Based on the positive response from the my recent d100 random generator, Fantasy Wagon Train, I thought I would present another – this time along the lines of a suggestion user Randite made in the comments.
So back beneath the shade tree my daughter and I went, iPad in hand. While a new batch of terrain-making plaster set, we brainstormed about the sorts of appropriate, yet sometimes strange and interesting folk you might encounter in a fantasy world’s version of a rest stop.
Perhaps your caravan has arrived at a roadside inn, oasis, caravanserai, way station or some type of land-based port along the merchant trail. These hubs were often busy places — no less so than their ocean voyage counterparts, ports of call.
But what nonplayer characters populate these stopovers? The players will want to know, so their characters can interact with them.
The staff of the caravanserai / wayside hostel is static, and includes the following. If you want, roll a d10 to determine your “spotlight” character for a possible encounter.
- 1-2 Corral master. Rugged and easy-going, this person guards all mounts placed in the corral, which is adjacent to the station.
- 3-4 Groom. Provides care, food and water to all the mounts in the corral; also tends to animal companions for a small fee. Has an air of competence.
- 5-6 Cook and two assistants. Prepares evening meal for travelers. The best thing said of their meals is that they are hot and filling.
- 7-8 Day maids. Four young adults who clean the station, including the kitchen, change bedding in those few station rooms for let.
- 9-10 Servers. Three people who draw drinks from the bar and deliver meals to patrons. One is a young adult, one is middle aged and the other is an octogenarian.
To populate the current visitors to the caravanserai, roll a d10 for each breakout category, or roll a d100 on the following chart 2d6 times to get a truly random assortment.
- 1-10 Military
- 11-20 Officials
- 21-30 Guides
- 31-40 Locals and hangers-on
- 41-50 Spies and ne’er do wells
- 51-60 Entertainers
- 61-70 Caravan leaders
- 71-80 Caravan services
- 81-90 Sellers at local bazaar
- 91-100 Adventurers
Now, roll d10 on each of the following charts as required by rolls above:
- 1-2 Cavalry patrol. 2d6+4 troopers with light mounts and small flails. Will stay only long enough to feed and water mounts, deliver any messages.
- 3-4 Foot patrol. 2d4+10 infantry soldiers on the march. They are armed with short swords, javelins, wear scale mail and carry small shields.
- 5-6 Mounted courier. Unarmored rider with saddlebags and small crossbow.
- 7-8 Foot courier. Unarmored messenger with satchel and small hand crossbow.
- 9-10 Skirmisher unit. 3d8 skirmishers and their captain, in leather armor, armed with scimitars and javelins, on detached duty.
- 1-2 Assessor. Boastful of the authority granted in the office, makes detailed review of merchant manifests and is a stickler for details, making sure every tax and fee is paid in full.
- 3-4 Inspector. Lazy and bored official who only makes cursory inspections of merchants trains and tries to hand-wave nearly everything through.
- 5-6 Clerk. Ink-stained fingertips and a habit of rubbing an itchy nose with the back of the hand mark this studious figure.
- 7-8 Notary. An upturned nose and a sigh greet each request to formalize documents and contracts.
- 9-10 Cartographer. Works at a small writing table and bench. Dutifully listens to accounts of adventurers and travelers, making notes so future maps can be made more accurately.
- 1-2 Military scout. Professional on retainer by the crown who is available to guide military units.
- 3-4 Wizened tracker. Seasoned outdoorsman who can pick up just about any trail.
- 5-6 Backwoods explorer. Rugged, lonesome person lacking social skills who is familiar with the wildlife and monsters of the region.
- 7-8 Fey spirit guide. Lithe person with likely fey bloodline, possessing connections to the fey world who knows the perils and pitfalls of those interactions.
- 9-10 Young tracker. Only recently completed training and who is eager to start leading others on their own; enthusiastic and affable.
Locals and hangers-on
- 1-2 Professional gambler. Runs a table with a stakes game for either cards or dice.
- 3-4 Panhandler. Begs on stoop entrance, not allowed in the main building.
- 5-6 Baker’s wife. Makes a daily delivery of two fruit pies and two meat pies.
- 7-8 Dreamer. A local resident who comes in and converses with travelers to learn news and descriptions of far away places.
- 9-10 Day laborer. Strong, hefty person who offers to do heavy lifting for a fee.
Spies and ne’er do wells
- 1-2 Horse thief. Never been caught. Sometimes brazenly offers services as a guide in the busy season; knows all the back trails.
- 3-4 Bandit associate. Disguised as merchant and provides bandit chief with information about meaty targets, such as richly stocked and/or poorly defended ones on merchant trains.
- 5-6 Evil wizard. Looking to steal expensive or exotic spell components.
- 7-8 Zealot. Druid who wants to free all domesticated animals.
- 9-10 Fey trickster. Offers their services as a guide to lead caravans astray.
