Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, October 30, 2012
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 3 - Session 4

The Barony of Harkenwold is in rebellion: The rebels want the evil Iron Circle mercenaries who invaded the barony out, and their old baron back. In the last session the players helped the rebels win a major victory in battle against the Iron Circle. The remaining mercenaries, with their leader, have holed up in the Iron Keep, where they hold the old Baron Stockmer prisoner. To complete this adventure the group must enter the castle, free the baron, and drive out the remaining Iron Circle mercenaries.

The session began with me covering the whole table with a huge poster map of the Iron Keep. The adventure only provides the outer bailey map, while the larger part of the castle with the castle keep only is shown in small images in the booklet. So I took an image of the missing half of the keep and had it printed at 5'=1" scale on a 100 x 90 cm poster. I also made Campaign Cartographer maps of the three castle keep floors. With the Iron Circle having just recently taken over control of the castle, I assumed that it would be easy enough for the players to get information about the layout of the castle from the population, so I could show them the basic map right away.

The art of dungeon mastering is about knowing when to steer the players, and when to leave control to them. Knowing that inside the castle the game would go into a relatively structured mode with lots of combat, I didn't push the players at all in this session, and gave them all the time they wanted to plan how to take the castle. The core of their plan had already been decided upon in the last session, where they had released a mercenary captured in battle, and given him 50 gold with promises for more if he would open the castle gate for them in three days time, when he would be on night watch.

After some discussion on whether it would be better to visit the village of Harken around the castle, or just sneak up to the castle at the last possible moment, the players decided to explore Harken. That netted them some information, as they found an old dwarf who had been the architect 30 years ago when the castle was renovated. Thus they learned about all the secret doors and ways of access. From the temple of Selune in Harken they also learned that the chapel of the castle, which was originally dedicated to Selune, had now been converted to a temple of Shar. The priestess of Selune suspected that there were evil things going on in that chapel, as the Iron Circle had arrived with just human troops, and later more and more devils had turned up. Overall the players did about 3 hours of roleplaying before deciding it was time for a fight and moving on to execute their plan to invade the castle.

At the planned moment the group donned Iron Circle coats and sneaked up to the castle. Their plan worked, and the traitor they had paid opened the gate for them. For some additional payment he even revealed the enemy leader's battle plans, which were to summon lots of devils in the chapel to take the barony back. Then the traitor left into the night, and the group was alone in the outer bailey. There was light in the barracks, and sentries on the walls, but looking outwards. I use group skill checks for sneaking in group: If half of the players beat the difficulty class of the sneak roll, and nobody rolls a 1, the group can move silently. Thus they made it past an open portcullis to the inner bailey.

Here the players decided to first stop the summoning in the chapel, from where they could hear chanting. They stormed in to confront two tar devils, closing the door behind them to not cause a general alert. The tar devils had nets with ropes, pulling the players using ranged weapons next to them. Thus when a spined devil and Keltis, the dark adept of Shar joined the fight, there was ample opportunity to hit the group with area effect spells. Thus the fight was relatively difficult, and the players had to use a lot of daily powers. But in the end the players prevailed and took control of the chapel. We left the rest of the castle for the next session.

Bravo !

I just love reading your campaign blog.

btw Tobold have you been watching the First Paladin D&D videos? They are entertaining.

While on the subject, other than Wizards Chris Jerkins videos, what other D&D games do you find worth listening or watching?
Dungeons & Drogans (not a spelling mistake)

Live audio, later with video from the online tabletop, of a group playing standard 4th edition D&D adventures.

The first series is rather chaotic, as they don't have enough player, the DM is playing the module as written, and as a result the group wipes repeatedly. The second series is a lot better and then introduces video of the battles.
"about three hours of roleplaying".

What actually happens during these non combat sessions? Are the players speaking in character and acting things out or is it more procedural dice rolling stuff?
Usually no dice rolling in the roleplaying part. Mostly there are two main things that happen: Players discussing plans amongst each other, and players interacting with NPCs to get information. The latter is more or less speaking in character, depending on the player.
I really enjoy reading your campaign sessions Tobold! Keep em coming. :D
Me too. And I do hope the castle keep explodes in the end by one of the players accidentally triggering something :)
Well written! I've just read through the campaign to date.

Thank you very much for posting all these writeups of your gaming sessions, they sound like a lot of fun and are inspiring me to write a scenario for our group.

It's interesting to hear how you handle the divisions between your party's line and the supposed line the module assumes. One of the largest challenges as a DM is to maintain the flow while handling anything the players throw at you.

Thanks once again and I'll keep following!
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