View Full Version : Red Hand of Doom

2010-03-01, 11:02 AM
So last week my group finished the Red Hand of Doom adventure. The party consisted of a sun elf beguiler, a mountain orc fighter/barbarian, an elf ranger, an elf druid (he died in the ruins of Rhest and then the player left because of RL issues), a human paladin (he only played one session when the rest of group got to the ghostlord) and a half-elf monk (she joined our group somewhere in the Fane of Tiamat). Yes, that's a lot of elves.

They did most of the stuff they could - except kill the greenspawn at Rhest and destroy the bridge over Skull Gorge. They also managed to completely humiliate the Red Hand (the beguiler and the orc took Vraath Keep all by themselves). They both almost died but they did it. The only enemies that ever gave the group problems were Tyrgarun (the blue dragon, who almost killed them and left orc pretty shaken) and the aspect of Tiamat. Hell, they even managed to trap the two erynyes in bags of holding.

I ran the adventure mostly as it was given but I totally ignored the way the siege was done. Instead I did the siege with on the spot improvisation without consulting anything. It was way more cinematic and fast paced (through it lasted a few days and the group loved the planning part). I even added a colossal red dragon for fun. It was the first I got to use that miniature (though calling it a miniature feels wrong). The dragon was being mentally controlled by Azarr Kul via a blue gem on it's head (this red hated Tiamat but Azarr Kul still found a way to get it's help - also Azarr got the gem from Tiamat). This dragon had approached Brindol with greater invisibility cast on it (and thus it took down several elves on giant owls that were acting as a recon force for the city) and when it showed itself it did so by torching the trebuches the defenders were using. The ranger managed to dislodge the gem and thus free the dragon (who up to that point was torching Brindol without the defenders being able to do anything about it) who then torched part of the Horde before leaving for his lair.

I could go on a lot about what we did (maybe I will if anyone is interested) but what I really wanted to talk about is this:

When they reached Azarr Kul the group was invisible and had a zone of silence (or was it sphere of silence?) casted on them. They surrounded Azar Kul and killed him in about as much time as it takes me to look from their damage dice to his HP. The party members were very pleased with themselves and they were laughing at what a wimp Azarr Kul was. Then I laughed and players should always dread when the DM laughs. I hit them with Tiamat's wrath and that did 177 dmg. The beguiler and the orc (who up till then had been a god of war) died instantly. The ranger and monk made the reflex save and didn't get any damage because they had improved evasion or whatnot.

Then the Aspect appeared and the ranger said "Let's take it". They damaged it somewhat and then the Aspect breathed on them. The monk again evaded but the ranger didn't. He lost half his HP and decided they should run instead. So they picked up the bodies of the beguiler and the orc and ran for it. They resurrected the dead and then went and killed the ghostlord (first time there, they got him to help them against the Red Hand). As far as I know the Aspect is still on the loose.

It was a sobering experience for the group. It was the monk's first experience with D&D and she almost saw a party wipe-out. What I want to know is how many other parties got hit hard by the wrath of Tiamat? Or how many other parties got hit hard by this adventure?

We're now playing Expedition to the Demonweb Pits (the orc is now DMing).

2010-03-01, 11:16 AM
Heheh. In all honesty, when I last ran the Red Hand of Doom (it was about a year ago or more); the aspect's breath ravaged part of the party (didn't kill anyone fortunately). The party's wizard popped a flesh to stone on the aspect and they collected a sweet new statue. :smallsmile:

Tar Palantir
2010-03-01, 11:49 AM
The party I DMed for was only three players: a cleric, a knight, and a warlock. The cleric and knight managed to tank it for a couple of rounds, but succumbed in the end, and the warlock fought it like he did every other enemy in the game: pinging it for 20-odd damage a round until dead. He was the only one who didn't need to be raised for the victory feast (though funnily enough, he died twice in the battle with Tyrgarun).

2010-03-01, 11:56 AM
The party I DMmed had an undead monk that did a lot of the damage for them, so when I introduced them to the Rebuke Undead rules, they had to completely retreat from fighting Azaar the first time. When they came back, he was ready for them and had an Antilife Shell up, meaning only the zombie monk could approach him, but in order to approach him, he had to get into Rebuking range again. Made the battle pretty tense but also spread everyone out so that nobody was on the dais when the Wrath of Tiamat went off. I was wondering how anyone could survive that myself.

They had a suped-up version of the Sword of Kas that was siphoning power off of Tiamat that dispatched the Aspect handily, but at the cost of losing the sword to the BBEG that was responsible for turning the monk undead in the first place, so now the party ultimately will have to fight a demilich (somehow) wielding the Sword of Kas that has been powered up by stealing a few divine ranks from Tiamat.

2010-03-01, 12:34 PM
See, our group had cast so many defensive buffs before fighting Azarr Kul that when the Aspect appeared we were safely protected from most energy types. I think we took down the Aspect faster than we killed Azarr Kul.

For us, the hardest fight was probably the ruins of Rhest. It turned into a giant cluster***k almost immediately.

2010-03-01, 12:38 PM
My group handled Azarr Kul relatively easily - well, there was one death, but that was all. Given that there were a total of 30 PC deaths in the campaign, that made it one of the less dangerous battles. :P

2010-03-01, 03:07 PM
The one time we ran a RHoD campaign, my Grey Orc Frost Mage (don't ask how it worked. It just did) used Flesh to Ice, then hit the aspect with his Greathammer, then proceeded to pour everyone in the party a glass of scotch using the aspect as the ice cubes...

2010-03-01, 03:33 PM
My party finished the adventure two weeks or so ago as well. The wizard managed to go Batman on Azar Kull, because he was invisible(in the zone that wasn't under the silence effect), and rolled good on his Spellcraft checks to see what the hell was in that room.

So he managed to prepare all the good spells, the party went i, butchered Azar Kull, and worse, beat the crap out of the Aspect in like two rounds or so. (They were fairly near the Aspect's appearance, and yet far enough not to get hit with the Wrath). It was a little underwhelming for the last boss.

To be sincere, the only "sobering" experience they had in the party was against the behir in Ghostlord's lair. It took a lot to bring him down, and the fighter and cleric fell beneath zero hp before the battle was won. The behir would have wiped them out probably if not for a bad roll on my part against the mage's Rainbow Pattern. For a few rounds, they stabilised the cleric, who then proceeded to heal the entire party. The wizard then made the behir slither all the way up the surface of the Ghostlord's lair(the stone lion shaped thing that's like 150 feet or something tall) and tried to make it jump. This time I saved, and broke the spell effect, but by the time the behir managed to slither back down, they managed to take a lot of his hp with ranged attacks(again, mostly by the mage).

2010-03-01, 04:37 PM
Currently running RHOD (see my campaign journal in my sig).

I had to change a lot of it since my party of 5 is rather strong, but even then we've only had 6 PC deaths, most of them in late Chapter III to Chapter IV. (2 deaths in the final battle with Kharn)

I ran the siege with a lot of modifications (and thus a lot of planning), and it went really well. The PCs had an overwhelming sense of "What's next? ...Oh crap."

Also going to heavily modify the Fane of Tiamat (notably removing the Night Hag).

2010-03-02, 06:17 AM
Interesting. Let's see if I can recall any other highlights.

Well the first time the party managed to do something insane (other than clearing vraath keep with only two people) was at rhest. They got there by boat. They also had some militiamen with them, who they promised to pay for the help (and then forgot to use them). Holtz, one of the miliamen, became a recurring character. Anyway, they reached the edge of the lake and decided that the enemy would probably notice their boats approaching the city. Then Basabar (the ranger) had the brilliant idea of swimming toward the city while holding pieces of moss above their heads as camouflage. I let them but the swim checks became annoying really fast. Also they forgot to bring the militiamen with them. They still paid them however.

The group swam right up to the town hall. So far they were still unnoticed. The beguiler goes invisible and silent and scouts the place (basically robbing the whole place) but he makes some noise when he enters the razorfiend hatchery. Meanwhile the orc decided to drown the druid's animal companion (I suspect this was because the druid kept forgetting about it when not in combat, sort of like V with the raven).Then Regiarix and the goblin returned and all hell broke loose. The black dragon almost killed the druid, who then got hit hard when one of the ogres on the roof jumped down on the walkway and landed on him. At one point an ogre was playing with the druid's guts (he died of course). The ranger and the orc did most of the damage really, the orc took Regiarix down to half life with one crit. The beguiler only did nonlethal damage. He was very happy latter on when he could cast phantasmal killer (he used on everyone and everything that opposed them).

Then, with the rest of the place bearing down on them, they stole a raft and began paddling away. The beguiler used a horn of fog to hide them in and they managed to get their buts out of there.

When they reached the ghostlord they did the following:

-the ranger got eaten by the behir and the orc had to cut him out
-the orc trapped a ghost lion in a bag of holding
-the ranger did unspeakable things with Ulwai Stormcaller's body
-they stole most of the ghostlord's stuff (naturally)
-and the ghostlord behaved pretty much like xikon (as in absent minded and not really paying attention to anything) and promised to send help if they brought back it's phylactery (which they had with them but didn't mention it)

The siege, as I said, I ran without consulting the adventure. The party basically used the elves with their giant owls as scouts. They kept track of the Red Hand Horde, of the forces coming from Rhest and they spotted more forces coming from the north (beyond rhest) and the ghostlord's army. The ghostlord's army did some damage to the Red Hand but not much. Then they began losing scouts (said scouts flew into an invisible colossal red dragon so....yeah). Meanwhile the group had the dwarves reinforce the walls and prepare a killing ground beyond them and whatnot. Then the ranger and orc gave a speech which was pretty awesome even if the orc's speech sounded like the one from avatar and the ranger's like the one from Dragon Age (they also kept calling Denovar, Denerim and kept making DA references).

Then the siege began proper with the first two days of the siege seeing both sides shooting their catapults at one another. On day three the forces from rhest and an air force of manticores and chimera's hit Brindol from the north. The ranger led some men to clear out the greenspawn while the orc was riding a giant owl and dogfighting with the manticores. Eventually he lost his owl and fell on the greendragon (the one at the bridge, which they missed) and killed it by stabbing his sword through it's spine - from that point on the orc kept collecting dragon wishbones. On day four the east gate got hit hard and a lot of soldiers died there but the group was busy defending the south wall from a full scale attack. That was a crowded battle on the wall, with siege towers, ladders and enemies swarming up them and friendly soldiers all around. Day five and six saw the west and east side of the city hammerhead hard. Day six began with the colossal red dragon destroying the city artillery while at the same time the Red Hand horde attacked from all sides (I declared that the Horde had half a million troops and I think they managed to gather around 6000 or so). With this situation down the drain, the ranger and the beguiler went after the dragon and I said in first post that they managed to free it. The orc meanwhile was in street fighting in a shieldwall (if you read Sword Song or Lords of the North by Bernard Cornwell you know what I'm talking about). When a pause in the shoving appeared Holtz used an axe to open a gap in the enemy shieldwall and the orc got in among them and began slaughtering left and right. Then he met Kharn, which he dueled and defeated. I kept swicthing from the orc to the ranger and the beguiler just to keep things tense. Then, with the red dragon attacking the Red Hand, Kharn dead and the Red Hand reeling, the other northen force showed up. It was an army of the dead. The group thought it was ghosts of those who had died in rhest but it was actually the ghosts of all the northen tribes and cities that Kharn had plundered (they head a lot about Kharn - who I barely managed not to call Kharn the Betrayer every time his name came up). It all ended in a massive cluster****. The orc then went about looting stuff, the beguiler wanted to know what was next and the ranger was banging Lady Kaal. Lord Jarmaath was dead sadly, killed by the red dragon, so the city is still in a bit of chaos. Last time they were there, the bodies were still being gathered (with Holtz supervising the whole thing while smoking weed because that's what he does).

