So often we think of adventurers wandering vast swathes of unclaimed lands. They find somewhere to set their bedrolls, maybe a tent, and set watches for the night. If they are reasonable survivalists they might forage for berries or root vegetables, perhaps hunt some game or set snares.
Only, how much land is truly unclaimed?
Has the land long been home to a tribe of nomadic ogres? Is there a hill giant homestead? Is there a village some miles away where the local earl may not appreciate people poaching on the land? Perhaps the patch of berries the adventurer’s found is a food source a local farmer relies on to feed his family.
This blog series provides encounters for your PCs, and an opportunity for them to consider: is uncharted land really uncharted?
Treasures Collected, Taxes Due
The PCs have been hard at working clearing out a dungeon, defeating an evil wizard, or even collecting a series of valuable wolf pelts from a fairly remote area. They are making their way back to a more settled area to enjoy a hot bath, a comfortable bed, and otherwise spend their coin.
The local earl and some of his guards know the adventurers are passing through this area, and the earl suspects they have valuable goods on them. The treasure has been collected on the outskirts of the earl’s land, and he wants his cut. Whether or not it is called taxes, he isn’t interested in letting a group of wanderers steal valuables from his land. The earl sets his share at fifty-percent, less than he charges the local people (for good-will and to show appreciation for the work they did removing the threat). Some negotiation is possible, providing the PCs are diplomatic. Intimidation and threats may work in the short-term, but warrants will be issued and the PCs may be unable to visit the area, or other nearby settlements again.
Note: Ensure there are enough capable guards to give the PCs pause.
If you are looking for lords and their houses to use for the above encounter, pick up Houses and Heraldry for 5e on DriveThruRPG.