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Farcaster
09-08-2008, 10:42 PM
The_Richard asks, "Random encounter tables"

What do you think of random encounter tables? Love them and use them all the time? Hate them and never even look at them? Use them on occasion to add variety? Ever thought of making them yourself to better tailor them to your game?

Farcaster
09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
For my games, I am a firm believer in the idea that no encounter should be truly random. My feeling is that everything that happens in the game should advance the story or promote character development in some way. I abhor having random encounters just for the sake of having something happen. I'd rather plan something interesting and then spring it on the characters. So, if I want there to be one or more encounters/challenges as the party travels the wilderness, I will plan those out myself.

Now, is this the right way? I'm not saying that at all. It's just the way I like to do things. I'm the pseudo-writer type of GM, so I blame it on my story building predilections. Random things can and still do happen in my games, but they are almost always player driven and their "random" element is more a function of improvisation, not random tables. For my sci-fi type, non-fantasy games, this is even more true.

If, however, I was going to use random encounters, I would most likely roll them up before the game and have them fully generated and realized before we played. This gives you the chance to carefully consider the build up to the encounter and allows you to be prepared with all of the notes for that scene that you might need. I've run a module or two that called for random encounters, and this is exactly what I did.

Grimwell
09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
Hate them may be too strong of a phrase for me, but I never use them in my games. Random has always implied "Does not know what is happening around here." to me and I've avoided it.

I much prefer having a handful of pre-scripted encounters at the ready so I can spice up the game for the day depending on what my friends need. If they are lacking in action, having a few combat encounters available (that are contextually appropriate to the location of the PC's) is great.

If it has been a "nothing but combat" night, having a pre-scripted roleplay encounter is a great way to let the dice cool down and introduce the party to some local flavor via an interaction with some locals that isn't intended to be a main or recurring plotline. Though you can go back to the NPC's if they end up being memorable.

Traps too! Having natural hazards or traps and surprises that have nothing to do with the main reason the players are in the area helps keep them on their toes.

Encounters are the spice in a game, and having some random encounters that are ready to go but don't have to be used to advance the game is a great way to spice up the spices.

Using a table and saying "A wild boar jumps from the bush!" is not as interesting to me as actively plotting a wild boar and it's reason for attacking. It can be as simple as a female protecting her young; or a boar that is desperate due to the high volume of competitive predators. Tables don't give reasons. I can wild dog with the best of them, but random encounters don't cut it for me.

They lack a long term point; which kills them in my eyes as a tool. I have never felt bad for skipping on them.

Anaesthesia
09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
I don't really use the tables. If I really need to do something extra, I usually have additional encounters or can write something up quickly. Usually I try to do natural encounters (such as forest fires or avalanches, sometimes a monster/animal encounter in its natural enviroment); If I think the party is going a little faster than I'd like, I'd throw in a really big trap or several smaller traps in a row and an occasional NPC.

cplmac
09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
I don't actually use a random encounter table. It's not that I despise them or anything, I just tend to usually have at least ten or as many as twenty "random" encounters roughed out for any particular campaign. The reason I don't set them up as a table though, is so that I can use the encounter that is best suited for the situation the party is in. This way I don't have to come up with a plausible reason why some creature(s) that are normally found in a temperate wood setting, just so happens to found in the middle of the largest city in the area. Or worse, the party is making their way over a rocky surface and try to justify how the party is being confronted by a shambling mound, when there has been no vegetation for the past 10 miles.

Now I know that if you are using a premade campaign, there is usually a random encounter table or so included with it. Just because it is there, doesn't mean that you can't utilize it in a slightly different manor.

The other reason that I don't really use a set table is that if I use say 5 of the encounters from a group of 20 on a particular game session, then I make sure to replace them with a new encounter by the next session. This way the players don't grow bored with having to fight the same creature(s) for the duration of the campaign.

