30 Mountain Encounters
Far over the misty mountains cold, To dungeons deep and caverns old,
We must away ere break of day, to find our long forgotten gold
There is a loud cracking sound and an avalanche of snow comes down on the PCs, who must make a skill check to avoid being swept along in the snow. For those who are caught up in it, they must make a second skill check, with a critical failure meaning they are buried in the snow and in danger of choking to death. (In real life avalanches are far more deadly then this, but PCs are unlikely to welcome something that gets most or all of them killed or badly injured.)
A large mountain goat is seen. How it treats the PCs depends on how they treat it. If they give it respect, it won't hurt them, but if they try and kill or hurt it or annoy it, it will prove a formidable foe that on a critical hit knocks a PC right off the mountain path. Unless he or she is roped to the other PCs or has a spell or item that allows flying or teleportation, the results of the fall are likely to be deadly or at least will take a lot of hit points off the PC.
Fog descends on the PCs. As they can't see far in any direction, they are in danger of falling off the mountain, or of having brigands or Undead of some kind sneak up on them in the fog and get a free strike in when they attack. Torchlight or magical were-light will make it much easier to see in the fog.
A thunderstorm pours rain down on the PC's, chilling them, putting out any non-magical torches they are carrying, making the path slippery and dangerous, and perhaps giving one of the PCs a cold, as well as the danger of bolts of random lightning coming down at them. Small mountain streams rapidly become dangerous torrents of water that are hard to cross. On the plus side they can unscrew their water bottles and get water with ease, and wash their wounds.
A small bolder, dislodged either by accident or malice, comes bouncing down on the PCs, who may choose to either make a skill or luck roll to avoid it (but not both.) A failure means it does 2 D6 worth of HP damage to the PC or PCs that it hits. Ow. Painful.
The PCs find a small unrobbed tomb with Funeral Gold and Grave Silver inside and a plaque outside with the name of the deceased and the birth and death dates. PCs being PCs they will most likely break in and uncover an Undead of Medium to Strong levels. If they defeat it, they find one of Yet More Magic Swords some coins, a thick silver chain, some rather decomposed clothing, and a few other low to medium value grave goods chosen by the GM. Tutankhamen's tomb it is not, but there should be enough of value to make the loss of HP from fighting the Undead worth it.
7-sword in stone
A sword is found embedded in a block of stone and a successful strength roll from the PCs will free it. It is up to the GM if the sword is magical or not. Cruel GM's could have the sword be cursed (see 30 Inferior Swords ) or even set off a booby trap as a warning to be careful about what one touches when on a quest.
The PCs find a large gang of 30 Brigands sharing out their loot. Whilst they are likely to attack the PCs on sight, this need not be that way if the GM does not want it that way. If the PCs do slay the gang, they will find over five hundred gold pieces (or whatever currency exists in your game world) at least two of Yet More Magic Swords some jewels and a spell book with mid-level spells in it. If the GM also wants it they could also find the bound and gagged damsel in #9 and decide what to do with her. If the PCs and Brigands end up talking and stay on friendly terms, the Brigands might know where a McGuffin is that the PCs are looking for.
9-Bound and gagged damsel
A noble looking lady is bound to a rock pillar and securely gagged. The PCs can either leave her there, ungag her, or untie and ungag her. If they just ungag her she starts complaining that they did not come sooner. If questioned she admits that she is trying to spoil a wedding in a village a few miles away as she is in love with the groom, and promises to pay the PCs once she gets home, if they will let her go free and break up the wedding with her. The PCs must decide if they will do that, will let her free but not otherwise help her, or will re gag her and leave her there, as she is surely going to be set free when the wedding is safely over.
The PCs find 3D6 cult members up in the mountains. Perhaps it is a harmless hippy cult, or a cult whose members all cheat on their taxes and is just here to escape persecution by the established Church and the secular authorities, or at the other end of the scale it could be a highly dangerous and aggressive cult like The Cultus of Vautu that is a genuinely serious threat to society in general and the PCs in particular.
