Sometimes coming up with ideas is hard. That is especially true in fantasy where literally anything is possible. If you’re a new writer or DM, you might be struggling with where to start your adventure.
More than once I have turned to story generators as a way to trigger new ideas and help get my creative juices flowing. It can bring some much-needed randomness (and I mean that quite literally), to a story that feels predictable, or one that you’ve just spent too much time with. It can spark an interesting twist you might not have thought of before, or simply help you look at your current idea in a new light.
So I’ve compiled a list of 15 places for you to randomly generate some plot hooks to help you get inspired!
With the rising popularity of Dungeons and Dragons (and other tabletop rpgs), you might want to try running your own game. And while there are plenty of established campaign settings for you to try out, you might want to add your own flair or customization. Or maybe you want to build a completely homebrewed world for your friends to adventure in. These randomizers are great for helping you build a world, generate items and create plot hooks to get you started.
If playing with a group is not your style, or getting a group together has proved a challenge, you could also get into solo play, where things like randomly generate plots are the norm to help guide the narrative experience.
They also work really well as writing exercises and jump-starts for novel ideas. If you’re joining NaNoWriMo (that’s National Novel Writing Month for the unfamiliar!), and you don’t know what to write, a generator might be just the right tool to help you! After all, 50,000 words in a month is a lot of writing, and you’ll want to an idea of what to write if you plan to get through 1, 667 words a day.
You will also find lots of other cool generators on these websites – everything from villainous lairs to what food your protagonists might eat, so tread with caution – these can become something of a time sink if you’re not careful.
Anyway, on with the generators!
1. Writing Exercises
This is one of the most unusual and unique generators in that it lets you generate (and re-generate) each element of the prompt. It will create for you a basic description of two main characters, a setting, a situation, a theme, and character action, and from there you can re-roll any of the elements to generate a story prompt that catches your attention.
It also has a very specific setting generator, a character generator, and one of the coolest gens I’ve seen in a while – a first-line generator. If you fear a blank page, this could be invaluable.
A woman in her early thirties, who is very inspirational. A man in his early forties, who can be quite rebellious. The story begins on a train. A neighbour is involved in a love triangle. It’s a story about the effects of war. Your character attempts to keep a low profile
A man in his late thirties, who can be quite courageous. A woman in her early forties, who can be quite naive. The story begins on a balcony. An abandoned dog is given a home. It’s a story about loneliness. Your character gets into a competition with another character
2. Masterpiece Generator
There are a ton of different generators here, including one that writes a blurb for you! However, they do work a little differently than a lot of the other ones you’ll see on this list. In a strange sort of ad-lib way, the blurb generator asks for various nouns, verbs and adjectives (or it can be left to generate its own), and then it churns out a prompt using those words. It might be perfect for sparking some ideas if you already have something in mind. Without your input, some of the generated blurbs are amusing to outright ridiculous (see the example prompt below), which might be just the kind of tone you want for your next short story or one-shot campaign with friends.
In a hut there lived a backward, ugly troll named Sarah Gloop. Not a chubby feathery, spotty hut, filled with trousers and a wild smell, nor yet an important, sloppy, greasy hut with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a troll-hut, and that means shelter.
One day, after a troubling visit from the elf Harold Meadows, Sarah leaves her hut and sets out in search of three vast bananas. A quest undertaken in the company of witches, pixies and urban aliens.
In the search for the elf-guarded bananas, Sarah Gloop surprises even herself with her braveness and skill as a computer programmer.
During her travels, Sarah rescues a piano, an heirloom belonging to Harold. But when Harold refuses to try cooking, their friendship is over.
However, Harold is wounded at the Battle of Hastings and the two reconcile just before Sarah engages in some serious cooking.
Sarah accepts one of the three vast bananas and returns home to her hut a very wealthy troll.
3. Seventh Sanctum
Seventh Sanctum is a classic for generators of all kinds, but I really like the simplicity of their story generator. You can pick the type of story you want to write, but it also gives you numerous results to choose from. There is likely going to be something that catches your eye and you don’t have to click randomize 25 times to get something that might interest you.
