Saturday, April 7, 2012

E is for Encounters

This was originally going to be about gamer etiquette until I realized two things.
  1. There's a blog post about gamer etiquette from some gamer's blog at least once a month and my post won't add anything new to the discussion.
  2. All "gamer etiquette" issues are less about gaming and more about an individual's overall personality and can basically be summed up with "quit acting like an ass."
So I decided to get back on the archipelago campaign idea with trying to figure out what encounters the party will be able to run into on the first island (which I have given the placeholder name "Malakoah".) While I have a few locations for set encounters/"dungeons", I am also going to need a few "random" encounters for those moments where the party is moving from point A to point B, or camping for the night. This is not going to be something at the expense of the exploration aspect of the campaign. On the contrary, it's something that should go hand-in-hand with delving deep within the darkest reaches of the island. Since this first island will be for low-level characters, there are a few guidelines I'll need to use to set the theme of the campaign.

You are not alone.
The island may be newly discovered, but that doesn't mean it is uninhabited. There will be different tribes of indigenous people on Malakoah, and they may not all get along. Mistaking one tribes customs for another could be a major faux pas for the party. How this plays out could mean the difference between having allies and having enemies.

In addition, there will be a total of three expedition parties on the island, of which the PCs will be a member of one. The other two will be competition for who can discover the island's secrets first. It's another situation where combat may not be the best option. It's one thing to trip up the competition and send them down the wrong path, it's another to outright murder them.

Keep it mundane, but exotic.
Animals are to be the most likely "monster" encounter on the island, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. One of the key elements of the campaign should be that the party is out of their element. They may be familiar with some of the fauna back in their homeland, but on a remote island, there could be a number of variant species of bird, insect, reptile and arachnid just waiting to come down on them. Nature can be just as dangerous as the supernatural, maybe even more so. Players are used to the hordes of humanoids and demons GMs throw at them, so they may likely underestimate the danger of a common, yet poisonous snake. Besides, if you keep the majority of the threats normal, the supernatural ones become all the more special.

Throw a little evil at them.
While racing against other expeditions and fighting off giant spiders will be part of the normal game, one cannot understate the importance of a good villain. This is a fantasy based campaign after all. Who knows what darkness lies within the mountain peaks and jungle depths. And if you don't throw a few of the classic and not so classic bad guys at the players every once in a while, they might get bored and lose interest. Plus, the presence of such creatures could lead to questions about the rest of the archipelago. Questions that the party won't hesitate to find answers to.

Thoughts? Suggestions? Let me know what you think.

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