D&D Archives04/28/2007

Barrel, Crate, and Sack Generator
By Mark A. Jindra

If we've learned one thing from video games, arguable it's this: smash open every container you come across and see what's hidden inside. And when it comes to role-playing games, PCs invariably come across a numberless amount of such containers, stored within tavern basements, temple backrooms, and the dusty corners of ancient dungeons.

So when your PCs smash open these containers, what do they contain?

Our thanks to everyone participating in our "1001 Things in a Barrel" message board thread. We've combed through your suggestions, combining them with materials presented in the Arms & Equipment Guide, to present the following Barrel, Crate and Sack Generator!

That is, you provide the barrels, crates and sacks. The generator then fills them for you!

(Launch Barrel, Crate, and Sack Generator)

Download the Barrel, Crate, and Sack Generator now (9,91mb ZIP) unzip it into a directory on your machine and run the "index.htm" file in your web browser to use the utility off-line. Runs best in Internet Explorer 7on Windows and Safari on Mac systems.

NOTE: If you are running Windows XP there are be some security settings that may cause the generator to fail when used off-line. You can go to the directory that has the index.htm file and right click it to bring up the properties for that file. At the bottom there should be a security heading, unblock the file. Then it should run correctly.


The following information was taken from the "Information" tab of the generator and contains instructions on the generators use as well as some behind the scenes information on the inner workings of this generator.

Basic Results Tab

Click the "Generate" button to generate barrels, crates and sacks. You may use the form to the left to determine what size and amount of containers to generate. The "bulk rate" to the right may be used to alter the final price of the containers to better fit your campaign There's good reason for this: prices were extrapolated from their original sourcebooks, and materials thus become quite rewarding in bulk; DMs may well wish to adjust these prices to what they wish their true values to be, for PCs trying to sell such materials.

Room Results Tab

Click the "Generate" button to generate barrels, crates and sacks to fill the room area below. You may use the length, width, and fill % form fields to generate results for different size rooms. 100% fill assumes 5 foot height (that is, the height these containers are stacked to, not the height of the room itself!). You may use the check boxes to the left to determine what size containers fill the room. The "bulk rate" to the right may be used to alter the final price of the containers to better fit your campaign.


Selecting "R" from the form field dropdowns will utilize the dice set by the "Random" area of the generator. You can select the number of dice as well as a plus (+) or minus (-) modifier. The value is currently set at 1d6; however you may set this as desired: for instance, 3d6-1 or 4d12+10. The minimum value that can be rolled is 1.

CLR Button

The "CLR" button located next to the "Generate" buttons will clear the results in the current tab (Basic Results or Room Results), but will not clear the form settings.

Options Tab & Options Button

You may use the checkboxes to determine what types of materials appear when containers are generated. The generator focuses on the items from the left column, presented in the Arms & Equipment Guide. Items from the right column appear less often.

Printer Friendly Button

The "Printer Friendly" button will open a window with the currently focused tab results formatted for printing (Basic Results or Room Results).

Auto Clear Results Button

Repeatedly clicking the left "Generate" button to create basic results will tally those results and allow you to create a considerable list. This list will be collated on the printer friendly page. If you do not wish to have the results, you may click this button; this will generate fresh results each time. The right "Generate" button for room content will automatically clear, regardless of this buttons settings.

Clear Form Button

The form fields to the left will not automatically clear unless you switch to basic generation. This button will let you quickly clear the settings.

Dice Roller Button

This button will open a dice bar. Clicking the dice will send the result to the "Basic Results" or "Room Results" tabs. If you are not on one of these tabs, the generator will flip to the "Basic Results" tab. The dice totals will not appear on the printer friendly page. Clicking "More Dice" will open a full dice roller.

Bulk Rate

The "Bulk Rate" to the right may be used to alter the final price of the containers to better fit your campaign.

Other Generators

It is possible to get certain results when magic items are selected that will open another generator. These are Olidammara's Dice, Fist of Emirikol, The Deck of Many Things, Variant Deck of Many Things, and Rod of Wonder generators.


Sizes: When building this generator, the sizes of each barrel, crate and sack were first determined. We started by looking at various real-world barrel volumes. The standard barrel of oil is 42 U.S. Gallons, the standard whisky barrel is 40 U.S. gallons, and the standard wine barrel is 31.5 U.S. Gallons. We rounded up the wine barrel to 32 gallons, and called that our "medium barrel". Then we added and subtracted 50% for the large and small barrels, respectively.

Moving on to crates, we determined them be slightly smaller than barrels and selected a 3-foot square (27 cubic feet) crate as our medium size. We then followed with 2-foot and 4-foot as our small and large crates.

Sacks were interesting, in that we simply chose some sack sizes that we felt best represented a good variation in size, between a small sack of 20 pounds and a large sack of 100 pounds.

Volume: The next thing we needed to determine was whether or not we were going to differentiate between liquid and solid contents. It was determined that we would treat everything as a liquid; therefore, a barrel of tennis balls would weigh the same as a barrel of water... which would only be accurate if you melted down the tennis balls into a barrel of liquefied rubber. So there may be a few instances where you may need to apply common sense to the results.

Weight: The basic weight of a container follows the assumption that the container is 100% full. You should, however, be able to determine what a half-full container would be valued at or would weigh, based on the numbers given for a full container. We used the standard weight of 0.0625 pounds per ounce, and have converted every container to ounces to facilitate this calculation.

Units: To determine how many of a given item fits into a room when using the "Room Area" button, we needed to determine how much relative space a given container takes. We came up with a basic unit per cubic foot of 1.496, and assigned each container a unit amount. A standard 5x5 room stacked 5ft high holds 187 of our generic units. We then evenly spread the units of a room across the selected container types, and generate contents for those containers. Viola.

Barrels gal oz pt lb units
SM 16 2084 128 128 26
MED 32 4168 256 256 51
LG 48 8336 384 384 77

Crates cu.ft. oz pt lb units
SM 8 960 60 60 12
MED 27 3232 202 202 40
LG 64 7680 480 480 96

Sacks oz pt lb units
SM 320 20 20 4
MED 800 50 50 10
LG 1600 100 100 20

The Odds

The generator was created to focus on "General Goods" as presented in the Arms & Equipment Guide; however, there are several additional categories of items that can be found on the "Options" tab--this means that the generator is skewed in favor of general goods. The following chart shows the approximate percentage chance to get a result from one of the categories. These numbers vary based on container type and size, as well as what categories you have selected on the "Options" tab. Some categories, such as Misc, have a list of items that the generator chooses from; for instance, there are currently 65 items on that list that might appear in a barrel, giving each entry a 1 in 65 (1.54%) chance to appear.

General Goods 57.99%
Commodities 15.55%
Goods 4.20%
Misc 4.20%
Weapons 4.20%
Armor 4.20%
Precious Metals 3.36%
Gems 2.10%
Art Objects 2.10%
Magic Items 2.10%


If you have any feedback on this generator or have a great idea for a generator you would like to see or if you would just like to say hello, please feel free to email us at dndfeedback@wizards.com.

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