The “Random Harlot Table” from the Original Dungeon Master’s Guide

Here’s a blast from the past in honour of Gary Gygax’s passing: the Random Harlot Encounter Table from the original Dungeon Master’s Guide:

Random Harlot Encounter Table

Read on for more…

The table below caused much snickering amongst my Dungeons and Dragons-playing peers in high school:

“Random Harlot” table from the original Dungeon Master’s Guide

Original Dungeon Master’s GuideIs it a description of Jarvis Street south of Carlton at night, or perhaps a random sampling of H&M’s clientele? Actually, it’s the Random Harlot Encounter Table from the Dungeon Master’s Guide, First Edition, written by the late Gary Gygax. It’s part of the section on random encounters in cities and towns. One of the possible encounter types listed was “harlot”, and stickler for details that Gygax was, he wrote this sub-table which described the sort of sex trade worker one could stumble into in a Lord of the Rings mileu.

Here’s what it says:

Harlot encounters can be with brazen strumpets or haughty courtesans, thus making ti difficult for the party to distinguish each encounter for what it is. (In fact, the encounter could be with a dancer only prostituting herself as it pleases her, an elderly madam, or even a pimp.) In addition to the offering of the usual fare, the harlot is 30% likely to know valuable information, 15% likely to make something up in order to gain a reward, and 20% likely to be, or with with, a thief. You may find it useful to use the sub-table below to see which sort of harlot encounter takes place:

00 – 10 Slovenly trull
11 – 25 Brazen strumpet
26 – 35 Cheap trollop
36 – 50 Typical streetwalker
51 – 65 Saucy tart
66 – 75 Wanton wench
76 – 85 Expensive doxy
86 – 90 Haughty courtesan
91 – 92 Aged madam
93 – 94 Wealthy procuress
95 – 98 Sly pimp
99 – 00 Rich panderer

An expensive doxy will resemble a gentlewoman, a haughty courtesan a noblewoman, the other harlots might be mistaken for goodwives and so forth.

All in all, Dungeons and Dragons prepared a lot of us for business in the high-tech world.

Needless to say, some of us didn’t quite get what this table was until we looked up “harlot”. You have to remember that this was the late 70s and early 80s, a decade before the World Wide Web, when you had to scour the woods and ravines for free porn. (For some reason, Toronto’s ravines were full of discarded porn magazines. That’s why Toronto guys my age are pretty good hikers.)

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