[4E] Expert Dungeon Master Competition #1: Open a Campaign!

221 posts / 0 new
Last post
Expert Dungeon Master Competition #1
Open a Campaign
Welcome to the very first Expert Dungeon Master Competition! The primary purpose of the Expert Dungeon Master Competitions is threefold:
  • To create a resource for new Dungeon Masters drawing on the vast talent pool of the experienced Dungeon Masters of this forum.

  • To create a fun and vibrant competition that is sportsmanlike and friendly.

  • To showcase the creativity and talent of Dungeon Masters like you.

In this first competition, the objective is to create a scenario by which a group of four to seven adventurers might meet and be encouraged to form a party of adventurers. In order to enter the competition, you must fulfill the following required elements:
  • Describe a scenario in which four to seven player characters who have not previously met might be induced to form a party of adventurers.

  • The entry must narratively describe between three and five encounters, which could include combat, social encounters and/or skill encounters. Each encounter should be prefaced with the level and XP to be earned for completing it. Mechanics need only be included if they differ from the mechanics that would be found in the rulebooks for those creatures, traps or encounters.

  • The entry must describe at least one character intended to be a recurring antagonist to the player characters.

  • The entry must describe at least one character intended to be a recurring ally or resource for the player characters.

In addition, the entry must meet three of the following ten optional elements:
  1. Aligned.  None of the encounters has a creature that is unaligned.

  2. Adabtable. The entry includes advice on how to adapt the encounters for Heroic, Paragon and Epic Tiers of Play

  3. Alien Ally. The intended recurring ally is not of a race described in the Players Handbook.

  4. Absent Antagonist. The intended recurring antagonist will be known to the characters by the end of the scenario without them having met the antagonist.

  5. No Tavern.  The scenario does not involve a tavern, inn or other public meeting hall.

  6. Travel.  The scenario ends more than 100 miles from, or on a different plane than, where it begins.

  7. Encounter Variety.  The scenario includes at least one social encounter, one skill encounter that doesn't require the use of Charisma-based skills and one combat.

  8. Pie.  The scenario includes pie.

  9. Campaign Seeds.  The scenario is intended for a party beginning at 1st level, and provides some ideas that allow a DM to run the campaign (barring character death or party dissolution) through 30th level.

  10. Non-Linear.  The scenario is not linear. (I.e., the encounters need not occur in a predetermined order.)

All of the Rules of the Contest apply to this contest. However, please keep the following general rules in mind:
  • Fourth Edition. This competition utilizes the rules of Fourth Edition and will be judged on that basis.

  • Code of Conduct. All entries must comply with the forum's Code of Conduct.

  • Contest Duration. Contests usually run for two weeks, beginning with the post announcing the competition. The Coordinator may extend the duration of the contest at his discretion after consulting the other judges for that competition. However, such extensions should be done very rarely.

  • Edits After 15 Minutes Prohibited. Applicants may not edit their entries more than 15 minutes after submission. This includes editing done by forum moderators, unless the moderator specifically states that the entry had not been edited prior to the moderator's action. If the entrant submits an entry before the contest closes and then edits the entry after the contest closes, but within fifteen minutes of submission, the edits will be considered valid. Entrants should use the forum’s “preview post” function or an off-line text editor to check the entry before posting. Once winners have been announced, entrants may edit their entries.

  • Multiple Entries Prohibited.  Each applicant may only submit one entry prior during the period in which entries may be submitted. Submitting multiple entries disqualifies all entries. Additional entries may be submitted after the competition closes, but they will not be judged.

  • Multi-Post Entries Prohibited. Each entry must be contained within a single post. The judges must ignore any subsequent posts.

  • Outside Links Prohibited. Entries may not include material hosted on another website. The one exception to this rule is described below.

  • Plagiarism and Previewing Prohibited. All entries must be the original, exclusive work of the applicant. Entries found to be copying the work of another, or that have been posted for review prior to the competition, will be disqualified. The one exception to this rule is described below.

  • Exception: Images. Entries that include images that are hosted on other websites and that are not the entrant's original work will not be disqualified for such inclusion. Such images, however, are not considered parts of the entry and judges cannot consider such images when judging.

 A full description of the contest's rules can be found [post=16059666]here[/post]. Please review these rules before submitting an entry! The contest will run from today through Friday July 18, 2008. All entries must be submitted no later than 12:00 midnight on that day (Eastern Standard Time). The judge and coordinator of this contest is wrecan. Good luck and have fun!!

Questions and Answers

Q. Do we include stat blocks for all encounters that require them or could we just reference the official source?

A. Just reference the official source.

Q. In addition given the current state of the Skill Challenge system mechanics/mathematical probability if we're using one of the alternate systems we should list that?

A. Neither. Just list the skills to be used in the Challenge the relative difficulty of the challenge (Easy, Moderate, Difficult) and let the DM use the DMG or some variant rules to flesh it out.

Q. Do we need to include read-aloud text in our entry, and spell everything out, or is summarizing and detailing the way things should be run and noting any important features, people, or concepts an acceptable route?

A. Either would be acceptable, as long as a novice DM could use your entry "out of the box" without too much effort.

Q. Can I set my Campaign Opening in a specific campaign setting, like Eberron, or in an established community, such as James Qyatt's Greenbrier from the Dungeoncraft series?

A. Yes, although it might adversely affect your Adaptability score.

Q. For purposes of required element B and optional element 7, what is a social encounter?

A. A social encounter is a Skill Challenge that primarily requires the use of Charisma-based skills or Charisma checks, as opposed to combat or non-Charisma based skills to garner successes.

Entry List

  1. Gold Medalist: [post=16293957]You Don't Have to Live Like a Refugee[/post] by Nyarlathotep

  2. Silver Medalist: [post=16382298]Life and Death[/post] by Nani?

  3. Bronze Medalist: [post=16321763]To Bake a Better Pie[/post] by Whitman

  4. Honorable Mention: [post=16266251]Lost City of Sharvalu[/post] by dulsi

  5. Honorable Mention: [post=16385663]The City in the Sky[/post] by Titanium Dragon

  6. [post=16285600]Slaves to Naga'Re[/post] by Hazard84

  7. [post=16302198]Heirs of Dhakaan[/post] by whitebaron

  8. [post=16325425]Only Two Things Are Certain in Life[/post] by nowiwantmydmg (revised version [post=16452633]here[/post])

  9. [post=16327026]The Lost Temple at the Crossroads of the World[/post] by Eightbitmage

  10. [post=16350921]Settlers and Heroes[/post] by Eini

  11. [post=16358932]The Vale of Copper and Mud[/post] by Voidraithe

  12. [post=16376416]Son of a Witch[/post] by Timelord Simone

  13. [post=16383807]Aye for an Aye[/post] by Someone

  14. [post=16385738]The Face of War[/post] by ES_Sparky[/list]

Sample Entry: [post=16250380]The Surreptitious Summons[/post] by Wrecan
I already started typing before I read the rule! :D then I found out it was fourth edition and I won't be upgrading until the end of my current campaign... Aww...
I won't be upgrading until the end of my current campaign... Aww...

Since the contest asks for a Campaign Opening, why not get a jump start on your next campaign?! :D
Since the contest asks for a Campaign Opening, why not get a jump start on your next campaign?! :D

Actually, thats a great idea! :D Always good to be prepared, eh? Thanks for the idea, I shall post mine up as soon as possible Good luck their, wrecan. Hopefully these posts didn't disrupt the other posts you where making, didn't think about it until after I actually posted :/ Is there a way to delete posts?
You didn't disrupt anything and our conversation keeps the contest on the top of the board!
Okay, so all the PCs are on a park amusement ride, which suddenly pulls them into a portal...

