D100 D&D River Encounters for 5e +

Looking for great D&D river encounters? I’ve got 100 below that should help you flesh out your fantasy adventure. We’ve got a lot of other fantasy encounters on the site, so be sure to bookmark us and check back often. I’m committed to offering a wealth of FREE tabletop RPG content generated with AI, so stay tuned for more.

D100 DND River Encounters

Welcome, intrepid explorers, to the rippling edges of fantasy where the waters whisper tales of mystery and danger. Rivers in Dungeons & Dragons are not merely serene backdrops or tranquil means of travel; they are living, breathing entities that hold secrets and challenges for those daring enough to navigate their currents. The “D100 DND River Encounters” is your guide to transforming these waterways into epic narratives and unexpected confrontations.

As your party sets out along the river’s edge or paddles through its winding course, let the current pull you into a world where each bend in the river promises new adventure. From the mystical to the malevolent, the creatures and characters you’ll encounter herein are as varied and vibrant as the realms you traverse. Whether it’s a chance meeting with a band of river pirates lying in wait or a mystical encounter with a naiad guarding a sacred spring, the possibilities are as endless as the river itself.

1) Upon approaching the corpse of an old man floating in the river, if players choose to investigate, the seemingly deceased figure suddenly springs to life, morphing into a powerful water elemental. The treacherous spirit lashes out in a vengeful rage, sparking a battle with the adventurers.

2) Beneath the surface of the river, an enigmatic swarm of creatures weaves an invisible web of terror. These beings—neither fully insect, plant, nor mineral—launch coordinated assaults on any who dare disturb the water, presenting a puzzling and dangerous mystery for the party to unravel.

3) As a group of desperate individuals struggles to swim across the rushing river, if the party lends a hand, these strangers reveal themselves as displaced citizens of a nearby land. Grateful for the aid, they pledge their skills and knowledge to assist the adventurers on their current quest.

4) Another band of swimmers, seemingly in need, betrays the party’s kindness once safely across. These charlatans feign weakness only to launch a surprise assault, forcing the characters into a confrontation that may lead to reluctant violence and unforeseen consequences.

5) Harry, a local charlatan, peddles a fraudulent underwater breathing potion along the riverbank. Unbeknownst to the unsuspecting, the concoction is a sham; any adventurer who ingests it risks a watery demise, challenging the party to either expose Harry or save an ally from his deceit.

6) A group of children, unaware of the danger, provoke a colossal turtle with their stone-throwing games. If the players do not intervene, the ancient creature’s patience wears thin, resulting in a fierce and possibly lethal confrontation with the aggravated beast.

7) A party of tomb raiders plunders a submerged crypt, fiercely guarding their illicit findings. Should the adventurers draw too close, the raiders attack to protect their treasure, offering a moral dilemma—halt their desecration, or join them and share in the spoils.

8) The river has turned a sinister shade of black, exuding an unholy stench. As a nearby village suffers under an attack by lizard men—kobolds transformed through dark wizardry—the players face a choice: defend the beleaguered townsfolk or profit from the chaos by looting the vulnerable village.

9) In terror, a group flees across the water from a rampaging dragon in hot pursuit. If the adventurers aid them, these refugees share knowledge of a hidden path or valuable treasure, significantly aiding the party in their ongoing quest.

10) Two elven fishermen, serene and focused, seek a precious lost necklace amidst the river’s flow. If the characters assist in recovering this sentimental artifact, the grateful elves reciprocate with a magical item from their own treasured collection.

11) A cadre of deft thieves hones their craft upon a dilapidated raft. Should the party approach unguardedly, these rogues attempt to lighten the adventurers’ coin purses with their slippery fingers, testing the party’s vigilance and security measures.

12) A boisterous company of dwarves jubilantly recounts tales from their recent mining venture. Joining their celebration might yield valuable information about mineral veins or hidden passages below the ground.

13) Several dwarven miners heatedly argue over the correct course for their next expedition. The adventurers may play diplomat or guide, solving the dispute and possibly earning a share of future mining profits or a sturdy dwarven artifact.

14) A troupe of elven herbalists forages by the river, their expertise in natural remedies unparalleled. Assisting them could result in gaining potent salves and potions or learning rare herbal lore.

15) A devout procession of dwarves bears an immense deity statue towards a distant temple. Should the party secure safe passage for these pilgrims, they may receive a divine blessing or a token of sacred power.

