Beacon of life

Hi all and welcome to Friday or as I like to think of it, FightNight!

As promised I couldn’t stay away from a healthy “ambush on the way back to Daye” and I think the theme and logic behind the ambush is quite fitting so let’s roll into it.

Ambush at the Old Oak


The party have settled down for the night about twenty miles out of Daye, the woods up ahead being too dangerous to travel at night. Katya has been reading from her book all day and the party cant help but notice the constant energy that is being emitted from her like warmth from a fire, and that’s what it is – its warmth, light and the essence of life. But this constant output of energy has taken a toll and Katya looks weakened, not quite feeble but tired and exhausted.

As the party clean up from their meals and organise watch a eerie rattle comes from the roads and plains around them. Those with darkvision or the ability to summon light would instantly see shambling, incoherent parade of the long dead being risen once more. Steeling themselves for battle they notice the first skeletons walk into the light of the fire where Katya’s passive aura of magic appears to be strongest and the dark magic binding their bones together seems to weaken as fingers, hands and even whole limbs fall off the moment they step upon the flower rich grass around the wagon.

Now the approach for this encounter is different and more to tell a story. Under normal circumstances a party of 4 level 3s (which is what I would assume them all to be after their ordeals in Bracken Hollow) the amount of skeletons in the horde is just immeasurable, I’m thinking between 80 and 100. But as this is explaining or showing off how powerful Katya could be (with training) and that her aura of life energy and magic flowing out of her like a radiant sun has the potential to bring new life and bounty to the land – it also can attract the darkness that walks at the edge of the light.

The mechanics!

A 30ft circle centred on Katya (the centre of the wagon) is treated as hallowed ground, The skeletons will have disadvantage on all attack and saving throws IF they are within the circle. The party, at initiative 20, get 1d4+2 Temporary hitpoints for being within the range of the circle.

The Skeletons are broken up into four ‘distinct’ hordes, the front of the wagon, the left flank of it, the back of the wagon and, you guessed it, the right flank of the wagon. Each horde has 20 skeletons on it (adjust to 25 if you’re party are blasting through them too easily) and consider the below.

  1. Each horde has a total of 100hp, yikes, which is 5hp per skeleton – they are weakened due to the magic after all.
    1. Every 5 points of damage dealt by the players (as Paul, Katya and Carline¬†won’t be fighting in this) will destroy another skeleton. So a dagger that manages to deal 7 points of damage which to a horde that has 67/100 hp remaining would kill two Skeletons – make sure to talk up how the party does it with one dagger.
    2. Each saving throw made by the Skeleton is made at disadvantage and assume that the AOE is all skeletons in a horde (or 50% in two hordes, 25% if it targets three hordes). Success is saving 50% of Skeletons, failure saves 10% of skeletons from the effect.
    3. IF the damage form the attack (burning hands) is enough to kill 1 skeleton assume all that failed die and then calculate damage to the horde as normal (burning hands dealt 6 damage, a big fail on on the dice roll, but it manages to kill 10 skeletons outright and then a further 5 due to the them succeeding but the damage being enough to kill another 5.
  2. When the Horde attacks Assume 2 hits the nearest party member to that horde for every 10 Skeletons. If the character has a particularly high AC then only 1 hits.
    1. Don’t roll attack rolls, just assume averages. It’s meant to feel overwhelming but the encounter is designed for the party to survive it.
    2. If two or more Party members are equally close to a horde who is attacking then roll a dice and randomly allocate where it makes logical sense. The 24 AC paladin with shield of faith and who took the dodge action probably wont get hit by skeletons…
    3. Since the Skeletons have a mixture of ranged weapons and melee weapons make sure to describe both – arrows bouncing off plate, rusty swords bending as they strike a exposed gauntlet, arrows finding the gap between pieces of armour or a rusted long sword (that’s now the size of a short sword due to the level of rust…) landing a grazing blow on an exposed forearm.
  3. When the horde thins enough (20%?) I would roll it into another horde.
  4. Have the horde(s) act on Initiative 13 (for flanks) and 10 for front and back.

If you are awarding experience points for your encounters at the end I would award 10% of the skeletons XP – they are nerfed pretty hard in this fight and are there to have a thematic “save the princess” moment for the party.

Thanks for joining me tonight, fighting with hordes can be quite a fun moment for the party – the never ending waves of goblins pouring through the opened great stone doors in Moria being met by desperate axe, sword, arrow and fists is something that I have always wanted to encounter as a player, or run as a DM. The sheer manic fight for ones life and the frenzy that goes into these massive horde battles is something that people will talk about for years to come.

Don’t forget to come back this weekend for more content, tomorrow nights “Adventure in 30 minute” challenge is on and Sunday we look to post the conclusion to this months writeup.

If you do have another word that you want to suggest for these 1 word adventure challenges feel free to comment on this post and I will add it to the potential words for next week!

Oh, and as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe