Do you feel as though you have to artificially ramp up difficulty on your encounters? Are you throwing tougher creatures than you'd normally consider appropriate for their level just to challenge them? So far, it feels that way to me (and, honestly, sounds a bit like it from reading your excellent accounts, but I don't want to assume anything).
This has absolutely been the case. The PCs can take a hell of a lot of punishment. And if they win the initiative, it spells bad news for the enemies. Not to mention their damage output is off the wall.
That said, I just wrapped session six, which was the first time my PCs truly felt like a fight could've gone either way. I'm going to be typing up the report just now, so hopefully it'll give you some better ideas of how the encounters seem to play out.
This is the second half of the fifth session. Where we left off, the heroes had just defeated the bandit queen, and were standing in the camp amidst the corpses of her followers.
While the party looted, secured the lost food, and generally dragged all the bandit corpses into one place, Brelf was chosen to run back to town with Illantha Fane's head so the guards would send out some wagons to retrieve the food. In the camp, however, four adventurers on horses approached. Their leader was a magnificent cleric of the god of trickery, a dark-skinned demagogue named Pohtep. He shared a horse with Daria, an assassin rogue masquarading as a simple harem girl. An elf archer named Shirk followed, as did a feral human fighter named Felicia Lunarlynx. They greeted the party, made mention that they'd come because they saw smoke (from the bonfire). Pohtep, they learned, was a glib fellow, using words to mesmorize, offering insult and backhanded compliment more often than not. In short, Pohtep was a dick. They discovered that he was seeking something from the Hall of Bells - the very destination of their next venture.
Under the hood: Pohtep is a character I played in a 4th Edition game, run by one of the current players. He was enormous fun, all charisma and cleverness, always maneuvering for a political edge in the ruthless Aztec-style city the game was set in. Felicia Lunarlynx was a fighter played by a friend of mine (not a current player) in a 5th Edition playtest. She fought through some of Blingdenstone. I promised to use her as one of the adventurers in my campaign.
Pohtep rode on towards town, while the others lingered to await Brelf's return. Brelf himself met the riders on the rode, and after a brief exchange of insults, he passed them by and arrived at the camp. Wagons followed, unloading the food, and the adventurers were well rewarded for their deeds.
More importantly, the group filled Brelf in on the nature of the threat that was Pohtep. The man seemed competent, and could pose a serious threat to their efforts at claiming Queen Teera's necklace. While the others set about preparing for the journey, Estel took it upon herself to try and take Pohtep out of the picture. Direct confrontation would be too obvious, but instead she hired one of the Mourning Girls to kidnap Daria, the rogue (and apparently, Pohtep's woman). The kidnapping succeeded the night before, but Pohtep tracked down and murdered the girl who took Daria, and showed up angry on the morning of Parade Day.
Under the hood: I ran this with a couple of d20 rolls to see the results. Pohtep crit his attempt to find Daria. It was no contest; he showed up to enter the tomb.
The adventurers all marched up the mountain and entered the Hall of Bells. The PCs had enlisted the aid of two NPC warriors: a grizzled northman named Zarchus, and a slick rogue named Myrielle. The Ivory Lady was accompanying them as well; though not as capable as her hired champions, she was good enough to keep up. That meant the PC group numbered eight strong, while Pohtep's only numbered four. But they were a potent four.
The PCs went first, but in the upper cavern, they decided to get their bearings. The knew that the dungeon rotates, and they knew which chamber the Hall of Bells was beneath. So armed with that knowledge, they spent an hour getting their bearings, descending to the second level, and marching up to the correct wing of the dungeon.
Pohtep had the opportunity to reach the Hall first, but I rolled a d4 for which direction he picked and came up with the wrong one. So the PCs were first into the Hall.
I won't go into much detail about their early encounters; they went inside, explored the South Cells, and found the skeletons and zombies there to be an easy challenge. They took down some undead, then heard Pohtep and his band approaching, which is where we ended the session.
Under the hood: I hadn't updated the monster numbers to reflect the huge boost in xp budget in this packet. So they fought only two skeletons and four zombies in the first chamber, then two zombies from the storage room, followed by two skeletons from the North Cells. The whole fight was trivial; only the zombies' ability to stay up made it anything close to interesting. Still, it's fun for players to have a stomp from time to time.
Hall of Bells - this is the dungeon my PCs were attempting. Included is the whole map, with updated monster numbers, and the stats for Pohtep and his company.
One of the reasons I enjoyed the old D&D adventures (whether it was published or homebrewed) was that there wasn't any true sense of XP budget involved in them. It was much more organic, as if we all just said, "what makes sense here." Occassionally, a room was lightly guarded or a copse of trees had a nest of stirges or a pile of refuse had an ooze in it, etc. It also meant that the rumor of a black dragon in that swamp could be true or that the an orc stronghold was heavily guarded - encounters that were too dangerous for players early, but carrots for them to be lured to when they felt bold enough.
Granted, sometimes the get-to-the-point nature of linear adventures has some attractiveness. Every encounter is well balanced and level appropriate. It ensures challenge and resource use at a fixed pace, and helps drive the story and push the players along. It's what makes MMOs successful. A party gets to walk into a world where caves have [for Level 5] posted at the entrance and get a pretty good dungeon romp from start to finish with "boss fights" and invidivual encounters leading up to it (just like a dungeon queue in WoW).
I can't argue with DMs and players who prefer it that way, I just tend to enjoy a more open canvas world.
By the way, your Hall of Bells is fantastic. Well done.
When we last left our heroes, they had just entered the haunted Hall of Bells. The last few sessions had seen a fair bit of combat, but nothing truly threatening. I wanted to change that. The Hall of Bells was my opportunity.
First off, the December playtest push changed up the experience budget values. I actually had a great deal more budget to play with when selecting monsters. In addition, the monster math had been tweaked to make monsters more dangerous. The monster math hadn't been truly dangerous last session, but with a good dungeon crawl chock-full of undead, I was prepared to amp up the difficulty.
The party featured a few hired mercenaries, who I did not include in the encounter building numbers, so the PCs would have a bit of a leg up on the difficulty. One of the conceits of the campaign is that mercenaries actually do give PCs an advantage in the dungeon (for a price). It would defeat the point if I adjusted encounters to compensate.
So here's what I did. First, I put together the dungeon and populated it. Then I went over and adjusted the number of monsters up from my original design to meet the new encounter guidelines. But that wasn't enough. I created a group of rival adventurers who would be racing the PCs in a friendly / not-so-friendly rivalry. Then, I also added a behir (a Level 10 monster) who had followed the rival adventurers into the dungeon, and was lurking in the tunnels below, eating the crypt spiders. The behir functioned as an ambush predator; it would attempt to sneak up on and eat any stragglers, but if it was discovered, it would retreat back down below, using its superior speed to escape. But the constant threat of a behir attack had the characters on their toes.
All the building blocks were in place for a climactic dungeon crawl session! Let's meet our party.
The Brave Adventurers
Brelf Proudhammer - Human Fighter 3 (Guide background)
Unfortunately, real life circumstances kept Ral's player from joining us, so his character was quietly retired. We did have a guest sitting on who hadn't played before, so she took over the NPC rogue Myrielle. So with a band of seven, the adventurers continued their exploration of the Hall of Bells.
When we left off last session, it was with Pohtep and his rival adventuring group approaching via the main entrance. The PCs debated whether they would take the diplomatic route or not, but ultimately their good tendencies won out. The PCs hailed him from down the corridor, and they discussed the terms of their exploration. They told him that they had staked claim to the area, while Pohtep promised them that he was not after the necklace they sought. He suggested that there was room enough for both parties to explore, and took his group northwest towards Area 7.
The PCs were left to the cell blocks. They cleverly used acid to loosen the bars to the statue room (Area 4), searched it thoroughly (which took half an hour), and looted the trinkets there. They avoided use of the tunnels beneath to reach the chamber, which meant they avoided the crypt spiders and the behir. For now. They ventured into the North Cells (Area 6) and found a wight and five zombies awaiting them.
This marked the first battle using the new math. The wight taunted the PCs into coming to fight him, and he arranged his zombies in a line before him, blocking access; or so he thought! Brelf won the initiative, and using a longspear, he jumped over the zombies. His high jump height cleared seven feet. I ruled that one zombie got to make an opposed dexterity contest to attempt an opportunity attack, but Brelf handily won that too. Then he struck the wight for a savage blow, nearly dropping him on the first attack.
Meriele stepped forward and turned undead, and all the undead fled. The zombies ran as far as they could, while the wight simply didn't get the chance; he was cut down before he had a chance to act. However, the reinforcements arrived in round two; 2 wights, 3 skeletons, and 2 zombies from Area 9!
The wights were immediately dangerous; one pinned Brelf in the corner with the help of the zombies, while the other one took on Zarchus. It was here that parry proved its worth, saving Brelf and Zarchus considerable damage. The skeletons all had bows, however; they arranged themselves on the far wall and began to peg both Brelf and Meriele, who were both threats.
Meriele backed off down the tunnel to avoid the skeletons, hiding behind were Vell was standing. I had the behir lurking about nearby, so I gave it a sneak roll. It did poorly. I handed Meriele a note telling her about noises from down the corridor. Fortunately, she didn't go off investigating, but she did peek around the corner, only to see a flash of something blue ducking back into hiding.
In the end, the PCs managed to cut down the undead, though with considerably more HP loss than I'd expected. Brelf briefly investigated the blue thing, but there was no sign of it; whatever it was, it had slipped back down into the tunnels.
Under the hood: I had planted an extra wight in this encounter, and it proved to be a good idea. The first one went down so quickly it didn't even factor. Overall, this encounter was worth 1190 xp. A tough encounter for four 3rd level PCs should be 840 xp. So this was tougher than tough. And honestly, it actually worked out as the numbers suggested. There was a fair bit of healing thrown out, the cleric used her turn undead, and only Vell was unscathed through the whole fight. The fight also exposed the two weaknesses of parry; it doesn't stop ranged attacks, and it's a reaction - only one use per round.
The Second Parley
With the attack from Area 9, the PCs knew about the secret passage, so they followed it through. They found another well with bells dangling above it, and they met Pohtep and his band once more. Both groups looked considerably banged up; Pohtep had been clearing out some of the other areas. The rival adventurers offered to join forces; the Hall had proven to be more challenging than either had expected. Wisely, our heroes did not trust Pohtep; they questioned him on his actual goal. He conceded that he was seeking a powerful weapon; a mace called Scarhallow. Each PC aside from Meriele was fine with his goal. But Meriele had the truth written on her face; she knew of the weapon, and had been tasked to retrieve it for her own church.
No truce could be reached. There was further discussion; the demagogue was keen to reveal that he knew the secret of the bells, though he would not share it. He also revealed the true nature of the behir, and informed the PCs that it had followed his group into the Hall, and was even now preying on the creatures that live in the tunnels beneath.
Pohtep and his companions left, heading further into the dungeon, while the PCs discussed their options. The prospect that they might have to slay Pohtep was entertained. Meriele hesitantly revealed a secret; Commander Fang of the White Guards had drawn her aside before they entered the dungeon, and told her, "Pohtep is a good friend of the Exarch. It would be good if he did not return from the dungeon." Evidently, the leader of Tiamat's Red Branch and her White Branch were at odds, politically. But being a good character, Meriele was hesitant to act on such a suggestion.
A Journey In The Tunnels
The PCs decided to ring the bells and see what happened. They positioned themselves back in the side chamber, and had Vell fire an arrow. The bells rang, and it summoned a pair of crypt spiders to the bottom; without looking down, all the characters heard was the skitter of legs. Then they heard a hiss and the sounds of combat; the behir was tearing the spiders apart!
They decided to take advantage of the combat; they wanted to see if they could catch the creature. But by the time they got down to where it was, the beast had slain the spiders and was already moving on. The party decided not to pursue the behir into the tunnels.
The tunnels proved to be a good way to move around, however. The caverns from the north cells in particular headed northwest, which led in the direction they hoped to go. So taking to the tunnels, and moving in a group, the heroes advanced. They came to the bottom of a well. They could hear the sounds of far-off combat from above; Pohtep was battling a mummy in area 13. Brelf had Zarchus give him a boost up, then he climbed the rough surface of the well.
At the top, he peeked over the edge. There was Queen Teera herself, the awful mummy with her court of eight skeletal warriors, each armed with a bow. He had come up right in the throne room (Area 14)! He managed to make the wisdom check not to succumb to her aura of dread, but the Queen was still a terrible figure.
"Who are you to enter my throne room?" she rasped.
"I'm Brelf Proudhammer, and I'm an interloper in your halls," he replied, somewhat awestruck at the sight of her, and a little sheepish at being caught.
"Did you bring friends? Or were you fool enough to come alone?"
"They're below," he admitted.
The Queen turned to her archers. "Ring the bells," she commanded.
Brelf cursed and clambered down as the skeletons drew their bows back and peppered the bells with arrows. The sound filled the tunnels below; there was little doubt the spiders were coming.
The PCs formed quick battle lines, with Brelf and Zarchus up front. The spiders appeared; one from the north, one from the southwest. They attacked with savage ferocity, battling both fighters. Brelf was holding his own, but Zarchus took a serious bite on the first round, and succumbed to crypt sickness. Pale and shaking, and in rough shape, the NPC warrior suggested they might bottleneck the spiders in the southeast tunnel. Brelf agreed. The PCs began to move back, forming a new line, while Brelf and Zarchus held theirs at bay. The spider bit Brelf too, but he made his constitution save. Zarchus took more damage; he was in bad shape. The others lined up behind Meriele, who stood at the front line with her chainmail and shield, a warrior for her faith. Zarchus made good on his retreat, and so did Brelf.
Only one of the spiders had taken any damage, due to poor rolling on the PCs' part. Meriele had a spiritual weapon flying around, and Vell had shot one. One spider was at roughly half damage, the other was unscathed. But the bottleneck would help limit the terrible melee attacks of the spiders. Unfortunately, Vell hadn't retreated back far enough, and the spiders lurched forward. The healthy one rushed him in melee and critically hit Vell, dealing 20 damage. The archer then failed his constitution save, contracting crypt sickness, with its necrotic vulnerability. The wounded spider spat a gob of necrotic ichor, but fortunately for Vell, it missed. A hit would've meant double damage; it might've spelled Vell's death.
Vell managed to withdraw behind the cover of Brelf and Meriele, who were holding the line with impressive skill. With the battle lines locked in place like that, the spiders couldn't hit them, and over the next few rounds, they managed to bring both beasts down. Following the battle, Meriele used lesser restoration to cure Vell, though she hadn't enough of Pelor's grace left to cure Zarchus too. Fearful that the behir would show up and attack them while they were vulnerable, they retreated back to the north cells and climbed out of the tunnels.
Under the hood: I couldn't have been more pleased at how the initial meeting with Queen Teera went. It's rare you have a chance for an exchange of banter between hero and villain, especially if the villain gets to spring a trap. So that was tremendous fun. As for the encounter, it's hard to quantify. The crypt spiders were a custom creation; you can find their stat block in the adventure if you're curious. I was trying to build something terrible and fierce, with a sickness too, so that one couldn't simply shrug off their bite. Let's face it; few things in D&D are as scary as lingering effects. The spiders had roughly 56 hit points each, which actually gave them some staying power. It was impressive how long they lasted, particularly with AC 14. But the other side of the coin was dice luck; the PCs spent the first round not rolling above a ten on the d20. And there was a good deal of dice hate in the whole encounter, even past the first round. Still, I was quite satisfied with the results of the fight.
The Third Parley
Battered and injured, the PCs met Pohtep again; he and his group were likewise battered and injured. They'd been fighting one of the mummified handmaidens. Pohtep suggested a truce; that both parties rest up before venturing back in. It was clear that both groups required an extended rest. He also offered to share a camp with them, but the party was mistrustful enough to decline. Probably a wise choice. In a bid to show off whose god was mightier, Pohtep used one of his lesser restoration spells to cure Zarchus, where he then smugly suggested that their whole group owed him a debt. Brelf was insistent that Zarchus would've had the strength to fight it off on his own. Amused, Pohtep left, to set up camp outside the Halls.
At this point, we took a break for dinner. It goes to show how quickly 5th Edition can run; we started at 4 pm, and took our dinner break just after 7 pm. In the span of three hours:
RP encounter (the first parley)
Exploration encounter (getting into and looting the statue room)
Combat encounter (the north cells and reinforcements)
RP encounter (the second parley)
Exploration encounter (the tunnels)
Combat encounter (the battle with the spiders)
RP encounter (the third parley)
That would've been a long session in any other edition, but for 5th, it was half the session. And none of it felt rushed or unfulfilling.
I really need to get around to typing these up sooner. Our 7th session is already in the books, and I'm still putting six up. :p
Session Six - Part Two
Without much further ado, our heroes set up camp in the dungeon. They didn't trust Pohtep's offer to share camp; they figured (correctly) that he would enact some sort of treachery. So they set watches (two on watch at a time) and rested in the South Cells.
Most of the undead in the halls isn't inclined to rove. But the behir was another matter entirely. I gave it a pretty good chance to show up during any of the watches. It landed on watch two, with Brelf and Estel awake and watching. Brelf made an excellent check and spotted the beast slipping quietly up the South Well, just a short ways down a corridor from where they camped. On an excellent stealth roll, he managed to hide beside the doorway so that he'd have a free attack on the beast when it slipped inside the room. Estel hid similarly, and readied a ray of frost.
The surprised behir was struck by the ray, but Brelf's attack missed (his dice were miserable this session). The behir was high on the initiative, however, so when its turn came around, it beat a hasty retreat. It's incredible speed put it down the well before anyone could catch it, even with Estel's ray of frost.
Under the hood: This particular behir is an opportunist, hoping to pick off strays and eat them. Its bravery extends to sneaking up on sentries, but when confronted by the whole awoken band, it decided to retreat. The delightful part of the behir's stat block is its speed; the beast can move 50 ft, and climb 30 ft. It makes it a perfect ambush predator.
The PCs worried that the beast might try again, but their fears were unfounded; it had been bitten once, and it was not keen to be bitten again. The remainder of their rest passed without event.
Gathering their strength, the PCs set out to find Queen Teera. They decided to check some of the rooms to make sure nothing would surprise them, and wound up slipping into room 12.
There, they were attacked by the wraith who used to be a guard captain, and his skeletons, half armed with bows. The ghouls joined the fight almost immediately. The undead won the initiative, and they charged forward and blocked the entrance. Most of the fight took place there; the wraith fell quickly, despite taking half damage, though he did strike for some decent damage himself. The ghouls managed to paralyze both Brelf and Zarchus (NPC warrior), though each of them shook off the effects quickly. The remaining skeletal archers were finished off, as were the ghouls, and the encounter was won.
Under the hood: This encounter weighed in at 700 xp. Average for 4 PCs at level 3 is 440 xp, while tough is 840 xp. So this was leaning much closer to tough than to average. However, I ran this fight rather poorly. One of the best ways to make a fight boring and static is to bottleneck the PCs in the door, and that's what I did here. In doing so, I made it so only the wraith and one other skeleton could attack the PCs in melee, which meant all the melee PCs focused the wraith down very quickly. Handmaiden Meriele helped with some radiant damage as well. The ghouls were reasonable threats, but their low AC made them easy to bring down. The skeletal archers proved to be the biggest challenge, constantly hitting. Brelf, once again, emerged from the fight with a score of arrows sticking from him.
