50 Overnight Encounters

Any band of adventurers worth their salt will take their time to set up a watch for the night. More often than not the night passes uneventfully and the journey slogs along. Sometimes you want something to shake your group up a bit, without resorting to a wandering monster.

All of these could range from unexplained occurrences to hooks for you to base entire adventures off of. It just depends on what you need for your game at the moment. I find that occasionally tossing in something like this will help to keep everyone engaged during long periods of travel.

These also work as good fillers, when I need something else to happen prior to the end of a session. Whatever the case, roll a d100 and consult below, to see what goes bump in the night.

1-2. Celestial Spectacle: The night sky comes alive with a breathtaking display of shooting stars or a rare planetary alignment.

3-4. Harmonious Melody: Enchanting music fills the air, seemingly emanating from an unseen source. The music is not loud enough to wake anyone up and will cease if any sleeping party members are awakened.

5-6. Glowing Fauna: Bioluminescent creatures emerge from the darkness, illuminating the surroundings with their ethereal glow.

7-8. Astral Projection: One of the sleeping characters experiences a vivid and prophetic dream, offering hints or warnings about their future endeavors.

9-10. Whispers in the Dark: Those on watch hear faint whispers or distant voices, carried on the night breeze. These hint at hidden secrets or long-lost knowledge.

11-12. Ghostly Encounter: A friendly or troubled spirit manifests during the night, seeking closure or offering guidance to the characters.

13-14. Lost Artifact: The characters on watch stumble upon a forgotten relic or artifact, partially buried in the ground, with unknown powers or a mysterious past.

15-16. Dream Realm: Sleeping characters find themselves in a shared dream, navigating a surreal landscape or confronting their deepest fears.

17-18. The Illuminated Path: Characters on watch notice a faint, glowing trail leading to a hidden location or an important discovery.

Standing watch. Art by: © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

19-20. Time Warp: Sleeping characters experience a temporary time distortion, witnessing events from the past or glimpses into the future.

21-22. Shifting Shadows: The campsite becomes a gateway to a pocket dimension or a parallel reality, where familiar places are twisted and distorted.

23-24. Animal Messenger: An intelligent animal approaches the camp, bearing a message or a warning from a distant ally or foe.

25-26. Flickering Flames: The campfire dances and morphs into mesmerizing shapes, revealing cryptic symbols or visions to those who observe it.

27-28. Enchanted Sleep: Characters on watch drift off to sleep. When the party wakes, they find themselves in a different location, seemingly transported during their slumber.

29-30. Nature’s Blessing: A light rain starts out of nowhere. As it lets up, the characters wake up to find their wounds healed, their supplies replenished, and a sense of rejuvenation.

31-32. Moonlit Ritual: A secretive group performs a ritual under the moonlight, offering the characters on watch a chance to witness or interrupt their proceedings.

33-34. Nighttime Market: A mysterious bazaar materializes near the campsite, offering exotic goods, rare ingredients, or peculiar services.

35-36. The Invisible Hand: The characters wake up to find objects around the campsite rearranged or tidied up by an unseen helpful presence.

37-38. Luminescent Guardian: A gentle spirit of light takes on the role of protecting the characters during the night, guiding them away from harm.

39-40. The Shadow’s Beckoning: Shadows in the surrounding area come to life, swirling and forming shapes, hinting at hidden paths or secrets.

41-42. Portentous Clouds: Strange cloud formations gather above the campsite, revealing foreboding symbols or images that foreshadow future events.

43-44. The Whisperer: A mysterious figure emerges from the darkness, claiming to possess ancient knowledge and offering cryptic advice.

45-46. Trapped in a Dream: One of the characters becomes trapped in a vivid, lifelike dream, requiring the others to find a way to wake them.

47-48. Phantasmal Menagerie: A collection of spectral animals gathers around the campsite, observing the characters with curious, ethereal eyes.

49-50. Nighttime Companion: A loyal and intelligent creature approaches the characters, seeking companionship or offering assistance during their travels.

51-52. Veil of Illusion: The characters wake up to find themselves in an illusionary realm, where reality bends and shifts, requiring them to solve puzzles to escape.

53-54. Elemental Reverie: The elements around the campsite come to life, dancing and swirling in a mesmerizing display of elemental harmony.

55-56. Echoes of the Past: The characters witness ghostly echoes of historical events or significant moments that occurred in the area, gaining insights into its hidden history.

