Monthly Archives: April 2012

One Page Dungeon Contest Submission

Thanks to the sponsorship of my beloved Obsidian Portal I recently found out about the annual One Page Dungeon contest. Concise dungeon crafting with a crush on random tables?! Prizes?! Competition?! How could I resist!

The tact I chose is a little outside the norm – not a traditional s

words and spells kind of fantasy dungeon – instead; it’s a haunted house. Unusual to be sure, but I think it’s a solid idea and I’m very proud of how it turned out (thanks, Adobe InDesign one month free trial!)

Since I put a great deal of effort into this submission, I figured I’d grant myself some due laziness and count my co test entry as this week’s “encounter.” I feel a bit disingenuous doing so since the aim of this blog was to provide quick and easy D&D encounters – but there’s always exceptions to the rule. And besides, I’m hoping you’ll enjoy it enough to ignore the breach in protocol.

I’m including “Raven Ridge Mansion” here but also adding a separate page for easy navigation – and to provide visitors to my blog from the contest entry page an easier way to navigate straight to the PDF.

Raven_Ridge_Mansion – Ryan Lucas

And by all means, check out some of the other submissions at the contest’s website. There’s a lot of cool dungeons that other gamers are working on from a lot of different angles – and you’re bound to find something you can plop right into your game.

"It's fine - nobody spilled blood on this sketch so I'm sure the place isn't THAT haunted..."


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Legend Has It…


Now that I’m getting a better feel for what this bizarre “Story Challenge” entails, I figured I’d give it another shot. Its in part because I had an idea that I thought would inject some liveliness into your games, and in part because these are much easier to write up then a usual combat encounter, and require much less mapping. Not that I’m lazy – I just have a lot of projects on my plate right now. Fret not, you are, and always will be, special to me :-3

This “encounter” will really end up informing a series of encounters in a dungeon you will soon be plopping into your player’s paths (or that they will stumble upon through their own agency.) In that respect this gets closer to a full on adventure than an encounter – but I think you’ll see how it fits in with my usual fare of content pretty closely.

The goal here is to let your players contribute to some of the session planning and world building, while simultaneously constructing some in character dialogue and role playing bits where the characters share their experiences with rumors, legends, and hearsay. Its a prompt for interaction and an excuse to let the players do a bit of the heavy lifting in your dungeon planning. They’ll get to contribute something to the game world, while not compromising the verisimilitude with too much meta-game, and still being able to enjoy the surprises hiding down dank dungeon corridors.

A Dungeon of Renown
A couple weeks in advance of running a dungeon, present your players with very brief questionnaires – supposedly for your gratification. Each will contain a single prompt asking what the player’s character has heard about some specific aspect of the dungeon. Obviously this isn’t a reference to a previous event in your campaign – but the player filling in the blanks of their character’s past experience, and inventing some new tidbit of information about the world. The catch is – this tidbit is only a rumor, and its accuracy is highly questionable.

You’ll collect these inputs and then use them to color how you design the dungeon. In most cases, you should twist what the player has given you in some surprising way: If the player says that the tomb of the evil Necro-Vizier Malak Al-Rahim is guarded by a horrible Troll-Hydra hybrid, add a twist. Being a necromancer, this bizarre tomb guardian is more than just a hyrda with troll heads – it’s also undead! If the player states that the most feared trap in the tomb is a room that fills up with acid, then have that trap play out as the player describes – and then point out that the walls are also slowly closing in on them! Or, perhaps the player’s suggestion is devious enough that you simply leave it exactly as they intended.

Whatever you do, make sure to keep the player’s suggestion as intact as possible. You may need to eschew certain aspects or soften/harden the impact of the threats they describe, but don’t completely deny or ignore their input. The point is to make their suggestion a welcome part of the world, and to give that player a moment to shine. You want them to feel like they have agency in crafting both the world and the story (because they do, though normally that is exclusively through their characters). Your changes should compliment the suggestions. Keep in mind that old improvisational theatre rule of “yes, and…” and you’ll do fine. The player’s inputs are never wrong – they’re just lacking in some key details.

