Desert encounters

A random encounter table for desert hex, journey or adventure.

The desert envisioned here is of the “saharan” variety, rather than something like the Arizona or central asian deserts. I am sure those types of environments also work – but a lot of stuff here kind of presupposes sand! Also, while making this table, I read this… rip my wallet, here I go buying another book.

Where was I? Right, random tables for a DM needing an encounter, pronto.

One of the main tropes of the desert is that things are not as they seem and that, much like in the jungle, locals will have an awareness for the environment that those who are traversing it for the first time will not have.

In these encounters, things are moving around the party, and the twists can be used to shift conditions during the encounter itself, to provoke dilemmas, tactical decisions, and puzzlement.

Roll 1d10 per column!

DiceEncounterAdditional twist
11d6 traders on camel. They are proceeding along a traditional route, and can navigate regardless of conditions. They mainly carry one of the following goods (roll 1d6): salt, books, boxes of gold dust, cloths, metal armors, ivory. One of the trader is fully covered in robes, and is in reality a noble woman escaping a rebellion.As the party arrives on site, a southern wind causes a small sand storm to begin to rise…
2A dune, shifting its position on its own. The dune is the back of an ancient sand giant, long asleep, but moving sometimes. Treading on the dune will awaken the giant.A hidden someone is following the party as they walk into the encounter and observing from a dune not far behind…
3A speckle in the distance will reveal the position of a sentinel and its sand lizard for a group of kobold bandits that intercepts travellers.After a brief period spent at the encounter place, the sand under the party will start opening up and swallowing whatever is in the area…
4A destroyed, abandoned caravan, half covered in sand. The main cart was carrying some sort of mummy (as can be deduced from some bandages) and was exploded from within. Some skeletons remain, but the rest has all but disappeared… Some part of the surroundings are illusions put in place to protect something within it.
5The remains of a stone tower, seemingly abandoned. The tower used to belong to a powerful yuan-ti war mage, who is now dormant in a clay jar. A stone golem guards the jar. A trap door hides the mage’s underground treasures..As the party continues in the encounter, the temperature keeps rising, to the point that metal becomes so hot that those wearing an armor will have to sustain exhaustion or damage.
6A scimitar is planted in the sand. Around it, a small oasis with water flourishes. Nobody is here at the moment. A warrior, blessed by the gods, died here a long time ago. The scimitar will talk with the voice of the warrior and attempt to assist the party on their journey. Taking the scimitar will consume the oasis and bring a curse onto the party.The encounter happens on the incline of steep dune. The party will be carefully stepping down as things are happening. Position and footing are crucial.
7Ahead of the party, a column of golems or other large monsters marches in line, carrying on their shoulders huge blocks of stone and columns for the construction of a grand temple. At the head and sides of the column, some troops monitor the situation.In the middle of the encounter, a giant scorpion rises from a hole in the sand.
8A circle ofhooded monks, impervious to the heart, chanting deep meditative drones. At the center of the circle is a tree, visibly growing, albeit slowly. The monks belong to the “order of life”. They seem dehydrated and about to die, and yet, the plant is flourishing…If the party is not on high ground, some creature or thing will begin rolling stones down a boulder towards the party…
9A pit of 1d6 mimetic snakes hides in the sand. They will attempt to pick off any animal carrying things or the last member of the party in the marching order.Another person is currently searching the area. He or she is a desert druid searching for an extremely rare petrified flower. The flower can be used to craft a potion to preserve life in a dehydrated body.
10An black lava cube lies at the center of a hexagon of obsydian dolmens. This site of worship was erected around the lava stone by the sand people, upon observing the stone falling from the sky. The stone can deform the perception of space around it, and put people in touch with creatures from other planes of existance…A scroll lies abandoned in the ground. It’s written in a strange language, but some figures seem to imply the presence of a dark force. Surely nothing to worry about?

Published by randomtableoftheweek

A D&D, OSR and other RPG enthusiast, who likes random tables.

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