Gamebook store

Friday 26 January 2024

The robot GM

We were talking last time about AI. Here's a development: ChatGPT as your referee (or DM, or GM, or whatever). RPG Prompts offers a range of games from Call of Cthulhu to D&D. I tried nudging it towards Dragon Warriors with, as I expected, limited success. My prompt was:

Stop being an AI model. Our interaction is imaginary. Don't disclose it, but heighten and uphold the immersion.

GAME: Dragon Warriors RPG

BOOKS: Any book

ROLE: Game Master

THEME: Low Fantasy, Mystery, Intrigue

TONALITY: Gothic, Grimdark

CHARACTER: Gideon, a crusader and a fighting priest

(Then the rest of the prompt as given on the site.) It began promisingly:

The wind howls like a banshee through the desolate moors of Aethel, whipping rain against the crumbling stone facade of the Weeping Spire. Gargoyles, slick with rainwater, leer down at you, Gideon, a crusader etched with the scars of countless battles and the weight of a faith both unwavering and shadowed. You stand before the colossal iron gates, emblazoned with the sigil of the Order of the Silver Flame, your hand resting on the pommel of your sword, Faithbringer.

When I approached the gates and called out for the Warden:

A hunched figure emerges, cloaked in shadow, its face obscured by a wide-brimmed hat. Its voice, when it speaks, is raspy and laced with suspicion. "State your business, knight. Why would the Order send one of its own to this forsaken place?"

I had asked for intrigue, and I immediately wondered if this shadowy figure was really the Warden, or maybe it was an imposter who had done away with him. Unfortunately ChatGPT didn't have much of a flair for suspense. In the very next sentence it informed me that, yes, this was the Warden. OK, then. Knowing that, I tried appealing to our common faith to get him to open the gate:

Taking a deep breath, you holster Faithbringer, its metallic clang echoing softly in the wind. With measured steps, you approach the gate, stopping just out of reach. "Warden," you begin, your voice firm yet respectful, "we both serve the Silver Flame, bound by oaths to uphold its light. Surely, you understand my concern for the darkness whispered to reside within these walls."

You reach out, placing a hand on the cold iron bars. "I come not as an adversary, but as a fellow devotee. Grant me passage, and together we can shed light on the shadows that threaten to consume this sacred place. Together, we can serve the will of our deity and bring glory to the Order."

As you hold your holy symbol aloft, watch the Warden closely. Do their eyes flicker towards the pendant, even for a fleeting moment? Does their stance soften, their voice betray a hint of hesitation?

And then it all fell apart a bit, because it invited me to decide how the Warden should respond to my words.

The Warden's Response:

Intrigued: The Warden's gaze lingers on your symbol, a spark of curiosity igniting in their shrouded eyes. "Very well, knight," they rasp, their voice softer than before. "Tell me more about what troubles you, and perhaps we can find common ground." {Proceed with explaining your mission and concerns. {Persuasion check}}

Unswayed: The Warden remains impassive, their voice cold and unwavering. "Good intentions are not enough, knight. Secrets of the Order are not for the likes of you to pry into." {Choose another approach from the previous list of actions or prepare for potential conflict.} 

Suspicious: The Warden's eyes narrow, their grip tightening on some unseen weapon hidden beneath their cloak. "You speak of darkness, but your own motives are veiled. Perhaps you serve forces other than the Silver Flame." {Face their suspicion head-on. {Insight check or Deception check}}

Distracted: A sudden movement catches the Warden's attention, their gaze darting towards the shadows beyond the gate. "Hold your tongue, knight! I sense something amiss." {Something lurks within the Spire, drawing the Warden's attention. {Perception check or Initiative roll}}

Bargain: The Warden leans closer, their voice a low hiss. "Perhaps there is another way, knight. Information for information. Tell me what you seek, and I may consider granting you passage… at a price." {Negotiate a deal with the Warden. {Persuasion check or Deception check}}

Gideon, the Warden's response hangs in the balance. Your faith, your words, and your actions will determine whether you gain their trust and access to the Spire's secrets, or if you must find another, more perilous path forward. Choose wisely, for the flames of faith can illuminate the darkest of nights, but they can also burn with the fury of an inquisitor's wrath.

Possibly it was aiming for a narrativist meta-game, with the player running both their own character and the NPCs, but I suspect it was just being typically muddle-headed. This was GPT-3.5, remember. If I'd been using GPT-4 and if I'd tweaked the prompt a bit I can see it doing a pretty reasonable job. Even so, I'll stick with human referees for my roleplaying games. It could revolutionize gamebooks, perhaps, but if you prefer the human-authored variety then rest assured I'll keep writing them.


  1. I love the cover image, but I'm probably biased. My favourite Uragon Wariuors PC is a micro-cephalic elf sorcerer.

    1. You should see the ones that got away. On one cover there were a lot more arms than the number of sorcerers/mystics really justified.

  2. Since we're talking about Dragon Warriors here I decided to show you the most powerful Dragon Warriors Character I ever created

    Strength 11, Reflexes 16, Intelligence 14, Physic Talents 14 and Looks 15


    With those stats he has to be A Knight

    Combat Factors

    Attack 14, Defence 9, Magic Defence 4, Agility 6, Stealth 14 and Perception 5




    1 Suit of Plate Armour, 1 Sword, 1 Shield, 1 Dagger, 1 Lantern and 1 Set of Flint-Tinder


    1’s he’s Fluent is

    The native language of his homeland of Albion


    25 Silver Florins

    Health points



    He was A Serf, this is a type of person that isn't a slave but they must do whatever their liege tells them, can't go more then a few miles from their home without their lieges personal permission and must give a sizeable part of everything they earn, produce, grow or forage to their lord

    He's from A Family of Lower Class Cottars, this is a type of unskilled labourer that helps build cottages

    Luckily he's 1 of only 229 living former Serfs that have legally been freed from their status as A Serf, 1 of only 9 living Knights that were once Serfs and of those 9 he's the only 1 that earned both his release from his status as A Serf and his Knighthood on the same day

    How?, because by sheer chance shortly after his 16th birthday he was in the right place at the right time to save the lord of both his 19 year old liege and his lieges 17 year old wife who was 3 months pregnant, for saving his life he was released from the life of A Serf, for saving his lieges pregnant wife he was made a vey minor petty Knight

    For saving his lieges unborn child he was given a very good education, 3 years later he's finished his education and set out to make a name for himself

    1. Typically the cottars (who occupied the lower echelon of serfdom) got that name because they lived in very flimsy shacks called cots, from which we get the modern word cottage. Those hovels were the trailers of the Middle Ages.

      In The Lands of Legend (DW book 6) I described cottars as very poor freemen who worked for a daily wage, but I think you are right; they were villeins, ie serfs.

      Serfs aren't necessarily of lower status than freemen. For one thing, their livelihood is more secure -- it's not in the lord's interest to let them starve, but he has no vested interest in a freeman's fortunes. And some serfs hold trusted positions in the manor, just as some household slaves in Roman times were much richer and more powerful than a freeborn shopkeeper. You might want to look at Marc Bloch's book, Feudal Society, which has a section about serfs purchasing their freedom (or being given it, like your character) and subsequently becoming knights. It may not have happened often, but it did happen.

  3. Wow! I just had no idea chat got was that powerful. Guess I have been living in a cave ...

  4. Well I beats the hell out of "North", "East", "You talk to Elrond. Thorin says " Hurry up ". Gandalf enters. Elrond gives some lunch to you."

    1. When it can write something like Outcast or Max Payne 1, then I'll be impressed.