The reasons why I like random encounters are laid out over at Kobold Quarterly today. In a nutshell—they make the world seem like a bigger place.
Once upon a time, random encounters were standard fare in roleplaying games. Somewhere along the way, they fell out of fashion. Players, DMs, and game designers decided that random encounters embodied the worst of lazy DMing. They were indiscriminate party killers. Most of all, they were dumped because they were irrelevant to the ongoing story.
From my perspective, random encounters should be kept around because they’re irrelevant to the ongoing story. (more ...)