The prompts it generates are just specific enough to get you writing. There’s a ridiculous number of other prompts on there – lost civilizations, magical objects and spells, and even pirate ship names. It’s an invaluable resource for DMs planning a session who need that character to have a name or to come up with some McGuffin or other, but I think it can also work really well as a springboard for fiction.
Check it out next time you’re stuck on what to write!
The story is about an ambassador who is engaged to a king. It takes place on a storm-torn world artificially created by magic. The story begins with the failure at a test, climaxes with an addiction, and ends with smuggling.
This is an epic about the nobility of man. The story is about a first officer haunted by dark memories. It takes place in a large nation on a lost planet. The crux of the story involves a funeral. The creation of artificial life plays a major role in this story.
This is a character study with an emphasis on death. The story is about a bodyguard, a patriotic circuit priest, an aloof conjurer, and an ignored scribe who is obsessed with a fisherman. It takes place in an impoverished realm on a desert world that has all but forgotten its magical past. The story ends with a performance. The effect of magic on politics is a major part of the story.
Like most of the generators on this list, the prompts you get are simple, usually involving a character and a situation to get you started. The Rangen generator allows you to select the genre you want to write and can generate three different “levels” of prompts. The first is the premise, which is just enough to get you started. The second is more detailed, and gives you a second prompt for later in the story. And finally is the “complete” prompt, with a brief description of the beginning, middle, and end.
I found that a lot of the premises generated with this one make more sense than some others on this list and sound like the sorts of things you’d read on the back of a book. I think they’re pretty damn cool, and maybe you will too. Bonus points for having a solar system, species and planet generator for those sci-fi writers out there.
Frequently the recipient of strange visions, the main character struggles to adjust to life when their homeland is being subjected to a devastating attack by an enemy nation; it seeks to exact their revenge on those who tried to imprison them.
Painfully aware of the tensions growing between the two nations, the main character is forced into action when they learn of the dark lord that steadily grows in power and threatens their land; it casts doubt on their current situation.
Brave enough to go forward, the main character, after a daring escape, joins a group of misfits who fight to stay alive.
On just another average day, things don’t go according to plan for the main character when they are wrongly accused of the murder of a royal; it requires them to travel around the world.
Seeking vengeance, the main character, with an experienced mentor, manages to disguise themselves successfully and evade suspicion.
In the end, after managing to kill a key figure, the main character loses what they had, but gains a new friend.
5. Reedsy Plot Generator
Definitely one of the newer ones, but a really effective one if you’re a writer looking for an idea for your next novel. I happen to really appreciate how clean and simple the UI is, and how it allows you to lock in the ideas you do like, and randomize the ones you don’t. You can also choose the genre you’re looking to write as well!
A paranormal investigator, who has outrageous moral inflexibility.
A xenobiologist, who is a smart ass.
It’s a soft science fiction story about a fight for independence. It kicks off on Mars with the arrival of a powerful spacefaring clan.
(Note that: someone in the story has a lot of hard lessons to learn.)
And there’s a twist! The story is a retelling of a Greek myth.
6. Chaotic Shiny
This was the first generator that I ever found, and definitely has that sort of old-school fantasy, RPG-flair to it. Still, there are dozens of generators from holidays, to flags, potions, and spaceships to help you flesh out your world. Everything your little sff heart could want (or need). As with any of these generators, please browse responsibly.
You will also find a few story-related generators for your narrative needs, like the situation generator or the adventure generator, though they are quite simplistic all on their own. You could always combine them with something from the setting and character generator to round out your prompt with a little more detail.
There are also some fun writing exercises you can try that are less restrictive if that is more your thing.
The strong assassin forces the mysterious ghost to steal the talking dirk. The handsome con artist is waiting for them.
The heroes need to bring aid to the broken-hearted alchemist before the aristocrat has secured the support of the king or the ancient relic will be lost.
Write for at least 10 minutes about a thwarted plan, a treasured heirloom, and a romance. Focus on writing in a different style than your usual.
If you’re a DM, I cannot recommend this site enough. It has some really awesome dungeon generators and inn generators that are honestly so cool to look at.
A lot of the prompts are definitely geared towards classic tabletop rpgs, but I think they can still be useful to use as points of brainstorming or inspiration. Or if you’re in the mood to write cozy, trope-filled, pulpy fantasy, this is worth a look.
I would note, that rather than a true generator, it randomly generates a small set of prewritten story prompts. While this means the prompts themselves have a lot more internal continuity than some, it also means you’re pulling from a limited pool. Just something to think about.
A phantom river barge sails past a small town once per month, leaving malevolent, supernatural occurences in its wake
A great and powerful act of sabotage is planned, to destroy the city walls and leave it vulnerable to an attack.
Another super cool generator that can generate a full fantasy storyline for you. We’re talking theme, the main character, villains – primary and secondary, plot hooks, climaxes and red herrings.
It’s one of the most thorough generators on this list and definitely worth a look if you want something with a little more detail. It also has a lot of other cool stuff, including a planet generator. Owing to the length of the prompts, I’m not going to include a sample one here, but you should definitely head over and check it out!
Another heavily TTRPG generator list and a lot of the prompts on here are more of the ridiculous and comical variety, but you can find some gems with a little bit of patience. Lots of different genre-specific prompt generators if you know what you’re looking to write, and there is even a campaign generator if you’re looking to homebrew a campaign and need a place to start.
This story involves a quiet con artist, a park, chains, knife, and an attempted murder.
A cynical thief loses a lost treasure by finding a nifty gadget.
A mysterious dragon travels to another world by finding a chalice.
The short prompts are my favourites, if only because they are sparing-enough in their detail to spark all sorts of ideas as my brain tries to fill in the blanks. Warpcore is another one of those hidden gems I found with really solid prompt generators of the clean and short variety. You can also choose a prompt based on the gender of your main protagonist should you have something in mind already.
An angry witch is awaiting execution in a dark forest. Her spouse is set alight by a deadly duke. With the help of a mute minstrel, she must take up the sword in order to save her friends.
A bold thief is singing in a parched inn. His accomplice is poisoned by a vengeful vampire. With the help of a greedy barbarian, he must escape in order to save his memories.
11. TV Tropes Story Generator
If you love writing and tropes, you may have found your way down the TV Tropes rabbit hole at some point in your life. But did you know that you can also create writing prompts there? Owing to the website’s nature as the ultimate database on tropes, the story generator works a little differently than most, and randomly selects a trope for a series of categories including your setting, plot, hero and villain. In the end, the prompts might be a little more vague than most, but it’s definitely useful for kickstarting a little brainstorm!
A more recent discovery of mine with a ton of different options for generating characters and locations. But there are also a few options for generating plot hooks, and the one-shot campaign generator is great for giving you a starting point for your story/campaign/solo adventure.
The PCs are novice knights who must survive an undead apocalypse. The mood might be… action
There is a mysterious cleric who works against them. they are the ex-lover of a character.
13. GM’s Apprentice
My recent foray into solo RPG games led me to discover this little gem. While it might not be as prescriptive as some of the other options on this list, I think that is the strong suit of this particular app.
Towards the bottom, you will note the various elements it can generate for you, and the ‘Quest‘ option, will give you a fairly basic starting plot that you can interpret in a variety of ways.
I also really enjoy the randomized sensory details, and keywords that can be used to create more unique and meaningful story prompts.
Framing Event: Arrival of a circus
Objective: Rescue hostages from fortified building or manor
Location: The back room
Complication: A true identity is revealed
14. Random Emoji Generator
If you would rather engage your creative muscles or prefer a prompt that is a little less prescriptive and more open to interpretation, I would definitely check out an emoji generator, like this one. You can set how many you want, and randomize as many times as you like until you find a set of little pictograms that spark an idea.
I’ve used this method before to generate story prompts, and it ended up being a lot of fun and a good stretch of the imagination!
15. Dice and Roll Tables
This might be my favourite, and purely because rolling a handful of dice has always been extremely satisfying, but it’s also the one that might involve a little legwork.
