[4e] Expert Dungeon Master Competition #8: Craft a Plotline!

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Expert Dungeon Master Competition #8
Craft a Plotline!



[indent]An Expert Dungeon Master can create a compelling plotline, often out of disparate elements that arise from time to time in a campaign. This competition asks you to create an engaging and fun plotline from the optional elements.[/indent]

Welcome to the eighth 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 order to enter the competition, your entry must fulfill the following required elements:
  • Name your plotline.
  • Describe the number and levels of the PCs expected to run through the plotline.
  • Describe a plotline, including one or more story hooks (how the PCs get involved), one or more developments that might occur depending on PC actions, and one or more endings for the plotline.


In addition, the entry must include at least three of the following ten optional elements:
  • A location within the Elemental Chaos.
  • A painted stone.
  • A pomegranate.
  • A riddle.
  • A roc.
  • A scar or tattoo.
  • A wedding.
  • An abacus.
  • An unfaithful spouse.
  • Two feuding families, towns, tribes, etc.


Following are some general rules of the Expert DM Competition.
[post=16059666]>>>You can read the complete contest rules here<<<[/post]


  • 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 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 a website other than the post on which the entry appears. Images hosted on, or links to, other websites will be ignored by the judges when scoring.
  • 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 close of the competition, will be disqualified.


The contest will run from today through Friday March 27, 2009. All entries must be submitted no later than 12:00 midnight on that day (Eastern Standard Time). The judges of this contest are AceRumble, TwinBahamut, and wrecan, and the coordinator of this contest is wrecan.

Good luck and have fun!!

Questions & Answers
(questions posed by potential entrants and the coordinator's response)



Q. How long is a plotline?

A. As long as you like, from one game session to an entire campaign arc, keeping in mind the Usability criteria.



Q. Should I provide stats?

A. We leave that to your discretion, keeping in mind the Usability criteria.



Q. Concerning optional element 5, what qualifies as a roc?

A. Any of the creatures described in the Monster Manual under the category of "roc" would qualify, as well as any creature you create that would be classifiable as a roc. Please note that the less roc-like your homemade roc is, the lower your Thematics score.



Q. Concerning optional element 10, can you include more than two feuding parties?

A. Yes, as long as there are at least two. Similarly, for purposes of the other optional elements, you must include at least one, but may include more.

Entry List



  • [post=18191818]OldDawg's Brides of Ashton Ketch[/post] (levels 1-3) [highlight](Gold Medal Winner!)[/highlight]
  • [post=18079015]Veok's Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde[/post] (level 20) [highlight](Silver Medal Winner!)[/highlight]
  • [post=18183786]Lord Ventnor's Money is the Root of All...[/post] (from level 8 to 10) [highlight](Bronze Medal Winner!)[/highlight]
  • [post=18053071]yellowdingo's Uprising[/post] (levels 4-7)
  • [post=18065346]Witchslasher's Duplicity[/post] (level 13)
  • [post=18068816]tcrsavage's Fire in the Sky[/post] (levels 4-6)
  • [post=18083834]Shinobicow's War of the Twin Stone Gods [/post] (levels 8-9)
  • [post=18116535]JayJian's Escape from Shilous[/post] (levels 2-3)
  • [post=18140849]Bellmaethorian's Crushed[/post] (level 20+)
  • [POST=18141940]Novatack's Blood War[/post] (from level 4 to 20)
  • [post=18182807]dulsi's Slithering No More[/post] (levels 13-15)
  • [post=18185308]Saint Keelon's Treasure of the Golden Sands[/post] (from level 5 to 25)
  • [post=18190101]lazzmaniandevil's Flood[/post] (from level 1 to 15)


Disqualified or After-Hours Entries
  • [post=18090427]Nykrothane's Winds of Ash[/post] (levels 11-13)

Medalists





[Deck=The Silver Medal Goes To...]

Veok with "Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde"!!

[/deck]

[Deck=The Gold Medal Goes To...]

OldDawg with


"Brides of Ashton Ketch"!!!

[/deck]

Congratulations to all of you!

The gold medalist, OldDawg, is eligible for the custom title of "Heroic Dungeon Master" (if so desired) and is also now eligible to judge future competitions! In addition, this is Lord Ventnor's second medal in the XDMCs, which means Lord Ventnor too is entitled to the custom title of "Heroic Dungeon Master" (Veok was already eligible to judge thanks to a gold medal in the MDMCs). If OldDawg or Lord Ventnor win subsequent competitions, their custom title can be changed to "Paragon Dungeon Master" and then "Epic Dungeon Master"!

Thanks also to my fellow judges, AceRumble and TwinBahamut who did a great job judging the competitions and were so speedy (putting me to shame). I am so very grateful to them for volunteering.

Congratulations again to everyone for such wonderful entries and thanks for making the XDMCs a continuing success!

Anybody who wishes to edit their entries are welcome to do so. Also, judges are welcome to post their comments. (My comments should be posted tonight.)

Stay tuned for XDMC #9 to begin (hopefully) in a few weeks. In the meantime, enjoy the carefully tabulated scores below.

[b]Concolidated Scores by Entry[/b]<br /> [b]Entry Creat'y Usab'y Theme Clar'y Bonus Total Author's Entry[/b]<br /> 1 5 2/3 6 2/3 5 2/3 3 2/3 21 2/3 yellowdingo's Uprising<br /> 2 7 1/3 8 1/3 4 2/3 5 25 1/3 Witchslasher's Duplicity<br /> 3 8 1/3 4 2/3 5 2/3 5 23 2/3 tcrsvage's Fire in the Sky<br /> 4 12 1/3 12 7 2/3 7 1/3 39 1/3 Veok's Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde<br /> 5 10 9 7 1/3 5 2/3 32 Shinobicow's War of the Twin Stone Gods<br /> 6 9 2/3 7 4 2/3 4 2/3 26 JayJian's Escape from Shilous<br /> 7 10 9 6 1/3 6 1/3 31 2/3 Bellmaethorian's Crushed<br /> 8 9 8 7 4 2/3 28 2/3 Novatack's Blood War<br /> 9 10 2/3 9 1/3 4 1/3 5 1/3 29 2/3 dulsi's Slithering No More<br /> 10 12 1/3 11 8 7 2/3 39 Lord Ventnor's Money is the Root of All&#8230;<br /> 11 12 1/3 9 1/3 7 2/3 6 2/3 36 Saint Keelon's Treasure of the Golden Sands<br /> 12 12 1/3 9 2/3 7 2/3 7 1/3 37 lazzmaniandevil's Flood<br /> 13 12 1/3 10 8 2/3 7 2 40 OldDawg's Brides of Ashton Ketch<br /> <br /> [b]Consolidated Scores by Result[/b]<br /> [b]Entry Creat'y Usab'y Theme Clar'y Bonus Total Author's Entry[/b]<br /> 13 12 1/3 10 8 2/3 7 2 40 OldDawg's Brides of Ashton Ketch<br /> 4 12 1/3 12 7 2/3 7 1/3 39 1/3 Veok's Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde<br /> 10 12 1/3 11 8 7 2/3 39 Lord Ventnor's Money is the Root of All&#8230;<br /> 12 12 1/3 9 2/3 7 2/3 7 1/3 37 lazzmaniandevil's Flood<br /> 11 12 1/3 9 1/3 7 2/3 6 2/3 36 Saint Keelon's Treasure of the Golden Sands<br /> 5 10 9 7 1/3 5 2/3 32 Shinobicow's War of the Twin Stone Gods<br /> 7 10 9 6 1/3 6 1/3 31 2/3 Bellmaethorian's Crushed<br /> 9 10 2/3 9 1/3 4 1/3 5 1/3 29 2/3 dulsi's Slithering No More<br /> 8 9 8 7 4 2/3 28 2/3 Novatack's Blood War<br /> 6 9 2/3 7 4 2/3 4 2/3 26 JayJian's Escape from Shilous<br /> 2 7 1/3 8 1/3 4 2/3 5 25 1/3 Witchslasher's Duplicity<br /> 3 8 1/3 4 2/3 5 2/3 5 23 2/3 tcrsvage's Fire in the Sky<br /> 1 5 2/3 6 2/3 5 2/3 3 2/3 21 2/3 yellowdingo's Uprising

Do you make an adventure spanning several levels? Or is the plot line supposed to be a campaign and go from lvl 1 to 30?
A plotline is an adventure with a beginning, middle and an end. Whether you want it to span one game session or from level 1 to 30 is up to you. Bear in mind the Usability of any given plotline, however.
Creepy . . . I was just thinking that I wanted to get some comments from the DMs of the world on my campaign's planned metaplot, and along comes XDMC! Plus I missed the last one. This should be great!
Do i have to stat anything? If not then i may be able to try and come up with an entry. 4th is not my thing so i wouldn't be able to stat out monsters or skill challenges or anything really.
Do i have to stat anything?

