I'm once again turning to the good folks at Stack Exchange for help regarding my non-magical campaign. I've written several encounters in which the PCs fight the main bad guys and their followers (mostly men, elves and dwarves), but I'd like to have some side-encounters here and there throughout the campaign, just to break up parts of the main story line when there isn't a lot of combat.
The problem is, I've created a country where it's really hard to do that. The "creatures" of the world are basically the five races and plain old Earth animals. There aren't were-anythings, kobolds, goblins, etc. I can only do "a group of bandits has overtaken a small village" so many times. I can have the PCs fight a group of bears or wolves, but there's a good chance they won't want to.
Does anyone have any ideas for interesting one-off encounters that don't involve magical or "fantastical" creatures?
Update: The crux of my problem is that I'm short on ideas for creating interesting side-encounters, specifically in terms of "bad guys," in the simple country I've created. There are no "monsters" in this country, just men, elves, dwarves, gnomes, halflings, and animals that we find here on Earth. So, the question is, does anyone have any ideas for making interesting one-off encounters, which do not relate to the main plot, considering the above limitation?
Note: I realize how lame this country sounds. In my defense, once the PCs succeed here, they will journey across a huge desert and finally be ready for some magic and more familiar D&D monsters.
No, I do not want to have some monsters show up who came from across the desert. That sounds like a major red herring for my PCs.
Update to the Update: Thanks everyone for the great answers. I'm going to flat out steal some of yours, but they've inspired some new ideas or tweaks of my own, too. Again, greatly appreciated, everybody.