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Tag Archives: Monster Design

Sanctum of the Fiend of Possession

This encounter is intended for four 3rd level characters

     Concluding this series of encounters based on my old defunct Neverwinter game is the ultimate boss fight. Since the goal of the dungeon was investigating a cult’s plot to possess citizens with the spirits of evil outsiders, I figured the most fitting final encounter would be with a creature that is eager to possess the PCs. Originally, I paired this fight with a language substitution puzzle that could be uncovered using a series of scattered notes (your favorite “tell the story with journal entries” gimmick, from System/BioShock games). The recovered notes would reveal a key to the puzzle, allowing players to translate a magical glyph system that they would then apply to scribing a summoning circle in order to bind the Devil they were fighting. My notes were incomplete and relied on some specific circumstances so I eschewed them for the sake of this write-up.

     As before, I make references to people, places, and organizations in Neverwinter; swap these out for entities from your own campaign world where necessary.

Story Background

     Understanding the circumstances of this encounter requires a little setup. Any of these plot elements can be reworked or discarded as need be, but for brevity’s sake I’ll transcribe the situation as it was planned in my game. Beneath the House of Knowledge were a series of crypts and archives that housed ancient books, scrolls, records, manuscripts and relics. Alongside these were the bodies of priests and acolytes who served the temple in life – now comfortably resting between stacks of books in death.

     Loremaster Atlavast; the last Oghman priest to have survived the cataclysm makes his home in these crumbling archives, navigating through the sewers beneath the city when he needs to make trips above-ground. Eccentric, jealous, and more than a little snooty, Atlavast kept to himself, seeking only to preserve the knowledge that survived disaster beneath the temple’s crumbling façade. 

     But ever paranoid, Atlavast was quickly made aware of the Ashmadai cult’s infiltration into the refugees living in the temple above. He began a one-man guerrilla campaign against the cultists; using old spells and traps of his own devising to discourage them from exploring the lower levels of the House of Knowledge. He began to research devils and their other fiendish kin in order to better combat his enemy…and this was his undoing.

     In a moment of uncharacteristic boldness he read from a tome in the “Dangerous Books” wing of the archives. Lurking in the pages was a spectral possession devil named Xamzael that was freed from its prison between the covers when Atlavast read from a forbidden passage. The creature immediately possessed the priest but was denied access to the surface due to ancient wards placed on the the door to the archives, trapping it there. 

     Vaguely aware of the Ashmadai thanks to its limited ability to read Atlavast’s thoughts, the devil uses its host to find a means of escaping, and has even constructed a summoning circle to call more of its brethren into the mortal plane to help. Were it to escape, the devil would happily join the Ashmadai forces in conquering the city…with the expectation of becoming Neverwinter’s new infernal king, of course.

Tactics

Much of the flow of this fight is dictated by this devil’s particular qualities, so read its stat-block carefully and get a feel for how it orchestrates the battle. Xamzael will do its best to avoid direct confrontation with the PCs at all costs. It’s first action is to attempt to possess the nearest and hardiest available target; using the host as both weapon and human shield.

The fiend begins combat with a random devil arleady summoned, and Invisibility cast on itself if it is aware of the PCs incursion. Xamzael will prioritize summoning more help when his follwers are killed. He can use the summoning circle even while possessing a foe. 

Summoning Chart


Map


Features of the Area

  Illumination: Between the menacing red glow of the summoning circle and the flickering candles positioned about the room, the chamber is filled with dim light.

  Book Stacks: Each wall (Including those around the square columns in the center of the room) is covered in rickety shelves containing moldy old tomes. Some are ancient and forgotten spellbooks, some merely treatises on the magical arts, still others tertiarily related to the craft of wizards (such as accounts of a city’s “Mage Laws” or ledgers of the names of individuals burned for “witchcraft”).

There are eight and a half foot tall, free-standing bookshelves as well. A Moderate STR (Athletics) check could be used to topple the case over, dealing 1d6 bludgeoning damage and potentially trapping a target if they are not strong enough to remove the fallen shelf.

  Tables and Chairs: Worn out tables and chairs occupy the north side of the room. Once these were used for scholars studying the potentially dangerous tomes around them. Age has worn the furniture down, and the surfaces are caked with cobwebs and dust.

  Summoning Circle: This circle is a weak gateway to the outer planes. Xamzael has been using it to call forth lesser fiends to do his bidding. He need only spend an action to loudly incant in a foul language while adjacent to the circle in order to call forth a random devil (see the chart above). Once the circle has been used it will require an indeterminate time to recharge. 

Roll 1d6: on a 5-6 another devil is poised, ready to pass through into the material plane. This will be apparent to the PCs: the creature’s growls can be heard through the veil between worlds and the glyphs of the summoning circle itself glow with a pulsing red light.

Any spellcaster who expends a 3rd level spell slot and succeeds on a Hard Intelligence (Arcana) roll can disable the circle, closing the portal for good.At your discretion, appropriate spells like Protection From Evil might also close or disrupt the circle as appropriate. 

Monsters

Imp (pg. 26)

Lemure (pg. 27)

Spinagon (pg. 29)

x1 Possession Fiend/Xamzael (See below)

Rewards

Originally, the destruction of Xamzael was required to free Loremaster Atlavast, and the reward for this harrowing battle was acquiring a new ally. The needs of your campaign will dictate an appropriate compensation: the room is filled with scrolls, old spellbooks, and rarities. New spells, a tome sought after as part of a quest, treasure maps, or even some secreted away relic would all be suitable. 

New Monster

                                           


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Commedia of Death

This adventure is intended for five players of 3rd level

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DM cat dares you to eat the magic cheese…

This week’s encounter is modified from one I ran way back in the day – during my first ongoing 4th edition game. That said, I’ve made some significant tweaks to keep it up to speed with the shape of the game today.

The inspiration for this encounter was twofold. Primarily, I wanted to get some use out of a set of the Paizo “Game Mastery” map packs I had picked up that featured an amphitheater. Though I’m a big fan of the Game Mastery line, their Map Packs line sets are very hit-or-miss and sadly “Ruins” is a big miss. The artwork isn’t up to their usual par, and the editing makes it very unclear as to where the delineated squares are in relation to the structures depicted (is that a window? Is it in my square? Does it give me cover? Is this rough terrain? What is going on with this map!) That said, the amphitheater tiles were precise enough, and I had already bought the tiles so – may as well make some use out of them.

My other inspiration was to use the theater location to depict a theatrically related combat encounter. You may recall that my background is in theatre, and that included more that a few theatre history courses. So I hit on the idea of linking the stock characters in Commedia Dell’arte to some of the various monster roles. What you get is a skirmish that’s a bit off the wall, out of the ordinary, and very memorable (And I’m not just blowing smoke! My players have brought this one up several times!)

As a quick note, the Commedia archetypes are sometimes referred to as “masks” (since most of the characters are represented by a mask – the traits of which are universal and recognizable across different theatre troupes.

Encounter Background
Adjust the encounter’s background to fit your setting. For convenience I’ll relay the backstory assumed for the original campaign setting:

Nearly 100 years ago this amphitheater, now in ruins, was a popular destination for talented performers. All were welcome, and often the elite both locally and abroad would sit beside peasants to see all manner of theatrical spectacles. Its reputation eventually drew the attention of a famous female bard named Achio and her on-again-off-again adventuring companion/rival/lover Tolivar, a talented illusionist.

The two of them sought to put on a performance the likes of which had never been seen – from now until the end of time. Seeking obscure knowledge and through much experimentation, they sought to create spectral constructs that could retain an actors performance and repeat their part over and over. With the bards lore and creativity and the wizard’s raw intelligence, they seemed to have succeeded – enchanting several actor’s masks with the ersatz personas.

They dubbed these concoctions of illusion and elemental magic “Figments.” Appearing as ghostly apparitions when they manifested despite being quite physical, the creatures they concocted were more akin to golems more than anything; though their only material substance was the mask which acted as the magic’s focal point. They were capable of discorporating, leaving only the mask behind until showtime, when the shimmering actor would reform in an instant. The creatures seemed to serve their purpose, reciting lines and following prescribed stage blocking; though Tolivar noted with some trepidation that they occasionally displayed a measure of independence – a quality most crafters of constructs would consider a critical error.

