Four Random Tables To Improve Your Next DnD Campaign 

Last Updated on May 1, 2023

The Dungeon Master’s Guide, Xanathar’s Guide to Everything and just about every other Dungeons & Dragons 5e adventure and sourcebook are full of random tables for determining everything from how many siblings your character has to how many tarrasques are waiting for you in the next room. 

In this guide, we’ll talk a little bit about why random tables are so good and then share some of our favorites from the various official D&D 5e books out now. 

Spontaneous Generation, or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Random Table

Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or just starting out, random tables can feel antithetical to the idea that the Dungeon Master is an all-knowing mixture of storyteller, referee, and god. A lot of new players, myself included, try to meticulously craft every single element of their homebrew campaign to better express their vision

Not only is this more work than you need to be doing (I would say that about 75% of my prep goes totally unused, at least for its intended purpose), but it can end up making your game less spontaneous, varied, and interesting. Besides, your players are already going to completely derail anything you were expecting to happen anyway, so why not surrender entirely to the whims of fate? 

That may be a little hyperbolic, but I have a lot more fun when I use random tables to (partially) create elements of my world because the added spontaneity and unexpectedness they create both keep me entertained (and make me a better improviser as a result) and add new elements and ideas to the world that I wouldn’t have come up with, making the whole thing feel more alive. 

Then there’s the fact that very few random tables give you the full picture. Hell, most random-encounter tables just spit out stuff like “3 goblins.” Exactly who these goblins are, what they’re doing, what they want, what they know, and how all that can result in an interesting and unexpected encounter are up to you and the players. Maybe the goblins are just your run-of-the-mill bandits on the hunt for gold and something to eat; maybe they’re scouts for a much larger warband massing in the nearby hills or diplomatic envoys en route to the nearest dwarven fortress as part of a naive and misguided attempt to negotiate a peace. 

The possibilities are endless, and a simple roll of the dice on the right random table can change the course of a whole campaign. 

I’m not suggesting you should throw out all your beautifully crafted prep, but if you’re a GM who leaves nothing to chance, maybe try leaving something in fate’s serrated claws. Randomize the treasure your party receives, or surprise everyone with a few encounters on the road to your next big adventure. The best part is you all get to find out what comes next together. 

Four Great Random Tables To Improve Your 5e Campaign 

Here are my four favorite random tables to spice up a game of D&D 5e. I highly recommend you go check them out. 

Middle Class Carousing Complications 

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything 

Carousing is a classic downtime activity from the earliest editions of D&D with potentially positive or negative consequences. My favorite result of a bad carousing roll is if the player character happens to be middle class and then goofs up in the most wonderfully low-stakes yet entertaining ways possible. 

Work with your GM to find out exactly how you incurred the complication (and typically how much alcohol was consumed in the process). 

*Might involve a rival

Magic Item Purchase Complications

Source: Xanathar’s Guide to Everything 

This one might be my favorite. Another thing you can do with your downtime in Xanathar’s Guide to Everything is buy and sell magic items — never a simple matter when artifacts of great power are concerned. 

If you’re a GM looking to make offloading the party’s latest armful of +1 magic swords a little more interesting, this table is your new best friend. 

You could even make a whole episodic campaign about a party of detectives, art dealers, or owners of a magic item shop and base the plot of every episode or arc on one of these prompts. I’m currently running a pirate campaign, and I absolutely use this table any time the players want to offload their ill-gotten gains without incident. 

*Might involve a rival

Dungeon Chamber Contents 

Source: Dungeon Master’s Guide 

The entirety of Appendix A: Random Dungeons in the DMG is solid gold, whether you’re using it to build a (probably very weird) dungeon room by room or just want a big list of useful fantasy room designations to fill your growing subterranean complex. 

If you’re going to steal one table from that chapter to have tattooed on your arm or at the very least keep taped to your GM screen, this is it. A lot of results send you off to different random tables in the book, but I like to use the more generic answers as prompts for coming up with answers that fit the dungeon’s ecology


Trinkets are one of my favorite bits of character creation in D&D. These small, slightly mysterious items don’t have any explicit powers (they certainly won’t help your party’s power gamers increase their damage per round), but they absolutely ooze flavor and can really help set the tone of your campaign or even tie into the overarching narrative. 

There are 100 trinkets to randomly roll in the Player’s Handbook and loads more in just about every single other sourcebook from Curse of Strahd to The Wild Beyond the Witchlight. 

You can check out our guide to trinkets (and roll your own) here

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