D6 non-encounters! (with possible plot hooks)
Here are 5 monsters and a bonus 6th item [because there’s no d5, and d4 seemed too low effort] for your party to encounter. If you have a party of murder-hobos like I do, hopefully this will give them the opportunity to see the good in Evil. Otherwise you can verbally chastise them when you show the underlined part of your notes that says “not a combat encounter.”
1 That’s no innkeeper!
This one is relatively simple: The next innkeeper, store proprietor, librarian, or exposition-giving NPC is a succubi/incubi. And not the sinister, disguised-as-an-attractive-cuckholder type that plots the destruction and ruination of mortals. In fact, the NPC isn’t disguised at all; s/he has his/her tail and horns visible at all times, as well as a magic, glowing symbol of the local Good god branded on his/her face.
Nearby is a paladin of a respectable holy order, the same symbol proudly emblazoned on the chest, who claims to be “guiding the demon to salvation.” By forcing the creature to display its demonic lineage clearly, it forgets its desire to conceal and deceive; by branding it with a magic symbol, it has a 24/7 reminder of what glory and righteousness looks like, and the consequences of denying it. Once the succubi/incubi completes its journey to consecration, the brand disappears, and it is transformed into a beautiful angel (or deva, or whatever tf Gygax makes next).
The challenge here is for the party not to assume it’s all a ruse, that the succubi/incubi is either faking cooperation or that the paladin itself is an even more sinister villain pretending to have the demon under control. Either way, the demon flips between flirting and insulting, as it is difficult to resist its natural instincts and the constant chastising of the paladin tends to put the demon in a foul mood. If a party member attempts to attack the demon, it will fight back-and so will the paladin.
2 Didn’t Aesop write this?
I saw it on Tom and Jerry first, so who cares
The party finds a bear trap, covered in blood and floating a few inches off the ground. It appears to have caught an invisible creature! - no, wait, there’s a Displacer Beast a foot away, laying on its side, with one leg in the air.
The party can choose to remove the bear trap from the displacer beast, which requires a simple DC 13 strength check, but the DB assumes the party is responsible for the trap and attacks (with magical displacer beast advantage that ignores the fact that the bear trap would totally defeat the displacement ability). If the party has the foresight to first engage the Displacer Beast in conversation (using any combination of Deception, Persuasion, and/or Intimidation) they can attempt to convince the creature not to attack.
A Good party gets the satisfaction of knowing they helped a creature in need, and may have helped convert an Evil monster. A Neutral party is a bunch of annoying anarchists so who cares. An Evil party may have gained a new animal companion. Either way, consider having the Displacer Beast appear at a crucial time in a fight later in the adventure to repay the party’s kindness (or several displacer beasts, if 1 isn’t enough to appreciably tip the scales). A Good party can’t expect to receive that benefit again, though.
3 Aaah! Kill it just to be safe!
Unfortunately I get that response to this random encounter constantly
The party encounters a chest with centipede legs desperately trying to get through a closed door. It continuously bumps into the door, scuttles back, and bumps into it again. This is so loud, in fact, that the party can hear a rhythmic thump…thump… from a room away. This chest is, of course, a mimic-but not the evil kind that eats the hands of anyone that reaches inside.
The mimic does not respond to being spoken to, prodded, or even attacked. It just wants to get through the door. The party can even attempt to open to chest-though doing so only reveals an impossibly deep void, in which any placed inanimate objects disappear.
If the party opens the door, the chest scuttles inside and begins cleaning. The next room (in addition to its regular contents, which you as the DM should be designing, not relying on a random table, shame on you, jk I do the same thing) is dirty. In a dungeon, this might mean bones, rotting flesh, cobwebs, and scraps of clothing; in a noble’s estate, this might mean soiled towels and platters of unfinished meals. Either way, a large, prehensile, tongue-like, slimy muscle extends out of the chest, sticks to various objects, and pulls them in like a frog’s tongue.
The chest continues to do this so long as it does not reach another obstacle. If the party does anything to produce a mess (such as discarding an empty vial of Cure Wounds or breaking a trap), the mimic is not far behind-and quickly sets to cleaning! Not only does this mean that the party has all of its footprints mopped up (making them harder to track indoors), but if the mimic survives the rest of the adventure, it follows the party wherever they go.
This leads to two possibilities:
- The party discovers a means of retrieving items stored in the mimic. If that is the case, they have received a much more interesting version of the Bag of Holding, which takes 10% of all stored coins/gems in exchange for being able to protect itself, protect the party when it sleeps, and entertainment.
- The mimic’s endless void contains a phylactery of your campaign’s eventual BBEG. The only way to destroy the BBEG and save the world is to sacrifice the mimic. If you RP the mimic right, this should be a crushing, tear-jerking decision.
4 Do you want to play a game?
The party encounters a sentient plant, mushroom, speaking animal, or similar, nonthreatening, small creature that asks if any party member would like to play “Poker.” The game consists of two contestants throwing a stone and declaring a number, in turn. Whoever declares the highest number wins. You could have the encountered creature know the answer to a riddle or a vital piece of information which the party must win through a best 2 out of 3, or this can be a brief and nonsensical aside in the middle of a dungeon desperate for comedic relief.
The creature is only capable of declaring numbers in Common, and will accuse anyone who uses numbers in any other language of cheating. That being said, a party member can say anything and convince the creature on a DC 10 Deception check that it’s a higher number-even if the party member said a lower number.
5 The Half-Dead Drow
This adventure suddenly got a lot worse.
The party encounters a severely injured Drow Elite Warrior who claims to be on a quest to hunt down an exiled Drider, which he claims has gone into hiding nearby. He encountered the Drider, another monster, or a trap which has left him too damaged to continue. If the party kills him (it’s not that far fetched of a possibility) he has on his person a vial of Spider Repellent, which functions like the Fear spell, except with no saving throw and can only be used to target arachnid-like creatures. If the party offers to heal his wounds and/or take up the quest, he gives them the vial and becomes a short term ally.
You can either choose to add a drider to your random encounters list for the same adventure (if your party is strong enough and has enough time to fight one), or you can add it to your wider random encounters list, or you can let the party hunt down the drider after the current adventure is finished.
6 But, I’m not dead!
The party encounters a ghost.
The ghost incorporeal, with most of its features fading off into whispy nothingness. They can make out enough features to tell that in life the ghost was a modestly attractive half-elf woman, who calls herself “Isael.” She has a rattling, persistent cough and a very pleasant disposition. She’s excited to meet new people, especially wizards and sorcerers. She can identify any kind of spell caster that she can see, and doesn’t react well to divine spell casters or warlocks.
Isael is waiting for her father. The party can infer that she has been waiting for her father for a very long time. She refers to the land around her with natural features that no longer exist (complimenting trees that have been cut down, or a lawn that hasn’t been trimmed), and refers to various people who are no longer around (a baker whose shop is abandoned, a nearby monster that has been slain).
Isael says that when she got sick, her father left to go find medicine. She promised him that she would wait for him to return, and she wouldn’t leave until he did.
Any attempts to convince Isael that she is dead (even irrefutable evidence, such as sticking an arm through her) confuses or infuriates her. Her response can be as mild as childish insults (her vocabulary doesn’t include anything vulgar) to a random 1st-3rd level nonlethal spell.
If the party is nice to Isael, she is capable of casting Mass Cure Wounds once, and Goodberry enough times to feed the party once. If they offer to cure her cough, she’ll “leave to go tell father I’m okay”; if they offer to find her father, she isn’t able to offer any helpful clues, as it has been an untold number of years since his disappearance.