Tuesday, March 31, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Squid, Giant

Since OSE seems to be sadly lacking in the Kraken department, I suppose these over-sized cephalopod might serve as substitutes in a pinch.

Monday, March 30, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Scorpion, Giant

I have a fondness for Scorpions of all sizes. Apocryphally, when I was only a year or so old, our home was invaded by these arachnids one sweltering summer. The intruders likely belonged to the Striped Bark species, which is common around those parts. I was crawling about the boringly beige shag carpet mostly naked due to the heat, when I apparently found a few new friends and started playing with the Scorpions like toys. Dangling them by their tails and swinging them around giggling according to witnesses. Following family lore, this continued until my father came in from working outside and smashed them with a shoe, with much sobbing, wailing, and weeping on my part. I was somehow un-stung, but absolutely heartbroken that my toys had been so unceremoniously squished.

Nowadays, I’m not certain I’d be so inclined to treat them so casually, but I haven’t come across one in ages outside of pet-store cages. I do recall desperately wanting one of those beautiful ebony Emperor Scorpions that seemed to be pretty popular as pets during the eighties, but the mere thought of having one in the house was anathema to my mother, who was not a fan of creepy-crawlies.

In D&D terms, they’re much more interesting to me than Giant Spiders (it’s the deadly sting and menacing claws that make for such memorable mΓͺlΓ©es), and I enjoy the bonus they engender to their sting on a successful Claw attack in OSE. Their deadly venom is definitely another tick mark in favor of an eventual d100 Unusual Venoms/Horrible Fates More Interesting than Death table.

I find it interesting that instead of being Neutral like most Vermin/Animals, they’re listed as Chaotic (perhaps some bias from the writers has crept in here), though I must admit they seem perfectly at home prowling around abandoned Temples and Evil Shrines. Since their real-world counterparts are on every continent save Antarctica, I see no trouble with slotting them into just about any terrain, although I have a certain fondness for placing them in Deserts, and there’s a one that plays a key role in my Desert Hexes. I find it hard to control myself sometimes and restrict them just to Giant-size (the bigger the better, and I often fondly recall a dreaded Arduin titanic Scorpion that levels towns).

Sunday, March 29, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Giant

Giants make for fearsome foes and even more useful allies if canny Players can find a way to into their good graces.

This is the first of the entries to necessitate a full spread (instead of just a single sheet), because there are half-a-dozen Giant types, and seeing as how they all differ somewhat, I decided to treat them all to a separate d30 table.

There’s always a bit of a “scale” problem when it comes to fisticuffs with these massive Monsters. I have a hard time believing a Human-sized dagger would do more harm than a hatpin in some situations, so another option is to borrow from video games like “Shadow of the Colossus” for truly tremendous Giants, and treat them more like an “Adventure Location” with “Puzzles to defeat.” Flashing “weak points” are optional of course, but there is something deliciously tense about clinging to/climbing on them as enormous obstacles.

All of my favorite folklore stories about Giants always seem to revolve around them being bilked or bamboozled by the Heroes in some way (like bleeding themselves out into a crevasse that connects to the sea, or being “Fin McCool fooled” in a pram), so I like to encourage creative problem solving outside of combat for these encounters. Same could be said for Cyclopes, honestly. Not to mention the utility some Giants might have for Human-sized hands: Their massive fortresses likely have a dire need for Giant Rat pest-control, and who better to squeeze into those massive mouse-holes than the Adventurers (an excellent opportunity to explore scale with some Lilliputian or “The Borrowers” type adventures)? It also must be awfully tricky to count their hoard of coins when they’re the size of the tiny paper circles left over from a hole-punch. 😊

Friday, March 27, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Robber Fly

Robber Flies! I recycle and re-skin this stat block for all manner of big flying bugs, from massive moths to daunting dragonflies. It’s a pretty useful “all purpose” large vermin Monster.

Once more, these are “Surprisers,” so it may be seldom that a party has the opportunity to witness what they’re doing (this is a very common theme in Dungeons, and really captures an adversarial Mythic Underworld that’s out to get any interlopers), but Giant Spiders/Toads have to have something to eat!

