One of the first adventures I wrote for 4th edition, while still testing out the game, and before taking the plunge with a new campaign, was the “delve” High Noon on Ant Hill. It is a 3-5 encounter mini adventure with a very straight-forward premise. Enter the ant hill of the giant ants and kill the queen. It was played twice, once with a group of middle schoolers, who only made it through the first encounter, and once with the permanent members of the game group, who were slaughtered during the final encounter. It was a great little adventure, known and reviled for its difficulty, and I decided to dust it off for our Thanksgiving game bash. It was a ton of fun.
The adventure was updated to 5th edition rules on the fly, and other changes were made to help the game “flow” and also because I wanted to build the whole dungeon before-hand using my collection of Dwarven forge game tiles. The delve was incorporated into the dungeon the party has been exploring, and for simplicity sake, there was no resting and no turning back while we played. I let the players know that if they made it through the whole adventure, they would gain a level at the end. This seemed to keep them moving forward without too much complaining. Sadly no photo was taken of the delve during play, but it consisted of four encounter areas.
The first encounter is the hill. Originally, it was a large conical hill with a dead tree at its top. The tree was hollow and acted as a doorway into the anthill. In this rendition, I mixed it up. They entered a large chamber. The ants had dug up a twenty foot trench and used the dirt to create a hill against the back wall of the chamber. They stood the trunk of dead tree at the top of the pile, and the hollow led through a passageway to the door in the back wall of the room. Hidden in the branches of the dead tree were a pair of giant flying ant drones. They were tough.
The ants had a high armor class and high hit points, and they had a fly by attack that let them make an attack in the middle of a move without provoking an attack. This worked until the party forced them to attack at the limit of their 8 squares, so they ended their round next to a party member. When the ants became bloodied, they could shatter their crystalline wings in a burst attack of crystal shards.
The ants were killed, and in the process the wizard’s ferret familiar was reduced to one hit point. Rather than having a wounded ferret on his hands, the wizard snapped its spine so it would reform fully healed in thirty minutes. The little ferret let out an agonizing squeal as it perished at its owners hands. The squeal echoed down the hallways and nearly a mile away, a giant lizard heard the sound of breakfast being served. Before exiting the chamber through the bole of the tree, they found a dead elf concealed by his cloak of elvenkind. The rogue snapped it up.
They came to a hallway, and heard a scratching sound ahead. They were not surprised by the carrion crawler ambush, and everyone was waiting for it when it sprang out of the wall. But they were not expecting the giant lizard coming at them from the direction they just came. The lizard attacked the wizard and while the rest of the prty fought the carrion crawler, the wizard fought the lizard. He scared the lizard so bad with his imitation of a female lizard in mating season, that the monster leaped up into the wizards arms, yet still tried to swallow his head. The paladin finally slew the carrion crawler and turned to stab the lizard. The wizard wept at the lizard’s passing, having become very close to it in such a short emotion filled encounter. From the lair of the carrion crawler, they found a pair of potions. One was a potion of invisibility, the other was unknown.
The third encounter area was a long chamber with the center dug up for farming. Various fungi were being tended by ten giant worker ants, and guarded by 2 warrior ants. Additionally, one new worker ant appeared from the far door each round until the characters moved into the final room. This battle was quick and decisive, as the worker ants only had one hit point apiece (yay minions!) In the fungi field they found an abandoned battle axe +1, which was made of weightless iron, and had a quirk that it was the only magic weapon carryable at ta time. The paladin took up the axe, but traded it with the fightress at the end of the adventure.
The party entered the final chamber where they had to fight the queen ant and her pair of drone cows, each of which was covered in corrosive slime and could pump out a worker ant or make a pincer attack. Meanwhile the queen flitted about making pincer attacks. The wizard was struck by a critical hit and knocked unconscious. The fightress attacked a cow and her weapons were corroded by the acidic slime. She went down the next round, and it was up to the kinder assassin and the dragonborn paladin to bring it to a conclusion, which they did. Beside the magical component they were looking for, they were rewarded with 500 gold pieces, a magic suit of banded +1 and a wand of magic missiles with 10 charges.
And they made it to third level. Good game.