A cozy campfire as the party prepares to turn in for the night. Art by:© 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.

57-58. Feywild Crossing: The campsite becomes a temporary gateway to the Feywild, where the characters encounter mischievous fey creatures and experience the whimsical nature of the plane.

59-60. Shadow Puppetry: Shadows cast by the campfire take on a life of their own, performing a silent and captivating shadow play that tells a mysterious story.

61-62. Whispering Trees: The trees surrounding the campsite whisper ancient secrets or foretell future events to those who listen closely, providing valuable information or warnings.

63-64. Elemental Balance: The characters are visited by an elemental spirit that offers them a unique and temporary boon related to one of the four elements—earth, air, fire, or water.

65-66. Vanishing Act: The campsite suddenly disappears, leaving the characters in an otherworldly realm or plane for a short time before reappearing in a different location.

67-68. Illusory Menace: Characters on watch are plagued by illusory creatures or illusions that mimic dangerous foes, testing their wits and abilities.

69-70. Spirit Guide: The characters encounter a wise spirit guide who provides guidance and cryptic advice, leading them to hidden treasures or revealing important information.

71-72. Ephemeral Guardians: Ethereal and translucent guardians appear around the campsite, protecting the characters from harm during the night.

73-74. Haunted Dreams: Sleeping characters share a collective dream haunted by the spirits of the past, requiring them to confront and resolve a forgotten tragedy.

75-76. Luminous Dew: The morning reveals that the campsite is covered in sparkling and magical dew, which can be collected and used for various enchanting purposes.

77-78. Aurora’s Embrace: The sky fills with vibrant auroras, and the characters are enveloped in their mesmerizing glow, temporarily granting them supernatural abilities or insights.

79-80. Time Loop: Characters on watch drift off to sleep. Then the night repeats itself, with the characters reliving the same events and encounters until they discover the cause and find a way to break the loop.

81-82. Feywild Market: A bustling Feywild market manifests near the campsite, offering strange and exotic goods, curious trinkets, and intriguing bargains.

83-84. Cursed Relic: Characters on watch stumble upon a cursed object that brings misfortune or strange effects until they find a way to cleanse or dispose of it.

85-86. Lunar Serenade: The moon’s radiant light fills the campsite, soothing and invigorating the characters, granting them temporary bonuses to their abilities.

Adventurer catching a few winks. Art by Diego Castro. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

87-88. Guiding Stars: A constellation forms in the night sky, providing guidance and navigation aid to the characters, helping them find their way or revealing hidden paths.

89-90. Feywild Poltergeist: A playful and mischievous fey creature infiltrates the campsite, pulling harmless pranks and challenges the characters to a game or contest.

91-92. Arcane Nexus: Characters on watch discover a site of potent magical energy, where spells behave unexpectedly, wild magic surges, and magical phenomena occur.

93-94. Shadow Gate: Characters on watch discover a hidden portal to a plane of darkness and gloom, where they must navigate treacherous shadows and confront shadow creatures.

95-96. Ethereal Visitors: Ethereal beings or spirits from another plane temporarily materialize at the campsite, seeking assistance, guidance, or redemption.

97-98. Starfall: A shower of shooting stars rains down upon the campsite, each carrying a mysterious and magical effect when collected or interacted with.

99-100. Night’s Blessing: The night bestows a temporary boon upon the characters, enhancing their abilities, granting them insight, or imbuing them with a sense of profound luck and fortune.

That is all for now. I hope these additions bring a bit of wonder to your party’s overnight experiences. Thanks for stopping by. If you have any suggestions for other encounters, please leave a note in the comments.

If you would like to see my other random lists, you may find them here. My maps with plot hooks are collected here. Have a great week!

The Beast of Zarechka – Part 2

The week I’m going to continue the adventure. I had hoped to be able to knock this out in two posts but it looks like it’s going to be 3. If you missed part 1, you may find it here.

I will pick up were we left off last week with covering the remaining areas that the party may want to visit. As a result of their investigations, it is likely the adventurers will zero in on the ruins of Kelthura as a likely location to search for the beast.

Kelthura was an ancient city nestled at the foot of the mountains to the northeast. Little is known of the peoples who once lived there, though local legends claim that they were practitioners of dark magic. The ruins themselves are largely shunned by the locals and have gradually been swallowed up by the marsh over the years.

