System Neutral 1d100 Non-Encounters Table

I, like many of you, enjoy crafting my own Random Encounters lists, but since I don’t really enjoy Hack & Slash games, I alter them so that they are open to interpretation.  I detest having back to back combat encounters, especially random ones; so, say on game day, the party is out in the wilderness looking for a dungeon to loot, and I find that a Random Encounter happens, and the result is a bandit attack, I’ll run it, and once the combat ate a half an hour of my life, I still have to check Random Encounters 2 more times, and one of them rolls positive, and now the party is supposed to be attacked by a stray war party of orcs! Well, I won’t run it; instead I say that they come across an empty camp where the orcs had recently been, or something else to avoid the combat.

I like to keep my lists fresh, limit what monsters appear on it, and have plot points present in the R.E. Tables as well, but I have developed a Table that can be used along with your own Random Encounter Tables which I have found helps with creating that Simulation feel.

This table is best used with a dedicated playmap where the point is to explore the wilderness for the hidden lair, dungeon, or main objective of the game. It assumes that a base of some kind is also on the map which the party has to return to to replenish expendables and make preparations to explore different sections of the map.

1d100 Non-Encounters Table

01-11 Water
67-70 Edible (10% pois.)
87-88 Occup. Cabin
98-99 DM’s Choice*
12-22 Cave
71-74 minor injury
89-90 Dead wild.
00 DM’s Choice*
23-33 wild. Sign
75-78 Hazard
91-92 Wonder

34-44 Shack
79-82 Landmark
93-95 Mine

45-55 Camp
83-86 Trap
96-97 ruins
56-66 Anim. annoy

I place a reference to this table in a Common Wilderness entry in my Random Encounter Table, so it gets used, and as you can see, it just generates quick ideas which are all open to interpretation. It simulates that X factor of luck in the wilderness.

It is typically assumed that the party has drinkable water, or that they will find it while out in the wilderness. This can mean that they find some, or it can mean that they lost theirs. It can be a canteen that is found on the road, a lake too small to appear on the map, a chance to catch fish, or bath or whatever they want to do. It is designed to simulate travel, and make it memorable. This is something that stands out when the characters think back to their journey.

If you want, many of these things can easily be converted into quick combat scenerios, but they don’t have to be. This may be a cave, or it may be something else. It represents shelter, something to get the party out of the elements, heal their wounds, or maybe cause some new ones. It can be something that is easily investigated, a place for food or water, whatever you want to do with it.

This is typically a hint for what is on the Wilderness Random Encounter Table, you can either roll against it, or just pick something. It can be poop, an old camp, a dead one, signs of a previous attack, it should be a hint of some kind. If the party wants to follow a trail, they can. I don’t know about you but I do put some dangerous stuff in the Very Rare sections of my Random Encounters lists, this result can set off some alarmbells and give some much needed Intel to the players. If you want to, you can even have this lead to the enemy, or to an ambush because the enemy put this trail here on purpose.

Hunters, trappers, and whoevers build and abandon these things all the time. They can be emergency cabins, or contain some supplies. They can be places to rest for the night, or to fortify so that the party can move deeper into the wilderness. They can even be rotten and ready to cave in or infested with lice, whatever you want.

This can be a safe camp where the party meets other explorers, or finds a lost party. It can be signs of a camp where something was left behind. Something or somebody was once here, maybe a whole lot of somethings?

For the most part, we ignore the normal animals of the area, thinking of them as none issues. This entry brings these ignored nuisances to life, from mice eating the food, to a raccoon taking off with the warriors lucky dagger. This stuff isn’t nice, we can have something chew a hole in a backpack, a snake finding a nice warm nest in a PCs boot, bugs infesting everything, the point isn’t to harm the player characters, but annoy the crap out of them. Maybe a bird won’t shut up when the characters are trying to sleep, keeping them up all night so they are exhausted in the morning and suffer movement restrictions the next day? As long as it doesn’t take more than 1 hp it’s all fair game.

EDIBLE (10% Pois.)
It is assumed that the spell casters are picking up spell components, this can be quickly established, or it can be edible plants that save the party from having to eat dry rations . . . again. I’m sure that those wild mushrooms are safe! You can use the Poison percentage or ignore it. It can also be annoying like nettle or poison oak. We don’t want our Players feeling too awesome out there!

This probably requires a Savingthrow, failure could either mean an injury or just a minor injury. This works best as an annoyance as well, maybe a simple cut gets infected, a sprained ankle, or the warrior not paying attention cuts himself while sharpening his sword. The sufferer is vulnerable, and has penalties. The best course of action is to return to the safety of base, unless a healer is present to do something about it.

