An encounter begins when the characters stumble onto a monster, either because the referee has planned an encounter in the area the PCs are exploring or because a random die roll indicates an encounter (see Wandering Monsters).
- Surprise: The referee rolls for surprise, if applicable.
- Encounter distance: The referee determines how far away the monsters are from the PCs.
- Initiative: Any sides that are not surprised roll initiative to determine who acts first.
- Actions: Any sides that are not surprised decide how they will respond to the encounter. The encounter is played out accordingly.
- Conclusion: One turn has passed.
When to Check
A check for surprise is made for any side that is not expecting the encounter. For example, if a monster is waiting quietly for an approaching party that is making a lot of noise, the monster would not have a chance to be surprised, but the party would.
Each side that is not already aware of the other’s presence rolls 1d6.
Monsters: The referee rolls for monsters.
PCs: One player rolls for the adventuring party as a whole.
Results: A result of 1 or 2 means the side is surprised.
Effects of Surprise
Both sides surprised: There is simply a momentary confusion—neither side has any advantage.
One side surprised: The side that is not surprised gains a one round advantage. The surprised side cannot act that round.
The situation in which the encounter occurs often determines how far away the monster is. If there is uncertainty, the encounter distance may be determined randomly:
- Dungeon: 2d6 × 10 feet.
- Wilderness: 4d6 × 10 yards (or 1d4 × 10 yards if either side is surprised).
- Waterborne: 4d6 × 10 yards (or 1d4 × 10 yards if either side is surprised).
(See Combat for full details.)
Roll 1d6: For each side, at the start of each round.
Winner: The side with the highest roll acts first. Other sides act in order from highest to lowest roll.
Ties: Either both sides may roll again, or actions on both sides may be resolved simultaneously.
Player Character Actions
The players decide how they will act.
The referee determines monsters’ reaction to the party. Sometimes, circumstances make it obvious how a monster will react. Otherwise, the referee may roll on the table below to determine how a monster reacts to the party.
Charisma: If one specific character attempts to speak with the monsters, that character’s NPC reactions modifier due to CHA (see Ability Scores) is used to modify the monster reaction roll.
Monster Reaction Roll
|2 or less||Hostile, attacks|
|3–5||Unfriendly, may attack|
|12 or more||Friendly, helpful|
Any action is possible in an encounter, but the following are common:
- Combat: If one side attacks, casts spells, or makes tactical movement, begin tracking time in rounds, following the combat procedure (see Combat).
- Evasion: If one side decides to flee, the other may decide to pursue. See Evasion.
- Parley: PCs may attempt to communicate with monsters. Opening an encounter in this way can influence the monsters’ behaviour (see Monster Actions). If both sides decide to talk, the negotiation may be role-played.
Encounter movement rate: During encounters, a character can move up to one third of their base movement rate per round in feet (in the dungeon) or yards (in the wilderness). For example, a character whose base movement rate is 120’ could move 40’ per round during a dungeon encounter.
Maximum duration: Characters may move at this rate for at most 60 rounds (one turn).
If one side wishes to avoid an encounter, it may attempt to flee. This is called evasion and is only possible before combat has begun. When a side decides to attempt an evasion, the opposing side must decide whether or not to pursue.
Players: May decide freely whether they wish to pursue fleeing monsters.
Monsters: The referee must decide whether monsters pursue fleeing PCs. (A low roll on the Monster Reactions table may be taken to indicate that the monster will pursue.)
No pursuit: If the opposing side decides to let the other side flee, then the evasion automatically succeeds; the encounter is avoided.
Pursuit: If the opposing side gives chase, the chance of the evasion succeeding depends on the environment being explored. See Evasion and Pursuit.
An encounter is assumed to take at least one full turn to complete, including time to rest, regroup, clean weapons, bind wounds, and so on, afterwards.