Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Rescue At Rivenroar Revised, part 2

Time to go over the next 4 encounters in Rescue At Rivenroar Revised. I didn't add monster stat blocks here, but I do have them as image if people want me to post them.

Portal Room: This is where things really start to change in Rivenroar. When I first read this encounter, I shook my head. In the context of this dungeon, of this adventure, it makes no sense. Why is there a one-way portal here? Why is it to a castle in a swamp? Why? I don't understand what was going on when this encounter was designed. Maybe there's a good reason. However, for me it had to go. First thing to go is the portal itself. I can't see any reason to keep it. Instead, I placed a magical mural on the entire wall where the portal used to be. This mural showed the outside world, the lands that Rivenroar stands in, like a picture window. The walls to the east and west had several burial spaces carved into the walls. Next to the doors leading east and west are two sets of ceremonial armor on stands. The ceremonial armor has already probably told most of you about part of what will happen here. After a couple of minutes of poking around, a disembodied voice will ask PCs their business and state their relation. It will do this 3 times, then the combat encounter begins. If the PCs start defiling anything in the room (by pulling skeletons out of the walls to search or by messing with the armors), the combat encounter begins immediately. The goblins still don't linger in this area. Dulan hasn't been able to bend the undead in here to his will yet either. Gone are all of the monsters listed in the module. Instead, they're replaced by these.

2x Bladebearer Guardians. Originally a monster called "Chib Naersaar, Bladebearer Zombie". I made some serious changes. I changed the role from Skirmisher to Soldier, dropped the level from 4 to 3, and removed the zombie weakness. Finally names were changed and the scimitar was changed to a longsword. I described these as arcane energy filling the ceremonial armors and animating them.

2x Spellwrought Tomb Guardians. Originally a monster just called "Spellwrought Guardians". Obviously the name was changed. Further, keywords and monster type were changed. Originally a Medium Natural Humanoid (Living Construct), the version I used is now Medium Shadow Humanoid (Undead). They are otherwise unchanged.

4x Wisp Wraiths. Straight out of the Monster Builder unchanged.

Tactics: The two Bladebearer Guardians obviously start next to the doors to the east and west. The Spellwrought Tomb Guardians appear out of nowhere, seemingly stepping right through the magical mural to appear in the room. The wisp wraiths come out of the walls to the east and west, 2 from each wall. This will probably catch the PCs in the middle. The wisps can shift about, slowing PCs and causing problems. The Tomb Guardians are best served charging right into the middle of combat, then using their energy burst. The Bladebearers can use their mobility to gang up on a weakend PC (or focus on a tomb defiler, if one of the PCs went poking around). When I ran this fight, it was a tough, tense encounter for the PCs. They got pretty beat up, but I think they felt it was an enjoyable encounter.

Von Urstadt Crypt: This encounter I made some changes to, but not the whole thing. The gnomes are gone. I didn't like having the gnomes in Rivenroar. The reasoning for them being there didn't hold water for me. I had a hard time seeing gnomes and goblins allied to one another. This won't be the first time that the module has gnomes and I kick them out. The magma claws stay, stats intact. Their reasoning made some sense, plus I think they're interesting monsters. However, I changed how I described them to the players. I described them as brass scorpions glowing with heat and bursts of fire coming out of their animated joints. This was more a interesting visual to me than the lobster-looking thing that they show in the Monster Manual. The gnomes are replaced with:

2x Goblin Redblades. These are essentially the "Goblin Blackblade" monsters found elsewhere in the module, except bumped up from level 1 to level 2. As easy as can be using the Monster Builder.

Tactics: The goblins "summon" the magma claws as soon as they're aware of the PCs, then hide until they show up. At which point, they let the magma claws distract and burn PCs while the goblins get into position to flank and backstab as much as they can. It's a fairly straightforward fight.

Spiderweb Landing: This is, along with the Portal Room, one of the encounters I changed the most in Rivenroar and it's one that I'm the happiest with. Originally, the module has 3 Ettercaps in this room, along with a lot of spiderwebs. As with the gnomes, just didn't see why the ettercaps needed to be here. I'm not sure I've actually read any explanation for their presence. So the ettercaps had to go. I wanted to replace them with undead, to strengthen that theme in Rivenroar. That left a small problem. The spiderwebs presented an interesting tactical situation for PCs to deal with. Half the squares in the room were difficult terrain for them, while the ettercaps could move around with no problem. I wanted to preserve that element and eventually came up with the idea that the room would be filled with a mist infused with necrotic energy. As the PCs pass by, hands form themselves out of the mist to grasp and claw at the PCs and slow them down. These hands wouldn't really be a bother to the undead, so I've preserved the tactical situation. Players could use fire to burn away cobwebs before and now they can use radiant energy to do the same to the necrotic mist. Using a radiant energy power dismisses the mist from a close burst 1 area around the person using the power until that person's next turn, at which the mist returns. As for the ettercaps, they get replaced with:

1x Dragonborn Spectre. This is straight out of the Monster Builder, stats unchanged. That said, I think the story behind it needs to be elaborated on. As the module indicates, the body Guard Captain Kartenix is in here. I decided to make Kartenix into a Dragonborn and devotee of Bahamut. So Dulan decided that the ultimate humiliation for Kartenix would be to have his spirit bound to fight and defeat the enemies of Tiamat. Dulan has intentions to raise his physical body as a zombie later as well, but he hasn't gotten to it yet. So Kartenix's spirit begs the players for forgiveness even as he's attacking and asks to be set free from his imprisonment. I think that it's really an excellent and dangerous monster, but with a story behind it I think it's that much more interesting.

1x Deathlock Wight. Again, straight out of the Monster Builder. It's a good monster, I think. I kind of envision the wight as the leader of this little group, both controlling passage up to the next level and ensuring Kartenix's continued torment. The wight taunts the spectre (and the players) as the fight goes on and when the spectre is destroyed, the wight brings it right back again.

2x Bound Shadow Guardians. These used to be a monster called a "Dark Hammer" in the Monster Builder. I liked the mechanics, so I changed the keyword from Construct to Undead and changed the name to something that seemed more appropriate. I really want to bump them up from level 1 to level 2 (and I have a level 2 version in the Monster Builder). The reason I'm not sure about it is that this could already be a quite difficult fight and I'm not sure it's really necessary to make the Shadow Guardians tougher. If you choose to take that option, it does only add another 50xp to the fight.

Tactics: This seems fairly straight forward as far as tactics go. The Shadow Guardians want to get right into the thick of things and make trouble. The Dragonborn Spectre will catch as many enemies in the breath as possible as early as possible, using mobility and invisiblity to set up the attacks. The wight stays back and blasts away, pushing back any PCs who get too close too quickly.

Rivenroar Family Crypt: Completely unchanged. It strongly fits the "goblins or undead" theme that I've been trying to emphasize and isn't a bad fight. The only thing I'd change, if I were to change anything, would be to replace the Hobgoblin Archer as written with another ranged attacker. The Hobgoblin Archer gives a bonus that nobody else in the fight really is equipped to take advantage of. It feels like kind of a waste.