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:
- Rain hammers down, like thousands of tiny fists. The muddy ground threatens to suck you down as you stumble along a flooded path. Luckily, you find a stretch of high, if muddy, ground to safely travel.
- You journey along a man-made path winding between the trees, avoiding the deeper parts of the swamp where occasionally you see the water ripple after some creature slides into it.
- Faint sunlight trickles passed the tall trees crowding overhead, casting the swamp in a perpetual gloom. Still, you manage to navigate its relatively shallow waters quickly until night approaches when darkness falls suddenly.
- Scrubby bushes and long reeds form the winding path you travel, skirting the edges of deep, murky water. A hot sun seems to encourage the insects but the night brings cooler air.
- A steady rain causes the marshy pools to rise, flooding the trail and making your travel an unpleasant slog. The rain tapers off at evening as a sickle moon peeks between the clouds.
- Low clouds hang overhead, the distant sound of thunder accompanying you as you travel through wide lanes of tall grass cradling shallow pools of water. Birds clog the pools’ edges, diving into the nearby thorny bushes.
- The frozen ground crunches under your feet as you travel passed wide pools of water coated in a thin layer of ice. A brief snow squall blankets the dense, woody bushes between the water and your trail. Night comes cold and clear.
- A man-made trail bordered by tall rushes snakes past flat, sluggish pools of grass choked water. Throughout the day, you spy a few mud brick houses built on sticks. A low sun sets late.
- A low fog crawls along the marsh’s surface, attempting to hide numerous, small pools of water. Luckily, you keep your path, trudging through thick reeds and thorny bushes. The sun dips redly and a sliver of moon replaces it.
- Signposts guide you along a muddy trail carving through thorny thickets. In the distance, you occasionally see local residents thrusting spears or dragging nets through the pools of water dotting the landscape. A cold night greets you.
- The squawking of birds slowly gives way to the croaking of frogs and chittering of insects as you march quickly along a relatively dry trail through the marshy surrounds.
- The heat bakes the mud under your feet, the fetid pools of water crowding you. The earthy scent of mud and grass undercut with decay assaults you at every step.
- Large, mossy boulders rise up like giants from black pools of water causing your mud drenched trail to twist and turn to avoid them. The muggy air is stifling with little relief at night.
- You journey along narrow game trails cutting through long, stretches of water. The tumbled, stone remains of an ancient ruin lie at the bottom of these massive pools, occasionally rising above the surface of the water.
- A horrid stench of sulphur wafts from numerous small pools of bubbling water along the muddy path. Things unseen call out to you from dense, tangled bushes. A wretchedly hot sun finally sets as thick clouds cover the moon.
- Thin reeds and tall grass encircle shallow pools of water alive with birds and other small creatures. A cool breeze accompanies you while sunlight leaks between thick, dark clouds.
- Abandoned, half-collapsed mud brick and reed houses appear on the path, some almost now grassy hillocks. The sun baths its reflection in mirror pools of still water until night arrives.
- The sun seems to hang low over the wetlands. You notice a sullen silence—not an animal squeal or the chatter of insects. You swear you see ancient skulls at the bottom of still pools of water. No moon comes this night.
- The narrow game trail you travel, passes various hunters and fisherfolk, who all remain at distance. A warm sunlight dances across pools of water before a cool night arrives.
- The wind and rain whip the landscape into a frenzy. Normally shallow pools overflows, flooding the snaking game trails you travel along. You push along, waist deep, until night falls.
This article will appear 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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