That said, don’t let this free reign of creativity permit greedy player’s to try and grab unfair advantages. Be judicious. If a player writes down: “A giant pile of 10,000 gold coins” as the treasure, have that be the treasure. Of course, many of the coins are adhered to the backs of a swarm of brain-scarabs, and assuming the players can defeat the swarm, those coins are likely to be in an unusable condition. But at least some of the coins survive!

If you feel like too open-ended a question may not be helpful, you can also pose these prompts as multiple choice.

This will require a bit more work and creativity on your part (despite having some ground to work from) but the collaboration will be rewarding on both ends, and make for a (hopefully!) memorable dungeon. And if it winds up a TPK, then they only have themselves to blame.

Player Homework
The specifics of your prompts will vary a bit depending on your campaign but the jist of it is this:

Your character has heard rumors and legends about The Forbidden Tomb of The Necro-Vizier Malak Al-Rahim. It is a place commonly mentioned among adventurers around campfires, and in bragging and warnings over mugs of ale:

-What has your character heard about the creature that guards Al-Rahim’s treasure? Be as specific as you can and don’t worry about stats, your friendly GM has that covered. Remember that this is what your CHARACTER has heard – his/her experiences and background might color the content of the rumors he/she has heard! And remember – this is knowledge that your character possesses; his/her allies may not be privy to this information.

Potential Prompts
You know your dungeon better than I can, but here are some potential prompts to throw at your players. I’d suggestion only one per player.

  • Describe the creature guarding the dungeon’s treasure
  • Describe the method for discovering the entrance to the dungeon
  • Describe the most devious trap in the dungeon
  • Describe the dungeon’s greatest treasure
  • Describe the effects of the curse placed upon the dungeon’s greatest treasure
  • Describe the dungeon’s builder
  • The dungeon was originally intended for another master – what was it’s original purpose?
  • Who has attempted to delve into this dungeon before?
  • What particular breed of monster favors this dungeon and why?
  • There is a riddle in the dungeon that serves as the lock to a treasure hoard. It is located in a shrine to which deity? (You might make the riddle’s answer fits with the player’s selected deity’s portfolio)
  • A chamber in the dungeon contains fantastic terrain. What characterizes this weird location?
  • The dungeon is supposedly home to a powerful creature that might not be hostile – and may even aid explorers. What kind of creature is it?
  • A faction that is a rival of both the players and the dungeon’s inhabitants is seeking to delve into the depths as well. Who is this faction and what do they want with the dungeon?

Special Considerations
Encourage your players to be very specific in their answers. The more input they give you, the more you have to work with.

If a player is having trouble coming up with something, consider giving them a different prompt that might spark their creativity more readily. Barring that, give them some examples of answers to these questions from books and film to catalyze some inspiration.

This one will require a bit of work on your part to make all these disparate inputs make sense – but it should be well worth the trouble.


"What animal do I choose as my Beastmaster Ranger's companion? You're kidding, right?"


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Stagecoach Ambush

This encounter is intended for five characters of 4th level

I have a confession to make – I love orcs. Like, I really, really love orcs. Look, I know they are hackneyed and overdone and formulaic but I just don’t care. They sit right up there with “undead anything” as my favorite bad-guys. I know everyone has “their” conception of what orcs look and act like with the variations being often small and to most people meaningless (for my money: big, burly, tusks, flat faces, ninja turtle green skin – Warcraft II style orcs or bust!) but no matter how you spin them, I love them. The fact that I’ve not given them much stage time on the blog is a personal failure. One I’m fixin to correct.

This week’s encounter has the players protecting precious cargo (and themselves) on a wagon rushing its way through dangerous territory. Along the way they are ambushed by a raiding party of orcs on dire wolves. Your pull/push/sliders will thank you for this one.

Though a top-ten rule of DMing is that it’s always best to be consistent – that notion should be trumped by the need to make the game fun. In lieu of that, I suggest bending some normal rules here for the sake of making this encounter work in the way that players imagine the action playing out. When in doubt, take the player’s side, but make them roll for it.

