Author Topic: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom  (Read 5727 times)

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ksbsnowowl

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Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« on: August 29, 2011, 03:03:07 AM »
Tried posting this in another sub-forum, but it appears to have been in the wrong spot, because I got no bites.

I'm running a table-top viking-themed gestalt game with my group.  It's got some aspects of Rashemen pulled into it, and the setting was designed with gestalt PC's in mind.

I've had a basic idea for a world story-arc climactic battle to occur around 10th or 11th level, but haven't had anything specific planned between now (6th level) and then, and the PC's are nearing the end of the story arc that started at level 3.  On the winter solstice the Hathran will need to perform a ritual at a stone-henge-like location, which is also a planar conjunction point, to prevent demons from spilling forth from Niflheim.  Because there will be a new moon on the solstice this year, the planar seals will be exceptionally weak, and even while performing the ritual some demons will slip through.  Thus, the PC's, along with several other warriors (whose actions will be occurring "off screen" around the PC's) will be battling the demons that emerge, while the Hathran are circled around the stone henge performing the ritual to keep the seal from completely breaking open, and hopefully holding out until the planar conjunction ebbs.

Read more detailed info below the fold if you want, but the basic idea is that fiendish and half-fiend trolls, along with an army of tanarukk, are going to try to disrupt this ritual.  This attack will be the big "attack on Brindol" that the PC's will have to help defend.
[spoiler]
A few millenia ago this ritual was prevented from happening, and demons did flood into Midgard.  Because banishing such creatures is exceptionally hard in this setting (except at times of conjunction) most of the more powerful demons that came through were imprisoned in Stone-henge prisons (Binding: hedged prison) surrounded by maximized, empowered Forbiddance spells to keep anyone from interacting with or trying to free them.

Unfortunately, regenerating trolls don't really care about a measly 93 average non-fire damage (twice, because the Forbiddance spells are layered in rings around the prisons), so they've taken to whoring themselves to the demons, making their tribes more powerful with half-fiend and fiendish trolls, and giving the demons an indirect hand in the world.  Several millenia of this, and trolls interbreeding with kidnapped humans, and you end up with tanarukk (flavored to be troll-blooded rather than orc-blooded) as well as numerous flavors of trolls with demonic blood in their veins.[/spoiler]

A few days ago, while letting my brain drift, thinking of what to fill the interim levels with, I read a thread where someone mentioned Red Hand of Doom.  I played that adventure back in 2006, and loved it.  Then it struck me.  Why wouldn't the demons and Half-fiend trolls be working to bring more demons to Midgard?  What better way to accomplish that than to strike at the ritual location, preventing the Hathran from stemming the tide of demons?  Crush them, and let the demons come.

Granted, a lot of the specifics are different, but the same concept as Red Hand can work here:  An army has been assembled to march toward a location, demolishing all in their path.  The army will reach that location, and attempt to destroy the humans who make a stand.  A giant climactic battle with an on-coming army of tanarukk, fiendish and Half-fiend trolls, winter wolves, and a few rock-throwing mountain trolls on the outside, and a slowly increasing wave of demons from the inside...

Looking at the Red Hand encounters... they were TOUGH.  The first encounter for a 5th level party of four is an EL 8 encounter comprised of:
Six CR 1 Hobgoblin warrior 2's
Two CR 3 Hell Hounds
CR 3 Hobgoblin Cleric 3
CR 4 Hobgoblin Fighter 4, and
a second wave of six CR 1 Hobgoblin warrior 2's, which show up at the end of round 4

Running that through an on-line encounter calculator, I get EL 8.4 for the first wave, and a total of EL 9.2 when including the second wave.
So, the EL is 3.4 to 4.2 levels above the PC's.

My party is a group of four 6th level gestalt characters; there is also a 6th level Druid//Scout NPC.  Being gestalt, I calculate CR as Gestalt CR [GCR] as recommended in the gestalt rules.  I'm thinking of making a similar encounter thusly:
Four GCR 1 Tanarukk
Two GCR 4 Winter Wolves
GCR 4 Tanarukk troll-wife (Regen 1/Fire&Acid) Scout 1/HrzWlkr 1/Warlock 1
GCR 5 Fiendish Troll
a second wave of four GCR 1 tanarukk

Running that through an encounter calculator, I get EL 8.9 for a 6th level party, and a total EL of 9.4 when including the second wave.
Here the EL is 2.9 to 3.4 levels above a four-member party.  If the NPC is present with them, it's only 2.3 to 2.8 levels above.

