D&D 5E Out of the Abyss: Pursuit! (Spoilers)

Goober4473

Explorer
The pursuit system in OotA is kinda cool, but I thought I'd make it a bit more exciting, and clue the players in on the stress-inducing imminence of their capture.


Here's my plan: Give the players three cards, two representing scouts and one representing the main drow force. Each card has five pursuit track boxes, which increase/decrease as the original pursuit track did, plus the scouts advance an extra box every day. One set of scouts begins at 4 boxes, the other at 2 or 3, and the main force at 1 or 2. When a pursuer reaches 5 boxes, they overtake the PCs and a chase or combat happens. Since it's an encounter, each other pursuer also gets a box checked, so the very fast scouts should be encountering the players pretty constantly if they don't travel at a fast pace consistently, and each time they do, the main force advances a little bit faster.


I'm thinking perhaps the two sets of scouts shouldn't ever share a pursuit level, so I might have them leapfrog over each other if that would happen. And my plan is to have covering your tracks reduce only the pursuit track of the closest pursuer, as they pick up the trail again.


My plan is for the scout parties to be initially quite potent for the party's level, but they might be able to eventually start taking them out, though new scouts will take their place eventually.


What you you all think?
 

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Awesome Adam

First Post
That is going to lead to way more Drow encountes than originally intended.

The pursuit rules allow the PCs to stay out of the Drow's reach, as long as they keep moving, especially if they are moving fast.

Your system would have them harrassed by drow regularly.

There are plenty of other interesting encounters in the Underdark, that regular Drow attacks would get repetitive fast.

Day 1 Escape
Day 2 Scouts attack.
Day 3 Travel slow enough to not get ambused and find food.
Day 4 Scouts attack
Day 5 Main Drow Force Attacks
Day 6 Escape from Prison Again
Day 7 repeat
 

Goober4473

Explorer
The intent is to keep the party moving at fast pace, as if they're actually in a hurry and have enemies on their tail. Though I think I'm going to nix the pursuit increase on random encounters, since those really shouldn't be taking more than a couple minutes, and I think I'll start with only one scouting party, and ramp them up a bit more when encounters with them are less deadly, and killing scouting parties becomes viable.

So I'd say we're looking more like:

Day 1 Escape; Scouts at 4, main force at 2.
Day 2 Travel at fast pace; Scouts still at 4, main force at 1.
Day 3 Travel at normal pace, cover tracks (which I'm having reduce only the closest pursuer's track) and forage; Scouts still at 4, main force still at 1.
Day 4 Travel at normal pace, fail to cover tracks while foraging; Encounter with scouts, who return to 4, main force bumps up to 1.
Day 5 Travel at fast pace over convenient terrain feature; Scouts at 3, main force at 0.
etc.

[Edit]: I'm definitely going with the one scouts start. Here's my current plans:

Start: Scouts, Main Force; 2 boxes each.
After Gracklstugh: Scouts, Main Force, 0 boxes each. After 1d4+1 days, add extra scouts. Replace dead scouts at pursuit equal to Main Force after 1d4+1 days.
 
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ZzarkLinux

First Post
I like your idea for scouts. Using full blown drow might be too strong. I think it would be a great 1-off encounter during a trek down a long tunnel, but after using it once, then just replace the drow scouts with summoned minions to simplify things.

For your idea, adding drow scouts would definitely threaten the PCs and add a new layer of complication to escape. And 1 scout alone could be a very big threat. The scout could hit multiple PCs with a DrowSleepPoison dart that incapacitates them for 8hours. The scout could act as a camper / sniper to every little thing the PCs do. The scout could cut a rope bridge when the PCs are crossing. Drow Scouts are a very powerful threat, so it almost seems like you are just speeding up the Priestess encounter to hit the party multiple times, where your idea is great for a 1-off encounter.

The cards are a novel idea, but you are giving the players more work without benefitting them. If you want to telegraph the threat level to the PCs, then just use summoned monsters instead of drow. The priestess summons five assasin spiders, and depending on how close the pursuit is, then 1-5 summoned spiders find the PCs. They don't need an encounter, just have the summons watch from the shadows when the party is resting... If there is nobody on guard duty then just Good Game them with a spider's sleep poison :)
 

Goober4473

Explorer
I like your idea for scouts. Using full blown drow might be too strong. I think it would be a great 1-off encounter during a trek down a long tunnel, but after using it once, then just replace the drow scouts with summoned minions to simplify things.

For your idea, adding drow scouts would definitely threaten the PCs and add a new layer of complication to escape. And 1 scout alone could be a very big threat. The scout could hit multiple PCs with a DrowSleepPoison dart that incapacitates them for 8hours. The scout could act as a camper / sniper to every little thing the PCs do. The scout could cut a rope bridge when the PCs are crossing. Drow Scouts are a very powerful threat, so it almost seems like you are just speeding up the Priestess encounter to hit the party multiple times, where your idea is great for a 1-off encounter.

The cards are a novel idea, but you are giving the players more work without benefitting them. If you want to telegraph the threat level to the PCs, then just use summoned monsters instead of drow. The priestess summons five assasin spiders, and depending on how close the pursuit is, then 1-5 summoned spiders find the PCs. They don't need an encounter, just have the summons watch from the shadows when the party is resting... If there is nobody on guard duty then just Good Game them with a spider's sleep poison :)

Regular drow are only CR 1/4. I'd probably use a small number of drow plus 1 or 2 quaggoths, at least initially. The exact encounters will probably vary, especially as levels increase. I want the idea of letting even the scouts catch up to be pretty terrifying at first, but by the time the PCs are level 3 or 4, they should feel a bit more confident in taking the scouts out to buy more time before they're replaced, worrying more about staying ahead of the main force, which is much easier to do.

Is there some special Drow Scout monster that I'm missing? All I meant by scouts is a forward party travelling at a fast pace.

Also, how is having some random spiders show up telegraphing a threat? How is that better than scouts?

As for the cards, I want there to be a constant visual reminder on the table that the drow are chasing them. It's very little extra work to check/uncheck some boxes.
 
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ZzarkLinux

First Post
Your idea of "letting the party grow beyond the threat" is cool, though it will lead to more encounters. If your goal is more encounters, then great :) My dissenting opinion is that it may get overused or tedious if not done well.

Regular drow are only CR 1/4
A 1/4 CR drow can still cut a rope the PCs are climbing. A 1/4 CR drow can still shout "Wake Up" when the party is sneaking past a sleeping giant. A 1/4 CR drow can still cover every pitfall trap with fungus ... That 1/4 CR drow doesn't need to roll initiative to kill the PCs !!

Also, how is having some random (summoned) spiders show up telegraphing a threat? How is that better than scouts?
Because summoned vermin don't make the PCs roll initiatve. Again, this is just an option if you want more "out of combat" threat. The threat is save-or-die if the PCs rest without a guard duty. The threat level is telegraphed based on the number of vermin that locate the PCs. The scouts / minions are an in-game method of telegraphing.

As for the cards, I want there to be a constant visual reminder on the table that the drow are chasing them. It's very little extra work to check/uncheck some boxes.
Yes, but the cards are an out-of-game solution to an in-game problem. You should threaten the PCs in-game. You should visully remind the players in-game. The players already have to track the NPCs, including an orc, a shield dwarf, and a sentient sponge. I'm under the impression that encounters and monster-mechanics should be tracked by the DM. Let the players worry about their own skin :)
 

Goober4473

Explorer
Your idea of "letting the party grow beyond the threat" is cool, though it will lead to more encounters. If your goal is more encounters, then great :) My dissenting opinion is that it may get overused or tedious if not done well.

Luckily, I plan to do it well.

Yes, but the cards are an out-of-game solution to an in-game problem. You should threaten the PCs in-game. You should visully remind the players in-game. The players already have to track the NPCs, including an orc, a shield dwarf, and a sentient sponge. I'm under the impression that encounters and monster-mechanics should be tracked by the DM. Let the players worry about their own skin :)

Is it an in-game problem though? It's as much, if not more, an issue of pacing the story and setting the scene than it is an issue of presenting the players with a problem. It allows the players to make more narrative decisions and participate in the storytelling more, rather than be restricted to making decisions based solely on what their characters know. "Metagaming" tends to be a big nasty buzzword in D&D, but I'm more interested in dolling out information in a way that makes the game engaging, rather than adhering to strict in-game limits. Which is to say, that's just how I run things, so I'm not worried.

As for the NPC companions, I already solved that problem.
 

ZzarkLinux

First Post
I keep forgetting how fast combats work in 5e. With multiple combats at the "fast pace" you mention, I'm sure your PCs will despise the drow before they even get to Grackletoug :)

My earlier comment about "done well" was off key. I just have a past grudge against DMs who have forced extra rulesets onto partys. Sounds like you have a good plan with the Collaborative Storytelling.

Do you intent the scouting party to be a smaller-skirmish or a "bigger" fight?
Do you plan to make the drow scout party related to that Fungus City (I forget the name) in the adventure? There is a drow group at that one city in the adventure, maybe you can tie the scouts into that?
Do you have access to PotA book? They have a BurrowShark which would fit into the underdark area well too.
 

Goober4473

Explorer
Do you intent the scouting party to be a smaller-skirmish or a "bigger" fight?
Do you plan to make the drow scout party related to that Fungus City (I forget the name) in the adventure? There is a drow group at that one city in the adventure, maybe you can tie the scouts into that?
Do you have access to PotA book? They have a BurrowShark which would fit into the underdark area well too.

The scouts will likely be a few drow and a couple of quaggoth, at least during the initial portion before Gracklstugh.

The scouts are just part of the drow the PCs escaped from.

I do not. I'm playing in that adventure, so no spoilers. ;)
 

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