Monday, February 21, 2011

Every Monster Book Should Include Encounter Tables

By terrain type and dungeon level, utilizing all of and only the monsters contained in the book, and not those 2-20 tables - which are great for specialized tables, but the failure of the AD&D Monster Manual II is that it doesn't have the comprehensive d% encounter tables in the back like the Fiend Folio.

With the caveat that monsters books containing only a few monsters would be exempt.

With such a protocol in place a DM could easily make up encounter tables like:

d% --- Monster Book Encounter Table
01-24  Human - use Swords & Wizardry City Encounters or other resource
25-49  AD&D Fiend Folio
50       Random Esoteric Creature Generator
51-60  Arduin Trilogy
61-70  OSRIC Monsters of Myth
71-80  OSRIC Malevolent and Benign
81-90  Swords & Wizardry Monster Book
91-00  Tome of Horrors Complete

With the number of monsters listed in each book, an obsessive DM could easily assign d% probabilities according to monster book content quantities.

I think it's great that so many OSR monster books contain indexes with monster listings by dungeon level, terrain type, and so forth, I just wish that they'd take that extra step and tack some sort of arbitrary random table function onto these listings, just for "instant functionality."

9 comments:

  1. You just used the forbidden word ... caveat.

    :D

    Random tables are awesome for dungeon design creativity. Trying to figure out why you have those otherwise improbable monsters living side-by-side is a wonderful challenge for the DM!

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  2. I was always puzzled with second edition AD&D Monstrous Manual, because despite the fact that it included really awesome monsters from Spelljammer and other weird settings, it didn't have wilderness random tables! I said puzzled because I started with AD&D 2e back in the 90's, and as a noob DM that was freaking me out...

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  3. One thing I love about the Fiend Folio's is that it includes monsters from other sources so that you really only need the one book for your encounter table needs.

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  4. I didn't do that in Malevolent & Benign because most of the monsters in the book are rare or very rare - they're designed more to be additions into an existing campaign than a stand-alone world-populating product.

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  5. @ A Paladin: Exactly, it makes for great reverse-engineering divination and awesome villain teams lurking within dungeons.

    @ Il Male: Those bastards!

    @ Evan: If only the Monster Manual II continued with that idea...

    @ Jbrowning: I'm all for world-populating via stand-alone monster book! Regardless, I can't fault you for not subscribing to my imaginary master encounter table protocol when I can just cut and past the terrain data into a spreadsheet :)

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  6. I really like the d8+d12 2-20 tables, but you're right that they work best for specific locations. General random tables need more.

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  7. The Labyrinth Lord encounter tables set my group against 6 giant killer bees, and a panther on their way to the Caves of Chaos. Seems simple, but I never would have chosen on my own "6 giant bees come flying towards you out of the trees". Good times.

    I am a fan of any tools that help you people them with monsters of various horrid aspect.

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  8. @ Aplus: That's exactly why comprehensive encounter tables are awesome; I like to combines disparate encounters as well, such as turning your example into an animate panther-shaped bee-hive that psychically controls the swarm of vicious killer bees within!

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