d30 Sandbox Companion: Generically Awesome

+Erik Tenkar and +Tim Shorts have both rendered their opinions on the d30 Sandbox Companion. They loved it.

(Erik’s review at Tenkar’s Tavern here)

Now, I do play in Erik’s Swords and Wizardry campaign with +Peter V. Dell’Orto (whom I know well) and others (whom I’ve really only met once). But I wanted to take a different tack on this.

The book is 56 printed pages, including 7-8 pages of bookends (art, table of contents, index).

The rest of the book is page after page of random tables. Wilderness locations, temples, cults, castles and strongholds . . . even two pages on randomly determining the weather. Detailed tables on generating settlements. What services (all kinds of services!) the local inns offer.

Two full, and fully awesome, pages on heraldry. He claims something like 27,000 combinations.

Fifteen pages on various NPCs.

Sure, sure. But it’s all for old school gaming, right? If you’re not playing a D&D clone, or maybe stretch it to Pathfinder, maybe, you’re screwed.

Right?

Not even close. I’d say about 36 pages are entirely generic. Basically strings of imaginative words, cleverly laid out to provide descriptions of towns, inns, people, sages . . . hell, even whole adventures.


Don’t believe me: Here’s a sample adventure in 10 die rolls, using Excel (because I don’t have a d30):

Trigger reconnaisance
Major goal Prevent invasion
Obstacle to goal Beat time limitation
Location Hamlet
Location Feature Fountain
Phenomena Charm
Villian Goal/Reason Mischief
Artifact/Relic bowl/brazier/censer
Theme Power
Key NPC Magic User

OK, we have a magic user as the key NPC; let’s make him the villain. Let’s say that when the water from the water from a natural, blessed fountain is placed into a certain artifact, a holy bowl from which a saint or other holy personage was said to have drunk, it causes the drinker to be able to become nearly irresistible. Were talking Hitler-levels of charisma.
So, our magic user wants to cause a stir. He needs a diversion to allow him to get into some other location to obtain, say, a grimoire or geniza. So he leaks the information to a power-hungry (there’s power again) noble (or several nobles), all of whom will journey to this remote hamlet to seize the bowl. The drinker will be able to use his magically awesome charisma to cause several normally-fractious neighbors to join forces to invade, and perhaps conquer, a stronger but otherwise peaceful kingdom. The PCs need to get to the hamlet and find the location of the bowl, perhaps uncover the secret of bowl+fountain = charisma, before the rival nobles can.
Will the PCs drink from the bowl? Perhaps . . . but all gifts come with a price, of course.
See? It’s gold. 

So, what about the other 10-13 pages of “not-generic” stuff? Well, some of that has descriptors like “fighter” or “cleric” that can absolutely be swapped out for any Dungeon Fantasy template of appropriate strength. Low-level fighter needed? Go buy DF15: Henchmen and poof! Instant conversion of a D&D-type character to GURPS. Magic items can be converted or translated. Yes, it’s some work, but a hell of a lot less than you’d wind up doing inventing it whole cloth.
If you don’t have a handy megadungeon, you can certainly have years of fun simply by rolling some dice.
Oh, and bonus: If you don’t want to roll, you can rather easily get these descriptors and die rolls into your favorite spreadsheet program and generate instant random adventure seeds (or anything else in the table).
Good stuff, and not just for OSR fans. Nice work by Richard J. Leblanc of New Big Dragon!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *