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Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Medieval Tourism II

As a practical follow-up to yesterday's post: adding pilgrims to wilderness and civilized area encounter lists seems like a good thing. Actually, for wilderness encounters, dervishes are pretty much intended to be pilgrim-like; you can re-skin the dervish for non-desert areas anywhere you think pilgrims might be likely to risk travel through a dangerous area to reach a pilgrimage site. For civilized areas, groups can be much smaller and more regular (locals traveling a couple days to a nearby holy site.) It's easiest to treat this as clerics + a larger number of normal (0-level) humans: 1d6 clerics, 3d6 normal pilgrims. About 1 in 6 of these pilgrim groups can be in much larger numbers (multiply normals x10) because of an upcoming event. Make up a feast day and mark it on your campaign calendar!

If the Black Death or the equivalent hits the area, start making the large groups into roving bands of Flagellants, or a similar concept: large groups of roving doom-and-gloom preachers intent on some kind of public spectacle.

Another group to consider is merchant caravans. There's plenty of modules and suggested adventure hooks built around the idea of PCs hiring on as caravan guards, but the original books don't include them as a type of wandering encounter. I've actually got a merchant treasure type I've posted before that I'm currently tweaking, but you could use the Bandit as a template and add 2d6 x 1000 gp worth of trade goods for a quick implementation.

A lot of the other possibilities suggested in yesterday's post -- court or church officials acting as messengers, missionaries, emissaries from foreign lands -- are really more a matter of intention than stat blocks. There's usually an option for small groups of "classed" characters, which I'm sure we've all used mainly as rival adventurers; but why do they necessarily need to be adventurers? We could use a quick "mission roll" table to determine what a group of clerics, magic-users, fighters, or thieves are up to:
  1. Banditry (theft by violence)
  2. Violence (mission of vengeance or war)
  3. Adventure (standard D&D party motivations)
  4. Patrol (defending a nearby locale)
  5. Politics (internal or external message-bearers)
  6. Faith (missionaries or participants in a religious observance)
There's two ways to use this table. If you roll up a party first, roll a d6 for motivation and add +1 if there is a cleric present; if there is no cleric, but there is a thief, subtract 1 instead. If you prefer to determine the motivation first and roll up the party afterwards, just roll an unmodified d6 and always include a cleric if the roll is a 6.


  1. Very nice little chart, though maybe it could be expanded to a d66 chart, giving six possible hooks for each borad category.

  2. You can pretty much do that just by rolling twice: once for the wandering group, once for their "target". For example, Banditry+Adventure is a group of bandits who target parties returning from dungeons, Banditry+Politics are medieval terrorists, Patrol+Faith are enforcers of religious observance.