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Location: Choose Your Ground

Crime and Punishment

Author Keith Baker

Series Campaign Style

Publisher Atlas Games

Publish date 2003

So, you’ve learned everything you can about your prey and tracked him down. The next question is the degree to which you can choose the battleground. If your target has gone to ground in some sort of stronghold, you may have to bring the battle to him; in this case, the best you can do is to thoroughly examine the safehouse. Do you need to cover multiple exits to prevent your quarry from escaping? Depending on your capabilities, this could involve spreading caltrops across an area or the use of spells like web or alarm, either to slow retreat or to alert you to possible flight.

Ideally, however, your target will not be aware of your pursuit. In this case you have far more flexibility. Using Stealth, Disguise, a familiar, or magical techniques of observation, and take some time to watch your prey. If he’s in a city, does he have a pattern of movement – and if so, where is he most vulnerable? If he’s traveling through the wilds, will he be stopping at an inn or camping for the night?

Again, you’ll usually have the advantage of anonymity; your target may be generally paranoid, but unless your cover has been blown, he won’t know you’re after him. Look for ways to turn the ground against him. If he’s resting at an inn, can you bribe the innkeeper to create a distraction or slip paralytic poison into his drink? If he has servants, can you subvert one of the hirelings – or even replace her, using illusion magics or the Disguise skill?

While this is advice for the bounty hunter, it can apply to other types of adventure. If you’re out to slay a dragon, can you draw it into a location that suits your needs – where you have concealment from its breath? Can you identify its feeding habits, and drug the beasts it preys upon to slow down the dragon itself? The key is patience – taking the time to study your situation and pick the perfect battleground.

In certain situations, time of day can be just as important as location. If the fight will occur outdoors, consider whether your group has the edge in terms of Low-Light Vision and Darkvision – either due to racial abilities or goggles of night. If so, a night attack can be extremely effective; if not, you don’t want the enemy to have an advantage over you.

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