Home / Delve into the Depths in the Kobold Blog / The Random GM: 50 Identifying Features

The Random GM: 50 Identifying Features

The Random GM: 50 Identifying Features

Egyptian dice (600-800 BC)From the genesis of the D&D game, random lists have been used to create, inspire, and complicate games everywhere. A GM is essentially keeping all the knowledge of a fabricated world inside his or her head, along with all the relevant laws of physics and mechanics, which are transformed into a living story around the table. With that in mind, sometimes it is difficult to come up with appropriate names, descriptions, NPCs, castles, or environmental features on the fly. Luckily, there are certain tools that simplify a GM’s life no matter what game he or she is running.

These random generation tables can be used for just about any topic. The trouble is that though they are great to have, they take time to generate yourself. The good news is I have taken the liberty and done the hard work up front, leaving you free to copy, paste, and print right into your notes.

Nonplayer characters are a staple of roleplaying games across the genre. Your campaign may contain anywhere from dozens to upwards of a thousand different people. It can be difficult at times to give each one of these individuals their own look, sound, motives, backstory, and identity. Around the table I’ve found that giving an NPC at least one truly stand-out feature helps the players latch onto that person, as well as start to extrapolate some of their own conclusions about their lifestyle. For example, noting that an NPC shuffles a deck of cards deftly despite missing a few fingers or carries himself with impeccable posture and a raised chin paints a picture of who they might be. These identifying features can be used to distinguish between a wide variety of characters or serve as a starting point for a new adventure. It may be that running into someone with a feature such as number 17 or 22 may pique the interest of the party and raise a lot of questions that hopefully lead to excitement.

d50. Identifying Features

  1. Missing the same finger on each hand
  2. Has no tongue
  3. Tip of nose cut off
  4. Impeccable posture
  5. Constantly sneezing, sniffling, or coughing
  6. Badly rotting teeth
  7. Thick and veiny neck
  8. One eye sewn shut
  9. Scar cut in the shape of a moon inside a pyramid
  10. Tattoo across the ribs of five crowns in a circle
  11. Completely hairless
  12. Elaborately painted on necklace
  13. Missing jaw bone, skin remains
  14. Necrosis spreading slowly from dead ear
  15. Carries around a dead bird
  16. Foams at corner of mouth while speaking
  17. Bleeds from a fresh wound
  18. Wears a devil mask carved of black stone over a burned face
  19. Missing skin around mouth
  20. Three diamond-shaped metal shards floating around head
  21. Clothes and skin covered in a blue and white fungus
  22. A small imp is partially fused within his or her skin
  23. Arcane runes wrap around the neck like a collar
  24. Carries a bag of insects that he or she eats constantly
  25. Unblinking eyes that look like they are made of gold
  26. Small branches protruding from head like horns
  27. Scrawny and stuttering but genius at diplomatic solutions
  28. Thick and gruff beard knotted into a symbol
  29. All facial features are distorted as if stretched or disordered
  30. Extremely gaunt and frail; skin is tough like boiled leather
  31. Blood red patch of veiny skin on face
  32. Partial paralysis of one side of body
  33. Eyes leak small amounts of runny goo
  34. Left shoulder and neck has intricate mazelike scar
  35. Speaks with thick nearly indecipherable accent
  36. Bushy moustache that twirls at the ends, is actually fake
  37. Limps dramatically, but only while outside
  38. Wears a shirt woven from the tentacles of a monster
  39. Carries a large gearwork machine on its back, clicking and grinding constantly
  40. Has a two-headed raven familiar
  41. Wears a helm shaped like the giant head of a stag beetle
  42. Long forked beard with the ends capped with a spike
  43. Skin spotted with weeping lesions
  44. Forearms are covered with damp bandages
  45. A large node or bulge under the skin of the neck
  46. Has multiple scars from being struck by lightning
  47. Small polished stones encrusted on own brow
  48. Fingers and hands covered in black ink
  49. Long locks of flowing hair that shimmer red in the light
  50. One hand is shriveled, aged, and scaly, but the affliction appears to stop at a jeweled leather bracer

4 thoughts on “The Random GM: 50 Identifying Features”

  1. I read an article a few years ago that suggested that DM’s should employ all five senses (Smell, Touch, Sight, Hearing and Taste) when initially describing a scene. Perhaps in a future installment of Random GM you could try something along those lines. I for one would find it useful. Thanks for this article. A lot of the entries provide a good jumping off point for intriguing NPC backgrounds.

  2. Yes, of course. GM’s can use the five senses in order to draw on the players imaginations and bring a sense of realism to the scene. Perhaps 50 different sensory descriptions could be a useful tool. Glad you guys are enjoying the articles!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.

Join the Kobold Courier and Earn Loot!

Stay informed with the newest Kobold Press news and updates delivered to your inbox weekly. Join now and receive a PDF copy of Prepared 2!

Ghouls in a graveyard, the cover of Prepared 2

Join The Kobold Courier


Be like Swolbold. Stay up to date with the newest Kobold Press news and updates delivered to your inbox twice a month.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
Scroll to Top