If you haven’t been living under a rock, you have probably heard about ChatGPT, the new(ish) AI chat bot released in late 2022. You can access ChatGPT for free here, though you do have to make an account.
I recently experimented with ChatGPT as a means of helping game prep and here are some of the results:
Certainly! Here are some ways that I can be useful to readers of Gnomestew for use in RPGs:
- I can provide information on a wide range of topics related to RPGs, including game mechanics, worldbuilding, character development, and storytelling techniques.
- I can offer advice and suggestions for players and game masters who are looking to improve their skills and take their games to the next level.
- I can provide inspiration and ideas for campaign settings, NPCs, quests, and other elements of RPGs.
- I can help answer specific questions that readers may have about rules, lore, or other aspects of RPGs.
- I can assist with character creation, including generating names, backstories, and personality traits for player characters.
- I can help with game preparation, such as generating encounter tables, creating maps, and developing plot hooks.
- I can provide references and resources for readers who are looking to deepen their understanding of RPGs or find new games to play.
Overall, I can be a valuable resource for anyone looking to improve their RPG skills, whether they are a seasoned veteran or a newcomer to the hobby.
Now, looking over that list I would be wary about specific questions about rules. ChatGPT tends to have problems with accuracy in specifics. For example, I asked ChatGPT to explain the rules for critical hits in DnD to me across various editions and got a response with several errors in it. Similarly, “providing references and resources” seems sketchy to me. Every link ChatGPT has given me so far has been broken (which makes sense since it probably sees links as just another type of text to generate). I’m also skeptical about helping with maps, since ChatGPT is text only, but the rest of this list looks pretty solid to me. Let’s look at some example requests I made and results I got:
I asked: “Hi there ChatGPT! I am working on a fantasy urban crawl and I need some generic gang members who belong to a gang called The Mumble Men. The Mumble Men are made up of mostly humans and kenku (but have other races too) and dress in all black and are perpetually silent. Secretly they are associated with the management of a local theatre company. Can you give me a couple examples please?”
Note that I am being very specific and giving lots of details. ChatGPT handles details well and incorporates them in its responses. Note also, that I am starting my questions with “ChatGPT,” or some such opening. That’s not strictly necessary. It just feels natural to me and ChatGPT doesn’t seem to have any problems with it.
This is the response I got:
Sure, here are a few examples of generic gang members who belong to The Mumble Men for your fantasy urban crawl:
- Shadow: Shadow is a tall and lean human who always wears a black leather jacket with matching pants and boots. He is a skilled pickpocket and can disappear into the shadows in an instant. He rarely speaks, but when he does, his voice is a low, gravelly whisper.
- Raven: Raven is a kenku who wears a black hoodie with a large, feathered collar. He is known for his sharp mind and quick wit, which he uses to great effect when negotiating deals for The Mumble Men. Despite his small size, he is a formidable fighter and is often tasked with handling more physical jobs.
- Whisper: Whisper is a human woman who wears a black cloak and carries a pair of daggers at her waist. She is an expert at stealth and is often tasked with scouting out new locations for The Mumble Men’s operations. She rarely speaks above a whisper, hence her name, and is known for her cunning and intelligence.
- The Twins: These two identical twin kenku, who dress in matching black suits and white shirts, are the face of The Mumble Men’s theater company. They are always seen together and can finish each other’s sentences, making it impossible to tell them apart. They are skilled at deceiving their clients and have a reputation for being shrewd negotiators.
- Nightshade: Nightshade is a half-elf who dresses in all black leather armor and wields a pair of short swords. He is the enforcer for The Mumble Men and is not afraid to use violence to get what he wants. Despite his rough exterior, he has a soft spot for the theater and often attends performances in his spare time.
I hope these examples help inspire your writing!
Those all seem useable to me. In a similar vein I gave ChatGPT a list of the district names from my stalled urban crawl project and asked about heists and weird magic. Here is a selection of the results:
- The Boat Heist – In the Floating Market district, a wealthy merchant is transporting a valuable cargo of exotic spices and rare herbs on their boat. The players must either steal the cargo or sabotage the boat while it’s in transit, navigating the bustling marketplace and avoiding the watchful eyes of the local authorities.
- The Guild Heist – In Artisan’s Alley, a group of thieves is planning to break into the headquarters of a powerful guild and steal their most valuable secrets. The guild is heavily guarded, but the players have an advantage: they’ve been hired by a rival guild to obtain the same secrets. The players must either steal the secrets themselves or help the thieves pull off the heist without being detected.
- The Poison Heist – In The Itch, a notorious gang of criminals is planning to poison the city’s water supply with a deadly toxin, holding the citizens hostage until their demands are met. The players must infiltrate the gang’s hideout, steal the antidote to the poison, and either stop the gang or use the antidote to save the city.
- The Floating Market – In this district, the waters of the lake are inhabited by giant jellyfish that float through the air instead of swimming through the water. They’re harmless to the players but can be a nuisance, knocking into buildings and disrupting trade. Some of the merchants in the market have taken advantage of the jellyfish by using them as living balloons to display their wares.
- Artisan’s Alley – In this district, all of the artwork and crafts made by the artisans are alive and sentient. The paintings on the walls move and talk, the sculptures come to life at night and dance through the streets, and the textiles crawl and wriggle like living creatures. The artisans have learned to communicate with their creations and use them to perform incredible feats of artistry.
- The Fortress District – In this district, the walls of the fortress are alive and constantly shifting. They’re covered in eyes and mouths that speak in strange tongues and watch the players’ every move. The fortress’s defenses are also strange and unusual, with traps that turn the players’ minds inside out, walls that dissolve into acid, and doors that lead to other planes of existence. The players must navigate the fortress and its defenses to reach their goal.
The results I got from ChatGPT need an editorial eye. For example, I don’t want living art for everything produced in Artisan’s Alley, but some of it being alive is really cool (and exactly what I had come up with on my own by coincidence). You also have to pick and choose the results you like but you can always ask for more generated content until you get enough that suits your tastes.
So asking ChatGPT for adventure elements, NPCs and the like seems to give good results with a bit of editing. What about writing scenarios and adventures?
I asked: “OK ChatGPT, I am running a campaign set in a dark science fantasy game with elements of the genres of horror, fantasy, and science fiction. My character is a technomancer spy with a robot assistant and her own ship. Help me outline an adventure to run for her please.”
Sure! Here’s an outline for an adventure that could fit the setting you described:
Adventure Name: The Ghost Ship
Synopsis: Your character receives a distress signal from a ship that disappeared years ago, the S.S. Excelsior, which was carrying a valuable piece of technology that could change the balance of power in the galaxy. The signal is coming from a distant planet that is said to be cursed and haunted by evil spirits. Your character must travel to the planet, find the ship, and retrieve the technology before it falls into the wrong hands.
Act 1: Arrival on the Haunted Planet
- Your character arrives on the planet and encounters a group of scavengers who are also searching for the S.S. Excelsior. They are willing to team up, but only if your character shares the reward with them.
- The planet is shrouded in a thick fog, and strange noises and whispers can be heard in the distance.
- The scavengers lead your character to an abandoned research facility where they believe the ship’s distress signal is coming from.
Act 2: The Haunted Research Facility
- The facility is in a state of disrepair, with broken equipment and flickering lights.
- Your character and the scavengers encounter hostile creatures that have been mutated by the research experiments.
- Your character must solve puzzles and hack computer systems to unlock doors and access the ship’s location.
- Your character discovers that the research facility was experimenting with a dangerous technology that could allow communication with the dead, and that the ship’s crew may have been killed by vengeful spirits.
Act 3: The Ghost Ship
- Your character and the scavengers finally reach the S.S. Excelsior, which is floating in orbit above the planet.
- The ship’s systems are malfunctioning, and the ship is filled with dangerous traps and puzzles left behind by the ship’s former captain, who was obsessed with the afterlife.
- Your character must fight off the ship’s security system and ghosts that haunt the ship to retrieve the valuable technology.
- In the end, your character can either keep the technology for themselves, destroy it, or hand it over to the authorities.
I hope this adventure outline gives you some ideas for your campaign! Let me know if you have any questions or if there’s anything else I can assist you with.
That’s not perfect. For example, the ship being in orbit in act 3, makes act 1 and 2 superfluous, but with some editing this is a decent outline for a session or two. So far everything created has been system neutral. Let’s see how ChatGPT handles mechanics:
“ChatGPT, the system I am using for this adventure is Fate Accelerated Edition. Can you stat out the group of scavengers from act 1 for me please?”
Sure, here are some example stats for the group of scavengers you mentioned, in the Fate Accelerated Edition system:
Name: The Salvage Crew
High Concept: Ruthless scavengers searching for valuable technology
Trouble: Desperate and willing to betray anyone for a chance at a big score
- Careful: +1
- Clever: +1
- Flashy: 0
- Forceful: +2
- Quick: +2
- Sneaky: +1
- Physical Stress: [ ] [ ] [ ]
- Mental Stress: [ ] [ ]
- Mild: Scavenger’s Injury
- Moderate: Scavenger’s Betrayal
- Severe: Scavenger’s Revenge
As with all Fate Accelerated Edition characters, you can customize these stats and aspects to fit your specific campaign and playstyle. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any further questions!
That’s not really what I wanted. This is statted out as a PC, not a mook like I was expecting. That said, it’s really good for statting out as a PC, which the game does recommend for major villains and I didn’t specify I wanted mooks, so maybe that’s on me. Let’s ask it to have another go. After several tries, the request that got the correct response was: “ChatGPT, can you stat them out as mooks using the name, two aspects, things they are good at and thing they are bad at, and stress notation please?”
Sure, here’s an example of how you could stat the scavengers as mooks in Fate Accelerated Edition:
Name: Salvage Crew Mooks
- Desperate and Ruthless
- Always Looking for a Big Score
- Scavenging and Finding Hidden Treasures
- Sneaking and Ambushing Targets
- Fighting Fairly and with Honor
- Resisting Temptations and Greed
- Physical Stress: [ ] [ ]
- Mental Stress: [ ] [ ]
These mooks are intended to be easily defeated in combat and to serve as minions or underlings for more powerful NPCs. You can use them in groups or individually, and adjust their stats as needed for the specific encounter. I hope this helps!
Getting mooks took some work, but maybe Fate Accelerated Edition isn’t a popular enough system to get quick easy results. Let’s try DnD 5e:
“Now can you stat them out for DnD 5e please?”
Sure, here’s an example of how you could stat the scavengers as a group in DnD 5e:
Name: Salvage Crew
Size: Medium (4-6 members)
Armor Class: 12 (leather armor)
Hit Points: 27 (6d8)
Speed: 30 ft.
- Str: 14 (+2)
- Dex: 12 (+1)
- Con: 12 (+1)
- Int: 10 (+0)
- Wis: 8 (-1)
- Cha: 8 (-1)
- Perception: +1
- Stealth: +3
- Multiattack: The Salvage Crew makes two melee attacks.
- Melee Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 2) piercing damage.
- Ranged Attack: +3 to hit, range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d8 + 1) piercing damage.
- Short sword or hand axe (melee attack)
- Light crossbow (ranged attack)
- Leather armor
These stats are just an example, and you can adjust them as needed for your specific campaign and encounter. Additionally, you can give them unique abilities or traits that fit their character and the setting of your game. I hope this helps, and let me know if you have any further questions!
That’s pretty impressive for a first shot and game usable. I’d consider that a win. While we’re creating content, I thought I would ask for a room for my dungeon23 (which like most of my projects has also stalled out)
“A current project that is going around the internet is Dungeon23, where you create a dungeon room every day of the year. Can you create a system agnostic dungeon room for me for level 2 of a dungeon?”
Sure, here’s an example of a system-agnostic dungeon room for level 2:
Room Name: The Stone Crypt
Description: The room is a rectangular chamber with smooth stone walls, floor, and ceiling. In the center of the room, there is a stone sarcophagus that appears to be sealed shut. The air in the room is cool and dry, and there is a faint scent of incense.
- Stone Sarcophagus: The sarcophagus is made of heavy stone and appears to be sealed shut. It is engraved with intricate patterns and symbols, and radiates a faint magical aura.
- Ancient Runes: The walls of the room are covered in ancient runes, which can be deciphered with a successful Intelligence check (DC 15). The runes describe a ritual for opening the sarcophagus, but also warn of danger to those who attempt to disturb the resting place of the occupant.
- Pressure Plate: A pressure plate is hidden in the floor in front of the sarcophagus. If triggered, it will cause a stone block to fall from the ceiling and strike anyone in the room (Dexterity save DC 12 to avoid).
- Hidden Compartment: A hidden compartment is located behind one of the walls, which can be found with a successful Wisdom (Perception) check (DC 18). Inside, there is a small cache of treasure (2d6 x 50 gold pieces).
- Undead Guardian: The occupant of the sarcophagus is an undead guardian, awakened by the disturbance in the room. It will attack any intruders and attempt to defend the resting place. (Undead guardian stats can be determined based on your preferred system and level of challenge).
- Cultists: A group of cultists has taken up residence in the room, drawn by the magical energy of the sarcophagus. They are attempting to decipher the runes and perform the ritual to open the sarcophagus, but are willing to negotiate with the players if approached peacefully.
I hope this gives you a good starting point for your Dungeon23 project! Let me know if you have any further questions or if there’s anything else I can help you with.
That’s not bad! It’s a little too busy and isn’t exactly system agnostic but it’s got enough material there to use for a couple rooms.
Finally, not that I’m looking to put myself out of a job or anything but I thought I would have it generate some of the GMing advice it said it could create.
“Thank you ChatGPT. Can you give me some brief bullet points on how to be a good GM for a starting player?”
Certainly! Here are some brief bullet points on how to be a good GM for a starting player:
- Be patient and understanding, and take the time to explain rules and mechanics in a clear and concise way.
- Create a welcoming and inclusive environment for all players, regardless of experience level or background.
- Focus on collaborative storytelling rather than winning or losing, and encourage players to be creative and express themselves through their characters.
- Help players create characters that fit within the game world and have goals and motivations that drive the story forward.
- Provide opportunities for players to explore and interact with the game world, and be responsive to their actions and decisions.
- Give feedback and guidance when necessary, but also allow players to make their own choices and mistakes.
- Use your knowledge of the game mechanics and story to create engaging and challenging scenarios, but also be willing to adjust and adapt to suit the players’ needs.
- Encourage players to learn and grow, both in terms of their characters and their understanding of the game.
- Be open to feedback and communication, and work with players to address any issues or concerns that arise.
I hope these bullet points are helpful! Let me know if you have any other questions or if there’s anything else I can assist you with.
That’s not bad advice. Maybe I did put myself out of a job.
ChatGPT seems to be a solid tool for generating content, and a passable tool for plotting adventures. I found the following to be best practices:
- A simple conversational style works great. No need for specific syntax.
- Give it lots of details: genre, setting, placenames, etc…
- Tell it what format you want: bullet points, stats, etc…
- Don’t rely on it too much for accurate information or links
- Don’t expect complete consistency. It can change details from paragraph to paragraph.
- Do rely on it for creative ideas and content
If you’ve tried out ChatGPT for RPG purposes and have any tips or tricks or want to share some particularly great content it’s created for you, drop it in the comments! We’d love to hear it!
One thing I have found useful when using it to create characters is you can also also ask it to provide justifications for its choices.
I’ve been using ChatGPT for generating NPCs, locations, and some random encounters/hazards (mostly for building tables, as it’s really good at throwing you creative curveballs and keeping you from just doing another bandit, bear, or goblin encounter).
Where I’ve taken it a step further is that I had it generate a couple languages for me. It took some practice to get what I want without it just defaulting to LotR dwarven or a nearly identical real world language, but after a few attempts, I was able to get a good description of the language, and then use that to ask it to generate names for cities, NPCs, geographical features, and similar. It’s helped a lot with keeping a consistent feel to a population, while also providing a good diversity of names that feel familiar, but not quite the “Bob”, “John”, etc. of any given language. It’ll also give me translations of the names, so I can check against real world languages (just to be sure), and use them for inspiration as to the their personality, appearance, or role.
Some examples from the language Zarivian, which I asked it use inspiration from Russian, Ukrainian, Polish, Arabic, French:
Gorgant: meaning “Giant”, a city known for its impressive architecture and towering buildings.
Svityv: meaning “Holy”, a city known for its many temples and sacred sites, where pilgrims come to seek enlightenment.
Zoryank: meaning “Starlight”, a small town on the edge of a desert, where the night sky is full of stars.
Velilkar: [no translation given] a mountain range that runs through the heart of a country.
Yavirnavik: meaning “Maple Hill”, a hill covered in beautiful, vibrant maple trees.
Illira: a common name for girls meaning “silver”.
Marvin: a popular boys name meaning “friend of the sea”.
Mariya: a name meaning “hardness”, it is a name that evokes the idea of strength through hardship.
Alimar: a name meaning “noble and virtuous”.
Some of these strike closer to actual meanings in some languages, some are close to actual names but with different given meanings, and some given were just straight-up regurgitating words from another language with a translation (not so useful, but often easier to pick out, as it usually does so for the whole prompt, not just one or two in a batch).
I’m working to continue refining its language generation, so I can find something that’s more consistent and doesn’t gradually lean toward one language or another, but while it takes some effort to filter through suggestions, I’ve gotten some good inspiration and names from what it has given me. It can also give descriptions of the language itself – it’s phonemes, grammar, writing system, etc.
One trick I found useful is to first ask the AI to assume NPC’s identity, and then ask it about character details, such as layout of their base, weaknesses in their master plan that they fear somebody could exploit, their motivation and their past.
Since you asked … I’ve used it for several things with varying levels of success. As for constructing dungeons or plotting adventures it seems pretty rote but can, on occasion, throw an interesting twist that the DM can utilize. I had it write the actual oath sworn by an Oath of Protection paladin. Twelve lines, nicely crafted. Added a nice touch of flavor and verisimilitude to the table.
Have an Assassins Guild staffed by the Seven Dwarves. CGPT did a nice job assigning a specific MO to each of them based on their character traits. Doc uses poison. Grumpy bludgeons. etc.
I’ve used a RNG table to give me adventure/quest ideas, fed the bare-bones results into CGPT and had it spit out some nice fleshed out adventures. They DO have a tendency to be quite railroadish however, often dependent on the party taking a particular action at a particular juncture. Fixable though.
My favorite effort was in having it write an off-stage fight between a paladin and a small group of low level deamons. CGPT wrote the encounter VERY well, utilizing the class skills better than my players often do! But the writing seemed a bit …. flat. So I requested a re-write in the styles of Tolkien, Martin, Cherryh, Doyle, Poe ….. and DR. Seuss! With the exception of the last one the changes were mostly with adjectives and adverbs but each usable in it’s own way.
All in all a useful tool, but never a replacement!