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Hilariously suboptimal party faces WOTC module

 
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Tue May 26, 2009 10:35 pm    Post subject: Hilariously suboptimal party faces WOTC module Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So, I'm running a timekilling module in another DM's campaign while we wait for the DM to finish finals. My Spherelock is going to be doing paperwork back in town while the only other currently available player runs his PC and a group of 3 NPC recruits.

Here's the base module: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/oa/20001001a

I've already modified the background to fit the setting. The fort is on the border of two nations (one mostly human magocracy, one collective of civilized orcs, goblinoids, etc.) that recently allied to wage war against the elves. It was abandoned, having lost any immediate use. Since the war is still going (reducing the garrisons even more than they were after the alliance), bandits are taking the opportunity to raid border towns.

The most troubling bunch have taken over this stronghold. Once they fortify the site and attract additional warriors, they will be very difficult to oust. There's an old dwarven mine in the mountains nearby, and the mage who leads the bandits is coming dangerously close to an alliance with the monsters who caused the mine to be abandoned in the first place.

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Here's the problem. The party is as follows (all standard classes in a game where Tome material is allowed):
- Level 3 Worg Rogue (PC). May have finally been browbeaten into accepting a magical item that gives him a telekinetic hand that can lift 5 pounds, making him almost as versatile as a centaur.
- Level 5 Monk who fights with +1 Nunchaku and 6 +2 speed shuriken.
- Level 5 Fighter in chainmail. Battles with greataxe and repeating heavy crossbow. Feats: Endurance, Exotic Weapon Proficiency (Crossbow (Repeating Heavy), Point Blank Shot, Far Shot, Weapon Focus (Crossbow (Repeating Heavy).
- Level 5 Soulknife with 14 in every stat. Wears +1 leather armor.

Each NPC has 3 level 2 potions, one of which must be a healing potion.

I didn't want the NPCs to be more powerful than the PC. I also wanted their magical items to be below the standards quality level in case they died and ended up being looted. This turned out to be a mistake, I think.

Perhaps I should increase the party size? I was originally thinking of building the orcs as Warrior 2s with 10 HP each, giving the trolls some useful gear, and making the leader into a Dread Necromancer with more minions, but that would probably result in TPK against this group. Then again, perhaps that would be a good thing.

I have let the PC scout the area alone, so he knows about the fact that there are two trolls, at least 20 orcs, and a winter wolf. The winter wolf is a prospective ally.
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IGTN
Knight-Baron


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 12:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Taking the module backward, I don't think they're likely to run into too much trouble

The end boss's mooks should be trivial, although I noticed that the party doesn't have any anti-area characters, which might make it more difficult. The end boss himself has three spells worth mentioning prepped:
Desecrate, significant because he's supposed to cast this first. If the PCs manage to sneak up on him at all, this cuts off a round of actions from him.
Summon Monster III
Hold Person, which is a save or die that the PC is immune to.
Bestow Curse, which might also be useful, maybe, once.

So, you're looking at probable tactics where he casts Summon 3 on the first round and Hold Person on the second, then starts meleeing (un-buffed) with his axe, or shooting with his wand. His greataxe does an average of 10 damage at +8 to hit. His wand does an average of 7 damage. His armor class is pitiful, especially if the party has any means of making touch attacks.

The winter wolf isn't really a fight even in the module as written, and it's a potential ally here. With the winter wolf, the zombies become even less of a problem (since they can be killed with frost breath), and the skeletons can be mauled (bites count as all damage types).

The trolls could be a bit of a threat, especially if they don't have the winter wolf yet. However, since they'll bring fire and acid, they should be able to put them down. The fire resist ring could make things tricky, but the PCs will have the numbers advantage.

This leaves the orcs. A properly stealthy infiltration should allow the PCs to skip them, or to be able to fight them one tower at a time, which is a victory. A less stealthy attack might lead to fighting all the orcs at once.

Basically, as long as your player manages to not fight the entire keep at once, the enemies are suboptimal enough that the party being weak shouldn't be a threat.

Does the party have a cure wounds wand and wand user?
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Thanks for the tactical breakdown, particularly for the mage. I hadn't looked at him in detail yet.

