Building Encounters, Activity and Mission
Encounter Building

Building Encounters, Activity and Mission

Duncan Thomson

Why are the creatures here? What are they currently doing?

[Art by Bob Greyvenstein]

Using Random Tables

Tables can be used to choose and deepen encounters. They can find ones appropriate for a terrain or give details about an encounter's location, motivation, treasure and allies.

Tables can be used as simple inspiration, picking what you like or is most appropriate. They are essentially lists.

Here I'm looking at their mission and activity.

What are they doing?

Creatures are always doing something, even if that something is nothing.

Splitting this into two parts, the first is... Why are they in the area? (Mission)

This gives context for how they may deal with the PCs. If they are fleeing from a natural disaster that's pretty different from searching for a lost friend or following tracks.

Many animals and other creatures don't need a reason for being in the area. It's simply where they live.

The second part is...What are they currently doing? (Activity)

This is useful for how alert they are and something to describe to the group. Two orcs walking along a path is quite different to those same orcs digging a hole, drunkenly singing or chasing butterflies.

So below are a few simple tables to illustrate this for sentient creatures (humanoids, centaurs and the like) and any creature.

Anyone Activity

1d10They are... (or one is...)
1 watching (or hiding from) a nearby threat
2sleeping or digging
3 swimming (or washing in) a water source
4 imprisoned (or restrained) in some way
5 chasing (or being chased by) something
6 in need of help
7watching something in the distance
8investigating (or playing with) an unusual object
9making lots of noise
10 feasting on something

Sentient Activity

1d10They are... (or one is...)
1 building something or roll on Anyone Activity
2 relaxing or playing with a pet
3 late for something or roll on Anyone Activity
4 having an argument (or celebration); (or performing a ritual)
5carrying a body or roll on Anyone Activity
6 talking to locals (or travelers)
7 lighting (or putting out) a fire or roll on Anyone Activity
8 training (or playing with) beasts
9 on high alert or roll on Anyone Activity
10 looting something (or robbed of everything)


Why are they in the area?

1d10They are
1 part of (or associated with) a local settlement
2 looking for others of their kind
3on a spiritual journey or on a quest
4 having an argument (or celebration)
5 partway through a journey (or migration)
6looking for a new home (or on patrol)
7following someone (or something)
8 near their home (or starting a new phase in their life)
9 guarding (or watching over) the area
10 looking for a place (or the characters)

Finishing Up

Encounters is one of my main things with generators, D&D tables and e-books of random tables.

This is part of a series dealing with encounters.