Monday, 29 December 2014

Starter Set Sandbox 15 - Leilon (and Night Below!)

While Leilon does not play/has not played a significant role in my current Neverwinter campaign, I have some fairly major plans for it in my next Neverwinter campaign where it will serve as a major base for Thayan slave traders.

And that's the reason for the picture to the left: wyvern-riders are a significant part of the Thayan forces based in the ruined town, but more on that later in the post.


Old Grey Box

The first reference I can find to Leilon is in the Old Grey Box. It is not a direct entry about the town but, rather, it's in reference to an adventuring party known as the Swords of Leilon. Here's a partial quote:
Based in the small coastal town of Leilon, on the High Road north of Waterdeep, this ragtag band of local toughs has done surprisingly well in a brief career of adventuring, plundering (and surviving) at least six of the Mage-Tombs in the mountains east of Leilon, slaughtering a colony of lizard-men in the nearby Mere of Dead Men (gaining some strange magical treasure thereby), and doing some caravan guarding for merchants in Neverwinter. 
FR1 Waterdeep & The North
This is where Leilon begins to develop its own identity, as FR1 notes:
This small human mining town sprawls along the High Road, on the Sword Coast. It lacks walls (an earthen bank surmounted by a wooden palisade shields it from the landward side, but where the road pierces these works there are no gates), and also lacks a proper harbour. A dozen massive, battered barges are loaded in the shallows in the spring and summer, and are poled and then rowed out to meet ships and unload by means of rickety cranes that rise from the stems of the barges into their holds. Needless to say, this is a fair-weather operation only, and tricky even then if the wind is fresh and the seas high. Increasingly, Waterdhavian entrepreneurs have sent wagons north to buy the copper, nickel, and silver of Leilon at bargain prices and take it south to sell at Waterdeep’s harbour. Leilon’'s mines are guarded by “the Lances of Leilon,” a force of some two hundred fully armed, mounted lancers used to fighting off pirates, orcs, bugbears, and trolls. Each lancer carries an axe and knife, usually a sword of some sort, his lance, and a light crossbow which he is experienced in firing from horseback. Leilon'’s total population is some 3,000; its ruler is Pelindar Filmarva, Lord of Leilon. Leilon is a firm ally of Waterdeep, and considered a friend of the Lords’ Alliance. In the mountains east of Leilon’'s mines is at least one important abandoned dwarf-hold, “Southkrypt,” said to be home to many strange and dangerous creatures.
I rather like the fact that in two small entries we have hints of at least two major dungeon complexes, the Mage-Tombs and Southkrypt. Combined with the references to trade and you have an ideal "home base" for adventurers from which they can combine caravan duty, raids on the lizardfolk in the Mere of Dead Men, and dungeon delving. Oh, and that's forgetting the fact that this is a mining town and mines in the D&D multiverse always seem to end up uncovering balrogs monsters....

FR1 also later notes that it takes 11 days to travel by wagon from Waterdeep to Leilon. Ahhh, I rather miss the simplicity of adventures involving simply guarding merchant wagons....

There's also a secondary entry about Leilon which notes:
... The mines east of Leilon are rich in copper, nickel and silver. The mountains are honeycombed with mine shafts and tunnels, including several that open up into the town itself, and some that go very, very deep....
Volo's Guide to the North

The first reference to Leilon in this book is in relation to the Place of the Unicorn:
One sight the Coast traveller should not miss is the Place of the Unicorn in the hills northeast of Leilon. The place can be found only at night. Wizards of the Coast believe that it lies in another dimension, reached only by a moongate (a magical gate that operates only in moonlight). The Place is sacred to Lurue, the unicorn of the Beast Cult. It is a stand of trees whose leaves are brilliant blue, surrounding a bluegrass meadow. Beings who rest therein are healed of all diseases, poisons, curses, and insanity. Unicorns (only) are also healed of physical damage. Beings who have no faith or are wavering in their beliefs often see Lurue herself in the trees, and their reaction may reshape their lives.
I have already mentioned my own forthcoming campaign that is going to include Leilon as an important adventuring location. At the moment, it would appear that one of the PCs is going to be a tiefling fey pact warlock and, if that is the case, I plan to include the Place of the Unicorn as part of her quest to be freed from diabolic influence. The healing power of this location could also feature in a campaign where a PC (or NPC for that matter) is cursed with lycanthropy or something similar. Too many campaigns - mine included - forget to include magical sites such as this....

Leilon & surrounds

Leilon is addressed more directly as well, with an entry that expands on the one in FR1. I will just quote some of the expanded portions:
... Leilon consists of stout stone cottages with slate or thatch roofs, the latter being covered with a hardened
slurry of mud. The houses cluster together within a crescent-shaped earthen rampart on the landward side of the settlement. The rampart has a ditch on the outside and a wooden palisade on top.

... The hard-working miners of Leilon concentrate on digging rich lodes of copper, nickel, and silver from deep mines in the mountains east of the town, though a few older shafts even descend from within the town itself.

... Leilon is a growing community. Lord Filmarya has established a shrine to Tyr in town. It stands beside older shrines to Lathander and Tymora. The Cult of the Dragon and the Zhentarim are both reputed to be active in Leilon, and there are also dark tales of local cults who worship undead mages or spirits of the mine deeps.

An abandoned mage’'s tower, known as the High House of Thalivar, rises in the centre of town. It is guarded by its own ward. Details on the powers of the ward and the existence of tokens remain unknown. It is known, though, that it has guardian monsters, and they have so far proven deadly to all adventurers seeking to plunder the magic reputed to be therein....
Right at this point in my post, and also as I look at the map I just uploaded to the right, I cannot help but think how Leilon would make a perfect place to start a campaign much like Lost Mine of Phandelver but larger in scope. Like Phandalin in Lost Mine, Leilon is a ruin in the 4E/5E era and all its features - abandoned mines under the town, former lairs of the Zhentarim and Cult of the Dragon, a sealed wizard's tower, numerous nearby dungeons - simply scream out, "Here's a great place to run a campaign!"

You could even call it Lost Mines of Leilon....

And one last thing from Volo's Guide, there is mention of Manyclaws Alley, an alley notorious for being haunted by the ghosts of trolls. A footnote explains this a little bit more:
The alley is actually haunted by nine heucuva. These are all that remains of a long-demolished temple to Loviatar. The monsters guard treasure that still lies buried beneath the alley in vaults long forgotten by the folk of Leilon.
A haunted temple of Loviatar? Now that's a dungeon adventure that almost writes itself.

The North boxed set

The sections on Leilon in this boxed set are an abridged version of what appears in Volo's Guide to the North. Move along; nothing to see here....

Neverwinter Campaign Setting

Is that the High Tower of Thalivar?
And this book brings us to the end of canon references to Leilon and also to the "present day" in FR terms, as there is unlikely to be any official update on Leilon for quite some time from WotC.

This sleepy mining town once served as a convenient resting place for travellers on the High Road. Now, the few travellers who still take this route shun Leilon, going miles out of their way to avoid even laying eyes on the town.

The High Tower of Thalivar long stood as a landmark here, abandoned by a forgotten mage. For generations, the tower proved a tempting target for plunderers - and, too often, a grave for them as well. The people of Leilon knew that the tower held guardian monsters, and they were content to leave it alone. However, the Spellplague's twisted magic unleashed the creatures trapped in the tower, which quickly ravaged the helpless village. Now, the tower is a place of terror, its magic freezing in place all creatures whose eyes rest upon it, even for a moment.
OK, there's a bit of material to work with.

Putting it All Together

The purpose of this series of posts was really to expand the adventure in the 5E starter set into a much bigger sandbox and I think Leilon offers a really great starting point for what I am calling LMoP Expanded (it now has its own tag). Frankly, you could even run Lost Mine of Phandelver with Leilon replacing Phandalin completely and then simply add in such things as:
  • The High Tower of Thalivar could be a fairly old-school wizard's tower with lots of weird stuff inside. Ghost Tower of Inverness could provide some inspiration, but it also seems like a perfect lair for, say, the Red Wizards of Thay. Oh, and the sight of the tower may still paralyse but only within, say, 5 squares unless, of course, you happen to be carrying a ward token....
  • There are rumours of a treasure-laden lost temple of Loviatar beneath the city streets. Unfortunately, for failing their deity, the clerics of said temple continue to exist as unusual undead determined to protect the sanctity of the temple that they failed to protect in life....
  • Numerous played out mines are still to be found beneath Leilon. There may be a black dragon in one, and a nest of aboleth in another, while a third has connections to the Underdark and a mysterious trading bazaar.
  • Beneath the streets is the former lair of the Cult of the Dragon (I wonder if Azurl's Hoardseekers might be found here?) hiding a dracolich and various Cult treasures.
  • The signs of new life in Leilon have attracted attention from the sea and, while the PCs are exploring the ruins, sahuagin attack!
Here are some ideas inspired by published adventures (in publication order, more or less) which I mention as a reference:

A0-A4 Against the Slave Lords (1E)

This is largely taken from the notes for my next Neverwinter campaign. (My current campaign is simply called Neverwinter: Year of the Ageless One because it's set in 1479 DR. My next campaign will be called Neverwinter: Year of Deep Water Drifting because it's set in 1480 DR. While there is no overlap in players, the events of the former are helping to shape the background of the latter campaign.)

While some Red Wizards of Thay have allowed themselves to be distracted by Szass Tam's plans for the Dread Ring, others have decided to focus on building their own wealth and power by a very traditional Thayan method: slave-trading.

The fundamental lawlessness of the docks and Blacklake district of Neverwinter means that taking slaves is easily accomplished, particularly when Neverember's mercenaries are rather susceptible to bribery. (This also ties in to a reference to press gangs that can be found in the DDi article about The Beached Leviathan, a ship converted to an inn in Neverwinter.)

I imagine that this campaign would actually begin in Neverwinter, take to the Sea of Swords, and then head to Leilon where the PCs seek to beard the Thayan slave lords in their new lair. The Thayans may also have established cordial relationships with the Cult of the Dragon, Zhentarim, and even the lizardfolk of the Mere of Dead Men, all of whom are happy to sell captives to the Thayans in exchange for Thayan gold.

And where do all the slaves go? Skip ahead to Thunderspire Labyrinth....

Ruins of Adventure (1E/2E)

I think Ruins of Adventure provides an excellent blueprint for a Leilon-based campaign. The idea is simple: clear out the bad guys from the ruins a block at a time. The patron could be the Lords' Alliance or Lord Neverember of Neverwinter and Waterdeep, with both the Alliance and Neverember wanting to reopen Leilon's lost mines. 

And competing with the PCs are at least three factions: the Red Wizards based in the High Tower of Thalivar, the Cult of the Dragon who have found their old base, and the Zhentarim who also see the mercantile potential of such a key location on the High Road with mines to boot.

I must admit, the thought of these three groups cooperating makes me think this would be an interesting place to also run an update of Curse of the Azure Bonds.... (Oh, and I wonder if the Place of the Unicorn could remove the titular azure bonds...?)

Night Below (2E)

The longest running campaign I have ever DMed was a 3E campaign that spanned levels 1-24, was set in the Shining South of the Forgotten Realms (from the Forest of Amtar to Dambrath and the Underdark beneath) and was heavily inspired by Night Below. Ever since, I find it difficult to think of a D&D campaign without aboleth: for me, they are the ultimate mastermind monster, especially if you retain the original flavour whereby they remember everything that was in the mind of every creature they have ever devoured.

Night Below consists of three basic parts: raiding for slaves above ground, exploring the Underdark, and dealing with the aboleth in their sunken city. I can easily see the earlier mentioned Red Wizards et al filling the role played by the orc raiders in the first part using Leilon as a base. The second part could be filled by expanding Thunderspire Labyrinth (see below) leaving only the third part to be converted.

IMC, I have an aboleth city beneath The Chasm in Neverwinter. It's Golismorga from the Savage Tide adventure path published by Paizo during the last 12 or so issues of Dungeon's life as a printed magazine. It may not suit every campaign as Golismorga is a city of slumbering aboleth. A curse has drained the water from the city and blocked its return and, as a result, the aboleth have turned to stone and sleep. (This phenomenon was first described in Lords of Madness, the 3.5E book about aberrations and one of my favourite D&D books of all time.) Again IMC, the PCs have lifted the curse from the city causing water to return and the aboleth to awaken and now they actively need slaves to help rebuild.

While your campaign may not have PCs who caused Golismorga to awaken, it could easily have NPCs who have done the same thing. Maybe the same Red Wizards who are running the slaving operation fell prey to some sort of psionic effect of the slumbering aboleth? Or was it drow explorers? Or maybe your Golismorga was never in a state of slumber. Another option is the flying city of the Abolethic Sovereignty: what if it, or one just like it, is hovering invisibly above Leilon?

Anyway, personally I prefer the idea of the aboleth who have just awakened and need slaves to rebuild. There is a certain logic to it both in terms of their current goals but also in the sense of why they haven't posed a threat until now.

Thunderspire Labyrinth (4E)

The main thing I would steal from this adventure is the market city of the Seven-Pillared Hall which is the destination for many of the slaves that come from Leilon on the surface.

I would have several competing factions present including drow from Menzoberranzan and Skullport (the latter is beneath Waterdeep), duergar from Gracklstugh, illithids from Ch'Chitl, and neogi representatives of the aboleth. (I like neogi and think they're underused... plus I like the idea of the aboleth contracting out the work of gathering slaves as they're still not completely au fait with the present time. That also reminds me: if aboleth can retain the memories of any creature they devour, it would make sense that PCs or NPCs trained in History - or the equivalent skill in non-4E editions - might be considered targets for the aboleth to devour so that they can learn what has happened during the time they have been asleep.)

For those who have the Menzoberranzan boxed set, I see Thunderspire Labyrinth being something very much akin to Mantol-Derith. Another option would be to use the city of Pedestal from the 3.5E adventure The Sinister Spire or even Skullport itself from beneath Waterdeep.

And while this location can be dangerous, it's meant to be something of a safe haven the PCs can return to in between forays to the Underdark.

Summing Up

As I have already said, or at least implied, this post is very much inspired by my plans for my next campaign involving Thayan slavers and the aboleth beneath Neverwinter. But it's also a great way, IMO, to take Lost Mine of Phandelver and continue the adventure in the Starter Set to levels 6-12 or so.

If you're reading this and running 5E, you might think a city of 5E aboleth each with a challenge rating of 10 is a bit too high-powered for the level range I mentioned. That's also an issue in 4E, the edition I use, where aboleth are mid-Paragon Tier monsters. What I have done, though, is to reduce the level of the aboleth to match their 1E hit dice. As a result, my standard aboleth are level 8 controllers which puts them in the level range that suits my games. It wouldn't be difficult to reduce the aboleth in 5E in the same way, and maybe even lower in CR, and simply explain it as a loss of power caused by their slumber (assuming you take the slumbering but now waking up idea I mention above).

So, start with Lost Mine of Phandelver, make a few of the enemies aboleth pawns, include some slavers, and then lead your PCs to Leilon where they can experience a great mash-up of, inter alia, A0-A4 Against the Slave Lords and Night Below. I think that's a campaign your players will remember!

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Starter Set Sandbox 14 - Phandalin, Redux & The Keep on the Borderlands

Firstly, as noted in my earlier post today, my apologies to the regular readers of this blog for the delay in updates. Sickness + travel + fried laptop (x2) = blog post delays.

Secondly, this post is going to be a little different to the others I have posted so far simply because this represents a rough outline for a game I am going to be running the New Year using 5E! I think we're going to start in the second week of January, to allow for all the family stuff associated with this time of year, and then it's going to be up and running.

I confess, I don't like 5E. I like it even less after spending time the other week trying to learn it because I kept having AD&D flashbacks. Now, I've been a fan of D&D since 1981 but I grew to despise AD&D for basically being a train wreck design-wise which only worked if you had a solid body of house rules. 5E is clearly better designed that OD&D, AD&D1E, and AD&D2E, but it has the same break points as those earlier editions - also shared with 3.xE and Pathfinder - whereby casters are eventually going to dominate.

Also, in returning to "theatre-of-the-mind" combat - although, obviously, you could always use minis - it missed an opportunity to do what 13th Age has done super-successfully: hard-wire a tactical overlay that works even with theatre-of-the-mind. 

Finally, monster and NPC building/re-levelling is still painful: it might be a bit easier than 3.xE, but it's more complicated than AD&D, and far less satisfying than 4E.

OK, enough negativity.

The good news is: we'll be playing D&D. I volunteered to run the game because one of the players - he's 17 - wants to begin DMing 5E. It seemed that the best way to help was by offering to run a few 5E sessions and his dad was immediately onside because I offered to run a 5E version of B2 The Keep on the Borderlands which he has been wanting to return to for more than two decades....

And the great thing about theatre-of-the-mind is that we can play this via Skype without having to worry about anything more complicated than an old school dungeon map which I can use a portable webcam to flash up on the screen. That said, I will do a bit more than that: some time back I came across the maps to the Caves of Chaos as created by a rather generous fellow who styles himself as The Weem (if you use that link, just find the Caves of Chaos tags) online. I'll be using those with simply adjustments in Paint and then posting into the comments in Skype. We won't be using Roll20 or any of the other virtual tabletops: too much effort for too little reward.

I'm actually going to be going over old ground with this post because I covered Phandalin in a previous post - the twelfth post in this series (click here) - which is also where I introduced the idea of adapting B2 The Keep on the Borderlands to a campaign centred around Phandalin. Also, the mechanical work has already been done in the one or more of the earlier playtest packets where Caves of Chaos was converted. I'll use the new Monster Manual for the last version of the stat blocks but I'll use the treasure included with the conversion documents.

(That's also my way of saying: this post contains no crunch. It's all about adding some FR/Phandalin flavour.)

A Quick Outline

Keep basically consists of three parts:

1. the titular keep;
2. the wilderness; and
3. the Caves of Chaos.

Phandalin will fill the role that the keep played in the original. It's primarily a safe haven but it has some secrets as described in Lost Mine of Phandelver. The wilderness I plan to ad lib with the aid of simple random encounter table (see below). As for the Caves of Chaos, as I have already noted I am going to use a combination of the earlier playtest conversion document plus the stat blocks from the  5E Monster Manual.

Of course, anyone who is no longer a teenager knows the first thing you need to do if you're going to run Keep on the Borderlands is provide a reason as to why all these disparate humanoid tribes have gathered together in a single location without embarking on a war of mutually-assured destruction. (Of course, Eberron DMs don't have that problem. If ever there was a campaign setting where Keep on the Borderlands made sense exactly as written it is Eberron...!)

As the picture to the left suggests, my choice of mastermind is a blue dragon. More on Idrizraele Morueme later in this post. Oh, and he's the reasons I am calling this little adventure Tyrant of the Twilit Land....


The basic background for the players is this:
  • Phandalin was largely destroyed by rampaging orcs several centuries ago.
  • It is now being rebuilt largely to cater to those mining in the Sword Mountains. (Think of the movie Tombstone. It has a similar sort of feel to the town in the movie.)
  • Halia Thornton is a female human who owns the Phandalin Miner's Exchange. She (apparently) owns the title to the old Forgebar dwarven mines - and she has a map of them as per the player's map above - but the mercenaries she sent to secure it were cut down by a mixture of humanoids. One escaped to bring her this news.
  • The mixture of kobolds, goblins, orcs, hobgoblins, and gnolls acting in concert is most unusual which suggests an outside agency has united them.
  • That mystery of an outside agency aside, Halia has offered  a 5,000 gp reward to whoever can secure the mines on her behalf. She will also provide 100 gp per head in supplies in advance, plus two potions of healing (2d4+2) each.
The PCs have (presumably) agreed to try their luck.... 

The basic background for the DM is all of the above plus:

  • Halia Thornton is an agent for the Zhentarim who wish to secure the wealth of a rebuilt Phandalin, and a reactivated Phandelver mine, for their own organisation.
  • The Zhentarim is worried about what the arrival of a blue dragon in the hills outside of Phandalin could mean especially as the dragon is reportedly a wizard and thus likely a member of the Morueme family of blue dragons.
  • The Zhentarim is also concerned about the Cult of the Dragon coming to the area lured by rumours of a blue dragon. The enmity between the two groups goes back a very long time....
  • The blue dragon's name is Idrizraele Morueme and she is named for a famous forebear. She is, indeed, of the blood of Morueme but Morueme tradition means that a female is banished from their lair in the Nether Mountains in the Silver Marches once she reaches breeding age.
  • Idrizraele is a challenge rating 9 blue dragon taken from the Monster Manual with a few small changes. Her Intelligence and Charisma scores are swapped around. She is a level 4 divination-specialist wizard. Her spells are essentially non-combat (although true strike may prove to be interesting) but she does have the portent class ability. Idrizraele also speaks several extra languages, including those of all the creatures in the cave.
  • Normally, a Morueme dragon has a personal bodyguard of 40-60 Red Flayer hobgoblins. As an exile, Idrizraele does not have such a guard and so, once she decided to make the Lost Forgebar Mines (more about the mines in a moment) her first order of business was to begin gathering loyal soldiers. The hobgoblins came first but then she branched out and starting gathering other races as well. 
  • And thus we have the basic background for why there are so many different races in the Caves of Chaos.
  • The Forgebar clan of dwarves were noted as being greedy and evil, unusually so for dwarves. These mines were dedicated to Abbathor, the neutral evil dwarven deity of greed, and a temple was built to honour him. (The Shrine of Evil Chaos, or whatever it was called, from the original Caves of Chaos is now the the Great Halls of Greed.)
And that's the situation the PCs will find themselves in. It's not too complicated but at least there is an underlying logic to the place plus a fairly formidable BBEG.

1. Phandalin (The Keep)

This can basically be played as written although I expect I will make a few adjustments once I know a bit more about my players' characters. So far I have a wood elf monk (some sort of merchant-related background), a human fey-pack warlock (noble background), a drow ranger (unknown background), and a human fighter (a former soldier haunted by the horrors of war). Each of them will have at least one adventure hook tied to Phandalin.

Also, the other big change IMC is that the Zhentarim are going to be a lot more evil, even if that evil is fairly subtle. The PCs have been offered an enormous sum of money for the mission but that's because, once the mission is completed, Zhentarim assassins will be waiting for them.

2. The Phandalin Hills (The Wilderness)

Here's a rough wondering monster table that exists more for inspiration than anything else:

Roll a d20 each hour. On a 16-20, roll a d20 and consult this table:
01 A blue dragon flies overhead.
02 Bugbears
03 Cult of the Dragon
04 Dwarves (Forgebar descendants looking for their lost clan mine; neutral evil)
05 Gnolls
06-08 Goblins
09-10 Hobgoblins
11 Kobolds 
12 Ogres (1-2 only)
13-18 Orcs
19 Perytons
20 Roll twice and assume the two groups are fighting.

3. The Lost Mines of the Forgebar Clan (The Caves of Chaos)

I am not proposing to change much of the Lost Mines/Caves of Chaos except with respect to the shrine/temple area where I want to make it plain that it was clearly a functioning temple of Abbathor. These bullet points are based on notes I made while reading the section on Abbathor in 2E's Demihuman Deities:
  • Temples are typically underground or are in secret, windowless rooms.
  • Sacrificial altars are massive, plain blocks of stone, blackened by the many fires laid and burnt upon them.
  • Temples are often mistaken for treasure vaults as they are typically painted with gold leaf (this one definitely is: that's old school!) and filled with a cache of purloined treasures.
  • Enemies of the dwarves are sacrificed once a year, with orcs, trolls, and giants being preferred. (I was thinking this could mean undead skeletons that are medium, large, and huge in size.)
  • Clerics wear red vestments. When stealth is required, red undergarments are worn.
Abbathor's symbol is a jewelled dagger typically placed within a diamond. These should appear fairly frequently on the walls and floor of the temple areas and one or more of these engraved symbols could be the focal point of a magical and/or mechanical trap. I was also thinking that they might be accompanied by dwarven runes that spell out something like, "Great Abbathor, Great Master of Greed, let us find all that shines or sparkles here, and revel in its possession." This is based on his dogma.

And on the subject of traps, these are a couple of ideas inspired by reading Demihuman Deities:
  • If Abbathor is offended - defiling his temple could be the trigger - he will cause non-magical treasure-carrying items such as backpacks and sacks to burst open.
  • In certain parts of the temple where there is treasure, the treasure is protected by a magical "zone of greed". Taking treasure from a "zone of greed" triggers a need to make a Wisdom saving throw. If failed, the person is consumed with greed and tries to fight anyone within, say, 15 feet of the treasure for the 1 minute with a new saving throw permitted each round. It may also be possible to use Persuasion to remove the effects.
I definitely want to include a mummified dwarven cleric that animates at some point, but taking care to ensure that the encounter with Idrizraele is not overshadowed in importance. And while a grand melee with the blue dragon is probably the most satisfying conclusion to the adventure, it may be that the PCs strike some other sort of deal with her. She really wants a safe lair and some interesting magic. If the former, in particular, was available she could be persuaded to move, especially with some interesting books on matters arcane....


One of the other reasons I decided to use a dragon as the BBEG - beyond simply the old school charm of such an idea - was that I thought the new DM I mentioned at the beginning of the post might be interested in transitioning the characters from Tyrant of the Twilit Land to Tyranny of Dragons. While they will be higher in level than recommended for Hoard of the Dragon Queen, that may actually work out better because the opening encounter of Hoard includes a blue dragon which is horribly overpowered for most level 1 groups. (And, yes, I know smart groups sometimes run away but not everyone plays that way.)

Anyway, if that is his plan I will try and include some more overt links between this adventure and Hoard so that the transition is made that much smoother. I may even include a 5E version of Azurl's Hoardseekers and, if he agrees, set them up as a recurring set of villains for his campaign.

Those developments aside, it's going to be interesting running such an old school adventure using what I find to be a fairly old school ruleset. I know it's not going to convert me to 5E but I am still looking forward to the experience.

Tyranny of Dragons: not in My Realms

Finally, after 12 weeks of unshakeable bronchitis, unexpected business travel, and two lots of laptop repairs, I am finally back to posting on this blog.

This is going to be a short post just to get my typing muscles working. It's also a bit negative... but my next post will be more positive.

It seems my posts about expanding Lost Mine of Phandelver (Starter Set Sandbox) have proven to be quite popular, judging by the tripling (+) of traffic here since I started that series, and I have been asked if I will be doing something similar for the two Tyranny of Dragons adventures, Hoard of the Dragon Queen and The Rise of Tiamat.

My short answer: No.

I think both adventures have some potential and some interesting ideas but, to me (IMO/YMMV), they really don't fit with the Forgotten Realms. Beyond that, Tiamat as a BBEG has been overused for several editions now - Dragonlance, Red Hand of Doom, and Scales of War (only one edition ago!) - and I have never found her to be that great a fit for FR. That said, I could definitely see the Tyranny of Dragons storyline fitting into Eberron where Tiamat is imprisoned - according to Dragons of Eberron - and where there are cults working to set her free.

But not in My Realms.

I will take a closer look at the two adventures again and see what else I can pull out and add to the Starter Set Sandbox series of posts. I suspect the appearance of Castle Naerytar in Hoard of the Dragon Queen means that I can post an update to my earlier Mere of Dead Men post incorporating that part of the adventure and I am sure that's not all.

Anyway, more Starter Set Sandbox posts await with the next one following later tonight....

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Starter Set Sandbox 13 - Kryptgarden Forest

I am tempted to say, DON'T GO HERE. Kryptgarden Forest is the demesne of the gargantuan green dragon Claugiyliamatar, also known as Old Gnawbone. She appears in all her glory in the upcoming D&D Epics adventure DDEP1-1 Corruption in the Kryptgarden but you can read about her in her Wyrms of the North article on the WotC website (or in Dragon 233 where the article first appeared).

FR11 Dwarves Deep
Well, this is almost completely irrelevant but the Kryptgarden Forest was known as Tsordvudd to the dwarves of the fallen dwarven kingdom of Besilmer. (I suppose that can justify an ancient dwarf-built outpost on the outskirts of the forest. Actually, that is useful. Being able to throw together a short dungeon with a logical reason for being where it is is surprisingly handy, especially in a sandbox campaign.)

Cormanthyr: Empire of the Elves
A timeline entry in this book reveals that some of the first settlements of the ancient elven/eladrin realm of Illefarn were in the Kryptgarden Forest. Lost Empires of Faerûn mentions that it is subsequently known as Rilithar upon the dissolution of Illefarn.

The North
Oh look, on the subject of a dwarven citadel - although I think this is hinting at Southkrypt which I covered in another post - here's the section on Kryptgarden from this boxed set:
Named after Southkrypt, this small forest is believed to be the second-most-powerful source of the evil that pervades the dwarven ruin, the first being the Sword Mountains lying just north. The eastern outskirts of the forest are often used by the inhabitants of Westbridge for hunting purposes, even they don?t delve farther than a few hours? walk into it.

Unsubstantiated rumours of another dwarven citadel in the hills near the center of the forest have circulated in recent years. A mad adventurer, apparently the lone survivor of a nine-man adventuring company, was captured on Khedell Path in the plains west of Red Larch. He babbled about a citadel of erect insects casting spells? and hurling weapons that killed a man from 500 paces.

According to the man's crazed tales, the insects are able to camouflage themselves (probably magically) to the point where the only way to find the creatures is by scent and tracking. He's a known liar, yet he was found with nothing in his possession and strange burns along his arms and back that cannot be explained.
Putting It All Together
Firstly, there are green dragons. I would look again at the early 5E description of the effects of green dragons on the environment which I included in my post about Thundertree. And clearly any campaign that plans to end with something other than a TPK needs to avoid Old Gnawbone herself. (She has 26 hit dice in Corruption in the Kryptgarden and is CR28 in Dragons of Faerûn.)

I suppose that also means there are kobold servitors of those same green dragons. That would certainly help ensure more level-appropriate encounters.

Secondly, there are both dwarven and elven/eladrin ruins in Kryptgarden Forest. That's a logical reason for a range of small and medium dungeons some of which may even play host to a green dragon or two... or their kobold servitors.

The former presence of elves also suggests that Kryptgarden Forest would make a good base for the xenophobic Eldreth Veluuthra. Perhaps they inhabit a refurbished ruin of Illefarn and have been capturing slaves to help them rebuild?

Finally, there are those mysterious "erect insects". I suppose the mantis-like thri-kreen could fit the bill but I rather like the idea of using spellweavers instead. The Shackled City adventure path including a spellweaver-themed adventure Secrets of the Soul Pillars in Dungeon 109 and the Ruins of Karran-Kural could be used here. There is also a supporting article, The Ecology of the Spellweaver, in Dragon 338 which could help flesh out a spellweaver-themed adventure rather nicely.

Summing Up
As you can tell, I am not particularly enthused about adventuring in the Kryptgarden Forest. There are two main reasons:
1. Look at the map. It's difficult to get there from Neverwinter or Phandalin.
2. I have to give Old Gnawbone her due. She's too tough and that's her turf.

However, running a spellweaver-themed adventure is on my gaming bucket list and that's about the only thing that would persuade me to manipulate my players into sending their PCs there. For now it's the proverbial "Here be Dragons!" from old maps of the world....

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Starter Set Sandbox 12 - Phandalin & Wave Echo Cave (Updated 26Feb2017)


Until Lost Mine of Phandelver was published, all we basically has by way of information about Phandalin and Wave Echo Cave was this:
Phandalin was an important farming center located northeast of Leilon, where the Triboar Cutoff East fades into a trail. The road was abandoned after years of orc attacks obliterated every caravan that passed down the road, conquering Phandalin in the process. When the orcs were driven out, the village was left largely in ruins, and it remains so today.

