Undead horde attacks 3 mounted knights

#20 – Will of Orcus Plague – Dreadstorms Lost

THE FOLLOWING BLOG POST IS PART 20 OF MY CAMPAIGN, DREADSTORMS LOST, FOR THE DUNGEONS AND DRAGONS 5TH EDITION GAME. 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.)

Notes:

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 toand 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 1 | Day 2 | Day 3 | Day 4 | Day 5


Day 1 – At Dawn they Don’t Cometh – Insects

(Day 1 description copied from #11 – Bugs & Thugs)

Kazel is set up and has 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

At Dusk/Sunset on Day 1

Dead bugs rise in swarms, attacking any viable meat source in immediate area.

Zombie Bug Swarm 

Based on Swarm of Insects (5E Monster Manual pg 338) with a plague zombie template.

Hit Points 40

Movement 20ft, fly 30

Undead Template: +1 STR, +2 CON, -6 INT, -4 WIS, -4 CHA, Undead Fortitude, Poison immunity (damage type and condition)

*Life Drain: *If HP reduced to 0 by infected, target rises as zombie the following dusk; if not dead, LONG REST recovers lost max HP

Actions

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

 


Day 2 of Casting the Will of Orcus – Small animals

(Day 2 description copied from #14 – Day 2 of Plague Wave)

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.

 At Dusk/Sunset on Day 2


Day 3 – Casting the Will of Orcus – medium size animals

At dawn, 24 seconds of fatigue (4 rounds); small children, medium size animals like dogs, deer, wolves, and giant rats (ROUs) are effected by the wave (some make their saves; most don’t).

On a Perception 12, spot a dead cat. Once they start looking and asking around, dogs, wolves, giant rats, and small children were affected when the wave hit. (A small percent made their saves.)

The radius effect continues to grow, centered around Kazel’s location. The area of dead extends outside of the city wall a ways, extending further out than the day before.

Third plague wave!

At dawn, those awake feel a moment of fatigue (*Life Drain) that lasts for 24 seconds (4 rounds). Everyone saves vs the Life Drain, awake or asleep.

*Life Drain [Day 3]: CON save 8

-2 to Max HP each round (4 rounds) 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 puppies aren’t much fun

For those who don’t get the reference, listen to the song here on Youtube

People of Berlsturm react poorly to 3rd plague wave and the death of their children and pets…

Mobs

Scared, irrational packs of Berlstrum citizens roam through the town. Houses and business have been set on fire. Some on purpose by those hoping to stop the plague. If they see someone they recognize as a Protector, they will likely become demanding and/or violent.

A Swarming Mob of Angry Villagers

AC 10
The Mob consists of 50 individuals; each successful hit on the mob removes one person from the mob


Movement

Speed Normal 20; Frenzied 40

Surround: The mob will attempt to surround the target(s) of their ire. To avoid being engulfed by the mob, make a DC 15 DEX saving throw. On a successful save, target avoids being surrounded. The mob gains no swarming benefits.  If mob succeeds in surrounding a target, they have advantage on attack rolls against their target(s) and +4 to hit. There must be at least 3 villagers in order to surround a target. Divide the total number of remaining mob with the number of opponents. If there were 27 members of the mob still active, the most targets they can attack is 9.


Action

MultiAttack. The full mob of 50 makes 4 attacks on each enemy within range, +1 to hit unless they have successfully surrounded a target, then +4 to hit with advantage.  Each successful hit from the swarm does 1 HP subdual damage. If the mob makes all 4 attacks in the round, their damage is doubled. If the mob is brought below half its numbers, it only makes 2 attacks.

The mob can split up to attack multiple targets (at least 3 villagers per victim, but will try to herd everyone to the same spot.

Herd. If the mob successfully surrounds a target, the mob can force an opponent up to half the mob’s movement in any direction as a bonus action. STR save 15 to resist being push.

(Subdual) Knocking a Creature Out – Player’s Handbook, page 198,

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

The mob flows like water. Image that the swarm takes up 50 squares on a battle map. The mob can move through each other’s space to gain the best spot to surround and attack all targets. And because there are so many of them, they do not provoke attacks of opportunities when leaving a threatened square, unless the whole mob is frightened away.

