Woodland Descriptions To Immerse Players (With Tips)
As a player, having a DM that can create a palpable atmosphere with few words is important. Being able to envision myself in a dark, pestilent dungeon or a dusty, cluttered home of an eccentric wizard is one of the main reasons I enjoy D&D.
This might not be the most crucial feature that you want to improve, but sharpening your writing skills will always come in handy and help you to become an all-around good DM.
After hours of prep, having a party of engaged players is all a DM wants. Although creating your own scene descriptions means more prep, it could be what makes or breaks your player’s engagement.
But you want to get them right, and scene descriptions are always a balancing act. The ultimate goal is to describe enough, so the players who care purely about the game mechanics are satisfied as well as go that extra mile to immerse the players who want a tangible atmosphere.
Woodland locations are a great place to start as they always pop up in D&D (unless you are doing a niche campaign setting like the Underdark). Even then, having several woodland locations in your arsenal is a must as they will always be useful.
I know that DMs have enough on their plate without having to be expert wordsmiths too. So I’ve created some tips on how to perfect your own woodland descriptions, but to make your job even easier, I have also added some descriptions of my own! Feel free to slot them into your campaign and change whatever you like.
How To Craft Immersive Woodland Descriptions
- Watch something—whether it be a movie or YouTube video—that is close to what you would like to replicate. If you want a magical woodland setting, watch The Hobbit, Narnia, or even something like Into The Woods (it doesn’t always have to be fantasy, however).
- I often look on websites for detailed artwork, like Deviantart or Pinterest (surprisingly, Pinterest is my preferred website of the two). But moving images with the sound and characters allows you to understand the scale and atmosphere better if you struggle to describe it yourself.
- To immerse your players, you have to engage more than one sense. Describe the feel of tree bark, the scent of pine, the distant hoot of an owl. What’s the weather like? Is the ground saturated or crumbling? Is the air warm or misty? Go beyond just describing what they can see.
- Find the balance between too little description and too much. Set the scene up just enough to the point where the player’s imagination can do the rest.
- Find what works for you. Perhaps you find it easier to write out descriptions in bullet point form and then wing it when the time comes.
- Read more! I’m convinced that even people that claim to dislike reading can even find solace in a certain genre or author. Graphic novels and comics count, too.
Descriptions For You To Use
For An Ancient Woodland
- The forest is thick enough so that sunlight can’t reach the ground. The trees rise tall over everything save for the mountain range. It is like stepping into a time way before your own.
- The forest floor is a damp carpet of densely packed leaves, woody debris, and gnarled roots bursting from the soil.
- Every trunk is covered in a layer of lichen and moss.
- Tree arms sprawl every which way, and webs of fungi spread beneath your feet.
- Ahead of you stands an ancient iron gate with rusted hinges almost entirely consumed by ivy.
For A Snowy Woodland
- The snow falls thick and merciless onto the woodland around you. Everything is covered by blankets of white, and the evergreen giants bow down under the weight of the snow. A flock of buntings fly overhead, and a goshawk watches you quietly from a tree branch. Not only is the snow a brilliant white, but the clouds are hues of milky quartz too.
- A stream beside you trails deep into the forest; it’s iced over and sparkling as if under a spell. The earthy scent of pine carries in the icy breeze, filling your nostrils.
For An Enchanted Woodland
- A warm breeze blows life through the woodland around you. Clusters of daffodils stand lazily swaying at shin-height, their egg-yolk hue standing out against the emerald grass. A carpet of daisies and bluebells cushion your feet and spread every which way.
- Rays of golden sunlight filter through the canopy of oaks, birches, and apple blossoms.
- The fragrant scent of florals permeates the air, apple, cherry, lilac, lavender.
- Above your head is a blue speckled sky with fluffy, inviting clouds.
For A Blighted Woodland
- The woodland is ghastly and dark, and the clouds hang low in the murky sky.
- Around you stands elms, red oaks, beeches that have been rotting for centuries yet somehow never fall. The only sign of green is the moss that grows on logs and roots that have burst their way through the dirt.
- A sickly sweet smell of death and rot in the air makes your stomach churn.
- Oppressive, gnarled branches hang over you and cross over each other every which way, obscuring the sky.
- The woodland is not only dark but soundless. Not even a gentle breeze or bird can penetrate this ominous place.
Want to really immerse your players? Try worldbuilding with them, you can read all how to do that here: Worldbuilding 101 – Getting The Players To Work For You
Jenny is the Editor and sometimes Writer for Daily Dice. Her likes include reading, spending time in old buildings, and drinking coffee (she is a Victorian). Her dislikes include writing author bios.