One thing that I have noticed about almost all of the premade encounter tables is that they seem to usually be all combat type encounters. I like to include situations that don't call for any combat. Maybe there is a local patrol passing by and just want to obtain some information, or a local family may have had a wheel break on a wagon and need help, or even a merchant that is willing to sell some items to the party or maybe purchase some extra stuff that they need to dispose of.

I guess that I would characterize myself as tayloring them to better fitting my game. I will admit that I do sometimes roll a die or so before giving the party the initial information of an encounter. Keeps them woundering if the outcome would have been different depending on what number came up.

Webhead
09-08-2008, 10:43 PM
As a tool for general session-to-session use, I don't prefer random encounter tables simply because they present one major problem: randomness. Used as a standalone, without enough time and collective thought to mold them into the campaign, they can stick out to the players for what they are and it can quickly disrupt the suspension of disbelief.

That said, the random encounter tables can be very useful and a lot of fun for GMs (and, by extension, players) if used in a premeditated fashion. Rather than used the random tables at the spur of the moment as an "oh crap, what do I do now?" defense mechanism, they can be used to create unique and memorable encounters by using the "randomness" to its best effect.

Roll a few things up on the random encounter tables as part of your adventure planning time. Note the results and then begin thinking about ways in which it might be introduced during the course of the game. This can give the GM a sort of creative "kick in the pants" by giving him something unexpected (an rare or unusual monster or trap for instance) and then challenge him to think of a way to put it in front of his players and both make it meaningful and fun.

In that way, I always like to have a handful of these "pre-planned random encounters" ready for a given game so that I can give my players something to do should they get off track, but also make them feel thought-out and cohesive enough that they can end up either spinning off into their own subplots or tying themselves back into the main plot. In this way, "random" encounters feel a lot less "random" and a lot more involving of your players' attention.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-08-2008, 11:10 PM
The_Richard asks, "Random encounter tables"

What do you think of random encounter tables? Love them and use them all the time? Hate them and never even look at them? Use them on occasion to add variety? Ever thought of making them yourself to better tailor them to your game?
I use them on v e r y rare occasions. In a sense, i make them myself in that i already have ideas on which encounters i'm going to insert at differenting locations, etc, in my game. Really though, i dont need random encounter charts. I wouldnt miss them in the least.

Thoth-Amon

TAROT
09-09-2008, 01:22 PM
I might randomly determine when an encounter happens.

I prefer not to randomly determine what is encountered, unless they're going hunting or something, then I might pick up a die and think 1-3 rabbit, 4-5 deer, 6 boar.

I like to have an idea of who's in the area, and what they might do.

I will use random flavour text tables though, to drop in bits of scenery.

boulet
09-09-2008, 04:31 PM
I will use random flavour text tables though, to drop in bits of scenery.
Would you expand on this ? I have a hard time picturing what it can be like.

spotlight
09-09-2008, 05:20 PM
I do like to use the 'random' encounters, but like farcaster, I generally use them to start a population of a particular area. From there I usually design the rest of my crawls to match the flavor thus started. With of course, the 'quest' spot already set up. Even then, handleing random encounters, I often set it up to include information that may lead to another goal. Point is, even a true random encounter should have a little something in it to keep the party on its toes.

Just because you run into a wandering hungry troll doesn't mean you ouaght to dig out the oil jars and torch it immediately.

Mindbomb
09-09-2008, 09:59 PM
I am clearly the odd man out here, in that I plan about 3 encounters per level of gameplay (on average, not a strict rule) and then have huge random encounter tables constantly changing based on locale and difficulty mainly. While this has caused me to do a lot more studying on every way I can use different creatures, it keeps from challenges becoming predictable (to me or the players).
I have no problem introducing a chromatic dragon at 3rd level or running a mephit in at 15th lvl. I don't think these creatures are hiding behind a mountain somewhere waiting for the PC's to be the right level.
While I may design an encounter with a high wizard, I don't take the time to determine what he calls up to help him in the moment of need or how it plays into the story until it's that time. If he's benevolent to the PC's and calls up a tanar'ri it's easy to work out a reasoning as to why he called him instead of, say, an archon. It used to be a bit of a hassle but it's now been my method for about 15 years and my players are just as excited to find out where the creeping hands came from as I am to weave it into the story. Needless to say I don't run boxed adventures (I did run a very enjoyable game of The Temple of Elemental Evil until it got released on PC which made me decide not to ruin the story for myself ever again lol).
So I think that the 'random' encounter tables should definantly not be overlooked as a wonderful source of intrigue. Even if it does require a bit more effort. It has (almost) always payed off for my group.

