Awhile back, I posted that I'd be revamping the DDi adventure Remains of Empire with some extra features and try to bring out its sweet nectar of good storytelling from the cancer-riddled corpse of bad mechanics.
To start with, let's add some fun tricks. Here is a series of miscellaneous terrain powers that I used for my go at Remains of Empire. I sprinkled them throughout the encounters that take place once the PCs start hunting down the villain and his drake cavalry in their floating castle lair. I'm using these terrain powers to help tell the story of the collapsed tower, how it is nothing more than a ruin of its former glory.
This first terrain power is really fun in play, and literally shifts the battlefield around. In a highly lucky encounter with a lot of 20's, you start with a straight-up fight and end up with a game of island-hopping as the melee Strikers/Lurkers/Skirmishes try to outflank the Defenders/Soldiers on their way to the ranged combatants. This could also be reflavored for fighting on a floating island of garbage in the sea, breaking apart as the encounter progressed, an iceberg breaking apart in the arctic waters, or a bit of solid rock on a bubbling flow of lava.
Also, here are a few terrain powers that can be used almost anywhere in the second half of the adventure. They're good all-purpose kind of terrain powers, in that they provide that all-important boost to damage or good tactical choice when all encounter and daily attacks have been exhausted. I've opted for a minor action attack here, which I think should be used more ften than it is. When you ask a player to sacrifice a Standard Action for a terrain power, you're really asking them to give up one of their class attacks. Class-based attacks are comfortable, familiar, and help define the character. If you want your terrain to be used, either make the actions into Minor, or make the effects really spectacular.
At-Will Terrain (Any Level)
The power of the Arkhosian rituals are being weakened. The flying castle is ripping apart and destroying itself, the strength of the ancient spells no longer capable of holding it together.
Free Action; Personal
Trigger: A creature rolls a critical hit
Effect: A crack forms in the ground, moving a section of the castle by 1 square. A gap between sections of the castle now exists.
At-will Terrain Power (Level 3)
You jump up and kick a floating piece of rock, sending it hurtling towards your enemies.
Minor Action; Ranged 5
Attack: +8 vs. AC
Hit: 1d6+5 damage and the target is pushed 1 square.
At-will Terrain (Level 3)
The ancient Dragonborn ritual has left pockets of transmuted gravity in teh wake of the castle's destruction. These can trap absent-minded explorers in a spiralling vortex.
No Action; Area of gravity well
Trigger: A creature starts their turn in the area of the gravity well.
Effect: The triggering creature is restrained until escape (DC 21).
Oil Cauldron in Gravity Well
Single Terrain (Level 3)
A globule of flammable pitch has been caught in this gravity well.
Single Use Terrain Power
No Action; Area of gravity well
Trigger 1: An area or close attack with the fire or lightning keywords touches the gravity well area.
Trigger 2: A character lights the gravity well area on fire with a torch or other source of flames.
Effect: Until the end of the encounter, creatures starting their turn in the gravity well take 2d6+9 fire damage.