Dragon Encounters

Creative Combat Encounters, and other ways of using the monsters of dungeons and dragons

FLYING SWORD (animated objects): Battle for the Bridge



Combat rating 1


1 Animated sword* (CR 1/2)

3 Goblins (CR 1/4)


*Found or stolen. Now prized possession.


Combat rating 1


2 Animated swords (CR 1/2)

1 Noble (CR 1/8)

3-4 guards (CR 1/8)


Combat rating 2


2 Animated swords (CR 1/2)

1 Scarecrow (CR 1)


Combat rating 3


2-3 Animated swords* (CR 1/2)

1 Mimic (CR 2)


*set to activate when the mimic reveals itself

How to Use – Combat Encounter (difficulty varies)

I’m going to begin with a rope bridge, and an objective on the other side of the bridge. I would suggest some kind of power stone that is helping the enemies (I would suggest healing all the enemies 3-5 HP each round, on initiative 20), making it hard to win the battle without destroying it first. If you don’t like that idea, you could instead have an important enemy flee over the bridge, or a power gem that has to be destroyed before it can finish charging and activate (although I’m not a big fan of that type of idea. I especially wouldn’t want to use it at these low levels.)

Going on the assumption that we’re going with the power stone option, I would put the entrance to the bridge high up, so that it will take one of the PC’s more than one turn to get to the objective. This will let your villain react to PC by activating his sword and sending it to defend the objective. (If your story is that he’s fleeing, he can automatically activate the sword as he crosses the bridge. In fact, you want the bridge easily accessible so that he isn’t cut down by the players before he can reach it.)

The flying sword does not attack the player trying to cross. Instead, it attacks the bridge.

I would suggest the attack on the bridge takes place as follows:

Round 1: The sword attacks one of the ropes. Any PCs on the bridge have to make a DEX save (DC 12) to avoid being knocked prone.

Round 2: The sword cuts the ropes on one side of the bridge. PCs on the bridge have to make another DEX save (DC 16) to avoid falling off, as the bridge is now more vertical than horizontal. If they announced that they were holding on to the side of the bridge on their previous turn, they can make the save with advantage, although holding on like that will occupy one hand and should probably reduce their movement.

The bridge is now very difficult terrain. If they choose, they can make an acrobatics check (DC 15) to treat it like merely difficult terrain, but if they fail the check they’ll fall off. (I have in mind that if they choose to agitate for more speed, possibly quoting their character’s DEX, they should be offered this option. Not automatically.)

Round 3: The bridge collapses.

When fighting the sword, keep in mind that area-of-effect spells might well destroy the bridge themselves.

Once the bridge collapses, if any of the PCs managed to cross, the sword attacks them. If they didn’t, it remains guard over the far side of the chasm, readying an action to attack the first PC to set hand or foot on the far side. [Unfortunately, this means the players can just stay at a distance and shoot it down. I don’t think there is anything to do about that. It doesn’t have the intelligence to take cover.)

If any of the PCs fall off the bridge, I would suggest just a small amount of falling damage and the need to waste movement to go to the end and climb back on. The fight will be hard enough without adding a pit with spikes, or the equivalent.

For an even harder encounter, have the villain animate a pair of swords [possibly a pair crossed over each other on the wall.) One of them attacks the bridge, while the other stands guard, readying an action to attack whoever comes near.

While the rules state that a medium creature can run past a tiny one, I would think it is different over here, as one can’t run into a sharp metal blade without impaling oneself.

Due to the increased difficulty, I would add a round until the bridge collapses. The first round describe the bridge as becoming more wobbly as its ropes start getting hacked away. This is a descriptive round with no actual rule change. Afterwards, use what I described as round 1 for round 2 and so on.

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About Me

I have been a DM for several years, and I was designing home RPG games since my young childhood. I have been a fan of many different types of games (computer, board, RPG, and more) and have designed several for my own entertainment. This is my first attempt to produce game content for a wider audience.