Sunday, April 15, 2012

OA event charts

The subject of random event charts came up on Google+ last week and I thought this might be a good time to look at the yearly, monthly and daily event charts from the original Oriental Adventures.

Most of the annual events look like they would work in nearly any campaign.  An isolated realm might not have an actual ambassador visit, but some sort of outsider VIP could become a factor to the game.  Tsunamis might need to be replaced if your campaign is entirely inland.

 Note how the monthly events are skewed based upon the annual event.

The daily events don't directly connect to higher level events, rather they are a function of the party's location.  I like how in Rural areas 15% of all encounters are with ordinary bandits or criminals.  "Special" on the court indicates someone in the party receives a message from their lord with some sort of mission or instructions.

There's not really much on these charts that won't work in an occidental setting.


  1. Need to jack the Bushido encounter tables and include "Rude Peasants"

  2. These are the kind of tables that drive me nuts. I think about them, then pull the book of the shelf and look at them, then I'm like: this table is making me do more work than if I just thought up something up myself. Then I put the book back. Then I start thinking and I look at them again the next month. It's like there's _something_ to the OA event tables--some way to make them really cool--but I can't yet crack the code.......

    1. OK, I can see "more work" as a downside, but the function, I think, is related to the idea of "the oracular power of dice", or -C's idea of gaming as shamanistic pursuit. I really buy into that idea, myself, for the most part.

  3. I just did a whole bunch of rolls to cover a year and its not so hard to cook up a narrative, but how you would play it out without getting all railroady I don't know...
    Yearly event: War
    1 Nothing
    2 Injustice
    3 Incursion Minor
    4 nothing
    5 nothing
    6 Recruiting
    7 nothing
    8 Uprising
    9 Birth
    10 Bandits
    11 Bandits
    12 Minor Incursion

    So in February the king unjustly seizes the lands of a small marcher baron, the next month the barons send in a small invasion force into the confiscated fief, all they really have. The king spends two months trying to get his council of lords to give him enough cash to raise an army and kick the bleeders out, which he finally does in June, conscripting a bunch of peasants and getting in some professional routiers from foreign parts. The baron's men scarper, but the king's conscriptions lead to a peasant revolt.

    Birth? The marcher baron has an heir who is spirited away across the border, where he will be raised to oppose the oppressive king. In the meantime the lack of money has led June's conscripts to turn bandit, and the routiers hired on the understanding there would be sieges and sackings to profit from are unhappy at the lack of loot. The mayhem lasts two months and in December the baron takes advantage and swoops in and siezes back his lands.

    Next years event? The Dice say Ambassador, with an Injustice in the first month, so we could extend this story to say that the Baron sends a man to negotiate with the king, and the king, being a bastard, chops his head off.

    Or the same rolls could be cooked a different way for different kind of plot, you know what your players like, and of course the whole thing could just rumble on in the background while the PCs loot their favourite dungeon, with maybe a few extra Barabcon mercenaries trying to lift their ill gotten gains now and again.

    1. That's fantastic. You just generated an entire campaign outline with those rolls.

  4. Zak, these don't need to railroad your players... they're events that are occurring in the campaign world... which bring the world to life. Your players can choose to get involved, or they can ignore, possibly at their own peril, but either way, life goes on in the campaign world!

    I've always loved these tables.

    1. @dave

      Railroading is not remotely, slightly, in any way at all my concern for even a split second. My comment is unrelated to railroading. It is about the utility of the table compared to other possible versions of the table.

      And I am well aware that an event can occur in a gameworld without the PCs being involved.

      Maybe you meant Barry? Barry talked about railroading.

    2. Yes, my apologies... not sure how I confused your comments with his!

  5. Besides keeping the background NPCs in motion, these charts can also help you put your campaign on fast forward.

    If all the players want to skip from beginning construction to a completed stronghold as quickly as possible, you could use these charts to work up a timeline. Then at the next session you can present the events in order and see if they want/need to deal with any of the changes or just skip through each of them.

    Might also give you an excuse to put "Party is flung d20 years into the future" on your magical mishap table.

  6. I used these for Traveller, pretty much as written.

    I think this is one of the cooler things to come out of later 1e AD&D.

  7. I have always loved these tables, but I am one of the few people that actually loved OA, warts and all, anyway.

  8. Very interesting, I'm with Zak, I love the IDEA here but I want something simpler. Thanks for sharing.

  9. These are awesome! I've never got into Oriental Adventures, but maybe it's not too late. Unless gameplay in OA is much different from regular D&D it seems like these are structured so that the yearly table would be sort of background color and/or launching off points for major changes in the campaign. The monthly table is more for the DM to roll on in between sessions and give the PCs something to chew on for a session or two. I'm guessing OA is not as much about dungeons?

    1. That was the impression I got back when I first bought it in the 80s. It really seemed to be trying to focus on conveying a foreign culture more than providing new classes to dungeon-crawl with. I remember having a hard time wrapping my head around how you were supposed to get a Samurai to adventure with a Ninja, or what in the world Yakuza were supposed to actually do with their time (though of course now in adulthood I have a few ideas). Even the maps in the back were of a typical minor daimyo's reception hall, inn, peasant minka and Buddhist temple rather than some crypt or cavern. In his introduction, Gygax points out that "honor, dignity, training in social graces and ceremonies are as important to adventurers in this milieu as are experience points and magical treasure."

  10. whoa these are pretty rad. I was just thinking about drawing up a daily event table like this. Looks like I just saved myself some time. thanks

  11. I'm way late on this, but I'm catching up after a short hiatus.

    Just wanted to put my two cents in and say that I loves these charts, and I use them to track the background events in the Wilderlands games I run.

    Though the events generated by the charts rarely, if ever, affect the PCs directly, they have informed some encounters.

  12. While I too enjoyed OA, back in the day, being of Japanese heritage, there was all types of details and nuance that seemed missing, and for me prevented from fully engagin in a suspension of disbelief.

    So I've been developing a Japanese horror setting with roots to OA, but for PFRPG, called Kaidan: a Japanese Ghost Story - by Rite Publishing. Although there are already 10 products released: an intro adventure trilogy, a free one-shot, 3 racial supplements, 2 faction guides, and a haunts guide (so far). We have a Kaidan Campaign Setting Kickstarter going on right now, and are almost fully funded, but looking for extra pledges to get to additional printed book releases.

    Kaidan is kind of a cross between ideas from Ravenloft and Oriental Adventures with my own spin. Yakuza is a faction, not a class, that contains many classes. Samurai is a social caste that includes 4 kinds of samurai, yojimbo ranger, onmyoji wizard and much more. Relying heavily on Buddhist concepts for reincarnation, though darkly twisted with chances of becoming yokai, oni, or undead, besides reincarnation to different social castes.

    I think it's closer to Japanese ideology and detail than OA ever was, but then we are relying more closely to authentic Japanese history, culture and folklore.