They claimed a silver chain of rank from the defeated wraith; he had once been the Captain of the Queen's guards. Satisfied with their victory, they ignored the cavern and decided to confront the Queen.
Regicide: Not Just For Kings!
Since Brelf had seen the layout of the Queen's chamber the day before, the adventurers had a good idea of the layout. They sent Vell around to the end of the chamber to peer down the collonade, and he was able to confirm that they had not moved. So they made a plan. Brelf, with Meriele and the NPC warrior Zarchus would attack through the side door, engaging the archers in close combat. Meanwhile, Vell, Estel, the Semi-NPC rogue Myrielle and their NPC patron, The Ivory Lady would slip around to the collonade approach, and fire at the foes from behind the cover of the pillars. It was a very good plan.
Initiative was rolled. Myrielle the Semi-NPC Rogue went first, followed by Estel, the wizard. There was no way to get a surprise round against the undead, but since the collonade attackers were going to spring the attack, I gave them advantage on the first attack. They all had to make their saves against Queen Teera's fearsome presence, and all made it; except for Estel! I allowed the wizard to 'spend' her advantage in exchange for a second saving throw, which she made. The PCs had been preparing for the attack, after all.
Here's how it went down. Myrielle took aim and shot Queen Teera. She added her martial dice, and came up with 9 damage, after Queen Teera's damage reduction cut it in half. Then Estel went; she cast Melf's Acid Arrow. Being a metamagician, she used her energy substitution to make it a fire arrow. The bolt struck Queen Teera. She, being vulnerable to fire, took a solid 32 damage. Queen Teera died.
Undead are not creatures prone to any sort of morale, however, so her skeletons continued the fight. There were eight of them with bows, and though Brelf, Zarchus and Meriele launched a devastating assault, cutting down three of four to start, the others began to wear down the warriors with their incredible accuracy. Then the two wights joined the fight, emerging from the chamber behind the throne. And from further down the hallway, the Queen's handmaiden, another mummy, and her five zombie guards began to lurch towards the ranged characters from behind.
The melee contingent fought the wights while trying to pick off the skeletons. Meriele left them to go for the new mummy; she had some alchemist's fire ready for Queen Teera, but robbed of that chance, she figured one mummy's as good as another. The ranged characters began to retreat down the hall, firing ranged attacks while the mummy and zombies slowly tried to close. Mummies and zombies are both slow, so it was easy to kite them, but they needed to be dealt with quickly; Brelf and Zarchus were being shot to death by the archers while dealing with the wights.
I've attached a picture of our battle mat at about this point. Characters are labelled. The green is the outline of the tunnels that run under this area.
You can see that there was a further complication; sensing his opportunity, Pohtep and his band were moving in from the south to enter the fight. Myrielle was backed into a wall by the mummy and her zombies; instead of disengaging, she decided to try her luck cutting down the mummy. Alas, that didn't go so well; the damage did not fell the undead creature, who then struck her for all her hit points. Myrielle was knocked down to 0, and then she failed her save against mummy rot. Which meant that she could no longer regain hit points (among other things).
The ranged characters dispatched the mummy, with the aid of Meriele's alchemist's fire. But Pohtep marched up the short hallway and announced gleefully his intent to betray them. He channelled trickery and cast mirror image, becoming a target much harder to strike. Laughing, he launched his attack; his archer, Shirk parked in the short hallway and began to pepper foes with arrows. Felicia Lunarlynx, the ferocious warrior charged Zarchus and Brelf straight on. And Daria meekly slipped into the chamber behind the throne room, waiting for her chance to strike unnoticed and assassinate someone. Pohtep was marching up and he used his magic to cause problems; he used Command to force Brelf to kneel, and that's what he spent his next turn doing. Two skeletons remained, and he hadn't the ability to take them down. Zarchus was busy fighting for his life against the ferocious Felicia Lunarlynx.
The Ivory Lady finally made something of herself in this fight; she took aim at Pohtep with her crossbow and crit him! On top of that, she successfully hit the true Pohtep, rather than one of the doubles, hitting him for nearly 20 damage. Nearly bloodied, the priest of trickery used inflict serious wounds on Meriele. He missed the Handmaiden, but she still took half damage, which was enough to drop her unconscious.
Felicia was striking at both Brelf and Zarchus with whirlwind attack, though both were parrying most of the damage. Their battle went back and forth until Vell took aim and critically shot Felicia for nearly 30 damage. Badly wounded, the fighter had only a single hit point remaining. Brelf went in for the kill and hit. He rolled 14 damage. She parried 11. She caught his blade, but the force of his blow drove her parry down, till his axe rested in her skull.
At the top of the round, a new creature entered the initiative list. Those who succeeded on a listen check could hear something moving about down the well. The bells had been rung earlier, when Vell had been taking cover behind them. But it was clear to all that something was coming up the well.
Estel was trying to strike Pohtep, managing to dispatch one of his doubles. The Ivory Lady was handed a potion for Meriele; she ran forward to the stricken form, and then fed the cleric a potion. Meriele returned to life with 5 hit points. The last of Pohtep's doubles was destroyed, leaving him a ready target for Brelf. The wounded warrior ran over and planted his axe in Pohtep's back, taking down the evil cleric with extreme prejudice.
At this point, the behir struck. Ringing the top of the well were Brelf (badly wounded), the corpse of Pohtep, Meriele (badly wounded), and The Ivory Lady. I rolled a d4 to determine who the beast went for, and came up with Meriele. The behir attempted to pull her down the well, but on a roll of five, it missed! Frustrated, it slunk away into the tunnels, not wanting to risk full-on conflict.
Brelf dashed over to the hallway, where he cut down Shirk. The last member of Pohtep's band, the lovely assassin Daria surrendered. And with that, the fight came to a close.
Here's how it all looked at the conclusion.
Under the hood: This was one hell of an encounter. I linked three whole encounters, and I added a random behir attack at the end. It was a dynamic, shifting, exciting encounter. Many characters nearly died. Much loot was acquired. And the XP from the fight gave the PCs level four.
There were a few standouts. First, Queen Teera went down like a punk, but the circumstances felt appropriate. She'd had a chance to be badass earlier, so I didn't feel like my villain hadn't lived up to expectations. Secondly, her demise had come specifically at the hands of a potent spell which had been modified to cater to her specific weaknesses through use of a class option. It was a reward of smart play and preparation that they were able to take her down as quickly as they did.
