Friday, August 22, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Rumors


Here are a bunch of rumors for the Chaos Scar. Some are just general rumors, some are linked to specific adventures. They ascend in order of adventure difficulty. If you don't want to lead the party on with dangerous adventures, start with a d20 and add a d10 every level or so. Otherwise just roll a d100/2. I'd say let each member of the party hear a rumor when they start and then let the party hear up to three more per adventure they complete.

  1. Lord Drysdale is planning to convert everyone in Restwell Keep to the worship of Erathis. If they don’t agree they’ll be exiled into the Scar!
  2. We regular folk don’t mean anything to Drysdale. He intends to just use Restwell Keep as a military base to retake the Scar.
  3. Some of the Blades are still around and they’re more than eager to get revenge on Lord Drysdale.
  4. Gorn Hammerfall, the Captain of the Guard, has found a forgotten secret chamber with his stone cunning. It contains Greysen Ramthane’s hidden treasure!
  5. The Mages of Saruun come from Thunderspire Mountain and do business with all sorts of unsavory creatures like drow and duregar. Why does Lord Drysdale allow them to stay here? They can’t be up to any good.
  6. There’s a human cult call the Brotherhood of the Scar that has a fortress deep in the crater.
  7. One hundred years ago a red dragon named Kerang was the terror of the Scar but a wily druid named Merlius poisoned him and then brought the mine down on his head. Word has it among the Fireclaw kobolds that Kerang may be coming back somehow! (Some Assembly Required)
  8. The Skull Kicker kobolds usually aren't much of a problem but they've become more organized lately and have actually managed to nail a merchant caravan. (Kobold Hall)
  9. There’s an old keep that predates the Scar not too far from the King’s wall. Belonged to a Goliath sorcerer from what I understand. Place is infested with Bullywugs now. (Stick in the Mud)
  10. There is a cult dedicated to something called Chitteruk not too far into the scar. Their leader, a one armed gnoll called the Hand of Chitteruk, has been capturing people and taking them away to their lair. (Den of the Slavetakers)
  11. A pair of Halfling bandits have been terrorizing homesteads and travelers near the Scar. Not only do they steal, they are ruthless murderers. (The Brothers Gray)
  12. A Cave near the King’s wall is the lair of some strange glowing drakes. They are covered with odd blisters that emit residuum when popped! (Death in the Pincers)
  13. Not far from the Kings Wall is a cave that emits a strange blue glow. (The Tainted Spiral)
  14. Some brigands have been randomly attacking travelers and homesteads near the King’s wall. However these aren't bandit raids as very little is stolen – it is killing for killing sake. (Elves of the Valley)
  15. Some crazy-ass goblin named Slaark is demanding tribute from everyone near the Scar. Like Lord Drysdale's gonna put up with that! (Slaark's Crown)
  16. If you follow the road into the Scar, half way in there is a trading post where you can meet with some of the more unsavory residents of the area. (The Crossroads)
  17. The tiefling who runs the trading post at the Crossroads, Silvereye, often tries to trick and do in visitors who are obviously adventurers. (The Crossroads)
  18. The Stone Forest is actually a series of monoliths from ancient times. Some say they’re the teeth knocked out of a primordial by Moradin’s hammer.
  19. Somewhere near the King’s Wall is the Cave of Whispers where dark secrets can be heard. (Sliver’s Call)
  20. Somewhere within the Scar is a forest made entirely of glass! (Glass Spire Forest)
  21. There is an old temple in the Scar. It was originally dedicated to Erathis but was overrun by followers of Orcus. It’s abandoned now. (Dead by Dawn)
  22. The lizardfolk in the region worship Tiamatt, Zehir and all sorts of other nasty gods. (Keep on the Borderlands)
  23. There is an old abandoned dwarven refinery within the Scar. (The Hammer Falls)
  24. The Sword Pillar is a favored place for Hobgoblins to gather and choose a new leader. The winner of the combat must thrust his vanquished opponent’s sword through the pillar.
  25. A long time ago there used to be an elven colony in the deep woods of the Scar. A bunch of heretics or something who lived along side orcs. They were slaughtered by their own kin, though. (Blood of Gruumsh)
  26. There is a big old hole in the ground inside the scar known as the “goblin hole”. Can’t think of a reason anyone would want to go there unless you just hated goblins. (Down the Goblin Hole)
  27. About fifty years ago there was a goblin war chief named Urgog who actually managed to burn down the elven wood during his reign. He got old and was eventually chased off. But there’s been increased goblin activity lately and they've been using Urgog’s name as a battle cry! (Down the Goblin Hole)
  28. It’s said that the Goliath sorcerer, Voran Earthman, had labs and libraries all around the Scar that were connected by teleportation. Some of the underground ones may still be intact. (The Lost Library)
  29. There’s an old temple of Moradin in the Scar but nobody remembers where it was. (The Crawling Fane)
  30. An elven wizard named Vanamere and human fighter named Lethion used to live in a tower and helped protect the King’s Wall. After Lethion pass away the tower was repeatedly assaulted by orcs and ogres trying to get some treasure he buried with him. Eventually they brought a giant and the tower was destroyed, but not after Vanamere summoned a mighty storm to destroy all of them. She disappeared during that storm and became one with the tower to stay with her beloved. (Stormtower)
  31. Strange, ghostly spiders have been appearing in nearby towns and making off with magic items. (The Spintered Spring)
  32. Illugi Swordbreaker, the Emerald Warlock, and Agera of the Shadow Face led a mercenary group called Stormcrow Company. Each had a storied adventuring background before they joined their strengths, but those stories are as nothing compared to the tales of the exploits of Stormcrow Company. The mercenaries made their base in old tunnels they found beneath a rocky tor in the Scar. (Stormcrow Tor)
  33. Stormcrow Company was credited with cleaning the goblin tribes out of nearby hills and killing a lich who threatened the valley from its dark tower. The adventurers also accepted contracts to assassinate nobles in a neighboring city-state, kidnapped an eladrin princess in return for a ransom of questionable relics, and even slew the good dragon Karonzaxus. In the end, they were feared more than revered. (Stormcrow Tor)
  34. The Gnawstubbles goblin tribe has been dominating all the other tribes deeper in the Scar. They've even been seen riding giant bats! (Glowstone Caverns)
  35. Fjorn Hammermain, a well known prospector, finally bit off more than he could chew in the Chaos Scar. Too bad since he actually seemed to have found adamantine. (Fjorin’s Foothold)
  36. One of the most famous landmarks in the Scar is the Pillar of Eyes. It resembles nothing so much as a stack of staring eyeballs. (The Pillar of Eyes)
  37. The sorcerer Voran Earthmane has an old tower in the Scar that somehow never fell into disrepair after the star fell. (Vanguard Tower)
  38. Deep in the Scar, past the Crossroads and the Stone Forest is the Slaver's Stone where unsavory deals are made. (The Slaver’s Stone)
  39. The Cloven Skull is the skull of a stone giant that was caught by the impact of the falling star and became embedded in The Wall. Somewhere nearby is a tunnel that leads to a mad oracle.
  40. There is a benevolent cult dedicated called the Radiant Morn that has established itself in the Scar. They are working to bring light to the region. (The Radiant Morn)
  41. A frequent visitor to the Chaos Scar is Keljack the Deathless. He’s over a hundred years old yet doesn't look a day over thirty. He’s violently unpredictable, though, especially when near the Scar. A master swordsman you don’t want to mess with. (Scarred for Life)\
  42. A red dragon was seen a few years ago settling itself down into the caves along the crater. No one has seen or heard from it since. Thank the gods. (Reflections of Ruin)
  43. Sir Tavil Soarvaren was a shining paladin of Bahamut until he was killed by orcs. He had some artifact that the orc leader wears around now as a trophy. (Vainglorius)
  44. The Proving Pit is used by the denizens of the Chaos Scar to settle disputes between themselves or to test themselves against other fighters of many kinds. (Scarblade)
  45. The Scarblade is encased in a translucent crystal spire above a gladiatorial pit. Anyone who defeats the pit’s champion can claim it. (Scarblade)
  46. Some woodcutters saw a wolf all covered in tongues and other animals twisted beyond belief in the deep woods of the Scar. (The Star-Touched Grove)
  47. Small bands of well-armed members of the Brotherhood have been seen attacking monsters in the Scar but have been capturing them and not killing them. (Heart of the Scar)
  48. There’s a wizard who lives in a giant floating stone head and floats around the Vale. Sometimes he comes down if he sees something interesting. (Head in the Clouds)
  49. There used to be catacombs underneath the Keep, but they were sealed up ages ago. No one knows how to get down there now. (Pit of Delirium)
  50. Strange runes have been seen around the Scar. No one knows what they are but they make you feel uneasy. (Runecutter)

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Encounters

A note on levels:
This setup will likely result in the party encountering challenges either above or below their level. In other versions of D&D this would be less of an issue as the toughness of a creature could be more easily gauged - a kobold was a kobold, even if it was one of Tucker's. In 4e that kobold could be a 10th level challenge and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference on sight. So my recommendations would be as follows:

  • If the encounter would be more than a level or two lower go ahead and beef it up a bit, especially if it is a full adventure. Unless your 9th level party could use a laugh cleaning up Stick in the Mud or something.
  • If the encounter would be more than a level or two higher take the following into consideration:
    • What would you be nerfing? If you'd just be dropping the level of some humanoid opponents then just go ahead and do that.
    • If the opponents are signaled to be more dangerous, like dragons and such, leave them be and try to make it obvious they're outmatched.
    • When the PCs really get into trouble, probably the first time this happens, have Keljack bail them out. It could help make him more sympathetic later on.

Events and Encounters

If you want to roll for it, roll a 1d6; on a 1-3 it is an event, on a 4-6 it is an encounter. However pacing should be more of a factor for deciding things. If the party has already had several major events or encounters, just throw one of the "non-events" at them to keep them on their toes. Similarly, while a numbered list is provided for the encounters you should really just choose one that is based off a location they are close to or is of an appropriate challenge.

1 - Evil presence. Have a random member of the party make a Will saving throw. No matter the result, tell them they sense an evil presence watching them.
2 - Whispers of the Shard. Choose a random member of the party. Everyone else in the party hears a faint whisper to kill that party member in order to receive a great reward. There is no reward.
3 - Twisted wildlife. An animal with some twisted feature crosses their path, like a rabbit with no fur and transparent skin. It is harmless otherwise.
4 - Blight. The party walks through an area where all the plant life is dead and no animals can be seen or heard.
5 - Strange fruit. A nearby plant bears fruit that is moving. The fruit resembles something organic - embryos hanging from tress, eyeballs in a berry bush, etc. The fruit IS organic and bleeds if cut. It dies the moment it is picked. It has not benefits and is sickening (and just sick) if eaten.
6 - Non-euclidean river. The party encounters a river that is heading their direction. If they follow it, they end up back where they first encountered the river 1 mile later even though it had been going straight the entire time. They need to lose sight of the river in a perpendicular direction to escape the loop.
7 - Storm. The skies darken over 1 mile of movement and then a massive storm breaks out for the next 1d4 miles. Do the following skill challenge:

  • For each mile of stormy weather make a check. Each failure costs 1 extra mile of movement.
    • The road is muddy and slippery. Everyone makes a moderate Athletics check. If anyone fails someone else can make a hard Endurance check to pull them along. Any unresolved failures counts as a failure for this phase.
    • The skies darken and it becomes black as night save for lightning strikes. Moderate Nature or hard Perception/Insight.
    • It is cold and wet. Everyone makes a moderate Endurance check. If anyone fails someone else can make a hard Heal check to help them. Any unresolved failures counts as a failure for this phase.
    • Lightning strikes at a party member. Use DMG pg.42 for a limited attack. A hit counts as a failure.
8 - Wide river crossing. Each party member makes an moderate Athletics, Endurance or Nature check to cross or one party member can make a Hard check in a creative way to get them across (like building a raft or finding an easy ford.) Any failures result in the loss of 1 mile.
9 - Steep ridge. One of the ridges of the Scar jut up suddenly and stands in the party's way. Treat like a river for purposes of getting by it.
10 - Rain. It rains on the party for the next 1d20 miles. At the end of the day either one person can make a hard Nature or Heal check to cover for everyone, or everyone makes a moderate Endurance check. Failure results in one less Healing Surge the next morning.

