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Fungal Lake Dead-Drop

This encounter is intended for use with either 4th Edition Dungeons and Dragons or the July iteration of the D&D Next Playtest. 4th Edition: Five players of 6th level / D&D Next: Five players of 5th level

Every environment needs water for living creatures to survive – and even the warped beasts of the Underdark are no exception. The presence of a small but significant freshwater pond not far from a surface entrance into the depths of this subterranean nightmare world causes alarm to most. For adventurers, it means opportunity.

This encounter was originally written for my now defunct Neverwinter game, and as such, references an organization related to that campaign setting. None of that flavor is necessary to run the encounter, however. The situation has the players meeting shady, possibly hostile criminal elements for a trade or deal – in a location that is even more dangerous and alien. Unbeknownst to either party, they are stepping into the home of a colony of Myconids – one of the Underdark’s bizarre inhabitants. The fungal monsters attack both sides as interlopers; but whether or not this ruins the deal is up tot he players.

Setup
Agents of the Drow spy network, The Bregan D’aerthe, have approached the players through their surface contacts in Neverwinter regarding a bit of business. Perhaps the Drow have information the players desperately need and are willing to pay for, maybe they have acquired (or seem to have acquired) knowledge or an item the mercenary Drow are after. Whatever the case, a meet is scheduled near a large pond in a cavern not too far from the surface (A site used by Bregan D’aerthe agents to pass secret messages and materials). Strictly speaking, this will require the players to go into the uppermost reaches of the Underdark – a dangerous proposition. They will need to decide whether or not the benefit outweighs the risk (And in order to prod them into the deal, there should be a clear and significant reward).

Map

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A high-res poster of this map is included in theVaults of the Underdarkmap pack.

At the Start of Combat: Position the Myconids throughout the cavern near regular giant mushrooms. They have been lying in wait the whole time, camouflaged among the unanimated fungi.

The PCs and Drow begin (most likely) at the opposite shores of the pond.

Plot Text
The erie glow from the mushrooms and the shimmering of fluorescent algae off the water hasn’t stopped being unnerving to you even after waiting half an hour. In the Drow’s defense, if this were an ambush or a trick, they would have sprung it by now…unless of course the plan was to make you die of boredom. Finally you ear a singsong voice call out “Sorry we took so long, dangerous voyage, this one.”

A petite, female Drow woman rounds a corner in the caverns on the opposite side of the pond. You note how unnerving it was that you never heard her footsteps echoing in this enormous cavern. Slinking out of the shadows behind her are two male Drow, each clad in dark armor with sword at his side. “I know what you’re thinking but calm down, surface-dwellers. We’re here to deal. Think about it, if we wanted you dead would we bother with theatrics?” The Drow and her party approach the banks of the pond on their side and beckon for you to do similarly.

Negotiation
The specifics of the meet will depend on your campaign. Regardless, the players actions during the negotiation will determine how the drow act during the pending combat. If the players come off rude and uncooperative, or worse, if they are too cooperative int eh proceedings (not down bidding the drow, showing any sort of weakness, seeming indecisive or amateur) then the Bregan D’aerthe agents will use the battle as an excuse to slay the players and take what they were offering in trade.

However, if the players impress the drow, they will serve as an ally in the ensuing battle, hoping that the unexpected skirmish doesn’t sour their deal. Should the players successfully intimidate or wound the Drow before combat begins in earnest, they will cut their losses, and seek to flee if possible.

Regular roleplaying and your judgement of the drow’s response should be enough to adjudicate this encounter. However, if the players are eager to use their skills and social abilities, consider running this scene as a Complexity 1 or 2 Skill Challenge. Success means the drow serve as allies, failure will ensure that they turn on the PCs if able.

Primary Skills: Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Insight
Secondary Skills: Dungeoneering, Perception (If items are involved), Appropriate Knowledge skill (If secret information is being passed along)

Tactics
Drow
The Bregan D’aerthe mercenaries will vary their tactics depending on their relationship With the players.
• Indifferent: A “better part of valor” approach, keeping away from the myconids and allowing the PCs to take the brunt of the beating when possible, though likely not attacking them. In this case, if an opportunity to steal what (or whom!) the PCs are bringing to the offering table presents itself, the Drow will take it, even if this means killing a single PC.

•Cooperative: If negotiations went well, the Drow will regard the PCs as comrades in arms, knowing that the conflict can be resolved quickly with teamwork. They will set up flanking maneuvers, attack targets the PCs debilitate, and offer covering fire. Combat might be another opportunity for the PCs to prove their trustworthiness, healing or aiding their “allies” in this skirmish.
All that said, the Drow are selfish by nature and as a result of their occupation. Don’t go overboard in their assistance.

