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Apr 21, 2010

If Guiseppe actually named his puppet "Maligno," he deserves everything that happened to him.


Apr 21, 2010

Let’s see, you’re in a dank corner of the internet, on a forum, and you’re low level. Let me draw a card… okay, looks like you run into

The Deck of Encounters Set One: Introduction

The Deck of Encounters, Set One posted:

The road rounds a bend. A glitter catches your eye. There's something in the ditch, and it looks like gold…

Now—endless encounters! This is a treasure chest full of over 400 encounters in all kinds of terrain, for AD&D® 2nd Edition game player characters of all levels. Encounters with monsters, traps, and tricks. Encounters requiring brawn and a quick sword. Encounters requiring quick wits, courage, and imagination.

The front of each card details the basics of the encounter—danger level, terrain, climate, character attributes needed for success, encounter types, and the experience-point value for rapid reference. Each detail has its own icon, making the task of selecting just the right encounter even easier.

Concentrate on your campaign and leave the encounters to the Deck of Encounters!

This thing came out in 1994, about a year before wee elementary school-age me got into the game through the Introduction to Advanced Dungeons & Dragons box set (a reissue of First Quest). I not only owned this deck, I used it in the terrible campaign that I ran for years for my brother and a couple of our friends. This era in general is extremely nostalgic to me, and I’m interested in seeing what kind of random encounters TSR thought would improve an AD&D campaign. My expectations are not high.

The lead designer was Colin McComb, who would later put his Philosophy BA to work as one of the co-creators of Planescape. The credited additional designers were Dustin Browder (who worked on Starcraft II and some V:tM stuff over the years), Michele Carter (later involved in developing the 4th Edition cosmology), Andrew Morris, and Teeuwynn Woodruff (who’s worked on a variety of stuff for TSR/Wizards, including Betrayal at House on the Hill, for which this experience seems potentially relevant).

What are the first cards? Well, they have credits and information on how to use the deck itself. Let's go over them.

1. Using These Cards, 1 of 3

The introduction to the deck begins by claiming you can use these cards as random encounters, incorporate ones you like in a longer campaign, or use them "to design an entire campaign." That's a mighty tall claim, Deck of Encounters. What kind of campaign can we build out of these cards? A terrible one, I suspect.

It goes on to explain that you can sort the cards as you like - by danger level, climate, terrain, type of problem, etc. Fair enough. It notes that some cards are two- or three-parters, though it doesn't really explain how that works. (It depends; some are essentially one encounter split across two cards, and some are intended to be a first encounter and then a later follow-up.) And finally,

Using These Cards, 1 of 3 posted:

It is recommended that you read the cards, so you can be sure to select only the appropriate cards for your game.

Very important advice. I recall doing exactly that back in the day: going through the cards and sorting out the ones I wanted to use. As such, after looking at each card, I’ll be deciding to keep it in my theoretical random encounter deck, or to pass on it… or occasionally to put it forth to you, the jury, to pass judgement on.

2. Using These Cards, 2 of 3

This card explains the reference categories. Danger level (low is for levels 1-4, medium for 5-9, high for 10+), climate (they note it's mostly "temperate" because that's where most D&D campaigns are set), Terrain (forest, rough terrain, mountains, dungeon, urban, arctic, etc.), Attribute ("how the encounter would best be resolved," oddly labeled by ability score: "Strength indicates combat, Charisma indicates negotiation, and so forth." There are no encounters that should be solved through Constitution), Encounter (monster, device, or NPC), XP value, and "Additional Info" (where to look for more information on the topic - nine times out of ten, this is labeled MM for Monstrous Manual.)

All of these would be a lot more useful if they were positioned on the tops of the cards so you could see them clearly while flipping through the deck. Color-coding would have helped, too. As it is, you can sort them out into piles beforehand, but it’s pretty awkward to find, say, a medium-level arctic encounter if you haven’t organized them very well ahead of time.

3. Using These Cards, 3 of 3

The designers note that you can expand upon an encounter - if the PCs are really curious about where those ghouls came from that were wandering around in the city after dark, make up a necromancer who's terrorizing the city from within or whatever. Sound advice!

The next paragraph suggests that if the players are "obsessing on a single encounter" and ignoring your awesome adventure that you have planned, you should just cut off the story line. "For example, you could decree that the ghouls... were the unnatural byproduct of the graveyard and leave it at that." Bonus overbearing DM points for use of the word "decree." :allears:

(Of course, if I was a good-intentioned PC, I might respond, "drat, graveyards randomly spawn undead? Someone's got to do something about this! Let's ransack every graveyard in the area and crush all the skulls! We'll be doing a public service!")

Cards 4 through 12

These are simply cards that demonstrate the icons for terrain, difficulty, and so on, and then the checklists themselves. Tune in next time for our first real batch of encounters!

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 20:59 on Oct 17, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

In the afternoon of the second day of your journey, you encounter

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 2: The Deck of Orcs

Cards in this product are sometimes (but not always) numerically grouped by theme or featured creature. That doesn’t particularly matter when you’re drawing from the deck and using the product as intended, but it means that we’re going to read a whole bunch of orc encounters at once, then a run of goblins, and so on.

13. The Ice-Bound Orcs

Our first real card! This one time, let’s see what they look like in full, front and back:

I have some questions about the content. How do you live in a “snow mound”? Are "Ice-Bound Orcs" a tribe, or some kind of sub-race? Either way, why are they apparently so bad at living in this climate that they're named after? It says they moved here in part to "avoid other Orcs" - why are they so determined to do that, even to the point of starvation?

However, as written, none of this matters, because the orcs attack the party as soon as they walk into ambush range. The PCs will kill the orcs in short order, take their loot, and wonder why they don't see any more signs of orcs for the rest of their trip. (Because they just committed genocide.) I’m passing on this, because in actual play it doesn’t seem like it would be noticeably more interesting than if I’d rolled “6 orcs” on a random encounter table. Raise the bar slightly higher, Deck of Encounters.

14. Pilgrims, Part 1 of 2

The PCs come around a bend in the hills and see four orcs in grey robes by a looted wagon with dead horses. They're pacifists (to the point of just "watching sadly" if you cut down their companions! I don't think that's how pacifism works, buddy!), and they're looking for the Temple of Bribancus. (Who?)

I understand that the encounter is playing against stereotypes, but dang, these are some absurdly passive NPCs. Make them deliver streams of withering, profanity-ridden insults to attackers and bad Samitarians, and this encounter description just got noticeably better.

I'll keep it, because now I want to run these foul-mouthed pacifist orcs. I also like that it could lead into a little side-quest, though I’d appreciate one more sentence about what would make the temple an interesting adventure location.

15. Pilgrims, Part 2 of 2

Six orcs by another looted wagon, questioning an old man. They're looking for the pilgrims from the previous encounter, who are heretics who defiled a shrine of Gruumsh. They have no treasure, and they definitely don't have any compelling reason for the PCs to cooperate with them. The encounter will end in combat. All six orcs will die, and so will the 1st-level mage with two hit points if they made the mistake of memorizing Magic Missile instead of Sleep. Not terribly interesting, but I do appreciate the follow-up from the previous encounter. Keep.

16. The Hostile Forest

The PCs are in a forest, and feel watched. Because they are being watched, by a dozen Jerk ElvesWood Elves. They don't want the PCs to continue on their current course, so they fire a warning volley of arrows, emerge from the trees, and demand the PCs turn around. "They will not listen to negotiations and will fight if the PCs do not leave post-haste." So, you know, there are absolutely no opportunities for meaningful interaction.

This card uses far, far too many words to describe a bog-standard Wood Elf encounter, while completely failing to say anything about what the elves are guarding, which is obviously the interesting part. And I, the GM who is drawing random encounters to spice up my game, don't feel like coming up with anything cool. :effort: Pass.

P.S. Why is this sitting in the middle of the orc encounters? Are these wood elves secretly orcs? Because that would be much more interesting.

17. Orcs on the Rise, Part 1 of 2

The PCs are passing through a ravine by DM fiat, and are ambushed by seven orcs with bows, who threaten them from a bluff overhead. The leader will ask the PCs to surrender their weapons and valuables in exchange for their lives. The orcs will keep their word, but who cares? There is ZERO chance the PCs are actually going to surrender. Not even outnumbered 1st-level PCs who might actually be in danger. It's a handful of orcs! It's the principle of the thing!

The most notable thing here is the long description of the scenery that leads into the ambush. The main purpose is to justify how the PCs wandered into a ravine: “The trail winds between two bluffs, rising so gradually from the rest of the forest that the PCs will barely notice that they are in a defile 100 feet deep until it is too late.” Thank you, impartial and non-adversarial DM.

But at the same time, the description notes that “there is a faint aura of menace emanating from the thick undergrowth.” If you mention anything of the sort to the PCs, I would expect weapons would be drawn, buffs would be cast, and some sort of scout would be sent out before you could say "immersive description."

I suppose this would work OK if you give the PCs checks to notice that they’re starting to enter a ravine and respond appropriately? But it seems a little awkward. I’m going to pass.

18. Orcs on the Rise, Part 2 of 2

This card takes place in a similar place to the first. There are two orcs who are trying to shake down travelers, explicitly copying the methods of the orcs from the previous encounter, a "more established group." The exploits of those seven orcs with bows are famed throughout the land, it seems. These two try to make it seem like they're more numerous than they are, of course.

The PCs, who absolutely did not surrender the first time around, are once again going to attack the orcs and crush them. Since these two particular orcs are "not seriously malicious, and will grovel and whine for their lives if they must," everyone will then be forced to have an uncomfortable exchange about whether it's OK to murder helpless captive orcs or not. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 15:33 on Oct 19, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

PurpleXVI posted:

I get the feeling that getting any sort of interesting encounter out of most of these cards would require writing up more content than is originally on the card itself...

Yes. I'm certainly being generous with my "keep"s - if what's on the card is enough to inspire me to run something halfway decent, even if I have to do most of the heavy lifting myself, I'm calling it a win. Look, I paid retail for this product in '95 - I want to get some use out of it!

Megane posted:

You should keep a running total of how many cards are just "you encounter [NUMBER] hostile [MONSTER]s in a [TERRAIN TYPE]." That batch was, what, like 5/6?
That won't always be the case, but the next 80 cards are basically orcs, goblins, kobolds, and then working through the MM in alphabetical order. Settle in.

Apr 21, 2010

Welcome to AD&D, game of limitless possibilities. Adventure! Excitement! Intrigue! Low-level humanoids!

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 3: The Deck of Goblins and Kobolds

Look, you’re an AD&D PC. What did you think you were going to encounter?

19: Toll Bridge?

Low danger, happens in a forest "next to a ravine 100 feet deep. There is only a single, rickety bridge to cross the ravine for miles in any direction." Obviously.

Anyway, the bridge is rickety, and 10 goblins are there threatening to destroy it if passerby don't pay a five-copper toll. How much traffic comes through here, goblins? And what are you going to do with the loose coinage? How about going and raiding farmhouses for chickens, instead? These logistical questions are breaking my immersion.

The only good part is that if the PCs do decide to pay (much to the goblins' relief), and try to pay with anything larger than a silver piece, the leader gets publicly embarrassed over not having enough cash on hand to make change, and just waves them on. Cute, but that's not what's going to happen in play. Pass.

20: The Summoning

So the PCs are doing whatever, and suddenly appear on a tundra to fight 10 goblins on behalf of a wizard who cast monster summoning I. They must do so. If they take out the goblins quick, though, the wizard gives them each a gem, apologizing because she "didn't know she could summon adventurers."

And indeed, the metaphysics of AD&D 2E say that she cannot. (Unless they’re planar adventurers). I don't think summoned creatures can bring stuff back with them, either. So... :shrug:

I’d keep it, except that the PCs are summoned to an ever-shifting field of screaming crystalline faces by a giant slug bedecked with strange ornaments to fight a bunch of slow but relentless faceless metal golems. Try to knock them into the screaming faces so they get bitten and pulled down into the depths of the earth! Also, the gems (although made of a material perfectly common on the PCs' world) are engraved with what appears to be tiny, intricate writing. So given that I just had to rewrite the entire card, I guess that’s actually a pass.

21: Changeling

In a thick forest, the players hear a rustling ahead, and a wailing wicker basket pushed out on the road. They'll see a short figure fleeing through the forest, and if they pursue it, it will disappear into a small hole "that only halflings and gnomes would have any chance of climbing into and going down."

In the basket is a one year-old goblin baby. "When it sees the PCs, it stops its screaming and begins to coo and whimper with hope." :3:

Something about this seems off. First, a year old? That's pretty old for foisting off an unwanted baby; I would have done it earlier if I was a single goblin mother or whatever. Secondly, do goblins live in holes in the forest?

And finally, the card acts like the PCs’ only options are abandoning the baby, taking it into town to find another family for, or adopting it as their own... but I'd put my money on the the PCs going down that mysterious hole. If they don't have any gnomes, halflings, or long-lasting reduce effects now, I'll bet they will in the future. This hole is going on the map.

I’m not thrilled about improvising what’s down the hole, but I’m a sucker for random goblin babies. Keep.

