There’s always a chance that a party makes a decision so unexpected that even experienced DMs need to stop to figure out what’ll happen next. In the event of total DM brain melt, I always keep a small collection of random D&D encounter ideas to fill in the blanks. So for today, I’m happy to share these ten Random D&D encounter ideas in case your party decides to take the unplanned path!
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Ten Random D&D encounter ideas
- The trees around a small hamlet begin to form fearsome-looking faces. While initially harmless, small animals and eventually children begin to disappear. An evil druid and their dryad companions want the land the hamlet resides on, and will do anything to take it.
- Rain falls from the sky on a sunny day which burns unprotected skin! This dangerous squall continues off and on for thirty minutes, causing creatures to make a DC 14 Con save to resist the rain unless cover is found. An apprentice mage is experimenting with elemental forces nearby and is unaware of the damage they’re causing.
- A passing beggar asks for unusual trinkets instead of money or food. They are a young silver dragon under a curse that prevents them from changing back into their original form, as well as forbids them from asking for help. The dragon hopes to find a curio that will help break the spell.
- A bookseller in town is having a one-day-only auction on antique books, one of which contains a particularly powerful enchantment. An assassin wishes to purchase the book legally at the auction, but will take deadly steps to obtain it if opposed.
- Two goblin children argue and tumble out of a nearby bush. They stop fighting as they realize they are separated from their tribe, and plead with the adventurers to help them find their way back home. The children constantly bicker among themselves and draw attention from all kinds of nearby monsters.
- A trio of semi-intelligent scarecrows stalk the inhabitants of a small farming commune, attacking anyone that leaves their home after nightfall. The residents try to send for help, but the scarecrows slay anyone who comes to aid. A teenage boy unwittingly controls the monsters, as they act out through his fears and emotions.
- A scared and very confused minotaur appears in the space in front of the adventurers. It pleads with them to help it return to its labyrinth a far distance away. In return it promises to lead them to its treasure once they arrive.
- The adventurers happen upon a weary and wounded band of soldiers returning from a nearby skirmish. The captain (veteran) claims that they were ambushed recently, and could use the extra help to see them to their next post. He offers the party a generous stipend to travel with the wounded soldiers and help fight against their foes.
- Gray mist flows over the ground, causing ethereal skeletons to rise from the earth en masse. The undead attack is unending, and the only defensible location is a small wooden cabin nearby. The adventurers must take shelter and survive the night.
- The ground opens up beneath the feet of the adventurers, dropping them thirty feet into a lost and buried dwarven ruins. The ruins stretch further underground some distance into what was once a manor home. A pack of basilisks live within, as well as an untouched collection of dwarven treasure surrounded by life-like statues.
It may be a quick one, but I hope you might find some use with these random D&D encounter ideas! I love coming up with little encounter snippets like these, so be on the lookout for more soon. Please let us know in the comments if you’d like to see encounters taking place in specific areas, like the Nine Hells or the Underdark. You can also drop a comment on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Discord ! If you’d like access to 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!