Archive for the ‘Heroic Tier’ Category

The Mad Troll

July 8, 2010 1 comment

Encounter Level 10 (2200xp)

This encounter is from my home game, and is one the party has when they go out to cause trouble for an approaching army. In essence through their actions and the actions of some NPCs that they are working with the initial plans of an Orc Chieftain have been foiled, and now as heroic tier comes to a climax they are faced with an army of orcs and other monsters approaching the town whose survival will secure the region the characters call home.  However this encounter could easily be tweaked for use as the start of something else because its opening scene should leave the party wondering what the orcs are looking for and why they are looking for it even as they battle.

Read aloud or paraphrase:

You have found what you seek, a patrol separated enough from the army that you can eliminate them without drawing a larger force to their aid. This patrol though is a little strange as they come into view through the trees, it is clear they are searching for something as a large orc leads a troll around on a heavy chain, and many other orcs scour the ground for something.


1 Scargath the Mad (Elite Troll Skirmisher)
1 Durosh’kan Bloodrager (Elite Orc Brute)
8 Orc Warrior (DDI)

  • For 4 PCs: Lower Scargath’s level by 1.
  • For 6 PCs: Add a Durosh’kan Bloodrager

Features of the Area:

Illumination: Encounter is assumed to happen during the day, and so is well-lit. Should the encounter happen at another time several of the orcs will be carrying sunrods to facilitate their search creating bright illumination.
Pool: Light blue areas are difficult terrain, dark blue areas are impassable except by swimming (DC10)
Mud: This dark brown area is difficult terrain. Creatures that end their turn in the mud become grabbed (Fort 17 Ref 20 for escape attempts).
Rocks: Are difficult terrain.
Ruined Wagon: is 5′ high and is impassable. However creatures may climb (DC10) or jump (standing DC50, running DC25) onto it and move over it, for which it is difficult terrain.  Creatures can crouch behind the wagon to gain total concealment. The Wagon provides superior cover to creatures adjacent to it from creatures on the opposite side of the wagon.
Tree Trunks: Are impassable and can provide superior cover.
Tree “Canopy”: Represents the area affected by the tree and its roots, and is difficult terrain.
Small Trees: Provide cover for creatures in their square and are difficult terrain.


The tactics are fairly simple, all the enemies essentially charge and try to engage a PC, with Scargath picking the closest PC initially, and the Bloodrager aiming for a striker or leader if apparent. The Warriors then scatter among the remaining PCs and try to help the Bloodrager and Scargath by providing flanks when possible, or making “Aid Another” attacks to add +2 to the attacks of the Bloodrager and Scargath.

Ending the Encounter:

The encounter ends when the Bloodrager and Scargath are dead, any remaining minions immediately flee at their fastest rate (provoking OAs if appropriate).

Categories: Heroic Tier

The Summoning of Castarprax

Encounter Level 6 (1325 xp)

Recently on twitter Chris Sims and a few others were talking about using Solos in encoutners, in particular looking to generate advice about such encounters. This encounter is a result of my pondering that, and also thinking about movies. It is unabashadly inspred by the first Tomb Raider movie and the Cambodian Temple scene (see here). In setting this encounter up it is structured here as a single level 6 encounter, however I recomend turning it into essentially 2 fights one with 4 Clay Scouts and 16 minions (yes that is a lot) followed immediately by the fight with Castarprax. This will bring the pressure of the Solo to bear much more, especially when he starts stealing surges!

The Basic Encounter

Read or paraphrase the following:

Chanting echoes through the temple as you race to stop the ritual, growing louder and more intense until as you open the last doors and look out into the room it reaches its crescendo. You, and the other priests stare in horror as the head priest’s flesh peels away flowing form his form into the grooves on the floor and then someone turns and sees you.

“They’ve come to stop us!”


2 Clay Scouts (DDI)
4 Archer Cultists (DDI)
4 Evil Cultists (DDI)
1 Castarprax – Angel of Valor Lost (See image below)

  • For 4 Playes remove a Clay Scout
  • For 6 Players add a Clay Scout and 2 of each minion.
  • The yellow sections of the map are 10′ above the grey sections and only accessible via the corner stairs. They also run a full 10′ wide (so over the alcoves on the ground level), but this was a little hard to show in a 2D map.

