Game Master Ramble 2 – Soooo blue

ancient ruins

Sunday Group, Blue Dragons, and Rope climbing

I run 2 games, the newer group on Saturdays and the other group that’s been going for a while. The longer running group ran through the Champion’s Lost story arch has since moved onto bigger things… like setting a blue dragon loose on the city of Obsidian, though not completely on purpose. They did intend to stop it before it got loose.

Deadly encounter

What amazed me about that group during the last gaming session, is the deadliest part of the encounter with the blue dragon was not the blue dragon (that they named Azure). Nope. It was the 300 foot climb up and down a rope that almost caused a TPK (total party kill). Three of the five party members now have a fear of heights. Twenty 6-sided dice is a lot of damage to roll for a 200 foot fall. I am amazed that the dwarf fighter, Barbang, survived that fall by mere single digit hit points. Sturdy buggars. Before that the druid, Gozmeer, had fallen 100 feet. She was in the negative hit points, but not at the dead-dead level of taking more damage her maximum hit points.

Let me back up a moment and tell you how they got there.

The much longer story 

The Party consists of :

  1. Annabelle, Level 7 Cleric
  2. Kethra, Level 7 Sorcerer
  3. Aphodel, Level 6 Ranger/Level 1 Bard
  4. Barbang, Level 7 Fighter
  5. Gozmeer, Level 6 Druid (NPC)

… the quest

The party has been in the city of Obsidian, prepping for a rescue mission and a potential big boss battle. So they go shopping, hoping to find better protection and deadlier weapons. They find a vendor willing to take some cursed items off their hands at Berrtle’s Bloody Blade. The fighter of the group, Barbang, has bupkis magically speaking for his weapons. When they inquire as to what Berrtle’s Bloody Blade has for sale, he offers to forge Barbang a set of magical weapons if they can retrieve a rock from beneath the mines of Obsidian. (See Berrtle’s Bloody Blade quest in the Town of Obsidian post.)

The group disguises themselves in rags purchased from a family in the poorer end of town and sneaks into the mine warehouse entrance with other workers at a shift change. Once down in the mines, they follow the crudely drawn map provided to them by Berrtle. They only get lost a few times before making it to the end of the first section of map. (D) Dead end. No rock. They discover the hidden pressure plates on the four corners of the circular space. By pushing rusty plates at the same time, they are able to trigger the large aperture in the floor to open.

rough sketch of path through mines to Berttle's rock
Roughly sketched path to Berttle’s terrunium boulder through the diamond mines below Obsidian (Player Version). While the path looks flat, they tunnels are constantly slopping off in different up/down angles

Gozmeer drops a torch down the hole. The ground is 300 feet down. They cleverly tie together alternating ropes of climbing with standard rope to reach the ground below. There they find themselves in a huge, cavernous space and locate where the lower mine map continues. They get to a spot on the map with a little squiggle next to it, but no visible continuation of the tunnel. Eventually they spot a small hole in the wall about an inch tall and 1/4″ thick. After trying to poke many items into the hole, someone tries a platinum coin. This causes the hidden door on the side opposite to rotate open. Continuing down cobweb choked tunnels, they are jumped by 4 phase spiders. The 4th spider gets wise after seeing is 3 buddies destroyed and phases the hell out of there.

Reaching the end of the map, they find a collapsed tunnel. Between the mountain dwarf’s stone cunning (Barbang) and the druid (Gozmeer) wild shaping into a giant badger, they are able to dig through the rock and secure a hole for the others to climb through.

Here the space opens up to the ruins of an ancient fire giants’ city. It’s like being a mouse in maze with the high, crumbled walls and the ceiling for above their heads. Crystalized formations sprout from the walls and random tunnels completely composed of crystals erupt from the ground and cave walls. The party marks their path as they wonder through this huge, dead city. They fight off a pack of basilisk that trapped them on a land bridge over lava. Discover a flail snail chomping on the crystals (and wisely leave it unmolested). There they spot an area of “shiny new” crystals which they follow into a blue dragon’s nest, which has a large pile of gems and treasures that include a large boulder with streaks of iridescent metal (the terrunium rock they’re looking for). Through sheer charisma, flattery, bribery, and fast talking, they are able to convince the young adult blue dragon that they have come to worship at its feet. They also tell the dragon, dubbed Azure …

  1. that there is an entire world outside of this cavern for the dragon to explore and find things to play with, like undead armies
  2. that there is a horde of undead heading towards his domain (Spawn of Kyuss in the underdark)
  3. that the person that kept sending adventurers to steal from the dragon’s horde lived in the city above

They head back to the mines with the dragon burrowing a direct route to the collapsed tunnel entrance. They use 5 flying potions to get back up that 300-foot hole. Once back in the main mining tunnels, they have second thoughts about letting a blue dragon loose on world above. They coordinate a surprise attack and do an impressive amount of damage before Azure can react. The dragon fries them with his lightning breath before collapsing the tunnel around them.

It takes them a while to dig out, and by the time they do the dragon has an hour head start on them. Nearing the surface, they find destruction and dead minors marking the dragons passage. Aiding the survivors slows them down more. By the time they emerge in the town, much of it has been destroyed … especially the area around Berrtle’s (that the group had earlier described to the dragon). The dragon is nowhere to be seen. The adventurers help with triage before finding their way back to the Dizzy Dragon Inn and getting a long rest.

