I am currently writing on my next Mutant Future(tm) compatible Encounter title, and as usually I am going to include some “harmless” animals. Most encounter lists tend to exclude such, as they are neither a thread nor an obstacle and thereby no worthy addition to the game as such. Right? Well, “wrong”. At least if you ask me. From time to time, it does not hurt to show the players that not everything in the weird, irradiated future is out to smash/eat/infect/puppeteer/!EXTERMINATE! their PC. There ARE critters that do not prey on PC but are just part of the eco system. And sometimes, one just encounters those, too. In my opinion, they help to create a believable, whole world in the mind of the players. And with no further proamble, here you have a collection of harmless critter encounters for rocky badland hills (and a new mutant critter, the Floatgrazer):
(Rather) harmless animals:
4: Wild ponies
6: Termite Hills
7: Ashcoat Deer
Goats, are encountered in groups of 2d6 animals. They are harmless and will flee when approached, 20% are in fact semi-domestic herds that the local Nomads tend to and protect. In that case, two Lvl 1 Nomads (armed with short bows) will confront the characters as soon as they approach the herd (Reaction Roll).
Suricates will watch the characters from hill tops or from the safety of the small holes that lead into their burrows, 2d4 of them will be in sight (but there are usually more nearby). The creatures are very watchful and are usually not seen near predators, encountering Suricates thereby means that the next encounter has a 20% chance of being one with harmless animals as well.
Wild ponies count as 2 HD herd animals [MF p.75]. 2D6+2 will be encountered, and that may very will be the majority of the local population: the humans/humanoids tend to hunt them for food or to capture them in order to turn them into beasts of burden.
Floatgrazers are a bizarre and stable mutation. At a distance, a Floatgrazer looks like a strange floating balloon, but on a closer inspections it turns out to be a grub the size of a human hand with a bulbous, gas filled membrane on its bag which is the size of a medicine ball. The creature floats between one and three feet high in the air and uproots grass, twigs and leaves with two thin, 4´long tentacles at its sides, to stuff those into its busy, mandible-lined mouth. And that is all it does. If it does not cling to a solid object (to “graze” from) it drifts in the wind and waits till it comes near anything edible. The membrane is filled with a gas that it creates by digestion, and it may vent it out of three different openings of the membrane to propel itself away from a danger (but loses altitude while doing so). If the membrane is ruptured, the foul gas forces every other creature within 30´ to pass a Saving Throw versus Poison. Those who pass it are merely stunned for a round, those who don´t will be stunned for 2d6 round as their eyes begin to tear and they begin to wretch. As Floatgrazers make only for a very meager (and unpleasant) meal, they are only attacked by predators that are inexperienced or very hungry.
Termite Hills may be found all over the area, some as large as two men standing side by side: the termite population exploded briefly after the apocalypse, and as it declined again the termite hills remained mostly intact, insect ruins that give testimony of the past glory of an insect civilization (d10):
1-3: Still populated by a termite colony.
4: Damaged by a large beast, and under repair by the termite colony.
5-6: Dead, but largely intact.
7-9: Damaged by large beast, and now dead.
0: Damaged, dead and now home to a Giant Centipede [MF p. 66]
Ashcoat Deer are small post-apocalyptic deer with a mottled coat the color of ash gray, light brown and and sand yellow. These creatures may be encountered in groups of 2d6 and count as HD 1 Herd Animals [MF p.75].
Coyotes in this area are small and often scrawny (between 8 lbs. and 10 lbs). They usually feed on rodents, small mammals and the young, wounded, old or sick of larger herd creatures. And of course, they hunt goats. While they are technically predators, their larger rivals often cull their numbers, as well as the #Nomads and residents human that see in them a threat to their life stock. 1D6 of them will be encountered, and they will give the characters a wide berth.