Random Encounters: Swampy Wetlands
Updated: Mar 4
I know I haven't posted for a while, I'm still getting back into the swing of things. However, I have been working on anther set of exciting Random Encounters for you all because I am SO excited about this series! This week's chosen environment? Swampy Wetlands, as chosen by Twitter! As I mentioned in my last Random Encounters post that focused on Urban Streets, I loved that 'Xanathar's Guide To Everything' began to think about encounters by environment or locale, but I wanted to provide a more detailed idea of the kinds of things that could be encountered!
So - Swamps, Bogs, Marshes, Fens, and Wetlands are a really interesting environment to focus on. Though they all of course have specific differences, they all ultimately conjure up a very similar image. I picture smelly water, mud, low-hanging trees, strange gases and mists, and a lot of dangerous wildlife. I have tried to reflect that in my encounter choices! Once again, the CRs here should be level appropriate, but feel free to use any encounter at any level and adjust as needed! Stat Blocks are all found in books by Wizards Of The Coast!
Levels 1-4 (Roll 1d12):
An odd, putrid stench bubbles up from nearby. The source of the smell is unclear.
3 Giant Toads watch the party travel by with interest. One of them is an odd colouration.
A Scout wanders the area, bow and arrow in hand. They are friendly and offer to guide the party through the marshes for a small fee. If the party accept and are kind to them, they offer each member a rare berry from a tree native to the swamp that offers 1d4 Temporary HP.
While wandering, the party are set upon by a Groff that has been lurking in the waters.
Russet Mould is growing within this area, and will react if the party get too close. A Thorny sits patiently nearby while 1d4 Vegepygmies search the area for useful scraps or rocks that can be crafted into tools.
1d6 + 4 Stirges swoop down and attempt to drain blood from the party members. Once they have taken 10HP worth, they fly away.
A skeletal hand can be seen stretching out of a nearby murky pond, with one Uncommon magical item of the DM’s choice glinting in it’s bony fingers.
The party stumble upon a very small long-abandoned settlement of two or three wooden huts. Basic supplies can be found within.
A group of 1d6 + 2 Bullywugs stalk the party and attempt to communicate with them, though do not speak Common. Their manner seems aggressive and urgent. They are trying to warn the party of an imminent danger.
In the distance, the party spot some oddly coloured lights caused by Swamp Gas. They disappear within the minute.
2 Vargouilles swoop down from a height, shrieking. They each choose a party member at random and attempt to kiss them.
One of the party stumbles into and disturbs 2 Swarms of Rot Grubs. They attack immediately.
Levels 5-10 (Roll 1d12):
The distant sound of panicked screaming can be heard. If the party head towards it, it maintains distance from them. They never find the source.
A bush covered in a variety of different coloured berries grows. These berries are poisonous when in contact with an open wound or ingested.
The party are forced to wade through a particularly swampy pool. 1 Giant Crocodile + 1d4 Crocodiles lurk within the waters.
A corpse dressed in fine travelling clothes can be seen in a nearby clearing, covered in multiple small stab wounds. 2 Darkling Elders and 1d6 + 4 Darklings are hiding and waiting to rob whomever investigates the corpse.
The party find themselves in very deep, sinking mud which requires a DEX saving throw (DC 13) to cross. Those that fail will begin to sink and be unable to pull themselves free without aid.
The party stumble across a nest of 1d4 + 2 Swarms Of Poisonous Snakes which will attack if disturbed.
1 Venom Troll stomps ferociously around the area, hungry and hostile. It will attack if it spots the party.
A Giant Constrictor Snake watches the party with interest, though is not necessarily hostile. Upon further engagement or inspection, the party may come to realise that it is a Druid in it’s wild-shape that lives within the swamp. If the Druid feels that the party are disrespectful towards or pose a danger to the swamp’s inhabitants, it may choose to pursue and eventually confront them.
It begins to rain heavily. Any natural flames are automatically extinguished unless magic prevents this. All members of the party ae soaked through and cold must make a CON saving throw (DC 11) or suffers one point of exhaustion.
The party spot some distant lights that attempt to beck the party towards them. They are in fact 1d4+2 Will-O’-Wisps that will become hostile once they have the party surrounded.
As the party make thei way though a particularly mulchy area, 2 Shambling Mounds lie in wait for unsuspecting party member to get too close.
Perceptive party members spot a nearby twisted tree with a hole in thee trunk. It contains a cache of glinting treasure - gold and gems being the most prevalent items of interest. A note has been hastily witten claiming that the treasure will bring misfortune upon anyone who takes it. If taken, nothing will happen.
Levels 11-16 (Roll 1d12):
The party are set upon by a vicious Maurezhi and its pack of 1 + 1d4 Ghasts and 1 + 1d6 Ghouls that are residing in a nearby burrow.
