The players are an Outland Exhibition Team (O.E.T.) operating out of Sigil. O.E.T.’s are city-funded adventuring parties that head out into the Outlands and restore balance to situations that arise there. When they return they sit down with the community where they live and discuss the philosophical and moral implications of their choices.
“I just want to point out that outsiders entering a community to restore some idea of balance is colonial nonsense that is harmful to the world.”
“Do you attend every O.E.T. community discussion to say this?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Fair enough. So noted…”
I rolled up the adventure and mapped out an outline using the Trophy Gold incursion structure (more on that in a future blog post). The players were heading to Xaos, Portal City between the Outlands and the Ever-changing Chaos of Limbo to stop a god-feud happening there. Gods from a dead Prime Material World were feuding and causing problems.
I decided that there was a rival group of assassins known as the God-killers on their way to Xaos to kill the feuding gods. I wasn’t sure of much else about them. Would they get there first or show up later to heighten the tension? Not sure.
I rolled on the Encounter Table for their first day of travel.
Lost Souls…Dead Adventurers. I think my encounter just told me that the God-killers are dead.
INTERESTING. I did not see that coming.
The gods heard about them and panicked. They set aside their differences for a bit, made sure they were killed and then went back to their in-fighting. If the players find out that they set aside their differences once, they can figure out how to get them to do it again.
It also was a nice way of giving an info dump because assassins who call themselves the God-killers definitely did their homework.
One of the God-killers was a Tiefling and asked Kuru the Halfling Thief to burn some incense at the shrine to Asmodeus back in Sigil. Love it.
For the next day, I rolled a 12.
On the third d6 I got a 6. The dragon is taking treasure. Cool. But from who? I rolled again. I could’ve chosen but I was curious to see what the table would say.
Merchants. Makes sense. More simple than a dragon mugging an angel but sometimes simple is good.
I described the players arriving to a one-inn town with a merchant caravan leaving as a thunderstorm began. The players noticed right away and asked the inn-keeper why they were leaving into a storm. She told them that the caravan had a delivery that was time sensitive (what was that about? I’m still not sure and I’m not sure I ever will be) and so they left despite her warnings. She said that the storm wasn’t natural and they were leaving into doomful circumstances.
The next morning as the players were leaving, lightning-scorched survivors from the caravan were in the common room, talking about how they survived a dragon attack the night before. The blue dragon had attacked the caravan and pillaged its treasures before flying away.
I decided the rest of the journey went by without a hitch. I roll every day or two of travel.
Why did I roll these encounters? There weren’t any fights.
That is okay. Friendly and neutral encounters are fine. We’re into our third session. It fleshes out the world. I get to learn about what the characters are like.
The players could’ve gone after the caravan and talked them into staying. They could’ve decided to hunt the blue dragon. For now it is just color.
Sometimes I roll. Sometimes I choose. Sometimes they players sprint headlong into a brewing situation that has nothing to do with the oncoming adventure. Sometimes they hang back and smoke a pipe in the rain, under the eaves of the inn. Sometimes the players’ actions make something on (or off) the table obvious, so the encounter for that day is taken care of. Sometimes they get the jump on the encounter and other times they encounter will get the jump on them. It all depends on the circumstances and what the fiction demands.
I’m not calling them random encounter tables anymore. They’re Inspirational Encounter Tables.