Should You Use Random Encounters?

Some argue that random encounters are foolish and should not be used. These people maintain that everything should be under the control of the DM, that there should be no surprises for him while playing the game.

Certainly, random encounters can be abused through overuse, and they can create illogical encounters. (The word foolish would certainly apply to the DM who allowed the characters to be attacked by an orc war-band in the middle of a peaceful human city!) However, when used judiciously, random encounters add to everyone's fun in a couple of ways.

Variety: Random encounters introduce variety the player characters didn't expect. The characters, exploring a dungeon, become overconfident if they only encounter monsters in chambers and rooms. Random encounters reminds them that any second could be dangerous, no matter where they are.

DM Challenge: Random encounters make the game more exciting for the DM. The game has to be fun and challenging for him as well as the players. Part of the challenge for the DM is to improvise an encounter on the spot. The DM gets involved and excited, improving the play of the game.

To use a random encounter, the DM doesn't just open his rulebook and blindly pick a monster (although there is nothing that says he can't do this). Instead, he uses or creates specific tables that are tailored to the needs of the adventure and adventuring area, by including only those monsters or NPCs that are appropriate to the setting.

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