Of course, there is no substitute for human creativity. But if your creative juices need a nudge, or if you want to relieve some of the drudgery of making an adventure, there are online tools that can help you on your way. A couple weeks ago I blogged about random name generators. Well, there are other random generators out there for game masters to use, so embrace the chaos and get to clicking!
I am linking only to those that are online and Web based, so that you can use them for free without downloading software -- and with any operating system. Still, you might need a plug-in or a more recent browser, so your mileage may vary.
Among the niftier generators out there are character generators -- generally for non-player characters (NPCs) that populate the game world. Players don't need the help of a random generator, as they prefer to tailor their beloved characters by hand. For DMs, though, these can be real tiime savers, especially to create the multitudes of enemies that exist mostly to be defeated!
- Jamis Buck's NPC Generator 2 (D&D 3.5e) is one of the best NPC makers out there. Fast, comprehensive, and easy to use. Great for fast creation of random opponents. Feats and skills are chosen by the generator.
- Jesse Smith's Third Edition Dungeons and Dragons Character Generator falls between Jamis Buck's and The Pathology Guy's generators -- it is faster than the Guy's, but offers fewer options. It offers more options than Buck's (you can pick feats and skills), but it is not as easy to use, and I like Buck's output options.
- Glenn Butcher's Character Cafe is speedy but very limited in options.
- Johan Danforth's NPC Generator is older and designed for AD&D, so you may or may not find it useful.
You can also use online engines to create character art -- here are two portrait generators I came across.
- The Hero Machine Is more aimed at comic book heroes, but has a fantasy character component. You have to buy and download the full version for some features.
- Christopher Doyle's Mini-Mizer lets you visualize your characters as Lego People! I used it to make this wemic (although I had to resort to Photoshop for the hind-parts)!
For more useful art creation, there are lots of different map generators out there. A few of my favorites include:
- Irony Games offers a large set of pre-generated maps for taverns, villages, cities, dungeons, and more.
- Jamis Buck also has an excellent Dungeon Generator.
- Another good one, similar to Buck's, is Demonweb's random dungeon generator.
- John Olsson's Fractal Worldmap Generator is great for large islands, continents, and worlds. Make sure you scroll all the way to the bottom of the page.
- Johan Danforth's Fantasy Village Generator does not create sophisticated graphics, but it is cute.
- PlanetADnD has an interesting collection of D&D maps, but they are not randomly generated.
If you need help with loot, here are a few treasure and item generators that may prove useful:
And the most basic of online tools, dice rollers! There are so many of these, I'll just offer a selection:
Edit [11 March 05]: I found a nifty alphabet generator that makes for sweet cutom alphabets in roleplay games. Enjoy!