Adventure Path Random Encounters


Pathfinder Adventure Path General Discussion


How much do people utilize these? Are they just a legacy from traditional D&D?

I know that they play a key part in exploring in Kingamker

But what about other APs where travelling can be a big thing but no encounters are planned on route.

For example Book 2 of reign of winter has something like a 9 day overland journey (albeit with some encounters already factored in). There are long overland treks in Book 4 of Rise and Book 3 of Hell's Rebels (among others I am sure)

This is not to mention the Urban campaigns that can in theory have random encounters at 20-30% chance every hour (usually capped at 2 per day)

Do people stick to these? Because in some instances this can add dozens more encounters.

Or is it something to exercise creativity on in trying to turn as many as possible into just "encounters" and not necessarily combats

(An example I saw from back when running Reign of Winter is rather than TPK your level 1 party with a Yeti just show tracks close to their camp in the morning and scare the life out of them...)


Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Different GMs will have very different takes, but I always roll for random encounters. It helps keep things lively during periods of travel I enjoy the instant improvisation required when going off-script.


Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I used the ones in books 3 and 4 of Mummy's Mask for the exploration areas. Also they have been useful in running Ruins of Azlant.


Depending on what the players are doing as to if/how I use them...

If they're traveling somewhere in the wilderness I'll roll and the PCs usually find signs of the monster (yeti tracks are a good example of that) but I'll rarely do a random fight. (It'll likely only happen once a day so the PCs can blow through a lot of their high powered things without worrying about it, random fights shouldn't be a huge threat, I'd be disappointed if I killed a PC in a random encounter, and I find combat really boring so I'd rather have them see something interesting or have a social interaction with the creature.)

If they're trying to do something they know is dangerous but worth the effort and the adventure doesn't take it into account I'd roll and have monsters they have to get through. (Eg: In my game the PCs were trying to stay hidden as traversing the city was dangerous to them so they used the sewers. I didn't want it to be too easy but still reward them for their plan so they had two or three encounters that I rolled up on the chart rather than the 5 or so they would've had walking down the street.)

Hexploration (like in Kingmaker or Mummy's Mask) I'll roll and roughly half the time make it a violent encounter.

Random Encounters in cities are only used if there's a chance to get some character interaction going but usually my players are invested enough that I don't need to add extra, random ones in.

Oh, and sometimes I roll on the chart and completely hand-wave the fights because they're usually not worth running but saying that there are fights let's the players know that the area is dangerous to random NPC that are low level.


I use random encounters, but only if they serve a purpose. I wouldn't send something random against them when I know the party will beat the encounter without really spending any ressources. I also won't use the same random encounter twice, unless there is a very good reason. This naturally limits the amount of encounters they will face.

We are playing the AP to experience a story after all and random encounters typically don't add to it in a meaningful way. You still want to use some of them to show the players the area is dangerous, but devoting most of your session to simply fight random stuff feels like a waste of time.


It all kind of makes me question why the tables are there

I assume there are some very old school players who just expect that element of the game?

My main thought is with Warped Savant in how disappointed I would be if a random encounter killed a character or worse the party

My current plan is to perhaps try and use them to highlight some party weaknesses (flying enemies) and beyond that just show the aftermath and link to the story

But there are some things on some of the tables that can straight up kill a group even if it is only CR+2 and the combat is the only one in the day (I am looking at you Peluda )


I found the random encounter tables great when my players in Hells Rebels would veer off the books and unerringly want to do something weird, so I could throw a random encounter at them in order to distract them for 20-30 minutes while my mind churned through "so I need to populate npc's and encounters for a quest where the players infiltrate the upper class's food stores and poison their grain"


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The best use of random encounter tables it to give the GM ideas for what are thematically/geographically appropriate encounters to include as a quick one-off with minimal planning.


Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber; Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
Xenocrat wrote:
The best use of random encounter tables it to give the GM ideas for what are thematically/geographically appropriate encounters to include as a quick one-off with minimal planning.

Indeed. I use the tables to get ideas of what danger lurks in an area, and use that to craft an encounter for the party. This can be helpful if you use XP and the party is behind where they should be, or just if you want to have a fun encounter.

In part three of Rise of the Runelords the party travels from Magnimar to Turtleback Ferry. Instead of having a week-long journey just take a minute of description, I had a group of boggards and giant frogs led by a marsh giant attack the party's ship while it was anchored for the night in the swollen river.

I also did the same for when they were trekking through the Shimmerglens later in the same book. They trespassed through the territory of some lizardfolk and could either parley with them or fight. My party chose to fight, because murderhobos. This encounter may have also happened because I just got my Maze of Death case of minis and wanted to put some of them to good use.


Xenocrat wrote:
The best use of random encounter tables it to give the GM ideas for what are thematically/geographically appropriate encounters to include as a quick one-off with minimal planning.

Indeed, there are times when it feels like "there needs to be something here" is just a feel thing and the encounter tables are for when that feeling hits and you don't have anything else to be prepared.

If you don't think there needs to be anything additional to fight in a given series of scenes, then skip the table.


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In one game I was in, we were 1st level fresh out of toen going to another nearby town. The random encounter rolled was Red Dragon.

So the DM made us roll to see if we spotted it, most did so we hide in the nearby forest. DM was a bit of a bastard and had the juvenile Dragon land near where we were in the open, sniff about as he approached the woods then left.

So yeah, random encounters doesn't have to mean a fight (unless players are being radh), could be an opportunity for a social encounter and a bit of role play or a chance to foreshadow what is to come.


Lanathar wrote:
It all kind of makes me question why the tables are there

Because if a GM is using experience points and only leveling when the players have enough XP the GM will likely need to throw in some random encounters to get the players to the level they're supposed to be at for various events in the APs.

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