That is left to the discretion of the contestant. If you fail to stat something that the judges feel should have been statted, that might be reflected in your Usability score. If you craft a plotline for which it is unnecessary to provide stats, then no worries.
Am I the only one taken aback by the optional elements? They seem so oddly distant from the past 6 competitions.

For optional element 10, is it specifically TWO feuding families/whatevers? or is it more like "two or more"?.
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
I may have to throw my hat in the ring on this one!
This... should be fun.

So, do we have to provide encounters, stuff like that?
Title: Uprising
3-5 Characters of Levels 4-7

DELIVERY MEN: The PCs have been travelling on the road for many weeks with the four sacks they are to deliver to the head of the Merchant Guild in fair . The Wedding his Son to the daughter of a rival house is immanent and they must deliver before the wedding. The city is a corrupt cesspool filled with the best and the worst kinds of diversions. On arrival they find their weapons siezed by the City Watch. All but Daggers and Rapiers are confiscated.

THE INVITE: Having Made Delivery to a small shop (a dressmakers) they are invited (being trusted fellows that the Merchant who employed them would like to meet) to the Wedding. They will be expected to provide gifts of good value and dress in fine attire so baths all round.

THE WEDDING: At the post wedding Party, they meet their Employer and he greets them and hopes they enjoy themselves before moving on to the rest of the crowd (Dancing skills at the ready).

THE MURDER OF THE GROOM: As the Wedding Couple make for a Transport Palanquin the Groom is struck by a Pomegranate. Enhanced with a Specialized Magic Missile, the fruit has become a weapon that kills. The assailant (apparently a little street urchin) flees. But the Damage is done and the Groom is dead.

THE MERCHANTS FURY: Outraged at the murder of his son, The Merchant assassinates a member of the bride's family as a likely suspect (a minor Wizard).

BLOOD IN THE STREETS: The Conflict continues to escalate into acts of Terrorism perpetrated by both sides until there is an angry crowd gathered in the central market being spoken to by the Patrician. He is shouted down with a hail of Pomegranates (a few magic missile enhanced). Forced to retreat, he sends in his troops to disperse the crowds and find the ringleaders.

Leading the crowd are hoodlums carrying the sacks delivered by the PCs. They break out a huge number of Weapons contained within the four Bags of Holding. They arm the Peasants and Lead them against the Patricians guards (Soldiers with Polearms and Padded Shirts).

The PCs can Lead the crowd, try and stop the Massacre, or they can flee the city (they did smuggle in the weapons).

AFTERMATH: The PCs will be implicated as the smugglers of Weapons (with or without their knowledge they are going to hang). Unless they can Kill the Patrician with their army of Peasants, they must flee the City.
The Citadel Megadungeon: http://yellowdingosappendix.blogspot.com.au/2012/08/the-citadel-mega-dungeon-now-with-room.html
For optional element 10, is it specifically TWO feuding families/whatevers? or is it more like "two or more"?.

I would say two or more would be fine. (If you have three, you necessarily have two). Similarly, a store of abaci would meet the abacus element, even though it says "an" abacus. What say the other judges?
So, do we have to provide encounters, stuff like that?

See Required Element C.
Yellowdingo draws first blood! The entry list is updated!
In the MDMC there was a standing limit on which books to be used. With the XDMC I've looked hard to see if there are any such limits and have found none. This the PH2 coming out some of the classes seem to fit my NPC's better then the PH classes.Are books other then the "Core 3" usable?

All the Best,

Nani?
I would say two or more would be fine. (If you have three, you necessarily have two). Similarly, a store of abaci would meet the abacus element, even though it says "an" abacus. What say the other judges?

For the feuding families (or towns, tribes, etc), I would say that it is indeed fine if there are more than just two. However, I will warn that adding more than two greatly increases the complexity of the situation, so it would be much more difficult to pull off. It might be very worthwhile, but I think trying to describe a feud between three factions could demand as much as three times the amount of description and detail as a feud between two factions.

Also, for the record, this requirement does explicitly state that it is a feud between two groups, not individuals. A squabble between two people does not qualify unless it snowballs into something much bigger than that for clear reasons. Also, not all conflicts necessarily fall under the idea of a "feud", though the definition of a feud can be very flexible. For example, full scale warfare between two city states is far too severe and destructive to be called a feud, and a friendly rivalry between two merchant's guilds is not spiteful enough, but almost anything in between may qualify (depending on specifics of course).

I hope I am not discussing this more than I should, but I would prefer to avoid having to penalize someone's score just because we are using different definitions. I know how annoying that can be.
I hope I am not discussing this more than I should, but I would prefer to avoid having to penalize someone's score just because we are using different definitions. I know how annoying that can be.

On the contary, I apprieate the fact that your try to avoid penalizing someone's score because of different definitions and applaud the effort.

All the Best,

Nani?
I agree, TB. I think your clarification was excellent.

As to Nani?'s question, ther is no limit to the official material you may use.. However, your Clarity score may suffer if you don't appropriately state from which sourcebook you get a class, creature, power, etc.
Concerning some issues previously brought up:

Am I the only one taken aback by the optional elements? They seem so oddly distant from the past 6 competitions.

You are probably disoriented from the fact that this XDMC may have the least structured topic of any so far. In previous ones, there was a strongly stated concept (BBEG, cult, etc) that the optional elements were meant to support, so would naturally share some related qualities.

Here, the participants are essentially providing the concept themselves through the plotline. As such, the optional elements' seeming unrelatedness to the competition's requirements and to each other comes more from the fact that this time around they are offered with no binding continuity. That's YOUR job to provide

As for the quantity of items, indeed the plot could have for example a single abacus or an entire roomful, but the number shouldn't be capricious. That is, the reason WHY there's an entire roomful of abacuses (abaci?) should have some relevance to the plotline.

For opt. element 10, I also agree that more than 2 involved parties would be allowed, but as previously mentioned that would greatly increase the difficulty of its successful employment. In judging we may reward creative usage of an element, but too creative can also spill into needless complexity or even missing the basis of the element all together, so watch out for Themes and Clarity in that case.

Like TB, I hope that I'm not giving out too much direction here, but don't want to see a lot of otherwise great entries be penalized for misunderstanding the intent of presentation for submission.
wie immer, it seems in my rush to get my thoughts down on paper, I've produced something that I like -- yet doesn't quite fit the vein of the contest. Ah well, back to square one.

That said, I have a question regarding optional element 5. Is it a roc, roc? Or is it anything under the monster manual entry for roc (including, perhaps, custom-made monsters that are roc-like.)
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Attempting a plot for this competition is tough :O
Get stuck half way when coming across stuff that doesn't sync well with each other. grrr. rofl
Is it a roc, roc? Or is it anything under the monster manual entry for roc (including, perhaps, custom-made monsters that are roc-like.)

Any of those three would be acceptable. However, the less roc-like your homespun roc is, the lower your Thematics score might be.
First time entering XDMC, so hopefully I didn't mess anything up :D :D

Duplicity

An adventure for up to 5 players of level 13

Background:
Since the players have made it to level 13 they should have some sort of reputation, at least within their community. When they return from their latest adventure they hear that the current ruler of their community, Lord Cardlin had died. This does not come as anything completely unexpted as he was very ill, what is a surprise is that the Lord's son, and only heir, has disappeared.

Part 1; The Offer:
The players are at their usual tavern hangout, having just finished their latest adventure. In walks a beautiful, young girl, flanked by two burly guards. She walks over to the players and introduces herself as Marawen, daughter of Lord Cardlin. She tells the players that her brother, Vittorio, became severely depressed after her father died and disappeared shortly after his funeral. Leaving behind a stone the size of a fist with a huge brown bird attacking a ship painted on it, which she gives to the players. She implores them to find out what happened to her brother, since their community has no man, she is being forced to wed the duke of a neighboring community, who will take over as lord of their lands. With this land added to his own, the Duke could have the power to potentially take over the entire country.

Part 2; Investigation:
Using their own knowledge the players or knowledge discovered around town (Skill Challenge) the players find out that Vittorio had journeyed to a mountain that most steer away from due to rumors that a Roc nests in the mountain. Also asking too many questions (Failed skill challenge) will result in groups of thugs attacking the players. If left alive and questioned, the thugs reveal they were hired by Vittorio himself to deal with anyone asking too many questions about him, the thugs can be intimidated or bribed to reveal Vittorio's location.

Part 3; The Roc Cave:
They journey to the cave takes most of the afternoon. They must locate the only entrance into the mountain and find a way up to it. The cave is pitch black and full of devils and demons, something unheard of in these lands. As the players battle their way through the cave, facing various challenges they find Vittorio. He is responsible for raiding the demons and devils, he has his father's body and is attempting to make a pact with the demons to bring his father back, Lord Cardlin cannot be resurrected by convential means since he died of natural causes. As the players arrive they see that Cardlin's body is possessed by a fiend and it is moving to kill Vittorio. The players must fend off the fiends and protect Vittorio. Once victorious Vittorio says that he was afraid to take over for Lord Cardlin and thought himself not ready. He is now ready to go back and become lord of the land.

Part 4; Reversal:
As they're leaving the players are attacked by the returning Roc, they must once again protect the weakened Vittorio. After dispatching the Roc, they can make their way back to the city. As they approach, Marawen and her bodyguards meet them on the outskirts of town. Her brother smiles and holds out his arms, then is suddenly hit in the chest by two crossbow bolts. Marawen states that this was her and the duke's plan from the beginning as she casts a spell that ignites her brother's body in flames. Vittorio had to be eliminated to make sure the baron could take over unquestioned and she could become queen. She rides off to her wedding, leaving one of her bodyguards and the assassins behind to deal with the PCs. The last words she says to the players are "This land is mine..."

Part 5; Stopping the Wedding
Marawen has barred the players from entering the town. At this point they must either give up and move to another town, or they'll have to find a way in and attempt to stop the wedding. The wedding is well guarded by both the town guard and the Duke. They'll have to find a way in and a way to overcome the insurmountable odds to challenge the Duke and Marawen. They'll reach the wedding at the most opportune time (Ideally: "If anyone has any objections to this union...") and when the fighting gets heavy Marawen will run into her mansion. The duke is nothing to look past, he's a capable warrior and a capable leader. After the battle, Marawen's caravan can be seen galloping to the east out of the kingdom to live another day.
List updated! Welcome to the XDMC, Witchslasher!
Wooo, I think I'm overthinking things. I have got to cut down on my rambling tendancies -- I'm halfway through describing a full-blown adventure, and the contest requires something quite different.

I've decided I like it. It is markedly unconventional and a definite change.


Is it a bad or a good thing that I'm considering recollecting my thoughts via flowchart? O.o
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
Is it a bad or a good thing that I'm considering recollecting my thoughts via flowchart? O.o

I write all of my good adventures with flowcharts, so I hope it isn't a bad thing...
If I don't use flowcharts or outlines, I usually forget stuff...
I kinda think of an outline and then expand upon it..... Making sense is so overrated...
Title: FIRE IN THE SKY

Level: 4-6 4th Level PCs.

The Setup: The Firemaw dwarves have recently reclaimed an old subterranean ruin and created a trading post for goods coming in and out of the Underdark. They are greedy, mercenary, and utterly ruthless, but they maintain strict order in this gathering place of slave traders, artifact peddlers, and thieves. Drow, duergar, sentient subterranean monsters and surface dwellers alike all gather here to buy and sell contraban, as the city itself contains a highway directly into the Underdark. The Pcs have just discovered that Rapha, a recurring villain, has come to Firemaw Fair to attend a wedding...between two thoroughly corrupt wizards. Justacar, the groom, hired Rapha to find an item called the Painted Stone and bring it to his fiancee on their wedding day at Firemaw Faire.

The Hook(s): Rapha had one of the PCs implicated in a murder, causing the party to flee from the Dalelands until they can bring the truth to justice. On the run, they are approached by a Githyanki Invoker of Bahamut who claims to have knowledge of his whereabouts, but requires a favor: when they locate him, they must stop him from taking the painted stone to Firemaw Faire. They are warned to avoid the "tattooed man" at all costs, and to stay as far from the wedding as possible, as it involves very shadowy characters whom the gith does not want to set the party against. Sounds appealing! Stop Rapha before delivery and get revenge and their names cleared while helping this Gith. The Invoker promises them a reward of Bahamut's supreme pleasure if they succeed. (Granting an additional bonus to each weapon they possess)

If the PCs take off right away, it is possible to catch Rapha's trail before he enters the Underground Highway. If they do, they have an encounter with Rapha and two gnoll huntmasters and 6 hyenas. They set the pack on the toughest PC to soften the party up for future encounters, and then flee to the Highway. Rapha does not stay to fight and as soon as the dogs are in melee, he turns and escapes with the Painted Stone.

If the PCs delay, that encounter is prevented but they cannot catch up with Rapha until the wedding event.

Just outside the entrance to the Underground Highway, a blind seer calls out to the party and reads their fortunes whether they like it or not. She warns them not to enter the tunnels, for fire will rain from the heavens and all inside will be doomed to death and darkness. She then asks for coins from the 'condemned' to help an old beggar woman.

The PCs enter the Underground Highway and track Rapha to Firemaw Fair. The dwarves have a heavy military presence in the street, and if violence breaks out they stop it almost immediately. Punishment is severe for any disruption of the lucrative trade that takes place, off of which the dwarves have grown extremely wealthy. They must roleplay their search for rapha or make streetwise checks to locate the wedding grounds further into the ruin, deep in the lower city. If a PC makes a history or arcana check of 20 or better, they recall that the Painted Stone is a children's story about a disobedient boy who steals a dragon egg.

The PCs arrive to see the wedding surrounded by a host of dwarf guards, and Justacar is standing between his bride and this massive, red bearded dwarf with a tattoo of tiamat on his bald head. The wedding has been interrupted and a shouting match erupts. During the excitement Rapha makes a getaway, hoping to avoid trouble now that he's been paid. The Painted Stone is held by Justacar's bride, and he refuses to hand it over to the dwarven authorities who claim its presence in the Fair holds dire consequences for everyone. Justacar, being hot tempered and arrogant, unleashes a fireball on the dwarves! All hell breaks loose-the wedding is a shambles and the tattooed dwarf begins a horrificly disfiguring shape alteration...he morphs into his true form, Ralanastrax the World Serpent, Ancient of Dragonkin and Eldest of all creatures. The PCs roll saves vs. fear, but it is important at this level that they cannot succeed, no matter how high they roll. A natural 20 lets that character flee immediately, but they leave their friends behind. The purpose of this is to instill in your party the sheer terror that a dragon encounter should provoke. Describe how they realize that they have thoughts of being insignificant and worthless and possibly even consider offering themselves as sacrifices to the dragon, claiming their unworthiness to live in a world inhabited by such greatness. The dragon at full size, is taller than the highest tower in the ruins. He swipes Justacar aside, rending magic and flesh and spraying blood for a hundred meters. His bride recoils in horror, but the dragon turns to see someone has made off with the egg! (rapha, duh!) He rages. It is important to show how powerful and awesome the dragon is in physical description, and how unapproachably high level Several bystanders literally die of fright. Suddenly, all the air in the cavern seems to disappear at once, and the dragon inhales...

