When people ask me about D&D and what it is, I tell them that it’s basically a collaborative storytelling game. You sit around with your friends and pretend you’re other characters and tell a story together. That’s basically it.
And I’m about 85% sure that random encounters don’t help that.
Or at least random encounters rolled at the table.
See, many adventures come with random encounter tables. Your players are traveling through the forest. They take a rest. You roll to see if they get a random encounter.
*rolls a die*
Yup! You’re now fighting … an owlbear. Cool. So you look up the owlbear stat and start running it.
The problem is your preparation. If you’re rolling on a table at the table, you have no clue what the players might be about to fight. Now that can be cool and fun, but in my experience it instead leads to a poorly-designed encounter that feels slapped together and not part of the story.
It feels random.
Instead, try this: roll before the game. If you know your players are traveling through forest, just roll a few times on the table. You use those results to create encounters. 30 seconds of thought into “how can I make this cooler and part of the story?” And then you just sock them away for future use.
Now get out there and tell a story!