The creative Encounter Thread - How to excite your Party


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Hey there!

I don't know whether this is going to work, but after some research I recognized there is no thread like this one yet.

My idea here is to post creative, special and challenging encounters that others can use in their games. Making up encounters is not easy and requires a lot of preparation (even though there already are a couple of great guidelines of how to do so), so I'm pretty sure such a thread - if filled with the most exciting battles, skill challenges, traps or whatever you made up in your games - will find use in many campaigns.

To help readers on whether a posted encounter may be implemented in their current scenario we should mention some important aspects:


Summary: ("Party fights small mosquitos in mouth of colossal frog while trying not to be swallowed")

CR of the encounter:

Typ of encounter: (Is it a boss fight, a skill challenge or some mini game?)

Background: (For what party did you initially create the encounter, what was the intention?)

Encounter: (What exactly does it look like? What creatures did you use, what tactics? Just all the details!)

Comment: (How did your group get through the encounter? What might be a problem? What else should be mentioned?)


I really hope to find some people filling this thread with great ideas! I will do so as soon as I get home as I have some cool encounters that might be interesting for some of you:)

This might really help lots of GMs or at least can provide some inspiration! I know we have a huge number of creative heads on these boards, so there's no excuse:)


Liberty's Edge

I am going to dot this


Well, here was a somewhat creative fight my group seemed to enjoy...

Summary: Invulnerable automaton shedding armor until it is vulnerable

CR of the encounter: varies, but in my case around 10

Type of encounter: boss fight

Background: Home brew world and mechanics, party of around 7 players

Encounter: I heavily modified a clay golem into an ancient automaton that starts off pretty much untouchable, but with visibly patched together armor. Sky-high AC and SR, at least at first, instead of the normal golem immunities. Most of it's attacks were also replaced with AOE siege weapons from Ultimate combat. Any time SR blocked a spell or an attack would have hit the touch AC though, I rolled a d100, if the roll was less than the damage dealt, it lost 5 AC and SR as pieces of armor were "knocked off". Natural 20s also took off armor without the d100 roll.

Comment: The main problem to avoid is make sure the players feel like there is a chance to do SOMETHING to the creature despite the ridiculous AC and SR it starts with (I think it may have been 50 each, don't have my notes handy), but once they knew they could do something, they had a blast throwing spells that let em drop a fistful of dice to try and bring it down to vulnerable. Mechanically it's really pretty similar to a normal fight, but having to beat it's defenses first meant that even with the over sized group, the encounter took quite a while, and just FELT different from the players perspective than a normal brawl.

Summary: Clockwork Guardians
CR of the encounter: 16
Type: Ambush
Background: A set of guardians for a powerful artifact, these automatons are a part of the citadel. These, though not the last guardians, are the last encounter (presumably in a series), as the players descend towards the crystal. Perhaps the crystal itself is blocked off by a planar boundary, and in a world where Plane Shift is inaccessible to the players, they have to move through a realm of shadows and unknown creatures before this. (Undead or Aberrations?)
Encounter: The players begin by finally escaping the planar barrier to find a hall, cold black ebony covering everything. The players are in nigh-impenetrable darkness, save for a line of blue stretched in front of them, as if shining under a door. Perhaps one of them strikes a torch, or summons light. This reveals statues along the walls, items of intricate engineering. They can identify them as Clockwork devices, inactive and unwound. As they move through the hallway, an arrow; crackling with fiery energy, shoots past them! With a Perception check to determine the surprise round, the combat begins. Two Iron Archer Golems stand at the end of the twenty foot wide hall, each ready to continue firing. After one round, the Clockwork Soldiers (of which their are ten), pop off the walls and block the way, five on each side. The Iron Archers use their flight to fire above the Clockwork Soldiers, and avoid penalties. If any target takes flight, the archers prioritize that target, aiming to take him/her down as soon as possible.
Comment: There is no spellcaster support in this encounter, so buffs are difficult to get past. As well, the party may be able to spend resources to heal themselves before progressing, and perhaps should before entering this encounter, depending on what they've done beforehand. Overall, I haven't had a chance to play this encounter yet, so it'll be a surprise to me what happens.

Summary: Party has to protect roc eggs while mommy isnt there when a group of evil adventurers tries to climb up the nest

CR of the encounter: About 7

Typ of encounter: Mixture of fight and skill challenge

Background: Party perceives some npcs climbing up to the nest (150ft high), equipped to steal an egg. The party wants to prevent that for whatever reason.

Encounter: The party has to climb/fly in order to keep up with those egg thiefs. At the bottom there is a small camp guarded by a two merceneries and a wolf companion who attack the PCs after few warnings. The 4 other thiefs are climbing up to the nest. The route up is not that hard to climb but due to the shape of the rock there is no line of sight most of the time (I actually just used my battlemap as crag). The enemies climbing up were bard (archeologist), ranger, rogue and barbarian, all equipped with alchemist fires, potions of fly and climbing equip. The Bard casts grease and feather fall in case its neccessary. And helps climbing with his performance. He also uses some of the sonic spells, maybe even to attack the rock in order to make climbing for the PCs harder and cover them in falling rocks. The rogue also has a wand of grease. He wields a crossbow to attack flat footed climbers with sneak attack. The ranger only carries a dagger and his bow on his back. When he notices the attackers he climbs to find a good place to stand on and cover the enemies in arrows. The barbarian wields his greataxe and has a potion of spider climb to be able to use it in case he has to. He also likes throwing his net.

After several rounds of combat (5+1d4) the roc returns when he hears the sound of battle and starts attacking random targets.

Comment: The group will have to deal with enemies who are well prepared to fight in this scenario. Their potions of fly and spiderclimb and good climbing skills make them a real threat. The greases they can throw on the party might really mess up their day. All in all this is going to be uncomfortable terrain for almost any party and will maybe even force them to retreat, especially when the enemies start flying while they are stuck in the wall. Its really helpfull if the party has the ability to fly as well.

