Wednesday, March 03, 2010

the most important rule I overlook

From page B24 of Moldvay's Basic D&D:
MONSTER ACTIONS: Some monsters always act in the same manner (such as zombies, who always attack). However, the reactions of most monsters are not always the same. The DM can always choose the monster's reaction to best fit the dungeon, but if he decides not to do this, a DM may use the reaction table below to determine the monster's reactions (roll 2d6).

Monster Reactions
Dice Roll/Reaction
2/Immediate Attack
3-5/Hostile, possible attack
6-8/Uncertain, monster confused
9-11/No attack, monster leaves or considers offer
12/Enthusiastic friendship
When I don't use this chart my monsters immediately attack way more often than the 1 out of every 36 encounters suggested by the chart and they pretty much never act friendly. That's a damn shame, as it encourages the "we see it, we fight it" mentality that can really drag a good game down. And I really like the inherent instability in making friends with one of the chaotic dungeon denizens. That's a situation chock full of interesting possibilities.

It might be interesting to note that there seems to be a lot less demi-human/humanoid animosity in Moldvay Basic as opposed to AD&D. Dwarves still hate goblins and vice versa, and will usually attack each other on sight. But that's about it. A few monsters are specified as usually attacking anyone, such as minotaurs and gargoyles. But going by the monster entries in the Basic book it should be possible for any PC to befriend ghouls, gnolls, hobgoblins, lizard men, lycanthropes, orges, orcs, owlbears, shadows, skeletons, thouls or wights. Skeletons aren't noted as lacking intelligence or agency and nothing in the rules suggests that undead in general are automatically hostile to the living.