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Roaming Enemy

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An enemy in a video game which appears randomly, with no specific point (save one or two to introduce them). Typically takes the form of The Dreaded and if optional may be too dangerous to fight when they first begin appearing, but much less so if they are encountered later in the game. Comes in several flavors which may overlap with one another;

  1. The Wanderer: Patrols a specific area in the game. They may actively stalk the player or they might just move randomly until they find him. Distinguished in that the player may never even have to meet them.
  2. Schrodinger's Encounter: The player will always encounter the enemy — it's just a matter of when. The point at which they turn up is fixed but decided randomly from several potential points ahead of time (typically when the game begins). Distinguished from the Wanderer in that the player won't be able to avoid them.
  3. Triggered Encounter: This often takes the form of a boss or Boss in Mook Clothing. It appears only if the player acts in a very specific manner. A specific version of this is Stalked by the Bell, where the enemy appears if the player lingers too long in one area.
  4. Fake Roamer: The game pretends that this enemy is actively stalking you or wandering around but it really turns up at specific points in the game. You can identify it by the fact that it always turns up in the same place no matter how many times you play that part of the game.

See also: Often overlaps with Instakill Mook. Random Encounters and Pre Existing Encounters which tend to always be used for less unique enemies.

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  • In .hack//G.U., the Doppelganger, which is a shadowy copy of the party leader (in the player's case, Haseo) that is always 8 levels higher than the player (unless you are at the volume's max level), wanders the area you are in by warping around, but only in fields. One turns up in the field if you don't fight for a certain amount of time, or if you use the keyword "Moonlight", which ensures that there is a Doppelganger in that field. You can run around the field and never find him, or he may be right next to your starting point. The Doppelganger can be quite a terrifying opponent, whether or not you actually encounter him. If he sees you, the screen begins to flash red and scary music plays as he runs towards you; even if he doesn't, one can get the feeling of being watched. To make it even more unnerving, he's also moving around even while you're in a battle and can actually join in on a battle you're currently fighting if he gets too close.
  • Several areas in World of Warcraft have overpowered enemies patrolling them as type 1. The most infamous example is the Sons Of Arugal, level 20 elites that patrol an area used by players of levels 10-19.
    • The most well-known, however, are the Devilsaurs in Un'goro Crater. Because they become visible at the same effective range as other monsters despite being fifty feet tall, they have gained a reputation for having taken Ninja levels. See also the That One Boss and Boss in Mook Clothing entries.
    • Other examples include the Fel Reaver in Hellfire Peninsula, the Whale Shark in Vashj'ir, and a pack of Alliance soldiers with their commander in Arathi Highlands.
    • The game also uses type 3 a lot, where specific enemies will only appear if you are on a particular quest.
    • Pre-Cataclysm Duskwood had a rather fun player-caused variation. Completing a specific quest chain would cause a level 40(I think) elite to spawn (a considerable distance from the quest point) and start walking a long path down the zone's 1 road heading for the town. This was in a level 20 zone and roads were supposed to be the "safe path". Many an unsuspecting adventurer found a brutal death at the hands of a Stitches spawned by another player.
  • All of the mini-bosses in La Tale, much to the dismay of lower-leveled players killing mooks on the same map.
  • The ghosts in Pac-Man also count as type 1 (at least in some versions), as they move randomly but chase the player if they see them.
    • Pac-man Ghost AI — the cool thing about the Pac-Man ghosts, and what it's rare for the clones to pull off (even if they go for deterministic rather than random ghost movement), is that each had a separate AI which, while all of them were simple, the result was that they made for a very effective team. This site has some details, as it turns out.
  • Roaming Pokémon, a tradition started with Raikou, Entei, and Suicune in Gold and Silver. They are encountered like any other random Pokémon but the area they appear in changes. Unusually for this trope, the player is generally the one who tracks them down (and they have a habit of fleeing before you can catch them when they're encountered). Almost every game since then has had their own:
    • Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald: Latios in Ruby, Latias in Sapphire, and your choice in Emerald.
    • Diamond and Pearl: Mesprit and Cresselia. Platinum adds Articuno, Zapdos, and Moltres.
    • Fire Red & Leaf Green: Raikou, Entei or Suicune.
    • Heart Gold & Soul Silver: Raikou and Entei (but Suicune isn't, due to being a plot encounter as in Crystal) and Latios or Latias.
    • Black and White: Tornadus in Black, and Thundurus in White. They're less annoying than their predecessors, since they cause freak rainstorms on whatever map they happen to be inhabiting, and that tends to call attention to them, even from NPCs.
    • X and Y: Articuno, Zapdos, or Moltres plays with the idea — one of them wanders Kalos like all the rest on the list, but when you run across them, you don't actually get a chance to battle. After encountering them 10 times, they'll finally settle down at the Sea Spirit's Den, where you can battle them like any stationary encounter.
