I don’t play D&D (yet. Collin’s constant enthusiasm is wearing me down), but I’ve watched 100 episodes of Critical Role, so clearly, I’m super qualified to talk about this. /sarcasm

Somewhere on The Infotram in the past 2 weeks I read about The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations and my mind immediately went to D&D, where this would be a really useful tool for DMs and players when creating a campaign or character backstory. So even though I’m not the resident D&D guy, I’m gonna share it instead of handing it off to Collin (because whoever has the most posts wins!).

The Thirty-Six Dramatic Situations is a descriptive list which was created by Georges Polti to categorize every dramatic situation that might occur in a story or performance. To do this Polti analyzed classical Greek texts, plus classical and contemporaneous French works.

…The original French-language book was written in the 19th century. An English translation was published in 1916 and continues to be reprinted to this day. The list is popularized as an aid for writers, but it is also used by dramatists, storytellers and many others. Other similar lists have since been made. 

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Thirty-Six_Dramatic_Situations

If 36 isn’t enough, John Hodgman came up with 55, or try Dresden Codak’s 42. 🙂

Roll for it?

My second thought was to turn this into a random plot generator by rolling a couple dice to get the main skeleton of a story jumpstarted. I’m not the first to have this idea.

Be sure to check out u/Bagelson’s attempt at a Random Plot Generator.

Sample result (55, 10, 5, 2):

A man left his family to follow the elven warrior he fell in love with. Tragedy struck and he forced her to slay him for both their sakes. His child does not see it that way, and hires the PCs to hunt down and kill the “elven wench” for justice. Meanwhile, the dead man tries to stop them from the Other Side.

Source: /u/Bagelson

My Attempt

2d6 = 8
A Revolt! A tyrant / conspirator. The tyrant, a cruel power, is plotted against by the conspirator.
1d12 = 5
A small warrior
1d12 = 10
A dog-beating stick

Political intrigue rocks the Capital. Lord Vetinari, the Patrician of the city, is beset on all sides by corrupt guildmasters furious over his new tax policy. They seek to overthrow Vetinari first, and then fight amongst themselves to see who rises to the top. The guilds have called for a general strike and workers are rioting all around the city.

Meanwhile in the sewers below, an irascible gnome, Wee Mad Arthur just wants to be left alone, kill some rats, and earn his pay by selling them to the various inns and tarverns of Ankh-Morpork. Though he’s the best ratcatcher in the city, he is not a member of the Ratcatcher’s Guild. He’s just fiendishly strong and small enough to follow the rats wherever they go. Things start to go south for all concerned when the Ratcatcher’s Guildmaster uses his baton to impatiently swat a stray dog who just happens to be Wee Mad Arthur’s primary mode of transportation around the city.

What’s the big deal? He’s just a gnome. Well… they don’t call him Mad for nothing.

Give it a try and post some of your results in the comments.