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Random Terrain Features for the Natural World


I thought this was fun.

Random Terrain Features of the Natural World
Number of Features: 1d4
Placement (if required): 1d8 (1 - n, 2 - ne, etc.)
Level: Some features specify a level. Use the level of the environment or roll 1d8+1. Don't use the PC's level.

2d6 Feature
2 Circle (Stone)
3 Ruins, Walls
4 Animal Trap
5 Boulder
6 Stream
7 Hill
8 River
9 Ditch (1-3) or Hedgerow (4-6)
10 Grab Grass
11 Pool
12 Random encounter

2d6 Feature
2 Circle (Fey)
3 Hunting Blind
4 Animal Trap
5 Boulder
6 Stream
7 Hill
8 River
9 Massive Tree
10 Rope Bridge in Trees
11 Mushroom Ring
12 Random Encounter

2d6 Feature
2 Stone Altar
3 Ruined Wall (Dwarven)
4 Cliffs
5 Cave, Shallow (1-3) or Narrow (4-6)
6 Stream, Mountain
7 Rubble/Scree
8 River, Mountain
9 Waterfall
10 Chasm/Gorge
11 Loadstone
12 Random Encounter

2d6 Feature
2 Barrow Mound
3 Ruined Watchtower
4 Cave, Shallow
5 Cliffs
6 Stream
7 Trees
8 River
9 Bramble
10 Boulder
11 Fog, Heavy
12 Random Encounter

2d6 Feature
2 Witch's Circle
3 Decaying House on Stilts
4 Reeds
5 Massive Tree
6 Quicksand
7 Bog
8 Strong Current
9 Boulder
10 Poison
11 Drowning Vines
12 Random Encounter

2d6 Feature
2 Djinn Portal
3 Cliffs
4 Rubble/Scree
5 Boulder
6 Whirlwind
7 Dunes
8 Sinkhole
9 Slipsand
10 Ankheg
11 Oasis
12 Random Encounter
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Feature Definitions:

  • Altar, Stone
    A stone altar. Characters who use the Primal power source gain a +2 bonus to attacks when
    in line of sight of the altar. When standing before the altar, characters who use the Arcane
    power source gain this bonus; Primal characters, however, can tap into a more ancient source
    of power. They gain access to the following power:
    Stone of the Earth At-Will Terrain Power
    Standard Action Ranged 10
    Requirement: You must use the Primal power source.
    Target: One creature
    Attack: Wis or Con vs. Fort
    Hit: High Limited Damage + Wis or Con mod and the target is immobilized (save
    ends). First failed save: the target is stunned. Second failed save:
    the target is petrified (no save).
    Special: Each time you use this power, make the same attack against your Will
    defense. On a hit, you suffer a curse, becoming an earth elemental in
    1d4 days.
    The level of the curse is your level +5.
    1d6	Purpose			Effect
    1	Sacrifice		Add level of victim to your own when determining
    				what rituals you may cast, as well as any checks 
    				the ritual requires; or 100xvictim's level in 
    					ritual components
    2	Unfathomable		Not even the gods can say
    3	Primal Commune		Commune with an elemental spirit, as Speak with 
    4	Summoning Stone		Summons a Dust Devil who serves as a loyal 
    				companion; requires gems to be smashed to powder
    				on the altar.
    				DC to summon and gems required are based on the 
    				level of the Dust Devil; gp value of gems = 1/2 
    				total monetary treasure parcels of that level.
    5	Martyr's Monument	see DMG2 pg 60
    6	Trapped Spirit		Answers one question per day
  • Animal Traps
    1d6	Trap
    1-2	Pit, depth Lvl/2x10'; 50% spiked, atk lvl + 3 v AC, mod norm dmg
    3-4	Snare: atk Lvl + 3 v R, grabbed, escape DC lvl + 15
    5-6	Bear Trap: atk Lvl + 3 v R, low norm dmg, restrained, escape DC lvl + 15,
    	disarm DC Mod
  • Ankheg
    An Ankheg burrowed into the sand, waiting to attack anything that comes near. DC 19 to locate
    its attack zone (burst 5). Any creature it attacks it pulls down into its burrow and feeds it
    to its 2d6 ankheg broodlings. The ankheg will not leave its burrow.
    No XP for the ankheg or its broodlings.
  • Barrow Mound
    A large hill (40x40) with a sealed stone slab, strong in necrotic energy. Any creature that
    dies within 1 square of the hill rises the next round as a wraith. Counts as necrotic ground
    (see DMG2, pg 60).
    Characters who can tap into the necrotic power may channel the energy and make a special
    Ranged 10 * Necrotic
    Requirements: Trained in Religion
    Attack: Wis or Cha +2 vs. Fort
    Hit: Low limited dmg & weakened.
    Effect: You lose 1 healing surge; if you have no healing surges left, you take
    your healing surge value in damage.
    Special: Any character killed by this attack (including you) rises the next
    round as a free-willed wraith.
    Horrors and treasures may lie within the barrow mound if the PCs wish (and are able) to
    enter the mound. The stone slab blocking the entrance has a break DC of 23 (requires a STR
    of at least 20 to attempt a check, 25 without a tool), AC/Ref of 5, Fort of 10, and 40 HP.
    Only picks and hammers and other such tools can be used to break through.
    Barrow Mound Contents
    1d6	Horror			Treasure*			Curse?
    1	Vampire Mage		794 gp, 52 sp, 80 cp 		Yes
    				+ 2 sapphire gems (1000 gp each)
    2	2 Death Kin Skeletons	495 gp, 40 sp, 100 cp 		Yes
    				+ 2 emerald gems (1000 gp each)	
    3	Mummy Lord		290 gp, 92 sp, 80 cp 		Yes
    				+ 1 alexandrite (500 gp)		
    4	Human Lich		Wand of Shield +3		No
    5	Osteopede		Rod of Hope Triumphant +3	No
    6	Nothing			Nothing				Boon!
    * - In addition to a random treasure parcel of the horror's level
  • Bramble
    See Hedgerow. Covered in berries.
    1d6 	Type
    1 	Poisonous (DC 17 to identify, 1d4 available, as Ground Thassil Root)
    2-5 	Edible
    6 	Goodberries (DC 17 to identify, 1d4 available, as Healing Potion)
  • Boulder
    A large boulder. Area is Burst 1d2, height is 1d3x5'. Climb DC is 10. Boulders on slopes may
    be pushed (see DMG2, pg 63).
    25% of boulders have a cryptic message scrawled on them.
    Cryptic Message
    2d5	Language	Message
    2	Supernal	Directions to a treasure
    3	Deep Speech	Healing boon (gain 1 healing surge)
    4	Giant		Incorrect instructions for a ritual
    5	Common		Warning about nearby monster
    6	Dwarven		Roadsign of fallen kingdom
    7	Goblin		Graffiti
    8	Draconic	Directions to a nearby portal to:
    			the 1-3 shadowfell 4-6 feywild
    9	Primordial	Curse
    10	Abyssal		Ritual of Level 1d10
  • Bog
    A very old lake without inlet or outlet that becomes acid and is gradually overgrown with a
    characteristic vegetation. Covers an area of burst 1d4+2. Characters who step on a bog square
    are subject to an attack: level + 3 v Ref, movement ends and prone. Movement through a bog
    requires 3 squares of movement (or a swim speed).
    DC 15 to recognize the danger.
  • Cave, Narrow
