Dragon Encounters

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


QUASIT & Making Familiars and Other NPCs Interesting

minions/allies

Combat rating 1

 

1 Quasit (CR 1)

1 Grey ooze (CR 1/2)

 

Combat rating 2

 

1 Quasit (CR 1)

3 Shadows (CR 1/2)

 

Combat rating 3

 

1 Quasit (CR 1)

2 Ghouls (CR 1)

 

Combat rating 3

 

2 Quasits (CR 1)

3 Needle blights (CR 1/4)

1 Vine blight (CR 1/2)

1 Yuan-ti pureblood (CR 1)

 

How to Use – Warlock Familiar

Before we get into uses for this monster as an enemy, I’m going to start with how to use the quasit as an ally. Specifically, how it can be used when it’s playing the role of a warlock’s familiar.

Anyone reading this article knows that warlocks have a few special choices when selecting their familiar. Many, probably most, people think of familiars as just a number of new abilities that come in a package. While this probably is the main point of a familiar, you are also adding a new character to your party, and they come with their own character traits.

 You don’t want to overuse this feature. The players and their characters deserve the spotlight, and one of the worst mistakes a DM can make comes when they place a character of their own into the party. (Since the DM is already running the show, their character knows anything of importance, always makes the right call, and quickly ends up running the show.} But the occasional light touch can add a nice touch of personality to the game, and liven up the world.

Personal Story: I came to this realization as a player. I was playing a ranger beastmaster. We were hiding in the trees to avoid notice from the enemies, and since my leopard beast companion couldn’t do that, one of the other players pushed for me to leave the leopard behind. A short time later, that PC happened to be passing near my leopard, and the DM narrated how the leopard laid back his ears and growled at the PC. (He afterwards apologized for controlling my character, but I thought it was great. Had I done it, I would have just been seen as holding a grudge. He made my beast companion come alive.)

Before we get into specific ideas for how to use the quasit, let me give a quick list suggested rules that I would recommend with all familiars, beast companions, and NPC allies in general. (If a quest revolves around an NPC, you can use that NPC a little bit more, but they should still take backstage to the PCs. Furthermore, I would suggest making such a quest a short one. Either that, or having them separate, or become separated, from the NPC midway through. The overall goal being not having them spend too much time with the NPC.)  

  • Give the ally a brief chance to speak, but only about once a session. [The first session or two that he’s with you he can have a little bit more time, as he’s new and exciting, but only a little bit more.]
  • By far the best time for the ally to voice an opinion is before the players start discussing it. Do it afterwards, and it looks as though you’re taking sides. My ideal would be for the NPC to provide new information, either in the form of something he noticed or something he remembered, and give an opinion to go with it. [You’ll obviously have to make clear what’s the new information and what’s the opinion.]
  • I would suggest that the NPC be right at least one third of the time, and wrong at least one third. (The remaining third can be set either way, or split down the middle. I said thirds to give you some flexibility.)
  • While advice is acceptable, compliments are almost always welcome. [Requests are okay, but they tend to be time consuming. See next paragraph.]
  • If you decide to let them do something that will have consequences for the party, keep those consequences mild. They should never save the day. If they’re causing problems, the problems should be solvable fairly quickly. Familiars and beast companions are given to the character as part of their powers, and it’s unfair to impose a penalty on them for it. [With other NPCs you have a little more slack, but the players will quickly come to dislike them if they make too much trouble.]
  • If these actions affect the willingness of other NPCs to help them, or involve the NPC themselves being reluctant to help them, have a plan beforehand for how they can persuade the NPC, and how they should proceed if they can’t persuade them. Going in without a plan will very likely end with the players arguing back and forth with the NPC until one side gives up in frustration.

Quasit as a Familiar

Let’s move on to the types of problems and help a quasit in particular will bring to the party.

Advice: The quasit will be prone to solving all its problems with violence. That does not mean that you should just have it suggest killing any time they meet someone. That will just get ignored. Rather, let’s say that its instincts for when a person or situation will be bad for its master are often quite good.

Most of the time, if the quasit advocates violence, there will be at least some benefit to it for the warlock. The problem is that not all the times is violence the best way to solve the problem. Often, it creates worse ones. Also, the quasit won’t be able to point to how it knew that the person was lying, it just suspected it and might have been wrong.

Scouting: The bond between a mage and a familiar is limited to thirty feet. It is possible to instruct the familiar to go further and scout out, then report back, it juts leaves the familiar under their own agency. While the quasit will follow orders given, and answer questions truthfully, its focus will be on opportunities for violence, and information that it volunteers will be with that in mind. Also, the quasit is pretty stupid [compared to the imp and the sprite.]

