Has your character ever seen an orc before. The answer isn't always as simple as it seems. Presented here is a rule to help the DM determine whether characters have seen, or know anything about, some monster the party encounters.
The GM may determine whether a character has seen, or heard about a particular creature prior to the apparent 1st contact with it. All Characters are assumed to have knowledge of player character races. Under 1st/2nd edition The chance of knowing something about a monster is equivalent to the FREQUENCY of the monster (noted in the Monstrous Manual, Monstrous Compendium, etc.) minus the characters level. (This frequency describes how rare or common any particular creature is. If you are not running an AD&D© Campaign you may assign this number, or use an appropriate substitute.) This roll is made when the creature is seen. If it is described to the character but not seen then a roll is permitted but the chance is equal to half the normal chance. With no level bonus. Additionally, if the character is extremely familiar with undead, (such as a priest/cleric) or some other class/type of monsters, then the level bonus is doubled.
This method may be used for other areas as well. For example; if the GM wants to know whether the character in question has ever heard of Eivobrins Incanabula before, he/she should assign a base % to the chance. Based on how well known the subject matter is to the common character. Subtract the level of the character from this % and you have the percent chance that the character has knowledge of the subject in question. The level of knowledge the character has on the subject is entirely up to the GM. As is the case with knowledge of Monsters.
Third edition: The chance to determine whether a character has ever heard of, or knows something about a particular monster is a bit more complicated under third edition rules.
First determine the monsters Challenge Rating (CR). See the back of the appropriate monster manual. Chance to know of/about the creature is then equal to (100% - (5 x CR)) - Characters level x 5). So, a 5th level character has a 50% chance of knowing what a troll is/does. Troll CR = 5, (100% - (25)) - 25). Note that this does not render the same chances as the Frequency method used under the 1st/2nd edition rules above. But it is a game, who really knows whether a character has a 50% chance of knowing what a troll is/does?
What do I know?: A character who succesfully determines what a creatures is, will invariably ask; "What do I know about Trolls?" That's where the GM has to step in. Base your answer on how well the player rolled. If he rolled an 01, tell him all there is to know. If they rolled a 50, you might stick with "It's a regenerating monster". It's all up to you.
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Author: Robert L. Vaessen e-mail:
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