The Random Element: Scenario Generator

Just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in. Scenario Generator is a tool that creates random restrictions, goals and startup settings for a variety of games, and it’s the reason I’ve become happily lost in Crusader Kings II [official site] and Civ V [official site] again. Reinvent an old favourite with the click of a button, as you find out precisely how often you can commit Unprovoked Murder.

I’m always very happy to find a game that allows me to randomise my experience to a certain extent. Whether it’s the extremes of Dwarf Fortress, which procedurally creates an entire world each time I play, myths and history included, or an RPG that lets me roll a die to pick stats or the pointiness of my elven ears.

When it comes to open world environments, or strategic sandboxes, I often set my own arbitrary rules to create games within the game. Most recently, I’ve been inventing challenges for myself in Dying Light, restricting myself to use of a specific safe house as night sets in, selected randomly from all those I’ve found, or leaving a safe area in the morning and only allowing myself to turn in for the night once I’ve managed to complete one or more random encounters.

I’ve also fallen back into old habits. Crusader Kings II and Civ V are back in regular rotation on my playlist and that’s all thanks to Scenario Generator, a website that rolls up random goals and restrictions for certain games. For CK II, it just gave me this:

Starting Duchy: Adrianopolis.
Restrictions: Always kill yourself when you become depressed.
Goals: Have all 7 deadly sins, become friends with your liege, successfully defend from a holy way.

Sure. Why not? The restriction is harsh but also lends itself superbly to a spot of extra roleplaying, which is just as important as the actual challenge. Give me a list of things that I can or cannot do in a game, and it doesn’t take me long to build suitable stories around the limits of what’s possible.

Civ V has eleven columns. With the result from my most recent attempt in brackets, some of those columns are:

Civilization (Babylon), Victory Type (Cultural), Ideology (Autocracy), Expansion Policy (Balanced), Map Size (Duel), Map Type (Arborea).

As well as adding new life to old games, these scenarios could also be used for competitive play, or at least comparative play. Roll up a Civ V scenario, pass it to a few friends, and see who makes the best of a bad situation.

Currently, Scenario Generator supports eight games. Along with CK II and Civ V, they are Kerbal Space Program, The Witcher 2, Skyrim, Minecraft, Dwarf Fortress and Fallout: New Vegas. The Skyrim generator is great, telling you not only what race your character was born as and what skills must be developed, but where your home should be and how often you should commit ‘Unprovoked Murder’ and ‘Freelance Theft’.

I already love Scenario Generator but can’t help but think of the games that I hope will be added. There are obvious choices, such as Europa Universalis IV to go along with CKII, and I’d like to see GTA V included when it finally arrives on PC. Perhaps there could be columns directing players to steal a certain type of car, in a certain colour, and then to deliver it to a specific city block. Throw in an ‘Unprovoked Murder’ and ‘Vehicular Manslaughter’ column and you have a game.

How about Euro Truck Simulator 2 and its upcoming American cousin? Build a business that only operates in four countries or refuse to transport anything inedible. If you receive more than 10% damage, you have to stop at the next service station and cry yourself to sleep. When the sun goes down there are zombies and you can never come to a complete stop because they’ll eat you.

I suggest everyone who enjoys at least one of the eight games supported by Scenario Generator takes some time to revisit those games with these restrictions plugged in. And if you can think of a game that’d benefit from This Sort Of Thing, cook up some columns and share your thoughts below, or maybe even poke at the freely available source code for the site.

Just imagine the depths of Football Manager madness this could lead to? Random team, anywhere in the world, with an edict to place the most valuable player onto the market at the beginning of every window. Or never playing the same starting eleven in two consecutive games. Endless possibilities.

This article was originally published earlier this month as part of, and thanks to, the RPS Supporter Program.


Top comments

  1. Lockyy says:

    Wow this is awesome. I'm the developer of the site and am pumped that people are liking the site so much. I'd love to know what games people would like to have added to the site. I've got a pretty long list of what to add to the site, with the next up either being the tabletop rpg Everyone is John, or Mount and Blade.
  1. Premium User Badge

    Bluerps says:

    Cool idea, but at least in CK2 I still have a bunch of my own scenarios to complete (for example, I want to play a Buddhist who rules Rome).

  2. Morph says:

    This is great! There are too many choices for what they could do next. The various Dragon Ages are obvious ones.

    Thinking a bit harder, a random starting Blood Bowl team generator that forces you to try and compete with weird combinations would be fun.

  3. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    In a similar vein, last year when our house was playing GTA V, we introduced the rule “when playing as Trevor, you must role play as Trevor”. So if any NPC gave you so much as a look you had to terrorise them with whatever methods came to hand.
    We enjoyed ourselves.

    • heretic says:

      That’s great! Need to try it out when I pick it up

    • Stopsignal says:

      Yesss i do this too. Shotgun to the windshield to everyone that dares to touch my truck.

  4. meepmeep says:

    As someone who has never actually devoted enough time to learning CK2, repeatedly generating random scenarios is almost as good.

  5. meepmeep says:

    I already love Scenario Generator but can’t help but think of the games that I hope will be added. There are obvious choices, such as Europa Universalis IV

    EUIV is available on there

    • Premium User Badge

      Adam Smith says:

      Aha! Hadn’t been added when I wrote this and published as a Supporter post :)

      • meepmeep says:

        The constraints of the space-time causal continuum are no excuse for shoddy journalism.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      It is now. I think the list of supported games was much shorter when the article first appeared (which was 16 days ago).

