Sometimes, you want something weird. In a roleplaying game, there are many things that are to be expected: a seemingly easy task will become complicated, a village full of overly friendly people who invite the PC to stay over night will raise the hackles of players and PC alike and that shiny golden artifact resting on a pillar in the center of an otherwise empty stone hall will be guarded by one trap or the other. Players already made experiences like this before and became experienced. While this is good for them and (for the survival of their PC), it becomes hard to surprise the players with something. And we all love surprises, don´t we? But how to surprise a veteran who knows all the ropes? By throwing something weird at him or her.
Yesterday, I released Ye ol´mad monk which is a single encounter meant to catch the players (and their characters) off guard by introducing them to a weird ol´madman who may or may not have valuable clues to share. The encounter was written as a simple, random table with 30 possible outcomes to the encounter, all of which I share with you here in this blog post.
Still, I suggest you have a look at the PDF. It is pay-what-you-want, so you may basically grab it for free (but remember: everything counts in large amounts). Oh, the encounter and its outcomes where written to be Lamentation of the Flame Princess(tm) compatible. If some of the spell references do not make sense to you, please just grab yourself the free no-artwork copy of their player core book. 🙂
Who is the ye ol´mad monk?
Is this really important? If it is, his name is Wilbur and he used to be a member of party of adventurers, not unlike the PC group. But during their journey, something went wrong. They met something men was not meant to meet and this encounter killed all of Wilbur´s companions and left him mad. Or perhaps it left not only him mad and he is just the only one who survived what happened… or is he…?.
Wilbur is a 1st level cleric with 9 hit points and an AC:12. As he has lost his mind, he stopped praying to his deity and thereby he is not having any spells prepared. But, as something has touched and changed him, he is a source of strange, erratic phenomena all of his own. But those powers are beyond his command, and as much beyond his understanding as the rest of the world now is to him.
…or he is just a lunatic! No matter what he is, he will have been in the town/village for a long time now, and all the inhabitants know him. They can tell that he once arrived in a much better state, together with a group of other strangers.
But when he returned alone a week later, he was in this condition. The kind people give him alms so that he does not starve, but they try to keep away from him out of fear.
01# A golden coin
After he listened to the PC, the old monk reaches into his filthy rags and produces a gold coin, which he hands to the character. It has been minted decades ago and is actually worth 2d6 gold pieces to a collector. But when a character sells it or uses it to pay for something, she will end up cursed. If she gives it away as a gift, the character´s maximum hit points will be permanently increased by +2.
02# A cryptic warning
The PC gets interrupted by the disheveled beggar as she addresses him. Looking straight into her eyes he bellows a cryptic warning to her. The GM should use a possible situation of the adventure to come that includes a Saving Throw vs. Magic or Magic Devices and construct the warning around this situation. If the PC gets into this situation, she will automatically pass the Saving Throw.
The lunatic stares at the PC in confusion, than in disbelieve and shock as she addresses him. Out of a sudden he will wail “Doomed! You are all doomed! Doom is written all over you!!” From that moment on the characters are cursed for the duration of this adventure. In combat, their opponents get to re-roll any damage dice coming up with a “1” or a “2”.
04# The mad grin
The madman just glares at the character, with an insane grin and wide eyes while he moves his head slowly from one side to the other. The PC needs to pass a Saving Throw vs. Magic Devices: on a success the ol´monk will pad him on his shoulder and nod encouraging before he turns and strolls away, and the character will now be able to re-roll the next Saving Throw she fails once. On a failure she will begin to feel unsure and the ol´monk will just shake his head an leave. The PC is going to suffer a (-1) penalty to all rolls in the coming adventure.
05# You might make it…
The filthy old guy nods sadly as he listens to the character and murmurs “…YOU might make it… -might- make it…” before he becomes absent minded and just stays there, repeating the phrase over and over again. The next time the character fails a Saving Throw vs. Death during the coming adventure, the Saving Throw is passed instead.
06# You will die…
See above, but the mad monk will instead tell the character that she is going to die, and the next time the PC passes a Saving Throw vs. Death she will have to re-roll it.
07# Lend me an ear
At first the lunatic will listen to the PC with a friendly smile on his face, but all of a sudden he will grab her head and try to bite her. The character needs to pass a check for Surprise, or the ol´monk will bite one of her ears of!
08# Kiss! Kiss!
The filthy old guy will laugh happily after the PC has finished his sentence, hug the character and kiss her onto both cheeks. This bestows a level 1 Bless spell upon the character.
09# I follow you!
The ol´monk will get a sober and somber look as the character addresses him and will nod to his words (no matter what she says). After the PC finished he will say “alright, I will follow you”. He will insist on doing so, just repeating that “I will follow you, I can help you”. In fact, he will not be overly helpful (see the stats above. He is armed with a simple dagger but will take any weapon he is given) and during the whole adventure their won´t be one meaningful conversation with him. He will constantly murmur, ramble and rant about things that make no sense, but will fight (and die) to protect the characters. The characters cannot send him away, and if they try to use force he will get very upset and work himself into a murderous rage before he attacks the characters to kill them.
All of a sudden the lunatic draws a dagger from under his dirty rags and attacks the character that addressed him. The PC will need to check for Surprise and the ol´monk will fight till he is dead (see stats above).
11# It is dangerous to go there…
“It is dangerous to go there, take this with you!” the old man will say and produce a small silver spoon from his rags. The spoon has nothing to do with the adventure to come and is completely mundane, but is worth two silver pieces.
12# The map
While the PC talks to him the ol´beggar will sneeze, produce an old piece of parchment from his rags, clean his nose with it and then hand it to the character. The parchment is badly stained (and was so even before he was used as a handkerchief) but shows the remains of a hand drawn map. It is up to the GM if this is just so some other map or one that has anything to do with the coming adventure (in which case he should reveal a random part of the map to the characters).
As soon as the PC addresses the lunatic he will scream “Noooo!!!!” and run away in panic, yelling madly. The other people in the town/village take note of this and give the characters a funny look. The PC will from now on have problems when they try to get help in this and all prices will be increased by 10%.
14# If ye talk to the mad…
The rundown beggar will grab the character by the shoulders and continue to ramble and rant while he looks the PC straight into the eyes, so his words do not make sense at all. If the character does not pass a Saving Throw vs. Magic Devices, she will be haunted by the ramblings and will be unable to find sleep for two nights.
15# …but what he said…
See above, but the ol´monk will whisper “Dzji-Ha-nnk´ha!” to the character, repeating it one more time before holding his own mouth shut like in shock. He then runs away and into a nearby street. It is up to the GM if these words have no meaning at all or if they are going to summon a being from another plane when said three times in a row (use the Summon spell to create a being, but it will NOT be under the control of the characters).
16# The whisper
The madmen will beckon the character closer, so that he can whisper into his ear. If the PC allows that the whispered words will put her under the effect of a Chaos spell for the duration of one hour (six turns).
The ol´man will stretch out his hand to the PC, like he would be begging for a coin. If the PC gives him one (or more) he will grin at what he has in his hands and swallow it quickly! After that, he will turn around and stroll away into the next street.
18# Bloody words
The filthy old guy will beckon the character closer, so that he can speak to her without others eavesdropping. If the PC follows the notion the former monk will start to stammer and murmur incoherently, revealing some hints to the adventure to come but will all of a sudden cough violently and spit out blood into the face of the PC. The GM rolls a Saving Throw vs. Poison on the behalf of the character to see if he caught an infection. The illness has an incubation period of two days, an interval of 12 hours, an infection time of three days and its effect is the loss of 1d3 hit points due to coughing up blood. If that seems to harsh (or to complicated), an infected character will start to cough blood the next days, every now and then for a duration of 1d8 hours, losing one hit point each hour.
19# Bad company
The lunatic will not answer the characters but just follow them. He will rant incoherently and curse them from time to time. If the characters do not get rid of him, others will give them a wide berth.
The ol´monk will listen to the PC that addresses him, but will then bite his own tongue off, spit it into his hands and will reach the bloody thing to the character like it would be a gift. If the PC takes the gift and keeps it, the GM should exclude that character the next time that a random PC is determined for something bad to happen.
All of a sudden the ol´monk will laugh madly at the PC that addresses him, and the character needs to pass a Saving Throw vs. Magic Devices to avoid turning away from him in fear. If the Saving Throw is passed and the character decides to laugh along with the madman, she will be under the effect of a Sanctuary spell till she acts violently (but does not know it).
22# Beautiful hair
The madman will stare at the character in befuddlement, before he all out of a sudden reaches out for her tuft. If the PC does not pass a check for Surprise the lunatic will tear out some of her hair, stuff it into his mouth and swallow it.
The filthy beggar just ignores the PC and rambles on. Anything a character tries to do to gain his attention will fail, but if they try to rough him up he will begin to cry like a baby and sullen himself in fear.
The balding man interrupts the character by putting a finger over his lips and hushing her. Doing so she looks at the PC with sad, serious eyes like it would be of grave importance that she shuts up. Then, he will turn away and leave. If the player describes how his character remembers this moment while the PC tries to be stealthy during the coming adventure, the test is passed automatically.
25# Don´t go there!
The eyes of the madman go wide as he says “no… no!no!NO!!!… do´t go there! DON´t go THERE!!!”. He will grab the PC and repeat that while growing more and more upset. If the character does not get rid of him by force, the madman will start to pull at her clothes so viciously that a seam pops.
26# The key
After staring at the PC for a heartbeat, the ol´monk will produce a stained copper key under his rags and hand it over. The key has no use or meaning in the coming adventure.
27# Free hug!
After the PC has addressed him, the monk will smile at her and give her a hearty hug. The character will count as being under the effect of a level 1 Bless spell for the coming adventure, and will be plagued by fleas now.
28# By heart
The downtrodden man will look at the PC, his eyes will widen and his mouth will go agape before he clutches his chest. A moment later, he dies form a heart attack.
29# A kind advise
The madman will stare at the character that addresses him with a pitiful expression in his eyes. Then, he will pull a worn dagger from under his robes and hand it to the character. If the PC takes it, the ol´monk will whisper “go… kill yourself with it…. better that than…”. With these words he turns away sadly, shakes his head and leaves the character alone while he begins to sob.
30# Stay strong!
The lunatic will begin to shake, his face will grow red and suddenly he will grab the character at the shoulders “Remember….! Remember always….! You will succeed when you are strong…. WHEN YOU ARE STRONG!” If the player mentions how his characters remembers this during the course of the coming adventure, the PC will receive the benefits of a level 1 Remove Fear spell.