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The Book of Random Tables: Wild West
by Kevin K. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/30/2020 18:12:40

Worthy buy...though there are a few anachronisms in the gun tables.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables: Wild West
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The Book of Random Tables 4
by Stephanie S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/08/2020 17:51:48

I use the Books of Random Tables for everything. Even if I don't use the specific thing I rolled, they're great for inspiration. A fantastic addition to the series!



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables 4
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The Book of Random Tables: Modern
by Thundermark P. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/28/2020 17:28:51

TL;DR: Usable, but glaring bits of laziness detract from what could have been a better product.

The Good: Straightforward to use, many useful d100 tables, very up-to-the-times "modern" (unlike many d20 Modern publications from the early 2000s that still have modems as a separate item), I like the mention of SpaceX.

The Bad: Generic, uninspiring, needless b&w pics of modern citiscapes under the section headers inflating filespace - Also, would it have killed the authors to alphabetize the lists for ease of reference?

The Ugly: I love me some random tables for procedurally-generated content - That said, the content populating said tables by definition needs to be one of variety. Sadly, this was not the case in much of this book, especially at the beginning -

The 1st table in the book is "Mission (adventure) hooks" - Many of these are quite detailed & interesting, such as

"62 - A bloodsoaked laptop found on a street in Bogota had fingerprints from a missing RAW (Research and Analysis Wing, India) agent on it - A DNA test on the blood hasn’t been done yet and the computer has a hard drive password."

And even ones you don't use directly as mission hooks can be "background news chatter" to flavor the world with.

Unfortunately, if you thought all of them would be an intriguing premise for your group's own Mission: impossible action-fest, you'd be sadly mistaken.

A full seven of the so-called "mission hooks" are literally "An [Agency] agent requested a meeting in [City].

20 - An ISI agent requested a meeting in Phnom Penh.

21 - A former CIA officer has requested a covert meeting in Addis Ababa.

24 - An NSA agent has requested a covert meeting in Reykjavík.

25 - 26 - A Mossad agent has requested a covert meeting Bangkok.

50 - A CIA agent requested a covert meeting in Miami.

51 - A CIA agent requested a covert meeting in Mexico City.

84 - An FBI agent requested a meeting in Denver.

Three missing submarines:

3 - The US Navy lost contact with a submarine in the Indian Ocean - A search is underway.

39 - A Russian submarine has gone rogue and was last known to be heading toward the American west coast.

69 - All contact was lost with a French submarine in the North Atlantic.

Eighteen disappearances:

5 - A film crew disappeared in Azerbaijan.

16 - A Belgian diplomat disappeared in Rio Janeiro.

17 - A Czech heiress disappeared while attending a polo match in Lisbon.

27 - A US computer scientist disappeared while on vacation in Spain.

30 - A corporate lawyer disappeared in Berlin.

31 - A journalist disappeared in Uzbekistan.

33 - The CEO of a tech startup with a US defense contract disappeared in Bali.

42 - A famed scholar disappeared in northern India.

60 - An American businesswoman disappeared in Beijing.

63 - A former KGB officer and defector living quietly in France disappeared on a trip to Paris.

66 - A Chinese scientist disappeared in Ulaanbaatar.

72 - A Jane’s consultant disappeared in Algiers.

79 - A plane carrying a US Senator disappeared over the Amazon.

82 - A Hungarian geneticist disappeared while attending a symposium in China.

85 - A humanitarian aid convoy has disappeared in South Sudan.

89 - A journalist working on a story about a Russian oligarch disappeared in Washington DC.

90 - A group of US thrillseekers disappeared along the Nepal-Chinese border.

96 - An FBI agent disappeared in San Diego.

Seven [Dude] wanted for [crime] is spotted in [place]

1 - A Russian oligarch wanted for murder was possibly sighted in London.

9 - An African warlord wanted for human rights crimes is believed to be on a yacht off the shore of Mauritania.

14 - A suspected terrorist bombmaker was spotted in Lagos.

22 - An African warlord wanted for war crimes was reportedly seen in Paris.

25 - An individual with terrorist ties was spotted on surveillance footage at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport - The FBI issued an arrest warrant.

29 - A drug cartel leader wanted for numerous crimes was spotted in Lima.

75 - A Russian mercenary wanted for crimes in the EU is believed to be hiding in Tashkent.

When I buy a book of random tables, I want the content written by a human w/ imagination, not someone lazily cranking out generic mission premises from one of the other "mission-generators" out there.

Moving on to "Random Encounters", this table is all over the place, from nation/world-shaking calamities to daily things so insignificant they wouldn't make the tiniest local paper - Aaand the laziness continues with having a specific, more interesting version of an encounter, & then a generic one to fill out the table b/c the author apparently ran out of ideas:

18 - Hostage situation at a bank

66 - Bank robbery

32 - Tourists stumble onto an armored car robbery

87 - Armored car robbery

14 - Woman in labor stuck in an elevator

88 - People stuck in an elevator

53 - Strangely dressed man yelling, “What year is this?”

79 - Confused man wandering the streets

And finally, we come to "Items in a Car", in which the laziness reaches an unbearable crescendo, after which it thankfully ceases (almost):

1 - Books (3)

3 - Book

20 - Book

44 - Book

4 - Quarters (3)

33 - Quarters (7)

12 - Nickels (78)

56 - Nickels (17)

25 - Dimes (12)

52 - Dimes (87)

63 - Medication

91 - Medication

66 - Ten dollar bills (3)

67 - Ten dollar bills (1)

70 - Pennies (167)

86 - Pennies (42)

As if the same item redundantly listed in different quantities wasn't bad enough (serious case of "not knowing your audience", as anyone who can roll a d100 will obviously have access to other dice & you could have easily written a dice-roll notation behind listing the item once, such as "Books (1d4)", the literal copy-paste of the same item over & over & pretending it's a "1d100 list" to sell to us is absolutely inexcusabe & whichever of the authors wrote this part should feel bad about it, re-write the lazy parts and issue an updated version at no cost to those of us who already purchase the book.

Oh yeah, and then when we get down to the "governement agencies" lists, whether or not the agencies have an abbreviation listed seems entirely arbitrary, as if the authors couldn't bother to take the 5 seconds to look up "Citizenship and Immigration Services" (USCIS) or "Office of the Director of National Intelligence" (ODNI) -



Rating:
[2 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables: Modern
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The King's Road: An Epic Fantasy RPG Campaign
by Ester R. B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2020 14:04:17

I love the setting and my players are loving the campaign. Thank you!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The King's Road: An Epic Fantasy RPG Campaign
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The No-Prep Gamemaster
by Michael J. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/05/2020 11:46:08

Basicallly I have never run a RPG session exactly as written. I have used published ones, but always cheat by changing it on the fly (nearly always in the players favor). My first RPG playing was nearly my last. A sadistic GM at a local con delighted in killing off my character in his very first move. So character death tends to be rare when I GM, replacing it with really bad injuries requiring them to go back home and heal up to try again, or having a new character show up for the player to continue playing. This booklet will help, especially new GM's, to keep more players happy.



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[4 of 5 Stars!]
The No-Prep Gamemaster
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The Book of Random Tables
by Adam T. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 04/16/2020 07:31:29

While the content might be great, it is impossible to work with the digital version at all because the provided PDF files are password locked. So, if you want to copy the content to print without the background, that is not an option. If you wanted to put the content into a data table so you can have an app randomly select from the list, that is not possible. If you wanted to put the data into a rollable table on Roll20, that is not an option. If you wanted to fix spelling/grammar mistakes, that is not an option... unless you want to go through the effort of retyping each and every word. After posting this review I will be looking for how to get a refund.



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[1 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables
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The Book of Random Tables: 1920s-1930s
by B5 H. !. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 03/04/2020 06:56:26

About to run my fist Call of Cthulhu game this weekend, and this tool is helping keep me confident despite knowing that my players will undoubtably do and loot everything I won't be expecting! Thanks!



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables: 1920s-1930s
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The Book of Random Tables: 1920s-1930s
by A customer [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/19/2020 10:31:59

All i wanted from this file to see price list for cars in mentioned time period. But all what I get just names of cars... Thank you for file correction. Now all looks awesome,



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Creator Reply:
I reworked the car table to include prices and updated the file.
The Book of Random Tables: Science Fiction 2
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2020 09:23:24

This is similar in style to the previous book of science fiction tables: a series of d100 tables with brief phrases or one-liners, no details or descriptions.

