2010-02-01 Random Encounters in a Mid Level Sandbox

In my Alder King game most players have reached level 7; most of them have at least one follower (Entourage Approach). I’ve noticed how I’ve started increasing the difficulties of random wilderness encounters. The party has been traveling through the same nine hexes for most of the campaign. Thus, this change in difficulty needs some explaining. I want to avoid the Oblivion effect where the surroundings level up as the main character does.

Until now I’ve used the following rule: One hex per day, with a 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter; during the night there is another 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter. This is a D&D 3.5 game, so I also ask for a Survival check DC 20 or there’ll be a third 1 in 6 chance of a random encounter.

Recently the survival skills have grown to such levels that I no longer require the check. That already reduces the chances to two rolls of a d6. And given how the power level has changed with the death priest having installed himself in the chest of a three-armed giant skeleton and related stuff, I’ll reduce the change to 1 in 12 during the day and 1 in 12 during the night. That’s because all the small enemies will just run like hell when the party/war-band starts approaching.

At the moment the story is approaching a big battle (→ 2009-12-27 Mass Combat) so larger groups of enemies moving about make sense. I’m happy I announced at the beginning of the campaign that characters will be retired at the end of level 10. If they manage gain control over a settlement, then that’s what they’ll be for the rest of their days, where as the others will remain vagabonds and wanderers. Occasionally these high-level characters can still meet and go on an adventure, but the focus will be on the new guys from their entourage.

Thus, I’ll reduce the number of encounters to make the more difficult encounters more plausible, and I’ll reduce those encounters when the big battle is over.

And if they go on adventure later, there will be no more combat-oriented random encounters with a pair of lizardmen. Those will be social encounters.



I quite like your idea that the random encounters change because the PCs get a reputation for being too powerful to defeat, and thus only bigger and badder monsters are willing to take a chance. You can even add to this effect by having occasional random encounters that consist of weak opponents that used to trouble the PCs (orcs, lizardmen, etc.) coming to offer gifts or trying to swear fealty to the PCs . . .

Jhaeman 2010-02-01 22:54 UTC

Hehe, I thought about orcs and lizardmen attempting to talk to the PCs, just as the PCs would have tried to talk to the blue dragon they met back when they were 5th level, but offering gifts and swearing fealty? Priceless, haha. I must try that!

AlexSchroeder 2010-02-01 23:08 UTC

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