Strategic Primer: Encounter Tables: More details

A couple of weeks ago I introduced the new mechanic for exploration results I’ll be using in the current campaign of Strategic Primer starting next turn. I explained why we needed a new system, and some of the projected benefits of the new one, but gave few details as to how this will work. In this post I hope to correct that.

Each time an explorer crosses a tile (or, in the case of hunters, gatherers, and the like, waits there for a couple of hours), I’ll roll several times on the “master table” to see what sort of thing he comes across. Some of the time this will be nothing in particular (skilled workers can take the opportunity to forage), but most of the time there’ll be something. Because there are so many things, I divide them into categories: rocks, minerals, and landscape; plants, animals; people; and “special”. Each of these has its own table that I’ll then use to produce a more specific encounter.

The first category, “Geology, etc.,” includes open veins of rocks and minerals, mines, and hidden treasure, but also sandbars, open hilltops, and the like. Each area of the map has its own major and less common rocks and minerals; if an explorer happens on a place where the topsoil is stripped away, he’s likely to find the most common rock of the area, but not necessarily.

In the second category, “Botany, etc.,” the most common result is for the explorer to notice that he’s going past a lot of some particular kind of tree, if he’s in the forest, or crossing vast expanses of grass (which the player can ask that he look at in more detail if desired), but this also includes oases in the desert and meadows, berry patches, mushrooms, and orchards. There’s a general table for each tile (terrain) type, and in the next week or so I hope to finish up by creating tables for each area of the map that say specifically what varieties of plants are common where.

The third category is more typical “encounters”. Much of the time an explorer will merely happen upon tracks or other traces, and will have the chance to follow them. Again, in the next week or so I plan to create tables for each area listing what kinds of animals are where, and how common.

The fourth category includes more typical encounters, only this time with people or intelligent creatures (dragons, unicorns, etc.), but it also includes the villages that are pretty much everywhere (and that is a major change in itself; more on that later, perhaps next week) and what I’m calling “adventure hooks,” places where the player can investigate the story that I plan to weave into the game. Like most of the other categories, I still need to put together specific tables for each area, to say what (for instance) the villages look like in that area.

And the fifth category, “special,” includes ruins, ancient battlefields, the major things that I’m grandfathering in from the previous system, and some interesting things that I intend to happen only vanishingly rarely.

If you have any ideas for animals, plants, minerals, or anything else these tables ought to include—or you have anything else to say—please comment.

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