Dark Archive

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EPL: about 6ish: before flight preferably. CR of beasty should be fairly high for this level, or should otherwise have good damage migation/extra hitpoints.

type: fight with added skill flavour

background: party is on a heavy chariot, or other armed vehicle.

They're is a huge -f%#$-off monster behind the party. Fortunately, so long as the chariot is always double moving the beast cannot catch up to the party but it can outrun most characters on foot.

the trick to the fight is to remain out of the beast's range while driving the chariot and peppering the beats with arrows/ballista blots from the on-board light ballista.

Season with traps deadfalls, and dangerous terrain to taste.

Bonus: The same but atop a clockwork dragon/colossus.

RPG Superstar 2010 Top 32

Dippity Dot

When I came up with this idea, myself, I decided to make it a product for my Kaidan setting of Japanese horror. A detailed encounter/adventure map site product - Haiku of Horror: Autumn Moon Bath House. It's not even an adventure, nor one-shot just a really developed encounter...



Summary: Steal from the pcs. Give pcs the chance to recover said items. Observe the true ruthless nature of adventurers when their most precious possessions are take from them. Have some powerful chaotic-good outsider judge them according to their actions.

CR: Whatever but mainly low.

Type of Encounter: Mini-dungeon/lair/base for 'smugglers'.

Background: Previous party.

Encounter: Disguised CG Priest (god of mischief) seeks to recover sacred item from thieves. Tips off thieves that pcs have item of value (double crossing both the thieves and the pcs). Thieves steal items but CG priest leaves clues. PC's follow clues, deal with the thieves. Priest recovers item, powerful CG outsider appears and 'judges' everyone based on their actions - CG priest must atone for any bloodshed.

Encounter: Trapped building and ambushing thieves as well as an element of time pressure. Some 'innocents' and there is a deadline by which this must be done. The pcs are asked not to hurt some residents of hideout.

Comment: Players ruthlessly killed everyone who crossed their path, including some relative 'innocents' as well as looting the place completely - suffered badly in the judgement.
Priest had to do major penance for his 'misjudgement' of the pcs.

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Summary: Elven Dream-Trap

CR of the encounter: n/a (just set level-appropriate save DCs)

Type of encounter: Mini game/RP

Background: A party of adventures is trying to find a hidden elven city...

Encounter: While searching for a hidden elven city, the party camps out within sight of an ruined spire. All non-elves in the party who sleep at any point do not wake up on their own, and cannot be awakend with damage or other normal means. They all experience a vivid collective dream. Elves in the party can see the collective dream when they close their eyes, but remain awake, as do any other characters immune to magical sleep. Elves are always considered lucid dreamers (see below). This trap was placed by the hidden elves, taking advantage of their sleep immunity, to cause any who seek them to sleep until they starve to death or are eaten by wild animals while they sleep.

There are several ways to awaken the sleeping characters. A remove curse effect can wake a single person. Moving the sleeping body far enough away that it is no longer in line of sight to the ruin will also allow them to wake normal. Stone and distance will block the ruin's "sight", but wood, cloth, etc. will not. The main way to awaken, however, is with multiple successive will saves. The first save should be relatively easy for the level of the characters, and allow them to recognize they are in a dream, making them lucid dreamers. A save can be made any time the dream does something unusual or unnatural. Once they are having a lucid dream, they can make additional will saves at the same DC to try and control what is happening in the dream. Once they do so, however, or once they start interacting with the dream again, they get re-immersed and are no longer lucid dreamers unlesss they make an additional save. If multiple players try to move the dream in conflicting directions, make it an opposed will save to see who controls the direction of the dream. Once they are aware they are dreaming, they can also attempt to make a will save to force themselves awake. This should be a reasonably difficult DC for their level.

Comment: Before running this, have all the players answer a few questions for their characters (what is something your character fears, who is someone outside the party your character trusts, what is something your character loves, etc). Use these to craft some of the dream sequences, mad-libs style, bouncing and blurring the facets of different characters answers. If one character loves nature and another beer, make a beer waterfall. if one character loves cats and another fears dragons, make an ominous dragon-shadow approaching the group turn out to be a cute, cuddly tiny dragon-kitten.

The goal here is to give the players a bit of a playground, particularly with the lucid dreamers shaping the world, and hopefully revealing a bit more of themselves to the rest of the party in the process, possibly more than they would like. Try and let the players have fun and go wild, so that some or all of them may not want to wake up.

Having an elf or two in the party is a big plus, allowing them to see their friends sleeping well past noon and lost in a dreamworld. This gives them a chance to trying to manipulate the dream to encourage people to wake themselves up, and also adds another dimension of RP. It also makes sure that the party is unlikely to remain completely trapped.

When I ran this with my group, the elven druid who saved the party was thanked with a punch to the face for waking an ally enjoying the beer waterfall, and lead to an extended philosophical discussion between their characters about the nature of fantasies, dreams, and insubstantial pleasures.



We definitly need more encounters!

I'd also love to see some skill-challengeish ones:D

I'm giving this a little bump!

I already did use some of the ideas and they turned out to be pretty awesome!


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Here's a skill-based encounter:

Summary: Rogue/Bard/Skill character must disarm device while party fights off opponents

CR of the encounter: Variable

Typ of encounter: Skill challenge and combat

Background: A fairly challenging encounter that lets all characters shine- the skill character must disable the device, the group needs teamwork, combat characters have lots of combat, bards/evangelists can buff the party, summoning-focused characters can help out a lot, and creative spellcasting is a necessity.

Encounter: This works best in a dungeon. A device must be disarmed, requiring two or three disable device checks. You can tie knowledge checks to each, for example a knowledge-arcana for the first, knowledge-religions for the second, and knowledge-history or local for the third. Successfully making the knowledge check lowers the disable device DC for that check by 5. The character has 8 rounds to disable to device (you can retry a failed check at +1 DC). The party is fighting off waves of opponents- APL -1 on round 1, APL +0 on round 3, APL +1 on round 5, and APL+2 on round 7. The party must keep the opponents from interrupting the character. If the character fails to disable the device, the dungeon begins flooding.

