RPG Adventure Hook: Dungeons and Dinos

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This week, a dino-sorceror, a hidden valley, and a “people” in peril…

Thunder rolled through the valley, shaking the earth as it passed. The sky was clear–this thunder came not from the heavens, but from the great beings that strode through the valley. Hidden away, they marched, ancient and powerful. And now they came crashing through the trees–a storm of flesh and teeth and bone, breaking upon the town. Their half-strangled roars joined their thunderous footsteps as they lumbered forward, hungering like never before…

This week’s adventure is here in honor of dinosaurs, who are cool and who do things like run fun D&D campaigns that we can all enjoy. So while they are some of the villains in this story, it’s important to remember that they are our friends and heroes too.

This adventure is designed for players of 12-14th level.

The PCs are approached by a most unusual ally, one who requests their aid in protecting their homeland, which has come under attack by hordes of shambling undead and darker things besides. It’s up to the heroes to drive the darkness out of this hidden valley, but the source of the shadow is powerful indeed…

The PCs are approached on the outskirts of town by a dinosaur. But, rather than trying to mindlessly attack/eat them like many such beasts they might have encountered, this one is wears a hooded cloak and carries a staff. She identifies herself as Hadri, and informs the adventurers that she has left her homeland on an important quest–darkness has fallen on the valley her people dwell in. A shadow that brings horrors with it–she has been sent to find a way of casting out the tyrant that rules her land, and the heroes, it seems, are the ones she believes can help.

They return with Hadri to a mist-filled valley, hidden away from the world. There, they find more dinosaurs, living in a village–although they are beset by monsters. A horde of undead dinosaurs swarm the PCs. And deeper into the ruins of this valley of the dinosaurs, a strange lizard cult worships at the altar of a tyrant.

In the ruins of a lich’s tower, they confront the new master of these lands…

Read on for more info, or skip ahead to see what kind of crazy dino-monsters we’ve cooked up for you this week!


Undeath…uhhh…finds a way

The Valley of Halrueth is sheltered from the rest of the world. It is a secret, kept by nature herself. Steep walls line the valley, and mists that hang heavily over it–it is a refuge for beasts of all kind, where they have been free to grow and prosper. Until one day, fifty years ago, when a powerful lich, Ichareth, also called Oathbreaker, and his floating necrosanctum crashed into the valley during a fight with a party of meddlesome adventurers.

While trying to recover his strength, the Lich came across the true masters of the valley–a tyrannosaurus rex caught him unprepared and spent, and thus the reign of Ichareth–who had lived for a thousand years, came to a close when the tyrannosaurus ate him, phylactery and all.

This experience changed the tyrannosaurus…it became something more. It absorbed some of the lich’s power and intellect. And now it has begun its own dark ascension. Wielding necromantic powers, it has raised an army of undead dinosaurs, and in so doing has become an object of worship of some of the lizardfolk.

Over the last five decades, it has been the source of the shadow at the heart of the valley: Tyrannarcanus Rex.

But the Lich is not the only one to transform the valley. The remains of the adventurers who fought Ichareth were found–and among their possessions, a headband of intellect brought the gift of sentience to some of the other dinosaurs. Hadri is one of a pack of “enhanced” dinosaurs. A young Hadrosaur with the gift of sorcery. Her pack has been losing their food and homes to the undead forces of Tyrannarcanus. And so, seeing no way to stop this growing shadow from within the valley, the elders of Hadri’s pack sent her out into the world beyond the valley, looking for a way to stop the tyrant king.

So it is that Hadri, an intrepid dino-sorceror comes to find the PCs on the outskirts of their hometown (or the place where they are currently resting between adventures). She entreats them with the tale of darkness spreading out over her homeland, and asks if they can help stem the tide of darkness that sweeps through the valley.


Into the Land of Mists

Hadri leads the party back to her homelands. She knows the secret path into the valley and as the PCs arrive at her people’s village, they hear thunder approaching. But it is no thunder–it is a swarm of undead allosauruses (4 per player, see below), looking for their next meal. They have been sent by the Tyrannarcanus and will fight to the death.

In the aftermath of the battle, Hadri finds the rest of her people. They have been scattered by the attack–some are wounded, others fled. Hadri takes them before the “elders” who have had the gift of intellect the longest of her people. They charge the adventurers with protecting the tribe. If the PCs agree without any dithering, they will bestow upon them gifts–some of the equipment used by the fallen adventurers.

