1. Deep Impact
With a screaming roar, a giant ball of flame roars overhead to smash into the ground about a mile from the PCs. They are soon showered with debris, sand, shattered wood and the like. There is a minor chance of being injured, easily negated by taking shelter. A meteorite has fallen and blasted a 100 foot wide hole in the earth. There is nothing magical about the impact or event.
2. Blue Crush
The water seems to recede, as if something was drawing it away from the shore. A few turns later, a wall of water 12 feet high rolls over the beach causing a great deal of damage, washing anything not bolted down away and toppling any structure made of anything weaker than stone. PCs are jostled, take minor to moderate damage and can lose items in the surge of water.
3. Close Encounters of the Planar Kind
A large object appears in the sky, moves in a strange fashion and vanishes after abducting a lone PC. The PC is later returned unharmed, but has several traits changed on his character sheet, no memory of the event and continually has strange dreams about goblins in space wearing lab coats and holding glowing wands.
4. Ground Zero
As the PCs approach a major city, the city is destroyed by a massive explosion that knocks the PCs off of their feet. A cloud of smoke and fire rises into the air to blow away normal clouds. Rain falls black as pitch and strange mutations occur in surviving people and animals. Those mages and their experiments...
5. Wyrmfang Spill
A wagon ahead of the PCs has an accident (breaks a wheel, horses spook, orcs attack and kill the driver) and it's contents are spilled. a strange green cloud spills from the damaged wagon, plants quickly wither and die and animals in the area of the cloud sicken and also die in a few agonizing minutes.
The master Golemist in town has gone off the deep end and is now certifiably insane. This insanity has trickled down into his creations, but thankfully he suffers from a peaceful dementia and now instead of rampaging and killing, his golemic creations wander about looking for dance partners. No music and a 1200 pound dance partner made of glass make for an interesting match...and flattened feet. Defying the golems makes them sullen and weepy.
7. I, Golem
The youngest member of the PC party gains a new henchman, a 12 foot golem made of granite, carved to look like a monsterous and formidable man of war. The golem, now masterless heard of a prophecy about a young hero and by it's limited logic, said PC is the hero and the golem must protect him. Rather than becoming a deadly and brutal engine of war, the PC gains a two ton nanny with all the grace and composure of a 4000 pound slab of stone. Certainly handy when the orcs show up looking for blood, but a real pain with said PC decides to go about on private matters.
8. Hang Ten!
It starts as a rumble, then a deafening roar as the entire side of a mountain falls in a deadly shower of boulders and clouds of debris. Thankfully the PCs are not caught in the fall, but it just happens that the mountain pass is possibly closed...forever. For more adventure, the path beneath the PCs feet collapses, and they are left to ride what debris they can find on a break-neck race to the bottom.
The ground heaves and shudders, startling animals, waking sleepers, sending birds screaming from the trees. Devastation is more visible in town as the local tower has fallen, several homes and destroyed and there is a chance of a fire, almost 100% if the quake hits in the evening time when everyone has their lanterns and candles lit. No noxious vapors steam out of the earth, no demons emerge, no strange magic effects start happening.
10. Red Skies
The PC on night watch notices a red glow, and in a matter of minutes, the PCs are being threatened by a raging wildfire. Trees explode into flame, the heat sucks breathable air away and water quickly evaporates in the inferno. You wake up, the forest is on fire.
11. Neptune's Revenge
As the PCs are walking/riding along side the river, they notice it is rising visibly. A combination of massive rainfall upstream and a dam rupture will fill the river's floodplain with water 15 feet deep in a matter of a few minutes. While it wouldn't be the wall of water from a tsunami, once the water arrives, it will be many hours if not days or weeks before it subsides.
The bad storm takes a really bad twist, winds kick up to incredible speed, ripping thatch houses apart and flining debris around pell-mell. Then, the rain, hail, wind and lightning all stop. A muted roar announces the presence of the tornado as it marches relentlessly across the earth for a few miles of sheer destruction. Well mage...can you counterspell that thing?
13. Time Runs Out
In the distance, a mountain bulges and explodes in silent fury, creating a pillar of fire and ash that blots out the sun. A moment later, the pressure wave arrives, shaking trees and making ears pop. The volcano, long thought dead, has blown itself apart, creating a cloud of superheated ash, glass and poisonous vapors, rivers of water ash slurry called lahars, and ashfall measured in feet. In a few years, local plant harvests will be double the yield, but until rain comes, it is a no-man's land of fluffy ash and death.
14. Operation Black
While strolling through the market of a major city, the PCs are knocked off of their feet and caught in a stampede of panicked people. A group of local radicals have set off an explosive weapon (keg of gunpowder, a vial of dragon's bile, jar of demonic-nether-gas) in protest of the current ruling power. Guards take anyone not local into custody, there is looting and violence aplenty. The point of contention between the parties should in no real way involve the PCs, something like the cost of grain for millers outside the city, hunting rights of the commoners, or something equally inane and bizarre.
15. Three Hour Tour
The PCs, whilst traveling a short distance by ship, wreck and are marooned on a deserted island. Rather than being in the middle of the ocean, they are about 5 or 6 miles from the coast and in a few days or weeks they will be rescued if they haven't found a way to get off of the island themselves.
16. Snakes on a Frigate
Whilst traveling on a long voyage, the PCs discover that a large number of (insert dangerous animal) have been released on the ship for the purpose of killing a certain passenger despite being protected by soldiers and mercenaries.