Comment: I've run variations of this. It's inspired by my favorite encounters in Cyberpunk, where a hacker or slicer has to hack into a system while the rest of the team keeps opponents busy.

Shadow Lodge

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The Better Boulder Trap, See Saw, Golden Idols and Run-Away Wagon. All used, all memorable, all fun.

Pathfinder LO Special Edition Subscriber

DOT! With capital letters cause this looks extremely handy.

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Summary: The party must place their hands / arms unto the correct magical statues in order to leave an otherwise sealed room.

CR: Didn't calculate, however this puzzle is meant for 2 characters.

Type of Encounter: Puzzle Room

Background: Initially created as the start for a 2 player game. Lower level. 3 I think.

Encounter: As described below. Hopefully descriptive enough.

Comment: THIS PUZZLE WAS BUILT FOR A 2 PLAYER PARTY. That being said, neither seemed unhappy with it, despite one player going blind and turning into a man from a woman (he found it an opportunity to further the RP of his character. However, they sort of lucked into the answer by trial and error. Others might be able to figure it out right from the get go, while others still might not get it at all.

Name: Gauntlet Room #1: 16 Statues of Torment.:

Riddle / Clue: “Surrender your arm unto ME and then you shall be set free.”

Riddle / Clue Answer: Each player must place their hand / arm unto the statues whose creature name starts with M and E. Example: A for angel, B for Butcher, etc. The players must surrender their arms unto the statues whose general names start with M and E in order for the door to be unlocked. Surrendering their arms unto other incorrect statues has dire consequences. That being said, a DM could of course switch out any of the statues as long as they have the proper starting letter as well as tweak the current or new creatures' effects as desired.

Hidden items: Gold colored twine (for the Norn) is hidden under a large loose stone in a dark southeast corner of the room. Once returned to the Norn, the players get a potential bonus shown under the Norn.

Room description: The room is completely built of large stone slabs, water leaking into parts of the room, four rows of statues lie waiting inside of this 50ft x 50ft wide and 30ft high ceilinged room. At the north end of the room is a sturdy looking wooden door with steel reinforcements, a sentence engraved above it, the door is securely locked with no door handle or keyhole. The sentence reads, “Surrender your arm unto me and then you shall be set free.”

There are four rows of four statues, each with a 5ft space between the other. Each appears to be a different creature or being of some kind.

Side Note: All statues are indestructible until activated. Once they return to their positions, they are once again indestructible.

List of creatures / things for statues: (1-4 are at the north most side of the room and each next row of 4 is further south of that.)

1) Angel: A statue of an extremely attractive female angel stands towering in front of you. She is holding a large sword with both hands slightly above her head in mid swing, a furious look in her eyes, her legs spaced apart one resting atop a rock of sorts, the other standing firmly upon the floor the rock is resting on, her tunic knee length parting at the side of the thigh, lifting up with the leg resting on the rock.

{If the player attempts to place their hand anywhere inappropriate the angel will swing its sword downward upon the potential molester. 15 reflex, +7 to hit, 1d8 + 2}

2) Butcher: A large rotund and menacing looking butcher stands before you, his right hand held out as if were holding something or ready to hold something, his other arm held back holding a large butcher’s knife back as if ready to chop, the butcher’s face showing anger.

{If the player places his or her hand in the butcher’s open palm, they must first make an escape artist check or strength check (DC 10) to attempt to escape his now rock hard grip. Then they must make a reflex check to avoid the butcher’s blade heading towards their arm. If the attack connects the player takes 1d6 damage and -2 to attacks made with that arm until the damage is healed.}

3) Crocodile: Rearing up from the floor in front of you is a crocodile, its jaw gaped open as if about to strike down upon its next meal.

{If the player places their arm into the crocodile’s mouth, they must make a reflex save of 15 or be attacked by the crocodile (+5 bite to hit) and possibly be grabbed for a death roll. Normal grapple rules to escape if grabbed.}

4) Demon: A fat, disgusting looking demon is on all fours making a crazed face towards you, it’s tattered wings are large, it’s pointed tail curling upwards towards its back.

{If the player puts their arm (wherever the DM decides)they must make a reflex save 15 or they are automatically stuck. The demon then begins to fly up to the ceiling (30 ft., 3d6) and 1d4 rounds later lets the player go causing fall damage, then returns to its position.}

5) Earth Elemental: A large rock, tree and mud earth elemental stands before you, its pose signifying defiance and rage, claws clenched closed.

{If the player places their arms inside the crevice of the earth elemental’s chest, they immediately get absorbed into the earth elemental’s body. They are completely safe, unharmed and able to breath, however they cannot speak to the other player(s) nor move until the earth elemental releases them (Either when the other player places their hands in the mermaids grip or passes out / dies.) If another player places their arm into the mermaid’s arms the room will fill with water and then the earth elemental will trudge over to the door beating it down. The room will then drain of water and each player will be released.}

6) Flytrap: A giant flytrap plant statue stands before you, its “mouth” open complete with pointy teeth all alongside it’s edges.

{If the player places their arm into the flytrap’s trap they are immediately attacked, a reflex of 15 can save them from the attack initially, if they fail the save the attack continues on. +6 to hit, 1d8 + engulf. If engulfed, they do not take damage, instead they are held there indefinitely for 1d6 minutes. Alternatively, they may take acid damage until able to get set free. Likely 1d4 per round.}

7) Genie: A complex statue of a genie floating upon a roiling mist sits before you, one arm crossing its body the other arm extended as if for a handshake of sorts. The genie is smiling.

{If the player attempts to shake hands with the genie the genie grasps their hand, nodding a few times, it's grin growing wider. Then the player must make will save or else be changed into the opposite gender. This is a curse and can only be broken through use of remove curse. Otherwise it is permanent.}

8) Hydra: A 5-headed snake like hydra looks in numerous directions, one head peering down at you who stand before it, its maw open jagged teeth and all.

