The NHS

Part 6: Adventure Builder

Campaign challenges can be used to quickly style a setting, to shape gameplay and to outline a game-world. However, much of the actual play focuses on what’s directly in front of the players as they explore.

As a result, it helps to have access to quick step-by-steps for constructing and detailing the adventures that build campaigns. This saves time and can help the GM to match the more predictable encounters and situations within RPG gameplay to the challenges and expectations preferred by the GM and players.

The following adventure builder doesn’t cover every possible option. Instead it is intended, (like the campaign challenges outlined above), to make it quick and easy to bring together, remix and put an original spin on the core components of rules-light RPG gameplay.

 

Designing Adventures

The typical starting place for playing the Original Game is an underground dungeon with levels that get harder and harder as players descend. The classic dungeon adventure makes for a good start, because it rapidly introduces many of the key features of RPG gameplay, e.g. encounters, monsters and advancement. It also presents some obvious opportunities for players to start making their own choices. For example, a party of adventurers can either take it easy exploring the upper levels of a dungeon or go deeper in search of higher rewards - that carry greater risks.

 

Designing an Adventure

Putting together a basic adventure is quite straightforward. Firstly, consider what is going to happening in terms of the types of locations, NPCs and monsters adventurers will meet. These may be drawn from a campaign world and/ or campaign challenges. Alternatively, they can amount to no more than a general idea of the type of adventure you’re looking to build.

 

Missions

 

Choosing Missions

With a rough idea of the allies and opponents adventurers will encounter during the adventure GMs can move on to considering the types of actions and missions, (possibly linked into quests), that players want their adventurers to play through.

 

Starter Missions

The missions outlined here make a good starting point for straightforward adventures, which can be linked directly to awarding experience points. GMs may wish to offer more missions and linked experience awards of their own. These should, ideally, be one-off awards for challenges that a PC has not carried out before.

 

Starter Missions Table

D12

Mission

Details

1

Bounty hunting

 

2

Capture a fort or dungeon stronghold

 

3

Capture an enemy leader

 

4

Complete negotiations

 

5

Escort a convoy through dangerous territory

 

6

Establish a fortified base

 

7

Explore and secure an area of wilderness

 

8

Make a cross-country escape

 

9

Recover a specific enchanted item

 

10

Rescue prisoner/ s from a dungeon

 

11

Scout and spy on enemy positions

 

12

Transport fragile goods

 

 

Plots

Plots

Plots provide the circumstances, motivations and backdrops for missions, quests and campaign challenges. There is no need to have a particular plot set in place, as ongoing events may allow plots to develop during play. However, they can help to drive players’ involvement in missions, quests and campaign challenges.

The options set out below can form the basis of many plots, which are easy to slot into adventures and larger, campaign-wide challenges.

 

Plots Table

2D12

Plot

Details

2

Adventure Holidays

 

3

Ancient Prophecies

 

4

Bitter Rivalries

 

5

Blackmail Scenarios

 

6

Burning Ambition

 

7

Convoy Duty

 

8

Crimes of Passion

 

9

Defending the Innocent

 

10

Diplomatic Missions

 

11

Downfall of a Dynasty

 

12

Forgery and Counterfeiting

 

13

Involuntary Crime

 

14

Jailbreaks

 

15

Kidnappings

 

16

Last Stands

 

17

Messiah

 

18

Psychological Manipulations

 

19

Religious Schisms

 

20

Renaissances

 

21

Rescues

 

22

Reverse Dungeon

 

23

Revolts and Revolutions

 

24

Tournaments

 

 

Sub-Plots

Sub-plots may present unnecessary complications for new players and their characters. However, as players become more experienced sub-plots can be used to vary play or as counterpoints to major plot lines. A sub-plot is generally thought of as a fixed subordinate to a major plot. However, the sub-plots shown below could as easily serve as full-blown plots and there is no reason why a sub-plot cannot swap places with a major plotline.

 

Sub-Plots Table

2D12

Sub-Plot

Details

2

Accident

 

3

Blight

 

4

Carnival

 

5

Extreme Weather

 

6

Fair

 

7

Festival

 

8

Forgeries

 

9

Hauntings

 

10

Holiday

 

11

Industrial Accident

 

12

Jailbreak

 

13

Marketplace

 

14

Monster Market

 

15

Pickpocket

 

16

Pit Fight

 

17

Public Execution

 

18

Riot

 

19

Robbery

 

20

Sporting Event

 

21

Street Artist

 

22

Theatre Company

 

23

Traitor

 

24

Triumph

 

 

Meetings

How do adventurers get together in the first place? Here are a few of the many options:

 

Meetings Table

D12

Meet Over

Details

1

Common Enemy

 

2

Conscripted/ Press-Ganged

 

3

Debt

 

4

Hand-Picked by Employer

 

5

Matching Invitations

 

6

Relatives

 

7

Righteous Oath

 

8

Rivalry

 

9

Shared Upbringing

 

10

Shared Work Background

 

11

Survivors

 

12

Thrown Together

 

 

Triggers

How do characters get drawn into events? Adventurers’ involvement in plots, missions, quests and campaign challenges can be triggered in many ways. These starting points for getting adventurers caught-up in events may arise through the players’ ongoing activities and affiliations or completely out-of-the blue.

 

Triggers Table

2D12

Trigger

Details

2

Accident or Circumstance

 

3

Betting

 

4

Blackmail

 

5

Confrontation

 

6

Desire

 

7

Duty

 

8

Eavesdropping

 

9

Envy

 

10

Fame and Fortune

 

11

Friends or Family

 

12

Hiring and Firing

 

13

Idleness

 

14

Matter of Honor

 

15

Moral Dilemma

 

16

Promise of Rich Pickings

 

17

Revenge

 

18

Righteous Anger

 

19

Rumors

 

20

Sense of Adventure

 

21

Shared Threats

 

22

Spirit of Competition

 

23

Test or Trial

 

24

Treasure Map

 

 

Locations

 

Mapping Out an Adventure

So far, planning an adventure has included:

  1. Considering possible locations, NPCs and monsters.
  2. Evaluating and selecting missions/ quests.
  3. Selecting a suitable plot and any sub-plots.
  4. Working-out how the party meets-up and how they might get drawn into an adventure.

The next step is usually to select a specific location and to prepare a rough map with a legend and/ or a few details describing each area on the map. This involves:

  1. Selecting a suitable adventure location for a dungeon adventure.
  2. Identifying key NPCs and monsters that fit your choice of campaign challenges, missions and locations.
  3. Laying-out the rooms and caverns where the characters and monsters live.
  4. Adding relevant furnishings to the rooms and caverns.
  5. Adding a range of tricks and traps which will vary play.
  6. Placing extra details aka dungeon accessories.

 

Adventure Locations

There are many possible sites for dungeon adventures of one kind or another. The classic dungeon isn’t too concerned with a place in wider events or with thinking in terms of dungeons as societies or ecologies.

GMs may choose to begin to add greater variety, different hazards and a place in the world through changing the types of dungeons adventurers will explore.

 

Locations Table

D100

Location

Condition and/ or Contents

1

Armory

 

2

Castle

 

3

Catacombs

 

4

Citadel

 

5

Crypt or Tomb

 

6

Dungeon

 

7

Encampment

 

8

Factory or Workshop

 

9

Grotto

 

10

Haunted House

 

11

Hill Fort

 

12

Laboratory

 

13

Labyrinth

 

14

Military Headquarters

 

15

Mine

 

16

Monastery

 

17

Outpost

 

18

Palace

 

19

Pavilion

 

20

Pyramid

 

21

Ship or Aircraft

 

22

Shrine

 

23

Stronghold

 

24

Tower

 

25

Town

 

 

Local Conditions

Locations, chambers and various items may default to a reasonable state of repair or reflect local conditions. The range of conditions available will depend on the circumstances, so the following list is better suited to selecting options than rolling. Where rolls are used the condition of larger structures such as a city or a castle will tend to cascade down on to lesser structures, e.g. a rundown city is likely to have few gleaming new structures within the city walls or boundaries.

Many structures will present more than one condition at a time and GMs can select combinations that might be expected to go together and/ or highlight unusual options.

