Random Tables

I believe random tables have their place in the creative process. Like my collection of Rory’s Story Cubes or my three volumes in the classic Central Casting books by Jennell Jacquays, the table often provides an essential spark to my creative process. I don’t always include a random table in my books, but when I do there’s a damned good reason for it – it’s about introducing a spark or adding some spice. The Haunter of the Dark has 9-pages of random tables sandwiched between the guidance on creating and structuring adventures and the annotated story of the fate of Robert Blake. Connections Each of these tables ties neatly – and intentionally – into the story. Entered a site with a century long tie to a strange sect? Rummaging through the drawers of a forlorn artist? Tracking down a disgruntled ex-cultist? Broken into the cellar of an abandoned building? Picking up a copy of a local paper? Stumbled through the door to find a crumpled note lying in the dust? It’s all here and more. Whether you’re creating your own adventure or filling out the grey areas in a pre-written investigation, there are 20 short tables here (almost all of…

From Unformed Realms
Releases / June 20, 2016

As a Gamemaster, you just can’t have something planned for every eventuality. Perhaps you have to step in to run something on short notice or the normal group can’t meet so you want something to change the pace. The Cthulhu Hack offers a simple system for investigative horror, but where to get the horror? From Unformed Realms offers you a trusty collection of random tables to provide a springboard for your creativity just when you need it most. Below the waist… all human resemblance left off. The skin was thickly covered with coarse black fur, and from the abdomen a score of long greenish-grey tentacles with red sucking mouths protruded limply. Their arrangement was odd, and seemed to follow the symmetries of some cosmic geometry unknown to earth or the solar system. On each of the hips, deep set in a kind of pinkish, ciliated orbit, was what seemed to be a rudimentary eye; whilst in lieu of a tail there depended a kind of trunk or feeler with purple annular markings, and with many evidences of being an undeveloped mouth or throat. The limbs… terminated in ridged-veined pads that were neither hooves nor claws. Of genuine blood there was…

Crochet Borders
Hooks / April 9, 2015

Today’s random pull from the Storey Publishing Backlist deck of cards – “Around the Corner Crochet Borders“, a collection of 150 colourful crochet frames, each with detailed instructions for working around a corner. While an absolute must for intermediate crotchet enthusiasts in its own right, also the creative nudge for today’s random table of disputed and protected territorial lines. The scattered kingdoms, principalities and provinces of the world have very different views on maintaining border controls. Roll d6, twice: 1: A twisted borderland of monstrous briar, tended by (1-2: anxiously attentive animists; 3-4: societally dysfunctional druids; 5-6: begrudgingly belligerent briar elementals) 2: A shredded landscape of lines and cables, (1-2: a witch’s effort to hold off ten thousand years of geological movement and scant frayed threads away from a cataclysmic release; 3-4: a diplomatic minefield of fragmented zones under contractual discussion through long distance magical protocol demanding delicate negotiations to traverse by way of phantasmal civil servants; 5-6: an alchemist’s government-funded experiment, which extracts essences from those crossing the border and carries them back, underground, to his not too distant lab for cataloguing) 3: An imposing range of mountainous (1-2: golem, quested to remain here by a forgotten emperor for an act of war,…

Raising Chickens
Hooks / April 8, 2015

Random plot hooks for whole adventures, encounters or just rumours, based on a random book title drawn from my Storey Publishing deck of cards. This time we have the untapped potential of the farmyard from the Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens. Rolls d12: 1: Intellect – local scholar seeks to teach chickens rudimentary language skills to serve as a resource for his studies and field trips – much to the chagrin of local farmers 2: Awareness – wily street-monger trains chickens to harass customers into his pitch, swarming hapless travellers and passersby 3: Capital – beggars stealing chickens from local peasants and farmers to raise money 4: Family – a wild eyed woman, spattered with feathers and guano, seeks to adopt chickens into her extended household 5: Fuss – conniving hookman* scattered food around front doors to excite chickens as a means to draw attention away from his back window thievery 6: Questions – long-toothed street philosopher compares everything to the acts and wants of chickens, but much of his advice rings true and his reputation draws numerous onlookers 7: Rumpus – circus performer juggles and does seemingly impossible magical tricks with chickens 8: Expectations – aspiring champion of the…

One-Yard Wonders
Mechanics / April 7, 2015

Continuing the theme we started yesterday, I have another random table based on the Storey Publishing deck of cards. This time we have the classic One-Yard Wonders, a Look How Much You Can Make with Just One Yard of Fabric! So, roll a six-sided die (or throw six coins in the air and count the number that come up heads), then roll another (or flip a final coin, where a head is EVEN and a tail is ODD): a Folklore Bag. A sturdy, roomy shoulder bag, with a pockets on the inside and a buttoned lip. ODD: The characters pick the bag up accidentally as it resembles one of their own pieces of luggage sufficiently for the mistake to have happened innocently. The bag contains: 1: a selection of arcane papers concerning the dissection of the human body for components, as well as several jars of oddly coloured fluids; 2: the miniaturised kingdom of Abtikwhem, lost to legend and currently contained in an ornate snow globe; 3: several small wooden boxes containing the various ashes of an entire dynasty of noble rulers; 4: dozens of keys, of various shapes and sizes, with a 1 in 6 chance every time the characters come upon…

Basic Butchering
Mechanics / April 5, 2015

A random table determining the outcome of a successful strike with a sword, perhaps delivered on a critical, with advantage, or with style. The table arose from a deck of cards I own from Storey Publishing in North Adams, Massachusetts. I suspect I got it from a charity shop purchase. Each card shows the cover of a book on the publishers backlist, and I pulled Basic Butchering of Livestock and Game. Anyway, on a successful strike deemed to warrant a flourishing finish, roll a twelve-sided die (or draw a card from a single King-less suit, counting J as 11, Q as 12 and A as 1): 1: Topside. A swinging strike slices deep into the fat at the base of the rump, before 1-3: striking bone, 4-6: cutting a ragged wound into the thigh. Blood soaks the seat of victim’s pants, gore streaming down the back of the leg from the stinging open wound. Not life threatening, but movement, riding and just plain sitting down likely to be difficult and painful. 2: Thick Flank. A downward chop of the blade slices through the lower side of the torso along the abdomen, through muscle and flesh. Blood spills red and hot…