•Hostile: If things went south, then the Drow might see the myconid attack as a perfect opportunity to get what they want without breaking a sweat. They will take pot shots at the PCs first, hoping the monsters will wear them down enough to be easy targets and recover whatever valuables they have, or making the pending interrogation that much easier.
4e
The Myconid Guards move in immediately, using their Pacification Spores on the most physically imposing combatants (at least one of them will approach the Drow). The Sovereign and Rotpriest will move together, joined at the hip so that the leader can retain the benefits of the Rotpriest’s healing.

Next
The Myconids all focus on a single target (one of the Drow, if you are feeling forgiving towards your players) attacking it together as a colony. The goal is to make bodies as soon as possible for the Sovereign to re-animate. Meanwhile, the Adults choose to hamper any combatant that deals a great deal of damage, stunning them if possible.

Resolution
The battle is another opportunity to weigh the PCs competence. If they performed admirably, this might tip the scales in the PCs favor, proving to their perfidious business partners that they are not to be trifled with. Otherwise it might give the Drow an opportunity to strike or flee while the party is weakened or off balance.

Monsters
4th: x1 Myconid Sovereign (Monster Manual II, pg. 164)
x1 Myconid Rotpriest (Monster Mnaual II, pg. 164)
x3 Myconid Rotslammer (Underdark) -Or- Myconid Guards (Monster Manual II, pg. 164)

x2 Drow Swashbuckler (Neverwinter, pg. 122)
x1 Drow Informant (Neverwinter, pg. 122)

D&D Next: x1 Myconid Sovereign (Against the Slave Lords Bestiary pg.58)
x2 Myconid Adult (Against the Slave Lords Bestiary pg.57)
x6 Myconid Juveniles (Against the Slave Lords Bestiary pg.57)

x3 Drow pg. 40 (The Informant replaces a short sword for Dagger, and adds “Invisibility” to her spellcasting list)

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The Heist

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One last job – nab the Maltese Owlbear at all costs. It was a simple plan – what could go wrong?

Hands down, the best Skill Challenge I ever ran was a heist. It was also completely impromptu – while preparing to move the adventure along to our planned portion for the evening, one of the players simply said “Before we ship out, I need to pay my old rival back. We’re going to rob his brothel.” There was a moment of silence. I took my twenty minutes to prepare the skill challenge, they took theirs to plan the job.

It’s a great scenario for any RPG game: The team of specialists coming together to separate and use their individual skills to overcome obstacles, then working together to eliminate the unforeseen dangers.

What follows is not a specific heist, but the guidelines on how to run a freeform caper scenario using the Skill Challenge as the core backbone of the action.

Complexity
Whether you are knocking over the safe in a backwater town’s brothel or infiltrating the Inter-dimensional Bank of Sigil, a heist should be meaningful and complicated, with plenty of risk and opportunity for the whole party to stretch their specialized skills. I’d recommend a minimum of Complexity 3

It All Starts With a Simple Plan
Behind the DM screen, keep a numbered list of the total successes needed to complete the skill challenge. Leave a line next to each digit to be filled in momentarily.

A strong benefit to using a heist in your game is that they always begin with a planning and prep phase. This allows the players to participate alongside you in building the Skill Challenge itself – and lets them do some of the heavy lifting! Begin the scene by introducing the idea of the heist, but don’t specify a skill challenge. As each PC adopts a role in the heist and adds steps to the plan, mark down those steps on your numbered list. The players might do your work for you, creating exactly the same number of “steps” as there are requisite successes in the challenge. If they don’t, start pointing out complications to the players – only things their characters might legitimately notice or recent changes in the lay of the land – What if the safe is trapped, too? … You notice a guard with a crossbow walking the roofs … The Countess will be wearing a mask just like all the other guests, (etc.)

No Plan Survives Contact With the Enemy
In a heist, primary skills represent the PCs actions to further the goal of nabbing their quarry. In the normal skill challenge, the only risk for failing a roll with a Primary skill is that the party is one failure closer to losing the skill challenge. During a heist challenge, this also generates a Complication.

The Complication must be resolved (usually by the character that failed the roll though not necessarily) before that character can attempt any further rolls towards completing the skill challenge. Failed attempts to remove the complication also count against the skill challenge, but will rarely count toward it. Because heists are long, difficult, and dangerous skill challenges – it might behoove a DM to use one or two of the Complications (depending on their circumstances) to also remove a failure from the challenge. For example: Dispatching a sentinel who caught the PC using Stealth might remove that failure (the witness is gone) but successfully hiding to avoid a patrol after setting off an alarm doesn’t halt the alarm and thus shouldn’t cause a failure to vanish.

Use Complications as a tool to mechanically reward/hamper the PCs actions in the story. They ramp up the tension, pad the challenge into becoming a longer and more meaningful encounter, and ask the players to stretch their character’s creative muscles. Specialists who botch a die roll may need to improvise, rely on often ignored skills, or use teamwork to overcome an unexpected interruption.