 

Conditions Table

D100

Condition

Details

1

Alien

 

2

Brickwork

 

3

Buried

 

4

Busy

 

5

Buttressed

 

6

Camouflaged

 

7

Cobbled

 

8

Collapsing

 

9

Corroded

 

10

Decorative

 

11

Demolished

 

12

Derelict

 

13

Domed

 

14

Dusty

 

15

Earthwork

 

16

Enchanted

 

17

Exclusive

 

18

Exotic

 

19

Expensive

 

20

Frosted

 

21

Gilded

 

22

Glass

 

23

Guarded

 

24

Haunted

 

25

Inexpensive

 

26

Ironwork

 

27

Irradiated

 

28

Laidback

 

29

Luxurious

 

30

Mosaic

 

31

Neglected

 

32

New

 

33

Opulent

 

34

Organic

 

35

Painted

 

36

Petrified

 

37

Plasterwork

 

38

Plated

 

39

Prosperous

 

40

Quiet

 

41

Renovated

 

42

Roofed

 

43

Royal Warrant

 

44

Ruined

 

45

Rundown

 

46

Stonework

 

47

Thatched

 

48

Tiled

 

49

Waterlogged

 

50

Weathered

 

 

Rooms, Caverns, Furnishings and Accessories

 

Combining a room or cavern with a selection of furnishings and accessories is a very quick way to sketch out a location. There may be other grander or more magical features and furnishings in a room or cavern, but these will usually be accompanied by some standard items. A selection can be chosen from below.

The items shown are those that might offer a quick description to accompany whatever the GM choses to place within an encounter. Clearly, contents such as lamps, towels and knives may occur in many locations, so particular items of this type are only included where they might well serve as a feature.

Using the table that follows gives a GM a head start with setting up many encounters, but the examples given are based on human societies where design is a mix of utility, prestige and invention. Other societies are likely to have different takes on those priorities and to have alternatives of their own. As a result, GMs can do a lot to make their own worlds more fully-realized by looking at a culture’s likely priorities and adapting locations, chambers and encounters to reflect the circumstances, e.g. a tribe of tree-dwellers might make rope bridges or treetop walkways using hollowed bone - for the advantages of weight, strength and durability.

 

Catering for different genres is quite straightforward, as these are some of the more predictable variants, e.g. a fantasy tavern and a Wild West saloon are likely to serve similar functions. Equally, the medieval, bioluminescent or magical light sources in a dungeon setting are easily revised for Cyberpunk or SciFi gameplay with modern, designer lighting systems and/ or more futuristic options.

Further considerations when quickly sketching chambers include varying players’ and characters’ opportunities to interact with the contents of each chamber; while zooming the action in and out of focus – as mentioned in the section on mapping.

For example, an encounter in a kitchen might switch from, ‘it’s the kitchen and the chef is advancing with a meat cleaver at the ready,’ to ,’you smell fried food as you enter and see a couple of ovens with hotplates set near the door. At the other end of the room a young chef is standing at a sink scrubbing filthy pans. As you go in she steps away from the sink and eyes a half-filled knife rack set on the workbench behind her. The rest of the knives are stuck dead center in a poster glued to the back of the door you’ve just used to enter. ’

The second version of the encounter invites players to take the chef seriously, to ask what’s on the poster and to consider using the knives pinned to the door. It would be hard work to build that into a description without keyword lists to help – and easy to consider writing elaborate descriptions that are more forced narratives than playmakers.

 

Rooms and Caverns Table

D100

Rooms

Typical Contents

1

Apartment

Lockers, pill boxes, hourglasses, calendars, lamps, candles, coat racks, chests and trunks, clocks, clothing, baskets, jugs, chairs, tables, cabinets, bookshelves, sofas, art, trophies and medals, rugs and carpets, vases, collections, snacks and luxury foods, goblets, pets and familiars, books and games

2

Aquarium

Tanks, pipes, filters, rare and exotic species, nets and netting, feed and chemical treatments, heating and fuel

3

Arcade

Corridor, archways, vendors or exhibits, stalls, decorative features, fountains and pools, performance and display

4

Arena

Triumphal arches, podium, balcony or veranda, lectern, heraldry, flags and banners, pits and traps, braziers, branding irons, chains and manacles, sand and blood, bandages, trophies and body parts

5

Armory

Forge, furnace, fuel, weapon racks, armor and shields, shelving, lockers, secure doors, communications and briefing rooms, drill grounds and weapon ranges, hammers and tongs, anvils and matting

6

Assembly Room

Benches, tables, goblets, jugs, trays and platters, weapons and armor, heraldic banners and wineskins

7

Aviary

Caged or glass enclosures, feed, paths, trees and exotic plants, walkways, benches, statues, fountains and gloves or gauntlets

8

Barracks

Beds, linen, blankets, clothing, personal possessions, lockers, chests, trunks and bunks

9

Bathroom

Toilet, basins, bath, shower, soaps, perfumes, make-up, hairbrushes and combs, oils and lotions, personal jewelry, mirrors and leaves or paper

10

Chapel or Chantry

Altars, archways, columns, pillars, domes, frescoes, statues, curtains, gilding, enamel inlays, stained glass, carvings, icons, paintings, benches, pews, screens, vestries, confessionals, lamps, lanterns, censers, incense, tapestries, offerings, reliquaries, fonts, pedestals, pulpits, podiums, idols, oils, perfumes, cushions, thrones, books, scrolls, and holy or unholy symbols

11

Court Room

Judges’ bench, screens, iron bars and cages, heraldry, dock, witness stand, gavel, robes and hats or wigs

12

Courtyard or Foyer

Tiling, walkways, arches, clocks or sundials, bystanders and statues, stocks and pillories, gibbets, executioners’ blocks and reliefs or tapestries

13

Crypt, Vault, Tomb or Ossuary

Coffins, urns, caskets, skull racks, body parts, skeletons, dust, cobwebs, grime, personal possessions, sacrificial victims, petrified food and drink, mummified remains, altars, treasures and slain adventurers

14

Dining Room

Tables, comfortable chairs, napkins, goblets, plates, serving dishes, food and drink, candelabra and chandeliers, decanters and jugs, tablecloths, portraits, statues and trophies

15

Dressing Room or Wardrobe

Mirrors, clothes, footwear, screens and curtains, cupboards and closets, chests of drawers, coat and clothes racks, shoe racks, hats and costume accessories, sewing equipment, perfumes and creams

16

Dungeon or Cell

Straw and pallets, stool, manacle, torture instruments, writing or recording materials, skeletons and body parts, chains and manacles, prayer book and beads, bloodstains and rope

17

Forge

Fuel, ore, forge, furnace, anvils, hammers and tongs, fonts or troughs

18

Gallery

Art, pedestals, framed pictures, niches and alcoves, lighting effects, balconies, mezzanines, catwalks, columns and screens.

19

Games Room

Games, dice, miniatures and models, masks, costumes, cases, boxes, baskets, chests, screens, curtains, art, artists’ materials, benches, bookshelves, chair, cupboard, cushions, tables, desks, lamp, books, carpets and rugs

20

Garden

Plants, fungi, insects, earth, gardening tools, fertilizer, flowers, walkways, bandstands, ladders, saws, statues, podiums, lakes, islands, fountains and waterfalls

21

Great Hall

Hearth, hounds, goblets, flags and banners, trophies, braziers, smoke, food and drink, spits and tongs, tapestries, statues, paneling, frescoes, plates and cutlery, pans and jars, and singing

22

Guard Post or Guardhouse

Brazier, weapons, chairs or stools, cards, dice, chains, lanterns, beer and spirits.

23

Gym

Benches, ropes, weights, boxing rings, mats, apparatus, bars, balls, towels, footwear, strips and cubicles or lockers

24

Hall or Foyer

Benches, hearth, chairs, tables, flags, banners, heraldic carvings and armorials, trophies, musical instruments and rolls of honor

25

Harem

Beds, couches, alcoves, garments and footwear, jewelry, pools, fountains, curtains and screens, pedestals, jewelry boxes, musical instruments, art, furs and skins, candles, chandeliers, books, lanterns, pets, familiars, perfumes, carpets, covers, rugs and throws.