Under the leadership of a chieftain called Uruth, the orcs expanded steadily, building a realm called Uruth Ukrypt (Home of Uruth). Its name echoes today in Kryptgarden Forest. Too lazy to support themselves by farming, the orcs devastated the game in their realm and subsequently took to raiding human holdings for food. Some 400 years have passed since then, during which time concerted human attacks decimated the orc kingdom and nearly drove the creatures from the area entirely.

No one lives here now but monsters, though passing hunters and rangers often camp in one of the more secure buildings. It still has three usable deep wells, one of which is considered to be heavily tainted with an undetectable poison that kills the imbiber three days after ingestion. Orcs and half-orcs are supposedly immune to the toxin.

The orc attacks forced gnomes and dwarves to abandon a mountain delve near Phandalin where they mined mithral in a union they called the Phandelver's Pact. This lost lode was called Wavecho Cave because the roll of waves beating on the shore could be heard in the natural cavern. Shortly before the
mine was abandoned, a lode of platinum was discovered. The size is unknown, but a very old dwarf who worked the mine remembers that the vein "held great promise".

Phandalin is the best preserved of the many ruined keeps and villages scattered along the Sword Coast, most of which are little more than heaped stones, graves, and cellars hidden by reed grasses and creeping vines. Many of these areas shelter predatory beasts or passing adventurers.
And that's pretty much it. (I am quoting from The North boxed set.)

Adapting Other Adventures

Red Hand of Doom

If you've been reading my other posts and my rough ideas for the Cragmaw tribe to be orcs seeking to rebuilt their lost realm of Uruth Ukrypt, you can imagine that a place like Phandalin, once reduced to a monster-filled ruin by the orcs of Uruth Ukrypt, would seem to the orcs as a logical target for the modern day depredations.

One of the few genuinely good adventures published by WotC in the 3.xE era was, of course, Red Hand of Doom. (And, unfortunately, its success led to WotC thinking that Tiamat was the "go to" BBEG for the next two editions with the execrable pseudo-adventure path Scales of War for 4E and now the Tyranny of Dragons RSE for 5E.)

And while the hobgoblins of Red Hand are very different in play to an orc horde, I think the structure of that adventure can help inform a mini-campaign based on a rising orc threat with Phandalin one of the targets on the way to, say, laying siege to Neverwinter.

I will be starting another Neverwinter-based campaign shortly and I expect the orcs to play an even bigger role in that campaign and Red Hand of Doom is definitely going to inform some of the design choices I make.

Of course, some Lost Mine of Phandelver DMs are probably looking at my idea to turn the Cragmaw tribe into orcs rather than goblins as something they don't want to do. In that case, Red Hand of Doom might be much more useable "as is" other than stat block conversions.

With a bit of work it might also be possible to tie it into the Tyranny of the Dragon storyline if that's something that interests you.

Anyway, I'll stick with the orcs and maybe have a balor general driving the horde forwards....

Keep on the Borderlands

One of the really interesting things about B2 Keep on the Borderlands, and particularly the Caves of Chaos, is that it makes nearly no sense. Why are all these evil humanoids, many of whom are fundamentally opposed to each other, dwelling in close proximity without some sort of civil war taking place?

For me, that's not just a rhetorical question. I want to know what is uniting them and keeping them at relative peace with one another.

But before I post some ideas about the answer, let me throw out a suggestion: What if Phandalin replaced the titular keep? And related to that is this: What if Phandalin became the party's home base to scout out rumours of evil humanoids in the Sword Mountains which ultimately lead to the Caves of Chaos from Keep on the Borderlands?

So, what is uniting the evil humanoids? In the final section of the Caves of Chaos - marked with the letter K on the original map - there is a series of chambers that includes THE TEMPLE OF EVIL CHAOS (room number 58). I think whatever unites these disparate evil humanoids is the power represented in this temple.

And here are some FR-appropriate options:

Bane: The Black Lord is the deity of tyranny. Since the Spellplague, he's also been the official deity of Thay because of a deal struck between him and Szass Tam. Maybe this is a Thayan temple to Bane where they perform various arcane and necromantic experiments while also moulding these evil humanoids into an army of conquest. (This probably makes the most sense and also fits in well with the presence of Thayans in the Neverwinter region.)

Cyric: The Prince of Lies is a creature of chaos, murder, and strife. He is also the patron deity of most of the Zhentarim (this is in the 4E era rather than the 5E era where the Zhentarim are now almost player-friendly!). I do like the idea of Zhentarim recruiters training disparate humanoids to perform raids on various caravans and settlements only for the Zhentarim to then turn up and offer protection money to drive the humanoids away.

Garagos: The Reaver the chaotic evil version of Tempus, and possibly Tempus's predecessor as the deity of war. And Garagos is not happy about being supplanted. What if he and his bloodreavers (his clerics) decided to mount a campaign to increase his influence once more? Gathering war-like humanoids could be part of that. I also note that Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue referred to the tanarukka (tanar'ri-blooded orcs) of the Scourged Legion and that their leader was now a bloodreaver of Garagos. That's another option beyond the ideas I have previously posted about the Cragmaw orcs being directed by clerics of Luthic.
The Scourged Legion

Ghaunadaur: I admit, I like drow. I like really evil drow. I like the traditional Gygax-created pre-Drizzt drow. And as much as I like spider-flavoured drow, I also like the insane servitors of Ghaunadaur. (On that note, one of the best combats I ever ran in 3.5E involved a drider cleric of Ghaunadaur. It took five hours to run 15 rounds and, at the end, we all thought it had only been an hour-and-a-half. It was brilliant.) What about an outcast drider cleric of Ghaunadaur with his (or her) fellow drow heretics gradually building their strength to raid a drow outpost somewhere beneath the Sword Mountains?

Lolth: Ahhh, drow again. Some of you may be familiar with the idea of the Demon Weave (just click on the link for more information otherwise) so maybe these humanoids are being used by the Lolthite drow to gather various items and sacrifices as part of the preparation for the creation of the Demon Weave. It also ties in with the drow BBEG at the end of Lost Mine.

Shar: Shar used to be my favourite evil deity but the whole return of Netherese city of Shade and its Shadovar caused me to lost interest in her. However, it would make sense for a band of Netherese as part of an experiment to determine if these various humanoid tribes can be turned into effective troops.

Tiamat: Again I admit I don't like Tiamat but, if you want to use her, look at Red Hand of Doom for inspiration and make this one of her temples. Frankly, this could potentially tie in really well with the Hoard of the Dragon Queen and the whole Tyranny of the Dragons story. Unfortunately, it's not something I can get excited about....

