Dragon Encounters

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


VROCK: Harrying Attackers and Treasure Raiders

minions/allies

 

Combat rating 8

 

1 Vrock (CR 6)

2 Ghasts (CR 2)

1 Harpy (CR 1)

2 Ogre Zombies (CR 2)

 

Combat rating 9

 

1 Vrock (CR 6)

1 Gnoll fang of Yeenoghu (CR 4)

2 Hell hounds (CR 2)

 

Combat rating 11

 

1 Vrock (CR 6)

5 Ogres (CR 2)

1-2 Ochre Jellies (CR 2)

1 Otyugh (CR 5)

 

Combat rating 12

 

1 Vrock (CR 6)

1 Spectator (CR 3)

2 Minotaurs (CR 3)

3 Mummies (CR 3)

1 Wraith (CR 5)

 

How to Use – Combat Encounter 1 (difficulty 6)

Let’s start with basic strategy. The vrock will perch on a high peak, or other high point, and whenever its spores are available it will fly just low enough to use them before flying back up.

This should really be enough, and would probably be the most effective strategy it could use, but it is a demon, and one with low intelligence to boot. Let’s say that if it sees a chance to catch one of the PCs by themselves it will take advantage of the chance.

(By themselves meaning that the other PCs are at least a certain number of feet away. I would say fifty, but if this doesn’t happen you can go down to thirty. Obviously, other forms of by themselves also count, such as on the other side of a door. I’m not certain if the vrock is familiar with ranged weapons and/or spells, and I’d say that it depends on the individual vrock. In other words, you decide.)

This will allow the players to come up with ways to trick it and ambush it. The vrock is fairly dumb, so most tricks will probably work, provided they are at least somewhat sensible. That said, the same trick won’t work twice, unless perhaps if it’s played in a completely different manner. Vrock’s are dumb, but they have some intelligence.

Stunning screech is the vrock’s single-use get out of jail free card, which it will use the first time it’s grappled, or immobilized by a spell.

The players might try to climb up to the vrock’s perch, in order to attack it there. Before running the encounter, you should decide the height, the difficulty of the climb, and whether the vrock has only one perch to choose from or whether there are multiple high points in the vicinity. The vrock might use stunning screech when they are about to reach it, just for the pleasure of knocking them down.

Combat encounter 2 (difficulty 8)

In this encounter, the players are in a flat valley, or a very big room. In order to activate the ritual, or open the treasure chests, or something else along those lines, they have to move three large, heavy objects into position in various places. More detail below.

Because these chests will often take several PCs to move, and/or leave the PCs moving them somewhat vulnerable to attacks [forcing the remaining players to stand nearby to guard them], this will cause to spores to hit all/most of them each time, or at least many of them. If they stand further away to prevent this, the vrock will have an opportunity to attack with its beak and talons, especially as the ones carrying the heavy object will be slow to respond, by necessity.

Realize that it’s possible that they will try to target the vrock by trickery or climbing to its perch, like in the previous encounter. It is less likely, since their attention will be drawn to the challenge and there is a good chance they won’t think of doing this, and you don’t have to make the vrock be tricked quite as easily in this scenario.

If you want to make sure they don’t solve the challenge by defeating the vrock, have the area be corrupted by Abyss energies, so that the vrock will return if they kill it. I do think that killing the vrock should net them some gain, so I would suggest that any time they kill it they have two three rounds until the vrock returns, and they each heal about 10-15 HP. If you’re doing this, finishing the challenge probably banishes the vrock.

Regarding the objects, I would suggest that each PC has a strength score of 3 plus STR modifier, that the chests take six strength to carry, and that carrying them with less than nine strength leave the ones carrying it vulnerable. Attacks against them have advantage. Alternatively, attacks against them have + X to hit, where X is the amount by which their strength is less than nine plus one. (For example: if their strength is seven, attacks against them have +3 to hit.) If they attack while carrying the object, they have disadvantage or -X to hit.

 If multiple PCs are carrying the object together, combine their strength score. Finally, anybody that is carrying a chest one-handed has one less strength.

To be clear, this is not the official STR score of the game. I created this strength score to give you some idea of what they can carry, rather than requiring two people to carry an object, regardless of STR. You might not want to share it with them, as it will seem more real if you use description, and in my experience with players don’t have the patience for such complicated rules. (If you also find them too complicated, you don’t have to use them. I wrote them for whoever wanted them.)

