View Full Version : 3.5 The Evil Campaign: DM's Journal

2010-07-27, 07:34 PM
In ancient times there was a powerful nation of magic users that enslaved many worlds. In order to conveniently travel between these worlds, this nation created a relic on each world called Gates. Each Gate allows travel to the other Gates, provided the user knows how to activate it. The Gates are powered when more of a certain relic are brought to charge it. The more it's charged, the more people the Gate can bring through at a time.

For reasons unknown, this nation eventually was destroyed and dispersed, with no known records of their history and technology surviving. The Gates fell dormant.

Fast forward to the present. On one of the planets, Gilt, an evil empire of undead and fiends called The Chosen have just finished conquering all the lands and have asserted near-total domination. This war was called The Glorious War. The big bosses of the empire, called The Ghost Council, were content with their empire until, while destroying one of the last outposts that a post-war resistance movement held, they discovered a Gate and accidentally found a relic in order to activate it.

The Chosen spent a great deal of time cautiously studying the planet that the Gate was connected to, sending only their best spies onto the foreign land with strict instructions not to draw any attention to themselves whatsoever. They gathered as much information as they could about the lands they traversed, a planet called Azhara.

This is where the story takes place.

The Gate on Azhara is located on a continent that is cut off from the rest of the lands by a large body of water. The Gate itself is situated in a swamp (Wyrmwood Swamp) and clearly unused by local residents. Initial scouting has shown that an Elf nation named Lorwyn is the most prominent power on the continent. There is a dwarf kingdom and a sizeable amount of other races not united under a tribe, such as Goblins and Giants, but none can match the military might of the elves.

In terms of location:
Wyrmwood Swamp is located by the southern coast of the continent
Mellin's Ferry is on the southeast coast (3 days away from Wyrmwood Swamp)
Elfcatraz is just off the coast by Mellin's Ferry
Cinderbark Forest is in the northwest (2days away from Wyrmwood Swamp)
The Dwarf Kingdom of Thaladun is in the far west (two week's journey)
The Elf Kingdom of Lorwyn is in the far north (three week's journey)

The Adventurer's Leader, Chandra:
An (insert race) by the name of Chandra has been climbing the ranks of The Chosen's hierarchy at an alarmingly fast pace. Initially she was regulated to a low position in the military, but her amazing exploits in the war against the other nations of Gilt have continually promoted her higher and higher.

Chandra is ambitious, callous, and a military genius. The leaders of The Chosen rightfully see her as a threat to their seat of power. However, they don't want to eliminate her outright since they acknowledge that she is by far the most capable military leader that they have. Instead, they will continue to test her limits and profit from her work, until they can find (or summon) a capable replacement.

Also, rumor amongst the elite caste has it that certain council members have struck alliances with Chandra, further complicating the matter.

Instead, The Ghost Council (leaders of The Chosen) have found an interesting way to maximize / dispose of the potential threat. They task Chandra with securing the continent for The Chosen's main forces to move in. Chandra will be given a fraction of the army for this mission. Failure is not an option.

Is Chandra screwed? Maybe. But she's confident that not only will she succeed in her task, she'll recruit enough of an army on the new continent to go back and overthrow The Council herself, becoming the new supreme ruler. That's her secret plan at least. For appearance's sake, she seems unwaveringly loyal to her superiors.

The Council isn't oblivious of the risks they're taking by letting the gorgon handle this operation by herself. They have enlisted their best spies to keep tabs on her every move, as well as offering an "advisor" named Fazeer, to monitor her actions more directly.

I haven't statted out Chandra yet, any suggestions welcome.

Fazeer, Council Advisor:
Fazeer has been elected by the Council to observe the war effort firsthand, periodically send any important information to the Council, and relay any of their messages if necessary. Basically, he's their representative on the new world. It's painfully obvious that he is distrusts Chandra, which is another reason why he got the job.

The Adventurers:
The party will be Chandra's elite unit and most trusted henchmen. They will carry out her most important tasks. It's likely that they will find out about Chandra's plot to overthrow The Council, and The Council themselves may offer them a hefty sum of money and power to persuade them to switch loyalties.

Statistically speaking, they're a group of 4 starting at level 5. All books allowed but no "cheese" (subject to my discretion) allowed.

Currently one will be a scout, one warlock, one rogue, and one warblade.

The Target: Lorwyn, Elvish Kingdom
Lorwyn is the main power on the continent. I haven't fleshed out the details of the kingdom yet but I'm focusing around two general ideas: 1) they vastly outnumber Chandra's army 2) They aren't dumb.

If they find out what The Chosen are doing, they will search and destroy the army and put the Gate on complete lockdown if they cannot destoy it. They also will notify their allies overseas about the situation.

Point is, in order for The Chosen to be 100% successful, Lorwyn can only be allowed to find out what is going on when it is too late.

Fleshing out the kingdom isn't too important for the first few sessions, but eventually I'll need to have more information on them in order to structure the story better.

For example, just how strong are they, in terms of overall might and their most powerful individuals? How likely is it that they will discover what The Chosen are up to? How will they react? How will they potentially surprise Chandra? How will Chandra surprise them?

Part 1: Securing the Gate
The low-powered Gate can only bring a dozen medium creatures through per day. Chandra and the party go through first to survey the area and set a perimeter.

Unfortunately for them, local lizardmen of the swamp spot their intrusion. They strike at night. The group must defend themselves!

The lizardmen live in this swamp. This fight shouldn't be too hard, mostly to get a feel for how well the party handles themselves and to gauge their power.

After the battle is won, Chandra holds down the fort to meet the rest of her army, which slowly trickles in day by day. Until then, Chandra has a few tasks for her elite unit...