Let the PCs roleplay their terror in anticipation of the dragon's breath. Let them look about, make quick skill checks, or prepare to flee.

The dragon lets loose a gout of flame...but NOT AT THE FLOOR. He turns his blast toward the ceiling of the cavern! Describe to the PCs how the ruins get so hot that their eyebrows and hair are burned away and their skin blisters as Ralanastrax breathes fire for over a minute, two minutes! He turns the ceiling to slag and liquid hot magma, which rains down and begins to scorch the Fair. Lava rampages through the streets and people begin to burn alive. The dragon doesn't even flinch as magma falls over him, instead he continues his blast. Finally, the blast ceases, but he has condemned the entire fair to devastation. The way out above is gone...and with a roar that causes the PCs gums to bleed, the dragon leaps into the ceiling and burrows his way upward, with a crash so great the mountain above collapses on the cavern. The PCs' only option is to flee the lava and falling stone toward the entrance to the underdark! A chase scene occurs, the PCs make it to the entrance, but they are stopped by a runed gate with an abacus for a locking device. The pragmatic creators of the ruins originally kept the gate as a means of tracking how many people were visiting their city...It simply reads in undercommon: How many? ...the solution is to slide the correct number of party members from left to right, indicating their number. The gate swings open, but the lava is also right behind them. Another rockslide sounds just as the door slams shut behind them, sealing them away from doom.

If the PCs ever wish to return home, they must find a way to the surface. Then, they must consider what to do if they reach it, having witnessed the ire of a 4000 year old dragon newly awakened.

This adventure is the start of an underdark campaign, with the goal being to return home. Countless adventures await, granting the party riches and experience, and seeing the unknown wonders of the world below. When the PCs find a way out they should just be reaching Epic tier and be able to handle what follows. They must confront and destroy Ralanastrax, who has devastated the surface in their absence. He is collecting a set of 5 'painted stones' which are in fact his brood from ancient days. He is building the magic to awaken them, and intends to unleash them on the world in the name of Tiamat.
I think I have a good idea for a campaign, but I was considering sending this in to Wizards, as a submission; If I posted it here first, would that give trouble, either in this competition or with Wizards?
Welcome, tcrsavage! List is updated!

I think I have a good idea for a campaign, but I was considering sending this in to Wizards, as a submission; If I posted it here first, would that give trouble, either in this competition or with Wizards?

I have no idea whether it will cause you trouble with Wizards.

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 close of the competition, will be disqualified.

As long as you meet this criterion than, for purposes of the contest, you're fine.
I think I have a good idea for a campaign, but I was considering sending this in to Wizards, as a submission; If I posted it here first, would that give trouble, either in this competition or with Wizards?

It is probably not a good idea to post something here that you want to submit to WotC, for various reasons (if nothing else, if you post it here it is less valuable to them and thus less likely to be accepted). You really should choose to submit it to one or the other.
I think I have a good idea for a campaign, but I was considering sending this in to Wizards, as a submission; If I posted it here first, would that give trouble, either in this competition or with Wizards?

There are people on these boards who have had things published by WOTC. You might consider cultivating a relationship with them. In the short term, the winners in the XDMC and MDMC are usually as good or not better then what is being published by WoTC. Read the back threads and ask yourself just how good are you. If you don't think your on par with the medal winners, start submitting here. The comments and suggestions are just the type of thing that will get you better.

All the Best,

Nani?
The Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde is a plotline for 5 20th level PC's

The elemental chaos is a wild and unpredictable place. One never knows when something will briefly coalesce, shining and pristine, from the folds of chaos... or be driven under a sea of entropy. These formations contain strange, dimensional powers, and are exceedingly rare. The city of Veilgaarde has long been embroiled in conflict, as factions of elementals sought to control one such formation, an object known as a Crystal Beacon.


A Crystal Beacon is a rare, natural formation within the elemental chaos. Ritual casters within 100 feet of a Crystal Beacon may cast an alternate version of the Elemental Transference ritual (MotP 150) to return the ritual participants to the material plane. Powered by the power of the Crystal Beacon itself, this altered ritual takes half the time and is free of component cost.

Because of this property, Crystal Beacons are furiously sought after -- they make excellent starting points for raiding or trade operations upon the material plane, and elemental scholars are hoping to soon be able to use the Crystal Beacon's powers to access other planes as well. Crystal Beacon's are almost never isolated in the wilderness of the elemental chaos -- the strategic (and mercantile) benefits of the beacon ensure that some band or other will settle near the beacon at the first opportunity.


Prelude -- The Crystal Beacon of Veilgaarde

Veilgaarde is a planar city located within the elemental chaos; Until recently it was ruled by a group of Djinn known as the Thundercloud Court, but years upon years of cruel politics drove the lesser factions within the city into open rebellion. With the members of the Thundercloud Court either exiled or dead, three factions have risen to the forefront in the struggle for power and control of Veilgaarde's Crystal Beacon.

Surtur's Brood -- a band of fire giants and titans well known for their propensity to keep elemental animals (such as phoenixes) as both guards and pets, Surtur's Brood is the smallest and most volatile faction within the city. They are currently lead by a fire titan named Surtur, who, as custom, took the name of the clan as his own. The current Surtur is cold and calculating. He is not above breaking deals or contracts when favorable to him, trusting in both his own combat prowess and the fervor of his allies. In his mind, Veilgaarde has for far too long been under the callous heels of genies -- he wishes to seize Veilgaarde for his own, perhaps carving out a small kingdom while he's at it.

The Hellborne -- Veilgaarde lays close to the Abyss -- some would say dangerously close. The demon prince T'kriel has long had his eye on the city, and the current conflict has left Veilgaarde weak and vulnerable. He has sent one of his most trusted lieutennants, the Glabrezu W'pe, to rally the demons living in the city to his cause. W'pe has taken to his task with relish, never letting an oppurtunity for bloodshed to pass him by. Though the least favored faction in the city by a longshot, some of the ordinary citizens have thrown in their lots with this faction, either out of fear, or because they think the mighty demon has the best chance to win.

Maelstrom's Fury -- This council of powerful Efreeti and their archon minions represent the largest faction vying for control of Veilgaarde. They, more so than the other factions, hope to continue the mercantile conditions imposed by the estranged Djinni, and have taken to supplementing their forces with mercenaries in an attempt to tip the scales. The efreeti, chaotic by nature, share only a common goal, and infighting and scheming prevents them from making real headway against either of the other factions.

Hooks:

Elemental Leeching -- As primordial forces fight within the streets of Veilgaarde, the innate magicks of the Crystal Beacon are beginning to cause the very bindings of reality itself to fray. One or more cities has already been devastated by an unprecedented natural disaster -- tsunamis, firestorms, blizzards, and earthquakes, the result of the tearing planar boundary. Either the PCs themselves desire to investigate the causes, or one or more national leaders sends out a plea for help from the near-legendary adventurers. The PC's must determine why the planar boundaries are so fragile, and put an end to the escalating conflict.


Flight of the Thundercloud Court -- one day, suddenly and without warning, swarms of Djinn appear across the land, spewed forth from any number of planar portals. The elemental humanoids explain their arrival to no one, vacating the lands as quickly as they appear. Their abrupt appearance is evidently the sign of some planar upheaval -- several parties are interested in determining what, and are willing to arrange transport for those brave souls willing to indulge their idle curiosity.


Mercenaries of Maelstrom's Fury -- Tales of the party's latest exploits have eclipsed even planar boundaries. An efreeti Karadjin named Ignatius is interested in hiring the PCs to help end some conflict in the elemental chaos. Details are scarce, but the pay is good. And if their mission helps foster inter-planar trade, so more the better, right? At the very least, the benefits of having an efreeti lord owe you a favor are enormous.

Lost in the Elemental Chaos -- A spell gone awry; the final curse of an angry lich; an accidental stumbling through a planar boundary -- whatever the reason, the PC's have inadvertently wound up in the elemental chaos without the proper rituals to get back. The Crystal Beacon provides an easy way home, but there's no way that the factions within the city would let the PCs use the Crystal Beacon until the conflict is resolved.

Locations of Note:

Veilgaarde -- this city has not taken thousands of years of Djinni rule well. The city is a ghost of itself, all non-combatants either allied with one of the three factions or lurking within the bowels of the city, striving valiantly to eke out a living. The city itself was once a grand affair, built for large (or larger!) creatures. PC's may find themselves dwarfed by the architecture. Stairs made for large creatures, for instance, are considerably more exhausting for medium size creatures to climb than those of a normal scale.


The Crystal Beacon -- A massive crystal stone some 20 yards in diameter, the surface of the Soul Beacon is painted with thousands upon thousands of tiny runes containing magical power. It occupies a temple in the center of the city, an agreed upon sanctuary, where it is illegal for fighting to occur.



Part A -- Arriving in Veilgaarde

The PCs arrive in the city of Veilgaarde. No one is welcoming or friendly; the atmosphere is very tense; mercantile and service industries are virtually at a standstill -- because of the fighting, the PCs are the first visitors since the beginning of the rebellion. Though wary, none of the factions will make a move against the PC's until they (knowingly or inadvertently) show their true colors. This may be as simple as helping one side over another when the PCs stumble upon an unfolding skirmish, meeting with the leader of one of the factions, or even remaining within a single territory for a great deal of time. A DC 27 streetwise check will find a pliable (and unaligned) citizen, the Firesoul Genasi Kythriss, who will explain the situation to them. The general consensus among the unaffiliated is the hope that Maelstrom's Fury wins the struggle. The populace of Veilgaarde(comprised mostly elemental humanoids such as genasi, salamanders, and the like) believes Surtur's Brood is more interested in empire building than the welfare of the citizens, and demons, being demons, will care only about the unblemished lands that controlling the Crystal Beacon would open for ravaging. The efreeti, though they may be no better than the Djinni they've replaced, guarantee a profitable future for at least some portion of the citizens.

Part B -- Choosing Sides

If the PC's want to use the power of the Crystal Beacon to leave the elemental chaos, they must bring an end to the conflict, or at least give one faction enough of an advantage that they can finish the conflict without further help from the PC's. The PC's will likely end up helping either Surtur's Brood or Maelstrom's Fury, but even if they help the Hellborne, they will be allowed to leave. By allying with one of the factions within the city, the PCs will receive several benefits: they have a secure place to sleep, access to vendors, a safe haven to run to if pursued, and potent allies to back them up in larger engagements. Also, depending on how they go about aligning themselves with a faction, they may find themselves reimbursed for services delivered. A fourth option is that PC's decide to side with no one -- they may either stay in the city indefinitely (though it would be foolhardy to hope to defeat all three factions by themselves) or set out into the Elemental Chaos, seeking alternate passage home.

Part C -- Escalation

Assuming that the PC's ally themselves with one of the factions, their goals must invariably turn towards turning the stalemate. A surefire way to do this is to draw out and defeat the faction's leader, or, alternatively, defeat enough of a single faction's elite forces that their power base is unmitigatably diminished. However, such troops are unlikely to be found merely wandering the city -- they must be drawn out. The PC's engage in sabotage -- skill challenges -- and skirmishes with low-ranking and unimportant forces. The goal should not be to strike a crippling blow, but to hinder and cause enough of a ruckus to get noticed. Remember that the PC's are basically involved in a 2-front turf battle -- it is extremely possible that in the midst of a battle with one faction, forces belonging to a second group appear, complicating the encounter.

Part D -- Urban Strife

After causing enough of a ruckus, the opposing leaders finally label the PCs as a legitimate threat and bring out the big guns. The PC's begin to face tougher, more experienced troops, and may even be actively hunted, even ambushed. The climactic fights against the leader of the organization may happen on their terms (If the PC's want to infiltrate their headquarters, for instance) or the PCs may decide to instead draw them out (in which case, the PC's get to choose the battleground). The plot may jump back and forth between parts C and D depending on if the PC's spread out their attacks against both factions at once, or have focused the efforts on a single one.

Part E -- Mercenaries and Heroes


Regardless of how it comes about, once the PC's have defeated one or both of the faction leaders, they are approached by a Flamesoul Genasi named Kythriss (if they have not already met them earlier, see above). He is capable of casting the Elemental Transference ritual, and he offers to cast it to allow the PC's to leave. The catch is that Kythriss believes that none of the factions should control the Crystal Beacon, and is looking for a group of powerful like-minded individuals to protect him while he casts a modified ritual he has developed for that purpose. The PC's have a choice here -- they can ignore Kythriss, find someone else to cast the ritual, and head home, leaving the city under the control of their favored faction. If however, they agree with Kythriss , proceed to Part F! Kythriss is not overly bothered if the PC's refuse -- another band of adventurers is bound to come along eventually and he will try to convince them the same thing. Kythriss is relentless in his goals, and will continue to seek assistance until he is either successful or dead.

Part F -- Defend the Ritualist! (optional)

At first, Kythriss' ritual is undetectable. At the DM's discretion, and depending on the state of the PC's restedness, etc, it could take remaining factions 5, 10, or even 15 minutes before they realize something fishy is going on. The PC's suddenly become the targets of their former allies, and must buy Kythriss the time needed to complete the ritual. Attackers come in waves, and the PC's must fight them off in quick succession. The first couple of waves have no qualms with fighting the PCs, perfectly willing to deal with Kythriss after his protectors are dead, but as the ritual nears its final completion, the combined forces will surely seek to kill Kythriss first, and worry about the PCs later.(HP: 182; Bloodied: 91 AC: 33 Fortitude: 31 Reflex: 31 Will: 32, 3 healing surges.) If the PC's are successful, Kythriss completes his ritual, returning them to the material plane and successfully destroying the Crystal Beacon.

Part G -- Aftermath

If the PC's were hired to investigate the elemental leeching, having returned successfully, they are certainly allowed to pick up their reward. Also to consider are the ramifications of their actions -- if they left the Crystal Beacon active, there will be a definite influx of planar activity in the region. Depending on the faction they allied with, this may result in several events. Rampaging demons may plague the area; an army of fire giants appears in the middle of a well-known kingdom, ready to conquer; the price of magic items falls sharply as inter-planar merchants breathe new life into the marketplaces ofthe region. On the other hand, if they helped Kythriss destroy the beacon, they will have surely earned the enmity of one powerful elemental lord or other. In time, they may find assassins or the like repeatedly directed at them, an event which may necessitate a return trip through the elemental chaos to settle the affair.




Sample Encounters


The following are all acceptable encounters to be used within Part D. Faction allegiances are listed as well. These are meant as guides to help build the rest of the encounters.

