THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST IS PART 14 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 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.
Town of Berlstrum with index [PDF]
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.
Zombie Small-Animal Swarm
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.