Great idea for a first competition, Wrecan. May have to brew something up. :D
awesome. now... to fit the themes...
I thought you were going to put [4E] in the title to let people know it is a 4th edition competition. Not particularly important just curious.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries

Oops! I'll fix that!
I might end up missing out on this one due to not having my books yet. Just as well with my schedule these days - but that's the way things go sometimes.
The COre COliseum just hit 1000 fights! Come join the fun and be a part of this milestone! Next pairings are set for 22 August 2012. Activate TODAY!
Blue Moon Aurora is looking for some fresh blood to populate their forums. Home of the Duet and West Pacific Supers!
Check out the other PbP games around:
Real AdventuresPbP HavenThe Guild House
Garic's CityMap of the PlanesD20 Modern
Castle of FunTerisia City and Fan FictionGleemax Roleplaying
Coalition War GameParanoia ParadiseMagic Puzzles, Fun, & Games!
My List of characters for the CoCo and other ventures
NaNoWriMo 2010 WinnerNaNoWriMo 2011 Winner
Well, I figure the first competition will be slow, but that just means those who do enter have better odds of winning!
Not having entered one of these before; would I just post my entry in this thread?
Yes. Post your entry as a post to this thread. But be careful, once you post the entry, you only get 15 minutes to make edits. Also, your entry must fit entirely in the one post.
Yes. Post your entry as a post to this thread. But be careful, once you post the entry, you only get 15 minutes to make edits. Also, your entry must fit entirely in the one post.

What's the size limit for entries here?

I'm working on my opening campaign adventure, but I don't want to go too long with it.
The size limit is one post. If you can fit it all in one post, you're fine. (The character limit for posts is 50,000 characters)
Any chance of an example entry? Please don't say Keep on the Shadowfell...
I'll see what I can do. I am tempted to use the D&D cartoon idea listed above...
An elf, an orc, a halfling, and a human, all walk into a bar...

...You'd think one of them would have noticed it and ducked.
Here is reality, read and understand: Rangers aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Fighters aren't dull or underpowered, in any edition. Casters aren't "god mode" or overpowered, in any edition. The tarrasque isn't broken. And you aren't voicing your opinion by claiming otherwise, you're just being a pain. Now, stop complaining.
Color me flattered.


Thank_Dog wrote:

2Chlorobutanal wrote:
I think that if you have to argue to convince others about the clarity of something, it's probably not as objectively clear as you think.

No, what it means is that some people just like to be obtuse.

An elf, an orc, a halfling, and a human, all walk into a bar...

...You'd think one of them would have noticed it and ducked.


Anyway, I think I'll throw in my hat, though it seems both of my already made adventure openings vastly exceed 50,000 characters (one is 16 pages long. In Word. Yeah.)

Maybe I'll pare one down and submit it or come up with something new.
Sorry, very new to these kind of forum contests. Do we include stat blocks for all encounters that require them or could we just reference the official source? I.e. 4 goblin cutters and 2 goblin blackbades (see MM page xxx) or do we need to include the actual statblock?
In addition given the current state of the Skill Challenge system mechanics/mathematical probability if we're using one of the alternate systems we should list that? I ask because the official one is broken using RAW but the alternate systems would consume quite a bit of post space. But if you used the RAW that drastically lowers the success rate which would affect the pathing inside the module so you'd have to plan accordingly based on the likelihood of failure rather than success.
Oh and I'll copy the other poster and ask about an example mainly just to see a recommended format of the posting? Is it going to follow say a layout with background, narrative text, dm text, hard data in different colored blocks or something else?
Just reference the official source. I'm trying to keep this to as little scut work as possible.

As for Skill challenges, you don't need to give specific DCs and number of successes. Just provide a general description and the relevant skills.

For example:

Crossing the Bridge
The party will have to negotiate with a troll to navigate the bridge across the chasm. The troll is on the far side of the bridge so combat is unlikely, and the troll threatens to collapse the bridge if the party doesn't pay. The troll has a minature teleportation circle that can only transport things that are about the size of a human fist (such as a sack of coin).

The party can use Streetwise, Diplomacy or perhaps Intimidate or Bluff to negotiate a better deal with the troll. They can ignore the troll and try to traverse the chasm with Climb checks. With enough Insight, they can learn the troll is very lonely. Perhaps a ranger could use Nature to find an animal the troll could keep as a pet.

Use the charts in the DMG to determine appropriate DCs and successes for this Skill Challenge

[b][CENTER]Sample Entry
The Surreptitious Summons

A scenario for 1st level PCs
(4,500 XP granted plus 500 XP in Quest reward for successful completion, which should raise a party of 5 to second level)[/CENTER][/b]
If you submit an entry, you are not allowed to go back and edit it more than 15 minutes later! This is just a sample for form.

Elgwene is the fairest maiden in all of Gorfest. Her successful merchant father is throwing a grand banquet for the entire village because she is marrying her true love, the young wainright's son, Galven.

One man in the village is unhappy. The young wizard Sensun the Summoner also loves Elgwene, and even became a powerful wizard so he would be worthy of her. Now, in desperation, he has hatched a sinister plan.

When he was apprenticed to the evil archmage Tenevus, Sensun found a rare ritual scroll and stole it. The spell on this scroll is called "Surreptitious Summons" and it summons a handful of creatures for a single encounter. The caster has no control over the specific creatures summoned, but they must dutifully obey the caster for the duration of the ritual. Sensun will use the ritual, send the summoned creatures (who turn out to be the PCs) to kill the wedding guests, particularly Galven, and then he will swoop in and rescue Elgwene with his magic. Elgwene will fall in love with him, Galven will be dead, and the summoned creatures will be blamed.

What Sensun doesn't realize is that his ritual will be witnessed by a poor cursed eladrin thief known as Covus the Crow, who was recently cursed by the god of truth so that he could never utter a lie. He can clear the party's good name and bring an end to Sensun's plans.

Encounter One: The Wedding (3rd level encounter, 750 XP)
The party is minding their own affairs when they suddenly appear before Sensun in his parlor across the street form the chapel where the wedding is occurring. The party has never met one another before, but recognize each other as people with a reputation for honor. They are paralyzed. Sensun is surprised to have summoned humanoids, thinking he would get actual monsters. Sensun tells the party to enter the chapel yelling "Die, Gorfestian scum!" This lets the party know the town to which they have been summoned. Sensun tells them they must kill the groom first and then the other parishioners, and the bride last. They must not hold back. (You might givem them Quest rewards if they accomplish this.)

Compelled by the power of the spell, the party must do as they are told. As they are leaving the parlor, however, the party member with the highest Perception rating should see Covus sneaking out of the house with a pair of silver candlesticks.

The people in the chapel are mostly unarmed human minions lacking even a basic attack. A few people, including Galwen, should be low-level human encounters appropriate to the party's level, and Elgwene should have 10 hp but no attack. After three rounds, Sensun will use Dimension Door to appear in the chapel, grab Elgwene heroically and then shout "I banish you, foul fiends!" With that, Sensun ends the ritual and the party is immediately transported back to the town from which they were summoned.

After the banishment, the party will find their health restored (even dead PCs are magically restored to life), all equipment safely returned and any expended powers restored. However, within a few words, news of their assault on Gorfest will reach their town and they will be hounded as murderers. They must clear their names.

Along the way to Gorfest, the party will meet several encounters. These can occur in any order. Note that since they are likely to be separated by days, they can be more difficult than other encounters because the party will be able to fully recover in between encounters.

Encounter Two: Covus (1st level Skill Challenge, 500 XP)
The party should happen upon Covus the Crow. Covus might be sleeping in a haystack, or simply walking the road. He will recognize the party and the party will recognize him. Covus knows he cannot match the party in a fight, so he will flee, using his eladrin step to give him a head start. This chase can be resolved as a Skill Challenge, using the party's Acrobatics, Athletics, Climb and Perception skills to find and catch Covus. If caught, Covus cannot lie to the party. In fact, he cannot lie to anybody and must answer all questions put to him. (In fact, if the party deduces Covus' curse during the chase, they can pepper him with questions to force him to reveal where he might be hiding.) If the party catches him, he will reluctantly agree to testify against Sensun.

Covus is an unaligned thief and, despite his curse, he has a lot of friends in the seamier side of most towns in the area. If the party treats him well, he will grow to be a valuable source of information for the party and, although he will always demand to be properly compensated for his information, the party can always trust that Covus will be scrupulously honest with them.

Encounter Three: Bounty Hunters (2nd level Encounter, 625 XP)
Elgwene's father (or Elgwene herself if the party killed her father) has hired bounty hunters to capture or kill the PCs. The bounty hunters have tracked the PCs to their location and set up an ambush. The bounty hunters are elven rangers of an appropriate challenge. They will fight the PCs in combat, but will flee as soon as they have been bloodied.

Encounter Four: The Summonings (3rd level Encounter, 750 XP)
Sensun the Summoner deduced that the party will try to expose him, so he uses his summoning powers to raise zombies at the party. The zombies should be a wide variety of an appropriate challenge. They will attack the party at night and will not stop until the party has destroyed them.

Final Encounter: The Confrontation (2nd level Skill Challenge followed by a 6th level Encounter, 625 XP and 1,250 XP, respectively)
Once back at Gorfest, the party will be accused of murdering the wedding, but they will have a chance to defend themselves. This encounter can go several ways. Gorfest will have mustered the militia to arrest the PCs. These should be human soldiers of an appropriate challenge for the party, but they could be convinced not to attack if the PCs turn themselves in and seek to prove their innocence.

This should be resolved as a social challenge, with the party using all the social skills (Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate, Insight). If they have Covus with them, the social challenge should be much easier to accomplish.

If the party looks like they will succeed, Sensun will use his back-up plan. He had buried zombies beneath the ground where the trial occurs and at a word, they rise and begin attacking the PCs. Most of the townsfolk will flee, although the soldiers will assist the PCs in a supporting role. Sensun should use the stats of a human spellcaster from the Monster Manual, advanced with additional levels of Wizard to an appropriate challenge along with the zombie minions and other zombies.

When Sensun is bloodied, he will use a standard action to activate a ritual tatoo on his chest. The ritual tattoo is intended to call in a favor from his mentor, Tenevus. However, this will not go as planned. When Sensun activates the ritual he shouts, "Come, Tenevus the Bloody! Come my mentor and aid me as you promised!" Sensun will then gloat that the party is doomed for Tenevus shall turn their bones to pulp!

Roll an initiative score for Tenevus (don't bother modifying it since Tenevus is appearing in the middle of battle). When his initiative comes up a booming voice comes across the battlefield. It say:

[indent]My apprentice, you have disappointed me. You stole from my precious library and did not think that I would notice it? That scroll was an important part of my greater plans and now you have sorely inconvenienced me. So, it is you who has betrayed my trust and so I shall leave you to deal with the folly of your own actions. Perhaps in time you shall come into my good graces.[/indent]

The voice then address the PCs.

[indent]And do not think you have escaped my notice, young heroes. Although the scroll that would have compelled you into my service has been expended, I still have plans for you and I can see the threads of fate that pull at your destinies. For now it serves me that you be the instrument of justice against my disloyal pupil. Do what you will to him, but be assured that when we next meet I shall not be so accommodating.[/indent]

And then the illusion fades. At this point, Sensun will go into a full panic and his actions will be an attempt to flee the field.

After the battle (whatever the result), the town will reward the PCs with treasure in an appropriate amount of parcels.

Required Elements:
A. The scenario explains how a group of adventurers might be induced to form a party.
B. Five encounters are described (I don't have my books with me, so I didn't have time to add XP values -- I'll do so later.)
C. Tenevus is intended to be a recurring villain
D. Covus the Crow is intended to be a recurring ally.

Optional elements:
4. The intended recurring antagonist will be known to the characters by the end of the scenario without them having met the antagonist.
5. The scenario does not involve a tavern, inn or other public meeting hall.
7. The scenario includes at least one social encounter, one skill encounter that doesn't require the use of Charisma-based skills and one combat.
10. The scenario is not linear. (I.e., the encounters need not occur in a predetermined order.)

Also, the scenario could occur more than 100 miles from where it begins (element 6), if Gorfest is more than 100 miles away from the place from which the party was summoned.

Sample Entry
The Surreptitious Summons
A scenario for 1st level PCs

I see no mention of pie.
"When Friday comes, we'll all call rats fish." D&D Outsider
Nor will you. Pie is an optional element. But if it is that important, you can have them serve pie at the wedding.
I've been stating out by entry which includes a wedding. Figured that would be rather unusual but them you put it in the sample entry. Granted mine is very different so I'll probably still include it.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries

Damned if I do, Damned if I don't. Sorry for stealing your thunder, dulsi.
The example helps immensely. Thank you
The Lost City of Sharvalu

1. Burning Building (Level 1, 300xp)

Setup: The PCs begin the game in a city doing whatever task is appropriate for the characters. During the night a building catches fire. The PCs can be sleeping nearby, walking down the street, or even in the building. To prevent other buildings from catching fire, they need to help contain the blaze and deal with the injured.

For those adventurers sleeping nearby read:
The screaming outside awakens you. A bright glow comes through the window but it is not the typical sunlight. Looking outside you see a nearby building engulfed in flames. As you reach the streets, you see a man and woman collapsed near the entrance of the burning home. Several people are standing around shocked. A handful are bringing water to calm the blaze. Despite the noise, you hear some pleas for help from inside the building.

Complexity: 3 (requires 8 successes before 4 failures).

Primary Skills: Diplomacy, Endurance, Heal, Streetwise
Diplomacy (moderate DCs): You organize the able bodied to work together to put out the fire.
Endurance (moderate DCs): You enter the burning building and pull out anyone left inside.
Heal (moderate DCs): You assess the injured and patch them up as best you can.
Streetwise (moderate DCs): You know where to get water to help put out the blaze.

2. The Hidden Circle

For all adventurers read:
When you awaken in the morning, you discover a note slipped under the door to your room. On the note is a circle that starts as a thick line on the top left of the page and slowly fades out in the bottom left. It is the symbol of the Hidden Circle mage guild. The note invites each of you by name to the guildhall today at noon.

The guildhall for the Hidden Circle is a rather plain tower. After knocking at the door a young apprentice opens the door and asks you to follow him. He leads you to the receiving room and promises his master will be with you soon.

Players can introduce each other here if they didn't talk after the burning building.

Once everyone has arrived an old man dressed in a blue robe enters. He is bald and has a thick white beard.

For adventurers who successful completed the burning building skill challenge read:

He is carrying a red staff with symbols engraved in it. He gives the staff to the party's wizard. It feels warm to the touch. "I'm Therageess. The Hidden Circle heard about the assistance you gave in containing the blaze last night." He pauses looking over the group. "That staff was found in some recently uncovered ruins. Undoubtedly the ruins contain many secrets. We are in need of fearless explorers to investigate the ruins. Would you be interested?"

The staff is a Staff of Fiery Might +1.

For adventurers who failed to complete the burning building skill challenge read:

"I'm Therageess." He pauses to assess the group. "We heard of your attempt to aid in the fire last night. Your courage is admirable but it takes more than courage to be a hero." Again he pauses. "The Hidden Circle is organizing an expedition to some recently uncovered ruins. Would you be interested?"

Additional Information
Therageess is not willing to divulge too much information of the expedition. He explains that the expedition is be kept as quiet as possible for reason that will be obvious when they arrive. That is why they are being hired instead of better know adventurers. For reward he assures them there will be sufficient to satisfy their wants. They will provide provisions and other supplies need for the trip. Sinar, a member of the Hidden Circle, will be travelling with the party. Sinar will be waiting by the north gate tomorrow shortly after dawn.

3. North Gate

As the adventurers approach the north gate read:
As you approach the north gate you notice a man standing by a cart. His clothes are unremarkable except for the black cloak pulled up over his head. Once close enough to get a good look, the dark skin of drow becomes apparent. He looks over the adventurers. He points to the cleric. "Can you manage to control a horse and cart?" He does not wait for a response before settling into the back of the cart. The cart is loaded with supplies.

Additional Information
Sinar is a drow 19th level wizard with an orb arcane implement. He has a black cloak that is usually up to hide his drow heritage. His knowledge of the underdark creatures is extensive which is why he is going. Being a drow, people have a tendency to be suspicious of him. He sees no reason to dissuade people of their prejudice. Instead he treats everyone as insignificant until their skills are proven. He will not talk to the PCs except as required initially. In combat he will not directly help the PCs unless they are in grave danger. He will give suggestions on tactics. If they follow his advice, he will think they are lack creative thinking. If they ignore his advice and do poorly, he will think they are incompetent. If they follow some advice but deviate intelligent, he sees potential in them.

4. Forest Path (Level 1, 500xp)

Setup:While travelling north, the path travels through a section of forest. Kobolds live in this forest. The dire rats are not well controlled by the kobolds and attack earlier than they planned. They haven't set any traps or gotten reinforcements yet. They do not have any treasure on them.

This encounter includes the following creatures.
2 kobold slingers (level 1 artillery)
4 kobold minions (level 1 minion)
2 dire rats (level 1 brute)

As the adventurers travel read:
On the second day the path cuts through a forest. The trail is mostly straight and clear. Around mid-morning two enormous rats come charging from the bushes. A group of kobolds follow shortly after them.

If anyone understands draconic read:
You hear one of the kobold swearing about the stupid rodents.

5. Last Settlement

The weather has turned bitter cold for several days. You enter the last settlement to the north. Snow and ice are the dominant feature of the terrain. Sinar directs you to the inn. As you approach the inn you see a man run inside. The man soon reappears with a dwarf at his side. The young man is dressed in leather armor with bow on his back and a couple blades on his belt. The dwarf carries a wand on his belt. He scowls a bit on seeing Sinar.

"I'm Gattdor and this in Enthur," explains the dwarf. He removes his glove, spits in his hand and offers to shake the hand of the nearest party member.

If no one offers to shake his hand he scoffs and leaves. If someone shakes the dwarf's hand but doesn't remove his glove and spit into his hand, the dwarf again scowls.

"From here we will need to travel on foot. Rest well for we leave at dawn."

6. The Ruins

After one week of walking through the cold, you arrive at the ruins. The ruins must have been magnificent in their prime. The ice and snow cover many of the buildings but numerous spires pierce the surface. A small town worth of people seem to have setup camp here. Word quickly spreads of your arrival. A woman comes running out of a building. Enthur rushes up to meet and embrace her.

"Allow me to introduce my betrothed, Denytia. This is ..."

"Trivialities can wait," interrupts Sinar. "Show me the frozen abomination."

The dwarf glares at Sinar. "This way." He leads you to the central building of the ruins. It is a large dome building. Inside numerous people work to copy the glyphs and pictures on the wall but your gaze is immediate drawn to the frozen beast in the center. The creature looks like a 20 foot long fish with four long tentacles. The three red eyes of the monster at set vertically. It's entire body in encased in ice.

Additional Information
It is believed that this is the ancient lost city of Sharvalu. It was the center of magical power in it's time. Many of the great magical items and artifacts were created by the Sharvalu wizards. The fact that a frozen aboleth sits in the center of the city is of grave concern to the Hidden Circle.

7. Earthquake (Level 1, 500xp)

Setup: Several people are hurt or trapped or otherwise in need of assistance

There is a buzz of activity when you awake in the morning. At'mor has agreed to marry Enthur and Denytia. The conservative priest is requiring the tradition ceremony including the outdoor service despite the freezing temperatures.

Enthur could ask a PC to be a binder. Binders hold a ribbon that encircles the couple with the priest at the opening.

The ceremony begins as normal. Denytia is escorted by Gattdor into the ribbon circle where Enthur waits. As At'mor begins speaking, the ground begins shaking. The earth rips apart. Loud crashes fill the air as objects tumble to the ground. After a few moments the shaking slows and finally stops. A few people have fallen into some crevices. Some are injured from falling debris. A handful of structures didn't survive the quakes and could have trapped someone inside.

Complexity: 5 (requires 12 successes before 6 failures).

Primary Skills: Athletics, Diplomacy, Heal, Perception
Athletics (moderate DCs): You climb down to help those trapped to get out.
Diplomacy (moderate DCs): You organize the able bodied to work together to rescue others.
Heal (moderate DCs): You assess the injured and patch them up as best you can.
Perception (easy DCs): You find people in need assistance by looking through the rumble or listening for their pleas. Using this skill doesn't count as a success or failure for the challenge, but provides a +2 bonus or a -2 penalty to the next character's skill check.

Success: The expedition is indebted to the PCs and will render assistance within their means.

Failure: The bungling PCs are considered good hearted but ultimately incompetent.

8. Gone Fishing (Level 2, 675xp)

Setup: Kui-akus have emerged and are attempting to gain access to a building. Unfortunately the magic key they were given has lost it's enchantment and cannot open the door.

This encounter includes the following creatures.
3 Kui-akus (level 2 brute)
2 Kui-aku pearls (level 3 artillery)

Every one in the immediate area has been accounted for. Gattdor calls you over. "Sinar and a few others are over at the frozen calamari. Could you go over there and make sure everyone is alright?"

On route to the dome building read:
About halfway there you see a large crevice in the ground. There are fresh footprints leading out of the crevice. The webbed prints are clearly not from a member of the expedition.

If they investigate, read:
The trail leads to a large building with large pillars and a set of double doors. The building is mostly frozen over but a path has been cleared to the doors. One of the doors remains slightly open.

When the look inside, read:
You see two humanoid fish people standing near a wall with another set of double doors. Three bigger fishmen are loitering around. The fishmen give off a slight yellow-green glow.

Ending the Encounter
After defeating the kui-aku, they discover an amulet and a map on one of the kui-aku pearls. The amulet has three ovals organized in vertical fashion like the eyes of the aboleth. The map is a copy of the map made by the initial exploration team. Written in deep speech on the back of the map is "For the eternal deep one."

The kui-aku are deep sea fish people. They resemble humanoid fish. They have green spots on there front and yellow spots right by the eyes that emit as much light as a candle.

Kui-aku Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature Check.

DC 20: Kui-aku live deep underwater. Very few ever travel to the surface. Those found on the surface are often working in service of an aboleth.

