Thursday, August 18, 2016

God's Workbench Part 4. Designing a New Encounter System (2 of 2).

In part 3,  we talked some theory and settled on movement rates for the Troupe. Time to unveil the remainder of the encounter subsystem. Oh joy!

I have a thing for dodecahedrons, so this new system would be built around them. (d12’s are used profusely in Crypts and Creepies, so it seemed natural). I wanted the players to be able to make some choices about how they would move overland. It boiled down to speed and visibility:

Thus, TSV = Troupe Speed & Visibility. TSV is made of two combined factors. When its time for an encounter check, roll a d12.  If the result is equal to or less than the TSV an encounter occurs.  At the moment I use “common sense” to assign the values to the adventure troupe, so a typical group is normal/normal, or 2 + 2 = TSV/4. If they are all ninjas and moving slowly, they are a TSV/2. If it’s a whole clan of Ruprecht wannabes running around yelling “Oklahoma, Oklahoma, Oklahoma”, then they are an TSV/8.    

How often do you check?  This way:

Land is the most common form of movement in the game.  I wanted encounters to seem random, so no bell curve, just a 1-20.  This way the numbers will be all over the place.  Remember, it’s a check to see if there is an encounter, not a bonafide encounter. On average, you will make a check every 10.5 miles traveled. A troupe with a TSV/4 will have 3 - 4 encounters every 100 miles traveled.  Ninjas (TSV/2) will have a 1 or 2, and the Ruprechts (TSV/8) about 8. For Air and Sea the checks are more infrequent. The logic is you are moving faster and there is just less to encounter. Resting or sleeping outside, basically warrants a check.

The object of the system is to be simple and make sense, so you can remember how to use it. I’ve used it a couple of times, it seems to work just fine.

Whooo. Encounter tables next up:

Early on in this series I talked about how I like to make forms. They are cheats really, just to get things going. They also help when you get stuck. They are not gospel. Here is my encounter worksheet. Since I made these for myself, not everything is explained, so here goes.  Top box is what/where it is. In this case, the land of Pewlon. When an encounter is indicated, a d12 is rolled to determine if the encounter is common, uncommon or special (the three blocks on the left). There are two ovals (x - x) on top for the for the range (remember, your rolling a d12). In this case I decided 1 - 9 is common, 10 - 11 is uncommon and 12 is special. Another d12 roll in that box pulls out the specific encounter. (Biodiversity, is really for city encounters).  To the right is a list of typical motives (some are weighted or more unique to certain areas) and are nudges to setting up encounters.  The bottom has a shorthand version of the encounter system. My system is set up with empty slots to slot in creepazoids as they are created.

This is a crib sheet of the details of encounter. The 8 ovals (on the far left of each encounter listing) are spots for the consecutive d20 rolls (movement on land).  For each I make a d12 check vs the troupe’s TSV. If a d12 result is equal to or less than the troupes TSV an encounter occurs and I circle that number and note the encounter particulars to the right. These crib sheets are great for sand boxes. I roll up a swath beforehand. It allows me to do more role playing when the crunchy bits are worked out beforehand.

Lastly there is this thing:

This stages the encounter based on the troupes TSV.  If you take the ninjas (TSV/2), you will be using the green 1 - 3 column. Because the ninja troupe will be moving stealthily and slowly,  a roll of 1 - 8 (out of 12) means they will be more in control of the encounter situation. This means spotting them first, picking the terrain for the encounter and so on. There is still a chance they can roll that 12 and basically "blunder" into the encounter just like the Ruprechts of the world. This really makes encounters much more dynamic.

For some encounters I need more details worked out, for these I have this baby:

(Its really just a piece of graph paper?) You will notice this one is set up like a miniatures game.  In this example the troupe was leaving Pewlon, but Iphy (Her Most Lofty Preponderant Zwink) had learned that the troupe had the phial of Tubor extract (one of the 3 ingredients for the poison antidote she so desperately needs). Her plan is first to ask “nicely” and if that fails bring out the velvet hammer. Because Pewlonians have a way of dealing with this, I gave it some thought and set things up. It doesn’t take much to lay it out. I learned the hard way that I am terrible of doing this kind of stuff on the fly.

This is my encounter toolbox. It’s still a little rough, but so far has worked very well.  Next time, designing countries.

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