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Eat their hearts out this Valentine’s Day with a monster match

Eat their hearts out this Valentine’s Day with a monster match

Monster Matches Challenge Your Table

A monster match is a combination of monsters that go together to make a great encounter. A weird synergy or an unexpected pairing can come out of every swipe right!

Like a Bolt from the Blue

Area of effect spells and abilities have an inherent danger, since they affect both allies and enemies. But what happens when the same thing that damages an enemy empowers your ally? These lighting lovers force PCs to face that fact in a CR 7 encounter.

Blue Dragon Wyrmling. This wyrmling is an inexperienced, excitable little dragon who loves to blast lightning through the underbrush. Why is it so far from its desert home?

Shambling Mound. This lumbering pile of vines will eat anything, but it won’t touch the dragon, because it dimly enjoys the jolts of lightning provided by its blue pal. Its Engulf bonus action can hold a troublemaker in one place (also blinded, restrained, and unable to breathe) while the dragon zots them with lightning breath. Except the lightning is only a problem for the PC!

Adjusting the Difficulty

To increase the difficulty of this encounter, add a kobold initiate of the elder elementals (see Tome of Beasts 2) to serve the blue dragon wyrmling. (That’ll bring it up to roughly a CR 9 encounter). To greatly increase the difficulty of the encounter, age the dragon up from a wyrmling to a young blue dragon (around CR 14)!

To slightly decrease the difficulty of the encounter, swap out the dragon for the initiate, and make sure that kobold is blasting lightning spells a lot. The dragon might become a blue dragon egg the kobold is waiting to hatch.

Party Composition

This could be a tough fight . . . the shambling mound will stick around a lot longer than anyone expects, as either the dragon or the initiate can heal it without harming each other too badly. Parties with high Constitution and an ability to escape a grapple will reduce engulf damage from the shambling mound, so barbarians, fighters, and sorcerers will be well-prepared. Sorcerers may be especially useful as they can negate much of the initiate’s damage. 

Adventure Hooks

  • A faded scroll tells of a dragon egg in a cave deep in the wilderness. While the writings are a century old, surely the egg hasn’t hatched yet.

  • Storms rage outside an otherwise unremarkable cave. There is shockingly little animal life outside the cave. Travelers report strange chanting in Draconic from within.

Let the Lightning Loose

The lightning lovers in this scenario have different aims, despite working together. Here’s how a fight might go.

The shambling mound targets whomever it can eat, so ideally anyone likely to fail a Strength check or Constitution saving throw.

The blue dragon wyrmling attacks indiscriminately with its Lightning Breath, fearless of harming its allies. If that’s not an option, it attacks the nearest enemy with Multiattack.

If involved, the initiate take advantage of its Pack Tactics trait by attacking anyone within 5 feet of the wyrmling. While it has a number of spells that don’t affect the shambling mound, it sticks to lightning to avoid damaging the dragon. 

A combat might go like this:

  • Setup. The party enters the cavern or clearing. What first appears to be unusual plant life is in fact a resting shambling mound. It attacks the first character to get within 5 feet of it, using Slam and then Engulf. 

  • Training. On initiative count 10 of the first round of combat, the blue dragon wyrmling enters to observe from hiding (In the Tales of the Valiant RPG, its Stealth score is 12. That’s all you need to know when a monster is trying to sneak).

  • Enter the Fray. After the shambling mound has taken 20 or so damage from attacks (probably after the start of round 2), the wyrmling uses its Lightning Breath, healing the shambling mound and catching as many other creatures as possible in its area of effect.

  • Lead from the Back. The shambling mound continues to attack as before, with the wyrmling using its Lighting Breath whenever it recharges. If you have the initiate in the fight, it casts shield to protect the wyrmling or itself. From this point onward it attacks with Gift of the Elder Elementals, favoring lightning attacks and using lightning bolt if it can catch PCs in a suitable line. Remember that the initiate has Pack Tactics, so it tries to make its Gift attacks with advantage.

  • Flee. If they are losing the fight, the wyrmling burrows and the initiate casts misty step to escape. The shambling mound is left to fend for itself. If a party seems close to a TPK, have the blue dragon wyrmling get bored with the fight and scamper off, leaving the shambling mound to finish things alone.

It’s valentine’s Day, and Kobold Press is having an Eat Their Hearts Out sale going on now!
Stock up on some monstrous favorites!

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