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Gabe / on Wed, Jun 30 2010 at 10:17 am

D&D in the Elemental Chaos part 2

In my last news post I talked about how I actually built the planets for my Elemental Chaos encounter. In this post I’ll talk a little bit about the actual mechanics of the fight.

Tycho and I went and got some lunch and I explained what I wanted to do. The two of us ended up building an encounter that my players really had a good time with. You can see the basic structure in the photos. I had the ice planet and the fire planet on opposite ends of the table. In the middle of them was a small tower and the crystal planet moved back and forth between the two in a loose orbit around the tower.

In game terms the movement was pretty easy to manage. At the bottom of every round the crystal planet would move from the lava planet over to the ice planet or vice versa. At the top of every round the ice planet and the lava planet would each rotate one quarter turn.  We ended up calling the crystal planet the bus because it was essentially a means of traveling back and forth between the two larger planets. So why would they need to go back and forth? Well in the center of this little drama is a Storm Titan. He has collected these planets around him and holds them in orbit by sheer will power. The players have stumbled into his little fiefdom and he is none too happy.

The encounter started with the players each rolling 1D4 to determine which planet they started on. At this point the Storm Titan raised a massive ice shield around himself and his tower. I had placed ice and fire elementals on each of the large planets. When these elementals were killed they exploded doing an AOE attack. What they eventually discovered is that if they killed one on the side of the planet that was facing the shield in the center, the AOE would hit the shield.

At this point they understood the mechanic and so when the ice shield was up they all made their way over to the fire planet. They had to manage the spinning planet and the wandering elementals but eventually they got them to explode dealing fire damage to the ice shield. The titan then switched the shield to fire in classic video game fashion and they all ran for the ice planet.

I had them making athletics and acrobatics checks to jump around in the low gravity. Much like Mario Galaxy each planet had its own thin layer of gravity that would hold you to it. A character could break this hold with a successful check though. This is how they jumped from the larger planets up onto the crystal one. This ended up being a lot of fun as they had to manage a character with almost no athletic skill. At one point they tied a rope around her waist and then jumped to the crystal planet. They misjudged the timing though and the planet took off on its orbit before they could pull her up. Much like a water skier watching the boat speed away the rope snapped taught and she was yanked up into space trailing behind the planet like a kite. The night was full of fun moments like that as my players had a blast playing with the strange physics of this encounter.

In addition to the elementals I had a lightning walker who flew around and attacked whatever planet they were on. This attack scoured the entire planet and the only way to avoid it was to be on the back side of the planet and use it like a shield. I also had an Ice Devil and a Fire Devil on their respective planets. These were much tougher than the elemental minions but if killed in the right spot they did extra damage to the shield.

Once they had beaten the shield a couple times the Storm Titan got sick of their shit and attacked the planet they were on sending in hurtling into the void. I built a skill challenge for this phase that involved them riding this out of control planet as it smashed through the elemental chaos. This ended with them crash landing on a large rock island with a tower on it. What is inside the tower? That is for the next game.

-Gabe out

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