Archive for the ‘ Weekly Encounters ’ Category

Timeless

So it’s been just over a year since I started this website. In that time I’ve put up over 44 unique encounters, all with stories, maps, new monsters, combat hooks, and, hopefully, some cool ideas to inspire your game. Not exactly the 1 per week quota I was aiming for, but close enough I suppose.

I’ve thought several times about abandoning the site, since the traffic is nothing impressive and I wasn’t sure people were finding any use from the content here. This was originally supposed to be a year-long experiment, and I have other projects to take up my time. That being said, I’m going to try and keep it going and add to the encounters and class designs. I have plans to start an epic, long campaign in the next few months, so it’s possible that the content might follow a larger story – with a new addition each week or so – level by level. I’ve yet to decide exactly what to do. Until then, I’ll do my best to update regularly.

Now, on with it!

Timeless is a short adventure designed for five 6th to 8th-level players. The Tower of Temporus is under attack from within by a chronomancer’s rogue apprentice, Huductis. The players must enter the tower and put an end to the chronomancer’s plans, traveling through time as the fight progresses.

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Time has always been the one immutable stricture of the world; the one truth on which all others gain purchase. Even the sun must obey the power of time, rising and falling with rigid consistency; indeed, nothing escapes the grasp of passing days, months, or years. However, some disagree. The brave few, familiar with dire need and urgency, know better than to trust the rules of the world, and declare–with absolute certainty–that time is instead a fickle beast, pandering to chaos and unrest. When most desired, it evaporates into nothing–gone in an instant–leaving behind regrets and missed opportunities. If willed to pass, it mocks with a cruel ubiquity; time slows its pace to a near halt. Some speak of relativity, of an unchanging phenomenon experienced by stressed minds­, but others know better than to accept such a simple explanation for lost moments and lost lives.

Exploring these mysteries of time is an order of chronomancers called the Ageless. Such mages are found within the Tower of Temporus, a magic structure that is able to contain the temporal anomalies within its impossibly ancient walls. Here, the Ageless bend the rules of time and space to peer into the future and, sometimes, attempt to correct the past. Such acts can have disastrous consequences; a conservative mind and steady will are irreplaceable for time mages looking to breach and transcend beyond the invisible limits of the universe; a seemingly meaningless mistake can ripple throughout history in less than an instant. Because of this, those wishing to learn the secrets of chronomancy must under the most rigorous tests and trials­—if even one malicious apprentice gained knowledge of the order’s magic, kingdoms would fall and lives would cease to ever exist.

Though they do their best to defend against evil intentions, any member of the order would say that time is, at its heart, a wait for the inevitabilities of life. As if to prove their point, an apprentice of the order­—a particularly powerful and ambitious chronomancer named Huductis—suddenly unleashed a serious of attacks on the other mages in an attempt to seize control of the tower. Though suffering heavy losses, the Ageless was able to eventually fight off Huductis and, sealing the young chronomancer in a temporal prison deep within the tower. But Huductis, not to be forgotten, retained control of many of the order’s most powerful artifacts and been growing in power; he has begun breaking down the chronomancers’ spells, threatening to tear the tower and the Ageless apart with his escape. It appears, ironically, that it is only a matter of time before Huductis is released, and there’s no telling where­—or when—he will unleash his wrath.


The Loremaster’s Curse

This week’s adventure is a tribute to Matt James and his website, loremaster.org. Matt regularly creates new and interesting D&D content for DMs and players alike, and his website name inspired an easy encounter based on his exploits. Visit his site and contribute to the forums, or follow him on twitter.

The Loremaster’s Curse is a standalone encounter designed for five 12th to 14th-level adventurers. The soul of an ancient dragon has cursed a scholar, forcing him to release monsters contained within the books of a long lost library. The players must fight back several waves of legendary creatures before taking on the dragon in an attempt to release the loremaster from the library’s grasp.

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The winding canyons of Jemas hold many secrets, but even more dangers. Built long before history could remember, the canyon walls give way to intricate sculptures and ornately-crafted temples, carved into the canyons and leading deep into the surrounding mountains. Those brave—or foolish—enough to enter these ancient buildings will tread through the tunnels and hallways left by a forgotten culture; there are few answers as to why the temples are now vacant, or why they were ever there at all. Each room holds antiquities, history, and treasure for the taking, though local tribes warn against such thievery—those who do remove items often disappear without a trace.

