Tips for Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan?

10 posts / 0 new
Last post
Hey guys,
Since the current Encounters season ends this week (12/19), and the next one doesn't start up until Feb 6, we've got a good 4-5 weeks of nothing happening on Wednesdays.  My FLGS asked the DMs at our store to come up with some multi-week adventures we could run.

I got that Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan 4e version as an awesome bonus for being an Encounters DM  a year or two ago, and I wanted to run it.  It's a level 7 adventure, based on an old tournament game from 1979.  Does anyone with the adventure have any tips on how I should break this up across 4 two-hour sessions?  

Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Specifically what I'm thinking so far is:
- How should I handle rests?  There are a lot of effects that just take healing surges, or HP equivalent to a healing surge.  Yet the party is trapped in the underground ruins of an evil temple devoted to a vampire god, so maybe an extended rest won't be possible?  And if we're doing this over 4 weeks, will it matter if a new player comes in on week 2 with full resources?
- How should I break up the big baddies?  There are some massive monsters in this, including a mummy (lv 10), a large coatl (lv 15), an oni (lv8) & his panther (lv9), a beholder (lv9), and lots of nasty traps.  There are ways around certain encounters, but what do folks feel is an appropriate threat level for each week?
- Is this REALLY a level 7 adventure, or should I bump the PCs up to 8 or 9?
- Has anyone run this yet?  And if so, what were the problem areas?

NOTE: if Steve Radney-MacFarland, who did the 4e conversion, or Wisconsin Johnson & Duck Leason, who wrote the original, are on these forums and would like to sound off, I would love your advice, too. 
If I had the mod I could help you update it / work with it a bit to see what kind of tweaks need to be made.  Do you have an electronic copy you could send to me so we can discuss it?

As far as the monsters, the PCs can handle things of higher levels but the Coatl is a bit too high unless it is supposed to be something they avoid.  If it isn't an elite/solo I would take it down to about level 8-10 and make it an elite or solo.  If it is a solo, check to make sure there aren't any encounter gimmicks (NPCs to help, traps to spring on the creature, etc) to help them make up for the level difference.

You can handle the "coming in full" idea however you like, but the way I would run it is describing each of the people who are newcomers as people that were found stuck in holes so the vamps could feed off them later.  I would also have them enter with a rough average of resources of the party.  At the end of each session just ask how many surges the party has total, and how many they have to spend in a normal day.

So if the party has a total of 20 surges and has spent 16 of them the newcomer will come in with 16/20ths or 4/5ths total healing surges.  If the party has 2/10 dailies gone it would be safe to let the newcomer come in with full dailies, but if the party has 5/10 dailies gone he should only come in with 1 daily.

Hope this helped.  If I get more info I can help with the mod more. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I only have the physical copy of the 4e version.  I'll look around for an electronic one, in the various dark corners of the internet that contain such things, and if I find one, I'll send it your way.

The coatl is meant as a consequence if the PCs try to steal things from a particular chamber, though there are ways to avoid it after it's been activated.  Originally this was a tournament mod, so it has a fairly lethal feel to it.  I may do an entire rewrite so that there are 4 sections of the temple, each with some exploring/trap stuff, some minor critters, and one "boss"-type encounter each.  I've got a week or two, so it shouldn't be too bad.  

My other concern is that I'll have a typical Encounters crowd with me, which normally is mostly newish players, so it won't be like Lair Assault where everyone will be min-maxed to be most effective at whatever they do.  The NPCs I'm writing up are good at a couple things, with enough diversity so that there will always be someone trained in Thievery, there'll always be a couple of healing options, there'll always be a variety of strikers with a variety of damage types, etc.  I don't mind killing folks, but I'm hoping to avoid a TPK.  We want folks to come back for the next Encounters season, when it actually starts, after all. 
I'm not exactly sure what the timing is on the current Dungeon online issue release, but if you can wait a bit, the electronic version will be up soon and we can all look at it.

I really don't understand their new "let's release the whole issue at once" thing and how it's better for Wizards, nor do I have any clue when they release it (the Dragon link just went up a day or two ago, I think). 
Also, what are the coatl's defences? If they're around 29-30 as many level 15 monsters are, it will be almost impossible for non-min-maxed characters to even hit it. That's the big thing I would worry about.
First off, I'm going to guess that the Dungeon Magazine version will be shorter than the printed one they gave out to organized play DMs.  That one is 44 pages long, which is a bit much for a Dungeon article.  Maybe they'll do a "best of version", or a toned-down one without so much death (like the 2 versions of Tomb of Horrors they did... the complete book, and the shorter adventure that more closely mimicked the original tournament version).

