Out of Character – The Seven Sentence Method


(Follow the link above for the OP. The contents after the jump are not owned by me.)

I found this page through a post on reddit (shoutouts to r/RPG ) and was surprised by the simplicity of this method for generating NPC’s. While it is a bit more time consuming than rolling on the random NPC tables in 5th Edition’s DMG its also more thorough. My first attempt at using this method was about a week ago in my pursuit of more fun-for-the-DM NPC’s. By that I mean a tavern owner that says more than “Cheers! Also, there’s an evil hag in the woods!” or a bandit that doesn’t just want the party’s loot because that’s what a bandit does. I like my bandit lords to at least have fun voices or quirks that not only make the game more like a game for my players, but that also keep myself interested so I don’t give them a rust monster to fight out of sheer boredom. I set out to prevent the weary DM driven disintegration of my party’s favorite killing tools and read through the Character Creation page in the link above. The sentences are pretty self explanatory in terms of content and the OP does a great job of expounding on what exactly is needed i each sentence. For example, here’s an NPC’s blurb using this method

Myridda, Sister of the Church of Praecar; She does laundry and cleaning duties for the Knights of the Scale and the church grounds; at one time she was a practiced hunter. Myridda is an adolescent Human plain in looks and dresses down even by the Sisters’ standards wearing her frizzy corn-yellow hair down sometimes covering her piercing green eyes. She has high DEX and WIS for a commoner and is proficient with shortbows, but she is physically very weak. Myridda lives to serve her god, Praecar, and would do anything for the church (taking after her mother, a former Sister of the church). Myridda talks quietly in a sweet but almost inaudible mumble. Myridda is well-versed in Praecar’s religion and knows intimate details about most residents of the church in Mosa. She may look like every other Sister in ceremonial garb, but she always smells intensely of sweet wildflowers and sometimes leaves them in unexpected places.

As a DM, having something like the paragraph above written on an index card or a Google Doc makes it easy for me to give the players a point of contact for the Church of Praecar in Mosa that isn’t just a quest-giver or information in a meat suit; Myrrida is an NPC that the players might think about while they are adventuring and wonder hmm, maybe I should bring back some of this wildflower I haven’t seen before and see of she likes it. Also, if some catastrophic event happens, like for example a raging Storm Giant stomping around the city, the players might want to reduce collateral damage because there are probably more kind and unique people just like Myrrida in every building. This can make encounters in that area into something more than just killing the monster and adds some tension to the game where otherwise the players might just see walking experience points.

I’m thinking I may try and hone this method a bit to get more concise blurbs or put them in a list or table format so I can reference them more easily (I love me some bulleted lists). I think my ultimate goal would be to have a list of generic sentences for each of the seven that I could randomly roll for less important NPC’s. If that turns out to be anything I’ll be sure to do another post on the topic! As always, thanks for reading.


In Session – The First One

We’re going to play a little catch up today. My group has played quite a few gameplay sessions in this new world and despite not getting very far physically or chronologically, much has happened! So today, I want to introduce you to a small portion of Alsa and some key people in the Islands of Wetmoss.

Wetmoss transparent

Above are those islands (minus the capital island, Paltos, which is about 200 miles to the East). They all have kind of Greekesque names even though I originally intended the local culture (mostly wood elves) to have a heavy feudal Japanese influence, but anyway… From West to East we’ve got:

  • Maln, the less-populated but mind-blowingly beautiful island frequented by Monks and Wizards looking for the seclusion of its cavernous mountains and sweeping plains; While it’s grassy plains and scattered forests yield bountiful food resources a lack of potable groundwater makes permanent settlements here sparse.
  • Torpos, which is mostly covered in a dense canopy of rain-forest and almost uninhabitable by humanoids due to the rampant dinosaur population boom happening currently (which may or may not have to do with crazy druids).
  • Noscis, the most heavily populated. Many communities of various sizes are scattered about it’s coasts as trade largely occurs by sea. There are big things that like to eat people in the untamed rain-forests throughout the island which may or may not include wereapes. In general, Noscis is a natural population hub and villages here tend to flourish.
  • The last of the islands on this map is Dirros. I don’t have much in the way of development for this one except for some old ruins in the middle but until the players have a reason to go there I probably won’t worry about it! Such is the way of a homebrew-happy DM.

There be your islands, and now to the PCs. They are obviously the main characters of the story taking place in Wetmoss. I’m a firm believer in the idea that while the players should feel immersed in a “living” world, with realistic and personable NPC’s, dungeons that make sense functionally, and a flavorful culture within which the players actions are considered, the players should genuinely feel like they are …for lack of a better term… the shit! I’m not saying they should feel like indestructible gods in a sea of mere mortals, but if the story was being told in a Song of Ice and Fire style the PCs would have the only POV chapters in the book.

With that established, let me introduce our main characters for the first act:

  • Ruma Russet. Hailing from the Empire of Lahndor this Dragonborn Cleric turned sharply to religion after witnessing great death and destruction laid upon her people at the hands of her fellow mercenaries. Ruma worships Bakoryu, the Ancient Dragon, and hopes to help her people (and similar dejected races) rise out of poverty and servitude.
  • Thia Galanodel. A Mernese Wood-elf Ranger who was, in fact, raised by wolves, she loves to ramble and adventure. Thia is uncomfortable with big cities and learned to read and write by observing travelers in small villages (and rummaging through their carts). She wishes good will on all creatures… except those who have earned an arrow in the head.
  • Orryn Mathyk. This axe-weilding Gnome Barbarian has a knack for picking the wrong fights and his past troubles have made him tough as an Iron Dwarf. He doesn’t say much outside of paranoid mutterings to himself and I’m not sure that he has any personal goals other than causing a lot of pain to anyone who makes him angry.

