I’ve been a user of Hexographer (produced by Inkwell Ideas) and other products for years, and am part of the kickstarter for the upcoming Worldographer upgrade. [This is the first kickstarter I’ve invested in.]
In the current newsletter they mentioned their Staff & Patron Generator for Taverns.
I love generators. Why? Because I can’t think up my own stuff???
Nope. Time and variation. When starting AD&D in college, I had a fair amount of time to create things, even with a college workload. Fast forward 35 years — family, job, and house keep me busy and limit my free time severely. Writing and publishing AD&D materials consumes a fair amount of that free time, so my time for creating adventure is even more limited.
So I use generators to produce NPC parties, descriptions of things, etc. It dramatically speeds up things that are time consuming and let’s me get on to creating other things that are more important to me. [Anyone who likes creating and stocking taverns might not have my same enthusiasm for this, so YMMV.]
Variation? I find that I tend to do things in set ways. Even when I vary things (according to my own ideas) over time I can see a pattern in my creations so I expect my players to see those patterns as well. It gives them a comfort zone … which is not conducive to fun play. That sense of the unknown, the unexpected, keeps long term players on their toes and more engaged.
Generators help with this as they do things I’d never do on my own. Plus it gives me yet more ideas and varies my patterns. All good stuff.
The Staff & Patron Generator allows me to set parameters on the bartenders, wait staff, and customers. If anyone is exceptional (classed) it provides basic class and equipment. Note that there are no stats and the classes are not AD&D classes … but that’s not a biggie. Easy enough to change “wizard” to “magic-user”. I’d like it to includes stats, but this generator is not game specific, so it would be impossible to maintain this breadth if NPC stats were added. Inkwell Ideas is generally game agnostic, and as much as I prefer AD&D specific tools, I agree with their generalization of their generators.
In addition there are generators for Floorplans, Rumors, and Menus.
Floorplans is really useful! I played with it, and the generator produces a variety of floorplans based upon user input. I’ll probably use this more than any of the other generators.
Rumors didn’t work like I expected — there’s no “submit” button so I had to reload the page to get a new list. I didn’t like everything in the list … which isn’t a problem — I rarely use generator results exactly as provided — I use the generated list as a start and customize it according my my own needs an desires. In my test I generated 3 lists and picked what I wanted from the three. I got what I needed in far less time than I would if I created my own rumors, and the list was more varied than I’d have done on my own.
Menus? I found this to be surprisingly useful. Like the other generators it provides local names that don’t match my campaign … but this is good (remember what I said above about consistency?) It provides new, local names for items. I can use those names to expand my campaign, or change them to something I like. I generated this list of drinks:
- Finnell (pale) Ale: 5cp
- Vodka: 8cp
- Askarus (heavy) Ale: 5cp
- Chanusian Wine: 7cp
- Shanshun Lager: 6cp
- Khellanic (dwarven) Ale: 9cp
- Dwarven Spirits: 9cp
Finnell, Askarus, and Shanshun are now local brewers in my campaign city, and Chanusia is a local vintner. I got double duty from this generator, and I’ve added 4 businesses to my list of local businesses the party might frequent.
Overall, this set of generators is another tool in my D&D toolbag, and is useful for any OSR game.