Sunday, February 16, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Centaur (d100)

Today’s table is for Centaurs. I do enjoy a good Wilderness Adventure, and as far as semi-civilized sylvan dwellers go, Centaurs are really fun to run. Although you can always do the “drunken bride-napping louts” routine from classic mythology, I prefer to give them a little more depth and culture. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with Equine Coat Colors, and don’t be afraid to mix things up. I’ve enjoyed concocting exotic Zebra and cryptic Okapi “Centaurs” in Yoon-Suin for instance.

They seem to serve as a natural bridge between Elfs and Dwarfs due to their dependencies on iron for shoes. One idea I lean into heavily is just how crucial a herd’s Anvil must be for its survival and ability to thrive, and farriering must be a fairly frequent essential pastime for the overall wellness of the members.

I always love a Monster that can be as friendly or stand-offish as the oracular Reaction Roll dictates, although I must admit that encounters with them don’t often devolve in an all-out-melee. If you get in their bad books, they’re far more likely to stalk and hunt you down with no regard for distance. Fleet hooves and terrain familiarity make for fearsome foes, and as they are usually allied with some of the more powerful denizens of the wilds, the Party that angers a herd of Centaurs may have much more to contend with down the road.

I can hardly wait to give these folk the Gorgon Trail treatment eventually 😊, and almost considered making them the default demi-humans.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Cat, Great (d20)

Here’s another “Multi-table” for our fine feline friends. As with Bears, the first ten entries apply to any of them, but for more species-specific results, you can either use a d20 or roll directly on the sub-tables:

Friday, February 14, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Carcass Crawler (d100)

The Carcass Crawler. Eight (8) attacks! Eight (8) Saving throws versus paralysis! 2d4 turns of not doing much on an increasingly likely fail, other than potentially being eaten somehow of course…the rules aren’t really clear on how it ends up actually damaging it’s victims, so perhaps this is really just an excruciatingly drawn out “Save or Die” after all.

Big pushover that I am, I usually rule that they’ll try to drag the tastiest (completely subjective) target somewhere safe to eat, somewhat reducing the chances for a TPK. If I were truly evil, I’d emphasize how they actually prefer their food to be ripe, rank, and rotten, so they typically just re-sting the paralyzed party every so often until it dies of starvation. Then after a suitable amount of decay sets in, they dig in. Gross stuff!

I vaguely recall one of these (well, it’s precursor) having an appearance in one of the starter dungeons in the Mentzer Basic Set? They are a pretty brutal lesson on risk management for players just embarking on adventure. Was there a Deus ex Machina built in? I gotta go dig that up now…

Interestingly, as this is our first IP dodging critter: I don’t think my players have ever called them by their “name” (official or otherwise). I’ve heard them called “Stun Grubs,” “Creepy Crawlies,” “Corpse Eaters,” “Those nasty Dungeon Bugs,” and all sorts of other evocative, experientially generated names. Something to consider if the names of things troubles you: Things have more meaning when they’re named by the players, and one simple way to preserve the mystery of a Monster and the thrill of discovery is to refrain from calling it by its name. A good description should get their brains bubbling with something to call it as a shorthand soon enough.

Here's a hundred little vignettes to choose from when these nasty little beasties decide to show their jelly-fish faces:

Thursday, February 13, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Caecilia (d100)

I think this just might be our first B/X-specific beastie! I can’t say that I’ve ever really used a Caecilia in a game, which is a darn shame. They seem that they’d work exceedingly well for Wilderness Tier adventures not ready for the challenge of the puissant Purple Worm. Or better yet: They could make excellent ersatz Graboids à la the film Tremors, or you can always build less pop-culturally on things like the legend of the Lambton Worm.

They can also serve as a significant threat to a cherished base of operations, a way to generate slithering shortcuts between different levels in a dungeon delve, and of course a means of generating the evergreen fun of the post-combat stomach searching performed by savvy players. Littering dank darkened hallways with the occasional huge, wiry wormcast or having them erupt from the earth following a particularly heavy rain sounds lovely too.

