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Monthly Archives: August 2012

Incidents – The Beast of Kaidman’s Close

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Cuircumstances
The PC hear about this incident by a rumor picked up while wandering through a city, or over a tankard in an inn.

Event
Among the destitute of the city’s slums come rumors of a monster composed of live, writhing rats. There are claims that it has attacked those walking the alleys and closes at night, robbing them of valuables to take back to it’s fetid hovel. This was little more than a fanciful rumor until children started disappearing.

In truth, one of the town’s rat-catchers has been dressing up in a costume made of rat corpses as a scheme to rob drunks and whorehouse regulars. He crossed a strange line one night when he scared off an assailant preparing to murder a small boy who had stayed out too late at night. The boy told his friends, and the reluctant hero became an icon to the poor and wayward children of the slums. They are now sneaking off into the sewers to spend time with this newfound celebrity – and while the bewildered rat-catcher poses the young no harm, the things that dwell in the sewers just might.

The most likely course of action for the PCs will be to hunt down this “monster” where the rumors say it lairs. A hunt through the sewers will likely result in run-ins with rats and were-rats. When the PCs eventually catch up with “The Beast” they might chase or even attack it. But when the “Beast” here’s a child’s shout from down another winding drainage tunnel, the rat catcher reveals himself, and beseeches the PC’s help in rescuing the youngster (either from a danger of the sewers such as drowning or falling debris; or from a wandering otyugh lurking in the filth beneath the city).

What the PCs choose to do with the rat-catcher afterward is the real tension of this Incident. Technically speaking, the rat-catcher is a robber, making much of his coin from his bizarre muggings. At the same time, he isn’t guilty of murder or kidnapping, and happily encourages his adoring fans to return to their worried parents. He will protest any demands the PCs make to cease his ruse, but is in no position to really oppose them. Clever and compassionate PCs will find a way to convince the rat-catcher to end his crime spree while finding some more worthwhile income for himself (perhaps collecting a reward for rescuing the children, or offering to serve part-time at a temple or orphanage).

Possible EXP and Rewards
Because of the necessary legwork and NPC interaction, grant experience equal to two monsters of the PC’s level. There might also be a reward in gold for the safe return of one or more children. Perhaps the rat-catcher, thankful for staying alive and out of the stocks, passes along some equipment or a magical item he came upon while scouring the sewers for his quarry.

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Posted by on August 29, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Make Yours a Neverwinter Night

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Admittedly, part of my impetus in pursuing this blog was to blow off some of the pent up GM energy I had. It’s been a while since I was running a regular game (GMing for one-shots here and there) but like anyone with a passion for the hobby and a lot of time during the day in which their brain is on autopilot, I put a lot of thought into RPGs. This blog has been a wonderful outlet.

But now it isn’t the only one!

My most regular group of players turned to me once again to take up the task of running our consistent game, and after conferring, we decided to pick up the year old Neverwinter Campaign Setting.

What this means for Save Vs Weekend is that I’ll now be posting encounters straight from one of my active games, as well as getting the chance to playtest (or in some cases re-imagine) encounters I’ve already written up over the past few months. For the sake of my players, I’ll withhold major spoilers and only post encounters after they have survived them (or not).

What this also means is I’ll be devoting more of my extremely limited free time to game prep. Sadly, this could mean brownouts in my usual weekly (if you count the “Incidents” series, bi-weekly) posts, but I assure, any absence is temporary and for the greater good! That said, do not set your signature unerring Neverwinter water clocks by this blog – you will likely disappointed.

If you have any interest in keeping and eye on my campaign, feel free to check out our Obsidian Portal Site (see below)!

What I won’t be doing is giving much in the way of breakdowns or reports from my sessions. While it’s a popular thing to do right now (and with goood reason – it’s fun and helpful!) my goal for this blog was to stay content focused – reserving the commentary only for when it helped to better plan an encounter. I feel like I have varying degrees of success on that front but rest assured, my focus is still on giving you the nitty-gritty of my game, for adaptation into yours.

Share, and share alike. Do what is best for your players and your game.

Now, to cue the music…

follow “Neverwinter: Nightfall” at Obsidian Portal

 
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Posted by on August 26, 2012 in Announcements

 

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The Dukes Ball Part 2 – Hot Date

A little while back I wrote up a skill challenge for navigating a social function full of intrigue and espionage. While thinking about some of the details involved in attending a social function, it dawned on me how odd it must be for the PCs to “go stag” to a dance.

