April 25, 2012
Ever since 5th Edition was announced I have not paid much attention to Dragon or Dungeon, largely because the sparse offerings really have not interested me until now. I'm a pretty big fan of Aeryn's work, so figured I would give it a shout out.
Death and Taxes is basically an extended encounter--part social interaction and part combat challenge--in which the characters need to avoid being tricked by a treacherous knight, using the tried and true method of "pretend you need help with your wagon, and then ambush the shit out of would-be helpers".
The social role-playing part, while not a skill challenge, gives the characters a chance to figure out that something is amiss and avoid being surprised (which also affects creature placement on the map). Characters with any emphasis on History, Insight, and Perception will really shine here, and while there is not any advice on using other skills I would highly recommend allowing players to creatively use skills to figure stuff out.
The rest of the encounter is a pretty tough fight, partially because its 2-3 levels higher than the recommended adventure level, but also because the enemies have the terrain advantage. On the bright side, if Sir Tyros is taken down then there is a chance that some of his allies will flee (though the non-minions try to leg it anyway when bloodied).
The haul at the end is pretty nice, totaling about half the total treasure that a level 5 party is expected to get, and as an added bonus there are three hooks for expanding the adventure.
Not bad for a "side trek".