View Full Version : Winter Camp - Character advancement and random events

2017-04-01, 09:47 AM
I've been reading this piece on the passage of time during a campaign (http://udan-adan.blogspot.de/2017/01/the-long-haul-time-and-distance-in-d.html) and I really like this idea of having the party hunker down somewhere to spend the winter before going back to adventuring the next year. Something like this goes all te way back to Pendragon, but the idea of a home base or sanctuary is also a pupular feature of Mouse Guard and The One Ring.

I really like this idea, which seems quite well suited for campaigns of long expeditions to strange lands. Some editions of D&D have a rule that characters can only level up once per adventure, whose length is not further specified. If the campaign is meant to run for a long time and not get to very high levels then I could see awarding XP to the characters only at the end of the year when they set up camp for the winter. A year would not have to take up a great lot of play time. If a good amount of the adventuring season is spent on the road, on ships, or burning through the loot of the last adventure, then the season might only consist of 4 to 6 sessions. The idea is not to make the game play slower, but to have the calendar speed past much faster. A new recruit becoming the best warrior the world has ever seen in 3 month is somewhat unbelievable. But when your 20th level fighter is a 50 year old veteran who has been slaying monsters and sorcerers for over 30 years that's a lot more epic and legendary. While still having done the same amount of play time.

Also, after each winter you can have antagonists and allies develop their bases and resources further a good deal while not having major changes suddenly spring up from nowhere.

But I still think there is a place for winter adentures. They just wouldn't be long expeditions but political situations or emergencies. Doing two or three summer adventures followed by a winter adventure would certainly be one way to do it. But I am going with much more unscripted adventures and love the element of the players getting into trouble due to bad luck and having missed to prepare for all eventualities, rather than chosing what should happen to them based on what I know they are capable of and what their preparations are. So I want to make some type of Random Winter Events table filled with hooks for short adventures that could happen while the party is staying in a castle or a village over the winter.

Some options are obvious:
- Barbarian raiders come to steal vital supplies.
- A big scary monster is attacking farms in the night.
- Since a big snow storm no word has come from a nearby village.
- A special medicine is needed from a magic glade or a witches house and it can't wait until spring.

Any other ideas for random events that force the party to go outside in winter, or general thoughts about the concept?

Mark Hall
2017-04-01, 10:56 AM
Some places to check would be the 1e version of Oriental Adventures, which had a "yearly occurrences" chart to map things like this. I'd also take a look at Hackmaster's GMG, since they have "training events"... things that happen when you take 2 weeks to train at a training facility, instead of self-training.

In general, I like the idea, as it gives the impression that the world is bigger than the players... that things are happening beyond their narrow concerns, even if those narrow concerns are "saving the world." However, it can ALSO throw GM plans for a loop, so I'd roll them ahead of time, so you can plan for what will happen, even if the player's can't.

2017-04-01, 08:01 PM
Torchbearer has this as well, though they don't have guidelines for situations that will make the party sally during winter (I think they assume that situations that make you decide to take up the challenge will come up)

As for what you can do with this table, that really depends on what it's for.

If I wanted a system like this to make the world feel alive and give the players decisions to make about their impact on the world come winter, I'd come up with a list of, first, moving parts in and around the town and the base camp (power players and wannabe power players in town, like guilds, temples, nobles, wealthy merchants, raiders who might attack, etc.), and then also a second list of individuals and groups each PC has a close connection with (mentors, apprentices, family, business contacts, vassals, lieges). Then for each of those list, come up with a few things that could happen with them. If you want an elaborate dice-based table you can assign probabilities; if not you can just use this as a thing and when you get back you pick a few that seem inspiring.

2017-04-02, 01:20 AM
*Rift into the paraelemental plane of ice appears
*it's the winter months but it's not getting cold. The heretical new royal dynasty has neglected the rites that allow the return of winter and now the world will burn if something is not done.
*White dragon attack
*toymaking elves. possibly need help with something. possibly giving stuff out.
*the town has started to celebrate a new winter festival. But unbeknownst to them the cult of Mammon is at the helm of this celebration
*a particularly bitter cold winter heralds an invasion by the evil empire (whose top general, a weather controlling wizard of considerable fell power, has created these conditions)
*snowed in. roll will saves to avoid cabin fever.
*aspects/avatars of Ithaqua

2017-04-02, 03:13 AM
I'd also recommend a look at any of the old Birthright books. There's versions for AD&D, 3e, 3.5, a Pathfinder version, and a 5e edition, all supported by a rather devoted fan-community.

The new country/region managing systems aren't perfect, but they're a good starting point, and they have hundreds of random events stat'd out.