It was around the same time that I was reading a review for Crusader Kings 2 and was fascinated with the mechanic of using an NPC the character has a relationship with (in this case the character’s spouse) as a source for additional stat increases or other practical game impact – a kind of “BFF item slot” if you will (Calm down. I know the idea treating a character, – especially a wife or husband – as nothing more than a stat buff is kind of repulsive at first blush, but it fits with feudalistic notions of the purpose of marriage – as a means of gaining wealth, land, or other resources and solidifying alliances).

So I wanted to extend this idea as an optional bit the the “Duke’s Ball” skill challenge. PCs will have the option to bring a date who has some stake in the events of the ball…but lacks an invitation. Your choice of date confers some sort of benefit, as they bring their own talents to the pool of accomplishing the surreptitious assignment taking place under the noses of the guests. As an NPC their area of expertise is limited, but valuable. The trade off, is that the player will need to agree to help these characters accomplish a task of their own while at the ball.

Setup
One (or the group) of PCs is approached by one of the following potential “dates” (the NPC could be a simple guest as well, no need to force a romantic complication into the mix unless your players are looking for that) with a request to be their “+1.” The dates are straightforward with their goals, explaining why they absolutely must get into this party, and what they can offer in return.

Going Dutch
If the PC tries to weasel out of his arrangement with the date, they will find themselves with egg on their face. Have the Date warn the PC when the players have progressed to the point where they are 1 success away from being halfway through the challenge, or after they have accrued their 2nd failure. If the PC doesn’t use their next action to complete the date’s task (or if the PC fails to complete the task) the Date will leave, causing a scene as they do. This social embarrassment incurs a -2 to that PC’s next action. Should the party complete the skill challenge before the player gets a chance to complete his or her dates goal, continue the encounter until they have had a chance to make good on their offer (the players cannot fail the challenge after accruing the necessary successes, however).

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The Scholar20120824-092356.jpg

The academic elite will be in force at the Duke’s ball – the wise and haughty rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful. T scholar is looking to be taken on as an apprentice, or enter into a top level academy, and the ball poses a great opportunity to sidestep all of the usual networking and impress one of the bigwigs directly. It’s not that the scholar doesn’t have the chops to keep up – on the contrary, he’s fairly brilliant. But he lacks the connections. And that’s

where you come in…

Quest: Succeed at a Hard Diplomacy or Bluff skill check to convince the academics to take The Scholar on as an apprentice.

  • Scholar’s Benefit: The PC gains a +5 to two of the following skills during the entirety of the “Duke’s Ball” skill challenge – Arcana, Nature, History, Religion

 

 

 

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The Harlot

Coin and influence mean having the ability andopportunity to fulfill your every desire, and among the rich and powerful you will always find a fair share of rakes, philanderers, faithless spouses, and those who seek exotic pleasures. So when a lady-of-the-night approaches a PC and requests his or her help in embarrassing a former client who is attending the party, this will likely come as no surprise. Resentful of the titles like “slovenly trull,” or “cheap trollop,” but completely happy with “expensive doxy,” or “wanton wench,” (or whatever other title you can randomly roll for) the Harlot…er…doxy is pleasant and pleading, trying to sway the PCs sympathy over how she was so badly treated by her wealthy patron.

Task: the PC must find a means to embarrass the Harlot’s old patron. Not just mildly. The whole party needs to be laughing at him. At the same time, the Harlot isn’t cruel and doesn’t want any unwarranted physical harm to come to him (he treated her poorly, but never resorted to any physical abuse, and nor will she). If it comes down to a duel, however, the harlot doesn’t mind seeing the spoiled fop take a few good licks.

  • Harlot’s Benefit: A master of distraction, the Harlot can negate a failure on the player’s part by causing a scene that distracts the entire party from whatever faux pas was just caused. Unfortunetly, this diversion only works once – after disrupting the party, the Harlot will be escorted out, likely giggling (and if she is dressed immodestly, jiggling) all the way out of the mansion. NOTE: The player can only make use of the Harlot’s benefit after they have accomplished the Harlot’s task

    20120824-092415.jpgThe Pariah Not everyone of the city’s upper crust has been invited to the Duke’s ball. One nobleman has been left on the fringes of high society, and wasn’t invited to the social function of the season. The dejected nobleman is acquainted with nearly everyone at the party – he knows their quirks, their desires, and a handful of their secrets. But none of that matters if he isn’t at the party, not staying up to date on the latest gossip. He’s interested in more than just getting into the party – he wants back in the good graces of his friends. To do that he’ll need to impress them.