The night of their first performance was a hit, up until Act 4. All at once, something in the creatures snapped, and they began to attack the audience. Not wanting to waste all their hard work (and hard spent coin) Achio and Tolivar evacuated and rescued the patrons of the theatre, but chose not to destroy their magical actors. Neither ever succeeded in finding a way to capture or correct the deranged Figments.

To this day the illusive monsters lie dormant, the enchanted masks laying haphazardly on the stones of the abandoned theatre – few brave enough to chance getting near. Local legend says that if a living being takes a seat in the theatre, the creatures manifest and begin the play they set out to perform so many years ago.

None who have stayed until Act 4 ever live to tell about it.

Setup
Ideally, the PCs will walk into the amphitheater. The Figment’s masks are laying haphazardly on the stage section, and an Easy Arcana check would reveal that they are enchanted. When the PCs get within 20 squares of the masks, they corporate, and begin going through the play they were programmed to perform. A Hard Insight check reveals that something is “off” about the spectral actors – they break character staring threateningly into the audience, or silently mouth threats to PCs.

If the PCs make a threatening move, the Figments attack. Otherwise, they break their cover at the beginning of Act 4 and leap into the audience, taking a surprise round to attack any PC who fails a Moderate Insight check.

The content of the play the Figments are performing is at your discretion. It should, however be meaningful. Bits of historical information, cryptic foreshadowing or paralleling of events occurring in the campaign world or hints of future adventure are all marvelous bits of information that can give the scene even more weight.

Tactics
The principal Figments begin this encounter on stage, with the chorus possibly surrounding the top level behind the theatre’s seating or below or to the side of the stage.

Il Capitano seeks to engage the PC’s strongest melee combatant, fleeing to attack any ranged attackers once he is bloodied. The lovers will pick whatever target is most convenient for the both of them to attack in unison. Arlecchino dances throughout the battle striking targets of opportunity, ideally seeking a position with which to gain combat advantage, or else striking and then dancing away using his “Acrobatic” trait. The chorus will simply mob the PCs, doing their best to clog up the battlefield while making room for their own allies to zip in and out of advantageous positions.

Being illusionary creatures, they have no real sense of self preservation, and will fight on until destroyed.

Map
It’s a vexing proposition! I want to encourage you to support Paizo’s GameMastery line as it is typically great – but the “Ruins” Map Pack is absolute crap! My recommendation is to use their sample of the actual tile as a guideline for your own battlemat, and instead invest in one of their awesome Flip-mats

Features of the Area
Marble Wall: The wall behind the stage is blocking terrain
Marble Pillars: Both pillars are blocking terrain
Stairs: These worn, crumbling steps are rough terrain
Seating: Squares that contain rounded benches are easy enough to move through with care, however they slope and dip in places. PCs may not shift into these squares, but can otherwise move normally. Adept at navigating the amphitheater, the Figments have no such troubles.

Monsters
To represent the monsters as “Figments” you’ll need to make some alterations – though this will mostly be a matter of “re-skinning” the creatures. To make each one fit the characteristics of its associated mask a few power swap-outs are detailed in each monster’s entry.

•Each monster becomes a Medium Humanoid Construct (Keyword •Illusion) and gains Resist 5 Fire and Cold damage, Vulnerability 5 Force damage
•Each is capable of discorporeating when there is no audience present. When doing so, the Figment can neither effect nor be effected by the world. They can corporeate or discorporeate At-Will.
•Destroying a Figment’s mask (1HP 12 All Defenses) destroys the Figment itself. This can only be accomplished if the Figment is discorporeated. If a figment drops to 0 HP while corporeated, its mask shatters automatically.

x1 Arlecchino – Gremlin Deceiver (Monster Manual 3 pg. 106) – Arlecchino, or harlequin, is a trickster and acrobat, wearing a dark mask and a colorful patchwork costume
Replace “Sabotaging Presence” with the following traits:

Acrobat: Arlecchino may shift up to three squares before and/or after making a basic attack. Describe this as a series of cartwheels, tumbles, and tricks.
Lazzi of Flashing Blades: As a standard action, Arlecchino grants all non-minion Figments a single standard action that they use immediately. This is an encounter power.

x1 Il Capitano – Elf Noble Guard (Monster Vault pg. 113) – Il Captiano is a boisterous and rude braggart and foreigner. His mask is flesh toned with a big nose and bristly mustache.
Replace “Elven Accuracy” and “Wild Step” with the following:

Bravado: When not bloodied, Il Capitano deals an additional 1d10 damage with melee attacks
Better Part of Valor: When Il Capitano takes damage, as an Immediate Reaction he knocks the attacking creature prone and Capitano is pushed 2 squares.

x2 The Lovers – Dread Marauder (Monster Manual 3 pg. 75) – Always unmasked, the innamorati are the young lovers who play the principal roles in many Commedia plays. They wish to fall in love and be married; a goal that is opposed by master characters like Il Capitano and facilitated (and/or complicated) by comedic servants, Zanni like Arlecchino. They are young, beautiful, and prone to extremes of emotion.
Replace “Eyes of Undeath” and “In the Master’s Defense” with the following:

True Love: A lover gains combat advantage against enemy adjacent to the other lover.
Miserable Without You: When not within 4 squares of the other lover, they are considered Weakened.

x8 Chorus – Human Goon (Monster Vault pg. 170) – Though not a part of Commedia, the tradition of the chorus is both long and varied in theatre, having its roots in greek drama. Fantasy settings tend to have anachronistic elements, so the presence of a chorus in this Commedia play isn’t completely off base. The chorus all wear uniform masks, but each with a different color. Otherwise each wears a bland costume so as not to upstage the actors.

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Combat Encounter, Playtested

 

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Lair of the Cavern Hydra

This encounter is intended for five PCs of 6th level

I like 4th Edition a whole lot (As if that weren’t clear) – but I will be the first to admit it has its problems. And like most obsessive nerds, I get really worked up over minor gripes about the obscure things that I love (activate NERD RAYGE!!!!1111)

For one – I never liked how the first Monster Manual resolved the mechanics of fighting a hydra. Now I get it – monster stats should be simple to read and the monster itself easy to run. But a hydra isn’t some random orc or a member of a pack of sneaky shadow hounds. It’s a big monster that should be a big fight (and they are, indeed, solo monsters). But given that in 4th edition encounter balance, a solo monster fills in for around five other monsters – I’m willing to accept an enhanced degree of complication on the part of my solos. Especially in favor of keeping such an iconic monster in tune with the expectations of the players. I mean, even people who have never heard of D&D can probably tell you how they’d go about slaying a hydra – and it doesn’t stack up with the monster as written.

Monster Design Thoughts
Monster Manual II posits a few new variants on the hydra and these hit much closer to the mark – but were still unsatisfying to me. The chosen mechanic in that case was to give the creature an additional bite attack at incremental levels of hit point damage (to represent the players lopping off a head, and having two grow from the stump). That’s much closer – but by abstracting the iconic decapitation elemental inherent in hydra slaying, it takes away from the player’s ability to make a choice and to act on their specific monster knowledge. Not to mention the fact that there’s no provision to prevent the head from growing back/multiplying, which is the whole gimmick with fighting a hydra anyway!

{pant! pant!} Ok, better now. Now I hate to make a lot of new mechanics and design choices (that’s a lie, I love to doit, but I know it isn’t always the best choice for the game) but I think some other monster design elements have inspired me to whip together a more fitting version of the hydra.

The inspiration for this little monster design experiment (and the credit for this great mechanical resolution to my gripe) comes from Dark Sun Creature Catalog (Take a look at the Silt Horror) and similarly to the kraken featured in the D&D Encounters adventure Lost Crown of Neverwinter by Eric Scott de Bie. Both depict a big monster with multiple dangerous appendages, and that’s really how I picture a hydra fight being executed. Think of any film, video game, or book with a similar fight and that’s how it goes – the heroes being grabbed by tentacles or penned in by snapping heads, attacking those primarily and the body after the immediate danger is gone (or negating the danger by attacking those appendages exclusively). That makes for an exciting, lengthy, and epic combat where the heroes can feel heroic. Ideally.

So though there’s many difference between a kraken and a hydra, I think those rules offer a good answer to the game elements of slaying this particular mythological menace. Treating the heads like tentacles – and stating them up as separate minions grants flexibility. Not to mention the fact that I rather like solo fights where a handful of minions help take some of the pressure off the boss itself (case in point).

Purpose
This one is pretty drag-and-drop. The Cavern Hydra lives in a cave. That cave has some treasure in it. The hydra likes eating adventurers. Couldn’t be simpler.

