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Custom Wandering Monster Tables

Apr 07, 2021 · 12 mins read
Custom Wandering Monsters Tables

Introduction
Although my PCs have yet to depart from the heavily patrolled roads and inhabited areas, they are about to.  One of the most important things for me, as a DM, is to build up the believability of the Kingdom of Delthos as a place where people actually live.  A non-sensical and completely random set of encounters would destroy that.  So instead of using the tables from Old School Essentials as presented in the Rules Tome (and elsewhere), I have created my own tables.  These were created prior to the Advanced monsters guide being released.  No matter, as I have already mined AD&D 1st edition’s Monster Manual (MM), Fiend Folio (FF), and Monster Manual II (MM2) along with the Companion and Master Rules from BECMI.  

The interior of Delthos is an inhabited/patrolled area of forests and plains with hills and a mountain range demarking the western border.  To the east lay an ocean.  No seaborne encounter tables are given below because such adventures are not currently being sought by my players.  Should they change direction, one will be manufactured as quickly as possible.

Patrols
In the brown box OD&D setting, Gary Gygax says that when passing over a “castle hex” a patrol will come out to greet a party/adventurer 50% of the time.  Those “hexes” were 5 miles across.  He went on to write that one hex away from the castle the chance dropped to 2 in 6 (33.33%) and two hexes away the chance of encountering such as patrol dropped to 1 in 6 (16.67%).  Thus, in Gary’s world every inhabited stronghold exerted control over roughly a 15 mile area.  This sounds reasonable given distance and movement factors and represents about 1 day’s ride out and 1 day’s ride back with some patrolling within a particular pie slice.  A well-disciplined force can do this.  Gary adds that Knights would want to joust worthy opponents for a prize of 100gp-600gp or at the very least having the loser give up his/her armor.  I like this rule a lot and may incorporate it.  It will cause PCs to make difficult choices about skirting the edges of known inhabited areas.

In the 1st edition AD&D DMG pg. 182, Gary says that keeps on above how inhabited areas should be "assumed to be patrolled” so 5 in 20 (25%) of encounters in such areas would be a patrol.  Gary does not, however, indicate the size of this patrolled area.  He does, however, make it clear that patrols are always mounted unless there are extenuating circumstances and that leaders would be astride a warhorse.  

With all of this guidance in mind, I make use of this patrol dynamic for the Kingdom of Delthos.  If a patrol is indicated and the PCs are passing within 15 miles of an inhabited fortification - give them a mounted patrol who will challenge/question them at the very least and could just pick out their best fighter for a joust.  Otherwise re-roll

Flying Creatures
Finally, just as the 1st edition DMG indicated, any flying creatures will be encountered airborne 75% of the time.

Locations/Special Encounters
Sometimes a location is indicated instead of a monster.  I’m basically overloading the function of the wandering monster rolls to help “dungeon dress” my world with relevant things like dolmens, fairy mounds, and clootie wells.  Sometimes this will color the behavior and rumors the PCs may pick up from the locals.  I’ve also included some references to supplements and other modules that are basically “one shots.”  I want to run these, but lack the inspiration to shoehorn them into the campaign.  By making these things random, I give the players the choice to interact with them or not, or leave them and come back to them later.  Finally, some areas like mountainous terrain may actually have hazards that must be surmounted like a vertical pitch or sudden storm.  Again, I think overloading the wandering monster table is a perfectly acceptable way to avoid adding extra dice rolls and yet still the the PCs a challenging “encounter."


Frequency, Time of Day, Surprise, Encounter Distance, Terrain
Frequency: A check is typically rolled once per day, but the referee may choose to make more checks: up to three or four per day.
The way I interpret this OSE rule is to roll 1d8 to decide how many checks to make that day.  1-4 = check once.  5-6 check twice. 7-8 check 3 times unless I also roll a 1 on 1d4 in which case the unfortunate PCs will face four checks that day.

Monsters will arrive sometime in a 24 hour period (1d20+1d6-2).  

I preroll all encounters for the day/night at the same time and often prepare at least a few days’ worth in advance of the adventure so we can focus on the gaming and not the dice.

Don’t forget to roll for surprise on both sides and adjust encounter distance as necessary.

Chance by Terrain
▶ City, clear, grasslands, settled lands: 1-in-6.
▶ Aerial, barren, desert, forest, hills: 2-in-6.
▶ Jungle, mountains, swamp: 3-in-6.


TABLES
Without further ado, here are the tables!


