Monday, March 21, 2016

Random Encounter Tables: Templated, and Applied

You see, the joke is that
sometimes random encounters
don't make sense in a certain
environment. Do you get the
joke? If you don't, you can read
the caption on the picture,
or you can read the caption I
added to the captioned image.
Random encounter tables are kind of a weird paradox. They seem like a good way to wing things when you are hard up for an immediate idea to spice up the action, on the other hand, they feel kinda hard to make. You fret, "Man, is this too hard? Is this too easy? Am I just butchering my players? Am I just throwing treasure at them?" Well, fear not, in a case study in the blind leading the blind, I will attempt to dissect some random encounter tables for GURPS and see what we can learn from it.

Two Generified Random Encounter Lists

This guy has the ur-table
from which I attempt to derive
a repeatable framework for a
"decent" random encounter
I am using the chart from Mirror of the Fire Demon to build this template. Now, I'm going to extrapolate the feeling out of them, rather than paste the data verbatim. I'm trying to teach myself how to fish, rather than just give away someone else's fish, you see.

Following the format of the original encounter table we have (With odds rounded generously):

Mundane common monsters, Somewhat Weak 18%
Mundane common monsters, somewhat strong6%
Big Horde, Weakish18%
Big Horde, Strongish12%
Mundane, Special30%
Strong Group 12%
If we want to convert this to a 3d6 range, we should put the biggest ranges in the middle, and the smallest at the fringes

Interesting Filler to make it add up to 100%4%
Big Horde, Strongish12%
Big Horde, Weakish18%
Mundane, Special30%
Mundane common monsters, Somewhat Weak18%
Strong Group12%
Mundane common monsters, somewhat strong6%
So we have a chart with the poll in the middle and it is very roughly even. Converting these to 3d6 dice rolls, we might get a template that looks like this:
3-5Something Nice-ish
6-7Large group, strong
8-9Larger group, weak
10-11Special Enemies that exemplify the theme.
12-13Weak "Boring" monsters
14-15Small group of very strong monsters
16-18Strong "Boring" monsters
This gives you a pretty simple template to work with, if you want to extrapolate the bands even further, you could make these seven broad boxes into a full 16 like so.

3Treasure basically begging to be taken.
4An obvious treasure but it requires unusual skills; maybe hobby skills, unusual trap skills, or knowledge skills.
5A big scary guy is crowing about his amazing treasure.
6Large group, strongest
7Large group, strong
8Larger group, Moderate
9Larger group, weak
10Special Enemies that exemplify the surface level theme.
11Special Enemies that foreshadow the hidden theme or plot twist.
12Rank and file mundane guys
13Rank and file mundane guys, with a few leader class guys
14Small group of strong monsters
15Very small group of terrifyingly strong monsters
16More Leaders than rank and file
17Leaders with some Elites or special guys
18A squad of elites
Now that we have these broad strokes painted, let's try seeing if we can come up with an interesting application.

Application: My Last Five Room Dungeon

Let's try to apply this to the five room dungeon article I did recently for purifying a shrine. Assuming a 4 member party with a CER of 160, and the theme being mostly demonic enemies, let's try to come up with some guestimates on appropriate encounters for the abbreviated table.
0,0,2,1,-1 = 2
RollResultsCERParty CER to Monster CER
3-54 Petty Demons(Dungeon Fantasy 9, p.31)* guard a treasure, choose something from 40 artifacts or the treasure tables.484:1
6-76 Doom Children (Dungeon Fantasy 2)3001:2
8-95 Giant Rats (use swarm rules if desired)902:1
10-112 as-Sharak, Akaska, (Dungeon Fantasy 2)1761:1
12-134 Horde Zombies (Dungeon Fantasy 2)922:1
14-153 Demons of Old (Dungeon Fantasy Monsters 1)2582:3
16-182 Flame Servant Demons (Mirror of the Fire Demon)
*Petty Demons have an OR of 2, PR of 12, and CER of 14

I included the approximate ratio of party CER to Monster CER for my own edification. There is a nice mix of weak encounters and strong encounters. For my first try, I like it, but the groups are a bit homogeneous; I need to try being a bit more creative in mixing groups so that certain force multipliers come into play.

Other Thoughts and Closing

I think this can bear some further refinement, of course it can! but I feel pretty good about it so far. I'd kinda like some more objective numbers, but this is kind of more of an art than a manufactured thing that probably requires play testing to iron out some kinks, but having some kind of framework and some kinda reasonable guidelines might be helpful I think. Take it or leave it, of course, and even when using random encounter tables, if you roll a dopey result you don't like, that means you have an idea in your head for what is really appropriate. Do whatever is right. The GM police can't arrest you if you decide you want to make a certain fight easier or harder because it matches the flow you are aiming for.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...