Yes, the party has a healing wand. Cure Light Wounds with 48 charges, and the PC has UMD. The group is going back into town, so I'm going to give them the opportunity to grab a wagon with 60 flasks of discounted alchemist's fire.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The two trolls are going to be brutal, especially since it's right up front at the start. All the characters have to get up in your face to do enough damage to make trolls care, and all the characters have the kinds of shitty ACs that cause them to explode when a Troll gets a full attack rend combo off. I don't really know how they'd get through that one without losing people.

-Frank
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 3:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Good point. I'm expecting at least one NPC to die to the trolls if the group doesn't lure them out of the buildings first and fight from range. The troll with the chain shirt will throw spears from range at first, but the fire-resistant one is going to close in with a bastard sword from the treasure I generated for it.

I can see several ways the party could effectively take on the trolls. The first is to hide someplace the trolls can't fit. The tunnel through tower 3 won't work, but they could find a cave or something. The party could also use tanglefoot bags to slow the trolls down (I should probably add 10 to that bunch of discount alchemicals. Maybe 5 bags of caltrops too.) or climb up to where the trolls can't reach before having the monk lure them in.

After 3 or rounds of grinding away at each other with projectiles, the trolls will retreat to the mines (assuming the party didn't glue them to the ground), where the undead will probably be alerted. This will result in a wave of skeletons and zombies armed with more javelins, but those should be reasonably easy to handle with firebombs, particularly since they won't be proficient with weapons.

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Now, if the trolls succeed in retreating or the party fights them in the buildings, the situation looks quite bad. Fortunately, the slaves in the same area can be modified into allies if the adventure difficulty needs to decrease. They'll turn into a DMG2 mob + a couple Tome warriors and adepts. This should turn things around enough to either win the fight or drive the immediate enemies away. I think I'll probably need to boost the forces in the mine if this happens, though.
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FrankTrollman
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 6:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Fire Resistance is pretty much completely pointless on the 3e Troll. Their Regeneration applies to any damage from non-fire exactly the same no matter how much fire damage is on them. Once they are down, they can be kept down with an axe long enough to take their shit or drown them in a bucket of water. Either way, not super important.

Putting a chain shirt on a troll is fucking brutal though. Are you sure your party can meaningfully hurt that beast?

-Frank
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IGTN
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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The way I'm reading the map, the north side is the end of the adventure, so the trolls only come up near the beginning if the alarm is raised. The adventure isn't entirely clear as to which way the party comes in from, though. I would expect (from the map) them to come in from the south on the path, but there's a suggestion that they come from the west. I suppose, since it's in the open, it doesn't really matter, as they can circle around and attack from whatever direction they want.

I didn't look over the trolls' stats too carefully, and dismissed them too quickly. The tanglefoot bags are a good idea. So's magically enhanced acid of some kind (with bonus damage). If everyone just uses that, then the trolls' regeneration is meaningless, as is much of their armor class. Of course, pulling them into the courtyard means that the PCs will have to fight both at once, but that's better than fighting them in their buildings.
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

FrankTrollman wrote:
Putting a chain shirt on a troll is fucking brutal though. Are you sure your party can meaningfully hurt that beast?


We're looking at an AC of 21-22. The Fighter has +9 to hit with his crossbow within 180 feet, so it's less than a 50% hit chance. The Soulknife is worse, and will only really be good for Rapid Shot with firebombs at +5 to hit each (+6 within 30 feet) against touch AC. The Monk is only good with shuriken at very close range, so he's going to be trying against touch AC as well, though he's got a better hit chance.

I am struck with an amusing thought. The trolls will actually become arguably more dangerous at range if one gets killed and the other loots its magic item. The only significant sources of damage will be small enough for it negate around half simply with its regeneration on average, and there's only one stack of Large masterwork throwing spears. If the troll finds cover or takes periodic breaks to find new things to throw, the odds get even worse.

I hope the party uses their tanglefoot bags intelligently.


Last edited by Avoraciopoctules on Wed May 27, 2009 7:49 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Wed May 27, 2009 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

IGTN wrote:
The way I'm reading the map, the north side is the end of the adventure, so the trolls only come up near the beginning if the alarm is raised. The adventure isn't entirely clear as to which way the party comes in from, though. I would expect (from the map) them to come in from the south on the path, but there's a suggestion that they come from the west. I suppose, since it's in the open, it doesn't really matter, as they can circle around and attack from whatever direction they want.


Yes. The trolls begin in the buildings with the slaves, though they could be out and about doing things if the fort isn't at rest. The sheer cliffs make the ramp leading up from the south the only route that doesn't involve lots of climbing. Since the group leader is a big wolf, that doesn't seem too likely.

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I've made the offer of alchemicals now. It's copied in the quote below. Thanks to IGTN for the suggestion of making some boosted acid flasks available.

Quote:
Ribcage's team returns to town after scouting out Brightstone Keep. They search for inflammables, and find an alchemist willing to give them a discount on a cart of weapons if they pledge to use the weapons against the bandits. The cart contains the following:

20 pints oil
10 pounds of small scrap iron shards
20 alchemically treated fuses

40 alchemist's fire flasks
10 tanglefoot bags
4 enhanced acid bombs (2d6 damage, 1d6 splash, deal 1d4 damage every round afterward for 5 rounds)

20 crossbow bolts capable of storing alchemical substances in hollow heads
2 light crossbows

20 tindertwigs
5 smokesticks

1 dose of unlabeled injury poison

The cart, its contents, and a casting of Mount to carry it to the keep will collectively go for 500 GP. After minor contributions from the rest of the party, the purchase would consume the entirety of this adventure's budget.
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Lago PARANOIA
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 02, 2009 11:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

So? How did the damn session go? Don't leave us in suspense here.
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Mr. Bane
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 03, 2009 7:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Jesus, reading this...So cool. I've never actually had a meaningful D&D session ever Sad
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 12:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Just finished the adventure yesterday. I made the orc grunts into level 2 warriors with 10 hit points and better gear, the orc sergeants into level 3 fighters with ToB maneuvers, and gave the trolls the gear I mentioned above. The leader got remade into a dread necromancer.

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The worg led the rest of his group in a charge forward up the ramp after daybreak, using the cart and summoned horse as cover from the javelins. They made their way to the base of the nearest tower, preventing the orcs from throwing any more spears unless they leaned over on the top floor. The party lobbed a few firebombs up at the windows, including one crude frag grenade made with an oil flask, scrap iron, and a fuse.

Once they heard more orcs moving up on top of the tower, they ducked forward into the tunnel under it and into the interior courtyard, barely avoiding a shower of boiling water that came down where they were standing seconds before as the orc's cook poured the contents of his breakfast cauldron off the parapet.

Inside here was the winter wolf who tried to blast Ribcage with her breath weapon when he scouted the area before. She offered to help them if they picked the lock on her chain. Rasheed (the soulknife, and the only one who packed lockpicks) moved forward to deal with that. The monk and fighter prepared to hold off the enemies from the second tower as they moved into the courtyard.

Dashing forwards, Ribcage (the worg) arrived at the door into the tower. This was a fairly significant obstacle, since he lacked opposable thumbs and would have to use his amulet to open it. An orc opened the door before he could do much, and Ribcage decided to charge in and forward, getting in a sneak attack that resulted in the first enemy casualty. However, this put him in the unenviable position of being mostly surrounded by melee-specialist warriors, and his mithral barding was the main thing that kept him from being thoroughly perforated by the time he lunged back out.

During this time, orc warriors bearing either short swords and wooden shields or spears long enough to stab from the second rank poured out of the other towers. Ghundir (the fighter) and the monk held one group at bay, and the winter wolf killed all of the other group with her breath weapon just as Rasheed finished detaching her from the chain connected to the well. However, she needed time to recharge and there were plenty of orcs remaining in the towers. She bolted away as the rest of the party moved closer together, preparing to fight back to back. The trolls each burst from one of the two buildings holding slaves, providing enough of a show of force to convince the party to retreat towards the gate in the wall near the the mine entrance.

Kicking open the doors after removing the locking beam, they beheld a column of at least 50 zombies shambling out of mine, threatening to block their escape routes in mere moments. The party moved as fast as it could, running to the right and just barely avoiding being surrounded as they broke free and moved out, staying close to the walls to avoid projectiles from above.

Some of the zombies and orc soldiers pursued, the trolls leading and taking several opportunities to strike Ghundir (who moved slowly because of his armor) from behind, but other warriors moved through the tunnel and blocked off the way to the ramp, near where the cart had been left. When the party came around, they were almost completely trapped. Ribcage and the monk (named Wadi, by the way) stood and fought the trolls as Ghundir drank a healing potion and Rasheed grabbed some firebombs and other items from the cart.

Ribcage managed to miraculously dodge a full attack from the troll with the sword, but the monk wasn't as lucky. Bleeding from several cuts already, he was impaled from multiple sides by spear-wielding orcs right before the second troll tore him in half with its claws. At this, Ghundir screamed and fled, throwing himself off the cliff and falling to the rocks below. Fortunately, he had the hit points to survive it after drinking his healing potion. Rasheed threw most of his firebombs at the sword-wielding troll, but it merely laughed as its ruby ring glowed brightly and absorbed the heat. The enemy moved to finish them off.

Commanding the horse to follow, the two remaining party members ran to the west, moving into the only remaining space open to them. Concocting a desperate scheme in moments, Rasheed dropped a firebomb against the carts side, setting it ablaze. He cried out in dismay and Ribcage told him to leave it and let the orcs have it. They continued forward, and the forces following them slowed a bit to see what loot the cart contained. Boom. Around 10 orcs died in the blast, with several more wounded. Taking advantage of the momentary distraction, Rasheed tied his rope first around one of boulders dotting the plateau, then around him and Ribcage. They rappelled down the cliff just as the zombies arrived, several spilling off the edge as they mindlessly pursued before the orcs yelled for a halt.

Rasheed and Ribcage found Ghundir, then retreated back and away from the fort. They limped back to town and rested for a day, taking advantage of some free healing and gathering a bit of additional information on the inhabitants of Brightstone Keep (most in the town believed that they were probably a unit of deserters from the war against the elves. ) before resolving to return with a bunch of clubs and arm the slaves to help fight.

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That was the first session. The second one ended the adventure, and I should have a write-up for it up within a few hours.


Last edited by Avoraciopoctules on Fri Jun 05, 2009 1:27 am; edited 4 times in total
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 05, 2009 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Then again, maybe not. Some delays, but I will have the second session up before too long. The write-up is started, but not finished yet. This time, I'm backing it up every half hour.
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 09, 2009 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Arg. Primary and secondary computers broken. Borrowing a friend's computer for a few minutes. Will not be online in the immediate future.
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


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PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

Back momentarily, using a library computer. Here. Will post something else if I get the time.

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Alright, second session. This happened right after we finished a short CthulhuTech session (which I seem to running as much more comical than I initially planned. References to Five O'clock Shadow of the Colossi and Yog-Sothoth's Instant Muffins abound.). Two players jumped in and took over NPCs midway through the game, having spent the time prior just listening and providing commentary and advice.

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Returning to Brightstone Keep, the party of 3 (the monk is dead) gathers some clubs to give to the slaves (in the buildings in the fort the trolls sleep in) on the way through some forested terrain. They plan to move in at night and have Rasheed climb over the walls. Once over, he will sneak into the holding areas, free the slaves, and arm them, which will hopefully even the odds.

The orcs have been busy while the party was away. Plans are made to tighten up defenses, and a barricade is constructed to block the way up using the ramp. Several Alarm spells are placed to the east and west of the fort to alert the inhabitants if the party tries a more roundabout approach. The orcs decide to avoid getting any more live warriors killed if at all possible. All the dead are animated, and many of the zombies are given armor and spears if they can use them at all decently.

Seeing some of this as they arrive, the party resolves to have Ribcage create a distraction while Rasheed climbs up the cliff face and Ghundir takes a long climb that will end up with him situated on the cliff overlooking the fort in a bit under an hour. There he can snipe or offer other support if the fight is still going on (it has become fairly apparent at this point that Ghundir wants to avoid dangerous fighting if at all possible.).

Ribcage bombards the fortifications with smokesticks, thunderstones, and other alchemicals. He also theorizes that the zombies might follow any instructions in Orc, so he starts yelling commands to dismantle the barricade. This does nothing, since the orcs at the top of the road are mostly deaf now and the zombies only obey officers. Ghundir is out of play for the time being. Rasheed reaches the top of the cliff, just inside the perimeter of magical alarm wards. He begins to quietly scale the wall, having avoided detection so far.

This is where the plan starts to fall apart. Apparently completely forgetting his job, Ribcage decides to charge up the road into the fort. He manages an implausibly high jump and makes it over the wooden barricade and through the cloud of smoke with minimal problems. However, he now sees that the tunnel into the fort is now filled in with small boulders rolled into it from outside. Zombies close in, but he dashes through them with minimal problems. His spiky mithral barding (which he spent almost all his character wealth on) has protected him very well so far.

Circling the fort, Ribcage draws the attention of yet more zombies. By the time he reaches the back and discovers that yes, the doors are closed and locked, there are too many for him to count coming at him from all directions, and more still are marching out of the mine entrance. Being a large dog, there is very little he can do to get over the walls. He runs another 90 degrees around the fort, taking several solid hits on the way, and the situation looks rather grim. Suddenly, he has an idea! He’ll dig under the wall and into the fort. Provided the foundation doesn’t go down too far, nothing could possibly go wrong!

Our hero proceeds to move earth aside with his forepaws as fast as he can, soon discovering that there is no foundation under the walls and that he can dig through in only a couple of rounds. However, this approach is obvious enough to draw the attention of all the soldiers inside the compound, including one of the trolls. Reacting to this knowledge quickly, Ribcage dashes across the courtyard into the nearest building with an open door that doesn’t have enemy warriors coming out of it. This is one of the two structures used to hold slaves. It has two entrances, one of which was left open by the troll now chasing Ribcage in.

As Ribcage enters, he takes in the situation, yells “Don’t worry, I’ll come back and free you!”, and flees through the other door moments before the orcs get to it. He runs toward the other building, hearing the screams of the slaves behind him as the orcs, alarmed by his words, quickly and efficiently butcher their captives… On the plus side, they’re slowed down. He also notes orcs opening the fort’s main doors to let zombies in.

Ribcage opens the door of the second building (this the one with only a single entrance)… and sees Rasheed, 2/3s of the way through freeing the slaves after messily hacking up the second troll in its sleep and tasking some of the slaves with beating it with clubs while he picked the locks on their chains. Seeing that Ribcage has now alerted the enemy to their location, he curses the worg’s foolishness and yells at the others to prepare themselves for attack.

The situation is less dire than it seems at first. Since the defenders are using the door as a choke point, enemy zombies can only come one or two at a time. Though they have DR 5/piercing, making the clubs almost useless, a minor mage (tome Adept with the ability to use ostensibly skill-check-based but actually arbitrarium “ritual magic”) was one of the first freed, and he strikes the walking corpses with conjured jolts of lightning. There are enough zombies to tire out the defenders, but they have some time for now, which will allow them to better prepare. Rasheed tasks a few with using his last vial of enhanced acid to weaken the wall in the back, and to prepare to smash their way through on his signal. He also throws a flask of fire over the troll’s body in the hopes of permanently disposing of it. And loots its Large magic chain shirt. Just because.

After the first few zombies are defeated, the orcs order them back a ways so they can consider alternative tactics. Ribcage inexplicably decides to charge back outside, leaping and biting at the nearest enemy once he clears the doorway. He injures it, but is immediately dragged into the swarm, dozens of zombies piling atop him. He fights for a bit, but is obviously in a terrible situation. The zombies are battering him from all sides and tearing at the leather straps holding his armor together. In a last resort, he crushes one of his last firebombs, setting them all off. Due to the compression of bodies and flammability of the zombies, this actually has a fairly impressive effect, setting everyone at the center of the grapple ablaze. The orcs order the non-flaming zombies off to avoid spreading fire and turn their attention to pursuing the mob of freed slaves as it escapes through the hole it makes in the wall and charges into the mine. The troll gives a howl of fury as it sees what happened to its mate and leads the pursuit, running ahead of the zombies.

Barely alive, Ribcage wriggles out of the four or five burnt corpses covering him and for some reason decides to sneak into the mine after the troll before the orcs send the zombies in after it. He soon hears their shuffling footsteps immediately behind him, along with the shouts of the officers commanding them from much further back. Fortunately, the zombies are not currently under orders to attack him. Unfortunately, he is in their way.

Meanwhile, Rasheed is rallying the freed slaves forward. Once he hears the troll approaching, he has an epiphany, realizing just how useless his psychic power to have a shortsword is. In burst of I-was-recently-converted-into-a-PC cognitive brilliance, he gains a level (bringing him to the same effective level as Ribcage), choosing to become a psion and retrain one of his soulknife levels into the new class as well. Fortified by this sudden infusion of thoroughly generic psionic powers, he manifests Grease. The troll is slowed, and the freed slaves that are not running take this opportunity to pelt him with the last of the party’s inflammable projectiles (barring the Rasheed’s new ability to shoot lasers from his eyes). The troll simply laughs the attacks off, its ring of fire resistance glowing brightly.

As the zombies catch up, Ribcage is caught between them and the troll and trampled to incapacitation. The first few zombies slip and fall, but the orcs see this and yell at them to slide across, negating much of the tactical advantage. Rasheed and the others proceed to withdraw slowly, buying time for the others and striking down the zombies with tossed soulknives and lightning blasts. Suddenly, a roar of triumph goes up from the slaves that advanced further in. It seems that they have rather anticlimactically killed the “Master” the orcs and trolls spoke of with such fear when Ribcage listened in on their conversations while scouting. Apparently, he was easily dealt with using basic swarm tactics. At this, the orcs yell something muffled to the troll and both retreat, leaving the zombies easy prey for the approach.

After finishing off the remainder of the undead, the party and surviving slaves gather in the workshop they found the bandit leader in. It is a cold, spartan place set up where the entrance tunnel widens into a small room, with tools for alchemy and corpsecrafting of good quality, but not much else. There aren’t even any chairs next to the tables. There are a couple of locked chests, but these are opened without much difficulty, and mostly contain unexceptional magical items, money, and records. Worryingly, they note that fresh magical wards seem to be cut into all the tunnels leading away from this room. The mage studies them for a bit, declaring them to be temporary wards that require a new infusion of magical power every few days to stay functional. Redundant tripwires attached to bells are also set up.

The group sets about reading the diary and healing injuries with the few potions they possess, and also send scouts to check on the entrance. These return with the news that the orcs and troll have blocked the way out using more local stones and boulders. Ribcage’s body is recovered. Nobody seems to feel strongly one way or the other about whether they should try healing him, so they flip a coin. The result is positive, and some more time is spent updating each other with information on what has happened so far and slinging insults.

Though the necromancer’s diary only covered the last few months, it still had fairly useful information. It indicated that considerable necromantic energy permeates the area, most likely a result of the many bodiless spirits that inhabit the mine. Many of these would try to steal bodies from him, possessing them and running deeper into the mine. He had discovered how to pervert this process and bind them into his zombies using a special spell that forced them to obey him, creating intelligent zombies of much greater power that were only somewhat disloyal, though these properties faded over time if the zombies left the mine. He was also harvesting the pain and despair of the slaves to power something he only referred to as “the big spell”.

Reading further, the group found that the necromancer noted increasing disloyalty among his orcs and trolls, particularly after they started capturing and enslaving travelers so he could send them to explore the mine, which was apparently much larger and considerably more dangerous than the norm. It was only fear of his power and potential to put horrible curses on them that kept them from deserting him for the time being. By his jargon, before this group left the army, he had been their commanding officer.

It was at this point that the party realizes that the mine is feeling increasingly foreboding. The sound of rocks tapping together echoes down from the warded air, and muffled distorted voices faintly echo out of the walls. Barely visible wisps of glowing mist flit through the rocks in the tunnels beyond the wards, and one such mass comes to a halt just beyond the wards, floating in place. After a bit of discussion, the mage decides to risk a closer investigation. He steps over the wards and tripwires and reaches forward towards the amorphous spirit. It floats toward him, extends a tendril into his hand and draws a small amount of his life force (1d6 damage) into itself. It immediately brightens and expands into a vaguely humanoid shape. It refrains from engaging in further soul-sucking shenanigans, instead gesturing toward the dead bodies piled next to the corpsecrafting tools.

The party obligingly drags a body out, and the spirit possesses it. The animated corpse tries to speak, but has insufficient motor control. After being given paper and a pen, however, it is considerably more informative. It jots down a brief summary of its knowledge in a very clumsy but readable hand. The mine broke into networks of natural caves in several places, and some of them contained Very Bad Things. One of these dwelled in a cavern filled with glowing natural crystals. It ripped out people's souls, partially devoured them, and then sometimes replaced them with others, turning its luckier victims into incorporeal undead. The nicest (and also weakest) of these dwelled near the entrance. They did this since sunlight quickly weakened and killed their kind. This meant that most of the others left them alone. Corpses were valuable because these could be possessed and used to physically interact with the environment. They also protected the spirit inside from sunlight enough that they could walk around outside during the day for short periods of time.

The party thanks the spirit and begins a heavy planning session. However they are interrupted when one of their scouts announces that the rocks blocking the entrance are being moved. The group moves to ready themselves for a defensive battle, but no sooner does a small opening appear than Ghundir shouts through the other side, announcing that he has arranged a tentative truce. Now that they don't have the threat of the necromancer's wrath hanging over their heads, the orcs and trolls are very interested in amnesty, particularly if they don't have to go back to the war with the elves. It seems that the troll Rasheed downed still lives, so its mate is no longer obligated to pursue vengeance.

Ghundir has explained the party's backing and goals. Since they are poised to take official, legitimate control of Brightstone Keep, the adventuring company could use some private soldiers. The surviving orcs and trolls want employment that is more morally and socially acceptable, but less dangerous. Everybody wins, including the freed slaves if they consider that they come out of the deal with their lives and get to go back home. This deal is eventually accepted, though some are more reluctant than others. The former bandits join the adventuring company as retainers and the entire group returns to the town they started at in triumph.

The next week or so is skimmed over, and the adventuring company now has a manned stronghold, several adventuring parties (enough to run multiple adventures simultaneously), and a steady supply of minor sidequests fighting bandits. It also has a massive dungeon crawl complex conveniently located about 20 feet away (the only downside is that the first few levels are almost all going to have incorporeal undead on the random encounter list). Modified module complete.
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Avoraciopoctules
Overlord


Joined: 21 Oct 2008
Posts: 8491
Location: Oakland, CA

PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2009 11:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote Add User to Ignore List

The "Mage" Adept became a PC partway through. I threw together a Sphere and feat so he could retain similar abilities once he was converted to Spherelock. The upper-end abilities are blank for now. I welcome feedback on these or the module writeup above.

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For Spherelocks.

Versatile Eldritch Blast[Metamagic]

You were an Adept. Now you actually have a name and a significant role in the story, but you remember the lessons taught by your years as a mook.
This is a Metamagic feat that scales to the highest-level spell you can cast.

This feat may only be taken by characters with the Eldritch Blast class feature.

Benefit: Your eldritch blast is more adaptable than normal. Instead of just fire, pick 2 of the energy types below. You may use either of these as the base energy type for your damage.
• Negative Energy
• Fire
• Electricity
• Acid
• Cold
• Force

1: You can manipulate the flight of your eldritch blasts after you fire them. If you spend a swift action, you have full control over the way your energy bolts fly so long as you can see them. This allows you to shoot around corners and through areas filled with trees, though an attack roll is required to fit a bolt through a tight space and you are shooting blind once a bolt curves around a corner.

3: If you sacrifice half your damage dice for an eldritch blast, it causes a dangerous side effect on those who fail a save (DC = 10 + 1/2 Character Level + CHA mod) against the blast and take at least one point of damage. The effects are based on what kind of energy is being used:

• Negative Energy: Targets who fail their save are frightened for one round.
• Fire: Targets who fail their save are on fire until they are put out.
• Electricity: Targets who fail their save are stunned for one round.
• Acid: Targets who fail their save will take damage again next turn (save for half), and will continue to take damage every round until they make a save or they are washed off with alcohol.
• Cold: Targets who fail their save are slowed for 10 rounds.
• Force: Targets who fail their save are pushed back a number of 5’ squares equal to the bonus damage dice you gave up to apply the status effect, minus one square for every size category the target is larger than Medium.

6: You may divide an eldritch blast into a number of smaller projectiles (up to half your character level per eldritch blast) that use the same targeting rules as a Magic Missile spell, though an attack roll is still required for each as normal. The damage of the blast is divided evenly among the smaller projectiles, but if the blast's damage was halved beforehand to add a status effect, each projectile will force a separate save against the effect if it deals damage.

9: ___

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New Sphere: Aegis

Special: You radiate an aura of protection out to 10 feet. All allies in this aura receive a resistance bonus to saves OR a deflection bonus to AC equal to character level / 3, rounding up.
Special Bonus: If you upgrade this Sphere to Advanced access, your aura of protection grants a resistance bonus to saves AND a deflection bonus to AC.
Special Bonus: If you upgrade this Sphere to Expert access, your aura of protection goes out to Short range instead of 10 feet.

1 Mage Armor
3 Resist Energy
5 Protection From Energy
7 Stoneskin
9 Extended Globe of Invulnerability, Lesser
11 [placeholder]
13 Spell Turning
15 [placeholder]
17 [placeholder]
19 [placeholder]
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