A Dark Winter's Tale

An Intro to the new system

Those of us who were available met at DMJ’s house to run through some of the basics of the new system and have a go at the module in the back of the DMG (Kobold Hall).

Unfortunately Helen and Alistair couldn’t make it so Jeremy, Michael (who had to leave early) and Chris (me) only had time to have one combat encounter with the Fighter (Thane), Paladin (Drael) and Warlock (Logen) coming up against a small band of monsters. The good news is, we utterly destroyed them, so it’s looking good for our adventuring future.

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When will we play?

Given our past of somewhat infrequent play dates, it was decided during the First encounter session that we would meet on the 2nd or 3rd Sunday of each month regardless of who was available.

Critical mass should be 3 players and a DM, so we can lose 2 players per session and still go forward. It will be up to the individual if they want to hand their PC over to another player or the DM to be run for any session they are going to miss.

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First real session? Not today!

Today was to be our first ‘real’ game with an intro module taken from the DM’s guide (Kobold Hall). Julian was to be the DM but unfortunately he forgot, or got lost, or something and didn’t show up at all.

So, we ran through a(nother) combat training run which was of value because Helen and Alistair hadn’t been through one.

The DM (Chris) set up a room full of bad guys and shoved the party in to it, to sink or swim. In the end Thane (the fighter) fell to a mighty onslaught from two Guardian Drakes but everyone else survived after a long and difficult battle.

Since this was a character shake down and training session everyone was able to ‘tune’ their characters on the fly and it seems like a few new powers were chosen as we went.

I have a few rules clarifications for everyone’s information from the session.

  • The kobold slingers ‘special’ attacks (gluepot) do cause damage on a hit.
  • During combat, while engaged you can SHIFT without provoking an attack of opportunity (this is a one square move in any direction) as a move action.
  • Initiative is rolled at the start of the encounter and lasts for the entire encounter, you do not roll initiative every round
  • Saves are simply a roll of D20, roll under 10 and you don’t save, over 10 and you do, there are no modifiers to this.
  • Saves are rolled at the end of the turn, including the turn the effect is inflicted
  • You can use an Action Point to take another Standard, Minor or Move action, including attacks.
  • I need to check on the immunity rule, but I’m pretty sure if the target is immune to any part of a spell they take no damage from any of it (it could work the other way, in that if the spell does fire AND fear damage and the target is immune to fear only, they still take full damage).
  • You can substitute actions, you can take a move or minor action instead of a standard action, and you can take a minor action instead of a move action.
  • You can charge in to combat, this give you a +1 to your attack roll but prompts an attack of opportunity
  • A character is dead if they drop below the negative amount of their bloodied number (poor Thane).
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Some more post-session notes

I had a thought about Thane, he either got unlucky or is a little fragile for a front line tank/fighter. As I said yesteday that battle would have gone down much easier with the Paladin taking the heat off Thane, but Michael you may want to look at the Toughness feat, it gives you 5 extra hit points per tier (i.e. 5 at 1st level, 5 more at 11th and 5 more at 21st). It probably wont seem like much by level 5-6 but at level 1-4 it will make a big difference..and remember you get an extra Feat every 2 levels so you can decide is what you’re giving up to take Toughness is worth waiting until level 2 to take and how much difference those 5 extra hit points will make until you can take that Feat.

I have also reconsidered Dragonborne as a race so if any of you want to switch, feel free…I’m not even sure if I can use being Dragonborn as an excuse for villagers to chase you around wih pitchforks either, they seem to be a well respected and revered race.

I have also updated Drael’s character sheet to be as complete as possible to give you an example of how all yours should look, right down to the equipment list and attack/power/skills list so the actual character sheet pages are being automatically filled in from the lookup sheets. If you all do this then send me the end result I’ll put them in my Dropbox so we have an up to date copy of each (Obsidian Portal doesn’t allow you to upload your sheets, yet).

Here’s Drael Lightshield (yes, he changed his name, again)

Drael Lightshield

Also take a look at the Drael Lightshield page on the portal as an example of how i’d like you to lay yours out. It doesn’t have to be fancy just try to put all the relevent information there so it’s easy to see at a glance.

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Session 1 - Pre-session notes

Here’s a quick summary of where we are at:

After defeating the baby dragon and emerging from the cave the party head back to town to speak with (what’s his name – I dunno, Julian doesn’t update the portal page with session notes)...anyway, talking to generic scottish patriarch back in town you are invited to dinner, during which you are introduced to Guywood Brindle, a cleric who has been charged with the duty of investigating potential cult activity near the town of Winterhaven, about 2 days journey to the south. Guywood has done some preliminary investigations which has led him to the conclusion that the reports of cult activity near Winterhaven are probably just hysterical rantings by a few merchants and travellers who have been molested by Kobolds on the roads to and from the settlement but his superiors have determined that he should travel to Winterhaven and make a full report, and at the very least quell the Kobolds.

Guywood (I keep wanting to say Guybrush) was sent to <generic> after his superior heard of your adventures in kobold hall (news travels fast) and he has come to enlist your help to travel to Winterhaven and continue his investigations.

Also, being an avid historian and collector of maps <generic> offers you a small fee to map out the area around Winterhaven and any other sites of interest, his fee will be 100gp.

At this point Drael (the Paladin) receives an urgent message that he was required to return to his day job, he wishes you well in your trip and says he will try and catch up as soon as he can.

This is where our adventure begins.

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Session 1 (a real one!)
Winterhaven and beyond

Setting out from the safety of the thick stone walls of Fallcrest our heroes set out for Winterhaven. For several hours the journey is easy over a road which looks like it has seen better days but is still fairly flat and even. Suddenly, the party is set upon by eight creatures which they quickly recognise as Kobolds. The ambush is over fairly quickly with minor injuries to all except the now expired Kobolds. Thane played a good game of hide the axe while the rest of the party decided melee combat is for losers. The party have a short rest and push on to Winterhaven, which they reach just on dusk.

In town they head straight to the inn where they meet some locals, of particular note are:

- Salvana the barkeep (and owner of the inn) who makes some introductions to some of her patrons.

- Valthrun the sage is the occupant of the tallest building in Winterhaven, a five (or is it six?!) storey tower where he lives and maintains a small library of tomes. The party discuss the history and current status of the keep and Valthrun admits his knowledge in that area is limited but promises to do some research and pass on any information the next time they meet.

- Ninaran is an elven ranger who is unwelcoming at first but soon warms up when it becomes apparent that the party is here to investigate the ongoing evil cult activity in the area. She has noticed strange goings on around town and particular in an area to the south-east of town. She also says that nobody in town listens to her warnings and she even suspects that the people of Winterhaven are in league with the cult.

- Lord Padraig is the leader of the town, is quite well off and maintains a small militia. When you meet with Padraig he explains how the Kobolds are becoming bolder with their raids on outlying areas of the town and they seem to be getting closer and cloer. His current resources are such that his men have to stay close to town and can’t go further afield to investigate but he is will to pay you 100 gold if you bring back evidence of dead kobolds from an area near a waterfall to the south east. The party is careful to not ask about cult activity.

As previously discussed, the accents used by all the people in Winterhaven are all remarkably similar, right down to their mispronunciation of the word “Paladin”. Odd.

The party stay overnight at the inn and have a quick look around market day before heading off to investigate the waterfall.

On the way, the party encounter another Kobold ambush, those cheeky little scamps! This time the Kobolds are a little more organised and have among them a Runepriest who happily flings acid balls and nasty glances at the party but to no avail, the Kobolds are overcome with a sudden bout of death. One of the Kobolds manages to escape (with the assistance of Guywood’s fear spell) and legs it south-east.

The party set up at a vantage point overlooking a Waterfall, below them they see quite a large number of Kobolds milling around as Kobolds do. Thane lights a fire and lures one Kobold out, dispatching it in short order, leaving the rest of the Kobolds spooked. The rest of the party remain hidden. A small number of Kobolds run through the waterfall and the party suspect access to a larger area behind the waterfall. The rest of the Kobolds set up strategic positions around the river and inside an odd glowing circle carved in the ground.

The party split themselves into two groups, hoping to gain a tactical advantage. Thane and Guywood head for the Kobolds in the glowing circle, while Logen and Zenith exchange missile fire across the river and pretty soon the battle is won.

What will happen next? What’re the strange sounds coming from behind the waterfall? What is the purpose of that odd glowing circle which now contains 16 litres of Kobold blood and some assorted meaty parts? When will Chris stop using different miniatures to represent minions in each battle and will he ever stop switching from first to third person in these story summaries?!

Find out, next month!

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Session 2

The party pulls back and takes a cautious breather keeping a close eye on the waterfall. As Guywood assists with dressing wounds, Kael steps out of the undergrowth.

“Finally! Thane, I know you said “follow the bodies, laddie” but did you have to leave them dismembered?”

Pausing for a moment, Thane wiped his nose with the back of his hand and wiped the resulting mess into the grass. “It’s the axe, laddie, she makes the cuts. I just pick who gets ‘em.”


Guywood and Logen were examining the magical circle.

Bending down to examine the brutal runes on the rocks, Logen said “It seemed to offer the kobolds some protection while they were in it, but I wonder what the area of effect was?”

