A list of 100 found objects, unexpected sights, and strange encounters for your players to discover whilst trekking through the muck, mire, and treacherous waterways of the swamp.
What mysteries and danger await within the swamp?
Written by John Teehan
When your player’s characters are forced to traverse a swamp, you know things are about to get weird, wet, and creepy. Swamps really do represent the whole circle-of-life concept where growth and decay exist side by side.
Swamps can be tricky to traverse given the many types of terrain and waterways. While some wetlands have fairly sturdy ground built upon centuries of layers of moss and rich soil, others are brackish waterways concealing many dangers. Channels through some swamps may have little to stand on save clumps of above-water roots and patches of grass with muddy soil.
The twisted trees grow in a tangle of branches and vines, competing for precious sunlight, but shrouding much of the ground in darkness. Who can’t help but feel a little uneasy?
Add to all of that slimy lichens, wet moss, suspicious fungi, and other exotic vegetation that could come alive at any moment, swamps surely aren’t for the faint of heart.
Characters traveling through your swamp may come across all manner of strange objects and sights. Some innocuous, some wondrous. Some mundane, and some inexplicably magical.How to use this list
This list of 100 things to find in a swamp is yours to use the next time your player’s characters make that unforgettable, wet journey across the marsh. Whether they’re treading carefully across damp, mossy earth, or wading hip-deep in waters hiding vicious creatures, this list gives them many additional items and sights to experience.
Review the list and pick out some favorites for your next campaign or take a chance and roll a d100.
Every fifth listed item is something more memorable if you want to get straight to the exceptional stuff, in that case, just roll a d20 and multiply by five to see what your players find.
d100 Swamp Finds
1. The rotting remains of a wooden barge. The wooden parts are weak and will not support much weight. The metal parts are rusted. The whole thing is covered with a slippery green sheen. It is home to numerous snakes.
2. A broken wooden wagon wheel. It looks maybe a month old. There are no roads nearby.
3. A frog wearing a tiny little crown. It swims or jumps away and disappears before it can be caught.
4. An old boot filled with brackish water. If players really dig into it, there are three gold coins in the toe.
5. A small stone that gives off a continuous soft greenish light. This is a permanent effect and is non-magical.
6. A severed skeletal hand (left) holding a more-recently severed hand (right).
7. A length of rusty chains hanging from a thick branch.
8. A moss-covered elf skull wedged in where a branch meets its tree.
9. A fixed illusion of a candle set atop a rotten log. Its flame gives off a soft light but emits no heat. Only a powerful spell of dispelling magic will cause it to disappear.
10. A simple straw broom. It gives off a magical aura. All it really does, though, is sweep better than any broom you’ve ever seen.
11. A sealed scroll case. Inside is an irritated venomous snake.
12. Buried in mud and grass, three alligator eggs.
13. A perfectly spherical ball of white marble measuring about a foot in diameter.
14. A rusted metal shopping cart. (I mean, why not? Have you ever seen a swamp without a random shopping cart stuck in it?)
15. A silver whistle that summons the nearest hostile creature.
16. The skeletal remains of a dwarven warrior. Its weapons and armor are all in varying stages of decay.
17. A bird on a nearby branch looks at the party, utters the word “Oops!” then flies off.
18. Vines producing white flowers surround an old tree. The scent is sweet and comforting.
19. A dwarven handaxe is sticking out of a tree. There are remains of hemp rope tied about its handle.
20. Characters hear a muffled sound coming from the ground. A little digging reveals a gold coin showing the head of a man who is always singing. The coin emits a loud operatic song in an unknown language that never, ever ends. Ever. High-level magic will remove the effect. Attempts to otherwise melt or destroy the coin are unsuccessful.
21. A hangman’s noose hangs ominously from a nearby tree branch. The rope is new and fresh. There are no signs of recent travelers.
22. Walking along, the ground makes a wet burping sound, and a small pouch filled with 30 gold (or silver) coins appears from beneath the visible surface. It’s damp and muddy but in otherwise good condition. There is no trap here. Nothing more than a previously buried bit of treasure appearing because swamp gasses have been slowly pushing it upward, and the presence of the party was just enough to reveal it. The ground is very soft but will take normal-weighted players just fine.
