Wandering Monsters Aren’t the Only Encounters.. (House rules/gaming philosophy)

I’ve been working on the Encounter tables for the current campaign, and it brought up something I’ve been doing for a while.
So, we all know the standard B/X/1e &c. tables run from 2-12, using 1d4 and 1d8 rolled together (and if you didn’t, you’re going to have a rather weird distribution – explanation after the break).  These days, though, I just throw d4/d6/d8 at once.  I originally started adding the d6 to do surprise for whatever I rolled, but then I started including non-combat “encounters” to screw with my players — um, “enhance the atmosphere of the game”. I’ve found it adds considerably to the tension when the players find a smoldering campfire and don’t know whether they’ve just lost a Surprise roll, or only come across an irresponsible camper’s leavings. So I experimented with making larger tables at first, but it never felt right.

Now I use two to three tables, with the d6 determining which the other two dice are rolling on. Generally speaking, even numbers on the 6 are an “event” encounter – stuff like finding signs of another creature or party, roadside shrines, omens, what-have-you. Odds roll on the conventional Wandering Monster tables. To adjust to the changed odds, of course, I have to roll about twice as often as I normally would. I also skip the d6 and just roll directly on the WanMo table for “triggered” checks like smashing apart furniture or noisy fighting among the party. I also occasionally use the d6 for other things, or to adjust the odds of Weird Crap happening – a deserted road in the middle of a plain is going to have a lot more encounters with random ruins, foul omens, or water sources than with other people/monsters, etc., so I might up it to 1-4 or 1-5 being on the “events” table, and only a 6 triggering a true check, or using the 6 as a trigger for a table of one-time encounters replacing some of the “usual” ones. Unique encounters that you re-roll can be replaced with the normal one at your option. You can also have one or more entries on the Creature table drawing from a local lair or “pool”, with a fixed number possible to encounter, and after that ignore the result or replace it with the corresponding event.

Anyway, my current procedure looks like this:
Roll d6 for encounters -> comes up positive
Grab 4/6/8 and check the tables -> find results
(Note: even when it’s a complete non-combat encounter like a gust of wind, I still follow these next two)
Throw a d6 for Surprise, and having the party’s scout do the same
Roll 2d6 for Reactions or Morale based on the party’s actions (if neither, both, or the party got Surprise) and/or appearance (if the critters did). Note that even a person with Surprise and a profoundly negative Reaction roll might still run or hide if it seems like a good idea compared to taking on a pack of heavily-armed murderhobos.
Encounter!

Here’s a sample table for a road through a moderately-traveled forest, with some notes added below:

Sample encounter table

* For omens: Take a quick card reading/roll off a manifestation, or make one up. Can also represent signs of a “sacred” or “cursed” area, a feeling of being watched or protected, etc. Yes, evil omens are more common. Life sucks.
Good Omens: Any hirelings will experience a +1 on morale for the rest of the day and all party members gain an additional point of HP resting that night.
Ill Omens: next Encounter will be a Creature on 2+ instead, and Unique on a 5+. Morale check for any followers, if failed they will refuse to continue
+ Shrines: Use Surprise roll to determine the size or type and the Reaction roll to determine compatibility of the shrine’s faith. Surprise die: 1, 2 = abandoned/ruinous : 3,4 = Maintained roadside shrine : 5 = Single Hermit : 6 = Monastery or Church.
[Examples of Pagan shrines could be stone circles (for a church), roadside offerings, or even Fairy Rings and burial mounds. ]
** Roll again on the Creatures table, and invent an appropriate sign of the potential encounter. If a Creature comes up on the next Encounter roll, disregard the result and replace it with this creature.

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