Thursday, April 30, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Thoul

Ah, Thouls. Decided to tackle these unusual Humanoids after coming across them in a conversation this morning. Splicing together abilities from Ghouls and Trolls on a Hobgoblin template always struck me as a little strange. The Regeneration is nifty, but I always envisioned Ghoul paralysis as more psychological/fear based (highlighting a fear of mortality, which is why Elfs were immune to it). So is the Thoul’s Paralysis more like a toxin they secrete (similar to the Carcass Crawler)?

They’re a strange entry for sure. Gnolls at least eventually received their “Hyena Folk” niche, but you don’t really see Thouls showing up very often after B/X and BECMI. They tend to work as another type of “Gotcha!” monster, hiding among normal Hobgoblins as a nasty surprise for your Players, but consider how well they could work seeded in a pack of ravenous Ghouls as well? That Turning attempt just won’t work on these, and while they don’t have the bite, their 2 claw is nothing to sneeze at.

I tend to treat them as fairly well integrated into Hobgoblin society for the most part, sometimes preferring them more cunning/grasping than their cousins, other times more dim-witted (with the Troll-blood addling their brains). I’ve treated them as a special bloodline, blessed by the Mother Goddess of Battle, and I’ve sometimes made them a kind of scion to a more praetoran/bodyguard order within the society due to their roles as protectors of the Hobgoblin Kings. As for the actual origins, well ever notice how close the “G” and the “T” are on a QWERTY layout keyboard? It seems obvious to me that Thouls were created by the infamous Typo-mancer Etaoin Shrdlu ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Unicorn

I tend to make Unicorns exceeding difficult to stumble across in order to preserve a sense of wonder. It’s fun to have something almost mythical even in a world with Dragons and Magic, and they’re often only inferred or intimated even when they do show up in Random Encounters. It’s very rare that the average party would meet their rigorous criteria for actually deigning to reveal themselves, but they’re extremely likely to watch the party closely. until they leave the area. Peppering descriptions with that unnerving sense of being “watched” can really ratchet up the tension in Wilderness Exploration.

I do make them somewhat of a MacGuffin. They can cure just about any ailment, including the ones with more Supernatural origins. They can restore XP lost to Level Drain, and potentially even Raise the Worthy Dead. This makes them the object of Quests and locating and convincing one to assist is a great source of Adventure.

So, on the odd chance the Characters are fortunate enough to come across one, here are one hundred Encounter Activities that might make them more interesting than just trotting around.

Tuesday, April 28, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Owl Bear

The Owl Bear has stalked dank dungeons and dark forests of D&D since Greyhawk. I tend to support the theory that its real-world inspiration may have come from another re-purposing of yet another plastic China-saur. Based on the earliest depictions, there is a pretty strong resemblance, especially that Roslof frontispiece illustration in Keep on the Borderlands.

B2 is where I would end up first pitting them against Players. After the excitement of the initial encounter, we puzzled a little bit over how something like that would work: Is it oviparous? Does it hibernate? After raiding my Birding Books, I became utterly enamored with the idea of at least some of its treasure being found in massive regurgitated, and appropriately disgusting pellets. Besting the beast is just the beginning ๐Ÿ˜Š.

You’ll find them more frequently in Forests than deep within a Dungeon in my games, even though they appear on the canon Dungeon Encounter Tables at Levels 4 through 7, which always struck me as strange. Still, I suppose it’s as good an opportunity as ever to improvise an alternate exit/entrance to one of these levels. Perhaps the poor thing fell into a deeper part of the dungeon from a pit above after a ceiling collapse? Providing these “short cuts” to lower levels is always useful and makes things far more dynamic than the more linear “the deeper we go, the more dangerous it is.”

Here are a hundred Encounter Activities that should be tailor-able to most Owl Bear encounters:

Monday, April 27, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Stirge

The Stirge! I often like to refer to them with the more mythological Strix, but I see Stirges more often. Good terms of venery include a Scourge, a Thirst, a Clot, or a Gush.

Ecologically, I make ‘em quite the grab bag. I suppose they’re technically monotremes in most of my games, they lay eggs, but nurse their young until the puggles are old enough to handle regurgitated blood. I also borrow a bit from those Potter Wasps that sometimes sculpt their dirty domes on my porch and those intriguing Swiftlets that make nests out of their own saliva. I don’t know if I’d be brave enough to try Stirge Nest Soup, but I bet it’d be a delicacy to Vampires.

Here’s a hundred Encounter Activities for the next time you want to inflict a swarm of these little bloodsuckers on an unsuspecting Party:

Saturday, April 25, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Goblin

Finally getting around to the perpetual Party menace at lower levels: Goblins.

Goblins are one of my favorite monsters (as hinted at in my Goblin Project posts). I have an extremely hard time just using them as frequent fodder due to my inordinate fondness for them, even though their one of the few Stat Blocks I’ve bothered to completely commit to memory. I definitely prefer a more folkloric, mythological take on them: Goblins as Unseelie Fair Folk, Bogey Men, mischievous Imps, but at least somewhat more corrupted by the evils of civilization than their sylvan bretheren.

A big touchstone for me is the movie the Labyrinth. Goblins come in all shapes, sizes, and even apparent clades. The only thing they have in common is their King, which can be literally anything.

Here’s one treatment I’ve used in the past: You see, no one’s every seen a Goblin being born, It’s almost like they just kind of spontaneously generate in dark, dank, and usually somewhat smelly places. Or maybe they come from orphaned Children, abandoned and unloved. Maybe they’re just the maggots that grow in the rotting wood of a dead Elf’s Grove. Without a King though (or should their King be slain), they typically function a little more like well-meaning, but not entirely helpful or competent Brownies. Until something happens that typically involves criticism of their disobliging, inconvenient, and sometimes unwarranted toil.

Should this occur, there is a Grand Feast and celebration. The Youngest Goblin is fed to the point of bursting (sometimes beyond). The Eldest will then consult the resultant regurgitation or entrails to interpret and divine the nature of their King. It could be an Old Shoe that the elder sees in the spew, or a Local Ogre, David Bowie, or even a Player Character.

Once these Goblins have Kings, a more formal society coalesces around them. Regardless of the King’s nature, if it’s sessile or stationary it will soon becomes motile, if it didn’t possess intelligence it will develop this. It will soon become Humanoid if it wasn’t before and capable of barking out orders to its subjects in flawless Goblin. Subjects who dream about Rabbits after a King’s coronation increase in in size and become Bodyguards. They become a more malignant, guided force that receives a somewhat equal footing with the other standard dungeon denizens. It’s also always tempting to use them to inject in a little comic relief, even if it’s sometimes on the darker side. I always make sure to give them something to sell.

There have been countless takes on Goblins over the years, so I’m sure I’m only adding to the noise here. But hopefully this d100 Encounter Table provides some inspiration for some undertakings above and beyond the standard “waiting around in a Guard Room” for the Players to interlope. Your Goblins deserve better than that!

Friday, April 24, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Sprite

Sprites!

Along with Dryads, Nixies and Pixies, Sprites are a definite “must have” for my more Sylvan adventures.

I noticed that the description specifies them as being at a foot tall, but I tend to vary them up (usually erring on the much, much smaller side…but I sometimes give the neglected d12 a little love every now and then to determine their height).

Sprites tend to be more likely to play out like a Hazard or Trap than a knockdown, drag out fight. The ▶ Pranksters bullet specifies that even if attacked, they’re more interested in their mischief making.

