Sunday, March 25, 2018

Your Days (and Nights) Are Numbered...

Rather than attempting to immediately start filling my version of Jack Shear's Midenbrook with street names, businesses, and backstory - I chose to start with City State Encounters. Kent himself recommends that you utilize the book to populate tables of your own rather than attempting to use this large collection of tables (270 pages) during game. This sound advice is echoed throughout his works.

I had acquired a 'lab notebook' from a school that I used to work for from a free box of abandoned school supplies. I decided this was a good time to put it to use, and I will likely continue filling it with drafts and worksheets for this ongoing Oldskull project. For those unfamiliar, this type of notebook has a fairly faint grid, numbered pages, carbon paper duplicates, and a header that allows you to write pertinent information.

As you can (almost) see from the blurry photo collage, I spent quite a lot of time writing numbers yesterday. The goal was to produce a "Dawn to Dusk" and a "Dusk to Dawn" d100 table for random encounters in the town. In order to fill those results in - you roll on a table specifically for each half of the day, which in turn sends you to a specific table of details for each result.  I numbered two sheets (1-100) and then rolled the percentile dice until each had a result of 'event', 'person', 'beast', 'nothing' or 'mixed' (with rarity and person/beast noted where pertinent). At it's completion, this gives a rough view of what your personalized table will consist of. Kent recommends utilizing these tables at a rate of one roll per each half hour spent in the city.

The daytime list generated 51 encounter/event entries and 49 'no encounter' spots. The nighttime encounters were significantly more active with 31% of the results being empty or just your imagination breeding paranoia ("just shadows, footsteps" - nice reminder that atmosphere can be used in tables as well). The remaining 69 results came up fairly heavy with NPC encounters. Neither table, being generated for citified encounters, had a great deal of monster/beast results. The percentages within the root table do a good job of keeping the spread of results consistent. Shorter tables might not hold these results as well, but, as the author points out, less results in a table gives a shorter lifespan at the table before it gets repetitive or used up.

Once these results were tallied, I carried the results forward (carbon paper to the rescue). I highly recommend doing this in stages, doing one type of encounter at a time, rather than jumping all around the PDF for each result. I carried the 'no encounter' results over first, followed by the monster, person, mixed, and event results (in that order). There is still some jumping around, but with the index and a little familiarity with the contents - it gets subsequently easier.

The tables are very expansive - and sometimes you get a result that just doesn't work for you. I tried to minimize the amount I tossed - and, honestly, there were maybe six results out of 200 encounters that I just didn't see working. A number of these were rolls on 'reason for monster in urban environment' table - though I kept a few interestingly odd ones like the ethereal bull and the ill omen of insect swarms. Part of my goal with this randomization was to add new flavors that I hadn't conceived for my campaign - and the tables didn't disappoint.

As an example, here is a chunk of  results from the 'Dusk 'til Dawn' list:

%# Description of Encounter

20  Commoner (1d12 appearing, result: 5)
21  Street Urchin
22  Pipe Burst, Acidic Water
23  Paladin, High Level, Noble Born
24  Bandit/Brigand (1d12 appearing, result: 6)
25  Hook and Line Fisherman
26  Drink Merchant: Ostler
27  Secret Society Meeting
28  Mudlark and Magic Item Seller
29  Giant Centipede Engendered by Magic Potion
30  No Encounter

I have yet to finalize my results with encounter descriptions fine tuned to my particular campaign - but the results are quite pleasing to me. What I was surprised by was the number of paladins, barbarians, and monks wandering about (some of high or epic level). This immediately made my wheels spin - and when I detail these encounters, I'll share those with you.

All in all, this took the better part of an afternoon (probably 6 hours) and roughly 600 d100 or d1000 dice rolls to generate the bones of the table. I could easily utilize the results as is at my table - leaving just some hit points, equipment, and necessary statistics to be generated. My goal, however, is to present the summation of this project as a free adventure demonstrating what the Oldskull series is capable of doing with a helping hand. I'm attempting to create a sandbox campaign setting throughout this series of posts, give it a little polish and shine, and release it as a PDF with personalized campaign details and layout.

The next step is fleshing out these results, and making NPCs to fill the necessary important spots (as well as key members of the Midenbrook society). We will turn to the Dungeon Delver Enhancer to create this depth (including an illusionist/alchemist with a love of centipedes, and some of those paladins in the service of the White Goddess).

Until next time, stay ghoul...

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