[NOTE: This has been edited, as of Sept 14]
As mentioned earlier, the region of the Darkearth Plains is one of conditions very similar to the Pleistocene era on Earth. Many of the animals we are familiar with from the fossil record of that time are present in the Valley of the Old Ones, specifically in this region. Also, even as far south as the Great River, the weather in the Darkearth Plains is notably cold. These two features (the presence of the large animals we think of as Ice Age mammals; and the very cold weather) combine to provide an interesting wilderness encounter matrix.
The encounter system works like this:
Each day is divided up into four 6-hour periods. They are called Dawn, Day, Dusk and Night.
From this rough outline of time periods, for each one that the players spend the majority of the time outside of human habitation, roll 2d6. On a basic score of 9+ there is an encounter. If the season's weather has been particularly rough, then add +1 to the roll (more of these creatures - which represent the aggressors in the food chain - will be prowling for food when the weather is tough). If the player party has any rangers or druids in it, add or subtract one each, at the player's whim.
If the score is successful, then check the following table to see what the chance for surprise is, as well as the likely range of the initial encounter.
(1d6 x 100 yards)
(4d6 x 10 yards)
(2d4 x 10 yards)
- If the dice roll for surprise is successful, then the party is unaware of the encounter, initially, and the encounter range is half of what is rolled.
- If the encounter takes place in mountains or forest, halve the encounter range that is rolled.
- If the encounter is primarily a flying creature, then double the encounter range that is rolled.
If the surprise number is rolled, this means that the encounter is present before the party is aware of them. If the surprise roll is failed, then the party is somehow aware of the encounter at the same time as it appears. Once it appears, normal rules for surprise and perception should apply.
Once an encounter has been determined, then roll two 6 sided dice, and consult the following table. Add +1 to the Red dice if they players are within 10 miles of a sizeable human settlement/habitation (sizeable means more than 100 humans, demihumans, or humanoids living in a regular place - such as a town, castle, fortress, etc).
This will generate a letter. Then for each of the terrain types listed below, this will give an encounter. Many of these are already detailed with statistics inside the OSR reference document (posted here). Other creatures will be detailed in a future posting on this blog.
|Sabre Tooth Tiger||E||H||H,J,K||B,C,D||D|
There are several entries that call for consulting a subtable. These are presented below, with regional specific notes (for instance, human encounters in the Aghanz hills are likely to be Shagmen, whereas human encounters near any of the three Baronies in the region are likely to be typical medieval period humans).
Ever since the invasion of the Westroners into the Valley of the Old Ones, they have dominated the landscape, at least from the point of view of civilized beings. The Westron Baronies (independent Kingdoms in all but name) represent the only really organized political entities within the Valley. Before the Westroners arrived, of course, the barbarians (the Sun King tribes, the Storm King tribes, and oddities like the Shagmen) existed, but not in the same numbers. This subtable is a way to determine what sort of band of humans are encountered, when they are.
- A body of armed soldiery appropriate to the area encountered in.
- In the Aghanz Hills, or nearby, these will be Shagmen (2d6 warriors; 6d6 women and children)
- In the east, anywhere the Terrapin or Greywater rivers, they will be Storm King Barbarians (2d6 huscarls; 4d6 bondi)
- Anywhere near the Baronies or the Great River, they will be Westroners - Baronial Armsmen (2d6 knights; 4d6 sargents; 8d6 peasants)
- Anywhere else, it will likely be a band of Freebooters (2d6 fighters; 2d6 thieves; 4d6 thugs). These may be looking for work, or may be looking for mayhem.
- 1d3 significant clerics (or druids); 2d6 lesser clergy (same order); 6d6 pilgrims, followers
- 1d6 Merchants or Family members; 2d6 armed guards (missile weapons and polearms); 4d6 servants and attendants.
- 2d6 craftsmen; 2d6 armed guards. 50% chance that an appropriate camp/settlement will be nearby to support the craft (charcoal burning camp; mine; lumber camp; fishing village; windmill; etc.
- 1d6 powerful leaders; 2d6 strong lieutenants; 4d6 thugs - from some culture "somewhere else" - here for thievery and mischief
- This is some sort of out of the ordinary group of Humans, met traveling through the local area. If encountered at night, they will have a nearby camp.
- Adventure Party
- Questing Paladin; or Patrolling Ranger (with a unit of Northguard)
- Errant Knight
- Shaman (primitive) on vision quest
- Assassin on a mission
- Evil High Priest (otherwise, as Religious)
This entry represents intelligent beings, that may have a reasonable level (not necessarily advanced, however) of organization and structure, but that are not Humans or Demi-Humans.
In some regions of the Darkearth Plains, it is not necessary to roll on this table.
- In the western part of the plains, near the Lost Mare River, any encounter of this type will be of the intelligent horses of the Great Herd, led by the Khan of All Horses.
- The area just north of the King's Highway near the Great Owl Forest is home to a federation of tribes of Broo (chaotic evil goat headed beastmen), called the Horned Ones.
- Along the Greywater River, in the lands of the Storm King Barbarians, there are tribal areas of the Furlingga (a particular language group of Gnolls, very advanced and organized compared to other bands of Gnolls).
- Between the Great Owl Forest and the Terrapin River, in the Terrapin Marsh, there are the notorious Marsh Trolls.
- In the west, where the great sinkholes near the Nightwash River are located, the influence of the Dark Elf Buccaneer kingdoms is significant.
- At the south end of the Lost Mare River, there is the Arriott Bottom Swamp. A very large community of Lizard Men dwell here.
|6||Forest Folk (random type)
(2d6, unless Badger, then only 1)
Notes: In all cases, these will be appropriately armed as per their type, and will likely be accompanied by a number of lesser supportive beings, or henchmen. For instance, a band of Orcs will likely have a variety of different weapons, and shards of leather and metal armor, and will likely be accompanied by as many, again, half-orcs, and perhaps half as many goblins. In all cases, if possible, these will engage first with missile weapons. Entries #1-5 will be led by an evil human (either wizard, evil high priest, thief, or fighter) 40% of the time. Entry #6 has the same chance of being accompanied by a human leader, but in some cases he will be good. If entry 6 turns out to be Badger Folk, then the human is a Questing Partner, on a vision quest together.
This subtable is a way to determine which of the several types of Demi-Humans that are present within the valley get encountered. When encountered, Demi-Humans are almost always on their own (nearly inscrutable) business. This table just gives the broad type that might be expected.
In certain regions of the Darkearth Plains, there is little reason to roll the dice. For instance, in the Harp Woods or the Great Owl Forest, almost all Demi-Human encounters will be with Elves. In the Aghanz Hills, especially near Flintgate, they will be Gnomes. Up in the Destriel Mountains it will be Dwarves. Halflings mingle with human habitations, especially with the many towns that are dependent on the Baronial cities.
In other areas, or if variety is simply wished for, the following table can be consulted.
|5||Dark Elves (3d6)|
|6||Faery Folk (5d6)|
Number appearing are mounted elfin knights (elven chainmail, shield, lance, longsword, barded horse), with twice as many foot warriors in attendance (chainmail, polearms).
Each dwarf is a professional - miner, brewer, gemcutter, etc - but also a warrior. Likely to be armed with axes and crossbows, with shield and scale mail.
Each gnome is wearing flexible metal armor (usually chainmail) and armed with short bow, short sword, and carrying a small round shield. 70% chance to be led by an illusionist, either gnome or human.
Led by a Sheriff, mounted on a small pony or ass. Others likely to have leather armor, slings, throwing axes, and short spears.
If encountered during daylight hours, likely to be disguised as good elves. If encountered after dark, likely (65%) to be led by some high level organizer(s) of the band (1d6 driders; mindflayer; evil high priest; vampire
There are likely to be a mixture of types here - faeries, brownies, pixies, leprechauns, talking animals, and others. Likely (65%) to be led by a noble faery (male or female) mounted on a Pseudo Dragon, with 1d6 retainers similarly mounted.
|4||Hill Giants (2d6)|
|5||Frost Giants (1d6)|
|6||Mountain Giants (1d4)|
In the case of Ogres and Hill Giants, these will be led by an evil, high level human (such as an evil high priest, an evil thief, or an evil fighter). Trolls may be being followed (35%) by a band (3d6) of goblins that worship trolls. If so, these will join in any fight that the trolls themselves get involved in.
|1||Ice Wyrm (1d4+1)|
|4||White Dragon (1d2)|
|5||Red Dragon (1d2)|
|6||Green Dragon (1d2)|
If there is more than 1 of these creatures in an encounter, there will be a nest somewhat nearby, that contains 1d4 young.
|1||Wildfire (1d6 x 5 miles wide)|
|2||Zombie Horde (5d6 zombies)|
|3||Single, powerful undead (lich, vampire, etc)|
|5||Natural Hazard (cliff, quicksand, lightning, etc)|
|6||Stampeding herd/tribe (roll another encounter to see what it is)|