Farewell to Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

A little over a week ago, we had our last session of our Storm Point campaign, wrapping up the Tomb of Horrors run. After eight-and-a-half years of running and playing D&D in this group, we’re giving it a rest for a while. So that meant that we needed to make the final session memorable.

I had ended the previous session with the group arriving at the astral engine to see the godflesh golem that Acererak had built to house him rising from its plinth. We picked up right there at the start of this session, with everyone rolling initiative, and battle being joined.

I knew from that initiative roll that things were going to go badly for poor Acererak. He rolled lower than Thrun, and Thrun is tooled up to be the ultimate one-foe tank. Once Thrun got next to Acererak, the big golem was kept prone and dazed for pretty much the rest of the fight.

That didn’t make it a push-over, though. Acererak managed to get up once or twice, and was plenty dangerous even with only one action per turn. He almost sucked the cleric’s soul out, and managed to keep a couple of other characters scrambling. However, once the group realized that it was his phylactery hanging in the middle of the astral engine, the two more mystical characters concentrated on shutting down the machine and destroying the phylactery1, which put Acererak on the ropes.

After the phylactery was destroyed, the rest of the fight was a foregone conclusion. Milo managed to strike the deathblow, using the Ruinblade that they picked up in the abandoned tomb, and to which Milo had sworn he would destroy Acererak.

Once the final blow was struck, I went into narrative mode, with the room crumbling around them, and the group’s hippogriffs2 flying out of the void to pick them up. I gave everyone the option of letting the hippogriff carry them off to safety or standing to meet the Raven Queen when she showed up. Milo, who has always said he worshipped the Raven Queen, stayed, but so too did Galvanys, our eladrin ranger, and Faran, our cleric of Pelor. Thus, those three were taken back to the Raven Queen’s lands in the Shadowfell to serve her for eternity.

I then blatantly stole an end of campaign trick from my friend Michael, and gave each player three poker chips to use in a Fiasco-esque closing exercise for the campaign. We went around in a circle, and the group got to tell how their characters ended.

Thus, we bid goodbye to:

  • Thrun the Anvil, whose steadfast devotion and endurance through many battles and campaigns had Moradin claim him for his own anvil.
  • Soren, who rallied the various disparate settlements around Storm Point and Belys and destroyed the Empire Reborn.
  • Milo, who betrayed the Raven Queen to free his friend Galvanys from her servitude and was doomed to wander the earth, forever undying.
  • Galvanys, who was freed to return to the Feywild and found his own kingdom there thanks to Milo’s sacrifice.
  • Faran, whose dedication to Pelor’s radiance allowed him, after years of service to the Raven Queen, rise from the darkness and return to his god’s side.

Thanks to my players for sticking around for this campaign. And for being willing to try something new with our next campaign, a Fate Core Star Wars game.

I hope the rest of you stick around, too. It promises to be a fun ride.

  1. The fact that they came up with this on their own surprised me, considering how many times they have ignored similar situations in the past and just stuck with their default plan, i.e., “Get ’em!” []
  2. Now with black feathers and raven heads. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

So. One more session to go in the Storm Point campaign.

We actually got a fair bit accomplished this session, partly because of some tricks I stole from Dungeon World. We opened up with the characters in Pluton, just having defeated the bloodshard golems. I’ve pared down the adventure so that we can wrap it up in one more session, so I cut out a bunch of the horribly tough, slogging encounters, and let the characters see the final tomb in the distance, with nothing but a mile of rocky plain and a huge wall of black ice in the way.

At the wall of ice, things started to bog down a bit as they were looking for a way over, under, or around it. After about five minutes of them trying to come up with a way of defeating the wall without engaging the wall, I interrupted and said, “You know, you guys are epic level, now.” They blinked at me for a few seconds, then Thrun drew a pair of daggers and started using them to climb the 150-foot tall wall of necromantic ice, and the rest of the party followed suit.

The climb was a fairly low DC for this tier1, but I decided that, if the character didn’t beat it by enough, they would lose a healing surge to the life-sucking cold of it because they stayed in contact with it for too long. And then the same thing climbing down. I managed to suck a couple of surges from two of the party, which was, frankly, better than I had hoped to do.

After the wall, they reached the tomb itself. I described it as a giant skull floating in the middle of a hole in the ground, which dropped away to the astral sea below. They had to cross a 50-foot-wide moat to get in. I was about to describe the crashing boulders flying around in the moat that they would have to use as stepping stones to the entrance, but Faran pulled out the shadow bridge ritual. Because this was pretty much a direct reaction to me telling the players to be epic, I omitted the boulders and had this work, because it was a good chance to reward the cleric who has been collecting and hoarding rituals, and almost never getting to use them.

Inside the tomb, I started describing the maze of extra-dimensional portals and rooms, but they jumped right in with hauling out their mattock of the titans and smashing their way through the walls. This, however, didn’t work for them, as most of the rooms didn’t exist contiguously, or even in the same plane. I explained that to them, and started a special two-part skill challenge.

In the first part, they had to describe the way they were trying to find their way through the tomb to the necromantic engine at its heart. They managed that quite handily. The second part didn’t require any roll; I just asked each player to describe a weird and deadly challenge in the exploration of this tomb that they beat by being awesome. That got me four exciting, character-created scenes for the adventure.

Which led them to the big combat for this session. It involved an aspect of Vecna, an assassin devil, several undead servitors, and a bone collector. I ran it as a rather chaotic, three-way battle: the bone collector was guarding the secret entry into the heart of the tomb, while the aspect of Vecna and his minions2 were trying to win their way into the heart of the tomb to stop Acererak from usurping the godhood of death.

Enter the PCs, and all hell breaks loose.

They woke the bone collector so, rather than facing it after they clean up the Vecna cultists, they got to fight both at once. The bone collector, for its part, was flailing at everyone. And the aspect and devil didn’t worry too much about catching each other in their area attacks.

It was a pretty rough fight, mainly because so many of the creatures drained healing surges, but our heroes triumphed in the end. And in the now-empty pool that the bone collector had used as a hiding spot, they found the teleport circle to the necromantic engine.

When they used it, I read them the description of the giant god-flesh golem that Acererak is now using as a body, and we closed the session for the night.

Next time, the climactic battle, and the end3 of the Storm Point campaign!

  1. I set it at DC 20. []
  2. Which included the assassin devil. []
  3. One way or another. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

The latest session of our Tomb of Horrors adventure, and the Storm Point campaign, was a little scattered. Not only were the players getting familiar with their newly leveled-up characters and all their new options, but it was the start of the Christmas season, so everyone1 was very much in the socializing mode. Still, the end of the campaign is in sight, and the players are starting to get jazzed about the new Edge of the Empire campaign, so I played the heavy a bit to get things focused and moving.

Because we spent so much time at the beginning of the game socializing, I glossed over the way they had discovered the next phase of dismantling Acererak’s plans. Originally, I had thought to run a pseudo skill challenge, much as I had done when we started the Abandoned Tomb adventure: asking the characters what they had done to winkle out the information, and giving them a roll based on that2, but with time being what it was, I figures we should get right to the encounter.

The fight was nasty – three bloodshard golems, amidst a number of nasty blade traps. Thrun the Anvil, however, pulled off one of the most perfect examples of the Defender role that I have ever seen: he focused on one of the golems and spent every turn knocking it down and dazing it, keeping it completely out of the fight until the party finished off the other two golems and came to put the poor, shamed, tanked golem out of its misery.

I threw one other thing into the fight, because it seemed cool at the time, and the players loved it when it first happened. When the first golem got shoved into one of the blade traps3, I let the impact smash that pile of animated blades, removing it from play. There followed some wonderful convolutions as our heroes worked out the best way to sweep away the blade traps using forced movement on the golems.

