Situation generators

edited August 2012 in Story Games
What are your favorite situation generators in RPGs? How do they work? What emergent properties do they have that are not apparent at the time of reading but come out as you use them, and then play the scenario? What makes a good situation generator?

I am curious about what you guys like, and how you feel about these.


  • I like Adamant Games' pulp, superhero and military plot generators. They don't have emergent properties, they're too simple for that (ahem). I just run them like 6 times and pick the one I like best. They're basically brainstorming.

    Smallville's Pathways system does an amazing job of generating an initial situation. So does Dogs' Town Generation. The only emergent thing from there is that knowing what happens if the Dogs do nothing also helps you determine what happens if the Dogs do something.
  • I personally really love Technoir's situation generator. You randomly pull 3 nodes from a table of 36 characters, factions, events, locations, etc., and those form the basis of your plot. However, as players call in favours from NPCs during character generation, those NPCs become tied into the plot as well. And whenever, during play, a character hits up an NPC for more information, you roll in more nodes.

    You might not know all of the details of the situation to begin with, but as the game goes on and more nodes are added to the plot web, you begin to see the full picture.
  • I'll second DitV's town creation rules. And In A Wicked Age's oracles. They're pretty straightforward so I wouldn't tout any "emergent" benefits of it (although I'm sure somebody could argue some), just a whole bunch of dynamite hooks and the excellent advice of pointing them all at each other when you put four of them together.
  • edited August 2012
    Seconding In A Wicked Age. Each oracle is grabby on its own, and merging them together makes it unique and complex.

    I also really like the "court site" generator in Red Tide (the sandbox setting by the guy who wrote Stars Without Number). It creates a great tangled web of people with leverage on each other, dirty secrets, and motivations at cross purposes. I don't have it in front of me at the moment, but I'll do a better job of explaining why it's cool later.
  • Oracles are great, and wandering monster tables are too.
  • edited August 2012
    What are your favorite situation generators in RPGs?
    The players!
    How do they work?
    Excellent! They work to surprise the table each and every game-session. They strive to be true to the setting and the drama, as they see it. They broadens the drama in ways none of us could foresee, and deepens it by creating situations specific to their characters.
    What emergent properties do they have that are not apparent at the time of reading but come out as you use them, and then play the scenario?
    Well, as we sit down to play, we are ordinary people. But during play we go into some sort of mode that makes us identify with our characters, seeing the setting from their point of view, and when we do that we emerge as the perfect vehicles for the drama and the characters, and make the perfect situations for the table. These emergent properties are the closest my life will ever come to pure magic!
    What makes a good situation generator?
    An engaged player. It's the best!

    Hope this makes sense to you. Sorry if my answer was one you did not expect. It's my best answer to your questions. Have a nice day!

  • 1. Random power/mutation generators. They dump a bunch of not-necessarily-coherent stuff in your lap and you've gotta rationalize it. Fun! (for me, anyway)

    2. Career-based character creation and development. Say your Warhammer FRP guy wants to go from being a ratcatcher to a nobleman. That's a situation right there. Say your D&D fighter decides to pursue a new kit / paragon path. That's a situation generated right there.

    (Maybe it's better to say that's a situation prompt instead of a generator.)

    3. Stars Without Number has an evocative sector generation system and a lonely fun procedure for advancing factions between sessions. I've never used it for real but I know people have had oceans of fun with it.

    4. Dungeon World has some lists in its fronts section that could be table-ized into a situation generator.
  • RyRy
    edited August 2012
    One thing about In A Wicked Age: The Oracles by themselves aren't the situation generator. The situation generator is taking those Oracles and pointing Best Interests at each other.
  • I've found Leverage's tables useful, despite having yet to play Leverage itself.
  • Ry, I think that is probably the most important part of making the Oracles work as situation generators.
    I like Adamant Games' pulp, superhero and military plot generators.
    Never heard of these. I'll have to check them out.

    DitV, IAWA, AW. All are great. All happen to be DVB games. Technoir looks really great, but I haven't had a chance to see it in action to get a good idea of how it plays out.

    Thanks guys. Keep em coming.

  • FiascoPlaysets?
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