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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Quickie Dice Tool: Events and History

The previous posts on the quickie dice tool focused on nouns: how to roll for random people, places, and things. This post will focus instead on events.

I've already mentioned one way to roll for a random event: you can roll d4 + 3d6 to generate descriptions of ceremonies or other ritual behavior, with the d4 representing the character who must take action and each d6 representing one action that character must take; the numerical result on each d6 describes the order of the action. This process can be generalized to other events; if you have an invasion or influx of migrants or refugees, a quick d4 + 3d6 roll determines who they are and what they are going to do. Likewise, a 3d4 roll with vertical position interpreted as a beast, horizontal position interpreted as behavior, and numerical result of each d4 interpreted as season (fall, winter, spring, summer) gives you notable animal behaviors for the year, which could prompt some adventure opportunities. ("Why are the moose throwing themselves off a cliff this winter? Let's investigate! Or harvest some furs!")

A similar trick is to roll 3d6, with each d6 interpreted in order as a territory roll, to figure out the general history of a region. You may have a currently ruined area which used to be a town, but which was overrun by an influx of nomads.

A more elaborate approach would be to merge this process with the sketchy random history technique I described some time ago. There are a total of 12 lists in the middle of the sheet, so you could number them 1 through 12. Roll a d12 + 4d20 on the sheet:
  1. The d12 is the founding event for the region's dominant culture. Numerical result = list to use for interpreting vertical position; horizontal position = behavior or material, whichever seems more interesting.
  2. A d20 result of 1 to 12 is an event in recent history (about 100, 75, and 50 years ago, in any order desired.) Interpret position as for founding event.
  3. A d20 result of 13+ is a major shaping event. Interpret the vertical and horizontal position as for a Territory roll. Record the events in numerical order, with the last event occurring about 200 years ago and other events occurring further in the past, in 200-year increments; dice that match indicate events that happen around the same time, give or take a few years.
  4. If there are no major shaping events, the culture has lasted about 200 years. Otherwise, add 200 years to the relative date of the oldest shaping event to get the total duration of the culture (400 to 1000 years.)
  5. For current local events, follow up with a separate 3d20 roll and remove any dice results of 13+, then interpret as for founding events or recent history.
Note that these rolls use all 12 of the lists on the sheet, including the land and water geographical lists. This seems appropriate to me, since the sudden appearance of a geyser or forest can represent magical events. If this seems too far-fetched, though, all results of 11 or higher can be treated as major shaping events, using the Territory list instead of geographical features.

The twelfth list, labeled as "Descriptive", is meant to describe changes to geography, weather, or flora in the area. It can help determine miscellaneous events like earthquakes or volcanic eruptions. When used to describe events, it's probably best to combine this with the Material interpretation for horizontal dice position; thus, you can have rainstorms or tidal waves of acid, or animals twisted into grotesque forms.

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