Map
I’d considered whipping up something elaborate but it isn’t really necessary. The Cavern Hydra would lair in a fairly open space in a cave – likely with a sprinkling of stalagmites or pits. Murky water or muck would be a nice plus. So long as it has room to maneuver the battle should go as intended.

New Monster

Monsters
x1 Cavern Hydra
x5 Cavern Hydra Heads

Tactics
The hydra is pretty straightforward, wading into melee quickly to get in as many attacks as it can as soon as possible. Ideally it should be constantly shifting away to force PCs to provoke opportunity attacks from the Threatening Reach that the main head possesses. Don’t be afraid to use those action points immediately – especially if it has combat advantage.

Rewards
The hydra’s treasure can be whatever you need to suit your campaign, though given that it’s a solo creature, 2 parcels seems a fitting reward.

Handing out experience for this monster fairly might be a little unusual. The hydra’s body is not designed like normal solos because it’s expected to be used in concert with the head minions. As such, only hand out the EXP for the hydra proper. If the combat seemed particularly challenging (ie: if the players had no fire on hand) feel free to grant them an EXP bonus.

This resolves the OTHER problem of “clever” (ie: munchkin) characters attempting to “farm heads” with the expectation of getting more experience for slaying more head minions. Instead all they get is ‘nomed by MORE HEADS! That will teach them for trying to ruin a story-based mechanic with their exploitative math!

Special Considerations
Parties not anticipating a hydra might have a difficult time with this encounter if they lack abilities with the Fire or Acid keywords. You might elect to have them use a torch to ignite a stump. Require an attack roll against Reflex to see if it hits, and if so consider the stump sealed.

The biggest threat to this monster is close burst and blast attacks. The hydra might be highly motivated to go after caster types first.

It should go without saying that while presented as two separate monsters statistically – they are in fact, one creature. They will not function the same if put into a combat devoid of each other (not to mention how weird it is to have a dungeon full of snapping, angry, disembodied snake-beast heads. Actually….hrmmm….)

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A hydra inspired by a kraken…Or how about a kraken that is ALSO A HYDRA! They didn’t see THAT one coming!

 

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Fury of the Legion Dragon

This encounter is intended for 5 PCs of 8th level

Like all kids who watched television ads in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, I was creeped out and intrigued by the commercials for Time-Life’s Mysteries series. Eventually, I found these books at my local library and read the everloving crap out of them. In particular I was in love with he artwork featured at the begging of Mysterious Creatures. The book opened with a spread depicting some classical monsters of mythology: a kraken, the hydra, manticore – and of course a dragon. In a book full of more bizarre monsters, it was easy to page of the entry for the dragon, but what always stuck out in my mind was this weird bit at the end of its description:

The Legion Dragon: What a douche

“…and its teeth, planted in the earth, sprang up overnight as armed men.” (Page 9 – Mysterious Creatures)

Yeah, I had never heard that kind of legend before. So for a while now I’ve had it in mind to play with that idea in creature design for D&D. Like most 4e DMs I’ve found that often solo creatures don’t quite serve to be the epic “boss fights” they are intended to be, but often adding a handful of minions can go a long way to extending a solo’s life and increasing the threat of facing one. So the idea of a solo that can constantly produce minions to support it during a battle really appealed to me. Granted, this business about burying teeth and waiting overnight was a bit impractical, so I’ve taken some liberties with the inspiration for this creature for the sake of practicality. In place of teeth, its the dragons armored body scales which come off and transform into an armed and able fighting force. And thus I give you: The Legion Dragon

Lore
Arcana DC 15:
Little is known of the Legion Dragon. Green of scale and glassy of eye, it is said to breathe fire like some of its kind, and to travel with groups of automaton like creatures made out of a dragonscale material.

Arcana DC 20: The legion dragon is a rare kind of its breed, brought about when Tiamat was fashioning her children at the dawn of the world. She desired a follower who was an army unto itself, capable of spawning loyal servants to lock down the masses of foot soldiers present during the climactic battles of the dawn war. The Legion Dragon was her answer. When a solid scale drops from the Legion Dragon’s hide – either by shedding during its growth or through damage from attack – the scale slips beneath the ground and quickly transforms into a humanoid construct composed of dragonscale. These constructs come armed with shield and sword and sometimes bow, and fight relentlessly for the Legion Dragon without thought of their own safety. Though humanoid in form, these “scalespawn” have no faces.

