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. What follows is an adventure you can easily steal, with notations on how you could make it better.
Into the Wild Grey Yonder
Last week the players tried to bargain for their lives with The Raven Queen. Even after defeated, she still would not grant them their mortality back, explaining, “I am the god of death, not life.”
Young Suri has much to learn, Morrigan sees to it that she is taught post haste. The players are forced into a extended rest while The Raven Queen appears to go into a meditative trance.
Enter Delatoth, Captain of the Sorrowsworn Guard:
Storming down the corridor towards you is a large sorrowsworn, who looks not happy in the least. He barks orders to a guardsmen at his side, “See to it we double our training, and dammit get a watch back on The Queen, you know how vulnerable she is right now. I’ll go talk to her and find out why the hell we have a feeding frenzy on our hands. It’s all the angels can do to keep those cursed demons from the Source…Who the hell are you?” He says as he stops and places his hand on his hilt.
Delatoth knows the following information with appropriate role/roll playing:
Ha! Ran low on time! What you see above is about as as far as I prepped for my game last night. I got too distracted building Letherna with FreeMind. I’ll tell you more about it on Thursday. What follows was all on the fly, but because of the power of mind mapping, I had some good ideas flying round my head.
At the tenth to last-minute (about ten minutes before the first player arrived) I printed off enough monsters for two encounters. The first encounter I figured Delatoth would force them into, the second encounter I made generic enough to place anywhere, and easy enough to make them feel like heroes.
So, back to Delatoth (who I kept calling Del’hennoth for some reason). Standing in an intimidating pose, he briefly listens to the explanation the players give for why they are there before he barks some orders at his guards, saying he has no time to deal with them. He starts to confine the players to rooms with a guard at the door (the intended extended rest) until The Raven Queen is in a state to explain more.
With an impressive diplomacy check, Akmenos asks Delatoth how they could help. “How do you feel about Drakken?” Delatoth asks with a grin.
About that time a shade messenger arrives with urgent news for Delatoth. Zvomarana, the holiest of the Raven Queens temples, is under attack by a horde of undead. The messenger was one of five sent, the first and only to arrive. Delatoth says a quick prayer of protection for the temple then explains, “We have more pressing matters at hand boy. For now, we must get to the Aviary. How do you feel about Drakken?”
I was a player short tonight, but gained a player too, welcome Sam Umbra, Rogue Shade.
Encounter 1 – 12 x Legion Devil Legionnaire (MM pg.64), 2 x Nycademon (MM2, pg.57), 2 x Indwelling Devil (Plane Above, pg.137), & a Barbed Devil Vetran (Dungeon 168, pg.73) riding a Grave-Born Drakkensteed (Draconomicon: Metallic pg. 196).
I had a vague idea of what I wanted to do with both encounters. The first encounter was dealing with the feeding frenzy of souls the players induced by killing The Raven Queen. Delatoth takes them to the second highest tower in fates palace, The Aviary, to overlook a horrendous scene. Angels of Shadow fight atop ramparts, vastly outnumbered, against a multitude of demons.
The top of this entire tower is a giant cage, with only one exit. The cage grants line of sight but not line of effect. Initiative is rolled as soon as the players are visible atop the tower, but Delatoth needs to open the gate first, before any can leave the aviary. The shifts that Akmenos grants at the beginning of the encounter were rendered useless, because a move action must be spent to mount the Drakken. By the way, the players each received (for now) a Drakkensteed (Draconomicon: Metallic pg. 196), with a strong warning from Delatoth to keep them safe.
I drew some circles on the board, to represent the tower tops, with some lines to connect them. Each line was a bridge 100 – 400 ft below the tower tops. This gave the players a chance to direct their fall toward a bridge should the worst happen, though 400 feet down would still most likely kill someone.
The Barbed Devil on the undead steed is a red herring. The real threat here is the Nycademons with their ability to grab and pull without having to make a strength check. The minions rush in to block the exit of the players. As the players leak out one at a time, the bigger demons attack it.
Many minion demons were engaging Angels of Shadow, also minions. Minions fighting minions is a fun and a great way to make the players feel part of a bigger whole. Because math would be time-consuming though, the minions fought via saving throw rules, 10 and above was a hit. A minion can’t kill another minion after only one hit… it takes two (bloodied, then dead).
After the fight the players were shown great appreciation for their skills. Delatoth personally leads them to their rooms to await further orders from The Raven Queen. During the walk he cautions them, Zehirs assassins have been hard at work lately. The Queen shows little interest in Zehir, but Delatoth fears the threat is worse than she will admit to.
