More About TableMaster
The most common question people ask is the most fundamental: "Just what is TableMaster, anyway?" And it's not the easiest thing to explain, because it really has its niche to itself; it's not all that much like anything else. So this is an attempt at a comprehensive long-form explanation, the kind that it's just not possible to give in 30 seconds (or 140 characters):
At its most fundamental level, TableMaster simply rolls things up. You can take any random generatino table, feed it into TableMaster, and turn out dozens, or hundreds, or thousands of whatever it is that you're generating, whether it's gems, random encounters, or entire towns.
Since the best way to explain it is by example, here's what a table you might want to run in TableMaster would look like in written form — this is one I've been using as an example since the very first days of TableMaster:
Converted into TableMaster's format, our sample gem table would look like this:
If you think that looks a lot like the original, you're quite right. ThableMaster has been designed to emulate printed tables as closely as possible. Anything that can run on a system of humans and dice (and a lot of things that can't!) can be set up for TableMaster. For starters, we can get fancier with this table:
1-3 Topaz worth <2d6> gold
4-5 Garnet worth <1d10> gold
6-7 Emerald worth <3d20> gold
8-9 Ruby worth <5d20> gold
10 Diamond worth <10d20> gold
That's just the beginning of what you can do with TableMaster. Simple additions to that table, aside from of course settting the values to something appropriate for your campaign, would include adding more types of gems, perhaps subtables for semi-precious, precious, and so on, a subtable for gem quality, and so on, so that you will be able to tell the players, instead of "You found a gem worth 50 gold" you can tell them "You found a flawed, medium-sized emerald worth 50 gold". The TableMaster tutorial that comes with the program explains it in detail.
Most people start out by changing the tables that come with the basic package or one of the Table Packs to suit their needs, adding something here, deleteing something else, changing the names of those other things. That's a good way to get a feel for how tables look on your computer instead of in your GM notebook. The next step is to write one from scratch, and that's easy too. Then people move on to the hairy stuff, like that great NPC generation system you wrote that unfortunately occupies most of a small notebook and takes 15 minutes to create one NPC! It takes some time to get that all typed in, of course, but you only have to do it once, and then you have a detailed description of every NPC the players meet — or every tavern, every starport, every abandoned building, every zombie lair ... whatever you've created, TableMaster can use it.
TableMaster can roll user-defined dice of any size you want — just specify them in the roll, such as <15d27-9>. There are variables (integer, floating-point, and text) that you can set and use for all sorts of things, including as dice rolls on other tables. Tables can roll on any number of subtable, and you can include other table files so that, for example, you could have one master name list for the citizens of a town, and just incorporate that into every other table that needs it.
In short, we really mean it about the "Spare Time Generator" slogan. TableMaster can do all those trivial and annoying little things that must be done to make a campaign fully detailed and realistic. No matter what kind of a game you're running, TableMaster allows you to create all those little details that make the world complete. This description has just brushed the surface of what TableMaster can do.
Exercise your imagination, not your dice-rolling hand. Really. That's what TableMaster is all about: doing the tedious stuff to allow you time to do the important things for your campaign, because every minute you're spending rolling up something that TableMaster could do for you is a minute you're not spending on creating an even better campaign. The slogans are true. TableMaster gives you the power to be a good gamemaster and the time to be a great one. And it really is a spare time generator.