Gelirion + Retainers -- Level 21 encounter -- 15,750 xp -- Maelstrom's Fury

Geliron [juh-LEER-on], Efreet Fireblade (Monster Manual 98) -- level 22 soldier
Air Archon Tempest Blade x2 (Manual of the Planes 114) -- level 18 skirmishers
Ice Archon Rimehammer x2 (Monster Manual 20) -- level 19 soldiers
Ice Archon Frostshaper (Monster Manual 21) -- level 20 controller


W'pe + Retainers -- Level 21 Encounter -- 15,800 xp -- the Hellbourne

W'pe, Glabrezu (Monster Manual 54) -- level 23 elite brute
Black Slaad (Monster Manual 239) -- Level 20 skirmisher
Abyssal Spitelasher x4 (see below) -- Level 20 minions



















Ignatius + Retainers -- Level 21 Encounter -- 15,600 xp -- Surtur's Brood

Ignatius, Fire Giant Blastmage (Monster Manual 103) [reflavoured (Eladrin) Ghaele of winter with the following changes-- large elemental humanoid (fire), replace resist cold with resist fire, remove resist 25 radiant and necrotic vulnerable. Winter's Touch, Freezing Ray, Chilling Defiance deal fire damage instead of cold damage but are otherwise identical] -- level 21 artillery

Phoenix (Monster Manual 220) -- level 19 elite brute
Fire Archon Blazesteels x2 (Monster Manual 19) -- level 19 soldiers
Fire Archon Ash Disciple (Monster Manual 19) -- level 20 artillery


Surtur + Retainers -- Level 21 Encounter -- 15,500 xp -- Surtur's Brood

Surtur, Fire Titan (Monster Manual 124) -- level 21 elite soldier
Efreet Cinderlord (Monster Manual 98) -- Level 23 artillery
Fire Giant Forgecallersx2 (Monster Manual 123) -- level 18 artillery (s)




Optional Elements Included:

1. A location within the Elemental Chaos

2. A painted stone -- the Crystal Beacon is a massive stone with mystic runes painted on it.

4. A roc -- Surtur's Brood uses phoenixes as guards and pets

10. Two feuding families -- Three factions fighting in what is essentially a giant turf war for control of the city of Veilgaarde.
If you look past the plot and the voice acting, Metroid: Other M was an okay game. Not a great game, but an adequate one. Not using the Metroid item collect jingle though? That, was a mistake.
List is updated!
The War of the Twin Stone Gods
Adventure for 4-5 Characters of level 8-9

Submitted for the 8th Expert Dungeon Master Competition by:
Shinobicow

Plotline Summary:
Following the death of the goddess of magic, Mystra, the world was sent into total disarray. The Spellplague wracked disaster on the land; mages lost control of the wizardly powers and the planes went into chaos. But the problems spread further than some even realized to an unexpected place: a pair of eidolons, servants of the goddess, now gone rogue. After a hundred years, a war, a truce, and a settlement, the abaci of magic were stolen from the scales of power and the war was left to wage on yet again, but now with greater forces and even higher stakes. The fate of a city lies in the hands of the outsiders.

Adventure Goals:
The War of the Twin Stone Gods is designed to take up several game sessions, but otherwise simply consists of a single adventure. It is meant to advance the players along their quest as part of another larger campaign arc. It is designed to fit several different types of play styles, specifically, this adventure plotline is designed to test not only the ability of the players to think critically in a battle setting, but also to use their skills at gathering information to both experience a robust adventure brimming with history and intrigue, but also to show them that gathering information can mean the difference between the destruction of a city or the peaceful coexistence of two rival clans. Fighting is not the only way, but it is still the main aspect of a Dungeons and Dragons adventure, to that end, if the players choose to fight, they can play out the end to a war.

It isn’t necessary for the players to talk to everyone in town to get the information they need, but within this town, there is a possibility that anyone you meet could be someone vital to fulfilling your mission. To this end, I have included a number of different skill challenges for gathering information among the people. Each of these skill challenges works something like a murder mystery puzzle. The players will be able to gather information from anybody they meet in town.

On a very rare chance it is possible to meet the person who is at the center of one of the major plot hooks. On the side of the city belonging to House Vern it is possible to meet Maria, the wife of Kanan Harper or her acquaintances.

On the side of the city belonging to the House of Dorn, it is possible that the players will meet Sirrel the Farstrider, the Eladrin Ranger who is the scout for the war party that is assembling on the edge of the Feywild, ready to strike at a moments notice should the fruit of life fall into danger.

The Two Relevant Tables are shown Below:
On the Street Encounters on the Side of Vern
01 The Leader of House Vern
02-05 An elite warrior of House Vern
05-10 A high ranked member of House Vern displaying the house mark.
11-20 A mid ranked member of House Vern displaying the house mark.
21-30 A mid ranked member of House Vern not displaying the house mark.
31-40 A low ranked member of House Vern not displaying the mark
41-60 Non involved citizen of Kal ‘ca Val
61-70 A low ranked member of House Dorn.
71-80 A mid ranked recruiter of House Dorn.
81-90 An acquaintance of Kanan Harper
91-95 A friend to Kanan Harper’s wife.
96-99 The wife of Kanan Harper
100 Kanan Harper’s long time friend and ally.

On the Street Encounters on the Side of Dorn:
01 The Leader of House Dorn
02-05 An elite warrior of House Dorn
05-10 A high ranked member of House Dorn displaying the house mark.
11-20 A mid ranked member of House Dorn displaying the house mark.
21-30 A mid ranked member of House Dorn not displaying the house mark.
31-40 A low ranked member of House Dorn not displaying the mark.
41-60 Non involved citizen of Kal ‘ca Val
61-70 A low ranked member of House Vern.
71-80 A mid ranked recruiter of House Dorn.
81-90 An acquaintance of Sirrel the Farstrider.
91-95 A friend of Sirrel the Farstrider.
96-99 A friend of Sirrel the Farstrider who knows his true intentions.
100 Sirrel the Farstrider

How you get the information:
The information is gathered by talking to the people on the street. The higher ranked the individual is within the house, the more information that person has regarding the mission that the players are on; however, on the same note, the higher ranked within the house the individual is, the harder important information is to get out of them. It’s up to the DM on how they wish to go about doing these skill checks and what DC’s they want to assign. Any encounter with an elite warrior or an encounter with the house leader should be adjudicated as a skill challenge in itself. If the players succeed they are able to discern the information they need.
Likewise, the higher the acquaintance level for those that know of Kanan Harper and Sirrel the Farstrider, the more that person knows as well. Likewise, skill challenges should be used when dealing with either of them as well.
Knowledge is divided into two categories, public and secret. Secret is only accessible to members high ranked within the houses, or very well acquainted with the two prominent NPC’s within the city.

The Info to be Gathered:
History:
[ Known by anyone in town]
When the goddess perished, in the time of her passing, two of her most loyal servants, Vern and Dorn two eidolons who had faithfully guarded one of her temples for centuries, both found themselves abandoned by their master in an instant. With her gone, they both felt that they were ripe to take her place. They began a feud that has now raged for a hundred years; over these years, both sides have developed masses of followers, people totally believing that these great stone lords were destined to become the new god of magic. At first the clans started a war, fighting over which one, Vern or Dorn, would become the true God of Magic; the battles were brutal and it tore apart the entire city; hundreds of people died on both sides, before a sort of truce was settled upon. The two rogue eidolons had a pair of magical abacuses forged that would measure the magical potential and physical might of both sides in order to see which eidolon could amass the greater amount of power.

Geography:
[Known by anyone in town, Information regarding the Eladrin in the forest is only available to acquaintances of Sirrel the Farstrider and is therefore considered secret]
The City of Kal ‘ca Val lies on both sides of a great valley surrounded by beautiful forests. The temple of the goddess of magic sits within the valley between the two sides of Kal ‘ca Val. The valley runs from north to south. The eastern side of the valley represents the House of Vern; the western side, the House of Dorn. The temple lies at the top of the valley to the north at the top of a giant waterfall which sends water down the valley past the city.

The city itself looks something like a full moon split down the center. 8 Great stone bridges span the gap of the chasm and allow the citizenry to pass uninhibited from either side of the city in order to do business. Those who are not connected with either house live a relatively simple and peaceful life. They have few problems and are protected from the outside by the two eidolons, who, although not truly living up to the status of being gods, are very powerful and their presence in the city keeps any evil outsiders at bay. This has made the city something of a safe haven now that the war is over, but now that the abaci are missing, the people are growing panicked by the threat of total war destroying the city.

The two sides of the city are virtually mirrors of each other. Each side has its own jail, operated by each of the two houses. Each side has a court where they try criminals. Each side has a great marketplace where business is conducted on a daily basis and where a morning market each day sells the Pomegranates of Life to the members of the two houses. Nearly every fruit vendor sells them from their personal orchards. These trees also grow freely in the city streets, however these fruits are strictly limited to members of the house and are therefore forbidden to be picked or eaten by foreigners. Anyone who eats the fruit must either then join the house on the side it was picked or face a jail sentence.

The forest near the city holds more secrets than the townsfolk are aware of. Because of the protection granted to them by the power of the eidolon, the city has been protected for all of these years not only from evil outsiders, but from the Eladrin of the Feywild. The forest near the city has a strong connection to the Feywild and hundreds of years ago, the Eladrin built a city on the material plane where Kal ‘ca Val now stands. They planted the mystical fruit of life that now grows in the city. As time went by, the Eladrin went back to the Feywild and new inhabitants came to live in Kal ‘ca Val. The people were peaceful and they feared not for the secret of their precious fruit which they left there. But now, the peace is lifting and war may break out. The Eladrin fear the arrogance of Vern and Dorn and if need be they may make a move to reclaim their lost city.

Politics:
[ Basic information is known by the citizenry, more advanced is only known by the members of the house, some information is only known to members of that house and is considered secret knowledge]
Each member of the two warring houses bears a tattoo of the goddess Mystra. The house of Vern bears a ring of eight stars. The House of Dorn bears a single seven pointed star. The tattoos are magically inlayed so that the Abaci know to include them in measuring the relative power of both sides. Vern and Dorn bear these marks painted on the stone of their bodies. Each of the two houses respects the laws of engagement regarding the peace that goes along with the treaty and merely strives to influence the balance through active recruiting. Because the city is divided by the valley, the only way to increase their numbers is by active recruiting. Heralds in each of the cities stand on crates and sing the praises of their chosen god to the people in order to influence the sides. Some of these heralds, the brave ones, will venture into the opposite side of town in order to recruit from the other house’s side of the city. These promoters are extremely well motivated and driven and are marked among the most charismatic and influential of the house; they are never killed, but are either imprisoned or quickly thrown out of the city.

Recent Events:
[Known only by those acquainted extremely well with Kanan Harper]
Among the non warring members of the city, a beautiful woman of great moral character, the daughter of a great merchant, was betrothed to wed a prominent and rich man in the city, Kanan Harper. Kanan, in a past life was a thief who settled down to a live a life of simplicity after a long life of adventuring and stealing. Among thieves, Kanan is renowned for his honor which carries over to his normal life. He is an honorable man and a good husband, but when crossed his temper and ability to hold a grudge are without compare. On his wedding night, he discovered that his bride’s virtue had already been taken by the House of Vern. She bore Vern’s mark on her inner thigh. So enraged by her betrayal, Kanan left her in the night. His rage began to fester; he decided to take his revenge then and there. He went into the valley and infiltrated the temple of Mystra and stole the abaci from the scales of power.

[Known to nobody but Kanan himself, he will tell the players if they find him]
After having already stolen the abaci, Kanan decided that this was as good a time as any to ‘investigate’ the rest of the temple’s riches. Within the temple, Kanan found a portal to Mystra’s home dimension of Dweomerheart; however, with the death of Mystra, the portal’s magical powers shifted and opened up a portal to the plane of elemental chaos. Kanan, unaware of the portal’s magic, slipped accidentally into the portal and found himself stranded on an island in the elemental chaos.


Adventure Hooks:
There is a seemingly endless amount of ways that the characters could end up in this city and find themselves in the middle of the feud. Here are some of them…

The Recruiter in a far land:
A recruiter from the House of Vern or the House of Dorn has gone into a far off country in order to bring new power to play in order to shift the balance from the outside. The adventures meet the recruiter who brings them to Kal ‘ca Val in order to join one of the houses. If the players decide to join, they may be forced to fight in order to bring down the rival house.

The Scared Citizen:
A citizen of Kal ‘ca Val has traveled a long way in order to bring someone back who can stop the war, someone who hasn’t been influenced by the sway of the two rogue eidolons.

Whispers of the abandoned temple of Mystra:
The players are sitting around drinking and eating at a tavern when they overhear a group of thieves talking about a temple of Mystra which has been left untouched since the Spellplague. They talked in hushed tones about the myriad of magical treasures which might be found if they were to travel there and raid it. They may or may not be carrying a map that leads the players directly to the city of Kal ‘ca Val.

Talk of the thief who has gone missing:
The players have heard that the legendary thief Kanan Harper has gone missing. His last known whereabouts and the location of his vast fortune await in the distant city of Kal ‘ca Val. The news however that his fortune was left to his wife does not reach the ears of the players and should they decide to take it by force, the house of Vern will be waiting.

The Fruit of Life:
The players are asked to go to a legendary far off city that is ruled over by gods that walk among the people and where a woman sells fruit from a tree which belongs to the gods. They players are asked to go retrieve one of these pomegranates which has the power to cure any disease, mystical or mundane. It also has the power to prolong one’s life by a short time should one be wounded to the point of death.

The Eladrin are on the Warpath:
The players have heard that an army of Eladrin is massing in the Feywild and they are going to attack a city in the middle of the forest. The players must get to the city to warn them of their plight, but when they get there, will anyone care?

The Great Red Bird:
A giant bird, the color of blood has been terrorizing a small village on the other side of the forest from Kal ‘ca Val. It has been picking up cattle from the farms and taking it off in the direction of Kal ‘ca Val. The villagers have taken it as a sign that something terrible is happening within the nearby city and they are asking the players to go there and investigate it.

Encounters:

Depending on what hook you use to get the players to come to the city, the encounters they face will probably change. Some of them may be mitigated depending on what path the player’s decide to take within the course of this war. There are other encounters that the players will absolutely fight in based on which of the adventure paths they choose. Here are a few of them laid out below.

Taking Sides:
If the players decide to join a side and do battle against the rival house in the war, the players will team up with one of the eidolons to fight against the other.

Doing battle with the head of the house.
Before all out war begins, the players will challenge a group of NPC’s from the rival house as they are sent in to destroy the enemies eidolon. Each of the NPC’s is level 8 and has standard equipment for a character of his level. It is up to the DM to decide what this party of house elites should be composed of based on the composition of the players in the party.

In addition, inside each of the houses, the players will confront the opposing side’s house head. The head of the household is a level 11 NPC who will fight the players in front of the Eidolon’s throne room. He alone has access to the throne room. He is accompanied by the houses secret weapon. Each house possesses a beast that they keep in hiding behind a secret door within the antechamber to the throne room. When the fight starts, the large beast enters play. The players must defeat the head of the house and the secret weapon before entering the eidolon’s chamber.

When the players finally enter his throne room, they find that he has already left in order to make a surprise attack on the opposite house.

The final battle on the bridges of Kal ‘ca Val.
Both Vern and Dorn follow the standard rules and template for the eidolon [MM 4th Page 101]. They are each level 13 controllers, but they favor a party of human followers rather than other creatures. Each of the houses has at their disposal masses of human in each of their forms [MM 4th Page 162]. If the players decide to fight, the final battle will be between the combined armies of both houses and will rage over the bridges that extend across the valley. This presents a hazard to the characters because falling off one of these bridges means almost certain death.

The Eladrin attack.
If a battle begins to rage, the Eladrin may feel that the Fruit of Life is threatened and engage both sides once the battle commences. The Eladrin send out several war parties each consisting of 1 Eladrin Twilight Incanter and 4 Eladrin Fey Knights (Level 8 encounter). Some of these war parties will engage the eidolons, some will engage the humans, and some will engage the players. They also send in lone Fey Knights to retrieve as many of the trees and fruit as they can [MM 4th Page 102]

Retrieving the Abaci and stopping the war:
If the players decide that they will retrieve the Abaci and attempt to stop the war from going on, they must then travel up the valley as far as the temple in order to find it.

Beyond the edge of safety.
In choosing to travel up the valley to the temple, the players have journeyed beyond the point of safety that the Eidolon can provide and the senses of evil that have been waiting on the sidelines are now moving in closer. A wandering group of satyr with their pet owlbear is waiting for people to come up the ravine in order to follow after Kanan. They are laying in an ambush around a bend in the valley just inside a cave covered by trees. The ambushers consist of 1 owlbear, 3 satyr rakes and 1 satyr piper [standard encounter from MM 4th page 212].

