This article is part 6 of the Instant World Builder series.
Working with paths
Most quests require the PCs to travel. Sometimes the journey from point A to point B is an integral part of the adventure. Sometimes it’s just an uneventful journey. Some journeys have to be completed many times: traveling from one city to another for example.
You can save a lot of world building time by focusing around the paths the PCs are likely to take.
Plot hooks for the journey
Instead of creating a random plot hook that the PCs might not care about, it can be interesting to create a plot hook around a road the PCs – or NPCs – use often. The obvious example that comes to mind is a road where merchants are consistently ambushed by highway robbers.
You can introduce the plot hooks just before the PCs leave on an adventure, or maybe earlier in the campaign so you can build hype.
Even if you don’t plan anything a random rumor of thieves or monsters around the road will keep your players on their toes.
Aren’t random encounters a great way to save time? They’re the apex of non-preparation. By keeping the random encounters really random – easy, appropriate, and impossible EL – you can keep the players guessing and combat is always fun.