As a young kid, before I could even read I was pouring over the pages of the Moldvay basic set just devouring the pictures with my imagination (particularly page B20- lol). I spent many hours running around my local park pretending to fight white apes and carrion crawlers.
Anyways, I thought I would share some of my thoughts on the monsters of the basic set.
These dudes are pretty cool. There is alot of roleplaying potential here. I think it really comes down to what the clerics are up to and what alignment they are. So here goes:
1d6 for alignment
1-2 Lawful - Jolly friar-tuck types or deadly serious witch hunters.
3-4 Neutral - Pagan druids.
5-6 Chaotic - Hardcore super-evil raiders or more moderate hedonistic types.
1d6 for current mission
1- On a pilgrimage to or from a shrine.
2- Escorting a valuable relic.
3- Seeking new converts.
4- Itching to battle nonbelievers.
5- Fleeing persecution.
6- Searching for the "Chosen One".
White Apes are a very useful creature for the DM in terms of utility. These nocturnal albino apes certainly appear fearsome but they are just animals of neutral alignment and low intelligence. They are also specifically stated to eat fruits and vegetables, so it seems they are unlikely to cause trouble if left alone. That said, I think White Apes make excellent minions for sinister powers, there could be a dark force corrupting the usually peaceful Apes and using them for evil. How much more badass is the evil warlock with the pet ape?
1d6 for reaction to party*
1- Loud display meant to threaten and scare off intruders.
2- The apes bring forth offerings of fruit.
3- The apes try to barter and trade with the party through gesture.
4- An ape guide will join the party but will not travel further than a day from the ape lair. The guide is very helpful and will point out dangers and shortcuts.
5- The apes are curious but standoffish, several will watch the party from a distance for an hour or two.
6- The alpha of the group (male or female) takes an interest in the member of the party with the highest charisma score.
*The apes will not normally attack unless provoked.
Another good entry. I try to portray a human-centric world for my players, and having human opponents goes a long way toward that goal. Bandits are good and simple- classic villains, but they can range from neutral robbers to super EVIL murder-you-and-burn-your-house types. As a bonus they get a cool character class NPC to lead them.
1d6 for Bandit group:
1- The Wolfpack- This group of chaotic brigands are mean and have excessively bad hygiene. They favor ambush tactics and many use crossbows. Although they act tough the Wolfpack tends to retreat if their prey fights back. The Wolfpack is led by "Blackwolf" a veteran one eyed thief.
2- The Forestmen- This jolly group of neutral bandits is always looking for a good time. They are fond of music and wine and tend to be well liked by the common villagers. They are all excellent woodsmen and archers but their leader "Sparrow" is particularly skilled and renown.
3- The Ragged Men- The Ragged Men are all deserters. They are neutral and not truly evil but they are incredibly desperate and defiant against authority. The horrors of war have broken these men and they refuse to bow to a lord ever again. Although the Ragged men don't have a formal leader most turn to "Old Rob" for guidance. Old Rob is a skilled halberdier and the oldest member of the group.
4- The Red Gents- These chaotic men are totally evil and totally loyal to their leader "Annika". Annika is an evil sorceress and she uses her bandit minions to further her selfish agenda. Annika uses her magical talents and great beauty to keep the bandits in line.
5- The Luckless Fellows- A small band of vicious thugs. The Fellows are the worst of the worst and cause misery and suffering just for sport. Their current leader "Maul" is a cruel bastard who is always thinking up new ways to torture captives.
6- The Maiden Slayers- This chaotic band of lazy drunks can't do anything right. Although they are certainly evil and cruel the Slayers lack the necessary skill and discipline required of bandits. The majority of their raids and ambushes end in embarrassing failure. The leader of the Slayers is a foolish man named "Tall Paul" who only has the job because nobody else wanted it.
- A decent start. Cheers!