So, I was working up a dungeon, and there are about 40 “rooms”. I rolled up an orc lair and a goblin lair. Neat. But that’s a lot of goblins and orcs. They’re spilling out of their lairs and into my “empty”, “unique” and “trap” rooms. And that’s not even counting all of their females and young. Is this normal, or should I just scale everything back until it fits more reasonably? Or something?
On similar note, when adding monsters to the map key, or just checking for wandering monsters, how does one rationalize the presence of a carrion eater, or some similar big dumb animal, in a chamber surrounded by doors (sometimes several deep) which are often warped shut? It’s like, how did that get in there?
I wouldn’t be a slave to the random tables. Try to use what makes sense and then tailor things to suite what’s logical for the situation.
The point of randomness and tables is to inspire creativity, not force your hand. Typically DMs get stuck in a rut of thinking and random tables and rolls can create new material and it helps to keep variety in the game. As an example, morale rolls. It doesn’t make sense to always use them as written, but when you remove them from the game and just say “the DM always determines when enemies run” you end up with the games evolving to where no enemy ever runs.
That carrion eater might be a pet. Maybe it’s confined to 1 area and it’s used as a waste disposal system. Maybe it’s attacking the monsters in addition to the PCs, the PCs just happened to show up during the middle of the fight. Or maybe it doesn’t fit the dungeon and you don’t use it at all.
I tend to downsize humanoid dungeon lairs from what the dice tell me, because yeah otherwise you end up filling the entire dungeon with orc babies. Or you could have the lair spill out into the wilderness, with huts and palisade walls surrounding the entrance… I might have to do that, actually.
As for critters in sealed rooms, “they were trapped here by someone intentionally” or “they got in through the pipes” both work for me. I’ve never seen my players so afraid of bathrooms as when they heard from the local trog chieftain that there was a terrible “Beast In The Pipes” (which happened to be a carrion crawler, actually).
“or just checking for wandering monsters, how does one rationalize the presence of a carrion eater, or some similar big dumb animal, in a chamber surrounded by doors”
I have found that is they very instances of incongruance that lead to my greatest moments of creativity…and to my ignoring the dice. In many cases, the answer to these questions can really improve the game. How DID that thing get in there? The answer could very well be the next quest in your campaign. Perhaps a local ogre has a grudge against the orcs and he dug a tunnel and moved a stone to release the crawler into the orcs lair. Now, the orcs are super peeved about these mysterious carrior crawlers that keep showing up. And perhaps the players discover this by tracking the carrior crawler. They then might use this information to negotiate when they orcs overpower them. Or, they might go back to that ogre and see if he’ll pay them to harrass the orcs. Etc.
Hey! Thanks for all of the great answers. While I know that I shouldn’t be a “slave to the dice” when using randomization in prep, it helps to know when I’m being “enslaved” and when I’m just confused. Thanks again!