Dragon Encounters

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


ERINYES: Liar, House on Fire

minions/allies

Combat rating 15

 

1 Erinyes (CR 12)

2 Cambions (CR 5)

1 Succubus/Incubus (CR 4)

 

Combat rating 17

 

1 Erinyes (CR 12)

2 Grey slaads (CR 9)

 

Combat rating 20

 

1 Erinyes (CR 12)

2 Chimeras (CR 6)

3 Fire giants (CR 9)

 

Combat rating 21

 

1 Erinyes (CR 12)

1 Beholder (CR 13)

2 Nycaloths (CR 9)

 

How to Use – Corrupter

As the only devils to not look obviously evil, I would imagine that they get the job of convincing important mortals to trade their souls and otherwise bargain with the hells. (Run of the mill devils will be approached by imps, the hell’s errand boys. Succubae and/or rakshasas would be even better choices, but the flavor text of each makes it seem like neither would agree to serve this role.)

If you want to have one of them be pretending to be an angel, I would suggest that you decide that it has been active in the region for quite some time. This way, the players can first learn about the “Angel” through NPCs sharing news. The first two rumors should be unqualified good, afterwards other rumors will speak of deeds that seem somewhat more questionable. They should be stories that could be explained one way or the other, and the NPCs in question shouldn’t push for one interpretation or the other. At most, they can agree with the player’s suggestion as to the reason after being asked.

Examples could include:

  • Someone killed by the erinyes after being caught stealing, or some other crime that doesn’t neem to deserve such a penalty, and possibly accounts of the erinyes being not helping the family with the poverty that they’re now suffering. But not someone killed for a crime that definitely doesn’t deserve the penalty, or the family being straight out punished for one member’s misdeeds.
  • Something being done for the overall good. For example: A home being demolished in order to clear the area for the city wall, or the goods of a merchant being confiscated to meet a need. In both cases, it should not be something that could easily be avoided. The specific area of the home was needed, the merchant’s goods were not something that could easily be obtained elsewhere, nor could they afford to pay.
  • Indifference, or near indifference, to the needs of others. An aggressive dog being killed, without an attempt to have its owner calm it; A child’s toy being destroyed; The requests of a beggar being ignored or not dealt with properly.

You’ll have to use balance, to not present too many stories where the “Angel” acted badly, or at least to balance them out with other stories where it acted okay. Also, to balance it out how repugnant its behavior should seem.

When the erinyes finally approaches them, I would have it give immediate orders to them, and refuse to discuss anything it detail. If they want a few pieces of quest-relevant information, that’s okay, but it doesn’t have time for long discussions. (Honestly, this is a great way to run NPCs in general.)

I’ve already written about corrupting and betraying PCs here. The only thing I’ll add is that the erinyes is more likely to send them on a quest than to accompany them on a quest, it being too important and too powerful for that. If it wants to corrupt them, then the quest will seem completely legit/good until they are committed, and then start to demand questionable actions. Only toward the end will you want to reveal that the quest itself might not be legit.

Erinyes Battle Tactics

My original plan for the erinyes was to focus on its ranged attacks. Its melee only does 1-2 extra points of damage a round, and even with parry, that doesn’t make it worth suffering even one melee attack it could avoid. Not to mention it being able inflict the poisoned condition with its bow. You can still read the original idea, [it will be my last combat encounter,] but finding out that the erinyes are the furies of Greek legend made me reconsider my approach. Cupid style doesn’t seem to fit the erinyes.

We’ll say that using its sword is a personal preference, to make up for the fact that it makes so little sense tactically. It will use its bow at the beginning of the combat, but for no more than one or two rounds.

In your standard battle, I would suggest that you contrive to have it start for away, perhaps at the edge of its 150-foot range. If the players have flying capability, and you expect them to go after it, you can put it even further out, so that by the time it enters range of its first turn it’s out of movement. This way it’s using its bow only because it has no better option, being too far away to use its sword. I would add that the erinyes hunts down enemies, it doesn’t do guard duty.

Combat Encounter 1 (difficulty 13)

The PCs are on the top floor of a large house. Ideally, you would bring them here as part of the plot. Perhaps this is the home of an important villain, and the players came here in pursuit of him. If you need to, however, you can have the erinyes plant false clues to lead them here.

However they came to be here, you’ll want to contrive to keep them upstairs for a reasonable amount of time. If the top floor belongs to the villain, it will take them time to fight him or talk to him. If the erinyes lured them here, you can place a preliminary fight to occupy them, a treasure that is hard to remove, or both.

While this is taking place, the erinyes will be busy setting fire to the floors under them. While the erinyes doesn’t have fire attacks, any medieval home has at least one fireplace, as that was how they cooked. The erinyes is immune to fire, and presumably knows at least something of how to spread a fire. A rich home has rugs, tapestries, and oil, and even a poor home has bedding. The erinyes may also weaken the home’s support beams, so that the floor will start to collapse as the fight takes place. I should mention that it doesn’t take all that long for a fire to spread.

Once the erinyes judges that the fire is ready, it will leave the house and fly up to them. The first turn, it will fly past the window fast, hopefully taking the party by surprise, thereby allowing it to make three surprise attacks with its bow, targeting three separate targets. The second time, it will draw its sword, and come in with a vengeance, as benefits a dark angel of the hells. [Technically, it would be better off attacking with its bow for two rounds. I let it slide for thematic reasons. If it didn’t have surprise, I would make a second round of ranged attacks.]

A lot of the erinyes/fury depends of narration. You’ll want to describe how it brings down its sword in a series of blinding blows that the PC has to do everything he can to parry. The fact that the erinyes has three attacks, the fact that the poisoned condition will let most of them land, and the fact that the Erinyes will preform a reaction each round [parry] will all help, but ultimately it’s up to your narration skills.

To keep the fight from going stale, I would suggest that the Erinyes picks an opponent whose footing is becoming precarious. The first time it chooses a target is before the fire is truly upon them. As a result, the PC in question is probably all right for one round, but will have to make a save on the erinyes’s second turn to avoid putting his foot through the floor. (Restricting his movment next turn, damaging him, and/or increasing the erinyes’ chance to hit.) If he’s still there on the third round, he’ll automatically step through the floor.

Later on, you can start with the second stage, and eventually you’ll be able to start from the third stage. Other effects of standing in the wrong place can include (to introduce variation):

  • The floor breaking under him knocks him prone. (If you homebrew, this could give the erinyes an extra attack this one time, give the erinyes increased chances of hitting even if it already had advantage, let the erinyes do extra damage on a hit, or result in the erinyes automatically missing, caught by surprise at the fall. If you don’t want to homebrew, just narrate the above ideas into your narration of the erinyes’s attacks.)
  • The floor under them is heating up. So long as they stay there, they’ll take automatic fire damage.
  • Eventually, the floor giving under their feet completely, causing the PC in question to fall into the burning room below.

The smoke will also be making problems, inflicting disadvantage due to coughing, and applying the suffocation rules to the combat, and lowering visibility.

Keep in mind that any time the floorboards break, it weakens the adjacent floorboards, and allows flame into the room. If the fight lasts long enough, you might want to include other places where the floor is weakening, and eventually burning obstacles that make movement difficult.

In addition to these obstacles, the erinyes can use one of its attacks every 2-3 rounds to “Attack” the room in one of the ways presented below. Since these are attacks, they won’t waste the erinyes’s turn the way grappling or pushing would, and they’ll add difficulty and variety.

  • The erinyes attacks the floor at a PC’s feet. This can help an already weakened floor collapse further, triggering one of the effects of the floor breaking mentioned above, and letting the fire spread further.
  • The erinyes smashes a section of the wall, thereby ventilating the area and causing any flames in the room to spread faster, and perhaps to do damage to people near those flames.
  • The erinyes cuts down a tapestry so the it falls onto/over a PC. I would suggest a DEX save, if the player fails it will fall over him and he’ll have to spend a bonus action to get it off him. Until he does, he’ll be blinded and restrained, and there is a good chance that it will catch fire, at which point it will do fire damage and take a full action to remove.
  • The erinyes leaves the room and descends onto the roof, causing a section of it to collapse and possibly knock prone and pin down the PCs standing under it. This move will take the erniyes’s full turn.
  • While not an attack, the erinyes moving through furniture may well also change the shape of the room, provide fuel to the fire, and possibly even knock a PC out of the way. The last will be the natural effect of having a table pushed into you.

Keep in mind that even when the win the fight, they’ll still have to escape the house.