First, when there is going to be an encounter, determine if the party is within two miles of any active adventure locations. If they are then you can usually use the first encounter from that adventure as a wandering monster group. If the adventure doesn't really lend itself to its residents wandering around then just choose another type of encounter.

If you'd like to roll for encounters, use this chart. It mostly references material in the various adventures for statistics. Other items use encounters from other adventures which I'll reference.
  1. Chance Encounter (1g)
  2. Eyes in the Forest (1h)
  3. A band of Fireclaw Kobolds (4 Kobold Dragonshields) are looking for someplace else to go. Their chieftain is weak and they don't think the clan will survive. They'll offer their services for food, shelter and four gold a week.
  4. The Hand of Torog, 4 Archer Cultists and 4 Evil Ritualists looking for someone to enslave. (Den of the Slavers)
  5. The Eyes in the Forest encounter from Elves of the Valley.
  6. 6 Lizardfolk Mire Scouts are attacking Lizardfolk Dreadtail. The Dreadtail is a cultist of Tiamatt who the Scouts are trying to chase off. (Battle of the Witchlight Hermitage for stats only. Dungeon 191.)
  7. Two Duregar Guards and two Duregar Scouts in search of victims. (The Hammer Falls)
  8. A goblin hex hurler, 4 goblin warriors and 4 goblin cutters on their way to a raid outside the Wall. They don't necessarily notice or care about the party. (Down the Goblin Hole)
  9. 4 Zombie Rotters, 2 Zombie Soldiers and 2 Gravehounds. Not necessarily from the adventure site - you never need a reason for zombies. (Dead by Dawn)
  10. A Hobgoblin Commander and 4 Hobgoblin Spear Soldiers are on their way back to Slaark's Crown. They aren't looking for a fight and if the party seems shifty enough might try to recruit them. (Slaark's Crown)
  11. A bound human rogue named Ames is being escorted by three Hobgoblin Deathwatchers from their lair to the Crossroads. He'll cry for help if he sees the party and promise a reward. He has nothing left. (The Crossroads)
  12. Bugs! Four Centipede Swarms are crawling forth from the old temple of Moradin to do gods know what. (The Crawling Fane)
  13. Erim Haverlam and his two sons are bound and being dragged along by 4 Kobold Quickblades and 4 Kobold Dragonshields. (Wayward Wyrmling)
  14. Death from above! 2 Goblin Bat Handlers riding Mutated Shadowhunter Bats swoop down on the party. (Glowstone Caverns)
  15. A Kenku Inciter, 5 Kenku Tribals and a Kenku Wing Mage are looking for someone to rob. The party may or may not seem like good pickings. They won't kill if they don't have to. (Stormcrow Tor)
  16. A Gnoll Huntmaster, a Gnoll Warfang and 2 Deathpledged Gnolls are leading two rust monsters to Vanguard Tower for sale. They don't want trouble. (Vanguard Tower)
  17. The encounter group from #8 in this list is fighting with the encounter group from #10. Slaark and Urgog do NOT get along.
  18. "The Penis is evil! The Penis shoots Seeds, and makes new Life to poison the Earth with a plague of men, as once it was. But the Gun shoots Death and purifies the Earth of the filth of Brutals. Go forth, and kill! Zardoz has spoken." (Head in the Clouds)
  19. 2 Slug Rabbits and 3 Tongue Wolves wander from their grove. (The Star Touched Grove, Dungeon 219)
  20. The Banites are collecting sacrifices. 1 Tainted Warpriest, 2 Tainted Scouts and 2 Warhounds are attacking a band of 4 Goblin Cutters. (Heart of the Scar & Down the Goblin Hole)

Monday, August 18, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Map

The following is a map of the Chaos Scar with all of the adventure locations on it. I'll admit to lifting the base map from here as it was a cleaner slate to work with.

