On Artifices & Deceptions: Triggers, Proximity

This trigger is an extremely sensitive device that detects vibrations, most often transmitted through the air. They are generally sensitive and only used in out of the way places. Note that because they detect vibrations in the air, they are also extremely sensitive to sound. Non-thieves have a difficult time detecting these traps. There is little that you can do to notice this trigger, but the area around a proximity trap has no breeze, is very quiet, and often has either a thick layer of dust on the floor or no dust at all. Disarming it is a difficult and time consuming process - increase the length of time required to disarm a proximity trigger by 10 times. On the positive side, these triggers usually only trigger alarms or summon guardians of some sort.

Mechanical proximity triggers are interesting triggers because they often are not directly detectable. The only clues you will have to proximity detectors is that the area is sealed, and appears undisturbed. Even sensitive ones can avoid being triggered by someone who is quiet and walking softly, so approaching and disabling them is possible. The difficulty comes in finding them.

I would generally rule that finding a proximity trigger without triggering it takes twice as long as just searching a square normally. Also, that it can only be done by one person at a time, slowing down the process even more.

Since these are triggered by vibration, be aware of talking loudly or other action the party might take to set it off.

Another way to handle these triggers is to just set them off. Throw a thunderstone down the hallway and cover your ears.

The biggest clues you have in order to detect a trigger of this type are the signs that the area has not been disturbed or visited in a long time. Examples above, such as dust, are useful; other signs of proximity triggers in use include:
  • Cobwebs
  • Sagging shelves and furniture or curtains
  • Hard stone or metal hallway floors or acoustical ceilings to increase the noise made
  • The section of the dungeon is a sealed or is clearly a vault. 
For higher level characters, they may be facing powerful Wizards, Engineers, and Alchemists who may be able to make proximity sensors that only are triggered when player characters enter a certain (short) range. This method is used in the mid to high level modules below. This escalation can occur once they receive new tools for addressing problem solving (henchmen, constructs, Wizard Eye, Legend Lore, etc.)

Traditional use

C2: Ghost Tower of Inverness by Allen Hammack


This 90'x90' room has a 20' high ceiling; there is a 10' wide passage in the center of the west wall. In the room are 16 bugbears without weapons, standing perfectly still; however, they do not appear to be statues. In the center of the north wall is a 10' long, 5' wide, 5' tall stone sarcophagus engraved with lettering.

The bugbears are in a type of temporal stasis; 4 will animate. . . and attack any intruders within the room each time one of the doorways is passed through. (For example, if a party member steps into the room and then out again, 8 bugbears will be animated.) The doorway, and not the floor, is the trigger: flying and levitation spells will still animate the monsters, characters using dimension door and teleport spells will not activate the bugbears, regardless of whether the room is entered or passed thereby.

T1-4: Temple of Elemental Evil by Gary Gygax


If the bronze doors in area 145 (Dungeon Level One) are sundered, the stairs therein descend south to this room. However, entry is blocked by another set of like doors, set in the north wall of this area.

Illumination in this large octagonal room seems to come from everywhere — ceiling, walls, floor — a milky radiance which gives a dim and eerie glow to the whole scene. The floor of this place is 15' below the level of the normal dungeon floor, with short broad stairways leading to it. The ceiling vaults to a height of 40 feet. The walls and floor of the room are of polished gray stone with whorls of glittering mica; the floor is partially obscured by swirling, eddying, softly glowing mist. In the center of the area is a great pierced square of bronze, ten feet on a side. A dome is pierced in the northern ceiling, a circular shaft some 20 feet wide opening directly over a pit of the same diameter and five feet depth. Immediately to the south of the pit is a block of alabaster two feet wide, four feet high, and eight feet long. Atop it are two knives and a bowl of finest crystal. Ranking the pit are two crystal braziers, suspended from tripods by chains of silver. Each emits a faint sickly-sweet perfumed smoke. The doors to the north are bronze, sealed with iron, chained, barred, and bear a warning inscription in runes of some sort.

The altar stone and crystal service pieces are protected by a special glyph of warding suitable to the place. They cannot be safely touched unless the symbol of the Air Temple is worn and the glyph name, whah-duh, is spoken. Failure in either requirement causes a whirlwind to suddenly form and spin from the pit to the altar, inflicting 12 points of damage to each creature within ten feet of its path (save vs. spells to take half damage). This also triggers an alarm; the whole area gives off an evil-sounding chiming and tinkling, and the guardian is summoned

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On Early Tropes, Treacherous Prisoners

Did somebody who appears non-threatening show up? Do they make overtures of being helpful?

Clearly they are a were-wolf/cultist/vampire/doppleganger/evil thief and must be slain on sight.

This trope is overused way past the point of burnout.

The original use of this trope dates back to Greyhawk.

"Back in the Greyhawk dungeons, Erac's Cousin and the fighter Ayelerarch came upon a beautiful face that cried golden tears. The face told the adventurers the tale of his imprisonment and the heroic deeds required to release him. The adventurers agreed to recover The Urn of Moon Dust from a group of werebears. Erac’s Cousin and Ayelerach successfully recovered the urn, and to complete the quest, they sprinkled the moon dust on the weeping visage. The face was actually the demon prince of deception, Fraz-Urb'luu, who had been imprisoned by the mad arch-mage Zagyg centuries earlier. The completion of the quest resulted in his release. When he came to his proper form the adventurers attacked the fiend to try to undo their foolishness. The enraged demon fought back fiercely. In desperation Erac's Cousin used a gate spell from a scroll he had and managed to gate in the god Zeus, but to their shock and horror, the god chose to ignore their plea for help. The demon then whisked himself and the adventurers back to his own plane where strange forces there drained the magic from all the items Ayelerach and Erac's Cousin were carrying, including Erac's Cousin's prized Vorpal Blades. Fraz-Urb'luu quickly subdued the stranded adventurers and they suffered unspeakable tortures at his hands before they eventually managed to escape. 
Erac's Cousin blamed the gods for the suffering he had endured at the demon’s hands, and for the loss of his prized items. He bitterly turned his back on the good powers he had paid homage to in the past, and instead chose for himself a path of evil. The unnamed wizard called upon the archfiend of Hell, Asmodeus, and a pact was made. The one-time powerful force for good, was now one of Hell’s greatest champions. To aid in his endeavors, and as part of their pact, Erac's Cousin was given an imp as a familiar. He does not trust the imp though, and he fears Asmodeus may have deceived him somehow." -Scott, Sep 28, 2007 at 12:15pm, Doomsday Message Board

But this is far, far and away from the only time this trope is used:

"XIII: The room has its own lighting and shows an area filled with cushions of satin and silk. There are no other apparent exits from the room and players can see a winged woman asleep on one of the cushions in a far corner.
ON CLOSER INSPECTION: If the room is paced out, it is forty feet east and west by sixty feet north and south. The female has a belted dagger and no other article of clothing.
NOTES FOR THE REFEREE: The being is an Erinyes devil (HP: 48; #AT: 1; D: 1-4 with venom dagger; AC: 2; SA: Save versus poison dagger) and will sleep unless she is purposely wakened or a loud noise is made in the room. When wakened gently, she will seem kind and ask one of the players to release her from her bondage. All characters will notice a silver chain on her ankle (hidden by a pillow until then). The chain can be easily cut and she will promise anything to get it off. When released, she will try to kill the whole group and will follow them everywhere in this attempt.
" —The Mansion of Mad Professor Ludlow, Dragon #42

"Priest: The western portion houses the jovial priest who is taking advantage of his stopover at the KEEP to discuss theology with learned folk and to convert others. Everyone speaks well of him, although the two acolytes with him are avoided, as they never speak - the priest says they must follow vows of silence until they attain priestly standing. His well-appointed chambers are comfortably furnished and guests are always welcomed with a cozy fire and plenty of ale or wine. The priest is a very fine companion and an excellent listener. He does not press his religious beliefs upon any unwilling person. He is outspoken in his hatred of evil, and if approached by a party of adventurers seeking the Caves of Chaos, he will certainly accompany them. . . (Note: All are chaotic and evil, being in the KEEP to spy and defeat those seeking to gain experience by challenging the monsters in the Caves of Chaos. Once in the caves the priest will use a cause light wounds (does 2-7 points of damage to the creature touched, a normal “to hit” roll must be made to touch the victim) or a light spell as needed to hinder and harm adventurers. Betrayal will always occur during a crucial encounter with monsters.)"—B2: Keep on the Borderlands
"The prisoners, thirteen in number, are ragged and beaten looking. Eleven of these are common folk, both male and female . . .  while one of the remaining two is a 4th level fighter (hp 20) who will join the party if equipment can be provided for him. The remaining slave is actually a doppelganger . . . who, when accidentally captured by the orcs, decided to pose as a slave while preying on any creature he could find. At times when he is unobserved, he will attempt to slip free of his bonds and hunt for prey."—A1: Slave Pits of the Undercity

And even:

"Roadside Hospitality When the caravan reaches its stopping point for the night, two buxom twin sisters are there ahead of them, setting up camp and tending to their horses. Arietta and Zelina Innevar take a liking to some of the travelers—possibly, but not necessarily a few of the characters—and spend the evening asking about their past, where they're headed, and whether they have family and so on. The sisters are actually two doppelgangers. They can either attack someone that night or in the caravan for a few days while they study the travelers and choose their victims. When the time comes to strike, they wait until after dark, then try to lure their target away from other people by calling for assistance in a familiar voice. Fortunately for the characters and their fellow travelers, if one is defeated, the other flees in a flurry of curses and vengeful threats." - Horde of the Dragon Queen, Episode 4

So, it's not a surprise, really.  There are more examples from the original Temple of Elemental Evil, to just about any product published anywhere. You know what would be a surprise? Completely innocent innocents. Or innocent monsters who are openly monsters but don't want to fight the party. Or anything but another doppelganger/evil thief/succubus.