The Bloody Colored Bird.
When the players reach the end of the valley, they are attacked by a red colored roc that has made its nest in the now empty temple of mystra. The roc’s nest occupies the entire roof of the Temple of Mystra and contains within it four roc eggs which the players can steal, if they get past the roc first. It also contains the corpse of Kanan’s horse, which the roc is saving to feed to its roc babies when they hatch. The horses saddlebags contain various items which pertain to Kanan and which the players can identify as being his. It also contains several magic scrolls and items which Kanan left with his horse before venturing into the temple. [220 of the MM4th edition]


The Temple of Mystra.
The Temple of Mystra is essentially a dungeon. There are many rooms which can be constructed at the discretion of the Dungeon Master running the adventure. Several elemental creatures have come through from the elemental chaos when Kanan used the portal. Creatures with elemental subtypes make good encounters for the dungeon, but as the fight with the roc is an advanced and difficult fight for the players, keep in mind not to throw too much at them unless they are given a chance to rest. Also, as the temple lies outside the boundaries of the area of safety, there may be other bestial and or evil inhabitants in the temple now that it has gone uninhabited for 100 years.

The scales stand just outside the entrance to the temple and once held the abaci. Now, the scales lie perfectly still and at an equal height.

The only room that must be present is the portal room; here, the players will find the two thrones on which the eidolons sat when they were protecting the portal of Mystra. The portal lies attached to the wall at the back of the chamber.

Saving Kanan in the Elemental Chaos.
When the players manage to use the portal of Mystra, they find themselves in a similar situation to Kanan, stranded in the Elemental Chaos. The portal however doesn’t close as quickly as they were led to believe. As soon as they step through the portal, they see Kanan and are able to talk to him. At this point, Kanan is attacked by a pair of firelashers [MM 4th Page 104] that have risen out of the lava surrounding the island on which the players are stranded. Kanan carries the abaci with him and the players must stop the Firelashers from killing him and destroying the abaci along with Kanan’s body.

Non-Path Specific Encounters:
Several of the encounters that the players could possibly face depending on the actions that they take while in the city are included here.

The House Guard
If the players break the law in town they will have a run in with the city guard. The guard is very quick to react to any threat or law breaking. If the players decide to fight them, the players can take refuge with the other house’s guards. The guards are a group of humans of various types. They will first attempt to mitigate peacefully with the players as they don’t particularly want to fight. They will ask the players to come before the council to adjudicate punishment. If the players fight back, the city guard comes out in force and will attempt to overwhelm the players.

The players will be thrown in jail if they do not flee to the other side of town. If the players are thrown in jail, they meet various members of the other house and have a chance to get good quality information out of them.

The Eladrin War Party in the Forest
If the players venture into the forest, on either side of town, they may encounter members of the Eladrin war party which is getting ready for battle.

Item Availability:

If the players join the houses willingly and take a side, the players have access to various magical items that are used by the members of the house. These magic items are listed here.

Each of the houses has a special tattoo artist who is able to inscribe the tattoo of the house on the players. If the players join the house willingly they are able to receive the magical version of the symbol.

Mystra’s Strongheart Tattoo
This tattoo, either a ring of 8 stars, or a single seven pointed star, depending on the house, drives the bearer to fight on in the name of their Eidolon lord, in the name of the new god of magic.
Level 8 3400 GP
Property: When you spend a healing surge, you regain additional hit points equal to the number of healing surges you have spent since your last extended rest.
Original Concept from Adventurer’s Vault 2


In addition to the tattoo, the players can also requisition any battle standard below level 6 from the house’s armory. The battle standards work exactly as those listed in the various source books, with the exception that in addition to the marks of the particular standard, they bear the house colors and the mark of the house.

Battle Standard of the Honor of Vern / Dorn
This standard bears both the blood red markings as well as the mark of either House Vern, or House Dorn.
Level 2 0 GP
Property (Encounter – Zone): Standard action. When you plant the battle standard in your space or an adjacent square, it creates a zone of protective energy in a close burst 5 to all members of the house to which it belongs. Any marked member of the opposing house takes -2 penalty to damage rolls against any target other than the one that marked him.
The effect lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is removed from the ground. Any character in, or adjacent to a battle standard can remove it as a standard action.

Original concept from Adventurer’s Vault

Healing Standard of House Vern / Dorn
This battle standard bears two flags, the top small flag is white and bears marks of healing, but the larger lower flag bears the marks of the house to which it belongs. .
Level 3 0 GP
Property (Encounter – Zone): Standard action. When you plant the battle standard in your space or an adjacent square, it creates a zone of healing energy in a close burst 5 to all members of the house to which it belongs. Whenever you, or a member of the house to which the standard belongs spend a healing surge, all members of the house within the zone gain 1 hit point.
The effect lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is removed from the ground. Any character in, or adjacent to a battle standard can remove it as a standard action

Original Concept from Adventurer’s Vault

Mighty Battle Standard of House Vern / Dorn
This standard bears martial runes surrounding the house chivalry.
Level 4 3400 GP
Property: (Encounter – Zone): Standard action. When you plant the battle standard in your space or an adjacent square, it creates a zone of energy in a close burst 5 to all members of the house to which it belongs. While within the zone, any member of the house gains
+1 power bonus to damage rolls.
The effect lasts until the end of the encounter or until it is removed from the ground. Any character in, or adjacent to a battle standard can remove it as a standard action.
Original Concept from Adventurer’s Vault


Conclusions:
Required Elements:
All the required elements are easily identifiable from the beginning, but I will restate them here:

A- Plotline Name: The War of the Twin Stone Gods
B- Name the number and level of the Players: 4-5 Level 8-9 characters.
C- Describe a plotline: All of what is detailed above

Optional Elements:
As this adventure plotline revolves mostly around the players ability to gather information and the adventure will significantly change based on which of the adventure hooks is chosen, all but one of the optional elements (I hate riddles ) have been included so that regardless of which path the players choose to take through the adventure, they will at least see three of them. The list of all elements is included below:

Two feuding houses: The houses of Vern and Dorn
A location within the Elemental Chaos: Accessible via the gate inside the temple of Mystra which formerly led to Dweomheart, but has now changed its opening after the Spellplague
A painted stone: The two Eidolons, Vern and Dorn, are both painted with the symbols of Mystra, they claim, by her own hands.
A pomegranate: The fruit of life which grows in town. The Eladrin will fight to protect it.
A roc: The giant red bird, taken as a sign of bad omen, which nests in the mountains at the entrance to Mystra’s temple.
A scar or tattoo: The tattoos worn by each of the members of House Vern and House Dorn which are drawn to perfectly mirror the symbols of Mystra painted on the two Eidolons.
A wedding: The wedding that took place before the adventurers arrive in Kal ‘ca Val which is one part of the process leading to Kanan Harper stealing the abaci.
An abacus: Two abaci that are used to measure the power of the forces of both Vern and Dorn.
An unfaithful spouse: Maria, the wife of Kanan who cheated on him with the church of Vern

Necessary Resources:
This adventure can be run completely with just the use of the 3 core books. All items included from other sources have been written out in detail and the changes in appearance have been noted.
I live and work in Japan, near Mt. Fuji, teaching English to High Schoolers. In my spare time I also happen to be a husband, a father, and an Otaku. I run a biweekly DnD game on Sundays and blog about it every other day of the week at http://thedumpstat.blogspot.com

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Welcome to the XDMCs, shinobicow! The lst is updated!
Thanks a lot. I'm actually pretty new to the message boards, but having fun with it so far. Can i post this to my blog now without it affecting the competition? Its not a problem right?
I live and work in Japan, near Mt. Fuji, teaching English to High Schoolers. In my spare time I also happen to be a husband, a father, and an Otaku. I run a biweekly DnD game on Sundays and blog about it every other day of the week at http://thedumpstat.blogspot.com

15.jpg
D&D Home Page - What Monster Are You? - D&D Compendium

Can i post this to my blog now without it affecting the competition? Its not a problem right?

Entries found to be copying the work of another, or that have been posted for review prior to the close of the competition, will be disqualified.

Just wait a couple of weeks. Thanks!
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