In the fairly recent post Run, Adventurers … The Monster Manual Is Coming, I mentioned having the desire to drop an unexpected encounter into our Lost Mine of Phandelver campaign. Reading page 44 of the Monster Manual gave me the setup I had been looking for: the Crawling Claw.
With only 1d4 hit points, it seemed the perfect little enemy to mix things up. It didn’t seem too difficult for them and wasn’t related to current events in the campaign. Once I decided how this gross little creature could be found, I rolled (successfully) to see if they actually would find it in the wild.
The adventurers were setting up an ambush on a narrow, poorly cleared path in the woods surrounded by dense brush and trees. As they finished the setup, the tanks took their place up front, the ranger took to the trees as a lookout, and our party’s necromancer decided to squat and hide in the bushes. This was the perfect place for him to feel scratching at his ankles and pick up an unwanted passenger.
The way I expected events to unfold was that the necromancer would just pull out his dagger and be done with it. Nothing would be that simple. That eventually would happen, after a debate within the party that using his available cantrips so close to his leg wasn’t the best way to detach the animated hand from himself. So, once the dagger was unsheathed, we all thought this encounter would soon be behind us. However, I didn’t expect him to miss a disembodied hand attached to his ankle from inches away.
Things turned out well in the end, save for a few lost hit points. Using the Monster Manual right away made for a fun night filled with plenty of great laughs. It was even funnier when the party was going back down that same path later in the evening. I rolled a random encounter with two ghouls and decided these undead only had three hands between them both.