Combat Encounter Brainstorm: Battle at the Inn

edited January 2012 in General Discussion
I need to conduct some brainstorming for an encounter in my coming session. I was hoping for suggestions on any way to make this fight cooler. The group includes a star warlock, a controller wizard, an avenging paladin, a ranger, and a rogue who attacks from stealth to gain combat advantage (obviously, we're playing 4th Edition D&D). The encounter in question takes place in the middle of the night in an inn they've stopped in. What happens is at about 1 in the morning, there is loud banging at the front door. A group of armed men are trying to force their way into the building. Once they've managed to break down the door and cut down the innkeeper, they transform into werewolves and begin tearing through the building, slaughtering all they encounter. I want the encounter to be difficult, chaotic, interesting, and desperate, with a real threat of death or serious injury occurring. However, fighting in some standard inn isn't really an interesting locale for a fight. In addition, a bunch of werewolves, at least as presented in the Monster Vault, don't have any particularly interesting abilities (they have a claw attack, a bite attack, and a club attack. Pretty boring stuff)

My question for the forum is what kind of elements can I introduce into the fight in order to make it a truly memorable encounter? I'll consider any and all ideas put forth, so please don't limit yourselves!


  • Morrinn
    Posts: 166
    When in doubt, introduce fire.

    Also prepare the battlefield in advance. Make special note of items and obstacles that could escalate the scene. For example, a load bearing beam that if damaged from, say, an area attack, might bring a wall or ceiling down, drastically changing the battlefield.
  • ednoria
    Posts: 17
    Try to separate the group (have them sleep in a few different rooms), and play up the fact that it's dark and they don't know the territory real well. If you add a few other patrons who are woken up by all the noise, that'll make it more confusing. Or perhaps the innkeeper has a few dogs, and those are going nuts with the werewolf smell.
  • TheMazeController
    Posts: 115
    Fire is what I was going to say too and is there a Second Story? Have an enemy scale the walls outside and enter via a window or the chimney in a Santa-esque move? If the Monsters are boring and the fight is boring look for ways to make their actions interesting. Make it about werewolves getting into customers rooms and ravaging them and the PCs have to stop the attacks from the outside through the windows as well as the battle in the common room. Or perhaps they have to herd the customers to safety in some sort of skill challenge to impose order or a reasonable defense?
  • CuRoi
    Posts: 18
    Hmmm....not up on 4e. I checked the entry in the MM though... Does the party have silver weapons? If not, suddenly the nice silverware cabinet becomes a strategic resource.

    Waves - have them stage out front and attack in waves (not sure how many there are). They can retreat as they are injured, fresh wave comes in while the injured ones stand aorund outside healing up with regen.

    Pack mentality - have them focus on individuals, maybe weakest looking first (they are predators right?) They'll get opponents to "bloodied" faster if dogpiling (heh, sorry) and activate their Blood Rage faster.

    Nit pick - Not a fan of greatclub as a weapon for them - make it a two handed sword or greataxe or something that, well, cuts and "bleeds" people.

    They shouldn't be mindless, even wolves are pretty canny as a predators. If the party jumps in and seems tough, fall back and force the group to continue the fight outside where the wolves can use the doorway as a choke point.

    Hope that sparks some ideas!
  • bluesguy
    Posts: 127
    Am I too late to throw in my 2 bits?

    The very first adventure I ran my players through involved a fight at an inn. The characters didn't know each other. They were all in separate rooms. In one room someone started using a magical item which raised the dead and transformed the innkeeper's 3 children into ghouls. Here are the things that make a middle of the night fight in an inn hard for the players.
    1. No armor. There isn't time to put it on.
    2. Lack of light. Huge disadvantage if they cannot naturally see in the dark.
    3. Narrow hallways which prevent multiple PCs from getting in their 'shots'
    4. Other guests getting in the way

    The adventure in my case was perfect. There was absolute chaos. Two of the PCs went downstairs to see what was going on and freaked out about the children being ghouls and headed back upstairs. The world is very low magic and monsters are things people tell their children not something you run into - ever. They figured out something weird was going on because one guest hadn't left his room. When they barged into his room his guard turned into a person possessed by a demon and there was a nasty fight. It was absolute chaos. Everyone loved it.
  • AnthonyDluzak
    Posts: 69
    I think everyone has some great ideas... In fact, I think I may use some of those suggestions myself in my own game...

    I would also like to mention that encounters seems interesting to me by interesting battlefields, in your case - the inn. If its a room with a bar, some tables and a chair it doesn't give you a whole lot of options... One of the guys above mentioned an important structural beam, I think that's a great idea! And second story with the party split, also great idea....

    For some drama - make the first story share it's ceiling with the second story, so in essence there is a balcony on the second floor - throw in a chandelier in the middle hanging down and now you got a way for PC's to leap across and swing down -- maybe even giving a sweet kick to the weres! Or, they could cut the rope and have it fall on some.

    I also agree with fire... During the were's attacks, they could knock over an oil lamp causing more panic and chaos.

    You could also have some thick tapestries hung on the walls that could be cut from above on the balcony, a well timed cut could cause a tapestry to fall on a were for an attack of opportunity and attack bonuses.

    That's all I've got, hopefully that inspires you some!

  • Martini_Rosso
    Posts: 1
    Love all the ideas here. We've found that a skill challenge included in the battle helps make things more interesting, as the characters have to do more than just slug it with the bad guys. The idea of rescuing as many of the patrons from the werewolves being one - perhaps the innkeeper said save my customers to one of the characters (the paladin?) before he went down, thus giving the paladin and his/her party a reason to save people.

    Difficult terrain caused by knocked over bar stools and tables, slippery floors from spilt drinks will make it more interesting. the tapesteries could also be used to jump onto in the fashion of pirates with a large knife do with sails to break their fall as they come down.

    you could have some of the werewolves being magic users or controllers of some description - they were a sorcerer or wizard in a previous life. the addition of worgs/wolves which move swiftly to attack individuals is another way of doing it - have them as minions or perhaps a swarm of were rats sweep up from the tap room - we've always struggled with swarms in a battle.
  • Turncoat
    Posts: 11
    Late getting back to everyone, but I just wanted to say that the encounter turned out great. In the end there were something like 30 werewolves swarming all over the ground of the inn, which was in a sort of motel formation: a number of small shacks around a central dining hall. The PCs were divided to begin with, and it was dark outside. They got the assistance of a number of knights who were in one of the rooms, while other people ran or were slaughtered. Eventually they were forced inside the central building, and blockaded the windows (though not before a huge werewolf burst into the room and began ravaging the players and npcs.) One of the player characters was torn in two, and the others were forced to hide in the basement. The inn was burned down above them, and all of their wealth in the rooms was lost. It was an altogether devastating scene, and really kicked off the adventure with a bang. Even 3 weeks later, my players are still in shock over the loss of one of the party members. (Resurrection is all but absent in my setting. They have had to organize the character's funeral.) Thanks for all the ideas presented :D
  • bluesguy
    Posts: 127
    How did the player take it when their character was ripped in two?
  • Beaumains
    Posts: 132
    Wow. I never thought 4e could be so interesting (this coming from a 4e gnomish bard who's claim to fame is killing people with his words [literally]).
  • Turncoat
    Posts: 11
    How did the player take it when their character was ripped in two?

    As well as he could take it.
Sign In or Register to comment.

July 2024
Umbra Quercus Saga

Read the feature post on the blog
Return to Obsidian Portal

Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!