10 Bridges

Bridges are rather handy, but often overlooked features of the wilderness. Without bridges, crossing ravines and rivers can be difficult or dangerous (at best). As such, they offer a design opportunity for the GM and a point of interest for the adventurers.

By Marc Radle

By Marc Radle


Is the bridge in good repair? Does a local noble claim the bridge and exact tolls from those crossing it? Who built it? The answers to all these questions can have an impact on the campaign area and provide clues to the region’s history, political makeup and so on.

And finally, bridges are iconic locations for fights and encounters.

Use this table, to determine the bridge the PCs encounter.

  1. This “bridge” comprises several huge, flat stepping stones placed in the river. The stones are only just above the surface of the river; after the winter snow melt or a prolonged period of heavy rain the bridge is submerged.
  2. Wreathed in ivy and creepers growing from the marshy banks of the river, this structure almost blends into the surrounding landscape. This bridge is of stone and obviously of old construct.
  3. This stone bridge is in bad repair. Parts of the parapet walls are crumbling; in two places they have fallen away into the river below.
  4. This rickety wooden bridge has clearly seen better days. Pieces of the deck have rotted away making travel across it slow, but safe (as long as no more gives away below the party’s feet).
  5. This stone bridge crosses a narrow river. Thick stands of reeds grow along the banks of the river near the bridge. Partially hidden in the reeds is a decomposing body of an orc. Yet wearing his waterlogged studded leather armour, the bloated corpse looks to have become wedged here after floating downstream.
  6. The middle span of this stone bridge has collapsed into the river below creating a section of artificial rapids through which the river foams. The rest of the bridge appears sturdy and well made, suggesting the collapse was not accidental.
  7. All that remains of this ancient bridge are the slick, reed-wreathed piers yet emerging from the river’s silt-heavy water. Chunks of the bridge lies in the river, around which the water churns.
  8. A flag bearing the design of a white rampant swan on a blue background flutters in the breeze atop a high flagpole set into one of this stout stone bridge’s parapets.
  9. This narrow, high-sided wooden bridge is only wide enough for single file foot traffic. At one end, the bridge’s deck is scorched and charred (although the bridge itself is still stable).
  10. A small watchtower abuts this stone bridge. A detachment of men-at-arms in the service of a local lord exact a small toll from all who cross.

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II, available in March 2017. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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