As they are sadly absent from the D&D Essentials Red Box, here’s a Wandering Monster Table for Dungeon Level 1. This is inspired by the one in the Mentzer Red Box and adjusted to accommodate the monsters in the new D&D Essentials version. It’s disappointing there’s no Giant Centipedes, Gecko Lizards, Cave Locusts and Fire Beetles in the newer Red Box, but as it gives me an excuse to throw 1d4 Hulking Zombies at my players, I ain’t complaining.
As with any Wandering Monster Table, use with a pinch of salt and an inch of common sense. They are tools for inspiration first and foremost. That lone Kobold Quickblade you’ve just rolled might be an advance scout or an outcast willing to aid the party, and those 8 Stirges could fly directly overhead, passing the party entirely.
As presented, the Wandering Encounters range in XP/Difficulty from a 100XP speedbump (a single Goblin Cutthroat or the aforementioned Kobold) to an 800XP serious challenge. Alter and fine-tune to taste. Replace any 1 Monster with 4 Minions, and switch out other critters as you wish.
For example, if you roll 8 Grasping Zombies you could replace 4 of them with a Gelatinous Cube and have the Zombies caught inside, their arms flailing out of the ooze toward the heroes!
Likewise, roll 4 Goblin Cutthoats and you could replace them with 2 weak and injured looking Cutthroats and 8 Goblin Snipers (Minion Artillery ftw!) hiding in shadowy alcoves high above. Ouchy.
An Encounter with an NPC Party would be an excellent excuse for a Skill Challenge. Prove your intentions are honourable (or at least, don’t interfere with theirs) to gain foreknowledge about the deeper dungeon. Or kill them and take their stuff. Your call.
The Town Guard encounter could represent hapless Guards sent down to clear part of the dungeon or track down a wanted criminal in hiding. Or they could be corrupt Guards (and a Noble in disguise!) on the way back to the surface. As ever, imagination is the key.
|d20 roll||Monster||# encountered|
|13||NPC Party||1 party|