Right Behind You: Building A Combat Encounter Around Teleporting

I’m absolutely in love with Dungeondraft – a beautiful and easy-to-use dungeon generation tool built by the creator of the equally fantastic Wonderdraft.

One of Dungeondraft’s built-in assets gave me an idea for an interesting combat encounter centered around short-range teleportation. I will lay out some of the possibilities here, so that maybe it’ll inspire you to do the same!

Portal in Dungeondraft
The portal asset in Dungeondraft, in this case colored red and given a red glow.

The Basics

Before we start, let’s lay out some basic rules:

  • The teleport circle transports any creature that steps on it to a circle of the corresponding color.
  • To use a teleporter you just used, you need to get off of it, and step on it again.
  • If the teleport circle you arrive at is occupied by another creature, it takes 3d10 force damage and is pushed 5 ft. in a random direction (a telefrag!)

When introducing teleport circles to our players, we would do well to make sure we introduce the mechanics in a fair way. Players need to have a chance to figure out the mechanics in a reasonably safe environment without life-or-death odds at first. Once we’ve done that, we can go crazy with the twists. More on that in my post about introducing fair gameplay twists.

Ideas For Integrating Teleporters Into An Environment

There are multiple ways of integrating teleporters, here are a few I came up with. I’m interested in hearing yours!

Folding Time And Space

Let’s start by color-coding the portals for our convencience. Red portals link to red, blue to blue and so forth.

Example 1: Color-coded portals in a map made in Dungeondraft.

This already creates really interesting possibilities:

  • Martial fighters see their range extended to a far greater degree, by being able to freely zip around the map.
  • Ranged fighters need to be cautious, as enemies can easily close the distance.
  • The telefragging mechanic discussed earlier can provide interesting opportunities for bonus damage. Be sure to introduce this in a safe way, however, by having an enemy do this to another one accidentally, for instance.

The Wildcard

What if the portals are not predictable, with magic fluctuations causing unexpected results?

Example 2: Portal disco

Give all the portals the same color (or different colors, to use Dungeondraft’s lighting effects). Assign every portal a number from 1-6. Whenever any creature uses a portal, roll a D6. The creature will appear on the corresponding portal. If the same portal as they were on is rolled, have nothing happen (“I will make my escape! *Flash of light* Wait, what?”) or simply reroll.

So Close And Yet So Far Away

Introduce some more obstacles to your room, like a lava flow for instance:

Example 3: Mind the gap

This circle mechanic allows players and enemies to move around quickly (perhaps better served with some larger distances between the portals and such). This means that chases can happen quite easily, yet ranged fighters have free line of sight. Perhaps have a dangerous, nimble archer harass the players from afar, making his escape through a portal whenever he can?

Example 4: The Hourglass

With a slightly different portal layout, we can create an hourglass-like flow to the room. This means that vertically, distances count as ‘bigger’, as it takes an extra step to get to the neighboring island.

I hope this gave you some ideas. Got any variations of your own? Let me know!

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