personally, i can't stand random encounters. they just feel like the GM is trying to make the session interesting, without providing any significance to the storyline or the development of the characters. if i want random encounters, i'd rather play descent:journeys in the dark or WoW. (don't misunderstand - i love these too, but i play RolePGs like EotE for story). instead, when i GM i try to think of each character's individual story arc (with input from players), and how each of the characters relate to each other. i typically try to set up encounters which will challenge the characters by placing them in some sort of moral dilemma, or in a situation which would spark a debate between them.
the FATE system has a really interesting mechanic in which the GM (or another player) can challenge a character to try to convince them to act on aspects of their character in ways which actually result in complications or danger for the group. this creates some really interesting RP, and most times very exciting moments. the players don't fuss about it because they have a choice in whether they want to take the challenge or not. thinking more in these terms really flipped how i GM upside down - and has made me a better player too (i no longer think of "oh no, i failed..." i now think "failure creates really interesting opportunities and story..."
i hate to say it, but look at some episodes from star trek: TNG (gasp! on a star wars forum. ..j/k) for examples of interesting encounters. the entire series is a "journey."
i also look to media/books like 'the road,' or 'walking dead.' basically, both are travel stories. both have lots of interesting, exciting encounters, but (for the most part) the encounters are not 'random.' there is a story/character/relationship purpose to them.
Edited by washer, 31 January 2014 - 11:48 PM.