In the 1e DMG, there’s like a 10-20% probability your group will encounter NPCs, humans. On the first level of a dungeon, that is. That’s on a sample table.

I’m still relatively new to the idea of encounter tables.

Not uh, that they exist (because I hated them on principle before I ever used one), but that they might be really effective tools for running a campaign.

Time — and other games — have given me cause to dissect my prejudice.

Looking back on the troubles I had, trying to get players to interact with NPCs, I realize part of the problem was they didn’t have enough chances — and there wasn’t anything to compare or contrast to NPCs “in town.”

When you run into a rival adventuring party, you might parley or fight it out. I mean, it’s up to the group of course.

But I imagine the first time you get back-stabbed by a group of NPCs in the dungeon, you’re going to be a lot happier to chat up “normal” folks in a settlement. They’re less likely to be wizards. And wizards suck.

Now in my last post, I threw up an encounter table with NPCs in the middle, bandits on one side, and berserkers on the other. This is an adaptation-slash-interpretation of that ‘human’ encounter I mentioned above.

Using the old table, you roll first to get humans. Then you roll again to see what kind of humans you get. I’d rather have the results with one roll – and – I want more humans. Lots of humans. I want the PCs always running into NPCs.

But who are these NPCs?

Well, that’s where factions and stuff come in — fighter guilds, thief guilds, and mage guilds. That sort of thing. They’re all over the place.

I’m not sure yet — mostly because I haven’t had the opportunity to test this stuff — but it might be best to roll up 2-3 of these factions, and create rosters (I’ve talked a bit about my rosters before). There’s safety in numbers.

Generally, generally speaking, when you have an encounter with some NPCs, there are only a couple guys from the “guild.” The rest are hired thugs and other guys. This helps you ‘pad’ your encounter, and conserves your roster.

If the players attack, your guild guys should be among the first to flee.

That way, they can survive — maybe gain a level — and only the mooks actually die. Then you can get your rivalries with your players going. “There are guys out to get us,” they can think. “We gotta get them first.”

I guess the thing is, I’m still not sure if you need more than one faction at first. I suppose the party might start looking for other groups as soon as they run afoul the first, and it isn’t like it’s so hard to roll up a quick faction.

Most of it’s spreadsheet plus procedure.

I’m stuck at the point of conjecturing. Without actually trying some of this out on a group, I don’t know how well it would go over. Sigh. These simulations only get me so far. Encounters, encounters, encounters…