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D&D 3E
monsters for a dungeon 
30th-Jul-2009 06:00 pm
I'm planning on soon running an adventure that's a somewhat more traditional dungeon crawl--going from one room to the next, traps, etc. The PCs will be exploring a long-lost vault/temple (of good clerics) buried deep under a mountain. No one has entered this temple for hundreds and hundreds of years, until the PCs finally have the key. I'm trying to think of some good monsters/creatures for them to encounter. PCs are 8th level, but I can scale things any which was as needed.

Difficulty: I want to avoid using undead (this place is supposed to seem less desecrated than future adventure locales). I'd also like back away from constructs and elementals, as my PCs are crit and sneak-attack focused. I'm also not really a fan of "oh, this monster has tunneled into the temple", because that would break the whole "this has been sealed forever" feel I'm looking for.

Any ideas? Either monsters from the myriad of books that have been published, or just a basic concept that I can stat out. What would be a fun creature to encounter and fight in a long lost temple vault?

31st-Jul-2009 01:05 am (UTC)
Why was the temple buried under the mountain?
31st-Jul-2009 02:10 am (UTC)
temple is the home/guarding place of a major artifact, having been hidden from the bad-guy dragons during super ancient war.
31st-Jul-2009 01:51 am (UTC)
Perhaps traps that, when triggered, summon an outsider? That neatly sidesteps the "how did that survive in here?"

Hmmm... oozes.... but they're immune to crits.... plants could have easily gotten out of hand in some sealed away location (assuming there's a light source, which could very well be magical in origin. Good clerics probably have magic lights in their temples.) buuuuuut they're immune to criticals as well...

Animals or beasts could have burrowed in, but you wanted to avoid that, too...

So what we're looking for is a creature who is susceptible to critical hits but has not broken the seal on the tomb? That leaves us with summoning. Nothing that can be critted could have survived in there that long. Unless it was sealed away under a spell. Some kind of stasis spell to act like a guardian?

Maybe a dragon?
31st-Jul-2009 02:05 am (UTC)
If it's not a native outsider, it doesn't need to eat. (It does need to breathe, though.) Now I'm picturing a rather cranky good-aligned outsider who has been stuck there after some idiot forgot to dismiss him*, and assumes the PCs are looters.

It would also let it be a combat or non-combat encounter, depending on if the PCs decide to figure out why they are being attacked by something good-aligned, or if they just go for the swords. Or else the outsider was driven nuts by isolation and diplomacy is not an option.

* For insert reason here.
31st-Jul-2009 02:14 am (UTC)
Maybe, but as I said below, I kind of like that outsiders are rare in this game (for now).

I guess the problem is I want an isolated dungeon with no one in it but want to put in a combat encounter or two against someone :p I might just have to give up one on one or the other requirements :p
31st-Jul-2009 02:13 am (UTC)
Yes, you can see my conundrum :p I'm thinking about dropping the blanket crit/sneak immunity (and just giving monsters fortification as appropriate), but I still figured I'd ask.

Yeah, summoning might be an option. But then I've got a whole "breaking the seal to allow the angels to be summoned" as part of the quest goal... but I guess a minor variation of that could help.

I'm thinking I might use something like a Gargoyle as one possible type of monster.

And it can't be a dragon for other story reasons, as the dragons are the enemies of these clerics ;p
31st-Jul-2009 03:08 am (UTC)
I think the out-of-control plants idea is neat.

And the "deathless" type of undead (Book of Exalted Deeds) can be interesting...although still immune to crits.

Oh, and yes @ Indiana Jones-style traps and puzzles. :-D If your PCs are sneak-attack focused, they're also probably good at skill checks, ne?
31st-Jul-2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Yeah, I was planning on a bunch of traps and puzzles and stuff (particularly as I don't usually do that, so this will shake things up). But I figured I still wanted 1 or 2 normal fights just since those are fun as well, and was looking for suggestions :)
31st-Jul-2009 03:29 am (UTC)
Greater Glyph of Warding to summon/Planar Ally/whatever a Monster VI which is subject to sneak attacks.
31st-Jul-2009 03:25 am (UTC)
The "Glyph of Warding" (and Greater) spell is a neat way to do this. I do believe they last forever or until triggered.
31st-Jul-2009 02:35 am (UTC)
Undead don't have to imply desecration. You can have ghostly clerics, perhaps not even as a combat thing(unless they are really careless) but more as an ambient encounter.

