100 Interesting DND River Encounters

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Looking for some random river encounters? I’ve put together a list of d100 river encounters for your fantasy tabletop campaign. If you like the list, be sure to read to the end. I’ve got some information on a set of RPG tools I built using AI. Some are free. Others aren’t. First, let’s get to the 100 interesting river encounters for D&D, Pathfinder, and other fine roleplaying systems.

100 DND River Encounters

  1. A kelpie stands at the river’s edge in the water. It will try to charm players and pull them in the water. If players listen to its song, they will be weakened and take ongoing damage.
  2. A water elemental is trapped in the water and will escape at the first chance. If players help it, they will be rewarded with a powerful elemental willing to help them.
  3. A mermaid is trapped in a cage at the bottom of the river. It will ask players to help it escape its cage. If players free the mermaid, it will give them a magical item or information.
  4. A group of cultists are sacrificing a woman to the river god. If they are not stopped, the river god will rise from the water and destroy the village.
  5. A group of dwarves are trying to dig a new tunnel that will redirect the river and cause the village to flood. If players stop them, they will become heroes of the village.
  6. A group of pirates are raiding a merchant boat. They will kidnap the first mate and force her to join their crew.
  7. A group of bandits are trying to steal a merchant’s goods that are being delivered by barge. They will fight to the death to keep their loot.
  8. Three mermaids are bathing in the river. They will ask players to join them in their bath. If players agree, they will be cursed and turned into mermaids.
  9. A group of thieves are trying to rob a merchant’s goods that are being delivered by barge. They will fight to the death to keep their loot.
  10. A group of fishermen are fishing in the river. If players help them, they will give them a magic rod that they found in the water.
  11. Dried bones of a human, gnawed on. If a player rolls a 1, they notice a large black raven sitting on the bones. If they approach, it flies off.
  12. A huge boat, called The Unsinkable, is floating down the river.
  13. The players hear a child singing, the sound is coming from a small raft with a cage on it. If investigated, players will find a small girl in the cage. She will ask the party to help her escape from the little men who captured her. If they do, they will discover that the little men are actually goblins in disguise.
  14. The players hear a man singing, he is standing at the edge of the water with his back to them. If they approach, he will turn around and introduce himself as the bard, John Smith. He will then ask for a drink of water. If the party gives him a drink, he will reward them with a small magical item.
  15. A group of 4d4 crooks have been terrorizing the river. If players approach, they will flee from the players.
  16. A group of 4d4 halfling bandits have been terrorizing the area. If players approach, they will attack the players.
  17. The players see a man standing on shore. If they approach, he will ask for help. He will tell them that he is lost and has been wandering for days. He will offer a reward if they help him get back home. If they take him up on his offer and bring him back to his home, they will discover that he is actually a thief who has been using his story to scam people out of their money.
  18. A man floating downstream on a raft stumbles into the party. He asks for help but when players try to help him, he attacks. He is an assassin.
  19. A group of 2d4+4 kobolds are chasing a group of 2d6+2 adventurers. The party sees this battle as it passes by.
  20. A group of 2d6+2 adventurers are chasing a group of 2d4+4 kobolds. The party sees this battle as it passes by.
  21. Unexpected Attack! The players are ambushed by 3 groups of 2d6 river rats, 2d6 giant lizards, and 2d6 crocodiles. The attack is unexpected because the players are not yet on the river. The attack is unexpected because the critters are hiding. Players will be surprised.
  22. Affectionate Attack! The players are ambushed by 2d6 giant lizards, 2d6 crocodiles, and 2d6 eagles. The eagles are not dangerous. They want to be friends with players. They want to befriend the players. There is a 10% chance per round that the eagles will attack.
  23. Peaceful Encounter! The players encounter a group of 2d6 farmers from a nearby village. They are on the river to fish. They will be friendly and will trade with players. They will also be carrying 2d6 medium-sized sacks of grain. They will trade 1 sack of grain for 1 copper coin or 1 silver coin.
  24. Festival! The players encounter a group of 2d6 farmers from a nearby village. They are on the river to fish. They will be friendly and will trade with players. They will also be carrying 2d6 medium-sized sacks of grain. They will trade 1 sack of grain for 1 copper coin or 1 silver coin. Players can also purchase 1d6 honeycombs for 1 copper coin each.
  25. Woman On The Run! Players encounter a group of 2d6 men from a nearby village. They are on the river to fish. They will be friendly and will trade with players. They will also be carrying 2d6 medium-sized sacks of grain. They will trade 1 sack of grain for 1 copper coin or 1 silver coin. Players can also purchase 1d6 honeycombs for 1 copper coin each.
  26. Lost Child! Players encounter a group of 2d6 men from a nearby village. They are on the river to fish. They will be friendly and will trade with players. They will also be carrying 2d6 medium-sized sacks of grain. They will trade 1 sack of grain for 1 copper coin or 1 silver coin. Players can also purchase 1d6 honeycombs for 1 copper coin each.
  27. Helping Hands! Players encounter a group of 2d6 farmers from a nearby village. They are on the river to fish. They will be friendly and will trade with players. They will also be carrying 2d6 medium-sized sacks of grain. They will trade 1 sack of grain for 1 copper coin or 1 silver coin.
  28. Ambush! The players are ambushed by 3 groups of 2d6 crocodiles, 2d6 giant lizards, and 2d6 river rats. The crocodiles and lizards are dangerous. Players will be surprised.
  29. Foul Smell! The boat passes by a large dead animal on the river bank. The body has been here for 6d6 days. The body has been so bad that it has attracted a swarm of 1d6+1 giant flies.
  30. Snake! The players encounter a giant snake. It is sleeping. The snake is 20 feet long, green, and has a large jaw. The snake is not dangerous. It is actually a friendly guardian.
  31. A giant snake attacks the party from the water. It has a large, venomous bite and can constrict its prey.
  32. A group of 2d6 rangers from a local ranger camp are out on a training exercise at the river. They are led by a level 1 ranger named John. He will trade information with the players for a small favor. The ranger camp is about 3 miles downstream from where the players are.
  33. A group of 2d4+4 dwarven miners are looking for a good place to set up a mining colony. They are led by a level 3 dwarven fighter named Grumgar. He will trade information with the players for a small favor. The dwarven miners are downstream from where the players are.
  34. A group of 4d6 wandering monks are on a pilgrimage to the local temple. They are looking for work along the way. If players help them, they will be rewarded by the temple. The monks are downstream from where the players are.
  35. A group of 1d10+5 elves are on a hunting expedition. They are looking for food along the riverbank. If players help them, they will be rewarded with food, gold, and information about the area.
  36. A group of 2d4 dwarves are looking for a place to set up a mining colony. They are led by a level 2 dwarven fighter named Grumgar. He will trade information with the players for a small favor. The dwarf miners are downstream from where the players are.
  37. A group of 2d4+4 halflings are looking for a place to settle down. They are led by a level 3 halfling bard named Jimmy Bob. He will trade information with the players for a small favor. The halfling nomads are downstream from where the players are.
  38. A group of 1d10+5 bandits are using the river as a cover to attack caravans on the road. They will attack the party if they get the chance. The bandits are led by a level 3 bandit captain named Murdock.
  39. A pair of giant lizards are fighting over territory on the river bank. The lizards are brown, 5 feet long and 3 feet tall at the shoulder. Each has an 8-foot tail. They will attack if they feel threatened. They will retreat if they are losing the fight.
  40. A pair of half-dragon barbarians are looking for an opportunity to kill some non-dragons. They will attack the party if they get the chance. They are level 5 barbarians with a 2d6+4 hobgoblin warband nearby. The hobgoblins will attack if the barbarians get killed or if they get too many arrows in them!
  41. Tons of logs downstream. Players have to navigate around them. The logs are each 10 feet in diameter, and are spaced 10 feet apart.
  42. A giant whirlpool appears in the river. If players get sucked into the whirlpool, they will be transported to a random location elsewhere in the world.
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  44. An upside-down boat floats down the river. If players approach it, it will start to sink. The boat is 10 feet long, and is actually a mimic.
  45. A human mage named Harold is sitting on a log downstream. He will ask the players to help him transport a chest downstream. The chest contains his notes on his latest experiment. If players help him, he will give them a magic wand.
  46. The players hear a strange song coming from downstream. If they investigate, they find a group of human bards sitting on a log downstream. They are part of a traveling bardic college. They are practicing for an upcoming competition.
  47. A group of 2d8 orcs is camped on the riverbank. They are preparing for an invasion into the kingdom.
  48. Three men are fishing downstream. They are trying to catch a giant fish that has been terrorizing the nearby villages. If players talk to them, they will ask them to help them catch the fish. The fish is actually a dragon that has been disguised as a giant fish.
  49. A group of 2d6+2 dwarves are sitting on the bank of the river. They are trying to recover some treasure that they have lost in the river. They tell the players that they have lost a treasure chest in a whirlpool downriver.
  50. A group of 2d6 humans are sitting on the bank of the river, eating dinner. They are on their way to a nearby village to sell their produce.
DND Random River Encounters
DND Random River Encounters
  1. A group of 2d6+2 men and women are fishing downstream. They are trying to catch dinner for their village.
  2. Fierce fighting erupts on the riverbank nearby. Five men are fighting.
  3. A group of 2d4+4 pirates are trying to board a boat. They are armed with swords and axes.
  4. An old man is walking along the shore of the river, muttering to himself. He is obviously insane. He is holding a ram’s horn.
  5. Two men are standing on the shore of the river, talking to each other. They are obviously upset about something and are really angry with each other.
  6. A man is standing on the shore of the river, arguing with a woman. She is obviously upset about something, but he is being very rude to her.
  7. A group of 2d4+4 bandits are lying in wait on the shore, hoping to ambush anyone who comes along.
  8. A group of 2d4+2 elves are sitting around a campfire, singing songs about their past adventures. They are obviously drunk.
  9. A group of 2d4+2 merchants are sitting around a campfire, talking about their business and how much money they make from it. They are obviously lying about how much money they make, since they are obviously not that rich. They are also obviously drunk and will soon pass out from drinking too much wine and beer.
  10. Three men are standing on the shore, talking to each other. They are talking about how much money they have lost gambling and how they have no more money to gamble with anymore and how they are going to have to find a way to get more money somehow.
  11. A man is standing on the shore, yelling at a crocodile which is lying in the water in front of him, obviously trying to warn it not to eat any more people.
  12. Loon attack! The players hear a commotion above them. They see a giant flock of loons. The loons dive at the players.
  13. A giant turtle with a shell the size of a small house swims by. The turtle has a small raft attached to it. The raft has a small house on it. It’s the home of a small family of halflings.
  14. A large, floating log with a few men sitting on it. The men look like they have been lost at sea for a long time. The players can help them or not. If they help them, the men will tell them about an ancient shipwreck full of treasure that sank just offshore.
  15. A group of men with boats and nets are fishing in the river. If players approach, the men will scream and holler at the players to stay away from the water. They will tell them about a legendary kraken that lives in this part of the river.
  16. A man named Berron sits on a log floating down the river. He is lost and has been wandering this area for years. If players talk to him, he will ask them to help him find his way home to the nearby village of Ken’zak’nor’zuk.
  17. The party is attacked by 2d6 giant frogs that jump on their bodies and begin to eat their flesh.
  18. The party hears a roar like a waterfall coming from downstream. They see a waterfall ahead of them. An elephant the size of a small house is drinking from the falls and then walks back into the jungle.
