How to use AI as a Dungeon Master Tool

Posted by Annabelle Collins on


Watercolor illustration of books and a pair of glasses - dungeon master tools that I use all the time!

We all have tools that help us dungeon master.

They might be source-books, loot tables, or monster guides.

They help us with our preparation, and often make our work lighter and faster to get through. 

One of the newer tools in a DMs arsenal is AI. It’s something I’ve started really investigating this year.

Before we begin I just want to put forth a sort of disclaimer, because people can have all sorts of preconceptions when it comes to AI.

So, key thing to remember: AI is a tool that can help you do your job, it cannot do your job for you.
If you are a DM who is looking for ways that AI can help you, you've come to the right place! 

AI is a multitool with a lot of uses for dungeon masters, but one I particularly love is how incredible it is at combatting “Blank paper syndrome”! 

A blank page with "I don't know what to do" written on it - symbolising the blank page syndrome dungeon masters often face when prepping their DnD games

I’ll go through how to use an AI Chatbot (in this case the famous ChatGPT) to help with your DMing and show you some of the really cool ways it can shine.

So let’s get stuck in!



AI is a DM's Tool, not a DM.


The first thing to understand when using AI to help you prepare D&D games, is that you cannot just tell it to “build a cool dungeon for me” and expect great results.

A cool looking dragon with shades and a cool baseball cap at a cool angle sat outside his dungeon


It’s a bit like rolling a random dungeon from the tables at the back of the Dungeon Masters Guide. You’re much more likely to have success if you put effort and thought into what you’re creating and use the tables as inspiration.



Chat GPT can’t do your job for you, but if you learn how to use it properly, it can help you create much faster than you could on your own!

It’s also a really fun way to world build!



So how can AI help me Dungeon Master?


Using Chat GPT as a DM - image of a scroll and inkwell to refer to lore and a shiny geode to refer to loot

AI can be used to help world build in a whole bunch of ways, from designing a dungeon for you with suggestions for loot and lore, to acting as a sounding board while you create in-depth factions that tie into your existing world. 

Chat GPT can help with much more than that (balancing statblocks, making large numbers of complex rolls, suggesting battle tactics, designing traps to name a few) but we’ll stick to world building as an example for now.

Think of using AI like having someone around to bounce ideas off of. I find that it sparks my own creativity and makes for a fun and engaging way to world build.

There are all sorts of AI tools out there, but I usually use the infamous Chat GPT.

Chat GPT is free to use (hence I like it!). You can sign up here to get your account.



Decide what you want to create


Before we get going with the AI though, first we need to decide what we want to come away from this conversation with. You will probably have your own requirements tailored to your game.

Take a moment to think about what those are! 

A dark theme of forbidden knowledge and illegal spell research  At least one unique and memorable NPC.  Immersive descriptions for each location  A cool and creative complex trap  Hidden secrets within the dungeon leading to an Unexpected surprise / plot twist  A way to tie the dungeon to one of my open plot threads.  An interesting and unique magic item  A pickled onion


For example, if I was using AI to help build a dungeon I might draw up a shopping list like the one on the right.

I won’t get all of these things immediately after my first input. Chat GPT will probably give me some ideas but they will need improving.

Creating with the help of an AI is very much an iterative process - i.e. you have to bounce ideas back and forth with it.

Using Chat GPT to help DM - image of some secretly pickled onions (something I will hide in the dungeon somewhere)


As you begin your conversation with the AI bot you’ll want to follow the same cycle with each topic.


I have found I have best results using AI when I follow the State, Create, Debate, Curate method



State - Give the AI context and specifications

State, an image of a woman explaining context to the AI

 If you want detailed, relevant suggestions you are going to need to give Chat GPT some context. The more context you give, the better tailored the answers will be.

I begin by giving Chat GPT a bit of a lore dump, as well as a clear explanation of what I want out of our conversation.


I call this the “Primer”, as it is priming Chat GPT to be able to give answers more detailed and specific to your world.


Here are some suggestions of things you might want to include for your own primer :

What setting you’re using (homebrew? Sourcebook?) How many players you have Your party’s level and classes Theme of the campaign Your parties play style (do they prefer exploration and puzzles? More a murder-goblins-on-a-friday-night group? Really into detailed narrative descriptions and horror?) Any particulars about the setting you think could be relevant What you want to create today (A dungeon? A faction? A new spell? A nation? A theatre?) Location of said thing Purpose of your creation (Are you looking for a filler dungeon for a week when a player isn’t around? A modified Bag of Tricks?) Atmosphere Challenges / conflict Anything else you would find relevant if someone was asking you to come up with ideas for something!


Writing the primer can take a bit of time and thought, but the good news is that you can save it and use it again the future (with some tweaking!). 

AI DM Tools -  a lightbulb sparking up to show new ideas generated by world building with Chat GPT

It’s also just useful in general to challenge yourself to summarise your world like you're talking to someone who knows nothing about it.

Sometimes that alone can help spark ideas!


Generally Chat GPT either comments on your primer telling you what insights it has pulled out of the world, or it will go straight into trying to give you the answer it thinks you want.

I tend to ignore this and run through the state, create, debate, curate cycle again for each of the individual points I want to cover. It gives me more detail and more options to provide context!



Create - Get the AI to begin the brainstorming

Step 2 when using Chat GPT - Create

 After priming Chat GPT for the first time I ask it to create ideas.

For me, this is where AI really shines. Blank page syndrome is real and Chat GPT just tears through it!

I start a “create” stage by giving the AI a more specific set of context and asking it to generate ideas around a specific question.