Including: 5 potions of superior healing, a ring of the ram, and a mace of disruption (which might come in handy). Feel free to throw in other treasure as you see fit–this was a party of high-level adventurers after all.

After being given their quest, Hadri leads the adventurers deeper into the valley…where the trees grow dark and the servants of the Tyrannarcanus are much more numerous.


A Cult Following

As they draw nearer to the crashed fortress, the players are attacked by the Tyrannarcanus’ lizardfolk worshippers. They have been enhanced with its dark powers (see below). The initial encounter is with a few “scouts” but if they survive long enough to sound the alarm, the rest come running to fight, including a Lizard Dark Priest, a Lizard Tyrant Acolyte, and 1 Lizard Cultists per player

They will flee when reduced below 25% of their original numbers–any that flee though, are under the sway of the Tyrannarcanus and may heed his call for the final battle. The ruined fortress is guarded by a number of undead dinosaurs, including 2 more zombie allosauruses per player, 3 skeletal anklyosauruses, and one undead triceratops per player. If the PCs choose to ignore these, they too will heed the call of the Tyrannarcanus during the final fight.


Apotheosaurusis

At the heart of the ruins lairs the Tyrannarcanus Rex. It waits, patiently, fully aware of the intruders on its domain. It prefers to let its servants soften them up. As they approach its inner sanctum–full of implements of wizardry and scrying devices–it casts an invisibility spell and awaits the arrival of the PCs, hoping to ambush them.

In the ensuing fight, the Tyrannarcanus will bellow for reinforcements once it is lowered to below 50% health. It is up to you how soon they arrive–but the Tyrannarcanus is smart enough to retreat towards them. This is going to be a tough fight–the Tyrannarcanus is a powerful spellcaster and deadly in melee. But if things start to go the PCs way, it will attempt to retreat entirely with whatever magics it has left.

It’s possible the Tyrannarcanus may escape, and plot its revenge on the players and the valley of mists.

At any rate, the sanctum of the Tyrannarcanus contains the lich’s spellbook (it has been clawed, but is still usable), a wand of lightning bolts, a periapt of wound closure, a staff of fire (unused) and 5,000gp worth of onyxes. Once the Tyrannarcanus has been slain or driven off, the elders and a grateful Hadri thank the players, welcoming them into the valley whenever they see fit. They will show them the secret paths in and out of the valley–and hope that one day, they will be able to welcome more into their world.


Tyrannarcanus Rex

Huge beast, any evil alignment 

Armor class 17 (natural armor)
Hit points 136 (13d12 + 52)
Speed 50 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
25(+7) 10(+0) 19(+4) 16(+3) 12(+1) 9(-1)

Saving throws Con +9, Int +8, Wis +6
Skills Arcana +13, History +8, Insight +6, Perception +6
Damage resistances cold, lightning, necrotic
Damage immunities bludgeoning, piercing, and slashing from nonmagical attacks
Condition immunities charmed, exhaustion, frightened, paralyzed,
Senses truesight 120 ft., passive Perception 16
Languages Common plus up to three other languages
Challenge 14 (11,500 XP)

Legendary resistance (3/day). If the Tyrannarcanus fails a saving throw, it can choose to succeed instead.

Spellcasting. The Tyrannarcanus is a 13th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Intelligence (spell save DC 16, +8 to hit with spell attacks). The Tyrannosorceror has the following wizard spells prepared:
Cantrips (at will): mage handprestidigitationray of frost 
1st level (4 slots): detect magicmagic missileshieldthunderwave 
2nd level (3 slots): acid arrowdetect thoughtsinvisibilitymirror image
3rd level (3 slots): animate deadcounterspelldispel magicfireball 
4th level (3 slots): blightdimension door 
5th level (2 slots): cloudkillscrying 
6th level (1 slot): disintegrateglobe of invulnerability 
7th level (1 slot): finger of deathplane shift 

Actions

Multiattack. The Tyrannarcanus makes two attakcs: one with its bite and one with its tail. It can’t make both attacks against the same target.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +12 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 33 (4d12+7) piercing plus 10 (3d6) cold damage. If the target is a Medium or smaller creature, it is grappled (escape DC 17). Until this grapple ends, the target is restrained, and the Tyrannosorceror can’t bite another target.

