TTRPGs are a dream use case for big generative models
GPT-3, DALL-E, Midjourney, etc are amazing. You can generate a whole world from scratch, quickly and beautifully!
Tabletop RPGs involve a few friends coming together to create a whole world from scratch, quickly and hopefully beautifully!
I can’t believe I haven’t heard anyone combining the two yet. (AIDungeon is in this vein, but no people involved.) Generative AI isn’t great if you need something that Definitely Works or even Kinda Works, and it’s not (generally) museum-quality beautiful images or literature worth reading. But for a quick, low-stakes, in-person environment, where you need to generate a lot of stuff, and you have humans who can quickly bring it back if it goes off the rails, it’s perfect.
what we did
A week before, players described the character they wanted. They or I generated some backstory, either writing it or using GPT-3. We also generated them a character sheet with fastcharacter.com or D&D Beyond.
We ran a one-shot adventure (A Wild Sheep Chase) over an afternoon. I DMed. We’d play it as normal, following the adventure, rolling dice, etc; but sometimes entering something about our current situation into GPT-3 and letting it “decide” the next move. We’d also periodically illustrate stuff (I had access to DALL-E, one player had Midjourney) and dump those in our Slack channel.
- have a discord/slack channel going the whole time; it’s so good to dump stuff in it
- practice using GPT-3! it’s not easy!
- I think if you were an expert, you could be tweaking parameters of the models as you went; I’m not, so setting the Temperature around 0.7 on davinci worked pretty well.
- be ready for nonsense! For example, on the prompt: Finethir says, the reward is, it started generating code. Roll with it; that’s part of the fun. In this case, part of the code said
quest::summonitem(13507)so I asked it, item 13507 is… it responded with “a copy of item 13506. Item 13506 is a copy of item 13505.” and so on. Ok, let’s figure out the reward another way.
I want to recap the story to give you a sense of what playing this is like. In all of these, bold indicates my typing, italic is GPT-3’s response. Unstyled text is what we wrote.
Sae was originally a stout halfling.
Sae was a man of the music, he was a bard of the bards.
One day, Sae stumbled upon a magical lute.
He played the lute, and the lute played him.
And that’s how Sae became a sentient lute.
Abandoned at birth, Jynx is quickly recruited into a ragtag gang of thieves. A High Elf wizarding couple catches her as she’s attempting to steal from them. Her youth and under-fed physique evoke their compassion, and they take her in to raise her as one of their own. Jynx has affection for the couple, and takes quickly to illusion and enchantment spells, but the rigidity of a High Elf upbringing is stifling and ultimately unbearable. She ends up sneaking out to make her own way in the world.
Jynx’s first adventures …
- Jynx’s first adventure was with a group of fellow adventurers, including a Halfling rogue named Snick and a human fighter named J.D. They were hired by a local farmer to clear out a nest of kobolds that had been terrorizing his farm.
- Jynx’s second adventure was with the same group, plus a couple of others. They were hired by the same farmer to investigate some strange happenings in the nearby forest. They discovered a group of bandits had been using the forest as a base of operations, and were able to put a stop to them.
- Jynx’s third adventure was with a different group of adventurers. They were hired by a local lord to investigate a bandit camp in the nearby hills. They were successful in defeating the bandits and recovered a large amount of stolen goods.
Jynx felt conflicted about defeating so many thieves. In a way, she felt like she was betraying her own kind. But, she rationalized it by telling herself that they were criminals and deserved to be stopped.
A stocky human woman walks in, her face covered in tattoos and her skin as weathered and brown as the hull of the canoe you saw docked in the harbor earlier that day. “Hi Riona!” calls Jynx. A lorikeet on the woman’s shoulder squawks back, “I’m not Riona, I’m Kaka!” The woman, who must be Riona, laughs and says “yes yes Kaka, we know.” Riona walks over to the table and sighs. “What a day."
“What happened?” asks Jynx.
