Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Running a Blackmoor style Wilderness:


Maps
Ubiquitous to original style roleplaying is the map.  For the upper world, just as in the dungeon, the players will have a mostly blank sheet of paper.  The referees map will be fuller - full enough to cover at least the evenings’ gaming.   Since the players themselves draw their own map as they go along, if they draw something wrong, or make a wrong guess about some location, the referee should only correct them unless it's an obvious mistake the characters wouldn't make.

The referee’s map will have a few fixed locations, more or less fleshed out – key villages or ruins or whatever it may be, as in the Loch Gloomen example, but at least some of the referee’s map should remain undetermined in terms of the inhabitants and their lairs.  This is because the encounter roll is a key feature of wilderness adventure.

Checks
Ultimately, how often and when an encounter check should be made is a decision the referee must make.  For overland travel Underworld and Wilderness Adventures dictates but one check and that at the end of the day.  This method would seem to miss opportunities as characters travel en route.  The First Fantasy Campaign does not specify how often to check, but the underlying assumption seems clearly to be that a new check will be made for every 10 mile Hex entered.  Adventures in Fantasy is more explicit however, “The area is a 10 x 10 mile section” (Book of Adventure p 28) and “For each area traveled there will be one die cast… to determine if anything is encountered by the party during that day.  …each party traveling (horse or foot) one Area per day.  (Optionally, a completely mounted force could travel two Areas per day.  All water movement is three Areas per day (three chances for an encounter)…” (ibid p. 36)  Travel rates in the FFC are also  one 10 * 10 mile hex per day for open areas but are half as much for woods and deserts, and cut by 2/3 for mountains and swamps.

Personally I prefer to check once per 5 mile hex entered, regardless.


% Lair
When the players enter a Hex. I do an encounter roll, and then if positive a % Lair roll to see if the party has found a lair or just some of the lair inhabitants. If the characters have found a monster but not its’ lair, the lair will still be somewhere in that hex from that moment forward.

The Monster
So far the approach followed is about the same as in OD&D, but the next step in OD&D would be to  roll a d6 encounter chance die followed by a d8 on the "Encounter types" table (animals, flyers, lycans, etc.) followed by a d12 on the monster lists under each type.  Back in 1971, Arneson simply rolled a d20 on a single table that had some specific monsters (Ogres, Trolls etc.) and some blank spaces indicating no encounter; see Encounter Matrix I, (FFC 1977, p 34).  My approach is a compromise.  I use the category titles created for Champions of ZED, (because they are a little more flexible than the “flyers” or “giants” of D&D), but I’ve put them into Dave’s Blackmoor encounter matrix to create Blackmoor style wilderness and encounter chances, while allowing for a greater variety of monsters.  So for example, where in Dave’s table he had “ghouls” I put “undead” in mine; where he had “goblin” I put “Humanoid” (called Giant in OD&D) and so forth.   Non-Hmnd (non-humanoid) encompasses the OD&D categories of Flyers, Swimmers, and Animals, but also includes any kind of monster that does not fall into one of the other categories, such as Medusae or Basilisks.   Trolls were the only really tricky one to deal with on Arnesons table.  I categorized trolls/ogres as humanoid, and True Trolls as Non-humanoid, mostly because it seemed to work better that way.  Here is the table:

D20
OPEN
RIVER
MOUNTAIN
DESERT
WOODS
SWAMP
1
Lycan
Lycan
Non-Hmnd
Dragon
Humanoid
Lycan
2
Undead
Humanoid
Dragon
Lycan
Humanoid
Humanoid
3
Humanoid
Non-Hmnd
Undead
Undead
Lycan
Non-Hmnd
4
Human
Undead
Dragon
Non-Hmnd
Humanoid
Humanoid
5
Lycan
Humanoid
Humanoid
Humanoid
Non-Hmnd
Undead
6
Human
Human
Lycan
Human
Non-Hmnd
Non-Hmnd
7
Non-Hmnd
Undead
Humanoid
Non-Hmnd
Undead
Humanoid
8

Non-Hmnd
Non-Hmnd
Human
Non-Hmnd
Human
9


Humanoid
Human
Humanoid
Non-Hmnd
10


Undead

Human
Dragon*
11


Humanoid

Lycan

12


Human

Lycan

13


Non-Hmnd

Humanoid

14


Non-Hmnd

Non-Hmnd

15






16






17






18






19






20








So from this table, go to the specific list and either pick or roll for the exact monster.  A d20 result landing on an empty space indicates no encounter.  Note: I cheated with the dragon in the swamp.  Earth elemental was listed twice here in Arnesons list, and it really seemed that a dragon should be there somewhere.

Enjoy.

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