Strahd Dies Tonight: A Ravenloft Matinee

Good Evening... again and again

As my Curse of Strahd campaign wraps up, I realized that I was really happy with the version of Castle Ravenloft that I'd put together. It's one of the most iconic Dungeons across all of D&D after all, and a lot of work went into configuring, linking and populating the maps. In the time working on it I learned the ins and outs of the castle the way one learns the layout of a video game. And so, I figured, why not repackage it as a re-playable adventure?

Turns out, D&D Beyond has some ideas for how to speed-run the castle as a one-shot, and so I pulled from that and now have my own twist on it ready to go. "Strahd Dies Tonight!" is now live with sessions available all through June, and then continuing further as long as I can help it.

Strahd Dies Tonight! on startplaying.games

The Rules

To make the game run quick and smooth, there's a few tweaks.

Madam Eva's Reading: The Tarokka cards are used to determine the random location of key items in the campaign, as well as where Strahd can be found in the castle. Since this adventure is contained within the castle, several cards are omitted to ensure the treasures are always present somewhere.

No random encounters: Just traps and monsters that already exist. If the party decides to camp out to wait for or hide from Strahd, then we'd be rolling something to get them moving.

Strahd's Boons: After each hour of real time play, the players are offered a boon in exchange for being bitten. This gives them some extra firepower for the final battle.


 

My Tweaks

NPC Cast: The twenty possible "fated enemies" in the campaign are available for the players to choose and play as. With their stat blocks exactly as described in the book, they range from a ten year old girl with commoner stats, to one of the most powerful mages in the multiverse, and a bunch of Barovian born and bred monsters in between. I filled out their biographies with text out of Lunch Break Heroes' "Lights in the Darkness" supplement so that players can quickly get a feel for the character with some roleplay directon.

Roguelike Progression: There's a bigger story going on here. Although the castle and  characters reset each playthrough, I'll be keeping track of what happened where and key in some clues as we go.
 

My Setup

I've moved my Foundry instance to the cloud, improving performance for everyone compared to when I ran it right off my desktop PC. Thanks to this, I'm able to make a heavy duty, high production value game. Here's a little bit of what you'll see and hear:

 

Sound like fun? "Strahd Dies Tonight!" is live now at startplaying.games. Come play with me!

Sword Coast Ramblers - Open World D&D!

Over the last few years, my group has run a handful of D&D adventures following the plot from their officially released books. We go through the locations in order, fight the final boss at the end, and say goodbye to our party with an epilogue. Sometimes a little bit of homebrew gets snuck in, and sometimes the party goes a little off the rails necessitating some improv. I imagine that's the experience for most tables. You make some stuff up on the fly, and it becomes canon for the greater world of your future adventures, but for the most part you're beholden to The Story as it's laid out by the author.

Every now and then with these adventures though, we get this peek at the fact that several of them take place in the same setting, The Forgotten Realms. Turns out over decades and editions and tons of sourcebooks, the place has been pretty fleshed out. I frequently find myself on the Forgotten Realms wiki, discovering snippets of that rich history and wondering what would happen if a table just... had... everything at their disposal.

Well, we've been building our collection of 5th edition adventures over at D&D Beyond for a while now. At this point it feels like the only thing stopping us is that tunnel vision of running one adventure at a time and calling that a whole campaign. Some of the books even propose methods to link them together with other adventures in fairly simple ways. Taking it a few steps further, a real, proper open world campaign using all canon content can bounce back and forth between major storylines, following the party's whims and showing off what a lived-in world this is. All it takes is a DM with an encyclopedic knowledge, or just enough organization to seem like it.

So, how do we do it?

For starters, you'll need at least a surface level understanding of the geography at play, and when and where the majority of the official adventures are set. Break down the chapters and side quests of each book to determine the appropriate level ranges, and turn those into pins on your map. Choose a starting location and introductory plot hook, and get adventuring just like always! As players hit appropriate levels for story beats from other books happening nearby, you can deliver news and new plot hooks that let them veer in a new direction.

Because the story begins to bounce between adventures, you need to be quick on the draw with prep. The D&D Beyond Importer tool for Foundry lets you get all the official maps ready to go, configured and populated in a few clicks. Stash them and your entire cast of monster stat blocks into a compendium for when they're needed. From there, it's just a matter of reading up on upcoming locations as they happen.

Another key tool in all this is a notes management app. I'm playing with Obsidian.md and its RPG manager plugin and find its got a great setup for managing relationships between factions, locations and characters. It takes some doing to get all the names and places in there to begin with, but once set up you have a lightning fast mini wiki at your fingertips. I did this in Foundry before, preparing the entire Curse of Strahd world prior to game time, and found it ended up killing in-game performance. An outside tool for information only the DM needs anyway is a smarter way to go.

Now then, what source books do we need to flesh out the world?

- Dungeon Masters Guide, Players Handbook, and Monster Manual, naturally

- The Sword Coast Adventurers Guide gives great background on several locations, written from the perspectives of in-world personalities. Letting the players get their hands on this information helps fill out the lore.

- "Volo's Waterdeep Enchiridion" from Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is useful for players in the city

- The Baldur’s Gate Gazetteer performs a similar function

- Xanathar's Guide to Everything gives a great set of random encounter tables and downtime activities


And for adventures, here's my rundown for how and where they can be used, going through the books in release order

- Lost Mine of Phandelver

This adventure takes place entirely in and around the town of Phandalin and can take characters as far as level 5 before you branch out into further adventures. There's nothing saying the players couldn't have reason to travel to other nearby towns earlier however - Triboar just to the East is another starter down and the initial plot hook has the characters having come from Neverwinter to the north.

- Tyranny of Dragons

This starts a short ways south in Greenest, but after level 5 turns into a road trip to Waterdeep where a council sends the party to all corners of the region to build allies and defend against the Cult of the Dragon. Your party might get roped into one or more of these excursions. Or perhaps while in town they could stop by the Yawning Portal to visit a megadungeon or two.

- Princes of the Apocalypse

This is set in the Dessarin Valley, east of Phandalin and south of Triboar, with the town of Red Larch serving as the party headquarters. A handful of side quests for surrounding towns are described which could be stumbled upon by wandering parties. The main plot involves the dealings of four elemental cults and culminates in clearing out each of their dungeons, each of which is appropriate for a different level group.

- Out of the Abyss

This Underdark adventure begins with the party captured by Drow, stripped of their weapons, and forced to flee pursuers as they try to get back to the surface and escaping by way of of the Dwarven city of Gauntylgrim. By level 8 they're recruited to dive back down and take out the rising demon lords. While this seems disconnected from the rest of the Sword Coast adventures, keep in mind that there can be entrances to the Underdark anywhere, and each settlement described in the book has its own thing going on. Also, getting captured and losing your equipment hits a lot harder for an established party vs a group of newly rolled characters.

- Storm King's Thunder

This is where the open world idea takes off. The main story here involves rampaging giants and a need to restore order by visiting locations all across The North. It offers multiple possible starting towns, with the choice between Triboar near the Dessarin Valley, Goldenfields near Waterdeep, or Bryn Shadar way up in Icewind Dale. Chapter three handily lays out a massive atlas with every town, road and patch of trees described along with story hooks and suggested encounters. This doesn't need to be the main story in a campaign, but it absolutely does the best job criss-crossing with all the others.

- Tales from the Yawning Portal

This is a collection of dungeons re-imagined from previous editions. The book provides the framing device of the Yawning Portal, an inn in Waterdeep whose main feature is a well where adventurers are lowered down into the megadungeon Undermountain below. Characters in Waterdeep could be recruited for any combination of these excursions, and the portal could whisk them anywhere you need them to go! The dungeons don't have a canonical place on the map, but the book does provide loose suggestions for where to put them.

- Tomb of Annihilation

This jungle adventure takes place far south in the jungles of Chult, and provides its own little open world to explore with several interesting locations and side stories. The whole thing culminates in a huge multi level dungeon. A party generally takes a boat from Baldur's Gate to kick this off. As part of a larger campaign, you can pick and choose which locations and objectives to offer as part of a visit.