For their one-hundred entries, I’ve departed a bit by placing some special items among the initial thirty. These can serve as interesting discoveries in the gullets of defeated Caceilia by simply using a d30 in addition to providing a little insight into what the critter may have been up to recently.

I’m likely going to leap over Camels for now and bumble straight into Carcass Crawlers. I have some ideas for handling some of the Herd/Livestock animals a little later.

Wednesday, February 12, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Bugbear (d100)

Did you hear something? No? Then it’s probably Bugbears. The description in OSE only really tells us a few things: Large, Hairy, Ungainly, Goblins. Their penchant for surprise, and exceptional odds in this regard (1-3 out of 6!) mean that this table may not end up seeing very much use. Spying on something so sneaky seems like it might be tricky.

I like to use them to fill the role of the classic Bogeyman. “The Bugbear will get you, if you don’t do/keep doing X” sort of thing. Many of the entries reflect this usage if you need some inspiration for what they’re doing before they get the drop on the PCs half the time!

Tuesday, February 11, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Dryads (d100)

I received a request for Dryads, and I felt that they’d be fun to fill a table for. Since B/X – OSE doesn’t contain Nymphs, Dryads can occupy a portion of that niche nicely. There’s an interesting “Save or Die” feature, which while not as flavorful as blindness, still makes them incredibly dangerous. Rescuing a hapless victim of the Dryad’s Charm from their arboreal prison could make for a neat adventure in itself.

I always endeavor to give them a special, distinctive Tree since it’s so central to their existence. I have another Generator that might be useful to give a Dryad’s Tree a more botanically flavorful name. The encounter is far more memorable if the Dryad dwells within a towering Cradlenut Maple, the looming roots of a Bloodflower Mulberry in bloom, or clinging to a cliffside in a jachelt Gravemantle Cherry, so it’s worth taking a few moments to flesh this out. Besides, that’s where she’s sure to store her treasures, and greedy murder-hobos will be digging up the entire forest otherwise!

Honestly though, I can only think of a handful of times that a Dryad encounter has devolved into some kind of combat. Most of the time they serve as flavorful, fairy tale-ish social obstacles. As a kind of genius loci, they can be very knowledgeable sources of information in their territory. Networked together through tantalizingly vast rhizome and root systems, they could really save a lost party’s bacon. I hope these entries help encourage you to plant one somewhere in your next Forest Hex.

Monday, February 10, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Buccaneers (d100)

Avast! Much like the Bandit to Brigand relationship, Buccaneers and Pirates demonstrate some interesting overlap.

I tend use these more as Privateers, Vikings or Coastal raiders. Some of the more “seaborne” entries might be a little tricky to incorporate on the fly depending on the circumstances of the encounter (I briefly considered splitting this up into River/Lake, Coastal and Open Water…but that was a bit fiddly), so you may need to use some of these as more of a springboard. When in doubt, or if nothing is leaping into your mind and stoking your imagination, roll again, flip the d100 digits, or simply select another nearby entry that tickles your fancy:

Sunday, February 9, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Brigands (d100)

Although I tend to use them more like rapacious Mercenary Companies, some of the entries on the Bandits table could also be considered somewhat interchangeable.

Here are a hundred Encounter Activities should your Player Characters encounter some Brigands:

Saturday, February 8, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Bears (d20)

Backtracking to bring you Bears. I’ve placed each type on a single sheet, with ten Ursine entries apiece along with a table for “all Bears” so a d20 can be used. Might expand this later once I start hammering out a proper layout. Bears might deserve two spreads:

Friday, February 7, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Kobold (d100)

From another request, here are some Encounter Activities for the lowly Kobold, even though I really resent that distinction 😊. I suppose I end up running them as the more pernicious Tucker clade: often underestimated and always scheming to wrench some small advantage from a world where nearly everything has more Hit Points.

I’m also an inveterate Kobold purist: only snarling, scaly dog-men need apply. Some almost resemble snub-nosed pugilistic Pugs; others are closer to panting, mangy Chihuahuas. I recommend taking a breed of dog as inspiration to make each Kobold tribe distinctive (the more unusual the better, I like to take them into full on “so ugly their cute” Chinese Crested territory as this only seems to accentuate the likelihood that they’ll be underestimated by the Players).

