15 December, 2014

Worldbuilding 101 - Filling in Some Gaps Part 2

While I'm finishing them off, here's two more of those random encounter tables...

A – Sacred Totem Stone (Mysterious Fragment of the Past)
  Basic: You see a standing stone from the ancient past, covered in vines. It obviously hasn’t seen much worship or attention of any kind for a long time.
  Heightened: A well-tended standing stone sits in a small clearing ahead of you. As you approach, you feel a tingling sensation and your hairs stand on end, it feels just like the calm immediately before a thunderstorm.
  Extreme: You don’t even have time to realise what is heading your way, a bolt of lightning shoots through the undergrowth (striking the character with the most metal armour, or the character possessing the highest weight in metal items). The struck character is knocked to the ground unconscious.
2 – Native (Notable Person/Creature from this Location)
  Basic: A Native is nearby gathering some herbs and roots.
  Heightened: A Native is looking for something in particular and asks you if you know where it is.
  Extreme: A group of Natives (roughly equal to half the number of players) has captured something big, and it’s about to break free from their trap. 
3 – Entangling Vines (Uncommon Environmental Effect)
  Basic: You need to be careful of trip hazards in this part of the jungle.  
  Heightened: The undergrowth seems to be alive, it constantly grabs at your legs and any protruding bits of equipment. Unless you take your time, you’re bound to injure yourself or lose something important.
  Extreme: You can literally see the vines writhing like tentacles as they reach out to grab you (wood elemental).
4 – Fungal Jungle Fever
  Basic: You start to feel sweaty and feverish. It shouldn’t be too much of an issue, but your joints are starting to feel stiff and you are getting a bit fatigued.
  Heightened: You are sweating profusely and your bones ache. Any items you carry with moving arts are starting to get stiff and will need to be thoroughly cleaned before they may be used in the regular way.  
  Extreme: Your skin is dripping in sweat, patches of your skin are taking on a faint yellowish hue, and your joints are incredibly sore. By the time you notice this, any metal items you carry are starting to look rusty (if you spend a few minutes polishing them they’ll be fine, but if you leave them they corrode away to uselessness.) Any items with moving parts are locked into position with a yellow fungal sludge (they’ll each need to be completely disassembled and polished before they may be used again).
5 - Campsite
  Basic: Ahead in a small clearing is a ring of stones around the charred branches of a regularly used campfire. Patches of compressed ground indicate tents have been used here recently, but for the moment there is no-one here.
  Heightened: Gentle tendrils of smoke drift up from a recently used campfire ahead. Although you can’t hear anyone near, the presence of packs and sacks strewn around the campfire suggest someone is still nearby. Or have been forced to leave in a hurry.
  Extreme: A campfire up ahead still burns, tents are set up around it in a clearing. You can hear the sounds of clanging metal. There’s a rumble in the jungle, and it’s getting closer.
6 – Map fragment
  Basic: On the edge of a rough clearing ahead, you see something pale against the relentless greens of the undergrowth. Closer inspection reveals a torn piece of parchment covered in marks. Some of the shapes vaguely look like trees you’ve seen in the last few minutes. It’s a shame that the parchment seems to be torn from a larger sheet, and this piece doesn’t have an “X” on it. 
  Heightened: Hanging from a tree, long ago caught in a snare, a desiccated body still clutches a rolled up scroll. You’re not sure how long the body has been here, or how useful the scroll’s contents still are, but it’s got to be worth a look…right? 
  Extreme: Pinned to the side of a tree with a steel dagger is a map fragment, it appears to have been done very recently. Something feels very wrong about this.
7 - Natives
  Basic: A spear in the nearby undergrowth indicates the presence of native hunters very recently.
  Heightened: A spear whizzes past your head, plunging into a nearby tree with a dull “thunk”. You know the general direction it came from, but can see nothing in that direction.
  Extreme: At first, you thought it might have been an animal in the underbrush. By the time you see the first native, you realise that sets of eyes have been watching you for a while. You are caught in the middle of a hunting party (roughly three times as many native hunters as there are players).
8 – Wild Animals (Something Commonly Seen)
  Basic: You see a break in the undergrowth, a twisting, but generally straight line indicating the recent passage of animals through this part of the jungle.
  Heightened: A few native animals are startled as you walk past them.
  Extreme: You startle a predator tracking its prey, it decides that you might make a better meal.
9 – Jungle Explorers
  Basic: A team of explorers is scavenging the jungle, trying to find something according to a map they possess. At this stage they’re not sure that the map is authentic.
  Heightened: An organised troupe of imperial and church explorers are looking for something particular in the jungle (the number of them is roughly half the number of players). They’ve been at this for a while, and their guards are getting restless (the number of guards is roughly twice the number of players)
  Extreme: A group of imperial and church explorers, and their guards (as above), have found something that should not have been uncovered. They are running for their lives through the jungle, right towards you.  
10 – Dire Animals (Likely Signature Event)
  Basic: A lone predatory beast stalks this part of the jungle, it is much larger than you would normally expect for this type of creature (a dire animal). It generally keeps its distance unless threatened.
  Heightened: A pack of enraged Dire Beasts hunts you (with a number roughly equal to the number of players). It uses the typical tactics of its animal type but with far more intelligence, and a higher degree of lethality.
  Extreme: A solitary Werejaguar or Wereserpent hunts in this part of the jungle, it hunts with a pack of highly disciplined Dire Beasts (with a number roughly equal to the number of players). Few live to talk of this type of encounter.
J – Woodland Elves
  Basic: You come across evidence of a recent encampment, no-one is here now but the camp hasn’t been abandoned for long.
  Heightened: A lone Elf patrols this part of the jungle, just because they are alone it doesn’t mean they are helpless.
  Extreme: An Elf emerges from the undergrowth, unhappy with your presence in this part of the jungle, his shambling companion of earthy fungal form doesn’t look happy either (a Fungus Elemental).
Q – The Birds and their Keepers
  Basic: A flock of birds sits on the branches of nearby trees surrounding you. They seem to stare right through you, weighing the measure of your soul.
  Heightened: An assorted flock of birds that don’t normally belong together are making their various bird calls. In the midde of them all is a creature that looks like a beautifully sculpted wooden maiden (a dryad), echoing each of their calls in kind.
  Extreme: At first a few birds come sweeping through the canopy, then comes a rush through the undergrowth. A figure looking like a beautifully carved wooden maiden runs through the forest carrying a spear, with her (and making most of the noise) is a shambling mass of roots, bark, leaves and vines (a wood elemental). They are hunting something, and you’re right in their way.
K – Jungle Strangeness
  Basic: The branches of this tree are drifting and swaying despite their being no breeze in this part of the jungle (it is an awakened tree). It’s almost as though the tree is dancing to music you can’t hear.
  Heightened: You see a tree pull up roots and start walking through the undergrowth (an awakened tree). Surrounding it, bark, roots and leaves seem to weave themselves into vague humanoid shapes and follow (a number of Wood Golems roughly equal to half the number of players). You’re not sure what prompted them to move, but have an uneasy feeling about the whole situation.

  Extreme: The first thing you notice is the smell of rotten meat and faeces. Within seconds it is overwhelming, clutching at your gag reflex; moments later you see the amorphous mound of flesh which looks both fungal and animal, a horrific wave of molten protoplasm somewhere between life and death, fertility and blasphemy. Run.

Underground – Caves/Ruins
A – Shattered Relic
  Basic: Here, the walls do not look eroded by water or natural processes, instead they appear to have been melted or fused by some kind of incredible heat. The cavern also appears to be vaguely spherical. Lying in the middle of the floor round, are fragments of metal and crystal of unknown origin.
  Heightened: A dull hum comes from the cavern ahead. Those who choose to venture in that direction find the hairs on the backs of their necks standing on end. (Those who get closer find any metallic equipment/armour pulled toward the humming cavern. Those who actually reach the cavern find a floating ball of metallic debris and equipment that has been pulled in from other wandering explorers, pulling metal objects from the ball might be dangerous).
  Extreme: At the centre of this cavern is a giant metallic egg, cracked along one side and oozing a mucous-like fluid across the floor. There is an echoing rattle in the nearby caves that sends shivers to your bones.
2 – Bats
  Basic: You startle a colony of sleeping bats.
  Heightened: As you pick your way through this part of the caves, you have the feeling that the bats hanging from the roof are watching you (there are a number of bats equal to roughly ten times the number of players). Your suspicions are confirmed when one of the bats asks “What brings you down here?”
  Extreme: From a colony of bats up ahead, a flittering set of shadows descends, like congealing liquid they form a vaguely humanoid form that grows more coherent as it approaches. A cloaked and heavily armed Werebat slowly approaches (surrounded by a number of awakened bats roughly equal to the number of players).
3 – Unstable Ground
  Basic: The floor of the caves in this part of the complex is unstable and requires careful progress to avoid injury.
  Heightened: Crumbling rocks and slippery cave walls make progress of any type treacherous in this part of the caves.
  Extreme: A slide of rocks as caused a cascade behind you. The caves behind have collapsed and are now impassable (without a lot of digging).
4 – Toxic Fumes
  Basic: The air is foul and smoky, with hints of something rotten in it. Nothing too much to worry about, but the stink lingers on your clothes until they are thoroughly washed (or incinerated).
  Heightened: Thick and oily, the air causes you to gag. If you stay too long you risk passing out.
  Extreme: The smoke is almost alive, it seeps into your clothes, hair, nostrils. It may be lethal if you linger.
5 – Carvings
  Basic: It seems strange that there would be wall paintings so far from the surface, but there are cryptic wall paintings scattered across the walls. Perhaps they’re symbolic of something or remnants of long forgotten rituals.  
  Heightened: Carved into the wall in an ancient script are hundreds of lines of text. These carved words are in no language currently known, but some of the illustrations and symbols scattered across the walls are reminiscent of crude versions of the symbolism found in the cathedrals of the Imperial Church.
  Extreme:  Elaborately carved into the walls are a delicate range of bas reliefs depicting animal headed humanoids, strange beings in ancient clothes performing unknown tasks, and inhumanoid creatures that look more comfortable in a fever dream or nightmare. Looking at them for too long, the carvings seem to move subtly, it could just be flickering shadows, but something doesn’t feel right.
6 – Mushrooms
  Basic: A cavern opening ahead has slightly fresher air drifting through it. Approaching it you see mushrooms as large as a person growing from the walls, they smell of truffles. (These mushrooms are edible)
  Heightened: Sweet smelling mushrooms grow along the walls in this part of the caves, they are covered in large ants (each 2-3cm long). You’re sure that you’ve seen mushrooms like this in marketplaces. (These mushrooms are mildly hallucinogenic in small doses, and toxic in large amounts)
  Extreme: The walls of the cave seem covered in a single living fungal entity. Protruding from the walls like delicate tentacles, or leafless vines, headed with dandelion-like spores. You’d have to be very careful to avoid touching these heads, or avoid releasing the spores. (These are Metaphysical Spores, possibly lethal, or mystically enlightening. Highly sought by mystics but highly volatile)
7 – Dwarves
  Basic: A lone Faeblood miner chips away at the cave walls here with a pick. They seem to have collected quite a range of gems and semi-precious stones.
  Heightened: Although it seems to be sculpted from the very earth itself, a short stone figure moves slowly through the cave (a Dwarf). The figure is performing some kind of inscrutable ritual, and appreciates neither being watched nor interrupted.
  Extreme: The earth shakes as though it’s about to collapse. Rocks tumble through passages toward you, but as they come into your light they appear in human forms (a number of Stone Golems roughly equal to the number of players). At the centre of them all is an angry looking creature of stone, its eyes glowing like magma (an angry Dwarf).
