Recently a scheduling happenstance (most of my players being away on their summer holidays) gave me the opportunity to try something I hadn’t done before: a free-for-all battle royale, with the players duking it out until only one remained!
Since I had 4 players (for a 1v1v1v1 throwdown), I tried to make a battle map that could reflect a good arena for all involved (with some Valhalla-style “eternal battlefield” flavor thrown in—hence the swords). The size of the battle royale map was very important—I wanted to supply cover and a few other useful implements without the arena being massive (which would unfairly tip the scale towards casters, particularly those who could fly up off the ground on their first turn). In order to prevent camping and hiding, I also incorporated a battlefield perimeter (operating like blade barrier) that closed 5ft every turn, including bringing the ceiling down. The starting positions (as in, which quadrant each player started in) were randomized, and I also included some randomized lair actions to keep things interesting.
Running a battle royale was quite fascinating, I think, for me and my players alike, and I learned a lot. Maybe I’ll use some of those lessons learned next time!
HONED BLADES – the difficult terrain evidenced by swords becomes deadly sharp. As per spike growth, anyone stepping in or out of these squares takes damage and must make a Reflex save to avoid being slowed.
SEA OF SWORDS – the arena gets smaller by 5ft along each edge as the swirling weapons close in. This twisting, half-incorporeal cube of blades deals damage as per blade barrier; additionally, ongoing magical effects end (as per antimagic field).
OVERFLOW THE LEVIES – As the sword grinds further into the stone, more water gushes out of the wound in the mountain. The water becomes difficult terrain and anyone in it is bull rushed (as per hydraulic push).
THE SHUDDERING MOUNTAIN – Gravity here works in strange ways, and the tilt is often unpredictable; suddenly it shifts, and down the length of the mountain, weapons and warriors alike fall. Everyone must make a Fortitude save or be shifted 5ft in one direction. Anyone who is airborne also crashes back down to the ground.