4Ward/FrankenFourth: Keep on the Shadowfell, Episodes 4 & 5

  • Emery (3rd-level hearth kobold cleric)
  • Murtaugh (3rd-level tarchon dragon sorcerer)
  • Rig (3rd-level human warlord)

(Abridged) Summary
Over the course of a couple days, the party finished clearing out the orc nest. In the process they rescued about a dozen villagers, discovered a stone portal to the Abyss, and fled from a demon that emerged from said portal (luckily it was too big to pursue them through an underwater passage).

For their efforts, Lord Padraig awarded them a handful of gold pieces (and since FrankenFourth uses a silver standard it was a bigger deal than you might expect). There was still the matter of Shadowfell Keep, so they stocked up on some additional supplies (including several potions), learned what they could from the sage Valthrun, recruited a few able-bodied men, and ventured north.

While exploring the castle grounds, they exterminated a nest of giant centipedes (yeah, I'm mostly going off my 5th Edition conversion notes), smashed a few skeletons, and beat up a small group of cultists that arrived to investigate all the noise.

The surviving cultist tried to claim that they were merely travelers, but he didn't know that the others had summoned skeletons after he got knocked out. So, under threat of Murtaugh devouring him, he told them about a portal in the catacombs, and that they were close to opening it. When the party asked how to get into the catacombs he pointed them toward the stables, which they didn't realize was filled with animated horse skeletons until well after the soldiers had escorted him back to Winterhaven.

The party destroyed the horse skeletons, albeit barely, and when they didn't find any sort of entrance continued exploring the ruins. They found a few buildings that the cultists were obviously squatting in, a barracks filled with more skeletons, and a surprisingly intact chapel. In the chapel they ran into a skeleton that was not only far better equipped than the others, but could speak. They learned that he had been trying to wipe out the cult, but they had placed necromantic wards to imprison him.

Unfortunately he could not rest until his task was complete, and when the party explained that that's also why they had come, he bequeathed to them his holy blade, Aecris, and revealed to them a hidden staircase that lead into the catacombs. He also permitted them to rest in the chapel if need be, vowing to watch over and keep them safe from harm.

Design Notes
After three levels the party has finally discovered their first magic item! Aecris is basically a holy sword that can deal normal damage to demons and undead. Maybe it's all the magic items I've written for Dungeon World, but I hadn't thought about making it a +1 sword. Of course given FrankenFourth's flat math I don't think static bonuses to weapons or armor will be necessary, but we'll see how it goes.

Almost done with Keep on the Shadowfell for like the billionth time, and then I'll finally get a chance to run my heavily modded version of Thunderspire Labyrinth. Depending on how that goes, I'll either get to work on modding Pyramid of Shadows, or maybe start up a new campaign with Epiro, or my setting in which the husks of ancient Cthulhu gods orbit the world, perpetually raining their spawn down upon it.

Adam thinks that the Slayer tree is too good, something I'm inclined to agree with. Previously it granted a +1 damage bonus when making melee attacks, +2 with two-handed weapons, while rank 2 doubled both values. As per Dungeons & Delvers, I'm changing it back to +1 and +2 damage, but only when wielding a two-handed weapons (which provides another incentive to use a two-hander, as opposed to a shield).

Adam also wants to essentially multiclass into paladin. Even though the Essentials cavalier is fucking awesome, I'm still gonna dig through various editions for some more ideas. I suppose if all else fails I could mod the cleric's Favor mechanic (though I'd like to avoid it being a fighter/cleric combo by another name).

Despite only having 18 Wound Points and 0 Armor, skeletal horses are pretty badass.

I'm considering changing short rests yet again. In the Age of Worms campaign they're only 10 minutes, but I'm thinking of increasing it so that you need to spend 30 minutes, which means in a typical dungeon the GM would check for random encounters 2-3 times, making it riskier.

I'm also considering having them restore a random amount of Vitality each time, further increasing the risk factor (yet still being a bit easier than other editions). Classes would have something like a recovery die in line with Hit Dice from prior editions (d4 for wizards, d8 for clerics, d10 for fighters, etc), possibly with a bonus based on Constitution or other talents (so classes like fighters and barbarians could regain a bunch).

A Sundered World is out (and also available in dead-tree format)! If you for some reason don't want the entire setting, you can just snag the races and classes.

The Gunner is locked and loaded.

Sunken Treasures has been dredged up from the depths!

Lichfield is available for public consumption. If you want a concise adventure with a Silent Hill feel, be sure to check it out! Primordial Machine is also out, so if you want to catch a glimpse of A Sundered World, now's your chance! Finally, we've updated If These Stones Could Scream.

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