#16 – Encounters in Berlstrum Belly Dungeon

Zombie Wyvern




It is recommended that the party be 4th level before starting this dungeon and have at least 4 party members, especially a rogue to help with traps. I’ve included monster stat blocks for the ones that are non-standard and not in the Monster Manual. 

Sometimes characters die or players want to run something different. In the middle of a dungeon crawl that can be a bit of a challenge. At the bottom of this page is some flavor text I wrote up for bringing in the new character while the party was in Berlstrum’s Belly. 

Berlstrum Belly Dungeon
Map of the Berlstrum Belly Dungeon

Berlstrum Belly Review

Dungeon Walls: Sharp briarstone rock make up the walls and ceiling. The crystals are so sharp that one has to be cautious not to cut themselves on the walls. 1d6 piercing damage if pushed/knocked into the wall or ceiling.

Dungeon Floor: Consists of smooth, black shiny stone. When running on the surface, there’s a chance of falling prone (DEX DC 11) due to the slippery surface. Pushes and slides go twice normal distance.

Illumination: Dark. No natural light available.

TRAP: Entrance from Champions’ Manor 

(T) Proximity Trap: Magic Missile

Perception DC 22 to detect the runes etched into the briarstone at the mouth of the cave, advantage on perception if the person spotted a previous Magic Missile trap.
Disarm DC 20

Triggers when a creature enters its 20ft radius; 3 magic missiles (1d4+4 damage) will go to the 3 closest targets within 20 ft.

Room #1 

Wyvern Zombie

A large creature on its 2 scaley legs approaches, dragging one of its twisted broken leathery wings behind it. The stub of a tail angrily whips back and forth. From its lizard-like head, scaly flesh hangs, baring the bone beneath. Ribs and other bones peak through obvious mortal injuries along its side. Mindlessly, the creature charges towards your group, emitting a low throaty hiss.

Zombie WyvernWyvern Zombie

Large undead, neutral evil

Armor Class 20 
Hit Points 105
Speed 30 ft

STR 20 (+5), DEX 6 (-2), CON 16 (+3), INT 5 (-3), WIS 12 (+1), CHA 4 (-3)

Saving Throws WIS +1
Damage Immunities
Condition Immunities poisoned
Senses Darkvision 60ft, Passive Perception 11
Challenge 4


Multiattack 2 attacks per round (Any combo of two of the below)

Bite Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft, one creature
Hit: 2d6 + 4 piercing

Claws Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5ft, one creature
Hit: 2d8 slashing

Stinger Stub (the tail no longer has the poisonous stinger, but still does bludgeoning damage as the zombie wyvern instinctively tries to poison its prey) Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10ft, one creature
Hit: 1d6+4 bludgeoning


No Life Drain. Though this creature is undead, it was undead before the Eye of Orcus ritual began, so it does not have the Life Drain ability.

Undead Fortitude. If damage reduces the undead 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 undead drops to 1 hit point instead.


Amid a nest of bones and other bits of unidentifiable junk you find, wrapped in burlap bundles:

  • (3d10+5) +2 arrows
  • (3d10+5) +2 bolts

Room #2 

TRAP: Proximity Trap: Symbol of Fear

Perception 20 to detect;
Disarm DC 18

Triggers when a creature enters the traps 20ft radius; On a failed WIS DC 15, targets see a vision of their greatest fears and drops whatever they are holding (weapons) and become frightened. Must use dash action (double movement) to move away by safest route possible, unless there’s nowhere to run.

Once out of site of the trap, effect ends or if in combat, at the end of each turn, target can make another WIS save throw to end effect.

The trap is intended to cause at least one person to run into the next area (to the South) in fear, driving them into the Gibbering Mouthers territory. Once the gibbering mouthers see someone, they will start chattering.

2 Gibbering Mouthers

The Gibbering Mouthers will only start their horrible wailing after they’ve spotted a potential addition to their collection.

