Baseline Tekumel: Monsters

Posted: 11 July 2010 in Settings
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It occurred to me that maybe I’m going about this reskinning the wrong way round. The Dnelu, for instance, behaves much like a giant trapdoor spider. So instead of replacing it with a D&D 4e Deathjump Spider, or a Savage Worlds Giant Spider, maybe I treat its appearance as a trapping, describe it as a Dnelu, and use the stats for the relevant spider. It’d be interesting to see how long it takes the players to figure it out; reading through the original EPT rulebook again, it looks like a lot of them are renamed Original D&D monsters, so there is precedent of a sort.

The other aspect of this is that in listing the EPT monsters for conversion, I noticed a number of them are functionally identical. The Dnelu, for instance, in game terms is not that different from a Zrne, except that the Zrne has a couple more hit dice. Same statblock for both, then.

That finally leads me to the conclusion that I can use much simpler encounter tables, based on the food chain pyramids from 2300AD which require only a 1d10 roll. Almost all areas on Tekumel are teeming with life, and so use all 10 slots on the tables; in addition there will be two types of point producers (e.g. trees) and three types of area producers (e.g. grasses, including the Food of the Ssu on Tekumel).

Teeming Food Chain Pyramid with Earth Examples

  1. 1d6-2 Gatherers (e.g. raccoon)
  2. 1d6 Intermittents (e.g. elephant)
  3. 2d6 Chasers (e.g. wolf)
  4. 1d6 Hunters (e.g. bear)
  5. One Pouncer (e.g. mountain lion)
  6. One Large Chaser (e.g. polar bear)
  7. 1d6 x 1d10 Grazers (e.g. antelope)
  8. One Killer (e.g. shark)
  9. One Large Pouncer (e.g. tiger)
  10. One Hijacker (e.g. T. Rex)

I imagine that in real life one would see antelope more frequently than tigers (although I don’t spend much time in the Big Room With The Blue Ceiling), but the creatures that leap on you roaring are inherently more interesting for players than the ones who run away from you; and Tekumel is deliberately set up as a world where the wilderness is full of hideous beasts hungry for your flesh.

Since the campaign will be based in Jakalla, the most useful encounters tables would be for plains or salt marshes. There’s more plains terrain, so that’s the one to start with, as it will be the most used. After a rummage through the Guardians Of Order Tekumel RPG, and the original EPT rules from 1975, I came up with the following list. You will note that I am unencumbered by considerations of what level the party might be; this is the Tsolyani wilderness, everyone knows it is brutally dangerous, and players are encouraged to remember that they can run, hide and scheme as well as fight.

Tekumel Plains Encounters

  1. 1d6-2 Gatherers: Jakkohl. Small fox-like creature, not really a Gatherer but it’ll do. D&D: Grey Wolf, but reduce level by one. SW: Dog, but with Size -2 and Toughness 3.
  2. 1d6 Intermittents: Chlen. Looks like a six-legged triceratops with three eyes. D&D: Macetail Behemoth. SW: Drake, but lose the Fear and Fiery Breath, and drop the Smarts to d4(A) – chlen are really stupid.
  3. 2d6 Chasers: Hyahyu’u. Big, six-legged wolf with uncanny tactical sense. D&D: Dire Wolf. SW: Dire Wolf.
  4. 1d6 Hunters: Zrne. D&D: Deathjump Spider. SW: Giant Spider, but without web capability.
  5. One Pouncer: Swarm of insects. D&D: Rot Scarab Swarm. SW: Swarm.
  6. One Large Chaser: Feshenga. A giant snake mounted on a centipede chassis. Poisonous bite. D&D: Deathrattle Viper with the speed cranked up to 10. SW: Constrictor Snake, but increase Pace to 10 and swap the Constrict feature in favour of Poison from the Venomous Snake. They’re right next to each other. Go on, you know you want to.
  7. 1d6 x 1d10 Grazers: Nraishu or Nyar. Six-legged deer. D&D: Riding Horse. SW: Riding Horse, but without the Size +2 (reducing its Toughness to 6).
  8. One Killer: Serudla. Picture a six-legged, wingless dragon with two arms at the base of its neck. D&D: Adult Black Dragon, but flightless. SW: Drake, but the breath weapon is actually acidic spittle rather than fire.
  9. One Large Pouncer: Teqeqmu. A flying jellyfish, full of noxious lighter-than-air vapours, armed with poison gas and poison tentacles. Explodes if the gas contacts fire. D&D: Grell, except that the poisonous bite is replaced with a blast of poison gas. SW: Air Elemental, except that it does not have the Elemental, Ethereal or Invulnerability properties, but its Push and Wind Blast attacks are also Poisoned, its Whirlwind attack represents grappling a foe with its tentacles, and it has Slow Regeneration.
  10. One Hijacker: Serudla. See (8) above. The Serudla gets two slots in the table, partly because it’s cool, partly because EPT has nothing suitable for slot 10, and partly because the original EPT encounter tables are crawling with them. I can always retcon it with something else later.

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