TAROT
09-10-2008, 01:13 AM
Would you expand on this ? I have a hard time picturing what it can be like.

Wilderness

01. Gnats
02. Tree struck by lightning
03. Snare (empty)
04. Berry patch
05. Poison Ivy
06. Clearing with purple flowers
07. . .

Urban

01. Poster for high school production of Hamlet
02. Roadside shrine to traffic victim
03. Graffiti mural in alley (violet and yellow)
04. Flyer for Korean restaurant taped to lamppost
05. Scent of urine
06. Building under demolition
07. . .

So, for a modern game, I might have lists for Business/Downtown, Warehouse/Industrial, Suburb/Low-Density Residential, Apartment Complex, Mall, Park.

I start with about ten items per list (sights, smells and sounds) and usually try to get up to 30 for the most commonly travelled areas. (Gotta make the d30s earn their keep too.) If the game is spending time in some other area, make a new list. Some items will be crossed off and replaced when used, others might stay on the list. Expand the size of the list if permanent items accumulate.

Also useful to keep handy. Male and female names (and surnames). Names for pubs and clubs. Dead people to name schools and parks after.

nijineko
09-10-2008, 06:05 PM
i use random encounter (scenary, etc) all the time. mostly i use them for ideas and inspiration. however, i will also use them as is, and springboard off of them to create subplots and interesting side treks. regardless of whether an encounter is preplanned or random, by the time it reaches the player's ears, they can't tell the difference. it makes dm'ing more fun, as it challenges you with surprises to interweave into your storyline. keeps you fresh.

if no matter what, a result just doesn't fit, then i roll the dice again. besides. multiple rolls make the players nervous, especially if you start grinning... which is the case with me when a new nifty randomly generated storyline clicks into place.

areas i have not mapped out, i will use random scene tables, and track the rolls for future mapping purposes. i will customize and add to encounter tables to include a variety of encounters, and find interesting solutions to existing ones... i usually try to have multiple solutions on tap for any given encounter, just to give me some basic directions. of course, the players will do something wild and interesting, but hey! inspiration is 90% preparation.

same goes for treasure tables... i'll spin a thread of why that particular thing got where it is, or how those npc's found it, and where.... again, a rich seed source of side treks, quests, and other fun and fascinating things to catch a player's attention, and lend versimilitude to a setting. that's not just a random piece of jewlery or cache of coins anymore, that's the long lost necklace of mai'pao shoo-an ancient king known for eccentricity, and especially famed for always going barefoot, as he was an elemental earth mage of great renown... and the coins are rare mints of the 7-day country of kalathraohn-which only lasted for seven days before the outraged citizens rose up and overthrew the presumptious heir who tried to take over while his father was at war with the xai'kikra invaders from the sea of everchanging winds.

see? it took me all of maybe 20-30 seconds to come up with both of those. and it wouldn't take me much longer to start spinning more details. a lot more. ^^ then i draw it into a map... i have this idea for a system using a multilayered image with different layers representing different times or ages. that makes it easy to track how things change over time. i can turn on and off the different layers and change political boundaries, appear and disappear islands, portions of land, cities, ruins, and other landscape features, not to mention the names of everything. great fun, i can't wait till i get my first one finished enough to be up and running.

kirksmithicus
09-10-2008, 06:14 PM
I like to use the old Chaosium Thieves World random encounters for an urban setting to add a little variety and atmosphere. Things happen and the PC's can act or ignore the situation, but none of them are life threatening if ignored. As for random monster encounters I rarely use them.

Foki Firefinger
09-25-2008, 04:05 AM
I love random encounter charts, but I enjoy making my own so that i can add what I want including any of my own monsters or creatures. I even like making tables for random encounters by terrain and climate. Such as, for example, what would you encounter in a tropical savana or sub-artic scrublands? :confused:

raven21
09-25-2008, 07:57 AM
I agree with Nijineko. I often will make my own encounter, but in times where I don't have anything planed I will fall back on the random encounter table and make up on the spot the reason for animals or monsters to be there in the first place. If I mannage to get something that makes absolutly no sence to be there and nothing imidetly comes to mind for why they would be there then I re-roll. As for the treasure I often will throw in items of note that are unknow to the players and let them discover that the tresure they found is more than just their new source of income. With magic items I love for them to have stories, histories, and be of unique nature so I end up making up alot of my own or cutominzing the premade ones so that they to have some flavor. It gets old when you find the same +1 short sword over and over again.

Stormhound
09-28-2008, 08:56 AM
I'm along the lines of Tarot, above. I prefer to make some decisions ahead of time about what sorts of things might be encountered in a given area...what lives there, be it wild animals, tribes of orcs, a motorcycle gang, or what-have-you. (Actually, the what-have-yous are pretty dangerous, so I try not to use them much. ;) ) Then, I can always roll encounter checks and pull out something handy if one comes up positive. Doing a complete random encounter on the fly...figuring out what, how many, hit points, and so on...is an incredible drag on any kind of momentum in the session.

Scribe of the Realm
09-28-2008, 08:23 PM
I used to really like both custom and published tables for wandering monsters. I played in a lot of hack 'n slash games in the seventies, which were games that had a forensic bias. The players slay the monsters and take their stuff. Once it was reasonably safe, they would search around and learn the most useful clues. Those were fun games, but it's no longer my style of play.

Currently, my goal is that each encounter should introduce information that moves the plot forward, so my bias is towards social encounters. In order to balance out the overall flow of the game, my random encounters are still combat heavy. However, I pre-generate the random encounters to ensure that each has a clear purpose. I can pick one when I need to reinforce some key point.

Having a clear objective is important, because there are two serious drawbacks to throwing in even a single wandering monster.

First, random encounters increase the risk that a character's death will fail to significantly advance the plot. As a player, I want my character to live at least long enough to fight against an evil minion.

Second, I find that random encounters can introduce a distracting tangent. Core and spontaneous encounters are born of the storyline, while my random encounters are more related to the setting. Once in a while the setting should hold the spotlight, but most of the time the setting is in the background.

nijineko
09-29-2008, 03:56 PM
It gets old when you find the same +1 short sword over and over again.

unless that short sword has a reason for continuing to come back to haunt the party.... =D i can think of a few..... :lol:

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-29-2008, 04:08 PM
unless that short sword has a reason for continuing to come back to haunt the party.... =D i can think of a few..... :lol:
Yeah, maybe it's cursed. LOL

raven21
09-30-2008, 07:31 AM
Not exactly what I ment by the same +1 short sword over and over again, but that is a good point. I do like to trow in cursed items they make the game more interesting.

Arch Lich Thoth-Amon
09-30-2008, 08:50 AM
:biggrin:
Not exactly what I ment by the same +1 short sword over and over again, but that is a good point. I do like to trow in cursed items they make the game more interesting.
I realize, for you were clear enough, raven21. Just making a joke.

raven21
10-01-2008, 09:26 AM
:biggrin:
I realize, for you were clear enough, raven21. Just making a joke.

I figured as much just pointing out that you do make a good point also even if it was or started as a joke.

