“I Sting Your Face” and Other Fun Things You’ll Get to Say to Your Players

DM Notes and Battlemaps for DDAL09-13 The Swarmed Heart

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This adventure has that kind of searing hot pain you feel when you get stung by a bee. Except that it’s not a bee it’s a wasp. And that wasp is the size of a horse. And it’s got a stinger as long as your arm dripping with infernal venom headed right for your eyeball. 

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Here there be spoilers. DM eyes only lest ye be cursed!

Overview

Like all things spicy hot this has great flavor. Real life wasp nests are creepy enough let alone a nest the size of an office building being held aloft above the lava pools of Avernus by tormented angels.

The story is a fairly straightforward investigate and retrieval mission for Dara. But there is a sweet secret subplot, The Final Temptation, with Mahadi who tries to trick the characters into buying spa treatments and food they can’t afford at the Infernal Rapture so he can get leverage on them. That’s the kind of thing that makes me wring my hands and laugh manically when I think nobody is listening. Play that up.

Trekking to the hive is a great opportunity to bring Avernus to life. Take some time with this section to describe the terrible terribleness of hell.  The dust gets everywhere and leaves a terrible acrid taste in the mouth. Lean into how hot and uncomfortable it is. A spa day at the Infernal Rapture will be just the thing they need when they get back to Mahadi’s Emporium…hahaha.

I thought the hellwasps and heelwasp queen were too weak for veteran tier 3 players so I made a hellwasp solider and tuned up the hellwasp queen (see the stats below). Enjoy!

Bottom Level

A1 – Bottom Layer

This is most likely point of entry. If the party has not been stealthy enough, they are attacked  by a hellwasp patrol which can be reinforced by the hellwasps in B1 in later rounds to make the battle more hectic. Remember that the ceilings are 30-50 feet high so the hellwasps can use that to their advantage. If they kill one, the queen will know and they should be at disadvantage if they try to talk to her. She will also be prepared for any attack. I recommend using this battle to soften up the party. It’s fine if they roll over the hellwasps and feel all overconfident (muhahaha). I would also hold back on  including any hellwasp soldiers so as not to tip your hand.

A2 – West Chamber

Gridditch  Thunderrune has a serious case of Stockholm Syndrome. The great thing about this encounter is how many different way it can go. Bonus points if you can role play Griditch and get him to to guide the party up to the queen and then bow low and offer them to her as a sacrifice.

Middle Level

B1 – West Chamber

This acts like a barracks for hellwasp reinforcements for areas A1 or B2. There is a pile of debris on the map in the northeast corner below the upper tunnel to area B2 and covering the pit in the lower entrance.

B2 – East Chamber

If the party entered on the bottom level in A1 then this is empty. Otherwise they encounter a hellwasp patrol here who will attack and send for reinforcements from B1. There is a pile of debris beneath the upper tunnel to B2 and another pile with a large skeleton of a deformed ogre below the tunnel leading up to the queen’s lair at C1.

Top Level

C – The Top Layer

The Queen awaits. If the party has done any fighting the queen will know and be hiding under her pile of filth and loot. The hellwasp soldiers will be hiding within striking distance up on the walls and columns . The regular hellwasps will be positioned between the entry hole and the queen.

A soft glow illuminates the body of the deva holding the heart of Raskamedies in the west wall.

Terrain: Per the adventure the ground is difficult terrain due to gore and other grossness. I added  puddles of sticky gold crour as an additional hazard. Think of them as glue traps. Any creature who enters the cruor on a turn or starts it’s turn there must make a DC15 Strength save or have their speed reduced to 0. A creature can use their action to make a DC 15 Strength (Athletics) to break free.

Hellwasp Queen: Take a look at the The Queen’s stat block below. I, ahem, may have taken her to the lab and made a few improvements.

  • Replaced here Detect legendary action with Mobile which allows her to move back into the shadows for defense or pounce on a soft target.
  • Gave her immunity to poison damage so she can move freely through he toxic gas lair action.
  • Fixed her sting attack which was listed as “bite” in the adventure.
  • Added a 10 ft. knockback effect to her wing attack so she can push creatures into the sticky cruor.

Tactics: The hellwasp queen should open with the toxic gas lair action and then use her shadow breath to catch as many enemies as possible. She will then use her minions as interference for hit and run attacks. She can use her mobile legendary action to fly out of danger and into the shadows where her infernal fortitude gives her resistance to most damage types. If she can survive enough rounds she will get her breath attack again which is just good fun. Don’t forget any characters killed by her shadow breath turn into hellwasps which just tickles me.

The hellwasp soldiers will focus their attacks on dragging non-martial looking characters into the sticky cruor using their grappling mandibles. If they have enough movement they can drag a grappled character into the air and drop them into the cruor causing them to also fall prone if they take any falling damage.

The regular hellwasps will engage any martial looking characters.

Wrapping Up

If the characters survived and make it back to the Emporium, be sure to lure them into the Infernal Rapture for The Final Temptation. Having them owe Mahadi opens so many great RP possibilities.

Monsters

Here are the stats and ready-to-use tokens for the hellwasp queen and hellwasp holdier. Click on the thumbnail then right-click or CTRL-click on the full image to download.

Credits

One Response

  1. These were great improvements!! and made a great a difficult battle for us players. It was really fun! Thanks!

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