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Disable the Device

Basics: a device is making life hard on the players. They need to shut it down to have a chance of surviving.

Set-ups: the players encounter a device that's actively making life more difficult for the players. It might spawn enemies, empower them, or threaten to outright kill the players with damage or status effects. It doesn't have to be the only threat during the fight, but while it's active the players will have a hard time defeating the other threats.

Progression: the device can be disabled by damage, skill checks or other methods you deem applicable. The players need to go through several stages to disable the device. The device doesn't have to be defenseless - it might retaliate when the players complete a stage. The effects of the device may increase or decrease when the players get closer to disabling it.

Success: the players go through the final stage and disable the device. It powers down and its effects are no longer noticable.

Failure: the players don't disable it and need to flee. The effects of the device continue haunting the land. Alternatively, the players do manage to disable the device, but it explodes violently, harming both friend and foe. The explosion might also collapse the location or destroy something the players need.

Risks: be careful that the fight doesn't become about only making skill checks to disable the device, because that gets boring really quickly.

 

Stop the Ritual

Basics: the players happen upon an enemy activity like a ritual that is near completion. If the enemies manage to complete the activity in time, it's bad news for the players.

Set-ups: the players enter an area where enemies are busy doing something. It may be obvious what's going on, or the players will only suspect there's something going on because a number of enemies don't fight them.

Progression: there are two ways to run this. The first is with a time limit: if the players haven't prevented the enemies from completing the ritual in a set number of rounds, they fail. The second is an enemy skill challenge: the enemies need a number of successes to complete their activity, which they automatically get during their turn. The players can prevent them from getting successes by killing them, with status effects or with opposing skill checks.

Success: the players prevent the enemies from completing their activity, and the enemies will either get mad and try to kill the players or surrender/run away.

Failure: the enemies complete their activity. This either ends the encounter or introduces a new element to the fight, like a demon-possessed cultist or some freshly awoken undead. It could also transition into Disable the Device.

Risk: make sure the players can prevent the activity by fighting as well as through other methods like skill checks. Also know your players when choosing a time limit or number of enemy skill checks, since an optimized party can beat a time limit much easier than an unoptimized one.

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