Wednesday, 29 June 2011
Linking Keyed Encounters with Wandering Monsters
Lions, wolves, bears, orcs, giant-elephant eating flying lizards, whatever. If it can pose a threat to a PC and appears on my random encounter tables then that very same individual creature also appears in a keyed-location encounter somewhere (and vice versa). So if one or more wandering monsters creatures are killed or wounded in an encounter, I immediately update the keyed encounter to reflect these changes (sometimes mid-session while the PC's are planning their next move, most often right after the session. Likewise, if a monster is killed in its keyed location, then I quickly update the information on the random encounter table as well.
This is every bit as true for my dungeons denizens as it is for wilderness inhabitants.
I often wonder if my players even notice that the more they clear-out an area the less wandering monsters they encounter (because so many of the wandering monster rolls now come up with creatures who have already been killed elsewhere). I've seen the occasional Eureka moment with my players now and then, mind you. Like the time my players cleared out an orc lair and discovered a magical sword looted from a dead PC by those self-same orcs in an earlier encounter thirty miles away. But did my players simply think this was just a cool way to re-introduce an old magical item to the game? Or did they actually realise they only got the sword back because they happened to track down this particular band of orcs?
Does anyone else link their keyed encounters and wandering monsters this way? Or am I simply an obsessive freak? The reason I'm asking is that I'm currently creating hex-linked and random encounters for the Expeditionary Campaigns wilderness map, the Isle of the Earth-Shaker. Much as I'm joining the process, I can't help but think I could get this whole campaign up and running a lot sooner if I wasn't so damnably anal-retentive. Is the extra-effort worth the pay-off if the players don't even notice?