Speaking of which, in this printed one, out of 54 rooms, here are the monster level breakdowns:

L5minion - 15; L6minion - 23 (all can be avoided/snuck past); L7 - 6 L7elite - 3 (2 can be negotiated with); L8 - 10 (7 only attack if disturbed); L8elite - 6 (1 can be snuck past); L8solo - 2; L9 - 2; L9elite - 1; L9solo - 1 (can be negotiated with); L10 - 5; L10elite - 2; L15elite - 1 (can be avoided/negotiated with)

And the Coatl's defenses are all 28-29.

It's pretty clear that the printed one is designed to be a slaughterfest, which is not exactly how I want to present D&D to our FLGS's crowd of newish players at Encounters.

For a 4 week session with Encounters players, I'm going to basically take the flavor text and a lot of the traps, then choose 4 major bosses and a bunch of support soldiers.  The text itself doesn't have much of a consistent narrative, so I'll probably choose the monsters I use based on which ones I can weave into a compelling story. 
Yeah, 28-29 is tough to hit. My group of Level 7 players has +8 to +11 to hit, generally (yes, I know they are not optimized at all; I think they represent a pretty common casual group). That means they'll need to roll 17s or 18s just to hit the coatl at all, and even if they maintain a flank 15-16 to hit means a pretty frustrating battle.

I would recommend picking some monsters out of the Compendium that are level-appropriate and then simply reskinning them to "coatl" and the like. 
Like I said earlier, if you will send me the module or post about some specifics on here I can help out in rebuilding the mod to not be a slaughterfest.  Or you could raise the character level to 9.

Also, depending on how old the solo is, they may be far easier than you think.  Solos, especially older ones, tend to be big bags of non-threatening hit points that the PCs wail at for a while. 
Currently working on making a Dex based defender. Check it out here
Need a few pre-generated characters for a one-shot you are running? Want to get a baseline for what an effective build for a class you aren't familiar with? Check out the Pregen thread here If ever you are interested what it sounds like to be at my table check out my blog and podcast here Also, I've recently done an episode on "Refluffing". You can check that out here
I've run this dungeon before.

It is possible to "win" after the first combat encounter if the players choose the right path.  Plan for this to happen.  When they reach the second/third encounter depending on the actions they take they can be shown the exit.

The poison gas goes off on a round basis.  Map everything so you know how often to have the players rolling checks.

Once they have "won" they are outside the dungeon and if they have the means can safely extended rest.  Create Campsite, Good campsite design with some nice skill checks, Exodus Knife, I think they put Leamond's (spelling) tiny hut back in the game, create teleportation circle + linked portal.  They can always retreat and rest before going too far in, just remember that it takes 20 hours maximum to get an extended rest (8 hours to rest + 12 hour gap between rests) and with the right rituals, items, and race combinations can take one in 12 hours (0+gap).

Plan for every encounter, but don't expect them to go through them all.  I scared my party off with the description of a thunderstorm during an extended rest.

Bring bananas (props/treasure).  They're in the jungle and bananas are cheap by the bunch.

After the first few traps they will not likely walk into any others willingly.  The monsters may have to lure them in.  Others they will walk into without a second thought.

Check the party perception and insight scores against the adventure difficulty.  I think some are impossible without specialization.  Roll the attempt for that one monster in that place (being vague to prevent spoiling the surprise) or they will see it from the start with the game given static number.  Give them scrolls of raise dead and ritual components.  They will need them, especially for the game in the hallway.  Read each encounter carefully.  Some of them are confusing to run and can be trivialized/deadly if done wrong (game in the hallway.)

Be sure to run the module on the 21st of December.  It's based on Meso-American culture.  This is the only chance to line it up with the big event, or party for the new cycle.  I think their is a planetary aliagnment as well.

Sorry to resurrect this thread after so long, but I'm looking to run this adventure soon and have a few questions for anyone with some experience. 


The group I have is only four players with two that are less familiar with 4e than other systems, while the other two are more experienced but not min-maxers.  I'd like to run the module so that they could succeed, but because of the group size and average inexperience, I figured I need to modify some things. 


First, should I have them start at a higher level like 8 or 9?  I figure that might help with the smaller party. 


Second, I was contemplating some kind of "save point" system--either some set points in the temple that they could start over from once they're reached or maybe a set number of optional points that the party could declare as their save points.  I would then have them record expended resources so they could properly reset.  Basically, I don't mind having them succumb a time or two, but I'd like to not have to replay replay rooms excessively.


I realize that this is not the ideal adventure for the group I have, but I'm committed at this point and want to make the best of it.  A little replayability and strategy isn't the end of the world, and was pretty much the basis for Lair Assault, but I want to make sure it doesn't just become tedious and/or soul-crushing.


Any thoughts?