Traveling, and the random encounters therein are an integral part of the RPG experience, be it a face to face group at a table, a console or computer game, or a moderated PBeM game. While Where the Road may take you dealt with a group of low level PCs walking or riding along a road, this encounter scroll covers a group of PCs walking through a forest.
Ideally this should be a group of low level PCs, unmounted due to terrain, though horses or other mounts are not out of the question.
1.The Angry Bear
2.Romancing the Stone
4.The Slippery Slope
5.The Fertility Ritual
6.The Zealous Game Keeper
7.Romancing the Stone, Part II
8.Runes in the Bark
10.The Demolished Cabin
11.The Spirit Waterfall
12.The Other Ritual
13.The Troll Settlement
16.Men at work
19.Oh… I don’t feel so well…
21.Bearing the bear
22.The smell (1)
23.The smell (2)
24.The smell (3)
26.The Shadowy Heart
27.The Dark Circle
28.The Quick Brown Fox
This table of contents will be updated as new scrolls are added
Additional Ideas (33)
Bears are a common resident in many forests, from smaller black bears to the massive and intimidating grizzly bear. These animals are large predators, and are enormously tough. The Pcs happen upon a bear cub as they travel which quickly runs away squalling at the top of its lungs. Moments later the PCs are left to face a very irate Mother Bear.
To represent the rage of the mother protecting her young,t he bear gains a few stat boosts to make the encounter more challenging, such as damage reduction (say taking away the first two or five points of damage done in attacks on the bear) or a 10 to 15% resistance to magic, just to keep it interesting.
As the PCs approach the sound of a great commotion deep in a wooded clearing, they come upon a tied up runty satyr and two seedy looking men arguing quite loudly. It seems that the Satyr knows where one of the legendary Thrar stones could be found, or at least that is what the two treasure-hunters believe. They are getting ready to torture the young satyr into telling them its location. The PCs can react any number of ways. The truth of the matter, is the satyr has no idea what a Thrar stone even is, much less where one can be found, but if the PCs rescue the poor creature from the bullies, they would have his great appreciation, which may manifest itself in a later forest adventure or encounter.
One way or another the PCs find themselves in that "haunted" part of the forest, men call the Whispering Pines. The trees do indeed seem to "whisper" as they mysteriously rustle, even in times of little to no wind. This area is generally spooky and eerie, but absolutely nothing out of the ordinary happens as the PCs traverse this strange patch of wood. Unidentifiable sounds, strange glimpses, and general weirdness always seem to be present here, but this is nothing more than a a stretch of forest meant to freak out PCs, who are ofcourse bracing for the "worst" as they make their way among the Whispering Pines.
-Late autumn or early spring based encounter
The forest has shed its leaves which are now decaying on the ground. As the PCs are carefully making their way down a slope, the leaves slide due to the mud underneath and all of a sudden some of them* are sliding down the slope in full speed. Problem is that on the bottom is a gurgling river and if they cannot stop their slide in some way, they are going to end up quite wet. Particularly bad for armour clad warriors.
* Affects all those who does not make a balance check or similar.
In the midst of the forest, horns can be heard blaring and if the PCs choose to investigate, they will hear drums as they approach. Suddenly a naked woman, wild eyed and running, bursts from the bushes, followed shortly by two other naked women. The women yell something to the PCs, but due to stress or language difficulties the PCs can't quite get what the women said. The women will not stop and will have to be tackled if the PCs want to talk to them.
Half a minute later, eight men erupt from the same bushes. Their legs are drumming against the ground as they speed after the women. These men are also naked, save for fur hoods made of wolf, bear or deer with teeth and horns intact. If the PCs unsheathe, the unarmed men will wave their hands and run in a wide circle, giving them a wide berth. Otherwise they are gonna speed right through the group and continue their wild pursuit.
If the PCs do not intervene, three of the men will capture each their woman and make love to her on the spot, the other tribals cheering and yelling. Any PC knowledgable about the local tribes will know that this is an ancient ritual amongst the tribes. If a woman is impregnated by her hunter during this ritual, they will later be officially wed in front of the tribal chieftain. The ritual assures that the finest hunters will wed only women that aren't barren, and has secured the bloodline of the greatest hunters.
Should the PCs befriend the hunters, they will be allowed back into the impromptu ritual camp of the hunters. Here there is great revelry and boisterous drinking. The drummers will continue banging their drums and as the night falls the entire tribe will drink and sing their solemn hymns.
