As I was writing about the keyed monster list, I had cause to generate a random dungeon as an example using the generator over at donjon. The example that popped out was fine . . . but I did notice that nearly all of the fun threats in that particular output were from random encounters – the Wandering Monster table was far more interesting challenge-wise than the encounters that were in place.
Perhaps that makes sense in some cases, but it got me thinking about the why of wandering monsters. Why might monsters wander, and what kinds of wandering are more likely to provoke violent encounters?
I wonder why I wander
Brainstorming a bit:
- Travel from place to place – migration, resettlement
- Hunting for food
- Patrolling territory that has already been established
- Scouting new territory for home, food, mates, or resources
- Scouting new territory for fun
- Looking for an encounter for a specific purpose – rite of passage, hunting for sport rather than food
- War party, genocidal or punitive expedition
- Investigating strange goings on (loud noises, sounds of a struggle, cries of a wounded creature)
I’m sure there are others.
One interesting divide here is that some of these are more appropriate for sapient beings than sentient ones.
A tiger will set up a territory. It will patrol that territory on very regular intervals. It will hunt for food within that territory, and within reason, it will defend the territory from incursion. It uses spray, urine, feces, and scratch markings to not only signal the territory, but to purposefully signal its patrol pattern. So it’s likely to share territory at the borders, so long as other animals don’t encroach during patrol hours, so to speak.
A band of traditional orcs, who are aggressive, warlike, and sapient, may be wandering from place to place, and if they are migrating, they will do it in very large numbers – a clan or tribe (thinking on it, regular migrations will frequently be in force). They may engage in many of the listed activities, and can be counted on doing so with (relatively speaking) great creativity. Their patrols may be more random and less signaled. They may hunt for sport as well as for food.
In a dungeon environment, or any sort of encounter really, it may help the GM or encounter designer pondering a wandering monster or chance encounter table to consider the kinds of encounters that might be had. Continue reading “Purposeful Wandering Monsters”