The Curse ability that every five can work together to produce can be interesting but difficult to improvise, so for this d100 table, the first thirty, italicized, entries can also be recycled with smaller dice and used as inspiration for some of the pranks they could play on your Players. The flavor I prefer for portraying the Fair Folk usually entails their magical powers being boundless in scope. I find them much more fun and “Fairy Tale-like” when they break “the rules” so to speak. It also helps Players develop a healthy respect and sometimes even a grudging admiration for creatures so otherworldly, fickle, and ancient.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Gorgon

Today we have a hundred activities for the Gorgon. I remember being a bit puzzled by the presence of both Medusae and Gorgons as a lad who had voraciously devoured Bulfinch's at a tender age, but now I don’t mind them as a distinctive “D&D-ism,” a quaint combination of Catoblepas and the Khalkotauroi perhaps.

During early days, after exhausting the more common literary authorities, many monsters were strip-mined from whatever sources one could lay their paws on (the Rust Monster, Bulette, and Owlbear “Chinasaurs” being another excellent example of this), and the point of origin for this one could very well be the Bestiary pictured below:

The existence of a Save category for Petrification seems to drive the special abilities of several Monsters, but I do occasionally enjoy working them in together as a thematic motif. Plus, it’s always a bonus when a Player’s stumble across one of those “extremely lifelike” statues that seem to dot fantasy landscapes and aren’t quite sure if it was Basilisk, Cockatrice, Medusa, Gorgon, a powerful Wizard, or even potentially something more “gotcha” like a Gargoyle, Living Statue, or a lonely Caryatid Column (I always picture those in pairs for some strange reason).

See some of the other stone-to-flesh critters above for more information on how to handle their Petrification abilities in novel ways.

Wednesday, April 22, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Mummy

More Undead Undertakings! This time we take a stab at the Mummy. Their frightening presence is formidable, as is the mystical ailment they inflict. Does this profane disease sever one’s connections to the Divine in order to halt all Magical Healing? I think this is mostly inspired by the fabled Curse unleashed with the opening of King Tutankhamun's Tomb, but the rotting flavor imparted is pretty juicy and dire for ratcheting up tension as Characters race for some kind of mystical cure. If you want to really make them squirm, don't settle for a simple Cure Disease Spell ๐Ÿ˜Š.

To me, mummification rituals almost always seem to imply an ancient, antediluvian culture with very particular burial practices and concepts of the afterlife. This can unleash all sorts of forgotten Languages, Foul Magics, and Tainted Technologies of course, and more than once I’ve made all my Mummies reptilian remnants of that aforementioned Saurian Civilization. The appearance of the Mummy is easily re-skinned, and any sufficiently large Mummy’s Tomb is going to also have all sorts of Mummified (and even maybe Animate) animals. If you’re feeling particularly wicked about their intrusion, you can even just use the same statistics for these.

I stumbled across some very flavorful Egyptian/Mesopotamian/Grecian Spells that I like to sprinkle among their Grave Goods, or even house within their hollow heads. Sadly, the blog was deleted so all we have are artifacts preserved in the Internet Archive’s cache.

Another type of Mummy I often like to employ are the taut and tannin stained Bog Born, replete with garroted necks and bound, gnarled hands. A great change of pace from your typical linen wrapped Lurchers, their touch usually inflicts a more desiccating disease, and their often-found leading powerful Druid cabals, etc.

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Sea Serpent (Lesser)

Another critter that doesn’t seem to have survived the transition to BECMI from B/X: The Lesser Sea Serpent.

For me, there’s more than a little cognitive overlap between these and Sea Dragons (although the Serpents don’t have Breath, Gliding, or Spells by default), but I’m more inclined to populate the waves with Sea Serpentsrather then their Draconic counterparts (I’ve already professed my love for Dragon Turtles, and they really handle that “Aquatic Dragon” niche nicely). I suppose the Sea Dragon could make for a nice change of pace to break with player expectations.

I tend to vary my Sea Serpents greatly in appearance and tactics, but the basic Stat Block is serviceable for most. Giving them an unexpected feature (horns, a sting, electricity, etc) can make for a nice surprise occasionally. It might even be fun to have their coils contain some kind of valuable or special substance and have them hunted by foolhardy Serpenteers. Perhaps this is where all that Dungeon Lantern Lamp Oil comes from?

Of course, the tantalizing implication is that since this is only the Lesser, something even more menacing might be waiting for your Players ‘neath the foreboding foam ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Monday, April 20, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Troglodyte

Today’s table is for Troglodytes. I usually use these malodorous Monsters in dungeons and deep underground caverns (with their relatives, the Lizard Man more likely to be found in Swamps and on the surface). I’ve always enjoyed the trope of a once great and powerful Saurian Civilization where Lizard-based lifeforms ruled the world, and these creatures can represent the degenerate remnants of these once mighty kingdoms (along with Ophidians, Naga, and of course the various Dinosaurs).

Should you need some inspiration for describing the pungent bouquet brought about by their musky secretions, I highly recommend giving a glance to the Bad and Ugly columns of my Three Hundred Smells & Scents table.

Saturday, April 18, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Golem

Golems! While a few of my favorites are conspicuously absent from the source (I’m particularly fond of the Clay, Flesh, and Stone ones), here are four tables to cover the ones that ended up making the cut: The feline Amber Golems, Cleric-fooling Bone Golems, Bronze Golems with their burning blood, and the rather crude, but almost pitiable Wood Golems.

There’s always room for a few more here, and it looks like the others might darken our corridors in the upcoming OSE Advanced Fantasy Monsters supplement!

Friday, April 17, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Shadow

With this entry, we’ve slinked past sixty percent!

Shadows share some pretty outrageous Surprise chances with another Monster I’m puzzling over how to handle (the Invisible Stalker), but on the odd chance they you don’t simply spring them on the players, this might provide some inspiration for what these quizzical creatures are up to. They may be most often observed shedding their stealthiness to attack something or someone else.

In this version of the game, they’re not yet consolidated or classified by creature clade as Undead, and this could serve as a rude awakening to some given the traits they share (Incorporeality, Ability Drain, Spell Immunity). I’ve always personally preferred to play them up as something extra-planar or extraordinarily strange:

  • Elemental Darkness (I wonder what kind of special Summoning Device they use?)
  • Unfettered Vampire Reflections (a bit too close to Undead for my liking but still intriguing)
  • Life-starved, Famished Shards of The Elf Psyhopomp (or how they’re playfully portrayed in Peter Pan if you prefer)
  • Primal Childhood Fears Manifest (we were right to be scared of the Dark)
  • Or simply something else, shrouded in mystery and deliciously unknowable (they spontaneously generate in atramentous nether found only in the Mythic Underworld)

Whichever way you decide to interpret them, they’re sure to strike fear in the heart of the hardiest Fighter as they watch their sacred Strength shrink away with each successive strike!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Noble

As a campaign moves out of the Dungeon Exploration Tier, Nobles can serve as powerful patrons or formidable foils. This table might be useful to add a little courtly intrigue or political background noise to a local kingdom. It could even be worth revisiting if characters make it all the way to the Domain/Stronghold stage to add some color or complications.

This entry brings up a house rule that seems worth mentioning: Social Status. When the seventh 3d6 in order is rolled for Character Generation (the one that is typically multiplied by ten for coin), one can use this almost as an Ability Score or Rating to roughly gauge what station or social standing for a character. “High rollers” on this bell-curve could even be of Noble birth (and you could roll on this table to see what sort of things their family is getting up to). Ages ago, I mapped the results from this roll onto a matrix for all the Classes to provide some optional “archetypes” as well, perhaps I’ll revisit that table someday.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Rat

Rats are a staple set dressing. I’ll place the odd scurrying rodent as a bit of Dungeon flavor every few turns sometimes just to keep everyone on their toes (gives me something to do when the Wandering Monster dice are being frustratingly fickle), and who can forget the hackneyed hook of “The Tavern Keeper saw some Big Rats in the cellar” for a newly assembled party to investigate?

Here are three d30 tables, one that applies agnostically to All Rats, and one each for the two specific types.

I’d like to do a table of Deadly Disease to conjugate with these, even if that’s usually the fault of their hitchhiking Fleas ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Wolf

Decided to fill in some of the glaring gaps highlighted by yesterday’s entry. I didn’t even have some of the animals complete before tackling their Lycanthropic counterparts!

Now for Wolves. With only two sub-entries I struggled a bit with how to make this one work. Two d30 Tables didn’t seem like enough: maybe I could add another table for pelage/coat colors? Prey items? Some handy dandy “Wolf Vocalizations” for foreshadowing? In the end I decided to just go whole hog.

So, for this single Monster Entry, you get two d100 Tables. One for Dire Wolves, and another for their Normal cousins. I decided both deserved their due, as Wolves are a common encounter, and Dire Wolves differ just enough in habit and character to merit their own entries. The Dire Wolf seems to be serving as stand-ins for the Worg given their Goblin associations, and for a treat, I’ll occasionally go ahead and grant them surprisingly coherent and eloquent speech (think of Gmork from the Never-Ending Story).

Without further ado, here are the tables, lovingly tendered for your kind perusal ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Monday, April 13, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Lycanthrope

Ah Lycanthropes… I was a little unsure of how to approach these without duplicating a ton of effort. Each one has an animal form that roughly maps out to an existing or soon to come Encounter Activity Table, and this can handily be used for “what they’re up to” in this mien (Boars, Bears, Rat, Cat, Great, Wolf, etc.).

Additionally, one could also crib from one of the “Human” Encounter Activity Tables to generate bipedal undertakings. Some are good fits, like Bandit for Wererat, or Berserker for Boar, others might be a little more subjective or need seasoning to taste, I like my Devil Swine as “Nobles” for instance, but Merchants/Traders could easily work as well. There's nothing that says you couldn't use Dervishes, Acolytes, Mediums, Brigands, or even Buccaneers for this purpose for any of them though and that could even make for some surprising and compelling combinations.

Similar to the Doppelgรคnger, these Monsters are “more than they seem at first glance,” so instead of just giving them more “things to be doing” on top of the existing tables, I decided to go with some tables that can be utilized by a GM to help hint at their unusual nature when encountered as an NPC. These “tells” might help betray the situation somewhat, and canny Players could pick up on them and deserve to feel extremely pleased with themselves if/when their suspicions don’t go unfounded.

This brings up an interesting digression about creatures like this: for ages, Players have been conditioned to adopt a healthy Paranoia when it comes to certain suspicious encounters. If every helpless, comely lass ends up being duplicitous, I really can’t blame them, so it’s much better to sparingly sprinkle encounters like this and lean on that lovely Reaction Roll more often than not. Werebears, Weretigers. and Wereboars aren’t inherently Chaotic and can be more compelling as a sympathetic or friendly encounter (I could have sworn that Werebears were Lawful, but I may just be misremembering an artifact from Holmes). I usually extend this to the occasional Wererat or Werewolf in Human form as well (it doesn’t help conceal one’s true nature if uncouth behavior like immediately attacking betrays you). Devil Swine are of course the exception, and are just terrifically evil and terrifying (get a load of those HD!) enough to make much better longer term villains (like Vampires, or the aforementioned Doppelgรคngers), pulling the strings with the aid of several charmed thralls (given enough lead time, potentially subjugating an entire Village or Town to their wicked whims!).

It’s always wise to be tread carefully in order to avoid squandering what could be a delicious reveal with these wonderful Monsters ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Rust Monster

Rust Monsters remain one of my favorite foes, even after all these years. One even managed to make an appearance during my Gygax Memorial Session Transcripts. A wonderful mascot for the older style of play if there ever was one.

