Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Distribution of Monsters and Treasure

In regard to filling in your dungeon maps, there is a useful suggestion in OD&D Vol. III The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures, p. 6 in the section Distribution of Monsters and Treasure, that reads:

"It is a good idea to thoughtfully place several of the most important treasures, with or without monsterous guardians, and then switch to a random determination for the balance of the level."

The guide then goes on to show a multi-step d6 rolling method for such random distribution. Long-time readers will remember I covered this with a distilled approach some time back. Well, if you missed it or want to download a file explaining the mechanics behind my d6 Dungeon Rooms table, it is now hosted at mediafire and linked to the right with my other files, this one titled "d6 Dungeon Rooms".

It's a small file so here's a copy and paste. Feel free to bend, fold and mutilate to your taste. The normal version adheres mathematically to the original odds from OD&D.

d6 Dungeon Rooms
Used for initial fills or restocking of dungeon rooms

1: Monster & Treasure
2: Monster
3-5: Empty
6: Looks Empty. Roll again, on a 1-4 there is hidden Treasure

This distilled table replicates the original distribution chances from OD&D vol. III, The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures:

One-third of the rooms have a Monster, one-half of which have Treasure also.
Two-thirds of the rooms are Empty, one-sixth of which have hidden Treasure.

Or roughly:

16.67% of rooms have Monster & Treasure
16.67% of rooms have Monster
55.55% of rooms are Empty
11.11% of rooms have hidden Treasure

Feel free to Copy and Paste and further customize. As an example I altered the original to include Traps in my random dungeon distribution:

Sham's d6 Dungeon Rooms

1: Monster & Treasure
2: Monster
3-5: Empty
6: Looks Empty. Roll again, on a 1-4 there is hidden Treasure, on a 5-6 there is a Trap.



Christopher said...

Here's a question: I understand using random charts to determine what's generally in a room- monster, treasure, trap, nothing, etc.- and I've seen random charts for what treasure is in a room. I'm actually planning on using yours, that you have in your downloads section, for my megadungeon. What I'm having trouble with is figuring out the best way to go about deciding on what monsters go in places I've determined, by rolling dice, need monsters.

Do you just draft a table of monsters you want on that level and roll on it? If so, how do you decide what monsters go in your table, and how big would you suggest the table be? What's a good distribution of monsters that have less, the same amount and more HD than the level they are found on?

Sham aka Dave said...

Staples: Some good questions there.

I will typically have a custom Wandering Monsters table for each level of my dungeon. Included on such a table are results indicating such things as "Native", -1 Level, +1 Level, +2 Level, Mixed (roll twice), etc.

Native means the themed or controlling "race" for that level if one exists. The -/+ Results mean use the table intended for a level above or below. Mixed means more than one type (who may or may not be fighting one another when encountered).

The way Vol. III handled it was to divide all of the dungeon's monsters on six seperate Monster Level Tables, and provide a simple d6 dungeon level v monster level cross-reference table.

The results could be fairly hard core. A roll of 6 on dungeon level 1 meant a roll from Monster Table 4...which included entries like Wraiths, Ogres, Enchanters...ouch!

The idea is to let the dice inspire you, though. OD&D said it was up to the referee to use discretion here, and that the total number of monsters should depend upon the size of the party.

Having said all of that, I have in the past used this Vol. III approach. While I do try to adhere to the Destiny by Dice method as much as possible, I generally use the results as a guide more than anything.

It's often fun coming up with the reasoning behind exactly how or why the random results make sense or coexist.

I hope that helps. I have plans to make a custom system similar to the OD&D version using my bestiary of unique monsters.

I need to discuss this more in another blog post. Thanks for the inspiration.

Christopher said...

And thanks for taking the time to respond! Your response (and your subsequent post) are really helpful and I feel like I have a much better handle on this. Thanks!

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