1e to 4e: Bringing wandering monsters back into D&D


Random monster encounters played an important role in character advancement in early editions of D&D and in many video RPGs, as this assortment of random monsters for Nintendo’s Dragon Warrior game illustrates. Image copyright strategywiki.org.

While perusing some old .pdfs of legacy edition Dungeons & Dragons modules, I was struck by how common random monster encounter tables were in the old adventures, and was reminded of the prominence of random encounters in the rules themselves. The first edition (1e) Dungeon Master’s Guide had an entire appendix devoted to such encounters, and the 1e Monster Manual II included an index that grouped creatures from three monster volumes by terrain and encounter frequency, to make generating one’s own encounter tables easier.

I was also struck by how such tables are absent in every fourth edition (4e) product I’ve thus far seen.

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