Encounters / Campaign Diary: Archipelago Adventures - Pt. 6
Today… we are finally talking about encounters. And before you start rolling your eyes… I am aware that I’ve said that several times before, but this time I mean it! While I may have gotten distracted by the Weather last week, this week I am laser focused on talking about random encounters on a big sea adventure! Now… Let’s revisit the map.
Heading Out… I Hope
Now that we are finally leaving Colial, and we know what the weather will be like, we are well on our way to discovering our first island!
As you can see, we are going to the next hex, and as we talked about before, for the sake of simplicity we are going to assume each hex will take us one day to move through. We can start adjusting distances a bit more once we get the basics figured out.
Also, back in Part 4 - Charting we went ahead and figured out what hexes were pre-mapped before our brave adventures started out on their quest to rid the world of these nasty hobgoblins.
With that being said, that means they are in discovered territories, and that means they should roll on a different table than if they were in undiscovered waters. People would talk if there was another island in the next hex over, or if there was a huge kraken making its home there. That type of stuff tends to grab the imagination a good bit, so I think it’s fair that an unmapped and mapped tile will have different encounters for them.
Now… what type of encounters can our fearless adventurers expect to find? I have a few ideas, and I hope more and more people give me their ideas in the future! But, let’s go ahead and list out a few(This will be for mapped and unmapped encounters):
A rowboat from a capsized ship
Abandoned Ship floating on the waters
Goblin/Hobgoblin war ship
Stowaway is found
New, Uncharted Island (uncharted)
A floating island that moves around the sea by itself
These are just a few ideas I’ve had, please add more in the comments below!
Danger Will Robinson!
So we have a rough idea as to what type of mischief is lurking beneath the seas, and we have a problem. Our players are going to be anywhere from level 1 to level 12+. How do we ensure that our encounters are balanced?
The answer to that is… we don’t… sort of. Our players should know, going into this, that sometimes there will be situations where they need to run, and I understand that that is no fun. I think we can help our the players a bit by have tier columns for DMs to roll off of on the same table, and each tier will have a Mapped/Unmapped section. Let’s go ahead and throw that together in GM Binder to see what we get.
Now that we have our headers, we can go ahead and start putting in all of our encounter ideas. By adding in these encounters, we are going to be determining the rarity of finding them. I think that a floating island is a 1% chance on a d100, while a Pirate ship might be more like a 5% chance. These are just going to be by feeling, things that are easier will have a greater chance of showing up, and considering its midnight while I’m writing this… it may need adjustments in the future.
With just completing the first few, we already have a decent idea as to what this chart will look like, eventually we are going to go back and fine tune it and do all of the encounters, but we at least have an idea what I am talking about. Now, when I say Pirate Ship, we can tell that if you are Tiered 1, you have a 2% chance of running into one during an encounter, whereas higher tiered parties are more likely to run into them. But how do we figure out just how strong to make our pirate ship? It’s not like one size fits all.
Well, I’m glad I asked myself that. After chart, like in most DnD adventure books, we are going to add section that talks in depth about each encounter. In that in depth look, we will also add in a few numbers for the GM to easily create their pirate ship.
Attacked on the high seas, pirates will either quickly move into boarding of the ship or shoot out the weapons and the sails before boarding the ship.
Tier 1 - Keelboat, 2d6 pirates(bandits) will attack by boarding the ship led by a pirate captain(bandit captain). They will attempt to flee if half their number is reduced and they can access their ship.
Tier 2 - 1d4 Keelboats, each Keelboat has 2d6 pirates(bandits) who will attack by boarding the ship, each is led by a pirate captain(bandit captain). They will attempt to flee if half their number is reduced and they can access their ship.
Tier 3 - Sailing Ship, 5d20 pirates(bandits) will attack by using their mangonels to knock out any weapons and then the sails before boarding the ship, they are led by a 1d6 pirate captains(bandit captain). They will attempt to flee if they lose their weapons, their ship is reduced to half health or they lose half their men if they are able to access their ship.
Tier 4 - Warship, 5d20 pirates(bandits) will attack by using their mangonels and ballistas to knock any weapons and then the sails before boarding the ship, they are led by 2d6 pirate captains(bandit captain). They will attempt to flee if they lose their weapons, their ship is reduced to half health or they lose half their men if they are able to access their ship.
Treasure: While the most treasure each ship has is based off of food rations (enough to feed their crew for 1 month), they also carry an assortment of trading goods and valuable prizes. See the chart below.
Tier 1 - Treasure Hoard 0-4 (pg 137, DMG) / Ignore any magical items rolled
Tier 2 - Treasure Hoard 5-10 (pg 137, DMG) / Ignore any magical items rolled
Tier 3 - Treasure Hoard 11-16 (pg 138, DMG) / Ignore any magical items rolled
Tier 4 - Treasure Hoard 17+ (pg 139, DMG) / Ignore any magical items rolled
Woo, that’s a lot of information given just for pirate ships. But fear not, Pirate Ships are probably one of the more complicated ones we may face figuring out encounters. I can see when it comes to tackling how many sahuagin will have less rolls just for the fact they aren’t (probably) carrying treasure on them.
Next week we are going to keep working on encounters and slowly make our way to the new, uncharted island! I’m pretty excited to get into encounters, and I think our next article will wrap up the basic idea of encounters and get into the nitty gritty of traveling on the high seas!