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Thread: The First 4th Edition adventure path has begun

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    The First 4th Edition adventure path has begun

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    Rescue at Rivenroar has been posted thus kicking off WotC's first D&D 4th ed adventure path. An ambitious project, for the next seventeen months we are slated to receive a new adventure each month taking players from 1st to 30th level. The path, entitled 'Scales of War', is a sequel to the amazing 'Red Hand of Doom' 3.5, taking place in the Elsir Vale detailed first in that adventure.

    So how does this first adventure do? Beware ... there are some minor spoilers which follow.

    I knew it wasn't a good sign when James Jacobs (one of the original authors of 'Red Hand of Doom') posted that he had nothing to do with this AP. That's kind of like discovering that there is new Indiana Jones movie coming out and George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have nothing to do with it. Still, David Noonan has written some good stuff. Heck, he wrote 'Zenith Trajectory' for the first AP back when Dungeon was still printed on dead tree.

    Still, I have to say, this adventure is disappointing. First and foremost, it is incredibly cliched. This isn't just well worn ground ... it's trampled into dust. You start at a tavern -- 'The Thistle and Antler' and a bar fight breaks out with some hobgoblins. Really. Tavern and bar fight. That's the opening scene for this adventure path. Could there possibly be a more cliched beginning to a D&D campaign?

    After the dust settles, you learn that the bar fight was part of a raid and eventually this leads to a dungeon crawl to rescue a few prisoners taken by the raiders. The dungeon, allegedly catacombs of a castle, looks like something created by a random dungeon generator. It's populated with standard dungeon monsters (save for some gnomes who really are monsters) such as more hobgoblins, goblins, undead and so forth.

    The monsters wait patiently in their rooms guarding prisoners ready to be slaughtered by our heroes. The adventure gives no thought or word count to how the monster might respond if they find some of their fellows slaughtered. Of course since they organize no patrols, its difficult to imagine how they would ever find out.

    Eventually, you kill all the monsters on both of the levels, find all the prisoners and everything is grand once more. You do find an ominous letter though hinting that SOMETHING else ... something evil ... might be behind this incredibly inept raid.

    Roll credits.

    Immediately I am left with questions. What was the hobgoblins' plan? Did the prisoners serve some use? Were they to be ransomed? For what? From who? To what end? Why are gnomes, ettercaps, undead and such cooperating with these goblinoid kidnappers?No answers are given. What we are left with is an empty shell of an adventure that needs real work to put some meat on these bones.

    Since this is an adventure path opener, it is difficult not to compare this to other AP starters. This holds up very poorly. Savage Tide opens with the atmospheric, genuinely spooky 'There is No Honor' set in a pirate port with cut throats, zombies, and a night time raid on a smuggler's ship -- brilliant! Age of Worms has 'The Whispering Cairn' a great and exciting example of what a well thought out dungeon crawl can really do. Even Shackled City, the very first we-were-still-learning AP, has 'Life's Bazaar' a story also about kidnapped hostages but so much more powerfully and compellingly done.

    And don't even get me started about Paizo's two adventure paths. 'Burnt Offerings' (Rise of the Runelords AP) and 'Edge of Anarchy' (Curse of the Crimson Throne AP) -- these adventures are completely out of this one's league.

    Do I have anything good to say about this adventure? Yes. It's free. And it does have some potentially tactically interesting fights. And unlike 'Keep on the Shadowfell' they did bother to give the villian a motivation. They just didn't bother to give him a plan.

    So, to summarize. The longest of the adventure paths has begun. And WotC has proven once more that they are terrible (mostly) at writing adventures.

    Gary

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    Wow, I am still tryign to find a good reveiw of this adventure. I am pretty sure it was Dave Newnen who wrote this but i could be wrong. I have alwase found his stuff a little unimaginative but still. I looked it over and will admit that as a stand alone adventure it had soem ideas that a GM could add too but if its part of a path then i would say BLUH. If your looking for an adventure path then Paizo is the way to go.

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    Wait a sec..

    If you re-read the adventures background and the synopsis you'll find that the goblinoids have struc a bagin with the undead in the catacombs. A sort of mutual defense pact. The Red hand gets to occupy the upper levels of the ruins with thier gnome allies in exchange for delivering take out (ie. the prisoners). I agree that the adventure is somewhat unimaginative. However, there are enough details to allow you to adapt the premise, and locations to your style of gaming. I personally would have the party involved in an impromptu defence of the town to start the campaign. Perhaps having the PC's encounter the Hobgoblin infiltrators as a distraction, and then upon learning the true goal of the raid have them race to the other end of town only to find out that the Red Hand has pulled off a daring raid... but that's my take on it. My point is to steal liberally and modify for your needs. Let WOTC do the hard work of mathing out the monster levels and treasure. Then your clear to rearrange to your liking!

    Draw your sword and kick in the door, it's time to play D&D!
    Cheers!

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
    Let WOTC do the hard work of mathing out the monster levels and treasure. Then your clear to rearrange to your liking!
    um, "mathing out the monster levels and treasure" takes about two seconds in 4e, it's one of the draws for the 4e fans.

    the imagination stuff is what the dm with little time needs, actually, and if WotC can't deliver on that front, the adventure is a failure...
    "well, g'night! dont let the flesh eating demon bed babies bite!!"
    facebook.com/houstonderek

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    Quote Originally Posted by agoraderek View Post
    um, "mathing out the monster levels and treasure" takes about two seconds in 4e, it's one of the draws for the 4e fans.

    the imagination stuff is what the dm with little time needs, actually, and if WotC can't deliver on that front, the adventure is a failure...

    Okay, it's a failure. I agree. Experienced DMs don't need to bother with it. For new DMs its at least an example on how to throw together an adventure.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JamieH View Post
    Okay, it's a failure. I agree. Experienced DMs don't need to bother with it. For new DMs its at least an example on how to throw together an adventure.
    don't get me wrong, i think 4e is a good game for new players, its very accessible and the rules are easy to learn. but, having seen what paizo can do with an adventure path, WotC's efforts seem amateurish by comparison...
    "well, g'night! dont let the flesh eating demon bed babies bite!!"
    facebook.com/houstonderek

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    WARNING: SPOILERS FOLLOW

    I'm not really trying to argue that there isn't a story in this adventure. It's just an incredibly cliched story that is full of holes. The story is roughly, "Evil bad guys take prisoners in their raid and hold them (mostly) unharmed till our heroes rescue them."

    Only seven prisoners were abducted from Brindol. But the question is why?

    Saying that the hobgoblin plan is to kidnap prisoners to hand them over to the undead isn't an answer. That just changes the question to ... "Okay, so what are the undead going to do with them?" If they were just hungry (as the module alludes to), why didn't they eat them in the days it takes the party to arrive? Instead, the undead have harmed none of the prisoners and are also holding them. Why? What are they waiting for? Are they savoring their fear or something? The adventure provides no answer.

    By the way, mostly the hobgoblins have not handed prisoners over to the undead. Mostly they have handed prisoners over to gnomes, who are also holding the prisoners without harming them (besides scaring them) for ... unclear reasons.

    The break down of the prisoners:
    Three prisoners are held by the gnomes.
    The hobgoblins still have one prisoner.
    One prisoner is caged inside a magic circle after she threatened the hobgoblins.
    One prisoner has been handed over to the undead -- the child is guarded by two Int 1 zombies and two INT 6 ghouls who have managed to avoid eating him for days!
    And the ettercaps have the corpse of the only dead prisoner who they killed when he tried to escape their clutches.

    If I order take out, I eat the food I order. The undead aren't eating anyone. In fact, they are patiently guarding their only prisoner as well.

    They are waiting for ... what?

    The emissary? In his letter the emissary says (to paraphrase), "I don't want them. Hand them over to the wight."

    The aforementioned wight meanwhile is patiently sitting on his throne, less than a 150 feet away from a tied up child (there is not even a door between them!) refusing to eat the prisoner.

    Why did the bad guys take prisoners? The world may never know.

    My theory: the hobgoblins ASSUMED that undead like to eat children. It turns out they don't but the undead are just too polite to point this out.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    My theory: the hobgoblins ASSUMED that undead like to eat children. It turns out they don't but the undead are just too polite to point this out.
    Everyone knows vampires won't enter a house uninvited, but nobody knows that wights can't commit a social faux pas, and that ghouls and zombies are dedicated sportsmen who throw young prey back and wait until it's bigger.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Everyone knows vampires won't enter a house uninvited, but nobody knows that wights can't commit a social faux pas, and that ghouls and zombies are dedicated sportsmen who throw young prey back and wait until it's bigger.
    Somebody failed their Religion check(DC 15). Vampires don't need permission to enter houses.

    I think it was standard villain over-confidence. 1 boy isn't enough to feed that many undead but they knew someone was bound to come looking for him so they just waited all patient like. Of course how they knew whoever came was sure to get past all the other monsters is beyond my reckoning.
    Normal people worry me.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Igbutton View Post
    Somebody failed their Religion check(DC 15). Vampires don't need permission to enter houses.
    Sorry, I made an Knowledge (Religion) roll by mistake.

    Or did I roll Computer Use instead? I can't remember.
    "On two occasions I have been asked [by members of Parliament], 'Pray, Mr. Babbage, if you put into the machine wrong figures, will the right answers come out?' I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a question."
    - Charles Babbage (1791 - 1871)

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    Arch Lich Thoth-Amon is offline Cursed by the Gods
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    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    Rescue at Rivenroar has been posted thus kicking off WotC's first D&D 4th ed adventure path. An ambitious project, for the next seventeen months we are slated to receive a new adventure each month taking players from 1st to 30th level. The path, entitled 'Scales of War', is a sequel to the amazing 'Red Hand of Doom' 3.5, taking place in the Elsir Vale detailed first in that adventure.

    So how does this first adventure do? Beware ... there are some minor spoilers which follow.

    I knew it wasn't a good sign when James Jacobs (one of the original authors of 'Red Hand of Doom') posted that he had nothing to do with this AP. That's kind of like discovering that there is new Indiana Jones movie coming out and George Lucas, Steven Spielberg and Harrison Ford have nothing to do with it. Still, David Noonan has written some good stuff. Heck, he wrote 'Zenith Trajectory' for the first AP back when Dungeon was still printed on dead tree.

    Still, I have to say, this adventure is disappointing. First and foremost, it is incredibly cliched. This isn't just well worn ground ... it's trampled into dust. You start at a tavern -- 'The Thistle and Antler' and a bar fight breaks out with some hobgoblins. Really. Tavern and bar fight. That's the opening scene for this adventure path. Could there possibly be a more cliched beginning to a D&D campaign?

    After the dust settles, you learn that the bar fight was part of a raid and eventually this leads to a dungeon crawl to rescue a few prisoners taken by the raiders. The dungeon, allegedly catacombs of a castle, looks like something created by a random dungeon generator. It's populated with standard dungeon monsters (save for some gnomes who really are monsters) such as more hobgoblins, goblins, undead and so forth.

    The monsters wait patiently in their rooms guarding prisoners ready to be slaughtered by our heroes. The adventure gives no thought or word count to how the monster might respond if they find some of their fellows slaughtered. Of course since they organize no patrols, its difficult to imagine how they would ever find out.

    Eventually, you kill all the monsters on both of the levels, find all the prisoners and everything is grand once more. You do find an ominous letter though hinting that SOMETHING else ... something evil ... might be behind this incredibly inept raid.

    Roll credits.

    Immediately I am left with questions. What was the hobgoblins' plan? Did the prisoners serve some use? Were they to be ransomed? For what? From who? To what end? Why are gnomes, ettercaps, undead and such cooperating with these goblinoid kidnappers?No answers are given. What we are left with is an empty shell of an adventure that needs real work to put some meat on these bones.

    Since this is an adventure path opener, it is difficult not to compare this to other AP starters. This holds up very poorly. Savage Tide opens with the atmospheric, genuinely spooky 'There is No Honor' set in a pirate port with cut throats, zombies, and a night time raid on a smuggler's ship -- brilliant! Age of Worms has 'The Whispering Cairn' a great and exciting example of what a well thought out dungeon crawl can really do. Even Shackled City, the very first we-were-still-learning AP, has 'Life's Bazaar' a story also about kidnapped hostages but so much more powerfully and compellingly done.

    And don't even get me started about Paizo's two adventure paths. 'Burnt Offerings' (Rise of the Runelords AP) and 'Edge of Anarchy' (Curse of the Crimson Throne AP) -- these adventures are completely out of this one's league.

    Do I have anything good to say about this adventure? Yes. It's free. And it does have some potentially tactically interesting fights. And unlike 'Keep on the Shadowfell' they did bother to give the villian a motivation. They just didn't bother to give him a plan.

    So, to summarize. The longest of the adventure paths has begun. And WotC has proven once more that they are terrible (mostly) at writing adventures.

    Gary
    Hope the experience gets better over time.

    Thoth-Amon

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    Quote Originally Posted by Thoth-Amon View Post
    Hope the experience gets better over time.
    Thoth-Amon
    You know, me too. I really wanted to like this AP. I love love LOVE "Red Hand of Doom". It is the best WotC-produced module of the 3.x era. It is delightfully cinematic, keeps the PCs at the center of the action and climaxes in a battle scene straight out of Lord of the Rings. Written by James Jacobs and Rich Baker, it is a great example of what the art of adventure creation can accomplish. (Wow -- you can buy this adventure for five bucks including shipping at Amazon.com! What a bargain!)

    So when they announced a sequel and not just one sequel but eighteen, I was jazzed. I was waiting for it -- hungry for it! I had fan boy fever. And they give me this.

    It's disappointing. I was handed a cliched opener tied to a flavorless dungeon crawl with promises that this will eventually go somewhere cool. I suppose, since this was a free product, I shouldn't be surprised they rushed it. But you know what? I would rather have paid for something well crafted and conceived.

    Gary

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    Quote Originally Posted by fmitchell View Post
    Sorry, I made an Knowledge (Religion) roll by mistake.

    Or did I roll Computer Use instead? I can't remember.
    I believe you actually made a Craft (Satire) check.

    Gary

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    [quote=gdmcbride;38399]I believe you actually made a Craft (Satire) check.

    Wouldn't that be a:

    Perform (Satire)

    ?

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    [quote=michaeljearley;38702]
    Quote Originally Posted by gdmcbride View Post
    I believe you actually made a Craft (Satire) check.

    Wouldn't that be a:

    Perform (Satire)

    ?
    nah, it would be a SKILL CHALLENGE. this IS a thread about a 4e AP after all...
    "well, g'night! dont let the flesh eating demon bed babies bite!!"
    facebook.com/houstonderek

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