Kui-aku Level 2 Brute<br /> Medium natural humanoid (aquatic) XP 125<br /> Initiative +2 Senses Perception +0; low-light vision<br /> Hit points 44; Bloodied 22<br /> AC 14; Fortitude 14, Reflex 13, Will 13<br /> Speed 6, swim 6<br /> <br /> Basic Melee; Spear (standard; at-will) * Weapon<br /> +4 vs. AC; 2d6+3 damage.<br /> <br /> Melee; Blinding flash (immediate reaction, when first bloodied;<br /> encounter) * Radiant<br /> +2 vs. Reflex; the target is dazed until the end of the<br /> kui-aku's next turn.<br /> <br /> Alignment Evil Languages Deep Speech<br /> Str 14 (+3) Dex 12 (+2) Wis 9 (+0)<br /> Con 14 (+3) Int 7 (-1) Cha 13 (+2)<br /> Equipment spear<br /> <br /> <br /> Kui-aku Pearl Level 3 Artillery (Leader)<br /> Medium natural humanoid (aquatic) XP 150<br /> Initiative +2 Senses Perception +0; low-light vision<br /> Hit points 38; Bloodied 19<br /> AC 15; Fortitude 15, Reflex 15, Will 14<br /> Speed 6, swim 6<br /> <br /> Basic Melee; Rusty Dagger (standard; at-will) * Poison, Weapon<br /> +8 vs. AC; 1d4 damage, and ongoing 2 poison damage (save ends).<br /> <br /> Ranged; Frost Orb (standard; at-will) * Cold<br /> Ranged 10; +8 vs Reflex; 1d10+3 cold damage.<br /> <br /> Close; Coordinate Strike (minor; encounter)<br /> Close burst 10; kui-aku allies in the burst deals an extra 1d6<br /> damage on the next attack if it has combat advantage. The<br /> bonus must be applied before the kui-aku pearl's next turn.<br /> <br /> Ranged; Snow Burst (standard; encounter) * Cold<br /> Area burst 1 within 10; +8 vs. Fortitude; 1d10+3 cold damage,<br /> and the target is dazed until the end of the kui-aku pearl's<br /> next turn.<br /> <br /> Melee; Blinding flash (immediate reaction, when first bloodied;<br /> encounter) * Radiant<br /> +7 vs. Reflex; the target is dazed until the end of the<br /> kui-aku's next turn.<br /> <br /> Alignment Evil Languages Common, Deep Speech<br /> Skills Arcana +10<br /> Str 10 (+1) Dex 12 (+2) Wis 9 (+0)<br /> Con 14 (+3) Int 15 (+3) Cha 13 (+2)<br /> Equipment orb, rusty dagger

Continuing the Adventure

At'mor has forbidden Enthur and Denytia from marrying because he sees the earthquake as a bad omen. They will approach the party's cleric to perform the marriage. Doing so will alienate At'mor while not doing so will cause the couple to seek another way or perhaps run off. There is obviously a spy which gave a copy of the map to the aboleth. Could be someone in the expedition or someone at the Hidden Circle who learned of it. If your world contains the warforged, the technology could have been developed by the city of Sharvalu or refined there. The warforged could contain some hidden function yet to be activated by the aboleths. The players may need to track down magical items/artifacts produced by the city for fear of some corrupting effect. The adventure could also be expanded by adding additional encounters on route to the ruins.

For the record, the frozen aboleth is intended to be dead and not rise as some undead beast. Of course nothing says you have to follow that if you use the intro.

Optional Elements
3. The intended recurring ally is not of a race described in the Players Handbook. (Sinar, the drow wizard, is intended to be the recurring ally.)
4. The intended recurring antagonist will be known to the characters by the end of the scenario without them having met the antagonist. (The eternal deep one is an aboleth attempting to get the secrets of the lost city.)
6. The scenario ends more than 100 miles from, or on a different plane than, where it begins.
9. The scenario is intended for a party beginning at 1st level, and provides some ideas that allow a DM to run the campaign (barring character death or party dissolution) through 30th level.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries

First blood!

Sorry for the formatting of the new monsters. I just didn't like any of the formats I saw people using and since I wanted to post it I figured I'd just live with the code block.

Glad to finally get to post my frozen aboleth idea. Been thinking of it since wrecan mentioned an adventure series or beginnings as a possible competition. Kinda disappointed by the linearity of the adventure and number of non-encounters according to 4th edition. I thought about cutting some of the role-playing sections without encounters but I liked them.

Identical Games

D&D Published World foums at The Piazza (Dark Sun, Mystara, Spelljammer, Planescape, and more); Core Coliseum; D&D Material including my Master/Expert DM Competition entries

The list is updated! Welcome, dulsi, the XDMCs' first entrant!
I've added XP numbers to my sample entry.
what is the word count on the maximum post for this forum?
There's no word count maximum. It's a 50,000 (IIRC) character maximum.
Slaves to Naga´Re

This campaign plays in a desert, ash wastes or any other inhospitable area you can think of. A central point is the presence of a caravan or something similar the players can join. The main opponents planned out are the Yuan-Ti along with there cultists. Other possible kinds of opponents would be all monsters matching the area you are playing along with all kinds of snakes or reptiles

Read this to your players before creating the characters: “The endless desert. Caravans travelling from here to there. Many opportunities for fame and glory, many ways to forget or be forgotten, many riches can be found here. You all joined one of the caravans for various reasons. The future lies ahead.”

The journey begins with the departure of the caravan.

Read: “The sun scorches relentlessly on your heads as you set your foot into the soft desert sand. You have to travel by foot, only the old or rich people may sit upon a beast of burden. Walking trough a featureless desert gets boring pretty quickly, so after only a few hours the people beginn to chat, exchange small amounts of goods and you can even see some games of cards or dice.”

The Characters have now the opportunity to get to know the other travellers. Of special interest might be the caravan master Shar Kharon II, Gor`El the Dragonborn desert guide or Mina of Gesholm an elderly noble lady with a taste for adventure (Lady Mina is actually a Paladin of Avandra). Add more NPCs at your demand. Maybe the characters need some more equipment or a young PC cleric accompanys his NPC mentor. Some of these additional characters would fit into the retinue of Lady Mina.
When you have the feeling, that the players let there guards down:

Read: “Screams from the wagons in the front. Something is moving under the sand near you. Many legs, sharp claws. You hear a guard scream, as his leg is pierced by a poisonous sting. Another falls to the ground, a thick mass of slime binding him. One beast of burden is set ablaze, running madly into the desert.”

Combat Encounter 1: Poison Sting (Level 1, 500 XP)
2 Stormclaw Scorpions (Level 1 Soldier)
1 Fire Beetle (Level 1 Brute)
1 Tangler Beetle (Level 5 Controller)

Battlefield: The caravan moves in a path between two dunes. The attacking animals emerged from under the sand. The scorpions start very close, the fire beetle at the front of the caravan. The tangler beetle stands on top of one of the dunes. The characters start either on foot or riding on a beast of burden.

This encounter should make a clear statement about the hazards of the desert.
Heal (DC 15): The characters can save the guardsman from the poison.

Read: “After this fight, everything seems a bit more tense. The guards keep there weapons ready. Few people are talking now. It takes some ours for your companions to relax and when you finally take a stop for the night everything is like before. The people are chatting, preparing meals or playing game.”

The Character will probably expect an attack this night. You could add a random encounter if you want, a played out card game for some GP, a drunken brawl or some stories from Lady Mina.

Read: “The next morning arrives, it will be a hot day again, even for a day in the desert. You grab a meal and something to drink from your backpack, as you realise that something is not right. Strangers arrived in the night, hooded figures armed with blade and bow, at least two dozen. Shar Kharon II stands among them and talks agitated.”

Perception (DC 20): “It seems like the Shar is haggling with the strangers. Yes, one of the figures gives him a bag. The Shar says something like: All right, take them. They are yours.”

