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Places/Terrain ideas

Odysseus

Explorer
The feedback I get from my players about my current 4E campaign is that interesting places & 3D terrain, makes the encounters more fun, with regard to the 4e rules for pushing & sliding etc.

So in your experince what terrain & places work best? Bear in mind I would have to draw it on a battlemat.

And second I am considering running some older modules with 4E. And I belive just converting the monster to 4E might not work. And I need to look at converting the encounter location as well.
Any ideas for easily adding thing to a room that might enhance the terrain?
The type of things I'm thinking of . Is that a room might say 20x20 room with 4 goblins. If i add things like a table(obstacle), a cask of beer spilled on the floor(hazard) , a fireplace(fire hazrd) etc the room become better for a 4E encounter.
 

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chronoplasm

First Post
Coffins make a good place to hide enemies and treasure and they make good cover.
Fireplaces or ovens are neat because creatures can get knocked into the flame and dealt damage.
I once had my party fighting against goblins in a kitchen. Goblins were jumping out of the cupboards and throwing plates and cutlery and whatnot. One of the hazards in the room was a deep-frier full of boiling grease.



My group has had a lot of fun, albeit a lot of confusion, with 3-D combat via altitude markers.
We use white chips, stacked under the mini, to indicate each square above ground level that the creature is at.
We use black chips to indicate each square below ground level.

Our terrain features a lot of deep pits and bodies of water so creatures can be below ground level, and a lot of high ledges and platforms so creatures can be above ground level.
It helps if you use color coding or some other visual cue to indicate the height or depth of everything.

It can be a bit complicated, but it allows for a lot of strategy in combat.
 

Charger28Alpha

First Post
Another way to represent height differences in battle is to draw a cross-section of the area. Our first encounter in the campaign I am in was in a circular tower. The second floor had collapsed onto ground floor, next to the stairs that went from where the 2nd floor had been up to the third floor was a rope, that hung down to 1st floor. There were also two wooden beans propped in rubble, one almost reached above mentioned stair way.

Our DM drew the floor, rubble and one beam on one side of battle mat, and the whole area, bottom of third floor to 1st floor, including rope and beams in cross section, on the other side of mat. When PC were on 1st floor we put our minis on that part of battle mat, when we were on rope or beam minis were placed on cross section.

Other additions to areas depend on where the area is and what it is/was used for.

Outdoors you can include trees (of all trunk sizes), uneven ground or thick low growth can act as difficult terrain, boulders of various sizes can provide cover, or can be climb onto for added height.

Indoors you can use furniture for many things such as cover, an improvised weapon, etc. Also include small items that would logically be found in room. Chronoplasm's examples are fantastic, I mean who does not like deep fried goblin fritters.
 


Zephrin the Lost

First Post
I've also explored converting older modules to 4e and I agree that you need to do more than simply update the monster. The big issues (imho) are:

1. Grind! 4e combats are very different than earlier editions. In olden days you could drop 3 ogres in a room and the team would mow them down at various speeds depending on what spells they had used already. You could have 'throwaway' encounters that meant little overall aside from providing XP and draining player resources. They could still be very fun, but didn't matter much overall.

In 4e, those ogres could take all night. And spending all night on a fight that's not that important to the overall isn't a great use of gaming time. So, recognize what you want each encounter in the module to be: If it's just a speedbump (and some 1e modules have plenty of speedbumps!), don't use a standard encounter, use an easier one.

2. Encounter overflow. In older editions, combining two encounters wasn't such a big deal (relatively) but there's plenty of evidence that in 4e, 2 standard encounters become 1 TPK. So be aware that something like The Caves of Chaos, where foes live close together can become a deathtrap if those goblins actually alert the ogre and he comes running- depending on what goblins you built into the encounter, of course.

As for terrain, the DMG spells it out very well. Make sure that the at least occasionally the PC's can use it against the bad guys as well as having it impede their efforts. Mix it up, try different things. Also, as 4e is so exception based, don't be hesitant to mix improved or single-encounter conditions/tactics up. In older editions, I think if you ruled that a thrown keg did x amounts of damage, you were kind of ruling that all kegs everywhere did x at all times. In 4e, using the damage expressions on pg 42, it's easier to say that this keg matters more in this fight and that's why is did X against a certain foe, but the next keg in the next fight is a different keg used against a different target so does different damage. Just make sure you’re being fair to the PC’s in such rulings and the flexibility will play well.

Wow, that's long. Anyway, just what's worked for me. YMMV.

--Z
 

Breezly

First Post
1. Grind! 4e combats are very different than earlier editions. In olden days you could drop 3 ogres in a room and the team would mow them down at various speeds depending on what spells they had used already. You could have 'throwaway' encounters that meant little overall aside from providing XP and draining player resources. They could still be very fun, but didn't matter much overall.

2. Encounter overflow. In older editions, combining two encounters wasn't such a big deal (relatively) but there's plenty of evidence that in 4e, 2 standard encounters become 1 TPK. So be aware that something like The Caves of Chaos, where foes live close together can become a deathtrap if those goblins actually alert the ogre and he comes running- depending on what goblins you built into the encounter, of course.

100% agree with these two statements. I have been going through updating the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh and I started by first trying to represent all of the 1e encounters as 4e encounters. The nice thing about 4e is it is relatively easy to stick with the idea of the 1e encounter and create a 4e encounter, you just have to decide if you want to make it easy, standard or hard. After going through this exercise I realized, as above, that this was way, way too many encounters. You have to then go through what is there and determine what is important to the adventure and what feeling you want to convey. I removed most of the seemingly unecessary encounters (rats, spiders, random scoundrels) and focused on a few key encounters that helped the story and added value to the adventure. By the time I was done I had taken more than half of the 1e encoutners and added in 4e encounters and a few skill challenges and traps to add spice. The ease of doing this with 4e actually made the process fun.

--Breezly
 

Odysseus

Explorer
100% agree with these two statements. I have been going through updating the Sinister Secrets of Saltmarsh and I started by first trying to represent all of the 1e encounters as 4e encounters. The nice thing about 4e is it is relatively easy to stick with the idea of the 1e encounter and create a 4e encounter, you just have to decide if you want to make it easy, standard or hard. After going through this exercise I realized, as above, that this was way, way too many encounters. You have to then go through what is there and determine what is important to the adventure and what feeling you want to convey. I removed most of the seemingly unecessary encounters (rats, spiders, random scoundrels) and focused on a few key encounters that helped the story and added value to the adventure. By the time I was done I had taken more than half of the 1e encoutners and added in 4e encounters and a few skill challenges and traps to add spice. The ease of doing this with 4e actually made the process fun.

--Breezly

Secrets of Saltmarsh is one of my favourite modules to run.
And I agree droping some of the ecounters is the way to go.
One of the other things I had in mind is combining some encounter. 2 or 3 close encounters in a 1e dungeon might work, but with 4e , it might be better if they we're combined.
 

Breezly

First Post
Secrets of Saltmarsh is one of my favourite modules to run.
And I agree droping some of the ecounters is the way to go.
One of the other things I had in mind is combining some encounter. 2 or 3 close encounters in a 1e dungeon might work, but with 4e , it might be better if they we're combined.

Yes, this would work well. The 1e encounters were relatively smaller in scale, combining them into larger 4e encounters works well. For example in U1, the lower dungeon has smugglers scattered in a few rooms. You can easily combine this into a larger, more difficult final encounter in stead of three smaller easy encounters. The encounter budget gives you a lot of flexibility.

--breezly
 

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