For if your sandbox world starts to feel too static, a table of random events to amaze and confound your players. I'm not sure if this is really a problem that anyone needs solving, but it could be fun. You could roll on the table at regular intervals, or even do it whenever the PCs return to civilisation. Most of these are designed not to be adventure hooks so much as interesting details in the background.
What’s Been Happening Lately? (d30)
The word certain indicates a random method of selection.
1 – War breaks out between a certain two neighbouring states. Roll again to determine the cause of the war:
1 – Holy crusade after an ecumenical council was ruined by an event involving a drunken abbot, a reliquary, and a stream of piss.
2 – Border zone that nobody wanted suddenly becomes valuable after the discovery of numerous jewelled beetles breeding there.
3 – Auguries said it would be a good idea.
4 – Escalating series of diplomatic incidents which began with a case of cross-border pig-snatching.
5 – The two states hold an ancient grudge ever since their war in ancient times. Roll again to find out what the war was about last time. And yes, you can get this result again.
6 – The army just needs to plunder something or they’re going to get antsy.
2 – One settlement suffers an outbreak of Creeping Pustules. The entire area is quarantined for 1-4 months while the disease runs its course. Those foolish enough to enter the town during this time are at least 25% likely to die a truly awful death.
3 – 1-4 adjacent hexes are discovered to be concealing a rich vein of gold. Prospectors arrive immediately and begin digging. The actual mining operation is far too boring for adventurers to involve themselves with, but the defence and/or robbery of the mines is an acceptable pastime.
4 – The leader of a certain state dies, retires, is deposed, or otherwise passes on his or her power, as per the political customs of the state in question. The people agree that the new leader is 1) worse than the old one 2) better than the old one or 3) much the same.
5 – Fire-breathing horse gets into the grain silo at one settlement, resulting in a food shortage. All food prices are doubled for 2-5 months. Meanwhile the horse is put on trial for its heinous crime.
6 – Sudden craze of hats in a certain settlement. All hats triple in value overnight. News of this spreads outwards, so that within a month or so the prices will have increased in other settlements as well due to merchants buying up hat stocks. The craze ends after 2-12 months.
7 – Violent coup takes place in a certain settlement. The old leader is overthrown by force of arms. The new ruler is 1) a gibbering madman 2) a starry-eyed revolutionary 3) a greedy opportunist 4) plotting something atrocious.
8 – A delicious new confection, the Jellied Cream Worm, becomes popular in one settlement. Over the course of a year it will spread to other settlements due to its mouth-watering flavour.
9 – One settlement becomes overpopulated by dogs. Various breeds of dog, nobody knows how they got there.
10 – A dragon arrives from distant lands and makes its lair in a certain hex. From there, it terrorizes anyone it can find within 30 miles, demanding a tribute of gold-plated skulls.
11 – An ancient relic is discovered in a vault or an attic of a certain settlement. Roll on the Artifacts table in the Dungeon Master’s Guide 1st Edition for what it is. The owner of the artifact puts it on display in the settlement, though it will be heavily guarded and sealed away again after 2-4 months.
12 – A brave warrior sets out into a certain wilderness hex and builds his stronghold there. Wandering monsters are no longer a problem in this area, but the knight demands tribute to those who pass through his lands.
13 – A new road is established from a certain settlement to the nearest other settlement. This road is tended by lamplighters and is relatively free of monstrous incursion. Well, it’s more pleasant that the wilderness, at any rate.
14 – A villager blasphemes against the river god or the storm god. As punishment, the river or the ocean floods. 3-12 adjacent hexes are affected by the flood. The waters rise around five feet above the ground. After 1-4 months, the waters subside.
15 – A shooting star at a festival makes for a romantic evening in a certain settlement. Nine months later, the settlement is overrun with babies. With more mouths to feed, all families in the area become more willing to send off likely lads to become hirelings to disreputable adventurers.
16 – Citizens of one settlement have the ill fortune to have offended a powerful witch. Their curse is as follows:
1 – Finger of right hand stuck fast in left nostril
2 – Lumpy thighs and ankles
3 – Cannot open any doors in the settlement from dusk till dawn
4 – Cannot recognise faces; they begin to identify themselves by arrangements of colourful flowers pinned to their breasts
5 – Obsession with ever more exaggerated forms of politeness
6 – When they are cut, coins spill out instead of blood
17 – Head of a certain state proclaims that a new currency shall be minted, bearing his regal face on its coinage. All savings in the old currency must be cashed in within 6 months or deemed worthless.
18 – Boiling storm clouds move in over 2-8 hexes and sit there. All day long for a month it rains. Inhabitants are gloomy and irritable at the end of it.
19 – Immigrants from somewhere off the map arrive cold and hungry at a certain settlement. They bring with them woven baskets, strange dances, unknown crafts of glazed pottery. They increase the settlement’s population by 20%, but are forced to live in slums on the edge of town.
20 – Crude printing press set up in a certain settlement. Immediately put to use printing holy books, radical pamphlets, erotic literature and penny dreadfuls. Fad dies down within 6 months after populace realizes that the concept clearly has no future. All printed materials are thrown away or used as cheap wallpaper.
21 – A certain mountain turns out to be a dormant volcano. It erupts. A third of the residents of the hex are killed, the rest manage to flee. Thereafter, the landscape is somewhat changed and there are more fire-type monsters roaming there.
22 – A certain monster tribe (orcs, kobolds, etc.) attacks the nearest settlement and carries off a fair amount of treasure. If the PCs have banked their loot at this settlement, there is a 50% chance for each player that their savings have been stolen.
23 – A certain monster tribe is blessed to have a young savant amongst them. He invents irrigation and they become peaceful agriculturalists from now on.
24 – A sleepy baker accidentally causes a great fire that rages out of control through a certain settlement. Most of the residents survive, but 40% of all wooden structures in the settlement are destroyed.
25 – A band of upstart adventurers raid a dungeon and acquire some treasure from it. They then go to the nearest settlement to spend their gold and boast of their exploits.
26 – A fierce (but perfectly natural) tornado sweeps through 2-8 hexes in a roughly straight line. Anything in its path is torn up or flattened. Loose objects are picked up by the tornado and deposited at the end of its path.
27 – Grand funeral of a dearly beloved public figure. Seven days of mourning, followed by the entire settlement turning out for the funeral procession, during which time their houses are unguarded.
28 – Enormous heist pulled off by daring criminals; valuables stolen from the wealthiest building in the settlement. The thieves go to ground for 2-5 months. A substantial bounty is offered for their capture.
29 – Witch trials commence after a local woman is caught dyeing a pig blue. Numerous women dunked in ponds, hung upside-down from trees, thrown over bales of hay, etc. Magic-users, especially females, may arouse suspicion or animosity in the settlement, but the mania dies down after 1-6 months.
30 – Interesting times. Roll three times more on this table.