Tobold's Blog
Tuesday, January 08, 2013
The Favorites of Selune campaign - Level 4 - Session 1

In the last session our D&D group managed to finish the Reavers of Harkenwold adventure and gained level 4. So the new year now starts with a new adventure, which is in fact the second half of the adventure they started at level 1. The first half ended with the escape of the main villain, an ancient vrock demon named Jaazzpaa. Now their contact in Winterhaven, court mage Valthrun, sends them a message that he has found a trace of where Jaazzpaa has gone, asking them to go demon-hunting.

That message reaches the group at their home base, the temple of Selune in Fallcrest, and so they decide to travel to Winterhaven the next day. But the warrior has another interest in Winterhaven: In the previous adventure he found a scroll describing an artifact, a battle axe last seen in the possession of "Sir Keegan of Winterhaven". Thus before leaving he checks with the temple's librarian whether anything is known about that Sir Keegan. That search reveals a tragic story: Sir Keegan was the commander of the Keep on Shadowfell 80 years ago, when he went mad and killed his family and many of the garrison before being sealed into the dungeon below the keep by the remaining soldiers. He is said to have been driven mad by the sealed rift to the Shadowfell plane that was guarded by the keep.

Arriving at Winterhaven the players get more news about the Keep on Shadowfell. It lies in ruin after an earthquake, and was occupied for the last couple of years by a group of bandits, the Grim Daggers. Recently one of these Grim Dagger bandits was seen on the road in disarray, madly talking about demons and undead. It was that event which in combination with his knowledge about the rift led Valthrun to send a message to the players: He believes that Jaazzpaa wants to use the deactivated Chalice of Planar Travel he stole from Winterhaven to unseal the rift and use it for planar travel back home. As Jaazzpaa previously used the Chalice to travel back and forth to the abyss, snacking on hapless villagers, him getting the Chalice active again would not be good news. So the group decides to search the ruins of the Keep on Shadowfell for the demon and prevent him from re-opening the sealed rift there.

Being the heroes of Winterhaven the group receives free food and lodging at the local inn, where they stay for the night to travel to the Keep on Shadowfell at dawn. The keep is easy enough to find, with the ruined tower sticking up from the top of a hill just 3 miles north of Winterhaven. Approaching the keep the players pass the keep's cemetary, when they hear cries for help. At the same time the magical mace of the priest detects undead in the vicinity. The cries for help come from somebody in the mausoleum, at the back of which the group is, who is obviously trying to dig a hole through the wall, but hasn't gotten very far with it yet. The person in the mausoleum says that the front of that mausoleum is beleaguered by undead, and want the party to save him.

So the group goes over the fence towards the front of the mausoleum, where a combat with 6 zombies and 2 ghouls ensues. A monster knowledge check reveals that the ghouls can immobilize with their attack, and then follow up on that with a powerful bite. Nevertheless the cleric of the group heroically goes forward, planning to blast the undead with his rather short-range Turn Undead power. But Selune isn't with him that day, he just lands one attack before being clawed by a ghoul, then bitten, and systematically failing about every dice roll he makes. Fortunately the second healer of the group, the warlord, manages to keep the cleric alive, and the other players are luckier with the dice. A couple of crits and other good attacks later, the undead are vanquished. Overall quite an interesting fight, because the zombies were slow and easy to hit, while the ghouls were much harder to hit but also a bigger threat, leading to difficult tactical decisions on who to attack first.

After the fight the group proceeds to liberate the person in the mausoleum, who turned out to be a teenage boy named Benji who was part of the Grim Dagger bandits. Benji tells the players that about a week ago a big bird-shaped demon arrived at the keep, and made all the dead from the cemetery rise from their graves. With this army of undead he then killed most of the bandits, then dragging their fresh corpses down into the dungeon below the keep. Benji escaped that initial attack, grabbing a bag of supplies and locking himself into the mausoleum, where some of the undead laid siege to him, constantly clawing at the door. Benji is willing to show the group the hidden treasure of the Grim Dagger bandits in the ruined keep, as well as the stairs to the dungeon.

In the mausoleum the group also finds an undisturbed sarcophagus belonging to a mage. At that point the arguing starts, with some of the players suddenly becoming very paranoid: Is the sarcophagus a trap? Is Benji in reality the demon, polymorphed into human form? Most of the players then refuse to look into the sarcophagus, except of course the wizard, who is hoping to find something good in there. So the wizard ends up opening the sarcophagus with the help of Benji, and finds the skeleton of a mage in shimmering robes in there. Suddenly the wizard is gripped by the same paranoia, and thinks the robe might be cursed, so he takes it but doesn't put it on to find out what it does. There we ended the evening, with the group planning to have Benji lead them to the bandit's cache in the ruins in the next session.

Those of my readers who know the original Keep on Shadowfell adventure will have noticed that I just took bits and pieces of that to make a very different adventure. The original was the first published official 4E adventure, and is frankly somewhat lacking in several aspects, with a rather weak main villain. So I replaced him by the demon from the previous adventure, and rewrote the keep.

Thats an interesting turn on Keep on the Shadowfell. I did KoS almost as written in the first few games i did with my group but rapidly changed some stuff to make it more personal to their characters. And my players thanked me for it.

Its nice to read someone else take on the same module!
Hehe cool stuff! Question though, if the kid is a polymorphed demon (or whatever) wouldn't a detect evil work on him? Guess the cleric was too shaken up from the combat to think about it.

Then again, since he's a bandit would detect evil fire off anyway? Hmmm. :P
@Joseph Skyrim : In 4th ed. there is no "Detect Evil" like in the previous editions. And its better that way!
Ahh thanks for that Jean-Francois - been years since I've played D&D. I agree about it being better without that ability too! :)
I love reading your session reports. As a GM, I love mash-ups where I take a bit of inspiration, some maps, and bits and pieces from various modules and toss them on the table.

Very fun.
Thanks for sharing, personally, as a newbie, your post is particular useful.
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