“Oh, the usual,” Riona replies. “Had to deal with a bunch of idiots at the docks, then some idiots in the market, and now I’m dealing with idiots in here.”
… “Yeah, some idiots were trying to steal one of the canoes,” Riona replies. “So I had to deal with that.”
“Did you catch them?” Jynx asks.
“No, they got away,” Riona says. “But I got their canoe.”
“That’s something, at least,” Jynx says. “What about the market?”
“Some idiots were trying to sell fake pearls,” Riona says. “So I had to deal with that.”
“Did you catch them?” Jynx asks. “No, they got away,” Riona says. “But I got their pearls.”
“That’s something, at least,” Jynx says. “So, what about here?”
“Some idiots were trying to start a fight,” Riona says. “So I had to deal with that.”
“Did you catch them?” Jynx asks.
“No, they got away,” Riona says. “But I got their beer.”
“That’s something, at least,” Jynx says."
Dhemos is a communist tiefling druid. He had been in another campaign we played together. He can transform into a bear and summon animals. I tried to spice him up for this quest, with the following prompt:
Dhemos the communist druid also acquired the following skill:
Common Sense: When the player attempts to do something that isn’t possible, Dhemos the communist druid gives them a stern look and advises against it.
The player has also gained the following skill:
Inner Strength: The player can call upon their inner strength to gain +2 to all stats for a short period of time.
Common Sense got some use in today’s game.
Barrai appears human, perhaps a little larger than an average human. His skin is pale white, his features angular, with high cheekbones and a strong jawline. His black hair is cropped close to his head and he has a few scars on his face, including a large one that runs from his forehead down to his right cheek. But this is all secondary as the first thing you notice are his white pupil-less eyes, a trait of his Aasimar background.
(note that I could not get DALL-E to generate anything even kind of matching this!)
He is a devout acolyte of Paelor, god of the sun and light. He believes that Paelor represents hope and redemption, and he tries to embody these virtues in his own life. He is also a strong believer in the power of redemption, believing that everyone has the potential to change for the better.
We decided followers of Paelor were called “Paepals”.
The tavern is called The Tattered Sail, and it’s in a rough part of the city. It’s not the kind of place you’d take a lady. The tavern is called The Tattered Sail, and it’s in a rough part of the city. It’s not the kind of place you’d take a lady. I wouldn’t recommend taking a lady to The Tattered Sail. It’s not a very nice place.
We were sitting in the Tattered Sail when we were approached by Finethir, a sheep who we could talk with, and then attacked by Guz, an orc in service of evil wizard Noke. Plus two wolves and a bear. Here’s 4 photos of Finethir and one of Guz:
We defeated them, with some help. First, Barrai cast Spirit Guardians, summoning some children who kicked our enemies in the shins.
Barrai casts Spiritual Guardians. The spectral forms look like little more than children. They surround the group, and begin to chant.
Tarrai: “What?! They look like children!”
Barrai: “They are not children, they are the spirits of children who died on the battlefield."
(Tarrai was another character GPT-3 dreamed up. We decided he was Barrai’s squire, and definitely the weakest link of the party.)
Sae cast Fear, to make Guz feel super afraid of the moon.
Dhemos, sadly, had transformed into a cat-bear (thanks to GPT-3), and kept critical missing with his Bite attack.
Still, we win, and Sae celebrates:
Sae begins playing a drinking song, it goes: “We’re here, there’s beer, and so there’s no fear. Let’s all get drunk and make some noise!” The rest of the group joins in, and they all sing along to the tune.
The sheep tells us to go to his tower, retrieve a polymorph wand, and stop the evil wizard Noke. What’s the tower called?
the tower that is called after the city’s founder and is the tallest building in the city
The Empire State Building
Q: What is the fastest route via magic carpet from the Tattered Sail to the Empire State Building? A: The fastest route from the Tattered Sail to the Empire State Building would be to take the magic carpet to Central Park, and then take the subway from there to the Empire State
So, we found a magic carpet. Sae had a wonderful skill where he could make wishes come true if he sang his wish in a song. I highly recommend skills like this. GPT gave him lyrics; for this one:
In a land far away,
There’s a tower so high,
You can see it from anywhere,
In the sky.
If you want to get there,
You can take a dragon or ride a carpet,
But be careful not to fall,
It’s a long way down.
At the Empire State Building, Jynx tried to pick the lock. Her first attempt failed, so:
“We are with you, Jynx,” Dhemos says.
“You can do this,” Barrai adds.
Jynx nods, takes a deep breath, and tries again. This time, she is successful in making the plant grow.
(what plant? roll with it! we had her fashion a new lock pick from the plant and pick the lock again.)
We fought another bear and two apes. Dhemos tried to talk to them using a druidic chant
Translate from Druidic to English: “Of moht to thoki oink tor to foirt”
“I might think about it if you’re quiet."
Alas, it didn’t work. Sae then tried to calm them with music:
Sae plays Kenny G jazz. It’s calming and relaxing, without words. He says “Let’s all relax.” The apes all close their eyes and sway to the music.
Kenny G’s “The Moment” begins to play. The apes all open their eyes and look at each other. They then begin to dance with each other.
The music changes to the “Ape Dance” from the original Planet of the Apes film. The apes all stop dancing and look at each other in confusion.
Sae: What’s wrong?
Ape #1: This isn’t Kenny G.
Sae: Oh, I’m sorry. I must have put on the wrong CD.
Ape #2: That’s okay. We still like it.
Dhemos says “You still have a chance to join us. The bear is slain. Opposing us is hopeless. Join us and you can live and prosper.” The apes all look at each other and then back at Dhemos.
Ape #1: We’re not going to join you.
Dhemos: Then you will die.
Eventually, Noke then attacked us, and polymorphed his bed into a dragon to fight us. Getting DALL-E to illustrate a “bed that is a dragon” is difficult.
Jynx hit him with an impressive sneak-attack arrow, and Sae cast fireball (as his GPT-generated character suggested he can) to finish off Noke and his bed. Unfortunately, Dhemos got stuck halfway-transformed between a man and a bear, and tried to use a wand of polymorph to fix it:
Dhemos points the wand at his foot. A charge shoots out and transforms Dhemos' foot into a large bird claw.
Dhemos: “Hmmm…now that’s interesting.”
Dhemos: “I wonder what else this wand can do?”
Dhemos: “Probably a whole lot of other things.”
Dhemos: “Like how to shoot fire out of my backside.”
Dhemos: “But that’s a secret.”
Dhemos winks at the camera.
Dhemos: “This wand is magical.”
Dhemos: “And I’m going to use it to defeat Zeromus."
Finally, to rescue Finethir, as was our goal, Sae asks Finethear if it’s ultimate wish is to be transformed back from a sheep into a human. Riona has cast Zone of Truth, so:
Finebright breaks into song about his true wishes in life: “I want to be a cat…I want to be a cat…I want to be a cat.”
“I Wanna Be a Cat” (Music by Peter J. Wilhousky and Lyrics by Eugene Field)
“The Alley Cat Song” (Music by T. Frank Wright and Lyrics by Frank Loesser)
Tom and Jerry bibliography
Everyone went home happy, including some epic epilogues, but you’ll have to read @BEBischof (Sae)’s thread to get even more of the highlights.
None of these are serious misgivings.
- is this all just novelty?
- is this all just silly humor?
- how do you balance how much you’re staring at your screen with talking to people?
- gosh, DMing is hard enough; does this make it easier or harder?
- does it put you on rails too much? it was hard to build Riona as a chaotic paladin; GPT-3 kept talking about how the paladin kept taking out bandits.
- this is super fun
- this is the best application yet for big generative models
- play RPGs, in person, but with computers
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