Functional Entries in Random Tables | more scope but comes with more user load

Recently I been thinking about functional entries in random tables.

In my ‘In the Heart of Oz’ (a system neutral) sandbox, based in the land of Oz, I wanted to add some random tables but wanted these to “work hard” for the limited space available.

So, I wondered about replacing single entry random tables with functional entry random tables. For example instead of ‘sword’ you use ‘bladed weapon’ and let the user decide if it is a sword or an axe or a ‘bec de corbin’. 

This is a pretty trite example but of course you can take this further (see below).

I’m sure this idea/concept has happened in the past, but when I have done this (at least), it’s been more an unconscious design choice rather than a conscious design choice. I’d like to hold this idea up as a conscious design choice for the DM’s toolbox.

Benefit – gives a much bigger spectrum of outcomes

Downside – require the user to bring more of themselves to the table (which might be the very thing they are trying to avoid by using random tables!). 

Some might like the idea, but might displease others … I’m not the RPG police so please feel free to ignore this idea. 

– – – 

To see something I’m tinkering with this idea – Link:

The idea is to do this on the fly (or pre-prepare some), but also source the table – throw this at players – Tell me what item you find based on these 3 constraints … etc

Below is an text only extract from the above linked PDF: 

Random Creature Builder

Roll once on each of the two tables below:

Base Creature

1                 Apex predator

2                 Large herbivore or domestic animal

3                 Monkey, ape or lemur

4                 Rodent or marsupial

5                 Amphibian or reptile

6                 Bird or dinosaur

7                 Insect or arachnid

8                 Crustacean or echinoderm

9                 Gastropod or cephalopod

10              Human(oid) – or you decide

Creatures are normally at least man-sized


1                 Roll on table above – hybrid of both e.g. a Human(oid)-crustacean

2                 Unusual locomotion: Fly, hover, burrow, crawl, creep, jump etc.

3                 Oversized/mutantous body part or extra parts – limbs, mouth, eyes etc.

4                 Unusual sized e.g. giant, long etc.

5                 Exotic colouring or display

6                 Made of artificial material

7                 Mushroom, vegetable creature, or made of natural material

8                 Roll on ‘Terrain descriptor’ table 

9                 Roll on this table twice – has both

10              Roll again on this and on the below table 


1                 Offensive: looks, smell, charisma etc

2                 Insubstantial: ghostly, ethereal etc.

3                 Resembles man-made object, can mimic things, or is a doppelganger

4                 Spits fire, acid, ice, stones, spines, bile, eels, buttons, rainbows etc.

5                 Unusual strength or speed

6                 Contradictory property of a typical creature of the ‘Base’ creature class

7                 Teleport locally, or is transparent

8                 Ability to petrify – gaze, touch etc.

9                 Ability to cast magic or illusions

10              Roll on this table again – has both

– – – 

More info: 

In the Heart of (the Land of the Wizard of) Oz is a system-neutral procedural sandbox setting which draws inspiration from the books of L. Frank Baum and with artwork by the wonderful Nate Treme (Highland Paranormal Society)

In the Heart of Oz contains procedural Encounter, Terrain and Weather Engines for Wilderness Hex Crawling across the fairy-tale like land of Oz. There is also a procedural ‘dungeon’ to take on the Wicked Witch of the West in her Yellow Castle.

Preview image

Capture - WoOZ

Hex Flowers … what?
A Hex Flower is a bit like a random table, but with an inbuilt ‘memory’ (because the last turn affects the next outcome). Each time you enter a new HEX, you procedurally determine what is going on. 

Hex Flower procedural products you might be interested in
:: In the Heart of the Unknown –  procedural wilderness (Hex) exploration
:: In the Heart of the Sea – procedural High Seas exploration
:: In the Heart of the Delve & Dangerous  – procedural ‘dungeon’ exploration
:: Carapace – adventure exploring a giant insect colony
:: Planar Compass 2 – procedurally explore the Astral Sea 

More on Hex Flower Theory
You can read more about Hex Flower Game Engines in my Hex Flower Cookbook

and on my Blog:

This document can be conveniently printed using the ‘booklet’ option on printers that can print on both sides of the paper. Folding gives an A5 booklet.

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