D&D General When Random Results create a great story...


He / Him
I love rolling for things when running a D&D game. Of course there are random tables for encounters, treasure, etc. But I really love to roll when I want fate to intervene in the story. I find that rolling randomly to decide an unknown plot point is exceptionally fun, and feels like I'm collaborating with chaos.

I remember in a d20 Conan game, the characters started in this big prison city called The Pit. They spent many sessions organizing a meeting between the different gang bosses, and became close allies with a gang called the Skulls, which was made up of youths wearing skull masks.

During the meeting, an assassin struck. Rather than choosing myself, I told the players I would roll randomly to see which gang boss was killed.

Of course, I rolled the leader of the Skulls! The players were devastated, but it was so much more emotionally effective than me just choosing behind the screen.

(Of course, later they took over the Skulls!)

An entire other campaign was designed through random choice. I had the characters choose homemade cards with locations, events, and complications (all represented by symbols), and those became the adventures. There were some very predictable results, and some very strange, interesting results. Which is great!

So how have random results impacted your stories in fun ways? Has a random encounter become a major plot line? Has a random treasure changed the course of your setting's history?

How have you used random rolls to create great stories?

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He / Him
A little more detail about how I set up the randomly-generated campaign...

I created three sets of cards: Star Cards, Sun Cards, and Moon Cards.

The Star Cards had 12 locations in the campaign setting, each represented by a symbol. Some symbols were obvious, like a smuggler's ship representing a big pirate port city, and some were more interpretive, like a buried tree representing the home village of an oppressed people.

The Sun Cards had 8 adventure goals:
1. A powerful magic weapon.
2. A potential ally.
3. A powerful enemy.
4. A magic ritual that could help the players.
5. A treasure hoard.
6. A source of valuable knowledge.
7. Someone secretly working with the enemy.
8. A powerful magic artifact.
(Many of these were inspired by the Tarokka cards of Curse of Strahd.)

Finally, the Moon Cards had 8 complications:
1. ...has been stolen.
2. ...is lost.
3. ...is allied with an enemy.
4. ...is broken.
5. ...is in danger of being broken.
6. ...is dangerous.
7. ...is doubled.
8. ...is cursed.

The characters would receive readings by choosing different cards (this was on Roll20, so I had graphics representing the cards). The results would then be given a prophesy-like interpretation. For example:

"Where black sails fill with the night's cold winds, you will find a weapon of great power, though it carries a terrible curse!"

The characters would travel to the pirate city, find rumors of a cursed treasure, and the adventure would unfold!

I would usually do two or three readings at a time so that I didn't have to prep too many adventures at once. It was a lot of fun, both for the players and for me as a DM!

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