|Most of these setups are based on locations in Judarskogen, outside Stockholm|
I really like Runehammer's videos on room design. The idea of that series is to present a "room", basically a game board or grid's worth of level design, and highlight why it was set up like it was. This makes a lot of sense if you want to play with minis. Setting up a "room" or board takes more time than not doing it and includes carrying and buying extra stuff. So for it to be worthwhile, it must logically add more gameplay than overhead. Therefore, the craft of setting up a board becomes a key GM tool.
That said, there doesn't seem to be much discussion on this topic outside the aforementioned Youtube channel. Maybe this is because most people don't care about grids, or are happy just crafting cool terrain and don't mind just placing it as scatter. But probably, it is also that people who are good at it make set up their boards so instinctively that they no longer think of it as a skill. But for people who - like me - don't fall into any of the above categories, this is an attempt to continue the discussion.
Where does the encounter play out?Playing on a grid lets you design encounters with a lot of interesting tactical options, with placement, movement, cover, half-hidden details, &c. But since players are free to go where they want and do what they please, most encounters cannot be planned in any great detail. This can create a weird discrepancy between the elaborate set pieces and improvised or random encounters that have very little detail.
As a remedy, I offer 8 dirt-simple setups that adds a twist to your random wilderness encounters.
The PCs start at one edge of the board, the monsters at another. The winner of the first initiative or surprise check decides who starts where, but each side places its own models.
1d8 random encounter locations
Slippery slope: With every move, a character must also move one sq downhill (two if dashing). Moving uphill requires a DEX roll, on a miss the character must use both hands to hold on: attacks against her are EASY.
Thickets: the path runs like an S between thickets. The thickets block line of sight and are so dense that riding or dashing is impossible, and using long weapons &c is HARD.
Criss-crossing paths: several patches of dense forest vegetation. These copses block line of sight from the outside but not for characters looking out from them.
Dark pond: a small but deep pond in the center of the board, just wide enough to be impossible to jump over.
Erratic Rocks: a field of large moss-covered boulders. The boulders are tall enough that it takes a STR roll to climb and DEX roll to avoid damage if falling, and stand close enough to allow jumping between them.
Moraine wall: uneven rocks form a natural wall across the board . DEX to cross.
Ford: A rapid river downstream a ford, running diagonally across the board. Crossing the river outside the ford requires a STR test, on a failure the character is swept downstream to the pond at the far end of the board.
Leading lines: three pairs of statues stand by the edges of a bog. Each pair indicate a leading line where passage is safe and unhindered; a character stepping more than one square out of the line is stuck and must roll STR to get out (EASY with aid, HARD otherwise).