Complications
Below is a chart of some suggested Complications and likely skills used to respond to them. It is by no means exhaustive and as always good roleplaying and clever but logical thinking should always win out over the base rules. Use this chart as a guideline to improvise the use of other skills in these challenges as well (Arcana might work in place of Thievery to disarm a magical rune trap, perhaps Religion stands in for Bluff to deal with a nosey cult inquisitor):

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*Combat – Erupting into a full mat-and-minis combat would definitely bog down and steal the thunder from a heist (if an extensive combat is involved in the heist, it should probably be an expected scene that occurs anyway). If the player opts to use feat of arms to get out of a scrape simply have them make an attack roll, and make attack rolls for the sentries opposing them (ideally an appropriate minion of the player’s level +/- 1). If the attack roll hits, the PC dispatches all foes involved single-handedly, but incurs damage from any of the attacks rolled against him/her. If the players opts to use a Daily or Encounter power, forgo this roll as they have paid for the error with a resource.

Players may have more detailed wishes for this scrape, and that’s fine. Do whatever you can to keep the fracas in a “theater of the mind” kind of resolution system to speed things along. Depending on the situation, they might need to make a further Complication roll to get rid of the bodies (Stealth or Athletics being the recommended skills).

Obviously, attacking nosey servants or bumbling guests poses little threat, but the problem of removing the body (as well as the moral ramifications of harming and innocent passerby) should serve as the appropriate challenge. And if the witness escapes the attack, the PC might be in even deeper water.

Secondary Skills and Complications
What constitutes a primary skill is very open for debate in a heist. Perception could be used in a leading role to discern which casino guest is carrying the mcguffin, or it could be used in a support role to be on lookout duty for another PC using Stealth to sneak into the governor’s private rooms. Only Primary skills are subject to Complications if they fail. However, you might rule that an appropriately applied secondary skill (such as Perception in the above example) permits a PC to ignore the effects of a Complication, ignore a failure, or both. If a player is not using a primary skill to push the challenge along but is helping in other ways, don’t be afraid to make their contribution meaningful – negating failures is a great way to do this.

 
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Posted by on June 29, 2013 in Playtested, Skill Challenge

 

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Guest Post – Hexual Intercourse: Art of the Hex-Crawl

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A trusty mount – the hexcrawler’s best friend. Also, a delicious morsel for those 1d4 griffins following you!

A little while ago I sounded the horn for submissions, and they have started rolling in! Not every guest article will fit the usual MO for “Save Vs Weekend” but they’ll all be valuable for you to apply to your games in some direct way.

Our first post comes from a player and sometime DM from my own core group of gamers – guys I have been playing with since high school. He recently ran a short-term “hexcrawl” style game, and wanted to share some of the nuts and bolts of that style of play (A type of game I’m rather enamored of and intrigued by. It has a very “sandbox” world style. Your own little Skyrim at the table!). It was part of a phase we went through in which we tried going “back to basics” and exploring some tenets of the retro-cloned old-school…with mixed results.

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So, this is my summary for my hexcrawl game. I’m sharing the format with TheYoungKing despite the fact that he played in the game, so he’ll have to feign ignorance if we start it back up again. [He’ll also take the luxury of inserting the occasional comment in these brackets.] The Hexcrawl was a common game type in the 80s; they fell out of fashion but they’re system agnostic, and a blast to run if you’re used to completely plot driven games. In essence, the GM has a map, and you wander around on it. The best example I can think to explain it is Baldur’s Gate. You wander from area to area; there’s an overall theme (in Baldur’s Gate, it’s the Iron Shortage), but the vast majority of your encounters are random, or mini-quests. Here’s the basic outline of how I set up my game.