-Happens only if the PCs have caught and killed big game like deer or wild boar.
As it happens the game keeper of the local lord has found the site of the killing and discovered blood and remains of the slaughter. For hours or days he has been tracking the poachers (PCs) and finally he has caught up with them. He has his rangers surround the poachers while they camp and suddenly he will yell, demanding that the PCs surrender their arms.
If the PCs surrender, time in the dungeon of the keep awaits, if they do not they will be pelted with hails of arrows. The rangers are good marksmen and middling swordsmen and should give the PCs some pause. The game keeper himself is an old veteran and will give the PCs something to chew upon as he is still able to deliver quite a kick in spite of his advanced age.
Of course: Killing the game keeper will anger the lord and suddenly there will be a reward for the slayer(s) of the agents of his lordship. Unless the PCs steal easily identifiable items (like the ivory and shadow-wood composite bow of the game keeper) or they bring along the animal meat (for other people to see) there isn't really any big chance that they are going to be caught.
The runty satyr returns when the PCs least expect him. Perhaps a different forest? or quite some time later in the same woods. He proudly presents the PCs with one of the actual Thrar Stones! Runty claims that after the PCs saved his furry skin, the satyr inquired about Thrar Stones among his fellow forest dwellers. He was directed to an ancient elm, where one such rare stone could be found. He retrieved it, and now gifts it to the PCs for saving his life. Oh goody! A good deed, an appreciative and enterprising satyr, and now a reward!
One problem. This particular Thrar Stone is imbued with a curious taint. Whomever possesses it for some time, begins to long for the particular forest of its origin. The stone ever wishes to return to its elm, and no matter where or how far the PC travels, a controllable but nagging urge to return to "that place where we saved the satyr" is always felt. This can certainly vex fellow PCs.
The PCs stumble upon an ancient conferious tree with strange runes carved in spiralling patterns into the bark. Old, faded spots can be found on this bark and the PCs might discover that it is (human) blood.
The runes themselves read:
blood of man.
I summon him father.
blood of tree.
Bless my conjuring.
Bind him father.
call the beast.
The end of the text is unfinished, though it is clear that someone tried to finish it.
GM Note: The tree was prepared by a witch doctor as a part of a ceremony to call and bind a particularly nasty werewolf that had troubled the region for a while. The magic worked and works still, but was so effective that the werewolf was summoned before the text was finished. The poor shaman had to pay with his life and the magic of the runes bound the werewolf to the area where he lives still.
If the PCs arrive at this tree by fullmoon night they might find a large silvery wolf circling the tree, sniffing the bark while at other times an old and muscular man lives in the region, making his living as a lumberjack and operating from a forest cabin a quarter of a mile from this location. (They are of course one and the same).
Partially buried in the soil at the foot of the tree and covered with leaves are the remaining bones of the shaman as well as the now throughly rusted iron knife he used to carve the runes.
A regular clapping noise approaching them, soon a man in a dark cloak rides by on a large horse at maximum speed. The strange thing is, the terrain shouldn't absolutely allow such a ride - most likely the horse falling and breaking a leg. If anyone desires to pursue the rider (that will of course not stop soon), they can prepare for a terrible chase, endangering their own horse, and themselves, being grasped at by limbs of trees, and risking on every step - on foot it would take too long.
Eventually, the rider will slow down to a normal pace and will leave the forest for some large settlement, exhausted but satisfied. If caught up by that time, the young man will gladly and not without pride speak of the unique enchantment on the harness of his horse, that protects the animal and his rider from any accident. He, actually a messenger, is just testing it, and can't wait until it is officially available to him and his colleagues.
Of course, he is forbidden to speak of it, so too much asking will make him careful again. Should a less than honest character use the chance, he could gain the experimental harness (possibly with some quirks), and the attention of the military, that consider it their secret project. The high-quality harness is made of black leather, with some decorations that look cheaply, but are of real gold and silver threads. It might be easily stolen if the owner is not careful.
Coming upon a small open space between trees, there lies the remains of a small wooden hut or cabin, hopelessly broken into a heap of beams and timber. Observant PCs will easily notice that it didn't fall apart, but was demolished in some way. The trees around did not fall, nor are there obvious signs of axes or the like. What happened here?
Some exploring later, searching for traces and tracks will reveal a bear or a similar animal has crushed it. Whatever or whoever was inside seems to be gone. In a nearby village can they get the whole story, of a fool that went to live in the woods, found a bear searching for food in the morning, and the attempts to scare him away have him made actually so angry that he teared apart the lousy construction, with the fool barely surviving under the heap... managing to pull himself out two days later. The story was so liked, and the man made such a fun of, that he moved away a week ago.
(The story can be adapted, if there is a special creature around, particularly a dangerous one. May be a trace to it, or a red herring. The poor guy might have been the only one to see it and live, but nobody believed him and so he left, and must be found now, etc, etc, etc.)
A small river cascades ten metres down, ending in a large pool at the bottom of the waterfall. As the PCs make their way down they hear whispering voices giggle and laugh, but no one can be seen and the sounds seem to be coming from all around.
If the PCs should chance to peek into the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, they can glimpse female faces below the surface, bare skinned women of breathtaking beauty that wink and wave to them before they disappear into the mud beneath.
These are water spirits, 3 in number, and quite harmless, well mostly at least. They are unable to appear physically and can only be seen in the surface of the water (they would disappear should a PC dive after them). They have some control of the currents of the water and they can speak and sing, but mostly they just giggle and laugh.
The water spirits are sundered things, mostly benign but murderously mischievous at dusk and dawn. At these times they might tempt mortals to enter the waters and then use their powers to pull that individual beneath the surface, effectively trying to drown him. Only an exceptional swimmer, water magics or external help can aid such an individual.
The spirits change nature between night and day, even their laughter taking on a more somber (or eerie if you want) sound during the night. During that transition they are highly unstable.
It is a large clearing, with a few provisorial tents, some open fires, wagons and horses parked nearby. You see men and women of all ages, with a few venerable old people. Kids are running and playing in the forest around, and will certainly spot the characters before they do, running from them, shooting at them with imaginary arrows, and generally being a nuisance. The adults will be careful, but it's no secret it is the meeting of a large clan - and there is a certain likeness between most of them. Talking a little, the people will return to their own topics of aching backs, problem children and annoying neighbours. While no one would directly throw out the characters, and they may be offered to try some family recipes and personal favourites (some good, some bad), they will be slowly pushed aside, and should have enough sense to know they are not really wanted here. If they style themselves as amazing heroes, they may be given the task of watching the wagons (nothing of worth inside). Cooking and singing songs up to the late night, they'll eventually go to sleep.
Around midnight, the oldest men and a few women, the leaders of the clan, will gather and quietly leave. Entering a thickly grown area close to the clearing, they find something that wasn't there before (you can make it a special night, full moon, etc) - a large staring frog-like statue, that is actually a being of some sort... the elders have made a deal with it - it will protect the whole clan as well as it can, providing they keep the deal a secret, do not move too far away, and do not reach for too high positions. The payment is brought along - small bundles, with human children, one child of their own blood, or three unrelated children instead, that will be swallowed as a whole. The... creature may not be evil, but is certainly not a force of good. But for its part, it holds to the deal - a few of the men and women around are over one hundred years, with nobody in the family actually suffering of diseases or poverty, mostly dieing of accidents after a long and full life. The only problem (besides the need to get secretly a few babies) is the growth of the clan, which the creature in its quiet, deep voice bellitles. Accepting the current price, there will be negotiations about the price for the period, going into minute details of what protections will be guaranteed to the family. Over the two hundred years the family has been doing this, while it grew into a rather large clan, the period has shrunk from five years to every two years. The sacrifice stays the same, but even it may change eventually. A few black sheep, or branches of the family have been already removed from the protecting umbrella, and have suffered or fared well on their own. Perhaps the deal will turn out bad one day?
Credit goes to: Morgan, a former game master I've played with
As the PCs make their way through the dense trees of the forest, they suddenly can hear odd sounds somewhere far in front. "Gah-Gah-Gah! Ratsy-patsy-smash-bang!" is uttered by some gurgling voice and is accompanied by the squishing sound of something soft being slammed into something hard.
Then the trees become thinner and it is clear that some sort of cave is in front, leading down under a small hillock. In front of that cave is an ugly creature: A fledgling troll in his bear-skin diapers holding a rather dead giant rat by the tail. "Squishy-ratsy!" the child gurgles and resumes its slamming of the rat carcass into trees and rock, sqealing with delight as fragments of blood rain over its juvenile face.
The child is easily as tall as a 6' man even though it is sitting on its rump. Its strength is equal to that of two enraged barbarians and its wit a quarter of the intellect of aforementioned barbarian. If it can get its hands on a PC and begin its "squisy-game" with "new toys" it would be thrilled.
Inside the cave its mother is slaving over the cauldron, but will come to the aid of her child at an instance.
Father is not to be seen and has not been home for years (slain by valiant PCs no doubt). The mother talks a strange dialect of the PCs main tongue and can be reasoned with (not if her "gooly-goo" has been hurt). She is a mean adversary and quite skilled with the cleaver. If the child has been hurt in any way, she will go berserk and will fight even though she should be dead. She must literally be hacked apart.
It seemed like a great place to camp. The clearing was good sized and sheltered from the wind. The brook just a few feet away. There is a natural hallow to keep the horses.
Then the night came.
It was like it became a different place. The temperature dropped. The wind, which does not seem to disturb cloth, almost cuts through you like an arctic wind. No one can sleep, as the soft ground has turned hard. The horses are uneasy. The Bats are flying over and stopping in the trees.
And then there is the eyes. There are glowing eyes just inside the tree line watching your group. The mages and clerics can detect nothing, but there is still something there.
(yet there is nothing at all... The Darkness will do nothing unless the players do something to it. And even then it will all seem to be a conincidence.)
Of course, in the morning, it all becomes sweet and light.
The PCs come across a wild thicket of luscious looking blackberries. They eat the berries and become drunken fools. Later they find out that the berries were part of a fae garden and were intended for fae wine. In payment for stealing the berries, the mischievious fae make life inconvenient for the PCs. Horses are untied, water skins are drained, spare clothing is drug into the water, etc.
As the PCs travel the road, right after a bend they hear a sharp whistle and call: "Heeey, not so lazy, move your asses!" It is a large man that calls, and there are unwilling workers that listen. A small company, 10-15 men work on the road, push boulders aside, dig up roots from under the road, etc. The large man that shouted turns to you, smiles fast and mutters something under his breath, sounds like cursing some lazy worker. "Where does the road bring you from, travellers?" And does a little small-talk.
And what is really happening? A group of bandits is 'adapting' the road for shady purposes. The road will not be wider, but tighter, with enough cover around (and a few traps perhaps), and will become an ideal spot for ambushing travellers or entire caravans. The bandit leader wants them all to appear harmless. The 'lazy worker' he cursed was actually a guard that should give warning before any travellers come around (fallen asleep). Not surprisingly, the boss may decide for an ambush even now.
The players see a small shrine to the local nature deity just of the trail. Before they even approach it, they can smell the foul stench of rotting meat. If they inspect the shrine, they can see it has been desecrated by rotting organs in the last few days. There is no mistaking it for an obscure ritual, the organs are thrown everywhere, not left in specific places as in sacrifice.
If the players try to clean the shrine, they will soon find it has been boobytrapped to fling sharp splinters covered in the rotting gore in every direction. While only doing a few points of damage, they injured players will likely take sick soon unless they get medical attention.
A slight rustle of the wind... and it stands before you. A Unicorn, whiter and more beautiful than you ever imagined it. It has deep wonderful eyes, and you can't help but admire this creature. It came to have a look at you, and now it freely goes. You have not the heart to stop it, and it silently vanishes between the trees.
Note: unless specifically needed, this encounter should never happen again.
You find a patch of edible funghi. They taste well and all, no ill effects. UNLESS you consume some beverage, even 3 (three) days after eating the. Then you become really sick with pains, vomiting, all the fancy stuff. As a gift or good meal, it could be a cruel joke or to make sure the heroes spend their time focused on the mission. Or the fine soup you had in the inn yesterday could have some in.
(Inspired through a real-world fungus. It was really used to cure alcoholism.)
A friendly hunter has a talk with you about what you are doing here, and how is the weather. He advises you to not disturb the animals, tend to any fire you set, etc.
This is actually a werewolf checking his territory, so if you are not to his liking, he may ambush you with his pack later.
As the players travel along the trail, they notice a bear in the woods, following thier moves. It does not make any agressive moves, but neither does it leave. As daylight fades, the players need to decide what to do. Is it a spirit guide, or gaurdian to the forest; is it a lycanthrope, or being controlled by evil spirits; or is it just a curious bear?
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell. Stream full of dead fish. Spawning trout die in mass quantities after they spawn littering areas with dead fish dying and deteriorating in the sun.
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell.A small goblin tribe preparing a wedding feast. The wedding is between two tribes as a gesture for peace, so if the PC's intefere, feirce fighting could break out.
As they travel they notice a horrible rotten smell. As they travel it gets stronger and stronger forcing them to cover their noses and mouth less they choke on the horrible smell. Rotting animal carcass that has been ripped apart and tracks all over, covered in maggots.
It was such a pleasant afternoon.
Then it started, first it was sounds from far away (the sensitive characters may feel something), then approaching, until even the closest trees start to slightly crack and... move? Seriously, if it was a person, you could swear it was, like, stretching its arms out, and... stretching itself. Some wild animals may cross the path, running somewhere. And then there is wind, strong wind, and the clouds form on the sky. It will be raining. And the normally peaceful forest starts to look a little too awakened.
What happens is a rare release of positive natural energy. It occurs at most every few years, but The Forest remembers, and it looks forward to the moment, the trees and plants even spreading out their twigs and leaves to receive the rain. For mortal creatures, being well soaked in or drinking of the rain water would work as a gentle healing effect, but growth is also possible.
The event is completely harmless, the forest will soon sleep again. For a time, it will be easy to call upon nature's spirits, who will often fool around at the time, enjoying themselves.
The party discovers that their path leads down into a valley within the wood. The foliage overhead is much more dense that that seen on other parts of the forest, blocking nearly all the sunlight from reaching the forest floor. As they cautiously proceed, they discover that there is little underbrush, but the ground ahead is strangely spongy and covered with small mushrooms. A scent of decay hangs in the air here.
Near the center of the valley, an ancient tree stands, its vine-covered trunk strangely swaying in a nonexistent wind. This unnerving titan of the forest almost seems to pulse with blasphemous energy, if one watches long enough.
Note: Makes use of another sub: Of Demons
The Dark Circle was a sisterhood of witches that believed in a spirit called "The Lord of Seven Desires". This spirit, or demonic power really, was the center of their ritual prayer, their divinations and the one they praised during their ritual murder-rape of men caught in the woods.
The PCs have arrived at their forested abode, a medium sized brick building surrounded by a ramshackle wooden fence. In the trees surrounding the building the sisterhood has strung up chickens after their neck. This marks their territory and also acts as a boundary: That which is within is consecrated ground - holy to the Lord of Seven Desires and his flock. The newest chickens are now days old, and maggots and flies infest them.
As soon as the PCs approach the brick building, something will seem odd. There is a whining noise from within, like the sound of steam from a kettle (which it is). Not only that, but the walls seem to be splattered in blood.
The reason is simple: The sisters of the Dark Circle finally acquired enough magic prowess and knowledge to summon the Lord of Seven Desires, or what they believed to be him. To enable him to manifest, the head sister, Lataran of Salmore, offered her naked body for possession and was placed inside a summoning circle. What really happened is uncertain, but the entity they summoned was not their beloved Lord of Seven Desires, but a darker entity still - The Demon known as "Murder, scion of Psychosis" by the learned, or simply "Malarch" by laymen.
As soon as the PCs go through the fence gate they will notice ten naked and mutilated women heaped against the fence. Their skin seems burnt, or boiled, and they have been cut with a knife again and again: eyelids cut away, gaping rifts from crotch to navel and so on. The only ones reveling in this ghastly sight are the flies, of which there seems to be millions.
It will turn out that only sister Lataran still lives, the unhappy victim of demonic manifestation. The demon allows her to have control of eyes and mouth and she will stalk the PCs, crying and begging; madly, frantically muttering childrens rhymes (she has gone completely bonkers and her mind is often seeking solace and comfort in the memories of childhood).
She appears naked, excepting a huge butchers knife and a kettle that is steaming, even though it is not on a fireplace. Her body is covered in rifts and wounds and it seems she is scolding herself as well as her victims.
Sister Lataran will crouch naked in front of a deceased sister, singing a childrens' song and pouring boiling water onto her breasts. She will also be scratching something onto the cheek of the woman. When the PCs step closer, she turns around and runs into another room. When the PCs check out the corpse, they will discover that the words "You are next"
Supernatural abilities gained by the demon presence:
-Twice natural speed
-Can be utterly silent if it desires, but it thrives on the horror that the muttering and boiling steam instills in the PCs. It is also so arrogant it believes it cannot be defeated by mere mortals.
-Immune to soul affecting magics
- Body is tougher than normal, but still feels pain (it is the enslaved spirit of sister Lataran that screams, not the demon)
- Arms hacked off stay hacked off (no regeneration)
- Organ damage is most likely fatal, though blood loss seems not so dangerous.
