Some non-violent traveling encounters. These are of a rather different tone that what I've heretofore posted in this thread, but I don't think it's worth making a new thread over or anything.
- The skeleton of a moose is caught in a crevase.
- You come across a small mouse sitting on a stone. He says "Hello, travelers. Please feel free to meditate with me in this place."
- Goblin refugees
- Three dead rabbits carefully arranged in a triangle
- A chair made from elk antlers left unattended
- A large battleaxe stuck in the ground, on closer inspection the handle is charred and the blade is fused to the rock it's stuck into.
- At the edge of a river, a set of clothes neatly folded with a pair of boots resting on top, cobwebs and dust indicate they've been there for some time.
- In the center of a forrect, Animal skeletons have been carefully and meticulously arranged to appear that they are having a tea party like humans, holding carefully whittled cups at a table.
- Two identical huts, perfectly identical, facing each other in the middle of a swamp. Living in the huts are identical twin hags, down to the exact same mole on their cheek. The two are bitter and constantly argue with each other, referring to each other with the same name, when a character says the name, both will turn to look at him.
- A dead body and a scattered coin purse, on closer inspection the coins are actually foil covered chocolates. Apparently someone didn't find humor in the novelty.
- In a tree, you could swear you saw a squirrel wearing a feathered headdress.
- A bear. It doesn't attack or do anything a normal bear wouldn't do.
- A bear. It's wearing reading glasses, and talks amicably to the players.
- A merchant spies the party and pulls rolls of cloth off a donkey, setting up a pavilion quickly. He doesn't have much, but he may have what you need.
- A powerful elemental demon trapped in the body of a native beast
- Local witches who serve the land itself
- A tribe of wandering demons
- A farm
- a sword in a tree (if you remove the sword, the tree dies)
- a glade of pretty flowers
- a glade of living flowers
- A Weeping Willow whose foliage hangs up instead of down.
- A skull sitting on top of a rock. The jaw chatters as the players get close, they soon realize it's making a song with the chattering, otherwise it's harmless.
- A miniature city in the middle of the forest, complete with lights and smoke drifting from tiny chimneys. There's no people to be seen.
- A tree with singing fruit. They sing in harmony making either a beautiful choir or a barbershop quartet, depending on the tone of your game. Otherwise they can simply argue among themselves and try to plead with the players to eat them, making sure to eat the whole thing.
- A particular area of an open plain is covered by storming clouds, the clouds are black and cackle with static, but they seem to stay in a circle. - In the ground in the center of the clouds is an empty bottle, moving the bottle will cause the clouds to follow.
- In the middle of a swap, in the water, is a table and a couple of chairs. If one were to sit in the chair his lap would be covered by the murky swampwater (teeming with bugs and reptiles, naturally). On the table seems to be an unfinished poker game and a hock of raw gator meat.
- How about an abandoned homestead/shack? Maybe a random animal has made a home in it, maybe it will have a plot hook/side quest hidden within. Maybe there's a nice little item in there, or some left-behind gold for the keen-eyed.
- A cleric asks the party to help him restore a small shrine. It needs to have foliage cleared off of in front of it.
- A nest of feathers in a tree of bone juts out of the landscape. Inside the nest is only the shards of a broken eggshell.
- The party finds a small cave. If they have a decent light, gleaming formations abound within this cave. Sadly, it is only a small space, and the formations are mere calcite.
- A far traveled party of adventurers on an unrelated quest. // You come across a group who seek the touchstone of Shal'breth (or some other suitable fantasy name). What do you do?
- You find a stone archway covered in elaborate carvings. It looks new, and there are no buildings or foundations nearby.
- A wizened old man is sitting beside the path upon a reed mat. He has a small fire under a teapot, which is steaming. He seems to be asleep.
- Deep in the forest, they find a tree much larger than those around it, at least 10 foot wide. In the side of the tree, nestled between large roots, is a simple wooden door, with some runes engraved on the side. It is not locked, but does not open. There are no hinges, but a DC15 perception check ensures it is a door, and not carved into the wood.
- The party comes across an abandoned village in the woods, what looks to be a modest sawmill surrounded by 10 buildings. There is no sign of trouble, no dead bodies, and the streets are littered with the simple refuse of a busy community, but free of wild animals, and the forest doesn't seem to be encroaching the place. Inside a room above the small bar, they find a simple note, "They've come to collect us. We did our part, and now we are free."
- A camp of Robin Hood type brigands hiding in the forest.
- Ancient ruins of a long forgotten temple with hardly readable illustrations on collapsed walls that tell of a time before history.
- A huge circle of mushrooms marking a spot where once a year at the night of the winter solstice amateur witches convene to levitate feathers and read fortunes in tea leaves.
- A pear shaped missile of blue ice, embedded in a fresh crater and melting.
- An unmarked grave.
- The remains of a large bear, ripped to pieces and partly eaten.
- A line of rabbit snares with some funneling out of freshly cut branches.
- An abandoned campsite.
- A stone statue of three arguing trolls.
- A lost purse with some copper coins.
- A pit trap.
- trees that are all red on one side (because of a fire that blew through the area years ago--maybe sorcery or elvish rites in-game)
- a fallen tree that is twisted around (because of lightning IRL--maybe fairies in-game)
- a pretty waterfall with logs coming over in regular intervals... very regular intervals
- a big, round hole in the ground with smooth sides (maybe a lava tube? maybe a kobold den? dorfs?)
- One interesting thing I did see once was a field with all the trees fallen down, so that their tops pointed to the southwest. Don't rightly know why, only thing I could guess is that they got anxious to follow the setting sun that they worked their own roots out of the ground.
a broken altar and ripped apart skeletons in robes - the demon is nowhere to be seen (and no stories of a demon or a cult in the surrounding villages)
- a skeleton with an old flask and an (now empty, of course) food bag. An iron nail lies next to its spine, near where the throat was.
- the old theme of the skeletons of two lovers, embracing each other
an animal skeleton with freakishly twisted bones, killed by a some arrows. It was apparently pregnant, with even more twisted little baby skeletons inside.
- A field stretching hundreds of yards filled with identical daggers sticking blade up from the ground like metal grass. A strong wind blows that seem to make them wave like wheat might.
- A small clay figure sitting alone on a rock, on closer inspection it is an exact replica of one of the players, more clay figures of other group members are found in other places.
- A large construct of wooden timbers and flapping hide sails lumbers across a plain on an army of feet. The hulking "thing" appears to have hundreds of arrows shot into it and blood stains on it's feet. It walks in a straight line, unphased by anything around it. If players block its path, they can stop it with a difficult strength check. It resumes motion as soon as they let it go. If they choose to board it, they eventually discover it turns ninety degrees to the right at uneven intervals.
- A tree has fallen, landing on another tree which has caused it's roots to grow around it. Someone has carved an impressive sculpture of a man holding a lifeless woman, as if catching her from a fall. Fresh sap drips from his eyes.
- A part of a river doesn't seem to obey natural law. For whatever reason, the water goes up a small hill. The area of affect is very small, and it only goes "up" a couple of feet, but the effect is still eye catching.
- An escaped circus bear, walking on top of his giant ball
- A chair has been constructed with several large books. They appear to be religious texts of a deep variety of gods, perhaps the entire pantheon in your game.
- Deep in the forest is a glen where the trees seem to have faces, and the flowers seem to glow ephemerally. Should one creature chase another within this accursed place, the faces on the trees will begin to speak, chanting and cheering for their respective hopes. The trees that cheered the successful party will grow taller and proud, their branches rising into the air, if only just a bit. The trees that cheered the loser, however, will droop and wither just a touch, and they will seem almost to be willows of oak should the trees be particularly unfortunate in their choices.
A construct or animal, standing above an old skeleton, saying "Papa, wake up, papa, wake up..." repeatedly, only stopping to ask for help in 'waking up papa'.
- Your players come across a large rock or cliff face. There is a door painted on.
- The players come across a mattress.
- The players come across an old man who's towing a hefty and dirty sack. The sack smells terrible and flies are frantically buzzing around it. If the sack is examined carefully, the players will notice that the sack occasionally twitches. The Old Man greets the players cheerfully and warmly, and politely inquires about their travels and compliments them on their looks. If asked about the sack, the Old Man laughs and says "it's a long story", then quickly changes the subject. If the sack is opened, the players will find a number of deformed fetus's. The fetus's will twitch, jerk and breathe. The Old Man will not explain how or why he has a sack of living fetus's, and if asked he will continue to simply say "it's a long story". If the Old Man is engaged in combat, the fetus's will begin to scream until the Old Man is killed. If the Old Man is killed, the fetus's will also suddenly die. The Old Man will not defend himself, and will continue to engage in pleasant conversation even while he is being killed. If the players do kill the Old Man, then at random intervals later in the game they will see him watching them in the distance. If they try to approach him, he will disappear.
- You find a tiny village of clockwork gnomes. The gnomes are completely silent but they look happy and go about their day to day business as though you weren't there. Nearby you find a delapidated shack filled with schematics and what looks like gnome components. In the corner of the shack there is a skeleton clutching an adorable female gnome.
- The remains of a potted plant and a whale that both smashed into the ground at terminal velocity.
- A pond sized spot of gray nothing, very slowly spreading.
- A house made of gingerbread with vile smelling black smoke coming out of the chimney. Inspections reveals a humble home recently lived in with a large cage in the corner and some charred bones in the dying oven fire.
- An area with a non mechanical Orrery.
- While the model sun does not actually have the proportionate luminosity of the sun, it is approximately as bright and hot as the flame from a blow torch, and is as such, considerably dangerous. While the closer celestial bodies of the system are within a reasonable distance of the sun, especially distant bodies may be encountered at distances of up to 3/4 of a mile away. These bodies are implacable, and cannot be impeded by any means. Attempts to do so will inevitably end in property damage and or gore. Discerning parties will notice a cordon of regularly spaced plinths of an unidentifiable and obdurite substance, engraved with cryptic warnings in a number of dead languages, or languages that passingly resemble known dead languages.
- A dryad who has taken to gardening and bush sculpting around her tree to draw in more visitors for friendly conversation
- A team of bumbling level 1 adventurers who are treating the area as some sort of haunted nightmare woods.
- A bloated and rotting elf corpse being poked with sticks by some kids from a nearby town
- A clan of druids performing a play for their own entertainment using their animal friends.
- A bag of raccoon baculums just sitting under a tree.
- A friendly kobold with a map. He asks for directions. The map is either not for this area or hundreds of years out of date.
- The royal road builder corps, conquering the wilderness and building a trade road through it.
- several skeletons and rusted armor and weapons from a long forgotten battle
- A crashed ocean going ship, the result of magic gone wrong, crash landing hundreds of miles from the coast
- Gnome biologists, scientifically categorizing all the forest life
- A "young" dragon hobo who can't find a cave or ruin to live in, so is occupying the wilderness for now. He's indignant about it if questioned.
- A trader with a broken down ox cart full of useless stuff is asking for help. Now let the players decide what they expect (don't ask them, they will tell you regardless). Now fulfill that expectation in a reasonable way and keep it going.If they help fix the cart the trader is grateful and pays them a coin or two. Now he can pop up later whenever there's an inn, a market, a farm, or a rocky road, presenting new unsubstantial problems. If they suspect he may be hiding something prove them right and reveal some unknown threat they may want to check out later. If they think he is setting them up to be ambushed, provide an ambush. If they rob him he will run away and start raising officials and guards against them wherever they go. If they kill him he will become a haunting spirit that shows up whenever they cannot afford to be distracted. The idea is to keep the plot string going indefinitely without dominating the plot. It can become a running gag or a sinister conspiracy. Just let the players decide and never tell them that they did.