26

Kitchen or Galley

Ovens, grills, spits, stoves, cookers, tables, towels, pots, pans, cutlery, utensils, chillers, knives, plates and cutlery, serving dishes, urns, vases, jugs, brushes and brooms, mops, jars, food and drink, herbs and spices, kitchen gloves, dressers and cabinets

27

Laboratory

Workbenches, cauldrons, beakers, crucibles, flasks, pliers, wire, scientific apparatus, vials, spills, dishes, decanters, fountains, scales and weights, lenses or microscopes, astrolabes, lanterns, fuel and tinderboxes

28

Library

Shelving, chairs, desks, tables, books, manuscripts, lanterns, magazines, catalogues, directories, atlases, lenses, bookmarks and paperweights

29

Map Room

Large table and chairs, wall charts, knives, quills, ink pots, parchment, maps, map case and seals

30

Maze

String or cord, skeletons, ritual walkways, weapons, hazards and traps

31

Museum or Trophy Room

Displays, trophies, medals, cups, portraits, weaponry, armor, stuffed and mounted wildlife, collections, treasures, traps, secure locks and doors, secure containers or alarms

32

Observatory

Magnetic, astronomical, zodiacal, alchemical/ chemical or meteorological apparatus, charts, records and archives, scrolls, writing materials, flasks, fonts, psychoducts, astrolabes and skydisks, statues, magnets, mercury, vials and decanters, candles, lamps and lanterns, tinder boxes, torches, dishes, trays, scales and balances, instruments, maps and star-charts

33

Office

Seals, papers, writing materials, records and archives, desks, tables, chairs, bins, trays and screens

34

Outhouse or Barn

Hay, straw, buckets, hammers, saws, axes and hand-axes, timbers, feed, straw, hay, grain bins, buckets and spades, pickaxes or drills

35

Pool

Swimming pool, sauna, spa, waterslides, towels, filters, diving boards, steam chambers and cubicles

36

Refectory or Mess Hall

Tables, benches, goblets, plates, serving dishes, food and drink, lanterns, braziers, decanters and jugs, tablecloths, portraits, statues and trophies

37

Reservoir or Cistern

Water, chemical treatments, salts, sand, overflow, mud, leaks and spills, slurry, piping and waste

38

Safe Room

Secure doors, portcullis, weapons, traps, decoys, body doubles, escape pods, solid structure, fireproofed and alarmed

39

Scullery

Pots, pans, basins, rags, towels, sinks and basins

40

Shrine

Altars, columns, pillars, frescoes, statues, curtains, gilding, enamel inlays, stained glass, carvings, icons, portraits, benches, screens, vestries, lamps, lanterns, censers, incense, offerings, reliquaries, fonts, pedestals, pulpits, podiums, idols, oils, perfumes, thrones, books, scrolls, and holy or unholy symbols

41

Stables or Bestiary

Cages, enclosures, stalls, hay, straw, harnesses, bridles, feed, weaponry, traces, combs and brushes, footwear, manure and clothes

42

Star Chamber

Tables, chairs, charts, maps, stained glass, ornaments, expensive art, statuettes and figurines, counters and tokens, heraldic emblems and ritual or cult items

43

Storeroom or Warehouse

Crates, boxes, cartons, crowbars, buckets and water, fire alarms, goods and commodities, stores and caches, archives  and apparatus or equipment

44

Tannery

Pools, chemicals, leather, human and animal waste, lime or woodash, rawhide, hide, skins, needles and cord, stretching frames, buckles, hammers and saws, planes and chisels, timber, glues, oils and resins, rivets and nails

45

Temple

Colossus, gargoyles, idols, holy or unholy symbols, offerings tables, censers and incense, smoke, braziers, gongs, drums, fire pits, relics and reliquaries, human remains, skull racks, fonts, pedestals, pulpits, podiums, oils, perfumes, cushions, thrones, books, scrolls and holy or unholy symbols

46

Throne Room

Throne, pedestal, pillars, columns, domes, scepter and crown, lanterns and chandeliers, tapestries, statues and statuettes, friezes and reliefs, gilding, heraldry and reliquaries

47

Treasury

Traps, secure doors, secure locks and bolts, decoys, chests, treasure, coinage, ingots, false treasure, false treasury

48

Well Room

Well, rope, buckets, ladder, trolley, basins and churns

49

Workshop

Workbenches, tools, apparatus, raw materials, fuel, safety equipment, lenses, overalls, dust and shavings, nails and screws, pile-drivers and mallets, drills and anvils, cauldrons or boilers, ovens, hotplates, rags, glues and resins, dust and oils

50

Zoo

Large enclosures, cages, wildlife, rare and exotic species, nets and netting, feed, stabling, pasture, stalls and exhibitions, displays and booths, fountains and waterfalls, pools and outdoor aquariums

 

Furnishings Table

D100

Furnishings

Details

1

Altar

 

2

Aquarium

 

3

Bas Relief

 

4

Basin

 

5

Bath

 

6

Bed

 

7

Bench

 

8

Cabinet

 

9

Canopy

 

10

Carpet

 

11

Casket

 

12

Chairs

 

13

Chest or Trunk

 

14

Closet

 

15

Couch

 

16

Columns

 

17

Cupboard

 

18

Curtain

 

19

Desk

 

20

Easel

 

21

Fountain

 

22

Lamp

 

23

Lantern

 

24

Idol

 

25

Manger

 

26

Meal, Fresh

 

27

Meal, Half-Eaten

 

28

Meal, Rotting

 

29

Mirror

 

30

Mosaic

 

31

Murder Hole

 

32

Painting

 

33

Pond

 

34

Rugs

 

35

Screen

 

37

Shelving

 

38

Shrine

 

39

Sink

 

40

Stained Glass

 

41

Statue or Statuette

 

42

Stocks

 

43

Table

 

44

Tapestry

 

45

Toilet

 

46

Toys

 

47

Tray

 

48

Wardrobe

 

49

Wine Rack

 

50

Workbench

 

 

Accessories Table

D100

Accessories

Details

1

Bandages, Bloody

 

2

Bones, Bleached

 

3

Bones, Fresh Tribal

 

4

Bones, Monster's

 

5

Clothing

 

6

Cobwebs

 

7

Corpse, Humanoid

 

8

Corpse, Monster

 

9

Coins

 

10

Dirty Dishes

 

11

Dust

 

12

Game

 

13

Grime

 

14

Firewood

 

15

Flints

 

16

Kindling

 

17

Firewood

 

18

Leftover Food

 

19

Mildew

 

20

Mirror

 

21

Mirror, Broken

 

22

Musical Instrument

 

23

Mushrooms

 

24

Parchment, Torn

 

25

Pet/ s

 

26

Rags

 

27

Rats

 

28

Robes

 

29

Rubble

 

30

Sawdust

 

31

Scorch Marks

 

32

Scum

 

33

Slain Monster, Fresh

 

34

Slain Monster, Rotting

 

35

Slime

 

36

Skeleton, Humanoid

 

37

Skeleton, Monster’s

 

38

Skeletons, Monsters’

 

39

Skull, Humanoid

 

40

Skull, Monster's

 

41

Tinderbox

 

42

Tools, Butchery

 

43

Tools, Carpentry

 

44

Tools, Jewelry

 

45

Tools, Metalwork

 

46

Tools, Weaponry

 

47

Uniform

 

48

Vase

 

49

Veil

 

50

Weaponry

 

 

Treasures Table

3D20

Treasure

Details

3

Animals, Pets and Familiars

 

4

Ankle Chain

 

5

Anklet

 

6

Armband

 

7

Armor

 

8

Bangle

 

9

Belt

 

10

Bracelet

 

11

Bracelets

 

12

Buckle

 

13

Carving

 

14

Chain

 

15

Chalice

 

16

Chatelaine

 

17

Choker

 

18

Circlet

 

19

Clasp

 

20

Coffer

 

21

Coins

 

22

Collar

 

23

Comb

 

24

Coronet

 

25

Decanter

 

26

Diadem

 

27

Earrings

 

28

Fabric

 

29

Figurine

 

30

Flowers and Foodstuffs

 

31

Furnishings, e.g. Throne

 

32

Gauntlets

 

33

Goblet

 

34

Manuscripts and Books

 

35

Mask

 

36

Medal

 

37

Medallion

 

38

Necklace

 

39

Orb

 

40

Painting

 

41

Pearls

 

42

Pectoral

 

43

Piercing

 

44

Pin

 

45

Pottery

 

46

Reliquary

 

47

Scepter

 

48

Sculpture

 

49

Seals

 

50

Stamps

 

51

Statuette

 

52

Tapestry

 

53

Tiara

 

54

Torc

 

56

Transport

 

57

Trophy or Award

 

58

Utensil

 

59

Weapon

 

60

Wristband

 

 

Tricks and Traps

 

Basic Tricks and Traps

As adventurers move on to deeper dungeons, underground cities, outdoor wildernesses and other options the novelty value of common monsters or simple chutes will wear off to be replaced by smarter opponents and greater challenges. Nevertheless, it’s worth keeping the following elements in the mix at all times, as a collapsing floor or a standard guardhouse can still prove entertaining when used infrequently.

Including tricks and traps in an adventure adds extra hazards, unexpected surprises and a touch of the magical to any adventure. As discussed earlier, non-lethal traps, (which delay adventurers, encourage players to find novel solutions or snatch something from adventurers’ grasp), usually offer more entertaining gameplay than complex puzzles or traps that deliver an instant kill. Where traps cause damage it is helpful to scale the damage to the level of the adventure; unless characters insist on entering areas where they are inviting extra risk. Where there are specific suggested outcomes these aim to indicate that most tricks and traps needn’t cause serious harm. For horror-based games and games which use realistic damage systems more serious outcomes might be expected than suggested by the D20-type values shown.

All of the basic tricks and traps listed are easily adapted to different circumstances and to result in slightly different effects. Most present some kind of hazard or obstacle that characters can avoid or escape through inventive solutions. These tricks and traps are also suited to being placed fairly logically, i.e. while choices can be made by rolling on the table, the most effective options are those selected to fit the circumstances. For example, the heart of an ancient tomb or a treasury might reasonably be expected to have some heavy-duty defenses; while a trap located near a mess hall where drunken soldiers stagger back and forth is less likely, because the trap would do the soldiers as much harm as any intruders.

Without placing tricks and traps where they are flagged by the level of security likely to be found in particular areas, there’s a risk that players will decide to inch their way round every corner and/ or tire of the use of basic tricks and traps.

 

Tricks and Traps Table

D100

Title

Effects

1

Aerial Runway

An aerial runway can place adventures in a line of fire, drop them into a slide or come to an end over a hazard. If the end of the runway or runways is out of sight players are more likely to be tempted

2

Altars

Altars are suited to delivering a range of magical effects. Some may heal or offer a blessing, while others may threaten to explode or crumble - releasing deadly occupants

3

Arrow Trap

Triggering such a trap causes a basic 2D6. Save for half damage

4

Brain Drain

Activating a device or accessing an area calls for a sacrifice in experience, skill and/ or ability

5

Breath Activated

The only way in is through a breath activated door –dragon or gorgon breath would present a few problems

6

Chasms

Crumbling bridges and rope bridges risk major damage or delay

7

Chutes

A chute usually leads adventurers into more dangerous areas, but might also serve as an escape route

8

Collapsing Ceiling

The area's occupants all take 4D6. Save for half damage

9

Corrosive Pool

This pool, large puddle or stream of muddy water stings flesh very slightly, but also slowly corrodes metals. A saving throw at -1/ round allows most adventurers some chance of realizing what’s happening. Rust shows on the surface of damaged metals and will start to color the water

10

Crimson Glow

This lightly fragranced cloud of mist is absorbed by contact and is known to deplete magic or psychic powers. Individuals will lose D4 spells of choice/ round spent in the mist; while enchanted or psychically charged items lose their powers while inside the mist and for five minutes after it clears

11

Dart Trap

Triggering the trap causes D4 x D4. Save for half damage

12

Decoy

A convincing straw man, scene or diorama can offer guards a good opportunity to stage an ambush

13

Deformation

The consequences of damage caused by characters and their opponents can set-up a wide range of traps, such as collapsing roofs, crumbling bridges and chemical or molten metal spills. These can be devised to tempt characters to trigger outcomes and become all the more effective when used as chain reactions

14

Drums

Drums can carry sound over a wide area if there’s nothing in the way, so they make for dangerous alarms

15

Falling Blade

Triggering the trap causes 4D6. Save for half damage

16

Falling Cage Trap

Anyone caught by a falling cage trap is confined by the cage until someone unlocks the cage or the cage takes 40 damage

17

Fountains

The waters in fountains often have a magical effect. This effect may be curative, magical, energizing or otherwise helpful. There is something to be said for giving PCs one place of sanctuary and safety – not to make life easy, but to contrast with the uncertain world they will soon return to

18

Gaze Activated

The only way in is through a gaze activated door – a Medusa’s gaze

19

Glue

Have fun J

20

Gong, Temple

These may be heard over a considerable distance and are likely to act as an alarm if out of sequence with any regular/ ceremonial use

21

Hand Bell

Hand bells make very useful short range alarms

22

Ice Bridge

A large, possibly towered, bridge or crossing is covered in a thick coating of ice that makes it very difficult to make progress, e.g. iced portcullises at each end and glassy surfaces throughout. Fire and lightning can make dents in the ice and allow incredibly slow and expensive progress – at some risk of blasts causing much of their effect in the area directly in front of the ice. The ice can be melted slowly by lighting fires, ovens and lamps within the same overall area or structure. Once started, any melting can be speeded up by making large bonfires and/ or sending fire and lightning into fissures that begin to appear in the ice

23

Iceberg

A painting of a frozen waterfall or an icy ocean scene starts to melt as a result of exposure to heat and/ or light. Unless stopped/ refrozen the water stars to overflow and then flood out – eventually carrying any boats, fish or the like out of the picture

24

Jaw Trap

An affected creature takes 3D6 and is unable to move until released; unless it has a ‘strength’ of 15 or higher

25

Magnets

Metal weapons become strong magnets, which attract metal items of up to the same weight from up to 10’ away

26

Melting Pool

This pool, fountain, large puddle or stream releases odorless fumes when leather enters the water. There is no other obvious effect apart from all leather melting after two rounds in the water

27

Mercy Stones

These large blocks or tablets of stone show one or more items such as wands, rings and/ or weapons. An item of the general type shown, possibly including magic items, has to be placed on the rock – and stay there – to access another area

28

Net Trap

A weighted net falls over an area of 20’ x 20’. The net can take 30 from sharp weapons or magical attacks before breaking

29

Oracles

An oracle gives good predictions on certain topics, but not on others

30

Pit (Flooded)

Any creature falling into a flooded pit has to swim to escape. Those that are burdened must shed items or take 2D6/ round as they drown

31

Pit (Trapdoor)

Any creature falling into a concealed pit takes 2D6 from the fall and has to climb back out of the pit

32

Poison Gas

Natural gases and vapors can be explosive, corrosive or highly flammable

33

Pools

Pools may hide monsters or contain liquids with magical effects. A series of pools presents opportunities to coat adventurers, and others, in successive ‘washes’

34

Pressure Plates

Multiple pressure plates that need to stay down to prevent a harmful effect and/ or to access an item or entrance

35

Red Mist

This slightly acrid cloud of mist is absorbed by breathing the vapor. Those unable to make a saving throw successfully become more aggressive and hostile each round. The effects are to temporarily lower any charisma, persuasion or negotiation based skills by -1, (or equivalent), every round. Physical attacks and damage done increase by +1, (or equivalent), each round, but defenses/ armor class decrease by the same amount. The effects continue for five minutes after leaving or clearing the mist

36

Scything Blade

Any creature triggering the trap must make a successful saving throw or take 4D6

37

Secret Doors

Secret doors are often used to conceal treasure, for staging ambushes and as escape routes

38

Sensitivity

Condition sensitive materials may include explosives formed by soaking up water, food or drink that becomes highly acidic after heating above a certain temperature and/ or skeletons exposed to sunlight

39

Shifting Walls

Moving walls can be used to baffle adventurers or as barriers

40

Sliding Stairs

These chutes often have an unpleasant surprise at the bottom

41

Stairs

Stairs often indicate a change in level or risk

42

Statues

Statues may animate and attack or reward certain actions

43

Tar Pit

Those caught in such a pit need to spend D4 rounds pulling themselves out

44

Teleport

There are many possible teleport traps, but a teleport into confinement and/ or observation can be unsettling for players

45

Transplant

A body part, such as the heart or eye is swapped with those of another creature. This lends both recipients some of the physical and/ or skills and abilities usually possessed by the other. This may or may not extent to the recipients’ personalities

46

Tripwire

Tripwires may trigger a trap and/ or an alarm

47

Troll Bait

Crush the statue of a troll to stop the creatures in the chamber from regenerating

48

Welded

Metallic items come into contact with a surface and bond with it on a molecular level. The items have to be coaxed off, torn off or abandoned

49

Whistles

Whistles can be useful for summoning more guards – especially animals like dogs and wolves

50

Zombie Wash

The water in this pool, fountain or spring heals wounds up to a point, but makes flesh look increasingly zombified. After a couple of uses a character still looks familiar, but with the flesh, flesh wounds and facial expressions of a zombie

 

Non-Player Characters aka Monsters and Aliens

 

Deciding which NPCs, (including monsters and aliens), go where is often an ongoing process. Players and GMs may decide they are keen on including particular creatures at the adventure or campaign planning stage - and those selected can then play a central role during play. At the other end of the scale, solo or team players usually prefer to flesh out locations and to sketch out chambers before finally revealing any monsters at the point when an encounter happens.

