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NPC Random Encounter Immunity

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Ever paused to think about how all the NPCs get from place to place in a world with Random Encounters? Farmers live away from the shelter of the big city, and still manage to produce food. Two lowly guardsmen stationed at each gate are sufficient to guard an entire city from the local unending hordes of monsters. Traveling merchants use the same roads the heroes do, and yet are never troubled by any monsters (except maybe when the heroes are around to help). How can this be possible in a world where the heroes find themselves in several dozen fights to the death each time they walk from town to town?

Of course, the meta-reason is that the NPCs aren't playing a video game, but you are, and to keep the game interesting, there needs to be a steady road of challenges (no matter how small) to overcome.

Sub-trope of Gameplay and Story Segregation. Compare Invulnerable Civilians. Note that usually, Cool Cars and Cool Airships prevent random encounters. Compare Already Undone for You, in which the NPCs have not only cleared the same challenges that face the hero, but then also put them back in place again.

As this trope is omni-present in RPGs, please limit examples to aversions, or at least examples of the trope being played with.


  • You're allowed to set your own encounter rate at any time in Bravely Default, so... maybe the NPCs just always turn random encounters off?
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Averted in The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion: in the wilderness, foresters are threatened by the local wildlife, imperial legion soldiers face off against bandits, and townspeople visiting acquaintances in other cities sometimes meet fatal accidents.
    • The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim:
      • People are notoriously sturdy and used to hardship. Farms are usually located close to cities or towns, and their safety is taken seriously: guards include farmland in their patrol routes, and The Blades are dispatched to help when necessary. Merchants frequently travel in caravans, and make sure to bring some mercenaries. And if a mine or tomb gets taken over by monsters, the locals are quick to get the heck out and wait for a Player Character to deal with the problem before going back in.
      • In the Dragonborn DLC, the fact that the town of Raven Rock doesn't have monster-proof walls is a source of much anxiety for the populace, especially since Ash Spawn keep attacking the south bulwark periodically.
  • Usually averted in the Fallout series.
    • Some Random Encounters in the first and second game involve finding neutral NPCs fending off attacks by raiders or hostile critters.
    • With the move to 3D and open world maps in Fallout 3 random encounters became much more organic. Neutral NPCs spawn, both in scripted locations or in random encounters, and these NPCs can run into hostile monsters or enemies and potentially get killed. This can even be exploited, for instance one "outside-the-box" way of resolving the "Head of State" sidequest involves "betraying" the runaway slaves to the slavers hunting for them. The slavers will leave their stronghold and walk to the slave refuge, and the route they take make them pass right in front of a Super Mutant base, where they're very likely to get massacred by said mutants, thus completing the quest in favor of the runaway slaves.
  • Averted in Fable, where Intrepid Merchants travel the forest roads and are frequently beset by bandits and hostile wildlife. Lampshaded in an Escort Mission when two traders argue over why they bother risking their lives on the trip instead of opening a shop in town.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Zig-zagged in Final Fantasy IX: the Mist that coats most of the world (or rather, the first continent) gives rise to monsters and prolonged exposure is said to be unhealthy, so all of the cities and towns are built high up in the mountains... where there are still random encounters!
    • Final Fantasy X is notable in how blatantly straight an example it is. As you walk along the Mi'ihen Highroad, carving your way through hordes of fiendish, super-durable armadillos and whatnot, you'll pass by a couple dozen civilians out for a peaceful stroll. If you talk to them, some of them will decide they have no use for a Hi-Potion and give it to the summoner and her badass crew of guardians.
    • Lampshaded and made into part of a quest line in Final Fantasy XIV: Mor Dhona is a high-level area, full of level 40+ monsters. This isn't usually a problem, since most of the people who go there are badass adventurers, including the NPCs. But when exhausted Doman refugees are forced to relocate to that area, you are given quests to escort them because they explicitly can't handle the local wildlife.
  • Averted in The Hobbit (1982), a text adventure with wandering monsters and wandering NPCs, all of which are random or semi-random. It is entirely possible that, say, Elrond will be killed by a warg before you even get to him; or that Smaug the dragon ends up thrown in jail by the wandering guard.
