I usually like to customise my random encounters, give each of them a bit more depth or reason to happen. Even if its as simple as “the goblin party is out hunting for food, they won’t tangle with the party unless they think they can win” and the like. And sometimes I go over the top and they turn into something bigger than I expect. Either way I feel its a good idea, time permitting, to add a little bit more life into the random encounter tables when you can. Here is one for Lords of Rust the second adventure in the series. The idea there is a drow version of the Technic League somewhere beneath Scrapwall with an army of drow equipped with lasers and lightsabers is both scary (for the players) and tantalising (for the DM).
When the Chrysalis module fell to Pangaea and scattered its cargo across the area, the bulk of it landed on top of a cave that descended into the upper reaches of the Underdark. Millennia later, a clan of dark elves, known as the Svartálfar, discovered the clogged rift and began collecting the strange materials. The clan studied what they found, and their spellcasters discovered various means to repurpose some of this space junk using methods similar to those employed by the Technic League. A pair of sibling dark elves frequently makes trips to the surface to collect more junk to be worked into bizarre contraptions and dangerous weapons. The drow fight anyone who gets between them and their prize.
Description. You see a group off oddly clad creatures hunting around some wreckage. They all carry strange looking rifles and wear full dull golden body armour similar to plate. However, the way they move indicates this is not the case. Their faces are hidden behind masks as is the rest of their bodies. The only flesh you see exposed are long jetblack elven like ears.
Gear. These creatures carry drow versions of technological weapons that will crumble to dust after one hour of exposure to sunlight. Their mask act as a sunlight filter and will not crumble to dust.
Encounter Building Info. All the drow wear drow made sunlight vulnerable armour and weapons giving them AC 20 and +2 to attack with range and energy blades. They use dart-casters which have the usual drow sleep poison and energy blades. This is a hard encounter for 6 level 5 PCs. Adjusted XP is 5,700
- 4x Drow
- 2x Drow Elite Warrior
And you can easily amp up the difficulty by adding a drow mage and then a drow priestess and so on as needed.
Flavour Encounter. I usually have an encounter with this group before I spring any potential combat encounter. In this case I had them turn up immediately after the characters clear the Haunted Valley to scour the the area for technology. Since I also had an agent of Redtooh there, a waiting ratman to see if the group comes back at all, he can explain who they are. Of course my players didn’t ask. Lesson (re)learned – don’t be subtle with players, just tell them flavour related information outright.