20 Things to Find in a War-Ravaged Village

Raids, skirmishes and full-on invasion often beset borderland villages. Sometimes such raids are repulsed, but more often than not the raiders sack the village, slay its inhabitants and carry off everything of value.

By William McAusland (Outland Arts)


As adventurers often wander the borderlands, they are certain at some point to come upon a ravaged village. Sometimes, they are too late to help, and the surviving villagers have fled. Use the table below, to determine what the PCs find in a war-ravaged village. (The attackers’ identity is left deliberately vague, to enable the GM to customise discoveries as desired.)

  1. Fallen from a nearby building, a pile of tumbled, burnt timbers partly blocks the street. The slashed and burnt corpse of a horse lies nearby. The smell of smoke and burnt flesh is heavy in the air.
  2. A body lies in the street, several arrows protruding from its chest. A crow perches atop the body, pecking at the unfortunate’s face. If disturbed, it caws indignantly and flies away.
  3. Smoke rises from a chimney. Investigation reveals a still smouldering fire and a pot of burnt vegetable stew. A cursory search of the house reveals signs of a hasty departure.
  4. Several corpses lie entwined in the street. A skirmish was fought here—a skirmish the villagers clearly lost as none of the intruders’ bodies lie among the fallen.
  5. An overturned cart, festooned with arrows, partially blocks the street. The bodies of three villagers lie behind the cart. Their weapons—two spears and a shortbow along with an empty quiver—lie nearby.
  6. A gaunt dog darts across the street ahead of the party. (Perceptive PCs notice a wound on his left hind leg). At sight of the adventurers, it flees into a nearby building and hides. A ranger, druid or similarly skilled PC may be able to coax the dog forth. Anyone being particularly kind to the dog, gains a friend for life.
  7. This house has collapsed in on itself; a few charred timbers and the chimney remain upright. Parts of the ruin still smoulder. PCs sifting through the house’s remains find nothing of interest, except a partially squashed cooking pot and a child’s scorched skeleton.
  8. Three crows perch on a fence and stare hungrily at the bodies lying scattered about. Unless the PCs shoo them away, they soon fly down to feed.
  9. A loud crash from deeper into the village heralds the collapse of a damaged building. Startled, birds perching about the ruins take wing and fly away.
  10. A cauldron, several pewter goblets and some other odds and ends are scattered on the ground outside a ransacked house. The house’s door gaps wide; no sound emanates from within.
  11. A black cat slinks across the road, clutching something bloody in its jaws. At sight of the PCs, it darts away with its prize.
  12. A pool of congealing blood decorates the ground. Enough blood has been shed here that whatever was injured probably died as a result of its wounds. However, there is no body.
  13. Driven by faint gusts of wind, ash swirls across the street. It seems to dance about the party, before settling to the ground.
  14. Several bodies lie scattered on the ground. Perceptive PCs hear a faint mewling coming from the body of a young woman. A baby, wrapped tight in a bloodstained blanket lies under its mother’s body. The baby is dehydrated and hungry, but uninjured.
  15. The slashed and stabbed corpses of three villagers hang upside down from the boughs of a large tree. Crows feed on their brutally mutilated bodies. It seems the doomed souls were hung before being used as practise targets.
  16. This house seems to have been the site of greater than normal resistance. Two raiders lie dead at the front door, and a half-dozen or so arrows yet jut from its window and door frames. Inside, chaos and destruction greet explorers. Two more raiders lie dead within, but of the defenders there is no sign.
  17. The mournful tinkle of wind chimes reaches the party’s ears. PCs following the sound discover the chimes hanging from the eves of the village tavern. Opened, empty barrels and casks lie about; clearly the raiders slaked their thirst here.
  18. A red cloak lies discarded in the street. As the PCs approach, the wind plucks at its hem but does not blow it away. A dozen gold coins are sewn into the cloak’s lining, but only perceptive PCs searching the cloak find them.
  19. Smoke yet rises from this building; its old thatch was sodden and has only just caught fire. The thatch will smoulder for another hour, before the roof collapses.
  20. A lone horse—a long slash across its face—plods through the village. It wears saddle and bridle. Blood splatters the saddle and the horse’s back suggesting the rider’s fate was not a pleasant one.

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