Sometimes you just need a spark to create something on the fly or even if you have plenty of planning time. That one idea, flash of inspiration, or kick in the pants to create an encounter, an adventure, or even a whole campaign around…
And sometimes that spark comes to you by way of a problem. This guy (or gal) has a problem with that thing (or person or event) and calls in the PCs to mop it up. Right?
Now I have a tool that I can use to generate a problem quickly. Not that I don’t have enough problems myself, but sometimes I want an idea of how to kick something off. Courtesy of Chaotic Shiny’s Problem Mini-Gen that Swordgleam announced back in January, all I have to do is bring it up and click “Generate a Problem” to suddenly come up with all sorts of interesting suggestions.
For example, the first time I clicked the button I read: “Carly Mealtail has a problem. It involves a peasant, a rogue, the daughter of a mythical heroine, a message and a sorceror.” Funny enough, I read poor Carly’s last name as “Meatball” before I actually read it more closely, but for someone who sounds like a gnome or halfling, this is a big problem. I wonder what will happen? Did the rogue kidnap the daughter with a sorcerer’s help? And what’s the message?
The next time I clicked it I read: “Aryylon of Meandrunk the smuggler has a big problem. It involves a teacher, a hammer and a defeat.” A big, mean smuggler has an issue with a teacher? Perhaps he wasn’t quite ready to enroll in those night classes in boat repair or anger management… either way the hammer might come in handy.
The third time, I read: “There is a small problem involving a half moon, a violet and a skeleton. Iloatin Leftbreeze the pirate will tell you all about it.” I’ll leave that to the pirate, but it sounds a bit like the plot for the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
You get the picture. Each of these presents an NPC with a name and description, a problem, and a list of interesting items and people. It’s up to you to figure out what to do with them, but I suspect each of the three above might offer some intriguing possibilities to flesh out into a small encounter or a full adventure. But there’s enough to get you started.
The Problem Mini-Gen is currently available as a free download at the Chaotic Shiny site, but I’d strongly encourage you to check out the many other resources Swordgleam has available. Some are available for free and others are available for purchase, but I bet you find at least one (probably many more) random tools there you have to try out yourself!
And if nothing else, you should see if a random horde of zombies will make your day better. It certainly cheered mine up, though now I’m watching over my shoulder hoping that none of them think I’m a meal!