I sometimes see their smaller counterparts perched around looking for prey on my walks, and it’s important to remember that not all of them are “Killer Bee” mimics. That “trick” really only works once on Players, and is of questionable utility for the table: Killer Bees kill when they sting, whereas Robber Flies just have more HP. I suppose if the Party is trying to track down some of that lovely Healing Honey, then maybe you could fool them once, but I’m just as likely to describe them as enormous Horse Flies, Mosquitos, or some other insect.

Thursday, March 26, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Wight

Another Undead entry for those who might be running an Undead-themed Megadungeon such as Barrowmaze. Since themed dungeons can result in the same types of foes being encountered again and again, anything to make an occurrence stand out, even just a little bit, can really spice things up and make a Monster more memorable.

Here are a hundred entries for the Wight. I also tend to be a bit of a traditionalist and generally have them haunting or guarding places: duty-bound to Ancient Barrows or Catacombs. However, they can serve double-duty as decent Draugr as well. While they don’t quite qualify for the Liege/Pawn rules found tucked away in the Rules Cyclopedia, I like to establish at least some semblance of symbiosis between them and any Skeletons, Zombies, or even Ghouls that might have manifested in their area. These are a less single-minded, more intelligent Undead, but fortunately their scheming and span of influence is somewhat restricted.

Even if sequestered away like this, their Weapon Immunity and Energy Drain can make them quite imposing encounters for only 3 HD, so some of these entries are intended to help telegraph the dangerous nature to unwary or inexperienced Players.

A single suitably determined Wight would quickly decimate a phalanx of Veterans equipped with only mundane armaments, and the ensuing infestation of Wights that follows in 1d4 days could rapidly scour an entire continent of any remaining life. All the more reason why I usually prefer to keep them locked away or compelled to stay in and protect their Crypts and Tombs!

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Pixie

Unperceivable Pixies! The Fair Folk can be both fun and frightening. I really like to stress the importance of using Euphemistic Names in my games. I even have Players that refuse to refer to them by anything else after facing their fickle wrath.

Typically invisible (I do like how Tall Tales of the Wee Folk handled this with it’s Invisibility to Mortals), so it may be tricky for a party to actually witness any of these activities unless they are gifted with something akin to Second Sight or peer through a naturally bored hole in a pebble or stone. It’s another table for when the tables are turned, I suppose: When the party surprises the suprisers 😊, but still feels useful for breathing some life into the encounter, even if it’s only in the mind’s eye of the DM. Come to think of it, I might try something a little different with Invisible Stalker.

I’m sure this table could prove useful for other types of Kindly Neighbors, but don’t worry. I fully intend to do a separate one for Sprites, since they receive their own listing among the Monsters.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Boar

Finally backtracking to complete the “Bs” here are a hundred Encounter Activities for Boars.

Something that’s always stuck with me about using these animals is a bit of commentary from Rolemaster’s Arms/Claw Law attempting to justify the large Hit Point totals for animals. There was a blurb about a single Boar utterly savaging a typically mixed adventuring party (by Rolemaster standards), and how proper Boar Hunting was performed by several individuals armed with very specific weapons (Boar Spears with backwardly barbed heads to prevent the animal from charging up the shaft toward the hunter). If you wish to give your Boars a boost, you may consider cribbing from the “Battle Rage” feature when wounded or threatened (such as the one found under Berserkers in the book).

They are thankfully not nearly as dangerous in OSE or B/X but considering the frequency with which they show up on the Encounter Tables, they might end up being a pretty prevalent presence in Wilderness adventures, so this might be a useful table to keep handy for general Hunting/Foraging, and I must remember to earmark it for an eventual entry on the Lycanthrope (Wereboar).

Monday, March 23, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Ferret, Giant

My main experience with encountering Ferrets is limited to a single occasion I spent at a friend’s house who had a few as rather irascible pets. While we listened to Warren Zevon records, they somehow managed to find their way into the restroom and thoroughly demolish several rolls of Toilet Paper in mere minutes, making a marvelous mess.

But they’re a Monster on the List, so they still deserve a table! Here’s a hundred Encounter Activities for these slinky mega-Mustelids.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Nixie

I am pleased to present an Encounter Activity Table that’s mostly interchangeable with Nixies, Naiads, Nereids, and even some of the more nautical Nymphs. Potentially pilferable for Kami, Melusine, Sirens, some Huldra, and maybe even Undines with a little strategic substitution.

