Saturday, February 29, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Toad, Giant

Still hopping around the list a bit. Just in time for Leap Day, here’s a table for those batrachian behemoths: The Giant Toad!

Friday, February 28, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Skeleton

To celebrate the completion of a quarter of the monsters, I decided to skip around a little bit for a change of pace. Here are one hundred Encounter Activities for some more first-level fodder favorites: Skeletons!

I’m unabashedly addicted to making my Skeletons a little more stop-motion Harryhausen at every available opportunity. Sometimes I’ll surprise Players by giving one or all of them an X in 6 chance to simply re-animate until completely annihilated in a more creative fashion than banal bashing. The occasional relentless and indefatigable “Living Skeleton” is always a rattling revelation. I also enjoy how perplexing and unsettling it can be to portray these low-level Undead as eternally trapped and idling away endless hours parodying the activities they performed in life. One can finely tune the level of fright they incite, though these days with the over-saturation of Halloween decorations, it is a little more challenging to make confronting our osseous remains truly chilling. Curiously, I’ve found that humanizing them in ways that go unexplained can actually help leaven an otherwise lusterless encounter with a bit more horror and dread.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Elemental

Four for the price of one (well, technically twelve if you count all the types), this entry provides statistics for the different power levels of Elemental (Lesser, Intermediate, Grater) as well as differences based on their composition.

I’ve always preferred a more “anthropomorphized” or vaguely humanoid miens for my Elementals, but as creatures from other Planes, I tend to give them somewhat inscrutable behaviors and personalities. They are truly alien to this world, and certain situations we’d construe as prosaic are simply frustrating, confusing, or just plain terrifying for them. Imagine for a moment how things would work if you visited a world aflame or with radically different fundamental laws and physics, wouldn’t really be much of a picnic, would it?

Most of them are compelled to perform tasks through powerful magical forces, so give some thought to who/what summoned them and what their underlying duties may be if it’s not specified in an entry. I’m sure that they do occasionally “go rogue” or slay their summoners without securing a return-trip home, so this probably makes them even more aggravated and unpredictable.

Another thing I often import from later versions are even “Smaller” Elementals. I love the idea of a Wizard lighting her pipe with a living wisp of fire, a roiling potion bottle of crystal-clear water that remains cool at any temperature, a surprisingly smooth boulder dutifully rolling behind them, or an orbiting orb-like breeze to flare or billow the occasional robe. OSE Statistic-wise, I’d be tempted to just use Sprites.

Had to do a little font-size shrinking to get them all to play nice on a single page. When I get into less casual “layout” territory for a compiled resource, these might end up on separate spreads.

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Driver Ant

Driver Ants!

These Myrmicine Monsters are easy to model, as Ant Behavior is something most people are familiar with. Although thankfully not present in the hundreds of thousands that you’d find in a typical anthill, I still like to borrow heavily from the natural world and give them a Queen, eggs, and larvae to tend to.

Since seeds and grain are probably not enough to sustain and feed a colony of critters this large (six foot ants!), I also imagine that, like Leaf Cutter Ants, they cultivate a variety of Fungi to feed on within their underground layers. This also gives you an excuse to come up with some interesting mushrooms and their effects!

If you find yourself in need of a quick “Giant Ant” mound for your players to explore, I made some contributions to Hex Describe that seem to handle them fairly well (although I’d definitely like to revisit the tables here again to incorporate some of the the brainfood that this Encounter Activity table might provide). This link should provide you with ten [giant ant lairs] relatively instantaneously.

Hope you have as much fun with these Formic Foes as they were to write up!

Tuesday, February 25, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Dragon Turtle/Shell Crawl

I’m temporarily skipping over the regular Dragons for now. Their role as titular Monsters means I need to do them proper justice, and I’m still deciding if I want to do an “All Dragons + Dragon Color” combo-tables or attempt to give each Color its own table. If you have a preference, let me know in the Comments!

In the interim, I’ve decided to tackle the chelonian challenge that is the Dragon Turtle. These are arguably the most powerful Monster in B/X or OSE, with incredibly high Hit Dice and a nearly unique arduous Armor Class to overcome. Since their Breath Weapon hinges on Hit Points, it can easily be one of the most damaging adversaries in the game. In fact, glancing at my trusty Rules Cyclopedia to compare for potential power creep, I spied the following note:

Note: Dragon turtles are extremely powerful creatures that should not be used unless the player characters are of very high level.

