My last post was about the Cosmic Cephalopod, the squid-thing that ties all of my settings together. In that post I said traversing the surface of the Cephalopod was absolutely possible. So natural I asked myself what would it be like to traverse the surface of the Cosmic Cephalopod? Interestingly that lead to another question. What hangs out on the Cosmic Cephalopod? Or in other words what kind of shit can PCs encounter traipsing about this octo-god? Naturally that means a wandering monster table.
I have to admit that I'm inexperienced when it comes to wandering monster tables. I come from that generation of DMs that brought encounters with them to the table and when I discovered the OSR I got into the habit of borrowing tables from books. Well I doubt there's a table out there for an infinity-sized nautilus so it's time to but my own spin on the wandering monster table.
The PCs can run into meeks, mooks, henchmen, bosses, meatgrinders and gonzos.
Meeks are absolute trash. They serve no use other than to throw their bodies at the PCs. They usually have d4 hit points, deal d3 damage at best, and have an armor class that even the wizard can beat on average. Meeks are only a threat when their numbers are high because they stand a chance of overwhelming the PCs. For this reason meeks' No. Appearing roll is 3d4. Text book meeks include goblins, kobolds, and commoners.
Mooks are like a meek plus. They're still pretty shit but slightly more deadly. These guys get a whole Hit Die, wield real weapons, and actually wear armor. There's usually 2d4 of them. Mooks include orcs, zombies, and footmen.
Henchmen are badasses. These guys are as tough or a little bit tougher than PCs. Usually their NPCs with class-like abilities and can go mano-a-mano with PCs. Often times they'll have a wild card hidden up their sleeves (poison, magic, items, etc.) Their numbers depend on the PCs but I usually shoot for 4-6.
Bosses fuck the PCs up. They are either hard as hell to hit or tough as nails and their hits can chunk a foo. One is more than enough to threaten a party of PCs. These are the gelatinous cubes, ogres, and warlords.
Meatgrinders are monsters that the PCs stand no chance of survival against conventionally. Combat ain't going to cut it. Now a lot of DMs will throw down a monster that hits like a mac truck or giggles at the PCs crits, expecting the party to run away, and I have to say that isn't my style.
What I tend to go for is intelligent monsters that have a personality—or in other words are interesting.
For example, say the PCs encounter the ghost of a girl who's looking for her lost family. She won't attack the party unless they, like, bully her or attack her, and she might be grateful if you find her family's skeletons and bring her back a skeletal finger or something. Or maybe a djinn looking for his lamp.
Gonzos are batshit insane, fucking weird, and straight out of left-field. Enjoying your fantasy campaign there? Too bad! Now you got to deal with the crew of the USS Enterprise suckas! Go crazy. Tap into the Salvador Dali or Frida Kalo that rests in all imaginations. That or just go with a pop reference
Conveniently there are six of these monster types? Encounter types? Templates? I'm not sure what to call them but anyways. That fits nicely on a d6 which is my go to for a dungeon delve.