Thursday, 4 December 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 12 -- 30th November 2008

In which the adventurers unleash hell on vile evil-doers, a small winged homonculous causes no small amount of panic, and only one direction remains: down...
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 3
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 3
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 3
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 3
Mord - Dwarven Fighter 3

Squeezing themselves into the slim corridor leading into what they are already calling the "kiln room", Elumai drops a blast of freezing havoc on as many of the automaton-like zombies as she can, just as the whole room comes to life. The bodies hooked on the walls start to twitch and spasm as if being shocked into animation, finally ripping themselves free of the wall and dropping like bags of flesh and bone to the floor. As the dwarves move into position, the blood trickling across the floor suddenly changes direction, surging across the room and grasping at Mord's feet. The vile chill he feels in his legs tells him that he will need to stay on the move to avoid a sticky fate.

One of the more powerful undead surges towards Romtoe and reaches out, grasping the halfling in a deadly embrace and bringing its thick, tombstone-like teeth down to his neck. Blood sprays, and within just a few seconds of the fight, Romtoe is practically out for the count. Behind it, the other zombies shuffle purposefully towards the group, crowding around the entrance and hemming them in, just as a small winged gremlin-like creature squeezes out from a crack near the back of the room, and flaps manically for the other exit. Fearing that it will bring reinforcements, Elumai and Corrash focus their fire on the creature, and they bring it down just before it can get the doors to the next room open. This brings a collective sigh of relief from the rest of the party as they continue to dispatch the remaining undead, ultimately clearing the room without any permanent casualties.

Through the crack from which emerged the homonculous is a squat, square room, probably part of the basement of the keep but whose roof has long-since collapsed. A brief search turns up an excellent find - a Bag of Holding - and within, 2 Potions of Healing, giving the adventurers a much-needed boost.

Deciding to take a risk, the party holes up in the trap room to catch their breath. Eilian finally awakes, demanding explanations for the horrific events upstairs. He tells them of a dreadful vision, in the few seconds when he was struck into unconsciousness by Keegan's blade, of the demon Orcus pulling him inexorably to his side... worse than any of the night-terrors he has suffered with for so long. Despite grudgingly admitting that he has had a dreamless sleep for the first time in as long as he can remember, he demands of the group to be released, refusing point-blank to venture any further into this hell-hole. The party gives him a weapon and food, and sends him on his way, with no choice but to let him go if that's what he wants.

Onward, and the doors to the east lead them to a ruined, underground cathedral. Red walls, bolstered by brick and bone, arch high overhead, and although their viewpoint is obscured from the entrance, the party can see a distant, ram-like altar from which a constant outpouring of blood runs in two dark streams to a black, square well in the center of the room. Thin rivulets of blood from the kiln room behind them snake around their feet and also drip into the pit. Chains, hooked to the grating which surrounds the well, depend into the depths, promising more horrors to come.

A man dressed all in black kneels with his back to them at the altar, whispering entreaties to the Prince of Undead which echo around the room in a harsh whisper. Two shoddily-dressed humans wielding great-axes stand idly by, leaning against glowing crystal pillars, watching the cultist go about his business as if it's the least interesting thing they've ever seen.

Securing at least one flank by wedging a door shut, the adventurers arrange themselves near the door for the inevitable combat to follow, and although they're not the stealthiest bunch of heroes at the best of times, Elumai, at least, manages to get off a magic missile before battle is engaged. The humans -- soon revealed to be wild-eyed berserkers, their faces painted with spittle-flecked madness -- engage the dwarves, while the Underpriest strides towards them all, unleashing powerful curses from his mace, and promising retribution for their blasphemous intrusion into this dark and unholy place.

Soon the party is beset from all sides. To the south, a trio of pale-faced humans with crimson stares clambers over floor, wall, and ceiling to get to Romtoe and Elumai, their expressions alight with blood-lust. To the north, the sealed door successfully holds back more of the creatures -- at least for now -- while Romtoe unleashes the power of Pelor to smite the vampires who have already got through. Suddenly another shape clambers up from the pit and darts out of sight - a dwarfish humanoid, encased in clouds of shadow, cackling with blood-lust.

Shadow-stepping through the melee, it gets itself into position to do serious harm to the more vulnerable members of the group, but manages only a few lacklustre attacks before the combined assault of the party - fearful of the creature's abilities - brings it down. As the shadows clear, it's revealed as nothing more than a short and rather pathetic goblinoid, however the blackness behind its eyes suddenly explodes outwards, blinding several members of the group. From here, the melee gets dangerous, with the battle-fury of the berserkers under the priest's leadership threatening to overwhelm them all. However, well placed area attacks from the rear, and tenacious defending in spite of their blindness from the front lines, brings eventual victory, although the party have had to reach deep into their resources to make it happen.

The cathedral vibrates ominously with the underpriest's death, surely alerting whatever lurks below that something has occured. Now, only the pit of blood remains to be explored...

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 11 -- 22nd November 2008

In which a grievous misjudgement is uncovered, an ancient curse is finally lifted, and the gates to the true horror of Shadowfell Keep swing wide.
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 2
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 2
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 2
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 2
Mord - Dwarven Fighter 2

In the aftermath of the scuffle for Valthrun's old equipment, Mord takes a little time to examine the three tomes he recovered from the scene. One of the books is old and of wide girth, but curiously devoid of content; another deals with the legal process involved in the crimes of a human called Erogian Dean, who seemed to be involved in some kind of scandal at a place called Arranea many years earlier; and the third, aside from a sequence of unintelligible equations and diagrams, has an awful lot to say about a wizard called Tenser. Elumai later identifies this as a ritual book, although disappointingly she has already mastered it.

Later that morning, the group accosts Eilian in his fields. After having learned a little about his drinking and night-terrors, they try to persuade him to accompany them to the Keep so that he may pass judgement on Sir Keegan. He is understandably reluctant, but the deft psychoanalytical ministrations of Elumai and Corrash -- along with a well-timed bottle of the good stuff from Mord -- gradually bring him around to their way of thinking... which was probably for the best, with Berend rapidly losing patience in the background. After a tearful goodbye from Eilian's wife, Goodrun, the party sets off for the Keep.

The journey, aside from one sleepwalking episode from Eilian, is uneventful, and the adventurers recover themselves to Sir Keegan's tomb without incident. The dark entities which toyed with the party during their previous visit are once more in attendance, this time patient and still in one corner of the room, silent observers on the proceedings.

The old knight creaks to his feet, and seems to recognise Eilian, calling him 'Vigo' more than once. Eilian musters whatever courage he can in the face of an abomination the likes of which he has never seen, and offers to dispense judgement on Keegan, who accepts, and begins to recount his sorry tale much as he had to the characters a few days beforehand.

Eilian is gradually numbed by what he hears, and has no choice but to deny his forgiveness. Keegan's demeanour changes quickly to one of bitter contempt. He brings his sword up and steps towards Eilian, revealing that it is not judgement he craves, but his soul, and the dreadful truth suddenly sinks in: the party have been used, manipulated by Keegan into delivering the last surviving member of his family so that he may claim the one soul he failed to collect all those years ago.

The company, anticipating trouble, steps in to protect the old farmer, but Keegan is too fast. What would surely have been a killing blow, however, is thwarted by the two black shadows -- now revealed as the damned souls of his two young daughters -- who surge forward and attack the cursed remains of their father. Keegan is diverted for a few precious seconds, allowing the adventurers to drag Eilian -- catatonic with fear -- off to one side, all the while bringing their weapons to bear on the knight. Soon, and with pitiless fury, Keegan destroys what is left of his daughters, damning them, no doubt, to eternal servitude under a demon's wing, and turns his attention back to his only remaining blood relative.

Although he is effectively walled in by the party's defenders, Keegan's fury will not be stopped. He forces his way through the defense to get to his victim, and strikes him down. Eilian collapses to the floor, barely clinging to life, but before the knight can finish the job, he finds himself battered away by well-placed attacks from the adventurers, giving Romtoe the room he needs to pull Eilian away from death's door.

From this point, the fight becomes a carefully choreographed dance where the party uses every trick in the book to keep the fallen knight away from Eilian, all the while pummeling the undead with everything they have. Not for nothing did destiny intertwine their fate with that of the knight's, and they at last succeed in destroying him, leaving Eilian unconscious, but alive.

Keegan's magical longsword, Aecris is retrieved and handed to Elumai for safe-keeping, but the party is disappointed to find little else of value to them, aside from a few pieces of jewelry which they presume to be memento's of the cursed House of Keegan. Fearing that his defeat will only weaken the wards protecting the lower levels for a short while, they have no choice but to scoop up Eilian's unconscious form, and proceed to the gateway.

They find it pale and weakened, and are able to pass through without harm or hindrance. Beyond, an earthen tunnel uncoils deep underground, its walls stained an ever-richer shade of red as they descend. Following it, they pass by a room in which a strange, amorphous threat lurks beneath the surface of a dark pool, but choose not to engage, pushing on into what looks like an underground temple complex. Taking the southern exit from the next room, they enter a square chamber replete with simple traps - metal statues that attack those who come within reach, dragon-headed plinths that belch fire - but the hazards are old and decrepit, easy to destroy or bypass.

The next room, however, is not so simple. A red-bricked, conical chamber, its walls lined with the signs of old burning, stands in their way. Impaled on the walls are several corpses in various states of decomposition, and a ring of ghoulish figures walking in circles in something like a trance near the center of the room. Trickling down the walls and across the floor sre several rivulets of glistening blood; it twists and pulsates with an unnatural life of its own, collecting in small pools before flowing down a stairwell to the east and god-knows where beyond. As the adventurers stand assessing the scene, the zombies gradually come to their senses...

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Brief Update

...just to warm things over. We actually played two sessions of Cthulhu in order to finish off the (rather good) scenario presented to us by a guy who, the rest of the time, plays dwarven psychopath Berend. A good time was had by all, but it's now time for us to return to D&D.

In a little while, that is. No game next week due to various conflicts, but the following weekend looks good.

In the meantime, Wizards have seen fit to release a Beta of their Character Builder, and if you can get it to install and run (no mean feat), it's quite a piece of work. I have to say they have exceeded expectations on this one, and it bodes extremely well for the other elements of the DDI which should arrive next year.

And finally, the campaign wiki, which will be a collaborative effort between myself and the players, is almost ready and should be opened in the next few days. I have a basic timeline to finish off, and maybe a couple of the more important pages, but it's almost there. And just in time for completion of Keep on the Shadowfell, too. It's almost as if I planned it that way... ;P

Friday, 24 October 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 10 -- 24th October 2008

In which another side of the dwarven coin is revealed, two new friends are made, and the adventurers find themselves last in line for some rich pickings.
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 2
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 2
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 2
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 2
Mord - Dwarven Fighter 2

The party retires to the inn in order to contemplate their next move. They find the patrons within somewhat amused by the presence of a studious-looking dwarf, resplendent in runed plate-mail and carrying a variety of dangerous-looking hammers... as he reads a thick tome, through a pair of wiry spectacles balanced precariously on his nose. This newcomer immediately attracts the interest of both Elumai and Berend, and he introduces himself as Mord TODO, a traveller from the dwarven kingdom of TODO whose love of all things book-shaped has brought him to Wynterhaven in search of new and illuminating scripts.

An amiable evening ensues, although Elumai, commenting on Valthrun as a potential stockist of exotic literature, suddenly finds herself on the receiving end of some kind of message from the absent mage. The first message is cryptic, but the second, received just as the adventurers turn in for the night, takes the form of a promise of important information, and a plea for help to "...open the back door...", which is apparently in the graveyard. Her interest piqued, she gathers her friends, and Mord, disturbed from his nightly studies by the commotion outside, tags along as well.

The graveyard is not as lifeless as they expected. Towards the rear of the cemetery, a strange, diffuse blue light reveals the silhouette of a wiry humanoid doing... something amongst the gravestones. Unfortunately Elumai makes somewhat of a commotion opening the gate, and the figure is alerted to their presence and slips out of sight. Nevertheless, the adventurers decide to investigate more fully, only to find themselves assailed by the rotting undead, risen from their graves, and two zombie-like hounds who had been hiding in the shadows of a nearby mausoleum. The mysterious figure, revealed to be an elf, attacks with deadly accuracy from the shadows using his longbow.

But by this time, the party is adept at handling the baying hordes of the undead realm. The elf is quickly dispatched by Berend and Mord (much to the villain's disgust -- killed by a dwarf!), the zombies and gravehounds are no match for the combined might of Elumai and Corrash's magic, and Romto flits with undisguised glee between the grasping hands of his enemies. At the close, they find the elf -- who turns out to be a woman -- is a familiar Wynterhaven face to them, but not someone they have had anything to do with before now.

In any case, the elf had been busy, digging away at the topsoil of the graveyard to reveal that several of the grave markers had not in fact been signifying the location of the dead, but of an extremely powerful gating portal buried in the earth, the runes of which are the source of the pale blue glow all around them. The party retreats nervously from the enchantment and Elumai utters the words she had been asked to say: "Valthrun the Magnificent!"

After a second or two, the indistinct image of Valthrun's tower appears before them. Through the transparent walls, already fading away, a library of vast and untapped writings brings a tear to Mord's dwarvish eyes, but Romto catches sight of something else: a small dirty-looking boy, dressed in simple clothes, who emerges from his hiding spot underneath one of the tables in the library and runs off out of sight. Quickly, the tower fades to nothing, leaving in its place, Valthrun.

Dirtier and less extravagantly dressed than before, he greets the party with a warm smile, impressed that his escape mechanism even worked at all, although regretful of the fact that he will now have to go looking for his tower, a task which might take him days or weeks. He looks bemused at any mention of the little boy, but confesses he never quite felt alone in the tower in all the years he lived there. Soon though, questions turn to the information he supposedly has, and he informs them of what he knows.

It is not a pretty tale. Valthrun admits that the reason that Riva and his "damned dustboots" came looking for him is that he has been selling sensitive arcane information to all and sundry, something which is, apparently, against the "laws" of the Court of Cloaks... laws, he points out, that he had nothing to do with instituting in the first place. In any case, he admits, it may be entirely possible that he sold Kalarel the secret of bypassing the seals which stopped the adventurers in their tracks on the second level of the Keep. Pressed for the information, Valthrun amusedly informs the party that all they have to do is pledge fealty to Orcus -- with their own blood as a sacrifice -- to be able to pass to-and-fro through the seal as they see fit.

Obviously, the adventurers are none-too impressed with this solution. Valthrun recounts what he knows of Sir Keegan -- a history they have already been told by the man himself -- and reveals that all of his research in the past has pointed to Eilian as a potential direct descendant of the knight, although he didn't unerstand the significance of it at the time. Freeing Keegan from the limbo into which he has been placed may certainly be another way to weaken the seal, since the knight's spirit has been bound there for many years and allowing him to move on to the other side would likely drain much of the power from the desecrated ruin. He sees fit to warn them, however, that Keegan seemed to be involved in several (unproven) scandals in his years as a knight before he was assigned to guard the Keep, and that his reputation was by most acounts not as untarnished as he might have led them to believe.

With that, Valthrun departs (to Mord's disappointment, and to Corrash's relief), leaving only a promise that they are welcome to stay... whenever he's chased down his tower. Amidst the rotting flesh, bone, and general descration of the graveyard, the party decides that a hasty exit may be more politic than attempting to repair the damage tonight and potentially being discovered in a cemetery full of exhumed corpses with spades in their hands. Better, they feel, to blame Valthrun for the whole thing, although Corrash is resistant to the idea of lying, even if he at least understands the concept a little better since he met the rest of them.

It turns out, however, that the dragonborn needn't have worried. The following day, the party is woken by a commotion from downstairs. Padraig is there, inciting the townsfolk into something akin to a mob. Appalled at the damage wrought in the graveyard, and with Valthrun's tower popping out of existence sometime in the night, the mayor has reached the logical conclusion that Valthrun is to blame for heinous acts of necromancy and must be hunted down! He offers no less than 500 gold to anyone who returns the mage to him, dead or alive.

The assembled throng filters out into the street, and the adventurers discover that not every brick of the tower actually made a successful exit: Valthrun's basement, neatly sheared off when the tower disappeared, remains whole and is now in the process of being looted by the townsfolk. Desperate to get their hands on whatever magical artefacts and scripture that might have been left behind, the group tries everything in their power to persuade, frighten, or intimidate them into giving them control of the situation. Their efforts, though, are in vain against the frenzied, avaricious mob. Only the sickly, acrid gas that begins to settle over the area as various bottles and jars are smashed open forces the mob to disperse, and by then, nothing of value remains unbroken or unlooted... except, perhaps, the three leather-bound tomes that Mord carefully recovered from the ground as they were tossed to one side...

Wednesday, 22 October 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 9 -- 12th October 2008

In which an ancient spirit stands in judgement of the adventurers, a desperate plea is heard, and the ramblings of a frail old farmer may hold the key to unlocking the Keep.
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 2
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 2
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 2
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 2

Emboldened by their success against the first group of undead, the party stands ready for the second assault. Their strategy is sound, and the rotting flesh of their enemies is soon spattered about the corridors of the crypt. This allows them to turn their attention to the hallway below.

It's long, with a chamber of some sort at the far end. Eight sarcophagi line the walls. The party engineers a safe way to open one of them, only to find a wall of darkness on the other side, reminiscent of a portal or planar gate of some kind, according to Elumai. A small rock tossed into the coffin vanishes from sight, and the adventurers wisely decide that it is best closed and left alone for now.

The chamber at the end of the hallway is tall, with a domed roof caked in some kind of black patina, like thick dust or soot. Defiled altars stand on either side, and a set of double doors entices to the east. Elumai orders her ever-present Mage Hand to clean the roof, and it does so diligently, scraping thick chunks of blackness away which cakes the floor but reveals a grand mural of dragons doing battle. Corrash reconstructs a piece of scripture from the altars, which activates the mural and washes the entire area in holy light. This is a welcome respite in the otherwise oppressive keep.

Carefully the party opens the double doors. Inside, there is a single room with a massive stone sarcophagus on a raised dais. Carved into the lid is the likeness of a plate-clad warrior, whose noble face and firm jaw are etched in strong lines, and whose hands clutch a magnificent sword to his chest. To one side of the coffin lies a skeletal form, dressed in the rotting, rusted remnants of plate-mail, clutching the very same sword in one hand. As the adventurers approach, it trembles and comes to life, clutching at the stone sarcophagus and heaving itself onto unsteady feet.

The ghoulish figure calls the party to account, challenging each of them to explain what has brough them to this dark place, and what right they have to stand before it. Each in turn answers, with only Berend's quick tongue giving the skeleton any cause to doubt their intentions, but eventually he accepts them into his presence and invites their questions.

The creature offers what information it can. He was once known as Sir Keegan, a noble knight of the Order of the Bright Hand, charged with commanding this fortress. He tells of the Keep, built on a rift to the Shadowfell, but unbeknownst even to its architects, constructed atop a deep and evil catacomb dedicated to the Prince of the Undead, Orcus. The demon spoke to Keegan in his dreams, and much to the knight's eternal dismay, he was weak, and succumbed, unleashing a murderous psychosis on his own family and the knights under his command. All were killed or fled, including his wife and two daughters, although his son, Vigo, escaped. Keegan knows of Kalarel and the cultists who have taken residence in the catacombs below, but even though their designs on the rift are no doubt vile, he admits that he cannot bring himself to judge them for it.

As the will to animate his skeletal remains begins to ebb, Keegan begs the adventurers to bring a living descendent of Vigo before him, so that he may be judged by his own blood, and move on to whichever fate awaits him for his misdeeds. Whether forgiven or cursed, only someone of his own blood can free him from the limbo in which he is trapped. Soon after, the creature collapses, once again no more that a pile of dessicated flesh and bone.

As the adventurers turn to leave, two shadows, black as night, burst into the room and assail Berend. His mind is assaulted with images from Keegan's rampage, focusing on the murder of a little girl in her bed... and so it seems that the spirits of his children are not at rest either.

Deciding to return to Wynterhaven to follow up on whatever clues they can find about Keegan's bloodline, the party nevertheless checks out the other side of the crypt maze, there to find a room with an exploded wall, and an earthen tunnel beyond. At the end of the tunnel is a pulsating violet wall which melts the flesh of the undead remains they toss through it. With no obvious means of ingress, they are forced to turn back, disappointed in the knowledge that the tunnel is the only way deeper into the Keep... and likely, the only way into the catacomb below.

Back in town, Padraig's manor is an obvious source of local history so once again the adventurers pay a visit to the mayor. Unfortunately, he is indisposed, although Lord Riva is more than happy to grant them access to his library if it should cause consternation to the Lord of the manor. Within, some progress is made: Wynterhaven was indeed founded by the remnants of the knights who escaped from the Keep, although the possibility that Padraig himself may be descended from Keegan turns out to be false, as the mantle of 'Lord of Wynterhaven' is nothing more than a title bought by the bidder with the largest purse, or gifted to a favoured friend when the responsibility of running the town must be passed on.

At the inn, the party follows up on these discoveries, but is unnerved to discover that the townsfolk have an almost subliminal tendency to avoid questions about the town's history. Under cross-examination, there are signs of enchantments at work. The possibility that records of donations and other charity at the town shrine, located in the graveyard, may give clues as to who has passed through in recent years lead the adventurers to a woman called Goodrun. She has responsibility for returning donations to the town coffers, and she is none other than Eilian the Mad's wife. This is enough to stimulate suspicion in the group that Eilian may in fact be the person they're looking for.

They pay a visit to his home, a small shack in the midst of his fields outside of town. Goodrun greets them at the door, and talks to them outside lest they should disturb Eilian, drinking off another one of his binges. She has little to offer in the way of information about alms to the town, but she gets increasingly upset at questions about her husband, dropping hints that the reason he drinks so much is to escape the terrible dreams that seem to assault him almost every night. More than that, she does not say, and takes her leave of them just as Eilian awakes from his stupour.

Their suspicions raised, and with a dwarf who won't take 'no' for an answer, the party considers their next move. Is Eilian the one they're looking for? If so, is he of sound enough mind to help them?

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 8 -- 28th September 2008

In which a halfling insinuates himself into the party, relationships with dragonborn get a little bit chilly, and the undead walk.
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 2
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 2
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 2
Romto - Halfling Cleric (of Pelor) 2

Things take a turn for the unexpected when Kieran abruptly announces that he doesn't want to continue with the adventurers. Hoping to recruit more help, the party return to Winterhaven and soon engage with a halfling paladin by the name of Romto. Unphased by Corrash's resistance to his proselytising, Romoto admits he's short of pocket (short of everything in fact) and proposes that he joins them for whatever endeavour they may be engaged in. Perhaps less enthusiastically than he would like, they agree.

Back at the Keep, the group delves into a maze-like, underground crypt. Romto immediately makes his presence felt by finding and sidestepping some sort of glyph inscribed on the floor, and the adventurers unleash everything they have on a group of clustered undead, seemingly unaware of their presence until disturbed. While that attack is successful, a terrible banshee-like scream suddenly echoes around the place, and the sounds of ghoulish shambling erupt from all directions...

Friday, 19 September 2008

4ed Campaign -- Session 7 -- 13th September 2008

In which a coy little maneuver escapes to take over the entire session.
Roster
Elumai - Eladrin Wizard 2
Berend - Dwarven Fighter 2
Corrash - Dragonborn Warlock (Fey-Pact) 2
Kieran - Eladrin Warlord (Tactical Presence) 2 (Community NPC)

After a brief discussion on whether to continue, or exit the Keep to take a well-earned rest, the characters decide that they want to push on and deal with whatever threat is facing them from the corridors on the other side of the secret corridor. A plot is hatched, with Corrash and Elumai sneaking back through the complex to spy on the room from which the guard dogs (or whatever) emerged earlier, while Berend and Kieran wait behind the secret door to surprise whatever they draw out.

From the end of the corridor, the room is somewhat difficult to make out however there is clearly a large dog-like creature on guard. Corrash and Elumai attack the creature from distance, but whatever urge it has to rush to the attack is curtailed by a harsh, goblin-sounding order from the back of the room. There ensures a carefully choreographed assault on the guard drakes and goblin shooters in the room, attackers and defenders swatting at eachother from the shadows before the party rushes the room and dispatches the goblins at close range.

They find a room which has been the site of some sort of dig, with the flagstoned floor of the Keep dug out to a depth of at least ten feet. A search throws up nothing unusual until Elumai brings her burgeoning Arcane expertise to bear on the room, detecting the presence of a magical aura within the huge spoil heap in one corner. Within, a tarnished gold necklace with a dragon-head talisman spewing meticulously crafted flame... an Implement +1 of Bahamut. Of little use to the party, it is neverthless pocketed.

After this the characters retreat to the surface, setting up camp in the woods around the Keep entrance. They know that they can no longer put off venturing into the cold underbelly of the complex...

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Poll Results & New Poll

So the returns are in for judging 4E's improvements with respect to encouraging more flowery narrative, and the results are pretty clear:
4E powers and their associated narrative fluff - have these innovations helped or hindered the narration of combat and the game in general? (16 respondents):
Helped - 81%
Hindered - 6%
No change - 12%

A couple of votes on the negative or 'no change' side don't really offset the majority in favour of 'Helped', and in this instance I have to agree. Having that little bit of fluff in the power description -- even if you have to tweak it or radically alter it to fit what's going on in the game -- definitely encourages the expenditure of a few more watts of brainpower when describing what you're doing. This is important; D&D is a narrative exercise, not a board game, and anything which reinforces that distinction is a winner.

For my next trick I'd like to find out more about the predilections of all D&D players -- not just DM's -- with respect to the kinds of adventures they like to play. There's nothing new or exciting about this poll, but with a few thoughts coalescing in my head about Wizards' approach to its Heroic Tier adventures, I'm interested in the results.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

Voices In My Head 2: The DM is your friend (mostly)

(Note: this is a re-post of something I originally published at the end of here.)

The DM is your buddy. He's there to facilitate your fun. The DM is not your enemy. He doesn't play to 'win' or to 'beat you down'. Or does he?

Claiming that there can be no adversarial relationship between the DM and the players is, if you ask me, nonsense. In any situation where there is a potential for failure, it is the DM's default responsibility to execute the challenge to the best of his ability. Most likely, this be a combat, but it could as easily be a skill challenge, a tricky bit of diplomatic roleplaying, or even a trap. Whatever the situation, he is doing his players a disservice if he doesn't use all of the options at his disposal... and use them well.

This means preparing the encounter, learning about the monster's abilities, and sparing a few minutes of thought for group tactics and the best use of the terrain. There isn't really any excuse for not doing that, unless the combat is improvised or has migrated into unexpected territory. 4E, even more than 3.5, requires this of the DM because monsters are so much more varied now, each one with multiple exceptional attacks, many of which synnergise both with itself and the abilities of its allies. Put together, all of this can change the nature -- and difficulty -- of a battle quite dramatically.

If the players are steam-rollering their way through encounter after encounter, they will get bored, even if some of them won't admit it. One thing, though, is guaranteed: the DM will get bored. Believe me I know. Bored, and frustrated. And more and more inclined towards unhelpful and maybe even uncharacteristically spiteful behaviour in pursuit of the simple task of getting to play an encounter to its full potential.

Nothing in D&D -- and I mean nothing -- frustrates me more as a DM than a confusion of circumstances in which monsters or villains barely get to put their abilities into action, where they become walking sacks of hit points crushed by the PC's. Sometimes this is down to luck, or simple surprise; sometimes tactics, intelligence, or team-work play an important part. These situations are okay because they're either out of your control, or the players are being rewarded for good planning. In fact they're more than okay... they're a pleasure to run and good fun to watch.

But when the monsters are being crushed simply because you didn't read the encounter, or because you didn't spot a hopelessly broken mix of monsters, or because the monsters themselves are simply not appropriate for the party... that can be disheartening. Good preparation is the only escape from this grim prison... and thankfully 4E makes it easier than ever to get that prep in.

The DM-player relationship, like any relationship, is a complicated one defined by context. The bottom line is that in D&D, rewards without challenges are dull for everyone involved. If they weren't, the game would consist of time-trials to see who could build a 30th level character fastest, instead of the complicated dance of mutual story-building and butt-kicking that the game is renowned for.

At least one of the DM's jobs is irrefutable: provide a challenge. In this battle of wits, it's 5 against 1, and he needs all the help he can get.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Dungeon Index

A level-by-level compendium of all of the published 4E Dungeon adventures, sidetreks, conversions, and whatever else they come up with. If you're not a DM you might want to avoid this posts for potential spoilers (although they're very light).

As from Dungeon #159 onwards, the links will only work for D&D Insider subscribers.

Starting in issue #183, Dungeon adventures target three-level ranges rather than individual levels. These are listed at the minimum level, for example an adventure for "Levels 6-8" will be listed as "6th Level". So, if you're looking for an adventure for your group's level be sure to check the preceding two levels as well.

Last updated on 30th April 2013 (Dungeon #213)

Adventures By Level

Any Level
Cross-City Race (Dungeon 176) - By James "Grim" Desborough
Adventurers—noble and otherwise—from all across the land have gathered to participate in the annual Cross City Race. Can you be the first across the finish line? A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for characters of any level.

0 Level
Temple of the Weeping Goddess (Dungeon 194) - By Phillippe Antoine-Menard
It’s time to leave behind your childhood and become an adventurer, but are you ready to search for a lost goddess in the Elemental Chaos? Your crazy mentor seems to think so! A D&D adventure for 0-level characters, designed to accompany Dragon 403’s “0-level Adventurers” article.

1st Level
While near the Chaos Scar, the adventurers encounter a strange wagon stuck in a hole, along with the strange cultists escorting it. A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level characters.

As the village of Crystalbrook battles blue-skinned monsters, two star-crossed lovers find solace in a crystal cave, beyond which lies an enchanted garden. Few who visit the garden ever return. Will you? This D&D adventure for characters of levels 1–3 was previously produced as a D&D Encounters season adventure.

Brothers Gray, The (Dungeon 172, Chaos Scar) - By Greg Vaughan
A gang of halfling cutthroats has claimed an old mine stake and begun staging raids on passing caravans. The PCs must venture into the scar and stop the Brothers Gray once and for all. A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level PCs.

Giant ants and other terrors from the Scar have been swarming from a new nest. Can the PCs figure out what else is happening inside their lair and put a stop to it? A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level PCs.

"Elves of the Valley" pits the adventurers against fey bandits corrupted by a demonic entity recently escaped from the valley. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 1st-level characters.

A chance encounter in the Chaos Scar allows the characters the opportunity to avenge another group of fallen adventurers—unless the foes that claimed their lives prove too much for the heroes! A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 1st-level characters.

Glitterdust (Dungeon 211) - By Will Doyle
King Sunfire, the lord of the pixies, has a most important quest for you. Watch out for giant snails, hungry bats, and screaming scarecrows! A D&D adventure for 1st-level pixie characters.

A tribe of kobolds has unearthed a lost library that once belonged to the goliath sorcerer, Voran Earthmane. With this new power at their disposal, they could pose a significant threat to the surrounding region. A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level PCs.

Prey for Smiley Bob (Dungeon 205) - By Christopher Perkins
The halflings are unhappy with their neighbor, Smiley Bob. Time to show the old bear who’s boss. A D&D adventure for 1st-level characters.

Rescue At Rivenroar (Dungeon 156 - Scales of War AP) - By David Noonan

A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. The new Dungeon Adventure Path kicks off in the town of Brindol. The PCs must locate and rescue some missing townsfolk and find out why a new hobgoblin chieftain is so interested in this region.

The goddess Selûne has sent her priests a warning of the dangers threatening Neverwinter, and it’s up to the heroes to uncover them before it’s too late. A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 1–3.

Thieves plunder a village under cover of night, stealing tools and supplies. What are they building in their secret hideout? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 1–3.

Tainted Spiral (Dungeon 173, Chaos Scar) - By Aeryn "Blackdirge" Rudel
A Chaos Shard has grown a limited form of sentience, warping and corrupting a new warren of caves—and drawing in some aberrant allies. A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level PCs.

House Madar was wiped out generations ago by its commercial rivals. It didn't go down without a fight, however, and its wealth was never recovered. Legend holds that it's entombed somewhere in the Tablelands. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 1st-level characters.

The Village of Hommlet (Levels 1-3, Dungeon 212) - By Gary Gygax & Andy Collins
Years ago, the village of Hommlet became embroiled in a conflict against the Temple of Elemental Evil. Luckily for the village’s inhabitants, the temple and its evil hordes were destroyed. However, a decade later, Hommlet still suffers from incursions of bandits and strange monsters. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 1–3.

2nd Level
Captain Slygo, the dread pirate, menaces the Silverwrack Coast, but there’s more to this greedy goblin than meets the eye. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 2–4.

Crossroads, The (Dungeon 176, Chaos Scar) - By Rodney Thompson
Just beyond the King’s Wall sits the Crossroads—an inn and trading post for anyone passing into, out of, or near the Scar. But the taint of the Chaos Scar has long since grown beyond the mortal attempts to contain it, and the Crossroads offers its own hazards to the unwary. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 2nd-level characters.

Dead by Dawn (Dungeon 176, Chaos Scar) - By Aeryn "Blackdirge" Rudel
If even the monsters of the Chaos Scar have left a place abandoned, it’s probably for good reason. But when night falls and the dead stir, a lost, mysterious temple of death might be the only hope the characters have for surviving ‘til dawn. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 2nd-level characters.

So you've fought the goblins and made it back to Fallcrest alive. You've braved the Twisting Halls. You've even faced Parald in the Ghost Tower of the Witchlight Fens. The adventure isn't over, because now it's time to explore the Dungeon of the Ghost Tower! This 2nd-level adventure picks up where "The Twisting Halls" (from the D&D Red Box) leaves off.

In his youth, Urgog the Mangler was a feared goblin warrior and raider. Eventually, he and his warband were driven deep into the Chaos Scar and weren't heard from again. It was hoped that Urgog was dead … but he's not. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 2nd-level characters.

The village of Baron’s Hill has fallen under a sinister curse, and there can be no peace until the curse is lifted. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 2–4.

In "The Hammer Falls", characters enter an abandoned metalworking refinery under the control of a clan of duergar, who have given their souls to infernal forces in exchange for power. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 2nd-level characters.

Menace of the Icy Spire (Dungeon 159 - Forgotten Realms) - By Sean Molley
New to Loudwater, the heroes learn of a tower locked in ice in the nearby wilderness. Traveling there, they discover that the tower's master left behind many surprises for the unwary. A Forgotten Realms adventure for 2nd-level PCs.

Somewhere in the Chaos Scar is a forest of glass that sings plaintively in the wind. How did it arise, and what mystery does it conceal? A Chaos Scar adventure for 2nd-level characters.

Sliver's Call (Dungeon 174, Chaos Scar) - By Stephen Radney-MacFarland
A voice from the Scar has summoned a wizard of great power for many years. Now, as he closes in on the secret of the Cave of Dark Whispers, he needs help to achieve his ends. A Chaos Scar adventure for 2nd-level characters.

A wizard wrongly accused of a crime has vanished into the cavernous slum below Waterdeep. Find him if you can, but beware the darkness! A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 2–4.

3rd Level
Andok Sur is an ancient necropolis in the Nentir Vale’s northeastern reaches. It slumbered in eternal peace until the lich Magroth entered it and began raising an army of undead from Andok Sur's restful dead. Magroth failed, but the undead remain, casting their threat across the Old Hills and the surrounding area. An adventure locale for characters of levels 3-8.
 
Shadowmire, the black wyrm of the Witchlight Fens, doesn’t like his neighbors. Can you protect a poorly defended hermitage from the dragon’s wrath? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 3–5, designed to support Monster Vault: Threats to the Nentir Vale.

Fjorin’s Foothold (Levels 3-5, Dungeon 209) - By Christopher Perkins & Aeryn Rudel
Fjorin Hammermain cut a deal with the creatures infesting his adamantine mine, and unsuspecting adventurers are about to pay the price. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 3–5.
 
Many have died searching for the lost dwarven city of Gauntlgrym. Now, it seems, the heroes have found a way inside—but they might not live to regret it. A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 3–5.
 
Remains of the Empire (Dungeon 165) - By Kolja Raven Liquette
Long ago, when the Dragonborn Empire of Arkhosia thrived, the flying citadel Ustraternes was undone by Tiefling magic. When Ustraternes crashed into an alpine peak, it cracked open like an egg, scattering the sundered pieces in all directions. Now, a dragonborn zealot with dreams of renewing the lost glory of his ancestors explores the ruins -- and unleashes a plague of rampaging drakes on the terrified locals. An adventure for 3rd-level PCs.

Siege of Bordrin’s Watch (Dungeon 157 - Scales of War AP) - By Robert J. Schwalb

A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. The new Dungeon Adventure Path continues as the PCs, along with other heroes of Elsir Vale, are summoned to the dwarven city of Overlook to help stem the threat of an orc horde massing in the mountains.

The citizens of Neverwinter are killing each other, and only you can end the insanity. A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 3–5, perfect for parties that survive D&D Encounters: Lost Crown of Neverwinter.
 
As part of a search for missing magical items, the heroes must make their way to a scarred landscape where a shattered spring fills a misty lake. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 3rd-level characters.
 
Stick in the Mud (Dungeon 171, Chaos Scar) - By Aeryn "Blackdirge" Rude
A group of bullywugs have taken up residence in the muddy ruins of an ancient keep. Can the heroes root them out and find out what lurks at the heart of their lair? A Chaos Scar adventure for 1st-level PCs.
 
Storm Tower (Dungeon 166) - By Christopher Perkins
Featured in the popular Penny Arcade podcasts, this adventure takes the player characters to Fallcrest. There, they are hired to retake a ruined tower being rebuilt to help defend the town, which has recently come under attack once more. An adventure for 3rd-level PCs.

The halflings of the Great Swamp have fished that bayou for generations. Now the lizardfolk are stirring up trouble for no apparent reason, and the disturbances seem to be centered around a fabled structure whose crumbling parapets are nearly submerged beneath the surrounding swamp. An adventure for characters of levels 3-5.
 
Tariff of Relkingham, The (Dungeon 158) - By Eytan Bernstrain
The goddess Erathis has never seemed the sort to demand the sacrifice of mortals in exchange for safe trade routes, but that's exactly what her high priest has demanded. When a local ruler asks the characters to investigate the high priest, a chain of events is set in motion that could shake the city of Wyllea and the church of Erathis to their core. An adventure for 3rd-level PCs.

4th Level
An ancient elven sanctuary holds a secret that the orcs will kill to discover. Can you survive a harrowing confrontation with the Blood of Gruumsh? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 4–6.

Crawling Fane (Dungeon 178, Chaos Scar) - By Aeryn "Blackdirge" Rudel
A duergar heretic has taken up the worship of a creature even worse than the usual duergar deities and lost his mind in the process. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 4th-level characters.

A beholder crime lord needs your help to thwart a common enemy, and the job pays well. It’s an offer you dare not refuse. A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 6–8.

Glowstone Caverns (Dungeon 177, Chaos Scar) - By Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
The Snawstubble goblin tribe has stumbled upon a strange series of caverns filled with an unfamiliar metal—and a dark evil. Now the goblins have found new power in the Scar as well as a new source of corruption. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 4th-level characters.

Heathen (Dungeon 155) - By Scott Fitzgerald Gray
The paladin Jaryd set out to find and destroy the Hand of Naarash. He was never heard from again. Now the PCs must retrace Jaryn’s steps across the harsh wilderness and determine what has become of the noble warrior.

The ghost of a slain tiefling criminal haunts the town of Raske, threatening vengeance against his slayers. Can you banish this infernal soul to the Nine Hells where it belongs? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 4–6.

Three years ago, Zelgar Lightborn’s brother left the town of Silvergrail on a grand adventure and was cursed with lycanthropy. Now he’s returned, along with the rest of his pack. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 4–6.

A family’s tortured dreams have become reality, thanks to an ill-timed ritual used in desperation. Now a village is threatened, and the characters must act quickly to stop this nightmare from spreading. A Dungeons & Dragons Side Trek for 4th-level characters, with expansion possibilities for further play.

Every year, two wizards in neighboring towns host a competition. This year, it’s an owlbear race over the mountain. Will your owlbear be the first to cross the finish line? An off-the-beaten-path D&D adventure for characters of levels 4–6.

Not far from the King's Wall is a solitary, crooked stone pillar. It resembles nothing so much as a stack of staring eyeballs. Thus far, the Pillar has remained an enigma, but recent study suggests that whatever it contains might be growing restive. "The Pillar of Eyes" is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 4th-level characters.

Shadow Rift of Umbraforge, The (Dungeon 158 - Scales of War AP) - By Scott Fitzgerald Gray
A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. Following a lead from "Siege of Bordrin's Watch," the heroes pursue dark creepers who were selling weapons and armor to the orcs responsible for trying to attack Overlook. Their investigation will take them into the darkness beneath the ancient city, and beyond. An adventure for 4th-level PCs.

Stormcrow Tor (Dungeon 169) - By Bruce R. Cordell
Stormcrow Company—an unsavory band of adventurers—haven't been seen or heard from in years. Rumors of their accumulated wealth have spread far and wide, and if they have truly been slain, that treasure is just waiting for adventurers to come and collect it. But is anything ever as easy as it seems? An adventure for 4th-level PCs.

A beholder has taken up residence on the far side of the King's Wall. No one in Restwell knows what the creature is up to, but it involves a pair of captured rust monsters. An adventure for 4th-level characters.
 
Wayward Wyrmling (Dungeon 182, Chaos Scar) - ByAeryn "Blackdirge" Rudel
A group of heroes has slain an adamantine dragon in the Chaos Scar, and the countryside echoes with songs of praise for their deed. But what if that monster had offspring? An adventure for 4th-level characters.

5th Level
The peaceful years were shattered in one bloody night when out from the darkness came the wolves. Now folk bar their doors and shutter their windows until the swollen moon shrinks once more. A feature-length adventure for characters of levels 5-7.

Barovia has long suffered under the rule of Count Strahd von Zarovich, but the evil that plagues his land extends well beyond the walls of Castle Ravenloft. See what keeps the good citizens of Barovia awake at night. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 5–7.
 
The citizens of Kudoku live in fear of five mysterious, deadly assassins. It's your job—and your honor—to clean up this one-teahouse town. Remember: your kung fu is best! A D&D Kara-Tur adventure for characters of levels 5–7.
 
Going Ape! (Levels 5-7, Dungeon 192) - By John Rossomangno
The curse of Cihuatlco has claimed another victim, and the jungle natives are up in arms. The only hope for peace lies in the heart of the haunted city, which is overrun with apes and ruled by their mysterious queen. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 5–7.
 
Arturas Shadowghast, a wanted criminal, has taken refuge in his ancestral home, and it’s your job to bring the blackguard to justice. A D&D Tile Trek adventure for characters of levels 5–7, designed for use with Dungeon Tiles: Shadowghast Manor.

Stripped of your armor and weapons, you are cast into the Twisted Thickets and hunted like rabbits. If you want revenge, you must first survive Yeenoghu’s evil hunters. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 5–7.
 
The raider lord Yarnath prowls the wastelands in his crawling, undead citadel called Slither. Now he possesses a tiny fragment of an artifact with which he intends to unleash a godslayer. An adventure for characters of levels 5-7.
 
Centuries ago, a comet fell from the sky and carved a nasty scar across the face of the Nentir Vale. It also ruined the life of a promising young man. Now, four hundred years later, he’s decided enough is enough. A D&D Chaos Scar adventure for characters of levels 5–7.
 
Slaver's Stone, The (Dungeon 181, Chaos Scar) - By Robert J. Schwalb
Rescuers are hot on the trail of villagers who have been abducted by slavers when a horrible choice is forced on them. "The Slaver's Stone" is a Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 5th-level characters.
 
6th Level
A retired gladiator has a bone to pick with House Tsalaxa, and the raging desert has a bone to pick with you. A D&D Dark Sun adventure for characters of levels 6–8.
 
Seemingly overnight, the peaceful town of Hampstead was turned into a ghoul-haunted ruin. Adventurers will test their physical and spiritual limits as they make a harrowing journey across that landscape while being hunted by a horde of ravenous undead. An adventure for characters of levels 6-8.
 
Lost Mines of Karak, The (Dungeon 159 - Scales of War AP) - By Greg Vaughan
A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. The PCs must travel to the long-lost mine of the Karak family of Overlook in the hope of securing a steady supply of ore for the town's needs in this time of war. Once there, they discover that another party has also discovered the mine, with much more nefarious purposes in mind. An adventure for 6th-level PCs.

The Chaos Scar strikes back! The monsters are fed up with the meddlesome heroes and their frequent incursions, and so they’ve arranged a deadly trap. A D&D Chaos Scar adventure for characters of levels 6–8.

Nightbringer’s armies have Gardmore Abbey surrounded, but the abbey’s valiant defenders aren’t going down without a fight! This D&D adventure designed for six pregenerated 6th-level characters first appeared as a Penny Arcade Expo 2011 convention exclusive.

The Temple of the Radiant Morn opened its doors near the Chaos Scar to spread its message of comfort and salvation. Now the congregation whispers of lost treasure and forgotten lore. An adventure for characters of levels 6-8.

Tyrant's Oath (Dungeon 178) - By Kolja Raven Liquette
"The Tyrant’s Oath" places the heroes between two warlords struggling for dominance; a bandit queen who has subjugated the local village and a yuan-ti occultist that transforms the villagers into snaketongue minions. Who can the heroes trust in order to save the inhabitants of Elkridge? A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 6th-level characters.

An evil warlord has prepared a feast for her new Zhentarim allies, and she has a gift for them as well. The Harpers need your help to break this unholy alliance. A D&D Forgotten Realms adventure for characters of levels 6–8.

7th Level
Somewhere beneath the desert lies a seed from a primordial Tree of Life. This supernatural plant can bring life to broad regions, and that life equals power to defilers and sorcerer-monarchs. A primordial Tree is far more powerful than any others still alive, making this one a prize beyond price. An adventure for characters of levels 7-9.
 
When an army of evil mercenaries threatens the town of Elderwood, the only way to stop the villains is to steal their employer’s money... a task easier said than done! A D&D heist adventure for levels 7–9.

Danger at the White Lotus Academy (Dungeon 165) - By Peter Schaefer
The White Lotus Academy has stood as a symbol of arcane learning for decades. Now, a secret inhabitant of the school grounds has come into conflict with the headmaster, and the students and surroundings are in danger. The PCs must avoid the hazards of their near-invisible foe and thwart its plans before they run out of time. An adventure for 7th-level PCs.

Dead for a Spell (Levels 7-9, Dungeon 206, Eberron) - By Christopher Perkins & Scott Fitzgerald Gray
A lost spellbook holds the key to unlocking a conspiracy that could shed new light on the Day of Mourning and reignite the Last War. A D&D Eberron adventure for characters of levels 7–9.

Den of the Destroyer (Dungeon 160) - By Rodney Thompson

A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. The PCs are the heroes of Overlook, but before they can really enjoy the fruits of their labors, they receive a strange summons from Brindol. This summons will send them on an adventure that will dramatically shape the coming conflict in Elsir Vale … and possibly have even more significant repercussions in the near future. An adventure for 7th-level PCs.

The wizard Bolios Whittish commands a flying citadel in the shape of an enormous stone head. But some other force has taken control of Whittish's fortress and is pulling it inexorably toward a distant cliff, and he's desperate for rescue. An adventure for characters of levels 7-9.

Heart of the Forbidden Forge (Dungeon 167 - Eberron) - By Luke Johnson
Many Cannith creation forges were lost on the Day of Mourning, but a rogue artificer has uncovered one of those that pursued some of the most experimental and dangerous research during the Last War. While seeking the forbidden knowledge in the forge, this explorer awakened a dark power that was more than she could handle, and it now threatens the region. An adventure for 7th-level PCs set in the Eberron campaign setting.

Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan, The (Dungeon 209) - By Harold Johnson, Jeff R. Leason, and Stephen Radney-MacFarland
Lost Tamoachan is about to be rediscovered. This 4th Edition D&D adventure for 7th-level characters updates the classic AD&D adventure module C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan.

A desert oasis once revered by a group of avian-friendly druids holds a secret well of power. Now, a power-mad sorcerer seeks to tap the essence of the oasis for her own abuses. The PCs must act quickly to secure the oasis from this villain and her band of eladrin bandits. An adventure for 7th-level PCs.

When a dragon corrupted by the Deck of Many Things takes refuge in the Chaos Scar, expect trouble in the cards. The penultimate D&D Chaos Scar adventure for characters of levels 7–9.

8th Level
The Veiled Alliance wants to bring new life to a devastated island in the Sea of Silt, but it isn’t called the Isle of Death for nothing. A D&D Dark Sun adventure for characters of levels 8–10.

Last Breaths of Ashenport, The (Dungeon 156) - By Ari Marmell
Newly updated for 4th Edition! The seaside town of Ashenport has a troubled past and a dark secret. If you spend a night in Ashenport, you just might not wake up the next morning.

Massacre at Fort Dolor (Dungeon 157) - By Shawn Merwin
The outpost of Fort Dolor has experienced an unprecedented stretch of peace in recent times. Then nearly the entire garrison disappears on a supposed routine patrol, and the town—still on the frontier—is left nearly defenseless. Can the adventurers dig to the bottom of the mystery at Fort Dolor before they, too, disappear?

The knights of Restwell Keep are vanishing without a trace. Not surprisingly, all eyes turn to the Chaos Scar. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 8–10.
War has erupted between two noble houses in the city of Gloomwrought. Who has turned these former allies into bitter enemies, and for what fell purpose? A D&D adventure of intrigue for characters of levels 8–10, designed to support The Shadowfell: Gloomwrought and Beyond boxed set.

Return of the Poisoned Shadows (Dungeon 164, Dungeon Delve) - By Greg Marks
Continuing where the Poisoned Shadows delve from the Dungeon Delve supplement left off comes Return of the Poisoned Shadows! After dealing with the Poisoned Shadows guild, the PCs learn that they've been targeted by more deadly killers. A Dungeon Delve adventure for 8th-level PCs.

Sleeper in the Tomb of Dreams (Dungeon 155) - By Matthew Sernett
Cultists seek to free the soul of a terrible entity from beyond the stars. The PCs must retrieve the soul vessel of a long-dead evil paladin to stop cultists’ plan from coming to fruition.

9th Level
Force of Nature (Levels 9-11, Dungeon 190) - By Kolja Raven Liquette
A rift has formed between the natural world and the Feywild. Can civilization survive the unstoppable march of the sovereign elk? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 9–11.
 
The cultists of Bane thought they had everything under control. How wrong they were! Now their fortress has fallen from within, and a terrible force threatens to reach beyond its ancient prison to destroy the Nentir Vale. The final D&D Chaos Scar adventure for characters of levels 9–11.

Temple Between, The (Dungeon 161) - By Ari Marmell
A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. The PCs return to Overlook, having once again averted disaster in Elsir Vale and gaining a potent new ally in the process. But they return to an uneasy city, and the warm welcome they've grown used to has chilled. Now there are rumors of something strange happening with the city's temples and shrines. As the PCs investigate, they uncover another startling truth of Overlook, the real reason the city has become so important in the war, and the nature of their true enemy in the city. An adventure for 9th-level PCs.

10th Level
The Library of Highforest was once a renowned repository of knowledge. Great writings were housed on its shelves, and great scholars were enshrined in its catacombs. But generations ago, the library disappeared from written records so completely that no one knows precisely where it was or what became of it. An adventure for characters of levels 10-12.

Dark Heart of Mithrendain, The (Dungeon 157) - By Greg Marks
When the PCs stumble into the Feywild, they find themselves in the middle of Mithrendain— a glorious eladrin city of grace and beauty. But as the heroes find themselves the target of mysterious attacks, they begin to discover that something
rotten lurks in the city’s heart.

Fist of Mourning (Dungeon 162 - Scales of War AP) - By Robert J. Schwalb
A Scales of War Adventure Path adventure. This short adventure bridges the gap between the heroic and paragon tiers of play for your Scales of War campaign if your PCs aren't quite 11th level. The Cult of Exquisite Agony -- a cabal of insane devotees of the Far Realms -- has grown in power recently, spurred on by a local sect popping up almost overnight in Overlook. Now the cult is looking to expand its sphere of influence, using the recent chaos in the city as a springboard for its own agenda. An adventure for 10th-level PCs.

Rune magic is older than mankind; older even than some surviving gods. Deep in the Chaos Scar are spots where runic energy is vibrant and alive and shimmering at the edge of awareness. A creature armed with certain ancient, banned runes could wreak unimaginable havoc at those locations. An adventure for characters of levels 10-12.

Touch of Madness (Dungeon 161 - Madness Trilogy) - By Robert J. Schwalb
Updated from 3rd Edition, this adventure is the first in a three-part series. The PCs must face and eliminate a strange, aberrant threat to the town of Wellspring. A notable group of adventurers known as the Stormcrows recently set off from the city to retrieve a potent artifact of Ioun and never returned. Now bizarre monstrosities are attacking Wellspring, and the heroes must uncover the nature of the threat seemingly unleashed by the missing adventurers. An adventure for 10th-level PCs.

11th Level
Beyond the Mottled Tower (Dungeon 163 - Scales of War AP) - By Creighton Broadhurst, Bruce R. Cordell, and David Noonan
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues in issue #163! Now that the heroes have reached the paragon tier, they've earned the deserving accolades of the citizens of Overlook. But a summons from an unexpected ally sends the PCs on a cross-planar adventure to pursue a villain who has plagued them -- and all of Elsir Vale -- for some time. From the mortal realm to the Shadowfell to the Elemental Chaos, the chase is on to catch Sarshan! An adventure for 11th-level PCs.

Depths of Madness (Dungeon 162 - Madness Trilogy) - By Robert J. Schwalb
The Madness trilogy continues with "Depths of Madness." After saving the town of Wellspring, the heroes find that their efforts have not stopped the assault on the town. A new threat has emerged, seeking to capitalize on the re-emergence of the Tear of Ioun. The heroes must seize the Tear and defeat this threat, or the entire region could be swallowed by chaos. An adventure for 11th-level PCs.

12th Level
Haven of the Bitter Glass (Dungeon 164 - Scales of War AP) - By Kevin Kulp
The next installment in the Scales of War Adventure Path is here! The characters meet a new ally as a flying ship crashes outside Overlook, setting off a chain of events that takes them to the scholarly city of Sayre. There, they meet an old friend and have a chance to shape the defense of the world against the growing githyanki threat. Meanwhile, some dark force in Sayre seems responsible for guiding the githyanki's war effort. As the PCs rub shoulders with the city's elite, they must also find a way to halt the githyanki's uncanny ability to share information, even over immense distances. An adventure for 12th-level PCs.

Haunting of Kincep Mansion (Dungeon 156), The - By Skip Williams
Long rumored to be haunted by eerie specters, Kincep Mansion has stood for years, mostly untouched by nearby townsfolk. Now something is preying on the local villagers—something that comes from the house.

A peaceful glade in the forest offers the promise of a quiet night's repose on your journey, but ancient whispers will not be silenced. A site-based encounter for characters of levels 12-14.

Worse Than Death (Dungeon 164) - By Robert J. Schwalb
When a powerful merchant and aristocrat is kidnapped from his caravan, it's up to the adventurers to discover what has happened to him. But there might be more to his disappearance than the characters know. An adventure for 12th-level PCs.

13th Level
What has six sides, four dozen extradimensional rooms, and giant chicken legs? Explore Baba Yaga’s dancing hut at your own peril! A D&D adventure for characters of levels 13–15.

Brink of Madness (Dungeon 163 - Madness Trilogy) - By Robert J. Schwalb
The Madness trilogy concludes with "Brink of Madness." The heroes must set off to stop an insane cultist from tearing open a hole in reality to a world of unimaginable horror. Failure means that the entire region becomes saturated with mutating energy and creatures capable of shattering the strongest minds. Only the heroes of Wellspring can put a stop to the tortured and twisted Malachi. An adventure for 13th-level PCs.

Clash of Steel (Dungeon 172) - By Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
Barrinsgate was founded by bandit leaders who found common cause, some years ago, and discovered that lawful commerce was a more lucrative pursuit. But the remains of their gangs are still around, and now the largest has begun inexplicably disturbing the fragile peace in town. The heroes must discover who has stirred up the gangs of Barrinsgate before the city falls into chaos. This adventure features material from Draconomicon: Metallic Dragons. An adventure for 13th-level PCs.

Captain Rukos of the Zephyr thought he’d defeated the dread kraken Thalarkis. How wrong he was. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 13–15.

In the Depths of Avarice (Dungeon 157) - By Tim Hitchcock
The mine has been known as Tessount’s Folly for years, due to it producing nothing of value. Now Valmour, the youngest son of the mine’s late owner, has inherited the mine . . . and found something he should have left buried.

Monument of the Ancients (Dungeon 170) - By Brian R. James and Matt James
Barbarian attacks in the Moonsea North send panicked refugees pouring into the port city of Phlan. Something ominous and ancient drives the horse nomads to attack their neighbors. Poised to shatter the ancient monument keeping him from Faerûn, a "lost god" from Toril's past sends an agent from the Elemental Chaos to herald his long prophesized return. An adventure for 13th-level PCs.

Web of Chains (Dungeon 168) - By Owen K.C. Stephens
Slavers have come to the Kragholm region, and the former-slaveholder citizens of settlements such as Elmhollow have come to appreciate the yolk of servitude in an all-too uncomfortable manner. But the group of Underdark slave traders have larger plans in mind, and the PCs must act to stop a slave empire from rebuilding. An adventure for 13th-level PCs.

14th Level
Alliance at Nefelus (Dungeon 165 - Scales of War AP) - by Chris Tulach
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. The characters are dispatched with their deva ally Amyria to the island nation of Nefelus, home of sages and masters of the arcane. The nation is a vital potential ally in the war against the githyanki, but none of the emissaries from the defending nations have returned. As the PCs soon discover, a new enemy has blockaded the nation, and the heroes must end the blockade and help persuade Nefelus to join their cause. An adventure for 14th-level PCs.

The Etherean Heretic prowls the Astral Sea, stalking treasure hunters and merchants alike. But enough is enough; it’s time for the hunter to become the hunted. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 14–16.

Welcome to the dungeon that has killed more adventurers than all other dungeons combined. Let’s see if your D&D Next characters fare any better! This adventure is designed for D&D Next characters of levels 10–14 and includes 4th Edition conversion guidelines for characters of levels 14–16.

The lord of the stone giants has gone mad, but he’s still the best chance the heroes have of fracturing the giant alliance. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 14–16, and the second of four paragon-tier adventures based on Gary Gygax’s classic Against the Giants series.

15th Level
Garaitha's Anvil (Dungeon 167 - Scales of War AP) - By Scott Fitzgerald Gray
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. The githyanki are on their heels after suffering losses on the mortal world and in the Feywild. The PCs have the opportunity to strike a telling blow for their world as they undertake a mission of certain death at a githyanki stronghold and planar nexus. But how can a small group of adventurers possibly hope to defeat a fortress filled to the brim with angry, fighting githyanki? An adventure for 17th-level PCs.

The Demon Wastes is a blasted, haunted land infested with all manner of evil beings. Deep in its heart stands an ancient structure called the Maze of Shattered Souls. The Lords of Dust hold the place in high regard, for they believe they can learn more of the mysterious Draconic Prophecy by studying and communing with the souls trapped in this place. But places of evil attract the attention of those with good motivations, too, for a variety of reasons. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure set in Eberron for characters of level 15.

Pearl of the Sea Mother (Levels 15-17, Dungeon 204) - By John “Ross” Rossomangno
Blibdoolpoolp the Sea Mother wants to engulf the world in madness. It’s your job to slay her, but how do you kill a god? A D&D adventure for characters of levels 15–17.

Sea Reavers of the Shrouded Crags (Dungeon 158) - By Logan Bonner

A group of mysterious sea raiders—capable of appearing out of nowhere, striking, and disappearing—has terrorized a group of coastal states for some time. Now the leader of the states has asked the characters to infiltrate the raiders, find out how they operate, and put a stop to their activities. But once the heroes join the raiders, things aren't as clear as they seemed at the start. Will they succeed at their mission? Or join the raiders themselves? An adventure for 15th-level PCs.

Starhaunt (Levels 15-17, Dungeon 207) - By Craig Campbell & Christopher Perkins
The Order of the Endless Night swore an oath to protect the world against threats from beyond. Now, a sinister force has taken hold of the astronomers and infiltrated their fortress-observatory. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 15–17.
This dungeon will swallow you whole. A little chewin’, a little tenderizin’, an’ down you go. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 15–17.

Throne of the Stone-Skinned King (Dungeon 166 - Scales of War AP) - By Logan Bonner
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. The characters travel to the Feywild with the Seed of Winter, an artifact recovered from a powerful foe. There, they discover a plot among the retinue of a mad fomorian king, as more alliances to the githyanki invaders reveal themselves. An adventure for 15th-level PCs.

16th Level
Kelphin Green suffers from a life-threatening condition arising from his experiments in arcane elemental energies—elemental discorporeation—that it is slowly reducing him to dust. To save himself, Kelphin looks to retrieve the Faarlung Algorithm. A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 16th-level characters.

What are the illithids doing on the moon? You don’t want to know. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 16–18.

The giant alliance is beginning to crack! Descend into the Glacial Rift and face the cold wrath of Grugnur, the frost giant jarl. A D&D adventure for characters of levels 16–18, and the third of four paragon-tier adventures based on Gary Gygax’s classic Against the Giants series.
 
Spiral Gate, The (Dungeon 180) - By Scott Fitzgerald Gray
The separatist faction of Bedine desert tribesfolk known as the Sand Kings have long opposed the iron grip of Netheril’s restored masters, the Shadovar. Now the Sand Kings have uncovered a dangerous and far-reaching Shadovar plot … but whose side will the heroes join? A Dungeons & Dragons adventure for 16th-level characters.

17th Level
The captain of the astral ship Gleaming Undertaking is an honest man, but honesty is poor protection when you're striking a deal with a devil. Still, the arrangement seemed straightforward enough—transport some delicate merchandise from one port to another without breakage. What could go wrong? An adventure for characters of levels 17-19.
 
18th Level
Summer's End - By Bill Slavicsek
Dungeon Delve, releasing in February, 2009, features a number of delve-style adventures, familiar to those of you who have played a D&D event at a recent convention. If you're new to the delve or just want a sneak peek at what the book will hold, check out "Summer’s End," a delve adventure for characters of 18th level.

Hall of the Fire Giant King (Levels 18-20, Dungeon 200) - By Gary Gygax and Christopher Perkins
King Snurre Iron-Belly welcomes you to his mighty stronghold... a very warm welcome indeed! A D&D adventure for characters of levels 18–20, and the last of four paragon-tier adventures based on Gary Gygax’s classic Against the Giants series.

19th Level
Tyranny of Souls, A (Dungeon 168) - By Robert J. Schwalb
The paragon tier of the Scales of War Adventure Path concludes with "A Tyranny of Souls." The player characters, heroes of their world, have now all but driven the githyanki from the mortal realm. To strike a final blow to the threat posed by the invaders, they travel to the githyanki city of Tu'narath. There, they find unlikely allies, a chance to secure a lasting peace from the githyanki threat, and have a chance to finally end the menace posed by the githyanki. An adventure for 19th-level PCs.

21st Level
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues into the epic tier when the characters are visited by an enigmatic new ally who sends them on a quest to the Shadowfell to hunt down a lich working for Tiamat. But their journey first takes them to Monadhan, a Domain of Dread ruled by a powerful undead dragon dark lord. The characters must locate the entrance to the lich's lair and defeat the dark lord while dealing with a figure straight from the pages of legend who is both ally and enemy. A Scales of War adventure for 21st-level PCs.

Think twice about robbing this Underdark denizen. A D&D Map Trek adventure for characters of levels 21–23, designed for use with the Map Pack: Vaults of the Underdark accessory.
 
A wizard holds the key to great power, but only a sphinx knows what the key unlocks. An aerial D&D adventure for characters of levels 21–23.

Ziggurat Beyond Time, The (Dungeon 159) - By David Noonan

Rising from the surface of a massive lake, an ancient ziggurat travels through time for purposes unknown. It's up to the characters to enter this strange relic and discover what dark threat the structure poses. An adventure for 21st-level PCs.

22nd Level
Winter of the Witch (Dungeon 162) - By Stephen Radney-MacFarland
In this epic adventure, the Winter Witch -- a legendary archfey -- has launched a campaign to send eternal winter cascading over large portions of the world. After a summons to Winterhaven, the characters find a land locked in ice and an old ally in need of aid. A trek to find an artifact known as the Sun's Sliver ensues, the only force potent enough to defeat the Winter Witch and banish her from the mortal world once more. An adventure for 22nd-level PCs.

24th Level
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. Bahamut has fallen and the war seems lost. But a long-time ally of the PCs comes to them with an urgent request for escort to the Astral Sea! The heroes must race to Hestavar and begin a quest to return Bahamut to the world. Without him, the heroes’ home is doomed to an age of tyranny and darkness unknown in any age. But not everyone wants to see the Platinum Dragon return, and the heroes must contend with a powerful new foe. A Scales of War adventure for 24th-level PCs.

25th Level
The Sand King's Daughter (Dungeon 160) - By Ari Marmell
The brown dragon Urum-Shar lurks in a strange tomb, plotting schemes only a wyrm of incredible power could understand. Expanding on content from Draconomicon, this adventure takes the heroes into Urum-Shar's dark and trap-filled lair, where they will eventually face the powerful dragon herself. An adventure for 25th-level PCs.

The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. The brave heroes continue their quest to return Bahamut to life. But another player on the grand stage of deities and demigods reveals himself, hoping to usurp the power of the Platinum Dragon before he can be brought back. As the PCs voyage through Moradin’s forge to the very heart of creation, they must fend off this new threat, as well as deal with more agents of Tiamat and her allies. A Scales of War adventure for 25th-level PCs.

27th Level
The Scales of War Adventure Path continues. The epic-level adventurers have saved their world from the githyanki and brought a dead deity back to life. Now they face their most difficult task to date. The heroes must break the siege on Tiamat’s last stronghold—the City of Brass. With no time to spare, they must sneak into the city, find a way to throw open the gates, and allow Bahamut’s force inside before another army arrives to crush the forces of good. All that lies between the heroes and success is Tiamat’s blue exarch and the labyrinthine ways of the City’s efreet-run society. A Scales of War adventure for 27th-level characters.

28th Level
Court of the Dark Prince (Levels 28-30, Dungeon 212) - By John “Ross” Rossomangno
An angel of Kord is trapped in the palace of the demon lord Graz’zt. Descend into the Abyss, if you dare! A D&D adventure for characters of levels 28–30.

Dungeon Delves By Level

1st Level
An unknown disaster has befallen a nearby mine, and heroes are needed to find out what happened and why. A Dungeons & Dragons delve for 1st-level characters which expands on "Coppernight Hold" from Dungeon Delve.

11th Level
A troll who styles himself king has acquired an artifact that allows him to capture the souls of his defeated foes. Do your PCs dare brave his lair to defeat him and retrieve this foul device? A Dungeon Delve adventure for 11th-level PCs.

Sidetreks By Level

1st Level
Death and Taxes (Levels 1-3, Dungeon 201) - By Aeryn “Blackdirge” Rudel
A chance encounter with a tax wagon turns into a battle for survival. A D&D Side Trek adventure for characters of levels 1–3.

Shadow of Kalarel (Dungeon 155) - By Peter Schaefer
If your PCs aren’t ready for H2 after finishing Keep on the Shadowfell, or if you just haven’t had enough of Kalarel, these extra encounters can add extra depth to any H1 experience.

2nd Level
The Den of Dreus (Dungeon 179) - By Logan Bonner
The conclusion of HS1: The Slaying Stone suggests possible future adventures the heroes might undertake. This side trek lets characters of around 2nd level who completed the quest to find and destroy the slaying stone follow up by pursuing Dreus Matrand.

4th Level
Echoes of Thunderspire Labyrinth (Dungeon 156) - By Greg Bilsland
Want more H2 fun? Check out this Side Trek that expands on the action from Thunderspire Labyrinth.

7th Level
Treed! (Dungeon 171) - By Tim Eagon
An owlbear has trapped a small group of spriggans. If the PCs offer help, can they trust the spriggans to act honorably and leave in peace? A Side Trek for 7th-level PCs.

9th Level
House of Pain (Dungeon 163) - By Jennifer Clarke Wilkes
Someone or something has been grabbing eladrin from the Feywild. As the heroes pursue another quest, they have the opportunity to discover the force behind the abductions, which might lead them to more conflicts than they anticipate. This Side Trek introduces the Shadowfell and shadar-kai to your player characters, if they haven't been exposed to either before now. A Side Trek for 9th-level PCs.

11th Level
Beyond the Trollhaunt (Dungeon 160)) - By Logan Bonner
If you're looking for more from King of the Trollhaunt Warrens, check out these extra encounters. Alternatively, use any of them to spice up any adventure of a similar level or use them as presented as a self-contained Side Trek. A Side Trek for 11th-level PCs.

Hall of the Snake God (Dungeon 169) - By Robert J. Schwalb
Legends of the Serpent Wood speak of an ancient group of primitive humans who dedicated themselves to the dark god Zehir. Several of the temples they raised still stand in the wild lands, and one such place has become home to new dangers. This Side Trek makes for an excellent respite between adventures or can be used as a springboard for a larger adventure series against the forces of Zehir. A Side Trek for 11th-level PCs.

Conversions

Keep on the Shadowfell: Forgotten Realms® Conversion (Dungeon 155) - By Greg Bilsland
Itching to start your first 4th Edition Forgotten Realms campaign? Wait no further! This article not only shows you where the Keep on the Shadowfell is in the Realms, but includes alternate plot information and bonus encounters.

Keep on the Shadowfell: Eberron® Conversion (Dungeon 155) - By Stephen Radney-MacFarland
If you’re an Eberron fan, you don’t have to wait to start your new campaign. Use H1: Keep on the Shadowfell to kick off your first 4th Edition campaign now!

Forgotten Realms® Thunderspire Conversion (Dungeon 156) - By Greg Bilsland
If you’re interested in converting Thunderspire Labyrinth to your Realms campaign, look no further than this detailed advice and alternate encounters for H2.