Normal Encounters

by Joe Wetzel (joewetzel at gmail dot com)


Not every random encounter along a road or the wilderness should be about combat. There are many other things that may occur while travelling that are noteworthy, but do not lead to combat or even more information about the current adventure.

While a game master shouldn’t waste too much time on these encounters, they can give everyone a feel for the party’s travels and maybe throw the players off by thinking that an encounter is part of the adventure or when one of these is similar to a real encounter.

Normal Encounters

Signs of a battle can be seen in the distance.

These may turn out to just be old, broken equipment.

Something can be heard in the distance.

Church bell, singing, cry for help, etc. The cry for help may just be a lost child or someone with a small injury.

There is a fork in the road and the party is unsure of what road to take.

Someone in the party feels like he is being watched.

A tattered shirt or some other simple belongings are found near the road/trail.

The party needs to cross a large stream/small river.

There may or may not be a bridge nearby. Even if there is a bridge it may not be safe.

Someone in the party spots a crude grave just off the trail/road.

An unusual animal (for the location/climate) is spotted by a member of the party.

The party passes through a very small hamlet/village.

The group sees a nearby campfire.

It may turn out to be a group of soldiers/knights, gypsies, missionaries, a small merchant caravan, etc.

The adventurers pass a number of other travellers.

It may turn out to be a group of soldiers/knights, gypsies, missionaries, a small merchant caravan, etc.

The group spots a recently used but unoccupied campsite.

A member of the party spots in the distance a farmer, shepherd, hunter or other local going about his business.

The party witnesses an unusual astronomical event. (Meteor, comet, eclipse, planet visible by the naked eye.)

A change in the weather occurs.

This may be minor (a cold front, rain, etc.) or unusual and major (earthquake, tornado, hurricane, etc.)

One of the party members spots a useful plant.

It may be a medicinal herb, spell component, etc.

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  1. […] PCs are traveling or exploring should lead to a random encounter.  That’s why I put together a small list of normal encounters.  Not every bridge that you mention should have trolls ready to ambush.  A passersby may be just […]

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