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5e: Roadside Encounter: Flea Knights Burning Books

A quick encounter for my 5e group, built around reskinning Trey Causey's 5e Imskians.

By the side of the road, there is a pavilion tent, surrounded a dozen smaller tents. There is a large cooking fire with a great bronze pot and sever skewered animals roasting. Humanoid creatures mill around the camp. To one side, eight large, chitinous beasts, looking at first like brown, armored elephants, mill quietly in the shade of some trees. An impressive bronze banner is stationed amid the tents. Its standard is a golden cabbage on a field of red. Guards are posted, and likely to spot the PCs as the approach.

Four Pulex Knights and soldiers are traveling the countryside, looking for the fabled Lost Library. They are on a quest to destroy the Lost Library, as a place of infamy and necromancy, filled with secrets best forgotten (successful Arcana or History check may reveal that the Lost Library is also know as the Library of Hell, or the Stygian Library). They are courteous and friendly as a default. However, they have left a trail of burned out homes, temples, and monasteries and dead or distraught victims in their zeal.

Sir Abril
Dame Amalle
Sir Non
Dame Pinna
12 Soldier (a mix of squires and Pulex-at-arms)
8 Warfleas

The Pulex Empire lies somewhere to the South, over the Sea. The Pulex Knights serve at the Pleasure of Emperor Oien Maximi.

Pulex Racial Traits
Humanoids with large, glossy black eyes and skin that runs from lemon-yellow to rust-brown. In lieu of a nose, they sport a number of feelers above their mouth that look like bushy moustaches. Their clothing and armor evokes the morphology fleas.

Ability Score Increase. A Pulex can improve one ability score of their choice by 2 points and another by one point.
Size. Medium.
Speed. 30 feet.
Languages. Pulexian and Common.
Shrinking. As a bonus action, Pulex can reduce their size to Tiny. Returning to normal size is also a bonus action. Clothes and equipment carried on their person shrink as well. Their weapons do 1d4 less damage (minimum of 1) at the reduced size. Tiny Pulex have a disadvantage on Strength checks and saving throws, but an advantage on Stealth checks. They can attempt to hide when obscured by a creature that is at least one size larger. Their Armor Class is increased by one at their shrunken size. Base movement is reduced to 10 feet, but they can, as an action, jump 30 feet.

Pulex Knight
Armor Class 18
Hit Points 52 (8d8+16)
Speed 30 ft.
STR 16 (+3) DEX 11 (0) CON 14 (+2) INT 11 (0) WIS 11 (0) CHA 15 (+2)
Passive Perception 10
Saves: CON +4; WIS +2
Multiattack. 2 melee attacks.
Greatsword. Melee Attack: +5 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. Hit: 10 (2d6+1) slashing damage.
Heavy Crossbow. Ranged Attack: +2 to hit, range 100/400 ft., one target. Hit: 5 (1d10) piercing damage.
Leadership. For 1 minute, the Pulex knight can utter a command or warning whenever a non-hostile creature that it can see within 30 feet of it makes an attack roll or a saving throw. The creature can add a d4 to its roll provided it can hear and understand the knight. A creature can benefit from only one Leadership die at a time. This effect ends if the knight is incapacitated. Recharges after a Short or Long Rest.
Parry. + 2 to its AC against one melee attack that would hit it. To do so, the Pulex knight must see the attacker and be wielding a melee weapon.

Pulex Soldier
Armor Class 12 Hit Points 11 (2d8+2) Speed 30 ft.
STR 11 (0) DEX 12 (+1) CON 12 (+1) INT 10 (0) WIS 10 (0) CHA 10 (0)
Passive Perception 10
Sword. Melee Attack: +3 to hit, reach 5 ft., one creature. Hit: 4 (1d6+1) slashing damage.
Light Crossbow. Ranged Attack: +3 to hit, range 80/320 ft., one creature. Hit: 5 (1d8+1) piercing damage.

Large beast
Armor Class 11
Hit Points 19 (3d10+3)
Speed 60 ft.
STR 18 (+4) DEX 12 (+1) CON 13 (+1) INT 2 (-4) WIS 12 (+1) CHA 7 (-2)
Passive Perception 11
Charge. If the Warflea moves at least 20 ft. straight toward a creature and then hits it with a headbutt attack on the same turn, that target must succeed on a DC 14 Strength saving throw or be knocked prone.
Shrinking. Using a bonus action, a Warflea can reduce their size to Small. Returning to normal size also requires a bonus action. Their clothes and equipment carried on their person shrink as well. Their headbutt attack inflicts 2d4 damage at the reduced size. Their Armor Class is increased by one at their shrunken size. Base movement is reduced to 30 feet, but they can, as an action, jump 120 feet.
Headbutt. Melee Attack: +6 to hit, reach 5 ft., one target. (2d6 + 4) bludgeoning damage.

700 cp, 7000 sp, 2700 gp, Bronze Cloth Cloak (250 gp), Leopard Fur Gloves set with Carnelian (250 gp), Elaborate Scabbard (250 gp), Ermine Choker (250 gp), Potion of Superior Healing, Scroll of Protection (celestials), Immovable Rod

This was meant as a too-strong-to-take-on encounter for my PCs. They met the Pulex, had a friendly encounter over a roast lunch, and then went on. An hour down the road, they found a burning monastery, the survivors of which described the Pulex as the perpetrators. Filled with righteous indignation, the party snuck back to the Pulex camp under cover of darkness, and exhausted all their spell slots putting the Warfleas to sleep and then killing them.

The plan had been to kill the mounts and then run away, but this group has a lot of kids in it, and they couldn't resist attacking the Pulex once they became aware of the PCs' actions. They were quickly trounced by the Pulex, and only escaped with their lives because our session time was ending, and I didn't want to pause in mid-battle. So now they're being hunted by zealous knights who can hide in a boot.

All of this is to plant the idea that, somewhere out in the world, there is a library that contains the answer to any question. Sooner or later, they'll want to find that library. And then I get to run the Stygian Library!


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