In the hamlets surrounding most major population centers, farmers and ranchers eke out a meager existence, growing all manner of crops and raising livestock. But outside city walls, law enforcement isn’t present, and often skirmishes can break out in the least likely of places.
Hooks: Perhaps the party arranges to meet in the barn as neutral ground. Perhaps a ranch hand is involved in something nefarious. Or maybe the party has simply negotiated with the landowner to stay in the barn overnight, and finds themselves subject to a midnight ambush. To allow for flexibility in this encounter, there is a level 3 version, a level 6 version, and a level 9 version. All assume that there are five characters in the party.
Above the stables, a small loft near the barn’s roof allows for extra storage.
The westernmost three squares are shaded to indicate that a second level exists. This area is accessible via the ladder. Climbing the ladder requires no Athletics check, but it does require an extra three squares of movement, and anyone who ends a turn on the ladder grants combat advantage to any attackers as long as he remains on the ladder. The loft is ten feet high, and characters on the loft may attack characters below using ranged attacks.
A thin coating of manure stains the barn floor from when the stable boy last mucked out the horses’ stables.
The manure pile is challenging terrain. Characters who enter a manure square must check Acrobatics DC 15 or slip and fall prone.
A large bale of hay stands in the barn, still green and bound together for easy transport.
The hay bales provide cover to anyone standing behind them. Taking a minor action to kick a hay bale (Athletics check DC 15) will reduce the hay to difficult terrain.
A thick wooden post supports the barn’s ceiling.
The pillar stands in two separate squares. It acts as cover, and characters must use a squeeze action to pass through a square containing a pillar.
Level 3 encounter
Enemies: Goblin Hexer, 2 Goblin Skullcleavers, 3 Goblin Warriors
Tactics: While the skullcleavers rush forward heedlessly, the hexer immediately tries his stinging hex on a strong melee character. If it hits, he orders everyone away from that character. If possible, he’ll use his Incite Bravery power to do so. This tactic can be repeated as often as the hexer’s stinging hex recharges. Once a battle line forms, the hexer will use his vexing cloud for concealment and stay near the skullcleavers so as to use Lead from the Rear. One of the goblin warriors will climb up to the loft and throw javelins while the others dance in and out of the vexing cloud using Mobile Ranged Attack to avoid the cloud’s attack penalties while retaining its cover.
Level 6 encounter
Enemies: 2 Ghouls, 2 Chillborn Zombies, 2 Corruption Corpses
Tactics: The corruption corpses will try to remain behind stalls, pillars, or bales of hay while throwing their necrotic matter at characters. The chillborn zombies do extra cold damage to any characters immobilized by the ghouls, so they stay close. All of the undead will remain completely oblivious to the danger posed by the horses until kicked.
Level 9 encounter
Enemies: Eladrin Twilight Encanter, 3 Eladrin Fey Knights, 2 Quickling Runners
Tactics: The Fey Knights issue their Feywild Challenges and the Twilight Encanter does his best to keep the targets of the Feywild Challenges from attacking the knights using Binding Bolts and Teleporting Bolts. If forced into melee, the Encanter uses his Dazzling Blast to escape. At first opportunity, he makes his way onto the hay loft or kicks out the easternmost hay bales to hide behind the second row of hay as he fights. If he can make it onto the hayloft, he can teleport anyone who follows him back to ground level. The Quickling Runners make their way immediately to the weakest characters using Quick Cuts. Note that all the fey can score critical hits on a roll of 19 due to the Fey Knights’ Feywild Tactics ability.
Written by Greg Howley, from greghowley.com