22: The Goblin and the Ogre

On a natural trail through rough terrain, the PCs hear a crashing noise from ahead followed by an ogre. When it spots the PCs, it throws itself at their feet and pleads with them to save it. A goblin comes around the bend, wiggles its fingers at the ogre, and disintegrates it painfully. Then it demands the party's treasure.

The ogre is actually an illusion created by the perfectly ordinary goblin's ring of spell storing. Cute trick, goblin. But, uh, you can only do it once, ever. I hope this scam works out for you!

And look, I know high-level wizards are dangerous, but a single spellcaster is still easy prey for a whole group of opponents, and the PCs know that. They are not surrendering their treasure. In fact, the PCs are never going to surrender their treasure in an encounter like this! They are going to kill this goblin (probably before it has a chance to open its mouth), and they are going to get a free ring of spell storing. Maybe middle-school Monty Haul GM me would have been okay with that, but adult me isn't thrilled. Pass.

23: On the Warpath

Okay, so it’s hilly and lightly forested, and the PCs hear drums in the distance coming over the hill. It’s a group of 20 goblins force marching through the woods, painted for war. They’re on their way somewhere, and won’t notice the PCs unless they attack. Where are they going? :iiam:

I like the mystery, and the fact that it doesn’t force the PCs to fight. Keep.

24: Kobold Raiding Party

A group of kobolds has come to raid a tiny farming community for food, money, and livestock. The PCs are supposed to show up after they’ve already looted and burned two homes, and killed three farmers. They’re well-organized and well-armed (I mean, they’ve got four bows and enough short swords for everyone. That’s pretty good for kobolds). They’ll retreat, grabbing whatever they can carry, if they think they’re outmatched.

The card gives a short description of the layout of the town, which I like - it’s just enough for me to draw some shapes on a piece of paper or whiteboard and say “here’s the animal pens, here’s the meeting area around the well, these are houses, those two are on fire.” I also appreciate that the PCs aren’t forced to stick out their necks any more than they want to. Keep.

25: Ambush

A low-danger monster encounter. Six kobolds from Kobold Raiding Party have... wait a minute, the same kobolds? Why isn't this labeled a Part 1/Part 2 encounter like with the pilgrims?

Anyway, those surviving kobolds have set themselves up on the road, demanding a toll of one silver each, if the PCs refuse they give a show of force and are ready to fight, yada yada.

What’s with all these low-level humanoids in the Deck of Encounters practicing highway robbery? Well, maybe we can build a whole campaign out of this, like the intro claimed. Here's our first setting element: the human kingdom's power has fallen dramatically since its height, and there's either not the military force or the political will to ensure safe travel between distant, well-fortified cities. Rival humanoid mafias control different stretches of road, and paying them is simply an established and accepted cost of travel - it's cheaper and less of a gamble than paying for caravan guards.

Unless that’s an idea I really want to run with, however, pass.

26: Rite of Passage

There’s a bare gnollknoll in the hills, on top of which is a bonfire being fed by six kobolds, and around which are tents and cookfires of more kobolds. Forty-six total. They’re singing and dancing and such, celebrating the rite of passage of ten young males. (They need to run a gauntlet, presumably representing the fact that the universe has it in for kobolds.) The PCs could crash it, of course, but they could also loot the camp while the kobolds are all distracted up on the hill.

I approve of this brief taste of kobold culture. Keep.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 15:42 on Oct 19, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Look, you guys were shouting and clanking around in plate armor. Of course I’m going to draw from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 4: The Deck of Beggars and Bugbears

27: Dispute

The PCs are passing farm houses on either side of the road. There’s some description, but let me cut to the chase - two farmers are feuding over water rights to the stream that passes between their land. It’s not enough to irrigate both, apparently. The situation is on the verge of violence. The farmers ask the PCs to be arbitrators/judges (why them?) and agree to live by their decision.

“There is, unfortunately, no easy decision aside from the use of magic.” I wonder what magic they were thinking of here…?

I like the idea in theory, but there’s zero basis for rendering any kind of judgement, so I can’t imagine the roleplaying that ensues would be too interesting. I’d prefer if each farmer had a different sort of claim, but I’m probably not going to think up anything good off the top of my head. As such, as a random encounter, I’ll pass.

28: The Prince or the Pauper

In the poor area of town, the PCs notice an elven beggar who has no legs. A burly rich dude kicks over his offering bowl maliciously, then tries to shake him off when the beggar grabs his leg.

The beggar is actually an elven prince, and the other man an accomplice, and this is some kind of avant-garde interactive public theater thing (or, in other words, a test of character). If the PCs intervene in defense of the beggar, he will reveal himself to them as Prince ~Thidouris Starmantle~ and say he might have need of their services later. Great, dude, thanks. You could at least have bought us lunch.

Surprisingly, the card does not specify that the disguise was magic and that the prince has functioning legs after all. A Glorfindel-style badass legless F7/W8 elven prince and his brawny aide? I would use those supporting NPCs in a heartbeat. Keep.

29: The Golden Ring

In a quiet, out of the way area in a city, without too many passerby, the PCs notice a ring glinting on the ground. Just as they are (presumably) leaning in to pick it up, a shabbily-dressed guy goes after it too, claiming he was on his way to pawn it to get food for his family and dropped it. He tries to sell it to the PCs for 20 gold. He’s a con-man, obviously, and the ring is copper with a thin gold plating.

I’ve got no complaints. It’d be nice if the encounter gave a ballpark estimate of what such a ring would cost if it was really gold, because that’s the first thing the PCs are going to ask. But keep.

30: Prankster

The PCs wander into a pixie’s glen in the forest. The pixie doesn’t like strangers in general, and is especially militant because someone’s been harvesting pixie wings for dust of disappearing. Of course, the pixie version of being aggressive is to use illusions to make people run into trees while fleeing from bees and such. It’ll giggle audibly if its tricks work. If they reason with it and convince it they’re not wing-harvesters, it’ll “give any PC it has injured a potion of extra-healing. (!)

Sure, that's fine. Keep.

31: The Trees of the Forest

Low-danger monster encounter in the forest. A bugbear has set a trap - a tripwire-activated net... to try to catch its dinner. The PCs came make a Dex-4 check to avoid it, and those that fail have fight at a penalty when it races out to kill them. When they defeat it, they can find its hovel nearby, which has a bunch of weapons and armor that it’s collected, including dwarf-sized plate mail +1 and a long sword +2.

A decent hook, and it’s short and to the point. I'll say ke...


Sigh. I’ll still say keep, but I’m dropping the long sword +2 at the very least, and the +1 dwarf armor is inscribed with highly-visible clan runes that cannot be removed without breaking the enchantment. Sure, dwarf PC, you can totally wear this magic armor you found. It’s not your clan’s, though. Your call, nobody’s forcing your hand.

32: Raiding Party

Not to be confused with #24, Kobold Raiding Party. This is a different raiding party.

Plains with tall grass and small potholes. If the PCs make their WIS-3 check, they notice movement in the grass that’s not from the breeze. It’s a Pokemonfour to eight Bugbears, split off from a raiding party in hopes of finding their own treasure. “The DM can therefore adjust the number of bugbears to fit the abilities of the party.”

At this point, I stopped reading. What? I’m the DM, of course I can adjust the number of bugbears if I want. But no other card has ever given me explicit permission to do so. They’ve just said “there are six bugbears.” Why is this one different? Then I thought, aha! This must be some kind of Gygaxian naturalism thing. Bugbears must ordinarily be found in larger groups! The card must be giving me the “split off from a raiding party” backstory to in order to justify there being fewer bugbears than normal. That’s why it says that I can choose how many there are, when otherwise, it would be unrealistic.

Smug in my RPG insight, I checked the Bugbear entry in the Monstrous Manual. Number appearing: 2-8. So four to eight is, in fact, 100% within the bounds of an ordinary bugbear encounter. :iiam:

Anyway, the bugbears want treasure, they’ll fight until only 25% of them still stand, then they’ll flee. Fine, I guess. I like the tall grass environment, anyway, and it’s good to know that there’s a larger bugbear raiding party around. It means there’s some useful information if the PCs interrogate bugbear captives. Keep.

Apr 21, 2010

You’re in a flying jungle made of fire? Uh… let’s see if I can find anything appropriate in

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 5: The Deck of Cats and Centaurs

33: The Lion's Thorn

Takes place in grassland at least 20 miles from civilization. The PCs notice a bunch of dead lions, camel tracks, and human weapons scattered around an oasis. As they’re taking that in, they notice one of the young male lions “hobbling around, nuzzling some of the dead [ones].” It’s got a few arrows sticking out of it. It growls at the PCs.

Druid or ranger, it’s your time to shine! Animal friendship this lion down or whatever you do, heal it, and get 420 experience points and potentially a lion friend. Keep.

34: Hunters and Hunted

“The PCs may be hired in any city for this adventure.” Uh, I thought this was a random encounter. No? It’s an adventure? OK then...

The PCs are hired by a wizard to go capture a great cat “for research purposes.” They need to bring it back intact. They reach their brush-filled destination and find the animal’s tracks. It’s a smilodon. Soon it pounces on the PCs. They’re supposed to have difficulty because of the thick brush and undergrowth that makes movement and shooting difficult. “The PCs become the hunted and must escape with their lives.”

Unusable as a random encounter, which is what I’m trying to use the deck for. Pass.

35: Catfood

In a deep, beautiful, old growth forest, an elven cat approaches the PCs for food (there’s another one who’s using its tree ability to hang back. If it gets fed something good, the cats will switch places and the other one will come take a turn, too. Then “the cats will guide the PCs through the forest to their destination, keeping them away from the danger spots.” The PCs can try to catch the cats, but they won’t both be out in the open at once, will try to rescue each other, and “all the woodland creatures in this forest will ever thereafter react negatively to the PCs.”

Straightforward fairy cats. I guess it’s a keep.

P.S. XP Awards: “500 for feeding and befriending the cats, 1,300 for killing them (though this is not encouraged.” If you don’t want to encourage the PCs to kill the cats, maybe don’t give them two and a half times as many experience points for doing so?

36: Drunken Centaur

As the PCs enter a village tavern, the proprietor runs to them and asks them to help with a rowdy, drunken centaur adventurer. He’s shouting for more ale, breaking tables, and generally being a 2,000 pound public nuisance. If the PCs help subdue him they get 350 xp and probably a bunch of free drinks, if they kill him it’s just worth 175 xp. Also, the centaur will be extremely chagrined the next morning “and will apologize profusely to everyone involved.” I think that’s cute. Keep.

37: Centaur Vengeance

The PCs hear the sound of galloping hooves. Six centaurs ride up, pissed and with weapons at the ready. They're looking for "the killers of their foals," who came from whatever direction the PCs are going. If the PCs convince them of their innocence, they can send the centaurs on their way or try to join in the hunt.

Um... okay, that's the start of a plot hook, but as a DM, I'm looking for these cards to reduce the amount of entertaining ideas I need to come up with on the spot. Now I've gotta come up with all kinds of stuff. Can't you tell me a little bit about how the foals were killed, so the PCs can go all Phoenix Wright and say "OBJECTION! Our archer uses arrows, not crossbow bolts!" Or a sentence about who killed them and why?

It’s simply lacking too much key info. I think I need to pass.

P.S. I didn’t mention it before, but card #32: Raiding Party said at the end: “If the DM desires, this card may be linked to the Centaur Vengeance card.” I would have preferred if they’d said that on the Centaur Vengeance card. After this encounter, the PCs may wonder “so who killed the centaur kids?” After the Raiding Party encounter, nobody is going to wonder “I wonder if these bugbears killed any centaur kids recently?”

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 18:53 on Oct 21, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

The finest minds of TSR are once again ready to liven up your stagnant, brackish AD&D game with

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 6: The Deck of Date RapistsDryads, Gargoyles, and Ghouls

38: A Charming Day in the Woods

In a calm, lovely, wooded glade. A dryad comes out and presents herself (“assuming that the party contains at least one male”; this dryad is a 0 on the Kinsey scale), offers them rest and comfort, and tries to charm the male with the highest Charisma. She’ll run if threatened. She’s not malicious, just horny. Her tree is not the one in the glen, and under no circumstances will she tell them where it is.

Yep, that sure is a Dryad encounter. Any sex-obsessed twelve-year old DM would be able to run this off the top of their head, without help from this card. Pass.

39: Dryad Love

The villagers in a small farming village are upset, gathered around the edge of a wood but not daring to enter. A young man went too deep inside while hunting & wood gathering, and was charmed by the local dryad. Tracking him down is not hard. The dryad will initially deny he’s there, but again, the tracks are right there. Obviously the guy doesn’t want to go because magic. The dryad will cry when the PCs demand the boy’s return, but I assume they’re crocodile tears? Dryads must know exactly how charm magic works, and the card says she’ll “relinquish her hold on the boy in return for gold or gets (at least 100 gp worth) or a small magical item).” She’ll also try to charm PC males with 16+ Charisma, and dimension door out if there’s danger.

