Arrivals and Departures: Tracking Moving Monsters

Posted in EpicTable Blog on January 29, 2008 at 7:51 pm

The last couple posts discussed a technique I call a “Flight Plan” to plan for your monsters’ retreat. The idea is to figure out ahead of time where your monsters will get going when the going gets tough. That way, you don’t have them blundering about in unbelievable ways.

But planning for fleeing monsters is just the start of your trouble. Once they’ve fled, you have to keep track of them. This post presents a technique for keeping track of the shifting encounter setting that arises when monsters move about in response to the player characters.

Arrivals/Departures Sheet

While the Flight Plan tells you where monsters are apt to go, your Arrivals/Departures sheet records where they did go. It’s organized by area, like the Flight Plan, but it starts out blank.

Sample Sheet Before Encounters

Map Key Arrivals Departures Notes

Advantages: No flipping, no margin-scribbling

Having an Arrivals/Departures sheet saves you flipping back and forth through your notes or through a module, scribbling notes in the margin of each encounter (if, indeed, you’re inclined to scribble on your published modules at all).

Why two sheets?

  • You may not have taken the time to create a Flight Plan.
  • Your Flight Plan won’t have as many locations on it as your Arrivals/Departures sheet.
    (After all, some monsters do fight to the death, and some areas to which a monster might flee won’t be inhabited prior to that time.)

If you’re using paper, as opposed to Excel or something that will sort for you, you may want to leave some blanks as you fill in rows, so you can keep your rows sorted by map key.

Sample Sheet After Some Encounters

Map Key Arrivals Departures Notes
A2   Kobold warrior -> A5 Responding to alarm
A3   all  
A5 2 kobolds from A3,
warrior from A3
  Table upended to shield archers. Everyone alert and ready.

Using the Sheet

As characters approach an encounter area, scan your Arrivals/Departures sheet to see what if anything has changed about the area.


That wraps up my series of posts on planning for and tracking monsters’ movement through the encounter area in response to the characters’ actions. I hope this has given you some ideas, and I’d love to hear about techniques you use to handle this sort of thing.

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