Many scholars are drawn to the temple to learn from its history and artifacts, hoping to gain more knowledge and understanding of the past. One such visitor is a scholar known as Mathas, a prominent mind in the world of ancient lore and history. Using his keen mind and experience, it wasn’t long before Mathas discovered a secret chamber within the canyons—an expansive library known as the Halls of Knowledge. Within these annals are seemingly endless scrolls of history, chronicles of ancient battles, and archives about Jemas, years ago, under the rule of a cruel group of dragonkin known as the Pantheon of Urlux.

Entranced by his magnificent find, Mathas began to digest the knowledge within the books and scrolls, eventually stumbling upon an ancient book adorned with draconic emblems. The book, somehow free of dust and the decay of time, seemed to speak to Mathas, intimately guiding him through the history of Jemas and the Pantheon of Urlux and leading the unsuspecting loremaster through a series of magical phrases and rituals that released a soul fragment of one of the pantheon’s malicious leaders—General Xaldraxis.

Freed from the book, Xaldraxis possessed the body of Mathas, using his magical prowess and knowledge to release the legendary monsters contained within the pages of the library. Now, beset upon by the mythical creatures of the cursed loremaster, the people of Jemas look to others for help. Each day, Mathas discovers more powerful entities within the annals; the canyons won’t be able to hold them back for long. It’s only a matter of time before the future of Jemas becomes lost to its own history.


The Golden Hand

This week’s post is a 3-encounter adventure based on the first post I made here back in January. I’m a little embarrassed by the writing/mechanics/damage errors I made before, so I had been planning to update this one for a while. Enjoy!

The Golden Hand is a short adventure designed for five 9th to 11th-level adventurers. The city of Macetol is a paragon of peace, a shining example of justice and order. But beneath its golden streets lies a terrible secret; a violent past that threatens to reclaim power and return the city to tyranny.

The players will descend below the city to stop the ghosts of an order of fanatical knights, fighting off restless souls, a cabal of conspiring clerics, and finally the spirits of the knights and their zealous leader.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

Led by a dedicated order of paladins following the will of Bahamut, the city of Macetol is a paragon of peace, justice, and order in a world rife with chaos. But things were not always so calm inside the golden walls. Long ago, during a period of civil unrest, a paladin named Arturius was given absolute power to deal with the rampant crime and corruption.

Calling themselves the Order of the Golden Hand, Arturius and his council of knights decreed a state of martial law upon the city, believing the only way to bring back peace and order was through controlling the population and destroying those that opposed their rule. Serving a perverted sense of order, Arturius and his knights ruled from an ornately decorated table, perfectly round­—indicating that all men are equally accountable to the laws of Macetol.

The Order of the Golden Hand ruled the city without tolerance; those accused of dissent and sedition were executed, and the smallest crimes given excessive sentencing without a trial. After years of oppression, the denizens of the city fought back against Arturius and his council, subduing them. As a punishment for their atrocities, a group of wizards bound their souls to the round table, imprisoning Arturius and his council within. The temple itself was buried, and a new temple of Bahamut built on the remains.

Centuries passed, and the people of Macetol began to create a fiction in order to forget their darkest hour—a virtuous story of Arturius and his noble order, who defended the city during its golden age and now rest in a sacred chamber beneath their beloved temple. There are few left who know the truth of Arturius, and they dare not mar the memory of the city’s greatest hero.

But now, the past threatens to return. After a devastating earthquake, the entrance to the temple below was unearthed, the table broken, and the knights released. Those brave enough to investigate have been lost, and those above speak of a dark presence—whispers heralding the city’s return to true order.


By Skin & Teeth

By Skin & Teeth is a standalone encounter designed for five 4th to 6th-level adventurers. A horrible curse has returned, transforming the residents of Remulos into monstrous werewolves. The players must fight off the monsters and bring an end to the horror, while trying to resist the curse’s power.

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The town of Remulos has a dark past. A century ago, as legend tells it, a strange disease crept over the city’s residents, triggered by moonlight and transforming many people into fearsome monsters. These abominations slaughtered most of the population, flaying the skin from their victims and devouring the rest. The townsfolk fought back and killed all of the monsters, burning the bodies and dumping the remains into a nearby chasm, condemning the monsters, and the memory of them, to the depths of the abyss.

Ever since, the ancient mine shafts leading to the abyss have released a ghostly wind, howling incessantly as it swirls through the tunnels below. There are few alive who believe the story, though even the skeptics were unwilling to enter the howling mines of Remulos, and, when the moon is full, the streets are empty—doors locked and windows bolted.

Now, a hundred years after the events supposedly transpired, strange things have started happening. Bodies have been found, partially-eaten, the skin removed. People have become ill, often disappearing within days of the sickness. Rumors of monsters­—giant wolf-like creatures—prowling in the forest surrounding Remulos, have been spreading throughout the houses of the terrified townsfolk—rumors that are all too familiar. And a full moon shines so very bright.


Cragos the Godslayer

Cragos the Godslayer is a standalone encounter designed for five 10th to 12th-level adventurers. The people of Coltaris are under attack by an elder dragon named Colytariaz, who has sent her champion, Cragos the Godslayer, to disable the city’s magical defenses. The players must fight off Cragos and reset the city’s shield in a multi-phase solo encounter.

Download: PDF | PDF (nomap)

The city of Coltaris is a mysterious place. Resting between snowy mountain peaks and serving as home to a seclusive culture of elves, the city has a reputation for a strange and pervasive form of lightning magic. Present throughout the whole city as a low, crackling hum and faint, blue glow, this lightning magic serves as a power source for lights, carriages, heaters, and many other everyday devices; there are few homes or shops not powered by this magical essence; it has been the standard for living in Coltaris for over a century, and most of the residents have little or no idea as to the source of its power­­—which may be for the best.

Buried deep below the city of Coltaris, an elder blue dragon of the same name lies dormant, suspended in stasis and held hostage by the city’s residents. Weak and near death, the dragon Coltaris had returned to its cave to finish out its last few hours, when a group of elves, searching for some relief from a passing blizzard, stumbled upon the dying dragon and panicked. Long familiar with magic, the elves managed to subdue Coltaris in his frail state, harnessing the dragon’s essence and discovering its power. Now, held in place by advanced rituals and magical runes, the dragon is helpless, its essence ever-so-slowly being drained to power the city above through the residents’ twisted lightning magic.

However, their actions did not go unnoticed. A younger dragon of the same bloodline, Colytariaz, has learned the fate of Coltaris and come to end the perversion of her clan. Showering the city with relentless attacks, halting only long enough to gather more minions and regain her strength, Colytariaz refuses to end her assault on the people of Coltaris until the elder dragon is released. To stop her attacks, the sorcerers of Coltaris have erected an enormous dome of magical energy, attuned from the essence of the elder dragon Coltaris and capable of affecting any dragons of the same bloodline. This magical field covers the entire city, repelling the attacks and magic of Colytariaz and preventing her from entering the city and massacring the people inside.

Determined to breach the city’s perimeter, Colytariaz has summoned the help of a notorious mercenary, Cragos the Godslayer, a bluespawn dragonkin with a love for causing havoc and pain. Promising Cragos her entire stash of treasure if he can bring down the city’s shield and grant her entry, Colytariaz has marked the people of Coltaris for death—and Cragos shall carry out her wish.


Mind & Iron

I ended up expanding A Life, Deconstructed into a full short adventure of three unique encounters for my own group, so I thought I’d fix it up and share–I’m really happy with how this came out. Also, this is the second 3-encounter adventure in two weeks, which means I’m caught up with my missed weeks. Hooray, self-imposed quotas!

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)

Mind & Iron is a short adventure designed for five 7th to 9th-level adventurers. The rural farming village of Casai was not prepared for Movasi and his Magnificent Mechanicals of Mind and Iron, automated mechanisms that have begun replacing the villagers, one by one. The players will fight off a pride of hungry lions, then follow the clues to Movasi’s shop, where they will fight some of the new mechanicals he has created, then confront Movasi himself, fighting him in the heart of his factory.

I won’t post the story again, since you can find it in another post, but here’s a summary of the adventure’s encounters:

Though they are presented in a particular order, the encounters can vary or be used wherever they might fit within your narrative. There are several hooks provided to move the adventure along, and each encounter includes flavor text to transition into the next area.

Encounter 1: The Plains of Casai
The players stumble upon a small pride of lions that have just killed a young girl; the beasts attack the intruders to defend their prey.

Encounter 2: The Showroom
The players enter Movasi’s shop, and are attacked by an assortment of mechanicals from the artificer’s display area.

Encounter 3: The Assembly Line
The players corner Movasi in the assembly line of his shop, and must defeat him and the mechanicals defending him.

A Life, Deconstructed

This is another one of those encounters with a strange combat hook – I won’t spoil anything here but I’ve been wanting to make this one for a while, and it’s one of my favorites already. :) I’ll be running this as part of a larger adventure this next week for some friends, it’s pretty easy to fit into any campaign as a one-night side trek.

A Life, Deconstructed is a standalone encounter designed for five 9th to 11th-level adventurers. The rural farming village of Casai was not prepared for Movasi and his Magnificent Mechanicals of Mind and Iron, automated mechanisms that have begun replacing the villagers, one by one. The players must confront Movasi and his automatons and rescue the missing farmers before they’re assimilated into Movasi’s stock.

The farming community of Casai is a long way from the modern cities of the world in both distance and mind-set; the lavish comforts of such ivory towers and luxurious markets are of no concern to those living off the land—survival is their only self-indulgence. All alone in the rural wilderness, each day brings a new difficulty that threatens to snatch away the fleeting and precious lives of the vulnerable villagers; packs of wild animals, inclement weather, and disease could deal irreparable damage to a community reliant on every last body to survive. Without enough farmers, ranchers, or guards, the community would starve or fall to predators and be wiped out, making procreation an urgent necessity in Casai; each child works to take over the duties of their family until they have children of their own.

Although life is tough in Casai, the community is at least free from the troubles of the modern world. There are no power struggles or mindless wars; any loss of life would slow down crop and livestock production and cause a famine  that few would survive. But regardless of the dangers, those in Casai serve themselves and no other master—they work their own fields, grow their own food, and spend their nights together in song and dance, free from the greedy and oppressive grasp of kings and their titles. The children are taught this early and often, and even though passing travelers and their stories pique interest in the pleasures found in the outside world, few are willing to leave their families behind, unprotected. After all, there is joy to be found in a simple life.

However, the simple life of Casai has suddenly become a little complicated with the arrival of a mysterious merchant promising the end to all worldly inconvenience. The trader, an eccentric eladrin artificer named Movasi, has come to Casai to set up his unique shop: Movasi’s Magnificent Mechanicals of Mind and Iron, a magical emporium of custom-designed automated machines, capable of everything a human could do—and more. Isolated from guild laws and prying eyes, Movasi has replicated a girl from the village and sent back a magical automaton in her place. Now, his deception in the open, the villagers seek help in finding the girl and bringing justice to Movasi for his crime, and, more importantly, protecting their beloved children—the future of Casai depends on it.

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The Unillustrated Man

Was out of town for a while and missed a couple of weeks, but I’ll have another encounter up this week to make up for it. Still friends?

The Unillustrated Man is a standalone encounter designed for five 6th to 8th-level adventurers. A shaman’s magical tattoos have been washed off by a mysterious storm, coming to life as dangerous spirit animals. The players must venture into the storm and weaken the illustrations until their ink can be extracted and the tattoos restored to their original host.

Storm clouds hang over the lush and verdant valley of Teveld, as they always have. A torrential downpour is visible for miles, dark and heavy rain that obscures everything caught beneath­—though a closer look reveals an oddity; the thatch huts scattered below the rain are dry as bone, and those living in the area have never felt a single drop of water. Sating the curiosity of bewildered visitors, Teveld’s shamanistic elders explain that the valley rests on a fragile point between the living world and the spirit realm; the wall between the planes is stretched thin, letting the spirit realm’s eternal storm break through.

Called the long rain by those familiar with the phenomenon, the storm, clouds, and rain exist on a separate plane—visible to this world but intangible to those in it; the lightning flashes, the thunder rolls, and the rain falls, but the storm’s effects are nothing to the residents but a perpetual and calming presence, a soothing reminder of nature and the spirit realm. Some claim to have felt the rain, others swear they can hear the drops bouncing off stones and dripping from leaves; none of the assertions are validated­ or believed, and the valley goes on with its slow and rural life, its residents and travelers taking advantage of the tranquility to connect with ancient spirits.

Once such traveler was a strange and mysterious man known only as Darsk, a tall and lanky elf with a preference for quiet and solitude. Covering his body, head to toe, are countless tattoos of exquisite detail, inked to represent the spirits called upon by primal shamans­—ghostly bears, lions, and tigers. A closer look reveals the tattoos themselves as more than mere art; the images dance and move in impossible ways, alive beneath the skin. Teveld’s elders have heard of such illustrated men, those capable of channeling spirits through their body with magical tattoos, and it is only natural that Darsk would be drawn to the valley by their tattoos.

However, almost immediately after arriving in the valley, the long rain began to affect Darsk and his illustrations, washing the magical ink off his body. As it collected in puddles on the ground, the glowing ink came to live, twisting into ghostly shapes of the animal spirits they used to represent. Separated from their host and agitated by the incessant rain, these tangible illustrations have turned hostile, terrorizing Teveld’s vulnerable population of elders and travelers. Becoming more powerful each day they stay within the storm and having grown far beyond the match of the valley’s residents, Darsk’s tattoos must be erased before the long rain and its effects manage to wash away the people of Teveld for good.