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On 10 feet and a Morale Check away from a Capitol Massacre

Trigger warning: Child abuse, brutal murder, gunshot death, death threats, video of violent and racist language

I don't hate anyone. Except maybe my mother, but she pushed me down the stairs when I was just a few years old, and I'm not even sure I hate her. 

I try, very hard, to not believe anything. I've attached a little chart, with an arrow pointing to where I am. The whole chart is here

This means a lot of things. Schitzotypal people may not experience the emotion of loneliness. They have trouble with emotional regulation. Also, and most importantly for this—They can have no concern for social norms and ingroup behavior. 

This is why a conservative said that "[Courtney] is one of the bad guys" and liberals say "You have a history of supporting "blue lives matter"" or that "[Courtney] is an MRA." I had never even met the guy who accused me of being a "blue lives matter" person, but they were being fed quotes and information by someone else. Some guy this week said to me he doesn't support people who hate him. How did they get the idea that hate was in my heart?

When one is observational and non-judgmental in their writing, frequently people see what they wish to see reflected. People cannot help but have their own biases that influence the things they consume.  It requires constant effort and supervision to have the discipline to avoid falling prey to groupthink, propaganda, and manipulation. No one is immune. This week, a video was shown that reinforced my belief, and it wasn't until someone checked my comment that the due diligence was done to discover it was propaganda, a falsehood presented that spoke to my wishes and not the truth. People who think they are immune or too smart are the most vulnerable. The ego seeks to protect itself. Someone who doesn't conform is always a threat to that. 

People know very little. I can speak effectively on just a few topics. Dungeons & Dragons. Mental health, hospital administration, and government oversight of hospitals, I posses some training and education in painting, ink drawing, technical and creative writing and movies. Recreationally I can speak somewhat authoritatively about game and tabletop design. That's it. Of course opinions are possessed, but that's what they are.

This is not supposed to happen—I'm supposed to keep my mouth shut and keep from alienating people.

Murder on the Capitol Steps

But I've spent the last year watching cops beat people to death, and then watching people beat cops to death this week. This is a link to ideologically possessed American citizens beating a Iraqi war-veteran Capitol police officer to death (Caution: Video of brutal murder), while people in militarized camouflage enter into a building. Here's a different perspective of the same murder. Here's a video of completely overwhelmed officers telling people they can't come in while people file past them. Here's a video of a black police officer taunting people away from the senate room. And here's the video where that same door, locked only seconds after he passed was broken through. (Caution: Fatal Gun Violence)

The door broke open, and a female veteran was shot, one time by a secret service agent, after which the morale broke. If it had not; even if there were a dozen men with pistols, they would have been over-run. That gunshot likely stopped the murder of many more of our political leaders that day.

We are at the start of a journey. There were "only" five deaths at the Capitol on 1/6/21. Since then, one officer has committed suicide, (you can watch the spread of suicide grow from ~13 out of every 100,000 in 2011 to over 20 out of every 100,000 in 2020 here, a 150% increase in suicide rates.) . Tent cities are springing up around our nation and food banks are running out of food and hospitals are overflowing. This is not a sign that this is going to end. After all, it didn't magically end when they imprisoned Hitler after he tried the beer hall putsch. He just wrote Mien Kampf in prison and then committed the fucking holocaust

Whether he is impeached or not, put in prison or not, Trump is going to start a news network. 

Government, so my reading of western historians and philosophers have told me, is about balancing personal liberty with the needs of the state. You see, those are the two sides of the coin, Conservative and Liberal. There are endless nuances of course, but claiming one is terrible or the enemy or is evil has nothing to do with the actual management of human beings. 

To Wit: Nurses and aides have helped many people with dementia walk to the bathroom and held them up and cleaned them while they purged their bladder and bowels, measuring the output as they are helped back to bed. Health workers spend time with women in groups helping them process their abuse and rape and post-partum depression. A group of therapists do a therapeutic restraint on a child who's acting out so he can get a hug or some physical contact, because between the fetal alcohol syndrome and delayed development, he has no way to process watching his father choke his mother to death on a boat sitting on the Kuskokwim. I can never unhave these memories.

None of those things above have anything to do the needs of the state. The state can do anything they want in response to those situations. In the United States, the metric of federal funding is primarily what costs the least. Seven million a year for a treatment center is cheaper than the social cost of police, fire, and ambulance services for not addressing the social issues. In some rich first world countries the metric is social good. In Nazi Germany, these people were simply gassed and killed. The people choose or abstain.

We don't know anything. Why, even though we don't know anything, do we not believe the propaganda about the election being "stolen"? Well, because I've spent time working with government employees. The people who are asked to provide evidence, set up a website where all of their verifiable data can be found. Then on camera they admitted that there is fraud in every election, and itemized every item that was fraudulent, and "unknown". Then they specified the agencies that were looking into that fraud. They filmed the entire voting count process, and everyone who's watched the whole sixteen+ hour video is confident of its security. Conversely, the people claiming election fraud filed 62?! lawsuits, 61 of which they lost. 

Anyone who has spent any time with lawyers and the court system, knows that even before trial, people are required to submit evidence. This isn't one single court. 61 out of 62 times in dozens of different states these cases were dismissed, thrown out, or otherwise removed. Is it possible that this is some sort of nationwide conspiracy of primarily conservative judges who have been baffled by some deep state shenanigans? It's possible for frogs to fall out of the fucking sky, but it ain't very likely, you know? In your experience are judges and lawyers the type to screw around with the law they have devoted their lives to?

There was months to present and collect evidence, and none was ever presented. So likely not, yeah? It seems equally unlikely that anti-fascist actors were engaged in a false flag operation with trump tattoos, long beards, to disrupt an election they won. It's farcical on the face of it. 

What is clear, is that modern fascism isn't ordered marches, posters, and 'youth camps', it's anti-vaxx stories on facebook, shared and reshared in mom groups many of whom haven't learned critical thinking skills, or have them impaired due to fear of something happening to their children. It's propaganda networks that have let fascist and racist ideology grow, to the point where slavers flags, people wearing shirts that celebrate Auschwitz and a shirt that says six million dead humans wasn't enough stained the sanctity of our capitol. 

It took 157 years, but the confederacy finally had their flag flown in the seat of democratic power. It makes me physically ill that the 620,000 civil war dead are disgraced with that blasphemy. 

Conservatives aren't the enemy. Liberals aren't the enemy. Extremists, fascists, and racists are. Posting this  makes me a target for a future fascist takeover. Because I've associated with conservatives I'm already a target for a future Communist takeover. It would be best if I didn't say anything. What are we going to do with these propaganda networks and this frustration and hate and misery? I don't have the solution, But I know that staying silent isn't it. 

First they came for the democrats, and. . . well, even though I'm a registered independent and have run as a green party candidate for local office, I'm going to speak up.

You should too. 

Human rights activist Peter Tatchell states that going against people who have different views and challenging them is the best way to move forward. He told Index: “Free speech does not mean giving bigots a free pass. It includes the right and moral imperative to challenge, oppose and protest bigoted views. Bad ideas are most effectively defeated by good ideas – backed up by ethics, reason – rather than by bans and censorship.” - LGBTQ and Human Rights activist Peter Tatchell

Hi. If you'd like to discuss this, you can visit me on Discord, Twitch, or Patreon. There, we can talk about how my clinical paranoia intersects with the actual non-imaginary groups of harassers who threaten me on the regular because I live in their head, rent-free. This is not a normal post! I mostly post great art and D&D content. I'm also a patriot that loves my country, even though it is horribly flawed. As Anne Frank said, we are a bundle of contradictions. There is hope. If someone doesn't like me because of what I wrote here, I don't want to be liked by them.

Hack & Slash 

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On the 10 (ish) Best Versions Of Dungeons and Dragons

You would think that would be a totally insane topic for a blog post. And yet somehow, the problem is chopping it down to 10!

10.) Adventurer, Conqueror, King: Taking the greatest gaming system of all time (B/X) and reconfiguring it to make sure the math makes sense all the way up to the domain level?

9.) Basic Fantasy: It isn't just the B/X inspired simple gameplay, or the modified sections such as race and class, it's the ridiculously supported online download section.

9.) Ambition & Avarice: This is the third wave OSR, the new wave. Taking modern design and layout sensibilities to a new product based on an old idea, comes a game that is really a fresh look.

8.) Castles & Crusades: D20 D&D simplified? It's greatest strength is that any d20 material requires no conversion. Fast, and the SEIGE system is pretty ingenious.

