Share Your Interesting Encounter Ideas

31 posts / 0 new
Last post
I'm sure that this is true for a lot of DMs, but I know that I am always on the lookout for new and interesting encounter designs, something besides the "You walk into a room, there's monsters, you fight them, and then you go to the next room with monsters."  So let's share our ideas -- our best ones, some we're still trying to tweak, etc.  My hope is that we can get some new ideas, offer suggestions to what others have proposed, and generally have a good go of it.

That said, here's one shamefully stolen from the movie Stakeland:

The PCs are somehow investigating a weird religious cult.  Upon finding their hideout, the PCs are a little shocked and suspicious of the lack of guards.  The place is a ghost town.  They find a main hall and inside are a number of bodies sprawled out on the floor.  In the center of the room there's a large glass vessel, mostly empty.  Surrounding the bodies are chipped and cracked goblets.  In the back of the room lays a bassinet from which the PCs hear a mewling baby.  If the PCs approach the bassinet they find it empty, aside from a knot of rags and by the time they turn around they are face-to-face with the cult members, arms drawn and out for blood.
Here's one I came up with:

The PCs are posing as merceneries trying to get in good with the drow, in a drow city, in order to retrieve an artifact. They have made their presence known, and are offering their services as experts on the artifact, in order to learn its location. They are staying on the third story of a hotel on the outskirts of town.

Kidnappers are sent to take their bargaining chip (the party's cleric, or whatever). A group of half-drow strike when one party member is away. That party member will sit out the first round of combat, and then make saves at the end of every subsequent round, to determine if he comes in on the next round. The kidnappers win if they actually kidnap the cleric, but it's probably not necessary to plan for that, as they also win if they reveal the true nature of the party and escape with that information.

The kidnappers have a hoard of special spiders that can burrow through the wall of the hotel, and a special spider that serves as a zipline. That is how they burst in. They gain surprise, but use their surprise round basically just to enter the room and gain position. The walls of the hotel are fairly spongey, because it was grown and is run by a family of myconids, so characters can bash through them fairly easily.

The kidnappers bug out if they're being beaten, or if they are knocked out of the in. They can use daggers to scrape down the side of the building and land softly.

Half-drow are shadar-kai with one of the drow darkness powers.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

@Centauri, I really like this example.  One of its major strengths are the different ways that the PCs can succeed or fail.  In general, I think the more ideas the DM has going into the encounter will help him or her to roll with the punches for even more wild ideas that the PCs can come up with.

Also, thanks for giving a template for the half-drow.  Very helpful. 
@Centauri, I really like this example.  One of its major strengths are the different ways that the PCs can succeed or fail.  In general, I think the more ideas the DM has going into the encounter will help him or her to roll with the punches for even more wild ideas that the PCs can come up with.

Actually, I wasn't completely honest above: I didn't have any of those ideas going into the encounter. I asked my players at the outset who they thought would be coming after them and basically the who, what, where, when, how and why of the encounter. It was completely improvised and collaborative.

Also, there are no punches to have to roll with. I say "Yes, and..." to every idea my players have. I have no plan in mind for them to try to figure out or get around. If they short-circuit any part of the encounter, they're short-circuiting their own ideas.

Also, thanks for giving a template for the half-drow.  Very helpful. 

Also made up on the spot. I didn't consult the players on that, but I could have.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

@Centauri, I really like this example.  One of its major strengths are the different ways that the PCs can succeed or fail.  In general, I think the more ideas the DM has going into the encounter will help him or her to roll with the punches for even more wild ideas that the PCs can come up with.

Actually, I wasn't completely honest above: I didn't have any of those ideas going into the encounter. I asked my players at the outset who they thought would be coming after them and basically the who, what, where, when, how and why of the encounter. It was completely improvised and collaborative.

Also, there are no punches to have to roll with. I say "Yes, and..." to every idea my players have. I have no plan in mind for them to try to figure out or get around. If they short-circuit any part of the encounter, they're short-circuiting their own ideas.