16) When encountering mystical elven maidens engaged in euphonious riverbank rituals, adventurers invited to join may discover themselves blessed with enchantments or gifted with ethereal relics should they partake in the harmonious dance.

17) Farmers gallop along the river, sowing seeds with steadfast determination. Lending a hand with their labor could earn the party a seasonal harvest bounty or the loyalty of local peasants grateful for the extra aid.

18) As matriarchal dwarven launderers merrily cleanse their garments in the river, they regale listeners with dwarf kings’ epic sagas. Engaging with their stories might lead to receiving a relic from the dwarves’ royal lineage or a secret from their past.

19) A band of hopeful settlers transports a treasure chest to purchase a new life in the city. Protecting them from banditry could reward players with monetary compensation or a lasting alliance with these determined pioneers.

20) An elder fisherman contends with an immense catch, struggling to reel it in. Aiding him not only provides a hearty meal but earns his cherished fishing rod, which may possess untold qualities bestowed by a life spent on the river.

21) A wandering bard sits by the river’s edge, his lute casting melodies into the gentle wind. His song tells of a cursed treasure hidden beneath the waves, guarded by spectral forces. Aiding him in breaking the curse could lead the party to untold riches or a haunting encounter.

22) An enigmatic druid kneels at the water’s edge, speaking softly to the river’s spirits. If the adventurers prove their respect for nature’s balance, the druid might share wisdom of the land or teach them a spell to purify tainted waters.

23) Children dart among the shallows, crafting a precarious dam of stones and mud. If the party assists in their architectural efforts or educates them about local ecosystems, the grateful kids offer hidden shortcuts or the location of a nearby secret glade.

24) A group of amateur alchemists tests potions by the riverside, with unintended environmental consequences. Persuading them to cease their experiments might save the river, and the alchemists could offer the adventurers their experimental concoctions as recompense.

25) A circle of cloaked figures conducts a ritual in a secluded river bend. If the adventurers choose to investigate, they might stumble upon a coven of witches who could become invaluable allies or deadly adversaries, depending on how the interaction unfolds.

26) A team of engineers is assembling an ingenious, water-powered contraption on the riverbank. Offering technical expertise or protection from saboteurs could grant the party access to cutting-edge technology or a prototype device for their travels.

27) A lone painter captures the river’s beauty on canvas, his work emitting a magical aura. Should the adventurers engage with him, he might offer to paint their portrait, which could somehow capture more than just their likeness.

28) A group of mercenaries wades through the water, practicing maneuvers. Observing their tactics or sparring with them might reveal weaknesses in their defense, providing strategic insight or earning the mercenaries’ grudging respect and camaraderie.

29) A solitary gravekeeper diligently tends to a riverside cemetery. Assisting him in maintaining the grounds or communing with the spirits might unearth ancient lore or garner the favor of ghosts who can grant cryptic guidance.

30) A duo of gnome inventors is testing a submarine vessel in the depths. Their eagerness to explore the underwater frontier is infectious, and helping solve their technical dilemmas might earn passage on their exploratory voyage or the rights to a cloned design.

31) A jubilant riverside gathering celebrates the fiery spectacle of the Fire Goddess Festival. Adventurers can partake in the revelry, with a chance to prove their mettle in dance contests or earn the goddess’s favor, and possibly a magical boon, with their enthusiastic participation.

32) A solemn ceremony unfolds as devout followers offer blood sacrifices to the Harvest Goddess. Intrigued players could intervene to either question the ethics of this ritual or partake and receive a blessing of bountiful harvests that could aid in future provisions.

33) A conflicted couple’s dispute catches the party’s attention. If players choose to meddle, they might untangle a tale of unrequited love or darker secrets, potentially gaining an ally or incurring the wrath of either party involved.

34) A grieving man mourns a lost love, clutching her portrait and reminding all of the power of heartbreak. Comforting him might reveal a quest to reclaim lost love or a treasure he’s willing to part with in his despondency.

35) A communal plea for rain thrums through a cluster of villagers with their gaze skyward. Should the adventurers use magic or influence to fulfill the villagers’ prayers, they could amass communal gratitude and trade favors or goods.

36) As villagers beseech the heavens for sunshine, the party has a chance to display magical prowess or earn the village’s goodwill by finding a solution to improve the weather, possibly in exchange for sun-touched trinkets or sundry provisions.

37) Around a bloodied Luck Goddess statue, gamblers pray for fortune. The adventurers might cleanse the statue, garnering luck’s whimsy, or benefit directly from the worshippers’ gratitude, betting on their generosity or receiving gambling charms.

38) A trio’s bickering over mythical sightings disrupts the night’s peace. Investigating might lead to discovering a fantastic truth, debunking a myth, or earning silence with mediation—each with potential rewards from the grateful or vindicated quarrellers.

39) Fireside folk recalling goblin encounters invite adventurous contributions. Sharing goblin lore or personal anecdotes may earn hospitality or exchanges of relevant intelligence, particularly on the nuances of goblinoid culture or weaknesses.

40) A heated debate over Goblin Pass’s dangers pits travelers against each other. Offering to scout, escort, or share knowledge of the Pass could lead to monetary rewards, relief from future goblin troubles, or securing passage rights for later use.

41) Waterdizards, with slick scales and demanding demeanors, blockade the adventurers, lusting after their valuables. Fending them off or bargaining might protect the party’s assets and reveal why this aquatic ambush occurs so far inland.

42) Waterdancers whirl into view, extortion mingled with an insistence on rhythm. A dance-off could turn into a surprising alliance or uncover espionage against the players, rewarding successful performers with either stolen loot or innovative aquatic dance moves.

43) Armored Waterknights halt the party with authoritarian zeal, demanding spoils and surrender. Defeating or outwitting them may dampen their watery arrogance while offering insights into the kingdom’s grip on riverine routes or the secret of their waterproof armaments.

44) A larger contingent of Waterknights, both mounted and afoot, confronts the adventurers with a formidable shakedown. Overcoming this challenge could yield superior weaponry or mounts, or incite a regional power struggle the players can manipulate.

45) A frantic steed bounds through the river, pursued by hungry wolves intent on a takedown. Rescuing the horse might earn a loyal equine friend equipped for swift travel, or unearthing why it was targeted by such a lupine pack.

46) A merchant vessel sidles up, all smiles and enticing wares at a bargain. Discerning the ruse could turn the tables: either appropriate the would-be-crook’s stock or carve an alliance against thievery in the trading lanes.

47) Another merchant ship floats by, its captain promising unique items at premium costs. Sharp negotiations or uncovering deception might earn exceptional goods on the cheap or gain an economic adversary with deep pocketed connections.

48) This seemingly honest trader offers goods at reasonable rates. Whether the merchandise is worthy or the merchant’s motives less scrupulous, players must decide to trade or delve deeper, with possible financial benefits or competitive market intel in the balance.

49) An urgent troop of guards stream by, hastening toward a conflict. Assisting them might secure martial camaraderie, offer the party a chance to partake in a greater battle, or obtain intelligence regarding regional threats.

50) Peaceable farmers float downstream, their vessels heavy with harvest. Protecting or aiding in their venture could yield fresh produce or knowledge of agricultural secrets, fostering rural alliances or long-term food sources.

51) A group of merchants appear to be harmlessly transporting food across the river, but a closer inspection or conversation reveals their true cargo is gold. The circumstances surrounding their covert transport could unravel into a protection racket, a high-stakes theft, or a financial opportunity for the party.

52) A lone merchant on a modest barge claims to carry foodstuffs, yet he’s concealing a golden cargo—for good or ill. Assisting or investigating could attract the attention of powerful figures, either leading to a profitable partnership or a dangerous entanglement.

53) The fishermen offering the party a chance to fish could lead the adventurers into peril, as they’re entangled with a criminal boss. This encounter poses the risk of confrontation and betrayal but could also provide leverage against local crime rings.

54) Halfling anglers, affiliated with murky underworld figures, turn aggressive if their offers are declined, escalating to arrow threats. Dealing with them could open a hornet’s nest of criminal activity, or conversely, the party could turn the tables and upend the local syndicate.

55) The flash flood’s destruction has stranded dwarves in dire need. If their desperation turns to thievery, the party must choose between compassion and self-defense, possibly forging an alliance with them or confronting the effects of their growing desperation.

56) A weary group of dwarves trapped by the river’s wrath may choose deceit over pleas for aid. Helping them—or handling their attempted heist—might elicit gratitude or begrudging respect, revealing the perils the river hides, or advancing dwarf-party relations.

57) A hunting party of half-orcs, satisfied with their successful kill, become incensed when they mistake the party for poachers. Clashes or negotiations might result in a tribal alliance, an understanding of local game dynamics, or a feud that could haunt the party in untamed lands.