17. I Hate Monkeys!
Hoots and hollers fill the forest air around the PCs and a band of large primates charge out of the foliage armed with branches, boat paddles, and even a real weapon or two. After battling the berzerker gorillas (should be a good challenge) the PCs discover the corpse of a druid, the monkey's master. The cause of death is accidental, the man choked on a piece of food and then his monkeys were left to fend for themselves and protect his body.
While on an ocean crossing or other suitable deep water crossing, the PCs ship is attacked by a large kraken. Crewmen perish, the ship is damaged, but the monste is driven away after valiant combat and calamari is on the menu in the galley.
19. OMFG GIANT SPIDERS!
A wizard's giant growth potion has been lost, it was spilled by the drunken mage on night. A sack of spider eggs absorbed the potion and as the spiders hatched they grew to frighteningly large size. Currently the size of a large housecat or dog, each generation will increase in size until the arachnids overrun the area and eat all of the humans. Time to get to squishing some bugs, though in the PCs favor, the spiders are not dangerously poisonous.
20. The Zombie Strain
A necromancer made a big big big mistake, creating a highly contagious version of the animate dead spell. Rather than creating a self replenishing army of dead under his control, the zombies spread their affliction to the living by fluid exchange. While not majorly dangerous themselves, the PCs will be infected and only have a few days at the most before succumbing to the infection and becoming a zombie themselves...unless there is a cure!
21. The Body Filchers
The PCs discover a village where all of the locals act very strange, almost wooden in their movements. A quick round of 'sleuthing' and they can discover that a potent spirit of the local forest has been abducting the locals and growing plant replicas of them to protect the forest and eliminate the danger of humans. The filched bleed amber treesap and are terrified of fire, axes, and leaf eating insects.
22. The Tower Inferno
Gala and fetes are things of courtly grace and splendor, events of decorum and etiquette. The stately tedium is interrupted by a fire spreading quickly through the palace, and the PCs are involved to help put out the flames and rescue important or self-important people from the blazing wreckage.
The PCs encounter a village where there are no women, only men and boys working in the fields, they take no notice of the fact that there are no women. The women of the village no reside in the grand palatial estate of the Hypnotist, though none of the locals know him as anything other than the Good Father at the church. The Hypnotist (stroke oiled mustache) will try to enthrall the PCs to become his hounds of war and fight his un-enchanted foes hidding in the Wherever Hills.
24. Village of the Werewolves
The PCs are besieged by wolves under the light of the full moon, the next village they come too some days later is wary of the PCs and seems to know them despite it being their first trip to said village. The entire village is afflicted with lycanthropy and several villagers were slain by the PCs or severly injured by them. Attempts to 'cure' them will be met with derision and potential violence.
25. Out of the Storm
A bolt of lighting falls during a heavy downpour, flashroasting one of the PC's mounts, fusing it's metal barding together and instantly killing the poor creature.
26. France! To Arms!
A night by the river turns strange as the ground is quickly covered by a thick carpet of frogs and toads of all different sizes. Anything edible the amphibians eat, including each other, travel is done on a slick of frog blood and gore, and the smell after a few hours is quickly nauseating.
27. Who turned off the lights?
One morning the sun doesnt rise. No reason is to be given, other than a faint smile or a fiendish chuckle.
28. Dead in the Pasture
The PC's mounts perish during the night for no apparent reason. The next village has been hit with the same affliction some days before and there is not a horse, ox, cow, or any toher critter over 1000 pounds in wieght to be found for miles. After a week or so, the effect ends and animals can enter the area again and not perish.
29. Fly Hollow
Traveling, the PCs find the ruins of a town, complete with macabre skeletons and dried out corpses. A steady drone fills the air and the sky is darkened by the wings of millions of black biting flies. This town has been forever cursed.
30. What's that Smell
more fun with fire, instead of a forest or palace, the city itself has been caught up in a firestorm. Leaping from roof to roof, the flames will devour half of the city by morning, if only the PCs can make it to the river before the heat and smoke overcome them.
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? Responses (20)
I like this,GMs will find it very useful.
I'm glad the 30 --- trend did not devolve into a series of dull and unimaginative brews... this is extremely useful.
Not to mention entertaining. Especially 16.
Sometimes stuff just happens.
Very entertaining read! great job Scras!
6. 15. 16. 26. ACES!
Useful. Very very useful. I like it.
Irwin Allen would be proud. I like these.
The monkeys made it worth reading. Great job Scras.
Too Fast! CRASH!!!! Disaster!
One suggestion - Day of the Triffids! :)
Interesting stuff that could be easily worked into any campaign, although the gm may have to deal with pc's spending several hours investigating an otherwise random natural event (such as #1) convinced it's part of some grander plot hook. (although that could also be an advantage if they have noting else planned.)
Ok, this is a thing I can and will use.
Better than a random encouter table, you could adapt to a sci-fi setting with ease or increase the scale.
Here is a good scholarly resource for planning disatsers.
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This is an awesome list, I plan on using it a lot.
What AG said:)
The extra comments with each entry make this a very readable submission. Surely though there are more than 30 possible disasters...
I enjoyed this list immensely. If you just want a distraction or a breather while the party deals with a big, random event, this certainly fulfills the requirements. If, however, you have limited sessions and want to keep the party focused on the central plot, you will have to find some way to tie these disasters back to the story.
Will HoH this when I get another to hand out!!!! 5
32. Murder Hornets