  • Deathguise / Death Gaze in Final Fantasy VI will spawn in a random area - can only be triggered by airship - once you hit the World of Ruin. The annoying parts about this being that it's invisible on the map and prone to running.
    • Ultima Weapon in Final Fantasy VII. You can at least see him on the world map, but you'll be chasing him down for a while. You have to bump into him with the airship a few times, before he'll go to a certain point, and then you can fight him. He also goes to the same spot for the final showdown every time.
    • Omega and Omega Mk. II from Final Fantasy V always roam the same room randomly. Not a problem when there's only one of them to run past —a definite problem in the Bonus Dungeon where an entire floor is filled with roaming Omegas.
    • A few of the Dragons from Final Fantasy VI will also roam their lairs, such as the Red, Holy, Blue, and Ice Dragons.
  • In the Pirates of the Caribbean video game (spiritual successor to Sea Dogs) the Black Pearl would roam around the world map, and you could rarely find it as a kind of Easter Egg. Oddly, it doesn't become hostile unless you attack it.
  • Spore has the Epic creatures. These are extremely large versions of otherwise "normal" creatures from the game's library, and are particularly dangerous. They spend their time roaming around the map and killing wildlife, but will turn their attention to you if you get too close.
  • Etrian Odyssey. Even in a boss fight! F.O.E.!
  • Earthbound uses this system, and will even give players or enemies first attack if one "tags" the other from behind.
  • The Spider Droid in the original Space Quest, and the security droids on board the Deltaur.
  • The Droid of Death in the starting area of Space Quest IV can either be a random or triggered encounter. If the wandering cyborg summons it, or if triggered by picking up the Unstable Ordnance after coming out of the sewers, there's no escape. Near the end of the game, there's the Imperial Probe Droid-style sentry bots.
  • The robots in Descent, particularly in the first game, start doing this a certain amount of time after the level starts. Especially dangerous if those enemies are Demonic Spiders, and the level has alot of intersecting passageways, such as the first game's 11th and 19th levels. Oh, and later levels come equipped with Mook Makers specifically for this purpose.
  • Tales of Phantasia has an early area with randomly encountered Hell Lord / Hell Master enemies you are specifically told to run from. It's possible to get lucky and not encounter them, but fighting them is impossible due to their massively inflated stats. They reappear much later on where you're properly levelled and able to tackle them.
  • Twilight Heroes has both Types 1 and 2 - Type 1 in the Static Villains, who appear every so often but only in a specific area, and Type 2 in Wandering Villains, who may appear in any area (but at the same rate as the Static Villains). Both types are optional, and their appearance can be turned on or off by a choice adventure.
  • The use of Respawning Enemies for this is crucial to keep the player from feeling entirely “safe” in horror games, respawning ammo and health optional. Obvious examples include Alone in the Dark and System Shock.
  • Many of the guards in Wolfenstein 3D will patrol a pre-set path until they see the player or hear a noise. Sometimes their paths will wind through multiple sections of a level, making things even more unpredictable.
  • Luxaren Allure: Normal enemies appear on the map and move around, and can be avoided, but they chase you if they see you.
  • Dark Souls: The various special NPC hollows, which appear under special circumstances, and are tragic to fight.
  • The Tenth Line: Standard mobs roam the wilderness areas, and engaging one transitions the party to the battle screen.
  • Power Drill Massacre: Once you enter the factory, the killer is permanently spawned on the map, and is constantly on the lookout for you. There are even times where you can encounter him no less than seconds after entering the building, and once he does find you, he starts shrieking and chasing you down at full speed (although you can outmanoeuvre him and escape). However, in certain cases, he can spawn out of the metal shutter doors if both you and him are in proximity to one but he's not within your sight, and if you go into the infamous sugar tunnels, he'll ALWAYS spawn out of a certain area if you're dumb enough to walk into an obvious dead end. The only reliable way to avoid him is to not linger around shutters, stay away from the aforementioned sugar tunnels (which are a completely optional area to begin with unless you want more lore and a bad ending), listen for the tell-tale whirr of his power drill if he's nearby, and to walk away from the source of the sound, which is difficult because his walking speed is twice as fast as yours.
  • Mr. X from the remake of Resident Evil 2 is always somewhere in the police station, and he's always actively looking for you. It's frightening enough when you'll hear his thumping massive footsteps and know he's nearby, it's even worse when you fire off a gun at a zombie and then you hear the thumping massive footsteps getting closer, and there's always the chance you'll go through a door and run right into him. There are scripted encounters in the game where he appears no matter what, but he's also always somewhere in the police station systematically searching rooms and hallways for you.
  • All of the enemies you face in Remothered are this, crossed with Implacable Man. The best you can do to throw them off your path is by running and hiding or by using distractions.