Chi Kal, the thri kreen druid decided to continue to battle the demons, Delatoth gave him a troop of ten to command. Only four died.
Meeting with The Raven Queen
Shadar Kai awake the players early in the morning, saying The Raven Queen awaits. Once again at the Queens Citadel, they see her more composed than before. Suri maintains the control this time, only slipping personas when it makes sense within the conversation.
She tells them of the three main concerns to Letherna.
- Vecna, sensing The Raven Queens weakness, has launched a full-fledged assault. First, he destroyed the majority of Shadar Kai cities, forcing them into scattering across the land, homeless. Most Shadar Kai have joined together in caravans, but they’re mostly defenseless against Vecnas forces. Hordes of undead roam the land, destroying every living thing in their wake. Demons plague the skies, occupying the queens forces and snatching up lost souls whenever they can. Vecna must be stopped.
- Quest 1: The Raven Queen Demands the Eyes of Vecna.
- The Queen knows not where Vecna lurks, but knows the legendary Kas is rumored to have one Eye of Vecna.
- Lost souls roam the land, too many of late. With The Raven Queen stretched thin for too long, there is a backlog of souls who never found their rightful resting place. Most of those souls have found their way to the Bleak Fallow and when they enter, they do not leave.
- Quest 2: Investigate the Bleak Fallows
- Zvomarana, the holiest of the queens temples, is under imminent threat from an undead army. It seems the hordes that destroyed the Shadar Kai cities, have banded together and march toward the holy temple.
- Quest 3: Protect Zvomarana.
For doing each of these tasks, she offers powerful artifacts from the Dawn War, remnants left behind from an age long past… ie: the magic items they’ve all been wanting.
The Queen then becons little Solphi (the refugee girl Asterion has been protecting) to approach the throne, telling Asterion to trust her. Everyone, however small, must make their own choices. The Queen offers her a way to help, a way to forgoe becoming undead. Solphi wants to help, she agrees to the Queens offer. Behold, the new Solphi. The idea is to create that “father/daughter bond” within a 4e format.
When the players ask about their mortal toils, wanting their lives back and all, The Raven Queen once again replies (slipping into Chloe) “Of your answers I cannot tell, but young Vorkhesis should know them well.”
- Main Quest: Question Vorkhesis
- Vorkhesis’ lair is to the north-west, the opposite direction from the temple, Zvomarana lies to the south-east.
They agree to the Dark Lady’s requests, and as they leave the Queens chambers, find Delatoth waiting in the hall. He inquires as to the her wishes, then curses under his breath that she denies the threat of Zehir. He explains that assassins have taken out his four highest generals, severely weakening his chain of command. “An eye for an eye” he says, then asks the players to retrieve the heads of Zehirs four highest priests… and to keep it secret from the Queen. When they agree he lets them take the mounts for their journey.
- Sub Quest: Retrieve the Heads of Zehirs Highest
- Keep it secret from The Raven Queen
The players go back to the aviary and retrieve their mounts. As they leave I describe the horrible scene around them, the demons and angels in combat, the bleak desolation around them, and then the weight of The Raven Queens tasks begin to weigh heavily upon their shoulders.
At this point they each had to draw a card from the Despair Deck. Asterion got a card that made him draw two cards.
After some deliberation, they made a plan; to the Bleak Fallow first, then toward Zvomarana, back to Fates palace, and finally head toward Feritis Exitis to confront Vorkhesis.
Side Note: I always add moments like these into various points in my campaigns. It gives the appearance of sandboxing, but allows me to plan out the next few months of adventuring. I can easily write in ramifications for the players priority choices; there is no right order of events to choose.
As the players flew, they saw a caravan of Shadar Kai in a circular formation, a cloud of dust surrounding them. They flew lower to investigate and saw a horde of undead attacking the caravan. They decided to help the caravan and killed the horde in less than three rounds (it was getting late).
Encounter 2 – 1 x Boneclaw Impaler (P2 Demon Queen Enclave, pg 46), 2 x Sword Wraith Attendant (Dungeon 168, pg.80), 24 x Risenguard of Drzak (Dungeon 162, pg.38).
For saving every Shadar Kai, they were greeted by the caravan’s eldest. Blind, she was led toward the players on the arm of the caravans strongest male. She let them draw a card from the Deck of Many Things, should they so desire. Of course the deck disappeared as soon as a card was drawn, but that doesn’t mean it’s gone…
Akmenos drew The Fates, for those who were curious. Lucky!