50 Wilderness Oddities

For today’s post, I have put together 50 odd occurrences to toss at your PCs while they are traveling from point A to point B.

Sometimes you don’t want the day to pass uneventfully but a wandering monster would burn too much precious time. Even if you’re largely handwaving their journey it can be nice to have something interesting happen along the way, so roll a d100 and see where the fates take you.

Each of these could be nothing more than what they appear at face value. Alternately, with a few tweaks you could easily expand them into a full blown encounter, or even an adventure hook.

-Good Gaming!

Art by: Donnie Maynard Christianson https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9116/Sqeezi-Games

01-02: Party stumbles on a patch of incredibly large mushrooms. Are they edible? Toxic?

03-04: After breaking camp for the morning strange tracks can be seen all around the perimeter of the camp. These weren’t present the night before and nobody noticed anything during the night.

05-06: A pair of rough looking men step out of the brush carrying a large, spiked collar. They claim they are looking for their lost dog.

07-08: Party finds a white stag trapped in a snare.

09-10: Over the course of a two mile stretch, various items of clothing are found by the roadside.

11-12: Having passed a simple traveler walking along the road on the previous day, the party encounters the same fellow on the following day. However, he is headed in the same direction as he was the day before and claims to have no knowledge of meeting the party.

13-14: The smell of smoke increases throughout the day until the party realizes that their path forward has been blocked by a forest fire.

15-16: Party comes across the shed skin of a monstrous snake.

17-18: A bountiful berry patch lines the side of the road, allowing the party a delicious snack.

19-20: Colorful birds are seen in the trees. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as only coming from warmer climes.

21-22: A patch of small flowering plants are discovered. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as an effective insect repellent. May be burned or used topically.

23-24: Pleasantly fragrant plants are found. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as being used by locals in the region to mask scent from predators in the wild.

25-26: Is that bullfrog singing? Surely that bullfrog can’t be singing.

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27-28: Party finds a smoking crater where a meteor has landed.

29-30: Party comes to a clearing. There are a number of toy dolls hanging from the trees all around the edges of the clearing.

31-32: An alabaster monument juts up out if the ground in the middle of the forest. It bears a plaque but the language is foreign to all of the party.

33-34: Party hears the occasional sound of crying. However, the sound ceases whenever they stop to listen closely.

35-36: A possum pops out of the brush briefly before running back into the woods. If followed, it leads the party to a sinkhole where three racoons are trapped.

37-38: Party encounters a simple traveler who offers to share a meal with them before heading on the way. Upon reaching their destination, the party sees a wanted posted for a notorious highwayman and the description matches that of the traveler.

39-40: Mosquitos plague the day’s travel, making everyone uncomfortable and causing them to appear afflicted with the pox for d4 days after.

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41-42: Party passes a small caravan owned by a showman who display oddities and curiosities at festivals throughout the realm.

43-44: Wild boars are about! If there is anyone capable of hunting within the party, it will be an easy hunt.

45-46: A freshwater spring yields tasty trout, to anyone with the skill to fish them out.

47-48: The rhythmic beating of drums can be heard in the distance. It seems to be getting closer toward nightfall.

49-50: Party encounters strange formations of sticks bound together with twine.

51-52: An abandoned cottage is found. It appears that other parties have passed through and used this as a shelter recently. What appears to be a map is drawn on the wall with charcoal.

53-54: A large fish lays flopping in the path. The party is not aware of any water nearby.

55-56: Party passes a caravan of prisoners being lead from on settlement to another. The party members recognize one of the prisoners.

57-58: A trail of pieces of bread leads off into the forest.

59-60: Party comes upon a disheveled man who has amnesia.

61-62: An onyx statue of a bull is found deep within the forest.

63-64: A loud buzzing sound leads the party to a beehive the size of a man.

65-66: 3 wooden barrels of rum are found, poorly hidden within the forest.

67-68: Party encounters a religious zealot and his entourage, traveling from one settlement to another. They encourage the party to throw down their arms and join them.

