Some Encounters In The Maze

I ran the Wedding part of the Maze of the Blue Medusa recently and I think it went mostly well. One of the things which improved my DMing as the sessions went on was that I stopped using the Random Encounters pages at the start of the book, and wrote up some 5e specific bits on other sheets. These were super easy to flick through and had all the story bits I wanted to remember.

Here are those notes.

If me and my group ever go back to the Maze, there’s some bits I need to change about these creatures though.

Action economy

We were running with a large group of players; six players, plus the DM who might be running a large number of monsters (in order to put up some amount of a fight). In order to keep the combat round time as short as possible I decided I’d play easily beaten bad guys, but a number of them throughout the adventuring day. The aim here was that there was more strategy required around how the players use their resources.

Unfortunately, I made them too easy. I could give the sharkman like 90 hit points, but they’d grind them down in a turn or two, giving him no time to do his cool thing. I could add more hit points, but then, meh, you know? I should have given some creatures legendary actions. I don’t think my group would have felt cheated by this; afterall there’s usually six of them and 1 on my dude.

So, next time I come back to these encounters, I’ll add those.

Encounters feel out of place

I began by rolling on the Encounters Table (but quickly stopped) but it lead to some people being where they had no right to be, sometimes. The mummies are super cool, but usually need an escort to get back home. However, access to the Archives is secret, I think.

My players very eagerly wanted to follow Torgos home, but that would require going through dozens of rooms. Many of them I’d not yet read. And most of them have something interesting in that would otherwise slow the characters down. In a crawl, this is a bit difficult. I fudged it, I suppose. But it was a bit of a shame.

Pick relevant random encounters and probably don’t bother rolling to see which one comes up.

Dragons who want not for gold

I was in need of a person who’s obsessed with high valuable items and making a … hoard of them, if you will. But these items are not simple mountains of gold or gems just to sit on all day. These are unique items. Items with a wonderful story behind them. Rarely crudely stolen but aquired. It’s not a collection of stolen items, but work has gone into them to get them.

This is why I came up with the idea for the Onyx Dragon.

This lawful dragon might always endevour to come by an item justly, but sometimes their obsession gets the better of them. They find an excuse – a lie to themselves – to bend their moral code. If someone else steals it and gives it to me, then that’s probably good enough…

These mental gymnastics are an onyx dragon’s main weapon, which it can easily force on others too. Weakening their will and casting doubt. An onyx dragon may never need to fight to need hold of their stash – with enough time the theif will talk themselves out of trying in the first place.

Quagmire Duck

The honk of a quagmire duck is the last thing any adventurer wants to hear when crossing a bog. Their territory stretches as far as they can be heard, or at least that’s what they seem to like to think. These multi-headed, tar soaked ducks are vicious and hot headed, with a recklessness that rivals a manic barbarian.

The number of heads a quagmire duck has varies between two and four, each with its own long, opposable neck.

Swamp Life

Quagmire ducks spend most of their life with all but one of their heads underground, reach down as far as they can to find any lurking fish. One of their heads is always kept above ground, as high as it can be, sweeping the surroundings for interlopers.

Their strong wings let them swim through the loose mud as if it were water. This leaves them with their distinctive brown gloss, sticking to their feathers added an impressive layer of impact absorption from any potential attackers.

Blind Rage

The most insulting compliment to pay on of these ducks is to take a step closer to it. This appears to override any sense of self-preservation, flipping a switch within the bird from its typical graceful manner into a rabid killer. For some time this was considered a defensive mechanism, but those who are able to communicate with the ducks have explained that the bird loses itself to its rage even when it knows it’s sure to die.

The ducklings do not present like this. It’s only in adulthood does this craze take over.

Flying mounts. There have been three instances in recorded history of gnomes using quagmire ducks as mounts. Each time, it was only as a result of an extended period of bonding between the two. Small creatures can use them as mounts, but keeping control of them does not seem likely.

Quagmire Duck

Medium beast, chaotic.

Armour class: 14, Hit points: 154 (28d8+28), Speed: 30ft. Fly: 20ft.

Str: +3, Dex: +3, Con: +1, Wis: 0, Int: 0, Cha: -4

Skills. Perception: +6. Senses: Dark vision. (60ft.) Passive perception: 16. Languages: none.

Challenge: 5 (1,800 XP)

Keen Sight. Has advantage of Perception checks which require sight, due to having a bunch of heads.

Multiattack. Gets an attack for each head.

Actions

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (1d12 + 2) piercing damage.

I had a dream about this guy, so I figured I’d write him up.