Time (Overloading the Encounter Die)
When the party moves into a new area or spends time on an exploration activity, roll the encounter die and interpret the results as follows:
- Percept (clue, spoor)
- Locality (context-dependent timer)
- Exhaustion (rest or take penalties)
One might object: does this not lead to absurd results such as torches going out on the first turn or PCs needing to rest on the second turn? Well, yes, but you are an intelligent human, so ignore results that do not make sense. A result should be interpreted as not “X happens,” but rather as a prompt. A result can be deferred, but only so many times. The weight will naturally build up in the back of your mind as events proceed. As a guideline, ignore results above 3 for the first 6 or so turns.
You could have a general “light source” entry and just pick one light source randomly each time (this has the advantage of not having all torches go out at once), but I prefer to distinguish between the two main types of light sources given their differentiation on the equipment list. Conceptually, I think it helps to have different spaces in your short term memory for each, as you can have the sense that 5 has come up several times already and know that is relevant for lanterns. Torches should probably go out almost every time a 6 six comes up and lanterns should deplete approximately every third or fourth result of 5.
“Locality” is meant to be used for area-specific state that should be kept separate from standard random encounters. Examples: water rising, the stalker drawing nearer, a prisoner loosing an appendage to the torturer, doors locking behind PCs, and so forth. The possibilities are limitless and make every location potentially mechanically different in a way that is player-salient.
Credit: adapted from Brendan S.
Designer's Note: Time is important, and Brendan's Overloaded Encounter Die system is a great way to skip a lot of the work in tracking it.