Edit:  I will actually run this as the first ambush:
Four GCR 1 Tanarukk
Two GCR 4 Winter Wolves
One GCR 4 Troll-blooded Tanarukk troll-wife (Regen 1/Fire&Acid) Scout 1/HrzWlkr 1/Warlock 1
One GCR 3 Tanarukk Archivist 4
One GCR 5 Fiendish Troll
a second wave of four GCR 1 Tanarukk at the end of round 4

The other initial encounter that I though could fit really well into my viking game was the assault on Vraath Keep.  By the time the PC's get here in tRHoD, they're probably still 5th level, on the cusp of 6th.  Because of the 9 or so rooms in the keep, it is broken into four encounters of EL's 5, 5, 6, and 7.  However, the possibility of facing three of the encounters at the same time is pretty high, as a raised alarm will bring everyone except the sorcerer (who is noted as hiding scout reports, and waiting 'til the sounds of battle end).  The inhabitants of the keep are composed of:
CR 7 Bugbear sorcerer 6
CR 5 Manticore
CR 4 Minotaur
Two CR 3 goblin worg riders, each with a CR 2 worg mount
Four CR 3 hobgoblin Warrior 4's

Throwing all of that together gives you an EL 10.8 encounter for a party of four 5th, maybe 6th level characters.  I know it isn't "designed" to happen all at once, but it VERY easily could.  I remember facing quite a bit of all that at the same time when I played it.  Even taking the sorcerer out of the picture makes it only an EL 9.9

Here's what I'm thinking for my game.  The PC's will be on the cusp or at 7th level for this, I imagine.
GCR 8 Half-fiend Ice Troll Warlock 4* [with mortal bane]
GCR 6 Half-fiend Troll [with the Hover feat]
Two GCR 4 Winter Wolves
Six GCR 1 Tanarukk
Either a GCR 4 Fiendish Ice Troll or a GCR 5 Ettin A GCR 5 Tanarukk Frt 2/Barb 2 w/ Leap Attack, Combat Brute, Shocktrooper
Also will add one GCR 3 Troll-Blooded Tanarukk "adult" Scout 1/Horizon Walker 1

That's an EL 10.9 at the highest. (Now roughly EL 11.5 with the Troll-Blooded Tanarukk)

This sort of mirrors the abilities of the RHoD creatures, but alters it somewhat.  The strike-from-above air superiority is coming from the Half-fiend warlock, who is also the leader, rather than a manticore hired monster.  Area effects are coming from the winter wolves rather than a sorcerer.  There are two creatures that fly, though the sorcerer in RHoD was equipped with a potion of fly, so they had two as well.  And I've got a Barbarian//Warlock PC that can fly, too, so that will be interesting.

*[spoiler]An Ice Troll (Unapprochable East) is a CR 4 (GCR 3) 5 HD Large giant with Regen 4 (Fire/Acid) and vulnerability to fire.  Basically a normal troll with 1 less HD, 1 lower Regen, it's smarter, and immune to cold. And likes to wear armor.  The non-associated class levels info from the Monster Manual would have be believe that 4 levels of Warlock would only increase his CR from 4 to 6 (GCR from 3 to 5).[/spoiler]

The other thing to note that will make things tougher in my game is the fact that most of these things have fire resistance 5 or 10, and Spell Resistance (14 to 16).
The trolls need to be hit with acid or fire to kill them, and I'm giving the two Half-fiends Acid and Fire resistance 10.  The Tanarukk don't need to be killed with fire or acid, but they are still resistant to fire (10), and have SR.  Of course, the Winter Wolves will soak extra damage from fire effects (and two of my PC's have the Fiery Burst reserve feat), as will the Ice Troll if they deal more than his fire resistance.

Also, just so you know the party that would be facing all this, here is what I've got:
[spoiler]
Human Barbarian 6//Warlock 6 (working toward Runescarred Berzerker) with the Mortal bane feat (the look on his face when he used it against a tanarukk for the first time...)  He wields a MW greatsword or a +1 longspear, and adds Hideous Blow eldritch blast damage to it.  He's got a Str of 18 or so, and hits quite often.

Half-Elf Barbarian 6//Beguiler 6 - Foes kept making their saves vs his enchantment spells, until just a few sessions ago (just random luck).  He puts his spells to good tactical use, if the opponents don't make their saves (also silences the party when ambushing, etc).  If those fail, he wades into battle, feinting people as a free action.

Human Druid 6//Sorcerer 6 - Wolverine animal companion.  He recently joined the group, so he's feeling out what he can accomplish with the druid aspect.  Has fireball and fiery burst [reserve].

Human Rogue 6//Wizard 6 - Also a new player to my group.  Also has fireball and fiery burst.  Has yet to score a sneak attack.

There is also a Druid 6//Ranger 1/Scout 5 NPC.  It was a former player's character that I slightly reworked and kept around, mostly because the party needs the extra healing.  Skirmishing with a flame blade doesn't hurt either, but he wasn't present this last time when the PC's first encountered some tanarukk.  Wolf animal companion.[/spoiler]

So, thoughts? Advice? Critiques?  Do my proposed encounters seem too difficult?  It's hard to predict how well they will balance, given the different level of the party, and their gestalt natures.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2011, 04:39:37 PM by ksbsnowowl »
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Risada

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2011, 05:43:14 PM »
How are your players? Do they have some tactics, or they follow the motto "Kill, destroy and annihilate"?

If they come up with tactics often, I guess your encounters are fine. I am running a slightly powered up RHoD as well, and I edited almost all goblins in the module, mostly because if I don't, the group will curbstomp the monsters.

Something that might give you more security is looking at the numbers in your party. Can those barbarians deal 100+dmg in a single round? Does the Druid have some buffs for himself? What about some BFC? If you find your monsters are lacking some oomph, stick in there some monster with Bard levels, and pump up that Inspire Courage bonus!

....Man, I wish I could play in your campaign.... it sounds awesome  :smirk

PhaedrusXY

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2011, 05:47:53 PM »
....Man, I wish I could play in your campaign.... it sounds awesome  :smirk
You should convince him to revive this, then. :D
[spoiler]
A couple of water benders, a dike, a flaming arrow, and a few barrels of blasting jelly?

Sounds like the makings of a gay porn film.
...thanks
[/spoiler]

ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2011, 08:59:30 PM »
How are your players? Do they have some tactics, or they follow the motto "Kill, destroy and annihilate"?
My group had a large bit of turn-over recently, and three of the four players have only been with us since May, and due to vacations and switching off game sessions with a campaign run by the other long-term player, they've only been in the game for 4 or fewer sessions.  All that to say, they have shown some tactics (sneaking up to ambush while under a silence spell, after one foe made noise to call others, they cast a major image of a dragon to halt those coming in response), but a lot of slashing and blowing crap up (both the wiz and the sorc have fireball and fiery burst).

Quote
Something that might give you more security is looking at the numbers in your party. Can those barbarians deal 100+dmg in a single round? Does the Druid have some buffs for himself?
The Barb//Beguiler tries to cast first, and only goes full melee if that isn't working.  I don't think he's ever raged yet.  Pretty typical damage with a 16 strength and a +1 greatsword.  The other barbarian has classes that synergize quite well.  He has +3d6 eldritch blast and hideous blow if he can only attack once.  And he has Mortal bane, for an extra +2d6 damage 5 times per day (won't help him vs the tanarukk, but it'll still be useful).  Now that he's got a +1 longspear (used to use a MW greatsword) he's at +11 to hit, and typically deals 1d8+7+3d6 = average of 22 per round (which drops a tanarukk to 0 HP, assuming he overcomes SR); even more damage if he rages or uses mortal bane.  He also can see invisible (and ethereal) creatures, and can fly at will (often giving him a +1 to hit for having higher ground, and putting him out of reach for tanarukk, who don't typically carry ranged weapons).

The druid is a first-time druid-player, so that hasn't been overpowering at all yet.  I'm sure he'll find some nice abilities before too long.

Quote
What about some BFC?
Huh? You lost me.  What's BFC?

Quote
If you find your monsters are lacking some oomph, stick in there some monster with Bard levels, and pump up that Inspire Courage bonus!
Excellent suggestion!  I'm currently playing with another group, which has a Bard (and that Sp Comp spell that swift action boosts her inspire courage by +1).  She's been great to have around.