It was a moderately fun fight, but high-level fights in 4E do tend to run long because of the huge amounts of hit points the monsters have. We finally wrapped up the fight and ended the evening on a pretty high note.

We’ve got just two sessions left in the campaign. Then, the Storm Point crew will trade in their hippogriffs for starships.

Guess I better learn the system.

  1. Myself included. []
  2. I freely admit that there are some issues with this approach in that it can cast the spotlight a little more on the characters with the most relevant skills, but it also rewards creative skill use. And it can generate some interesting backstory elements. []
  3. Which, according to the adventure, would not activate as long as a golem was adjacent to it. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

We finished off the1 last session of the Abandoned Tomb section of Tomb of Horrors last time we got together. I had decided to cut out all the hunts for keys, and let them find the way into the Tomb of Betrayal and face Moghadam right after the fight with the callers in darkness, so I decided whichever way they left the chapel, they would find their way down to his lair2.

I kept one simple, but evocative and atmospheric3 trap from the Tomb of Betrayal section, and it worked wonderfully. Our heroes found a large room with a raised dais in the centre, topped by a skull with gems in the eyesockets and teeth. They crept in very cautiously, spotted the seam on the floor around the edge of the room, and figured that the floor was going to drop out and the skull was going to animate.

To try and prevent the skull from animating, the cleric lobbed a vial of holy water at it. It hit the skull dead on, shattered, and sent the skull rolling. Of course, the trigger for the trap was anyone messing with the skull or dais. The floor dropped down 90 feet, shattering into jagged, sharp fragments. The couple of characters near the entry tried to leap back to the hallway, but failed, so everyone got nicely battered.

The initial reaction at the bottom was to heal up as they could. I kept them in combat rounds, which caused the following exchange4:

Player 1: Uh-oh. Something else is going to happen.

Player 2: I bet the floor falls away, again.

DM: Nope. I promise I wouldn’t do that to you.

Player 1: The ceiling, then. The ceiling’s going to come down.

Players look expectantly at the DM, who grins.

Players: Fucking Tomb of Horrors.

So, yeah. The ceiling fell on them a few seconds later. Again, those near the entry had a chance to jump free; again, none of them made it. Cue more healing.

On they went, and found Moghadam and his Ruinblade. The first round of the fight, with Moghadam having the initiative, made it look as if things were going to go badly for our heroes5, and I was starting to worry about a TPK. But, once they got a turn to act, the Storm Point boys completely schooled the archwraith6. They kept stunning and dazing the thing, denying it an opportunity to act, while they took it apart.

Once it was destroyed, the swordmage claimed the Ruinblade, and pledged to use it to destroy Acererak, causing the artifact to bond with him and preventing Moghadam from reforming. They smashed the bricked-up archways open and found the library and treasure, and that’s where we called a halt.

I’ve pared down the final adventure to 2-3 sessions, depending on how things go, and then that will put a wrap on the Storm Point campaign. I’ve got a couple of special things planned for the final session, so we’ll see how that goes.

And after that, it looks like the gang wants to start a Star Wars: Edge of the Empire campaign7. I’m good with that.

  1. Truncated and slightly retooled, in order to push on through the module quickly. []
  2. Yes, this robs them a little of character agency. But it also pushed the game toward the parts of play that the characters enjoy. As Ken Hite has said, players don’t mind riding the plot railroad too much as long as they get to toot the whistle. []
  3. Specific atmosphere being, “You’re in the Tomb of Horrors! Screw you, adventurers! []
  4. Paraphrased. []
  5. Brought the ranger down to 9 hp, in fact. []
  6. This despite the fact that I had misremembered how some stuff worked, and gave the archwraith an immunity to physically forced movement. Ooops. []
  7. Specifically, they want to start a campaign where they play the members of a cantina band. My plan was to run the Beyond the Rim adventure, but we’ll see if we can blend the two ideas. Because playing a cantina band traveling around and getting into trouble has some real appeal. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

It’s been over three months between sessions. Scheduling has been problematic, based partially on all the usual summer stuff plus some weddings and travel. In addition, I think fading enthusiasm for the game is a contributor1 – with people getting somewhat tired of the game, they are less likely to make it a priority in their schedules.

