Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Pulpy Planetary Romance Plot Generation

Athanor is all about the pulpy planetary romance action. In that spirit, I offer my own Pulp Planetary Romance Plot Inspiro-tron. Roll on Chart A for your villain, Chart B for their evil scheme, Chart C if you need to determine a victim for the scheme or an ally for the hero to make along the way. Keep rolling for all you need, since heroes are always finding new supporting cast members to have to rescue later.

Chart D is for the plot devices, maguffins, or odd bits of alien technology that show up. Chart E is the plot twist about the larger campaign that the plot reveals. I have used a mix of actual elements of planetary romances I have read and some ideas that sounded good to me at the time. However, some word on the general plotting of Edgar Rice Burrough Barsoom-style tales is worth some time.

To be loose, general, and a little facetious, the general Edgar Rice Burrough style plot should resemble:

Villain(s) enact an Evil Scheme (usually involving the kidnapping of Dejah Thoris or another princess) that leads our hero to pursuing the Villains across the planet resulting in the Revelation of a Secret that affects the setting. In the end, the hero triumphs (usually rescuing the princess and killing a lot of bad guys along the way) with a different understanding of the world.

On with the charts.

Chart A: The Villain(s)
d10 Result
1 Cowardly and Treacherous Noble
2 Wise Scion of a Dead/Dying Race
3 Cold and Amoral Alien Scientist
4 Heartless Assassin
5 Rival
6 Bounty Hunter
7 Slavers
8 Pirates
9 Bandits
10 Cultists

Chart B: Evil Scheme
d Result
1 Kidnapping
2 Theft
3 Exploration
4 Chase
5 Attack
6 Brainwashing
7 Brain-stealing
8 Dishonor/Besmirch
9 Sell into Slavery
10 Imprison/Transform/Make Comatose

Chart C: Victim or Ally
d10 Result
1 Beautiful Princess
2 Noble Savage
3 Brave Warrior
4 Strange Alien
5 Scientist/Philosopher/Scholar/Priest
6 Ousted Nobleman
7 Misunderstood Scoundrel
8 Loyal Handmaiden
9 Brute with a Heart of Gold
10 Warrior-Maiden Who Will Not Allow Herself to Love

Chart D: Plot Devices & Maguffins
d10 Result
1 Ancient Weapon of Vast Power
2 Terrible Monster from the Dim Past
3 Advanced Power Source
4 Terraforming Device
5 Last Scion of an Ancient Race
6 Device that Will Make the User a (Near-)God
7 Mind Control Device
8 Army of Robots
9 Library of Lost Knowledge
10 Still Functioning Computer/AI/disembodied brain(s)

Chart E: Secret That The Plot Reveals
d8 Result
1 Lost City of Ancients Who are Now Degenerate.
2 Lost City of Ancients Who Have Vast Mental Powers But are Now Amoral
3 The Truth Behind the Locals' Belief About the Gods
4 A Terrible Monster Worshipped as a God
5 A Terrible Danger That is Coming From Far Away
6 A Lost Race Who Secretly Manipulates the World
7 The Villains Are Even Worse Than They Seemed
8 A Prophecy of Great Import


  1. I am immediately cutting and pasting this into my personal DM reference. Very Judges Guild as well!