Roll-Your-Own-Adventure (Adventure Outline Maker – Sci-Fi Edition – from Ennead Games)

If you’ve read any posts here at the Moebius blog, you know I like random tables. I like making them. I like rolling on them. And I used them all the time to help me come up with ideas, flesh them out, and add what Vince calls “the Fitz touch.”

Another friend in the RPG publishing world is Chris Kentlea of Ennead Games. He’s one of the most prolific guys I know when it comes to creating new material and he focuses almost entirely on random generators. He has them for fantasy and science fiction genres and they’re all terrific. I wrote about a few of them back when I was doing Game Knight Reviews.

(If you want to learn more about Chris, I sat down and chatted with him a few months ago and we rambled on for nearly an hour! You can see the video here. And even if you don’t watch the video, I encourage you to stop by the Ennead Games website which has a ton of great random generators available for your use. His products expand on them, but these cool little tools have a lot to offer as far as inspiration goes!)

Here’s the fun part. He just released a new one and I wanted to see if I could find a way to use it for generating adventure seeds for Mazes & Perils. Lo and behold, I think it may work. 🙂

The Adventure Outline Maker: SciFi Edition offers 16 pages with a collection of 13 tables – most of which have 100 items. With that amount of randomness you will have tons of possibilities. The idea is that you roll up a “mission” to go through…

  • Who are you contacting? What do they do for a living?
  • What’s the object of the mission?
  • Where are you going?
  • What complications might you encounter?
  • What help or opposition might you run into?
  • And what do you get as a reward?

This particular setup would work for just about any genre you might want to use it for, but let’s see what we end up with if we roll some dice…

We’ll roll first to see what kind of mission outline we’re looking at. I rolled a 9, which gave me “Giver & Mission.” So a slimmed down version of the whole thing. So we’ll then go roll on the [Contact- Profession], [Mission-Action], and [Mission-Target] tables.

  • Contact-Profession: Biochemist
  • Mission-Action: Repair
  • Mission-Target: Species

Ok, so that’s an interesting combination.

If I stay with the science fiction genre (and use the Donjon SciFi Name Generator as well as the Seventh Sanctum Corporation Generator, the Planet Name Generator at SciFi Ideas, and the Species Name Generator at Fantasy Name Generators), I might translate this as:

Dr. Thaddeus Askvig of the Hall Unlimited Dynamics corporation has put out a request for adventurous souls to fix a problem on Unica 8. He recently discovered an error with the DNA sequence they used to create a species of waste digesting bacteria. The Ebek strain was designed to consume methane and excrete usable energy crystals such are used to power most modern spacecraft and electronic systems. Unfortunately, a coding error left open the door for a mutation that might enable it to gain rapid sentience, adding a severe wrinkle to the Hall plan for energy independence.

Your mission is to investigate Unica 8, report on the progress of any mutations discovered there, and spread an engineered virus designed to fix the mutation factor and render it inert. The team left on Unica 8 to monitor the experiment has been unresponsive for nearly 30 days and presumed lost. As a secondary mission, you are to discover and return any remains of the crew for proper handling by the corporation and the crew’s families.”

That took me three die rolls and about 5 minutes to come up with. It already has the potential to be a great episode of FireflyKilljoys, or the next in the line of Alien-like movies. Perfect for a ragtag crew to investigate, right?

But I can quickly turn it back to a fantasy-themed adventure as well:

“The wizard Askvig from the magic school in the city of Hall has asked for a group of adventurers to check on an experiment he left running in the caves near Unica. He created a species of magical mushrooms that you could place a magic item in and have it recharge overnight. The idea would revolutionize the use of magic items and make them much more useful. Everyone would want a magic mushroom in their home, paying the good wizard thousands of gold pieces over his lifetime that he could then use to fund his research.

Unfortunately he discovered a problem with the type of mushrooms he used as the base for his experiment. The Ebek variety apparently has a strange knack for gaining sentience if given a large amount of magical energy. Nobody told him that when the experiment began, but speaking with some of his colleagues after his assistants began to disappear while watching the caves, he discovered the quirk.

He is asking for brave heroes to find a sample and return it to the school so he can research how to fix the problem in the next iteration. Oh, and discover what may have happened to his apprentices.”

That couldn’t possibly go wrong, could it? Nah. The PCs will be fine.

So as you can see, there’s a lot of flexibility with the approach Chris used for this product. I definitely recommend you check it out along with others in this series and others from Ennead Games!

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