... now with 35% more arrogance!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Quickie Dice Tool

Remember the old d20 Quickie Tables?

It took several posts to explain them all, and I uploaded two single-page PDFs that included all the tables (but not much explanation on how to use them.) I've always intended to go back and tweak some entries, then add both tables to unified document with full explanations and examples.

But as an experiment, I thought I'd try doing them as a dice map in the style of Zak S.'s "drop-dice" tables. And I got it all on one page! Some of the lists are compressed (I condensed the 28 entries for Events and Modifiers to terrain into a single list of 10 descriptions, for example.) But it's still tons of information.

The left and right margins contain the consonants, in the order that Lewis Carroll used in his mnemoic cypher. The vowels are across the top, digits from 1 to 0 are across the bottom. The directions are in the middle, upper right corner. The key -- what used to be the d20 formulas -- is in the upper left corner. The lower half of the instructions is a set of lists; if you can't think of the name of animal that starts with "L" or "V", just look those up in one of the lists. The order is the same as in the left and right margins, with the vowels AEIOU occasionally subbing for BDJFL.

Some explanations for the verbs/behaviors might be helpful: whenever necessary, you can substitute a different verb with the same conceptual effect. If you roll "Break Food"  as the behavior of a random monster, for example, you would probably change "Break" to "Rot" or "Spoil". "Empty" means "remove", "unload", "unpack"; you can use this for digging, for example. "Throw" can also be "Toss", or any ranged attack; "Swing" can be any melĂ©e attack or any general tool-use action. "Lift" can be expanded to moving or repositioning objects in general. "Grow", or any other verb for that matter, can be swapped for its opposite, if it seems appropriate. "Zero" not only represents the number zero, but "zero action", for those rare instances when you want a creature, trap, or other item that does absolutely nothing.

Similarly, the colors and materials can be modified when necessary. "Gold" can become "Yellow" or "Orange", "Earth" can be clay or sand, "Liquid" might merely mean wet.

The dice rolls are optimized so that you can roll multiple dice all at once. For example, you roll 2 to 4 d4s to get a name. Roll a d4 and a d6 to describe an NPC and what the NPC is doing (great for statues as well.) You can roll a d4 and a d6 to get a hybrid beast (like a gryphon, minotaur or pegasus.) It's easy to modify the key as well to suit special needs. You can, for example, roll a bunch of d6s instead of d4s for statues of "Egyptian"-style animal-human hybrid gods, to get results like "Jade statue of Toad-headed god" or "Clay statue of god with pig's feet."

Edit: There's an error in the key for "Monster". It direct you to use the top edge of the sheet for the monster's behavior, when you should, of course, use the bottom edge; the arrow is pointing in the wrong direction.

As previously mentioned, I wasn't able to get the PDF to work correctly after upload. This is a weird "feature" of Google Docs; sometimes, when you make a PDF on your computer and then upload it, some images in the PDF disappear inexplicably. The problem is that I added the key and lists sections as images, because it was easier to lay them out first in another app, then import them into Inkscape. I may be able to fix this later by re-doing the PDF in InDesign, but that takes a little more time. In the meantime, the image above redirects to a large PNG image, which makes the text a tiny bit blurry, but still readable.


  1. This looks pretty dang useful. I think I'll print it and keep it handy for a while to see what happens.

  2. @Jeff: Cool! If you think of a new use, let me know... I think I'm going explore its mysteries in more detail...

  3. You should put a title and link to your blog on this thing so that people can remember where it came from.

  4. @Brendan: Good idea... I'll see what I can squeeze in for version 2.0.