Traps are always a solid option. Only the penitent man shall pass, a leap of faith, some face melting...

What if some of the sarcophagi are not actually tombs, but rather hold fanatical guards placed in hibernation?

By the same token you can have petrified guards posing as statues until intruders trigger them to return to life.
31st-Jul-2009 04:25 am (UTC)
Lots of animated objects that act as guardians.
31st-Jul-2009 05:51 am (UTC)
You might want to take a look at encounter traps, from (I think) Dungeonscape. They're complicated traps which play out more like combat encounters, with all players acting in initiative order to try to stay alive and defeat the trap. As opposed to the Rogue rolling Disable Device and calling it a day. I've used these before to great success.

Also, the clerics could plausibly have set up a self-resetting Create Food And Water "trap" to provide nourishment for any guardian beasts they felt like leaving down there. You can feed 5 horses on one casting of that.
2nd-Aug-2009 08:30 pm (UTC)
Yes! +1 to this, those traps are awesome.

(No, I'm not trying to gain extra XP.) :-D

Although now I'm having awesome images of little dire rats pushing little pedals to get food...
31st-Jul-2009 08:10 am (UTC) - Trying to jump over the paint around this corner.
How about giant vermin, or even regular vermin? They could have been there origninall but there were more and over the years they've been eating each other basically.

Looking at crazy_sunshine's idea of something creating food/water...it could be a magic item that has been activated-might even make decent loot.

An old temple is bound to have had some sort of potions around, so perhaps something living there orignially has managed to drink some when they've spilled?
That could make the church mice into dire rats or similar-which can eat the vermin and each others.
Temples may have kept other animals around too, and who knows what the centuries old potions could have done (maybe some lost magic?, maybe some sort of effects from drinking puddles where they've flowed together and mixed oddly?).

Something which could have been there as an experiment? If it can regenerate it could survive by eating itself potentially.

Something which, in your world, drops into a form of hibernation that can last indefinitely? doesn't normally but if it's stuck...

Could something have fallen into the temple when it was covered? That could give you mare bases to start from.
31st-Jul-2009 12:26 pm (UTC)
Maybe there is a secret order of people dedicated to preserving this temple, and each member has a talisman that has been handed down for generations. Whenever the temple senses some disturbance, it summons all of the owners of all of the talismans to the room that is keyed to that talisman? That way you could have pretty much any intelligent being in any of the rooms. Maybe the talisman somewhat mind-controls the wearer into wanting nothing but to defend the temple, so that these otherwise good people have full reason to attack the party. Added bonus is that the players can get these talismans and you could maybe do a side quest of them finding people that can be trusted to be the new guardians.
31st-Jul-2009 07:05 pm (UTC)
I can see why you asked for help. That's a great idea to work with, but hard to put into action.

If it's a really big complex, it could have two warring factions. Something that could live underground indefinitely, which farms out some areas for food and maybe eats it's enemies as well. Girallons are omnivorous, if memory serves, and you could have another type in the other end of the temple. How did they get there? Well, I don't know the history of how your temple was covered up, so I can't give you much.

I like the plant idea too, although their immunities wouldn't work. Maybe a "boss" dryad in the plants, controlling them?

Good luck! Let us know what you come up with, please. I would be interested to see how it works out.
31st-Jul-2009 07:45 pm (UTC)
Alright, lemme add some details (I was trying not to spend too much time typing stuff out :p)

The basic campaign premise atm is that a super long time ago, Good Outsiders (and their human followers) and Dragons had a huge war, with the dragons winning and basically sealing up all access to the world from other planes. In the process of this war, the Outsiders made a set of artifacts (giant rocks) imbued with divine power and all that. Now divine power is coming back into the world (Clerics are only a recent phenomenon) and the PCs are trying to locate these artifacts, which were all hidden where the dragons couldn't get at them.

