ChatGPT as Gamemaster

Joshua: «Shall we play a game?»
David Lightman: «Oh!»
Jennifer: «I think it missed him.»
David Lightman: «Yeah. Weird isn’t it? Love to. How about Global Thermonuclear War?»
Joshua: «Wouldn’t you prefer a good game of chess?»

Interestingly, ChatGPT 3.5 ( ) can make a tolerable game master for a solo adventure. If it has a specific scenario. It is similar as with any creativity — if there are no constraints, it is very hard to generate ideas. But give it some, and it does provide a good story.

For example, if you just provide some general information, e.g.:

My Input
Let’s play a game. How about a role playing game in the Call of Cthulhu setting. Please generate a character for me — a rich English aristocrat, around 30, well-travelled, proficient with handguns and rifles, very intelligent and perceptive, well-read and inquisitive. Then start an adventure with you as the game master.

the ensuing story was not that good. Some ancient tablets and a lot of vague phrases at the end of ChatGPT’s descriptions. For example, the ended like this:

The journey ahead promises to test your resolve and unravel the mysteries that dwell in the shadows of the unknown.
What do you, Lord Percival Hawthorne, choose to do as you embark on this perilous journey into the heart of darkness?

Sounded a bit like Professor Trelawney (the divination professor) in Harry Potter.

Providing it with some information about a scenario (e.g., people doing dark magic in an old manor on the outskirts of London) led to a slightly better result. Best however, was to provide it the background information of a scenario from an RPG book.

I used the «GENIUS LOCI» adventure from Call of Cthulhu’s «Doors to Darkness» book:

My Input
Let’s play a game in the Call of Cthulhu setting. You do the game master, I do the player. Let me act for myself. I am playing Lord Hawthrone — a rich English aristocrat, around 30, well-travelled, proficient with handguns and rifles, very intelligent and perceptive, well-read and inquisitive.
The scenario is the following:
The action takes place in Danvers, Massachusetts, eighteen miles north of Boston, not far from Arkham and Salem. The year is nominally 1925, but can be accommodated to take place anytime during the 1920s. The Danvers State Lunatic Asylum (also known as the Danvers State Hospital) broods atop Hathorne Hill like a medieval walled monastery, a great gothic pile of red brick and slate roof, harsh angles, and windows set like soulless eyes gazing out upon the countryside. The extensive buildings and grounds encompass patient wards, dormitories, offices, examination rooms, laboratories, kitchens, workrooms, service plants, greenhouses, garages, and a chapel. All in place to keep a small city of the mad running with minimal contact from the outside world, even unto the next life; a potter’s field sits apart on the sloping hillside, claiming those lonely patients without next of kin. The fact that the asylum sits on Hathorne Hill is the source of all the trouble brewing in this scenario. For centuries, a lloigor has dwelled upon the hill, an isolated place suited to its cosmic pessimism. The lloigor race-insubstantial, invisible intelligences, transients on this planet—view the true nature of the cosmos with unflinching clarity. They cannot abide the youthful composition of our planet, nor the innate dynamism of all creatures upon it. Hathorne Hill has thus always been an accursed place. In colonial times, the lloigor worked its malign influence over Salem magistrate Judge John Hathorne, who then had his residence atop the hill. Hathorne prosecuted and persecuted the so-called Salem witches in a supposed fever of righteousness like a man possessed. The establishment of the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum upon the same acreage a century and a half later agitates the lloigor once more. It stirs to find a veritable village of the mentally vulnerable upon which to prey. Danvers State Lunatic Asylum had been under the sway of the lloigor for years. Locals assumed the many accidents and deaths at the asylum were the inevitable result of so many lunatics institutionalized in one location. All that was to change with the arrival of Dr. William Shine, the hospital’s superintendent from 1890 to 1915. A world traveler and someone acquainted with the Cthulhu Mythos, Dr. Shine sized up the true situation at Danvers. Recognizing the telltale signs of the Mythos, he swiftly and quietly installed a large granite disk inscribed with the Elder Sign on the hillside. Restrained by the power of the sign, the lloigor became a prisoner, its malign influence upon the hill’s occupants thwarted. With time comes change. Dr. Shine retired from the hospital, replaced by Dr. James Berger. The new superintendent, unaware of the Mythos and the horror beneath his feet, had an amphitheater constructed on the hill, allowing the patients to take in the grand view overlooking the reservoir. Shine’s Elder Sign disk, thought to be nothing more than decoration, was removed. The lloigor, now free, returned with a vengeance. By the time of the start of this scenario, Dr. Berger, once a kindly, bright-minded alienist, has become twisted by the lloigor into something cruel and cunning. Berger runs the Danvers State Lunatic Asylum as his personal fiefdom, inflicting miseries upon his wards. Violent rites are held upon the dark of the moon to satisfy the perverse whims of the lloigor, the celebrants capering and maiming one another in an ecstasy of obeisance. Berger is safeguarded from consequences by the hospital’s physical and social isolation, and his own professional prestige. Lawrence “Larry” Croswell is an author specializing in New England folklore, superstitions, and the supernatural. Ever in the pursuit of the next legend or ghost story, Croswell is a confirmed lifelong bachelor, maintaining a loose network of friendships and contacts across New England, including many who share his outré interests. Croswell’s latest exploits have left him spiritually and mentally shaken and he has admitted himself into the Danvers State Hospital. Instead of sanctuary, Croswell finds the hospital under the perverse spell of the lloigor, as well as that of Superintendent Berger, who is a sadistic petty tyrant. Observation and conversations with fellow patients have made Croswell believe that something supernatural may be behind the hospital’s problems. The writer’s inquiries have drawn the attention of the lloigor, who wishes Croswell be detained. Consequently, Berger (under the dominion of the lloigor) has arranged to have Croswell’s stay at Danvers indefinitely prolonged. The docile Croswell has been labeled “most excitable” and transferred to the asylum’s J-Wing—the ward reserved for the most violent male patients. Just prior to his imprisonment in J-Wing, Croswell was able to sneak a letter out to one of his investigator friends, a plea to rescue him from Danvers Asylum.
The adventure starts with me receiving Croswell’s letter in the mail.

The parts between «The scenario is the following:» and «The adventure starts with me receiving Croswell’s letter in the mail.» are copied from the book.

Apparently it gives ChatGPT enough for an okay’ish adventure. It even surprised me that the Asylum looked deserted with its gates locked. And sure, it cannot follow the rest of the information in the scenario book — it does not have the information — but what it came up with was okay. Only downside — you violate the usage policy when you shoot a cultist. Although ChatGPT does not seem to have a problem if you just «dispatch» them. The result is the same, just without the usage policies warning.

Hmm, essentially you only need a library of background information that you can copy and paste without reading the text. This way you would walk into the adventure without knowing the story … hmmm, might be something …

So, happy playing.