I have been scribbling side-quests on scraps of paper for years. I never liked the ones suggested in the manuals because they didn’t fit the atmosphere of my campaigns, which is something like a Monty Python skit with a surplus of gnomes. When I started my app (Tartle RPG Tool) for generating quick, random content for my game sessions I had eighty quests ready to go. Now there are almost three hundred. If you sit down and write out three hundred one-liner quests, trust me on this, you will quickly use up the traditional. At around one hundred and fifty your adventures are going to be strange. Real strange.

The most surprising thing that happened in the writing was that a bizarre world coalesced from the quests. Groups of people and lands began to represent different aspects of what I considered evil. For instance, to the south is a jungle region ruled by lizardmen that represent the most evil of all evils… Bureaucracy. And north east are the fish people, the most base of all religious zealots. Even the townsfolk began to represent the worst of human psychology, all of them too afraid to dissent with authority and cultural norms to make rational decisions. All in all, the world that came out of the adventures is far richer than any I could have planned in one sitting with a directed story line.

Here is a selection of 12 of my favorites:

1) “A brothel lies on the outskirts of town staffed by halfling women. At night they turn into wereboar. One of them beckons the party to enter for a night of rip snorting fun.”

2) “A female villager suspects her husband of having an affair. She doesn’t know who the other woman is but offers a large sum of money to the party pleading for them to hunt the woman down and murder her as a lesson to her husband.”

3) “A butcher shop in town has begun serving troll meat which is produced in an alarming, never-ending rate. Something seems off.”

4) “A gnome has set up shop in town selling pickled meats, but nobody knows what the meats are from. People aren’t willing to eat them. The gnome needs help marketing his merchandise.”

5) “The town mayor is discovered to be an unintelligent lizardman, but nobody has the guts to say anything about it.”

6) “Mass confusion ensues when a sorcerer’s magic turns all the town’s doors into portals leading to other doors in town.”

7) “The famous knight Sir Kettle is discovered to be nothing more than an animated suit of armor filled with corn kernels. What shall be his fate?”

8) “The toad people of Frog Fern Wood have sent an emissary to educate the village of their blatant misnomer for his people’s lands and kind. But after being introduced as “Mr. Fancy Frog”, relations seem worse-not better.”

9) “The lizardman king Sligsish has sent an official scroll into town stating that humans have been declared “safe for eating”. Will the townsfolk succumb to cannibalism?”

10) “After a botched teleport spell, Arthur Gold has fused himself with a house fly and is now buzzing around town and touching picnic food. He was a nice fellow, but somebody needs to put a stop to this.”

11) “Winter is coming and with it blows in the plague of gnawing. The snow marmots, deranged mammals driven mad with hunger by the ice, emerge from their burrows. Their sniffing noses seek warm blood.”

12) “The sought after daughter of Duke Butterman is discovered to be a half-elf actor of impeccable skill. Really, no one is even mad about this. But what happened to the real daughter?”

About The Author

The Tartle Wizard
Contributor

The Tartle Wizard is an indie developer and necromancer on quest to create cool stuff. Most notably he is the developer behind the Tartle RPG Tool which is a utility app for randomly generating content for fantasy themed campaigns. He is a long time lover of tabletop games and prefers playing chaotic evil gnomes.

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4 Responses

  1. hellahexi

    I’m not as gnome-y or slapstick, but I think you’re on to something with the idea that a world can be an emergent thing just from writing and rolling on random tables. I write lots of random tables also, and when I started, I had no desire to create a world from scratch, but the more I write the more things connect together and create a coherent setting–without even trying. It’s super neat.

    Reply
    • The Tartle Wizard
      The Tartle Wizard

      That was my exact experience! I never intended for things to be connected. It just happened.
      I think it is a secret many writers learn, that the more writing you do the richer the world becomes.

      Reply
      • Ish Stabosz
        Ish Stabosz

        I’ve noticed this too, though not by using random tables. As a GM, I loathe world-building. I know some people get all into populating towns, cities, and kingdoms, but I just want to get to the adventure.

        So I often adopt an approach where I start with the map. As I sketch the mountains, the forests, th desserts, etc., I get inspired with the adventures that could happen there. And that leads to thinking about the denizens at the heart of the adventure and the people who need the heroes.

  2. 1freethinkr

    There be some true gems here both in the words of the way and the writin’s afterwards.

    Reply

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