View Full Version : Journal Cave of the Necrodancer: A micro-campaign journal (5e)

2015-02-08, 03:00 PM
Today, one of our usual players was away visiting relatives. Instead of continuing without him, however, I threw together a mini-dungeon the remaining players could quickly run through. I myself think the resulting mayhem was amusing at the very least, so I'm sharing it here. Have fun!

Rhogar Bloson, Dragonborn Paladin of Vengeance. Played by W, the newest player, who tends to ignore his abilities and instead simply hits things with his enchanted axe. Rhogar's 8 intelligence tends to be exagerrated, leading to some truly moronic situations.

Spectrum Nipplehammer, Warforged Berserker Barbarian. Played by S, who I've talked about before. S is the group's munchkin, and has managed to create a character with almost twice the paladin's HP, respectable AC, and crazy damage. This is his first time playing the character, who will replace his current one in the 'real' campaign next week.

Inton Dator, Variant Human Open Hand Monk. Played by N. N has had his share of shenanigans, with running off and getting himself captured by an encounter meant for four people being the worst. N also has the biggest dwarf fetish since Dwarf Fortress got released, coupled with an intense hatred of elves.

Yours truly, desparate DM and fan of pulling random crap on players.

The first five minutes of the session are spent thinking up a ridiculous story about how this is another dimension with all characters being alternates of themselves. These specific adventurers are trying to destroy an evil Necrodancer, who has kidnapped people from a nearby town. Or at least that's what I tried to explain, because those five minutes are also filled with random shouting from N, bad jokes from W, and S showcasing his new character.

I decide to just start everyone off at the dungeon's entrance. I describe it as a cave, with a dark and twisty passage leading downwards. The monk immediately walks in.

Me: The moment you enter, a fearsome being rises from the ground. It looks like an elf, but is transculent and pale. Only one eye remains in it's scarred face, the other is nothing but an empty socket. The Banshee, for that is what it is, raises her withered hand and spea...
S: I attack! *roll* Does an 11 hit?
Me: *Gaze attacks S* No. The Banshee pretends that didn't happen and gives you a horribly difficult riddle. If you do not solve it, you can not pass.

"I have no heart, nor feathers, nor scales, nor bone, nor shell, nor flesh.
Yet many fingers I possess."

"Who am I?"

W: A Banshee?
S: A Warforged?
N: A bodyless barkeeper?

Me: Er... The answer was supposed to be 'gloves'...
S: Nope! Answers makes sense, we get to continue! I enter the cave!


The group explores the passage for some time until they encounter a door. On the other side, several prisoners are kept in cages. Three humans, a dwarf, a halfling and an elf are all described in detail to the players.

N: Save the dwarf and leave the elf to die.

Me: You have no time to save anymore, as a terrible Wraithlike being raises from the floor! Black smoke envelops its very form, and an almost visible aura of evil can be felt all around it. The horrible creature cackles, then prepares to attack. Roll initiative.

The battle starts with everyone ganging up on the Wraith. Then they realize their attacks are only partly effective (gotta love resistance to nearly everything). I reveal that silver weapons affect the wraith normally.

S: Hey W, don't you have that magic axe able to destroy silver? Wouldn't that help?
Me: How in Pandemonium is an axe destroying silver extra powerful against something vulnerable to silver?
N: The enemy of my enemy is my enemy?

Battle goes on. Everyone is pretty effective, with the raging warforged, flurrying monk and angry paladin attacking 7-8 times per round. Then N decides that the battle has lasted long enough.

N: Okay, enough of this. I'm going to use a Stunning Attack on the wraith.
Me: But, it... I don't even... Give me a moment.

I search the rules for a rule, any rule, that would at least imply a being of pure negative energy and dark smoke can't be stunned, but apparently it can. One free round of attacks further, N brings out another trick.

N: I'm going to punch the wraith back ten feet, using this ability here.
Me: I suppose trying to find a rule prohibiting that would be futile?
S: Hey, you could punch it into the dwarf's cage! Then we have another person fighting on our side!
N: Great idea! Okay, I'm going to punch it towards the dwarf.
Me: Are you sure you want to do that?