Also, thanks for giving a template for the half-drow.  Very helpful. 

Also made up on the spot. I didn't consult the players on that, but I could have.




And that's fine.  Regardless of which person(s) designed the encounter, I think it's a great example of one.  Have you found that, in general, the collaborative encounter design leads to this kind of multi-faceted win/loss "trees" if you will?
Have you found that, in general, the collaborative encounter design leads to this kind of multi-faceted win/loss "trees" if you will?

It's usually necessary for the DM to ask some leading questions such as "There's a way you can lose this encounter, even if they don't kill or capture you: what is it?" In a later encounter, they were at the culmination of a heist of an artifact they were after. I told them that I didn't think it would be the most fun for them to obtain the artifact now, and that someone else in the scene would escape with it. They could win the encounter by preventing all of the enemies from escaping, which would mean that they would be able to learn who had sent the other team. If they failed, they would still have a lead, but their characters wouldn't know the truth. Collaboration enables us to run failure modes and other conditions that most players wouldn't like having imposed on them.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

i sat in with a group of guys who have asked me to join their group

the encounter was the the party was in a gladiatorial arena fighting another group of adventurers to gain favour with the king.

the arena was an underground chamber where the floor had squares (with some obstacles here and there) and each square was connected by a magical field. the arena was also littered with vhighly corroded weapons and armour aswell as some skeletons (dead, not living mobs). as the fight started a very thick fluid began to seep through the magical field from all edges of the room and start to eat away at all people in the fight.
eventuall one of the players rolled on a check and realised that the ooze coming in was a gigantic Gelatinous Cube. and the only way to escape was to kill all of the other group.

it was pretty funny to see the reactions on the player faces when they realised what was actually happening
I had an idea for an encounter for my group when they are in Undermountain. 

The characters enter a room. Although it looks like it has been long abandoned, it still bears the markings of a small girl's bedchamber. Pink frills faded with age and laced with cobwebs lay draped across most surfaces. Porcelain dolls sit neatly on shelves, their blank expressions eerie.

In the centre of the room sits a small table, upon it lies a disc that appears to be emitting music, the like of which would be found in a child's music box. Play music:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-dcG3UhWXc&list...


Movement catches the players' eyes and on the disc they can see a figure whirling about in a ballet dance. Upon closer inspection, they can see it is an angle trapped in the dance. Her mouth moves soundlessly but players can tell that she's calling for help. Her eyes are distraught.

It's then up to the players to decide whether they want to help her escape. She is however:


Angel of Eternal Protection


An angel of protection brought to death and back again, the angel of eternal protection is an effective personal guardian. Where it once upheld its god’s will through the defence of another, it now has only one objective: to tirelessly defend the creatures its new master names its ward. Dantus uses them as his own personal guard, and he makes rare gifts of them to allies or to nobles as bribes.


Angel of Eternal Protection Tactics


The angel of eternal protection stays near its ward so it can use ward in undeath to keep its master alive. It gives anything to keep its ward alive, so it does not hesitate to use burning the black candle. When its ward is in mortal danger, the angel tries to avoid conditions that prevent it from using immediate actions.  

What happens next I'm not sure but I thought it could be something a little different. 


 


 
..."window.parent.tinyMCE.get('post_content').onLoad.dispatch();" contenteditable="true" />Also, there are no punches to have to roll with. I say "Yes, and..." to every idea my players have. I have no plan in mind for them to try to figure out or get around. If they short-circuit any part of the encounter, they're short-circuiting their own ideas.



It takes quick thinking to pull that off effectively.

Hats off to you.
 I like to set it up so there is only one real fight where the only fail option is death, and all other encounters in the same area augment the difficulty of said fight.


