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Genesys Dice and Random Encounter Tables

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Has anyone started using the Narrative Dice for random encounter tables? I was thinking about how this might work. We've all seen straight d20/d100 tables of random encounters -- basically long lists of creatures, traps, what have you. Generally boring, unless you create the table with story in mind, and limited in how the creator of the table weights each result (ie: 1, 2, 3 versus 1-5, 6-15, etc). However, with the Narrative Dice you have a built-in prompt while you're creating the tables for interesting encounters; Advantage, Threat, Despair, Triumph, etc.

So, I (think I have) figured out what all the possible results would be if you rolled 1 Proficiency Die and 1 Challenge Die together (note: I separated the Failures from the Despairs and the Successes from the Triumphs here to help with prompting). There are 32 results in the table.

--blank--
a
ad
aa
aaf
aafd
aaff
af
afd
aff
d
f
fd
ft
ff
fh
s
sd
st
sa
ss
ssh
sshh
sh
sht
shh
shht
h
ht
t
td
hh

Once you have the table filled out you could use any combination of "1 good + 1 bad" dice to make the roll. Depending on the combination (the threat level of the region the table applies to), you'll change the range of results, but you wouldn't need to roll on a new table.

Comments? Opinions? Am I on to something here? Would it be even better with more dice? Fewer dice?

 

 

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Looks interesting, but it has the minor problem that it is divorced from the PC's actions. One of the neat things about the NDS is that threats and advantage spin off naturally from dice rolls.

So, rather than having a separate table with separate dice, maybe instead have a collection of "side encounters" the GM can spend threat on to be used on streetwise or survival checks. Like, "Spend 3 threat to have a [Thing] arrive" or something like that.

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Mutant Year Zero has a simliar system for exploring 'zones' It is a d6 system but 1's contribtue to bad stuff you find, 6's contribute to good stuff you find. It isn't for use everytime but once you lay out your grid map and decide which squares are important story/plot items it is a quick and easy way to bang out the in between curiosities.

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Genesys does use d100s so wouldnt it be easier to use those? This seems a little fiddy and not very intuitive. I would treat it like a Critical  Injury and arrange the encounters in order of threat severity or something, applying bonuses for different areas and general level of threat. Rolling 151+ might indicate a greater demon, but you would need to have added a few bonuses to get it.

Edited by Justindoodler

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1 minute ago, Justindoodler said:

Genesys does use d100s so wouldnt it be easier to use those? This seems a little fiddy and not very intuitive. I would treat it like a Critical  Injury and arrange the encounters in order of threat severity or something, applying bonuses for different areas and general level of threat. Rolling 151+ might indicate a greater demon, but you would need to have added a few bonuses to get it.

That was my immediate reaction. "I have d100s. What does this get me?"

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Depending on how you set things up you can use it for a little more flexibility. One roll, could determine, loot (advantage), adversaries (fails), weather conditions (disadvantage), allies (success) etc. Just depends on how you do your chart. But in the end you are correct in that you could still just use a percentile but it also means you're list will be pretty either really big or have lots of re-rolls. It's just an alternate idea for using the dice to generate elements beyond the standard skill roll. Kinda like when some games introduce cards and they will give suggestions on how to use them for character creation, or plot ideas, etc.

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I’m with dragon cobalt on this one. The need for “random encounters” is eliminated by the ability to spend threat (and possibly advantage) on various rolls. 

Rolled 3 threat in combat? A wandering scouting party heard the fighting and shows up to reinforce the bad guys. 

Rolled 2 threat on a survival roll while hiking through the wilderness? Gotta cross a river. 

 

Basically, the narrative dice mean GMs don’t need to micro manage travel times or enemy behavior and can structure adventures more like a story rather than a travel log. 

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I see three obvious possibilities for random encounters :

1. D100 random table, up to 150 or 200. Location and current events add to or subtract from the roll: is it a war zone, +50? Are you on a well patrolled road close to the capital, -50?