  • 1-10 people subdued = 25% chance of the mob becoming frightened, causing the mob to breaking up and become individuals fleeing
  • 11-20 people subdued = 50% chance of the mob becoming frightened
  • 21-30 people subdued = 80% chance of the mob becoming frightened
  • 31-or more people subdued = 100% chance of the mob becoming frightened

Area effects on the mob, like cone of cold or fireball, will insta-kill the number of villagers equal to the squares the spell affects. Example a 15ft radius = 6 squares on battlemap = 6 dead villagers. (To help, this is an image of common spell shapes.) If an area affect is used on the crowd, they will instantly go into Frenzied Mob state.

Frenzied Mob of Terrified Villagers

If a member of the mob is killed (instead of knocked unconscious), there is a percentage chance that the mob will go into a frenzy. If an area effect takes out a bunch of them at once, they go into a frenzy.

If enough villagers are killed in individual combat, there is a chance that the mob will frenzy.

  • 1-10 villagers in mob killed = 25% chance of frenzy
  • 11-20 villagers in mob killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 villagers in mob killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-or more villagers in mob killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Frenzy Attack: The frenzied mob makes 6 attacks on each target within range. Each successful attack does 2HP damage and is no longer subdual. If all 6 frenzied attacks hit, damage is doubled.  A frenzied mob will keep attacking until each target within range is dead.

One-one-one with someone in the mob

An individual seperated from the mob has 0 bonus to all saves.

Action

Attack.  -1 to hit.  A successful hit does 1 HP subdual damage.

The Mob consists of 50 individuals; each successful hit on the mob removes one person from the mob

A Swarming Mob of Angry Villagers

Speed Normal 25; Frenzied 35

Surround: The mob will attempt to surround the target(s) of their ire. To avoid being engulfed by the mob, make a DC 15 DEX saving throw. On a successful save, target avoids being surrounded. The mob gains no swarming benefits.  If mob succeeds in surrounding a target, they gain a +4 to hit. Target is flat footed (loses DEX bonus on AC). And yes, that is a holdover from 3.5 edition.

Attack: The full mob of 50 makes 6 attacks on each target within range, -1 to hit unless they have successfully surround a target, then +4.  Each successful hit from the swarm does 1 HP subdual damage. If the mob makes 6 successful attacks in the round, their damage is doubled. If the mob is brought to half its numbers, it only makes 3 attacks.

(Subdual) Knocking a Creature Out – Player’s Handbook, page 198,

Sometimes an attacker wants to incapacitate a foe, rather than deal a killing blow. When an attacker reduces a creature to 0 hit points with a melee attack, the attacker can knock the creature out. The attacker can make this choice the instant the damage is dealt. The creature falls unconscious and is stable.

The mob flows like water. Image that the swarm takes up 50 squares on a battle map. The mob can move through each others spaces to gain the best attack spot to surround all targets. And because there are so many of them, they do not provoke attacks of opportunities when leaving a threatened square, unless the whole mob is running away.

  • 1-10 people subdued = 25% chance of becoming frightened, cause the mob to breaking up and individuals to flee
  • 11-20 people killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 people killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-20 people killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Area effects on the mob, like cone of cold or fireball, will kill the number of squares the spell affects. Example a 15ft radius = 6 squares on battlemap = 6 dead villagers. If an area affect is used on the crowd, they will instantly go into Frenzied Mob state. (To help, this is an image of common spell shapes.)

Frenzied Mob of Terrified Villagers

If a member of the mob is killed (instead of knocked unconscious), there is a percentage chance that the mob will go into a frenzy. If an area effect takes out a bunch of them at once, they go into a frenzy.

  • 1-10 people killed = 25% chance of frenzy
  • 11-20 people killed = 50% chance of frenzy
  • 21-30 people killed = 80% chance of frenzy
  • 31-20 people killed = 100% chance of frenzy

Frenzy Attack: Each successful attack does 2HP damage and is no longer subdual. If all 6 frenzied attacks hit, they still do double damage.  A frenzied will mob keep attacking until each target within range is dead.

Activities at Specific Locations During the Rioting

Town Hall

The mayor and several of the council are barricaded inside the town hall building (#82). Outside hundreds of people are yelling and throwing rocks at the building, angry that the town leaders closed the gates, trapping them all inside and demanding that gates be opened to escape this cursed town.

Inside Town Hall is:

  • Mayor Cobblekeep (Halfling)
  • Tomo* (1/2 Elf Druid, Aphodel’s mentor) has been wounded, but is currently stable.
  • Hammond* (Human, Farmer)
  • Mostrad (Human, Katrine Cafe #52)

Other Council members

Wabae (Human, Cleric Acolyte, runs Medical Aid) is at Sure Luke’s Pub with her nephew Serifo. Her sister Mamet is dead after her boarding house was set on fire by the angry mob. She went back in to save a tenant. Wabae was unable to heal her burns.  Wabae is doing what she can for the wounded holing up in Sure Luke’s.

Agosta Amagoste (Dragonborn)* and Xendric (dwarf) are helping to guard the library from looters.

R’dsché is at his church (#37), trying to keep the people seeking sanctuary calm and safe.

Grant Tan (1/2 Orc ) had his Survival Gear store overrun by frantic citizens. A fight broke out. While trying to break it up, he was stabbed to death.

*It is assumed that Amagoste, Hammond, and Tomo were successfully escorted back to the city by the party (#12 – Going to the Farm)

City Gates

The gates won’t open. Someone sabotaged the mechanisms! (In one game, a player ran a warlock with a fiend pact. The fiend was, of course, tied to Orcus. The warlock was given a solo mission to secretly sabotaging the city gates.)

Individuals are being crushed against the gate by the mob trying to get out. Some are trying to break down the gates, but so far have had no luck.

Churches

A large percentage of the population have gone to the churches (#6, #7, #8, #37) for protection and divine aid. All of the churches are packed to the max and have been forced to bar their doors from anymore coming in.

Council member R’dsché (Elf, Cleric) is at church #37 trying to keep the people there calm.

Docks/Harbor

Others in the town have tried to leave by the sea. The warf has only one ship remaining, which is completely engulfed in flames. Many ships have crashed upon the rocks in the harbor without a proper harbor guide. The harbor is full of wreckage and floating bodies. All the blood and fresh meat has attracted large water predators. Not to mention getting the Sea Hag’s sharks all excited.

The City Wall

Some citizens are trying to climb over the wall with their possessions on their backs. Not everyone makes the climb successfully.

Dragon’s Rest Inn

Somone started a rumor that the plague was coming from a rich visitor staying at the Dragon’s Rest Inn (#45). A mob stormed over there with torches, set the place on fire, and killed any who tried to escape the building. Some of the inn’s guest tried leaving by climbing down the cliff side, only to plummet to their deaths.

The mob has been roaming the city, setting fire to buildings they suspect might have plague barers.

Library of Esoteria

Many of the casters and scholarly types have set up a perimeter around the Library of Esoteria (#44), defending the building and its precious contents from crazed mobs and looters.

The council members Agosta Amagoste and Xendric are helping to guard the library from looters.

Champions’ Manor

A large group of people (~300) are gathered throughout the lower level of the champions’ manor (#122), waiting anxiously for the champions to return – in the dining hall, the gallery, the meeting hall, hallways, kitchen.

There’s an argument going on between 2 groups at the base of the stairs in the back. One arguing to search the upstairs area for something to protect themselves with and the other arguing that it would be disrespectful to invade the Champions’ private quarters.

Some people have heard that their is a secret door in the Champions’ manor and break into the building searching for the way out. Will the group help them leave Berlstrum via the secret door(s)? At some point, the scared citizens will find the back door leading into the forest. The hinges have been twisted, making it impossible to completely close.

Some of those fleeing carry wrapped bundles which you suspect are dead children or pets.

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