Failure could make said fight harder:
The PC's arrive in a large underground room with a handful of buildings scattered about. While investigating the buildings they find some light loot. Maybe rations, some silver peices, or the bread that fills you up for 2 days (I cant remember the name). One building contains a medium to small group of enemies. Upon entering the building the group charges. Announce that one of the smaller members is running away deeper into the cave. (If a PC speaks their language inform them they are seeking help). Typically a faster pc with athetics and acrobatics will chase them leading to an interesting series of checks while they jump over chasims and slide under low celings and such. If they catch and kill the runner the final conflict remains unchanged. If he escapes or they dont chase him all following encounters are now alerted to the presence of the party.


Or success could make said fight easier:
The PC's are alerted to the sounds of a fairly large battallion being told that their new orders will be posted at X location. If the PC's understood the language being used then they know the location if not have them make an intellegence check to see if they can peice together what is being said. Success means their orders are being posted somewhere but the PC's are unaware where. Finding and reading the orders will reveal they are being told to stay close to the end fight area of the encounter. They can then change the orders to whatever they want assuming they can forge it well enough. (Or even read it) Success would make the end encounter easier while failure or ignoring it would not change the difficulty.


If it seems the first is more fleshed out its because I just ran that one about an hour ago :p They are about a third of the way through this tomb and I'm thinking of using that one as the next set peice.
Also, there are no punches to have to roll with. I say "Yes, and..." to every idea my players have. I have no plan in mind for them to try to figure out or get around. If they short-circuit any part of the encounter, they're short-circuiting their own ideas.

It takes quick thinking to pull that off effectively.

Hats off to you.

There are generally two ways to compute something rapidly: get a faster computer, or get more computers. I don't think any faster than anyone else, I just hook my players' brains in parallel and together we come up with ideas that would take any one of us a very long time to work out, if it even ever occurred to us at all.

If I have to ask the GM for it, then I don't want it.

I had an idea for an encounter for my group when they are in Undermountain. 

The characters enter a room. Although it looks like it has been long abandoned, it still bears the markings of a small girl's bedchamber. Pink frills faded with age and laced with cobwebs lay draped across most surfaces. Porcelain dolls sit neatly on shelves, their blank expressions eerie.

In the centre of the room sits a small table, upon it lies a disc that appears to be emitting music, the like of which would be found in a child's music box. Play music:


www.youtube.com/watch?v=x-dcG3UhWXc&list...


Movement catches the players' eyes and on the disc they can see a figure whirling about in a ballet dance. Upon closer inspection, they can see it is an angle trapped in the dance. Her mouth moves soundlessly but players can tell that she's calling for help. Her eyes are distraught.

It's then up to the players to decide whether they want to help her escape. She is however:


Angel of Eternal Protection


An angel of protection brought to death and back again, the angel of eternal protection is an effective personal guardian. Where it once upheld its god’s will through the defence of another, it now has only one objective: to tirelessly defend the creatures its new master names its ward. Dantus uses them as his own personal guard, and he makes rare gifts of them to allies or to nobles as bribes.


Angel of Eternal Protection Tactics


The angel of eternal protection stays near its ward so it can use ward in undeath to keep its master alive. It gives anything to keep its ward alive, so it does not hesitate to use burning the black candle. When its ward is in mortal danger, the angel tries to avoid conditions that prevent it from using immediate actions.  

What happens next I'm not sure but I thought it could be something a little different. 


 


 



I really like this idea.  Music is super creepy too.  Thanks for sharing.

I've got an encounter coming up that I could use some advice on.  

My PCs will be exiting an old temple in the witchlight fens and their guides, a small group of Lizardfolk will be taking them further south into the swamp, as opposed to north so they can get back to Fallcrest.  Assuming the PCs will hang with the Lizardfolk -- I've got contingencies in place in case they don't -- the Lizardfolk will be bringing them to a small coven of hags.  the hags have a vested interest in the PCs succeeding in their current quest to exterminate a vampire in the Nentir Vale, but I'm a little hesitant to make the hags' goals correspond perfectly with the PCs.  They will have some useful information for my players, but the hags will want something in return, something the PCs may be a little loath to either part with or do as a favor for the hags.

For those of you who have used hags or thought about using them in the past, what are some ideas?  What have you found really engaged your players, and what pitfalls would you suggest I avoid?