Soooooo, AD&D writers, do dryads do anything besides rape men? No? Just checking. Anyway, deeply-embedded sexism aside, this is marginally more interesting than the previous dryad card. I guess I’ll keep it for that reason.

40: Mistaken Identity, Version 1

At some point after the PCs have been somewhere with gargoyles (the decorative statues), a gargoyle (the animated monster) comes screaming down from the sky, shouting incoherently about revenge. It thinks a PC chipped its wing, but it was actually some vandals. “Despite whatever the PCs tell it, it will not stop attacking until they are dead, or it is.” (The card does remind the DM not to use this unless the PCs have +1 weapons.)

According to the card, you could continue the encounter by bringing in “the creature’s master (an evil wizard) who demands reparation, either in magical items or in service. This is an excellent way to begin a quest!” Is it, though? You think the PCs are going to go along with that when they are 0% at fault? I mean, they might, just to lull the evil wizard into a false sense of security so they can ambush him later. I guess that’s something.

“Creature attacks the PCs and they must fight it to the death” is my least favorite kind of encounter. Pass.

41: Hobbies, Part 1 of 2

In a small village, someone’s been digging up the graves and the folks are kind of freaked out about it. They can’t offer money, just local fame. It’s not hard to find out what’s happening - if you just go to the graveyard at night you see a ghoul digging up the graves. If the PCs kill it, a zombie will show up later looking for it. If they kill the zombie too, nothing else happens.

If they wait and follow, it turns out the ghoul brings the corpses to the home of the village priest. There are other zombies who crawl into fresh graves behind the house as dawn breaks.

...Okay, and? Clearly this did not fit on one card. I disapprove, since I think each card should stand on its own, but let’s see where they’re going with this.

42: Hobbies, Part 2 of 2

If they confront the priest, they find that he’s neutral and has taken up necromancy out of boredom. He controlled the ghoul and used it to help him make some harmless zombies. He promises to keep them on a tight leash. If they threaten to expose him, he will fight, though.

Eh, it’s hard to eke good drama out of an old dude’s hobbies, but I guess I’ll keep it as a quick side-plot. If the PCs let the guy be and come back through town later, there are some easy ways to follow up on it. (The priest is besieged by angry townsfolk! The priest has gone mad! The priest has convinced the town to let their ancestors help them work the fields, and they've set up a zombie-based socialist collective!)

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 17:18 on Oct 22, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

What? You say you’re tired of encountering boring old orcs and goblins all the time? Fine, fine. I’ll liven things up with some much more interesting cards from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 7: The Deck of Gnolls and Hobgoblins

This is just like that KoDT story where Hard 8 Enterprises puts out a megadungeon and, to save time, stocks it with every monster from the Hacklopedia of Beasts in alphabetical order.

43: Consequences, Part 1 of 2

A rough cave in an otherwise quiet hilly terrain houses a large group of 15 gnolls. They've hunted out the area, and are hungry and getting ready to move, but when the PCs wander in they try to ambush them. "Their desperation makes them reckless and they will not break from combat, even in the face of overwhelming odds - after all, they are hungry!"

I can just imagine the tedium at the table. "No, they won't flee or surrender. You've got to fight all fifteen to the death! Haven't you experienced the limitless courage and tenacity that accompanies starvation?" Pass.

44: Consequences, Part 2 of 2

There’s a caravan of humanoids winding across this “empty, desolate plain.” They’re gnoll women (7) and cubs (16). Their males were killed either by a large predator or, if the previous card was used, by the PCs. They’re also starving, but won’t provoke a fight out of fear for the safety of their young. They’ll grudgingly accept help, especially food.

In an AD&D context, with about a million different humanoid races running around, I suppose this encounter is fine. Keep.

P.S. The XP awards here are 245 for killing them, 490 for helping. Are we allergic to round numbers here or something?

45: Gnoll Cubs, Part 1 of 2

Takes place in the foothills, after a rain. The card specifically notes the PCs might slip and get a few grass stains. Verisimilitude!

Anyway, the party crests a hill and sees “seven dog-like, humanoid babies” with no parents in sight. They’re crying. Babies! Puppy babies! :ohdear: They’ll cry more when the PCs approach, because the PCs are scary ape-men.

Then half of the card is spent reminding the DM that killing babies is evil and grants no experience points even though the gnolls “will undoubtedly grow to be evil.” :sigh:

Well, the “Orc Babies” problem is notoriously un-fun, but at least these aren’t the babies of gnolls that the PCs just slaughtered, which makes this an opportunity for heroism rather than a betrayal of the violent premises of the sword-and-sorcery genre. Let’s see where they’re going with this.

P.S. The card gives stats for the babies. Why? I could have worked out that they have no attacks, AC 10, THAC0 20, and no loving magic resistance. I guess MV 3 could potentially be relevant.

46: Gnoll Cubs, Part 2 of 2

Within 400 yards of the first encounter, there’s another hill with “bloodstains decorating the grassy knolls”... and, given the info on the previous card, grass stains decorating the bloody gnolls. :rimshot:

Because, uh, there are 15 dead gnolls here, in two distinct groups with different fashion choices.

One black-furred gnoll is still hanging on, but dying from “large wounds it has sustained in the fighting.” Cure light wounds? No, you can’t heal him, he’s too far gone. Dead? Well no, he’s not dead yet, he’s going to say something. He’s just dying, okay? He’s… poisoned. His enemy’s weapons were poisoned, so he’s going to die any second! ...No, you try, but you can’t cure the poison, either. No, you don’t find any more vials of uncurable super-poison on the dead gnolls. Look, I have a death speech to read, okay?

Anyway the gnoll lives long enough to recognize the PCs as people of honor, because they're carrying 1.5 gnoll babies each on average. He charges them to raise the cubs “in true gnoll fashion” and in return, grants them “the bauble over which the Blacks and the Ears were fighting.” It’s a battle axe +2. Bauble indeed. At least it’s not +1.

You know, I think some groups would be into this. But it’s a little more disruptive than a single goblin baby, and the death speech cutscene leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Jury?

47: Southbound Express

In jagged foothills, the PCs hear echoing feet. A hobgoblin chieftain breaks around a bend in front of them, running south as fast as he can. He doesn’t respond, and doesn’t attack if he’s not forced to - he’s on his own business. He looks grimy but unwinded, and is carrying two long swords +1. (He’s also 4 HD. This being a low-level encounter, he could easily kill some folks in melee with a little luck, if the PCs weren’t going to cast sleep on him.)

Well, it’s kind of pointless, and I hate undifferentiated +1 weapons. But it's easy enough to unenchant this dude's swords, and I do appreciate the stab at demonstrating that the world doesn’t revolve around the PCs. Keep.

48: The Crystal Ball

There’s a woodland cave in the forest, covered by shrubs. It’s still easy to find, though, because there’s clear foot traffic in and out. The two hobgoblins inside recently stole a “globe of multifaceted crystal” in a raid on a nearby village, and are busy trying to “unlock its secrets.” It’s easy to sneak in and surprise them. The globe is nonmagical and worth about 2,000 gp, but it was a symbol of the nearby village, and they certainly won’t be able to sell it there. (Unlike in most villages, which have high demand for 2,000 gp crystal orbs).

Okay… not dangerous, but a nice windfall for the PCs with a possible future plot hook.Keep.

Apr 21, 2010

You only need 50 more XP to level? Alright, before we call it a night, let’s grab something from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 8: The Deck of Horses, Insects, and Imps

49: Bee-Sting

Labeled as a "monster" encounter. A PC's horse is stung repeatedly by a wasp, and they need to make the 2nd Edition version of riding checks to stay on and not get scraped up.

I'm not sure if this is amusingly banal or just incredibly lame, but I'll give them the benefit of the doubt. I mean, at least it wouldn't take much game time away from more interesting stuff. Keep.

50: Grass Fire

The PCs are on a grassy plain, with a stream nearby. The PCs see a large cloud of black smoke on the horizon, then a herd of wild horses galloping straight towards them in a panic! They need to divert the horses or be trampled. And then a grass fire is headed their way as well, though for that one at least there’s the stream at hand (complete with reeds to breathe through. I guess it wouldn’t be too smokey up above?)

I’m a little hesitant because I know nothing about stampedes or brush fires, but I guess all I’d really be looking for is for the PCs to improvise some clever or reasonable-sounding reaction. So yeah, okay, keep.

51: Unbroken

Leaving town, the PCs run into a horse standing on the side of the road. It’s shoed but has no other gear. It’ll allow itself to be fed, but will break and run at any sign of a saddle or rope. If they don’t do that, it’ll start following around the PCs, and if they treat it well for three weeks, it’ll choose a PC to adopt and let them ride it bareback. It’ll also become incredibly loyal, to the point of fighting to save a person.

Who doesn’t like a cool fantasy horse sidekick encounter? Keep.

52: The Swarm

Traveling through a tropical plain, the PCs end up in the path of a swarm of army ants. Basically they need to run fast, or else utilize some good AOE effects that won’t set the plains afire and get them into even more trouble.

The most likely scenario is that the PCs do indeed run, which isn’t particularly interesting in play. However, even if the danger is easily evaded, you can still describe the devastation in the ants' wake, which could be some good environmental flavor. Keep.

53: Buzzed

In the forest, giant wasps attack! Before the PCs can react! And by the way, “this encounter is designed for cockier PCs who believe that no ‘normal’ monster could possibly hurt them.” If they destroy the wasps without anyone being paralyzed and dragged off, “the DM should have more wasps attack. The encounter should force them to go into the wasp’s hive to rescue at least one of their number. The hive will contain at least 3 more giant wasps, regardless of how many the PCs have already faced. Furthermore, this experience will teach them the folly of regarding natural threats as unchallenging.”


Hey, you know what’s a challenging combat encounter? INFINITE NUMBERS OF GIANT WASPS ANYTHING. Have you learned a valuable lesson yet? No? You must need MORE WASPS. Pass pass pass.

P.S. Pass.

54: Malevolent Watcher

The PCs feel like they’re being watched, and will notice a large raven “eying them hungrily.” It’s a polymorphed imp whose wizard master has died and who is traveling around causing mischief. It’ll turn into a spider in the PCs’ sleeping bags, fly over them cawing ominously, use suggestion to turn them against each other, and try to steal their smaller magic items.

Not completely unreasonable, but it seems annoying to the PCs and annoying for me to run. I’d prefer a more concrete scenario rather than just “an imp starts loving with the PCs, lol.” I’ll pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 12:29 on Oct 25, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Barudak posted:

So for this DnD deck of bad encounters, what are you supposed to do if the party is totally out of that difficulty range or way under it?

The cards are labeled as low, medium, or high danger, so there's that. I'm just not usually specifying which they're for in the description.

Apr 21, 2010

Thank you. That helps salve the pain.

And now, having exhausted all opportunities for adventure on this floor, we descend into a lower level of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 8: The Deck of Invisible Stalkers, Immigration Officials, Lizardmen, Lurkers, and Lycanthropes

55: Airy Guardian

So, there's this invisible stalker guarding a passage in a tunnel of some kind. Its orders are to attack anyone who doesn't say the password as they go by, but in a "gently caress you" to its summoner, it has faintly carved the password onto the wall, and tries to draw people's attention to it with ripples of air. It is still "generally annoying" even if you do say the password, tousling hair and clothes and so on. Signs of affection?

This is decent fodder for crazy PC plans and running retreats in the dungeon. I'll keep it.

56: Sign-In

At the gates of a large city. The guards force visitors to sign in as they enter, and list where they’re going to stay in the city. When the PCs do, they may (WIS+3 check) notice “the name of one of their old enemies entered just a few names before theirs.”

It goes on for another long paragraph, but that’s really it. But that’s a fine hook. Keep.

P.S.: “This is an encounter that the DM must adjudicate carefully; the encounter will not work if the PCs have never met an enemy they have not killed.” :black101:

57: Scout's Honor

In a swampy zone, the PCs are being trailed by two lizardman scouts. When the PCs fall when traversing a “narrow, submerged, natural causeway that occasionally gives way,” the lizardfolk take the opportunity to strike. They throw javelins, then submerge themselves until their next attack.

I guess if the PCs are moving through a swamp, this is kind of thing I’d expect to happen. But I really can’t stand forced combat, and the water submerging thing sounds really annoying without some kind of firm mechanical effect. In 4th Edition, keep; here, I suppose I’ll pass.

58: Lurker Above

The PCs are hired in a large city to go to an ex-large city - a place that was razed by a dragon and is now very well-looted ruins. A noble wants them to retrieve a ring that will prove his status and secure some land rights for him somehow. He knows exactly where it should be, since he had a wizard scry for it. It’s in a pile of lurker droppings. The wizard wants the lurker’s gas sacs for a potion of levitation while they’re at it. There’s a good 900 gp worth of other treasure in the lurker’s lair as well.

The deck calls this a “Dungeon” encounter, but really it’s a quest. A Deck of Random Quests would be a different product. If I draw a random encounter in a dungeon, I need to be able to use it in that dungeon. Pass.

