What’s Out Standing in that Open Field?

I don’t know if you attended AetherCon over the weekend, but I announced a new product line for Moebius Adventures – Open Spaces. This series, similar to Little Spaces, will offer some inspiration for what to do in those wide open spaces every world seems to have plenty of… fields, roads, mountains, swamps, forests, and so on. Sure, we can always rely on the Encounter Tables in Dungeons & Dragons and Pathfinder (check out the always awesome d20pfsrd for some immediate gratification on this front), but what if we want a bit more variation than just a bunch of monsters to throw at our PCs?

Vector illustration of little village landscape with fields.Open Spaces aims to offer a mix of guided inspiration and random tables to create a context for our imaginations to take over and make connections… For instance, if I have the PCs crossing a big, open field somewhere on their way to their next adventure, I might roll up:

  • Encounter disposition: Bad
  • Encounter subject disposition: Bad
  • Type encountered: Bandit or thief
  • Group size: 3
  • Motives: Natural
  • Descriptor: Burned

Doesn’t sound good for the PCs, but I might arrange things like this:

“The smell of burned grass wafts from somewhere up ahead. If you track it down, you come across a wide-open field at the edge of a small stand of trees and a demolished house. The house and surrounding area was burned recently and three men are wandering towards you, weapons drawn from the house.

Situation: The fire occurred naturally during a lightning storm earlier in the day. Though the fire burned itself out in the rain that followed, it wasn’t soon enough for the family trapped inside the house. Three roaming bandits happened to see the home on fire and sifted through the still-hot ruins to see what they could salvage.

One of the three bandits has a large sack containing a few burned books, some basic bladed weapons (a short sword, three daggers, and a small axe), and a smaller bag of melted coins. All three are covered in soot and would rather not be reported to the authorities by witnesses. Though they did nothing more than take advantage of the situation, their anger and shame at being discovered will fuel their way to attacking the PCs.

Resolution: None of the three thieves is a particularly adept fighter, but all three will use their short swords and daggers to their best ability. If one falls, there is a 50% chance that the other two will flee. If one of the PCs falls, there is a 50% chance they will be emboldened and attack more wildly than before.

If they survive and keep any of the thieves alive, they can track down the local marshal who is responsible for law in the area and report the crime and return the valuables. Any surviving family in the area will appreciate knowing what happened if the PCs can figure out the situation.”

This approach lends itself towards a bit of quick preparation if the GM is looking at the map and sees an area that could use a bit of flavor.

The first two books in this series will focus on Fields and Roads. Books on the horizon may include Deserts, Valleys, Oceans, Mountains, Swamps, Forests, and more.

Interested in learning more? Stay tuned for news of the first release in the next few weeks!

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