Friday, March 16, 2012

A cool chart missing from B/X & LL

If I had to guess I'd venture that most fans of the non-Advanced versions of D&D have a mechanic or two found in AD&D that they cherish.  For me, it's the chart that comes right after determining that a wandering monster has appeared but before rolling on charts for wandering monsters by level.  I'm not normally a fan of introducing extra steps into simple procedures like the wandering monster check, but I really like that little chart in AD&D and OD&D that you check to see what level wandering monster shows up.  Instead of third level monsters wandering solely on level three, you can get monsters visiting from above or below.  This adds variety and keeps the players on their toes.

So here's the chart I made for Basic/Expert D&D and/or Labyrinth Lord.  I hope the formatting works.

Level of Monster Chart Consulted
Depth Below
1
2
3
4-5
6-7
8+
1
1-4
5
6
-
-
-
2
1
2-4
5
6
-
-
3
-
1
2-4
5-6
-
-
4
-
-
1
2-5
6
-
5
-
-
-
1-4
5-6
-
6
-
-
-
1
2-5
6
7
-
-
-
-
1-4
5-6
8
-
-
-
-
1
2-6
9+
-
-
-
-
-
1-6

The BX/LL wandering monster charts have this oddity where there's just one chart for levels four and five and another chart for levels six and seven combined, which throws off just swiping the AD&D chart.  Also, the AD&D chart is d20 based and I wanted a d6 chart.  Dungeon level 2 on this chart represents the ideal I was shooting for: a 50% chance of using the monster table for the level you're on, and a 1 in 6 chance of using the chart for monsters one above, one below or two below the level.

The DMG notes that number of critters appearing should be scaled by level.  First level monsters found on level 2 will generally appear in twice their usual numbers, fourth level monsters slumming on the third level will have half as many as in their usual group, etc.  A single third level wandering monster will probably be enough to scare the beejesus out of the newbies on level one.

If you use custom wandering monster charts the same effect is easy to achieve.  Just put "Roll on the level 2 chart" onto the level one chart and stuff like that.  That's what I did with this monster chart for one of my con games.

21 comments:

  1. Glorious I think I will have to use this in the m20 game I run tonight.

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  2. my only problem with most of the original wandering charts is that they seem designed for Greyhawk-sized parties. If you have 3-4 players, they'd be wiped by the average encounter, just because of the number appearing. Odds are those 12 2-hd wolves are going to run faster than the party, even if they do the smart thing.

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    1. Throw them some food before you run. Or bring some especially slow henchmen. The wolves probably only want one or two of you.

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    2. At the local tavern, a queue has formed of young hopefuls to the title of "Hireling of Callus the Mighty"...

      "What are your qualifications, young man?"
      "I'm the fastest sprinter in this village, sir!"
      "PASS! How about you?"
      "I'm the village firefighter, and I can haul a 200 pound man out of a building with haste!"
      "NEXT!"
      "Well... my back is strong, but I have a wooden leg..."
      "HIRED!"

      Delete
  3. I like that you've toned down the original OD&D chart, in which you can roll up a level 4 monster on depth 1! In Adventurer Conqueror King I wound up toning it down even further by using a d12 so that there is only 1/12 chance of a depth+2 monster and a 1/6 chance of depth+1. I agree that the chance should be 50% of the one you're on, though!

    I further nodded to level-appropriateness by tweaking the # encountered and reaction rolls:
    "2. Roll the appropriate number encountered for the creature to determine how many are present. Increase or decrease this roll by one-half for each step of difference between the dungeon level and the Random Monster table used (round down). For example, consulting Random Monster table #3 might indicate 1d6 wights. A roll of 5 would result in 1 wight if this encounter takes place on level 1; 2 on level 2; 5 on level 3; 7 on level 4; or 10 on level 5."
    "4. Roll for surprise and reactions as described in Chapter 6, Dungeon Encounters. Modify the reaction roll by the difference between the Random Monster table used and the dungeon level of the encounter. For instance, if the wights from table 3 are encountered on level 5, they have a -2 penalty to reaction rolls; if encountered on level 1, they have a +2 bonus to reaction rolls. The numerical superiority of monsters traveling deeper into the dungeon makes them more likely to attack. On the other hand, powerful monsters wandering on an upper level are more inclined to view the party as tools than threats."

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    Replies
    1. Anonymous8:44 PM

      "Boo" to toning anything down. Arneson had a balrog on the first level of one of his dungeons and Holmes a purple worm!

      Balance is the opposite of fun. Better to have an Allosaurus in there and run like hell then a whole level of just giant bugs and rats. Crank it up to 11!

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  4. Doesn't that table simplify down to:

    1 - one level above
    2-4 - current level
    5 - one level below
    6 - two levels below

    ... which is something you can keep in your head and so not have to consult an extra table? Since levels 4&5 and 6&7 use the same chart anyway.

    @Tavis: I kind of liked being able to roll up a Level IV monster on the first level of the dungeon. Whither yellow mould and rust monsters?

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  5. Very nice! I've always liked that chart.

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  6. Ditto. That was always one of my favorite charts too. Thanks for posting it!

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  7. I've always liked using 2d6:

    2= three levels above (1/36, 3%)
    3= two levels above (2/36, 6%)
    4+5= one level above (7/36, 19%)
    6-8= current level (16/36, 44%)
    9+10= one level below (7/36, 19%)
    11= two levels below (2/36, 6%)
    12= three levels below (1/36, 3%)

    Of course, on level 1, 2-8 means current level; or, as an option, with anything above 1st level, you could roll on the local Outdoor Encounter table...

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  8. I agree with you, always liked this in the DMG and I like your take on it. Might be worth pointing out what's done in Holmes, with d12. (Only for 3 levels below ground, 3 Monster Level Tables, of course).

    There, it's:
    Level below surface: 1
    1-8: Table I, 9-11: Table II, 12: Table III

    Level below surface: 2
    1-3: Table I, 4-9: Table II, 10-12: Table III

    Level below surface: 3
    1: Table 1, 2-4: Table II, 5-12: Table III

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    Replies
    1. Always nice to roll a d12 too. :)

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  9. Thanks for making a real chart Jeff! I often use the AD&D one and just fiddle the results, so this is nice :)

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  10. This is cool. I also like John's D6 version, and the Holmes version. Maybe (because there can never be too many reasons to use a D12) you could do this:
    1: 2 levels above
    2-3: 1 level above
    4-9: current level
    10-11: 1 level below
    12: 2 levels below

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  11. Thanks as always Jeff! That table has a place on my Castle Greyhawk screen...

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  12. I did the same thing for Holmes, expanding it to level 9:
    Wandering Monsters for Holmes D&D

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  13. Since it is not mentioned above, I'll note the Holmes rulebook has a d12-based table for just levels 1-3, which could be used with the Lvl 1-3 tables in the rulebook or the Lvl 1-3 Monster & Treasure Assortment included in the Holmes Basic Set (early printings).

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  14. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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