The PCs find a quiet, pleasant-looking hotel up in the mountains that is not that expensive for a night's stay. If they pay for a night it is up to the GM if they just have a nice HP-restoring sleep at the hotel of if there is some sort of skullduggery going on that the PCs need to deal with. If they just decide to rob the place a few fierce dogs, a patron or two and the innkeeper will fight them, and in the fight, the innkeeper calls down a random curse from one of 30 Curses or 7 Horrifying Curses which will affect one of the PCs until a cure is found, which will be one of 30 Legendary Antidotes/Cures and need a sub-quest of it's own. If they do rob the place, over fifty gold pieces (or the equivalent in the world's currency) will be found in the till and on the bodies.
The PCs find they have to descend via cable car. It is safe to use but will be scary as the wind lightly shakes the cable car from side to side.Not every encounter has to be a hack and slash one.
A rickety rope bridge is the only way across a thirty foot chasm with a river down below. To cross it the PCs must test their luck. A failure makes a floorboard snap and a weapon or item is dropped by mistake into the river. A critical failure means the PC falls into the river, takes 2 D6 HP damage and gets soaked, and has to test their skill to swim out of the river. A critical failure here means that to survive and get out safely the PC must take off their their backpack and it and everything inside it sinks out of reach in the deep water.
A fall of slippery scree has blocked the patch and needs a skill check to get over, with a critical failure resulting in a sprained ankle and the PC needing to be helped along for the rest of the day by the other PCs. A few hours rest will allow the PC to walk again.
The PCs find a gibbet with two cages hanging in it. In one cage is a decomposing body that stinks, with an emaciated man in the other cage who begs to be rescued claiming to be innocent, when in fact he is a notorious thief who was gibbeted after several lesser penalties such as whipping or some jail time failed. If set free, at the first chance he gets he will steal a PCs backpack and everything inside it and vanish. Not everyone in a gibbet cage deserves freedom and another chance at life
The PCs find a small mountain village, with 1000 or so peaceful inhabitants, many houses, a hotel, shops selling food, swords, clothes, etc, a noble's house and a church at which a wedding is taking place. If the PCs rescued the bound and gagged girl and agreed to help her, they and her will disrupt the wedding with swordplay if necessary, reducing the bride to tears as her expensive wedding has been ruined. When the PCs enter the village they start with a score of 0. Buying things will gain a +1 or a +2 bonus. Interesting tales and songs in the inn or helping someone who is ill also gets a +1 or +2 bonus. Ruining the wedding will give them a -3 penalty whilst trying to rob or steal from anyone will get a -4 and being drunk, unpleasant or littering will get them a -2. If their reputation goes below an 0, the village will form a militia and chase them out of town with us much violence as necessary. If they help the damsel she gives each PC 10 gold pieces or the equivalent in the world's currency.
The PCs find a pall of smoke coming out of a nearby cave and discover a huge Dragon asleep on a hoard of treasure. If they creep past and steal nothing they can go on their way, but if they try and steal each PC must make a skill test per handful of gold or item stolen. A failure wakes the dragon. If they fight it, the dragon has 100s of HP and breaths fire and the fight will be truly epic. If they slay it and the Wyrm Worms that erupt from it's dead body, the hoard is too big to take away all at once, and the PCs will have 27/30 Bad Things about Treasure to deal with. If they run, they must make a skill check, a failure will lead to the PC or PCs being snapped up and eaten. If they talk to the dragon, it will let them keep what they have taken but force them to go on a sub-quest to help it as payment, keeping one of the PCs behind as a hostage to make sure that they carry it out.
The PCs come across a waterfall and have to pass underneath it with care, as slipping off the path will probably have fatal results. Roping themselves together is recommended for safety.
The PCs meet some other adventures, who might be friendly and helpful or anything but depending on the GM.
