Wilderness Encounter Tables

Unlike the dungeon tables, those used for the wilderness are not so neatly organized according to deadliness or power. One principle of wilderness adventuring (which makes it more dangerous for low-level characters) is that virtually any creature can be met--and often in sizeable numbers. This is a risk the players should be aware of before they take their characters out into the untracked forest.

This does not mean that wilderness adventuring should be impossible for low-level characters. It shouldn't be so deadly that they can't walk three steps before a flight of red dragons appears and turns them to ash with one fiery breath! That's just bad refereeing. Low-level characters should have the opportunity to go on wilderness adventures that they can survive.

Perhaps an area of the nearby forest is regularly patrolled by the King's Wardens who drive off the greater threats to the safety of the population. Lone monsters often escape their notice and sometimes raid the outlying farms. Special encounter tables can be created to reflect the lower levels of monsters that do manage to lurk in these woods, providing low-level characters with a decent but not overpowering challenge.

The greatest consideration in creating wilderness encounter tables is to have a separate table for each type of terrain. These need not be created all at once, although tables must exist for the terrain types the characters have to enter during the course of an adventure. Different terrain types that can be used include the following:





Desert, hot or cold




Jungle, subtropical

Jungle, tropical


Mountains, high

Mountains, low

Ocean, deep

Ocean, shallows




Rain forest

Salt marsh


Swamp, tropical

Swamp, temperate

Temperate forest


Wilderness encounter tables can reflect more than just terrain. There are differences between the jungles of Africa and those of Asia or South America. Different areas of jungle (or plains or whatever) can have different properties in a fantasy world, too.

Furthermore, an area's level of civilization should be taken into account. There might be tables for settled farmlands, border areas, and barely explored plains. All cover the same type of terrain, but there are vast differences in the types of encounters.

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