Wednesday 27 June 2018

Small Tables

Sometimes you need to put something together for a game tonight and none of the modules on your shelf feel like the right fit. Throwing together a Route Map is relatively fast, but you're also going to want some random tables, most obviously some Encounters.

I've gone from using d20 to d6 and everything in between. My list of needs for a random encounter table is:
  • Make an area feel alive and non-static.
  • Project the character of an area.
  • Have at least one really dangerous entry to encourage the players to keep moving. 
  • Be better than something I can just make up on the fly.
I like d20s for things like Spark Tables where you want to generate a number of unique results, but for Encounter tables I'm moving closer to the following model.

Roll d6
1-3: Common. Three variations on a single encounter either carrying out different actions or varying slightly in composition.
4-5: Uncommon. Two variations of a more unusual encounter, again varying in behaviour or composition.
6: Rare. Something weird and likely dangerous. 

Now you can really dig down into making six great entries, rather than spending your whole prep time filling up a d20 table with just-okay entries.

Let's do some examples.

The Yelling Mountain: A little piece of Hell in coldest Deep Country.

Roll d6

  1. 4 Coil Men (5hp, Electric Stave d8, long-chinned mask) parading their wealth boastfully (three multi-coloured gems worth £20 each, one smaller one worth £10). One is carrying a device wired up to the gems that can cause them to expode (d10 blast) at the push of a button. He'd rather die in the blast than let you steal his wealth. 
  2. 10 Coil Men (as above) on the trail of somebody wealthier than you, hoping to rob them.
  3. 1 Coil Man (as above, name is Julio) separated from his group and starting to doubt that a life of robbery and boasting is as rewarding as he'd hoped. 
  4. Jaw-Goat (6hp, d6 Butt, Painfully Itchy Pelt, Ice Cold Horns, both effects increase after death) gathering bones for its nest. Not so interested in your bones.
  5. 6 Young Jaw Goats (4hp, then as above) butting each other and trying to establish a social hierarchy. 
  6. Hand of the Mountain (15hp, Armour 2, d10 Smash) Here to reclaim anything mineral for the mountain. Appears out of the Earth and returns back to it if you cross water or a canyon. 


  1. Michael Fraker28 June 2018 at 02:46

    Thanks Chris, good timing for me because I'm putting the location encounter tables for my Gathox point crawl, and there is currently like 28 locations.

  2. Agreed. A table of 6 good, inspirational entries will beat out a table of d100 boring ideas every time. For a single session, 6 may be more results than will come up anyway. And another 1~6 good ideas are likely to come to you before the next session.

    Although Electric Bastionland arriving and providing d20 after d20 table may be better....