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Help with Wild Hunt Encounters

 
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 30, 2019 9:13 am    Post subject: Help with Wild Hunt Encounters Reply with quote

I’m looking for help and suggestions designing some very high-level encounters for the climax of my campaign.

The situation is this: On nights when either moon is full, the snow elf deity Tarsellis Meunniduin manifests on Oerth as the Master of the Wild Hunt to hunt down only the most powerful prey—the monsters and personages whose defeat will swell his reputation as the greatest hunter. While Tarsellis and the Wild Hunt ride, his true divine body sleeps in his dark faerie realm where the Feywild intersects the Shadow Plane.

The main PCs are around 7th lvl. As Celene rises upon Growfest 4th, CY596, they have freed from magical imprisonment four super-powerful retired PCs from past campaigns (a monk, a scout, an illusionist/cleric, and a cleric/ranger) and one famous NPC paladin—all of levels 16-27, most of which have contended with divine beings in the past—worthy prey for the Wild Hunt. The high-level party’s mission is to keep Tarsellis chasing them through all twelve hours of the night (from moonrise to moonset) to buy the low-level party time for their own divine mission, sponsored by Ehlonna.

The low-level PCs will meanwhile be entering the dark faerie plane where Tarsellis sleeps and attempt to surreptitiously replace his frozen heart into his body before he can pull his attention from his glorious hunt long enough to realize what’s afoot (in mythic times, Tarsellis pulled his own heart out of his body and dashed it into the Oerth so he would never again be weakened by love or mercy). (This idea originated with Rasgon on these very forums.)

My players will be alternating between playing both parties—the current characters and the retired superheroes. I’ve decided that the Wild Hunt will catch up to the high-level party once per hour for the twelve hours of the night. Tarsellis will be accompanied by supernatural hounds, horses, scouts, and riders, appropriate challenges for the party, but Tarsellis himself is a lesser god and I intend to give him all of the powers the Glossography recommends, added onto these statistics concocted by canonfire user Palm many years ago:

http://www.canonfire.com/cfnew/modules.php?name=News&file=print&sid=279

What I need help with is coming up with twelve distinct and interesting encounters as the Wild Hunt catches up to the party. Ideally, these would start out challenging (or maybe deceptively unchallenging) and get more difficult every hour until they’re just about impossible to survive; this creates an incentive for the low-level heroes to hurry up and complete their quest!

With a party this powerful, it’s of course impossible to predict what they’ll do. Do to some other machinations in my world, they won’t be able to just teleport beyond the boundaries of Sterich or flee into other planes of existence—but even if they teleport within the bounds of Sterich, I don’t think anything prevents Tarsellis and the Wild Hunt from just following them and appearing on schedule.

The key to this is that Tarsellis is a sportsman and really wants a good hunt, an epic ride and pursuit of these overweening mortals—he wants encounters that will inspire legendary stories of his own greatness in the centuries to come—though, of course, he does actually want to bring down all 5 of the characters by the end of the night.

Does anyone have any ideas or suggestion on designing these encounters?

I don’t necessarily need mechanical stuff as much as I need environments or tactics Tarsellis might use—stuff to keep 12 encounters from seeming like the same thing over and over.

I also don’t know a whole lot about the real-world type of hunting which inspired the Wild Hunt (riding to hounds or such? fox-hunting?) but maybe there’s something there I should steal.

Any thoughts or suggestions would be quite welcome!
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Onslow
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Edmundscott,
I love the premise but am a little confused as to the hunt catching up to the party every hour and the challenges becoming greater through time. Is this because Tarsellis underestimates the party or is deliberately toying with them in order to prolong the hunt? If he is toying with them I would have him personally keep his distance for the first few encounters mainly employing his servants. He could also set up traps or steer the party to certain locations/situations as a means to assess the party prior to coming in for the kill. If you set it up just right you could have the lower level party replace Tarsellis' heart just at the moment he is about to destroy the epic party, at this point he may or may not be overcome by emotion and mercy and spare the epic party. This has the potential to add to the drama of the respective encounters. If you can I would have different players play the two parties to add to the suspense.
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edmundscott
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Joined: Sep 20, 2001
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PostPosted: Wed May 01, 2019 1:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My reasoning behind not overwhelming the party right away is that, because of the reputations of these five, Tarsellis knows this will be the most historic and legendary hunt he'll ever undergo, so he indeed wants to prolong it, but also to learn of his opponents by watching their tactics and abilities, and, finally, to wear them down and encourage them to use up their spells before he makes his own appearance to finish them off.
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rasgon
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Joined: Aug 03, 2001
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Location: Michigan

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2019 1:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Wild Hunt pursues the party through various landscapes.

Maze of Ice
The landscape becomes stark glaciers and frigid ravines. Cold-based creatures (winter wolves, etc.) attack.

Maze of Thorns
The Hunt pursues the party through a wooded maze bounded by razor-sharp thorns. Occasionally there are pits with wooden stakes on the bottom.

Maze of Earth
The party flees underground, through hollow hills into the twisting tunnels of the Underdark.

Maze of Mists
The party flees across moorland bounded by poisonous fog.

Maze of Shadows
An urban labyrinth with shifting walls and strength-draining shadows instead of human beings.

Maze of Night
The party flees across the night sky, harried by starry constellations in the shape of animals.

Maze of Clouds
The party flees across solid clouds, pursued by the Wild Hunt with a chariot drawn by dragons.

Maze of the Silver Moon
The party flees across a silver landscape beset with storms and lightning.

Maze of the Azure Moon
The party flees across an aquamarine landscape, the air is thin and grows thinner. If they don't keep running they risk passing out from lack of air.

Maze of the Purple Desert
This is one of Trithereon's planes. "A barren desert of purple rock and green skies."

Maze of the Milky Swamps
One of Trithereon's planes. "A swamp o fmilk-colored water with red plants."

Maze of the Gray Plains
One of Trithereon's planes. "A featureless plain of gray and black whose ground glows as if it were translucent fire and whose heavens are black and opaque."
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 10:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, Rasgon, those are really interesting ideas. I hadn't considered the hunt defining the terrain like that, as with such high-level characters I'm used to just letting them do whatever they want and trying to react to their tactics in the moment i.e. I was expecting the Hunt to pursue them wherever they decided to go.

I'm curious what you'd do in terms of getting the party into these planes.

The classic Greyhawk method has always been something like Here's an unknown object of interest discovered probably in a dungeon, and when you interact with it, maybe you get a save, maybe you don't, you're transported to wherever. What's good about that is the transportation follows as a reaction from the PCs' actions.

Would you just have the Wild Hunt transport the party by fiat to one of these terrains? or could they avoid it in some way, either with a saving throw or by not interacting with some sort of gate/object/etc.?

There's a lot of tactical possibilities in changing up the terrain so I'm intrigued by these options, but I also don't want pull any DM hijinks that seem unfair--I mean other than the basic premise of being hunted down by a god.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Sun May 05, 2019 8:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was thinking the Hunt would change the terrain by fiat. But I take your point about allowing the players to choose where they want to go.

Maybe each of the hounds in Tarsellis's pack is associated with its own demi-realm, which it can retreat into and attack from phase-spider style, so to get it to stop harrying the party they have to follow it into its realm? Just a thought.
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edmundscott
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PostPosted: Mon May 06, 2019 4:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Oh yeah! Or the hounds can grab individual characters and retreat with them to their demi-planes, necessitating the rest of the party follow to save their friend.
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