Dungeons & Dragons 5E: The Daggerdale Campaign Sandbox

Daggerdale during the AD&D 2nd Edition-era is a very interesting setting: its rightful ruler (Randal Morn) runs an open resistance against the Zhentarim that occupy Dagger Falls and the northern trade route, and several adventure modules feature other dire threats, including a resurrected Mage-Lord, Zhentarim archwizards, and undead seeking lichdom.

While the modules are of varying quality, the plot elements, many items, and the region itself remain rife for fantastic stories of freedom fighting, dungeon-delving, political maneuvering, or large-scale warfare between armies from Shadowdale and Zhentil Keep. It pays to have skimmed the adventures to get the most use out of the campaign setting-specific information in this article.

With that in mind, this article provides some of the sandboxy elements that complement the article Dungeons & Dragons 5E: The Daggerdale Campaign Threats, including magic item and spell conversions, a few dungeons, and tons of random encounter tables. All bold monster and NPC notations are references from the 5th edition Monster Manual.

Map of the Daggerdale Region

Map of the Daggerdale Region



Proper credit is due for all the following: 98% of this is the work of module designers Jim Butler (the Randal Morn trilogy) and Wolfgang Baur (Doom of Daggerdale): they created the items, spells, and several of the encounter tables. I have simply converted this material to the D&D 5th Edition rules, and — in the case of the encounter tables — re-balanced the encounter spread and filled in the details: creating names, goals, and additional background context for them, often using The Daggerdale Project as an added resource.

Magic Items

The Net of Dreams

This opalescent, circular net is three feet in diameter and woven of thousands of silky strands.

Once per night, the net may be used to attempt to capture the lifeforce of a target. The victim must be 10 or fewer Hit Dice and asleep/unconscious. They must make a Charisma saving throw, or else they are captured. They receive a single escape attempt before falling asleep; if successful, they remember the event as a vivid dream but are free, otherwise they are caught.

When it captures the lifeforce of a sleeper, the entire net shimmers. Lifeforce may be withdrawn and magically stored, allowing the net to then capture another lifeforce. When it captures a negative energy creature (see below), the net shimmers with a black, shadowy energy, instead.

Without their lifeforce, a sleeper will contract Dream Fever and slowly die.

The net is effective against incorporeal undead, allowing it to trap wraiths, shadows, haunts, spectres, ghosts and similar creatures, so long as they are less than 10 Hit Dice in power.

Dream Fever

The victim suffers symptoms of a normal fever, and each night must make a Constitution save (-1 modifier each night after the first, cumulative) or fall into a fitful sleep that they cannot be woken from (most normal humans only last 1-2 nights).

The victim then wastes away, losing 2 Hit Points per day (1 Hit Point if cared for by healing herbs, magical spells, or the like). At 0 Hit Points, they die. Magical healing can rouse a sleeper long enough for them to answer a few simple questions before they doze off again. They may (DM’s discretion) remember hazy bits of dream memory that could provide clues regarding who attacked the character with the Net of Dreams and the current location of their lifeforce.

Torc of Lathander’s Light

Wondrous item, unique (requires attunement)

You must be a cleric or paladin to become attuned to this torc.

The Torc of Lathander’s Light is a magical torc, a large rigid neck ring made of a single strand of platinum. It features an engraved hand, palm facing outward and radiating light in four beams of varying lengths.

This item is designed first and foremost as a key to Eagle’s Eyrie, given by the dwarves to the humans they were originally allied with, and later placed in the care of priests that ensured its full purpose eventually faded out of memory (they didn’t count on just how dedicated Eragyn is at research!).

While you wear this torc, you have resistance to necrotic damage. In addition, you can use an action to expend some of the torc’s 10 charges to cast one of the following spells without using any components, using your spell save DC: healing word (1 charge), speak with the dead (3 charges), or death ward (4 charges).

The torc regains 1d6 + 4 expended charges each day at dawn. However, if you expend the last charge, roll a d20. On a 1, the torc loses all of its charges permanently, no longer provides resistance against necrotic damage, and now only acts as a key to Eagle’s Eyrie.

Olar (“Magekiller”)

Mage Masher from Final Fantasy IX

This works!

Olar is a +1 [determine weapon randomly from list of PC weapons] with the magical ability to absorb magical spells directed at the wielder, and use that magic power to deliver devastating blows.

It appears as a finely crafted dwarven-made [weapon], squat and stout for its size, and bearing several gemstones that represent the pantheon of Good and Neutral Dwarven deities:

  • Berronar Truesilver, a beljuril: sea-water green, periodically blazing with a sparkling, winking, flashing light, also known as fireflashils, durable and very hard.
  • Clanggedin Silverbeard, a garnet: in folktales, garnets are the hardened blood of divine avatars.
  • Dugmaren Brightmantle, a rock crystal: used for optics and prisms.
  • Dumathoin, an iol: color-changing straw-yellow, blue and dark blue, sometimes with an intenral star effect, strong associations with magic in Faerunian legend.
  • Marthammor Duin, an alexandrite: favored for focal use in items of magic that confer good luck, favor, or protection.
  • Moradin, a fire opal: favored in helms of brilliance.
  • Vergadain, a banded agate: used as a “soothe stone” that merchants handle to relieve tension during negotiations.

Spell Absorption. Any harmful spell of 3rd level or less cast at the wielder is absorbed if the wielder succeeds at a Charisma saving throw against the spell’s normal save DC (per the caster). This occurs before any other saving throw the spell might have. If the Charisma save is successful, the spell has no effect, and is instead “trapped” within Olar. Olar may only contain a single spell at a time. If the character makes a successful Charisma save and already has a stored spell, that spell’s power is now lost, and Olar contains the power of the new spell, regardless of the level. For example, if Olar already had a 3rd level spell trapped within it, and the character makes a successful save against a 2nd level spell, Olar now contains only the 2nd level spell.

Unleashed Spell Power. Record the level of the spell absorbed by Olar; any time Olar’s wielder scores a critical hit with this shortsword, they may expend one of the stored spells to add a number of d6s to the damage roll equal to the spell level currently contained in the sword. (Note that these dice are added after all other dice are doubled on a critical hit; they are not themselves doubled).

Magekiller. Any spellcaster that touches the sword immediately takes 1d4 radiant damage, and continues to do so every round they remain in contact with it.

Crystal Cage

It’s a pretty trap, but still a trap all the same.

Spell: Dream Globe

  • 5th-level conjuration
  • Range: Touch
  • Casting Time: 1 action
  • Components: V, S, M (crystal sphere, piece of amber, both consumed with the casting of the spell)
  • Area of Effect: 1 creature
  • Duration: 24 hours

This spell traps its victim inside a sphere of magical energy. The spellcaster must succeed in a melee touch attack; the victim is entitled to a Dexterity saving throw to avoid the effects of this spell. If they fail, they are caught in a sphere of force, remaining suspended within the sphere in a dreamlike state until the spell ends.

The victim can be subject to questioning in this stupor; one question per hour. Each question allows them a Charisma saving throw; if they pass, they do not need to answer, and the caster cannot question them until the next hour. If they fail, however, they must answer truthfully, and to the best of their knowledge.

This spell can be cast on a character again to extend the duration another 24 hours.

There are two ways to release a victim of this spell. The first is to wait until the duration elapses, at which time the bubble bursts and the character becomes conscious, though groggy and incoherent for 1d4+1 rounds. The second method is to shatter the dreamglobe itself: it has AC 10, 10 hit points, and has resistance to nonmagical bludgeoning, piercing, or slashing damage. Once broken, the sudden collapse of the bubble renders the freed victim unconsciousness for 1d4 hours.

Adventure Locations

The Daggerdale Project contains a number of additional encounter locations, maps of ruins, and more that can be combined with the aforementioned modules to provide a pretty wide variety of adventure locations. City of the Spider Queen features some initial adventure seeds that take place in Daggerdale as well.

Below are notes on making the existing “fixed encounter locations” found throughout the modules and The Daggerdale Project into sandbox-style adventure locations for the player characters to loot and pillage.

Shraevyn’s Tomb

Sword of the Dales p. 15-25; map on p. 16

Shraevyn’s Tomb originally was the starting point of the Randal Morn trilogy, a place where the PCs maybe pick up The Sword of the Dales and get tied up in Gothyl’s weirdly railroady plots. It’s mostly a trap-filled dungeon, so you can easily remove Gothyl and the Zhent vs. Freedom Rider characters and make this a complete side quest just to pick up some loot (including the sword), or as part of Gothyl’s plot to find a suitable phylactery for lichdom (see Dungeons & Dragons 5E: The Daggerdale Campaign Threats for more information about Gothyl).

Here’s a quick room-by-room conversion to turn Shraevyn’s Tomb into a sort of low-level Tomb of Horrors (likely levels 2-4 would find this pretty challenging).

1A. A Secret Entrance

A DC 15 Passive Wisdom (Perception) check reveals the false door that’s actually trapped. Fire Bolt trap on door (+7 ranged spell attack, 2d10 fire damage).

1B. Main Door

There is a riddle used to enter this door. I’ve found it’s always good to have an alternate means to open riddle-locked doors in D&D, so in the spirit of the “team work” idea of the riddle, here’s an alternative: the party can combine their abilities to open the door (if the riddle is easily solved, you can make use the following ideas as an extra step necessary to opening the door). All characters must perform a related check or take an action that makes some sense, using the ideas below. Ultimately, treat this as a Group Check, considering the use of any non-check actions as automatic successes (as noted below). Each example action or check includes some kind of sign that the door may “reveal” that suggests the action or check is possible.

  • Channel Divinity (such as Turning Undead) centered on the door (automatic success). The writing on the door begins to reshape itself once again, revealing an ever-changing lineup of Faerun’s deities’ symbols.
  • Thieves’ tools check. There is a latch and lock mechanism on the door…but it is incredibly complicated, and is obviously bound by additional magic (thus necessitating the other checks/actions).
  • Force the door (Strength check). If the door is pushed or attempts are made to pull it apart at the hinges, it does budge ever so slightly, but it’s apparent other means are necessary to help “move it along.”
  • Damage the door (weapon and damaging spell attacks; automatic success). Combining weapon and spell attacks with other checks or actions seems to weaken its hold immensely.
  • Spells or abilities that specifically affect locked/secret doors (automatic success). The spell may not have the full, intended effect (knock does not automatically unlock the door), but it certainly affects how the door sits in its latch or on its hinges, making other methods of gaining entry even easier.
  • Prayer, communing (with outsiders or self), or attempting to recall information about similar riddles or trick doors (automatic if using a spell or limited-use ability, otherwise use an appropriate skill check). Taking great pains to recall information or glean it from supernatural sources has an immediately useful affect on how other checks and abilities are used to gain entry.

