Monday, October 20, 2008

Rorni's Creek Play (Part 1)

So we finished up characters and started the adventure.

From memory, the party consistes of the following:
  • Dragonborn Paladin, cha/wis/con, sword and board
  • Dragonborn Fighter, str/dex/wis focus, sword and board, with a focus on OA and knockbacks
  • Elf Ranger, bow using, dex/wis, rogue multiclass feat
  • Elf Cleric, wis/dex, ranger multiclass feat
  • Half Elf Warlock, fey pact
I don't remember their names.

We borrowed from Spirit of the Centrury/Fate's character creation process and Pathfinder Society's raison d'etre (transplanted into Alia) to fill in the back-story of these freshly created level 10 characters. 'Twas fun. I'm not sure how much real depth that it's added, but if they want they have a framework that should work as a decent skeleton to develop their characters and their back-stories.

We started play off with a bit of narration, explaining how their contacts all referred them to the Thanes of Drunduin and jumped right into the action.

Encounter 1: Orc/Ogre/Dire Boar combat

I allowed for a skill challenge of Perception or Nature(DC 25) for the PC's to be aware of the Orc band following them. The party succeeded and decided to set up an ambush. They successfully surprised the Orc's as they traveled up the path toward the entrance of Rorni's Creek and the gate.

The combat was fairly straight-forward with the usual delays as the players tried out their new powers and got used to the way things worked. The Orc Chieftain proved to be very tough, if not very dangerous after all his companions were killed. It took nearly ten rounds for the players to defeat the initial encounter.

The double defender/double striker/single leader party is actually fairly well balanced. The fighter and paladin can fairly effectively control critical targets in combat and are proving to be very tough, and they each have a per-encounter use of their breath weapon, which should be a great help in killing and dealing with minions. The ranger/ cleric ranger and warlock are all quite comfortable in a second rank behind the defenders and the fey warlock is really enjoying his mobility. The fey pact is turning out to have a quite different play style from the infernal pact play style of Voden, even though the fundamentals are very similar.

Anyway the characters move on to opening the door after the combat was concluded, The ritual of opening succeeded and the vision of the closing was sprung on the players, who reacted with a sense of satisfaction and a hope that the sealed door will lead to many well preserved and long lost treasures and secrets.

Encounter 2: Trapped Room and Kloin

I brought out the ghost of Kloin after the party had set off one trap and were taking their time clearing the dust away, trying to see if there were more.

The Ranger and the Cleric/Ranger who both have excellent perception checks, noticed the faint amorphous blob of the ghost. Further perception checks also allowed them to hear a faint whispering in a foreign tongue (old dwarvish). The warlock actually knows dwarvish, so a bit of laborious sounding out of words, allowed them to translate one important word that Kloin is saying, "posses". When the warlock tries to converse in dwarvish with the spirit, he felt a "chilling" presence". The +2 versus willpower wasn't nearly enough to actually possess the warlock. A successful religion check by the Paladin revealed to the group that old spirits like this often cling to the earth because of a need to accomplish a task in the world of the living, but this particular spirit is too weak to much effect on the material world. The party decides that the spirit is in fact trying to posses one of them. After a few clumsy attempts at communication, the warlock agrees to allow himself to be possessed.

The possessed Warlock/Kloin briefly recounted his companions' ambush during their rest and the desperation that overcame the outpost after months of being sealed in. He reiterated his wish to discover what became of the outpost and to discover why this betrayal happened. And with that Klon faded to the back of the warlocks mind.

The party continued deeper into the outpost exploring the living and crafting quarters of the old outpost. Everything through those areas was covered with a thick layer of undisturbed dust. Several of the Thanes of Drunduin's valued objects were found, a few traps were avoided, leading the party eventually to the doors into the fungus farm.

The session ended with the adventurers opening the doors, seeing the foulspawn and the grell and the unfortunate the elven slave being "dealt with". The PC's are about to attack the aberrations. The encounter 3 combat will continue next session (in two weeks) .

Level 10 characters have a good deal more complexity than level 1 characters do. After one combat encounter, I feel that the players have a good grasp of their at-will powers and just a basic appreciation for their encounter powers. Hopefully the upcoming battle will allow the players to explore their characters a bit more fully.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Halls of Rorni's Creek

This is an adventure for 5 level 10 characters that will be run as a one-shot adventure as a adjunct/break from Thunderspire Labyrinth. My players have just finished the Chamber of Eyes in Thunderspire Labyrinth and have discovered the connection between the Grimmerzhul Dwarves and the Bloodreavers. Since they've expressed an interest at trying out different classes and also trying out play at a higher level, this adventure should both allow my players to play something different, while also fleshing out the ongoing story.

I've taken the 5-room dungeon template and put together the following short adventure. Characters are being created this week and we should be playing it this weekend. Since at least a little bit of time will need to be taken at the beginning to solidify the PC's it will probably take two 3-to-4-hour sessions to complete.


Rorni's Creek was a Dwarven outpost in the northern Krondhiem kingdom that was lost during Krondhiem's battle with the invading Giants. The dwarven thanes of Drunduin have hired a band of explorers to locate the outpost and re-open the gates to the fortress, exploring all within. Part of the party's contract lists some important dwarven relics believed to be in the ruins. Any treasures found that are not on the list may be claimed by the explorers.

Basic Layout of the Outpost

The outpost is built into a south facing granite cliff along a fault line in northern Estvald. There is a large magically sealed entrace door blocking the outpost off from the world. Beyond the entrance, is a large hall 20x100 feet filled with traps and the ghost of one of the dwarven high priests. Beyond the entrance hall with the traps, the main hall continues straight into the mountain. Off the main hall are side passages into the living and working quarters of the dwarves that called the outpost their home. There are 40 dwarven apartments each containing 1-5 sleeping quarters as well as a large common dining hall and kitchen, a well room and a large cavern filled with various workshops and stores of many materials from a large selection of stone blocks to piles of bones and what must have been hides and wood that has long since rotten away. There are also several empty bins. Small scrap of various ores may be found in the bins, but otherwise they are empty. Beyond the living and work areas, the main hall opens into an underground river and an large cavern filled with many varieties of large mushrooms. The straight path of the hall is a bridge over the river and a clear path through the giant fungus. Beyond the agricultural area, the main hall continues past several side passages following veins of metal and mining equipment. At the end of the main hall, behind two more large double doors is a large forge powered by a flow of lava. Beyond the forge is a hidden tunnel leading into a huge, bottomless chasm, with a stairway along the side leading down into the underdark.

  • entrance: orcs/ogre
  • hall: traps/spirit
  • farm: abberations
  • forge: (in operation) undead dwarves
  • cavern: Druegar and devils

Story elements:
  • Entrance: vision
  • Hall: spirit
  • Rooms: journal of master digger Uthuok
  • Forge: speech my the master smith Brill
  • Cavern: Druegar link & Underdark map

Room One: Entrance And Guardian

To the north, is a solid wall of granite with a large obviously dwarven stone pair of doors. The doors glow with silvery magical runes that are still keeping the outpost warded from the outside. A Religion check (dc 20) reveals an underlying theme of the works of Umos, the elemental pantheon's god of earth, death, agriculture and building.

  • The entrance requires "Ritual of Opening" scroll provided by the thanes.
  • Complication: A group of Orcs have been tracking the the party through the mountain trails in Estvald, they catch up to the party soon after they stop to examine the sealed door.

Level 9 Encounter
  • 1 Orc chieftain (level 8 elite brute)
  • 5 Orc warriors (level 9 minion)
  • 1 Dire boar (level 6 brute)
  • 2 Ogre skirmishers (level 8 skirmisher)

Room Two: Puzzle and Roleplaying Challenge

When the PC's enter the mountain fortress, they get a brief vision of a battle with the gates open as they now are.

In the entrance hall, dozens of ogres, orcs and hill giants fight a small number of heavily armored dwarven warriors that are attempting to push the invaders back through the gates, while a brown robed dwarf priest completes a ritual. The gates slam shut trapping many of the invaders inside the gates.

Room description:
The entrance hall is 20 feet wide and 100 feet deep, with two large doors at the end of the hall. The hall is decorated with etched carvings, mosaics, and pillars and high vaulted ceilings. All around the entrance are the skeletons of about 20 dwarves that seem to have fallen in battle. There are no giant, or ogre bones in the area. A thick layer of dust covers the floor. A large rectangular block of stone lies 15 feet in front of the doors.

If the PC's study the room for a while or if they set off a trap, then a spirit manifests out of the body of one of the skeletons. It can barely speak (perception 30 test to hear) or be seen (perception 30 test to see), but it understands common. The spirit is that of High Priest Kloin Hammerhand, the dwarf who performed the ritual of closing. He wishes to possess one of the party members, but is very weak. Probably too weak to forcibly posses any party member. (Possess: +2 vs Will posession until save) He is not malign, but wishes to know the fate of Rorni's Creek and to get revenge on those that betrayed him. If someone allows him to posses them he can communicate easily with the party through the person, but otherwise is content to ride the PC. A PC bearing Kloin's spirit gains:
  • Healing Word 1/day (+2d6) minor action
  • Knowledge of the trap pattern in the entrance hall.
  • Knowledge of the layout of the fortress as it was when it was overrun.
  • Knowledge that 4 months after sealing the entrance, there was a group of dwarves that suddenly attacked him and other dwarves while they were asleep and killed 20 of them here. He does not know why.
  • +2 on History checks.
  • Kloin may attempt to affect the PC's actions with a +2 vs Willpower attack until a save is made.
If the dust is brushed away from the floor, a complicated geometric pattern can be seen to cover it. The pattern is in fact a key to the many traps that defend the entrance hall. When traps are sprung a dungeoneering or intelligence check may be made to deduce the pattern. The DC decreases for every trap sprung, according to the following chart. (at least two traps must be sprung or detected to discover the pattern)

Traps Sprung or Detected/Dungeoneering or Intelligence DC to figure out pattern.
  • 2 traps revealed/ DC 35
  • 3 traps revealed/DC 30
  • 4 traps revealed/ DC 25
  • 5+ traps revealed/DC 20
In order to make any of these checks, the PC's must be brushing the dust away from the floor to reveal the geometric pattern. Sweeping away the dust from a trapped square will probably not trigger traps provided care is used and the squares are not stepped on.

The difficulty of detecting a trap is Perception DC 30 and disabling is a DC 30 Thievery check. On each 5 foot square, there's a 50% chance that a trap is present.

The room is filled with traps. There are four types of traps:
  • swinging blade traps +15 vc AC, 2d10
  • falling block traps +13 vs Reflex, 3d8
  • spring loaded ground spike traps, 4 attacks, +13 vs Reflex, d8 each
  • covered pit traps, +13 vs Reflex, 20' pit, fall 2d10, climb DC 20

The swinging blade, covered pit and spike traps reset in 1 minute, although the dust disturbed by the covered pit trap clearly marks it once triggered. The falling block traps don't reset.


Devoid of encounters, the main living quarters of the ruins take about 2 hours to cursorily explore. The main hall continues in a straight line into the mountain with side passages leading to the dwarven living and working quarters. The dust has not been disturbed here for many years.

Room Three: Fungus Farm

Room description:
Dozens of slaves (mostly humans) labour to harvest giant mushrooms in this large cavern. Weird mutant-like creatures oversee the work. A heavy stream of water runs from the west side of the cavern over a metal water wheel into an underground river that exits into a sinkhole in the east wall. While the PC's are taking the scene in, an emaciated elf collapses while hauling a load of fibrous mushroom stalks. A floating tentacled creature (a Grell) quickly descends on it from the ceiling. The hapless elf's screams are abruptly cut off with a bite from a venom dripping beak.

Level 11 Encounter (XP 3,050)
  • 1 Foulspawn seer (level 11 artillery)
  • 2 Foulspawn berserkers (level 9 soldier)
  • 3 Foulspawn grues (level 8 controller)
  • 1 Grell (level 7 elite soldier)

Dungeoneering DC 15:
  • Grells are solitary, malicious hunters that detest sunlight and prefer to lurk underground. They float silently though the air and like to descend from above, snaring their prey in venomous tentacles.

