Friday, May 29, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Normal Human

Decided to change things up a bit when I rolled Normal Human for the next Monster. Being a relatively “Normal” Human, I typically do not have as much trouble improvising what people are doing.

Usually, I handle this type of Encounter with Tables that are more tied to place types or potential hooks. I realized that I’ve already done these with posts like my These Village Folk Are… and These City-Dwellers Are… d100 Tables, so I wanted something that might help flesh these Encounters out in slightly different way.

I have professed my love for Professions previously and I was struck by this quote from the Normal Human entry in the OSE SRD:

Non-adventuring humans without a character class. Artists, beggars, children, craftspeople, farmers, fishermen, housewives, scholars, slaves.

So, I went a little overboard. Here are three-hundred various Vocations to apply to that Normal Human Encounter. First column in each set is a geared to be a little more Urban, second is Rural, and the third is kind of a catch-all. There is probably some additional utility in this table for Character Backgrounds or prior Occupations for Retainers/Henchmen if you so desire, and I always find these types of tables extra-handy for more unusual uses, like determining the function of a particular Building in a Settlement/City on the fly.

But wait, there’s more! As a spread, I’ve also included some tentatively titled “Mannerisms & Peculiarities” to help the DM breathe a little more life into these types of Encounters. Two hundred seemed like a good start. I know that Lists of NPC Personality Quirks are a dime-a-dozen, but with these I tried to focus a little more the traits that I felt might be more inclined to drive play in a memorable or at least more interesting direction. It also made sense to have something like this handy and adjacent to this Entry.

I will probably include the two City/Village tables above in a spread for the final compiled version of these Tables as well 😊. Only twenty-one more to go!

Thursday, May 28, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Rock Baboon

The Rock Baboon!

Aside from appearing on a few Dungeon/Wilderness Encounter tables (and interestingly: the Neutral Reincarnation Results table!), I don’t think I’ve ever really seen these utilized in an especially memorable way. Hopefully, that will change with this table handy 😊.

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Herd Animal

Herd Animals may serve largely as set dressing most of the time (until an inadvertent Stampede is triggered), but these tables might also be useful for intrepid Adventurers who would like to take up Hunting to supplement those bland and flavorless Rations when travelling in the Wilderness. Someday I may even do some Hunting/Foraging d100 Tables (possibly even split up by Terrain type like I do with my Wilderness Hexes) to help expand on this, as I could see the utility of having a handy tool to quickly generate game and quarry.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Insect Swarm

Insect Swarms! Reacquainting myself with how they work, these are pretty interesting Encounters. Automatic damage within an area (no Save) is fairly unusual, and I like how they largely ignore the type of Armor and just turn it into a binary “with do 2, without do 4.” The “swatting out” mechanism is also nice. I can see recycling this for all sorts of other Hazards, like entering a burning building and so forth.

Speaking of Swarms: Every year, I try to make a point to note the date that I hear the first sputterings of the Cicadas we get around here. So far, they’re running a little late, but this might be due to inimical weather. Thankfully, we’re out of the range of the coming Prime-Number (and super sinister sounding) Brood IX, but I’ve lived in areas when particularly big broods have peeked out before. What is always strange to me is how the Cicadas from different regions have almost distinctive accents. The ones I heard further North were almost more annoying (even though they were significantly less loud), just because they didn’t have the familiarity I grew up with.

Here are 3d30 Tables to cover the different modes of locomotion for this multitudinous monster:

Friday, May 22, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Shrieker

Like the previous entry on Oozes, Puddings, Slimes I’ve always treated Shriekers as more of a “Dungeon Hazard” than a traditional Monster. Even though they are ostensibly motile, they don’t seem to show up on most Encounter Tables, which is a real shame. Rolling one could be a great way to just have them randomly blare from another area and help telegraph their presence better.

If you stock one of your dungeon rooms with Shriekers, consider having them go off periodically to introduce a more dynamic auditory element to Exploration (I’m a big proponent of adding more Sounds and Smells to dungeons at every opportunity). Depending on their proliferation, some potential triggers include doubles being rolled, tying it to a number on the Wandering Monster check, or even when a certain somewhat uncommon secret word is said at the table (almost Γ  la Pee-Wee’s Playhouse). The latter is pretty fun honestly and can engender a good-natured startle for tension. In the past I’ve kept a Kazoo or tintannabulating Egg Timer handy for just this purpose. 😊

Thursday, May 21, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Pirate

I always enjoy a good Wave Crawl!

Pirates share some of the same headspace for me as Buccaneers which were one of the early Entries in this series. Since I resisted the temptation to revisit and retread those specific waters, forgive me if there’s some similarities in this table. It’s bound to happen after hundreds of these.

These entries may cleave toward the Nautical for the most utility, so some strategic re-mixing might be necessary on-the-fly if your Pirates ply Rivers or other Waterways, but for me, the on-the-fly adjustment is part of the fun! 😊

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Medusa

Gazing back at me this entire time has been a foe I’m pretty partial to: the Majestic Medusa. My impatience to tackle this one finally got the better of me, so here we are. I unabashedly adore the more Mythological Monsters.

There’s something almost intrinsically voyeuristic about writing Entries for a Medusa, since they’re likely only witnessed via peeping on a reflection by prepared Players (don’t forget to buy that Mirror!). Though I sometimes soften this a bit…rationalizing that it is meeting the glowering GAZE or seeing the (invariably pulchritudinous) FACE that petrifies, not simply clapping eyes on them.

But by the book, it’s an interesting dilemma: What is the unwatched doing when they can’t be watched? 😊 In this case the act of watching (unaided by reflection) almost certainly influences the viewer rather than the viewed in some strange evil twin of the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle. SchrΓΆdinger’s gassed grimalkin aside, here are one hundred entries for one my personal favorites:

As mentioned in the prior entries for the Cockatrice, Basilisk, and Gorgons there may be more interesting ways than simply “Save or Statue” to handle Petrification, and that might be helpful here as well.

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Nomad

Here’s a d100 Encounter Activities Table for Nomads.

As another somewhat region dependent encounter, this might take some strategic seasoning (Desert and Steppe are specified in the description, but I’d just as soon have them show up in all climates/terrains to be honest). I love the opportunity they create to introduce new Languages, Cultures, Crafts, and even Livestock to a game, so I tend to look forward to the times when the oracular Reaction Roll lands on the less Hostile side.

Like some of the other Entries for Human Groups, Nomads have the “nothing to sneeze at” Treasure Type A Hoards in their “Lair” or Camp. Unlike Merchants however, there is no admonishment to reduce the Treasure for lower numbers. I do remember reading somewhere that turning to Banditry and robbing from the Human Sub-Table Encounters was actually a much safer strategy than Dungeon Delving in terms of risk/reward, but that has never really emerged organically in play at any of my tables. Besides, I’d likely not have most of this sort of “treasure” be easy coin, and selling stolen goods is sure to attract attention eventually.

Probably explains the Bandit encounter frequency though 😊.

Monday, May 18, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Killer Bee

Beware the Killer Bees and their tempting Healing Honey! If the Poison doesn't get you then the persistent point of damage just might.

If you have access to a patch of land for planting, consider seeding it with local Flowers to support the native Bee population in your area! Building an Air-Bee-N-Bee can even be a fun project! Our pollinators are precious.

Saturday, May 16, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Tyrannosaurus Rex

I simply can’t think of a more perfect capstone for Lost World Week: The tremendous and terrifying Tyrannosaurus Rex!

Friday, May 15, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Mastodon

Mastodons! Even now I often conflate them with Woolly Mammoths, and I suppose this table could be serviceable for both. As with most of the prehistoric megafauna, when inserted into a fantasy world, they become good candidates for mounts/draft animals, and with their 2 x tusk (2d6) doubling damage on a Charge, I’d steer clear of any army that employees a Mastodon Mahout cavalry for sure.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Triceratops

I have found uses for Triceratops a lot in non-Lost World contexts. They make excellent siege machines for Dwarfs/Orcs/Nomads and it doesn’t hurt that Ceratopsids come in all sorts of intriguing configurations. I was always especially smitten with the spiny-frilled Styracosaurus and have a soft spot for the sheep-sized Protoceratops as well.