{If the player attempts to offer their arm to the mouth of the hydra they are attacked once and only once unless the player returns their arm to the hydra’s mouth. 1d8 + 3 damage, +6 to hit. If they attack the hydra in attempt to escape a head will fall off, immediately spawning two new heads. If another player is adjacent to the hydra, it will attack them at the same time as the one whom offered their arm.}

9) Inevitable Marut: A menacing looking knight in heavy armor, only black underneath it, stands before you a great sword resting on his shoulder, the other hand out as if expecting payment.

{If the player places their hand into the hand of the Inevitable Marut it will immediately get angered, as it was not paid. The player must then make a will save vs. 21 or else be under the effects of fear.}

10) Jorogumo: A beautiful long haired woman with legs of a spider coming out of her back stands in front of you, her delicate hands reaching out as if meant for a loved one.

{If the player places their hand into the hands of the Jorogumo’s hands, they must make a will save of 19 or be under the suggestion that the demon statue will get them out of the room.}

11) Kangaroo: A content looking kangaroo sits back on its haunches and tail directly in front of you, it’s arms back, it’s pouch slightly open.

{If the player places their hand into the kangaroos pouch, they must make a reflex save or get kicked by the kangaroo. 1d6 damage and knocked backward (as far as DM pleases) and tripped prone. No reflex.}

12) Lich: A disturbing, decrepit looking lich stands, leaning on a staff that’s being held in its left hand, it’s right hand open and palm is turned partly downward.

{If a player offers their hand to the lich’s hand, they must make a will save or be cursed with blindness until they leave the room. Crossing the threshold of the room to the next room relieves the player of the blindness.}

13) Mermaid: A cute mermaid sits perched upon a giant sea shell, both arms reaching for something, yet nothing lies in her palms, as she looks upwards towards the far edge of the ceiling.

{If the player places their arm into the mermaid’s hands, the mermaid immediately grabs the player’s arm her face changing to one of worry. Water begins to pour into the room at a high rate 6 rounds until the room is filled. As long as the player is within the mermaids grasp they are able to breath water and do not drown nor need to make checks for drowning.}

14) Norn: This statue of a towering stern looking woman with braids stands before you looking as if it lost something, one hand holding shears up, the other empty as if in confusion.

{If the player places their hand into the Norn’s hand, the Norn looks to them irritated tossing the hand to the side, then snips her shears twice at the player not as an attack but as if the player was being annoying. If the players return the Norn's thread to her, the DM may allow a re-roll for 1 save while the players are in the room.}

15) Ooze: A large bean shaped ooze sits in front of you motionless as anything else in the room, however it seems to be more of a liquid stone unlike anything the others are made of.

{If a player places their hand into the ooze, they take 1d6 acid damage.}

16) Pixie: An extremely small statue lies at the center of a pedestal, looking upwards, arms raised and palms open, this pixie statue has incredible detail.

{If the player places their finger onto the pixies hands they must make a will save of 14 or be confused for 1d4 minutes (I amped it up a bit)}

Side Note: I'm not the greatest when it comes to mechanics of DMing (I'm fairly new still), however I feel I'm fairly strong when it comes to concept and creativity. So, that being said, the above save DCs might be a bit high or too low, but it ended up working out for me... luckily. In any case, the party seemed to have fun figuring it out and it's pretty memorable.

Summary: Praying Mantis in the tree

CR of the encounter: 4

Type of encounter: Difficult Terrain, Average Encounter

Background: The party had to climb a tree to get to the next area and about 50ft up in the tree there was is a giant mantis. To anyone below the mantis has complete concealment among the branches and partial to anyone else unless they are within melee range. Due to the mantis climb ability it could just stick to the side of the tree and attack without problems but anyone else who wants to fight him, had to climb up to him.

The barbarian and monk climbed up the tree to fight him, the mantis would pounce, grab then nibble on the head of whoever it caught. The rest of the party threw impotent ranged attacks at the mantis while the monk tried to punch the mantis when he had the chance, the barbarian engaged in a non stop grapple/escape grapple fight.

Eventually the monk slipped off the tree with a natural 1 and ended up on the floor with 1 hp left, the barbarian was sitting on 10 hp and willingly failed his climb check to get away. The monk and barbarian got healed up then started a controlled climb up the tree using rope and pitans. They both grappled the legs of the mantis and three him off the tree then the party mauled him on the ground.

It was a fun battle because the battle map played out sideways, rather than a birds eye view.

Encounter: As above

Comment: The players thought it was both an annoying and epic fight. The fight was originally created to give the martials something to do as the rest of the party was mincing encounters. The battle could probably be modified with people on the ground rolling perception vs stealth on the Mantis instead of pure concealment.


Summary: Hostile monsters on a cliff face.

Type of Encounter: Combat, with limited skill

CR: Can be adjusted, but give whichever monsters you choose a CR adjustment for terrain favorable to them.

Encounter: For the most part, it's a standard "wandering monster" encounter, but with one major twist-- the battle map doesn't display top down, but from the side. The map is the side of a cliff-- moving "north" or "south" requires an appropriate Climb check. Draw ledges running "east" to "west" where characters can stand safely. A player who falls may be able to land on a ledge instead of falling the whole distance. You may also add ropes from a previous climbing group if you think the party will need them, or if this is logically part of a commonly-traveled route.

Comments: I originally drew the map so that it would be possible for high-DEX characters to jump from one ledge to the next while STR-based characters used Climb. I used a pair of low-CR monsters with a Climb speed (don't remember what kind). The party really struggled with it, despite having a sorcerer that could cast Fly. This would also be an easy encounter to trivialize if you've got a dedicated archer or the right spells, but in the right group it could be fun. My group... was not the right group.

So much great stuff. Do we maybe have some more ideas that add some kind of puzzeling to an encounter?


Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Final battle for Kingmaker. Not necessarily much of a spoiler, because I'm doing it a lot differently from the adventure. I'll be running this sometime in the next three weeks.

FULL DISCLOSURE - I'm converting the adventure path to 4E, which changes a number of player options considerably. (No easy way to get a whole party flying; push/pull/slide powers to reposition allies and enemies; completely revised stat blocks from the published adventure.) But the core ideas should port over to Pathfinder pretty well.

