20 Things to See in a Riot

Sometimes the adventurers seek out adventure and sometimes adventure seeks out the adventurers!

By Harry Theaker

By Harry Theaker


Riots aren’t an everyday occurrence in most towns and cities. However, sometimes because of food shortages, perceived (or actual) injustices or the oratory of a charismatic speaker mobs form and riots result. Such events can be great fun to game in, but tough to run. Thus, use the table below, to generate minor events of interest the party could witness while caught up in a riot:

  1. Three men pick up a barrel and hurl it though the window of a shop. With the shutters smashed in, the rioters surge inside and begin looting.
  2. As the crowd surges forward, an old woman is knocked to the ground and trampled underfoot. Unless the PCs intervene, she will likely be crushed to death.
  3. Thrown cobblestones rain down upon the crowd—perhaps thrown by other rioters who can’t see at what they are aiming. Several rioters—and perhaps a PC or two—suffer minor injuries as a result.
  4. A riderless horse—driven to panic by the noise and chaos—stampedes through the crowd. It injures and knocks several people to the ground.
  5. A man forces his way back through the crowd carrying a heavy sack. He roughly pushes aside those who get in his way.
  6. A footpad uses the chaos of the riot as cover to mug a well-to-do citizen caught up in the crowd. He smashes the man over the head with a club before stooping to take the now unconscious man’s pouch.
  7. An overturned wagon, a horse still attached to its traces, partially blocks the road. The driver fumbles madly at the horse’s reins desperately trying to release it.
  8. A man stands with his back to the crowd desperately trying to shield two young children against a wall from the madness of the riot.
  9. Litter and rubbish—torn up cobblestones, broken barrels, dropped possessions and so on—litter the floor. Those crossing the area without care and attention may fall to the ground (and then be trampled by those behind them).
  10. Two rioters argue over a small sack, pulling it back and forth between them. Suddenly, the sack rips and dumps flour all over the floor.
  11. Three watchmen desperately try to stem the tide of rioters pouring through the area. Quickly, they are pushed back against a wall through sheer weight of numbers.
  12. Several rioters are battering at a shop door—trying to get in. From inside comes the barking of several large—and apparently vicious—dogs.
  13. A young girl wearing a ripped and torn brown shift sits on a barrel crying her eyes out. She seems quite alone…and terrified.
  14. A man carrying an unconscious friend tries to shoulder his way through the crowd of rioters. The sheer number of rioters, however, is stymieing his progress.
  15. The tide of humanity pouring through the streets pushes the party (or perhaps a lone PC) toward a narrow, shadow-filled alleyway. Curiously, none of the rioters go close to the alleyway.
  16. Above the riot’s clamour, a man calls desperately for his wife.
  17. The press of people in this area is intense. With a loud crack, the entire front wall of a building gives way and collapses inwards. Almost immediately, the floors above begin to sag dangerously. Minutes later, the entire building collapses into the street, burying dozens of rioters.
  18. The neighing of horses rises above the clamour. Ahead, a squad of mounted watchmen pushes into the street and try to force the rioters back.
  19. With a scream, a nobleman—in the wrong place at the wrong time—is pulled from his carriage by the mob. He quickly disappears from sight into the sea of humanity. He emerges minutes later, battered, bleeding and stripped of all his finery.
  20. Incongruously, a red dragon suddenly appears on a building in front of the rioters. He roars loudly, and panic grips the crowd. The rioter break, and run back the way they came. The dragon is an illusion created by a powerful wizard who is trying to break up the riot using nonlethal means. Unfortunately, several rioters are crushed to death in the ensuing panic.

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2 thoughts on “20 Things to See in a Riot

  1. This is a great list of ways to start and enhance encounters. I’m definitely going to put a few of these into my https://fyxtrpg.com/ game encounters for sure. I think this list is probably a little more on the side of things a GM should pre plan instead of randomly roll. Many of these could easily turn into full blown encounters within the larger riot encounter. So it would be best to plan ahead for these instead of randomly rolling.