New terrain features
Let’s say you’re a veteran GM, you’ve done lava, airships, rubble, vines and cliffs ad nauseum. Have no fear I’ve got something new for you. Presenting a selection of brand new terrain features.
Rope/Chain: Who hasn’t wanted to buckle swash alongside Zorro, Flynn, and sparrow? These ropes are meant for swinging and launching with. They are anchored in two spots, one usually being the ceiling or other high up location while the other is tantalizingly within reach. When you reach the lower end of the rope you may as a free action take hold and untie (or cut) your end. This moves you a specific distance along a specific path and you may release at any point along that path. If following up this dashing maneuver you count as charging and most likely attacking from higher ground. This works the same for the classic chandelier rope cutting to launch you straight upwards. If the rope would allow travel more than 100 ft assume it takes one turn of swinging per 100 ft to reach the end.
Springboard: From the classic wooden ships plank, to the trampoline, canvas awning, or even an actual springboard this is a classic. The springboard exists to facilitate high flying maneuvers, when entering a space with a springboard you may make an acrobatics check to leap from your current space when you do roll your acrobatics check twice and add the results together to determine the total distance covered.
Bounce pad: Whether a giant rubber sphere, ring ropes at a local wrestling arena, or a wall that reflects kinetic energy a bounce pad forces someone back further and harder than they hit it. Someone moving ten feet before crashing into the bounce pad moves back twenty feet either straight back or diagonally in either direction similar to a bull rush combat maneuver. This movement does provoke attacks of opportunity and uses the subjects movement up as though they were travelling on favorable terrain. If they would move farther than they would normally be able they fall prone at the end of their movement. For example a monk with 60 ft speed travels 20 ft before hitting a bounce pad and is pushed back 40 ft, which uses only another 20 ft of movement. After bouncing the monk could still move another 20 ft. If their speed were only 30 ft however they’d have bounced twenty feet and then fallen prone. Bounce pads function even if they are hit while charging, bull rushed or falling. If a bounce pad pushes a subject into another creatures square they make opposed CMB checks, with the looser falling prone and taking 1d6 damage per 10 ft bounced.
Conveyor belts: This category also includes boats floating down river, carriages that you’re standing on rather than steering, sleds whipping down a mountain, and any other instance where the ground under you is taking you away. This seems like a simple concept but is often hard to integrate since on any given character’s turn the terrain is not actually moving. There are a few ways to handle this. What most commonly happens is that once per initiative the object moves its full speed along with everyone on it. This is simplest to manage but can often times lead to things feeling stilted and disconnected. If you don’t look too closely one could also recommend breaking the movement into small increments that happen between each character’s turn which feels much more natural, althoughrarely does an objects overall speed divide nicely into the number of combatants so some generous rounding is required. I’d also recommend counting anyone on such a conveyance count as mounted and charging against if they travel more than 80 ft. This of course shouldn’t apply to someone mounted on the same conveyance as them.
Favorable terrain: This can come in a lot of different forms, from charging downhill, rolling down the river on a log, having the wind at your back, or magical areas and spells that grant swiftness. Favorable terrain is the exact opposite of difficult terrain. The second square of favorable terrain does not use a square of movement, nor does every 2 squares thereafter. This a line of 4 squares of the terrain uses only 10 ft of movement. Charging is allowed over favorable terrain and in fact grants an extra+2 on the attack roll on top of the normal benefits for charging. In some cases this terrain grants its benefit in only one direction, in other cases it’s omnidirectional. Favorable terrain is excellent for maneuvering around the battlefield and getting the drop on the enemy.
Slipstream: This functions like a much more powerful version of favorable terrain. A square of slipstream has a specific direction and anyone entering it moves in that direction. A chain of slipstreams can cause a very quick way to travel across the battlefield. Ranged weapon attacks directed into the slipstream instead target whatever creature is at the end of it with the same bonus it was fired with. Movement caused by the slipstream does not provoke an attack of opportunity. The GM is free to choose whether or not to allow a strength check to move through without being pushed, in which case the DC will generally be 20+2 for every 5 ft of stream. If a slipstream throws a target against a wall or another creature they generally take damage using the same rules as falling the same distance. If a slipstream directs a target into the air they land 1d6 ft in a random direction, unless there is a platform at the top of the slipstream.
Switch squares: This magical terrain feature is always paired with another. Whenever a creature occupies both connected squares they instantly exchange places. This effect is activated only once per round and is treated as a teleportation effect. There is no save allowed generally as stepping onto the square counts as being willing, however the GM may grant a will save to either or both unwilling parties, if one succeeds the effect fails entirely.
Sharing stone: A sharing stone is a highly magical statue that allows an effect to be stored and then invoked at a later date. These stones are usually carved into statues resembling the common races, but their effect is anything but common. When the statue is touched, attacked or subject to an effect, and survives, it remembers that effect and the next person to touch the statue experiences it. A sharing stone struck by a longsword for 28 damage for example remembers it and the next person to touch the stone takes 28 slashing damage. A stone given a gentle kiss on the lips likewise would relay that to the toucher regardless of how they touched the statue. Due to the myriad uses for such statues they are beloved by both hedonists and sadists alike. An effect stored in the statue can even be a spell and it uses the caster level, duration, dc and other qualities of the spell as it was cast with the new target being the toucher and them alone. If the spell allows a save the toucher may make the save as well. Since these statues are often subject to intense attacks they are frequently made of living steel or adamantine (which makes their name somewhat of a misnomer). It’s generally assumed anyone entering the same square as the statue touches it in some way, though if they are careful they could move through the square without touching it. (Generally this requires an acrobatics check with a DC ranging from 10 to 30). A favorite tactic of devious minds is to place a single fireball trap in a room filled with sharing stones to create a deadly forest of stone ready to unleash wicked flames.
Fountain of doubt: A classic hallmark of fantasy adventures, the magical fountain. Who knows what power it possesses? Not you. A fountain of doubt is highly resistant to any forms of divination or identification. The fountain does not radiate any form of magic and any magical attempt to identify its effects or predict its results fails in the vaguest way possible. It cannot be confirmed nor denied if this was due to some magic of the fountain, or just a more common explanation. Furthermore much like a potion anyone drinking from the fountain is considered willing and thusly is allowed no saving throw to resist its mysterious effects. Some fountains possess effects that are very obvious, such as polymorphing into another kind of creature, and some effects do not even emulate known spells (and can basically do whatever the GM likes). Others are so subtle that one wonders if they truly found a fountain of doubt at all…
Hopefully this has given you all some great ideas for scenic and interesting fights and environments. Try them out and let me know what you think, and tell me about your own interesting terrain ideas.