More Major Encounters

Beefing up fixed locations

I remember when I could post once a week. Those days aren't over, but they're harder to come by. Work's been a challenge (but in a good way), and I've been splitting my RPG time between Chimerapedia, a little Swords & Wizardry project, and some sandbox construction tools. Another sideline is playing PartyPoker in Hungarian. Hey, it's how the Internets work.

The Story So Far

Getting back to the Minocra mini-setting, I started working on the fixed encounters, starting with the encounter format suggested a few weeks ago, and adding some random guidance. By “fixed encounters,” I mean what Part 2 of Hex-based Campaign Design calls Major Encounters.

If I had to draw a distinction between Major and Minor encounters, it would be this: Major encounters are permanent fixtures in the campaign, known to everyone in the setting. Minor encounters are known only to locals or to those who happen upon them. Put it this way: New York City is a Major Encounter. Rosie’s Bar across from the PATH station at Exchange Place in Jersey City is Minor.

Major Encounters

In world-building terms, Major encounters “dominate” a 25-mile Atlas hex. As suggested, the list is only six entries long because there are few things that can legitimately command the area of an entire Atlas hex. Here’s the basic list:

  1. Settlement
  2. Fortress
  3. Religious order
  4. Ruin
  5. Monster
  6. Natural Phenomenon

I'll deal with each of these individually over the next few weeks, then provide examples using the Minocra setting.


Any organised and self-sufficient population of 500 or more. Roll for each category below:

 1    Town (3d6+2)x100         Geriatrics   Autocracy      Lawful    Food
 2    Town (3d6+2)x100         Thieves      Bureaucracy    Lawful    Textiles
 3    Town (3d6+2)x100         Magi         Monarchy       Neutral   Services
 4    City (3d4)x1000          Military     Oligarchy      Neutral   Slaves
 5    City (3d4)x1000          Merchants    Syndicracy     Neutral   Arms
 6    Free City (3d4)x1000     Scholars     Theocracy      Chaotic   Minerals
 7    Metropolis (3d6+2)x3000  Secret Cult  Dictatorship   -         Livestock
 8    City State (3d6+2)x3000  Adventurers  Confederacy    -         Booze
* Ruling body occupied by d6: 1-3 men; 4 women; 5-6 both
  Underlined entries are walled settlements

Each settlement has a quirk, determined via the Random Social Hooks table. This table works best for singular and independent settlements—it’s not generally workable for describing major settlements within a larger, cohesive kingdom (though your kingdom may not be cohesive...).

Minocra Settlements

Using the table above, here's what I came up with for Minocra's two major settlements (my results are shown to show you what I was working with).

Hex #1314: Town of Alaha (pop. 1,500)
(What I rolled: walled town ruled by geriatric autocracy; lawful; slaves)
Alaha is the walled capital of the dominion of the same name. The place is ruled by Ad-Uh-Falil, a posh (and now-elderly) adventurer who carved out his private Minocran kingdom decades ago, before the island became a colonial interest. Falil's subjects are local Saba natives gone "soft," though their loyalty to the exalted is assured as Alaha offers succor against the savage Usabir jungle clans. In fact, Falil is wont to launch periodic slaving expeditions to the capture the unwashed Usabir masses; those unlucky enough to be shackled are sent to the mainland to serve on the Padishah's pleasure galleys. Falil considers Alaha the only real civilised area on Minocra and is not likely to welcome an influx of new rulers to compete with.


Hex #1121: City-Island of Kapuros (pop. 900)
(What I rolled: walled town ruled by thief autocracy; Neutral; minerals)
The city-island of Kapuros is a buccaneers' haven, ruled by the self-styled sea-lord Mus Vaab. The city and the island are one in the same, as Kapuros is built atop the barnacled foundations of a ruined submarine city. Pirate captains visit the port to trade, resupply, replace hands, and debauch as their tastes (and stamina) allow. Kapuros' permanent residents are mostly mainland refugees—outcasts, criminals, or drifters who serve (or serve with) the freebooters who make port here. They recognise Vaab's authority only inasmuch as he provides protection (and that, of course, for a price). Among other intrigues, there are certain entrances to the Ruin Under the Waves, a reference to the stone and coral pile that supports the city, though few bother to take them—it is generally held that a corsair's death on the waves is preferable to a burglar's death beneath them.

Final Words

Two things: First, I like starting with settlements, if for no other reason than these will be of interest to PCs looking for supplies, training, rumours, and healing. The descriptions above represent the most I've really thought about Minocra, and as a result, they've become the contextual foundation for what will follow.

Second, when you're writing up this stuff, it's important to make the random results fit the terrain. Who builds a city in the middle of the ocean? Pirates, that's who. How can it be in the middle of the ocean? Because it's built on top of some fish-man ruins, that's how. Score one for random rolls—I never would have thought of this on my own.


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