% In Lair: None

I don’t know if ACKS invented dynamic lairs (a raison d’etre for the otherwise ancient % In Lair), but ACKS is the first game in which I actually used % In Lair. I love dynamic lairs! In one of my earliest ACKS games, I created a “dynamic dungeon” consisting of a series of prepared encounters in a sprawling cavern complex. It worked fantastically well.

For some time now, I’ve wanted a list of all Autarch-published ACKS monsters. Compiling that list, I noticed a lot of monsters with “% In Lair: None” (see below). “Nooooooooooo!” I thought. I want “lairs” for all my monsters.

Many if not most of the % In Lair values are likely legacy values. Although I can see the logic of some monsters not “lair-ing”, I don’t agree with all of the list below. (Yellow Mold never appears in its lair, only as a wandering monster. Wait, what?) It may be the creative Judge in me, but I want prepared encounters with every monster that are more than “a monster appears.”

Therefore, I am now running “% In Lair: None” as “% In Lair: 5%.” The number of monsters in the prepared encounter will be the same as for a wandering monster encounter. At least to start with – more monsters may make sense for some monsters, perhaps even being the reason for the prepared encounter, e.g. a spot favorable for finding the monster’s food, bringing more than usual.

Monsters with “% In Lair: None” often have “Treasure Type: None.” However, not all. Most of those that do have treasure have “Incidental” treasure types (C, I, M, or P), often said to be found in their bellies. I think similar incidental treasure may be appropriate for any monster capable of swallowing (or killing in place) a human, such as a Tyrannosaurus Rex or Yellow Mold. Also, Treasure Type Q seems as appropriate for a Djinn or Efreet as a Frost or Fire Salamander.

What do you think?

Core rulebook monsters with “% In Lair: None”

Black Pudding
Boar, ordinary
Boar, giant
Crocodile, ordinary
Crocodile, large
Crocodile, giant
Elemental, air
Elemental, earth
Elemental, fire
Elemental, water
Elephant Treasure Type: Special
Fish, giant, catfish
Fish, giant, piranha
Fish, giant, rockfish
Fish, giant, sturgeon Treasure Type: I
Gelatinous cube Treasure Type: C
Golem, amber
Golem, bone
Golem, bronze
Golem, wood
Gray ooze
Green slime
Herd animal
Horse, light
Horse, medium
Horse, heavy
Invisible stalker
Leech, giant
Mastodon Treasure Type: Special
Men, merchant Treasure Type: J (per 10 wagons)
Ochre jelly
Octopus, giant
Pterodactyl, pterodactyl
Pterodactyl, pteranodon
Purple worm Treasure Type: P x2
Rhinoceros, ordinary
Rhinoceros, woolly
Rot grub
Sea serpent Treasure Type: M, I
Shark, bull
Shark, mako
Shark, great white
Snake, spitting cobra
Snake, pit viper
Snake, sea snake
Snake, giant python
Snake, giant rattler
Squid, giant
Statue, animated, crystal
Statue, animated, stone
Statue, animated, iron
Toad, giant Treasure Type: C
Tyrannosaurus Rex
Whale, killer Treasure Type: M
Whale, narwhal Treasure Type: Special
Whale, sperm Treasure Type: P
Yellow Mold

I think the reason why those monsters have 0% chance of lair is simply that they don’t form lairs - they just wander from place to place, or aren’t natural encounters - things like yellow mold or animated statues that don’t have an ecology as such. You’ll notice that for wilderness encounters the vast majority of creatures have the same number of appearing whether they are in lair or wandering, so I’m not sure what a T-Rex or whale lair would even mean.

I understand what you’re saying, but I see an opportunity here:

Tyrannosaurus Rex. A hillock rises from the swamp here, sparsely covered by scrub and stunted trees. Any joy at having firm ground underfoot is tempered by the large carcasses and skeletons covering the hillock. Something has been dragging its prey here, something large …

Orca. A sheltered inlet forms here between where the river meets the bay and two small islands off the coast. Orca frequent this area, and in winter, when many females give birth, they have been known to attack small boats who venture too close …

Good point. Regional animals are going to have patterns.

There’s a group of elephants in Kenya that frequent a cave that has salt deposits (google ‘Elgon Elephants’).

Imagine coming out of a cave delving to find your way out blocked by families of elephants - with calves, so the cows and bulls will be quite protective, especially given their surprise at some dudes coming out of the darkness, and the tight quarters.

Even worse if you’re already being chased by something else.

Giving a small value for ‘In Lair’, and having a d4-d6 of reasons handy as to why this particular creature would be there (first watering hole of the rainy season…buffalo trace…etc) is a good way to do it that avoids having to preplan the ecologies of such things.