Building Block Encounters

Last week I talked about encounter design a bit and the keys to both making sure that players are engaged and the GM has measurable goals in the end. But let’s continue that thought a bit more.

If we design a few general encounters, we potentially have some tricks up our sleeve in case we need some ideas prior to or during a particular session. As a “sandbox” style GM, I can definitely see having a need for these from time to time.

Taking that idea one step further, what if we have a collection of encounter “building blocks” that we could mix and match in different ways to create not only individual session plans but entire adventures or even campaigns? We could possibly use the “five room dungeon” approach and combine more general encounter types in a sequence.

Let’s come up with a list of a few potential encounter types:

  • Social Engagement: Party
  • Combat: Offense
  • Combat: Defense
  • Investigation
  • Interrogation/Interview
  • Exploration
  • Reconnaissance
  • Exploitation
  • Introduction

These could be assembled in a few ways, but you almost end up with a bit of an encounter tree.

Encounter Blocks 1

Using this tree, the PCs might be exploring a new area and encounter a group fleeing a local bandit attack. They meet an injured farmer and his family who barely escaped with their lives and the clothes on their backs. They investigate the scene and find a homestead burned to the ground, crops torched, animals killed. They hunt down the bandits, create an attack plan, and demolish the enemy in combat.

That could be a fun game session. 🙂

Let’s try a different thread.

Encounter Blocks 2

The party enters a new town and gets attacked. They investigate and during the investigation are introduced to a group seeking the end of their rivals, who attacked the PCs. The group is invited to a party to meet their potential employers. If the meeting goes well, they are asked to take out the rival gang discretely…

We could mix and match these encounter types in a wide variety of combinations to inspire a bazillion different situations for the PCs to explore.

A random generator could be created to suggest different combinations of events, which could then be mixed and matched with other generators to come up with entirely random adventures. Or whole campaigns.

Yes, I’m liking this approach.

What do you think?

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