Tuesday, 22 March 2011

An Adventure for Every Monster - Bears

Bear, Brown

Frequency Uncommon
No appearing 1-6
AC 6
Move 12”
HD 5+5
% in lair Nil
Treasure type Nil
No of attacks 3
Damage per attack 1-6/1-6/1-8
Special attacks Hugs 2-12
Special defences Nil
Magic resistance Standard
Intelligence Semi-
Alignment Neutral
Size L (9’ tall)
THAC0 15
XP value 300 + 6/hp

Bear, Cave

No appearing 1-2
AC 6
Move 12”
HD 6+6
% in lair Nil
Treasure type Nil
No of attacks 3
Damage per attack 1-8/1-8/2-12
Special attacks Hugs (2-16)
Special defences Nil
Magic resistance Standard
Intelligence Semi-
Alignment Neutral
Size L (12’ tall)
THAC0 13
XP value 475 + 8/hp

Deep in the forest, something stirs. That something is a small party of the Duke’s men searching for the Duke’s daughter. Several weeks ago, the girl and her carriage and servants vanished on their way through the thick forest on the edge of the Duchy and searchers found the shattered remains of the carriage and servants but no sign of the girl.

More recently, rumours have begun to surface (and been quickly suppressed by the Duke) that his daughter has been seen running naked in the deepest forest, accompanied by a huge hairy man in a similar state of undress. She is clearly affected by some sort of curse or spell which has turned her mind. The Duke has despatched his senior cleric and a small group of retainers and men-at-arms to search out the girl and bring her home for treatment (and while they’re at it, discreetly dispose of the hairy man of the forest). The party have been offered the job of providing extra security and advice, since most of the men-at-arms are more at home on a parade ground and while good with their weapons, have no experience of forests.

DM notes; the truth is, of course, more complex than that. The girl was captured but not by bandits or robbers – the attacker was a were-bear and his form as a huge brown bear, quickly made short work of the servants and horses but carried off the Duke’s daughter instead. When she woke in his forest bower, she saw him in his human form and, as he was so completely unlike the simpering fops she had been presented with as potential husbands, she very quickly fell deeply in love with him. He returned the feeling and soon she shared his affliction too – although she relishes the freedom and strength that she now experiences as a were-bear. She very much wants to have his cubs as well.

It can be seen that she will not come quietly, especially as both she and her lover have the ability to summon other brown bears to their assistance (yes, there are enough within the required distance for this to work).

Also within striking range, in a nearby rocky valley is a rogue cave bear, who is on the prowl looking for females and has taken an interest in the bear pack to which the werebears have attached themselves.

The Duke’s party has no idea of what is waiting for them, thinking that they need only to overcome a wild hermit and subdue the girl until she can be brought to her senses with a simple curing spell.


Frequency Rare
No appearing 1-4
AC 2
Move 9”
HD 7+3
% in lair 10%
Treasure type R,T,X
No of attacks 3
Damage per attack 1-3/1-3/2-8
Special attacks Hugs 2-16
Special defences Hit by either silver or +1 or better magic weapons only
Magic resistance Standard
Intelligence Exceptional
Alignment Chaotic Good
Size L
THAC0 13
XP value 825 + 10/hp

Treasure type R is a high-probability rich end of the spectrum hoard with jewellery and gems thrown in for good measure. T gives us scrolls and X is a high-probability small magic type. I would imagine that the werebear would care little for the coinage, perhaps admiring the gems and bestowing the jewellery on his lady (if she still cared for such). The scrolls would be used in defence if he were attacked whilst in human form. The DM can decide if the werebear thinks it more advisable to transform than remain human and fight that way (he has excellent forest skills, much as a ranger or druid does).

