SECRET SANTICORE: Innocent Bystanders Table!

Time for another awesome dive into the sack of mutilated bodies, pilfered organs, and diabolical schemes that belongs to the Great and Mighty Santicore!!


A table or system or something that helps me decide what all the not so innocent bystanders are doing when trouble erupts.
It might want to take into consideration how violent the trouble is and how they feel generally about the people making trouble, but that’s optional.
For theme it could be about people jacking Santa, but also optional.

William Broom knocked this bitch out the park!

What are the Bystanders Doing?


“A table or system or something that helps me decide what all the not so innocent bystanders are doing when trouble erupts.

It might want to take into consideration how violent the trouble is and how they feel generally about the people making trouble, but that’s optional.

For theme it could be about people jacking Santa, but also optional.”

This is a system for what happens when you try to jack Santa. ‘Jacking Santa’ shall be here defined as physical violence, theft, breaking and entering, foot chases, or any other piece of obvious lawbreaking or conflict. Lesser offences like arguing in the street, emptying chamberpots onto heads, etc. will not draw a reaction unless/until it evolves into something more serious. ‘Santa’ always refers to the PCs’ enemy in the encounter.

At first I thought of doing a general reaction table, with progressively better or worse results from top to bottom. However, it seems like the reactions of the bystanders depends a lot on the character of the community. Giving each community a different set of reactions should give the players more interesting choices to work with. “We can’t jack Santa here, this is Selena Scorpionheart’s territory! Let’s lure him into the Narrows and then jump him.” etc. If your campaign incorporates many villages and towns, then each such polity is its own separate community. However, if you’re running a game based around one big city, then each district or area could be one community.


There are three general types of community:

Authoritarian communities are those under the command of a firm leadership and an efficient law enforcement service. Citizens know that there is a centralized authority keeping them in check. Examples may include a well-ordered city, a town built around a keep, a district ruled by a powerful thieves’ guild, or a prison complex.

Communitarian communities have less in the way of centralized authority, but order is still maintained by the general will of the populace. Examples may include a small village, an elven commune, or a ghetto.

Anarchic communities have no law enforcement, or only ineffective law enforcement. Generally citizens are expected to protect their own rights with blood and steel. Examples may include a city of thieves and villains, an interdimensional bazaar, or the fringes of an army encampment.

These three categories should broadly cover almost any community you like, but you can give more personality to an area by giving it a unique type. For example:

Voyeuristic communities care little for law and order, but they do like a show. They welcome Santa jackers as a form of entertainment, so long as the jacking doesn’t involve them. Examples may include a barbarian tribe who prize strength and honour over pissweak city morality.

Meek communities have no taste for violence of any sort. When outsiders start jacking Santa, they prefer to simply hide until it’s all over. Examples may include a colony of gnomes who peer furtively from their dark burrows.

Create your own unique tables to give a special flavour to your more exotic urban locations.

Bystander Reaction Table


To determine the bystanders’ reaction to a Santa jack, roll 2d6, taking a roll of 2-4 as negative, 5-9 as neutral, and 10-12 as positive. A minimum or maximum roll will have a special effect. Apply the following modifiers:

+1 if the PCs didn’t start the fight with Santa, -1 if they did.

+1 if the PCs have shown some sort of evidence that they’re the justified party, and -1 if Santa has shown such evidence.

Add the Charisma bonus of one PC who is trying to get the crowd on their side (note that doing this will probably occupy that PC for the first round of combat.) Santa could try to do the same thing, of course.

Other modifiers at your discretion if the PCs or Santa have previously interacted with the crowd, or are famous in this community, etc.

Most of the following reactions assume that the bystanders have enough people to enforce their will upon the PCs and/or Santa. This may not always be the case (see below).

Reaction Authoritarian Communitarian Anarchic Voyeuristic Meek
Negative Special (2) One of the bystanders is a high-ranking guardsman, a Fighter of 2nd-4th level, and he is pissed that the PCs are fighting in his streets. A frenzied mob forms and attempts to lynch the PCs. An old enemy is amidst the crowd and takes the opportunity to jump out and shank the PCs. If no old enemies are available, it is a new enemy who hates the PCs for something they’ve done or wants something they have. The PCs are considered highly entertaining. After they defeat or escape the current encounter, the bystanders will capture them and carry them to the gladiatorial arena or trap gauntlet to further prove their mettle. The jacking of Santa is so frightening that the meek citizens abandon their town entirely. Within a day it is completely deserted and the people have relocated elsewhere.
Negative (3-4) Flee to alert the local authorities and accuse the PCs of jacking Santa. Swarm in to arrest the PCs by force, or flee to get more help if they seem too much to handle. Watch the altercation for an opportunity – to stab the PCs in the back, ambush them later, or just go through their pockets after they’re dead. Curse and jeer at the PCs, mock their fighting abilities and place bets on Santa. If the PCs win, those who bet against them will be furious. Flee and bar their doors against the PCs thereafter until some service has been done to rectify the situation.
Neutral (5-9) Flee to alert the local authorities but don’t make any particular statements about the incident. Band together and chase both parties out of town. Go on about their business. “Oh, you got stabbed in the guts? Around here we call that ‘Monday’.” Attempt to surround the incident and make sure it is an honourable fight to the death. Flee and hide.
Positive (10-11) Flee to alert the local authorities and  accuse Santa of jacking the PCs. Swarm in to arrest Santa, or flee to get help if he seems too much to handle. Offer the PCs assistance or an escape route, but only for a price. Watch, egg the PCs on to escalating violence, and place bets. If the PCs win, those who bet on them will be glad and generous. Flee and hide, but first render what assistance they can to the PCs in the form of items, information, or merely encouragement.
Positive Special (12) The PCs’ enemies are already wanted for crimes, or have a political enemy. A bounty will be paid to the PCs if they defeat the enemy. After the PCs’ victory, an old lady invites them back to her house for tea. This house will be a safe place for the party thereafter. The bystanders take this fight as an opportunity to settle their own scores and/or let off some steam. Within a few minutes the PCs are at the epicentre of a riot. The PCs are regarded as sacred champions after their victory. This means the community is now relying on them to slay the local monster that’s terrorizing the countryside. One formerly meek bystander suddenly gains courage and joins in the fray for the PCs. If they survive, they will go on to transform this cowardly town into a Spartan war-society over the course of several months.

How many people are around, anyway?

For a while I’ve been considering the idea that the density of crowds in the vicinity should be an integral part of the ‘landscape’ of an urban location. There’s a big difference in atmosphere and opportunities between a deserted street at midnight and a bustling marketplace. This sort of thing is largely going to be up to the individual GM to determine, but here’s a simple outline to get you going:

Crowd Density No. of bystanders
Nil – no people are within sight or earshot. A sleepy village at siesta time, a crossroads at midnight, a city block abandoned due to haunting. 0
Few – at least one or two people in view at any given time. A road outside town, a dark avenue before dawn, a church in the afternoon. 1d6-1
Regular – at least half a dozen people in view. A normal street, a village common, a bar in the evening. 3d6 + 3
Thick – dozens of people in view at all times. A bar at happy hour, a village market, a town street during the morning traffic. Dozens and dozens; but only 4d6 are likely to interact with the PCs’ troublemaking.
Bustling – so many people that they become a part of the terrain and make fast movement difficult. A city bazaar, a festival parade, a public execution. Hundreds; but only 6d6 are likely to interact with the PCs.

The important thing isn’t the exact numbers, but the general feeling. The more bystanders there are, the more likely they will be to enforce their desires upon the PCs and others who are disrupting the social order. If the PCs outnumber the bystanders, then regardless of the reaction table the bystanders will probably have to flee and get backup, which may be a long way away especially in an ‘Anarchic’ society. However, bear in mind that most bystanders don’t necessarily expect the PCs to escalate the conflict directly to mortal violence.

The overall purpose of these tables is to give the players a wider range of choices and to make them feel the ‘texture’ or ‘landscape’ of each urban environment differently. If you want to shut down their Santa-jacking activities altogether, you can just say “If you fuck with the law, you’re going to get it, so don’t do that.” However if you want to give them a chance to jack Santa without making it trivial, that’s when you want to put an Anarchic community next door to an Authoritarian one, or a backstreet with low crowd density next to a bustling festival plaza.

There is no Dana....  Only Core...
There is no Dana…. Only Core…

Author: wrathofzombie

I am a History major attending a community college until I can get more financial aid and attend a four year school. I am living in NJ with my girlfriend who is currently wrapping up on obtaining her PhD in Toxicology. I love Star Wars, Role-playing, video games, working out, reading, writing, and hanging with my girlfriend, dog (Perfect), and two kittens (Birch and Brambles). My main focus on this site will be my discussion of Role-playing games and ideas and hopefully contribute something worth a damn.

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