White Water Rafting D&D Style

The Idea

This was an idea I had before one of my sessions. I made some adjustments on the fly, simply to help things go smoother. If I revisit this, I’ll probably rewrite them to be more in line with what I’ve learned.

Cottingham is a logging town, and sends its logs down the river to the seaport located on the river’s estuary. This is a very simple trip, except for one thing: Eddy the water elemental has taken up residence at the confluence of two rivers near the town and likes to ‘play’ with the log rafts as they go through his domain. Normally, the logs are just hauled overland and dropped into the water below his domain. But every year, the town holds a race, where they strap logs together and go through Eddy’s domain, and the first crew through with their raft (mostly) intact wins.

The Race Mechanics

  • Perception at the start. Perception dictates how aware of the obstacles in front of you before hitting them. If you’re well aware, you can roll to potentially avoid, mitigate, or even target an obstacle’s effects.
  • If the HP of your craft hits 0, it breaks apart and the logs are lost downstream, to hopefully be recovered by those at the end.
  • More than one person can handle any raft. However, 4 log rafts suffer disadvantage on roles with more than one, 12 log rafts have disadvantage with less than 2, and 20 log rafts have disadvantage with less than 4.
  • You can add a sail to the raft. It gives +10 speed, but makes it more difficult to maneuver out of the way of obstacles. It takes a turn to set up or take down.

Navigator – calls out upcoming obstacles,
Polemen/Paddlers – push or paddle to control raft as needed,
Helmsman – Mans the rudder.

Initiative order is based on the raft, and the people within the raft.
At the start of a raft’s turn, roll to see if any hazards happen.
On the second turn, Eddy starts doing his thing at the start of the turn, and retains first spot in the initiative order. Roll a 1d12 and see what happens from the table, to someone who is targeted by whatever means you think is good. I used a dice roll because that seemed to work out ok.


Eddy is a water elemental who lives at and near the confluence of the Draime and Limlar River. He is, at least for the denizens of Cottingham, a literal force of nature. Eddy is not malevolent or hostile, however it likes to ‘toy’ with passerby, by manipulating the waters of the river. The larger the craft, the more likely it is to draw the attention of Eddy.  And Eddy loves to have fun. He always goes first in initiative, because he is pretty much the literal embodiment of the river in the area.

Other Racers

These are the rafting crews I used.

-Gene’s Rafters (4 man, Big One 20log)
-Bel (Traditional 4log) played by one of my players
-Rainald’s Racers (4 man, Pyramid 12log)
-Inyen (Nimble 4log) played by one of my players


Potential Hazards:

1Sand BarA slow, shallow area of sand either above or just below the surface.Slows/stops movement for a turn until able to push off. (STR, or STR Athletics)
2StumpA tree fell into the river at some point, and the stump/roots became lodged hereRoll 1d4. 1-2 take damage. 3-4 half speed next turn to disantangle from roots.   Log Size: 12-20 half speed 2 turns.
3EddyWater rushes around behind an obstacle towards shore in a reverse current. A large enough eddy will form a whirlpool.Roll 1d8. 1-2 is a whirlpool, become stuck until successful Dex/Str save, 3-4 get launched toward nearest shore and lose control for a turn, 5-6 retain control and slingshot downriver an extra 15 ft. 7-8 Eddy the Elemental is having fun.
Log Size: 12-20 ignore unless 7-8.
4Water PillowWater piles up against an underwater obstacle and flows around it.Lose 5 ft of movement.
Log Size: 8-20 take damage.
5PouroverSubmerged ledge. It’s like a vertical eddy. A quick slide down effect into a wave of angry recirculating backwash at the bottom.Roll 1d8. on a 1, get knocked off in the backwash (DC 10 save). On a 2-3 get stuck for a turn in the backwash. 4-7 nothing happens.  On an 8, get catapulted forward an extra 5 ft.
Log Size: 12-20 ignore 2-8.
6Rapids Either due to underwater boulders, Eddy the Elemental, or just the two rivers slamming into each other, the water moves fast and is very turbulent and frothy in this section.Roll 1d6. 1-2 boulders, take damage. 3-5, It’s just the river, go faster 5ft. 6, It’s Eddy having fun (see table).
Log Size: Traditional, nimble, long make DC10,14,12 or get rolled.
7Sweeper/StrainerA tree hangs over the river (if near shore, sweeper) or a submerged tree lies underneath, slowing the water and whatever goes through gets slowed down.If sweeper, DC10 to stay in boat. If Strainer, slowed by 10ft.
Log Size: 4 ignore strainer. 12-20 Save Advantage vs sweeper.
8Hole/HydraulicWater is flowing back in on top of itself creating a large churn. Usually caused by water flowing over a rock and creating a void behind it. May also be a breaking wave.DC 12 or become stuck until a succesfull save.
Log Size: 12-20 ignore.
9Flock of BirdsUp to a flock of ducks, pelicans, geese, doves, swans, or cranes fly through your space.DC12 to become slowed by 5ft next turn.
10Deep CurrentYou found a deep, possibly main, channel. It’s deep and fast.Gain 15ft this turn. No obstacle roll next turn.
11HeadwindA strong wind blows water in  your face, impairing sight, and negating a sail if you have one.DC12 save. If sail equipped, must choose either disadvantage next turn on roll with no avoidance roll, or be slowed 15ft next turn.
12-20Nothing HappensN/AN/A

Eddy Having Fun Table:

1Ice SleddingA large sheet of Ice rises up under the raft, for a good distance in front of you. You lose control of the raft and speed dangerously fast down the sheet of ice. Until you hit the end, hit an object, or slide off the edge.Roll 1d6. 1-2 you shoot off the end of the ice and catch a bit of air doing so. Gain 15ft this turn. 3-4 You hit an object, take damage and fall off ice and off your raft. 5-6 You manage to somehow manipulate your raft off the edge of the ice (sail gets advantage)    
2Water SplashEddy Splashes you with a wave of water.DC10 to hang on. Get pushed 15 ft. Roll 1d4 to determine direction your raft gets pushed. 1 = North, 2 = East, 3 = South, 4 = West.
3GeyserEddy causes a geyser of water to explode under the raft, lifting it into the air.The smaller the craft, the further in the air it gets launched. 4log, 6 dmg. 8 log, 4 dmg. 12log, 2dmg. 20log no dmg. 4log raft, make DC14 to stay on raft.
4Giant WhirlpoolEddy creates a giant whirlpool and spins your boat around in it.Get stuck for the turn. At the start of next turn get launched 25ft. Make an obstacle roll, cannot avoid it.
5PassengerA small humanoid blob of water plops itself down onto the boat and relaxes on the deck in a manner not unlike the bystanders on the shore. Your raft slows to a leisurely pace.Half speed next two turns. No need for obstacle rolls, as obstacles just ‘get out of the way’.
6The WaterfallA section of the river literally arcs toward the sky for a good 30 ft, and then falls down in a gigantic fall. Hang on.Eddy loves waterfalls. He loves going over them,  He loves being one. He thinks you do too. So you find yourself and your raft unexpectedly going over a 30ft fall where just moments ago there was no waterfall.  DC15 to hang on. 5 damage to your raft. On a successful save, get launched 15ft extra down the river, ignoring obstacles due to ‘riding the wave’.
7-12Nothing HappensN/AN/A

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