If the character succeded in their Perception check they are not surprised. Otherwise the cultist get a surprise round. The 30 cultists are actually fighting not only the characters but all travellers except the Shar. Roll a die at the beginning of every round after the first:
1-3: Nothing
4: One Human Rabble appears
5: Two Human Rabble appear
6: A Human Bandit appears

Depict the Attackers as Snaketongue cultists. They have scaly skin, snake-like eyes and forked tongues.
The characters will get XP for every defeated foe, but in the end, they will lose this fight. The Guards, Lady Mina and Gor´El will fight valiantly, but finally be defeated.

Combat Encounter 2: Defend yourself! (Level 2, 650 XP+)
1 Human Guard (Level 3 Soldier) (Depicted as Snaketongue Cultists)
2 Human Bandits (Level 2 Skirmisher) (Depicted as Snaketongue Cultists)
2 Elf Archer (Level 2 Artillery) (Depicted as Snaketongue Cultists)

Battlefield: A portion of the circle formed with the wagons. A few tents within the circle and a fire site in the middle.

Read: “You are defeated. Your belongings are taken and the deformed humens bind your hands to a long rope. Together with the other captives you follow the bandits for day and night trough the endless desert. Some of the captives fall to the ground, unable to withstand the heat. Whoever falls is cut of the rope and killed in cold blood.”

Endurance (DC 20), on fail: Lose one healing surge until you can rest properly.

Read: “After days of walking you arrive a kind of camp surrounded by a palisade. You can see more captives digging in the ground, unearthing some ancient structure. And you see more deformed humen, goading the slaves. A man in expensive attire appears from one of the barracks and salutes your kidnappers. “Ah, new work force. Excellent. We had a cave in just yesterday, only wounded but we had to put them away. Let me see…” The slaver looks at each of you, inspects you like a piece of meat. Finally he points at Lady Mina and three of her servants. “Send these to Naga´Re. I think Grssh´Ashi can use them, the rest to the excavation site.”

Grssh´Ashi is the responsible person behind these kidnappings. He tries to find a secret from the past of his people. He is a Yuan-Ti Disciple of Zehir (Demagogue) More on that later.

Read: “You work at the excavation site for hours and hours, even after sunset. Then you are finally given something to eat, some ineadable soup, and sent to bed together with the other captives in a big barrack.”

The characters can now (and should) try to convince the other slaves to attempt an escape.

Skill Challenge 1: Let´s flee (Level 2, complexity (6/3), 625 XP)
Primary Skills: Diplomacy, Insight, Intimidate, Bluff

Success: The party is able to convince the other slaves to try an escape
Failure: The party cannot convince the other slaves. Set the complexity of the Skill Encounter “He who runs…” to (6/3) or “Into the Ruins” to (8/4), only Gor´El and a few other slaves will aid them.

Read: “Gor´El comes over to you. He brings another slave with him, a man that is obviously very long here. “This is Misha, he has been here for over a month now. He told me that the ruins are much larger then they appear. Maybe we can make our way trough them. This ruins have many exits. We should flee into the tunnels and let the entrance collapse. What do you say?”

Now the characters can either try to run into the desert or into the tunnels. Both possibilities are presented here with a short skill challenge.

Possibility 1: Flee
Skill Challenge 2: He who runs… (Level 1, complexity (4/2), 500 XP)
Primary Skills: Athlethics (Running Fast), Acrobatics (Evade Obstacles), Stealth (Not drawing Attention)
Success: The party escapes unscathed
Failure: The party escapes, but get hurt in the flight. Every Character loses two healing surges.

Possibility 2: Into the Ruins
Skill Challenge 2: Toppling the Pillars (Level 2, complexity (6/3) 625 XP)
Primary Skills: Dungeoneering (Knowledge of Tunnels), Athletics (Pushing the Pillars), Thievery (Knowledge of Technique)
Success: The roof of the tunnel comes crashing down. You can escape safely.
Failure: The characters take to much time. Start an encounter versus two human bandits charging into the tunnel. The characters can keep on toppling the pillars. Every two rounds one additional human bandit arrives until the characters achieve sufficient successes. Remember that the characters only carry tools as weapons. These could count as military pick, greatclub or something similar.
If the characters escaped succesfully, award them 100 XP per character. The next part of this adventure depends on the last challenge. The characters are either in the desert, were Gor`El can probably help them reaching his tribe. Or they are in the deeps of the ruins, searching for another entrance. Either way, they have no equipment except their tools and the clothes their wear, so maybe they should find something to quickly.

If you want to follow the campaign to a higher level:

The Slave to Naga´Re could be some ancient evil, an exarch of Zehir entombed deep in the city of Naga´Re. Grssh´Ashi tries to free this monstrositie for the power it promised him. He starts excavating ancient Yuan´Ti ruins to learn more about the ritual which binds the exarch. The slaves he gathers are needed for the last sacrifice, a great ammount of divine and arcane casters.
The characters can follow the trace of the Yuan-Ti trough the desert, fighting cultists, snakes, reptiles, undead within the ancient ruins and finally their Yuan-Ti masters. The Paragon-levels should probably deliver a bit of diversification from the Yuan-Ti theme, before Grssh´Ashi appears again for the epic levels.

Starting on higher Tier:

If you want to start this campaign on an paragon level, use a higher number of real Snake-Tongue Cultists supported by Yuan-Ti or Nagas. Use Firelashers, Redspawn Fire Belcher and Stone-Eye basilisks for the first encounter. Describe the camp as very well defended and up the difficulty of the skill challenges.
I do not recommend to use this as a campaign start at epic levels, as the characters are to powerful to be taken as prisoners by mere cultists.

Required Elements:
A. The scenario explains how a group of adventurers might be induced to form a party.
B. Five encounters are described
C. Grssh´Ashi and Shar Kharon II are intended to be recurring villains
D. Lady Mina and Gor´El are intended to be recurring allies

Optional elements:
2. The entry includes advice on how to adapt the encounters for Heroic, Paragon and Epic Tiers of Play
4. The intended recurring antagonist will be known to the characters by the end of the scenario without them having met the antagonist.
5. The scenario does not involve a tavern, inn or other public meeting hall.
6. The scenario can maybe end more than 100 miles from where it begins.
7. The scenario includes at least one social encounter, one skill encounter that doesn't require the use of Charisma-based skills and one combat.
9. The scenario is intended for a party beginning at 1st level, and provides some ideas that allow a DM to run the campaign (barring character death or party dissolution) through 30th level.
The list is updated! Welcome, Hazard84!
You Don’t Have to Live Like a Refugee

Background: The Duchy of Ravilar and the Free City of Arthain have been bitter rivals for centuries; rivals in trade, in culture and in every other way imaginable. They have gone to war many times and the wars have always ended in either a stalemate or in small gains that have been quickly reversed in the next war. That is, until now. Duke Heldrak, the new Duke of Ravilar is a devout worshipper of Bane. With the aid of Bane’s Church, he has been able to amass an army of Bane worshipping mercenaries, goblinoid tribes, and other cut throats. This has proved enough to crush the city’s army and now his forces lay siege. Everyone knows it is only a matter of time before they get through, and when that happens, Arthain is going to burn. Every ship in the harbor is rapidly filling up with refugees. Meanwhile, Ravilar’s armies raid and pillage the countryside, terrorizing those who did not reach the safety of the city walls in time.

During the war, a local smuggler named Guldar was ‘hired’ by the city to use his contacts in Ravilar to spy on the Duchy. Though the city is going to fall, he has helped keep it from falling far sooner. Guldar’s cover was blown just before Ravilar destroyed Arthain’s army. He fled back to Arthain in hopes of getting his young daughter out of the city. However, the Ravilaran army moved faster than he thought and now that army sits between Guldar and his child. Guldar knows the angles, though, and he is determined to find a means to get his child out of the city before it falls. The PCs may just be that means. Unfortunately for him, one of his men has been replaced with a doppelganger in the duke’s employ. The doppelganger, named Halrith, is charged with kidnapping Guldar’s daughter in order to blackmail him into acting as a spy for the Duke. When Guldar sends the party to fetch his child instead of going himself, Halrith sneaks off after them, with a plan…

The Setup: The PCs find themselves along with about 20 other refugees, on an abandoned farmstead within a few miles of the city walls. It has been raided and the original inhabitants killed, but it remains unburned, which is why many survivors from the area have chosen to take shelter here. None of the PCs necessarily know each other, but they can be here for a variety of reasons. Martial type characters could be from the remnants of Arthainian army, who were cut off during the retreat. Rogues and other ‘street’ types could be with Guldar (see encounter 1). Others could be inhabitants of some other farmstead or were traveling when the city came under siege and just weren’t fortunate enough to have made it to the city walls before the city found itself under siege. In any case, all they know is that they have found a place that is safe, for now and that it is dangerous to venture outside, as the Duke’s troops tend to show little mercy or understanding to those they encounter.

Give the PCs a short amount of time to describe themselves and maybe interact with each other and/or the other refugees (many of whom are frightened, confused and generally not talkative, with the exception of Guldar). Guldar is more talkative than the others, but he has been thrust into the role of leader to the other refugees and will appreciate any help (and appreciate even more if they take the role over entirely) but a lifetime of secrecy about his profession makes him loathe to talk too much to strangers about who he is or what he is doing here. See encounter 2 for his details if the group wants to really chat him up. As soon as the preliminaries are out of the way, go to encounter 1.

Encounter 1: Raiding Party (Level 1 - 550 XP)

Read to party: You have spent most of the previous day trying to find a place to rest and came upon this place, one of the few unburned farms for miles. There you found the inhabitants dead and became one of the two dozen or so people staying there. As dawn breaks, thick smoke hangs over the air from the burning farms nearby, painting the sunrise an ironically beautiful shade of red and orange. As you look out the window of the simple farmer’s hut that sheltered you overnight, a young boy runs toward the hut shouting ‘They’re coming! They’re coming’. Few of the refugees have weapons or skills useful in a fight, you that know you are one of those few. If any of you are to survive, you are going to have to fight.

Most of the other refugees are essentially minions with no effective attack. They will hide in the barn and famrhouse. Guldar is more of an organizer than a fighter, but if one of the PCs is one of his men, he will tell that PC to fight alongside the group claiming that PC is ‘The best I got’. One of his men is actually a doppelganger, but he will do nothing to give himself away, including fighting unless he absolutely has to. The boy will tell them that he saw goblins moving through the orchard and that they saw him and were right behind him. If the PCs do not move out to attack the goblins on their own initiative, Guldar will suggest it.

The PCs will have about a minute to set themselves up. There is a farmhouse, a barn, and a cattle pen nearby. Soon a raiding force consisting of 4 Goblin Cutters, 2 Goblin Warriors and 2 trained Guard Drakes will emerge from the orchard, bent on some easy looting and mayhem. They are alert because of the boy but are not expecting any real resistance, so if the PCs set up an ambush, the goblins will have to make perception rolls.

During the fight, the drakes will charge the nearest non-goblins they see, while the cutters try to gang up on any fighter types. Meanwhile the skirmishers will circle around to get wizards and other lightly armored types. They are not expecting heavy resistance, though, and will try to make a fighting withdrawal once they see what they are up against and will route if the drakes go down. Any individual goblin who is bloodied will also rout.

The Aftermath: The PCs may want to track down and finish off routing goblins, to keep them from bringing more down on them. Goblins that can’t get away will turn and fight out of sheer desperation. The group will find no treasure. In any case, the goblins are unlikely to defeat the PCs and afterwards, Guldar will ask to speak to the PCs, privately. Accepting this offer leads to encounter 2

Encounter 2: Guldar’s Quest (0 XP but will lead to 100 XP Minor Quest)

Guldar: Guldar needs no stats, as he has no intention of fighting the party. He runs (or ran, anyway) a gang of smugglers out of Arthain’s docks. He is 40-ish, bald, on the heavy side of average build and has the tanned leathery skin typical of a sailor. He has notable levels of streetwise, stealth, insight and thievery skills, as well as knowing his way around a boat. As would be expected for a smuggler, he is primarily motivated by wealth, but he considers himself a loyal Arthainian and especially hates seeing the poor and under classes get hurt. He is blunt, to the point, and tends to use ‘colorful euphemisms typical of sailors’. He is very familiar with every trick of the smuggler trade and has many secret ways in and out of the city. He is level 3 for purposes of insight checks

Read to Party: Guldar takes you aside into the barn. He looks around and says “Look, I don’t want to panic anyone by saying this in front of the rest, but we can’t stay here. Those goblins were just a scouting party. Sooner or later a bigger patrol is gonna come and then we’re dead. And even if we manage to fight our way past that one, another will come, and another. We can’t fight ‘em all. We’ve all gotta get out of here. And I know how, if you lot are game.”

If he hasn’t already introduced himself, he will do so now. He will tell them about his ‘profession’ and his plan. A DC 15 Streetwise check confirms his identity and a DC 13 Insight check reveals that he ‘seems basically honest’.

The plan he will propose is this. He has a boat moored a few miles away that can take him and the refugees to a safe place, the island of Vanadar. A vassal state of Arthain where many refugees are heading. But he needs ‘a few hardcases’ to use his last open route into the city to do him a huge favor, for which he would be forever grateful, His daughter is in the city, and he wants her brought out. He says that a clan of Wererats, with whom he ‘USED to have a deal’ have decided to take advantage of the situation break their deal and have blocked the passage off to him. He can’t pay their demands and he knows he can’t take them in a fight. So he wants the PCs to force their way in. He offers the PCs some ‘walking around money’ (180 gp, parcel 6) for their trouble, with a promise of more once they bring him his child.

If they accept, he gives them a sealed letter to give to her, and tells them once they have her, take the first boat out of the city to Vanadar. He’ll re-imburse them if the captain tries to charge them. He finishes with “but hurry, before there ARE no more boats to Vanadar’

If the PCs do not accept his proposal, he is willing to guilt trip them, browbeat them, and make promises he can’t keep to get them to accept. Otherwise he gives them directions to his house, the child’s name (Elya), the letter, the name of a captain who owes him a favor, and the password to give the child’s nanny/guardian and send them on their way to a cave about a mile up the coast. He tells them a secret door in the cave leads to a tunnel which ultimately leads to the cities sewers. No more than 100 yards from a Ravilaran camp, though the army doesn't seem to notice them. He wishes them luck and tells them he’ll meet them in Vanadar.

Encounter 3: Tunnel Rats (Level 2 – 625 XP)

Read to party: Your feet are sore after walking what seems like miles through the tunnel. The tunnel seems cramped but well constructed, with ancient timbers shoring up the dank smelling earth. Eventually, it dead ends at a wooden door.
The trip through the tunnel is relatively easy, most of the way. It is when they reach the sewers that they have their first problem. The door opens into a large network of cellars. This cellar is guarded by the local wererat clan. They want no one to enter or leave through the tunnel because they plan on scavenging the cities remains when it falls but do not want any soldiers coming down into their tunnels. Thus they have blocked the tunnel, but have not informed the Ravilarans. In the cellars near the entrance are the following: 2 Wererats, 1 Rat swarm and 2 dire rats. The wererats of Arthain are renowned for their ability to train and tame their kin. These are no exception. As soon as the party enters, the regular rats will swarm the group, while the wererats will attack stragglers from hiding, concentrating on the weakest foes, trusting the rats to swarm any heavily armed foes.

