Improving Encounter Tables: 5 Goats are Waiting in Ambush

Following on from the 5E Mountain Encounter Table we look at why an encounter might be in the mountains (or wherever the encounter takes place).

Improving the encounters

As the first of several details I want to add to encounter tables to make them more useful, we are looking at why an encounter might be in the wilderness at random.

The idea is to have a separate table that could be applied to any encounter table to supply a reason for being there. Rolling this manually would be a pain but with an automated generator it becomes a useful additional piece of information.

Context for the Encounter

If the PCs meet a group of 5 orcs then most likely it will end in a fight. If they encounter the same 5 orcs "Waiting for someone or something", then they might get curious, and wander who they are waiting for. They may talk to them or capture and interrogate them, wait and watch or even impersonate them. You may get the chance to tie it into a larger plot thread in the adventure or campaign or make it into something new.

Initial Table

The initial Task (reason for being here) table is used in the DnD 5E Mountain Encounters generator and looked like....

  1. Hunting something
  2. Guarding the path
  3. Partway through a long journey
  4. Fleeing something
  5. Patrolling the area
  6. Waiting in ambush
  7. Nearing the end of a journey
  8. Beginning a journey
  9. Waiting for someone or something
  10. Looking for someone

5 Goats are Waiting in Ambush

When creating the encounters, results such as "5 Goats are waiting in ambush" might be a hilarious one-off encounter. It does highlights a risk of generators, so I looked at trying to make sense and avoid the ridiculous.

This applies for why a creature is there or (next time's) activities. I tried to avoid lions playing chess or a single hill giant debating with itself by classifying the encounters into Solo or Group and Beast or not. Then I could assign these encounters activities that should make sense for them!

Although try ambushing your players with goats once in a while...

More Improvements to Come

Later we move onto tasks, spicing up the encounters and reaction tables.

For now leave a comment with suggestions for Tasks (why they are here) or tweet @pie_dragon