7.) Labyrinth Lord: The Gold standard in free retro-clones. One minor advantage over B/X is that all the text is in one book. Of course all the XP tables are redone. Labyrinth Lord compatibility is code for "This is compatible with D&D!"

7:) Lamentations of the Flame Princess: A beautiful treatise on the nature of Dungeons & Dragons. A smooth, intuitive ruleset. No hiccups, no bumps. Great for lower power, real world, weird campaigns. Metal artwork. The edition everyone loves to hate.

6.) Dungeon Crawl Classics: The edition of the game Goodman wants to play! Weird dice and weirder random tables makes, much like the game it ties with, for a game focused on "A good time at the table!" rather than rules that conceptually make sense or focus on verisimilitude.

6.) Advanced Dungeons & Dragons: "Random chance plays a huge part in everybody's life." -Gary Gygax

5.) Original Dungeons & Dragons: Well, if this doesn't inspire you to do your own imagining. . .

4.) Pathfinder: This is the present of gaming. Pathfinder players are possibly the largest group of publicly playing players of any edition, ever. How's that OGL working out for you now, WotC?

3.) BECMI: The version they won't put into print, because no one will ever need another version of D&D again!

2.) Hackmaster 4e: The first original retroclone does Dungeons & Dragons better than nearly any version ever released. Really! It is the greatest!

1.) Basic/Expert: There is no version that is both a better introduction to role-playing, an effective tool for use while playing, and something that supports your imagination.

This post was originally published on 8/30/13. If it were written today, Old School Essentials and Mork Borg would probably be on the list. There are still a lot of people playing Pathfinder, but fifth edition Dungeons & Dragons has taken it over! Support me on Patreon and help 2021 be a better year for having each other in our lives! This post is thick with affiliate links. 

On Classic Classes: Dandy


The Dandy is an adventurer who has no need for money. They are used to moving among high society and receive a +1 to all social rolls among high class people, kings, nobles, and other well off types. They receive a similar penalty to charisma checks among low-lifes, thugs, and criminals. 

If the Dandy is wearing clothing and jewelry of value greater than 10 times their level in gold pieces, they may apply their Charisma bonus to their Armor Class as if it was a Dexterity bonus to Armor Class (i.e. 13+ is a 1 point bonus, 16+ is a 2 point bonus, etc.). This is in addition to their Dexterity bonus to Armor Class. 

If a Dandy is present and involved in both for looting and sale of an item, they can gain a 10% bonus to the amount of gold received. This also increases appropriate experience gained for selling the item. They have the ability to appraise treasure and identify magic items on a 1-4 on a 1d6. At level five, this becomes 1-5 on a 1d6, and a Dandy of name level can automatically appraise and identify items. 

As long as the Dandy is in his home area, he receives an income of 10 gp per month per level from investments. (e.g. a third level Dandy receives 30 gp/month in income). Every time a Dandy gains a level, they also receive 100 gp per level in items or gifts. This could be a single gift from a noble, a variety of small gifts and trinkets, or even a small magic item. The Dandy can make known what they would like by dropping hints, but the final decision is the Dungeon Masters. 

The dandy receives a 90% reduction in cost associated with hiring henchmen (retainers). This does not apply to their ongoing cost, such as shares of treasure and such. Their level is treated as one higher for henchmen (retainer) level that will follow the Dandy i.e. they will not abandon the Dandy until they are one level higher than the Dandy. This plus their high charisma is the strength of the class, they can attract powerful and loyal followers. 

At third level, the dandy gains the ability to Open Locks and Pick Pockets as a thief two levels lower than the Dandy. This ability increases as the Dandy gains levels. 

They fight as a thief and save as a Dwarf/Halfling. The prime requisite for the Dandy is Charisma and if the Dandy has a Charisma of higher than 13, they gain bonus experience. 

They can wear no armor and use no shields, but can use any light weapon and firearms (if available) .
LevelTitleExp. PointsHit Dice123456
3Man about Town2,0003d6
5First Class8,0005d6
1010th level Dandy300,0009d6+1
1111th level Dandy450,0009dX+2
1212th level Dandy600,0009dX+3
1313th level Dandy750,0009dX+4
1414th level Dandy900,0009dX+5

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On Reader Mail, The Mystery of % in lair

Brian writes:

"I'm having trouble (maybe) wrapping my mind around AD&D (1e) Wandering Monsters and the percentage chance of finding a monster in it's 'Lair'. Are the Wandering Monsters only supposed to be monsters that have lairs within the dungeon? Is the '% in Lair' the chance that when a monster is encountered it is encountered in its lair, or is it the chance that after finding a monster's lair that the monster will be present (as opposed to wandering the dungeon or doing whatever else monsters do)?

It seems like there should be some correlation between the two, but I have so far been unable to find this correlation either explicitly stated or refuted."

