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In Defense of the Refugees (AKA: “Save the Ladies!”)

This encounter is intended for five PCs of 3rd or 6th level using the most recent D&D 5th Edition statistics as of July 2

I was really fond of the Lord of the Rings console games that popped up in the mid 00’s. I mean sure, these weren’t the best beat-um-ups on the market, but they hit home by leveraging a franchise that I was obsessed with at the time. Given that one of my earliest memories is of playing Golden Axe with my father while propped up on a stool in front of an arcade cabinet – loving a co-op beat-um-up is never hard for me to do. 

A particular gem from those games was the “Minas Tirith Courtyard” level. In essence, it was a siege scenario in which you had to hold off endless hordes of increasingly difficult opponents, while making way for a flood of civilians to escape. The level ended once two-hundred villagers (all women, as I recall. Hence why this level became “save the ladies!” In common parlance) escaped to the safety of an inner wall. It was a grueling task, and a perfect complement for the scenes of devastation and warfare it was meant to invoke.

This encounter attempts to capture the feel of that scenario with a satisfying set-piece battle.

Setup

The PCs have agreed to help defend a community (castle, city, fortress, whatever is appropriate) from an invading army. While regular troops man the walls, the party is overseeing an evacuation. Civilian refugees may be fleeing the city out of a postern gate, falling back to an inner defensive ring, or breaking for the harbor to board boats that will take them out of the conflict. Regardless of the particulars, citizens have no choice but to rush through a warzone to reach safety. When the scenario begins, enemies have breached the defenses and the PCs will need to earn their keep covering the refugee’s flight.

At your discretion, some of the soldiers defending the walls may come down to lend the PCs a hand. Assign no more than one soldier per player, and bump the number of monsters in each wave up by one to compensate.

The party will face endless waves of opponents in this encounter. Their goal is to hold out until all refugees have made it through the exit gate in the southern corner of the map, before themselves pulling back to safety. Depending on the difficulty you intend, the number of total civilians can be adjusted up or down. As an alternate way of working the scenario, the parties goal might be to stand their ground until a prescribed number of refugees makes it through the gate (in this case, consider deducting the EXP value of slain refugees from the party’s total EXP).

   •Each round, 1d4 refugees arrives at the eastern edge of the map (Labelled “Refugee Entry” with eligible squares shaded in blue).

  •Every refugee that successfully escapes through the gate grants its EXP value to the party in the same way a defeated enemy would.

  •Number of refugees: Easy – 10; Moderate – 20; Difficult – 30

Map


When monsters enter the battle, roll 1d4: that monsters arrives in the corresponding entry point on the map (Labelled “Monster Entry”) and takes its turn. Monsters that arrive through entrance 4 will almost always make for the exit gate to cut off any refugees that get past their brethren.

Features of the Area

    Rubble: Walls broken by siege equipment, burning wagons, overturned market stalls, or even piles of corpses. Areas of rubble require 10 feet of movement to pass through.

     Barricade: These stacked barrells, crates, and debris grant half cover.

    Tower: This watchtower is positioned to overlook a great deal of the courtyard. The room is 25 feet up and features an arrow slit that grants Superior Cover, but does not allow the shooter to see anything east of the fountain. The advantage of being able to snipe from the safety of the tower are obvious, but not being on the ground to draw enemies away from the fleeing refugees is a serious disadvantage.

    Porch: This adjoined patio area has a sturdy stone railing all around it that can grant half cover if someone inside crouches. Leaping over the railing is easy enough to do, but requires 10 feet of movement.

    Fountain: The fountain in the middle of this battlefield grants half cover, or full cover if the attacker is on the other side of the large statue in the middle. Enterprising or vicious PCs will find it deep enough to drown orcs in.

   Stone Structures: The low stone buildings might compirse homes, gatehouses, customs offices, or storage. Though their slate roves aren’t especially steep, a 15 foot climb is still required to get to the top, where a PC could enjoy an elevated vantage point. Some of these building have missing walls, destroyed by siege weaponry, creating a path for the city’s invaders to stream into the courtyard.