Features of the Area:

Illumination: Brightly illuminated.
Necrotic Pits: The black area surrounding the center of the room is a pit of nectoric energy. Charactrs falling or being pushed into the pit take 1d10 necrotic damage each round they are in the pit. It is an athletics DC10 check to climb from the pit once in it.
Wood Bridges: These unstable bridges are difficult terrain. A character may choose to ignore the difficult terrain by making an Acrobatics check DC15 (or DC20 if running) to walk or shift across the bridge without hinderance. Failing the check results in the character being tipped into the necrotic pit.
Alcoves: Provide cover to small creatures that enter them. Medium or larger creatures cannot fit into an alcove.
Stairs: Are difficult terrain to ascend or descend. Characters higher on the stairs have cover from characters lower on the stairs due to their spiral design.


The Evil Ritualists, and Archer Cultists attack as best they can, while the Clay Scouts will try and focus their attacks on a single character. The Evil Cultists will try and bull rush any characters that cross the bridge into the pits.

Castarprax only appears after 2 rounds, or when all the minions or clay scouts are dead, whichever happens first. Once he has appeared he will engage characters on the central island first, but will also destroy the bridges to make it harder for them to follow him, or get help from other PCs. He takes full advantage of his fly (hover) to put himself in positions where PCs cannot easily reach him with more than one character at a time.

Ending the Encounter

The encounter ends once Castarprax is dead, and he fights to the death, or the PCs flee.

Categories: Heroic Tier

Investigating the Fire

Encounter Level 4 (350 xp)

Skill Challenges are not supposed to stop the characters from progressing in the story but rather make it harder for them to do so if they are failed, and in this skill challenge it is important that the PCs gather all the information that is available, and so the question arrises of “why a skill challenge?”. The answer to that question lies in the fate of an NPC, and future effects on the game rather than on the initial outcome of the skill challenge. If the PCs succeed in this challenge an NPC’s life is saved, if they fail he is killed as the perpetrator and other events must transpire to reveal his innocence leaving the PCs (and other NPCs) to resolve their feelings over putting an innocent man to death, along with the actions of the NPCs allies in seeking revenge.

As with Something’s Burning! this skill challenge is adapted from the Paizo  3.5E adventure path Legacy of Fire and so only names and key facts are included to give direction on how to adapt the information from that module into a skill challenge. Being that this challenge is mostly one of talking to people it is heavily dependant on social skills, so this may result in only a few characters being good at achieving success during it, which may require your adjusting it for your party.

Investigating the Fire – Sill Challenge

Level: 2
Complexity: 2 (6 Successes before 3 Failures)
Special: This skill challenge is divided into scenes which can happen in any order theoretically, except the “Judgement” scene which must be last.

Scene 1 – The Burnt Wagon
Perception or Thievery (DC15): The character(s) search the wagon and learn that there are no obvious signs of a struggle, or of forced entry into the wagon.
Heal (DC20): The PC cannot find any signs of injury other than fire on Eloias’ body and can conclude the fire or smoke killed him.
Special: The characters can get 1 success from this scene. If they gain all the information they gain a +1 bonus to rolls in Scene 5 – Judgement.

Scene 2 – Questioning Almah
Special: Almah has authority over the PCs and cannot be intimidated, be sure to mae this clear to the characters before they start talking to her.
Diplomacy (DC12): The PCs are able to learn that Almah hired Eloias because having a “psychic” “felt right”. She readily reveals that she spent a lot of time with Eloias, and denies any romantic involvement with the man. She will also, should the PCs bring it up agree that the time she spent with Eloias could have made Dashki jealous.
Insight (DC 17) (No Success or Failure): The character realises there is more to what Almah has to say about Elioas than she has said so far. This allows the PCs to make more discrete enquiries.
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC17): The PCs convince, Almah one way or another of their trustworthiness and they are able to get her to reveal that Elioas’ readings had been becoming more grim of late and that the portents pointed to something called the Legacy of Fire.
Special: The characters can gain 1 success from this scene. Even if the PCs fail the DC12 Diplomacy check they should learn the information it reveals, if the check is failed though they get a -2 penalty on checks in Scene 5 – Judgement. If they succeed on the DC 17 Diplomacy or Bluff check they gain a +1 bonus in Scene 5 – Judgment.