Teeny tiny dragon-men only succeed in padding an already over-saturated niche occupied by slithering Ophidians, the larger Lizard Men, those fun and funky Troglodytes, and even Draconians and Dragonborn in later days. They deserve a place of their own, and it goes a long way to making the Monster more memorable.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Zombie (d100)

Just a quick detour directly to the Monster at the end of most manuals! I know it’s the last one in OSE at least.

I received an interstitial request to create one of these Encounter Activity tables for the dreadful Zombie and was able to complete a d100 table for them fairly quickly. Shambling my way all the way through to the letter “Z” before reaching these oft-used Monsters would have been almost cruel.

Zombies are an exceedingly frequent fail-safe when it comes to Dungeon stocking. What Terrifying Tomb, Creepy Crypt, or Crumbling Catacomb would be complete without a few shambling corpses to give the Cleric something to try and Turn?

Here are a hundred activities you can have your Hungry, Hollow Husks undertake:

OSE Encounter Activities - Blink Dog (d100)

Every Dog has it’s day, and today is for Blink Dogs!

One of very few Lawful creatures in the standard critter list (Did you realize that Neanderthals share this alignment? That’s pretty neat!), encounters with these magical mutts are almost always guaranteed to be unusual and/or tense. I’d try to give them needs, wants, and motivations, but the lack of language might make for some challenging role-playing opportunities. Negotiating is the far better course however, because by-the-book, their pack tactics and namesake ability make for some seriously frustrating foes if fought. I like to give their “blinking” ability a signature sound per pack: Champagne cork popping, paper-tearing, door slamming, etc.

I really can’t peg any mythological antecedents for these creatures, and they may have just been added to create symmetry with the IP-displacing “Warp Beast” after all. I leaned a little heavily into their Lawful nature here, because it certainly makes them more intriguing:

Next, I’ll be working on a request to get together a table for the ubiquitous Zombie, and since they would normally shamble in at the very end of the list alphabetically, bumping them up is probably for the best. I’m also procrastinating on the Pudding since they don't exactly have a lot of personality to go on, and therefore are a little less appetizing. It might need to share space with some of the other “clean-up crew” oozes/slimes.

Wednesday, February 5, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Berserker (d100)

I’m fairly certain that the venerable Quasqueton was my introduction to the concept of Berserkers traipsing about dungeon halls to harry players. Their presence in the description at that initial intersection is still ingenious after all these years, and many forays In Search Of The Unknown have started with a little CSI because of it.

Come to think of it, that encounter a prime example of what I’d love to accomplish with these tables: Creating opportunities for play to progress in completely unexpected directions with a little bit of additional information to spark player interest.

Filled out in a foaming frenzy, here are one-hundred Berserker activities for if and when they end up encountered by your players:

Tuesday, February 4, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Beetles (3d30)

Ladies and Gentlemen…The Beetles!

I’ve always been fascinated by the ecological implications of insects growing this large, and as a casual observer of local coleoptera I’m always surprised at how expressive a bumbling beetle can be. Marching across the ground with gruff territorial determination, climbing and falling from the same slick surface over and over, or even just careening into the same porch lightbulb all night long.

Bio-luminescent beetles are tragically rare nowadays where I live thanks to light pollution :(, but I recall the fireflies from my childhood fondly. Bombardier beetles with their corrosive cocktails are marvels of internal chemistry, and the at least one tribe of Tiger Beetle we have around these parts is just plain gorgeous in shimmering, shiny green.

Hope you consider upping their frequency on your Encounter Tables! These three really just scratch the surface of potentially interesting species: Imagine enormous scarabs rolling boulder sized dung-balls, truly Goliath mandibles capable of crushing Elephants, or even plodding slowly across the countryside on the carmine carapace of a colossal Ladybug!

Monday, February 3, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Bats (3d30)

Release the Bats!

