... now with 35% more arrogance!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Random History

Noisms at the Monsters & Manuals blog quotes a post about turning hex map encounter tables on their head; instead of rolling to see what the party encounters in the current hex, roll to see what hex is affected by a predetermined event. He quotes Pseudoephedrine:
Event: A black dragon (HD7) swoops down to burn anything it finds - people, monsters, buildings and PCs.

You roll 2d10 and get 7 and 9, so in hex 7:9, a black dragon comes swooping down and attacks the village of Bumburg (having already determined prior to play that Bumburg is in that hex). If the PCs are in that hex, well, great. If not, well, they can always stumble across the effects later. [emphasis added]
Noisms expands on this idea one way, but I'd like to suggest another expansion, based on the part I emphasized. In addition to rolling for events during a campaign, you can roll for major events at set points in history:
  • Founding Event: about 1000 years ago (+/- 1d6 centuries)
  • 1d4 Shaping Events: about 200, 400, 600 and 800 years ago (+1d10 decades)
  • 1d6-2 Recent Historical Events: about 100, 75, and 50 years ago (+1d20 years)
  • d6/2 Current Events: 1d20 years ago.
The founding event sets the culture of the campaign area. For example, if the dragon attack above had been a founding event, the kingdom(s) where the campaign is set would have been forged as a response to dragon attacks. You can roll a d6 for compass direction, as Noisms suggests, and place a dragon's lair in the nearest mountain or hill in that direction; hexes closer to that lair would contain watchtowers or outposts, those closer to the heart of the kingdom would contain cities designed to defend against dragon attacks.

The shaping events act as moments of cultural change. Recent historical events may not have prompted as much change. Both varieties are part of the shared history of the region. Current events might not hav had an impact yet, but they would definitely be talked about.

Each event creates some kind of lasting impression in the indicated hex. This could be used to establish dungeon backgrounds, for example.

For OD&D, a shortcut to creating event tables would be to roll on the Level 6 Wandering Monster table for the founding event, Level 5 for the shaping events, Levels 4-3 for the recent history, and Level 2 for the current events.


  1. I love this. Expand the randomness in time as well as in space.

  2. Excellent expansion, which would allow for a truely random local "history".

    Eventually, with enough events and rolls, you could create a whole past (and future) before your players sit down to the table. The level of randomness should allow for a more naturalistic map... provided that the tables are structured properly.