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Exterreri Design Notes: Filling in the Background

In this post, we talk about the random encounters in Exterreri that will aid the GM in adding nightmarish flavour to their world.

Random encounters offer a great opportunity for the GM to help the players feel like they are reivers journeying through a living world. The random encounters in Exterreri are grouped by the corruption level of the world. Combat in nightmare is a brutal affair (and will be covered in a later post) and forced combat encounters should be used sparingly if at all to aid the horror theme. To this end, not all encounters are necessarily violent and clever players should be offered the opportunity to circumvent them. When writing the example random encounters for the zine, I group them into three categories purely for ease of distributing them convincingly.

“Friendly” Encounters

A hastily abandoned camp with a still smouldering campfire. It is nearly identical to the camp that the party last rested at.

These encounters are the least overtly dangerous but still reinforce the horrific nature of the nightmare. They will rarely require a resource investment from the party but offer the opportunity for improve if the party shows more than a passing interest. These encounters are most common in untouched hexes.

“Neutral” Encounters

The bloated corpse of an aelf falls from a nearby tree and bursts when it hits the ground. Its head is nowhere to be found.

These encounters offer the opportunity for combat but can be solved without resorting to violence. They may require an attribute test to avoid and can be used to hint that the party has crossed into corrupted territory. The enemies in these encounters are usually mundane and offer a fair challenge if attacked head-on. These encounters are characteristic of corrupted hexes.

“Hostile” Encounters

Misshapen forms writhe beneath a droning sea of flies that stretches as far as the eye can see.

These encounters are the most dangerous of the bunch and will drain the party’s resources through combat or attribute tests. The odds will be stacked against the reivers that are caught up in these encounters and the most dangerous of the nightmare’s abominations can be drawn to these events. Encountering these terrifying events is a sure sign that the party has entered a lost hex.

You’ll no doubt have noticed that the encounters above don’t follow the “you are ambushed by X monsters” formula. I’ve tried to avoid these simplistic encounters as best I can because I believe that a random encounter should serve as a prompt for the GM. An experienced GM isn’t going to describe X monsters suddenly materialising out of thin air but allowing the freedom to tweak the encounters to suite the party’s narrative is a modern idea that I think we should see more of in OSR rulesets. A truly random world isn’t my idea of a good time and the rules reflect this. Perhaps if I release another product that focuses more on my Wraxian setting I’ll recant on this and add some set-in-stone encounters that suit the flavour of that setting.

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