I was kindly asked by Joe Wetzel of Inkwell Ideas to contribute some random maps for his successful Creature and Encounter Decks Kickstarter project (I did the spaceship deck plans in Encounter Deck 2). Joe sells these decks on his website which also contains some of the best RPG random generators the internet has to offer (like the amazing hexographer I reviewed in my mapping mini series) and comes highly recommended.
So What the Heck is an Encounter Deck?
|Card #06 from Encounter Deck 2|
(featuring map by me)
Each card has on one side:
- A Map - this could be a room, a building, an outdoor space, a map of a region or even a section of spaceship deck plan.
- A Trap Idea - something to throw at your players in game if they're having it too easy.
- A Twist - Something to stir up the plot
- A Trivial item or Treasure - Something to reward your players with, it could be inconsequential or it could become the focus for an entire game.
- Title and Outline - A brief synopsis of the scenario with some keywords to get you thinking about where to take the plot.
- Getting the PCs Involved - a couple of plot motives for your PCs.
- Encounters - A bunch of potential encounters you might want to throw at your PCs in line with the overarching plot outlined above.
- Conclusion - A couple of ideas on how the scenario might pan out for the players.
Example of their use as an Idea Generator
Here I've simply taken 7 different cards and selected one item from each category to use to generate my scenario. I could have just used the entire scenario idea from the reverse of the same card, but my objective here is to generate something really random and get those creative juices flowing. I've used cards from Encounter Deck 2 and referenced the card number next to each item for those of you who want to recreate my steps.
- #46 The Hunted - (Protection, Battlefield) - The refugees approach the city with tight lips and haunted eyes. The lord cannot turn away his charges in their time of need, but what drove them from their homes may hunt them still.
- #55 Getting the PCs Involved? - The PCs stumble across the gypsies at dusk.
- #05 Encounters - The would-be interlopers (The PCs) are offered information by a diviner, but at a hefty price.
- #16 Trap Idea - The slime on the walls and floor of a corridor has been deliberately cultivated, conducting the energies of an attack spell throughout the area.
- #32 Twist: A group of mercenaries mistake the party as searching for the same treasure that they are.
- #56 Trivial? Treasure - A small one foot cubed metal box with a door on one side. Inside the temperature is always just below freezing.
- #47 Conclusion - With the troublesome cult revealed, the news must be spread and the panic halted.
My Adventure Outline (as outlined using the cards above)
An evil plague is spreading over the land, leading to an influx of refugees into the capital city. This plague is a magical slime whose epicentre is a town some twenty leagues from the capital. The PCs have been passing a steady stream of refugees all day as they head in the direction of the town. That night as they search for a likely looking camp spot they encounter a band of Gypsies.
The gypsies agree to let the PCs stay the night in their camp, which is unusually subdued, and during their conversations learn that the Gypsies have been blamed by the locals for the outbreak of this slime. The Gypsies have nothing to do with it, but one of their number is a fortune teller who predicted that they would meet the PCs. The Gypsies insist that one of the PCs must have their future foretold, during which they must forfeit some item of great value (or a lesser body part like a finger, toe or earlobe).
During the divination the gypsies reveal that they must retrieve the mystical cube from the shrine of St. Haute Pointe and take it to the slime infected town. Once there, they will know what to do.
On the way to the shrine of St. Haute Pointe the PCs are ambushed by another adventuring party who are also heading to the shrine (but they are after a legendary chalice said to be able to restore missing minor body parts, observant PCs will notice that their leader has lost one of her ears). There will most likely be a stand-off, a chase, another stand-off and the final realisation that the two parties are after entirely different things and either leave on good terms, or not.
After recovering the cube, the PCs finally arrive at the town. From a hilltop vantage point they can see that the town is dotted with patches of this slime and overtime they will notice brown robed riders arrive in town on horseback and then leave shortly afterwards carrying a cylinder on their backs.
If they venture into town they will observe a cult of brown robed human monks congregating around the towns municipal water well. They are decanting slime and something like frogspawn from the well into these cylinders and handing them to the dispatch riders who arrive in town. All the while chanting some eldritch verse.
The solution to the PCs problem is to slay the monks and venture down the well where they discover some small innocuous looking creature the monks have chained up, laying its eggs. If they capture one of the monks, preferably the leader, they can transport him and a frozen sample of the eggs back to the capital for the Lord's apothecaries to inspect.
To Adventure and Beyond
Naturally, the Lord rewards the PCs for their heroism and then mention that he has another problem of a delicate nature. He explains that as a young man he had an unfortunate hunting accident and now the kingdom (and his wife) is pressing him to sire an heir. He's heard that there's a fabled chalice, located somewhere in the kingdom, that is rumoured to have the power to restore minor body parts...