Content of the article: "What have been your most successful complex encounter?"
So last session I ran an encounter in a burning mansion where they needed to rescue an NPC. What they didn't know was that the fire had been set as a trap by a group of enemies (a vengeance paladin, moon druid, and totem barbarian) and they were waiting inside to ambush them.
I took the Ruins of Essenheim Manor maps shared by u/Tomartos and setup each floor on Roll20, then layered in a bunch of fire to block certain paths. As the party moved through the mansion, I moved their view to the floor they were on, so they couldn't see what was happening on the other floor.
How it played out was amazing. A couple of the characters went upstairs, where the enemy druid (in fire elemental form) played hit and run by ducking into the burning parts of the building. Then one character stepped into the ethereal to move through a wall on the 1st floor, and ended up in what I had planned as the final room, with the unconscious NPC at the feet of the enemy paladin. He was then all alone with her and shouted for help before firing his musket at her. The rest of the party could hear it, but were on the 2nd floor and only knew the direction of the noise and couldn't see what was happening. Then the enemy barbarian busted through a door on the 2nd floor and engaged the party members there.
So the fight progressed with the party split up, frantically trying to find their way to help the one character fighting the paladin. They eventually all ended up in the central room (some on the 2nd floor looking down from the hole in the ceiling) and won the fight… though the enemies had teleport spells tied to contingency and vanished when brought to 0 HP, so they live to fight another day! My players all had an awesome time, and said I should design every encounter like that. It was also really fun to run it!
Have you all ever run more complex encounters like this one that were successful? I'd love to get more ideas for ways to challenge my players with environments and situations rather than just stat blocks!
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