NB: a continuation of Dyson’s Delves Level 1. I travelled on business this week, delaying the write-up.
This little one-shot has started to turn into a fun dungeon crawl campaign. I grabbed the Hurren map from Dyson and started to use it as a backdrop. Also, I used the new Dungeon Master’s Guide to create the Guild’s adventurer handler / liaison. Welgrace, a female halfling, has a distinctive bulbous nose with oozing warts. She relishes the thought of discovery but speaks in an arrogant whisper to the adventurers. This time, she informed them that they’d missed the Crypt of Saint Ulther, so they ventured back into the dungeon.
The party backtracked to the rooms they’d cleared to make sure they didn’t have any new friends. In fact they did, as a pack of Giant Fire Beetles skittered around a guard-room. Because my group has started crafting fire bombs in their down time, I gave the fire beetles resistance to fire damage. After this, they headed down to the second level, bypassing the locked doors with skulls painted on them. After destroying a goblin guard post, they interrogated the survivor to find out the crypt’s location.
Of course, the crypt lay in the section they’d bypassed. So they headed back upstairs and found the sarcophagus of Saint Ulther right away. Since one of the more vocal players has a character with a nautical background, this turned into a lot of fun. I spun the tale of the human priest of the aquatic elf god Deep Sashelas who jumped into the water during a storm and personally towed a boat into port. They found their first magic items here, a gem of brightness and gloves of swimming and climbing. The warlock immediately recognized the gem, although no one knew right away what those gloves would do. They ran into some undead skeleton warriors next. Fire bombs ended up almost causing more trouble than they were worth. The melee types didn’t want to run through the fire to attack the monsters, leaving them vulnerable to the undead archers. After several rounds, they wore them down, though.
In the next room, though, they found another sarcophagus. This time I had rolled up a new monster for them: the armored zombie (PDF), the remains of Sir Dyson who rose from its grave to defend its resting place against the defilers. The fight dragged on for quite some time due to the zombie’s undead fortitude trait:
If damage reduces the zombie to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the zombie drops to 1 hit point instead.
I had it emit a piercing shriek every time it avoided death and restored itself to 1 hit point.
At one point, a paladin had grappled it around the throat and covered its mouth with his other hand. He bashed it into the wall while everyone else continued to hit it, and after quite a few attempts, it failed its saving throw and fell still. I couldn’t believe how long this took, largely because they didn’t know why it Just. Wouldn’t Die.. Drag it out of the sarcophagus? Choke it with the gloves from Saint Ulther? Et cetera.
Rolling up a new monster that the players have never seen created a fun dynamic that everyone enjoyed. Nobody could metagame and figure out its weakness. In reality, I just took the regular zombie, then gave it armor, a weapon, and more HP. I’ll add custom monsters more often for certain!