Grumpy Old Man
10-02-2008, 07:49 PM
I don't mind a DM using random encounters from the chart because some of them need all the help they can get, others do fine without them. I prefer making a rough sketch of my encounters and toss them in a game in order to spice up the boring 100 mile walk scene. With just an outline I can tailor the encounter to the group and the players. and some groups just aren't much into role playing so extra hack and slash satisfies their lust for blood. I can cut back on encounters if the group likes to wander the city role playing and I give credit for that too so they don't have to bloody their cudgel to gain XP. Besides my random city encounters aren't even recognized as encounters half the time. Chart, I don't need no steenkin' chart.

Greylond
10-06-2008, 05:09 PM
I love randomness in a game. I find that rolling for lots of things adds a bit of spice to the game. As a GM you may think you know where the campaign is heading but not only are the players going to throw curve balls at your plot lines but a good set of random encounter tables will also add things to the game that you don't expect. The key to not getting the same thing all the time is bigger tables. I like a good d10,000 Random Encounter Chart myself...

doink1212
10-10-2008, 07:55 AM
In 3.5 I always made them myself, because i found the ones in the book worthless...

In 4e life is easy for DMs, so much so, that I can rest happy.

Etarnon
12-05-2008, 06:27 AM
Despite my advance campaign planning, I actually use these a lot.

Especially for things like:

What Ships do the PC encounter in a port, or in space.

What animals will pcs encounter on a planet.

templeorder
05-08-2009, 10:55 AM
I used to rely on them heavily in my DnD days, especially as character got more powerful and planned encounters got easier - they were a way to whittle the party down and inject some risk into final or planned battles. But my style evolved over time and now i feel random encounters tend to wear down parties and suck away resources and most of the time just don't make that much sense. I never use them unless the players are moving through a large area and encounters truly are "random". Otherwise, i list "possible encounters" for an area then just cross them off so they do not repeat. These encounters have a little description text to make sure there is some uniqueness about them to make them enjoyable and maintain continuity as needed.

Randomizing encounters sucks away resources you may be counting on the characters having when they hit the planned encounters... so i would say use random encounters carefully and sparingly... use the setting and plot fro drama instead of constant combat - but thats a stylistic choice. In grittier, more realistic systems random encounters can be introducing a lot of negative aspects... so adapt your use of random encounters to the style preferred.

Rook
06-02-2009, 09:17 AM
I, like many others on this thread, use the random encounters tables infrequently. I tend to design several "random" encounters and roll to determine when they occur. I also like to occasionally throw in higher difficulty creatures and see if the PCs can either figure out an innovative way of dealing with the creature/situation (often the best choice is to run and/or hide).

Baldwin Stonewood
06-03-2009, 06:30 AM
I use random encounter tables infrequently but believe they provide an good basis of creatures that "may" lurk in the area. It doesn't matter how often I game, I forget about some of the baddies out there and the RE tables can help. What I do is pregenerate 6 to 12 random encounters, which I always have with me, in case there is a random encounter. This cuts down on in-game time rolling up of NPCs or creatures.

Descronan
04-29-2010, 08:50 AM
I love random encounter charts, but I enjoy making my own so that i can add what I want including any of my own monsters or creatures. I even like making tables for random encounters by terrain and climate. Such as, for example, what would you encounter in a tropical savana or sub-artic scrublands? :confused:


I've been working (slowly) on a program that does this for me. Basically the idea is that the monster name, climate, terrain, CR, and other details can be filtered for including which books you have available. Click the button and it gives you the creature name. Also, you could add your own encounters like a merchant village, gypsy troup, or whatever.

Ultimately I wanted to have over 500 monsters in the database so you could make random encounters of all types.

I haven't used random encounter tables so much. But I have grabbed a book, flipped to a random page, and used that. I always reserve the right to reject whatever comes up and try again. Since the 3.x and higher books don't seem to have their own encounter table I tend to avoid making tables (not enough time)

---------- Post added at 09:50 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:30 AM ----------

One question... What constitutes an "encounter"? To me, an encounter is just that... you meet something. Just because you encounter a dragon doesn't mean its automatically hostile. Perhaps the encounter is a passing encounter like seeing a creature spying on you from a far off vantage. It can be anything from an up close and personal fight to simply watching a dragon flying over you.

I use a sliding scale for starting mood. Usually I just pick the mood, but some times I roll. Basically you have ranges from Murderous to Guarded to Benevolent/Friendly. I use 3d6 so most encounters are guarded or close to it. A troup of goblins traveling with family will try to avoid combat, but won't be happy about humans among them. A war party though will likely just attack. Raiders won't necessarily want to kill, but will definately cut you if you get in the way.

Then there's the level of commitment (morale). How often do your encounters turn into fights? And how many of those fight to the death? Most people realize when they are being defeated and intelligent creatures will retreat, bargain, or beg for mercy. I've been in too many games where the "monsters" fought to the death EVERY TIME! That's like wookies on Endor - it don't make no sense!

templeorder
04-29-2010, 08:54 AM
I've recently changed completely my use of random encounters. The only random encounters i use is in travel through large areas, then i reduce it only to the creatures that wont simply hide or run. The majority of these are wild and can easily be dealt with and scared off, though urban encounters are purposeful and have a reason for focusing on the party. In short, i've nearly completely abandoned them. I script out a few potential real encounters and check to see if they happen at each step.

Some of this is simply due to the fact of limited game time. Random encounters were the thing of the day when i was gaming 3/week - it was great filler and we all loved encountering new critters and killing them. Now it distracts from the main plot and i try and maximize the time i have and reduce the overhead.

cplmac
04-29-2010, 11:31 AM
I've been working (slowly) on a program that does this for me. Basically the idea is that the monster name, climate, terrain, CR, and other details can be filtered for including which books you have available. Click the button and it gives you the creature name. Also, you could add your own encounters like a merchant village, gypsy troup, or whatever.

Ultimately I wanted to have over 500 monsters in the database so you could make random encounters of all types.

Hmm, sounds interesting. I could see this being very useful and drastically cutting down on prep time.

I haven't used random encounter tables so much. But I have grabbed a book, flipped to a random page, and used that. I always reserve the right to reject whatever comes up and try again. Since the 3.x and higher books don't seem to have their own encounter table I tend to avoid making tables (not enough time)

---------- Post added at 09:50 AM ---------- Previous post was at 09:30 AM ----------

One question... What constitutes an "encounter"? To me, an encounter is just that... you meet something. Just because you encounter a dragon doesn't mean its automatically hostile. Perhaps the encounter is a passing encounter like seeing a creature spying on you from a far off vantage. It can be anything from an up close and personal fight to simply watching a dragon flying over you.

For my game, I considered an encounter to be anything that the party, whether as a group or an individual character, comes across. For example, in my "Lost Caverns of Tsojcanth" game, the ranger found a rock that had footprints in the dirt and a rope tied to it. I consider that as encounter, just the same as when the party was attacked by the group of 4 trolls.

I use a sliding scale for starting mood. Usually I just pick the mood, but some times I roll. Basically you have ranges from Murderous to Guarded to Benevolent/Friendly. I use 3d6 so most encounters are guarded or close to it. A troup of goblins traveling with family will try to avoid combat, but won't be happy about humans among them. A war party though will likely just attack. Raiders won't necessarily want to kill, but will definately cut you if you get in the way.

Then there's the level of commitment (morale). How often do your encounters turn into fights? And how many of those fight to the death? Most people realize when they are being defeated and intelligent creatures will retreat, bargain, or beg for mercy. I've been in too many games where the "monsters" fought to the death EVERY TIME! That's like wookies on Endor - it don't make no sense!

Exactly, at one point, the party was traveling along a road an encountered a very large war party of Hobgoblins. The battle was waged and the party kept seeing another group of hobgoblins come around the corner to join in the fight. Finally, the 9th level mage cast fireball on the last group to come around the corner and they could hear many others that hadn't made it around yet to flee. After the party went around the corner, they could see the footprints of the hobgoblins turning and fleeing across the hills. Not every encounter is going to result in fighting every single opponent. Another example is when they came across some stone giants. Instead of attacking right away, one of the characters was able to speak stone giant so he went up and talked with them. By doing this, they got some information about the area and were able to trade some items in exchange for a scroll that the stone giants had.

