View Full Version : Campaign Journal: Shadows of the Last War

Fax Celestis
2009-01-20, 07:51 PM
So I'm running a series of adventures for my wife. She's playing all four characters in an effort to both let her get a closer glimpse at what DMing is like and to give her some experience playing non-sneaky characters (she has this tendency to play only rogues and roguelikes).

So she's playing a party of four. She rolled her stats using the 5d4 method (I find it to give a better curve than 3d6, with a higher minimum and maximum roll but lower chances for both). She's ECL 2.

1. Drog (http://pifro.com/pro/view.php?id=1854), Half-Orc Barbarian 2 (Str 18, Dex 15, Con 15, Int 11, Wis 13, Cha 10; feat: Intimidating Strike)
2. Belladonna (http://pifro.com/pro/view.php?id=1856), Strongheart Halfling Scout 2 (Str 12, Dex 19, Con 14, Int 17, Wis 13, Cha 9; feat: Luck of Heroes)
3. Zookmadge (http://pifro.com/pro/view.php?id=1861), Gnome Sorceror 2 (Str 11, Dex 16, Con 19, Int 15, Wis 15, Cha 19; feat: Celestial Sorceror Heritage; mostly blasty and buffing spells)
4. Jasen, (http://pifro.com/pro/view.php?id=1862) Human Cleric 2 (Str 17, Dex 12, Con 17, Int 15, Wis 18, Cha 15; feats: EWP (Greathammer),
Combat Reflexes)

Some House Rules
Skills are condensed: Hide and Move Silently are Stealth; Listen and Spot are Awareness; Open Lock is part of Disable Device.

Game Prep
The adventure assumes you run the adventure that comes with the Eberron Campaign Setting: I glossed over it (because ECL 1 adventures are needlessly lethal and the heroes are weak) and threw it into the backstory bit. The wife, who doesn't like starting lower than ECL 4, was okay with this.

The party moved through the message house mini-encounter smoothly, managing to get some information out of the message transcriber with a lucky Diplomacy roll. The scout's high Survival score identified the tracks as kobold and warforged footprints, and, assuming no more information was to be had, the party left the building. (They were correct in this: the poor gnome had told the party pretty much everything she knew.) The party did notice that whoever had roughed up the gnome and ransacked the place hadn't taken the gold or any valuables (such as the sending stone); only the letter designated for the party cleric was missing. Since the party had gleaned that the message intended for them had been from Lady Elaydren (their last employer), they decided to venture to the inn where they had previously met her.

On their way, the rain outside let up and a giant owl dropped a message at their feet. Despite being surprised, the cleric picked up the scroll case, popped it open (rather trustingly, to be sure: it could've been trapped) and read the message, which indicated that the party should meet Lady Elaydren at the Broken Anvil, which is where they were headed anyway. A good Awareness check let them notice that the sealing wax on the scroll was not emblazoned with a House Cannith crest like Lady Elaydren's letters usually were.

The party decided that this was not subterfuge but rather to maintain plausible deniability: this was mostly due to the fact that the letter was signed by "Lady E" instead of "Lady Elaydren d'Cannith". As such, they went to the Broken Anvil as requested. They met Lady Elaydren there, where she hurriedly handed them a handy haversack full of stuff and said, essentially, to get the hell out of dodge.

Four kobolds and a Warforged Fighter 3 popped into the room at this point and attacked. Two of the kobolds and the warforged won initiative. Drog took out three kobolds himself due to having a huge STR score and an actual BAB. Zookmadge was ineffectual as she got hedged in early by a pair of kobolds and didn't want to risk their AoOs. Belladonna wasn't given enough mobility to skirmish, but still managed to take the fourth kobold. Jasen charged the warforged right off the bat but missed twice before landing a blow. Lady Elaydren cowered behind a table. The party stripped the warforged of his cutlass +1 (it's a longsword in the adventure, but I figured if he's named Cutlass, he might as well use one) but left the rest of the gear and bolted for the docks.

The party was given the option of taking the lightning rail now and having the journey to Rhukaan Draal take 12 days, or wait until morning and take a ship which would take 5 days. They opted for the latter.

The sailing trip was uneventful until they neared Kraken Bay: once there, the ship was beset by eight skeletons. The skeletons were set upon the ship by agents of the Emerald Claw, but none of the PCs hit an awareness check high enough to notice the necromancer on shore. This combat was a bit more dire: there were a lot of opponents, and the riding dogs of both the halfling and the gnome were nearly killed. Drog managed to take out two skeletons, Zookmadge a third (with her newly purchased wand of magic missile), and Jasen saved the day with a lucky Turn Undead check that was powerful enough to destroy the remaining five undead in one fell swoop. The party received 200 gp in reward from the captain, as well as a letter of commendation from House Lyrandar (which is arguably more valuable than the gold).

Rhukaan Draal
The PCs arrived in Rhukaan Draal without further issue. They got lucky with a Gather Information check and found out about a bar that catered to non-goblinoids. This just happened to be the bar that their contact, (ironically named) Failin, was in. They met with him, he extorted money from them, and he agreed to take them to Rose Quarry. However, when they left the bar, Failin was accosted by two bugbears who claimed they were "investors" in his "latest hair-brained scheme" and that he owed them a significant sum of money. Failin denied this, Jasen stood up for him, and--when things turned sour--Failin activated a magic item and teleported down a back alley. The bugbears assumed that the gnome in the back (since all gnomes are magical) had used her magic to teleport him somewhere, and attacked. Jasen took a number of hits, dropping him down to near-zero, but his horse (!) protected him and did a number of strikes on one of the bugbears. The other one was beset by Drog and Belladonna, and he died in a matter of rounds. Zookmadge flung some magic missiles at the first bugbear, softening him up for Jasen's critical (19-20/x4 is a nasty combination), which not only killed the bugbear, but would have been enough damage to kill both bugbears.

Failin thanked the party, refunded them their money (reluctantly) and took them to his land cart. Session was called here on account of time.

Drog is a powerhouse and a machine. He hasn't raged yet, but when he does (and when Zookmadge drops an enlarge person on him) it is going to be epic. Belladonna is having trouble getting the area to activate her skirmish ability. Zookmadge picked up on the "get a wand of something blasty" extraordinarily quickly, so she uses her spells known slots for things that aren't so blasty. Jasen is situationally good: his attack bonus isn't good enough to consistently land hits, but when he lands a good one, things die.

Jasen's Turn Undead will likely be inordinately useful in the coming section, where there are dwarven glass zombies. Also, Zookmadge looks weak now, but she'll likely be the strongest member of the party in just a few levels.

The PCs didn't earn enough XP to make it to 3rd level: they only got 800 in total, putting them 1200 short of ECL 3. They've also been hoarding their gold, rather than spending it, which may prove beneficial if they need to. As of right now, they have a tidy sum nearing 3000 gp between the four of them, though a large portion of this came from Lady Elaydren: the haversack contained 500 gp and 150 pp.

Kol Korran
2009-01-21, 02:21 PM
interesting, an Eberron campaign. i'll try and keep an eye on this one (as much as my real life enable me). a few questions if i may?

- what religion does jasen adhere to?
- anything you can tell us about the party characters personaities (must be complicated when playing 4 together)
- are you planning on going all the way, up to the finding of Xulu (or whatever was the name of the creation pattern in Xenderic)? could be interesting. i'm especially interested in the adventure with the vampire, as it leaves quite a lot to be desired (in my opinion)

i once had the adventures but gave them away (can't remember why) would be intriguing to see how they turn out.
oh, and thanks for the effort! i appreciate it!


2009-01-21, 02:46 PM
So, out of pure curiosity, why does the sorcerer learned protection from evil? They have a cleric in the party after all, and the sorcerer really has no ofensive spells.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-21, 02:58 PM
So, out of pure curiosity, why does the sorcerer learned protection from evil? They have a cleric in the party after all, and the sorcerer really has no ofensive spells.

The Celestial Sorceror Heritage feat gives it to them automatically. From my understanding, she's going to take pretty much the entire chain.

- what religion does jasen adhere to?He's actually using a Faerunian god. I'm ascribing it to either planar incongruity or an attempt to found a new religion.

- anything you can tell us about the party characters personaities (must be complicated when playing 4 together)Drog like smashy. Belladonna is casual and inocuous, hanging back until she feels the time is right. Zookmadge is a ditz. Jasen is a prick (like, Jozan from the PHB PSAs sort of prick).

- are you planning on going all the way, up to the finding of Xulu (or whatever was the name of the creation pattern in Xenderic)? could be interesting. i'm especially interested in the adventure with the vampire, as it leaves quite a lot to be desired (in my opinion)Yup, I'm going to do the whole three part arc.

2009-01-22, 09:58 AM
Playing 4 characters must be challenging, does she chat to herself in character?
That would be hilarious to watch.
I await your further installments with eagerness... inter party conflict should be minimal at least... not like our lot, where the rogue and the ranger came to blows the other night (and the paladin (me) stepped in to break them up)
The rogue ended up on very few healing surges that day.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-22, 11:05 AM
Playing 4 characters must be challenging, does she chat to herself in character?
That would be hilarious to watch.

It is hilarious to watch.

In other news:

Session 2
The party got on Failin's land cart and traveled to Rose Quarry. Belladonna snuck around for a bit and put her +15 (!) Stealth check to good use. She discovered the Emerald Claw encampment and determined that the party should leave well enough alone in that instance--a good call: it's an EL 8 encounter, and the party's still ECL 2.

So she avoided the camp and moved in a counterclockwise fashion around the quarry. When she ran into some zombies, she went and got the rest of the party, leading them around the long way to avoid having the clankier members of the team get noticed.

The party killed four sets of these zombies. Now, they weren't your typical zombie: rather, they're glass-covered dwarf zombies, which...are kind of interesting, mechanically, but are a weird concept. They have DR 5/bludgeoning until they take 8 points of damage, at which point their outer layer of glass falls off and they switch to having DR 5/slashing. I dunno, it's just a weird mechanic and it seemed pretty needlessly complex.

Anyway. The party cleared out a bunch of zombies, then went into the ruined church. They didn't find anyone there--I had made Brother Garrow drink an invisibility potion after he started losing zombies. After all, if he has a spell that lets him see through the eyes of his minions, then wouldn't he panic when his CCTV-zombies started dying off?

The party went into the church, found the olladra's chalice there but was unable to identify it, and decided to head over to the refinery.

Before entering, they were mostly able to overhear snatches of conversation between Kaela and her subordinate arguing about a map. Belladonna snuck in to get a better look, but was almost spotted by a working zombie. When the zombie came outside, the rest of the party took it down in short work and then charged inside. Kaela, caught completely by surprise, didn't even get a chance to act. Her nameless minion refused to surrender and was subsequently killed.

The party spent the next 20 or so minutes trying to move the statuary around and examining the map. It wasn't until I suggested checking the statues themselves that the hearth puzzle came together, and rather shortly after the party came up with the location of Whitehearth.

Brother Garrow made his appearance, commending the party's versatility before asking them about where Whitehearth was. The party gave little to no information--indeed, they tried to pass it off as if they didn't know where Whitehearth was and they were trying to find Tallis instead. That didn't work, but Garrow let them think it did. When things started looking a little tense, Brother Garrow let out a roar calling for aid and cast obscuring mist before drinking a potion of invisibility. The party (incorrectly) assumed this meant he had assumed gaseous form--and judging from his appearance, had also incorrectly assumed he was a vampire. Knowing full well that a vampire was a threat they weren't equipped to handle, the party booked it back to Failin and the land cart and took off for Whitehearth.

The creatures in this adventure are either surprisingly weak or the party's just getting inordinately lucky. I think it's the former: nothing the party's gone against thus far has had more than 25 HP. We'll see how they do against the carcass crab next time.

Speaking of the carcass crab: since I don't have any elves in my party, I'm considering changing the weapon found with the carcass crab from an intelligent double scimitar +1/+1 (+2/+2 on horseback) to something else, but I'm having trouble coming up with something both useful to the party and that makes sense.

I'm also noticing that creatures who have little-to-no Awareness check bonus have a really hard time keeping track of just about anyone. Belladonna's got a +15, to be sure, but the rest of the party is in the +5 region (and Jasen's negative, I think, due to ACP). Still, even with that, the party was not noticed at all until they were pretty much right on top of whatever it was they were sneaking up on.

I feel like I'm handing out treasure willy-nilly in this adventure, even though I'm merely giving out what the adventure says to give. I mean, the PCs found a box of 50pp and a bottle of salve of slipperiness, Olladra's chalice, a heavy steel shield +1, and some masterwork weaponry just in this session. Maybe it just feels like a lot, I dunno, but the party's got like 3500 gp in coins, plus probably another 1250 at least in sell-value.

Finally, the party made enough XP to get to level 3 tonight, so they'll get leveled shortly and we'll see what happens.

2009-01-22, 01:23 PM
Yeah, it does read like a bit of walkover. Seems to me that as soon as Garrow noticed his undead were being destroyed, he should have alerted the rest of the Emerald Claw expedition. I didn't notice any horses in the encounter descriptions, which is a pity, as the soldier's ride +4 skill seems wasted in that regard.

2009-01-22, 01:23 PM
very well done, I like the links to the character sheets. starting to realise its a new trend to post D&D journels here :smallconfused:

with your party I wouldn't worry to much about sending tougher monsters, especially in this one.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-22, 01:29 PM
There were horses mentioned in the encampment section, but they're startlingly omitted from the combat encounter. I suppose they figured that the party would have enough on their hands with the soldiers, skeletons, necromancer, and cleric.

As far as Brother Garrow noticing his undead dying off, I made an executive decision: since the Emerald Claw soldiers there were unable to figure out the map puzzle in the Refinery and Garrow wasn't able to dredge up any information from the church cemetery's buried dead, Garrow decided to let the adventurers try to figure it out, and then follow them. This is actually how the adventure's written for the next section, so it works out okay.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-22, 01:31 PM
with your party I wouldn't worry to much about sending tougher monsters, especially in this one.

I'm going to see what happens with the carrion crab. It should be a difficult but not impossible encounter. After that, I'll adjust accordingly.

2009-01-22, 01:52 PM
As a quick aside, you might consider not advancing the characters in experience levels until the completion of the adventure, if you are worried as to the difficulty.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-22, 01:54 PM
As a quick aside, you might consider not advancing the characters in experience levels until the completion of the adventure, if you are worried as to the difficulty.

Frankly, I'd much rather make the fights harder instead of withholding the player's reward.

2009-01-22, 01:59 PM
Frankly, I'd much rather make the fights harder instead of withholding the player's reward.

Fair enough, though I disagree with just about every part of that sentence. :smallbiggrin:

Just a suggestion, given that it is a fairly short adventure written for second level characters.

Fax Celestis
2009-01-22, 03:36 PM
Fair enough, though I disagree with just about every part of that sentence. :smallbiggrin:

Just a suggestion, given that it is a fairly short adventure written for second level characters.

Yeah. the adventure by itself is short, but the larger adventure series it ties into is significantly longer.

besides, if i withhold xp from my wife, she withholds...other things.

2009-01-22, 04:44 PM
besides, if i withhold xp from my wife, she withholds...other things.

I'm sorry, but this, this is hilarious.
Worth the entire thread.

Kol Korran
2009-01-24, 11:10 AM
i didn't expect the second session to happen so fast. oh well, i'm used to groups who'se member's schedule keep the sessions apart.

i liked the session's description. as to your dilema with the treasures- i also felt there was a bit too much in it, but i never sat down and calculated things. as to the double scimitar- since it's a warrior's weapon, i suggest to exchange it with an enchanted keen weapon befitting drog. barbarian's always like lots of damage. (i don't know if it fits the WBL but it's still a suggestion) you could embedd it with the intelligence similar to a warforged, or a cyrian commander or something (the weapon does have some intelligence in the module if i'm not wrong)

i used volcanic glass covered zombies in another adventure and just decided the glass explodes at some point, damagin everyone around who doesn't succeed on reflex (my adventurers found how to use it against the zombies them, making a chain reaction glassy explosion- nice strategy)

as for the monsters being weak. that may be true, but then again your party is stronger than the 15, 14, 13, 12, 10, 8 party the adventure is defulty (is there such a word?) written to. or perhaps the critters are just weak, never tried the adventure myself.

i wonder, how are you intending to deal with the last encounter in the adventure? when the party merges from white hearth to find Gareth (+ retinue) there to greet them? i always felt that was realy poorly made.

oh, and again- thanks for the journal. an interesting read

Fax Celestis
2009-01-26, 02:21 PM
Session 3
The party ventured into the Mournland after convincing the wuss Failin that it'd be okay. They decided to pass up the skeletal wolf ecounter and the carrion crab encounter, and made it to the mouth of the mine without incident.

Once there, Garrow's vulture (who'd been tailing the party, but the party had noticed) attacked, but got pulped in the surprise round by Jasen's Turn Undead.

The party then went into the shaft, looked around and after two tries found the actual entrance to the mine.

The party figured out the rotator room puzzles rather succinctly, and went over the whole complex. They were impressed by the laundry room's permanent unseen prestidigitating servant, but were confused as to why there was nothing else really interesting in there. The living flaming sphere met an untimely end but managed to sear both Drog and Jasen.

The encounter with Rorsa, the awakened dire wolf, went well: as the adventure states, she's more interested in talking and getting out than killing the PCs, and the PCs were more than willing to go along with that. The party accepted Rorsa's terms (kill the "stone wolf"), and went to do just that. Rorsa came with.

Combat with the half-golem wolf was rather short. Rorsa charged, bit, and tripped, and the rest of the party went in swinging. The half-golem stood, provoked a bunch of AoOs, slowed half the party, and then bit at Rorsa (big target and all). It landed, and then Drog cut off it's head with a stunning max damage roll.

With her pups freed, Rorsa said she'd wait in the mineshaft above for the party: they had explained to her about the Mournland and promised that they'd get her to a forest where she could live out her life with her pups. Rorsa handed over her keycharms and a pearl of power (1st).

From there, the party raided the offices and the officer's quarters, finding a red keycharm, some magical and masterwork weapons, and a darkweave cloak. They found the living color spray (which went down in two hits. 17 HP? Seriously?) and found the illusion room. (Actually had a little problem here. The room says it's accessed by a yellow keycharm, but not only is there not a yellow keycharm in the entire adventure, it also contradicts the panel diagram. I changed it to an orange for ease of use.)

After that, all that was left was the glasshydra chamber, where they promptly went. The party used a scroll of resist energy they'd lifted off a corpse on the only person with a decent Use Magic Device and Knowledge (Arcana) check: the sorceror. They'd seen the dome activation controls in the illusion room, and figured that those would be the best way to remove the oppressive heat in the glasshydra room.

Little did they know that when they opened it, the elementals would flee. Lucky for them, because that would have been a monster otherwise.

The party collected their things, rested in one of the barracks, and then headed outside, where they were promptly beset by Garrow and his thugs. Rorsa was keeping them at bay, but Failin had been captured and was being held hostage. The party, in true Chaotic Neutral fashion, told Garrow to shove it and attacked.

Jasen took out three skeletons with a Turn Undead, and the fourth fell to a magic missile. Four of Rorsa's wolves helped in the fight but did little more than trip people. Rorsa herself did some killing. Mallara did the up down up down dance from Zookmadge's repeated magic missiling and Garrow's cures from invisibility. Drog and Belladonna took out the soldiers, and when Garrow ran out of healing spells, he turned to run but found a creature with scent in his way: Rorsa. Since she was right on top of him, she could pinpoint his location (yay scent!), bit and tripped him (which knocked him unconscious), and then pointed out his location to Drog. Drog relieved his friend Jasen of his 1d12 19-20/x4 greathammer and performed an epic Coup de Gras.

The party gathered their things and went home. On the way they took out the carrion crab, and I changed the +1/+1 Valenar double scimitar to a +1 Talenta tangat, keeping all the other bits of it but changing the elf horse references to halfing dinosaur ones. Belladonna may actually end up using it. Rorsa actually decided to stay with the party and left her wolves in the King's Forest on the way back to Sharn. Elaydren rewarded the party, and the party now awaits Part III.

The party made level 4, which is helpful for them. Rorsa is a powerhouse, but she's bonded with Drog (and is, in fact, smarter than he is). Speaking of Drog, the man half-orc is a mean, green, killing machine. I'd say roughly half the time in this session, Drog was the one doing the killing.

Jasen, in typical clericy fashion, is proving to be one of the most versatile combattants on the field.

I'm thinking about changing Skirmish, for Belladonna's sake, to apply to any target and attributing it to momentum. There were a few combats where she literally couldn't do anything due to the target's DR, but would have been able to do something with that extra d6 of damage.

I need to read through Whispers of the Vampire's Blade soon so I can prep them for the next section.

2009-01-26, 02:41 PM
Interesting to see a whole party run by one - and apparently it works, too?

I have to say that you're moving a whole lot faster than our group: we got on our first 6-hour session grand spanking 200 XP. :smallwink:

Fax Celestis
2009-01-26, 02:43 PM
Well, it helps that when we play, we play. There's much less visiting and telling of stories because, well, I see my wife daily.

Kol Korran
2009-01-27, 12:03 PM
first of all- thanks for the recap. you do play fast! i liked the part of the party bashing gareth and his group. there realy isn't a reason why they shouldn't... who is going to replace him as the main villain of the campaign i wonder.

as to whispers- again the writers make assumptions that the antagonist can just hide/ evade the party by simple means. for example in the airship encounter and the lightning rail situation the vampire is assumed to have charmed someone who prevents (how exactly i wonder) the party from searching for it.

if your party acts in "a true chaotic neutral fashion" than that isn't going to stop them at all. i expect the vampire to be fought to death (well, an end to undeath at least) far sooner than the intended time.. are you altering the adventure somehow accordingly?

i personally like the big scenes of this adventure, i hope your wife does so as well. i wish you a great adventure.

P.S. a friend of mine ran this adventure, and the players didn't catch on to the fact that the balde was responsible to everything until the after it possesed one of them... one of them took it, and later that night it possesed her, and continued the journey toward Karrnath. that part- locating her and freeing her turned out to be the most interesting part of the entire adventure! (the DM played that character very well, including knowledge of how the party fights and acts. they had to invent new tactics.)

oh, and then they decided to go to the bowls of sharn and deal with whatever undead caused the vampiric transformation in the first place (forgot allready) might be fun. the following adventure was upgraded due to levels and such of course.

again- have fun, and keep us posted!

Fax Celestis
2009-01-27, 12:58 PM
Actually, I'm planning on having Garrow raised. We'll see where the adventure goes from there.