69-70: Without warning, the forest fills with cicadas. Their song drowns out all other noise, to the point on being nearly deafening. This lets up within an hour, without explanation.

71-72: Party encounters a man wearing wrist and leg irons. He claims that he was falsely imprisoned and barely escaped with his life. Is he telling the truth?

73-74: An abandoned campsite is found, neatly laid out. There is a tent, modest belongings, and prepared campfire. However, there are no signs of who left it.

75-76: An incredibly large, winged beast can be seen circling above the canopy of the forest.

77-78: Deep within the forest, the party finds 3 incredibly lifelike statues who are all posed as if shielding their eyes in horror.

79-80: A stone altar it found, topped with the carcass of some woodland beast.

81-82: Strange tracks end up leading to a massive hollowed out tree. However, upon arrival there is no trace of whatever made the tracks.

83-84: A raucous band of revelers, celebrating some religious festival pass the party. Party members are encouraged to throw down their weapons and join them.

85-86: The party comes upon a coach that has thrown a wheel. An obnoxious noble verbally abuses the coachman and demands that he fixes it quickly. Will the party assist?

87-88: A blight has taken over the portion of forest that the party is traveling through. All vegetation has died, with no apparent reason.

Art by: Donnie Maynard Christianson https://www.drivethrurpg.com/browse/pub/9116/Sqeezi-Games

89-90: Deep in the forest, the party discover what appears to be a shrine built for a deity that none of them are familiar with. Small offerings are scattered about.

91-92: A circle of tall standing stones are covered in moss. Standing within the circle, party members can feel a steady vibration.

93-94: A shaft of sunlight shines down through the canopy. Figures can be seen dancing in the sunbeam.

95-96: A massive tree stump have pooled with water. Characters looking down into the water see bizarre images.

97-98: A magpie attempts to snatch a small trinket from the party’s camp. If successful, it flies up and deposits it in a nearby tree. If the tree is investigated, a small cache of other treasures will be found.

99-100: A short, cactus-like bush is found along the trail. Knowledgeable party members will be able to identify these as having limited healing properties.

The Final Rest of Grondo-Ri

Intro

I’ve mentioned previously that I use Campaign Cartographer to make maps for my games. I had a bit of free time mid-week and stumbled onto this tutorial. The following post is the result of a bit of doodling, along with some prep for my group.

The name of the titular character comes from my dear friend Mike’s Fantasy Hero campaign from the early 1990s. As was often the case with that game, certain elements have stuck with me over the years.

My group has been doing quite a bit of river travel of late. I’m not big on completely random encounters but sometimes I need an interesting little drop-in, to keep everyone entertained. This was the case with The Final Rest of Grondo Ri.

At the end of last session, the PCs completed an objective. I’m not entirely sure where they will head off to. However, I’m fairly certain that they’ll be traveling by riverboat. I also know that wherever they head will be a journey of at least a couple of days. Rather than just handwave the travel, I decided to have something interesting for them to encounter.

Hard to say whether they take the bait or not. It’s possibly that they will pass right on by. That said, I’ve found that if I keep a few encounters like this on hand, I tend to be more prepared for things coming at me out of the blue.

As I have mentioned previously, my intention for this blog is to provide GMs bite-sized source material. Hopefully some of you will find something that you can plug into your game and run with. These will likely never be full scenarios, just enough to get the juices flowing and set you on the path to adventure.

Grondo-Ri

Grondo-Ri was an orc shaman who lived roughly 100 years ago. He was cruel, even by orc standards, and lead his tribe with an iron fist. The brute was infamous for leading raids against the dwarves of Khared Draz and even successfully moved his people into some former dwarven territories.

Art by Bartek Blaszczec

It’s unlikely that the PCs will have ever heard of this fellow prior to this encounter. However, he was fairly notorious in the region. It should be relatively easy to dig up lore about him after the fact.  

While historical accounts of Grondo-Ri exist. There is no mention of whatever became of him or his tribe. Lost to the sands of time is the fact that the orc was killed by his own people.

