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 city.

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 forms.

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

Forest borderlands

Mountain borderlands

Settled seacoast

Shallow ocean

Waterfront district, Sulidam

Nobles' district, Sulidam

Artisan's district, Sulidam

Slums, Sulidam

Temple of Martens (a powerful cult of Sulidam)

Sewers of Sulidam

Emperor's Palace

City of Crypts (a cemetery outside Sulidam)

Dungeon of Theos (under an evil wizard's villa in Sulidam)


Coralport jungles

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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