This installment of Adventure Seeds brings us through a winding mountain pass that sees a lot of traffic among merchants and travelers. I wanted another “on the road” set of seeds that could be placed anywhere and shift between pockets of civilized company and untamed wilderness.
As I continue to work on non-civilized seeds, like last year’s Frozen Wastes, I continue to find it easier to write them. The setting of a mountain pass is great as it contains different layers that I can play with. You have the lower levels, likely temperate and full of easy trails. You can go up a bit with howling winds, winding roads, and dangerous tunnels. And then you have the very top, where icy winds whip across your face, visibility is limited, and unknown monsters have all the advantage they could ask for. But while this is my vision, you should be able to adapt this to mountain passes not meeting this criteria in your game. Here are all the assumptions I made when writing these:
The mountain pass has multiple paths; some that are quicker and more dangerous, and others that are slower but safer.
No matter how many paths there are, there are only two sides of the pass, meaning you can only go from A to B on the path.
Caves and cave complexes are common, with both natural and carved tunnels making up parts of the pass.
The top of the mountain is snow capped and largely unexplored, and rumors of what creatures thrive up here are as common as they are ominous.
And now here are the adventure seeds:
A large boulder blocks the central path in a valley, and a hill giant stands by offering to lift it up temporarily for trade. The strange part is that he wants a flower that is very common in the area; some of them are growing 10 feet in front of him!
A local ranger offers to show travelers a shortcut, but some people don’t trust him. He went missing a few months ago and only recently reemerged much hairier than he used to be.
Due to overpopulation, hippogryphs has started nesting lower to the ground. This by itself isn’t a problem as they are not aggressive, but poachers have been showing up in droves and at least one altercation between poacher and traveler has left those involved with injury.
A mudslide recently affected a large part of the pass, making it hard but manageable to travel through. The worst part is small mud imps throw rocks and clumps of mud at those who pass through- not to hurt, just to harass.
After digging into the mountain in search of precious gems and metals, the dwarves have repurposed one of their mineshafts to act as a shortcut underneath the mountain. This seems like a good deal for those willing to pay a few gold, but the bent, unconnected steel and “jumps” that the minecarts need to make leave most people terrified and shaking after arriving on the other side.
Trolls who normally live at the top of the mountain have started coming to the lower depths to attack people, especially merchants, on the path. Rather than eat them and leave the shiny bits like they normally do, they’ve been stealing but allowing their targets to live, causing speculation of their new behavior.
Many openings to an underground cave network have opened up all throughout the mountain pass. Unfortunately, they serve no real purpose other than allowing subterranean predators to prey on those passing through on the surface.
Giant spiderwebs have been appearing all over the path, making all travelers worried about the size of the spider that must be making them.
Sights of a supposed dragon have all but halted travel through the mountain pass, stifling trade and causing some smaller communities to suffer. They are offering a collective reward for anyone able to kill or drive off the scaled menace.
There has been an increase of monsters that disguise themselves as rocks such as stalagmites and stalactites within a certain cave and even outside of it. These have always existed, but the quick uptick in sighting and encounters with them has locals questioning why and how this could have happened.
Travelers speak of a thick-furred monster attacking them near the top of the mountain pass. One survivor asks anyone willing if they could retrieve a lost pendant that was torn from them while running from this creature.
A new, mysterious cave passage saves a lot of time for anyone willing to traverse it. No one knew who had carved it, until the giant ants started coming out of the walls and hunting those inside.
An overzealous earth elemental has begun restoring the parts of the mountain that have been carved for travel back to their previous state, undoing years of work. When asked why, they state that the merchants who travel litter and show no respect for the earth.
After mistaking a cave hosting stirges for a simple cave of bats, travelers who spent the night find themselves close to death and afflicted with a deadly disease. The local cleric says the only way he can create an antidote is with a few live stirges present.
During a particularly busy time for the pass, one of the mountains reveals that they have been a dormant volcano, suddenly bursting and causing all manner of life to search for refuge.
Bandits figured out that by hiding out high above paths that they can easily shoot at and intimidate passersby into give them their belongings. That is until orcs started climbing even higher than them and holding up both the bandits and the passersby.
After a series of small cave-ins, some kobolds have begun selling homemade explosives to any who will buy them. While nothing bad has happened so far, many wonder why they are being so helpful.
Supposedly, the top of the mountain is home to a holy pilgrimage site to a god of travel. While few bother venturing up there due to monsters and natural dangers, those who do claim being given a boon that grants them safety on the road.
A growing number of humanoid bones litter all parts of the pass, freaking out anyone who travels through. What might be creepier is that no one has been reported killed or missing since this has started.
A small group of goblins pester travelers, asking if they want to hire their band of adventurers as guards. Most people laugh at them and move on, leaving the goblins to sulk.
An ettin has been arguing with itself about whether to open up its personal tunnel to others for a price or to keep it closed. Somehow this has resulted in the ettin sitting in front of another path, refusing to move until it can be convinced one way or the other.
A particularly intense thunderstorm has swept through the pass recently. When a bolt of lightning stuck the peak of the mountain, it partially peeled away to reveal a giant, beating heart within.
A shaman living off the path has come out of solitude, looking for a curious set of spell components that would have to have come from halfway around the world. He won’t say why he needs them or what he is willing to trade for them, just that it’s a matter of life or death.
The same horse keeps appearing at one side of the mountain pass every morning. No matter if someone ties it up at night after riding on it or otherwise restraining it, it always ends up back at the start of the path without a saddle or other gear.
Harpies have somehow come into the possession of explosives, likely either bought or stolen from kobolds. They are using these new weapons by dropping them on travelers below, leading to an intense effort to eradicate these avian humanoids from locals.
As always, please let us know what type of adventure seeds you’d like to see next!
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