Monday, April 23, 2012

Wilderness Encounters

I've had an idea. It's actually an amalgam of several ideas, plus a dash of my own, and given a good stir.

I've been giving Judge's Guild Wilderlands of High Fantasy a good look. I've broken Map One up into four pieces and zoomed each one up to a full page. That give me a map of close to 15" x 20". I also have one that is about 10" x 16". The larger one I am coloring with pencils (I'll scan and post when I finish it, should be the next couple of days). The 10" x 16" I plan to use for wandering encounters.

I'm going to color-code it to encounter tables. Encounter tables unique to specific regions are nothing new. I'm just going to color-code them with a map, for easier reference. It doesn't stop there, though. This is a fairly ambitious idea.

My criteria for a Wilderness Encounter System are:

  • Check if an encounter occurs and the basics of it with a single roll
  • It needs to be very flexible with handling modifiers, not just simple +/-
  • It needs to support more than simple creature encounters, it should incorporate random events, odd discoveries, and other interesting outcomes.
So, here's the raw idea: Use a different die-type for each aspect of the encounter roll and throw them all at once. BOOM. Here's my first breakdown, subject to change:

Occurrence 2d6
This roll will determine if an encounter occurs and the type (Boon, Creature, Obstacle/Event, Signs/Portents, Special)

Boon 2d4
A beneficial occurrence

Could be animals, patrols, man-type (bandits, etc) or actual monsters

Obstacle/Event 2d12
Anything non-creature related that hinders or impedes characters; weather, getting lost, impassable terrain features, snares/traps, etc

Signs/Portents 2d8
Omens, shrines, totems, and the like. More flavor than anything else, to re-enforce the character of a particular region, but these results may have in-game effects

Special 2d10
Something odd, unusual, and/or unexpected. Typically some sort of abandoned/forgotten structure, some of which may be suitable for exploration

Now, I realize that's a fistful of dice to be throwing down at once. Think about this, though: Do it behind a referee screen and your players will never know what the hell is going on. They will be completely clueless, and therefore paranoid, about the occurrence of an encounter, or the nature of any encounter. All they'll know is the thunder of 12 dice hitting the table at once, and the completely helpless feeling as they have no idea which, if any, of the rolls has the potential to ruin their day . . .

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