The rival adventuring group worked really well, and felt extremely dangerous. I built them using PC rules, so it was really a PC vs PC fight. Pohtep's mirror image was brilliantly effective; it made him a caster who could withstand some hits, while his lackeys tied up some of the warriors. Felicia was a dangerous combatant; she nearly took down Zarchus, and had he fallen, she wouldn't have had to split attacks between him and Brelf. Shirk was dishing out tons of damage as an archer. Only Daria never really got to use her tricks, and that's fine; she was really an assassin, so full-out combat isn't her thing.
I couldn't have written a better script for the behir attack. When the die came up and indicated Meriele was the target, the whole table was riveted. The attack roll came up '5', and we had a great description of Meriele lying flat as the beast swept over her. It was electric.
And when it came down to it, it was a fast combat! This sort of fight would've taken a majority of the session in 4th Edition. Not so here!
Following the battle, the PCs bandaged up and claimed the priceless necklace from Queen Teera. They searched Daria and relieved her of her weapons. She made an attempt to use her charming presence to charm Brelf, but his godlike wisdom check bested her formidable charisma check. Angered at her attempt to seduce him, the group sent her out into the dungeon to make her way back, weaponless and alone.
I rolled a percentile chance for her to make it back out of the dungeon; she had the advantage of stealth, though without weapons, it was risky. Still, the dice told me she lived, so there would be one who beat them back with news of Pohtep's demise.
Weary and beaten down, the party decided against further exploration. The Hall of Bells had kept its secrets so far, so why not another week? Gathering the poor rogue Myrielle, stricken with mummy rot, they headed to the entry hall. There, they would rest a little longer so they weren't so vulnerable when they came out.
So that's it for session six. Session seven, coming up soon!
Thanks guys. Now, I'll type up what happened in Session Seven.
Home For A Rest
Our noble heroes, worn down by the fight in the Hall of Bells (and nursing their unconscious, mummy-rot afflicted NPC rogue) swam the river and emerged outside the dungeon. True to form, they had also carried the statue of Queen Teera from the statue room in the halls, and they dragged it through the tunnel behind them. Because they'd brought a statue out last time, they simply couldn't disappoint their adoring public.
The session saw them spend some time in town. First off, they went to the Church of Tiamat and claimed their second bracelet, putting them firmly in the upper echelon of heroes in Fortune. Few manage to claim two bracelets! Zarchus (the NPC warrior) took Myrielle (the NPC rogue) back to the Grey Company, so that they could fix her affliction. The Ivory Lady, meanwhile, brought the PCs back to her camp where she paid them the five hundred gold pieces she owed. She gave them a bonus for going above and beyond the call of duty; the hall had proven more dangerous than even she had expected! An extra twenty platinum coins was doled out to each participant, and each PC was given a silver ring set with an ivory mask on a black field; the symbol of her house. An honor, naming them as agents of her house.
In town, the various characters found themselves the center of attention. Particularly Brelf and Vell; many would-be adventurers challenged them to brawls and wrestling matches, or in Vell's case, archery competitions. We ran a brief 'combat' for each, just to give the PCs a chance to show off. Other adventurers were trying to hit on Estel, who was instead trying to manipulate them to serve her goals. Meriele followed the others, healing those who Brelf injured in his fights.
Estel had a job to do; the elf wizard was also an assassin in the service of House Trelayen, an elf crime family. The last time they were in town, she'd received word through her contact Maya (one of the Mourning Girls) that Princess Rethella, the heir to the Trelayen family was coming to Fortune to personally oversee operations. She had left two instructions for Estel; the first, that the Emperor Suite would be available to her when she arrived. The second, that the cleric Roevus was no longer in Fortune. The first, she was keeping an eye on. As for the second, Estel had been hard at work planting the seeds in the minds of adventurers to go after a treasure on the third level called the Golden Fleece. Every time she spoke of it, she suggested that Roevus would be a fine cleric to take along. The last week's efforts had come to naught; Roevus remained above. But while suitors were hitting on her, Estel deftly suggested that they might want to go after such a prize, and that she'd be inclined (maybe, possibly, perhaps) to join with their venture if Roevus were along.
It bears mentioning that Estel had hatched another plot earlier; just prior to going after the Hall of Bells, she had talked to Maya about the possibility of delaying Pohtep. Drugging him would be tough, they decided, but Estel came up with a plan to kidnap Daria, Pohtep's girl. Sure enough, Maya put the plan into action; she enlisted another of the Mourning Girls named Prea to kidnap the girl, so that Pohtep would spend the morning trying to find her and miss the opening to enter the dungeon.
Alas, all did not end well. Pohtep showed up with Daria on the morning in a foul mood, and Prea turned up dead.
In any case, the first day back was without major events. The PCs were rewarded, they heard some of the news, and they found out that Daria had actually survived to make it back to town.
A Message Signed In Blood
The following morning was the start of four full days in town. The dungeon would be opened on the morning of the fifth day.
That morning, there was a buzz in town. Vallanor the Bold had arrived! A noble, charismatic hero rode into town with his retinue; a butler, a cook, four men-at-arms, and six ladies. He began to boast about his feats, spreading his gold around, and he loudly announced his intention to enter the dungeon on the next Parade Day.
Each of the PCs was invited to a celebration of their second bracelet in the town square at noon. Wary, they prepared some anti-toxin, and as they collected in the square, they imbibed it. Estel made an excellent spot check, and noticed that all the Mourning Girls were in attendance except for her contact, Maya. And she also spotted what looked like a headsman's block up on the platform. But she didn't try anything rash, and minutes later, the Exarch appeared.
It was the first time any of the PCs had met Exarch Anaiya Draco, the Commander of the Red. She was an unassuming woman, actually, with plain features, brown hair, a little under six feet, and splendid red plate armor. The only thing unremarkable about her was her stance, which suggested a strong martial tradition. But otherwise, she was unremarkable.
She spoke about how the PCs demonstrated the qualities that the town of Fortune was built upon. "Bravery, skill, and a desire for more and greater wealth," she said. "For they were not content with merely one bracelet, but when back in for more." She finished with a toast, a fine fire brandy, which servants gave to the PCs. All drank, but the goblets were not poisoned.
Following that, she brought forth Maya in chains, and put her down on the block, her neck outstretched. "In Fortune, we do not tolerate those who murder their fellows," the Exarch said. And with eyes on the PCs, she commanded her headsman to take off Maya's head.
It was clearly a message aimed at the PCs. They had slain Pohtep in the dungeon, who the Exarch was fond of. Cross me again, and you could be up here too.
Finally, she announced that Pohtep's funeral would be two days hence.
