Normally as a GM I avoid random encounters like the plague – I’m too much of a control freak with regard to my adventures, meaning that I’m also a veteran rail-roader (though I’m trying hard not to be). Today though I was recapping on Wiggy’s PP&SS and then came across Unofficial Game’s seed table concept. The basic premise is that for an encounter you roll d8, d6 and d4, with the dice dictating Where?, What? and Weird! respectively with special events if you roll any double or triple numbers.
What I really like about it is the way that it adds character to the encounters; it’s not just a bunch of random orcs (though I’m proud to say that as a GM I haven’t used orcs since I was a teenager), but there’s terrain in there too and a random element.
I think I want to add more What, have less Where and include a greater variety of Weird, so I’m going with d10/d8/d6 respectively. One thing I do note is that Unofficial Game’s Weird is a lot stronger than mine. Need to work on that a bit.
Borrowing from 50 Fathoms, encounters occur on days on which a face card is drawn.
Looking then at encounters in Legend’s Pagan Mountains then (with apologies to Unofficial for occasional plagiarism):
What? Roll d10
- 1d2 Giants
- 1d6 Dwarves
- 2d4 Bandits
- 1d3 Ogres
- 1d6 Wolves
Where? Roll d8
- On a regular path
- In a boulder field
- On a mountaintop
- At a pass
- In a forest
- Cliff face: 20+total feet in height. PC’s at base on odd and top on even.
- At a waterfall
- Across a mountain tarn
Weird! Roll d6
- In a storm (total even – electrical, total odd – blizzard)
- d4 = (1: Path Found! add one Success to total* , 2: impassable drop/chasm, backtrack required (remove one Success from total*). 3: cliff face as (Where?:6): pine forest and overgrown town)
- Runic stone
- Fog (visibility down to Large Burst Template)
If you throw a triple…
- A herd of mountain goats trample you in the storm
- The giants are throwing rocks at each other
- The dwarves are performing a secret ritual
- The bandits set off the rockfall
- The ogres are drunk, giving them a -2 penalty to all Skill rolls but also giving them the Harder to Kill and Improved Nerves of Steel Edges
- You can hear the howling, but can’t place it, even though it’s nearby. The wolves attack in waves rather than just standing still.
If any of the dice come up double…
- The game seeks refuge in a cave behind the waterfall
- The gargoyles have treasure sunk in the tarn
The party has spotted a clear path to the place they’re trying to get to. Add 2d4 Successes to their total*.
*The particular adventure I have in mind for this involves the party using their Survival skill to identify a feature of the mountains indicating the existence of an abandoned mine. Each ‘Success’ brings them half a day closer to the mine.
P.S. make sure to follow the link to Unofficial Game’s blog – his version is much better than mine (and the original).
I really like method used for the seed, and have said as much on his page, but it’s really nice to see it getting spread about a bit.
I avoid random encounters like the plague too, I plan them all carefully in my adventures. They may seem random to the players in a way but they are not. In my modules of course I supply random encounters as starting points for ideas on what is possible. Da iawn!