The lists of traits and of generic fantasy creatures shown below provide a general guide to the types of creatures found in most fantasy RPGs. GMs and players can revise and split these tables to suit their preferences and to re-mix the creatures their characters encounter.

Many creatures can cut across or be adapted to different RPG genres. However, the key ingredient with many NPCs is to give them a place in the world, including a past, a network of relationships and a personality. As a result, GMs may wish to develop major and/ or recurring NPCs along the lines of the options suggested for PCs in the section on colorful characters.

 

Traits

Players can lose much of the freedom to decide how characters’ personalities develop during play if too many details are filled in beforehand. This is not such a concern with NPCs run by the GM during play, because the majority of NPCs – including monsters - are likely to call for no more than quick character sketches and a few details - unless players choose to zoom in.

All of the background details set out earlier for PCs can, therefore, apply to a NPC. However, in many cases the most immediate or helpful details to have to hand will be those that put across traits, attitudes and some idea of how the NPC fits into the gameplay. The following tables set out to help GMs or solo players to identify the types of traits or personal qualities a NPC might present during first or early encounters with PCs.

 

Character Positive Physical Traits Table

4D10

Trait

Details

4

Active

 

5

Adept

 

6

Adroit

 

7

Agile

 

8

Attractive

 

9

Beautiful

 

10

Brawny

 

11

Charming

 

12

Dainty

 

13

Dapper

 

14

Delicate

 

15

Dexterous

 

16

Elegant

 

17

Exquisite

 

18

Fair

 

19

Fascinating

 

20

Good-Looking

 

21

Graceful

 

22

Handsome

 

23

Hardy

 

24

Immaculate

 

25

Lively

 

26

Lovely

 

27

Muscular

 

28

Neat

 

29

Nimble

 

30

Pretty

 

31

Ravishing

 

32

Robust

 

33

Shapely

 

34

Skillful

 

35

Spirited

 

36

Stalwart

 

37

Strong

 

38

Sturdy

 

39

Vivacious

 

40

Winsome

 

 

Character Negative Physical Traits Table

2D12

Trait

Details

2

Awkward

 

3

Clumsy

 

4

Decrepit

 

5

Emaciated

 

6

Feeble

 

7

Frail

 

8

Ghastly

 

9

Graceless

 

10

Grotesque

 

11

Hideous

 

12

Homely

 

13

Horrible

 

14

Loathsome

 

15

Odious

 

16

Repellent

 

17

Repugnant

 

18

Repulsive

 

19

Sickly

 

20

Slovenly

 

21

Thin

 

22

Unkempt

 

23

Weak

 

24

Ugly

 

 

General Character Traits Table

D100

Trait

Trait

Trait

Trait

1

Able

Doubtful

Intolerant

Resolute

2

Active

Dull

Intrepid

Resourceful

3

Admirable

Dutiful

Irresolute

Responsible

4

Adventurous

Eager

Irresponsible

Responsive

5

Affectionate

Earnest

Jealous

Restless

6

Afraid

Easy Going

Kindly

Reticent

7

Aggressive

Eccentric

Lackadaisical

Rich

8

Alert

Efficient

Laconic

Rough

9

Altruistic

Egotistical

Lazy

Rowdy

10

Ambitious

Eloquent

Leader

Rude

11

Angry

Embarrassed

Lethargic

Ruthless

12

Annoyed

Eminent

Liberal

Sad

13

Anxious

Encouraging

Listless

Safe

14

Apathetic

Energetic

Lively

Sanctimonious

15

Apologetic

Enthusiastic

Lonely

Satisfied

16

Aristocratic

Envious

Long-Suffering

Saturnine

17

Arrogant

Erratic

Loving

Saucy

18

Artificial

Evil

Loyal

Scared

19

Artless

Excited

Lucky

Scrupulous

20

Assiduous

Excruciating

Magnanimous

Scurrilous

21

Attentive

Expert

Malicious

Secretive

22

Audacious

Fair

Malignant

Sedate

23

Avaricious

Faithful

Mature

Self-Centered

24

Average

Fastidious

Mean

Self-Impassive

25

Awkward

Fearless

Mediocre

Self-Indulgent

26

Bad

Fickle

Meek

Selfish

27

Benevolent

Fierce

Melancholic

Self-Reliant

28

Blue

Flippant

Mercenary

Sensitive

29

Boastful

Foolish

Merciful

Serious

30

Bold

Forbearing

Messy

Sharp

31

Bored

Fortunate

Mischievous

Short

32

Bossy

Foul

Miserable

Shy

33

Brave

Fresh

Monstrous

Silly

34

Bright

Friendly

Moody

Skillful

35

Brilliant

Frivolous

Mulish

Slothful

36

Brutish

Frugal

Munificent

Sly

38

Bumptious

Frustrated

Mysterious

Smart

37

Bungling

Funny

Mystical

Smug

39

Busy

Garrulous

Naïve

Sneaky

40

Callous

Generous

Natural

Sober

41

Calm

Gentle

Naughty

Solemn

42

Candid

Ghastly

Neglectful

Sorry

43

Capricious

Giving

Nervous

Spoiled

44

Careful

Glamorous

Nice

Squeamish

45

Careless

Gloomy

Niggardly

Staid

46

Cautious

Gluttonous

Noble

Steadfast

47

Chaotic

Good

Noisy

Stingy

48

Charitable

Graceful

Nonchalant

Stoical

49

Charming

Greedy

Obdurate

Strange

50

Cheerful

Grouchy

Obedient

Strict

51

Childish

Grumpy

Obnoxious

Strong-Willed

52

Circumspect

Guilty

Obstinate

Stubborn

53

Clever

Gullible

Odd

Sweet

54

Clumsy

Happy

Old

Sympathetic

55

Coarse

Harsh

Oppressive

Taciturn

56

Compassionate

Hateful

Ordinary

Talented

57

Complacent

Haughty

Overconfident

Tall

58

Conceited

Headstrong

Parasitic

Thankful

59

Concerned

Healthy

Parsimonious

Thoughtful

60

Confident

Helpful

Patient

Thoughtless

61

Confused

Heroic

Peaceful

Thrifty

62

Conniving

Hilarious

Pensive

Timid

63

Conscientious

Honest

Perfidious

Timorous

64

Conservative

Hopeful

Persevering

Tired

65

Considerate

Hopeless

Persistent

Tolerant

66

Conspiratorial

Humane

Persuasive

Touchy

67

Contemptible

Humble

Pert

Traitorous

68

Contemptuous

Humorous

Petty

Treacherous

69

Cooperative

Hypocritical

Philanthropic

Truculent

70

Courageous

Ignorant

Philosophical

Trusting

71

Cowardly

Illustrious

Picky

Trustworthy

72

Coy

Imaginative

Pleasant

Unaffected

73

Craven

Imaginative

Plucky

Unambitious

74

Creative

Impatient

Polite

Uncompromising

75

Critical

Imperious

Pompous

Unfriendly

76

Cross

Imperturbable

Poor

Unhappy

77

Cruel

Impetuous

Popular

Unreliable

78

Cultured

Impolite

Positive

Unruly

79

Cunning

Imposing

Precise

Unstable

80

Curious

Impressive

Prejudiced

Upset

81

Dangerous

Imprudent

Proper

Useful

82

Daring

Impulsive

Proud

Vain

83

Dark

Incoherent

Punctual

Valorous

84

Decisive

Incompetent

Quick

Venal

85

Demanding

Inconsiderate

Quiet

Vindictive

86

Demure

Inconsolable

Quixotic

Violent

87

Dependable

Independent

Radical

Voracious

88

Depressed

Indifferent

Rash

Warm

89

Determined

Indiscreet

Rational

Wary

90

Diffident

Indomitable

Reactionary

Weak

91

Dilatory

Indulgent

Rebellious

Wearisome

92

Diligent

Industrious

Recalcitrant

Well-Bred

93

Discouraged

Inefficient

Reckless

Whimsical

94

Discreet

Influential

Refined

Wicked

95

Disdainful

Ingenious

Refractory

Willful

96

Dishonest

Innocent

Reliable

Wise

97

Disrespectful

Insensitive

Religious

Witty

98

Distinguished

Insidious

Remiss

Worried

99

Dogmatic

Insignificant

Reprehensible

Worthless

100

Domineering

Intelligent

Reserved

Zealous

 

Preferred Actions

Preferred actions offer a very straightforward way of varying the reactions of NPCs and other creatures encounter during adventures.