Monsters

   —Level 3 encounter: One wave every other round

 Wave 1: 10 Goblins (Pg. 49)

Wave 2: 10 Hobgoblins (Pg. 55)

Wave 3: 1 Hobgoblin Leader (Pg. 55), 2 Hobgoblins

Wave 4: 1 Ogre (Pg. 69)

Continuous Waves: 1d4+1 Hobgoblins

—Level 6 encounter: One wave every other round

Wave 1: 10 Orcs (Pg. 70)

Wave 2: 7 Oorogs (Pg. 71)

Wave 3: 1 Orc Leader (Pg. 70), 2 Oorogs

Wave 4: 1 Hill Giant (Pg. 46)

Continuous Waves: 1d4+1 Oorogs


Allies

For the civilian refugees, use the stats for:  Human Commoner (Pg. 57) [And for the record, the civilians comprise both men, women, and children, not just ladies! All the same, don’t NOT save the ladies – that isn’t very feminist either.]

•For allied soldiers (if you choose to provide them), use the stats for:  Human Warrior (Pg. 58 – Replace armor with “Ringmail” and bump AC to 14)

Enemy/Ally Tactics

The attackers (be they orc or hobgoblin) are in the thick of city fighting now, and much of their discipline is fading in the chaos of battle. Use the following guidelines in determining an enemy’s targeting priorities:

1. If a PC is within 10 feet of an enemy, it will attempt to attack the PC

2. Enemies will otherwise attack the nearest opponent, whether they are a civilian, soldier, or PC

3. Enemies will switch targets to the last target that attacked them, thus allowing your players to “pull” the horde off of a civilian

4. Enemies who come out of entrance 4 will make for the exit gate, to block the passage of those fleeing

Though based on a video game, the best part of tabletop RPGs is their infinite mutability. These rules of engagement make for an interesting tactical encounter, but as always, use your judgement. Smart players will find ways to draw enemies away from the fleeing refugees. And likewise, a moment of dramatic ramping-up in which a foe purposefully ignores the players to slay the defenseless civilians might be just what the story needs.

Similarly you can follow a set of guidelines for the behavior of the fleeing refugees:

1. A refugee will always avoid provoking attacks of opportunity when possible (unless ordered by a PC)

2. Refugees always attempt to move toward the exit gate at best possible speed, allaying this only for reasons of safety

3. If within reach of an opponent, a refugee will use the Disengage action

4. If in reach of an opponent and unable to move closer to the gate, a refugee will use the Dodge action

5. Refugees consider PCs and soldier allies and can move through their space unhindered

If you opt to provide the players with back-up in the form of additional soldiers, consider letting the PCs give orders to the troops. They are in control of where the soldiers move to and how they form up, and can even order them to attack particular targets. If you wish to make this more complicated, perhaps an Easy Charisma roll is needed to clearly explain orders over the din and confusion of battle. In this case, PCs might only be able to give vague directions (“Stand left of the gate” or “form up on my right”) rather than letting the players choose which precise square for each soldier to stand in (the more tactical option).

 

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Mobbed in the House of Knowledge

This adventure is intended for 3-5 player characters of 3rd level and applies to the final release of the D&D Next Playtest

     So last year my fledgling 4th Edition Neverwinter Campaign Setting game fell apart thanks to my busy schedule. Though I lament its loss, I think the last encounter I ran can have some future life – potentially in your own game. The PCs were investigating some Ashmadai (read: evil devil-man) cult activity in the decrepit ruins (NEVERWINTER CAMPAIGN SETTING SPOILER AHEAD) of Neverwinter’s once beautiful House of Knowledge. They were questioning some of the squatters and homeless holed up in the old Oghman shrine, when their inquiries got the attention of cultists concealed amongst the rabble. A desperate melee ensued wherein the party had to limit their area attacks – lest they harm innocent bystanders. But with the cultists disguised in the crowd and the doors to the room shut, the party was in a dangerous (and near TPK!) situation.

     This encounter seeks to capture the tension of being locked in a room with an overwhelming number of foes, and many innocents caught in the cross-fire. I’ll also explore some home-brew rules for dealing with grappling mobs in a fast, easy way that affords you some realistic options in regards to being pinned by multiple attackers. 

     And you don’t need to be playing a Neverwinter campaign to benefit! Bear in mind, this encounter is tuned between moderate and tough for the level the players are at. Still, multiple opponents tends to make encounters much more difficult. You may wish to spring this encounter on a party that is fresh and has all of its resources to bear.

Setup and Tactics

     The PCs must track down a lead related to their current plotline. A possible informant lives amongst the squatters in a rundown library (In Neverwinter, the House of Knowledge) in a desiccated part of the city. Unbeknownst to them, less than savory elements (The insidious Ashmadai Cultists of the Forgotten Realms, for example) move in and amongst the destitute persons living in the ruins. Some of the rabble are evil agents taking advantage of the fact that few wish to be bothered with the City’s poor and downtrodden. 

      The vipers amongst the peasants are carefully concealed – and would like to remain that way. The main chamber of the library is a tall, dome roofed rotunda crammed with the unwashed poor. Let the PCs ask some questions of the unwashed masses and do some investigating before the action starts.

     The PCs may opt to flee, rather than fight –  a perfectly sensible response! However with the mob latching hold and supernatural cultists barring the main means of egress, that will be easier said than done. The cultist rabble will attempt to grapple PCs (two or three at once) to keep them in the room and allow the tougher cultists to more easily slay them. None of the cultists is above using an innocent bystander as a human shield.

Plot Text

      The conditions in this once shinning bastion of knowledge couldn’t be worse. The destitute are crammed into every nook and cranny of the dilapidated ruins. Clotheslines now hang haphazardly from rotting bookshelves, old folios feed pathetic cookfires, and all around you is the smell of mold, decay, and human waste.

     But you can detect the shifting air as someone closes the worn double doors to the library’s central rotunda. Standing in front of the only entrance to this lobby is a tall man in a black cloak. He sneers at you and hisses, “We don’t accept outsiders prying into our business. You know too much for your own good.” A warm, eerie light emits from the man’s open palms and with a snap, magical chains of molten hot metal slide out of his hands and clink on the floor. 

     Around you the crowd cowers, and backs away. Most of the crowd, anyway. Some anonymous vagabond shouts “Kill the outsiders!” There is a flash of movement as the squatters run too and fro…some scrambling to get away from the melee…others pushing forward with rusty knives, clubs, and bare hands to strike at you!

The Rabble Attacks

Part of the challenge in this combat encounter is separating the innocent squatters from the concealed cultists. To create an environment of confusion and tension, only have part of the hostile human rabble attack at first. Each round, more of the incognito cultists will strike at the PCs. Use the below guidelines for how many Human Rabble to introduce per round:

If the players attack the crowd indiscriminately, assume that some of those killed were indeed cultists; other were not. Innocents who are attacked will opt to flee rather than strike back. The cultists won’t bother to attack the other squatters – nobody will believe their claims of Ashmadai cultists hiding iut in the old library anyway. However, if barring the PCs path means injuring or harming innocent civilians, so be it.

Innocent squatters use the same “Human Rabble” stats as the cultists.

Mobbed!

The grapple rules in D&D Next (found on page 17 of the How to Play document) are simple and efficient, but lack a bit of the nuances that apply to attacks from mobs. Consider applying some of the following optional rules below to make this encounter mor dangerous.

For context: restraining a target is like holding them tight bodily, while their arms and legs are still free to move (albeit in a much more limited fashion, hence the apllication of disadvantage). Pinning aLimb is like getting an opponent into an arm or leg lock; stopping their limb from functioning while not impeding overall bodily mobility. In either event the target is grappled, and thus bound in place, though not completely motionless.

     Multiple Grapplers – •A second (third, fourth, etc.) attacker may grab an already grappled target using the normal rules for initiating a grapple, and does so with advantage. 

•There should be a limit to the number of assailants in a grapple (4-5, DMs discretion). 

•Three or more grapplers may move a target without taking the normal 5 extra feet of movement penalty. Doing so requires that they all act on the initiative of the lowest attacker.

•Any assailant may attempt to restrain, or pin the limb a grappled creature.

•Escaping a grapple with multiple creatures requires you to make a Strength or Dexterity roll opposed by a Strength roll from each attacker. You need only beat the highest attacker’s result to escape the grasp of each assailant. 

     Pinning a Limb – While grappling a creature, as a separate action you may attempt to constrain a creature’s limbs by making an opposed Strength check opposed by the creature’s Strength or Dexterity (their choice). Doing so prevents the creature from using that limb (possibly denying them use of a weapon, or spellcasting ability if both hands are bound). The creature need only escape the grapple to cancel the effects of a pinned limb.

Features of the Area

     Lighting: Cracks in the walls and broken stained glass windows in the upper floor, along with the blaze of cookfires and candles make this room brightly illuminated.

     Statue: In the middle of the room is an enormous statue of Oghma – though this may not at first be apparent. Weather, vandalism, and seismic disaster have all contributed to this once beautiful piece of art’s decrepit appearance. Stained and pock marked with ware this 30 foot tall statue is barely recognizable, but its size is no less impressive.

     Stairs: Though damaged and now treacherous, these marble stairs wind around the wall of the rotunda and climb up seven stories. Each floor above the main chamber is lined with stacks of rotting books and crumbled shelves, niches where statues once stood, and the occasional row of scholar’s stalls. Anything of value has long since been looted.

     Floorspace: Though left open in the image, feel free to clutter the floorspace with tents, cookfires, clotheslines, cots, waste piles, barrels, crates, fallen sections of ceiling, and any other debris you might expect in a shanty-town.

Map

This map was made using the Dwarven Forge map visualizer 


Monsters

Branded Zealot – (Storm Over Neverwinter pg. 6) [3 Players: x2, 4 Players: x3, 5 Players: x4]

Human Commoner – (Bestiary pg. 57) [3 Players: x15, 4 Players: x19, 5 Players: x24]

 
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Posted by on January 6, 2014 in Combat Encounter, Playtested

 

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Siege on the Oak and Splinters Inn

This encounter is intended for five players of 2nd Level

You may have noticed that in my business and negligence that I skipped a post. Well this weeks encounter is a double-header in order to rectify my ghastly offense: a skill challenge to support a follow-up combat encounter! While it isn’t unusual to see small skill challenges during combat (and indeed, tends to make those scenes memorable and engaging) I decided to try something a bit different here. In addition to having the usual experience reward, this skill challenge has a direct impact on the fight it precedes, providing the PCs with every necessary advantage (terrain control, artillery, extra swords beside them, and the confidence to win) that they can muster. And considering that the enemies come in waves, they’ll need every bit of help they can get.

Purpose
These encounters are modified from an adventure I wrote for a friend a while back. They took a good bit of converting since his game was in (gasp!) the old AD&D 2nd edition. The plan stayed the same, but out came the THAC0 and in came the Healing Surges. I picked monsters that fit the spirit of the original when a one-to-one trade didn’t work (you yourself are a monster if you think throwing level 2 characters up against a 4th Edition owlbear is fair. And don’t even get me started on that swarm of deadly dire squirrels). In the original adventure, the PCs are investigating a rash of inexplicable animal attacks happening along an important trade road. Animals of all different kinds, including those not typically prone to violence, are attacking travelers unprovoked, and in a coordinated fashion. Local druids have determined that the cause is a corruption at the heart of the forest that has been driving animals, magical beasts, and even the plant life mad. The druids needed help to complete a ritual to cleanse the forest, and that is where the PCs come in.

You needn’t have such a complicated explanation for why your PCs are besieged by an army of normally uncooperative animals. An evil druid might be attempting to rub them out in order to curry favor with one of the party’s recurring villains. Or perhaps some powerful demon has been corrupting the wildlife to amuse itself. The attacks might be part of a plot by an enemy nation to disrupt trade (a similar overarching goal of the villain in the original adventure). Whatever the case may be, make it clear to the players that what they are experiencing is a sign that greater dangers are afoot.

Setup
The PCs arrive at the ‘Oak and Splinters Inn’ (so named for the prevalence of the tree, and the prevalence of the barbs that found their way into the original builder’s hands during construction), either coincidentally, or in response to reports of strange animal behavior. When they arrive the inn is sparsely occupied, unusual for an establishment on such a popular trade route. Before they can finish their meals, a man bursts into the inn, raving about an impending attack. He was traveling with a supply wagon to restock the establishment and rushed to arrive when he saw a pack of wolves, bears, stirges, and more, all bearing down on the lonely establishment. The attitude in the inn is one of impending doom and despair. Few of the patrons have any fighting prowess and are resigned to their fate. It is up to the PCs to prepare the building for an impending invasion.

This likely consists of rallying the patrons to fight, boarding up doors and windows, setting up makeshift traps, preparing medical supplies, and perhaps even raiding the bar to make a flaming alcohol grenade! Each check in this skill challenge determines if the PC succeeds in whatever element of the siege they are planning, but it also boosts the overall spirit of those defending the inn (including the other PCs). Success means a bonus going into the fight, failure means a disheartened atmosphere and advantage going to the attacking beasts. Following this skill challenge, the PCs will be battered by waves of animals, crazed for human blood by an unnatural calling. Each wave is progressively more difficult, and the PCs will not always have time for a short rest in between, and thus must conserve their resources wisely.

Plot Text
You can’t help but notice the feeling of unease present in the inn. Conversations are hushed and infrequent. A few inquiries is all it takes to put the pieces together: the quietness of the forest as you were on your way here, that feeling of being watched, the barely perceptible crackle of energy in the air. The animals of the forest have been – cursed or driven mad, bewitched – something. They are attacking travelers with cunning and coordination that is outside the bounds of reasonable behavior. These travelers are worried for their safety.

That’s when the door flings open, and a man hobbles in, bleeding from several wounds – bites and pecks and slashes – he shakes a clump of biting spiders from his shoulder. The innkeep approaches, here eyes wide, “Thom! What happened! Get inside, quickly!”

The young man takes some time to catch his breath, guzzling the strong ale that is brought to him in one quaff. “They’re coming…all…all of them the whole forest has gone mad! The animals are on their way, howling like crazy. I think…I think they’re going to attack us here!”

There’s little that can be gained from questioning poor Thom. The innkeep’s children take him up to a bed to rest and recover. The baying and screeching of animals arrives from outside – distant, but quickly moving in. He’s right. The animals of this forest will be attacking in force.

“We’re doomed.” sighs one of the three traders in the corner of the inn. “Our only chance is to hide somewhere. They’ll catch us and kill us all if we try to run.”

“The basement!” squawks the inkeep. We can lock ourselves into the room we use to store the ale and foodstuffs. The door is sturdy, and they can’t work a lock surely. It might be our only chance.”

You know better. There are enough creatures in this forest that can bust down even a sturdy wooden door, and there’s no chance that cowering in the dark would hide you from the keen nose of a wolf or bear. Hiding isn’t an option for you anyway. Your spells are powerful, your blades are strong.

By tomorrow, you’ll have a lot of new pelts to trade.

Map

20120830-094926.jpg

This map can be found in the old “City of Peril” map pack, but I’m hooking you up from the results of a Google image search for your convenience. There are thousands of “inn-and-tavern” maps out there but I’m fond of this one, and it works well for the encounter.

Features of the Area
Tables: Tables can provide partial or full cover

Stools and Chairs: Count as rough terrain

Windows: The inn does not have glass in its windows but instead shutters them to keep out the cold. Animals from outside could easily jump in. Moving through a window space requires 2 extra squares of movement

Hearths: There is ample firewood and kindling to light these. Flying animals might use them to enter the inn

Inn Patrons – There are more visitors to the inn than your PCs. Some can be convinced to stand alongside the PCs and hold the building against attack. The remainder take their chances hiding out in the storage room down in the basement, trusting (vainly) to the sturdiness of the door to keep the animal’s fury at bay. Each of the noteworthy patrons are detailed below. Seeing as how they are not accustomed to battle, the patrons all use the same stat block listed below (NOTE: damage values are listed for improvised weapons. Arming a patron will grant them the damage die of that weapon):

Kipra and Durgot: A distraught young halfling woman and a grizzled old dwarf in a wide brimmed leather hat, these two describe themselves as “miners.” Kipra is beside herself at the notion of being torn apart by wild animals, weeping uncontrollably – but Durgot is calm enough to converse with the PCs. He explains that the two were panning for gold along a nearby river, when an owlbear chased them away from their camp, all the way to the inn.
-Kipra +2 Bluff -Durgot +2 Diplomacy or Intimidate -An additional +5 on attempts if one of the two has already agreed to help the PCs