Being absolutely obsessed with Dinosaurs as a child, I would often beg my parents for those inexpensive bags of plastic toys in the Grocery Store (always frustratingly placed in an aisle opposite the cereal!), so I had a few of the affectionately nicknamed “China-saur” molds for these (as well as the [redacted], or Landshark). Years later when I started playing D&D, I was surprised to see them show back up in my life. They’re probably still in thier milkcrate, gathering dust on a closet shelf somewhere.

These guys are a great gauge of Player Knowledge versus Character Knowledge, but these days I’m sure every Tavern patron has heard tales of Adventurers descending into dungeons fully armored, only to return girded solely in their padded gambesons, wielding chair-legs with frowns on their faces. It is still nice when the occasional opportunity to spring one on a tenderfoot presents itself.

These Monsters attack combat resources directly, significantly hindering further exploration or advancement, so I like to use them sparingly. Their ability to erode even Magical Weapons makes them feared at nearly every tier (nothing like a Name Level Fighter quivering in their Enchanted Boots as what basically amounts to a big bug flickering feathery antennae at them). I must have either never noticed or ignored their mundane damage immunity in the past, as I think they’re rough enough as is honestly. Plus, I like to encourage Player improvisation for dealing with them (hope you brought a wooden Club!).

Friday, April 10, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Medium

Ever found yourself in need of some quick inspiration of what a first-level Magic-User is up to? Here’s a hundred for Encounter Activities for Mediums!

Along with the already completed Acolytes, these are another encounter based on a Character Class (using the mostly vestigial Level Titles that are long overdue for a comeback). Both can serve as a suitable stand-in for Cultists or other more mystical dungeon delvers.

I suppose one could conceivably cobble together a complete NPC Party out of these Monster’s entries (there doesn’t appear to be an Apprentice Thief, so I suppose Bandit could be used in a pinch), and if one were to combine all the results from each of the different tables, the end product might just be as discordant and chaotic as the average party of Player Characters with conflicting goals and schemes ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Elephant

Here we have a d100 Encounter Activity Table for Elephants, yet another one of the real-world animals present in the Monster List in B/X and OSE.

As with Camels previously, possessing this many ways to embellish your Player's brushes with Pachyderms may only be situationally serviceable, but it might see some use in certain campaigns.

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Camel

Trekking back to close a glaring gap towards the beginning of the alphabet to bring you… Camels.

I have no earthly idea who might eventually find themselves yearning for a hundred different activities for these irascible beasts of burden, but they’re on the Monster list, so out of a sense of completion, here we are ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Here’s a fun mnemonic device for remembering the names of the two types of Camels: Bactrian and Dromedary. Simply rotate the first letter sideways counterclockwise (forming a แ—ถ or แ—) and that will tell you the humps the Camel has.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Halfling

I must admit to a slight and persistent bias against Halflings. I usually remove or replace them as a Character Class and potential Encounter in most of my games because they connote far too much Tolkien tang for my liking. The folklore associated with them is frightfully young and therefore a staggeringly sparse seam to mine for mythological touchstones. Elfs, Dwarfs, and Gnomes are so much more mythologically fertile, and don’t really have the issues associated with a being pigeonholed by and derived from a solitary source.

If I had my druthers, I’d take a cue from others and remix them utterly in order to find them a more interesting niche. Oh wait, I do and have! ๐Ÿ˜Š

Over the years, I’ve recast them as Ageless Orphans, Faerie Goblins, furtive Froglings, and even Hedgehog-folk. They’ve played the part of a fierce Chameleonic fighting force, bonded at birth to Giant Lizards. I’ve even rendered them as cave-blinded doomsday zealots, worshiping Medusรฆ and capable of an uncanny, statuesque motionlessness. If only it didn’t step on Gnome-toes as much, they’d maybe make for decent Bluecaps or Brownies.

But I’m sure others don’t have these pesky concerns, so here’s one hundred Halfling activities. I’ve tried to cleave to the campestral and underscore the bucolic overtones somewhat for the broadest possible utility.

Monday, April 6, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Gnome

It’s been quite a while since we’ve done a Demi-human. Here are d100 Encounter Activities for the Gnome.

I fondly recall repeatedly borrowing the Huygen/Poortvliet book from a local library as a lad (the stacks also had a similar one about Giants, and of course the Froud Faerie Book). I made sure to locate a copy once I was a little older, and it still sits on the shelf next to the other, similarly sized tomes of this nature.

So for me, Gnomes are somewhat inseparable from the conical capped, friendly folk of the woods portrayed so lovingly in that volume. They bridge the conceptual gap between our dour subterranean Dwarfs and those flighty sylvan Elfs. I’ve always absolutely adored their ability to speak with burrowing mammals (anything that puts Speech on the list of interactions with an otherwise predictable animal Encounter gets an A+ from me). I have a player in my recent games that decided to roll up a Gnome, so they’ve been showing up a bit more than usual lately. I’m still a bit undecided on their spell casting, but I’m sorely tempted to fold it into Magical Plants and Herbs wherever possible, illusions are just hallucinations after all... ๐Ÿ˜Š

I know that later lore attempts to justify the Kobold/Gnome antagonism via prankster deities and such, but I’ve always boiled it down to competing for similar niches. “Normally Attack on sight” is typically only interesting the first few times, so I’d be more inclined to just heavily modify Reaction Rolls on the admittedly off-chance that some kind of uneasy-for-both-parties cooperation could be reached, but that’s probably just my inordinate fondness for classic Kobolds showing.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Snake

I was a bit torn with Snakes since they are such a great and surprisingly common encounter. Since there were five entries, I was originally planning on just a d20 table apiece, but I got a little carried away and was able to expand this to thirty (so this Monster gets a total of 150 entries). Sadly, this does mean spanning a spread, but I’ll deal with that when I get around to doing a “real” layout when I compile these entries.

Seeing all these Save or Dies definitely had me entertaining ideas for that d100 Table of Unusual Venoms once more ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Shrew, Giant

Just how big is a Giant Shrew anyway? After scouring several sources, I couldn’t come up with anything definitive. After discussing this on discord, we arrived at a consensus of somewhere between one and three feet long, roughly the size I picture for a Giant Rat.

So next time rookie Players are confronted with that hackneyed old “Big Rats in the Cellar” hook, they might be in for a terrifying surprise… Giant Shrews are nothing to sneeze at mechanically: Two d6 Bite Attacks (the first always winning initiative, and the second getting a +1 bonus), a devastating Save or Skedaddle effect (even a so-called Swordmaster of 3 HD shakes in their boots), a Morale of 10 (TEN!), and Echolocation allowing them to take full advantage of the cover of darkness. As pointed out in discord: That’s a whole lot of trouble for a measly 10 XP (and zilch in the Treasure Type) in OSE.

Deinogalerix was first described in 1972

I don’t know if it was just out of an abundance of caution, or lack of inspiration that has prevented me from using Giant Shrews very often, but after doing this deep dive, I’m pretty sure they’ll show up on more of my Encounter Tables. I love it when players underestimate a foe, and these are a prime candidate for that. Must remember to pepper some Tavern Tales/Rumor Tables with stories of near-Heroes, now humiliated from ingloriously turning tail after stirring up a nest of these brutal beasts!

Friday, April 3, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Spider, Giant

With this entry, we reach a few milestones! We’re over halfway through the Monsters in OSE (seventy down, sixty-eight more to go)! Also, here we have our first “pun monster.”

Giant Spiders make great dungeons denizens. Their webbing makes for delightful decoration, and they’re a dead-simple way to slightly squick out most people due to their alien nature (too many eyes, too many legs, inscrutable goals, etc).

