Sulvan Ambushes

On October 1, 2004, Posted by , In Campaign Workbook, With No Comments

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Woodsmen know that the forest can change in an instant. A balmy day redolent of pine can be swept away by a roaring storm, and a rustling pile of oak leaves can burst open to disgorge a roiling centipede swarm. This entry in the Campaign Workbook details two such surprises, an encounter with some greedy goblins and a run-in with an angry druid.

Use these ambushes whenever the PCs are traveling through a wooded area. Each ambush is scalable by level. Motivations and backgrounds are provided for each NPC, but whenever possible, the DM should link the NPCs encountered here to the events and circumstances of her established milieu.

The Bleeding Destrier (EL 8)

A cold wind rushes down from the escarpments and swirls the dead leaves on the trail ahead. For a moment after the leaves settle, a mighty white horse with feathered hair on its fetlocks and a single horn on its brow pauses on the trail, head bowed, crimson stains marring its pure flank.

Then, it leaps into the underbrush.

Creatures: A goblin tribe called the Spit of Maglubiyet and their barghest leader, Vortwug, have mocked up a white horse as a wounded unicorn. To complete their lure’s disguise, they have stabbed the hapless beast. A Survival or Knowledge (nature) check (DC 20) suffices to inform the PC that although something about the “unicorn” lacks verisimilitude, the blood is quite real.

If the PCs take the bait and track the white charger (blood spatters on birch bark are easy to spot, requiring a DC 4 Survival check to follow), they encounter the Traps in order, separated by 100 feet, and the creatures below,

Centipede Swarm: hp 31; Monster Manual 238.

Goblins (12), Spit of Maglubiyet ‘Tribe: hp 6 each; Monster Manual 133.

Vortwug the Conqueror, Barghest: hp 35; Monster Manual 22.

Bukityn the Heavy Warhorse: hp 31 (currently 20); Monster Manual 273.

Tactics: If the party refuses the bait and ignores the “unicorn,” Vortwug casts rage on the Spit and crushing despair on the party. He then orders the tribe to attack while he dimension doors behind the PCs to flank.

If he feels the PCs are serious threats, he employs blink; otherwise he plunges claw-first into melee.

If the party has set off either trap, Vortwug orders his minions to attack before the PCs can recover, preferably while some are at the bottom of the pit.

Traps: Bukityn, the destrier, has been trained to leap over the pit and the deadfall’s tripwire as he flees the party,

Spiked Pit Trap: CR 3; mechanical; location trigger; manual reset; DC 20 Reflex save avoids; 20 ft, deep (2d6, fall); multiple targets (two adjacent fivefoot squares); pit spikes (Atk +10 melee, 1d4 spikes strike target for 1d4+2 each); Search DC 21; Disable Device DC 20. At the bottom of the pit, the goblins cultivate a centipede swarm (Creatures, above) that attacks anything in the pit.

Timber Deadfall Trap: CR 4; mechanical; touch trigger (tripwire attached); manual reset; multiple targets (10-1. square); Atk +15 melee (6d6, logs); Search DC 24; Disable Device DC 24.

Treasure: Though he cannot use it, Vortwug carries a wand of detect magic. He also has a velvet purse stuffed with 31 pp and three emeralds (150 gp each). Each goblin carries a six-inch, half-full, stopped brass spittoon carved in Maglubiyet’s likeness. Each spittoon can bring 50 gp from a collector.

Scaling the Ambush: To run this encounter at EL 3, remove Vortwug and the deadfall trap, and change the centipede swarm to a rat swarm. To run it at EL 12, give each goblin two levels of fighter, make Vortwug a greater barghest with four levels of sorcerer, and give four of the goblins spider eater mounts.

The Arrowhawk Gambit (EL 11)

The forest here smells of fallen leaves and fresh rain. Maple seeds twirl in the air, and nuthatches and chickadees twitter in the boughs above. Ahead, chest-high over the trail, something flashes in the shafts of forest sunlight.

A Spot check (DC 20) from 60 feetaway indicates that the flashes are from six levitating, oblate spheroids. A manipulative anti-civilization druid named Gryth hides in tree shape in the forest 40 feet off the trail, When the PCs approach, read the following:

The six egg-shaped objects are blue and iridescent, like opals dipped in the sky.

They wheel and orbit each other four feet off the ground. Suddenly a screech rends the heavens, and the air is charged with the scent of ozone.

Creatures: Long ago, a band of arrowhawks moved to this forest, attracted by the isolation and plentiful game. When Gryth the Pure recently took this section of the wood under his strict care, he discovered the creatures. Because they are native to the Elemental Plane of Air, he considers them a blemish on the natural order,

Fearing to attack the electric raptors himself, he has caused their naturally levitating eggs to drift in front of the party on the trail. He hopes that as the arrowhawks defend their eggs from the PCs, both unnatural presences will be eliminated from the forest.

Adult Arrowhawks (4): hp 38 each; Monster Manual 19.

Gryth the Pure, Cleanser of Forests: Human Male Drd10: CR 10; Medium humanoid (human); HD 10d8+10; hp 58; Init +2; Spd 30; AC 20 (24 with barkskin), touch 12, flat-footed 18; Base Atk +7; Grp +9; Atk +10 melee (1d6+2/18-20, masterwork scimitar); Full Atk +10/+5 melee (1d6+2/18-20, masterwork scimitar); SA spells, wild shape 4/day (Small, Medium, or Large); SQ animal companion, nature sense, wild empathy +12, woodland stride, trackless step, resist nature’s lure, venom immunity; AL NE; SV Fort +8, Ref +5, Will +14; Str 15, Dex 14, Con 12, Int 9, Wis 20, Cha 11.

Skills: Climb +4, Concentration +14, Handle Animal +13, Heal +14, Knowledge (nature) +11, Survival 414.

Feats: Brew Potion, Combat Casting, Iron Will, Natural Spell, Scribe Scroll.

Spells Prepared (Drd 6/6/5/4/4/3, Base Save DC 15+ spell level): 0th —create water, cure minor wounds (2), detect magic, detect poison, guidance; 1st — charm animal, entangle, faerie fire, longstrider, obscuring mist, produce flame; 2nd —barkskin, bears endurance, lesser restoration, summon swarm, tree shape; 3rd —cure moderate wounds, greater magic fang, poison, wind wall; 4th —cure moderate wounds, dispel magic, flame strike, ice storm; 5th —animal growth, call lightning storm, wall of thorns.

Possessions: Masterwork scimitar with lion’s head pommel, +2 leather armor, +2 heavy wooden shield, potion of owl’s wisdom, potion of bear’s endurance, scroll of stoneskin, scroll of cure serious wounds, scroll of tree stride,

Rexan, dire lion: hp 65; Monster Manual 63. Rexan came with Gryth from a savannah far to the south, where a herd of centaurs chased the druid away because of his mercilessly intolerant views.

Tactics: The arrowhawks attack with their electric tail rays and stay out of melee range. If someone in the party speaks Auran, diplomacy is possible.

Once the birds’ attitude improves from hostile to friendly, the arrowhawks gather their eggs and depart peacefully.

While the party is dealing with the arrowhawks, Gryth uses his stoneskin scroll, sharing the spell with Rexan.

He then uses wild shape to take the form of a dire bear and casts animal growth, barkskin, greater magic fang, and bear’s endurance on himself, sharing the spells with Rexan as well.

He then casts call lightning storm.

In combat, he sends Rexan into melee while he casts wall of thorns and entangle to divide and slow the PCs, followed up by bolts of lightning, ice storms, and flame strikes before wading into melee himself.

Treasure: Gryth carries nothing of value other than his possessions, four small diamonds (250 gp each), and 14 gp.

The arrowhawk eggs bring up to 100 gp each in the right market, but note that selling the young of an intelligent species should have serious alignment consequences for good characters.

Scaling the Ambush: To run this encounter at EL 6, change the arrowhawks to juvenile arrowhawks, reduce their number to two, and make Gryth a 3rd-level druid.

To run this encounter at EL 15, change the arrowhawks to elder arrowhawks, increase their number to six, and make Gryth a 13th level druid..