Yeah, it's confusing.

Original procedures of play are what dictated the usefulness of this statistic. When you have a random encounter in the wilderness, is the creature wandering or did you discover the creature at its lair? It doesn't take any valuables with it out and about; at home you'll find greater riches with a consummate increase in danger!

It is never a chance that a lair is found empty. It is possible to find an empty lair, it is never found using % in lair. First you roll to discover that you have an encounter, and since you always encounter a monster, you won't encounter an empty lair, randomly, per the procedure.

That's the short version. The work is shown below:

The text of the 1st edition Monster Manual states:

"% IN LAIR indicates the chance of encountering the monster in question where it domiciles and stores its treasure (if any). If a monster encountered is not in its lair it will not have any treasure unless it carries 'individual' treasure or some form of magic. Whether or not an encounter is occurring in the monster's lair might be totally unknown to the person or persons involved until after the outcome of the encounter is resolved."

This indicates that the encounter happens before the lair determination. This leaves us with a lot of questions. Does this affect the number of monsters? Is this related to just wilderness travel or also dungeon exploration?

Arneson goes into more detail in the Judge's Guild product, the First Fantasy Campaign.

The text indicates to me he might have been a little compulsive. He determined the contents of all the hexes ahead of time. Each hex had an average of two encounters, achieved by rolling a d6 and ignoring results of six. This indicates the number of encounters in the hex. Then the types of encounters those are were indicated by random rolls on the wilderness tables.  If a monster came up more than once, it was a larger group. This indicated the type of encounters in the hex.

The % in lair was used as above. When an encounter is indicated, you roll to determine if you encounter the monsters wandering or in their lair. However, only part of the total group of monsters would be inside the lair at any given time, indicated by rolling 1d6x10%, and subtracting from 100. There's another system in place to determine where those other monsters are in relation to the lair.

The interesting thing about this is that the % in lair roll determines the players location within the hex, which seems somewhat strange. This resolves itself nicely when the whole thing is taken as a procedure to describe an activity abstractly for the purposes of a game.

The relevant text from the FFC is quoted below:

"Outdoors in Blackmoor Travel from one perilous adventure to another in a neighboring Castle can result in a great deal of frustration of the players, or al least confusion, as the road is always populated by evil creatures. After all it is supposed to be some sort of civilization and it must have some form of communications, if for no other reason than to move all the treasure around from Castle to Castle. With a little work, the Outdoor adventures can be enjoyable, and the format of an overall campaign, can lead to the pacification of area over time.
To reflect the above. the Judge should grid off the map into Sectors, also called Hexes or Squares. Each of these hexes will contain some adventures which may range from a Monster holed up in a small cave to an abandoned Castle full of Orcs. A chart is provided for laying out the basics of the area and can be modified to suit the individual taste of the Judge and his eagerness to lay out all the needed work. Each square should contain in average of say, two encounters (assuming 10 miles by 10 miles), determined by rolling 1 six-sided dice (upon a roll of six would mean that there are no adventures in the square). This will determine how many encounters live in the area.
For each encounter, consult the Encounter Matrix for the type of creature that lives at each spot. Whenever there is an encounter in the area, in the future, il will be restricted to one of those already present (see advanced method for other results). If there are four encounters you roll a four-sided die to determine which of the four has been found, all other details having already been worked out. The normal chances of the creature being in it's lair are worked out as they normally are. So if Encounter six has a 30% chance of being found in it's lair, then that percentage is used and the number of Creatures encountered will then be any number up to the total number present in the hex. Again to avoid confusion, you may wish to take the maximum number of creatures that is(sic) listed on the Monster Matrix to representative of the population in the hex for each encounter, given a plus or minus 10% to keep the players on their toes.
For each time that the creatures are found in their lairs, there will be a chance that a portion of them are out in the countryside. To determine this number, assume that 40% of the population is always in the camp and that up to 60% (10 - 60%) are always outside of the camp. Roll a die again and see how many miles (1 - 6 miles) they are away from the camp. On a roll of six. the creatures outside of camp are in two equal sized groups and you would roll again to determine how many miles away they are.
Note: Whenever sixes appear again, divide that proportion of the creatures in half again and roll for their positions. In this way, In original group of creatures starting at, say, 50 strong could first divide into two groups of 25, then 12, then 6, etc.. . .
" -First Fantasy Campaign

Note that this means a lot of important things. First, if you encounter a monster not in the lair, the ability of a character to track allows you to locate the lair, which in many other cases would be unfindable. This is particularly true of single powerful creatures like medusa and other large predators that are small in number discovered entirely outside of their lair. After all, 10% of 3 manticores is 0 manticores.  The method above allows one over time to clear out the dangers in a hex. Unsurprisingly he immediately begins describing a process to simulate population growth and monster migration to the hex after the above section.

