July 26, 2010

Village of Hommlet 4E: The New Master

That 15 square corridor leading up to the New Master's Lair? That's bland and uninteresting.

That said, this is the ultimate encounter of the Moathouse. Lareth the Beautiful, the leader of the cult, lives here, and he's got a sizable entourage. The guy himself, Drex (a dragonborn soldier), three Human Guards (statistically identical to the bandit leader Enzer, who the PC:s likely fought earlier) and a shedload of minions. Some of the minions hang out in the abovementioned corridor, theoretically slowing down the advancing PC:s while the Human Guards poke them with their halberds.

In practice, the fighter blasts past them with an action point, bringing the fight into the proper rooms. A battlefront sets up, and Lareth steps out and says something nasty. Then he charges in, critically misses, and the party unloads with their dailies and kill the poor guy in one round. Or maybe that was just in my game. Rest in pieces, Lareth the No Longer So Beautiful.

Moral of the story: If the party takes a second extended rest right before assaulting Lareth's chambers, follow the advice in the module about adding enemies to the Moathouse. I did, but a single extra Barghest (recently arrived, now pissed about the deaths of his bugbear friends) didn't change much. If you're feeling adventurous, do what I considered and have everything that still breathes set up an ambush in the courtyard. Maybe toss in the Giant Crayfish if the PC:s didn't kill that earlier, removing some minions and maybe a guard because the desperate plot to capture it took a toll on Lareth's troops. Oh lord, why didn't I actually do this, it sounds like such an awesome fight in my head.

All in all, this wasn't a bad fight. To be honest, real life intervened and I didn't get to finish it (but at least Lareth hit the dirt before the game broke off). If there's anything I'd complain about, it's that the room is kind of small, but it worked okay with the melee-heavy NPC group and the almost equally melee-heavy PC group.

July 19, 2010

Village of Hommlet 4E: The Bugbear Recruits

As I've mentioned, this could be the next encounter after you clean out the cell block. But probably not.

Unlike the gnolls, the bugbears have been treated well by Lareth. If the PC:s trample in here, there's going to be a fight, no question about it. And it's a nasty fight too. There's a Bugbear Strangler leading a bunch of Bugbear Warriors. The former tends to grab one PC and slowly choke it to death (using it as a shield against any other attackers), while the Warriors move in and hit like freight trains, especially if you have them flank to bring up their hit chance. Going from memory, someone went down every round in this fight.

Having a goblinoid encounter in the module makes sense since Lareth is recruiting from their tribe, but the fight still feels a little redundant after the gnoll fight. As I mentioned back then, it probably doesn't hurt to skip that fight or this one.

Next up: Lareth the Beautiful!

July 12, 2010

Village of Hommlet 4E: The Gnoll Den

The gnoll encounter is the first in a pair of encounters with a very similar set-up: "One leader-dude and a pack of identical mooks". In this case, a gnoll Demonic Scourge (Brute) leading gnoll Claw Fighters (Skirmishers). The other case is the ornery bugbears I first hinted at back in the cell block. If you want to cut down on encounters, one of these is a good candidate.

As it is, this encounter works out okay. The Claw Fighters get a relatively big room to zip around in, which they thrive on, and the Demonic Scourge hits like a mofo (it's not very sticky, but rather relies on being a legitimate threat to tie up PC:s).

The aftermath of the encounter is interesting too. The last standing gnoll will offer information for freedom. The module even suggests that future encounters with gnolls in the area should be easier to reflect how you showed them the weakness of the Temple of Elemental Evil. There are, of course, no further gnoll encounters listed in the module, but it nicely sets up future adventures. Maybe the gnolls could even be grudging allies?

Either way, this is the place to tell the players where everyone is, if you haven't already. If they didn't use shenanigans to bypass the walls, they have at most three encounters left, and that's assuming they came from the north (through the ornery bugbears, I'll get to those alright), leaving the giant crayfish, the ghouls and Lareth's office still standing.

Oh right, Lareth. Just a little peek into the bugbear den and we'll get to him.

July 05, 2010

Village of Hommlet 4E: The Mysterious Pool

So there's a pool in a room. And when you get near it, a giant crayfish bursts out and tries to pinch you to death. Looking at its stats, it would do a half-decent job at it. Lareth and his troops avoid the place, and the players have the option to do the same. Mine did.

Basically the only reason to go here, if you've figured out that the room is a dead-end, is to look for loot. There is some, but meh.

Shortish post. Next up: Some gnolls!

Village of Hommlet 4E: The Crypt Keepers

Our heroes (probably) return from a night of wenching, drinking and sleeping in Hommlet, to search the cell block for secret passages (since there are no obvious ones). If they follow the blood trail to the secret door in the stone pillar, they'll find a tunnel to an old crypt... with undead! PC:s can never catch a break.

Cliché aside, four ghouls work pretty well as a combat encounter. Their regular claw attack immobilizes the target, which sets it up for a subsequent bite attack which stuns. Obviously, this works better the more ghouls are still alive. When the party has worn down the pack to one remaining ghoul, that one is pretty pathetic. Consider having it try to flee when bloodied.

Also consider moving a treasure parcel here. The module doesn't, but come on. It's a crypt! It should be filled with treasure.

After clearing this room, the characters can go straight to the boss fight, to a dead end, or fight some of the actual underlings of the boss. (So far, only the ogre has been an actual hired goon.)

Next up: The Monster In The Dead-End Room.