Monday, October 19, 2009

Wandering Monsters + Mandy Needs Your Help

I wrote earlier about the excitement that gets generated in a game during an important dice roll--even when it violates the rules of realism. Here's another trick I like to use to raise the tension:
Four of the PCs are sleeping soundly. One is on guard.
"You hear something to the west."
"What is it?"
"Well are you gonna look?"
<--"Ok, roll on this chart" (Everybody stops what they're doing to look at the chart and the die.)
'Something huge rears up in the dark' uh, ok...what is it?"
"Well, now you know it's bigger than you. Are you gonna move closer and see?"
"Uh..." (Player looks around at other players.)
"Don't ask them, they're asleep, girl."
"Ok, I'll go look."
"Ok now roll on this chart."
(Dungeon Master pulls out homemade Chart of Possible Size L Wandering Monsters for this environment.)

(Player looks at all the things that could be in the next room.)

(Moment in real life where hearing a bump in the night makes thoughts of every single thing that that sound could possibly represent cycle through your head is effectively simulated.)

(Player holds breath, rolls dice, prays for a 1.)


Now, for something completely different. Pictured above is miss Mandy Morbid, star of stage and screen. She is getting ready to write and run her very first adventure. The problem is: since I want to play in this adventure, I can't help her that much or it won't be a surprise when I go through it. Thus, I'm asking you for help: Mandy needs monsters for her upcoming adventure. It's going to be a sort of evil-enchanted-forest-fairy-tale-witch kind of adventure for low-level players.

So, if you've got monsters (or any relatively modular trick or trap or location or item that you can drop into in a scary enchanted forest) please either leave a link in the comments (I will give it to Mandy and won't click it myself), or, if the info's not on the web, e-mail it to me--(zakzsmith at hot mail dot calm) and I'll forward it along to Mandy unopened, just put "Mandy Adventure" in the subject header . Monsters can be in any D&D system, just as long as you note which one it is. I promise a player report on anything she uses that you suggest. I suspect she's going to use one of these.

P.S. Just got an interesting question from Matthew Slepin
"I have a question with no snark intended: does the title of the blog mean that you're going to discuss some of the idiosyncratic nature of playing with porn stars OR is it just a way to get our attention (no bad thing)."

And the answer to that question is:

I mean to discuss gaming with porn girls specifically very soon, but those articles are a little complicated to write (they involve a little amateur sociology) so I'm starting off with stuff that hopefully any D&D blogger can use while I think about how exactly to tackle the subject. Expect something very soon.


  1. I guess I'm a little confused about the system you're using. Is it 3e-lite, or an older edition with 3e-style AC?

    WotC still has a bunch of free adventures of all levels (for 3e) on their website. They're all pretty generic and really easy to modify for your own style (as I have been known to do).

  2. 3e lite, but so "lite" that, aside from the ac and save style, it might as well be AD&D.


    Mandy needs bits to put into an adventure, not a whole adventure, but i'll tell her to check it out.

  3. So we can count on an article about "Sex & D&D" soon?

  4. The interactive wandering monster table rocks. You really sold the idea of the player's decisions having concrete and directly relatable consequences. Truly your DM-fu is strong.

    I was going to point Mandy in the direction of Hamsterish Hoard too. Taichara is the first name that springs into my head for whimsical/creepy low-level stuff.

  5. Maybe this helps a bit:

  6. Monsters:

    Traps and Riddles:

    Sadly, all these aren't very forest-specific, but with the monsters-by-environment tables it should work fine. Conversion from 1e to 3e lite should also be easy.

    Fey/Feary related:

    Forest related:

    Maps in General (Dungeons, on Page 2 are Caverns):

  7. Mandy says:
    "This is the kind of thing I'm loking for:

    thanks, Castle

  8. Glad I could help.
    I really would suggest that Mandy looks into the monsterbooks above by terrain type and searches for something she might like, and maybe downgrades monsters that are too tough.

  9. she's already scouring the available materials--she's looking for hidden stuff

  10. She might like the Welwa, for a scary forest type adventure. It's a bit complicated to generate for a beginner though, and requires the Monster Manual, MMII and Fiend Folio as reference.
    There's other oddball monsters on my blog though.

  11. It's probably too late, but I highly recommend the Swords & Wizardry Monster Book - lots of unique and new monsters in here, plus the usual suspects.

  12. "...OR is it just a way to get our attention (no bad thing)."

    I must say that the blog title caught my attention, but the content firmly grasped it.

    Also in Swords & Wizardry format, a creation of mine:

    *Currently hosting it at a client's server :-p my own server died, gotta fix that before I get caught hehe.

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  14. I like the Welwa--the picture on that page is awesome!

    Also, thanks everyone for all the info and links!

  15. I'll second (third?) Taichara's Hamsterish Hoarde Blog. Although she'd probably brick-bat me for calling a lot of what she's written "evil fairy tale", a lot of her monsters are definitely evil, definitely fit a woodlands/enchanted forest setting, and are definitely unusual/creepy/original.

    Also, if you can find it at a local book store, this book is great for a lot of traditional folk tale / creepy demon/spirit like monsters.

    Good luck Mandy - Zak, keep us posted.

  16. I stumbled upon this blog somewhere along the line and if you want to put in a variety of (A)D&D-ish gaming elements, I write a daily blog of oldschool material, deities, magic items, spells, monsters, etc. I try to blur the lines between a game mechanic and a story element a lot of the time, so a spell can be a plot hook, a monster can be a way of advancing a story, etc. Have fun with it.

  17. ancientvaults--
    i know your blog--left a coment on the Despair Mold not so long ago

    Any specific thing you recommend? mandy's got ther hands full combing through all the books in the house and free downloads

  18. Taichara's Hamsterish Hoarde Blog was an excellent recommendation.

  19. Hamsterish Horde is well blog with excellent ideas.

    I was just mentioning Ancient Vaults as a quick "go to" for last minute ideas, plot hooks or red herrings.

    The method to my chaotic madness is to leave the posts loose enough to be used as utility ideas. I referred to it the other day while running Labyrinth Lord (sometimes the blog actually causes me to draw a blank while running the game, some sort of cosmic joke, more than likely), but with a little tinkering, most anything would work for any version of D&D, or even Savage Worlds. I like throwing some little oddity like the Villainous Murdge at the party just to see how they handle it.

  20. Only found this post now... have to second the S&W Monster Book recommendation, half my critters from the following thread are in it.