 
The nice thing about Hags is that they don't have to look like Hags.  They can be disguished as ravishingly beautiful women.  If your group doesn't already know that they're about to deal with Hags, I'd have them come across the Hags when they are disguised.  Attempt to convince the party that these "women" are of pure intent and only want to help them.  All they ask is the return of an item that was stolen from them.  The item can be whatever you decide but should somehow grant the Hags with some awesome power, making them more than a match for the party if they decided to fight.  This way, if the party does indeed believe the Hags and return the item to them, you can have the Hags become recurring villians that will from that point on attempt to thwart the parties plans.  And eventually they could have an all out battle with them sometime in the future when you "re-introduced" the Hags as the bad guys that they are.
This weekend my 4E group is turning its attention to a new story arc. They are traveling to the Lake Nen region in the Nentir Vale (we are using and love the points of light campaign setting) to find information on a dragon's lair in the Feywild. They've basically said they are riding directly to the town of Nenlast, unless something interesting catches their eye along the way (ie "DM, toss us something interesting along the way").

The setup is simple: The party comes across a fight already in progress. Among snow-covered ruins and rocky terrain, a group of Dragonborn (low-level members of Dythan's Legion) are fending off an attack by the Tiger Claw Barbarian tribe (both groups in the Threats to the Nentir Vale book). The party can watch the fight play out to a stalemate, can jump in and help either side, doesn't matter to me.

Story hooks
- The Dragonborn are searching the ruins for an artifact of Arkhosia. They have found a large stone door leading to an underground complex but can't figure out how to open it.
- The initial attack by the barbarians killed several members, forcing one of the Dragonborn to be field promoted. Another officer lies dying and has been poisoned by a Tigerclaw weapon. The poison prevents them from magically healing him, and his wounds are getting worse.
- The Tigerclaw tribe are attacking for two reasons: The ruins are considered sacred ground and the Dragonborn have captured one of their tribe and are holding her hostage.
- The Dragonborn believe the hostage, a young shifter woman, is the key to opening the door. They plan on forcing her to cooperate, one way or another.
- The shifter girl was to be a vassal of the white dragon Bitterstrike. If the tribe cannot deliver her within X time limit, the dragon will come after the tribe. And, if the tribe can convince Bitterstrike the Dragonborn is the enemy, possibly after the girl.
- The Dragonborn are outnumbered. They are growing increasingly desperate.
- A plant called Blueroot is in the hills near the tribe's camp. It can cure the poison which ails the Dragonborn officer who is dying.
- Unbeknownst to both sides, something powerful and hungry waits on the other side of the stone door.

And here is the real trick to the whole scenario: Neither side is the bad guys. Both have clear goals, believe they are right, and are doing what they believe is best.

Enter the heroes.
I have an idea for an encounter that has interesting terrain, but I'm blanking on alternate goals and purpose.

I've thought about having a trip into madness/Far Realm, where the combat encounter takes place on the inside of a cube, where gravity shifts pretty frequently.   I'd include mechanisms where the PC's could change gravity on their turn, and it changes again at a set point in initiative.  I was thinking of having all players roll a d6 at that time, and then go around the table to see which direction gravity is shifting to. 
In order to not have all players constantly prone, I'd let them roll Acrobatics, Arcana, or just a Reflex check if not trained otherwise. 

As for the gravity shift, it could be done in at least two ways:  Actually teleport the players to the same location on the grid,  A5 or C6, etc.  Or it would work out like we flipped the cube and caused players to slide around along the floor or wall.

This is all very basic at the moment, not even sure what enemies to throw against them.  All floors/sides would have some hazardous terrain, so positioning would be very crucial.  I'd need to have it all within a manageable area, I'm thinking either 8x8 or 10x10, if I have enough space on my battlemat. 
Mapping it out, I'd likely have 3 side by side squares, with the sides color coded, so both red lines are where those two sides meet.

