New 4e Terrain Powers from the DMG 2

As suggested in my last post, I think there’s a huge amount of potential for additional terrain powers. In this post, I’m mining the terrain section of Chapter 4 of the 4e DMG (pp 64-69) for types of terrain that might have associated powers, which brings me to the realization that I have only ever skimmed this section before. This will probably be an ongoing series of articles, particularly because the original seems to have been tolerably popular.
Before I dive into it, I want to comment on the WotC article I linked before, here. The article includes some really neat ideas for terrain powers relating to specific dungeon dressing, and I especially like the way powers that take a move action at heroic take a minor action at paragon or epic. I think this is a great way to keep players using terrain powers at higher levels without scaling up the damage or other effects, given that the opportunity cost of those actions increases. Oh, and the article remembers to introduce some terrain powers that don’t rely on Athletics to use.
Pivoting Statue  Single-Use Terrain
This statue is built to pivot in place. You hang your enemy on the statue’s sword, and kick the base of the statue so that it whirls around.
Standard Action
Requirement: You must have an opponent grappled, and you or your opponent must be adjacent to the statue.
Check: Athletics check (hard DC) to hang the opponent on the statue firmly.
Success: The opponent is immobilized until the end of your next turn.
Target: One grappled opponent
Attack: Level + 3 vs. Fortitude
Hit: Target is dazed (save ends) and takes ongoing 5 damage per tier (save ends). This ends the grapple.
Miss: Target grants combat advantage until the end of your next turn. This ends the grapple.
Maybe a little cartoonish, but fun.
Burning Tapestry Single-Use Terrain
How about some fire, Scarecrow?
Standard Action (heroic)/Move Action (paragon or epic)
Requirement: You must be adjacent to the tapestry and have an at-will attack with the Fire keyword.
Check: Athletics check (moderate DC) to pull the tapestry down.
Success: The tapestry falls.
Target: Each creature in a close blast 3 out from the tapestry.
Attack: Level + 3 vs. Reflex
Hit: The target takes ongoing 5 fire damage per tier and is slowed until it is no longer in the initial area.
This is a blatant riff off of the DMG2’s Tapestry terrain power, but I felt like they ignored one of the other, more brutal things you could do with something large and flammable.
Crate and Barrel… Ass Over Teakettle  Single-Use Terrain
Other than the chandelier thing, this is about the most common move in all of swashbuckling.
Move Action (heroic)/Minor Action (paragon or epic)
Requirement: You must be adjacent to the barrel, and the barrel must be within one square of the top of a set of stairs.
Check: Athletics or Acrobatics check (moderate DC) to kick the barrel down the stairs behind you.
Success: The barrel bounces down the stairs, threatening anyone in its wake.
Target: Each creature standing on the stairs below the barrel’s starting point.
Attack: Level + 3 vs. Reflex
Hit: The target is pushed to the base of the stairs and knocked prone, taking falling damage as appropriate.
This power has some nonstandard things going on with its area effect, but it’s the kind of thing that should be clearly defined on the map. I figure a staircase with multiple landings on the way up counts as multiple staircases for the purposes of this hit effect.

Do Not Disturb the Waters Single-Use Terrain
You would swear you saw something stirring in the murky waters of the pool.
Minor Action (within 3 squares) or Standard Action (within 4 to 10 squares)
Requirement: You must have a free hand.
Check: Nature vs easy DC (within 3 squares) or hard DC (within 4 to 10 squares) to hurl a stone into the pool and attract the attention of… something.
Success: The rock splashes into the pool, and a dark shape moves within the waters. Long, snaking tentacles lash out and attack every nearby creature.
Target: Each creature in a close blast 3 from the pool’s edge
Attack: Level + 3 vs. Reflex
Hit: Limited normal damage expression, and grabbed (high Athletics or Acrobatics DC to escape). Gargantuan creatures are not grappled.
This is obviously ripped off from the entrance to Moria. You could reasonably have a sequence of later powers that become available once the Waters Have Been Disturbed (Dammit, Pippin!).
Damaged Wall  Single-Use Terrain
The masonry of this wall is cracked, and air blows through it.
Standard Action
Requirement: You must have an opponent grappled, and you must be within two squares of the damaged wall.
Check: Dungeoneering vs moderate DC to find the critical point in the wall where impact might break it.
Success: You find a place where the masonry is damaged badly enough that a heavy impact might break through.
Target: The grappled opponent
Attack: Level + 3 vs. AC
Hit: Limited moderate damage expression, target is knocked prone, target slides to the square on the other side of the damaged wall (which becomes an open square on the battlefield that is difficult terrain if it wasn’t already), and make a secondary attack.
Secondary Attack: Level + 3 vs. Fortitude
Hit: Target is stunned until the end of its next turn.
This might exceed the level of complication one wants in a terrain, but I liked its potential for opening up a new area of the battlefield. If this is too complicated, the Secondary Attack would be easy to drop.
Blood Wasp Nest Single-Use Terrain
Hanging from the branch, you see a massive nest of wasps… awful, scarlet wasps the size of a man’s fist.
Standard Action
Check: Nature check vs moderate DC to recognize the blood wasps and their likely reaction to disturbance, and an Athletics check vs easy DC to hurl a stone that causes the nest to fall. This Athletics check counts as a ranged attack and provokes opportunity attacks accordingly.
Success: The nest falls to the ground, causing the blood wasps to swarm out. This creates a zone within close burst 2 of the nest. The zone lasts until the end of the encounter.
Effect: Each creature that enters the zone or starts its turn in the zone takes 3 poison damage per tier. For every three creatures the zone damages in this way, the blood wasps enter a greater frenzy, and the zone’s damage increases by 3.
I had to include this because the Princess mentioned blood wasps in the Earthdawn game, but never really told us what they did. Enjoy!
Blood Rock Sacrifices  Single-Use Terrain
Recalling the names of those who died upon these stones, you invoke them and call upon their aid.
Standard Action
Requirement: You must be standing on an area of blood rock.
Check: History check vs high DC, or Religion check vs moderate DC
Success: You invoke the names of those who died here and call them to aid you against your enemies.
Target: Each enemy standing on an area of blood rock that is contiguous with the blood rock on which you are standing
Attack: Level + 3 vs Will (implement applies)
Hit: Normal moderate damage expression (radiant, psychic, or necrotic damage, depending on whether mostly good, neutral, or evil people died here), and targets take a penalty to all defenses equal to your Wisdom or your Charisma bonus, whichever is higher.
Miss: Angered by your demands, the dead exact a price against you. For every target you miss, you take 3 damage (radiant, psychic, or necrotic as above) per tier.
Mainly I liked the visual of conjuring the dead out of the earth. Also, I wanted a few more terrain powers that were targeted at spellcasters, though I certainly appreciate characters of the martial source getting a lot of coolness out of non-magic-related terrain powers. This is more-or-less in line with things that invokers do already, so for them the main benefit is the unusual (possibly massive) area effect and not having to worry about opportunity attacks. Damage balancing could use some examination here.
That’s all for now. In future posts on this topic, I’ll go through other fantastic terrains and any bits of dungeon dressing that occur to me. If you have ideas, by all means share them.

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2 thoughts on “New 4e Terrain Powers from the DMG

  • Kainenchen

    The chance of the pivoting statue showing up in Three Gates Prison is High.

    Also, I think that the area of effect for Ass over Teakettle is clear enough. I also like the idea of aquatic Whatever being more of a terrain feature than a monster in and of itself. I think that ideas along those lines would serve well the Truth In Yellow, for it makes quite a lot of sense for the environment to be more the enemy than critters.

  • Shieldhaven

    It would be pretty cool to write a series of areas really focused on the threat presented by the environment, where the bad guys were in a lot of ways just as screwed over by it as the PCs. =)

    I'm glad you like the pivoting statue!