59: Disciple

Takes place in a city. “There are three parts to this encounter.” First, a wererat named Wylkin follows the party in rat form and chooses the most rat-like among them (broadly speaking, the smallest). That’s hardly part of an encounter, because the PCs aren’t given the chance to notice him at this point.

Second, Wylkin stalks the PCs for three days, with the PC having a 25% chance of noticing but needing a WIS-6 check to “determine the source.” Uh, okay? Anyway, Wlykin flees if detected.

Finally, Wylkin sneaks into their room at night and tries to gnaw on them to transform them into a wererat. The odds are really not that high, but if he succeeds, he’ll approach them friendly-like and try to mentor them.

Some of the details are awkwardly-written, but sure, keep. I wouldnt be surprised, however, that the PCs fight and capture Wylkin, hear him out, and decide "so I have full control over my transformations, and get a form that's immune to normal weapons? Heck yeah, I'll be a wererat. Gnaw me some more!"

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 19:45 on Oct 25, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

We hack our way through Greek myth in today’s edition of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 9: The Deck of Merpeople, Minotaurs, and Nymphs

60: The Bridegroom

The PCs are on a ship, but hit very stormy weather, and the ship crashes into a large, barren rock. At least let them make some appropriate proficiency check, card! Anyway, later a merman chieftain sticks his head up and offers to aid them if one of them agrees to marry his daughter, who has a curse on her that says she must marry a surface dweller or die. They’ll follow through if someone accepts. “The DM is encouraged to develop this encounter further.” You mean, like, with a merman divorce ceremony as soon as the conditions of the curse are fulfilled? Because that seems like the obvious course of action.

I don’t like the railroading required to get the PCs onto a desert island. I’m not going to destroy the PCs’ ship by fiat just for mermatrimonials. Pass.

61: The Message

An oceanside village does some trading with the merpeople. Since they’ve got a relationship set up, a merman comes to them with a task - they need a message sent VERY QUICKLY to another tribe of merpeople, but the fastest route is over land. Also they don’t write it down or anything, the messenger needs to go in person. The villagers ask these brawny-looking PC strangers if they’ll help transport the mermessenger. If they do they’ll be rewarded with “pearls and rare, expensive shells” with no stated GP value.

Mostly it’s a logistical problem of transporting a water-breather over land. I like that the messenger is both grateful and “resentful of their aid, because his weaknesses are exposed.” Yeah, I’d be pissy too if I was getting toted through a hostile environment in a large tub filled with water floating on the back of a Tenser’s floating disc, or whatever nonsense the PCs come up with. Keep.

62: Labyrinth

“The PCs visit a city controlled by a cruel and unjust tyrant. While there, they commit a minor 'offense' (not bowing low enough to an official, violating curfew, or any similar misdeed). Before the PCs can flee, they are arrested by a superior force and thrown into the intricately constructed labyrinth that serves as the monarch’s prison."

:catstare: This is not a random encounter. This is the plot synopsis for an extremely railroady adventure. Pass.

Oh right, there’s more. Guess what? There’s a maze. Useful spells don’t work. “The maze twists and turns within itself, requiring Intelligence checks to avoid going in circles. Eventually, however, the PCs will reach the center.” THERE ARE NO CONSEQUENCES OR CHOICES. ROLL TO SEE HOW MUCH TEDIUM YOU MUST ENDURE.

At the center is a large cage with a minotaur. “Just as the PCs enter the area, the cage door opens and the minotaur immediately attacks the party.” They’ve got to kill it to escape, and it will never flee because it’s been starved and wants to eat them. Great. Forced combat with no opportunities for evasion, negotiation, or retreat. My favorite.

WAIT THERE’S MORE. When they kill the monster, it shimmers and turns back into a human man. “The PCs have won their freedom, but they should realise that the tyrant will only replace the minotaur with another polymorphed human.” WHO IS THE REAL MONSTER HERE?

The author. Pass again.

63: Shaman

The PCs come across a clean-cut minotaur wearing a medallion being attacked by a group of gnolls. In a cinematic cutscene, the minotaur breaks away, casts entangle on them, and finishes them off. Then it notices the PC. It’ll attack if they’re aggressive, but otherwise will approach the largest, most male-presenting fighter in the party. It seeks a certain rare herb for spells and rituals, and asks them if they’ve seen it but doesn’t otherwise want help from “lesser creatures.” It’s a third-level shaman.

There’s really nothing for the PCs to do here as written, but let them intervene in the fight if they want, and make the minotaur more willing to help reciprocally, and it becomes a little more gameable. Keep.

64: Blinded, Part 1 of 2

The party stumbles on a nymph picking flowers. Save or go blind! Could be worse, she could have been bathing.

If the party is evil, mostly neutral, or threatening, the nymph runs. “If they are good-aligned or have a druid with them,” she apologizes and offers to help them with that blindness and lead them to a “forgotten treasure trove!” …if they go kill five orcs for her. That’s right - five orcs. They’re… camped out over there. Go murder them to progress to Part 2.

65: Blinded, Part 2 of 2

The nymph’s promised treasure trove is in the back of a cave, but there’s an ogre that lives there. Go murder another humanoid, murderhobos! Once that’s done, they find orc bones, filthy leather armor, and “four gleaming short swords” that are +2 but only in the hands of an orc. Do they all have fancy names? (“The runes name Randirist, the Adventurer-cleaver.”) Are these what those five orcs were after? Were they a group of classless, 1-HD orcs on an epic quest? Was this their 0-level DCC funnel, and did we just cause a TPK?

The nymph is like “whoops guess you can’t use the treasure after all lol” and disappears into the forest, then sends a sprite with a 500 gp large gem to give them by way of apology.

I like the Swords of Orc Gondolin, but this is just random humanoid-slaughtering that doesn’t really go anywhere. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 15:07 on Oct 26, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Upon reaching 9th level, a DM will automatically attract the attention of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 10: The Deck of Ogres and Owlbears

66: Ogre Bridge

[sigh] ...look, it’s another bridge over another ravine with another creature standing there demanding a toll. An ogre, in this case. “Though most ogres are reputed to be tremendously stupid, this one seems calm and self assured, with none of the stupid miasma common to many ogres evident in his eyes.” Dude, their intelligence is 8. Talking about “stupid miasma” is pretty harsh.

He’s holding a javelin to throw the minute someone casts a spell, and demands 20 gp a head to cross. He’s “a calm and reasonable ogre,” happy to let them climb, fly, or hike around - he’s laying claim to the bridge rights, and those only.

This is #19: Toll Bridge?, but with an ogre instead of goblins. Not a fan of these toll encounters. They’re just… so… boring. Pass.

67: The Beauty and the Beast

A beautiful wooded dell houses a nymph. As the PCs enter it, she warns them to look away, and if they don't, save vs blindness. She asks them for their help with an ogre who's fallen in love with her. (She's a seventh-level spellcaster with an at-will save-or-suck effect, I think she can handle herself.) The PCs don't actually have much of a choice in the matter, because the ogre immediately comes bellowing in trying to kill them.

Well, this is ham-handed, sexist, and dumb. I do like that if they save her, the nymph "promises to assist them in their own quest." I can only imagine the crazy plans PCs would come up with to abuse her weaponized beauty. But I couldn’t run it without wanting to slap myself in the face. Pass.

68: With a Friend Like This…

In a hilly area near civilization, an ogre, Groog, approaches the party. He wants to be an adventurer. “He just knows he’d be pretty good at it - after all, he’s pretty good at killing things already.” Indeed. He’ll threaten them if he doesn’t let them join. Of course, the card says he’s going to cause trouble, like, all the time, being temper-prone, impetuous, greedy, and possessing repulsive eating habits. Basically it’s telling the DM to punish the PCs for taking him on as a party member.

I suppose that’s acceptably gameable. I wish Groog had a couple of redeeming features as well, though. Let’s say that while he does possess all the above flaws, he’s also deeply grateful to the PCs for giving him a chance, dedicated to becoming a great adventurer, and wise enough to not make the same mistake twice three times. (His dialogue is written like “Groog smash all,” but the card also points out that his Intelligence is 10 - clearly he’s just a beginning CLL (Common Language Learner) and his language skill will improve over time.)

Those modifications in place, I’ll keep it.

69: Owlbear Lair

The PCs have wandered into some owlbears’ territory. Two of them attack the party, fighting until dead. The PCs can find their lair. In the lair are the remains of victims and 200 pp.

It says there can be three immature owlbears in the lair also, if you wish. In stark defiance of everything I know about baby bears and baby owls, the owlbear cubs “are not very cute,” and they will also attack.

Throw this one on the “exactly what I would have run if I’d rolled “2 owlbears on a random encounter table” pile. Pass.

70: Trophy

On the arctic edge of civilization, the PCs hear rumors of a huge, rare arctic owlbear, and are recruited by a big-game hunter to help him hunt it and carry it home (but absolutely not to help fight it, since he’s doing this for the bragging rights). The hunter is “basically a good guy” but talks incessantly about his old hunts. He’s startled when the owlbear attacks, though, slips and hits his head, and falls unconscious.

I’m not sure what motivation the PCs have to go along with this guy besides curiosity, but maybe he can serve as a guide to get them somewhere in return. Besides, they don’t have to take him up on the offer if they don’t want to. Keep.

Apr 21, 2010

Unless you’re specialized, you take a -2/-4 penalty when dual-wielding

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 11: The Deck of People, Polecats, and Rats

71: Heretics

As the PCs move through a high-class area of the city, they see “flickering lights as if from candles flickering around the corners of a poorly-drawn curtain.” When they investigate (because the DM never mentions details like that unless they’re important), they hear chanting and stumble into 10 evil cultists worshipping an illegal evil god. The cultists are surprised, then charge the PCs howling for their death. “The PCs now have an enemy looking for them, in the form of a fanatical, underground religious organization.”

The Enemy Within, it ain’t. Those are some badly-hidden evil cultists. Also, hidden cultist plots tend to fall apart in the face of charm person. I’ll keep this, but make a few changes. The cult is not illegal (that would insult the evil god, which the government does not want to do) - it’s just socially embarrassing, like being a Satanist in the U.S. The cult members are more likely to be verbally defensive than physically aggressive.

72: Town Watch

...I’m going to reproduce this one in full.

Town Watch posted:

Area: This encounter can take place anywhere in town, at any time the PCs are in dire need of assistance. Should disaster befall them on the city streets, this card may be used to extract them from the situation (if that is what the DM desires).

Situation: The DM can use this card to save the PCs when the party has gotten itself into too much trouble. Whether they are being chased by an angry mob, or have been involved in a bar fight with someone who intends to carry it further, this card indicates that the town watch has happened along at a fortuitous moment. The watch is comprised of 2-20 men, each armed with the prevailing weaponry of the district (spears, swords, maces, or whatever weapon the folks this town normally use).

If the PCs are clearly the wrongdoers in this situation, the watch will arrest them and drag them away from the scene. If there is no clear villain in the case, the watchmen make sure that everyone disperses, and they will deal harshly with those who resist their orders.

Quick Stats: Town Watch: MV 9; AC 5; F3, F1 (8); hp 22,7 (a); THACO 18.20; #Att 1; Dmg by weapon MR Nil

What we have here is a fundamental disagreement between me and the author over the purpose of these cards. And not just with me - this card is at odds with the entire rest of the deck so far.

Let’s look at the most repeatable, least detailed card we’ve seen. Maybe #49: Bee Sting? But that’s still a specific thing that happens. I can pick it up during a game, look at it, and say “You’re all riding along peacefully when suddenly, Eliana’s horse rears up in a panic. Roll DEX.” The card introduces a brief scenario to spice up the action and add a little unpredictability.

THIS card is written under the assumption that the card will go back into the deck afterwards - basically that the deck will function as a glorified random table that can be rolled on again and again. But that’s absolutely not the case with most of the other cards in the deck. The PCs in a campaign are not going to encounter two ring of spell storing-packing goblin hustlers (I hope). Even if someone’s horse is stung by a bee twice in one campaign, I would raise an eyebrow as a player.

I don’t get it. I don’t need a card to say that the town watch might show up in town if there’s some kind of disruption. That’s just obvious. Pass.

73: Hunted to Extinction

In the mountains, there are lots of little animal hidey-hole caves around. The PCs notice little eyes peeking at them, and if they remain still, some critters come out to investigate. With an INT-3 check, they can tell they’re not just large ferrets, but feresals, “ferret-like creatures widely believed to be extinct.” There are six in all.

“The PCs can make over 1,000 gp if they bring one to the attention of a local bestiary; they can earn 1,000 XP by allowing the creatures to live in peace.” Well, that was the easiest 1,000 XP ever.

Wonky XP award aside, I guess that’s a reasonable random encounter. I mean, it attributes a modern understanding of taxonomy and species endangerment to PCs who should probably have a less scientific worldview, but that’s AD&D 2E for you. Keep, I suppose.

74: Rat Plague

In a large city, the PCs see a lot more rats than usual scurrying around. As in, they’re ALL OVER. The residents are in a panic. The same thing happened a century ago, when the city “purchased a rare magical item to control the vermin.” The building that houses said item (a ring that works like a potion of animal control with a much wider effect) is now surrounded by hordes of rats, which the card claims the PCs will have to fight through. The card suggests that once they activate the ring, they can lead the rats into a nearby swamp.