Arcana DC 25: The scalespawn is not an independent creature but a fragment of the Legion Dragon. They have a supernatural sense of sight and sound and share what they see with the Legion Dragon that spawned them. They have no thoughts or opinions, and are essentially disembodied limbs of the Legion Dragon who has complete control of his spawns. Part of their magical nature is the ability to manipulate their bodies in a way that allows them to “create” weapons out of their own scale bodies. Often these soldiers can switch effortlessly between melee and ranged combat by “morphing” a blade into a bow and a shield into a quiver of sharp arrows.

Encounter Background
Like all dragons, the Legion Dragon is covetous and conniving, collecting a hoard of treasure for its own delight. This Legion Dragon in particular has an ongoing five year racket, where he threatens to destroy a town if a virgin is not delivered to him for sacrifice. He demands the most attractive woman available to be the sacrifice. Usually he waits for a few gallants to attempt her rescue, intent on robbing any would-be heroes of their valuables once they are burned to a crisp.Later, once the villagers have abandoned the girl for dead or worse, the dragon ransoms the girl to slavers, or noblemen looking for some lovely thing to marry.

Usually the dragon rests in its lair – a large underground cavern beneath the bluff. The cavern is accessed through a flooded tunnel on the surface. It is not natural but a carved chamber that was originally the home of a demon of one sort or another, who tended to a cult of followers in far gone days. Both sets of standing stones were erected for the demon: the older set to make sacrifice and pay homage to the monster, the second set as a focus for a ritual to banish it. The Legion Dragon uses the newer stones simply because it intimidates the townsfolk, and because the lingering sense of evil left in the area from long ago unnerves the already startled peasants.

Story Text
Of course they mention it happening all the time in the tales; but since you began adventuring, you have never once heard of a dragon ACTUALLY demanding that a town ransom a virgin girl. But the rich merchant who hired you to rescue his young daughter from the townspeople’s “madness” is taking this very seriously. It seems that every five years a dragon threatens the town with obliteration if they fail to deliver a virgin sacrifice to a ring of standing stones many miles out in the wilderness. But this time the girl picked belonged to a man with money – the man who hired you to slay the dragon and bring her back. Other parties have tried to bring the beast down over the years, though none have been heard from since setting out after the monster.

Approaching the standing stones from the south and west you see mere feet away a second set of stones, much older and cruder in their construction. What their original purpose was is hard to say. Beyond the stones is a high bluff where you can make out the sleeping form of the dragon. Though green scaled, it looks dissimilar to dragons of the usual variety.

Your attention is drawn back to the stone circle by the hoarse sobbing of the girl you were sent to rescue. She is bound by iron chains laying face up on a podium erected atop a low hill amidst the stones. As you approach, two figures step around the northeastern stones. They are bizarre things, in humanoid shape but made out of a scale carapace and devoid of a face. They bear sword and shield and brandish their weapons as the dragon rises up on the rocky bluff above you.

“Took you long enough to get here,” he grumbles, stretching his great leathery wings. “Come to claim the girl then? Well I hope you brought the best equipment money can buy to slay a dragon. I do so have an eye for expensive arms and armor.” The dragon chuckles, and launches forward!

Features

-Evergreens: Standing in one of the trees squares grants partial concealment

-Tree: The trees trunk is blocking terrain that could be used to grant cover. The tree can be climbed with an Athletics DC 12 and once a creature is perched in the branches, it grants partial concealment

-Standing Stones: All of the standing stones are blocking terrain that can be used as cover. It should be noted that they are big enough that creatures cannot move diagonally past them but must “corner around” the same as a wall. The newer stones (Rectangular black top) are 3 squares high (fifteen feet) and inscribed with runes and glyphs. The older stones (Brown stone) are 2 squares high (ten feet) and are carved with foreboding runes and images of demons and humanoids suffering. A Religion DC 15 check reveals these stones were used long ago for the worship of Azmodeus(or a campaign appropriate entity). Grooves in either set of stones aren’t very deep and require an Athletics DC 20 to climb.

If the Legion Dragon perches atop the newer standing stones, he can make reach attacks at creatures on the ground who would be unable to attack from melee in turn (without a reach weapon), however with such precarious footing, he grants combat advantage when doing so.

-Bluff: This steep cliff can be climbed with an Athletics DC 17 check, and due to its steepness, requires 4 squares of movement.

-Pond: This pond is not natural, and in fact, is a flooded passage to the chamber below the bluff that contains the dragon’s hoard as well as the resting place of the long since banished demon. A PC gazing into the water can see stone steps leading down.

An Athletics DC 15 check is required to swim down through the tunnel to the grotto below without incident. If the PC fails the roll they will have to turn back, or else risk an Endurance DC 20 check or lose 1 healing surge due to near suffocation.

-Virgin: Blond, pretty, scantily clad, and helpless, this poor girl is chained to a stone pedestal. She has 20 HP and all her defenses are 11. While chained up she is considered restrained. She will not fight, but will obey the PC’s commands. To unlock her chains requires a Thievery DC 17 check. The hill upon which the pedestal sits is not sufficiently steep to cause movement penalties

Tactics
Being a brute, the Legion Dragon isn’t afraid to wade in and start pounding the heroes. After all, taking damage only lets him add to the number of allies he has on hand. At first he might fly in and hover at a distance of 3 squares, attacking any melee combatants from the safety of the air using his reach. At least two scalespawn soldiers will stay near the dragon if possible to serve as body guards and permit the use of the dragon’s immediate attack. Spare scalespawn will likely chase down any ranged attackers in an attempt to lock them down, seeing as how they are the best threat to a dragon on the wing.

The dragon has no interest in the captive virgin whatsoever – she’s a means to an end, a lure for rich PC’s and desperate or devious men with coin to buy her safety. While it will not go out of its way to harm her, it has no qualms about letting the poor girl cook in its flame breath. After all, once he’s killed the PC’s he has all their gear and coin to pile on his hoard, and the purpose of the girl has been fulfilled.

If your players are wise, they’ll use the standing stones as cover against the dragon’s breath weapon. They are wide enough to completely protect a PC against such an attack, assuming the dragon has no line-of-effect to the PC.

Reward Suggestions
Seeing as how this is a dragon fight, you’d be remiss to forget about the dragon’s hoard. I’m personally a traditionalist, and see this as a good a time as any to give your players three monetary only parcels worth of gold coins. Or, if you want him to be a glutton with flair for the aesthetic, all silver coins (so that his coin pile is bigger. If you’d like a more precise measure of a dragon’s wealth, Forbes has crunched the numbers for you. As such, the dragon’s hoard is in the underground chamber – the sole entrance to which is flooded. The chamber needs no additional mapping lest you aim to make it the site of further challenges or the entrance to a bigger dungeon.

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Some Legion Dragon’s scalespawn take the form of the dragon itself

Special Considerations
— Seeing as how those standing stones are at the perfect height to allow (likely a halfling or gnome) PC to jump onto the dragon’s back, I figured it might speed things along to add some impromptu rules for mounting beasts that would prefer not to be mounted.

A player attempting to leap on the dragon’s back makes an Athletics vs. Dragon’s Reflex Defense roll (This roll must also meet the DC required to make a long jump into one of the dragon’s squares. The PC is considered to be in that same square as the dragon, and as such is subject to burst attacks that target that particular square. Being on the dragon’s back provides combat advantage against the dragon. If the character does not move, they stay atop the dragon.

As a part of any move action the dragon makes, it can attempt an Athletics vs. Reflex Defense roll against the mounted PC (You might elect to let the PC forgo any immediate actions this round to “hold on tight!” and raise their defense by +2). If the dragon succeeds the PC falls to the ground and is prone. While the dragon is on the ground the PC takes no damage, but if this occurs while the dragon is in flight, the PC may have to contend with some falling damage as well. I’d recommend using the rules outlined for falling during a climb, and give the PC one last shot to grab hold of the dragon’s tail before plummeting to the ground.

–PC’s might attempt to avoid the dragon’s fire by diving under the water. It’s not a bad thought, but dragonfire is hot, and will cook the water. Still, some cover is better than none, and you may elect to grant the PC resist 5 fire while submerged in water.

 

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