Story Icons Project. Part 1 - Starting with Chartopia

This is the first part of a series covering one of my occasional side projects.

A Small Beginning

Some side projects you work on in small bursts. Story Icons is one of those for me.  In early 2019 I was flailing around looking for ways to move forward in making a living.

One experiment was creating random tools for roleplaying games. A way of combining creativity and a hobby with coding skills. I would later settle on making Pdfs on DM's Guild.

Story Icons started as a project which others can use to inspire story or adventure ideas and for writing prompts. It takes free icons from the games icons sites and showing them off.

The Concept

Inspired by Rory's Story Cubes, I wanted a way to use something similar online. A collection of images that would help others build stories.

What I loved about them was

  • They are visual. No words mean they communicate in a different fashion. That they are language independent
  • Different feels with different images. Using the right images you can easily over different genres and utilities. You could have a space themed one, or a horror themed one or one around a particular film if you chose to do so.
  • They scratch a different itch to text-based generators. They provide a different way of thinking.

Game Icons and Chartopia

I found games icons without any trouble and looked for other implementations. There are versions that show all the icons but have no filtering by genre or icon type.

The Game Icons are plentiful, free and cover different genres. They also come in a file format that is small and easily modified

I sorted the icons into Fantasy and then I grouped the icons. I chose items, adversaries, locations, animals and a few more. Honestly I find a lot of creating random generators to be sorting lists into categories!

Then I turned to Chartopia which is a neutral site for creating random generators. I had used the site before but this was the first time using images.

I used the generator to return one five images from specific categories. They 1-3 from random categories for 6-8 in total.

That was it.


There were some who loved the icons and found them quite mesmerising. There was interest from a Russian site at one point.

I still find myself returning and clicking through the icons.

Most important, I got started with a working version others could see.

For a side project how you feel about it is also important. I found it liberating as I was using free resources of Chartopia and games icons. It's also something to play around with independent of other tools.


While others found it interesting it hasn't been as popular as other generators. Gamers haven't found it so useful but more to story folks as writing prompts.

I put it down as a project that was fun to play around with but not to make money on.

And that's a good thing. To have a side project to play around with is important to me.

Recurring Projects

For me this is a project I come back to. It scratched an itch and gave a satisfaction that is different to others ones I've had.

It was enough to test the waters and decide I would take it forward. but I could put it aside and wait until another opportunity presented itself.

What's your recurring project?

Find me on Twitter. On Ko-Fi. On Instagram.



Duncan is an aspiring creative nomad, who publishes random lists and tools for roleplaying games. Hobbies include salsa, games, books, podcasts, languages and history.
It varies. Probably in Europe