Spicing up Encounters

gnunn
gnunn
edited August 2010 in General Discussion
I have been inspired by a couple of recent articles by Chris Sims over at Critical Hits, which discuss using minions to spice up encounters.

"Minions are Spice":http://critical-hits.com/2010/07/22/minions-are-spice/

"Minions of Differing Flavors":http://critical-hits.com/2010/08/19/minions-of-differing-flavors/

While Chris discusses these spicy minions in a 4e context, I was inspired to spice up the encounters in my own 3.5e game in a similar fashion. For me, the spicing-up has mostly taken the form of playing around with a creature's standard tactics, description or other rules in order to make things more interesting

Here are some specifics I have worked in to my game: During my last session, my party battled an infestation of mimics at an arcane library. If caught in melee, the mimics would use their standard grappling attacks as described in the MM. However, at range, they took to throwing books at any intruders. Furthermore, I included an advanced huge-sized mimic, which would pick up anyone who engaged it in melee, and throw them at their companions the next round. This amusing tactic played out with a summoned giant mantis to wonderful effect.

Then today, I created a special little table in preparation for some vampire hunting my players are setting out to do. I have decided that, similar to in the movie, The Lost Boys, vampires in my campaign do not go out quietly, or in the same fashion every time. I came up with a table for vampiric death-throw effects that will accompany their burst into gaseous form. They can do anything from dissolve into a pile of ash, to bursting into a swarm of flies, to coating their destructor in a fountain of blood requiring a save vs. being sickened.

I am interested to hear how others have bent the rules, reskinned or tweaked creatures and settings in order to spice up their encounters.

P.S. I also find it amusing that I took this break to write about spice while I have been sitting around reading Dune.

Comments

  • RaseCidraen
    RaseCidraen
    Posts: 890
    The Minions... the spice... is there a connection?
  • Embirsiphone
    Embirsiphone
    Posts: 385
    it would be if there was pie..
  • gaaran
    gaaran
    Posts: 740
    Definitely of the savory variety...

    Also, I used the one hit kill minions rules in 3.5 to add more guys to encounters, and it worked surprisingly well. I only really did it cause I designed the encounter with 4e in mind and then switched, but it actually.
  • RaseCidraen
    RaseCidraen
    Posts: 890
    I enjoy using minions... I've found that the party will be more terrified of a horde of advancing creatures than a Balor. This is a problem, because a lot of things in Planescape *really* should be feared. If you piss off a pit fiend in a bar by deliberately attacking it multiple times, well...

    But using minions to supplement some weaker adversaries can really turn the tables for interesting.
  • Embirsiphone
    Embirsiphone
    Posts: 385
    Minions are great cannon fodder :D
  • FrankSirmarco
    FrankSirmarco
    Posts: 250
    I wanted to keep this secret until we played the session (in case any of my players were checking out the Forums), but I was pretty proud of this.

    My Pathfinder group is currently running through Rise of the Runelords. Once completed, I am going to be taking over as GM for Kingmaker. I'd never GMed a fantasy game before (I've only GMed my "Cthulhu campaign":http://www.obsidianportal.com/campaigns/cthulhusupremusest), so I've been pretty nervous about taking the helm (especially since there's three GMs in our group). I knew I wanted to get my feet wet, but I also knew that I wanted to try something different. That's when it hit me...

    There are several Cthulhu scenarios set in Lovecraft's "Dreamlands":http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dreamlands setting. "The Whore of Baharna":http://index.rpg.net/display-entry.phtml?articleid=31925 is set in both the Dreamlands and the waking world. Since the Dreamlands have a bit of a fantasy feel to them, I decided to convert the Dreamlands portion of the scenario to the Pathfinder core rules and have a little fun with the group.

    I told the players I was creating pre-generated characters for them, but was really just converting their Cthulhu investigators. I jumbled the letters in their names (Alister Sinclair became Lasitir Clarisian, Ivy Morgan became Myra Vingo, etc.) and gave them classes that fit their investigator's personality (Alistair became a cleric, Ivy a wizard, and Connor and Jonas fighters).

    I ran them through the scenario last night, and it couldn't have gone better. Not only did they not figure out what was going on, they were generally surprised when they woke up in 1926 New York City covered in sweat. And to add to the success, I was able to hold my own as a Pathfinder GM.

    All in all, it was a lot of fun, and I think the crossover between two game systems really added a unique element to the experience.

    I should have the adventure log up early next week...
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Sounds like a really interesting "Cthulhu-Maker" experiment. Never played that genre myself but I'd be keen to read that adventure log once you have it written up. I like the idea of pulling in elements of horror and mystery from other genres to help spice up D&D, and I'd like to read how you went about doing it.

    Cheers,
    -Arsheesh
  • Duskreign
    Duskreign
    Posts: 1,085
    The current campaign I am running takes place in the "hell" realm of my fantasy world, and I have incorporated a lot of horror elements (including a lot of nods to Lovecraft) in the challenges my players have faced. One of the PCs has discovered that he is a reincarnated hell-god who was cast out by the "usurper" and forced to live a mortal life in the prime world. I also pored through some old Christie and Conan-Doyle stuff to create an effective murder mystery, which is going to be the next story arc, which leads to a zombie apocalypse arc thereafter.

    Mixing genres is the best. Frank, your players are lucky folks. I especially like your anagrams of their Cthulhu investigator names. Very clever stuff. I can't wait to read the log.
  • arsheesh
    arsheesh
    Posts: 850
    Yeah I could see how waking up to find that you are a reincarnated hell-god might ruin your day. Course zombie apocalypses are no walk in the park either. Sounds like your players are going to have their hands full Dusk.
  • Duskreign
    Duskreign
    Posts: 1,085
    That's the plan.
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