View Full Version : Justice is a Dish Best Served Cold [4e Campaign Summary]

2009-07-02, 01:07 AM
Yesterday, my D&D group finished our first campaign. It had been going since September of 2008, and we were all rather excited to get to the end. The campaign had several seemingly-separate plotlines that all tied together near the end, and we had one particularly interesting twist of plot between the PCs. If you're wondering about the title, a common theme in the campaign was us fighting white dragons. There was in fact a family of them, I believe we killed 5 in the end. You'd probably pick that up later on, but I felt it might help to clarify that right at the beginning.

Perhaps I should introduce the characters? In alphabetical order:

Samir Duran, Dragonborn Protecting Paladin (Me)
Born in the western continent, Samir trained in the ways of the paladin at the High Temple of Bahamut. He traveled eastwards as a missionary, looking to spread the word of Bahamut through speech and actions. He is stoic and unyielding (which sometimes caused difficulties), but since his departure from his homeland he has become more accepting of others. He is intolerant of evil or injustice in any form.

Shifty, Elven Brutal Scoundrel Rogue (Tuataralad)
A brutal, bloodthirsty killer widely disliked in his hometown, Shifty left at a young age to find his way in the world. He's never afraid to take what he wants, and takes perverse pleasure in collecting body parts from particularly strong foes. While he felt some connections to his party members, he did not feel especially loyal to their cause. He particularly dislikes Samir, and the feeling is reciprocated.

William, Human Staff Wizard (Shadow_Elf)
William was a young but gifted apprentice of a powerful mage. He left with his master's blessing to seek experience and adventure on his own. He is somewhat uneasy in the world outside of a tower, but he is generally friendly and usually got on well with his companions. In some cases, he was dismissive of those he considered unimportant and clashed with his fellow adventurers on how to treat them when resolving conflicts.

Zapfudias Jarfal, Dwarven Laser Cleric (Lord Sazz)
A kindly but unassertive disciple of Pelor, Zapfudias took pleasure in aiding and healing his companions. He easily made friends with all members of the party, but sometimes seemed to lack conviction in his faith when presented with difficult decisions. As he progressed further as an adventurer, he started to become more sure of himself.

William was eventually replaced by Rylai Drowsbane, Human Beastmaster Ranger (also Shadow_Elf)
Rylai is an orphan, and she was adopted at a young age by the Church of Melora. She learned about nature and the ways of the world, and trained as a warrior so that she could protect Melora's faithful. Rylai was the only name given to her, but after clashes with Drow she took on the surname Drowsbane as a warning to all Dark Elves. It was in one such battle that she met her animal companion, a giant spider known as Whisper. Whisper was to be sacrificed by Drow, so that they could summon an arachnid horror from the Demonweb Pits. Rylai saved the life of this spider, and took it on as her animal companion. Accustomed to being alone with Whisper, she had some difficulty adjusting to life in an adventuring party. However, with her deep religious convictions she found common ground with Samir and Zapfudias. She was stern and watchful of Shifty, and immediately earned his dislike.

Our DM was Zocelot.

He did write up a summary for us, and I'll post most of it here. It's spoilered for length. Anything in italics is written by me.

The beginning of the adventure was mostly stolen from the DMG. This is limited to: the entire first adventure, the concept for the second adventure , the name of the main town and the first name of Orest, an NPC.

Although I knew it was cliché (we'll call it classic), in our first session, the party met in a tavern in the middle of Fallcrest. A hafling bartender announced to the tavern that a dwarven smith named Teldorthan Goldhammer recently had a valuable item stolen from a caravan that was delivering the item to him. The bartender asked if anyone was brave enough to attempt to get it back for him. Each PC volunteered, as well as some NPCs. The NPCs were violent, and started a barfight in order to intimidate the party into not applying for the job. However, a few punches from Samir quickly ended the fight. As the NPCs walked out of the bar in disgrace, they tell Samir that a man named Orest Filburr could use some fighters like him. They didn't want to start an enduring rivalry, I suppose.The bartender gives directions to the party so that they can find Teldorthan's house and smithy, and they go to him the next morning.

Teldorthan tells the party that the item that was stolen from him was dragonhide, which he was planning to make into armor. He believes that the thieves were kobolds who are living in an abandoned keep about a day southwest of the village. Teldorthan offers a reward if the party recovers it, and they can keep any loot they find. The party goes to this hideout, fights their way through, and near the end captures the kobold chieftain. The chieftain manages to quick talk his way out of the situation, and ends up being set freed with his hands chopped off. The party ventures further into the lair and discovers a Young White Dragon. The party fights it, except for Shifty who is stunned for nearly the duration of the battle. That was due to a mistake where I thought that Frightful Presence was Stunned (Save Ends). Shifty finally saves, runs up to the dragon and lands the killing blow. The party recovers the hide, and returns to Fallcrest.

The party gives the hide to Teldorthan, and tell him that they slew a dragon, which he could also make armour out of. Teldorthan pays the party and agrees to check out this dragon. They ask where they can sell some of their loot, and Teldorthan directs them to Orest Filburr, the most prominent merchant and a well respected businessman in Fallcrest. They sell their loot, and the next morning Orest comes to the tavern where they are staying. He tells them that human bandits have been active lately, and he would like them to put a stop to this. He tells them that they can either take the main road to their base of operations, or they can take a shortcut through bat country. The party chooses to take the shortcut, and Orest warns them not to stop there. It was, after all, bat country.

The party journeys to the manor where the bandits reside, and launches an assault. The bandits put up a fight, but are killed. The party discovers that they were being led by a trio of Shadar-Kai who also die fighting the PCs. The party is unable to make it back to Fallcrest before nightfall, and are set upon by gigantic bats. However, they kill the bats and make it back to Fallcrest battered and worn out, but alive.

Orest rewards them for their services, and several days later contacts them again. He tells them that the mayor, Lord Seth Cryak would like to meet with them, and that Teldorthan will be there, but refuses to discuss any more. The party journeys to the mayor's mansion and meet him and Teldorthan in the study. Apparently, while checking the skin of the slain White Dragon, Teldorthan found a letter written in Draconic. He had it translated when he arrived back in Fallcrest, and once he found out what it meant, he brought it to the attention of the mayor. The slain white dragon was not operating alone, but rather was part of a network planning an attack on Fallcrest. Uh-oh. The dragon's sister is gathering kobolds in the northeast, and the mother is rounding up an army of goblinoids in the goblin/elven forest to the south. The mayor tells the party that he is not certain that Fallcrest can withstand such an attack, and would like the party to launch an assault on the kobolds in order to buy time for Fallcrest.

The party leaves and finds the kobold lair after searching for several days. They kill many of the kobolds, and at one point find an orc. The orc tricks them into thinking that it is chained to the wall as a prisoner of the kobolds. When the party comes close, it attacks them, nearly killing them. The party ventures further into the cave and finds that it is circular. The are onset by the majority of the tribe at once, but through valiant fighting manage to survive. During the fight, several white dragons hatch from their eggs, and join in the fight. Shifty manages to kill one by himself, and lands the killing blow on the other. When the party makes their way back to the entrance, they find the White Dragon waiting for them. They engage in a long fight, but come out victorious, with Shifty landing the killing blow yet again.

Upon returning to Fallcrest, the party is thanked and rewarded by the mayor for their brave deeds. However, a more imminent threat to Fallcrest than the goblinoid army has arisen. A human necromancer has taken over a cemetary and is raising the dead. The party ventures to this cemetary, and enters the crypt where he is staying, fighting through a collection of zombies and skeletons. Eventually, they come across the necromancer, who is upset at the loss of his forces, but introduces himself as Spet and apologizes profusely for the actions of his corpses. He tells the party that he can explain everything over tea. The necromancer explains that he heard the rumors going around that an army is planning to attack Fallcrest, so he is raising the dead to help defend the town. The necromancer then goes on to explain that undeath magnifies the power of the corpses, and as such has poisoned the tea of the party. The party understandably does not want to die, so they kill the necromancer and his remaining undead minions. It is too late at night to journey back to Fallcrest, and the party is badly hurt, so they stay overnight in the necromancer's living quarters. In the middle of the night, they are woken up by two friends of the necromancer's who are looking for him. They introduce themselves as Darren, Son of Fire, who is a Dragonborn with a giant sword, and Fithin, Daughter of Ice, a Tiefling with a magical wand. The party tries to deceive them into thinking that Spet has left the crypt, but the duo see his body and attack the party. They start the fight off in an overpowering manner, but reinforcements arrive for the party. Rylai Drowsbane, a human ranger and Whisper, her giant spider beast companion help the party out, and quickly dispatch Darren. However, Samir (me) is knocked unconscious after a few rounds. I have no healing surges left after a long day, and I proceed to remain unconscious for what may be the longest battle we ever had. =P Fithin tries to escape, but is chased by the party and killed. However, when the fight is over the party returns to their quarters and finds Spet's body gone and a note in it's place taunting them and promising Spet's resurection. The note is signed "Zariak, the Gnomish Legend". Rylai explains to the wizard that his master is looking for him, and that something urgent has come up and he must return. However, she volunteers to join the party in his place, recognizing the importance of their quest.

The new party goes back to Fallcrest, where they explain to the Mayor what happend. Zariak is a prominent figure in the town, but his mansion is just outside Fallcrest so Lord Cryak has no jurisdiction over him. However, he hopes that he can arrange a meeting where they can discuss the problem. The party and the mayor approach Zariak's mansion, but are stopped by Warforged guards. Lord Cryak gets frustrated, and attacks the guards, but they easily cut him down. The party takes care of the guards, and then heals Lord Cryak. Lord Cryak orders the death of Zariak, and all of his associates and tells the party that he will reward them for Zariaks head. The mansion is very bright inside, and the party has difficulty seeing in some instances. Through arduous work (and some lucky rolling), they manage to assemble the body of a Warforged in the workshop, but are unable to instill it with life. Eventually, they make their way to the top floor of the mansion, where they find Zariak sitting in a mechanical throne. The party is badly beaten at this point, and does not want a repeat of what happened with the necromancer. That last encounter was really hard for us, for a while it felt like it would be a TPK. Luckily, Zariak offers a truce and an alliance to the party. He explains that Spet has always been very eccentric (and CRAZY), but that he has the best interests of Fallcrest at heart. He will forgive the party for killing him, if the party agrees to forgive him for poisoning them. Zariak also explains that the actions of Darren and Fithin were logical, seeing as their friend had been killed, and that he would like to recover their bodies and raise them too. Due to his enormous wealth, he can afford the resurections, as well as many other things, such as the illusions cast over the manor so that it always appears that the sun is shining right through every window. Zariak tells the party that he and Spet served under the mayor when Lord Cryak was younger and was a warden (title, not class), who helped protect Fallcrest. Eventually, Lord Cryak became mayor and Darren and Fithin joined the squadron. In recent years, the mayor has gone slightly mad and is generally disliked by citizens of Fallcrest. However, the post of Mayor is hereditary, so the citizens cannot elect a new mayor. Finally, Zariak tells the party what he plans to do to protect Fallcrest: He and Spet will continue to create a mixed army of undead and warforged, then they will lead an assault on the goblins along with the party.

In a few days, Zariak contacts the party and asks them to journey down to the southern forest, where they can meet General Steglian, commander of the elvish forces. Several days later, when the party arrives, they are greeted by the General, who explains how the assault will take place. The White Dragon is not in the fortress with the goblinoids, so the elves will lay siege to the fortress while the party attacks the dragon's stronghold. Once the dragon does not arrive to help, the hobgoblins of the fortress in charge will surely realize that they cannot survive a sustained siege without the help of the dragon and so will retreat into the surrounding area. At that point, they will be met by the warforged and undead forces of Fallcrest, and will be decimated. The party agrees that the plan is solid, and when the army from Fallcrest arrives, the attack commences.

Now, a summary of the final session by me. Also spoilered for length.

This was the focus of the final session. We were to go and kill the dragon so that the united forces of Fallcrest and the Elves could destroy the Hobgoblin fortress. By this point we had already killed two grown dragons (and two hatchlings), so we gathered that this dragon wasn't a huge fan of ours. Especially since it was the mother of the other dragons we killed...

First we encountered a stone wall surrounding the entrance to the cave, and a hobgoblin lookout saw us. Whisper (the spider) climbed the wall and rolled a natural 20 on her Lever-Pulling Check (our DM did not like the idea of spiders doing things that usually require hands, so he required checks for her), and the portcullis protecting the entrance to the wall was loosened. The party was then able to lift it up.

We entered, and saw 3 bugbears in melee gear and 2 archers. The melee ones were able to form a solid front line, and so it was difficult to get to the archers, and for the rogue to get flanking. A well-placed Jolt Flask dazed one and stunned another (our DM houseruled that it was stunned on a crit), and that gave us the time we needed to wipe them out. We then proceeded to follow the archers. They had nowhere to go, but they managed to do a good amount of damage to the rogue before their inevitable deaths. At the end of the corridor (which was now in the cave) we saw a lever. We knew the dragon was on the other side. I drank my potions and used my augmenting whetstone, although the ranger was the only other one to think of doing this ahead of time. We pulled the lever, and the wall opened up in front of us.

In front of us was the largest White Dragon we had ever laid eyes upon. It stood in a gigantic natural cavern, standing upon an enormous mount of treasure. At the top of the cavern was a hole that lead to the outside. The dragon faced us, its leathery wings taut and poised for takeoff. The air in the lair was bitter cold. Around the dragon we saw several goblins, some with weapons and one with a staff. This was the final fight we had been preparing for.

The treasure slowed us down considerably (it was difficult terrain). We fanned out from the entrance, but the dragon was still able to catch us all in its breath. We took a lot of damage, and we slowed and weakened. This was especially problematic for the melee fighters who had to move in through the treasure while slowed. We dropped a few of the goblins quickly, but the dragon kept pounding on us. We all saved against our conditions, and quickly spent daily and encounter powers. The dragon used its Frightful Presence, although it only hit a few of us. After a few ineffective rounds, we dealt a blitz of damage again and managed to bloody the dragon. Uh-oh. It's breath weapon recharged (of course) and it was used immediately. We learned later that our DM used a method he calls the solo hack, which halves the monster's HP and multiplies its damage by 1.5. In this case, at least, it worked quite well. However, it meant that this breath weapon was even more dangerous than usual. It was especially bad for Shifty, who was almost brought to death. If it weren't for his potion of cold resistance, he would have died right there, and our campaign would have had a considerably less interesting ending. As-is, he was unconscious and useless for a turn. Several of us were brought perilously close to 0 HP, especially Rylai.

The battle went smoothly for a few rounds, with nothing out of the ordinary happening. Only two goblins and the dragon remained, but we were all quite close to unconsciousness. The dragon struck out at Samir, hitting him twice. He was brought below 0 HP and knocked over to the wall. Then Shifty hit the dragon and killed it. He managed to get the killing blow on all 5 of the dragons we had fought. The two goblins were all that was left. One was the goblin with the staff, who had been missing Samir for the entire encounter. Now that he was unconscious he attacked Zapfudias, knocking him unconscious. Rylai went to kill the caster while Shifty took on the last goblin in melee. They were successful, although Rylai was now down to 2 HP. Shifty's was overcome by greed, and he threw a dagger at Rylai, hoping to claim the treasure for himself. The dagger was embedded in her skull, killing her instantly. Whisper saw this, and started attacking Shifty. He was winning, and he managed to knock Whisper unconscious. Samir rolled a natural 20 on his death saving throw and woke up. Shifty managed to bluff him, convincing him that a goblin had killed Ryleigh and that Whisper had then gone crazy and attacked him.

Samir gave Zapfudias a healing potion, and Shifty was able to bluff him as well. We went over to see Ryleigh, and Zapfudias confirmed that she was beyond his power to heal. Once again, Shifty could not restrain his greed. He knew that we were not at full health (Samir was at 33 after spending a surge to wake up and then using Lay on Hands, Zapfudias was at 10 from the potion), and so he thought that he could take us on if he surprised us. We were of course not expecting anything (in-character, at least), so he had combat advantage. He attacked Samir and didn't manage to hit his high AC. Elven accuracy let him roll again, but he missed with that as well. Samir then turned and used Paladin's Judgement (appropriate name), hitting and knocking Shifty into negative HP. Zapfudias stabilized Shifty, and we then tied him up.

Then the interrogation began. Samir intimidated Shifty, and so he was unable to bluff well. We didn't believe his lies, and so he decided he would try to escape. With a high acrobatics bonus and a natural 18, he escaped from the ropes. Both Samir and Zapfudias failed their grab attacks. Shifty ran away, and only Samir hit with his opportunity attack. This brought Shifty down to 2 HP, but it also allowed him to use his Cape of the Mountebank and teleport out of the treasure pile. Stuck in a mound of difficult terrain, we were too far away to use our ranged attacks. We were also much slower, and so we were unable to catch Shifty.

Zapfudias performed sacred rites over Rylai's corpse, and then we returned to see the armies of Fallcrest and the Elves finishing up their battle successfully. We explained what happened to general Steglian, and he had one of the Elven clerics resurrect Rylai. A giant celebration is held to commemorate the victory over the goblinoids and dragons, and we are approached by a man named Ian Cryak. He tells us that his father, the Lord Cryak we knew was assassinated during the battle (mysterious!). Although an investigation would be held, it was illegal to resurrect him. In a hereditary system, it caused too many complications.

Ian Cryak, the new mayor of Fallcrest, gave a speech to the citizens. He praised the party for their heroic actions, along with Zeriak, Fithin, Darren, and Stet. We are also all awarded Baronships for our bravery. He puts out warrants for the capture of Shifty. Furthermore, he will be commissioning two sets of statues (one for Fallcrest, one for the Elven capital). They show Ryleigh, Samir, Zapfudias, Zeriak, Fithin, Darren, and Stet standing victorious over cowering goblins, hobgoblins, bugbears, a white dragon, and Shifty.