Laboratories: The Lab Experiments table is useful for tipping off the PCs that something interesting is in the works. It might also be odd, disturbing, or alarming in some way. Items in a Biology Lab and Items in a Chemical Lab both give you ways to roll up assorted stuff. I wouldn't roll up piles of stuff for every drawer, cabinet, or room the PCs open -- boring! Instead, I'd pick one or a few things that are prominent or noteworthy and that are signficant for moving the situation along.

Cargo & Trade Goods: Three d100 tables give you cargo contents; it's similar to Items in a Cargo Hold from the previous collection. As I noted above, I'd use this only to help pick out one or a few significant, noteworthy items, instead of rolling up every a complete cargo every time the PCs run into one. A few tables give you a name (but no description) for exotic cargo items: Fictional Trade Goods, Fictional Spices, Fictional Medications. The Cargo Weight table is useless for me; each entry is a number of metric tons -- meh. Think of your favorite science fiction movies, novels, and TV series; I'll guess that the precise cargo tonnage was never interesting or relevant.

Encounters & Adventure Ideas: The tables are Space Hazards, Asteroid Belt Encounters, and Adventure Ideas. These are good news if a brief phrase or a one-liner is enough for you to work with. You could use these to create hooks or challenges, in advance or during play. If you're looking for more detail or structure, you'll need another resource, in addition to or instead of these tables.

Reasons a PC is Absent: not relevant for me. For one thing, the table fills a niche that doesn't apply in our group, because we still bring characters along if a player is absent at the moment. I could have used this table for a player's extended absence, or for explaining why an NPC isn't currently available, except that the entries are generally silly, trivial, and/or short-term, such as "stuck in a lift" or "flash mob blocking the way."

Technobabble: The two Technobabble tables combine to give you entries like Temporal Osmosis or Cotyledon Omega. It's up to you to figure out what the results mean.

Alien Names: meh. You get 200 pregenerated names and an assumption that one table fits all aliens. There are plenty of apostrophes, if you like the overused trope that science fiction editors warn writers away from. I'd be more interested in a "generator generator" that helps you create a distinct name generator for each species you need.

100 Corporate Names, 300 Planet Names, 300 Ship Names: handy lists of pregenerated names.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables: Science Fiction 2
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The Book of Random Tables: Science Fiction
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 02/01/2020 08:29:59

You get 26 d100 tables. A few of them are effectively d200 tables, spread across two d100 tables.

The Encounters, Jobs, and Rumors section is good for brief ideas. You get short phrases, not details: Space Encounters, Planetary Exploration Encounters, Urban Encounters, Jobs, Rumors From the Spaceport Bar, and Spaceship Mechanical Problems. You might encounter a smuggler ship, hear about increased pirate activity, or have a fire in the engine room. If you prepare an adventure in advance, you could use these tables to come up with the initial hook and to create some challenges along the way. If you create meandering story threads during play, these tables could give you the tie-in to the next stage. If you use these tables for random encounters during play, prepare for improv. For example, an entry that says "Smuggler Ship" doesn't tell you anything about the ship, the crew, their current activities, or anything else. If that phrase is enough for you to work with, you're in luck.

Several tables in the Items & Things section seem to be an invitation to roll up piles of miscellaneous pointless stuff: Items in a Desk, Items in a Government Office, Computer Files, Items in a Warehouse, Items in a Cargo Hold. The introduction tells you not to roll those up until game time to avoid wasted preparation, but I consider it a waste to roll up irrelevant stuff during play. I prefer the Chekhov's Gun principle (playwright Anton Chekhov: "If in the first act you have hung a pistol on the wall, then in the following one it should be fired. Otherwise don't put it there."). Players are good at coming up with their own red herrings, so adding piles of random stuff slows down the session instead of keeping things interesting. Instead, I might roll up ONE item from one of these tables, in advance, and declare that it's somehow significant. I make it prominent or noteworthy. Maybe I won't decide how it's signficant until we're playing. Maybe I'll be flexible about where the PCs find it. Maybe I'll roll up three items and decide that they all hint in the same direction (see the Three Clue Rule from the Alexandrian blog). Or I'll roll up two things and decide they're relevant for two different story threads. In other words, these tables aren't useless to me, but I don't use them to crank out random assortments. Finding out how many batteries and spare cuff links are in a desk just isn't interesting ... unless they're signficant.

