Random encounters don’t have to be all that random! They can have links to the local powerful entity or monster, which we will refer to as a ‘scheming lord’ from now on! If you run into something, it can gives a clue that someone who is powerful with a number of minions is enacting some (nefarious?) plan. Roll 1D4 on the following chart. Each entry has details for intelligent forces and for beasts – use the one that is applicable. The chart can be extended and if the views for this page is good then I know this is a table to extend in the near future!
- The cursed
Intelligent: Some sort of side effect of the scheming lords plans have affected a local raiding group, making them have to move out of their land. Perhaps poisonous chemicals used for mining or a spell ritual who’s malignant magic oozed out over the landscape. But the raiders are definitely affected, with visible glowing pustules formed on them. And perhaps while dying after a fight (if that happens), some might moan of the terrible thing that came upon their lands, giving information about the scheming lords plans that way. When it’s bad for raiders, you know it’s bad for you!
Beasts: Similarly affected. Here the effects might be more detailed (from longer exposure as the beast didn’t realise it should move away) and as a result reveal more information to an investigating PC. This would reveal information about what causes such a dread effect on a creature.
- Local hire ons
Intelligent: The underlings of the scheming lord have some coin to spend on local forces, who know the area better than they do or who are just plain expendable and used as a buffer between opposing forces and the lords own retinue, who are harder to replace. Generally sent out on basic patrols or basic recon – they are not relied upon for serious work, only the basic grunt work of a project.
Beasts: Perhaps trained guard animals allowed to patrol/prowl the area they are tasked to. Or the handlers of the beasts are hiding in the bushes or ruins after having commanded their charges to rush in. Either way, this is a local force hired by the underlings of the scheming lord because they don’t want anyone around these parts. If they had handlers, those would flee but could potentially have left behind documents/clues about the lords plans. If it was autonomous guard animals, they may have collars whose construction hints to the lord. Or they may be branded with a specific sign or sigil.
Intelligent: Rather than being in pay of the scheming lord, this group has stolen from the lords supplies. Perhaps they mostly stole food and booze, having eaten most of it already. But they still carry around the bags branded with the lords mark or that gives clue to whose supplies these were. The litter left behind the raiding group could lead to an outlier of the lords forces.
Beasts: Similarly beasts have raided the scheming lords forces and taken supplies, or perhaps even killed and snatched away some of the guards from one of the scheming lords bases. Either way they leave a trail that could lead to one of the lords outer positions.
- The scheming lords own forces!
Intelligent: They are part of an expeditionary force of the scheming lord, sent out here searching for something (they have some documentation on them that hints at what they were looking for or outright states it)
Beast: They were driven out of their natural habitat by the scheming lords forces as they spread out. Some of them have arrows in them with the distinctive fletching the powerful lord uses. Or they have been struck and the marks left on the beast are distinctive to the weapons the scheming lord distributes amongst his soldiers.