Speaking of Shifty, he return to the dragon's cave after we have left, looking over the treasure with a thief's eye. He picks the most valuable items that take the least space, managing to sneak of with tens of thousands of GP in gems, platinum, and gold. The rest of the party gets sizable amounts of treasure, and the rest is given to the city of Fallcrest and the Elven nation.

Shifty leaves the area immediately, knowing it is not safe to stay. By chance he meets his brother, a malevolent mage whose misanthropy and violence had him rejected by society. The two join forces, and leave for the western continent. Using the wealth that Shifty took from the Dragon's hoard, they are able to set up a powerful crime syndicate that threatens the stability of the greatest nations.


...or not? The ultimate fate of the party and Shifty is yet to be decided. It is likely that we will have a one-off adventure where they have a final confrontation, settling the score once and for all. We expect it to take place several months later in-game, after the party has taken on more members and completed their next quest. They will hear of the legendary elf and his brother terrorizing the western continent, and they will be able to deduce that it is their old teammate. We'll be sure to tell you how that turns out.

So this was an exciting and unexpected end to a fun campaign! At first the plotlines seemed separate, but in the end they did all come together nicely. We also managed to fight all of the powerful allies who we would eventually fight alongside, which I find interesting. Still, it's not like most of them gave us another choice. Our next campaign will be taking place in the Hourglass of Zihaja (http://www.giantitp.com/forums/showthread.php?t=114138) setting, and I expect we'll be keeping a campaign journal as we go. It's certainly easier than remembering everything once it's over!

You're still here? You managed to make it through those giant walls of text? I applaud you, and I hope you enjoyed reading this. :smallsmile:

Note: Nobody should think badly of Shifty's player for betraying us. When he began to consider it, he asked us if it would be okay. We all encouraged him to go on with his plan. It gave us a very exciting end to the campaign (and it was pretty exciting as-is), and since there was nothing more to be done a TPK wouldn't have been that big of a deal.

2009-07-02, 12:45 PM
No responses? I guess this was too long, after all. :smalltongue:

2009-07-02, 01:43 PM
I'm reading but I can't help but notice... Samir Duran? A coincidence or an intentional reference to Starcraft?

2009-07-02, 01:43 PM
I read it! It was interesting!

I must admit that I'm upset Shifty didn't manage to kill the rest of the party...that would have been a truly epic end to the campaign. :smalltongue:

2009-07-02, 02:17 PM
I'm reading but I can't help but notice... Samir Duran? A coincidence or an intentional reference to Starcraft?

Alteran couldn't think of a name, so I threw names at him from TV shows, video games, books etc. until one stuck. So yes, I suppose it was intentionally a reference to Samir Duran from Starcraft, if only because that's the game I stole the name from. It in no way reflects on the good Paladin's personality or goals.

2009-07-02, 02:17 PM
I'm reading but I can't help but notice... Samir Duran? A coincidence or an intentional reference to Starcraft?

Oh, completely intentional. I suck at coming up with names...actually, most of us do. I think it was William/Rylai's player who came up with this name for me, but I'm not sure.

Edit: Ninja'd, but at least I had remembered correctly.

I read it! It was interesting!

I must admit that I'm upset Shifty didn't manage to kill the rest of the party...that would have been a truly epic end to the campaign. :smalltongue:

I really expected him to. Like I said, I rolled a natural 20 on a death saving throw and so I was able to wake up. If that didn't happen, he could have just coup-de-grace'd us to death. Then again, he managed to escape after being tied up. It was close at that point, my AoO brought him to 2 health and the other one barely missed.

Also, if you want to see us get a TPK, that may still happen when we play out the conclusion.

2009-07-03, 10:05 AM
Another story from this campaign that I meant to post:

In the battle where Rylai first appeared to save the party from Darren and Fithin, she immediately ran up to Darren and used the encounter power "synchronized strike". As I declared the attack, the DM told us he was going to get a drink, and that he'd be right back. As he reentered the room, Shifty's player jokingly said "Hey, you're back! By the way, he rolled two 20s on that dual-attack". "Yeah right, roll it" came the reply. I rolled it. Natural 20. Everyone erupted into laughter and I rolled the second one. Natural 20. Darren was rent in two by the combined assault of critting Whisper and critting Rylai, who wielded a Fullblade (High Crit!). In the next session, in five uses of the power "synchronized strike" I rolled a natural 20 four times, bringing my average crit-to-use ratio on the power to 1:1. Unfortunately, my luck reversed and my only use of the power in the last session rolled a 1 and a 2 for the attack rolls. But that first ironic crit is still the funniest moment of the campaign for me.