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OD&D, Wandering Monsters

Old Geezer

Active member
Banned
I've mentioned before that in OD&D, wandering monsters are BAD BAD BAD. Period. No "Knights of the Dinner Table" banging saucepans together to draw monsters. Wandering Monsters = no treasure = no XP = bad.

Running an OD&D game at Gary Con last spring reminded me just HOW bad.

On the first level, you can get wandering monsters from tables 1 thru 4. On the FIRST LEVEL, wandering monsters include wights (level drain, hit by silver arrows or magic weapons), gargoyles (magic weapons only), wraiths (half damage from silver arrows, magic weapons), myrmidons (6th level fighters), or enchanters (7th level magic users.) ANY of those are pretty much a TPK for a first level group of PCs that engage them. And of course as you go lower and lower the same idea applies; on the THIRD LEVEL you can get Dragons, Vampires, Giants, Lords (9th level fighters), Wizard (with entourage!), Evil High Priest (with entourage!)

That's why wandering monsters were so fucking terrifying.
 

JoshR

Registered User
Validated User
That is pretty bad. On the B/X wandering monster tables, there are 1 or 2 monsters of higher level than the dungeon level, but nothing as bad as that.
 

Old Geezer

Active member
Banned
That is pretty bad. On the B/X wandering monster tables, there are 1 or 2 monsters of higher level than the dungeon level, but nothing as bad as that.
And that original table goes, I think, back to Dave Arneson.

'Course, we were all wargamers, and pretty much figured that you couldn't play a wargame without taking at least some losses. But it sure does show that survival in and of itself was an accomplishment. In BLACKMOOR it wasn't rare for a character to hit 5th or 6th level, and then the player would retire that character.
 

David J Prokopetz

Social Justice Henchman
RPGnet Member
Validated User
And folks never seem to understand what I mean when I say that, in OD&D, getting into anything even remotely resembling a square fight means you've screwed up.
 

Skycroft

Space Wizard
RPGnet Member
Validated User
I don't think getting into combat with a wight at first level is anything even remotely resembling a square fight, to be fair.:p
 
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Sleeper

Red-eyed dust bunny
Validated User
I don't think getting into combat with a wight at first level is anything even remotely resembling a square fight, to be fair.:p
Sure it is.

After all, the nasty little goblins you tricked into fighting it probably make a good square meal for a hungry undead barrow-thing.
 

SuperG

Active member
Validated User
I don't think getting into combat with a wight at first level is anything even remotely resembling a square fight, to be fair.:p
...and it ain't meant to be.

Just for kicks, I checked the 4e Compendium... there's a level one adventure that features, as it's final two fights, a Wraith + mooks fight, and a Wight-by-itself fight. Teehee.
 

junglefowl26

Registered User
Validated User
So how do you avoid wandering monsters exactly? Cause rushing through everything without planning will just lead to you being killed by the regular monsters, wouldn't it?

...Though I wonder if you could trick some of the wandering monsters into clearing out the normal guys, and hopefully get weakened themselves in the process....
 
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