For interest sake I pulled out one of my copies of Isle of Dread. For most, it is the benchmark for hex-crawling modules. I wanted to approximate the ratio of hexes-to-encounters. Using the methodology mentioned in my last post there is a 1-in-3 chance of a hex having a monster for a hexes-to-encounter ratio of 3:1 which gives me approximately 133 monster encounters in my 400 hexes.
Just eyeballing the number of hexes on the island, I would guesstimate that there are approximately 400 hexes (has anyone actually counted them? I am far too lazy). Using the numbered island map from the module which as 24 encounters and adding 5 for the number of locations on Taboo Island, there are a total of 29 encounters on the island. Let's round up to 30. I am assuming that all numbered encounters on the map are with monsters which may not be correct. I took a quick look and didn't see any exceptions but I could be wrong. This gives a ratio of 13 hexes to 1 encounter.
My hexes are far more densely populated with monsters than those on the iconic island. I'm okay with this. One reason I am okay with a higher number of encounters on my map is that it is for an open, exploration focused game in the West Marches style. I want the PCs to go out into the wilderness and find stuff. Also, the there is an explicit social contract that characters will try to return to town at the end of a gaming session so the quicker implied consumption of resources that will result from more encounter will not be an issue.
I am currently stocking a wilderness hex map. It is 20 hexes by 20 hexes numbered 0 to 19 in each direction.
I have mentioned in the past that I stock wilderness hexes in the same manner as I stock dungeon rooms. Each hex is treated as a "room" and I roll on the table in section E "Stock the Dungeon" on page B52.
Instead of rolling 400 d6's I set up a simple random number generator in each cell of a 20 by 20 cell spreadsheet in excel with a vlookup function that referred to a table that matched the one on page B52.
Below are the very high level contents of my 400 hexes:
"To choose a class, a player should first look for his or her highest ability scores." - Moldvay was a rabid power gamer ;) As an aside I always loved playing clumsy thieves, sickly fighters, clerics that are lacking common sense, etc. It is funny how often these "sub-par" characters can sometimes last in a campaign.
Strength, Intelligence, et al are called "ability" scores instead of attribute scores, stats, etc. The word "ability" is also used throughout the descriptions.
"Strength" is a measure of muscle power and the ability to use that power.
"Intelligence" is the ability to learn and remember knowledge, and the ability to solve problems.
I noticed a number of times in the descriptions terms (or closely related terms) that become "skills" in later editions - balance, endurance, intuition, knowledge, etc.
Ability Score Adjustments - "This adjustment shows that a character may practice hard and learn how to fight or reason well..." I always new the option for the 2-for-1 swap but I don't remember ever reading this sentence before. As such I find it somewhat perplexing that Constitution cannot be raised or lowered.
A very short description about Hit Points and what they are. No talk about them being part luck or divine favour such as found in the 1st edition Dungeon Masters Guide.
Surprise, surprise... I love the standardized -3/+3 ability score bonuses.
"Maximum Number of Retainers" - at one time or over the life of a character?
The call for GM's has gone out for Underground Con. After some thought I decided to straight-up steal two ideas from Delta's D&D Hotspot. The games I have volunteered to DM are:
1. Corsairs of the Realm
The King of the Realm has quietly declared hostilities on the allied free cities of Greyhawk and Hardby, signing Letters of Course authorizing privateers to hunt and capture their shipping. The hostilities only last for a single sailing season; 16 weeks. If you set forth and capture three merchant vessels for the King of the Realm over the course of a 16-week sailing season, you will be proclaimed Barons of the Realm. However, the seas are dangerous as you must not only watch out for vessels from Greyhawk and Hardby patrolling the seas but also the legendary Kraken is rumoured to haunt the deeps…
A naval game using the 1981 Basic and Expert Dungeons & Dragons rules. It will involve three levels of action: (1) the strategic campaign level (which coast to prowl), (2) the tactical ship-to-ship level, and (3) the man-to-man combat level. Note that the names of Greyhawk and Hardby are just used for fun and do not represent the same cities portrayed in the Greyhawk Campaign Setting. 2. The Northern Marches
The King of the Realm has declared that anyone who explores the Northern Marches and returns to the town of New Hareth with enough treasure to construct a keep (100,000 gp) to protect its inhabitants will be proclaimed new Barons of the Realm. Beware, winter is coming. Can you survive the harsh, monster haunted northern wilderlands and return to New Hareth with the treasure before winter comes?
An exploration focused old-school hex crawl using the 1981 Basic and Expert Dungeons & Dragons rules.
If one of those doesn't garner interest, I am considering swapping it out with a Battlestar Galactic game using a hack of The Mountain Witch - getting my new-school on.
Looking at the list of special monsters that I was planning on using got me thinking about what their relationships would be like. I think these will allow PCs to interact with various groups in different ways.
View themselves as the Ghoul-Queen's favorites
Look down upon the lowly kobolds and bestial gnolls
Are Sidra's hand in the wider world
Hate all men
Would love to throw off the yoke of their Gnoll overseers but know they can't stand up to one tribe of them much less two
Like to dominate the gnorlock slaves who are likely the only inhabitants of the Pit more lowly than themselves
Two tribes competing for the Ghoul-Queen's favour
Each wants to claim the Pit as their own territory and eliminate the other tribe
Pick on the weaker kobolds
Subjugated by the gnolls and kobolds
Some have escaped the slave pens and are hiding deeper in the mines. They secretly continue to contact those that are still slaves and encourage them to rise up in a likely ill-advised rebellion
Some that have escaped have ventured into the Cyst of the Slimes and have been charmed by the Great Grey Ooze
Some of the other escapees may be influenced by some of the grey ooze charmed gnorlocks
The gnorlocks in the mine ostracize and torment the few hobgoblin slaves
Eat Slug People
Want to be rid of the mothmen and live in peace
Pathetic creatures that lurk in the shadows trying to avoid the Fleshshifters
Alien creatures that serve the Ghoul-Queen for some unknown reason and try to find subjects of all species for their vile experiments