Bridging the Gap

On December 1, 2004, Posted by , In Campaign Workbook, With No Comments

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This instalment of the Campaign Workbook presents five unique bridges with unusual properties that will make them memorable encounters in your campaign. They can serve to span rivers, Underdark chasms, swamps, and other daunting barriers. Each bridge description includes an assigned challenge rating, Award the characters XP for the bridge if they manage to cross it. If the PCs must fight opponents on the bridge, include the bridge’s CR with the opponents’ ratings when determining the battle’s EL.

When running a battle on a bridge, keep in mind the distance that a character may fall off of the structure. Use the traps listed on pages 70 to 74 of the Dungeon Master’s Guide, in particular the pit traps, to determine falling damage appropriate to the party’s level. A bull rush attack becomes devastating on a bridge, a single strike can send a PC or monster over the edge and out of the battle. Flying monsters are also more dangerous than normal, as the PCs have far less room to manoeuvre. Bridges also create bottlenecks that force the characters and monsters to follow a strictly defined path. On a bridge, the party might have no other option than to go through a waiting hydra or troll

Bridge of Bones (CR 2)

This ghastly structure consists of thousands of bones strung together with cured sinew and rope, arm and leg bones, along with ribs and spines, serve as the bridge’s planks, while skulls serve to decorate its’ railings. The bone bridge has a dim consciousness spawned by the necromantic spells used to construct it. When any good-aligned, living creature (anything other than an undead or construct) steps upon it, the bridge senses the creature’s presence and works to defeat it.

If such a creature begins its turn on or adjacent to the bridge, the bony span lashes out with its limbs, attacking each traveler once per round with a +3 attack bonus and. inflicting 1d4 points of damage per hit, in some evil realms, these bridges surround cities and towns to ensure that peasants and slaves

cannot easily escape their masters’ clutches. In any area dominated by undead or spellcasters who use them as servants, a bridge of bones might be used to secure a main road or an important route,

Damaged Bridge (CR 1)

Over time, bad weather, marauding beasts, and other threats can turn the stoutest bridge into a teetering death-trap. This bridge has sustained damage that makes it dangerous to use. A heavily laden character risks falling through a weak spot on the bridge or even causing its collapse. A Knowledge (engineering) check (DC 15) reveals that the bridge is in poor shape and can identify these weak areas.

Characters or monsters weighing more than 100 lbs. including gear, who cross the bridge must make a Reflex save (DC 20). On a failed save, the DM may pick a spot on the bridge where the unlucky character walked as the point where he or she fell through. That square (or squares for Large or bigger creatures) is now a hole in the structure. Creatures that weigh less than 100 lbs. can cross safely. If a creature succeeds at this save, describe how the bridge creaks and shudders. Perhaps a few wooden beams splinter but manage to hold together.

If several creatures stand on the bridge, there is a chance the entire structure will collapses. At the end of a round, there is a 5% chance per creature weighing 100 Ibs. or greater that the bridge falls to pieces. If the bridge falls, it takes one round for it to collapse. Each person on the bridge must make a Balance check (DC 10) at the start of his action or fall prone as the structure shifts and cracks, A creature may still fall through as normal on this round. At the end of the round, the bridge falls apart and drops anything on it into the river chasm, or other obstacle it spans.

Collapsing bridges fit into ancient ruins, regions besieged by orcs and other marauders, and other areas that have slid into chaos.

The Mist Bridge (CR 2)

While few adventurers willingly use this bridge, sometimes it is all that stands party and the end of its quest. This simple, stone bridge is a little more than 3 feet wide. Sculpted with the aid of earth elementals, it bends and weaves on a perilous course. Even worse, an air elemental bound to the bridge creates a soupy impenetrable mist around it.

Anyone attempting to cross the bridge must make a DC 10 Spot check each round to keep track of how it winds through the misty cloud. Characters who fail this check may move at only half their normal speed, as they must carefully watch the bridge’s turns and slopes. The entire area is under the effect of obscuring mist (CL 1), making combat difficult.

Dwarves and gnomes favor this bridge as a defensive fortification. It forces even small warbands to slow to a snail’s pace, giving defenders time to prepare for an attack.

Rope Bridge (CR 1)

This simple, narrow bridge consists of several long vines or ropes that stretch over an obstacle.

Crossing this bridge is no easy task, as the ropes have an unnerving tendency to sway and shake under the slightest pressure. They usually serve as temporary measures in areas where hauling in the materials and laborers needed to build a true bridge proves impossible

Characters on a rope bridge can use a standard action to gain their balance. In this case, you use your move action as normal. If you use a move action to balance yourself, you must make a DC 10 Balance check lo act as normal. If you fail this check, you lose a standard action as the rope bridge shakes and sways. If you take neither a standard or move action to steady yourself, you must make a DC 20 Balance check or you lose your action for the round. You must make this check before taking any actions.

A creature with stable footing, such as one able to use four limbs, gain a +4 bonus on these checks.

You can destroy a rope bridge by severing two of the lines that keep it in place. Cutting one line causes a +5 modifier to the DC of all Balance checks made on the bridge.

In most cases, a rope bridge is too small to allow a creature above size Medium to cross it. You may assign a maximum weight to the bridge. Any creature above this weight causes it to collapse.

Sunken Bridge (CR 2)

A favorite of elves, this bridge is built a foot beneath the level of a river or stream. Anyone who knows where to search for the bridge can find it, but crossing it on foot can prove treacherous.

Finding a sunken bridge requires a DC 15 Spot check, though you can find one automatically by probing the water with a pole or similar item.

If you attempt to cross the bridge, you must make a strength check to resist the current. A weak current is a DC 5 check, a moderate one DC 10, a strong one DC and a powerful one DC 20.

On a successful check, you may cross the bridge as normal. On a failed check, the current knocks you off the bridge and into the water. If you cross a sunken bridge on a horse it makes the Strength check. An exceptionally stable creature, with four legs, gains a +4 check. bonus on this check.

BY MIKE MEARLS
ILLUSTRATION BY UDON WITH JIM ZUBKAVICH