Overland Travel Encounters, How to Present Them

Okay. So the PCs are hiking from the base town to some cursed ruin six hexes away. There’s a chance they run into a random encounter during the journey.

To present a dynamic encounter, the GM needs to know what NPCs are encountered, what they’re doing/what they want, and which point of interest (e.g., a well, an abandoned church, a cluster of dolmens) the NPCs are in. How do you like these three pieces of information presented?

  • The random encounter table just lists the NPCs. What they’re doing/what they want is listed with their full stats in a bestiary. Points of interests are predetermined and assigned to each hex.
  • The random encounter table lists the NPCs and what they’re doing. Points of interest are in their own random table or pre-assigned to hexes.
  • The random encounter table entries include everything: the NPCs, what they’re doing, and their location (a point of interest)
  • Other

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I love having everything in random tables (unless it’s something really important for that hex or that the PCs already know), but honestly I prefer them split as in Maze Rats:

  • One table for the NPCs/animals/whatever
  • One table for the activity
  • One table for the location

This way you can combine stuff and maybe reencounter some elements, giving more depth to your world (and maybe promote the standard unnamed NPCs from random encounters to named status).


This is a great point. For the random encounters, I had originally planned on using a 2d6 table with the tail entries (entries 2 and 12) instructing the GM to pick two encounters and have them already interacting when the PCs show up. In the same vein, I think an entry for “the party’s last encounter returns, with a much better/worse reaction” could be fun.

As for points of interest, I prefer having them pre-assigned to hexes so, when the PCs go through the same hex multiple times, the locations within it remain the same.

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I can use random generation for what’s in the hex the first time. I expect it to be sticky, though, so the hex contains the sites it had the first time.


I’m currently stocking a smaller hexcrawl. 1 hex=3 miles. I’m trying this layout

  1. Labeling each hex by it’s terrain type, visually
  2. Each terrain type has an encounter chart with NPC’s and what they are doing.
  3. Each terrain type has a chart of interesting terrain features that can be rolled for where an encounter happens or just a detailed location if one is needed. Hopefully these entries will be evocative enough to support the sense of place.
  4. Each hex is keyed and has assigned features and NPC’s if appropriate.

I want a combination of surprises and some randomness for myself and the players and some “set pieces“ that are important for the regional goings-on.


This sounds really solid. What’s the theme/concept for your hex crawl?