These rules are for basic carrying, across flat terrain. For extra challenge, add some of these elements to the challenge. [All of these challenges can be made considerably easier if they have a rope and there’s a place to tie it to, or even if they just have a rope that they can tie around the chest. Decide if you want to provide a rope and a handle, just a rope, or neither. If you do provide a rope, the vrock may very well attack it at inopportune moments, so decide how much rope they have.)

  • The chest starts underwater, at the bottom of a pool. The pool doesn’t need to be deep; 10-15 feet is plenty. They need to find a way to bring it out of the pool, which might require passing it from hand to hand [if nobody has the stamina to take it all the way out while holding their breath]. Getting it out of the pool might also be difficult, if the edge of the pool doesn’t slop gradually. They might need another PC to receive it. [It will have more weight out of water, and they’re unlikely to have good leverage.]
  • The chest needs to be carried up or down a cliff face, or across a chasm. Even if the chasm is only five feet it’s a problem, as they can’t exactly jump while holding it.
  • A heavy door or portcullis that needs to be held open. While they can do it, doing so will take one more PC out of combat readiness, and cause them to cluster together when they pass him. Of course, it’s possibly that they’ll find a way to wedge it open.
  • The path to the final point has precipices and one or both sides. While not an obstacle in itself, it makes it easier for the vrock to attack them, harder for the other PCs to defend them, and it increases the stakes if one of them, or the object, should fall. [Falling should not be instant death, it should cost them HP and leave them with the difficulty of getting back up.]
  • Rubble or ice. Shifting rubble, or moving too fast on ice, can require a DEX save. If one of them falls, they all fall, or at least drop the object. It’s possible that the object will keep moving, and land further out of their reach.
  • A low wall blocks their way. They could easily climb over, but not while carrying the object. They can put the object on top of the wall while they go around, and you can have the vrock decide to push it off onto the far side.

Combat Encounter 3. Treasure Raiders: (difficulty 7)

The players defeat an encounter, solve a puzzle, or otherwise succeed in an accomplishment, and unlock the enemies’ treasury. Considerable money is lying around. (You’ll have to decide how much you’re willing to give them, but I would try to reduce the treasure for a few games before and/or after in order for this room to contain the value they would normally earn over multiple games.)

As they arrive, so do about three vrocks. The Monster Manual tells us that vrocks also collect treasure, and so these vrocks choose to ignore fighting the PCs in favor of claiming their treasure.

I would divide the treasure up into about twenty different parts. The parts don’t need to be divided evenly, not do they all need to be identical. You can use bags of money, precious gems set into decorative armor, and/or figurines spun out of gold, for example.

The treasure claimed by the vrocks will not be easily reclaimed by the players. You could have them open a temporary portal to the Abyss, which they drop the treasure through. You could have them deposit the treasure at the top of nearby peak/rooftop. [This would require that it not be a treasury, but some other collection of money. Perhaps they defeated raiders, carrying considerable money.] Have an extra vrock be waiting there, guarding the treasure they collect, and if that vrock sees that the others are defeated it puts the money together and flies off with it.

For a third idea, have the vrocks put all the money they take into bags fixed to their ankles. Establish beforehand, in a previous encounter, that when you kill a fiend it takes anything that it’s holding back to the lower planes with it. [You establish this by having a different encounter, also with a fiend holding something that they want.]

The players will have to decide on their course of action. They could race the vrocks for the money, collecting as much of it as they can before it all finishes. [Although if they wait until it finishes, the vrocks will likely attack them once the money is done with.] They could attack some or all of the vrocks, although attacking all might get them into a fight that they’ll be hard pressed to win.

If they attack 1-2 of the vrocks, they might pull those ones away from collecting money while the remaining ones who weren’t attacked keep busy and don’t attack them. On the other hand, then they’ll have to find some way to stall the vrocks attacking while they collect the money, or else lose all the treasure.

[Hint: they won’t choose to lose the treasure. They won’t even choose to lose any of the treasure, if they don’t absolutely have to.]

Note: The inspiration for this scenario came from one of those games that set themselves up to be like D&D, but without a DM. (Examples: Descent, Swords and Sorcery, Gloomhaven, Mice & Mystics.) Instead, you use a scenario booklet, with cards that you flip to know what the monsters will do each turn.

When one of the cards flipped, it showed that the monsters would spend the next turn raiding the treasure. I still remember the cries of “NOOOO!” “Kill them! Kill them quick!” that rose from everyone at the table. Had the cards revealed a super powerful attack, if wouldn’t have been met with such chagrin. Over here, I’m trying to bring that moment into D&D.



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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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