- Vulnerable to frost related magics and holy items and weapons
- Hit and run (The PCs will hear the sound of the kettle and the maddened crying and muttering ever "around the next corner" (she is using her superior speed to toy with them). She will then hit the PCs, preferably a lone PC, and try to murder him quickly. If she does murder him, she will also try to mutilate his/hers corpse and pour boiling hot water over his/hers carcass.
She will not tire until they are all dead or she is dead (or exorcised) herself.
This little seance took an hour of real time and it horrified the players. They were so afraid they didn't know what to do. It was a huge success!
Traveling through a dense forest. Road or path or trailblazing, whatever, see a red fox sitting watching the characters (or any animal for that matter). See it multiple times as they travel to the point where it is getting weird. Any attempt to catch it will fail (unless deemed otherwise).
It is the forest's druid shapeshifted into an animal watching the party ensuring their good intentions. Druid has been having trouble lately and is paying closer attention to groups of armed warriors. Wants to be seen to try and cause unease and make them leave or at least fear nature a little more readily.
Could be used as a plot hook if the DM needs it. Otherwise just an odd occurrence.
You, or to be exact your animals are visited by some vampiric creature (at night only). Unless you guard them at night carefully, one or more of them might serve as a blood-donor. Signs are a minor wound and weakness, which may take a few days. The animal will be 10-20% slower, problematic if speed is required. There is a 1% chance of the animal getting ill, possibly much bigger if there is a cattle-plague or a similar disease in the area.
PCs drunken senseless can be subjected to the same treatment.
Deep in the woods, a massive bare rock occupies a clearing. There is a large door, almost a gate on it, so tightly fitting that it almost seems to be one with the rock around. Hearing on it will help little, feint sounds are heard, but not discerned.
A part of the stone stands out, it seems to be used, but is certainly no handle, at least not for a human-sized hand. With great force and precision, the door can be pulled open.
But even as it finally comes free, the door's owner shows: a beast of a man, or perhaps a small giant? His is an ugly face, and there he screams insults and curses on the visitors! No matter the arguments, no matter the gifts or threats, he withdraws back and closes the door, and no one will open it, as his power is unbeatable...
Oh, and by the way: it's a red herring.
The whole thing is an illusion. Certainly, the delicate ornaments of the door, the semblance of a gap, and the slightly worked 'handle' are a result of manual work. Yet whoever tries to open a door that is not there, surrenders his mind to the spell.
The giant does not pull the "door" shut, because it was never open in the first place! The solid piece of rock can resist most attempts at forcing or breaking in, short of blowing the hill apart.
What remains is the question of why is it there? Was there an illusionist with way too much free time? Or did it serve some evil mind to get rid of heroes for a moment? Or could it be a test of some kind? You decide.
The PCs find a tree with a strange symbol fixed to it, and a pair of weeping eyes. It speaks to them in their minds saying that an evil wizard magically trapped it here,in addition it promises to lead them to treasure if they break the symbol and free it.
In fact it was magically trapped but only after it went murderous and killed several travellers without provacation and if they free it, the fully grown Ent will attack them. If they somehow kill it a couple of Thrar Stones will fall from it's splintered trunk.
The Wasp's Nest
The thick heat of the afternoon drips sweatily through the rhodedendron branches and you are soothed by the monotone buzz of a million insects. When you finally emerge from the tangle of bushes, damp and scratched, you find yourselves in a curious grotto of rocks and decide to stop and rest. Sitting in the shade of a sizeable rock, it is several minutes before you realise that the monotone buzz has distinctly changed its nature. It's getting louder. A shadow passes over the sun. A flickery shadow, as if of beating wings. Into your mind leap unbidden images of furry, scaly, many-eyed, segmented creatures. Perhaps you should take cover.
There are many possible hiding places in this grotto. In a crevice, in amongst the rhodedendrons, in a hollow fallen tree trunk. Wherever the PCs decide to hide is where the giant wasp goes next (to its nest or to the flowers it loves to feed upon). Particularly unfortunate would be the encreviced PC who crawls further and further back, only to put his hand into a wriggling mass of giant wasp larvae.
By the looks of previous posts people seem to like bears in forests. Are they innocent, friendly bears? Or angry grizzlies? (Or lycanthropes, as Agar suggests)
You enter the clearing to find a huge and terrifying bear looming angrily over you. You instinctively draw your sword, trying to remember if you're supposed to act dead or act threatening. After a few breathless seconds of agitation, you realise that the bear is dead. It facial expression is not one of anger, rather one of contorted agony. It has been preserved and nailed to a tree.