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Worldbuilding Part 2: Encounter ideas for your ttrpg world map

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How many of you already have the new D&D Campaign, Rime of the Frostmaiden? I’m only about half-way through (don’t spoil it for me), but I love the introductions for every village in Ten-Towns. They show the perfect amount of background and detail to allow dungeon masters to drop adventurers into the cold tundra with little havens of safety and intrigue. Giving just a little bit of context to everything on your world map will help you be able to improvise in your campaigns far more easily if your adventurers decide to strike out in a random direction, away from your intended adventure. 

Last week, we went over how to create your world map and began devising the stories in the land, and today, I’m going to give you some usable examples! Let’s take a look at the world map we created and start plugging in some high level details about the villages and their possible adventures. Who knows? Maybe I’ll dedicate future dungeon maps to some of these locations. 

Be sure to check out our other DM’s Guide to Everything posts:

Here’s the map we made last week:

Worldbuilding for TTRPGs

Now let’s dive into some fun encounter ideas for your ttrpg world map!

Hillsberry Farms

Population: 126 (90% humans, 10% other races)

Leader: Daval Connogh (lawful good human commoner), elder speaker for the farming collective. 

Defense: Hillsberry relies on soldiers provided by Tor Dalen for defense against bandits and monsters. In a pinch, 20 militia members can be mustered from the families (use stat blocks for tribal warriors).

Commerce: A few basic goods and services are available at a commune store located near a large cluster of farm homes. 

Organizations: Hillsberry is home to the local Harvester’s Guild; a semi-religious organization dedicated to protecting the land while promoting sustainable growing practices. 

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Located near the Vindrassi coast lies the small farming commune of Hillsberry farms. This loose collection of homesteads provides food for the capital city of Tor Dalen and other outlying villages. The verdant fields take advantage of the warm coastal temperatures to grow all manner of vegetables and animal stock. A handful of Dalenite soldiers patrol the roads surrounding Hillsberry, but this is usually viewed as punishment duty.

Hillsberry farms adventures

Silver Bulette (Mid Level). Duergar dwarves in the nearby Arachi mountains learn of a way to control creatures using silvered runestones. These dwarves test out their workmanship by releasing a handful of bulettes to attack the farmsteads. If not stopped, the dwarves escalate their attacks with more creatures.

Tor Dalen

Population: 17,200 (75% human, 15% dwarves, 5% elves, 5% other races)

Leader: Eldin Tassar VI (lawful evil human noble), a hereditary baron who rules over Tor Dalen with an iron fist. 

Defense: A strong force of Dalenite soldiers protect the walls, while the city’s navy is over fifteen ships strong. 

Commerce: Thanks to the proximity to the ocean, Tor Dalen enjoys goods imported from other cities that most settlements would never see. Most goods and services are available within the city, and some unusual merchandise is available for the right price.

Organizations: Tor Dalen is home to many churches, most notably the shrine dedicated to Selune that holds a spot near the western docks. A criminal gang known as the “Dockrats” are starting to rise in power and spread their influence up and down the coast.

 

Often called “The Gem of the Isles”, Tor Dalen is the land and sea travel hub for the coastal cities along the Vindrassi coast. Wanderers visiting the city are free to explore the many wards, including the Noble ward, the Straw ward, the Dock ward, and the Guild ward. The city was founded by a dwarven mining enterprise that grew in size. Unfortunately, Eldin Tassar the 1st ousted the founders during a particularly foul winter. It was then he declared himself victor over “traitorous rebels”, and was granted a baron’s title. 

Tor Dalen adventures

Dockrat Initiation (Low Level). The Dockrat criminal guild is experiencing explosive growth and are looking for adventurers who don’t ask many questions. The party is tasked with stealing up to 1000 Gold pieces worth of antiques from high priority targets, one of which is a sentient bronze statue belonging to an elven heiress. Bringing back the required amount leads to a twilight initiation ritual and formal membership into the guild.