  • Averted in Fire Emblem: Awakening: When the Risen start showing up, it's a big deal, and Chrom has to visit Ferox to request soldiers to help keep the citizenry safe, since he and the Shepherds don't have enough manpower to keep the entire country safe at once. There is also at least one Side Quest where you have to save civilians from the Risen. This sets up the random encounter mechanic... and then the plot forgets all about it because we have bigger issues to deal with, such as the wars against Plegia, Valm, and later the Grimeal.
  • Zig-zagged in the Kingdom Hearts series, where it's stated that Sora (and other Keyblade wielders) continuously run into Heartless because the Heartless are drawn to the Keyblade. With that said, the upshot is that NPCs don't run into the Heartless as often; the Heartless do sometimes attack towns. Just look at Hollow Bastion's defense system in Kingdom Hearts II.
  • Justified in Mabinogi: most of the dangerous creatures live in dungeons, or remote areas. Near cities, the biggest threats you'll face are rats or raccoons, or maybe a wolf, but a farmer with a stick can reasonably be expected to handle those. The roads in general are quite clear of threats, and in areas where this is not true (Iria, Bangor...), the population of nearby towns is noticeably smaller and hardier than in major cities. The exception is that, when carrying valuable goods around with the merchant skill, high-level bandits frequently ambush you... which is why it's left to the Milletians!
  • In Pathfinder: Kingmaker several times the player will encounter NPCs being attacked by monsters, though they're generally relevant to whatever menace currently threatens the kingdom rather than truly random encounters. They tend to mention how dangerous the roads are to the player, who may have rescued them but is supposed to ensure it's safe to travel without the ruler personally happening to stumble across them just in time.
  • In later Pok√©mon games, someone will usually say that wild Pokémon only jump out at trainers who have tame Pokémon with them, (although this contradicts Prof. Oak, who stops you from entering the tall grass in the very first game until you have a Pokémon).
  • Late in Resident Evil Survivor a kid you've met runs home to get his sister and meet you at a location so all of you can escape. That is, he runs through the areas that are crawling with zombies, zombie dogs, zombie crows, hunters, lickers, undertakers, giant spiders, giant cockroaches, plant monsters, and tyrants, get his sister, then runs through those areas again to meet up with you without so much as a scratch. He's unarmed and about 12 years old, so either he's from Krypton or he had a bag of zombie treats to throw and distract the enemies.
  • Sid Meier's Pirates!: NPC ships, which include pirates, naval vessels, Indian raiders, and trading ships attack each other and raid settlements just like the player's does. If the player weakens one faction's forces in the Caribbean too much, it will even send out fleets against the other empires to reassert its presence and recapture its cities.
  • The Tales Series games are a noted aversion to this trope. The series is well known for deconstructing JRPGs, and the narratives often go out of their way to show that it's not just a gameplay element, but a facet of the world that the characters have to live with. Some examples:
    • Both Deconstructed and justified in Tales of Vesperia. Monster attacks are a serious problem in the world, enough that cities have to use giant barriers to keep 'em out. Now, this doesn't actually prevent people from traveling outside the cities, and many do, but it's considered a dangerous proposition; those that travel outside the cities are usually well-armed.
    • Justified in Tales of Xillia: people deal with monsters by carrying Lilium Orbs, which increase your combat ability hugely (and facilitate the level up system). Anyone without a Lilium Orb is strongly discouraged from leaving town; Jude wasn't allowed to go to medical school without one, and he would have been safe on a boat for his whole journey. Luckily, Lilium Orbs are fairly common.
    • The Lilium Orbs don't work anymore in Tales of Xillia 2, so they were converted into Allium Orbs, which are functionally similar.
    • Justified in Tales of Zestiria; Sorey is the Shepard, meaning that he can see the effects Malevolence has on the world, and the fights aren't to kill enemies, but to purify the malevolence. To the NPCs, your fights look like a kid in a dorky robe fighting pigs and gusts of wind with a wooden sword.
  • Inverted in Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines, where street thugs in Los Angeles harass NPCs as Artificial Atmospheric Actions but leave the Player Character alone.
  • In Zelda II: The Adventure of Link, the wandering monsters that trigger mini-levels will not appear if you stay on the road, and if you're back on the road when one catches up with you, said mini-level will be one screen with no enemies. With at least one or two areas of interest on each road, NPCs can go about their lives and even go to the next town over without having to worry about finding themselves in a gauntlet of ever-respawning monsters.