ChatGPT is a chatbot service used by hundreds of thousands of users to do all kinds of things, from research to business development to education and entertainment. It is an open-source platform that can aid users in many different ways. It is still a relatively new service, but it has already gained significant traction and popularity. I myself have previously used ChatGPT 3.5 to help with my writing, brainstorming ideas for world building or plot points, fleshing out characters and such. But how would it impact another hobby: Dungeons & Dragons?

But only recently I started to use it for a different purpose. As a forever DM, I enjoy building worlds and creating stories for people to play out, going on grand adventures. Sometimes, though, I don’t have the time to sit down and think up a list of items for a magic shop to be stocked with or a series of traps for a dungeon or temple, so I started turning to ChatGPT for a bit of inspiration while DMing.

About a week ago, I had the idea to try and use ChatGPT to play a DnD game, entirely run by the program itself. At first, I played a game in which ChatGPT was the DM, with myself as the sole player, but later I also attempted to DM a game with it myself, allowing ChatGPT to create their own PC. Results were… interesting.

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Goria the Tiefling Barbarian

My first attempt at using ChatGPT to DM a DnD game was not exactly a failure, but it wasn’t exactly a success either. I started by telling the program I wanted to play a game of DnD 5e, and that I’d like to know about the world in which the game would take place. It then gave a brief description of a very, very generic fantasy world and asked for the relevant information about the character I’d created.

Fleshing out Goria, my new tiefling barbarian, was interesting at first, and ChatGPT got me going on a journey about a vague and sinister evil lurking on the outskirts of the land. Pretty generic fantasy stuff. After speaking to the city council and questioning some villagers, I found a small ruin in the forest and eagerly announced myself to whatever was lurking within (’cause, y’know… barbarian).

Thus began possibly the most boring round of combat I’ve ever played in any game, text-based or otherwise.

See, ChatGPT–as per the developers’ own content policy–cannot generate descriptions of explicit content, including graphic violence. This is basically what DnD combat is built on, especially when playing a barbarian. The descriptions of each round of bloodless, G-rated combat against the ethereal shadowy beings the program generated was so boring that I never actually progressed with the story beyond this. In this regard, ChatGPT is woefully unsuited to be a DnD Dungeon Master, so Goria’s tale was discarded. It’s not bad at plot hooks and world building, but don’t try and use it for combat encounters.

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Elara Moonshadow the Half-Elf Ranger

The first attempt at having ChatGPT play a game with me as the DM was more entertaining, but the program evidently still had some things to learn about being a player. As a simple computer program, ChatGPT lacks basic human instinct and intuition. It did okay generating a character for the game and was able to roll for the character’s skill checks when asked. We played in a world of my own creation that I’ve worked on for awhile and run previous adventures in, which I provided a few details of so the program could create a character.

The story began with young Elara investigating into the growing threat of an increasing number of werewolves in the western forest. Long story short, Elara did okay sneaking through the orcish territory of Negrol, but then attempted to fend off a werewolf with an iron pot… and a chair.

dnd d&d werewolf dungeons and dragons chatgpt

In hindsight, allowing the program to pick its own improvised weapons was probably a mistake, but the program was the one that decided to charge out into the snowy night and start swinging around chairs and pots. As I said, it does lack intuition. Needless to say, neither the chair nor the pot were either silvered or magical, so Elara’s story ended there. The werewolf ate her.

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Other Problems

ChatGPT also suffers from problems with general memory and continuity. It constantly struggles to figure out how combat works, usually making attack and/or damage rolls for my characters, and it doesn’t seem too good at keeping track of who has how many hit points. The program also has a bad habit of just continuing the narrative without asking for a single skill check (i.e. I’d try to bargain with a shopkeeper or sneak around somewhere and the program would simply allow this to happen without asking for a Persuasion Check or Stealth Check). So it’s not a flawless program, but it’s also not bad at certain things. I’m interested in seeing how it develops over time.

You can try out ChatGPT at chat.openai.com.

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