20 Port Town Encounters

By | 30th January 2018

Port towns are a hotbed of activity, most of which is centred around the sea since that’s where most people make their livelihood.

Below is a D20 table of random encounters that can be used to inject some life into the coastal towns and villages in your campaign.

Please note: Each of these would benefit from a bit of elaboration by the GM, nor do they apply specific game mechanics.

No.Description
1There is a cursing and swearing as a man unloading a boat drops a crate of fish and it spills all over the docks.
2A group of children are sat at the waters edge throwing stones, they've seen everything that has occurred in the area during the day and might be persuaded to part with the information.
3A smuggler runs through the dock area, leaping over crates and upending barrels as he tries to flee from the pursuing town guard.
4A battered ship limps into harbour, it is barely afloat and shows signs of having been attacked. Anyone speaking to the crew find out that their vessel was set upon by a pirate vessel flying the banner of a red skeletal hand.
5A bumper crops of fish have recently been hauled in, forcing down prices.
6High winds have roused the sea into a crashing frenzy of waves that lash the harbour, most locals have retreated to the safety of their homes or a tavern to wait for it to blow over, giving the dock area an eerie deserted feel.
7A local peddler is attempted to sell a seal-skin that he claims was taken from a Selkie, a creature that looks like a large seal but can become human by removing it's seal-skin coat.
8A ship's captain has a cargo if wine barrels that he needs loading, he's looking for some cheap labour willing to do the job in a hurry.
9The sound of a cannon rings out as a local sea-fortress marks the hour.
10A group of local folk are busily throwing wreathes of flowers into the sea, mourning the deaths of a boat of their kin lost in a recent storm.
11Due to a recent rise in smuggling there is a higher concentration of guards than normal in the port, causing great annoyance to the merchants as every consignment is being stopped and searched.
12A ship's Captain chases a bedraggled man clutching a red stone off his ship, the man attempts to bargain with the Captain claiming that he desperately needs passage, but it is to no avail.
13A small fleet of ships is gathering in the harbour, planning to go and hunt the dread pirate Robert Rawbones.
14An agitator loudly protests the recent rise in import taxes, a crowd is gathering around him and it wouldn't take much for this scene to turn into a riot.
15An old, mutilated sailor sits by the dockside staring wistfully out at the sea, for a few pennies he'll tell a story from his extensive store of old naval tales.
16A group of young sailors enjoying some shore-leave stand clapping one of their fellows as he plays a medley of popular sea shanties on his harmonica.
17A crowd of people are working on the shore to carve up and cart away the body of a large whale that washed up recently, scars along it's side attest to a terrible sea battle.
18A merchant stands beside a small stall that claims contains the body of a mermaid. For a small fee, passers by are allowed into the stall to view the shrivelled, preserved body of a creature resembling a combination of small monkey and fish.
19A group of merchants have arrived from a foreign land bringing unusual foods and trinkets with them, they unroll their wares from carpets at the dockside, to the astonishment of the locals.
20A fist-fight erupts between two groups of inebriated sailors, if nothing occurs to prevent it, after a few minutes the town guard turn up and break up the fight, dragging the worst offenders away to the town drunk-tank.

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