Interview with Paul Bellow of LitRPG Adventures on Machine Learning and RPG Tools

I've spent hundreds of hours tinkering with LitRPG Adventures and getting it just right. The payoff has come when more than one DM has come to me and said my tools saved their ass for a one-shot or playing sessions they had. There's nothing like that feeling as a creator. Having someone use your tool is great.

Interview with Paul Bellow of LitRPG Adventures

Paul of LitRPG Adventures on Machine Learning and RPG Tools

How did you get into creating random generators?

I started messing around with computers (and tabletop RPG) in the 1980s, but I didn't get into creating random generators until much later. As a writer (and someone curious), I've followed NLG (natural language generation) and NLP (natural language processing) for decades now. While RNN and Markov Chains were kinda cool and I built a few non-public random generators, it wasn't until I learned about GPT-2 that I got really excited.

I ran across Janelle Shane creating D&D backstories with GPT-2 and was inspired. I spent a lot of time fine-tuning models on all sorts of datasets. The output was promising, but it still had a lot of problems. However, all the work I put in on GPT-2 allowed me to get early access to GPT-3 from OpenAI. Once I got that, I began trying to generate even better character backstories,

What generators are you most proud of creating and why?

I would have to say it's LitRPG Adventures as it's the most powerful (so far), and I am trying to build a community around it. We've only got hundreds of members, and there's a long way to go, but I have a lot of hope that LitRPG Adventures is going to become an important site for tabletop gamers in the future.

I've spent hundreds of hours tinkering with LitRPG Adventures and getting it just right. The payoff has come when more than one DM has come to me and said my tools saved their ass for a one-shot or playing sessions they had. There's nothing like that feeling as a creator. Having someone use your tool is great.

What makes machine learning tools interesting to work with for generators?

The power. We're only at the beginning. While GPT-3 is capable of astounding feats, the technology is only going to improve as compute costs come down and new methods for training the data cheaply are invented. One of the things that's been really interesting is how it surprises me sometimes. I'll be expecting one thing from the AI, but it will give me something entirely different - sometimes better than what I was planning.

Additionally, language models like GPT-3 currently require a lot of examples to get their output right. As a result, I've written hundreds of thousands of words to "teach" the AI how to output better content. It's still a work in progress, but as an author for forty years now, I love whenever I get a chance to sit down and let the words flow.

rpg random tables

What is the most fun thing about creating generators?

For me, it's all about the long, lonely hours in front of a computer screen, typing arcane commands to get the box of metal to do your will.

In all seriousness, I enjoy tinkering and solving problems. I really do get a kick out of people contacting me and letting me know my RPG generators helped them in a tight spot or spurred their imagination.

What are the biggest challenges of creating generators?

I would say time and money - which are related. It's taken a bit of time to get my RPG generators running smoothly (and there's still work to do!) Additionally, GPT-3 API from OpenAI costs money each time I query their API.

I've got some ideas about fine-tuning a new model based on the nearly 10,000 generations we've got already. I'm hoping that should let me get the price for consumers down 40% or more.

How do you use random generators yourself?

I've used them in my video game and my writing mostly.

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

I really like Donjon - and still do.

They've inspired some of the generators I've built at LitRPG Adventures as I tried to expand on their high-quality with GPT-3, one of the largest neural net language models in the world right now.

There are a lot of websites that also offer a lot of great random content generation tools and information.

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

Skynet is a computer network that will control the world's militaries and... Oh, wait. I forgot. I'm not supposed to mention that part. (Small smile.)

I'm currently working on improving LitRPG Adventures. The generators I built were originally meant to be behind the scenes for a game. However, due to pricing and not being able to finish all the coding myself, I instead pivoted and opened up all the generators I'd built to the public.

I'm planning on adding new generators and also other community features to the site like rating all the content to more easily find the best stuff and a lot more.

Eventually, I'd like to finish the 2D-text based MMORPG idea I've had. I really think GPT-3 (or GPT-4) will be able to make an incredible fantasy RPG.

Where can people find you on social media?

I've also got some websites where I give away free RPG content generated by GPT-3 and edited by me...

Is there anything else you would like to talk about?

I'd just like to thank you for this opportunity to talk about LitRPG Adventures and my experience with random generators. Keep up the great work on your own projects!

More Interviews

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.