....Man, I wish I could play in your campaign.... it sounds awesome  :smirk
You should convince him to revive this, then. :D
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RobbyPants

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2011, 09:07:43 PM »
Quote
What about some BFC?
Huh? You lost me.  What's BFC?
Battle Field Control. Stuff like Web, Grease, and Entangle.
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ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2011, 09:46:26 PM »
Quote
What about some BFC?
Huh? You lost me.  What's BFC?
Battle Field Control. Stuff like Web, Grease, and Entangle.
Battle Field Control happened to great effect before I got my new players, and the one original character remembers how effective entangle was.  It's only come up twice since the new players joined (4 sessions):  The beguiler has some spell that makes a bunch of phantasmal warriors that get AoO's (really help out once), and the Druid asked about moss and plants present for entangle as they entered a cave last session (there's not enough).  And the druid is the newest character, so he's only been there for 2 sessions.

I have no doubt that entangle will be put to good use in the future; it just wasn't an option when they tracked a few tanarukk to a cave.

Off Topic[spoiler]
Oddly enough, that Living Greyhawk game that I play with another group got a new player shortly after I joined, who is playing a BFC wizard.  I was quite delighted when I learned of this.  I still think he will bring a lot to the party (he's had some growing pains with finding the best placement of his BFC spells) but the rest of the party just gets annoyed, and want him to just blast things...  :rollseyes
They get annoyed because Web prevents them from getting up in the grill of the trapped creatures, and imposes a miss chance on ranged attack rolls.

Can't wait for his pyrotechnics (blindness) to just own a combat when he casts it off a flaming sphere I lay out there for him (I'm a druid).[/spoiler]

Edit:
Another type of "creature" for the PC's to encounter will be gestalted tanarukk.  Due to the way my [slightly altered] gestalt rules work, the tanarukk's +3 LA is split between the two sides, and I can get a 6th level Archivist tanarukk for a gestalt CR of 7. 
[LA 2/Outsider 5//LA 1/Archivist 6]

I've re-instituted the 3.0 darkness and deeper darkness spells (ie - total blackness) at one level higher than the 3.5 shadowy illumination versions.  Thus, a 6th level archivist or cleric could cast true darkness as a 3rd level spell, which completely blacks out everything.  It'll work well when a few of these archivists are laying true darkness down for troll warlocks with devil's sight...

I won't bring that tactic out for a while yet...
« Last Edit: August 29, 2011, 10:02:17 PM by ksbsnowowl »
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Risada

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2011, 10:26:01 PM »
Hmm... so your players are very capable...

Well... I guess you might optimize a little more...

-Like making someone that will stick close to the Winter Wolves be dragonblooded, and get the Draconic Aura (energy - cold) feat. Bonus to the breath weapon's DC may help making those 4d6 hurt more... or maybe add the Entangling Exhalation feat on the wolves...

-Consider using stuff from Tome of Battle. Stances such as Island of Blades and Thicket of Blades, and stuff like Sudden Leap can help your monsters be threatening and cool at the same time...

-Look for monsters with burrow speed/earth glide if you want to get some sneak attack going, since the party got some "good eyes" with them...


ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2011, 01:18:58 AM »
Hmm... so your players are very capable...

Well... I guess you might optimize a little more...

-Like making someone that will stick close to the Winter Wolves be dragonblooded, and get the Draconic Aura (energy - cold) feat. Bonus to the breath weapon's DC may help making those 4d6 hurt more... or maybe add the Entangling Exhalation feat on the wolves...
Races of the dragon?  Or Dragon magic.  I don't have the second one.

Quote
-Consider using stuff from Tome of Battle. Stances such as Island of Blades and Thicket of Blades, and stuff like Sudden Leap can help your monsters be threatening and cool at the same time...
Excellent suggestions, but it just so happens that ToB is a no-go for this setting (just doesn't fit on a lot of levels).

One nasty thing I am planning to do is advance some of the Winter Wolves later on.  Wolf totem barbarian 2 for free improved trip = approach and bite, then trip for free, then get to bite again.  As their level gets even higher I'll stick a level of scout on there for skirmish.

Quote
-Look for monsters with burrow speed/earth glide if you want to get some sneak attack going, since the party got some "good eyes" with them...
Good thought.  They're a little higher on the CR scale, but I plan to have some Half-troll great horn minotaurs and whatever that variant stone giant is from MM4 that gets earth glide.

Some of the most-difficult things they've faced so far were pairs of Beast of Xvim dire wolves (Monsters of Faerun) which were created/imbued with the template by a barghest (Beast of Xvim creatures advance in HD by eating creatures, much like barghest).  The BoX template also gives them frightful presence.  Several times two or three of 5 party members would run away in a panic.
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Risada

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #8 on: August 30, 2011, 03:19:25 AM »
The bonus to DC is from Dragon Magic, and the Entangling Exhalation is from Races of the Dragon, IIRC... or Draconomicon...

Too bad ToB is out...

Hmmm... I have to check that template out.... it seems awesome  :smirk

PhaedrusXY

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #9 on: August 30, 2011, 03:45:56 AM »
The bonus to DC is from Dragon Magic, and the Entangling Exhalation is from Races of the Dragon, IIRC... or Draconomicon...
IMO Entangling Exhalation is... too nasty to be used against the PCs. :P Especially if they're a bunch of melee brutes. Casters wouldn't care much. Archers would suffer, but not as much as melee.
[spoiler]
A couple of water benders, a dike, a flaming arrow, and a few barrels of blasting jelly?

Sounds like the makings of a gay porn film.
...thanks
[/spoiler]

Risada

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2011, 03:50:42 AM »
The bonus to DC is from Dragon Magic, and the Entangling Exhalation is from Races of the Dragon, IIRC... or Draconomicon...
IMO Entangling Exhalation is... too nasty to be used against the PCs. :P Especially if they're a bunch of melee brutes. Casters wouldn't care much. Archers would suffer, but not as much as melee.

I used it against my players - granted... the druid started summoning stuff, and the cleric buffed them so much that -2 to hit was nothing... even if they could only move 2 squares a round...

ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #11 on: August 30, 2011, 06:40:21 PM »
Keep in mind that the Vraath Keep encounter from RHoD can easily turn deadly for the PC's. (I've seen reports of PC's doing well, and others of them alerting the occupants of the keep and having a TPK).

Upping the difficulty of the base creatures inside it will keep things just as dangerous for the PC's I think, especially with the mobility of having two intelligent flying creatures.  Disregarding the flying warlock for a second, the flying Half-Fiend troll with Hover will make things quite interesting.  The troll can see everything within his reach just fine, but ranged attackers will have a hard time targeting him, and the wolves can sit and breath into the debris cloud even if they have difficulty seeing the PC's.

And the two flying trolls will have a lot of staying power against the PC's.  With SR of 15-16 or more (would the warlock levels add to the racial SR of the Ice troll?) and Fire/Acid resistance 10, the PC's will have a whale of a time trying to actually damage them.  They either have to contend with SR and resistance, or in the case of fiery burst, still deal with the resistance with abilities that do less damage per turn.

I'll look into extangling exhalation though, and might equip the winter wolves with it.  If I do that, I can hold off on using it, and just bring it to the fore if the PC's are doing too well.
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Rejakor

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #12 on: September 02, 2011, 08:00:19 AM »
Multiple lower CR foes scales entirely based on tactics.  I've seen level 10ish groups get swarmed by level 1 and 2 hobgoblins/kobolds/trogs, without significant buffs or tricks (nets, oil, marbles, fire, poison... usual dnd mundane stuff) to the point they've had to pull back, and I once ran a level 5 party against an enemy force (that got alerted) which contained level 7 equivalents, and dozens of level 5s, a lot of which used tactics of their own and had monsters with unusual abilities... the party bottlenecked them, outflanked them when they fell back, and used BFC brilliantly... they walked out of there level 7, and with the BBEG's plot-item that I didn't think they would actually be able to get. (not to mention:  The party leader (ex-paladin/fighter) walked up to the helpless enemy leader (trapped by rockfall, and by a Web spell), sneered at him, tossed off some pithy one-liner about incompetence, and cut his throat... that was the point at which I decided that I was going to do everything I could do to either turn him into the BBEG or redeem him as a paladin)

I regularly run encounters that have a total CR of +5 or +10 of the party's level... huge running fights that have enough stages that I almost assign a CR to each individual fight rather than the whole encounter.  I incorporate terrain, magic, traps, prepared tactics, leadership, morale, all kinds of factors.  Being able to judge what your PCs can handle becomes incredibly important, but really pushing them like that has huge benefits to the game.

ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #13 on: September 30, 2011, 06:03:09 PM »
I've had a lot of time to think about this conversion of the RHoD framework, and I've come up with some very nice things that I'm really liking.  I'll just list them here without a lot of prose.

Due to the distances between this half of the tanarukk army and the "Niflhenge" planar portal, and the mere 61 days' game time the army will have to get there, the army will be making use of the Menhir circles along the coast of "Finland" (ala Master of the Yuirwood).  The Menhirs in the Yuirwood can be activated by elves who are not MotY, but it then functions as a malfunctioning portal (FRCS).  When operated in this way, they only allow formation of a portal between the activated menhir circle and the nearest such circle within the Yuirwood.  As such the tanarukk army will be using kidnapped half-elves to activate said menhirs, and advance in this fashion: Portal 100 miles, march 150 miles, portal 100 miles, march 125 miles, etc.  Using the menhirs to leap northward when the nearest menhir circle is north of one they come upon (they have been given this info by demon "generals" trapped in stone henge prisons).

They also have a backup plan to utilize occasional connections to Nidavellir to move more quickly (the connections aren't necessarily spatially equidistant, and they plan to utilize a "shortcut" through the dwarven world).  But this backup only has one shot - they can cross into Nidavellir at the next full moon, and can cross back over to Midgard at the following full moon, 14 days before the "battle of Brindol" at the Niflhenge.

So, disrupting these things is this adventure's version of the Skull Gorge bridge.  Among the items that the PC's will find at "Vraath Keep" will be a scroll of Mirage Arcana.  If they use it intelligently (along with somehow silencing and hiding the demon inside the menhir/stonehenge circle) they could hide one of the menhir circles for hours on end, thus forcing the tanarukk horde to their fallback plan of crossing over to Nidavellir.  If they successfully find the cave and collapse the entrance, then this half of the tanarukk army will not make it to the Niflhenge by the winter solstice (but the "Sweden" tanarukk army still will).

Another option for preventing the use of the menhir circles is to rescue or kill all the half-elven hostages that will be used to key the menhirs in a malfunctioning manner.  The horde also has the Half-Fiend Ice Troll Warlock 4, who could emulate race and operate the menhirs with a good role (needs a 15 on the d20).  He is the "boss" of Vraath Keep, and if the PC's kill or capture him (and prevent subsequent escape) then the horde will not have that option either.

Also, this set up places the "skull gorge bridge" delay tactics after the "attack on Drellin's Ferry," as the Horde will move through the towns of Nidaross and Eyrrinberg (the "base" town) raiding and pillaging supplies prior to their attempts to either use the menhirs or travel through Nidavellir (and if they do the latter, they will need to bring LOTS of supplies, or enjoy eating fungus).

So, basically there are 3 different ways for the tanarukk army to get to the Niflhenge on time (elf-activated menhirs, warlock-activated menhirs, and Nidavellir), and various actions on the part of the PC's will change how they get to "Brindol," or if they get there at all.  Regardless, if they come via menhirs, they will have to come in waves due to the size of the army.  Given that and the malfunctioning aspect of the menhirs' activation, there is a 15% chance per activation that any given wave of the army is sent to the wrong location.  So they'll be wreaking havoc on the countryside for years to come (heck, a small portion of the army may get to the Niflhenge extremely early...)

In RHoD there is a side quest where the PC's come upon a caravan from Brindol that was taking gold to the Hammerfist Holds to hire 200 elite dwarven warriors.  The PC's discover this wagon as it is being ransacked by some ettins and goblins.  I'll do the same thing, except is will be a longship run aground by Merrow and Scrags, and the found letter states the wealth was being sent to a viking mercenary company in the area of "Latvia."

The Kiri Tor elves are (hopefully) befriended by the PC's in the RHoD, and it brings warrior allies to the battle of Brindol, and it gets the PC's access to some giant owls to quickly ferry the PC's around the Elsir Vale on their different missions (ghost lord, Rhest, etc).  In this there will be two groups the PC's will need to make alliances with - the half-elves that are the Masters of the Yuirwood (who can help significantly with troop movements on both sides of the "Baltic" sea), and the Nentyarch's wild men (Berserkers - from D&Dg's - men that shift into totem animal forms/hybrids).  Both groups are already friendly with the Hathran of Rashemen, so these diplomatic missions could go very easily if the PC's drop the right names.  Also, the former-player-character-NPC that the party has is going to head into Master of the Yuirwood soon, so that will also help the PC's mobility somewhat.

The one issue I'll have that is quite different between Red Hand of Doom and my setting, is that the PC's will not be the most elite people involved in this defense.  There will be Hathran of 12th - 16th level that will have intense interest in this, as they understand the ramifications... once they've been made aware of the tanarukk army.
But, the PC's will be the front line as far as discovering the threat and working to hinder the horde.  And having proved their worth, the Hathran will still want them to be the mobile unit putting out fires at the "battle of Brindol" climactic battle.