These are a staple set dressing for any kind of cavern exploration, but I need to remember to use swarms of them in Forests/Dungeons more. There’s something primally unnerving about a high ceiling extending into darkness, but teeming with chattering life. As a bonus, almost everyone I have ever spoken with is mortified at the prospect of getting them tangled in their tresses for some instinctive reason.

Since these are animal behaviors, I’ve split them up into a trio of d30 tables instead of devoting a single d100 to each (oh brother!) or trying to come up with behaviors that were applicable to all three types:

As always, you can suggest the next entry in the comments. Bears might get a similar treatment (perhaps four d20 tables), unless I need a brief break from mammals and decide move on to Beetles.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Basilisk (d100)

Although I prefer the octopod, lizard-like Basilisk, some gaming tables lean hard into the serpentine. Mine prefer to petrify their victims to preserve them (much how a spider trusses up a fly) and have a substance in their saliva that slowly reverts Stone to Flesh so that they can dine at their leisure (harvesting this spittle can take the statuesque sting out of an unlucky encounter, but I’m an inveterate softie, and don’t really relish encounters that grind play to a halt). Feel free to adjust some entries if they don’t quite fit your mythological vision, but I tried to cover quite a few bases here.

Without further ado, I present the OSE Encounter Activities for the baleful Basilisk, bane of many a fortune-hunter:

Might split up the Bat entry into a triptych of d30 tables depending on how fertile I’m feeling.

Friday, January 31, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Bandits (d100)

Stand and Deliver! Here are one hundred lawless undertakings to embellish your Bandit encounters.

Bandits have been fairly frequent entries on Wilderness Encounter Tables since the very beginning (the typical Outdoor Survival board was practically crawling with Outlaws and ne’er do-wells) and they still seem to crop up regularly in later interpretations. There’s a world-building implication somewhere in there I’m sure.

I hope there are some DMs that get some mileage out of this list and that it leads to more interesting situations. As always, I love to hear about how these tables work out at your table!

Don’t forget the wealth of additional framing that can be added with Encounter Distance, Surprise, and by remembering to throw those crucial Reaction Roll dice! And always remember to check Morale so that they can flee and live to fight another day! Bandits can make for excellent recurring foils but can also be a useful faction to ally with in the Wilderness.

I believe our buddy the Basilisk is up next, which might be a little challenging!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Lizard Man (d100)

What are those scaly and squamous folk up to? Old School Essential’s lovely and laconic layout tells us of only two preferences: one of armament and the other of appetite. So here’s a hundred digressions to dress up any lacertilian rendezvous:

Alphabetically, Bandits are next (and I figure they’ll be easy enough, as I’ve used them plenty in the past), but if you’d like to interrupt the running order with a request, drop it in the Comments and I’ll see what I can whip together.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Ape, White (d100)

Here’s another entry in the OSE Encounter Activities project: the dreaded White Ape!

Sufficiently variable animal activities and behaviors might prove difficult to fill up an entire 1d100 table for some of the other entries, so in the future I might do smaller tables (d20, d30) for entries like this (it’s often more fun to remix more pedestrian animal encounters with another encounter: Bear menacing a Troll, Bats harassing a Gelatinous Cube, etc.). It’s the Monsters that generally get the imagination firing on all cylinders after all, and I doubt any DMs have had to contend with a party of primatologists, but should this come up, this might be a handy table to have!

Working on a request for Lizard Men next, but let me know if there's an OSE Monster you'd like to see sooner than the alphabet allows!

Tuesday, January 28, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Acolytes (d100)

While leafing through Old School Essentials the other day, I was struck by another project idea: wouldn't it be wonderful to have at hand a few "Encounter Activity" tables for each of the Monsters in the Classic Fantasy Monsters tome in the same vein as my These Wood Elfs Are... and These Dwarfs Are... tables?

So I started with the first one:

Hopefully this will add a little additional flavoring to those randomly encountered or placed foes. I could also see some of the entries applying to the mysterious Drune of Dolemnwood fairly well. If there's enough interest, I might muddle my way through more as I get the chance. I welcome any suggestions for which Monster I should try to tackle next in the comments!

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