An unusual looking plant grows in the centre of a clearing. It is in fact a Corpse Flower. It will viciously attack anyone who gets too close.
The party entered the territory of 1d4 + 1 Catoblepas. Getting too close will upset them and they will try to drive the party out of their territory and away from their young.
The party come across a strange looking wooden idol that resembles some long-forgotten swamp deity. When picking it up, the party member have to succeed upon a INT saving throw (DC 14) or suffer as if under the effects of the enemies abound spell.
The party encounter a distressed stranger who begs for their aid, claiming that their children ran off into the swamp and are in trouble. It is in fact an Adult Oblex that leads the party towards its main body and 1d8 + 2 Oblex Spawn.
The party are forced across a narrow bank that winds through some dirty-looking water. It is exceptionally slippery and the party must make a DEX saving throw (DC 13) to stop themselves from falling in. If they fall into the water they must make a CON saving throw (DC 15) or contract Sight Rot, a painful infection causes bleeding from the eyes and eventually blinds the victim.
2 Rot Trolls roam the nearby area, unaware of their surroundings. The party will have to pass a group Stealth Check (DC 13) in order to sneak past them. They will attack on sight.
The surrounding area is a lot darker than other areas of the swamp and a sense of foreboding grips the party. They must each make a WIS saving throw (DC 13) or become Frightened. If one or more party members gain this condition, they are set upon by 1d10 + 5 Meenlocks.
The party enter an area of Toxic Gas. They must make a CON saving throw (DC 14) or suffer as if under the effects of the cloudkill spell.
The party enter an area in which the trees are lined with wooden huts and walkways between them. They are home to a community of Lizardfolk who are wary of strangers but can be persuaded to embrace the party, offering them any shelter or supplies they may need. They can also suggest a route or offer Giant Lizard mounts that will aid the party in reaching their destination in less time (at the DM’s discretion).
The party stumble across a relatively large but dilapidated wooden shack, built on stilts and not easily accessible across the water. It is the home to a coven of 3 Green Hags. They are dangerous, but dependant on the party’s approach may choose not to attack and instead offer the party a quest to resolve something that is causing them to quarrel, or to bring about misery to a long-standing enemy of theirs. Their hut contains 1d6 + 1 Uncommon magical potions and 1d4 Rare magical potions, as well as one Rare magical item of the DM’s choice.
The party encounter a sleeping Hydra. Unbeknownst to the party, one head will always remain awake while feigning sleep.
Levels 17-20 (Roll 1d12):
The party are beset upon by 2 Froghemoths. After round two in initiative, a tribe of 1 Bullywug Croaker, 1d6 + 1 Bullywugs and 1d4 + 1 Giant Frogs will frantically signal that the party stop the attack, as they worship these creatures as Gods. They will try to stop the party by any means necessary.
An odd looking mushroom grows in this area of the swamp, containing some strange and unpredictable magic. If ingested, roll on the Magic Mushroom Effects table, the Wild Magic surge table, or the DM is free to come up with their own.
The party are stalked and attacked by 2 Nabassus. They will not stop until they have devoured the souls of the whole party.
A party of adventurers are also exploring the swamps and have been ambushed by 1d12 + 5 Bodaks. They plead for the party’s aid as they are completely out of their depth.
The party stumble upon a restless spirit’s body. There is one Very Rare magic item on the corpse which, if taken, invokes the spirit’s wrath. The thief is given a form of Long-Term Madness.
A cold, rainy mist rolls in. Vision is obscured beyond 20 ft., and only Blindsight and Truesight negate these effects.
The wreck of a small, rotting boat is discovered. It is in fact a fully functioning folding boat that, if the command word is spoken, magically repairs and restores itself.
The party come across a pit of acid that they must cross. Crumbling and old, the planks require a DEX saving throw (DC 16). Anyone who fails will fall in and take 10d10 Acid damage.
The party are hit by an Emotional Echo of sorrow. They must make a WIS saving throw (DC 15) or be overcome by the emotion, falling to their knees and sobbing. If they fail by 5 or more, they must confess one secret out loud. 1d4 + 2 The Lost also roam the area, seeking solace.
An Archdruid safeguards the swamp. They offer the party safe passage if they complete a quest that will aid the local wildlife in some way.
The plants are far too overgrown in this area of the swamp, and finding a way around will cost the party another full day’s travel.
The party are alarmed when they stumble upon the lair of a Dragon of some kind, with two eggs nestled within. They are even more alarmed when they are immediately discovered by an Adult Black Dragon and a Young Black Dragon, it’s child.
I loved making these, and I really hope that these prove useful for DMs that are looking to create a journey through a swamp for their players. Some encounters have the potential to open up into more interesting side quests or role-play moments, while others may just remain a 'moment'.
I learnt a LOT about swamps while writing this, that's for sure! What kinds of encounters do you pictures when thinking about wetlands? Let me know!