The Cask of Amon Tillado (High Level). An elderly dwarf breaks free from the baron’s stockades, claiming to be one of the founders of the city. Veteran guards swarm and attempt to take the prisoner away, but the dwarf pleads with the adventurers to help her. The adventurers must decide to help the prisoner or not, potentially sparking a long-simmering revolution against the baron.

Morwynn

Population: 542 (60% humans, 30% elves, 10% other races)

Leader: Tezerathil Windsong (neutral good wood elf archdruid), a middle-aged druid who watched the settlement grow from primitive fortifications and tents to a thriving village. She reluctantly leads the town in good humor since few in the village wish to see her step down. 

Defense: Dalenite troops patrol the roads to Morwynn, though most of the protection is left to the village inhabitants. 100 militia members can be mustered from the village (use stat blocks for tribal warriors) as well as 25 scouts.

Commerce: Members of Morwynn fish the Twin lakes as well as the coast, but the main reason the village remains on the map is due to the impressively tall giantwood forest to the east. Through Tezerathil’s guidance, loggers take only trees she has marked for lumber, though pressure from Tor Dalen demands they increase production. 

Organizations: A majority of the populace belong to the Logger’s guild, situated on the outskirts of the forest within a modest assembly hall. Most villagers pray to Silvanus, though no formal shrine resides within the village walls.

Morwynn is a relatively young settlement, all things considered. Around 100 years prior the water levels of the Twins receded, creating a landbridge for easier access to the giantwood forest. A small settlement soon sprang up, filled with people determined to utilize the sought-after resource. The village provides lumber for Tor Dalen’s buildings and navy, though Baron Tassar recently demanded the output increased tenfold, causing tensions to rise between cities. 

Morwynn adventures

A Gift for the old gods (Low Level). Each season the village makes an offering to Silvanus and delivers it in the center of the forest. This year, Tezerathil decides to hire adventurers to accompany the offering’s envoy and see that they come to no harm on the trip, as she has visions of dark beings attempting to stop the offering.

The Twins

The naturally salty lakes referred to as “the Twins” is a food source staple for the inhabitants of Morwynn. A handful of boats from the village fish the waters consistently, and occasionally a pleasure boat belonging to Tor Dalen nobles can be seen.

The Twins adventures

Eight heads, eight tentacles (Mid Level). The Twins house an awakened giant octopus that is stuck within the lakes due to the waters receding years ago. Recently, a hydra entered the lake and aggressively hunts the octopus when it can. The octopus asks the adventurers to slay the hydra or find a way to get it safely to the ocean. 

Giantwood Forest

To the east of Morwynn lies the impressive Giantwood forest: massive evergreen trees that rise  over 200 feet with wood as tough as steel. A single felled tree provides enough lumber to build over 100 homes. In the past, the forest was protected by a circle of druids, and an accord was reached with the nobility of Tor Dalen to reduce overcutting. Most recently Baron Tassar the VI demands more lumber to build a navy, straining relations and threatening the forest. The forest is home to a host of wildlife, including a small tribe of firbolg.

Giantwood Forest adventures

LA speaker for the trees (any level). A large clan of orcs invade the forest from the north and set up camp within the trees. They take what they want from the woods to aid them in battle against rival clans, with little consideration for the current inhabitants. An ancient awakened giantwood tree propositions the adventurers to convince the orcs to leave the woods peacefully or by force.

This was a lot of fun, and with #Maptober coming up pretty soon (make sure you’re following us on Instagram!), I might be doing this kind of thing more often. We hope you enjoyed these encounter ideas for your ttrpg world map, and would love to know if you use any of them! If you missed any of the other posts in our DM’s Guide to Everything series, be sure to check them out:

Thanks for dropping by! We would love to know how your first gaming session goes, so please drop a comment here on the blog, on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Discord to let us know how it went! If you’d like access to more maps and content, including downloadable PDFs of our adventures, check out our Patreon. We’re able to do what we do because of all our amazing Patrons!

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