Desert Encounters for your Dungeons and Dragons Adventures

"Several rough-looking humans are searching the rocks around a large distinctive cactus. A half orc shouts at them as she hacks chunks from the cacti."

Desert Encounters for Dungeons and Dragons

"Several rough-looking humans are searching the rocks around a large distinctive cactus. A half orc shouts at them as she hacks chunks from the cacti."

Generated from the Desert Locations and tables below. Encounter Tables for Desert Creatures (levels 1-4, 5-10, 11+), Beasts, Humanoids, Monsters and Spirits.

Desert Encounter Tables - creatures | locations | non-combat | enhancements

[Photo by Cody Doherty on Unsplash]. Updated from original article in 2018

Desert Levels 1-4

1d8+1d12Desert Levels 1-4
2 1 blue dragon wyrmling or 1 revenant
3 3d6 tribal warriors and 1 berserker with 5d6 camels or 1 couatl
4 1d2 giant scorpions or 1d4 stone cursed (MToF)
5 1d4+1 kobolds with 1d2 giant toads or roll on Kobold Encounters
6 1d4+1 thri-kreen or roll on Desert Monsters lvl 1-4
7 1d4 gnolls and 2d4 hyenas or roll on Gnolls lvl 1-4
8 1d6+1 jackalweres or 1d2 leucrotta (VGtM)
9 1 giant hyenas and 2d6 hyenas or roll on Beast Encounters
10 1d4+1 death dogs or roll on Desert Monsters lvl 1-4
11 3d6 camels or roll on Beast Encounters
12 2d6 bandits led by 1 bandit captain or roll on Humanoid Encounters
13 1d6+1 dust mephits or Desert Spirits lvl 1-4
14 2d6 tribal warriors on camels or roll on Humanoid Encounters
15 1d4 giant vultures or 1 dybbuk (MToF) possessing a giant hyena
16 1 lamia or 1d3 guard drakes (blue, VGtM)
17 1 yuan-ti malison and 1d2 yuan-ti purebloods or roll on Yuan-ti lvl 1-4
18 1d4 lions or 1d4 vargouilles (VGtM)
19 1d4+1 scouts or 2d4 firenewts (VGtM)
20 1d2 mummies or 1 fire elemental

Desert Encounters

The desert conjures images of sun-blasted wastes, stark canyons and sandy ridges. Encounters may take place at a well-guarded oasis, a lonely mesa, among half buried ruins or in the bed of a dried up river.

A place of death and daily struggle against the elements, it is the home of nomadic herders, desperate outcasts and the souls and remains of many who have perished.

There is a 5e desert random encounter generator at ChaosGen. And also a pdf of these and more tables at the DM's Guild as Desert Encounters.

Table Rolls - Desert Encounters Terrain Encounters Bundle for 5e

All terrains - arctic | coastal | desert | forest | grassland | hill | jungle | mountain | swamp | underdark | underwater | urban

Desert Levels 5-10

1d8+1d12Desert Levels 5-10
2 1 efreet or 1 roc
3 1 young blue dragon or 1d2 of the lonely (MToF)
4 1 fire giant with 2d4 death dogs or 1 kruthi hive lord (MToF) and 1d8 adult kruthiks (MToF)
5 1d4 were-tigers or 1 githyanki gish (MToF)
6 1d2 medusas or 1 warlock of the fiend (VGtM) with 1d6 berserkers
7 1d2 yuan-ti abominations or roll on Yuan-ti lvl 5-10
8 1 guardian naga or roll on Desert Monsters lvl 5-10
9 3d6 gnolls with 1 gnoll pack lord or roll on Gnolls lvl 5-10
10 1d2 lamias and 2d4 jackalweres or roll on Desert Monsters lvl 5-10
11 Roll on Desert Levels 1-4 table or 2d6+2 thri-kreen
12 1d4 fire elementals or roll on Desert Spirits lvl 5-10
13 2d4+1 berserkers on camels or 1d4+1 tlincalli (VGtM)
14 2d6 giant hyenas and 2d6 hyenas and 1 gnoll fang of Yeenoghu or 1d2 howlers (MToF)
15 1d6+2 mummies or roll on Desert Spirits lvl 5-10
16 2d6 hobgoblins and 1 hobgoblin captain on camels or 1 champion (VGtM) with 4d6 guards
17 2d4 giant scorpions or 1 necromancer (VGtM) and 1d2 spawn of kyuss (VGtM)
18 2d6 yuan-ti malisons or 1 war priest (VGtM) with 1d4 scouts and 2d6 tribal warriors
19 1 cyclops with 3d6 camels or 1 githzerai enlightened (MToF)
20 1 young brass dragon or 1 gynosphinx

Desert Levels 11+

1d8+1d12Desert Levels 11+
2 1 adult brass dragon or 1 zaratan (MToF)
3 1 djinn and 1d4 air elementals or 1 storm giant quintessent (VGtM)
4 2 young brass dragons or 1 retriever (MToF)
5 1 efreet and 1d4 fire elementals or 1d3 orthons (MToF)
6 1 androsphinx or 1 oinoloth (MToF)
7 2d4 salamanders or 1 yuan-ti anathema (VGtM) with 1 yuan-ti pit master (VGtM) and 2d4 yuan-ti broodguards (VGtM)
8 2d4+2 were-tigers or 1 phoenix (MToF)
9 1d2 gynosphinxes or 1d2 eidolons (MToF)
10 2d4 fire elementals or 2d6 berserkers with 1 champion (VGtM) and 1 war priest (VGtM)
11 Roll on Desert Levels 5-10 table or 1 yuan-ti anathema (VGtM) with 2d4 yuan-ti malisons
12 2d6 yuan-ti malisons and 1d3 yuan-ti abominations or 1 necromancer (VGtM) with 2d6 mummies
13 3d6 wights or 1d4+1 howlers (MToF)
14 1 purple worm or 1 githaynki kith'rak (MToF) with 1d3 githyanki Knights
15 2d4 air elementals or 1 skull lord (MToF)
16 2 young blue dragons or 1 ki-rin (VGtM)
17 1d3 guardian nagaor 1d2 boneclaws (MToF)
18 1 adult blue dragon or 1 githyani supreme commander (MToF) with 2d4 githyanki warriors (MToF)
19 1 mummy lord and 1d3+1 mummies or 1 nagpa (MTof)
20 1 adult blue dracolich or 1 nightwalker (MToF)

Desert Beasts (Levels 1-4)

1d8+1d12Desert Beasts (Levels 1-4)
2 1d4+1 death dogs
3 1d6 flying snakes or 1d2 phase spiders
4 2d4 giant wolf spiders
5 2d6 giant fire beetles or 1d6 giant poisonous snakes
6 3d6 hyenas led by 1 giant hyena
7 1 giant constrictor snake
8 1d4+1 giant hyenas
9 1d2 giant scorpions
10 4d6 hyenas
11 3d6 camels
12 2d4 giant lizards
13 1d4 giant vultures
14 1d4 swarms of insects
15 1d4 lions or 1 giant vulture and 2d4 vultures
16 2d4 mules with pack saddles
17 1d4 giant toads
18 1d4 giant spiders
19 2d6 stirges
20 1 pseudodragon

Desert Humanoids (Levels1-4)

1d8+1d12Desert Humanoids (Levels1-4)
2 1 weretiger or 1 tlincalli (VGtM)
3 3d6 tribal warriors and 1 berserker
4 1d3 ogres
5 1 druid with ... 1d2 giant hyenas (or roll on Beast Encounters)
6 3d6 commoners with 1d4 camels
7 1d4+1 hobgoblins
8 1d4+1 gnolls led by 1 gnoll pack lord or roll on Gnolls lvl 1-4
9 1d4+1 thri-kreen or 1d2 maezels (MToF)
10 2d6 tribal warriors
11 1d4+1 scouts with 2d6 camels
12 1d6+1 jackalweres
13 2d4 bandits and 1 bandit captain mounted on camels
14 1d3 yuan-ti purebloods with 1 giant constrictor snake or roll on Yuan-ti lvl 1-4
15 1d3 gnolls mounted on giant hyenas or roll on Gnolls lvl 1-4
16 1 lamia or 1d4 firenewts (VGtM) led by 1 firenew warlock of Imix (VGtM)
17 2d4 kobolds with 1d4 winged kobolds or roll on Kobold Encounters
18 2d6 guards with 1d6 mules led by 1 scout
19 1d3 yuan-ti malisons or roll on Yuan-ti lvl 1-4
20 1d4 half-ogres

Desert Monsters (Levels 1-4)

1d4+1d6Desert Monsters (Levels 1-4)
2 1 blue dragon wyrmling
3 1d3 ogres or 1d4+1 giant vultures
4 1 lamia or 1d2 berbalangs (MToF)
5 1d4+1 death dogs
6 1d6 jackalweres
7 1d6+1 dust mephits or roll on Desert Spirits lvl 1-4
8 1d2 phase spiders or 1 adult kruthik (MToF) with 2d4 young kruthiks (VGtM)
9 1d4+1 thri-kreen
10 1 weretiger or 1 spawn of Kyuss (VGtM)

Desert Monsters (Levels 5-10)

1d4+1d6Desert Monsters (Levels 5-10)
2 1 roc or 1d2 stone golems
3 2d4 phase spiders or 1 kruthik hive lord (MToF) and 1d8 adult kruthiks (MToF)
4 1d3 cyclops or 1 orthon (MToF)
5 1d2 lamias with 2d4 jackalweres or 1 rot troll (MToF)
6 1 guardian naga or 1d4+1 tlincalli (VGtM)
7 1d4 fire elementals or roll on Desert Spirits lvl 5-10
8 1d2 fire giants or 1d4 spawn of Kyuss (VGtM)
9 1d2 medusas or 1 rot troll (MToF)
10 1 gynosphinx

Desert Spirits (Levels 1-4)

1d4+1d6Desert Spirits (Levels 1-4)
2 1 fire elemental or 1 revenant
3 1d4 fire snakes or 1 dybbuk (MToF)
4 1d4 mud mephits or 1d4 stone cursed (MToF)
5 1d2 wights
6 1d6+1 dust mephits
7 2d4 skeletons or 1d4 vargouilles (VGtM)
8 1d2 mummies or 1 ghost
9 1 couatl or 1d3 azers
10 1 air elemental or 1 salamander

Desert Spirits (Levels 5-10)

1d4+1d6Desert Spirits (Levels 5-10)
2 1 efreet
3 1d6+2 mummies or 1d2 howlers (MToF)
4 1d4 revenants
5 1d4 fire elementals or 1d4+1 dybbuks (MToF)
6 1d4 salamanders or 1 air elemental and 2d6 dust mephits
7 2d4 wights or 1 summer eladrin (MToF)
8 1d4 air elementals or 1d3 of the lost (MToF)
9 1 couatl with 2d6 flying snakes or 2d6 vargouilles (VGtM)
10 1 djinn or 1 ki-rin (MToF)

More Encounters

For a PDF version of desert encounters with more tables check out Desert Encounters on DM's Guild.

Desert Encounters Terrain Encounters Bundle for 5e

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