3. Wizard’s Library

The secret door requires either a DC 18 Passive WIS (Perception) or a DC 13 INT (Investigation) check to discover. Opening the door will trigger a trap releasing magical sleep gas, unless the party notices the trap (DC 15, same rolls) and successfully disables it (requiring Thieves’ Tools, DC 10) — acts as the sleep spell to all within 20 feet of the door, affecting 13d8 hit points of creatures (ascending order of their current HP).

12 Giant Spiders attack from behind the bookshelves; treat them as Giant Spiders with the Undead type, and add Damage Immunity poison, Condition Immunity poisoned, and they will not leave the room under any circumstances.

4. Chamber of Magical Pots

The jars are aligned thus: A. Illusion, B. Positive Energy, C. Divination, D. Enchantment, E. Negative Energy, F. Conjuration, G. Necromancy, H. Transmutation, I. Abjuration, and J. Evocation. They must be aligned to cross their opposites: Illusion vs. Necromancy, Transmutation vs. Abjuration, Divination vs. Conjuration, Evocation vs. Enchantment, and Positive vs. Negative Energy. Note that in 5E, these sorts of oppositions don’t exist as a mechanic, but can certainly be added into the lore of the setting as an old theory or rule later proven wrong by more magical study, or perhaps something that changed during the Avatar crisis, Spellplague, or any other event important to your campaign.

When the jars are misaligned, an encounter is triggered. Roll 3d4, reading each individually to get a monster. Only one monster is summoned per die each time, and once that monster is “used up,” no more can be summoned. Thus, if you rolled “1” you’d have a single Cockatrice appear. If you rolled again and got a “1” another Cockatrice would appear, but after that, all 1s are meaningless. Note that rolling a number that denotes a “used up” monster means no monster is summoned on that die (so may end up getting less than three monsters at a time).

  • Modron, Quadron x2
  • Animated Armor x2
  • Flying Sword x3
  • Phase Spider

Note that these creatures only appear if the jars are misaligned once they’ve all been placed, materializing in the center of the sunburst symbol and immediately attacking. The creatures instinctively know the special effects of the different pots, and will seek to use them to their advantage. For example, an undead creature might seek to use the Negative Energy pot to heal themselves, or any of the creatures might attempt to pull the lid free from the Conjuration pot to summon a dangerous critter (which would be considered an ally, in this case).

And here are the effects of each pot are unchanged unless noted below:

  • Positive Energy: A burst of golden, radiant energy leaps from this pot, flies around the room, striking each of the pots in turn until it reaches the one with the missing top, at which the energy is sucked back into this container before you. A resounding pop occurs as the energy enters the pot, and the lid slides back into place. Anyone in the room — characters or monsters — is healed for 1 hit point. Undead and negative energy creatures are harmed for 1 hit point of damage.
  • Divination: The surface of the jar shimmers for a moment, then reveals the area outside the tomb. The tall statues still stand silent, gazing across the broken shale landscape. The glimmering metal doors remain open. Characters can view this as long as they like, but the jar only shows the entrance unless the character is a Wizard who has taken the Divination school as their chosen one. Such a character has a 25% chance of shifting the view once per minute to any other room in the dungeon, except for Shraevyn’s coffin. Unfortunately, switch views is randomized; roll 1d6 and consult the appropriate room number. If any character touches the surface of the scene, it ripples as though it were water, but they only feel the smooth, solid ceramic jar beneath. As soon as the hand is removed, the scene returns to normal.
  • EnchantmentThe golden surface of this container moves and jumps, and you find yourself gazing upon an intricately crafted sword. Runes of power are etched across the steel blade, seemingly in the shape of the word “Merrydale,” and the whole sword glows with a flaring azure radiance. Opening this jar reveals a bright light, blazing like a torch but giving off no heat or danger if touched. If a weapon or item is placed within the pot, the light will seemingly attach itself to the object, causing it to glow as a torch permanently. Only one such item can be enchanted by this jar at a time; the light within it does not reappear for 1d20 weeks.
  • Negative EnergyThe lid of this jar is missing. Peering inside, you see a dizzying, disorienting sight: it’s like peering into an endless night sky filled with stars, constellations, milky cosmological swirls, and briefly flashing falling stars. This borderless sky seems to rotate ever so slightly, everything orbiting the fulcrum that is where the lid should be. A light wind seems to pick up near the top of the jar, but appears to be sucking into the jar, rather than blowing out of it. Anyone foolish enough to stick an appendage, limb, or object into the pot will discover the power of Necrotic energy as it lashes out from the pot along the object that enters it. Necrotic Energy Trap. Whatever is placed into the jar takes ongoing 1d10 necrotic damage (no save). Anything within a 10-foot burst also takes 1d10 necrotic damage, or half as much damage if they succeed on a Constitution saving throw. Someone who shoves a limb in the pot takes the damage twice (2d10 necrotic damage; no save). Undead would instead be healed for 1d10 or 2d10 hit points.
  • ConjurationThis pot features well-known runes used by Rangers and Druids, depicting warning signs that the lair of dangerous animals is near. Opening the lid of this pot triggers the Monster Summoning trap, 1d4 Giant Scorpions are summoned, appearing randomly in the four corners of the room and attacking. It can be triggered up to three times per day, however.
  • Necromancy: Anyone looking upon the jar must make a Charisma saving throw (DC 15) or become frightened of the jar…which could make moving it around more difficult.
  • Evocation: The Electric Shock trap works as follows. Upon touching the jar for the first time, electricity crackles and springs from it (+7 melee spell attack, 2d8 lightning damage and the character is stunned for 1d4 rounds if they fail a Constitution save DC 15; they may make a new save each round to recover).

Giving Them A Clue. If this task seems too difficult, or if the party seems to be getting it wrong more often than not, triggering monsters and traps galore, feel free to drop the following hints via Shraevyn’s magic mouth on the silver door.

  • “Do not charm what has been blown to cinders.” Enchantment vs. Evocation.
  • “Even if you cannot peer across the boundaries of planes, you might still summon powers through it.” Divination vs. Conjuration.
  • “Only that which is immutable can be protected for long.” Transmutation vs. Abjuration.
  • “Can a skeleton warrior see a mirage?” Necromancy vs. Illusion.

5. Shrine to Tymora

I recommend that Areas 5, 6, and 7 get tailored to the needs of your campaign. Still, I’ve provided a few ideas to kick-start things.

For this area, consider Shock Treatment, from The Wurst of Grimtooth’s Traps (p. 34). Simply put, this is a trap wherein anyone mishandling the treasures in the fountain of water surrounding this shrine to Tymora will be attacked by a staff held in the statue’s arms, but the attack is very clumsy, and unlikely to hit anyone but the clumsiest of treasure-seekers (+0 to hit, d6 bludgeoning damage). The problem is that if the staff misses, anytime it hits the water in the fountain, it sends out an electrical charge affecting anyone touching the water (5d6 lightning damage, Dexterity saving throw for half). Put some nice coins and treasure in there, and the PCs will be in for a surprise!

6. Treasure Room and Portal

The portal located here goes to the Ethereal Plane, and leads to another portal that goes to Sigil, the City of Doors (or to any location you wish to toss the player characters). The door to this chamber can be trapped with Giant’s Razor, from The Worst of Grimtooth’s Traps (p. 110), or if you plan to use Sigil as the destination, you can use something thematic like Razorvine or other hazards from the Dungeon Master’s Guide.

7. Shraevyn’s Coffin

Guarding the coffin is a Helmed Horror, initially standing like a statue in one corner of the room, holding two greatswords. The swords animate as soon as combat starts, becoming 2 Flying Swords that work in concert with the helmed horror. In the coffin is whatever treasure best fits your campaign needs, likely a +1 weapon with one or two unique abilities (The Sword of the Dales was presented as a long sword with magical properties that included freeing entangled or bound creatures, for instance).

This is a great area to spice up the lore of your campaign, featuring either historical texts or runic carvings along the walls that might create a more rich backstory for the setting (hitting up the Forgotten Realms wiki can provide plenty of material).

The Flaming Tower

The Flaming Tower and the Temple in the Sky as presented in The Daggerdale Project can be nearly used as-is, but note that it is a well-stocked, well-guarded fortress featuring dozens of Zhentish soldiers, griffons, gnolls, a few fire giants, and a beholder. The key here to presenting this as anything other than a massive battle is to remember that the Zhentarim in the Tower and the monsters led by the beholder, Xulla, in the Temple don’t really get along. Use that for some roleplaying opportunities, and consider weaving a story wherein the players visit the Tower under peaceful — if only grudgingly! — auspices.

To repeat the forces in each location if you wish to tailor your own dungeon maps for this area:

NPCs in the Flaming Tower

  • Zhent Archers x40 (guards, arm them with bows and crossbows)
  • Zhent Lieutenants x40 (veterans)
  • Zhent Sergeants x10 (bandit captain)
  • Zhent Elite Soldiers x20 (knights)
  • Zhent Soldiers x30 (guards)
  • Wallach, Cleric of Xvim (priest, consider swapping out cleric spells for spells from the warlock to better simulate a demon-worshipper)
  • Lundar, Murdoch, Yurdd, and Bethlu, Acolytes of Xvim (acolyte, consider giving them a single warlock or cleric spell that might simulate a demon-worshipper)
  • Beltush, Kindur, Klasch, Nurying – Zhent Mages (mages)

NPCs of the Temple in the Sky

  • Fire Giants x5
  • Gnoll Warriors x30
  • Zhentish Soldiers x10 (guards or knights that are trained to ride the griffons; depends on how hard you want the fights to be!)
  • Griffons x6
  • Xulla, Beholder

Encounter Tables

Use the following encounter tables for random encounters in Daggerdale. Note that this sandbox assumes the characters will spend much of their time around Dagger Falls and the central wilderness, so those tables are fairly large.

The tables are divided by region according to the map below. These regions are roughly grouped by encounter levels, noted below. All bold monster or NPC types refer to monsters from the Monster Manual.

Just figure out what hex the characters are in and roll on the appropriate table as needed; the wilderness adventuring rules in the Dungeon Master’s Guide should be your reference. However, you can also refer to my more in-depth wilderness adventuring and random wilderness encounter house rules.

Daggerdale 1-mile hex map

Daggerdale 1-mile hex map

Daggerdale North

This covers Dagger Falls and its immediate vicinity.

Dagger Falls has fallen under the control of the Zhentarim — led by Constable Tren Noemfor (an NPC assassin), who is barely holding onto his leadership position despite being a fairly capable political mastermind — and thus is heavily patrolled and fairly safe. Because it’s a major trade route from Zhentil Keep through to the mines in the Tethyamar Mountains under the control of the Zhents, there are plenty of traders and merchants traveling through here, and thus even rebels and anti-Zhentarim forces are fairly safe in the city, as long as they don’t gather in large mobs and make too much of a ruckus.

Also in operation in Dagger Falls is the resurrected Mage-Lord, Colderan Morn (an NPC mage), a distant relative of Randal Morn. In the module Doom of Daggerdale, Colderan terrorizes the city with the Net of Dreams and a horde of creatures called nightshades. To avoid having to create a new monster, and to add variety to spice up some of the encounters, I’ve changed the nightshades to the various blights from the Monster Manual.

Finally, to help reveal that Constable Tren’s rule is tenuous, I’ve cast Ilthond (from the Randal Morn trilogy) as an NPC mage that is sent by the Zhentarim to keep an eye on Tren, and eventually replace him if he cannot defeat Randal Morn and the resistance aligned against the Zhentarim. He doesn’t stay in Dagger Falls constantly, but simply shows up to shake things up.

Daggerdale North Encounter Table (levels 1-5)

When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d20.

  1. Mounted Zhentarim patrol. Zhent veteran; 2d4 guards; 50% chance of an acolyte; and all of them riding warhorses.
  2. Freedom Rider patrol. Knight; 2d4 scouts; and 50% chance of an acolyte, all upon riding horses.
  3. Wolf pack. 1d6+1 Wolves.
  4. Goblinoid mercenaries. These Zhent-aligned goblinoids consist of 1d6 hobgoblins and 2d4 goblins, with a 10% chance of also having 1 worg.
  5. Great Red Ghost. A naturally occurring atmospheric phenomenon that looks as if crimson circles are wavering over the Dagger Hills. Locals might know about this.
  6. Zhentarim foot patrol (usually closer to Dagger Falls or some other steading). 1 Zhent veteran; 2d4 guards.
  7. Dwarven traders. 9 dwarven commoners and 1d4 caravan guards, traveling with 1d4 carts (each pulled by 2 oxen).
  8. Creepy crawlies. 2d6 giant fire beetles and 1d6 giant centipedes feast on the body of a giant lizard, draft horse, or the like.
  9. Dragon scouts. 2d10 kobolds are tracking Zhent or goblinoid movements as they seek to establish some sort of lair they can entice a dragon to settle in.
  10. Shattered Stone Orcs. 1d4 orcs on the Zhent payroll prowl around with their trained attack boar.
  11. Nightshades. 2d4 twig blights scour the wilderness at night, seeking victims for the Net of Dreams.
  12. Zhentish caravan. This is a caravan of two oxen-drawn carts bound for Zhentil Keep. The merchant (a commoner) is escorted by a commander (a hobgoblin) astride a Worg and 4 half-orc guards.
  13. Undead. 1 wight and 1d4 zombies lurk in the darkness. If combat lasts 5+ rounds, another 1d4 zombies appear on the scene.
  14. Spiders! 2 giant spiders lurk in the trees.
  15. Nightshades. 3d4 twig blights scour the wilderness at night, seeking victims for the Net of Dreams.
  16. Zhentarim foot patrol (usually closer to Dagger Falls or some other steading). 1 Zhent veteran; 2d4 guards.
  17. Mounted Zhentarim patrol. Zhent veteran; 2d4 guards; 50% chance of an acolyte; and all of them riding warhorses.
  18. Freedom Rider patrol.Knight; 2d4 scouts; and 50% chance of an acolyte, all upon riding horses.
  19. There/Not There! A pack of 1d4 blink dogs harry the party, attempting to lure them away from some sacred ruins (that otherwise appear meaningless, should the party find them).
  20. Zhentarim foot patrol (usually closer to Dagger Falls or some other steading). 1 Zhent veteran; 2d4 guards.

Daggerdale Central

This region covers most of the terrain immediately south of Dagger Falls and along the central area of Daggerdale, where the majority of the towns and villages are located. This table is balanced for character levels 1-6.

When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d20.

  1. Empty tummy. A black bear is spotted eating berries. He’s been starved for a while, and oddly enough, is trained. Any successful (easy) attempt to make him friendly gains the party his services for up to 1d4 encounters before he wanders off.
  2. Ravenous. 1d4+2 bloodhawks pick off some helpless straggler (a commoner, if there are no small party members). They are ravenous, though won’t fight to the death if soundly beaten.
  3. Mounted Zhentarim patrol. Zhent veteran (Captain Eli Marshking); 2d4 guards; 50% chance of an acolyte; and all of them riding warhorses.
  4. Dwarven scavengers. 1d4 dwarven scouts and 1d4 dwarven guards are headed for Eagle’s Eyrie to see what they can find.
  5. Big Belly Raiders. 2d4 goblin raiders of the Big Belly tribe, led by a bugbear.
  6. Mobats. 1d4 giant bats swoop down at night to feed.
  7. Nightshades. 3d4 twig blights scour the wilderness at night, seeking victims for the Net of Dreams.
  8. The Giant and His Dog. An ogre (Poolar) and his pet giant hyena (Bluetooth) comes down from the Desertsmouth Mountains to the Tesh River valley.
  9. Freedom Rider patrol.Captain Reiner Trall (a knight); 2d4 scouts; and 50% chance of an acolyte, all upon riding horses.
  10. Wolf pack. 1d6 Wolves led by 1d4 dire wolves.
  11. Shiftless bandits. 10+1d10 bandits and their leader, a thug, astride riding horses terrorize the local farmsteads, or camp among some ruins.
  12. Zhentish caravan. Five oxen-drawn carts are bound for the nearest steading. The caravan includes Red Morgan (NE male human assassin), Mistress Mara Trollsblood (LE female half-orc berserker) astride Fire’s Rage (warhorse), 7 guards (some acting as drovers for the carts), and 10 oxen (2 per cart).
  13. Hell on high. 2 harpies prowl the landscape.
  14. Nature’s guardians. 1d2 centaurs prowl the countryside with their trained 1d4 blood hawks, seeking goblinoids or Zhents to harry.
  15. Undead. 1d4 ghouls lurk in the darkness. If combat lasts 5+ rounds, 1d4 zombies appear on the scene, with an additional 1d6 zombies arriving every two rounds (until a total of 20 zombies have arrived).
  16. Great Red Ghost. A naturally occurring atmospheric phenomenon that looks as if crimson circles are wavering over the Dagger Hills. Locals might know about this.
  17. Zhentarim foot patrol (usually closer to Dagger Falls or some other steading). 1 Zhent veteran; 2d6 guards; 1 acolyte.
  18. Dragon slavers. 4d6 kobolds are searching for a new lair. They are accompanied by 2 giant lizards carrying their wares, and a single gnoll slave in manacles and barely alive (1 hp, currently).
  19. Slavers.A group of slavers is transporting 1d6 commoner slaves to Zhentil Keep or the Flaming Tower. The slavers consist of 1 priest, 1 thug, and 2d4 bandits.
  20. Predators. 1d2 owl bears are terrorizing the surrounding countryside.

So peaceful. So calm. So filled with drow machinations deep underground.

Shadowdale Vicinity

Appropriate for low- to mid-levels (3-8). When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d20.

  1. 1d6 Ankhegs assault any passersby, starving for food.
  2. A single Ettin Farg Thunderbloat — is washing up in a small pond.
  3. 4d6 Goblins from the Clan of the Broken Bones, led by their Goblin Boss, Stez. These goblins are extremely primitive, relying on clubs and bone/stone spears. They have an irrational fear of both fire and water, drinking only fermented berry juice. As such, they are regularly quite drunk, and filthy besides.
  4. 1d6+1 Centaurs, out looking for the Broken Bones goblins. The leader, Feerond, can provide a single casting of Legend Lore if they make a particularly good impression on him.
  5. Lost! Regardless of the party’s ability to navigate the wilderness, the forest and hills seem to twist and turn their path, causing them to lose several hours. (This trumps the wilderness navigation rules in the Wilderness Exploration System.)
  6. 1d4 Goblins from the Clan of the Broken Bones are lost, split up from their group (see #3). Probably more from being drunk than anything else.
  7. Ranger. Holly Huldane, LG female human Scout with her Blood Hawk companion Skymark. She knows of Emerash (#8), the Werewolf (#17), and the Goblins (#3).
  8. Emerash, LE Green Dragon Wyrmling; he’s currently building an underground lair deep down a cavernous hole in the forest floor. He’s impetuous and foolhardy, speaking and acting quickly and without much thought. That said, he’s not particularly violent; he’d rather build up an army then commit himself to danger.
  9. 3 Cultists led by a Cult Fanatic (Saerahd Shadowmourn), all initiates of the Cult of the Dragon, in service to the dracolich Derimos the Grim and in search of Emerash.
  10. Lost! Regardless of the party’s ability to navigate the wilderness, the forest and hills seem to twist and turn their path, causing them to lose several hours.
  11. 1d3 Brown Bears raid a nest of bees to get some honey. The bees may swarm (treat as a Swarm of Insects) and attack, causing the bears to become enraged from pain.
  12. Insect Swarm. 2 Swarms of Insects assail the group, appearing seemingly out of nowhere. Investigation suggests a supernatural origin, but no assailant can be uncovered.
  13. 2 Owlbears prowl the wilderness. They are unlikely to attack a large group, instead stalking them and hoping for someone to wander off alone. If attacked or if the party remains together, the Owlbears break off after an hour or two.
  14. 8 Skeletons rise out of the woods as night falls and begin trekking aimlessly northward. They only engage if attacked, and come daylight, they crumble into lifeless piles again until nightfall. This routine seemingly has no end.
  15. 1d20 Giant Wolf Spiders lair nearby, and send out a party to attack trespassers.
  16. Pilgrims. A band of pilgrims travels on foot, seeking a new home after their home in Cormyr, near the Stonelands, was attacked by Orcs. This group includes 1d12 Commoners, and 1d4 Bandits. They beg for alms.
  17. Wolfman. A lone Werewolf stalks the party, waiting for nightfall to sneak up on a party member or their mounts and attempt to drag them off.
  18. Orc Raiders. 1d4+2 Orcs led by an Orc Eye of Gruumsh named Bogakh scour the area. They are part of a larger force of 2d12 Orcs and an Orc War Chief lairing in a ruined dwarven lookout tower.
  19. 1d4 Giant Wolf Spiders and a single Giant Spider, ravenous, burst forth from the trees to attack the party.
  20. 1d4 dead adventurers hang suspended in the trees, cocooned in spider webs. Roll again twice, combining the encounters as creatures are drawn to the scent of fresh blood (or the scene of a fight, perhaps via having found discarded or dropped equipment).

The Dagger Hills

Appropriate for levels 3-6. When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d12.

  1. Zhent Patrol. A Zhent captain — a Knight named Lurlakh Ombur — and 1d6+4 Guards patrol on Warhorses.
  2. Bandits. Alarim Renta, the Bandit Captain (NE half-orc); 12 Bandits (NE human warrior 1), 13 medium warhorses. These bandits are sympathetic to the Freedom Riders.
  3. 1d4 Half-ogre raiders returning from an unsuccessful raid against a camp of nearby goblins (see #8).
  4. 2d4 Wolves led by a Dire Wolf.
  5. 5d6 wild horses (treat them as Riding Horses) graze freely.
  6. Hill Dwarf Enclave. A band of hill dwarves have fashioned a lair from the ruins of an old, dwarven watchtower that was destroyed by the Drow in ages past. They have a working well, a ballista on the tower, and have fashioned a shrine nearby to Gorm Gulthyn, the dying guardian god of the dwarves. The enclave includes 2d10 Commoners, 1d10 Guards, 1d4 Acolytes, a Priest (Tauroon the Barakor), and the leader, Angrath Braeror (a Noble).
  7. The Firedrake. A Red Dragon Wyrmling, the victim of a feeblemind spell that it can’t shake, listlessly sunbathes on a hill. It is only violent if attacked, otherwise it looks upon others with sorrow-filled eyes as it struggles to remember languages, and seeks the empathy and compassion of passersby. If some effort can be made to convince the creature that it can be healed of this affliction (a nearly impossible feat), it may accompany the party, though will rarely help, instead wandering off and being generally distracted.
  8. 2d6+3 tribeless Goblins scavenge for food with their 1d4 Wolf pets and their 2 Kenku slaves.
  9. Captain Mestin “Troll” Durmark (LG female human ranger) (20% chance) or Ariton Delmis (LG human male paladin) and 1d12 Freedom Riders (human Scouts) patrol the hills on horseback (Riding Horses).
  10. Slavers. 2d10 Bandits and a Bandit Captain (Falindra). There’s a 20% chance they already have 1d4 Commoner slaves with them, usually criminals, though sometimes innocent farmers.
  11. Vermin. 1d4 Ankhegs are looking for easy prey.
  12. 1d6+6 Orcs from a Shattered Stone Orc war band. Their leader is an Eye of Gruumsh named Oowotah. She is cunning, prone to setting ambushes and knowing when to back down to fight another day.


Appropriate for levels 2-5. When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d6. If the encounter occurs at nighttime, add +4 to the roll.

  1. Shadowdale Patrol. Captain of the Patrol Rethan the Black (NG human Veteran), leads 3d4 Guards and a single Griffon.
  2. Caravan. 3d4 Guards accompany a single, horse-drawn wagon (Draft Horses) filled with weapons headed to the Moonsea region. The drover is Resker (a Commoner) and the merchant is the Elf Starhaven (a Noble).
  3. 2d4 Bandits, their Bandit Captain Aglavia Soulrim, and their pet Blink Dog Asher are looking to liberate some money from passersby.
  4. Shadowdale Patrol. Captain of the Patrol Arlborn Stormcloak (LG human Knight), leads 3d4 Guards on horseback (Warhorses).
  5. The Wandering Priestess. Lady Priestess Antonia Goodchance (CG human female Priest of Tymora) is traveling the land, inspiring people to take risks in pursuing their dreams, and rely on boldness to gain the favor of The Smiling Lady. Those who are bold can gain her favor as well, in one of the following ways (per party): (1) Healing of up to 1d4 individuals of 2d4+2 hit points or the removal of one condition each. (2) A gift of 1d4 healing potions. (3) Casting of Tymora’s Favor upon a single individual, conferring a bonus to saving throws that lasts until expended, being a +4 bonus on the first save, +3 on the second, +2 on the third, and +1 on the fourth save, at which point the spell’s power is exhausted.
  6. 1d4 Skeletons rise up and attack. Another 2 Skeletons rise up every round until eight total have risen.
  7. Adventurers. Six adventurers travel the land, looking for monsters to slay and treasures to liberate; they may be short-term allies, information-brokers, rivals, or outright enemies. Felthaeran, a mandolin-playing Bandit Captain (CN human female). Haelgatha, a Berserker (CN half-orc female). Indarn, an Acolyte, and Felthaeran’s androgynous lover (NE half-elf male). Glaemtree, Glower, and Eldrake, Bandits (CN female, male, and male).
  8. Weather Change. The looming clouds begin to rain down heavy hailstones, damaging everyone for 1d6 bludgeoning damage. Unless cover is sought immediately, another 1d6 bludgeoning is dealt every hour in the severe hail storm. It lasts for four hours.
  9. Raiding Party. 2d6+2 Hobgoblins (LE, HD 1+1), led by Draahg (maximum hit points).
  10. Razed Farmstead. A farmstead stands abandoned and largely burnt, ruined. It appears as if Orcs or Goblins attacked. No bodies nor survivors are found, though there might (20% chance) be a hidden cache of treasure among the ruins, containing some valuable gems and a few low-level wizard spell scrolls.


Appropriate for levels 4-8. When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d10. If the encounter occurs at nighttime, add +2 to the roll.

  1. Predators. 1d4 Saber-toothed Tigers prowl the landscape.
  2. Odd Couple. A twisted Dryad (Leethila; change Alignment to Neutral Evil) and a Displacer Beast seek the loggers that have destroyed their home. These are, in fact, Zhents working to build Tethyamar Fortress, but the Dryad doesn’t know that.
  3. Mounted Zhentarim patrol. Zhent veteran (Thorald Brondaxe); 2d4 guards; 50% chance of an acolyte; and all of them riding warhorses.
  4. Dwarven scavengers. 1d4 dwarven scouts and 1d4 dwarven guards are headed for nearby ruins to see what they can find. Some names: Hothlas, Morbane, Gaunthan.
  5. Freedom Rider patrol. 20% chance led by Captain Mestin “Troll” Durmark (LG female human ranger). Otherwise just 1d4 Scouts, 1d6 Guards, all on Riding Horses.
  6. Wolf pack. 1d6 Wolves led by 1d4 dire wolves.
  7. Shiftless bandits. Led by a Berserker (Haurek) and his right-hand man, a Thug (Volf), with 2d4 Bandits. They prey on Freedom Riders and Zhents alike.
  8. Zhentish caravan – Slaves. A single wagon, drawn by two Draft Horses, holds 2d6 Commoner slaves (all criminals), a Veteran (Belomyr Hael) and Scout (Tarl) as drovers, and 2d8 Guards on foot (armed with heavy crossbows).
  9. Zhentish caravan – The Spoils of Tethyamar Mines. A Priest of Bane (Shambarin) and a Zhent Knight (Sindaryna) astride Warhorses lead a caravan of four ox-drawn wagons, 2 commoner drovers per wagon, and 3d4 Guards upon Riding Horses. Their wagons are laden with iron and silver ore in addition to foodstuffs.
  10. Shattered Stone Orcs. A party of Shattered Stone Orcs scout the land. Their party includes 1 Orog, 1d4 Orcs, and 3 Goblin slaves.
  11. Undead. A Wight leads a pack of 4 Skeletons, all of them riding Skeleton Warhorses.
  12. The Griffon. A lone Griffon watches the party from afar. Any attempts to approach it or communicate with it cause it to dismissively fly away.

Spiderhaunt & Vicinity

Appropriate for levels 2-6. When a random encounter is triggered, roll 1d12.

  1. Gnome-hunting. 2d4 Goblins, part of the Gnomecrusher Band, is out looking for gnomes to crush. They are accompanied by their pets, 1d4 Giant Wolf Spiders. They are shitty hunters, crashing through the woods, loudly singing songs of cooking gnomes in stew.
  2. Broken Heart. A sickened Treant named Imladrarra is the guardian of this wood, having failed miserably and now aching for the damage done by Gothyl, the undead, and the evil spiders.She is lost in confusion and despair, barely able to point out local landmarks, and only gives vague directions. She is considered to be suffering from the effects of Exhaustion level 4 (hp maximum halved, Disadvantage on attacks and saves, speed halved, Disadvantage on ability checks).
  3. Gnomish Caravan. A trade caravan from Stormpemhauder that regularly heads to Anathar’s Dell is either heading to or from that hamlet (50% chance of either destination). It is made up of caravan leader Saunter Yildree (treat as a Gnome Spy) and guarded by 3d4 Gnome warriors (Tribal Warriors). It consists of single, large wagon lashed to an Awakened Tree.
  4. Protectors of the Wood. Trueshaper Deltoor Rillian (N human male Druid), and 3 initiates of Chauntea (N human Acolytes) seek a means to heal the Treant Imladrarra (see #2). They are at a loss how to do so, but suspect the Dream-Tower and the spider-lairs throughout the wood are among the causes for her sickness.
  5. 1d6 Worgs with 1d6 Dire Wolves prowl the forest, preying on anything smaller than themselves.
  6. 2d4 Giant Wolf Spiders attack from the trees.
  7. 3d4 Kobolds attempt to pilfer anything of value they might come across via any means: larceny, trickery, “charging a tax,” or whatever. They are not brave. They bring anything of value with them on the long journey to the Dracolich Ashazstamn, who lairs in the mountains above the Spiderhaunt. They are armed with polearms and flasks of oil…
  8. 1d4+4 Gnoll travelers skulk by. They are not seeking trouble, but will follow travelers about until another encounter occurs, and if the opportunity presents itself, they will attack a weakened force to gain some loot.
  9. Elias Trollsblood,” actually a Doppleganger, masquerading as a wounded old tracker from Tilverton that was set upon by Orcs. He joins the PCs…until he can get one alone.
  10. 3d4 Giant Fire Beetles feast on carrion.
  11. 1d12 Giant Spiders lurk in trapdoor-style pits and attack anything that walks over them.
  12. Statuesque. A dying Satyr (Malvaeros “Mal” Harrowhand) has been turned to stone by a Cockatrice…but not before having delivered a telling blow to the creature. It has half of its hit points left. The satyr’s petrification ends in 24 hours, but he dies soon after without aid.

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9 comments on “Dungeons & Dragons 5E: The Daggerdale Campaign Sandbox
  1. So this is pretty awesome. I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for the Sword of the Dales trilogy, even though the adventures are arguably (or not-so-arguably, as it is) railroady crap. I’m really looking forward to seeing what else you do with this region and project.

  2. Great stuff! You should really break out the module conversion into it’s own separate (but linked) article as it can stand alone from the other content related to the sandbox article.

  3. Brandon D says:

    Hey, how did you create the really pretty Daggerdale region map near the top?

  4. Mel Riffe says:

    Just checking in to say, “Thanks for this page, and its sister page.” I recently discovered these goodies when I started writing the next chapter in my homespun campaign: it’s taking place in 1372 DR, in Dagger Falls. 😀

    Via DMs Guild I picked up Doom of Daggerdale and the Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3e. I was not looking forward to converting them to 5e. Your work here is going to safe me a butt-load of time. 😀


    • neuronphaser says:

      Glad it helps!

      I’m currently working on similar material for the City of Greyhawk and the surrounding region. I really enjoy zooming in at the level of a more “focused” — dare I say “typical?” — campaign-sized area.

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