So this post is less of a variant rule, and more of some hopefully useful random encounter tables with a "low magic" theme. Truth be told, there are still a few "fantastic" monsters in there, but I've tried to limit them to traditional mythological creatures, rather than more outlandish creatures.
The GM may decide the encounter starting distance or use the table provided below. Note the distances below are based on daytime activities and assumes various obstructions cause the parties to first notice each other at (relatively) short distances. Unusually poor visibility or an abundance of hiding places may further reduce starting distances at the GM’s discretion.
Generally speaking, the earth’s curvature from ground level creates a horizon about 3 miles distant. The higher you are, the further you can see. From the deck of a tall ship a person might see up to about 5 miles, or 7 miles from a 36 ft crows nest. From a 1,000 ft tower or mountain, a person can see up to approximately 40 miles. Note 1 yard (0.9 m) = 3 feet, and 1 mile (1.6 km) = 1,760 yards = 5,280 ft.
Random Encounter Tables
The Cities, Towns & Villages table has 50 entries that are almost all non-combat encounters. The other tables have 20 encounters, divided up into approximately 70% combat encounters, 15% hazards and 15% side trek seeds.
Of course an encounter with Beastmen need not necessarily lead to combat, although that is likely. Depending on how the GM introduces the encounter, the adventurers might sneak around the Beastmen, fool them into chasing a decoy, or attempt to negotiate or intimidate their way through.
Similarly, a street encounter with a repugnant noble might start off with witty banter but conclude with deadly combat. Or a hazard such as a rockslide might be detected by an experienced wilderness ranger and circumvented. The tables are intended as organized inspiration, nothing more.
The Random Encounter tables are not divided up into “level appropriate” encounters. In a living, breathing, fantasy world, the adventurers might encounter anything out in the wilderness; from a pack of wolves to an ancient Dragon. How the party goes about managing such situations is a fundamental part of being an adventurer!
Rolling twice on the encounter tables however allows the GM to select the best encounter for the circumstances, which might include moderating extreme results. It goes without saying the GM is free to ignore the tables altogether and simply improvise her own encounter. In that case the rolled results might provide some inspiration.
Note: These tables sometimes refer to Luck checks, which are part of my work in progress Low Fantasy Gaming system. It's easy enough to substitute Luck checks with a saving throw of some kind.
So here they be, "Houserule" #11: Low Magic Random Encounter Tables. Enjoy!
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