Plain/Scrub/roadway d100
  • 1-5 SPECIAL LOCATION
  • 6-30 Patrol (if within 15 miles of castle/fortification)
  • 31-32 Black Bear   
  • 32-33 Wild Boar/Feral Pig 
  • 34-35 Wolf/Wild dog
  • 36-37 Bull, Wild
  • 38-41 Herd Animal
  • 42-45 Cattle
  • 46 Bat
  • 47 Insect Swarm
  • 48-49 Mule, Horse, Donkey
  • 50 Bandit/highwayman
  • 51 Cattle raider
  • 52-53 Merchant 
  • 54 Pilgrim 
  • 55-56 Hunter
  • 57 Supply caravan
  • 58 Pilgrim or Cleric
  • 59 Druid
  • 60 Brehon (d3 determine rank denoted by torc)
  • 61 Bard 
  • 62 Knight or Fiona (depending on location) [100 Noble Houses and Coats of Arms]
  • 63 Man at arms (leave, discharge, transfer, sick)
  • 64 Elf/Half-Elf 
  • 65 Gnome 
  • 66 Halfling 
  • 67 Hill Giant 
  • 68 Ogre 
  • 69 Leprechaun 
  • 70 Booka (FF farms)
  • 71 Robber Fly
  • 72 Killer Bee
  • 73 Giant Centipede
  • 74 Dwarf
  • 75 Intro to Pod Caverns of sinister shroomkin (if not previously encountered)
  • 76-78 Animal Trainer
  • 79 Angry villager
  • 80 Animal Breeder
  • 81 Fisher
  • 82 Explorer
  • 83 Trapper
  • 84 Bailiff and Escort (if within 7 miles of fortification)
  • 85-00 Farmer

Forest
  • 1-5 SPECIAL LOCATION
  • 6-30 Patrol (if within 15 miles of castle/fortification)
  • 31-33 Black Bear 
  • 34-35 Wild Boar/Feral Pig 
  • 36-39 Elf/Half Elf 
  • 40 Halfling 
  • 41 Hill Giant 
  • 42 Ogre 
  • 43-49 Wolf/Wild Dog 
  • 50-53 Bandit 
  • 54-55 Merchant 
  • 56 Pilgrim 
  • 57 Bat
  • 58-59 Herd Animal
  • 60 Mountain Lion or Lynx
  • 61 Haunt (MM2 pg. 74)
  • 62 Brownie
  • 63 Dryad
  • 64 Pixie
  • 65 Sprite
  • 66 Stag, Giant
  • 67 Troll
  • 68 Unicorn
  • 69 Water weird
  • 70 Treant 
  • 71 Sylph
  • 72 Owlbear lair
  • 73 Giant Spider
  • 74 Robber Fly
  • 75 Killer Bee
  • 76 Giant Centipede
  • 77 Needleman (FF pg 67)
  • 78 Giant two-headed troll (FF pg. 90)
  • 79 Nereid 
  • 80 Will-o-wisp
  • 81 Grig (MM2)
  • 82 Buckawn (MM2)
  • 83 Boggart (MM2)
  • 84 Atomie (MM2)
  • 85 Stirges or Volt (pg. 95 FF)
  • 86 Thoul
  • 87 Flind
  • 88-89 Giant Beetle
  • 90 Mite (FF pg. 66)
  • 91 witch/warlock
  • 92 Barkburr
  • 93 Fungus Among Us mini adventure for level 2
  • 94 100 Encounters in a Fey Forest
  • 95 Intro to Pod Caverns of sinister shroomkin (if not previously encountered)
  • 96 Greenwood - Burning Goblins 
  • 97 Dungeon #33 - Alicorn - requires 18x18mile forested area
  • 98 Trapper
  • 99 Hunter
  • 00 Fisher (probably a farmer)

Hills
  • 1-5 SPECIAL LOCATION
  • 6-30 Patrol (if within 15 miles of castle/fortification)
  • 31-32 Wild Boar/Feral Pig
  • 33-34 Dwarf
  • 35 Gnome
  • 36 Ghost 
  • 37 Halfling
  • 38-40 Hill Giant
  • 41-43 Ogre 
  • 44-48 Goblin 
  • 49-51 Hobgoblin 
  • 52-53 Bugbear
  • 54 Leprechaun 
  • 55-59 Wolf/Wild dog 
  • 60-63 Bandit
  • 64-66 Merchant 
  • 67 Pilgrim 
  • 68 Bat
  • 69-72 Herd Animal
  • 73-74 Mountain Lion or Lynx
  • 75 Supply caravan
  • 76 Haunt (MM2 pg. 74)
  • 77 Bull, Wild
  • 78-82 Ram or Bighorn sheep
  • 83 Owlbear lair
  • 84 Giant Spider
  • 85 Robber Fly
  • 86 Killer Bee
  • 87 Giant Centipede
  • 88 Flail Snail (FF)
  • 89 Stirges or Volt (pg. 95 FF)
  • 90 Thoul
  • 91 Flind
  • 92-94 Giant Beetle
  • 95 Mite (FF pg. 66)
  • 96 Wild horses
  • 97 Glint in the stream (maybe a good place to set up a panning operation)
  • 98 Trap (the usual party order - chance to trigger - chance to detect)
  • 99-00 Dire wolves