- 1-2 Wandering lute. Accompanied only by an apprentice, this handsome and charming troubadour has a knack for love ballads, some of which are apparently drawn from experience. The lute player is always eager for more experiences.
- 3-4 Exotic dancers. This troupe accompanied a caravan from faraway lands, and incorporates juggling, acrobatics and daring-do with curved blades and scimitars in its performance. Within the troupe is a secret, a reason why they left their homeland.
- 5-6 Duelist. A skald and retinue from northern climes. This bold storyteller of great deeds takes offense at interruption, and will demand an immediate apology or will offer a challenge of duel with axes within a circle as tradition demands.
- 7-8 Scamp. For this one, the path of a bard is a dodge, a way to skirt obligations, such as military service or a marriage. Beware, this one likes to skip out on paying for rooms to let, as well.
- 9-10 Cantor. Some voices are heaven-sent, and this one holds the audience spellbound. This one sings with divine influence, of worthwhile and wholesome things, a faithful adherent to an obscure faith community.
- 1-2 Rich merchant’s servant. A familiar face who has guided numerous trade caravans on long journeys through this area. A discriminating person who is wary of bandits, a good judge of character and knows a wise deal when he sees it
- 3-4 Smuggler. Poses as a legitimate caravan captain, but beneath the false bottoms of wagons, barrels and crates, carries contraband across the border. A charmer.
- 5-6 Second string. Uncertain and anxious, this person was pressed into a position of authority after the predesessor died/killed during the journey.
- 7-8 Favored child. A merchant prince’s son or daughter (though still an adult) has been placed in command of this train to prove their worthiness to take over the family business. Eager to succeed, but this person chafes under the counsel of the more experienced chaperone.
- 9-10 Desperate owner. With trade business nearly in ruin, this merchant oversees this journey personally. So far, the caravan has been beset with all sorts of misfortune. Nerves and confidence frayed, the owner is near the breaking point with worry.
- 1-2 Seamstress. Dainty person who sews damaged clothes; also does laundry.
- 3-4 Herdsman. Unkept and lowly in speech, this person will sell livestock — mostly goats and sheep.
- 5-6 Wheelwright. Repairs wood wagons and wagon wheels. Demonstrates skill gained from much practice.
- 7-8 Blacksmith. Will reshoe mounts, sells nails, repairs or replaces small metal tools, buckles and latches, but is not trained as an armorer.
- 9-10 Cooper. Repairs old barrels or sells new ones for storage. Doesn’t speak much, mostly nods or shakes head. Missing pinky on left hand from work accident.
Sellers at the local bazaar
- 1-2 General provisioner. Sells dry goods and food staples in bulk to caravan masters.
- 3-4 Fortune teller. Reads the stars and the cards to see the future. Much sought-after by caravan masters eager to know if any misfortune awaits them on the road. Has a reputation for being prescient.
- 5-6 Herbal remedies. Sells all manner of cures, but few genuine potions of healing.
- 7-8 Wood sculptor. Gets by selling small carvings of copies of religious relics, famous persons and the like. Hope to have a captain purchase a whole batch, rather than one or two here and there to passersby who take them for souvenirs and trinkets.
- 9-10 Alchemist. True practitioner who sells genuine articles designed to create chemical effects. Prices are higher than normal, but quality is assured.
- 1-2 Road weary mercenary company. 1d6+3 heavily armored foot soldiers, armed with battleaxes and splint mail, walk in with mud on their boots, leather armor stitched up with patches, and arms all bearing dings and dents.
- 3-4 Bearded wonder. Sole surviving member of a company who stumbles out of a game trail scraggly and tattered, with a fantastic story of gold/monsters/invading army in the hills/swamp/forest/desert, yet only a small token to offer as proof.
- 5-6 The A Team. Spit-polished and decked out in sparkling attire and gear, a paladin of obvious piety, a bardic college’s singing champion and a bespectacled magic academy valedictorian stay the night while en route to a fabled ruin, which they have an ancient map of. They’ll even show you the map if asked.
- 7-8 Grizzled vets. A druid in dark green robes whose features are obscured by a hood, a barbarian with both horns broken on a metal helm that sits cockeyed on the head, a wily but approachable scoundrel who serves as the “face” of the party, and a burly but heavily tattooed and scarred sorcerer, all take a table in a corner, talk in whispers and speak gruffly to the wait staff.
- 9-10 Seven dwarves. All seven have belt-busting physiques and carry warhammers whose hafts are carved with runes denoting past accomplishments. Despite their beer guts, they are attired nattily, their beards—ranging from orange to russet brown to snow white, are all braided and adorned with jewels or rune-carved beads and ties. After a while they are joined by a raven-haired druid with skin like porcelain.
I hope this random generator serves a need, just like the Fantasy Wagon Train did.