This #Greenwoodnesday I want to talk about tables and charts in #LincolnGreen.

To be different and gimmicky, as is my wont, the game uses coins instead of dice. To be vaguely authentic to the period, the terms piles and crosses are used instead of heads and tails. (I go into this a little bit in a past #LincolnGreen post. Wander through the hashtag if this is of interest to you.) There are lots of reasons why coins are better suited to the game than dice. Chief among them is the fact that you don't fiddle with little granular bonuses and penalties. This or that. Yes or no. Saved or lost. That's what you get.

But when you're working on a chart of a table, you sometimes get a bit wistful for a little granularity. It's not that coins can't produce large numbers. They're basically binary number generators. One coin can get you a d2. Two coins can get you a d4. Three coins, a d8. Four coins, a d16. Five, a d32. Six, a d64. And so forth. But it's a little cumbersome and makes for uninspiring charts:

0000 An abandoned cart.
0001 A shepherd/shepherdess seeking a lost lamb.
0010 A poor knight with a weighty debt.
0011 A wealthy abbott.
0100 The king's warden
0101 ...

It's a little flat, not quite the #LincolnGreen aesthetic, and rather hard to read if you're not practiced in binary digits. And perhaps most importantly, it tries to work around the coins weaknesses rather than playing to their strengths.

Let's play to their strengths.

Oaks & Rivers

You're playing in the Wolves'-Heads tradition of #LincolnGreen and you want to randomly roll up your species. Let's say it's an early playtest with only 32 species available. I could hand you five coins and tell you to throw them one at a time to build up a binary digit between 0000 and 11111, and we could consult our list of 32 species to find which one corresponds to that value.

Or I could build you an Oak, like the one I started making in the image below. Start at the trunk and climb your way up. As you reach an branch, answer the question or throw a coin for your answer. Yes and piles to the left, no and crosses to the right.

Are you covered in fur or hide? No, thank you.
Are you covered in feathers? Hmm, I'm not sure. I'll throw. Piles.

(At this point, we note that Eppy is fallible and accidentally reversed the order of the following branches. So we pretend the branch to the right is really to the left, move on with our example, and remind Eppy in the comments that this is precisely why he has an editor and should let someone else do the actual graphics.)

Are you at home upon the lakes & seas? Yeah, that sounds lovely.
Can you soar? Throwing again. Crosses. I guess I'm... no, fuck that, I soar. I want be a goose, damn it!

The strength of the Oak is that it takes what would otherwise be a block of 32 randomly assorted animals and sifts them into the answers to a series of yes/no questions. That way you can take each question as it comes and decide there if you want a particular answer or you want to trust in your coins. And, as our example has shown, you can even trust the coin, and then tell it to fuck when you suddenly realize that's not the answer you wanted.

Another strength is that you can further divide each branch into as many limbs as you wish without affecting the probability of the branch. On this oak, half of all species thrown are mammals, but we don't have to have just 16 mammals to make that work. We could divide that part of the oak into 32 or 64 species and still have half of the thrown species be mammals.

We don't have to stick to powers of two. Some branches may divide further than others. And we can have branches lead you to new oaks if we really need something big (and we might for the species in Wolves'-Heads).

Enough about oaks, let's talk about Rivers.

You got yourself a random encounter table like the one above, because who doesn't love a random encounter? And you're rolling on it, and the merryfolk are praying for a wealthy abbott, but you get the poor knight. That's wonderful! Much mischief can be and has been made of this poor knight! Good Sir Richard at the Lee.

A little while later, you roll again, again hoping for a wealthy abbott, and again rolling the poor knight. Oh Sir Richard, what troubles have you found now? Ne'er mind that, let's adventure.

Later still, another roll, another lack of abbott and another poor knight. Goddamnit, Sir Richard!

Let's fix this. Instead of a binary number before each encounter, let's put a circle ◯ or two.

◯ An abandoned cart.
◯ A shepherd/shepherdess seeking a lost lamb.
◯ A poor knight with a weighty debt.
◯ A wealthy abbott.
◯◯ The king's warden
◯ ...

Now we've got a River. To use this River, we throw a set number of coins and count the piles. Let's say this River wants us to throw three coins. This will give us a number between 0 and 3, with 1 and 2 being the most likely. Now, starting at the head waters (in this case, the abandoned cart) we count down a number of entries on the river equal to what we just threw. Where we land is our encounter--cross off one of its circles and encounter away.

When next we throw on this River, we ignore any encounters that have had all their circles crossed off. So let's say that in our first encounter we threw 0 piles, so we found that abandoned cart. When we go back to the river, it should look like this:

⊗ An abandoned cart.
◯ A shepherd/shepherdess seeking a lost lamb.
◯ A poor knight with a weighty debt.
◯ A wealthy abbott.
◯◯ The king's warden
◯ ...

And now our lamb-seeker is the head waters. We start our count from there.

Some encounters have more than one circle, like the king's warden. In this case, they act as a single entry when counting down the river, but stick around for future throws as long as they have empty circles left.

We could make a very likely encounter that only happens once with something like this:

╭ Friar Tuck
◯ Friar Tuck
╰ Friar Tuck

The stout friar takes up all of three entries, making him very likely to occur, but once he does, cross out his circle and skip all those entries from then on.

We can also plug instructions into the rivers--branches and tributaries that change their structure once big events happen, or simply an instruction to clear out all the crossed circles and start the river afresh. Along with that, rivers can have unique encounters that only occur once and are never refreshed. Like the one time Prince John makes the mistake of strolling through the Greenwood alone.

One of the strengths to rivers is that they are less about if something will come up, and more about when. Especially if you keep the number of coins you're throwing low, in the 2 to 4 range.

Alright, that's enough for this #Greenwoodnesday. Now seek thee the comments to tell me I need an editor and someone else to create my graphics.

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