    Schrodinger's Encounters 
  • All the enemies in Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2 fit type 2 as the game's "director" AI will spawn them randomly throughout the levels. The Tank and the Witch are rarer, since you won't encounter them in every map, but you will encounter them at least once over the course of a campaign.
    • One campaign level in 2 specifically states that you will encounter numerous witches in that area. They're all wandering around as a Type 1 encounter, so you can avoid them if you see them first and know where they are.
  • In The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass there is a female pirate named Jolene who randomly appears on various maps as type 2 and patrols them as type 3. If she sees you have to escape or fight her off if she boards your boat.
  • The Metroid series has had the Hunters from Metroid Prime: Hunters.
  • The Grells (sand worms) in Space Quest's desert. Also a Drop-In Nemesis.
  • The ghost in Spelunker.
  • Most tangos in the early Rainbow Six series are placed at pseudo-random starting positions, and also wander as Type 1. Later games use Type 4; ie they more or less always appear in the same pattern.
  • Jason in the NES Licensed Game of Friday the 13th.

    Triggered Encounters 
  • There's this guy in Baldur's Gate that, if you look at the right (or wrong...) gravestone three times, summons a load of exploding dudes with swords to kill you. They don't seem to ever turn up anywhere else.
  • In Super Paper Mario Trueform Mimi pops up in certain rooms of Chapter 2-4 if you dawdle too long picking an exit. She's frightening enough that it can cause you to rush through the level at breakneck speed.
  • From Final Fantasy VI, the Storm Dragon —it will fly out of its treasure chest the instant you open it, and fly circles within the cave until its speed and/or erratic pattern forces you into its path. Final Fantasy VI Advance also adds the Esper Leviathan, who lurks in the ocean between Figaro and Nikeah, and can only be encountered by taking a ferry between the two ports.
  • The Reaper from Persona 3, a Stalked by the Bell-type who will materialize in one of three spots (the staircase, your entry point, or the teleport back to the foyer) and then make a beeline for your party if you linger too long in a single floor of Tartarus. Particularly vicious in floors populated by nothing but the rare, elusive Gold Hand enemies.
    • Persona 4 changed the Reaper up — initially confined to New Game+, it could show up in a random treasure box (which thankfully will give you an advance warning). Golden now allowed the Reaper to appear on your first cycle, and after opening 20 treasure boxes, the 21st would set the flag for its appearance, signaled by his noises from Persona 3 — raspy breathing and chains rattling. Mercifully, this would reset if you opened a chest the Reaper wasn't in, or if you changed floors while the Reaper is due to appear (Locked Golden Chests can never have the Reaper, though they did count towards the Chests Opened counter).
    • The Reaper makes its return in Persona 5, and will show up on a floor of Mementos if you hang around too long.
  • The Grim Reaper in Alex Kidd in Miracle World appears if you step on a skull block, or is randomly triggered by ? blocks.
  • In Live A Live, escape from 100 battles in the final chapter and you will have to fight the Death Prophet boss.
  • All of the non-region-specific bosses in Darkest Dungeon are triggered, typically based on random chance. The Collector has a 5% chance to be in any dungeon; the Shambler can be summoned from an Altar (which appears as a random curio in a dungeon corridor) or can randomly turn up in a pitch-dark run; the Fanatic (from the Crimson Court DLC) has a random chance to harass any party containing heroes infected with the Crimson Curse, based on the number of heroes; and the Thing From The Stars (from the Color of Madness DLC) goes to a given region every week and has a random chance to turn up if you quest there.
  • Wizardry: Tale of the Forsaken Land has the Reaper, who has two conditions for appearing. On some floors of the labyrinth after reaching certain locations he will show up, spending enough time on a floor will cause it to appear. He is slow and can be avoided like other encounters, but can move through walls and will actively chase you down.

    Fake Roamers 
  • The Metroid series also has had the SA-X from Metroid Fusion.
    • The same can be said for the Rhedogian from Metroid: Other M, which ambushes Samus about 4 times in fixed locations before finally giving up the ghost.
  • The Wandering Monster tables from Dungeons & Dragons are probably the best known example Tabletop Games wise.
  • PuPu in Final Fantasy VIII.
  • The "Mr. X" Tyrant in Resident Evil 2, who has very specific areas where he shows up. The remake, however, is a genuine case of a roaming enemy.
  • Nemesis in the original PS 1 version of Resident Evil 3. All of his encounters are predictable, though because of the branching paths that allow you to do certain events in whatever order you like, it's impossible to learn everywhere he'll appear on a single playthrough. Whenever an encounter with Nemesis is triggered, he'll chase you from room to room, but only in rooms within his designated area for that particular encounter (unless you down him outright with weaponry, in which case he'll reappear the next time you trigger an encounter).
  • The mugger in the dark alley in Leisure Suit Larry 1: In the Land of the Lounge Lizards.

    Special Cases 
  • In Munchkin, one of the cards that can be played is called "Wandering Monster". It doesn't quite fit this trope exactly, as the monster is "wandered in" by a player.
    • This can be argued to be type 3, since it can be a literal type 3 if the player using the card is the one fighting (adding a creature to your own fight can earn you extra loot and levels). Even using it on one's opponents is a triggered event, just not triggered by the combatant.
  • Fallout:
    • Fallout 3 has all four types. Type 1 patrol certain areas of the Wasteland (e.g. Enclave squads and some Talon Company merc units), Type 2 are randomly triggered at certain points on the map (such as Sam Warrick the sniper or the crippled Deathclaw), and Type 3 takes the form of a scripted encounter with either Talon Company or Regulator squads, depending on the player's Karma Meter level, usually when quick-traveling. The Super Mutant Behemoths and some minibosses are Type 4.
    • In Fallout: New Vegas, if you are infamous to the NCR and/or the Legion, well-armed death squads will be spawned as Type 1 encounters.
  • The titular Nemesis from Resident Evil 3: Nemesis is a special case where there are set locations where he always shows up, set locations where he might show up (based on the order you've explored and decisions you've made during Live Selections), and of course he can just jump you at complete random. If you keep going back and forth between the same areas, you'll soon hear the ominous "Staaaaaars..." come from the next room.

Alternative Title(s): Wandering Monster


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