Use of random encounter tables came up in another thread discussing Adam's recent D&D AP
. I've had some half-formed thoughts on making good tables, so I thought I'd share 'em here and maybe the conversation here will gestate into a blog post.
I've got 2 random table uses that I've been enjoying lately - prep and encounter. Both inspire stuff, I think.Prep
Prep is there to help me come up with ideas quickly, definitely inspired by planarch codex
. I used this in our Marsui game to come up with delving jobs
. It led to cool stuff. I found that these are better the stranger and more weird fantasy I make the categories but not too-too weird because blending the categories together will often make them weird enough.
I got a dinosaur goddess and her well-to-do cult
and a crimelord with a magical unicorn horn
, so I think it worked out alright.
I liked using these to roll up a bunch of jobs and then finding maps online to go with the ideas.Encounter
I used this for our short-lived D&D game but also used it a bit for our lotfp game to see if they ran into any trouble on their way back from delves. As time went on and delving became more lucrative, the chances of running into rip-and-run crews who make their living stealing from adventurers when they are beat up and rich becomes more and more likely.
I made up a table for Big Shire but I'm looking at the odds on a 2d6
and making up encounter tables for our Stars Without Number game and thinking that over.
I like the idea of the encounters on a table changing as the places change - be it crossing the dragon off a table or adding more and more soldiers as an invading army begins to patrol the area more and more.
So, I've got a dangerous valley outside of town with some kind of presence that is causing wood-cutters to go missing.Forest in Trouble Random Encounter Table
2 - Wraith
3 - Gnolls (3d4)
4 - Fungal Beast
5 - Bandits (5d6)
6 - Wood-cutters (3d4)
7 - Wood-cutters (3d4)
8 - Merchant Caravan (3d6 guards)
9 - Satyr pack (2d4)
10 - Fungal Infected Fauna*
11- Young Green Dragon
12 - Strange Incursion*Forest Fauna Table
1 - Wolves
2 - Deer
3 - Hawk
4 - Raven
5 - Boar
6 - ElfStrange Incursion Table
1 - Githyanki
2 - Slaad
3 - Ethereal Strangler
4 - Elemental
5 - Githzarai
6 - Devil
Maybe if you roll doubles, you roll again and those two encounters are already embroiled in some kind of conflict.
I might make a table to see what the merchants are peddling or to see how many caravan guards they have.
The fungal infection might get worse, the bandit leader might declare themselves a legit lord, the wraith might fall under sway of a necromancer or a strange incursion might take solid root. If so, the table would change to reflect it.
My worry is that I weighed the table too hard on boring wood-cutter encounters but it becomes more interesting when as Adam does in Keep on the Borderlands, we roll every hour of in-game time to see if an encounter comes about, rather than every day or so.
I'm just thinking about making random encounter tables, think about how to use them, reflect on how you've used them in the past and when they worked and when they didn't work so well.