One of these (the one the PCs will be heading for next) is in an underground temple deep in some mountains that have the property of messing with magic (and since dragons are super-magical, it messed with them). The PCs are basically going to head into this underground cave system, wander for a bit, and then find the temple. I've got a few ideas for stuff to happen in the caves, but I'm looking for stuff to do in the temple.

Specifically, the PCs will come across a kobold settlement that has sprung up in front of the temple--the kobolds were tasked with getting inside, but have never been able to and so have kind of formed their own little underground culture. But the PCs have a cleric with them, and so will be able to open the door and get inside the temple that no one has entered forever.

The temple is not that big--maybe a 10-12 room dungeon. There's stuff out in the caves, mostly classic underground monsters (I've got a neat Xorn encounter in mind, and will probably put a Destrachan next in there if the PCs get lost). But I was looking for some creatures to put in the temple to make it not just a series of traps and puzzles.

I think I might just about have it though. I can use a gargoyle like creature in one room (was hybernating in stone), a magical construct-guardian-type in another, a living spell (or two), and maybe a summoned Celestial aspect as the final encounter. I also kind of like the idea of a set of giant rats that have evolved over time--so I might go with that too.

Thanks though :)
1st-Aug-2009 02:36 am (UTC)
maybe someone else who was trying to get in managed to do it. whatever magic they had at their disposal to get in was powerful enough to get them in, and powerful enough to keep them alive all this time, but not powerful enough to get them out, or powerful enough to keep them from going batshit crazy. i also like the "rats got into the potions" and out of control fungus and plant ideas.
31st-Jul-2009 08:37 pm (UTC)
While I understand you don't want to have things enter through the walls from the surface, perhaps underground monsters have broken through, like Xorn or Umber hulks. Those things might NEVER see the surface. So an earthquake collapses the thin wall between your dungeon and their nest... eventually they notice and go investigate to get trapped in the dungeon.

I did something like this once and that's what I did. Also, I made a section of it an underground zoo, so the zoo eventually broke down and the animals escaped.
31st-Jul-2009 11:42 pm (UTC)
Whoever tasked the Kobolds with getting into the tomb would probably be looking out for anyone who might find the key to the tomb. Maybe they can send in a squad of mercenaries or assassins to chase down and eliminate the PCs.
4th-Aug-2009 05:23 pm (UTC)
Hmmm, lots of stuff that I would have listed has already been mentioned: Fungus, Mold, Slime, and some no-light Plants, all of which could be expected to exist even in a sealed tomb. Since this is a fantasy game, it is also entirely possible that some normal vermin (rats, bugs, scorpions, spiders) were sealed in, and have become giant vermin over the generations, feeding on each other.

Also, what about a "Sun Room": A grotto with a magically bright "orb of daylight" chandelier affixed to the ceiling, which allows some regular plants to grow. It could have been used for meditation and prayers back when the tombs were being consecrated. This would allow for a little more variety in the scenery (a bright garden room instead of the normal dark hallways), and the last cleric to leave could have planted some aggressive veggies as guardians.

Like some others have said, suspended animation is good too. My players are quite used to finding giant cylinders and bell jars filled with murky liquid and a dimly visible shapes floating within. You could have a few of these placed around as part of the trap system - step on the wrong floor tile and hear half a dozen giant urns being shattered just around the next corner.

What about something similar to the "Mirror of Opposition" from 1st edition? When someone of evil alignment sees their reflection, the reflection becomes real and attacks - thus forcing evil characters to "defeat their own wickedness".
4th-Aug-2009 05:27 pm (UTC)
Hmm, that's a thought. I could have a version of one (or more) of the PCs jump out and attack them. I haven't done that in a long time (and not with this group).

Thanks :)
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