- Waterdeep: Dragon Heist

This is an introductory adventure for characters starting in the City of Waterdeep, and describes lairs and machinations of four different villains which can be encountered depending on the season you're setting the adventure in. Being low level, it's unlikely to challenge a party that came to Waterdeep from elsewhere, but with some tweaks and focus on story instead of combat it could engage a visiting group with an interesting side quest.

- Waterdeep: Dungeon of the Mad Mage

The megadungeon of Undermountain is laid out in all its glory here, meant to be the logical next step for a party that played Dragon Heist. Any one level of this book is a self-contained dungeon on its own, opening it up to being visited at any time for any reason during your campaign.

- Ghosts of Saltmarsh

Okay you got me, this isn't officially set in the Forgotten Realms. As a transplant from Greyhawk, you can use a good lot of this book for its ship and naval combat rules, and sidequests in the Trackless Sea. DMs running this on the Sword Coast tend to place the town of Saltmarsh on the coast just west of Phandalin and north of Leilon.

- Dragon of Icespire Peak

This introductory adventure is set in and around Phandalin, already overlapping with the Lost Mines of Phandelver. Its structure is also easy to slot in, as a series of side quests and locations to explore in the area. Adding this to the campaign gives a new villain, the white dragon Cryovain, who can show up anytime, anywhere while the party's moving between locations.

- Storm Lord's Wrath \ Sleeping Dragon's Wake \ Divine Contention

This trilogy is a linear series of quests that follow up from Icespire Peak, taking the party west from Phandalin to the ruined town of Leilon, where they rebuild and fend off a number of threats from the surrounding region. A party wrapped up in this story might not stray far unless you give them specific reason to do so, such as putting the rebuilding of Leilon on a timeline and locking further progression of the story while they adventure elsewhere.

- Descent into Avernus

This adventure begins in Baldur's Gate, but soon after draws the party into another plane entirely after visiting Candlekeep and taking a portal to hell itself. Once that jump is made, you're likely committed to finishing the fight before letting the party return to the land of the living. Using bits and pieces of the adventure would require some creativity, but could offer variety to the setting.

- Icewind Dale: Rime of the Frostmaiden

This takes place entirely in the far northern reaches around the settlements of Ten-Towns. Its also one of the starting locations for Storm King's Thunder, giving more to do and fleshing out the area. In later levels, there's a wandering dragon construct to contend with that makes the region all that more dangerous before delving into frozen caverns and dungeons to retrieve an artifact with world-altering power. Pull that little macguffin at your own risk,.

- Candlekeep Mysteries

This book lays out a series of short adventures all of which are accessed by magical books within the library of Candlekeep, located south of Baldur's Gate and a long way from most of the action happening in the region. However, there's nothing saying one or more of the books couldn't find their way to the party via other means.

- Wild Beyond the Witchlight

A wandering carnival offers a fun distraction for the party with interesting characters and minigames. Should they follow through with the story as presented, they find themselves trapped in the Feywild and need to treat with the Hourglass coven before returning. Like Descent into Avernus the locations and characters within can serve as an interesting side trek to liven things up, but getting the party on this path will keep them there for a good while.

- Dragons of Stormwreck Isle

A newer introductory adventure, this one puts the party on a small island near Neverwinter. This serves as a simple starting zone with a small, manageable amount of quests before letting a party hit the mainland.

- Keys from the Golden Vault

This book presents a series of heist based adventures, most of which are location agnostic and can be slotted in anywhere, anytime. It's possible to add The Golden Vault as a new faction in the campaign, and offer their missions as a lucrative side hustle while in a large city like Neverwinter, Waterdeep or Baldur's Gate.

- Phandelver and below: The Shattered Obelisk

This newest book is actually a retooling of the first introductory adventure, covering the same grounds and then extending the story to some far out places. The action remains centered on Phandalin though, so it might be more something for the party to come back to and find in progress at a later point in the campaign.


It certainly seems like a lot, doesn't it? Well, wish me luck because I'm going to be trying it this year!

Casual Episodic fun with Adventurer's League

Although Dungeons & Dragons puts a whole lot of effort into marketing the next big book, multiple times a year, there's a lesser known series of official content floating out there: Adventurer's League! These are self contained adventures designed for Organized Play. That is, you can sit down at any table for any one of these adventures, play it out in a single sitting, and take your character along to the next one. I'm not running a table in a game shop or convention, but I do like the idea of players being able to come and go as they please and swap out characters any time. So! I've been adapting Adventurer's League content into a loose campaign for my group.

As of now, we've just finished Season One, thematically linked to Tyranny of Dragons which was also the first official book we ran. Each module is a stand alone adventure, but they link together to tell an overarching episodic story. In this first season, the players thwarted a handful of plots put forth by the Cult of the Dragon, and became refugees from the town of Phlan when Vorgansharax arrived and declared himself ruler. The season ends with a daring rescue of high profile citizens, but ultimately the party must leave the town behind and over the next couple seasons will be gathering allies before returning.

If Phlan sounds like a familiar town, that may be due to it being the setting for Pool of Radiance, a classic D&D computer game the events of which are canon and referred to frequently in the lore of these modules. Several locations in this Moonsea region also have history across previous editions of D&D.

Major events in the storyline are designed as Epics, adventures meant to be played across multiple tables simultaneously with their events affecting each other. I adapted and ran the first one "Corruption in Kryptgarden" towards the end of the season. This involved my players each running three characters as we bounced around in the narrative. It was an incredible experience, and I'm already looking forward to the next big story beats as we continue along.

Visuals

To encourage the lighthearted, casual feel of the game, I wanted the visuals to be bright and tactile. Many modules include black and white maps, which I could import into Dungeondraft and trace over easily enough. The textures have a toylike feel to them, and pairing them with 2MinuteTabletop's sticker styled tokens works perfectly.

Screenshot of Foundry VTT - encountering a pair of animated armors in the Jade Temple

And since plenty of the gameplay happens outside of combat maps, I leverage JamesRPG's animated backdrops and the Theatre Inserts module to facilitate an immersive theatre-of-the-mind setup, similar to my more serious Curse of Strahd campaign.

Screenshot of Foundry VTT - setting the scene for adventure!

Systems

Since each module has a set level range, it'd be impossible to play a single character throughout the entire season. So, players choose from their pool of characters at the start of each session resulting in an interesting variety of party makeups. To keep track of who's played which adventure and how familiar the characters are with eachother, I set up a tracking system within foundry with the 5e Downtime module.

A character sheet tab tracking relationships with other player characters, easy tracking for how often they've adventured together 

A character sheet tab that tracks which adventures a character has taken part in 

And with factions being a central gameplay element, I made use of a supplement that doles out actual rewards for gaining renown and ranking up across the five factions: Guide to the Five Factions.


In the second season, we're switching from milestone to XP levelling to slow progression down a bit, and dedicating more effort into making the 'downtime days' doled out by the modules more useful. I collated Dakota Cash's "Downtime Expanded" into Foundry for my players, and as an extra bonus every seven days used triggers a Bastion turn from the new Unearthed Arcana. This represents happenings at the guild chapterhouses in Mulmaster, a much bigger city than the first season's Phlan. This could end up in a dearth of magical items being added to the in game economy, but I'm not terribly worried as we have limits in place regarding how many can be brought into play at a time.

 Screenshot of Foundry VTT, showing off merchant sheets, one set up with downtime activities and another with Bastion facilities

As we hit the ground running with the new season and new characters, I'm excited to see what stories we put together. Adventurer's League is quickly becoming one of my favourite campaigns to run!

Fun with running Curse of Strahd in Foundry

For 2023 I'm running my second campaign, the highly regarded official adventure "Curse of Strahd". Leading up to my prep time, I surveyed my group to decide what sort of rules, systems, and focus we should have. This landed on a highly immersive, roleplay focused adventure with realism rules in place. The difficult part of this is balancing and automating those rules so that they don't encroach on the atmosphere. Here I'm sharing some of the resources and tools I found that anyone else leverage for this or any other campaign. Enjoy!


Supplemental Material

To beef up the story, I picked up several supplements and am incorporating bits and pieces. This gives us new NPCs, some guidance on pacing and intertwining plot hooks, and even some completely new quests and locations to discover. Here's a few recommendations:

High Production Value

The setting for Curse of Strahd is the moody, mist covered demiplane of Barovia. Being a popular book, there's no shortage of art out there to draw from. To enhance the atmosphere of my game, I've drawn on these sources:
The result is a pretty cohesive look and feel where the majority of the gameplay happens in theatre of the mind, switching to overhead battle maps for exploration or combat. Artwork straight from the official book blends in seamlessly.

The team engaged in combat at the Tser River crossing

Ireena enjoys the view at Tser Falls

Gathering around the Vistani campfire

Storytelling with the Vistani

Travel System

I made the decision that to increase immersion, the players won't be looking at overworld map while travelling. Instead, they're on a travel montage scene using animated backdrops. Theatre Inserts lets us keep the players displayed as portraits along the bottom of the screen, including text boxes so they can continue roleplaying without necessarily being 'on the map'.

The overworld map does exist as a scene in my game world, but it's for my own reference only. I track the players location and have notes and landmarks in place as clickable buttons using Monk's Active Tile Triggers. Clicking a landmark switches up the background for the travel montage scene that the players have active, loads up the appropriate Syrinscape mood using SyrinControl, displays the readaloud text with Narrator Tools, and preloads the battlemap if one is available so that we can quickly switch to it.

The DM view of Barovia

Configuration for a landmark

In some cases we have forks in the road or options regarding where to go. I put these to a vote using the Visual Novel Choices addon.

The team decides not to enter Old Bonegrinder


To display travel progress while on the road, I leveraged the Boss Bar module and created an actor that sits hidden on the montage scene. We use Innocenti's Travel Pace to chart our course, then set the actor's max hp to match. For each hour of travel, I use the programmed features to 'heal' the travel actor by an amount based on how many miles we can go at each pace. They also deplete a 'stamina' resource telling me when the party needs a rest. A togglable status effect for difficult terrain automatically halves the 'healing'. Meanwhile, the Random Encounters module automatically triggers for every 30 minutes of game world time while the travel scene is active, letting me know whether and what we're running into.

The travel actor

Food and Water

We enjoy the Rest Recovery addon for automating rules around characters needing to eat, drink, and sleep, then automatically applying exhaustion if needed. However, it becomes a pain reminding players to consume things from their character sheets (or make sure they have them on hand) on every long rest. Since they have a cart with a water barrel as part of their party, I placed all the rations and water in one place, and created features to automatically deplete a day's worth of food and water in one click, speeding up the process for everyone. The Party Resources module helps the team keep track of what they have on hand, including in their own inventories.

The food and water actor, party sheet and resource tracking

Next, I devised a method to make sure fresh meat, fish and berries age and go rotten over time. When the group takes a long rest, I trigger a series of inventory square tiles that look for and replace fresh food with less fresh food.

Meat aging automation

Encumbrance and Inventory

We're enforcing carrying capacity rules in this game, using the Variant Encumbrance module to track and automate the effects of carrying too much. While this does technically integrate with Item Collection to enable bags and chests to hold other items, our preferred approach is to create separate actors and use them as Item Piles instead. This way each bag and chest is an actual object in game with its own carrying capacity being tracked, and it's super easy for players to pop them open and drag and drop items back and forth.

Downtime Activities

On top of the standard rules for foraging in the wild, I've incorporated systems from a few different supplements into downtime activities. This took the creation of several roll tables and journal entries, leveraging the Downtime TrackingGatherer and Mastercrafted modules. From the players' end however, they can just click a button on their character sheet that guides them through the required rolls, and then adds the appropriate rewards directly to their inventory. During rounds of downtime, we use the Out of Combat Tracker so players can see at a glance what everyone else is up to.

Sources for these systems:

A player's downtime tab


The out of combat tracker


Journals and Lore

Being a big world with plenty of interconnected stories, I wanted to make sure my players have information at their fingertips so they could keep track of everything going on. So, on top of writing session recaps in a shared Google Doc, I also maintain the journal system within Foundry. Using Monk's Enhanced Journals, there's different types of entries for people, places, quests, points of interests, even shops. They can all be linked via relationships allowing the players to click around and explore wiki-style.

Journal entries and lore

Combat Rewards

When you choose to run a campaign with milestone leveling instead of experience, random encounters and combat in general has the risk of becoming an unsatisfying slog. There are rules for calculating gold rewards for combat based on the difficulty rating, though it doesn't fit well with realism rules to be able to loot cash of off wild animals. To split the difference, I have Monk's Token Bar calculating rewards and assigning them to a Commendations loot sheet. The players can't collect these until they check in at town. I've created 'token' items that help track how many creatures they've downed of different types, and these will be redeemable for weapon enhancements or high quality gear.

The growing rewards list for the party's combat encounters

The Faction reward shop, still in progress

Time and Weather

I recreated the Barovian Lunar calendar in game, adding important dates to help keep the group centered in the world. Simple Calendar, Smalltime, and Smallweather all integrate together to automatically affect lighting and add weather effects to scenes.

Calendar and weather controls

And that's about all the fun integrations I have to show off for now. Feel free to check them out and enhance your own game!

It's ready! A two year homebrew travel log

 Coming up to the end of a two year homebrew campaign, I've put together a travel log as a treat for myself and the players. This summarizes the plot for each session, including links to soundtrack playlists, screenshots, snippets of DM notes and character letters. I'll be updating it as we have our last few sessions, as well as adding more detail and visual enhancements. Check it out!

Eldath's Mirror



Potion Crafting & Gathering in D&D 5e with Foundry

Well! Another pet project underway that scratches that itch of mine about getting things to work together. Today what we're doing is setting up ingredient gathering and item crafting, enabled by the modules Gatherer and Mastercrafted by theripper93, and the supplement "Potion Brewing and Ingredient Gathering for D&D 5e" by piccolo917 as our source material.

The material we're referencing is available free on GMBinder at https://www.gmbinder.com/share/-MNG6P6I8-1tJM3aroaV, and you can support piccolo917's Patreon to thank them for their work.

Both of the modules enabling this are available by subscribing to theripper93's Patreon. They do great work, so I highly recommend throwing a couple bucks their way!

Gatherer in action: 



Mastercrafted in action:




So here's the process:

Step 1: I needed to create each ingredient referenced in the material that doesn't already exist in the core books. The reference material gives us the information on how rare the items are, where they're found, how hard they are to harvest and how much you can get at once. Some of the raw ingredients are edible and can act as potions, poisons or food on their own. I set this up best I can with Dynamic Active Effects and Rest/Recovery so that players will be able to make use of them easily. All this content, I exported to a compendium which I'll have uploaded here. I'm looking for a smarter way to import/export this but for now it'll be a little messy.

Step 2: I created a Roll Table for each environment. Using Better Roll Tables I can add the dice roll for quantities, and I also weighted the harder to get ingredients so that they'd be less likely to come up. These roll tables will also be uploaded as a compendium for your importing needs!

Step 3: I created a Journal entry for gathering, and a page for each environment using the Gatherer module. With this, a player with the necessary tools (Herbalism Kit) can roll a DC to see if they find an ingredient, and then it automatically rolls on the table and adds them to the player's inventory! This journal entry? Yup, I'm adding to the upload.

Step 4: Using Mastercrafted I created a Recipe book for each section of the material. Again, several of the potions are new creations so I entered them by hand and will have them included in the compendium along with the crafting ingredients.

So far I have all of the Herbalism recipes complete and ready to go, and will be updating this post once I have Alchemy and Poison recipes as well. Monster loot is included in the compendium but not on the Roll Tables.

My end goal is to get this content packaged up for users to quickly download and install from right within Foundry. This is a new thing for me, so it'll take some trial and error!

Update: the Github for this project is live at Github!

Random & Dragons

Here is a fun way to run a low stakes, low prep D&D campaign where everything is randomized.

The Big Idea

Sometimes my D&D group needs to miss a session on one of our campaigns, either due to missing people, or the DM being behind on prep or just not feeling up to it. I like to have a one-shot adventure at the ready in these cases, but sometimes even that is too much work. And so! I devised a game world in my Foundry that lets us run a no-prep randomized story any time we want.

