If the location has a Special Encounter, as explained below, they must first decide whether to have that encounter instead of a random encounter. Otherwise they have a random encounter by drawing a card from the appropriate deck.
- In the Arkham Encounters Phase, each investigator who is in a location in Arkham or another town, and who is eligible to have an encounter, shuffles the Encounter deck for the appropriate location and randomly chooses a location card. He or she then reads and follows the instructions on that card for the current location.
- In the Other World Encounters phase, the investigator draws the top card from the Gate deck until a card has been drawn whose color matches one of the colors of the Other World he or she is in. He or she then reads and follows the instructions on that card for the current location.
Some game locations have Special Encounters, unique encounters printed on the board which investigators can choose instead of drawing a card from the encounter deck. These may also be referred to as the Locations' Special Abilities.
Areas with these types of encounters include:
- Arkham Asylum
- Bank of Arkham
- Curiositie Shoppe
- General Store
- Ma's Boarding House
- Police Station
- River Docks
- Science Building
- Silver Twilight Lodge
- South Church
- St. Mary's Hospital
- Ye Olde Magick Shoppe
Some locations' special abilities can not be chosen by investigators and are a further description of the location itself or require some special condition to apply. These locations include:
- Innsmouth Jail with JAIL BREAK.
- Devil Reef with ACCURSED.
- Y'ha-nthlei with INACCESSIBLE
- The Causeway with HARD GOING.
- Wireless Station with HARD GOING.
- Silver Twilight Lodge with INNER SANCTUM.