2. Deck of event cards: location, environment and NPC’s with a desire and fear on each.

3. Repurpose the basics of Mass Combat from Star Wars. Current Location determines Difficulty of any check to navigate. Current events determine Upgrades. Parties actions towards safe navigation (eg someone succeeding on a Perception Check) contribute to the number of “ability” dice. Skill rank of the navigator (Survival, Streetwise, Astronavigate, etc) is the Skill Rank for the Check.

Failure results in a dangerous event, degree of failure determines how bad. Success results in a neutral or good event. Advantage and Threat contributes to complications of the encounter.

 

Edit: You could probably combine options 1 and 3, with the results of option 3 influencing the roll on the d100 table like tomcruise suggests below.

Edited by Richardbuxton

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5 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

I’m with dragon cobalt on this one. The need for “random encounters” is eliminated by the ability to spend threat (and possibly advantage) on various rolls. 

Rolled 3 threat in combat? A wandering scouting party heard the fighting and shows up to reinforce the bad guys. 

Rolled 2 threat on a survival roll while hiking through the wilderness? Gotta cross a river. 

 

Basically, the narrative dice mean GMs don’t need to micro manage travel times or enemy behavior and can structure adventures more like a story rather than a travel log. 

Early morning shopping in the market? What's going on? :huh:

Random Encounter tables are a traditional way to introduce new plots and story elements into a campaign. YMMV.

While a d100 table is easy enough to set up, I think that using the narrative dice symbols might add a level of thought to that creation.

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If you were doing a traditional hexcrawl style thing, one thing you could do is tie the concept of random encounters into the players' rolls.

So, maybe the party's guide has to roll a Navigation roll at the start of each day to move a hex without getting lost (Tomb of Annihilation does this, as I'm sure plenty do). The Threats and Despairs on that roll could call for a roll on a d100 random encounter table, maybe adding modifiers the more Threat/Despair you generate. And excess Advantages or Triumph could lead to "good" random encounters like stumbling onto lost loot or finding leads on your current adventure. 

Edited by Tom Cruise

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2 hours ago, admutt said:

Early morning shopping in the market? What's going on? :huh:

Players makes a regular negotiation roll for their purchases. Threat or despair means their is something interesting going on (thief stealing from someone, slave auction with someone they know/need, noble entourage passing through being arrogant...). If not enough threat is rolled, nothing interesting going on, PCs make their purchases and move on to next planned encounter. Players could also spend advantage to know one of the merchants and get a good deal, find a clue to the story, spot the person they are hunting, whatever. 

 

2 hours ago, admutt said:

Random Encounter tables are a traditional way to introduce new plots and story elements

Yes, traditional. Traditional because designers and GMs didn’t have the tools available to make such additions fit in more organically. This isn’t really directed at you, just a general observation, but I have noticed recently a lot of people trying to recreate in modern games the flavor of restrictions that were in place in older games (D&D) that were only there because of limitations in the available rules. 

Quote

 

Gygax creates D&D, trying to simulate a believable mytho-legendary setting

because of limitations in the rules he created, certain things don’t make sense/are cumbersome/annoying, but are tolerated because there is no other way to implement them with existing rules

those things become set in people’s minds as “the way it should be”

other rules are invented that don’t have the same limitations

people try to create the same things that don’t make sense/are cumbersome/annoying in the new rules despite the fact that the limitations that necessitated them no longer exist

 

 

Sorry, bit if a hijacking of your thread, but it’s just something I’ve been noticing that seems really weird to me and I haven’t had anywhere else to bring it up. 

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2 hours ago, admutt said:

Early morning shopping in the market? What's going on? :huh:

7 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

Players makes a regular negotiation roll for their purchases. Threat or despair means their is something interesting going on (thief stealing from someone, slave auction with someone they know/need, noble entourage passing through being arrogant...). If not enough threat is rolled, nothing interesting going on, PCs make their purchases and move on to next planned encounter. Players could also spend advantage to know one of the merchants and get a good deal, find a clue to the story, spot the person they are hunting, whatever. 

