The jungle can be a difficult and dangerous place for PCs to go adventuring. The unusual plant and animal life are foreign to uneducated and inexperienced travelers and even the cutest looking creature or prettiest plant can be hazardous and deadly. On top of the dangers that indigenous plants and animals pose, PCs also need to worry about the extreme heat, exhaustion and dehydration. And in many D&D setting the jungles are filled with exotic and fantastic creatures like dinosaurs.
Throughout April Dungeon’s Master is participating in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge. The challenge is to write a new article ever day in April, excluding Sundays. That’s 26 articles over the course of the month. To make things even more interesting the title of each article will begin with a different letter of the alphabet. This year we’ve decided that every article will provide our readers with new adventure hooks. Today “J” is for jungle as we give you plenty of ways to keep unsuspecting adventurers on their toes as the explore unfamiliar terrain.
Jungle adventures give the DM a chance to put the PCs in situations unlike any they’ve ever experienced before. Environmental conditions become an extremely important part of the adventure and even finding food and water may become an important quest. Unless a character has something in his background that would make him suited to leading a jungle expedition, most PCs will find that they need the services of a guide. To the untrained eye there aren’t many discernable landmarks in the dense jungle so knowing where you are and where your going can mean the difference between life and death. Jungle adventures can be perilous so adventurers beware and DM’s be kind.
Adventure Hooks: Welcome to the Jungle
1. There goes our guide
The PCs head into the jungle in search of treasure. They hire a guide who knows the place they seek and take them there. Since the exact location isn’t recorded on any map the PCs can find they are absolutely dependent on this guide to lead them. Unfortunately he is killed when he gets poisoned by a thorny plant or eaten by a monster. Will the PCs try to find the location they seek by themselves or will they turn back. There’s no guarantee that they can retrace their steps to safety.
2. The main attraction for the zoo
A wealthy patron hires the PCs to go deep into the jungle and find a rare creature. He doesn’t want them to kill it, he wants them to capture it alive and bring it safely back to him. He’s opening a zoo and this creature will be the main attraction. If they can bring back a male and female their reward will be tripled.
[It’s up to the DM to decide what creature the patron wants but it should be rare and dangerous. If the PCs manage to find one and capture it, the creature’s mate or others of its kind fight the PCs all the way home as they try to free creature.]
3. Crazy from the heat
While adventuring in the jungle the PCs find a “wild man.” Assuming they don’t kill him on sight they eventually learn his story. He was part of an adventuring company seeking treasures in the jungle. His party was attacked and he was the only survivor. For the past five years he’s been trying to find his way home. During that time he’s learned to adapt and live off the land. Despite moments of clarity, the wild man has clearly gone crazy during his time alone. If the PCs decide to help him or allow him to accompany them they realize that the bugs don’t bite him, hazardous terrain or flora doesn’t attack him, and any water he finds and drinks (no matter how vile) doesn’t make him sick.
4. The Zombie Master
Zombies have been emerging from the jungle and attacking outposts and villages on the fringes. The attacks are getting more frequent and the number of Zombies in each assault grows. The PCs are asked to find out where the Zombies are coming from and stop them.
[An explorer seeking rare plant life found something unusual while exploring the jungle. Anyone who ate a certain fruit became highly susceptible to suggestion. Quite accidentally he discovered that if someone died after eating the fruit two things happened. First they arose as a Zombie and secondly the traces of fruit still in their body continued to make them receptive to commands even in death. Now he’s combining the fruit’s juices with a powerful poison and tricking the Orc, Lizard Men, and Human clans he’s encountering in the jungle to drink it. They die almost instantly and then awaken under his control.]
5. We need a map
A Monk who’s a member of a reclusive order approaches the PCs and begs for their help. The most holy site of his order is hidden somewhere deep in the jungle. His leader is very sick and the only way to cure him is to bring him to this site and perform a ritual. He’s asking the PCs to find the site and create a map he and his brothers can use to find it. He emphasizes the need for secrecy. If the temple’s location became common knowledge it would ruin his order.
[The Monk is not really a Monk at all; he’s a miner. He’s learned that the holy site is considered holy because it sits on top of a fortune in gems and minerals in the ground below. If the PCs bring him a map he’ll go in, destroy the temple and start mining for emeralds and diamonds. He pretended to be a Monk because he knew the order was very secretive and confirming his identity or even his story would be next to impossible.]
6. Big game hunters
Some of the fiercest creatures in the world live in the jungles. The PCs are hired as a protective detail to a group of big game hunters looking to bag the biggest trophy. The hunters are reasonable combatants but they live for the hunt and don’t want to worry about other obstacles that might come up. They want to remain singularly focused and let the PCs handle any other problems or monsters they might interfere with the hunt.
7. The welcome wagon
While exploring the jungle native humanoids rush the PCs. They use aggressive battle cries and in a strange language the PCs have never heard before and they look like they’re casting spells.
[These natives are actually friendly and helpful. Their language is generally spoken at louder than normal volume and their gestures do not indicate spell casting, just the visual component of their language. They seem aggressive towards the PCs because they’re trying to warn them not to proceed down the path as poisonous plants will lash out at them if they do. If the PCs attack or kill any of the natives in the patrol the tribe will assume they are evil and hunt them to the death.]
8. The source of magic
The PCs hear rumours that a group of powerful Wizards entered the jungle a decade earlier in search of the source of all magic. None have ever been heard from since. However, the PCs are approached by a woman who says her father, one of these Wizards, recent sent her a magical sending. He said they’re alive and well having found the source of magic. He asked her to find someone trustworthy who would bring him a special spell book. If the PCs agree she says they’ll receive a magic sending with directions from her father the following day.
[The directions are brief and rely on outdated landmarks. When the PCs eventually find the Wizards any arcane spell casters are invited to stay. When the party is ready to go they learn that the Wizards have enacted a protective barrier that prevents them from ever leaving.]
9. Not quite Godzilla
While adventuring in the jungle the party finds and explores an old temple. While fighting monsters inside the temple, one of the spells a PC uses has an unknown and initially undetectable side effect. The spell’s energy is partly absorbed by a magical glyph in the temple. The next creature to cross it is infused with ancient magic and is transformed into a hulking creature which destroys everything in its path. Although the party isn’t present when the creature is infused, the local people connect the PCs to the creature’s first appearance. They blame the PCs for all the destruction and death the creature brings. Bounty hunters are hired to find the PCs and bring them back to pay for their crimes. If the PCs are captured they may be able to plead their case and if they vow to kill the monster they might be forgiven.