I'm a GM and like for my players to have several interesting encounters when making long road journeys between cities. I especially enjoy when the party has options of how to deal with what they encounter, rather than killing everything that moves. Moral ambiguity is interesting too. I'm not a fan of rolling on a wilderness encounter table and coming up with "4 goblins" or "6 wolves". I know, I know, I can flesh it out myself, but often do not have time to prepare.

So I'm looking for a good resource, and one that is preferably of the dead tree variety. I think Johnn Four's "100 Roadside Encounter Ideas" has a lot of good stuff in it, especially since many of the encounters are (probably) non-combat, but I'd like to see ideas like these fleshed out into a one page per encounter format, or something similar. Pretty much any fantasy RPG system is acceptable. Please help!

To hopefully make my question clearer, I am looking for a pre-made roadside/wilderness encounters (not Encounters) book that I can use in my OSR game. Something more fleshed out than a wandering monster table.


I've gotten a lot of mileage (har, har) out of Atlas Games' En Route series from their Penumbra line for 3e D&D. There's 3 in the series and they're more than one page each, probably an 8 page mini-adventure each on average.

Harder to get but more totally on point is the AD&D Book of Lairs, full of one page (sometimes two, for especially large groups like the 251 hobgoblins that merit a map) fleshed out random encounter/lairs for use on treks. There was a Book of Lairs II as well I think. They're not on dndclassics.com however so may take some doing to obtain.

Unfortunately these are light on the flavor/non-combat encounters so I'd like to hear other resources as well. I always want some big ol' encounter tables full of random fluff as well as Monster Encounters (tm) on my wilderness travel games, and though there have been a couple charts like that made for specific adventures over time, it's pretty rare and ends up being mostly "roll percentile to determine monster."

  • \$\begingroup\$ I independently discovered the En Route books and bought #1 and #3. They are really good, and I especially like the "Hell Cow" encounter. As you said, they are a little longer than I would ideally like, but still very good. I would have never thought to look at the Book of Lairs, so thank you! I am about to order! \$\endgroup\$ – user382903 Aug 26 '14 at 0:44

My recommendation is to take a look at the WFRP 2E WFRP GM Pack and Toolkit (PDF $5US, but printable to meet the dead tree criteria). I've used this several times in my campaign for short RP sessions.

Samples from the Wilderness Encounters section include:

Around a bend in the road a travelling tinker trudges into view, his wares clanking on his back. The tinker, whose name is Waldemar, is more than happy to offer his services to the characters, and for a few pennies will mend their broken buckles, knives, pots and cups.


The characters run into a fleeing man, dressed only in his undergarments. He pleads for their help but a few minutes later an angry torch waving mob appear on his heels screaming something about the village elder’s daughter.

System Context Tips

There are GM tips for running the encounters in a WFRP 2E System Context. I think this is important because presenting the System Context in such a way provides the OSR GM a context framing for their favorite OSR rule set.

Encounter Settings

The following encounter settings are provided for the GM in a randomized table for each setting:

Cities of the Empire

  • Building and Establishments
  • We Don't Go Into the Sewers (brief ideas about fantasy sewers)
  • Street Encounters
  • Thieves and Beggars (tips for thief and beggar encounters)
  • Inns of the Empire (20 inns and taverns)
  • Bugman's Pub Rules (three (3) simple tavern gambling games)

The Great Wilds

  • Roads, Forests, and Farms
  • Natural Hazards
  • Wilderness Encounters
  • Outlaws and Animals
  • Villages, Towns, and Settlements
  • Something Strange

I have used the GM Toolkit effectively to seed a number of RP encounters, even established a small campaign in a border village where Orcs and provincial politics threatened to start a civil war.


There's a fan made module for Hârn called 101 encounters which can be used for any setting really. The encounters can really add spice to a campaign. I've only used a few of the encounters in a campaign I ran but it sure was handy.


Of Dice and Dragons, a blog by Scot Newbury, has some really nice ideas for encounters, organized by creature or featured NPC, you happen to need. Most are non-combat.

It's worth a look :)


For the sake of completeness, I have also found Book of Lairs 2, which seems to get slightly better reviews than Book of Lairs 1, primarily due to the larger number of authors writing the encounters. Also, there are good reviews of Mongoose's Book of Encounters and Lairs. Unlike the TSR books of lairs that go up to about level 10, Mongoose's book goes up to about level 20.


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