A few notes:

  • If an adventure isn't listed, it is because it is a "could happen anywhere" adventure like 1h-Eyes in the Forest.
  • Some adventures use multiple locations, like 5a-The Slaver's Stone. These multiple locations are labeled but not keyed for that specific adventure.

Wilderness Travel

First have the party determine what route they are taking. They may take the direct route, they may choose to follow the road for a while first.

For simplicity's sake, assume the party can move 20 miles per day. As the challenge progresses this may be reduced - you can almost think of them as 20 movement points. Once the party has used their 20 miles the day is over and they must make camp or risk travel at night.

As the party travels along their path (or assumed path) use the following costs against their miles per day:
Road - No adjustment
Open ground - No adjustment but can become lost
Forest, small - Cost 2 miles to travel through; any forest square with open ground adjacent
Forest, large - Costs 3 miles to travel through; any forest square surrounded by other forest
Exploration Mode - Costs an additional mile to the normal travel rate; party is taking the time to thoroughly explore their surroundings
Stealth Mode - Costs an additional mile to the normal travel rate; party is taking the time to try and not be noticed

Getting Lost
It is assumed that the party has a map similar to the player's map handout so getting lost is really only an issue when they can't see their surroundings - in deep forest or at night. In these cases require a moderate Nature check each square traveled. A failure results in them going off course to the 1-3: left or 4-6: right. Once they are in a place where they can see clearly again, they can easily get back on course, though.

Encounters and Events
At 5, 10, 15 and 20miles roll 1d6. If the party is in Stealth mode, subtract 1 from the roll. If the party is in Exploration mode, add 1 to the roll but they gain surprise. Something exciting occurs on 5 or 6. The next part will detail wilderness events in the Scar.

Finding Things
If the party is in Exploration mode they automatically find any encounter location if they are in the square adjacent to it. Otherwise they need to enter that location's square in order to find it.

It is assumed the party are experienced enough adventurers to competently set up a camp with a watch in the wilderness. There are two event checks over the night. However a hard Nature check may allow their camp to be considered as being in Stealth mode for the check and a hard Endurance check allows a double watch that counts them in Exploration mode.

Travel at Night
If the party decides to travel at night they can get up to an additional 15 miles of movement. However for each 5 miles they use they must make an easy then moderate then hard Endurance check or lose a healing surge. They also lose the benefits of a long rest and can become lost. There is an event check each 5 miles.

Most of the heavy lifting here is going to occur in the Events section. What is important here is the currency the party uses, their miles or movement. Taking more time will give them more advantages with events and encounters but it will also subject them to more opportunities for things to happen.

Friday, August 15, 2014

The Chaos Scar - Introduction

There was a period of time where I was assembling "canned" campaigns to run at a moment's notice. These would consist of a series of modules that effectively formed a sort of adventure path. Some were obvious, like stringing together the original 3rd edition modules, and some took a bit more effort - or at least I put a bit more effort into it. An example would be taking a bunch of the good Necromancer Games modules like Crucible of Freya, Rappan Athuk and Tomb of Abythsor and then creating a region where they were all located (I didn't own Bard's Gate). I generally leaned towards sandboxy setup with a linked theme, in the previous example the cult of Orcus.

When I was getting ready to cut my teeth on 4th edition I decided to try and use ready made adventures first to get the hang of things. The Chaos Scar series of adventures in Dungeon Magazine fit how I liked to do things perfectly. I assembled the module, put together a homemade rumor table to get things and going and waited to be able to run a game. And I got to run it! For about four sessions before life got in the way. Since then I've been building on the concept and I thought I'd put it out there as a resource.

