Looking for ‘Situation’ ideas


For my current campaign, since I seem to be perennially short of time to just sit and brainstorm these days, I wonder if you can help.

Here’s the situation: The PCs are heading upriver in a magic god-boat full of soldiers they rescued from captivity. The lands around are war torn. Before they get too far there will be a lot of other river traffic, mainly related to military supplies - food, clothing, weapons, siege equipment, all heading upriver. Ahead of them is a small city on the left bank, and a little further past that a Fort, garrisoned by the people they consider the enemy. The Fort is a transshipment point from river to caravan. To the west, raiding bands, enemies of the garrison. To the east farmlands hastily being harvested with grain heading to the Fort. Here there is a general that the PCs would like to recruit to their own cause (basically one of rebellion)

Before they find the general, I’d like to have a situation at either the town or the Fort. They are under the same king, but theres no specific relation between them.


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    I'm very keen on the Stituation Generators from Levi Kornelsen : https://levikornelsen.itch.io/ . It sounds like Long Knives (intrigue) or Broken Places (villainous takeover) could be used for the town, with factions scheming or the town under the control of some villain. Transgression (social movement) or Broken Places might fit the fort, if the general holds different opinions from the bulk of their soldiers.

    The situation generators are basically worksheets, inviting you to describe various people and groups on a template. They're good, solid ways of getting to interesting situations to game in.

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    Now ad 'situation generator' would be great idea, and thanks for recommending I take a look at Levis. It's not quite what I need, though, because it's not really a situation generator so much as a situation organizer - I mean, I still need to generate all the people and relationships, which is the part I'm finding myself short of time for. Organization isn't something I really need help for.

    I've looked at The Big List of RPG Plots and a similar Big List of Literary Plots, but these tend to concern themselves with big pictures like "The party goes on a quest for a magical cure". That's also not the kind of help I need here. What I need is more along the lines of generating who the people might be and their needs/relationships.

    Looking around further, I found this 'plot generator' page: https://www.plot-generator.org.uk/
    I tried the plot-twists generator and it turned out some very amusing results ("The mayor is really a brain in a jar") but not useful ones. Then I tried the 'Writers Block' but it gave me a list of exercises to unblock myself - not so useful in a hurry. I tried the 'Story Ideas' which just gives story ideas without input, so way to non-specific. Then I turned to the 'Short Story' generator which has a lot a variable to input. The result is amusing and I'll post it below. But it did at least give me the idea for a plot hook, which is this:

    As the players are passing the town, the mayor sends envoys, asking them to stop. He wants to speak to one of the PCs - a physician and priestess - because he thinks he has accidentally killed the commander of the garrison an has no idea what to do. Is the commander dead? How will the PCs advise him? Can the PCs turn this situation to their advantage, considering they see the commander as an enemy?

    Sadly, I ran the generator twice and it just generates the same plot again with a twist - so its not really a plot generator, either - it takes an existing plot and plays with it.

    Stubborn mayor of town
    A Short Story
    by Writer Unknown
    mayor of town was thinking about commander of garrison again. commander was a non-plussed brute with swarthy torso and black-haired leg.

    mayor walked over to the window and reflected on his Tapped Out surroundings. He had always loved Dry Shitullum with its raw, rare River. It was a place that encouraged his tendency to feel angry.

    Then he saw something in the distance, or rather someone. It was the a non-plussed figure of commander of garrison.

    mayor gulped. He glanced at his own reflection. He was a stubborn, middle-aged, wine drinker with fat torso and angular leg. His friends saw him as a distinct, defeated donkey. Once, he had even rescued a naughty priestess from a burning building.

    But not even a stubborn person who had once rescued a naughty priestess from a burning building, was prepared for what commander had in store today.

    The wind blew like marching dogs, making mayor determined. mayor grabbed a bronze trunk that had been strewn nearby; he massaged it with his fingers.

    As mayor stepped outside and commander came closer, he could see the enthusiastic glint in his eye.

    "Look mayor," growled commander, with a fat glare that reminded mayor of non-plussed lionfish. "I hate you and I want supplies. You owe me 52 shekels."

    mayor looked back, even more determined and still fingering the bronze trunk. "commander, leave me alone," he replied.

    They looked at each other with confused feelings, like two pretty, purple pigs cheering at a very talkative festival, which had ezigi music playing in the background and two stern uncles hiding to the beat.

    Suddenly, commander lunged forward and tried to punch mayor in the face. Quickly, mayor grabbed the bronze trunk and brought it down on commander's skull.

    commander's swarthy torso trembled and his black-haired leg wobbled. He looked stubborn, his wallet raw like a sad, spilt seal.

    Then he let out an agonising groan and collapsed onto the ground. Moments later commander of garrison was dead.

    mayor of town went back inside and made himself a nice glass of wine.


    It even generates auto-praise for the back cover blurb:

    Auto Praise for Stubborn Mayor of town
    "I feel like I know Mayor of town. In a way, it feels as though I've always known him."

    • The Daily Tale
      "About as enjoyable as being hailed on whilst taking in washing that has been targeted by seagulls with the squits."

    • Enid Kibbler
      "Saying the sun shone like marching dogs is just the kind of literary device that makes this brilliant."

    • Hit the Spoof
      "I could do better."

    • Zob Gloop

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    Found this big list of plot and story generator sites (which includes the one above): https://www.writerswrite.com/fiction/plot-generators/

    Exploring now....

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    @Apocryphal said:

    Stubborn mayor of town
    A Short Story
    by Writer Unknown

    Lord! This looks like a madlibs on steroids!

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    Pretty much. Overall, the experience with the ‘generators’ has left me unsatisfied and wondering if I could make a better one (which I absolutely don’t have time to do). I think Outremer has a pretty good one, though, doesn’t it? I can’t get at my book right now due to renovations.
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    @Apocryphal said:
    Pretty much. Overall, the experience with the ‘generators’ has left me unsatisfied and wondering if I could make a better one (which I absolutely don’t have time to do). I think Outremer has a pretty good one, though, doesn’t it? I can’t get at my book right now due to renovations.

    Here it is. Not sure it will help. It's pretty much designed for Outremer.

    The Rumor

    The first thing to determine is the rumor - the news that reaches the ears of the association. This takes the form “(Rumor Table Result) (Place Table Result)”

    Rumor Table
    d20 Roll Rumor Table Result
    1 Peasants have been disappearing in...
    2 A strange thing occurred in....
    3 Prodigies were sighted in...
    4 A cruel monster is said to be stalking about in....
    5 A certain Lord has changed his allegiance in....
    6 There are no longer any rats to be seen in....
    7 Sheep have been dying in....
    8 There is drought in...
    9 There is a rebellion forming in...
    10 People are acting suspiciously in....
    11 There is religious unrest in...
    12 The people have been sullen and uncooperative in....
    13 A Djinn ruler has asked for our aid in....
    14 Wells are drying up in...
    15 A mysterious new minstrel has been singing subtly
    malicious songs. It is believed he lives in...
    16 We have been asked for by the local government in...
    17 The harvest has been blighted in...
    18 Suspicious foreign gentlemen have appeared in....
    19 Supernatural sources have told us to sent a team to....
    20 The Stars point to trouble in...

    Then there are two place tables which would not be appropriate outside Outremer, then

    Behind the Rumor

    The rumor may tell all that is needed, or it may need expansion. Roll on (or pick from) the following table to
    see what is behind the rumor, if needed.

    d20 Roll Behind the Rumor Table Result
    1 A Monster
    2 Devils/Demons
    3 A Sorcerer
    4-7 Another Association
    8-10 A Foreign Country (Roll on Place Table 1)
    11-13 Religious Zealots
    14-16 Internal Traitors
    17 A Group of Monsters
    18 The Pope/Rome
    19 A League of a Foreign Country and Internal Traitors
    20 The Caliph of Baghdad


    This is how much the Association stands to be rewarded
    for success

    d20 Roll Profit
    1-5 Meager (1)
    6-9 Poor (4)
    10-15 2 Poor (8)
    16-18 Scraping By (16)
    19-20 Scraping By + 2 Poor (24)

    You can bank it, buy more assets, hire more men, or
    whatever you like.


    Sweeteners are the little things thrown in to sweeten the
    price. In negotiation, these things may be requested or
    offered. They may also be included in the original offer
    before negotiations begin.
    The GM should adjust the profit when negotiations are
    done, with a best estimate of the worth of these
    Sweeteners. In no case would a single sweetener be worth
    more than a Meager in Profit, and usually less.

    Transport Included
    Bounties Paid for Certain Individuals/Monsters
    A Local Base
    Liaison with Local Government
    Extra Point in Profit
    A Knighthood for a Deserving Member
    Services of Local Spy Ring
    Portion (d%/2) Paid in Advance

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    Aha, yes. It's quite good and nicely evocative of the setting, but not quite what I need for my current purposes.

    I spent some time tonight writing. I'm always amazed how the act of writing is so very lubricating when one needs ideas. I find that the more I write, the more ideas I have - and very few other activities seem to work that way for me. Showering, I suppose. I always have ideas in the shower, which is precisely when I can't write them down!

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