Creative combat objectives (other than "kill 'em all") - Page 3
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  1. #21
    This has some awesome scenario's, but what about settings?

    My suggestions:

    - Aboard a ship, during a storm (waves crashing in, slippery boards as well as the potential for "heroic" use of the terrain)

    - Aboard a ship, in the middle of a ship-to-ship combat. Cannons firing, parts of the terrain exploding, the ship rocking from hits. Sails and masts falling down.

    - Aboard two ships, during a boarding action. Two ships locked might mean both a scenario (get rid of the hooks/grapplers that hold the ships together) and interesting terrain with multiple levels of action.

    - Inside some kind of machine. Giant cogs moving, levers swinging out, every flat surface is a cog that spins. Add scenario: Either damage the machine (making it more dangerous every time you score a successful hit) or protect the machine (once again, becoming more and more dangerous).

    - On a collapsing bridge. Parts will fall off and once a hole appears, it generally widens, quickly. Perhaps the characters must make it over, or perhaps they must ensure it collapses completely, cutting off their enemies.

    - Near a dangerous something. Perhaps it is a Snatcher in the lake right by the gates, or a living cave that eats people. Whatever it is, the PCs must complete their mission/combat while avoiding certain areas (and perhaps pushing enemies into these?)

    - On icefloes, or stone floes in a lava river, or solidified ectoplasm in the Astral Sea.

  2. #22
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    These are all very interesting, and I don't recall seeing it before. I don't have anything to add, but I would like to make one point however. The 'Breakout' scenario may work fine in a miniatures game, but might not in an RPG game, unless the players are informed that they need to get out of dodge at the beginning. Otherwise, by the time they figure out that's what they're supposed to do it might be too late. (And the GM risks accusations of 'cheating' when the dead minions start respawning like a video game!)

  3. #23
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    I wonder how you might do a reverse of Whack-a-mole, where the PCs need to dismantle five sites before time runs out.

    The situation being, say, they need to wipe out five magical points providing a protective field, or remove the generators for the superweapon, or whatever. If they doddle too long, then reinforcements arrive, or non-combative engineers begin refixing it, etc.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed_Laprade
    The 'Breakout' scenario may work fine in a miniatures game, but might not in an RPG game, unless the players are informed that they need to get out of dodge at the beginning. Otherwise, by the time they figure out that's what they're supposed to do it might be too late. (And the GM risks accusations of 'cheating' when the dead minions start respawning like a video game!)
    I think most of these scenarios need to be carefully packaged in the game so that they fit seamlessly into the narrative (instead of looking like a pop-out "mini-game"). That means that the means by which reinforcements arrive (probably the most gamist element of most of these scenarios) needs to be plausibly explained so that there is no question of believability in the player's minds. In reference to your first comment, it may help if the DM has players roll a low Insight check to determine "you need to run".

    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan
    Also there is the concern that, well, they're minions. They're not that threatening. The PCs might dismiss them as non-threatening, until more than 3 are at the PCs' area.
    I used minions 1-2 levels above the players, and had the players outnumbered 5-to-1 at the start. They felt pretty threatened.

  5. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Halivar View Post
    Scenario: VIP Escort
    Objective: The party must ensure that a helpless VIP (a merchant, a courier, an injured nobleman) reaches an objective on the other side of the battle mat.
    Setup: The party begins surrounding the VIP on the opposite side of the battle mat from the objective. The mat should be covered in obstacles and cover for assassins to hide in (a town with streets and alleys is perfect for this). The encounter starts with 10 lurker minions and a non-minion leader (controller or artillery) hidden among the obstacles. The VIP has artillery monster stats, but with no attacks. Unlike monsters, the VIP obeys PC rules for death and dying, so if he falls he can be revived.
    In Play: The VIP only moves 5 squares and cannot double-move (he is either injured or encumbered). If attacked, he will stop and cower, and will not move until intimidated to move forward. Slain assassin minions and ringleaders return to new starting points when slain, and will not stop until either the VIP is dead, or the VIP escapes. Assassins will try to avoid the PC's as must as possible to get straight at the VIP.
    Ancillary Skill Checks: When the VIP cowers, the PC's must make an Intimidate check (easy) to get him moving forward again. Perception checks (against monster stealth rolls) determine if the PC's get early warning of attack. Players can identify likely ambush areas with a hard check in the appropriate skill (Streetwise in the city, Nature in the woods, Dungeoneering in a dungeon).
    I had an entire campaign based around a variant of this idea. The party was charged with bringing a young, blind elf girl to a nearby mountain peak, where she was going to be "the bride of the dragon." One player had to stick by her side the entire time in order to move her out of danger, as she didn't move on her own during combat situations (move action to move her; would be a minor action in 4e). It was interesting to see my players change their attitude from the standard "kill stuff to increase our funds" adventuring attitude to being genuinely heroic to keep the girl alive, to the extent where they debated with eachother at the base of the mountain whether they would take the girl to be sacrificed (that's what they assumed would be done with her), and she reminded them that they made a vow to deliver her to her destiny regardless of their moral quandary. It made the end all the more poignant when they reached their destination, and the girl turned into the dragon that they then had to fight. Because of the connection forged with the girl, it took them two rounds to actually get in the mindset to fight the dragon, and they all seem genuinely depressed when they had to kill her. It was totally awesome.

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    I think most of these scenarios need to be carefully packaged in the game so that they fit seamlessly into the narrative (instead of looking like a pop-out "mini-game").
    Depends on the 'mini-game' in question. Space Invaders seems a little contrived. Whack-a-mole also requires the PCs to be aware that Site X has gone active, and that level of omnipitence is hard to excuse, narratively.

    Quote Originally Posted by Halivar View Post
    I used minions 1-2 levels above the players, and had the players outnumbered 5-to-1 at the start. They felt pretty threatened.
    Actually, this makes me curious. You're using 50 + respawn minions of 1-2 levels higher against the party. That is a lot of potential XP. So, how are you handling XP for such a scenario? Is the XP going off the scenario, or the # of minoins?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rechan View Post
    Actually, this makes me curious. You're using 50 + respawn minions of 1-2 levels higher against the party. That is a lot of potential XP. So, how are you handling XP for such a scenario? Is the XP going off the scenario, or the # of minoins?
    You could make it a flat XP-bonus, or you can do what I did: the minions helping the PC's get a cut of the XP, as well. In the end, they got ~800 XP a piece at level 5, which I feel is appropriate.

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    Interesting thread.

    I'm actually running a session of my campaign tonight in which the pcs will be leading units of troops in a holding action. Their "victory condition" is basically to keep their losses under a certain level and destroy a certain combination of quality and quantity of enemy troops. The assumption is that they will eventually be forced to fall back (they are facing a superior force and a probable siege).

  9. #29
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    Our alternate DM ran variations on 'Last Stand' and 'Breakout', as a series of encounters to fill out a couple weeks while I wrote some more material. One thing (that has been mentioned already) that is critical is to make sure the players have a good idea of what they need to do.

    'Last Stand' consisted of holding the keep wall against '25,000 orcs'. There were dozens of NPCs milling about in the courtyard, combatants and non- both. The object was to coerce them into the keep as well as hold the wall while this withdrawal took place. Being the kill-happy bunch we were, we simply defended the wall, slaughtering the baddies in droves. It wasn't until the catapult stones started landing at random, busting holes in the wall and squashing the innocents, that we realized there was more to it than we thought.

    Later, as we were escaping the keep through an underground dwarven fortress, we entered a massive pillared chamber rapidly filling up with dwarven zombies. There was a huge door on the far wall (might as well had a 'EXIT HERE' sign above it) that, of course, we failed to heed until we were nearly overrun.

    In both cases, the encounters were a lot of fun once we got going; they just needed their objectives defined.

    Just to add one:
    Scenario: Lock the Damn Gate!
    Objective: Keep the ravenous horde from entering the town.
    Setup: Similar to some of these other encounters, the PCs are alerted by shouting from the town gate.
    In Play: The PCs had to make numerous choices (and I think this is a key to making one of these encounters fun) as they tried to help the hapless two guards hold the gate:
    1. Help the one guard push the gate shut
    2. Fight the zombies that had already gotten through
    3. Help the other guard, who got overwhelmed (this was a FAIL)
    4. Climb the wall and pour the boiling oil (which the guards had managed to light) down on the enemy
    5. Go get help, etc.

    Ancillary Skill Checks: Athletics to help push the gate shut. Athletics to quickly climb the ladder to the top of the gate.


    In another earlier encounter, the PCs had to fight their way into the town, by breaking the siege at a different gate while convincing the doubting guards to lower the drawbridge ("Just where the Hells have you guys been while we've been defending the town?").


    ETA: One way to give out XP for these types of encounters is x points per objective reached, ie., 200xp per innocent saved, or 500xp per wagon in the caravan that reaches town safely.

  10. #30
    Quote Originally Posted by Halivar View Post
    In reference to your first comment, it may help if the DM has players roll a low Insight check to determine "you need to run".
    This is a good tactic to keep in mind for any DM that finds his players are a little too "kick-in-the-door" style for him (or for certain encounters).

    I've always been a very benevolent DM, but the older I get, the less benevolent I become. I suspect I might see the first TPK as I run Red Hand of Doom soon. There's a few nasty encounters there.

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