Summing Up

Let's face it, for all of its faults, Keep on the Borderlands is a great starter adventure. Maybe you could use it as part of a Lost Mine of Phandelver-inspired campaign with multiple delves in between completing chapters of the adventure proper?

I must admit, I already have an introductory adventure planned for my next Neverwinter campaign but I am sorely tempted to move the action to Phandalin and kick off the campaign with an updated version of the Caves of Chaos....

Oh, and I have nothing to offer regarding Wave Echo Cave so I simply made it part of this post. Sorry.

26Feb17: About Wave Echo Cave...

When I first did this post, I must confess I didn't actually bother to read the Wave Echo Cave section of Lost Mine of Phandelver. Actually, I may have but clearly I paid no attention to it. That was a mistake because it clearly has potential for expansion and adaptation consistent with some of the other ideas I've posted in this series.

So, thanks, to +Ibskib and +Ben Green for prompting me to take a proper look at it.

The Forge of Spells

The key feature of this location is, of course, the Forge of Spells. While it is implied that it was once a rather potent feature, it has been emasculated to be more suitable for a level 1-5 adventure. I run 4E and use the 4E version of the Forgotten Realms in my games so let me throw around a few ideas from that perspective.

One thing I have failed to do in my 4E games, as my players keep avoiding rituals, is to include magical locations which could conceivably replace the component cost of using certain ritual magic. (3.xE's Midnight Campaign Setting has these sorts of locations and WotC experimented with a similar idea of planar touchstones - go to a place, get a special power - during the course of 3.5E and particularly in the Planar Handbook.)

If I was going to use the Forge of Spells I would have it be, for the purpose of the Enchant Magic Item ritual, the equivalent of the gp value of a level 5 item each day (arbitrary number) but its entire power could be exhausted to produce a level 10 item (another arbitrary number), even for an item crafter of a lower level. That gives the players to choose between a renewing resource or a single major item (and maybe it needs to be level 15 or higher to make it really tempting.) I'm not sure what the equivalent is with respect to magic item creation in 5E but perhaps a 5E fan can comment on that below.

Beyond its usefulness in item crafting, what if it is the remains of an older, purer form of magic?

During the 3E era, Dragon published an article about the computer game Neverwinter Nights and the writer created his take on the reptilian creator race (this has subsequently been replaced by the sarrukh introduced in 3.5E's Serpent Kingdoms). That article postulated that there was a type of magic that predated the Weave which I think it referred to as "old magic" (or "whole" magic) and that the creator races had access to this "old magic" which combined the Weave, the Shadow Weave, and some unknown power. What if the Forge of Spells is, similarly, a legacy of this "old magic"?

Also, <this post> about the Old Owl Well mentions the spell-storing gemstones known as chardalyns. What if the presence of the Forge of Spells has the side effect of seeding chardalyns through the Lost Mine and, indeed, the "stars" - the glittering minerals - in the ceiling of 13. Starry Cavern. What if the presence of the Forge of Spells has the side effect of seeding chardalyns through the Lost Mine and, indeed, the "stars" - the glittering minerals - in the ceiling of 13. Starry Cavern are actually chardalyns that the PCs can recover.


Obviously, Wave Echo Cave is completely useful as is but, if you think about expanding the importance of the Forge of Spells, you may also want to think about how that could change the inhabitants of the 'Cave.


As mentioned by +Ben Green in the comments below, the presence of a dark lake linked to the Underdark (area 16) immediately suggests that an aboleth is present.

So, what would an aboleth want with the Forge of Spells?

SPOILERS FOR NIGHT BELOW. A rough synopsis of the classic 2E boxed set adventure Night Below goes like this: Aboleth-controlled orcs are raiding the countryside and capturing spellcasters. Those spellcasters are being sent into the Underdark where they become the raw material (I forget how - I will need to read it again) for the creation of mind-controlling obelisks which the aboleth will raise around the region to bring the region under the thrall of the aboleth in their city below.

Oh yeah.

Imagine that. With a few changes to LMoP, including making orcs more important and having them capturing spellcasters, you're now looking into a much larger and longer campaign that ends up in the Underdark.

So what purpose does the Forge of Spells serve? In such a scenario, the enslaved spellcasters are brought to Wave Echo Cave and rituals are performed using the Forge of Spells in order to create the mind-controlling obelisks. And once the threat is ended in Wave Echo Cave, the PCs are tasked with exploring the dark lake and travelling further underground to seek out and destroy the real threats.

And you get to run Night Below. Ask Matt Colville; that's a good thing!


I admit, I have beholders on the brain. My favourite bad guys in FR are the Zhentarim and the Zhentarim are not the same without beholders behind the scenes. I think I have already mentioned a few times in this series how I used the Zhentarim when I ran my own version of this adventure.

But the main reason the Forge of Spells makes me think of beholders is because the beholder section of 3.5E's excellent Lords of Madness suggests that beholders derive nourishment by exposing magic items to their central eye's anti-magic gaze. I can only imagine how satisfying something like the Forge of Spells might be by comparison!

So, if your version of LMoP Expanded has the Zhentarim playing a key role, perhaps their beholder masters have them searching for this location because it would increase the potency of the beholder hive to the point where they could produce more beholders.


In the 4E era, WotC made a half-assed attempt with the Rise of the Underdark metaplot/megaplot to tell a big story about how Lolth was going to create her own version of the Weave called the Demon Weave. (I actually like the idea but its execution was, unsurprisingly, botched.) If you look for the Demon Weave tag on this blog, you will be able to find out more about the whole scheme or you can read a short version in the excellent Menzoberranzan: City of Intrigue.

If you go this route, the subsequent investigations of the drow plot could lead the PCs into a slightly different version of Out of the Abyss allowing the campaign to continue to level 20 or so with only a few changes to the story.

That's Enough For Now...

This has been very much a first draft based on a 15-minute reading of part of a product I haven't looked at for 2+ years. But even with no real research, it's plain that this can easily be expanded into a much larger campaign and even segue into either Night Below or Out of the Abyss. Of course, committing to such a choice also means making a few changes to LMoP to help tie everything together but, if you've run LMoP before, you're probably ready for a few small changes to keep things fresh and interesting for you as the DM.

Starter Set Sandbox 11 - Mount Hotenow

There are not enough volcanoes in D&D. This is your chance to rectify that oversight.

Some people see the name "Hotenow" and wonder if it's a play on "Hot Enough". It could be. The name was not invented by Ed but by Paul Jacquays who wrote FR5 The Savage Frontier and which, in turn, was based on his The Enchanted Wood sourcebook/adventure for DragonQuest.

