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Author Topic: [D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls  (Read 1445 times)

Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls
« on: August 22, 2008, 08:51:48 am »
I meant to post actual play reports from GenCon: but I changed my plans somewhat.

This post contains spoilers for East-1 (These Hallowed Halls). If you don't want to read spoilers, backup and go read something else.

In the meantime, some background on why I chose this adventure:

I DM'd something like 35 hours at GenCon, and there were only three slots that I missed out on.. so I took that opportunity to go play some as well. LFR was completely sold out throughout the con, but if you were lucky you could manage to get tickets back from people who had moved up in the Championship or got caught up in the delve, or simply overslept or changed their plans. So I wandered down to the ticket booth and had them check through the events about 10 minutes before the slot began.

"is RPGA0011 open?" no
"is RPGA0021 open?" no...
"is RPGA0031 open?" nope...
"is RPGA0041 open?" two tickets just came back in!

So I bought a ticket, swung by the DDI demo, built a character real quick (*under 5 minutes!) and zipped back to the marshalling spot. And I got to play.

..And unfortunately, I got into a game with a kinda crappy DM. He couldn't pronounce anything, sort of just mumble-read boxed text, sort of ignored the skill challenges (he seemed totally unprepared for them), and basically did an extremely poor job with the adventure. I tried to talk to him about it later, and noted his name. We definitely have a DM-skill problem in RPGA, but I like to think this guy was the exception and not the rule. Anyhow, we can't afford to pull any dead weight right now. So the adventure was kinda blah, but we (6 players) had fun anyway, of a sort, roleplaying amongst ourselves.

When I got back home, I had planned on running some LFR at the local place, and I had been talking to a bunch of new players.. so I got the idea to run that same adventure, to sort of redeem it, and to also find out just what the heck was going on with it that our mumbly-DM couldn't explain.

Long story short: This is a great adventure, that was nearly ruined by a sucky DM. I'm glad I got to run it, and redeem it.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 09:17:59 am by Abyssal Maw »
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls
« Reply #1 on: August 22, 2008, 09:17:22 am »
Ok, so here's the adventure party:

Ariana- Eladrin Wizard- played by Brandie. Her first timeplaying D&D or ANY OTHER RPG EVER.

Angus- human warlock - played by Mark

Geleth - Drow Rogue - played by Trevor

Saischa - Elf Cleric - played by Nina. Her first time playing 4e.

Aelthas - Elf Ranger - played by Matt

I met them all online, we were playing at a public place, a game store here in Maryland. I also had the Forgotten Realms Campaign guide (which I want to tal kabout somewhere else), but the first thing we did was take the map out of the back, unfold it, and show where the adventure was.

Seriously, Spoilers begin below:

This takes place in the Eastern Rift, (once known as the "Great Rift"- until the Spellplague collapsed about half of the Underdark) -- a huge collapsed area of the Underdark, ruled by the Gold Dwarves. It specifically starts in the city of Delzimmer, which is on the coast. The description of the city is great- it's a massive sprawling place, built vertically, so that half of the city is underground, in layers. And the character start out at the Glittering Xorn tavern. There, they receive word that the Crafty Kobold Salvage Company is hiring adventurers for a high-paying expedition into the Underdark to recover something.

(Almost ALL of these details were lost on us at GenCon)

So we did a bit of roleplaying in the tavern, getting to know one another. Nina and Trevor were actually a married couple, but none of the other players knew each other. So this was a good opportunity to get acquainted. We went around the table and let people introduce their characters, then had the dwarf recruiter come by looking for adventurers, and giving out crudely printed leaflets inviting players to Crafty Kobold Salvage.

They headed to the warehouse district of Delzimmer, down to Crafty Kobold Salvage where they meet the proprieter, Divhon Boltsmelter. Divhon gives them a hearty welcome, and after some exchanged greetings brings them into his office. Once the doors are closed, he becomes a lot more serious.

As it turns out, Divhon had come into possession of a map to an old elemental-binding temple-forge in a particularly dangerous area of the Underdark that Crafty Kobold Salvage had been excavating. Other evidence pointed to this temple being the location of an important book- the Elementus Principatus. Priests of Moradin had expressed high interest in recovering this book and Divhon hoped to go after it. Unfortunately, before he could properly outfit an expedition, his son took a small group of 6 dwarves and set out after it.. and then disappeared.

So what Divhon really wanted.. was someone to go looking for his son. The players did some back and forth here (especially Angus), and they managed to get a dwarven guide assigned for the expedition into the rift, and they negotiated free supplies for the trip down- mining equipment, ropes, rations, etc. Saischa did a bit of research into the Principatus Elementus, and Ariana did some research into the temple forge itself- which she determined was actually dedicated to Dumathoin, an Exarch of Moradin. More importantly, she determined that the place was likely guarded by wards, constructs, and traps.

They also picked up descriptions of the son, Tamur. He was carrying a particular silver warhammer, with an inscription from his mother.

They set off into the Rift.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2008, 10:17:42 am by Abyssal Maw »
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls
« Reply #2 on: August 22, 2008, 09:30:13 am »
Down, down into the rift.

The trip involved a day of travel overland (not in the version at GenCon, unless our crap DM mumbled it), and then a slow descent down a winding path that spiraled around the edge of the rift, just a short distance from the sheer drop into the void.

I described it a bit like making your way down to the bottom of the Grand Canyon, except that when you hit bottom.. you keep going into the darkness, and underneath into the caves themselves.

The travel took nearly a week, and we did a bit on each day with little improvised events, including passing through a bat-filled cavern, cutting through a section of abandoned mines, and across a series of majestic natural bridges arching over glittering mineral-filled caverns. The ranger tried a bit of hunting and foraging on each day (difficult but not impossible, I had them discover a mushroom filled cavern at one point). I also led up to the first skill challenge by describing distant rumbles that would take place every once in a while. So we did a little short scene on every day of travel.

They got to know their dwarven guide, "Red" on the trip. I think it was fortunate that the players demand a guide because it gave me a roleplaying vehicle I wouldn't otherwise have had.

And then we led up to the skill challenge- a massive tremblor occurs, and the cavern they are in collapses, and sadly, this is where I had to get rid of Red-- he yells "run for it!" and takes off down the passage.. The party follows, and then Red is killed by a collapsing ceiling. Viva DM Fiat.

So we did the Skill Challenge. See next post.
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Abyssal Maw

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[D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2008, 10:12:27 am »
Skill Challenge:

The party is trapped in a collapsed section of cavern, around 20' by 50'.. the way back is completely blocked, but the way ahead look partially blocked, and there is an area not much bigger than a crawl-space that breaks off into an adjoining mining tunnel. The Guide is dead, but they still have his map.

How did we do it? I wanted everyone to participate in the challenge so I determined that we would go around the table clockwise. I set a ground rule that no skill could be attempted more than twice. This would require 6 successes or 4 failures.

At this point, we improvised little bits.

Geleth the Drow used his darkvision, and his perception to explore down the crawlspace. He was successful so I had him find some timbers from a collapsed section of mine that could be pulled out and used to widen the passage a bit.

Angus used dungeoneering to pull some rocks out and shore up a small section of tunnel. I then told them they had found their way down into an mining area. The tunnel led down a level of caverns and got them complete turned around.

Aelthas used Insight to re-orient the group back onto the right passage- they were going off the map, but had a general sense of where they were supposed to be going.

Saischa used her Perception to search one area of the mines and discovered some old dwarven excavation kegs. (Explosives!) and led them back to the main passage that was still partially collapsed.

Ariana used her dungeoneering to set the explosives, and touched them off with a cantrip. Unfortunately she failed and got caught in the backblast, which (we took away a healing surge for slight injury here). But the blast did excavate the tunnel.

There were some other little scenes. Ariana redeemed her failed roll with the explosives later on by using her Arcana skill to detect elelemntal vibrations when they reached a series of caverns that honeycombed the mines, and put them back on the track, and I think the final skill challenge was Saischa using religion to activate a dwarven ward dedicated to Dumathoin that pointed the way to the forge.


So this went pretty well. I've seen a number of differnt ways to run skill challenges, but I liked going around the table and letting everyone have a crack at it.

Ok, more later.
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[D&D LFR] These Hallowed Halls
« Reply #4 on: August 22, 2008, 11:11:10 am »
At this point, what we have is sort of a site-based adventure. The "dungeon" as it were, is Lodestone Deep, an elemental temple-forge dedicated to Dumathoin.

There are around 8 rooms. I didn't like the format the adventure used which had the main map at the end, and basicly just showed the encounters as if they had to be played in order. In point of fact, they did *not* have to be played in order, other than the first one (which is in the room you use to enter the dungeon itself. But I quickly adapted, and we drew out the passageway in.

It ended in a massive stone sliding door, sealed with an obliterated dwarven defense ward and formerly locked (but the lock was broken). This last bit was embellishment on my part, but I wanted to foreshadow some things for later, namely that they were not alone in reaching the temple.

I improvised certain details, since the players decided to search for clues on the way in. One thing they discovered was a handful of iron spikes stamped with the Krafty Kobold logo, and a crumbing, ancient drow crossbow quarrel snapped in the corner, as well as a few scattered orc bones in the area. The door itself was not locked, but I described a broken lockpick nearby, and let the players speculate that Tamur and his group (or someone else..) had arrived before them, broken in, and not left yet.

So the players activated the sliding door, and made their way in: the main forge area had veins of magma running all through it, as well as an elemental lava-font in the back, an altar, and various places where jets of flame would periodically blast the area.

They cautiously entered and the portal slid shut behind them. From across the room, the group saw a pile of charred bodies, but before they could make their way in to investigate- creatures of living flame rose up from the lava font and the firepit in the center of the room. A fire-bat, a pair of magma claws, and a pair of magma hurlers.

I'm not sure if these monsters exist in the Monster Manual- I know the firebat does. This turned out to be a very tough encounter.. The magma hurlers especially were very weak, but had the luxury of sitting waaay back at the eback of the room and throwing balls of flame. The firebat was up close and swooping around the room shrieking.

During the battle, they ran out of healing magic, Geleth was knocked out and had to be revived by Saischa. Ariana was nearly knocked out at one point and ended up drawing her longsword (which she carries for mostly sentimental reasons, being an eladrin wizard).

Ariana found herself especially chagrinned that she had prepared scorching burst, burning hands and flaming sphere against a group of fire creatures. She had Cloud of Daggers up, though, and used that to fairly good effect.

But they displayed some very good tactics and concentrated their attacks on one or two adversaries at a time.
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