These three are going to awaken in a jail cell with no memory of how they got there all “Elder Scrolls” style. From there they will be forced through a gauntlet of challenges in their attempt to escape the clutches of the malicious Red Moon Cartel. More about that on the next In Session.

In Session – The First One

The First of Many

Okay everyone! I am officially done being lazy. Due to various life events and a lack of availability from my D&D party I have been rather unfocused on worldbuilding and fantasy in general, but I am back on track to do some regular posts. While they may not all be particularly interesting or large, they will be regular (I’m thinking 1-2 every two weeks, increasing to 3-4 eventually) and at least somewhat useful to some of you!

Anyway, below is the first of a series I’m starting that doesn’t have a name yet. It will basically be a collection of buildings, rooms, areas, etc. that can be recycled and changed slightly for different locations to be used multiple times. Thanks for all your patience and I hope you enjoy the coming posts!

 Recyclable series #1


This is your standard village root cellar layout (at least in my homebrew setting, Alsa). The “door” is set at an angle into the side of an earthen mound. Beneath the door is a wooden ladder built into the wall that descends roughly 15 ft. Some villages will have this shaft widened enough to fit a bucket on a line or a pulley system for moving heavier goods. At the bottom of the shaft is a short landing hallway, then the main chamber. Most cellars will only use a single chamber, though it may be a bit larger. In this room your players could find many items such as…

  • Tools for farming (hoes, shovels, tills, etc.)
  • Tools for building (masonry tools, hammers, saws)
  • Hidden Belongings (a stolen piece of silverware, a love letter, hide-a-key box)
  • Surplus food produced by the town
  • Food imports from another area being preserved
  • Inexpensive or local beverages
  • Cheap weapons and armor (in the case that the village has no city guard)
  • Animal flesh from a recent hunt (usually hung to cure or salted and barreled)
  • Village-wide supply of spices or seasonings
  • The village treasury (in a chest or hidden hatch)

If you feel like being random with it, you could always roll a d10 on the table above to help decide what to put in your cellar’s main room. Some larger or more affluent villages might have individual cellars inside households or large magically climate-controlled storage buildings, but for those that are big or wealthy and not quite there yet you will probably see at least one more room in the cellar. Above, I’ve added a chamber to the East for storing items that warrant higher security (imported beer and wine, a chest or trick-barrel with the village’s gold within, a dead body, etc.). For the majority of villages that make use of the room it will probably contain beer or wine and the tavern keeper will be the sole keyholder. In DnD 5e I would probably give the lock a DC10 to pick and increase that check based on the value of the items behind the door.

That’s that for your first recyclable of many. Hope you all enjoy collapsing it on your players when the cleric uses Thunderwave.

The First of Many

Getting Started

This is always the most difficult part of any project, isn’t it? No matter how many campaigns I run, songs I put together, crafts I craft… It never gets easier to actually take that first step.

Seriously, those two sentences took one episode of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt each to get out. Anyway, this is hopefully going to be a place for me to put new maps and resources as I run games and build my current world, Alsa, which you can see a political map of below.

Alsa, political map

A crappy scan of the known world of Alsa.

This world was created to be a fresh start for my game group as we picked up the new(ish) Dungeons & Dragons 5e system. I was rather familiar with 3.5 and Pathfinder, and some more obscure systems like Tephra, but 5e just intrigued me with its intense emphasis on character background and development. I wanted a world that was more vast for my PCs to explore as they increased in power that would have lore natively compatible with the new D&D system and that had a wide range of cultures, geographies, and climates so that they could take advantage of this more story-driven system and a variety of settings.

When I made the decision to start work on a new world I was playing Minecraft. Now, we all know that one of the core features of Minecraft is its random terrain generation; it was actually the feature that drew me to the game back in the days of Infdev. I decided rather than using some of the methods I had used in the past to generate islands, and continents, and worlds (dice rolls, random squiggles, donjon) that I would make a new world in Minecraft, craft a very big map, and trace that for the coastlines and mountain ranges of my fictional world. I had to try a few seeds, usually just a string of random letters, before I found one that I liked (and had enough ocean biomes to look like continents) and I eventually settled on “also” which became Alsa, the name of this new tabletop world.

So cool, I’ve got my land masses. Now what do I do? At this point one has to ask themselves, “why am I making this world, and why would someone use this instead of another one?” Fortunately I had already answered that question; I want this world to be natively compatible with the 5e system, but I want it to have unique lore and add a depth to certain aspects of the system that might not be there in the core books. This means I need origin stories and home locations for every race/subrace, I need cultures to populate these spaces that fit in with said origin stories, and I need these cultures to not only be compatible with the information in the core rulebooks for 5e while also adding more depth to that information.

Next time I’ll explain how I approached those goals and give you some actual information on what those random splotches of color are on that political map! DFTBA – Joe

EDIT: Here’s a threshold adjusted version with higher saturation, if you prefer that kind of thing…

threshold adjusted map

Getting Started