    Task: The Pariah wants back into the good graces of the social elite. There are any number of ways to do this: provide him with a surprising gift to present to the Duke, besting a worthy foe in a (potentially faked) duel, appearing with a stunning and noteworthy date (Hard Diplomacy check) , rescuing a guest from some source of harm or embarrassment (again, possibly a convincing set-up) or any number of options. Let your players stretch their creativity, and have the nobleman filter their ideas to see which have the best chance of success.

    • Pariah’s Benefit: Having the inside track on most of the guests will give the PC who has taken the Pariah as their date an upper hand. For any social (Diplomacy, Bluff, Intimidate) roll, shift the difficulty from Hard to Moderate, or from Moderate to Easy.

Plenty More Fish in the Sea
If these potential NPCs don’t suit your campaign or your players, use them as a guideline for developing your own. Perhaps an existing NPC that the players already have a relationship with would better fit the role of a potential date. Make the Tasks quick and easy (one skill roll only, if any at all) and give a good, solid, tangible benefit to the skill challenge for investing that action in the date’s agenda.

 
 

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Incidents – Talent Show

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Circumstances

The PCs are at a tavern/inn in a metropolitan area – a large city makes the most sense but a small town in an area of diverse cultures or at a crucial trading post also works

Event
A local inn is hosting a talent show and competition! Everyone is encouraged to participate and prizes will be handed out for the winning performers. Ideally one or more PCs enter the competition; The reward should appeal to the players – a few good magic items being up for offer – to encourage more than just the bard from entering (see “Possible Rewards” below). Given that many members of the community are present to watch the show (and that wagers are being staked on favored acts) it shouldn’t be difficult to get even an untalented or disinterested bunch of PCs into the mix.

The villain of this encounter is Carlin Tenzle, a conniving gnome illusionist bent on winning the grand prize. Tenzle will seek to bribe judges, sabotage acts, and in general be rude and destructive to the other participants while bowing to the whims of the crowd. If the PCs don’t intercept the illusionist’s schemes, she wins regardless of the hero’s (or any other contestant’s) actual talent!

Each performer has a goal or quality (other than winning the competition of course) to guide you in portraying their character and depicting their stake in winning the competition. These performers could be a help, hindrance, added complication, plot device, comic relief, adventure hook, or any other tool for your game.