Obah Bason
05-27-2010, 08:24 AM
I have a table that uses a series of 2d6 rolls to determine outcome. 2d6 is handy, because the value of 7 is the most likely to pop up, so you still have some control over probability. I first roll 2d6 to determine the hostility of the encounter, with 2 being a friendly encounter, 7 indifferent, and 12 immediately hostile. Then I determine the type of interloper, their political and social affiliation, and finally what type of monster roll they fill (is artillery, controller, etc.) Last, I have a random table for terrain the encounter occurs on, and a random hazard or trap. Sometimes I let the players roll random d6s. It's fun, makes them feel like the outcome of the roll has some real and immediate impact on their character.
This has actually resulted in more indifferent encounters than anything, but that just adds some randomness to the role play possibilities.

LightCWU
05-31-2010, 02:35 PM
Then there's the level of commitment (morale). How often do your encounters turn into fights? And how many of those fight to the death? Most people realize when they are being defeated and intelligent creatures will retreat, bargain, or beg for mercy. I've been in too many games where the "monsters" fought to the death EVERY TIME! That's like wookies on Endor - it don't make no sense!

I agree with you that at some point you need to think about wether a reasoning creature would continue this fight. Though I will say I'm always surprised when my party does the same thing. If your getting your butts handed to you as PCs retreat is an option, but so many will choose to follow in Custer's foot steps that it boggles the mind.

Descronan
06-01-2010, 07:37 AM
There would be a good amount of "follow the leader" mentality in combat and in larger combats there is the fog of war that prevents you from KNOWING that you are losing. But players don't have a true life and death scenario. They have the possibility of a benevolant DM, divine intervention, and the possibility that their PC allies will survive, drag their corpse to a cleric and raise them from the dead. Monsters (usually) don't have those reassurances.

Plus it depends on their religious views on death and the afterlife. If they believed that the afterlife is GARANTEED to be better than this life, then they would be more willing to fight to the death (vikings, fanatical terrorists, crusaders). But if their beliefs were more muddy, they would be more cowardly in combat.

templeorder
06-05-2010, 09:37 AM
Random encounters are typically one or a few of a specific creature. Larger bands would seem to be "less random". I've always found most creatures in random encounters are ones scared off by the presence of several well armed and noisy PC's. Most table seem to be laughable as they do not take into account the creatures reactions and are just automatically assumed to be instantly engaging the party - with no though, cunning or self preservation worked in. A black bear? not going to bum-rush a party of even 1st level characters (how would it know what "level" they are?). Random encounters should be more run for flavor - seeing creatures at a distance, getting stalked (but not attacked), or "encountering" them outside of combat. Seems like many could be used more for flavor and effect than to whittle the party down. I guess i would just like GM's to realize that an "encounter" does not have to be combat - scare the PC's with stuff, make them lose sleep and suffer penalties, make them spend supplies setting elaborate traps and protections, be creative!

SirSlither
07-16-2010, 12:14 PM
Random encounter tables are fine things and can be very useful when your PC's throw you a curve. I typical don't use them however. I tend to think of an area geographically on a small enough scale to have every area covered and mapped out in detail as to what is there already............oh hell that's a load of goblin dung. What I do have is a list of encounters that are going to happen it is just up to their actions to determine how and when it is going to happen. I wouldn't go so far as to say scripted, I set the stage and see what my players will do with it. Ah but that is the art of it is , at least what I strive for, some encounters seem random. They may even be random in the game world or in reality I planed to be be random. Sometimes to add foreshadowing or as a red herring.

I have used them to get an idea for a spontaneous game in the past. I think someone even mentioned that above but I am to lazy to see who did but props to you regardless of my shortcomings.

cheers
SirSlither (Apocalypse beast of the root beer cooler)