Another 38 Post-Apocalyptic RPG Encounter Seeds

Whether you’re prepping for an upcoming session of Onyx Sky or for an entirely different post-apocalyptic role-playing game, these encounters offer plenty of gameable inspiration.

These example encounters, and scores more, are available in Onyx Sky, now available on DriveThruRPG.

Check out the original 38 encounter seeds.

  • Mimic: The wanderers hear a distant cry for help: “Help me!”, “Please!” Is this a survivor in distress; trapped by animals or droids? Or, is it a battle droid that’s mimicking human voices to lure them into a trap?
  • Mother Lode: The wanderers come across the mother lode, a fully stocked general store. How is the store protected from nanites? Do they take more than they can carry? Do they lock up the store when they finish, or leave it for the nanites? What do they choose to take; food, weapons, or equipment? Do they stay a while to regroup? Do they share their bounty with other survivors? Do they find a back room in the store, filled with neatly arranged cots that show signs or recent use? Will the owners of the store return before the wanderers leave?
  • Mutt: While traveling, the wanderers are shadowed by a mangy dog. It searches their camp for scraps after they break camp, and follows after them each day. Do they feed it? Try to tame it? Is it even a real dog? Does that dog have a lot of meat on it?
  • Old Friends: The wanderers come across someone they’ve met before. Is it someone from their shelter? An enemy or friend? Is this a coincidence or intentional?
  • Outnumbered: The wanderers hear cries for help. When they investigate, they see a few survivors surrounded by a large group of raiders; more even than the wanderers can handle easily. Do the wanderers forsake these poor folk to their grim fate, or help against the odds?
  • Overwatch: When the wanderers are in a tight spot; a fight not going their way or confronted by a group that clearly out-match them. As all seems lost, from nowhere a bullet strikes the leader of their enemies. Boom, headshot. The rest of the enemies scatter in fear. Who fired this shot? Why is someone watching out for them? Can they track this person? Are they being followed? Will the favor ever be called in?
  • Plane Crash: The wanderers come across a deep scar in the landscape, a plane crashed here years ago. The plane is long gone, but the passengers’ desiccated bodies and their luggage are still intact. What might they find among the luggage? Was there an air marshal on board?
  • Pyre: Wanderers see a plume of smoke in the distance. When they approach, they come across a settlement, signs of a massacre, buildings burning. When they investigate, they find the village’s residents burned in a pyre, the source of the smoke that drew them to the settlement. Was this a massacre or a cleansing?
  • Rabies: In a deserted down, the wanderers are stalked by a pack of rabid dogs. Do the wanderers know the dangers of rabies? What steps will the wanderers take to avoid combat with the dogs? If the dogs attack, will the wanderers manage to protect themselves?
  • Rapture: The wanderers encounter a traveling preacher, who claims that the war was the rapture, and only sinners were left behind. Does the preacher offer to absolve their sins? Does the preacher know oddly specific details of their travels? Has the preacher been following the wanderers or does he have some kind of gift? What future does he prophesize for the wanderers?
  • Riders: The wanderers come across a small group of survivors on horseback. Are these people a threat? Do the wanderers engage with them to trade, to talk, or to size them up for shakedown? Are the riders stronger than they appear from a distance? Are their horses fit or starving nags?
  • Rival Wanderers: The wanderers come across another group, similar to their own, competing for the same goal (scavenging from the same town, recovering the same tech, etc). Do they team up or try to warn off the other group? Are they rivals or friends? Can they trust each other?
  • Road Agents: Traveling near an old-world city, the wanderers are stopped on the road by a group claiming to be the ‘law’. They accuse the wanderers of some crime (frankly, they’ve probably done something to justify this), and demand they pay restitution. Do the wanderers recognize these agents’ authority? Do the road agents look strong or weak? Do they challenge the road agents? Do the wanderers agree to pay the restitution? Is this payment enough for the road agents, or do they demand more?
  • Roadside Eats: At a crossroad, the wanderers come across a grubby survivor cooking over a fire. He has various meats on sticks; rat, sparrow, mouse, cat, and dog. He’s also offering discount meat, but he’s cagey about the origin of this meat. Is this human flesh? Do the wanderers care? Where did he get human meat?
  • Robbers: The wanderers are run down or ambushed by a group of robbers. Are these robbers stronger or weaker than the wanderers? Do they want food, weapons, or something else? Do they want just some of what the wanderers have, something specific, or all of their possessions? Or are they desperate for medication for one of their own?
  • Roughnecks: While in a peaceful settlement, the wanderers are witness to an altercation that’s instigated by a few uncouth but formidable brothers. During the altercation, several of the townsfolk are injured, including bystanders. Without law, will the wanderers step in to maintain order? Would it be so bad if these guys just, you know, left town? And even if the wanderers ask nicely, will the brothers move on?
  • Ruggedized: In their travels, the wanderers find a heavily ruggedized hardcase. The case is locked, and has no visible mechanism to unlock it. Inset in the lid is a screen that shows a message when touched: “Challenge Code: Echo Alpha Zulu Yankee”. Following that message, a keyboard appears on the touchscreen. How much battery remains? What is this device? Can they work out the challenge code? And if they do, what does it reveal?
  • Sacrifice: The wanderers come upon a group of fervent cultists. Their leader claims a vision of a promised land, but demands a blood sacrifice. Does one of the cultists volunteer, or do they ‘volunteer’ an elderly or young member of the group? Do the wanderers intervene? Is this promised land a delusion, or is it the place the wanderers are already trying to reach?
  • Seed Dilemma: In a settlement, the wanderers find the starving inhabitants arguing about whether they should eat their store of seed potatoes. If they eat the potatoes, they will survive the year, but surely perish the next year. If they save the potatoes, then not all of them will survive the winter. Do the wanderers intervene, or try to help? Do the wanderers want the seed potatoes for themselves?
  • Sentinel: During their travels, the wanderers spot a drone that regularly circles high above them. Where is it coming from? Is it watching them specifically? Can they track it back to its base? Is the drone armed? Do they have something that the drone is tasked to erase from the world?
  • Seized: In a settlement, a convoy of vehicles show up, claiming to be a Reunited States of America (or other suitable country) agency. They demand the townsfolk hand over their stores of food and water, under orders from the RSA government. Are these people actually from the government? Are they well armed and disciplined, or a rabble? What are they offering in return? Do the wanderers try to turn them away? If they wanderers deny them the supplies, how do these people react?
  • Sitting Ducks: The wanderers come across a small hungry-looking group huddled around a small fire. They are cooking a scrawny rabbit. Does this group have something the wanderers need? Do the wanderers trade, or just take what they want?
  • Slaughter: The wanderers come across the aftermath of a recent ambush; a battle-damaged caravan, dead men, women, and children in ragged clothes are strewn on the blood-soaked ground. Is this the aftermath of a horrific slaughter? Or is it a trap, and do the ‘bodies’ leap up, very much alive?
  • Snorkel: Wanderers come across a piece of land pierced with plastic (or bamboo) pipes coming from beneath the ground. What’s under the ground here? Is it a bunker? Are there people living here?
  • Stowaway: During a visit to a settlement, the wanderers encounter another survivor (perhaps a child). When they leave the settlement, they discover that the person has followed them or stowed away in their vehicle. Do the wanderers allow the stowaway to stay with them? Do they waste time and resources returning the person back to their home? Or do they try to send the person back on their own?
  • Teach the Children: The wanderers come upon a small group of teachers, who ask if they have come across any children in their travels. Are they legit? Or some kind of weirdos? Do they send these teachers off with the information they’ve asked for?
  • The Tell: In a settlement, the wanderers come across a small theater, where they do ‘The Tell’. “Been thirty years since the big one. Thirty years ago, the world got at each other, and then they just got mad. They sent all their soldiers out to do the war. And they all got dead, straight down to hell for them. But then the suits got real mad. And they pressed the button. Whoosh! Whoosh! Fire rained from the sky. And half of all them that was alive went straight down to hell too. The sky bled red from them that got burned. Then the skies got black. Turns out the lucky ones was already down in hell. That was the dark time. Years and years it went dark. Black skies. Black hearts. People done bad stuff to each other. Took five years till we got the sickness out. Five years till the sun came out again.”
  • Thief: While sleeping rough one night, someone steals into their camp and rifles through their possessions. Is this is a feral or another survivor looking for food, a raider stealing their weapons ahead of an ambush, or a droid looking for something specific? Do the wanderers wake to find this happening, or do they sleep through?
  • Trade Caravan: In their travels, the wanderers come across a traveling caravan, each wagon pulled by horses, accompanied by armed guards. These are traders, eager to barter with the wanderers. What traders form this caravan? Are there rare and unusual merchants? Purveyors of lost technologies, gunsmiths, doctors, dentists, or curtained wagons offering dubious indulgences?
  • Tradition: The wanderers come across a small community, seemingly well established and well running. The men and women are dressed simply and do things the same way they have for centuries. What can the wanderers learn from this community? How were they impacted by the nanites?
  • Turtle Droid: While traversing a rocky area, the wanderers hear calls for help. When they approach, they find a battle droid wedged between or under rocks. The droid implores the wanderers to help it out of its predicament. Is this a trap? Or is this an opportunity to capture a working droid? But why is the droid asking for help?
  • Unit: The wanderers come upon a group of survivors dressed in military uniforms. Are they raiders disguised as soldiers? Or the remnants of a pre-war military unit, striving to restore order? Or just some rabble who found uniforms and fancy themselves as the local militia?
  • Unsupervised Minors: The wanderers approach a homestead for shelter, trade, or scavenge. From afar, they see that the homestead is dilapidated, but somewhat maintained. As they approach, a young child comes out, clumsily holding a too-large bow. The child, and their younger sibling, are home alone. Do the wanderers attempt to negotiate with the children, or take advantage of their relative authority? Where are their parents or guardians, if they even have any? Have the wanderers crossed paths with these kids’ guardians in their travels, or perhaps they will in the future?
  • Unwelcome Guests: The wanderers spot a reasonably sized settlement in the distance, ringed by a haphazard fence. When they approach, healthy looking guards behind the walls tell them to leave the area, they’re not welcome here. Do the wanderers leave? Can they buy their way into this settlement? Can they trade with the settlers? Or is there something inside they need?
  • Waterbearer: In a desolate waste, out of the heat haze comes trotting a young person with a water barrel strapped to their back. Do the wanderers want to buy some water? What have they got to trade? Where did this kid come from, and where did they get the water? Does this kid charge outrageous prices for their water?
  • Weight In Gold: When the wanderers negotiate a job, their prospective employer tries to pay them in gold or old world paper currency. What are the wanderers gonna do with a bunch of gold bars or fat wads of crisp bills? Do they take the job, or insist on getting paid in something useful?
  • Wild Horses: The wanderers spot a group of horses. Are these wild horses, or broken horses set free? Can they catch these horses and tame them? Or do they need food more than horses?

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