Volunteer: If you want, you could have the quasit volunteer in a situation where the players need a distraction. The quasit will obviously try to achieve this distraction by killing where possible, and by destruction when not. This can cause trouble for the players should fire spread, poisonous liquids or gasses get spilled, and valuable objects or documents get destroyed. Also, in a heist or diplomatic situation, where the players might want to keep their actions at least somewhat undercover, the quasit’s destructive methods can have long term consequences.

Pranks: (As mentioned above, keep these infrequent and keep the consequences slight.) The quasit might use its shapechanging abilities to freak out NPCs [bat or centipede form] or gross them out [centipede or toad form]. This can result in the having to request help from a less ideal NPC, having to provide an incentive to the previous NPC [expensive gift or favor. You might consider foreshadowing that the NPC has a need beforehand, and maybe the players will think to provide help themselves. Even if you have to provide the request, foreshadowing is still useful.

A third possibility is that the NPC’s refusal sparks consequences. It isn’t something that needs to be overcome, rather it changes the story somehow. Example 1: An NPC who refuses to enter the cave because of the bat, and thereby gets kidnapped [long term plot twist], held hostage [meaning that they come out of the gave to see the NPC with a knife to its throat. Short encounter] or that they’re just forced to clear the cave without the benefit of that NPC mage.

Example 2: The NPC is bothered by the toad/centipede and storms out. Now they’ll have to complete the quest without the information, or find some way to steal/embezzle it from the NPC instead of just obtaining it via favor. Also, you’ll have an NPC that dislikes the party in your pocket for later use.

Quasit as a spy.  Combat Encounter 1: (Difficulty 1-2)

With the quasit’s invisibility, it will be sent to sneak in after the PCs to let the enemy reinforcements know where to come. Alternatively, it will follow the PCs in order to use scare and/or impose the poisoned condition at the worst possible times.

Below are a number of ways in which the PCs can find out that they’re being followed. [As always, I’m providing solutions because you need to provide the materials they can form the solutions out of.]

  • Like any creature, the quasit doesn’t choose to be constantly flying. It will rest on high shelves/ledges/perches. If there are any objects there, it is possible that the quasit will accidently dislodge it. [This is also a good way to let them know about the quasit following them in the first place.]
  • Throwing dust into the air is a favorite way to detect invisibility, as you can see the creature’s outlines in the dust. Ashes will work just as well, if you prefer to provide those. [Some spells might achieve this also.]
  • Obstacles by the entrances, such as curtains, should work fine. (It helps that the quasit is stupid.) A shut door or window, which the quasit will have to nudge open, will also work. So would large branches with lots and lots of twigs. This last one can also be used to wave it through the air suddenly and hope it hits a target.
  • An astute NPC can also feel the wind of the quasit’s passage. [Perhaps if think to take a perception action to feel around for it. Alternatively, if they think to ready an action to try to swat it if they feel it near.]

Quasit as an enemy. Combat Encounter 2: (difficulty 2)

The quasit is best used when the players have to accomplish a task and the quasits are blocking them. One idea would be a measurement puzzle. You’ve probably heard of these puzzles. They’re the ones where you’re told that you have to measure exactly five cups/ounces/other liquid measure, and the only measurements available are one that holds four and one that holds seven.

You can find a few of the puzzles here. You’ll need to scroll about halfway down the page until you come to puzzles with the title Measure [number] Liters. There are eight of them, all together. The picture is of two measuring bowls, but they are not the only ones using that picture.

While these puzzles generally use small liquid measurements, in this case I would use larger sizes. If you live in the United States, that would be gallons, or even barrels. Europe doesn’t use gallons, of course, but they do use barrels regarding oil trading, and barrels have a medieval sound to them, which is always nice in D&D. (You could theoretically use units of ten liters, as in present the above puzzle as having the measure exactly fifty liters, and the only measures hold forty and seventy, but I worry that your players will find it confusing.)

The reason that I want large measurements is so that the quasit will have multiple chances to sneak attack your players. These puzzles typically contain a number of steps to solve [the above puzzle needs eight], and after they figure out the solution they’ll need to figure out which PCs have the strength to lug around a measure of four to seven gallons, and how to divvy up the PCs.

You’ll also need a time limit, so that they will divvy up the PCs instead of playing slow, safe, and boring. Perhaps that they take an amount of damage every ten rounds. Or perhaps a few monsters get summoned to attack them every few rounds. [Unlike in normal situations, in taking ten rounds is not unlikely here, and I’m not charging them any of the time it will take them to figure out the puzzle.] If using monsters, I’d suggest 2-4 skeletons and another quasit. The quasit gets to turn invisible and move away before they roll for initiative.

