Gary Gygax, creator of Dungeons & Dragons, really wanted to get his money’s worth when it came to the various dice used to play the game. That’s the only possible explanation for the overwhelming number of tables inside the AD&D 1st Edition of the Dungeon Master’s Guide. Gygax wanted players to roll for practically everything, from how religious NPCs could be to how often players would most likely run into a dinosaur in specific climates. It’s wild stuff, but these tables are even wilder.
1) Chance of Contracting Disease
Imagine being so devoted to gameplay over storytelling you forced your players to periodically roll to see if they randomly got sick. Especially when the base chance of contracting a disease is only two per cent, and most of the modifiers are one! But the most insane about this table? It’s the fourth one in the DM’s Guide, located on page 13.
2) Chance of Parasitic Infection
Did your character roll themselves a disease? Well, then now you’ve got to figure out what they’re sick with, which is of course another table. In fact, there’s a table for the results of Contracting a Disease, and then there’s an entirely separate table for whether they received a parasitic infection. If they botch that roll, then the DM must determine the consequences on this table.
3) Wall Climbing Table
Want your players to spend 10 minutes and a dozen rolls trying to climb a wall instead of 20 seconds and a single die roll? Does Gygax have a table for you!
4) Were-Creature Getting Hurt by Armour While Transforming Table
For those who care about the verisimilitude of armour-wearing lycanthropes in their medieval fantasy entertainment.
5) Gem Increase or Decrease of Worth Beyond Base Value
There’s certainly a realism to this chart, given that different locations surely have different markets for different gems. That said, a good DM could just choose this. Also please note some of these results require additional rolls.
6) Loyalty of Henchmen and Allied Creatures
Honestly, this is a perfectly good table, and one that can enrich your game session by giving NPCs more individuality. What you’re not seeing is the two pages of modifiers to the percentile roll, including Enrollment or Association, Length of Enrollment or Association, Training or Status Level, Pay or Treasure Shared, Discipline/Activity, General Treatment by Liege, Racial Preference (yes, really), Alignment Factors, Alignment of Liege, Special Considerations, and Situation Modifiers.
7) Frequency of Encounter Chance Time Checks
Nothing wrong with a random encounter table; in fact, it’s a stalwart part of any good D&D session. And it makes good sense that more attacks happen at night in the cover of darkness than otherwise. But if someone could explain to me why adventurers are perfectly safe in hills in the morning, evening, and midnight, but not noon, night, or pre-dawn that would be great.
8) Chance of Hearing Noise by Race
I’ll just leave this one here.
9) Chance of Monk Stunning/Killing Opponent by Height
So the better a monk you are, the very slightly taller opponent you can punch? I’m not sure that makes sense, and this is a game where dragon bones can fly.
10) THE PUMMELLING TABLE
This is yet another way to vastly overcomplicate what should be a simple roll, but it’s really just on here because I love that it’s called THE PUMMELLING TABLE in all caps.
11) Types of Insanity
Oh, it’s insane to be depressed? Good to know, Gary. That said, I enjoy the idea of some weird wizard who decides to curse a PC by turning them into a BDSM enthusiast.
12) Non-Player Character Facts and Traits Tables
Nothing wrong with rolling up an NPC. The problems start when you decide you need 23 separate rolls to create an NPC, including randomly choosing their Disposition, Intellect, Materialism, Energy, Honesty, Thrift, Morals, Piety, and so on. Because then you could end up with a modest, cheerful, jealous, anti-intellectual, slothful, lusty, craven spendthrift.
13) Humanoid Racial Preferences Table
Roll for racism! I’m joking! No one needs to roll; in AD&D 1st Edition, basically everyone is racist.
14) Mining: Cubic Volume of Rock Per Eight Hours Labour Per Miner
For all those adventurers who would rather mine instead of, uh, going on adventures. This is followed by a table for how many people can fit in a 3.05 m-wide mineshaft, which is of course also determined by race.
15) Cursed Scroll Result Table
When a player finds a magic scroll of unknown contents, the DM rolls d100 to see what’s on it. Most of the time it’s a number of spells, others offer protection against something-or-other. If you roll 98-100, however, you go to this curse table, which I have included mainly because there is a 1-in-20 chance the player-character who found it will get straight-up liquified. No saving throw!
16) Bag of Beans Results List
I’ve included this mainly because I didn’t realise a Bag of Beans was essentially a cursed item where almost everything you plant is going to harm if not kill you outright. Also, a 2×4-foot bag is much, much too large to be carrying 12 beans.
17) Non-Alignment Languages Spoken by Sword
I’m just trying to imagine a conversation between an NPC sword and an NPC character spoken in a language none of the players understand and not wanting to immediately quit the game in irritation.
18) Random Underwater Encounters in Large Bodies of Salt Water
Not to be confused with the Random Underwater Encounters in Large Bodies of Fresh Water table.
19) Random Monster Encounters: Temperate and Sub-Tropical Conditions: Uninhabited/Wilderness Regions: Frog Subtable
Gary. Come on, man.
20) Random Harlot Table
The one, the only. Many people think this was a fake something photoshopped together long after the fact, but let me assure you: the Random Harlot Table is very, very much in the real Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Dungeon Master’s Guide for all of a DM’s random harlot needs. Gygax doesn’t go into any detail about what makes a brazen strumpet different from a wanton wench, but this is almost certainly for the best.
21) Random Generation of Creatures From the Lower Planes: Body Odor Table
Self-explanatory, I’d say.
22) Unexplained Sounds and Weird Noises Table
I actually really love this table of weird noises you can randomly fill your dungeon with. I also enjoy the idea of Gary Gygax hunched over his desk, trying desperately to think of nearly 60 different sounds to include in this table, then finally relenting and adding “gong.”
23) Miscellaneous Utensils and Personal Items
Roll for fork! I said, roll for fork, goddammit.
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