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Six Random Encounters Whilst Fording a River

Not all rivers come with bridges! The classic means of crossing was via a ford. But what if the water is knee deep and moving swiftly? Got a d6 to hand? Well then, here's a table of random fantasy rpg encounters for you to use. Enjoy!


Fox and Scorpion As the party start to cross, they see that there is a fox swimming across the river just upstream of the ford with a scorpion on it’s back. Halfway over the scorpion stings the fox which is paralysed by the poison and sinks under the water whilst the scorpion is washed away.

DM Notes

As this has happened upstream of the ford a character could attempt to dive into the water at the fording point and attempt to grab the fox’s body. If they move fast, they have a 60% chance of catching the body. Two characters trying together would add a 10% chance. Assuming it is caught the poison will wear off in half an hour at which time the fox can talk in a limited fashion and will thank its rescuers. In return, it can provide one useful piece of information about the land ahead. Its final comment before walking off is ‘remember this; people often can’t help following their inner nature’.


Unseen Branches Unknown to the party a tree fell into the water and its branches are splayed out in the middle of the ford. There is a chance that any non-fey (i.e. not super nimble) person crossing the ford will stumble and possibly catching their foot in the branches.

DM Notes

There is less chance of a stumble whilst riding so add 1 to the roll when the character is mounted. The river is too fast to swim across and the water comes up to knee-high on a normal-sized human.


  • 1-2 Leg trapped, the individual falls prone in the water and gets tangled resulting in being half-submerged and choking on the water. They also take minor damage to their leg. If riding they are thrown from their mount and end up similarly trapped and injured.

  • 3-4 Foot trapped, the individual slips into a crack between branches and is immobilised but only waist deep. If mounted their mount has suffered the same fate. It takes a few turns to free themselves.

  • 5-7 Lose item, unseen branches make the individual stagger and they lose a single non-essential item from their pack as they flounder in the water. Roll randomly for it. There is a 10% chance that they, or any companions behind them, notice the item floating away. Grabbing for the item has a 50% chance of them catching it but requires them to reroll on this table.

  • 8-11 Sure footing, unseen branches attempt to trip the individual but they (their mount) manage to find their footing and cross with ease.


Giant Otters Midway across one of the characters is hit by a particularly strong current. Just as they are about to topple over into the water, they feel a tug at their clothing and then a second and a third and something is holding them against the current. Looking down they see three giant otters clinging onto them and swimming hard against the current to stabilise them. With a significant effort, the otters can pull the character back and they may continue fording the river.

DM Notes

The otters continue to circle the party, swimming without effort in the fast-flowing waters. When the party reach the far bank, they bob their heads in farewell and dive under the water and out of sight.

  • Who are they?

  • These could simply be giant otters

  • They could be the reincarnation of rangers who have come back as giant creatures to protect the wild

  • They could be shapeshifters who patrol the river crossing

  • They could be the aspects of the wild given form


Wasp Log A rotten log floats down the river with a cloud of angry wasps buzzing around it. There is a 50% chance that two of the characters close to it will be stung by wasps and causing them to stumble as per #2 in this list.

DM Notes

Ducking under the water whilst the log passes will enable the characters to avoid the wasps.


Bobbing Bottle As the party ford the river a sealed bottle floats towards them. Its erratic course of bobbing and weaving is going to take it just within grasping distance of each member. (So, anyone who wants to risk it can try to grab it.) Grabbing for the bottle has a 50% chance of the individual stumbling as per #2 on this list.

DM Notes

In time-honoured tradition there is a note inside the bottle:

  • The note is watermarked and torn but appears to be a treasure map showing a small island with directions to something marked with ‘T’. There is no indication of which island.

  • The note is torn and written in dwarvish in what looks like blood. When translated it says ‘The Black Company are coming, warn Tanner, we must leave before the full moon.’

  • The note is in the form of a strip of wood with faint etchings on it. It is in an arcane language that none present can understand. It looks old.

  • The note is a sketched map of the local area, written in purple ink on a strip of bark. It indicates that there is a cave to the north and a danger sign has been drawn on it.


Tabitha The surface of the water is broken perhaps fifty feet from where the party are crossing and a long snout and two black eyes gives away the location of a giant crocodile. The crocodile watches the party for a while and drifts towards them flexing its huge jaws.

DM Notes

Pause to see how the party react then the following occurs.

A short woman with long bushy purple hair, dressed in tight-fitting travelling leathers emerges on the far bank and calls out something in an unknown language. The word ‘Tabitha’ is said sharply at the beginning and end of her sentence. On hearing the word a second time the crocodile looks around sharply and then almost sheepishly rolls onto it’s back and swims over to the bank closest to the woman. She appears to be scolding the creature as it emerges from the water and waddles alongside her into the undergrowth.

As she is about to disappear into the tree line she looks back and shouts in a common tongue

“Apologies, she’s a naughty girl, she was just playing”

She will not stop to engage in extended dialogue (she has places to be) although potentially the players could exchange a quick question or two with her.


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Picture Credits

Manipulation: The Grinning Frog team


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