Monday, 25 April 2011

One-Page Wilderness System

And so, here's the one-page, 18 point version of my latest wilderness encounter system for areas being repeatedly traveled through or explored. Call it "Dungeons Without Walls" or what you will. The idea is to mix pre-stocking with randomness to surprise both players and DM, without leaving the latter completely flabbergasted. Click, as always, to enlarge.

Some tidbits:
  • The five mile hex is a decent approximation of the core range area of your average lone or pack predator in a prey-rich environment, with the maximum range extending into the next six hexes. Sparing you the details, this comes after rummaging around available ecological data for wolves, lions and mountain lions.
  • Rule of thumb for range: (L) for lair-bound creatures like evil trees, demons, lake critters; (0) if move is slower than human, or habits are reclusive; (1) for normal human move and slightly faster, hunting or patrolling creature; (2) for flying, fast, particularly restless or wide-ranging creature.
  • How you stock the map is up to you, but keep in mind the danger level you want to convey for the area. I figure in a 90% saturated environment, with a monster for nearly every hex, you'll average about a 10% chance of an encounter each roll, or 55% daily chance of an encounter (7 rolls a day assuming 15 miles per day). Going down to 50% saturation, the daily chance drops closer to 25%. In open terrain, monsters will be fewer but have longer range, while the opposite is true for swamps, forests and mountains. For comparison, 1st Edition AD&D has six 10% encounter chances a day for forests and swamps, and only three a day for plains and desert.
  • Clues can be tracks, spoor, victims, old prospectors with a tall tale to tell, distant glimpses, or anything else that tips off a party to nearby monsters. If you're feeling kind, you can ignore these results and just give parties facing a clearly out-of-depth monster one warning clue, instead of their first encounter with it. But the next one is for real!
Anything else you think should go in there?

EDIT: Let's try this version for greater clarity:


  1. How'd you use the white-yellow-orange map and its table in the middle? I dont really understand the entries and their connection.

  2. The white hex stands for the party's current location on the keyed map to the left. You roll to find what hex the encounter is coming from, and if that hex is empty or not appropriate there's no encounter.

  3. Very cool. I'm really liking the range idea as well. The combination of random and placed doesn't make things too crowded over time? In my experience, PCs rarely "wipe out" outdoor critters.

  4. I *think* I like this. I usually require an example for novel ingenuity. Could you do a quick example post of it in use?


  5. @Bane: Got that for ya.
    @Trollsmyth: Maybe the example will make it clearer, but everything is placed on the map. What's random is whether or not you run into one of the placed monsters, entering or just marking time in any given hex.

  6. Roger: Aaaaah, ok, I got ya. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense.

  7. Wow. This is amazing. Thank you.

  8. Thank you Roger, its clear now!

  9. Roger,
    I didn't notice your second draft until this morning...that is MUCH clearer and has transformed it from something I wished I understood so that I could use it into something I will definitely try to use in the future. Thanks!

  10. A little late to the party (try many years), but this has been absolutely incredible in play.

  11. I really like this system, and I am going to use it for my campaign. Do you have some examples of territories filled with monsters to use it with that rules? I found one (old's bastard barrens), but nothing more. If you have some, Could you share it?

  12. i love reading this article so beautiful!!great job!
    Wedding Dresses