This approach allows for the use of a range of modifiers, which can include taking account of factors like a mild-mannered character having a bad day. Along the same lines, more deadly and naturally hostile creatures on the lists of fantasy creatures that follow may appear charming at times, but that doesn’t set aside the underlying reality.

The intention is not to give creatures without the capacity to express themselves in certain ways the ability to act beyond their skills, nature or intelligence. Instead the terms chosen are open to different interpretations in different contexts. So, for example, a pack of wolves could behave coercively by trying to herd adventurers into an area better suited to attacking as a pack.

The same wolves might be obviously hostile by howling, snapping and snarling to encourage adventurers to stay out of their territory. Equally, they might be more ‘diplomatic’ in terms of allowing entry to their territory, but shadowing the adventurers’ progress.

Obviously, alien, supernatural or undead creatures may not have a typical ‘vocabulary’ of reactions - and a single factor may be enough to turn an otherwise calm individual into a seething pool of rage. This can be accommodated by extending, adjusting or replacing options within the table, while adding any necessary modifiers. For example, hunger will affect most hunting animals’ behaviors and a hostile, hungry wolf that is given food by a party of adventurers may well start acting differently.

Using preferred actions with a GM running play offers a quick range of options to help the GM to map the types of reactions players may meet in slightly more detail than the common fight or talk options. The basic approach shown here could be used quite mechanically, but it is only intended as a guide unless there is no GM. In the absence of a GM players can use solo mechanics, including preferred actions, to introduce a greater variety of gameplay options and/ or to make play less completely random.

 

Preferred Actions Table

2D6

Creature

1

2

3

4

5

6

2

Deadly

Demands

Demands

Attacks

Attacks

Attacks

Tricks

3

Devious

Demands

Attacks

Attacks

Attacks

Tricks

Insults

4

Furious

Attacks

Attacks

Attacks

Tricks

Insults

Warns

5

Combative

Attacks

Attacks

Tricks

Insults

Warns

Quizzes

6

Coercive

Attacks

Tricks

Insults

Warns

Quizzes

Recruits

7

Hostile

Tricks

Insults

Warns

Quizzes

Recruits

Parleys

8

Difficult

Insults

Warns

Quizzes

Recruits

Parleys

Parleys

9

Diplomatic

Warns

Quizzes

Recruits

Parleys

Parleys

Parleys

10

Welcoming

Quizzes

Recruits

Parleys

Parleys

Parleys

Gifts

11

Friendly

Recruits

Parleys

Parleys

Parleys

Gifts

Gifts

12

Samaritan

Parleys

Parleys

Parleys

Gifts

Gifts

Blesses

Obvious modifiers to such tables might include taking account of how threatening monsters or aliens are within a game. For instance, an extremely dangerous creature could role at -2 in the vertical column, while a lethal creature might roll at -3.

 

Solo and Team Play

The steps involved in building a solo or team adventure/ campaign using the adventure builder and/ or the world builder are usually about working through each builder from top to bottom using the dice indicated. The results will inevitably be top-down and fairly random, but there are ways to make play more varied and less completely random:

 

Customization

Players can adjust the contents of the tables to suit the genre and types of encounters they want to use to populate the game. Start by trimming the tables to take out things you don’t want. Then replace or add any features that you would like to include as part of a still random selection by dice rolls, e.g. if you want a Lost World adventure full of dinosaurs pack the monster tables with dinosaurs.

 

Nudges and Tilts

When making selections based on a dice roll it’s easy to hand back some player choice by allowing yourself the option of spending a supply of luck/ fate/ fortune points - perhaps collected during play - on nudges. A nudge is a single move up or down one row from the result shown on the dice. A character’s roll might also allow a tilt – i.e. a complete re-roll to get a different result.

How characters gain these luck points and how much they cost in one form or another is more involving if they’re available through some kind of challenge or long-term goal.

 

Preferred Actions

There is a tendency for solo play to boil down to a lot of random combat encounters. This can be offset by alternative checks against other kinds of skills or abilities. In addition, it is possible to look at presenting a short, convincing narrative – either to modify a skill/ ability check or to deliver an outcome.

Preferred actions are one way of setting up a variety of gameplay options, while keeping play fairly random and, therefore, less predictable.

 

Laying Out Solo and Team Adventures

The tables that follow allow the rapid outlining of team or solo adventures.

Solo or team play can be run by working from top to bottom through the adventure builder tables. These are arranged to start with an emphasis on a mission and a location - and to leave the NPCs/ monsters as one of the last features to be unwrapped during play. This usually suits solo and team play, because it keeps what is often the riskiest part of an encounter until the end.

The steps involved in preparing an adventure are affected by the way in which the encounters areas/ rooms are laid out and revealed to players. Options include:

  1. Setting out the encounter areas/ rooms by rolling them as they’re encountered.
  2. Setting out the general types of encounter areas in advance, e.g. tunnel, room or cavern.
  3. Setting out the types of encounter areas in advance, e.g. kitchen or crypt.

Some players will prefer to discover everything as they explore, while others may prefer to concentrate on what’s inside the encounter areas during play. Clearly, the more a layout is prepared in advance the quicker it will be to play through.

One option is to split play into two phases with world building and adventure mapping acting as preparation for rapidly playing through the placing of any occupants, interacting with those occupants and collecting any treasure.

 

Random Layouts Table

D6

Type of Chamber

Entrances

Entrance

1

Passageway

1

Closed Door

2

Empty Room or Cave

1

Locked Door

3

Occupied Room

2

Open Door

4

Occupied Room

2

Cave Mouth

5

Occupied Cave

3

Portcullis

6

Roll Again

D6

Concealed or Secret Door

 

To end up with a useable layout the players need to spread areas out when more than one or two chambers are connected to a single chamber. This can be done by lengthening, re-orientating or reshaping connecting tunnels.

With a layout in place or emerging during play the tables for furnishings and accessories, tricks and traps, encounters and treasure can be added. These may be drawn from the tables, but the stats and outcomes are going to be those of your RPG of choice.

These solo options typically involve the following steps:

  1. Make a PC for the RPG of your choice and add any details from the colorful characters section that suit the game-world/ are of interest.
  2. Decide how many nudges and tilts a PC is allowed and how/ where they can get more from.

 

Campaign Level

  1. Decide how many nudges and/ or tilts can be spent at each level, i.e. while campaign building, while adventure building and when adventuring. A D6+6 might be a good starting point for nudges/ tilts at each level.
  2. Select the level you want to start at in the world builder, e.g. campaign challenges, terrain or locations - and work down.

 

Adventure Level

  1. If you have used the world builder to identify adventure locations use those locations as you transfer to the adventure builder.
  2. Select the level you want to start at in the adventure builder, e.g. missions or those for filling out the contents of dungeon - and work down.
  3. Use a Random Layouts Table like the one shown above to map the dungeon before rolling the contents on the tables in the adventure builder.
  4. Reach for your rules system or use a Preferred Actions Table to judge the likely actions of the occupants of the location you are exploring.
  5. Use your rules system or even the basic lists of fantasy monsters and our skills checks to arrive at clear outcomes.
  6. Grab any loot, experience or extra nudges/ tilts your PC has earned.

 

Solo and team play will run faster if a Random Layout Table and a Preferred Actions Table are set aside beforehand.

 

Creatures

The fairly typical set of fantasy creatures that follows offers a ready-reference for GMs to select and keep track of various monsters and NPCs. They may also be used to randomly select creatures of various levels of difficult for solo or team gameplay. Having rolled or selected a creature the specific stats from players’ RPG system of choice can be dropped in.