Tail. Melee weapon attack: +12 to hit, reach 12 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d8+7) bludgeoning damage.

Legendary Actions

The Tyrannarcanus can take 3 legendary actions, choosing from the options below. Only one legendary action option can be used at a time and only at the end of another creature’s turn. The lich regains spent legendary actions at the start of its turn.

Cantrip. The Tyrannarcanus casts a cantrip.

Tail Attack. The Tyrannarcanus makes a tail attack.

Frightening Gaze (Costs 2 Actions). The Tyrannarcanus fixes its gaze on one creature it can see within 10 feet of it. The target must succeed on a DC 16 Wisdom saving throw against this magic or become frightened for 1 minute. The frightened target can repeat the saving throw at the end of each of its turns, ending the effect on itself on a success. If a target’s saving throw is successful or the effect ends for it, the target is immune to the Tyrannosorceror’s gaze for the next 24 hours.

Disrupt Life (Costs 3 Actions). Each non-undead creature within 20 feet of the Tyrannarcanus must make a DC 16 Constitution saving throw against this magic, taking 21 (6d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.


Allosaurus Zombie

Large undead, neutral evil 

Armor class 11
Hit points 76 (8d10 + 32)
Speed 50 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
19(+4) 8(-1) 18(+4) 2(-4) 8(-1) 5(-3)

Saving throws Wis +2
Skills Perception +3
Damage immunities poison
Condition immunities poisoned
Senses darkvision 60 ft., passive Perception 13
Languages —
Challenge 2 (450 XP)

Undead fortitude. If damage reduces the zombie to 0 hit points, it must make a Constitution saving throw with a DC of 5 + the damage taken, unless the damage is radiant or from a critical hit. On a success, the zombie drops to 1 hit point instead.

Pounce. If the allosaurus moves at least 30 feet straight toward a creature and then hits it with a claw attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 13 strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the allosaurus can make one bite attack against it as a bonus action.

Actions

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 15 (2d10 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

Claw. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 8 (1d8 + 4) bludgeoning damage.


Undead Triceratops

Huge undead, any evil

Armor Class 11 (natural armor)
Hit Points 95 (10d12 + 30)
Speed 50 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
22(+6) 6(-2) 17(+3) 2(-4) 8(-1) 5(-3)

Senses passive Perception +9
Damage immunities poison
Condition immunities poisoned
Languages —
Challenge 5 (1,800 XP)

Trampling Charge. If the triceratops moves at least 20 feet straight toward a creature and then hits it with a gore attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone. If the target is prone, the triceratops can make one stomp attack against it as a bonus action.

Actions

Gore. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 24 (4d8 + 6) piercing damage. The target must succeed on a DC 14 Constitution saving throw or its hit point maximum is reduced by an amount equal to the damage taken. This reduction lasts until the target finishes a long rest. The target dies if this effect reduces its hit point maximum to 0.

Stomp. Melee Weapon Attack: +9 to hit, reach 5 ft., one prone creature. Hit: 22 (3d10 + 6) bludgeoning damage.


Skeletal Anklyosaurus

Huge undead, any evil

Armor Class 13 (natural armor)
Hit Points 52 (8d12 + 8)
Speed 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
19(+4) 11(+0) 13(+1) 2(-4) 10(+0) 5(-3)

Senses passive Perception +0
Damage Vulnerabilities bludgeoning
Damage immunities poison
Condition immunities exhaustion, poisoned
Languages —
Challenge 3 (700 XP)

Actions

Tail. Melee Weapon Attack: +7 to hit, reach 10 ft., one target. Hit: 18 (4d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage. If the target is a creature, it must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.


Lizard Cultists

Medium humanoid (lizardfolk), neutral 

Armor class 15 (natural armor, shield)
Hit points 78 (12d8 + 24)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
17(+2) 12(+1) 15(+2) 11(+0) 11(+0) 13(+2)

Saving Throws Con +4, Wis +2
Skills
 Perception +4, Stealth +5, Survival +4
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Draconic
Challenge 4 (1,100 XP)

Dark Devotion. The lizardfolk has advantage on any saves vs. fear or being charmed.

