A d100 list of found objects, unexpected sights, and strange encounters for your players to discover while forging paths through frigid, forlorn ice caverns.
Creaks and cracks echo through worm-like tunnels deep under the ice.
Melting ice on the surface of a glacier can find its way down crevices and moulins (cylindrical tunnels that are nearly always vertical and can be miles deep), eventually exiting at the glacier’s snout. This water flow raises the temperature at the glacier’s base, melting the ice and creating pockets of air. Other processes, such as warm air currents and rainfall in warmer seasons, can cause further melting. This enlargement of the air pockets eventually creates glacier cave systems throughout the ice which can stretch from the base of the glacier to its surface far above. Glacier caves can also be formed and expanded by volcanic and geothermal vents.
Glacier caves are some of the most remote and unstable caverns. For adventurers, they are places of constant danger with collapsing ice, rapid water flows, and slick pitfalls. Ancient relics and monsters can be frozen for centuries in these caves only to be unleashed on the world during a seasonal melt. They could be found in the depths of the arctic, on top of volcanoes, or over frigid ocean water. What mysteries and long-lost treasures will your adventurers find frozen in them?
When using this list, feel free to choose any options you particularly like. You can also let fate decide and roll a d100. Every fifth option in the list is more consequential than the rest, so roll a d20 and multiply by 5 if you want to ensure a truly unique encounter for your party.
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1. Abandoned climbing gear: pitons, ice picks, and some travel rations.
2. A dark blue frog. It is devouring a snow hare in its sharp fangs.
3. The remains of a dweorg treasure hunter. They appear to have died from hypothermia. A half-torn treasure map is clutched in their frozen fist.
4. A pale, carved bone totem of a wolf. Its eyes are twin agates.
5. [Encounter] Burial mounds with zombies lurking underneath. They are arranged in a circle around another larger burial mound. A fanatical wight rests under this larger mound. If the party disturbs them in any way, the undead rise and attack.
6. An adventurer’s pack. It has a deck of playing cards, a broken lantern, and a frozen beef shank (1 unit of stock if thawed).
7. Eerie howling echoes through the cavern. Lupine shadows seem to move inside the ice overhead.
8. An old letter covered in frost. It mentions a lost crown that grants its wearer untold power.
9. The tracks of a large cat. The cat seems to have six legs.
10. A steaming pool of water. It is heated by geothermal vents from deep in the earth. Bathing in the pool heals characters as if they drank a potion of healing and removes any hypothermia the characters may be suffering from.
11. A spear driven into the ice wall. Deep cracks have spread around it. The cracks bleed black.
12. Winter boots. They still seem to be in decent condition.
13. A child-sized igloo. Inside is a fur blanket and a wooden toy knife.
14. Melting ice creates a miniature rainfall in the cavern.
15 [Encounter] A massive, scarred polar bear. It does not take kindly to territorial intruders.
16. An orange-white sparrow frozen inside the ice. If freed, it flies away, trailing sparks.
17. Spires of blue ice stretch from the floor to the ceiling. They seem to be made of enchanted ice that does not melt.
18. A half-full bottle of mead. Drinking the entire bottle grants advantage on the next saving throw to withstand hypothermia.
19. The wreck of a dinghy. A barrel onboard holds frozen fish (6 units of stock if thawed).
20. A moulin that appears to stretch from the base of the glacier to its surface. The sides can be climbed with the appropriate gear but aren’t very stable.
21. Fresh flowers cover the floor of the cavern. They are dusky orange and fill the air with the smell of apricots.
22. A large tree. Its branches stretch into the ice overhead, passing through it as if it were not there. Leaves grow and sway on the branches inside the ice. It is regular, solid ice for the party members though.
23. A warhammer stuck in an ice block. Wrenching it free will not be easy and may damage the weapon if characters are not careful.
24. Bats with white, thick fur hang from the ceiling. They drink blood but only attempt to do so while the party is asleep.
25. [Encounter] A frost giant who was having a wonderful dream until the party stumbled into their lair.
26. A wooden sled. It is slightly worn and large enough for two medium-sized creatures.
27. A bag of bright red berries. They are edible (2 units of stock), but those with weaker constitutions may find them hard to keep down.
28. A dead campfire. A bedroll, cooking pan, and pack of rations (1 unit of stock) lie nearby. There are also shards from a shattered, ornate clay mug scattered about the site.
29. A severed, frozen troll arm, its claw stretched. Icy ambient magic has suffused it, limiting its regeneration. It can be used as a heavy club that can grapple its targets. Knowing trolls, the previous owner of this arm has probably grown another one already.
30 [Encounter] An ice troll! It looks like it recently won a fight with a cave bear and is in the process of growing an arm back.
31. A broken canine tooth. It is hard to tell what it belonged to. Based on the size it must’ve been something very, very large.
32. A steam flowing beneath a sheet of ice underfoot. Small, translucent fish can be seen swimming in the water.
33. Gold flecks in the ice wall. They can be chiseled or melted out.
34. An ice chandelier hangs from the ceiling. Cold, blue flames shine within it.
35. [Encounter] A garden of blue and white flowers with a frigid stream running through. It is tended by an old witch who has a number of dryads and awakened trees under her command. She invites the players to rest in the garden and has a variety of potions for sale. If the party behaves rudely, she will set her gardeners on them and vanish in a burst of cold, sweet-scented air.
36. A pyramid of glass orbs stacked to about eye height. Taking an orb, even the top one, causes the whole structure to collapse.
37. Laughter echoes through the cavern and vaguely humanoid shadows appear to move within the ice.
38. The corpse of a pony. It has been torn apart, but not eaten. In a saddle bag nearby there is a blank scroll, a half-filled water canteen with frozen water inside, and a rusty pickaxe.
39. A literal breadcrumb trail. At the end is a severed humanoid hand clutching a clump of breadcrumbs.
40. A worn leather belt with a buckle shaped like a lion’s head. It is cursed. Any character that touches it attunes to it and immediately feels compelled to wear it. While wearing the belt, a character no longer feels shame.
41. Crossbow bolts are stuck in the ice wall at regular intervals. By climbing them, a character can reach a small, hidden ice ledge. A small, opened lockbox sits on the ledge. The only thing inside is a letter that reads “thanks for the jewels.”
42. A tent made of animal hides and furs. It is just big enough for two Medium-sized creatures to sit comfortably. A dimming lantern, satchel full of wrapped venison, arrow quiver, and bow are inside.
43. A ring of large stones with a strange totem at its center. The totem appears to be made of animal bones and antlers.
44. The party reaches a dead end. A soft voice says “finally, you have come” just before a section of the cave wall melts away, revealing a passage deeper into the cave system.
45. [Encounter] A horrific howl resounds through the cave as the abominable yeti that lives here catches the party’s scent.
46. A large hole in the cave floor expels hot, sulfuric air into the cavern. The ice directly above the vent is melting quickly. Resting helps shake off hypothermia.
47. A family of snow foxes. They scamper onto the ceiling and wait patiently for the party to leave.
48. A silver whistle resting among a pile of stones. Blowing into it creates no sound. At least, it creates no sound the party members can hear.
49. A lonesome male voice begins singing in an ancient, unknown language. Soon, a female voice joins in. Their singing is beautiful even if it is unintelligible.
50. Collapse! The cave begins to shake and rumble before large chunks of ice plummet from the ceiling. The party better hurry to a safer area if they do not want to be crushed!
51. An old stone well with a wooden bucket that can be lowered by a crank. It is impossible to see the bottom. If a character attempts to draw water using the bucket, they find the bucket has been torn off as they crank it back up.
52. A cluster of translucent fireflies.
53. A large stone with a colorful, patterned skull painted on it.
54. An ancient flute. Animal heads have been carved into it.
55. [Encounter] A crazed alchemist. They originally came to this cave in search of a rare, unseen alchemical component. They still have not found it and believes the party members know where to find the component, but are hiding it to make them look like a fool.
56. An iron bracelet designed to resemble a fish wrapping around the wearer’s wrist. It lets the wearer dive into ice as though it were water, but the ice remains dangerously cold.
57. A wooden bowl filled with dark, flammable oil.
58. Lodged far above in the ice wall is an ornate spear. Tied around its haft is a bright red scarf.
59. A single leather glove. Inside is a grumpy rat.
60. A door set into the ice wall. If the party enters, they find themselves in Filligin’s Alehouse. There are ice chairs and tables making up a small bar room. Filligan, a red-bearded human man, tends the bar. He is a jovial man who loves to talk about all the exciting customers he has had. When the party leaves, the door disappears behind them.
61. Incredibly lifelike statues of ice fill the cavern. There are humanoid ones along with deer, wolves, and other beasts. It is unclear why they have not melted.
62. A spelunker’s corpse and pack. Inside the pack are a week’s worth of rations (7 units of stock), an iron tea kettle, and a map leading to a lost treasure.
63. The ruins of a small village. Only the stone foundations and broken bits of rotting wooden furniture remain.
64. An owl. It follows the party and watches them intently with bright, blue eyes. It leaves after a few minutes of observation or if the party attacks it.
65. A bone and fur gauntlet floating at eye level. Intermittently, small flames and sparks erupt from its fingertips. It is cursed. Any character that wears it attunes to it. Wearing the gauntlet adds 1d8 fire damage to any attack they make with a weapon. However, when they do so they must roll a d20. On a roll of 1, the effects of a fireball spell occur as if it had been cast at the wearer’s location.
66. Long, slender icicles that stretch low enough to touch the party members’ heads hang from the ceiling.
67. The smell of brimstone and ash wafts through the cave. It grows increasingly stronger as the party continues.
68. The tunnel begins to slope upwards at a sharp angle and continues like this for another mile. The floor is slick from melting ice and characters will have be careful if they do not want to slip.
69. A damaged barrel holding carrots, brussel sprouts, and some carefully wrapped pork shoulders (8 units of stock). The food inside is surprisingly fresh.
70 [Encounter] The walls and ceiling of this have chunks of jagged ice on them. It is only after they begin to move that the party realizes they are surrounded by a pack of ice mephits.
71. A message in small pebbles. The pebbles are arranged to spell out “RUMBLE RUMBLE”. Once the party has finished reading the message a tremor shakes the cave, tossing the pebbles out of formation and erasing the message.
72. A small metal cage hangs from the ceiling by a chain. Inside the cage is a feral cat with white fur and purple eyes. The cat becomes fond of whichever character frees it.
73. A small hot spring. The scent of lemon fills the air.
74. One party member begins to sweat profusely, despite the cold air in the cave.
75 [Encounter] A salamander stranded inside the glacier cave. They have been cautiously looking for a way out of their icy prison.
76. A small apple tree. It has a few stunted apples (2 units of stock) on its branches.
77. A cracked hand mirror lying in a pool of water.
78. A fillet of river fish that has been carefully wrapped in dried leaves.
79. A deep hole in the ice wall. It looks just large enough for a character to stick their arm in. There is nothing inside.
80. [Encounter] A golem! Its body is composed of rock and ice. Have fun designing this stone-cold behemoth!
81. Hoof tracks from a family of goats. If the party follows them, they lead to a stream with clean water.
82. A bag of pears and pomegranates.
83. A light wind carries the smell of rotting meat and blood.
84. A crudely crafted miniature wooden house. Inside are to-scale wooden carvings depicting a family having dinner.
85. [Encounter] A pair of traders have set up camp in the cavern. They are really werebears who laid claim to trading rights in the area to prevent other, less-scrupulous traders from ransacking their territory. They are generally kind and welcoming to the party unless they or their land are threatened.
86. A half-empty bottle of rum. It has a citrus aroma.
87. A pile of bones. Some are identifiable as humanoid, but others look like they came from animals.
88. A signpost reads “Filligin’s Alehouse”. It points towards the solid ice wall.
89. A small stone hut. Smoke rises from the chimney, but it is empty and nearly barren inside. The only things remaining are a chair, fur rug, and the lit fireplace.
90. A gnome wrapped in furs is sitting outside of an igloo house. The gnome believes that he has discovered the secret elixir of immortality. He is wary of the party at first, believing they are after his secret elixir. If the party are kind enough to him, he offers them the recipe. The only ingredients are pears and pomegranates. The gnome has no idea what a pear is, though.
91. A jar with a viscous, red fluid inside. It is strawberry jam (1 unit of stock).
92. A scroll with an image of a boar drawn in an orcish tattoo style. If a character touches the paper, the tattoo magically transfers onto their arm. I can be removed easily by magic, but it does look pretty cool. Orcs might particularly appreciate it.
93. Fine sand covers the cavern floor. It is dark red and radiates a pleasant amount of heat, helping to prevent hypothermia when resting here.
94. A string puppet of a king. It is dirty, bedraggled, and missing a leg.
95. [Encounter] A pair of winter wolves that are really a pair of ancient druids. They have lived in this cave for hundreds of years together, spending most of their time as animals. They mean the party no harm but haven’t seen other humanoids in a decade at least and have trouble communicating that effectively.
96. A stylish, brass wax seal. It leaves an impression of a large oak tree.
97. Frozen in the ceiling is a massive ribcage that stretches the breadth of a wide cavern. The tips of the rib bones punch through the ceiling like teeth.
98. A glass marble. It has flecks of topaz and emerald.
99. A stone statue of a deity with a bear head and a humanoid body. A pile of dead salmon is stacked in front of it. The salmon vanishes if touched, which makes the statue emit a rumbling growl.
100. [Encounter] The air grows hot and humid as a remorhaz stirs beneath the party’s feet.