The Ghost Lord I will be replacing with the Rotting Man (based upon the character of the same name in Unapproachable East).  He will be a Human Spirit Shaman 15//Favor Soul 7/Tolontar Blightlord 8 (all the Blightlord stuff being recast as a cult of Hel, and the Glaive-specific stuff applying to Hel's favored weapon, the longsword).  He'll be bringing an army of Blightspawned dire wolves, snow tigers, and maybe even a few advanced Blightspawned Beast of Xvim Dire Wolves (frightful presence)...  He is helping the tanarukk horde because they horde kidnapped his wife, and via a wish granted by a bound Glabrezu, had Trap the Soul cast on her.  This gem is being held at a secret location in "Rhest."

The whole 'Rhest' side adventure with the greenspawn razorfiends will be altered such that the breeding program is raising some Beasts of Malar whelps (Beast of Malar is from Monsters of Faerun, it has Regeneration 8/Good, and can shift form between panther, 'clawed beast', and bat).  The location where this will be occurring will be on a frigid island far to the north (almost an exact copy of the Svalbard archipelago/Spitsbergen island - halfway between the northern coast of Norway and the North Pole).  There is an ancient ruin of a fey/faerie city there, that was built around a hot springs.  The city was abandoned when an advancing glacier engulfed the city.  However, the hot springs keep the area around itself melted, so the PC's will run into a similar set up as Rhest, with a drowned and flooded ruin of a city.  The black dragon will be replaced by a Half-fiend Scrag for some fun flying and underwater encounters.

The Red Dragon...  I won't be having a red dragon accompany this fiend-blooded horde of tanarukk trolls, but they will have a superior sky presence.  In addition to a decent handful of Half-fiend trolls, they army will have discovered a Nycaloth (MM3) that was long ago subjected to a Trap the Soul spell.  They crushed the gem and freed him, and he is now assisting them in their plan to allow demons to flood the world.  He will have two levels of Bear totem Barbarian (UA) so he gets Improved Grapple, and he will trade out his Alertness feat and Weapon Focus feat for Multiweapon Fighting and Improved Multiweapon Fighting.  He will then use his 15th HD feat to get Dual Strike from Complete Adventurer.  Normally this feat sucks, but it will allow him a nasty tactic.  He can swoop in invisibly in a fly-by attack, use Dual Strike to hit with two claws as a standard action, then use his Liftoff ability, and due to fly-by attack, immediately pick up a human and start flying away with him.  No need to sit near the ground for a round while PC's beat you.

I'll update some more later, but that's most of the ideas I've had for now.
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Garryl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #14 on: September 30, 2011, 11:36:50 PM »
Due to the distances between this half of the tanarukk army and the "Niflhenge" planar portal, and the mere 61 days' game time the army will have to get there, the army will be making use of the Menhir circles along the coast of "Finland" (ala Master of the Yuirwood).  The Menhirs in the Yuirwood can be activated by elves who are not MotY, but it then functions as a malfunctioning portal (FRCS).  When operated in this way, they only allow formation of a portal between the activated menhir circle and the nearest such circle within the Yuirwood.  As such the tanarukk army will be using kidnapped half-elves to activate said menhirs, and advance in this fashion: Portal 100 miles, march 150 miles, portal 100 miles, march 125 miles, etc.  Using the menhirs to leap northward when the nearest menhir circle is north of one they come upon (they have been given this info by demon "generals" trapped in stone henge prisons).

If the portals really work only with the portal closest to the activating one, then not all portals will lead to the same portal that brought the traveler there. One portal may lead to another one 100 miles north, which in turn leads to a portal 80 miles east of it (since that's closer than the initial one 100 miles away). If the portals are destructible (or at least disruptable; maybe a Dimensional Anchor spell or similar effects?) and the army has an accurate map of the portal locations, they could leave some troops behind to destroy a portal the army left through, leaving the next closest portal as the new destination. Similarly, if the players (or Masters of Yuirwood) know this, they can disrupt the portal the army intend to arrive at, preventing their forward motion by shunting them to more distant, out of the way portals (or even straight backwards). Do the portals work like the Stargates of Stargate SG-1, by any chance? Ie: If you open the portal and keep it open, do other attempts to travel to that open portal fail? Just have to ask.
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ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #15 on: October 01, 2011, 01:37:07 AM »

If the portals really work only with the portal closest to the activating one, then not all portals will lead to the same portal that brought the traveler there. One portal may lead to another one 100 miles north, which in turn leads to a portal 80 miles east of it (since that's closer than the initial one 100 miles away).
True.  I realize that it won't necessarily be leap, march, leap march, but could rather be leap, march, leap, leap, march, etc.  I haven't yet decided how common these menhir circles are.  They will be more prevalent in the Yuirwood than outside of it (and the elf-activation of it only occurs in the Yuirwood, which extends along the "Finland" coast, and further south).  Within the Yuirwood there may be menhir circles standing alone, but outside of it, they are generally located surrounding stone henge demon-prisons.

