Venger's Random Encounter Decks - The Backstory
Name: Scott Docherty | Class & Level: RPG Addict 20 | Race: Barely Human | Alignment: Chaotic Neutral | Hit Points: Less than I should have at this stage in life | AC: Battle-hardened shell coated in jelly belly | Abilities: Poorly-rolled standard array | Proficiences: Skilled with Jack Daniels
So I’ve been roleplaying as player or dungeon / game master since the 1980s, carving out an endless myriad of intricately woven tales in a dark, musty corner of the school playground or friends’ attics before moving up to dinner tables and screens. Here were my first steps into the multiverse:
- Choose Your Own Adventure books
- Fighting Fantasy books
- Blood Sword books
- D&D Basic Set (red box)
- Advanced D&D (2nd edition)
and I also whiled away countless hours with the likes of Star Trek: The Role Playing Game, Warhammer 40k, Call of Cthulhu, Middle-earth Role Playing, HeroQuest, Star Wars: The Roleplaying Game, Pathfinder, amongst many others. Beyond that, I helped playtest the first outstanding edition of SLA Industries released by Nightfall Games, and am always looking to bore the pants off anyone idiotic enough to listen to me about just how ground-breaking that game was. (…*coughs* check out the 2nd edition! *coughs again*…)
I now play, in the main, D&D 5e as a dungeon master, running homebrew games every week in Glasgow, Scotland, and yeah, also try to run Venger’s Decks whenever I get the chance.
But enough about me!
Back in "the day"...
Back in what they call “the day”, random encounters were the very definition of random. Long rest in the woods you say, let's roll this and see what happens. Advancing through hexes off the beaten track you say, well I rolled this so say hi to my throng of wandering monsters. You had a table, you had monsters on that table, you rolled to see which of those monsters the party would face. Job done!
Over the years, however, the way the game was being played began to change. In D&D and the other tabletop roleplaying games that followed, the popularity of random encounters began to wane as the rules developed to reflect a richness entering the game. These days, let's face it, TTRPGs have matured. Players of today tend to want more from their time at the table. They want immersion. They want story arcs. They want entertainment and fun and heartbreak and drama and more. And they want this from the moment they sit at the table until the last dice are rolled.
Take a look at my little ebook on all this, Venger's Guide to Random Encounters, which explores this in more detail.
One card at a time
So I had the idea of building my own tables. Tables that not only introduced the actors in the encounters, but also the hooks, the conflicts, the resolutions and twists that might make every encounter an amazing one to remember. Not scripts to railroad the players, but more like tables of guidelines to help me as DM or GM react to their approach and get them quickly to the edge of their seats. And I wanted those tables to be accessible more quickly than looking up a book.
I love cards. I love Dungeon Mayhem and MtG. I love playing card games and watching card magic tricks. I love the idea of pulling cards at random to create something special.
What I wondered, therefore, was whether I could stuff a card deck full of exciting encounters that could be pulled at random at the table. Encounters packed with all you need to throw at the players as written, or if you prefer, to pull at random and then adjust slightly to fit what else you have planned. Encounters that can be added at any time or even begin or inspire a one-shot or campaign.
And so, ultimately my wondering transformed into the decks you see today.