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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Sandbox 07/20/2014

     Welcome back and we are going to dive right in.  As you can see I've changed Sunday from general thoughts about RPG's to a focus on the sandbox project. Sundays are a good day for me to crank out work on my campaign. Between chores and everything, getting a good five or six pages of material knocked out is a productive writing day by my standards.

The page to the right starts to explain the next step for me in sandbox campaign creation.  Once I have the first adventure scale map knocked out I move on to define each terrain area as a sort of wandering monster difficulty level.  This is exactly like creating wandering monster charts for levels in a dungeon.  The final goal here is to create a grid that players can explore where different types of terrain present a different type of challenge.  I don't simply create a generic level one, two, three and four wandering monster chart although this is one way you could go.  I define the general range of hit dice I want for monsters in that terrain and then I create individual wandering monster charts for each terrain type, so for example light woods and river terrain have two different wandering monster charts.

Creating these wandering monster charts are good mental exercise to get my mind working on what kinds of monsters and what sorts of things are happening in each type of surrounding terrain.  I like to scribble down notes on a notepad I keep handy as I create these tables.   As I finish these tables I will launch into creating set encounter locations scattered all over each adventure scale map.  The end result will be a three by three grid of 20 x 20 square maps like the first one we created for an adventuring sandbox sixty miles by sixty miles in size.

 On the far right of each wandering monster table you will see an empty column labeled "uses".  As I run the campaign I will make a pencil tick in this column each time I roll that result.  I don't like repeating the same encounter from adventure to adventure and so this is a reminder to me of what we've already done.  Generally if I roll a same result I will just re-roll.  After playing in an area I might freshen things up by removing commonly rolled lines completely and making a fresh table with replacements or new things written into those lines.

Also mentioned under the entry for Men and some humanoid encounters is a percentage chance for taint.  Zombie taint is one of the themes of this particular adventure area.  A character can be infected with zombie taint and not turn into a zombie.  In this setting the character who is tainted does not return as a zombie until shortly after they are slain.  So a group of bandits where three of the bandits have zombie taint will see three of the bandits rise up as fast moving, infected ravenous brain eaters shortly after they drop during the combat.  Part of the fun is that you can be bitten, the DM quietly makes a saving throw for you behind the DM screen and you never know for sure if you are infected or not unless the party Cleric has the right spells to figure this out.  It can be cured with cure disease so its not a huge big deal for the party however they never know which humanoid be it bandit, orc, goblin or whatever might -also- be carrying the taint from a previous wound and is a ticking time bomb of crazy flesh eating zombie just waiting to pop back up and return to the fight.

I have included wandering encounter tables for dirt road areas (level one), for light woods (level two) and deep woods (level four) in this blog entry.  This will give you an idea of how quickly certain areas on the map become dangerous.

I include a description of these areas as equally creepy and dangerous looking to the players so when they push deep into that wild, dark, incredibly creepy forest they won't be totally surprised when very bad things are lurking inside.

While the characters are low level they will begin to understand that certain types of terrain are more dangerous than others and they will begin to respond accordingly either giving those areas a wide birth or when they finally feel ready to tackle them going in with planning and some extra thought, maybe some extra help to tackle those locations.  Having difficult and challenging areas on the map will slow down the players and get them more interested in careful exploration rather than just waltzing overland in the direction of the next town they plan to visit or ruins they decide to explore.  Part of the challenge becomes getting from home base to that interesting dungeon site in one piece.

You will also notice that the chance for an encounter increases in more dangerous locations.

I like to use a d12 for my encounter tables.  The poor d12 gets so little use in the rest of the rules that I like to incorporate it whenever possible into any random tables or chances for encounter rolls that I decide to create.

A few of the monsters listed here like the Brendor Bolg and the Honeydipper Swarm are my own creations.  I will be posting these up along with other homebrew monsters from my campaign on Monster Mondays so be sure to come back and visit to pick up the write ups for those as they get posted.

Well that about wraps it up for this Sunday episode of Dungeon Mastering by Candlelight.  Entering our second month and still going strong with about a post every single day.  Feel free to leave a comment or suggestion.

Please add me on google+ or follow this blog however you will.  For now, Happy Gaming!!!  -Ed

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