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Thread: The evolution of adventure building. (Catacombs of the Ranger King)

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    The evolution of adventure building. (Catacombs of the Ranger King)

    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    Tamareth, you ought to post a play by play for one or more of your encounters. They give readers a much more concrete way to learn about 4e when they haven't been able to play themselves. I will do the same sometime later this week for mine.
    Maelstrom and I began this conversation on a different thread but the idea is so expansive I decided to make this one. I'm a total champion for this idea as perhaps it'll help other dungeon masters with their campaigns, as well as, spark creativity as a community (which I always support).

    Just a bit about my campaign before we begin. I started this world back in 2nd edition when I was in high school. It was never really fully fleshed out except for the major towns and the flavor (a mix between Ravenloft and Forgotten Realms). In 3rd edition I advanced the timeline and our old characters started a line of descendants. I hate to say it because though I did like 3rd edition I didn't really do much in the way of fleshing out my campaign world...so a week before 4th edition was released I began doing so.

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    Catacombs of the Ranger King part 1

    Let's start with the world shall we. The only place that's ever been fully realized is the area of the creasant mountains with form a natural barrier around the Kingdom of Darkfall. In the last post I told you that there is a long line of history about this place. As I've moved to California I know that my players have no clue about what came before. So this adventure I wanted to "seed" some original ideas, past adventures, and old faces in with my new group of players and their characters.

    (I actually like the Forgotten Realms advancing their timeline a hundred years or more...so I stole that for my own and said that it's been 400 years since the Ranger King "my old gm character" ruled this land)

    Darkfall: (Military City) Large City; Alignment: Good; 40,000 gp limit; ; Population 21,277, integrated (Elf 40%, Human 30%, Dragonborn 25%, Other 5%)

    Right at the end of 3.5 an adventure was released by Wizards called, "Tomb of the Forgotten King" I never had a chance to run it and I liked the map and some of the room concepts...so let's give it some Twilight Realm 4th Edition Splash shall we?!

    Adventure Background: Long ago the Elven Ranger King Tamerath Dranzara died in a great battle towards the twilight years of his life. His adventuring companions constructed a large catacomb as a monument of both their adventuring career together and in his honor. Through the years one by one of his fellow adventuring companions also died and requested to be buried here as well. The catacombs were sealed off and received powerful magical protection from the clerics of The Battlemaiden, Lady Alecia (whom also rose to power when she traveled beside them. If you are going to run this game or like the idea for a 4th edition campaign I'd recommend changing this goddess to Pelor or the Raven Queen. Both of these gods mix well with this current adventure).

    As a tradition the current King Aunduin Dranzara and Queen Anatessa Dranzara laid down that Darkfall fortify their position and borders by training their people to better defend themselves and their kingdom. All youths native to Darkfall must spend their 18th year in the Darkfall guard. As years passed it became a rite of passage for the last day of their 18th year be spent patrolling the Darkfall Cemetery. The commanders thought it best to ensure that every citizen know the dangers of the graveyard, their haunting nature, and what would happen if the citizens of Darkfall took the danger there too lightly.

    What the Pcs will know: Throughout time the dead occasionally rose to be cut down by the guardsmen on their last nights and anything that couldnít be handled by the guard was reported efficiently to their commanders. All until two nights ago when a party of guardsman were attacked. With most of the cities military forces staged for attack the Goblinoid Slaver City of Gemuult (never existed before now...but it's definately a seed for a later adventure) it is left to the Lordís Council to hire mercenary help. The attack is the talk of town and everyone native to Darkfall and worth their salt knows the danger the graveyard can bring if left uncheck.
    Last edited by Tamerath; 06-30-2008 at 01:30 PM.

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    Catacombs of the Ranger King part 2

    Because I'm a huge storyteller gamemaster I have a lot of flavor text in my campaigns. I'm going to skip posting those...as this post would be 9 pages long. But I will tell you a summary of what happens.

    Darkfall Encounter 1: Zombie Incursion (450XP)

    It all begins with a Halfling running for his life with a large group of undead following in his wake. He's bloodied and, even for a halfing, terrified for his life. The PCs are sitting in one of Darkfall's famous taverns The Emerald Unicorn.

    (Wizards of the Coast has a really cool java program that will generate taverns on the fly. I came across it as a fluke while making this adventure and wanted to post the text below. (after changing them a bit to suit the campaign).

    The Emerald Unicorn
    Bartender: Kierana Female tiefling, 1st-level NPC warlord
    Interesting Clientele: A good place to hear rumors of adventure, popular guardsman hangout
    Accommodations: Good (a small private room with one bed, some amenities and a covered chamber pot) for 5 sp/day
    Today's Menu:
    Breakfast: Beef steak, Soft cheese, Duck eggs, Strawberries, Coarse rye bread (cost 6sp).
    Lunch: Sausage, Quail eggs, Pumpkin, Dates (cost 8sp).
    Supper: Mixed grill, Broad beans, Chick peas, Sea oats, Fruitcake (cost 1gp).
    Snack: Curds, Apple, Rice (cost 4sp).

    ANYWAY....as the PCs sit down to relax Kierana screams as she looks outside she sees a friend of hers (could it be the halfling *gasp in anticipation*) run through the gates falling to his face. The guards rush to close the gates but the zombie horde that follows said friend-of-Kierana (yes...it's the halfling...)over take them. Enter the PCs.

    2 Zombies (lvl 2 brutes)
    8 Zombie Rotters (lvl 1 minions)

    I started this encounter with my exp budget (listed in DMG) and bought my monsters out of that for a normal encounter for a party of level 1s. Honestly this wasn't meant to be a hard fight. I wanted to give the players a cinematic experience of fighting a small horde of zombies. I will say they went down faster than I planned with a group of 5 so you may want to toughen this up a bit for your home group.

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    Catacombs of the Ranger King part 3

    After they have bested the zombie incursion they find out from Kierana and any surviving guardsman that the halfling was a part of a squad that were spending their last nights of their 18th year in the cemetary. Tripper (the halfling) is a stand up citizen that hasn't ever made it a habit of running in a fight...and for the amount of undead that passed through the gates last night...it's worth checking into.

    Kierana: Though she's the owner of the Emerald Unicorn, this tiefling barmaid is no mere flavor background npc. Kierana spent her 18th year in the Darkfall guard and she advanced through the ranks quickly. After her 18th year she stayed on in a voluntary basis helping train new recruits. The Emerald Unicorn is popular because of this reason and she still has a commanding respect from the guardsman as a skilled leader. (Kierana is a heroic classed warlord lvl 1)

    Furthermore Kierana called for a member of Darkfall's Lord's Council to come to explain the situation. The Lord (Lord Pater Deviir) comes fast...as the Pc's find out...his twin children (Karaya and Thogren) were on patrol with Tripper last night as well. Lord Pater is a tiefling as well. Kierana knows Thogren (She had a thing with him awhile back...but she's bitter over it) and Karaya (She only knows she is a spoiled noble socialite and every time they have talked it hasn't been a pleasant experience).

    Lord Pater is willing to pay the PCs 50 gold to at least go to the cemetery and check things out...but 300 if they find and return his children. (Main Quest)

    Other Quests:

    Montessa Erransea Cleric of the Raven Queen has overheard the Halfling talking in his sleep and is worried that the seals warding the Kingís tomb to be broken. She requests that a small ritual be performed to better ward the seal till more of her order can gather to seal it more securely. If the PC's accept this quest they are given some ritual components (chalk, prayers, and the like)

    Yukiri Chordiil Cleric of Pelor has also overheard the Halfling and would be interested in the Holy Symbol of Lord Alexander if they come across it. They will be paid 50 gp per party member

    Larishea of the League of Independent Arcanists seeks to buy any magic items from tomb that the party has no need for.

    Joherra Colworn of the Lords Council would be interested in any information they come across regarding the Cult of The Hallowed Heart.

    Cult of the Hallowed Heart Background: This cult moved into Darkfall only recently. It follows the teachings of The Raven Queen, though they have modified it slightly. Without giving away too much at this time it is spreading throughout the city and most of it's members are younger.

    (Please don't take this badly or negative in any way but my inspiration drew from the Grundge style from my youth (which I totally was a part of back then) or the Goth style that I see nowendays).

    The Cult has NOT done anything wrong in Darkfall. In fact many of them feel that since death is a natural part of life that they should live each day to it's full. The only reason Joherra Colworn is interested is because 1: it's began to spread even into the "noble" families. 2: She doesn't know much about it at all. and 3: She's secretly knows that Lord Deviir's twin children hung around friends of the Hallowed Heart Cultist.


    Note: In my campaign of 5 adventurers (fighter, paladin, cleric, wizard, and rogue) we covered all the roles. In the beginning the cleric was able to revive the rogue to get his perspective on the events that transpired at the cemetary.

    What happened at the cemetary: Tripper (halfling again), Arven (eladrin), Terrc (dragonborn), Thogren (tiefling), and Karaya (tiefling) were spending their last night on the guard in the cemetary (as the tradition). Nothing exciting happened throughout the day and Thogren and Karaya had just gotten back from their patrols (not uncommon as the twins always stayed close to each other throughout their service). The party had made camp and started their dinner when the ground began to shake and the dead came from the darkness dragging the twins away to a mausoleum of the Ranger King. Tripper, Terrc, and Arven followed after them cutting their way through the undead legion. They made their stand on the stairs of the mausoleum. Terrc was the first to fall and he was devoured right in front of Tripper. Arven tried to gain an advantage by fighting the undead at the door. Tripper was torn up pretty badly so he made his escape to warn Darkfall. He's ashamed that he left...but he tells the full story reguardless of it.

    The rogue through a streetwise roll (I set the DC high 25) was able to uncover that Lord Deviir's children (Karaya and Thogren) frequented Cult of the Hallowed Heart hang outs. Thogren is an aspiring paladin of the Raven Queen (not lvl 1 just yet) and plays loosly with the tenants of the faith mostly using his knowledge to try and seduce female cultists. Karaya embraced the Cult though and has even helped in ceremonies.

    An Apology: I'm sorry everyone. I know I've posted a lot now on this topic and haven't really given you the encounters (which was the entire reason for the post in the first place...) but as I said...I'm a story teller and I don't think the adventure to come will make sense if I didn't give out these details. BUT on the plus side it'll show you how I changed The Barrow of The Forgotten King adventure to suit my campaign, which I feel other Dungeon Masters will appreciate. This was a major part of the roleplaying section of my adventure to set up the feel.

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    This is very good! Keep it coming! I'm anxious to find out how the PCs fair.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tamerath View Post
    I will say they went down faster than I planned with a group of 5 so you may want to toughen this up a bit for your home group.
    Yeah, sticking to encounter level equal to players seems a bit easy so far. I think I'm going to make most encounters a couple levels above the players from here on out.
    Last edited by Maelstrom; 06-30-2008 at 02:56 PM.

    Developer for Darkage Warlord, a Pen & Paper Games exclusive Medieval Wargame.

    If you are in the DC metro area and like to trade D&D minis (1.0 or 2.0), please send me a PM!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maelstrom View Post
    Yeah, sticking to encounter level equal to players seems a bit easy so far. I think I'm going to make most encounters a couple levels above the players from here on out.
    Agreed! For the rest of the "dungeon" I'm going to have to step it up a bit. Lol Especially with a paladin AND cleric in the party

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