  • Carlin Tenzle – Queen of Mystery: Tenzle is has all of the exaggerated excitement and sincerity of a musical theatre auditioner who is trying way too hard. Her makeup is done with exquisite care, her hair wound tightly in pigtails, and the boots on her foot have lifts, to compensate for some of her small stature as a gnome. Tenzle dazzles the audience with admittedly impressive spells – she can make magical images and eldritch music she composes with a flick of her wrist (creating the fantastical equivalent of a hologram show). That said she’s a bit of an artiste, and some of her work is too self-indulgent for the audience to enjoy.Goal: To win. By any means necessary. Because she is the best, wether she needs to cheat or not. Tenzle will do the following throughout the night:
    -Bribe a judge.
    -Tells any participating PC quite cockily that they may as well bow out – she’s the best around!
    -Snap the strings on Merwyn’s most impressive marionette.
    -Flirt with the Otram Brothers, pitting them against each other and “Yokoing” the band into quitting in a near fist-fight with one another halfway through their set.
    -Putting a rat into one of the mugs Korla is using for her finale.
    -Casting an illusion over one of Lucien’s cards, ruining his most impressive “is this your card….” trick.
    -She boos Grizz, calling him a monster and inciting the crowd to throw food at him.
    -Tenzle has doused one of the metal objects that rusty is going to eat in a very strong alcohol. When the poor rust monster consumes it, he gets sick, and adorably vomits up a pile of brown dust, and woozily wanders off stage to rest.
  • Merwyn the Wise: An old man with a white beard, thin hands and gleaming eyes. He puts on a marionette show depicting local historical moments of significance. He is practiced enough to use three such puppets at once.Goal: Merwyn is hoping to sell any magic items he wins (or use any raw coin) to fund a children’s library. He hopes to offer free reading lessons to urchins, orphans, or anyone who never mastered their letters. He is quite upfront about this desire – pulling at any loose heartstrings the greedy PCs might happen to have.
  • Otram Brothers Jug Band: These six halflings play a variety of instruments made from junk, though their primary means of making music is the glass jug. They are a little taken aback by civilization, having lived on a very isolated farm for much of their lives. They play three songs: “Turnips For My Ankheg”, “Loneliest Harvest Moon” and the upbeat “Who’s my Darlin’? You’se My Darlin’?”Goal: The boys are hoping that fame and (minor) fortune will help them to find some wives, as they are all getting about the age to settle down and start simple but honest agrarian lives of their own. They would be very distracted by the advances of sweet, pretty, smallfolk lady.
  • Korla: This creature’s act is a juggling performance using small wooden balls, progressing to knives, and finally filled beer mugs. Though she appears as a four armed lizard creature similar to a Marilith (though much smaller), Korla is in fact, a doppelgänger. She has gone much further in the mastery of her abilities and can take on alien forms, and even project her shape shifting into localized illusions on her clothing and equipment. Though she is a talented juggler, she hasn’t really progressed past two objects, and uses her abilities to “supplement” the number of items she has spinning in the air.Goal: Korla is a consummate performer and is here simply for the thrill of being on stage. She wants desperately not to be found out for what she really is – suspicion follows doppelgängers and she would likely be run out of town.
  • Lucien The Magnificent: Handsome and lithe with a charming stage presence, this self-styled “magician” does a number of convincing card tricks and prestidigitations. Though none of his talents are actually magical in nature, this elf is a talented sleight-of-hand artist; a skill he developed as a ranking member of the local thieves guild.Goal: Lucien loves winning and loves being adored even more. He does, however, hate losing and not being the center of attention. If he isn’t the competition’s champion, he vey well might purloin one of the prizes (rationalizing that the competition was rigged to begin with) or recouping his time wasted by emptying a few purses on the way out (perhaps even nabbing some coin off a PC!)
  • Grizzgot The Unstoppable: A bugbear is an unusual sight in town, but this one is here to perform, not to cause trouble. Grizz is a triple threat; a strongman, firebreather, and agile dancer. That said, he’s embarrassed to speak in front of the crowd and simply gives polite nods to the audience.Goal: One of the items offered as a reward to the winner is an artifact taken from Grizz’s tribe by adventurers many years ago. He’s here to singlehandedly win it back. Though violence was not the plan, if he doesn’t succeed, he just might need to get the item via other means…
  • Sondra and Rusty: This twelve year old girl is dragging with her a big wooden cage that is difficult to see into. When the slats open, out bounds a horrific and adorable sight – a baby rust monster! Barely the size of a golden retriever, “rusty” does a number of tricks – catching and eating small metal ingots thrown throughout the tavern by his trainer, and answering the question “Rusty, I love you…how do you feel about me?” by gnawing on the sides of a dented old steel shield until he fashions a makeshift heart out of the metal. Rusty also loves belly-rubs.Goal: Sondra performs to supplement her hardworking parent’s income, but she has no illusions about the dangers of her pet. She just got done paying off an angry knight whose gilded and enameled plate mail poor rusty took a chunk out of. All Sondra wants to do is perform, hopefully win, and ideally run into no problems. But Rusty is in rare form, and is twitching his antennae at the blacksmith’s shop. His trainer can hardly afford another “incident” and might ask a PC with a Primal Power class (or someone not clad head to toe in steel) to help her look after the rascally creature.

Possible Rewards and EXP
A gold parcel, or a magic item or two would be sufficient rewards for winning the talent show. Indeed the rewards themselves could be an interesting plot hook. Consider rewarding the players with experience similar to a skill challenge, since they will likely be using a number of skills to foil Tenzle’s rotten plots.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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Incidents – Sex, Lies, and Half-Breeds

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Circumstances
While traversing a city or village

Event
The party catches the last snatches of a conversation between two young people ahead, in the rear yard of a two story shop. I a deep voice says: “I have to go! If your father sees me that’s it. No time to argue. I’m sorry, I…” What follows is a lot of shouting as a third voice join them. It is an older man, his words strangled by rage. Upon investigating they find a young girl, her father (the shop’s owner), and a strapping young half-orc workman. The heated argument dies down as the PCs approach. The father confronts the PCs, begging them to fetch the town guards – he just caught this villain about to defile his daughter (this is of course, not true). The half-orc spares a glance to the girl, then states that he admits his crime (causing the girl to wail with despair) and pleas a reduced sentence. The guards will arrive to investigate he shouting regardless, and will look to the PCs as witnesses to the event. Their word can turn the tide in this tragic little story.

Possible Resolution and Rewards
If the PCs side with the father and send the lovestruck fool of a half-orc off to his sentence, they’ll get a discount at the man’s shop (a fact that he will quietly make quite clear to them). But helping the poor orc boy will get them an “in” with the working class folks – who have a soft spot for the poor outcast half-breed and will gladly serve as contacts for the PCs. Similarly, the peasantry of the town might react negatively to the PCs, knowing that they sided with the vengeful and controlling merchant whom few hold in high regard. Perhaps rumors gathered in low end taverns become frequently false, or thieves guild sellers decide to bump up their prices. There is also the possibility that the half-orc might assist the PCs as either a hireling or guide in the city. Wether his relationship with the merchant’s daughter flowers or is put aside the PCs might also influence, if such things are of interest to a band of dungeon delving sword/staves for hire.

Experience Rewards
Give the players experience equivalent to a single monster of their level.

 
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Posted by on August 14, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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In The Dead of The Night

This encounter is intended for five players of 6th-7th level

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“It’s time to make camp for the night…who has the first watch?”

I’m sure you still say it, but I feel like in our shiny 4th Edition world, this common phrase doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to. We used to dread taking those couple hours (four if you were the elf) to be the one awake, watching beyond the campfire, hearing the clatter of that 1d12 worth of Random Encounters and straining to hear whether it was just a few stirges or another F*#%ing manticore.

The random encounter hasn’t entirely evaporated from the game by any means, but the structured nature of 4th Ed’s experience/encounter planning has made the idea of random events a bit of a pariah.

But that was the appeal of being attacked in your camp at night. There was a real threat to it. The darkness which you usually held back with your party’s combined arms gained a little more terror when it was only you, huddled up in your orc-blind, waiting to see what would come poking around the dying embers of your campfire. The mystery and tension of camping in dangerous areas lead to a lot of cleverly planned and confidently executed bivouacs that were designed with defense in mind. Alarm spells, jingling pot and pan tripwire, salvaged beartraps, high canopy hammocks, they were all the sort of tactics paranoid parties employed so they could get a good night’s rest (and more importantly, your spells and hit points back).

I think that random encounters still have a place in the game – they just require a bit of preconception and purpose. When plotting out the encounters a party will face for a given level you might assume two or three easy encounters to be random ones – either occurring during travel or as a result of being attacked while camped. Since these usually aren’t major set-pieces or plot points they can be short and offer minimal threat (The advantage of surprise and already spent party resources will likely be in the monster’s favor anyway). Just because you choose a random time for his and hers owlbears to charge the camp, doesn’t mean those monsters weren’t in your experience budget. You trade a random monster chart for a pre-planned agenda, and let the timing and location of the fray stay unexpected.

So essentially, “random” encounters have become more purposeful (or perhaps more coherent to the campaign as a whole) while still maintaining their edge of being the unexpected. It isn’t a bad trade when all is said and done. And besides, if you come up with several possible encounters for the party’s level and locale, you can still roll on an exciting chart! Random still lives…it just takes some more work. (And trust me, utilizing the suggested encounters at the end of monster entries in any of the various Monster Manuals can be a big time saver). Besides, part of the reason for random encounters in the first place was to try out a fancy new monster! Like, maybe something from the often overlooked Open Grave….

Purpose
This encounter is meant to ambush the players when they are at their most vulnerable, camped out for the night in the middle of an unrelated journey. Mistakenly the PCs have camped over a mass grave left from a long forgotten war, where the spirits and bodies of warriors who have long since died still refuse to admit defeat, and will attack those who wittingly or unwittingly disturb their resting place.

Plot Text
Read (most likely paraphrase) this one to any players standing watch:

Boredom again…just like every night. It’s not that the trackless miles of traveling is any more interesting, but at least you are getting somewhere and challenging your body. All this sitting around, listening to the drone of insects and the mocking hoots of owls is fatiguing in a completely different way. Still, it isn’t that long to stay awake. Before long you’ll be tucked into your bedroll, nodding off under the sufficient cover of a tent. Not a care in the…
Was that a hand? It can’t be. Must be a squirrel moving around in the grass over there. A…nocturnal squirrel?
You are barely to your feet when an arm follows the writhing object out of the ground. Definitely a hand, the skin pulled taught and dirty, beaten and worn by age and worms. A moan goes up from nearby, and the slithering of chainmail to the staccato beat of unsteady legs approaching you.
Hopefully there is enough time to call out an alarm. They are coming from every side. Even below.

Map
Give your players the opportunity to map out their camp on their own – after all, they are the ones setting the camp and know how many tents/bedrolls they have between them. This might be hint alone to plan defensively when setting up their sleeping arrangements. If your players are vague or not that interested in the details, use the map below (I embellished very little on this one, so you can construct it very closely with the “Wilderness” set of Dungeon Tiles). The example details encounter No. 4, just to give you an idea on some possible layouts. Note that some of the undead should emerge from the ground already in the camp, and others might wander in from the fringes.

Features of the Area
Tents – Tent flaps are a bit unwieldy, and exiting a tent requires 2 squares of movement. Creatures inside a tent have full concealment though the tent is unlikely to be thick enough to provide cover

Campfire – Depending on how well the players have maintained their campfire (if they are using one at all) this may pose a danger to either the PCs or their undead opponents. Consider letting a lit campfire deal 5 Fire damage to any creature that moves through or begins it’s turn on the campfire’s square

Trees – Tall, sturdy deciduous trees provide an escape route, a lookout post, or convenient cover. Climbing one should be an Athletics Check Easy DC

Cliff – Setting the encounter near a drop adds some tension, limiting the player’s avenues of escape. This cliff drops steeply down a good 15 feet or so (1d10 damage fall)

Water – The stream drops quickly to about thigh height, and is treated as rough terrain. You might wish to constrain the undead’s movements to the pictured side of the river (where their grave is) in order to provide beleaguered PCs a means of escape.

Tactics
Tactics will vary depending on which undead end up popping out of the ground, but each iteration of this encounter has a few things in common. Where enemies will pop out of the ground, or approach from will vary depending on the map’s layout, but try to stagger the arrival of minions, skirmishers, and a few brutes or soldiers. This will drop that feeling of dread onto the players as they realize there are more opponents than what they see, and they could appear from any side (sorry warlock, no safe back row to hide out in without fear of retribution!)
The wraith will rise out of the ground near (or even through) the campfire, easily phasing through the stone burying it’s crushed former body. This will likely give it the drop on any lookouts or PCs who have gone without tents.
At least one soldier/brute emerges from the soil inside one of the tents, hopefully startling an unarmed (and possibly unarmored) PC.
Pre-plan which squares your undead will be emerging from. If a player chooses unwittingly to sleep over one of these squares, that will grant the creature a free grab attack with combat advantage during a surprise round.

Monsters
Wraith [Not pictured, lurks beneath the campfire square] (Monster Vault pg. 284)
Green Arcanian/ Skeletal Wizard (Monster Manual III pg. 16)
Ghast (Monster Manual III pg. 95)
Rot Grub Zombie [Z] – and Rot Grub Swarm (Monster Manual III pg. 166-167)
Wight (Monster Manual pg. 262) 5
Forsaken Shell (Open Grave pg. 148)
Dread Zombie [G] (Open Grave pg. 197)
Skeletal Archer [S] (Open Grave pg. 180)
Crawling Gauntlet [U] (Open Grave pg. 142)

To determine which encounter the players face, roll 1d4

Encounter 1
x6 Crawling Gauntlets
x1 Wraith
x2 Ghasts
x1 Wight
x1 Rot Grub Zombie

Encounter 2
x6 Crawling Gauntlets
x1 Wraith
x2 Dread Zombie
x1 Forsaken Shell
x1 Rot Grub Zombie

Encounter 3
x6 Crawling Gauntlets
x1 Wraith
x1 Green Arcanian
x2 Wights
x1 Rot Grub Zombie

Encounter 4
x6 Crawling Gauntlets
x1 Wraith
x3 Dread Zombie
x1 Skeletal Archer
x1 Rot Grub Zombie

Special Considerations
An encounter like this can wind up being particularly unfair to fighters, paladins, and other heavy armor wearing characters. Much of their class balance revolves around their easy access to heavy armor as an inherent advantage, and denying that (since they cannot sleep in heavy armor, and will not have time to properly dress) can put them at an unfair disadvantage – especially if one of the player’s more potent magic items was his or her suit of shining fieldplate.