Friday, March 20, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Manticore

Hope everyone is having a Happy Friday. Today I’ve done a table for those ornery Manticora.

I find it’s sometimes tricky to really differentiate these dastardly devils, so I try to make them a little more intelligent and give them very strange things to hoard among their other treasures.

For a surprise I sometimes give them Giant Scorpion stings or lace their spines with feculence and filth in order to foster infection. Or if one were feeling even eviller, there’s no rule against combining both the spines and a potent stinger. For other interesting venom types, feel free to crib from my table for Giant Centipedes (I really should just put together a d100 on Unusual Venoms at some point 😊).

Particularly nasty and loathsome encounters can sometimes be more memorable, so I’ve endeavored to lean a little toward their plain old rottenness.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Hellhound

Here are a hundred Encounter Activities for those malevolent mutts: the horrible Hellhound.

Pretty situational monsters, with a very unusual HD spread. Perhaps they come in differently sized breeds from Chihuahua to Bull Mastiff? Now I can’t shake the thought of a fire-spewing French Poodle, or a diabolical Dachshund. I'd imagine they don't make 'em in Dalmatian.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Ghoul

Those ghastly Ghouls! Feel free to tune down the gore if it’s not to your tables’ liking or if it doesn’t mesh with your style of play. I kind of prefer to make mine gross and accentuate their eating habits a bit.

For me Ghouls fulfill the role of “Fast Zombies” with a bestial cunning/actual culture and intelligence, and their devastating Claw/Claw/Bite Routine has paralyzed many a player. Better bring an Elf along!

Monday, March 16, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Gelatinous Cube

Tremble with terror from the relentlessly encroaching Gelatinous Cube!

I was awfully surprised I was able to come up with enough for a d100 table for these Monsters (seeing as how they’re mostly just a wandering Trap with no real agency or culture), but I think my previous work on Puddings, Slimes, Oozes, and Moulds helped a bit here. The key to a memorable Cube Encounter has more to do with placing them in interesting and catchy situations (if they’re even spotted first). Although I do enjoy the visual of a bunch of indigestible metal and gems, or partially liquescent skeletons “levitating” towards the Party, that does give them away a bit, and requires a little bit of prep work to pull off well: it always helps to have some pre-generated Treasure Type V’s handy, and I might end up working on something like this down the road. I still have an old tin Index Card box where I lovingly hand-crafted several hoards of Treasure by Types back in the 80s, but nowadays I’d be just as inclined to use results from this handy Generator as a starting point (it’s a little generic naturally, so I’d spruce things up a bit 😊).

Saturday, March 14, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Merman

Undersea adventures can be somewhat difficult to adjudicate, but should your game find itself beneath the waves, here are one hundred Encounter Activities for any Merpersons that might swim by!

Friday, March 13, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Ogre

Another Humanoid with their own language! Ogres provide a good challenge to lower-level parties, and in droves they can make for some fun encounters. I often wonder what the implication is for their hatred of Neanderthals. Is it simply cave competition, or are Ogres some other divergent species?

I usually portray them as pretty doltish and dim-witted, saving the smarter ones for a special surprise now and then (or using the sadly-absent-from-OSE Ogre Magi to fill that role). This particular table was definitely populated with this kind of lumbering oaf in mind:

Thursday, March 12, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Centipede, Giant (#50!)

This is my fiftieth Monster, and what better way to celebrate the half-century mark than scuttling back to give the Giant Centipede their due!

Being only about a foot long these actually have counterparts in the real-world, the Scolopendra gigantea can apparently reach a length of up to a dozen inches! I generally stick to this size in the table even if I tend to prefer them a bit bigger. For a really huge one, I would probably re-skin Caecilia, or for something truly titanic: a Purple Worm! As highly alien-looking arthropods, creatures like Centipedes definitely have a pretty high “squick” factor for some. I see two potentially neologistic names for the specific fear: Scolopendrphobia or Chilopodophobia, but avoiding the gratuitous use of Spiders when gaming with an Arachnophobic player is probably a much more common situation. As the intention at most tables is to have fun, purposefully unsettling Players that possess these kinds of phobias is far too boorish and crude for my tastes, but for a typical table the instinctive revulsion “creepy crawlies” can create is fertile and fair game.

