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Underdark Encounter: Bloodtainted Marauders

Fungi CaveIn my last blog, Monster Theme: Bloodtainted, I discussed working on some possible encounters for a new Underdark mini-campaign I was preparing for one of my D&D 4E groups.  I had created a Monster Theme, similar to the ones provided in Dungeon Master’s Guide 2, for a band of monsters called the Bloodtainted or the Tribes of Torog.  These monsters were “called” from their own kind to join together in a shared madness left in the Underdark by The King That Crawls.  And despite being of different races, they are bonded as kindred spirits and shunned by their “normal” monster clans and civilizations, due to their murderous and depraved natures.

This is an encounter I had been hammering out this past weekend, and for any members of my gaming groups reading this far, I would hope that you would have the good sense to stop.  To say this would be a potential spoiler is somewhat of an understatement.

Marauders at the Underford

Encounter Level 8 (1750 XP)

  • Quaggoth Berserker (Level 9 Brute)
  • Troglodyte Impaler (Level 7 Artillery)
  • Drow Adventurer (Level 8 Skirmisher)
  • Duergar Scout (Level 8 Lurker)
  • Human Mercenary Wizard (Level 8 Artillery)

Setup

Setting: The ambush occurs while the adventurers are traversing a long cavern, passing across the cave from end to end.  There are several patches of giant mushrooms (9-12 squares in size) around the edges of the room.    Bisecting the cavern is a fast moving underground river which the heroes must cross to continue their journey.

When the Characters view this cavern, read: The sound of rushing water echoes vibrantly about this damp cavern, and copses of giant mushrooms line its edges, shedding a pale light.  A river of dark water rushes across the center of the cavern, surging in one side of the cavern and out the other through a series of cracks and fissures in the rock walls.  But what appears to be a ford of broken stalagmites can be seen in the middle of the river which might be a means to cross the torrent, and continue deeper into the labyrinth of tunnels.

Features of the Area

Illumination: the giant mushroom patches glow with a dim light that extends two squares from the edge of the patches.

Mushroom Patches:  These giant mushroom patches are like small groves of trees, and considered difficult terrain.  They provide cover to any creature inside them, and superior cover if more than 2 squares of the mushroom patch are between the attacker and target. The Tribe of Torog marauders use these for cover until the adventurers are crossing the torrent.

Underground Torrent: An underground stream (2 to 3 squares across) flows through the center of the cave.  The dark water is moving quite fast and is up to four feet deep in places.  There is a single ford of worn stalagmites roughly in the center of the river which can be used to hop across the stream.  Using the ford requires a DC 14 Acrobatics check under combat conditions, or the Character falls in the stream.

  • Moving through a stream square is considered difficult terrain.
  • Any creature falling into or moving through a stream square must succeed at a DC 8 (Easy) Athletics Check to avoid being swept away by the current.
  • Any creature caught in the current is considered immobilized, and slides two squares at the end of their turn in the direction the stream is flowing through the cavern.  They remain immobilized until they succeed at a DC 14 (Moderate) Athletics check to regain control and fight the current.
  • If a Character reaches the cavern wall where the stream exits, they take 10 damage.  They will also take 5 ongoing damage from being battered against the cave wall until they escape immobilization and move out of the stream.
  • Another Character can toss the trapped Character a rope (minor action), and pull them out of the stream with a DC 14 Athletics check – in essence, making the check for the immobilized Character – as a standard action.

Additional Terrain: Slimy patches of ooze, broken stalactite debris, and other rubble can be added as desired to create more areas of difficult terrain.

Monster Stat Blocks (Click the stat block to display it on its own page.)

bloodtainted quaggoth bloodtainted trog impaler
bloodtainted drow bloodtainted duergar bloodtainted wizard

Tactics
The quaggoth, wizard, and troglodyte are hidden in mushroom patches on the side of the river from which the Characters entered, while the drow and duergar wait on the far side using either debris of mushroom patches to maintain stealth.  The ambushers will wait until the party is evenly split across the river, with two on one side and two on the other, and one member in mid-crossing.  The quaggoth will attempt a bull rush to try and push a hero into the torrent as an opener, if possible, while the trog and wizard snipe from cover.  Once the attention of the adventurers is on their rear-guard, the duergar and drow will wade in and assault anyone on their side of the river, using stealth to maximize damage.

Any feedback or recommendations regarding this encounter would be greatly appreciated!

So until next blog… I wish you Happy Gaming!

Images provided by Underdark Sourcebook and Adventure Tools (Monster Builder) by Wizards of the Coast


About The Author

Editor-in-Chief
Michael is an Adept of a Secret Order of Dungeon Masters, and dwells in a hidden realm with his two evil cat-familiars, deep within the Vale of Wolverines, called by some "Michigan". He has been esoterically conjuring D&D Campaigns for nearly a Third of a Century, and has been known to cast ritual blogs concerning Dungeons & Dragons every few days with some regularity. Michael has freelanced for Wizards of the Coast, and writes reviews of D&D and other Role-Playing Game products on EN World News.

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