But wait, there's more!

"TREASURE TYPE refers to the table which shows the parameters for various types of valuables which the monster in question might possess. If individual treasure is indicated, each individual monster of that type will carry, or possibly carry, the treasure shown. Otherwise, treasures are only found in the lairs of monsters, as explained above." - Monster Manual 1st edition

So in addition to only possibly finding the monster in the lair, there's only a possibility of treasure actually being in the lair. This is of course in conflict with Moldvay who redefines the procedure, removing the % in lair entirely and suggesting that treasure be given out proportionally to the monsters encountered, though this might be expected based on the basic rules focus on dungeon crawling.

Expert Dungeons & Dragons also has wilderness encounters, though no mention is made of how to randomly find lairs. There are several references to lairs and suggestions that the Dungeon Master should design several generic lairs ahead of time if one is encountered, but no random generation of lair encounters. It does note that as many as five times of the normal number of monsters show up in lairs, along with the advice that the Dungeon Master should tailor the encounter to their players. Of course this is in theme with the advice given to Dungeon Masters:

"'But I rolled it!' A common mistake most DMs make is to rely too much on random die rolls. An entire evening can be spoiled if an unplanned wilderness encounter on the way to the dungeon goes badly for the party. The DM must use good judgment in addition to random tables. Encounters should be scaled to the strength of the party and should be in harmony with the theme of the adventure." - Expert Rulebook, Page X59

The advice given in B/X (Basic/Expert) concisely communicates the volume of material written in the OSR about how to play, making it a larger part about why it's such a superior version of Dungeons & Dragons.

Random monsters are just that, random encounters with monsters, whereas wandering monsters are encounters with monsters that live nearby.

The relevant text is located here:

"Encounters: A 'monster' can be a kindly wizard or a crazed dwarf, a friendly brass dragon or a malicious manticore. Such are the possibilities of encounters in dungeon, wilderness, or town. Chance meetings are known as encounters with wandering monsters. Finding a creature where it has been placed by the referee is usually referred to as a set encounter.
 Wandering monsters can be totally random or pre-planned. A party wandering in the woods outdoors or on a deserted maze in the dungeon might run into nearly any sort of monster. If the woods were the home of a tribe of centaurs, or the dungeon level one constructed by a band of orcs, certain prescribed encounters would randomly occur, however. At prescribed intervals, your DM will generate a random number to find if any meeting with a wandering monster occurs. . . .
 Set encounters are meetings with monsters placed by your DM. All such encounters will be in, or near, the monster's (or monsters') lair; so, unlike encounters with wandering monsters, these incidents promise a fair chance for gain if the monster or monsters are successfully dealt with. A successful expedition usually is aimed at o particular monster or group of lairs discovered during previous excursions Note: a lair is wherever the monster dwells - even such places as a castle, guard house, temple or other construction.
" - Player's Handbook, 1st Edition, page 103

In conclusion, come up with a system that works for you, that puts the needs of the game and gameplay first, using the available resources as tools. In my personal experience, limiting the different types of encounters in an area to a bell curve from 2-6 to 2-8 will do the most to provide a strong character to an area.  

Thanks for writing in. Questions can be sent to campbell at oook dot cz.

This article was originally published on 7/13/15. Support me on Patreon and help 2021 be a better year for having each other in our lives!

On Classic Classes: Abjurer

The race as class presented in Basic/Expert (Old School Essentials) is not a limitation, but rather a guide on how to model and create classes for players. 

The abjurer is a special focus of wizards who specialize in defensive magic and wards. Abjurers may add spells from the abjurer spell list through spell research. (p. X51) 

The prime requisite for Abjurers is Constitution. An abjurer with a Constitution score of 13 or higher gains a bonus to experience. 

Abjurers fight as magic users and save as a dwarves/halflings. They can wear non-metallic armor and shields.  They can use staves, daggers, and cudgels. They have an inability to use ranged weapons, and receive a -2 to hit with any ranged or thrown weapon.