  • I started with a concept; in this case, the players were explorers. Really any type of plot could be factored in, the hexcrawl is much more of a setting than it is anything else.
  • I then built a large map in a program called “Hexographer“, from Inkwell Ideas. Each hex is (naturally) 6 sided, with a terrain type; i.e. mountains, plains, ocean, etc.
  • Using general principles of geography (i.e. which side of mountains have vegetation, rivers run downhill, etc.), I filled out my map with a few continents.
  • Now that I had continents with forests, rivers, and hills, I placed towns appropriately (i.e. near coasts, intersections of major rivers, etc), then supporting villages for those towns (i.e. within a day or two of travel to their “parent” town).
  • Now that I had my towns and villages mapped out, I drew borders of countries, based on obvious geographic limitations (i.e., most borders were either on major rivers or mountain ranges).
  • So now I’ve got a continent, with countries, and cities. You’ll notice I haven’t named anything yet; this is important.
  • In my opinion, the #1 time-waster in world-building is spending time creating content that your players will never see. To that end; I spent 20 minutes brainstorming country names, and placed those randomly. I then zoomed in on 1 particular village in 1 particular country, and named it. This was the seed of my first adventure. I then started mapping (i.e., adding content) for the hexes around that village (i.e. the village was raided by orcs, so traveling in nearby hexes has a risk of… running into orcs!)
  • I went to the next closest village. I named it, gave it a few inns, a blacksmith, and a temple. I named the temple and blacksmith, gave a general overview of their services. The inns I populated with rumors. Some of the rumors were false, some were tied to monsters in locations (i.e., there’s a basilisk southwest of here!), some were tied to dungeons (The abandoned barrows are haunted!).
  • I then populated the appropriate hex with the basilisk encounter; then wrote a short (5 room) dungeon for the “Dungeon” rumor. From there, I started going to other (i.e. potential choices of my players) villages, and filling them out similarly. At the same time, I started filling out the other hexes in their anticipated route of travel. Were there any monsters they may encounter?
  • So, at this point, I’ve got something like 100 hexes mapped with content. Probably 5-10 are villages or towns (towns are basically the same as villages, except they have a few more inns, and maybe a marketplace). I’ve also go 5-10 full on “dungeons”, where I wrote room descriptions, gave them a theme, populated them with monsters, and treasure. Another 5-10 of the hexes are the “encounters” I described, which effectively are just 1 room dungeons, i.e. a location and a challenge.
  • So that means of my 100 hexes, 70 or so are just random monsters the player could run into. Since I am mapping these iteratively, I’m able to make it so that the monsters are in similar areas, i.e. if you go to any of the hexes north east of a particular village, there’s a chance you’ll run into some goblins in the area. I don’t really have “random encounter charts”, thus far I’ve only tied 1 type of monster to each hex (just to save myself the work). Odds are, the players either run into that monster or they don’t. The players didn’t complain, because they’d travel enough that they may run into 4-5 different types of monsters in the general area.[The players DID complain when those monsters were manticores…but enough of my sulking…]
  • Next steps are to continue filling out towns and villages, which then feed me having to create content based on the rumors I come up with, which leads to more encounters and dungeons.
  • To keep track of all of this, each hex has a numeric code, i.e. 71.22. I then have an excel [Or numbers, or GoogleDrive, pick your poison], which I tie to that particular hex information. Hexographer’s Pro version allows you to write notes directly on hexes, so for non-dungeon tiles, I just use that. For my dungeons, I just use excel (GoogleDrive née GoogleDocs would also work).
  • I would not have been able to run this game without Hexographer, or the great guide available on the Alexandrian blog.

This type of game can be a lot of work. You can and will create content that your players will never see; the advantage of a plot driven game is that all your great encounters are on the rails, so the players face them no matter what [It’s also not impossible to hold onto some of those good ones and slot them in later. It violates the ethos of the sandbox world a bit – but anything in the name of fun is the right choice]. That said, it can even more rewarding when a trap you set 5 weeks ago comes into play; I’ll give an example.

My players were following up on a rumor that if they caught a fairy to the west of the town they were visiting, it would be forced to grant them one wish. The players outfitted themselves with nets [Do you know how much a cold-iron net costs?! A lot!], jars, and other “fairy-catching” equipment. However, they did not know they were pursuing a *false* rumor; the area to the west was actually lousy with bandits, who had started the rumor in the first place.

It was a while ago that I ran this game, and looking back there are several things I would have changed that would have added more flavor to the game.

First and foremost, I would have come up with some overarching plot. Baldur’s Gate without the iron shortage is rudderless; it also would have allowed me to plan a bit better which direction the players would have headed; instead of having to map in a circle outward, I would have had a better chance of mapping a “path” of hexes the players were likely to go through.

Second, I would have been much more mysterious about what was out there. In my rumors, I named specific monsters the players were likely to encounter; instead, I wish I had said there was a “dark force” or “an unknown evil”, describing what it had done. Keeping the mystery of the unknown is a key portion of any exploration based game.

Finally, I wish I had had more time between sessions. As a result of trying to keep a fairly rapid pace, the quality of my encounters suffered. I am not a great encounter planner, so I am afraid several of my dungeons were rather mundane as a result of having to plan several of them at once in a few weeks time. Getting something right rather than finished I think would have added an extra layer to my campaign. [This is where resources like the One Page Dungeon contest or…ahem…Save Vs Weekend come into play – they can be used to fill in coherent “random” dungeons or encounters to populate a larger world.]

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I’m of the opinion that 4th ed D&D is a perfectly feasible platform to run a hexcrawl. True, the resource management of 4th ed centering around encounters doesn’t particularly favor a model in which most conflicts occur only once a day, and night’s to rest in between run-ins are frequent. But that requires some slight modification tot he encounter format:

One method is to make travel encounters exclusively of the ‘Hard” and “Very Hard” variety. That way the players are almost always expending their dailies and relying on potions and other consumable resources, giving random encounters a significant impact, event hough the players will likely rest for 8 hours right after.

Another, (and perhaps the more favorable) implementation, is to always make overland travel a simple skill challenge: perhaps calling for rolls with every hex traveled. The particulars are up to the DM and various published adventures might have some insight, but generally calling for Endurance checks for each day travelled, and consuming healing surges when those checks fail (and allowing a small number of healing surges to be replenished while traveling overland) could easily create a resource tension in travel without requiring much tweaking of the original game. It stands to reason that resting on the hard ground in a chilly tent after 7 hours of forced march and resting in a soft, warm inn bed after strolling around town or slowly creeping through a dungeon would provide different levels of physical replenishment.

TL:DR – The hexcrawl…try it!

 
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Posted by on January 30, 2013 in Guest Post, Playtested

 

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Incidents – Archery Competition

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Some prizes are more valuable than others…

This encounter is intended for any number of characters of any level

As I mentioned, the tourney both in historical and fictional context is about more than just the jousting. There were plenty of other feats of arms, and they also make an appearance in common fantasy/medieval(ish) fiction. Like the grand melee that solidifies fan favorite Brienne of Tarth in “A Clash of Kings.” Or that famous archery competition from Robin Hood lore (your choice of anthropomorphic fox, swashbuckling black-and-white film star, or Russell Crowe). Or that famous pie-eating contest from a few posts back.

The tricky bit about representing a competition at the table is that it inevitably comes down to a lot of die rolls, and a dog-show style display of stat bonus superiority. Not every player at the table is excited by that prospect – though I’m certain you have at least one who is. The trick is to ground it in the characters, and to give the players options to tweak and adjust the circumstances of the competition to keep it interesting.

Don’t forget about the other competitors either! While it is likely that multiple PCs will be competing in the contest against one another (at least ostensibly, even if they ultimately share the reward) there are also NPC archers. As with the Pie-Eating contest, be reasonable when setting up the competition. In general, writing up three major competitors, each with an advantage and an exploit, creates an interesting role-playing possibility, and side-steps the problem of creating a boring “my attack bonus vs. your attack bonus” roll-off. But more on that later.

Knock, Draw, Aim, Fire!
There are three “rounds” in the competition, each a different distance from the target. Bear in mind the range increment penalties for the character’s weapon of choice (some enchanted weapons and feats may have an advantage in this competition. If the distances listed are just shy of granting a player a boon for having an increased range ability; adjust the distance so that the advantage matters in this challenge. After all, the point of having all those cool items and feats is so that they can come in handy!)

During each round, participating PCs make ranged basic attacks against a target (see below). You may opt to allow the player to make relevant Encounter or Daily attacks instead. Similarly you may opt to have the player “consume” an encounter or daily attack power to grant a +2/+5 bonus to the attack roll. Use your best judgement when adjudicating this – if the power would be considered cheating during a competition, its use will disqualify the PC.

-The first round has targets set 70 feet (14 Squares) away from the shooters
-The second round has targets set 150 feet (30 Squares) away from the shooters
-The third round has targets set 195 feet (39 Squares) away from the shooters

The “AC” of each target is equal to a Moderate DC +2 for the player’s level. However, the more accurate the hit, the more points it is worth in the overall challenge:

  • Hitting the target DC: 2 Points
  • DC +2: 4 Points
  • DC +5: 8 Points
  • DC +8: 12 Points
  • DC +10: 16 Points
  • DC 11+ (Bullseye): 22 Points

(NOTE: A roll of a natural 20 is always a bullseye)

Players may opt to wow the crowd by attempting a trick shot. Doing so incurs a -5 penalty to their attack roll, but will earn them a whopping 10 points for style from the NPC judges. Bear in mind that some of the NPC competitors may do likewise. Bear in mind that skills, and non-combat related powers might be applied to a trick shot. Encourage your players to be creative and reward creative (but not game exploitative) thinking!

At the end of the competition, the contestant with the most points is the winner. Runner up prizes may be handed out as per DM discretion.

The Competition
Setting up good opponents will be part of the fun in this encounter – especially if you have groomed your players to well and they opt not to allow their own rivalries to spill over into the contest! Though these NPCs don’t need full stat block, fleshing out two or three characters in brief will make the encounter shine. It is assumed that there are plenty of other contestants in the archery competition (and make sure to point this out – the players are special and should feel as such), but only the PCs and the all-star NPCs have any chance of winning the big prize.

Each opponent should have two qualities: an advantage, and an exploit. This permits you to give the NPCs a chance of winning/losing the competition outside of mere statistics, and allows players who aren’t doing the actual shooting to participate in winning the duel by working behind the scenes. To help you build your NPC rivals; below are (hardly exhaustive) lists of possible advantages and exploits for your players to interact with.

Consider giving the opponents attack roll bonuses equal to or slightly higher than those of the participating PCs.Generally speaking, this and perhaps their Insight bonus are the only stats you will require.

Advantages

  • Raw Skill: The attack bonus of this NPC is equal to the highest participating PCs ranged basic attack bonus +3
  • Cheater!: The NPC is somehow cheating to win! The cheat can be noticed by a Hard Perception check. During the first shot, use Passive Perception (unless a PC is specifically seeking out foul play) During the second shot the PC (or allied spectators) may make a roll to detect the wrongdoing. The nature of the cheat will effect how it is detected. Some ideas include drugging competitors, replacing regular ammunition with faulty arrows, tampering with the targets, etc. Proof of wrongdoing will get this NPC disqualified.
  • Judge in His Pocket: The NPC has bribed a judge to give him high marks for his relatively easy “trick” shots and to poo-poo the feats of other archers. The PC’s must find this out ahead of time and deal with the judge accordingly.
  • Crowd Favorite: The NPC is a returning champion, and the locals love him. Each round he is cheered for, granting the NPC a +3 bonus on attack rolls. The PC’s must come up with a strategy to sway the crowd away from the champ, or bear the brunt of his advantage. You might opt to make this more severe by having the crowd jeer and boo the champion NPCs opponents, incurring a -2 penalty on their shots unless a Moderate Endurance or Insight check is made.
  • Imposing: Not only is this archer good, but he keeps shooting daggers at you with his eyes…and, might just do that literally too! The PC must make a Hard Insight, Intimidate, Endurance, or Perception check to avoid the glowering of this competitor, or else take a -2 penalty on their attack rolls!

Exploits

  • Caves Under Pressure: A talented shooter when he isn’t trying to hard, but it’s easy to get in his head. If the PC complete a Complexity 1 Skill Challenge using Bluff, Intimidate, and Insight as primary skills, they will incur a -5 penalty to all the NPC’s shots.
  • Weapon Expert: The NPC is a marvel with a signature bow. He’s so accustomed to its weight and pull that he and the weapon are one. But put any other bow in his hand, and his performance degrades appreciably (-3 attack roll penalty)
  • Cocky: This NPC is so full of himself he knows he will win! Unless…he doesn’t! If the NPC does not make the highest score in a round, he is vulnerable to a Moderate Intimidate or Bluff check to play on his insecurities. If successful, he takes a cumulative -2 penalty for each round he does not make top score in.
  • Cheaters!: The PC’s cheat. The particulars are subject to the kind of cheating the players concoct, and getting caught means disqualification and public shame. Statistically, this will likely require a Complexity 1 Skill Challenge using Bluff, Thievery, and Stealth to accomplish.
  • Fall-guy: This NPC is not known for his honor, but for his greed. He would love to win; but if the PC’s can make losing seem more favorable, he would be happy to take a fall in the competition.
  • Man on the Run: Some of the archery contestants have checkered pasts. This NPC’s just might catch up with him if the PCs have any say in it. If they ask around, it will be revealed that this NPC is wanted by the law, debtors, a rival, or a criminal group. Finding a representative of that group and directing them to their target will remove this archer from the competition entirely.
  • Glutton: Even a fat man can have steady aim…assuming he can draw the bow over his gut! This archer is a voracious eater. If the PC’s can sucker him into overeating, he’ll throw his aim off, incurring a -2 penalty to all his shots.
  • Horny Goat: This young archer hopes to win enough fame to woo any woman he sees. However he is easily distracted by the wiles of lovely and interested women, and that just might keep his eye veering away from the target. If a PC can successfully seduce him (or hire someone else to) the contestant will take a -2 penalty to all attack roles due to his frequent flirtations.

(Apologies for all of the presumed male NPCs here! Pronouns were for convenience only; lady archers are more than welcome to be trounced by your PCs!)

Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
As with the Pie Eating Contest, be sure that the reward for the archery competition is properly tempting. Magic items, raw coin, land, and even a chance to have an audience with a noble who has previously snubbed them (the noble will be personally congratulating the winner) are all good possible rewards. Tying the competition into your over-arching plot is also a valuable avenue to explore (Case in point, making it a means to get in touch with a VIP character, or to defeat a rival without resorting to politically caustic open combat).

 

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Passage of Arms

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Who knew that the code of chivalry also included permission to be kind of a dick

This encounter is intended for any number of PCs of any level

I’m no medieval scholar (though I know a handful of them!) but I admit it’s always nice to inject one’s D&D game with some of the actual quirks and wrinkles from our real world age(s) of swords and chainmail. One thing that caught my attention while doing some research on tourneys was the Pas d’armes. It’s not the sort of thing you usually find cropping up in your campaign and it certainly provides for an unexpected and potentially exciting encounter!

Setup
At the gates of a city or in the middle of a bridge on a well travelled road stand (# of PCs) knights in full armor, their tunics bright and their shields recently polished. These men have established a Pas d’armes. They challenge any armed and able-looking traveller to a duel. If the knights are defeated by any challengers, they will agree to give up their game and go home. Each challenger they defeat, however, is allowed to pass – though he leaves behind his pride.

Under the normal rules of honor; if the challenged warrior should decline, the knights would claim his spurs and shame him as he passes. These knights, however, have chosen a more aggressive tact. Stating that anyone who turns them down is a coward, and seeing as how armed cowards tend to get themselves in trouble, the knights will “preserve the conscientious objections” of the passerby by relieving him of his weapons – which they will then keep to either use, sell, or outfit their pages and squires. They are particularly interested in acquiring any magical or well crafted weapons this way.

Because this is a duel of a sort, the knights impart a few rules upon the PCs. The sparring is to be one on one, and non-lethal blows are expected. Anyone engaged in the fight must accept the request to yield, and those that do yield admit defeat and quit the field. If the PCs violate the rules of decorum, such as making attacks that hit multiple targets, making opportunity attacks (considered poor sport here) or ganging up on an opponent the knights will get quite irate. They will switch targets, all of them focusing on the offending PC to bring him down first, defending their own violation of the rules with shouts of “Honor demands it!”

Though competitive and forceful, the knights are not without honor. They don’t attempt to kill any of the PCs, instead knocking unconscious any PC who drops to 0 HP. Should the PCs opt to kill any of the knights, this restraint, and any rules of decorum are dropped as the sparring becomes an all out skirmish.

For all their bravado the knights are hard losers, and will only keep to the gentlemanly standards of the duel while they are winning. When bloodied, any of the knights will begin ganging up on the single strongest melee PC. At that point, the fracas becomes an all out melee – albeit still a civil and ideally non-lethal one. For all their talk of following the rules of one-on-one combat the knights are eager to give this up.

In defeat however, the knights retain their gracious attitude, and politely congratulate the PCs before leaving and allowing the challengers to pass.

Page 186 of the Player’s Handbook governs the use of the Intimidate skill during combat to convince bloodied opponents to surrender. While nominally errata or ignored by some DMs, this rule makes a lot of sense for given the encounter’s curicumstances. Point this out to your players as it may keep the goals of the fight fresh and prevent it from dragging on.

Talking Your Way Out
D&D is all about options, of course. Though the knights who have set up this Pas d’armes are hot-blooded and itching for a fight; they are still governed by their other goals: behaving like proper nobles, getting richer, wowing the crowds, and impressing potential courtship partners. Drawing on this knowledge, the players could just as easily avoid the confrontation by convincing the knights this is not the fight to pick. If your players wish to avoid the confrontation, they’ll need to pass a skill challenge to do so.

Skill Challenge

Goal: Convince the knights of the Pas d’armes to let you pas over the bridge/through the gates unhindered.
Complexity: 4 Successes before 3 Failures

Primary Skills:
Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate (all Moderate)

Secondary Skills:
History (Hard): Citing times when emergencies have permitted knights to forgo challenges without losing face might convince the eager champions to let the PC’s pass…seeing as how it won’t besmirch their honor. This use of the skill can only earn 1 success.

Arcana (Hard or Easy): Can be used in place of Intimidate to warn the knights of the consequences of dealing with such a powerful foe. If the knights have no training or little familiarity with magic, this becomes an Easy DC. This use of the skill can only earn 1 success.

Insight (Moderate): Studying the knight’s personalities grants an advantage in the negotiation, providing a +2 bonus for the next Diplomacy, Bluff, or Intimidate roll. A failure incurs a -2 to the same rolls.

Perception (Hard): Pointing out flaws in the knight’s weapons, armor, and position might make them disinclined to fight. This use of the skill can only earn 1 success.

Athletics (Moderate): An open demonstration of strength and prowess might make the knights reconsider picking this fight. This use of the skill can only earn 1 success.

Map
I’m leaving this one up to you, Gm. I’m sure you have plenty of city gate or bridge or tunnel or town square locations in your stock of map tiles and poster maps. And if you do not, well, there’s always the battlemat! This encounter doesn’t depend much on terrain and is instead a straight up fight, so map choice is not critical (though knocking an opponent off a bridge would render that combatant “defeated” in the duel, if this condition comes up in your game). Your goal in this case is immersion of character in the world and depth of the situation, not providing a tactical obstacle course.

