onsdag den 9. marts 2011

Travelling the wastes

So, let's see how it will work when the party travels the waste, using the random tables I've made.

Right now I have a starting map, where I've filled in the most important features, and played a little bit with random terrain generation.

I've marked the urban area of Washington DC and Baltimore, the Potomac, Chesapeake bay and a couple of the major roads. The black dots mark settlements, with Rivet City and the Citadel at 1, Megaton at 2 and Grayditch at 3. The other numbers mark features, with a looted power station at 4, the entrance to Vault 101 at 5, and the Supermutant infested mall at 6. The large red area marks the general spread of the infestation. Finally the yellow line passing Megaton marks a power line. The power lines aren't functional. Merely a rusting part of the landscape, relics of a by-gone time.

Now, let's say the group finds that they need to travel to a settlement three days march to the northwest of Megaton. Each hex is 6 miles wide, or quarter of a day's march (half a day's march for hills, forests and urban areas). So I'll place the settlement 12 hexes to the northwest.

The group decides to head north first, avoiding the hills northwest of Megaton. This prompts me to roll for the three hexes adjacent to their destination tile. For the northwest one I roll 64 for terrain: more hills. I roll a d6 to see if it has any features (50% chance), and get a 3 and find that it has no features. Next I roll for the northern hex:  22, badlands. Another 3 on the d6 means still no features here either. The northeastern hex is another 64: hills, and still no features. I also decide that the powerlines will continue north, and draw them in. Finally I roll for random encounter: a d6 with a 6 meaning a random encounter. I get a 2 and thus no encounter either. And the map looks like this:

Since there are still hills blocking their path, the group continues following the power lines north. Once again I roll for the three hexes that come into view, getting a minor settlement to the northwest, badlands to the north and hills to the northeast. I quickly roll again to determine the terrain by the settlement, and get badlands. Checking for features, I find that the settlement hex also has a feature, and rolling for that I get 48: Hide-away/Stash. I decide that the small collection of hovels is also an entry point for smugglers, and that they both have stuff hidden away beneath the settlement, but also in a nearby cave. Finally I decide that  the power lines will end in a tangle, down by the river. I roll for random encounters and get none.

The group goes northeast to the settlement, intending to spend the night. I roll for terrain getting hills to the southwest, badlands to the north and blasted lands to the northwest. Now badlands (and hills) are just your typical wasteland environment; radiated pools, crippled trees, scattered tufts of grass, and marginally fertile soil. Blasted lands are areas directly touched by the bombs, scorched and desert-like with the occasional plains of glass. Not a place for man.

Rolling for features, I find that both the hills and blasted lands have some. In the hills there is a shelter, which I decide is a hunter's shed dug halfway into a hill, and for the blasted lands I roll a 37: traffic jam. Hmm.. I decide that on the border between the settlement and the blasted lands, there runs a minor road, surrounded by the tumbled wreckage of cars. Evacuees that were jamming the road, and got blasted off it by the pressure wave when the bomb hit.

I also get a 6 when I roll for random encounters. This area counts as the Wasteland, close enough to civilization for normal folks to live (as evidenced by the settlement), but far enough that they are still subject to raiders, or in this case: hunting tribals (as I rolled a 40 on the random encounters table). I quickly decide that they are head-hunting tribals, and that the settlement is under attack. If the group help out, they'll learn afterwards that this isn't a single occurrence. A side-quest might be in the cards.

Next morning the group travels north to avoid the blasted lands, and a special rule comes into play. Any time a new tile borders an old tile of blasted lands or radiated lands, I roll on the deadlands table. The reason for this is to create large cohesive streches of deadlands (the same principles apply to woodlands). The result for the northwestern tile is that it becomes more deadlands. The northern tile is still rolled on the badlands table, as it doesn't border an old hex of deadlands. The result becomes hills to both the north and northeast.

The feature rolls tells of some factory ruins inside the deadlands, and a church to the north, both of which are visible to the group from a distance. The random encounters roll give a result again. This time a patrol of super mutants. I decide that the church to the north is a super mutant base, and using their binoculars the group is able to learn this themselves.

So the group heads northwest, aiming to avoid the mutants, and perhaps find some salvage in the factory. Since they are moving into the deadlands, all the new terrain is now rolled on the deadlands table. In this case I also get irradiated lands and crags. The irradiated lands are just like blasted lands, except they are radioactive. Not a good place to be, but unless the players carry a geiger counter, they might not notice until they start getting sick. The crags are blasted landscapes of tumbled rocks, and large rifts. Crags do not count as deadlands, and thus new hexes next to crag hexes are not forced to roll on the deadlands table, meaning that crags will often be found at the edge of deadlands.

The features rolls provide a pre-fallout animal population in the radiated zone (12) (which I decide to change to a unique post-fall animal population: giant two-headed vipers), and the Telescopes/Windmills/Powerstation result to the northwest, which I interpret as the blasted remains of a major nuclear power station (13). And once again a random encounter. However, this time we are in Inhospitable terrain, so subtract 75 from the roll. I roll 53, which results in a negative number. So there is no random encounter after all.

Continuing northwest they simply find more blasted lands. There is feature, a hermit, which I decide is a ghoul hermit (14), who probably hunts the two-headed vipers in the neighboring hex. But the group won't actually find him unless they enter that hex.

Which they don't, instead continuing northwest. By the time they enter the hex, it is getting time to set camp. But they do see some hills to the north that look decidedly more green (well, brownish green) than the deadlands. There are no features, and no random encounter.

The next morning they head north, aiming to leave the deadlands behind. However, while the hex north of the hill will be rolled on the badlands table, both the northwestern and the northeastern hexes border a deadlands hex. And indeed it they both turn out to be blasted lands. It also turns out that there is a camouflaged bunker(15), the tumbled remains of a trailer park(17), and an operational factory(16) in each of the three hexes. I roll on the random encounters tables a few times to get inspiration, and decide that the bunker is abandoned, while the factory is being run by semi-raiders who is using it to churn out ammunition.

Tired of the desert the group crosses the river, and going across the hills and crossing the river cost them most of the day, and this is the hex they end up in by the end of the day. The result is the same as the previous hex, with two hexes of blasted lands and one of badlands. This time there are no features, but there is a random encounter. As the group reaches the other side of the river, they disturb a nest of mole rats.

And I think I'll stop here. I may already have dragged it out too long.

One obvious problem with the above is that there is no way of knowing the terrain, before it is actually rolled up. Not only would nobody in Megaton know even the fact that there was a large stretch of deadlands to the northwest, but the inhabitants of the smuggler settlement wouldn't know whether it was 1, 2, 4 or 8 hexes wide. But that's an integral weakness of the concept I'd think.

mandag den 7. marts 2011

The Terrain Tables

Next part of my fallout tables are up. I did just intend it to be one table, but I ended up with 4. I sense a trend forming.

First is the general terrain table, or the Badlands table. Anytime the players move into a new area, I'll be rolling to check the terrain of the area, generally using the table below.

There are two other tables for specific types of areas.
The deadlands table:

And the woodlands table:

Finally an area might also have a feature of some kind. I'm currently working with a 50% chance of a feature, chosen from the table below:

This table is optimized for badlands, but I'll probably use it for the other two terrain types as well, and just tweak the results I get.

On the features table, the features from 20-29, 40-49 and 60-69 are features that might not be discovered by a group just passing through the area. Theoretically, it also presents them so that 20 is the most likely find and 29 the least likely find. But at the current time I haven't decided for a technique to determine whether the group stumbles across the feature. I might just end up using a 50% chance and some common sense.

Now, I haven't told too much exactly how I'm going to use the tables, but that is because I intend to run a demo of sorts once I've got all the tables up.

The Assassin's Guild

A few days ago Al wrote about The Book of the New Sun over on Beyond the Black Gate and how the weird pictures of that universe spring to his mind once in a while. Coincidentally I'm reading the same series at the moment. It is slow going, as I don't really read all that much at the moment, advancing a couple of pages a month or something like that.