First of all, you need dice. If you don’t have any, you can use Google’s dice roller which isn’t as fun but is free to use and available on all devices.
Next, you need roll tables that will generate those ideas when you roll the dice. This is where it might become difficult in that there is an abundance of tables to choose from.
Search on Pinterest or check out one of the many TTRPG Reddit pages (like this Table of Tables on Reddit) and you’ll likely find dozens. If you have something specific in mind, like villain motivations, or locations for secret lairs, a search on Google will probably get you what you want.
You can also browse through the tabletop handbook of your choice and see if there are any tables there that can spark the beginnings of an adventure. The Dungeon Master’s Guide is particularly useful for this.
You can also create your own tables, fleshing them out with the sorts of events and people that you would like to explore. I did this myself when I created 23 roll tables for generating a fantasy character.
Why Use A Plot Generator?
I admit it might seem kind of counter-intuitive to use a plot generator. You may think it makes the ideas less unique, or it may generate prompts that seem like they’ve been done already.
But the reality is that ideas are cheap. The reason why ideas might feel as though they’ve been done already is that they have. Because stories are built with structure and we’ve been telling them for as long as we’ve had the language to do so. They can be broken down and categorized, and at this point, there is nothing that is truly “original”.
What matters is what you do with your idea. Two people with the same prompt will create vastly different stories. And while some of these generators might produce what looks like a jumble of incongruent words, it’s up to your unique human brain to connect seemingly unrelated things in a way that is entertaining and adds meaning.
I think there are a lot of benefits to utilizing a plot generator that shouldn’t be disregarded, whether you’re writing a story for a class, prepping your next campaign session or participating in NaNoWriMo.
You never know where the right inspiration will come from.
A Look at the Big Picture
Sometimes just thinking about a story in simple terms can help you get started when you don’t know where to begin. I find this is especially true when I’m outlining. Rather than get caught up in the nitty-gritty, you need to look at the story as a whole. Who is the main character? What is their situation? What needs to happen to them to change that?
Something these plot generators have in common is that they strip down a story idea to its bones, and it can really help you approach your story in a new way. Personally, it helps me take that step back and look at the bigger picture. It forces me to ask myself “what kind of story do I want to tell” instead of getting bogged down in the minutiae.
Whether you’re an experienced writer with a daily writing habit or a newbie just getting started, we can all benefit from a little practice. This is where random prompts can be really useful for giving your creative brain a little warm-up session with something simple.
It’s also excellent for stretching the creative muscles and writing in a format or genre you might not be familiar with. The best way to grow as a writer and artist is to step outside of your comfort zone, and some of these nifty little generators provide a much easier way to do that.
Getting Past a Creative Block
Sometimes you fall out of love with what you’re working on. Sometimes you have a really great idea for a plot or a character, but the rest of the story eludes you. Sometimes you get stuck and you need something to shake up the characters or situation.
It’s just a part of process to get stuck or frustrated at certain points, and while I’m not saying to use a generator to create something random for you to use, it can be really helpful for jump-starting a brainstorming session or, like I mentioned before, for helping you see the story in a different way.
When you work on something for a long time, it can be hard to distance yourself from it. Writing something new or generating prompts for inspiration can help pull you out of a creative funk.
If you’re a new writer, I would absolutely recommend you spend some time on a plot generator with a notebook handy to scribble any ideas that grab you. Don’t waste time fretting over what you’re going to write first. What you need to do is get writing. Your ability to brainstorm and develop ideas will come with time and practice.
Remember that anything that can be considered “inspiration” for writing but isn’t the act of writing itself can very quickly become a distraction and an excuse to procrastinate. If you’re stuck, this might help you work through some ideas or generate some new ones, but the best thing you can do is to sit down, focus, and do the work.
I also think it’s important to bear in mind that you should not rely solely on generators because they tend to be very tropey and repetitive. At the end of the day, these generators are a tool, and when used in the right way, I think they can be extremely helpful.
What Do You Think About Plot Generators?
Have you used them before? Do you think they’re a good tool for writers or do you think they are better left alone? Have any you think I should add to the list? Let’s chat about them in the comments below!
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