Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Fimbulwinter - Brainstorming (Updated)

The Return of the Knights of the North

Ever since I saw the original Conan the Barbarian movie in the 1980s, I have wanted to run a campaign where the PCs witness the death of their parents and/or guardians/mentors and then seek vengeance when they come of age. 

I would also really like to run this with the players first taking the role of the villains fighting their own parents. One of the things I have thought of was giving bonus action points (and similar mechanics that I use in my own games in addition to action points) that can be used later when confronting those same villains if the players play the "bad guys" as truly evil in the combat with their characters' parents.

Anyway, I think this campaign can be begun in this way because I want the PCs to be the children of the last of the Knights of the North. Indeed, their return as the the new Knights of the North essentially becomes the underlying story of the campaign. They must step up to the challenge of delivering Phlan and the Moonsea North from new evils. Their parents succeeded in removing the Zhent threat (more on that another time) but evil doesn't sleep and the new threat - and a Banite threat at that - is the Warlock Knights of Vaasa.

I have loved the idea of the Warlock Knights of Vaasa since I read about them in a preview of the new Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. I can see them as, in a sense, the Zhentarim "done right" and as an organisation even more attractive to the church of Bane. I am just hoping I can make them seem a credible threat, unlike how the Zhentarim has been portrayed in Forgotten Realms fiction and Second Edition products.

The Basic Background & Plot

The Warlock Knights of Vaasa wish to conquer the Moonsea North without risking a lot of their own soldiers. To accomplish this, a particularly ambitious Banite fellthane, Tarl Hornsong, has been sent to the Moonsea North to forge alliances with the orcs and ogres of Thar, the Barbarians of the Ride, and the frost giants of the Great Glacier. 

While Hornsong has largely left the efforts involving the orcs, ogres and Barbarians in the hands of subordinates, he is personally overseeing negotiations with the frost giants and their frost titan king, Lord Kultaakar. Kultaakar's price is significantly higher than what the orcs, ogres and Barbarians have demanded: the frost titan requires that the fellthane and his forces recover an Aurilian artefact, the Ring of Winter (pictured above), from the ruins of the Ice Palace of Iyraclea which will allow the titan to unleash the Fimbulwinter, bringing an unnatural winter to the lands of the Moonsea North and ensuring that the melting of the Great Glacier will cease.

That's largely the background for the adventures of the campaign. The goal of the party - the reborn Knights of the North - is to prevent the Warlock Knights from forming these alliances or to break any alliances they have formed. They must also ensure that the Ring of Winter does not end up in the possession of the frost titan, Lord Kultaakar, as his elemental heritage and access to ancient rituals of the giant empires will allow him to indeed cause the Fimbulwinter to come.

(I note that the idea of the Warlock Knights allying with the orcs of Thar et al is an idea used by Rich Baker in his excellent Swordmage, Corsair, Avenger trilogy but this is also something I started to plot out before I even read these books. For once I am not plagiarising an idea!)


For this campaign I want to draw on:

First Edition:
T1 The Village of Hommlet
I have decided that I want to use the moathouse as my first dungeon. It's a classic design and I think it will set a good tone for the rest of the campaign.
Second Edition:
Elminster's Ecologies
The boxed set includes a section on the Great Grey Land of Thar so hopefully it will help bring Thar alive when I run the equivalent of a wilderness adventure there.
Third Edition:
Raiders of Galath's Roost
Sons of Gruumsh
This adventure, or at least its basic idea, is key to the overall campaign. In Sons of Gruumsh, the Zhentarim are attempting to forge an alliance with the orcs of Thar. In this mini-campaign, it will be the Warlock-Knights of Vaasa. I rather like the idea of combining it with Raiders of Galath's Roost.
Mysteries of the Moonsea

Fourth Edition:
Menace of the Icy Spire
Monument of the Ancients
I'm giving serious thought to redesigning this adventure for the Heroic tier.
Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl
I basically want the campaign to conclude in the 4E version of this classic 1E adventure -albeit redesigned for the Heroic tier!
LFR Adventures-
SPEC2-2 P1 Tyranny's Bleak Depths
SPEC2-2 P2 Tyranny's Bitter Frost
SPEC2-2 P3 Tyranny's Perilous Bastion
I like how these LFR adventures involve recovering an ancient artefact of Iyraclea, Chosen of Auril, by the Warlock-Knights of Vaasa and somehow (as I cannot remember the details right now) using that to cement an alliance with the Banites of Mulmaster. In this campaign, the Warlock-Knights have a similar goal but the artefact they're trying to recover (The Ring of Winter) is the price demanded by Lord Kultaakar of the Vaasans to cement an alliance with him and his frost giants.
Mixing it All Together

The party begins in Phlan. Why? Largely because there is a decent map of the city.


Tarl Hornsong, an ambitious fellthane (landed Warlock Knight) of Knight Commander rank, is despatched by the Ironfell Council of the Warlock Knights of Vaasa to the Moonsea North with a mission of bringing the orcs of Thar, the barbarians of the Ride and the frost giants of the Titan Peaks under the influence of the Warlock Knights and then to combine those forces into a single army able to overwhelm the Moonsea North.

The Ironfell Council is dominated by a Banite faction who are also seeking to ally themselves with the Banite rulers of Mulmaster. As the faction sees it, conquest of the Moonsea North will be a first step to bringing more of the region under the dominion of the Black Lord.

The orcs of Thar are the simplest target. All Hornsong must do is have his forces find the legendary maul wielded by the last Tharkul: the orcs and ogres of Thar will almost automatically line up to follow its wielder. As such, this task has been delegated to promising subordinates.

Hornsong is personally overseeing the efforts to bring the frost giants of the Titan Peaks into the fold. To do this he needs to unleash an unnatural winter born of the Elemental Chaos. A fimbulwinter, as it is known, would be a sign to the superstitious frost giants - and the mighty frost titan who rules them - that Hornsong has the favour of the primordials of the Elemental Chaos.

The simple fact is that the fimbulwinter actually presents a greater threat to the Moonsea North than war with the Warlock Knights and whatever forces they can gather. Such an outpouring of the destructive forces of the Elemental Chaos could irrevocably change the Moonsea North such that it would no longer be suitable for habitation by normal life. Hornsong is not fully aware of the risks that he is taking and, even if he were, he would proceed anyway as he longs to climb the ranks of the Warlock Knights and one day take his place on the Ironfell Council.


Adventure One: Adventures in Phlan
Levels 1-3

I'm probably going to have to over-prepare this adventure. Essentially I want the PCs to "sandbox" for a while, at least until they reach 3rd-level when the leadership of Phlan hires them to investigate the orc raiders (see Adventure Two: Raiders of Thar).

I need them to get a reputation in Phlan and also to uncover some of their own history. I am thinking of an expedition to the moathouse from T1 Village of Hommlet but making the  moathouse the former base of the Knights of the North. There they can recover tabards and other items. The moathouse could be set in the Twilight Marsh and encounters could include bullywugs, giant frogs, lizardfolk and a black dragon.

Adventure Two: The Hammer of Vorbyx
Levels 3-5

Trade between Phlan and Melvaunt is being disrupted by orc raids but the orcs keep disappearing.

This is a combination of Raiders of Galath's Roost and Sons of Gruumsh. The origin of the orcs (and ogres) is Citadel Ankhalus in Thar.

(Citadel Ankhalus is briefly referred to in 2E's Ruins of Zhentil Keep as the lair of the Masked Wizards of Ankhalus who were defeated by Manshoon at the beginning of the Zhentarim's history. I may or may not use that bit of lore but what I will do is replace Xul-Jarak from Sons of Gruumsh with this name [although Xul-Jarak could even be the name in the Giant language].)

Adventure Three: Monument of the Ancients
Levels 5-7
  • The Warlock-Knights are trying to bring the barbarians of the Ride into the fold.
  • The Warlock-Knights are trying to unleash an unnatural winter from the Elemental Chaos.
Adventure Four: The Palace of the Icy Queen
Levels 7-9

Iyraclea is dead but a simulacrum of her still exists.

A key treasure here will be a flametongue sword that can be used against Lord Kultaakar. (Alternatively, it could be in a red dragon's lair in the previous adventure.)

Adventure Five: The Glacial Rift of the Frost Titan Jarl
Levels 9-11

This will basically rip-off 1E's G2 Glacial Rift of the Frost Giant Jarl and the 4E update of the same name. I should include some emissaries of the Warlock-Knights for variety and possibly representatives of the fey Prince of Frost.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dread Rings of Thay - Brainstorming

Dread Rings of Thay


Ever since I bought the Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide and read about Szass Tam's dread rings I have wanted to put together a campaign based around it. In addition, the above picture - originally the cover of 3.5E's Unapproachable East - just screams out to be the cover art for a campaign.

Also, a few months ago I bought the Neverwinter Campaign Setting and saw how the authors used a dread ring to great effect there. I want to use that as inspiration for my own campaign but base it in Rashemen.

I should also add that this is more or less a placeholder: I'm waiting for a DDi article on Rashemen to be released later this year.


  1. The campaign will run for the Heroic tier.
  2. I would like to include Szass Tam despite his Epic status. I am thinking of taking a lich vestige (a minion of about 26th-level) and turning that into a solo artillery of around 11th- or 12th-level.

Red Hand of Doom

My first thought is using 3.5E's Red Hand of Doom as a model. Of course, rather than goblins and their ilk there would be lots of undead. Nevertheless, the armies of Thay also include living troops such as gnolls and orcs.

The Fane of Tiamat section could be replaced by a dread ring directly controlled by a lich vestige of Szass Tam himself.

Other than those thoughts, I am waiting to see what the forthcoming DDi article on Rashemen might inspire to ensure that it feels like the campaign is taking place in that mysterious land.

Fimbulwinter - Backdrop: Phlan

The City of Phlan
Introduction & History

Early Phlan was a trading outpost, established to facilitate commerce between the elves of Myth Drannor, the dwarves of the Dragonspine Mountains, and the primitive human tribes of Thar and the Ride. It was at this time that the fey planted the Quivering Forest north of the city; the copse enchanted to grow the great wood in the span of a human generation.

The city of Phlan stands as a testament to the stubbornness of the humans who populate the Moonsea Reaches. Despite the city’s current prosperity, the people of Phlan know all too well how quickly Beshaba can turn her fickle gaze upon the fortunate. The city has been ruined countless times over the centuries by war, invasions, and dragon strikes, only to be rebuilt each time. One need only dig in one’s own cellar to unearth artifacts of a prior age, mundane or otherwise.

Today the city is thriving. With almost 20,000 permanent residents, Phlan is by far the largest and most prosperous settlement on the northern shore of the Moonsea. It is a pivotal crossroads for trade in and out of the Moonsea North. Gems, rare ore, and other precious treasures flow into the city daily from vassal mining communities in the north. Until very recently, even the thick-bearded nomads of the frigid plains — the so-called Barbarians of the Ride — traded freely in the markets of Phlan, leading caravans burdened with silky furs, heavy wools, and precious ivories of beasts long forgotten in lands further south.

The city’s oldest neighborhoods are built on Valjevo Isle, a large shoal swaddled by the Stojanow River delta. Fabled Valjevo Castle dominates the skyline and serves as a strong reminder of the city’s resilience in the face of adversity. On the mainland, the burgeoning community has spread beyond the high walls of the Old City.

At a Glance

Phlan is an ancient city-state situated at the mouth of the Stojanow River along the northern shore of the Moonsea. The city is famous for having been constantly rebuilt in the face of repeated attacks. Today, the city is enjoying a period of growth and prosperity, fuelling bards to dub the port city “the jewel of the Moonsea.” 

Population: 20,000, plus an additional 3,000 or so who work farms or live in small homesteads in the surrounding region. Most are humans and dwarves, although sizable populations of halflings also reside here.

Government: Anivar Daoran is monarch and Lord Protector of Phlan as well as governor of the vassal communities of Whitehorn, Verdigris, and Ilinvur. Anivar is a weak sovereign, however, leaving much of the daily governance of the city to a confederation of merchant families, including houses Sokol, Jannarsk, Cadorna, and Bivaunt.

Defences: The Black Watch, a militia of 900 trained fighters, is the city’s primary police force. The Watch is one branch of a greater organization, the Knights of the Black Fist. The Knights report directly to the Lord Protector and deal primarily with external threats to the city. Phlan’s harbor shelters a small flotilla of warships to discourage pirate activity in the region.

Inns and Taverns: Laughing Goblin (inn), Cracked Crown (inn), Bitter Blade (inn), Nat Wyler’s Bell (tavern). The Velvet Doublet (festhall) caters to wealthy patrons
with exotic appetites.

Supplies: Brice Vang (armourer), Randolph Tzintin (leather clothier), Vondor Thond (carpenter), Alero the Smithy (weaponsmith). The Red Plumes mercenary company maintains a barracks and training hall in the city.

Temples: Lyceum of the Black Lord (temple of Bane). Smaller shrines venerate Umberlee, Auril, and Amaunator and a reasonably large shrine of Kelemvor watches over the Valhingen Graveyard. Worshippers of Shar are actively persecuted within the city.

The Knights of the Black Fist

Formed a century past, the Brothers of the Black Fist (as they were known at that time) were a tyrannical order of blackguards affiliated with the Church of Xvim.

In the Year of Risen Elfkin (1375 DR), Zhentilar forces under the command of Hatemaster Cvaal Daoran marched upon Phlan and seized the city. Thereafter the order became the de facto armed forces of the city. The citizens of Phlan warmed considerably toward the order after the “Knights” aided Phlan in repelling a Netherese invasion.

Today the order is only loosely affiliated with the Church of Bane. It pays a nominal tribute annually to church leadership in Mulmaster.

Keyed Locations

A Valjevo Castle

Citizens speak of Valjevo Castle with great civic pride. Standing several stories tall, with majestic marble and granite walls and awe-inspiring turrets soaring one hundred feet or more, Valjevo Castle is unquestionably the largest and most palatial edifice in all the Moonsea. Milsor the Valjevo commissioned the palace after re-establishing the city in the Year of the Lost Lance (712 DR). Construction on the palace was completed in the Year of the Jovial Mage (730 DR), during the final year of his reign. Despite many misfortunes befalling the city over the intervening centuries, Valjevo Castle has remained standing, an enduring symbol of Phlan’s resilience in the face of adversity. 

Today the palace is home to the city’s ruling dynasty, House Daoran. Anivar Daoran, Lord Protector of Phlan, rules from the Cinnabar Throne in the castle’s Great Hall.

B Stojanow Gate

Bard’s tales claim that fire giants constructed Stojanow Gate in tribute to the warrior kings of old. Older, less fanciful accounts point to ancient dwarven craftsmanship. Whatever the truth is behind the structure, its architecture is awesome to behold, with likenesses of civic heroes, dragons, and even deities adorning its walls.

The vaulted monument stands nearly 60 feet high, with 30-foot-thick walls stretching over 100 feet between the two channels of the Stojanow River. The vaulted arch is secured by two sets of massive, ironbound doors which seal the gate. Both are left open except in times of war.

C Lyceum of the Black Lord

The largest and most prominent temple in Phlan is the Lyceum of the Black Lord, which serves the faithful of Bane. Unlike the tyrannical and caustic dogma espoused by the mainstream Church of Bane headquartered in Mulmaster, the priests of Phlan preach a moderate doctrine of meticulous self-discipline and simple vassalage to the city’s lords.

The priests of the Lyceum of the Black Lord in Phlan subscribe to the heresy that Bane was utterly destroyed by Torm during the Time of Troubles. The being they worship as Bane today, the heretical priests say, is in fact none other than the son of Bane, Iyachtu Xvim, having adopted his father’s name to more quickly achieve the status and might of a greater power.

D Podol Plaza

This large, open-air market draws large crowds with its plentiful selection of goods from the length and breadth of Faerûn. Here young children sell broadsheets of thin parchment with the news of the day for a copper each.

E Cadorna Textiles (merchant compound)

F Mantor's Library

Mantor's Library is the most significant landmark in the area of Phlan known as Scholar's Square.

Besides the library, Scholar's Square boasts trade schools, wizard academies, sage houses,

and other structures of learning.

G Cracked Crown (inn)

H Kuto's Well

Kuto’s Well, as its name implies, is a nondescript well drawing water from an ancient cistern beneath the city. If someone climbs down the well, a successful passive Perception check (DC 29) reveals a secret wall about halfway down the shaft. This is one of many concealed entrances to the notorious catacombs of Phlan, peopled with cutthroats, drug addicts, and other dregs of society.

I Nat Wyler's Bell (inn)

J Denlor's Tower (mage tower)

The mage, Denlor, is the best known of the arcanists of Phlan.

K Laughing Goblin (tavern)

L Sokol Keep (merchant compound) & Thorn Island

M Kovel Mansion (noble estate)

N House Jannarsk (merchant compound)

O Red Plumes (mercenary headquarters)

P Brice Vang (armourer)

Q Randolph Tzintin (leather clothier)

R Vondor Thond (carpenter)

S Alero the Smithy (weaponsmith)

T The Velvet Doublet (festhall)

U Castle Atuke

Unkeyed Locations

Iron Route

Phlan Path

Quivering Forest

A warning provided by Knight Commander Ector Brahms, while taking a short rest just outside the Quivering Forest: "Smart folk don’t go into that wood. A century back, when the Netherese razed Zhentil Keep and threatened to do the same to Phlan, Lord Cvaal Daoran, grandfather of the current Lord Protector, made a pact with the dark fey of the Quivering Forest. In exchange for their aid, the wee folk demanded the forest remain off limits to travel and timber cutting. Our last Lord Protector learned the hard way that the agreement was still being enforced, when he sent loggers into the wood in 1456. Lord Talaric Daoran went missing from Valjevo Castle the following day, never to be seen again."

Valhingen Graveyard

This large cemetery stands outside of the city proper, along the western spur of the Stojanow River delta. 

Iron gates along the west and east walls permit entry to what appears at first glance to be a sprawling city park. Thick stands of blueleafs wave their brightly coloured branches above tangles of witchgrass that grow tall over gravestones. Violet bougainvillea and other thorny vines grow unimpeded over the handful of mausoleums interspersed here and there within the confines of Valhingen’s high walls.

Despite rumors of past incidents with undead, no unholy pall hangs over Valhingen Graveyard today. Acolytes in service to Kelemvor tend the grounds and perform interment services for the dead.

One of the more prominent crypts serves as the eternal resting place for the legendary paladin Miltiades. Carved upon the granite doorway to the tomb are the scales of justice, the archaic symbol of Tyr.

The Surrounding Area

Castle Vathar

Citadel Ankhalus

Also known as Xul-Jarak in the Giant tongue. The Masked Wizards formerly laired here until they were defeated by the Zhentarim.

Dragonspine Mountains

dragon - white, red, green

Glumpen Swamp


The Grass Sea

deer are plentiful


City of Swords

The Moonsea

Also known as the Sea of Dragons.

Moonwatch Hills


Quivering Forest

The overwhelming majority of the trees that make up the Quivering Forest are aspens, actually a single grove of enormous size all of which are linked by a single root system.

The trees have tall trunks, up to 80 or so tall, with smooth pale bark, scarred with black. The glossy green leaves, dull beneath, become golden to yellow, rarely red, in autumn. The species often propagates through its roots to form large groves.

A tall, fast growing tree, usually 20–25 m (66–82 ft) at maturity, with a trunk 20–80 cm (0.66–2.6 ft) in diameter; records are 36.5 m (120 ft) in height and 1.37 m (4.5 ft) in diameter.

The bark is relatively smooth greenish-white to gray and is marked by thick black horizontal scars and prominent black knots. The leaves on mature trees are nearly round, 4–8 centimetres (1.6–3.1 in) in diameter with small rounded teeth, and a 3–7 centimetres (1.2–2.8 in) long, flattened petiole. 

Young trees (including root sprouts) have much larger—10–20 centimetres (3.9–7.9 in) long—nearly triangular leaves. The flowers are catkins 4–6 centimetres (1.6–2.4 in) long, produced in early spring before the leaves; it is dioecious, with male and female catkins on different trees. The fruit is a 10-centimetre (3.9 in) long pendulous string of 6-millimetre (0.24 in) capsules, each capsule containing about ten minute seeds embedded in cottony fluff, which aids wind dispersal of the seeds when they are mature in early summer.

A verdant prince (cf one of the 3.5E monster manuals) rules the Quivering Forest. He is a vassal of the Prince of Frost or a fomorian king. Most of his followers are satyrs. He has cyclops bodyguards. Dryads are also common. The verdant prince can see anywhere, and travel anywhere, in the Quivering Forest as it is essentially one giant tree made up of thousands of individual trunks. He can also cause sections of the forest to animate. (It should be noted that a seed of Moander could corrupt this forest and turn it into something like the Forest of Ulom [cf Dungeon 11] very easily.)

Stojanow River

Trank River

Stormy Bay

An unnatural storm is perpetually present. Followers of Gruumsh come here - they refer to it as the Eye of Gruumsh - so many an orc can be encountered here. Blue dragons are also common.


The land of orcs and ogres.

Umberlee's Talons

The Spellplague resulted in sea levels lowering across Faerun. These rocks were exposed. They look like great talons reaching out of the sea. Many a ship has come to grief here. Sahuagin lair here supposedly led by a covey of sea hags.

Toranth's March

It's a road, of sorts.

Vanishing Hills

There are many portals to the Feywild here. Gnomes are unusually common.

The Delves

A Smelly Surprise!

The PCs are welcomed to Phlan with this:

A maddened, rampaging otyugh bursts through the street from the sewers below possibly taking the party by surprise. It is a solo soldier 1. 

The stones of the street have rotted, or so it seems, because the lair of the otyugh was a former temple of Moander and some of its foulness still leeches into its surroundings. A pack of diseased wererats makes it lair there and the final encounter is with Belak the Outcast (shamelessly stolen from Sunless Citadel), a male human dread ghast (template from Green Ronin's Advanced Bestiary for 3.5E) druid (elite controller 1) accompanied by twig blights or similar creatures (again, shamelessly stolen from Sunless Citadel).

Essentially, this is a three encounter delve with the otyugh comprising the first of the three encounters. That said, the temple is larger than the number of encounters would indicate; there should be some mysteries to explore and possibly clues to obtain about the nature of the primordial threats that the party will later face.

The purpose of this mini-adventure is to throw the PCs immediately into action and also to provide a legitimate reason for them coming to the (positive) attention of Phlan's ruler, the Lord Protector.

Exploring Phlan

Basically I want to include some sort of hook for each site in case the players decide to have their characters explore Phlan. Of course, I also don't want it to get out of hand and become the focus of the campaign!

Lyceum of the Black Lord

Adaré, Adept of Bane (placeholder but use the stat block from the Compendium as a general basis for the NPC) is the leader of the Lyceum. She is far more fanatical than the other Banites in Phlan and has received secret messages from fanatical Banites in Mulmaster seeking to bring her into the fold. Furthermore, she is privy to the news that the Warlock Knights of Vaasa are seeking to conquer the Moonsea North.

When the time comes, she will betray Phlan unless her treachery can be uncovered first.

Mantor's Library

Erised Mantor wants a book.

Red Plume Mercenaries

Caravan guard duty - from Phlan to Melvaunt and back. What are their ties to Hillsfar where they are originally from?

The Red Spyglass Inn

portal linking to the ruins of Zhentil Keep per the Perilous Gateways article?

Press gangs for pirates?

Valhingen Graveyard

The presiding cleric of Kelemvor simply wants an undead infestation rooted out of the graveyard. This is based on the delve from Open Grave.

The Wizard, Denlor

Borrowing from an early Dungeon adventure, Denlor wants various herbs and plants from the Twilight Marsh.

Fimbulwinter - Monsters: Levels & Lists

Monster Levels

My time with D&D goes back 30+ years so I actually cut my D&D teeth on 1st Edition (although B/X was the first version I actually DMed). However, most of my pre-3.xE DMing was with 2nd Edition.

One of the things I disliked about 2nd Edition, particularly as I look back, was the inflation of monster hit dice compared to 1st Edition, particularly with respect to the giants. This also relates to my dislike of how 4th Edition took this even further - particularly with formerly low-level foes such as troglodytes and derro - but 2nd Edition set the precedent, as it were.

As I want my Fimbulwinter campaign to run until the PCs reach the end of the Heroic tier - so around 10th- or 11th-level, I've decided to re-level the monsters I am using to the same number of hit dice that they had in 1st Edition. For example, frost giants won't be 14th-level brutes or whatever they are now, but 10th-level brutes. 

Here's my list:

  1. Orc - brute 1
  2. Gnoll - skirmisher 2
  3. Ogrillon - brute 2
  4. Vaasan wolfhound - brute 2
  5. Orog - soldier 3
  6. Taer - brute 3
  7. Frostfolk - skirmisher 4
  8. Ogre - brute 4
  9. Peryton - skirmisher 4
  10. Vaasan war drake - skirmisher 4
  11. Yeti - lurker 4
  12. Cyclopskin - brute 5
  13. Ogre mage - skirmisher 5
  14. Verbeeg - soldier (leader) 5
  15. Leucrotta - skirmisher 6
  16. Troll - brute 6
  17. Winter wolf - skirmisher 6
  18. Annis - elite soldier 7
  19. Wyvern - skirmisher 7
  20. Winter hag - elite controller 8
  21. Bulette - lurker 9
  22. Frost giant - brute 10
  23. Frost giant champion - elite brute 10
  24. Frost titan - solo brute 10
Dragons will be as per the Monster Manuals, albeit with the stats updated to MMIII maths. I expect to use black, green, red and white dragons (although a red dragon will probably only appear once due to the climate).

The Warlock Knights of Vaasa, Banites of Mulmaster and Other NPCs get separate lists as I expect I will need to make frequent adjustments as the campaign/story/plot unfolds:

Banites of Mulmaster

Warlock Knights of Vaasa

Soldier - soldier 2
Drake Rider - soldier 4
Executor - elite skirmisher 7
Fellthane Tarl Hornsong - solo soldier 9

Other NPCs

Zhentarim spirit - solo artillery or controller 3

List of Solo Monsters
Boss monsters for each adventure are included in bold:

otyugh - solo soldier 1
chuul - solo soldier 2
Zhentarim spirit - solo controller 3
orog champion - solo soldier 5
primordial herald - solo skirmisher 7
Wearer of the Purple - solo artillery 8
Fellthane Tarl Hornsong - solo soldier 9
Lord Kultaakar, frost titan - solo brute 11

Sunday, 13 May 2012

Dark Weavings - Enemies & Allies


Drow House Zauvirr of Sshamath

Eye of Justice

Yuan-ti of Najara

Zhents of Darkhold


The Merchant's Guild/The Lion's Den

The Merchant’s Guild in Elturgard seeks to bring prosperity to the region. They desire free trade and freedom of choice.

The Merchant's Guild supports a separate organisation of adventurers to deal with local problems this group is known as the Lion’s Den.

"The Den" is composed of mostly well meaning adventurers – though some prefer to call them mercenaries.

While the guild has means to bring prosperity to the region, some feel that only money motivates the guild.

People of many different faiths in Elturgard support the Lion's Den. Most of these are good-aligned faiths, including the faiths of Sune, Tymora, and of course Waukeen.

Dark Weavings - Adventure One

The Slave Lords of Scornubel


It begins in Scornubel and ends in the Dungeon of the Inquisitor in Elturel.

I need twenty encounters - call it 18 - so that makes six batches of three encounters each. So, Level One encounters would be three batches of three encounters; Level Two encounters would be the same. The first three batches are in Scornubel; the final three batches are in Elturel (although that's not entirely true as there is also some travel).


When the Sun is Black (Encounters One to Three)

Uncovering the Zhent nest.

The Forgotten Temple of Bane (Encounters Four to Six)

Down at the Docks (Encounters Seven to Nine)

To Elturel (Encounters Ten to Twelve)

The party can choose to travel by road or by river so the encounters will need to reflect their choice.

The Dungeon of the Inquisitor(Encounters Thirteen to Fifteen)

The Chambers of the Slave Lords (Encounters Sixteen to Eighteen)

The final three encounters are with the titular slave lords.

Who are they?

Markessa, eladrin swordmage
Zhent slaver (see the picture above with the whip)
Gnoll from the Reaching Woods
female drow cleric of Lolth

The final encounter is a with a shadow demon-possessed cleric of Waukeen. This is a 3rd-level solo encounter. When bloodied, the shadow demon is freed from the cleric's body. Alternatively, it's a cleric or paladin of Torm.


Having bearded the Slave Lords in their lair, the PCs find themselves in the Dungeon of the Inquisitor beneath the supposedly holy city of Elturel. They are brought before the High Observer or another senior cleric or paladin of Torm. He will give them their next mission.


The opening scene is a Zhent mage, Dalmanu, attacking a boy-thief, Almon.

A messenger snake soon appears as do the mage's bodyguards.

The Main Idea

The Eye of Justice have taken an aggressive approach to cleaning up the streets, as they see it, in the cities and settlements of Elturgard.

For a long time the rule was that, after being convicted of three crimes, the offender would be gaoled in the Dungeon of the Inquisitor beneath Elturel however, without any official announcement, it seems anyone can be gaoled for almost any offence and a conviction is not required.

With the aid of an heretical cleric of Waukeen (actually a thrall of Graz'zt... and a cleric of Waukeen) from the Merchant's Guild, the Eye of Justice has organised a slaving operation based out of the Dungeon of the Inquisitor.

A council of Slave Lords has been formed to oversee the operation and to represent the interests of the various parties. Actually, there are two councils: a lesser council to oversee operations and a greater council to set prices and policy.

The Slave Lords

This is the lesser council:

fallen paladin of Torm (now blackguard of Lolth or Graz'zt or both)
drow cleric of Lolth
yuan-ti rogue (?)
cleric of Waukeen (actually thrall of Graz'zt)
female eladrin merchant (actually a "body-swapped" drow - per Exemplars of Evil)
Dalmanu, Zhent slaver and mage



Event One: "When the Sun is Black"

Dalmanu the Slave Lord (elite artillery 2), a Zhent mage, is waiting with a bunch of Eye of Justice thugs (minion brute 3) for the arrival of a yuan-ti messenger snake. It is trained to respond to a Zhentarim pass-phrase. It carries a list of the slaves that the yuan-ti want to have.

While Dalmanu et al wait, a boy thief is spying on them. The Zhent and the thugs assume he is a street urchin (which he is) but he is actually a spy for Andar the Torchbearer, an honourable and noble cleric of Amaunator who is trying to find out why so many of the street children etc... are going missing.

Markessa & her Broken Ones

Markessa: elf slave lord from A2 or A3
Broken ones: monsters from the 2E Monstrous Compendium created when polymorph spells go wrong

What if the eladrin-who-is-really-a-drow (cf Exemplars of Evil) is the elf slave lord, Markessa, from the 1E adventures. Rather than cavelings as detailed in the original series she has broken ones, remnants of her experiments with ancient sarrukh magic involving transformations.

"Bonus" Level: The Sarrukh's Tomb

One of the things I really liked about Caverns of Thracia was that there were secret sub-levels that were difficult to find. I want to try and include such a concept in this adventure by incorporating a sarrukh's tomb. 

The sarrukh is either a lich or a mummy, roughly speaking, and its power has deteriorated markedly. However, it will still pose a significant threat to the heroes but I also need to think about its motivations and how it might be bargained with.

Before reaching the sarrukh's actual tomb, there needs to be chambers filled with serpentine guardians. I am thinking iron cobras would be appropriate and, perhaps, an immortal naga of some kind re-levelled as a solo controller or solo artillery.