Red Hand of Doom - Total Recap!

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Thursday in 2 days time we will finally start out with the Red Hand of Doom adventure. After having played Sons of Gruumsh for several months, the group is now ready to move down south to the Misty Vale in Faerun. Misty Vale is where Elsir Vale is set in the FRCS. The players will use the sea-fare letters they received from a noble house in Melvaunt to cross the Moonsea. Then they will join a merchants caravan bound for the south. A long and hardenous journey. The PCs will hear rumors of war the closer they get to Misty Vale.

I have instructed my players that only 4 main PCs at 5-6th level are allowed. They may also enlist 2 cohorts at 1st-2nd level. These cohorts will also be played as PCs. We use this system to introduce new players and new PCs into the campaign.

The players are currently discussing their line-up, but I think it´s a good chance the group will be as follows:

PCs in Red Hand of Doom

Ilzzt, Drow Fighter/Wizard, 5th/1st
Geth Helder, Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish, 3rd/2nd/1st
Anor, Elven Ranger, 6th
Eruan, Elven Warmage, 4th

Falrinn, Svirfneblin Druid, 2nd
Vrinn, Drow Rogue, 1st level


The main PCs are in bold letters, the hirelings in italic.

Ilzzt, Geth Helder, and Anor are seasoned tough guys with heavy magic equipment and they will be the backbone of the group. Eruan is getting there and warmages are very combat-able. Falrinn might not hold his own in battle, but his sneaky abilities always gives him the opportunity to retreat unnoticed from dangerous encounters. Vrinn who will be introduced at first level ofcourse run the biggest risk here.

The Half-Orc Cleric/Fighter Durth who corageously charged Thrull in the adventure Sons of Gruumsh and died in battle will most probably be resurrected. The players have set 12.000 gp aside to aid that cause. The player who runs Durth will be buzy the next couple of weeks though, so Durth might join in later. When and if he does, one of the other main PCs will have to leave the group. But that´s ok as Ilzzt, Geth Helder, and Anor are all played by the same player. Also, the Air Genasi Ranger Arranos will join in later. Again one of the main PCs played by the multi-PC player will have to leave the group. Finally, Eluard, a Cleric/Church Inquisitor 5th/1st, is on stand by. Since RHoD is an open campaign module I will allow the players to change lineup at various parts in the adventure.

The players will buy equipment and supplies and then board a ship bound for southern Moonsea. Soon the next adventure will begin. Will the heroes of Xûl-Jarak be able to halt the advancing forces of the Red Hand of Doom?

NB! Please feel free to join in this thread with comments, questions, and anecdotes from your own gaming experiences of the Red Hand of Doom adventure!
So is this the module that happens before, the one you wanted me to write for you?
So is this the module that happens before, the one you wanted me to write for you?

Yes, that´s correct.

In our campaign, we played The Wizards Amulet (1st level), The Crucible of Freya (2nd), Destiny of Kings (1st-4th), Sons of Gruumsh (4th), and then Red Hand of Doom (5th-10th). City of the Spiderqueen (10th-18th) will be the grand finale of our huge campaign.

We played our first RHoD session yesterday and I will post our events on Sunday.
So, the heroes are back in Melvaunt having defeated the Orc Warlord Thrull and his plans to unite the Orc-tribes of [b]Thar[/B in(Sons of Gruumsh). They spent a couple of weeks resting, training and resupplying. The letter they found in the orc citadel Xûl-Jarak is indeed worrysome and hints of war in the south of Faerun. In a place called Misty Vale (Elsir Vale). The heroes know that they must travel to Misty Vale to inform the inhabitants of this lurking danger. They used the letter of credit they got from one of the noble families as a ticket for one of the ships that crosses the Moonsea and head south through the Dragon Reach and continued to cross the gigantic Sea of Fallen Stars. They continued south through the Vilhon Reach and sailed down the river Nagaflow and the lake Nagawater. After many weeks at sea they ended up in Ormpetarr a town on the trade route of the Golden Road. There they enlisted as guards for a caravan heading further south and eventually they passed Lake Lhespen (Lake Rhest) and entered their goal, Misty Vale.

As they got closer to the vale they heard stories of war from people they met. It seemed that war is imminent and the small towns in the valley were trying to prepare for it. But as the heroes travelled through villages and towns it was obvious that these peaceful farming communities are not used to defend themselves. The militias being set up looked incompetent and weak. The adventurers were not comforted by what they saw.

The heroes are:

Geth Helder, Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish, 3rd/2nd/1st
Eluard, Aasimar Cleric/Church Inquisitor, 5th/1st
Anor, Elven Ranger, 6th
Eruan, Elven Warmage, 4th
Falrinn, Svirfneblin Druid, 2nd
Vrinn, Drow Rogue, 1st


We played with Geth Helder, Eluard, Anor, and Eruan as main characters, and used Falrinn and Vrinn as cohorts. They are low-level PCs played by new players. This is a method we use to introduce new players and new PCs into our campaign. RHoD is designed for 4 PCs of 5th-6th level so our main PCs are spot on.

As the players entered the woods just north of Drellin´s Ferry, they were victims of a well-staged and fierce ambush. Arrows rained down on them from fortified positions up in the tree-crowns, as the PCs franticly prepared for battle. They were lucky with their spot checks though. Only Geth Helder was surprised. But he rolled a high initiative instead. As did I the DM! The RHoD warriors are disciplined and trained. They know their targets. They fired primarily against the spellcasters and the point man Anor who carried a visible Mighty Hunting Composite Longbow +3 (+3 Str). They scored several hits on Anor, Eruan, and Eluard, but no serious damage. The Hellhounds rushed out from the undergrowth and breathed fire on Anor and Eluard. Anor started feeling the pressure as he got hit again by arrows from the snipers. Anor took off into the trees trying to get cover. Eruan pounded the enemy marksmen with his offensive spells Magic Missile, Snowball Storm, and Lesser Acid Orb. Farlinn castSummoned Natures Ally wardogs and used his animal companion, an owl, to distract enemy shooters. The enemy Cleric failed with Hold Person and Command. The low DCs being no problem for lucky players and experienced heroes! But it´s a tough battle that lingers on. Eluard started using his spells to boost hitpoints and with Prayer he boosted their rolls +1 and at the same time lowered enemies rolls -1. Vrinn started running empty on arrows, having only 10 arrows total. The enemy Blade Bearer scored a few hits but then missed a lot. I guess he was nervous when he saw his comrades fall. The heroes took out the Hellhounds pretty easy, and when also the enemy Cleric fell they were in control of the situation. Eruan was brutally effective with his spells that killed a lot of enemy troops. Anor can fire 3 arrows per round (Rapid Shot + 2 attacks) and started to take out the snipers in the trees. When our session ended only 3 enemy marksmen remained up in the trees. The battle already won.

But with victory comes many questions. Have the enemy already built up blockades and ambush-sites around the Misty Vale? Where is the enemy army located? Are they near? How much time do the heroes have to prepare for war? Where is Vraath Keep where the alledged commander Wyrmlord Koth resides?