The two amorphous masses of mouths and eyes ooze slowly forward towards their victims. The cacophonous gibbering from the many mouths murmuring and chattering, wailing and crying – in shrill voices and deep voices – is maddening (DC 10 Wisdom saving throw). The monsters are only silenced when they flows over their victim and absorbs the living flesh.

Gibbering Mouther

Gibbering Mouthers

See 5th Edition Monster Manual page 157 for Gibbering Mouther stats.


A pair of undigested legs list against the nearby wall (farthest South). The feet are still wearing some surprising nice looking boot.

  • Winged Boots (description on 5th Edition Dungeon Master’s Guide, page 214)

Room #3

Ghouls, lots of Ghouls (10-20)

Note: The number of ghouls is totally up to how many you think the party can handle, be challenged by, but not out-right slaughtered. 

As you round the corner, a cloying scent coats the back of your throat, burns, and immediately prompts your gag reflex. Rotten meat. Feces. Death. You desperately fight the urge to vomit. A mound of dead bodies takes up a large amount of space in this cavern. Looking up you can see an opening to a shaft above the pile. Crawling over the pile of corpses are emaciated humanoid creatures with putrid grey skin. Their razor-sharp fangs tear into the flesh of the corpses, their long lashing tongues seeking the most succulent morsels. Their fingers and toes end in sharp, black claws. They seem focused on their feast, occasionally breaking into squabbles between themselves over a choice bite.

Note: The dead bodies are pretty fresh. Most look like the sort of scum that had been attacking Berlstrum the last couple of days. This hole is a handy place for the people of Berlstrum to toss dead bodies. Tossing them into the sea would draw in all sort of horrible monsters!



See 5th Edition Monster Manual page 148 for Ghoul stats.


Searching through the pile of corpses nets you, well not much really. The bodies were pretty well looted before being tossed down the chute:

  • 2 Onxy Gems (50g each)
  • Chalcedony Gem (50g)

Bringing in a character mid dungeon crawl

One of my players needed to bring in a new character while the group was in the middle of this dungeon crawl. This is description I used to bring him in. It was a bit of a gamble. If the party had decided they didn’t want to mess with the ghouls, this new character probably wouldn’t have gotten very far.

Ghoul Chow

You slowly become aware of your surroundings. It’s impossibly dark. You blink several times. Nothing. You try to move your head to look around. It won’t budge.

You feel weight pressing down on you from every direction, making it impossible to move and difficult to breath. You’re not sure you want to breath anyway. What little air you can get has a dense, cloying scent that coats the back of your throat, burns, and immediately prompts your gag reflex. Rotten meat. Feces. You desperately fight the urge to vomit. The weight pushing on your chest gets worse.

You think you might have passed out for a bit. It’s hard to tell. You manage to breathe through the stench, barely. Your noise feels tickled by hairs.

You wiggle your fingers and toes just to make sure you still have them. Check. You try to move, to shift, to lessen the weight pressing down on you. To scratch your nose. Anything! Something sharp pokes painfully into your back.  A burning sting across your shoulder is followed by the metallic smell of your fresh blood added to the nauseating brew.

A horrific noise, a monstrous howl of hunger muffled by soft tissue. You listen intently. If you could get enough air, dare you cry for help? You hear scrabbling, tearing, more guttural bellows. The weight shifts, presses down on you harder. The hot searing pain of something sharp pushes farther into the flesh of your shoulder.

Wait! Is that the sound of battle?

Before this, the last thing you remember:

Heading back from Castleview, you were almost home when you came upon a rough group of travelers. They asked you if you knew where the champions’ home was. Tired and really just wanting to go to sleep, you nevertheless offered to take them there. And then it all gets kind of hazy.

Up Next: More beastie encounters in the next Dreadstorm installment.

#15 – Berlstrum’s Belly Dungeon Overview



It’s time for a dungeon crawl! A classic in any Dungeons and Dragons adventure … searching for traps … getting lost in the labyrinth of tunnels … slogging through monsters to find a treasure or save the kingdom. Ah, good times! 

