Tools Review: Dingle’s Games Generators

It could be said that I’m a sucker for a random generator. But over the years, through trial, error, and trying my own hand at various tools, I’ve come to realize that not all generators are equal. That hasn’t stopped me from checking out new tools as they come to my attention.

That said, when Paul Singleton of Dingle’s
Games
pinged me a few months ago, I was happy to add his page of tools to my review queue. And it was quite obvious that he’s focused on tools to aid GMs not just randomly generate some game bits, but be able to do something with them later. As such, the site has a membership program something like the D&D subscription program (more on this in a bit)… The tools include a collection of NPC resources, a Treasure Creator, an Encounter Generator, and a Monster Creator.
Human Zombie Template (Small or Med) CR 1
XP 400
Any Medium Humanoid (Undead) Undead Traits
Commoner level 2 (skill points 2) Commoner
Init -1; Senses Darkvision
DEFENSE
AC 12, Touch 9, flat footed 12 (+ Leather, + Shield, none)
(-1 Dex, +1 Natural, +2 armour)
hp 16 (0d8+1d8+2d6+2+3);
Fort +0, Ref -1, Will +5
Damage reduction 5/Slashing
OFFENSE
Speed 30
Melee
Single Attack Mace,Heavy +3 (1d8+3)
Full Attack
Mace,Heavy +3 (1d8+3)
Space 5ft.; Reach 5ft.
Special Attacks
STATISTICS
Str 15, Dex 9, Con 0, Int 0, Wis 10, Chr 10
Base Attack 1 CMB 3; CMD 12
Feats
Athletic: +2 Climb +2 Swim,
Toughness: +3 Hit points or +1 per hd
Skills Climb 4, Swim 4
Languages Common
ECOLOGY
Environment Any
Organization Comapny 10-20, Band 30-100, Squad 4-8
Treasure Standard
SPECIAL ABILITIES
Staggered (Ex) can only perform a single move action or standard action each round
MAGIC ITEMS (max value 260)

If you ever need more than a quick NPC for a game (typically a NPC that’s going to be around for a bit), the two NPC Generators should be right up your alley. It’s more like creating an entire character, but with about a billion more choices as far as “race.” Whether you use the 3.5e or Pathfinder version, you are presented with a few simple options. Pick a “Monster” type – everything from Aasimar to Zombie, including all the PC races like Human, Dwarf, and Elf. Then you pick a “Template” – from Advanced to Zombie Template. And if you’re good with that, just hit “Generate Monster” and you’re off to the races.

Or if you want a bit more control, you can pick a primary and secondary class as well as a Prestige class, picking the levels for each. You have a little control over the initial stat values (Elite vs. Nonelite)…

I decided to create a Human with a Zombie Template, gave it a couple of levels of “Commoner”,  hit “Generate Monster” and ended up on a page that allowed further customization. A ton of customization. Everything from HD and HP to weapons, armor, further tweaking of stats, skills, magic items, feats, and description. You can really tweak these things to within an inch of their life (or in this case, unlife).

Now, as you’ll notice in the generated NPC, there’s a typo and a few issues with initial-caps, but ultimately the ability to create an NPC and save it for later use or updating is pretty cool. You get a list of saved NPCs that you can edit, print, and delete.

In addition, Paul has been putting together new NPCs every day (or almost every day) using these tools and then adding them to his “NPC a Day” list. There’s a huge list of potential NPCs for your campaigns here – everything from a minotaur and a gnome alchemist to a “Special Squad” of NPCs that would probably cause a PC party a fair amount of trouble (each NPC is CR10 or 11).

The “Treasure Generator” offers a quick way to create a list of treasure for a particular CR encounter. For instance, I gave it CR 8, Coins x2, and left Goods and Items at x1, clicked “Generate Treasure” and ended up with a pile of coins (130 pp, 700 gp), an assortment of goods (banded agate, black pearl, tiger eye turquoise, and a fire opal), and a collection of items (4x minor, a Ring of Jumping, a Scroll of Divine 1d3 spells level 2 Hold animal, Bracers of Armour +2, and a Bead of Force). I have to say some of those item descriptions are a bit puzzling, but being able to come up with a CR-appropriate treasure list is definitely helpful.

When I tried out the “Encounter Generator” I ran into a bit of trouble. I tried creating a “Humanoid” type encounter and couldn’t get it to bring anything back for the different terrain types I tried (again with a few typos). When I set the type to “All” – I got quite an assortment of encounters ranging from 10 or so  encounters with dragons and manticores for the “Warm marshes” terrain to 145 different encounters in the “Underground” terrain ranging from troglodytes to dwarves, centipedes, minotaurs, and much more.

The “Monster Creator” enables you to add your own custom monsters. But unlike the “NPC Generators,” this one is far too wide open for my tastes. It amounts to a bunch of empty fields you have to fill in, with no help on what you should put into those fields in most cases. I’m not sure that it’s very useful unless you’re comfortable creating your own monsters from scratch.

The NPC tools are free to use up to level 5 in two classes and a prestige class. And creating and advancing monsters is also free. Paid membership bumps the level limit to 30 in D&D 3.5 and level 20 for the Pathfinder RPG. For the membership, as far as price goes, I think it’s quite a bit better than WotC‘s current subscription cost – currently a Dingles membership is running $7 for 3 months up to $40 for a lifetime membership. WotC charges more than that for a year-long subscription, though you get access to the complete D&D Compendium and a lot more than just the character generator. That said, the Dingle’s Games tools are a bit more focused on just a few tools as opposed to offering the entirety of the D&D online catalog.

I think overall Dingle’s Games has a good thing going. The ability to save your NPCs for later tweaking definitely sets it apart from sites like Chaotic Shiny, Seventh Sanctum, and so on. There’s definitely some growth potential and room for improvement, with a thorough edit pass to fix any spelling issues and clearing up any unclear descriptions. But overall I think Paul has a good start and will be curious to see how the site changes and grows over time. I’d definitely encourage you to check it out!

Head over to Dingle’s Games today to play with the generators and see what you think.

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