Use these thirteen hazard signs, that can each have a completely innocent explanation. These are some examples of how I expose my players to hazards. I give a suspicious explanation as part of the description of the area or room, which has a 50-50 chance of being totally innocent. Trying to get more information doesn’t require a skill check but can take time and is often something the players eschew, as they choose to engage with other things going on.
Thirteen Hazard Signs
-The birds around in the trees have all gone silent. Something big and powerful is afoot. Maybe birds are just weird or there is a hawk that settled in nearby.
-The wind suddenly shifts and billowing clouds move overhead. There is a dangerous storm brewing, you can almost feel electricity in the air. Maybe the clouds are just bringing a quick summer rain.
-A smell of rot hangs in the air. The humidity is so thick even the flies circle slowly. Noxious gases must be leaking up from the ground ahead, hold your breath or you’ll end up like the animals. Maybe a herd was weakened by plague and starved in a clearing nearby.
-Frantic animals stampede past, crushing the plants and pushing past you. Move quick or the explosion of green slime will overwhelm and consume you. Maybe they got spooked by some hunters moving through the area.
-The howling and sqwacking doesn’t seem to end. A hunter’s killing field is just ahead, strewn with painful traps. Maybe the animals are competing for attention with each other, not fearing the random humanoids traipsing through.
-A wide sandy and gravelly area stretches out on your intended path ahead. Quicksand and sinkholes are definitely waiting for you, and that’s why no plants grow there. Maybe it is just a small area too thick with rocks and too dry for plants.
-The temperature suddenly jumps, and the sun beats mercilessly overhead. Dry underbrush must have caught fire and if you don’t hurry you’ll get caught in the exponentially growing flames. Maybe dryer air has just blown in and the clouds moved out of the way of the sun.
-Wind starts to pick up, howling in your ears. A sandstorm is brewing, so you’d better get to cover. Maybe you just walked into a windswept pass between some hills, enjoy the cool breeze.
-Sounds echo around the mountains around you, while the air almost hangs still. Be very quiet or you’ll trigger a landslide. Maybe it is just a cozy, meandering mountain pass in calm weather.
-The plants seem to loom in close, bristling with sharp thorns and twisting vines. Poisonous thorn plants are concealed in the thick brush ahead. Maybe the plants around here are just doing really well, you just happened to notice some thorns.
-You can hear moving water just beyond the next bend of the path. There is a mudslide or flash flood headed your way, and it would be best to find some higher ground. Maybe it is just the tide or some river rapids echoing off a rocky outcropping.
-Vultures circle overhead or scavengers follow just out of sight. There are deadly parasites lurking in the grass or shallow marshy pools, and these animals are waiting for you to perish so they can eat. Maybe they just smell the gore on your weapons and are following the wake of corpses you leave.
-Inky black water fills the crossing or the area around your boat. Do not get in the water or the riptide churning under the surface will pull you under and dash you against the rocks hiding out of sight. Maybe the water here is simply washing deep black silt downstream.