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The Location Crafter $4.95
Publisher: Word Mill Games
by Jim B. [Verified Purchaser] Date Added: 06/16/2019 01:32:46

Set your expectations correctly. It's worth noting what the Location Crafter isn't:

  • It's not lists of room types, encounters, furnishings, doors, tricks, or traps for dungeons, haunted mansions, spaceships, supervillain lairs, box canyons, or anything else. It's not tied to any genre, setting, or game system. (Whether that's good news or bad news is up to you.)
  • It's not a mapping tool. There's nothing to tell you where the exits are, how big anything is, what sort of cavern you're seeing, or how to get from one location to the next. There's no world-building guidance.

Location Crafter is about helping you build as you go, using inputs you've provided about the sorts of things that should be included.

Would Location Crafter help if you already have tables and generators for room types etc.? Maybe. You could let Location Crafter drive your building process, and use your generators for populating Location Crafter's lists. More on that below.

Would Location Crafter help if you had an existing map, but little or no content? Yes. You could have Location Crafter flesh out each map location, in advance or as you play.

Would you need Location Crafter if you already had a detailed setting? No, unless you use Location Crafter to extend what you already have.

Location Crafter uses a mix of planned and random elements.

Your prep work involves populating your lists of Locations, Encounters, and Objects. You're not tying them to a map or to each other at this stage. You might know you want guardrooms and a Temple of Awful Evilness on the list, for example, so you add them to your Location list, but (so far) you don't know where or when they'll appear.

You can make entries for unique locations, encounters, and objects (a named NPC, a one-of-a-kind object). You can make entries for reusable locations, encounters, and objects (a guest room, a band of goblins, a sack of coins). You can use None as an entry. You can repeat entries if you want them to come up more often. You can use Expected as an entry, meaning you won't specify what it is now, except to say it'll be something ordinary and expected when it comes up. If you have outside tables and generators, you could use them to help you populate the lists. You can use Special as entry to trigger a roll on a table that adds a twist to something you roll up. You can add Random as an entry, which will be determined randomly when you use the lists later. You can add Complete as an entry type so you can mark the end of exploration.

There's more art than science in deciding how to make up your lists. How far down should "Complete" appear in the Locations list? How far down should the evil boss appear in the Encounters list? How many "None" entries do you want? Do you want lots of "Random" and "Special" entries, or just one of each, or none at all?

That's the prep work. You could stop your preparations there, and not use the lists until game time. Alternatively, you could start using the lists ahead of the session to start fleshing out the content, but you'd probably still leave some of it for the session so you can be adaptive during play.

Using the tables involves rolling against the lists you've created. You're creating scenes. You create a scene by rolling up a Location, an Encounter, and an Object, and you give the PCs a way to reach the scene. You add and subtract Progress Points as you go, which biases your die roll toward the earlier or later parts of the lists. In other words, you'd put the stuff to find early near the top of each list, and the stuff to find later near the bottom. If you wanted to separate earlier and later content entirely (e.g. stuff on this side of the river vs stuff on the other side of the river), just make separate lists for each; you'd probably include a location in the first set that will lead you to the second set.

You could wind up with many combinations of Location, Encounter, and Object when you roll up a scene. To me, this helps you stay flexible. It avoids the old problem of opponents who sit in one room forever, waiting for an adventurer to wander by. If you have set pieces in mind (THIS encounter must happen in THIS location with THESE objects present), you can do that, but mostly the lists are for mixing and matching on the fly in random combinations.

While you're rolling stuff up, the various entry types mentioned earlier could kick into action. "Expected" is something you make up on the spot, or maybe you have an outside generator to help you. "Random" means you use Location Crafter's description oracle to roll up two terms (e.g. "Jovially" + "Fancy") that inspire you to create something. If you roll up a unique element, you cross it off the list so it won't come up again. You add and remove Progress Points as you go to modify later rolls. If you roll up Complete, there's no further exploration to be done.

If you need help with things like whether there's another way out of the room, or whether a door is currently locked, you could use one of Location Crafter's included oracles (Simple Questions, Complex Action Questions, or Complex Description Questions), or some other answer oracle you might prefer. The "complex" oracles have you roll up two terms and use them for inspiration.

A nice feature is that you can expand your lists as you use them. If a new Location, Encounter, or Object comes up during play, and if it might come up again later, add it to the appropriate list. This can add continuity and coherence to your setting.

You could use Location Crafer and Adventure Crafter in tandem, although neither mentions the other. Adventure Crafter is more about what happens and why it happens whereas Location Crafter is more about where it happens. When Adventure Crafter does make location references, you could use Location Crafter to flesh them out or to replace them. Location Crafter's Encounters list is largely redundant with Adventure Crafter's Characters list. You could use one or the other for both purposes, or you could make one the master list while the other helps populate the master list when needed.

To recap: Location Crafter is helpful for building an area as you go.

[4 of 5 Stars!]
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The Location Crafter
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