The crowd was congratulating the PCs on their accomplishments as they dispersed. One of the last to reach them was Vallanor the Bold himself. He congratulated them warmly, and then challenged them to a wager. "There are griffons who live at the top of the mountain," he said, gesturing to the mountain that loomed over Fortune. The very same mountain that housed the dungeon itself. "Join me in my hunt tomorrow, and we shall see who bags more griffons!"
The PCs agreed. To make things more interesting, Vallanor proposed a wager; five hundred gold pieces to the ones who slayed more griffons! To this, the PCs also agreed. They were hoping to hire on more and better mercenaries for their return to the dungeon.
The rest of the day was largely uneventful. But not entirely. Many of the characters had received letters the last time they were in town, and Brelf was no exception! Except that his wasn't for him. It had been for Brolf, his deceased, stupid brother. It read:
I learnt to write. I hope you learnt how read? If someone reads to you, I laugh.
I killed a moose yesterday.
I want to come to Fortune. I will come with the new moon. You and me will kill all the things. We drink all the ale. It will be like old times. You and me will be best.
Don't tell Brelf.
There was no doubt that Cousin Sacks would be going to his death, and that it would be difficult to persuade him not to go into the dungeon. So Brelf had taken some advance steps; he gave Drekkis (one of their earlier mercenaries) 30 gold pieces for the express purpose of getting Sacks well and truly drunk, so he wouldn't be able to get into the dungeon. After that, they'd see what happened.
Well, Brelf was in the tavern when Sacks showed up. Big, fat, and dumb, Sacks waddled into the tavern and immediately froze when he saw Brelf. He had been spotted. He tried to pretend he hadn't, and turned around, trying to subtly waddle back out. Brelf walked over and put a hand on his shoulder.
"What are you doing here Sacks?"
"Oh hi, uh, Brelf."
"What are you doing here?"
"I saw your letter."
Sacks went pale. Brelf told Sacks that Brolf was dead; Sacks laughed, convinced that Brelf was kidding him until Brelf brought out Brolf's skull. Drekkis arrived, and Brelf handed him three extra platinum coins and nodded for him to grab drink. Sacks took the news of Brolf's death in stride; he vowed to make sure that both he and Brolf were good and drunk by the end of the night. The thought that Drekkis was paying made things even better! He turned Brolf's skull upside-down so it would hold more beer (neglecting to consider the eye sockets), and prepared for some partying.
Brelf prepared to do some Sacks-avoiding.
The next morning, the group went hunting. They met up with Vallanor, who was planning to take the trip with his four men-at-arms, and he suggested that they could pick the path up the mountain they wanted to take. Brelf, being a guide (by background) chose what he surmised to be the quicker path up the mountain, so they split up and began the ascent.
The first obstacle they came across was a small lake, which due to the rocks around it, they'd have to go through. They were ambushed by a witch, who cackled and commanded her pets to feast! Five giant frogs hopped up from the water, and began to attack the PCs. One frog managed to snag Vell, while another grabbed Estel. The others were less successful, though one pulled Brelf over with its tongue. Then the witch cast a spell of silence, which prevented Meriele and Estel from casting spells!
The lack of casting would prove to be a serious problem. Vell was fighting in close, where he took disadvantage on his ranged attacks. One of the frogs had him grabbed, so he couldn't get away. We ruled that Estel could use her wand in the silence (still not sure if this is correct or not, I suspect not, but I wanted to make her wand useful), so she picked off a couple of the more injured frogs with magic missiles. Then things got real interesting. One of the frogs swallowed Estel whole! The witch closed with Brelf and inflicted moderate wounds upon him! But Vell was able to kill Estel's frog, which allowed her to clamber out, and Brelf took down the witch. The other frogs had died in the fight, and the green slime which clung to one of the trees hadn't had a chance to attack.
Under the hood: This encounter clocked in at 620 xp (some of which didn't even come into play, with the green slime). The witch was a re-flavored Dark Priest. An average encounter for four 4th level PCs is 840 xp. So this should've been an easy encounter, by the encounter guidelines. It proved to be quite difficult, actually, in large part thanks to the witch's silence. Shutting down the cleric and the wizard was a really potent trick. Combined with the terrain, it meant that Brelf couldn't easily reach the witch. I was impressed with how challenging the frogs were, being level 1 monsters in a 4th level fight.
The party looted the witch, then proceeded up the mountain. The terrain gave way to alpine meadows, with plenty of jutting rocks. As they neared the peak, where the final leg of the journey would require a climb, they saw the other group, a little ways back. They had the advantage of time, it seemed! They also found some ettin tracks, which led to a large cave towards the base of the peak section. It would take too long to slip around, and it would be hard to sneak up on the ettin (what with the two heads and all), so they decided to lure it out and fight it.
Cleverly, Brelf suggested that Estel use her illusionary magic to call out to the ettin, mimicing a female giant looking for a mate. She did so, and rolled a considerable bluff check in the mid-twenties. However, she didn't speak giant, which imposed disadvantage. She rolled the same result on her d20, however, making it a moot point.
The ettin would've been harder to fool, since it had noticed (on a critical spot check) the approaching people. But he was completely fooled by the check. He emerged, with his saber-toothed tiger on a chain, and bellowed out to the fictional giantess, "Why you come up with little people?"
The surprise round ensued. The saber-toothed tiger was cut down quickly, while the ettin was savagely wounded. Brelf engaged it in melee, and the ettin had a turn or two to try and pummel him. The first time, it landed a crit with one club and a hit with the other. The second time, only one hit, which was fully (and impressively) parried by Brelf. The ettin was wailing around the whole fight, calling out to the giantess he imagined was lurking somewhere, asking her for help. But by the third round, the ettin ran out of hit points.
Under the hood: This encounter was worth 1090 xp, which puts it somewhere just above average difficulty. However, the surprise round made it an exercise in futility to measure it. Surprise rounds are really, really deadly in this edition; they trivialize encounters, and ought to be handled judiciously. I'll often allow PCs to have advantage on their first round as a 'partial surprise' before I'll hand out a full-on surprise round.
The PCs were still ahead of Vallanor the Bold and his group, but the others were making good time up the meadow. The PCs quickly looted the Ettin, and dragged the saber-toothed tiger corpse into the cave (so Brelf could skin it later), then they began to climb the rocky cliffs up to the griffon nests. Only Brelf had a climber's kit, so he was setting ropes and pitons for everyone, which slowed them a little. Vallanor the Bold reached the base, and all of his men had kits; they climbed much faster. But the initial lead led the PCs to the summit first.