58) Another crafty knot of fishermen, tied to crime but not each other, present a tangle of dangers and internal strife. Engaging with them can lead to unexpected turns: inter-criminal rivalry, a chance to capitalize on their discord, or an unplanned river escapade.

59) Collapsed infrastructure due to the flood exposes the adventurers to urgent decisions. Repairing the bridge might save lives and ensure safe passage, but require resource allocation, while ignoring it risks future ramifications and the wrath of downstream communities.

60) A merry band of seafarers row past, their drink-infused harmonies drifting across the water. Joining song and drink might be a simple pleasure—or reveal tipsy tales of treasure caches along the river, drunken blunders, or uncharted rapids to the unwary.

61) A lovesong lilts from a female crew gently gliding down the river. Approaching the singers could forge romantic connections, inspire heartfelt story swaps, or inadvertently involve the adventurers in love-tangled quests.

62) Mischievous children toss stones at a lone duck. Curbing their aim might spare the waterfowl and teach a lesson on kindness, while encouraging their accuracy could improve the children’s future hunting skills—each choice influencing young minds.

63) Women rhythmically clean their laundry along the shoreline. Engaging with them might swap tales of village life, unveil local gossip, or lead to the discovery of a stain-removing secret worth spreading—or selling.

64) Shoreline anglers patiently await their catch, relaxed atop boat-backed chairs. Observing their leisurely techniques could impart fishing wisdom or attract light-hearted camaraderie, perhaps earning an invitation to join their floating retreat.

65) Elves practice their angling artistry, casting from land to water. Approaching them could mean lessons in elven fishing mastery, a cultural exchange, or earning a crafted lure enchanted with a touch of elven magic.

66) Halfling fishermen ply the waters with inventive gear. Their entrepreneurial spirit may impart unique fishing methods or, if befriended, lead to sharing a secret spot rich with river bounty ripe for the taking.

67) An artist captures the riverscape’s essence, his makeshift easel a testament to ingenuity. A display of interest may uncover a hidden natural wonder through his painterly perspective or gain an art piece that captures more than meets the eye.

68) Ingenious children have constructed a makeshift dam. If the adventurers assist in their fish-catching enterprise or steer them toward sustainable practices, they could discover a shared affinity for both environmental stewardship and innovation.

69) Boisterous men drift downstream, toasts ringing out with the current’s flow. A willing indulgence in their camaraderie might glean insights into riverside happenings or simply grant a respite filled with laughter and spirits.

70) A ghostly lament echoes off the riverbanks from a maiden’s spirit. A sensitive approach could lead to her unrest’s resolution, freeing her spirit and possibly unearthing a hidden treasure or a long-forgotten tale of love and woe.

71) The raucous laughter of orcs reveling in their conquest is both an omen and an opportunity. This encounter might provoke a skirmish with lasting implications, or grant the players a chance to avenge the fallen and protect future travelers.

72) Dwarven cheer and song from a miner’s campfire warms the night. Sharing in their aspirations could provide tangible rewards in ore or gems, or forge bonds that draw the adventurers into the rich and dangerous life below the surface.

73) Humans mourn their ravaged village, their grief a heavy shroud. Offering support or seeking justice for their losses can mark the start of a vengeful campaign against goblinoid forces or a mission of mercy and rebuilding.

74) A man’s sobs mingle with the river’s murmur, his tale one of orcish cruelty. Comforting him or vowing vengeance brings the party closer to the savage realities of frontier life, opening paths to heroic deeds or somber reflections on the cost of conflict.

75) Adventurers overhear an unfamiliar tongue by the firelight. A group of human traders en route to peddle their wares invites curiosity. Interpreting or joining the conversation could lead to exchanges of goods, cultural understanding, or a quest to assist them in their mercantile endeavors.

76) Campfire chatter in an odd halfling dialect hints at local subtleties. Eavesdropping or engaging with these halflings potentially opens up trade routes, reveals regional peculiarities, or invites hijinks courtesy of this small folk’s unique perspective.

77) Two humans bickering loudly over minutiae could draw the party into mediation, inadvertently reveal a comedic side quest, or offer them insight into the pettier side of human nature and an opportunity for lighthearted intervention.

78) A haunting melody sung in a strange dialect might captivate the players. Investigating leads them to human travelers with peculiar traditions who may teach the party the song’s history, bestowing a boon or cryptic knowledge linked to the melody.