  6. seroto9 says:

    They need something like this added to Elite: Dangerous.

  7. BooleanBob says:

    I’ve never played Dwarf Fortress, but I just got this, and it’s brilliant…

    Biome: Grassy/Forest
    Surroundings: Peaceful
    Challenges: Maintain a 5:1 cat to dwarf ratio at all times. Extra dwarfs must be terminated with extreme prejudice.
    Goals: Reach 150 population

    • LionsPhil says:

      Your framerate has crumbled to its end.

      • hungrycookpot says:

        This is a masterfully designed post about CPUs. The CPUs are on fire. This post relates to the exploding of BooleanBob’s CPU in a catsplosion in the year 2015.

  8. BooleanBob says:

    If you wanted to be really evil, and probably ruin the lives of a bunch of complete innocents* for an hour, you could adapt this system to lane-pushing games.

    Hero: Anti-mage.
    Role: Support .
    Lane: Mid.
    Restrictions: Play without boots; You cannot buy an item with an ‘S’ in its name.
    Goals: Win in under 30 minutes.

    *I know, I know, there are no innocents in LPGs. Less trollishly, it’d be fun for clowning around in bot matches.

  9. shoptroll says:

    The Sims seems like an obvious choice for inclusion. Most likely the later ones than the original.

    • Lagran says:

      Sims 2 and 3 already have randomisation challenges — check out the Prosperity challenge (TS2) and/or Differences in the Family Tree (TS3).

      I know for my TS2 games I take a lot of the randomisation aspects from the Prosperity challenge, and it can make things quite fun. My most interesting family from that was a married husband and wife couple…with the wife being Family and the husband Romance*. They were absolutely fine until baby #4, at which point the husband seemed to have had more than enough.

      *For those who didn’t play TS2: Family sims want marriage and babies; Romance sims want to romance the town and hate being tied down.

  10. Monggerel says:

    Reminds me of the Spoiler Warning challenge for Dishonored, named “Loudest Man in Dunwall”, wherein any and all attempt and stealth and subterfuge is completely forbidden and you most always loudly announce your presence (preferably with gunshots) to anyone that could possibly be nearby at all times.

  11. Norminator says:

    This is brilliant. I just tried Skyrim and got an Argonian mage with heavy armor and greatswords.
    Now if only I had time to actually play it.

  12. Lockyy says:

    Wow this is awesome. I’m the developer of the site and am pumped that people are liking the site so much. I’d love to know what games people would like to have added to the site. I’ve got a pretty long list of what to add to the site, with the next up either being the tabletop rpg Everyone is John, or Mount and Blade.

    • jikavak says:

      Football Manager for sure

    • Danley says:

      I love random generators like this so thanks for putting it together.

      Age of Wonders III already has good random options, but it might be worth a look to see what you could do with it.

    • HopperUK says:

      What about something like SimCity 4 or Prison Architect?

    • mgardner says:

      Great idea, thanks for going to the effort of putting this together and sharing it. Sometimes I lose motivation for open-goal games and this sounds like a great solution for my lack of imagination. Maybe it’s a bit niche, but I think Dominions 4 would be a nice fit for this list.

    • airmikee99 says:

      Fallout:New Vegas and Wasteland2. Nearing completion of my first run through F:NV and trying to put some time after my first run through W2, and with so many options for play it would be kinda cool to have different standards given for how to achieve a win. NCR or Legion? Highpool or AG Center? Wipe out the Brotherhood of Steel or join them? Give the nuke to the DBM or the Mad Monks? Even getting down to which skills to focus on and even ignore, like playing with energy weapons only and no explosives until level 20 or something, or having to ignore lockpicking.

    • GentlemanRaptor says:

      If you do Everyone is John I will love you forever.

    • Nixitur says:

      Everyone is John would be hilarious (although the page on 1d4chan is woefully misunderstanding the game).
      Also, since you already have Dwarf Fortress in there, I’d also like to suggest Liberal Crime Squad, another game by Toady

    • Tikigod says:

      Elite Dangerous could be an interesting one. :)

  13. Sinnorfin says:

    it would make an even more interesting site if users could add games and challenges themselves with some kind of vote system.

  14. James says:

    I’d like to see this applied to Total War games, especially Attila. It could inflict wounds on the Huns that I simply can’t or make them thrice as powerful. It would be great to see how that effect my playstyle.

  15. Chriller says:

    Something like this for DayZ would be pretty cool.

  16. sinister agent says:

    Fallout 3 would be a good one. Presumably NV too, though I’ve not played it. You could “be” Cass, and be completely hopeless at everything, but constantly buzzed on sweet, sweet booze.

  17. sinister agent says:

    Ooh, and Unreal World. You may only wear leather. You must drag every human corpse you find back to your camp.

  18. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    I wonder if it’s possible to incorporate (or otherwise refer to) player-made challenges which already exist. The Tree Spirit challenge in Minecraft, for example.

  19. colorlessness says:

    “Biome: Glacier
    Surroundings: Terrifying
    Challenges: If a single dwarf dies you must abandon the fort
    Goals: Unleash hell”

    … thanks Scenario Generator.

  20. MellowKrogoth says:

    Great tool. This combined with those sites that pick a random Steam game from your collection for you would definitely help me play instead of staring at the list of games I own.

  21. Ungenious says:

    Oh no! Metachievements…

    This adds a whole new level to OCD completionism.

  22. Adseria says:

    Civilization 5

    Victory: Diplomatic

    Personality: Hostile

    …I foresee issues…