    A narrow cave. Entrance is 10 feet wide. Main passage is 10 feet wide, extends 2d6x10 feet.
    1d4 side passages of 1d6x10 feet each, 5 feet wide. 25% chance of 30x30 cavern inside. See
    Cave, Shallow for cavern features.
  • Cave, Shallow
    A shallow cave. Entrance is 1d4x5 feet wide. Opens into a cavern 30x30 in area.
    1d6	Feature
    1	Pool
    2	Altar, Stone
    3	Circle, Stone
    4	Circle, Fey
    5	Cave Bear
    6	Empty
  • Chasm/Gorge
    A deep ravine that intersects the terrain. Depth is levelx10 feet. 50% chance of a river (see
    river, mountainous) running through it. Rivers reduce falling damage by 1/2.
  • Circle, Fey
    A fey circle, ususally mushrooms. 5' radius. Minor action to Teleport 5 (see DMG2, pg 61).
    Fey Circle
    1d6	Effect
    1	Portal to the Feywild (1-3 one way, 4-6 two way)
    2	DC 20 to summon 1-3 Lamia, 4-6 Briar Witch Dryad
    3	Speak with Nature ritual, 1d6 hours duration
    4	Atk level +3 vs Will, sleep 1d4 hours, wake with new ritual
    5	level x 100 gp worth of nature ritual components; 
    	DC 25 or destroys circle
    6	Commune with Nature ritual
  • Circle, Stone
    A circle of stones. Moderate DC to determine its use; Hard DC to use it. 50% are only usable
    during a certain time (solstice, equinox, midnight, noon, etc.).
    Stone Circle
    1d6	Power Source	Alignment	Effect
    1	Divine		Lawful Good	Summoning (50% no protection)
    2	Arcane		Good		Protection (keeps out)
    3	Arcane		Unaligned	Commune
    4	Primal		Unaligned	Sacrifical
    5	Primal		Evil		No effect; 
    					inscribed with important writings
    6	Primal		Chaotic Evil	Teleports
  • Circle, Witch's
    A ring of skulls or severed heads/hands dangling from sharpened stakes. There is a 25% chance
    that a rime-covered copper cauldron sits in the center.
    All witch's circles can perform some effect. In order for the effect to manifest, the
    foolhardy PC must place a cauldron (cannot be made of iron) into center of the circle, pour 16
    pints of fresh mortal blood and 16 pints of spoiled milk into the cauldron, bring it to a boil
    while mixing in 60gp x level of ritual components in. After stirring the mixture for 2 hours,
    the PC must make a Hard DC check. If any step was performed improperly or the check fails,
    the mixture congeals into a Bloodrot Ooze (Open Grave, pg174) which kicks the PC's asses (no
    XP award for that encounter).
    If the check is successful and all steps have been performed properly, the effect manifests.
    Determining the effect before the foul mixture is made is impossible; only half-way through
    the process can it be understood with a Moderate DC check.
    Witch's Circle
    1d6	Effect						Curse (atk level +3 v W)
    1	View Location lasting levelx10 minutes		Eyes rot and fall out
    2	Voice of Fate ritual				Ears rot off
    3	Control Weather	ritual				Tongue withers, falls out
    4	One subject gains a curse* (atk Cha +2 vs Will)	Mummy Rot
    5	Causes Plague (contagious disease in area)	Cackle Fever
    6	Potion of immortality**				Hand withers, falls off
    * - all sorts of curses, like in fairy tales
    ** - an artifact
    Curses imposed by the witch's circle are level 18.
  • Cliffs
    A steep high rock face. Length is 2d6x10 feet, height is 1d6x10 feet. 20% of cliffs are
    covered in vines. Climb DC is 20 without vines, DC 10 with vines. All vines allow for a
    garotte attack: atk str vs Fort, low norm dmg and restrained (until escape).
    Cliff Vines
    1d4	Vines		Effect When Climbed
    1	Normal		-
    2	Poisonous	Atk lvl+3 vs Fort, numbing sensation; 
    			-2 atk for 1d6 hours
    3	Songvine	Sings a nice tune
    4	Razorvine	Atk lvl+3 vs AC, mod norm dmg
    5*	Thirstvine	Atk 1d6+3 vs Fort, mod norm dmg and 1 healing surge;
    			-5 Endurance checks until you drink
    * Desert only
  • Ditch
    A ditch. 5' deep, provides cover, 1 extra square to leave.
  • Djinn Portal
    A portal to the City of Brass. One-way. DC 26 to activate it. 50% chance of 1d4 dust devils
    lairing at the entrance.
  • Dunes
    Sand dunes with a gentle slope rising 1d4x5 feet. Dune length is 2d6x10 feet.
  • Fog, Heavy
    Heavy fog covers the area in a 1d4+2 burst. The edges provide concealment, deeper in is total
    concealment. The fog can be dispersed with some kind of wind-generating power.
  • Grab Grass
    Covering burst 1d6+2 (see DMG).
  • Hedgerow
    Difficult terrain. Grants cover and concealment. 25% are needle hedges (see DMG2, pg 61).
  • Hill
    A hill. Area burst 1d6, slope 1d6 1-3 gentle, 4-6 cliffs (see Cliffs).
  • Hunting Blind
    An old hunting blind. Provides cover and concealment. 50% there is a hidden cache of love-
    letters here.
  • Loadstone
    As in the DMG.
  • Massive Tree
    A massive tree, burst 1d3 in area. Can be climbed with a DC 10 check. 25% chance it is
    protected by a 1-3 dryad 4-6 wood woad; combat in the area will attract the fey in 1d4 rounds.
  • Mushroom Ring
    A ring of mushrooms. Fey creatures who begin their turn in the ring gain a +2 bonus to Reflex
    and a +2 bonus to speed until the end of their next turn. Other creatures suffer an attack:
    Level +3 vs Will, uncontrollable dancing, grants combat advantage treat as immobilized (save
  • Oasis
    An area within a desert where the water table reaches the surface, with enough moisture to
    permit the growth of vegetation. 25% chance the water is poisonous. 25% chance the oasis is
    home to a 1-3 surly 4-6 jovial djinn, unable to leave.
  • Poison
    Poisonous plants grow in a burst 2 area. Enough grow here to collect 1d4 samples.
    1d4	Poison Type	Collect DC	Identify DC
    1	Black Lotus	26		22
    2	Insanity Mist	30		26
    3	Dark Toxin	25		21
    4	Thassil Root	21		17
  • Pool
    Covering burst 1d6+4. The shore is difficult terrain; deeper requires swimming and provides
    cover and concealment. Allows drowning attacks (see Stream).
  • Quicksand
    A bed of loose sand mixed with water forming a soft shifting mass that yields easily to
    pressure and tends to engulf any object resting on its surface. Spotting quicksand is a
    Moderate DC check; it usually covers a burst 2 area. Characters who enter a quicksand
    square are subject to the following attack: atk level + 3 vs Ref, restrained (until escape).
    Escape DC level + 15. Restrained characters gain cover against ranged attacks. If the
    character does not escape after two rounds, he will sink beneath the surface and begin
  • River
    1d6 squares wide. Characters who begin their turn in a river square are subject to an attack:
    atk level + 3 vs Fort, push 1/2 level squares. Allows drowning attacks (see Stream).
  • River, Mountain
    As River, but increase the attack by 2 and push by 1. Allows drowning attacks (see Stream).
  • Random encounter
    Attracted by noise; arrives in 1d4 rounds.
  • Reeds
    Tall reeds provide concealment. Burst 1d4+1 in area. 50% chance of blood midge cloud (see
    DMG2, pg 58).
  • Rope Bridge
    A rope bridge connects two trees. The bridge is considered difficult terrain (elves don't
  • Rubble/Scree
    Loose rock and gravel in a burst 1d4+1 area. Characters who move through rubble or scree
    squares must make a DC 10 check or fall prone, ending their movement.
  • Ruins
    • Dwarven Wall
      Well-made dwarven wall, complete with battlements. 1d10x10 feet in length, climb DC 15.
      Dwarves who fight with their back to the wall gain a +2 bonus to AC.
    • House on Stilts
      A house on stilts, 30x40, two rooms. 25% chance there is an abandoned infant
    • Watchtower
      A watchtower, half-ruined. Radius is 15'. 1d4 stories of 10' each. 50% are
      lived in. Climb DC 15 to reach higher levels and fire from arrow slits; stairs
      are a trap, and there is a 50% chance they will collapse if walked on (atk lvl +3
      v Ref).
      1d6	Inhabitant
      1	Parliament of ravens; Per +7, fly away if they spot someone
      2	Giant badger with 1d6x10gp; knows area well, can provide info
      3	1d4 Spitting Drakes
      4	Mad Hermit & Fey Panther
      5	Reclusive Gnome Skulk
      6	1d4 Deathjump Spiders and an Ettercap Webspinner
    • Walls
      1d10x10 feet in length, climb DC 10. Can be pushed over; see DMG2, pg 63.
  • Sinkhole
    Sinks into the ground. Perception DC 15 to notice. Characters who enter this square are
    subject to an attack: atk level + 3 vs Ref, 1d6 damage and restrained (escape DC level +20)
    and drowning. Miss: half damage and restrained (sv). Digging out a character requires a
    number of standard actions equal to the sinkhole's level.
  • Slipsand
    Loose sand that slides away underneath you. Covers the side of a slope. Characters who
    enter slipsand squares must make a DC 15 acrobatics check for each square of movement or
    fall prone and slide to the bottom of the slope.
  • Stream
    1d4 squares wide, difficult terrain, allows drowning attacks: Str vs Fort, Prone targets
    only, low normal damage, grabbed and dazed (save ends).
  • Stream, Mountain
    1d4 squares wide, difficult terrain. The current drags people along (as River). Allows
    drowning attacks (see Stream).
  • Strong Current
    A strong current in the swamp pulls people along (see River). Allows drowning attacks (see
    Stream). 25% chance there are carnivorous fish in the swamp (as Rat Swarm).
  • Vines, Drowning
    Vines near a source of water. They attempt to grab nearby creatures and drown them. Per DC
    Level + 15. Reach 2, atk level + 3 vs Fort, normal damage, prone and restrained until escape
    (DC level + 13)
  • Waterfall
    Width of 15-30' (1d4x5+10), height of 1d6x10 feet. Connected to River (1-4) or Stream (5-6).
    50% chance of Cave, Shallow behind the waterfall. The waterfall provides concealment in the
    mouth of the cave, and a -5 penalty to hear noises through it.
  • Whirlwind
    Burst 2 area, moves around the battlefield in a random direction at the start of each round.
    Roll 1d8 for direction, 1d6 for distance. Provides concealment, -2 penalty to ranged
    attacks made through it.
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Thanks. I've been planning to do this for a while, since it seemed like every encounter in the wilderness looked pretty much the same.