79) Maniacal goblin laughter betrays a dark scene. Confronting or witnessing this tableau might compel adventurers to seek justice or revenge, tread cautiously, or use the goblins’ distraction to gain a stealthy advantage.

80) The low growl from the hills signals a wild dog’s ambush. Surviving the attack might bring the party into a territorial dispute, or simply serve as a stark reminder of the wilds’ unpredictability.

81) Farmers hastily assembling provisions to flee attacks might rely on the party for aid, offering quests to defend or seek retribution, and bringing the village’s plight into the spotlight.

82) A cry for help leads to a wolf onslaught against a lone farmer. The party’s response could mean saving a life, in turn fostering local alliances or discovering the cause behind increasing wolf aggression.

83) Nervous “Henry Jamison” falsely claiming to be a weary traveler masks his true bandit nature. The party’s interaction may expose his ruse or play into his hands, resulting in potential conflict or unexpected camaraderie.

84) Talk of relentless village raids preoccupies a group of men fearing for their safety. Their decision to relocate might pull the party into solving the underlying crisis or initiating a guardian role within this troubled region.

85) Elves discussing recent attacks on their way to seek royal intervention could invite the party into political intrigue. Aligning with them may open doors to high society or embroil the adventurers in the dangerous game of courtly maneuvering.

86) The distant hooting of an owl amidst the growing darkness could be an ominous sign or simply part of the night’s chorus. However, in a magical world, this sound might foretell an event, serve as a druidic message, or herald a nocturnal encounter.

87) A nomadic human patrol demonstrates an unusual method of traversal, potentially revealing a strategic defensive tactic. By observing or interacting, the adventurers could learn of threats in the region or the nomads’ reasons for such vigilance.

88) A man named Samuel Blackbeard leads his group in search of aid against village assaults. His leadership could indicate a chance to turn the tide of conflict, unearthing a larger problem or facilitating a growing resistance effort.

89) Local children skipping stones in festival rehearsals present a wholesome glimpse of regional culture. Playing along might garner invitations, community favor, or a youthful guide to the region’s idiosyncrasies.

90) Drunken dwarves boasting of their lucrative mine strike a note of hilarity. Interactions may lead to investing, negotiation for their gold, or a boisterous time—an encounter with mirth or material gain.

91) Riverside fishmonger merchants hawk their fresh catch, offering sustenance or a bargaining opportunity. The adventurers might procure a meal, uncover a local fishing spot, or engage with the river economy.

92) Dwarves lament their purchase of swindled ale, presenting a chance to console or take advantage of their dispirited state. Perhaps the quest might involve tracking down the crooked merchant to rectify the situation or simply to partake in the ale out of curiosity.

93) Elves on the hunt create a tense moment of silence as they close in on their quarry. Observing without interfering might lead to lessons in stealth and precision, or an opportunity to partake in the resulting feast.

94) Elven anglers by the river offer an abundance of catch as a friendly gesture. The offering might deliver wholesome sustenance or a deeper connection to the elven community and their fishing grounds.

95) Dew-eyed villagers spin chilling yarns of a ferocious demon haunting the hills, a narrative stirring fear and curiosity. Exploring the truth behind these stories could lead to an epic hunt—or dispel panic-inducing folklore.

96) Tales of a rampaging red dragon preoccupy the villagers’ fireside talks. Intrigue into this draconic threat might prod adventurers into a quest to slay the beast or uncover its treasure hoard.

97) Traveling bards recount a theatrical dragon-slaying legend, casting a spotlight on heroic feats and love’s triumphs. Watching or partaking in their drama can inspire, earn the actors’ applause, or provide an unconventional strategy against true draconic foes.

98) Men fishing contently along the river offer a peaceful interlude, or—if the party’s curious—a means of gaining favor or fresh provisions by sharing in their successful endeavor.

99) The river’s mysterious vanishing acts as a dire portent or puzzling anomaly. Unraveling the reason could push the party into a quest of environmental significance, or perhaps into conflict with those responsible for the river’s plight.

100) Eavesdropping on the foreign language of human traders by a campfire offers the party a chance to learn about distant lands or gain information about the market in the nearby village. It could also be an opportunity to sell their own goods or assist the traders on their journey in exchange for a share of the profits.

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Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, RPG game developer, and old school webmaster. He's been playing tabletop games since the 1980s. He started Random Tables RPG as a way to give out free D&D and Pathfinder content to the world. Enjoy!