D&D 5eGM Resources

Monthly Encounter #12: An Abominable Cavern (lvls 5-10)

Thumbnail art from Grady Frederick

Here at Tribality, we’ve decided to provide our readers with Encounters ready to be added to your table. I’ll be creating new ones monthly for you to have a big collection to look through when you run out of ideas for your game. If people end up liking them we may start releasing them in easy to print PDF format.

Don’t forget to comment feedback or possible variations for others to see and/or possibly implement when running this encounter. Without further ado, hope you enjoy it:


Setting: Agnostic
Location: Arctic Mountain Region
Lvls: 5-10

Encounter background

After a disgraceful retreat from a fight against a small army from High Lakeview (a small town in an arctic mountain region), a roc took the near mountains as their domain. It knows now not to confront the town again and so looks for people foolish enough to wander few in numbers in the nearby zone.

In order to reach High Lakeview, you need to take the path surrounds this mountainous region. The rumor that the small town managed to drive away a fearsome roc has reached many other villages and cities, but none of them specify where the roc escaped to. It is in that same mountain where a family of yetis live. While most people consider them a boogeyman’s tale, the yetis treat the mountain as their home and have taken refuge from the roc in a cavern complex.

An Abominable Cavern

When traveling to High Lakeview the PCs need to walk through a  path surrounding some mountains. Read aloud the following text:

The path before you is completely filled with snow, making each step feel like a slog. The place you are trying to reach shouldn’t be that far from here. That’s when it begins to snowfall.

The snowy path the PCs are traveling through is considered difficult terrain. The heavy snowfall makes Wisdom (Perception) checks to be rolled at disadvantage.

After 2 hours of walking, a DC14 Wisdom (Perception) check reveals a blood-covered battleax partly hidden in the snow. Upon closer inspection and with a DC15 Wisdom (Insight) or Intelligence (Investigation) check one may understand that this weapon was not hidden but dropped by its attacked wielder. A DC13 Wisdom (Medicine) check reveals that the blood on the battleax is not from a humanoid individual. No matter if the PCs managed or not to find and inspect the ax, read the following text afterward:

A creaking noise resonates around the mountain making some snow fall particles drop from the mountain that has remained on your left for the past hours. A sudden shadow appears on the north in the sky, a silhouette of a bird. As time continues the shadow keeps growing in size indicating it is no normal bird, as if approaching at high speed.

Before the PCs, the path continues surrounding the mountain. As a secondary option, a cavern entrance lies against the mountain wall 60ft away from the player characters’ standpoint. The big bird is in fact a roc located 300ft away from the PCs.

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1. Bloodied Ax

The bloodied ax is found here covered in snow. No footprints nor trace can be seen nearby due to the snowfall.

2. Broken path

The path ahead is broken. A 5ft long-jump is all that is needed to reach to the continuing path. The PCs must make a DC10 Strength (Athletics) check to accomplish it or fall 300ft into solid ground.

3. Dead bush

A dead bush is located by the side that can be used as cover. A human corpse is located by the side. A DC16 Wisdom (Medicine) check reveals this human died from hypothermia. It is wearing a +1 half-plate armor in perfect state and contains a full set of climbing gear in its backpack, as well as 30gp. Use the doff rules from the PHB (p146) to remove the armor from the corpse.

4. Hanging wooden bridge

The bridge appears to have been unkept for a long time. A DC14 Intelligence (Investigation) or Intelligence (Carpenter’s Tools) indicates that the bridge won’t support more than 150 pounds without breaking. There is a 300ft fall below leading to a frozen lake.

5. The Yeti cavern

A DC12 Wisdom (Perception) check allows the characters to hear the sound of something piercing ice. 3 yetis can be found asleep in it, as well as half-eaten parts of different past individuals that dared cross this cavern. The walls are made out of translucid ice and there is no light source to be seen. The ceiling is covered with thousands of little stalactites. If dropped, they deal 3d8 damage to all creatures beneath them.

The player characters must pass a DC13 Dexterity (Stealth) group check to not wake up the sleeping yetis and a DC17 Dexterity (Stealth) group check to not alert the abominable yeti from area 6. A DC14 Wisdom (Perception) reveals a mithral armor within the corpses as well as a brooch of shielding.

6. The Ice Eating chamber

An abominable yeti is here attempting to eat a block of ice. The piercing noise is made by its attempts to break it. Due to the translucid ice walls, the abominable yeti can be seen from room 5. A great stalactite is located on the entrance to this place, which can be easily dropped. The abominable yeti lasts 2d6 turns in breaking through it.

7. The great slope

The 800ft long slope to reach the bottom of the mountain is fully covered in snow. Besides the cavern exit, a pine is rooted. At the base of the slope lies High Lakeview’s side entrance.

Skiing the slope

If the players decide to use something like a sled, ski, or snowboard, the vehicle can achieve a maximum speed of 120ft per turn allowing the PCs to attack but at disadvantage due to the fast movement.

Additional details

  • All the time the PCs are in this location they will have to survive the freezing cold temperature. Use the Extreme Cold rules from the DMG (p110) to handle it accordingly.
  • Even when the PCs are inside the cavern or going down the slope, make the roc present at all times. The roc is looking for easy prey, and the PCs fit that description perfectly. If they enter the cave make the roc smash the mountainside to (probably) make the stalactites drop on them. It may show its head from the cavern entrances to attack near creatures.
  • Whenever the roc isn’t making an attack it will use the Dash action to get closer to the PCs, even during the chase scene in the slope.
  • If the PCs get between 30ft from the mountain base the roc will leave them alone as it is scared from the people in High Lakeview.
  • The yetis fight until killed and don’t fight tactically. The only one who may fight in a more intelligent manner is the abominable yeti by attacking paralyzed PCs. If only one yeti is left, it can be scared away with a DC17 Charisma (Intimidation) or Strength (Intimidation) check.

Want more encounters?

If you liked this encounter and would like to see more consider reading one of the others I wrote!: