Friday, November 20, 2009

A Fantasy Sandbox in Detail Part XI

Part X

This is the eleventh in a series detailing the 34 steps I recommended for making a Fantasy Sandbox Campaign. Today's post will cover the following step.
Come up with 6 to 12 general encounter for the region as a whole. Should usable in any area of the region. They are a sentence or two each.

  1. Captain Arvis Black and his ship the Red Revenge are encountered. If it is on water then it is a ship to ship confrontation. On land a shore party is encountered.
  2. After a storm the bodies of several Sahuagins are found washed up on the shore. One of them has a coral route map to the Sahuagin’s lair that can be interpreted by Valard the Yellow Mage of Southpoint.
  3. A small shrine to Saint Edmund exists on an accessible ridge just below the peak of Mount Devon. A party of 3d6 pilgrims is encountered while making their way to the shrine.
  4. An avalanche on Mount Devon has uncovered a small outpost of Tavaras the Lich Lord. It is a two level complex.
  5. The fishermen of the Midland Sea periodically hold untaxed illegal fairs to trade among each other. Loud noises draw the party to one such fair being held on the north shore of the Isle of Piall.
  6. The annual tavern race is about to start. Run from Hawth to Kathi, the participants are required to stop at each of the half dozen taverns on the island and drink at least four mugs before moving on.
  7. Baron Argus Gervon is hunting the slopes of Mount Devon. He is annoyed at the lack of game. Upon encountering the party he blames them for scaring away the game and fines them 100 gp each for forest law violations.
  8. On the east shore of the Isle of Piall a beautiful voice is heard singing. It is Merisa the daughter of King Tuoris of Aventis singing while resting on the rocks on the shoreline. She has a 18 charisma.

When creating these encounters you should be taking a broader view of the setting. For example if an barbarian invasion is part of your setting is the spot to put any encounters involving that plot that is not tied to any one location. Raiders or temporary encampments for example.

As to when you want to use these encounter one answer is "When you feel like it". Many have the idea that a sandbox is deterministic in that you go to location x and find y. If that it all it was then it would be little better than playing Ultima or Oblivion on your computer. General Encounters is one tool a sandbox referee can use give a sense that the character are moving in a larger world. They also useful to move the players along if they flounder or appear to be going in circles.

If that is too subjective for your taste then you can use "triggers". This triggers can cause or terminate general encounters. For example barbarian raids can cease if the High Chief of Nermanni is killed. Or undead start wandering the Isle of Piall if the 2nd level under the Bone Keep is breached.

However you decide to implement General Encounters you need to think of your sandbox setting as a whole rather than a collection of locales. Of course also make them fun and exciting adventures.

That it for Part XI, next is Part XII.


Anonymous said...

Could you talk a bit about how you see this being used in relation to the specific local encounter tables?

Robert Conley said...

Added some commentary at the bottom of the post. Thanks for the suggestion.

Unknown said...

Hmmmmm. Maybe you could arrange these on a sort of matrix of conditions and triggers (in broad terms, of course). Like seasonal encounters, encounters that require other encounters, eta.

drakoo said...

hey rob its jeremy from gasp con also known as drakoo the thug like your blog

Robert Conley said...

Glad to see you. Hope you are having a lot of fun with this stuff.

Unknown said...

This is an outstanding series of posts. Thanks for sharing this. :)