Not everyday in an adventurer’s life is packed with excitement. Sometimes, nothing of note happens but a GM wants to give some detail and substance to the nothing.
Use the table below, to describe at uneventful day’s travel through a marsh or swamp:
- Biting insects assail you while the long leaves of nearby trees reach down to touch you. A wan sun hides behind thin clouds before giving way to full, bright moon. The song of various insects reaches a fevered crescendo.
- You spy here and there worn stone boulders half buried in the murky water, ruins from an ancient civilization. An eerie silence infuses the dank air before the chirping of birds and insects encroaches as night falls.
- Worn, half-rotted posts point you along the driest paths through the tree crowded swamp. Birds call out under a cloudless blue sky while bright stars and a full, silvery moon keep you company with the arrival of night.
- A previous rain and a hot sun combine to fill the dank swamp with a thin fog, making travel slow as you slosh through muddy channels. Afternoon sees the fog lift and it finally dissipates by the time a red sun sets.
- Despite the persistent rain dogging you all day, the buzzing, biting swamp insects are out in full force as you trudge along under heavily leaved trees. The rain stops just before sunset.
- You manage to find a rough, man-made road winding through the thick trees rising like green wraiths from the dark waters of the swamp. Your travel is swift and time passes quickly.
- As you stomp through a path covered in shallow water you occasionally see local rafts and small boats plying the swamp’s deeper waters. The cool day gives way to a colder night.
- You wade through the thickly overgrown swamp with relative ease made possible by numerous wooden boardwalks laid out over the deeper water. A warm sun follows you through the day.
- The muddy ground threatens to suck you down while thick undergrowth attempts to ensnare you. Despite this, you manage to stumble along, avoiding the deeper water.
- You make use of the crude, wooden bridges suspended by thick vines to traverse the deeper waters of the swamp. At one point, an animal’s death cry rattles in the far distance.
- You navigate a path through the trees by following markers fashioned from wood and animal skulls indicating the safest route. You see a few predators in the distant waters but they give you a wide berth. Night comes quickly.
- The humid morning brings a series of short, violent thunderstorms as you slog through a narrow, shallow path weaving between fortresses of trees, their leafy boughs hanging low. A grey sky eventually turns black.
- A stagnant trail rises just above the water line, meandering through the trees. You see occasional floating lights in the distance produced by swamp gas. A dismal sun sets.
- A fetid stench bubbles up from the swamp as you trudge through swaths of brackish water weaving between muddy hillocks. The sun dies in a blaze of colour, birthing a moonless night.
- Moss chokes hunched trees like widows’ veils, crowding the muddy path traversing pools of murky water. An intimidated sun hides behind the clouds and a moonless sky follows.
- A strong wind blows steadily throughout the day, harassing thin, leafless trees struggling to rise out of the muck around them. Even the animals seem silenced as the day passes.
- A well-worn path takes you safely through the swamp. In the deeper waters in the distance, you see hunched figures in small boats with nets and fishing rods. A half-sickle moon appears at night.
- Narrow boardwalks help you navigate the deeper stretches of the swamp. Occasionally, you spy cloaked figures walking on stilts armed as hunters. The sun gives way to a half-moon.
- Thick fog drifts over the slowly moving water feeding the swamp. Thin, blackened trees thrust up like skeletal fingers. A grey sky obscures the sun.
- A thin layer of ice coats the water while heavy snow beats down on the bare trees. The frozen ground crunches underfoot as you navigate a narrow path under a pallid sun.
This article appears in Campaign Backdrop: Marshes & Swamps.
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John Bennett makes his lair in the tree-cloaked hills of New Hampshire. He enjoys heavy metal, beer and cigars as much as he enjoys playing RPGs. John has been writing since the age of 6 when he would narrate stories about dinosaurs and robots to his mother. He has a degree in film production and a pile of reject letters to go with his scripts. Currently, he is pursuing his Master’s degree in Organizational Leadership. He is also striving to achieve at least one skill rank in Perform (guitar) but too little avail. Coerced into playing 1st edition D&D by an older (and bigger) kid in the neighbourhood at the age of 8, he would like to take a moment to thank his friend, Danny, for introducing him to the world of gaming many long years ago. While his friends and players know what he is talking about, John has been unsuccessful in explaining what bugbears are to his family and co-workers, the latter fleeing his office when he begins rambling.
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