d100 Oddities for a Pilgrimage Trail

Michael O. Varhola

Following are a number of Oddities inspired by my current month-and-a-half long hike along the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail through France and northern Spain! Many of these will appear in a pilgrimage route scenario with the working title "In the Footsteps of Hercules" that I intend to develop this summer.

A fundamental element of this scenario will be daily Exhaustion rolls to determine how the characters are holding up physically (and which will affect how well they cope with challenges on the trail). 

1) A large ant mound, at least 10 feet square, sits alongside of the road. If anyone disturbs it, two insectoid humanoids will appear beside it and proceed to defend it (Myrmidon ant men are ideal but Thri-Kreen or anything else appropriate will work). Alternately, a few impious pilgrim youth will attack the mound and be counterattacked by the Myrmidons, either as the characters approach the mound or after they have passed it without harassing it. 

2) A petty merchant, his pack mule sitting nearby, has set up a small concession stand in an isolated area, where he is selling fruit, bread, beer, wine, and other items for 2d4+2 times the normal rates. Anyone who avails themselves of something to eat or drink here will receive +1 on their Exhaustion check for the day. 

3) A middle-aged Centaur meanders along the pilgrimage trail, moving slowly but often going somewhat further in a day than others. He says his name is Chiron (but, if anyone asks, will claim to never have heard of the mythologically famous Centaur of that name).

4) A snail crawls across the trail (and will likely be stepped on by someone before it can reach the other side). Some d10 more snails are doing the same, at intervals of five or 10 feet further along the trail. Characters that move these creatures off the trail will receive 1 XP for each. Those that gratuitously kill them will lose 1 XP for each. Those that gather and subsequently eat them will receive +1 on Exhaustion checks on the day they do so (and not have XP affected one way or the other).

5) An older, bearded male pilgrim, clad in simple garb and a foxskin cap  and using a javelin as a walking stick, is either hiking along the trail or napping in a likely spot beside it. If interacted with he will identify himself as a retired soldier named Eumaios. 

6) A peasant woman sits at a spot near the trail, either beside a stream, a trough fed by a stream, or the like. She will offer to wash clothing for characters at a cost of 5 copper pieces per item and will then hang it from the branches of nearby trees to dry (although it will probably take as much as a day to do so completely and characters might decide to go onward with it still damp).

7) While walking on the trail, characters will notice that their shadows appear to have tails, oversized genitalia, and the like. Soon after, they will have to make saving throws to prevent having these appendages actually appear on their bodies (which they can waive if desired). If such features physically manifest on characters, they will appear permanent but will disappear 1d3 days after the pilgrimage ends, and can also be removed with Remove Curse or similar magic. Characters might also have the option of spending XP gained during the pilgrimage to keep these features and possibly gain a level in some exclusive prestige class (e.g., Devout of Sylvanus). While these features persist, the GM should feel free to use them for appropriate comedic effect and to treat them as being virtually indestructible (e.g., having them get caught on things when characters fail skill checks, having wild animals grab them in melee and use them to trip characters).

8) A large pool big enough for at least two people to fit in comfortably, either sculpted from a block of stone or cut into the bedrock, is located not far from the trail. It is shaped like one of the symbols associated with the pilgrimage route (e.g., a scallop shell on the Camino de Santiago). At the GM's option, bathing in it might bestow various benefits and, at the least, doing so will provide a +1 bonus on Exhaustion checks. 

9) Two rough-looking men are tanning a large hide not far from a body of water like a pool or spring. For whatever reasons, this water is poisonous, and they are hoping to skin and cure the hides of any travelers' pack animals killed here. They are also not averse to robbing pilgrims overcome by the toxins. 

10) Some "new age" worshippers of an obscure aspect of the deity venerated on the trail have built near it an open-air shrine with piled stones, flowers, and the like. Whether or characters can obtain any spiritual benefits or not is completely at the discretion of the GM.