Help designing this Chase Scene Encounter?

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So as a boss fight, I believe the characters will be traveling though a city at night, from one location to another one via a carriage. Combat begins when spectral wraiths appear outside the carriage's windows, suddenly a scream is heard from outside as the wraiths kill the carriage's driver. When a character looks out side to see what happened to the driver (finding him dead, and the carriage going at top speed and the horses are spooked and are not stopping, tring to flee the wraiths with no driver), he see the main BBEG that summoned the wraiths. A way back, down the road he flies towards them upon the undead remains of a dragon, flying through the city streets after them between buildings. 

I want to incorporate a skill challenge here, and here is what has first come to mind. The PCs begin their combat encounter on the carriage, having to climb all over it while it moves, or attack the spectral assailants from inside. Someone's going to have to take control of the reigns, and begin a skill challenge to control the horses so the carriage doesn't careen out of control, one check per round.

Now I see it as each failure means the horses are harder to control and are swaying to sides of the road threatening to crash, in addition to the BBEG and his dragon mount getting 1/3 closer to joining the encounter. With each fail, each character not "in" the carriage has to make an Acrobatics/Athletics check to not be thrown off into the streets. So, regardless they are going to face both the wraiths and the BBEG/dragon. 3 failures mean he joins in with the wraiths and they all have to fight them all simultaneously. Successes keep the BBEG at bay as he chases, meaning they have less enemies and attacks to deal with at the moment. A total success of the skill challenge means after they defeat the wraiths flying alongside and fighting them, they can continue racing away from the dragon long enough for them to take a "mini short rest" in which they can spend up to 1 healing surge, and regain 1 encounter power. The dragon/BBEG catching up is inevitable, but is more easily dealt with if they can outrun him for a while. 

So basically high-speed chase of wraiths attacking PCs while they try to control an out of control carriage through dark city streets, making sharp turns at intersections, causing the BBEG/dragon to hit buildings and slow him down as he flies through the streets trying to catch up without constantly hitting buildings with the dragon's wingspans.

Any reccomendations? It's just a little something I thought up tonight and figured even if no one has any ideas to add to it, I'd share it. I will say I'm not sure what skills to go about using for the Skill challenge in combat, Other than the person with the reigns can make Nature (for calming the horses), Perception (for spotting intersections in time), and.... what else?  
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Why wouldn't the PCs just leap out of the carriage the second the driver is killed? They could then keep the fight on their terms without any additional complications, even if they get scuffed up by jumping out. You'll have to come up with a compelling reason to stay on the carriage, some kind of goal they need to see realized that involves the carriage in some way. Perhaps they are transporting an unwieldy object they need for some future rendezvous or they themselves are chasing someone else in a different carriage and will lose them unless they can keep up.

If the characters are the heroic type, you might consider putting a big alchemist's shop at the far end of the street - the dragon and wraiths are driving the panicked horses toward it. Once it careens into the building, it explodes, taking out a city block and starting a raging fire in town. If they're heroes, they'll try to stop that from happening and THIS would be your interesting defeat condition on the skill challenge.

Leave the skills and what they mean completely open-ended. Don't give them options, just ask what they do in this situation. If what they want to sounds like it could have interesting repercussions (by failing or succeeding), then ask for a roll. If what they want to do does not sound like it could have interesting repercussions, then they can just do it at the cost of an appropriate action. At the start of each round, introduce a new complication - a wheel flies off, a crowd of street urchins is standing in the street up ahead, etc. That will provoke them to use different skills than just Nature to control the horses. Consider applying a significant cost or penalty to failures by 5 or more only - regular failures should be a matter of bringing them closer to their doom (crashing into the alchemy shop, for example). Warn them of their peril in no uncertain terms each time a failure comes up.

Finally, I'd almost leave the dragon as a more environmental effect until the PCs are ready to face it post-carriage chase scene. Certainly deduct its hit points and put conditions on it as things unfold, but really its purpose is to drive the carriage (and the PCs) forward. I'd be careful with the wraiths, too. Weakened and insubstantial (and regen iirc?) is not particularly interesting and can be quite deadly. Consider making them ghosts, specters, or just use some ghost-like minions. Maybe the BBEG summons them by spewing them like a dragon's breath out of his mount's gullet.

Success on the skill challenge in this example would be avoiding disaster in the alchemy warehouse which earns the trust and remuneration of the alchemist/wizard who runs it who may even join in on the side of the PCs against the dragon/BBEG. ("Here, try my new invention on the dragon - a flamethrower!") Or it could mean that plus some other advantage to the PCs such as regaining a couple encounter powers or spending healing surges ahead of the next phase of the fight.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Well by "wraiths" I was mostly saying a generalization, ghosts, specters, so on. Though I do like the idea of the dragon breathing them out.

And as for the motivation for staying on the carriage, I assumed the for sure fact that their encounter immediately becomes more difficult rather than taking out the wraiths and the dragon seperatly would be motivation enough. And not sure how to incorporate another objective here. I'm converting the mini adventure included in the back of the Eberron Campaign Guide to a Shadowfell Setting, and replacing the very final enounter with this carriage chase scene, as well as upping that 1st lvl adventure to lvl 9. lol. As for the open ended available skills for the challenge, normally that'd probably be fine, but my players are the kind that are like "tell me what kind of checks I can make here" rather than trying to come up with their own.
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Well by "wraiths" I was mostly saying a generalization, ghosts, specters, so on. Though I do like the idea of the dragon breathing them out.



Ah, gotcha. Yeah, the breath weapon thing should be memorable in play.

And as for the motivation for staying on the carriage, I assumed the for sure fact that their encounter immediately becomes more difficult rather than taking out the wraiths and the dragon seperatly would be motivation enough. And not sure how to incorporate another objective here.



You know your players better than I do obviously. You might just try the alchemist warehouse thing then as it's a heroic thing to stop the carriage before it smashes into it and destroys half the town. Unless they don't like the town, that is, in which case, BOOM! Which is cool anyway.

I'm converting the mini adventure included in the back of the Eberron Campaign Guide to a Shadowfell Setting, and replacing the very final enounter with this carriage chase scene, as well as upping that 1st lvl adventure to lvl 9. lol.



I ran that adventure, but I can't remember anything about it!

As for the open ended available skills for the challenge, normally that'd probably be fine, but my players are the kind that are like "tell me what kind of checks I can make here" rather than trying to come up with their own.



Okay, I can live with that as I've had players who do the same thing. Here's the solution that worked best for me when DMing for those players: Transparency. I'd write up the skill challenge and then hand it to them. They could then incorporate those option into their other tactics and make it their own. Often, it would inspire them to come up with their own stuff because they were better able to understand the gravity of the situation.

In order to do this, I clearly define the objective of the skill challenge ("Stop the Carriage from Careening into the Alchemy Warehouse"). I'd tell them the number of successes required. Then I'd create 3 broad (fairly obvious) strategies for dealing with it with a level-appropriate DC - e.g., "Hold Your Horses (DC 23)," "Disconnect the Carriage (DC 25)," etc. Put 2-3 skills under that strategy that apply. For "Hold Your Horses" it might be Intimidate, Nature, or Basic Attacks to kill the steed. For "Disconnect the Carriage," it could be Arcana, Athletics, or Thievery. Each strategy would come with an action cost and sometimes a little bonus. If someone successfully "Holds Your Horses," for example, maybe next round nobody needs to make Acrobatics checks while moving around the carriage. Done right, you should have a range of skills equal to the number of PCs + 2, which is ideal.

And that's it. I definitely prefer to run them more fluidly, but we can't always get what we want as DMs, so that's what I came up with. It worked quite well and, over time, actually got them to be more open to using their own ideas in the skill challenge.

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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Sounds like it could work out pretty good, only thing is I don't know how they'd know about the alchemist place other than at last minute. There's no real good straight stretches of road here, so they really wouldn't see it until last minute, and I don't see why they'd perhaps careen into that shop when they've already avoided 100+ in the last few rounds in a high speed chase. 

