Donjon Interview on New & Updated Tools, RPG Prep and Lego

"There are so many people creating so many excellent and amazing things right now, that if I could think of something, there's probably someone else already doing it."

Rand Roll's first follow-up interview is with the creator of donjon. First interview from summer 2018 can be found here.

2nd Interview with Donjon

What's new since the first interview?

The fantasy world generator got a major rewrite. Requests are now posted to an on-disk queue, and a persistent worker process pops them out to create one world at a time. But hopefully nobody's noticed that change, other than requests being handled more reliably and the site not slowing to a crawl quite as often.

About a year ago, that hoopy frood Matt Colville made a free PDF [and a YouTube Video] to help GMs start thinking about and building their own local areas and campaigns.

I found the whole thing completely brilliant, and was inspired to spend a couple of days building a random generator around it.

My Campaign generator at donjon

What's the next project?

I'm currently working on rewriting the random dungeon generator.

There's a lot of technical debt to pay off in the current codebase, and some new features I'd like to add which can't happen with things as they are.

For example, square-room dungeons are still rendered square-by-square, which makes round or other interesting room shapes nigh-impossible. Caverns are rendered with separate background and foreground layers and a layer mask, but its really slow because the gd library doesn't actually support that sort of compositing. The rewrite should unify and improve both cases.

After that, I'd like to take a look at the calendar generator and initiative tracker. Both of these are fairly old javascript apps, and there are better frameworks to leverage now. Also, Adam Oresten is schooling me with his excellent Fantasy Calendar.

Are there any generators you'd love to make but can't / haven't found a way to?

There are so many people creating so many excellent and amazing things right now, that if I could think of something, there's probably someone else already doing it.

I'm quite happy about that.

I suppose I wouldn't mind improving the fractal world generator. I'm generally happy with the results of John Olsson's faulting algorithm, but it would be nice to get polar super-continents slightly less often.

Maybe creating a single topography and then adding it to clones of itself at different rotations would be interesting?

What's the weirdest generators request you've had?

I haven't gotten a lot of requests, and they've been pretty reasonable.

I suppose the one which might be weird, in the sense that it wouldn't have been on my radar otherwise, is the Wicked Maze generator. Matthew Neagley asked me to write it to extend a solo game by Fishwife Games which he'd been playing.

He wrote an article about the whole thing on Gnome Stew.

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How do you prepare for an RPG game?

I try to spend a couple of hours reviewing what happened in the previous session, and sketching out some likely paths forward and what information, encounters, etc. I might need in each case. I'll put some thought into anything which seems to demand it, and rely on whim and randomly generated content for the rest.

Shockingly, donjon is pretty well suited to my own gaming style.

I'll also spend some time once in a while thinking about the arc of the campaign. Where its been, where it seems to be headed, and looking for opportunities to make interesting connections or changes.

What's your biggest hobby outside of rpgs and generators?

LEGO. I used to have a lot of LEGO as a kid, blue/grey classic space was my jam.

I came back out of my dark ages when LEGO got the Star Wars license in 1999, and was able to keep up with all those sets for a while.

Then I joined a local LUG (LEGO user group) several years ago, started going to the Brickworld convention in Chicago, and now I have the problem of not being able to take apart all my MOCs (My Own Creation) at once because I don't have enough storage for the parts.

What other RPG sites and tools do you regularly use?

Not many at the moment. D&D Beyond for the Ravenloft campaign I'm playing in, but my main campaign has been on COVID hiatus.

I like Fantasy Name Generators for covering a lot of ground which I don't, and I've also been enjoying watching Chartopia's syntax develop.

More Interviews

First interview from summer 2018 can be found here

You can find more more Creator Interviews on Rand Roll.

I have a discord for discussing random tools and tables and I'm also on instagram as rpg_generators with random tables and gens.