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  • Gone Shockingly Awry – Lightning Elemental Encounter for 5e

An encounter with a supercharged elemental designed for Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition. Battle maps and stat blocks included!

An experiment has gone terribly wrong and a being of pure energy now wreaks havoc within a wizard’s tower. Nearby townsfolk want to know what is happening. The wizard himself is desperate for assistance.

A wizard’s tower looms ominously over a small farming village. It leverages the quiet secrecy of the region, avoiding all attention save for that of the people below, who glance nervously at each sound and light that spills from the tower’s windows. Most of the time, it is quiet. But lately, there has been a cacophony of sparks and crashes from within the structure. Curiosity grows in the townsfolk, though the fear of the reclusive mage’s newest project prevents anyone from approaching. They are, however, willing to pay for someone to investigate.

Within the tower, a monster of pure lightning has been born. It is the product of the wizard’s attempt to reanimate an assembled corpse by combining a surge of electricity with an infusion of his own limited necromantic magic. An unfortunate miscalculation saw the two energies ignore the corpse entirely and instead combine, leaving the mage with only a charred cadaver and an angry, unbound lightning elemental.

Magical wards will immediately seal any trespassers within the tower. These are a desperate attempt by the wizard to contain his creation, which has spent the last few days and nights running amock and destroying most of his belongings. The man himself has remained invisible. He frantically searches for a way to be rid of the creature, and would much appreciate any capable intruders who might do it for him. Not that they have much choice, as the wards will only release once it is dead.

The Wizard’s Tower

You step through the door and peer at the tables of notes, reagents, and implements. The various items are scattered throughout the room, clearly tossed from their shelves, some of them burned. A curious scent fills the room from mixed, charred herbs and inks. You feel your skin prickle with ambient static. And as you take it all in, the door slams shut behind you, the faint glow of runes igniting and then fading across the frame and lock.

Intelligence (Investigation) check vs the wizard’s Dexterity (Stealth) (rolled at advantage for invisibility)…

The room is in tatters with no clear objective or reason to the chaos, though you do notice something on the ground. Amidst a layer of scattered ash and gem dust is a set of tracks. Multiple paths of the same boots cross each other haphazardly, with the most recent leading to the opposite end of the room. Your eyes follow them and you see a new bootprint press into the dust against the far wall.

The resident wizard has evaded the elemental by rendering himself invisible, hiding, and blinking into the Ethereal Plane whenever it finds him. He is paranoid and skeptical of the intruders and will follow them for a time to ascertain their motives. If discovered, the panicked mage will beg and bargain for their help, noting that he can only drop the tower’s wards once it is safe. The elemental cannot be allowed to escape.

Battle Map Downloads

You can find the lightning spell assets this encounter and creature were designed around, as well as others for the wizard’s tower, below…

The Lightning Elemental

Arcs of lightning strike together, sending sparks crackling around them and joining where they collide. The bolts and forks of electricity chaotically twist around each other. They slowly rise into a loose but identifiable form. It seems to turn towards you as the air around it burns and fills with growling static.

The lightning elemental, like its cousins, is a being comprised entirely of its element. And just like its element, it strikes with the greatest speed of its kind. This comes by way of the ability to transfer itself through its attacks, teleporting across the battlefield to strike wherever is most opportune. It is not the most durable of the elementals but its offensive strength more than makes up for that. Its strongest bolts can even render its targets immobile and open to further attacks.

Lightning Elemental 5e Stat Block
Click to zoom in!

Designing the lightning elemental began with its closest relative, the air elemental. Firstly, a portion of its Strength score was transferred to its Wisdom, representing a less solid physical form but greater tactical judgment. It likewise received immunity to lightning damage.
Next came its unique abilities. Lightning Form mimics the same abilities seen on other elementals, including the fire elemental’s rebound damage but without its repeating burn damage. Its attacks were where its unique identity began, drawing inspiration from chain lightning in their ability to hit multiple targets, though with its primary attack dealing reduced damage on the second hit. These actions then feed into its Shocking Step to allow the elemental to transfer its body through the bolts, thereby constantly teleporting around the playing field.
Chain Bolt was originally intended to stun targets, though this was reduced to incapacitation due to the ability to stun-lock players if the action recharged on subsequent turns (the stunned condition causing creatures to automatically fail their Dexterity saving throw).Giving the elemental the ‘advantage against metal armor’ of shocking grasp was a constant possibility during its creation. In the end, the ability to chain damage on its primary attack as well as to incapacitate targets with its recharging action was strong enough.

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About the author

Troy McConnell

Part-time DM and author of 2-Minute Tabletop's encounters, map lore, and characters. Basically, I write about all the campaign ideas that I don't have time to run. All with the assistance of my feline familiar, Wink.

You can support my writing efforts on Patreon.

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