CHECKING FOR RANDOM ENCOUNTERS
You decide when a random encounter happens, or you
roll. Consider checking for a random encounter once
every hour, once every 4 to 8 hours, or once during the
day and once during a long rest-whateve r makes the
most sense based on how active the area is.
If you roll, do so with a d20. If the result is 18 or
higher, a random encounter occurs. You then roll on an
appropria te random encounter table to determine what
the adventurers meet, rerolling if the die result doesn't
make sense given the circumstances.
Random encounter tables might be provided as part
of the adventure you're running, or you can use the
information in this chapter to build your own. Creating
your own tables is the best way to reinforce the themes
and flavor of your home campaign.
Not every run-in with another creature counts as
a random e ncounter. Encounter tables don't usually
include rabbits hopping through the undergrowth,
harmless rats scurrying through dungeon halls, or
average citizens walking through the streets of a city.
Random e n counter tables present obstacles and events
that advance the plot, foreshadow important elements or
themes of the adventure, and provide fun distractions.
CHAPTER 3 I CREATING ADVENTURES
CREATING RANDOM E NCOUNTER TABLES
Creating your own random encounter tables is
straightforward. Determine what sort of encounters
might occur in a given dungeon area, figure out the
likelihood of a particular e ncounter occurring, then
arrange the results. An "e ncounter" in this case could b e
a single monster or NPC, a group of monsters or NPCs,
a random event (s uch as an earth tremor or a parade),
or a random discovery (such as a charred corpse or a
message scrawled on a wall).
Assemble Your Encounters. Once you've established
a location through which the adventurers are likely to
pass, be it a wilderness area or dungeon complex, make
a list of creatures that might be found wandering the re.
If you're not sure which creatures to include, appendix B
has lists of monsters organized by terrain type.
For a sylvan woodland, you might create a table
that includes centaurs, faerie dragons, pixies, sprites,
dryads, satyrs, blink dogs, elks, owlbears, treants, giant
owls, and a unicorn. If elves inhabit the forest, the table
might also include elf druids and elf scouts. Perhaps
gnolls are threatening the woods, so adding gnolls and
hyenas to the table would be a fun surprise for playe r s.
Anothe r fun surprise would be a wandering predator,
such as a displacer beast that likes to hunt blink dogs.
The table could also use a few random encounters of
a less monstrous nature, such as a grove of burned
trees (the h andiwork of the gnolls), an ivy-covered
elven statue, and a plant with glowing berries that turn
creatures invisible when ingested.
Whe n choosing monsters for a random encounter
table, try to imagine why the monsters would be
encountered outside their lairs. What is each monste r
up to? Is it on patrol? Hunting for food? Searching for
something? Also consider whether a creature is moving
stealthily as it travels through the area.
As with planned encounters, random encounters
are more interesting when they happen in memorable
locations. Outdoors the adventurers might be crossing
a forest clearing when they encounter a unicorn or
be pushing through a dense section of forest when
they come across a nest of spiders. Crossing a desert,
characters might discover an oasis haunted by wights or
a rocky outcropping on which a blue dragon perches.
Probabilities. A random encounter table can be
created in a number of ways, ranging from simple (roll
ld6 for one of six possible encounters) to complicated
(roll p e rcentile dice, modify for time of day, and cross-
index the modified number with the dungeon level). The
sample e n counter table presented h e r e uses a range of
2 to 20 (nineteen entries total), generated using 1d12
+ 1d8. The probability c urve ensures tha t encounters
appearing in the middle of the table are more likely to
occur than encounters placed at the beginning or end
of the table. A roll of 2 or 20 is rare (about a 1 percent
chance of either), while each of the rolls from 9 to 13
occurs a little over 8 p e rcent of the time.
The Sylvan Forest Encounters table is an example
of a random encounter table that implements the ideas
mentioned above. Creature names in bold refer to stat
blocks that appear in the Monster Manual.