The original dungeon was generated by donjon Random Dungeon Generator, but modified for my own nefarious purposes. I confess to having a great time just making the random dungeons with this generator. I find it inspires me with ideas, a lot like my hand-drawn ones without the doodling.  

Searching for the Champions

Some of the following depends on what the players have discovered and discussed with Mayor Cobblekeep. If the group has been playing it close to the chest and not told him anything, he will have no reason to trust them nor give them aid. If they’ve been open with their information and shown him that they are actively trying to save the city and find the champions, then he will tell them …

Berlstrum has a hidden labyrinth of tunnels below the town, called Berlstrum’s Belly. It is a deadly place, full of monsters and traps. Only a few know where all of the secret doors are to the belly (including the mayor, council members, and the champions). The mayor suspects something may have happened to the champions down there and asks the adventurers if they would be willing search the Belly for them?

If they are agreeable, the mayor will provide them with:

  • a map of Berlstrum’s Belly (see below)
  • 4 bullseye lanterns
  • A teleport stone (small, red pebble), which will bring the person holding the stone and anyone touching the user back to Berlstrum’s Town Hall. It’s a single use item. He only has one.
  • 2d4+1 Potions of Healing (common)

Map for the Players

Game master map is at the bottom of the page.

Players' Map of Berlstrum's Belly
Map of Berlstrum’s Belly provided to players by Mayor Cobblekeep; Cartography accuracy is not accuracy.

Getting there – hidden doors

The Mayor will direct the adventurers to go enter via the hidden door in the cellar of the Champion’s Manor (Room I on the Champions’ Manor map)


(I) Champions’ Manor Kitchen

The kitchen has cupboards and prep surfaces along most of the walls. Under the window to the east is a heavy slab cutting table. Much of the kitchen was trashed by the looters; doors hanging of the cupboards, foodstuffs tossed onto the floor, shelves emptied, broken jars, cookware, and plates mixed in with the rotting food.

To find the trap door from the kitchen down into the cellar without aid from the Mayor is an Investigation DC 12 if actively looking for it. With the Mayors guidance, the group is directed to move the cutting table to the middle of the room, find the rope inside the cupboard next to the other window, and pull on the rope.

Like the rest of the ground floor of the manor, the floor of the kitchen is made up of large, smooth gray stone. The trap door proves to be a false cover matching the gray stone, but made of lighter material. Pulling the rope inside one of the cupboards causes the trap door to open upward (unless someone happens to be standing it). The hinge is well oiled and opens soundlessly. A ladder leads down into the cellar.


Dreadstorms Mansion-cellar-cropped
The Cellar underneath the Kitchen in the Champions’ Manor

The cellar is 15 ft x 15 ft with a 10 ft high ceiling. It seems mostly undisturbed and not used in a while. It’s dusty and smells of damp mildew. Old boxes and barrels take up much of the space.

A compulsive search of the boxes and barrels (Because what adventurer can resist searching boxes and barrels?) will find:

  • 1d4 glass jars of pickled mixed vegetables
  • 1d4 glass jars containing weird clumps of hair floating in pickling fluid
  • 1d4 glass vials filled with nail clippings floating in liquid (Not potions of Giant Strength)
  • A small bag full of animal teeth of varying sizes
  • A silver spoon with an “S” engraved on the handle
  • A bottle of cheap red wine
  • A petrified rat
  • A glass jar containing lard with a label that read, “Goblin Go-Go Grease”

See Dungeon Master’s Guide pgs 160-161 for other random trinkets ideas.

Trap Door to the Belly

Spotting the trap door in the floor of the cellar  is a DC 20 Perception. If a successful Perception spots the outline of the trap door, it still won’t budge without hitting the trigger mechanism.

It is an Investigation DC 20 to find the hidden mechanism to opens the trap door in the cellar without directions from the mayor. If the mayor told you where to look, but is not present, it’s an Investigation DC 10.  If the mayor is there, he’ll point directly to the spot.

The trigger looks like a smudge of dirt amidst other smudges of dirt in the ceiling o (which is 10 ft high), but the smudge is shaped like a skull.  Pushing on the spot reveals a well-hidden trap door on the floor that lifts up and out, revealing stairs down into the dark, dark tunnels.

The stairs descend about 15 feet before leveling out to the floor of the tunnel. At the bottom of the stairs in a lever that closes/opens the door to the cellar.

Do the players leave the door from the kitchen to the pantry open?

Do they leave the door down from the cellar open.

Down into the belly

After 20 feet, there is no light source. It’s very dark.

The narrow tunnel of rough conglomerate stone twists and turns, doubling back upon itself many times, always at a slight downward slop. The width of the tunnel varies from 6 feet to 2 feet. The height is usually around 8 feet, but occasionally goes down to under 5, slowing down the larger party members. There are no side passages or hidden doors are found. The air grows moist the longer they hike down.

The rough stone becomes interlaced with ribbons of the sharp briarstone rock the farther down you go. After 30 minutes of walking, the walls and ceilings are completely composed of briarstone. The floor becomes smooth like black glass.

Briarstone, the Rock

Briarstone is an opaque black rock formation with small, jagged crystal protrusions resembling thorns. When the brittle rock shatters, it creates more jagged protrusions.

At one point it becomes necessary to squeeze through a narrow section of the tunnel. It’s a DEX DC 11 to avoid getting cut by the briarstone. On a failed roll, take 1d6 piercing damage.

It takes an hour of walking before you come to a “entrance” shown on the map. The entrance from the Champions’ Manor is the higher one on the left side of the map.

Berlstrum Belly Overview

Dungeon Walls: Sharp briarstone rock make up the walls and ceiling. The crystals are so sharp that one has to be cautious not to cut themselves on the walls. 1d6 piercing damage if pushed/knocked into the wall or ceiling.

Dungeon Floor: Consists of smooth, black shiny stone. When running on the surface, there’s a chance of falling prone (DEX DC 11) due to the slippery surface. Pushes and slides go twice normal distance.

Illumination: Dark. No natural light available.

 Map for the Game Master

Map for the Game Master with encounter numbers and trap locations.


There’s a lot of information to parse out for this dungeon (cavern/labyrinth/whatever you want to call it). So like any proper evil overlord, I’ll provide that information on the next installment.

Up next: What sort of monsters and traps are in this dungeon? And treasure?! 


More Doodle, Less Noodle

Humans are strange. I just like to add my bit into the mix.

I do find that this sort of doodling keep me occupied and out of trouble when I’m in long stretches of sit-and-by-quiet times like long boring meetings, plane rides, or when other players are doing some intense role playing that I need to stay out of (which is amazingly harder than you’d think!). Also, I’ve found these random squiggles make for some interesting background textures.

What is it this time?!

A pattern marked on clothing of a secret sect of druids bent on destroying unnatural buildings and walls that dare defy mother nature?

A wicked bard’s gloves hypnotize his audience with ever sweep and gesture of his hands, making them susceptible to his suggestions?

To enter the Chamber of Knowledge, first you must solve this puzzle? Is there a solution to this puzzle? Maybe the answer is not all puzzles must be answered. That the search for knowledge and truth is where true enlightenment follows.

What ideas can you come up with?


#14 – Day 2 of Plague Wave



The tricky part about Dreadstorms Lost campaign is the timeline. Once the ritual spell is started, it will increase in intensity each day. At each dawn the life draining wave kills more creatures to reanimates them at dusk. The Will of Orcus Undead instinctively attack in hordes.

Depending on the party’s actions, like long or short rests, will decide where there are when a plague waves will happens.  

Day 2 of Casting the Will of Orcus

Hidden underneath Berlstrum in his impregnable lair, Kazel continues casting the ritual spell, Will of Orcus. If the party is outside of the effected area (like on the farms), they do not need to make the CON save.

Second Plague Wave!

At dawn, those awake feel a moment of fatigue (*Life Drain) that lasts for 6 seconds. Everyone save vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 2]: CON save 6

-2 to maximum HP on a failed save. If HP is reduced to 0 by the wave, target dies and rises as zombie 12 hrs later. A LONG REST restores max HP.

Note: You can only have 1 long rest ever 24 hours.

Small Animals Drop Like Flies

The second wave effects small animals: rats, mice, cats, gophers, etc. The area of effect extends farther than it did yesterday.

On a Perception of 15, someone spots a dead rat (or other area-appropriate critter). Once they start looking, rats, mice, cats, squirrels and other smaller animals have all dropped dead. They very weak or ill people are also effected.


Berlstrum - Day 2 of Plague Wave
Blue circle shows the area of effect from the second plague wave, overlapping the red circle from day 1.

Berlstrum Map

Town of Berlstrum with index [PDF]


Council Meeting

The mayor requests that the remaining protectors attend the council meeting (including the party) at 10 that morning at the Town Hall (#82 on the map)

(Assuming that our adventurers were successful at escorting the council members back) The mayor thank the group for the dangers they faced in getting Tomo, Amagoste, and Hammond back to town.

Other topics of discussion during the meeting;

  • What has happened to the Champions? Do the adventurers have any clues? (possibly from search the Champions’ Manor)
  • Why is Berlstrum under attack from so many hooligans all at once?
  • What caused the animal deaths?
  • Are all these somehow connected?

What information will the party share with the council?

The Mayor and the Council discuss the problems with the bandits and the small animal corpses. After some debate, the council agrees to send word to the capital that they need assistance from the royal military.

Optional Skill Challenge: Re-kill the Rats!

My groups decided that they wanted to gather all things that died at dawn and destroy the bodies before they could become zombies. If your  group decides the same:

Gather & Destroy the Dead Bodies: DC 15

There are approximately 5,000 small undead animals around Berlstrum (1 swarm = 500 undead critters). For each successful skill check, 1 swarm of small animal corpses is destroyed. For each failed check, that will be a swarm that becomes active at dusk.

Depending on the number of people in your party, it can simplify things to have double the amount of swarms as players, so each player gets 2 shots at destroying a swarm: 5 players x 2 swarms each = 10 swarms total. Increase the number of swarms per player depending on the level of challenge you want to give the players. 

Describe how your character uses a skill to help destroy the critter corpses You can NOT use the same skill twice in a row and you can NOT use the same skill as the person before you. Examples of skills used:

  • Insight: What will it take to convince to the townfolk to focus on this problem instead of the stray thugs roaming their town or repairing the damage to their properties?
  • Persuade/Diplomacy: Convince the townfolk to work together to gather the dead and pile them in the streets
  • Deception: No need to panic. Everything will be just fine. We have everything under control
  • Nature: Find the areas where rats would be most likely to congregate.
  • Intimidate: You WILL go into the cistern and toss out the dead rats. I don’t care if it smells bad. Get it done.
  • Perception: Search for corpses under the walk-way bridges
  • Investigate: Track the rat droppings to their hidden nest
  • Athletics: Climb to the roofs of the buildings looking for critters that might have been higher up (ie: cats)

At Dusk the Tiny Dead Gather

Anywhere near the radius of the 2nd plague wave that occurred at dawn, will see the small undead animals gathering and attacking the nearest source of “meat” in immediate area.

140331rat swarm1-lo resZombie Small-Animal Swarm

AC 12 
Hit Points 56
Speed 30 ft, climb 20 ft.

STR 14 (+2), DEX 14 (+2), CON 11 (0), INT 1 (-5), WIS 7 (-2), CHA 2 (-5)

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

Senses Darkvision 60ft, Passive Perception 6

Bites Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit  Hit: 4d6 piercing + Life Drain; 2d6 + 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 6 CON or lose 2 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: Into the Belly of Berlsturm to stop this plague!

