View Full Version : Terrain and challenges.

2008-11-19, 11:52 AM
Hi, I`m DM`ng a 3.5 group and I thought I would start making more interesting game for them. I realized after looking on my old footage, that our adventerous were mainly composed of fights and donīt get me wrong, fighting is the main part of D&D of course, but there isin`t that much else then roleplaying and fighting. So I thought, would someone have a good idea for an extra skill or ability usage that could be turned even into a plot device, such as a river without a bridge or jumping trought a rock to rock in a deep cavern?

2008-11-19, 12:33 PM
Well, any of your generic setting books (Frostburn, Stormwrack, etc.) have decent advice for terrain/atmospheric obstacles. These can be tricky, though, because often times its pretty static.

DM: You're in a snowstorm and can't find your way. Roll survival.
Ranger: 32.
DM: Okay, the ranger leads you all out of the storm to your destination.

Great fun, right?

There are better ways of doing these things, of course, but what can really spice things up is adding these elements to a combat scenario. Fighting on a rickety suspension bridge, over a frozen lake, or on a narrow mountain cliff prone to rockslides can introduce memorable encounter modifiers.

Then again, YMMV.

Meat Shield
2008-11-19, 01:14 PM
Encourage the use of terrain and such by your PCs, and use it against them.

Fighting in a narrow canyon - you can't be flanked, but people above you get bonuses on missile fire. Give circumstance penalties for fighting on loose shifting ground. Rain could drop missile ranges to half. Fight in a sandstorm. Use natural barricades - boulders, fallen trees, etc.

Remember, the terrain in neutral - the same bonuses apply to both sides. Wing it, adjust hit rolls or AC up or down one or two as you judge appropriate, and do the same for both sides. Your PCs will learn and start looking for ways to use terrain to their advantage.

2008-11-19, 01:33 PM
Man vs. Nature actually can work well as a theme for an adventure.

For example, have your latest Treasure Horde be located in a ruined temple deep in the Avocado Jungle of Death (reference! :smalltongue:), and inform your PCs that said Jungle is dangerous not only because of the fearsome beasts and savage tribes, but also because of various natural hazards.

First off, expose your party to disease-bearing mosquitoes. Depending on your edition, anyone who catches the diseases may only be cured by a herbal concoction found in the Jungle. It's not a fatal disease, but it will weaken the character. Next, have the PCs have to cross a river, but have the river be particularly dangerous (piranha swarm or vicious tribe at their back), so that crossing the river is not just skill based.

I guess in summary:
(1) Use more terrain in combat. If you're playing 4E, this is natural. If you're in pre-4E you'll have to work a little harder to make this awesome.

(2) Use more combat in terrain. Have the terrain be difficult to overcome, but add an element of danger from savage animals or pursuing foes.

(3) Any skill challenge must be heavily narrated. Don't just use one roll, and be sure to narrate what happens with every success or failure. If the PCs have to keep making decisions, they'll have more fun with it. Um, 4E skill challenges model this pretty well, so if you're not playing 4E, you can adopt their suggestions, I guess.

2008-11-19, 01:49 PM
Terrain works best in conjunction with other things.

For example, a Chasm, boring.
A Chasm in a Blizzard, better...
A Chasm in a Blizzard with abunch of Mastadon riding ice orcs bearing down upon the party, even better.
A Chasm in a Blizzard with abunch of Mastadon riding ice orcs bearing down upon the party who happen to be riding a Mastadon of their own, NOW were talking.