Testily, Guywood replied. “That’s just theory we just don’t have time for. It is evil and should be destroyed and from a tactical standpoint it would be a bad idea to have something this powerful at our backs. Any thoughts?”

“Magical-Circle-Destroying-Montage?”

“Good idea.”


One of the kobolds had run south-east from the battle-field and Random and Kael tracked him to another entrance a few hundred yards away from the waterfall. This one did not appear to be guarded. They stealthily checked out the waterfall as well and could clearly see Kobolds waiting for them, though they seemed none-too-keen to step out.

They pulled back a little and consulted Thane…


The kobold body smashed into the waiting kobolds and their cries of dismay told Thane that it was a job well done. He rushed back to the rest of the party, ready at the other entrance only a short distance away, pulling his axe from the straps as he ran. “Alright Snaga, it’s your turn.”


Squandering the element of surprise, the ensuing battle was hellish. Thane was smashed to the ground by the brutish goblin, Irontooth, five or six times and Guywood was exhausted from magically reviving him every couple of minutes. The party’s mood was grim, sitting amongst the bodies of the fallen kobolds.

Random looked around at the room, and could see other signs of recent battle – a few other parties of heroes had not made it this far. She wondered how long their luck would hold…


Limping back into town they checked back into the Inn, leaving Thane in their rooms, they headed downstairs to the fire and a mug of mead. Thane and Logen were looking forward to a few.

Anyone else want to pick it up from here?

5. Heading back, we found the towns-folk had become emo

6. We discovered that ranger-chick was a spy

7. We got the research back from the old guy – a rift site existed at the keep

8. We dropped Irontooth’s head into the Lord, he gave us a powerful magical item

9. Spent the night recovering from the earlier pounding (see 4. above)

10. Heading for the rift…

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Session 3 & 4

Exploring deeper into the bowels of the keep, the party discovered a heavily defended goblin lair. The keen eye of Guybrush noticed just in time that a pit trap lay in wait in the middle of the first room and the party avoidied it without incident but there were plenty of other challenges waiting for them.

Stealthy goblins armed with crossbows took cover behind tables and chairs, a giant stone ball trap tried to crush them and the general atmosphere was unsurprisingly hostile.

(DM note: Ball trap? I think you’re mis-remembering the ball trap from Kobald Hall?)

The party found a secret entrance to an unusually oppulent bedroom and encountered a large sleeping Goblin who they later learned was named “Balgron the Fat”, before the filthy creature could get to him feet and flee the party has dispatched him and slipped back through the secret passage to avoid the remaining goblins in the area.

Climbing inside the room the players interrupt Balgrons now very shocked lite companion. It instantly vaults at Guywood but only just managing a scratch. It’s screeching begins to attract the other goblins, it must be silenced quickly. Guywood returns attack quickly followed by Thane. Thought as the dream combination but obviously not yet, both miss letting the little bugger get a swipe at Zenith. Thane swings at the goblin and gets a lucky slice this time dividing the goblin. Thanes axe was now a cheese cutter.

Now the walls begin to rock and shake as 20 goblins attempt to break in. A bunch of them are all yelling something but drool was what the majority of the party heard. A powerful goblin yell emerges over all the racket and keeps yelling until the walls slower their rocking. The racket dies out and the players all look at each other wondering what was happening. A loud voice could clearly be heard having the attention of all the others. “Balgron is dead!! yyeeooorrrrhhhhggghhh!!!” “Yyyyyyeeeooooooorrrrrrrrrggggggrrrhhhhhhhhh!!!!”

A look of ‘What now’ is the expression on most of the players faces just as something fires up the goblins again. The ruckus sounds like the goblins are all fighting amongst themselves now. The players relieved they be not the focus this time are happy to sit this one. It appears they are fighting over leadership, one of the players confirms that is the goblin way. The players wait it out and eventually the goblins take their fighting away. The whole level felt like it had just dried out, it was very quiet again. The players take a quick rest and to also let the place cool off before continuing.

While the goblins searched the floors above them, the characters descended another level where killer rats dropped from the ceiling in dank caves and later, a giant tentacled blob was a challenge. It pushed Zenith into a slimy pool but the characters rallied giving the athletic rogue a chance to collect the ‘treasure’ (including a Cape of the Mountebank) from the small island. Once the treasure was recovered, they backed away and continued exploring. They party also found anote from some slavers based in the Thunderspire Mountains.

They entered a different part of the underground complex and were assaulted by the undead. Fortunately Guybrush proved his clerical merits and the party made relatively short work of them. The altars to Bahamut provided a magical and purging force that swept through the massive room a little too late to be useful but a pleasant enough effect.

What did I miss?