Any other suggestions for how to do this well?  Idea for alternate goals would be very helpful, as I don't want it to be just - Kill 'em all. 
There's no hurry on this, players wouldn't get to here for 2-3 months, if at all.  But I'd still like to plan something out like this, I think they would enjoy it.
@jplay36, thanks for your feedback.  Here's my plan as I've thought it out so far: 

As the PCs approach the hags' hut in the swamp, they hear low groaning sounds.  Upon entering, they see a young lady in the throes of labor.  Two older women are assisting her, but there are blood-soaked rags and bloody purge water at her feet.  My guess is that the cleric will try to assist, but that won't require any rolls.  The young hag will eventually give birth to some sort of stillborn weirdness -- boar, deformed humanoid, mass of hair and teeth, I don't know -- and the stillborn is unceremoniously cast aside.  The hags use the afterbirth, though, in a divination ritual, and start giving the PCs information about who they are, why they came to the witchlight fens, etc.  All this is given in roundabout language, and Macbethian hag style riddles.  I'd like for the PCs to know that something is up with this group, but have the motivations be in a bit of a gray area.  Then the hags will offer assistance or say they know where an item that will help the PCs is located, but the PCs will have to do something for them as well.  That's where I'm stuck.

Also, I'm probably going to enlist some player help on this point, but I'd like to have some ideas going in. 
This weekend my 4E group is turning its attention to a new story arc. They are traveling to the Lake Nen region in the Nentir Vale (we are using and love the points of light campaign setting) to find information on a dragon's lair in the Feywild. They've basically said they are riding directly to the town of Nenlast, unless something interesting catches their eye along the way (ie "DM, toss us something interesting along the way").

The setup is simple: The party comes across a fight already in progress. Among snow-covered ruins and rocky terrain, a group of Dragonborn (low-level members of Dythan's Legion) are fending off an attack by the Tiger Claw Barbarian tribe (both groups in the Threats to the Nentir Vale book). The party can watch the fight play out to a stalemate, can jump in and help either side, doesn't matter to me.

Story hooks
- The Dragonborn are searching the ruins for an artifact of Arkhosia. They have found a large stone door leading to an underground complex but can't figure out how to open it.
- The initial attack by the barbarians killed several members, forcing one of the Dragonborn to be field promoted. Another officer lies dying and has been poisoned by a Tigerclaw weapon. The poison prevents them from magically healing him, and his wounds are getting worse.
- The Tigerclaw tribe are attacking for two reasons: The ruins are considered sacred ground and the Dragonborn have captured one of their tribe and are holding her hostage.
- The Dragonborn believe the hostage, a young shifter woman, is the key to opening the door. They plan on forcing her to cooperate, one way or another.
- The shifter girl was to be a vassal of the white dragon Bitterstrike. If the tribe cannot deliver her within X time limit, the dragon will come after the tribe. And, if the tribe can convince Bitterstrike the Dragonborn is the enemy, possibly after the girl.
- The Dragonborn are outnumbered. They are growing increasingly desperate.
- A plant called Blueroot is in the hills near the tribe's camp. It can cure the poison which ails the Dragonborn officer who is dying.
- Unbeknownst to both sides, something powerful and hungry waits on the other side of the stone door.

And here is the real trick to the whole scenario: Neither side is the bad guys. Both have clear goals, believe they are right, and are doing what they believe is best.

Enter the heroes.



This is really cool.  Will it be evident to the players pretty early on in the encounter what type of poison is afflicting the dragonborn?

It depends if that is what the players concentrate on. If they don't investigate (heal, nature checks, asking questions, etc.) then the Dragonborn passes away on the second day. I may even offer an idea that he knows whats on the other side of the stone door (through the other Dragonborn).

If they go to seek out the root, they will either have to fight or sneak. If they are caught, I can always have the tribe (with superior numbers) instead tell the PCs their side of the story. And of course, in their version, they are the victims.