Battle On The Peak
I drew the battlefield. The summit was a rough circle, with open cliffs on most sides. There were smaller ledges below the cliffs, forty feet down. If someone was knocked off the edge, they'd get a dexterity save to catch themselves, and if they failed that, they'd fall to the lower platform. If they were knocked off the platform below, they'd fall down the mountain and likely die. The summit was littered with rocky upcrops, each one a twenty foot tall pillar of stone. On top of one, the griffons made their nest.
I allowed the PCs to choose where they came up. Vell opted to have climbed ahead a little, and perched up on top of one of the upcrops, for a commanding view of the battlefield. Estel climbed up at the base of Vell's outcrop. Brelf and Meriele climbed up a little further along. And the griffons, all perched atop the rocky upcrops, shrieked and began their attack.
The griffons won the initiative, and swooped in with deadly purpose. The first attack was on Vell; one of the griffons plowed into him with a single claw attack, and pushed him off the edge. He took 2d6 and 4 from the claw, then failed his dexterity save and spilled over the cliff. While most would only take 40 feet of falling damage, he had climbed onto the upcrop, and took 60 feet worth. Fortunately, Vell had tumbling dodge, which I allowed him to use to mitigate some of the damage. But he was still sorely wounded. Another griffon pounced on the mage, Estel, and tore into her with its claws and beak. Still a third flew around and attacked Meriele from behind, savaging her with claws and beak. The first initiative count had left the party reeling.
Desperately, the PCs focused on the griffon attacking Meriele, since it could also be shot by Vell on the cliff below. The griffon was bloodied in one turn, while Estel blasted the two near her with thunderwave, knocking one close to Brelf and Meriele. Unfortunately, she was still separated from the others. When the griffons acted again, they tore into Estel and took her down hard. The wounded one disengaged, and used its impressive movement to sweep around to the far side of the peak, while the unhurt one Estel had thrown their way began its attack on Brelf with an attempt to push him off, which missed.
The PCs managed to bloody the second griffon, while it flew off and around, and the third one emerged. The first one returned, joining the fight to take down Meriele and Brelf. Meriele fell, leaving Brelf to fight it himself. Vell managed to kill one of the griffons, while a second one circled around and took him down. Only Brelf was left standing, fighting two badly-wounded griffons. He killed one, but the other was up on a rocky upcrop, out of range. He decided to throw his axe as part of his cleave, but sadly, he missed. The remaining griffon swept down at him, and they fought back and forth for a round, but the griffon's damage was really high, and he took down Brelf.
Under the hood: Wow. This one got out of control fast. There were a number of factors in play here. First off, the encounter was worth 1590 xp. A tough encounter for a 4th level party of four PCs weighs in at 1680 xp. So by the numbers, this should have been tough, but not overwhelming. Secondly, the PCs weren't down any significant resources. They had needed a bit of healing on the first fight, but the second was a breeze, and nobody had gone nova.
So what went wrong? A few things. The griffons won the initiative, and had a very, very strong first round. Vell's fall from the top made him unable to really move around the battlefield, since he'd have to spend a full round climbing back up to reach the battlefield. Estel climbing up away from the others made her a vulnerable target, and her going down in the second round meant there were no acid arrows flying about, which would've been significant ranged damage (and automatic, to boot; half on a miss is still damage). Finally, dice luck played a huge role. My dice were hot. I can't count the number of times I rolled 15+ on a d20 that fight, or max on a damage die. And my players all, with no exceptions, had poor dice luck. They missed all fight long, and rolled below average on almost every damage roll. Brelf especially suffered from that.
What would I do differently? Not much. I would probably split up the griffons, so they'd act on separate initiative counts. Most of the rest was bad dice luck and poor placement on the part of the PCs. The encounter was designed to be challenging, but not overbearing; just a few poor decisions compounded by some bad luck led to things spiralling out of control.
It wasn't a glorious TPK; it was a side quest, meant to be entertainment between delves into the dungeon. But you never plan for a TPK, do you? In any case, I told the players that Vallanor was scaling the cliffs, and was pretty close to the top. So if they wanted to continue playing their characters, it would be quite possible for him to enact a rescue (and slay the last, badly-wounded griffon). One of the players suggested we roll to see who stabilized and let that determine who gets rescued, so we did. Everybody stabilized, save for Handmaiden Meriele, who bled to death on the summit.
At that point, we called the session. Next week, we'll see Meriele's replacement. And the player of our dwarf monk is returning, at long last free from his December work schedule, and he'll be bringing in a new character. It should be exciting to see how things go. I look forward to seeing how Brelf, Estel, and Vell cope with the Handmaiden's death, and how the new characters work out. Additionally, Meriele had purchased a funeral, complete with the 'Ceremony of Fading Light' (a ceremony for Clerics of Pelor), so we'll finally get to see a PC funeral!
Again, I enjoyed reading your exploits. It is interesting to see how encounters vary in difficulty depending on a number of factors. One thing I've noticed, and it seems you have too (based on your reports) is that sometimes simple movement and other abilities makes a creature much more tough (fly, swim, grapple) or at least gives the illusion of tough. In my last game a giant albino crocodile (re-skinned giant lizard with 42 hit points and chomping jaws) bit, grappled and nearly pulled the fighter deeper under water. The fighter (and rest of the party) was 5th level, but the croc had xp value about 200 xp. By the numbers, it should barely have been a problem, but because of the terrain, and its ability to grapple and swim, it scared the heck out of the players.
I agree with you about initiative and surprise. PC/Creatures who go first or bunch up their attacks are much more dangerous...and a full round of surprise is often the kiss of death.
...sometimes simple movement and other abilities makes a creature much more tough...
Definitely. The griffons ability to fly made them pretty tough to get to in the last fight (though their aggressiveness meant they could almost always be attacked). I'm delighted that dragons are really fast in this edition for this exact reason; getting a chance to have them fight then disengage will be an extremely cool battle, I think.
I agree with you about initiative and surprise. PC/Creatures who go first or bunch up their attacks are much more dangerous...and a full round of surprise is often the kiss of death.
Yes. PCs going first makes the battle really tough, while the reverse is often true as well. My buddy called it 'first round blues'; in 4th Edition in particular, when monsters won the initiative, they'd make it seem like the PCs were going to be wiped out. But PCs would invariably bounce back with a suite of encounter and daily powers and seize momentum. 5th has less of it, but it still has it; I expected the PCs to down a griffon in the first or second round through sheer firepower.