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Update and the adventure continues

It’s been a while and as usual interest in updating the log has diminished somewhat but here is a summary of the story so far, this is intended only as a summary recounting of events if you want to add your own take on what happened, or expand on things, feel free!

The party ended up defeating Kalarel after a long and difficult battle the main points of which were:

The party having their asses handed to them by a fast moving Wight, which was justice for them kiting the poor gelatinous cube from a previous encounter, the Wight ran circles around them picking them off until the party was at a point where they had little chance of defeating Kalarel.

At the last moment, Sir Keagan appear and duelled Kalarel vowing never to allow the portal to open, the finale of which was Keagan crash tackling Kalarel through the portal, sealing it, for now.

The party returned to Winterhaven but noticed that as they followed the road in to town that the traffic was considerably more than when they had left, mostly consisting of refugees who told the party they were running from the Hand of Naraash, and evil cult of Bane who have been operating on the frontier to the North and West.

The party were hailed as heroes by the town but unfortunately with the sudden population explosion the town has bigger issues to deal with than showering the heroes with gifts and gold.

The party organises to have Shadowfell Keep rebuilt to act as a base of operations and also ensure that nobody else tries to re-open the portal. The initial stages of which will be to reactive the local quarry and hire another party of adventurers to clear out any creatures still living under or near the ruins, this proved to be quite expensive and will have ongoing costs as work proceeds.

While shopping for supplies Winterhaven comes under attack by a group of humans who start slaying or kidnapping refugees from the shanty town which was established around Winterhaven, the party rushes to assist and quickly puts down the attackers but now before some innocent blood is spilled.

Just in time to see the end of the battle some heavily armoured clerics and paladins arrive on horseback, they introduce themselves at the Light of the Sun, an order dedicated to fight against evil cults of all types. She explains that her party had been tracking these killers for days and that without the party’s timely intervention they would have arrived too late. She requests a meeting with the party the next morning at which she reveals that her Order is in need of a party such as this to seek a Paladin named Drael (yes, that Drael) who was sent on a mission across the frontier to the heart of the cults territory, a fortress known as The Pillars of Night which is located in the Harsmad Hills via the Black March a deadly and treacherous road leading north beyond the frontier.

The party accepts the mission to find their old friend and heads off by backtracking the raiding party. After several days of trudging through featureless plains they come across a burnt out village, then another and another, nothing but death and decay and evidence of the cult’s activities. The party discovers a number of bodies of both innocents and cult members. The cult members all wear a grey robe marked with the symbol of Bane and also a silver talisman with a hole where a gem would have been set. The party remembers seeing these talismans around the necks of the original raiding party and endeavour to re-create the missing gem using items they find in their environment, with great success, wearing the talisman and cloaks they would easily pass themselves off as cult members, should they so choose.

The party finally comes upon a village which has not been ransacked and meet with a man named Auldwyn who offers them a bed for the night, but appears very nervous as he advises them not to proceed with their mission, but instead to just turn back and return to the safety of their warm town behind the frontier. Before they can settle in for the night the house comes under attack by some more cultists, this time more organised and more powerful, a hobgoblin Warcaster among them.

The party has some problems putting down these vile creatures but eventually succeeds and this is where our adventure ends, for now …

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The Rite of the Eye

The search continued for Drael. Through the blasted lands infested with cult patrols, the companions made their way by boat, cruising silently upriver. The boat’s captain was a doughty dwarf who proved himself to be a capable fighter when the companions made a stop along the river to take care of an attack on a small settlement. A huge ogre boarded the boat and did some damage but the captain held him off while Logen pounded him with lethal magic.

Eventually, the boat could go no further and the companions waded ashore. Something about the small cove made everyone nervous and they posted regular watches. Sure enough they were attacked by a friend of Drael’s, a dark-skinned elf who fought like a man possessed. Realising that he had been turned by the cult, the companions sought to subdue rather than kill and eventually broke the fugue and heard some of his sorry tale. He also told them about Drael and how he had been turned after a mighty battle when he had killed the cult leader L’Arkesh and replaced him as head of the cult!

The companions found the township built around the temple and bluffed their way in as new initiates. As they climbed the temple steps, they were discovered by a scout who had seen them during the river battle. Grabbing another initiate, they threw him down the steps to cause some confusion and delay and entered the temple at a run. Soon they were under attack from powerful golems but some quick, tactical thinking saw them escape and they entered the temples altar room.

The end-of-level boss was none other than Drael! Rather than attack all the creatures in the room, they took Drael hostage and proceeded to attack the blood-red stone, clearly a source of much of the cult’s power. Hacking it to pieces, it broke the cult’s spell and a few thousand cult members were awakened to their guilt and one demon was extremely pissed.

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