There are a couple of PC elements I'm sure will come up. One of the PCs is a Dragonborn Invoker, one who is obsessed with Arkhosia. Her player likely will immediately assume the Dragonborn are the good guys and will want to help them recover the artifact. Another PC is a Tiefling, who will increasingly be looked at with suspicion by the Dragonborn soldiers. He also has the background of Seducer (and he is a barn) so the young woman being held hostage will immediately be seen as a damsal in distress. Anything he does to help her provokes more suspicion or even hostility from the Dragonborn.


@nerraDetroK, this is a cool idea as well.  As for alternate goals, what is the non-alternate goal?  How do the PCs come across this combat encounter and what's at stake for them, if it's anything other than live to see the next location?  

One possibility that jumps out to me right away is that this room could be some sort of space/time travel device that they've stumbled into that operates on some kind of linear path.  By seizing the controls within X number of rounds, the PCs can closer to their original destination, whereas if it takes them longer than X rounds, they'll end up spit out as some truly alien location that will make getting the PCs back on track an ordeal.  
I've heard that some forum trolls were recently burned with fire, so I'm sticking my big toe in the water to see about rejoining the discussions here. This seems like a good place to start!

I'm currently building a paragon-level (11th-level PCs) adventure location, a cube within a cube that I'm calling Tesseract. It takes place on a cube in the warring plane of Acheron. Three rogue armies are vying for control of the heart of the massive cube of Wreychtmirk where the River Styx flows on all six sides and leads to the Lower Planes... a prime piece of real estate for the Blood War. Control this cube and you're a major player. Enter the PCs.

Many aspects of the game will be governed with d6 dice gimmicks - where the adventure starts, how hard the encounters are, map changes, events, etc. So below is a result of "1" when the PCs are arriving on the cube of Wreychtmirk for the first time. This particular side features the River Styx flowing into The Abyss and so it has taken on some of the characteristics of Zrintor, The Viper Forest (45th layer).

I welcome comment and offer it freely for your own use if you like: Tesseract - The Abyssal Side.

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!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

@Iserith-  Welcome back Mr. Kotter! I for one would love to see how this Tesseract plays out.

@RednBlack-
I was thinking that the PC's goal is to get to a specific point, grab an artifact, and complete a ritual 3 rounds later. There are enemies wanting to get the artifact as well.

I'd put this macguffin on one side of the cube, and each time skill check for the ritual is successfully completed, macguffin disappears and shows up on a different section.   First side to get 3 successes, "wins" the encounter, but it needs to be 3 successes in a row as one side's success cancels the other out.  I figure a near endless wave of baddies will work, or at least a new Standard each time the PC's get a success, and each time they defeat an enemy.  

I think I'll have  players roll a d6 at the start of each of their turns to figure out which face they end up on, so we're not all on the same small map at a time.

The actual macguffin will likely be a piece of crystal, holding the Daelkyr, Rak Tulkhesh, imprisoned.  enemies want the crystal as the morethey obtain, the more likely it is that he will be freed.  PC's won't know it yet, just that they need to keep that crystal away from the enemies.
If the PC's lose, then failure is now knowing that someone wants to bring The Rage of War back to Eberron, and they have the means to do it.
If the PC's succeed, they may not know what the enemies wanted the crystal for, it may take some time to figure that out.

If the players are further interested, then I was going to revise Revenge of the Giants significantly to replace Piranoth the Primordial with Rak Tulkhesh.
 
This weekend my 4E group is turning its attention to a new story arc. They are traveling to the Lake Nen region in the Nentir Vale (we are using and love the points of light campaign setting) to find information on a dragon's lair in the Feywild. They've basically said they are riding directly to the town of Nenlast, unless something interesting catches their eye along the way (ie "DM, toss us something interesting along the way").

The setup is simple: The party comes across a fight already in progress. Among snow-covered ruins and rocky terrain, a group of Dragonborn (low-level members of Dythan's Legion) are fending off an attack by the Tiger Claw Barbarian tribe (both groups in the Threats to the Nentir Vale book). The party can watch the fight play out to a stalemate, can jump in and help either side, doesn't matter to me.