There’s a magical solution to the problem, but where are the rats coming from in the first place? Did someone leave the rat faucet on?

There are lots of questions here, but at least they’re entertaining ones. Keep.

By the way, before you get any ideas about stealing this artifact and becoming the RAT LORD OF THE WORLD, “Note that the ring only works within a 5-mile radius of the city.” I guess they must have had it commissioned. Thus, your PC will just have to use their new rat army to rule this city with an iron fist.

75: Knotty Problem

In a tavern, a large rat jumps on the PCs’ table and starts waving its arms. It’s a polymorphed wizard, using pantomime. It has a little necklace of knotted string. If it can be untied (probably by a thief), the spell will be reversed. “The alignment of the wizard is left to the DM's discretion; if good, he might reward the PCs.”

I was on board until the end there. The interactions with the wizard are going to be the most significant part of this encounter; the knotted string is only a hook. I don’t really want to come up with an interesting wizard and a potential reward off the top of my head, card. Pass.

Apr 21, 2010

First, you must declare how many cards you intend to draw from

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 12: The Deck of Sahaugin, Satyrs, Social Norms, and Spells

76: Sea Food

There’s a paragraph of description of a ramshackle coastal town. It’s stormy. When the PCs enter the inn, they find 10 fishermen clutching spears, quite on edge but relieved to see that the visitors are (demi-)human(oid). The village has been getting attacked by sahaugin every time the weather turns stormy. The families are gathered in the inn for protection. Lightning strikes and the sahaugin start coming right about…. Now! (There are 25 of them.)

I’m a sucker for village defense scenarios, so normally I would keep this one even though it’s pretty bland, but, uh... let’s look at the next one, too.

77: Invasion

A village on the sea is being invaded by 15 sahaugin! Yep! Just like last encounter! These ones are renegades, tired of their priestesses always telling them to wait until “the stars are right” to attack the surface-dwellers. They’re just gonna DO it, and when they’re successful everyone will see that they were right.

The card is pretty vague on the details - the villagers will help, but are mostly 0-level NPCs, maybe a couple 1st-level fighters. The sahaugin have a lieutenant who, if killed, will force a morale check. The lieutenant has a pearl-encrusted necklace.

It’s okay. I wish there were one or two more interesting hooks. The only thing going on here other than “monsters attack!” is the sahaugin backstory that will probably not come up unless a PC retroactively decides that one of their bonus languages was sahaugin.

Now, I don’t need two “village is being attacked by sahaugin” cards. So the question is, is it more interesting to run an off-the-cuff attack on a fortified inn, or an off-the-cuff attack on a town where the PCs are going to need to run around more? Or don’t use either? I don’t know. Jury?

78: Satyr, Part 1 of 2

Satyr? I hardly even Okay, so the PCs are travelling in a forest when they hear some cheery piping. Six satyrs and assorted woodland creatures are “having a frolic.” If the PCs can contribute wine, good food, and/or music, they’ll be welcomed to join. Oh, and also they need to leave their weapons outside the clearing. The satyrs are friendly, good conversationalists, and will be “especially attentive to female PCs,” presumably because they were having plenty of male-on-male sex before the PCs arrived and are hoping for a change of pace.

After the night of partying, the card assumes the PCs are all going to drift off to sleep in the clearing. At which point...

79: Satyr, Part 2 of 2

...they wake up and all their weapons and stuff are missing. If they track down the satyrs (which is easy enough), they say they have no idea what happened to them. As the PCs get frustrated, they hear the giggling of the real perps, three fremlin. They come out and admit they took the stuff just to see if the PCs have a sense of humor. (When it comes to their equipment, I’m 100% certain they do not.) They’ll return the stuff for a bribe of food.

Works for me. It’s just a satyr party that could be a good character moment for some of the PCs. And if they’re careful with their equipment, I’d ignore this second part. Keep.

80: Local Taboos

This is just like Town Watch: a crime against random encounter cards. To paraphrase, it says that the PCs run afoul of some local custom of some kind, and get in trouble! Maybe they’ll be able to appeal their case to someone reasonable. Or maybe not? There are probably some punishments, like getting scolded... or perhaps getting killed!

Yes, thank you. That’s absolutely worthless to me as a random encounter card. It’s not even useful to me in adventure planning. It even has the gall to say “This is a card that can be used repeatedly, whenever the DM wants to get the PCs into a small bit of trouble.” I’m the DM - I don’t need your permission to introduce local customs! Unless they mean I can brandish this card like a cudgel and say “no, you totally just screwed up a local custom and are in big trouble. See? I drew this card that says so! :smug:Pass.

81: The Talking Tree

There’s some nice scenic description at the start of this card, ending in an old abandoned trail that used to lead into a forest, but is now overgrown past a certain point. Walk to the end of the trail, and the magic mouth spell on the tree there announces “This is the cursed forest of Arnjil the Doomed. Doom and despair are the lot of all who enter here. Turn back now, else abandon hope and die.” If you move away and come back, it’ll repeat the message - a 16th-level wizard blew a point of CON to permanency this. Odd - most wizards would have just burned down the forest if they had a problem with it.

That’s a plot hook, but now I have to make all kinds of forest-related decisions. :effort: Please understand, Deck of Encounters! I bought you to do the heavy lifting for me! Pass.

Apr 21, 2010

Angrymog posted:

My box is volume two - do you have that and plan to cover it?

Not necessarily. This is the one that I owned and used as a kid, after all. Also, I'm a few hundred cards in to these reviews, and my will to live is waning.

Why, are you volunteering? :allears:

Apr 21, 2010

Kaza42 posted:

Conceptually, the second one is better. It's more open, and can lead to better traps/barricades that make town defense interesting. However, unless the card provides you with actual information on the layout of the town and the villagers, it's more work. In that case, I'd stick with the first one. A quick "fortified inn" map is easier to put together, and still leads to a decent defense system when you have to defend the noncombatants in the middle/upstairs.

Yeah, good point. That was one of the strengths if the other "village attack" card so far, the Kobold Raiding Party. It gave you a good idea of the town layout and current situation. Lacking thst, it would be hard to make the town attack clear and engaging.

Apr 21, 2010

Your home-brewed encounters may be lame, but after acquiring 20,000 EXP and 40,000 gp worth of rare spell components, they can undergo a ritual that will transform them into

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 13: The Deck of Small Children, Skeletons, and Spiders

82: The Follies of Youth

In a town where the PCs are known as heroes or prestigious adventurers (or at least where they’ve boasted as such), a small girl comes running to them just as they’re setting out. Her name is Katie, and she has a backpack full of what is, no doubt, incredibly awesome and useful equipment, and she insists on coming with the PCs. If they just tell her she can’t, she’ll try to follow them anyway. The card says the best course of action is to find out where she lives and drag her home immediately. If badly handled, they’ll “earn themselves the hatred of one small girl.” Keep for that phrase alone.

83: A Bone in the Throat

A weird mini-set-piece combat in a dungeon. Outside a heavy door in a 100-foot hallway, there’s a skeleton with all its limbs shackled to the door by light chains. When the PCs get 30 feet away it jerks to life, tries to head toward them but can only go 5 feet, then starts firing its knuckles and fingers at them! They’re magic missiles, basically - unerring and dealing 1d4+1 damage, and it can fire two per round. Turning is ineffective because it has nowhere to flee.

Well, if you’re going to fight a single skeleton in a dungeon, it may as well be a bizarre rocket-punching one! Keep.

84: A Skeleton in the Closet

In “an unoccupied dungeon room big enough to hold four skeletons,” there are... four skeletons. They’re standing motionlessly around a chest, holding broadswords, and wearing ruby pendants. They’ll only fight if someone gets within 5 feet or attacks them. The ruby pendants are engraved with the symbol of an evil god, and make the skeletons difficult to turn (as wraiths).

In the chest is 300 gp of treasure, and a dagger +1, +2 vs tiny or small creatures. Nice, that’ll come in handy when the PCs take that quest to collect 7 rat tails. Oh, and other than making these (extremely fragile, AC 7, 4 HP) skeletons highly resistant to turning, “the pendants are otherwise worthless.” Aren’t they set with rubies?

There’s almost something interesting here, but in the end, it’s just four skeletons guarding a treasure chest. I’d rather have a room that’s an anti-turning pendant factory, with skeletons working assembly-line style and one of them at the end praying to the evil god entirely in tooth-chattering noises. Pass.

85: Bad to the Bone

Near a graveyard, in a large city. The graveyard is “poorly maintained,” to the point of having “open, ravaged pits where graverobbers have carelessly left the souvenirs of their trade lying about.”

As the PCs walk by, six skeletons with rusted long swords leap up and attack. The swords “carry tetanus, which can cause gangrene.” With rules for that included, of course.

Meh. It’s a “boring creatures attack in a normal way in their normal environment” encounter. I do like the implicit story that these skeletons drove away or killed some graverobbers, and now are salty towards life in general, but it’s not quite enough for me. Pass.

86: Step Into My Parlor

In a steamy tropical swamp that seems alien and dangerous, the PCs find “a relatively high, flat piece of ground, a seeming ‘oasis’ of safety in the swamp.” Then four giant trap door spiders leap out and attack them. “If the characters seem to be winning too easily, the sounds of battle can draw other swamp dwellers to the scene.” You know, large alligators or whatever. The stuff of legends.

There’s not much here. Is the staging enough to justify this card’s existence over simply rolling “giant trap door spiders” on a random table? I think not. Pass.

87: Sword Strokes

While in a jungle, a sword spider attacks one of the PCs at random! I’m sure that’ll end well for it. Good hunting instincts. [/sarcasm] The rest of the card is just the spider’s tactics, which are... not interesting. (Drag away a dead person quickly! Finish off a wounded person! Retreat if there’s danger!) There’s no content here to speak of. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 20:36 on Oct 30, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Prism posted:

In 2E who the hell knows, did it even have proper grapple rules?

Of course it did. Comprehensive, intuitive ones that were a pleasure to use in play.

Apr 21, 2010

A fallen paladin can atone and redeem themselves by praying before

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 14: The Deck of Sprites, Stones, Tritons, and Troglodytes

Try to keep your expectations extra low for this batch, folks. :smith:

88: Slumber Party

The PCs hear snoring in a lovely meadow. It’s six orcs deep in magical slumber. Investigation will turn up tiny arrows, which druids and rangers will recognize as those used by sprites. The sprites are still around, watching invisibly. If the PCs kill the orcs, the sprites get upset but don’t attack; if a ranger or druid addresses them, the sprites’ spokesperson just asks them to leave.

So there are no interesting choices or interactions for the PCs here at all? Is that what we’re saying? Then I’m not going to bother. Pass.

89: Swimming Hole

The PCs are approaching a lake. “The DM should emphasize that the area is peaceful and serene, with no dangers anywhere apparent,” because the DM really wants the players to never trust them again. There are 40 nixies in the pool who try to charm four PCs and lure them into the water to serve them for a year. Other party members might be able to trade favors/mini-quests to the nixies to get party members back.

A by-the-book nixie encounter. Is there value in just reminding me that nixies exist and that this is what they do? Not enough, no. Pass.

90: Intruders

A storm hits the PCs’ ship and blows it into triton territory. Seven of them will ride up on giant sea horses and interrogate the PCs round-robin style (they’re fairly democratic, apparently, with no firm leader). “The characters will need to exercise all of the charm and diplomatic skill they possess to avoid being stripped of ail their possessions and set adrift, at the mercy of the sea.”

Other than the storm by fiat, this is another straight-out-of-the-MM encounter. Also, it has false tension - after arbitrarily declaring that the PCs’ ship has been blown off course, is the DM really going to be such a dick that the tritons won’t just let the PCs go in the end? Talking their way out just feels like a chore for the PCs and the DM. Pass.

91: A Light in the Darkness

Camping in a forest at night, a PC might notice light coming from the west. It’s a steady glow. They find it in the hands of a skeleton outside the mouth of the cave. It’s a stone with continual light cast on it, that AD&D flashlight-replacing staple of adventurers and anachronistic fantasy city streetlamps.

“What the cave might hold is something for the DM to decide. It might lead into mysterious dungeons, be a secret passage to the castle of the local noble, or simply be an old bear cave, the bear having moved on months ago.”

So… basically there’s no encounter at all. No gameplay besides “the PCs pick up a rock.” The card is saying, “hey, you could put something interesting in front of the PCs now! Or not. Whatever.” Pass.

92: Ambush

Not to be confused with #25: Ambush. This is a different ambush.

Anyway, there’s a mountain pass, and the PCs are attacked by 16 camouflaged troglodytes. If the PCs kill more than half, they’ll retreat, but will probably attack again, “coming in increasing numbers.” They’ll use rockslides if necessary. The PCs are supposed to realize that they should probably book it out of the mountains.

Per the Monstrous Manual, “Their favorite tactic is to pick a well-trod mountain or subterranean path and then use their chameleon power to blend in with the surrounding rocks.” So this card is just telling me that troglodytes attack, in their favored terrain, using their favored tactics. :sigh: Pass.

