The Road to Baldur’s Gate has led our heroes to a small town just north of the historic Boareskyr Bridge, now all that’s left to do is cross it. In the middle of their crossing however, they are ambushed and hemmed in from both sides! Yuan-ti from the marshy nation of Najara are eyeing the northern reaches of Elturgard for invasion, and the characters may become the first casualties in their war of conquest!
This week’s encounter is titled Najaran Nemeses, and it pits your freshly rested characters against a deadly ambush. . The characters actually have a chance to spend a night or two in this settlement to recover, buy the services of mercenaries or torchbearers, and chat with NPCs before continuing on their journey. This encounter is part of the series “The Road to Baldur’s Gate,” in which a group of adventurers will travel down the Sword Coast over road and wilderness, from the gates of Waterdeep to the threshold of Baldur’s Gate. You may use this series as an introduction to the upcoming D&D storyline Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, as an expansion to the caravan sequence in the first D&D storyline adventure, Hoard of the Dragon Queen, or piecemeal as standalone encounters.
You can keep track of this journey on this massive map of the Sword Coast, originally presented in the Sword Coast Adventurer’s Guide. The trip from Waterdeep to Baldur’s Gate covers about 750 miles of both road and off-road wilderness. A small party on horseback can cover about 24 miles per day at a casual pace, with just under two days off for rest per tenday of travel. All in all, this journey takes just over a month to complete for a small party of adventurers—assuming they’re well-prepared and no serious complications arise. And note, not every day of travel needs to be represented by an encounter; the characters may go for days with only minor encounters with passing merchants or travelers.
This is the eighth encounter along this journey. The previous encounters are:
- The Road to Baldur’s Gate
- Devil in the Details
- Danger in Daggerford
- Misty Marauders
- Detour Past Dragonspear
- Trollclaw Terrors
- A Break at Boareskyr Bridge
The characters should be at least 3rd level by the time they begin this encounter. Though this encounter series is supposed to lead directly into Baldur’s Gate: Descent into Avernus, that adventure begins its characters at 1st level. You can choose one of the following options, or create your own plan, in order to make this series flow smoothly into Descent into Avernus:
- Treat this series as a prologue, and start Descent into Avernus fresh at 1st level with new characters
- Scale up the Baldur's Gate content in Descent into Avernus from 1st to 3rd level, and slow XP gain down significantly by halving or even quartering XP values until they reach Avernus.
- Skip the Baldur's Gate content and go straight to Avernus.
Combat Encounter: Najaran Nemeses
This combat encounter is suitable for characters of 3rd level.
It’s an ambush! The characters have departed the little trade town of Northbridge Village and are now crossing the ancient Boareskyr Bridge. The part of the Trade Way they’re traveling on may be completely overgrown and overwhelmed by the encroaching wilderness, but being this close to some sort of civilization is enough to make anyone feel safe. What’s more, Fort Tamal stands on the southern bank of the Winding Water, manned by a garrison of Elturgard’s greatest knights. To prepare for an ambush on Boareskyr Bridge would be the height of paranoia.
Yuan-ti from the region between the Serpent Hills and the Marsh of Chelimber—a secretive kingdom of naga, yuan-ti, and other scaled creatures known as Najara—have entered the realm of Elturgard. The scaled folk of Najara have skirmished with the border regions of Elturgard for as long as the young latter nation has existed. Their plan is simple: send a strike force down the Winding Water and seize Boareskyr Bridge, then raid Northbridge Village for supplies and hostages. With Boareskyr Bridge taken, the knights of Fort Tamal will be cut off from the village, and the villagers will have nowhere to run. The yuan-ti have a deadly plan of attack, but they failed to account for one wrinkle: the heroes.
With the adventurers atop the bridge, they are the first line of defense against the Najaran invaders, whether they like it or not.
When the characters begin walking across Boareskyr Bridge, read or paraphrase the following:
You step onto the stones of Boareskyr Bridge, walking beneath the stone legs of Cyric, and towards the austere, crossed arms of Bhaal. These two massive statues mark the memory of a battle between two of Faerûn’s greatest villains—but now these grim monuments are symbols of the people’s triumph over evil. You continue walking for several hundred feet, until you pass the center of the bridge. Bhaal’s impassive eyes glare down at you, as every step towards Baldur’s Gate brings you closer and closer to the stone-faced god of death.
