Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Gamer ADD: Monster Manual II Part 5

Wandering Monster Table Level 1

I have been trying to work on some Wondering Monster Tables (WMT) for a Moldvay Basic Edition using only MMII monsters and it hasn’t been easy, especially compared to my efforts to do the same for the Field Folio. While my original break down of Molday’s WMTs is still relevant and useful, finding monsters to fit that break-down is not nearly as straight-forward as it was with the FF.

Both the MMI and the FF have a wide variety of monsters of all power levels: everything from the lowly 1/2HD humanoids to god-like unique monsters. Each is a manual that can serve a Referee/GM/DM well for a campaign that spans several PC levels. One of the main reasons I have never liked the MMII — its theme of Gygax’s underdark and planar cosmology — is also the reason why the MMII does not do a good job of serving up monsters of variable levels for a Referee/GM/DM to use over the course of a whole campaign.

The MMII is top-heavy. PCs that are going to explore the underdark and/or the other planes of Gygax’s cosmology are necessarily going to be higher level. Thus, virtually every monster in the MMII either comes from a mid-to-high level module or is designed to challenge higher level characters. There are a number of low hit die creatures that are very capable of taking out an entire 1st level party. Sure, a well-organized group of kobolds could do the same, but not as some random encounter.

For example, the Quickling has the following spell-like abilities: ventriloquism, forget, levitate, shatter, dig and fire charm. When motionless, they are invisible. They save as 19th level clerics. They cannot be surprised, have three attacks per round and have an AC of -3. Did I mention that are 1.5 HD creatures?

Thus, it took a lot longer to arrive at the following 1st Level WMT:

  1. Seer (2nd level MU)
  2. Veteran (1st level Fighter)
  3. Cave Cricket (1+3 HD)
  4. Mongrelmen (1 HD)
  5. Myconid (1 HD)
  6. Vulchling (1 HD)
  7. Ustilagor (3+3* HD)
  8. Dreurgar (1+2 HD)
  9. Pedipalp (1+1 HD)
  10. Tasloi (1 HD)
  11. Dinosaur (3+1 HD)
  12. Formian Worker (1+1 HD)
  13. Giant Squirrel (1+1 HD)
  14. Animal Skeleton (1-1* HD)
  15. Muckdweller (1/2 HD)
  16. Giant Termite (1+2 HD)
  17. Gripple (1+1 HD)
  18. Webbird (1/2* HD)
  19. Footpad (2nd level thief)
  20. Coshee (3+3 HD)

The MMII does not lack for jellies, slimes and oozes. The problem is that they are meant to be a nuisance to mid-to-high level characters and therefore are not really appropriate for a 1st level WMT. As such, I substituted the ustilagor, which is described as a fungi.

This list suggests a world that passingly resembles a fantasy world, with its fey touches and its hat tips to elves and dwarves; however, there is a strong suggestion that this world has been ravaged by the effects of pure chaos. When a creature does appear to be somewhat normal, it seems like it was ripped from another time. Otherwise, this is a nice, large helping of weird.

No comments: