless expanse of water dotted with artificial islands made of unknown material
3. The merciless void of space between the ramshackle starports and outside the thin walls of ancient starships
4. A towering forest of enormous trees (hundreds of feet in diameter) that bathe the ground in eternal darkness
5. A labyrinthian city of fallen towers and shattered streets filled with the detritus of the distant past
6. Craggy, storm-plagued mountains whose valleys and passes are guarded by battle-scarred redoubts
7. The filthy underworld of a crime-ridden metropolis devoid of morality
8. An ocean in the west, mountains in the east, deserts in the south, tundra in the north, and a mix of plains, hills, and forests in the middle

What are the players' characters going to be doing? (d10)

1. Exploring ancient ruins and fighting monsters
2. Bringing "civilization" to strange, faraway places
3. Righting wrongs and protecting the innocent
4. Skulking in the shadows and committing crimes
5. Dealing with truths that "man was not meant to know"
6. Investigating mysteries and dispensing justice
7. Exposing corruption and greed
8. Surviving the harsh and unforgiving world
9. Performing odd jobs of dubious morality
10. Roll twice more and combine

Where does the game begin? (d12)

1. In transit as the transportation begins to crash/die/fail
2. In a meeting place filled with dangerous and desperate individuals
3. In the darkness, the captured prey of a dangerous predator
4. In the presence of the setting's ruler, being granted an official pardon
5. At a council of war with danger fast approaching
6. Arriving home minutes ahead of an impending catastrophe
7. Gathered around with others, drinking and recounting local legends
8. In a high-stakes game of chance against an influential opponent
9. In the midst of a celebration about to be cut short by a shocking revelation
10. At the grave of a friend, looking for answers
11. Moments before the discovery of a powerful new weapon
12. Stepping into an abandoned home that is haunted by its past

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