As I’ve admonished before, should you find yourself playing with someone who is genuinely terrified of them, they can easily be edited out and avoided completely. They’re hardly essential monsters and it really doesn’t serve the spirit of fun to intentionally play upon a Player’s phobias. I know I’d immediately leave any table with a Referee this petty and pointlessly cruel. If a Player looks uncomfortable, it never hurts to stop and ask them if they are okay. You’re game will be better for it.

That being said, I do personally love Spiders. Like Ghouls, they’re excellent “teaching monsters” and Crab Spiders even give your Players a slight boost to their Save versus Poison and potentially a few frantic turns to come up with an antidote. No one wants to be bitten by a Spider, so there’s usually a little caution when encountering them, which is essential to telegraph for this hardier style of play.

I don’t think I’ve ever used a Tarantella, but I love little artifacts like these. Of course, they’re based on the misconception of Tarantism, where it was thought a Wolf Spider’s bite and venom induced manic dancing in the victim. Outbreaks of dancing plagues were surprisingly common it seems, so be sure to add the old St. Vitus Shuffle to your Town Events tables ๐Ÿ˜Š.

Instead of Tarantula, the monster is named after those fast folk dances. I believe this is the first “word play” monster that I’ve made it to so far, and so naturally I couldn’t help but lean a little bit into to the silly with it to celebrate. The contagious effect a single failed Save could have on onlookers are surprisingly terrifying though and could easily take out an entire Adventuring Party. While the dance can last for up to a dozen turns (2 hours), according to the rules the dancers collapse after five. What an ignominious yet humorous way to accidentally arrange a TPK.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Lizard, Giant

Continuing the theme of “Giant” week, here are the Giant Lizards in OSE and B/X (the Rules Cyclopedia contains the same beasts, and only really adds their load and Barding Multiplier). They all make for interesting mounts honestly, imagine Blowgun bearing Hobgoblins astride soaring Dracos, Second-story Gnomes strapped to the backs of their vertical Geckos, an Illusionist and her faithful Horned Chameleon, or a battle hardened War Tuatara with a special spine accommodating saddle.

I’ve run campaigns where Horses didn’t exist, and Giant Lizards were the primary draft animal and transportation, so these stat-blocks saw considerable use. They’re ripe for re-skin as well: who doesn’t want Giant Venomous Gila Monsters strutting about, shell-armored Merfolk mounted on massive Marine Iguana, or Dwarf-trained gold seam-seeking super Skinks?

I was undoubtedly inspired by this iconic David Sutherland illustration from Holmes

Like many, my childhood fascination with Dinosaurs extended to the closest living relative I could clap my eyes on (this was well before the Avian Dinosaur debate was included in the books I read). I fondly recall those big brown lizards with brilliant blue belly stripes that sunned themselves on our fence, doing the occasional push-up. I remember the alarming effect of getting squirted with eye-blood (and being admonished for ruining a brand-new shirt) from picking up a startled Horny Toad. Later, when I’d visit more tropical regions, I’d chase after brilliant chartreuse Anoles with their Fly Agaric-themed dewlaps.

To this day, I still have to strongly resist that ingrained urge of “See Lizard! Grab Lizard!” when I spot one sunning itself on my walks. Lizards are just so lovely.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Leech, Giant

There’s something primal about the generally universal revulsion to Leeches. The facial expressions of most people immediately shift to disgust just thinking about them. I don’t think my Players will ever forgive me for the several sessions they were forced to spend traipsing about Swamps, where these slimy bloodsuckers (both in their Small and Giant forms) made for frequent encounters.

Blood-loss as HP damage is generally an acceptable way to handle it, but I tend to sometimes prefer to have them attack Ability Scores directly (usually Constitution, but Strength could also work if those sneaky Shadows hadn’t already secured that niche). I’ve always been a little less rigid with the “Must Be Killed” before detaching rule and encourage the kind of frantic creativity that comes from disgusted Players. Keep in mind other methods may cause the Leech to vomit up their stomach contents, which could be (should be ๐Ÿ˜Š?) rife with all sorts of prepossessing parasites or delightful diseases.

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