I don't think any of that precludes having a random encounter table to draw from as well. Players rolled excess Threat? Consult your list of Market Threats (or City Threats; whatever you've prepared).

I agree that thinking about this as a table might be too daunting though. Maybe laying both dice out on a grid and filling in the resultant boxes would make it easier to visualize? Or maybe use the Genesys Dice with a Die Drop Table -- those are always fun to make. Either way, I think there's something in this idea that would make for another good GMing tool in this system.

27 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

Yes, traditional. Traditional because designers and GMs didn’t have the tools available to make such additions fit in more organically. This isn’t really directed at you, just a general observation, but I have noticed recently a lot of people trying to recreate in modern games the flavor of restrictions that were in place in older games (D&D) that were only there because of limitations in the available rules. 

 

Sorry, bit if a hijacking of your thread, but it’s just something I’ve been noticing that seems really weird to me and I haven’t had anywhere else to bring it up. 

No issues - I'm all for polite discussion.

I don't really think of tables like this as restrictions, just as additional prompts for the GM. I know I've run sessions where I've been too tired to easily come up with something on the fly. Having some cool tables to roll on would have been a nice bonus -- not a crutch to use all the time, but just something to use off and on when the ideas aren't quite flowing. Or to build off of -- just because you've written something in the table, doesn't mean you have to stick with it word-for-word. Or to use as a phrase to prompt ideas from the players -- that's always more fun! :)

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18 minutes ago, admutt said:

I know I've run sessions where I've been too tired to easily come up with something on the fly

I’m not suggesting a GM shouldn’t prep some incidental, non-plot relevant encounters in advance. I just don’t see the need to roll for them on a table. 

Quote

Every hour the characters spend in the dungeon, roll a D6. On a 1-2 a random encounter happens, roll on the chart below to see what it is. 

Has always seemed to me to seriously bog down play with needless minutia. 

 

Seems to me that, instead of a random chart to roll on got incidental encounters, what a genesis GM wants is a stack of index cards for each location in the adventure with a minor encounter of some sort and the threat (or advantage?) cost to trigger it. Then, when players make a roll, the GM can decide “things are getting bogged down a bit, which of these can push the characters into doing stuff again”

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5 minutes ago, Forgottenlore said:

I’m not suggesting a GM shouldn’t prep some incidental, non-plot relevant encounters in advance. I just don’t see the need to roll for them on a table. 

Seems to me that, instead of a random chart to roll on got incidental encounters, what a genesis GM wants is a stack of index cards for each location in the adventure with a minor encounter of some sort and the threat (or advantage?) cost to trigger it. Then, when players make a roll, the GM can decide “things are getting bogged down a bit, which of these can push the characters into doing stuff again”

I agree that index cards can be a great tool in this way too. For the right GM, anyway -- I generally find them too fiddly, in a physical-interaction sense. Every GM is going to have different requirements for their game. Index cards require a degree of dexterity that some of us might be lacking; flipping through a binder with some pages of tables (or not-tables; lists, related images or phrases, for instance) can be much easier. Also, a single page with a bunch of related ideas on it can itself be a springboard to more ideas when looked at as a whole.

As far as the original idea of this thread goes, there's something appealing about finding more ways to use the narrative dice. Maybe this one's a bit complicated, but there's a germ here somewhere ...

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Oh! 

 

So, if this is for a hex grid, split it into terrain types. Urban, Volcanic, Badlands, Forest, Underground, Hills, whatever more you can think of. Each terrain type has a different skill needed to "chart" it - survival for forests, badlands. Streetwise for Urban. Knowledge for Extraplanar. Whatever. Terrain also has a difficulty - a base of 2, upgraded or downgraded depending on how hostile it is (so, a Volcano might be upgraded 4 times, so it'd be 3 red dice to explore.) 

Success means you explore the area in [base time] (say a day?), with each additional success knocking it down a few hours. Failure means you haven't fully charted it. 

Advantage and Threat, Triumph and Despair are spent on unique tables based off each terrain type. If you go all in, you'd have *just* as many options as this random table, but it'd also be related to the player's skill and let the players take a hand in exploring the world. Nothing was quite as fun for me as playing Dawn of Worlds with friends and plopping down ancient temples and new cities. 

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I don't think a table is necessary for two reasons: 1) The system already have a set of dices which make possible a deeper evolution of any scene; 2) Maybe something too generic couldn't fit very well in all settings (eventhough the system works very well with cross setting things).

I would think in something like "roll few dices and try to interpret that result as the new thing happening in that moment". Could be one of each dice all together, maybe two yellows and two reds, i don't know, but I think they must be in equal sizes (good and bad things) just to create a 50:50 random stuff. Use the success and failure to identify how closer or distant (time aspect) they are from what they are looking for (remembering that a random table is usually used to fullfill the time or something like that, not a "let's see what is the next mission", just something new happening. It's possible to create tables to help in the adventure creating also, which I think needs a different approach). Advantages and threats could represent exaclty this: good things or problems happening. Tryumph and despair could be exactly what is should be as well.

After this we can create a table to help, one of them with 1-6 representing success and failure (1 = 1 success, 2 = 2 successes, 3 = ..., 5 = 5 successes, 6 = failure). Create something for advantages and threats (maybe with 8 slots, I don't think are enough dices in that roll to create more than 3 or 4 of any of them). And a small one for T and D, maybe with a 4 slots? 1 or 2 T's, 1 or 2 D's. Do this just to help to understand what's is going one. I don't think the results should tell exactly how many allies or enemies appear. The GM and players should interpret the results as well as the regular rolls in my opition.

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If any table was made it should just be a source for inspiration during a session. A roll is made, it’s decided an encounter should happen, quickly roll on the table for inspiration. The inspiration should then be modified by the results of the original dice roll, here’s an example:

Navigating through the low levels of a hive city, gangs and other nasties roam, Streetwise is rolled. 3 Failure (+30 to roll) and Despair with 4 Advantage. Players roll 80, add thirty to get 110... A very large (Silhouette 2) robot!

So the gm decides this is a now hostile maintinence robot, long forgotten by the city, ruthlessly scavenges to keep life support machinery in the area operating at peak efficiency.

The PC’s decide to spend their Advantage on the Narrative: it’s current Engaged in battle liberating a gang of androids of their gear, and heads. The PC’s have a good view of the fight, although they need to get through the area they can wait patiently for the right moment to act.

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I think random encounters are a perfectly good use of threats and despairs. It’s like Torchbearer’s random encounters that are triggered by twists. The random part of the name has always been at the discretion of the GM (preplanned roster, totally random gonzo, not random at all except in the expectations of the characters—whatever fits the style of the GM). 

Edited by ObiWanBilbo

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Useful ideas in both the OP and the replies, random encounter gens could be useful if the OP wants the encounters to sometimes be a surprise too- they also have to then work with what they've got and it means the same initial setting could evolve a lot differently in different plays- a bit like treasure and searches- there are a lot of options but I'd say working with the Genesys dice where possible is the best approach for most things.

 

A lot of it depends how much you want your plays to be creatively led or steered by the game, some players like both, others have a preference.

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With the narrative dice, it would depend on where and what the characters are doing, but Star Wars has several different "spending results in X environment" that I would reference. A Survival check in the mountains that turns up despair or threat could cause an encounter with a bear or a group of poachers or something.

If I need to think of ideas, I may use a d10/d100 chart before or between sessions, but nothing during a session. Or (and I literally just thought this up) take a deck of playing cards, shuffle, and deal out a set number (5 or 7 or 10, etc.); each suit represents an encounter type (heart could be social, diamond could be item/treasure/mercantile, club could be combat, spade could be environmental or other), while the face value determines the intensity or level.

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1 hour ago, themensch said:

I must have missed the post wherein the genesys font was available for use on these forums.  How is this achieved?

I figured it out!  Using this BBCode:

[font=genesys]asthfd[/font]

you get this

asthfd

Maybe everyone else knew you could use BBcode here, but it was new to me.

Edited by TheSapient

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