Encounters Database in Notion
Welcome back to building our D&D campaign management system in Notion. Today, we are looking at another of our procedural databases: Encounters.
When I run D&D games, I like to use random encounters. I like the extra variability that it introduces into the game. I find that it makes me improvise along with the players. It keeps me from unintentionally putting the adventure on rails.
When I use random encounters, I don’t usually make a list of random creatures and call it a day. I craft my list to include different encounters that drive the adventure forward. Or at the very least, present new obstacles and challenges that relate to the adventure at hand.
When it comes to creating an encounters database, I wanted something that would save my lists. The encounter tables can be location based. This makes them re-usable if the PCs revisit a location. Or if you have a sequel adventure, you can draw inspiration from your past encounter table. And I modify as necessary for the new tale.
The encounters database is simple. I keep it too the point. Here are the descriptive properties I include in my Encounters database.
|Encounter||Title||The name of the encounter. Usually describes the characters involved.|
|Probability||Rollup||Relates to the Probability Curves Table. Links to Probability Value and Shows original value.|
|Notes||Text||Provides the context for the encounter. What are they doing? Give them some dynamics.|
|Environment||Select||Lists the environment type the encounter takes place in. Inspired by Xanathar’s Guide to Everything’s random encounter tables. Can be useful for random encounter tables in Hexcrawls.|
|CR||Select||Lists the CR range for the encounter. Inspired by Xanathar’s Guide to Everything’s random encounter tables.|
Encounters tie to different databases in my Notion system. They include:
- Adventure. What Encounters support your current adventure? Link them.
- NPC. Does the encounter involve a NPC?
- Locations. Does the encounter occur about a specific location?
- Faction. Does the encounter involve a faction?
- Probability Curves. This is a special database I made as a reference for the encounters database. It lets me probability curves as I create new encounter tables. It prevents me from typing out the numbers each time.
When I put everything together, this is an example of what my Encounters database looks like:
Probability Curves Sub-Database
For the Encounters table, I created a small sub database I called probability curves. This contains the statistical data for different probability curves. I use 2d6 and 3d6. But you can include any curve you wish.
The probability curves give me a sense of how often something has a chance of occurring. I like using 2d6 or 3d6 for the bell curve like effect. Essentially, I can stack the odds towards certain encounters. And I make others very rare. But I let the dice fall where they may, and the adventure take place from there.
Here are the columns in my Probability Curves database:
|Roll||Title||The title of the probability. I use the format: dice_rolled – result. For example: 2d6 – 7. This lets me identify the dice being rolled, and the result all in one spot. Useful for connecting to the encounter database.|
|Dice||Select||The dice rolled for the encounter: 2d6, 3d6, 1d12. Useful as a table filter.|
|Probability||Number||The probability of rolling the result. I format the number as percentage.|
|Encounters||Relation||Relation to the encounters database. Lets me like the probabilities in and look them up on that table without having to manually look up and type in the numbers every time.|
Here is what it looks like:
No Notion Templates for Encounters
I don’t use templates for Encounters. The database captures the entire essence of the Encounters information in the columns. These are best to keep simple.
One can argue that you may wish to include the stat blocks in the encounter’s data page. That’s a fine suggestion. But, you are likely doing extra work for little benefit. If you only use 2-3 encounters from your table, but you built out 10, then you have wasted 70% of your material. That’s not very effective preparation. I prefer to look up the stat blocks when the encounter occurs. Assuming I even need that information. Remember, encounters don’t mean fighting. Combat is a resolution method to encounters. But it isn’t the only one.
Next time, we’ll cover the Ideas & Notes database in Notion.
Further Reading on Notion:
Feature Art Credit: Ede László