Need Help Designing an Encounter Area for Worg Riding Werewolves

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Are they static slugfests because of good control on the part of the PCs (defenders or controllers)? If so, you'd need to incentivize them in some way to not do that. Perhaps the werewolves' regeneration doubles when they are slowed, prone, immobilized, or restrained. Make sure the players are aware of that.

Give us an idea of why your encounters seem to be that way and it will make it easier to come up with some suggestions. 

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My PCs are about to encounter a group of werewolves riding battle worgs (PC Lvl: 19, Enc Lvl 22).  As skirmishers they have good movement and move-related abilities.  My problem is, my encounters always seem to degenerate into static slugfests with nobody ever moving about. 

This encounter is led by a villain the PCs have been chasing for a few weeks and I want it to be memorable.  Therefore, I am beseeching the awesome community here to help me design a cool encounter area in which to unleash (pun intended, lol) my werewolves....

First of all, "unleash" is not a pun, that's just what the word means ;)

Second of all, maybe there could be enviromental hazards that force everybody to move around? If the fight is in a (volcanic magic geyser-field thing?) that the worgs know better than do most of their enemies, maybe you could add some kind of Knowledge check to tell when something bad is about to happen?

Good roll: If the PC moves or forces the worg to move, then the worg takes full damage; otheriwse it takes half damage. Possibly because the PC got out of the way in time and/or maneuvered the worg directly into a space that was about to explode? (The DM/players didn't know that the space under the worg would explode, but the dice say that the character did)

Middling roll: The PC realizes that a space near both him and the worg will explode in the next round and has to decide whether to move (neither PC nor worg takes damage) or not (both PC and worg take half damage).

Bad roll: The PC takes full damage. Possibly because the worg maneuvered him directly on to a space that was about to explode? (The DM/players didn't know that the space under the PC would explode, but the dice say that the worg did)

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If some people are heavily benefiting from the inclusion of alignment, then it would behoove those that AREN'T to listen up and pay attention to how those benefits are being created and enjoyed, no? -YagamiFire
But equally important would be for those who do enjoy those benefits to entertain the possibility that other people do not value those benefits equally or, possibly, do not see them as benefits in the first place. -wrecan (RIP)
That makes sense. However, it is not fair to continually attack those that benefit for being, somehow, deviant for deriving enjoyment from something that you cannot. Instead, alignment is continually attacked...it is demonized...and those that use it are lumped in with it.

 

I think there is more merit in a situation where someone says "This doesn't work! It's broken!" and the reply is "Actually it works fine for me. Have you considered your approach might be causing it?"

 

than a situation where someone says "I use this system and the way I use it works really well!" and the back and forth is "No! It is a broken bad system!" -YagamiFire

I like adding teleportation elements, like portals or fairy rings, to the field. When the villains start teleporting half of their riders in behind the heroes, it gives the players an indication of how those areas are used, and hopefully they begin using them as well. It can make for a dynamic, chaotic battlefield.
My PCs are about to encounter a group of werewolves riding battle worgs (PC Lvl: 19, Enc Lvl 22).  As skirmishers they have good movement and move-related abilities.  My problem is, my encounters always seem to degenerate into static slugfests with nobody ever moving about.

I've been playing a lot of Kingdom Rush, which actually features warg riders on certain stages. Kingdom Rush is a tower defense game, which means, yes, you have to kill everything, but they don't have to kill you. All they have to do is get past you. So, give these werewolves the goal of just getting past the PCs. Make the path a circuitous one, perhaps one that the PCs can cut across, but make it so that the players lose if too many werewolves get past them. I can almost guarantee you that they'll move.

But talk to the players before trying something like this. They might not have a problem with static slugfests.

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

Wolves move about in packs - stick and move, stick and move. Knowing the PCs are after him, the main bad guy could lead them on a series of mini-ambushes where the wolves just attack but don't stick around for long. The bad guy might make an appearance a few hills over, or atop a cliff to say a few choice words - enough to get the players hungry to shut him up.

Other ways to get them moving might be to have the party meet the enemy on a wooden bridge, in the rain. As they begin to get closer, the bridge breaks apart, with the party on one piece of the bridge and the enemy on another. Occasionally a werewolf will try to make the leap. The enemy might take a few pot shots. All the while the rafts are being banged around. It's hard to stand. They might pass under a low under pass, branches and other troubles. A snake appears. Hornets in the trees they pass under, ants, maybe a mudslide. A house full of orphans that need saving. Make the enemy interesting by having him try to rescue the babies. Make him despicable by using the orphan babies as werewolf food and bait.

It might be interesting if they call a truce to rescue the orphans and then go right back at their typical turn-based hack and slash.

Story first, mechanics second.
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If you're dealing with a level 19 party then you want a fantastic environment to make the encounter work. A breaking bridge is suitable for heroic tier but is too mundane for (and probably easily bypassed by) upper paragon PCs.

