Special Encounter Tables
In addition to tables for dungeons and wilderness areas, the DM can create
others for any type of special situation he creates. The most common of these are
encounter tables for towns and cities. These are not properly wilderness and
certainly aren't dungeons. The players shouldn't expect to meet bands of ravening
beasts intent on death and destruction (unless it's a very peculiar city!).
Town and city encounters will be with people, mostly player character races,
of different social classes and occupations. Guardsmen, merchants, beggars,
urchins, teamsters, and craftsmen plying their trade are all likely encounters for
A single encounter table will do for most small villages and towns. Such
places have a great deal in common, although the DM can certainly create
distinctions between villages on the coast and those well inland.
Cities, however, tend to have unique characters. Just as Los Angeles is
different from New York or Paris from Marseilles, different cities in a fantasy world
should feel different to the characters. Each major city should have a unique
encounter table to reflect these differences.
Indeed, even within a city there may be different encounter tables to reflect
the character of the city's districts. The villas on the hillside are no less
dangerous than the waterfront, but these dangers take more subtle and insidious
In the end, there is no limit to the degree of subdivision that can be applied
to encounter tables. Cities, individual districts, specific complexes within
those districts, and buildings within those complexes could all have separate
encounter tables. However, they do not need to. The DM should only concern
himself with those areas he knows or thinks the players are going to frequent! There
is no reason to do pointless work—the DM has enough responsibility already.
For example, suppose the DM decides to create tables for the Empire of Orrim.
Orrim stretches from the Harr Mountains to the Sea of Faldor. North of it lies
the Forest of Bane, a place noted for its evil denizens. Most of the empire is
agricultural, but the mountain district is heavily devoted to mining. Several
large, underground complexes have been built.
There are two major cities—Sulidam, the capital, located on the coast, and
Coralport, a pirate stronghold on an island offshore. To limit his work, the DM
decides to start the characters in a small village of the mining district, close
to an abandoned mine (his dungeon).
First, the DM creates the following tables:
• Dungeon levels 1-4 (for the abandoned mine)
• Village encounters
• Black Opal Inn (the residence of the player characters)
After a while, the characters want to go exploring. Now the DM adds some new
encounter tables to his collection. These include:
• Settled mountains (for low-level wilderness)
• High mountains (for more dangerous adventures)
• Settled plains (for when the characters travel to the capital)
Working in this manner, the DM gradually creates a complete set of encounter
tables. When he is finished, his collection might look like this, in addition to
those already mentioned.
Forest of Bane
Waterfront district, Sulidam
Nobles' district, Sulidam
Artisan's district, Sulidam
Temple of Martens (a powerful cult of Sulidam)
Sewers of Sulidam
City of Crypts (a cemetery outside Sulidam)
Dungeon of Theos (under an evil wizard's villa in Sulidam)
The Harpooned Whale, an inn of Coralport
Hargast Mine (an opening to the Underdark)
By creating the tables gradually, the campaign world slowly begins to define
itself and take shape before players' eyes.
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