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Climactic encounter idea for a city under siege? [Jun. 22nd, 2010|07:05 am]
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition


I'm trying to plan out a climactic (combat) encounter for my next D&D session--something that will wrap up a story arc, and end with a bang for a player who is leaving. The players are Level 12, so I need something suitably epic.

Currently the PCs are heading back towards a hostile Orcish city in an attempts to return to their ship and escape the area. But the city is about to be attacked by an army of Giants, led by one who is carrying a McGuffin they've been interested in. I've planned out a good climax if they go to fight off the Giants, killing their leader and saving the city and such.

But I want to have an idea for if the PCs decide to try and actively avoid the fighting, sneaking through the attacked city in order to get out in the confusion. I don't want to just move the Giant general fight to the PCs if they attempt to go around the battle, but I still feel like I want some kind of big fight to end the story arc.

Any ideas? What kind of big fight do you have for a group of low-paragon characters who are trying to return to their ship in the harbor outside a city under siege? (the city is being attack from land, so away from the harbor)

[User Picture]From: zakarntson
2010-06-22 04:09 pm (UTC)
I know nothing about your campaign, so I could be way off. Hope this helps!

Have they made any long-term enemies during or before this adventure arc? You could bring back a foe they thought dead, trying to kill the party again. Perhaps this resurfaced enemy is in some way responsible for the trouble the PCs are in (giving the encounter some story oomph).

As a reward for their sneaking, they can run into a controller/lurker encounter, reinforcing their decision to sneak away. Maybe it's a hostile force that wants to encourage/press the party into recovering the MacGuffin and will resort to combat if they can't convince the party.

Don't forget to give each decision narrative power. You've got the heroic ending planned if they fight the Giants. But don't forget that if they run, something epic will happen without them. Perhaps they can escape successfully, ending the current story arc Empire Strikes Back style: They sail away, witnessing the destruction of the Orcish city and the new dominance of the Giants.

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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-06-22 04:19 pm (UTC)
They have made some long-term enemies: one that they are currently chasing after (which is why they might decide to not "spend the time" on the battle), and the other that they just made a deal with (this group was trying to convince them to recover the McGuffin, the PCs gave them directions and are setting out after another McGuffin). So otherwise, nobody that could be in this location without super heavy explaining.

But yes, the idea would be that they'd sail off and the Giants would take over, and then they'd eventually have to deal with those Giants if they wanted to fetch the McGuffin again. I'm just trying o think of what that Lurker-style encounter would be that would make the escape exciting and such. The idea is not to stop them from escaping, just to put in a cool action scene on the way.
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[User Picture]From: zakarntson
2010-06-22 04:34 pm (UTC)
I get you. What are your "action figures" and themes at your control?

If you want to throw something just for fun: The Giants' attack smashed a famous landmark. That landmark was in reality a magical seal holding back something awful. Now, as the PCs are fleeing, they have to contend with whatever this is. It gives you an excuse to cherry-pick from your Monster Manuals. The PCs are in trouble because they have something (magic items or some other MacGuffin) that attracts whatever or whomever has been released.

Or, the Orcish city has magical guardians in place to help against invasions. The party accidentally stumbles into a guardian encounter and, surprise! the party aren't citizens and the guardians don't discriminate against good and evil.
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[User Picture]From: highbulp
2010-06-22 04:44 pm (UTC)
Overall campaign: the PCs were trying to acquire these McGuffins because they thought that would release a seal blocking out good things (good gods, angels, etc)--now they've recently discovered that it may also let in bad things (evil gods, demons), and that the Good Gods might not be so good afterall.

This makes breaking random magic seal somewhat redundant, sadly.

Magic is also pretty uncommon--the Orcs are about their own physical prowess, so magical guardians doesn't quite fit the bill [that said, the Orc Emperor is supposed to be powerful and magical, and so encountering him fleeing the city the same as the PCs could be interesting--but that would most likelyy turn into an RP thing rather than a fight (the players wouldn't want to fight him I believe, and might be less than excited if he attacked them)... I'll have to consider that one).

Mmm, I guess my difficulty is that most of my "action figure" NPCs (assuming I'm understanding your use of the term correctly) have been accounted for in the last session or so, as the PCs are using those accounts to plan their current action (so I don't want to just change what has been established). I could introduce a third party or so---there was an army of Sahaugin that the PCs encountered way earlier and could show up again, but I was hoping to save that encounter for a later scene (but reinforcing the Sahaugin as an element of the story could give later appearances more weight).

I'll need to think on it for the day, to see which kind of story/fight I like better (also need to make sure that the mostly melee PCs will be able to have a good fight trying to get across the harbor to their ship (at anchor in the bay), etc).

Thanks a bunch :)
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[User Picture]From: zakarntson
2010-06-22 04:46 pm (UTC)
No problem! It's fun to brainstorm, even if it just gets those creative juices flowing.

I love your idea where they meet up with the Orc Emperor. It sets up the possibility of betrayal (of course, the Emperor wouldn't get his own hands dirty) when the Emperor feigns cooperation, only to leave his trusted bodyguard assassins alone with the party.
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