In addition to the encounter area, the werewolves and worgs need to be upgraded accordingly. Just making them tougher/faster versions of the default level 6-ish ones isn't enough; they need to have extraordinary abilities that fit the nature of an upper paragon game, and these could very well be mobility-based.

Primal-themed abilities are the most appropriate here, and could well involve burrowing movement (themed to be diving into the ground and erupting elsewhere rather than actually tunneling), storm-based abilities (a connection made in various adventures) that evoke movement (both for the creatures and the PCs), or even the ability for the worgs to run on air (at least some of the time), turning them into a flying threat. This works best if the werewolves also have ranged attacks, of course - employing nothing but melee adversaries makes it very likely that things will bog down because there's no reason for anyone TO move around.

Other elements of the environment might also become quasi-animate as a result of this primal evocation, providing terrain effects that encourage movement.



(Mind you, it would help to know who the villain is and why he has such powerful werewolves doing his dirty work - especially if there's the prospect of complicating things beyond them being his eager red shirts.)
First of all, thanks everyone for the ideas!

Are they static slugfests because of good control on the part of the PCs (defenders or controllers)? If so, you'd need to incentivize them in some way to not do that. Perhaps the werewolves' regeneration doubles when they are slowed, prone, immobilized, or restrained. Make sure the players are aware of that.

Give us an idea of why your encounters seem to be that way and it will make it easier to come up with some suggestions. 



No, the defender suffers through a running table joke that he forgets all too often to mark his targets; he is not the issue.  He and the barbarian will run up and engage and then typically just stand there until bad guys are dead.  I have non intelligent creatures attack the most-damage-done-PC each round.  Intelligent creatures may break a mark if it's there, depending.  My rogue will move around some (he's getting much better), while my ranged guys (sorcerer & ranger) just stand in back and never move until line of sight is an issue.

I just seem to remember reading when 4E first came out about numbered encounter areas were typically a suite of rooms rather than just one because of all the movement in this edition.    
 

...snip... (Mind you, it would help to know who the villain is and why he has such powerful werewolves doing his dirty work - especially if there's the prospect of complicating things beyond them being his eager red shirts.)



The Leader is a guy who works for the same organization as the PCs (although a different branch, they've never met).  He recently stole a great deal of money for his new boss who is constructing a doomsday golem capable of smashing entire towns to bits.  The werewolves are his bodyguards and have been promised a great deal of loot and the probable furtherance of a cause near and dear to them (Eberron campaign: mortal blow to the Church of the Silver Flame).
I just seem to remember reading when 4E first came out about numbered encounter areas were typically a suite of rooms rather than just one because of all the movement in this edition.

That may have been their intention, but there's rarely much incentive to move.

Talk with your players. Make sure you all want a more mobile battlefield. You say you arbitrarily determine that some creatures won't provoke and some will. DMs sometimes do this so that defenders get a mix of preemptive defense and retributive defense. But preemptive defense, as you may have noticed, means that the enemies don't go anywhere. Some players like that, but maybe yours are open to move movement.

If they are, then you will probably have to be the one to move. Don't expect them to do it. Give your monsters a reason to move, some target location on the battlefield that they (even the "mindless" ones") have a mission to reach. Think of their hit points as tiny tickets that allow them to move where they want, as long as they can pay the tickets.

Move your creatures and the characters will follow.

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

while my ranged guys (sorcerer & ranger) just stand in back and never move until line of sight is an issue.

Lurkers were pretty much made for this situation. Have a couple enemies pop up in their face and they'll start to move.

Or you can move them. Give enemies attacks that pull, push or slide, or make terrain that does the same. Create little mobile spots that give bonuses to attacks or defenses but move around periodically. Have enemies put up walls of darkness/thorns/ice/puppy skulls that block line of sight. They will move if you make it necessary to do so.
I've found that when the PCs get clumped up in one area, it is usually something I can fix and is often my own fault. At the very least, everyone should be shifting around each round to get and lose combat advantage through flanking. To get more movement than that, which manifests as localized swirling, throw in a few zones the players don't particularly want to ignore. Zones that move with a melee controller are interesting, but a ranged zone that stays put gives players a reason to break away from their current area. The key is, it has to be easier to move out of the area and let the melee monsters follow them than it is to put down the monster making the zone. You can only use an Elite Controller so many times, so you'll need multiple solutions.



  • Fantastic terrain that gives the person standing in Square X a bonus, combined with a cultist with a Melee 3 Flame Whip can be used to great effect.

  • If you can maneuver a powerful monster behind your ranged strikers/controllers in a large room and get them to move away to prevent injury, you can trick them into being cornered on the far end of the room when that same creature charges them to get them alone. Works best if the creature has a way to prevent too many opportunity attacks on the charge. Did it recently with a Zombie Ogre (or whatever) from Monster Vault.

  • Pit a strong creature with a vulnerability the party has limited access to, combined with elemental fonts that let a player grant their attacks that damage type, but only to one creature at a time. This works less well at higher tiers, when players can inflict vulnerabilities and nullify resistances.

  • A variation on the last one: A creature you wouldn't associate with Element X has access to that damage type through Elemental Statues or somesuch nonsense. In addition, their leader can inflict vulnerability to that element. The Statues CAN be destroyed, but they are tough (Resist 5/10/15 All and moderate HP). An easier solution is that a PC can get up next to one and move it off its ley line with a Moderate Strength check or disable it by pressing the correct rune with a Moderate Arcana check. Each disabled statue removes the element from one creature. Pick something interesting, like Vampires that have taken over a church and have figured out how to give their attacks Radiant damage. Meanwhile, the Vampire Lord can extend his own vulnerability to radiant to anyone he wishes and make the inflicted vulnerability significant enough that the players won't want to ignore it.

  • Hit-and-run skirmishers who can do massive damage if they have combat advantage are a surefire way to get at least small-scale movement in any tier. Use lots of skirmishers. I also echo the sentiment regarding lurkers attacking the ranged characters. Always remember to punish the characters with flanking whenever possible. Skirmishers may not live long, so get that combat advantage every round you can. Any skirmisher that can perform strafing attacks (attack any single creature along their movement path; don't provoke opportunity attacks) works beautifully.

  • Place a powerful ranged monster on a raised platform, behind superior cover. Make sure obviating it isn't a simple athletics check away. Have it pummel the whole party with ranged attacks that only target enemies. Your players WILL move to obliterate it, which can create a nice moving encounter. Ignore your instinct to create choke points on the path to the ranged monster, as this will only create the type of bog-downs you're already seeing. Just make the path long enough that they can't get there in one round, but not so long they would rather sit in one place and ignore it.

  • Give someone a Badge of the Berserker. Won't work for all parties, but my Cleric now charges all over the battlefield, using the movement to simultaneously punish a monster and gain line of sight to someone that requires healing.

  • Terrain, terrain, terrain. Use blocking terrain, like closely grouped pillars, that makes it hard to catch groups of enemies in blasts without careful positioning. Invite the players into the maze by using monsters that can shift, attack at range, then shift back into cover. Kobolds work at low levels, but I'm sure there are monsters that fit the bill at higher levels too.

  • Pincer attack. Group a creature with area effect abilities with a few soldiers or brutes and have two groups of them. The players will have to either run to one, kill it, then run to the other, or split up to take down both ranged blasters.

  • Finally, any time there is a choice between a creature obeying a mark or ignoring it in favor of an advantageous move or creating a dynamic situation, ignore the mark. It sounds like this one isn't much of an issue for you though.


Many of my solutions involve powerful ranged creatures. Terrain is something I'm trying to use more of, as it is also very helpful to keep things dynamic. Skill challenges with or without alternate win goals also help a great deal, as Iserith and Centauri often point out.

EDIT: To directly address the werewolf encounter, I would go with the hit-and-run skirmishers. Make the worgs mounts and give them an ability that lets them shift their speed and grants the rider a single melee basic attack to a single creature along their movement path. If you want to keep it simple, make it a single creature ("Werewolf Knights" or something) and give that power to the creature. This works fine if you don't mind the mount and werewolf dying at the same time or using the fiction that the worg runs off when the werewolf dies. Alternatively, when the Werewolf Knight dies, it "spawns" a worg in its square that has even MORE mobility, but is weaker.

You can also make fantastic terrain called "Primal Fonts" or something that increases the regeneration of any creature that stands on it, provided they already have regeneration. Have the werewolves break away from combat and double move to these locations when they get bloodied. Perhaps have a couple small groups of the Primal Fonts, quite some distance away from one another, so the battle doesn't just end up on top of the fonts and stay there. This could get frustrating if you misuse it though, so be careful with the placement and the power of the regeneration.
Lots of excellent suggestions here, several of which I will use in my Epic campaign as it winds down and they begin their descent into the Abyss to fight the BBEG.  Thank you, everyone!

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There's actually something else to consider: do they really need to be riding worgs?

Worgs are okay in heroic tier but they're pretty much the same as a horse or other mundane mount when you get right down to it, and thus don't do much to address the mobility issues that occur when you're dealing with upper paragon.

Sure, wolf-like mounts may be thematically suited to werewolves, but there's no reason why would feel compelled to ONLY use wolf-like mounts/pets/cannon-fodder, especially when those aren't going to be terribly helpful in the circumstances.

Giving them something like giant mantis mounts (which can spring enormous distances without OAs) vastly improves mobility in a thematic (and 3D) fashion without the hassles of dealing with full flight, but by upper paragon, actual flying enemies (and thus flying mounts) are very much on the table too.
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