Posted by : David Guyll April 16, 2011
Or more specifically, the stat blocks and treasure.
So far the flavor bits of the adventure can be used as-is. Granted, there are plenty of instances where characters will be able to interact with NPCs, but any skill DCs can be determined on the fly fairly quickly and easily thanks to page 42. Really, the trick was to find a good starting level so that they could be challenged, while being able to handle Strahd without suspending too much disbelief. The adventure is pegged for level 5 or higher characters, and with the prevalence of werewolves and ghouls, this ended up working out pretty well as far as 4E's concerned. The goal is that if the players go through all the motions, that they should just hit 11th-level by the time they have to face off against Strahd for the last time.
The first part of the game has the players arriving at Barovia just in time for the local zombie migration. The encounter process is pretty straightfoward here, literally; the players run into zombies, then run into more zombies, and finally run into zombies being fought by a NPC. Now, since this is the first string of encounters, I'm actually alright with it being a simple variation of a theme. However, I'd like to make things a bit more interesting by having zombies in the second encounter breaking into a building with some villagers, giving the heroes the chance to, well, act heroic (as well as garner some bonus XP and potentially cash in the process).
E1: Zombie Street Ambush
This encounter takes place on one of the major streets that run through Barovia, so it will be fairly wide with some narrower alleys. Typically for the first encounter I like to take things slow and go a little easy on the gang, so it'll consist of some basic level 5 zombies that have a disease for characters that they hit. The disease is similar to filth fever, except characters that die turn into infected zombies.
While the original encounter featured carcass eaters and an infected deathlock, I'm just going to introduce a dire maggot swarm (level 6 brute) in one of the alleys that won't do much to harass the players if they simply ignore it and let it keep eating. If anyone gets to close (living creature or zombie), then they're fair game. Hopefully, this will add another level of tactical complexity to the battle.
Encounter Level 6 (1,200 XP)
- 5 infected zombies (level 5 brute)
- 1 dire maggot swarm
Features of the Area
Doors: The doors are made of wood, and barricaded from the other side. A Hard DC Strength check is required to force them.
Cart: There's an overturned cart in the middle of the street. It can be used as cover, and be climbed with an Easy DC Athletics check. It's broken, but can be repaired after the fight.
Treasure: There's no treasure listed for this encounter, and logically I don't see a reason to place any, so I'll leave it at that for now. If I need to, I can always come back and place some cash or jewelry to help round things out a bit.
E2: Zombie Street Encounter
More zombies and, for some reason...vargouilles? I had to actually reference D&D Compendium to see if they're even in 4th Edition. Thankfully they aren't, and since they seem wildly out of place I'm just going to ignore them. Instead, I'll mix things up a bit by adding a few corruption corpses to the mix. Otherwise, the layout is pretty similar to the first fight, except that the overturned wagon could help defend the heroes from the corruption corpses (which is another reason I bumped their level).
Encounter Level 6 (1,400 XP)
- 4 infected zombies
- 2 corruption corpses (leveled up to 5)
- 1 dire maggot swarm
Same as before with doors and wagons and what-not, except that there's a few dead bodies scattered about.
Corpses: The dire maggot swarm is busy chowing down on one of these. Corpses are just difficult terrain, though one of them has some papers revealing him to be a carpenter named Viktor Litmunova (probably contracts). The players can hunt down his family after things have quieted down for minor quest XP, and perhaps a small reward as well (though in my experience my group typically shoots down both money offered by NPCs, and/or gives them some cash).
E3: Zombies in Town Square
This is where the heroes meet up with Ashlyn, a member of the Lightbringers, who is busy hacking apart a bunch of undead. I'm going to write up a companion card to give one of the players, so that I can focus just on the monsters and not playing against myself. She's level 5 in the original adventure, and I see no reason to change that here. In the interesting of kicking things up a notch, this encounter will give the zombies four ways to approach, with barricades that can slow them down.
Encounter Level 8 (3,484 XP)
- 24 infected zombie rotters (level 6 minion brute)
- 6 infected zombies
- 3 corruption corpses (level 5 artillery)
- 1 skeletal necromancer (level 6 controller-leader)
This encounter requires some attention from the DM: if things go too easily, add more zombies. If the players are having a difficult time, pull things back a bit and give them some time to recuperate. If things get really bad, have Ashlyn roll out lay on hands and/or offer up some potions of healing. Remember to divide the XP with her as well, cause she'll probably be really useful.
That's it for part 1. I'm busy putting this all into a word document that I'll covert to pdf later for download. For part 2 I'll deal with the rest of the village encounters.