The last element I would add to the challenge is that I would have the liquid being measured be something poisonous that will release a cloud of gas if spilled, or an acid that will eat away at part of the floor. This way, if the quasit makes them spill, it’s more than just an inconvenience or wasted time. It also means they’ll have to be careful throwing around area-of-effect spells.

If you want to make this harder, give them two measurement puzzles. You can say that one set of measuring vessels is safe for one substance and the other one is safe for the other. You could even give them three puzzles, and tell them that they only have to do two of them. This way, if they don’t solve one puzzle, they’re still okay, and if they solve all three, they can figure out which two are easiest for their characters to carry out.

A different way to do it is to give them a ritual spell that takes three rounds. Each time they cast it, they will be told either the first step, the next step, or where they went wrong. Whichever is most relevant. (In suggesting this idea, I’m assuming that you’re using a timer.)

 If the puzzle is just guarding a treasure, not something that they have to pass to continue, then you don’t need to provide extra puzzles or a cheat method. They can just choose not to go this way.

When using different containers for different puzzles, the containers should be marked. Figuring out which container is which isn’t part of the puzzle. (If they do use the wrong containers, either have part of the liquid dissolve into gas, or have the container melt/spring a leak, and provide spare containers on the shelves. The spare containers are obviously only the sizes they already had.)

[NOTE: as not every player likes these puzzles, and as you don’t want half or more of your table to sit around waiting for the player who does like them to finish, I would provide a few rooms that need to be cleared. This will be one of them, and the others can by anything. Normal D&D has a fair amount of downtime, and this way the player[s] who like these puzzles can have fun solving them while every else has fun doing something else. You’ll also want to make it possible for players to change where they sit relative to other players for this.]

Quasit in the way. Combat Encounter 3: (difficulty 3)

Another idea is a scenario where they have to make their way through an enemy base type dungeon. At some point, they get spotted, and they have to dash to the end before the enemy builds up enough forces to stop them.

When running this, be prepared for a few places where a half-dozen or so enemies catch up to them, and they have to fight their way clear. Another possibility, 1-2 enemies joining the fight every round of battle. Also be prepared for a possibility that they might fail. (I discussed chase scenes toward the end of my chasme article.)

Inside a fortress, I would place doors that they can lock/jam [of course, if the door is locked when they come then they have to get through without destroying it if they want to use it this way. Alternatively, they can fill the doorways with something else.] Also, staircases that they can destroy behind them, archways and narrow passages they can block, and anything else you can think of.

The quasit, with its scare ability, is waiting to block them at a crucial intersection. It will only affect one PC, but most parties don’t really want to leave one PC behind. [If that doesn’t work, you can use it to afflict PCs with poison just when there’s a heavy door they have to break down, an area they have to jump, a wall they have to climb, etc.]

Once it has the PC scared, it will sit on top of a statue. I suggest making the statue hard to climb, tall, providing partial cover from ranged attacks, and with some kind of spikes at its base. It won’t slow the party down long, but it will do something.

Incidentally, if the statue is relevant to the campaign story, having to climb it to chase down a quasit is a pretty good way to draw attention to it and make it memorable, with or without the chase scene.

Quasit swarm. Combat Encounter 4: (difficulty 3)

If you use multiple quasits, you can place a room with several levers spaced out along the various walls. I would suggest that they’re charging something, and that every so often a lever starts wobbling, or light up or something, letting them know that they have to pull it down by the end of next round or something bad will happen. [Most probably, that steam will blow into the room and they’ll all take damage.] They’ll win automatically at the end of ten rounds, assuming they’re still alive.

There are multiple quasits flying around, and they’ll need to keep adjusting who pulls the levers based on who is available and who can’t go there because of scare. They’ll also be figuring out who should be pulling the levers based on who they want to have fighting the quasits [pulling the levers probably takes an action] and remaining HP, if going to pull a lever leaves someone vulnerable.

Quasits killed do not get replaced. The more they manage to kill, the easier the scenario becomes. If you want to increase the difficulty, increase the number of levers that need pulling as the fight continues, and let them know this will happen at the beginning, so that they’ll feel a sense of urgency to get rid of the quasits.

You’ll need to mark the quasits somehow, and to put symbols on/near the PC figurine that was scared by the quasit. If this is unworkable, near the player controlling that PC, and have the symbol be large and noticeable. You’ll also want to have a copy of the map behind your DM screen, so as to keep track of quasits that are invisible (Necessary for area of effect spells).

If you use multiple quasits for any of the other encounters, this advice is applicable there as well.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

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.

Newsletter