Alien species and races are less clearly familiar to most players with the exception of a few obvious movie-stars. Races from a series like Star Trek are probably not going to slot into SciFi campaigns that don’t use Star Trek staples, so it is generally easier to take fantasy creatures - such as Orcs or Dark Elves - and to translate them across. Porting creatures in this way works well on worlds comparable to the worlds described in human mythologies, but a lot can be done to make alien species more unique and varied by taking account of the physical and psychological impact of the conditions and situations that define their lives.

Where a role or rank is described GMs or players may wish to roll the dice more than once to establish the type of creature or race serving as, for example, soldiers. It might also be useful to add classes for NPCs for games that use character classes.

 

Dangerous Creatures

Dangerous Creatures Table

2D20

Creature

Details

2

Ants, Giant

 

3

Badgers, Giant

 

4

Bats, Giant

 

5

Bears

 

6

Beetles, Giant

 

7

Centipedes, Giant

 

8

Crocodiles, Normal

 

9

Dark Elves

 

10

Demons, Base

 

11

Devils, Base

 

12

Dwarves

 

13

Elves

 

14

Ghouls

 

15

Gnolls

 

16

Goblins

 

17

Hobgoblins

 

18

Human, Berserkers

 

19

Human, Outlaws

 

20

Human, Sergeants

 

21

Human, Soldiers

 

22

Human, Workers

 

23

Kobolds

 

24

Lizardmen

 

25

Mermen

 

26

Nixies

 

27

Orc, Sergeants

 

28

Orc, Soldiers

 

29

Rats, Giant

 

30

Rays, Giant

 

31

Skeletons, Animal

 

32

Skeletons, Humanoid

 

33

Skeletons, Monster

 

34

Wasps, Giant

 

35

Wolves

 

36

Wolves, Timber

 

37

Zombies

 

38

Roll Twice

 

39

Roll Twice

 

40

Roll Thrice

 

 

Very Dangerous Creatures

 

Very Dangerous Creatures Table

2D20

Creature

Details

2

Ants, Giant (Warriors)

 

3

Badgers, Honey

 

4

Bats, Giant

 

5

Bears, Giant

 

6

Boars, Wild

 

7

Carrion Creatures

 

8

Centaurs

 

9

Centipedes, Giant

 

10

Crabs, Giant

 

11

Crocodiles, Giant

 

12

Demons, Minor

 

13

Devils, Minor

 

14

Dogs, Phantom

 

15

Dryads

 

16

Gargoyles

 

17

Harpies

 

18

Hippogriffs

 

19

Hornets, Giant

 

20

Hounds of Hell

 

21

Hounds, Hunting

 

22

Lions

 

23

Lycanthrope, Wereboars

 

24

Lycanthrope, Wererats

 

25

Lycanthrope, Werewolves

 

26

Minotaurs

 

27

Ogres

 

28

Ogres, Mountain

 

29

Pegasi

 

30

Rats, Giant

 

31

Shadows

 

32

Spiders, Giant

 

33

Spiders, Giant Wolf

 

34

Squids, Giant

 

35

Unicorns

 

36

Wights, Burial

 

37

Wraiths

 

38

Roll Twice

 

39

Roll Twice

 

40

Roll Thrice

 

 

Extremely Dangerous Creatures

 

Extremely Dangerous Creatures Table

2D20

Creature

Details

2

Banshees

 

3

Basilisks

 

4

Cockatrices

 

5

Demons, Minor

 

6

Devils, Major

 

7

Devils, Minor

 

8

Dragons, Yellow

 

9

Dragons, Black

 

10

Dragons, Green

 

11

Dragons, Red

 

12

Dragons, White

 

13

Elementals

 

14

Treants

 

15

Erinyes

 

16

Fish, Giant

 

17

Ghosts

 

18

Giants, Mountain

 

19

Giants, Rock

 

20

Griffins

 

21

Hounds of Hell

 

22

Hydrae

 

23

Lich

 

24

Lycanthrope, Werebears

 

25

Manticores

 

26

Medusae

 

27

Mummies

 

28

Ogres, Storm

 

29

Pools, Deadly

 

30

Salamanders

 

31

Scorpions, Giant

 

32

Specters

 

33

Squids, Giant

 

34

Succubi

 

35

Trolls

 

36

Vampires

 

37

Wyverns

 

38

Roll Twice

 

39

Roll Twice

 

40

Roll Thrice

 

 

Lethal Creatures

 

Lethal Creatures Table

2D20

Creature

Details

2

Banshees

 

3

Chimeras

 

4

Demon Prince or Lord

 

5

Demons (2nd)

 

6

Demons (3rd)

 

7

Demons (4th)

 

8

Demons (5th)

 

9

Devils, Noble

 

10

Dragon Turtles

 

11

Dragons, Black

 

12

Dragons, Blue

 

13

Dragons, Gold

 

14

Dragons, Green

 

15

Dragons, Red

 

16

Elementals

 

17

Treants

 

18

Genies

 

19

Giants, Air

 

20

Giants, Flame

 

21

Giants, Ice

 

22

Giants, Thunder

 

23

Golems, Battle

 

24

Golems, Metallic

 

25

Gorgons

 

26

Hydrae

 

27

Liches

 

28

Nagas

 

29

Rakshasas

 

30

Rocs

 

31

Sea Monsters

 

32

Sea Serpents

 

33

Snare Beasts

 

34

Titans

 

35

Vampires

 

36

Will-o-the-Wisps

 

37

Worms, Giant

 

38

Roll Thrice

 

39

Roll Twice

 

40

Roll Twice

 

 

Tricks

While traps can become more elaborate and damaging at higher levels, it’s often trickery involving NPCs that contributes more towards providing a darker setting and some extra entertainment.

 

Ciphers

Code-breaking falls into the area of puzzles rather than trickery. However, the means by which codes are carried, the value of the information they carry and the possibly multi-layered meaning of a coded message are open to plenty of tricks and deceptions. For instance, a part of a map drawn with hidden ink on torn canvas could present adventurers with a lot of possible places to search for more pieces. Ships’ sails, artists’ canvases and knights’ pavilions might all get checked; but will the players notice the sails on the large model in a shop window.

 

Daylight Robbery

Allowing players to notice something unusual about the otherwise usual can reveal a wide range of seemingly innocent activities, which may be trying to look almost too ordinary. Coin-clipping, false repairs, weighed-down wagons or pack animals, short measures and similar discrepancies allow players to either investigate or collaborate with criminals, law enforcement agencies, victims and politicians.

 

Feigning Injury

Faking injury or presenting yourself as being weaker than an opponent might expect is a common trick. For example, a tented field hospital full of bandaged and bloodied warriors could easily serve as a trap, which might be foreshadowed by a bucket of pigs’ blood sitting outside the back of the tent. Equally, a young dragon may be acting as bait for a trap set by and watched over by its parents. Perhaps the players will show enough compassion to encourage the dragons to let them pass; perhaps not.

 

Forgeries

Forgeries are a favorite for many GMs, as just about anything from a stamp to a costume can be forged. Gold coated in copper paint, valuable coins and stamps, works of art of all descriptions, metals which have been melted down and reshaped, counterfeit goods, genuine and not so genuine holy relics, food containing fake saffron or truffles, drinks made from revolting ingredients and similar deceptions usually work well.

 

Glue

Bark resins, tomato frogs, honeycomb, melted rubber, melted glass, tars, treacle, syrups, conserves and boiled bones are among the sticky options available for tricks. Gluey tricks can, for example, be used to introduce some sticky slapstick, to delay adventurers or to act as extra hazards.

 

Goo

Ooze, gel, slime, mud, grease, lard, fungi and several other kinds of generally disgusting goo all have properties which can be used along the lines of glue tricks. Ooze and gel-based monsters have been around in RPGs for a long time, but there are plenty of variants that easily fit into most games either as dungeon cleaners or through having an effect which slots them into ongoing events. For instance, if only three-quarters of the specially imported healthy mud going into Spa treatments is there when clients leave, where is the other quarter going - and what is it getting up to?

 

Gremlins

Gremlins and gargoyles are the commonplace mischief makers known for triggering mechanical failures and mishaps. These supernatural troublemakers are suited to their role, but there are lots of natural or mechanical ‘gremlins’ that can be brought into play.

