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D&D: Five Ambushes Sure To Get The Drop On Anyone

4 Minute Read
Sep 1 2020

Surprise attacks can add a touch of excitement to any session–these five ambushes are the perfect setup for a thrilling combat, day or night.

Ambushes can be a great tool in your games. When things are starting to get a little slow, you can use them to shake things up–like the old Raymond Chandler adage, “when in doubt, have a man come in with a gun.” You can use them to make a trivial fight more challenging, or to make a challenging fight deadly. Surprise can be a great leveler in D&D. Especially when combined with ever present hazards and the like. Today we’re going to take a look at five different ambushes you can use.

I’ve Got Kobolds In Small Spaces

Kobolds do not have a lot going for them. They’re small, weak, cowardly, and prideful. But what they lack in strength, they make up for in cunning. This kobold ambush relies on their ability to fight in packs, and travel in small spaces better than most adventurers.

Four Kobolds lie in wait in a small chamber, hidden under refuse and detritus, players must make a perception check of DC 12 to spot them. The chamber the kobolds are fighting in is riddled with tunnels big enough for a kobold to fit through, but small enough that a larger creature would have to squeeze to fit in. Players notice the tunnel entrances if they make a perception or investigation check of DC 17. The kobolds use hit and run tactics to attack foes, disappearing into the tunnels only to reappear on the other side of the party, moving around their foes with impunity.

For a harder fight add a Kobold Dragonshield and Kobold Scale Sorcerer to the mix.

Carry-On, Piercers

A carrion crawler and a small colony of piercers have reached a symbiotic relationship with one another in a cavernous section of whatever dungeon you’re running. The Carrion Crawler uses its paralytic tentacles to freeze enemies in place. The piercers take advantage of this to drop upon helpless foes and slowly climb back up if their foe is still alive after they’ve landed.

Ice To Meet You

This is a challenging encounter for cold weather climes. In an icy cavern, three ice mephits wait, disguised as shards of ice. Lurking on the ceiling are two ice spiders (out of Storm King’s Thunder), whose icy webs deal 1 cold damage. The Ice mephits use their natural camouflage and innate ability to cast fog cloud 1/day to pepper the PCs with their cold breath before moving and hiding once more under the guise of a fog cloud.


Meanwhile, the Ice Spiders descend into the mix to bite foes injured by the mephits, using their webs to keep targets taking cold damage round by round. After three rounds an Ice Spider Queen climbs into the chamber, ready to bring her cold aura to bear against nearby adventurers.

The Rise Of Ultroloth

An Ultroloth assassin can be a dangerous foe indeed. They are resistant to most forms of damage, have a 60 ft. fly speed, and possess a number of innate magical powers, including at-will Invisibility (self only), detect thoughts, and alter self. Meaning an Ultroloth can use Alter Self to disguise themselves as a friendly NPC or other ally of the party. then can use Hypnotic Gaze to buy themselves a corroborating “ally” until the time is right, at which point an Ultroloth is still CR 13 all by itself. And with 3/day teleportations, wall of fire, and darkness… there are plenty of tools an Ultroloth can pull out to attack from an unexpected angle.

Take the Black (Dragon).

In an abysmal swamp, lurking just below the surface, is Grithlix the Vile, a black dragon who understands that their natural camouflage and ability to breathe underwater. Grithlix makes its lair underneath a swamp where it can take advantage of its swim speed and amphibious status, allowing it to snatch unsuspecting foes and drag them underwater where they must fight and/or start to drown.

Happy Adventuring!


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