My Kingdom for a Random Item!

Last week Johnn Four asked around for anyone with a few ideas or resources on how to create some interesting random items. And funny enough, I thought at some point I actually had such an idea buried. (My notebooks are full of ideas I haven’t fully explored yet.) So I sent him a brief PDF that had some ideas in it.

Here I want to detail a bit of the process I suggested. It’s similar to what I did with Brick by Brick: Doors, but a bit more streamlined. (Want to win a $5 gift certificate to DTRPG? See the last paragraph for how!)

It boils down (this version anyway) to a collection of 10 D6s…

Item -> Age -> Purpose -> Maker -> Size -> Material -> Owner -> Condition -> Mender

  • Abstract Dice Image

    Abstract Dice Image – from Clipart.com

    Item (d6) – 1 = Weapon, 2 = Ornament/jewelry, 3 = Book, 4 = Tool, 5 = Armor, 6 = Magic

  • Age (d6) – 1 = New, 2 = Few years old, 3 = Decades old, 4 = Centuries old, 5 = Eons old, 6 = Ageless
  • Purpose (d6) – 1 = Gift, 2 = Self, 3 = Practical, 4 = Art, 5 = Durability, 6 = Ornamental
  • Maker (d6) – 1 = Artist, 2 = Craftsman, 3 = Unskilled, 4 = Slave, 5 = Soldier, 6 = Magic
  • Size (d6) – 1 = Tiny, 2 = Small, 3 = Medium, 4 = Large, 5 = Huge, 6 = Gigantic
  • Material (d6) – 1 = Wood, 2 = Metal, 3 = Stone, 4 = Glass, 5 = Gems, 6 = Hide
  • Owner (d6/d6) – 1-2 = One owner, 3-4 = Two owners, 5-6 = Three owners; Description –
    1 = Child, 2 = Grandchild, 3 = Adult, 4 = Parent, 5 = Thief, 6 = For sale
  • Condition (d6) – 1 = Broken, 2 = Perfect, 3 = Rusted, 4 = Burned, 5 = Stained, 6 = Melted
  • Mender (d6) – same as Maker

So if we walk through an example, I might get:

  • Item = Weapon
  • Age = Ageless
  • Purpose = Gift
  • Maker = Craftsman
  • Size = Large
  • Materials = Hide
  • Owner (#/Description) = 2 owners/Thief & Parent (roll a d6, get the # of owners; roll once on the table for each)
  • Condition = Burned
  • Mender = Unskilled

And that might lead to this new item for sale at Hand’s Goods

WhipThe Thunder Whip of Mosam has found its way onto the shelves of Hand’s Goods and Mr. Hand is happy to tell you the story… Nearly a century ago, Dron Mosam was known across the lands for his amazing leather work. Dron could take the most average hides, treat them with whatever magic he used to keep it supple and strong, and make them into fantastic armor, saps, and whips that seem to last forever. There were rumors that he was using ancient techniques that predated even that era by a thousand years or more, but nobody could prove it and his secrets are still lost to time.

Mosam was known to own a special whip, 18 feet long, that could create thunder on a cloudless day. He never claimed to be its maker, but it hardly ever left his side. But near the end of his life, he gave the weapon to his daughter – Ess. But an enterprising thief, Dynan Faile, somehow slipped into her home and relieved her of a few of her father’s prized possessions soon after his death. The thief was never caught. That was more than half a century ago and the weapon was thought lost to time.

But what should show up in Hand’s establishment, but this weapon of legend! Unfortunately, it has not weathered the years since leaving Mosam’s side. At some point it must have been in a fire, which left several coils damaged. What’s worse is that it was “fixed” by someone with very little skill and found the cheapest leather they could find. It may still generate the thunder of old, but without some skilled repairs it won’t be much good to any purchaser for long.

Hand will happily sell you the weapon at a discount and direct you to one of three well-known leather workers of good repute…

Think this is an interesting idea to explore? Leave me a comment and we’ll see about elaborating a bit and turning into a product!

If you feel up to the challenge, why not use this approach to create an item and submit it as a comment below! I’ll send a $5 gift certificate to DTRPG to whoever creates my favorite! I’ll leave this open for two weeks – through July 14 – and I’ll pick a winner on July 15!

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This article has 11 comments

  1. Arlene Reply

    I like it. The tables are general enough to encourage imagination without limiting it.

    Example: book, ageless, ornamental, unskilled, tiny, stone, 3 owners (child, sold, thief), rusted and unskilled

    Roughly carved, Index is a small green and blue stone book, about the size of large acorn. Rust marks indicate it was set in metal but the settings have dissolved. A rough attempt has been made to buff off those marks, unsuccessfully.

    10 Fingers Li is no longer able to reveal where he found the remarkable item as he was finally caught and executed for his crimes. Index was sold as part of a lot of unclaimed jewelry at auction by the City Council. Jeweler Abri gave it to his daughter to play at being a jeweller herself. She was the one who discovered its properties.

    Once it is affixed to any container, Index opens and becomes a list of the contents within. It is briefly displayed in an unknown script before changing to the reader’s native tongue.

    Several parties are interested in Index, both for its useful properties and its potential origin.

    • Fitz

      @Arlene – That’s fantastic. I’m glad you’re getting use out of the approach. It’s the same approach I use pretty much everywhere – for Insta-NPCs, Little Spaces, Open Spaces, etc. 🙂

  2. Fitz Reply

    Congratulations Arlene on winning the $5 gift certificate. I just fired it off to you via DriveThruRPG, so please let me know if you get the thing. 🙂

    Thanks for contributing your items – they’re both awesome!

    • Arlene

      Want to know something funny? I’ve done more.

    • Fitz

      @Arlene – Awesome! I would love to see what you’ve done. Do you like this as an approach? I want to develop it into a new product line. 🙂

  3. Arlene Reply

    This ornately carved chest is being sold by Drekaln. His grandfather, a slave, made the original carved panels. The panels are actually made to be read, like the pages of a book. However, although repaired with great skill by Drekaln’s mother, the famed carver, it would take time to decipher which order to read the panels.

    The obstacle is the carvings are said to change; they reflect whatever secret passages and rooms are in the area around the chest. The chest is large enough to hold a small person with some room, or a cramped larger person.

    • Fitz

      Quite an interesting item!

      Do you have the combination of details you used to generate this one and the other? I’m just curious what terms formed the inspiration.

    • Arlene

      The burnisher was
      Item: Tool
      Age: a Few Years
      Purpose: Art
      Maker: Magic
      Size: Small
      Material: Hide
      Owner: 3 owners, parent, for sale, thief
      Condition: Melted
      Mender: Slave

      The chest was
      Item: Book
      Age: Decades old
      Purpose: Self
      Maker: Slave
      Size: Large
      Material: Wood
      Owner: 3 owners, Parent, for sale, Parent
      Condition: Broken
      Mender: Artist

      Putting together “broken” “Wood” “Book” was an interesting challenge. As was “Melted” and “Hide”.

    • Fitz

      I find that some of the more interesting ideas come from those seemingly unrelated terms. The brain seems to take them and fire all sorts of strange paths to make them connect. And it’s that kind of random firing neuron activity that can be all sorts of fun. 🙂 Great work!

  4. Arlene Reply

    A burnisher from the famed atelier of Mee-Kyong Stonepalm has made its way to the market. Originally purchased by Stonepalm’s mother, this metal hide has a rough surface she found ideal for final polishing buff on her stone sculptures.

    It even had a rough protuberance that fit the artist’s hand perfectly. The oval tool smooths and shines any stone surface it is run over. A second pass buffs the stone to a mirror shine.

    When her luggage was stolen during her trip to Duke Bon-Hwa’s estate, this burnisher was among the items taken. In the short time since it disappeared from her possession, it has been exposed to great heat and partially melted. It now has a make-shift wood handle, poorly crafted and not very well attached, using the cheapest wood and meanest materials.

    Perhaps, if it were repaired properly, Artist Stonepalm would reward the one who returns it.

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