Scene 3 – Dashki Knows Something
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC 12) (No Success): Dashki says he knows nothing about the fire, only protesting his innocence.
Insight (DC 12) (No Success): Dashki is hiding something from the PCs, his attitude is nervous a sure sign he knows something he isn’t saying.
Diplomacy or Bluff (DC 17) after Insight or Intimidate (DC17) at any stage: Dashki reveals his infatuation for Almah and that he was spying on her when the fire started. He is sure it was started by a creature called a Pugwumpis.
Special: The characters can earn 1 success from this scene. If the PCs succeed they gain a +1 bonus in Scene 5 – Judgment.

Scene 4 – Questioning the Camp Members

  • Camel Drivers: Nature or Diplomacy (DC17) (No Success) : They reveal or confirm Dashki’s infatuation with Almah and name him as prime suspect, along with revealing his past as a Gnoll Hunter.
  • Mercenaries: Streetwise or Bluff (DC12) (1 Success): They state they were all around the fire and that Dashi was not with them. If the PCs succeed by 5 or more than they reveal that they think Dashki was spying on Almah, and suggest he might have killed Eloias to remove competition for her hand.
  • Almah’s Guard: Diplomacy or Bluff (DC15) (1 Success): They were all busy doing their duty, but one recalls seeing Dashki trying to hide behind a nearby tree to get a look into Almah’s tent. This places him far from the wagon when the fire started.
  • Zastoran: Arcana, Religion or History (DC12) (1 Success): Impressed by the PCs knowledge  Zastoran reveals that he liked Eloias, and he has a low opinion of Dashki and believes Dashki is capable of the crime. He also confirms the Mercenary’s story that all 6 were at the camp fire, but that Dashi was missing.

Special: The PCs can earn a maximum of 2 success from this scene, and once they have done so cannot earn further failures. If the PCs gain all the information of this scene they gain a +2 bonus during Scene 5 – Judgement.

Scene 5 – Judgement
Special: The PCs can have a maximum of +5 to their rolls in this scene earnt through the other scenes.
Skills: Aracana, Bluff, Diplomacy, History, Religion and Streetwise can all be used at DC12 to argue the case. Thievery, Acrobatics and Athletics can be used at DC17 to create demonstrations.
During this scene the PCs make their case for the cause of the fire using the information they have gathered from the other scenes. As long as they have not accumulated 3 Failures they may continue to make their case until they have the 6 successes needed to succeed at the skill challenge. Once the PCs have either 6 total successes or 3 failures Garavel and Almah have made their decision about Dashki’s guilt, though the PCs should be allowed to finish making their case.

Ending the Challenge:

If the PCs succeed then they have proven Dashki innocent for the moment, and with nothing else to go on, they are asked to see if they can find the creatures Dashki names as responsible.

If they have failed at the skill challenge then Dashki is killed for the crime, only to be proven innocent when more ill befalls the camp due to the pugwumpis forcing the PCs to go and investigate them anyway. Further Dashki’s allies will come to take revenge for killing their brother.

Categories: Heroic Tier Tags: , ,

Madness of Malapraxith

Encounter Level 10 (2850xp)

Malapraxith was a proud young red dragon, he believed in the power of his own might based on his experience cowing lesser creatures, and even eating a few unwise adventurers. So when the opportunity to explore the Feywild presented itself he took the opportunity, figuring that it would give him a chance to establish a secret lair.

Alas that is not how Malapraxith’s venture into the Feywild transpired, instead the young dragon encountered a powerfull korred dancecaller by the name of Kriorince. Kriorince lured the dragon into her dance, and this has driven him insane. Then for reasons known only to her she returned the dragon to the Middle World along with his own “Court” to bring destruction into the world.

When the players enter the clearing read or paraprhase the following:

The path you have been following leads you into a clearing which slopes gently up to a ruined tower. In the ruined entrance to the tower the large form of a red dragon thrashes doing further damage to the ruin, about the clearing several eladrin caper the faces twisted in a terrible parody of delight. The strangeness of the scene is only heightened by the sight of two tents set nearby with a campfire around which sit several gnomelike figures with boots and caps of crimson.

Suddenly the dragon seems to notice you, and as it does you notice that its expression is also twisted beyond normal, but the malign hunger of that expression is still all to apparent!


3 Spriggan Powrie (On DDI)
6 Eladrin Blades of Winter (On DDI)
1 Malapraxith the Mad

  • For 4 PCs: Remove a Spriggan Powrie
  • For 6 PCs: Add a Spriggan Powerie and 2 Eladrin Blades of Winter

Features of the Area

Rubble, Trees and Tents: All three count as difficult terrain. Trees and tents also provide cover.

Pits: Malapraxith has dug pits through into the ruins below in his madness, it is a 20′ drop and there are no walls on the pit. However characters may move towards the stairs as if on normal terrain, and up the stairs (4 squares) as difficult terrain if they are unable to fly, jump or teleport out of the pit. (For the purpose of attacks a creature in the pit can only gain line of sight to creatures adjacent to the pit.)

The Pond: The dark blue square of the pond is impassable terrain to creatures without a swim speed or waterwalk. A creature can be pushed into that square but their movement stops when they enter it. All the other squares of the pond are difficult terrain to creatures without waterwalk.

The Fey Portal: The blue sigil on the floor is a Fey Passage that the Powries hold a key to activate.


The Eladrin, mostly, seek to attack so they create flanks and so that two of them attack the same enemy.

The Powries take advantage of the flanks created by the Eladrin or Malapraxith.

Malapraxith will try and start with his breath weapon, not caring if he incinerates allies in the process (so the Powries will hang back for him to engage), and then charge in and bite an enemy. He saves Frightful Presence and his second action point for when he is surrounded. Malapraxith should not always use the most optimal tactics due to his madness, play this up by using Mad Dance whenever it is available after the first round.

Ending the Encounter

The Eladrin fight to the death (should it somehow matter). Malapraxith may flee if you wish, but not before becoming bloodied.

The Powries (if alive) flee when Malapraxith dies (or flees), using their key to the Fey Portal to do so.

Depending on the demands of your game the Portal may be stable, or might fluctuate and only appear under certain conditions – conditions that happen to coinside with the demands of the game (of course) or perhaps the Powrie’s keys are “1 shot” items.

Cetainly PCs should be curious about such things and may well wish to investigate, thus bringing them into Kriorince’s realm in the Feywild.

Categories: Heroic Tier

Vengeance Served RED!

Encounter Level 10 (2400xp)

This encounter is drawn from one of my games, and it demonstrates a few ideas:

  • Sometimes the biggest thing isn’t the most dangerous.
  • Sometimes hiding in a building gets you a turn or two (or hide your minions to mess up the back ranks).
  • Using players as soccer balls is funny…  wait what?

To use this encounter you will need to make up your own reason for the players annoying the Spriggans and their Cyclops “Boss”. In my game the Spriggans are distributing a drug (Green Welcome from Vile Addiction Dungeon #145) and the PCs busted in and killed 8 gang members, so the “boss” decided to put a stop to that (with a bit of encouragement from an established villain of the campaign).

In my game this is the encounter as run with 4 7th level PCs. It was a “Big Boss” fight and they were at full capacity when it started – the cleric and paladin both went below 0HP and every character was bloodied at some stage.

Read or paraphrase the following:

It appears that the Spriggans are not going to wait for you to come to them again as they emerge from the buildings and sewers around you…

… and it isn’t just the Spriggans!


2x Spriggan Witherer (DDI)
2x Spriggan Powrie (DDI)
8x Human Lackey (DDI)
1x Cyclops Shaker

  • For 5 PCs: Add a Spriggan Powrie
  • For 6 PCs: Add a Spriggan Powrie (3 total) and a Spriggan Witherer (3 total).
  • PCs start in the northern most corridor “square”

Features of the Area

Stairs: The stairs are difficult terrain to ascend.
Smithy: The smithy is an open building that can be moved through by all. Inside the smithy are an array of items that the characters (or monsters) can use to distract each other with an Athletics or Acrobatics check.
Doorways: All of the buildings except the smithy have unlocked doors on them. Opening or closing a door is a minor action. All doors open inwards.


If the monsters win initiative they delay to allow the PCs to move into the area so they can maximise their effectiveness. Then the Powries try to move so they can get a flank, always starting with Hamstrung so they can follow-up with a Punt. The role of the Cyclops and the Minions is to then box the characters in the cyclops should take OAs to be able to get into the back ranks of the PCs if there are ranged PCs just hanging out at the back.

The Witherers should then use Flattering Wind to drive back any PCs that make a break for it, and target any upright PCs with Sun Scorch.

Ending the Encounter

Once all but 2 Spriggans are down, and those 2 are bloodied they should try to flee by escaping back down into the sewers. Otherwise the monsters fight to the death because this fight is all about vengeance!

Categories: Heroic Tier Tags: , ,

Something’s Burning!

April 11, 2010 2 comments

Encounter Level 2 (125xp)

Adapted from the Pathfinder Adventure Path: Legacy of Fire Part 1: Howl of the Carrion King.

The first “encounter” in this adventure path pits the PCs against a fire raging in a desert camp. This presents how I ran it for my 4E version of the game. For those with access to the adventure this should provide an example of how a set of 3E skill checks can be combined together to make a 4E style skill challenge (regardless of if you use this for 3E or 4E :))

Read or Paraphrase:

The central flap of an elaborate tent flies open and a regal woman who can only be Almah steps out into the firelit night.

“Douse that flame!” she shouts to the men surrounding the wagon before turning in your direction. “Ah, Garavel!” she says. “And just a moment later than the nick of time, as usual.” Looking specifically past her major domo and directly at the you, Almah barks out a simple order before running off toward the fire: “Find some way to help!”

Almah’s Orders – Skill Challenge

Level: 2
Complexity: 1 (4 Successes before 3 Failures)
Special: This skill challenge comprises of 4 tasks, of which only Putting Out the Fire and Moving the Wagon need to be successfully completed to complete the challenge, however allow the PCs the opportunity to gain a successwith each task even if they have finished the actual challenge. (See Success and Failure.)

  • Move the Closest Wagon (Primary Task)
    Athletics: (2 successes max) DC17 (Aid Another Possible)
    Endurance: (required to earn a second success with Athletics, no successes) (DC10)
    Four burly mercenaries struggle with an enclosed wooden wagon within feet of the burning wagon, hoping to move it to safety before an errant spark causes it too to burst into flame. It takes 2 success to move it completely to safety.
  • Put Out the Fire (Primary Task)
    Acrobatics or Theivery: (2 successes max) DC 12
    Endurance: (required to earn a second success with Acrobatics or Thievery, no successes) (DC10)
    Special: Prestidigation can be used in place of the Endurance.
    Almah, Garavel, and four soldiers dressed in the distinctive red chitin-plate armor of the Pactmaster Guard run back and forth between the burning fortune teller’s wagon and an uncovered wagon about 20 feet away. The latter contains a huge barrel holding enough drinking water to serve the entire campsite for a week.
  • Heal Wounded Firefighters (SecondaryTask)
    Heal: DC15 (1 Success)
    Special: Any power that grants healing can be used in place of the Heal check to gain 1 success.
    A red-headed halfling cleric, Father Zastoran, kneels next to two severely burned mercenaries who tried to enter the burning wagon. Father Zastoran is tending to a badly wounded mercenary called Trevvis, but he is unable to focus on his second patient, a female sworder named Kallien, who lies near death from terrible burns and smoke inhalation.
  • Deal with Frightened Animals (SecondaryTask)
    Nature: DC 12 (1 Success)
    A modest collection of pigs, goats, and sheep accompanies Almah’s party on the journey to Kelmarane. The flaming wagon has unsettled these creatures, which somehow escaped from their pen in the confusion surrounding the fire’s outbreak. The middleaged human camel driver and his wife do their best to wrangle the panicking animals, but their efforts are quickly being overrun by the chaos of the situation.