The answer, of course, is yes. The wraith is punched and proceeds to completely destroy the dwarf next turn.

W: Dammit, N.

Another round of attacks is now rendered nearly useless as the wraith has taken up a position in the wall for three-quarters cover. When the wraith's turn comes up, it reaches into the dead dwarf and pulls out an angry, bloodthirsty specter.

W: Dammit, N...

A bit of backstory; N's PC is carrying a bunch of fruit from a magic tree he harvested a few sessions ago. When eaten, they produce random magic effects. So what does N do? He applies the fruit to his blade as if it were poison, then plunges it into the wraith. I roll for the effect, and what do I get?

17-19: Creature turns invisible for 1 hour or until it attacks or casts a spell.


One of the human prisoners suddenly slumps over, and the wraith reappears next to him. Fortunately, the constant stream of damage proves too much for the wraith and it finally dies. The ex-dwarf meets the same fate a round later.

With all foes down, the remaining prisoners are freed. Well, except one.

N: I'm putting my sword in the elf here. What do I need to roll?
Me: :smalleek: Are you sure you...
N: *rolls* Twenty-three to hit, and fourteen damage... Is she dead?
Me: Fine. The elf dies almost instantly. The short moment she has before death embraces her is spent whispering: 'I.. had... important... information...'


Now at this point I should tell you that I had some minor information on every of those prisoners, and the party ended up with the least useful three of them. The dwarf was the only one with actual combat training, and he would happily have allied with the party. The elf, as she said, knew several important things about the dungeon and it's residents. The human who got killed was an acolyte who could have placed several valueable buffs on the party.

Then who did the party end up with? Well, the halfling is an authority-hating 'free spirit' who just wants to leave, one of the humans is a cowardly lumberjack who hates the thought of going deeper into the dungeon, and the remaining human has had his hand cut off by the necrodancer.

The halfling, as I said before, tries to leave but is stopped by the paladin. The halfling tries to leave anyway, and it comes to blows. One single hit from the paladin later and the halfling is dead.

W: Wow, halflings are squishy.

The remaining two prisoners now consist of a lumberjack too scared to protest when the party takes him along and an one-handed human bent on vengeance. Of course, they need weapons. Over the course of the next ten minutes, the party discovers no one packed anything useable as weapon.

N: Told you we should have brought a ten-foot pole.

Eventually, the monk sacrifices his short sword and fights with nothing but his fists for the remainder of the adventure. The paladin considers something else.

W: Hm... I take out my bow and hand it over to the lumberjack. Is he proficient?
Me: He's a commoner who has probably never fired a bow in his life, much less learned to use it effectively. This is apparent as the lumberjack holds the bow in several positions that are all almost, but not entirely, unlike how a bow is supposed to be held.
W: But is he proficient?
Me: No. Now if only he were some sort of race that gets racial proficiency with bows, like, say, an elf...
W: DAMMI... That's getting old, isn't it?
Me: Yes, yes, it is.

The lumberjack gets stuck with a torch. Better than nothing, and it's not like he'll be attacking voluntarily.

As everyone is about to leave, S suddenly says something that catches us all by surprise.

S: Doesn't W have the ability to summon a mount? Maybe he should do that?
Everyone: :smalleek: WHY DID WE FORGET ABOUT THAT.

I previously ruled Find Steed to give different mounts based on the environment. When used in a swamp it will create a crocodile, plains will give a warhorse and so on. So what does a cave infested with undead produce? A skeleton horse. The paladin is overjoyed with his new pet and proceeds to lead the group deeper into the dungeon.


A second room is eventually found. It is immense, over a hundred feet in length and thirty feet wide. On the far side, the fearsome Necrodancer himself is sitting in front of an organ. He turns to the adventurers, smiles, and then starts speeching.

Necrodancer: Greetings, puny mortals. I am Grimdark Shadowblood, also known as Necrodancer Exquisite, He Who Incites Fear In The Hearts Of Man, the Elf of Death and Grim Reaper Junior. Fear me, for I wield great powers over death, life, and undeath. Know I will destroy you, then turn your lifeless bodies into my playthings. Now tremble as my unholy forces overrun you! MWUAHHAAAHAHA!
N: An elf. Gods, how I hate those.
S: A clichéd villain. Gods, how I hate those.

