Random "encounters" for camps/cities?

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My players are going to run a camp that is supposed to turn into a stronghold as the players level up. But I need some good ideas for what can happen as random "encounters". The players are members of a guild that is fighting for influence in a world with several different, conflicting factions.

My thought is to roll a d20 for every couple of days that go by. If the roll is low, something bad happens - disasters, ambush, lost patrols, a faction becomes more aggressive - if it's high something good happens. Like extra income or the finding of special magic items. Point is, something's gotta happen when the players are biding their time or waiting for certain other events.

So give me all your ideas, or better - give me a link for some already made of tables. Thanks!

My players are going to run a camp that is supposed to turn into a stronghold as the players level up. But I need some good ideas for what can happen as random "encounters". The players are members of a guild that is fighting for influence in a world with several different, conflicting factions.

My thought is to roll a d20 for every couple of days that go by. If the roll is low, something bad happens - disasters, ambush, lost patrols, a faction becomes more aggressive - if it's high something good happens. Like extra income or the finding of special magic items. Point is, something's gotta happen when the players are biding their time or waiting for certain other events.

So give me all your ideas, or better - give me a link for some already made of tables. Thanks!


Try to get your hands on a copy of the Apocalypse World rules. There's a character called the Hardholder who runs a camp and has to roll regularly to determine the prevailing conditions for the camp. That might give you some ideas.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

Look also at the D&D boardgames like Legend of Drizzt. They have Event tiles that are essentially random encounters. They don't conform to the combat rules of the rest of the game, which I think is brilliant and try to do with my own "random" encounters.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

The old 2e Birthright campaign set had a table in there for "domain events" (or words to that effect), stuff that would happen on a monthly basis to your kingdom. I always thought it was cool and might fit for what you're lokoing for.

You might consider this, too: Ask your players what happens during the downtime and talk about it as a group. Ask questions, leading or otherwise, and use what the players give you to tell the tale of what happened between other events in the game. If you're willing to roll on a chart written by some dude you don't know 20 years ago to see what happens, then I don't see why you couldn't just let your players decide. A group of people can often be a great random idea generator.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

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Thanks for the replies. I am going to use some of what you guys have said.

I like the idea of group participation; however, since I need something bad to happen at some time, the players obviously can't be part of the decision. But I will let the players built their own "system" used to run the camp/stronghold - they get to choose what's important, what they want to focus on, etc.

I like the idea of group participation; however, since I need something bad to happen at some time, the players obviously can't be part of the decision.



Players when asked to help you build an interesting scene will often choose complications for themselves as long as they trust you enough to use it to produce cool action. Nothing is "bad" as long as it's interesting, even potential setbacks or crises the PCs have to face. There are some players with failure mitigation syndrome, I realize, but that is something they can grow out of. And should.

Ask the question like this and see what they say: "It's been a month since the [last campaign event]. Your camp has been growing apace and things have been good until you faced a major setback. What was it?" Then ask follow-up questions on how they dealt with it, what it all means, what their characters think about it, who is on their revenge list if applicable, etc. Fish for elements you can bring back later and use them.

For any decision or adjudication, ask yourself, "Is this going to be fun for everyone?" and "Is this going to lead to the creation of an exciting, memorable story?"

DMs: Dungeon Master 101  |  Session Zero  |  Structure First, Story Last  |  No Myth Roleplaying  |  5e Monster Index & Encounter Calculator
Players: Players 101  |  11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer  |  You Are Not Your Character  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs

Content I Created: Adventure Scenarios  |  Actual Play Reports  |  Tools  |  Game Transcripts

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

I like the idea of group participation; however, since I need something bad to happen at some time, the players obviously can't be part of the decision.



Players when asked to help you build an interesting scene will often choose complications for themselves as long as they trust you enough to use it to produce cool action. Nothing is "bad" as long as it's interesting, even potential setbacks or crises the PCs have to face. There are some players with failure mitigation syndrome, I realize, but that is something they can grow out of. And should.

Ask the question like this and see what they say: "It's been a month since the [last campaign event]. Your camp has been growing apace and things have been good until you faced a major setback. What was it?" Then ask follow-up questions on how they dealt with it, what it all means, what their characters think about it, who is on their revenge list if applicable, etc. Fish for elements you can bring back later and use them.



Great advice! Although my players may not be ready for this kind of thing, they can start learning. Start small. This will take them places I don't they've ever been, mindset-wise, and I would love to develop their scope as players.


I like the idea of group participation; however, since I need something bad to happen at some time, the players obviously can't be part of the decision.

I think you'd be surprised. As long they are letting you cause bad things to happen to them, rather than arguing that the bad things shouldn't have happened, or should have been less bad, or their character isn't present and is therefore not affected, then at some level they want bad things to happen to their characters. Therefore, to some degree, they could themselves imagine bad things that might happen to their characters and would tell these to you.

I've been in lots of games in which I have an idea for how things could go wrong in a cool way, and what the DM actually tosses at us is far too gentle and forgiving. Try to find out what your players expect will go wrong and give them that in spades.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I would suggest not going with your original idea of just rolling on a random table to see if something goes wrong and determine what calamity befalls. Instead, describe a problem that the players' characters might encounter or forsee and then give them the chance to make skill checks to avoid the calamity.

So, instead of: "OK, I rolled a 7, so a band of marauding orcs attacks your camp in the night!"

You would do something more like: "What are you doing to secure the camp?" "My ranger will scout around the local countryside." [Makes Nature check.] "My bard will ask the local peasants what kind of monsters tend to cause problems in this area." [Makes Streetwise/Diplomacy check.] "My wizard will place magical wards along possible routes to the camp." [Makes Arcana check.] "OK, your preparations allowed you to ambush a party of orcs that was on their way to attack you."

That way, even if you don't feel you can trust the players to come up with appropriate challenges in the first place, you're still giving them agency in avoiding or dealing with the challenge, rather than having them feel like they're purely at the mercy of a random table. In the orcs example, if the PCs had screwed up their skill checks or failed to come up with any good ideas, the orcs would have surprised them while they slept. If they'd aced all the checks, the orcs wouldn't even have attacked, seeing the camp as too well-defended, or might even have come to offer an alliance with the PCs (note that the PCs should still get full XP for 'defeating' the encounter in this case). Rolling moderately well meant the orcs did still attack, but the PCs knew they were coming and surprised the orcs rather than the other way around.

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