Hunting in the Jungle

February 21, 2012

"Jungle Hunter" by Cliffhanger at deviantart.com

The basic ideas of the Jungle Hunting system are:

  • Sometimes, instead of directly entering into an encounter with a monster, the PCs find spoor. They can choose to search out the monster or not.
  • The gap between the hunter and prey is represented by the Distance Factor, an abstract measure of time and distance ranging from 1 to 6.
  • If and when the gap is closed, the encounter occurs. The circumstances of the hunt and the surroundings have an influence upon the nature of the encounter.

This system is intended as a way to spice up monster encounters in the jungle.  It’s NOT intended for “hunting for food” situations, though it could be used in that way also.    It’s also not a detailed simulation of hunting, but simply a series of 2d6 rolls to provide general details that the DM and players can play off of.

As DM, I assume that PCs are somewhat skilled in hunting and tracking, so skill rolls aren’t a part of the system.  If desired, skill rolls could be used to determine if the hunters are able to stay on the trail of their prey.

Pursuing prey inherently takes the hunters off the beaten path or into places they perhaps normally wouldn’t go.  This introduces an additional element of risk.  Also, the urgency of a hunt can expose the hunters or overextend them.  The basic choice the hunters need to make is when to give up.  Pursuing prey into the night increases the chance of being ambushed or becoming lost.

Spoor seldom lasts more than a day or so in the jungle, so if the prey is found, it’s usually just a few miles from where the hunt began (in the same hex).  But…sometimes a long hunt will take the pursuers far from where the chase began and into unknown territory (a neighboring hex).

(The following guidelines are fresh-from-the-oven and likely need more seasoning or playtesting.)

When the DM chooses to have an encounter become a hunt, follow these steps…

1. Roll d6 to determine Distance factor.
If 1, go to Hunter meets Prey.

The orientation of this rolled d6 indicates the general direction of the prey.  Or spin a pencil or something.

2. What kind of spoor was found? 2d6

(Any double indicates the hunt has ended, go to Why Did the Hunt End?.)
3 scat
4 scent
5 shed
6 track
7 track
8 track
9 markings
10 sound
11 scat

If “sound”, the Distance automatically becomes 2.
If “scent”, the Distance automatically becomes 1 and hunters will be ambushed in five seconds, real time.

Hunters can generally determine the distance and direction of the prey by carefully examining the spoor and surrounding area.  If they choose to pursue, make a 2d6 Spoor roll again.  Result is the number of turns it takes to find another spoor of the prey.  Those turns can be played out if the DM or players wish, but my preference would be to just declare something like “50 minutes later you find another track in the mud”.  A double indicates that spoor is not found and the hunt has ended.  If another spoor is found, subtract 1 from distance.  Continue making Spoor rolls until the hunt ends (i.e. a double is rolled) or Distance becomes 1.

When hunt ends, go to Why Did the Hunt End?  When Distance becomes 1, go to Hunter meets Prey.

3a. Why did the hunt end?
11 Prey is engaged in combat with another monster (random)
22 Hunter encounters another monster, obstacle, or trap (random)
33 Lost (wandered into neighboring hex)
44 If it’s night: Lost
55 Trail went cold
66 Trail went cold

3b. Hunter meets Prey
Determine encounter distance.  Depends upon the type of jungle terrain and vantage points, but my rule of thumb is d6*10 yards.  Very thick jungle would be on the lower end of that range.

When the Distance becomes 1 and the hunter doesn’t have the wind in his favor, the DM may want to give the hunter the option of maneuvering around the prey.  This must be declared before the Who Has Been Detected? roll is made.  The Distance becomes 3.  The Dark Jungle generation system includes a wind direction feature, or any other method of determining the current wind direction can be used.

4. Who Has Been Detected? d6
1. Hunter
2. Hunter
3. Both
4. Prey
5. Prey
6. Prey

Modifications to roll:
-1 if night.
-1 if hunter upwind of prey
+1 if hunter downwind of prey

“Prey” means the hunter has spotted the prey and has time to get in position for ranged attacks or plan an ambush.  The DM should decide or roll to determine if the ambush plan is successful or not.

“Hunter” means the prey has detected its pursuers (via sight, scent, or sound) before being detected itself.  It may choose to get in position to ambush, or it may flee without detection.

“Both” means hunter and prey both detected each other at nearly the same moment.  This may lead to immediate combat or perhaps a pursuit through the jungle (use standard pursuit rules).  Or it could just be a stare down.

If the prey flees and successfully escapes, the Distance become 2.  Return to step 3, but now any “scat” result should be reinterpreted as the end of the hunt.  If the hunter closes the gap again, the Detection roll is at -1.

What's your Prey?

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