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Interesting Forest Encounters - A Random Table

Updated: Jun 13, 2023

We've all been there as DMs, right? You are running a game and the players decide they want to go off the rails and start traveling all over the map. It can be tough on the fly to find creatures for them to face, or events that happen while they're wandering. There are charts that exist out there already, for sure, but with this list you just need to roll 1d20 to get an interesting result and you're good to go. Why go anywhere else when we've got you covered? Here are 20 random forest encounters and even possibly plot hooks for your D&D game (or other fantasy TTRPG with a few tweaks of your choosing).

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  1. Walking through the forest, the characters hear screams emanating from not too far ahead. If they investigate the noises, they come to a clearing where lumberjacks/loggers are facing off against an angry Treant. In fact, one of the loggers are thrown toward the players and lands at their feet while the Treant animates two other trees nearby. The loggers were trying to take trees for a local magistrate who won't take no for an answer, and the Treant is defending its territory.

  2. The characters come across a cozy looking grove that seems an ideal place to make camp for the day. A cold, refreshing stream runs through it, and the ground is flat and soft, and the tree boughs overhead provide shade. If any of the characters fall asleep in the grove, they wake up Polymorphed into a forest animal of the DMs choice - a prank by some fey creatures. Laughter can be heard from the surrounding trees as the players wake up, groggy, and Polymorphed. The spell lasts for 24 hours rather than the traditional 1 hour as the Grove itself is enchanted.

  3. As the party traverses through the forest, they hear a voice call out to them in Elvish via telepathy. Soon, they discover a very wounded Unicorn named Astrid with a massive gash in her side, who informs the party that there are poachers nearby hunting her. She would be forever grateful for any help the PCs could provide and tells the party everything that she knows about the poachers and their leader, a very powerful half-orc barbarian named Gromm Bloodaxe and 1d4+2 bandits.

  4. A section of forest the PCs are walking through is haunted by a vengeful banshee and has become twisted and gnarled. The banshee was once an Elven druid by the name of Lirelara Windwhisper and she devoted her life to protecting the forest. However, one day she stood in the way of some loggers and was slain. The loggers took her pendant, an amulet of health, after she died. The PCs can either battle her and/or keep her pendant or help bring her pendant back to her body which lies near to where the PCs encounter her. The amulet is at the remnants of a logging camp a few miles north. An owlbear attacked the loggers and they fled camp, leaving the amulet behind. If the PCs return the amulet to Lirelara's body and hold a ritual of their own, she will finally be at peace and the forest will regain its vigor and greenery almost immediately, before the PCs eyes.

  5. The PCs discover a hidden entrance to an ancient Elven ruin, but a Treant and 1d4 of its fellows, guard the entrance. Inside glitters great treasure, but it's an illusion created with the spell major image by Zarakar, an evil genie known as an efreeti, who was magically trapped inside the ruin by the fleeing elves. The treants have been guarding the entrance for years to keep the efreeti from escaping. Efreet are cunning and haughty and despise being trapped, and it is eager to get some vengeance against the elves that have imprisoned it. If the players venture inside, Zarakar will appear as a weakened and chained efreeti who will try to manipulate them into removing a particular artifact from the ruin, which will then free him and reveal his towering, 10' tall form.

  6. The party stumbles upon an evil artifact or statue (of the DMs choice) that, when handled, creates a portal. Emerging from the portal are characters from another dimension who are the same in almost every way to the PCs except their alignments are opposite and they act accordingly. They wish to kill the players and assume their spots in the PCs world.

  7. The characters stumble upon a druid circle, meant to cleanse the surrounding forest of corruption. However, as the players watch on in awe, the druid circle comes under attack by 1d6+3 vine blights and 1d4+1 needle blights. The PCs can choose to help defend the druid circle or watch as the druids are attacked.

  8. A dryad scopes out and tries to charm one of the players with the highest charisma scores, and comes to them one-on-one, using its charm and beauty to try to convince the player that the party should help return a magical acorn that was stolen by another adventuring party who passed through the day before. The acorn is necessary to keep the dryad's tree from dying or aging. The party in question consists of 1d6+1 adventurers and can consist of any classes or levels at the DMs discretion. If the players realize she's trying to charm them, she resorts to begging and pleading. Her tree has begun to age rapidly in the absence of the unicorn, which must be placed inside the hollow of the tree.

  9. As the players set up camp, they are visited by a pixie named Faelea Whispertwig, from the Feywild, who has been watching them for the past day or two and has decided they are good people. She challenges the party to a game of riddles. If they succeed, they gain Faelea's favor and will be told about to other pixies in the area, and Faelea will also gift the players each with a magic trinket from the table on page 54 of the PHB (or whatever the DM wishes - perhaps a small music box, or a pendant that has minor illusory effects). Faelea loves to see their minds working and will tease them with good-natured jabs. A good resource for riddles is one I've found HERE

  10. A pack of 1d6 +1 Dire Wolves have been trailing the PCs through the forest. When the PCs settle down for lunch or to camp, the wolves sneak attack the weakest among them.

  11. The party stumbles upon a wounded Treant who warns them that a powerful demon has corrupted a large swath of the forest ahead. This demon is an Oinoloth named Malgazar, who wishes to open a portal to the lower planes and unleash his allies on the countryside, triggering a war that will blight the land for years to come. At his disposal are diseased treants, blighted wolves, blights, and other creatures to impede the players should they wish to interfere.