This is largely enabled by the Community Tables module in Foundry, which in turn pulls plenty of content from dndspeak.com. Having these tables handy takes care of the heavy lifting for coming up with story ideas, leaving you to just connect the dots with your players.

Creating the party

Have someone roll a d20 to determine the party level. Then each player rolls from tables of available classes and races. If you're using the free Basic Rules, that means a 1d10 for race, and a 1d12 for class. You can adjust this if you have other sourcebooks available, of course, and optionally choose to do a secondary roll for the subclasses available at level 3. Once your players have their basics they can go about creating their character sheets.

Races:
  1. Dwarf
  2. Elf
  3. Halfling
  4. Human
  5. Dragonborn
  6. Gnome
  7. Half-Elf
  8. Half-Orc
  9. Tiefling
  10. ~roll again~
Classes:
  1. Barbarian
  2. Bard
  3. Claric
  4. Druid
  5. Fighter
  6. Monk
  7. Palidin
  8. Ranger
  9. Rogue
  10. Sorcerer
  11. Warlock
  12. Wizard

Players roll a d100 per level, then multiply by 10 to get their starting gold, which they can use to purchase equipment as desired. Depending on their starting level, they can also roll for magic items for each milestone from the tables in Chapter 7 of the Dungeon Master's Guide

  • Level 5: Magic Item Table F
  • Level 10: Magic Item Table G
  • Level 15: Magic Item Table H
  • Level 20: Magic Item Table I

To flesh out the player characters, you can roll from some of the dndspeak tables. A couple favorites are 100 Character Backgrounds and 100 Adventuring School Superlatives





Creating the world

There are several tools out there to quickly generate a random landmass map. I like mapgen, because I can generate a neat unexplored version of the map for use with Foundry's simplefog module, making for a nice visual effect, like so:


To add towns and landmarks to the world, have each player roll one or two entries from worldbuilding tables like 100 Unique Towns/Villages or 100 Interesting Temples or Monastaries. Those can become journal entries which you then drop onto the map to be discovered later.

Creating the Plot

Here's the fun part! Your player characters backgrounds and the landmarks on the map are going to inform the story though natural exploration and roleplaying, but they will need some direction to start with. The first plot hook can come either from the Random Everything Generator or a dndspeak table like 100 City Quests or 100 Side Quest Hooks. You can work the destination for the plot into an existing landmark on the map, or slyly add new ones as needed. As you meet characters they can be fleshed out by tables like 100 NPC Personality Traits or 100 Travelers you Meet along the Road. Weaving the randomly generated elements together into related story threads is a fun challenge for a DM.



Exploring the World

Setting out in the world, the meat of the game is played by Hexcrawl rules, as laid out expertly by The Alexandrian. There's plenty of depth there for managing the party's pace, navigating, getting lost, and encounters. Here's the super simplified casual version:
  • Each map hex is 12 miles, side to side
  • At an average speed, the group moves 1 hex every four hours
  • For each four hour block, roll a d12 to determine if something happens
On a 1, the party runs into a wandering encounter based on their level and the biome they're in. I find the tables in Chapter 2 of Xanathar's Guide to Everything to be useful. Alternatively there's various free encounter generators online, such as  2minutetabletop or Fantasy Calendar's Kobold+ Fight Club.

On a 12, this would trigger a 'keyed event' in a properly prepped Hex Crawl adventure, some event or discovery designed to show up at that location. Since we're going all random all the time, we can roll from a table at dndspeak that matches the biome and mood such as 100 Social Encounters Along the Road, or 100 Interesting Forest Locations.

The Dungeon Part

Eventually your story will take you indoors and it will be time to go dungeon delving. There's several tools out there to quickly generate a dungeon map, such as Fantasy Calendar's Dungeon Generator or the Radugen module directly in Foundry. Once the layout's done, you can determine what the rooms are and what's in them as the team explores, using the Random Dungeon Appendix in the Dungeon Master's Guide. By the time your team gets to a dungeon, it should already be well established in your story so you'll have a good idea what kinds of creatures will be there.

And that's about it! A framework to randomly generate your adventure. From there, it's all improvisation and thinking on your feet to link things together! If you use this idea and like it, or have more resources to offer, let me know! Good luck, and happy adventuring!