For example, if I’m building a dungeon and I’m not sure where to set it, I might ask something like this:

An ancient and crumbling wizards tower dnd 5e How to use AI as a Dungeon Master Tool

“To begin with I want to decide the location for my dungeon and what it looks like.

The dungeon needs to be somewhere in the city or close outside it. The dungeon is medium sized and needs to be completable by three of my party .

Can you suggest three standard suggestions and three weird suggestions for where and what the dungeon might be?”


Generally, you’ll get some good responses with a short paragraph of detail. If you don’t vibe with them then that’s totally fine. Just ask Chat GPT to regenerate its response.

I find that within 2-3 goes I usually have something that sounds useful. I might even blend several ideas together.



Debate - Lead the conversation as you refine ideas

 Now that we have asked Chat GPT to generate some ideas it’s time for you as DM to take the lead.

Start going back and forth with the AI, taking the suggestions that resonate with you and ignoring the ideas that don’t. Give everything a heavy dose of tweaking to make it your own!

For me, this is the part I find the most enjoyable! I love having ideas suggested and being able to counter with my own and keep developing. Constant building and improving and tweaking makes me very happy!

Be warned though! It’s very easy to get caught up in the bouncing ideas back and forth and go into further and further detail that you may not need. Remember that list we made earlier? Use it to make sure you are roughly still on task!



Curate - Choose which ideas you’ll use and which you won’t

step 4 using Chat GPT properly - curate.
A folder filled with cool ideas that I am definitely going to use again and not just forget about, how to use AI as a DM tool

Choose the best ideas and suggestions from your conversation with Chat GPT and trim the parts you’re less keen on.

If it’s a cool idea you don’t want to delete, you can always chuck it in a “Cool ideas” folder to revisit another time.


You have probably already been curating along the way, while debating ideas with Chat GPT.

You’ll still want to do a final sort through as well though!

As we mentioned before, the strength of AI-generated content is as inspiration and a starting point.

Try to use the AI-generated content as a foundation and refine it with your own creativity and storytelling skills. Your players want you to DM, not Chat GPT! :)

you are special! AI will never be able to replace dungeon masters in my opinion. You have the spark of creativity and emotion and judgement that AI just can't match .... yet!



The Final Takeaway


How to use Chat GPT properly: State, Create, Debate, Curate

So in the end we have learned that AI can be a very useful addition to the Dungeon Master Toolkit.

To use AI effectively we have to prime it with context about the world it’s working in, then hone ideas using the state, create, debate, curate method.

Before I go, I want to remind that you are the Dungeon Master for a reason! AI can be a great tool for DMs but it lacks the perspective and judgements that you can make. It’s your spark that brings the world to life :)

Bouncing ideas off of AI is a really fun way to brainstorm and develop your own plans. I’d encourage everyone to give it a go! It might not be for you and if so that’s ok ... but you might find it really useful and fun. I do!

A beautiful fantast landscape representing all the incredible things a DM can worldbuild, especially when using tools such as Chat GPT

Edit, written 05/02/2024

So I've been learning a lot more about AI recently. I've come to understand that as well as being an amazing tool, there needs to be more regulation for the big tech companies. I encourage everyone to get familiar with the tools and to learn more about the AI revolution and how it will shape our world and our futures.
The more we understand, the more we can advocate for ethical use. :)
If you want a place to start off, I recommend this 25 minute talk by the former Chief Business Officer of Google X. 
- Annabelle
I make magnetic modular dnd dungeon tiles to make epic snap-together battlemaps for all your TTRPG needs!



Hi! I'm Annabelle! I'm the author of this blog and a huge nerd!

Annabelle Collins, Chief Artificer of Modular Realms and inventor of the auto-snapping magnetic system. She loves playing DnD games with her friends and crafting DnD Scenery


I also make and sell magnetic, double-sided, modular dungeon tiles!

I've also been told I need to do more self promotion, something about people not knowing about the cool things you make unless you tell them! xD

So, yeah ... I make and sell badass D&D terrain tiles! 

My dungeon tiles are magnetic, snapping together instantly so you can build really cool maps in seconds.

They can be used to build 3D structures like stairs or buildings as well.

The terrain pieces are also double-sided, so you get twice as many options with each tile! :D

Not only that - the dungeon tiles come in a box disguised as a spellbook to store away on your bookshelf!

And I even plant a tree with every order! (I like forests)

Anyway, the dungeon tiles are really cool and you should totally check them out here!

Modular Realms magnetic dnd terrain, basically a banner with a dungeon tileset I do laid out as different battlemaps and shown with the book box packaging

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  • Hi Brady! Thanks so much! I’m really glad you’ve found it useful! :D
    Personally I think the used right it’s no more cheating that reading books for inspiration is cheating ^ ^

    Annabelle on
  • I love this article so much! I just started using ChatGPT for dm stuff earlier today and was looking for peoples opinions on whether it was “cheating” or not, and this is exactly what I needed! Thanks so much

    Brady on
  • As a DM, I have found my favorite AI tools to include:
    ChatGPT 3.5/4 for quick random requests for names, items found on a goblin, hoard descriptions, tavern descriptions, menus, headstone epitaphs, …
    Claude 2 I upload a pdf or the text of an adventure and it helps me to flesh out NPCs, provide sample quotes, motivations, quirks, secrets that were left out of the adventure. It is also a great handy reference and summarizer. I’ve also used it to create clues, side quests and new NPCs for the world described in the adventure.
    MidJourney For the creation of image files representing NPC/Character portraits, Scenes, Artifacts, …

    Will M. on
  • Hey thanks! I really appreciate that! ^ ^
    I had someone tell me they were unfollowing me because of this article xD I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it! :D

    Annabelle on
  • Thank you for your efforts! Nice read!

    Dave on

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