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Goober4473
2016-02-08, 11:02 AM
Tracking movement within a chase is tedious, and I don't like that the dramatic tension of a chase can easily be removed by a small difference in movement speed, so I've come up with simplified chase system:

Instead of tracking movement/distance, track two values: escape and capture, each beginning at 0. If escape reaches 10, the pursued get away. If capture reaches 10, the pursuers catch up and a normal combat ensues. Because both tracks advance at once, much like death saves, eventually something is going to happen, and you won't be stuck in a chase for too long. Complications happen normally, but any complication that would cost extra movement instead adds 1 to escape or capture, depending on which side the complication happened to.

I made a fancy card (https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bwir5V4Ifx5dZl82dlFVYXRTT1U/view?usp=sharing), as I am want to do, to track these values with check boxes. The card assumes the player's are the ones doing the running away.

At the end of each round, or during the enemy's turn, check off some number of escape/capture boxes (depending on if the players are running away or doing the chasing; escape if the enemy is running away, or capture if the enemy is chasing) based on the chase difficulty. 2 boxes is a good default. The players can then, on their turn, make skill checks or take other actions to try and advance their own track. For instance, they could Dash, in which case they would make a Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check, against a DC depending on the speed of the enemies, and on a success, they would advance their track by 1. Other actions, like evading detection, using the terrain to your advantage, using your knowledge of the pursuers, yelling at people to get out of your way, or any other action might also call for a check, or possibly automatically succeed.

Here are a couple examples I put together for my Out of the Abyss game (spoilers):

Steam Chase (2,000 XP)

This long series of passages is filled with small cracks in the ground, which sporadically vent steam. At a slower pace, they are easily avoided. In a combat, place a few steam vents on the map. Each has a 25% chance of venting on initiative count 20. Anyone on the vent must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 fire damage.
During a chase, things are not so easy see Chase Complications below.

Creatures: 4 drow (MM 128, CR 1/4) and 2 quaggoths (MM 256, CR 2) hound the party. If only one drow remains, they flee if the battle is not otherwise going well, leaving any remaining quaggoths to cover their escape.

Chase!
Check off two capture boxes at the end of each round.
A DC 15 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check as art of a Dash action can be made to run away, checking off an escape box. A failure by 5 or more checks off a capture box instead. A 25 or higher checks off two escape boxes.
A DC 15 Dexterity (Stealth) check can be made to hide in the steam to check off an escape box. A failure by 5 or more leads to a dead end, checking off a capture box instead. A 25 or higher checks off two escape boxes.

Chase Complications
1-6: Steam vent! You must make a DC 12 Dexterity saving throw or take 2d6 fire damage. You have advantage on Dexterity (Stealth) checks this turn.
7: Slippery floor! Make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or check off one capture/escape box.
8: Steam in your eyes! Make a DC 10 Constitution saving throw or you are blinded until the end of your next turn.
9: Sudden drop! Make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or fall 10 feet, taking 1d6 bludgeoning damage.
10: You trip over a sleeping steam mephit (MM 217, CR 1/4). You must make a DC 15 Charisma (Persuasion) check to apologize or it harries you for the rest of the chase. You can repeat the check as an action to get it to go away.
11-20: No complication.


Boneyard Chase (2,000 XP)

A set of obviously worked stone doors suddenly appears in the otherwise natural cave wall ahead. Beyond the doors lies a series of twisting catacombs. Piles of bone litter the floor and the many niches carved in the walls.

Creatures: 4 drow (MM 128, CR 1/4) and 2 quaggoths (MM 256, CR 2) hound the party. If only one drow remains, they flee if the battle is not otherwise going well, leaving any remaining quaggoths to cover their escape.

Chase!
Check off an escape box at the start of the chase if the party blocks the door behind them.
Check off two capture boxes at the end of each round.
A DC 15 Strength (Athletics) or Dexterity (Acrobatics) check as art of a Dash action can be made to run away, checking off an escape box. A failure by 5 or more checks off a capture box instead. A 25 or higher checks off two escape boxes.
A DC 15 Dexterity (Stealth) check can be made to dart around a corner to check off an escape box. A failure by 5 or more leads to a dead end, checking off a capture box instead. A 25 or higher checks off two escape boxes.

Chase Complications
1-3: Bones! Make a DC 10 Dexterity (Acrobatics) check or check off one capture/escape box.
4-6: Twisty passages, all the same confuse you. Make a DC 10 Intelligence check or check off a capture box.
7: Arrow trap! Make a DC 10 Dexterity taking throw or take 1d8 piercing damage.
8: Poison dart! Make a DC 10 Dexterity saving throw or take 1 piercing damage and be forced to make a DC 12 Constitution saving throw or take 2d6 poison damage.
9: You run into a skeleton (MM 272, CR 1/4), which makes an attack against you (+4 to hit, 1d6+2 piercing damage).
10: A minotaur skeleton (MM 273, CR 2) begins chasing you. If you check off an escape box, it give up. Each time you check off a capture box (but only once per round), it makes an attack against you.
11-20: No complication.