My homegroup uses miniatures and terrain for the majority of our gaming. We enjoy the tactile immersion and strategic thinking it brings to combat. And, for me, it harkens back to my days as a kid, playing with action figures and the amazing playsets that you could purchase – sadly, always separately. And once I discovered the realm of cardboard and foam terrain wizardry on YouTube, I knew that I wanted to try my hand at it. And I was already preparing to take the reins of my table for a longterm Oriental Adventures campaign set in my homebrew world or Rostfin.
One of the first set pieces that I wanted for White Lotus, Black Jade was a rooftop chase – the party scrambling across the clay-tiled slopes of a grand cityscape, in pursuit of a horde of masked ninja. It is a staple of wuxia films and legends, and I thought it would be an interesting collection of terrain to create.
I had seen crafters use cardboard for corrugated tin roofs and walls before, so I was pretty sure this would work out before I even started. However, one of the biggest issues with the build was the steepness of the sloped rooftops – a miniature wouldn’t stand a chance of… well, standing on them if I made them exactly as they appear in real life. So, instead, I flattened them out and settled on having layers represent the change in elevation (as well as to help sort out a rough “grid” for judging distance).
Starting with single-layered cardboard, I peeled the paper off of one side, and glued them down in a variety of shapes and sizes in order to cover the entire tabletop with roofs – long thin walls, large buildings, small pagodas, a building with an open courtyard, etc. I even built a separate guard tower in 3D, because I played on having a surprise tucked away there for the players to interact with.
There are a few things that I would do differently, if I was to tackle this project again, but overall I was very happy with the way they turned out.
Throughout the chase, when the party reached the edge of what was represented, we just shifted the rooftops still involved to the other end of the table and out the removed pieces back down into a different arrangement ahead of the chase.
As for running the actual chase itself, I took some inspiration from the Chase Deck put out by Paizo and created a d20 table (seen below) that everyone would roll on at the end of every turn. The result of this roll would then apply to whomever came after them in the initiative order – friend or foe.
I then allowed everyone the ability to take the Dash action as a bonus action (with rogues being able to reduce that to a free action by using the Cunning Action feature). Each character could do this for a number of turns equal to 3 plus their Constitution modifier, before they would begin taking levels of exhaustion.
In the end, this encounter was incredibly fun and was worth every hour spent on making these rooftop pieces. It was something that I had never seen done before at the table, so it proved to be unique and memorable. Even now, about a year later, I still think about how well it worked out… and get a big, stupid grin on my face.
|Roll||Obstacle||Option 1||Fail 1||Option 2||Fail 2|
|1||A Guard Shoots||resolved as 1 attack (+4 to hit; 1d8+2 piercing damage)|
|2||Loose/Wet Tiles||Acro @14||prone||Ath @16||prone|
|3||Paper Lanterns||CON @14||1d4 fire damage||Perc @ 10||lose quarry|
|4||Particulates||CON @12||blind||Natu @ 8||blind|
|5||Townsfolk Throw Stuff||resolved as 4 attacks (+1 to hit; 1d4+1 bludgeoning damage)|
|6||Loose Vegetables/Rocks||Acro @14||10′ diff. terrain||Insig @10||10′ diff. terrain|
|7||Coming Through||STR @10||10′ diff. terrain||Hist @14||10′ diff. terrain|
|8||Gust of Wind||STR @14||moved (1d3)x5 ft.||Natu @10||moved (1d3)x5 ft.|
|9||Clothesline||Perc @12||lose quarry||Acro @16||entangled|
|10||Weak Spot||Acro @16||fall thru; speed 0||Ath @12||fall thru; speed 0|
Jeremy “Erasmas” Lilley
Find me on YouTube, on the channel The Erasmas Expeditions!