As the characters gaze upward at the imposing statue of Bhaal, a group of yuan-ti scouts slither silently through the waters of the river beneath, and begin climbing up one pillar towards the top of the bridge. Likewise, a small army of yuan-ti and lizardfolk are amassing several hundred yards north, just out of sight of Northbridge Village. A character with a passive Wisdom (Perception) score of 19 or higher hears faint scratching and hissing beneath the bridge, about 20 feet to their right. If that character investigates, they see a snake-headed humanoid about to peek over the bridge’s guardrail, while a humanoid with snakes for arms struggles to climb the pillar, and two humanoids with yellow, slit-pupiled eyes try to help the snake-armed being climb.
If none of the characters notice this sound, they are surprised when a group of four yuan-ti leap onto the bridge and attack them from behind. This strike team is led by a yuan-ti malison (type 1), with three subordinates: a yuan-ti malison (type 2) and two yuan-ti purebloods. The type 1 malison wears a ring of swimming and the type 2 malison wears a ring of jumping on the big toe of his right foot, since he doesn’t have any fingers.
(If you have a group of four characters or fewer, you can make the encounter easier by removing two yuan-ti purebloods or one yuan-ti malison.)
Boareskyr Bridge, as it appears in Baldur's Gate Enhanced Edition: Siege of Dragonspear by Beamdog
Battle on Boareskyr Bridge
The yuan-ti kill first, ask questions later. The characters they have stumbled across are an impediment to their plan to cut off the escape of fleeing villagers—and the advance of knights coming to the rescue. They are a nuisance that must be slain, and quickly, too. They attack without hesitation or mercy. If the yuan-ti malisons are killed, the yuan-ti purebloods flee northward. If the yuan-ti purebloods are killed, the yuan-ti malisons will each try to use suggestion to cause two of their enemies to surrender. If this succeeds, they try to force the other adventurers to surrender, as well. If their suggestions fail, they continue attacking.
Boareskyr Bridge is a bridge of black granite about 1,200 feet long and 50 feet wide. It stands about 60 feet above the waters of the river below.
If the characters are defeated, the last thing they see before drifting into unconsciousness is a crossbow bolt blast through the serpentine head of one of the yuan-ti and a deep-voiced war horn bellow a warning blast. While they are unconscious, a paladin from Fort Tamal, one of the famed Companions of Elturgard, rushes across the bridge with five knights in tow. She stops and heals each of the characters for 5 hit points with her Lay on Hands, and the knights hurl the yuan-ti bodies from the bridge—and the characters lose the opportunity to loot the magical rings from the yuan-ti malisons. From there, the scenario continues as if the characters had succeeded.
If the characters defeat the yuan-ti, they have a few minutes to search the yuan-ti. Each carries 25 gp of Najaran mint, and the malisons each wear a magical ring (as described above). Moments later, screams issue from Northbridge Village as the Najaran warband invades, and a paladin of Elturgard and five knights from Fort Tamal—who saw the adventurers get attacked—rush to the middle of the bridge. This wood elf paladin of Torm, named Dahlia Wispwillow, greets the characters and heals each of them for 5 hit points with her Lay on Hands trait.
Wispwillow urges them to make haste southward, towards Elturel. She gives them a silver holy symbol of Torm (one of several she keeps on her person) and tells them to alert High Overseer Thavius Kreeg of the Najaran invasion once they reach Elturel. She has no time to listen to protests or explanations, and insists that they travel south while she and the rest of the Companions repel the Najaran attack. She and her knights bid the characters farewell and ride across the bridge towards Northbridge Village.
If the characters refuse to follow orders and fight alongside the knights to save Northbridge, the attacking force is comprised of 25 lizardfolk, 10 yuan-ti purebloods, 5 yuan-ti malisons of various types, and is led by a glory-starved warlord, a yuan-ti abomination named Sslarkaraz. This attack was not ordered by the ruler of Najara, but was entirely Sslarkaraz’s own bid at conquest.
Did you like this encounter? If you want to read more adventures, take a look at the other encounters in the Encounter of the Week series! If you're looking for full adventures instead of short encounters, you can pick up the adventures I've written on the DMs Guild, such as The Temple of Shattered Minds, a suspenseful eldritch mystery with a mind flayer villain (for 3rd level characters). My most recent adventures are included in the Platinum Bestseller Tactical Maps: Adventure Atlas, a collection of 88 unique encounters created by the Guild Adepts, which can be paired with the beautiful tactical poster maps in Tactical Maps Reincarnated, recently published by Wizards of the Coast.
James Haeck is the lead writer for D&D Beyond, the co-author of Waterdeep: Dragon Heist and the Critical Role Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, the DM of Worlds Apart, and a freelance writer for Wizards of the Coast, the D&D Adventurers League, and Kobold Press. He lives in Seattle, Washington with his partner Hannah and their feline adventurers Mei and Marzipan. You can usually find him wasting time on Twitter at @jamesjhaeck.