I like to write random encounter tables. I really do. The inspiration in a nutshell approach one can take with them appeals to me and fits my current (lack of?) writing style. What I am talking about? My latest release, 20 Weird, Irradiated Encounters for a Mutated Post-Apocalyptic Swamp, which I promptly threw onto the Weird, Irradiated Scrap Heap.
Since this shameless house-advertising (SHA) is not what you read my blog for, I copy-pasted the first six of them here (see below). After all, it was time for a new blog post as well.
01# Non-Dangerous Animals (d8)
1# 2d6 large wading birds* that occupy a large, water-covered clearing. There is a 1 out of 6 chance that the PC may surprise them (and thereby have a chance to shoot one or more for dinner. Each of them is equal to two rations once roosted).
2# A large, blue crayfish that moves about in the mud while it is on its way from one body of water to the next. It will put up its pincers as the characters approach, but will be no match for a PC. It is poisonous if eaten raw (class 3 poison, but after cooking it all that a human will suffer is bowel movements and vomiting [which is bad enough: (-1) on all rolls for the rest of the day)].
3# 5d6 tree-dwelling rodents who have build a nest colony in three adjacent trees. They look a bit like rats, but have slender hands (with thumbs) instead of mere paws. They will hiss and yatter to scare the characters away, and even attack those who try to climb up to their globe-like nests (same stats as for a rat swarm), but will flee to the next tree and abandon their young as soon as the first of them are killed.
4# 2d6+2 small deer with mottled, gray-brown-green fur. There is a 1 out of 6 chance that the PC may surprise them (and thereby have a chance to shoot one or more for dinner: each of them is equal to five rations once dressed).
5# 1d8 common ducks* (see wading birds, but each of them is only equal to half a days ration)
6# A 2-foot dragonfly* that will buzz about curiously and will fly in front of a random PC, going face to face. The insect only feeds on other insects and very small game, and is thereby no danger to the PC. It has AC 5 (due to Agility) and will fly away shortly after being attacked. Otherwise, it will follow the characters out of curiosity till the next encounter. If a psychic PC tries to contact it, the mutant will learn that it is about as smart as a house cat, but twice as cruel and curious.
7# A white ooze that the characters encounter near the roots of a dead tree. This thing is completely harmless (it only digests already dead or dying plant-matter), but if the characters have encountered black ooze in the past, they might not be willing to take chances.
8(i)# A giant turtle, about the size of a compact of car. It is intelligent, but does not care about anything but moving, eating, sleeping and not being bothered. If the characters bother it, it will just retreat into its shell (AC: 4).
02# Thick Mud
The part of the swamp the characters currently move through is a knee-deep field of thick mud. The GM should double the travel time for the current section/hex, and at the end of it the PC will be exhausted and need to rest at least a turn or will suffer from a (-1) penalty to all physical activities (including damage dice). A further encounter may be rolled for (to see if the characters encounter something in the thick mud).
03# Gnats, Gnats and…. more Gnats!
There are always gnats and other flying insects in a swamp, but the characters now find themselves beset by a cloud of small bloodsuckers. All characters but plants, robots and mutants with fur must pass a Saving Throw vs. Poison or will begin to suffer from a mild fever after 2d6 rounds (a disease transmitted by the insects, infected characters have to re-roll all successful test for Surprise till they had at least six hours of rest).
04# Monkeys of the Swamp
The characters encounter 1d12 ape-like creatures that seem to be gathering food in the swamp. They are similar to chimpanzee but a bit smaller and with a greenish-brown fur (the green comes from a kind of alga that grows on them and is a additional nutrient supply for these mutant animals). Unless a random roll determines a friendly reaction, the ape/s will try to scare the PC off by yelling and throwing sticks. If encountered in greater number, the apes will even attack (see stats below), but will flee as soon as they lost one of their number. If encountered again after a fight, they will be in a group of 2d6+8 apes, armed with thick tree branches that they swing like clubs. If the first encounter was non-hostile, it will be just another group of 1d12 that will be gathering food in the swamp.
Armor Class: 7
Hit Dice: 2
Attacks: 1; and 1 (punches, and then teeth or just a tree branch)
Damage: 1d4 / 1d4+1 or 1d6+1 (punches; teeth; tree branch)
05# Yellow Spit-Toad
A fat, yellow toad with orange eyes, black spots and the size of a sitting American Pitbull. The creatures is highly poisonous and thereby unafraid of other creatures. If anything comes with 10´range that it feels bothered by (like, a nosy PC) it will attack with a spit of poisonous slime (that this animal mutant developed instead of a large tongue) which is an attack with a class 10 contact poison. The toad is HD 1, AC:9 and may attack 1d4 times before it has no slime left (it will gather a new “load” after one turn).
06# Spearbeak Birds
These are slender, man-sized wading birds, similar to a crane but with ocher-white plumage of the body and black feathers at the head (males only) as well as the end of the wings (both genders). Their most impressive features are their long, rapier-like beaks that they use to hunt fish, and to defend themselves. The birds are rather territorial and will attack on a reaction roll of unfriendly or worse. Otherwise, they will as soon as they feel threatened.
No. Encountered: 1d6
Armor Class: 9
Hit Dice: 1
Attacks: 1 (spear beak)
Damage: 1d6 (half damage if the target wears anything better than leather armor)
Save: L1 Moral: 5