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Putting Encounters on the Map
Also, a free setting map
Some time ago, I made this map as a GM-facing print-out for a game.
The map was loosely based, I believe, off the map of Catan included on the backs of Catan cards, while the setting contents were based loosely on the idea of 17th-century British colonists lost on a fantastic island resembling their home. I intended it to be usable as-is for the start of a home game, so you might get some mileage out of it too. I’ve got the Wonderdraft map file lying around if anyone wants it; just leave a comment and ask.
My interest was in having a single document that contained as much useful information as I could possibly cram onto the paper. That meant text describing the purpose of regions, major routes, barony and county borders, and town & faction allegiances. Since this was a printout, the map was mostly monochrome grey, but I realized that color made things pop and could be fairly cheap if done lightly.
I didn’t actually get around to running the game for more than a session, but what this exercise gave me was an interesting idea. Why not just make the map itself into an encounter table?
All of the red names on the map are local monsters. Here’s how it works: you roll 1dX against the map, and count the closest red encounter names to the players’ location. If you roll 2, pick the second-closest encounter name.
Upsides: Looks neat, doesn’t require table cross-referencing, reasonably fast to rule, “feels” integrated because encounters are physically keyed to map locations.
Downsides: Sometimes it’s tricky to tell which encounters are closest. You sorta have to go with your gut on that. You also don’t necessarily have the space to fit enough encounter material in. You might want to keep a secondary table on hand, roll a low die like d4 or d6, and roll on that if you get the maximum result.
It was pretty neat in the very brief play-testing I did. Tell me what you think.