You find yourselves in a swamp. The Gate lies squarely in the center of a dry-land clearing. Surrounding the clearing is a seemingly endless array of cypress tress. The yellowish-orange rays of a setting sun can be seen reflecting off the tree's canvas-white barks in the west.

After surveying the immediate area surrounding the Gate, Chandra calls you all together. She stands in the middle of a twenty-foot radius pentagram etched into the mud floor. "Here is where we'll set up our initial base of operations, at least until all the troops have been transported to this planet. I will summon up our fortifications. The incantation to do this requires six hours and I cannot be interrupted during that time."

"Keep watch until my spell is complete and deal with any trespassers. The element of surprise is our greatest advantage and I cannot tolerate losing it."

This is a convenient method of making sure that Chandra doesn't take part in the following battle.

During this time the players can interact with Fazeer to get story information, such as details about Chandra, the Ghost Council, the Glorious War, the Gate, their mission, etc.

Regardless of what they do, I will secretly roll their Spot / Listen checks against pre-rolled hide / move silenty checks of a lizardfolk scout (literally lizardman scout 1). The scout is situated in the undergrowth of the murky waters just outside the clearing / hammock. Once he's noticed the adventurers, his main goal is to avoid confrontation and report back to the lizardfolk chieftan, who will order a raiding party to take them prisoner for intruding on their home.

Raiding Party EL:
7x CR 1 Lizardfolk

A few hours later, the raiding party arrives. It is comprised of seven lizardfolk looking to overwhelm quickly and take prisoners. Half rush into melee with their clubs while the other half throw their javelins before entering melee as well. Once four or more of the lizardfolk die, the rest attempt to flee.

Despite their numbers, I doubt these lizardfolk will last more than a couple rounds. Four level 5's, some dabbling in ToB, should make short work of them. I want my players to walk away from this encounter feeling like the badasses that they are and help set the mood for the campaign. Mere lizardfolk are beneath them!

After six hours pass...
Suddenly, Chandra opens her eyes, which glow with menacing emerald flames. In a booming voice she spits out arcane words and the ground beneath you begins to rumble. Suddenly, around the clearing black crystalline structures erupt from the ground, sending large globs of mud flying through the air. After dozens of these small structures emerge, the ground shudders even more violently until a fully formed crystalline barrier shoots up all at once, encompassing the entire clearing.

Chandra then falls silent and the surrounding area follows her example. She stands up from her meditation and turns to you all. "It is complete."

Chandra casted a spell to make a home base all at once, mostly just neatly arranged bunkers to hold the living portion of the army. Everything is surrounded by a large wall with an opening for an entrance.

If anyone spellcrafts it, I'll just call it "Grimgax Fortifications" or somesuch.

"But that spell doesn't exist!"
"It does now."
"But she can't cast arcane spells!"
"It was a scroll."
"But s--"
"Rocks fall, you die."

Part 2: Recruiting

"The group that attacked us were under orders to do so. These vermin likely under orders from a leader," Chandra says to the group, "We cannot afford for this leader to realize his attack has failed and to mobilize a stronger force against us. And I certainly don't want the locals to think that we're pushovers." Her lips curl into a wicked smile. "Find their encampment. Kill the leader for his insolence. These locals can give us valuable information about these lands, so 'persuade' the survivors to join our ranks. If they will not, our necromancers will force them to join us anyway."

The group must track down and make a counter attack on the lizardmen's nearby encampment.

This encampment can provide valuable information about the local land, so Chandra would rather have some living survivors. They can help set up hooks for other missions.

Potential discovered hooks:
- there's an important elvish trading hub in a nearby forest
- a dragon's lair lies within the swamp
- a powerful individual has been escorted through the swamp recently to an off-coast prison

The party needs to figure out where the lizardfolk's encampment is. Fortunately, it's very near the Gate. Simple tracking checks will let the party follow the deep muddy footprints of the raiding party back to a well-worn path that leads directly to the encampment. Since my groups never have the tracking feat, a normal search check will be fine.

The encampment itself is a fairly large and advanced band. There are 18 combative lizardfolk in total: One level 3 Druid chieftan, one level 1 barbarian, one level 1 scout, and fifteen (8 without the raiding party) normal lizardfolk. There are also ten noncombative lizardfolk moving about the encampment, but they hide in their huts at the first sounds of trouble.

Lizardfolk Entrance (EL 5):
4x CR 1 Lizardfolk
1x CR 2 Lizardman Scout1
XP: 425

The well-worn path widens as it reaches your destination. An encampment lies ahead, surrounded by a decaying wooden wall comprised of logs bound vertically together. The top of each log is carved into a spike, some adorned with humanoid skulls. Four lizardfolk stand at the entrance, each firmly holding a javelin in their hands.

The chieftan figures something is amiss when hours have gone by and his raid hasn't returned yet. He doubles the guards (normal lizardfolk) at the entrance to four and orders the scout from before to hide within striking distance.

Lizardfolk Encampment:

Smells of raw fish fill your nostrils as you step inside the encampment. A dozen small mud huts with thatched roofs can be found in the area with small fire pits scattered amongst them. The most prominent structure here resides at the far end of the encampment -- a large tent made of animal hides.

There's a large wooden cage in the north end with an elf captive inside named Gabson. He's a cleric (neutral good elf cleric2), originally from Autumn's Edge Outpost in Cinderbark Forest. He was traveling back home from Mellin's Ferry by taking the fastest route through the swamp when a raiding party captured him. The lizardfolk keep him as a slave, but since his healing is such a great boon to the band, they treat him pretty well.

Gabson, though a good person, has an overinflated ego. He knows he's invaluable to the lizardfolk, which only feeds that ego. Gabson believes that the party is here to rescue him, and if he realizes that they're evil, he still thinks that they tracked him down to find out where the lich Xykon was taken (he passed by the caravan holding him on the road by chance).