General Changes

The Chaos Scar is a neat idea but when you dig down into the adventures it is obvious some of them were pretty much shoehorned in. I've opted to make some changes to the adventures that will be detailed later, but in general this is what I've chosen to focus on:
  • The Chaos Shards - One of the optional campaign starts has the shards playing a more important role. A number of adventures have them inserted in order to tie them in closer to the Scar.
  • Chitteruk - A few cults appear once and are never heard from again. While this can make sense in a "evil is drawn here" sort of way, I prefer to keep things a bit tighter. In this case a few adventures have Chitteruk or some other imaginary voice coming from the Shosh-Gorag acting as their "god".
  • Voran Earthmane - Hey, two adventures reference him, why not more? It seemed a shame that his teleportation chamber only went one other place.
  • Kobolds - Damn there are a lot of kobolds in these adventures and most of them are break-offs from the Fireclaw clan. What is up with the Fireclaws that they keep losing people? Nothing really done with this, but it is a good hook for a homemade adventure.
  • Less Random People - Each adventure has a new NPC or three that needs help or offers a hook. Whenever possible I replace them with someone who already exists in another adventure or the keep itself.
  • Exploration - The adventures are written such that it is kind of assumed you just GO places. I've made sure each location is marked on the map and use exploration rules so that the PCs can just wander into the Scar and find stuff. Of course, just like in older editions, they may not be ready for what they find...
  • New Adventures - I grabbed a few more generic adventures from Dragon that seem to fit in with the Scar in order to pad out what is available.
  • Wellspring - Since the three Madness adventures (Touch of Madness, Depth of Madness, Brink of Madness) work well thematically, I've placed the town of Wellspring as the closest bastion of civilization.

The Adventures

And just so there is something useful in this post instead of me just blathering, here's a compiled list of all the Chaos Scar adventures along with the ones I'm including. All adventures have a level/letter code now for later reference.

1a - Stick in the Mud (Dungeon 171)
1b - Den of the Slavetakers (Dungeon 171)
1c - The Brothers Gray (Dungeon 172)
1d - Death in the Pincers (Dungeon 172)
1e - The Tainted Spiral (Dungeon 173)
1f - Some Assembly Required (Dungeon 208)
1g - A Chance Encounter (Dungeon 174)
1h - Eyes in the Forest (Dungeon 177)
1i - Elves of the Valley (Dungeon 178)
1j - Kobold Hall (DMG)

2a - Sliver's Call (Dungeon 174)
2b - The Shrine of the Galss-Spire Forest (Dungeon 175)
2c - Dead by Dawn (Dungeon 176)
2d - The Hammer Falls (Dungeon 179)
2e - Down the Goblin Hole (Dungeon 180)
2f - The Lost Library (Dungeon 173)
2g - The Crossroads (Dungeon 176)
2h - Slaark's Crown (Dungeon 220)

3a - The Crawling Fane (Dungeon 178)
3b - The Splintered Spring (Dungeon 179)
3c - The Wayward Wyrmling (Dungeon 182)
3d - Storm Tower (Dungeon 166)
3e - Fjorin's Foothold (Dungeon 209)

4a - Glowstone Caverns (Dungeon 177)
4b - The Pillar of Eyes (Dungeon 180)
4c - Vanguard Tower (Dungeon 182)
4d - Stormcrow Tor (Dungeon 169)
4e - Blood of Gruumsh (Dungeon 210)

5a - The Slaver's Stone (Dungeon 181)

6a - Rumble in the Valley (Dungeon 193)
6b - The Radiant Morn (Dungeon 183)

7a - Scarred for Life (Dungeon 192)
7b - Reflictions of Ruin (Dungeon 196)
7c - Head in the Clouds (Dungeon 184)
7d - Scarblade (Dungeon 189)
7e - Vainglorious (Dungeon 221)

8a - Pit of Delirium (Dungeon 190)
8b - The Runecutter's Ruin (Dungoen 186)
8c - The Star touched Grove (Dungeon 219)

9a - Heart of the Scar (Dungeon 197)