Every Sunday night, I run my epic level D&D 4e home campaign. I prep my adventures in WordPress, then add to it and post it the day after we play. The intent is an adventure you can easily steal, with commentary at the end on how you might make it better.
Last week the players arrived back in the Raven Queen’s citadel after investigating the Bleak Fallows. This week marks the return (finally) of Akmenos the bard/warlord from his summer vacation. Now that the whole group is back together, they’re ready for their conversation with the Raven Queen.
Conversations in D&D are really hard to prep for. Usually, I jot down key points the NPC hopes to verbalize and/or knowledge the NPC has about a given topic. In this case, the Raven Queen needs to tell the players about the troubles befalling Zvomarana and will need to be able to respond to the players remarks about the Bleak Fallows. The rest will have to be on the fly.
- The attacks began the day after the players left for the Bleak Fallows. An elite force was able to take out two of their four catapults before the siege began, but the undead also destroyed two of the temples mortars.
- Day two saw the retreat of many at the temple. Vecna’s forces made a move toward the river, hoping to cut off the water. The temple allowed them the victory and used the opportunity for a mass evacuation.
- With the water cut-off, the undead horde used day three to dig trenches and set up for a long siege. The temple priests are busy creating fresh water, food shouldn’t be a problem with most of the city evacuated.
- Day four must have seen a battle in the mortal world, for a flood of spirits surged into the Shadowfell and Vecna was there waiting for the pieces to fall. The Raven Queen was able to save most, but many were lost to Vecna’s necrotic magic.
- The Queen has sent reinforcements, but in doing so has left herself exposed to assassination attempts.
- The Bleak Fallows
- It is an ancient place that predates even her arrival to this realm. Zehir still held his throne when that place changed from a pristine lake into the frozen tundra it is now.
- Vorkhesis would, of course, know more.
Through the conversation, the players learn of three choices for their next course of action.
- Take the mounts to Zvomarana in all haste. The journey would allow them to bring their mounts, protect any fleeing refugees, and see the layout of the seige with a bird’s eye view.
- Encounter 1a – 5 x Hellwasp Devil (flying mount combat)
- The Queen has a teleportation circle that leads directly to the temple, but it’s been acting funny lately, surging randomly with deeply necrotic energy. Travel would be instantaneous, but who knows what waits on the other side?
- It is rare for Vecna to surface so openly. If Kas could be found, he would make for a powerful ally in the war to come. Rumors say Kas has surfaced and is making his way to Zvomarana from outside Letherna, slowly raising an army of his own along the way. However, Kas doesn’t care about the temple, he only seeks to kill Vecna.
- Encounter 1c – 5 x Hellwasp Devil (flying mount combat)
As you can see, I’m left with a dilemma. I don’t know what encounter 2 is going to be until the players decide where to go. In situations like these, I often design a solid, generic team of monsters that can be easily re-skinned for the situation at hand. Whatever that might be.
- Encouter 2a – Scouting out the lay of the land, the players might notice refugees being attacked; better yet, the refugees are circled by the reinforcements sent by the Queen, who face-off against an impossible foe. The goal of the encounter is to save as many reinforcements as possible, but the reinforcements rush to save the refugees.
- Encounter 2b – The teleportation was a success, but instead of taking the heroes to the Queen’s holy temple, they were instead somehow teleported deep inside the enemy camp. Do they attempt to escape or to cause as much havoc as possible? Either way, the goal of the encounter is subterfuge; let none escape to speak of their arrival, but the creatures all try to run when bloodied.
- Encounter 2c – With the mounts and the Raven Queens blessing, the players can bypass Zvomarana completely by traveling due south. They cross high above the frosty peaks to arrive into the full weight of the shadowfell. Outside Letherna, the Bleakness takes them (each draws two Despair cards) and the shadows close in. Unhindered by the distant Queens presence, each monster attack deals 10 extra damage.
I’ll describe these creatures however I want, depending on the situation. I may change their traits;, encounter 2a needs some huge creatures, encounter 2c needs flying creatures. It ain’t no thang.
After a long hiatus, the group is back together again in full glory. They decided to go after Kas (adventure path C) who is rumored to be on a slow move toward Zvomarana. The players are hoping to persuade Kas to hurry it up, forget about building a huge army, and strike now while the time is right. If successful, they might just smash Vecna and his forces against the walls of the great temple, putting an end to him once and for all.
Remember, the players have a quest sitting on their back burner, to find both of Vecna’s eyes and present them to the Raven Queen. Somehow in this plan, they’re going to have to figure out how to do that… and by them I mean me, of course. We also can’t forget the Bleak Fallows; the players asked the Queen to get them some form of water breathing and element resistance… but with Inherent Items, she shouldn’t need to.
The players did some fun stuff for about four hours before riding out.
- Chi-Cal went to Hamblin, the Queens raven master, to send out some speedy messages to Kas, asking him to “meet them under the floating rock”. There, Chi Cal discovered the rare Ravenant, a raven blessed by the Queen that teleports whenever it flies and is of hightened intelligence. He sent all four ravenant’s out to find Kas.
- Asterion went on a nice, awkward, leisurly stroll with Chadwink. Where no ears could hear them, Chadwink told the great minotaur of his suspicions about Delatoth. Though Chadwink had no proof, he did mention that Delatoth personally defeated all three assassination attemts against the lady. Chadwink also cautioned, explaining that though this is the Queen’s realm, this is Delatoth’s citadel. Nothing goes on in this citadel that Delatoth doesn’t know about.
- Samantha Umbra trained the guard at the Queen’s citadel on tactics used by the assassins of Zehir. She then drilled them on the art of blind fighting while keeping the troops blinded in darkness for three hours of sparring.
- Gashix went to the library to study up on the Shadowfell. There he found some shadow-relevant limericks and ditties that were easy to memorize and fun to recite. He also came across a sultry romance novel about a woman who ran away with seven shades. An interesting passage within detailed her journey to the fabled House of Black Lanterns.
- Akmenos also went to the library. He was researching Vecna and came across the ancient texts written by Zehirs steward. With some impressive history checks, Akmenos found the exact texts regarding an assault made by Vecna. The passage detailed landmarks defiled by dark rituals that gathered the dead as they fell, denied them their rest and sent them to be enslaved by Vecna. The larger the landmark, the larger the radius of the effect.
Next week, the search for Kas.