In its purest form, this simply means that the it forces a decision, the current way is either totally blocked, or is obviously very dangerous. Maybe it is a very long, and very dubious bridge of questionable integrity? Maybe it automatically costs the party 1d4 days just to traverse this one hex? Quicksand, thin ice, something obvious which can be avoided if the party go back or change directions; it’s all up to you. While the hazard can cause death or injury, it can also cost time as well.

When driving across country we always see things that stand out, but this can really work in the players favor, especially if they are lost or hopelessly lost, this can instantly change that status, or at least reveal to them that they are actually walking in circles. Players may update this on their map and travel directly their without encounters if you want to be really nice. This should typically be something that works in their favor. Perhaps even allowing them to double their movement rate for that day is enough?

This isn’t necessarily a trap in the literal sense, it could be! But I usually use it as a hazard that is bumbled into and treat it exactly like I do a trap in a dungeon setting, however this one is natural. Maybe it results in a minor injury, maybe death? Something like quicksand can be marked on the map and used against an enemy if the players think about doing that, so update the map.

Again, interpret this how you will. If your party is in trouble, maybe a Ranger lives here? Somebody or something lives here, it can be good or bad. It may not even be an actual cabin, just a glen. It is up to the party if they want to make an ally or an enemy.

Just like we did with wild. Sign, this definitely implies something off our your list that is dead. If you have an unusual monster that is only hit by specific things, you can use this to give them a clue as to what it is. I also like to refer my wilderness chart back to my civilized chart and vice versa, this could be interpreted as a lost patrol or missing explorer. The body may be looted already, or it can have treasure. Maybe the person isn’t quite dead yet and can be saved? Or the monsters methods of killing can be exposed. This can be really really good Intel for the party.

Just like a landmark, only better. Describe a scene of beauty and awe that is native to the terrain. This is something that will stay with the character for the rest of his days, maybe it is even divine in nature? Maybe it is something that will always be there and you can put on your map? A fairy spring where all wounds are healed? A mysterious Dwarf who sings strange songs and can permanently enchant a blade? Maybe it is just something that doesn’t involve any mechanics at all, but just stands out as special? Whatever it is, present it with a sense of mystery and wonder. This should always be positive.

Not always a mine, just a place of work within the wilderness. It could be monstrous industry, demihuman, or even human, who knows? Maybe it is a lost and abandoned mine? Maybe it is a lumber camp that was abandoned because of monsters? This once was civilized but taken back . . . or not. It can be a place for the players to trade, get information, or get themselves killed in. It could just be a trail which allows the party to move faster for a little while, it simulates finding some kind of habitat in the wilderness. It could also be something that is used by the enemy and if the players are able to take it away and shut it down then the enemy will be that much weaker for it.

I like leaving remnants of distant and more powerful days being left behind. Be it elven, dwarvish, or some even older creature that is no more. This can be mystical in nature or it can be mundane. Perhaps it gives the players a view for miles, allowing them to fill out all of the hexs surrounding the area? Or maybe it has some spell effect going on? Maybe it turns spells wild, or magically dead? Something is here, something old and of a lost technology. Maybe it is occupied by monsters, maybe it isn’t? Maybe the great sword of yore was placed here years ago, but it is gone because the main badguy found it and that is the secret to his power? It’s your world, you tell me.

I use these two slots for very specific things. Perhaps there are rumors about a lost castle, but you don’t know where it is either, the only way to find it is to roll it up. This can be a map that you recycled from a published adventure, or one of your own that you rekey. It can be something weird, like an ancient ship found in a forest and the players will never know how in the world it got there. These are definite X-Factors, that are very lucky finds. I always have something with Treasure in these spots, but you don’t have to do that if you don’t want to. I always fill these spots in prior to play, and look forward to rolling them, but I rarely do.

You can scrap this whole thing and make it your own, but I have found that the less precise you get, the more you actually get out of it. Nothing is stopping you from turning a combat encounter into a none combat encounter. While this list was designed with Hex exploration in mind, it can be altered to do whatever you want it to. It should break up combat, and maybe even utilize some of those fancy skills or noneweapon proficiencies that the PCs paid slots for?

You can even use this during prep, identifying some of those hexs in advance. Do whatever you want with it, it’s yours and it is system neutral.


Tony Sandoval said...

Being a "play for the experience" type, I always litter my games with non-combat interactions and encounters. Sometimes I like to sneak things in that might be useful if they are thinking outside the box. Other things are just surreal and spontaneous things that are just there to build that "do you remember when..." experience of the game. Things that will be remembered at times long after the results are forgotten.

Ripper X said...

I am with you, brother. Back in my early DMing days of running modules, it took a long time to figure out a way to link them. I wasn't comfortable creating some huge adventure, but I could create a couple of little ones that they could run into along the way to simulate travel. Those little adventures turned out to be more fun and more important than the next module.

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