What's the most tactically engaging combat you've ever run?


Pathfinder First Edition General Discussion


Thread title says it all. Mine's a doozy, so I'll let y'all go first.


Thelemic_Noun wrote:
Thread title says it all. Mine's a doozy, so I'll let y'all go first.

My friends get together and play warhammer 40k every other tuesday


Several years back we had two groups playing at the local hobby store (Comic Emporium in Panama City, Florida) and both of us who were DMs happened to be running adventures around Keoland. At one point, it happened that both groups (about 7 players in each) were in the Dreadwood Forest at the same time. So we decided to come up with something to involve both.

I built a palisade at home out of cardboard, painted it up, and brought it to the hobby store. It was 4' X 4' with a few buildings inside, steps up to the ramparts, and corner towers.

We had the two parties arrive at the fort on the same night of play, just as a large humanoid force was preparing to attack it. The groups had different reasons for being there and though each had seen signs of large humanoid groups in the area, neither was aware they were going to combine into one large party to help the residents of the fort fight a battle.

We took them to the back room where the fort was set up and let them fight a full scale battle against several hundred orcs, goblins, and ogres. Casters got to expend every AoE they had on large groups of monsters, melee fighters got to take on the ogres, and the healers had to try to keep both parties plus the npc's alive. They had a great time.


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Kantrip wrote:

Several years back we had two groups playing at the local hobby store (Comic Emporium in Panama City, Florida) and both of us who were DMs happened to be running adventures around Keoland. At one point, it happened that both groups (about 7 players in each) were in the Dreadwood Forest at the same time. So we decided to come up with something to involve both.

I built a palisade at home out of cardboard, painted it up, and brought it to the hobby store. It was 4' X 4' with a few buildings inside, steps up to the ramparts, and corner towers.

We had the two parties arrive at the fort on the same night of play, just as a large humanoid force was preparing to attack it. The groups had different reasons for being there and though each had seen signs of large humanoid groups in the area, neither was aware they were going to combine into one large party to help the residents of the fort fight a battle.

We took them to the back room where the fort was set up and let them fight a full scale battle against several hundred orcs, goblins, and ogres. Casters got to expend every AoE they had on large groups of monsters, melee fighters got to take on the ogres, and the healers had to try to keep both parties plus the npc's alive. They had a great time.

I just came.


+1 to above, lol....
That sounds frikkin sweet.
The last really interesting battle i ran was in my homebrew post-Curse of the Crimson Throne adventure, where the PC's at one point faced off against Runelord Sorshen...
Both Sorshen and the party had very good information on each other, and the fight was really back and forth both in tactics and rolls, very exciting.
The PC's were all level 20, but the Runelord was statted to be difficult...
The first quite a few rounds were almost a stalemate, with both sides managing to hold strong whilst throwing around crazy powerful 9th level spells all over the place.. very epic.
They managed to beat her in the end, but it was very close, tense, and full of amazing displays of power.

Silver Crusade

Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Eberron I created a vertical chute populated with steam, fire and magma mephits. 6th level party without access to a lot of flying magic. Martial PCs tied themselves to flying players and lowered into the tunnel first. Tense moments as Magma mephitis targeted ropes and crowning moments of win as fighters and rangers swung around like wrecking balls.


There's a few that pop into my mind. There's a really memorable fight with an invisible, flying Ogre Mage who was "grappled" by a spiked chain fighter's chain and half the party was hanging onto the spiked chain flying around trying not to fall off.

There was a series of planned encounters that constituted a small battle (using Heroes of Battle rules) one involved four knights in full plate who had Bastard swords and vital strike plus one stone golem in a cramped chapel to Iocus (homebrew world). At one point the archer was thrown out a stained glass window and locked out. Immediately after that was a fight against A human Sor/Bbn/Dragon Disciple with Lunge and a keen Fauchard. Outright killed two players and was chased off (<10% health) by someone near death only to be taken out by a company of archers with 3 lucky nat 20s the round before he could recast Prot Arrows. It was a pretty epic combat.


I was running a certain AP, but I looked at the boss and did not like the build so I switched it out for a Warlord from The Tome of Secrets(3rd party book).