Slight Kingmaker Spoilers:
I decided to have the final battle take place in the Fable in the "tree" section, and I'm changing things so that the tree still is in its "infitite height tree-trunk" mode. (Nyrissa has noticed that several of the PCs aren't as effective against flying foes, and the party has no way to fix that at this point.) And created a "Nyrissa Simulacra" stat block - they've already faced the simulacra in a couple of fights and figured out she has simulacra running about, but three Nyrissas at once should be a surprise.

Okay, the battle will take place in an "infinite height tree" - thick branches radiate out from the trunk, and after they get out a certain distance, they start branching out in smaller branches and leaves that become impenetrable blocking terrain, effectively turning the battlefield into a very tall cylinder with bridges (branches) radiating outward from a central column (impenetrable tree trunk).

So the complicated part - to do the "battle-map" I'm putting a height-track on the table. (Position minis according to their comparative height up the tree.) They have to venture out onto the branches (because the tree trunk takes up the center area). Rather than specifying exact positions of every branch, the players will choose their distance from the tree, and the quadrant (north, south, east, west). Take the max distance in each dimension (height difference, each distance out from trunk center in perpendicular quadrants OR subtract those distances out if same quadrant OR add them if opposing quadrant but apply partial cover) and plug into a simple formula to determine distance between foes.

The BBEG, and two identical simulacra of her, will be flying around (only semi-successfully avoiding flying within melee reach of people standing on the branches). The PCs will need to move about in the 3D environment, probably taking advantage of push/pull/slide powers to help the melee folks engage the enemy - and they'll have to deduce which BBEG is the real thing and which two are the simulacra. (The real BBEG has different attack bonus, damage expressions, and some other differences to help them figure it out. But she can also teleport and re-confuse the issue if things seem to be going too fast.)

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Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The concept has slight Spoilers for Rise of the Runelords. It is a complex of rooms created by people who embraced the sin of Envy.

WARNING: This can also only be done with players who trust their DM.

I completely re-did the Envy section of Runeforge - I didn't want to do the Mordenkainen's Disjunction trap, which is the entire Envy section, so I started from scratch and built the following. As the PCs enter the Envy wing of Runeforge:

The PCs walk down the hallway and see an intermittent flash of light from up ahead. Moving forward to investigate, they see a large room with a floor of alternating black and white tiles (like a vast chess board). The far wall has stairs up to an overlooking gallery/balcony, and a section of the wall by those stairs looks melted and fused, but appears to be made of some silvery metal. (And I wait until the entire party ventures into the room to investigate, or else commits to waiting in the hallway while others investigate - and there's no real reason for everyone not to enter, so you can assume they all will go in and investigate.)

Once the PCs are all in the room, there's a brilliant flash of light that envelops the PCs, and as it retracts and races up the steps and down a hallway off that balcony, it has all their magic items floating within. The PCs have any non-magical clothing and gear they were wearing and/or carrying (unless it was contained within magic items that have been taken, such as bags of holding), and nothing else.

And now the PCs much traverse a gauntlet that is designed to challenge and humiliate those setting off the trap, for the amusement of the creators of the trap. The hallway leads to a wide room bisected by a gap, with flat pillars of varying widths forming a sort of path (leap from pillar to pillar) across, and with lots of spiky metal bits about 30 or 40 feet down, to skewer anyone who fails a jump. (The DCs are set to be possible but difficult for the PCs without magic gear - and several of the pillars are 10 feet wide to allow multiple PCs to stand on one and Aid Another, but not to get running jumps once they've made the first leap. Eventually, after taking some damage, they get across. Powerful air elementals punish anyone who tries to fly, knocking them back toward the beginning, but don't bother anyone who is standing/jumping/falling.

Next the PCs enter a wide cavern with no floor, and narrow rope-and-board bridges that link to one another and connect pillar/platforms. An obvious exit is seen on the far wall; the bridges close in onto a single path going to that exit. (I "drew" the map by placing popsicle sticks to stand for the bridges, connecting circles just large enough for one PC to stand on. Picture connecting the popsicle sticks as triangles, assembling enough to make a big triangle sig sticks long per side - the flat side forming the long side where they begin, the far point being the exit.) Again, air elementals punish anyone who tries to fly, but leave anyone on the bridges alone. As the PCs start moving across the room, strange mechanical spiders come out from below, and move toward the PCs to attack. If PCs are on a "circle" (pillar top), the spiders make normal attacks - if the PCs are on a bridge, the spiders damage the bridge, automatically cutting one end. (PCs can make a saving throw to avoid falling, then climb up the still connected end, but spiders will try to get there are cut that end, too...) Any PCs who fall (or are knocked out of the air while flying) fall through a "false floor" at about 50 feet down, and are teleported back to the entrance of this room to try again. Eventually, the PCs get everyone across.

The third room looks a lot like the second (identical popsicle-stick setup), except each bridge has a small plaque at the PC's end of it, announcing a challenge. Each bridge basically requires a choice between two skill checks to cross it - failure usually means taking damage, but in some cases (or failing by too much) might result in a fall. The skill checks are mostly reasonable, so the odds look not-too-bad.

The surprise comes once the PCs start crossing - as any bridge is used, it collapses, so no one can use that path thereafter. The PCs should eventually realize this means that only two bridges go to the exit, so the whole group won't be able to succeed... So they start crossing the room, doing the skill checks. When they get to the point where there are only 6 bridges forward, the plaques are different, and are meant to appeal to those embracing different non-Envy sins - Wrath, Greed, Pride, Lust, Sloth, and Gluttony. For example, "Only the Wrathful will succeed." These bridges are made of stone. When someone steps onto one of these bridges, a spherical force-field surrounds them until they pass the challenge, but each challenge is actually set up to make a person embracing that sin fail rather than succeed. So for example, the Wrath bridge entrant might be faced with an old woman holding a sword and looking terrified. If the PC slaughters her, they fail; if they speak to her, she begs them to spare her life, and if they then refuse to kill her, they succeed.