Magpies snatching items, squirrels chewing through cables, termites destroying wood and wasps chewing leaves or paper all offer entirely natural ‘gremlins’ that are good at destroying evidence.

Wear and tear caused by weight, friction or corrosion may also cause problems, which can be compounded by various accidents and knock-on effects involving spills, sparks and similar dangers.

 

Industrial Processes and Espionage

Laboratories, production lines, shipyards, distilleries, building sites, smelting works, kilns, chemical stores, mines, tanneries, (and most other industrial processes), are open to introducing more trickery. Adventurers can deal with NPCs’ industrial tricks, (or get involved in the trickery for themselves), by playing through the changing conditions and circumstances involve in industry, industrial processes and industrial mishaps. Sabotage, data theft, insider trading, the theft of commercial rights, counterfeiting operations, fraud, substandard processes and the events surrounding industrial accidents are among the choices available to GMs and players.

 

Loaded Dice

Cold readings, spiritualist hoaxes, fixed races and fights, an expensive set of loaded dice, and maps or messages, (which have been opened, read, possibly revised and probably resealed), are among the slightly infuriating cheats that can be used to leave adventurers looking for the culprits and/ or stuck in the lurch.

 

Mix-Ups and Muddles

Other confusions involving mixed or confused messages offer plenty of ways to keep players on their toes. A missing word or undelivered dispatch that alters battle plans could be the starting point for a series of knock–on effects and confusions. For example, an order to retreat might arrive in the hands of a single courageous adventurer who feels motivated to fight on. Does the adventurer choose to trick the rest of the party by keeping the news private - or come clean but insist they stay? Equally, a verbal message between two kings might be misheard and carry an unintended insult; leaving the adventurers to either insist it’s a mistake or to fan the flames.

 

Moonshine

Illicit commodities of all sorts are open to tricks involving every stage of the production, treatment, storage, distribution, marketing and criminalization of such goods. Moonshine and the Prohibition Era offer an example of the type of atmosphere of double-dealing and bribery that can help to shape a setting where players keep an eye on their wallets and their backs.

Obvious narcotics and intoxicants are far from the only options. If the goods are low volume and high value then stamp collecting or rare flowers can stir up just as much backbiting and volatility as a more predictable drugs laboratory. A player that took her/ his adventurer into trading in exotic creatures or monsters is an example where the adventurer could expect to end-up handling some particularly unpredictable goods.

 

Pyramid Schemes

Commercial scams and stings of all kinds are available as tricks. Unfinished building work and shoddy repairs to weapons or chariots might present short sub-plots or a single adventure. However, it’s easy to take opportunistic frauds much further.

One of the most common, but successful, major scams is the pyramid scheme. Adventurers may get invited into a scheme, set up a scheme or lend money to someone joining a scheme. Any way round, everyone will be smiling and credible until the bubble bursts and lots of investors lose loads of money.

 

Out and About

After exploring a few dungeons many adventurers will be ready to step outside and try their luck in wildernesses, enchanted forests, haunted castles and, eventually, whole nations or worlds. This can start by drawing together a series of dungeons and using a few wilderness encounters to liven up the journeys between dungeons. For example, adventurers are likely to come across various outdoor hazards on their travels. These can be rolled or selected, but may have to be adapted to the terrain and any ongoing events.

 

Wilderness Encounters Table

Roll 3D12

Encounter

Encountered

3

Ambush

Ambushes usually take advantage of the local terrain. It is reasonable to allow adventurers some warning, such as birds taking flight from woods, though this may arrive late in the day unless adventurers have been scouting

4

Bounty Hunters

Adventurers who are avoiding arrest, hiding in political exile or caught-up in a feud can expect to run into problems now and again

5

Convoy

Escorting, defending and looting convoys are all seemingly straightforward options, which are likely to have knock-on effects

6

Dead End

Dead ends are either frustrating delays or not what they claim to be. It is relatively easy to encourage a party to take risks if the only alternative is a 50 mile delay

7

Equipment Failure

A wagon’s axle breaks, the horses’ saddles snap or any similar minor mishaps may delay and endanger parties

8

False Trail

Misleading signposts, false tracks and other misdirections easily add delays or draw adventurers into traps

9

Flash Flood

The force of sudden flooding is sufficient to sweep away camps, break up formations and serve up a local emergency

10

Flocking

Aerial creatures may gather in unusually high numbers and start hunting in flocks of 5D10 or more

11

Marsh

Marshlands have their own subset of monsters and plenty of obvious hazards for unwary adventurers. Making them more dangerous at night or during high tides can introduce changes of pace

12

Mercenaries

Bands of 2D8 troops are what they claim to be. Pay them more than the opposition, (allowing for their risk), and they will follow orders – while it pays

13

Merchants

Merchants may range from rag traders through to hugely wealthy caravan owners protected by plenty of bodyguards

14

Military Patrol

The size and approach of the force will reflect the circumstances. In peace time 2D6 troops might be usual. During a war numbers are likely to be closer to 4D6. Adventurers operating in hostile territory should expect to be questioned or interrogated

15

Militia

Militia units of 4D4 troops can either become valuable allies with local knowledge to share or particularly dangerous opponents

16

Monsters

Monsters of all kinds work just as well out-of-doors. They can be introduced separately from or alongside other hazards

17

Nemesis

An old enemy, now in a position of power, comes across the group in circumstances where the enemy at least appears to have an major advantage

18

Obstacle

Chasms, ravines, steep slopes, rivers and crags are among the delays and ambush opportunities available to GMs

19

Old Friend

Someone at least one of the players knows turns up. This may be to a weakened party’s advantage or place a burden on an adventurer or party

20

Outlaws

Outlaw bands of 4D8 may seek to find out if they share any common cause with a party. Otherwise they are likely to assault and / or kidnap adventurers

21

Poacher

Poachers have inside knowledge of the landscape, local folklore, rumors and wildlife. If threatened in any way they have a Renegade’s ability to Hide in Shadows and Move Silently while escaping

22

Poisoned Wells

Poisoning wells is an easy way to slow an enemy’s advance. Animal carcasses and barrels of salt offer simple ways to poison wells

23

Pranks

Kids, drunks and mischievous creatures may revel in playing seemingly harmless jokes on travelers. Glue on a rope bridge, sparks in a crop dust cloud or a stone hurled through a clue embedded in a stained glass window can all present complications

24

Prospectors

Most prospectors are going to welcome company, but they may be paranoid about their claims

25

Rivals

Rivals in most forms of conflict are likely to travel along major thoroughfares. Anything from a scouting party to an entire army may suddenly appear on the horizon

26

Rock Falls

Tumbling boulders, collapsing embankments, avalanches of all types and crumbling masonry can provide plenty of danger and anxious moments

27

Ruins

These may be re-occupied or simply provide a place of shelter where there might be some extra equipment lying around. Alternatively, the ancient ruins of an entire civilization may lie buried just below the ground

28

Scorched Earth

Destroying orchards, crops, settlements, livestock and bridges are among the steps available to retreating armies and vandals. Magical traps, poisoning, curses and mass destruction are more likely if there is no intention of reclaiming the damaged land

29

Shortcut

Shortcuts usually involve taking risks to move faster. However, they can also be introduced to speed a journey along.

30

Swarm

Swarms of flying insects and crawling bugs may be mere distractions or prove as deadly as mosquitos. Swarms of monstrous insects may sometimes gather in groups of 4D4 or above

31

Tolls and Taxes

Taxes on goods, individuals and even groups are likely to crop up fairly frequently. Especially where any level of protection is offered or where money has been spend to provide a service, e.g. a bridge

32

Tourists

Tourists might be out enjoying themselves or find themselves completely out of their depth in a wilderness area

33

Vapor

Fumes, mists, dews, vapors, gases and exhalations can be weakening, corrosive, curative or magical. Ideally, adventurers will have the opportunity to limit or reduce the effects

34

War Party

As many as 5D10 humanoids form a band of warriors with D4 Fighters of 2D4 levels. A Cleric, Ranger or Paladin of 2D4 levels will usually accompany the group

35

Water Hazards

A lot of transportation takes place along or across waterways, which opens up the use of aquatic monsters and maritime threats. Water hazards can also occur inland, as a deep puddle is enough to break a chariot wheel or conceal a creature

36

Wreckage

Shipwrecks, smoldering villages and abandoned cargoes can be used as plot devices or dungeon sites