The Heroes of Nentir Vale

H1-2
Delving the Keep on the Shadowfell

DM’s Note: As you can tell by the date, I have been far too lax in my campaign updates, but the adventure has continued steadily as time permits. This post will bring the campaign up to date, pending our next session this evening. On a sorrowful note, as I am known to do, I took a great deal of photos of each game session in play. However, while traveling my camera was misplaced and/or stolen. I lost all of the pictures I had taken, but I promise to do my best without them.

The Return to Winterhaven

The party returned to Winterhaven to report their findings, and to reveal Ninaran as a spy for the death cultists who had infected the area. Lord Padriag was not happy to hear that his assessment of death cult activity was incorrect, but he was glad to know the more immediate kobold threat was quelled (and he rewarded them accordingly). He had no idea where the death cultists might be hiding, and upon hearing about Ninaran’s involvement he posted a warrant for her arrest. He suggested (again) they might be able to learn more from Valthrun the Prescient.

Valthrun.jpg

The party sought Valthrun in his six-story tower at the center of Winterhaven (very hard to miss), and although the scholar was very busy, and insisted he knew nothing about death cultists, he agreed to help them in return for a favor. Several weeks ago, Valthrun’s friend, Douven Staul left Winterhaven, sure that he had found the location of a hidden dragon burial site. Douven should have returned by now, successful or not, and Valthrun was worried something happened to him. Valthrun presented the party with a map with directions to the general area he believed he would find the burial site, and he promised to investigate death cult activity while the party was gone.

As the group was leaving Valthrun pulled Patara aside, and gave her a word of warning. His eyes and ears in other locales had sent him word of unrest in other areas of the Nentir Vale surrounding the Kalashtar. The Kalashtar (a race of psionic humanoids recently arrived from another dimension, Patara being one of them) have never really been trusted despite the fact that most of the Kalashtar refugees have displayed nothing but benevolent intentions. There have always been tensions between the Kalashtar and other races, but recently these tensions had become much more. Valthrun hopes things will calm down, but there are rumors that in many places the Kalashtar are suffering. Even worse rumors suggest slavers have begun rounding up the Kalashtar, although Valthrun doubts those to be true at all. He advises Patara to be careful. Although this madness had not reached Winterhaven, and he hoped it never would, it was best to be careful.

The Grave of the Dragon

Douven Staul’s map proved more than adequate to find the dragon’s burial site, but unfortunately, Douven was not the only one looking for the lost dragon horde. When the party arrives they find Douven bound, gagged, and surrounded by Kalarel’s cult minions and their trained battle drakes.

Burial_Site.jpg

The party quickly dispatched the cultists, and captured their leader, a gnome skulk named Agrid. Unfortunately, besides his name the party was unable to coerce Agrid into revealing any important information about the cult of Orcus. They freed Douven, and secured the gnome to turn him over to the Winterhaven Regulars. Douven, much appreciative for the rescue, presented the party with a gift, an Amulet of Health +1. On the way back to Winterhaven, Douven explains that he found little of worth at the burial site other than a few relics from before the fall of the Nerath Empire. Someone must have found it before him, and looted it of its more valuable assets.

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H1-1
Facing the kobold menace!

Traveling the Old King’s Road the party is ambushed by kobolds before they can reach Winterhaven. Fortunately Stella and Patara noticed the hiding kobold and they were able to effect a defensive strategy to take the advantage away from their enemies.

On the Road: Kobold Brigands

While Zorak distracts the bulk of the kobold forces on the road Stella and Patara circle around through the forest to flank them. With enemies coming at them from both sides the kobold battle strategy disintegrated and they were run off.

Otr   kobolds brigands

DM’s Note: We decided that Kalashtar in the Nentir Vale setting all have blue skin and blue or green hair. All Kalashtar miniatures will be painted in that manner from now on.

DM’s Note: I love the poster maps provided with the adventure module. Great visual environment without any work and the maps can be used for other adventures too.

Winterhaven

Continuing on the group finds the people of Winterhaven to be friendly if not a little wary of anyone traveling the roads during their troubled times. Salvana Wrafton, proprietor of the local inn, quickly takes a liking to the adventurers once they demonstrate they are more than willing to spend coin in her establishment. According to Salvana kobolds have been a problem around Winterhaven for as long as she could remember but a year ago the problem started getting worse.

Right about then a dwarf farmer named Eilian the Old cut into the conversation to add his two cents as a survivor of a kobold attack and a critic of Lord Padriag who has done nothing to quell the threat. Eilian was a bit on the drunk side but the party was able to learn a bit about the area including some information about a keep not too far from Winterhaven and that is where the kobolds might be holing up.

Stella notices an elf watching her from the shadows and she approaches her. The elf, a hunter who calls herself Ninaran, is not very pleasant and she says the old dwarf is a fool for thinking the kobolds would go anywhere near the keep. She tells Stella to leave her alone but when Stella inquires about any death cult activity she lights up. She says that she has been trying to get someone to listen to her about the things she has seen in the woods but thus far Lord Padraig and the others have ignored her (FALSE: She has never spoken a word of this to anyone). She tells Stella that if she wants to find the kobolds and the death cultists then she needs to go to a waterfall not too far away and she draws a map for the party to find it. Then she takes her leave.

Shortly after Lord Padraig comes into the tavern for his daily visit and quickly gets into an argument with Eilian who has been the victim of another kobold raid. However, when Lord Padraig suggest he is more than willing to go after the kobolds if only Eilian and the other farmers would take up arms with him. The dwarf declines and disappears into his beer.

The party introduces themselves and inform the commander of their intent to deal with the kobolds. Lord Padraig is more than enthusiastic for them to take on this quest and he offers to pay them 100g if they succeed. When asked about death cult activity he dismisses the likelihood that they will find anything in this area but suggests that might be something they should ask a sage named Valthrun the Prescient who lives in the town.

They restock their supplies and set out to find the kobolds but soon find it is the kobolds who have found them.

A1: Kobold Ambush

One of the kobolds which escaped from the previous encounter has returned with reinforcements and they attack the party as they are leaving Winterhaven.

A1

Despite the support of a wily wyrmpriest the kobolds are quickly dispatched. On the body of the wyrmprist they find a necklace bearing the holy symbol of Orcus. While they suspected the kobolds might be connected to the death cultists this is the first proof they have been able to find.

The party finds the creek on Ninaran’s map and follow it towards the waterfall.

A2: Kobold Lair, Outside

Hearing the kobolds playing in the creek the party decides to sneak up on them but with Zorak in the party this proves very difficult to do. The kobold dragonshield notices them working their way through the woods and calls his force to arms. The kobolds pile into the woods and try to surround the party. However, Patara begins putting her controller powers to good use and cuts down swaths of kobold minions left and right while Zorak handles the kobold slinger and Stella (with her bear companion) finish off the skirmisher.

Before the kobold dragonshield can flee they cut off his escape route. The kobold reveals there are caves behind the waterfall and his master can be found there. They let the dragonshield escape in exchange for the information.

A2

A3: Kobold Lair, Inside

Sneaking through the waterfall and into the cave the party surprises the small horde of kobolds they find inside. Patara begins sweeping through the kobold minions while Stella and Zorak move towards the more dangerous foes.

For those who have played this module you know that Irontooth (Level 3 Elite Goblin Brute) is part of this encounter and he can be quite brutal. The NPC is tough. In the beginning he has the potential to deal up to 24 damage a round if he doesn’t have to move. Once he is bloodied that potential goes up to 44 points in a single round and he has an action point which was not used until after he was bloodied. Using his action point he can potentially deal 88 points of damage in a single round. Nasty!

Irontooth nearly wiped out the party but they managed to take him down. Zorak was knocked unconscious twice during the battle (and nearly died by sheer damage) but Stella worked diligently to keep him alive.

A3

There were more enemies hidden around corners who were not placed on the map at the time when this photo was taken. Irontooth began bellowing orders in the beginning so I put him out there to show where the commands were coming from.

Searching the caves the party comes across the kobold stash which added up to a good number of coin, a message scroll and a magical set of +1 dwarven armor.