Failure means the bridge collapses with force field still intact, and the PC falls and vanishes. Success means the force field goes away, and the bridge collapses after tilting to deposit the PC on the end position. Anyone falling is deposited back at the entrance, just like room 2, but enough collapsed bridges means there's nowhere for them to go.

So eventually one (or maybe two) PCs make it across the final bridge of the third room, and enter a hallway leading into a fourth room. A placard over that doorway announces, "Thank you for providing us with Entertainment. Enter and beg nicely, and we may return your belongings." The room beyond has comfortable chairs and magical viewing screens to watch all the areas of the preceding gauntlet, and is surrounded by the living quarters of those who created this complex - and absolutely no one is there. (The inhabitants of this complex died out centuries ago.) All the PCs' magic items are in a jumbled pile next to two big red levers, one of which says "RESET" and resets any collapsed bridges, the other of which says "SAFE MODE" and locks the bridges and removes any dangers, allowing the remaining PCs to walk across the now-safe bridges and join whoever was triumphant.

And just to add final insult, there is a single exit from this set of rooms - an obvious door (on the other side, it's a very difficult to find secret door) that leads to the hallway right outside the first room of the Envy complex (where they would have first seen the intermittent flashing light in the tiled-floor room). So they could have bypassed the entire gauntlet if they'd searched for a secret door right before entering that first room.

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Summary: "Survive the Gauntlet, Room #"
Encounter CR: I'm working at around 7-8
Type of Encounter: A cross between a Skill Challenge and Mini-game
Background: No specific party in mind. Certain classes and abilities, yes. The intention, easily enough, was to create an environmental obstacle that required either creativity or dogged determination to bypass (preventing the most common bypasses).
Set: A 40ft by 120ft stone-walled room. streching from one door to the other is a 10ft wide bridge made of highly polished stone. The bridge extends over a 35ft pit that fills the area of the room and the ceiling is 30ft high.
Bridge: The bridge is sloped. This, combined with the high-polish finish make moving quickly along it's surface treacherous. If the player moves more than their movement speed across the bridge (typically 30ft), they must make a DC 17 acrobatics check or fall into the pit. If the player tries to run across the bridge, the DC increases to 25. The player may attempt a Reflex save to catch on the bridge (DC 15). However, due to the bridge's surface, it is impossible for them to get back on alone. A standard action from any other PC successfully gets them back up.
Pit: The bottom of the pit is lined with old-formation Blightburn crystals. Most of the radiative power of the crystals has long been dissipated, reducing the radiation distance to 30ft. If at any time a PC falls off the bridge, even if they catch on the edge, they are hit by the radiation (Blightburn Sickness: Fort DC 22, 1/day onset, 1/day frequency, 1d6 CON and CHA damage, 2 consecutive saves). Any character that falls takes 3d6 falling damage and 1d8 piercing+2d6 fire+1d3 CON+1d3 CHA damage (Fort DC 22 negates Ability damage and halves fire damage). A feather fall spell negates fall damage and reduces the piercing damage to 1d4. Due to the close proximity, anyone using a teleportation effect must succeed at a DC 30 caster level check.
Trap: At the end of the bridge, two grotesque statues flank the doorway. In the air around the bridge are 30 glowing small-winged orbs that dart back and forth, about the size of a walnut. The orbs are what make this particularly dangerous. Each round, each orb chooses a target (max 5/target, treat as Aid Another +2 per additional orb targeting) and can perform one of two actions: Explode violently, ejecting a burst of wind at a the PC (treat as a Bullrush with a +8 CMB that can affect Large creatures) or act as a targeted dispel magic on any character using a flight mobility spell (levitate, fly, overland flight and the like. Can only dispel these kinds of spells, treat as CL 5 with +2 per orb "assisting"). This destroys the orb. Each round, the left statue at the end vomits up to 5 orbs (maximum 30 in the room). The right statue, however, is damaged from a previous adventurer and only emits 2 orbs a round. The statues can be destroyed and prevent any more orbs from spawning.
Comment: I've not run this, as it's more of a theory-baby right now, but I wanted to share. One concern is that it's too harsh, but I'm on the fence about it.


Summary: "Room of Portcullis Cage Traps"

Encounter CR: variable, no higher than 7-8.

Type of Encounter: skill challenge/mini-game, with optional combat

Encounter: The PCs discover a room, 100 feet by 120 feet. There is one exit on the far side of the room, and six or seven 5' cages throughout the room. Each cage contains a Medium humanoid of the GM's choice-- ideally, the PC's won't share a language with any of them. Mindless undead would also be a good choice. At least one cage should contain a corpse, preferably with a nice bit of treasure visible in its possession.

A fairly easy Perception check reveals that every 5' square in the room is a pressure plate. Each plate resets as soon as you step off of it, and there is no way to stand in the room without triggering at least one plate. For every plate that is triggered, the GM picks a random 5' square in the room (by rolling a d10 and a d12). If that square has no cage, iron bars drop down from the ceiling and surround that square in a cage, trapping anything in that square. If that square already had a cage, the bars are raised, releasing anything that was trapped. The cage bars provide partial cover for any attack made into or out of them, and the monsters already in the cages will be hostile. At the GM's discretion, one of them may have a ranged weapon, or a polearm. They are on the verge of starvation, and will attempt to steal the PC's supplies in the hopes of finding food, or even try to kill and eat the PCs. If a PC becomes trapped, they can escape with a moderate Escape Artist check as a full-round action, but doing so puts them in an adjacent square and triggers another plate.

Once the PCs make it through the room, they will find a staircase not far away that leads to a "control room" with a mirrored spyglass to view the room from above, a board of buttons to activate specific squares on command, and a lever to release/disable all the cages.

Dotting for interest.

This is an interesting thread indeed!

Little bump - I'm sure there are more of those great ideas!

Summary: Giant Flaming Maze Balls of Death!
CR: About 10 ish though it varies.
Background: Not sure, my GM used this on us and he actually came up with the idea about 5 minutes before the session started.
Event: You know those toy mazes where you have to tilt the maze in order to maneuver a ball into a hole? Think that, but your PCs are trapped inside.