#13 – Loot from Gwantomo’s & from Amagoste’s Farms – Dreadstorms Lost Campaign

Original art by: https://namkoart.deviantart.com/art/Treasury-477630587
The following blog post is Part 13 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.)


The quantity, quality, and frequency of loot varies dramatically from game master to game master in any role playing game. I tend to be overly generous with my loot. It also means that the encounters that my players face will be that much deadlier to balance out the magic items they find. 

I’ll sprinkle in random, non-magical items in with the other found items just for the fun of it. For instance, when going through an abandoned farmhouse, they might find a cast-iron pot, a wooden spoon, and a bottle of wine.  I’m always tickled when my players find clever uses for these items months later that take me totally by surprise. 

DMG = 5th Edition D&D Dungeon Master’s Guide

Featured art found here: https://namkoart.deviantart.com/art/Treasury-477630587

Amagoste’s Farm House

If the party defeats all 8 of the Orcs outside and inside of Amagoste’s house, the party finds the following

From the 8 Orcs

  • Total Gold: 32
  • Total Silver: 5
  • 6 Hide Armors – varying states of disrepair
  • 3 Greataxes
  • 7 Javelins
  • Muddy white gem (worth 10gp)
  • Scroll of Purify Food & Water
  • 3 Potion of healing (2d4+2)
  • Flat iron rod with a button on one end [Immovable rod (DMG 175)]
  • Lovely statue of an elven lady (25gp)
  • Emerald gem (50gp)
  • Spell Scroll of Lesser Restoration

In addition, if they defeat the 2 Ogres, they will also find:

From 2 OGRES inside of Amagoste’s house:

  • Gold 8
  • Silver 2
  • 2 Greatclubs
  • 7 Javelins
  • Statue of a handsome elven lord (25gp)
  • Vial of brown liquid with questionable chunks floating in it [Potion of Animal Friendship -DMG 187]
  • Goggles with leafy gold metalwork and green lenses [Goggles of Night Vision -DMG 172]
  • Green & blue plaid bonnet
  • Glass unicorn figurine (25gp)
  • Black leather purse with images of bear cubs frolicking in the grass embossed on the flap [Bag of holding -DMG 153]
  • Lacy doily

Gwantomo’s Farm

The from battle at Gwantomo’s Farm left a lot of dead bodies. It will take time to search them all. Hammond and Tomo are exhausted and have no interest in any of the loot the adventurers might find on the dead. If they decide to go inside the house to loot, Tomo will stop them.

  • Gold = 110 each
  • Platinum = 3 each
  • Dusty, dark gray studded leather armor [Studded Leather Armor +2 DMG 152; 1000g]
  • Beautifully carved black longbow [Longbow +1 -DMG 213]
  • Silver chain necklace with a small marbled stone; stone is weightless; 2 silver
  • Green bowler hat with brown feather in headband  [*Feather is a Quaal’s Feather Token-bird token, DMG 188; single use; 350g]
  • Bottle with viscous, sticky black unguent [Oil of Slipperiness DMG 184]
  • Bottle of clear liquid with large fingernail floating inside[Potion of Hill Giant Strength DMG187; STR 21; 75g)
  • 6 Potions of Healing 2d4+2 (pg188; 50g ea)
  • 1 Potion of Greater Healing 4d4+4 (pg188; 150g ea)
  • Large iron pot; 1g
  • Blue cloak with gold-ribbon edging [Cloak of Protection DMG 159; +1 AC and saving throws; 500g]
  • Leatherworker’s tools
  • Gold Mace with holy symbols (Mace of Disruption; DMG179; 6,500g)
  • Interlocking metal armbands of gold (Bracers of Defense; +2 AC with no armor/no shield; DMG 156; 2500g)
  • Magnifying lens
  • Scroll of Stone Shape (PHB 278)
  • Hooded lantern

Up Next:  #14 – Day 2 of Plague Wave