Sunday, August 8, 2010

“This is where Forrestal cashed in.”

It has been mentioned previously that I consider the Moldvay Method of Dungeon Stocking to be the epitome of arbitrary dungeon contents generation. I’ve used it for so long that I no longer need to consult the actual chart in order to utilize that method. Recently, however, I rediscovered a table that gives Moldvay a run for its money. It doesn’t surpass Moldvay, but it is interesting in its own right.

The method is found in the booklet that accompanied the Adventures of Indiana Jones: Judge’s Survival Pack of all things. This supplement, published for use with TSR’s The Adventures of Indiana Jones role-playing game, was released in 1985 and the booklet has been the “Flying Dutchman” of my role-playing game collection: always turning up when least expected and disappearing just as quickly.

The booklet itself is a buffet of ideas, some useful, some not, but nestled amongst the various chapters is a section on random ruin generation for use in a game of Indiana Jones. Not surprisingly, there’s much in that section that can be lifted for use in a D&D campaign, including ruin geomorphs and inspirational charts to help determine the ruin’s history. The most useful of all is the “Noteworthy Room Table.” This d% chart gives you an entire array of possible room contents that is further broken down into sub-tables for each result.

I’ve only reproduced the main table below, but just looking it over will demonstrate why I consider it another great candidate for random dungeon stocking: it simply has everything you could ever wish for in a dungeon all on one table. The entries for the sub-tables are given below the chart and a resourceful referee could easily construct his or her own version of these charts. The one major difference is you’re going to be less likely to encounter monstrous creatures to fight, but some rearranging of the probabilities could easily get around that. Or you could simply use the table as is to create a “less fighting, more thinking” dungeon location. I'd simply roll a d6 and on any result of 3-6, I'd consider the room noteworthy to go along with Moldvay's 4 in 6 chance of any given room having something of interest in it. Treasure, traps, and monsters would be resolved by the usual tables; everything else would be determined from the examples given below or similar possibilities.

Noteworthy Room Table

01-10: Treasure
11-16: Find
17-31: Trap
32-36: Secret Way
37-43: Creature
44-53: Obstacle
54-59: Predecessor
60-63: Spectacle
64-66: Incredible
67-72: Dilemma
73: Treasure & Trap
74: Treasure & Secret Way
75: Treasure & Obstacle
76: Treasure & Predecessor
77: Treasure & Dilemma
78: Find & Trap
79: Find & Creature
80: Find & Incredible
81: Trap & Secret Way
82: Trap & Creature
83: Trap & Obstacle
84: Trap & Predecessor
85: Trap & Spectacle
86: Trap & Dilemma
87: Secret Way & Dilemma
88: Creature & Obstacle
89: Obstacle & Predecessor
90: Obstacle & Spectacle
91: Treasure-Trap-Secret Way
92: Treasure-Trap-Obstacle
93: Treasure-Creature-Predecessor
94: Treasure-Obstacle-Dilemma
95: Find-Trap-Spectacle
96: Find-Creature-Incredible
97: Trap-Obstacle-Predecessor
98: Secret Way-Predecessor-Dilemma
99: Treasure-Trap-Predecessor-Incredible
100: Find-Trap-Creature-Dilemma

Examples of Finds: Calendar Stone, Stone Tablet, Scroll, Codex, Monument, Plaque, Map, Clay Tablet, Tapestry, Figurine, Grave, Skeleton, Skull, Burial Cloth, Ashes, Mummy, Hand, Raiment, Bust, Death Mask, Idol, Signet Ring, Seal, Scepter, Crown, Helm, Robe, Medallion, Horn, Banner/Flag, Gem, Platter, Necklace, Bracelet/Bracer, Ring, Coins, Goblet, Sculpture, Belt/Girdle, Masks, Throne, Chariot, Ark/Shrine, Boat, Wheel, Vase, Totem, Pottery, Chest, Table, Spear, Sword, Axe, Breastplate, Shield, Staff, Flail, Throwing Stick, Net, War Club, Rare Plant, Rare Animal, Dinosaur, Giant, Sea Serpent, Fabled Creature, Vanished Race, Evolved Race, Intelligent Animal, Prehistoric Man, or Secret of (Mysterious Ruins, Lost Civilization, Fabled Lands, Relic, Catastrophe Site, Wheel of Time, Fountain of Youth, Philosopher’s Stone, Unicorn Horn, or Shape shifters).