  19. A group of men with spears, shields, and banners are hunting for a lost friend. They attack the players thinking that they are a threat to their hunting grounds.
  20. A group of men with spears, shields, and banners are hunting for game. They will ask if the players have seen a group of men with spears, shields, and banners from their village. The men have been missing for days. The players can help them find their friends or not.
  21. A group of men with spears, shields, and banners are hunting for game. They will ask if the players have seen a man named Berron who has been wandering this area for years. He’s lost and has been wandering this area for years
  22. Sudden rain causes flash floods in the river, requiring the players to dodge large logs, branches and debris washed down from the mountains.
  23. The PCs encounter a group of 2d6 halflings swimming across the river. They are carrying large sacks of goods and are heading east to the nearest town. They are very excited to see the players and will offer them a large sack of gold if they help them swim across the river.
  24. A group of 3d6 bandits attack the PCs while they are crossing the river. There is a 60% chance that they are actually a group of deserters from the army.
  25. A giant crocodile attacks the party while they are crossing the river. It attacks from below and any PC who is swimming in the river will be attacked by its club tail attack. The crocodile is a colossal creature and cannot be killed without a +3 magic weapon that has been blessed by a priest.
  26. A group of 2d6 javelin-throwing goblins attack the players while they are crossing the river. They are on a small raft with a large net and will attempt to catch players in the net and throw them into the water so they can be eaten by their crocodile who is hiding beneath the water.
  27. A group of 2d4+4 bandits are crossing the river to hide in a nearby cave. They are very surprised to see the players and will attack them while they try to cross the river. If the players make it across, there is a 50% chance that they will find a large pile of gold and jewels hidden in that cave which is worth 100d6x10 GP worth of treasure.
  28. A group of 2d4+4 goblins attack the players while they are crossing the river. They are on a small raft with a large net and will attempt to catch players in the net and throw them into the water so they can be eaten by their crocodile who is hiding beneath the water.
  29. A group of 2d4+4 humans swim across the river to hide in a nearby cave. They are carrying an injured member and are very surprised to see the players and will attack them while they try to cross the river. If the players make it across, there is a 40% chance that they will find a bag of 100 silver pieces worth 5 gp each hidden in that cave which is worth 100 gp each if sold in that area.
  30. The river becomes shallow, requiring the players to wade through water up to their knees. If they wade too deep, there is a 10% chance that they will be attacked by a swarm of green dragon scales (1d20).
  31. The PCs encounter a group of 2d6 elves swimming across the river. They are riding atop large crocodiles which they have tamed and trained to serve as mounts across water and on land.
  32. Nixies threaten a nearby small village with their evil magic. They are demanding tribute in the form of gold and silver. They also demand that they be fed a young child each week. The village is in terror over this.
  33. A small village is terrorized by a dragon who lives in the nearby hills. The villagers know that the dragon lives in the hills, but they do not know where the dragon’s lair is located. The dragon demands tribute in the form of 1d6 young adult villagers each month.
  34. 1d3+1 crocodiles are hunting the river for food. They are not interested in fighting. They are just looking for something to eat.
  35. 1d4+2 crocodiles are fighting over territory, food, or mates.
  36. 1d4+2 crocodiles are fighting over territory, food, or mates. They are interested in fighting anyone who gets too close to them – especially if those people try to get past them.
  37. 1d4+2 crocodiles are fighting over territory, food, or mates. They are interested in fighting anyone who gets too close to them – especially if those people try to get past them. In addition, there is a 30% chance that one of the crocodiles is a rogue crocodile – a powerful crocodile who was once a wizard who was turned into a crocodile as punishment for misdeeds by a angry sorcerer.
  38. A group of villagers are transporting goods downriver to a nearby city. The goods are valuable and are being transported by boat because it’s safer than traveling by road. The boat is guarded by 1d6 mercenaries who are standing watch while the villagers sleep.
  39. A group of villagers are transporting goods downriver to a nearby city. The goods are valuable and are being transported by boat because it’s safer than traveling by road. The boat is guarded by 3d6 mercenaries who are standing watch while the villagers sleep. In addition, there is a 20% chance that one of the mercenaries is a rogue mercenary who will try to rob the villagers and steal the goods if given the chance.
  40. A group of villagers are transporting goods downriver to a nearby city. The goods are valuable and are being transported by boat because it’s safer than traveling by road. The boat is guarded by 4d6 mercenaries who are standing watch while the villagers sleep. In addition, there is a 25% chance that one of the mercenaries is a rogue mercenary who will try to rob the villagers and steal the goods if given the chance.
  41. A group of villagers are transporting goods downriver to a nearby city. The goods are valuable and are being transported by boat because it’s safer than traveling by road. The boat is guarded by 5d6 mercenaries who are standing watch while the villagers sleep. In addition, there is a 30% chance that one of the mercenaries is a rogue mercenary who will try to rob the villagers and steal the goods if given the chance.
  42. Jugglers and Bards. Players see two jugglers and two bards performing on the bank of the river. The bards are singing about their adventures. The jugglers are very good at their profession. The bards want to join the party. They are actually bards from a rival troupe who have been cast out because of their lack of talent.
  43. A merchant is selling maps of the area. He has a map of the dungeon, but he refuses to sell it because he does not trust players. He’ll sell the players a map of the area instead. If the players are dishonest, he will refuse to do business with them in the future.
  44. The party comes across a group of 3d6 elves and 3d6 humans fishing in a small boat. If the players approach, the elves will throw their fish into the water, and they will swim away as fast as they can. The humans will ask the players to help them catch fish. The party can approach or not depending on their preferences.
  45. A group of 3d6 humans are sitting around a campfire, telling scary stories about the dungeon nearby. They offer to tell the players a story if they want to hear one. The story they tell is actually a story about the local area, but it’s scary enough to be memorable.
  46. A group of 2d10 humans are gathering wood for a bonfire. They are doing it in hopes of stopping the attacks by the nearby owlbears.
  47. A group of 2d4 elves are chopping down trees for firewood. They are doing it in hopes of stopping the attacks by the nearby owlbears.
  48. A merchant is selling a magic item that allows the user to breathe underwater if submerged for one hour per level of the user. The merchant is selling it for 100 gp. If anyone asks him about it, he will say: ‘Yes, it’s a magical item that allows you to breathe underwater, but it’s not as good as the item I have in my personal collection.’
  49. A merchant is selling a magic item that allows the user to breathe underwater if submerged for one hour per level of the user. The merchant is selling it for 100 gp. If anyone asks him about it, he will say: ‘Yes, it’s a magical item that allows you to breathe underwater, but it’s not as good as the item I have in my personal collection.’
  50. A group of 1d12+2 humans are gathering wood for a bonfire. They are doing it in hopes of stopping the attacks by the nearby owlbears.
  51. A group of 1d12+2 humans are sitting around a campfire, telling scary stories about the dungeon nearby. They offer to tell the players a story if they want to hear one. The story they tell is actually a story about the local area, but it’s scary enough to be memorable.

Want More DND River Encounters?

If you want more random river encounters, head over to Random Encounters AI, my DND random encounter generator. And if you need an NPC or three, check out NPC Generator AI. I’ve been using GPT-3 from OpenAI to generate RPG content for a few years now.

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Paul Bellow

LitRPG Author Paul Bellow

Paul Bellow is a LitRPG author, gamer, RPG game developer, and publisher of several online communities. In other words, an old school webmaster. He also developed and runs LitRPG Adventures, a set of advanced RPG generators powered by GPT-3 AI. Here at LitRPG Reads, he publishes articles about LitRPG books, tabletop RPG books, and all sorts of DND content that's free to use in your personal tabletop campaign - i.e. non-commercial use. Enjoy your stay and reach out on Twitter or Discord if you want to make contact.