  • Primary success is in putting out the fire and ensuring it does not spread to the other wagon. Achieving these goals are all that is required to impress Almah and Garavel the two most important figures in the caravan. If the characters achieve success with these two tasks they gain a +2 circumstance bonus for social skill checks with Almah and Garavel until the end of the next encounter.
  • Secondary success if the characters also heal the mercenary and round up the animals they impress the other members of the camp as well. If they healed the mercenary they gain a +2 bonus for social checks when dealing with them until the end of the next encounter, and similarly if they rounded up the animals they get a +2 bonus for dealing with the other commoners.


  • Total Failure: the PCs gain no success before 3 failures. The Fire burns out of control and much of the caravans resources are damaged, and the party is banished for the incompetence leaving them at the mercy of the pugwumpis.
  • Primary Failure Only: The PCs are unable to save the second wagon and so are not trusted to investigate the fire. However the most likely suspect comes to them and begs them to investigate the pugwumpis and prove him innocent. Doing so is their only chance at redemption in the eyes of Almah (and thus Garavel).
  • Secondary Failure Only: While Almah and Garavel are pleased with the PCs the other members of the expedition no longer trust them. They suffer a -2 to all social  checks with the mercenaries and commoners until they can prove their worth to the mercenaries and commoners.

Ending the Encounter

The Encounter ends once the PCs have achieved three failures or all the possible successes (or they decide they no longer want to help!). It is possible for the PCs to have varying degrees of success in this encounter and playing up that will make it easier for the next encounter – the Fire Investigation Skill Challenge (which I need to create).

Categories: Heroic Tier

In the Swamp the Undead Come…

Encounter level 3 (724xp)

Sorry didn’t go back and do the battle skill challenge for the last encounter. Instead I present the current encounter from one of my play-by-post games.

The PCs are exploring an undead infested swamp in search of herbs and while they have managed to avoid the truely dangerous undead some of the lesser undead fall upon them.
Read or phrase the following to start the encounter:
Shadowy forms come through the rain as the lightning cracks over head illuminating those at the front, and the only thing you can be sure of is that there are more of them than there are of you…


2x Corruption Corpse (CC)
2x Hobgoblin Soldier Zombie (HGZ)
4x Drowned One (DO)

  • To build this encounter feel free to bring in 4 more drowned ones whenever there is one or less of them left! (Until all the non-minions are defeated at least :))
  • For 4 PCs: Remove a Corruption Corpse
  • For 6 PCs: Add a Hobgoblin Soldier Zombie
  • WotC Dungeon Tilesets needed: 2x Sinister Woods, 1x Ruins of the Wild

Features of the Area

Illumination: Normal Light (see The Storm).
Sodden Ground: Even the ground that passes for solid in the swamp does not create the most certain footing. Creatures that run or move more than 4 squares in a turn must make an Acrobatics (DC10) check to keep their feet.
Water Pools: These pools are far deeper than they appear (DC15 Perception to notice their depth). Creatures without a swim speed that enter these pools fall prone and must make an athletics check to swim to gain the surface and get out of the pool. If a zombie falls (or is pushed) in they simply walk out, treating the pools as difficult terrain!
The Storm: Due to the heavy rain creatures more than 4 squares away have concealment, and creatures more than 8 squares away have total concealment.


The zombies tactics are very simple, attack the closest person. Only the Hobgoblin Zombies make any attempt to work with another creature, they make some effort to gain the benefit of their Phalanx ability. The Corruption Corpses will stay at range to use their ranged attacks, until the PCs finally move to engage them in melee.

Ending the Encounter

The undead do not stop attacking until they are all dead. If you take the option to keep adding Drowned Ones (because minions in waves are better) they should stop appearing once all the standard monsters are dead.

Should the PCs flee the undead will pursue them slowly but surely through the swamp, which should give the PCs pause.


This encounter was originally just planned to “happen in the swamp” then a player asked if he could gain his next magic item by his current weapon being struck by lightning during a fight – this is the origin of the storm. You could use this idea to enhance the fight and have another way of awarding a treasure item. 🙂

Categories: Heroic Tier Tags: , ,