So where’s the TPK, you ask?

The day after the dragon runs amuck

The party awakes the next day with dreams of an unguarded dragon horde dancing in their heads. They return to the mines and are recognized as people who had helped with the wounded earlier, and are allowed through without question. They get back to the hole that drops 300 feet down.

Going down

Climbing down, Gozmeer fails on the 2nd climb check (DC 10) and takes 69 points of damage from the fall, not quite dead-dead but bleeding out.

Gozmeer is an NPC that helps the party with healing mostly. My hope being that by having a healer there, Annabelle the cleric would not feel pressured to heal. I forget that Gozmeer can shape change into animals that would be helpful in various circumstances, like climbing and burrowing. Because she’s an NPC, I try not to use her for more than the other players request of her. I don’t want to be one of those game masters.

They manage to stabilize Gozmeer before she’s a complete goner. Following such a traumatic fall, Gozmeer fails to make her wisdom save versus fear (DC 10) and now has disadvantage on climbing.

They get to the lower mine entrance only to discover it collapsed. Sending in the giant badger (Gozmeer) to see how far it goes, they discover that the entire lower tunnel structure  there has been collapsed. They aren’t able to return to the blue dragon’s horde of treasure. He had already collapsed the tunnels and moved it away by the time the group returned.

And back up

The frustrated party returns to the rope up to the main mine. Gozmeer refuses to go near the rope (having failed at that fear of height save). Kethra eventually convinces her to transform into a rat and hide her pockets. Kethra and Annabelle take the last 2 flying potions to reach the ledge above. Aphodel makes the climb, no problem. Barbang makes it up to 200 feet before slipping. He makes his dexterity save to catch himself and tries climbing that last 100 feet again. He rolls a a 1. He falls 200 feet and takes 75 points of damage. He’s not insta-dead by only a couple of points, but bleeding out. With only a few seconds remaining from the flying potion, the cleric flies down to heal the damaged climber.

Once healed, Barbang rolls vs fear of heights. (Rolls a 7 total). He ain’t climbing no stinking rope.

Clever Plan 1

Kethra and Aphodel come up with a clever plan to send Gozmeer down the rope (in Ape shape) with the Bigsby’s Fist glove and use that to carry up Barbang and Annabelle. Kethra does a really impressive job of convincing the terrified Gozmeer (persuasion 25) to climb down. Gozmeer starts down the rope but freezes after only couple of feet down. Gozmeer is pulled back up by Aphodel and Kethra.

Clever Plan 2

Kethra then suggests that Gozmeer become a horse and tow the others up. They secure the rope around Barbang and with the horse pulling and Aphodel guiding the rope, they are successful. They send back the rope with a seat looped for Annabelle to ride up in. Using the same method, they pull up Annabelle. Only part of the way up, the rope snags and breaks. Annabelle falls 50 feet and takes 15 HP of damage.

Annabelle rolls versus getting her own fear of falling. Her difficulty is much lower, not having drop as far. She rolls a critical fail (a 1). Enraged at being trapped below, Annabelle shoots 4 fireballs into the open space 150 feet above.

And that’s where we left things … with 3 players afraid of heights, one player stuck in the space below, one blue dragon running amuck, and no dragon horde.

As a game master, you just never know where a game session will take a story. At least I’m often surprised. It’s one of those things that makes running a dungeons & dragons game so much fun. And difficult.

Kromnock Mor’s Intro: Chapter 0

Fizzle’s Diary:  Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8

Chapter 0, Character Intros: Tholin | Kromnock Mor | Fizzle


Featured image was drawn by Mr. Jones for his character concept.

Introduction of Kromnock Mor

Level 1 Dwarf, Barbarin

The following notes are from an exchange of text messages between myself (GM) and Jones (Kromnock Mor) as a pre-game setup.

Chapter 0
1/11/2019

GM: Since killing off your mentor and starting your life as a sell-sword … well … it’s been really boring.

Kromnock Mor: Yeah he just fights, eats, and drinks, and sleeps.

GM: Not much action or challenge. The couple of jobs you have done were uneventful escorts.

Kromnock Mor: It’s really the perfect life if you think about it

GM: Which is why I must mess with it 😀
Anyhoo … you have heard that there is a big fight brewing to the south. And that there is a group called the Keepers of Balance that hire mercs looking for capable fighters.

Kromnock Mor: Aye, but that is a long walk. I’ll meet up with them when they get up north.

GM: Conveniently there happens to be an office in the town of M’ka, where you find yourself.

Kromnock Mor: Got it. Well since I am out of beer money, I might as well go see what they have to offer.

GM: Much of the town has emptied out in the rush to help Berlstrum.
So you’ve definitely waited for the rush to pass.

Kromnock Mor: I’m not very ambitious. I have simple needs, but sometimes living the simple life drags me into complicated situations.

GM: LOL. That’s where you’ll start Saturday.

Kromnock Mor: Until then I will nap.

#20 – Will of Orcus Plague – Dreadstorms Lost

Undead horde attacks 3 mounted knights
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.

#14 – Day 2 of Plague Wave

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.)

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 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


ACTIONS
Bites Melee Weapon Attack: +5 to hit  Hit: 4d6 piercing + Life Drain; 2d6 + Life Drain if only half the swarm remains


SPECIAL

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!