On paper this is an incredibly difficult encounter for players of this level – but remember, the dire wolves are primarily transportation and will be unlikely to attack at all. Similarly, it won’t be hard for players to incapacitate the orcs by knocking them off their mounts or off the carriage itself, so they have distinct advantages to even the odds.

Rules Refresher
Because this encounter involves a lot of mounts and a vehicle, it behooves you to re-familiarize yourself with the rules for both. Mounted combat is covered in the Dungeon Master’s Guide on page 46. Vehicles are covered in Adventurer’s Vault on page 14.

The PCs are hired to move some valuable cargo (the specifics are up to you, though a variety of items is best – including some that might be fragile, or even alive!) on board a large’ roofed, wooden stage-coach of sorts. They’ve been hired on as both teamsters (drivers) and muscle to protect the precious cargo. In order to arrive at their destination, they must pass through territory controlled by the ruthless “Bleeding Blade” orc clan – and a big, slow moving coach is too tempting a target for them not to hit.

The orcs aren’t the smartest of beasts, but do know how to plan a good ambush. They’ve kept an eye on the characters and sent a raiding party ahead to intercept them. One particularly strong orc waits on a thick tree branch above the road, ready to drop onto the carriage and wreak havoc. The others will pepper the PCs with ranged attacks, eventually moving closer to hop onto/into the carriage. One orc will attack the horses in an attempt to slow the carriage. As a last ditch effort, they will toss their torches onto/into the carriage – if they can’t have the loot, nobody will! Waaaaagh!

In this combat encounter the players will try to defeat their opponents while continuing to stay in motion, and keep their coach and its cargo from harm.

Make it clear to the players that if the coach stops, there’s no way they can simply carry all the goods to the destination. Likewise, their path will be swarming with orcs. While this wouldn’t be a total “game over” (and indeed would make for an exciting twist!) it does mean mission failed, and no cash reward.

Combat Breakdown

  • Round 1: The orcs appear within 6 squares of the carriage (3 on each side) and will close in, making ranged attacks
  • Round 2: The orcs engage and close in further. One Battletested moves in to make melee attacks against the lead horse.
  • Round 3: The orc rampager drops down from a tree limb overhanging the road, right onto the carriage roof.
  • Round 4: The orcs start trying to board the carriage
  • When the Rampager is dead: the orcs begin tossing torches – the torches target a square of the carriage and use the orc’s ranged attack. On a hit, the torch ignites that square. Ignited squares deal ongoing 5 fire damage to the carriage and will deal 5 fire damage to any creature that begins its turn or moves through and ignited square

Plot Text
This just might be the easiest money you’ve made. Worried as the merchants were about sending their goods through this forest, you have yet to see any of the many dangers they cited to you. Still you keep on your guard – just a few more hours and you will be home free. Out of nowhere, the calming rhythmic clack of the carriage wheels is interrupted by a blood-curdling ululation. The battle cry of the Bleeding Blade orc clan is followed by the throaty howling of their dire wolf mounts. Your horses whiney in terror at the sound, and keeping the reins steady becomes a challenge. As you draw weapons and ready for battle, they burst out of the forest, riding hard alongside your carriage. “Pathetic fools!” cries one of the orcs in heavily accented and broken common. “Now you die! We take all! All belong to Bleeding Blade!” So much for easy money.


Those clever foxes at Paizo have a Gamemsatery map pack that would work for the Carriage as well (though the proportions might be less convenient than the one pictured above).

x1 Orc Rampager (Monster Vault pg. 228)
x2 Orc Archer (Monster Vault pg. 226)
x4 Battletested Orc (Monster Vault pg. 225)
x6 Dire Wolves (Monster Manual pg. 264)

Managing Relative Speeds
This encounter is a tad tricky mechanically because it is a chase scene in constant forward motion. To make this easier to deal with assume some constants in the encounter. The horses drawing the player’s coach are too overburdened to run, but will double move their maximum speed each round.

