I used the random encounters in Forest of Spirits, but treated it a bit like a mini-game. I totaled the number of days in the journey and then asked the PCs to make percentile rolls around the table, looking for 10 percent or less. It was a bit of a Press Your Luck "No Whammies" vibe.
They got two encounters in about a month. I tried to make each of those encounters tie in to the story in some fashion. For example, when they got a random encounter with oni-masked bandits, I tied that back to the Minkaian control of The Spirit Road. It added just enough context to make the encounter feel connected to the storyline.
We are using caravan rules with some minor modifications
- The trader feat doesn't add to the Resolve roll, it multiplies it.
- Every 100 miles of distance between where a trade good was bought and where it is sold adds +1 to that special trading Resolve roll.
Obviously, our group is really into the trading aspect of the caravan rolls.