20 Things to See in a Marsh Town

At some point in their career, most adventurers pursue adventure in the depths of a noisome marsh or fen. Whether it be a tribe of murderous lizard men or the sunken tomb some of some all but forgotten king the mire can hold riches and glory beyond measure.

Some artwork copyright Claudio Pozas, used with permission.

Some artwork copyright Claudio Pozas, used with permission.


Of course, small villages and towns often stand upon the marsh’s fringes, and here the adventurers retreat to rest and recuperate before plunging back into adventure. Such settlements are interesting places, and the wise GM takes the time to highlight the settlement’s flavour. Use the table below, to determine what the PCs see when they move around a marsh town:

  1. A pair of mangy cats toy with a bloody bird corpse, bright feathers scattered everywhere.
  2. For a brief moment, the sun slices through the cloud cover, bright light making the town appear even dingier than normal.
  3. Enormous lizards blink from their perches atop a pile of rotting logs. They appear unimpressed.
  4. A boy holds a small wooden spear and eyes the water, looking for a frog to skewer.
  5. With a mighty splash, an alligator erupts from the water and chomps a bird out of mid-air.
  6. A woman uses a rusty blade to scrape layers of mud off the walkways. She holds her hand out for a coin as the party pass by.
  7. Harsh bird cries erupt from nearby trees, as branches quake and leaves flutter to the ground.
  8. An emerald viper slithers across the road.
  9. Someone has hung a wind chime made of dried bone from the eaves of their ramshackle home.
  10. A pile of rotting nets lies abandoned by the path; a few mouldy bones are tangled in the webbing.
  11. Mushrooms grow throughout town, and the townsfolk occasionally pluck one as a snack.
  12. Townsfolk appear to have planted moss gardens all around, cultivating crops of vibrant colours and varying growths.
  13. The water ripples as something swims away just under the surface, its body not quite visible.
  14. A trapper glares at the party suspiciously as he tends to repairing one of his snares.
  15. Several dead humanoid reptiles are hung up on display in the town centre.
  16. Low stone walls stretch along here, but are mostly overgrown with leafy vegetation.
  17. What looks like a hand sticks up out of the mud.
  18. Flies buzz around a rotting animal corpse.
  19. A refined-looking woman walks along, leading a large lizard on a leash.
  20. The town gates have large, humanoid mud statues on either side—rumours circulate these are inactive golems.

Guest Designer

Josh Vogt is a full-time freelance writer and editor. He works with a variety of RPG developers and publishers and has sold fiction to Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales, Grey Matter Press, the UFO2 & UFO3 anthologies, Intergalactic Medicine Show and Shimmer, among others. His upcoming debut fantasy novel is also with Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales. You can find him at JRVogt.com or @JRVogt. He is made out of meat.”

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This article will appear in GM’s Miscellany: 20 Things II , available in March 2017, and also GM’s Miscellany: Urban Dressing II which is available now. For more, check out our Free Resources page.

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