A Big List Of Wilderness Encounters for D&D or RPGs

Mountain Goat Bluff | Breaking The Ice | Sahuagin Hunting Party | Desert Dragon Den | Secret Chasm | Giants Vs Dragons

Mountain Goat Bluff

The road fades away under a covering of snow, but it takes you far enough to see a timeworn gazebo, knocked over. To the west, gray cliffs rise sharply, framing a large amber obelisk covered with runes. A powerful bouquet of competing floral fragrances floats throughout the area.

Navigation DC 15, Foraging DC 20. -12°C (10°F) at day. -18°C (-0.5°F) at night with light snow and wind. The PCs need cold weather gear or else make a DC 10 Con save every hour to avoid exhaustion. Food and water freezes and needs to be heated. During the morning, the PCs see a herd of goats.

A limping bailiff and his badly beaten prisoner are walking down the road. The man is being returned to jail for theft and assaulting a member of justice. The prisoner claims that he was only stealing bread to avoid starvation and was defending himself from an overzealous bailiff. The prisoner swears on his honor that if the party pays his fine of 25 gold pieces that he will stay with the group to work off the debt by being the party's servant. He originally offers his services for one gold per day but is willing to haggle. If the fine is paid the prisoner stays with the party for only half of any agreed time before attempting to run away in the night. If the party makes Insight checks, you could roll them secretly against the man's Deception (+2), telling those that fail that the bailiff is lying and those that succeed that the man is lying, then let the players argue.

Breaking The Ice

Windswept piles of snow and branches clump between small boulders poking through the snow. Southeast of the road is a barrow mound. A woman wearing a brown shirt stands there, with hands pressed together in a gesture of prayer. Next to the mound is a temple in need of repair. Chunks of the wall have fallen into piles of rubble, and many of the wooden structures are marred or broken. Overhead you see a hot air balloon.

Navigation DC 15 Foraging DC 20. -1°C (31°F) at day, -12°C (10°F) at night with heavy wind. The PCs need cold weather gear or else make a DC 10 Con save every hour to avoid exhaustion. Food and water freezes and needs to be heated. Each hour travelling at high altitudes for creatures that breathe counts as 2 hours for determining how long you can travel. The woman is praying for her husband and child, who died during travel. After the players decide to continue on, the hot air balloon will be struck by a projectile and crash on the other side of a frozen lake, attracting the attention of some goblins and a hunting manticore. If the PCs arrive, the goblins and manticore will stop fighting over the balloon. The manticore recognizes the PCs as the greater prize and threat with plans to kill and eat everyone. The goblins realize they're outmatched, but the manticore and PCs will likely weaken each other enough to give them a chance. The gnome in the balloon is badly injured from the crash, and will die unless the PCs stop both the manticore and goblins, as well as administer first aid.

Stepping on any tile of the ice will cause it to crack. Stepping on a cracked ice tile will cause it to break, plunging that character into the frigid water. Characters that fall into the water must make a DC 15 Con save or have disadvantage on attacks, skills, and saves for 1 minute as they suffer hypothermia. Characters with cold resistance have advantage on the save, and setting the target on fire ends the effect. If the affected character spends a full turn next to a heat source such as an open flame, they can repeat the Con save and end the effect on a success. The PCs start in the bottom right, and the enemies in the top left. The manticore will stick to the sky, attacking any ranged attackers with tail spines, and land if any can be caught out undefended. The goblins will stick to the trees and shoot at anyone attempting to cross the ice or otherwise approach them. If left alone and the manticore is defeated, the goblins will try to kill and loot the gnome in the balloon before sneaking away if the party is still able to fight. If the majority of PCs are reduced to 0 after the manticore is defeated, the goblins will try to pick off any survivors and claim the rewards for themselves.

Ice Lake Battle Map

Sahuagin Hunting Party

Gloom spills out of the coast to cover the road behind you. The well-worn road splits here, and a signpost points off in three directions. The north fork slants down and disappears into the ridges, while the northeast fork clings to an upward slope. A wary-looking blue elven woman lurks behind the ridges, a rusty lantern clutched in one muddy hand and a quarterstaff clutched in the other. A dense mist floats just above the ground, carpeting the area in a perpetual fog.

Navigation DC 10, Foraging DC 10. 9°C (48°F) at day. 5°C (40.5°F) at night with light wind and rain. The woman is an aquatic elf, out for a patrol. She's not hostile, but is wary of the PCs and doesn't want them to discover her village in the shallows and will do her best to keep conversation brief before going their separate ways, perhaps suggesting that they check out the nearby "lucky travel stone." A large disc shaped stone at the base of a long dormant volcano. Visitors toss a copper at it for good luck. There are a couple hundred copper around it. A DC 10 History check (or the elf's warning) will know it is considered extraordinarily bad luck to take the coppers.

