M. Jared Swenson Productions

This blog chronicles my projects, developments, and all things related to tabletop gaming. I will try to avoid rants and reviews. Mostly games I'm developing, and progresses from my campaigns.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The 4 Statues: A DnD 4E tactical trap encounter

Phalen cautiously proceeded down the corridor and into the next room, taking careful steps to avoid notice if anyone lie therein. The square room seemed empty. All that was there was the small clock tower in the center, with its loud incessant ticking, and 4 statues on each wall. He motioned his companion, Abyok the paladin, to follow; for there seemed to be no imminent threat. Along the floor was a grid of rails, at least about 3 feet apart. Like something was supposed to ride along them, but what. The two cautiously approached the noisy clock. The 3 arms were exposed. The seconds hand moving at a normal rate. As it would with a normal clock, the minute hand moved as the seconds hand hit the 12. It seemed peculiar as it being the only noticeable feature in the room. This was also the end of the road for them. Any further doorway or stairs would be hidden at this point. Perhaps it was this clock that was the key to proceed. The only thing that resembled any sort of lever were the hands on the clock. Phalen, the rogue, cautiously gripped the minute hand with his fingers and progressed it one minute. Suddenly a ruckus occured. The sound of several gears grinding in place emanated from the clock, and all around larger gears and chains came to life in the room behind the walls. The 4 statues began to shake as though they were responsive to all this unseen mechanical commotion. One of the statues noisily proceeded further on the rails in the floor as if pulled by a rusty chain. A burly helmeted statue with a giant sword tucked in front. The statue then lifted the sword up and came to swing it forward. Then another moved from the wall. This time a statue of a bluish female. Her arm raised and a white hot burst of energy shot straight out at Abyok. He ducked out of the way as it flew across the room and hit the wall. The third came to life, a wide and short bulky figure. Bursts of flame spewed out underneath all around it as it approached. Finally the fourth started lumbering forward on the rails. This time an upright sarcophagus. Metallic tentacles whipping around in front. Abyok and Phalen backed into each other, not sure of how to handle this looming threat...

‘The 4 Statues’ is a challenge encounter I designed for one of my DnD 4th Edition gaming groups. Abyok and Phalen were actual players. This challenge came to me as I wanted to make some sort of advanced mechanical smart trap (kind of steampunk), that the players could still outsmart.
I used these as props. I’ve been looking for an excuse to use them for a while as they came from an old props set for Mage Knight Dungeons (except the sarcophagus which comes from the DnD miniatures). Except any statue like miniature could do. This can easily be reflavored with some creativity to fit what you have or the style of your dungeon. This encounter is designed for players of level 3 to 4.

The way this encounter goes, is each statue has a unique attack they do on the players, and all are pretty much invulnerable to player attacks, but they are vulnerable to specific attacks from eachother.

Each statue has a movement of 4 (special) if you’re doing this encounter in a 9x9 room. (with larger rooms you give them more speed). The statues cannot be slowed or inhibited by attacks or effects. They all also have an initiative of +5.

An explanation for each statue is below:

The Statue of Death

This is an upright sarcophagus. It shoots forth metal tentacles that attempt to grab onto you and pull you in. Doing no harm, but setting you up for attacks from the other statues no doubt.

Vulnerable: the fire blast attack from the Statue of Fire

Attack Area: a reach of 2 squares straight out in front of its facing

Attack: +8 vs Reflex

Hitting a Player: Target is grabbed. Target is also forced to move with the statue and it’s facing. This means whenever the statue moves, the target has to be in front of the statue at all times as long as it is grabbed. The target may attempt to break free from the grab, which requires an athletics or acrobatics check vs. 15

The Statue of the Mage

This is a figure of a tall and slender woman, which shoots bolts of Arcane energy.

Vulnerable: the grabbing tentacles of the Statue of Death. This statue doesn’t get grabbed, just takes the hit when it’s in the attack area

Attack Area: unlimited range straight in front of its facing

Attack: +8 vs Will

Hitting a Player: 1d10 force damage

The Statue of Fire

This is a short and wide effigy of a grotesque demon. It periodically spouts flames all around from underneath it.

Vulnerable: the sword attack by the Statue of the Warrior

Attack Area: a burst of 1 all around the statue. This one doesn’t matter on the facing, but is wider than the others, taking up 2 squares. Movement is treated like a large creature, and it can change from vertical to horizontal orientation with 1 movement point, providing it has the room.

Attack: +8 vs Fortitude

Hitting a Player: 1d8+2 fire damage

The Statue of the Warrior

This menacing statue is of an armored warrior. It has a large wide stone sword it swings around in front of it.
Vulnerable: the magic attack from the Statue of the Mage

Attack Area: 3 squares across directly in front of its facing

Attack: +10 vs AC

Hitting a Player: 1d6+4 damage

The Clock

The Clock stands resolute in the middle of the room. Its hands spinning wildly now that the trap has been sprung!

This serves no purpose other than just being the clock in the middle of the room. It doesn’t move or attack, but provides cover from the attacks of the Statues of Death and the Mage, as it is invulnerable to all attacks.

Facing matters for these statues, so you have to choose what their front is beforehand. They can only fire in the direction they are facing. (For example, the Statue of the Mage can only fire north, south, east, or west). They cannot move diagonally, for they move along a grid rail system in the ground. Since they only have a movement of 4, they are not very fast, and easy to avoid. Even changing their facing costs 1 movement point per square side. But a statue will never attack unless a player is somewhere within their attack area. (illustrated by the gray on the images above). Getting a statue to follow you is easily done by attacking it. Even though the attacks have no effect, it will begin to follow the new player that just attacked it. On the statues turn, it will ALWAYS use up all 4 movement points (even if it is just circling the player), and make an attack if a player is in its Attack Area. The statues will never just stand still on their turn unless they are immobilized.

The purpose in this encounter is to immobilize each statue. Once that is done, the challenge ends, the statues cease, and the Clock moves and becomes a spiral staircase to the next room. (Or a hidden door opens up in the room, whatever fits your dungeon). The way you achieve this is figuring out which statues harm which and get them to attack each other as they aim for your players.

Each statue can only take 5 hits from the statues attack it is vulnerable to. Whenever a statue makes its attack and the vulnerable statue is in its attack area, the vulnerable statue takes 1 hit (no attack or damage rolls necessary when hitting other statues). When it takes 5 hits, it’s immobilized. Narrate that to your players. It can still make attacks, but cannot change its facing or move.

One way to help players figure things out is by hinting them to make a perception check vs. 10 on each of the statues. Each one has a symbol carved in it. Draw the symbols out for the players as they inspect each statue:

For example, let them figure out that because the Statue of Fire has the sword on it, it should probably be hit by the sword attack from the Statue of the Warrior.

Hopefully this made enough sense, and hopefully your players will be able to figure out the challenge. Just make sure to illustrate things to the players that they may find trivial at first, but important later:

The statue with the giant sword swings wide. It misses you, but takes a noticeable chunk of damage out of the short fat statue.

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