Something I run into frequently when writing (or developing) adventures is how to connect encounters in a meaningful way. Although there's nothing technically wrong with a string of unconnected encounters (fight an ooze in this room, fight some orcs in the next room, and so on), an adventure seems far more authentic if there's some connection between the heroes' fights. I talked about this in an earlier blog, remarking on how dungeon denizens should know their neighbors, but I wanted to branch out to talk about broader encounters that more usually stand alone. These happen a lot during travel.

Let's say you have an oceangoing part of an adventure. You want a straight-up monster fight or two, because you know your heroes need some XP before getting to their location, and you want a roleplaying scene with some pirates. You could just list these as "Encounter A: Sea Monster Attack," "Encounter B: Water Elemental Attack," and "Encounter C: Pirate Negotiations." But that just feels like an unconnected string of stuff. Here's some ways to think about connecting encounters, using these examples:

* One encounter hears about the other. You might start with the sea monster attack, then have the pirates approach the heroes' ship because they've heard the heroes killed the beast that's been haunting these waters. The pirates might even openly admit they would have attacked the heroes' ship, but for the fact the heroes proved themselves dangerously capable by vanquishing the sea monster. Your negotiation scene then feels more natural.

* One encounter needs help with the other. The water elementals might start out by fighting the heroes, but when reduced to some low "the encounter is essentially over" number of hit points, the water elementals retreat a bit and want to talk. Those who can communicate with the elementals learn of a rampaging sea monster that's taken over territory which includes the elemental's portal home; if the sea monster is defeated, these elementals and others in the area can go home. This puts the heroes against the sea monster intentionally, and this can seem like a heroic act if they witness (and are perhaps rewarded by) several other elementals who rush past their ship to return home.

* One encounter happens because of the other. The heroes might have a negotiation with the pirates, and in the course of successful negotiations the pirates agree to give up some of their plunder to the heroes. Unbeknownst to the heroes--but darned well knownst by the pirates--this plunder includes a magic pearl that attracts water elementals. The elemental fight then happens later, but canny heroes can learn of the magic pearl and the pirates' treachery to make the encounter easy or end it prematurely.

One encounter is pursuing the other. Perhaps the sea monster is hunting the water elementals; when the heroes defeat the water elementals, the sea monster catches up and decides to eat the heroes instead. This is the trickiest of the connections, because it's one the players might never realize; to them, it's just one fight against water elementals and then another against a sea monster. A connection the players can't ever learn about isn't really a connection! As a result, this is better to use when the pursuer has enough communication ability to tell the heroes, "you've defeated my prey and now you shall become my prey!" or similar. 

You can use these same techniques for overland travel parts of an adventure, space travel, or even encounters in a large city. You might even connect multiple encounters in a branching series or a long string--and if you do this enough, you've just made an entire mini-adventure on its own. Happy connecting!