D&D 5E Improving The Set Pieces (OotA Spoilers)


So far I've run the Silken Paths and a toned down Lost Tomb of Khaem, and have made some modifications to both to make them more interesting. I'm considering how I want to handle the other two. I plan to run Hook Horror Hunt fairly soon, and the Oozing Temple a bit later when the players are headed to Blingdenstone.

For the Silken Paths, I mostly just wanted to make sure the random encounters checked out, and would make for a good day of adventuring. Plus I wanted to end with a bang.

[sblock=The Silken Paths]Cocoons (1,200 XP)

Six cocoons hang against the cliff face, above a 10-foot wide ledge, easily within reach of anyone below. Searching a cocoon without alerting the nearby spider requires a DC 10 Dexterity (Stealth) check.

Creatures: 3 giant spiders (MM 328, CR 1) lurk nearby. One arrives each round after they are alerted.

Treasure: The cocoons hold:
1. A dead human man wearing leather armor and carrying a longsword, a short sword, a short bow, and a quiver 14 arrows. He also has a backpack with 10 pounds of rations, 50 feet of hemp rope, a crowbar, a hammer, 6 pitons, 5 torches, and a waterskin.
2. Fargas Rumblefoot, poisoned and paralyzed.
3. A dead elf woman wearing scale mail armor, carrying a mace and a shield with the holy symbol of Pelor on it. She also has a pouch with 20 gp.
4. Two drow corpses, each wearing studded leather armor and carrying a short sword, hand crossbow, 20 bolts, and a flask of drow poison.
5. A desiccated half-orc corpse with a maul and a dragon-claw on a pendant.
6. A dead dwarven woman in robes, carrying a dagger, a staff, a spellbook (alarm, burning hands, comprehend languages, detect magic, find familiar, identify, magic missile, ray of sickness), and a scroll of cloud of daggers.

Spectator (700 XP)

Ivan the a spectator (MM 30, CR 3) approaches the party, demanding to know why they are trespassing in his master’s castle. A successful DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion or Deception) check can point out flaws in the spectator’s logic. Three successful checks are required to convince him. The DC increases by 2 for each failed check, but has advantage if it is a particularly glaring error in logic. Once the DC reaches 25, the next failed check enrages the spectator enough to attack.

Spiders! (1,600 XP)

Giant spiders ambush the party, who are surprised if they fail a DC 17 Wisdom (Perception) check. A spider flees once bloodied. A successful DC 17 Charisma (Animal Handling or Intimidation) check shoos a damaged spider away.

Creatures: 4 giant spiders (MM 328, CR 1). Ivan the a spectator (MM 30, CR 3) returns, hearing the commotion, if he is alive. A successful DC 10 Charisma (Persuasion) check as an action convinces him to attack the spiders for 1d4 rounds. The DC is 15 if they did not placate him before.

Spiderzilla Chase

The giant spider, Spiderzilla (see below), chases the party!

NOTE: I use an alternate chase system. References to escape boxes can be replaced by losing 10 feet of movement. Using my system, uncheck 1d4 escape boxes at the end of each round. Skill checks are DC 15 and check one escape box, a 20 or better checks two boxes, and a 9 or worse unchecks one.

Chase Complications
1-4: The webs slope downward. Check off an escape box if you are using grease. Otherwise, make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check/uncheck an escape box.
5-6: Sticky webs! Make a DC 10 Strength check, or use your action to attack with a slashing weapon, or uncheck/check an escape box.
7: Spider nest! Make a DC 12 Wisdom (Perception) check or take 1d4 piercing damage, plus 1d4 poison damage if you fail a DC 11 Constitution saving throw.
8: Giant spider (MM 328, CR 1)! Either take the disengage action, or make a DC 12 Charisma (Animal Handling) check, or it makes a bite attack against you: +5 to hit, 1d8 + 3 piercing damage, and the target must make a DC 11 Constitution saving throw, taking 9 (2d8) poison damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.
9: Web break! Make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or uncheck/check an escape box. If you fail by 5 or more, check off two boxes.
10: A hidden Darkmantle (MM 46, CR 1/2) drops on you and makes a Crush attack. If it hits, it remains attached until removed or bloodied.
11-20: No complication.

Huge monstrosity, unaligned
Armor Class 19 (natural armor)
Hit Points 123 (13d10 + 52)
Speed 40 ft., climb 40 ft.
18 (+4) 16 (+3) 18 (+4) 14 (+2) 16 (+3) 18 (+4)
Saving Throws Dex +6
Skills Perception +4, Stealth +5
Senses blindsight 10 ft., darkvision 120 ft., passive Perception 14
Challenge 6

Spider Climb. Spiderzilla can climb difficult surfaces, including upside down on ceilings, without needing to make an ability check.

Web Sense. While in contact with a web, Spiderzilla knows the exact location of any other creature in contact with the same web.

Web Walker. Spiderzilla ignores movement restrictions caused by webbing.

Bite. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 2d8+4 piercing damage, plus 2d8 poison damage.[/sblock]

For the Lost Tomb of Khaem, I converted it to more closely fit the "five room dungeon" model. I wanted a bit more roleplaying and puzzle solving involved. My idea was that the tomb was built by the enmies of Brysis, who feared her return, or at least the return of her weapons.

Also, my players were brought here by Fargas, so I didn't use the voice calling to them until the final chamber.

[sblock=Lost Tomb of Khaem]1. Entrance Room (1,100 XP, non-combat)

The ghost (MM 147, CR 4) of Brysis appears to the part here, prepared to destroy invading under-dwellers. She will let them pass if they convince her they wish to bring light to the darkness. Not too hard if they are not all underdark denizens.

2. Shrine

The faerzress subsides here, but a continual flame shining from a holy symbol of Pelor illuminates this chamber. The shrine is carved in Undercommon, “the light of Khaem shall never again burn for those above.”

The doors in this room are sealed and hidden. A DC 15 group Intelligence (Investigation) check reveals the location of the doors as hollow on the other side, but they cannot be opened. The doors will open only when no light shines within the chamber.

3. Servants’ Sarcophagi (1,600 XP)

Creatures: A Specter (MM 279, CR 1) reside here, rising from a random sarcophagus when disturbed.

Treasure: A pair of gold bracers worth 50 gp and a wand; a silver necklace worth 50 gp; a silver walking stick (club) with a scorpion carved into its handle worth 75 gp; a golden ring worth 10 gp.

Note: My PCs were only level 2 for this, so I used only one specter. More are appropriate for higher level parties. The treasure was also toned down for this reason.

4. False Tomb (200 XP)

The tomb’s curse lasts for one minute, and a new save is allowed at the end of each turn.

Note: This is to make this fight more complicated, but not to screw the party over for a long time without any warning.

Creatures: When the tomb is disturbed, the statue of Brysis (Animated Armor; MM 19, CR 1) attacks the party. The statue's false appearance trait is that of Brysis.

5. True Tomb (1,800 XP)

When the true sarcophagus is opened, the tomb’s curse activates, and Brysis is transformed into a Wraith (MM 302, CR 5) and is compelled to attack the party.

Brysis spends her first turn resisting, telling them to destroy her, using her old weapons if necessary. She is reluctant to fight for two more rounds, causing her attacks to deal half damage, and saving throws against her life draining to be made at advantage. After that, she fights to kill.

Note: A higher level party may not need the extra rounds of weakness for this to be a fair fight.

Treasure: From inside the tomb, Dawnbringer calls for someone to use her during the fight. If they do, she attunes immediately to the first person to wield her. The sarcophagus also contains a necklace of fireballs, a philter of love, and a potion of greater healing.[/sblock]

For the Hook Horror Hunt, I'm not too satisfied with it being just a few gnoll fights, separate from maybe a fight with hook horrors. I want to get the PCs a bit more involved, but I'm not sure how yet. I'm thinking I may also want to leave signs that Yeenoghu is free in the Underdark. Perhaps the players walk along a ledge, overlooking a large cavern, where down below a pair of hook horrors have been slain and hyenas feast on their bodies, transforming into gnolls.

Or better yet, have the players stumble upon an ongoing battle between gnolls and hook horrors, with the horrors injured already. Once one dies, hyenas could behind devouring them and turning into more gnolls. The players then need to take care of the hyenas before they're overwhelmed by gnolls.

For the Oozing Temple, I'd like to provide more choices for the players, and less random holes with oozes in them, but I have no ideas yet.

What has everyone else done for these set pieces, and do you have any ideas for the latter two?

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For the Oozing Temple, I’d replace the pit traps with different locked doors with challenges to get through. Like, one door requires the group to solve a puzzle, the other requires a feat of strength, etc. Increasing the speed at which the water rises might add tension. And finally, a boss battle of some sort in the final room might not go awry.

For the Hook Horror Hunt, I’d look to your PCs’ motivations and try to tie to that. If one of them is druid, maybe emphasize the disruptive actions of the gnolls on the ecosystem, for example.


First Post
I ran the Oozing Temple so only far but I also made some larger changes. They found it pointing out of the Darklake, half drowned. I turned the whole place into a more direct Temple to Jubilex to hype up the demon infestation early in their adventure. I also infused the area with more faerzress as an intro to its effect on low rows for casters and to train them for their encounters later in the Whorlstone Tunnels. The biggest change was that I added a boss to the end (A corrupt deep gnome warlock trying to summon demonic oozes who used the fountain at the end as a summoning circle and created a slime bubble shield he wizzed fireballs out from) and then I also added 4 (honestly a bit ill-convinced") "Trials of Jubilex" to replace the black pudding tunnels as Ralif above suggested too. Made a small study room like that of a monk's study outside these trials.

The idea was that initiates of Jubilex would study and venture here to soley pass through one of the trial hallways, each having a different slime/ooze themed trap or obstacle. The names were a little naive and improved but you get the idea. Our Warlock could read the abyssal scriptures on each to clue in the nature of the trial, so that each individual could pick their fate. Afloor panel button at the end of each of these would signify the success of passage and open the door to the "wait room" before the boss.
"Revel to the Ooze"
Dex trial of navigating a wide hallway with glass orbs of green slime balanced on vertical poles. PC performed dex checks to weave nimbly between them, failure ended in toppling the orbs and enough failure dominoed them all where they could possible polevault over the sea of slime if they were quick enough.

"Surrender thy Self to Slime"
Mind game where a slime at one end of the 5ft narrow hallway would mimic all the PC's actions and its form would look more and more like that PC the close it got. The trick is that they could simply brush by it halfway down the hall and avoid any conflict what so ever as the slime would walk away in the opposite direction. It was fun to see the PC react that the slime was mirroring him and then as he progressed it reverted back to slime in a strange bloopy devolution.

"The Lore of Jubilex"
A hallway with 3 minor traps that could be avoided studying a prior provided tome of the oozing demon lord beforehand that gave clues to the riddles. I actually never figured out the traps because of some ill preparation on my end but luckily non of the party wanted to study in the cryptic water pour.

"Face the Cube"
This hallway had a glatinous cube halfway into the tunnel. The idea was that initiates were to have studied a protection spell against the cube's corrosiveness and simply walk through. The deep gnome mage that the PCs would face later however, did not know this and so froze the cube with a cone of cold spell. This created a frozen cube of death that had to be climbed over carefully or risk breaking the ice and releasing the cube.
Also I added a Wand of Polymorph as the temple's holy relic. It instead could polymorph targets into slime and control them with expended charges. Had about enough charges to do this once per day if needed. The barbarian got zapped by it in the boss fight but in turn consumed the boss in a slimey rage, and is now know as the "Lars, The Gnome Eater."

An ancient elevator helped them escape because the idea that the PC's would dig up as water was pouring in seemed fatally insane, especailly under the Darklake. The temple thematically sunk into the lake and the party moved on.

Thank you so much for the Web Runner improvements. I'm going to steal them for sure!

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