Random Encounters, Now With More Randomness!
I played around with my laminator recently and created a “deck” of encounters for when random encounters come up. The idea that I came up with is more along the lines of what type of encounter will come up, rather than exactly what shows up at a given time.
Keeping D&D 5th edition in mind, I wanted to make sure to keep the pillars of adventures in mind, so that random encounters were also reinforcing this three-pillared design as well.
How This Works
- Whenever a random encounter might be called for, a player pulls one of these results from the deck
- That result is set aside until all the other results are drawn, at which point it all gets reshuffled
- Combat Encounter–Something shows up and is already hostile; this doesn’t mean they can’t be calmed down or negotiated with, just that without some effort, the element that shows up will be hostile to the PCs.
- Roleplaying Encounter–Something shows up that is not immediately hostile; this doesn’t mean that they can’t be made hostile by the PCs, but if the PCs do nothing, the element will not be hostile to the PCs. This element that shows up has to have a desire–a merchant wants to sell his wares, an animal might try to steal food or shiny objects. Nothing should show up and not have some drive to do something, which gives the PCs something to interact with.
- Exploration Encounter–This can either be a random element that does something to the PCs (i.e. save to avoid exhaustion or damage), something that requires the PCs to do something (road or path blocked), or something along their regular path that can be interacted with (unmarked ruins, cache of treasure or supplies, landmark, or phenomenon). There should be something the PCs either must or can interact with in a meaningful way (i.e. not “you see a burned down house and you know for sure there is nothing in it of value,” versus “you see a burned down house””after exploring it, you find a journal that is partially burned”)
- “X” & “Y” Encounter–This is an encounter with multiple elements occurring concurrently or in a manner that overlaps. For example, a merchant shows up in camp and asks for shelter, and is quickly followed by thieves following them.
- Two Encounters and Three Encounters–This indicates that there are multiple encounters on the same day, but not at the same time. Some days are rougher than others.
- Day–This encounter takes place while the PCs are traveling from point A to point B. This is an “on the road” encounter versus an “in camp” encounter.
- Night–This encounter takes place while the PCs are resting and setting up camp after traveling. This is an “in camp” encounter versus an “on the road” encounter.
- Two Encounters (Draw Two More Cards)
- Three Encounters (Draw Three More Cards)
- Combat Encounter (Day)
- Combat Encounter (Night)
- Roleplaying Encounter (Day)
- Roleplaying Encounter (Night)
- Exploration Encounter (Day)
- Exploration Encounter (Night)
- Combat and Roleplaying Encounter (Day)
- Combat and Roleplaying Encounter (Night)
- Combat and Exploration Encounter (Day)
- Combat and Exploration Encounter (Night)
- Roleplaying and Exploration Encounter (Day)
- Roleplaying and Exploration Encounter (Night)
- Combat, Roleplaying, and Exploration Encounter (Day)
- Combat, Roleplaying, and Exploration Encounter (Night)