D&D Miniatures09/06/2007


Skirmishes in the Shadowlands
Alternate Terrain Rules



Lidda looked up with wide eyes at Jozan and said, "What happened?"

Jozan frowned slightly as he surveyed their surroundings. After a moment of reflection, he replied gravely, "I believe the area we are in has somehow been transported to or transposed with the Plane of Shadow."

Lidda looked back at a landscape void of color and filled with shifting shadows. "Wonderful," she said with a resigned sigh as she readied her sword for the coming onslaught.

After all the preparations for the Grinder and the 2007 D&D Miniatures Championships at Gencon Indy, the various combinations of miniatures and maps have been well explored by many players. This article introduces a new way of looking at existing maps, subtly changing how the game plays in new and interesting ways. Whether you are a competitive player looking for some variety or a casual player looking for something fun and cool, these basic alternate terrain rules should provide hours of excitement.

Battles can and do take place across the many planes of existence, including the Plane of Shadow. Below we take a look at the conditions that combatants face when fighting in an area of the Plane of Shadow called the Shadowlands.

The Plane of Shadow is a land of black and white. It is as if color itself has been bleached from everything, and though there are no obvious light sources, pools of tangible shadow lurk in every nook and cranny. The Shadowlands are an area within the Plane of Shadow filled with shadowy, obfuscated, semi-insubstantial reflections of places from other planes or locations that have been completely swallowed by shadows and absorbed into the plane.

Any battle map, or even older-style tiles, can be used with these alternate terrain rules. You can download and print some of the maps without color. Printing the maps in grayscale helps capture the nature of the Shadowlands.

Spellcasting: The very essence of the Plane of Shadow abhors direct light and fire. Spells based on light and fire may fail when cast on the Plane of Shadow. When casting a spell that deals fire damage, summons a creature that deals fire damage with an attack, or has the word "light" as its name (e.g., searing light) but not just as part of its name (e.g, lightning bolt), the caster must make a DC 16 save or the spell fails without effect.

A creature summoned using a summoning spell is infused with the element of the Plane of Shadow and gains Conceal 6.

Line of Sight: In the Shadowlands, a creature can always trace line of sight to creatures and squares in its own space as well as to adjacent creatures and squares. This includes walls, forest, fog/smoke, and all other terrain features.

Terrain: All terrain features function as printed in the War Drums Rulebook and the Errata/FAQ except as noted below.

Difficult Terrain: (terrain) Normal difficult terrain identified with a triangle symbol has no effect on a creature’s movement. Treat this terrain as if it were clear terrain. (Underbrush, rubble, and other debris are not substantial enough in the Shadowlands to hinder movement.)

Fire: (terrain) A creature that enters or activates in a square of fire terrain must roll a d20. On a result of 1-10, the creature takes 5 points of fire damage; otherwise, there is no effect. This is not a save, so don't add anything to the roll. (Fires in the Shadowlands flicker feebly, mostly smothered by the inky shadows.)

Fog and Smoke: (terrain) Squares containing fog block line of sight if the line touches a corner of a fog square or 2 edges of the same fog square. Squares containing fog do not impede movement or block line of effect. A creature in a fog square gains Conceal 11 against nonadjacent creatures. A creature with Blindsight ignores all fog squares when determining whether it has line of sight to other creatures or squares. (Fog in the Shadowlands is somewhat less substantial than elsewhere but is laced with supernatural shadows that obscure those within.)

Forest: (terrain) Forest squares are not considered difficult terrain and do not provide cover. Line of sight and line of effect remain unchanged. A creature in a forest square gains Conceal 6. (Shadowy trees and underbrush are less of a hindrance to movement in the Shadowlands, but they do provide concealment to those who hide in them.)

Risky Terrain: (terrain) Risky terrain does not count as difficult terrain. Otherwise, it remains unchanged.

Rooftop Terrain: (terrain) A creature that is entirely on ground squares can move diagonally past the corner of a rooftop square. Nonflying, nonburrowing, and non-Incorporeal creatures in a ground square can spend 2 squares of movement to move into a rooftop square from an adjacent ground square (or 3 squares if it’s a diagonal move). This movement provokes attacks of opportunity from all enemies that threaten its starting space. However, nonflying, nonburrowing, and non-Incorporeal creatures may not move from rooftop squares to ground squares in the same manner. Involuntary movement rules between ground and rooftop squares remain unchanged. Rooftop squares do not block line of effect, but line of sight remains unchanged.

Statues: (terrain) Statue squares are treated as normal difficult terrain. Follow the rules for difficult terrain from the War Drums Rulebook. (Semi-intangible and with shadowed features, statues only slightly hinder those who would travel through them.)

Steep Slope: (terrain) Steep slope squares are treated as normal difficult terrain and follow the rules for difficult terrain from the War Drums Rulebook. (The shadowy fundament of the Shadowlands provides less of an impediment to those who climb or descend steep slopes there.)

Walls: (terrain) Walls and solid stone block line of effect and line of sight but not movement. Each wall square costs 2 squares of movement to move into or 3 squares if it’s a diagonal move, unless the creature has Burrow or Incorporeal. Crossing a thin wall adds 1 to the normal cost of entering the square. Creatures may end their moves within wall squares. A creature may move diagonally past a corner or end of a wall. You can count through walls to see if commanders are close enough to influence the creatures in their warband.

Walls provide cover. Against ranged attacks and Melee Reach attacks, a large or larger creature always gets cover from wall terrain when it's in at least one square of wall terrain. Against non-Melee Reach melee attacks, a large or larger creature gets cover when it is entirely in a wall or if if the attacker is not adjacent to a non-wall square in the creature's space.

(Passing through walls is normally the realm of incorporeal creatures, but in the Shadowlands, it is possible for corporeal creatures to force themselves into and through the semi-solid material that passes for walls.)

About the Author

Jason Sallay (aka Foxman) lives in Calgary, Alberta (Canada) with his wife Carolyn and two young boys. He first started playing D&D in 1987 and hasn't stopped since. He works in the IT industry in desktop support. Jason originally started collecting D&D Miniatures for his tabletop game and then began playing the D&D Miniatures game "to get more use out of them."

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