Help me design a Dragon's Lair

eleran

First Post
6 PCs of 6th level. Lair used to belong to an Ancient Blue, now is home to her daughter a Young Blue. The dragon employs Troglodytes as vassals since they are the nearest intelligent humanoids she had to work with.

This should only be 3 encounters. I dont have the maps in a format I can put on here. I am looking for interesting encounter combos. The final encounter should be a level 9 encounter, with the 2 before it being 7th and 6th level, respectively.

The entrance to the lair complex is thru a cave which is accessed from the sea. At the time the PCs plan to enter it will be low tide and the cave mouth will only be half full of water with land gradually rising once inside. It is a seaside cave mountain which rises up and the dragons chamber is at the top with another cave opening to the sky.

The dragons chamber will include a Volatile Haze from Draconomicon 1 and a pit obscured by said haze which contains the body of the elder dragon along with part of the hoard. There will be a ledge in the dragons chamber which will have the current inhabitant perched on it so she can strike from the air.

Just looking for good ideas, creature combos, traps, etc.
 

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chronoplasm

First Post
There needs to be some sort of room called 'The Jaws of Death'.
Perhaps make it a gauntlet, where the players have to run through a narrow passage as Troglodytes strike down upon them from up on ledges or from murderholes.
 


Jack7

First Post
Ele, if there is to be a Volatile Haze then I would suggest turning it into a trap in a way that the dragoon can employ without endangering itself.

One thing you could do is make it a low-lying haze (maybe only a few feet off the ground) and make the entrance way into a cross-sectional maze (it would be a Haze-Maze) with stone walls that were built by the troglodytes. Once the characters enter the maze, and it would have walls about 8 to ten feet high, then the dragon could ignite it from the other end (the maze exit) and it could remain beyond any toxic effects of the could, even from bleed off as the gas dissipates above. (Don't have her above the gas because then she absorbs toxic vapors as it burns or reacts. Rather have her at the other end of the maze. The characters can if necessary climb atop the 8 to 10 feet walls to escape some of the damage, but it would still be debilitating and damaging to them without her having to directly engage them.)

Another thing you could do is line the maze wall and floor with electrical conductors so that occasionally, if she knew they were there, she could discharge her breath weapon through the conductors without fear of retaliation. This would be an interesting trap from both her point of view and theirs. Because both she and the maze are the trap.

Such a maze would limit their advance and then she could use the troglodytes to engage when she wished, and since the maze would have restricted width this might very well mean players have to take turns holding the front, one man at a time. This would be an interesting tactical challenge as well as weaning them by slow attrition.

Personally I would use treasure bits strewn along the way as trap-triggers, though maybe not in a noticeable manner. For instance one side in the maze has an obvious magic treasure at the end but as they approach they trigger a collapsing trap or a pit trap. Another "trap treasure" might be an illusion, another a monster disguised as something else. This will lure the players and provide interesting side diversions as well as attriting them and you can track how long it takes them to realize that such "treasures" are really little more than "trap-triggers."

In keeping with the vein of the Haze, and of the lighting breath being disruptive to sight and sound, you might put in things like mirrors which give strange perceptual effects, distorting sight or leading into false avenues or even into traps. And mirrors which give the dragon a tactical advantage, such as making her appeared slightly out of phase, or out of place, so that when they shoot at her the mirrors are actually distorting her true position.

I would also position the corpse of the other dragon and the treasure in such a way as it provides a tactical advantage to the dragon.

Otherwise I like the idea of her having "lair perches" but I would have more than one, so she can reposition in relation to the party and in relation to her position relative to the maze. This gives her an escape opportunity if that is necessary, and potentially provides cover during nay combat encounter.

Hope that helped.
 

Bercilac

First Post
Trogs!

I really like your environment, so I'm focussing on the entrance through the watery tunnel.

I'd be tempted to play up the environment a bit more. This cave may have been eroded out of the cliffside by constant waves. If so, perhaps a rip tide? Even if there's a narrow walkway on either side of the water, there's always the chance of PCs getting pushed in during the fight. DC 20 swim checks to avoid getting sucked out or dragged across the rocks (perhaps 1d6 bludgeoning damage w/o reflex save? your call, depending on what you think your players can take) would induce a lot of fear. It could also lead to a fun scene where one player is in danger of drowning (mages with no strength or swim ranks) and the ranger, or similar, dives in to save them. I note that troglodytes can also drain strength with their stench, which would make this even more deadly.

During the fight, work with the vertical dimension. Chrono brings this up. Have the troglodytes on rocky ledges (or maybe even prepared firing positions, if you prefer) raining down javelins.

To scale this encounter up or down:
-Give them a leader. Arcane spellcasters with spells (like colour spray or gust of wind) that can potentially knock characters into the tide; a cleric (maybe with COP Good, or Cause Fear) to bolster regular trogs; or a rogue that launches the first javelin at an unarmoured foe, springing the ambush and getting in a hefty bit of sneak attack damage.

-The trogs may have put spikes in the water, where they would be concealed and inflict more damage on those that get caught in the tide.

-The trogs could have rock-falls rigged up to levers (or just a rope that needs cutting) to either kill or knock down anyone trying to enter the cave.

This encounter, like most, has a turning point, by which point PC victory becomes inevitable. This is probably when the majority party gets through the gauntlet, as chrono says, and the trogs start getting "cleaned up". A round or two after this point (note down when you think it will be, and then play it by gut feel in the game) the trogs should probably run. If you want to re-use them, they fall back to a secondary defense of some sort, or go to set of traps and alarm systems. If you don't, they abandon their draconic master.

Edit:
Don't forget balance checks for clambering over a steep rocky slope, covered with water and slimy with seaweed!
 

Sigurd

First Post
If the young blue inherited the lair from an older dragon there could be some pretty impressive defenses - even stories of parties that died on those defenses.

I thinking burrowed tunnels undermining the floor to create hazards.

Defenses left by mama that would normally be too high level for the daughter.

What do you think of barrels of explosives in a conductive gas. The trap might allow torches and day to day business in the lair but react with the Blue's lightning breath weapon.

I'd stay away from anything like an undead mother. Leave the mother's whereabouts vague so the party can worry about mom's vengeance.


Sigurd
 

GandalfMithrandir

First Post
Building off of the monsters as traps Idea, mimics, though weak, make very good monster traps, especially if you have a few of them in a single place. Also trapped or cursed magical weapons can be very good as well.
 

HACKBattleMage

First Post
One thing you could do is make it a low-lying haze (maybe only a few feet off the ground).

Having a low level of mist in some hallways leading to a room is a great way to hide tiny monsters. I used puppet golems... which may or may not exist anymore, I'm not sure. But they were these little 2' tall golems that do not actually "see," but instead detect life, so they are not blinded by the mist they are veiled in.

It was pretty fun having them lob grease spells and magic missiles and watching the players kinda freak out. Plus the golems I used had small hiding spots along the walls, so if the players figure out where they are they can just hide.
 

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