Dreadnaught (4e Environment)

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A dreadnaught is an immense living fortress, a half mile or more in length. It poses a significant threat, and can spell disaster for the surrounding county if not dealt with. Part organic and part construct, it has batteries of artillery and can spawn an army of lesser creatures.

Dealing with a dreadnaught is not the same as trying to defeat other gigantic monsters such as a terrasque. It is so large that it involves many encounters to beat, including combat encounters, skill challenges and exploration elements. These vary depending on the tier of play. At Heroic tier, the party sneaks along the back of the dreadnaught, and perhaps into its interior, to destroy important mechanisms or organs. Paragon tier characters fight with allied forces, engaged in mass combat against spawning monsters and destroying artillery along the dreadnaught's flank. At Epic tier, the party takes on the threats that the allied army cannot handle - assaulting the main tower.

Origin and appearance[edit]

A dreadnaught can appear in three different ways.

Abyssal worm-like dreadnaughts tunnel through the ground. For a day preceding its attack, the land is wracked by earthquakes. Then the dreadnaught emerges, swallowing whatever is on the surface - possibly a significant portion of a city.

Dreadnaughts constructed in the Far Realm appear from the stars above. Astronomers will be the first to notice its descent. Such adequate warning, if heeded, will grant a day or two for evacuation. They have wings to slow its descent in the final hours, so immense that they turn day into night. The landing creates a shockwave that flattens structures and trees in the immediate vicinity, and knocks creatures over for miles around.

Astral dreadnaughts teleport. The only possible warning might be from seers or prophets, or from studious wizards who can detect foreboding ripples in space. Their appearance is instantly destructive to whatever occupies the "landing" area, but causes no other secondary damage.

Constructing a dreadnaught takes centuries of labor, for the sole purpose of conquest.


The best way a heroic party can help defeat a dreadnaught is to sneak inside it. The easiest point of entry is the rear, or aft, which has the weakest artillery pieces.

Approaching the dreadnaught's aft has it's share of hazards. It consumes huge amounts of food, and excretes a proportionate amount of waste material. This attracts disease-spreading monsters such as dire flies.

If the dreadnaught notices the party approaching, it opens fire with artillery. Artillery shells can be alchemically explosive rounds or living creatures.

Explosive rounds are handled with a skill challenge, with acrobatics (dodge), stealth (hide behind cover) and athletics (run!) as primary skills. This challenge can be incorporated with a combat encounter with dire flies or with living creature shells.

Living creature shells are a combat encounter, with monsters (one standard or four minions) introduced each round in random squares. The initial creature should be a large one, such as a giant scorpion, enough to halt the party's advance and force them to fight.

Climbing the outer bastion requires a DC 20 Athletics check.

Heroic Tier Fantastic Terrain

These terrain features can be found on the surface or interior of the dreadnaught.

Name Summary Rules
Lymph Slime The dreadnaught produces rivers of this slippy internal fluid to catch invasive vermin, to be destroyed at lymph nodes. A creature that enters a square of lymph slime must pass a DC 15 Acrobatics check or fall prone. Creatures who are prone in lymph slime at the beginning of their turn are slid 4 squares (usually towards some other hazard)
Gastroid Tendrils These pseudopods react to the presence of things the dreadnaught wants to digest, extending up to wrap around. It's not a threat to heroes who keep on the move. A creature starting and ending their turn on any square of gastroid tendrils takes 5 acid damage.

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