Monthly Archives: May 2022

Monster Doodles | 1988 Dungeon

Some Monster Doodles

These monsters all appear in my ‘1988 Dungeon’ as encounters:

I know these are just doodles, but should I update the PDF to include these pictures (I figure some pictures are better than no images)?

Images updated to remove backgrounds:

Original photos: 

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Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Ramp, Flat Ramp, Hill & Lone Mountain Type Random Table Formats

I saw this post by the well-known blogger, podcaster and RPG great Judd Karlman.

It had a table type I had not seen (or at least noticed) before, a D6 (well D3 really) x 2D6 table (reproduced below with Judd’s permission – see link above to see more):

Judd Table

This table is like three 2D6 tables next to each other, so instead of being a peak (‘bell’) curve with a 2D6 probability structure, it sort of has a “ramp-like” probability structure:

1. Ramp Type; Dx × 2Dy (in this case D3 × 2D6)

1a Ramp Table1b Ramp Table chart

This led me to think about related formats:

2. Flat-Topped Ramp Type; Dx × Dy+Dz (replacing the 2D6 with D4+D8 to flatten the ‘peak’ out):

2a Flat Topped Ramp Table2b Flat Topped Ramp Table Chart

3. Lonely-Mountain Type; 2Dx × 2Dy (in this case 2D6 on one axis and 2D6 on the other):

3a Lonely Mountain Chart3b Lonely Mountain Table Chart

4. Rounded Hill Type; 3Dx × 3Dy (in this case 3D6 on one axis and 3D6 on the other):

4a Hill Table4b Hill Table Chart

There are lots of ways these random table formats could be used, but of course it can be seen with the last two examples, even with just D6s the number of outcomes increase massively, and the edges will be very rare (in the Rounded Hill example a centre roll is 729 times more likely than a ‘corner’ roll and you have (theoretically) 256 possible options. But of course, you can band the results together a bit like Judd did with their example to reduce the outcomes. So, with reference to the heat map you could have 3 or so zones (red, white and blue etc.) equating to probable, rare and very rare outcomes etc.

Not got much more to say, just putting this out there as a possible tool, and I’m sure I’m not the first to think of these other examples, but I’ll post anyway!!


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Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Quantum Ogre meet Schrödinger’s Troglodyte | Chekhov’s Gun – adventure design vs play

I recently read about Chekhov’s Gun. Here’s what the web had to say about it:

“Chekhov’s gun is a dramatic principle that states that every element in a story must be necessary, and irrelevant elements should be removed. Elements should not appear to make “false promises” by never coming into play.”

It made me wonder: does Chekhov’s Gun have a place in RPG adventure design?

My answer is: Yes, but mainly no-ish (helpful!).

LT:DR ~ The key difference here is that a traditional story is fixed, whereas an RPG session is not.

Planned adventure

A planned adventure normally has a framework from where a story can collaboratively emerge. This framework should include things (dare I say ‘Chekhov’s Guns’) the DM hopes/expects the players to interact with. The ‘guns’ might be NPCs, monsters, magic item, weird stuff, traps etc.

However, an RPG session is not a fixed story (railroading, story arcs and Quantum Ogres aside). An RPG session is more like a sporting event, where nobody, not even the referee, knows the final result until the game is played.

It is a well-known cliché that the players will miss/ignore ‘important’ NPCs or plot hooks and obsess over what appears to be a trivial detail (e.g. a captive goblin becomes an important and loved NPC rather than simply more dungeon XP fodder; and the DM did not plan for this). In the end, the DM might not expect or like the story the players ‘write’ within the DM’s framework, but nonetheless it is the emergent ‘story’. Similarly, another cliché is the DM stealing players’ table speculations and fears, making those speculations the new reality e.g. a player wonders if the sword contains the essence of the disgraced paladin? Yes, yes, it does now! 

So, the DM can plan ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ in their adventure, but it is only through play that these becomes real.

Erhm … the blog title said something about a Quantum Ogre vs Schrödinger’s Troglodyte. Here goes:

Schrödinger’s Troglodyte

Quantum Ogre (sort of) meets Schrödinger’s Troglodyte

In essence, the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment can be used to describe every (non-scripted) RPG session ever played.

As a recap, in the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment there is a cat in a box, the cat could be alive or it could be dead. It is only when we look in the box we discover if the cat is alive or dead. So, before we look in the box, the cat has the property of being both alive and dead.

A planned RPG adventure is just like the Schrödinger’s cat experiment, where the box is the adventure. Before the players interact with the adventure (the box) everything planned by the DM is not fixed.  It is only after the players interact with the adventure (the box) does anything become real and so fixed.

So, if the players explored 15 rooms of a 20-room dungeon, skipped the boss troglodyte room, leave and never return, then for now, only those 15 rooms are real. Dare I suggest that only the things the PCs interacted in those 15 rooms are the Chekhov’s Guns (from the story POV) and everything else including the boss troglodyte might as well not exits (from the story POV). At best those things the PCs missed exist in a Schrödinger’s Cat-like state of not quite existing.

The Quantum Ogre is the anthesis of the Schrödinger’s Troglodyte, because the ogre comes into existence regardless of the players’ interaction, and so deprives the players of the ‘game’. Not only is the Ogre in the box, it will also climb out and find you! Fixed story arcs and railroad adventures are no more than a Quantum Ogre in plot form. Fixed ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ are also no more than Quantum Ogres.  

So, in RPG adventure design nothing really exists in the RPG world until the players interact with it, in emergent play the players (predominately) decide what is important and hence what the ‘Chekhov’s Guns’ are. Other things in effect fade into obscurity (unless revived by the DM later in a later session) and so are not really ‘false promises’. In adventure design, perhaps the best policy is to create lots of interesting situations and let the players figure out what is important to them and roll with it; embrace the uncertain existence of Schrödinger’s Troglodyte and shun the (perhaps misnamed) Quantum (tunnelling?) Ogre.

Nothing is dogma – Quantum Ogres can have a place (but hopefully only exceptionally).

To conclude, I suspect I’ve told you nothing new, but that said, until you read this post you existed in a state of both knowing and not knowing that.


(PS don’t argue with me, I have PhD in particle physics <– not true)

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Me on DriveThruRPG

DxDy dice mechanic | … e.g. D4D6

Math(s) warning: If you are a mathematician the words I use below may well be formally inaccurate, sorry!

Trad-game warning: I can imagine that rolling a die to see how many dice you roll will be an unwelcome idea in some circles – it’s OK, I’m not the D&D police, please feel free to ignore this idea.

I stumbled onto this recently (it may be well known to others) and hopefully I’m not just inadvertently regurgitating something I’ve read elsewhere.

If for example you roll D6D6s (i.e. you roll a D6 to see how many D6s you are going to roll and sum) you get a weird probability profile that has a weird leading spike:

triceratops in profile 3

For some strange reason it reminds me of a sleeping triceratops

It certainly looks nothing like a standard 6D6 roll (flatter and pushed leftwards as well as having the leading spike):

triceratops in profile 3a

The ‘at least’ number is almost linear for most of the graph as compared to 6D6:

triceratops in profile 3b

Here’s the idea again, but where some other combinations have been done (again weird leading spike):

triceratops in profile 1

Here’s a mismatched pair  D4D10 and D10D4 (spike more pronounced when fewer dice are in the mix – perhaps not too unexpected):

triceratops in profile 2

Application in gaming?  I’ve got nothing! But …  perhaps one day it might find a place!

You’d need a probability structure that runs from 1 to the end number, has a leading spike, a flattish mid-section and then tails off as you approach the highest numbers.

OK – with that in mind and shooting from the hip here as I’m typing this up – a new way to roll stats (where we invert the thing to favour high not low numbers):

triceratops in profile 3c

So compared to 4D6 drop the lowest, 19-D2D8 is more likely to give 17s and 18s.

Here it is again but vs 3D6:

triceratops in profile 3e

Here’s also 19-D3D5 (no 3’s and the chance of a 14 to 18 is much higher than 4D6 drop the lowest):

triceratops in profile 3d

I guess I’m not seriously advancing this as a replacement mechanic for rolling stats, but that said, statistically it’s not completely ludicrous (unless I’ve made a mistake) …

Perhaps you can think of a better use case?
No? OK, not to worry!


– – –

Me on DriveThru; at the moment I’m mainly pimping my procedural:
:: High Seas ‘Hex Crawl’ – In the Heart of the Sea,
:: Wilderness Hex Crawl – In the Heart of the Unknown,
:: Dungeon/network generator – In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous

Portuguese Translation – Hex Flower Cookbook

I’m extremely grateful to Tito B.A. for translating my ‘Hex Flower Cookbook’ (Manual do “Hex Flower”) into Portuguese and so making it more accessible to more gamers!


Thank you Tito!!

Please check out Tito’s blog ( and their DriveThruRPG page (  Tito is arguably best known for his excellent ‘Sacrebleu!’ island setting with goblins equipped with WW1 weaponry as reviewed on the Fear of a Black Dragon Podcast!

Background – what’s a Hex Flower anywho? A Hex Flower (HF) is like a random table, but with a memory.

image_preview Hex Flower Cookbook – where I discuss Hex Flower Game Engines and some background and possible uses

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Me on DriveThruRPG