One of the most interesting and flavor-choked character generation elements in first-edition Stormbringer is its character Nationality chart. A single random roll not only tells the player what part of the Young Kingdoms she hails from but has a profound effect on what the character will be. Her range of class backgrounds, magic accessibility, cosmic allegiances, body type even, all hinge on that single roll.
The resultant character positively drips with Moorcockian Swords & Sorcery ambiance--while providing for some really interesting asymmetrical surprises for the player--a hell of a nice hat trick in game design.
Though I have been busy dumping the Young Kingdoms formal dress in my (non-commercial) SB hack for the second Domain Game phase, I am not-surprisingly deeply reluctant to dump those kinds of elements in the mash-up system.
So what's the work around? How do you create something that can hit those notes without being bland as white toast, buying into a big-boy licensing feature, or straight-jacketing co-creation?
Solution A is create a generic, sociological system. Solution B is to tie it around a specific, hardwired setting of my own. Insert the sound of a loud, strident game show “wrong answer” buzz here.
Solution C is to try and play to that strength of that original chart and go even more random—and weird (and tongue-in-cheek). I, of course, voted for that.
Below is part one of my random S&S nationality generator. The first part is more generalized and can be used for nearly any fantasy rpg, the second part will have more mechanical applications to my hack--but should be relatively easy to adapt into other games if desired.
As always eager to hear any feedback.
Swords & Sorcery Nation Generator
Step 1. Roll on Nationality Name. Change or modify results to suit your own taste.
Step 2. Roll on National Features.
Step 3. Based on Step 1 and 2, compute background paths.
Step 1: Nationality Name
Name Structure Chart
|2-3||[Syllable] + [Syllable]|
|4-6||[Syllable] ' or - [Syllable]|
|7||[Syllable] + [Syllable] + [Syllable]|
|8||[Place Name] “of” [Descriptor]|
|9||Color of Your Choice + [Place Name]|
|10||[Descriptor] [Place Name]|
|Endless/With No End|
|[The First Word that Comes Into Your Head]|
Place Name Chart
Nice! I like. You probably need to expand the charts after a while, but that's easy to do, or use larger charts for generating NPC nationalities.ReplyDelete
I think you chose the right approach. :)ReplyDelete
I'm interested in seeing what you do with the second part.
Works pretty well!ReplyDelete
Moors of Woe
Hills of Iron
Yep it is dire need of a few more descriptors and maybe some more entries on the name structure chart. My mind started to draw a blank.
Just finishing it and up and formatting. I like the second part even better.
Great stuff. This was a timely post. I read it just now while I was taking a break from an on-going project -- converting Matt Finch's awesome Tome of Adventure Design into Inspiration Pad format. It just took me a couple minutes to convert your tables into IP format. I can e-mail the file to you, if you'd like. I added a color list and some other place names ("Chasm, Well, Lagoon"... and how did you forget "Cantons"?) Here's a sample output from IP:ReplyDelete
Crater of Sighs
Moors of Desolation
Hills of Woe
Well of Dread
Valley of Howls
Cantons of Whispers
Hey, Inspiration Pad is really good for this easy tables. Fast to create, even faster to generate.ReplyDelete
I rolled up Hills of Fear the old fashioned way bevore reading the comments... ;)
Once again you earn a big shiny gold star. Thanks, yes I could definitely use something like that.
Just added so more tables, any chance they can be a second or related generator?
And yes how could I miss "Cantons" indeed. I am so going to name any new blog I make, Cantons of Woe.ReplyDelete
Very Cool stuff man! Awesome work!ReplyDelete
MyrKyr, the Desolate CityReplyDelete
This is really great. I worked up an Excel spreadsheet that generates them. One of the pages of the workbook is a printable page with 100 alphabetized nationalities (although it doesn't eliminate duplicates).ReplyDelete
I didn't see part two, I'll see what I can do. Sure, this could be done in perl, but there's something about the spreadsheet that let's you see all the possibilities...
Here a sample from the 100 it generated just now
Craters of Madness
Mountains of Whispers