The PCs have come across a military patrol and again, it's reactions could very from offering some help through neutrality to hostility to attacking them on sight. If the area is a closed military zone, the soldiers will not be happy to see the PCs. If the PCs fight and kill the soldiers, other soldiers in large numbers will soon be looking for them.
The PCs come across a military checkpoint, that may just be there to collect a toll from all who pass through or it may be forbidding all forward movement. The PCs have several ways forward. If it is a toll gate paying the toll will be the legal and easiest way forward. If it is blocking the route, the PCs can trey and bluff their way through, bribe their way through, attack and force their way through, try and sneak around it by climbing a nearby mountain ridge, or go back and try and find another way forward.
The PCs come across a monastery. If they are peaceful, the monks will be peaceful too and perhaps offer valuable knowledge of the way ahead, but if they decide to raid the place, the seemingly helpless monks will have superb unarmed combat skills and will be happy to use them on the PCs. And there are over a hundred monks living there and little or no treasure, except a jeweled idol that will trigger a curse from the God or Goddess that the monks pray to if it is stolen.
The PCs find someone playing a banjo. He might be just light comedy relief, and harmless, or he might be a mage of renown who can defend himself well if attacked, or a lookout for a large aggressive family that likes to rob, murder and eat travelers, in which case he uses his banjo as a covert signaling device to alert the others that there is food to be found.
The PCs find a gold mine in working order that has large numbers of miners in it. If they try and rob it, there will be too many miners for them to defeat and they will be chased for miles by a lynch mob. But if they pay for a claim and spend enough time digging or have useful items to sell to the miners they can get their hands on some genuine gold nuggets or gold dust. The further they get out of the area without spending it, the more the gold nuggets/gold dust will be worth, as the large amount of gold in the area has distorted the local economy.
The PCs come across a small mental asylum and one or more of the patients in the exercise yard there claims to be sane and begs them for help. If they do help and slay the guards and one or more genuinely dangerously insane patients there, it may be that the sane were being wrongly held, or they may have released a psychopath who just seems sane and will be a potent threat to them later. If they want to set someone free but don't want to kill anyone, a big enough bribe will work as the guards are poorly paid.
The PCs come across a small castle and if they set free someone from the mental asylum earlier he or she will claim it is his/hers and their evil brother stole it from them. If they trick their way or somehow sneak into the castle, and overpower the brother and his guards they will be rewarded heavily (the GM can decide what they get but it will be big to make the sub-quest worth it.)
27-spring of water
The PCs come across a cool refreshing spring of water. Cruel GMs can put hidden a dead sheep or goat in it somewhere high above, infecting the water with nasty bacteria to hurt the PCs if they don't take the precaution of boiling the water first before they drink it.
The PCs find a huge number of gold nuggets but in fact they are fool's gold and a waste of space to take along, as they will soon find out if/when they try and spend them later.
The PCs find the cave of a dragon that is dead-long dead. All that remains is a single gold piece from the dragon's hoard that was somehow overlooked by all the earlier plunderers, a few large old bones that may be of some value to mages and doctors, a dragon scale or two, and The Blackened Skull of the dragon, hacked about by mages and souvenir hunters that found it long ago.
The PCs come to an area that has the possibly ear-shattering peril of Unknown Death in it and must proceed with caution.
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? Responses (6)
While not the best, this is certainly one of your better 30s. I like the links to old subs (being a Weaver) and I also like that some of the entries tie up with each other.
4/5 ditto moon
Hi ho Hi ho, up the mountain we go!
Some good ones here that make perfect sense! (rope bridges, waterfalls, avalanches, mines, tombs, etc) but I would change up a few such as 'other adventurers' (who can be found anywhere) and banjo player (same) to more bring out the 'mountain theme' of the submission, and adjust some of the others for the same reason. Maybe the 'brigands', are experts at rappelling for example, and attack the PCs from above as they crest a narrow mountain path.
I enjoyed reading this, I think I have personally used at least half of these in my young gaming days.
You were once a young gamer? :P