Tabletop Review: Random Acts of… Violence

Random Acts of… Violence
Publisher: 4 Winds Fantasy Gaming
Page Count: 6
Release Date: 09/15/2011
Cover Price: $1.99
Get it Here:
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Random Acts of… Violence caught my eye for a number of reasons. For starters, the name is undoubtedly intriguing. Secondly, the example act of violence given was a dart flying across an inn’s common room and hitting a PC in the face. Hilarity. Finally, the book was short, with only a hundred acts written. The reason that is interesting is because the book is designed so that a DM can simply roll percentile dice and get one of the acts. The convenience factor is undeniable.

The book starts off with a simple explanation of how to use the book. The instances described do not come with stats, damage rolls, or even an expectation that the act will inspire action on the part of the players. It can just be flavor. On the other hand, it can set up random encounters and possibly even lead to a quest or two. Heck, just reading through these I was inspired with several ideas for a potential campaign.

The acts of violence (and they are indeed violent) described in the book are pretty gruesome. Some of them almost seemed ripped from the beginning of an episode of CSI. For example, dead bodies showing up in barrels, skin flayed from faces, and dead prostitutes galore fill the pages. Other ideas rely on almost humorous instances, such as the aforementioned dart incident, and similar acts that involve mugs, rotten fruit, and even the odd weapon or two. Perhaps my favorite involves a halfling and a dwarf assaulting a gnome and demanding money. Ah, short on short violence. Does it ever get old?

The setup is well designed so as to created a truly random event. Each instance is numbered, meaning you can just roll two d10 and get one that way. The only issue here is that each act isn’t necessarily suited for any situation. In fact, a lot of these require the PCs to be in or heading to a town. Some of them can be altered on the spot by a quick thinking DM, but their scope is limited.

Also, since no stats are given, these acts can be used on pretty much any campaign using any style. It needn’t be D&D. However, they are clearly designed for a fantasy setting, thus limiting this particular book’s appeal. It appears the creators are turning this random acts thing into a series of short books that will cover several genres. So, if this looks interesting to you but you aren’t running a fantasy campaign, look out for a more suitable option in the future.

For only a couple of bucks, this book is amusing and potentially really helpful. For those DMs that aren’t good at coming up with random things like this, or those just wanting to throw a bit of chaos into the mix, Random Acts of… Violence can be extremely helpful. If nothing else, it is sure to incite a few laughs.

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