Gabson doesn't willingly help evil folk, but if they threaten to murder him, then he's more co-operative. If taken prisoner he will try to escape when the time is right.

Tent Ambush (EL 6):
4x CR 1 Lizardfolk
1x CR 2 Lizardman Barbarian1
1x CR 4 Lizardman Druid3
XP: 613

If the encampment becomes under attack, the chieftan calls for all warriors to retreat to his tent where they stage an ambush.

Inside the tent lies three long wooden benches covered with clay bowls holding half-eaten meals. On the ground beside each row is a large metal bucket. The hide walls of the tent depict an enormous black dragon who's head and tail meet at the entrance. Beyond the benches, elevated to oversee the entire mess hall, is a throne adorned with bones.

(black dragon picture should make the party curious)

Once the party has killed the chieftan or half the lizardfolk, the rest of the lizardfolk attempt to surrender. Once surrendered they will provide any information that they know and reluctantly follow any orders so long as they can survive.

Our small tribe has long been the faithful servant of a mighty black dragon, a tradition that has dated back centuries. In return for our servitude of bringing food, treasure, and annual sacrifice, the master protected us. Had he still have been around, he surely would've crushed you all.

He is gone now. Has been for years. We don't know what happened to him.

The master's lair is not far from here. It is where we made our sacrificial rites to him.

The master was as cunning as he was cruel. We were not his only servants. It is said that decades ago he searched the lands for the most vile and ruthless kobold tribe and brought them to his lair. You see, he built his lair on top of a great mountain of gems. The kobolds were tasked with mining the gems to increase his hoarde and also to booby trap the entire lair, two things that the race is best known for.

No one would be foolish enough to try and steal from his lair. The kobolds are the best at what they do.

Part 3: The Missions

Because Chandra's army is far smaller than the elf kingdom's, she has to use every possible advantage that she can get in order to win. That means accumulating wealth to fuel her campaign, gain and manipulate allies to fight for her, turn the elf's allies against them, cause civil war, drop plagues, carpet bomb 'em, whatever.

Above all, she has to be smart how she does it. If the elves become aware of the threat too soon they can simply march in on her location and wipe her out through sheer numbers.

Idea #1: Dragon's Treasure
A powerful black dragon once lived in the swamp, commanding the loyalty of the lizardfolk and kobolds. His magical prowess was matched only by his maliciousness.

Rumor has it, however, that this dragon has perished not long ago. If a properly equipped group can brave the traps, untold riches would be theirs for the taking!

Lead-in hooks:
- lizardmen tell the party about the dragon's lair
- party finds notes in the elvish encampment about the lair
- Xykon tells the party that if they want him to loyally serve their cause, they must first retrieve an item from the lair that was "stolen from him"

If Chandra finds out about the lair, she will order the party to retrieve the treasure. After all, vast amounts of riches can greatly raise the odds of a successful military campaign, since it can be used to hire more mercenaries and spies, buy out diplomats, and of course, purchase really baller equipment.

I don't think the adventurers would mind braving a couple traps for sweet loot!

Among the loot is Xykon's phylactery.

Potential discovered hooks:
- I guess they can identify a lich's phylactery somehow and try and track him down?
- a piece of the Macguffin

Before the party heads out, Chandra gives the most accomplished spellcaster of the group 6 black crystals, telling them that once set around in a perimeter and activated, it will teleport items/people back to the anchor (pentagram that she drew) at the base. This is how the party can transport the treasure back once they've secured it.

Not far from the entrance is an elf corpse. He was killed two days ago, succumbing to his arrow wounds. Looting his body will find a map showing a route from the dragon's lair to the encampment he came from, inside a neighboring forest. With some good tracking, one could follow the trail of blood all the way back to the cave.

Cave Trap (EL 2):
CR 2 Knockdown Trap
XP: 125

Looming out of the shadowy undergrowth is a haunting sight -- a blood-stained jagged stone altar in the middle of a small clearing. Rusted manacles and crude metal instruments litter the surface and airborne insect buzz over the gruesome structure. Scattered around the area are sharp wooden poles, each adorned with humanoid bleach-white bones. Behind the altar, emerging from the side of the hill, is an expansive cave, the grey stone shaped like a menacing dragon's face, its gaping mouth serving as the entrance. An object glistens deep within its left eye socket.

Beside the cave entrance is a large wooden sign with writing in red paint. It reads, "(Common) All intruders will die! (Draconic) Glory to the Kobolds!"

The object is a small lump of pyrite, aka fool's gold. It's a trap attached to a string, which sets off alarms to the kobolds below but also triggers a large stone slab to fling itself at the person like a bat, knocking him back 20feet (2d6). CR 1.

The interior of the cave is dark and damp with hole-filled walls. It stretches deep into the hill, too far for you to see its end.

This entrance goes into the dragon's lair. The entrance to the mine is on the other side of the hill. Twenty kobolds are stationed here to protect the treasure.

There are three pressure plates hidden on the floor. They don't activate traps, but trigger alarms underground for the kobolds.

At the end of the cave is a trap door. This is the main entrance of the lair for the kobolds. It's a 10ft drop to the ground below. There's a ladder on the floor, but the kobolds obviously take it down when they're not using it.

On the ground immediately below the trap door is another pressure plate. If this plate or any of the plates in the cave have been triggered then the party can hear a faint yet audible ringing sound.

If any of the alarms are sounded, the party hear's a great commotion happening around them, as if people were moving all around them. With a good listen check, they can hear kobolds chattering eagerly in Draconic about how they're excited to kill more big folk, feast on their organs, kill them nice and slow, etc. Evil stuff.

Tucker's Kobolds (EL 7):
10x 0.25 Kobolds
1x CR 1 Choke Point Trap
1x CR 2 Automatic Phalanx Trap
1x CR 2 Pit Trap with Spider Swarm
1x CR 4 High and Low Trap
XP: 763

(Most kobold traps used are directly from here: http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/we/20060127a)

You find yourselves at one end of a stone-carved hallway 5ft wide. The roof is a little low for medium-sized humanoids, but still allows for a full range of motions. There is no light source here. Both walls have dozens of holes in them.

(For those who can see) There are unlit torches situated along the walls in metal holsters. The hall heads straight for 60feet before ending, allowing you to take another passage to the left or right.

Two passages run parallel on either side of this hallway, with four kobolds lined up on both sides ready to shoot through the holes at passing adventurers with light crossbows.

In the middle of the hallway is a CR 2 automatic phalanx trap.

Four kobolds show up, fire their slings at the party, then retreat into both passages, enticing the party to follow.

In total there are 10 regular kobolds on this level.

(From here it's just chaos for the party. I plan on using each trap from the web enhancement from CR 1 to 6, along with the kobolds constantly using hit and run tactics. The passages start becoming narrow and low too.)

Dragon's Treasure (EL 10):
10x CR 0.25 Kobolds
2x CR 3 Topsy-Turvy Trap
1x CR 6 Hold Person Catapult Trap
1x CR 7 Black Pudding
XP: 1875
Eventually the party finds the correct path to get to a pair of elevators that can take them down directly to the dragon's hoarde. Unfortunately, one is a trap, the wires snapping and causing the elevator to freefall once 200 pounds has been placed on it.

The dragon's treasure room is an expansive cavern, which is very fortunate for the party, because they can finally move around relatively unhindered. The kobold defense is much lighter here for this reason too -- they invested most of their defense in their most defensible positions. Still, the kobolds have a few more emergency tricks.

The elevator doors open, revealing a cavern that is enormous in scope. Despite its size it is well-lit, with blazing torches firmly held in iron holsters lined up along the walls. The greatest light source, however, lies on the other side of this underground lair -- a brightly shining pile of gems and precious minerals of all varieties, larger than any royalty's coffers, illuminating the walls adjacent to it in a soft orange glow.

Three 5ft wide rope bridges connect the stone platform that you're on over a deep 30ft wide chasm to the platform holding the treasure. Ten armor-clad kobolds stand guard on the other side.

Ten kobolds stand guard here and start firing crossbows at the party.

Two of the three bridges have a topsy-turvy CR 3 trap activated by a pressure plate in the middle of the walkway. The middle bridge is safe.

The chasm is a 30ft. drop. Inside it lives something big and nasty chained to one end. Think Star Wars in Jabba's lair style. Not sure what it is yet.

On the other platform is one more trap, the hold person catapult trap (CR6). It hurls the target 10ft into the air and into the chasm, taking 4d6 falling damage.

The "treasure" itself is actually a very high DC Major Illusion spell which everyone can figure out as soon as they interact with it. There is a secret door on the back wall, however, that opens once someone presses down on a pressure plate. Inside is the real pile.

There's an incredible amount of treasure here to supply Chandra's army. Xykon's phylactery and a piece of the MacGuffin can be found here, as well as (insert a couple useful items for the party).

#2: Infiltrate Autumn's Edge Outpost
Autumn's Edge Outpost is Lorywn's most southern settlement. The official reason why the elves are here is to maintain close ties with the friendly humanoid nations in the southern region and to dispose of a terrible cyst that is slowly rotting away the forest. However, more politically-aware citizens know that this outpost is a convenient way to lay claim to more resources.

Small scouting parties guard all roads leading to the outpost high up in the treetops and are difficult to spot.

The outpost is in the center of the forest, built on the massive branches of three magically-enhanced trees. It comfortably holds around five hundred inhabitants, mostly elves.

The malignant cyst can be found northeast of the outpost. The area surrounding it is withered and reeks of evil. A paladin and druid are at the site, taking samples and testing countless enchantments and remedies in the hopes of stumbling upon a cure.

(useful forest link: http://www.dandwiki.com/wiki/SRD:Forest_Terrain)

Sprawling ahead is a seemingly endless forest of massive trees with dark reddish brown barks. Some tower over you at heights that reach four hundred feet and almost blot out the sky. Instead of the open blue, the forest ceiling is ablaze with a fiery collage of leaves that are colored in varying mixtures of red, orange, and yellow. The leaves are lit up by the bright sun above and illuminates the ground below with a warm celestial glow.

The ten foot wide, well-worn dirt path winds its way forward.

Despite the leaves' colors, it's the beginning of summer. This is their natural healthy colors.

Cinderbark Archer Encounter (EL 5):
3x CR 1 Elf Ranger1
1x CR 3 Elf Ranger3
XP: 413

As you're walking along the path, a sudden voice booms overheard. "Hold it right there! Don't move a muscle or we'll shoot!"

A group of rangers led by an elf named Kirion guard this path leading to the outpost. Each wears camofluage and has a bow trained on the group. The elves are very cautious with visitors, especially non-elf ones, but if they prove that they have good intentions then they let them pass. Kirion goes down to speak with them.

If violence occurs, Kirion spends his first round action using his () to summon a huge scorpion.

Autumn's Edge Outpost

Ahead proudly stand four trees that dwarf even their massive neighbors, their trunks spanning a good two hundred feet in diameter each. Nestled high above on their mammoth branches are dozens of wooden platforms holding buildings, each platform connected to others by rope bridges.

Three massive trees are the base of the outpost. Each tree holds two platforms, and each platform is connected to the others via rope bridges. These trees themselves are magically enhanced to be bigger and stronger than the neighboring trees to reliably hold all these structures. They've also been enchanted to be fire-proof, 'cause the elves aren't dumb. I know "burn everything" will be the first tactic that my players think of. :smallamused:

On either side of each tree is an elevator that is run on a pulley system. This is the main method that people on the forest floor reach the platforms.

The elves have also attached vines to the branches above their platforms, allowing more agile locals a faster means of transportation around their outpost.

Around five hundred elves live in the outpost, a bonafide community. Though most are noncombatants, the distance from other elvish settlements means they must be more self-sufficient and able to protect themselves. For this reason, there's quite a sizable "army" at their disposal, mostly NPC warriors, but also a healthy mix of low level rangers, fighters, clerics, and druids. The leaders of the community will be particularly brutal if aiding the rest of the troops, I'm thinking NPCs that can go toe to toe with party members if not slightly more powerful.

Trades Tree:

A bustling trade district sprawls over this wooden platform. Merchants of elven, human, dwarf, and halfling descent congregate beside the center road, loudly proclaiming the superior quality of their goods, from food to trinkets.

Established shops are scattered away from the bustling main road. Signs are hung over each shop showing the goods that they specialize in.

Notable Shops:

1) Kellin's Provisioning
- Kellin Shadowbanks is a halfling rogue that caters to folks traveling long distances. He also occasionally steals from visitors.
- sells any basic starting equipment and mundane gear
- also sells a secret stash of poisons to the right people

2) Jace's Smithy
- Jace is a an accomplished human blacksmith and also a collector of exotic gear.
- sells +1 weapons/armor

3) Arcane Wonders
- Nigel is a retired elf wizard (lvl 6) adventurer. He's held in high regards in the community and is responsible for the magical wardings protecting the trees from potential hazards such as fire.
- sells scrolls of dispel magic / mage armor / invisibility / wind wall / rope trick, potions of cat's grace / feather fall / jump / reduce person, and

4) Sharp Shootin' Bowyer
- Selendis is an elf scout that helps her father run the business while he's in the back working on repairs. She's one of the strongest combatants in the outpost (scout6) and can surprise the party.
- sells +1 ranged weapons and 6x fountainhead arrows (MIC p52)

Residences Tree:
Dozens of tall wooden buildings sprout up from the platform, each housing multiple elven families. Two inns stand side by side at the entrance. An elaborate white temple stands above the other structures on the far end of the platform, a symbol of a crescent moon shining proudly on top of it.

Pretty vanilla area at the moment. The party can stay at the inns or visit the temple.

A magnificent two-storey temple stands at the end of large granite courtyard. A large marble statue of Corellon Latherian stands guard in front of the temple's entrance with a composite bow readied in his hands.

Robed elves move busily around the courtyard, some carrying round archery targets (divided into three concentric sections) while others carry bows and arrows.

The temple is devoted to Corellon Larethian. Selendis Moonbow is the head cleric at the temple.

A yearly archery contest on the temple grounds in the deity's honor will be held the day after the party arrives.

Anyone is able to participate in the archery contest (CW p132). The winner gets a +1 Seeking Spellstoring bow (type and STR based on winner).

Military Tree:
The clashing sound of steel against steel and the twang of arrows fill the air in the daytime on this platform. Dozens of armor-clad elves perform their daily military drills here, practicing their deadly art on wooden target dummies or in duels with dulled blades.

The only structure on this platform is an imposing building that resembles a small fortress.

Dozens of elves perform military drills in the daytime here. Most are warriors, with some lvl 1 fighters / rangers / scouts / warmages.

The first floor of the fortress holds all of the military's weapons and armors. The basement has food provisions, rations and the like. The top floor is the officer's meeting room, a large wooden table holding maps of the area and various military goals, including documents pertaining to Prince Thaladun's journey through Cinderbark Forest.

The players will likely want to grab the documents discussing the dwarf prince so that they know his route and times and prepare an ambush. They can also steal elvish military apparel to plant after the ambush.

The Cinderbark Cyst:

This cyst (Terrible Cyst DMG2 p248) is a day's journey northeast of Autumn's Edge Outpost. As the party reaches the cyst, the forest's fiery colors begin to darken, vegetation becomes thinner, animals are agitated and more violent. Even closer, the vegetation is black and cancerous.

Stationed in the area near the cyst is a paladin named Edwin and a druid named Salandra. They have set up a small alchemical lab and have been working for months trying to come up with a cure to the cyst.

Salandra believes she in close to a breakthrough when the party arrives. She needs just one more ingredient to try out her latest remedy, the (blank) from a (blank, a powerful forest-dwelling creature). When the party arrives, she asks them to help her retrieve the ingredient for her.

If the party aids her, she will cure the cyst and accompany the party back to the outpost where the group will be rewarded.

More likely, the party will move towards the cyst and absorb it into their bodies. If they do, they all gain Smite Good 1/day until they die and the cyst "disappears."

Idea #3: Recruit Xykon!
The elves are holding captive a lich named Xykon in a well fortified outpost just off the coast (Elfcatraz!). Xykon was once a highly influential nobleman who was seduced by the dark arts, but when his devious nature was discovered he was thrown in jail. The elves do not know where his phylactery is so they cannot be rid of him for good.

A powerful lich with knowledge of the elve's hierarchy can make for a potent ally. Break Xykon free and recruit him to Chandra's cause!

Lead-in hooks:
- elvish encampment has documents ordering an escort to take Xykon to prison
- lizardmen mention that a powerful individual was escorted through the swamp to a prison
- party finds phylactery amongst dragon loot and somehow track down the lich with it

I love the comic so I thought maybe it would be cool to have an NPC named after one of the coolest villains. He'd have to be a lower level than the comic Xykon of course.

I picture this as a sort of stealthy infiltration mission. Slip past or kill the patrols, avoid triggering alarms, and then break out nice and clean. Or... Rambo it. Whichever!

If they do not have the phylactery with them, then Xykon will offer complete loyalty to Chandra's cause if they simply return to him an "item" from the dragon's den.

Xykon's phylactery is, in fact, amongst the dragon's hoarde.

Potentially discovered hooks:
- xykon wants the party to retrieve an item from the dragon's lair
- xykon tells them of a nearby elvish encampment where they can learn of more recent events

Part 4: Time to get Serious

Send the Dwarves to War!
The second largest united military power on the continent is the dwarf kingdom of Baladun. The dwarves and elves have followed an uneasy truce, but recently border negotiations regarding a forest between the two nations have brought further strain to their relationship.

You have discovered that the dwarf king's son, Prince Thaldir Stonewedge, has been sent to meet an elf representative at the forest in question to work out a deal.

Make sure the prince never arrives at his destination. Intercept his caravan, kill Thaldir, and then plant elvish weaponry and insignias on the bodies. Send the dwarves to war!

Lead-in hook:
- documents in elvish encampment explaining that the Prince will be entering the area for peace negotiations

Pretty straightforward. Kill every, let no one escape (that's the tricky part!), then plant the elf equipment to pass the blame on them.

Potentially discovered hooks:
- ???

Giant Allies:
Help overthrow leader of a large tribe of giants and replace him with one willing to co-operate with Chandra. These giants will lead the head of the army and make guerilla hits on outlying bases, making the elves think that the giants themselves are going to war with them.

The MacGuffin:
The elf army is still too powerful to confront head-on, and Chandra can't be sure how long it will take for Lorwyn to realize something is amiss on their continent. Enter the MacGuffin.

This is an evil relic of somesort of power that will help Chandra even the odds when the armies clash.

Since it's evil, Lorwyn decided to break the relic in half and store both pieces in well-guarded locations. The black dragon of the swamp stole one piece and kept it in his hoarde, hoping to steal the other eventually too. The other piece is securely guarded in an elf temple, complete with celestial guards and goody stuff.

Xykon knows of this MacGuffin and tried to steal it for himself, but got caught and thrown in jail. He'll likely tell the party about it.

Keep the Truth Hidden:
Some elves are starting to believe that a more sinister force is behind all these maladies. A band of heroes are sent to investigate. Crush them!

Extra Locations:

Mellin's Ferry:
Drellin's Ferry from RHOD module with different names. It's a port town that is the main method of traveling to Elfcatraz, so it's very likely that the party will stop here. I wonder what an evil party will do? :)

Random Inns:
There'll be inns along the road. Maybe someone will burst in asking for aid. Maybe low-level NPC adventurer groups are lodging. Hilarity is likely to ensue, or just bloodshed.

That's what I got so far. Any suggestions are welcome!

Fouredged Sword
2010-07-27, 08:09 PM
The native tribe would work well as lizardfolk. They are powerful enough to give a 5th level party a run for thier money without being loaded with loot. Give the leaders some class levels, maybe as many as three, to even the score on the big fight. Magic useing classes sound good for leaders, not to powerful due to the racial HD, but tough and with some nice tricks.

The dragon lair is a good idea, but be careful not to have the game break down into "I take 20 on search". Use more than just disarmable traps, make the party think. I like an ooze filled dungon for a green or black dragon. The owner is immune and he keeps the treasure out of reach of the oozes, but any intruder must contend with the acid spiting death. It gives the non-rogues something to do.

Also if I was a Litch, and I wanted to hide my soul and I didn;t have much time before the elves got me, I would hide it in a dead dragon's lair. Ready made defences such, and it becomes a needle in a haystack trying to find it among all the other magic items of value.

Note the plot tie in. Let one plot lead into the next. Let them pick one to do, say rescue the lich, then have him remind them of the dragon treasure and claim there is something he wants from it. Let the party figgure out it's his soul and hold it over his head.

Tie in the elven outpost somehow. Have a note about a planed expedition to the dragon lair to take the loot for the elves. Have a note about the prisoner lich and the missing phalnctry. A interconected world will have your players keep thier eyes open and looking at all the plot hooks you have.

2010-07-27, 08:17 PM
If your looking for a reason why Chandra hasn't been killed off yet you can just put it down to usefullnes.

Its hard to discard something that has value, regardles of the risk.

I would have the leaders of Guilt spying on her rather then trying to assasinate her.

Have agents of the Guilt leaders trying to buy/blackmail one of the PC's loyalty over to their side rather then Chandra to work as a sort of double agent.

Once the Elven nation has been wiped out i would have another General come through who is more loyal to the Gilt leaders who job is to covertly weaken Chandras power base to the point where she can be removed while still moving the war forward.

Sounds interesting on the whole tho, Kind of a Burning crusade meets the Magician setting.

2010-07-27, 08:27 PM
Undead are typical and work (even our dead opponents are useful), though something like half infernals or what not would be fun to. Oooh, or what about some of the Lord's of Madness races (don't have my book to look at the moment).

Chandra is still alive because 1) she's useful or 2) she's a political pawn in a game to keep one faction within the empire off balance. She may know it and play on it or not. 3) She's not undead, and though not to be trusted being an outsider has advantages by not having their disadvantages.

2010-07-27, 08:37 PM
The conquer scouting party thing reminded me of Saiyans of Dragon Ball Z.

Looks interesting.

2010-07-27, 10:15 PM
Amazing suggestions!

I made each idea potentially lead in to every other idea. The party can choose any order of missions and still get hooked into the others.

The Chosen are now officially undead / fiend mix.

I added more important NPCs and explained why Chandra is allowed to live.

The swamp dwellers are now lizardmen.

Xykon's phylactery is now in the dragon's hoarde. Beautiful tie-in :smallcool:

I'm out of ideas for now, but this is probably enough for the first two sessions. First game will be played this coming monday! I'll start fleshing out the first parts of the campaign tonight and will update the first post when it's done.

I capped the campaign at four players. Level 5, all books allowed, standard wealth. They're already spamming me with questions, hehe.

I never read the Magician but Warcraft's story definitely has influences on this. Also the gate system is loosely based on the gate relics from Stargate, the old magical nation is similar to Forerunners / Xel'naga and then there's a sprinkling of Magic the Gathering amongst other things. Chandra is sort of a Caesar type character, ambitious and wants always more, Rome aka the Ghost Council is understandably wary of her. Would love to mix in some Queen of Blades elements in her too.

2010-07-27, 10:23 PM
Your Chandra character also put me in mind of Katarina from league of legends.


Her back story

Katarina, The Sinister Blade
Many of the noble daughters of Noxus are content to live their decadent lives of privilege. Not so with Katarina. Daughter of the feared Noxian General Du Couteau, the girl was always more interested in her father's blades than in the dresses her sisters spent so much time fussing over. Her father, ever the opportunist, happily fostered her bloodlust. Katarina was trained by the finest warriors under her father's command and, once she bested them, by Noxus's most lethal assassins. The ruthless woman first cut her teeth performing covert missions in the Ionian War, but the challenge of such engagements was simply not enough to sate her ambitions. Katarina wanted not only to be deadly, she wanted to be feared and adored. The League of Legends called and Katarina eagerly answered.

''The blade-mistress of Noxus is like a black widow - beautiful, but deadly.''

2010-08-07, 12:05 PM
We had our first session and I put most of the journal up already.

It was a full day session and they got ALOT done. It was probably my most successful DM'ed session ever and we all had a great time. They certainly feel like badasses and everyone's getting very into their characters and into the plot. They've also touched upon all three of my mission hooks already without me needing to feed them anything. There was even talks about accomplishing my long-term mission ideas, like recruiting the ogres and sending the dwarves to war.

Right now they're at the bottom level of the dragon's lair after some crafty use of Summon Undead I. I'll write the rest up soon, as the adventures of Albert ("Ahlbehr") the flaming skeletal owlbear sent the table into hysterics.

We're gaming again on monday and I expect them to complete the dragon's lair and autumn's edge outpost, maybe start on elfcatraz too. That means I gotta prepare more!

My biggest complaint so far is how long it takes to make NPCs or monsters with class levels. Is there a program that I can use to help make those faster?

2010-08-07, 12:20 PM
In the DMG and in the Players Handbook 2 there are a couple tables for quick NPC's with class levels, feats and gear. Its a good helper for when you need to make an NPC something other than a Commoner 1

2010-08-09, 04:30 PM
In the campaign right now. I need some random monsters to throw at them to waste some time!

The group is currently:
jimmy rogue 5 / assassin 1
dan favored soul 6
dunsten barbarian 2 / warblade 4
syn scout 6

They're going to spend a week in open fields, and then a week in a forest.

What good monster encounters can they run into during those times?

Fouredged Sword
2010-08-09, 06:50 PM
Trolls. Kick it up a notch!

..Dire apes.
Dire elephant.
Bears. Lots and lots of bears.
Faction of lizardmen not under control.
Random Elves on patrol.
Dire Bears.

Dire anything really. Big animals are simple and straight forward. I like trolls though. Make sure your party has a fire damage dealing ability though, or the battle could turn into a loooong slogfest with the troll on the lasting side.

2010-08-15, 07:49 PM
So we have had two sessions so far, going into our third.

At the beginning, the group learned most of the backstory of the campaign. They defeated the raid encounter with only a few scratches, then promptly moved on to decimate the lizardfolk's encampment, children and all. There they recruited two NPCs, a lizardman barbarian who was second in command and the elf cleric prisoner. The two joined the dark side through torture tactics on the elf and appealing to the barbarian's code of honor and glory. More background and plot hooks were discovered through them.

The group were faced with three obvious choices -- go to Elfcatraz and free Xykon, retrieve the dragon's treasure from the kobolds, or head over to the elf outpost for information regarding the dwarf prince's whereabouts. They chose to get the treasure first.

I played the kobolds smart but the group threw some surprises at me. Dan summoned a skeletal owlbear to trigger most of the traps while Jimmy observed and disarmed them later. The second part of the dungeon was more lethal, but they managed.

They recovered the treasure, got praise from Chandra, and were promised a fair share of the loot after everything has been accounted for. With that, they head off to the elf outpost.

On the way they come across an inn beside the road. Another group of (good) adventurers were chilling in there too. Our evil party pretends to be normal until night falls and then they murder everyone inside and burn down the inn. Hooray!

Our evil heroes finally reach the forest and the first night inside they get attacked by a dire bear. No problem, the warblade hacks it up.

They move forward some more and get jumped by the elf scouts in the trees. This is where we called it.

So the dire bear was a nice scare, thanks for the suggestion. The bear could've been lethal if it had a chance to full attack, but was denied the chance. It also helped that the warblade is busting out 35+ damage hits.

In terms of loot, I'm not sure if I've been too generous or not. Everyone basically started off with Belts of Healing and +1 weapons and armor. The adventurers they killed were their biggest source of magic loot. In terms of magical stuff, I've given them:
- Gloves of Ogre Strength +2
- Amulet of Constitution +2
- Ankth of Translocation
- Reliquary Holy Symbol
- Gloves of Lightning ("unlimited powerrrr!!")
- Cloak of Charisma +2
- Pearl of Speech
- +1 morningstar
- Rogue Blade (maaaaybe, I can still change it though since he hasn't even inspected it yet)

Also a potion of invisibility / fly / cure moderate wounds / detect magic, a scroll of soften earth and stone / restoration / fireball, and a wand of lesser vigor. I wanted to give them neat niche abilities and make sure the favored soul can easily heal up the group out of combat and not waste spells to do it.

