Neural Network Creates Bizarre Names For 'Dungeons & Dragons' Monsters

Sunday, 25 March 2018 - 6:13PM
Technology
Artificial Intelligence
Weird Science
Sunday, 25 March 2018 - 6:13PM
Neural Network Creates Bizarre Names For 'Dungeons & Dragons' Monsters
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Wizards of the Coast
Results tend to be mixed when an artificial intelligence does something creative. And when you ask an AI to play an imagination-intensive game like Dungeons & Dragons, you're asking for trouble (or just weirdness).

Janelle Shane is a research scientist who frequently works with neural networks, having already messed with them enough to create AI-generated Christmas carols and Valentine's Day messages. More recently, Shane tried to teach a neural network how to invent some cool fantasy monsters - she did so by feeding the neural network a list of 2,205 monster names from the 2nd edition Dungeons & Dragons Monster Manual, and then asking it to generate similar names on its own.

The results ended up being a little unusual, even going by high fantasy standards. On your next D&D campaign, be on the lookout for spectral slugs, fire brains, owlborns, walfablangs, giant fraithwarps, chromatic wolves, putter vampires, durp snakes, desert beeples, or hatfrights. Or if you're really unlucky, you might come across a jabberwont, a pigaloth, or a "spectral wolf greepy":







Frankly, there are a couple cool sounding monsters hidden in there somewhere. A name like rain golem, stone cat, shadowstaffer, or crystal human is enough that a creative enough designer could whip up something that might actually fit in a fantasy game without looking ridiculous. And a lot of people on her Twitter page have latched onto the "spectral slug" as something that they'd actually want to encounter in the game.

Recurrent neural networks, which can attempt to learn patterns based on information fed to them (in this case, monster names) and create new names which fit that pattern, are fascinating tools to experiment with. As this shows, they're not quite at the level where they can consistently create monsters worthy of the iconic Wizards of the Coast game, but a neural network can slowly improve as it's fed more and more info.

In the meantime, you can see more bizarre monster names and even some attempts at AI-generated spell names on Shane's website. All you need to do is mock up some stats, and they're ready to go in-game. 

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