Hopefully next session will provide a few answers! (in 4 days time)
I really liked how you stuck the regulars up in the trees instead of behind them..that makes for interesting tactics. The goblin bladebearer in my adventure wreaked havoc.. so lucky for your players he missed.. I look forward to your next installment.
Chris
I really liked how you stuck the regulars up in the trees instead of behind them..that makes for interesting tactics. The goblin bladebearer in my adventure wreaked havoc.. so lucky for your players he missed.. I look forward to your next installment.
Chris

Thanks Cris! Next gaming session is now on Wednesday the 31st of May. I will post shortly after!

And yes, Red Hand of Doom is a well-trained and highly motivated military unit. The adventure states on p.16 that the hobgoblin regulars would even prefer to die before divulging any information at all to the PCs! The marauders executing the ambush also had officers with them (the cleric and bladebearer) and so they were able to organize a very dangerous ambush.

Their goal is to prevent any persons to enter Drellin´s Ferry, i.e. cut off the road into the town. They don´t want any reinforcements into the town.

The marauders had built platforms up in the tree-crowns, and the Hell Hounds were ready to go from the house up on the hill. The Bladebearer rushed through the trees to charge the heroes, and I had the cleric hiding behind the trees trying to "hold person" and "command". But he never succeeded.

It was a tough battle that lasted more than 10 rounds. I had all the marksmen (12 hobgoblins) up in the trees on securely built wooden platforms. They had excellent view over the road, and ofcourse 50% cover from the tree, leaves, and the wooden platform.

My players are extremely experienced, some with 20 years gaming experience, so they adopted very quickly to the situation. They spread themselves out and rushed into the woods getting cover themselves from the trees.

The hobgoblin Bladebearer was indeed a tough guy but Geth Helder, the Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish 3rd/2nd/1st, massacred him! Geth started his "Dervish Dance" and could muster 4 attacks per round! His light weapons, a keen shortsword and a keen scimitar of corrosion cut through the bladebearer as a hot knife through butter! Geth Helder is a master in melee fighting! Anor, the Elven Ranger 6th level, is an expert marksmen and soon to be "Order of the Initiate". He shoots arrows straight through the heart of the enemies. And Eruan, the Elven Warmage 4th level, pounds the enemies with really tough spells! So my guys can hold their ground.

Next up is social interactions and roleplaying in Drellin´s Ferry, and possibly an assault on Vraath Keep with the assassination of Wyrmlord Koth their main goal. I am very excited to see how they stand up against Koth!!
So, finally we´re back in business!

These were the heroes of last session:

Geth Helder, Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish, 3rd/2nd/1st (6th)
Anor, Elven Ranger, 6th
Eluard, Aasimar Cleric/Church Inquisitor, 5th/1st (6th)
Vrinn, Drow Rogue, 1st
Isilwen, Elven Wizard, 1st


The other guys couldn´t make it this session. The situation is that the heroes have just won the battle against the marauders. They take one prisoner, a hobgoblin, and brings him with them to Drellins Ferry.

The PCs make a very good first impression on the local authorities, with "27" and "22" Diplomacy checks. They gain the trust of Soranna the Guard Captain, and Norro Wiston, Town Speaker. They put the hobgoblin in jail and inform the town council that a huge enemy army is on march towards Drellins Ferry.

Geth Helder starts interrogating the hobgoblin since he speaks goblin. By using "Bluff" he gains a lot of info. Geth manages 5 succesful Bluff attempts! He finds out that Wyrmlord Koth is the commander and that his base is nearby, in the ruins of Vraath Keep. Less than a days travel by foot. They also find out that the RHoD are about to invade the entire valley and that Drellins Ferry is first out! Geth finds out that the army consists of thousands of troops and also monsters like dragons, manticores, and giants.

The players start getting noticably nervous now. They leave the goblin in jail and starts overlooking the map of town. They ask the town council about their forces and guardposts. When they find out that they consist of less than a hundred troops, most of whom are poorly trained militias, they show signs of despair. Nevertheless the PCs start preparing a defensive warplan! They tell the town council that they should build defensive walls and protective cover on the eastern shore. As protection from enemy missile fire and making it more difficult to cross the river. The PCs also instruct the council to build huge stacks of wooden fuel, so they can use fire and smoke to signal for an evacuation very quickly. They also ask the ferry owners to prepare to destroy and/or abandon the ferry very quickly when need be. The PCs ask the council to send messengers with fast horses to the neighbouring towns, informing them as well that war is about. Finally, they instruct the council to inform the citizens to prepare for a fast evacuation when need be.

I was impressed by my players fast realisation that an evacuation is the only realistic way to deal with this. I will also award them the appropriate XP for this!

My players also got to hear a rumour about a spy in town. First they suspected the Dwarven smith, since they heard he had some kind of religious stuff going on in his shack. But after they found out about Wyrmlord Koth being less than a day away, they got busy with making plans for that. However, I am sure they will deal with the spy-rumour as soon as they have time.

The players have been befriending most of the significant NPCs by now: the Wizard, the Cleric, the Guard Captain, and the Town Speaker. Bringing a hobgoblin prisoner with them, and the great success with Diplomacy has made them very popular in town.

Next session will probably see my players taking on Wyrmlord Koth. I will be back as soon as next session is over. Next Tuesday 18th July.
Just wondering -- isn't Misty Vale the name of the forest at the western edge of the recommended RHoD setting in the FR? As far as I can tell, the actual area is called either Channath Vale, The Shaareach, or nothing, depending on what map of the Forgotten Realms you look at. I know it doesn't really matter.

I'm planning on running RHoD in 'Channath Vale', and I'm relocating Sons of Gruumsh to Channathgate, so that the players will have a bit more connection with the vale when war comes and might feel better (and more inclined) to want to save it than if they just happened to be passing through looking for some old keep with treasure. I was thinking of rather than having them get free passage on ships, they get a map of Vraath Keep and are asked by the nobleman to go see if they can find the deed to his dead relative's place so he can claim it for himself ... of course the players can always choose not to take the deed (assuming they find it) back to him.

Also -- would anyone care to address the fact that on the cover of RHoD it states that it's an adventure for levels 6-12, but in the introduction it says levels 5-10. Is the 6-12 just a typo on the cover? The text seems to indicate that the PCs should be level 5 when they start, but it doesn't really give any indication of where they should be when they finish (although they're supposed to be around 8th level when they go to the Ghost Lord's lair, if I remember correctly).

One last thing -- is it just me, or does the scale on most of the maps in RHoD bear no relation to the distances as described in the text? For instance, the text on page 50 reads "It's about 50 miles to Lake Rhest, and another 80 miles to the old city", but if you use the scale on the map on page 51, it's only about 20 miles from the bottom of the lake to the place marked 'c' (the ruined city) on the map. Any thoughts?

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

~ David G. Allen

 

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Just wondering -- isn't Misty Vale the name of the forest at the western edge of the recommended RHoD setting in the FR? As far as I can tell, the actual area is called either Channath Vale, The Shaareach, or nothing, depending on what map of the Forgotten Realms you look at. I know it doesn't really matter.

I'm planning on running RHoD in 'Channath Vale', and I'm relocating Sons of Gruumsh to Channathgate, so that the players will have a bit more connection with the vale when war comes and might feel better (and more inclined) to want to save it than if they just happened to be passing through looking for some old keep with treasure. I was thinking of rather than having them get free passage on ships, they get a map of Vraath Keep and are asked by the nobleman to go see if they can find the deed to his dead relative's place so he can claim it for himself ... of course the players can always choose not to take the deed (assuming they find it) back to him.

Also -- would anyone care to address the fact that on the cover of RHoD it states that it's an adventure for levels 6-12, but in the introduction it says levels 5-10. Is the 6-12 just a typo on the cover? The text seems to indicate that the PCs should be level 5 when they start, but it doesn't really give any indication of where they should be when they finish (although they're supposed to be around 8th level when they go to the Ghost Lord's lair, if I remember correctly).

One last thing -- is it just me, or does the scale on most of the maps in RHoD bear no relation to the distances as described in the text? For instance, the text on page 50 reads "It's about 50 miles to Lake Rhest, and another 80 miles to the old city", but if you use the scale on the map on page 51, it's only about 20 miles from the bottom of the lake to the place marked 'c' (the ruined city) on the map. Any thoughts?

Actually, you can pretty much play RHoD where ever you like. Your solution seems fine.

I chose the recommended place in FR, Misty Vale, beacuse it´s an almost perfect copy of the Elsir Vale in the RHoD adventure! If you superimpose it you will see that!

I had my players travel all the way from Thar up in the North where SoG takes place. They did it because they found a letter that I put in the private quarters of Thrull the Orc Warlord. My players are set om stopping the war in the South at all costs! They lost 3 friends in SoG and they don´t want their friends memory to be spoiled!

The RHoD is for 5th-10th levels! The first encounter is a EL 8. It actually says 6th-12th both on the back and front of the cover which is completely wrong.

Regarding your notions on PC levels throughout the adventure...Remember that the PCs should only get XP´s for their actions, not automatically by chapter! XP is an AWARD, not something they can count on! So be sure to award them XP´s when they achieve success, and do not give out XP´s when they do not achieve anything! If they do not achieve sufficient success, they should not be able to threaten the main characters as the Ghost Lord, or Wyrmlord Kharn! It´s as simple as that imho.

You are quite right with the anamolies regarding the map and the text. Usually the text is correct when it differs from the map.
Hi Caligula,

Thanks for responding. I'm going to be using the recommended placing in the FR for RHoD, and my query was on what it's actually called. From looking at the most recent map of the Realms, it seems to me like 'The Misty Vale' is just a forest between the Wyrmbones and the Dun Hills. The actual area that is synonymous with Elsir Vale is called variously 'The Shaareach', 'Channath Vale', or on the latest map, nothing. Obviously, if you've decided to call it Misty Vale, that's all cool. Just thought I'd clarify my comment.

I too am going to do the SoG --> RHoD, but I thought it too much of a stretch to have the Red Hand influence go all the way up to Thar when all they're planning (atm) is domination of one little vale, not the whole world. So I'm going to move SoG to Channathgate and have Xul-Jarak be in the Rathgaunt Hills. (Which is not to belittle or criticize your choices.)

Thanks for letting me know about the intended levels (6-12). Are you certain the maps are correct and not the text? It was my understanding that where tables disagree with text, the latter is what you should defer to ... so I just assumed it would be the same with maps.

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

~ David G. Allen

 

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Hi Caligula,

Thanks for responding. I'm going to be using the recommended placing in the FR for RHoD, and my query was on what it's actually called. From looking at the most recent map of the Realms, it seems to me like 'The Misty Vale' is just a forest between the Wyrmbones and the Dun Hills. The actual area that is synonymous with Elsir Vale is called variously 'The Shaareach', 'Channath Vale', or on the latest map, nothing. Obviously, if you've decided to call it Misty Vale, that's all cool. Just thought I'd clarify my comment.

I too am going to do the SoG --> RHoD, but I thought it too much of a stretch to have the Red Hand influence go all the way up to Thar when all they're planning (atm) is domination of one little vale, not the whole world. So I'm going to move SoG to Channathgate and have Xul-Jarak be in the Rathgaunt Hills. (Which is not to belittle or criticize your choices.)

Thanks for letting me know about the intended levels (6-12). Are you certain the maps are correct and not the text? It was my understanding that where tables disagree with text, the latter is what you should defer to ... so I just assumed it would be the same with maps.

Hi again Pukunui!

Sorry I misunderstood your question! Your choice seems excellent btw!

I just followed the instructions in RHoD and I used the name "Misty Vale" for simplicitys sake. You are correct on the names issue.

It´s also correct that usually the text should be considered just when it differs vs tables or other illustrations. But since the text was faulty regarding PC levels, I decided to go with the maps and it seems to work thus far.

If you really want to make sure you should ofcourse try and get a second and third opinion, since I´m not 100% sure.

Cool that you also decided to hook SoG - RHoD! It works excellent! as you can read in the beginning of my thread (above) I had the Orcs of Thar conspiring with the RHoD to actually try and conquor vast parts of Faerun´s centre. This was only the beginning. If the Orc tribes of Thar had indeed united under the Warlord Thrull, Melvaunt and the whole of the northern Moonsea region would be threatened. As would probably Shaar if RHoD could keep their army together. And that would not make the geographial distance that great anymore. Travelling over sea is much faster than overland.

Anyway, good luck and I hope to see some feedback from your later experiences!
Thanks for responding again, Caligula. I'm glad to hear that the map distances seem to be working out for you. I'll have a good look at the distance inconsistencies when it comes closer to the time that I'll be starting the adventure.

BTW, I can see how your tie-in between SoG and RHoD would work in that respect. I may have already mentioned this, but my other reason for moving SoG to the vale was so that my players will become more familiar with the area and - hopefully! - will gain some affection for the land and its people and will feel more inclined to save it when the opportunity arises. I'm also planning on running some short 'filler' adventures prior to SoG in the area as well.

I hope everything goes well at your next session, and I'm looking forward to reading all about it. Unfortunately my group has only just started, and as there are two noobs, I figured we'd better start from level 1, so it'll probably be many months before we get to SoG, let alone RHoD ... sigh! I am soo looking forward to RHoD. Despite it's little inconsistencies, it looks to be a truly awesome adventure.

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

~ David G. Allen

 

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Thanks for responding again, Caligula. I'm glad to hear that the map distances seem to be working out for you. I'll have a good look at the distance inconsistencies when it comes closer to the time that I'll be starting the adventure.

BTW, I can see how your tie-in between SoG and RHoD would work in that respect. I may have already mentioned this, but my other reason for moving SoG to the vale was so that my players will become more familiar with the area and - hopefully! - will gain some affection for the land and its people and will feel more inclined to save it when the opportunity arises. I'm also planning on running some short 'filler' adventures prior to SoG in the area as well.

I hope everything goes well at your next session, and I'm looking forward to reading all about it. Unfortunately my group has only just started, and as there are two noobs, I figured we'd better start from level 1, so it'll probably be many months before we get to SoG, let alone RHoD ... sigh! I am soo looking forward to RHoD. Despite it's little inconsistencies, it looks to be a truly awesome adventure.

Well, if its any comfort I can guarantee you that SoG was an excellent experience! I have posted our experinces here at the "adventures" forum under the name "Sons of Gruumsh - Share your experiences!". We had so much fun playing that one!

We have only started RHoD but I have read through the whole thing and it looks awesome! My players are just about to move up to Vraath Keep and deal with Wyrmlord Koth and his squad. That will be one tough encounter!
I'm glad you liked SoG. I've read through it, and I think it makes for a good dungeon crawl / 'rescue' adventure ... but I have to say, there really wasn't much of an orc horde that I could see, despite what the blurb on the back cover says.

Also, how did you get your PCs into SoG? The beginning seems a bit contrived to me -- the PCs are supposed to start already having been contacted by Lord Nasher and they enter the city with passes he sent them ... but the missing scions have only been gone for 5 days, so the PCs must have been close by, and they must have been famous enough that Nasher would send for them when they're outside the city (rather than look for suitable rescuers within the city itself). I'm planning on having them be in the city (in this case, Channathgate) already, and have Lord Nasher hire them as soon as he figures out that his son isn't coming back.

In terms of linking SoG with RHoD, I was planning on replacing the Zhentil Keep emissaries with representatives of the Red Hand Horde. I was contemplating having one of the high wyrmlords from RHoD, but I'm not sure yet if that's a good idea or not.

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

~ David G. Allen

 

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I'm glad you liked SoG. I've read through it, and I think it makes for a good dungeon crawl / 'rescue' adventure ... but I have to say, there really wasn't much of an orc horde that I could see, despite what the blurb on the back cover says.

Also, how did you get your PCs into SoG? The beginning seems a bit contrived to me -- the PCs are supposed to start already having been contacted by Lord Nasher and they enter the city with passes he sent them ... but the missing scions have only been gone for 5 days, so the PCs must have been close by, and they must have been famous enough that Nasher would send for them when they're outside the city (rather than look for suitable rescuers within the city itself). I'm planning on having them be in the city (in this case, Channathgate) already, and have Lord Nasher hire them as soon as he figures out that his son isn't coming back.

In terms of linking SoG with RHoD, I was planning on replacing the Zhentil Keep emissaries with representatives of the Red Hand Horde. I was contemplating having one of the high wyrmlords from RHoD, but I'm not sure yet if that's a good idea or not.

Pukunui, you keep getting back with good questions as you are very perceptive! I will try and answer them.

I had my players staying at an inn just outside of Melvaunt. Lord Woarsten Nanther sent out 2 of his closest men to find a group of seasoned adventurers and ofcourse my guys were chosen! I had the Nanther henchmen acting mysterious, not revealing to much information at first. They were hiding their faces in their hoods, talking of "sensitive matters that be best discussed in private". The PCs were brought to the residence of Lord Nanther and eventually briefed by the Lord himself. After that only a day of detective work took place before my guys set out to the north and Thar.

My players are very exoerincd and their PCs are quite tough, so I boosted some of the orcs and ogres in SoG. Added som equipment as potions and weapons. Remember that the entire citadel is surrounded by many orc tribes which probably constitutes hundreds if not thousands of orcs! I had my players sneaking through the area in the dense fog, but still describing all the noices of brawling, swordplay, and orc-feasting. My players also killed a couple of orcs that they bumped into in the fog, just prior to climbing the hill and the citadels walls. Even if my players managed to get up stealtihly they were later discovered and one hell of a battle took off! For more detailed info please see my other thread "Sons of Gruumsh - share your experiences!" here at the "Adventure"-thread!

Your idea of changing the Zhentarim emissaries is a good ide. I doubt Zhentarims would be that far south. However, I would probably recommend against having one of the key Wyrmlords there, as they are integral for the RHoD adventure. Your players might kill him too early you know! Why not leave a letter depicting some of the warplans for the region? That way your players will be ver curious in finding out more about the RHoD organization!
Pukunui, you keep getting back with good questions as you are very perceptive! I will try and answer them.

Thanks mate! Just trying to plan ahead and make it as believeable as possible for my troops. :D

Your ideas are pretty good, too. I'll have to go back and re-read the section of SoG where the PCs approach the citadel. I must have missed the thousands of orcs hiding in the mist ... lol.

I agree that I shouldn't use one of the Wyrmlords from RHoD. I was actually contemplating making a new one up -- so if the PCs kill him, it won't matter. But it would be better just to use some upper-echelon hobgoblins as emissaries, I think. They'll be there trying to convince Thrull to combine his army with the Red Hand Horde rather than strike out on his own.

I also just discovered the "Use This Book Tonight" web encounter that's linked on the RHoD product description page. It's just a little encounter with some Red Hand hobgoblins who are trying to convince an ogre to join them. I was thinking of running it around Nimon Gap (it seems to fit best there) as the PCs are heading towards Drellin's Ferry. It'll create one more connection to the Vale for the PCs and hopefully make them want to save it all the more.

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

~ David G. Allen

 

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Thanks mate! Just trying to plan ahead and make it as believeable as possible for my troops. :D

Your ideas are pretty good, too. I'll have to go back and re-read the section of SoG where the PCs approach the citadel. I must have missed the thousands of orcs hiding in the mist ... lol.

I agree that I shouldn't use one of the Wyrmlords from RHoD. I was actually contemplating making a new one up -- so if the PCs kill him, it won't matter. But it would be better just to use some upper-echelon hobgoblins as emissaries, I think. They'll be there trying to convince Thrull to combine his army with the Red Hand Horde rather than strike out on his own.

I also just discovered the "Use This Book Tonight" web encounter that's linked on the RHoD product description page. It's just a little encounter with some Red Hand hobgoblins who are trying to convince an ogre to join them. I was thinking of running it around Nimon Gap (it seems to fit best there) as the PCs are heading towards Drellin's Ferry. It'll create one more connection to the Vale for the PCs and hopefully make them want to save it all the more.

Well, the text is very abstract only mentioning that "orc tribes have gathered around the citadel to bear witness to Thrulls crowning of Orc Warlord". So you can adjust it to your own needs. However, remember that the Orc Warlord will unite all the orc tribes of Thar, so I should recommend you to make it awesome! I had my players hearing wardrums, loud noises from brawling and fighting orcs, etc.

Myself I´m planning for the Vraath Keep encounter. My players are set on going there next session and either kill or capture Wyrmlord Koth. Since my players killed all of the marauders (actually captured and interrogated one also!) and left none to report back to Koth, I´m actually planning to have Koth reinforcing his headquarters at Vraath Keep. The text describes the units at Vraath Keep as not being watchful, but I find that hard to believe considering the recent events and the situation as a whole. I will have them on alert and perhaps reinforcing with a couple of worgriders and hobgoblin regulars. I will also add a couple of simple magic items and potions. Wyrmlord Koth is after all an army commander and can easily require simple items as that. I will also add 1 Fighter level to Karkilan, the minotaur chief officer. I find it hard to believe that Wyrmlord Koth´s right hand man and an officer in a huge amry doesn´t even have a single level of fighter! I know this will raise the ECL of this encounter, but the first one was ECL 8 (the marauders) so I still think it´s inline with the story and the difficulty level.

Any comments on my propositions?
Those sound like reasonable adjustments, Caligula. Obviously I haven't gotten to the planning stage with RHoD (months away yet!), but I'll have to keep your thoughts in mind when I do, as I like the way you're going with them. It does make sense to have the guys at Vraath Keep more watchful -- after all, they should be full of excitement at the prospect of their impending invasion, not lolligagging about with boredom from being stuck in some remote outpost -- that would make more sense if they were just defending their homeland than if they were part of a gathering army. They should be restless and spoiling for a fight. And yes, Karkilan should be a bit beefer. Hopefully, though, none of your players will do what happened to that other guy who posted his RHoD experiences -- he said the party's rogue snuck in and killed Karkilan in his sleep.

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~ David G. Allen

 

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Those sound like reasonable adjustments, Caligula. Obviously I haven't gotten to the planning stage with RHoD (months away yet!), but I'll have to keep your thoughts in mind when I do, as I like the way you're going with them. It does make sense to have the guys at Vraath Keep more watchful -- after all, they should be full of excitement at the prospect of their impending invasion, not lolligagging about with boredom from being stuck in some remote outpost -- that would make more sense if they were just defending their homeland than if they were part of a gathering army. They should be restless and spoiling for a fight. And yes, Karkilan should be a bit beefer. Hopefully, though, none of your players will do what happened to that other guy who posted his RHoD experiences -- he said the party's rogue snuck in and killed Karkilan in his sleep.

Hehe, I can promise you Pukunui that Karkilan will NOT be asleep when my players enter Vraath Keep... ;)

As I see it the writer saw the Vraath Keep encounter as a potential death trap for the PCs so he scaled it down by having the soldiers off guard. I mean, operating like this behind enemy lines and NOT keeping guardposts is just rubbish. It really lowers the in-game reality. So that´s the main reason for me changing things so it seems more logic. Another reason is ofcourse the fact that the marauders who are supposed to cut off the traderoute into Drellins Ferry were completely eliminated by the PCs. Wyrmlord Koth would ofcourse increase his forces at Vraath Keep AND post extra guards after that. Remember that he keeps getting intelligence reports from his marauders and scouts, so he would immediately know that his men were killed when the reports stopped coming in.

I prefer in-game reality to meta-gaming. I will do my adjustments as I see them as logic consequences to my players actions.

Too bad you´re not playing RHoD yet for a couple of months! Must be tough having to wait...But I guess Sons of Gruumsh can still your hunger for now!
Sadly, I'm not even up to SoG yet! My players' PCs are still only 1st level ... I'm also sharing DM duties with another person in my group - we switch roles everry other week, so I only get to do my campaign every two weeks. Oh the anticipation ... sigh!

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

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Sadly, I'm not even up to SoG yet! My players' PCs are still only 1st level ... I'm also sharing DM duties with another person in my group - we switch roles everry other week, so I only get to do my campaign every two weeks. Oh the anticipation ... sigh!

So how will you plan your campaign? Which adventure will you start out with?

If you would like some recommendations I would suggest "The Wizards Amulet", free download at www.necromancergames.com. It´s a first class 1st level adventure. And you can continue that adventure with the sequel "The Crucible of Freya" which is for 2nd level PCs and also first class! Actually, I have bought loads of adventures from Necromancer Games as they are great! The adventure "The Vault of Larin Karr" 4th-9th levels is the best adventure I have ever played!!!
Well, I started out with the free WotC 1st-level adventure "A Dark and Stormy Knight". That took up the first two sessions. I was then thinking of using the MM Web Enhancement "Hobgoblin Outpost" next, but I'm beginning to think it might be way too difficult for 1st-level PCs as written ... I've got a few other things, like the free WotC 3rd-level adventure "Dry Spell" for them to do, but I'm hoping to get them into position by 4th-level so they can start SoG and then go directly into RHoD after that.

I'm a little unclear at this point what I'm going to do next, though. I'll have a look at that necromancer games site. Thanks.

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Well, I started out with the free WotC 1st-level adventure "A Dark and Stormy Knight". That took up the first two sessions. I was then thinking of using the MM Web Enhancement "Hobgoblin Outpost" next, but I'm beginning to think it might be way too difficult for 1st-level PCs as written ... I've got a few other things, like the free WotC 3rd-level adventure "Dry Spell" for them to do, but I'm hoping to get them into position by 4th-level so they can start SoG and then go directly into RHoD after that.

I'm a little unclear at this point what I'm going to do next, though. I'll have a look at that necromancer games site. Thanks.

Yes, we´ve played that one too, Dark and Stormy Knight...Great fun actually!

Necromancer Games have excellent adventures - among the best that I´ve ever played. The Vault of Larin Karr is actually the best adventure I have ever played in my 20+ years of D&D!

Our next session will be on Sunday in 2 days time, so I´m laying out the last lines for the Vraath Keep encounter. But my players are tricky so I´m gonna have to prepare for other incidents as well. But we finished last session with them going to bed, planning to raid Vraath Keep early at dawn. I guess Wyrmlord Koth´s days are numbered, but I will play him as a very sneaky guy. Using "Fly" and "Invisiblity" to escape if the battle goes wrong. I will play Koth´s soldiers and Karkilan as religious fanatics that fight until the last drop of blood.....Muahhaaaaaahaaaaa! :D
Good luck!

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The latest from Wyrmlord Koth:

After not having heard anything from his detachment by the Old North road for 24 hours, Wyrmlord Koth has ordered to increase guard duty att Vraath Keep.

One of the two Worg Riders patrol the close perimeter at all times. At day time 1 Hobgoblin Veteran guards the main entrance, and 1 is hidden behind a huge rock a bit further off. At night 2 Hobgoblin Veterans are posted by the main entrance. Koth has also ordered Karkilan and the Manticore to be ready for intruders.

For each day that passes and Koth doesn´t hear anything from the units by the Old North Road, more steps will be taken to secure his headquarters at Vraath Keep. This include requiring more troops staying at the HQ instead of roaming the neighboring areas. An additional 2 Worg Riders and 4 Hobgoblin Veterans will be posted at Vraath Keep on the 3rd or 4th day (50% chance on the 3rd).

Needless to say the PCs better get their job done before that! My players made plans to strike on day 2, so if they stick to that I guess things can work out fine. But it is still one tough encounter, and I know just how to play it through from the bad guys perspective...

Our session starts tonight at 18:00 CET. This will be a bloody and violent session. In the name of Tiamat! :evillaugh
Enter Tatanka. The heroes encounter a Human Ranger 1st level that is being introduced by our new player Stefan L. Tatanka´s favorite enemy is Goblinoids and he carries a Might Comp. Longbow Str +2. He has the feats Point Blank Shot and Precise Shot. He also carries 20 arrows +1.

The heroes woke up at dawn. They visited the wizard Sertieren to pick up their scrolls of Fireball that they commissioned the night before. They also talked to Capt. Soranna. "Our mission is clear" they told her. "We will go to Vraath Keep and kill or capture Wyrmlord Koth".

It was a sunny and dry day. The PCs walking the Old North Road up north towards the keep were:

Anor, Elven Ranger, 6th
Geth Helder, Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish, 3rd/2nd/1st
Ilzzt, Drow Fighter/Wizard, 5th/1st
Eluard, Aasimar Cleric/Church Inquisitor, 5th/1st
Tatanka, Human Ranger, 1st


Halfway to the keep they encountered the remnants of the marauders they took out the day before. The bodies were severed by animals, but the players were happy to see that apparently no one from the RHoD have discovered the bodies. They started digging to get rid of the bodies. Suddenly a flock of Stirges swept down from the trees. The PCs were surprised and the horrible bloodsuckers drained them of their blood. Ilzzt lost 7 Con (!) and felt weak all over...He lost about 50% of his Hps as well. Disaster struck on their way to this important battle! But they knew they had to move on.

As they approached Vraath Keep they heard a moaning sound that seemed to come from the tower. They also saw a Worgrider patrolling the perimeter of the glade where the keep was situated. They noticed 2 Hobgoblin guards by the main entrance. As the Worgrider rode closer the Worg seemed to pick up their scent. First he stopped, and then he moved slowly towards the trees where the PCs hid. The PCs carefully stepped deeper into the forest hoping to lure the Worgrider to follow. And he did. As the Worg was swallowed by the dense leaves the PCs fired their arrows. They slew the Worg, but the Worgrider managed to get away. Atleast a couple of feet before he also was struck down by arrows. But he managed to cry for help and the PCs noticed movement by the gate. They withdrew, preparing to fight the next day instead.

Eluard, the Aasimar Cleric, said his prayer for Lesser Restoration after their 8 tranquile hours of rest. The group was now almost completely healed from the bloodloss of the stirges. They circled around Vraath Keep trying to find another entrance from behind. It was a deep night, but Ilzzt, the drow, could see a huge hole on the second floor of the tower. He also saw yellow light and they heard a moaning sound again...

Ilzzt drank a potion of Fly and flew up into the tower. He saw the corpse and identified the Continual light. The players started to believe that the rumor they heard in Drellins Ferry about Vraath Keep being haunted may be true. "Perhaps we can set the ghost free so Koth and his minions must flee" one player suggested. I smiled viciously..... :D
Ilzzt also heard a voice from downstairs muttering something in a strange language. He heard a very low and heavy voice replying. He identified the last word in the sentence as "Koth".

Assured that Wyrmlord Koth was nearby Ilzzt flew back to his comrades hiding in the trees. Now they all swallowed potions of Fly, or activated the Griffon Rings that they got from their friends in Melvaunt during Sons of Gruumsh. They all flew up to to the tower. They all heard voices from downstairs.

The players were now starting to realize the importance of their next decision. They were sure they could achieve surprise. After several minutes of contemplating and discussions, they charged downstairs. Ilzzt was followed by the Swashbuckler Geth Helder, and then Eluard the Cleric. As Ilzzt flew down the stairs Karkilan, the Minotaur bodyguard of Koth, was waiting for him. He swung his greataxe but Ilzzt quick reflexes made him miss! Bricks fell down from the wall behind due to the heavy impackt! Ilzzt´s player was all white in face. He knew that one of those mighty blows might kill him right away. But that was not all! Wyrmlord Koth stood right opposite Ilzzt and fired his Lightning Bolt spell. He penetrated Ilzzt´s Spell Resistance but again Ilzzt´s agility saved him. He only took half damage.

Unfortunately it´s 2 am IRL and we were all very tired. So we paused the game there with the following initiative order:

Wyrmlord Koth 16, Karkilan 15, Ilzzt 10 (next to act), Geth Helder 9, Anor 8, Tatanka 7, Eluard 5.

All players managed low initiative rolls. One funny thing was that the new PC Taranka, shot 4 shots, hit 4 times and killed 3 enemies! (2 Stirges, 1 Worgrider). The new player was all smiles when he left the session tonight!!!

I guess we could have played on for another hour or so, but the players didn´t want to play this battle out tired. They realize the dangerous opposition here and they need to be focused.

Next session is on Tuesday 2 days from now.

To be continued.....
Tonight at 18:00 CET we will finish the battle of Vraath Keep.

The heroes have encountered a Bugbear Sorcerer believed to be Wyrmlord Koth, and his bodyguard Karkilan the minotaur. Since the players sneaked up from behind, using the hole in the tower, they have encountered these two without the other goblinoids. In what seems to be a good position to strike. Unfortunately the enemy were ready for combat and Ilzzt got struck with a Lightning Bolt for 11 damage, and almost got hit by Karkilans powerful Greataxe as well.

I know my players are nervous for this session, they just told me on msn messenger. But I also know they really want to capture or kill Koth really bad! So they won´t retreat until things are really, really bad.

I will post details from the session as soon as possible tonight!
Ilzzt parried the mighty blow of the Minotaur Karkilan and counterstroke with amazing speed, cuting a deep wound in the Minotaurs chest. Behind Ilzzt his friend Geth Helder used tumble to pass through into the room, trying to reach Wyrmlord Koth with his Dervish Dance and magic Corrosive scimitars.

Anor and Tatanka tried to get line of sight with their bows, but only Anor could see Karkilan behind the wall-cover. Eluard the Cleric used spells as Prayer and Blessed Aim to aid his friends in battle.

Wyrmlord Koth shouted in goblin to Karkilan: "The map, hold them while I secure the map!". Unaware that Geth Helder speaks goblin.

And the battle continued fiercly.....Ilzzt avoided Karkilans mighty blows once more, and cut him again and again and again. But Ilzzt´s player was starting to get nervous. Karkilan was still standing and he knew that one good hit from the Minotaur might drop him. So Eluard used Hold Person to try and freeze him.

At the same time Koth had alarmed his minions, and a Worgrider charged into the room attacking Geth Helder. Another 3 Hobgoblin Veterans stormed in and fired their bows on the PCs. Koth ran away, and Geth tried to follow, desperately realizing the importance of the map! However, he was surrounded by the minions and failed.

Karkilan failed his save vs Hold Person and Anor killed him with a coup de grace. However, the Manticore had landed behind Tarankaup in the tower and fired his spikes into him. With 42 damage the brave Taranka was killed instantly. The Manticore advanced further, now attacking Anor in the back. He got hit for 29 damage and the players were now surrounded. However, Geth Helder dropped a Hobgoblin and tumbled to the other side of the room, trying to help out his friend Anor with the Manticore. Eventually he cut into the Manticores body, his magically Corrosive scimitars eating into the flesh of the creature. The Manticore was badly wounded and retreated flying into the dark night. Wyrmlord Koth entered flying and stroke Geth Helder with a Lightning Bolt for 24 damage. Geth was now badly wounded, but the cowardly Koth retreated when the Drow Ilzzt came running towards him.

So both Koth and the Manticore retreated into the dark of the night. Eluard summoned a Celestial Hippogriff and the heroes battled it out with the Worg, Goblin Worgrider, and 3 Hobgoblin Veterans. The Worg dropped and the Goblin Worgrider retreated together with the Goblin Veterans. They used ranged attacks with their bows and took cover behind boulders and objects in the barracks. The heroes followed suit but each side missed a lot of shots. But finally a Hobgoblin droped followed by another. When the third and final so dropped, the Goblin Worgrider took off. At the same time Ilzzt drank a potion of Invisibility and flew just outside of the barracks. With his 120 ft darkvision he could see Wyrmlord Koth and the Manticore flying and circling above. In his hand, Ilzzt had a scroll of Fireball....

To be continued!


This is where the session ended and it just can´t get anymore exciting than this!!!

Next session will probably be a marathon session on Sunday from 10 am to 3 am following morning. Following Tuesday is the session after that, so we will play a lot these couple of days.
Wow. Exciting! I can't wait to try my own hand at this totally awesome adventure. One of my players suggested I increase the XP rewards slightly so the PCs will level up faster so we can get into SoG and RHoD sooner. I just might do that.

Just one comment -- I'm kinda surprised you made your new player start at 1st level when you've been stressing the importance of being at least 6th level in this adventure. It's not at all surprising that he got slaughtered with one hit from the manticore. How is your player handling his PC's swift death? Are the others planning on seeing if they can get him resurrected or is he just going to make another 1st level character that'll get slaughtered in the next encounter? Sorry. That's cynical of me. Seems a bit rough on the noob though. I think I'd let him start at 4th level (unless he's a complete noob and not just new to your game ...)

OK, one more comment -- it says in the tactics that the manticore is dumb and has little loyalty to the Red Hand, so when he gets beat up badly he's gone, but I see you have him still hanging around ... Any particular reason?

Can't wait to hear more!! Keep it coming!

"Patience is the calm acceptance that things can happen in a different order than the one you have in mind."

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Wow. Exciting! I can't wait to try my own hand at this totally awesome adventure. One of my players suggested I increase the XP rewards slightly so the PCs will level up faster so we can get into SoG and RHoD sooner. I just might do that.

Just one comment -- I'm kinda surprised you made your new player start at 1st level when you've been stressing the importance of being at least 6th level in this adventure. It's not at all surprising that he got slaughtered with one hit from the manticore. How is your player handling his PC's swift death? Are the others planning on seeing if they can get him resurrected or is he just going to make another 1st level character that'll get slaughtered in the next encounter? Sorry. That's cynical of me. Seems a bit rough on the noob though. I think I'd let him start at 4th level (unless he's a complete noob and not just new to your game ...)

OK, one more comment -- it says in the tactics that the manticore is dumb and has little loyalty to the Red Hand, so when he gets beat up badly he's gone, but I see you have him still hanging around ... Any particular reason?

Can't wait to hear more!! Keep it coming!

Good questions Pukunui! As always.

First, the adventure should be played by 4 PCs of 6th level. You are correct on that. And that is also our core group. Our new player rolled up a 1st level PC because our house rules states that every new player to the group must start at 1st level. So we introduced Tatanka as a hireling to the coregroup of 4. What this actually means is that he shouldn´t really get up to the front initially. The player running Tatanka was a total newbie to D&D so Tatanka was also used as a means of getting him into the game. Even though Tatanka died, he played quite good and is going to roll up 2 new PCs. We want new player to start at 1st level because we focus on character building, which can only happen when you experience everything together with your character. All our players, we are about 7-8 now that play together, have built their PCs from 1st level!

Second, the manticore is still around because Wyrmlord Koth is still there. The tactical description is very meta-based in my opinion. It´s an escaperoute if the PCs are too weak. Manticores are quite aggressive creatures and the manticore should be obedient to Wyrmlord Koth short of doing suicidal missions. Remember that they are both flying in the protection of the pitchblack night. Waiting to get in a couple of ranged attacks and spells. However, if the heroes fight back effectively even under these circumstances I´m sure they will both escape to live and fight another day.

Even though my players seem to have won this battle, they are upset that Koth got away with the map. I know that the player who plays Ilzzt might get a Fireball away on Koth with his scroll, but the thing is he has heavy armor and the arcane spell failure is 50%, so that will be one heckuva important check for him!!!

I´m of to the country now to get some sun, but I can´t wait to see what happens next too!
Our new player rolled up a 1st level PC because our house rules states that every new player to the group must start at 1st level.

Fair enough. I guess I'm just not used to the way XP rewards work in 3.5 yet. In 2nd edition, monsters had a set amount of XP, and you didn't get more or less depending on your level like you do in 3.5. I actually like the new method better -- it just makes more sense. Anyway, my point is, starting a 1st level character with some 6th level comrades will mean that he or she will undoubtedly catch up fairly quickly -- that is, if the PC survives! LOL.



Even though Tatanka died, he played quite good and is going to roll up 2 new PCs.

Two new PCs?! Is one going to be a backup in case his next one dies as well?

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Pukunui, you are right on the fact that the 3.5 version promotes low-level PCs. They quickly close in on their high-level friends, especially when the opposition have challenge ratings that supersede their own class levels.

But I must also admit that my houserule rise a few eyebrows...The point with the houserule is to promote character building. Making the player live with his PC from day 1. Nothing is more satisfying than a 20th level hero that the player managed all the way on his own. That is what I want to achieve. A sense of bound between the player and his PC.

Most DMs would probably let a new player in RHoD roll up a 6th level PC. I realize that. But I want my players to start from scratch, living day and night with their PC.

It is ofcourse sad when a PC dies, but that is reality. The D&D game and indeed the Forgotten Realms world where our adventures take place, is a deadly world. To compensate for the fact that it is tough for a 1st level PC to join 5th or 6th level heroes on their adventure, I use the "Hireling-rules" DMG p.105. That is, we introduce the new player and his PC as a hireling for the other guys. That way he can learn his trade as an adventurer and still be safe under the protection from his masters. The rules regarding hirelings clearly state that a hireling must be well-treated and respected by his masters, or he might leave or even turn on them. This suggests a relationship that promotes my houserule and system. At least I hope so...I must say that we have had really good experiences with this system. Everyone seems to enjoy it and they are exceptionally proud as their PC gains levels and take more initiative and responsibility within the group. Some of the new PCs that started out less than a year ago are today key members of our adventure group. In Sons of Gruumsh, the Half-Orc Cleric/Fighter Durth saved his friends with a suicide attack on the Warlord Thrull. Durth only joined the group 10 months ago.

To your second question regarding 2 new PCs for our new player....Well, he really liked playing with us! Even though Tatanka died last night. So he will roll up 2 new PCs and use one of them during the RHoD campaign. The other will be in reserve, or perhaps join in on a later adventure. We play every tuesday all year round so we play a lot of adventures. Each player has atleast 2 PCs at all times. Actually, my cousin who I have played with for about 20 years, has 10 PCs currently...

I´m down in the countryside now and we have record-breaking weather with heatwaves and lots of sunshine. Not that often we see that in Sweden, so we might postpone the session on Sunday and Tuesday. But do not despair! The saga of the war against the Red Hand of Doom will continue soon!
Im the player who runs Ilzzt. Note to Caligula (our DM), remember what you as DM knows and what Koth knows. The scroll of fireball was readied just before I turned invisible.

Koth and his manticore are soon dust (i hope). They are, as far as we know, pretty alone now in the keep and we have the initiative. Koth's manticore is severly damaged, and only has one more round of it's spikes, it has already fired 18.

A well placed fireball, a few magical arrows from our ranger and finally a volley of scimitars should put Koth to his knees.

The map must be retrieved and rescued.
Im the player who runs Ilzzt. Note to Caligula (our DM), remember what you as DM knows and what Koth knows. The scroll of fireball was readied just before I turned invisible.

Koth and his manticore are soon dust (i hope). They are, as far as we know, pretty alone now in the keep and we have the initiative. Koth's manticore is severly damaged, and only has one more round of it's spikes, it has already fired 18.

A well placed fireball, a few magical arrows from our ranger and finally a volley of scimitars should put Koth to his knees.

The map must be retrieved and rescued.

We shall see. The mighty Red Hand of Doom will kill you all insignificant worms!!! :evillaugh

Seriously, Ilzzt is indeed invisible and as far as he knows neither Wyrmlord Koth nor the manticore seemed to react when he dashed out to have a peep about. Ilzzt is carrying his scroll of Fireball in his hand. That´s correct. Koth and the manticore are about 60 ft above flying in the air outside the barracks.