Aftermath: After the group has rested and have ahd a few minutes to venture intot he sewers, it begins to look like the group is in real trouble. What seems like hundreds of shadows with yellow eyes will begin filling up the sewer tunnels, the Wererat clan and their rat allies. However, before any fight can start they will scatter. The PCs will hear hundreds of footsteps running through the tunnel coming down the tunnel. It is apparent, that Ravilar has found their way to break the siege.

Encounter 4: Sewer Chase (Level 1 – 300 - 600 XP)

Read to party: The shadows dissipate almost as quickly as they appeared. The wererats, apparently, have no stomach for a fight. Then it becomes apparent to you why they scattered. The ‘tromp, tromp, tromp’ of booted feet and the clank of armor indicate that the Army of Ravilar has found you and that Guldar’s secret entrance to the city is a secret no more.

Hundreds of Ravilaran soldiers are coming through the tunnel. Unless the party is suicidal, they will likely run. They will have to find their way to the surface evading wererats and Ravilaran soldiers alike. This is a skill challenge. Continually emphasize that the army is on their heels and that the wererats are lurking in the dark.

Setup: To evade their foes and reach the surface of the city before the city falls.
Level: 1
Complexity: 3 (8 successes before 4 failures)
Primary Skills: Athletics, Dungeoneering, Streetwise, Perception
Athletics (DC 15): This represents outright running, jumping and climbing through the sewers. This can be tried as often as desired, but every failure costs a healing surge (as the PC misses a jump, or falls, etc) in addition to counting as a failure.
Dungeoneering (DC15): Characters trained in dungeoneering know their way around underground environments and know subtle cues to help them find a way to the surface. A success also gives a +2 to any other characters next perception check.
Streetwise (DC 20): A streetwise character might actually have some familiarity with the city’s sewers and know his way around them.
Perception (20): Every second round of the challenge, a wererat will try to ambush the party. He will strike from ambush (if the check is failed) and give chase. This can happen twice. On those rounds the perception check spots the ambush but doesn’t contribute to the chase. On any other round, it can spot subtle clues that point the way to the surface.
Success: The party emerges from the sewers into the city’s market district well ahead of the pursuing army, enough to give some warning that they are coming (and for the militia to rally enough to hold them off a while). The group can make a bee line for Guldar’s house, give the passwords to the servants and the nanny, grab Elya (who is ten years old and very stubborn, but seems oddly used to this sort of thing), and go. The PCs have a chance (a passive DC of 20, barring special circumstances) to notice someone in the crowd following them (Halrith, the doppelganger who also was the one that tipped off the Ravilarans, so that he could get into the city himself). He will start as a Ravilaran soldier but will shift to the form of an Arthainian soldier to get to the edge of the fight and then shift to the form of a commoner to follow them. But otherwise, they will be unharmed as they run for the docks and the ship Guldar recommended.

Failure: The Ravilarans get to the surface first and pour out into the street, fighting their way toward the gate to open it for their comrades. The party will come up in the middle of a pitched battle and they will have to fight their way past a Ravilaran Attack squad to leave the market district. The squad will consist of 3 Human Guards, 4 Human Rabble and a Human Mage (A level 3 encounter). The mage will have an Orb of Sanguinary Repercussions (Treasure Parcel 1). The fight will occur in a market packed with merchant stands, barrels, crates, fruit carts and pie vendors. Once past the soldiers they can make a beeline for Guldar’s house and pick up the child, but they will barely make it to the dock just in time to make the last ship as it leaves the docks and the city begins to burn

Encounter 4: Just When You Thought You Made It… (Level 3 – 750 XP)

Read to Party: It isn’t long after your ship leaves the dock that you see smoke rising from the once proud city of Arthain. By the time the city sinks below the horizon, it is clearly in flame. Elya clings tightly to the leg of (insert name of biggest, toughest PC) and no one knows what fate has in store for you next. You can only rest, wait and see.

At this point the party can take an extended rest. They will actually have three days on the boat, before anything more happens to them. Elya is a sweet child and will try to endear herself to the party. She will become especially attached to any character who doesn’t like children. She will ask a lot of questions (especially of obviously non-human PCs, such as Dragonborn or Tieflings) and will be otherwise a normal 10 year old. The other refugees will be shell shocked and unsure of what to do next.

Meanwhile, Halrith knows he can’t take the PCs alone so will begin subtly looking for unscrupulous sorts to help him. By the time the boat reaches the docks of Vanadar he will have recruited a Dwarf Bolter (a merc who will do anything for money), a Human Berserker (formerly the leader of a gang in the city, who is looking to make a few GP) and two Human bandits (‘associates’ of the berserker). They won’t make their move until the boat reaches Vanadar.

Once on the docks, the Humans and the dwarf will start a fight with the PCs. While the PCs are distracted, Halrith will try to grab the kid. His goal will to be to get away with her while the others are under orders to kill the PCs. He will only stop and fight if he has to, and PCs will have to be very mindful of anything which might damage the child (she has 1 hp). However, none of them will fight to the death and will try to get away if they get low on HP. The fight will take place on a dock with lots of lines, nets, ropes, crates and barrels for terrain. The PCs will have to pull out all the stops to survive and keep the child out of Halrith’s clutches. He is cocky and likes to talk, so during the fight he will let slip why he is doing this and who he works for. If he must run away, he will use his shape shifting powers to throw them off track at every opportunity, preferring to go into a crowd and ‘blend in’.

Aftermath: After the fight, Guldar will find the PCs. Elya is thrilled to see her daddy once again. If Halrtih never has the opportunity to spill the beans about his activities, Guldar will come clean. He tells the PCs he owes them beyond his ability to repay and tells them that if they need anything, ever, just come to him. He gives them 200 more GP and an Amulet of Health (parcels 3 and 5) in gratitude. He also points out, ominously, that the Duke likely will have his sights set on Vanadar next…

Possible Continuation:

This adventure could easily be expanded into a whole campaign. Vanadar is a rough place, barely tamed, and the PCs could find a lot of work helping to tame it, all the while fending off agents sent by the Duke. Guldar will continue in his occupation (both of them) and as a friend of the PCs, he would give them first pick of any 'special jobs' that need doing, as well as telling them about any intersting info he finds out (rumors of lost treasures, that sort of thing). They could easily spend the entire heroic tier doing this, culminating in fending off a Ralivaran invasion force. The Paragon tier would see them reclaiming Arthain from the grip of the Duke, who by now is one of Bane’s chosen servants and has many powerful allies such as archons and angels at his disposal. By Epic tier, they will have reclaimed Arthain but the Duke will be working on ascending to Demigod status, as an Exarch of Bane. Culminating in a grand showdown as the Duke frees the Tarrasque and taps into a secret power source of the Primordials in a bid to replace Bane himself and rule the world as its god-king.

This adventure meets all of the required criteria set forth in the challenge

A. It gives a group of PCs a reason to adventure together
B. It includes five encounters
C. The Duke of Ralivar (and his agents and sodiers) is intended as a recurring enemy. Halrith can be one too, if he escapes
D. Guldar is intended as a recurring ally.

It contains the following optional criteria.

1. The recurring antagonist, the Duke of Ralivar, is known by the end but never met.
2. It does not involve a tavern inn or public meeting hall
3. It ends more than 100 miles from where it began
4. It includes a social encounter, a skill challenge and a combat
5. It provides ideas on how to turn it into a campaign through 30th level
6. If the party fails the skill challenge, it involves pie;)
Sign In to post comments