The opening into the fighting area was narrow. Before I get to that though I had an alarm spell on both sides of the door. The one on the side of the door outside the room was a silent alarm that only the caster could hear. The one on the side of the room the baddies was on was an audible alarm. They set the silent one off first. He order two zombies to stand by the door and attack anyone who comes that way. He takes cover behind a statue. He has to low level clerics. Their job is to keep the zombies up and running. The players set off both alarms. By the time they pick the lock(PC was having bad dice day) the bad guys were set up. Once they set the audible alarm off it alerted all the remaining bad guys(archers) to come to the balcony. I rolled 2d3 to see how long it would take them to get there. The party rogue and the barbarian were up front. I was rolling crappy with my zombies, but so were the players. The cleric were taking pot shots with crossbows, and the BBEG was taking shots with his bow. Eventually the zombies started hitting, but so did the players. Well every time a zombie was about to drop both clerics channeled energy to give them hp back. Eventually one of the players critted a zombie and dropped it. Once they got inside they had to deal with the archers who had gotten there just in time. Some of the party members decided to go after the clerics who were buffed by this time in melee. Well this BBEG had the ability to give out extra hp also so every time a cleric was about to drop he would heal the clerics. Well one player decided to go after the BBEG, alone. He got his butt handed to him. The PC cleric decides to heal him, so the BBEG orders the archer to take out the meddling cleric. He also 5 foot steps his way to the cleric with nobody thinking to form a barrier even after I announced my intentions to deal with him personally. The archer's weakened the cleric up, and the BBEG put him down(but not dead). The next target was the party arcanist who was taking the archers out, and had taken care of the clerics IIRC. Well the 5 foot tango began again, but towards the sorcerer this time. The BBEG was pretty beat up when the sorcerer turned around and tagged him with buring hands, almost rolling max damage. 1 less hp and that sorcerer would have been toast unless I rolled a nat 1.

Dark Archive

I ran an adventure based on a Forgotten Realms book - The Threat from the Sea Trilogy - Book Three.

The Sharksbane Wall is a 135-mile-long barrier protecting Serôs. The wall stretches between the Akanapeaks of northernmost Chessenta and southwestern most Altumbel, southwest of Delthuntle. The wall effectively imprisoned the sahuagin in the southeastern arm of the Inner Sea. Over the nine centuries since it was built, sea devils west of the Wall were ruthlessly hunted down and exterminated. The BBEG was their savoir and was going to free them. The battle took place along a long section of the wall that a BBEG destroyed.

- It was an underwater battle. Used were 2 large and long folding tables, many battle mats, painted stryrofoam blocks (represent coral and reefs) of different sizes and shapes (some glued together for variant height). Also clear battle stands and hundreds of mini's all along the wall, and the "sea floor"

EVIl guys -

Sekolah The Great Shark The Joyful Hunter The Caller from the Depths ... Had her Megalodon Demon/fiendish shark champion + tons of sahuagin and regular sharks

PC's -

5 PC's with aquatic elves allies and the Great Whale bard + many cohort whales.

Using underwater rules and magic was interesting as the PC were not mainly adventuring underwater so they did not have all the "ideal items" for underwater.


When I was the DM I held a session where the main human city of Drombidus was under attack to the North and the South by Drow and Duergar respectively. The king took personal command of the military and headed North to protect the city but needed almost every man up there to kill the drow. As for the duergar?

He trusted the player characters a great deal by this point, and gave them command of ten of his conscripts. The PC's led this micro army down towards the caves from whence the duergar came.

The PC's were around level three and included:

An Elven Rogue
A human Sorcerer
A human Ranger

The NPC's were 10 basic level one warriors

As the DM I had a character who was a human wizard

The duergar were basically torn straight from the monster manual as was, but there were around fifteen of them.

They also had two mysterious reptilian beasts assisting them, counted as deinonychus.

It was a low level and all, so I'm not going to say it was the most epic battle in history but it wasn't shabby. Battle was joined between the conscripts and the duergar while the rogue took all the sneaks he could, the ranger missed all the shots he could and the casters nuked away. The deinonychuses were absolute beasts at this level, tearing guys open left and right.

Because of a lack of models, everything was represented randomly. One conscript (named captain bugbear for his mini) stood out.

The ranger kept barking orders at the conscripts, who were bitter at the thought of fighting and dying for people who weren't their commanders. Eventually, captain bugbear grew VERY pissed when the ranger asked him to set up a flank. He turned around and charged the ranger.

He attacked and screamed "My heart is true and my bug is bear!!!"

The player reaction was a bit peculiar.

No one really liked the ranger (as a character or ooc as a person) so they cheered for bugbear. They loved him.

Battle continued to wage forth, and while the fight was fun, the pc's seldom were in actual danger because of all the meat shielding. Sadly, the ranger slew bugbear.

After the battle, he decapitated and eviscerated the corpse to minimize the chance of him being risen by a cleric.

People were mad.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook Subscriber

I'm not sure it qualifies as the most tactical battle, but one that my players have told me was most memorable was during a homebrew one-shot adventure I ran where they had to invade the city of Sarkoris in the Worldwound and recover an artifact. They were around 10th level at the time and trying to cross a heavily demon and water elemental patrolled river. The figured out they had just enough air in a bag of holding to hide inside while the druid carried them across.

So, they climbed inside 2 bags, half in one bag, and half in the other, the druid wildshaped and began flying across the river as an air elemental. The only kicker was, one of them was actually a CR 12 demon disguised as one of the players (a scout who had been captured earlier and replaced). Soo.. halfway across the river, a huge fight broke out inside the bag of holding between three melee classes (well one was an inquisitor) and a powerful demon. It was pretty ferocious and went on for quite a few rounds before ending with one of them scoring a critical on the bag of holding (on purpose) to expel them out, rather than get slaughtered by the demon.

I ruled that the bag and the players appeared in midair, since there aren't really any rules for what happens to a magic item "inside" a druids wildshape if its destroyed. Which alerted all sorts of patrols and led to a merry aerial and aquatic chase before they all managed to get across to the other side (the druid had to release the others first or they would have suffocated).

So, the fight inside a bag of holding became the most memorable combat in our group.

Dark Archive RPG Superstar 2013 Top 32

I ran a Dark Heresy game wherein the party was made to assault an entrenched enemy position on an upward slope of a mountainside trail. There were areas of cover, vantage points that provided high visibility, blind corners, a few small caves and nooks to seek cover in, and lots of entrenched enemy snipers and heavy weapon posts, not to mention a Chaos sorcerer rushing into their midst.

The entire battle scene took almost 5 hours to completely play out. A party of 4 PCs took on a Chaos sorcerer and 12 heretics, including one Aspiring Champion with a sniper-fit boltgun. Only one PC died. It was pretty great.


Pathfinder.

Final battle, last campaign. Party of 11 vs an Eldircht Knight Boss + 2 linnorms and a tower of orcs, trolls and ogres.

The boss wanted to kidnap the party sorcerer, the party wanted him dead for a grudge between them.

A play of detects, feint, dispels, charges and fake charges, retreats (was during a siege BTW) a well timed timestop + a play of DD and walls of force, three party members self defeating to "take the blow" and tease the boss.

it ended with the siege won, the tower taken, the linnorm dead and the boss escaped with his LAST SPELL. I used EVERYTHING.

The "heat" lasted 8 rounds, IIRC. at high level is a lot.

Awesome.

The Exchange

redcelt32 wrote:

I'm not sure it qualifies as the most tactical battle, but one that my players have told me was most memorable was during a homebrew one-shot adventure I ran where they had to invade the city of Sarkoris in the Worldwound and recover an artifact. They were around 10th level at the time and trying to cross a heavily demon and water elemental patrolled river. The figured out they had just enough air in a bag of holding to hide inside while the druid carried them across.

So, they climbed inside 2 bags, half in one bag, and half in the other, the druid wildshaped and began flying across the river as an air elemental. The only kicker was, one of them was actually a CR 12 demon disguised as one of the players (a scout who had been captured earlier and replaced). Soo.. halfway across the river, a huge fight broke out inside the bag of holding between three melee classes (well one was an inquisitor) and a powerful demon. It was pretty ferocious and went on for quite a few rounds before ending with one of them scoring a critical on the bag of holding (on purpose) to expel them out, rather than get slaughtered by the demon.

I ruled that the bag and the players appeared in midair, since there aren't really any rules for what happens to a magic item "inside" a druids wildshape if its destroyed. Which alerted all sorts of patrols and led to a merry aerial and aquatic chase before they all managed to get across to the other side (the druid had to release the others first or they would have suffocated).

So, the fight inside a bag of holding became the most memorable combat in our group.

I remember that day. I had to leave for something, can't remember what, and when I came back, everyone was just getting out of the other bag. I happened to be in the remaining bag, so my absence didn't affect the combat, but it was amazing nonetheless.

The Exchange

For me, it was probably the final battle of my 4e campaign. All of the PCs were just into paragon tier and coming into their own for their power, and they finally reached the BBEG that had been orchestrating everything from the beginning. The room that she was in was inside a flying citadel with an extremely large pedestal in the middle of the room that had multiple tiers or steps to climb up and on to.

Background stuff for more non-tactical specifics on what was happening:
This was run in the 4e Forgotten Realms campaign world (this is important because it dealt with the Spellplague) and basically the BBEG had figured out a way to restart the Spellplague except make it even more deadly. So the Spellscarred PC goes into the room, under a disguise and begins to talk to the BBEG who tells him her entire plan, which was motivated by the desire to create even more Spellscarred individuals as she was also Spellscarred and the way that I played up the Spellscarred was similar to how Jokers are treated in the Wild Cards series (good books if you haven't read them), where basically they are discriminated against at every turn. The PC then begins to agree with the BBEG (I'll call her Blue because I forgot her name) that this isn't too bad an idea, assuming she had a way of controlling the Spellplague, and so provided the final component (a willing blood donor of someone who has been afflicted with a Spellscar for less than a year) she needed to make active the device that was going to be dropped into a dormant pool of Spellplague energy (think pure, raw mana).

One PC, in a disguise, goes into the room and makes it all the way to the upper tier of the pedestal, where he then willingly provides the final ingredient for the BBEG's (I'll call her Blue) plan. Cue tactics.
The different levels or steps of the pedestal began to fall out of the flying citadel, some in tiny pieces, some in more-or-less whole chunks, and since they fell in a staggered way, there ended up being five or six different elevations of the platforms. Once the other PCs saw this happen, naturally they jumped onto some pieces in the hopes of stopping the final plan of Blue. Unknowingly, Blue wasn't actually a petite, slightly crazy, Spellscarred sorceress, but rather a Gargantuan, slightly crazy, Spellscarred Blue Dragon. And the PC that willingly gave her the final component, decided that he was tired of the discrimination and switched sides (this was not influenced by me OOC at all, and I was immensely proud because this was my least pro-active, most quiet player who generally didn't do much RP). So he hopped on the back of Blue, who obviously had a HUGE advantage (flight), and the PC, who was a wizard, began using his character to its full effectiveness (which is saying something because the player didn't know the system that well and would rarely use anything but his at-wills and one daily power). So my PCs had to contend with a turn-coat wizard, a big freaking dragon, and minions all while falling to their doom. Thus began all manner of jumping and gliding antics (only one of them had any sort of flight capabilities) which some have been immortalized in my group in the persona of the Bat-Cleric (via ridiculous rolls, an excellent sense of physics, and an extendable spear that he used to pole-vault, the cleric was by far the most mobile character, not counting the dragon). Having them suddenly deal with all this terrain was great fun for mostly everyone (to use a term from Happy Jack's RPG Podcast, one player kept "Stork-ing" his rolls), particularily when the only completely whole piece of terrain, the upper tier which was the first to fall (and therefore the lowest) and had the powerful artifact that needed disabling on it, suddenly stopped falling and the terrain now began to change its configuration as all of the other terrain and landmasses continued to fall. Suddenly, after getting used to how things worked and focusing on combat, now they suddenly had to focus on not falling to their deaths. Long story short, they survived (except the turncoat, but they made it so none knew of his betrayal), Faerun was saved from the ravages of a second Spellplague, and my groups still regards that as the best combat I have ever run.

Liberty's Edge

Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Companion, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Charter Superscriber

For me, most recently, it was in Rise of the Runelords #2 (I was GM), where they fought the lamia matriarch in the old bell tower under the bridge in Magnimar. Instead of the more 'traditional' method of going inside, they managed to (through spider climb and fly spells) scale the outside of the tower and get in through the top.

Well, battle ensues, with the flying, spiderclimbing party waging a running battle with the Lamia (who is also by this time flying via spell) down the outside of the tower. One of the heroes, the sorcerer, goes inside and lobs a fireball at the upper level, just as the scarecrow moves to attack.

As the vertical fight rages outside, the fireball destroys the floor supports of the bell tower level (as well as blasting debris and flaming chunks over everyone outside) and it all comes crashing down, burying the poor scarecrow in the process.

The heroes won the day, but not without the loss of one of their number. Going unconscious is not normally a big deal, unless you're halfway up a tower.

That was the most memorable fight recently, though "fishing for bunyips" in RotR #1 was also fun.

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