Abjurers may create any magic items at 10th level or above, though they are able to create bracers, rings, and other magic items of protection and warding at 6th level. The prime requisite for Abjurers is Constitution. An abjurer with a Constitution score of 13 or higher gains a 

Level Title Exp. Points Hit Dice 1 2 3 4 5 6
1 Guard 01d4 1
2 Recanter 2,500 2d4 21
3 Bulwark 5,0003d4 22
4 Restricter 10,0004d4 32
5 Shieldweaver20,0005d4 32 1
6 Interdictor 40,0006d4 432
7 Obstructer 80,000 7d4 4 3 2 1
8 Obviator 120,000 8d4 4 3 2 2
9 Shieldwall 200,000 9d45 3 2 2 1
10 Abjurer 280,000 10d4 5 4 3 3 1
11 11th Abjurer 360,000 10d4+2 6 4 3 3 1 1
12 12th Abjurer 440,00010d4+47 4 3 3 2 1
13 13th Abjurer 600,000 10d4+6 8 5 4 3 2 2
14 14th Abjurer 800,000 10d4+8 8 5 5 4 3 3

Abjurer Spell lists
First Level Abjurer Spells
1. Detect Magic
2. Floating Disc
3. Hold Portal
4. Light
5. Protection from Evil
6. Shield
7. Read Languages
8. Read Magic
9. Alarm
10. Verminward
11. Aegisward
12. Armor

Second Level Abjurer Spells
1. Protection from Poison
2. Protection from Plants
3. Protections from Birds
4. Everwatching Skull
5. Magic Missile Reflection
6. Protection from non-magical gas
7. Stunning Shield
8. Cloak of Warding
9. Invisiblity
10. Mirror Image
11. Wizard Lock
12. Sanctuary

Third Level Abjurer Spells
1. Protection from Evil 10' Radius
2. Nondetection
3. Protection from Normal Missiles
4. Gust of Wind
5. Protection from Undead
6. Protection from Fire/Cold
7. Dispel Magic
8. Glyph of Warding
9. Counterspell
10. Magic Circle
11. Resistance to Elements
12. Wall of Ice

Fourth Level Abjurer Spells
1. Minor Globe of Invulnerability
2. Remove Curse
3. Banishment
4. Private Sanctum
5. Death Ward
6. Stoneskin
7. Freedom of Movement
8. Minor Spell Turning
9. Protection from Elements
10. Wall of Fire
11. Wall of Force
12. Poison Ward, 10' Radius

Fifth Level Abjurer Spells
1. Avoidance
2. Dismissal
3. Invulnerability to non-magical weapons
4. Lower Resistance
5. Protection from Elements 15' Radius
6. Planar Binding / Dimensional Anchor
7. True Form
8. Spell Invulnerability
9. Spell Shield
10. Sphere of Environmental Protection
11. Spell Absorption (as Counterspell, but absorb the spell)
12. Blade Barrier

Sixth Level Abjurer Spells
1. Antimagic Shell
2. Globe of Invulnerability 
3. Repulsion
4. Spell Turning
5. Wizard Seal
6. Blade Barrier
7. Mind Blank
8. Spiritwrack
9.  Forbiddance
10. Guards & Wards
11. Break Enchantment
12. Undead Bulwark

Aegis-ward (Abjuration)
Level 1
Components: V, S, M (10gp of silver dust)
Range: Touch
Casting Time: 1 Turn
Duration: Till dismissed or broken.
Area of Effect: One Creature

This allows the abjurer to create a magical ward that protects a creature. It takes 10 gold pieces of silver dust in order to create a ward. While under the effect of this ward, the target gets a +1 to saves for every 4 levels of the spellcaster (minimum +1) and protects the wearer for 2 hit points of damage per level of the caster. (An eighth-level casters Aegisward would provide a +2 bonus to saves and absorb 16 hit points of damage) A creature can only be under the effect of one Aegisward at a time. It lasts until dismissed, dispelled, or it absorbs the full amount of damage. 

Stunning Shield (Abjuration)
Level 2
Components: V, S, M 
Range: 0
Casting Time: 3 
Duration: 1 turn/level or broken.
Area of Effect: Self

The target is covered in a shield that provides a +1 bonus to armor class and saves. If attacked, the target must make a saving throw versus paralyzation or become stunned for 2d4 rounds. After this attack, the shield is discharged.

Cloak of Warding (Abjuration)
Level 3
Components: V, S,
Range: 0
Casting Time: 3 
Duration: 1 rnd/level or broken.
Area of Effect: Self

Upon casting this spell, the caster is wreathed in force that absorbs 3d4 points of damage + 1d4 points per caster level. It deflects attacks until depleted or the duration expires.

Sphere of Environmental Protection (Abjuration)
Level 5
Components: V, S, M
Range: 0
Casting Time: 5 
Duration: 24 hours
Area of Effect: Self

An invisible sphere with a 20' radius surrounds the caster. Inside this sphere, the temperature is between 65 and 78 degrees as the caster desires, and no precipitation, dust, or environmental hazards can enter. It provides breathable oxygen as Airy Sphere. This protects the caster from weather between 140 degrees and -40 degrees. It makes the everyone inside immune to harmful gasses and vapors. It does not affect other solid material surfaces, such as magma.

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