Story hooks
- The Dragonborn are searching the ruins for an artifact of Arkhosia. They have found a large stone door leading to an underground complex but can't figure out how to open it.
- The initial attack by the barbarians killed several members, forcing one of the Dragonborn to be field promoted. Another officer lies dying and has been poisoned by a Tigerclaw weapon. The poison prevents them from magically healing him, and his wounds are getting worse.
- The Tigerclaw tribe are attacking for two reasons: The ruins are considered sacred ground and the Dragonborn have captured one of their tribe and are holding her hostage.
- The Dragonborn believe the hostage, a young shifter woman, is the key to opening the door. They plan on forcing her to cooperate, one way or another.
- The shifter girl was to be a vassal of the white dragon Bitterstrike. If the tribe cannot deliver her within X time limit, the dragon will come after the tribe. And, if the tribe can convince Bitterstrike the Dragonborn is the enemy, possibly after the girl.
- The Dragonborn are outnumbered. They are growing increasingly desperate.
- A plant called Blueroot is in the hills near the tribe's camp. It can cure the poison which ails the Dragonborn officer who is dying.
- Unbeknownst to both sides, something powerful and hungry waits on the other side of the stone door.

And here is the real trick to the whole scenario: Neither side is the bad guys. Both have clear goals, believe they are right, and are doing what they believe is best.

Enter the heroes.




Im planning on introducing both Bitterstrike, Dythan's Legion and Tiger Claw clan into the campaign (quite the coincidence). do you mind if i borrow (steal) this encounter?
Oh absolutely, Zez. That's why I posted it

My session got cancelled for this weekend, but once we do play I will let everyone know how it went.


Edit: Autocorrect caused me to call Zez Zeke. Sorry bout that.


Edit: Autocorrect caused me to call Zez Zeke. Sorry bout that.




you monster...


Edit: Autocorrect caused me to call Zez Zeke. Sorry bout that.




you monster...




Well, now you can't use my scenario! Tongue Out
@Iserith, welcome back.  It's good to "see" you again.  Also, thanks for posting; I like what you've come up with there.


@nerraDetroK, that sounds like an interesting win/loss scenario.  I don't know that I have anything to add other than, imo the PCs need to find out what was at stake as soon after the encounter as possible.
@nerraDetroK, & rednblack: Thanks for the welcome.

Here's another encounter I wrote up recently for a friend's Western-themed campaign set in Eberron. I posted this in the epic tier combat thread already but thought I might put it here for comment: Dinosaur Rampage!

It has both collaborative storytelling elements built in, my new skill challenge format, and alternate victory conditions for both monsters and PCs. It's for 16th-level PCs. I welcome input.

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!

FREE CONTENT: Encounters With Alternate Goals | Full-Contact Futbol  |  Pre-Gen D&D 5e PCs | Re-Imagining Phandelver | Three Pillars of Immersion | Seahorse Run

Follow me on Twitter: @is3rith

Just got to use this one again in the play-by-post games.

So after the nasty encounter with 3 elite controllers, 5 lvl-1 soldiers, and a bunch of minions (this is a tough, penultimate fight of the adventure), when looting the bodies, there is a magic pouch--bag of holding--that is moving.

Remember that Bag-of-Rats abuse tactic? Well, now it is a TRAP. Bag of holding filled with Rat Swarms. When openned, it is a close burst 1, each unoccupied square is filled with a Rat Swarm.

This is not a challenging encounter for the party unless they failed to take an extended rest before opening the sack.
First party I ran with this didn't even let me finish the sentence. "You find implements, mundane sickles, coin pouches, a magic bag--" "I open the bag." No encounter powers, no second wind, no healing... I did take pity and limit it to 3 swarms because I didn't want to kill the party.
Second party was play-by-post, and they specifically did rest and heal and recover from the tough fight, so this time round it is just a joke-fight, but one I will take seriously.

