Last session though, I had occasion to design an Actual Tactical Combat Encounter. Grid map and everything! Again, just something I made up on the fly an hour before the game started, but I like it and I reckon there are bits here you lovely folk might be able to steal.
References to my campaign's setting are for my own amusement, you may obviously adapt them to your liking
Ice and Steam - a 5e Encounter for characters of roughly Level 3
The players can enter the cave from the south on their way through the Ice Path. It would provide a good shelter from bandits or a sudden blizzard, and if they are searching for something on this route then they will likely want to check it anyway.
Heck, they're D&D players. It's a cave. They'll want to go in.
|forgive the scribbles, and the photography. i am a Writer|
The ceiling is about 10ft up and covered in icicles. The floor is frosty, except for under the red pipe that emerges from the cave wall, about 3ft off the ground, and continues to the far end, disappearing once more into the rock.
There are patches of ice (difficult terrain) on the floor (that's what those shaded bits are supposed to be).
The pipe is red not through paint or the type of metal, but the superheated steam within. (Travellers from Arcadia Pits will know this, having seen the pipe's origin in the second reservoir.) Contact with the pipe causes 2d4 fire damage per round. It's high enough off the ground that a gnome could walk under, but anyone taller would have to roll acrobatics to duck or roll as they move. There's also enough space above the pipe to move freely over it.
The two northern tunnels lead to eisengor nests. The left one has a further hole at the back that leads up and out of the cave.
The big tunnel opening to the left is an ice slide almost 100ft long that descends into a lower cavern Here is the frozen body of the man the party was tasked with finding, Nabokov.
Inside the main cave are 1d4 eisengor. The rest are nesting in the top-left or top-right caverns, and will come if another eisengor flees to fetch them. (Total no. of monsters is whatever you deem appropriate to the number of party members - I went with 4 apiece which was challenging but very doable.)
Picture the monsters from Attack the Block, but reverse the colours (white fur, black teeth), and scale them up by like 3 times. Big ol' yeti-gorilla boys. Their arms are longer and more muscular than their short legs, and their hands are huge, padded and clawed, with opposable thumbs. They know the pipe is hot and are smart enough to avoid it.
Alignment: is an artefact of a single D&D campaign and has no inherent bearing on the modern game
AC 14, HP 32, Movement 50ft
High Str, decent Wis - use Lion stats from the PHB if you need them for saves etc
CR: is nonsense
XP: not today, Satan
Claw: +5 to hit, melee, 1d6+3 damage
Bite: +5 to hit, melee, 1d8+3 damage
Icicle Throw: +3 to hit, 15ft range, 1d10 damage, DC 13 dex save vs being knocked prone.
Multiattack: 2 attacks on its turn
Charge: If an eisengor uses at least 20ft of movement and then attacks, the target makes a DC 13 Strength save on a hit. If they fail they are knocked prone.
Savage: may use a free action to make a Bite attack against a prone enemy once per turn
Grasping Claws: If an eisengor makes two claw attacks against the same target in a turn and they both hit, the target must make a DC 13 Strength save or become restrained. While an eisengor has a target restrained it cannot use its claw attacks, but all Bite attacks are instant criticals and deal d10 damage
Ice Climber: An eisengor can use icicles or other cave features to hang and swing, monkey-like. They ignore terrain and obstacles below them while swinging. (As long as they are about 10ft up or less they're still in melee range because they're so big, but the space right under them is considered usable by other creatures if it's empty.)
*appropriate dress varies... the ogres up-mountain seem to be content with scraps of fur, while if a human came here without a dose of sun oil they'd freeze in an instant. The wrestler Icarus Armageddon, known to his friends as Odeir, doesn't seem to feel the cold either...