Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Random Encounters

Random encounters have gotten a bad name in recent years, and mainly that's because they have not evolved past a simple chart of monsters to be fought. Presented below is a chart of random encounters that I came up with for my next homebrew campaign. Not intended to be the meat of any session, they are more like a quick spice I can throw in when the characters travel from place to place.

The categories and encounters in this list create flavor more than anything: they each allow me to present details that build the themes I want to emphasize in my game. For example, the lands where the game takes place in have been ravaged by war for 40 years, so battlefields and refugees help me reinforce that theme to the players.

Feel free to borrow it and modify it as you like to add a little flavor to your games!

some ancient thing
  • -skeleton or skull or creature(s)
  • -shrine or roadside statue
  • -battlefield
  • -ruined village / town

caravan or merchants

  • -lone farmer(s)
  • -long distance caravan (with guards)
  • -pilgrims
  • -refugees
  • -wedding / funeral / festival procession
  • beggars, plague victims and horribly maimed veterans of conflicts begging for alms


  • -local
  • -roaming


  • -party of adventurers (only up to 9th? level)
  • -typical random encounter (monstrous)

tiny communities

  • -farming / fishing / herding community
  • -fey community (be careful!!!)
  • -demi-human community (goblin etc)

local fauna

  • -wild animals (after parties animals? will not fight to the death: at half HP will run away)
  • -pack of starving wolves
  • -bear and cub
  • -puma / mountain lion, will stalk party and attack one of them (or a mount) when they are alone.
  • -domestic animals

1 comment:

Howling Mime said...

these work even better when they introduce potential subplots to the story -- maimed soldiers - from what conflict?, pilgrims - from what land, and why are they leaving their homeland?

good stuff -- a handy list of possibilities to get the storyteller's mind moving on those days when life intervenes and there's little time to prepare.