At some point in the last three years, I started looking elsewhere than to goblinoids for use as monsters seen in large groups that wear away at the party and become a threat through numbers at attrition. It was my players that actually pointed out that my favourite had transitioned from goblins (ah, I love goblins – maybe that will be what my G entry will be about) to Rock Baboons.
Rock Baboons (or Higher Baboons for those playing Labyrinth Lord) are actually really frightening to fight without requiring the investment into tactics and individuality that I find goblins demand (each goblin begs to be a sweet an unique snowflake with odd hand-scavenged armour, and a variety of bizarre facial features and verbal tics). Rock baboons just jump on your head and beat you senseless… en masse.
For a 2 HD creature they have a decent AC (6) great movement rate, come in large numbers, and have two attacks which sets them apart from most other creatures. 1d6 club and 1d3 bite make for interesting attacks and great visuals as they leap at the party howling, ooking, smashing and chewing on people’s heads (often pulling off helmets and similar accoutrements, much to the chagrin of the cleric who was rightfully proud of his periwinkle hood covered in ancient symbols courtesy of B/X Blackrazor’s awesome random headgear tables).
After our discussion of the regular appearance of baboons in the games (it was likened to adventuring in a series of strange pulp novels where the author had a penchant for ancient jungle temples taken over by the wilderness and the local monkey population), I put it into “publication” as it were with the first encounter (and the only recurring random monster encounter) in my one page dungeon entry – Into the Worm’s Gullet.
And I do love the description – I love the pulpy feel of exploring temples that aren’t sitting out on rocky cliffs or plateaus, but that have been overgrown by greenery and reclaimed by the local wildlife but still protected deep in the interior by ancient traps, spells, and magical beasts.
I love my baboons and goblins, what are your favourite massed monsters?