Sunday, April 18, 2010

Scrabble Monsters

I like randomness.  I like using battlemats.  I like minis.

Sometimes I don't like lugging all my minis along with me.  Sometimes I don't even want to haul my lightweight collection of Cardboard Heroes with me.

Well, I've come up with a solution that you just might like.

Scrabble tiles!

I was able to find a used Scrabble game at my local Goodwill store.  It has no "J" but it was $1.99.  Not bad.  You can also buy a set of replacement tiles directly from Hasbro for $6.50 - includes a bag and 4 racks (might be handy).

I've come up with a quick structure that you can use to plan the monsters for a given dungeon or terrain type.  The structure ties the letters to mnemonic devices that can help you remember what the letters mean when you draw them.  There's plenty of opportunity for improvisation within this system (a feature that I like). When an encounter is called for, I'll just grab a few tiles out of the bag and create an encounter that makes sense.

In the model I propose below, I make the assumption that the first few groups of letters are a "tribe" of humanoids or some other "group" of beings that are loosely organized together.  There are 100 Scrabble letters in the English version of the Scrabble game with a set number of each type of letter.  Those percentages are given below.  YMMV.

Vowels (A, E, I, O, U) 42%
Common thugs; expendible; maybe each letter gives a little clue about how the thugs are a bit different, thus, A=archer, E=experts, I=infiltrators, O=oil throwers, U=uglies(xtra tough)

L, D, R 14%
LDR = leader (these guys are sergeants or minor leaders)  L=large, D=dangerous, R=ranged

W, M, C 6%
WMC = wiz/mage/cleric (spell slingers of some type) W=most powerful, M=middling, C=weakest/common

H, V, Y, F, P 10%
HVYFP = "heavy firepower"; Each of these letters represent significant monsters that can be found 1 or 2 at a time; might or might not combine with the groups above (Vowels, LDR, WMC)

B, G, N, S 15%
BGNS = "big 'uns"; I think these should be significant monsters that can be found in small groups of 2 to 6; the letters *might* have meaning for your adventure; B=brute, G=gross, N=NPCs, S=sneaky

T 6% Treasure or Trap

[Blank] 2%
Wild Card - if you draw this, make something strange and wonderful happen.

J, X, K, Q, Z 5%
Each is a unique one-off encounter, perhaps not even a monster but an event or magical happening.

So, here's a shot at using my system.

AEIOU - Goblins; O=oil lobbers; U=+2 AC from better bits of armor/max hp's
LDR - Hobgoblin leaders; D=uses giant centipede poison on blade; R=has light crossbow
WMC - All are shamans; W=Hobgoblin/cleric; W=Night goblin/wizard
H - Ogre(s)
V - Worg(s)
Y - Giant Centipede(s) (trained by shamans)
F - Firebat(s)
P - Piercer(s)
B - Ghoul
G - Gelatinous Cube
N - NPC Party (roll on table)
S - Giant Scorpion
J - I don't have a J!
X - Strange sounds (roll on table)
K - Magic mouth "Beware the crimson fountain"
Q - Quasit spy for wizard on lower level 
Z - Zombies!



Telecanter said...

I like the mnemonics, that would be essential to not slowing down generation or play. But I especially like that these are two layer mnemonics, very clever.

And I also like the wiggle room, to improv. I might try this with my 2 minute dungeon to flesh out what the encounters are.

The only downside is losing/missing letters. I think my set is missing a K or F. Also, there are normally 12 Es in a set, that's a lot so I would crave something a little more explicit in the mnemonic than expert, maybe Eater? like rats and beetles and stuff?

Great stuff.

Roger the GS said...

Very ... "roguelike" ... of you sir! ;)