Could this be the very first interstitial admonishment for Encounter Balance? Are Dragon Turtles at least a little bit responsible for later developments like Challenge Rating? I found it interesting 😊.

I was a little torn (or perhaps I took the advice above subconsciously to heart): I don’t typically use these as antagonists for combat, but instead my mind is consistently drawn to the wonder-invoking illustration for the Zaratan in the 2nd AD&D Edition Monster Manual. Something this massive can serve as a better set piece to explore or clamber over…a bit like the Colossi in Shadow Of The Colossus. Perhaps they conceal their commensurately formidable treasures in caches and crevasses throughout their backs (defended by dermal plate denizens, of course).

So I decided a compromise was in order, I’m still providing a d30 for Encounter Activities, but also a bonus “Shell Crawl” Table after realizing that the scutes on a Turtle’s carapace are surprisingly hexagonal. You can populate the various plates on-the-fly or in advance, and feel free to scale the area up or down to your liking. I think I prefer to take the ⯈ Mistaken for island bullet in OSE to heart by making them positively massive.

If you need more ideas/inspiration for the Shell Crawl “Hexes” some of my Wilderness Hexes might fit in with a little filing. There's a score of Sea-based ones as well if you are planning a more maritime jaunt!

Monday, February 24, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Doppelgänger (d100)

Oh, dear do I love a good Doppelgänger-based encounter. They’re purpose-built for infiltrating the factions of both friendlies and foes alike with their complex, duplicitous schemes.

Using them cleverly can be immensely rewarding when one can orchestrate that tricky but ever-so satisfying “big reveal.” I’m not necessarily talking about your silly Scooby-Doo unmasking (“Old Man Potter was just a Doppelgänger all along!”), more the fruition of careful plotting and positioning spanning an entire campaign (or at least several sessions). They make consummate nemeses and the perfect recurring foils.

I have some Players that have developed a deep-seated animosity towards Doppelgängers, and for good reason. They were a perennial foe in one of my longer running campaigns, and it didn’t hurt that I’d engineered some rather duplicitous situations to help me home in on their full potential.

To feed and foster the inherent Paranoia of being “Pod Personed,” after introducing them and their concepts, I took each player aside periodically before games to ask them if they’d like to volunteer to play a Doppelgänger for a session.

I recommend assuring them that their actual character would remain safe and eventually return, maybe even dangling some additional Experience for a session well-played. Emphasize the importance of keeping their choice and the conversation secret from the other players for maximum effect.

I suppose one could select and brief a willing confederate if one has any players that are up to the task (sometimes a little light PvP can be fun after all and the best kinds of party sabotage are self-inflicted), but it’s far more devious to just mention that you’ll mull any volunteering over and provide your answer with a pre-arranged note-passing in-game. Then proceed to play the session with private notes-a-flying to all participants (taker and non-taker players) alike. I’ll leave it as an exercise for the more devilish DM whether one actually ends up needing to select a Doppelgänger from any “takers” to have the desired effect.😊

As far as Encounter Activities go, you could just as easily roll on the table of the Humanoid they’re impersonating to get an idea of what they’re doing “right now.” This table might be more useful to inspire in terms of plotting out their underlying insidious plans and over-arching villainous machinations.

Sunday, February 23, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Cave Locust (d100)

Circling back to plug one a few holes that have cropped up in the list: Here’s a d100 Encounter Activity table for a frequent-flier dungeon pest of mine: The lowly and skittish Cave Locust. Startling many a party with a sudden clumsy leap from concealment, I always envision them as somewhat resembling the creepy little Mole Crickets I would occasionally see as a child.

If you need some assistance describing the smell their stinking spittle: I have a table for that 😊. Some of the “Ugly” smells from my Three Hundred Smells & Scents might manage to wrinkle a few noses.

Saturday, February 22, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Dervish (d100)

Here’s a Monster entry that hasn’t aged too well. It really shines a steady light on the whole “armchair history buff” roots of the hobby. Dervishes are quite obviously based on an over-simplification/misunderstanding of real-world counterparts, and when these kinds of clumsy stand-ins are used in this way, the reductive treatment has a high likelihood of only ending up troubling and insensitive. This is a true shame, because Lawful opponents can be a refreshing change of pace over more monolithic “Evil” and the pervasiveness of Chaotic foes.

