Author Topic: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom to a Viking game  (Read 1481 times)

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  • Grape ape
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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.

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.

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.

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 7-8 Half-fiend Ice Troll Warlock 3* [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

That's an EL 10.9 at the highest.

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:
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?
« Last Edit: August 27, 2011, 03:49:01 AM by ksbsnowowl »
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  • Grape ape
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Re: Adapting the basic campaign model of Red Hand of Doom to a Viking game
« Reply #1 on: September 30, 2011, 02:02:01 PM »
« Last Edit: September 30, 2011, 02:04:11 PM by ksbsnowowl »
The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.

KSB Snow Owl's Archer Build thread