This leads me to think a bit about the names of things. It would be unusual for most fantasy worlds to name things with Real-World Greek/Latin roots words, so I imagine they would develop their own naming conventions for Dinosaurs and so forth. I like giving things “common names.” Stegosaurus becomes a “Roof-back” (or maybe “Ridge Back” or “Flail Tail” but I’d likely reserve that for Ankylosaurus), Dimetrodons are “Sail Backs,” I think “Three Horn” is a suitable stand-in for Triceratops. Even the Titanothere Megacerops could go by “Yorns” (a linguistic merging of “Y” and “Horn”). I am still musing over a good stand-in name for Tyrannosaurus Rex though. 😊

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Pterosaur

Soaring Pterosaurs are almost essential to set the tone in any Lost World adventure, but I didn’t realize that this was another sneaky “dual” entry until I got around to this listing. Pteranadons are definitely the bigger threat to PCs (and would also make very interesting mounts in certain campaigns), but I am rather fond of the “Sky Kobold-ness” of the Pterodactyl. That’s a nifty stat block for a quick re-skin to render all manner of small Bird-folk.

I’ve always been super intrigued by some of the speculative anatomy/appearance that artists generate and imagine for these types of creatures, and what Wizard wouldn’t want an adorable Dimorphodon familiar?

Here are three d30 tables to help utilize these Monsters in Random Encounters or Prep:

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Titanothere

Titatontheres (perhaps more accurate termed Brontotheres) are another of the Lost World critters found in B/X and OSE. Huge, and travelling in large herds, hopefully they only come across as some set dressing and the Characters give them wide berth, as their 3d8 Trampling attack (+4 to hit) is nothing to sneeze at.

According to the fossil record, they came with all sorts of interesting horns and snout-decorations. As a child I always preferred the dual pronged Megacerops, but feel free to get creative and mix it up. Since they are distant relatives to Horses, I can see them serving almost a similar role for larger Humanoids in primitive settings.

Monday, May 11, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Stegosaurus

As a child, I was utterly fascinated by Dinosaurs. I had numerous Dinosaur toys, Dinosaur bedding, and nearly every birthday cake for several years prominently featured some kind of generic Sauropod (I remember always laying claim to the “head” for some strange reason). Even today, I still find myself occasionally doodling them in idle moments. 😊

Here is another d100 Table of Encounter Activities for the Stegosaurus for what I’m tentatively theming as “Lost World Week.” Not all of these Monsters show up at every table, but the implication of having Dinosaurs simply exist as another type of Draft Animal or Domesticated Beast is still a little thrilling after all these years.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Neanderthal (Caveman)

Neanderthals! In older versions of the game, these were much more frequently found on Encounter Tables (the “Lost World” theme was apparently a pretty popular way to populate things). I find it intriguing that they are Lawful in alignment.

This might be the start of another theme week, seeing as how I have quite a few of the “Lost World” Monsters still resting in the pile (all of the Dinosaurs for instance). Those might be a little trickier, because there’s not a lot of concrete information about “real world” behaviors to build on, but I’m sure I’ll make do with imagining things 😊.

Friday, May 8, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Griffon

Monster one-hundred-and-one is the dreaded Dalmatian! Just kidding, it’s the Griffon:

Thursday, May 7, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Trolls

With this entry, I believe we have reached ONE HUNDRED of the OSE Monsters! What better way to celebrate this milestone than with one of the foes that has been with us since the very beginning: The terrible Troll!

Mythological Trolls have interested me ever since I was incredibly young and came across an unusual book about them. It took me ages to track it down, but after several fruitless searches, a ton of blind online buys based on title alone, and a few decades later, I can confidently now say it was the one pictured here.

The book is a compilation of several stories, and surprisingly even features an excerpt from the Fellowship of the Ring that I was definitely unaware of at the time. I had only hazy memories of a particular illustration or two within it, so it is quite miraculous that I managed to definitively track it down.

While nowadays I have a soft spot for Trolls of the more Scandinavian/Norse Fairy Tale variety (particularly the Theodor Kittelsen variety and the cow-tailed Hulder as classic “gotcha monster”), I am still quite fond of the traditional D&D Troll. Usually green, tall and spindly, with that distinctive cuspated nose, I am sure that their Regeneration power has led to many a teachable moment at tables, so much so that it has nearly entered common knowledge. I occasionally still get to surprise new players with them and watch them scramble to try and figure out one of their weaknesses, but these times are now, almost tragically, much fewer and far between.

Wednesday, May 6, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Trader

The Party is laden with lucre from their forays into a dismal Dungeon when who should they see smiling in the sun as they surface but a convenient Trader!

I love it when these itinerant tycoons show up on Random Encounters, and this table will hopefully provide some inspiration on what they are up to.