Now, we still want to get together and game, but we’re all getting a little2 tired of D&D after more than eight years. That said, we also don’t want to just leave the story hanging. So, once again, I’ve taken it upon myself to pare down the remaining adventure of Tomb of Horrors so that we can wrap up the game in about four more sessions – right around the start of the new year. We talked about what we wanted to play next3 and, while there was some murmuring over Night’s Black Agents, in the end, Star Wars: Edge of the Empire won out.

Anyway, much of the evening was taken up in discussion about the next game, about what happened in the last session, about all the other stuff that’s been going on in our lives in the last three months, and a looooong combat.

We jumped right in with initiative, fighting the callers in darkness that came boiling out of the temple walls. They were annoying, but didn’t really threaten the gang all that much, thanks to having two high-level leaders in the party dishing out healing and saving throws. It took a while to wear the monsters down, but they eventually did, and were happy about that.

Now, in the intervening time, I’m taking a machete to the end of this adventure and the entirety of the next one. I want to hit the high points, giving the gang a worthy payoff to a campaign we’ve all had fun with.

Or, y’know, a TPK. Whichever.

  1. We’ve been talking about it pretty much every session we get together – including this one. []
  2. Or, in some cases, a lot. []
  3. The assumption is that I will run the game, which is fine. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

We picked up the Storm Point game in the middle of the combat where we had left it last session. It looked for a minute like we were going to have a full house, but at the last minute, Mark decided that the birth of his daughter took precedence1. So, we lost the cleric’s player, but gained the ranger’s player, as Paul was able to make it this time.

I let Galvanys roll initiative, plugged him in to the order, but did not let him put his mini on the board just yet. When his turn came up in the initiative order, I let him pick a square to appear in, using his Fey Step ability to get him into the battle. I then let him make a Wisdom check against a DC of 25, telling him that by every 5 points he missed the roll, he’d deviate one square from the point he’d picked. But he nailed the roll, so he appeared right where he wanted.

The momentum of the battle had started to shift in the last session, but the addition of another character caused the swing a little more dramatically, and they wrapped up the combat fairly quickly, though I think a few of our heroes were badly injured, and down on healing surges by the time we finished.

After they patched themselves up, they headed into the abandoned tomb. What followed was a wonderful, frustrating, old-school treat, as the party ran made their cautious way through the tomb, trying to find the information they need to track down Acererak’s last infernal machine, and end him once and for all. At one point or another, pretty much every member of the groups said something along the lines of, “Fucking Tomb of Horrors.”

The bit I enjoyed most was the maze of tiny rooms with doors and secret doors – very old school, designed to confuse the mappers in the party, and frustrate the players. The cautious way they had to proceed through the little maze, made gun-shy by the traps they’d run into in previous adventures in the Tomb of Horrors adventures, was delightful.

They finally made it to the twisting tunnel that led to the chapel, and spent enough time cautiously exploring it that the caller in darkness arrived. It was getting late by that time, so we wrapped up. We got to open next session with a combat again, which is fine.

I’m looking forward to it.

  1. Congratulations, Mark! []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign – indeed, for the rest of the campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

This past session of the Storm Point game, we started on the penultimate adventure in the Tomb of Horrors series. The plan is to use this series to wrap up the Storm Point campaign – the series finishes with the characters in the early Epic tier, and at that point the whole group thinks they’ll have had enough1 of D&D for a while. We’ll take a look at other games at that point, and decide what we want to do next2.

In the downtime between sessions, I had the players level their characters up to 18th level, the recommended level for this adventure. This is my way of speeding us along to the conclusion of the adventure and the campaign; by just levelling up to the appropriate level at the start of the new adventure, we get to focus more on the adventure, and have a fighting chance of wrapping things up in the next year or so. I think I was a little too generous with the way I let them pick new magic items, but what the hell.

We started the session with a recap, focusing on the big picture of the previous adventures: someone was using strange necromantic devices to steal the energy of death that rightly belonged to the Raven Queen. This energy was being collected and used to power Acererak’s bid for godhood, and our heroes had messed up two of his devices, so he was going to start gunning for them soon enough. The only chance the party had was to take the fight to him, and put him down before he put them down.

To that end, I started things with skill challenge, letting them try and figure out how to get at Acererak. It was also a way for the players to flesh out what the characters had done during the downtime – each character got to tell a little story about how they had tracked down information. I decided that, when they got to Skull City and the abandoned tomb, they would have to face one encounter before getting to the tomb, plus one more encounter for each failure on the skill challenge, as the various gangs in the city got word from their contacts that the group was coming.

There were no failures in the initial skill challenge, nor in the follow-up to actually get through the city safely, so they only ran into the Brothers of the Black Academy right at the entry to the abandoned tomb. Our heroes, in their own inimitable fashion3 decided not to talk to the folks whose home they were invading, but instead threatened them and tried to scare them off. The Black Academy mages and their wrath spirits were having none of that4 and attacked.

We didn’t make it all through the combat before we had to quit for the evening. Part of that is the fact that it’s a pretty tough fight, and part of it is that the players aren’t completely familiar with their new powers yet, and part of it is that higher level fights tend to be a bit more of a grind. But I was able to dish out a gratifying amount of damage, almost dropping a couple of the characters, and only having one of the monsters drop.

But we were getting tired, so I took a picture of the positions of everyone, and we retired until the next session.

  1. About three or four years’ worth of 4E, and about five years of 3E before that. []
  2. Some of the ideas on the table include Ashen Stars, Night’s Black Agents, Dungeon World, 13th Age, Marvel Heroic Roleplaying, and some sort of Fate game. []
  3. That is, as bullying dicks. []
  4. After all, they dealt with bullying dicks all the time. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

Last session of the Storm Point campaign, we wrapped up the second installment of the Tomb of Horrors adventures, called The Tomb of Shadows. We had almost a full house – missing just one player – and the group decided that one of the other players would play his character, just to make sure that Thrun the Anvil, defender supreme, would be there helping them out against what they assumed would be their toughest fight yet.

We picked up right after the fight that ended the last session, and they immediately took an extended rest. As mentioned in previous posts, resting in Moil1 is not as effective, thanks to the numbing necromantic cold. Characters do not regain all their healing surges – one less for each extended rest they’ve taken here, plus they get to make an Endurance check against a rising DC or lose another surge.

So, the gang had had about enough of that sort of thing2, and wanted to wrap things up and get out while they could. They continued into a maze of rough passages, many dead-ending in little alcoves filled with sarcophagi. A little investigation revealed that the alcoves were all trapped, and fiddling with the sarcophagi would drop the whole mess down into a pit.

Eventually, they found a place where the trap had been tripped, and saw a passage off the bottom of the pit. They climbed down and found a chamber where a squad of shadar-kai had triggered some sort of necromantic trap and been slain. They were suspicious of this, having not had the best of experiences with the shadar-kai in the past, but Milo was able to identify these ones as faithful servants of the Raven Queen3, and they figured out that these must have been sent to figure out who was screwing around with the flow of death energies that should be flowing to the Raven Queen.

Of course they looted the bodies. What did you expect from adventurers? But the cleric also said some blessings over the bodies.

The next challenge was finding the way out of the maze of trapped passages. They finally found it by tripping a trap and dropping down one of the pits, then noticing the trap door in the ceiling above when Soren climbed back up.  This led them to another “Screw you, adventurer!” room, with four of the demon faces that had done them so much damage the previous session. These ones were not trapped, and had real trap doors in the mouths, so once the gang got over their4 paranoia, they dropped down into the passage that led to the final encounter.