I suppose if you need zealous Holy Warriors, then this entry can fit the bill. Curiously, you could simply substitute the more occidentally-inclined appellation “Crusader” here should your setting need something similar and run them without any modification. Stereotypes and tropes, sides of the same XP coin and all that.

The primary situation that encounters with Dervishes seem designed to scrutinize is the implication is that not all Lawful alignments are the same. World-building-wise the undertone is that there are factions/cultures that exist in the world that may have a different interpretation of Lawful behavior from the characters.

A run-in with Dervishes as written tries to facilitate exploring these differences through exaggeration and over-simplification. This is something the Good/Evil axis in later games seeks to unscramble but usually ends up muddling by only creating even more boilerplate behaviors. I do find it curious that the intended interaction seems to only really be possible thanks to the much-maligned Alignment Languages (I absolutely adore them…anything that puts words in the mouths of Monsters is awesome in my book, but that’s really something better saved for a future post).

Moral quandaries can be fun to pose to some players at some tables, but I don’t think they are as satisfying when they end up being as one-dimensional as these. But my goal remains to do a table for each Monster entry, distasteful warts and all:

Friday, February 21, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Cyclops (d100)

Poor Polyphemus! I always felt a little bad for that blinded bloke. It does seem that most Monster Manual entries for the Cyclops can trace its origins to this mythological counterpart. For this table I’ve included entries that highlight the viniculture and sheep-herding tidbits in the description.

Statistics-wise they seem to make for fairly challenging foes, but the Slow-witted caveat seems ripe for exploitation by players, and with all that Treasure sitting around, they seem like a pretty solid way for clever players to swindle some not inconsiderable XP. I’d just be more than a little concerned about those 5% that can Curse.

As with the Caecillia, I’ve nested another little treat in this table: The first twenty, italicized entries can also serve as a handy-dandy-bespoke-curse generator if you find the standard penalties/effects a little lacking or less flavorful. Just as with Potions and Magic Swords, a simple bonus or minus is seldom as satisfying for me. A table with one-hundred custom-tailored Curses is definitely something to put on the pile for later 😊.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Pudding, Oooze, Slime, Jelly, Mould (5d20)

Puddings, Oozes, and Slimes, oh my!

I had a ton of fun helping Alex with creating some tables for his excellent Hex Describe for procedurally generating these types of critters. Here’s some sample output of what the random generator comes up with:

To try it yourself, click here or go to the Hex Describe (no map), place [slimes] as many times as you’d like in the top box on separate lines and hit Submit. To demonstrate just how amazing this tool is, I heartily recommend checking out what it is capable of producing on-the-fly for random dungeons. I look forward to adding more content to this tool again soon, and some of it might even come from these tables (the Hex Describe syntax can easily exponentially expand one of my standard d100 tables by randomizing within the random results)!

But back to our blobs… While Black Puddings and Ochre Jellies could be considered combat-leaning encounters, I generally see the others as more akin to Traps or Hazards. Maybe it’s their slow movements/near sessility, their concealed natures/deceptive appearances, or the need for the right “tool” to overcome any resistances. I think the key to creating an at least semi-rewarding encounter with these is being generous with clues to their presence. Often the absence of other monsters in an area is a pretty good give-away: the local dungeon denizens, save maybe some Undead, will often give them a pretty wide berth. A dungeon colonized by these gooey boarders is bound to be a lot more clean and barren (the corrosion of wood, cloth, and/or metal…not to mention the side-effect “sweeping motion” of ravenous and indiscriminate amorphous glops sliding about in search of prey), with few intact furnishings and doors depending on how long they’ve been about. Over centuries, a sufficiently fed ooze could polish and shine the flagstones of a dungeon to a shimmering sparkle.

I was able to fit five on a single page (this might change once I wrangle the document into spreads), and I’ve given each a score of activities to consider below:

I couldn't quite squeeze the Gelatinous Cube in here, but I think I’d like to dedicate a larger table to them anyway. I believe that this puts us at thirty completed tables!

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Crocodiles (3d30)

When I’m populating Random Encounter Tables for Swamps, Bayous and Marshes, Alligators and Crocodiles definitely receive pride of place on the lists. Both as moody set-dressing and for their satisfyingly sudden, snapping strikes.

