Dread Elementals: The Grave is Not the End

This dark and horrid monster is brought to you by BDC and The Magic Tavern

Following the path of dark cultists and even darker, tainted magics, you come to the end of your journey; the place of the dead. So far, those of you who are left, have survived trail by PYRE, BLOOD and ROT. But I hope you have made peace with whatever powers you bend a knee to or, at least, come to a personal understanding that this may be your last fight. My players were all ‘weres’ of different types who were pulled together by a very determined Lythari for the express purpose of bringing down an ancient evil, a blight on all existence, the dreaded Baernaloth who, through his experiments and magics, not only touts the creation of lycanthrope, but intends on spreading it all over your world.

Art is from MTG card Skullbrair, the Walking Grave by Nils Hamm

The reasons for the Dread Elementals to appear in your campaign can vary. Just remember, they are summoned by the most grotesque and violent of ritual spells. Sacrifices must be made and, in most instances, those sacrifices are from those who cast the magic; much like the Elven Mythals, but far more brutal and tainted. They are altered by the mists that both separate and traverse the many planes and worlds usually leading to the most dark of landscapes. But they are summoned by grand acts of violence and desecration.

Those wishing to summon a Grave Elemental must only give their lives and sacrifice their afterlives; joining the ranks of the undead and leading those armies into battle with the living. This was part of the end game for our ‘big bad’ aka the Baernaloth. He was intent upon raising, not only a putrid elemental made of hallowed soil, tombstones, sepulchers, caskets and, of course, the dead, but a massive, unrelenting army of darkness and undeath to overwhelm the living and ‘recruit’ them into their ranks .

This is an epic level encounter which follows three others bringing them closer and closer to death and ending their quest to purge this great evil. Facing the grave is as much a metaphor as it is destiny staring them in the face. Either you eradicate this foul elemental and its army or be doomed to join them. Since my players all played lycanthropes, the burial place that is desecrated is already a foul mass grave of werewolves who have served the dark master’s bidding. They served his malicious hunger and lust for blood and violence in life and, although they were not given a choice, they would gladly serve him in death. But this motif will fit any type of adventure and any type of buried creatures.

Since it is an epic adventure, there are more involved than just the party. Backing them up is an army of weres (or not if you wish) who follow the Lythari mentioned before. Their goal is not only to destroy this great evil and his rabid, cursed army, but to bring this war to an end and prove themselves worthy of a place in this land of paladins and holy people. Finding a place, within or without of this land, is their manifesto; The Manifesto of the White Wolf. So, in this final battle, your party is determined to get past this army to the dark depths where the real threat hides. If the Grave Elemental is taken care of, the army that follows them will finish with the undead as your party continues into the underdark through the opening the Grave Elemental and his rotting army are guarding.

The Grave Elemental brings more than an army of the dead to the table. its resistances and immunities along with it’s three legendary resistances make it more than formidable and terribly hard to bring down at over 700 HP. It’s slams are dangerous, deadly and bring a tinge of necrotic damage also. If your adventure includes structures, this creature like its Earth Elemental cousin is a Siege Monster which makes it extra damaging to walls, castles and any other human made structure.

Its rechargeable ability, UNREST, shakes the earth in a 100 foot radius and invokes a Dexterity save. And it’s LEGENDARY ABILITIES include an extra slam, a crushing boulder throw and an amazing SINK HOLE attack.

SINK HOLE causes a mass of rotting, boney arms to reach out beyond the grave and attempt to grapple with the party. If they do not make their saves or find help from a stronger ally soon, they will disappear into the unhallowed earth within just a few rounds taking damage all the way.

By the end of the year, I hope to have this all fleshed out for an adventure in my own world; highlighting a continent ruled by a congress of nine paladins. It is a holy land. But, if it is a place where justice and light prevail, why is there always some darkness to fight here. More later.

Let us know what you think. We also love to hear your ideas; especially when it comes to the numbers of the Grave Elemental. To keep track of our attempts to self publish, watch our social media tagged on the homepage. Our Patreon will soon be ready to get the ball rolling on many of these projects we would like to bring to you!

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