This last room contained the mystical engine that was channeling the death energy for Acererak. They started trying to dismantle it5, but failed on the first roll, which triggered the defenses. Said defenses being the summoning of a skull with jewels for eyes and teeth that tried to eat their souls6. Our heroes immediately stopped trying to dismantle the engine7 and turned their attention to smashing the skull.

It was a tough fight. The thing managed to steal Soren’s soul early on8, and got to heal himself twice – once by consuming a previously stolen soul, and then by consuming Soren’s soul, killing him dead. It almost managed to get Milo and Faran the same way, but they were luckier with their saving throws.

In the end, they managed to take the construct down, and destroyed the arcane machine. Then they used the teleport circle to head back to Belys to get Soren raised from the dead.

We’re half-way through the Tomb of Horrors, now, and I’m letting the characters advance to level 18 before we jump into the next adventure. I just need to decide how to handle getting them appropriate magic items for their level without giving away the store or being too stingy. I think I’ve got a plan, but I need to run the numbers.

Anyway, next game won’t be for a few weeks, due to other demands on my time. We’ll be ready by then.

  1. Well, the way I do it, anyway. []
  2. Also, they’d had about enough of the “Screw you, adventurers!” nature of the Shadow Tomb. They accept it, now that they’ve realized that it’s the nature of the adventure, and no longer blame it on me. So, win. []
  3. Unlike the rebel shadar-kai they had previously dealt with, who had sworn allegiance to Vecna. []
  4. Very well-earned. []
  5. A skill challenge – and not an easy one. []
  6. Actually, it wasn’t a demi-lich, but instead a construct that did almost the same things, just not as well. But it scared the crap out of the players. []
  7. Dunno if that was the best course of action, as dismantling the engine would have seriously weakened the construct. But their motto is “Get ’em!” so I can’t say I’m really surprised. []
  8. Good thing his player had Thrun’s character sheet to run, otherwise he would have had very little to do all encounter. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

The last session of my Storm Point campaign was the first session with our new quorum rules – only three players need to be there for me to run the game. Previously, it was four, but with a total of five players, that was resulting in a lot of canceled games. We only had three players show for this game, but we ran with it.

I had spent some time between sessions looking at the current stage of the adventure1 paring things down so that there would be a reasonable chance of getting through the adventure in two or three sessions. This phase of the adventure is a dungeon crawl, with some interesting battles, some nasty traps, and some really tricky puzzles. I wanted to give the characters the full-on Tomb of Horrors experience, so I kept a few of the traps/puzzles and a couple of the combats, and discarded the rest. The mix I have left will give them2 enough variety to keep them interested and the game moving along, as well as giving them enough danger to let them know that they’ve accomplished something when they get to the end.

So, we started out with the characters dropping through the portal from those annoying archways3 and finding themselves in a room filled with piles of skulls. A search discovered no traps, only a bit of treasure. From there, they went on to a cavern that dropped away in a cascade of necrotic rain, with a stone platform floating at the bottom, decorated with four of the ubiquitous demon faces. This room was an elaborate and vicious trap that took up a lot of the session. The heavy misdirection kept the group fixated on the wrong things for some time, damaging them repeatedly as they tried different things. Eventually4, they found the way onward.

Next up was a corridor that screamed “Trap!” It had one of the big demon faces at the far end, and the entire floor was covered with tiles marked with magical glyphs, saying things like fire, ice, gender swap, lightning, teleport, and other threatening things. Our heroes displayed some admirable caution in advancing into this corridor, but in the end, discovered that the magic that had powered the various traps was gone, and they could cross the room with impunity5.

After this room, they found the site where they’re missing magic item6 had been teleported when Milo went through one of the arches and were able to recover it, along with a number of other pretty nice magic items. Then they reached a bridge of bones over an ossuary pit, guarded by the spirits of dead warriors. This encounter had a method for talking your way past these dead-but-once-noble defenders, but our boys didn’t care much about that, and proceeded to destroy them with great effectiveness7. That was where we stopped things for the evening.

I was surprised how much we got through, and I think that’s largely an effect of only a single combat right at the end of the evening. I think that next session should see this section of the adventure – and this adventure in the larger Tomb of Horrors collection of adventures – wrapped up. Then, everyone levels up a couple levels, and we start the third8 adventure.

Should be fun.

  1. The abandoned Fortress of Conclusion, in the second installment of the campaign. []
  2. I think. []
  3. See last session. []
  4. After a fair bit of whining: “Well, fine, then. We’ll just sit down here and die.” []
  5. Like the original Tomb of Horrors, the modern adventure relies on a lot of misdirection to basically say, “Screw you, adventurer!” You can’t trust things that look safe to be safe, and you can’t trust things that look dangerous to be dangerous. So, the adventurers have to treat everything like a serious threat, and feel like idiots when there’s no actual danger. Like I say, “Screw you, adventurer!” []
  6. A box of eternal provisions. []
  7. A combination of some good initiative rolls, lacks of other combats this evening, and a cleric tooled up for healing and radiant damage made this a really short fight. []
  8. And second-last. []

Dateline – Storm Point

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m running Tomb of Horrors for this leg of the Storm Point campaign. You may not want to read on if you’re playing the game yourself.

***SPOILER ALERT***

I’m a little behind on this post – the last Storm Point game was about three weeks ago. I’ve put the game on hiatus until after the New Year, just because everyone1 is so busy, and scheduling, which is always a challenge, is even worse this time of year.

Anyway.

We’re continuing with the Tomb of Horrors adventure. The gang are on the second leg of the adventure, making their way through the city of Moil in the Shadowfell, looking for the centre of badness. This phase of the adventure has a couple of fights, some wandering around, some random encounters, and a fairly complicated set of skill challenges to get through one of the towers along the way. When I sat down to prep for the game, I looked things over, and decided that was far too much stuff for this group – we’re lucky if we get through two encounters in a session.

So, I kept a bit of the exploration, but cut out the random encounters. I also scaled back the skill challenge tower significantly – originally, it was a layered death trap, with shifting metal spires, whirling blades of force, and sonic mind disruptors, laced with a few banshees if the group was taking too long to navigate it. That thing alone would have taken at least one session for us to plow through. On the other hand, I liked the idea of a section of the city that the heroes needed to navigate carefully as a skill challenge, so I threw in a half-collapsed tower that they needed to find their way through.

They had some interesting times finding their way where they wanted to go, especially when they ran into a long, deep gap in the walkway. I used their various attempts to cross this gap to highlight the dangerous nature of the Shadowfell2. I also had them making Endurance checks every hour or two to deal with the necromantic cold of the place. Failure meant losing a healing surge.

I capped off the evening with the fight against the Moil Barrow. In the adventure-as-written, this is an eminently avoidable3 fight, but I plopped it down right on the pathway to throw an exciting battle into the evening.

Well, it was meant to be exciting. I rolled so consistently poorly that this big, nasty solo soldier wasn’t much of a threat at all. It took them some time to wear it down, but its low initiative roll, plus all the conditions people placed4 on it meant that it just wasn’t the death machine it was designed to be. Oh, well. Sometimes the dice just don’t co-operate.

After that fight, the gang decided to take an extended rest. I sprang the other nasty environmental surprise on them at that point: resting in the Shadowfell meant that they recovered one fewer healing surge, plus they had to make an Endurance check or lose another healing surge. They’ve decided they don’t like that.

After the New Year, the gang will get back to Moil, and find the center of evil that they’ve come seeking. I’m hoping to wrap up this leg of the adventure in another three to four sessions. Then, we’ll advance the characters up to be tough enough to take on the next episode of the Tomb of Horrors.

If they survive, of course.

  1. And by everyone, I mainly mean me. Don’t care so much about the other yahoos. 😉 []
  2. For example, the cleric fired a radiant bolt down into the darkness, and I made an attack against his Will. They don’t know what that was, and I’m not telling. []
  3. Also, pretty nasty. []
  4. And maintained. []