Fantastic Features to Spice up a Chase

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  1. #1

    Fantastic Features to Spice up a Chase

    Recently listening to a podcast on critical hits about skill challenges, I was given a lightbulb above my head when I heard the interviewee mention an example of a boring skill challenge - crossing a rickety bridge, vs. its more fantastical counterpart - same said bridge is on fire and thePCs are being chased by trolls.

    In my upcoming session on Sunday it is very likely that my PCs will engage in a skill challenge with the Narrows Twins - two tiefling villains that I augmented from the lady of the shadows adventure in the FR campaign guide. As it happens, most likely they will say the wrong thing when they approach these twins at a local crossroads - an area where caravaners and merchants set up camp and stands to solicit their wares to travelers. And then , a chase will ensue, both twins running in opposite directions forcing the party members to decide which one they will chase.

    So here's my question - what sort of fantastic elements could I add to the setting that would add spice to the SC and also allow for more varied skills to be used to catch these guys?

    Any and all suggestions welcome. Thanks.

  2. #2
    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)

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    Fantastic elements is kinda tricky, since the setting you've described is so mundane. We need to have the chases lead the party through fantastic areas, I guess.

    Okay, so it's a crossroads, big market going on, etc.

    One thing -- help your players a little by making it clear right from the outset that the two chases will have very different flavors -- so have one take off into the wilderness, and the other tear off through the market.

    Twin A flips a basket of grain to give himself a moment to disappear into the crowd, and he starts zipping through the packed market. PCs trying to keep up might use acrobatics (dodge through), intimidate(get the hell out of my way), or insight (he'll probably try to lead pursuit through that smelly cheese stall, I can try to cut him off there).

    Twin B sets off at a dead run for nearby woods, quickly trying to use his ahtletic ability and the cover provided by the underbrush to lose the PCs. PCs will initially use Athletics (just running hard), perception (to keep an eye on him) and nature (knowing/guessing the lay of the land) to try to keep up

    The two chases move into more interesting terrain from there.

    Twin A, cutting through the crowd, is cut off from a quick escape by PC action and ducks into a big tentpole shrine -- think revivalist tent D&D style. There is a service going on, chants being sung -- maybe it's a wedding ceremony. When the PCs duck into the tent, they have lost sight of the twin, who has donned the robe of one of the many participants in the ceremony. Spend some time talking about the magical binding ritual (after all, a wedding ceremony in a magical world would have some pretty wild special effects, I'm sure). They can try to move through the participants subtly (using Stealth to avoid notice, perception to try to spot the twin, and maybe religion to try to spot a participant who looks out of place). Should the PCs decide to make a scene, forgoing stealth and waving weapons around, the whole tent full of faithful and family tries to wrestle and subdue the PCs -- they must succeed on athletics or acrobatics checks to squirm out of the grasp of the crowd and continue their pursuit. Once spotted or reverlaed, the twin cuts his way through the back of the tent and is on to the next stage.

    Twin B, on the other hand, leads the PCs through the woods and through the territory of a nymph that has a bargain with the twins. As they continue their pursuit, they burst into a clearing where a buxom nymph tries to lure one or more of them into a tryst, forgetting the chase. Each PC in the chase is subject to an attack against will -- those that are hit are drawn into the Nymph's embrace. Those that avoid that attack can make heal/intimidate/arcana checks to try to break an ally out of the tryst, or they can continue the pursuit and leave the ally behind (effectively dropping them out of the chase).

    Third stage, the twins need to circle back towards an agreed-upon meeting place -- they're not leaving each other in the lurch, after all. As it turns out, the two are taking circuitous routes to the same location -- a nearby inn where their horses are stabled.

    Twin A dashes into the main entrance of the inn, causing another flurry of spilled drinks and angry patrons to get in the PC's way.

    Twin B vaults the corral fence and races into the stable from the back. Maybe there are some monstrous/interesting mounts and other animals to contend with in the corral. bad tempered lizards and so on.

    Then the two ride off together -- PCs can try to hire horses and continue the pursuit.


  3. #3
    wow - what a great response. Thanks RG.

    I love the tent with ritualistic ceremonies for the wedding. I'm thinking since its a relatively provincial area, there could be some con-artist who does low-cost marriages (think Vegas) who gets totally PISSED when the PCs disrupt his already borderline operation. Great opportunity to introduce some new NPCs as well.

    The nymph idea is great. I finally have a reason to introduce a seductive naked fey creature. I've been waiting for that opportunity, my group will love it.
    A question for any reading - why would two tieflings part of a thieves organization have a bond with a nymph of this sort? I'm sure I can come up with something but if there's any more ideas out there...

    And I absolutely love the idea that they circle back around to an established meeting place...and I'm thinking since its the Lady of the Shadows gang that they are part of, they should have some sort of shadow or shade based mount, any suggestions?

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    Myrmidon (Lvl 10)

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    The arrangement with the Nymph need not be incredibly friendly -- perhaps they're holding something over her. It might, however, be more interesting if she's actually in love with one of the twins. She's been tricked into drinking some sort of love potion and is loopy for the twin who runs through the forest and gets her to try to delay the pursuit. She loathes his brother, though.

    I'd be careful with the con artist thing -- it's workable, but is it a confusing subplot that you don't need to worry about in a scene that's supposed to be a frenetic chase?

    For shadow-based mounts, you might aswell go for Nightmares (they're in the compendium). Maybe they have potions or something that will turn their ordinary horses into Nightmares temporarily, so the normal-looking horses suddenly turn all black and evil and flamy and can teleport themselves and their riders out of a tight spot.


  5. #5
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    I have run a great chase like this a while ago, it was really fun and a bit deadly. The idea was that two villains split up, both were particularly nasty elite monsters. There were six PCs, if three or more PCs were attacking a villain the villain would run and try and do things so that it lost 1 or 2 of the pursuers. If the villain was fighting one person they would try and kill them, if faced with two, they would use their very nasty recharge powers, then disengage and flee. Rinse and repeat.

    The idea was to make a series of very hard challenges, if a PC failed, then the PC that did succeeded might find themselves fighting a powerful foe one on one for a while, until the other guys caught up.

    I had 8 different maps available and cut the fights up into scenes. All of this was pre-prepared, so as not to make too much work on myself. The villains were very very good shifting and getting away from the PCs, but they could only use that ability now and then. So they fought for a couple of turns before getting the option to run away again.

    Some of the scenes included:
    - A fight on the back of speeding wagons
    - A fight on the top of a castle wall. Since the PCs did badly on the proceeding challenge, they had to scale the wall while the bad guy stood at the top taking OAs on them, or let him go.
    - They did well on one challenge, so in the outdoor scene they caught the bad guy in the middle of a stream, giving them longer to pound on him before he could get away.
    - The rooftop of a crumbling cathedral during a thunderstorm.
    - The middle of a gangland brawl which had nothing to do with either the PCs of the villain.

    Some of the complications included:
    - Getting the wagon to chase the guy, nature skills, athletics, diplomacy etc to get the wagoneers to help, intimidate to carjack the wagon etc.
    - One of the bad guys stabbed (non-fatally) a random pregnant lady on the way past. The PCs had to delay to use healing skill to save her. This was great as it separated the party with the knight stopping to take care of her and the thief charging on ended up having to fight the guy for a few turns alone.
    - A bad guy lit an old peoples home on fire as he ran past. A quick stop to rally the townsfolk was very successful and they hardly lose any time at all, thanks to the Skald.
    - Streetwise/Stealth to avoid the gangs that the guy has just run through in the city.
    - Nature/Perception to track the guy when they lost him outdoors
    - Auto successes were available in some instances if they split up to search. This led to an interesting situation where only one PC finds the bad guy and has to try to delay him and not die while his friends arrive.

    The whole thing turned a relatively easy fight into being really deadly indeed. The poor bard and thief who were good at skill challenges were always the first to close with the guy, but were often left standing alone against a very nasty fight for a few turns each. Only a critical success from the paladin led to him stopping the bad guy from doing a coup de grace on the thief before anyone could arrive to stop him.

    I recommend giving it a go, chase scenes mixed with combat are very fun. I really like the challenge that facing an enemy alone brings and the sense of triumph that comes with beating him down 3v1 when you succeed in the skill challenges.

  6. #6
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    I did a race/chase sequence in game some time ago- I think there's a dungeon module called a race through town- or some such.

    Anyway my chase included-
    Stealing rowboats and crossing the river, or else swinging from ships rigging to do the same- tarzan-like.
    Chased over rooftops- of foundaries (hot) or nasty (with rats et al).
    A bridge with a horse and cart blocking the way- kill or coax out the animal to get past.
    A marketplace chase in which failures lead to PCs mistakenly buying things from an ongoing auction, or being targeted by pickpockets, or holy men etc.
    Chase through the slums complete with beggars, thieves and the inebraited.


    A lot of fun.

    Cheers PDR
    Check out my 4E Campaign- HARD CORE a final attempt to play through the WOTC core modules- obviously we've made a few changes along the way.

    Or else there's my Let's Play scenarios, a bunch of one-off games, mostly, you'd best go check out the list.

    Let's Play series also available, all in one place, at Obsidian Portal.

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