As the party enters a small town, they notice it is strangely quiet. No one is on the street and all the doors are closed. Closer examination will reveal that the locks on the doors are intricate, unique, and extremely large, taking up over a third of the door’s size. The homes themselves appear new and impenetrable, even to magic.
If the party peers into any windows, they will see exasperated individuals inside the home, milling about. Noticing the party, individuals inside will try and communicate with the party, but no noise is heard. If an intelligent NPC thinks of it (aka, the DM), they might scrawl on a piece of paper or parchment that they are trapped inside.
Continuing through town, the party sees a figure sneakily running between buildings. If they are able to track him down, they will meet a very startled Elbo Greeze. If they don’t follow the figure, further in town they’ll see more of the same in terms of houses and folks trapped inside until they get to a clearing where they see six Darkmantles and a Boneclaw living their best life and splashing around in a town fountain.
Batten Down The Latches
If the party stops the figure, he will yell, “please don’t kill me, I didn’t mean to!” Turning around to face the party is a middle-aged Half-Orc Artificer. His ripped clothes flap in the breeze as he introduces himself as Elbo Greeze, resident inventor and owner of Sure-lock Homes, the most secure homes in the Realm.
“This is the third town where I’ve built these locks for the homes, but the only time where I’ve made this mistake. You see, when I installed the locks, I accidentally installed them in such a way where you can’t unlock from either side!”
Screeching in the distance interrupts Elbo, who shudders. “Just as folks were trying out their new locks, those darkmantles and boneclaw came into town. There is heavy tinkering involved in undoing my locks, but the monsters are attracted to the noise!” He points at his ripped up clothes, hyperventilating as he does so.
“All of the town guard, those who can fight, they’re all locked away! Ohhhhh, this is all my fault!”
He begins to sob and begs the party to help him.
Dead As A Deadbolt
The party has several options for helping Elbo (if they choose to):
- Pick the locks themselves – DC30 on every door and the door consumes tools used if the check fails. No magic, strength, or other powers can get the party members to unlock the doors themselves.
- Protect Elbo as he unlocks the doors – If the party is patient, they can wait with Elbo as he attempts to unlock the doors himself. After all, he did create them. He will work from house to house unlocking the doors, but only two of them will have guards that are willing to fight against the monsters. Attempting to unlock the doors will trigger the attention of the darkmantles, who swarm two at a time, drawn to the sound of tinkering. The party could potentially set up a trap and ambush the darkmantles, otherwise if one is killed it will retreat to the others and bring them all back alongside the boneclaw.
- Keep in mind the party will need to protect Elbo during this process, otherwise they will forfeit the ability to get the townsfolk out of their homes.
- Just go kill the monsters now – Let’s be real, if the party is strong enough they can take down the monsters directly if they choose to. More on the monster tactics below
Whatever the party opts to do, Elbo will fall in line with their decision, doing his best to stay out of sight of the monsters. Best of luck to the party in whatever they decide.
We’re going to snag some of the tactics for this fight from Wise DM’s and their 9 Killer Monster Combinations.
…that’s where the Darkmantles come in. These simple 1/2 CR monsters can cast a Darkness Aura once per day and hold it for up to 10 minutes. That’s more than enough time for the Boneclaw to eviscerate a party. (And, of course, Cloakers, Drow, many other more dangerous creatures and simple night time could provide that Darkness, too.)
The Boneclaw itself is a fearsome CR12 creature that can rip a party up.
Piercing Claw alone is brutal, but then you get Multiattack and two Piercing Claw attacks and that could be the end of the party.
Multiattack. The boneclaw makes two Piercing Claw attacks.
Piercing Claw. Melee Weapon Attack: +8 to hit, reach 15 ft., one target. Hit: 20 (3d 10 + 4) piercing damage plus 11 (2d10) necrotic damage. If the target is a creature, the boneclaw can pull the target up to 10 feet toward itself, and the target is grappled (escape DC 14). The boneclaw has two claws. While a claw grapples a target, the claw can attack only that target.
If the party manages to free the townsfolk and defeat the monsters, they will be rewarded with one of the vacant homes which has a 1d4 chance of being locked forever any time they use it (must get DC30 or Elbo has to come back to unlock).
Elbo will also offer them a Locked Locket which contains one minor secret of the universe inside (DM’s discretion as to what that secret is). The locket itself takes a DC20 Sleight of Hand to open it up.