Encounters 2 / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 7
Last week we began our discussion on encounters in the archipelago, but we didn’t really get into any of the nitty gritty. I explained a bit about how we were going to set up charts for the GM, but not when you are going to use those handy charts. So today, let’s talk about encounters, and how those are going to work in our adventure.
Heading Out… This Time For Real
Last week, before we got distracted by what our adventurers might face, we started heading out from Colial. Our first day finds us leaving the Colial Hex and arriving on the next hex, a Discovered Hex and we then immediately began creating encounters.
Now, today we are going to create another encounter… but when is this going to happen? And how will this all work together? If we keep the idea that each hex is one day of travel, than our adventurers will journey from the Discovered Hex (see the picture above) and travel to an Undiscovered Hex next (this is the darkened blue hex I crudely drew on). To do so, they will journey all day and night, as a ship travels at night as well, and this is when we are going to merge my travel rules into our ocean adventure. And, as we are drawing some inspiration from Tomb of Annihilation, this also helps us bring some of that Chult Jungle into our hex crawl… hex swim?
In Tomb of Annihilation, when the party is on the move, the GM rolls three d20s to determine if they have an encounter in the morning, afternoon or night. On a 16 or higher, they have an encounter for that time period, that’s a 25% chance of an encounter by the way. My travel rules talk about having encounters happening in three specific sections of the day… surprise, surprise… morning, afternoon and evening. My rules are just as good as WotC’s! Though, I don’t talk about how to roll for random encounters, I just provide key times as to when to do it.
But our ship is going to complicate matters, it travels all day and night. Non-stop, until that pesky weather catches up with us. I suppose we could just do 6 encounters per day… but that feels a bit much. What if that day is just non-stop with encounters? And I realize that that is a bit ridiculous as the GM is there to kind of stop those shenanigans, but still.
Personally… I like rolling for three things. I like three, I can’t explain it but I find things in three to be a lot easier to understand than when you start adding more and more to something. Three gets you to a point where you have a bit of complexity without going over the deep end of minutiae. So, let’s go ahead and keep our three d20 rolls, each d20 will represent a potential encounter for the day. This does cap us at 3 encounters per day… but I’m OK with that. Our poor players might revolt if they have to go through too many random encounters when all they want to do is just get to this damn island.
Alright, we will roll three d20s… that doesn’t help explain when these encounters will happen… and just cause a d20 is rolled, that doesn’t correlate to our random encounters chart as we are going d100 on those. Remember that in our Tomb of Annihilation example, that when you roll a d20 and it gives you a 16 or higher and you get an encounter? Same concept for this. We have to determine on what number a d20 roll will get you an encounter.
I think we are going to have two different d20 results. When in a Discovered Hex, our adventurers will get an encounter on an 18 or higher (15%), while in an Undiscovered Hex, they’ll get a slightly higher chance of an encounter on a 16 or higher (25%). This makes Undiscovered Hexes slightly more dangerous, and when more of our map is figured out, the party may choose to spend an extra day going through a Discovered Hex instead of taking their chances with an Undiscovered Hex.
Timeliness is Key
So great, we know that since our adventurers have just left Colial, they are on a Discovered Hex and we have to roll three d20s to determine if they find an encounter. Let’s assume that we roll the die and we get: 10, 18 & 20. This means we have two encounters for the day… which is awesome… but when?
Good question… and I’m afraid it comes to another chart, though this one could easily be more by feel than by a specific time frame. We roll a d6 for each encounter our party will face, and reroll any duplicates, cause while I love a pirate ship attack in the middle of a whirlpool, not everyone wants to live out that final fight in that one Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
This means we will roll two d6 and determine when our encounters will happen. Our quick d6 chart will be pretty simple and correspond to what time of day/night it is. And as a 24 hour clock is easily divisible by 6, kind of fixes our when for us, but we will go one step further and take those times and abstract them out a bit more.
Roll / Time Result / Abstract Result
1 / 1am - 4am / Night, Moon is out, Darkness
2 / 5am - 8am / Early Morning, sun begins to rise, Dim Light
3 / 9am - 12pm / Late Morning, sun is fully up, Bright Light
4 / 1pm - 4pm / Afternoon, sun is fully up, Bright Light
5 / 5pm - 8pm / Early Evening, sun begins to set, Dim Light
6 / 9pm - 12am / Late Evening, Moon is out, Darkness
Based off our chart above, we have 33% chance of being in Darkness, being in Dim Light or being in Bright Light. Which is pretty damn fair, and you could adjust as you want for your own table, but I like the full spectrum this provides… and if your table is a bit more literal when it comes to the time in game, this provides the GM something easy to work off of for these d6 rolls. Or if you never want to look at this chart again, you can just roll a d6 and abstract from there. The higher the number to a 6, the later in the day it is, the closer to a 1, the early in the day it is.
Back to our two encounters, we need to roll a d6 for each encounter. So I’ll use my dice roller and get: 4 & 6. So an encounter free day until they get attacked in the afternoon under a full sun, and then again just at the end of the day when the characters are getting ready to fall asleep in darkness. I can already imagine pirates trying to sneak aboard under the light of a moon!
Encounters At Sea
So now we know when things are going to happen during the day of encounters, we then need to roll on the appropriate Tier Mapped chart. Let’s say we are Tier 1, and we are in a Mapped area, so we will go to our handy chart…
Oh… well, that’s embarrassing… we only have three things on there so far… well, let’s assume on our two d100 rolls we roll: 1 & 9. This means during the afternoon they are attacked by pirates… and then that night, they are attacked by the ghosts of the pirates they just killed earlier that day! Perfect!
To recap everything, here is the chain of events our GM will have to take for each day of travel on the high seas:
The GM will roll three d20. If the party is in a Discovered Hex, they will have an encounter on an 18 or higher. If the party is in an Undiscovered Hex, they will have an encounter on a 16 or higher. If the party is feeling tired by the number of encounters, increase the result needed by 2. (Discovered Hex: 20, Undiscovered Hex: 18 or higher)
If there are encounters, the GM will then roll a number of d6s for the number of encounters for that day. On a duplicate, the GM will reroll one of the duplicates. Each d6 will determine when an encounter takes place per the time chart.
After determining when the encounter will happen, the GM will roll the same number of d100s to determine what encounters the adventuring party will face.
We now have a pretty good way of determining how often encounters will happen as well as how to determine when the encounters will happen. Next week we are going to go into what a normal day of travel will look like for our party, and maybe move a few tiles closer to discovering a new island! In the meantime, let’s go ahead and make another encounter for the week!
While on the high seas you come across a trading ship. They typically carry food and supplies, but sometimes can have valuables on board, either roll or choose from one of the options below:
1 - The ship is only carrying enough supplies to get it to its destination. They are willing to buy any valuables or trade goods that don’t exceed 20 gp. They are currently carrying 10d6 x 5 gp.
2 - The ship is carrying some extra supplies and is willing to part with it for a slightly higher price than regular. They are willing to buy any valuables or trade goods that don’t exceed 30 gp. They are currently carrying 10d6 x 10 gp. They have 1d4 of any of the equipment listed in the PHB that is 15 gp or less. They will charge 5 gp more for those goods.
3 - The ship is carrying lots of supplies and trade goods. They are happy to trade at fair value and are willing to buy any valuable or trade goods that don’t exceed 50 gp. They are currently carrying 10d10 x 10 gp. They have 1d6 of any of the equipment listed in the PHB that is 25 gp or less.
4 - The ship is flush with wealth, extra supplies and trade goods. They are excited to trade with the party and are willing to buy any valuable or trade goods that don’t exceed 100 gp. They are currently carrying 10d20 x 10 gp. They have 1d10 of any of the equipment listed in the PHB that is 50 gp or less.
5 - This ship is barely floating and requires assistance. The crew was attacked by pirates recently and they are worried the ship will sink soon. If you take them on board, your crew grows by 2d6 and you gain enough supplies for 1d4 weeks.
6 - This ship has no interest in trading with you and will fire on you if provoked. They want nothing to do with trade and will avoid any contact.