This series of articles offers some of the design concepts that went into each of the Encounters Season 6 sessions. From weaving a story to sculpting an attack by a creature 8-9 levels higher than the PCs, the plan is to give you a sneak peek into the making of The Lost Crown of Neverwinter. If you're an Encounters DM, this information might be a helpful guide to running the encounters. If you're a player, you're certainly welcome to read these articles, but it might be best if you wait until the day after the week's Encounters session.
You can also catch up with Erik and ask him questions directly on the Wizards Community boards, where he hosts a thread specifically on The Lost Crown of Neverwinter.
Session 9: Dead Rat Hole
Again, the heroes face a skill challenge-like opening to the battle, in which there are several different avenues they can pursue. My design seeks to anticipate anything the players might come up with by starting with a general “Approaching the Lair” section, then categorizing their subsequent actions into three categories: Sneak in, Talk it out, or Kick in the door. The opening ends ultimately in battle with the aggressive wererats, but the mechanics here are intended to give the players significant advantages for creativity and some freedom from feeling railroaded.
The end of this session is scripted to be surprising and memorable. Few things are quite as scary as being trapped underground in an unfamiliar area with rising water. It is not intended to be a serious threat to the heroes, but rather a convenient (if unnerving) way to deliver them to the next encounter area. The important thing here was the limit the consequences: each hero can lose one healing surge at most, and has a choice of three skill checks to make to avoid the loss. As written, the encounter could be interpreted to suggest that the heroes don’t have time to collect all the treasure, but in that case, it should wash along with them through the sewers.
About the Author:
Erik Scott de Bie is a fantasy author and game designer in the Seattle area. In addition to his five Forgotten Realms novels, he worked on Neverwinter Campaign Setting and its related adventures, including The Lost Crown of Neverwinter. Find him on his website (erikscottdebie.com), facebook/twitter (@erikscottdebie), or ask him questions about Encounters Season 6 in the D&D forum.