Sometimes a DM is at a loss for how to run an encounter, or that DM may have a party that either cannot nor desire to use tactics or think through solutions. This has often been raised as an issue, and DMs can find it frustrating to build an encounter involving complex layers only to have their players charge through and then blame the DM for any failures. I’ve seen this myself several times. The key is to embrace your party’s chaotic nature from time to time. Engaging the players whom have this “random” outlook at least periodically can only improve rapport at the table. A DM might even find this can lighten the mood at the table, and satisfy the needs of the “chaotic” player so that they might be open to more involved or thought-provoking encounters later on.
This is where and encounter like “Coin Flip” comes into play. Also, since this is the 13th in the series of “Out of The Box Encounters”, I thought some “luck” should be involved in the success of this encounter.
Suggested level: Any
Somewhere within a dungeon, the party will enter what looks like an empty room. Once everybody is inside, the floor will appear to fall away, with the exception of a ledge on their side and a similar one on the far side. into clouds below. A “new floor” will appear occupying this empty space between the two ledges. What will appear will be an interlocking pattern of giant coins laid flat floating like an interlocking floor, square in shape, with a solid ledge on the far side. Each giant coin is large enough for one player to stand upon, and since they touch each other like circular floor tile, it appears that the floating floor can be crossed. Each “coin” piece is a 10’ diameter tile.
The size of the floor is up to the DM, as the number of coins used will determine the length and intensity of the encounter. The minimum number of coins is 9 as they can form a perfect square. You can use any number of tokens for this, so long as they form a square. A layout of four rows of four coins each in a square also works, as does adding one coin to each row or column, so long as it forms a square. The DM could use actual coins like quarters or even 1″ diameter washers as counters to represent floor tiles. Even drawing circles on a playing mat or similar surface will do so that the players can visualize the area.
The function of this usage of coins is as follows:
The coins will form the floor upon which they cross. The area above the coin is considered as part of the coin to a height of 30’. Players cannot travel higher than the coin beyond that height as a magical force field restricts travel upwards beyond that point. The small “diamond” shaped space between the coins can be passed through by Tiny or smaller creatures, but doing so teleports that creature to a random coin…with all that entails.
Each time a player enters a floor piece, two randomizing functions occur. First, a coin is tossed. The player standing on the coin calls heads or tails. If they win the toss, nothing happens. If they lose the coin toss, then consult a table like Wild Magic or Wand of Wonder. The effect generated on the roll will affect the coin or the person upon that coin unless the occupying player successfully passes a DC 14 Dexterity saving throw.
If they either pass the saving throw or the coin toss, they can choose to proceed unaffected to the next adjacent coin on the next turn on their initiative. Entering the space of another coin activates the coin toss again, meaning a new coin flip, a new effect roll, and a new save. A player can cross one coin as an action. That means that they can choose to Dash and cover two squares. If they do so, they will need to pass both coin tosses and Dexterity saving throws in order to successfully cross two coins. A failure in either a coin toss or Dex save halts the movement.
If the effect generated on the Wild Magic or Wand of Wonder table (whichever you are using) creates and area of effect condition, it only effects that coin. If the generated effect allows for a teleportation, then the player can certainly do so to either another coin or to a ledge, so long as it’s within range. Flying creatures are subjected to the same movement restriction as walking/Dashing creatures, as the area above the coins is subjected to the same condition to a height of 30’ (where it is contained by a magical force field).
Summoned creatures created by either table will appear on a random adjacent coin next to the summoner. The creature is then itself subject to the coin’s effect.
Standing in a coin once the effect has gone off does not generate an additional effect. Only one player can occupy a coin at a given time. A player can choose to remain on a coin for any length of time, but when they move to a new coin, the above effects can occur. If a player leaves a coin to occupy a new coin, and a different player occupies the coin that the first player just left, then the coin the is being newly occupied generates a new effect randomly.
Players could potentially use Teleport, Dimension Door, or Misty Step to cross the floor quickly, so long as the floor size allows for the spell to cross from ledge to ledge in one go.
Players might still be able to cast spells on other characters on the field of coins, so long as the target character is in range. However, “Touch” range spells will be difficult, as only one character can occupy a coin at a time, so characters on two adjacent coins whom which to convey spells through “touch” will have to be exactly the right spot to do so.
This will continue until all the players have crossed the coin floor and reached the opposing ledge. Neither ledge generates an effect and are immune to the effects generated by any of the coins.
Once all players are on the opposite ledge from where they started, the room reverts to it’s plain appearance and a secret stone door will open on the side opposite to which they entered.
None except what may be summoned by random generation.
None except what may be randomly summoned
The number of complications in this encounter are limitless. There are all sorts of random dangers involved in either the Wand of Wonder or Wild Magic tables. Smart players will try to cross the field as quickly as possible, but players who revel in chaos may wander around the field until they no longer can. This could have two effects: They could satisfy their needs for random events, or they could end up rolling a new character.
DM s might also note that this is a great test to find out whom among your players are truly invested in seeing their characters play out or whom just want as much carnage as possible. For those players whom want carnage, they will soon discover that “Coin Flip” only affects their choices, and they cannot enforce their style on others whom are on the field.
I fell into gaming in the oddest of ways. Coming out of a bad divorce, my mom tried a lot of different things to keep my brother and I busy and out of trouble. It didn't always work. One thing that I didn't really want to do, but did because my mom asked, was enroll in Venturers. As an older Scout-type movement, I wasn't really really for the whole camping-out thing. Canoe trips and clean language were not my forte. Drag racing, BMX and foul language were.
What surprised me though was one change of pace our Scout leader tried. He DMed a game of the original D&D that came out after Chainmail (and even preceedd the Red Box). All the weapons just did 1d6 damage, and the three main demi-humans (Elf, Dwarf and Halfling) were not only races, but classes. There were three alignments (Lawful, Neutral and Chaotic). It was very basic. I played all the way through high school and met a lot of new people through gaming. My expected awkwardness around the opposite sex disappeared when I had one game that was seven girls playing. They, too, never thought that they would do this, and it was a great experiement.
But it got me hooked. I loved gaming, and my passion for it became infectious. Despite hanging with a very rough crowd who typically spent Fridays scoring drugs, getting into fights, and whatnot, I got them all equally hooked on my polyhedral addiction. I DMed guys around my table that had been involved in the fast-living/die young street culture of the 80s, yet they took to D&D like it was second nature. They still talk to me about those days, even when one wore a rival patch on his back to the one I was wearing. We just talked D&D. It was our language.
Dungeons and Dragons opened up a whole new world too. I met lots off oddballs along with some great people. I played games like Star Frontiers, Gamma World, Car Wars, Battletech, lots of GURPS products, Cyberpunk, Shadowrun, Twilight 2000, Rolemaster, Champions, Marvel Superheroes, Earth Dawn...the list goes on. There was even a time while I was risiding with a patch on my back and I would show up for Mechwarrior (the clix kind) tournaments. I was the odd man out there.
Gaming lead to me attending a D&D tournament at a local convention, which lead to being introduced to my paintball team, called Black Company (named after the book), which lead to meeting my wife. She was the sister of my 2iC (Second in Command), and I fell in love at first sight.
Gaming lead to me meeting my best friend, who was my best man at my wedding and is the godfather of my youngest daughter.
Life being what it is, there was some drama with my paintball team/D&D group, and we parted ways for a number of years. In that time I tried out two LARP systems, which taught me a lot about public speaking, improvisation, and confidence. There was a silver lining. I didn't play D&D again for a very long time, though.
Then 5E came out.
I discovered the Adventurer's League, and made a whole new group of friends. I discovered Acquisitions Incorporated, Dwarven Tavern, and Nerdarchy. I was hooked again.
And now my daughter is playing. I introduced her to 5E and my style of DMing, and we talk in "gamer speak" a lot to each other (much to the shagrin of my wife/her mother...who still doesn't "get it"). It's my hope that one day she'll be behind the screen DMing her kids through an amazing adventure. Time will tell.
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