Essentially, it was a Maze and in the center of a Maze, was a ladder to a control room. In the control room is a series of levers and switchs that control the maze. Pulling levers in various ways can tilt the Maze.

In each corner of the Maze is a hole in the ceiling that drops a giant steel ball into the maze and rolls around. The ball always rolls to the lowest end of the Maze it can in one round.

Also, from whichever side of the maze that is tilted up, comes lava that slowly oozes out into the maze. Like the Balls, it always oozes towards to lowest end of the Maze. The bottom of each wall contains steel grates that allows the lava to sleep through the walls into the next layer. So as the maze continues, it gets closer and closer.

In addition, there are 3 Mythic Minotaurs in the Maze who will attempt to harass and kill the party. They can teleport as a move action while within the Maze, so they are highly mobile enemies. Make them fireproof through templates, items, GM Fiat etc.

Comments: My GM used this on our party and it was a very unique encounter. We'd never seen anything like it before. We ended up running around the Maze trying to hunt down the Minotaurs while also finding the exits. Meanwhile we had to avoid the giant steel balls and the lava that crept ever closer.

Somehow that makes me think of super mario bros. 64 Oo



Dotting the crap outta this. I love this topic and will definitely thieve some of these ideas.

Dot dot dot

Tels wrote:

Summary: Giant Flaming Maze Balls of Death!

CR: About 10 ish though it varies.
Background: Not sure, my GM used this on us and he actually came up with the idea about 5 minutes before the session started.
Event: You know those toy mazes where you have to tilt the maze in order to maneuver a ball into a hole? Think that, but your PCs are trapped inside.

Essentially, it was a Maze and in the center of a Maze, was a ladder to a control room. In the control room is a series of levers and switchs that control the maze. Pulling levers in various ways can tilt the Maze.

In each corner of the Maze is a hole in the ceiling that drops a giant steel ball into the maze and rolls around. The ball always rolls to the lowest end of the Maze it can in one round.

Also, from whichever side of the maze that is tilted up, comes lava that slowly oozes out into the maze. Like the Balls, it always oozes towards to lowest end of the Maze. The bottom of each wall contains steel grates that allows the lava to sleep through the walls into the next layer. So as the maze continues, it gets closer and closer.

In addition, there are 3 Mythic Minotaurs in the Maze who will attempt to harass and kill the party. They can teleport as a move action while within the Maze, so they are highly mobile enemies. Make them fireproof through templates, items, GM Fiat etc.

Comments: My GM used this on our party and it was a very unique encounter. We'd never seen anything like it before. We ended up running around the Maze trying to hunt down the Minotaurs while also finding the exits. Meanwhile we had to avoid the giant steel balls and the lava that crept ever closer.

You could possibly enhance this concept by not having any controls and instead averaging the size of the balls and monsters (1 large=8 medium=64 small) and finding the point of balance each round and the maze tips that direction. It'd be a chunk of math each turn, but it would be suspenseful math.

Summary: Defend the fort!!

Some minor Kingmaker spoilers:

CR of the encounter: Actually several encounters, ranging from CR 3 to CR 7, with a CR 8 encounter to finish it off

Typ of encounter: Siege

Background: I ran this in Kingmaker. It can be a diplomacy-heavy AP, my group's diplomacy person was absent, and I knew our tactical people were itching for some tactical action.


For the initial set-up, I laid down a map of the fort my players were defending. I told them that mite troops were on the way, and I gave my players a set budget for defenses (a couple thousand GP), and some personnel residing at the fort. They went to some trouble to set up a defensive plan.

Then, I ran things in several waves.

Wave 1: A group of mites accompanied by a giant whiptail centipede. Their leader was a leveled mite mounted on a dire ant. The centipede climbed its way up the gate, then a horde of mites swarmed up on the centipede's back.

Wave 2: Two wasp swarms, as well as a (bomb throwing) mite alchemist mounted on a giant wasp. (I played a snatch of "Ride of the Valkyries" when she showed up). Alchemist tossed bombs from the air, while the swarms harried defenders.

Wave 3: Mites with little catapults (Mite-a-pults) as a comic relief adversary, with their boss (an 8th level/mythic tier 2 kobold summoner) leading the pack. The mites launched themselves at the walls, but mainly managed to splatter themselves.

Comment: It was glorious, actually. The battle took our entire game session. The mites and their chief provided few problems, but the wasp swarms gave my players a devil of a time. The most effective enemy (by far) was the summoner's eidolon, which the summoner enlarged and sent into the fort. I realized midway through that I'd made it way too tough, so toned it down on the fly. But the damn thing took out several NPCs and scared the bejesus out of my players.

After the mites were driven away, the confrontation ended in an extended confrontation between my players and the summoner with his eidolon. I pulled out about a dozen nasty little tricks, including a grease spell, some black tentacles, and a pellet blast. When the summoner (a long-running foe at that point) finally fell unconscious, EVERY SINGLE PC raced over to him to do a coup de grace. They really, really hated that little guy.

A couple more. No real spoilers here.

Summary: Traps or consequences

CR of the encounter: 1/2

Typ of encounter: RP encounter

Background: Kingmaker party. This two-part encounter was created to give some color to the adventure.

Encounter: First encounter: A fox. In a trap. Party could free the fox, or leave it alone as they chose. My party chose to free it.

Second encounter: A hunter. This guy was extremely ticked off. Somebody, he said, had freed a fox from a trap he'd set, and he'd lost some good money because of it. My players placated him by giving him 50 gold pieces.

Comment: My party was kind of nonplussed about the whole thing. But this portion of the adventure was a wilderness encounter. I wanted to give my players a little encounter that reminded them they weren't the only ones out there in the woods, and there were consequences to actions as innocuous as helping a trapped animal.

Do a chase but have a % chance that they need to fight through this round. Or just make some of the cards having to make an attack.

