Saturday, June 18, 2016

Neat idea re: wandering monsters

In most old-school games, especially in the types of sandbox adventure where there's no time sensitive mission involved, wandering monsters provide the only disincentive for spending infinite amounts of time checking every wall and every item, thereby eroding some of the crucial decisions that make the game fun. Wandering monsters are, essentially, the measurement of time ticking.

Many people don't like wandering monsters because the whole concept is a bit unrealistic -- infinite numbers of monsters roaming around? But they play an important structural role in a sandbox adventure, one that needs a substitute if you eliminate the concept based on realism.

Over at The Dragon's Flagon, Waywardwayfarer has proposed a tiny little trick for making the wandering monster checks a bit easier to track. It's basically a change in probabilities so that the check can always be made each turn instead of using one check on staggered turns.

Take a look - it's simple and elegant.


  1. I agree. Not to get too wonky but 1 in 12 was the method suggested in C1 - The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

    I like 1 in 20 because it tracks the 1 in 6 every three turns, implied in The Underworld & Wilderness Adventures. It preserves the incentive to keep moving while slightly toning down the idea that the dungeon is a mad thoroughfare of monsters wandering to and fro.

  2. When I was a kid, I thought that once you encountered a particular wandering monster/monster group, you were supposed to cross it out.

    I kinda feel bad for the public library where I used to check out the 1st edition DMG... -_-

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