Combat rating 3
1 Azer (CR 2)
2 Magma mephits (CR 1/2)
Combat rating 3
1 Azer (CR 2)
3 Duodrones (CR 1/4)
1 Tridrone (CR 1/2)
Combat rating 4
2 Azers (CR 2)
1 Animated sword (CR 1/2)
2 Duergar (CR 1)
Combat rating 5
2 Azers (CR 2)
1 Hell hound (CR 3)
How to Use – Combat Encounter
The azer are extremely neutral. They won’t seek out a conflict, but they won’t shy away from one either. If the players are coming after them, or if for some reason they need to attack the players, they won’t try to avoid it.
Azer are very much team players. A lone azer will run, but so long as there are several of them their first strategy will be to choose 1 player and commit to attacking him.
If any of the PCs are wielding polearms (reach weapons) they’ll target him. (Otherwise, choose someone within movement range to attack.) In order to attack him they’ll dash if they have to, and suffer one or two opportunity attacks. After all, the opportunity attacks are hurting the attacker as well, and an opportunity attack against one azer lets multiple azer get through.
Have them surround the target, and move up close so that he can’t use his polearm. In addition to preventing him from retreating and/or having space to use his polearm, have him surrounded will make area-of-effect spells a pain to use. If they can do it without suffering opportunity attacks, they’ll circle him during the battle, always working to put their most injured member on the far side of any archers and casters, where the target’s body blocks arrows and spells.
This is their entire offensive strategy. It’s when there is one left and he flees that stuff get really interesting.
Azer Retreat Strategy: In the Forge (Difficulty 4)
When the azer are at their forge, and they see that they’ve lost, have them run in and close the door behind them, jamming it shut so it won’t open. The players will be able to force it open, but in the 1-2 turns that it takes them, the azer will dump a load of coal into each of the forges, grab the key to the treasure chest and retreat into a small alcove in the room, where only one player will be able to face him at a time and where heavy boxes in front will prevent the archers and casters from being able to get a clear shot. It’s the players job to find a way to take him down / get the key before the heat reaches unbearable proportions. (For extra challenge, have the azer take the dodge action each turn.)
This is how the heat will progress. Each stage will last for 2-3 rounds (depending on how difficult you want to make it.)
Stage 1: This stage is just visual, to set the scene for the next stage. Describe how the room is getting increasingly hot and stuffy, and the sweat running down their characters’ backs.
Stage 2: The heat in the room has reached a proportion where they take 1-2 points of damage for each turn in the room, and any time they touch metal inside the room they take an additional D6 damage. This includes the metal boxes in front of the azer. (I would not include their swords, but I would include metal armor. Time to take it off.)
Stage 3: All skill checks, attack rolls, and saves are made with disadvantage due to having trouble breathing clearly. (Once the azer realizes this, he can stop dodging and go back to attacking. But it might take him a round or two to realize.)
Stage 4: At the beginning of the round, on initiative 20, everybody not immune to fire must make a CON save to stay conscious. I would start at DC 6 (because it’s being made with disadvantage) and raise it by two every round. People who fall unconscious can be revived, but not while inside this room.
If they manage to put out any of the fires, they can have another round per stage for any of the remaining stages.
This scenario assumes that the azer starts the scenario in full health. Either this is a different azer than the one in the battle, this is a different scenario entirely, or he had a healing potion which he drank between this battle and this scenario.
If he’s injured [and you don’t want to give him a healing potion] you can have him jump into the coal cellar instead. I didn’t have him do this in the main scenario because it will set off a massive fire that the players can’t combat [in game reason, maybe he doesn’t want to sacrifice all his coal. Or maybe the coal cellar is just a lot less easily accessible,] but it will take a few rounds for the fire to build up to truly epic proportions. Perhaps they can finish him off and grab the key while it’s merely bonfire size. Or perhaps they will even find a way to extinguish the fire, with sufficient spells and creativity. If they don’t extinguish the fire, expect the whole place to burn down. They’ll have to not just get the key, but find and open the chest, do whatever else they need to do, and get out before that happens.
Azer Retreat Strategy: Elsewhere (Difficulty 3)
If the azer are not in the forge, they’re going to run for it and go through anything flammable on the way. In a forest that’s thorn bushes and dead grasses, (with the possibility of the flame the azer spreads eventually sparking a forest fire. *) Indoors, they’ll close [and bar, when possible] and set fire to wooden doors, run up or down wooden steps, and run through rooms with furniture, setting fire to table, tablecloth, chairs, carpet, floor walls and ceiling, and anything else flammable within reach. Left unchecked, they might even end up causing a major city fire that can burn down a neighborhood*. (The way I read lawful neutral, they won’t deliberately cause harm to others, and might even help other people out when the costs are small, but if their lives are at stake and this is their best strategy they won’t shy away from such means.)
Personally, I would consider combining indoor and outdoor. Let them start with an inn at the side of the city, and then run out into the forest. The locked and burning door, the flaming and possibly collapsing stairs, and/or the room that is full of burning furniture will make a good introduction/first scene and will let the azer build up some distance. The next challenge will be how to follow, as the immediate trail is on fire and traveling along the side of his trail will be slower. It will mean a longer pursuit, and it might mean having to climb a cliff up or down (forest does not have to be flat, and loose soil is no less a problem than sheer rock faces,) or thick thorns/vegetation (which can become a fire trap if the wind blows the wrong way.)
Catching up to the azer will be counter climatic, unfortunately. I would suggest solving this by having the azer be already unconscious/dead thanks to some forest predator(s) that decide that the PCs look even tastier.
If you want, you can finish with the players having to escape the forest as the fire left behind turns into a forest fire all around them.
* The best way to use a forest or neighborhood fire is for it to be the epilogue. I.E., having taken care of the azer, the players now have to escape (or, with the neighborhood fire, rescue,) the area. Tracking an azer through a forest fire is likely impossible, as the fire will hide all tracks and as the fire is simply too dangerous for any sensible party to face. (At least at low levels.)