by Mike Shea on 19 December 2011
This past week, Wizards of the Coast published my second Abyssal Plague article, Abyssal Plague Epic Threats (DDI Subscription required). This article contains four epic-tier Abyssal Plague monsters including the Herald, the Exarch, and the Voidharrow itself. Today I'm going to give you a couple of potential terrain elements and a couple of recommended encounter maps you might use when running your own epic-tier Abyssal Plague campaign.
In the Voidharrow's pocket universe, the pure red essence of its being pours over the ground in pools of malevolent red jelly. Any mortal who steps into these pools finds themselves filled with a seething blinding rage against other mortals.
Abyssal Plague Pool: Any mortal creature within this pool takes -4 to all defenses and vulnerable 15 to all damage. If a mortal creature ends its turn within the pool, it takes a free action to move its speed and attack with an at-will attack against its closest ally with a +15 damage bonus.
Design note: Reducing defenses and adding vulnerability is a great way to keep the threat on a PC without reducing actions with things like daze, stun, or immobilize. The free-action attack is a good alternative to dominate. It has the same effect without removing any actions from the target.
Throughout the Voidharrow's pocket universe, black poisonous gas billows from cracks in the ground that lead to the chambers of the Elder Elemental Eye itself.
Breath of the Eye: Any creature that begins its turn within the gas takes 25 poison damage. This damage ignores up to 10 points of damage resistance. This gas blocks line of sight and any creature within the cloud is blind.
Design note: The damage resistance penetration is a way to help deal with the issues around damage resistance without removing it completely. If they have 15 poison resist, something they could conceivably have at epic, this will still give them resist 5.
The battle maps from the Fantastic Location: Hellspike Prison map pack offer some very good battle maps that represent the chambers of the Voidharrow's pocket universe. Though out of print, some stores still carry new copies of this four-map set, and it's worth the money to pick it up. The hellspike map, the magma keep map, and the temple map all would make excellent encounter areas that use the above terrain effects to full advantage.
If you enjoyed this article, please take a look at Sly Flourish's Dungeon Master Tips and Running Epic Tier D&D Games. Snaketongue Cultists make for great Heralds and the Huge Fire Elemental makes for a great Voidharrow miniature. Both are available at Troll and Toad, an official Sly Flourish sponsor.