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5E Stampede

I want an encounter for my level 10 adventures where they are traveling through the woods and a stampede of beasts come charging through i was wondering how you would run it and if they get caught in it how much damage and such should they take thank you in advance
 

pukunui

Adventurer
Depending on the specifics, I would probably make it either a Dex save to avoid getting caught up in the stampede or a Con save to simply survive getting buffeted about and trampled on and such. You could maybe make it a series of checks and saves, rather than just one, if you want it to be more complex.

In terms of damage, I'd most likely use one of the tables in the DMG, either the Damage Severity by Level table (pg 121) or the Improvising Damage table (pg 249).


EDIT: If a player wants their character to "go with the flow", you could allow them to make an Intelligence check that would grant them advantage on their next save. If they want to cast a spell to startle the beasts and have them change direction or something, you could allow them to do that as well. Be open and flexible to the players' ideas.
 
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MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
I would recommend first telegraphing the danger to the players first. Describe how the more perceptive characters start to hear a low rumbling, then the noise quickly escalates and finally they start to feel the ground and surroundings shake. Then ask what the characters do. Give them each an action (or two if you're generous) to do something to protect themselves. Climbing a nearby, sturdy looking tree could be possible and require an athletics check. Perhaps there is a river or cave nearby to dart into for shelter. Then when the stampede hits you can throw some complications their way. For instance the tree a character has climbed is taking some hits, have them make a strength saving throw to hang on.
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
I’d figure out how many rounds the PCs will have to endure the stampede and then once it hits use their choices to determine what happens (of course telegraphing the looming threat as Monkeez suggests).

Having it occur over 3 rounds (for example) gives lots of opportunity for surprises and excitement. And hey perhaps some other creature follows a PC up the same tree and doesn’t appreciate the company :) they aren’t the only things in the woods. In fact fleeing creatures is a great way to telegraph the threat.
 

Eltab

Villager
Use swarm rules, but make the swarm a dozen-ish squares big. It auto-attacks anything it runs over during its move; maybe "sword-blow"-scale damage with a push aside. Plus anybody who is in its square(s) at the end of its turn receives a deer / elk trample attack.
Think for a bit beforehand and write down some descriptive notes. This ought to be something the players remember, not "just another random encounter". Maybe you can find a National Geographic article or something to inspire you?

Getting run over by a half-dozen deer can be quite discombobulating - ask any car that faced a challenge for the right-of-way.
 
S

Sunseeker

Guest
A stampede in the forest? How does that even work?
THANK YOU.

You don't get stampedes in the forest. Stampeding animals tend to be primarily limited to large open spaces (horses, bison, cattle, etc..) and they percieve, during a stampede, things fairly simply: "what is open" is where they'll go. "what is moving" is part of the herd and "what is not moving" as where not to go. Forests by and large present large obstacles and tell their instinctive animal brains "don't go here!"
 

jasper

Rotten DM
THANK YOU.

You don't get stampedes in the forest. Stampeding animals tend to be primarily limited to large open spaces (horses, bison, cattle, etc..) and they percieve, during a stampede, things fairly simply: "what is open" is where they'll go. "what is moving" is part of the herd and "what is not moving" as where not to go. Forests by and large present large obstacles and tell their instinctive animal brains "don't go here!"
What you never seen any documentary, where the animals dash out the forest fire and the firemen duck out of the way? So stampede is not the officially correct American English word. Do you have one?
 
I think this is a connotation vs. denotation issue. The dictionary definition (as seen at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/stampede?s=t) does not specify "open spaces", but does mention "frightened animals" (like those escaping the fire in [MENTION=277]jasper[/MENTION]'s post), but the connotation (largely from to Western and Tarzan movies) is of large animals on an open plane. This is useful since the DM should have to decide what kind (or at least how large) of animals are stampeding. If it is a bunch of big animals, I would treat it as if two animals attacked each PC every round, if it is a bunch of little animals, one or two swarms should do it, and if it is a mix, maybe one large animal and one swarm per round.
 

pogre

Adventurer
What you never seen any documentary, where the animals dash out the forest fire and the firemen duck out of the way? So stampede is not the officially correct American English word. Do you have one?
I think stampede is appropriate. The description of woodland animals dashing ahead of Jackson's men at the Battle of Chancellorsville in the American Civil War was described in the official war diaries of at least two units as a stampede of deer and other creatures.

As for the original post, I would keep it fairly simple group of dexterity checks with minor damage. What can be sometimes unnerving is to see major predators fleeing along side multitudes of prey animals. This gives the sense something really scary is coming!
 

Nevvur

Explorer
I think this is a connotation vs. denotation issue. The dictionary definition (as seen at http://www.dictionary.com/browse/stampede?s=t) does not specify "open spaces", but does mention "frightened animals" (like those escaping the fire in [MENTION=277]jasper[/MENTION]'s post), but the connotation (largely from to Western and Tarzan movies) is of large animals on an open plane. This is useful since the DM should have to decide what kind (or at least how large) of animals are stampeding. If it is a bunch of big animals, I would treat it as if two animals attacked each PC every round, if it is a bunch of little animals, one or two swarms should do it, and if it is a mix, maybe one large animal and one swarm per round.
Yeah, my hangup is mostly on the use of the word stampede. It's certainly possible for a herd of panicked deer in the woods to present some danger, but it's not going to be a tide of flesh and hooves like in open terrain. As I imagine it, the biggest danger is trying to predict which way a panicked animal is going to go. These deer aren't being forced to take any particular path, and they're agile enough to evade predators in this terrain. They certainly don't want to collide with anything, whether its a tree or a PC.

If I were running this scene, any PC who has the (common?) sense to get behind a tree gets a free pass. The risk would be minimal for someone standing in the open and remaining still. In this case, have a deer make a DC 5 Dexterity save against each PC in the open. That'll produce a 10% chance of colliding with a PC. Switch it to an attack roll with disadvantage if the PC is actively trying to dodge out of the way (roughly 16% chance to hit against AC 16, I think). Do the rolls for each round the herd is moving through the PCs. Probably lasts 2-5 rounds. Damage is 1d4 on a deer failed save or successful attack.

Yeah, it's a drop in a bucket o' HPs for level 10 PCs. While I think this is an interesting and exciting scenario from a narrative standpoint, it's mechanically trivial, but I'd be fine with that. At this point the party is dealing with threats to the entire land. A herd of panicking mammals shouldn't even be a speed bump. This encounter is cool for telegraphing whatever caused the 'stampede,' though. Hopefully that is more threatening to the party.
 

Oofta

Title? I don't need no stinkin' title.
When I set up encounters I go through the same basic questions. What's the in-game reason for the encounter? Is it just a logical result of actions by the PCs or others? Does it move the plot forward or add to the story? Will it be fun? Is it logically consistent with the world I envision?

What's the in-game reason for the stampede? What kind of creatures are going to be involved? While people tend to think of forests being where the wild things are, the truth is that prairies or mixed prairie/grassland are where you tend to get large herds, not forests. But it's your world and if it makes sense then go for it.

Next, what's the meta-game purpose of the encounter? Attrition? Flavor text with minimal real danger? A directed stampede as an attack on the PCs? A mix of things with a chance for the PCs to show some ingenuity? As has been mentioned, you can look at expected damage in the DMG, as for the rest I'd kind of play it by ear.

If I were to run a stampede encounter I'd do a lot more than just a single reflex save. Instead of a saving throw what about a reaction/single action? Perhaps a perception to give you advantage to use a skill, if it's high enough to take a full turn instead of just a single action.

After that I'd consider treating it like a combat round with possibility of people being surprised with a swarm/mob trample attack (strength save or knocked prone) with adjustments based on what they attempt.
  • Perception 5 or less, the PC is surprised and the swarm "attacks" with advantage.
  • Perception 6-10, PC is surprised.
  • Perception 11-15, PC has a single action or move half their speed to dive behind a tree or try to grab a low-hanging branch. Nature or investigation check as a reaction to determine where to avoid the herd. Success means they avoid the worst of it getting 3/4 cover and resistance to damage.
  • Perception 16+, PC is not surprised at all and gets advantage on the nature or investigation check from above.
  • A poor perception (less than 10) means the PC is caught totally off guard and get no bonuses, the "swarm" may even have advantage to hit if the perception check is less than 5.


So basically, if they have a high enough perception check they may avoid the worst of it but then jump behind that fallen tree, it doesn't help that much because it's rotten which they didn't notice when they failed their nature check.

The second (and possibly) third rounds the PCs could help each other, but other thing might happen as well such as trees getting knocked over, etc.

But as I said, it depends on what the purpose of the encounter is. It could just be as simple as box text that you narrate for flavor or have other complex situations as a result of the stampede. It also kind of depends on what is stampeding - a colony of rabbits running by is odd, a herd of elephants could be deadly and knock over trees.
 

aco175

Explorer
Which animals are large enough for a stampede in the woods. I first thought of forest animals fleeing a fire and the fire itself being the threat. You could also have dinosaurs or dragons for level 10 PCs. A little far fetched, but would do the job where deer would not. My PCs would investigate why the herd was fleeing someplace and go explore it. If it is a fire-ok, they avoid it or fly by level 10. A flood would also work, or lava- but that should have been noticed by quakes and such for the last few days, weeks. Truly fantastic could involve a fleet of flying ships attacking each other and the PCs need to avoid the crashing debris as they try to climb on board of an intact ship.
 

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