Follow TV Tropes


Random Event

Go To

"Something has happened!"

In order to keep players from being complacent, matches from becoming repetitive, and to better simulate the vagaries of fortune, some video games include Random Events. The chaotic relative of the Scripted Event, Random Events are things that can happen, but where, when, or if they will happen are determined purely by chance. In video game parlance they're called "procs" (short for "special procedures", originally referring to the chunks of code that ran in MUDs when these events occurred), especially when they're attributes of an item that activate randomly when the item is used, but Random Events can also pop up in board games in the form of "chance" decks and the like.

Players' reactions to these usually depend on whether the events in question are beneficial or not.

See Random Encounters for an RPG subtype. If the event appears random, but is actually triggered by an action that might not be immediately obvious, see Guide Dang It!.

May or may not be associated with a Random Events Plot.


    open/close all folders 

    Video Games 
  • Many MMORPGs have this as a way to counter people just leaving the computer to do something for them. Because of the chance of a random event making something bad happen you're forced to sit and watch your character to make sure you're there for a random event.
  • In BLOODCRUSHER II, every event is randomized. From the weapons, to level layouts, and even your enemy.
  • Civilization IV: Beyond the Sword has things like wildfires that clear a forest square, slave revolts that leave cities in turmoil, the domestication of prairie dogs as novelty pets, or arranged marriages between nations' royal families and the responses of either side. Occasionally you'll also be offered a "quest," usually along the lines of "build x number of y and choose a reward."
  • Colonization is a borderline example: "Lost City Rumors" have their nature determined randomly at the start of every game, so Save Scumming can protect you from events like "You were never heard from again." That said, what was "You discover a friendly village" in one playthrough seems to become "You discover the fountain of youth" in the next. This is because the sequence is fixed, so whether you try ruins A then B or vice versa, you get e.g. "friendly tribe" in first attempt and "fountain of youth" in second.
    • Open-source remake Free Col adds conventional natural disasters that cause items to get lost or buildings to be damaged.
  • Every now and then, a random event will happen in DEADLOCK: Planetary Conquest. These can be good, such as your colonists raising a bunch of money for you, or finding rich resource deposits, or bad, such as an earthquake destroying your buildings or ion storms interfering with your satellites.
  • Again, being an homage to The Oregon Trail, random events are a core mechanic in Death Road to Canada. All sorts of negative and positive things can happen, and certain characters can only be encountered in random events.
  • In Diablo III each map and several dungeons draw on individual pools of random events and unique mobs that can spawn. The events range from minor roleplaying incidents to full quest events.
  • Dokapon Kingdom has these on Yellow Spaces. Usually, they have monsters on them, but they have random people on them as well. Some of them are good, like Kira the wandering merchant and Mulch, but others of them border on the outright sadistic on the part of the game (such as Weber, who gives you the obnoxious "cursed" items).
  • The game worlds of Dwarf Fortress are procedurally generated, and in play the kind of creatures that appear are semi-random, whether raids or sieges strike are random, dwarven moods and the products created from them are random. There are very few set events — ie same type of merchants arrive in the same season around the same date — and even those are being replaced with random distribution based on generated civilization and the fortress' own trading history.
  • Elona has these. While exploring dungeons or travelling, you might be blessed by a priest, have your money stolen by thieves, stumble upon some materials, find a platinum coin, meet a rich man who will throw money at you, meet a wandering merchant with rare equipment, or be attacked by bandits. Additionally, sleeping causes random effects from dreams such as training skills, gaining a huge luck boost, mutating, having your equipment cursed, or gaining a treasure map.
  • Endless Space has a variety of random events; beneficial, negative, interactive, and so on. Their effects can vary in scope between single star systems, entire empires, or the entire galaxy. Of note are the Interactive events, where players have a choice of Helpful, Selfish, or Hostile actions. On galaxy-wide events, Helpful benefits your allies and neutral powers (often at your own expense), Selfish benefits your own empire, while Hostile screws everyone else over. In the Galactic Plague event, for example, Helpful will reduce your approval and population but benefit your allies as you develop a cure while using your own citizens as guinea pigs, Selfish devotes almost all your science towards a cure for your own empire, and Hostile dumps your plagued citizens on other player's worlds.
  • In Everybody Edits, collected coins have a small chance of being magic coins. These magic coins either increase the player's energy cap or give the player a rare item.
  • This happens almost every time you jump to a new beacon in FTL: Faster Than Light, resulting in everything from combat, trading options, free resources (rarely), to situations that present you with a set of options leading to different and randomized outcomes. Some other times, there might simply be nothing there waiting for you at all.
  • Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords:
    • You occasionally get a random event when settling a world, typically ethical dilemmas such as "do I clear out the indigenous life-forms to make room for my colonists, or limit my people's living space?" Expansion packs introduced "mega" events that can drastically alter the state of your game. These include a sudden surge in piracy, a strange energy wave that boosts population growth across the galaxy, a plague of spies that shuts down everything in the area, a sudden spike in planet quality that turns an uninhabitable system into a garden spot, uninhabited planets exploding into asteroids, or the assassination of a rival faction's leader by one of your citizens, sparking a war. One of the worst is when some evil syndicate suddenly seizes power on a large clump of worlds, ignoring faction boundaries — a good way to lose half your empire through no fault of your own.
    • There are also two extra powerful mega events, the Telenath crystal, in which a random evil race gets a constantly increasing bonus to everything related to economy and production, and the Dread Lords arrive, in which a race with magical superpowers colonizes a world and begins building ships stronger than are physically possible to build for other players; 170 power on a fighter or constructor is not uncommon, which is a bit like having a fishing trawler with more mounted guns than anyone else's battleships. They then proceed to conquer worlds while facing hundreds-to-one odds using force lighting.
  • A scary example can happen in JumpStart Adventures 4th Grade: Haunted Island. When wandering around the haunted island, Repsac may block the player's path and force the player to answer a random question... and if they get it wrong, they lose health points. This is a completely random event and it also happens in the Labyrinth.
  • King's Quest VII: If you are idle for too long in Ooga Booga, the dreaded Boogeyman will show up out of nowhere. Continue to do nothing, and he will kill you.
  • The City Trial in Kirby Air Ride and Smash Run in Super Smash Bros. for 3DS both have these happen during the phase where the characters hunt for stat boosts and items.
  • Left 4 Dead is made of this for the Tank and Witch. These two powerful special infected CAN show up at any time, but where and when is left up to the AI Director, assuming it's not in a sadistic mood.
    • And by the way, just because you never see a Tank and Witch together, doesn't mean they can't show up together.
      • One video on youtube has an incident in Versus mode where a Witch spawned at a chokepoint... then a Tank appeared. By the time the survivors got to that chokepoint, there were seven Special Infected total at the top of that lift.The Survivors died.
  • Master of Magic: non-linearity being one of best features of the game, it's no surprise random events may have a great impact. Global conditions that affect power income or population, offers to get mercenaries, heroes or magic items. And wandering monsters, of course.
  • Master of Orion II: oh, yes. Aside from random proposals from heroes, there are: research advance or wipe-out, findings with tech or resources, diplomatic marriage, assassination, monetary offering, total hyperspace block, ecological calamity, surprise mineral deposit, reproductive boom, incoming comet, plague, nova, Space Pirates, monsters, Antarans... All? This can be turned off, though.
  • As a homage to/Affectionate Parody of The Oregon Trail, Organ Trail naturally has these. Some are virtually ripped wholesale from Oregon Trail (including, of course, dysentery) while others are adapted to the modern zombie apocalypse setting (e.g. "fording" a horde of zombies) and still others are original to Organ Trail (prepare to lose a lot of money in the void that is your station wagon's cushions).
  • In The Oregon Trail, random events were used to simulate what could happen on the trail to Oregon back in the 19th century. These events included bandits, finding empty wagons, fire, snakebites, or disease, including, of course, dysentery.
    • Other games by MECC included a lot of random events too. The Amazon Trail would give the player more direct control but could still have the player get sick from a disease that was commonplace in the Amazon and the stuff the boat could hit were random. The The Yukon Trail would have the player or their partner fall (and possibly get hurt, slowing them down), get stuck in a blizzard, get stuck behind a mule train, and randomly losing food.
  • The latest iterations of Paradox Interactive games have a whole bunch of really complicated random and semi-random events (that is, events with triggers that makes an event more or less likely to trigger, but it is still random). Older games simply mixed random and Scripted Events.
    • In Crusader Kings II, the player can choose how random they want many events to be. For example, you could have the black death arrive in Europe exactly when it did historically, at some random time within a century or so of that date, or entirely random at any time. This can greatly affect the difficulty of the game, since knowing when the Mongols will invade and having time to prepare can be much easier than suddenly having them show up on your doorstep early in the game.
  • PAYDAY: The Heist has random events that may or may not happen when you play a map. Some are minor, such as certain doors being open or closed, which can alter how you get around the map. Other random events are much more in your face, such as having a Bulldozer suddenly burst through a door while you're trying to escape to the safe zone. The random events become more apparent on higher difficulty levels and you usually get the short end of the stick.
    • Payday 2 continues this, with some heists becoming very easy or very hard depending on certain events or random elements in the level, such as whether or not you can access the camera room in Diamond Store from outside the building (making stealth easy) or not (virtually guaranteed to go loud). 'Escape' missions, which randomly occur after an otherwise successful heist, are the epitome of this.
  • During different phases of a game in Plague Inc., events can pop up that can change the conditions of certain countries, making the game easier or harder for the player depending on their setup. In late game, most of the random events are caused by the spreading of your disease, and quite a few achievements require you to trigger them.
  • Encountering a shiny Pokémon, at least from Generation 2 onward. The Pokerus as well, an extremely rare virus that Pokemon can be infected with, but it's actually very beneficial, giving the infected Pokemon a permanent boost to its stat gains upon levelling up.
  • Rift runs on this trope. It is extremely unlikely (almost impossible) that you'll be able to play for one continuous hour without running into a dimensional invasion, rift, or minor region event. With the first update, the major world event means even more chaos.
  • Runescape was known for this trope to not only give players an occasional reward such as a party hat or a small exclusive item they can find anywhere but also to punish bots. The most common examples of bot punishers were when a high-level monster would appear and attack the player who was "Farming" items from a gathering skill. The level was variable, and would often be scaled to be a large threat to the attacked player. They only happened on some skills, because others like cooking would require complete player involvement, as opposed to Fishing and Mining that either happened until an item was obtained or the player's inventory was full. (River trolls were perhaps the most common)
  • Shin Megami Tensei IV has the Fiend encounters, which are triggered differently from the game's Pre-existing Encounters. In a select few areas throughout the game, every time you enter there is a 1/256 chance that, upon stepping over a specific, usually-nondescript spot in the area, Burroughs will warn you of a "very dangerous demon nearby." The game will ask if you want to stay, and if you confirm twice in a row, you'll enter into battle with the area's resident Fiend. Who, by the way, will turn you and your demons into dark red street art if you're not fully prepared.
  • Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri had these, although you could turn them off. They are stuff like heat waves (extra energy at the base) or an industrial collapse (fewer minerals at the base).
  • In The Sims and its progeny, burglars, aliens, at-work events, etc. all fall under this category.
  • Space Empires IV has things like random plasma storms striking planets and killing millions of inhabitants.
  • The hallucinations in Trilby's Notes. Chances are you will run into at least one or two over the course of the game, but which ones and where you are when they happen are random: the game is coded so that every time you take a pill, there is a chance that a random hallucination will trigger two screens later. Granted, it is possible to take advantage of that fact by trying to trigger them on purpose, but chances are it'll take several pills and a lot of patience to trigger them all.
  • In Tropico, random events take the form of requests from the various factions that want you to do something for them, such as having certain buildings made or edicts enacted. The reward is typically an increase in the faction's respect for you, but in Tropico 5, some random events reward you with a choice between free buildings, more faction members, or Swiss bank deposits.
  • Undertale features quite a few of these, the appearance of which is determined by the game's 'FUN value', a random number assigned each time a new save file is created. Most of them still only have a chance of occurring even if the number lines up. These can be anything from random calls from NPCs to some truly Mind Screw-y experiences with a good number of the latter involving W. D. Gaster.
  • In Virtual Villagers, sometimes, random events sometimes happen as you play, which give you extra food, boost a villager's skills, or kill them, for example. Some of these events give you choices which give you different results.
  • World of Warcraft added a single random event with the Cataclysm expansion. Deathwing, an enormous dragon and the main antagonist, would spawn at the edge of a zone and fly across it, burning everything to the ground. There was even an achievement for getting caught in his attack.
  • Many events in Yume Nikki are determined by random chance.
    • There is a 1/64 chance decided upon waking up where Madotsuki will have a crick in her neck.
    • The infamous Uboa event is based around this. Every time Madotsuki turns off the light switch when entering Poniko's house, there is a 1/64 chance she will turn into a creature called Uboa.
    • Whenever Madotsuki turns off her TV in the dream world, there's a 1/8 chance that the TV will display a looping animation of strange geometric figures as a tribal/electronic beat plays in the background.
    • When in the White Desert, there is a 1/3600 chance (determined every half-second) that a creature dubbed "Takofuusen" will float onto the screen.

    Other Games 

  • In the board game Mandate of Heaven, each player must draw a yin card and a yang card during their turn. One type hits you with bad events, the other either confers an advantage (like being able to pass through the Great Wall even if its guarded) or a counter to a specific bad event.
  • Monopoly has Chance and Community Chest Cards.
  • Even for a tabletop roleplaying game, Maid RPG takes this unusually far; there are rules giving players the explicit ability to call for a random event, and said random events can quite easily completely derail the game's current plot.

    Other Media 

  • In Star Trek: First Contact, Picard runs a specific chapter of his Dixon Hill program, usually used as entertainment, as part of a gambit to slow down the Borg. Picard expresses mild surprise when a blonde approaches him, suggesting that she doesn't always appear in that chapter and instead works as a random event.
  • The pinball machine Stranger Things can randomly trigger an Upside-Down hurry-up mode at any moment during gameplay.


Watch Out for Repsac

The appearance of Repsac is random

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / RandomEvent

Media sources: