Back in Keep on the Shadowfell, our group (and likely many others), rescued a small goblin from his fellows named Splug.
At this point, about three years later, the group is playing through Kingdom of Ghouls, are about 26th level, and Splug is still a member of the group. There are four players in the group, so Splug allows me to keep the encounters as they are and not scale them down (although I do so when one of the players can't make it).
Although for most of his career, Splug was a Goblin Rogue, with the release of Essentials he became a Goblin Thief, which made him much easier to play as an NPC. With the four other characters being Cleric, Fighter, Wizard and Warlock, Splug stands alone as the chief damage-dealer of the group.
Splug the Magnificent
Goblin Rogue 26
S17 C16 D27 I10 W13 Ch22
HP 188; AC 39, Fort 36, Ref 45, Will 39
+6 vicious dagger +34 vs AC or Ref, 2d4+22 damage
Including CA & Backstab: +42 vs AC or Ref, 2d4+25+5d8+3d6 damage
Normally, I just go with CA: +37 vs AC or Ref, 55 damage or Backstab (4/enc): +42 vs AC or Ref, 65 damage.
Crits on 19-20: 6d12+91 for Backstab
We're now about 2-3 sessions away from finishing Kingdom of Ghouls, and that puts us well on track for finishing the HPE series by the end of the year. Unfortunately, we've found Kingdom of Ghouls to be a fairly disappointing adventure. The basic plot and scope of the adventure are fantastic, and, if I had the time and the desire, I could really make the adventure brilliant. However, it would require a lot of work, and I'm seeing a lot of the problems in play rather than beforehand.
The particular case in point I'm thinking of is the crossing of the Kingdom of Ghouls to reach the stronghold of a major henchmen - infiltrating the city and then reaching the palace. This is handled by a single skill challenge (which has a number of issues in how it's constructed, but anyway...) Alas, it really doesn't allow the horror of the Kingdom to come out.
The "Crossing of the Ghoul Kingdom" could quite easily be an entire module by itself - and, given my old-school sympathies - would include a hex map of the wilderness, random encounters and keyed encounters in that wilderness, then the same again for the city (although it'd be a much simpler city to design than most).
Alas, that opportunity looks to have passed us by.
After the HPE campaign ends, we'll return to Greyhawk, but to a new part of it: to the lands of the Frost Barbarians in the frozen north. My brother's character from our (very) old AD&D campaign in the late 80s hailed from there, but we've never really explored it. There was a reference to it when Iuz started the "Greyhawk" Wars (my brother's PC was involved), but it's going to be very interesting to visit that area now - especially as, in my campaign, we're about 400 CY - a good decade and a half past those events.
Will Brunak the Barbarian turn up? I'd be disappointed if he didn't.
The one thing I'm leaning towards at present is to run the campaign using AD&D. Why AD&D and not 4E or another version of D&D? Well, there are a number of reasons. Primary amongst them is the desire to change the emphasis of this campaign: away from players optimising their characters and the set-piece combats that are a large part of 4e, and more towards character, story and exploration/discovery.
Indeed, I almost want to go back to original D&D (3 booklets, pre-Supplement I), due to the lack of ability score modifiers, but there would be further complications caused by that decision that I don't wish to visit.
The other 4E campaign (Greyhawk) that I'm running is continuing nicely. We're most of the way through the Tomb of Shadows part of the new 4E Tomb of Horrors adventure. Rich's paladin tripped a trap that left him weakened and slowed, and the rest of the group and his DM (me) quite amused. However, his radiant damage has been very helpful even in his weakened state, so he's not helpless.
We'll finish that section of the Tomb on Friday. Following that, we'll move on to Logan Bonner's Open Design adventure: Lost City. I acquired a copy last week, and immediately realised its applicability in this campaign: the PCs are the right level, there's a desert (the Bright Desert) right nearby to the City of Greyhawk, and it's entirely the sort of thing that one of the main NPCs in the campaign would be interested in... and through him, the group will get involved.
I'm quite happy with how Lost City reads, although scale-wise its a little smaller than I expected a Lost City to be! There seems to be a nice balance between the choices of a sandbox and the restrictions that give the PCs (and DM) more guidance, so I'll be very interested to see how it turns out. If things go as planned, we're about 16 days away from finding out! (That's a pretty quick turnaround from first seeing a module to including it in my campaign!)