I tried to keep the strange things out on the edges of the bell curve so that they don't come up too often. Some of them are adventure hooks in themselves (like the Witch's Circle - I probably should have given that a specific level, but oh well).

There are stupid rolls for area and size and things like that, but like any random table, any roll can be ignored. Mostly it's a springboard for creativity.


I just realized that, while all those magic circles are cool, they don't have any effect on the encounter as it unfolds. I need to re-write it so they have some immediate impact.


Tables and charts... the bread and butter of DnD fan creations!
To be honest I usually never roll on them. I often peruse until I find a feature/item/event/NPC/effect whose flavor I find interesting and then add it to my story in some fashion.


I tend to roll over and over until I get something I like.

One value of tables and charts is in the ritual of rolling on it. It's not like the DM can't come up with some random thing whenever he wants (in fact, the entries in tables are often meant to spur creativity), but the fact that he is consulting a chart makes it more "official" somehow than something the DM just pulled out of his ass.

It's a way of communicating that the DM is being impartial in his rulings and creations.
Once in a while I roll on one if I am just feeling exceedingly stuck. It can be a way to give yourself a boot in the butt.

On the flip side too many charts can get to be a crutch. What I usually do is only make one or two small ones and cross stuff off every time I use it. Then you have to rewrite the chart pretty soon and it keeps things from getting stale.


I tend to roll over and over until I get something I like.

It's a way of communicating that the DM is being impartial in his rulings and creations.
To me it isn't just about being honest with the players, but being unbiased so that any strategies the PCs have get a chance. If one of them has water walk boots, then eventually there's going to be water in a combat if I am rolling randomly.