In the early evening, a Sahuagin Priestess and her hunting party of sahuagin emerges from the waters as she blows her conch, causing an ominous drone that echoes along the coast. The PCs can engage or try to avoid the hunting party, and if left unharassed they will hunt along the coast for a few hours before launching a raid on a nearby aquatic elf village in the shallows and then return to the deep at midnight. Use the Encounter Maker with "sahuagin" in the search field to customize a fight for your party, or you can use this one appropriate for level 3-4: Sahuagin Hunting Party

Coastal Battle Map

Desert Dragon Den

The road meanders into a desert watched over by broad mountains to the northeast and southwest. The entire area has been completely devastated, as if by some cataclysmic event. Ahead, the dirt road splits in two, widening toward the south with patches of cobblestone. Up on the cliffs of the mountains you see a huge cave entrance that seems dotted with crystals that glimmer in the distance.

Navigation DC 10, Foraging DC 20. 61°C (141°F) at day, and 40°C (104°F) at night. The PCs must drink twice as much water (2 gallons/day for medium) or else make a Con save every hour for exhaustion, the DC is 5+the number of hours, and heavy/medium armor gives disadvantage on the save.

During the day is a raging Transmutation Storm. Everything is heavily obscured, tracks and flames are smothered. The environment transforms into a mixture of materials such as stone, ice, wood, and others which makes everything difficult terrain.

The lair of an Adult Blue Dragon is found up on the cliffs. It's a large cave entrance surrounded with the skeletons of all sorts of creatures, both humanoid and monster, many trapped within the large crystals that cover the entrance and continue underground. If the PCs decide to investigate, they will encounter deadly sinkholes (DC 20 Perception to spot, DC 15 Dexterity save to avoid or else fall 1d6x10 feet), and if the dragon detects them it will collapse the caverns and burrow out, leaving them to be crushed (DC 15 Dex, 20d6 damage) and suffocate (1+Con minutes). The dragon will return the next day to reopen its lair and pick over any corpses. You may want to run the collapsing of the caverns as a hazardous skill challenge.

Secret Chasm

The hills part to reveal an expansive clearing: a short stone wall, perfectly enclosing a great plot of flowers shrouded in light mist nearby. A series of stone-carved stairs climb from the base of the ridgeline to several cave openings that pock the cliff face. A natural chasm has opened in the desert to the west, splitting the land like a tear.

Navigation DC 10. Foraging DC 15. 14°C (58°F) at day. 7°C (44.5°F) at night. A lightning storm begins part-way into the day, anyone in metal armor or shield in the open has a 25% chance of getting struck each hour, requiring a DC 12 Dexterity Save or else they take 3d10 lightning damage (half on save). There's a neutral Galeb Duhr that looks like a boulder and will come to life when the PCs get close. It only speaks Terran, but won't try to harm the party if they don't try to harm it. If the players manage to make friendly conversation it has some knowledge of the surrounding area noting that it likes to spend time admiring the flowers, and can warn them of the "tricky chasm" up ahead. The Galeb Duhr will say it's never been beyond the chasm, since it has nothing to hide.

Set in front of a giant chasm is a circle inscribed with the symbol of Vecna and several very complicated runes with teleportation-related properties. On a basic knowledge check, a character can remember that Vecna is the god of secrets. A character who stands in the middle of the circle and states a secret about themselves that they try to hide will be teleported across the chasm. If players are stuck, you can allow them to roll for hints by spending an hour studying, at the risk of more lightning bolts.

Giants Vs Dragons

Several large craters dot the area, the result of some antiquated and powerful impact. To the southwest and north lies a dark marsh with a river, an antiquated trading post, blackened by fire and its roof covered in chipped and faded paint, and an arching crystal bridge spanning a gap. The lower half of a snapped wooden signpost thrusts upward at an angle near the eastern elbow of the intersection. The top half of the sign, featuring arms pointing in each direction, lies in the fallen leaves nearby. Aspen leaves rustle gently, glittering like the pale, golden embers of a forge fire. The fog hangs thick in the air, turning the woods around you into gray ghosts.

Navigation DC 15, Foraging DC 10. 15°C (59°F) at day, 23°C (73°F) at night with light rain. The area is a place with Unraveling Magic (Tasha's pg. 161). At the trading post is a traveling merchant who can sell mundane items at 10% above normal price.

A massive artwork carved into a boulder is placed some ways away from the banks of the nearby river. The artwork seems to depict a struggle between giants and dragons, with the giants as the victors. The faintly red runes which line it are giantish, and anyone who can decipher them will read that it marks a momentous battle between giants and dragons, over which should decide the course of the river. A DC 10 Nature check can determine the path the river used to take, and if the party investigates the old riverbed they'll find an Ankheg lying in ambush underground.

Looking for more? Try the Wilderness Travel tool to generate more sights, descriptions, and encounters.

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