Not all commoners in a Dungeon Master's Town need to be as confused as this fellow when questioned by heroes. (The figure is "The Village Idiot" by Hasslefree Miniatures, painted by SaxonAngel and posted on coolminiornot.com.
Many Dungeons & Dragons players make a habit of flagging down non-player character (NPC) townsfolk in urban settings and asking them questions. While a Dungeon Master (DM) can usually fabricate answers relevant to the prepared adventure, when the player asks for more generic or personal information from an NPC, it becomes a bit more difficult to improvise an immediate, believable answer.
Instead of giving a generic, awkward or inconsistent answer – and ruining a perfectly good role-playing opportunity – the DM can roll percentile dice, (roll two ten-sided dice, reading the first die as the ‘tens’ digit and the second as the ‘ones’ digit; thus a roll of 4, then 3 is 43; a roll of 0, then 6 is 6; a roll of 8, then 0 is 80; and a roll of 0, then 0 is read as 100) compare the result to a number from the following list, and push ahead with the game.
This list has been formatted as a free .pdf download, available on the Free Downloads page.
While he or she may or may not be willing to tell the heroes, the NPC…
- Just visited the barber/surgeon – where the bloodletting continued a little too long – and the NPC isn’t sure if he or she feels better or worse after treatment.
- Needs directions to a local temple or guildhall.
- Lost a pet, and is out looking for it.
- Is going to the magistrate to complain about a neighbor’s new roof, which casts a shadow over the NPC’s entire radish garden.
- Wants everyone to know how proud he or she is about their child, who just joined the town guard.
- Is going to work or home, after attending the funeral of a close relative.
- Has been shopping all morning for an iron or tin pot, but hasn’t found the right one yet.
- Is a parent of six small children, and has stepped out into the street because it is quieter there than it is at home.
- Is walking about town, dressed in his or her finest clothing, seeking a mate.
- Is in a hurry to get home. Continue reading
Gentle Reader: this list has been formatted as a free .pdf download for your use; you can get the file by clicking here or visiting our Free Downloads page.
Many fantasy role-playing game adventures contain scenes set in Medieval cities, towns or villages. Although published adventures will contain information necessary to further the adventure’s plot, they usually don’t contain much else. This situation places the game master in the unenviable place of presenting only information relevant to the adventure; doing so makes it more difficult for the game master to present the settlement as bustling with activity, while at the same time making the adventure far easier for the heroes.
It is for this reason that the list below was generated. The next time a player asks what is happening on the street, a quick percentile roll or five on the table below will fill your town with activity, some of which may even lead to adventure.
- A juggler performs on the street.
- A street preacher makes a loud, public sermon on the back of a wagon. He is a man of the local religion’s cloth and will not stop preaching for anything less than the drastic.
- A crier tells of a prominent minstrel’s upcoming performance.
- A teamster is hauling a wagonload of pig iron with a team of two straining oxen. His destination is a blacksmith shop.
- A woman carrying a stack of books trips in front of the party and falls over, scattering her books everywhere.
- A street hawker is peddling tin wares; he bangs two tin pots together to punctuate his sales messages.
- A pane of glass falls out of a window. It shatters on the street.
- Two wagons recently collided. The respective teamsters have managed to clear the road and are calmly sorting the matter out with the watch.
- A pedagogue passes by, with about six noble children following behind her like ducklings.
- A group of unruly foreigners walk down the street, laughing and having a good time. Some might be drinking, even this early in the morning. Continue reading
(Author’s note: this started as a much smaller list, and quickly grew to a far longer list than intended. For this reason, the list has been reproduced as an Adobe pdf file, which can be downloaded here or on the downloads page.)
Tavern gossip can be a great source of Dungeons & Dragons adventure leads, and more than one published adventure has begun with the heroes overhearing something over a tankard or two. Many experienced players have been conditioned to listen for adventure leads in this manner, and some might ask, “What do I overhear?” in an effort to glean a bit more information about the adventure.
Often, the only information the dungeon master has on hand for the heroes to overhear is pertinent to the adventure, so he may provide more information than he should, or provide the boring, flat answer of, “you hear nothing interesting,” which even the newest player will see as the DM taking the easy way out of the situation.
It is for this reason that the list below was generated. The next time a player asks what tavern patrons are discussing, a quick percentile roll or five will fill the place with lively chatter, some of which may even lead to adventure. Continue reading