Encounters in the 'Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting'

Michael O. Varhola
Following is the introduction to the section on Encounters in Skirmisher Publishing's Swords of Kos Fantasy Campaign Setting! On the most recent episode of the “d-Infinity Live!” show, “The Road Goes Ever On,” we talked enough about random encounters and the relationship to travel in general, and I mentioned the Kos milieu a number of times in particular, and I therefore wanted to share some of the pertinent material that appears in it.
 
As characters explore Kos and, ultimately, the islands and countries that lie beyond it throughout the Mediterranean and the lands of Europe, Asia, Africa, and other places, they will encounter, sometimes completely by chance, all sorts of characters, creatures, and conditions. Some will simply be the mundane inhabitants of those places going about their daily business, unaware of or uninterested in the concerns of the characters. Others may be more peculiar in nature or take an interest in the adventurers based on anything from friendliness to malice to simple curiosity. Storytellers should not assume, in any event, that every encounter between characters and others, or even most of them, needs to result in violence, even in the case of creatures that are more-or-less malicious. Harpies, for example, might relish waking characters with their horrible shrieking, but not have any desire to actually attack them; large beings like giants might not deign to even notice characters or to want to interact with them in any way; and local military patrols might simply want to determine whether strangers pose any sort of a threat. 
 
This chapter contains 21 system-free encounter tables for general and specific areas on the island of Kos and the lands surrounding it. All of them can be used either individually or in conjunction with each another, and within the context of the Kos campaign setting or as part of any other milieu a storyteller might be using for their own games or stories. While they are designed in the form of traditional random encounter tables, they are also intended as much as anything to convey information about the places with which they are associated, and can be used in whatever way a storyteller finds to be most productive. Following are some additional things that can help storytellers most effectively use the encounter tables:
 
* In general, chance of an encounter is 10% per hour while characters are moving or exploring and 10% every two hours while they are stationary or camping (storytellers should, of course, exercise judgment when applying this rule or using the tables in general). To use one of the tables, roll d20 and apply the cumulative modifiers provided to the roll. Results can also be extrapolated upon and multiplied by 10 to determine the nature of nearby communities (e.g., if eight Dwarves were encountered, then the storyteller could assume that a colony of 80 Dwarves was located within a mile or so). 
 
* Characters might also see from afar normal birds, animals, and perhaps even local people, especially in heavily-settled, areas but might not come into contact with them unless going out of their way to do so. If actively seeking a specific sort of encounter — e.g., game animals — characters can make an appropriate check (e.g., Spot in OGL games), and add or subtract the results to the encounter check to increase the chance that is the one they will get.
 
* In cases where creatures that might not exist in a particular world are generated, the storyteller has any number of options, to include substituting something appropriate, re-rolling, or simply choosing appropriate items from the tables.
 
* Crete and the other islands of the Cyclades and central Aegean Sea were the places most heavily affected by the eruption of the Thera volcano. With few exceptions, they are now uninhabited or solely the domain of monsters, especially aberrations, chimerical beasts, and undead. One way storytellers can generate encounters in such areas is to use one of the standard tables — such as the one for general Wilderness Encounters or the one for Coastal Encounters — and then tweak them to take into consideration the toxic environment (e.g, apply the characteristics of the Mutant Race described in d-Infinity Volume #4: Dark Future ).
 
* Storytellers can randomly determine the inhabitants of a particular un-keyed area by using the most appropriate nation- or terrain-based random encounter tables (e.g., Mountain if the characters are traveling through a mountainous area).
 
* Contents of unknown islands can also be randomly determined. For every 1/4 square mile an island is in size, there is a 10% chance that it will be occupied by something from the table of Maritime Encounters that appears on page 83. An island that is 1 square mile in area, for example, will thus have a 40% chance of being occupied by something from this table and one that is 2 1/2 square miles in area has a 100% chance of being so occupied, one that is 5 square miles will have two such encounters, one that is 7 1/2 square miles will have three, etc. Likewise, for every full square mile in size an island is there is a 10% chance that it will be occupied by something from one of the other appropriate encounter tables (e.g., Hills, Wilderness).