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A Question of Digestion

A Question of Digestion is a standalone encounter designed for five 7th to 9th-level adventurers. Tanglethorn Forest has been invaded by several hungry bulettes, which are devouring everything in sight and bringing a quick end to the forest’s wildlife. The players must track down the bulettes and put an end to their voracious appetite—all without becoming tonight’s main course.

Spanning countless miles and several countries, Tanglethorn Forest is home to a variety of diverse inhabitants—most of them lethal. The forest’s once inviting paths and groves have been overtaken by corrupt magic and malicious monsters, becoming a breeding ground for all manner of dangerous creatures—carnivorous frogs, drakes, and vicious apes, to name a few. Its dense foliage, fallen trees, and twisting trails provide both protection and a suitable hunting ground for the predators, which have become overabundant. The fragile balance of nature has been upset within Tanglethorn—the monsters are slowly choking the life out of the area, killing the forest and turning the verdant landmark into a grey and brittle wasteland.

Fighting back against the encroachment is a dedicated group of druids, wardens, and treants known as Nature’s Grace. Taking up residence deep within an isolated grove of Tanglethorn, they work to expel the excessive number of monsters from the forest, restoring the balance of nature and bringing life back to the surrounding wilderness. To this end, Nature’s Grace has started experimenting with several magical objects capable of driving off some of the lesser predators—enchanted forcefields, automatons, and controlling some of the sentient plantlife—but the forest’s denizens were not frightened by such things, and refused to flee.

Hoping to prey on the primal fears of the smaller animals, Nature’s Grace created a new magical object called a quakestone—an orb placed in the ground that gives off a subtle, continuous tremor similar to a hunting bulette. At first, the areas around the orbs were quickly vacated, the smaller monsters afraid of what they believed to be a hungry bulette in search of food. Unfortunately, the quakestone was so convincing that it lured several actual bulettes to the forest, and things are worse than ever. The bulettes have been devouring anything and everything in sight, including the quakestones themselves, and are quickly undoing all of the progress made by Nature’s Grace. If something isn’t done soon, Tanglethorn Forest will disappear forever—swallowed whole by its hungry inhabitants.

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Lost in the Darkmagic

This week’s adventure is a tribute to Sarah Darkmagic and her blog. Besides being a great contributor to the D&D community, she’s super nice and is always eager to help out other DMs, often aiming her posts at common problems for those new to the game. She also has the mad coding skills, and has set up a great adventure finder, a guide to WotC’s Monster Builder, and hosts free downloadable delves. Check out her site if you haven’t already, and follow her on twitter.

Her latest delve in a lumber mill was inspiring and seemed a perfect fit for her own adventure, so I hope she (and you) will enjoy it!

Lost in the Darkmagic is a standalone encounter designed for five 8th to 10th-level adventurers. The players must enter an abandoned lumber mill and defeat a weather-controlling sorceress and her entourage of mischievous gnomes.

A community built upon farming, logging, and horticulture, the town of Tyarc has always been reliant on the predictably present weather and sunlight—a perfect balance of rain and shine, ideal for tending crops, trees, and other plantlife. The residents sustain this lifestyle on the edge of Feylight forest, often venturing into its groves for seeds, companion plants, and lumber, doing their best to live in harmony with the creatures and greenery inside. With exports at an all-time high and their prized plants and lumber in such demand, additional craftsman and workers show up every day, hoping to take part in Tyarc’s bright future.

But lately, Tyarc has been seeing darker days. The clouds above the town have turned an unrelenting gray, refusing to pass. Day by day, the clouds become thicker and darker, squeezing any light out of the sky and shrouding the town and the surrounding area with a cold, black shadow. Controlling this unnatural weather is a sorceress known by Ceretha Darkmagic, a troublesome elf who has always been found within the tallest and oldest woods of Feylight forest. Recruiting a chorus of puckish gnomes to assist her magic, Ceretha has begun to choke the life out of Tyarc, letting the cold darkness suffocate their plants, food supply, and way of life.

In response, many of the townsfolk have left the area, unable to make a living and unwilling to confront the powerful sorceress. Others have taken it upon themselves to solve the problem, cutting huge swaths through the forest in their search for Ceretha, but Feylight works against the outsiders, and the forest and the gnomes easily turn back any intruders. Running out of options, the people of Tyarc have begun calling for heroes able to kill the Lady Darkmagic, bringing light to such dark times and letting the sun shine on Tyarc once more—while there are still people left to enjoy it.

Download: PDF | PDF (no map)