The Lost Marches – Random Encounters

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This will likely be a boring post.

Random Encounters, Wandering Monster Tables, and Unplanned Events are just a few names for a chance interaction within a Tabletop game.  I’m mainly sticking to the idea of combat encounters in this post, and using that to frame how I’ll be using random encounters in The Lost Marches.

So what am I talking about? Think back to the 80’s/early 90’s video games DragonWarrior or Final Fantasy games? As you wandered around the world, there was a chance that you’d trip across a bad guy. The more dangerous the area, the more likely you trip across a bad guy (and the more powerful that bad guy is). If you understand that, you understand Random Encounters enough to follow along here.

The second concept is also fairly simple. Every time there may be a Random Encounter I roll 2d6 and add up the total. If the total is 11 or more, there’s a Random Encounter. Normally there is only a 8.34% chance of an encounter. It’s that simple!

Now, The Lost Marches are composed of a number of different areas that I (as the DM) have decided are more or less dangerous. I’ll call out a couple of pretty direct examples that are unlikely to be spoilers for my players.

  • First Valley (24H, -1, Settled) – Out of any areas of The Lost Marches, The First Valley has been settled for the longest time. It’s fairly secure and quite removed from raiders.
  • The Barrows (8H, +2, Barrows) – The Barrows are an unsettled area, composed of ancient burial mounds. Undead are known to frequent this area.
  • Gnollwode (4H, +4, Forest) – The name should give it away. It’s a forest inhabited by Gnolls.

The names and descriptions likely make sense to you, but the part within the parenthesis, may not be as intuitive. I’ll break this down for you now.

  • The first number is the number (24) of hours (H) that must pass before the DM performs a check for a Random Encounter.
  • The second number is a modifier to the check. A negative number suggests that this area is safer than normal. A positive number increases the likeliness of an encounter and indicates that an area is more dangerous.
  • The third part, a descriptor, tells you what table the check should be on. In this case, we’d be checking on the “Settled” table.

Putting this into action with the examples:

  • The Party spends two days within the First Valley, Every 24 hours I need to check to see if there is an encounter. As the First Valley is fairly safe, I subtract 1 from the roll/check. That means I roll 2d6-1. This makes it very unlikely that the PCs will be attacked in The First Valley. Actually, there’s only a 2.78% chance that they are attacked within 24 hours.
  • The Barrows are far more dangerous, and the Party bravely decides to explore them for two days. We need to perform a check within The Barrows every 8 hours, and over the course of two days, that works out to 6 checks. In addition to this, The Barrows require us to add 2 to the dice roll, making it 2d6+2. The odds of rolling an 11 or higher is now: 27.78 percent, and must be checked 6 times! Good luck!
  • And finally, the Gnollwode is pretty deadly. Two days in the Gnollwode will result in 12 checks (one every 4 hours). Each one is 2d6+4, for a 58.34% chance of an encounter every 4 hours. That’s twice per long rest!

Wondering where I’m getting these percentages from?


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