You may have noticed that I didn't post up anything from last Tuesday. We had a few people sick, so we instead ran a 5th Edition one-shot. Over the course of two weeks, I've been planning my next session. In the interest of getting some pre-session thoughts, I'm going to post a few things up here.
Meriele's player has rolled up a monk. Her order sent her to Fortune previously to retrieve a lost scroll from the dungeon, which she did successfully (earning two bracelets). Her order has just finished decoding the scroll, which tells of an enlightened hero who ventured deep beneath the earth in the dungeon. Giving her a scroll of 'Speak With Dead' and a few important prophecy-related questions, they've sent her back to Fortune to look for the corpse in the dungeon.
Our fifth has returned as well (the fellow who played Mork and Mink). He's rolled up a rogue (with some pretty good stats, I might add). I haven't had a chance to talk with him about character back story, but it'll be good to get back to five players. It'll also be good to see a rogue in action!
As for the next session, there will be a funeral for Pohtep (the NPC rival), then a funeral for Meriele (since she paid for one). She also paid for a special religious ceremony called the "Ceremony of Fading Light", which will be presided over by Brother Averyn, her previous aide. I still have to come up with some ideas for a special cleric ceremony for a cleric of Pelor, so if anyone's got ideas, I'm all ears. Mostly fluff and flavor stuff, but I'm open to suggestions. I want it to feel grand and special, since she put out extra money for it.
Back To The Dungeon!
Brelf's plan is to clear out the goblins on level one (since Meriele will no longer be around to object). Then to plunder the treasure vault of the Hall of Bells. Then he wants to kill the lake monster he was taming. There hasn't been a discussion in character just yet, but it seems likely they'll be tying up loose ends.
I expect the goblins to be easy fodder, but it'll be fun for the PCs to feel the benefits of being higher level. Letting them mow through a whole cave of goblins should be fun. Then the treasure vault will allow them to claim some actual magical weapons, a moment I've been anticipating for some time.
As for the lake monster, the beast was previously in an area cleared by other adventurers. I'm going to give it some new inhabitants; a drow, her five troglodytes, and their pet rust monster. It should be a speed bump encounter for them, but I want to give the impression that the dungeon isn't always sitting quiet and waiting for them; some places get re-inhabited! The lake monster itself I'm modelling off of the hydra, and it'll function similarly. It likely won't be much of a challenge either, but I think it'll be fun for the PCs to get in some easy killing.
My buddy has volunteered to run a short 3-4 session game in February, so I'd like to put this campaign through a short climactic arc before we put things on hold for a bit. My campaign thus far has revolved around the PCs controlling their own destiny, where they can make educated choices and retreat is always an option. Well, I want to change that.
I'm going to collapse the floor beneath them, and sent them plummeting several hundred feet into an underground lake.
The way back up is not an option; they can't scale the walls of the cavern. All they can do is swim to shore. The PCs will then have to find their way back up through the caverns and tunnels, fighting what they can beat, avoiding what they can't. I want to make provisions matter here (I plan to have one of their NPCs ask about provisions before they leave town, just to make sure they have some). I want them to seek out food, to cook what they can catch, to have to ask the question, "Can I eat troglodyte?". I really want the long rest rules to come into play, too; I'm probably going to adopt one of the slower-heal rules for the campaign. Till now, it hasn't mattered. But for this arc, it definitely will come up.
There are risks, of course. PCs may die in the course of the adventure, and it will be difficult to just add in a replacement PC. They have some NPC mercenaries, so that's a possibility, but I'd prefer to keep them from becoming full PCs; they have obligations to their mercenary company in town, which would be tough for a PC to work with. That said, I may have the PCs encounter some other survivors deep down; prisoners, perhaps? I may offer the chance to roll up and play a second PC, though I'm really not sure if my players would enjoy that or not. I may just have said prisoners lurking in the wings, waiting to be rescued whenever a new PC needs to turn up.
I'm going to try and come up with some interesting exploration scenarios, in addition to the combat hooks. If anyone has some particularly good ideas for challenging terrain features (like a natural chimney, or a tight crevasse, things like that), I'm all ears.
The floor collapse will be the work of the Exarch's agents, which means that she'll consider the PCs dead. The PCs will know this. The big dramatic payoff will be when they stroll back into town, even after they were presumed dead, putting her on shaky footing. Which I think is a good way to end before a break.
Hi Mortal Plague. I made a random chart for underdark encounters (some combat some just flavor or hazards). As DM, sometimes I like to trick myself too by rolling random encounters. It keeps me in suspense.
Underdark Exploration Table
1. Tunnel crawl (pcs have to get down on hands and knees to crawl through a very tight passage if they want to continue)
2. Rumbles…rock slide down a chute - DC 15 Dex 4d6 or 2d6
3. The ruins with bone pile (Stirges attack)
4. 20’ gap with path continuing 20’ above on the other side
5. Cavern with a large pool of water (20’ by 20 foot) before the exit tunnel
6. Same as 5, but Albino Alligator lives inside. Tries to grab and drag pray to underwater cave.
7. 20’ x 20’ cavern with phosphorescent mold all over the floor and walls
8. Are we lost? Dead end cavern…collapse cuts party in half..giant snakes investigate.
9. 50’ wall to climb to get to the exit passageway.
10. Sulfur smell….mist and steam 10’ x 10’ passageway. DC 13 Con or 2d6 damage
11. Tunnel collapse (DC 12 Dex 4d6 or 2d6) - 1d6 hours to dig through
12. Lizardmen tribe ambush.
13. Phosphorescent mushroom patch
14. Dead end…pit descends (20’ drop)
15. Displacer Beast on the prowl.
16. Dead body…a Deep Dwarf drained of blood. Banded mail, greataxe…Duerger Dark Forge Necklace. 2 Carrion Crawlers are feasting on the body or a huge spider attacks the party to capture more pray.
17. Hissing and sliding sound down the way. It is retreating from the party.
18. Green slim tunnel ---- Spot DC 12…..Dex DC 12 who pass under. 1d6 damage + 1d6 damage per round until it is scraped off.
19. Large mushroom caps growing 10’ up from the bottom of a small depression that is 60' across. Below the mushrooms is a spongy substance that secrets acidic juices (Acid mold that does 1d6 damage per round of contact). One of the PCs accidently kicks a small rock and it fall into the depression. The PCs hear a sizzling from below (if they look down, they see the rock smoking and in 20 rounds it decomposes) PCs can hop from one to another DC 10 dex check. Make 2 checks to get across.
20. 3 spears stuck into the ground to form a tripod. There is a large skull (panther-like) placed upon the top of the spears. Some kind of tribal marking (Lizard men left behind after they killed a Displacer Beast).