Saturday, April 18, 2020

Mesomergos Random Encounter Table

For my one-on-one hexcrawl game, I have been developing a thematic encounter table for the region of Mesomergos, inspired by german and chinese folklore as well as many disparate influences. The encounter roll is simple. For every day of travel, I roll a d20. On a 1-10, one of the encounters below occurs. Each number is a theme, allowing me to pick or alter one of its sub-entries to the conditions of the area.

Some Big Ideas of this table:

  • A random encounter should have the potential to dramatically shift the game (beyond just threatening to kill you.) A curse, a sudden boon or follower, a call to adventure.
  • A random encounter should reinforce the themes and elements of what this particular game is about. That's why so many encounters on this table deal with riddles or the dread of violating Rules.
  • A random encounter table will not be level-appropriate. There should be different ways to approach an encounter based on whether you have the power to do so. Getting coerced into a fey-king's game is fun, and so is risking your life fighting through his court.
  • The thematic structure makes it easier (and essential) to restock, because after a couple of encounters of the same type, you will have a prompt for what to add.
  • On average, an encounter every other day feels about right. You can also overload additional entries. For instance, if bounty hunters are chasing the party, you can just add that on an encounter roll of 11, they catch up with them.

Ten Types of Encounters in the Wilderness of Mesomergos
  1. A champion demands a duel to cross the byway.
    • A “Samurit”-- level 1 warrior in OP armor and arms.
    • An old man with a long staff and the jukes to keep you at bay.
    • Bandits have barricaded the road. You may pay their extortions or else fight their leader, who has terrific leaping ability.
    • A pack of wanted thieves. They don't allow anyone their face and live, so you must fight them or join their merry gang.
    • Three murderous brothers wish to travel with you before betraying you. One only says “we three,” one only says “for gold,” one only says “That is right.” (They made a deal with a demon.)
    • Reticent Sworn and their family have taken an oath to prevent people from crossing.
    • Joined on the road by a group of men. After sharing wine, they reveal that they are some odious group: murderers, rebels, demon worshipers, or the like. Attacking them after sharing wine would make you Unclean...
  2. Rumors of a terrifying beast. 1d4 days later, a beast!
    • A wurm that breathes poison.
    • A giant fox monster in the form of a human. Eats livers.
    • A large black creature that eats corpses. Actually a penitent priest-thief.
    • Jiangshi, a vampire official that cannot bend its limbs.
    • A pale woman who kills with a glance.
    • A monstrous ogre that revives if struck after falling. Will beg to receive another blow.
    • A qilin that will gore any man it sees with its antlers. Its skin is bejeweled (as medium armor,) its voice is like chimes and it is bearded and scaled.
  3. A foe that requires cunning or a riddle’s answer to defeat easily
    • A demon that says it will crush you unless you blaspheme a certain god.
    • A rubbery warrior offers a wager: he will let you hit him once with his club, and he will return an identical blow. Being rubbery, he is immune to bludgeoning damage.
    • Felnogonisten, a giant that requires a riddle.
    • A pack of Granous, who require the answer to twenty riddles in twenty seconds each. For each wrong answer, they eat one of your fingers or toes.
    • Bronze birds that launch their feathers like knives
    • A lion, Bhagmela, asks: “What are the best and worst stones?” Possible answers: Best: altar, whetstone, millstone; worst: hailstone, stone in the eye, gallstone. Failure to answer provokes it to attack.
    • A fey offers you riches if you pull a white stone out of a bag and treachery if you pull a black stone out. They cheat, putting two black stones in. The very terrain becomes hostile if you try to kill them.
  4. Someone offers hospitality, with a lovely offspring and an odd request.
    • The local chieftain loves adventurer’s stories, and will do you a good turn if you catch That Damn Horse which can outrun anything.
    • A nearby Sworn is happy to host you as long as you leave his harem alone. Also, he will share whatever he catches when he goes out hunting as long as you share whatever you catch in his palace. 😉 Also, his harem won’t leave you alone.
    • The stonemason will give you whatever you want if you can get someone to cross his bridge. The first person to cross it owes their soul to the devil.
    • The cave hermit will show you the way through the underground lair, but only if you can retrieve the golden collar off a wandering bear without killing it. Also, pay no attention to his handsome acolyte; the poor boy has leprosy.
    • A chieftain has commended his wife to the devil, only to find that his wife’s chastity is defended by a demon. He wants to manipulate someone into trying to seduce her so that they might destroy the demon along the way.
    • A chieftain has promised refuge to someone they later learned is villainous. Won’t you please convince the villain to leave the area of their protection?
    • A fey offers provender as long as you promise not to harm them or touch their spouse. Later, you learn the spouse is kidnapped. If you break the promise, you are cursed with pyrohemia. (All wounds catch fire.)
  5. An oracle or a creature beloved by a god.
    • Blind wanderer, gives odd warning
    • Cassandra-type seer. Their prophecy is only out-of-character.
    • You, now old, sent back to avoid your fate. Disappears after changing anything too significant.
    • A lion of Rektrine. Killing it curses you to be pursued by lions.
    • A homunculus of Noryawes. Brings vengeance for someone a PC has wronged. 
    • A Dwarf of Mithras. Offers historical wisdom to those who are virtuous.
    • A wolf of Gnon. Its coat resists the chemic and the divine.
    • A cock of Sedyf. Intelligent and literate. If you are not a follower of Sedyf and do not give it a gift it will wake you each midnight until you do. Otherwise, it will give you a pearl.
    • A fox of Fisochol. Can smell crimes. Killing it makes you Unclean.
    • A dryad of Vfoso. Tells you of potential future suitors, if you are polite.
  6. A trader with an odd item. (either one of the encounters below or something based on this blog post.)
    • Two yellow, gnobbly forgetters. Will trade treasure or magic fruit for your name.
    • A demon willing to grant a wish, for an appropriate price.
    • An old former thief bears one of the Dolorous regalia. The heat is on him, and while he will bargain fiercely he’ll trade it for your cloak.
    • A tinker willing to sell you a house that unfolds from a piece of wood.
    • An ancient locust bears a relic from Selmat.
    • An old woman with three potions: a green one that creates a forest, a red one that creates a fire, and a blue one that creates a lake.
  7. A suitor or potential servant, requiring a task.
    • Princeling wants you to kill their parent or parent-in-law.
    • An impossibly skilled artisan wants to get out of their contract with their cruel master.
    • D4+1 minstrels, rakes, and bravos. They want good stories and a good time. Foolish, but loyal to quick friends.
    • A magical noble is condemned to an ignoble form until someone can truly love them for who they are; you’re their next try.
    • At a festival, a wealthy woman gives each of you a large sum of money. Later, she returns to see how you have spent it. If spent wisely, you will be rewarded. If not, you shall lose what you gained.
    • A messenger of the Postal Brotherhood, bearing a very important letter, ideally for a PC. This brother is at least as capable as you.
  8. A naked sacrifice tied to a post. A monster nears (see 2.)
    • The sacrifice is a princeling from a nearby city, sacrificed because of the ruler’s cowardice.
    • The sacrifice is a random citizen from a nearby city who lost drawing lots. Might become a follower if saved.
    • A leper, apostate, heretic, or foreigner.
    • A monster hunter, betrayed by their guides.
  9. Natural disaster
    • Earthquake
    • Sudden freeze or heatwave
    • Ground opens up
    • Nephilim is killed; wave of blood followed by a new geographical feature
    • Raining embers
    • Hailstorm
    • A storm or other weather-event in humanoid form attempts to seduce you. Rebuffing them will curse you; on an encounter roll of 13, they catch up with you.
  10. The capital. An entire city, carried on the wind by cicadas, deposits itself in the area.

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