So. About that. This goes back to Dungeons & Dragons 4th edition.

The campaign had been called Seal Watch, after the name of the small island community that had gone missing only to be rebuilt by another wave of very curious settlers. The island was a rocky crag covered with tall, scraggly pine trees, cold and isolated. As these things so often happen in games, the party found themselves far from home and deep in the woods.

Enter the Drow.

Now, on a personal note, I tend not to use the Drow very often as a DM. Maybe I’d encountered them too many times as a player or something, but they felt very one-note and came with a lot of baggage and expectations. But for my purposes in this game, they were perfect because all I wanted was that one note, complete with baggage and expectations to give the party a huge misdirect.

The party was jumped by a Drow surface expedition, and while things looked a little rough the first round or two, they started to think they might make it out okay. The even managed to drop one of their attackers.

Then they heard it. The crackle of dry pine branches high over head, followed by the terrified cries from one of the Drow archers. All eyes turned skyward as the Arboreal Kraken made it’s terrifying approach through the canopy, using its massive tentacles to pull itself through the trees.

The players didn’t know what to make of it. There is a list of places one might expect to encounter a kraken. A pine forest was not on that list. But they weren’t idiots, and they knew one of the cardinal rules of gaming: when the Drow run from a threat, it’s best that you run from it as well.

They even hucked the body of the dark elf they’d killed back behind them, hoping it would be delayed enough eating carrion to give them a head start. They were right, and both the Drow and the players lived to fight another day. They never actually fought the Arboreal Kraken as best as I can remember, but I was prepared. I had just used regular kraken stats but made it airborne and vulnerable to fire, deciding that the gas bladders that allowed it to float made it as fire-proof as the Hindenburg.

It was one of the most memorable fights I’ve run in the last few years, and everyone lived to tell the tale–even the Arboreal Kraken itself who has since floated its way into legendary status.

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