Players looking to bring an innovative encounter to their next session of Dungeons & Dragons should look no further than one of the most popular video games out today.
At first glance, Dungeons & Dragons and Fortnite couldn't be any further apart. One is a venerable tabletop RPG enjoying a renaissance due to the appeal of shared storytelling and streamlined rules. The other is a manic video game that combines crazy free-for-all action and combat with an addicting comic irreverence. However, I recently crafted an encounter in our home game that benefited from adding some Fortnite-esque rules into the mix.
A popular staple in Dungeons & Dragons is gladiatorial combat – either against rival teams of adventurers or against monsters. Gladiator matches are a good way for bruisers to test their might and also win some gold or fame along the way.
So – how does one turn a gladiator match into a Fortnite-esque battle royale? Well, the chances are that your D&D group already has the irreverent “destroy everything and laugh along the way” mindset needed to succeed in Fortnite, so you just need to bring in the shrinking battlefield into the encounter.
For my D&D/Fortnite mashup, I used a pretty typical coliseum type setup with only a handful of rules. There was only one winner (thus forcing all alliances to be temporary) and players couldn't use divine magic, thus keeping clerics and druids from preventing bloody violence up with their healing spells or ability to transform into fire elementals.
The combat area itself was split into three rings, each of which had a handful of terrain options to provide cover and add a little bit of strategy to the mix. Participants could use the entire stadium at the start of the fight, but once about half of the participants were eliminated, the remaining warriors had a few seconds to enter the inner two rings or get hit with some nasty lightning damage – courtesy of some arcane runes around the edge of the coliseum. Eventually, players are forced into a small area of combat, forcing them to duke it out (or to try to push their opponents into the deadly lightning circling the ring.)
You can also spice up the encounter by introducing rivals or setting up future encounters. My home game's battle royale had been teased via town criers and idle gossip for months, and the players recognized many of the other participants, including some old friends and the monk's friendly rival…who was created just to incentivize the players into entering.
I kept my Fortnite encounter rather simple and wrapped it up in a single night, but adventurous DMs can turn it into an extended storyline. Maybe players are stripped of their magic items and dropped onto a remote island, where they have to rely on their scavenging and tracking skills to survive. Or maybe players can form small teams, thus preventing a PvP battle (and hurt feelings) at the end of the battle royale. There's plenty of ways to port Fortnite into Dungeons & Dragons, and chances are you'll get a few laughs when players realize what's happening.
How have you used video games to enhance your D&D game? Let us know in the comment section or shoot me a tweet at @CHofferCBus on Twitter!