View Full Version : Red Hand Of Doom

2009-05-23, 08:58 PM
So, I mentioned offhand that I might run this, to stall for time while building my own campaign world.

One of my players had apparently had past experience with it; he tried to join a forum game of it and was rejected for his character not being optimized enough; he had the impression it was quite fierce and demanded a skilled party.

Normally, due to the fact that we have two players instead of four, the players fudge their stat rolls and play gestalt to compensate.

Should I be worried? Anything important I should know? I've only read the intro so far.

2009-05-23, 09:11 PM
Well, the campaign is very endurance-heavy and rather intense (relatively little downtime) - there are many long days you just have to last through (such as the town battles, the Fane itself and such) with an encounter after an encounter getting progressively harder. It's important to know that stuff like Wands of Cure Light Wounds/Lesser Vigor should be heavily used, and they should always heal after each encounter, and they can't afford to sit on their laurels since the campaign is timed and if they wait too long they'll simply die along with the vale.

Also, the campaign contains multiple Dragons which just so happen to be under-CRd, which increases the difficulty notably, especially for parties not adept in dealing ranged damage. The Red Hand military fragments themselves are pitiful, actually (without reworking; check AslanCross's, kjones's and Saph's Campaign Journals and you'll notice that reworking is both, good and called for), but the accompanying monsters and big bosses are more than enough to make it a challenge.

Really, two characters might just be too few. What I'd do is instead of Gestalt (if you had 3, I'd go Gestalt), have both of them start at level 6 and pick Leadership. This'd get you two Cohorts, e.g. skill monkey and healer.

Of course, Gestalting isn't a bad idea either, but the players may be in the wrong end of action economy ownages with that few characters. Smart playing is also a key. If your players are smart about tactics and such, they should be fine, but they can't afford to goof around too much; in that sense, the campaign is pretty brutal.

2009-05-23, 09:13 PM
One's going to be playing a wizard/ranger he says, and the other I havn't actually talked to yet but know he'll be playing a beatstick (as his last twelve characters have been beatsticks). I'm going to bet Crusader/Fighter, but he might surprise me and go Warblade/Fighter, or even Warblade/Crusader.

2009-05-23, 09:16 PM
RHoD is certainly a tough campaign, and it can be a deadly one, but it's no Tomb of Horrors or anything. Player death is almost a certainty, but TPKs are, as far as I know from reading recaps and my own experience, not that common.

I don't think it'd be easy for two characters of any type, even with gestalt. There's already a lot of NPC action advantage in the encounters even if the enemies themselves aren't that great (the final battle of chapter one is a few hobbo archers, some warriors, a captain, two hellhounds, AND a dragon), and halving the number of characters won't help at all. Not to mention there are a lot of running battles and things where PCs don't have time to rest - I think Saph's RHoD party (which had several spellcasters) had a bad time of that later in the campaign (the Battle of Brindol).

When I started it and only had two players, I thought it best for each to just play two characters, and I think that's what AslanCross's players (from his Eberron RHoD game) have done, too.

My suggestion? Read up on some recaps/campaign journals (Saph's, kjones's, AslanCross's, and maybe Caligula's RHoD Total Recap over on the WotC boards), and then read through the module thinking about what sorts of characters your players might make. You might feel comfortable with it, you might not be and might make some changes.

EDIT: Regarding your ninja'ing, if they're using ToB they'll be doing okay. Well, besides the fact that Crusader//Fighter kinda sucks (Crusader gives you everything Fighter does except feats), but they might be okay. Maybe run a sample encounter (or just the first encounter, which is supposed to be tough anyway I think) and see how they do.

2009-05-23, 09:20 PM
One's going to be playing a wizard/ranger he says, and the other I havn't actually talked to yet but know he'll be playing a beatstick (as his last twelve characters have been beatsticks). I'm going to bet Crusader/Fighter, but he might surprise me and go Warblade/Fighter, or even Warblade/Crusader.

I'd suggest him to add Cleric or another divine casting class on the other side; they will really need the divine support. Crusader/Cleric, Warblade/Cleric, Crusader/Druid, Swordsage/Druid and such are all perfectly capable meleers, but this would also give the party much more endurance as they can heal different ailments more easily and swiftly, and they'd have buffing magic and such for the bigger fights they can prepare for.

Oh, and more Dispel Magic-type abilities and such. If playing with only two characters, it seems absolutely pivotal that both have some magic so they won't run out in the middle of a long day.

2009-05-23, 09:27 PM
Yeah, the beatstick can't use magic. You know how some players on this board design steampunk castles ingame off the top of their heads using only the spell slots they have left over at the end of the day?

He's the opposite of them. He'll forget he has magic unless someone pokes him viciously, and then he'll not be sure how anything works and he'll never think of anything creative to do with it.

EDIT: I can't really rely on them to roleplay ONE character each....

Might as well just abandon all hope of a Red Hand campaign. What's a better option, as long as I'm using premades for level 5s?

2009-05-23, 09:35 PM
Might as well just abandon all hope of a Red Hand campaign. What's a better option, as long as I'm using premades for level 5s?

Eh, you could make it work pretty well with a DMPC healbot with a passive role in the party then. I think RHoD is one of the best released adventures ever so I wouldn't skip out on it just because of the player count.

2009-05-23, 09:42 PM
RHOD is fairly brutal, as has been mentioned, and even without the DM trying, it will punish carelessness (see my last entry: The party forgot to heal. Someone died.)

It is indeed quite noticeable that the entire adventure has a timeline. While it can be delayed, the PCs will have to be traveling a lot and racing to get to certain destinations. The first chapter alone has the PCs racing back and forth between the destinations within the Witchwood over distances that total about two dozen miles; the journeys are longer and more hectic as the chapters go by (except for Chapter 4, which is almost exclusively within the walls of Brindol. Instead of marathon travel, you have marathon encounters instead.)

I highly recommend having four PCs at least. I was originally supposed to have six PCs (with one player handling two characters), but unfortunately most of the players dropped off the face of the earth and left me with only two, both of whom were thankfully willing to play two PCs each. While Gestalt can divide the roles of the party members easily, the big problem here is that if one of them dies (and believe me, that is a possibility), half the party is instantly snuffed out. It's harder to recover from brutal encounters (again, see my last entry), and you also have the added problem of the bad guys having an action ratio advantage. Many of the battles contain multiple monsters which, while not very strong on their own, can end up overwhelming the PCs even if the PCs have both arcane and martial might on their side.

As has also been mentioned, retooling the grunt monsters is quite necessary especially against a party that uses ToB.
Units that notably need reworking:
-Hobgoblin bladebearer should at least have warblade levels to use its TWF swords effectively.
-Doom Fist Monk. Nuff said.
-Goblin worg riders are pretty pathetic.
-The hell hounds. In my experience they never did any serious damage and each died in one hit. Consider swapping them for Dire Wolves. Same CR, more attack options, more HP, more damage.
-Depending on your needs, I might suggest reworking the Kulkor Zhul war adepts as well. They're pretty good blasters, but I find that blaster monsters are one-trick ponies that either can't adapt to the situation (they get mobbed), or work too well (three consecutive scintillating spheres would likely kill half the party).

Mixing in more Spawn of Tiamat would make the adventure more interesting and likely more challenging.

2009-05-23, 09:52 PM
-Hobgoblin bladebearer should at least have warblade levels to use its TWF swords effectively.

I did this, with the follow build:

Hobgoblin Bladebearer CR 4
Hobgoblin Warblade 4
LE Medium humanoid (goblinoid)
Init +3; Senses darkvision 60ft; listen +1, Spot +1
Languages: Common, Goblin, Draconic
AC 14, touch 11, flat-footed 16
hp 39 (4 HD)
Fort +6, Ref +5, Will +1
Speed 30ft.
Melee +1 short sword +9 (2d6+4/19-20)
Melee+1 short sword +7 (2d6+4/19-20) and +1 short sword +7 (2d6+2/19-20)
Base Atk +4; Grp +7
Abilities: Str 16, Dex 16, Con 15, Int 12, Wis 10, Cha 8
Feats: Two Weapon Fighting, Weapon Focus: Short Swords
Skills: Balance +12, Intimidate +6, Jump +12, Martial Lore +8, Move Silently +7, Tumble +12
Possessions: 2 +1 short swords, masterwork studded leather armour

Stances - Punishing Stance, Stance of Clarity

Maneuvers - 1: Steel Wind, Sudden Leap, Wolf Fang Strike; 2: Mountain Hammer, Wall of Blades

Maneuvers Readied: Steel Wind, Wolf Fang Strike, Rabid Wolf Strike, Wall of Blades

Uth-lar, the bladebearer in the first encounter, dropped the cleric and wounded the dragon shaman before going down. The AC is very low, though, especially when using Wolf Fang Strike.

2009-05-23, 10:00 PM
I gave him one level of fighter for a bonus feat. I didn't want to throw level 2 maneuvers at the PCs yet, but yeah, a warblade build for the bladebearers makes them excellent glass cannons. Uth-Lar himself really sucked in that first battle (consistent bad rolls), but the bladebearer I threw into the goblin raid on Drellin's Ferry was pretty nasty. I could use this alternate build for the later bladebearers. Thanks. :D

2009-05-23, 10:40 PM
In comparison, my Uth-lar and a regular got three consecutive 20s on the cleric, although only one confirmed. I told him to take the magnets out of his armour.

Renegade Paladin
2009-05-23, 10:46 PM
If only one confirmed, then the 20s weren't consecutive. :smallamused: Three truly consecutive 20s (actually two and a confirmation) are what we call "Sorry, you just got auto-killed" in my group. :smalltongue: