Chamber of Shifting Visions

22 Jan


This encounter I slotted into a one-shot adventure I ran a couple of times recently. The goal was to let the players have some fun by constructing the dungeon themselves; with an eye to crafting the terrain to their character’s preferred tactics. It was also a good excuse to use some of Wizards of the Coast’s Dungeon Tiles that I had lying around. When all was said and done I was pretty happy with the experiment, although I wasn’t in love with my monster choice for the encounter and have changed that up here. You’ll want to use monsters who will exploit the dangerous and advantageous terrain features – so look for a push/pull/sliders and shifters.

The idea is that the PCs enter a strange chamber that conforms to a person’s expectations of what is inside. The catch is, if more than one person enters, the room gets jumbled and combines their ideas into a random amalgamation. Hence why players get to choose room features of their own to add into the encounter space – but are limited to certain features (since there are already some minds inside the room messing with their brainwaves.) At least that’s what you’ll say to the player who states “I imagine the room is full of gold pieces.” And whatever you do, don’t neglect this opportunity to remind them NOT to imagine the “Stay-Puffed” Marshmallow Man.

There’s no strict map for this one, but some guidelines in how to hand out dungeon tiles for you players to place. I used D17 Fane of the Forgotten Gods for the encounter, but any of the more “dungeony” dungeon tile sets will work just fine. Barring dungeon tiles you could always tell players to draw out a (digit) x (digit) space on a battlemat. I started with a 4×4 tile in the middle as the “center” of the map. I then went clockwise around the table (going by initiative might also be a good variation) and handed the players a random dungeon tile. For the first phase of construction use plain tiles of differing sizes and shapes – but on the bigger side. You want to establish the general dungeon space here. I threw in a couple more unusual tiles in this phase, in particular a rope bridge. Generally six or seven tiles should be fine (You might even want to reserve a few tiles for yourself to place to mix things up and potentially foil some of their plans.)

After the first round of tiles are placed you’ll go through a second round of placing terrain features – hazards and benefits. For this I just grabbed a few odds and ends dungeon tiles and when the players placed them (again in clockwise order) I stated what their effect was. Make sure to be clear about a tiles purpose, lest the players avoid all your interesting terrain features completely in fear they are traps. Again hand out a tile for each player and reserve one or two for yourself.

Some suggested effects:

  • Granting concealment or cover
  • Using a minor action to gain 5 HP
  • Taking 5 elemental damage for entering starting a turn in the space
  • Gaining a +2 to all defenses while in the space
  • Gain a +2 to attack rolls while in the space

Lastly hand out three door tiles, while you place the fourth. Assign a number 1-4 to these doors. When the players enter the room they appear through a randomly determined door. Entering the room costs two squares of movement but they can exit and reenter if they pop out of a door that doesn’t suit them. If this room is at a choke point in the dungeon, don’t forget to include an “exit door” tile that the players cannot enter from as well.

Quest Text

This forty foot long chamber is lined with mirrors of all shapes and sizes. At the opposite wall are a pair of mis-matched double doors, both covered in a reflective gold sheen. As you pass by the many mirrors, you catch brief glimpses – not of this chamber – but the room beyond. Glistening treasures and deadly traps – pits, columns, fountains, in all manner of architectural style. As you swing open the double doors you see a blur of all the possible iterations of the room beyond. The only way to know for certain what lays inside is to step across the threshold.


  • x2 Dwarf Clan Guard (Monster Vault pg. 101)
  • x1 Spitting Drake (Monster Vault pg. 83)
  • x1 Lesser Water Elemental (Monster Vault pg. 109)
  • x4 Decrepit Skeletons (Monster Vault pg. 255)

Since I ran this with level 1 characters the monster set up is geared toward that level. Adjust accordingly.

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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Combat Encounter, Playtested


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