the cave girl: earthquake fight!

The Cave Girl by Edgar Rice Burroughs

The Cave Girl by Edgar Rice Burroughs

In Edgar Rice Burroughs’ The Cave Girl, lovely cave girl Nadara is saved from the clutches of hideous cave man Thurg by a well-timed earthquake.

An earthquake during a fight sounds like a fun complication to me, but we can’t be relying on all sorts of coincidences. Our D&D must be rigorously realistic!

The obvious way to stage an earthquake fight – the way these things usually go down – is to have the PCs trying to stop a ritual.

In order to provide full scope for earthquake fun, the fight should be in a setting with lots of earthquake-destroyable scenery. Perhaps a Greek-style temple with lots of pillars. Let’s put a river through the temple too: water or lava, depending in the god!

After a turn or two, if the PCs haven’t killed the ritualist, the ground shakes – a fortitude attack that knocks people prone. A few turns later, the same thing happens, with a stronger fortitude attack and maybe some damage. If the PCs haven’t stopped the ritual by the third check, the whole battlefield changes.

When the major earthquake happens, suspend the battle and, ignoring the battlemat, run a skill challenge where people try to avoid being swallowed by rents in the earth, run to high ground, etc. When the skill challenge is done, whip out a new map – a post-earthquake map, complete with chasms, fallen pillars, a water- (or lava-) fall, and a few pieces of unbroken ground. Depending on how everyone did, they’re at various places on the battlefield: hanging from exposed roots in a chasm, trapped under a pillar, or standing on one of the untouched areas of ground.


3 Responses to “the cave girl: earthquake fight!”

  1. katre says:

    I like this idea conceptually, but the few times I’ve tried something like it, the PCs managed to disable the ritualist much faster than I expected, and the awesome result battle never happened.

    That’s the main reason why, in the underwater campaign of the Blade of Dawn series, the PCs stumbled upon the ritual just after it ended, and thus I got to show off the battle around the underwater whirlpool of evil. If you guys had managed to stop the ritual before it completed, there’s a cool encounter I couldn’t have used.

  2. Mike says:

    The “Orcs of Stonefang Pass” module has earthquakes in it. I forgot the exact rules but one of the coolest aspects was that after you are knocked prone, you slide two spaces in a random direction. The cleric in our party slid right into a fissure and was lost to the group for the encounter!

  3. paul paul says:

    katre, quick fix: have the evil ritualists trying to STOP the earthquake 😉

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