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Steal This Hook - Threats of Legendary Evil

by Robert Wiese

The wilderness is a known place of danger, and usually that danger comes in great numbers. However, sometimes numbers are not needed, as the rush of air or the crackling of twigs can come from only a single dangerous threat. One monster in the wilds can be as much danger as many, and can be equally hard to root out…. or it could be very easy to find but not as easy to be rid of. With the upcoming release of D&D Minis Legendary Evils—and some new minis in your collection—you might add some single creature fun into your campaign with the following hooks.

Answer Me These Questions Three

To the right, the mountains rise toward the sky. You have been following them for days now, as your destination is at the other end of the range. Periodically, roads branch towards the mountains, and from one of these you see a group of puzzled and somewhat battered travelers come toward you.
“Don’t go this way, travelers. If you must traverse the mountains, find another pass. A sphinx guards the way ahead, and we failed its challenge."
Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.
1. The travelers are adventurers (but of lower level than the PCs) who were going into the next valley looking for a great treasure that is rumored to be buried in a crypt in that valley. They could not answer the sphinx’s riddle and it would not let them pass, so they were forced to retreat.
2. You might have these travelers give the riddle to the PCs so they have a head start at solving it, although (as you wish) the sphinx could ask a different riddle of every traveler it encounters.
3. The sphinx is in league with a green dragon that lives in the valley. They are trying to remove the great treasure that they discovered. While the dragon removes it, the sphinx delays or deters travelers. The dragon could double-cross the sphinx, or not.
4. The sphinx doesn’t know about a treasure. It does know that something with a great curse was buried in that valley years ago, and the sphinx is tasked with keeping people away from it. If you want, you could have this be a descendant of the original sphinx, still with the same task. In this case, the evil was buried in the valley centuries ago, perhaps during a past war that collapsed the kingdom that once was here.
5. For monsters you can use a sphinx (MM1) or a sphinx of mystery (MM2). You could also use a creature that acts like a sphinx (gives riddles) but has very different powers and may not look like a sphinx at all, such as the rimefire griffon, minotaur thug, or scarecrow stalker.
6. A human from one of the towns in the region made friends with the sphinx years ago, and has a secret phrase to bypass the sphinx’s danger. The human is trying to gain a great treasure or harness a great evil in the small valley beyond the sphinx.

Bad Dog!

The PCs are in town late at night, somewhere near a tavern and close to the outskirts of the town or city. As they are walking along, or rescuing someone from a mugging, or mugging someone, they see a drunk man wander aimlessly toward them. At least, he initially appears drunk. He is also covered in scratches, some of them bleeding. He seems disoriented and doesn’t even know he’s been injured. If asked, he says that he saw a dog, a two-legged dog, but doesn’t remember anything else.
Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.
1. The man was attacked by a two-legged dog-like creature, such as a werewolf (MM) or a barghest (MM2). He did not fight off the creature; in fact he did not fight at all. The creature was tearing into him when it was called off or distracted by something, or heard the watch patrol coming and fled.
2. The creature, whatever it is, haunts the outskirts of the town or city and picks off lone stragglers. It could take them for food, or it could be working with a cult and taking them for sacrifice.
3. The creature is cursed, and to remove the curse it has to bathe in the blood of certain types of people. All of the victims have fit this profile. The drunk man would have sufficed; the creature was desperate due to ritual timing.
4. The creature is actually a large canine, like a dire wolf or even a worg. Its master has a vendetta against certain people in the city, and is killing these people or their relatives (for inspiration, you might consider watching the film Brotherhood of the Wolf). There is a definite pattern to the murders. The drunk man was mistaken for someone else, or he could be part of the master's plan after all.
5. The creature is actually a possessing spirit that transforms its hosts into two-legged canines. When it attacks someone, it transfers to the new host and the old one dies. The spirit is looking for someone in town, and uses the knowledge of the new host to choose a target. However, it is a fairly random process as the spirit looks for its true target.
6. There are several creatures in an alliance, but only one comes out at time to disguise their numbers. They have a lair outside of town and are hunting in the town in the same way that hunters go to the wild to kill creatures for food.

Predator on the Loose

The PCs are traveling down the road in a sparsely populated area near some farmland. Everything has been very ordinary until they pass a mound of pig manure just off the road. As they get close, the mound moves and a man sticks his head up from it. “Is it gone?” he asks you breathlessly.
The man is Stavin, a farmhand from the nearest farm to this location. He says that he was working in the fields when he heard an awful screechy roar. Then he saw it – a huge, bloated blue creature with long claws extending from the back of its hands. He ran for it and it started after him. Luckily for Stavin, he passed the pig sty while fleeing and the monster was sidetracked by easier prey. He doesn’t know how long ago that was; he’s been hiding here inside the mound the whole time. He might even have fallen asleep. The farm is about half a mile away, and he’ll take the PCs there if they want.
There is some comedic value to this scene, so if your players like comedy have Stavin's big dog stick its head out of the mound too.
Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.
1. The creature that Stavin saw is a talon slaad (and templated as a slaad spawner (MM2 pg. 185).
2. The slaad was summoned by a wizard to its ferocity and ability to produce slaad spawns. The wizard is trying to harvest them and train them to be guard beasts. This one escaped and has been looking for food ever since.
3. This is not the first farm to be attacked. Slaads desire a lot of food (and mayhem). The PCs can find other farms with dead animals or even dead farmers. The trail of destruction should lead back to the creature’s makeshift lair, or the wizard that summon it.
4. The slaad may not have escaped from the wizard, but was intentionally released to spread its slaad spawns across the farmlands knowing what they would do. The wizard wants the farmers gone.
5. There is more than one of these creatures. In fact, there’s a whole nest of them now that several spawn have already been created. More of them are marauding around the region, and they all have to be stopped.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.


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