To offset this, you might wish to allow them to dress partially (throwing on an arming coat, tightening on their helm, slipping into the ol’ greaves). Doing so would grants +1 AC per move action spent, up to a total of half (rounded down in this case) of the armor’s normal value. This also adds a layer of resource management to the fight – is it better to take the time to armor up, or get out there and fight in your underwear (it isn’t entirely unheard of).

The site of an ancient battlefield, and all of these undead were (or were at least the hands of) soldiers left to rot. If the players seem like they are in a hopeless situation, a History Hard DC check might reveal something about what happened to these creatures back when they were men. Showing some signal of allegiance to their former army or recognizing their sacrifice, or offering a proper burial might sway the wraith, skeleton, wights or ghasts, getting them to give up pursuit of the players. Other undead (especially the crawling gauntlets) are too far gone to be reasoned with.

Asleep and Awake
It might help to review the rules for resting, sleep, and waking up (Player’s Handbook pg. 263). A particularly cruel DM might rule that a player is groggy for the first round of combat (dazed) unless they make an Endurance Easy DC Check but you didn’t hear that from me.

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Incidents – You Pay For What You Get

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Circumstances:
The PC’s are attempting to buy a magic item from some sort of metropolitan area. This encounter might play best shortly after a successful adventure.

Event:
While attempting to buy a magic item, an odd gentlemen steps forward and offers a similar item at a quarter of the price. The miffed shopkeeper asserts that this stranger’s counter offer is ridiculous and won’t lower her price to match it (perhaps suspecting that the PCs are attempting some kind of scam).

The stranger asserts that he’s heard of the PC’s good deeds, and thinks that’s worth a significant discount. Besides, he has no use for the item. But the item this stranger offers is cursed. It is possible the PCs will suspect something is amiss, and may even expose the stranger for what he is – an assassin. If this is the case, the encounter could easily lead to a chase or interrogation scene, played out with a skill challenge and serving as a hint to the greater goings on in your campaign’s plot. Even if the players simply ignore him, it should not be so easy to simply walk away, and a skill challenge to lose the man as he follows their every move would also lead to a tense scene and some critical thinking to escape this mysterious stalker.

The exact nature of the curse placed upon the item is up to you, and may be able to play into your story in a significant way. Below are the intended circumstances of this event –

The stranger is an assassin, sent by enemies of the PC’s to eliminate them when they are caught off guard. The item they receive unleashes an arcane explosion as soon as it is firmly in a PCs hands:

Hold Person CurseClose Burst 3 – Creatures in Burst – Encounter Level +5 vs. Will – On Hit: Target is Stunned (save ends); Miss: Target is Dazed (save ends)

The assassin (an elite or solo humanoid lurker of a level appropriate to the players) then takes advantage of the PC’s incapacitation to strike, perhaps even signaling disguised allies nearby to assist. The players will most likely survive, but the assassin will make an attempt to flee once he is bloodied.

To make this encounter more complicated, before fleeing from (or falling to) the PCs, have the assassin thank the shopkeeper for her assistance and assure the woman that “payment will be arranged as we discussed.” This is, in fact, a lie, and the shopkeeper is completely innocent and unaware of the nefarious plot. However this might cause the PCs to compromise their good reputation by abusing an innocent bystander – a fitting vengeance for the assassin.

Possible Rewards and EXP
Plan for this Incident to become a potential combat encounter, and regardless of its resolution, grant the amount of experience appropriate for the monsters or skill challenge complexity you selected. Additionally, once the magic item’s curse has been expelled (if you are indeed using the item as a one time trap of sorts) it may be perfectly useable to the PCs (a consequence the assassin didn’t anticipate even being an option, considering his success guaranteed). Or perhaps the curse lingers but the PCs now have the chance to use or seek out a ritual to cleanse the otherwise useful item.

 
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Posted by on August 8, 2012 in Incidents, Not Playtested

 

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