Winter: This white haired, wild eyed, half-elf druid is the only person in the inn managing some measure of calm. Winter despises cities and is a wanted outlaw, but cannot help but admit a fondness for this rather unobtrusive inn. All the same, she’s a survivor, and hopes to use her powers to simply flee when the attack begins.
-Intimidate -5, Bluff -2, Nature +2. If the PCs convince winter to help she forgoes her attack to instead use an at-will spell to channel her energies into a single creature, stunning it until the start of her next turn. She otherwise has the same stats as all NPCs in this encounter. (It may seem that Winter would not approve of killing animals, but once she sees the extent of the beast’s untreatable corruption she will heavy heartedly agree that putting he beasts down is a valid course of action.)

Solomon, Harker, and Wolter: Three traders from a neighboring nation, these men lost their small caravan and the guards they hired a few nights back. Now they can’t decide on the best course of action for survival. Wolter needs his confidence bolstered, while Solomon and Harker need to be convinced of the PC’s trustworthiness before they will lend their sword arms against whatever comes in. Solomon is a slight man with nervous eyes, and is easily cowed.
-Wolter +2 Bluff -Solomon +2 Intimidate -Harker +2 Diplomacy -An additional +5 on attempts if one of the men has already agreed to help the PCs

Miss Potts, Daisy Potts, and Thom Potts: The innkeeper and her children are still waiting for a husband who has been missing for almost a week now. Miss Potts has done a good job of holding down the fort, as it were, but animals and beasts keep creeping closer to the Inn. A firm or friendly word will get the Potts’ cooperation, but they are hardly fighting material. During the combat encounter they hide in the storage chamber of the basement, locking themselves in.
– If the PCs are kind to her, Miss Potts will send her children to assist with one task before heading below. +2 on the next Athletics, Arcana, or Thievery roll

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Skill Challenge: Preparing the Inn

Complexity – Successes before 3 Failures – All checks are Moderate difficulty unless otherwise stated

Easy 8 Moderate 12 Hard 18

Goal: Prepare the Inn as best you can for the impending attack. Direct benefits for the successful application of each skill are detailed below, but as always, if your players have some other use for the skill, encourage it and extrapolate a result using the below suggestions as a guideline. The players should be thinking in terms of a reasonable plan of action, not staring down at their skill list
Suggested Primary Skills: Athletics, Arcana, Dungeoneering, Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Nature, Stealth, Thievery

  • Athletics / Dungeoneering – Hammering boards over a door or window will deny the beasts an entry point. Boarded up portals are treated as having 50 HP and are hit automatically.
  • Arcana – Using your knowledge of basic alchemy, you can mix together a combination of alcohol and some of the unguents the inn keeper has stashed away to make a potent explosive: Improvised Explosive •Weapon •Fire Power (Consumable) DEX, + 1 accuracy bonus – range 4 close burst 1, 1d8 + 4 fire damage. Each use of the skill creates 2 such grenades.
  • Diplomacy / Bluff / Intimidate – These skills are used to convince the inn’s patrons to make their stand alongside the PCs, instead of cowering in the basement and hoping the beasts pass by. Each patron will respond more favorably to one approach or another, as detailed in their descriptions (see “Features of the Area” below). A successful check means the PC has convinced the patron to take up arms, and they will participate in the combat encounter. Though not especially brave, they will obey the PCs commands and trusting their judgement (within reason). Stats for the patrons are given below.
  • Nature – Though these creatures are under the influence of dark magic, their fighting behavior will remain the same. Each successes also means that the PC has time to attend to one of the following precautions: •Lighting fires in each hearth to prevent flying creatures from entering •Covering any holes or niches in the basement to deter rats from creeping in •Patching weakened floorboards to confound burrowing creatures •A success at this skill may also grant a +2 on stealth checks by this or another PC (See also the NPC Inn patron, Winter)
  • Stealth – The PC scouts out the horde’s approach, and discovers that the beasts are not approaching from every side of the inn. Randomly select a cardinal direction on the map. When the combat encounter begins, no creatures will ever enter from that side (but might move around to it.) The PC knows this. A failure indicates the PC was caught and chased, his hurried return to the inn will only add to the feeling of desperation.
  • Thievery – A successful roll allows the PC to concoct a trap using the spare bits of wood and metal housed in the Inn’s basement or stables. This trap is largely left up to the imagination of the player. This will require a lot of adjudication on your part but be fair, and stick to the spirit of the player’s intentions. If the player wants to cover the floor in broken glass to serve as caltrops to slow his opponents down, then the trap will likely inflict little damage but add the “Slowed” condition. Traps attack with a +4 vs Defense and deal an appropriate amount of damage, and likely cause a condition.