Location #3 Anya Ivanova’s Foraging Spot

If the party should inquire about Anya Ivanova, the villagers will be able to direct them to where her body was found.  The most recent victim, her remains were recovered 3 days ago. She was found in the woods, a little over two miles from the village and across a small stream. Luckily she was known to often forage for mushrooms and herbs in the area or it may have taken much longer to find her.

Arriving on the scene, the party will note signs of a recent disturbance at the location (marked with a #3 on the map). The earth is upturned and a few broken twigs and crushed leaves are scattered around. The area is surrounded by tall trees, their branches creating a canopy overhead, filtering the sunlight, and casting the forest floor in a dappled light.

Off to the side of the clearing, the party spots a large, flat rock. As they approach, they see that it’s been defaced with a chilling message. Scrawled in a deep red color, clearly blood, are the letters “Kel…” before the message trails off. It is possible that villagers may provide the party with this clue without them venturing out to the location themselves. However, without any of the other clues, none of the villagers will be able to speculate as to what it means.

Location #4 The Berry Patch

The berry patch is where Valentyna Russoff caught a glimpse of the beast. Alongside Alexi’s farm, this area is well-maintained. Rows of trees and bushes are neatly arranged in the fertile soil. The air is thick with the sweet scent of ripe berries, and the sounds of buzzing bees and chirping birds can be heard all around.

As the party arrives on the scene they will notice a group of rough-looking men milling about in the patch. This is the group of outsiders who arrived in town last week. They brought with them the carcass of a giant wolf and attempted to claim the reward for killing the beast. When the mayor refused to pay, the group became disgruntled and unruly.

There is some room here to play this out at you like. It is certainly possible that this group of 5 ruffians won’t take kindly to the fact that the party has been “snooping” around town and possibly honing in on their quarry. If you need to kill some time, the outsiders could become belligerent and end up fighting the party right in the berry patch.

In the event that a fight does break out, the group will surrender as soon as the party starts to get the upper hand. This is just a group of random thugs and they will not be prepared to go toe to toe with an equipped adventuring party.

Whether there is an altercation or not, this encounter is here to give you the ability to pass extra information on to the party as needed. If you are short on time and need to keep things clipping along, these fellows could pass along the clues found at any of the other sites. This could be done as an apology for getting involved in a skirmish or in hope of getting a few coins from the thankful adventurers.

Back to the Village?

To keep this as simple as possible there are 3 main clues the party might uncover while they investigate sites related to the attacks. Any other these on their own aren’t going to be enough to tip the party off in any particular direction. However, should the party inquire about the clues with the villagers, a clear picture will start to form that it would be wise to head to the ruins of Kelthura.

Villagers will recognize the rune on the pendant as being similar to those found in the ruins of Kelthura. Artwork © 2015 Dean Spencer, used with permission. All rights reserved.
  • The reddish mud found at location #1: Villagers with outdoorsy type occupations will be able to point out that mud resembling this is common in the marshy areas at the foot of the mountains to the northeast.
  • The pendant with the strange rune found at location #2: Old-timers will recognize the rune as coming from an ancient people who resided in a city named “Kelthura”. The ruins of Kelthura are actually located roughly 5 miles to the northeast. What they won’t realize is the fact that the pendant had been around the beast’s neck. Lawrence managed to rip it off during the struggle.
  • “Kel…”: The letters that Anya scrawled won’t mean much to anyone on their own. However, combined with either of the other two clues, the connection may be made that perhaps she was trying to write “Kelthura”. As someone who would often lose herself in her forest wanderings, Anya was known to sometimes venture to the ruins. Why she would choose to communicate the name of these ancient ruins would still be a bit of a mystery.

Armed with these bits of information it is likely that the party will want to know more about the ruins of Kelthura. If they conclude their investigations and are still not drawn to the ruins, I suggest having the beast make another attack on one of the outlying villagers. This will allow the adventurers to get to the scene while it is still fresh and find fresh tracks that will lead them to Kelthura.

To be continued!

That’s going to do it for me for this week. In my next post I’ll uncover the beast itself, describe the ruins of Kelthura, and provide a number of unanswered questions to hopefully spark ideas for your campaign.

In the meantime if you’d like to check out any other maps with plot hooks I’ve collected them here.

Hello future people! I’ve completed part 3 and you may find it here!

Thank you for reading and have a great week!

The Beast of Zarechka – Part 1

Darkness looms over the quiet village of Zarechka and rumors of a fearsome beast spread through the countryside. For weeks now, the villagers have lived in terror as a malevolent creature strikes without warning, leaving behind only death and destruction in its wake.

The mayor has put out a call for brave adventurers to come forth and hunt down the beast. But as the party begins their investigation, they soon discover that there may be more to this mystery than meets the eye. Will they uncover the truth behind the terror, or fall prey to the same fate as those who came before them?

This week I’m back with another plot-hook to get your creative juice flowing. As always, I’ll try to keep this as system agnostic as possible. Rather than provide a complete adventure, I’ll set the stage and let you fill in the blanks in the manner that would best suit your table. This week’s will be a three-parter. I’ll set the stage today and then follow up with the rest.


Zarechka is a small village nestled at the foot of a range of forested hills, in a remote corner of Borea. The village is situated near a small river, which provides water for the villagers’ crops and animals.

Houses in the village are made of wood and stone, with thatched roofs and small gardens. The villagers are mostly farmers and craftsmen, and they lead simple lives, working hard to make a living in the rugged wilderness that surrounds them.

Despite its peaceful and welcoming appearance, Zarechka has been terrorized by a series of brutal assaults over the past month. The attacks have been gruesome and concentrated on those outside of the village, including farmers, travelers, and livestock. The villagers have heard haunting howls and strange noises emanating from the nearby forest at night and are certain that a savage beast is responsible.

The village’s mayor, Jacob Russoff, has grown desperate for a solution and has turned to the party for help. Upon arriving in Zarechka, they will feel the palpable tension and fear that grips the village. Folk look at them with a mixture of hope and desperation, praying that they are the ones who will put an end to the reign of terror that has befallen their town.

I’ve included a basic map for the village of Zarechka. Feel free to use it or simply swap in a village from your existing campaign. In terms of the availability of good and services, keep in mind that Zarechka is located in a remote area, so characters will not have access to everything that they might expect to find in a large city.

The Attacks

The attacks started nearly a month ago with the brutal killing of a farmer named Dimitri Kozlov, who lived in a remote cabin near the edge of the forest. Since then, there have been similar attacks with livestock being taken and people being killed. Villagers have also heard haunting howls and strange noises emanating from the forest at night. Despite their efforts to defend themselves, the attacks have become more frequent in recent weeks, and the villagers are now living in constant fear.

Mayor Russoff may be able to provide valuable information. © J Lonnee, 2011. Licensed by Nevermet Press, LLC. Used by permission.

The party will surely want to ask the mayor for any information that he can provide regarding the attacks. It is also likely that they will spend some time gathering information from the villagers. Anyone within the village or outlying area will be able to also tell the party will be able to tell the party about the other two victims.

The second victim was a shepherd named Lawrence Talbot, who was found dead in the early morning hours by his fellow shepherds. A young woman named Anya Ivanova was the third. She was a local seamstress who was found dead in the woods, after venturing out to forage for herbs and mushrooms.

Below are a number additional rumors that the party is likely to uncover. (A “T” will indicate that there is at least some truth to the rumor while an “F” will indicate that it is entirely false.)

  • (T) The mayor’s daughter claims to have seen the creature in the forest while she was out picking berries. Valentyna Russoff actually did catch a glimpse of the creature in broad daylight and should be able to provide a basic description. She would also be able to direct the party to the location of the berry patch.
  • (F) Old man Igor believes the attacks are the result of a curse brought upon the village by a witch who was banished many years ago.
  • (T) A group of outsiders passing through town claim to have killed the beast and are looking for a reward for their services. This group arrived in the village last week, with the carcass of a large wolf. They demanded a reward for slaying “the beast”. However, the mayor did not believe that their claim was true and refused to pay. The group left the village, clearly upset and vowing their revenge for having been wronged.
  • (T) A farmer named Alexei saw the beast dragging off one of his cows in the middle of the night. Alexi’s farm is not far from where Valentyna Russoff saw the beast. Unfortunately, he saw it at night and from the back, so while he can describe it, his description would be similar to that of a great bear.
  • (F) A visiting scholar from the city believes the attacks are the result of a rogue experiment conducted by a mad scientist who lives in the area.
  • (T) A blacksmith named Mikhail claims to have found large, clawed footprints near the scene of one of the attacks. Mikhail made a bronze cast of the tracks, and they seem to resemble those of an incredibly large wolf.
  • (F) A young woman named Katerina believes the attacks are the result of a vengeful spirit seeking revenge for an old injustice.
  • (F) A hunter named Sergei claims to have seen the beast with his own eyes while he was out tracking a bear. If asked, he will provide the description of an owlbear.
  • (F) A traveling merchant believes the attacks are the result of a group of bandits who are using the cover of the beast to mask their activities.
  • (T) A farmer named Vlad claims to have heard the beast howling in the woods at night, and the howls were unlike anything he had ever heard before. Vlad is well-acquainted with the sound of wolves, and he can assure the party that this was no wolf.