The Fane of Tiamat went pretty much without a hitch except for the blue dragon and the warth of Tiamat. They didn't even see the night hag, she disguised herself as an elf slave and quietly slipped out because she figured out she'd be dead if she fought them.

2010-03-02, 06:27 AM
My players were terrified of the Ghostlord. Since I'm running RHOD in Eberron, I made him a hobgoblin who turned his back on his race after losing his sanity while fighting a Daelkyr who had made his lair in Rhest. As such he was at least 5000 years old and incredibly powerful (CR 15). The PCs addressed him with great respect (especially after the dwarf crusader almost had his entire skeleton sucked out of him by the Ghostlord's pet bonedrinkers) and did their best to avoid him slaughtering them.

2010-03-02, 06:52 AM
Heh, I was tempted but I decided to go with funny rather than scary. I still find it odd that the siege was the most epic part of the campaign (I even had epic music going) while the final boss was sort of an after thought.

http://img6.imageshack.us/img6/4217/sdc16270.th.jpg (http://img6.imageshack.us/i/sdc16270.jpg/)

Sorry for the quality of the picture. The bodyguard miniature is the beguiler, the shapechanger (forgot what it's called) is the ranger and count stradh is the orc (don't ask). The LotR minis are the allied soldiers (armed and armored wysiwyg) and the other D&D minis are hobgoblins and whatnot. They are on top of the wall, the enemy apparently standing next to the wall is on ladders and the big blocks are standing on siege towers (with the ramps down). The paper is laminated so we can wipe the marker away easily and draw a new map without needing tons of paper.

Also we have tried 4th but have found we don't like that much so my group is firmly sticking to 3.5 .

2010-03-02, 07:11 AM
From the start I was telling my players that this adventure wasn't going to be easy like their previous ones, and since they do enough of the comedy on their own, I usually run the game with a very serious demeanor.

The siege is supposed to be the most memorable part of the adventure; the sidebar says so.

I ran it mostly as written but replaced some details:
1. The hill giants were replaced by Warforged Titans. In Eberron, giants are almost nonexistent outside of their native continent of Xen'Drik, which my game is not set on. I put giant sonic artillery on them, which made the wall come down a lot faster.

2. The red dragon was advanced to young adult, and although it almost wiped them out, they were able to take it down quite effectively.

3. The street battle was long, and I raised the stakes by advancing the manticores and giving them rocks to drop. Also, another warforged titan with spellcasters in a bunker on its back was the final wave after the thunderlizards.

4. The sniper attack was significantly modified, and I've got too many changes to mention here. Please see my campaign journal link instead.

5. The Kharn battle was epic and consisted of a whole bunch of combatants on both sides. Two of the PCs died, but it ended with Kharn dead and the Red Hand routed.

The Fane of Tiamat as written is mostly presented as if it were not under alert (the book does say it would operate differently if the PCs did trigger a general alert). I'm making it significantly more difficult.

2010-03-02, 07:23 AM
I ran it mostly as written but replaced some details

I know, I've read your campaign journal. Pretty awesome - but then again it's hard to go wrong with this adventure.

My players also do a lot of the comedy but since I prefer playing to DMing (I only DM when no one else wants to) I tend to go for humor in order to keep my sanity. The group seems to like my style and I suspect that's because I treat it like I treat the stories I write - I imagine everything in my head like a movie and then I run it. I have a tendency to go for cinematic moments and if some fights are small (like say they are only fighting one or two enemies) I tend to dispense with the dice rolling and we just talk through the combat. They like because it allows them to get to the good stuff faster and I like not having to draw a map for a five minute fight.

I'm curios if your group will get hit by the Wrath of Tiamat.

2010-03-02, 08:17 AM
The party I DMed for was only three players: a cleric, a knight, and a warlock. The cleric and knight managed to tank it for a couple of rounds, but succumbed in the end, and the warlock fought it like he did every other enemy in the game: pinging it for 20-odd damage a round until dead. He was the only one who didn't need to be raised for the victory feast (though funnily enough, he died twice in the battle with Tyrgarun).

Those deaths were strategic! Without them, we wouldn't have blown up the necklace of fireballs!

2010-03-02, 12:56 PM
I first encountered RHoD as a player and am now running it with my group due to liking it so much (I have a campaign journal, may or may not start udpdating it again).

As a player, our biggest challenge was with our DM attempting to compensate for the fact we had 7 PCs...at first we were slaughtering things right and left (with the green dragon dying in one attack made by my druid, though mostly from a misinterpretation of the Call Lightning spell), so when he added more things to fix that problem, our party often was JUST BARELY not overwhelmed. It made for some frustrating, but overly satisfying times.

Let's see...Our barbarian died when he went one-on-one with Kharn (The DM having buffed him to ridiculous levels)...and the WHOLE party nearly died because that fight included Kharn, Ulwei, Saarvith, and several other things...heck, seeing that we were struggling (most of us were out a lot of spells after the red dragon fight, not to mention the death of our main melee-er barbarian), the DM gave my druid EXTRA spells with a slightly convoluted plot device (an amulet of wisdom given to him by the Ghostlord, sadly cursed and evil....still haven't finished that plot yet).

Azarr Kul caused waaay more problems than the Aspect in our game, having the Silence effect up started us off poorly....four Abashis and both Erinyes being there didn't help. No one died, though there were some close calls. The Wrath didn't hit any of us, but because we were so badly damaged and out of spells, we needed a retreat...the Paladin stayed behind, swapped a couple hits with the Aspect, but was killed (hilariously, his body did get pushed down the hole, so we took it with us).

That party was swimming in close calls, but most people tended to get out by the skin of their teeth.

My players have had a bit more trouble, due to my experiences playing it...for the Gorge I upped the green an age category, he killed the healer/favored soul...who was only brought back by the bard via the staff of life. Honestly, there should have been another death or two (those hobbos and their longbows were on FIRE that night), but I felt bad enough I fudged a few rolls. Both the monk and wizard barely lived through this fight.

They've only just entered Rhest (the black and Saarvith (remade into a Mystic Ranger instead of his standard boring build) with few problems (one of my players introduced a new character, a lizardman shaman! I love this character so much)...though both times the party has fought the greenspawns, there've been issues...granted, I added a second spawn in both the marsh and the hatchery. The swamp battle had a lot of close calls (mostly from their acid breathing and rolling a 1 on recharge times every time), but the hatchery had an unfortunate (if very cool) death. Three of the party members jumped into the pen...no one thought to untie the rope (with a DC of TEN on Use Rope to get through)...so they were hit pretty hard, with the bard reaching single digits. Meanwhile, the wizard, druid, and healer were riding the druids huge crocodile companion and using it's tail bash to break down the wooden wall...when they did that, and hit the spawn with spells, one jumped at the wizard and double confirmed (a 20, a 20, and a 19 on a WIZARD, the players had to ask why I kept staring at my dice after that happened) killing him instantly...ripping him into three different pieces. Luckily, they had a scroll of Rez. So everyone IS alive for the actual boss fight...

Considering some of the changes I'll probably make to later fights to make them tougher, I can only imagine things will get more dicey from here.

2010-03-02, 02:46 PM
The groups I ran were generally so scarred by the fights in the treasury that they approached the final battle with excessive paranoia. It resulted in wildly different tactics, but the same general results, as both groups punked Azarr Kul at range, and so were nowhere near the platform when the wrath came down. And what they did to the aspect of Tiamat after that was just wrong, oh so wrong . . .

2010-03-02, 04:38 PM
One thing I can recommend to make the Aspect in the end much harder--give her an open sky to fly in. Either the portal stays open and she can fly back and forth through it, or the ceiling of the cavern caves in (or blows outward), giving the Aspect flight room (and the PCs difficult terrain).