There’s just something about their eerie, antediluvian gaze staring with slitted pupils among the vibrant green duckweed or fragrant lotus blossoms, barely above the waterline. As apex ambush predators and consummate survivors, an unprepared Adventuring Party wading through their world has the odds stacked against them.

I almost inextricably associate them with Swamps, but of course they could show up in Savannas, at Sea, or even basking on Desert Deltas (this might require a little jury-rigging of the tables below, Swamps are only second to Forests in my favored terrains). While I was studying the stats, I rediscovered just how terrifyingly formidable Giant Crocodiles are! They give even the game's namesake (Dragons) a run for their money HD-wise, and all for a Treasure Type of “None” to boot!

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Cockatrice (d100)

Another flying foe, Cockatrices overlap a bit with the baleful Basilisk, but are a little less fearsome. Fortunately for clever Players, it takes physical contact (not just a glance or gout of foul miasmic breath) for their petrification power to trigger a saving throw. The OSE illustration is absolutely marvelous for this Monster.

If you’ve ever had the privilege of dealing with Roosters, you might have an idea at just how territorial and cantankerous they can be. Their dinosaur ancestry is terribly apparent and if you were to amplify that with some serious threat-eliminating power like petrification, I imagine you would get a pretty cocky critter.

I’m partial to a “slowly turning to stone” type of petrification for Cockatrices. I relish the idea of spidery calcification radiating slowly from the point of injury in crumbling, chalky seams. Gradually stiffening cemented joints, and eventually belaboring breathing by encasing the lungs. Timers really ratchet up tension.

Perhaps the poor pecked PC has a number of rounds of leaden action equal to the margin at which they missed their throw, or maybe even equal to an Ability Score (you could use Strength or Constitution for this, but I prefer to use Charisma for this as an ersatz “force of personality in the face of reality” as a high score here is often under-rewarded).

This slight delay might give them a little more time to come up with a cure, help slay the beast, or at least strike a suitably heroic (or more easily portaged) pose. I’d be happy to watch them waste additional resources to slow or stave it off further (maybe a Cleric’s Cure spell can grant 1d6+1 additional rounds).

Another option I quite like is adapted from Emmy Allen’s utterly superb product The Gardens of Ynn (reviewed here). From the entry for her take on the Basilisk: On each failed save, the Character loses 1d12 points of Dexterity. This loss represents petrification; the more lost, the more of the victim’s body is turned to stone, until they become a statue at 0 DEX. This has the added feature of modelling the sluggishness by making them easier to hit as they shed any AC bonuses and gradually gain maluses.

You could make any loss above 0 temporary, perhaps crumbling off like dusty, dried mud over a weeks’ time. Or the DEX loss could be stone-cold permanent, giving veteran Cockatrice hunters tell-tale limps and stiffened gaits. It all depends on your table and tastes. I do enjoy the notion that eating the gizzard of a Cockatrice might restore some of the Dexterity lost in this way by a random amount.

Monday, February 17, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Chimera (d100)

Those horrid Chimeras! I always must fight the urge to pronounce them is “Chim-uh-ra” instead of the correct “Ky-mer-a.” There ought to be a word for words you only learned from reading in books and persistently mispronounce. Bonus points if it’s misleadingly spelled.

Give a little thought to how these merged monstrosities came about. Are they Magical Experiments gone wrong but breeding true? Is their genesis simply a curse laid on mankind by the Gods? Perhaps they are heraldry inadvertently animated by magic? Or maybe they’re the product of Titans attempting to build the perfect animal: one with the Perseverance of the Goat, the Majesty of the Lion and the Cunning of the Dragon, but instead they got Stubbornness, Ferocity, and Miserliness for their trouble? Are the real origins of these dreadful beasts something else entirely?

Also, I like to mix them up a bit: replacing the Goat with a Ram or Oryx, tinkering with a Tiger or substituting a Smilodon head instead, and I have been known to dabble with Dragons of different colors (and breath weapons) occasionally. The “center” head is usually the one in charge and reflects the primary personality, and if it just so happens to be the Dragon one, I give them a chance for speech and spells (foes with the gift of gab are always more fun for me). Never shy away from surprising Veteran players with remixes of your own devising.

Here are a hundred dastardly doings for these foul amalgamations:

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 Ă  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.



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