8 – Underground pool
  Basic: A natural depression in the cavern complex has gathered a pool of still water.
  Heightened: Seeping through the walls and dripping down into a pool, you see drops of pale tinted water. There are obviously some type of minerals dissolved in the water, and the moss and lichen on the edges of the pool would suggest it isn’t toxic, but you are unsure if it would be completely safe to drink.
  Extreme: A large cavern opens up ahead of you. To one side of the cavern is a large underground lake, on the other side is an open space where someone has built a stone hut. You can hear noises from inside the hut.
9 – Cave Explorers
  Basic: Up ahead, you see a small group of cave explorers who have become lost in the underground labyrinth (roughly half as many as there are players).
  Heightened: There are sounds of a group up ahead, approaching them you see that they are well equipped cave looters, with mining gear, lanterns, and weaponry (roughly twice as many as there are players). They don’t look impressed that someone is approaching their claim.
  Extreme: You don’t notice them until it’s too late, first they block the passageway ahead, then they appear from behind…slowly closing the gap around you. They might once have been civilised people from the surface, but have long since degraded into bloodthirsty mockeries of their former selves. (There are a number of mutated cave looters roughly equal to the number of players)
10 – Subterranean Glow
  Basic: The cave network through this part of the complex is riddled with glowing mushrooms. This seems to have lured a few more bugs and other wildlife to the area.
  Heightened: Embedded in the rock are veins of a faintly glowing ore. This ore faintly illuminates the cave passages, and looks vaguely like veins through the wall.
  Extreme: Ahead, the air itself seems to be alive with a pulsing light. It might be a swarm of fireflies, or a glowing toxic gas. If you want to keep heading forward and take the risk of passing through it, that’s up to you.
J – Cave Hermit (Unlikely NPC Encounter)
  Basic: You almost pass him by the time you realise he is there, a simple hermit sitting in meditation in an alcove on the side of the passageway. He remains silent with his headed pointed downward.
  Heightened: You almost pass him by the time you realise he is there, a simple hermit sitting in meditation in an alcove on the side of the passageway. While he still seems to be gently breathing, he has obviously been here for a long time, lichen and moss grows across his shoulders and knees. (This is one of the legendary immortal hermits)
  Extreme: A side alcove of this passage has been furnished with cushions, low tables and antiques. Reclined on the cushions you see a comfortable figure who enthusiastically invites you in, it’s obvious that they don’t get many visitors down here. (This is one of the mythical banished Immortals, a godlike being stripped of power and forced to spend an eternity in this underground cell, until someone might release them).
Q – Mind of the Earth (Unlikely Signature Event)
  Basic: Out through the soft rock of the wall, the head of a worm emerges. It looks confused.
  Heightened: Glistening in the distant light, you see a pool of writhing liquid. As you approach, you see that it is filled with dozens of worms each a metre or more in length. You can almost feel them probing your mind as you get near the pool.
  Extreme: The walls of the passageway collapse around you and you are covered in writhing worms that bite at any exposed flesh and wriggle into any exposed holes in armour or clothes. Your mind fills with static and chaos as they writhe around you, the oblivion of the worms is seductive, every second you are in their presence it gets harder to resist them.
K – Cave of Wonders (Highly Unlikely Signature Event)
  Basic: This part of the cave network was obviously used as a treasure stash at one point, but any crates remaining have been long ago looted, and anything of value that might have been here is now long gone.
  Heightened: Someone has used this part of the caves as a stash point. There are a few small crates and barrels here, but it would have been hard to get anything larger into this part of the underground labyrinth. (This is a trapped stash of treasure)
  Extreme: The close passageways open out into a vast cavern filled with gems, precious metals, pile of ancient antiques and treasures. At the centre of it all sits a pedestal, and sitting atop that pedestal is an elaborately sculpted glass bottle that seems to radiate a palpable darkness. (This is a legendary Djinn, if this result is ever obtained again, reselect the random encounter)

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