The map seems to be very important as Koth ran so desperately to gather it from his conference-room.
Actually, my cousin who I have played with for about 20 years, has 10 PCs currently...

This is mainly because we started out playing a series of adventures with a few guys who dont play with us anymore, and I had to pause those characters at about level 10.

The new players that came in had to start from level 1, and could not join the other level 10 characters in whatever adventure we were to play.

I was (am) also missing a key character class, namely a good cleric. So I could not play with my high level characters by myself. But now Eluard is 6th, soon 7th and at the end of Red Hand of Doom, he should be ready to join the other high level characters in City of the Spiderqueen!

A good thing with "starting from scratch" with new characters is that there are constantly coming new classes and feats, so even though its boring to start from level 1, its nice to build something totally different that might prove to be really awesome in later levels. Like Geth Helder for instance, Swashbuckler to begin with and then a few Fighter levels and now Dervish. When he reaches about 10th level, he will become a Tempest to truly master two weapon fighting. Will be interesting to see if he can match the raw power of my Half-orc Barbarian Thokk who single handedly (almost) struck down a young adult red dragon in 3 rounds!
Exactly. RHoD should finish with PCs at 10th level or slightly below depending on the outcome ofcourse. The campaign will continue with the epic campaign-adventure City of the Spiderqueen which is written for 4 PCs of 10th level.

Currently we have 2-3 PCs ready to go, but we need atleast 2 more to start the CotSQ campaign. I am sure we will be able to do that directly after RHoD.

Personally I am also looking forward to play the adventure campaign Return to the Tomb of Horrors. It is well-written, exciting and like nothing else! Acererak is a magnificent foe indeed.
The time for the next session has been cut in stone: Sunday 11:00 am! I hope to get atleast a good 9-10 hours from that session. 3 players have reported for duty and I hope a 4th one will be back in Stockholm from his vacation in the south...

We will finish the battle against Wyrmlord Koth at Vraath Keep, and then set the other events in motion. My players now understand the pressing danger that threatens the valley. I also think they have realized the urgence of acting with great speed!

(Cant give anymore details beforehand as I suspect my players are reading this thread...) ;)

I will post my recaps late Sunday night!

Caligula
I swear eternal allegiance to the dragon, Tiamat. My life as a servant is for thee and thy course. I am now Wyrmlord and I shall conquor the valley of the inferior humans. I am yours. Yours forever.

-Wyrmlord Koth

Tomorrow we will have a 10-hour session. I have planned everything meticulously. The players will have to be at their peak tomorrow. I know the RHoD guys will.... :evillaugh
Wyrmlord Koth has a few more hours to live, before he bites the dust. Atleast that is the plan hehe. We'll see. War plans are being worked out, plans studied and moves compared.

Be prepared for defeat!
Any kind of attack on a Wyrmlord will be punished fiercely by the higher ranking officers of the Red Hand of Doom!

Civilians will be executed, farms burned, all in the name of Tiamat, the mighty Dragon!

Elsir Vale will suffer for its failure to obey the mighty Wyrmlords!
The heroes are batteling Wyrmlord Koth, a local RHoD commander based at Vraath Keep. By his side is a Manticore.

The heroes are:

Ilzzt, Drow Fighter/Wizard, 5th/1st
Anor, Elven Ranger, 6th
Geth Helder, Human Swashbuckler/Fighter/Dervish, 3rd/2nd/1st
Eluard, Aasimar Cleric/Church Inquisitor, 5th/1st


Kerkilan and the other minions of Koth managed to hold up the PCs so Koth had time to get the important map and activate his magic. Especially Mage Armor, Shield, and Fly.

So as we initiated the session, Koth and the Manticore are flying just outside the main entrance to the barracks (building 8 on the map) about 60´up. Its pitch black outside, middle of the night. The problem is that the group´s main sniper, Anor, doesnt have darkvision. But Eluard uses Luminous Armor on himself and steps outside to lighten up the sky. As he did, Koth immediately fired his readid Lightning Bolt and the Manticore fired a volley of 6 spikes. The Cleric got badly wounded but still standing.

Ilzzt also rushed out. With a scroll of Fireball in hand. With his armor there is a 35% arcane spell failure...The player wants to hit Koth and rolls the dice...."21". The spell fizzles and he looses it. The players are now getting nervous that Koth will take off with the map. Anor steps out and fires 3 arrows with his rapid shot feat. He hits 2 times, wounding Koth pretty badly. Geth Helder uses his Fly to get in contact with Koth. The Wyrmlord retreats slowly and tries Blindness on Geth, but the agile hero makes his Fort-save. So Koth takes off and is being chased ny the group. The Manticore gets chopped into pieces by Geth Helder and his 4 full-round action attacks!

Anor continues to fire his +3 Mighty Composite Longbow with strength +3 bonus. A shower of arrows over the Wyrmlord, and Ilzzt flies up with a charge. The Wyrmlord is dead before his body hits the ground 60 feet below. The group has striken an early important blow against the RHoD.

Wyrmlord Koth is dead.

As they search through the Keep they find important notes and letters that Koth has received from his surrounding forces. Geth Helder speaks Goblin and can translate it. There is however one particular document that they cant read. Its written in a language unknown to the group. They bring it with them, convinced of its importance. Perhaps they can translate it later. As they search Koths body they also find the vastly important map. The players studied it carefully for several minutes. They were shocked to see that Drellins Ferry was to be hit on "Day 5" according to Koth´s notes. We are in day 4 in the adventure...But ofcourse, they are not certain that the horde has started marching yet..

The players also found the secret trapdoor and climbed down. As they see the fallen soldier, they get panicked over traps. Everybody starts crawling over the floor and pressing the ground with the tip of their swords...But no trap is there to be found.

Aware of the pressing time, they head back to Drellins Ferry towards the late, late night. Dawn is just a few hours away. As they cross the causeway, they notice reptilian-like heads move in the water below. The Hydra raises to attack! As they have wasted a lot of spells, scrolls and stuff at Vraath Keep, they kind of freak out now! And Eluard only rolls a "4" on initiative. The 3 other guys push on, Ilzzt activates his Drow special-ability "Darkness" to cover their retreat. But the Hydra uses its scent ability to attack Eluard. He gets hit 3 times and drops to only 9 hitpoints. As he retreats north, split up from the rest of the group, the others attack the Hydra. They attack its main body since no-one has "Improved Sunder" to severe the heads. They pound it with attacks and damage, but the Hydra´s regenerate 16 it´s tough ...But eventually they fell the huge beast. They search the wagon out in the swamp but dont find anything of interest.

As they return into Drellins Ferry early next day they immediately meet up with Norro Wiston (the town speaker) and the other members of the ruling council. All except Iormel who was away on business elsewhere. The PCs inform the council on the current situation. They still seem to be a bit shocked and when Geth Helder tells them to prepare an immediate evacuation, the council turns totally quiet. The players are suspitious about a spy they think is living in town, so they also choose not to show everybody at the council Wyrmlord Koth´s map. Only Norro Wiston gets to see it. When they are talking alone to him they also inform him that Skull Gorge Bridge is a strategic bottle-neck and that they are first going to go north again trying to observe the horde at Cinder Hill. Then they will try and take out the bridge itself.