Friday, 30 July 2021

The Automated Past and Present - Atomic Cosmology for Game World Creation

Many years ago I constructed a d40 table of "Aspects", these being what I thought was the basic thematic building blocks of a game world. Here it is: 

  1. Good, peaceful, kind
  2. Holy, ordered, right
  3. Light, illumination, enlightenment
  4. Floating, peace, meditation
  5. Air, empty, vacuum
  6. Ethereal, wispy, ghostly
  7. Wind, blowing, unseen mover
  8. Storm,  rapid movement, speed
  9. Tiny, shrinking, wasting away
  10. Invisible, translucent, clear
  11. Intangible, non corporeal, fading 
  12. Life, regrowth, rejuvenation
  13. Value, gems, gold
  14. Thought, philosophy, intellect
  15. Internal organs, viscera, blood 
  16. Reflection, mirror, stillness
  17. Water, cycles, karma
  18. Equalization, law, justice
  19. Cleansing, alkalizing, evaporation
  20. Procrustean, rigidity, incarceration 
  21. Wildness, out of place, overgrown
  22. Bestial, savageness, feeding
  23. Nature, grove, peace
  24. Chaos, disorder, mutation
  25. Fire, explosions, heat
  26. Destruction, rubble, ruin
  27. Limbs, appendages, grasping locomotion
  28. External action, destiny, prophecy
  29. Monstrous, terrifying, abomination
  30. Gargantuan, giant, enormous 
  31. Enveloping, enclosed, soft embrace
  32. Straining, breaking, cracks
  33. Deep, below, underground
  34. Earth, soil, stone
  35. Solid, mass, black holes
  36. Time, dust, history
  37. Evil, hate, pain
  38. Profane, cruelty, desecration 
  39. Darkness, shadows, loss
  40. Death, rot, decay
I've used that list as a seed for many tables. Applying those terms to categories of things to get a wide range of potential results. 

Today I decided to use this combine that process with some recent experimentation with automated generators to get a set of generators that could tell you what had happened in the past of a game world, and also in the present of that game world (on reflection you could use it to generate what happens in the future too but I personally think that is the purview of the players). 

What do I mean by "Atomic Cosmology"? 

I used a very specific set of terms to write out each of the d40 tables contained within each of the following automated generators. These were the terms in the original "Aspects" table. As such I see this as a kind periodic table of the game world that follows. The essential building blocks of any game world the generators here create. What I find interesting is that you can keep the framing the same (the generator buttons) and use different baseline "Aspects" to create a whole different set of game worlds.  Game worlds with their own, different, atomic cosmology ( 

But enough pontificating, here are the generators! 

Decide if you want to know about the past or present of the game world, then generate it! 

The specific details for People, Monsters, Beasts, Events, Places, Items, etc, are below the original generators. The generators are oracles of sorts - you will have to fill in some of the details yourself (there is an example at the bottom of the post).

The Past: 

The Present: 






Man Made Objects

Natural Objects

Man Made Places

Natural Places


  1. This is so good! Fantastic generator getting my mind racing

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you! Share any weird worlds or tales you come up with.

  3. I like the look of this. I've got the game Microscope by Ben Robbins (also the inventor of the West Marches Campaign); it's basically a "history creation" method for the players. They declare specific things that must (or must not) be in the history, then alternate "good" and "bad" events, sometimes going deeper in and playing out a pivotal moment. While this is mostly an activity for its own sake, there's no reason it couldn't be used to create the entire background for an RPG campaign.

    1. I've always wanted to do something like that with a group of people but not got the chance. I was thinking of doing something similar to that but solo with these tables.

    2. Pre Covid my players and I did something similar on a smaller scale. We created a campaign region for our OSE game. It was loads of fun and everyone felt like they had a part in the creation of the campaign.

    3. Doing something like that is definitely on my bucket list.