Dragon Encounters

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


BASILISK: Exploring the Consequences of Fighting Blind

Spoiler

Combat rating 4

 

1 Basilisk (CR 3)

3 Hobgoblins (CR 1/2)

 

Combat rating 4

 

1 Basilisk (CR 3)

2 Lizardfolk (CR 1/2)

1 Lizardfolk shaman (CR 2)

 

Combat rating 6

 

1 Basilisk (CR 3)

3 Vine blights (CR 1/2)

1 Green hag (CR 3)

2 Scarecrows (CR 1)

 

Combat rating 7

 

2 Basilisks (CR 3)

4 Gargoyles (CR 2)

How to Use

The base idea behind running a basilisk is running a monster that can’t be looked at without harsh penalties. Fighting a monster without being able to look at it is unfortunately quite complicated. I’m going to break it up into three parts.

  1. Far Distance: While the basilisk is still at a distance, they don’t yet have to close their eyes (if they do, all terrain becomes difficult terrain.) They do have to walk around with their eyes on the ground, which means that their observation of anything around them is limited to a few feet on all sides of them. They won’t walk into a pit, but they won’t be able to see any enemies or obstacles until those things are awfully close to them. This is the part I am going to use for my combat encounters.

[They don’t have to worry about the basilisk getting close to them without them having time to close their eyes. The basilisk isn’t stealthy, and they should be able to hear it getting close. Even if it closes in on its turn, I would still let them close their eyes in time. It’s no different from readying an action, with this being a free action that doesn’t use up their action to ready.]

  • Medium Distance: Once it’s within 10-15 feet, they’ll have to close their eyes if they don’t want to risk its gaze. Not only will they be fighting blind, they’ll have to find it. I would suggest a WIS [perception] check, DC 10 but with disadvantage due to having their eyes shut. If the basilisk attacks they know where it is, and if they wasted a turn looking [I.E., failed the skill check] they’ve narrowed the area needing searching and automatically find it next turn (assuming nothing made a significant change to the battlefield.)

If they prefer, they can try to look for the basilisk and close their eyes as soon as they see it. In this case, it’s the basilisk that will be making the WIS [perception] check, with a DC 8 if they’re coming from the front, and a DC 12 it they’re coming from the rear. If the basilisk is engaged in combat, it has disadvantage on the roll.

(This is the most finicky part of the fighting without looking rules, and I could hear skipping it. It increases complication, and adds nothing to the game except realism. I included it for the sake of completion, and for those who like realism.)

  • When they fight it, they’re fighting blind. This gives them disadvantage on their attack rolls, and advantage to attack rolls made against them. (This is the part the publishers actually had in mind.)

Other items to keep in mind:

  • Ranged attacks against the basilisk will be made with disadvantage. Assume that they have the general idea due to being able to hear the basilisk. (Logically, a miss should have a 50% chance to hit someone engaged in melee with the basilisk. Only do this if you are sure it won’t cause ill feelings between the players. Even then, the wisdom of this rule is highly debatable.)
  • Knowing that the range of the basilisks’ gaze is thirty feet is very important information. You should think about whether you want the players to have it, not leave it up to how they roll on knowledge.
  • Don’t let them know they’ll be facing a basilisk in advance. Everybody knows about using a mirror to kill them.

Combat Encounter (difficulty 4)

Suggested setting: A magic glade/garden dotted with occasional hedges. A curse has been placed, and is threatening the garden. Due to this curse, the protections on the garden have weakened, and several basilisks have entered it.

The players are given several magic orbs that they need to place in different locations at the sides of the garden. Alternatively, they have to find the orbs and then place them. There is a strict time limit, with the first orb needing to be placed within 3-4 rounds and all the orbs within 10-15 rounds. I’ll provide a puzzle at the end, but the purpose of this is to force the players to split up.

Due to the hedges, the players don’t have a good idea where the basilisks are. After all, the hedges are limiting their sight. This means they need to keep their eyes down at all times or risk the basilisks’ gaze. We’ll assume that they can talk to each other (because otherwise the game will bog down, not to mention that they’ll do it anyway,) but they’ll have trouble keeping track of each other’s position.

[DM advice: to create a scenario which is challenging but not frustrating, let them hear what you say to each player, but only answer questions about the scenario on the turn of the players asking. If they are sharing a lot of information with each other, gently ask them to reduce the information sharing. If it persists, just leave it. This just shows that this scenario wasn’t a good match for your players in the first place.

Have an extra battlemap, which you’ll keep behind the DM screen. All figurines, both of PCs’ and of monsters, will only be on this map. The other map will be a picture of the area, so they don’t get lost, and so you can show them [on their turn] where their character is, if/when they lost track. (You can theoretically have a few extra hedges/obstacles that only show up on this map. I strongly advise to limit it, as it can cause a lot of confusion among your players.)

If you want to increase the difficulty, report their position slightly wrong. After all, if they’re walking around with their eyes planted on the ground, they shouldn’t be perfectly aware of their position. Let them know that you’re doing this.

(Everything here has been designed to let the game flow and not get bogged down, as it would if you keep pulling them aside to talk with them separately on their turn.)]

Notes on the scenario: This scenario is not nearly as difficult as it might appear. Basilisks move slowly, which means even if a weak player gets cornered by multiple basilisks, they should be able to disengage and escape. Basilisks are stupid, so it won’t necessarily occur to them to dash after them. They’ll just walk around, and trust that eventually they’ll get lucky.

If they do get petrified, you might want to find a way to heal them at the end of the scenario. We can say that the basilisks aren’t feeling hungry right not, so instead of eating them (which would be permanent death) they’ll just continue on, seeing if they can bring down more prey to save for later.

I chose this scenario instead of one where they had trouble fighting the basilisks because all the scenarios I envisioned, possibly using cliffs or stepping stones across water, were very hard to pull off without eyesight. I saw no way to describe the area without either giving the players too much information or less than they needed to operate.

If anyone reading this has successfully run a basilisk scenario that contains anything more than just monsters, especially terrain obstacles, please let me know how you did it.

(Difficulty 6) For a much harder scenario, include some range fighters into the mix. I favor needle blights, as they seem to fit the theme of the cursed magic garden and as they don’t use eyesight, but you could also use other monsters, perhaps hobgoblins or drow, using the idea described in the flavor text that basilisks can be trained not to attack their masters.

With these enemies you don’t need the time limit. It will be challenging enough without it, as these enemies will use ranged attacks to hit and run*. The players will have a hard time fighting back without being able to see.

*since blights aren’t intelligent, if you use needle blights you’ll have to announce that this is their normal way to fight, to retreat out of range upon each attack only to come back to attack again next turn. As it happens, this is the strategy I was anyhow planning to suggest for them.

(Difficulty varies) When using them as part of a large-scale force, you could decide that all the enemies have the rule of the basilisks’ “master”, that it’s been trained not to attack them.

For a fight that might be more interesting, (and is definitely more faithful to the flavor text,) the enemies will arrange themselves in this manner. The basilisks will be released, and will have been trained to march straight toward the PCs. Enemy melee fighters will advance, being careful to march straight ahead, possible with eyepieces designed for their eyes to only be visible from the front, not the sides. At least one of the melee fighters will remain behind the basilisks, ready to attack if the PCs go past the basilisks and try to attack from behind (for this one fight, attacking from behind means that the one attacked should be treated as though he’s blind.) Finally, add ranged (archers and/or spellcasters) who will remain in the rear and fire onto the players, with the players unable to fight back without looking.

Once all the PCs in front of the basilisks are dead or petrified, it seems likely that the basilisks will forget their training, turn around and start petrifying indiscriminately. A few of the enemies will be carrying mirrors, and they’ll use an action to take them and brandish them when it becomes necessary.

Puzzle

The garden is being corrupted by evil. They have to find pieces of each of the basic elements of the garden that are a combination of that element and another one and bring them to the element’s shrine to strengthen that element. They cannot use the same item for both

(In other words, there is a shrine of each element (air, earth, fire, water) at each corner of the garden, and they have to bring to the air shrine something that is composed of both air and earth, something that is composed of both air and fire, and something that is composed of both air and water. They have to do similar for each shrine.)

In order to split the players up, each shrine has to have one token before any shrine has its second, and the same for the third element. In order to reduce the amount of time this puzzle will take, I would leave out one of the shrines, probably fire (although the shrines will need that element combined with their own element.)

Finally, each player is given an orb in which they can capture a moment, thereby allowing the use of non-physical items to be used as tokens (you’ll see what I mean in the examples below.) (I was considering saying that the garden was frozen in time to prevent its corruption until it could be healed. This would go well with that.)

I would like to remind readers that this is just my idea. They should feel free to substitute a puzzle that fits their game plot instead. The main idea is a puzzle that forces the players to separate, and the truth is this could be done by giving a time limit without a puzzle. (The players are told which orbs to put in each corner, for example.)

Combinations

Air & earth

  • Leaves blowing about their faces
  • The scent of flowers wafting through the air
  • A butterfly leaving its cocoon
  • Dandelions
  • The howl of wind moving between cliffs
  • Metal wind chimes

Air & fire

  • Lightning
  • Starlight
  • Fireflies
  • Incense
  • The phoenix (perhaps a picture of)

Air & water

  • Raindrops
  • Dew
  • Spray off fountain
  • Sailboats (I suggest as decoration along rim of fountain)
  • Dragonflies

Earth & fire

  • Stones warmed in sun
  • Coal
  • Fire ants
  • Gems or glass reflecting sunlight (I suggest as decoration of fountain)
  • Poisonous snake, brightly colored

Earth & water

  • Moss
  • Grapes
  • Pottery
  • Cactus
  • Smooth river stones
  • Blood or decomposing animal

Fire & water

  • Rainbow
  • Acid
  • Geyser or hot spring
  • Cooked fish
  • Fire lilies


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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.

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