Scaling Wandering Monster encounters in the great outdoors

Crossposted to DF:

I prefer random generation for wandering monsters over simply ‘picking’ what the players will encounter when because I like the unexpected nature that a roll of the dice can introduce. Maybe the dice will call for an unexpected monster that I would have never picked myself and lead to an interesting encounter.
I also like the wandering monster tables that are either environment appropriate (i.e.: you are unlikely to encounter camels in the arctic or fish in the desert if you roll on the right chart) and the ones that are ‘scaled’ for dungeon level… especially the ones that make it likely that you will encounter 1 hit dice creatures on level 1, 2 hit dice on level 2, etc., but the players can also occassionally encounter a monster from a deeper level that has ‘wandered up’… but such ‘deeper level’ monster encounters are less likely.

Has anyone created tables that are keyed to both environment and average party level/power? Thus you level 1 group is more likely to encounter a band of orcs while wandering in the woods while the 4th level party will encounter ogres instead (or maybe just a great many more orcs?).

I suppose I could put such tables together myself, but it seems a real pain in the ass. Maybe someone has already done the work for me.

2 Comments on “Scaling Wandering Monster encounters in the great outdoors”

  1. Why should you?
    Different power levels for different locales, yes, but not for group strength. If the first level band of adventurers wants to enter the Dread Woods of Death, let them. Maybe their bodies can be recovered later by real adventurers for proper burial. Just as stupid as tryying a shortcut to dungeon level 10…
    Of course, communication is the key. Don't stack the table of the Fairy Woods with fiendish green dragons and the Murderhills with groups of helpful wandering halfling merchants…
    I would never do different tables for the same place, because of group level (but I would change the tables if the last winterwolfes of the area are slain, for example…).

  2. Chris says:

    Scaling monsters? You mean like a hard-fought David-vs-Goliath Colossus Climb, right? 😉

    The possibility of hopelessly outclassing WM encounters are the whole reason why both B/X and AD&D both had encounter evasion rules (“50% chance if food/loot dropped as decoy” in the dungeon; “variable chance of escape modified by relative numbers” in the wilds).

    Is the party horribly out[classed/numbered] by the generated/pre-placed encounter? The party should run away, parley, or fight smart.

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