Among his many early RPG claims to fame is the dungeon masterpiece Caverns of Thracia which, in turn, has inspired one of my favourite web articles on dungeon design, Jacquaying the Dungeon. While Gary Gygax was championing incoherent randomness in both his adventure and rules designs, Paul Jacquays was writing such adventures as Caverns of Thracia and Dark Tower (published by Judges Guild) where there was some sort of design logic. He really was a breath of fresh air in the early days of this hobby.


FR5 The Savage Frontier

In a section on the Neverwinter Wood, Mount Hotenow is mentioned in the context of the Neverwinter Wood:
This forest east of Neverwinter seems to have a magical quality about it, or at least an air of mystical secrecy. The always-warm Neverwinter river, which flows out of the wood, has its source deep beneath Mount Hotenow, a sleepy volcano in the northern wood. Fire elementals are said to live deep within Hotenow. The steep mountains to the north of Hotenow hide griffon lairs.
FR11 Dwarves Deep

In a section of the fallen dwarven kingdom of Gharraghaur it mentions:
Gharraghaur was the first of the great dwarven kingdoms to fall to orc attacks; its people were too busy mining to arm themselves in numbers enough to withstand the orcs before it was too late. At its height, the borders of this realm were as follows (using the old dwarven names wherever possible): east from the sea at Lyntara, a blue-veined, uninhabited rocky headland north of present-day Port Llast, to Glaurimm, the lofty volcanic peak known today as Mount Hotenow.
Neverwinter Campaign Setting

When Mount Hotenow is first mentioned in this book, it is in connection with the volcano's eruption that reduced Neverwinter to something little better than a ruin. However, the volcano is subsequently introduced as follows:
For untold generations, this volcanic peak quietly fumed in the depths of Neverwinter Wood. Rumoured to be the source of the warmth of the Neverwinter River, Mount Hotenow once featured in the bedtime stories of Neverwinter's citizens as the home of fire giants, red dragons, and other blazing beasts. People looked upon the fantastic peak as a thing of beauty - until its wrath was unleashed against Neverwinter in the cataclysm. Now jutting like a broken tooth from the forest, Mount Hotenow still fumes, the land occasionally quaking with the echoes of its fury.
It is later further described:
What resembles a mouth to the Nine Hells gapes open at the southwest edge of the Crags, in the form of the volcano known as Mount Hotenow. Its occasional rumblings and sporadic gouts of smoke are ample reminder that it is never entirely at rest. Hot springs and magma flows run beneath its rocky exterior, ensuring that Neverwinter River never freezes. It's small wonder, then, that the mountain stars in so many local legends. Some believe Mount Hotenow does sit atop a passage to the Hells; others say it's a doorway to the Elemental Chaos. Still others claim it hides the entrance to Gauntlgrym or is the home of a mighty red dragon. Stories of demons, giants, and all manner of flame creatures have existed here since before recorded history. Today, an often-told tale in Neverwinter and Helm's Hold suggests that anyone who dares to enter Mount Hotenow's caves is cursed to die in fire within the year.
The fire giant Gommoth is then mentioned, a hunchback exiled from his tribe and self-styled king who reigns over other fiery creatures (fire elementals, magma beasts, and salamanders are mentioned).

Putting it Together 

Hall of the Fire Giant King

The first thing that sprang to mind when I was looking at Mount Hotenow for my extant Neverwinter campaign was, naturally enough, the idea of setting an adaptation of G3 Hall of the Fire Giant King there.

Chris Perkins wrote an excellent conversion for 4E in Dungeon 200 but it is for level 18 characters due the level of fire giants in 4E. As I have mentioned elsewhere on this blog, I reduce the level of monsters to match their 1E hit dice so, IMC, a normal fire giant is a level 11 soldier. That said, as I only plan to run my campaign to about level 12 or so, it might end up being the final adventure and, if this is the case, I suppose stopping another eruption of the volcano might be the basic plot.

Alternatively, Ed Bourelle of Skeleton Key Games produced a book of maps called Dungeons of Doom that was published by Green Ronin. In it, he includes some maps of dwarven halls inundated with lava - these could be ruins of ancient Gharraghaur - and I could imagine setting that location in Mount Hotenow. If I did that, I would probably cut back on the fire giants and go with azers - fiery dwarves - instead. However, I would reserve a fire giant or fire titan as the final "boss monster".

That also suits my collection of miniatures better as I only have a single (Huge) fire titan. I could make him a level 11 elite soldier which has the same XP value as a level 6 solo soldier. At that level, I could make this fiery dwarven delve into an adventure for characters around levels 4-6, particularly as my azers are levels 2-5, matching their hit dice in 1E.

I could still use the basic plot of stopping the volcano, but at a much lower level.

White Plume Mountain
I must admit, I only thought of this while writing this post.

For those of us who have been playing D&D since the 1980s (or earlier), thinking about a volcano in the context of D&D should almost automatically produce memories of playing in and/or running S2 White Plume Mountain. It was also expanded and republished for 2E as Return to White Plume Mountain.

The original is a bit of a fun-house masterpiece with a lot of interesting and even weird encounters that many of us can still remember 30+ years later, such as the invisible giant crab in a clear bladder inside lava. The author Lawrence Schick has subsequently admitted in interviews that it is based on some samples he produced for dungeon encounters as part of his application for employment at TSR and that he never saw it as an actual adventure to be published, per se. That said, I like it. It really has a certain charm... and I dare any DM reading this to run it in Mount Hotenow!

I also noticed that the conversion work has already been done for 5E DMs. In conjunction with the re-release of the 1E adventures S1-4 in hardcover as Dungeons of Dread in 2012, WotC also included stat block conversions in at least one of the 5E playtest packets.

So, why not? While "fun houses" are not normally my cup of tea, it might work as a way of finishing a campaign based on Lost Mine of Phandelver with something that is very different in tone, but still rather deadly.

Gates of Firestorm Peak

This is, without a doubt, one of my favourite adventures of all time. It's also a reminder that Bruce Cordell was once a great adventure writer. Firestorm Peak? Hmmm, that sounds like another name for Mount Hotenow. This could slot right in....

Summing Up 
I do like the idea of Mount Hotenow threatening to erupt again and I think a lava-filled dwarf-created dungeon ruled by a fire titan and populated with his azer slaves is something my players and I would enjoy. Of course, an adaptation of Hall of the Fire Giant King would also be interesting but that's at a level where I would be looking to finish the campaign and, to me at least, it doesn't strike me as the sort of adventure that has the campaign finishing on a high note.