  12. The party stumbles upon a hidden druidic library, packed with tomes on various magical studies, nature studies, maps, monster studies, medical studies, and more. Each player has a DC 15 difficulty for a perception check to discover a useful book related to a skill they want to become proficient in that is one of the following: Animal Handling, Arcana, History, Medicine, Nature, Religion, Survival. Once the players have the books, they must make a DC 15 comprehension check using their Intelligence and then they can spend six months reading the books and devoting 6 hours per week to become fully proficient in the skill, less time if they have a teacher at 3 months. If the players are already proficient in the skill, they get a +1 to future checks after taking a week to read and digest the book and apply 4 hours to practicing the new facet of their skill. The players can exchange books but must make a comprehension check with each book. If a book has already been read, then it gives no further bonus. DMs are encouraged to come up with plausible book titles and bookj descriptions somehow to make the player want to hang onto and read the books.

  13. The characters stumble upon a group of sleeping satyrs. If any of the players venture near the group, they can see two male (Thalric and Bromir) and two female (Lyra and Elara) satyrs, and they will not wake up no matter what the players do. This is because a group of pixies, tired of the satyrs and their nightly revelry, decided to teach them a lesson and cast a powerful sleep spell. The satyrs have been asleep a very long time, and now some of the pixies feel a bit guilty. As the PCs investigate, a small group of pixies led by Willowbelle inform the PCs that if they want to wake up the satyrs, they need only gather some ingredients for Willowbelle and she will craft a potion to give to the satyrs. If the players go along with it, they need to get morning dew from the petals of a rare flower called The Stardew Blossom, petals from a Moonlily, and nectar from a flower called Enchanter's Bane. If the PCs find all these things, they will be rewarded by the Satyrs.

  14. The players are offered sanctuary, meals, drink, and company by a group of friendly centaurs called The Silverwind Clan during a particularly bad storm as the PCs travel. Galen Windrider, the Silverwind Clan's most capable warrior is out on patrol with 1d4 other centaurs and helps the PCs defeat an enemy or just finds them struggling while they're traveling and offers them sanctuary. When the PCs arrive, they are treated to a feast, some trading, and otherwise amazing hospitality. Seraphina Greensong is the tribe's spiritual leader and healer. Thalorin Swiftstride is the clan's chieftain. As the players leave the company of the centaurs eventually, they walk a few miles and stumble across an evil half-elf sorcerer named Lord Draven Darkthorn and his well-equipped retinue. The PCs either overhear him talking to his subordinates (he has 2d12 + 5 bandits with him) or he tries to enlist their aid, but his goal is to raid The Silverwind Clan's village and subjugate them. If the players defeat Draven or flee back to the village and warn The Silverwind Clan, they will be made honorary members of the clan, and will be given license to live among them permanently if they wish.

  15. As the players are traversing through the forest, they are encircled by a group of deer who make frantic gestures to the players. Then, the players begin to hear whispers about an amulet being stolen from a nearby village. They keep hearing the name "Morgath". Morgath is an evil elf druid who stole a magic artifact called The Amulet of Verdant Harmony. The amulet grants resistance to poison, disease, weather, and other natural phenomena as well as allowing the wearer to cast speak with animals once per day, and finally the ability to cast cure minor wounds twice per day. The players can either ignore the whisperings and animals, or they can try to find Morgath, who is only a couple miles away. Then, the players can either keep the amulet or try to return it to a nearby town for a reward.

  16. The party comes across a wounded owlbear cub. This can be taken several different ways, but one is that the owlbear's mother is dead and it is now alone and the players can adopt it, give it a name, etc. The other is that the owlbear cub's mom is very much alive and will very much be angry with the PCs and attack until she gets her cub back. It's up to the DM.

  17. The players stumble upon a wood elf ranger named Arranis Aldaviel who is investigating a section of forest that seems to be cursed. The plants are growing at an alarming rate and to enormous lengths and sizes. If it keeps growing, it's going to disrupt the ecosystem in place and drive lots of forest creatures away from that section of forest. Several nearby towns depend on the forest for various things, and it will endanger the balance between civilization and nature. Arranis asks the players to help him discover a way to lift the curse.

  18. An unearthly fog picks up as the players traverse through the forest. Little do they know that a Displacer Beast has set its sights on them and is waiting for the right moment to attack. The beast will strike the least-heavily armored character and because of the fog, gains one bonus sneak attack on the players.

  19. A flock of territorial griffons has claimed the forest as their hunting grounds. 1d4+2 griffons begin circling the party, viewing them as prey.

  20. The party stumbles upon a section of the forest they must pass through that is home to a great many giant spiders. Every hour, roll a random encounter die and if the result is an encounter, a swarm of 1d8+2 giant spiders has trailed the party and now attacks.

Well, there are 20 encounters and even possible plot hooks to add into your existing tables, or to use as its own table. Let us know how you use these encounters in the comments below, and maybe if people like this post we'll try out other terrain types. - Joe

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Steve Vander Ark
Steve Vander Ark
Jul 04, 2023

Wonderful suggestions! I love the stories of each encounter. These are so much better than just "You meet d6 Kobolds."

Joseph Carro
Joseph Carro
Oct 16, 2023
Replying to

We appreciate the comment, Steve! My reply is a bit late but it's always nice to hear good feedback on posts like these. We want to keep making stuff you guys like!

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