Wednesday, 20 July 2011


What Happened

See Hogar’s Journal

DM Points

Monsters: 5 x Vampire Spawn (Level 5 Minions), 2 x Skeleton Netters (Level 5 Soldiers), 2x Corpse Rat Swarms (Level 4 Solider), 1 x Frieda, Vampire Lord (Level 4 Elite Solider). – XP 1350 Level 5

Map "Cellar" Created map, see picture below.

As this is the last encounter in my Mini Adventure I made it more difficult than the previous ones to make it was more climatic. I had decided quite early on that the player character (PC) I used to play, Frieda, would become a villain so that I could still controller her and that she wouldn’t fade away into obscurity. As I was using lots of undead, due to my miniature selection there were three undead routes to go down, Werewolf, Zombie or Vampire. As my character was a female Eladrin rouge zombie and werewolf seems a little uncharacteristic so vampire seemed the most sensible option. I figured that all PC are Elite monsters due to having actions points so I set Frieda up as a Skirmisher and then applied an Elite template. The most sensible template to apply was vampire lord, so Frieda the vampire was born.

I wanted Frieda to arrive into the combat a turn after all of the other monsters, as an unveiling. This though only gave her 3 attacks in the whole of the encounter, 2 of which that missed! So the lovely template with lots of powers I had created was nearly useless, I have planned to use her Blood Drain ability once she was bloodied by getting into an advantages position with her teleport and then using her action point in the same turn, but she didn’t get a single action after becoming bloodied due to the amount of encounter and daily powers thrown at her pretty much by the whole party. I only made her level 4 as that is the level the characters were and she was meant to be one of them, but I think having her at level 4 meant her defensives were to low for her to have a meaningful effect on the encounter. 

On the flip side though we found out the swarms are really annoying!

We had only encounter one swarm before, at the beginning of the keep in H1. As we were very inexperienced then most monsters seems difficult, it was rare for us to go an encounter without someone being knocked out. So we didn’t really see the difficulty the posed. But as the party now has 2 and a half defenders 1 and a half strikers and two half of a leader only the controller has any meaningful close burst or area attacks. Also the first lots of rats did not move under PC’s as this is a rule were leant later, this meant that every time the rats were subject to an area attack at least one PC was. This helped erode some of there hp away, but even with theses factors the party all still remained standing. This shows that the party are more than capable of dealing with encounter a level higher than them, so I think I will have to throw more of them their way in the future.

Tuesday, 19 July 2011


What Happened - follow link to Hogar's Blog.

Gary, who controls Hogar in the party has been writing a blog to run along side this one. Gary has wrote the blog as a diary from his charaacter's perspective, as this covers that happens in each encoutner I will link to this rather than re-writting stuff Gary already has. Also the cinematic fell Gary portraits a lot more apt.

DM Points

Monsters: 3x Chillborn Zombies (Level 6 Soldiers), 1x Flameskull Deathmaster (Level 5 Elite Controller), 4x Pack Zombies (Level 2 Minions, created by Deathmaster) - XP 1150 Level 4

Map "Library" Created map, see picture below.

One of the encounters in The Haunting of Kincep Mansion is based in the library. I thought this was a great setting for a fight, so before creating any of the encounters or any other map I created a library. As this was my first ever map and I didn’t really know how to make maps, or where to find the tools to do so. We had downloaded the H1 maps from the Cartographer’s guide so had a poke around there, but most of stuff available so finished maps, which are great but I wanted image of stuff I could just drop into Photoshop as items. I mostly used Google image search for this map, but to find object that have been taken from bird eye view is quite difficult. I must have spent about as much time trawling Google as actually working in Photoshop. After finishing this map I found this site XXXXXXXXXX which has loads of cools items and building you can just drop straight into maps.

As I decided all good libraries are on two levels and it made sense to stick a controller on the top level and have soldiers on the bottom. So the temple I worked to was Commander and Troops with a controller as the commander. Originally this was going to be the final encounter so was quite hard and had a Flameskull (Level 8) and four Chillborn Zombies (Level 6) making the encounter a level 6 encounter. But as I had decided the level 8 was a bit challenging for the party I change the Flameskull to level 5 but made him elite and removed one of the zombies. This was defiantly a good move. Three zombies with accumulative auras dishing out 15 damage a turn was very potent but 20 a turn would have been two much of the party to handle.

As always though the map when designed was a lot different to how it was played, the party never moved to the top floor. Also I added in bookcases that I though could be pushed over, but this idea was only raised but the party towards the end of combat, so maybe I should have hinted at it when the party entered the room.

Thursday, 7 April 2011



What Happened

While checking the bodies in the entrance hall, one of which was wearing a pair of Wave strider boots, the party heard gagged murmuring coming from one of the room’s upstairs. Eligos tentatively pushed open the bedroom door to see her kidnapped friends bound at the far end of the room. The tiefling, Hogar and Diefenbaker hesitantly approached Eric, Frieda and Bob. As Eligos reached down to untie Eric’s restraints she saw her friends change before her very eyes into giant rats.

Initiative is rolled

Catching the party by surprise the wererats leapt up to attack. Two of them surrounded Eligos, one of which sunk its teeth into the tiefling’s flesh.  The third charged at Hogar, but his hide amour was enough to stop the rat’s bite. The second bedroom door flunk open and charging was a much larger werewolf. The foaming mouth of lycanthrope ripped though Rodney’s light leather armour opening his flesh. Behind the werewolf was another rat, but this one seem a lot more refined than the previous three. He moved swiftly with precision and carried a highly crafted rapier rather than a mundane short sword. He swiped his sword at Glen, pirouetted past the fighter and the wolf and then stabbed at Rodney all in the blink of an eye.

The two strikes in quick succession did not deter Rodney as he forced both his attackers backwards with a crash of thunder; he also summoned a ball of fire, nearly 5 foot across, next to the two lycanthropes. As he summoned the giant sphere it swap out a flame hitting the wererat. With a rat in his face Hogar causally stepped backward and release two arrows into the rat’s chest to bloody his foe. Lord Vicrael also realised a pair of arrows at the rats, both arrows were enchanted with arcane words. The first arrows misses the one of the rats as it tangled with Eligos, but the second found its mark.

Minron’s battle rage descended as he moved towards the leading wererat and what was originally going to be a strategic placement of his shield to protect Rodney and Vicrael soon became a goring charge with his horns on the rat and a sweeping blow of this sword on the wolf. Feeling the burn of the sphere and not being on his back the lead were lead leapt to his feet and slashed and Minron, slide through the minotaur’s legs before taking another swing at Rodney, both of which though missed. As Vicrael’s arcane arrow enabled Eligos to cast her mind's eye forward a split second, predicting the best moment for a telling blow on the wererat, she seized the opportunity to transform. With a furious roar as the hellish blood that flowed through her veins revealing its true power. In the blink of an eye, she transform into a brutish fiend. In her invigorated state she repeatedly smashed at one of the rat surrounding her, the final blow the most telling as it crushed the rats head, while Hogar shot another two arrows into the rat we was attacking to drop in to the ground. This left only rat in the bedroom the Vicrael attacked with a jinked arrow, so as the rat swung at the brutish Eligos he fell to the floor. Outside on the landing Glen used his axes to hack at the werewolf’s knees to slow it down.

Minron then regained his clarity and turned to face the werewolf behind him, instead of attacking in a bloodied rage he brought forth the power of the Raven Queen to bless his allied and send the werewolf hurtling over the banisters leaving it in a heap on the floor below. Seeing his comrade being flung over the railing and then shot at like a fish in a barrel my a magic missile the lead wererat hastily moved away from Glen and Minron swiping at Rodney and Vicrael on route, only to find a half orc charge out of the bedroom towards him.

Dislike having a filthy rat in his face Vicrael teleported away into the bedroom just as Eligos split the remaining rat’s head open. Safety moved away the bard then launched an arrow at it as it flew thought the air he recite a tale of hatred and challenge, inciting Minron to fight it to the end. The werewolf below then transformed into a dire wolf and charged up the stairway to bite Minron, but he deflected the wolf’s jaws with a shield feint. Vicrael’s teleport was not enough to escape the rapier wielding rat as it followed him into the bedroom to bite him, thankfully Hogar was at hand, and as the rat corned Vicrael it gave Hogar enough time to locate the most precise area to resale a sure shot beneath the rats amour to fatally wound him. Having set the wolf up with his shield faint Minron once again called forth the powers of the raven queen to bless his sword to finish off the wolf.  

DM Points

Monsters: 1x Werewolf (L7 Brute), 3 x Wererats (L3 Skirmishers), 1x Elite Wererate (L3 Elite Skirmisher) – 1050 XP – Level 4

Map "Bedrooms" Created map, see picture below.

This encounter is a tip of the hat to the original adventures I based my adventure on. Wizards released an encounter in Dungeon Issue 156 called The Haunting of Kincep Mansion, an adventure for level 12 characters. As soon as I saw it I knew the encounter I would run would be a haunted mansion, but with the characters only being level 4 I could not use it. So I created my own haunted mansion.

I have tried to make each encounter different and used different monsters in each. I wanted to challenge the party with different foes and also experiment to see what works well from my side of the table. I don’t want overpowered monster to get a TPK but at the same time I don’t want underpowered monsters and the party to lose interest. So for this reason I only added one werewolf room.

Kincep has a werewolf theme running through it, but with werewolves starting at level 8 in the monster manual I couldn’t litter the whole building with them. I could have reduced them down to level 4 or 5, but I felt this would have undermined the power of the beasts. Also only having one werewolf model restricted me a bit! So I reduced the werewolf one level to level 7, this gave him a AC of 19, and with an attack doing 1d6+4+ongoing 5  damage he wouldn’t be overpowered if he was the only werewolf in the encounter. I teamed him up with 4 wererats to keep the Lycanthrope theme going and made one an elite monster to up the encounter XP a little.

Another reason I wanted to include Lycanthrope was to expose the party to disease, an effect we had no yet experienced. This though has not really gone to plan. I managed to hit 5 of the 6 with the rat’s bite and half the party with the werewolf’s bite. So at the end of the encounter there were 8 saving throws to see who could stave of the effects of the disease, 7 of which passed. Only the Glen dwarf fighter, and the only party member trained in endurance, was affected by the werewolf’s moon fever. So at the next extended rest Glen will have two saves to see if he can stop the disease, one from his endurance and one from Minron’s heal. So with an average chance of 3.6 people being infected we have ended up with only one and that character being best placed to cope with it. I guess this does show that diseases are unreliable and as everyone gets a 55% chance of shaking it off even if they are attacked a dozen times by a diseased monster. Therefore they are not that effective but do add an additional threat and introduce no combat decisions.

Friday, 25 March 2011

Are you better off dying at the end of Keep on the Shadow Fell?

In the game we play we switched over three of character at the end of KotS. This was done with a small set of encounters where the changing characters where kidnapped and the rest of the party had to rescue them before moving on to Thunderspire Labyrinth. Therefore half the players have changed their character to new level 4 characters. This means that the new character have two magic items, Level 5 and 3, and the same money as a level 3.

Our party ended with the following characters and magic items:

Bob Human paladin - Shield of Protection Heavy Shield Level 3, +1 Aecris Level 5 Longsword

Frieda Eladrin Rogue - Vicious Short sword +1 Level 2, +2 Magic Dagger Level 6

Eric Elf Cleric - Symbol of Battle +1 Level 5, Bloodcut Hide Armour +1 Level 4

Glen Dwaven Fighter - Amulet of Health +1 Level 3 Black Iron Scale Armour +1 Level 4

Eligos Tiefling Warden - Dwarven Chainmail +1 level 2, Safewing Amulet +1 Level 3, Horned Helm Level 6.

Rodney Human Wizard - Magic Wand +1 Level 1, Elven Cloak +2 level 7, Bag of Holding Level 5

This averages out to each character with a level 4 and a level 5 item. So the items given out in KotS are higher levels but the characters have no choice in them.

In our case the Wizard got a wand, when really wanted a staff and Rogue ended up with two weapons. But other than that the items fell quite well, this surly can not be the case with all parties? We had three defenders in a six man party, where most five man parties only have one. Surely this defender be blinged up with Magic plate Amour, a magic shield, most probably a neck slot and a magic weapon. Leaving the rest of the party felling short changed.

Having the choice of your two magical items puts you in a lot better stead to max your character and choose with features you want, so surely the power gamer is always going to want to die and respawn with new shinny stuff that fits their character.

This does then lead to the next point of what happens to the old characters stuff? Purely as a balanced game view point the old characters stuff should die with them, or the emerging character should arrive with nothing so that the is the same balance of treasure. But the game is firstly and foremost a role-playing game. So why would a level 4 hero not have earned any treasure? And why would the remaining heroes not use the dead party member’s equipment? I have the changed characters kidnapped with all their stuff, but I guess if they died they could be buried with their weapons in a Viking style funeral.  

And finally what about all the gold? Our party had one character holding all the gold firstly Eric the Cleric and then once we found a bag of holding it went in there and was held by the wizard’s familiar. So as the Wizard didn’t leave the party does the new part have all the treasure? Therefore essentially stealing the missing party members share?

On the whole is seems that as KotS as a publish adventure has treasure at random, therefore will not always fit nicely into the party. But is this not what going into dungeons is about? The party can not always expect to get stuff that fits their character’s perfectly, but on the flip side if you keep killing off characters and bringing them back you will never have magical items more than one level higher than you.

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

Entrance Hall

What Happened

After treating their wounds the party headed out of the banquet hall to explore the rest of the building, but when they opened the banquet doors the entrance hall was not empty. While they had been fighting the Wraith and bandaging their cuts a hoard of undead had rallied and gathered in the lobby, Hogar knew exactly what he was looking at, vampire spawn and decrepit skeletons.

Initiative is rolled

Knowing exactly what he was dealing with Hogar and Diefenbaker slide around the doorway and move into an advantageous position to release a pair of arrows in quick succession. Both found their targets and drop two of the spawns to the ground. With the vampires not even hitting the floor yet Rodney summoned his cone of fire emanating from his hands, two minions managed to move quickly enough evade the fire, but one of the vampires and a skeleton were not so lucky. Moving out from the banquet hall Vicrael looked up onto the balcony above the party and saw a foe even he hadn’t encountered before. A robed mage with three faces, each one a flaming skull of different colour rotating into view as the previous one disappears into the mages hood.

 Not knowing what it was did not stop Vicrael putting a warlock’s curse upon him. Unable to shoot an arcane arrow at it though Vicrael took aim at a spawn but missed, undeterred he drew another arrow from his quiver and took aim but again with no success. Seeing that Vicrael was not making the grade Eligos charged in and hacked down the spawn that the bard was struggling with. The skull’s black face then rotated into view, its boned jaw chatting, and the first vampire Hogar killed stood back up with an arrow still lodged in its chest. In quick progression the blue and red skulls came into view each one sending an orb of matching colour from the mages staff, one hitting Minron and the other striking Glen.

As the blue flame stuck Minron and pushed him into the wall the main entrance door flung open and four dogs rushed in. These were not the only foe the party had not seen initially; from underneath the stair scuttled two kruthiks. Both their flesh and the hounds were putrid and barely clinging to the bone. Even with the holes in their tissue Hogar still eradicate a hound and another vampire with a pair of arrows. Not to be out done by the half-orc Rodney also wiped out a zombie dog and a vampire with a thunderous sonic wave that lashed up from the ground flinging them backwards as they crumpled. Having seen the awesome power that the skull mage possessed Glen headed towards the stairs to take him out, but in his way were the two undead reptiles. Not being able to manoeuvre past them Glen twice swung at the pair of them both connecting with the intended target. The first kruthik felt the full force of the dwarf’s axe blade but the second did not escape hurt as the urgrosh cleaved into it.

With both Vicrael and Eligos failing to hit there foes Minron smashed a hounds head with the flat of his shield while Hogar, seemingly unable to missed, took out another wolf and a skeletal archer. Spurred on by his current form with the bow Hogar he drew two more arrows, again both found their marks. The first felling another archer and the second causing a kruthik to rive in pain.

With only the kruthiks and a skeleton stopping the party from reaching the undead mage both Rodney and Glen unleashed the full force of their powers on the kruthiks. Rodney iced both of them with some enchanted rays while Glen hacked and hewed them. With the primal power of the ram coursing through her khopesh Eligos hit a now bloodied kruthik, as she did so thunder stemmed from her blade ripping the other kruthik apart. Minron finished off the depleted kruthik, but the mage raised another vampire and struck out with his elemental orbs. Hogar killed off the remaining minions leaving the stairs free for Glen and Eligos to advance and swipe at the mage. Neither of their advances dampened the mages resolve, but once Minron’s horns knocked him to the ground the party quickly dispatch him. Vicrael, finally finding his target, displaced the black skull from the under the mages hood with a cursed arrow before Hogar’s sword and Glen axes took out the blue and red. As the last skull fell to the ground the mages cloak flattened as if the skull’s energy was holding it together, the skulls then each rolled off the balcony though the gaps in the banisters. But inches before they hit the ground they all conjoined at flew though a previously locked door.


DM Points

Monsters: 1x Skull Lord (L6 Artillery leader), 5 x Vampire Spawn (L5 minion), 4x Decrepit Skeleton (L1 minion), 4x Rot Hound (L1 minion), 2 x Kruthik Young Zombie (L5 Brute) – 1100 xp Level 4 Encounter.

Map "Entrance Hall" Created map, see picture below.

When I first looks through the Monster Manual at undead enemies one jumped out at me as something I wanted to use, The Skull Lord. He looks as If he would boss the battlefield, striking two opponents and endlessly raising minions from the grave. Therefore this was the first encounter I created, even before I knew it would be in a mansion. I originally had the skull lord straight out of the monster manual, therefore a level 10 enemy, and had him surrounded by level 1 minions to account for his massive 500xp he carried. But when we played a Christmas encounter over the holidays the then level 3 characters really struggled to hit the level 7 and 8 enemies I added in. So I ran the skull lord through the monster builder to lower him to a level 6, this gave me and extra 250xp. As the skull lord can raise monsters up to his level +2 I added some vampire spawn (L5) I also added in some non-minions as protection for the Skull lord. These first were Boneshard Skeletons, but when I read through Open Grave and saw that there were Kruthik zombies I swapped them straight over as I thought they would give a creepier feel. On reflection the Skull Lord’s raise dead is very slow. The party were killing about 5 minions per turn so raising one did not slow them down very much at all. This was mainly because the minions were such a low level. If I had put a few level 8 minions in there way they would have killed one or two a turn, and with one coming back every round would have been a lot more effective. Also the zombie weakness of the Kruthiks meant they were not very good blockers, and when they fell the encounter was pretty much over.