Caravan Guard Duty:
OK, the party was assigned to escourt the caravan in exchange for major incentives (would take to long to explain). So, the caravan is very long--it is going to build an entire new settlement: Over 100 wagons. So, the caravan is going to be attacked several times. Does the party want to spread out to cover more of the caravan, or cluster to concentrate in one area? Or some other plan?
If they concentrate, the goblin raiders will have 1d6 rounds of looting/sabotage before the players arrive. If they spread out, one player (random roll) is at the scene for round one, and one player(or pair) arrives each round after. The goblins will fight when attacked, but any goblin not in melee will be trying to rob supplies from the carts or cause damage instead of focussing on the characters. So theses are pretty easy fights, but each round a goblin is able to cause damage to the caravan slows it down or risks the success of the caravan in the first place. Skill rolls can help the caravan recover in between attacks. How much damage do the goblins do to the caravan each round? Roll a d6--that's how many hours delay the attack causes. Or maybe something else. It isn't just a combat about killing, and it isn't a pure skill challenge, but somewhere in the middle, and allows the players' choices to directly affect the outcome.
I've finally started to write my own custom encounters, so I'd like to post another one that I've made up.

Gargoyles: Guardians of Time - Set in Undermountain (Forgotten Realms)



  • Once all the players have entered the room, the grate above the entryway slams down and seals them in. 

  • In order to escape the players have to trigger the trap under the chest in the centre of the room and solve the riddle. 


Features:


  • In each corner of the room is a gargoyle (level 9 lurker)

  • The room contains bubbles that eminate a five foot radius of light(so 10 foot total)

  • if the players touch the bubbles, they burst. If the sand from the trap begins to fall, the bubbles start to burst as well (so gradually the room becomes darker

  • The phrase in the air however, continues to glow

  • The centre of the room around the chest looks like a giant clock face


Encounter 1
Trigger the trap by trying to open the chest (or tampering with it in any way). Once triggered, sand begins to slowly fall from the ceiling. A disembodied female voice reads the words aloud as they appear in the air.
"One by one we fall from heaven down into the depths of past. And our world is ever upturned so that yet some time we'll last."

Answer: an hourglass
With the riddle solved the chest opens, the sand stops falling and the grate opens.
Loot: The Deluvian Hourglass modified ot look like a pendant

Encounter 2 (1600XP, 400XP per gargoyle) 

Creatures:


  • 4 gargoyles

  • the gargoyles are triggered to attack if creatures move within an adjacent square, or they are attacked


DC 10 Perception - hey...gargoyles...bad mojo
DC 20 Arcana or Nature - triggered to attack if adjacent square is occupied
DC 15 Arcana - magical trap over chest
DC 10 Insight - H is messing with them and triggering the trap is proabably the only way out...
I'm personally a fan of making puzzle encounters. Regular encounters are fine, but those boss fights in video games that make you think and can't be beaten just by smacking them till their HP drops to zero are interesting.

My last puzzle encounter for a one-shot(as I'm still new, yes, it was incredibly railroaded, though I let them know ahead of time and they were alright with it), I had the party enter a room with (# of party members) giant mirrors, each with a reflection of someone in the party. After a second, the reflections stepped out of the mirrors and assumed battle stances at the party. The magically attuned characters(this was an epic level one-shot by the way) could sense a magical link between each reflection and the PC it was copied from. If a Paradox character was struck by someone who it wasn't copied from, it would negate any damage done to it, and instead deal half damage to whoever it was copied from. They could any at-will the PC has, and their lowest level encounter power(for fun, I had the players roll for their own copy's attack and damage rolls) and dealt half normal damage. Each Paradox character had the same defenses as the PCs, but were essentially minions.

At the start of the second round, a Phane Wraith appeared in one of the mirrors, and with a wave of his hand, immediatly reformed any Paradox characters that were destroyed. The goal was for the PCs to attack the Wratih, which would shatter the mirror and permanently destroy the Paradox character it made. This would then cycle until all the mirrors were destroyed, at which point the wratih hopped out and fought them properly. They seemed to like it from the feedback I got.