The Points of Light Campaign (D&D 4e)
Adventure #2 WOTC H2 Thunderspire Labyrinth (Level 4)
Things are going very well, a nice easy encounter with the last of the Bloodreavers to start the session, it was a massacre but the guys sure do like being top dog in a fight every now and then, and it played out quite quickly.
Fifth level is also good, for some reason the guys think fifth level is proper, there was a frisson of excitement when the level up was announced- they’re halfway to Paragon almost. A couple of these guys have been around the table with me as their DM for at least a dozen years. The highest level PC I’ve ever DMed, and any of them has ever played, was something like level 14, although that was back in 3rd edition. The guys can’t wait to get there again, particularly to see what it’s like. In 3e we struggled- were not a bright bunch and we don’t do a lot of paperwork, we generally like to be able to just get to the table and game. 3e didn’t do us any favours, a lot of the guys had real problems trying to manage, or else remember what their spells, or powers, or whatever did- especially when at times we would go 3-4 weeks between sessions.
Obviously we know all about high level play now in 4e, you’ve got to remember that this game took place probably sometime in 2010/11. This bunch of PCs (or what’s left of them- I’m not giving anything away) are in the midst of P3 as I type this. Paragon level play is harder to manage than Heroic, but nowhere near as difficult to manage as 3e at the same level, we’re fast approaching Epic level now and some of the guys are doing cartwheels at the thought.
Back to this session.
A nice touch having the guys have to rush back through the Labyrinth to get to the Duergar Trading Post in the Seven Pillared Hall, I figured I needed something to put the squeeze on them. Don’t tell them but the Duergar Guard wasn’t even heading for the Hall, still it lit a fire under their arses. The Skill Challenge I employed in this section was just the same as the one I used on the way to the Chamber of Eyes, except much harder, and much more dangerous. At one point Dirty lost something like 4 healing surges in a rock fall- he had to be dug out, Dave was in a bad mood pretty much all of the session. As with the previous trip into the Labyrinth I prepared before hand a bunch of Skeleton Key Games tiles, I just drew them from the pile at random- did I heck as like, the players thought that but I knew exactly what order they would come in.
And so to the encounters in the Labyrinth.
Thain Cardanas and his magic mushroom eating Berserkers was played entirely for laughs, although again Dirty (Dave) didn’t see the funny side of it. Not a tough fight, rather an opportunity to add a bit of levity and wear the guys down some more- keep spending the healing surges boys.
The encounter with the Cube and the Wraiths was horrible to play, I’ll try not to make the same mistake again- weakened and insubstantial don’t mix. Although as I said at the time this encounter is probably in the top five that the guys still talk about- so draining (pun intended) was it that it has since acquired a certain cache.
Then back to the Seven Pillared Hall, and the Duergar Trading Post, again not a difficult encounter but my intention was not to kill the guys- that’d be a bonus if I got one or two however, and they were very low on surges. My intention instead was to force the confrontation out into the Hall proper- I wanted a climactic event- Dirty done me proud, as did the others in the gang.
To follow a little more role-play, although there was no way (save perhaps a string of natural ’20’s) I was going to let Kedhira tell them where the Grimmerzhul fortress was, that’s not the Duergar way. I wanted to get them back into the Labyrinth, to make getting there an adventure in itself, the reward is only worth as much as the effort expended to achieve it.
And so in session ten we’re back into the Labyrinth, only it just got harder, way harder.