In terms of wares the Basic Fantasy Equipment Emporium is very useful for some additional ideas for Trade Goods/more unusual item prices. I tend to re-purpose the trusty Reaction Roll table a lot in my games, and it makes a handy haggling subsystem too:

2d6Result
2 or lessRefuses to deal (packs up and leaves)
3-5Insulted: Increase prices by 50%
6-8Prices normal
9-11Decrease prices by 25%
12 or moreImpressed: Decrease prices by 50%

Naturally, you can feel free to adjust prices however you see fit based on other extenuating market factors, but this can make for a quick way to spice up transactions.

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Wraith

Clawing our way ever closer to one hundred entries, here is a d100 Table for the dreaded Wraith!

I believe this may be our first of the incorporeal Undead, and like the Wight, these are feared by Players for their experience-sucking draining touch. I often use these to fill the vengeful Ghost niche and have a marked tendency to tie them to a particular place or item out of habit. It can be fun to flex creativity on the spookier side of things sometimes.

Might be useful to add a little more flavor/set dressing for those of you brewing up something with Barrowmaze:

Monday, May 4, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Roc

The Roc! One of the tragically few Lawful monsters we find in B/X and OSE. I often wonder if the alignment a vestigial Tolkien “Giant Eagle” thing, or are they also extremely principled in other sources?

There’s not a lot of information to infer scale from the terse descriptions, but with the Giant Roc having 36(!) HD, on a casual glance the only other Monster that matches it in sheer number of required d8s seems to be the Sperm Whale.

So, without hard-and-fast measurements to be found, we are given quite a bit of freedom here. I tend to define the Roc by the size of the things they can Swoop and snatch, so a “Small” one can carry away something roughly Human-sized or smaller, “Large” ones could grab a Horse/Ogre, and the truly “Giant” ones…well they can get as big as you need really. You could have an entire adventure take place on the back of one (like a Dragon Turtle almost). I make Rocs of this stupendous size very rare indeed, roosting on only the tallest peaks (maybe 1-2 per continent), and everyone for miles around would know/be aware of their flights across the land hunting for prodigious prey (the aforementioned Whales, Purple Worms, or other suitably sized creatures). I prefer them impossibly huge: an Enormous Eggshell could serve as the domed roof of a Strange City, their Titanic Talons responsible for gouging Great Canyons, one of their Behemothic Pinions are large enough to serve as a Deity’s Quill, etc. Playing with scale can be fun sometimes and really helps to evoke a sense of wonder when Monsters are reduced to just foes to be defeated.

Here’s some Encounter Activities for each Size should they show up in your games:

Saturday, May 2, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Warp Beast

What is it about those Warp Beasts? Is it their hexapod body-type, their lashing tentacles, or their light-bending hide? Melanistic Panthers have always been one of my favorites of the Great Cats, so they already had that going for them. I have a hard time giving them other more variable pelage, though I do recall some particularly memorable “snow leopard” versions I sprang on some Arctic Adventurers.

I tend to prefer to call them Coeurl, in homage to their actual origins and to accommodate the verboten IP by acknowledging that most good ideas are usually borrowed/stolen, but Warp Beast works for me too. Conveying their signature ability without de-protagonizing players has always been a little tricky (I like to describe them smelling like colors and sounding like smells), but thankfully they’ve gradually become rather well-known over the years. While this ruins some of the surprise it also seems to remove a little of the “you miss” sting. Tactically speaking, I’ve seen Players work together to try and corner or corral them, and I’ll usually reward this kind of side-ways thinking by reducing the penalty they apply to the to “hit” rolls.

Hope you find something useful to off-set one of your encounters with one of these entries!

Friday, May 1, 2020

OSE Encounter Activities - Purple Worm

One of the highest HD Monsters in the list: The Purple Worm, rightfully terrifying Adventurers since the early days of the hobby (where I suppose they were an exotic form of Dragon?). If being swallowed whole wasn’t bad enough, you may have to contend with a Save or Die Sting as well.

I must say they haven’t showed up often in my games (they’re a threat that’s more telegraphed than told), but quite a few of the spidery tunnels and underground networks come from their ravenous ramblings. The feature prominently in the legends of several of the different civilizations that dwell primarily underground, and this is usually enough for Players to give them the widest possible berth.

I have sometimes reskinned the statblock a bit for Wyrms of a different variety (think: Flightless Titanic Dragons) in high level play. It can serve as a good baseline for when you need something extremely immense.

One hundred different activities for them may be a bit overkill when I can count the number of times I’ve used them on one hand, but I’m a sucker for symmetry.

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