08 December, 2014

Worldbuilding 101 - Part 25: Randomness

Now that we’ve got a variety of monsters, plenty of people to interact with and fairly detailed geography for our setting, we can start looking at other ways to integrate different story types into the setting.

That means it’s time for random encounter tables, because some people like to go into the wilderness for their stories rather than remaining in towns and getting caught up in politics. I’ve rearranged the basic location types for the setting, and have added a few more terrain types. If I was going to get really obsessive regarding this, I’d add in variants for the different districts in El Puerto de Isabella, maybe split Traders Port into two charts, a few other terrain types…but that’s probably too much for a simple game. Remember that if you’re game is only going to last for a couple of sessions, most entries on these charts will never be encountered, thus they won’t affect the story and you probably should be spending your time on things that the characters will encounter. If your story is expecting to see weekly sessions for a year or more, then this level of detail (and perhaps even more detail) is justified.

I’m basically using the system I described a few posts ago…
The basic system I’m thinking of has the GM drawing a minimum of two cards (in safer areas  extra cards and discard the lower results), the highest card drawn determines whether an incident occurs. The next highest card determines the type of incident, and severity of the incident. Each type of location has its own chart (El Puerto de Isabella, Trader’s Port (or large town), Kāinga Kākāriki (or native town), Outpost (or small village), Ruins, Farmlands, Forest, Swampland, Beach, Underground-Mines, Underground-Caves, etc.) Exploring these tables would be a post on its own.

I’m adding to this idea a concept where you travel across the map, making random encounter draws for every region you cross. Each region would be assigned a number indicating the vague danger of the area, if your highest card is above this number an event occurs, if it is double this value then a heightened version of the event occurs, if the card is triple this value then an extreme version of the event occurs…this might link to the number of bandits that appear, the danger level of toxic plants, etc…you could create different numbers for different types of effects, but that starts getting really complicated. My aim at this stage is to just get the final bits working so the setting can see some play. Regions also have typical creatures associated with them, and often have specific factions controlling them, the regularity of encountering these should be higher than the regularity of encountering other story elements. Where there is some doubt about the type of element that may appear in play, they will be determined by the suit drawn.

Hearts – The encounter belongs to the dominant culture, signature monster type, or most common variant found in this area.
Clubs – The encounter belongs to the dominant culture, signature monster type, or most common variant found in an adjacent area to this one.
Diamonds – The encounter appears at first glance to belong to the dominant culture, signature monster type, or most common variant found in this area, but there is something odd about it.  
Spades – The encounter belongs to a type that isn’t typically found here. There’s probably a deeper story involved here if you want to investigate.

In most cases I’m filling out the encounter charts according to a simple pattern.

A (Mysterious Fragment of the Past)
2 (Notable Person/Creature from this Location)
3 (Uncommon Environmental Effect)
4 (Common Environmental Effect)
5 (Something that specifically furthers a medium term story goal)
6 (Something that specifically furthers a short term story goal)
7 (Enforcers of this Location)
8 (Something Commonly Seen)
9 (Likely NPC Encounter)
10 (Likely Signature Event)
J (Unlikely NPC Encounter)
Q (Unlikely Signature Event)
K (Highly Unlikely Signature Event)

I specifically haven’t applied game stats here because I’m trying to keep these world creation posts as system agnostic as possible.

Urban (El Puerto de Isabella)
Urban (Trader’s Port (or large town)
Urban (Kāinga Kākāriki (or native town)
Urban (Outpost (or small village)
Underground – Sewers (Only El Puerto de Isabella and Trader’s Port)
Underground – Mines
Underground – Caves/Ruins
Aquatic (Shallows)
Aquatic (Sea Surface)
Aquatic (Sea Depths)
Other Wilderness

I’ll spend the next few posts detailing these.
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