1d20 Strange Things in Desolate Places

1d20 Strange things in Desolate Places

  1.  A man stands on a hill in the midst of a storm. He seems larger than he ought to be, his stance, confrontational, his hands clenched into fists. Lightning strikes the ground about him, but he does not flinch. If you attempt to speak to the man, he will fix you with diamond eyes and say, "God has already taken everything from me. He can take nothing more." Lightning will strike him in that instant, like a pillar of annihilating light and there will be no sign of he man. Perhaps he has been taken up to heaven. Perhaps God took his life.
  2. There is a red light blinking on the mountain. It seems you can go for hundreds of miles and still see it blinking, a steady rhythm, like the beating of a heart, a single point of unchanging order in a world of chaos. Climb up the knife-face of the mountain. Slash your flesh against the rocks. Break your bones on the heights. When you arrive you will find the light atop a metal tower: nothing more than an ancient tower of steel and the single blinking light.
  3. A sparkling white creature, long and perfect, with wise eyes deep blue as the sea, breathes its last breaths, scarlet runs down its sides from a thorny blade that has been coiled about by blooming flowers. Where the blood touches flowers bloom and grass grows. The creature asks you to remove the blade. It says this will permit it to die. "All good things will pass away. This serves the highest good." If you have the courage to draw out the blade, the beast will turn into butterflies. You will learn a potent truth about the world and hold a blessed weapon.
  4. An oasis where predators and prey are held in peace while they all drink from the precious water. There is something sparkling beneath the water. The beasts will defend it.
  5. An ancient billboard has nothing left but a faded eye and the word: "Watch!" It is a powerful command and many pilgrims sit here in obedience, waiting to see what they are promised to see. Some have died in their watch. Their fellows prop up their bodies so their corpses can see... whatever it is they are meant to see. Some may hold valuable relics and amulets on their persons.
  6. There are giants in the midst, towering silhouettes with long thin legs, heedless of the tiny beings below them, utterly silent but for a gentle hum. Even their footfalls make no noise and leave no mark. They may speak a word if disturbed that you will never understand yet always remember. They might fix you with a gaze that makes you weep with all the sorrow of the world. They might offer you a ride.
  7. Emaciated forms are tied to strange symbols like circles and spirals and arrows. They are mostly alive. They will beg to be let down before the god that lives in the cliffs comes down and eats them.
  8. Glittering white crystals bloom from the rocks here. Any who breathe in the air near these crystals will bloom themselves and leave behind white crystals and white bones. 
  9. More butterflies than you can ever imagine swarm a large wicker cage hanging from a tree, feasting on a corpse within who has a sack of coin and an exquisite weapon on it. The butterflies have taken a liking for flesh and may prove a hazard.
  10. A great hole in the ground, utterly black like the void, seemingly without bottom. As you stand at its edge, a little voice somewhere in your own mind says, "Jump. Do it. You know you want to."
  11. A cart stands out in the middle of the desert. There is no horse or other means of pulling the cart. The covered wagon has a sign that just says, "Mumbo the Magnificent" above a little window with a red curtain covering it. As you approach, the curtains part and a stage lights up, revealing a puppet, a gray-wooden puppet in a red suit with lifeless eyes and a gaping jaw. On his head is a turban. In front of him is a crystal ball. He will answer each question with a question. With each answer, the feeling grows larger and more certain that something about one's own future is changing in a terrible way, as if doors are closing and the path is narrowing towards some terrible fate.
  12. A patch of land in a dry place. Crabs scuttle away into the sand as you approach. Jellyfish lay half-dead. Fish rot in the sun. Indeed, these are not normal sea creatures but the remnants of creatures that seem more primal, as if the sea of a long forgotten age appeared here for but a moment and left behind some of its inhabitants. What else came with it?
  13. Though all around there is land perfect for farming, there is no sign of human habitation, perhaps there was long ago, but the fields have overgrown and nature has retaken her own. Yet, in the distance there is an incredibly tall tower, geometric and brutal, all harsh angles and intimidating domination of the skyline. Who lives or lived in this tower that could house a city? Why have they abandoned the land?
  14. A green tree in an otherwise desolate place. Though the surroundings may be uncomfortable, in the shade of the tree it is peaceful and utterly comfortable, like there would be nothing better than resting beneath these branches and taking a lovely nap. However, time runs together as one is lost in the beauty in this place, while all around you ages pass. Kingdoms rise and fall. The land becomes green again. New rivers flow over barren crags. You can turn away from this new world, return to the age you once new, but you know you have turned your back on eternity for your paltry present.
  15. The shattered monument of a great empire. There is a tablet where it is written: "I am Ozymandias, King of Kings. Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!" Nothing beside remains. The lone and level sands stretch far away.
  16. There is a pale and lifeless valley with countless nooks in the sides of its walls where once people lived their whole lives in solitary prayer and meditation of a gray god. Many of their bodies remain where they lived, mummified by the white dust and arid winds.
  17. Bodies hang from a tree. Each is marked with a sin in vibrant red ink. Only those who have totally rotted away are free from the scarlet stain.
  18. There is an old temple whose shadows stretch long over the sands that come to claim what remains of this ruin. Yet, there is something defiant, desperate about how this ruin clings to the surface, refusing to be totally forgotten. The shadows of this place will relive the past in your bodies, will drag you down into the sand in vengeance for their inevitable passing out of time.
  19. An ancient battlefield. There is no sign of victory. Now all are lost. Yet, something of the rage of that battle remains, a scar in time, screaming and clashing, ally and enemy bound together into a hideous amalgam at war with it self and all things. It has forgotten how to die.
  20. A white horse canters past you before taking off towards the setting sun. The land is desolate for now, but perhaps there is hope. Perhaps these dry bones can live again. Perhaps a river will spring up in this wilderness. Perhaps something new will be here, someday. One can only hope.


  1. I like 10 in particular, but all of these are good. Could slip them into many kinds of weird crawls, evocative and easy to riff on.

  2. As Maxcan7 said, it is very useful for many different scenarios. Thank you for posting this.

    1. Thank you Kyana! I think the main thing I wanted to do was just to be as evocative as possible to provide plenty of inspiration.


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