Interview with Darehart of Darehart's Monstrous CodexBy Duncan Thomson on
"I think we are only beginning to see the possibility and versatility of random generators for RPGs."
Talking about rpg generators with Dareheart, creator of Dareheart's Monstrous Codex
Q&A with Dareheart
How did you get into creating random generators?
I have been doing web development for a really long time.
One of the first things I did when I was learning web programming was generating random events, coding to make the background of a webpage change to a random photo or display a random news article. That type of thing.
As I started to get back into D&D, after many years away, I found there was this huge community of random generator developers. This inspired me to create a cool unique tool.
I have created a bunch of stuff for my own use like stat rollers, NPC generators and table generators based off the charts in the DMG. But I never posted any of them on the internet because there was always at least one person and usually many people who had already done something better. It wasn't until I was half way through the Monstrous Codex that I felt like I had something unique enough to share with the world.
What generators are you most proud of creating and why?
I'm definitely proud of Darehart's Monstrous Codex the most. Behind the scenes it is one of the more complex generators I have done. And there is still room to improve it, which is exciting.
Also, most of the monsters in D&D have been around for decades. Players know them and have interacted with all of them already. This tool gives DMs a chance to surprise their players with something unique. The players get a chance to discover and fight something completely unknown.
Another one that I made that I use in almost every campaign is a simple text based random treasure map generator. The text entries were created by someone else, who I will give credit to if I can ever find them again.
The generator gives a DM ready made, hand written directions to a location. They can just print it out and hand it to the players. "While searching the campsite you find this". I've never shared this publicly so you and your audience are seeing it first. Let me know what you think.
What is the most fun thing about creating generators?
I like the idea of being able to create something that never existed before. I suppose that's why most people like to create things.
But when you create a random generator you are building a tool that creates other things, ideas, stories, whatever. So you aren't just building one thing, when you create a single random generator you are essentially creating a whole bunch of things that never existed before. And you are providing a catalyst for other people to develop things that never existed before.
As an example if you give a DM a random town generator you're not just giving them one town for their world. You are possibly giving them every town for their world.
What are the most painful lessons you've learned from creating generators?
I haven't really learned any painful lessons. I enjoy coding, so even the frustrations of trying to work through a logical knot are fun. I suppose if I ever tried to publish something in an attempt to make money I'm sure there would be copyright issues but I don't foresee that.
How do you use random generators yourself?
I use random generators in a few ways. First, I use them as a source of inspiration. If I know I need a town with a cool feature of some kind I may use a random town generator 100 times until something pops up and I think "ah ha, I can build something off that idea".
I also use them to generate mundane things. If I need a tavern or NPCs or a treasure pile, I may just generate them so I can focus my time on story elements.
I also use them to avoid improv on the DM side of the screen. So when a player randomly says "I walk up to the first person I see and ask them their name.", I have a name ready.
There are so many amazing map generators but the one I find myself going back to the most often is Donjon's map generator. It's just so configurable and easy to use.
The other site/generators that I find amazing and use all the time is/are the Fantasy Names Generator. There is just so much stuff here it is mind blowing. I think these two sites are must haves for any DM.
What is the most interesting generator or tool you've seen?
There are a bunch of map generators that are really fun to play with.
However, one smaller one I like that doesn't get a lot of attention is the Weak Magic Items for 5E generator.
D&D 5e is a low magic game, however, the designers never changed the magic items that are available. So now we have a game where magic items are relatively scarce but the DMG showcases a bunch of really powerful magic items like +3 armor.
It wasn't until Xanathar's came out that common magic items were available. But these tend to be too weak or frivolous. The Weak Magic Items generator fills a nice spot. It allows a DM to award magical items that are both useful and not game breaking.
What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?
I don't have any projects I'm working on right now. I tend to go into development mode when I am DMing a campaign. However, right now I am only a player in two campaigns so my focus isn't around world creation. The project that I have started on but is only in the early stages is a full adventure generator. I don't mind sharing that since I have only just started on it and if someone else wants to jump on it that's cool. But the idea is to combine/rebuild a bunch of the generators that are already out there, string them together and create an entirely randomized adventure. I have seen a few that are headed in that direction but nothing so far at the scale/detail I am looking for.
Where can people find you on social media?
Aside from reddit I keep all my other social media stuff for close family and friends
Is there anything else you would like to talk about?
Thanks again for the opportunity to talk about my projects. And thanks for continuing to bring awareness to this community. I think we are only beginning to see the possibility and versatility of random generators for RPGs.
You can find more more Creator Interviews on Rand Roll.