23. An old skeleton key, balanced upon a rock which in turn is balanced on a log which sits level upon the skeletal remains of a gigantic lizard-like creature (T-Rex)
24. A tree stump with a dozen arrows sticking out of it.
25. A perfect doppelganger of one of the party members hangs from a tree by a noose. As soon as any character touches it, the doppelgänger turns into water. Anyone caught in the splash zone will experience significant feelings of dread for the foreseeable future.
26. An empty wine bottle. Empty, that is, if you don’t count the rib bone. Expert, specialized knowledge might recognize it as the rib bone of a young female elf.
27. A large sack of old rabbit remains.
28. A ceremonial dagger with gold and pearl inlays. Valuable, but useless in a fight.
29. A heavy iron helm of the sort worn by dwarves a thousand years ago. Rust spots adorn it, but otherwise surprisingly durable and even wearable once cleaned.
30. Three spectral witches surround a spectral cauldron. They talk about some event that will happen to the party in the near future. As soon as the party interacts with them in any way, the ghostly figures shimmer away.
31. A porcelain teapot. Dirty and filled with muck, but in good condition.
32. A large petrified egg.
33. A wooden basket on which grow numerous mushrooms.
34. A tree festooned with bright purple flowers.
35. A strange clockwork humanoid-shaped figure is sprawled on the ground. It’s made entirely of wood—wood which has decayed to the point of pure interoperability. It’s impossible to make out how it worked because it’s so rotted and wet.
36. A feral chicken.
37. A deer hide stretched between two trees.
38. A large cast-iron cauldron half-filled with brackish water. At the very bottom is a human finger with a silver ring (non-magical).
39. A pile of enormous feathers in the middle of a jump of grass forming an empty, abandoned nest.
40. A silly-looking mud creature comes out of the ground and attacks the party. It does very little damage but is impervious to physical attacks. Fire or ice spells will slow it down, but as it’s bound to this area, players can simply move out of range and continue on their way.
41. A bag of squirrel bones
42. A pile of smooth stones carefully stacked 10-high.
43. The image of a sword floating in a pool of green water. It’s an illusion, and disturbing the water makes it disappear.
44. Fifty or so small peep toads chirp loudly inside a hollowed-out log. It’s very crowded in there, and the acoustics make them very, very loud. Repeated banging on the log will gradually break up the party and quiet things down.
45. A small wooden bowl floats in a pool of brackish water. Water that is placed in the bowl is purified, and any poisons are removed.
46. A hat. Looks kind of new.
47. An impenetrable wall of thorny vines 10 feet high, 20 feet thick, and stretching across the players’ path for a good mile in both directions.
48. A leash for a three-headed dog?
49. A decaying hand reaching up piteously from the center of a bog. Should the party investigate further, they may find a remarkable preserved (but still dead) merchant robbed of his valuables.
50. A jeweled chalice sits in a clearing. Sun (or moon) light shines down on it in a majestic shaft of light. It gives off a magic aura. It’s power? Summoning a majestic beam of glowing light. Outdoor use only.
51. A rotted wooden crate covered with moss and glowing white mushrooms.
52. Small blue flowers hanging from vines that make little bell-like sounds when disturbed.
53. A bird whistles a portion of a well-known piece of church music then flies off.
54. A broken drum.
55. A long-forgotten skeleton wearing rotting leather armor sits propped up against a tree. Around its neck is a compass that always points to danger.
56. A half-buried hurricane lamp. Water has leaked into the oil reservoir, and the wick is waterlogged.
57. A large boulder sits improbably in the middle of the swamp. It weighs as much as one would expect, but also floats in the water. It’s too large to get far, though, given brush and trees.
58. A skillfully stuffed squirrel dressed as a wizard.
59. A small, waterproof pouch filled with a dry, white powder. (Chalkdust)
60. Spiders. Ohmigod. So very many little black spiders start attacking from every direction. They get inside clothes and armor. They bite. Not deadly, but enough bites will slow a character down for 24 hours. Killing them only attracts more. The only strategy is to move out of the area. It would be a shame if a DM put something intriguing there for the players to investigate.
