Encounters in the Dark Forest

Forest encounters aren’t always fun. As the player characters grow in power, animals stop being a challenge, and just how many times you can fight bandits? Why not let the characters stray off the path…? Why not let them get lost and wander into the dark part of the forest, where fey, hags, and monsters dwell?

Choose Your Path Carefully

Just a short hike through the forest, they said. But now, the sun is setting, the sky is ablaze, and the mushrooms are looking at you weirdly. Did you take a wrong turn somewhere? Have you seen this place before?

Are you… Lost?

There’s a pale light shining between the trees, and as you carefully consider your choices… A deck of cards appears in front of you. You draw one. Hopefully not your last.

1. Heedless Horseman

A horse rider in a red cloak trotting through the glade.

Heavy hoofbeats in the storm announce the rider’s arrival. You barely get a chance to move aside on the muddy road before a galloping beast charges past you, carrying a hooded person in a dark overcoat, repeatedly looking behind.

You gaze into the dark forest road whence they came from, but see nothing through the curtains of rain.

2. Ghost Lights

A human skull with glowing, blue lights in the eye sockets.

Pale, blue lights pivot between twisted tree branches, amidst the dark and moist hanging moss. As you look closer, you realize the moss grows over skeletons of hanged humanoids, their flesh rotted away long ago. As you examine them, pale lights flicker in the skull’s eye sockets.

3. The Guardian

A knight clad in armor.

You encounter a lone knight standing watch before a bridge. Her hair is gray, and her posture slumped from carrying the burden of untold ages. She proclaims herself a guardian of this road and challenges you to a duel for the honor of taking up her charge.

4. Fairy Ring

Blue, glowing butterflies dance between white mushrooms.

A group of butterfly-winged fairies dances and prances around a mushroom ring. As you enter the clearing, they scatter into bushes, leaving you wondering have you seen them at all.

5. Adventurers

Two ornate daggers; crossed.

A trio of rugged adventurers halts you on your way, their gear and attitude mark experienced globetrotters from different areas of the world. They claim you stole their weapons, claiming you have their sword, axe, and bow.

6. Wolfseekers

A resting light-gray wolf.

A group of hunters armed with spears and bows halts you on the pathway. They proclaim to be looking for wolves that surely must be around here somewhere, and demand that you prove you aren’t wolves in disguise.

7. Procession of Woes

A ghostly, white face surrounded by wisps of smoke.

Piercing cries of anguish tear the night’s silence asunder, as immaterial specters in mourning shawls simmer into being. They wail of lost loves and chances in life they didn’t take. As the procession passes you, the last wraith point at you with its skeletal finger, and invites you to take a place behind it.

8. Lords and Ladies

A red fox hiding in the bushes.

Distant laughter carries down the twisted pathways as a merry hunting party rides down a terrified fox. The fox runs by your legs, and you notice it wearing a colorful apron, as it tries desperately to dodge the pursuit.

9. The Web

A thick spiderweb.

You wake up from slumber in a tightly woven silken cocoon, suspended far above the ground. You can try to cut yourself free, but the commotion may attract the attention of whatever creature managed to get you in this situation.

10. The Visitor

A glowing moon with two eyes.

You take shelter for the night in an abandoned logger’s cabin, amidst stacks of wood and meager furniture. You wake up in the night, awoken by a full moon peering in the window. The moon has bright, yellow eyes and smiles widely, before disappearing in a blink.

Need More Encounters?

Here’s 50 of them. Grab the whole deck on DriveThruRPG or Itch.

Going on a trip somewhere else? Check the whole collection of encounters in Wayfarer’s Decks.

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