Following the theme of river pirates, today's tables are a small collection of tools for creating river encounters. No matter whether your PC's are exploring some vast river in an undiscovered country or just travelling a few days up-river to another town in their own country, this set of tools should be useful to you. The small toolset presented below has options for weather, time, terrain, animals, monsters, and people to dress out the basic events also listed below. The toolset helps you create ideas for river encounters in four simple steps.
#1 Determine the Weather and the Time of Day
Weather Conditions Time of Day
Low patchy fog Middle of the night
Clear with a light breeze Pre-dawn
Eerily calm with dark clouds lit by flashes of lightning Early Morning
Intermittant light rain Late Morning
Moderate steady rain and wind Middle of the day
Heavy rain with a light breeze Afternoon
Torrential rain and wind Sundown
Clear and calm Evening
#2 Determine the Terrain and the Event
A place where the river branches off Studied by animals
A small sandbar island in the middle of the river Stalked by monsters
A deep, slow-moving section of the river Scouted by people
A shallow, fast-moving section of the river Attacked by animals
A large fallen tree blocks half the river Attacked by monsters
A collapsed bridge lies in ruins blocking the river Attacked by people
A number of large rocks jut out from the water Animals stalking prey
A large waterfall requiring the boat to be carried around it Monsters killing animals
A camp on the sandy shore of the river People fighting monsters
A wide section of the river, more like a lake People who need help
#3 Determine Who or What Your PC's Encounter
Animals Monsters People
Swarm of Quippers Tribe of Kobolds River Pirates
Giant Beaver Shambling Mound Bandits on horses
Pack of Blood Hawks Pack of Harpies Mounted Patrol
Hungry Brown Bear Stirges River Merchants
Pack of Deer Tribe of Bullywugs Religious Pilgrims
Giant Crocodile Cyclops Merchant Caravan
Pack of Giant Frogs Green Hag Mappers and Surveyors
Poisonous Water Snake Griffon Bounty Hunters
Man-Eating Tiger Manticore Fishermen
Pack of Wolves Blights Swimmers
#4 Put It All Together
Putting it all together just requires making some logical sense out of the results keeping your campaign in mind while you do so. Below are five quick examples of putting together some random rolls on the tables to generate a few river encounters for your party.
I rolled 4, 2, 9, 3, 9
In an on-and-off light rain, just before dawn, you spy a small camp on the sandy shore of the river. The camp has two fishermen who are watching you and another just fishing from the bank.
I rolled 1, 1, 8, 8, 3, 7
In a low patchy fog, in the middle of the night, the party is camped beside a large waterfall. The lookout spots a hideous green-faced hag on the opposite shore communing with a flying and diving pack of bloodhawks.
I rolled 2, 7, 2, 9, 7, 7
A light breeze blows on your face as the sun goes down. On a sandbar island in the middle of the river, you see a pair of surveyors battling a pack of three giant frogs.
I rolled 7, 6, 7, 8, 6, 10
Torrential rain and wind slow travel and reduce visability. In the afternoon, you approach an area where a number of large rocks jut out from the water, slowing navigation through the area. On shore you spot what looks like a cyclops battling a pack of seven wolves.
I rolled 1, 6, 5, 0, 6, 1
Through the low, patchy, afternoon fog, the lookout spies a large tree that has fallen into the river and is blocking half of it. She also spots a group of religious pilgrims. They call out to you. They are being chased by a group of river pirates who are just upstream around the bend. Unfortunately, the pilgrim's raft has become snagged by the fallen tree's branches. They want you to help get them unstuck so they can escape attack.
I hope that this helps you to design some cool river encounters for your PC's. Until next time, Happy Gaming!