Of course, the bears are not the only hazard to be faced whilst travelling through the forest. The following is a table for encounters of a woodland nature (check either once per day or twice)

1. Landslide – either (1d6 1-3 the path ahead has crumbled away and leaves the party having to turn back or try a very risky way round or 4-6 the terrain above the party comes crashing down on them, with all the hazards that this will entail)
2. Quagmire – the party finds itself stuck in a marshy bog with the following consequences (1d6) 1-2 up to their waists, 3-4 up to their armpits, 5-6 up to their necks. Make a second roll and if a 6 comes up, a deep section of bog has been entered that is deeper than the party is tall)
3. Fallen tree – the path ahead is blocked. The blockage will extend 3d12 feet on either side of the path. The tree can be climbed over but horses and mules will have to be helped over or taken around the obstacle.
4. Wasps! A vicious swarm appears from an old tree stump and attacks the party and their mounts. The horses will panic unless either a ranger or druid is available to control them. Each party member who does not flee will take 1d3 of damage per round.
5. Precipitous slope – the ground pitches almost straight down in front of the party. Each party member must make a Climb Walls roll as if they were a thief of the equivalent level. Failure means the party member in question has plunged 1d30 feet with the appropriate damage when they come to a sudden stop. Horses and other animals will have great trouble descending. There is a 20% chance that searching to either side may reveal a narrow ledge whereby mounts can descend.
6. Woodland shrine, overgrown – either a cave or tumbledown stone walls signal what was once a holy site to a woodland deity. Now it is unused and overgrown but it may still have some lingering power. If the characters are of a diametrically opposed alignment, they will be struck down with a minor malevolent effect from page 162 of the DMG. A minor benevolent effect may be bestowed if the characters are sympathetic to the aims and beliefs of the deity. As mentioned in the DMG, the effects will last 1-4 weeks.
7. Poisonous berries – surely no-one would be so stupid as to eat those brightly coloured berries they can see growing in the bushes. Maybe not, but the horses might decide to try them. Or any other animals the party have with them. All animals that do try them must save vs. poison at +2 on the die or fall deeply unconscious and die within 1d12 hours.
8. Hallucinogenic flowers – as the party pass through this area, they will disturb the pollen of the flowers and this will cause hallucinations, the exact nature of which is down to the DM to decide.
9. Gorge – a deep gash in the ground blocks the way. It is like the precipitous slope except that on the far side of the river or stream at its bottom, there is another slope of similar steepness that needs to be ascended. Again, searching up and down the length of the gorge may find a place that is marginally easier to descend or ascend.
10. Midges! The swarming, biting cloud of insect pests makes the party’s life a misery. Each round that they are in this area, each of them will take 1hp of damage from the midges. All die rolls they have to make will be reduced by 1. Animals will be very bad-tempered and difficult to control.
11. Overgrown battle site – the bones and rusty armour tell a sorry tale of mortal combat and sudden death. Now, they are almost invisible amongst the undergrowth but there is a chance that some of the armour may be useable and a slim chance that some coins or magic may still be obtainable if the party dig hard enough. However, there is also a chance (10%) that the party will disturb something that was not meant to be troubled and a random undead entity will rise up to punish the interlopers (either skeleton, wraith, spectre or ghost)
12. Ancient statue – long-neglected and crumbling with the years, this is nevertheless indicative of something. Whether that something is a ruined mansion, a temple, the entrance to a dungeon complex or just a memorial to a forgotten family member, no self-respecting adventurers would pass it by without checking to see what else is in the neighbourhood. Of course, there is also the chance that it’s a stone golem that is waiting for some kind of trigger action.

I’m thinking of posting this table as a d30 Community Challenge, much like Gorgonmilk’s tables, so put your thinking caps on and see if you can come up with any other non-monster related woodland perils.


  1. I'm really digging it whenever I peek in at this epic series. Even though this week is more about the Lycnathrope, Werebear than the Bear ;) ... I am looking forward to the day (probably 2012 by the looks of it) when you compile and release all these "lairs"...

  2. I hate Bears. I swear I've lost more characters to Bears then any other monster.

  3. Excellent entry! I hope to use most of them at my new campaign.

  4. This post is my favourite in the series yet. Very evocative. Could be placed seamlessly into any campaign. Morally complex as well for the players.
    Fantastic. I hope you do put it into the House Rule wiki

  5. Word verification was Rofflusi
    - a name for your werebear perhaps?