The Overloaded Encounter Die (and several other rules below) is an idea stolen directly from Brendan at Necropraxis, and one that I first enjoyed in his “Finchbox” game – a vaguely ancient Chinese sandbox populated with Matt Finch modules. I have since adopted the die in my own Apollyon game, and it may be the single best element of that game, because it makes exploration tense/interesting, encourages player activity and allows disorganized GMs like myself to ‘keep track’ of several variables without complex GM facing subsystems. It may be worth noting that this idea seems to have its origins in Torchbearer, which simply puts everything on a brutally efficient timer, so that player resources rapidly diminish.
Weights and Measures for Scavengers Aboard the HMS Apollyon
As a system or a ‘hack’ of 1970’s era D&D The HMS APOLLYON aims for relatively flat power curves (for both characters and monsters) and a focus on survival exploration and treasure hunting rather than combat and heroics. At the same time it’s the goal of the setting to focus on atmosphere and character development through play rather than mechanics, and so I have tried to use simple abstract mechanics rather than complex simulations for as many elements as possible.
In exploration two, perhaps counter intuitive, subsystems work to increase the tension of delving into new areas, and atmosphere and simplify record keeping for both player and GM. The first of these is an encumbrance system that may seem strict, or possibly ridiculous at first, but has in play proven to be helpful at giving explorer’s meaningful choices about what they choose to take with them into the hull, without requiring the sort of calculations by coin weight that classic D&D encumbrance either rapidly fall to the side or turn the game into an exercise in spreadsheet use.
The Second Element is the use of an “overloaded encounter” die for random encounters, where every exploration turn (traditionally 10 minutes of character time) results in something happening. Each pip on the traditional D6 random encounter check (rolled every turn) has a result, and while one of those results is a random encounter, the other five represent either environmental events or a depletion of party resources. Combined with an encumbrance system that makes resource management an actual element of gameplay and makes Strength a useful statistic for all sorts of adventurers.