Thursday, November 24, 2016

Making Animal Encounters More Friendly

I do not usually write a post on GM prepping but my last post veered into bitching without giving a solution. Specifically I found the section on generating animal or wilderness encounters in Cepheus engine to be difficult.

To be truthful there is a lot of die rolling in some aspects of Tra 2d6 OGl games. To gear up for it I've found d66 cards very useful as well as a big load of dice preferably in at least three different colors.

The d66 deck I use is available from Yaruki Zero Games on RPGNow. Each card has a picture of two dice (red or blue). the dice are totaled as well as broken into d66 notation (for the terminally lazy, looking in a mirror here) as well as a storyteller icon. It's good for when you want to keep the number you rolled in mind for further calculations.

The different colored dice in large number and s perform the same function of recall, just set the dice you made that important roll with aside. As for which is easier to knock over YMMV. The cards get knocked around easier but I've dropped a half pound of dice in one shot. the different colors allow you to make multiple rolls quickly. For example with red, white, and green dice, you can roll a creature or character's strength, dexterity, and endurance in one shot. This speeds things up more than you might expect.

Yes I know online rollers will let you make mass rollings and record the results easily too. I'm more a traditionalist but I use Anydice ( and Troll Dice ( at times and they're both excellent for analyzing the probability of different rolls especially with funky dice pools if you veer into those (ahuh Ghost Dice).

Back to animal encounters. You need a blank encounter sheet something like this.

I originally watermarked each subtype box with a letter for the type of animal or used a pencil to write it in. This might prove useful if you screw around with the type distribution (Skull Island-nothing but omnivores and carnivores and hide the blondes when the Event is triggered!)

The main thing is consolidate the number of tables and sheets you need to refer to

Checklist (with what can go wrong of course)
1) Pencil in animal type in the subtype box unless you know the type distribution already)
2) Note world, terrain, subtype, and size modifiers on top of the sheet
3) Roll subtype (don't forget the mod for terrain). I found it easier to use the cards or multicolored dice to roll all of a general type at once: first all herbivores, then omnivores, carnivores etc.
4) Roll for the type of movement the creature uses. (If there are any size modifiers given with the movement type note them in the box for movement!)
5) Roll for size including modifiers for terrain and movement (which you noted, right?) this is important: record or set aside the number you rolled without mods. You need it for figuring armor later. this is where the cards or the shit ton of dice comes in handy.

I consolidated the terrain mods/movement types and subtype tables onto a single sheet again to avoid flipping or scrolling:

Next you are going to roll up Strength, Dexterity, Endurance, Intelligence, Instinct, and Pack scores. In Cepheus engine you get a page looks like this:

Carrion-Eater (vulture): Scavengers which wait for all other threats to disperse before beginning. Carrion-eaters
have Recon. Instinct +2.
Chaser (wolf): Animals which kill their prey by attacking and exhausting it after a chase. Chasers have Athletics.
Dexterity +4, Instinct +2, Pack +2.
Eater (army ant): Eaters will eat anything they encounter, including characters. Endurance +4. Pack +2.
Filter (earthworm): Herbivores which pass their environment through their bodies are termed filters. Unlike
grazers, which move to food, filters move a flow of matter through themselves and filter out the food.
Endurance +4.
Gatherer (raccoon, chimpanzee): Gatherers are herbivores that collect and store food. Gatherers have Recon.
Pack +2.
Grazer (antelope): Grazers move from food source to food source, often in large packs. Their primary form of
defense tends to be fleeing danger. Instinct +2, Pack +4.
Hijacker (lion): Scavengers which steal the kills of others through brute force or weight of numbers are hijackers.
Strength +2, Pack +2.
Hunter (baboon): Opportunistic predators that stalk easy prey. Hunters have Survival. Instinct +2.
Intermittent (elephant): Herbivores that do not devote their entire time to searching for food. Intermittents
have Pack +4.
Intimidator (coyote): Scavengers which establish their claim to food by frightening or intimidating other
Killer (shark): Carnivores that possess a raw killing instinct, attacking in a frenzied manner. Killers have Natural
Weapons and either Strength or Dexterity +4, Instinct +4, Pack –2.
Pouncer (cat): Pouncers kill by stalking and ambushing their prey. Pouncers have Recon and Athletics. Dexterity
+4, Instinct +4.
Reducer (vermin): Reducers are scavengers that act constantly on all available food, devouring even the remains
left by other scavengers. Pack +4
Siren (venus fly-trap): Sirens create a lure to attract prey. Usually, this lure will be specific to the species the
siren preys on, but some rare lures are universal. Pack –4.
Trapper (spider): An animal which allows its prey to enter a trap. Generally, any creature surprised by a trapper
is caught in its trap. Pack –2.

Instead I made a chart looks like this:

All those mods laid out easy to apply to the rolled stats. Tip: write the stats in the boxes before you start rolling them. You save a lot of time.

6) Roll for the number appearing (since you have rolled Pack already)
7) Record damage dice (based on size). 
8) Roll for weapons type ( printed this table out and recorded the mods for animal type under it for easy reference.)
9) Roll for Armor. This is where you use the actual number you rolled for animal size!
The formula is 2d6 -7+(Number rolled) + modifier for animal type. Again I printed out the table with the mods listed right under them. In the RAW the weapons type, armor and such are jammed into a dense paragraph on another page.

I think that's it for the dice rolling. I found it easier to do several encounter tables like an assembly line: first animal types, then movement, then size etc. for each terrain before moving to the next characteristic. I then go over the tables and look for any animals that look particularly interesting for write a little color for and come up with a canned event (the story icons on the d66 cards is great for this!)

The RAW are no problem really. I just found this way organizes my time far better for creating encounter tables. It also gives me ideas for further modifying the animal generation system (life in a gas giant's atmosphere: no problem! Plasma based life in the corona of a sun ... I'll get back to you.)

Fortunately Cepheus Engine comes with a modifiable SRD in Word so C&P is very easy. I may do some more cheat sheets in the future on using this SRD.