Hold breath. The lizardfolk can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

Skewer. Once per turn, when the lizardfolk makes a melee attack with his trident and hits, the target takes an extra 10 (3d6) points of damage, and the lizardfolk gains temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt.

Actions

Multiattack. The lizardfolk makes two melee attacks, one with its bites and one with its claws or melee weapon, or two with its trident.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee weapon attack: +4 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing damage.

Trident. Melee or ranged weapon attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage or 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.


Lizard Dark Priest

Medium humanoid (lizardfolk), neutral 

Armor class 15 (natural armor, shield)
Hit points 97 (15d8 + 30)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
17(+3) 12(+1) 15(+2) 11(+0) 16(+3) 13(+2)

Saving Throws Con +4, Wis +2
Skills
 Perception +4, Stealth +5, Survival +4
Senses passive Perception 13
Languages Draconic
Challenge 7 (2,900 XP)

Dark Devotion. The lizardfolk has advantage on any saves vs. fear or being charmed.

Hold breath. The lizardfolk can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

Spellcasting. The lizard dark priest is a 5th-level spellcaster. Its spellcasting ability is Wisdom (spell save DC 14, +6 to hit with spell attacks). The lizard dark priest can cast the following:
Cantrips (at will):  ray of frost , sacred flame, thaumaturgy
1st level (4 slots): cure wounds, guiding bolt, sanctuary 
2nd level (3 slots): lesser restorationmirror image, spiritual weapon
3rd level (2 slots): animate dead, spirit guardians

Actions

Multiattack. The lizardfolk makes two melee attacks, one with its bites and one with its claws or melee weapon, or two with its trident.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee weapon attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing damage.

Trident. Melee or ranged weapon attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage or 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack.


Lizard Tyrant Acolyte

Medium humanoid (lizardfolk), neutral 

Armor class 15 (natural armor, shield)
Hit points 78 (12d8 + 24)
Speed 30 ft., swim 30 ft.

STR DEX CON INT WIS CHA
17(+3) 12(+1) 15(+2) 11(+0) 11(+0) 13(+2)

Saving Throws Dex +5, Wis +2
Skills
 Acrobatics +5, Deception +6, Perception +4, Stealth +9, Survival +4
Senses passive Perception 14
Languages Draconic
Challenge 8 (3,900 XP)

Dark Devotion. The lizardfolk has advantage on any saves vs. fear or being charmed. Additionally, during its first turn, the Lizardfolk has advantage on attack rolls against any creature that hasn’t taken a turn. Any hit the lizardfolk scores against a surprised creature is a critical hit.

Evasion. If the lizardfolk is subjected to an effect that allows it to make a Dexterity saving throw to take only half damage, the lizardfolk instead takes no damage if it succeeds on the saving throw, and only half damage if it fails.

Hold breath. The lizardfolk can hold its breath for 15 minutes.

Sneak Attack (1/turn). The lizard folk deals an extra 13 (4d6) points of damage when it hits a target with a weapon attack and has advantage on the attack roll, or when the target is within 5 feet of an ally of the lizardfolk that isn’t incapacitated, and the lizardfolk doesn’t have disadvantage on the attack roll. The lizardfolk gains temporary hit points equal to the damage dealt.

Actions

Multiattack. The lizardfolk makes two melee attacks, one with its bites and one with its claws or melee weapon, or two with its trident.

Bite. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage.

Claws. Melee weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d4 + 3) slashing damage.

Trident. Melee or ranged weapon attack: +7 to hit, reach 5 ft. or range 20/60 ft., one target. Hit: 6 (1d6 + 3) piercing damage or 7 (1d8 + 3) piercing damage if used with two hands to make a melee attack. Either way, the target must make a DC 15 Constitution saving throw, taking 24 (7d6) necrotic damage on a failed save, or half as much damage on a successful one.

~Happy Adventuring!

 

  • Severius_Tolluck

    Made me think of Dark sun for a moment. Cool ideas, may borrow a few!

  • Vepr

    Awesome. I did something similar to the T-Rex and lich with a purple worm, lich and some artifact armor. Caught my group slightly off guard. “What do you mean the purple worm appears undead?”

  • Red_Five_Standing_By

    Cool stuff!

  • What, no undead raptors? Or Undead pterasaurs?

    • Cristhian Mario Landa Rivera

      *Pterosaurs, but agree.