What's your favorite encounter?

VagueDolphin

Villager
I will fully admit, I want ideas to steal for my game. I'm not quite at my burnout point, but I can always appreciate a good rpg story


One of my favorite encounters was a simple one. The party was in a mountain that held an ancient dwarven keep. As they were exploring an abandoned tunnel in a mine, it dead-ended to a cliff with an unmeasurable drop. All of a sudden, blocking the party's exit was an umber hulk. If you're unfamiliar, umber hulks are giant beetles with hypnotizing eyes. In 5E the eyes effectively causes a confusion kind of effect that can force random movement, including off a cliff. The party understood the potential danger of being caught under the charm of the umber hulk. Fortunately, they killed the bug before someone was forced to jump. I remember my players being really into that one

Anyone else have a good encounter to share?
 

ignu

Villager
We cased a casino for a heist. We watched what happened when a disturbance happened and then caused one the next night.

The wizard's spider familiar webbed a bead of force to himself to create an explosion on the other side of the casino, and we illusioned a closed door over an open one while the office was looted. A changeling impersonating a guard kept watch. (The whole heist played out as we rolled initiative)

Of course everything went awry, but we were able to get away with some misty steps and fog and thaumaturgy scaring the patrons into a running horde.
 

Shiroiken

Adventurer
Yea, I found out badly that confusion on narrow areas is a bad combination. Had a high level PC fail against the spell while on the Demonweb (Q1 - Queen of the Demonweb Pits), and he wandered off the edge into the Abyss. They needed a wish to restore him, but they had the resource by that level.

Favorite one that I ran in 5E was a medusa as a solo monster against a 6th level party. By CR, this was an ultra easy fight, so I decided to spice it up... a lot. Her lair was a labyrinth of shortish passages with lots of twists and turns. She wore a pair of boots of striding and springing. Between 95% of the intersections was a 20' long pit that she could jump over with ease, due to the boots, but she wouldn't be seen jumping until she was out of sight.

Her strategy was to stay 1 intersection ahead of the party, firing arrows, then move. If anyone followed, they fell into the pit for some damage, but also extra time to have to get out. If they closed their eyes, they had no chance to notice/avoid the pit traps, but if they didn't they'd risk petrification. If someone did manage to get over a pit, they'd have to suffer potential petrification or be unable to attack (since they didn't know where she was). If the party would have attempted to go slowly (they didn't, but if) she also had stealth, and would have realized what they were doing and snuck up behind them to surprise them again.

The party's rogue figured out the trick quickly, but didn't tell the party. He went off his own direction, feeling out the edges of the labyrinth, then eventually snuck up on her. The rest of the party eventually got separated due to their own actions (mostly falling into pits and trying to catch up/find the fight. When the paladin got within one intersection (he could hear the cursing) while she was at the edge of the labyrinth, he snuck up on her and sneak attacked. This put in a bad spot, because if she fled down the only other path, she'd run into another PC (who was also cursing up a storm). She tried to kill the rogue in a round, but this gave the paladin time to catch up, along with the bard. With the bonus to saves by being close to the paladin, they didn't fear petrification, and she was quickly cut down.

I have no idea if the players enjoyed that encounter, but I enjoyed it immensly. I know it was frustrating as hell, because they were constantly prevented from being able to actually do much harm to her, plus they kept falling (literally) for the pit traps. Once they managed to corner her, she was dead in a little more than 1 round, and that was with half the party. Only 1 PC was petrified, and the party had a ring of wishes (that had been deliberately set in the adventure for things like this), and used it to free the PC, plus about a half dozen NPCs who joined them on their quest.
 

Odysseus

Explorer
As a DM my favorite encounter is the finale of the Zeitgeist dispora. Not becasue of anything special in the encounter, just how the whole campaign built up to that point.

As a player my favorite is a Teleport trap in Borshaks lair(adventure from the 70's) where you get teleported into a 15' cube with a mummy. And most encounters where your also up against a deadline of some sort.
 
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Sacrosanct

Slayer of Keraptis
I don't know if I have any specific favorite encounter, but I really enjoy ones where there is creativity and out of the box thinking, where players resolve it in creative ways. Either by using the environment around them, or by clever role playing.

Some examples when I was a player include:
* needing to delay an army on the march, so we set up a choke point in a narrow valley and spent most of the session planning out defenses, traps, formations, etc. Then playing it out. That was a lot of fun

* As a bard, I stumbled upon a dragon lair, and managed to talk my way out of it by promising to spread his exploits far and wide (being a bard [bladesinger in 2e], I was the perfect class to do that). Which then led to a relationship/partnership of sorts with said dragon down the campaign

* Right when a big bad started it's monologue, my friend immediately fired magic missile at it. It was a humorous moment and the DM was visibly taken aback because he never got to say his big speech :)
 

robus

Lowcountry Low Roller
A favorite one for me was in Storm King's Thunder where the PCs were trying to rescue the Storm King himself from some vessel out in the Trackless Sea. The cleric infiltrated the boat on her own thanks to both flying and invisibility being cast on her. She got herself up to the Storm King's ear but found out that he was unresponsive (but alive). Called upon her god to intervene and by rolling really well, got the magic chains holding the Storm King unconscious neutralized. Then as he came too and started struggling she quickly explained the situation and asked him if he trusted her. Given his predicament he didn't see what he had to lose, so said yes and, ta da, they both vanished. The vessel popped up in the water throwing the crew of cultists into disarray and confusion about their suddenly missing captive. The cleric had prepared "Word of Recall" earlier as a possible escape route for the party at their temple in Waterdeep. You can imagine the chaos and confusion that erupted there when a storm giant suddenly appeared! (The rest of the party made their leisurely way back on the cloud castle they were using as transport). And I was left quite flabbergasted! :D
 

pogre

Adventurer
The adventurers had to bring factions of a village together to fight an undead horde led by the Lichemaster, Not a particularly imaginative set-up, but it was great fun. That was in a WFRP campaign.

In D&D, typically memorable encounters involve a time pressure. One example would be fleeing a big baddie and having to confront another enemy in their path.
 

Celebrim

Legend
My favorite encounter... wow that's a tough one. There are a lot of great encounters. S1 ToH has some great ones. "Sabre River" has my single favorite scene that I've ever had as a player while playing a published adventure, even if I don't think it would work with me now that I'm older, it was amazing for me as a junior high kid. I3 Pyramid and I6 Ravenloft are filled with really great encounters.

The one that gets talked about the most in the current campaign was one of my own devising, the inner sanctum of the temple of Karophat, God of Technology. Or, as my players like to call him, The God of Traps.

The room was a very typical small temple with inner and outer sanctums, and like all the rooms to that point, the walls and ceilings were lined with spiked iron grills. They'd inspected these iron grills in the outer sanctum, and found them firmly attached to the walls, but the party was increasingly unnerved. One party member, the brash young Paladin walked into the room to inspect the relics and paraments on the table before the altar. I did some die rolling, and proceeded to describe the sacrificial implements, hangings, and so forth on the table in more detail - some of which were clearly valuable. A second party member, seeing that nothing ill had befallen the player, set out across the room.

What the second player did not know is that the floor was sprinkled with pressure plates, which the first player - by sheer dint of good fortune - had managed to accidentally avoid on his progress across the room. The second player was not so lucky: "*click* One of the floor tiles gives slightly, and there is a whirring sound. A harpoon flies out of the ceiling, partially penetrating your leather cuirass. Take 6 damage. Immediately, the cable upon which the harpoon is attached retracts with great force, and you are reelled up off the ground at great speed, and find yourself pinned by your chest to the ceiling. The force of the impact does a further 2 damage, and further, you find one of the iron spikes is now pressed uncomfortably into your shoulder - take 3 more damage."

So now the PC is held to the ceiling and has lost a good portion of his hit points. He calls down to the other players, "Hey, I'm stuck. Help me get down." The other players look between each other and say, "Which of us is going to go get him?" No one wants to go, so they all sit huddled in the doorway waiting for someone to take initiative. The player who plays the Paladin is like, "I'm wearing 60 pounds of metal. You know I'm on good at climbing or any of that stuff. I can't get him." So the player on the ceiling, left to his own devices, starts trying to get himself down. A strength check and a successful Heal and Jump check later..."You manage with the help of your dagger to rip the harpoon out of your flesh and armor. Take 1 damage removing the barb, and leap down nimbly to the floor." The player then says, "I'm going back to the safety of the door."

I do some more rolling: "*click* *click*", two harpoons fly out of the ceiling and simultaneously strike you in the back. Take 11 damage. There is a moment of tension as the two harpoons struggle to pull you in separate directions before the one that is buried less deeply is ripped forcefully out of your back. Take 3 damage. Now you whirl up to the ceiling where you are again impaled on the wrought iron spikes. Take 7 more damage."

Player, "Ok...so I'm unconscious and dying."

"The sailor's body is pinned to the iron grill, he's clearly badly injured at this point, and a steady stream of blood is now dripping on to the floor."

A series of skill checks later, they manage to retrieve the body mere moments before the blood loss would have been lethal. The Paladin heads back across the floor.

"Behind you a white mist begins to fill up the room."

The party fled, never to return.
 
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David Howery

Adventurer
the feast/throne room full of giants in G1. It's old school now, but back then, opening a door and seeing 29 giants, 8 ogres, and a friggin' cave bear, who all saw us too, was a rather panic-inducing moment...
 

MonkeezOnFire

Explorer
In the game I currently run when the group was level 4 I pit them against a young, bronze, shadow dragon in an encounter that I had modified to be tough, yet fair and I think I succeeded. The arena was in a demiplane created to store an artifact tainted by demonic power. The dragon was originally a guardian but was slowly corrupted into serving the artifact. This gave me an excuse to make the arena disadvantageous to the dragon. There were pillars surrounding the area that each had an orb at the top that emitted a warding light. While the dragon was in the light it had disadvantage to attacks and attacks against it had advantage. The pillars at the beginning of combat except 1 were covered wrapped up in black cloth. The dragon could destroy the orbs with attacks taking away the buff. So over the course of right the party was revealing light orb while the dragon was trying to destroy them which made for quite the dynamic battle.

I also nerfed it's breath weapon. Right off the bat the bronze attack is a line so it was unlikely to hit the entire party but I reduced the damage to 8d6 and added a rider that if you failed the save any damage you did to the dragon, you would also take. The effect ended on a successful Wis save made at the end of each turn. While this is debilitating there were other options for them to use an action to try to pull down a cloth to reveal an orb or use the environment in other ways.
 

Retreater

Adventurer
When I met a cute girl at a karaoke bar and I tried to make her laugh by telling her I play D&D, and then she started telling me about her character. We're engaged now. :)
But my favorite encounter was an Evards black tentacles trap in a subterranean river cave and shadows in the water, draining strength from the characters as they were grappled and drowning.
 

Legatus_Legionis

< BLAH HA Ha ha >
I was invited to another DND group, as they wanted to experience how I role played.

I have a cleric (knowledge) whom joined a group going to Dragon Mountain.

Not only was he the only survivor...
Not only was he not attacked/injured...

He got out with a mutual pact with the Dragon.

That group had never thought one can win without killing. Up until then, it was purely "might makes right", hack-n-slash over "role" playing, etc.


Also, that group's characters were more interested in gold and treasure, while my PC was more interested in knowledge, so attacking/killing the dragon was never in his mind.

When we had finally found the Dragon's lair, the group charged in to attack/kill the Dragon, while my Cleric prostrated himself at the entrance. Once the Dragon finished with the group, it turned towards my PC.

The Dragon did not expect this. It asked, "What have we here?"

"Am I allowed to speak, my Lord?" The Cleric asked.

"Sure, why not. Why are you on the ground?"

"The glory of seeing your magnificence in person overwhelmed me."

"Oh yes. I am Magnificent!"

etc.


The flattery language and stroking the ego of the Dragon was all apart of my role playing. My PC knew enough about Dragons to know how to "win".

As much research that group did (supplies, potions, weapons, battle strategies, etc.) they failed to see the biggest weakness of a Dragon... its Ego.
 

Samcro

Villager
We cased a
signup casino bonus canada for a heist. We watched what happened when a disturbance happened and then caused one the next night.

The wizard's spider familiar webbed a bead of force to himself to create an explosion on the other side of the casino, and we illusioned a closed door over an open one while the office was looted. A changeling impersonating a guard kept watch. (The whole heist played out as we rolled initiative)

Of course everything went awry, but we were able to get away with some misty steps and fog and thaumaturgy scaring the patrons into a running horde.


Wow ! I can't imagine that bro !
I have read a warning about it!
 
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Imaculata

Adventurer
I think one of my favourite encounters to run for my players, was one inside a large treasure vault. A giant metal serpent (an automaton) guarded the treasure, and attacked anyone that laid their fingers on it. The players had to battle a powerful sorcerer and his apprentices, while avoiding the serpent. But what they did not expect, was that the sorcerer and his apprentices would use illusions to make the serpent 'think' they had stolen some of the treasure. All of a sudden a player found himself wearing the illusion of countless golden jewelry, which angered the serpent. Meanwhile the big bad was trying to find a specific item in the treasure (I had him search for it, so it was a matter of time before he found it), only to have one of the players snatch it from his hands. It was glorious.

Another great encounter was a naval chase. The players and their allies were sailing towards an island to help their allies who had come under attack. But the enemy sprung a trap upon them, and several vessels started closing in on them from all sides. This encounter resulted into a couple of awesome ship-maneuvres, and a big battle.
 

77IM

Explorer!!!
So the most memorable encounter I've run recently was incredibly complicated and took three whole sessions to resolve.

The Premise: One of the bosses of Monster Town, a great beholder and cleric of the Elder Elemental Eye, has called for a meeting of the high priests of different religions -- the heads of the churches of Tiamat, Gruumsh, Mershaulk, Orcus, Ilsensine, Llolth, Kord, and Pelor. Of course the PCs want to know what it's about, so it's convenient that one of them is the high priest of Pelor (and only priest of Pelor in Monster Town). The rest sneak in as his bodyguards and caterers.

The beholder lives in a great buried tower. Each level is circular and in the center of the floor is a circular hole so that the beholder can float up and down to the different levels. The meeting is being held on level 5.

Part I:

Of course it was a setup; it turns out level 5 is the trap level. Half-way through the meeting, a cylinder of force surrounds the central hole in the floor, and walls of force radiate outward from it. The level is separated into eight segments, and parties are split into four of them. A pipe opens in the ceiling of each segment...

On round one, the segments start filling with intellect devourers. The party's hill-giant fighter gets zapped unconscious, but all the devourers are squashed before they can eat his brain. One of the party's barbarians starts chopping a hole in the floor; the other uses boots of spider climb and starts smashing a hole in the ceiling.

On round two, the segments start filling with water, each one with a water weird. The cleric of Pelor fries one with flame strike, but that fills his segment with steam. In one segment, an allied NPC uses control water to reverse the flow, keeping the monster and the water on the ceiling. Water starts rushing through the hole in the floor that the barbarian was chopping... but the unconscious hill-giant gets sucked in, plugging it up.

On round three, harpoons on chains launch from the walls in each segment. The party's tabaxi sorcerer and her yuan-ti friends float above the fray. One of the harpoons strikes an allied NPC, and the party's kenku wizard unwisely tries to use witch bolt against the chain, frying the NPC.

On round four, it turns out the chains are wired, electrifying the water, as well as the friendly NPC. The NPC who was using control water fails a concentration check, submerging that chamber again, bringing in the water weird.

On round five, the water starts filling up with swarms of quippers. Everyone who is unconscious gets to make some death saves.

On round six, each segment gets sprayed with oil, and the electrified chains spark again, igniting the air and the surface of the water. By this point, most of the NPC priests have started using stone shape to create holes under the force walls, turning most of the room into a series of raging waterfalls.

On round seven, each segment starts filling with cement. A "friendly" NPC with a grudge gets tired of the kenku wizard trying to "help" and decides to kill him with an axe, so he escapes by disintegrating the wall of force, washing both of them away in a tidal wave.

Part II:

The party has been swept down to level 4, except for the tabaxi sorcerer who just flies down, and the barbarian who just spider climbs down.

The hole in the center of the room is plugged by a great stone disk. There are four great stone obelisks, which are a creature called "Pillar of the Lost Magocracy" from the Creature Codex. Each starts shooting random weird effects around the room (acid rain, plant growth, etc.).

Meanwhile, 16 kuo-toa start peppering the PCs with crossbow bolts from behind cover. The water in the room is a few feet deep, giving them both cover and a movement advantage against the PCs. But the PCs are high enough level (around 15ish) to take them out, even with the random effects from the pillars.

Suddenly the disk in the center of the room gets disintegrated! The whole room turns into a giant whirlpool, or more like a toilet bowl (the water is pretty foul from all the blood and bodies, plus the oil and cement mix), as everyone starts getting sucked down the hole.

Part III:

The water falls down to level 2, where the hole in the center of the floor is covered by a disintegration field -- it's like a force field, but if you touch it, it deals you 10d6 + 40 force damage and turns you to dust. The disintegration field conveniently disintegrates all the water, dead bodies, etc.

Unfortunately, the party members are sucked down into it. Most manage to swing to the side and avoid the field but a few barbarians take some damage (@#$% damage resistance). The sorcerer just flies down, the barbarian with spider climb just walks down, and the kenku wizard polymorphs into a giant eagle and flies down with a bloodhunter on his back.

Even more unfortunately, the beholder is down there waiting. As the party springs into action, eye rays shooting everywhere, the anti-magic cone turns on the polymorphed wizard -- who turns back into a kenku, falls into the field, and is disintegrated.

The beholder then uses the telekinesis ray to slam the cleric of Pelor onto the field and hold him there, but one of the barbarians runs across the field (voluntarily taking more damage) to push the cleric off the field. Another barbarian runs up the wall, onto the beholder's head (body?) and cuts off the telekinesis eye stalk.

Meanwhile the sorcerer is pouring damage into the beholder -- but because he's a beholder cleric, he uses his healing eye ray to bounce back. At the same time, he summons a felad-zerah demon, which has both a petrifying gaze and a whip that pulls characters closer to itself -- right over the disintegration field.

Just when things are looking very bad, the beholder makes the unfortunate tactical error of finding itself within reach of two barbarians and a bloodhunter, and gets chopped to pieces.

Mission accomplished!
 
This is an encounter I pull out every so often... not quite every campaign. PCs are tasked with delivering a package. They come upon a 100' long by 40' wide bridge. The bottom shrouded in mist. A stream or river is below. The bridge is old and has a few holes and areas of dry rot. Once the PCs start across the bridge, Bandits emerge on the other side demanding a 'tax'. The Bandits have push/pull abilities to force 5-10' of movement. Dex save to avoid falling off the bridge. Str check to hold on, a higher check to pull yourself up. A PCs gear altered the numbers. The PCs can retreat and go around, but it will put a delay in the delivery schedule.
 

Warforged DK

Villager
Here are some of my recent favorite encounters:

Party infiltrates a warehouse, eavesdropping on a rival adventuring group and planning on stealing most of the treasure the rivals had gained. The party's necromancer, who had been converting dead enemies into zombies and stuffing them in his portable hole, decided to set the zombies loose in the sewers, with the goal of pushing their rivals towards the sewers as a means of escape. Best laid plans and all, we kind of forgot about the zombies and they ended up setting the warehouse on fire. Six of 7 real time months later, the party returns to the city and ends up at the wharf, near that warehouse when the necromancer says "didn't we leave a bunch of zombies in the sewer here? I wonder what happened to them?" Another player said that a low-level adventuring group was hired to clean them out and thus was born our next campaign.

Party is infiltrating an ice dragon's cave. There is a long sloping and twisting tunnel that leads down to a macguffin to move forward in the dungeon. Our heroic fighter tries slowly going down the path and fails every save, sliding down the ice into spikes at each corner. He tries to getup, falls and slides again- 4 curves, went from full HP down to 6. Our Storm cleric yells down "Are you okay?" Then flies down the tunnel, taking no damage at all and asks if the Fighter wants to be carried back up.

Later, in that same dungeon, the players fought the White Dragon. I'd given myself enough room to maneuver, but also created a bit of a choke point for the players to get stuck in, so I could breath weapon them all. The cleric had just earned some random loot- Dust of sneezing and choking. He read it over and declared it to be absolutely worthless. Except that he changed his mind and decided to sacrifice himself in the cloud of sneezing dust in the hopes of catching the white dragon off guard. That dang cleric was the only one to make the save. 2 Kobold sorcerers, my white dragon and 3 Kobold dragonshields all succumbed to that dust of sneezing and the party made VERY quick work of them.

Another fun encounter was one of the first with a new-ish group. I am converting the Seekers of the Ashen Crown adventure path to 5e for them, and this was the big boss fight towards the beginning of the path, at the end of the first dungeon. Ashurta, legendary warlord, come back to life after 1000 years to slay the tomb robbing PC's. We were using a crit hit/fail chart and wouldn't you know it, Ashurta crit failed his first attack- knocking him prone. He tried attacking from prone and crit-failed again, such that his sword fell out of his hands, landing on his head and knocking him unconscious. The Players, who hadn't even acted yet, all burst out laughing and killed him that round.

Gotta love the dice man!
 

Imaculata

Adventurer
I'm currently running an encounter for my pirate campaign that is a ton of fun. The players are trying to access a temple on the bottom of a lake. However, a hybrid between a Beholder and a giant Octopus (named "Cyratophobia") is guarding the temple. The creature is exceptionally well at hiding, which makes it nearly invisible to normal sight. The players carefully scouted the waters, only to realize that the statues on the bottom of the lake are petrified people!

The players realized quickly that this was a tough opponent that could easily kill them, so they decided to prepare for a few days and stock up on underwater equipment. Luring the creature to the surface seems difficult, and they can't see the beast from land either. They will pretty much have to fight it underwater, where the beast has a big advantage over them. But to complicate matters, I'm letting the cruel beast make a few new victims each night. Cyratophobia has figured out what the players are trying to do, and so it is trying to provoke them into an early battle.

So the first night it overturned a rowing boat. The second night it demolished a warehouse by the shore, and dragged a pier towards the middle of the lake, with a helpless commoner on it calling for aid. It will keep the commoner alive for now, hoping the players will take the bait. The longer the players delay the fight, the more casualties the creature will make. Muhahahaha!
 

alienux

Explorer
My favorite was from a homebrew adventure I created several years ago.

The party entered a large cavern and did not notice a plate in the floor that triggered several cages to fall from the ceiling, trapping them (they had to either make a Dex save to avoid being trapped, or make a successful strength check of 20 to bend the bars to get out or take time to burrow underneath).

Once they finally got out, they went to another chamber that was filled with skeletons. Instead of fighting, which is what I had expected when I wrote the encounter, they sent someone back to figure out how to reset the cages and pull them back up by the chains connected to gears in the ceiling. The rest of the party lured the skeletons to the first chamber in the spots where the cages fall and used them to trap the skeletons.

It wasn't anything I planned for, but I loved the plan they came up with so it worked for them.
 

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