This would work like the barrel ride from Desolation from Smaug. Orcs are trying to catch you. Arrows flying, you need to dodge, hold on, swim, climb out pull a lever jump back in a barrel, sometimes an orc jumps on your barrel and you need to fight it off.

I did a chase through the jungle that had ruins in I though hundreds of veggie pygmies at the party. Enough so that they knew they would be swarmed. The started running full tilt through the woods starting the chase. Lots of skill challenge card but I also had a few cards opportunities for them to take shots at the enemy. Thow a behive at them, knock a pillar over to slow them down and so on.

Gnomezrule - can you explain how you make that work? Im not really sure about that yet.


Sure. First just to be sure make sure you are familiar with the chase rules.

Among the chase cards. For the jungle chase I had normal skill challenges but some were opportunities to foil the veggies chasing them. I had a behive rather than it just be perception to see and avoid it I made the option to bend back the branch and release it for a melee attack on the oncoming veggies. Another card was a relex save. If you made it a charging veggie pygmy basically jumped at you but you caught him. Option to throw him back melee -4 (unless your proficient in veggie pygmy. If they were on the same square with the veggies I simply allowed an a single attack as well as the chase movement.

For the barrel chase from the hobbit. I would simply change the nature of the skill challenges to saying afloat/upright in the barrel interspersed with opportunities to fight off or hinder the chasing orcs. For instance. For the river chase one of the dangerous elements is orc arrows so I would say that everyone can expect 1d3 arrows to be shot their way per round. The fast moving water and unexpected movements of the river grants you a +4 AC bonus. (This is largely cosmetic but over the course of the chase arrows will be zipping by).

1- Swirling Eddies- Avoid dizzying currents- Reflex save 15 to use a passing rock to redirect the barrel.
2- Back on Course- The barrel has made it toward the edge of the stream and out of the rapids. Meaning the orcs are closing in. Swim DC 20 to make it back to the faster waters.
3- Chop the branch- Ahead a low hanging branch Orcs have positioned themselves on a branch and they are using it to shoot arrows at you and your fellows as you pass. Hit it as you pass to chop or break the branch. AC 15.
4- Elven river gate- the elves have a river gate ahead one of the party will have to make the attempt to get to the lever to release the gate and hop back into an empty barrel. DC 15 STR strength check to lower lever, and then DC 20 Acrobatics to drop back into empty barrel.
5- Orc on Board- a blood thirsty orc has jumped onto the barrel your in. Make an attack to dislodge him in addition to damage.

This way its not just skill challenges per chase rules but it also is spiced in with attacks.

never ever saw the chase rules. Nice!

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Summary: Room with glass ceiling, that predicts hazards.

CR: Any CR really. Change the monsters and hazards in the room, to fit APL (if you want to :P ).

Type of Encounter: Mobility based combat encounter

Backgroud: Made the encounter for a friend to use in a homebrew gestalt campaign, where the players had to clear a tower of challenges.

Encounter: You can design dimensions to this room as you want, but I use a 60ft by 60ft room, with a 40ft high ceiling. Divide the room into 16 15ft squares, 4 rows of 4 squares. You now have a room that should look something like this:

1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4
1 2 3 4

With each number representing a 15 by 15 ft square, each line of 1234 being a row.

Now assign 2 hazards to each row, and place them in one the 15ft squares. Leave a gap between each hazard, so that it goes hazard - no hazard - hazard - no hazard. You can pick your own hazards, if you wish. My setup in the original draft was an area of reverse gravity, a floor-spike trap with poisoned spikes (that reset each round), an area of deeper darkness, a blade barrier, 2 torrents of insanity mist, and 2 lava-pits, all of these spread out and covering their own 15 ft square of the room.

Once the players enter the room (or observe it, if you have scouty players) start by rolling 1d4+1. In 1d4+1 rounds the placement of the hazards is going to change. Start by looking at row 1 - Pick a hazard and roll 1d4. Move the hazard to the area you rolled (If your lava-pit was in square 3 of its row, and you rolled a 1, the lava-pit is going to disappear from square 3 and reappear in square 1). Sometimes the dice will say their postion does not change(you roll the location the hazard was in before), but then just switch their location. Remember there will always be an area of no hazard, between each hazard, meaning you only have to roll once for each row, every 1d4+1 rounds.

Now spring an encounter on your players, while in the room.

The players (and their enemies) can predict the movement of the hazards, by spending a move-action to make a perception check (DC 12), to look at the ceiling, which changes to depict the new positioning of the hazards (but not -when- they will move).

Comment: I originally wanted the positioning of the hazards to be truly random, but it took up too much time with dice-rolls. As it stands, you have to roll 4d4s every 1d4+1 round, which is enough work on its own, while running an encounter on the side. First time I put it through a test-run, I found that it helps each group (players and enemies) to have a person dedicated to spotting the movement of the hazards, and warning his teammates where not to stand. I found that the result of this challenge is a highly mobile, chaotic combat sequence. For someone that may be a turn-off, but if that is what you want, this challenge -can- deliver. You could feasably make it even more chaotic, by changing which row the hazards appear in, rather than having them change position, but remain in the same row. And you could remove the hazard - no hazard rule, making it possible for 2 hazards to appear next to eachother in the same row. I'll leave that to you, should you wish to try this one out.

Additional comment: If you have players who liberally use flying, and dont want them to just fly around the hazards, use your imagination. Assign hazards that can hit flying creatures, or make it so the effects are floor-to ceiling (which could affect where you'd have to stand to see what the glass-ceiling predicts, in certain cases). Have some fun with it.

I hope you were entertained :)


Wasum wrote:
never ever saw the chase rules. Nice!

Curse of the Crimson Throne part 1 has a chase built in. There may be other APs that have one but I have been through that one. It might be good to see one of the published ones.

Curse of the Crimson Throne uses the extreme prototpe version of the chase rules if I recall. I would suggest looking elsewhere for an example.


Tels wrote:
Curse of the Crimson Throne uses the extreme prototpe version of the chase rules if I recall. I would suggest looking elsewhere for an example.

I definitly need to implement a chase soon:D

And thanks for all that great input, the collection gets better and better!

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