Table and Charts
from RPGs, we’ve reviewed
It has been 8 years since Rolling Boxcars’ first posting. We’ve come a long way, covering a variety of topics related to our hobby, tabletop gaming. In that time, our family has grown with new contributors entering while some exited. What has remained is a wealth of knowledge, insight into many game systems, and a lot of reviews. Perusing our catalog, we thought it would be fun to come together, the contributors, and take a look at our favorite tables and charts from the games we’ve reviewed. Each contributor submitted five tables or charts from our reviewed list of games. From the pool of entries, we streamlined it down to our top ten. To make the selection fair, each contributor judged each table and chart on its flexibility, creativity, originality, usefulness, and personal preference. Each category received a score from 1 to 5. The five results were added together for a final total determining the order of importance. Below are Rolling Boxcars Top Ten Reviewed Table and Charts.
~ Rolling Boxcars Staff
#10 – So You Decided To Make Camp
Hubris: A World of Visceral Adventure — Table 6-6, page 242
It has been a long day of adventuring. You’re tired. It is time to make camp. “So You Decided To Make Camp” provides 20 randomly rolled outcomes for camping. It is a mix of results for the whole party and single characters in one chart. A couple of our favorite results include waking up to find your face swollen with bug bites that impede social interactions for the day and a character asleep on watch suddenly waking to discover a spider has taken up residence in their open mouth, but the best is waking up to find a fungus growing on your persons that smell like cotton candy. Most of the results are detrimental to the characters, but there are a few that are not.
#09 – Space Madness Table
Red Dwarf The Roleplaying Game — pages 122-123
You’re going into quarantine for five days with the minimum leisure facilities in accordance with Space Corps directive 312. In the storage cupboard is a chess set with thirty-one missing pieces, a knitting magazine with a pull-out special on crocheted hats, a puzzle magazine with all the crosswords completed, and a video of “Wall-papering, Painting, and Stippling – a DIY guide.” Yeah, you’re going to go crazy. Time to roll on the “Space Madness” table. The Space Madness Table is for when a character goes bonkers. In Red Dwarf, The Roleplaying game, it is the result of a critically failed fear check. But beyond the simple run and scream, the Space Madness Table has collected 66 maddening effects. Some of the more humorous results are the compulsion to wear a costume for days, breaks into show tune when hearing a trigger word, and severe depression where the character dresses in all black and listens to old Cure and Bauhaus CDs and must write dark, gothy poetry to the gamemasters satisfaction. That last one must be in every RPG with a mental/sanity mechanic.
#08 – Place of Birth
Heinrich’s Call of Cthulhu Guide to Character Creation — page 13
Many players desire to give their characters more depth and a sense of being by creating backstories. Often overlooked are the foundational beginnings; knowing where one got their start may set the tone for what one becomes later in life. The “Place of Birth” table has you covered; a simple percentile roll offers the usual places you might expect, like the hospital or family home. The places further afield provide a more colorful beginning, such as a prison cell, a barn, a brothel, or even a castle or back alley. Don’t be dissuaded by this book’s title; much of its contents are system neutral and will work with most other games.
#07 – d10 Occult Treasures
Mörk Borg — Inside front cover
One of the greatest joys of learning to play D&D is discovering all the cool magic items. Call of Cthulhu tends to make you terrified of magic items. Mörk Borg does both. All of these magic items are potentially useful to players. And all of them are wonderfully nasty. An ancient blindfold that, when worn, makes you invisible to the living and hated by the undead. Hated so much that it animates corpses. An ash-grey ring that obliterates anything that passes through it. A famine spoon that will make anyone who eats with it die of slow starvation. Every item here is full of usefulness and death metal horror, just like Mörk Borg.
#06 – Regular Useful Items
DuckQuest: Quack Starter Edition— page 26
One of the magic items in DuckQuest is Schrödinger’s Backpack. It is full of “regular useful items,” suggesting that it might be given to an adventuring party to get things started. Whenever the players want something they can convince the GM might be a regular useful item, they roll a d12. On any roll but a 1, it is there. On a 1, it was “forgotten,” and further rolls are made with a d10 (then a d8, d6, d4, d2, then empty). What might regular useful items be? A handy list is provided. Things like 51 feet of rope, the cookbook 50 Shades of Gravy, a bag of marbles, fishing gear, Maxwell’s Silver Hammer, a chocolate bar, a small thermonuclear device, etc. The magic item itself is a great idea and certainly portable to more “serious” games. And the list of items sets the done for a game like DuckQuest perfectly.
#05 – Random Adventure Generator
Ghostbusters– Random Adventure Generator — page 49
We know who to call but who is going to call them? Ghostbusters’ Random Adventure Generator is the Ghostmaster’s tool for creating adventures. It used three columns, each with 66 outcomes, to spark creativity. The first column is for those who need help. Some of the weirder examples are Mafioso, someone from the Revolutionary Communist Party, and a jerk from Jersey (The U.S. state, not the island between Great Britain and France). The second column is where the problem is. Most of the locations are quite normal for the greater Manhatten area, but there are a few nostalgic gems within, like Crazy Eddie (a regional now-defunct electronics store known for the manic spokesperson) and Ripley’s Believe or Not Odditorium. The third and last is What is happening: Loch Ness-type monster, arrogant ghost, animated vegetation, and more. Rolling randomly, you can come up with some wild plots.
#04 – Neil’s Curiosity Shop and Selected Oddities
Arkham Gazette Vol 4: Kingsport Dreams — pages 29-33
Curiosities, oddities, tchotchke, knickknacks, dust collectors, or whatever you call them, Neil’s shop is full of them. A 100 strange and mysterious item line the shelves of this Kingsport, MA, store. Items within include a copy of A Pickle for Knowing Ones by “Lord” Timothy Dexter, a stuffed passenger pigeon, a bronzed irregular ovoid shape mounted on a wooden plaque, possibly a potato, a model of President Lincoln’s funeral train made with matchsticks, and lacquer, a still-born two-headed lamb in formaldehyde, and a set of roughly carved whalebone chess pieces. When you enter Neil Curiosity shop, you’ll never know what you will find.
#03 – Tales From The Street
Cyberpunk Red — pages 45-53
Character generation in the original Traveller RPG gave you a history of the types of things your character did. The original Star Trek RPG took you through Star Fleet Academy and various tours in the fleet. Cyberpunk 2020 and, most recently, Cyberpunk Red, deliver this for your Cyberpunk character. It is full of tables you can roll or pick from, giving details on your character’s birthplace, childhood, family, mentors, employers, lovers, enemies, etc. A Cyberpunk character isn’t a blank slate. They are someone who has lived and has a LifePath that is filled with adventure ideas and background details. I’ve become a fan of random rolls on these sorts of tables, giving the possibility of some rather unusual but totally genre-appropriate characters.
#02 – Critical Injuries
Alien RPG — various pages
You may have noticed in the Alien movies, characters tend to meet violent ends, Aliens bursting out of their chests. Faces sprayed by acid blood. With the Critical Injuries Table from the Alien RPG, your character can share in this fun. All of Free League’s Year Zero Engine RPGs have some variant of this, but it just seems so perfect for Alien. While I’ve made light of the injuries in the Alien setting, the Critical Injuries tables are absolutely appropriate for the genre ranging from minor annoyances (winded, sprained ankle) to more severe injuries (broken bones, eyes gouged, teeth knocked out, etc.) to potentially fatal (punctured lung, severed limb, etc.) to gory instant deaths (disemboweled, crushed skull).
#01 – D100 Patches
Mothership — page 20
Patches are something everyone can use. Whether it is to define one’s rank or standing in an organization or a way to express a personal interest, there are patches for that. In Mothership RPG, characters roll on d100 to randomly choose a patch for their uniform. Some of the patches say, “Powered by Coffee,” “IF I’M RUNNING KEEP UP” (for backpacks), “Eat the Rich,” and “Travel to Distant Exotic Places / Meet Unusally Things / Get Eaten.” Each one of them is for embellishing a character and is fun to point at during an adventure when applicable. It is by far the most unique table that has crossed our review bookshelf, and it is no surprise that it ranked as high as it did.
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