Some tables are good for putting a name to something when you don't want to settle for generic terms: 100 Space Stations, 100 Book Titles, 100 Drink Names, 100 Poisonous Plants, 200 Infectious Diseases, 100 Metals, and 200 Alloys. Those tables are just the names -- no descriptions. The two Code Tables are useless. Do I really need two d100 tables to pick code strings like Q29XF? Would anyone in a technologically advanced setting think that a five-character code string is useful?

The Stars & Planets section is helpful. Types of Stars and Types of Planets use real astronomical terms, but without any descriptions. Prepare to spend some quality time with Wikipedia to find out what Luminous Blue Variables and Mini-Neptunes are. The Civilization Levels table offers 19 levels from Stone Age to Interstellar Age (without description).

The Illegal Drugs table is the only table that offers any detail. It lists 100 fictitious drugs. The drug gets a street nickname (e.g. Dragon's Breath, Feather Shot), how it's taken, a qualitative description of intended effects and side effects, and a percent chance of becoming addicted. It's up to you to figure out what the effects mean in your game system.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The Book of Random Tables: Science Fiction
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The No-Prep Gamemaster
by Michael M. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 01/27/2020 13:28:03

This book contains good thoughts & principles for running a game as a "no-prep" GM. However, my criticisms are: one, there is still a decent amount of prep being introduced in the book (albeit with thought taken to make the prep minimal). Second, without any sort of random tables or actual content for your game, you have to turn to other sources to truly be a "no-prep gm".

Perhaps this book might be good for somebody who never thought of being a "no-prep gm" before and has no experience doing such a thing. The reality is, most GMs I know have run at least 1 campaign with no prep whatsoever, and most of the games go just fine. So, I really feel this book had good intentions, but fails in the application.



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[2 of 5 Stars!]
The No-Prep Gamemaster
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Forests
by Paul S. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 12/18/2019 10:15:32

lots of great flavor to add when you're describing a forest! im often at a loss to properly describe what my players are looking at and resources like this to keep in my dm binder are the perfect aid to jumpstart my imagination in coming up with a detailed description to bring the world alive



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[5 of 5 Stars!]
Forests
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The No-Prep Gamemaster
by Mark B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 10/18/2019 07:30:41

I love GMing RPGs but it's rare that I have enough time to sit down, read, absorb, and prep a module. And while I have some ideas for campaigns or adventures, pre-written modules are my go to since they involve less prep and everything is laid out. But lately I've been trying to look at some lighter rules systems and ideas on running RPGs with less prep. This book was an immense help. In fact, after reading through it, I gave it a shot: ran a one-shot, ZERO PREP rules light RPG at our game store's game day. We came up with a setting and using a bunch of tips in this book, I wove together and adventure that the folks at the table really enjoyed!

The author begins by sharing his own GMing experience, then moves into suggestions on how to fill your mind with story ideas, and finishes with advice on using random tables to get ideas and turn them into plots and stories on the fly. It's simple, but really good stuff. The best part is, a key theme is "Why does the GM have to do all the work?" By carefully listening to your players, they'll help you write the story as the adventures unfold. It's so obvious and yet clever.

If you'd like to venture into trying to run a game but you have no time, give this book a look and I think you'll find a ton of useful tidbits to make it happen!



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The No-Prep Gamemaster
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The No-Prep Gamemaster
by Rachel B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/18/2019 12:15:17

This book gives you permission to not plan a huge campaign, but rather to work with your players to create something enjoyable. It's an alternate way to play the GM, a way to take the stress off a position that a lot of people don't want to do because of that stress. It's short but full of good ideas. Well worth the price.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
The No-Prep Gamemaster
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 09/06/2019 08:00:50

My problem with this guide is that it's a one-sided presentation that repeatedly discusses the evils of GM prep and the joys of zero prep while glossing over the potential pitfalls of zero prep and how to avoid them. Besides, it's still asking you to do some prep.

Consider this core statement: "Random tables eliminate the need for session prep." They don't. For one thing, you need to come up with the tables in the first place. That's prep time even if you go looking for published tables, and if you spend any time reading them or thinking about them before you play. Also, do you know the Birthday Problem? It calculates the probability that no two people in a group have the same birthday. Do the math and it turns out that in a group of 23 or more people, two people sharing a birthday is more likely than no two people sharing a birthday. And birthdays are essentially a d365 table.

In a d100 table, which they seem to favor over at dicegeeks, that crossover point happens at the 12th roll. That is, by the time you've rolled 12 times against a d100 table, repetition of a previous roll is more likely than not. Ask yourself how often you'd roll on a given table. Multiple times per room that the PCs enter? Once per encounter? Once every 15 minutes of session time? Then figure out how long it'll take you to reach that 12th roll. That's when repetition gets likely. "You find another telescope" (or whatever you're rolling up randomly) gets less interesting with every repetition. Your fifth telescope doesn't mean you're having five times as much fun. If you can live with the repettion your d100 table would give you, great. If not, you've got a problem.

What's the fix to avoid repetition? "Roll again" isn't a good approach because you'll do it more and more as you use up a table. This wastes session time and can kill the flow of play. "Uh, hang on, we've done telescopes already. [Roll] And rusty swords. [Roll] Have we done sundials?" The fix is not to use the same table(s) over and over and over. Instead, use tables that reflect the different locales and environments in your setting. How do you do that? Prep time. Maybe you can find a variety of tables in books and online sources, or maybe you'll make up your own, but that's still prep time. It's not wasted time if it helps you and your players have fun, but it's still prep time.

The guide claims that if you prepare something the players never encounter, you've wasted your time. That doesn't have to be the case. Sure, it's a waste to roll up detailed room contents for a zillion rooms when the PCs will hit only an unpredictable fraction of them. I'd consider it a waste even if they visited every room, because "there are cobwebs, a table, and three wooden chairs" gets old pretty fast. Instead, focus on your process instead of making an unthinking series of dice rolls. If you have 10 minutes to prepare, roll up three things, and ponder how they might be related. Suppose you get a rusty sword, a goblin, and a rickety bridge across a chasm. What's special about this rusty sword? Why is it here instead of elsewhere? Is it lying around loose or is it hidden away? What's the goblin's interest in it? Why is the bridge here? What's on either side? Why is it rickety? What does the bridge have to do with the sword? You don't have to force your answers on the PCs, who might come up with their own ideas you can run with, but you've still done a useful warm-up exercise. You've primed yourself for improvising during the session.

The "zero" prep method in this guide isn't zero prep. It tells you to gather ideas, watch movies and TV shows, read books, listen to audiobooks, get familiar with story structure, search online for maps and pictures and whatnot, find a selection of random tables, and set up a laptop for use during play. That's all prep time, not zero prep.

"Use Combat to Stall" is potentially a bad idea. A combat should be exciting and interesting and relevant, not a time burner to cover up for a lack of preparation. Start the session 10 minutes later if you need a little prep time, instead of wasting an hour on a combat that serves no other purpose. Besides, if you're busy managing a combat, it'll be harder to come up with ideas. What happens when the players catch you off guard during play? Instead of deliberately stalling, use something from those extra 10 minutes you took, or make the players part of the solution instead of treating them like someone to be distracted while you come up with the answer. You can say, "You got me, so let's make something up."

There are three reasons to avoid or minimize prep time: 1) You just plain don't have the time. 2) You don't enjoy it. 3) It's not helping you during play. Instead of trying to eliminate prep time entirely, try to focus on the fun parts of session prep, and use it as preparation to improvise instead of just cranking out unnecessary detail. Focus on a few critical things that can help you during play (quality over quantity). A little time spent on good prep is much better than wasting session time with rerolling until you're happy or deliberate stalling. If you really want to avoid prep time altogether, use a GMless system, or let someone else be the GM. Otherwise, even a heavily improvised session involves preparing to improvise.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
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