Adventure Hook: The Bull Ring

Designed for 5th Edition Dungeons & Dragons by Mark-Alexander Cross.

Gorgons are one of my favorite monsters in Dungeons & Dragons, monstrous iron bulls that can charge and petrify you. They are a great early game boss in my opinion that will get your players thinking especially if they are newcomers, so let us grab those horns and charge into the ring!

Number of Players: 3-6 Level: 3-5 (depending on party number)

Note: This hook will require the Monster Manual for Gorgon stats.

Read this aloud to your players:

“You awaken after several hours unconscious but you have no memory of passing out in the first place. Your surroundings are pitch black but you are all within a circle of light that makes you all visible until you are blinded by a tremendous burst of light.

Upon recovery you find yourself in a sandpit circular arena with seating stands made of marble and wood that stretch all around and ascend by 80 feet. The seats are only a quarter full which marks out a lavish theatre box adorned with silk curtains coloured red and royal purple, and five grand thrones upon marble flooring that oversee a balcony carved out of mahogany coated in a glistening amber.

Seated on each throne are humanoid figures; one adult male and female, an elderly female figure and two children no older than teenage (passive perceptions of 15 can deduce around 12 years old). They all wear toga like wrappings tucked into a finely made set of trousers/pants with their faces covered with muriel masks similar to a Roman Bust.

The figurehead (your choice, to me if was the adult woman) stands to proclaim to the arena, addressing them as if it was at full capacity, for the games to begin with the words ‘entertain us’. Out of a rising gate 50 feet away from you a Gorgon burst into the arena and five 30 feet tall coloured pillars rise out of the earth.”

Time to fight, time to survive

The arena is a 100 feet circumference with your players at the very central point and the five pillars scattered all over at your discretion. Modify the Gorgon to have resistance to all bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage to begin with (including magical weapons) and immunities to all spell effects up to 6th level.

The five coloured pillars are the key to this fight as they can aid and setback your players with the following effects:

Red: Your party gains resistance to bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage but the Gorgon gains advantage on all attacks.

Yellow: Spell immunity for the Gorgon is permanently lost and each party member may use a hit dice if needed.

Blue: Another Gorgon but with a lowered AC of 12, max hit points at 60 and no special resistances enters the battlefield and acts on the same roll as its twin.

Pink: Gorgon resistance to all bludgeoning, piercing and slashing damage is lost permanently and each party member may use a hit dice if needed.

Black: The master reset as all party members get the benefits of a long rest instantly but so does the Gorgon’s with the main enemy getting his special resistances back too.

A player must be within five feet to use a pillar and it requires a full action to touch and activate it. All pillars can be turned on and off bar the black pillars which loses its colour and dies out after use.

The Aftermath

If your players win the fight then hopefully there is enough teases here to continue the adventure if you wish; who kidnapped the party? What is it with the strangers in the box and the half full crowd? How come the Gorgon is very powered and for what reason?

My take was a rich and powerful half-elven family who owns a great deal of land and becomes delusional as roman style rulers. The family meddles with monsters and captures numerous adventurers to fight in their “grand arena” for entertainment and testing for their invasion plans to take more land from the true rulers.

As ever the story is yours.

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