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Using terrain to Inspire your next D&D Session

27th September 2023

Using terrain to Inspire your next D&D Session


When you need inspiration for running a Dungeons & Dragons, Pathfinder, or Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay session it can sometimes be daunting to get started.

As a Dungeon Master or Games Master, there are few things more daunting than a blank sheet of paper because the possibilities are endless – which makes it hard to pick anything. It sounds counterintuitive, but limiting your options by starting with the location, or a piece of terrain that you own, is often a fantastic way to get the creative process started. This guide aims to show how starting with a piece of terrain as inspiration when planning an RPG encounter, can be be a great way to streamline your choices and get you playing faster.

Wizard’s Tower Example Adventure Design

In this case, we are starting with the Wizard’s Tower terrain set. Immediately the location tells us something about one of the main NPCs – a wizard probably lives, or lived, there. It also gives us a good place to start asking important questions: are they good or evil, what were they doing there, was it now or in the past, what has attracted your party to go there? Answering these kinds of questions very quickly gives you a solid skeleton to build an encounter around.

We also have the benefit of having a physical piece of terrain to work with. This doesn’t just create a more tangible and immersive experience for your players, it is also a great aid for designing your session.

There is a broken bridge that must be crossed to enter – how will your players cross it unseen? Maybe it was smashed by an enraged giant – are they still around? Is something guarding the bridge?

When the players enter the tower, they will find a basement below and a room above. Looking at each of these rooms can inspire more encounters – does something need to be activated in the basement to allow further access, what is guarding it? Are there traps? A confused imp that needs aid or to be tricked? I bet you’ve already come up with tons of answers.

So if you’re stuck for inspiration for your next D&D encounter, maybe start with the location and use a piece of terrain as your launchpad.

Wizard’s Tower inspiration

You might be surprised how much you can do with one starting point. We’ve created a few tangible examples to get you going. Use them as they are, or rework them to suit your needs, to serve as the foundation for a session. Or simply use them to get your own ideas flowing.

Share your tips for fellow DMs and GMs, and your ideas in the comments below!

With the arcane knowledge at their disposal, mages are not restricted by the mundane limitations of conventional builders when constructing their dwellings. These magical towers can defy gravity, be built in impossible configurations, and even lack a conventional entrance entirely.

Perhaps you need a mage’s lair for your Dungeons & Dragons campaign or a focal point for a skirmish in Frostgrave, either way our Wizard’s Tower terrain makes a fantastic centrepiece to add immersion to an encounter.

Take a closer look at our Wizard’s Tower using the link below.

Wizard’s Tower Story Seeds

The Blighted Tower

Calver’s Hill is a constant in the lives of the villages of Underslade.

The gentle curve of its summit is the first promise of a familiar bed and warm meal to homesick travellers as they turn off the King’s Road. On its rolling slopes, the shepherds drive their flocks to familiar pastures, and the washerfolk launder their clothes in its gentle beck. Mothers caution their children to be home before the sun dips behind the ridgeline – or face a bedtime without supper. The village’s routines are marked by its passing shadow, as reliable as a sundial.

Except this dawn, it is not. A listless mist clings to its valleys and, impossibly, a crooked tower now crowns its summit. At the tower’s base, the lush green grass has been replaced by a creeping circle of withered vegetation. The blight is spreading, crawling towards the pastures and the village itself with every passing night.

Those villagers that have dared to venture close enough claim to have glimpsed a figure crying out for aid from the tower’s peak, before fading into the mist. Are there any here brave, noble, or desperate enough to enter the tower and, perhaps, lift the curse that promises doom to the denizens of Underslade?


What horrors will your players encounter inside? What caused the blight? Why did the tower appear here, not somewhere else?

Sunder’s Rest

Grampa Sunder’s tower is here!

As usual, all the town’s children raced down to watch it wade, gingerly, over the Allabrook and stride to its customary place upon Dureaster Common. There it stands now, dwarfing the brightly painted vardos that rest at its feet.

Of course, there will be the usual show. Grampa has never missed the chance to delight the townsfolk with his Right Remembered Tales of Times Before (with Improved Illusions Not Yet Beheld). And after that, there will be the feast and a chance for challengers to attempt to best the old man’s contraptions in feats of strength and skill, and maybe a chance to buy some of Grampa’s Tonics of Great Efficacy (a Bargain at Twice the Price!).  But Grampa has a special surprise this year.

‘This is no life for my old bones. I mean, my poor back has been giving me gyp ever since crossing the Donder. I can’t be Thwarting the Seven-starred Elemental, or Warding the Western Gate at my age. I need to be in bed by eight, and no mistake.’ he announced, resting wearily upon his ruby-topped cane, ‘It’s a young man’s game – or women’s – if you’ll pardon my misspeaking young lady. No, it’s time for another to take the reins, as it were!’

He takes a puff from his pipe and gestures lazily toward the tower as it gathers momentum, its legs becoming a blur.

‘If you can tame her, she’s yours. Of course, you’ll have to catch her first…’


What challenges will your players need to overcome to tame the tower? How will they catch it? What does the tower want? Does the tower come with responsibilities?

The Tower in the Yard

The rule is very clear. Never, ever, go into the old tower. It’s not a rule like the others. Not like ‘be home by 8’ or ‘no ball games by the old library’. It’s handed down from older siblings, passed in whispers from one child to another around a shared cigarette behind the bike shed, or passed off as a half-joking comment by some Romeo, the bravado of the speaker betrayed by the wavering of their voice.  

But now you’re here. And there it is. It is uncloaked by the fickle light of a passing truck on the highway. A fleeting glimpse, more shadows than light, but still more than you’d like to see. It doesn’t belong here. The aged stones and rotting parapets are sickeningly out of place amongst the scrap cars and dead washing machines.

Another freight hauler drones past. The headlights wash across the skeletal machinery, betraying the movement of the creatures skulking around the tower’s feet. Nightmares of bone, skittering on too many limbs. No sane person would go in.

Jeannie is depending on you.

But no sane person would go in.


What is stalking outside the tower? What is something so old doing here now? Will the challenges inside be physical or something that tests the players’ ethics and morals?


OK, I can explain.

It’s not that the dwarves don’t have a point, I’d be angry if I were them too, but it’s our job to keep them out. Master Westphalia must not be disturbed. He was most clear on that point.

He probably didn’t mean to offend the Under King but his work means he gets a little … flexible … around social rules. Like personal possessions and ownership and theft and trespass. That sort of thing gets kind of muddy when you spend your time in the higher dimensions. Or so he says when my pay is late anyway.

Anyway, I’ve got paperwork to do, and the Rodents of Larger Size need feeding, so…uh …I’ll leave you to keep the war party out. I’m sure you’ve got it all under control.

And the master does pay well, eventually. Probably.  


What did Master Westphalia do? What are the dwarves planning to do about it? Can conflict be avoided? Would the players be better off if they swapped sides?

Want a Wizard’s Tower to go with your story? Pick one up here.