10 Things to Lurk in the Shadows About the PCs’ Campsite

Adventurers often spend the night in dangerous locales. Whether they are camping in the depths of a shadowy wood or taking shelter in a cave to escape a sudden rainstorm their overnight rest isn’t guaranteed to be trouble free.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


Although things move in the shadows outside the adventurers’ camp and sounds travel strange in the dark, not all nighttime distractions or encounters lead to combat.

Use this table, to generate such minor events and happenings:

  1. Rustling in the bushes near the camp grows steadily louder and louder. After a few minutes, a family of badgers—two adults and three young—emerge from the bushes and sniff about the camp in search of food.
  2. A large owl glides silently over the camp. When it is directly above the PC on watch it lets out a loud, deep hoot. It is likely gone before the PC spots it.
  3. With a loud crash and rustling of undergrowth something falls to the ground not too far from camp. (A rotten branch has fallen from a tree, but the PCs are unlikely to know that—paranoid adventurers may believe a dragon or has dropped something or that some winged beast has just landed).
  4. Something large passes in front of the North Star, blotting it out for several seconds.
  5. A small swarm of bats is out hunting. If the party has set a fire the light and the smell of burning wood keeps them away from the camp’s immediate environs but the sound of them moving through the trees—unseen—may be unnerving to the PC on watch.
  6. The howling of a wolf obviously some distance off is answered by a much louder howl…coming from excitingly close to the PCs’ camp.
  7. Late in the night, a sudden wind batters the party’s camp and threatens to extinguish the fire.
  8. A pair of small red eyes regards the camp from a nearby stand of bushes. The eyes are unblinking and watch the camp for several minutes before abruptly disappearing. They belong to a feral cat that has been living in the area for months after raiders killed its master. Alternatively, the cat could be a wizard’s familiar. The wizard could be dead or he could have sent the cat to spy on the party.
  9. A swarm of fireflies passes over the camp. Their luminescent bodies provide a spectacular display as thousands of insects twist and weave through the night sky.
  10. A brief rain shower strikes the camp. Unless the PC on guard is doing so from a tent, she is quickly soaked.

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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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