The Necrodancer starts playing the organ and six corpses lurch to their feet. The zombies start shambling towards the party, ominous music playing in the background.

W: "Cuz this is thriller..."
Me: Shut up.

The zombies are quickly downed... only for them to stand up again. You see, in 5th edition zombies have this nasty trait where they get a fortitude save to not die every time they would do so. Every. Single. Time. It drives the players mad having to kill the same zombie multiple times, but eventually the living corpses are all reduced to immobile heaps of flesh. The commoners even manage to kill one.

The party charges ahead over the corpse-littered ground, when suddenly the music changes. Two more bodies rise, but those are well over ten feet tall. Both hold giant morningstars in their rotten claws.

Turns out skeletal horses are vulnerable to bludgeoning damage, and two swings later the paladin is mounted on a pile of dust. The fight itself goes well, though. The ogres miss half the time and the other half doesn't hurt all that much.

Now with the ogres being mostly mindless, I decided to roll for who they'd attack. Michael, the one-handed commoner is rolled twice. He's got only 4 HP, so a hit equals certain death. The whole group breathes a sigh of relief as the first attack roll is a 3, which is just enough to avoid the hit. The second die seems to take ages to stop rolling...

And lands on a 19. I prepare to cross out the commoner's name on the combatant list, but the paladin announces:

W: I'm going to jump in front of him and catch the blow.
Me: Are you sure? That's a certain hit, and those attacks hurt.
W: Don't care. I'm going to safe him.

The paladin takes 13 damage, but toughs it out and simply grins.

Meanwhile, N decides that the battle is as good as won, and charges the necrodancer. 80 ft. movement is enough to put him next to his foe. Or so it should be, but a trap is triggered instead. The whole organ starts rolling at the monk, crashing into him for most of his health. The necrodancer calmly enters another tunnel.

The two ogres are dispatched while N tears the door of it's hinges. And that's where things go south.


If I were to name N's greatest flaw, it would be lack of patience. Instead of waiting a round for the others to catch up with him, he charges after his adversary. No amount of 'are you sure's' from me can make him change his mind.

N rushes into another chamber, this one smaller. A ten skulls are lined up on the desk of the necrodancer, who grins evily as the monk enters. With a gesture, all ten skulls rise and bite the monk into unconsciousness.

Rescue comes in the form of the others, who are taking quite the beating from the skulls. The paladin narrowly avoids being withered to death by the necrodancer. The monk is healed back up with a timely Lay on Hands and the barbarian almost crushes a skull. Suddenly, a disembodied hand drops from the ceiling on Michael, which promptly breaks his neck.

W: Did he just get killed by his own hand?
N: Would that count as suicide?

At that point, I throw the players a curveball, mostly because they entered the fight unprepared and I underestimated the power of Animated objects. The necrodancer drops all skulls and instead focuses on another concentration-requiring spell.

Said spell is Phantasmal Killer. Okay, I may be throwing them a curveball, but it's still one travelling at the speed of sound. The paladin fails multiple saves and goes down. The monk desparately attacks the necrodancer and the barbarian fails miserably when he tries to shoot some arrows from the doorway.

The paladin gets a healing potion administered (read: thrown into his face) just in time to see the barbarian deliver a nasty wound to the necrodancer. For a moment, it looks like he's going to survive, but then the mad mage falls over. The players are too busy celebrating to notice I still have one trick up my sleeve.

Me: Good, so the mage is dead. Do you still want to do something?
W: Yeah, I'm cutting his head off.
Me: :smalleek:
N+S: :smallcool:
W: :smallbiggrin:
Me: Well, congratulations. You cut the mage's head off, killing him off for real. His apparent 'death' was actually a cleverly cast Feign Death spell to give him another chance of survival. Now that he is dead for real, You beat the dungeon. Go you, I guess.

In the end, I and the players all liked it, so I guess it was time well spent.

TL;DR Players solve riddle, kill prisoners, summon skeleton horse, get mauled by skulls, and kill main villain twice. There's also some organs in there, and not the anatomic kind.

2015-02-09, 01:49 PM
I found this amusing. :smallbiggrin: