Gamebook Diaries - Tables to Simulate the World and Carousing
Solo RPGs Gamebooks Open-world Gamebooks

Gamebook Diaries - Tables to Simulate the World and Carousing

Duncan Thomson

Continuing from first Gamebook Diary with more on using random tables in gamebooks.

Random Tables

As you might tell from this being a blog about random tables and tools, I'm a fan of random tables. They are useful in roleplaying games for simulating parts of the world, choosing from many results, making the life of the gamemaster easier and character creation.

They've been used in gamebooks for a few things, from Wandering Monsters in the maze of Warlock of Firetop Mountain, to seeing how your investments do in Fabled Lands.

The open-world gamebooks of Steam Highwayman uses random tables for rumours, ambushes (who comes along), encounters and strongbox treasures.

Why to Use More Tables

Part of the appeal of roleplaying games for me is not knowing what's going to happen. This is still there in Gamebooks, at least the first time you play through. But once a few of the locations and scripts are known, a lot of this is lost.

But using random tables for some parts of a gamebook adds a lot to replayability. Paying attention to not let it take over and make the experience into a random mess.

In a gamebook there is also a limit to the number of passages you can include and text you want to have. Using random tables can help increase the scope of what can be done in the gamebook, without increasing the number of passages too much.

Tables for My Gamebooks

I'm planning on using random tables to simulate some parts of the setting (encounters, weather), give many options for others (treasure, picked pockets) and character creation.

Some tables will be best as linear, such as a 1d6, with equal chances of all results. And others as a bell/curve, such as 2d6 (2-12), with some results being more common than others.

I'm considering...

  • Character Generation (as an alternative to just choosing / quick start option)
  • Area Encounters
  • Carousing Table
  • Treasure Tables
  • Random Magic Items
  • Other loot tables
  • Pocket Picking
  • Random Locations
  • Rumours
  • Weather

Carousing Table

Here's an example of a prototype carousing table, where you've paid a certain amount for a time of having a good time (4 shillings for example), then rolling to see what happens...

2d6Carousing Table
2 You wake up in a cell, with hazy recollections of the night before. Turn to 205
3 You wake up remembering a promise to help someone! Gain the first of these codes you don't already have - awkward, nested, westerly, ambrose.
4 You wake up with a pretty scarf, a thankyou note and a silver ring
5 You've misplaced something! Either lose an item at random or two of your choice.
6 You meet someone interesting on your adventure. Turn to 588 to find out who
7 That was more carousing than you intended. Lose 1d6 Shillings. If you don't have enough to pay then gain code watched
8 Everything seemed to go right for you! +1 LUCK
9 You made a new friend who joins you on your adventures as a Companion. Turn to 133 to find out who they are.
10 You get into some trouble! Test PROWESS.
MISS: You have been Wounded
PARTIAL: You have been Bruised. Then roll again to see what happened later on, ignoring this result
SUCCESS: You emerged unscathed with 1 shilling for your trouble. Then roll again to see what happened later on, ignoring this result
11 You wake up with a hangover somewhere unexpected. You also have an unexplained gnome statue. Turn to 111 to find out where you are...
12 You wake up with a painful new strange marking. Gain code initiated

Finishing Up

Hoping to share more tables in the future, especially the optional ones for character creation!