Dungeoneering DC 15:
  • Foulspawn form loose clans that shelter in existing structures or underground regions, modifying their homes into maddening warrens full of strange features. They also cooperate with other aberrant creatures.

Room Four: The Forge

Long before the doors are reached, the sound of hammers on metal resound through the main hall. The large solid doors are cracked open and a red glow comes from beyond.

There are four lava-powered forges are in the room and an open flow on the north west side. Ten ashen faced dwarves work the forges beating metal into weapons and armor.

If a character falls into lava... they die, no save. (See rule 1!). The forges are half closed; being pushed into the forge causes 2d10 fire damage on entering and at the beginning of each round. There are four levers in the room that control the flow of lava. They each may be spotted with a DC 25 perception check. Pulling the levers completely down causes a burst 1 splash around the forge, 2d10 damage.

Confrontation between Kloin and Master Smith Brill.
  • 1 Vampire lord (level 11 elite skirmisher) (Master Smith Brill)
  • 9 Vampire spawn bloodhunters (level 10 minion)

Brill will attempt to prolong the confrontation with Kloin and attampts to delay as long as possible because he knows that Uthuok is just outside the forge dealing with the Druegar.

In one minute or after 2 rounds of combat, Uthuok and his Zombies arrive through the concealed door in the north wall.
  • 1 Skull lord (level 10 artillery) (Master Digger Uthuok)
  • 2 Zombie hulks (level 8 brute)

Religion check:
  • DC 15: Contrary to popular folklore, vampires are not hampered by running water or repelled by garlic, and they don’t need invitations to enter homes. Wooden stakes hurt them, but no more so than any other sharp weapon. A vampire does not cast a shadow or produce a reflection in a mirror.
  • DC 20: A vampire lord can make others of its kind by performing a dark ritual (see the Dark Gift of the Undying sidebar). Performing the ritual leaves the caster weakened, so a vampire lord does not perform the ritual often.

Religion check (skull lord)
  • DC 15: A skull lord is a formidable undead being with three skulls. Each skull has a different power, and a skull lord on the verge of destruction will sacrifice one of its skulls to keep the rest of its form intact. Once two of its skulls are destroyed, the creature loses the power to heal itself in this fashion.

Religion check (zombie)
  • DC 15: Most zombies are created using a foul ritual. Once roused, a zombie obeys its creator and wants nothing more than to kill and consume the living.
  • DC 20: Corpses left in places corrupted by supernatural energy from the Shadowfell sometimes rise as zombies on their own. These zombies have no master and generally attack all living creatures they encounter.

Room Five: The Caravan

Level 11 Encounter
  • Berbelang (MM)
  • 2 Druegar (see Thunderspire Labyrinth)

Religion check (Berbelang)
  • DC 20: Berbalangs consume the flesh of dead humanoids. They do not differentiate between those recently dead and those dead for centuries.
  • DC 25: Berbalangs absorb the memories of the corpses they eat and relive significant portions of those memories while asleep. This absorption of dead memories gives berbalangs the nutrition they require.

The Druegar are readying a small train of large lizards pulling carts (non combat beasts of burden). The carts have several bundles of dried fungus provisions. Two dead human (slaves). The first cart in the train has a "Resounding Hammer +3" and an "Iron Ring of the Dwarf Lords". In the possession of one of the Druegar is a map to the Underdark in the local area and a note from Blackhand Grimmerzhul offering 15 slaves in payment for a magical Hammer and Ring. The map is written with notes in dwarvish and consists of a network of coloured, solid, dashed or dotted lines and circles. Before it may be used to navigate through the Underdark it must be deciphered with a DC 25 Dungeoneering check. Once it has been deciphered, it allows for navigation through the Underdark of all the northern Estvald, and a variable bonus (0 to +5) on Dungeoneering checks related to navigation of the Underdark of Northern Estvald.