What follows was initially part of the Athenaeum’s recent post on bringing wandering monsters into the fourth-edition (4e) Dungeons & Dragons game; the discussion of choosing, preparing and defending a campsite to defend against overnight random encounters quickly became large enough to warrant its own posting, published below.
Heroes in the D&D game spend a great deal of time traveling through dangerous regions, and battles during such journeys are common. Most published fourth edition (4e) products have such battles taking place in broad daylight, when the heroes are rested with full equipment; players naturally prefer (and most 4e designers seem to be willing to provide) such circumstances, as they maximize their characters’ offensive and defensive capacities. But would all enemies choose to engage a powerful band of heroes in this fashion?
Excepting villains who abide by a code of honor requiring them to avoid attacking from advantage, most villains would answer no to that question. Would it not be more effective, and far less risky, to follow a group of heroes until they stop traveling and camp for the night? At that time, the heroes are literally stripped of much of their protection, as it is impossible to have any rejuvenating rest while wearing armor; most of them will likely be asleep; and villainous forces can ambush the comparably vulnerable heroes from cover of darkness.