Continuing the series on Creating the Final Battle, I'll now cover terrain. Some of the most memorable battles I've been in as a player involved some interesting terrain or sets. A massive battle in a church deep under water, a tower battle where the goal was to get to the top but the foe could jump off the walls at will, exploring an underwater cavern with time distortion bubbles located randomly here and there. So in preparing this final battle I tried to think of a set that might be memorable. Here are the elements that I have settled on.
I have been really drooling over some of the scenery created by gaming companies like WorldWorksGames and Fat Dragon Games. But frankly, my budget doesn't allow for that kind of extravagance very often. Well, never for World Works Games. I have bought some things from Fat Dragon Games and have been very happy with their materials. But I decided to take a little DIY attitude to creating this scenery. I started by trying rough sketch pictures. The next step was to try a 3D model in 1/4 inch grid paper. I then created a larger pattern in 1 inch grid paper which I use for most of my campaign session maps.
I traced the pattern on foam board which I bought for $5.99 at Michael's. I made sure the model fit together then proceeded to use MSPaint to alter pictures of stone work ground and screen shots of a wall from a Fat Dragon Games module to fit the size requirements. You really don't need a fancy and expensive Photoshop program to do to most of what you need (no matter what others say). With a little Aileen's tacky glue, I glued the pictures to the foam board. Don't use too much glue because it will warp the larger pieces of the foam board a little.
Something was still missing. I found a High Elf Watchtower for free at One Monk Miniatures. This fits perfectly into the scene. The Lord of the Blades will start up top. His lackey will start in the tower shouting to the crowd. The PCs may enter from several different locations but I think the most likely is the side of the stage opposite the tower depicted in the picture below.
Now I'm also working on a second possible scene, if the players don't follow the trail of bread crumbs, I can imagine that they'll try to
Here is the final result:
In addition to just the ground, I'm also working out some details for random low level weather spell effects as a sort of storm of living weather spells. For example, I may randomly roll for a direction and strength of the wind, plus spell effects like obscuring mist and fog cloud form the PHB and Breathe of the Jungle, Cloud Burst, and Binding Winds from the Spell Compendium. Note that none of these deal direct damage but only inhibit movement, vision, ranged attacks, or saves. That's the point, just to make things a little more challenging, complicated, and hopefully memorable. At this level I don't think any of these 1st and 2nd level spells will alter the course of the battle much but may cause some major annoyance. Plus these effects will apply equally to the bad guys and the good guys for what I hope will be a net zero effect on the combat.
NPCs as Terrain.
In addition to these elements, keep in mind that in front of the first tier, there is a large crowd of warforged citizens rooting the Lord of the Blades on. This set is really an amphitheater. If a PC fall off the first tier, they will be surrounded by warforged and some warforged by be throwing rocks (for minimal damage if any), shouting curses and epithets, and generally seeming to be unruly and threatening.
I'm hoping the three elements of ground, weather, and NPCs will make fighting a combat in this final battle interesting and memorable.