Apr 21, 2010

You may not utilize card-based random encounters unless you have proficiency with

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 15: The Deck of Undead, Unnecessarily Annoying Bullshit, and Unicorns

These next three cards could all be R.L. Stine book titles. And just a day late for Halloween...

93: Zombie Zoo

A secret collector of zombie animals (?) has allowed his collection to break free, and they’re roaming the streets of a walled city. Five zombie dogs, six zombie cats, and a zombie wolf.

The card intends for the PCs to be the ones personally responsible for cleaning up the situation (being hired by the city, or just out of the Lawful Goodness of their hearts), but I don’t see that that’s necessary. It can just be something that’s the talk of the town if the PCs don’t want to get involved. There’s a nice plot hook at the end, that having lost his collection, “their creator may decide to start creating more ‘interesting’ zombies.” Keep.

94: Lost My Head

In a tavern in a small town, the townsfolk are telling tall tales about evil creatures. If the PCs don’t seem to take them seriously, they mention “Ol’ Headless,” the town’s very own monster. The innkeeper rebukes them. That night, they see a headless zombie wandering through the streets, bumping into things as it looks for its head. If they try to attack it, the innkeeper runs out and shouts at them to stop. It’s sort of a good-luck charm.

Yeah… okay, sure. That might build a little bit of player fondness for the town. Keep.

95: The Repulsive Ring

Okay. So. There’s a 10x10 room with a square table in the middle and an open window (leading to…?) on the far end. On the table is a ring, which is worthless, but has continual light on it, so it looks like it could be magic and important. Another spell that’s been cast on it? Avoidance. If someone reaches for the ring, it bounces off the table and “hovers in the air,” actually on an invisible plank that leads to the window.


If the PCs lunge for the ring, it will bounce out the window and be lost. Even if they get it off the plank, the PCs can’t pick it up, since their hands are turned aside a foot away. If they get it in a bag, the ring inside will still be repelled by them. They can dispel it, but “if they cast this spell, both the avoidance spell and continual light will be lost; the ring is worth only 5 sp without the spells.” Yes, because it’s clearly extremely valuable as it is now.

The reward for getting the ring? A paltry 100 xp. The real treasure is the feeling of satisfaction you get when you slug your DM in the face for pulling this annoying, pointless bullshit. Pass.

96: Buried Treasure

At a rural crossroad between farms, with an oak tree growing. “Ideally, the PCs should have recently left a village where all the talk has been of a vampire that was slain and buried at a crossroads outside of town.” (Because that prevents them from rising again.) Annoying setup, but at least the card is labeled an “urban” encounter, so presumably I would have drawn it in town and planted those rumors then.

They see that a patch of earth has been disturbed. Buried underneath is a beheaded, staked body. And buried under that is a chest with the name “Nathaniel” on it with some coinage and an emerald.

It’s not a vampire, it’s part of a “plot” by local miserly farmer Nathaniel. “He buried his chest under a traveler he murdered. He then spread the rumor” about the vampire.

What? He did that so… people wouldn’t dig up the chest? Why not just… bury it somewhere else? And his name is on it? Either I’m missing something, or this is complete nonsense. Pass.

97: A Friend in Need

The encounter takes place “in a small forest clearing, close to a road.” A small forest fire has started in “a large section of very old, dry forest.” A unicorn who hasn’t been able to put it out comes to the PCs for help, because apparently it’s been observing them for kicks before the fire started, and has, “one hopes,” found them “respectful of the forest.” Even though they’ve just been traveling down a road, apparently?

Then there are weird mechanics for how long it takes PCs to fight the fire and how much damage they take doing so, even though it also says they’re going to need a plan to fight it at all. And if they don’t help, a lot of the forest will burn down and the unicorn will vow revenge on them personally, attacking them later for their “malicious indifference.” Dude, aren’t wildfires a natural part of the forest ecology?

I dunno about this one. It doesn’t seem to hang together. Pass.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 15:20 on Nov 1, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Joe Slowboat posted:

See, I found the invisible 2x4 the point at which it went from 'humorous wizard prank' (a ring with Avoidance and Continual Light is an amusing object for about five minutes) to 'why would you ever do this'

Yeah, that was the exact moment I suddenly became irrationally angry. If the ring just bounced around the room, or even out of the room into the hall, thus potentially alerting monsters, I might have looked more kindly upon it.

Point taken about the invisible plank, though. Clearly I'm not thinking enough like a player.

Apr 21, 2010

Floating in the Ethereal is the infamous Demiplane of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 16: The Deck of Mystery and Marching Bands

We’ve reached a milestone! No Wyverns, Xorns, or, Zaratans at the moment - that Unicorn encounter was the last of the alphabetical monster encounter cards. What wonders might occur next? Even I do not know. That’s the beauty of... the Deck of Encounters.

98: Dangerous Crossing

There’s a huge, 50-foot deep chasm in a sparsely-travelled region. And obviously there’s a rickety little bridge going over it that hasn’t been maintained for decades but is ready to start breaking apart right now when the PCs put more than 1000 pounds of weight on it (“a light horse and a rider,” says the text). At least it doesn’t collapse immediately unless there’s more than 1250 pounds (a fat horse and a rider, or a light horse and a fat rider).

Wholly uninteresting. Pass.

99: The Talking Well

A town square, surrounded by shops but feeling strangely empty. There’s a covered stone well in the center. A talking frog (escaped magical experiment) fell down it and can’t get out. When he called up to the townsfolk, they thought the well was haunted, even though the things he’s calling up are “could one of you please lower the bucket?” and so on. In fact, the card says the PCs should save vs Paralysis (at +4) or flee when they hear the voice echoing out of the well! That seems fairly ridiculous.

The main question here is, do you want to introduce a powerless but talking frog as a NPC? For the kind of goofy AD&D 2E campaign implied by many of these cards, I’m leaning towards “yes.” Keep.

100: The Marching Band

There’s a dungeon corridor with a silver and gold (marching) baton stuck upright in the middle of the hall. If the PCs pick it up, two portals open, one on each wall, and a 20th-century marching band starts walking out of one and through the other, playing music. Sharp-eyed observers will notice that any given performer reappears out of the first portal about five rounds after leaving through the second.

Okay, you say, that’s ordinary enough. Happens all the time. But here’s where it gets weird.

The Marching Band posted:

If the PCs try to move through the strange band, they must each make a Dexterity check at -4. If they succeed, they manage to force their way through the crowd; if they fail, they are forced into the right-hand portal. Only their bodies go through the portal. Their minds are instantly transported into the body of one of the band members. The PCs can continue through the crowd, but must make a Dexterity check at -8. Each time the body passes through the portal, their minds are transported into a new body. It takes 1d20 rounds to get back into the original body, and the PCs may force their way through the crowd without further danger of being forced through the portal. Any borrowed body eventually reverts to the PC's old body.

What? What? :psyduck: This is almost like something out of Anomalous Subsurface Environment, which I love, but it’s even more gonzo and is executed incredibly awkwardly, confusingly, and somehow with no consequences whatsoever. Pass, because there’s no way in hell I’d actually run this, and I’m not even sure I understand it. But at least it’s not boring.

101: Wrapped Around Your Finger

There’s a heavily travelled road with drainage ditches along the side. The PCs notice a glint of metal down in said ditch. It looks like it’s gold, but is actually copper plated with a thin veneer gold and is worthless.

The card goes on and on about how the gold will chip off if the PCs wear it, how they might think it’s magic but it’s not, how they could unscrupulously try to unload it onto a “self-important merchant” on the road, etc. Yes, I know - all of that follows logically from the existence of a gilded ring. They even add a “Quick Stats” subheading (usually reserved for monsters) to repeat that “The ring has no redeeming characteristics, it is perfectly ordinary and quite worthless.”

Pass, as protest against the incredibly inflated wordcount. Besides, we already did this schtick back in 29: The Golden Ring.

Apr 21, 2010

JcDent posted:

Come on, that frog could go on to have such a rich backstory! Maybe it could even help you raid the scientist that made it!

Also, frogs are kinda cute anyways.
You're preaching to the choir here; all of us seem on board with the frog encounter. :getin:

Freaking Crumbum posted:

also I feel like nearly every one of those D&D encounter cards needs some kind of clear goal or objective or reward to really work.

talking frog example - "REWARD: If the players free the talking frog from his prison, he tips them off to the secret stash of alchemical potions the wizard that created him keeps under an inconspicuous tree stump 50 yards behind his laboratory".

just something to give the players a reason to even stop and interact with the vignette. if I was a player and my DM was leaning on these to heavily pad out an adventure, after a few I'd just start hard passing on them because most don't even seem like they'd reward any XP for completion, let alone any kind of tangible reward.
Every card does actually have a listed XP reward for solving/overcoming/defeating it - I'm sorry I didn't make that clear. It's just that I've only been mentioning it if something really catches my eye, like the one with the elven cats where you got a lot more XP for murdering them than feeding them. I've been skipping over danger level, terrain, etc as well, since usually that's all self-evident.

Personally, though, I'm more into open-ended encounters than objective-based ones. As long as there's enough info for me, the DM, to run with, of course.

Apr 21, 2010

Bieeardo posted:

I like your version better, but these goofy things were canon at one point.

Canon all through 2nd Edition at the least, as Skills and Powers had an Elven racial power that let you have either a cooshee or an elven cat as a pet.

Sadly, Elven Parrot, Elven Goldfish, and Elven Gerbil weren't options.

Apr 21, 2010

And there was a great lamentation among the people, and they cried out, “Talking frogs! We need more talking frog encounters!” And lo, their prayers were answered, by

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 17: The Deck of Fairy Tales

102: To Kiss a Frog, Version 1

So there’s a frog in a swamp, staring at the PCs intently. If they notice it (with a Wisdom check), she’ll explain that she’s the daughter of a duke, turned into a frog, and needs to be kissed to return to her original form. She can’t promise a reward, though, since the duchy is very poor. Actually she’s a peasant woman who angered a witch, and couldn’t get passerby to kiss her, so she made up a more appealing story. She hopes they’ll forgive her for the deception.

Uh, sure. I suppose it’s an interesting enough quick diversion, and we can keep it. That WIsdom check is totally unnecessary, though. No way is the DM going to secretly make those rolls, see that they failed, and declare “No encounter happens. Carry on.”

103: To Kiss a Frog, Version 2

There’s a frog in a foul-smelling swamp. It’s gross. It belches and explains that he’s a prince turned into a frog, just like in that fairy tale, and if one of them will “plant one right on me ol’ kisser,” it’ll reward them when it turns back. If it weasels kisses out of the PCs, it jumps away calling out “Suckers!”

Keep. Why not?

104: Dwarven Nightmare

In a lightly forested area, near a swamp at the base of some hills where there are mines. The PCs see four trolls march out from the swamps carrying picks and shovels, and singing a dwarven marching song. They are actually dwarves polymorphed into trolls. The rest of the dwarves were killed by an attacking wizard’s magic; these four lived but “were not quite fast enough to escape all of the effects [of the wizard’s spells].” Uh… okay? Why was this wizard trying to transform their opponents into larger, more dangerous creatures? Let’s just say it was a wild mage and move on.

The trolls dwarves trolls of dwarven heritage have no real business with the PCs or vice-versa, but they’ll chat and tell their story. Random, and there’s not much PC engagement, but it adds a little color to the world. I’ll keep it.

P.S.: XP rewards: “5,600 for killing the trolls, 1,500 for not jumping right into combat.” Optimal PC behavior: don’t jump right into combat, listen to the trolls’ story, and then kill them all.

105: Paladin Trolls

But not dwarven paladin trolls; that would defy several highly important laws of nature.

Near a small hilly village, the PCs see four humans, grunting and clutching chunks of meat, running from two trolls, who are shouting at them to stop. “Stop those trolls!” they shout, while refusing to explain things more clearly. Two paladins were fighting four trolls who had eaten some peasants, when some random wild magic switched their forms, like it does, I guess. That’s the whole situation.

Two “polymorphed into trolls” encounters are one too many. This one loses because you have to hack away at completely harmless humans with 43 HP each, which would be tedious. Pass.

106: Mistaken Identity, Version 2

When the PCs come to a new village, a large angry crowd turns out to meet them, saying “how dare you come back here after what you did” and so on. A group of con artists had previously seen the PCs, “developed masks that resembled the PCs faces” (!) and pretended to be them while scamming this village.

I’m... gonna assume that there was some magic involved in these masks. And why would you steal the identities of a bunch of heavily-armed, notably violent, magic-wielding roaming adventurers? Surely there are less dangerous choices!

Also, I appreciate the premise, but without further development this card is boring. Now I need to figure out who these con artists are and what they’re doing, and make it entertaining rather than just “Hey, you! Stop doing that!” . Too much work for me. Pass.

Apr 21, 2010

Why would you play in Dark Sun, Al-Qadim, Spelljammer, or Planescape when you could be in a bog-standard fantasy realm and utilize

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 18: The Deck of NPCs

107: The Near-Sighted Paladin

Just after leaving town, a paladin (Kelvran Orcsbane, Level 7) rides up from behind the PCs and produces a warrant for the arrest of a gang of bandits working for the Witch Queen. The descriptions are similar to the PCs but different in details. As per the card title, the dude’s eyesight is bad and he knows it, so it probably won’t be that hard to talk him down.

I like this well enough, since it gives me a reason to whip up a set of evil PC semi-dopplegangers and have them show up at some later date… but I also don’t need to be creative right now, on the spot. Keep.

108: The Little Runaways

Everyone’s gathered in the late evening in the town square of a little rural town, because two boys have gone missing. Search parties are being organized. The PCs may participate, in which case they just happen to find the kids (well, with a successful Wisdom-2 check); they fell down a ravine and one broke his leg and was knocked unconscious.

A totally ordinary encounter that gives a chance for the PCs to become a little invested in a town. I’ll keep it.

109: Frame

As the PCs enter a village square, there’s a speaker firing up a mob to go after an accused murderer. The PCs can come along to join this posse, which fans out into the forest (where apparently they know this guy is hiding?) Four successful Tracking proficiency checks in a row (the first one at -3! Yeesh!) lets a PC find them. He says he was framed by the speaker, earlier, but can’t prove it. The PCs need to decide what to do. “Gramad abides by their decision.”

Wait, who’s Gramad? Oh, apparently that’s the accused man, because that’s the name on the stat block at the end of the card. Well, I’ll tell you what - I’m playing Gramad as The Dude from the Big Lebowski, and I now like this encounter 100% better. Keep.

“Gramad abides. I don't know about you but I take comfort in that. It's good knowin' he's out there. Gramad. Takin' 'er easy for all us sinners.”

I’d tone down those Tracking checks, though.

110: The Hit, Part 1 of 2

A crowded city square. A local government representative of whatever type is appropriate is giving a speech behind a dias, his voice magically amplified. Everybody gets to make a Wisdom check to notice a shadow figure on a building nearby aiming a heavy crossbow at the mayor/regent/whatever, and they get one single round to do something about it. If the assassin isn’t stopped, they’ll shoot the politician through the throat (and gain a lot of NPC experience points). Keep.

111: The Hit, Part 2 of 2

If the PCs foiled the assassination attempt, the mayor (or whatever) gives a feast in their honor… though really there’s not much attention paid to them. It’s more of a political event “to thank his benefactors.” It’s in an outdoor amphitheater, with guards posted all around the rim.

“The PC who was most instrumental in saving the mayor’s life is seated next to a shifty-eyed individual,” who is of course an assassin who tries to slip poison in their food. Even assuming all PCs aren’t already starting fixedly at this person from the very moment the DM described them as “shifty-eyed,” all they need is a Wisdom check to spot this attempt.

Seriously, assassin’s guild (or whoever)? Why would you send good assassins after bad? These are dangerous adventurers! What’s the point of trying to kill one of them and maybe drawing their wrath down on you? And why did you deploy Frank for this mission, everybody knows he’s got shifty eyes! (To be fair, this guy is just a level 1 Thief - maybe they’re simply bad assassins.)

Here’s what I do like about the encounter: obviously if the PCs waste this assassin in the middle of the political fundraiser, whatever political goodwill they’ve gained will swiftly evaporate. The mayor is going to just want them out of his life before they murderhobo it up further. It’s possible the PCs could even parlay that into something they want. Or, if they’re smarter about dealing with the assassin, they could build a closer relationship with the mayor. None of this is suggested in the card, of course, but it could lead into good gameplay. Keep.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 13:57 on Nov 4, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

Suddenly and with no reason, you are attacked by a swarm of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 19: The Deck of Hitchcock Movies and Supervillains

112: Birds of a Feather

This can happen anywhere, but ideally when the PCs are out in the open but have access to cover within running distance.
Sometime when the PCs are out in the open…. a swarm of three hundred sparrows! They swoop in to peck them to death, gain altitude, then come back for another go. 1d12 damage (save vs petrification for ½ damage) for three rounds until the PCs reach cover. Or, if they throw themselves flat on the ground and crawl, 1d4 damage for 8 rounds. (For reference, that’s 20 base damage instead of 19.5. It’s a worse deal even if the DM still allows you to roll saving throws on the ground.) Once the PCs reach cover, The Birds lose interest.

“The DM can link this into a campaign or leave as [sic] an unsolved mystery.”

Birds attack, everyone dies. Don’t be this DM. Pass.

113: The Fishing Dispute

Two fishermen are in a feud arising from fishing competitiveness. When the PCs show up, first one, then the other accuses them of being hirelings in the employ of their rival.

“The PCs can try to talk to the two combatants, but there is little chance that they will see reason.” Okay. Any suggestions about how the PCs might get involved, then? Or any reasons why they’d want to? No? Then Pass.

114: The Highwayman

On a twisting road between rocky mounds and wooded hills, a good twenty arrows strike around the PCs, and a Robin-Hood-looking highwayman demands that they throw down their valuables. They’ll fire another warning volley if the PCs start to draw weapons or anything.

Actually it’s all an illusion. The guy is an illusionist (level 3). He’s got a scroll of [invisibility[/i] if he needs to make an escape.

Conceptually, this is exactly the same as #23: The Goblin and the Ogre. It’s less memorable, but it’s also not handing the PCs a free ring of spell storing. So keep? I dunno. Maybe I should have just kept the earlier one and declared that the goblin was an illusionist?

115: The Speedster

Okay, brace yourself.

The PCs are in an uncrowded street when something streaks by and they’re hit with a sonic boom (2d6 damage, save for half). It is, I poo poo you not, an elven thief (level 10) under the effects of boots of speed, a potion of speed, and a haste spell, all of which explicitly stack according to this encounter card. (As an elf, he just sucks up the two years of aging from haste whenever he does this. The question of who is creating the potions of speed and casting haste is not addressed.) Per the text: “the combination of these items gives him a movement rate of 96; when he runs, his movement rate increases to 480.” Which is faster than the speed of sound, apparently?

Guards come running after him. They’ll let the PCs know that this guy is wanted - there’s a 10,000 gp reward (!) on his head. Well, that’s motivating! And the text assures us that not only will the city pay, they’ll give the PCs a medal. “If interested, the party must discover how to capture the thief.”

So suddenly this AD&D game is going to be a Batman comic for a little while. This is incredibly dumb, but hey, I’m amused. If this didn’t set a precedent that you can break the sound barrier using magic items straight from the DMG (the rarer of which you can loot from this very encounter), I might keep it. Should I just go full superhero comic and say “yeah, this elf is Hermes’s grandkid, only he can move this fast” or something? Jury?

P.S.: The elf’s name is Benjath Yoansen, but I think he needs a better supervillain name. Thoughts?

116: On the Wings of Eagles

In the jewelers’ and moneylenders’ section of a city, which has lots of guards and magical alarms. The PCs are there for whatever reason, and get to make Wisdom checks to notice someone stop outside a jeweler’s shop, surreptitiously chug a flask, and go in. Then in a couple minutes alarms go off, guards run towards the shop, and the thief flies out carrying a bag of jewels. The PCs will get a 5,000 gp reward if they catch him. The thief is 9th level and carries six potions of flying, a ring of feather falling, and a ring of jumping. (Are the rings really necessary?)

Back-to-back with the last encounter, it’s another comic book supervillain in our AD&D game! But I find this one less fun than the last. “Benjath Yoansen” moves at absurd speeds, which means the PCs would have to lay a trap for him. This guy is just flying at a speed of 18, which means a mage on the ground should have time to cast a hold spell on him or whatever and call it a day. But if I’m not willing to indulge myself with the previous encounter, I suppose I might keep this one as a consolation prize.

P.S.: The thief’s name this time is Fliegen. That’s an appropriately comic book-y given name for a guy who flies, but we need a supervillain name for him, too.

Apr 21, 2010

Oh my god.

Apr 21, 2010

Hostile V posted:

I'd keep Elven McGofast because when faced with a situation like that you're gonna end up getting some good creativity out of the players trying to figure out a solution to catching him.

Oh, I agree as far as that goes. It's just unacceptable for his speed to be due to the reasons listed - if it is, the rest of the campaign is going to be about the DM finding excuses why the PCs can't possibly find or create any potions of speed, or get a copy of the spell haste.

Apr 21, 2010

Robindaybird posted:

These quick encounter cards feel more like they're plot generators, which isn't a bad thing especially if you're short a player or two, but not what it's intended for.

Some of them feel that way, yeah. Luckily, if your problem is that you have too many players who want to be in your game, they have cards like Birds of a Feather that will solve that, too.

Apr 21, 2010

You are magically compelled to

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 20: The Deck of Normal People and Hunting Gods

117: The Contract

There’s a bard entertaining in a crowded bar, directing her songs toward the PCs. She’s an assassin. After her set, she’ll order a pitcher of wine for their table and bribe the serving boy to slip powder into it. She’ll take a pre-emptive antidote for the Type K poison (onset 1-4 minutes, 20 damage/death). After sharing a drink with them, she’ll leave to work the bar for tips, and slip out the back.

“The PCs may make a wisdom check to notice that the wine seems a little murky, but what they choose to make of this is up to them.” News flash - if anything is notable about a drink after some kind of check, the PCs ain’t drinking it.

So this seems fine. The PCs won’t die if you let them notice the wine, and the anger they feel at their assassin-hiring enemies will help drive them forward. Keep.

118: The Wild Hunt

Near some standing stones in the forest, during stormy weather. Lightning strikes the stones, knocking PCs to the ground unless they make a Strength check (note: this doesn’t matter at all). When their eyes clear they see a tall, dark-skinned man with an antlered helmet, with dogs with flaming eyes and tongues. Anyone with a good alignment needs to save or join in the hunt. They’ll run without tiring, “though it all seems dream-like later.”

The hunt falls on a group of 30 travellers who wear an evil god’s sigil, including a level 14 evil cleric, and they fight. Nice and folkloric, though I don’t usually think of fairie hunts as a good vs evil thing. Keep, though I would probably give the good-aligned PCs a choice rather than make it a save-based effect.

119: Charlatan

A local thief in a small town tried to steal from a wizard and got cursed with a babble spell. Aaaaaand also permanency. The people decided that she’s touched by the gods, and she’s been milking it for all its worth. She’ll still try to steal from the PCs when they visit, but if they notice and take action against her, the villagers will drive them out of town. They’ll also be annoyed if someone removes thebabble spell, “thinking that this means that the gods no longer smile upon them.” Not many interesting PC choices here, but keep.

120: The Rumor Mill

The PCs come back to their home base town and find slanderous rumors circulating about them. Lots of acquaintances give them strange looks or worse. Good friends will be able to explain the rumors to them. “An intense campaign of do-gooding” or a confession from their enemies will clear their name. Some possible accusations: “the PCs worship an evil god, kill farmers, commit unspeakable acts with animals, have bad morals, breath, or the like.” OK then.

I dunno… it takes a little too much effort on my part to think up the PCs’ rumor-mongering enemies and make it interesting for them to track down. But if this is their home base, maybe I already have some candidates in place. Keep, since I can always throw it back when drawn if it doesn’t feel appropriate.

121: Bread and Fish

The PCs are in a crowded marketplace. A WIS-2 check allows them to notice a woman stealing bread from a merchant. “It vanishes into her coat, though it looks as if there is not enough room in the coat.” (It’s a bag of holding, of course - a “light-weight” one that carries up to 250 lbs or 30 cubic feet.) If they keep watching, she steals more food. If they follow her, she is of course the mother of hungry children and has a sob story. (Can’t get a job because people assume she’s “shiftless and lazy,” etc.)

The card says “the PCs must decide whether to hand her over to the city guards.” Tell me, what PC isn’t going to just buy the bag off of her? (Answer: the ones who are going to rob and/or murder her for it.)

Anyway, I guess it’s interesting enough. Keep.

Apr 21, 2010

So I've been posting a batch of encounter cards every day. Is that too much, especially if we're getting cards from the other deck as well? Or should I just keep 'em coming?

Freaking Crumbum posted:

I like that some of these could conceivably link together to actually fill in the details of a larger campaign arc, but I then have to wonder, are these intended to be drawn before the game by an idle DM who doesn't have inspiration for this week and could then weave them together, or are they meant to just be a deck of cards you draw from during play rather than rolling on random encounter tables?
It feels like the various writers for the deck aren't 100% in agreement about how it's supposed to be used or what its purpose is.

Freaking Crumbum posted:

ya'll forgetting that A Wizard Did It. none of this has to follow the observable rules of natural forces on Earth.

Yeah, but if as a DM you start invoking stuff like the "speed of sound," you've opened that huge can of worms. Get ready for player nitpicking.

Apr 21, 2010

Hostile V posted:

What you're doing is fine, Dallbun, just go at a pace that keeps you invested but not burning yourself
No worries there, I had 250 cards written up before I made a single post. Here we go, then!

Even a strong opponent can be overborne by a large enough swarm of

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 21: The Deck of Traps and Serial Killers

122: Posse

The PCs are entering a lightly forested area near a large town, when they meet a posse of 20 villagers coming down the road with weapons. They’re led by a “grizzled ranger,” and looking for a 6’1, ~200 kb man with an eyepatch and long red hair - Salier the woodman. (Is that the most detailed physical description any NPC has gotten in the whole deck so far?) They’ll try to hire the PCs to bring him in dead or alive for 3000 gp (!). He’s hiding out in the forests and has loaded the area with traps designed to kill.

OK, that’s fine. Keep.

123: The Village

A small village is “curiously divided right down the middle of the street.” One side is stone, one is wood, and the people are dressed differently on each. The village is dominated by two families, the McLains and Borguns. When the PCs enter, representatives from both sides stand on their side of the street and beg the PCs to join their side. How can they help? Well, apparently most of their feud involves sending someone to the other side of the village to get something only available there. They will be pranked and trapped mercilessly by the opposing side while they’re there. “Many of the traps are harmful both emotionally and physically.”

Eh, I don’t like it. Obviously they’re going for a Hatfield/McCoy vibe, but the way this rivalry plays out is just off. This isn’t how people act. Who would maintain an ongoing trap-based prank feud without it escalating into full-on violence?

Oh wait let’s just say they’re all gnomes. Boom! Better. Keep.

124: Springheel

In a posh neighborhood at night, the streets are mostly deserted, but a figure in a “non-reflective golden cloak” jumps over a 10-foot wall and levels a strange weapon at them. Its face looks scaly and reptilian. It gestures at their money with its weapon (a “6-shot repeating hand-held crossbow,” with sleeping poison on the quarrels”). If crossed, it fires once at them and retreats back over the wall.

It’s not a lizardman, it’s actually Old Man Willis from the hotel a half-elf thief named Springheel wearing a disguise. He also has a ring of jumping and a short sword +2.

Is… this a reference to something? Is it supposed to be Spring-heeled Jack? Was he famously a lizard person? Anyway, I might like this guy fine if he’d just been seen around town and had his own agenda, but I don’t like him as a total moron who tries to mug groups of heavily-armed, dangerous-looking people. Pass.

125: The Night of the Knife

It’s a foggy night in town. The streets are mostly deserted. The PCs hear a scuffle up ahead, then a thump, a muffled curse, and footsteps. A tall man walks past the PCs, doffs his hat, and says “Evening.” He’s polite and charming but tries to avoid showing his face. The PCs could accost the man at this moment (though the card complains that “they have little grounds for this action”), but after that it’s too late - he’s gone. After they pass him, they will find the mutilated body of his victim, a human man, and a bootprint leading back towards where they came.

(The man’s name is Jack. He’s a level 10 thief, settling a question that has confounded Ripperologists for more than a hundred years.)

What is going on with these encounters? Do we put Jack the serial killer in our AD&D game as a random encounter? Well... not like this. There’s no real hook - the PCs are likely to encounter the dead body and say “...okay? And?” Also, it’s poor form to make a point of introducing an NPC, and then try to stop the PCs from following them or whatever because their characters wouldn’t have a reason to. Pass for me.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 01:06 on Nov 8, 2017

Apr 21, 2010

The backwards, superstitious locals mutter darkly about

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 22: The Deck of Bumpkins, Thieves, and Goddamn Dragons

126: The Haunted Tree

On the border of a small rural community. “The locals are rustic and superstitious, easily given to fears of ghosts and witches.” You… do realize that those are actual, 100% real, highly-dangerous things that exist in this world?

Anyway, a local asks them for help. He built his home around a huge old tree (like, literally around it - the tree grows out through a hole in the roof), but he says he’s seen the tree groan and move at night, and rip pieces off the roof. He wants the PCs to expunge the evil and save his house, and offers them “his grandfather’s flame tongue +2 if they do.” Dang, nice!

The PCs “quickly see that [the tree] is a slumbering treant,” presumably because they are intelligent and educated people, not like these ignorant hillbillies who believe in ghosts and witches. It’ll inevitably tear apart the house when it wakes up fully and decides to leave. “The man will not accept this, and demands that the PCs ensure that the treant never move. What the PCs choose to make of this is up to them.”

I’m not big on the assumed superiority of PCs over the common D&D man, but I like that the house owner is kind of an rear end in a top hat about the situation. True to life. The reward seems a little disproportionate, but that’s easily adjusted if the DM wants. Keep.

127: The Pacifist

Medium danger, in rough terrain - the card specifies that there are boulders, and little trees - “numerous vantage points from which PCs or monsters can launch an offensive.” There’s a holy-looking man with a holy symbol (5th level) backing away from four hell hounds. They’re sort of playing with their food before they eat it. He’ll be grateful if they help, and can cast cure spells, “even risking his own life to drag them out of combat.”

If they save him he’ll be grateful and tag along as their healbot, but won’t fight because he’s a pacifist, and will “continually deplore the party’s use of force if they accept him; he will leave as soon as they reach civilization.”

Why, card! Are you assuming that the PCs are some kind of violent psychopaths? ...well, yeah, that’s a safe assumption. Anyway, we can keep this one.

128: ‘Orace and Wilbur

Two comic relief NPCs have been hired to kill the PCs by someone who would do such a thing. They will set traps that rebound on them comically. “If [they] run into the PCs in a town, they inadvertently reveal the plans for their next scheme, slap each other around, and hope that the PCs will ignore what they’ve just said.” They’re like the burglars from Home Alone with a dash of the Three Stooges and Wile E. Coyote.

They’ll be reoccurring villains because they’ll keep to their contract, but they could also be befriended or bought off. Oddly, the card doesn’t raise the idea of the PCs just loving killing them.

It’s more of a sketchy outline of some NPCs than an encounter. But it certainly paints a vivid picture, and the DM doesn’t have to think up any good murder plans on the spot, just a terrible, badly-thought out one. I’ll take it. Keep.

129: A Dragon and His Orc

Out in farmland at the foot of mountains, the PCs see a dragon scorching crops. It’s a juvenile bronze dragon. “Whaaaat!?” say the PCs. “But skin color is hugely deterministic of morality and behavior, and that is especially true for dragons!” Fear not, players - as you assume, there is indeed an explanation! An orc shaman found a small bronze sphere in which the dragon “stored its life force” (pretty impressive magic for a juvenile) and is using it to control its actions. Oh, an orc. Those are evil. Now it all makes sense.

One nice touch is that if the PCs follow the dragon, it will deliberately fly slowly so they have time to follow it back to the high aerie where the orc is set up.

I mean, I guess if you’re following the D&D paradigm this is reasonable, but the “a good thing is acting bad! No wait it’s an bad thing after all” just rubs me the wrong way. What do you think, jury?

P.S. I would aim higher than crop burning, Mr. Shaman. Can’t you rally an army behind you and go on a conquering spree or something? Especially since the dragon is presumably less vulnerable to harm than one with its life force in the usual place?

130: Apprentices

In a busy part of a city, the PCs are chosen as a target by a gang of five Thieves’ Guild apprentices (each Level 1). The exercise is “to pick a mark clean.” They try to pickpocket small, valuable items, but not, the card stresses, anything heavy like weapons. They each only have a 35% Pick Pockets chance, but there are five of them: if the PCs catch one and don’t call the guard, they’ll “take the opportunity to steal from the PCs while the PCs lecture the failed thief.” Nice. If they call the guard or leave the crowds, the thieves will stop.

The card says the DM can “use” the encounter “to rid the PCs of some powerful item,” which is too adversarial for my style. But I like the possibility that the PCs might get pissed off at the local Thieves’ Guild or vice versa. Keep.

Apr 21, 2010

DalaranJ posted:

Yeah, the thing that weirds me out the most about that encounter is that it hinges on the dragon choosing to be a living lich? Why would it do that?
I like the thread's answer that it's an evil dragon to begin with. Since it's juvenile, I assume it's some kind of angsty adolescent rebellion (that will last 50 years).

theironjef posted:

Just make every encounter a gnome, see if it fixes it. Should be a litmus test.

The PCs are going to end up raising so many baby gnomes.

Apr 21, 2010

The Lord of Hats posted:

Are those specific exits for the bear, or can it just exit into whatever? Can I train the bear to train *more* bears? With hard work and dedication, can my bear become the High Priest of Ursun? Can I send my bear to Wizard College?
Now I really want to play Princess Maker, but with a bear.

Apr 21, 2010

Inscribed on the wall is a rune that will teleport all who look on it into

The Deck of Encounters Set One Part 23: The Deck of Crime, Intrigue, and Balors

131: Mistaken Identity, Version 3

The PCs wander into a small village, and everybody seems to recognize one of them. Someone tries to pay them back 100 gp, a tavern proprietor offers them the usual (which, if accepted, is the PC’s favorite food), and everyone’s extremely obsequious towards them. They even have a lovely wife who says it’s been so long and tries to drag them home, at which point they run into the PC’s double coming out of their fine house.

“How the encounter is resolved is up to the DM: it can be a doppelganger, a long lost twin brother, or anything else. Whatever the case, it is sure to be amusing.”

Will it, though? Off the top of my head, I’m not coming up with anything more interesting than the suggested options, and neither seems particularly entertaining in practice. ("Hey, I've got a long lost twin brother!, I guess?") Myself, I’ll pass.

132: The Fugitive

In a high mountain pass. It’s a beautiful day. Way down below, in the distance, they can see dust kicked up by a group of galloping horses on a distant road. Up here, they find an old man trying to fix the broken wheel on his cart. The mule’s not being cooperative. He asks for the PCs help, says he’s a famous artist, and promises to paint for them if they escort him across the mountain. Actually he’s a fraud who uses cantrip to “paint” temporary art and sell it, and which is why he has to run before the relentless pursuit of the police lieutenant obsessed with his capture flee from the knights in the distance. I guess knights are fantasy cops. Keep.

133: Hazardous Passage

Medium danger in a dungeon. It’s a long passageway. There’s a summoning circle taking up the entire width of it, and inside is a balor. But it’s invisible, because that’s a thing balors can do, of course. It says the circle is “too large for the PCs to simply step over its boundary along the wall,” though I’d probably let them try with DEX checks. It suggests levitation or whatever - it’s safe as long as you don’t disturb the magical dust that’s making up the circle on the ground and keeping the thing imprisoned.

Interesting, though potentially incredibly dangerous. I guess I’ll keep it.

Incidentally, the card notes that the encounter is worth 500 XP for passing the circle, or 46,000 XP “in the unlikely event the PCs defeat the balor.” Haha, wow. The Monstrous Manual XP value is only 26,000...

134: April Fools

A “gaily bedecked” normal town. Everyone has little smirks on their faces. It’s a festival celebrating the local trickster god, so everyone plays pranks on each other all day. The PCs will be targets, though unfortunately the examples given are a little passé: giving wrong directions, or dumping mud on them from a second-story. If the PCs take this badly, they’ll earn ill will. If they get in on the pranking themselves, they’ll gain good will. Keep.

135: Hostages

So the PCs have attracted the attention of a wizard kidnapper, Fargone (Thief 9, Wizard 9). He’s made a cell that’s only accessible by teleportation (but has a slot for food and air), and he tries to pop over to the PCs with a helm of teleportation, grab someone, teleport back to the prison, and teleport out by himself. Then he’ll send a ransom note to the others.

This is one of those weird encounters that really runs with the implications of the setting. If there’s reliable teleportation magic wielded by self-interested people, then this encounter does logically follow. I’m not sure I like that flavor of fantasy, but it’s certainly very AD&D. I'm also reluctant to keep it, though, because whenever you have an NPC use a permanent magical item, that item will likely end up in the hands of the PCs by the end. And teleportation is a pain that I want to reduce the incidence of. Pass for me, I suppose.

P.S.: It’s a shame. In another life, this wizard could have put his teleportation magic to good purposes, but in the end he was just too… Fargone. :cool:

136: The Hunter

There’s a cabin in the forest decorated with the mounted heads of good-aligned creatures (unicorns, pegasi, blink dogs, a pixie, etc). Their skins are hung inside. The weapon racks inside are empty. The hunter will return eventually, dragging two aarakokra. He’ll attack without any conversation if he sees them. He’s a level 12 fighter.

Works for me. Keep.

Dallbun fucked around with this message at 13:40 on Nov 9, 2017


Apr 21, 2010

Freaking Crumbum posted:

edit: there's a comic or cartoon where the whole JLA gets this treatment and superman is the first to wake up and he's mondo-pissed and wrecks the poo poo of the thing that's hypnotizing everyone and it's pretty cool

If you're referring to the story I'm thinking of, it's a comic and cartoon - Alan Moore's "For the Man Who Has Everything," and the second episode of Justice League Unlimited.

That does seem to be a better way to run the encounter, especially if the villain doesn't quite grok sentient humanoids and doesn't understand why they would want to leave a life of comfort and ease.

Comrade Gorbash posted:

I was thinking that it's at least the second card with a party doppelganger, so if you combined them you could get a whole subplot going.

The intro did assure us that you could use these cards "to design an entire campaign." And what a campaign it would be. :allears:

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