The tribe had taken up residence in an abandoned dwarven outpost near Dhag Ladur. Intoxicated by frequent victories, most of the tribe followed the shaman blindly. However, there were some among them who felt that a change was needed. Tribal elders disagreed with the acts of cruelty they had witnessed and felt that the spirits of their ancestors demanded a change.

Following a skirmish with a band of mercenaries from the human settlement of Sarburg, Grondo-Ri received minor wounds. Seeing this as their opportunity, the elders poisoned the poultices used to treat the shaman and allowed him to die.

The mummified body of the tyrant was entombed in the southwestern corner of the complex. They then completed their coup by convincing the rest of the tribe that they could communicate with the shaman from beyond the grave. Holding elaborate rituals around a large brazier, the elders would claim to receive direction from the fallen leader. They had succeeded in wresting control of the tribe.

However, something unforeseen happened. One day, whether by pure coincidence or spurred on by the restless soul of the shaman, the earth shook. Despite having been expertly crafted by dwarves, the subterranean complex started to collapse. Pillars crumbled and ceilings failed, until the entirety of the orcish tribe lay dead and buried. There, in the dust and rubble, the mummified body of Grondo-Ri awoke.

Map Locations

1.      The Shore

The shore is indeed muddy here. PCs will have difficulty walking anywhere on the beach proper and until they make their way into one of the cavern passages.

Various bits of junk have washed up along this stretch and you should tell the players that they can make out the shape of items just under the mud. For any characters wishing to dig through the mud to investigate, roll a d10 and consult the following table to tell them what they’ve found:

1.       A Bottle of Rum

2.       Purse with d10 gold coins

3.       Broken Necklace

4.       A Lone Sock

5.       Table Leg

6.       Candle

7.       Piece of Chalk

8.       Broken Lute

9.       10’ Pole

10.     Oar

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A giant freshwater crab has been using the stretch of beach to hunt and is lurking in the water nearby. If the party spends more than 5 minutes on the beach, the creature will attack. Adjust the crab’s difficulty (or possibly add other crabs) as you see fit, depending on your party and their capabilities. Due to the mud, the beach area should be considered difficult terrain for the PCs to move around in. The crab will experience no such hindrance.

Should the party defeat the crab, close inspection of its carcass with reveal a silver dagger with a pearled handle that had been buried in its shell during some previous encounter.

2.      Pool Cavern

This pool is fed by a freshwater stream and is considerably more clear than the water back in the river. It is roughly 20’ deep.

The item in the pool is actually a jewel encrusted goblet that once belonged to a dwarven clan leader. It was looted by the orcs under the leadership of Grondo-Ri and came to rest at the bottom of the pool after the collapse of the complex.

The goblet is worth a substantial amount of money but would require someone to strip down and fetch it unless the PCs can come up with another means of retrieval.

3.      Mushroom Cavern

There is nothing of note in the cavern aside from the mushrooms. Despite the odor, they are edible and tasty. If harvested, the large mushrooms will effectively produce the same amount of light as a single torch.

Once removed from the cavern, the mushrooms will lose their glow and edible properties within 1 day.

4.      Meeting Room

Before the collapse, the orcish tribal elders would use this room as a secret meeting place. After concluding their ceremonies in the shrine, they would access this room via the hallway and secret door (location #5). The bones in the room are actually the remains of two of the elders who happened to be here at the time of the collapse.

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Since the water level dropped, two carrion crawlers have been exploring the caverns. Hearing the approach of the party, they have retreated to area #5. However, they are hungry and will immediately attack any party member who comes within 5’ of the fallen door.

If thoroughly searched, the room will yield the following items.

  • 2d20 gold coins
  • 1d10 silver coins
  • An antique bullseye lantern
  • 4 assorted gemstone

5.      Hallway

The entrance to this hallway was nearly blocked off by the collapse. However, if party members can squeeze through the first 5 feet, the remainder of the hall is in relatively good shape.

It should be clear to PCs that unlike the caverns, this passageway has been dug intentionally. Characters who would have such knowledge will recognize this as dwarven construction.

A set of stairs leads downward for 10’, before coming to an apparent dead end. The secret door leading into area #6 should be quite easy to find, as it was intended only to be a secret to those who were inside area #6.

6.      The Shrine of Grondo-Ri

This is the room were Grondo-Ri was buried. The elders would perform their pseudo rituals here in order to convince the rest of the tribe that they were receiving guidance from their departed leader.

The jars and pots in the room contains all manner of herbs and concoctions. All of these are long past their usefulness. The bits of the shaman that were removed during the mummification process were also stored in these containers. However, they have long since turned to putrefied liquid and evaporated.

The sarcophagus is indeed lacking its inhabitant. However, an ornately designed staff is held within. The Staff of Grondo-Riis a roughly 6” tall iron-shod oak staff. It is topped off with the head of a horned beast. The staff will radiate magic if any party members happen to attempt to detect such things.

The exact properties of the staff are up to you and what would work for your game. However, I will give you some further lore about the item to help you make your decision.

  • The shaman was quite charismatic and was never without his staff. One might speculate that they was something about the staff that made him seem larger than life to his followers.
  • He was said to have wielded elemental magics; this was thought to be an ability imparted to him by the spirits of his ancestors but it’s certainly possible that some of this came from the staff.
  • It is also possible that the staff itself was cursed. This could account for his turn to cruelty and brutality.
Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved. dean-spencer@live.co.uk

Grondo-Ri’s undead corpse has aimlessly wandered rooms #6 & #7 for decades. It is currently in room #7 and will attack in 1d4 rounds after the PCs enter room #6.

I’ve mentioned that Grondo-Ri was mummified after his death and I have also mentioned that he awakened in undeath after the collapse. All of that aside, it’s entirely up to you to decide what exactly he has become.

Since I’ve put this together without knowledge of what system you are playing or what power level your players possess, it’s impossible for me to fully define this encounter. In my game, I’m running this as a fairly low-level one-shot, though I think you could scale things up easily enough.

My suggestion would be to make him be a unique creature, so as to best keep your PCs on their toes. He cannot speak but he will approach the party with unbridled rage and make horrible guttural sounds as he attacks.

If you need to flesh things out a bit, I suppose you could mention the lifeless skeletons of some of the departed elders lying about the room. Then, at a certain point in the combat, Grondo-Ri could cause them to rise and fight. Whatever you like. Just have fun with it.

7.      Antechamber

The contents of the coffers, sack, and books I will also leave up to you. My suggestion would be to make these rewards commiserate with the level of difficulty of the Grondo-Ri fight. One thought would be to have one of the books contain a couple spells that would be useful for one of the party members. The other could be a history book pertaining to something in your campaign setting, thereby setting you up for more adventures down the road.

Beyond the double doors to the north, the hallway is completely caved in. No amount of digging by the PCs will allow them to continue further.

Plot Hooks

How you use this is entirely up to you. I am merely trying to plant some interesting seeds for you to run with.

  • Straight: You could run this as a straight random one-shot with no ties to any other part of your story. In this case, the party stumbles onto the cave complex, explores it and ultimately deals with the undead version of Grondo-Ri. Making their way out with whatever treasure they find; the party never looks back.
  •  Research: Perhaps the party was quested by some interested party to uncover whatever became of Grondo-Ri.
  • Find the MacGuffin: Someone wants something located within the complex. It could be the Staff of Grondo-Ri, the jewel encrusted goblet in the pool, or some other item that you have decided to place there.
  • Knowledge is Power: If word gets out of the party’s discovery after the fact, it could open doors to other adventure threads. A mysterious sage may wish to investigate the complex and uncover the embalming methods used on the orc shaman. Dwarves may travel to reclaim the lost settlement. A superstitious young orc leader may seek to reclaim the remains of Grondo-Ri, as a manner of ascending to power within his tribe.
  • Cursed!: Rather than a straight fight, perhaps the undead orc places a terrible curse on the party, requiring them to go on yet another adventure in order to cleanse it.

The End

Thank you for taking the time to stop by and read. If you find any use in all of this, please take a minute, and drop me a note. Until the next post. Good Gaming!