Encounter cards provide most of the action in Chronicle. After the narrator moves his character the person to the narrator's right (the chorus) draws one villain card, and may draw several complication cards. The chorus reads the encounter cards and sets up the story. The narrator then makes any choices or rolls required to resolve the encounter, and finishes the story. There are many different types of encounters:
An ogre stalks the forest looking for unwary travelers. A lonely minotaur stalks the labyrinthine halls of his subterranean home. Every protagonist needs a villain to defeat, and Chronicle has a bunch of them. Each chapter the narrator's character must attempt to defeat a new villain. Some villains will pose little problems even in the earliest chapters, but others will shake the character's confidence even in the last chapters.
Complication cards expand the encounter. You may draw a minion for the villain to command, or a princess imprisoned against her will, or a number of other obstacles to overcome. Some board tiles give you a complication just for landing on them. Having a higher chapter than the villain will earn you a complication, as will ending your turn on an inner ring tile. There are many different types of complications:
Goblin scouts infiltrate a human settlement looking for easy prey. A giant spider peers malevolently down at the humans trespassing on its hunting grounds. All complication cards give extra dice to the villain's attack roll. While most complication cards give only a single complication die to the villain's attack roll, monster complications give a number of dice determined by the current chapter of the game.
An archmage needs specimens for her arcane experiments. A wandering tinker asks to repair your gear for a bit of coin. Dramatis Personae are beings that offer services to the character or require services from them. Dramatis personae offer characters an advantage; but always at a cost. Resolving a Dramatis Personae card can take several turns, and may even be competed by another player.
A grizzled gypsy matriarch guides her family caravan across the countryside. Physicians and leaches quarantine the dock yards to keep a plague from spreading. Event cards are unique in that they affect all characters (and often all henchmen) on the board, regardless of whose turn it currently is. While everyone on the board is affected by event encounters the narrator's character is always at the center of the action.
The king dismisses the captain of his guard to stop his daughter's forbidden love. Disconsolate, the princess steals away in the dead of night to search for her lost captain. Plots come in sets of three thematically linked cards. For a character to complete an entire plot the linked cards must interact with each other. Some plot cards simply wait on a board tile, but others may (and some must) be taken as henchmen until their plot is resolved.
A quiet click announces a hidden pressure plate. The silent movement of ancient gears throws a two ton block of granite down into a crypt corridor. Traps are barriers used to stop characters from meddling in the affairs of devious scholars and ancient undead. Any character with a modicum of intelligence can discover the triggering mechanism of a trap, but it takes skill and dexterity to circumvent the the mad engineering of paranoid genius.
A jaded merchant seeks danger to relieve his boredom. An itinerant swordsman roams from town to town searching for his equal in combat. Henchmen are minor characters that will join a character's party. Henchmen provide many useful services: helping with skill checks, supplying weapons or potions, or even helping in combat! Some henchmen will work for provisions or out of duty, but others will require payment for services rendered.