*For the purposes of this encounter, your driver need only use a single move action to order the horses to go – this let’s the player contribute a standard action to the encounter without costing the wagon any speed, and makes a lot more sense in context.

Carriage Speed Breakdown: horse movement rate (10 squares) -4 speed (from the coach) leaves us at 6 speed. Adventurer’s Vault indicates there is a +2 speed bonus for having more than two horses drawing the coach. This leaves a total coach speed of 8.

8 squares in a move matches the dire wolves’ normal movement rate. Thus, in order to change position, relative to the carriage the wolves will have to run. This will let them maneuver up to 4 squares per round – but doesn’t leave them the actions needed to attack.

Use the following speed penalties depending on how many horses are killed off (this fudges the rules a bit in the interest of representing more incremental speed loss:

  • 3 Horses pulling: Carriage speed 7
  • 2 Horses pulling: Carriage speed 6
  • 1 Horse pulling: Carriage speed 4

When Someone Falls Off
A fall at these speeds (either from the carriage or off of a wolf) is treated as being a bit more severe than the usual 10 foot fall: 1d10+4 damage.

Keep in mind the rules about forced movement and dangerous edges: a player moved off of/out of the carriage does get a saving throw to instead fall prone at the edge. You may even opt to let the player treat a tumble off the carriage top as falling from a ledge and provide a last ditch grab at the side of the carriage as per normal rules (page 290 Heroes of the Fallen Lands). To grab the edge a player must make an Athletics DC 15 roll.

Barring that, a fallen player still has options. Their friends might slow the carriage enough for them to catch up (a potentially dangerous proposition). One particularly heroic option is to grant them the opportunity to hijack a passing wolf rider, passing a Hard Athletics/Acrobatics roll to jump on the back of the creature.

Otherwise, one orc rider might break off to engage the player, keeping the encounter fun/challenging for the player, and giving them the opportunity to possibly mount the wolf and catch up. The dire wolves are brutally trained as mounts – though they will accept non-orc riders, they’ll still make an opportunity attack against anyone climbing on.

For simplicity’s sake, if an orc is “unhorsed” (unwolfed, I suppose?) assume he spends a round quickly hopping back on his mount, and pushing it to breakneck speed to catch up. Leave the orc and mount “offscreen” for a round, then return the wolf to a far off square, and deal 4 damage to it to represent the strain of increased speed to catch up.

The players should be expecting a good sized reward for guarding this carriage and its contents (perhaps two moderately sized coin parcels). If the orcs manage to set fire to the carriage, reduce this coin reward to represent damaged goods that don’t get delivered.

Because the Dire Wolves are serving as mounts in this encounter, and will be unlikely to make any attacks, they may not factor in much to the overall experience reward. This will require a little bookkeeping on your part. For each wolf that doesn’t attack, provide only 25% experience. Otherwise grant 50% EXP value. If the carriage stops and players end up being attacked by both orcs and wolves (a very difficult encounter at this level) grant full experience.

Special Considerations
Your players are likely to want to attempt some stunts to even the odds in their favor. Below are some suggestions for how to adjudicate those actions:

  • Leaping from mount to carriage: Move action – Acrobatics Moderate Check. Failure indicates a fall
  • Leaping from carriage to mount: Move Action – Athletics as per jump distance with a +2 to the DC. Failure indicates a fall
  • Leaping to a mount and kicking off the rider Standard Action – Athletics as per jump distance +5 to the DC. Failure indicates a fall
  • Throwing obstacles at a mount Make a ranged DEX attack against the mount’s REF. on hit, the mount is knocked prone and the rider falls off (see “When Someone Falls Off” above)

Low Hanging Branch -Hazard 25 EXP
Targets: all creatures on top of the carriage Detection: Perception DC Moderate
Attack +8 vs REF
Effect: 1d10 damage and the target is knocked prone
Countermeasure: A creature aware of the oncoming branch can forgo their movement to make an Athletics Moderate roll as a free action during the branch’s attack roll. A success let’s the character ignore the attack.

Thrown Torch Torches target a square of the carriage and use the orc’s ranged attack. On a hit, the torch ignites that square. Ignited squares deal ongoing 5 fire damage to the carriage and will deal 5 fire damage to any creature that begins its turn or moves through and ignited square

For further inspiration, might I suggested viewing some classic cinema


Posted by on April 16, 2012 in Combat Encounter, Not Playtested


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A Trade of Secrets

This encounter is intended for five players of varying heroic tier levels

You’ll notice this is the first “Story Challenge.” When I wrote the tag for Story Challenges I wasn’t sure what I meant. Skill and combat encounters are plain enough but I wanted something that incorporated player choice in a more ephemeral way – or at least challenges that influenced the story and direction of the game as much as/more than they influenced hit points. So let’s give it a shot.

“Secrets secrets are no fun, secrets are for everyone!”

Partially incorrect! Secret are fun but only for the keeping and unkeeping of them. Not every player intends their characters to have any deep and dark (or at least valuable) secrets – but they can be a great vehicle for adding party tension that doesn’t grind gameplay to a halt. This encounter is intended to force an information trade between the players – while still maintaining some measure of uncertainty as to who’s secrets are who’s.

The goal is to subject the characters to an accidental magical information trade. The players write about a secret their character has in a first person format. Later on the characters will encounter an unstable being of the Far Realm that on death, causes a psychic shockwave to jaunt uncomfortable memories randomly between the players. What they choose to do with that information will (hopefully) spice up your campaign with a new wrinkle, and get those players role-playing!

Player Homework
Have each of your players write a brief (2 – 5 paragraph) first person narrative for their character (It’s best to do this a few sessions before actually running this encounter). This narrative is a memory (and may be subject to some of the after-the-fact revisions that memory often is – though avoid outright lies). In particular, an unpleasant memory. Ideally this is a dark secret the character is concealing from their fellow companions but it may not need be that extreme – a “worse thing you ever did,” a childhood trauma, something the character surreptitiously witnessed, forbidden knowledge, damning personal opinions or political convictions – all would fit the bill. This has to be something that emotionally effects the character – or at least something that could make things complicated if it got out. The specifics don’t matter so long as there are stakes in the information.

When pitching the homework be concise about your specifications. Play this up as a “getting to know your character” exercise. Sell the deception. The players should NOT know that these essays will later be shared with other party members. It’s up to the player to decide if his/her narrative reveals any “tells” about the character – their name, their race, characters from their background yet to be mentioned, etc.

Ideally, get these typed up and print them off in some relatively uniform fashion (to avoid the player’s identifying who gets which memory when the time to swap comes). When it comes time to hand them out, remove the memory for the player you are handing to, shuffle the remaining memories, and foist one over (repeat this process until each player has another’s memory). You will hand these out in concurrence with the Unstable Abomination’s “Psychic Shockwave” power – a burst of psionic static that is emitted when the creature is killed.

The Unstable Abomination
The catalyst for this strange effect is an unstable, mutated monster from the Far Realm. It doesn’t have a goal of sewing discord among the players, (unless you want it to) the psychic shockwave that causes this jumble of memories is simply a side effect of its mutated and already alien biology. Apply the following template to a monster in the encounter:

Unstable Abomination
HP: +10 + level
Resist: +5 Psychic

Memory Drain (Recharge 5-6): Ranged 5; targets creatures: Wis vs. Will – 2d6 + level psychic damage and the target cannot use encounter powers until the end of its next turn.

Psychic Shockwave (Encounter – TRIGGER: when the Abomination reaches 0 hit points): Close burst 20; targets enemies: Wis vs. Will -HIT: 1d10 + level psychic damage. The target is stunned until the end of their next turn. MISS: the target is dazed. EFFECT: All targets succumb to chaotic psychic eruptions. A single memory from each target is transferred to another target. Creatures of the Far Realm are immune

NOTE: With a range of 20 squares you will likely effect all of your players. But if not, then leave out the memories of the character who is out of range and likewise, he receives no swapped memories from his friends.

Suggested Encounters
Below are some possible monster arrangements this encounter could take place with. In each case, the bearer of the Unstable Abomination template is indicated.

Level 1 Players
x1 Fell Taint Thought Eater – Unstable Abomination – (Monster Manual 2 pg. 105)
x1 Fell Taint pulsar – (Monster Manual 2 pg. 105)
x3 Fell Taint lasher – (Monster Manual 2 pg. 105)

Level 5 Players
x1 Ustilagor – Unstable Abomination – (Monster Manual 3 pg. 118)
x2 Ochre Jellies (Monster Vault pg. 220)
x1 Fell Taint Warp Wender (Monster Manual 2 pg. 105)

level 9 Players
x3 Foulspawn Berserker (Monster Manual pg. 112)
x1 Foulspawn Mockery – Unstable Abomination – (Monster Manual 3 pg. 89)
x2 Foulspawn Grue (Monster Manual pg. 112)


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Bounty Hunting

This encounter is intended for five players of any level in the heroic tier

It’s inevitable that the players will have to track down a criminal at some point. While I always advocate more granularity and role-playing throughout a skill challenge this depends on how much precision benefits the challenge’s concept (I don’t want players to describe every step in an overland travel encounter – that needs to stay abstract). But in this case, I say to stick with my preferred method of handling things – leave the challenge open-ended with no hard and fast primary skills. In fact, I’d advise not even describing this as a skill challenge but just letting your players roll with it.

Challenge Complexity and Format
This skill challenge is equal to the player’s level and is of complexity 3 – (8 successes before 3 Failures)
A criminal of some kind (henceforth known as “The Mark”) is on the run. The players are offered a monetary reward (something appropriate from one of their treasure parcels) for bringing the villain back (dead or alive is up to you – this can end very naturally in a combat encounter as either a solo fight or with the Mark’s accomplices and hired muscle). The nature of the Mark is up to you.

Hunting the Mark
Below are some suggested actions and the skills that might encompass them. The difficulty of the roll is largely up to you, based on the particular circumstances of the target and where the player’s are:

  • Searching the scene of the Mark’s crimes for clues – Perception
  • Interviewing witnesses of the Mark’s crimes/daily life – Insight
  • Discover the Mark’s usual haunts – Insight or Streetwise
  • Gathering local intelligence and rumors – Streetwise or Diplomacy or spend GP
  • Seeking the aid of the authorities for clues/logistics – Diplomacy, spend GP
  • Stakeout the Mark’s usual haunts (when known) – Stealth
  • Lean on the Mark’s contacts – Intimidate
  • Pose as a false ally/set up an ambush – Bluff
  • Look through public records to discern patterns of behavior – Insight
  • Using wanted posters or gathering grass-roots assistance – Diplomacy
  • Minor Scrying – Arcana or Religion, an item of the Mark’s, a small monetary sum (5gp x Challenge Level)
  • Searching for Tracks – Perception or Nature (Use either skill to aid another)
  • Giving Chase – Athletics
  • Setting mechanical traps in known haunts – Thievery

As you already know, this is just the tip of the iceberg in player’s crafty ideas to catch a fleeing criminal. Be sure to be fair with all attempted plans – even a long shot should offer a Hard skill check opportunity. Describe the characters finding clues, or “just barely catching a glimpse of a guy who looked like maybe at this distance he was possibly the Mark,” until they are near to completing the challenge. At the same time don’t be arbitrary, if the player’s plan manages to peg the Mark sooner than 8 successes, grant the deficit in free successes due to their cleverness. The game is about the player’s meeting challenges creatively and feeling cool about that, not sticking to the letter of a flexible but arbitrary and abstract mechanic.

“Going to Ground” Checks
The only additional mechanic I recommend is the addition of a check to reacquire the target after a failure. The purpose of this is to make the challenge more adversarial, and to add another element of risk: the Going to Ground check is a necessary skill roll that won’t grant a success but could incurs failure. It works like this:

Assign a skill (Streetwise, Nature, Religion, Arcana, Thievery, Dungeoneering) that will characterize the environment in which the Mark is hiding – this represents his ability to vanish into different locales – using contacts and bribes to find safehouses, navigating dangerous terrain to find secure hiding places, covering his tracks in the wilderness etc. The normal gameplay of the skill challenge presumes the Mark is on the run, just barely a step ahead of the players and leaving evidence of his flight. When he has gone to ground he is hidden and ceases leaving signs of his passage, increasing the chances he might get away for good.

One of the players must attempt a skill roll of the associated skill to flush the Mark out of hiding. The other players are all welcome to aid another.

Decide which of the relevant skills represents the Mark’s “home turf” (A politician might have ‘Streetwise’, a druid ‘Nature,’ etc.) The skill check DC to reveal a Mark that has gone to ground is Hard unless the Mark is in his home turf, in which case the DC increases by 5.

No other progress can be made in the challenge until the Mark has been flushed out. A success at this roll let’s the skill challenge continue as normal. A failure adds a failure to the total for the whole skill challenge, and another attempt to flush the target out must be made.

To determine what environment the Mark is hiding in roll randomly. With the players hot on his heels, he may not have a lot choice in where he goes. Naturally, certain circumstances may limit the total available environments. For example, a Mark fleeing among caravans in the desert might have Nature, Dungeoneering, and Thievery available, but no other environments. Likewise you might decide some simply don’t apply – a commoner assassin wouldn’t convince the mage’s college to hide him until things boil over. If this is the case, simply re-roll on an inappropriate result.

Roll 1d10:

  1. Streetwise – The mark hides out in the shady parts of town, takes a job as a laborer in the well guarded castle, lingers in the sewers, or lurks in the upper stories of an abandoned tenement
  2. Streetwise
  3. Thievery – Thieves guilds, smuggler companies, slaver bands, counterfeiters and corrupt officials; all of them will be willing to hide or cover the Mark’s tracks for a reasonable fee. But what fee will it take for them to turn him in?
  4. Religion – The Mark is preying on the kindness of a charitable religious order and seeking sanctuary within their temple. Or, perhaps a religious order hostile to the PCs is keeping the mark safe from their mutual enemies.
  5. Arcana – Mages colleges, esoteric orders, apothecaries, and lone hermits understand what it is to be persecuted. If they were convinced to use their powers, or merely a convenient cellar door, they might keep the Mark out of sight.
  6. Nature – There are many places to hide out in the wilderness for those with a knack for getting in (and then back out) of the trackless forests and plains
  7. Nature
  8. Nature
  9. Dungeoneering – With so many entrances and winding paths underground, it’s easy to get lost. And sometimes getting lost is the best way not to be found.
  10. Dungeoneering

Success and Failure
Success! The players catch up with the Mark and either directly apprehend him, or else force confrontation. Either way they gain the EXP for a successful skill challenge, and if the Mark is caught, they gain the monetary reward as well.

Failure! The Mark escapes their clutches (though he may show up later in the campaign, the chance to capture him for a reward is passed). The players will miss out on the monetary reward, gain only half the EXP value of the encounter, and likely lose some measure of confidence their employer had in them.


Idly twirling a flame, your wizard ponders the Mark's next move.


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The Library Inferno

This encounter is intended for five characters of 2nd level

Again, this comes from a now defunct ongoing D&D game I ran a while back. I’m purposefully extricating any of the campaign specific bits to make this encounter easier to adapt – and the map took some reconstruction but it should hold up.

The heroes are seeking some piece of knowledge (be it a book, scroll, etc.) stashed away in a small library inside some relatively civilized area: perhaps a city but more likely some count or duke’s own castle. When I ran this encounter I had the PC’s returning after having set the librarian to the task of digging up and translating a few works for them – and I’d recommend a similar approach to add a little pathos to the situation. When they return they find several barbarians and their leader; a wizard wearing an iron mask, in the process of burning down the library to destroy anything the PCs might be seeking. The group’s allegiance is up to you and they just as well might be local mercenaries for hire.




Bookshelves – The long heavy bookshelves can be pushed down onto opponents on the other side, pinning them to the ground until they can muscle or wriggle free. The chest high bookshelf running down the middle of the room can’t be used to pin targets like the big bookshelves can, but it can be used as partial cover.

  • Pushing over a large bookshelf: Standard action – Moderate Athletics roll – all squares adjacent to the bookshelf on the opposite side of the pushing character are effected. All creatures effected are knocked prone, restrained, and take 1d8 damage. Following the attack, all effected squares are made rough terrain
  • Pulling down a small bookshelf: The same action and results as a large bookcase, but only the creature directly in front of the bookcase is targeted
  • Crawling out from under a bookcase: Make an escape check with either Athletics or Acrobatics, using a moderate DC. As a move action, an ally can aid another on this check. Remember that after escaping the creature is still prone.

Inferno – Each round on initiative 0, the fires raging in the library spread. A creature that begins its turn in or enters a square of fire takes 1d6 fire damage

  • Roll 1d8 for each square currently on fire to determine which adjacent square it spreads to: 1 = north, 2 = north east, 3 = east, etc. After round 2 this might get tedious, in which case you can simply roll for the two newest fire squares per clump. If your scatter roll would place the fire in a square where the blaze is already present then nothing happens.
Windows – Sections of wall with a blue bar in them contain windows. Each window is barely big enough for a good sized humanoid male to fit through. Squeezing through the window takes four squares of movement. Leaping through a window takes an Acrobatics Moderate check and requires only one square of movement

Large Table – The table in the northeast corner is strewn with books and papers. If your PCs here are for a specific tome or scroll that is located here. If the heroes neglect to retrieve it then it will be lost with the building

Plot Text
You can see the thin trails of smoke from halfway across the courtyard. There’s a fire in the library and if the smoke is any indicator, it’s getting bigger quick. As you burst through the door it’s obvious the place is in disarray: books are strewn on the ground, some with pages ripped haphazardly from their spines, the smell of burning vellum assails your nose. “What were they looking for!” demands a voice, slightly muffled. The librarian, a sweet older woman of slight frame, begs almost incoherently through her tears to be spared. A number of human men, their arms corded with thick muscle, their faces concealed behind heavy metal helms are setting fire to piles of books with torches. At the sound of your footfalls the man who was terrorizing the librarian steps into view. The ornate golden mask reflects no emotion; though the dark silken robes he wears send a clear enough message: he’s a wizard of some obscure order. “We have intruders!” he calls to his companions. “Kill them!”

Monster Stats

As usual for brutes, the Barbarians will close to melee quickly and try to lock down other melee opponents. The Harriers will maneuver around behind and attempt to flank opponents. If any of the Barbarians or Harriers is in a position to hit two PCs by pushing over a bookshelf he will attempt it once.

Meanwhile, the Pyromancer hangs back, using his area attack in the first round and moving it into clumps of PCs, and thereafter firing off his ranged attack. He flees behind bookshelves for cover to avoid charging PCs and ranged attack.

Special Considerations
Rescuing Books – Some of your nerdier PCs might risk life and limb to save some of the books in the library. Scooping up a pile of books is a move action. Dumping them out a window or out the door is a free action. If the players do so, consider using the following incremental reward system per load of books saved:

    • 1 Pile – 30 exp for each player for their heroism
    • 2 Piles – 20 gp per player for having saved some rare and valuable books
    • 3 Piles – An additional 20 exp and 10 gp
    • 4 Piles – A ritual of the average player level + 1
    • 5 Piles -The PCs save a very rare and insightful tome. If they spend 3 days reading from it, they gain a permanent +1 Miscellaneous bonus to the Nature, Arcana, or History skill (your choice)

The Librarian The librarian is hardly an able combatant but is paralyzed by fear of both the barbarians and the blaze. If the players rescue her, grant them an exp bonus equal to a monster of their average level -1. She otherwise cowers in the corner, and will attempt to escape through a window if an opening presents itself.


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