And super simple recap of Eberron adventure; Fight in tower, save two people. Flash forward 4 years, its a celebration, Mournland Haunt shows up. PCs investigate throughout sharn, led back to BBEG's base of operations where he's assembled a doomsday device to blow up a portion of the city. The PCs disarm it, and head back via skiff back to other NPC. Enroute there is BBEG fight with them in an air skiff, and BBEG/thugs on floating platforms. Basically doing this, 8 levels higher, not in Eberron/Sharn, expanding a little here and there, and changing the final fight scene to a high speed chase. There is practically NOTHING for 4e Premades for entirely urban settings. Do you know of any? Lvl 9+? Sure you can re-skin some adventures to just cities, but it REALLY doesn't work for some of them. Like "oh our town is threatend by hobgoblins coming, clear them our", kinda hard to believe in a city half the size of new york with full militia... lol 
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One thing that can be awkward regarding these kinds of things. What do you do if one of the party members does actually fail all their checks and fall while the horses are careening out of control? If the rest of the party are getting carried along on the coach whoever falls is going to be left on their own up against aforementioned BBEG and undead dragon. The party will most likely all jump off next round and head back to attempt to assist or will leave them to their fate. Either way, you may want to consider some way of handling it other than "Sucks to be you."

I'm not sure what the best way to handle it would be. Maybe have some of the smaller undead could be mounted on skeletal horses. One or more of these will peel off from the main pursuit to deal with any PC that falls and at that point the PC can kill the undead, claim the horse and use it to catch up to the main event.

 
Sounds like it could work out pretty good, only thing is I don't know how they'd know about the alchemist place other than at last minute. There's no real good straight stretches of road here, so they really wouldn't see it until last minute, and I don't see why they'd perhaps careen into that shop when they've already avoided 100+ in the last few rounds in a high speed chase.



That's just it - they weren't looking for an alchemist shop. It put itself in their path, unfortunately. This is a DM storytelling technique called "Reveal an Unwelcome Truth." The PCs are in a tense situation (out of control horses). The DM ups the ante by revealing they're going in a straight path, unwavering, directly toward a building that will blow up in a big way. The old horse running into a burning barn trope, only the building's not burning... yet. "What do you do about that?" As for the roads, make them however you like - you're the DM! Unless you've purposely established otherwise for a good reason, nobody's going to care when you say they're on a straight road that dead ends in an explosive warehouse. It's a scene straight out of pulp fiction like Indiana Jones.

Internal consistency and versimilitude is not the focus of this scene - the action is. So go crazy!

And super simple recap of Eberron adventure; Fight in tower, save two people. Flash forward 4 years, its a celebration, Mournland Haunt shows up. PCs investigate throughout sharn, led back to BBEG's base of operations where he's assembled a doomsday device to blow up a portion of the city. The PCs disarm it, and head back via skiff back to other NPC. Enroute there is BBEG fight with them in an air skiff, and BBEG/thugs on floating platforms. Basically doing this, 8 levels higher, not in Eberron/Sharn, expanding a little here and there, and changing the final fight scene to a high speed chase. There is practically NOTHING for 4e Premades for entirely urban settings. Do you know of any? Lvl 9+? Sure you can re-skin some adventures to just cities, but it REALLY doesn't work for some of them. Like "oh our town is threatend by hobgoblins coming, clear them our", kinda hard to believe in a city half the size of new york with full militia... lol 



Oh yeah, I remember now. What portions of this did you actually use? Sounds like you really just did your own thing rather than use this mod. As for city adventures, I have my own theories on why they don't publish many of those. Certain RPG systems like D&D work best in closed locations for many reasons - I mean, dungeon's in the title, right? - and large cities aren't really closed locations. They're also hard to write a published adventure for because the scope can be so much bigger than a ruined temple in the swamp. Page count and all that. I have seen some good city adventures over the years so they do them from time to time. I can't recall seeing any of note in 4e though, but that doesn't mean they're not out there (I haven't checked really).

One thing that can be awkward regarding these kinds of things. What do you do if one of the party members does actually fail all their checks and fall while the horses are careening out of control? If the rest of the party are getting carried along on the coach whoever falls is going to be left on their own up against aforementioned BBEG and undead dragon. The party will most likely all jump off next round and head back to attempt to assist or will leave them to their fate. Either way, you may want to consider some way of handling it other than "Sucks to be you."



The possibility of falling off the carriage doesn't even need to come up if you're concerned about this. You just don't call for Acrobatics checks. If you're talking about accruing failures in the skill challenge, the results of those failures can be interpreted a number of ways and none of them have to be a matter of falling off. As well, if someone should fall off, describe what happens - they roll into a pile of garbage as the carriage speeds away. The dragon may not stop for that PC at all, leaving him to get up, dust himself off, and start making skill checks to catch up to his friends just in time for the Big Battle. "Thought you were going to leave me behind and fight this dragon all by yourselves, eh? Think again!"