The note revealed that Ninaran was more than likely a spy for the enemy and they had been sent into a trap. Their real enemy was someone named Kalarel who was trying to open a rift for his master, Orcus. With new information in hand the party decided to head back to Winterhaven to lick their wounds and collect their reward from Lord Padraig. While they had a new lead on the death cultists they still needed to know more about the area.

End of Session Notes – +1 dwarven armor, a valuable necklace (if they can find a buyer) and some coin

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Treasure of Talon Pass
Race for the Jade Chalice

Traveling along the King’s Road towards Winterhaven the party comes across a caravan in ruins and a merchant dying from wounds caused by nasty looking weapons. Stella quickly sees to the merchants wounds while the others check to see if the area is safe. The merchant thanks them for their aid and tells them he was attacked by orcs who were searching for something called Talon Pass and the Jade Chalice. Patara recalls that the Jade Chalice is a powerful artifact used by numerous heroes throughout history to vanquish evil. Fearing what would happen if they allowed the Jade Chalice to fall into the hands of orcs the party decided to delay their journey to Winterhaven and set out for Talon Pass.

They tracked the orcs deep into Talon Pass and discovered the ruins of the fabled Tower of Talon Pass. The orc tracks led into the ruins and down a staircase into a dungeon below the tower.

Room 1: Entry

At the bottom of the stairs Stella found more tracks leading to the western door which had obviously been knocked down by brute force. In the pile of rubble in the southwest corner Zorak found metal pieces that looked like they were part of a jointed armature but he could not determine their purpose. Sprawled in blood on the eastern door was something written in Draconic (a language none of these heroes know) but they choose to take it as a warning and avoid it (avoiding Room 2: Infirmary of the dungeon and the undead waiting there).

They party followed the trail of the orcs and went west.

Entry

Room 3: Prison Chamber

In the next chamber they find the orcs they were tracking recovering from a battle and tending to their wounds. Before the party can decide what to do they are spotted by Hrimohl, Orc Berserker and leader of this war pack, and he orders his gray wolf to attack while he rallies his men. Under normal circumstances this war pack would have been formidable foes but in their current condition they are easily dispatched.

NOTE: The party fails to notice the secret door while also leads to Room 2: Infirmary so they never make their way into that area of the dungeon.

Prison Chamber

Room 4: Pillared Hall

The sounds of battle quickly draw them into the next chamber where they find a single orc hiding behind a pillar while kobold archers pelt the area around him with arrows while two more kobold dragonshields hide behind some rubble. The orc cries out to them for help in guttural common. Zorak (showing a bit of his dark side) charges the orc and helps him by putting him out of his suffering.

The kobold dragonshields charge into the battle while the archers pelt the others with sticky glue pots to keep them out of the fray. However, they are not far enough away to save themselves from Patara’s psionic might and she keeps them busy while Stella and Zorak finish off the dragonshields. Then they all make short work of the archers.

NOTE: The party failed to notice the secret door leading out of this chamber to the west so Room 5: Sacrifice Chamber was skipped as well. I also made adjustments to the layout of this chamber bringing the dragonshields into the main chamber and placing them behind the rubble. The upper level on which the ranged kobolds stand in the module was removed as well.

Piallared Hall

Room 6: Kobold Sanctuary

The stairs from the Pillared Hall lead down into the kobold’s sanctuary. There the party faced off against the kobold wyrmpriest who led the kobolds and his personal guard but the party quickly dispatched them (thanks for a couple very nice critical hits).

In the kobold’s treasure trove the party found a Vicious Fullblade +2, a pair of healing potions and a bit of coin.

NOTE: The description of the room and the starting locations for the monsters did not match at all. I’m not sure how this error got past editing. I fixed it for my game.

Kobold Sanctuary

Room 7: Statue Room

The party was ambushed by spiretop snakes as they descended the stairs from Room 6 and pelted with crossbow bolts from the arbalesters across the room. The party tore the snakes to bits and then sprinted across the room to close the distance between themselves and the arbalesters to avoid their ranged firepower. Once they will in close combat the constructs did not stand a chance against them.

