Encounter culture#7 Necromancy
Today we're looking at a Necromancy themed encounter that focuses not only on undead, but on the concepts of fear, and an unkillable immortal foe.
CR - 5 - 1,600 XP
Basic premise: The first encounter of the dungeon becomes an ongoing battle against seemingly unstoppable foes, putting the players on a timer or forcing them to get very creative.
The Breakdown: This encounter is ideal to place at the beginning of a dungeon. At first blush it appears to just be a pair of grisly skeletons armed with 2 Morning stars each, or whatever weapon the GM prefers, a careful look and a DC 13 knowledge nature check reveals they are actually bugbear skeletons and not human. A combination of fast healing 2, damage reduction, superior two weapon fighting, and the relentless ability makes these foes tough to deal with but the players should be able to dispatch them. It's only after the encounter is over that it really begins. As mythic bloody skeletons these creatures will rise again after an hour and begin healing unless they are destroyed in the area of a mythic bless spell, which the players are almost certain to not have. This means every time the party stops to rest, or takes a 20 on a locked door, search check or trap the timer is ticking down until they are once again attacked by a foe they cannot hope to defeat permanently. And remember, no matter how many times the players battle this encounter, it only gives XP once.
Tale of the tape: A 3 HD creature like a bugbear normally becomes a CR 1 skeleton, But the bloodied template bumps that up to CR 2, and the mythic skeleton template adds another +1 to that for the 1 mythic rank it gains. With a final CR of 3 adding a second one makes this a challenge rating 5 encounter.
Hooks: Who animated these creatures? Why bugbears? And most importantly, do they ever stop pursuing the players? You could easily turn this encounter into a recurring event, awakening them with the skeletal champion template, adding on advanced, raising their HD or even giving them class levels. These mindless undead could gradually evolve into perpetual stalkers until the players are driven to pursue the mythic power needed to slay them once and for all.
Variation: For a slightly tougher solo challenge try using a Troll as the base creature and having just one instead of two. The encounter will still be CR 5, though definitely on the hard end for low level players. This puts the party up against a very difficult to handle foe and the fact that trolls naturally regenerate will help add confusion and paranoia to attempts to keep the creature down for good. If you really want to...Troll your players, you can use this encounter a second time after they actually find a clever way to dispose of their foe, just when they think they're safe you make them wonder if they really got rid of the original threat.