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    Canonfire :: View topic - Encounter tables in the World of Greyhawk
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    Encounter tables in the World of Greyhawk
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    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Feb 09, 2005
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    Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:04 am  
    Encounter tables in the World of Greyhawk

    Hi

    I'd like to ask question about your experience with this:

    In the 1983 box set there are encounter tables for different countries in Greyhawk. For example party of 1-st level can meet unit from 50-100 orcs or bandits on the road. How I can to handle this? Is it means that such troops always can be avoided or friendly?


    Last edited by Vasiliy on Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

    Joined: Nov 23, 2004
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    Tue Oct 25, 2005 12:08 pm  

    I use table as mere suggestions. If I don't like the result, I reroll it or pick something else. But before I do that, I consider if the encounter could go a way I would like it to. Why would it be there and could the PCs survive? 100 orcs could be under the command of someone reasonable, with scouts to capture a low level party. They might just give them ribbing and let them go. Or they could be really nasty, but seen a long way away and avoided. It does not have to be fight. Make it what you want.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 05, 2005
    Posts: 8
    From: Columbus, Nebraska

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    Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:14 pm  

    Random encounters are just that random. Use your judgment on them, some work well, others do not work at all. If the party is hurt badly then I normally don't even roll for encounters. If they are starting to fell unstoppable then I most definitely roll. Hope that helps. Happy
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    Journeyman Greytalker

    Joined: Aug 26, 2001
    Posts: 171
    From: Pittsburgh

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    Tue Oct 25, 2005 5:28 pm  

    The outdoor random encounter tables are carry-overs from the earliest day of OD&D. There was a pretty basic formula: There's a town with a real big dungeon close by. You adventure in that dungeon until you reach 10th level or so, and then you start wandering around the wilderness. The depth of the campaign settings increased greatly, and it became common for low level parties to adventure outdoors as well, but for the most part the encounter tables were never updated from the original approach that assumed much higher level parties for the listed encounter numbers.
    Scott
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: May 12, 2005
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    From: Woonsocket, RI, USA

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    Wed Oct 26, 2005 1:53 am  

    I see the wilderness encounter tables as being entirely democratic. I don't think every encounter needs to be balanced to the party's level. I think if they are in a locale where there is a 1% chance of a dragon flying overhead, it doesn't much matter if the PCs are 1st level or 9th level the dragon is still going to fly overhead. Wise low-level PCs will run for cover. Unwise low-level PCs will die.

    I handle large war parties in much the same way, although I will adjust the numbers to compensate but never below the minimum number appearing. If orcs travel in groups of 30300, then at least 30 will always be met if the dice indicate such an encounter. If the party is not able to handle 30 orcs, then it's up to the PCs to avoid them.

    In this regard, I am merciless; just because the PCs may already be wounded from some prior battle, it is no less likely that they will run into hostile creatures in the wilderness than if they were at full strength. (In fact, it's even more likely that the orcs would attack a weakened group.) I am a firm believer in "fantasy realism" over DM intervention.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: May 14, 2004
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    Wed Oct 26, 2005 6:09 am  
    "Random" Encounters

    There are some good suggestions here. I don't actually use random encounters- I plan them out ahead of time. It gives me a chance to throw in some encounters that I want to run but don't want to base an entire campaign around. I consider them to be random in the sense that they may or may not directly relate to the storyline. But as the other posters mentioned above- if it doesn't fit don't use it. And don't be afraid to set up an encounter with a group of adversaries, such as the 100 orcs for the 1rst level party, that are too powerful for the player characters. There is nothing like fleeing for their lives that will teach the PCs humility and prove to them that you mean business and are not going to molly-coddle them.
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: May 12, 2005
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    From: Woonsocket, RI, USA

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    Wed Oct 26, 2005 7:23 am  
    Re: "Random" Encounters

    Ludovico wrote:
    I don't actually use random encounters- I plan them out ahead of time.


    I do more-or-less the same thing. I prepare several possible encounters prior to each session, but I do randomly roll for the occurrence of those encounters in the game. Depending on the probabilities and the whims of the dice, I might use none, some, or all of them in any given session.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jan 19, 2004
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    Thu Oct 27, 2005 4:23 am  

    DMpratha, I do the same thing IMC. The world is how it is, the party must adjust to it. Not the other way around. If the world is based around the party level, where is the realism of it.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Oct 27, 2005 7:05 am  

    tulkas: "The world is how it is, the party must adjust to it. Not the other way around. If the world is based around the party level, where is the realism of it."

    IMO, the part that is missing is that the players must come before realism. For the sake of their fun, accomodations should be made. In the real world people die all the time by no fault of their own. That should not happen in the game. So pit a party of 1st characters against 100 orcs, but even if it is unrealistic, give them every chance to survive. Otherwise, it would not be fun, and there would be no point in playing.

    What a lame ending it would have been to the Lord of the Rings if Sam and Frodo were not mistaken for orcs in Mordor.
    Journeyman Greytalker

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    Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:14 am  

    tulkas wrote:
    The world is how it is, the party must adjust to it. Not the other way around. If the world is based around the party level, where is the realism of it.


    Our Games have always been thus...The world is a harsh place and doesn't mold itself to the PCs...That's why few folk venture far from home and that's what makes adventurers exceptional...That said, the DM is in charge of what happens in the game and why encounter distance and surprise are oh so important...The PCs don't have to physically engage every encounter they come across...Hiding and running are always options...
    Kwint
    Master Greytalker

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    Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:31 am  

    Wolfsire wrote:

    What a lame ending it would have been to the Lord of the Rings if Sam and Frodo were not mistaken for orcs in Mordor.


    I just assumed they'd made their Bluff checks. :P
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Dec 06, 2003
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    From: Torrance, Calif.

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    Sat Oct 29, 2005 9:20 pm  

    i find having a certaint amount of fantasy realism to be important for the overall consistency for the players. If encounters are constantly scaled for the players then the PCs will not feel any sense of accomplishment or movement in the world. However, rolling for something that will just wipe out the party is no fun and giving them every chance to avoid it is completely necessary to having a campaign work -what fun is there for anyone if the PCs are wiped out? But... if fantasy realism is desired keep in mind that killing someone deliberately is rare and in agrarian societies the aristocracy is a warrior-elite and employ fairly small armies so large areas of the map will be fairly safe for any adventuring parties. Unless the parties are in humanoid lands where there is a warrior culture that demands every part of the society be involved with warfare on some level, then it is appropriate for the players to be wary and for the DM to make that distinction.

    The Grey Mouser

    'Never play a sport where the players carry club' - Grandma Watkins
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Mar 17, 2004
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    From: Cullman, AL

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    Fri Nov 04, 2005 8:18 pm  

    GreyMouser wrote:
    i find having a certaint amount of fantasy realism to be important for the overall consistency for the players. If encounters are constantly scaled for the players then the PCs will not feel any sense of accomplishment or movement in the world. However, rolling for something that will just wipe out the party is no fun and giving them every chance to avoid it is completely necessary to having a campaign work -what fun is there for anyone if the PCs are wiped out? But... if fantasy realism is desired keep in mind that killing someone deliberately is rare and in agrarian societies the aristocracy is a warrior-elite and employ fairly small armies so large areas of the map will be fairly safe for any adventuring parties. Unless the parties are in humanoid lands where there is a warrior culture that demands every part of the society be involved with warfare on some level, then it is appropriate for the players to be wary and for the DM to make that distinction.

    The Grey Mouser

    'Never play a sport where the players carry club' - Grandma Watkins


    It all depends on if you approach the game as a story or a chance for the characters to vicariously live other lives through their characters in a "realistic" fantasy world. Either approach is fine as long as both the players and DM are on the same page about it. An encounter with a 100 member orc war party does not have to be a total party wipe. It is not like a warband can sneak up on someone. If players realize that encounters are not automatically scaled to their level, then they should have the sense to cut and run as soon as they realize that dust on the horizon is caused by many armed troops.

    I tend to approach my campaigns more from the story aspect, though. The only time I use random encounter tables is when I need inspiration while I'm designing the session. And then I still modify them to fit my vision of the campaign. Even if you do want to use what is rolled, the 100 orcs in this example, a little thought can still turn that into a survivable enounter. For one thing, it is unlikely that the characters will turn a corner and bump nose to nose with that many orcs. As I said earlier, they should have enough warning to avoid them. They could, however, easily run into a small forward scouting party from that warband. To me, this seems much more "realistic" and also scales better to the party strength.
    Apprentice Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 22, 2005
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    From: Orland Hills, Illinois

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    Thu Nov 10, 2005 4:26 pm  

    I have been using the box set encounters in an attempt to determine general 3.5 EL encounter tables. I have the base data scanned, now I have to figure a strategy to correlate the 3.5 organization structures to the 1st %in lair number. Its the bean counter/statistician geek in me...
    Master Greytalker

    Joined: Jul 13, 2002
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    From: Orlane, Gran March

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    Thu Nov 10, 2005 5:19 pm  
    Random Encounters

    Random encounters are, IMO, a great way to keep the party guessing.
    I have had many parties who wanted to address life in a very linear fashion. You know: at first level they say "Oh look, a Great Red Wyrm, kill it!" Random encounters have been a great way to dispell this behaviour without wrecking my planned encounters. I dont want to prep a dungeon for hours only to have the party run away at the first encounter (third maybe) but not the first. I blend it with some set encounters. Nothing complicated but more than "You see an Orc." They are always survivable but many times not defeatable.

    For those interested, the DM's Toolbox by AEG has some fantastic random encounters. They are more complex than an orc or owlbear encounter. My favorite is the goblins with a statue with Gem eyes covered in sovereign glue. Anyway, these help disguise random encounters so that they blend in with the flow of a story based campaign.
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