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
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I see (about the Alchemist's place). And the winding roads is just kinda the city itself (Gloomwrought, in the Shadowfell), but I'm sure it has to have one road or two somewhere where it straightens for a bit, lol. 

And about the falling off, I mentioned it in my initial post as the PCs "Making an Acrobatics/Athletics check if they're not 'in' the carriage for each fail". I imagined a fail in this scenario being forcing the horses to turn too late and the left/right side of the carriage slapping against the side of a building before carrying on, with the final fail being the carriage breaking and no longer being able to delay the BBEG/dragon from joining in. But now I like the carraige breaking 'into' an Alchemist's shop, lol, followed by the dragon joining. 

As for the module, and how much I'm "kinda using", I guess since I'm upping it 8 freaking levels, reflavoring Sharn, chaning all the enemies, and the boss fight, ... not much I guess, lol. The story-arc I suppose;
Event 1: PCs at a celebration/fair/carnival/parade, and weird creature appears, no one knows what it is.
Event 2: The PCs wander through the city both following small clues whatever it was left behind and talking with witnesses that may have seen where it came from (perhaps running in with the wrong people doing so).
Event 3: They trace it back to a crappy little nothing place in a nice district, inside are people BBEG hired to guard the place (they don't know about event 4).
Event 4: In a locked room is a doomsday device BBEG made on a timer, PCs disarm it.
Event 5: returning back to the PCs' HQ via carriage, the BBEG exacts revenge (as he watches from a safe distance and sees his doomsday device didn't go off, then chases after the PCs). End
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I see (about the Alchemist's place). And the winding roads is just kinda the city itself (Gloomwrought, in the Shadowfell), but I'm sure it has to have one road or two somewhere where it straightens for a bit, lol.



The reason I suggested it is because it's much easier to visualize and run with a straight road dead-ending in something dangerous as well. It suggests a specific problem ahead that must be dealt with or there will be consequences. The clearer you can be with your players, the easier it will be for them to come up with responses to the threat.

"The horses's eyes are wide with terror and they tear off down the road pulling the carriage behind them. The dragon struggles to keep up with you flapping its tattered wings, twisting and turning to avoid chimneys and parapets, smashing those that it can't avoid. Issuing from its bony maw is a dread mist which forms into wailing spirits who cling to the carriage and try to get to you, hungry for the revenge against the living. On its back is [BBEG] raging at those who destroyed his doomsday device and derailed his dastardly schemes. Ahead, where the unbending road dead-ends, stands the open bay door of what appears to be an alchemist's laboratory and warehouse, stuffed to the rafters with all manner of dangerous - and no doubt explosive - reagents. The horses show no sign of stopping and will careen into the building before long, causing a massive explosion which could see Gloomwrought burned to a cinder. What do you do?"

And about the falling off, I mentioned it in my initial post as the PCs "Making an Acrobatics/Athletics check if they're not 'in' the carriage for each fail". I imagined a fail in this scenario being forcing the horses to turn too late and the left/right side of the carriage slapping against the side of a building before carrying on, with the final fail being the carriage breaking and no longer being able to delay the BBEG/dragon from joining in. But now I like the carraige breaking 'into' an Alchemist's shop, lol, followed by the dragon joining.



I'd probably say someone falls off the carriage if they're doing something specific, make a skill check for that action (say, trying to calm the horses or disconnect the horses from the carriage), and fails by 5 or more. They eat pavement and the carriage speeds off. The dragon's probably not going to stop for them, though a couple minions wraiths might. They can then just "catch up in the nick of time" when battle ensues. It depends though. I'd only have them fall off it it makes sense their failing would cause that. Otherwise, I might apply some other "penalty" like a little damage or something. Depends on what they're doing.

How many of the PCs have ranged attacks to deal with the dragon while they're on the carriage?

No amount of tips, tricks, or gimmicks will ever be better than simply talking directly to your fellow players to resolve your issues.
DMs: Don't Prep the Plot | Structure First, Story Last | Prep Tips | Spoilers Don't Spoil Anything | No Myth Roleplaying
Players: 11 Ways to Be a Better Roleplayer | You Are Not Your Character     Hilarious D&D Actual Play Podcast: Crit Juice!

Here, Have Some Free Material From Me: Encounters With Alternate Goals  |  Dark Sun Full-Contact Futbol   |   Pre-Generated D&D 5e PCs

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