But the city of Nessus from the beginning of the series is constantly trying to put its mark on The City. Currently I'm thinking of the city walls of The City as hundreds of meters tall, just like the city walls of Nessus. For a while I considered making The City the center of an interstellar empire, inspired by the hints of a fallen interstellar empire in The Book of the New Sun.

One concept that I really like is the series presentation of the Torturers Guild. I'm very tempted to just outright steal it and dump it into my setting, but each time I come to the conclusion that there isn't any reason to do that, except for the fact that I like that guild. But last night, as I was trying to sleep, I came upon the concept of the Assassin's Guild of The City.

The Assassin's Guild is an imperial institution, a tool of the emperor and his administration. It is an ancient institution, and a very specialized one, dedicated to the removal of single individuals that hamper the smooth functioning of the empire.

The code of the guild focus on professionalism, detachment, and civility. Death at an imperial assassin's hand shall be swift, painless and certain. The assassin's are not tools of terror or mass slaughter. They are precision instruments for removing individuals while causing the least amount of turmoil in society. There are stories of assassin's that has spent hours with their victim, helping them make their last will and testament and bringing their affairs in order, before the final end. Of course, not all are willing to surrender so easily. But the end is always swift and painless, and (at least so the stories say) death is always certain once the emperor has marked you for assassination.

In addition to the common assassin, there are also the undercover assassins. Assassin's that infiltrate the households of the most important nobles and functionaries, gaining positions as captain of the guard, personal butler or trusted advisor. Totally loyal to their employer until the day the guild sends the word, and the assassin kills the man he has served for years or decades.

The assassin's is just one institution among many, and the average lowly citizen is unlikely to ever have heard of them, and even if they have, is likely to view them in the same light as the murderers and cutthroats used by nobles and crime lords in their dealings. The nobles have an ambivalent view on the assassin's. They are civil, courteous, pleasant and are genuinely useful civil servants. On the other hand they are utterly loyal to the emperor, and you may find yourself marked at any time, depending on the emperor's whims. Few nobles welcome the presence of an assassin, except when they know the assassin is targeting a personal enemy. Some nobles live in constant paranoia, fearing the emperor will send an assassin for some slight, real or imagined. Most of the time, most nobles can forget that they even exist, concentrating on the more present threats of political rivals and grand machinations.

tirsdag den 1. marts 2011

Random Encounters in Fallout

I've been distracted from the blog by a couple of other projects, none of which belonged here. However, the latest distraction is my tabletop group. We've decided to run a bi-weekly fallout campaign, and I've volunteered to be the game master.

The actual setting of the campaign will be the Capital Wasteland (for those of you who've played Fallout 3) since that's the setting that is freshest in my mind. With that decided, I also concluded that I'd need a random encounter table, to give proper life to the wasteland.

I've been working on that on and off for a week or so, and come to the conclusion that I don't need one, but at least 3 tables. One for when the group first walks into an uncharted area, to determine what static locations are in that area. That way I just have to worry about the large well-known locations, while still giving the characters plenty of stuff to run into out in the wasteland.

Second, I need a table for ordinary random encounters with various creatures and factions of the wasteland, which I can roll on for everyday travel. This'll let the players run into rad scorpion nests, raider ambushes, or the occasional fight between two factions, where they can intervene on either side, or just slink off.

Finally, I'm going to make a scavenging table. The players can decide to scavenge, causing them to move at a slower rate, and the table will contain different types of caches and salvageable loot that the players may find.

I've finished the table for ordinary encounters.

You may have noticed that the table has more than 100 entries. That is because I've stolen an idea from Mongoose Traveler's "Space Encounters" table. Every d100 roll has a modifier taken from the table below.

So no Brotherhood patrols in the Deep Wasteland, and no feral ghouls in Brotherhood territory. If the modifier results in a roll below 01, there is no encounter, which means there are very few encounters i Inhospitable territories.

Next I'll go to work on the table for Static Locations.