Combat Encounter 2 (difficulty 15)

A different thing the erinyes might try is to use its Rope of Restraint to lasso a specific PC and carry him/her up to the top of a nearby building, where it can finish them off without interference from the other PCs. I would have the building already be on fire, to slow the other players who are coming to the rescue.

You could have its plan be to repeat this move until it kills all of the PCs, one at a time. I feel it will be more dramatic, though, if you can come up with a reason why the Hells want this specific PC dead. If you’re targeting the party leader, that’s easy. [D&D parties don’t tend to have a designated leader, though.] Otherwise, I would look for a PC that accomplished something specific. Perhaps the PC that finished off a previous boss [the one that got in the final blow], perhaps the one to destroy a spell or item, or perhaps the one currently carrying a certain spell or item.

[You don’t want to make a certain PC be more integral to the quest than the others, the way many fantasy books do, because every player deserves to have their character share the importance equally. Doing otherwise tends to cause frustration and resentment.]

I will also note that you probably don’t want to target a spellcaster. Some of their options will let them end the fight in one turn (Polymorph, Banishment) some will let them escape too easily (Teleport, Gaseous Form) and if they don’t manage to pull these off, the chances are that they’ll be killed very quickly and easily.

You don’t have to put anything special onto the roof. You might want to put a pile or two of rocks, or other obstacles that the PC can use to dodge around or hide behind. To prevent them from jumping off the roof, you could have the rope remain attached to him, perhaps throwing the other end over a chimney or something like that. If you have any other devils on the roof [see below] you could have them tie it off.

If you think it might work, you can have the Erinyes release the PC when they reach the roof, so as to give them a “Fair” chance to fight back. It will also warn them that they can’t leave, and if they try it will simply grapple them and pull them back up, and this time it won’t release the rope.

An alternative idea to this scenario is to lock them into a cage that’s on fire. Perhaps with 1-2 bearded devils or barbed devils to guard them. In this scenario, the erinyes spends its attention on preventing the other players from mounting a rescue.

The other players will be rushing up to help. They have two options, climbing the outside of the building or climbing the inside.

On the outside, they will have the problem of climbing up three stories. I’m pretty certain that this should take two turns, and two skill challenges [climb] each, with a failure on either knocking them down to the ground.

Challenges while climbing: The Erinyes might have pried some stones loose [although this might only work on modern building, where extra stones are placed on the outside for decoration. I doubt they did that in medieval times, although I don’t know.]

I would probably use an automatic perception check to see if they notice it, then a DEX save if they don’t, to avoid falling once it slips out under them. [I wouldn’t use passive perception, as then some PCs will miss almost all of them and some PCs will spot almost all of them.] I would set the perception check low, and the DEX save high. The fire might also cause some stones to be loose.

Some parts of the wall might be too hot to climb, especially the areas right next to the windows.

Put some piles of rocks on the top. It is possible that the Erinyes can use one of its attacks to push a pile of rocks down onto the PCs [automatic damage, plus a DEX save to avoid falling.] I could argue that this is a form of attacking, and that since the multiattack only says that the Erinyes makes three attacks, it doesn’t specify the types of attacks, that this type of attack is also fair. [Yes, I’m rule lawyering.]

If you don’t want to use this interpretation, or to homebrew this into the erinyes’s statblock, you can either have the piles be bound up with rope which the Erinyes can cut as an attack action, or you can put a few other devils on the roof to push the rocks off.

You can increase the difficulty a lot by adding 1-3 other devils on the roof to stop the PCs from climbing up. Bearded devils can use the reach of their glaives to push the PCs back, causing them to lose their balance. Barbed devils can rain fire down onto them. [These devils won’t join in to help the Erinyes fight the captured PC. The Erinyes doesn’t feel that it needs them.]

If you use the cage idea, you free up the Erinyes to rain arrows down onto them as they climb. I would suggest that being hit with an arrow should force a concentration save to avoid losing their balance and falling as a result.

Challenges on the inside of the building:

  • Rooms where the furniture, and perhaps the walls, are all on fire.
  • Places where the floor has been weakened by the flames, and is no longer safe to walk on. These places can be easily noticeable, or not noticeable until the ground opens up underfoot. This idea can also be combined with the last one.
  • A rule of basic fire safety that your players may or may not remember – feel at the door before opening it to see if the door is hot. If it is, then the other side is probably on fire. Not only is opening it useless, but the sudden inrush of air will cause the fire to flare up, giving the person who opened it the equivalent of a fireball to the face.
  • Stair supports may have been weakened by the fire or sabotaged by the Erinyes. Aside from the danger of falling it the players don’t notice, it will also cause difficulty climbing to the next floor.
  • Locked doors: Just opening the latches will be hard when the metal is red hot, and ramming the doors can cause parts of the house that are already weakened by the fire to collapse.
  • If you’re willing to use other devils, then a barricade with a barbed devil or bearded devil preventing climbing can be a truly lethal obstacle, especially is a house that is already on fire. The barricade will make it difficult to get past, and give them disadvantage due to bad footing while they’re standing on it. It will also prevent range attacks, and if wedged into a narrow hallway, may prevent passage for more than one at a time.

Don’t make getting up too difficult. Remember that the captured PC’s life is depending on these PCs reaching him.

These obstacles can also be used if the captured PC flees into the house.

Combat encounter 3: Obstacle course (difficulty 16)

The players come to a courtyard. The Erinyes meets them at the entrance. He tells them how he is an angel who was captured, and forced to kill anyone who tries to cross this courtyard. Only if someone reaches the far end will that person be allowed to claim the treasure, and the “Angel” will be freed.

There is a room at the far end that the erinyes will tell them to go for. According to the erinyes’s story, that room houses the treasure. In actuality, that room is built over a pit with logs at the bottom. Should a PC manage to enter that room, they’ll fall into the pit, and the erinyes will set the pit on fire.

But they have to reach the room first. Crossing the courtyard means getting past no less than three obstacles. After 2-3 rounds, the erinyes will start attacking, using 1 ranged attack the first 2-3 rounds, 2 for 2-3 rounds after that, and then all three. It might tell them that it will hold back as long as it can, but that it will be forced to use stronger and stronger attacks, but it won’t tell them its maximum. That way, even after it’s shooting three, the players will be worried about it going up to four.

[I was originally going to use have it use all its attacks from the beginning. I decided that this was a better idea, as it helps sell the lie that it’s on their side. Hopefully, that will dissuade them from attacking it.]

The courtyard is bordered by large buildings, perhaps warehouses. Each warehouse occupies about twenty feet of distance, then it opens up for twenty feet, which is where the first obstacle is, then it repeats. At the end of the third open area and obstacle is the entrance to the goal building. This design is meant, in part, so that if they climb up to attack the erinyes, it can simply fly further down, and they’ll have to climb down in order to continue.

You might also want to put some type of decorations or something on the roof, to give the erinyes at least partial cover against range attacks.

In regards to the obstacles, I have two possibilities. The first is place a stature at the center of each open area. As they reach the open area, the statue comes to life and attacks them. You can use whatever monsters you want, of course, but I’m thinking a giant for the first (fire, frost, or stone), a roper, and finally a hydra. [While the giant has the highest CR, it’s also the one that they can run past, or choose who it attacks. The others will in some ways be harder.]

If you want to use obstacles, I will suggest the following:

Obstacle 1: The area is crisscrossed with smooth, symmetrical tiles. The tiles are colored blue, red, and purple. Some of the tiles have arrows on them, colored blue or red. [With outlines, so that a blue arrow on a blue tile will be visible.]

If you step on a tile that has an arrow pointing to it, even from some distance away, then if its color matches the arrow, you’re good. If not, the tile rises 10 feet up into the air and stops there, forming an obstacle and forcing the PC on top to take falling damage when he wants to get off it. Purple tiles are for when both color arrows are pointing at a specific tile.

Obstacle 2: A wide, open pit with fire burning inside. There are round columns for them to jump to, each with an arrow pointing forward, backwards, or sideways. When they land on an arrow, the column turns around so that they are facing the direction that the arrow is pointing in. (The arrow itself never changes.) If they try to turn around while on a column, the column rotates as fast as they turn, so that they are always facing in that direction.

The columns are set up in a zig zag pattern. Think of it like rows, if you were to take out every other column, so that the closest columns are always diagonal to you. [The way a knight moves in chess, if you had the knight constantly advancing.] The idea is that this way, they’ll always have two places to jump to. (It is physically impossible to jump any distance backwards.)

When setting up this obstacle, make certain to provide multiple ways though. Then look through it again a second time to make sure you haven’t provided a way that’s too easy.

Other aspects of this obstacle: 1) If the arrow is forcing them to look away from the erinyes, they are effectively blinded as far as the erinyes is concerned, and should be treated accordingly.

2)Jumping multiple times in the same round is incredibly disorienting. [Multiple jumps, right after each other, without having a chance to reorient themselves. Remember that a round is six seconds!] I might require them to make a skill check [acrobatics] if they want to jump multiple times. The DC is five multiplied by the jumps they already made that round. The DC goes up by five if they just got turned around entirely, and down by five if the arrow didn’t change their direction. They should make it, if they don’t dash.

3) The entrance to the pit is low on the side they are coming from. They can exit the pit on that side fairly easily. The entrance on the far side is very high, and you might add a few spikes sticking sideways out of the wall, to prevent climbing.

4) You can add difficulty by preventing them from being able to see the arrows on columns more than 20 feet away from them. Once one of them sees an arrow, put it on the game board for all of them to see. This isn’t a memory game, and they’ll just start writing it down if you don’t.

An extra detail that I was considering adding to the obstacle. [Use it or not, as you want.] The is a wooden fence a little distance before the pit. This stops them from seeing what’s coming, and acts as an extra obstacle, and they’ll very possibly assume that’s what it’s there for. What it’s really there for is to give them an easier way over.

The planks of the fence or easy to disconnect, and can be tossed onto the columns. If a fence piece is placed onto a single column, it whirls around to face the right way, and the arrow appears on the part that’s on the column. It will only affect PCs that step onto that part of the plank, but as the plank isn’t anchored, and will tilt and fall in if they step on a different part.

The way it can help them is if they put a plank so that it lands on two different columns. [The planks are long enough.] If it gets placed so that one end is on an arrow facing forward or backwards, and the other arrow faces sideways, it twists to try to stay on both and ends up falling into the pit. But if it gets placed on two columns whose arrows are pointing in the same direction, or in opposite directions, then it stays still. [The plank has no front or back, and therefore it can lie in both those directions at once.] While the area above the column is affected by the arrow, the rest is perfectly usable with no conditions.

Keep in mind that the planks are wood and the area beneath is on fire. They probably only have 3-5 rounds from when they place a plank until it’s no longer usable, fire having eaten through it and weakened it too much.

Third obstacle: There are two rows of boulders on top of sticks ahead of them. The sticks are thin, and precariously balanced. If they run into one it will probably get knocked over, and drop its boulder.

There is room between the sticks, but not a lot. If they try to slip between, they’ll need to either make a skill check [acrobatics] or travel slowly, almost crawling. If they fail the skill check, the boulder drops, and they’ll need to make a DEX save to avoid it landing on them. If they crawl, they’ll lose most of their movement that turn, and they’ll be highly unlikely to avoid getting hit if one of the boulders should end up falling [because of a different PC, or because of the erinyes. See below.]

The ground rises between the second and third obstacles, which means that a dropped boulder will be a threat, and require a DEX save to dodge, to any PC behind them. If they decide to destroy the sticks and release the boulders from a distance, possibly with Fireball, they’ll end up with a whole bunch of boulders coming at them at once, which will be extremely difficult to dodge. To further prevent this, I would have the ground be narrower the further away they are from the final obstacle, and sloped in such a way that any boulders dropped will be funneled toward them.

If they are managing to get through the boulders, have the erinyes drop a few of them with its arrows. If they still think that the erinyes is good, you can have it be an “Accident”. It was trying to hit them, and this was a result of its attack missing.

Final Obstacle: Once they’re past the third obstacle, and approaching the room, I would have the erinyes drop to the ground with its sword drawn as the final obstacle. (If using statues coming to life, I wouldn’t do this. Since the entire challenge was fighting, adding an extra battle doesn’t feel like it adds that much. Over here, if feels like it is properly climatic.

Afterwards: Since the players were doing this because you promised a treasure at the end, you might want to put a treasure somewhere else in the vicinity. While the erinyes was lying, you are going to have some very upset players if you don’t, and it’s most probably not worth it. If you don’t put the treasure here, I suggest finding a different way to give them a major treasure not long afterwards.



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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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