Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Random Encounters part Two: Random Events

The universe of Traveller is big enough that almost anything can happen. The referee's job is to determine what has happened, and how it affects & influences the PCs. The world/universe should not be static, just waiting for the PCs to act upon it.

In a previous post, I talked about how the Random Encounters mechanic in Classic Traveller is a tool for the referee in crafting adventures.  It also works for introducing contacts & patrons, and showing the players the game world through play.

The Random Encounters Table is set up as what is now called a D66 table; you roll 2D6 but do not add the two dice together, one die  represents the tens digit and the other the ones digit. Combine the two and you find that entry on the table.

The last part of the table, the 6x entries, is blank. I take this to mean that the referee  has some customization space to add in his own kind of random encounters. Old-school games like Traveller were  easy for the referee customize; the rules did not try to define everything.

The Animal encounters rules included the concept of the terrain tables providing challenges to the PCs while out exploring the wilderness. These were natural hazard events, like carnivorous plants, rock slides and bad weather kept the adventurers on their toes. 

I have used the custom space at the bottom of the Random Encounters table to define some random events that can happen in civilized areas.  I decided to group these events by their general nature. 

The world around the PCs should be in motion and active.

Random Encounters Table extension:

61 Political Events

62 Social Events
63 Religious Events
64 Weather Events
65 Space Events
66 Economic Events

61 Political Events
1 Political Leader appointed/dies
2 Political holiday – government agencies closed
3 Pro/Anti-government demonstration
4 Change in ruling party
5 anti-government terrorist action
6 Voting day

62 Social Events
1 Vehicular or structural crash
2 Cultural holiday – all businesses & services shut down
3 Change in law level
4 Public protest pro-/anti- a social or cultural group
5 criminal activity (bank robbery, etc)
6 Murder of a public figure

63 Religious Events
1 A religious leader is appointed/dies
2 Religious holiday
3 Act of religious persecution
4 (un)popular religious law passed
5 Public demonstration pro- or anti- religion
6 Miraculous occurrence

64 Weather Events
1 Seismic quake
2 Drought
3 Hurricane/ wind storm
4 Record low temperatures
5 Record high temperatures
6 Flash flooding

65 Space Events
1 Solar flares
2 New solar system body discovered
3 Pirate activity in the system
4 Collision in space
5 Crash at the starport
6 Crash not at the starport

66 Economic Events
1 New taxes enacted
2 Tax protest rally
3 Terrorist attack on financial center
4 Major business failure
5 Major new resource discovered
6 Bank scandal

What can the referee make of these things? Several of the events involve large groups of people in public places, which can be opportunities for petty crimes committed on or by the PCs. In some cases people will need rescue or other help; these people can become Patrons or sources of Rumors. Abstract or news-related events can introduce a Patron; someone who has experienced the Event wants the PCs to do something about it. 

Events are world-building. If you use an Event, something has happened to the people of this planet, and it should have some lasting impact. Sometimes the impact is short-lived, like cold weather, but in other cases the effects may last for years.

Most of the time, if you tell the players that planet Snodgrass has a high crime rate, they won't care. If they witness a bank robbery or a terrorist attack, they become part of that planet's story. They will remember those events.

Of course, these are only my suggestions of what kind of events might happen to the PCs. Even within these categories, there are plenty of other possibilities. Referees should keep an eye on the headlines of world news. Check out the history section at the public library for a wealth of possible events & plot hooks.

Use random encounters and events to give the players a way to interact with the world, and have an impact on the world. Those will be the stories the players will tell their friends about.

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