61. A torn leather map depicting the area between the nearest settlement and this area of swamp.
62. A leather-bound journal with severe water damage. Unreadable. If restored by magic, it reveals the writings of a bard who has gotten lost in this swamp and fears is being followed by something hungry and evil.
63. A small, flat-bottomed boat. It can hold two people but will break if used in any way other than gently.
64. A rusty sprung bear trap. In its metal jaws is the foot of some kind of humanoid.
65. A small pool of water gives off a comforting glow. Within 15 feet of its edges is a very calming version of a zone of truth.
66. In the branches of a tree are signs of people having taken refuge there for a long time. There are old claw marks up and down the trunk of the tree.
67. Two left shoes made of leather. They’re high-quality shoes, but covered in muck and filled with mud. Inside one shoe is a small fragment of bone.
68. A doll’s head just…just laying there out in the open.
69. An unexpected and unseasonably cold breeze that lasts a full minute.
70. A long broad pipe peaks out of a leather bag. It’s in good condition. When used with any tobacco, there is a 50% chance the smoke reveals whispy versions of places known to the smoker and what is currently happening there. User can attempt this three times a day, but can only have one success.
71. Out of all the surrounding trees, there is one that is absolutely covered in cobwebs.
72. A large, locked wooden chest containing several sets of fine clothing wrapped in waterproof canvas.
73. A full, complete skeleton of a draft horse covered in moss.
74. A single footprint of an improbably large three-toed creature.
75. Stuck in the ground is a mysterious wand. Any player can use it. It has one unrecoverable charge. Its spell is unknown. (DM’s discretion)
76. A pamphlet describing the next settlement or structure the players are going to.
77. The ground gives way to a sucking bog that begins to drag everyone under!
78. The smell of rotten eggs.
79. Set atop a log is an hourglass with no sand and a small note that reads, “Time is running out.”
80. A fearsome creature of muck and mud rears out of the ground, towers over the party, lets out a mighty roar, then collapses and disappears.
81. A sealed, water and air-tight box containing dried meats and fruits.
82. 13 walnuts arranged in a circle on the ground.
83. An empty quiver hanging from a tree branch. A bird is living inside.
84. A glass jar with a sealed lid. If the jar is broken or the cover is removed, the party hears a burst of hideous laughter that fades away after a few seconds.
85. A body is found tied to a tree. It’s long dead, and its chest is full of arrows as if it were the subject of an execution. On a finger is a cursed ring. Those accompanying the wearer suffer disadvantage on _all_ rolls until the player is dead. (The wearer does not suffer the same penalties. The ring can only be removed by death, cutting off the finger, or potent magic.)
86. A crude humanoid figure erected on a stake made of dried vine and mud blocks the way. A warning?
87. A feral black cat in a tree.
88. A small harp with no strings.
89. An unsuccessful campfire setup.
90. A goblin skull sits on the ground. Scratched in the dirt before it is the word “ask.” The skull will answer three questions (in goblin) at DM’s discretion before crumbling into dust.
91. A gold coin nailed into a tree.
92. A pile of dead fish. Probably not more than a day old.
93. A flock of crows sit on nearby trees and begin cawing loudly as the party approaches. A random party member’s name can be heard among the cawing. Then the crows all take off at once and fly away.
94. A small, long-forgotten stone shrine to a moon deity.
95. A vial of blue liquid is hidden in a hole in an old tree. Most likely, some kind of healing potion.
96. An eyeball to an unknown creature floating in a pool of black water.
97. An old steel gauntlet sized for something much larger than human.
98. A bolt of linen decorated with gold thread. The outer layers are pretty much ruined, but the inner parts are salvageable.
99. The remains of a shark-like creature approximately 10 ft long.
100. On an old, large tree are carved all the party members’ names who are not elves. Any members who have died have been crossed out. Any members who are just missing have a check next to their name.
Have fun mucking about in the muck!