Under different circumstances, the Jungle could be a rather beautiful scenery if you’re okay with the occasional bugs and rain. But, alas, here we are, trying to find a treasure that’ll make us filthy rich while also trying to avoid being found by the guardian of this Jungle. We’ve already encountered it once, ran, and we’re still recovering.
What Should I Expect in Jungle Encounters 5e?
I tend to group swamp and Jungle encounters into one for simplicity with one minor change- beasts. In jungles, it would only be natural for more beasts to inhabit them, much more than actual monsters, unless the Jungle is somehow cursed or has some sort of abnormality.
That being said, it’s common for encounters to involve animals or beasts that would inhabit the lush jungles. Some may be in packs, some prefer solitary, and some are extremely territorial. If the DM keeps this in mind, thinking of encounters should be a breeze.
Like forests and swamps, a jungle can be treated like a whirlpool. The deeper into the Jungle a party goes, the more dangerous the encounters may be. Naturally, the outskirts of the Jungle would have less dangerous encounters since it’s more towards civilization and/or open fields. In short, the middle of the Jungle would be the most dangerous, while the edges will likely have weaker mobs.
Jungle 5e Layouts
When people think of jungles, the first things to come to mind are the tall and lush trees, waterfalls, and rivers that go for miles. However, if a dungeon master wishes to implement encounters into their world’s Jungle, they usually have to plan out what history the Jungle holds.
Is it the home to a tribe that considers the land sacred? Is there a temple that lurks in the forest that holds a treasure beyond anyone’s imagination? Maybe there’s both. Details like these help forges the way of creating these immersive encounters as a DM.
Beings of the Jungle to encounter
It’s common for DMs to put a tribe of any race or species to inhabit the forest alongside the creatures in it. They can be humanoid, giant, or fey- it doesn’t matter. When it comes to this layout, DMs usually intend to have the players interact with this group/community in one way or another. So the next course of action would be to determine what this community would want from the party… or if they want to get rid of the party entirely.
Since most jungles have extremely tall trees, bushes, rivers, and a lot of camouflage, the possibilities of where small villages or camps can be placed. For example, Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory or Avatar the Last Airbender had people living up in the trees in a jungle. This idea can also be implemented into your Dnd world when creating a community in the Jungle or even tiny creatures living in bushes.
Below are a few examples of encounters I used personally while my party was in a jungle.
|Legs and Webs||The jungle belongs to the Queen of Spiders. Almost every inch of this jungle is covered in webs and tiny spiders. As the party gets deeper into the jungle, the webs start to get bigger and harder to get out of… and are the spiders getting bigger too?|
|Defend the City||The party comes across a village of orcs within the jungle. They seem to be celebrating and talking about moving south (or any direction per DM’s discretion) to siege/raid something. The closest thing south is a village.|
|Join Us…||A group of hooded humans have approached the party, promising peace. They pry the party to join them for a ceremony before heading on to their next destination. The group then leads the party to a small village of people that live in the trees. All of them are a part of a cult.|
Frequently, DMs like to implement temples or things involving druids with their jungles since jungles are usually the perfect place for that specific class. Temple layouts like these can be similar to caves or dungeons, but it’s always good to go back to the roots and remember that the temple does take place in a jungle.
Meaning it’s okay to have some Underdark monsters that may inhabit caves but make sure to include some jungle theme (and make it apparent).
For the most part, Temples are set up much like caves- the deeper the party progresses, the more dangerous the temple becomes, whether it be from traps, riddles, monsters, or any encounter they may find. It can descend further into the earth or stand tall, and the players would have to climb it- it’s really up to the DM on how they wish the party to progress.
The most important part to remember is that if the DM wishes to implement this type of layout, there should be an extremely significant reward waiting for them at the end of the story progression, an extremely rare/powerful item, etc.
Below are a few examples of jungle encounters a party may find around and/or inside the cult or druidic temples.
|Spirits of the Jungle||The jungle itself has been cursed for centuries by a powerful lich who resides in his temple. All who enter this jungle either dies or becomes a servant to the lich. After years of people staying clear of it, the lich has decided to start killing off the creatures that live in the forest to gain power. As collateral, hunters have been having a hard time finding food as the lich is messing with the area’s ecosystem immensely.|
|Plants Rising||A nearby jungle has recently become infested with toxic/poisonous plants. People didn’t think much of it, at first. Or at least, until the jungle seemed to be getting bigger by the month. |
It became apparent that a nearby village would fall under the dangers of the toxins in the forest if it kept growing at the rate that it has. In the distance, a large temple can be seen within the forest from a nearby village. It’s only getting taller with each growth the jungle partakes.
|Sacred Relic||A pricey bounty was placed on a relic in a faraway jungle. It seems easy at first, but the temple that holds the relic is protected by a band of druids who have sworn to give up their life for the relic. (This encounter is more suited to players whose characters are greedy and have a good motive to have a lot of money.)|
In my opinion, this layout is honestly my favorite. It gives players a sense of exploration, time to rack up some experience, or even enjoy roleplaying the experience of being like one of the great explorers (Indiana Jones, Lara Croft from Tomb Raider, Bilbo Baggins from The Hobbit, etc.).
This also makes encounters extremely flexible for DMs to like to have their options open for anything, which comes in handy if a DM were to have players that like to go off the story and are extremely unpredictable.
In short, this layout indicates that anything goes in this Jungle. It is a wild area where animals live, hunt, and sleep. There may be secrets here, but the Jungle is so vast and hectic that no one even knows of it besides those who may be looking. There will be hunters; there will be vines. There will be hostile and friendly animals alike. Nonetheless, this Jungle is free to explore for the players and build upon for the DM.
Below are a few 5e jungle encounters I think can be fun in this layout.
|My Home…||After a long day of exploring the jungle, the party stumbles across a cave to settle in for the night. As the party is sleeping, they are abruptly awoken by the sound of low snarls. The inhabitants of the cave aren’t quite happy that the party has taken their resting place…|
|River Beast… in the Sky?||After days of looking for water, the party has finally come across a fresh-water river that goes on for miles. That’s when they hear a loud screech come from above them and the flying creature attacks them on sight.|
|The Plants Are Alive||The jungle is relentless as it is tiring. The druids say that each tree, vine, leaf, and bush is sentient. When the party first enter the jungle, they are attacked by the vines of a nearby tree that doesn’t have the intention of killing- they’re just curious and playful.|
Types of Jungle Encounters 5e!
The best thing about jungle encounters is that they can be very flexible for the DM and still be extremely immersive to the players. All the DM needs to do is set the scene for the Jungle, and everything else should flow easily.
There are many types of combat-based encounters that a DM could brainstorm since most of the creatures that one may find in a regular jungle would be the creatures that inhabit the real world- lions, tigers, bears, etc. Of course, the DM is always free to implement Dnd creatures into it as long as it fits in the area.
As for non-combat encounters, it’s easy to find them within NPCs that the party may find in the Jungle and riddles they may find in the temples. Of course, there are other ways players may find them, depending on the alignments of their characters.
For example, if the players have a good alignment and see an injured animal, they would feel more obligated to help the injured animal rather than investigate or run away from it. As a DM, try to play around with your players more when creating encounters in the Jungle for a more open-world feel (my opinion).
My Favorite 5e Jungle Encounters!
Here are a couple of encounters my players have enjoyed even though they were supposed to be throwaway encounters. They enjoyed it to the point where they expanded on the encounter and tried to pry deeper into its story that I had to make up on the spot because, once again, they were supposed to be throwaway encounters. That being said, maybe other players would enjoy it as well!
|Being Hunted||The jungle has gone eerily quiet and it’s a little strange that no creatures of any type have been seen for a while despite it bustling with life just a little while ago. Then, a bird finally shows up only to hear a shuffle of grass come from behind the party and the bird flies away in fear. The party is being hunted.|
|The Light At the End||After what felt like years of darkness in a wretched cave, the party can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. The party rushes to the end- they are finally home free… but no. Once they reach the end of the tunnel, it looks like a completely different world. A prehistoric world.|
|Giant… Goat?||Something’s off with this jungle… There’s giant patches of fur in seemingly random places, puddles of milk, giant dung, and it smells of a zoo. If it weren’t for those things, this jungle would be completely normal. The party eventually finds out that a giant white creature roams about during the day. It’s a Giant Goat.|
|Buzzing with Excitement||A giant cloud begins to form above the party. It seems to follow the party wherever they go. Overtime, the cloud seems to be… getting closer to the ground? And is the party going crazy or is the cloud… buzzing? The cloud is actually a giant swarm of insects.|
|Stuck in Time?||The party comes across a collection of extremely druid statues that are admiring the trees. After further inspection, the statues seem to be as if they were in pain. The statues are actual druids stuck in time.|
Shhh… What was That? (List)
Here’s a list of a bunch of creatures that I feel are the staples of Jungle Encounters. It should be no surprise that you would find these creatures here in the Jungle, but don’t let that stop you from believing it won’t be exciting. Sure, they may be the staple creatures, but they are also my favorites- for a good reason. Have fun!
- Guardian Naga: When put in the Jungle, they would most likely be set up to protect something or were ordered to. That doesn’t always have to be the case, but they are usually not hostile unless provoked. When roleplaying/fighting as them, have the mindset of, “I don’t want to fight… but if I will, if I must.” It would be strange for Guardian Naga to want to kill or fight something just for fun.
- Druid/Tribal Warrior: NPC and creature alike. Druids/Tribal Warriors practically live and breathe in the Jungle as they can be one with nature here. Since they can be any race and alignment, DMs can have as much flexibility as they want with this creature no matter what kind of group they may have.
- Lizards (any size): More commonly, giant or large lizards can be found in the Jungle. Whether they are hostile or not is really up to the DM. For the most part, though, they can be associated with a tribe/group of Kobolds who are usually hostile (Kobolds are also rather common to inhabit a jungle).
- Harpy: Harpies are rather sneaky creatures that like to entice travelers into their doom. What better place to put these cunning creatures than where they can perch on trees with their vulture-like body and have their luring song echo through the Jungle? I often see players who like a little difficulty in combat encounters rather enjoy having harpies in the Jungle for the sake of them being extremely hard to catch.
- Griffon: on more than one occasion, I have players try to make a griffon familiar, only to have it backfire. I’m not saying a player can make it they’re familiar with, but it’s fun watching them try to interact with a creature that can be prideful and territorial despite all signs pointing to “IT’S A BAD IDEA.”
Conclusion on best Jungle encounters in 5e DnD
I would say that the only con to jungle encounters is the possibility that players actually might prefer them over anything else.
They could spend possible hours just exploring this Jungle for the resources it may have: the creatures they can find, or any secrets/treasures that the Jungle holds. Other than that, it’s a fun time for both DM and players alike, as long as the DM is prepared.