Personally, I’m more than a little fascinated by the way they move about with all those spindly, synchronized legs, but seeing how I grew up in the distribution range of the agonizingly venomous and painfully gorgeous Giant Redhead Centipede, I don’t exactly go picking them up to play with them when I luck into spotting one.

I was intrigued to learn that Centipedes don’t technically bite their prey, but instead they use a pair of modified legs (called foripules) to pierce and inject their venom. I don’t think that does much to make them less menacing to part of our reptile brains though.

In one of the first games I ever ran, I hid a Giant Centipede in a treasure chest as a Trap, and through a less-than-thorough reading of the rules, I gave it a venerable Save or Die bite. One of the inaugural D&D deaths at a game I was running occurred thanks to this critter and my lack of experience DMing (sorry about that Glom the Mighty).

Reacquainting myself with the actual rules, the venom (I notice that it’s listed Poison in OSE, probably to cut down on confusion so it dovetails with the Saving Throw category) makes you sick for 10 days, with no physical activity possible except half-speed movement. That might as well be a death sentence in certain dungeons, but I’m fond of keeping players on their toes by giving my monsters a few unanticipated tricks now and then: so the first twenty entries in this table can be used to assign your Giant Centipedes some more unfamiliar forcipule aftermaths.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Living Statue

These overlap quite a bit with other automata like Golems or gotcha! Monsters like Gargoyles, but with a few interesting differences: First each is specifically aligned, which almost seems to imply an innate conflict between them, or perhaps a legacy of their creators. Lawful Magic-Users can only create Crystal Living Statues, etc.

I almost like the idea of them not being “Created” so much but summoned and bound into a substance from another Plane where they wage and endless war between each other. Plucked out of their lives and forced to toil here, they still rigidly cling to the philosophical trappings of their former lives. Or perhaps only the Lawful/Neutral ones are ever truly desired (these seem like they’d make the best servitors/guardians after all), but the Rock Living Statues are the result of a ritual failure/corrupting force.

While immune to Sleep spells, it would seem that Crystal and Iron Living Statues could be susceptible to Charm Person and Hold Person (Rock would need Charm Monster due to its HD), as it’s not specifically called out in their Immunity as with Golems. Is this an implication of more sentience, or a weakness that leads more powerful Magic-Users/Clerics to explore true Golemcraft? They are also susceptible to attacks from non-magical weapons (although the Iron Living Statue makes this more difficult, better have some backups).

While I have occasionally used some of the Living Statues that eventually showed up in the Creature Catalog (Jade, Rock/Ooze, Silver, and Steel), I don’t believe I’ve ever followed the recommendation in the monster description to invent brand new types with more unusual materials, but I have simply “re-skinned” the stat blocks to have them serve as Antediluvian Robots, Elf Amusements, and Caryatid Columns when I didn’t have any other compatible monster books on hand. It could even be fun to recycle them as a Player character Class that gradually gains some of the more impressive powers as they advance.

Tuesday, March 10, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Hydra

One Hundred Hydra Activities! The first twenty can also be used to give your many-headed monster a little extra oomph since the mythology associated with them can sometimes make them a little bit too predictable. I tend to lean toward using them as more one-of-a-kind critters anyway.

Monday, March 9, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Gnoll

Dunsian Gnoles almost seem like they slot better as Bugbears, so I often use Gnoll statistics as a stand in for a variety of different Beast Men, sometimes even mixing-and-matching groups of theriocephallic foes in the same encounter. For the activities in the table below I’ve cleaved closer to the traditional Hyena-folk. Using them this way gives me a chance to practice unsettling laughter, and I like to draw from nature wherever possible, so I usually make their nomadic societies matriarchal.

I never was quite sure what to make of the whole Gnome/Troll magical mixture rumors, but it does smack of the kind of unreliable information one might stumble across in a tome recording the second-hand observations of an unreliable Sage. More monsters might benefit from these kinds of speculative nonsensical origins. Maybe it’s a classification built out of some odd loophole convenience or incomplete observation, like the Barnacle Goose.

