Friday, September 2, 2011

Alternative Monster Level Tables

Continuing a presentation of alternative OD&D wandering monster tables: Last time we created a smoothed-out "Level of Monster Matrix" as well as some simple, rationalized rules for "Number Appearing". Today I'll show you what I'm currently using for the individual "Monster Level Tables". What I actually have in my custom DM screen is just the OD&D tables themselves, with some manual scratch-outs and penciled-in replacements.

First some observations and explanations: From last year, you can see an analysis and average Hit Dice values for the original OD&D tables here (they're pretty regular in simply being based on increasing Hit Dice). My top recommendation is to treat these tables as specific to a certain megadungeon campaign location (in the case of OD&D, Castle Greyhawk), and to tailor them to your own adventuring site; nevertheless, I think the ones I present below are a bit more "generic D&D" than in the OD&D (Castle Greyhawk) source. As in OD&D, all encounters are with hostile types (i.e., attack by default); there are no benign/helpful types appearing (such as dwarves or elves).

Among the changes I've made -- I've specified the "giant animal" types in terms of Monster Manual entries (recall that many of these have no defined stats in OD&D proper). I've replaced some of the more oddball Castle Greyhawk stuff (e.g.: thouls, giant hogs, giant weasels) with iconic D&D monsters that were introduced in later supplements (e.g., stirges, bugbears, gelatinous cubes). Each regular character class gets one line per table, usually with a variation in possible levels (e.g., warriors/swordsmen; roll a die to specify). As per my inclinations, Thieves are in, Clerics are out (they only appeared in two spots in the original tables anyway; insert them back where you think best for your game).

A few monsters I downgrade in lethality a bit from the MM presentations. I double bonuses to spider poison saves (so large +4, huge +2), and my standard giant snakes are a 3-HD constrictor types (no poison). If you insert your own monsters, keep in mind that in OD&D the exotic special abilities generally scale with Hit Dice (i.e., a 1HD creature with lightning bolt powers would a whole new deal; you're on your own in determining appropriate monster level). Also, I've indicated my current personal XP awards, based simply on monster level; consider those as an optional variant.

Without further ado, here are my examples for alternate monster level tables. The tables below are identified as Open Game Content under the terms of the Open Game License v1.0a. A spreadsheet of these tables (.XLS) can be accessed here.

Alternative Monster Level Tables

Level 1

(50 XP)

1

Kobolds

2

Goblins

3

Skeletons

4

Orcs

5

Giant Rats

6

Centipedes

7

Bandits (AC6)

8

Spiders (Large)



Level 2

(100 XP)

1

Hobgoblins

2

Zombies

3

Stirges

4

Warriors/Swordsmen (AC4)

5

Conjurers/Theurgists

6

Gnolls

7

Spiders (Huge)

8

Ghouls

9

Berserkers

0

Robbers/Burglars



Level 3

(200 XP)

1

Wights

2

Heroes/Swashbucklers (AC2)

3

Bugbears

4

Giant Ants (Warriors)

5

Ochre Jelly

6

Thaumaturgists/Magicians

7

Cutpurses/Sharpers

8

Gelatinous Cube

9

Giant Snakes (Constrict, 3HD)

0

Lizard, Giant



Level 4

(500 XP)

1

Wraiths

2

Ogres

3

Pilferers/Master Pilferers

4

Myrmidons/Champions

5

Giant Beetles (Boring)

6

Giant Scorpions

7

Lycanthropes (Werewolves)

8

Gargoyles

9

White Apes (Carnivorous)

0

Enchanters/Warlocks



Level 5

(1,000 XP)

1

Trolls

2

Superheroes

3

Wyverns

4

Spectres

5

Mummies

6

Minotaurs

7

Manticores

8

Cockatrices

9

Sorcerers/Necromancers

10

Thieves

11

Hydra (6-8 Heads)

12

Medusae



Level 6

(2,000 XP)

1

Giants

2

Hydra (9-12 Heads)

3

Dragons

4

Basilisks

5

Gorgons

6

Chimeras

7

Vampires

8

Lords

9

Balrogs

10

Wizards

11

Master Thieves

12

Purple Worms


9 comments:

  1. Thanks Delta. The other day i was wondering "how do you correlate monster power or hit dice with dungeon depth?", and today i read this.


    Now, at what level should a character of level X go adventuring?

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  2. "Now, at what level should a character of level X go adventuring?"

    That is an excellent question! And I really don't know the answer. Some dependencies:

    (1) How big a party are they adventuring with? (1, 5, 20?)

    (2) How much open access do they have to retreating -- and how many traps are there that cut them off or shift them unwilling to a lower level?

    Personally, in solo play using DMG Appendix A dungeon generation, I can't even get a lone level 4/5 PC to live through a 1st-level adventure. They always get shunted to a lower level(s) and die there trying to find access back up.

    Maybe we should try testing it without any further up/down access results...

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  3. Yeah. that would be col. By the way, with redbox and moldway encounter rules you can automatically escape if you're faster than your opponent. This would lead to an huge increase of survivability if evasion-friendly played do it right (as in not always wearing plate mail, memorizing hold portal instead of sleep and stuff like that).

    looking at the table i noticed that the shunting probabilities are quite slim... did you get really unlucky all the time? also the abundance of chutes on the ceiling makes climbing equipment much useful.


    4-6 adventurers, by the way :)

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  4. 2: they can retreat as mush as the dungeon allows them to. I might not have understood the question :D

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  5. I guess (2) was really the same question twice. Like: Can we depend on stairs up always being accessible? Or do you get cut off a lot?

    And yeah, after quite a few plays I'm convinced that the Appendix A stuff ultimately almost always results in being trapped in a lower dungeon level: you can expect it after 80 passages/rooms or less.

    In either passage or room: 1/20 chance for trap (see Table I/VF) * 1/4 chance for shunting (Table VII) = 1/80 chance on any roll. This include Table VII stuff like 3 elevator rooms (9-11), sliding wall (12), and a chute that can't be ascended (20). And that's not counting the stairs results with egress-closing doors and trap doors to lower levels (Table VI). In any of those situations, you're then dependent on random up-stairs, which are far less likely (like, certainly no traps go back up).

    In fact, I suppose one could program this Appendix as a random walk simulation and see what percent of walks lead back to the top level (I'm guessing diminishingly few).

    ReplyDelete
  6. From what I've seen there are a bunch of ways up as well.


    And for the shunting, well, when I go delving the party "bait/scout" is usually tied to a buff warrior with 50' of rope, so shunting would be less of a problem :)

    How would you deal with that?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Good question. My best reading of those Appendix A trap encounters is that most of them trap the whole party (esp., elevator rooms which are the most likely result) and/or shut off the trappee with a wall or door, so a rope wouldn't help. Maybe a single exception for the very last chute entry on the traps table.

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  8. Most giant beetles are quite boring.

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  9. "Most giant beetles are quite boring. "

    I was really worried someone was going to say that. +5 XP for being that guy. :-)

    ReplyDelete