The D&D 30 Day Challenge: Day 17

Favorite Insect.

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Animals, insects and arachnid. I can’t say I just a lot of them. The arachnid I’ve used so far never had a real impact (maybe that’s just my fault). Animals are also not really the thing you use when you want an epic encounter, so most often the animals that come into play are the ones the druid changes into.

That is why my favorite comes out of the insect category.

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Favorite Animal/Insect/Arachnid

The Ankheg. A gigantic bug that you do not want in your house, or on the road to the next village. Part of my love for the creature comes because I did some good researched on it when I wrote my first encounter compendium post “Ankheg: Dead From Below“.

In my head Ankheg’s are something like tarantulas in our world. They exist and as long they do not jump on you everything is fine.

I also really like the idea that they become smart or get a hive mind. The possibilities to use them are endless and that’s why I love them.

The D&D 30 Day Challenge: Day 16

What does molds, ooze, and lawyers have in common?
They’re all slime.

Not so many to choose from today but in general Oozes are a lot of fun to use. In most of my campaigns they make a few appearances. They can be in a random hallway, drop from the ceiling or maybe inside a pit trap. All great and deadly.

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Favorite Ooze

Sometimes the classics are the best. In the case of oozes that is true. My favorite is the gelatinous cube. I think they are just an awesome invention to mess with dungeoneers and to make traps and rooms interesting.

The fun thin about these cubes is that you don’t see them coming. You can walk through a hallway and suddenly you are stuck in a colorless pudding who tries to eat you.

The best way to use them in later levels is in addition to traps. Or a creature that uses these cubes to guard things.

In a one-shot I once encountered a talking gelatinous cube and that was also a lot of fun!

The D&D 30 Day Challenge: Day 15

Liches are the best undead.

We are halfway the thirty-day challenge now starts a series of favorite type of monsters. Starting with undead is a challenge in itself, there are so many. strong and weak to pick from. I reviewed most of them and in the end I had to pick between 3 monsters. So an honorable mention goes to the Dracolich and Dead Knight.

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Favorite Undead

Living in isolation from the world the all-mighty wizard sits in his tower studying his newly acquired tomb of spells. He has all the time in the world since he can’t die, well unless you find his phylactery. My favorite undead is the Lich.

The Lich is a perfect big bad evil guy you can use as the end boss in your campaign. They are evil and want to gain power. To stay alive they need to sacrifice souls another reason to stop them.

Part of defeating the Lich is finding out what his phylactery is. Without destroying it the Lich will just come back to life. So you can create an interesting quest to find out what the phylactery is and how you can destroy it. After that an epic final battle with the party against the lich and his minions can be the perfect ending of a campaign.

There are a lot of possibilities a Lich can interfere with the parties plans (even from earlier levels) so the possibilities are endless.

Liches are awesome.

The D&D 30 Day Challenge: Day 10

The one time my party almost died to squirrels.

Its April the 1st and it was about time our campaign took a break from the serious story we where running. Apart from changing critical fails to critical successes (and vice versa) on all throws I also had to bring something crazy to the table.

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Craziest In-Game Experience Monster

The party was on the way back to the capital after retrieving a macguffin. As they where sleeping the party’s ranger on guard duty heard something in the distance. Looking at his wooden cup of water he could see the water rippling every few seconds.

Suddenly behind him he heard a tree break and above the treeline a Godzilla sized squirrel  appeared.

The party rushed to attack it. It was a hard fight and when they thought they defeated it, the squirrel exploded into multiple tiny squirrel swarms. The PC’s were almost killed and eaten by squirrels.

In the end tho they all woke up, wiping the sweat of their head they realized it was just a bad dream. Or was it?

Squirrel stat block:

5YFT0tL

 

Ankheg: Dead From Below

Ankhegs, what are they and how to use them.

Imagine being  snapped in half by an ant the size of a cow. That is what you get when you step on a Ankheg’s burrow. – The Gnomes Guide To Gardening

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Ankheg from Monster Manuel by Devon Cade-Lee

The Ankheg is an enormous insect who hunts grasslands and forests. Laying an ambush for its prey it attacks from below using its sharp hooks to grapple his opponent. Once it has you in its grasp it secretes acidic digestive enzymes dissolving its victim thus making the remaining body easier to swallow.

It is not unheard of that a farmer uses an Ankheg to help its land stay fertile. Adapt armorers can even make armor from its shell that almost matches the protection of full plate armor. Armor like that is expensive, rich nobles pay as much as 20.000 GP for an Ankheg armor set. Seems a bit much? Well if you provide the shell yourself the craftsmen might give you a nice discount.

Below you’ll find an Ankheg encounter for every tier of play, enjoy.

Low Tier (levels 1-4):

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Ankheg fight by GuzBoroda

Ambush: As the party is travelling through the forest the character walking in front feels his foot sinking into the ground  make a dexterity DC 12 save. On a success he pulls back in time. On a fail he falls prone 5 feet below into a tunnel, in front of you stands a giant insect ready to attack roll for initiative. If the characters don’t fall in the tunnel the Ankheg will attack a few moments later on the DM’s queue. If the characters did not prepare themselves he gets a surprise round.

This encounter can be very deadly for first (and second) level characters. An average bite attack does 12 damage and grapples its foe. For this reason I do not give a surprise round when someone falls into the Ankhegs burrow. If you use it on a higher level group you can punish your players a bit harder.


Mid Tier (levels 5-10):

Mating ground: As the party is travelling through the woods they hear strange noises coming from over the hill in front of them. If the characters just keep on walking they will find themselves interrupting a mating ceremony. Seven male Ankheg are dancing around a female and guess what they don’t like to be interrupted. If they come within 60 feet the party is spotted and they attack. If they stay further away let them make a stealth check.

This encounter can be completely be avoided by going around the mating ground. Be aware 8 enemies can be overwhelming for some parties but you can always increase their numbers to make it more challenging. 

If you are running a realistic campaign this encounter can only happen in autumn 

High Tier (levels 11-16):

IT’S IN THE BASEMENT: During the night the building (inn/farm) the party is sleeping in partially sinks into a tunnel. The owner knew of the Ankheg but kept him there to fertilize his grounds. What the owner did not know is that Ankheg can brood up to 12 young a year. The lower floor of the building is infested with the mother and its young. If some guests or patrons were sleeping they are in danger!

If you use this encounter remember that they probably don’t wear their armor at night. Three Ankheg per PC should be a big enough challenge.

If you want to make it a bit easier for the PC’s you can let the pass a farm on the road where this attack has just started.

Epic Tier (levels 17-20):

Hive Mind: For a few weeks there has been no news from the towns to the south. Scouts send there have not returned so someone hires/ask’s the PC’s to investigated (or maybe they know a NPC in one of the towns).

Upon arrival in the town they find it totally abandoned. Investigation leads to believe all the villagers were taken. Tracks can be found leading into the forest (or any other place that fits your world). When they follow the tracks they might encounter a small group of Ankheg. The end of the trail brings them tho a giant pile of dirt. An ant hill for Ankheg.

Ankheg Lair

The colony is filled with Ankheg, since the queen lays about 10 eggs a day which hatch after only 1 week its population grows at an immense speed. The queen uses her children to protect her, once a week she can lay a special egg to hatch a royal guard. Currently there are 3 royal guards in the lair, at least one of them stays at the queens side at all times.

 

At epic tier the PC’s should not just have small encounters so here I present a way you could do it. If they do not solve this problem the colony will only expand. The queen might hatch a king who can create more queens in his turn and so on.

In the lair make sure the trow a lot of Ankheg at the PC’s but not all at the same time. It should be a battle from the way in until they kill the queen. Once she is dead most of the surviving Ankheg will flee or just go into a deep rage.

I hope you enjoyed my first encounter compendium post, please let me know what you think and where I could improve.

Cheers!
Sources:

Ecology of the Ankheg

Ankheg – Forgotten Realms Wikia

Ankheg – Wikipedia

Monster Manual p 21 Ankheg