Saturday, March 7, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Treant

How about an encounter table for our fire-fearing forest friend, the Treant? Just as with Dryads, it really works wonders to pair them with some kind of specific species. If you find yourself stumped, feel free to use my Fantasy Tree Generator tables. This could also potentially be useful for generating the names of individuals, come to think of it.

Friday, March 6, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Vampire

By my math, I’m now officially 33.3% through! Here’s a table for the Vampire!

Draining two-levels with a touch is something every hardened Player should fear, and it’s vital to telegraph this danger to new players. There should be plenty of stories overheard in local rathskellers about run-ins resulting in even the hardiest Veterans withering with a single touch. Thankfully, most of their folkloric weaknesses are pretty well-known and replicated in the rules.

Though they tend to make better “big bads” or long-term villains, you never know when a random roll might invite one to your table, especially if using randomly generated tombs/crypts in massive megadungeons like the Barrowmaze. Hopefully this list will help provide some additional inspiration for making these encounters more memorable!

Thursday, March 5, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Gargoyle

Rapidly encroaching on a third of the way through! I’ll celebrate with a monster I enjoy: Gargoyles.

It should go without saying to anyone familiar with them that Gargoyles can be quite a nasty encounter to spring on an unprepared party. Their stealthy camouflage among other statuary is perhaps a bit overplayed, but it’s really their immunity to non-magic weapons that can make a fight rapidly turn into flight if the adventurers lack the appropriate tools to defeat them. In some ways, they can serve as Traps/Hazards and I always give the Dwarf their due bonus in recognizing them for what they are.

Remember that they have a tongue among the canonical twenty “Other Languages,” so this almost seems to imply that they aren’t merely Constructs and possess some sort of culture. I tend to default into running them with somewhat feline tendencies for some reason, maybe it’s their propensity for ambush?

As far as their origins, I play with a few options below, but you might have more original notions. Are they hewn from stone by Magic-Users in need of territorial guardians? Perhaps Gargoyles are Elemental transients, or maybe they evolved mimesis over eons like other gotcha-dungeon-dressing monsters like Mimics? How do they reproduce? Are they particularly religious, being found near Churches and Cathedrals so often? I love monsters that make me ask questions, and sometimes it’s even more fun to leave these answers up to my players.

Here are a hundred goings on for those grimacing grotesques and hunchback hunky punks!

Wednesday, March 4, 2020

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Fish, Giant

Giant Fishes! I decided to do five tables of twenty for these ponderous piscine opponents.

Worthy of many an exaggerated tale of the one that (thankfully) got away, hopefully these will help make for more exciting crossings and travel on lakes, rivers, or even across coral covered seabeds.

Monday, March 2, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Djinni & Efreeti

Decided it might be best to combine Djinni and Efreeti since there’s quite a bit of overlap in these types of Encounters. While I always enjoy getting to flex my brain in order to warp the occasional Wish, I don’t use either of these nearly enough.

Since motivations for these Monsters are often dictated by their Masters, I’ve included a bonus 1d30 sub-table just in case you find yourself needing someone to fetter them to and some additional inspiration for what they might be up to when they deign to show themselves:

Sunday, March 1, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Hobgoblins

I’m not sure if it was the tactics and advice outlined in B2 that first made me decide to go with a more militarily focused Hobgoblin, but I’m pretty sure it was the depiction of what I suspected were Hobgoblins on the cover of that module that made me insist on orange skin and Lamellar armor. There was a paucity of color illustration to fire the imagination in those days, so like many newly-minted DMs, one gleaned whatever scraps one could from the few scattered clues.

I use them to fill the role of a brutally disciplined Chaotic force (I never saw that as a contradiction). They make for excellent soldiers and incredible generals, and many an army has fallen to their clever strategies and war-minded philosophy. Some of the decisions they make and standing orders they obey may seem unusual at first, but to the Hobgoblin these are tried and true means of achieving victory over the enemy and constant war for war’s sake. Law has a harder time finding a footing during times of strife.

Unaffected by sunlight, I don’t stick them down in Dungeons too often these days, but that’s not to say you couldn’t keep them locked away like that. I think they’re at their best when there’s a world either at war or with one a-brewing.

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