Two-Headed Terror

Levels 1-4

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After venturing down from the mountains, an ettin has been causing terror for anyone who approaches him. But can his better half be reasoned with?


The ettin (name suggestion: George and Havoc) have lost their usual feeding grounds after an earthquake and have moved close to a local village. Their preferred food is beef, and the local cow farmers are deeply, deeply upset with the situation. The left head is fed up with the violence and yearns to become vegetarian, while the right head is bitter about being attacked and wants to kill the humanoid assailants.

Recently, the captain of the town guard (name suggestion: Tom Advolin) has put together a group of rag-tag watchmen to go face the monster, but the plan seems likely to end in disaster. The group is set to leave at noon, but the situation may still be able to be resolved peacefully…


The party can be mixed up in this situation in a number of ways, but regardless of how they arrive, the encounter description begins when the townsfolk arrive at the ettin’s lair. There are 5 peasants, each one outfitted with a crude improvised weapon, and the ettin himself. The groups are hurling obscenities at each other from afar, but battle doesn’t break out…quite yet.


There are 2 main parties interested in the ettin’s home:

  • The ettin wants to remain here at all costs—he’s uncertain if he could ever find a place with this much to eat ever again.
  • The townsfolk want the ettin driven out or killed. Their cow population is dwindling by the day.

Using These Encounters

What do your player characters want? What are their best and worst qualities? What goals are they pursuing? Read through a few of the examples below, then choose the encounter that best suits your situation.

  • If you have player characters who are pious or helpful, or who like to defend the weak, run Encounter B. If, on the other hand, they are greedy or uncaring, run Encounter A.
  • If you have player characters who want to thwart a nefarious faction, run Encounter C. If you have player characters who want control of the food source in a region, run Encounter A.
  • If you have player characters who need a powerful ally, run Encounter B.
  • If the player characters are working to learn about an enemy faction, run Encounter C.
  • If the player characters are just looking to make a quick buck, any encounter would be appropriate.

Encounter A

In this encounter, the ettin has shepherded an entire pasture of cows into its cave. The cattle are raring to escape and stampede.

Setting up this Encounter

This encounter involves a massive stampede of cows. If you have player characters who are greedy or uncaring, then the peasants have half as many hit points as normal and disadvantage on saving throws. They also each have around 10 gold pieces worth of armor and weapons on them, scrounged up by their captain. PCs could arrange an unfortunate accident…but is the slaughter of innocent people worth it?If you have player characters looking to control the food source in a region, then the cows are particularly wild and afraid. Their speed is doubled, and they attempt to attack creatures that try to hinder or ride them.


The town guard arrives, the ettin prepares for battle! While any discussion is happening, the moos from the cave grow wilder and wilder. Finally, a loud crash is heard, and a stampede of nearly thirty cows flies into the mayhem!

The cows move as a group on Initiative Count 20. They can move through other creature’s spaces and end their turn there. The herd is packed very tightly together: they occupy only a 30 by 30 foot space. Any creatures in their path must succeed on a DC 13 Dexterity saving throw or be knocked Prone and take 1d6 bludgeoning damage.

The cows can potentially be forced to change their movements. A successful DC 18 Wisdom (Animal Handling) check can force the herd to change directions, but they refuse to stand still for as long as combat is occuring.

Resolving this Encounter

When this encounter finishes, your players who are greedy or uncaring may be able to loot the corpses of any unfortunates they manipulated. They may also eat well tonight if any cows suffered an unfortunate fate.If your players wanted to control the food source in a region, then they hopefully managed to herd the unruly cows into a better spot. The cows calm down once the fighting is over, and the characters can lead them where they please.

Encounter B

In this encounter, the peasants haven’t actually arrived yet. They will soon, but for now, the ettin is endlessly arguing with itself over what to do with the young calf it has stolen from the pasture.

Setting up this Encounter

This encounter involves negotiating with the ettin. If the party is pious or helpful, or who like to defend the weak, the ettin doesn’t just have a calf, but instead a beloved pet, potentially of a child from the village, an impoverished farmer, or of a church that reveres cattle as a symbol of their god.If the group needs a powerful ally, then the kinder side of the ettin has more control over the body. At the start of any turn, each head of the ettin may make a contested Wisdom saving throw, rerolling ties, and the winner assumes control of the body for the turn.


Both heads of the ettin want different things. The left head is sympathetic towards their newly captured creature, and wants to keep it as a pet. It also frequently brings up wanting to become a vegetarian. The right head is bitter after many hard years and just wants to eat the thing already.

The party can try to reason with both heads, not just the left one, but the left is more receptive to their appeals. A successful DC 17 check (appropriate to whichever course of action the characters take) may be enough to persuade the ettin. The check could potentially be Charisma (Persuasion), Charisma (Intimidation), or even Charisma (Performance) given the right circumstances.

Resolving this Encounter

Player characters who are pious or helpful, or who like to defend the weak, the calf hopefully escapes unscathed and the ettin either leaves or decides to coexist peacefully with the town. If the encounter comes to blows, the town is at least saved from its wrath.Player characters who need a powerful ally can hopefully persuade the ettin to aid them on their quest. It’s a powerful friend to have, so its expertise in battle could be useful for facilitating other goals.

Encounter C

In this encounter, the ettin is actively attempting to weaken the town by destroying their food supply, likely for some greater nefarious force.

Setting up this Encounter

This encounter involves facing an ettin that serves a more sinister power attempting to undermine the town. If your player characters are trying to thwart a nefarious faction, then the ettin has a power related to that faction. Some examples of common enemy factions are included below, but feel free to think of some others based on different types of factions.

  • Warring Nation: The ettin scores a critical hit on a 19–20.
  • Nefarious Mages: The ettin can cast Invisibility on itself using a spell scroll as an action.
  • Servant of Evil Gods: The ettin has resistance to radiant and necrotic damage.
  • Foul Necromancer: The ettin has the Undead creature type. Any time it would be reduced to 0 hit points, it may make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw to stay alive with 1 hit point, unless the damage dealt to it was radiant or a critical hit.

If the PCs want to learn about an enemy faction, the ettin knows some critical information about this foe. Think about what this information may be: it could be an enemy’s location, the battle plans of the faction, or even the whereabouts of a common desired item. Additionally,


The ettin is prone to immediate violence, but the left head is willing to hear some sort of reason. This encounter could easily be combat or social depending on the goals of the PCs. For social DCs, use DC 11 for easier attempts, DC 14 for medium ones, and DC 18 for something particularly outlandish from your group.

Resolving this Encounter

For player characters who wanted to thwart a nefarious faction, congrats! The ettin is defeated and whatever fell plan was in play is at its end. The players may also get a piece of useful information or a powerful item that is useful against said faction in the future.

Parties who want to learn about an enemy faction can gain important pieces of information. They may learn the whereabouts of an enemy, the location of a base, pieces of history about the faction, or about an item that they’re after.