This game is filled with assumptions. Perhaps that’s because our life is filled with the same. We assume when we see how a person is dressed that they have a level of intelligence or wealth. We assume that someone may have a specific level of education if they have glasses.
These same assumptions carry over into D&D. One thing I like to do is shatter assumptions. This encounter is all about that. Below you’ll see a race filled with assumptions involved with a monster that bears it’s own. When we turn these assumptions upside down, we can truly surprise a jaded group of players.
Suggested level: 4+ (add more Wolves if you want to raise the level)
Whether traveling at night or while camping in the forest, the party will either hear signs of distress or arrive at an abandoned horse-drawn carriage. The horse will be dead. It appears slaughtered as if torn apart by a wild animal.
Surveying the outside of the carriage will reveal that both rear wheels have been damaged to the point where they are shattered at the bottom. A simple survey of the surrounding area (Intelligence: Investigation check, DC: 10) will reveal that this carriage has dragged the damaged wheels for quite some time.
The carriage itself has a door on either side of it and a coachman bench on the front. No coachman is posted at the front of the carriage, and both side doors are ajar only a crack. No light comes from within. If the players check, the doors open easily.
The sight inside is horrific. Two bodies, roughly human-sized, lay within. They have been brutally slain. The interior is an abattoir of severed limbs, blood, and torn upholstery and clothing. There is nothing of value within.
At this point the characters will hear (Passive perception DC: 10) a low voice calling out “Help…me…” from the dark forest ahead. Should the characters investigate, they will approach a large tree, and peeking out from behind will be a young Halfling adult male in torn clothing (Perception or Investigation, DC: 12 – it’s coachman’s garb) covered in scratches, blood and mud. He will appear frightened and suspicious of strangers. He will engage the characters in conversation, but will not readily come out of hiding. If questioned, he will indeed confirm that he is the coachman, and that his name is Bingley. He will claim Wolves attacked the carriage and that he barely escaped with his life. Feel free to require Persuasion rolls (say, DC: 15) to divulge the information, or have it come out through roleplaying to speed things up.
When they get him to divulge his name, the howls of Wolves, not far away, will echo through the woods. When that happens, have Bingley whimper audibly “Oh…no…” Bingley will then claim that he is hurt and needs help escaping. Should the characters volunteer an Insight check, a successful DC: 15 check will reveal that some form of deception is at hand. If they do not ask for an Insight check, do not volunteer one. Allow the events to unfold naturally so as to surprise the players. If the players discover/realize that he is lying, or if he can lure them in close, he’ll transform into a Werewolf and howl to call in his wolf pack allies. Those four Wolf pack mates will arrive at the beginning of the next round. They will attack in two flanks with two attacking from the right flank and two attacking from the left. Wolves are pack-oriented team players. They will work as a team.
Monsters: “Bingley” – Werewolf – As per page 211 of the Monster Manual except Small in size.
Wolf (4) – As per page 341 of the Monster Manual
The biggest possible complication is the possibility of being afflicted with Lycanthropy. The rules for this are detailed on page 207 of the Monster Manual. To simplify that procedure, anyone bit by the Werewolf must pass a DC:12 Constitution saving throw or become infected with the curse. If the character embraces the curse instead of fighting it, the character’s alignment becomes that of the Lycanthrope. It is up to the individual DM how gradual or instantaneous this change is, or if the full change into the lycanthrope places the character under the DM ‘s control. A character that wishes to fight the curse should be given roleplaying or other avenues to seek a cure. The point of a game like this is to provide great stories, and a cursed hero seeking a cure is most definitely a great story. Feel free to allow that to unfold.
“The Dogs of War” – Out of The Box D&D Encounters # 29 ‘The hidden Werewolf’
I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn't always work. One thing that I didn't really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn't really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were.
What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement.
But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language.
Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn...the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there.
Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight.
Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter.
Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn't play D&D again for a very long time, though.
Then 5E came out.
I discovered the Adventurer's League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again.
And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in "gamer speak" a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother...who still doesn't "get it"). It's my hope that one day she'll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.
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