I love using quick randomizers in play to make it so the game aspect of play is not just for the players – the randomizers make it so I’m playing an improv game of my own, incorporating the materials and ideas provided into the game.
I’ve made myself quite the collection of these – and while tables are the most common, they are the ones I use least. I’m much more into using dice and cards – devices that are both tactile and don’t require looking things up as I use them. I have cards for encounters, monsters, traps, “adventure modifiers”, patrons, rumours, treasures, dungeon geomorphs, villages, plots, mini quests, octopus adversaries, and more.
But the one I find I use the most in play when running fantasy RPGs is Evlyn Moreau’s “The Fabulous Pocket Guild”.
This is a wonderful deck of 132 miniature cards, each with an illustration of an adventurer (well, there are also a campfire, a pile of money, and a pack mule, but the other 129 are adventurers). These are wonderfully illustrated and evocative and immediately launch me into ideas about who is in the tavern, along the road, or being assaulted by 17 annoyed pixies.
And sometimes, you just need an instant group of adventurers… Like this crew.
Now that DriveThruCards is printing cards again, I can’t recommend picking these up enough. I’ve had these for two years and use them more than any other of my collection of cool in-game card-based randomizers.