Examples of Obstacles: Lava, Stairs, Ramp, Slide, Shifting Ground, Brambles/Thorns, Balcony, Rushing River, Geyser, Narrow Space, Chocking Vapors, Cliff Face, Windy Ledge, Stinging/Clinging vines, Chasm/Broken Bridge, Hot Springs/Lime Terraces, Blockade/Dead End, or Marsh

Examples of Predecessors: Opened Doors/Chests, Bloodstains/Campfires, Footprints, Scratched/Scrawled Messages on Walls, Dropped Gear/Map, Broken Down Wall/Door, Dead Creature, Defaced Furnishings/Stolen Treasure, Triggered Trap (with or without corpses), or Corpse Shot/Stabbed in Back.

Examples of Spectacles: Balancing Rock, Moaning/Howling Wind, Area Glows With Eerie Light, Eerie Feeling/Dread, Lifelike Sculpture/Painting, Clinking and Chiming, Feeling of Peace, Network of Lightbeams, Mirage/Reflection, Swirling Lave, Beating/Pulsing Sound, Statically Charged Air, Clanking Sound, Feeling of Nausea/Dizziness, Bottomless Pit/Darkness, Gonging, Gilded Walls/Dancing Light, Panoramic View, Looming Monument/Idol/Tower, or High Vaulted Ceiling (60’).

Examples of Incredible: Mammoth Solar Calendar, Huge Natural Magnet, Natural Laser, Wind Tunnel, Natural Magnifying Glass, Huge Windmill/Turbine, Glowing Crystal, Echo Room, Giant Lightning Rod, 60’ Tall Gong, Giant’s Room, Midget’s Room, Non-Human Room, Giant Insect Colony/Rat Den, Crystalline Chamber, Immense Waterwheel, Dancing Swarm in Hive, Amplification Room, Heavenly Voices/Natural Radio, or Crude Electrostatic Generator.

Examples of Dilemmas: Nerve to Pass, Climb, Balance, Jump Across, Jump/Dive Down, Swim, Swing, Dodge, Care, or Endure.


Stuart said...

“less fighting, more thinking” -- very nice! This is my usual preference for running dungeons anyway. Thanks for sharing this. :)

Risus Monkey said...

I love the inclusion of Predecessor entries. That seems to be missing in most other tables that I've seen. Awesome. Thanks for sharing.

Fitz said...

That's a fascinating idea for random-dungeoneering. If you ever feel the urge to show us the ancillary charts to go along with this, you should submit to that urge.

Brutorz Bill said...

Excellent! Gonna keep my eyes peeled for this one!

Anonymous said...

Someone retro-clone the chart!

For that matter, someone retro-clone TSR's Indy game! It didn't have character creation rules, but it was a rather good pulp adventure game.

grodog said...

Thanks for the tip, Michael: I'll have to go see if my Indy box set has that stuffed into it or not :D


JB said...

What Stuart said...this is an awesome set of random tables, and I love the idea of making dungeons both more interesting and more "thinking" in nature. Very cool.

David said...

I think I'm going to have to try this out in a little sample dungeon.

ghostofmarx said...

I just rolled up Stonefast (later Basic D&D map for you to finish after Zanzer Tem's Dungeon) and I have to say it's a lot more interesting than what I'd have come up with alone. I rolled creature about 5 times total in a 42 room dungeon. But a lot of Uniques. I'm going to run it on Saturday if I get any players at the meetup.

mark-argent said...

I know it's been nearly a month since this post, and I don't mean to spam, but I found a stash of eight copies of the Indiana Jones Judge's Survival Pack in my archives, new in shrinkwrap. If anyone's interested in a copy, please feel free to contact me and make an offer.