NOTE: I could not find my spiretop drake miniatures (which greatly disappointed me) and I did not want to use substitutions. So I re-skinned to the spiretop drakes as spiretop snakes and added a 5 ongoing poison (save ends) to their bite attack. Once again the party failed to find the secret door leading from this room but not for a lack of trying. The dice just weren’t working for them today (outside of combat).

Statue Room

Room 8: Dragon’s Lair

Heading north through the hallway the party found the naturally worn tunnel heading to the west and decided to check it out. It almost proved to be a fatal mistake. At the other end of the tunnel they found a young black dragon named Skatharilarn (the kobold’s master) who was not happy that his pets had been dispatched. This was a nasty fight.

In the beginning the fight went mostly against them (breath weapon attacks , a cloud of darkness, and tail slashes knocking them all over the place will do that to any party of adventurers) but they managed to turn the tide in their favor and kept Skatharilarn on his heels for a few turns. Then a recharged breath weapon almost ended it all. Skatharilarn critically hit Zorak and dropped him while the ongoing acid damage dropped Stella at the beginning of her turn. Patara was the only on left standing and she only had 7 hit points left.

Patara quaffed a healing potion and stood her ground against the dragon (much to the dismay of the other players who wanted her to use healing potions on their characters, hehe). She then proceeded to critically hit the dragon two rounds in a row and dropped it while dodging its claw attacks. She then revived her allies but not before each of them accrued two failed death saving throws. It was a tense battle.

They collected the dragon’s treasure which consisted of an amulet of protection +2, a healing potion and some more coin.

NOTE: This room is a cave in the module but I did not feel like digging out the cave tiles so I simulated it the best I could with what I had.

Dragon's Lair

Room 10: Hall of Champions

Despite Stella’s protests Zorak kicked in the door to Room 10 and they found an imp there waiting for them. The walls of this chamber were covered with an amazing fresco depicting an ancient battle between two massive armies. One army of humans, elves and dwarves was led by Leahcim and a band of heroes while the other army of goblins, orcs and other nasty critters was led by a changeling assassin wearing the sigils of the House of Vor.

And much to their surprise the changeling assassin in the fresco looked exactly like Zorak.

Much to their surprise the imp greeted them and praised Zorak who he called a scion of the House of Vor. The imp told them that he served a dark sorceress named Hareel Vaar and that there was no need for them to fight any longer. If they pledged to join themselves to the cause of Hareel Vaar, an old enemy of Leahcim, they would be allowed to live. This did not go over well.

They attacked the imp and the creature activated several iron defenders who were waiting in the wings of the chamber. The automaton could not move fast enough to save the devil though and it was destroyed.

NOTE: The maps and descriptions of this room and the next were VERY confusing. So I winged it and constructed this interesting setup which the players enjoyed immensely.

Hall of Champions

Room 11: Test of Valor

Hareel Vaar welcomed the heroes into the testing chamber just as a portcullis dropped behind them in the stair well. There was no going back now. Hareel Vaar told them that this was the fabled testing chamber in which all of Leahcim’s heroes had proven themselves in the past but she had taken control of it and subverted it to her will.

She made one last offer for them to join her against Leahcim but the heroes refused. She commanded her undead minions to destroy them and the battle began. Due to low initiative rolls everyone in the party went last so the decrepit skeletons surrounded the heroes in the entry hallway. Hareel Vaar then began pelting them with magic missiles and her thunder burst attack.

It took them a couple rounds to dig themselves out of the entrance and by then they were already fairly battered and bruised. The unique magical features of this room (see the modules) played havoc with their tactics (and their hit points) and Stella and Zorak kept teleporting from corner to corner.

A lucky teleport for Zorak after killing a guard drake (while lying on the ground nonetheless) put him behind Hareel on the platform. Stella rushed up the platform to heal him but he was attacked by the other guard drake protecting Hareel. Zorak critically hit the drake and killed it. I rolled a 6 on the room’s effects and Zorak received another Standard Action which I allowed him to use immediately. Charging Hareel he struck her down with a ghetto critical hit and the fight was over. Only one undead creature remained and it disappeared into the nether.

NOTE: Once again I made massive changes to the layout of this room. In the end I am very happy with the final results and my players were too.

Test of Valor

The vortex in the middle of the room disappeared revealing the Jade Chalice and a Talon amulet sitting on an altar table. A vision of Leahcim appeared and congratulated them on passing the challenges he had laid before them. The dungeon was a test to prove their mettle and to test the loyalties of Zorak (who apparently has a family with a very dark history).

He then informed them that there is a war brewing in the shadows between the Raven Queen and the vile Orcus who wishes to claim the domain of death as his own. Ultimately it is the responsibility of the heroes to prevent this from happening although Leahcim does not know what it will take to accomplish this task. First they must travel to Winterhaven and the Keep on the Shadowfell where they may find more clues to aid them.

The party left the dungeon a bit wealthier for their trouble and wielding new weapons and magical items to aid them in their quest.

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The Kobold Hall
The Heroes of Nentir Vale Are Born!

All is not well in the town of Fallcrest. Along the Old King’s Road kobolds have been attacking merchants in numbers never seen before. The Lord Warden’s men are stretched thin and he lacks the manpower necessary to strike at the heart of the problem so the call goes out for volunteers. He seeks heroes who will strike at the core of the raiding parties and end their threat once and for all.

Only three heroes step forward to offer their services. They are Zarok, Human Fighter/Rogue (secretly a Changeling in hiding from some dark secret in his past), Stella, Longtooth Shifter Warlord and Patara, Kalashtar Psion. They are not the usual heroes that one would expect but they are all that answer the Lord Warden’s call. The road to Kobold Hall is quiet but the same does not hold true once they make it inside the ruin hall.

Encounter 1

The group encounters sentries, a group of pitiful kobolds which are quickly dispatched. There is a pool of glowing, green liquid in the room but the group cannot determine if the kobold’s placed it here, if it is a remnant of the dwarves who once lived here or if something else is aiding the kobolds.

KH - Encounter 1 I

Encounter 2

The group found more sentries in the next chamber but not many. Rushing in they discovered too late that the statues were trapped as they began shooting darts at them.

KH - Encounter 2 I

Encounter 3

DM Note: Prepping for this encounter I fell in love with WOTC’s 3D dungeon tiles. This room works so much better when you can see the elevations of the various sections of the room.

Finally the group begins to strike at the heart of the kobolds but this room is rigged to work against them as well. When they advance the kobolds on the platforms begin swinging a large stone on ropes across the room at the group. The drakes kept Stella and Zarok trapped in the outer parts of the room and the kobolds on the platform nearly killed Zarok before Patara managed to take them out with her ranged powers.

The group grew wary after this and they vowed not to underestimate the kobolds again.

KH - Encounter 3 IV

Encounter 4

DM’s Note: This room was fun to build with the 3D tiles and was even more fun to play in.

Patara hears a rumbling when the group enters this room and they wait until they see the boulder rolling by. At their first opportunity they rushed to the center platform where they were safe from the boulder. The kobolds tried to shove them back off the platform but it never worked and they made quick work of the slingers, spiretop drake and the dragonshields. After that the kobold wyrmpriest was easily dispatched.

KH - Encounter 4 II

Encounter 5

The group easily uncovered the secret passage from the last chamber and made their way quietly into the caves below. All was silent…

KH - Encounter 5 I

…until they were ambushed by a dragon! The real source of the trouble had been revealed but can our heroes vanquish it?

KH - Encounter 5 II

Yes, they did. And they learned that their troubles were only just beginning as the kobolds here were working with a much larger force gathering near Winterhaven. They claim their reward from the Lord Warden of Fallcrest and set off towards Winterhaven where their next challenge awaits.

End Session Notes – +1 staff of war mage, +1 lifedrinker longsword, a mess of gold and gems and even more experience

All three characters leveled up. After we finished the adventure I realized I never scaled any of the encounters (which were designed to face 5 characters, not 3). It’s a miracle they survived and I am proud of my players. The next adventure, Keep on the Shadowfell, has a reputation for being pretty nasty so I will need to remember to scale that one or things might go poorly.

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