Thursday, March 14, 2019

Mapping Update: Placing Locations - not Encounters

I have been working to place interesting locations on my hex map, and I've come to a conclusion. I am placing locations, not encounters. Why make that distinction? Because "encounters" has a specific connotation that revolves around conflict and implies a degree of railroading. If you enter this hex, the GM rolls and if the dice come up Encounter, the players have to deal with something predetermined by the GM. That isn't good GMing, in my view.

So instead of placing encounters that unfold a predetermined way, I place locations where something might be happening. I will roll to see if the players stumble on the location, and if so, give them information based on what they witness. What happens from there is 100% up to them. It might be a dungeon entrance. It might be a gnarled tree with a rope tied about its trunk. It might be a pile of rotting corpses. Whatever.

That doesn't mean there aren't random encounters rolled for hexes. These represent stumbling on an event that potentially provokes action. These could be combat-oriented like a dozen orcs charging a wagon with drawn swords, or they could just be creepiness like catching a glimpse of fish-men playing pipes in the distant fog. Again, these provide the opportunity for the players to make decisions. They don't exist to force players into a specific course of action...unless they really mess up a Perception check and get ambushed by a hostile encounter. But even then, there is a string of rolls that create that situation - Reaction rolls by the hostile party that indicate it will attack, opposed Stealth checks to see if they can sneak up and waylay the party, failed Perception rolls by the party, etc. The players get their chance to avoid it, dice gods willing.

So that's a whole lot of ranting about a concept, but how has it been implemented in the hex map? I have placed several locales in the uncivilized parts of the map so far. These are, for the most part, stationary (with one fun exception that might move once per week). I'm generally picking locations that scream out for something initially and then going back to fill in other ideas afterward. So far, Alnwich is pretty well covered, so I'm starting to expand the adventure bubble outward.  This method seems to be working well, so far.

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