Likely Story

I Let AI Write My Dungeons and Dragons Campaign

"Magic is distilled laziness. Put that on my gravestone."

- Kurtis J. Wiebe


In a bit of a change of pace that has been typical for this blog I thought it might be fun to explore an interest I have outside of Product Management and Agile; creative writing and Dungeons and Dragons!

"ChatGPT has taken the world by storm" is a sentence that has become a cliche across Twitter and various blogs, but it's hard to escape the truth of the sentence. And like so many others I've found some entertainment, as well as some great utility in using this tool over the past few weeks. One of my favorite things to do with ChatGPT has been in the realm of creative writing, through song or funny short stories, which lead me down the path of Dungeons and Dragons.

It interested me to consider some of the potential applications ChatGPT could have when it comes to DnD. An unlimited amount of potential adventures for your friends and family to embark, and even the chance to completely do away with a dungeon master so you can all play together against the "computer". So I set out to "lightly" test this idea.

Building the world

I initially started out with a basic prompt, but didn't really consider the potential barriers in my wording.

Jesse: Me and my friends would like to play Dungeons and Dragons but we don't have a Dungeon Master. 🥺 Can you help us out by being the Dungeon Master for our game?

ChatGPT: I'm sorry, but I am not able to play Dungeons and Dragons or act as a Dungeon Master as I am an AI language model and do not have the capability to participate in physical activities or games. It may be helpful to try joining a local Dungeons and Dragons group or finding online communities where you can find players and a Dungeon Master to play with.

Seems like a fair response all things considered. After some thought I went with a different prompt that used ChatGPT to flesh out an idea that I already had for a world. After using the tool for a few weeks I have noticed that many others online have found the most value using it in this way.

Jesse: I've created a world for my campaign and I'd like you to help me describe it. It's an island filled with caves and small towns within those caves. On the surface are hazards like lava and and acid swamps.

ChatGPT: The island is a rugged and dangerous place, with towering cliffs and treacherous caves dotting its landscape. The caves offer shelter from the elements, with small towns and villages nestled within their depths. But even within the caves, dangers lurk - from treacherous stalagmites and slippery floors, to hostile creatures and hidden pitfalls. On the surface, the island is a harsh and unforgiving place. Lava flows from active volcanoes, and acid swamps bubble and steam. The air is thick with the stench of sulfur, and the ground is scorched and barren. The only signs of life on the surface are hardy plants and animals that have adapted to the extreme conditions. Despite its dangers, the island is home to many brave and resourceful inhabitants. They have learned to survive in this hostile environment, gathering resources from the land and sea, and forging strong bonds with one another. They are a proud and resilient people, ready to face whatever challenges the island may throw their way.

Considering how much info I gave it I was pretty impressed! It paints a picture of an interesting island, with dangers as well as hope for the people who live on this island.

The next step was to see if we can generate some hero's for our adventure.

Jesse: There are three hero's in our campaign. Generate names for all three and describe their physical appearance.

ChatGPT:

  • Eira Shadowmoon: a tall and slender elf with long, flowing silver hair and piercing green eyes. She carries herself with grace and dignity, and is always impeccably dressed in fine elven silks and leathers.
  • Tormag Blackforge: a stout and sturdy dwarf with a thick beard and a stern expression. He is heavily muscled and carries a massive hammer at his side, his thick armor stained with the grime of countless battles.
  • Jaxon Stormcaller: a handsome and charismatic human with short, curly hair and a charming smile. He is agile and quick on his feet, and carries a staff adorned with intricate magical runes. He wears a flowing robe of deep blue, and his eyes sparkle with the power of the elements.

Somewhat cliche DnD characters, but that's often half the fun with this sort of stuff. I was curious how it categorised the races of each character so asked it to recreate those characters again but this time all human.

Jesse: They are actually all humans. Can you recreate those three characters again?

ChatGPT:

  • Astrid Greystone: a strong and confident human woman with short, dark hair and piercing blue eyes. She is tall and muscular, with a no-nonsense attitude and a practical approach to problem-solving. She wears sturdy armor and carries a sword at her side.
  • Torin Ironfist: a burly and bearded human man with a loud, boisterous personality. He is a skilled fighter, with a large axe strapped to his back and a fearsome reputation. He wears thick leather armor and carries a small shield emblazoned with his family crest.
  • Eliza Moonflower: a slender and graceful human woman with long, flowing blonde hair and delicate features. She is a skilled archer, with a quiver of arrows at her side and a bow slung across her back. She wears a simple dress of soft, flowing fabrics and carries a small crystal on a necklace around her neck.

Still very cliche, but you could interpret these as "human" names. It's interesting how it gives additional little touches, like a necklace and a family crest on a shield.

Time to start this story, and to give the island a name!

Jesse: Their story starts in a small town within one of the many caves on the Island. Give this town a name, describe its layout and physical appearance. Also name the Island itself.

ChatGPT: The town is called Shadowgrove, and it is nestled within the depths of a large cave on the island of Angor. The cave is dimly lit by glowing fungus and lanterns, and the air is cool and damp. The town itself is built on multiple levels, with houses and shops carved into the cave walls and connected by winding staircases and narrow bridges. At the center of the town is a large, open plaza, where the townspeople gather to trade, socialize, and attend town meetings. The plaza is surrounded by a number of important buildings, including the town hall, the barracks, and the town's only inn, the Drunken Dwarf. The town has a quiet, almost peaceful atmosphere, despite its location within a treacherous cave. The townspeople are friendly and welcoming, and they take pride in their tight-knit community.

And so we have a setting for our adventure with endless potential as well as an inn for where our adventure can begin.

Adventure: Start!

A DM could pick up the story from here and the game could start, but it's always nice to have a little more detail and description to expand upon initially. I used this prompt to do that.

Jesse: The three hero's start their adventure in the Inn you mentioned, the Drunken Dwarf. Describe the initial scene as their story begins.

ChatGPT: The three heroes enter the Drunken Dwarf, a cozy and well-worn inn nestled in the heart of Shadowgrove. The inn is bustling with activity, as travelers and townspeople alike gather to share stories, make deals, and enjoy a drink or two. The air is thick with the smell of ale and roasting meat, and the walls are adorned with old tapestries and mounted animal heads. The heroes take a seat at the bar, where they are greeted by the innkeeper, a gruff and burly dwarf named Grimgrimm. He offers them a drink and a hearty meal, and listens as they discuss their plans for their adventure. As they talk, they catch snippets of conversation from the other patrons, hinting at hidden treasures and dangerous secrets hidden within the island's treacherous caves. As they finish their meal, they are approached by a mysterious stranger, who offers them a quest to explore an ancient, abandoned cave in search of a powerful artifact. The heroes accept the challenge, and set out into the darkness, eager to begin their adventure.

What an amazing little scene to start a great adventure. A group of friends could roll with that with the help of a DM, roleplaying and exploring the area. It's time to see what would happen if a DM picked up the story from here now, and after some "offline" improv perhaps input a summary of what had happened to see where the story should go next.

Jesse: We've progressed further into the story now, and the hero's are looking to travel to the next town over to look for Grimgrimms brother. Name the brother as well as the town. Describe them both as well.

ChatGPT: The brother is named Bofur, and he is the leader of the town of Ironforge. Ironforge is a bustling mining town built into the side of a mountain, with a large forge at its center. The town is filled with rugged and hardworking dwarves, who toil day and night to extract valuable minerals from the earth. Bofur is a stout and gruff dwarf, with a thick beard and a stern expression. He is a skilled blacksmith and a respected leader, and he rules Ironforge with a firm but fair hand. Despite his gruff exterior, Bofur is a loyal and protective brother, and he will do anything to help Grimgrimm and the heroes on their quest.

Some nice little detail to work with as a DM. It seems to pick up for the most part where the story should be heading, and it all feels natural. I wanted to jump even further ahead and introduce an enemy for the AI to work with. I used this prompt.

Jesse: The story has progressed even further and the group of hero's is ready to go into battle. There is a group of thieves that enter Ironforge. Describe the group, their leader, as well as what they're looking to steal.

ChatGPT: The group of thieves is a ragtag band of humans, orcs, and goblins, led by a sly and cunning halfling named Nimblefingers. They are armed with swords, daggers, and shortbows, and they wear dark cloaks and hoods to conceal their identities. The thieves are looking to steal a valuable and ancient artifact that is rumored to be hidden within the depths of Ironforge. The artifact is said to possess great power, and the thieves are willing to do whatever it takes to get their hands on it. They sneak into Ironforge under the cover of darkness, looking for any opportunity to steal the artifact and make their escape. The heroes must band together to defend Ironforge and protect the artifact from the thieves, facing off against Nimblefingers and his band in a thrilling and action-packed battle.

Melding worlds

I'm sold. This little battle sounds exciting, but I want a little more detail of the arena so I can put together my map in the real world!

Jesse: Describe the area that the artifact is located in, as well as give it a name.

ChatGPT: The artifact is located within the deepest and most ancient part of Ironforge, hidden within a hidden chamber deep within the earth. The chamber is dark and foreboding, with ancient runes and symbols carved into the stone walls. A thick layer of dust and cobwebs covers the floor, and the air is heavy with the smell of old magic. The artifact itself is a glowing crystal orb, pulsing with a deep and ancient power. It is mounted on a pedestal at the center of the chamber, surrounded by a circle of ancient standing stones. The orb is said to be the key to unlocking ancient and powerful magic, and it is the focus of the thieves' attention. The artifact is known as the Crystal of the Ancients, and it has been sought after by treasure hunters and power-hungry individuals for centuries. The heroes must be careful as they approach the artifact, for it is guarded by powerful magical defenses and ancient traps.

Traps, a band of thieves and an ancient artifact sounds about as cliche as a DnD campaign can get, but it works! It's a fun story that'll keep a group entertained for hours.

But what about the loot?

Of course, one of the most important aspects of DnD is the loot! This is the prompt I used to generate some interesting loot for our heroes.

Jesse: The group of thieves are defeated and the group retrieve the artifact. The hero's each get some loot. Describe the loot they each get, as well as the stats the loot gives each of them.

ChatGPT: After defeating the thieves and retrieving the Crystal of the Ancients, the heroes are rewarded with a share of the loot. Eira receives a fine elven bow, which increases her ranged attack by +2. Tormag receives a magical hammer, which increases his strength and armor class by +1. Jaxon receives a set of enchanted robes, which increase his magical abilities and spell resistance by +3. In addition to their individual loot, the heroes also split a pile of gold and other valuable treasures, which they can use to purchase supplies and equipment for their future adventures. The loot they have obtained will help them on their quest, and they are grateful for their success in this challenging mission.

In Inceptum Finis Est

Well there we have it. An adventure on an island with enough world building to get a group started almost straight away. I had the basis of our world done in less than 15 mins which could be done while the group creates their characters!

I think while the story is interesting, there are some gaps, especially in the abundance of cliche's that have been used in these types of stories that it may have picked up during it's data training process, but I'm excited for the potential utility of this tech.

However, I think full time Dungeon Masters are still safe...for now.


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