- Embed your characters into the setting. Giving them a background will give them a context in which to operate and help them manage the information. By having backgrounds that overlap provides natural reasons for the characters to get together and stay together.
- Remember that you are the only conduit of information. Be generous in your hints and tips.
- For long travel times you don't have to roll each and every encounter. Look at the odds and decide how many interesting encounters will occur along the trip and make it up accordingly. By all means use the tables if you don't have a good idea but they are a tool not an end. Tim at Gothridge Manor talks about it here.
In reality they are more like below. Inkstains that spread across the landscape overlapping and intermixing.
In the upper right the orange could be the range of the Dragon Xartha. The next to it is the town Crendan (light Blue) who been subject to monthly raids by the dragon. Xartha supports the Orcs (Dark Green) who menaces the human village of Meradar (pink) and the elven forest of Ashenwood (purple). All three are thinking of petitioning the King Orden of Alamaigne for aid (Dark Blue) who has his own problems with Baron Darkeven (Dark Green) who is leader of a thieves guild and making a nice profit smuggling into Crendan. In the upper right the Dwarves of Granitestar (light green) have retreated into the fastness to ride out the troubles. If convinced to come out their aid could prove to be the tipping point leading to victory over Xartha.