These rumors are a little homage to B2 The Keep on the Borderlands and something that I come back to in many of my adventures. Use them at your discretion and according to what need from the adventure. If you’re tight on time and just using this as a one-shot, you might eliminate the false rumors altogether. On the other hand, if you’re needing to kill time while you work on other parts of your campaign, some red herrings might keep your party tied up for a while.

I’m going to be fleshing out some of the areas that the party is likely to want to explore. I will not be adding information for any of the false leads that they may receive from the villagers. That bit I’ll leave up to you. For instance, there was a witch who was banished years ago, and a mad scientist does reside in the area. However, since neither of them has anything to do with the beast of Zarechka, I will not be discussing them here.

The Investigation

After having had a chance to speak with mayor Russoff and other villagers, there are 4 main locations that the party is likely to want to investigate. I’ve marked these as #1- #4 on the local area map and will describe them.

Location #1 Dimitri Kozlov’s Farm

Dimitri’s farm lies just over a mile north of Zarechka. Arriving on the scene, the party will find that the fields have not been tended to in quite some time and the animals have already been removed by other villagers.

The farmer was taken from inside his cabin, which sits at the edge of the forest. The door has been shattered and the splintered wood around the latch suggests that whatever broke in was large and powerful. The door is slightly ajar, creaking back and forth in the breeze.

The cabin is in a state of disarray, with furniture overturned and personal belongings strewn about. Blood stains the walls and floor, and scattered furniture indicates that something grisly occurred here. There is no body or any form of substantial remains, aside from the splatters of blood. Villagers will be able to confirm that the scene remains exactly as it was originally found.

A keen eye will notice reddish mud or clay tracks on the floor. Rangers or characters with appropriate nature skills will recognize these as resembling those of a great wolf, but only for the hind feet. They will also note that they have not seen this reddish mud anywhere else in the area. As they inspect the scene further, they will also spot large human handprints alongside the wolf tracks. Something terrible has happened here.

As this was the first attack and occurred nearly a month ago, tracking the beast outside of the cabin will be fruitless. The key clues here will be the types of tracks, as well as the reddish mud. Once they are back in Zarechka, the villagers may be able to provide some insight into the mud. I will cover that in part 2.

Location # 2 Lawrence Talbot’s Shepherd Post

This field, situated at the foot of a gentle slope, can be found about two miles north of the village. The grass here is lush and green, and the occasional wildflower can be seen swaying in the breeze. The air is filled with the gentle sound of bleating sheep and the rustling of leaves in the wind.

It is in this idyllic setting that Lawrence Talbot tended his flock before his grisly demise. Though his remains have long since been removed, the rocks at the foot of the hills still bear stains of his blood. A sense of unease lingers in the air, as if some dark force still haunts this peaceful field.

Other shepherds in the area will be able to point the party to where Lawrence’s remains were found. Aside from the blood on the rocks, nothing else is immediately evident. However, a thorough search of the area will turn up a broken leather thong on which rests a pendant engraved with a strange rune. Villagers back in Zarechka may be able to shed some light on the nature of the rune but I will cover that in part 2 next week.

To be continued!

I truly appreciate you taking the time to stop by. If you are enjoying yourself, I encourage you to please say hello in the comments below. Part 2 has already been posted and you may find it here. Part 3 has also now been posted and you may find it here.

I’ve dropped a few Easter eggs into this one and I took inspiration for this adventure from the story of the Beast of Gévaudan. If you’d rather listen to something than read, I’d suggest checking out the Stuff You Missed In History Class episode.

Finally, if you’d just like to see more of my maps with plot hooks, you may find them here. That’s all for now. Have a great week and good gaming!