The reason why I gave them the Rogue Blade is because the assassin looks like he's significantly lagging behind in combat. He's not getting enough sneak attack opportunities in combat (not immune creatures mind you, regular dudes) and his +attack is pretty bad. He doesn't need to be smashing foes for 30+ damage like the warblade, but I feel bad when he just sits around in combat. Jimmy was using a rapier + dagger combo too, so it felt fitting. I hope it's not too much though.

We're playing again tommorrow and I expect Autumn's Edge Outpost to take up the entire session. I'm not sure how they'll go about infiltrating it. They have Gabson (the elf cleric) leading the group. Gabson lived in the outpost and was told to lie to his bretheren, saying that the party rescued him from the lizardfolk (partially true). They also threatened to start massacring people if he tries any funny business. Will he try to betray them if they let him out of their site though? Very possible.

If they do infiltrate the place though, they'll have an opportunity to identify all their sweet loot, purchase generic things with their large supply of gold, learn more plot hooks, all that good stuff.

If they Rambo it, they can still do everything that they could've accomplished by infiltration, but it's just far more dangerous. I've got tons of old character sheets ready for fun and interesting NPC opponents! I also foresee some epic fights on the rope bridges. :smallbiggrin:

I'm trying to think of nice future loot options. Something that doesn't boost the warblade's already superior combat abilities, something evil and death-related for the scythe-wielding favored soul of nerull, useful and flavorful things for the drow scout, and I think I've covered the assassin with the rogue blade hehe (headband of INT to boost is pretty low skill points?).

Any suggestions are always welcome. Cool loot ideas, encounter ideas, any fun things that I could throw into the elvish outpost to make it more memorable.

2010-08-15, 10:32 PM
Just a quick fyi, headband of intellect specifically says it does not count for skill points upon leveling, only unmodified intelligence. This stops a party from passing around the +6 headband when they level up to get 3 more skills points per level.

There are a couple things for the assassin to make him better. A Vanisher's Cloak (I think that is what it is called) from the MiC is nice. 3/day you go invisible for 1 round. It is really good for needing to get that really hard attack in early with S.A and the nice bonus of attacking as invisible. (+2 attack, opponent is flatfooted).

There are several items that reduce an Assassins Death Attack to 2 rounds instead of three. Not much but it is a nice thing to start fights off with. He will probably want to invest in a Ring of Blinking well down the line.

Skirmishers Boots for scouts are awesome. +2 damage when you skirmish and 2/day an extra attack at full BaB.

I don't know how much the cost of it is appropriate for your game, but the Shirt of the Leech (MiC) has good flavor for the favored soul. Sucking the healing spells from opponents and giving it to himself? Awesome.

Something for the Warblade that doesn't make him better at what he does? Yeesh...might not want to give him anything. Well a useful tool for him when needed might be the Rod of Viscid Globes (MiC) 3/day shoot tanglefoot bags with 100 foot range. Help him take out fliers he can't get too.

2010-08-15, 11:21 PM
Oh, I didn't know that about the headband. Makes sense.

Vanisher's Cloak is very sweet! I forgot, the scout actually bought that with his starting gold. Rogue's Blade is actually a +1 rapier that grants blink for 6 rounds twice a day. We haven't had a chance to see it used in action yet since they haven't identified any of their gear but I expect it to smooth out his combat issues. I'll look into death attack gear too because that ability is straight up cool.

Skirmisher's Boots sounds amazing. I'll drop a pair somewhere in the elf outpost, maybe on a strong elf scout that they defeat.

I like the other items that you suggest too. They fit the flavor that I want. I'll also be giving them access to poisons. Seems like the evil thing to do and fits the assassin's role.

2010-08-16, 12:01 AM
Well speaking of poison and encounters, you gave me an idea. For Low to mid-low level, the Amber Amulet's of Vermin are quite effective. Between 500 to 1200 gold you have a necklace that can summon a monstrous insect to fight for you for a minute. The cool thing is that its a standard action and not a full round. They work 1/day

My favorite is the Huge monstrous scorpion (Errata to be large but it's up to you as dm) and huge monstrous centipede. They do decent damage, and poison, but the main thing is they have a -huge- grapple modifier. This is how I see it play out.

Your group comes upon the elven outpost. It is lead by an elven scout of say level 4 with a couple elven ranger/scouts of 2-3 levels. When the fighting begins, the leader summons either a scorpion or the centipede right in the middle of the party. It makes attacks/grapples on either the warblade to keep him out of the fight, or the favored soul to prevent casting. The elves then run around, skirmishing the rest of the party. Either your players have to kill the insect, thus wasting time and attacks on a summon, or they fight the elves and possibly lose a member to poison and grapple attacks.

Once the fight is over they have a very effective combatant for a couple levels. (Might get it customized to summon a bigger one down the line, or multiple). If they have down time over a couple days, summon it and try to milk as many doses of poison from it. Boom! Instant free poison!

A quick mention on poison. They are far more effective on PC's then NPC's. Highly unlikely that a fight will last more than 10 rounds to allow the secondary hit from a poison to damage a NPC but any kind of poison is doubly dangerous for PC's. Poisons are really good at low levels when everyone's saves aren't very high but as it progresses you need more and more powerful poisons which get exponentially more expensive and you mostly only get half the use out of it.

A quick houserule for poisons if you want them to be more effective on NPC's is to either 1.) remove the secondary damage but cut the cost in half and up the DC by 2 or 2.) have the secondary poison happen in 1d4+1 rounds. This represents how good the subjects fortitude is and can potentially allow someone to drop 2 rounds later. Beware, this is a double edged sword for your players too.

2010-08-16, 07:01 AM
IF you're looking for random encounter this baby http://www.monsteradvancer.com/send/monster/randomCreatureSelection.ma can really create some nice thing.

It's easy to narrow it down by alignment/terrain/types/template if there's some things you specifically don't want them to fight in a random encounter.