Suggested Secondary Skills: Insight, Perception

  • Insight – Reading the reactions of the patrons at the inn, the PC can determine how best to persuade them. Use one check for each NPC. A successful check reveals which social skill the NPC is most susceptible to; a failure imposes a -2 penalty on social rolls attempted for that NPC. Successes and Failures do not count toward the overall completion of the skill challenge.
  • Perception – The PC keeps a close eye on the efforts to shore up the inn’s defenses, pointing out flaws, gathering needed supplies and spotting weaknesses in the building’s construction that were not readily apparent. Make one roll for a particular PC. A success grants that PC a +2 on the next Athletics, Arcana, or Thievery roll. A failure imposes a -2. Successes and Failures do not count toward the overall completion of the skill challenge.

Success! The PCs have bolstered the spirits of the inn’s patrons…as well as their own. Until such a time as a character becomes bloodied, the PCs and all their allies have combat advantage.

Failure! Despite their best efforts to prepare the inn’s defenses and embolden her patrons, the efforts were too little, too late, and took too long to prepare. The hopelessness in the air is infectious and the dark powers afflicting the attacking animals permit them to sense this fear, driving them to frenzy. Each animal has combat advantage on its first attack.

Combat Encounter: An Unnatural Siege
The cursed animals that attack the inn are being driven from near and far, and come in waves. The creatures in each wave are described below. Pick a random side of the map for each group of creatures to enter from. Though this encounter includes suggestions for how many rounds into combat each group should arrive, use your judgement. if the PCs are having too easy or hard of a time, adjust accordingly.

Monster tactics are as stated in their stat blocks. However some creatures might have a unique means of sneaking into the inn and past the PCs more obvious defenses (this will be noted next to their entry).

Taking Rests
The idea behind this encounter is for it to be a grueling experience. That said, certain parties will handle this kind of battle better than others. You may wish to adjust when the players can take a short rest.

Ideally, they will have time for a short rest right after the second wave.

Wave 1 – Begins immediately
x3 Bloodhawks (Monster Manual 2 pg. 142) -Enter through any open windows on the second floor

x4 Stirges (Monster Vault pg. 259) -Enter through the chimneys

X1 Scurrying Rat Swarm (Monster Vault pg. 299) -Enter though the drain (grating) in the basement

Wave 2 – Begins 4 rounds into combat
x1 Spitting Drake (Monster Vault pg. 83) -Approaches from a randomly chosen cardinal direction. It uses its projectile attacks to melt barricades first, moving on to attack PCs second

x5 Wolves (Monster Vault pg. 304) -Approaches from a randomly chosen cardinal direction. The wolves either leap through windows, attack unbarricaded doors, or wait for the spitting drake to clear a path

x 2 Badger [Use stats for the Dire Rat from Monster Vault pg. 298 with the following modifications: •Replace the climb spree with Burrow Speed 4. •Ignore the filth fever capability. The Badger instead gains the ability to deal + 1d6 damage while bloodied) -Burrow up through the floorboards on the first floor

Wave 3 – Begins after a short rest
x3 Bears (Monster Vault pg. 296) -Each approaches from a different randomly determined cardinal direction

Possible rewards and EXP
In addition to the standard experience for both the skill challenge and combat encounter, consider awarding an additional 100 EXP to the group for the difficulty of the siege given the player’s inability to gain a short rest between waves. Any Inn patrons that are rescued might serve as contacts, or may even give the players rewards for saving their lives.

 

 

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