I’m thinking about including a mess of tables like this in the Overland & Underworld book, to both illustrate the…

I’m thinking about including a mess of tables like this in the Overland & Underworld book, to both illustrate the…

I’m thinking about including a mess of tables like this in the Overland & Underworld book, to both illustrate the way random Discoveries and Dangers can be interpreted and to give you some quick-roll options if rolling a bunch of d12s seems like too much.

There would be a two-page Discovery/Danger spread for each common terrain type (woodland, mountains, etc.) and different type of dungeon (temple, stronghold, tomb, etc.), and all of the monsters (noted in smallcaps) would be detailed in the bestiary part of the Beasts & Booty book.

I guess what I’m wondering is: would people find this kind of thing helpful/useable? Or does it seem like a waste of space?


29 thoughts on “I’m thinking about including a mess of tables like this in the Overland & Underworld book, to both illustrate the…”

  1. I’d find it useful. I don’t use the d12 tables that often because from an infomation design perspective, there’s too much choice. (To that end you could get away with only a third of the entries you’ve got in this table, IMO.)

  2. I would suggest you might add breaks every once in a while (maybe every 9 or 10 entries), with a cue to “start here if…” and then a possible sub-environment or a situation, with some (but not all) of the following results relating to that cue. The GM could ignore these cues when counting down, or skip to a specific one instead of counting from the beginning.

    I’m presuming you can really start anywhere on that list, and the counting down is just an easy way to skip those that have already occurred, yeah? Cues like that would give you an easy excuse to break up the repetition of starting at the beginning again when (or if) you use the same list again in a second game. Plus, it allows you (Jason, the writer) to make a few encounters that might relate to something more specific than just a “woodland encounter” and actually have the GMs who use these tables feel that connection some of the time (but not all, making sure it’s still random).

  3. Basic concept: yeah, love it, this is great.

    The roll d6 and cross off as you use it… that’s really interesting. I just took a few minutes to roll a bunch of d6s and see what came up, and it led to a pretty vivid storyline of adventurers bumbling around in the woods.

    With that said, the tight range on the d6 means that, if you’re using this single table extensively, that there will be an alchemist researching flor, and there will be a hunter pursued by boar-men. It makes me feel like this is less a random set of discoveries for Woodlands and more likely its a random set of discoveries for The Ferrowood.

    One thing that I really like, and I think you maybe could do more of, are the discoveries that shift you out of the Woodland and into a different environment. The two specific examples I spotted early where the small town build around the old-growth tree and the city thriving on the timber trade. Those suggest leaving this table and heading off to a different one.

    I feel like it could use more of that, more solidly jumping to a different environment and table. Like, “The ground drops before you into an expansive MARSHLAND fed by three great rivers.”

  4. I would find these incredibly useful. i find rolling and consulting on the D12 tables during the game to be too distracting, so currently I just do the rolls as prep and have a list of discoveries and dangers in front of me while I run, checking them off as they are encountered. This kind of list is basically you doing the prep work for me 🙂

  5. Thanks for the feedback, everybody.

    Jeremy Strandberg, in my desire to avoid re-rolls and, I had not thought things through enough to realize that the stuff at the beginning of the table will be more likely to occur. Duh! Hm. Bigger dice don’t really solve the problem until I got up to like a d20, and then it takes to count down the list, which defeats the purpose of wanting a quick roll. But maybe a d12 would work better?

    These are all interpretations of random rolls on the PW tables made in order, so the terrain changes show up where I rolled terrain changes, but I take your point about switching environments. Usually regional terrain shifts are dictated by the map, but it could be cool if encountering a different terrain type within a given region could point to different tables.

  6. Although you’re not absolutely guaranteed to get a specific entry if it’s near the top of the list, because there’s always 6 different options, Jeremy’s point that early ones are likelier if you keep rolling is definitely something to keep in mind.

    You can overcome that by counting down from the last entry marked, though, instead of starting again at the beginning. This may be hard to keep track of if/when you loop back to the beginning of the list again, at which point, maybe you’d have to cross all the marked entries off so you know to ignore them.

  7. Johnstone Metzger, that is a super-cool idea. My basic approach is to go in wide-open and let the sub-environments/situations emerge from the rolls themselves, but that could be a good way to break up the information and solve the “early stuff always occurs” problem. I do want to keep things super-simple for the Judge, though, and wonder if introducing the idea that you need to check the subcategories — or even decide between straight rolling and checking the subcategories — might break the flow too much.

  8. No, that’s not what I mean. They are optional cues, a convenience. If you see a cue that fits, go there, otherwise start at the beginning. Ixnay on “you have to check the subcategories.” Fuck that noise.

    I mean like:

    “In fall or winter, you might start here…”

    “When night falls, you might start again here…”

    “If you have arrived here from the road, you might begin here…”


  9. However you describe it, they’re signals the Judge must still choose to use or skip, and all I’m saying is that it could break the flow (visually and in practice) if “one quick roll” is the goal.

  10. The other thing to keep in mind with a count-down list, whichever way you count it down, is that every entry after the first 6 (if you roll a d6) cannot happen first. It has to happen after another encounter from the table. You can use this to your advantage though, by baking a bit of story (or possible story) into the lists. Especially if you combine them with the cues I mentioned earlier.

    To demonstrate what I mean, imagine something like this in the middle of a larger woodlands list:

    (In fall or winter, you might start here…)

    A bear trap beneath a pile of leaves.

    A deciduous tree, strangely green and full of life.

    Two hunters carrying a deer.

    A pond, partially frozen over.

    You are scolded by crows.

    You see a wild stag with fear in its eyes.

    Two hunters, seemingly slain by wolves.

    Spoor you cannot identify that contains human teeth.

    A pack of werewolves.

    The first six could happen anytime in the woods, not just in fall or winter. A frozen pond in summer might mean a wizard or a white dragon nearby, and trees can still be strangely green and full of life even in summer.

    The last three can only happen after one of the first six has happened. Yes, they might not ever tell a story. You might find a pond and then werewolves. This is fine, and the kind of result you would get from the list you posted anyway. But you could find the hunter alive first, and then dead later. You could find the werewolf spoor before the werewolves. It becomes possible.

  11. Ha, I keep cross-posting with you, Jason. You’re already asking people to mark off entries in the list and then skip them. Every event you mark off after it happens will “break the flow,” possibly more than space between the entries will.

  12. Johnstone Metzger Could you link this with Grim Portents? “For each Grim Portent that has already happened, add 2 to your roll.” Then you put more doomy results near the bottom. (This could still mix with Jeremy Strandberg’s idea? You could have a result waaay down the list like “a band of refugees attempting to flee to the MARSHLANDS”.)

  13. Joe Banner Probably, yeah. It adds handling time, of course, and probably works better with events than with finding new locations I would think? It feels like it would be a custom occurrence table for a danger.

    You wouldn’t want to start counting from the last marked entry if you did that, though.

  14. Neat. I think, for a generally-themed, non-ordered list like this, this procedure is plenty simple and effective:

    Pick a random entry, then roll 1d6, counting down from it, and mark it off. Subsequently, roll 1d6 and count down from the most recently marked entry. Go to the top when you hit the bottom.

    Having sheets like these as a supplementary download is probably best, since you’re going to be marking it. I think I’d prefer that to having it taking up space in the book itself. But a handful of examples of interpretation are welcome there.

  15. David Perry, that seems straightforward, except I even balk at asking someone to “choose a random entry” because I personally don’t want to make decisions in that point of the process. I want the generation step to be entirely out of my control, and then make decisions once the results are in hand.

    The problem with counting down from the most recently marked entry is, as Johnstone mentioned above, keeping track of what the most recently marked entry was.

    Good point about making these a supplementary download. I will consider it as an option, depending on how the final content shakes out.

  16. I may be overthinking the die roll mechanism. I could just change it to a standard table format, with instructions that read “roll 1d100, mark off the result, and interpret the entry in terms of the fiction. If the result is already marked off, use the next result on the list that is not marked off.”

  17. I’d say “useful”. I see other people already suggested a lot of things. I like the idea of events listed from “humble /standard” to “epic”. So you roll the d6, and start finding “basic” things, but while the campaign goes on, you can start to find “bigger” things.

    So, not a simply random list.

  18. Jason Lutes Depending on how many entries you want, could you use D66 tables (that is, roll 1d6 to choose one of six groups of entries, then another 1d6 to choose the individual entry within the group of 6)? I guess if you are rolling during prep, the die type doesn’t matter, but for some reason, I tend to want to just roll D6’s during the game since we’re usually rolling 2d6 anyway.

  19. John Marron, thanks for the suggestion. Yeah, I’m toying with d66 as well. It might come down to how many entries fit comfortably in the allotted space.

  20. Andrea Parducci, yeah, that’s a nice thing about a mark-and-skip table, you can build in a progression or escalation. That approach would be great in certain games, but it doesn’t really jibe with the Freebooters philosophy, which is that the cruel universe (as manifested by random encounters) doesn’t care about the party’s relative power level. You could just as well run into a frost giant or a kobold at level 1; whether you choose to fight or run for your life is an intentional part of the survival-horror ethos of the game.

  21. I love this. Please include some description/advice of how we might create our own and how valuable such would be in setting the mood/flavor of our own worlds. I remember reading something on someone’s blog that pointed out how important custom wilderness encounter tables were for conveying things about the world.

    Also, maybe some kind of addition to the “threads” move to add 2-3 entries to an ever-growing table like this?

  22. Errin Larsen, great idea. I am planning for a two-page intro to the one-roll tables section that explains how to use them, how I wrote them, and suggestions for tailoring them to suit specific needs.

  23. To be a dissenter I say: moar d12 tables please! Really, that polyhedral has been under appreciated since my 2e fighter fought a giant with his long sword.

    A big part of my love for Perilous Wilds are the d12 tables. For me, it set the work apart from other wilderness system/fluff books that give me lists and d100 tables full of details. Sure, the list you’re proposing here can be very evocative and there’s less lift for me as a GM. But that all levels out if this (vs d12 tables) needs to be adjusted to work within an existing scenario or campaign.

    The d66 suggestion above is okay… but again MOAR d12! I wanna roll those dice. What about breaking this wall of text into something akin to the Spell Name tables in FotF?

    Regardless… loving your output and continued attention Jason Lutes.

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