Interview with LLA Don Zombie of the Vampire Generator at Chartopia

Regardless of I am playing solo or GMing though, I like generators for the element of surprise and keeping me on my toes.

Finding out about one of Chartopia's rising stars and creator of VtM V5 - Vampire Generator

Interview with creator of Vampire Generator at Chartopia

How did you get into creating random generators?

It started for me around 10 years ago. There was a software powered by Java called Maptools which you downloaded locally to your machine and could host online TTRPG games to other people who had the software.

The thing that grabbed me about it at the time, was that it had an extremely robust macro scripting language. You could write very detailed and complicated functions all the way down to automating the dice and math of games and making graphical user interfaces.

I used to sit for tens of hours before hosting a game and personally automate out the basic functions of whatever game I was going to be running.

The first "generator" I made was for one of the older Cyberpunk games if memory serves me right. The game had and extremely complex branching "lifepath" type system for character backgrounds. I took that, scripted it into something like 5000 lines of code, and added random character starts to it.

I pitched the game to my players as, "Every enemy and faceless guard you fight or encounter will have a rolled up and simulated childhood, family, friends, ambitions. Theoretically if you kill a guard, those things could factor into the game consistently."

The reality was though that so many lines of code taxed the java memory limitations of maptools fiercely. That game ended up being rather short. It did lead to tons of future projects on maptools though.

Only one was ever publicly released on the forums for the game Outbreak: Unread. I wouldn't be surprised if no one ever used it though, because setting it up was more complex than the limitations of most peoples casual interest.

What generators are you most proud of creating and why?

My Vampire the Masquerade V5: Vampire Generator without any doubt, if for nothing else than the niche need it satisfies and that so many people have found it useful.

The popularity of the latest version of VtM, lined up with a renewed interest of mine into the growing hobby of "Solo RPGs". Basically using generators, dice mechanics, and their interpretation to play TTRPG alone without a GM.

The vampire generator was born when I realized that VtM V5, probably intentionally, gives very little guidance on how to create NPC vampires. As I was playing and new characters appeared in the game, I wanted something that could tell me who those vampires were on a deep level.

The generator started its life as just rolling 8d2 to figure out the "generation" of vampires between 8th generation and 16th, weighted heavily to the middle. Everything else about it grew out from that.

Vampire the Masquerade V5: Vampire Generator

What is the most fun thing about creating generators?

I like to hear the stories about how people are using them. After I made the Vampire Generator I worked with a few content creators to try to signal boost it out to more of the VtM community. I realized there weren't many places where you could find tools and resources for VtM, so I started doing my own Youtube to get it to more of the community.

Reading peoples stories in comments and in communities like the #Resources section of the "World of Darkness 5th Edition" Discord bring me a lot of happiness and make the hours spent doing it feels very worth it.

What are the most painful lessons you've learned from creating generators?

Making generators so complex that they reach the limitations of where they are hosted can be a hard lesson. Making generators accessible and visible to people who want to use them can be a real challenge as well.

When I found Chartopia it solved many of those issues for me. Having so many charts and generators out there, on a site with very little limitations, usable on virtually any internet facing device is almost too good to be true.

How do you use random generators yourself?

It's been awhile since I have GM'd a game unfortunately. I count myself lucky to play in a fantastic VtM game weekly. The main place I use them right now is when I play VtM solo from my iPhone. It's good for the free moments that I might otherwise browse Reddit or play a mobile game.

Regardless of I am playing solo or GMing though, I like generators for the element of surprise and keeping me on my toes.

It's really easy to overthink things like a treasure reward, for example in a fantasy game. It's easy for me to get stuck in my head where I don't want to over or under reward. Every treasure ends up being really moderate. With a few good treasure charts or generators it almost feels like it gives me license to go extreme or mundane. It's what the dice or generator decreed. The RNG [Random Number Generator] has spoken.

What is the most interesting generator or tool you've seen?

I really love the Modern Character Generator on Chaotic Shiny. Sometimes things for modern settings games can be really tough to find. Also, the games "Best Left Buried" and everything by Questing Beast like "MazeRats" are absolutely full of some of the best charts that can be used for virtually any fantasy game.

What are your next big projects (generators or otherwise) that you can talk about?

I've been reading The Witcher books and the TTRPG simultaneously and planning to run a game of it. I expect that I will be making some Witcher themed tables and maybe a generator before that fully comes together.

I am not sure yet if I will make them public or not. I have actually worked on a few things on chartopia recently like for Best Left Buried and Mythic GM that I kept private for my own use. I stress a lot about DMCA and copyright because of how easy it can be run afoul of them.

The RPG world seems pretty relaxed about DMCA but its always in the back of my head and I try to be mindful not to bring negative attention down on my friends at chartopia.

Thankfully Paradox/White Wolf have a really great licensing on using their IP called the "Dark Pack", I wish more games did that. When I make things that would need to quote block text from published works, I try to fuse page number references instead.

Some Witcher related stuff might be coming from me very soon though.

Where can people find you on social media?

I am very active on Twitter where I can usually be found talking about TTRPG, Video Games, and things going on in my life.

I also do my series on tools and resources for Vampire the Masquerade on my YouTube). Time shortages have made video posting scarce for the moment. I have plans for a bunch of new videos when I have time to shoot and edit them though.

A few times a week I can also be found on Twitch playing video games with my wife and son. Usually trying to get a laugh out of them and having a good time with my favorite people that I love.

Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

Just what a dream the existence of a service like Chartopia is. The pair that run it is doing amazing things with the domain language and the site in general.

They are so involved in the community and just great people all around. It's almost a secret that's too well-kept, I wish more of the world knew it existed. There is not doubt in my mind that it's going to explode in popularity in the not so distant future.

More Interviews

You can find more more Creator Interviews on Rand Roll. Chartopia also has it's own tag for articles at 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.