Monday 18 January 2010

Making the most of your Random Encounters

Here's the situation. Your adventurers are roaming through some rough hilly land on the way to their next shot at fame and fortune when suddenly... a random encounter!

As tempting as it is to take the result straight off the table and run through it as quickly as possible, there's no reason random encounters should be unrelated to the matters that are more at the forefront of the players' minds.

Taking some guidance from Treasure Tables the encounter can be sexed up to include a unique element and way for the game to progress if they fail. Throw in a link to an established feature of this area and suddenly your random encounter feels a lot more relevant to the game.

Using an Adventurer's Tale game I ran recently as an example, I'll hit up a random encounter generator for the aforementioned rough hills.

Three Zombie Ogres.

Link to the Game: There's no record of ogres in the area the players were in, but zombie ogres? These unfortunate creatures were servants of the local Dark Wizard, K'Thrax, who the players are very familiar with. They carry metal clubs that observant characters will recognise as being similar to those of K'Thrax's guards, but behind them they drag chains bound around their wrists and necks, in a sort of undead chain-gang. It seems even in their zombie form these ogres weren't keen on serving the Dark Wizard and made a break for it. Could this mean someone is chasing them? Is there enough intelligence left to be able to use them for good? I'd hold off on making them too aggressive and instead play them as more pitiful beasts.
Unique Element: To play up the pity angle I'd have the players encounter the Ogres trapped in a sudden dip in the rough hills, unable to climb back up the steep, jagged slopes. If the adventurers decide to fight the Ogres then play up the chain-gang aspect, perhaps having them attack in unison using their chains.
Way to Progress in case of Fail: These dim creatures will have no interest in eating the adventurers, as a normal ogre might. Instead they're more likely to beat them until they stop fighting back and continue attempting to climb the slope.

Much better.

And as a special treat...

Zombie Ogre
Body 10
Melee 5
Metal Club (Damage 4), 3d6 Treasure.
Relentless: A zombie ignores any non-critical hits that cause less than 4 Damage. Critical hits damage the Zombie as normal.
Clumsy: Opponents may add 2 to their Grace score when rolling against an Ogre.

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