Mountains
  • Vertical face (see Swordbearer Dwarven Halls for details)
  • 2-5 SPECIAL LOCATION
  • 6-30 Patrol (if within 15 miles of castle/fortification)
  • 31-32 Black Bear
  • 33-39 Dwarf
  • 40-42 Gnome
  • 43 Halfling 
  • 44-45 Hill Giant 
  • 46-47 Ogre 
  • 48-49 Goblin
  • 50 Hobgoblin 
  • 51-54 Bugbear
  • 55-60 Wolf/Wild dog 
  • 61-62 Bandit 
  • 63 Merchant 
  • 64 Pilgrim
  • 65 Bat
  • 66-67 Herd Animal
  • 68-69 Mountain Lion or Lynx
  • 70 Supply caravan
  • 71 Haunt (MM2 pg. 74)
  • 72-75 Ram or Bighorn Sheep
  • 76 Ghoul 50% have ghoul fever, bad for the PCs.
  • 77 Wyvern 
  • 78 Giant Roc
  • 79 Giant Spider
  • 80 Cursed adventurer with a Tween (FF pg. 91)
  • 81 Strikes or Volt (pg. 95 FF)
  • 82 Thoul
  • 83 Flind
  • 84 Rock fall
  • 85 Crevasse
  • 86 Avalanche (if snowy)
  • 87 Dead end (must double back at least 1d8 hours)
  • 88 undiscovered pass (roll d8 for direction and d2 to determine if at trailhead or goes both ways)
  • 89 vein of riches (a little exposed, tantalizing for a future mining expedition)
  • 90 lava tube or purple worm hole (maybe a way to the under dark?)
  • 91 mist/fog (possible transport to another realm)
  • 92-00 freak storm (winds, rain, hail, temperature drop, etc.) 

Marsh
  • 1-5 SPECIAL LOCATION
  • 6-30 Patrol (if within 15 miles of castle/fortification)
  • 31-34 Black Bear
  • 35-36 Wild Boar/Feral Pig
  • 37-38 Ghoul
  • 39 Halfling
  • 40 Hill Giant
  • 41-48 Giant Rat
  • 49-52 Bandit 
  • 53 Bat
  • 54-55 Herd Animal
  • 56 Obliviax (MM2 pg. 96)
  • 57 Haunt (MM2 pg. 74)
  • 58 Gray ooze
  • 59 Green slime
  • 60 Ochre jelly
  • 61 Algoid (FF like treat but for swamps)
  • 62 Behir (MM2 swamp)
  • 63 Babbler (FF swamp)
  • 64 Snake, Giant
  • 65 Shadow
  • 66 Spectre
  • 67-68 Ghoul 50% have ghoul fever, bad for the PCs.
  • 69-71 Lizardman
  • 72 Shambling mound
  • 73-74 Kobold Lair
  • 75 Black pudding
  • 76 Lizard King (FF pg 61 swamp)
  • 77-79 Giant Spider
  • 80-81 Giant Centipede
  • 82-84 Giant Beetle
  • 85-86 Stirges or Volt (pg. 95 FF)
  • 87 Mite (FF pg. 66)
  • 88 Snake
  • 89 Snake, giant
  • 90 Frog, Giant or Toad, Giant
  • 91Eel
  • 92 Treent 
  • 93 Will-o-wisp
  • 94 witch
  • 95 Direburr 
  • 96 Explorer
  • 97 Trapper
  • 98 Hunter
  • 99 Fisher
  • 00 Mist (possible transport to another realm)


SPECIAL LOCATION
  1. Granary
  2. Stable / Horse Farm
  3. Cleared farmland (stumps)
  4. Fallow field
  5. Orchard
  6. Apiary (skeps on wood shelves w/overhang)
  7. Abandoned homestead
  8. Spring/Babbling Brook - fresh/clear water
  9. Plinth or other standing stone
  10. Cairn
  11. Graveyard/Crematory site
  12. Log pile / Felled trees
  13. Fruit stand (eggs and honey)
  14. Vegetable stand (also eggs & honey)
  15. Quarry
  16. Road repair materials
  17. Chapel/shrine
  18. Fairy circle - Korred [fairy circle dance] (MM2)
  19. Fairy mound
  20. Clootie Well
  21. Dolman
  22. Sacred grove
  23. Campsite (fresh or old)
  24. Inn or Tavern
  25. Fenced Pasturage
  26. Open Range pasture
  27. Noble pasturage 
  28. Tree stand or hunting blind
  29. Hunting lodge (noble)
  30. Hunting shack
  31. Abandoned/broken down Cart/Wagon
  32. Abandoned palisade fort
  33. Freestanding tower
  34. Sinkhole or crevasse
  35. Road sign
  36. Stone marker/pile of rocks
  37. Gutted carcass (game animal)
  38. Fresh tracks or scat (animal, human, monster)
  39. Natural Cave
  40. Mineshaft
  41. Cliff/Waterfall
  42. Ford
  43. Ferry
  44. Bridge
  45. Dead Body (human or monster)
  46. Stone circle
  47. Statue (something turned to stone)
  48. Giant’s bones - left to the sky to pick clean
  49. Village near a Well [ancient wishing well on well beaten path - Necromancer, zombies, goblins at bottom have base of operations. River to under dark.  See Advanced Fighting Fantasy Corebook pg. A11-A18)
  50. Lava tube or purple worm hole (likely entrance is a lair for something like Troglodytes or Neanderthals or White/Pack Apes or Prehistoric cave bear)
  51. Agbar’s Retreat [AFF Core pg. A-138 through 140) a minor warlord with some goblins.  Gark - substitute Ogre or Hobgoblin.
  52. A thicket filled with Slumber Berries [AFF Core pg. A-146]
  53. Reverse Dungeon - an area of 15 miles E-W and 20 N-S with forest, scrub, marsh, the village of Ardeche and a monastery.
  54. Winter’s Daughter module


City (d100) every 3 turns and ignore non-sensical results
Professions - See either OSE Advanced pg. 52, or roll on the list of 422 professionals supplement

  1. Assassin
  2. Bandit
  3. Beggar
  4. Brigand
  5. City official
  6. City watchman
  7. City workman
  8. Cleric - will try to get party to tithe to their church (10%) or point them in direction of something that benefits their deity/pantheon
  9. Drunk
  10. Fighter
  11. Gentleman
  12. Goodwife
  13. Harlot
  14. Illusionist
  15. Laborer
  16. Street Peddler
  17. Mage - may try to engage party to determine if they have any magic items or interest in acquiring same for him.  Evil ones may geas party to get same! (Thank Gary Gygax’s OD&D rules for this idea)
  18. Mercenary
  19. Merchant (see table of items from B1 storage room, or else use equipment list for instant inspiration)
  20. Bard
  21. Noble (determine rank and entourage - see table in Brockand note)
  22. Knight/Sheriff/Deputy [100 Noble Houses and Coats of Arms]
  23. Pilgrim
  24. Press Gang
  25. Other Professional
  26. Ranger
  27. Ruffian or Rake
  28. Thief
  29. Tradesman
  30. NPC - significant - from CityBook I or CityBook2 or Genevue 
  31. Herdsman/men w/herd animal(s)
  32. Drover with load or even whole caravan
  33. Cartman with load
  34. Messenger in a hurry
  35. Town crier
  36. Genevue modules’ random rumor overheard when passing by two citizens
  37. Smell (pleasant food, flowers, perfumed air, pipe tobacco or unpleasant rotting rodent, sewer backup, acrid fire, putrefaction, tannery, chamberpot, garbage)
  38. Obstruction (overturned cart, loose animal or mount, street closed, repair crew, small fire, children’s game, brawl)
  39. Sound (bells, yelling, laughter, coughing, arguing, moan, cry, pain, piercing scream or whistle, etc.)
  40. Gargoyle
  41. Cursed adventurer with a Tween (FF pg. 91)
  42. One of the 100 Scum of the Slums (make name appropriate, but backstory is spot on) supplement
  43. Animal Trainer - necessary to train any animal other than horses or mules.  Can train/handle up to 6 animals.
  44. Alchemist
  45. Armorer
  46. Engineer
  47. Seaman/Sailor
  48. Ship Captain
  49. Navigator
  50. Smith
  51. Spy
  52. Road Builder (Dwarf)
  53. Barge-man
  54. Hunter
  55. Assistant (to some other Profession like Armourer)
  56. Fishmonger
  57. Explorer
  58. Ship Builder
  59. Sea tradesman
  60. Tourist
  61. Angry citizen
  62. Potential retainer or torchbearer
  63. Potential Hireling/Mercenary (non-adventuring guard, patrol, wilderness servant) trying to drum up business (see pg. 129 OSE Rules Tome)
  64. Oarsman
  65. Sage
  66. Jester/Street Performer
  67. Tourist
  68. 68-00 is no random encounter at all