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Author Topic: [D&D LFR] Slivers of Earlann  (Read 1641 times)

Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] Slivers of Earlann
« on: August 28, 2008, 09:55:31 am »
This post contains spoilers for LURU-1 (Slivers of Earlann). If you don't want to read spoilers, backup and go read something else. Despite the actual play report I am posting here, I don't plan on revealing any big secrets.

...

Why I chose this adventure: Again, slightly related to GenCon: I had intended to run the Special at Gencon, which is kind of a privilege to run, and I had worked up to it over a few years (running Xendrik Expeditions especially). I am especially concerned with doing a good job on the big adventures. So I signed up for that, and was approved to run that.. twice.

That's a double slot adventure, and I was doing 7 slots. So that's 4 filled out of 7. To fill up the remainder, I picked the adventure that seemed to fit easiest into my schedule, which turned out to be this Luruar one.

And then after Gencon, I still had the adventure and I had a lot of familiarity with it. My oldest kid (age 10) wanted to play, and I had a group of 5 other players as well, so thats a full group. My son wanted to play a ranger (he had based the character on his AD&D1e character) so I helped him build one and even printed out the little power cards that he would use. By the end of it he had no problem with some of the more tactical options of D&D4e, such as "I mark this guy is my quarry..I am closest, so I get Prime Shot, and I roll twin strike.."

So that was pretty cool.

So the players began to arrive and I had to laugh at the almost entirely all-ranger party that arrived. Yes, 4 out of 6 players in the party were rangers (does anyone remember the old AD&D1e restriction about no more than two rangers working together?)  with the other two characters being a warlock and a wizard.

Here's the lineup:

Marthos (player, age 11): Human Wizard
Angus: human warlock
Aerolonas: Half-elf Ranger
Rhiana: Dragonborn ranger
Validor(?) (I think I got the name right..): human ranger
Taran(? again I am forgetting the name..): elf ranger

Note that this kind of party would be suicidal under D&D3+-- no healing anywhere to be seen.

(to be continued)
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] Slivers of Earlann
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2008, 10:29:19 am »
So as the adventure began, the group had made it to Silverymoon, waay up in the northeast corner of the map. Silverymoon is a town of learning, filled with Eladrin, but also somewhat cosmpolitan.  There are three universities in town, and a bustling harbor business. Various tombs and such are scattered throughout the region as well as in the Nether Mountains.  

The adventure doesn't provide much subtext for things so I embellished a bit. This worked out quite well. I'll go into where I embellished things:

The adventure starts out with the player group being packed into an alehouse called the Son of the Goat. There's a lot of merriment and celebration going on, and the players are kinda stuffed into a booth somewhere where they meet a morose warrior known as Halaskar. Halaskar needs to explain that his own adventuring party was ambushed, and he is the last survivor.. and offers to pay the party to help recover the bodies.

The adventure itself recommends a few "illusionist" (lol) techniques to try and encourage the group to talk to Halaskar, including if they refuse to engage him, he stumbles outside and gets jumped, and they can either rescue him or he comes back in and begs for help. Consequently it ALSO suggest that Halaskar is reluctant to talk. I saw right away there was a better way to fly this thing.

So, how I ran it:

Knowing Silverymoon (it's a college town!), and having the general idea of being stuck together during a party, and needing to get Halaskar on stage immediately, I set it up so that another adventuring party- a rival group was buying free drinks for all as the adventure opens.

This let me intro the tavernkeeper quickly "Hay new adventurers! Welcome! That group over there by the good tables is treating everyone to a free round of drinks after their big score bringing back another tomb-find for the university!"

So I got the tavernkeeper up and running really quickly. Then we went around the table and had people introduce their characters. And at the end I introduce Halaskar, who is grumpy but drinks all the free alcohol he can get.

Then Halaskar starts grumbling about the other adventure group getting all the breaks, and as soon as the players engage (which was quickly) he starts to tell his story about his own group getting ambushed during a tomb expedition for one of the sages in town. As he gets more angry, he curses his employer (the sage Yatagan), eventually tears off the copper pin which identifies his group ("Fellowship of the Shining Spear") and slams it on the table, along with the crumped map. He declares an end to all adventuring and staggers out.

My son immediately took the pin and put it on just in case it was magical (no way). he's kind of a goof that way, but this became important later.

After some discussion and examination of the crumpled map, the group agreed to visit Yatagan in town and try and pick up on Halaskars old contract. In the module, as written, it is Halaskar that begs the group to take up the contract, but I have never had to do this.Once the players have the map, and see how much gold the rival adventurer group is spending, they usually just go where the fun is. They also did some quick shopping in town.

The Yatagan scene is not in the module, and not every party opted to visit him, but this group did, and I ran it the same every time.

This section was completely improvised but I highly recommend it:

The party visits Yatagan, who is disappointed to hear that the Fellowship of the Shining Spear is no more. He explains that he is in a competition with other sages to build a great exhibition of an ancient short-lived elven kingdom that once existed in the area called "Earlann". He is specifically interested in the armor of an important elven warrior princess known as Tarnruth. He has a wooden mannequin already mocked up wearing a golden-haired wig, and various other details.

He makes it very clear (this is important for later) that this exhibition will go on display at the university (in a museum hall) and his main motivation is showing up the other sages.

He offers to pay the party what is left of the Shining Spear's half-up-front fee (what is listed in the module is what Halaskar was willing to pay, but I shifted the gold to Yatagan). He also opens up a big tome in his office and goes into explaining who Tarnruth is, and showing off a partially completed map of the borders of Earlann before the spell-plague, and before the High Forest overgrew it's boundaries. He makes it clear that he is also interested in someday "completing his map".

This is also important for later.

So the group roleplays with the sage for a while, and then goes back into town to do shopping, and then makes plans for the journey out to the tombs. The module lists a 10 day walk, but every single time I ran this, with no prompting, the party simply looked at the map and said "Can we hire a boat to go down the river here?-- then we will trek our way into the forest" and I let them do it every time. I also chop the travel time in half for going by boat and give them a free skill success on the "journey" part of the skill challenge. It's hard to get lost on the river.

(to be continued)
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] Slivers of Earlann
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2008, 10:58:46 am »
So the next part- The Trek Through The Forest!-- is meant to be a skill challenge, but the penalties for failure of the skill challenge are unclear. I have seen a similar one in the Special: whereas if the skill challenge is failed, the players arrive after a rival adventure group and so have to deal with a more difficult encounter. But this one was a bit unclear.

I improvised that - depending on the skill involved, they might lose healing surges for failed rolls. So for example, a character used Athletics to climb a tree to get a better view of the forest and find a stream that would help guide their group:

He failed the roll, I said "you fall out of the tree.. you aren't injured badly, but you have a noticeable limp for the rest of the adventure.. and you are down one healing surge.."

The players improvised a number of skill checks and nailed down the rest of the encounter. The only other skill failure was one of the characters used his Endurance skill to forage for food: he failed the check, and I had him bring back berries that were slightly poisonous- enough to make the group sick, (and suck away another healing surge).

Near the end of the 3-day journey (the first 2 days were by boat), they move onto discovery of orcish tracks (Halaskar's party had been ambushed by orcs) and finally, a gigantic stone-tree ... the tomb of  Tarnruth, disguised to look like part of the forest.  They also come upon a lone orc filling several waterskins at the stream.

The party devised a quick thinking ambush and nailed the orc who attempted to run for the tomb (where his group was laired). Of the 4 times I have run this adventure, this was the first group that managed to bring down the orc before he could warn the others.

They assessed the information (the orc was filling SIX waterskins, and was battle-bruised), then rounded the corner to see no less than 20 dead orcs piled unceremoniously by the door of the tomb, as well as evidence of a battle. Halaskar had told the truth about the battle that took place here.

The party hunkered down and planned their entrance.

(to be continued)
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] Slivers of Earlann
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2008, 08:30:59 am »
Ok, so into the elven tomb they went.. and in this case, they waited outside, listening until they heard the sounds of torture- an orc speaking rough common was threatening the *other* sole survivor of the Fellowship of the Shining Spear- a dwarven rogue named Joylin.

"Open the door or you will end up like your friends!"

And then screams...

The players decided immediately not to waste any time. They burst in, clattered down the stairs to see a group of orcs torturing the dwarven rogue who had survived the assault. He had refused to open the door into the rest of the tomb, and they were in the process of torturing him. Included in the group were the few remaining members of the orcish band, including their spiritual leader, an Eye of Gruumsh called Vahlrahr. I improvised the detail of him wearing a necklace made from the pins of the other members of the Felowship of the Shining Spear. When he saw Aerolonas wearing the 6th pin, he concentrated his attacks on him "So, you brought back reinforcements!"

So that was fun.

Battle took place. The rangers in the group were split between double-weapon style rangers and the bow-wielders, and the wizard was able to concentrate on bringing down several orc minions at once. Mixed in the group were several orc raiders (fighter types). The real tough villain, of course, was the Eye of Gruumsh, who used his Swift Arm of Destruction and Chaos Hammer to pretty good effect.

In the end, the players made swift work of them, with only one knockdown, but several characters bloodied.

They freed the dwarf and healed him, and he explained that he had been revivied and kept alive to try and get through the door.

Now- in the real mod, the door into the deeper tomb is not trapped, but it is a puzzle. I added details of a trap to account for why they would bother keeping the rogue alive, and described several injured/killed orcs that had tried to force the door open to no avail. My plan was- if players failed at the puzzle, I would assign penalties of healing surges.

I won't go into the puzzle, but it has to do with a constellation and stars, and no player yet has had much trouble with it. I usually get just past describing the details of the puzzle when someone suggests the solution.

The players talked with Joylin and he offers to prepare the bodies of his comrades for return to Silverymoon, but was too weak to faccompany them into the tomb. The players agreed and went on their way deeper into the tomb.
(to be continued)
Download Secret Santicore! (10MB). I painted the cover :)