Quote
If the portals are destructible (or at least disruptable; maybe a Dimensional Anchor spell or similar effects?) and the army has an accurate map of the portal locations, they could leave some troops behind to destroy a portal the army left through, leaving the next closest portal as the new destination. Similarly, if the players (or Masters of Yuirwood) know this, they can disrupt the portal the army intend to arrive at, preventing their forward motion by shunting them to more distant, out of the way portals (or even straight backwards). Do the portals work like the Stargates of Stargate SG-1, by any chance? Ie: If you open the portal and keep it open, do other attempts to travel to that open portal fail? Just have to ask.
Interesting concept, but no, they don't work like stargates.  Activating a portal via the stones causes them to open for one full round, and anyone touching one of the stones in the circle during that round is transported.  A Master of the Yuirwood can choose which set of Menhirs to portal to (they operate them as a working keyed portal); an elf activating the stones has a 35% chance to cause spell slots or magic item charges to be drained, or to be flung backward forcefully.  There's a 15% chance it works, but goes to the wrong place (like trying to teleport to a false destination), and a 50% chance to work properly (but only to the closest set of menhirs.)

Dimensional anchor would just prevent incoming or outgoing for the duration, and the portals can be attempted to be used once per round, if someone wanted.  There's also the fact that the menhirs can lead directly to Alfheim (somewhat a mirror of Midgard, with identical menhir circles in Midgard and Alfheim.)

And destroying the menhirs would be... difficult.  Granted, they have spellcasters, but they'd be trying to destroy stone henge, essentially.  And doing so would be devastating to the work of the half-elf MotY (not saying that would be a reason not to do it in a great time of need, just saying).

I need to look back at my notes - I may have initially intended the menhirs to be all across the globe, not within a large regional forest....  One of the problems of adapting things to your own setting...

Edit: so I did a little calculating as to how many of these stone henge demon prisons there are, and close together they are.  I just started at a random number of 666 of these stone henges around the globe.  There are roughly 57.47 million square miles of land on earth, and just for calculations' sake, assuming my world has the same sq mileage, that averages 86,291 sq miles per stone henge.  The square root of that gives me an average 293.75 miles between any two.

Figuring that this area of the world is extremely close to the location where the demons entered the world several millenia ago (the same location where things will climax this time), the density of the henges this close would be about double, or 147 miles between henges.  As an alternate calculation, dividing 86,291 sq miles in two, and getting the sq root of that gives 208 miles between henges in this part of the world.  Of course they are not all equidistant, and are somewhat random in their placement, but that gives me a good range.  Also, there will be menhir circles without demon prisons around the globe, as they are the connection point between Alfheim and Midgard.

The tanarukk army will have been given direction from demons as to which menhirs to utilize to best quicken their journey, as it is the demons who are the driving force behind the army.
« Last Edit: October 01, 2011, 03:58:39 AM by ksbsnowowl »
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ksbsnowowl

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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom
« Reply #16 on: October 09, 2011, 08:47:43 PM »
The Blackspawn raiders of RHoD are replaced with Half-Troll Draegloth for this viking setting.  Difficult and somewhat sneaky, wielding a battleaxe and still getting two claw attacks, rend, and a bite attack.

I plan on building a Tanarukk Assassin to replace the Blackspawn Ninja playing the same roll in RHoD.  Due to a 5 HD Tanarukk being a CR 2/Gestalt CR 1 creature, I can make a GCR 11 Tanarukk Outsider 5/Assassin 10.  It should work nicely.  What spells would you choose for him?  He gets 4 spells known of each level 1 - 4.

1 - Disguise Self, True Strike, ?, ?
2 - Invisibility, ?, ?, ?
3 - Misdirection, ?, ?, ?
4 - Dimension Door, Greater Invisibility, Freedom of Movement?, ?

There are quite a few good Assassin spells in other sources, but I haven't had a chance to look through them yet.

I also need to give thought to the spells known/typical spells recalled for the Rotting Man (Spirit Shaman 15//Favored Soul 7/Talontar Blightlord 8)
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