#11 – Bugs & Thugs – Plague Day 1 (Dreadstorms Lost)

The following blog post is Part 11 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)


All right. I hear the cries of suffering and agony. “Give us some stuff to kill! More bad guys, less talk.”

We begin this next bit assuming that the party has gotten a long rest. It is the next morning after the initial influx of scumbags attacking the town. Players are assumed to be 2nd level. Adjust challenges as needed.

At Dawn they Don’t Cometh

Kazel has set up and begun casting the ritual spell, Will of Orcus, several hours before sunrise.

First plague wave!

At dawn, those awake feel an odd moment of fatigue (*Life Drain). It quickly passes. Everyone needs to save vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 1]: CON save 5

-1 to Max HP on a failed save. If HP reduced to 0 by fatigue wave, target dies and rises as zombie 12 hrs later. Otherwise, a LONG REST restores max HP.

Note: You can only have one long rest ever 24 hours.

Dead Bugs

The first wave is fairly week and mostly effects insects: flies, caterpillars, small spiders, grasshoppers, moths, bees, and the like.

On a Perception of 16, an especially observant character will notice that there are no bugs buzzing/crawling/creeping about inside the town. There are dead bugs everywhere once a person starts looking. No live bugs within the wave radius area.

The wave has a radius effect centered around Kazel. His hidden lair underneath Berlstrum is roughly located under building #96 on the town map. This initial radius encompasses the Champions’ manor and a large portion of the town center. (See map below.)

Map of Berlstrum with plague area effect
Area of effect of the first wave of the Will of Orcus Plague in Berlstrum

If the players rested in the 2nd floor or tower of the champions’ manor, they will be safe from random bandit attacks.

Tasks for Heroes

Mayor Cobblekeep stayed with the relative safety of the party (hopefully he survived) until morning. The mayor heads back into town to organize the rest of the protectors into cleaning the low-lives out off his town and repairing the damage and dealing with the dead. He also needs to gather the council together to discuss their next course of action.

There are two tasks the mayor asks of the party:

  1. The most pressing task is escorting the two Council Members who live on farms outside the city walls back to Berlstrum, Amagoste and Hammond. The mayor informs the party that, “There are patrols along the top of the city wall. Since the gates are down, signal one of the patrols and they’ll lower the rope ladder for you to leave.” (If they discovered the secret doors in the champions’ manor, the mayor will emphasize how important it is not to reveal the locations of the secret doors to anyone!)
  2. He also requests that the players try to figure out what happened to the champions and hopefully find them and bring them back. Once they have all the council gathered, the group can let the council know what they’ve learned.


Before the group can head out on their missions, they find Captain Scallion and his two henchmen waiting for our crew to emerge Captain Scallion is frustrated at their inability to search the tower and wants inside NOW! Which due to the protection spell on the tower, isn’t going to happen.

Captain Scallion is a Bandit Captain with 3 melee attacks and the Parry Reaction:+2 AC on one attack.  (See 5th Edition Monster Manual pg 344 for stats)

His two henchmen use the Tribal Warrior template on page 350 of the 5th Edition Monster Manual. 

At Dusk they Cometh

Anywhere near the radius of the plague wave that occurred 12 hours earlier (at dawn), will see swarms of insects gathering and attacking.  The dead bugs rise in swarms and attack the nearest source of “meat” in immediate area.

insect-bee-swarm.pngZombie Bug Swarm

AC 10 
Hit Points 32
Speed 20 ft., climb 20 ft.

STR 4 (-4), DEX 7 (-2), CON 12 (+1), INT 1 (-5), WIS 3 (-4), CHA 1 (-5)

Damage Immunities poison
Damage Resistance bludgeoning, piercing, slashing
Condition Immunities charmed, frightened, paralyzed, petrified, prone, restrained, stunned

Senses blindsight 10 ft,  darkvision 60ft, passive Perception 8

Bites Melee Weapon Attack: +3 to hit (swarm moves into target’s space) Hit: 4d4 HP piercing + Life Drain (DC7 Con or -1 to Hit Point Max ), or 2d4 + Life Drain if only half the swarm remains


Swarm. The swarm can occupy another creature’s space and vice versa, and the swarm can move through any opening large enough for a tiny insect. The swarm can’t regain hit points or gain temporary hit points.

Life Drain. DC 7 CON or lose 1 hit point to maximum hit point total. If HP reduced to 0 by infected, target rises as zombie the following dusk; if not dead, LONG REST recovers lost max HP

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the zombie swarm to 0 hit points, it must make a CON saving throw with a DC of 5 + damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the zombie drops to 1 hit point instead.

Up Next: It’s off to the farm to gather the stray Council Members! #12 – Going to the Farm – Dreadstorms Lost

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