The Points of Light Campaign (D&D 4e)
Adventure #2 WOTC H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth (Level 4)
And so the session comes to an end- with the guys an extended rest away from Level 7, this is probably the quickest progression I have ever experienced, and quick (for us) even by 4e standards. My 3.x campaigns used to take a year or so to get to about Level 10, and that’s with a game every week, although these are also some of the longest sessions I’ve played seen the halcyon days of the late 80s. We’ve been playing this campaign for maybe just over 6 months so far- 13 sessions, a game every two weeks or so with a few misses here and there, it all seems to have happened remarkably quickly.
This session saw the introduction of much more in the way of plot with regard to what’s going on in Thunderspire, but also what comes after- setting stuff up for the next adventure in the Pyramid of Shadows. I do this, or else I have to do this, because the WOTC story line is more than a little flaky, or else tenuous. That’s not a massive complaint I figure WOTC need to leave something for the DM to do, but the links such as they are in the H series of adventures are just… meh! I’m not saying our version is miles better, it just has more of an overlap- a whole lot more back story that’s delivered, or better still- discovered, en route by the adventures, it kinda fits.
As to the encounters themselves, the rescue of Mrs. Charrak and the fight with the Trogs proved to be extremely bloody at times, although the guys pretty much had everything under control. I loved the fact that not one of the players could recall anything significant about their enemies- Troglodytes must have featured in some of their/our previous campaigns, or else adventures, although I don’t remember using them previously in 4e. The guys were all a little nonplussed for a while- what the hell do Trogs do? Particularly as the two noob players had no idea what I troglodyte was, they rely heavily on the more experienced players to provide a short intro to the various creatures they encounter along the way.
I played Vadriar as an unhinged loon, not at all what the guys expected- of course this is much easier to do if you chose to roll your checks for the NPC behind the DMs screen, the guys got the joke however, and went with it. Vadriar was fearless when he lead the PCs through the Labyrinth to the Well of Demons- I used a bunch more tiles from Skeleton Key Games around the table. I also employed some particularly good tiles ones from, I think, the Rackham Reversible Gaming Tiles set, which were just fantastic- particularly as Vadriar, and the guys following, were leaping chasms.
The encounters in the Well of Demons were fairly perfunctory- the guys smashed their way, for the most part, through the Gnolls & Hyenas- I don’t mind it at all when this happens. The PCs are really able to dish out a lot of hurt very quickly- particularly with an Action Point in every encounter, the monsters of course are also able to bloody the guys pretty quickly- although at times my dice seem to ensure that this happens less frequently than I like.
The encounter with the Phalagar proved to be the hardest of the session- it got very busy very quickly, and yet with only four enemies on the board- I think I should have made the Phalagar a Solo, the PCs put it down far too quickly for my liking.
For the Gnoll guards, and the Hyenas the guys played smart enough to get the jump on them- a massacre followed, no biggie. The fight with the Hyenas and the Huntmasters should have been a bit more difficult, particularly as I engineered it so that Winstanley got cut off from his friends, the guys just smashed through the Hyenas however, and soon after were all over the Huntmasters.
Still they found, and calmed, Mr. Grumpy- Dave who plays Dirty went from ‘not bovered’ to eyes-on-stalks when I passed around an image of the Dire Boar, it was love at first sight. The problem now is of course that Dirty is the noisiest adventurer in town, cantering down the passages on the back of Mr. Grumpy- which is not at all what Winstanley wants. The other, and perhaps more significant, problem is that Mr. Grumpy is just showing Dirty up. The Boar I’m fairly certain has never missed an attack, Dirty on the other hand…
Another long and bloody session, I worry that people reading this will not get the fact that at times in these encounters we are laughing like drains at each others successes and failures, and generally having a great old time. I appreciate that this doesn’t come across from the written word, this is after all just a series of notes, not an in depth story. Still I hope it strikes a chord, particularly with anyone that has been through these adventurers as a DM, or else a player.
Next up the guys are Level 7, although perhaps not immediately… do you remember the Tiefling that got away?