Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Signs, Omens, and Encounters: Anka

Last March, I began posting Pits & Perils encounter designs based on my own version of The Retired Adventurer's "Procedure for Wandering Monsters". In reviewing my notes and rereading these entries, I've found that though I'd only gotten halfway through the B's in the Pits & Perils enemy list, it was some of the most satisfying and enjoyable RPG writing I'd yet done. What follows are these posts, with some edits.


  • A rended, dismembered cow lies oddly supine. Its entrails eviscerated clean.
  • Stripped trees. The limbs torn from their trunks.
  • Bird droppings as large as the PC's head underfoot.
  • Local woodland creatures intermittently startled from unseen and unpresent threats overhead.
  • Claw marks trench the ground.
  • A large (2 foot) feather rests upon a large rock.


  • The sky grows dark as the ominous shadow of a large soaring bird blots out the sun.
  • A cacophonous caw pierces the air. Even the leaves rattle in the sound.
  • A dark shape grows rapidly above the PCs. A flash of talon then the useless cry of a nearby cow, horse, or goat as it is whisked violently away.
  • A stunning, tight turn as avian wings race by, nearly caressing a random PC as they pass. The dusty ground twists into a vortex.
  • Hovering, direct, full frontal visual encounter nearly within bow shot. The powerful wings beating the wind as it considers the PCs, before pulling away.
  • Bird droppings incoming(!) Save or suffer a direct hit. No damage but party ridicule required.


  1. What did I do to you? The Anka, a raging flurry of feathers, talons, and beak fights angrily, viciously to its or the PC's death.
  2. The Anka, a tree branch held within its talons, attempts to mow down the party. Save to avoid. On failure the PC is knocked prone, losing 1 HP.  The Anka drops the branch and circles quickly, attempting to snatch any who've fallen. Make a DEX check (-1 for players without the DEX ability). Every attempt to resist is a STR (-2) check with success equivalent to 10, then 20, then 40, then 80 feet, etc. of falling damage.
  3. From above a talon attempts to snatch a random player. Save to avoid. If unsuccessful, the Anka will carry the PC to its nest, presumably for lunch. Every attempt to resist is a STR (-2) check with success equivalent to 10, then 20, then 40, then 80 feet, etc. of falling damage.
  4. A young hatchling, the size of a dog, tumbles from above and into a nearby thicket. Its mother follows closely behind. Deciding that PCs are a direct threat to her young, she gains an additional +1 to her first attack.
  5. As quickly as it wasn't there, it is. Random character save or be surprised. The Anka will fight to the first injury then flee.
  6. Impossibly, the Anka lands within bowshot and regards the PCs warily. Its purpose is unclear. Good roleplay, food offering, and/or a successful CHA (automatic success to characters who have the CHA ability, otherwise 7+) may find the PCs with an ally.

Charles Maurice Detmold (1883-1908)