As a game master, a lot of weight rests on your shoulders. You need to preplan some stories and events to give life and motivation to the world. That world needs to feel larger than the players but also needs to feel accessible. You have to have interesting and fun events happen, both expected and unexpected. You have to be able to improvise or completely alter your plans if the players do something fair but unpredictable. But if you have too little planned or have no story with your events, everything can lose its gravity and feel unfulfilling. Plus you have to come up with names for NPCs, taverns, towns, guilds, groups, religions and maybe even monsters and deities.
The good news (other than actually pulling it off is extremely rewarding)? You’re not alone. When I want inspiration or to see the awesome stuff other people are doing, here’s where I go (and you should too).
Need an NPC with a past or personality?
http://whothefuckismydndcharacter.com/ is a goldmine made up of single sentence characters. Ryan Grant (@RyanJGrant) is the mind behind this work of modern art. Each character bio starts with a phrase like “You think your character is cool? My character is a fucking” and then continues on to create characters like these:
- … hot-headed Dragonborn Druid from a tourist town in the mountains who realized the importance of literacy far too late in life.
- … inventive Elf Rogue from a secret brawler’s guild who is searching for the knowledge of true immortality.
- … melodramatic Half-elf Wizard from a hastily erected tent city who needs to earn the trust of a hated duke.
- … courageous Tiefling Wizard from the Ruined Sea who is in way too deep with the wrong sort of people.
- … meticulous Human Barbarian from the sealed city who always gives the good news first
If you want an (almost definitely) quirky character, this is one of my favorite NPC generators.
Now I’m going to talk mostly about Reddit… for almost the rest of the post
If you’re a GM (especially if you’re running Dungeons and Dragons), https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen is the best place to find inspiration and resources. The moderators are fantastic, the community is friendly, and the ideas runneth over. It’s the place I post and lurk the most on Reddit.
Awesome users share resources, ideas, and engage in discussions every day, so it’s worth checking out regularly. Here are some more recent posts that have been incredibly useful.
Want an interesting, unexpected, and possibly comical curse?
User /dndspeak compiled a list of 100 user-submitted curses and posted them here: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/78xlfs/d100_interesting_curses/ . They range from humorous to serious as well as from inconveniencing to potentially deadly.
Need some ambient music?
Reddit user /bezoing shared a Spotify playlist with music for different situations. Need music for combat? They made playlists for things like boss battles, horrifying encounters, standard combat, and more. Want some atmospheric music? How about the wild, a tavern, or a manor? Need different kinds of mood music? It’s there too. (The Reddit thread where I found it: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/78fqfc/update_curated_spotify_playlists_i_use_in_my_dd/
Need to stock your tavern with more than Dwarven _____ and Elven _____?
Pick a few of these magical brews: https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/78y1kd/magical_concoctions
Like with the curses, this is a list of user-submitted ideas for special beers, wines, and other alcohol. I personally recommend the “Risky Whisky.”
Need a tavern to hold those drinks (and you’ve already used the name Brew-sade)?
There are a lot of tavern name generators out there. Here’s one of the Random Tavern Name Generators I prefer: https://cdn.rawgit.com/EyeOfMidas/tavern-name-generator/master/index.html. Aside from my favorite of the ones it gave me “Shade of the Damaged Pregnancy Tavern,” the comment section on the Reddit thread has other peoples’ favorites as well (https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/78y776/having_trouble_coming_up_with_unique_and_exciting/. Other fun names include:
- The Outrageous Crab
- The Air Gerbil of the Humanity
- Treason Carnage Time Tavern
- Upset Slug of the Garbug Tavern
- Rich Hall of Slippery Spring (season) Pub
You can even have some pubs with names that were lost in translation. Something like “The Cloudy Cheese of the Foolish Hopper.” It just doesn’t sound the same in common as it should in halfing.
If you want a more serious tavern name, sometimes you need to cut out a word or two. They can be a bit lengthy, and not all of the words work that well together. But whether you go with the full name or trim it to make it fit the mood, here are some serious tavern titles:
- The Marilith Arms (user)
- Rampage of the Loose Monk
- Copper Blizzard Tavern
- Strength of the Average Pub
- The Defiant Ustilagor
This generator may give you several names in a row that don’t make sense. However, it is still my favorite and one of the more creative ones out of the tavern name generators I’ve used. And like I mentioned, a small amount of editing can make a world of difference.
A safe space for those who are new
If you’re new to DMing or thinking about running your first game, https://www.reddit.com/r/DMAcademy is an amazing resource. Loads of people new and seasoned share ideas and ask/answer questions. Not only is it a good place for noobs, it’s a great place for those who have been around a while to see the game through a fresh pair of eyes and learn something new.
Other subreddits such as r/numenera, /r/pathfinder/, r/dnd, and r/savageworlds are good places to go if you’re running a game specific to those systems. Be aware, some of the pickier users may give you grief if you talk about bending the game’s rules or bring up ideas that don’t directly correlate to the respected system. Some are pickier about that than others. Still, they are all good sources to use, and there’s a lot of great conversations to be had there.
There are a lot of other great resources within Reddit and beyond. If you share some of your favorites, I’d love to check them out. And I’ll be bookmarking other great resources and sharing them in future posts.
Give a hoot and got some loot?
Massive is the right word. While a chunks of it is specifically for DnD, there’s a lot of good resources here. My personal favorite item on the list is http://www.lordbyng.net/inspiration/. That randomly generates items (weapons, armor, or trinkets) that are less powerful than a +1 item. I LOVE stuff like that. User /Apollonaut13 is a champ for sharing all of this.
MOAR MUSIC! Spotify playlists to be precise. Also from https://www.reddit.com/r/DnDBehindTheScreen/comments/7pmm6x/yet_more_spotify_playlists_for_genre_adventures/
(not) Another Tavern Generator:
Holy heck is this cool. It gives you tavern names, owners, employees, and a wine list. THIS might be my new favorite tavern maker. https://thecoppersanctum.github.io/thecoppersanctum/taverns.html. Credit goes to Reddit user u/derixyleth.
Reddit user u/mattmoin117 shared a massive collection of map resources including tokens and beautiful maps with grids.