Monsters
To represent the knights, choose a Natural Humanoid Soldier of the player’s level. Look over the creature’s stat block to make certain that it makes sense for this encounter – simpler creatures are better. Since this fight is intended to be a series of one-on-one matches (at first) consider the following modifications to whatever monster you use to represent the knights:

Change the ‘Marked’ condition to the ‘Hard Pressed’ condition: this one-off status effect imposes a -2 on attacks employing Encounter or Daily powers (thus the Essential’s Fighter’s “Power Strike” would fall under this category, even though it is activated after making a melee basic attack).

Typed Damage: Unless you want the knights to be arcanely talented or paladins of an order, change any damage of an elemental type to normal damage (representative of shield bashes, thrown elbows, kicks, etc.)

Some good options include:
-Dwarf Clan Guard (Monster Vault pg. 101)
-Knight of the Eye (Dungeon Magazine Issue 171, Pg. 93)
-Warforged Soldier [Ignoring Battlefield Tactics while still fighting honorably] (Monster Manual pg. 261)
-Warforged captain [See above] (Monster Manual pg. 261)
-Eladrin Fey Knight (Monster Vault pg. 114)
-Human Duelist (Monster Vault pg. 173)

 
 

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Incidents – Tramps and/or Thieves

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“I don’t care how many of you have yellow exclamation points over your heads – nobody gets in!”

Circumstances
The PCs are about to enter or exit the gates of a city.

Event
A caravan of Vistani (Think of them as being like the folkloric version of gypsies, or some other campaign appropriate vagabond society that is considered outcast by the world at large) is seeking entry into the city, but is being hassled and warded off by the gate guards. The authorities are gruff and have the approval of the city’s rulers to bar the entire caravan from entry if they perceive the vagabonds as a threat. If they are refused admittance, the vistani threaten that “grave consequences” will result – a threat laughed off by the annoyed guards.

In truth, if denied access to the city, the vistani will bestow a curse upon the town gates. This curse isn’t precise – but instead causes all manner of accidents to happen to those who are attempting entry through the gates. The PCs likely have the authority or cunning to convince the gate guards to ease up their restrictions and let the gypsies in. The decision would be unpopular due to common negative perceptions of the wandering outsiders, and the PCs may find that they step on some toes in the community by doing so (or perhaps even fall prey to less than law-abiding elements among the vistani themselves).

The vistani, like any society, are a mixture of personalities and alignments – be certain to portray them as such. They are neither antagonist nor ally as a whole, and plenty of adventures and side plots can erupt from their presence.

Below are some suggested mishaps, should the curse be cast. Make certain that the PCs truly feel the vistani’s wrath if they fail to come to the traveler’s aid (it may not be fair, but curses aren’t always discerning in their choice of victims):

  • An extra wide wagon busts it’s wheel in the middle of the gate, preventing anyone from entering or exiting for an hour while it repaired.
  • Guards begin falling off the wall walk. While not fatal accidents, each is out of commission for some time due to broken bones. Each tells the same story of feeling an arcane force push or pull them to wards he precipice.
  • The gates become stuck either open or closed for a whole day/night.
  • Objects from one visitor’s bag, satchel, or cart, are teleported at random to another, leading to many false accusations of thievery and a big headache for the already overtaxed guards.
  • Animals, most often horses, become spooked and irate while passing under the gate, causing traffic jams and occasionally running off without their owners.
  • When it rains, there is a torrential downpour focused right over the gate.
  • Torches cast only dim light near the gate.
  • Food and drink left too close to the gate quickly spoils or attracts insects.
  • Those sleeping in houses near the gate complain of chronic nightmares about either falling, or being pursued by an unseen and malevolent force, only to have a door closed on them when the entity draws near.

Possible EXP and Rewards
If the PCs side with the gypsies and manage to get them into the city, a Farseer among the grateful travelers will read each character’s fortune – equating to a hint about some danger in an upcoming adventure, a vague prophecy, an answer to a question about a character’s backstory or the ongoing campaign plot, or a re-roll on any die roll during this session (chalked up to a warning in the Seer’s premonition).

If the PCs do not aid the vistani, they might still want to remove the curse placed on the gate. After a week when it has become apparent that the curse is no laughing matter, town will become desperate to remove it, and would happily reward the PCs for doing so. Consider offering a moderate treasure parcel for accomplishing the task. This could be done through an Arcana and Religion heavy skill challenge, a ritual, or by accomplishing a quest to convince (or fool, or threaten) the gypsies into lifting the curse. Particularly vicious groups of PCs might seek to solve the situation through combat. The curse is fueled by the vistani’s sense of having been wronged – were they all to be killed, the curse would have no fuel to sustain itself, and thus be lifted.

Regardless of their tact, grant the PCs experience equivalent to a monster of their average level +1, though it is possible that this incident may require further adventures with their own rewards.

 
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Posted by on October 3, 2012 in Incidents, Not 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

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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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