New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

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capnskillet7
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New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 »

I finally started a 5th edition campaign using the Reavers of Harkenwold adventure from the 4e DM Kit. I had three players show up for session zero, with one unable to make it but hopefully joining next session. As expected with a session zero, we spent most of our time creating characters and talking about the setting and how to tie character backgrounds into the story. These three players are ages 16, 18, and 20, and they did a great job with creativity and roleplay once we actually started playing.

In the story, the characters all grew up in Albridge, so they know each other and many of the citizens of the area. Once they reached adulthood, they all decided to set out on their own adventures. About five years after leaving home, they each received messages that things were bad back home. A gang of mercenaries had come in suddenly and had taken over the town, forcing people to pay more taxes and hurting or killing those who refused to fall in line. The local militia tried to repel them, but they stood no chance, and many lost their lives, including one of the PCs father. So let's meet the player characters.

Our first character is named Cidious, a half-elf rogue. He was born a prince of a far off country (to be worked out later), but an empire came in and began to take over his homeland, killing most of the royalty. His family managed to smuggle him out when he was still a child and get him on a ship off to the lands of Nerath, where he ended up in the Barony of Harkenwold in the care of a gang of thieves. While he learned the trade himself, he was mostly a good natured lad, causing mischief but not hurting anyone. The other party members enjoyed getting into trouble with him as children and teens. One day, Cidious learned that his master had plotted to assassinate the Baron of Harkenwold and move his gang into control of the Barony. Knowing that the Baron was a good man and that his master was somewhat cruel, he got up one night while everyone was asleep and killed every single one of them, Itachi Uchiha style. He then fled the barony, hoping that those he left behind would be better, only telling his most trusted friends where to contact him. Everyone else assumed he died with the rest of them.

Second, we have Ifrit Flameforge, a mountain dwarf fighter. His family were all miners, and when he was younger, most of his family was killed when they delved too deeply in a mine and encountered terrible monsters from the underdark. At that point, Ifrit decided to stay away from mining and take up a different trade. The dwarven smith in Albridge, Kathrid, being friends of his family took Ifrit in as an adopted son and apprentice smith. When he grew older, Kathrid told him that if he wanted to truly refine his craft, that he should go to Hammerfast, where Kathrid lived as a younger lass. So Ifrit went and joined a guild in Hammerfast, learning his trade as a smith.

Finally, the third character is an elf ranger named Vrael. He actually chose high elf instead of wood elf, because he wanted the cantrip option. He said his family were city elves, but he always preferred the outdoors. He spent a lot of time in the wilderness growing up, learning to hunt and survive. He often visited Reithann the druid at her cabin, learning the wisdom of appreciating nature and all it offered. When he was old enough, and his friends mostly left town, he decided to leave the barony and travel througout the Nentir Vale. He learned to avoid goblin ambushes, avoid the ire of wild beasts, and survive off the land. However, he always let his family know where he would be if they needed him. The news reached him that his father had died defending Albridge from the mercenaries, so he met up with his two friends to see what could be done.

After we made characters, we had time left so we began play. I started with the encounter at Ilyana's cabin. I told the players that their characters would have known Ilyana, that she and her family lived just north of town and owned a farm there. They often came to town to trade, and her oldest son looked up to the party members. When they saw the smoke rising from near her cabin, they of course investigated quickly. The ranger and rogue both managed to sneak around to the sides of the fence surrounding the cabin, while the dwarf simply stomped right up to the gate in his rattling armor, knocking loudly on the door with his hammer.

As they approached, I described them hearing a loud, gruff voice demanding more taxes, while a woman from inside was begging them to go away. The man at the door was holding a torch, threatening to burn down the cabin like he did the outhouse if they didn't pay up. The ranger said he wanted to ready his bow to shoot the arm of the thug if he began to move it forward to throw the torch. The rogue meanwhile wanted to sneak closer, but unfortunately the wolf smelled him. The dwarf, as I said, walked right up to the gate and knocked. The second thug, standing at the gate, aimed a crossbow at him, saying, "Move along you! This is Iron Circle business!"

Just then, the thug at the door said, "Alright, I warned you!" and made a move to throw the torch. The ranger rolled to hit on his readied action, which did hit. He rolled max damage on his d8, getting a total of 12 damage! These bandits have 11 hit points! I told him, "Your arrow missed his arm, but instead it went straight through his head, and he falls over dead." The whole table loved that. Initiative was rolled, and the players all rolled higher than the bandits and wolf. The fight was over almost as soon as it had begun. I only put two bandits and a wolf against them, and they didn't stand a chance, especially with the preemptive strike from the ranger. But everyone loved it, and I want them to start feeling like heroes early.

Ilyana was grateful of course, and her boys were excited to see these heroes show up. They actually gave the gold and equipment to Ilyana and the boys, learning that her husband had passed away a couple of years back. There was great roleplay in the boys asking their mom if they could have weapons, and the dwarf charging the oldest son with being the man of the house and protecting his family. I have a feeling this 15 year old might pledge service to them later in the campaign, when they have their own stronghold and such.

They learned about Dar Gremath leading a resistance and Reithann the druid also trying to help gather allies. They decided to see Reithann first, since the ranger was already friends with her. Also, the druid grove is on the way to town, and they thought it best to not reveal they had returned just yet. As they entered the small patch of forest leading to the druid's cabin, they were accosted by goblins. Another fight ensued, in which the rogue took a pretty hard hit, but other than that, the four goblins were dispatched. I rolled very poorly the whole session, but I am okay with that because the players had a blast.

After that fight, we called it a day, and we will pick up next time with their meeting with Reithann, in which they will learn about the Bullywugs harassing the people of Tor's Hold. As soon as we were done, everyone said, "That was a lot of fun!" I also had a lot of fun. These are mostly new players, so I had to remind them of a lot of things, but I do not mind that at all. I sometimes prefer newer players, because they are not trying to game the system yet. They are just having fun playing their characters. I have a fourth player coming in at some point, so I will have to decide how he joins. Overall, it was a wonderful session and I look forward to next week!

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

It's awesome to see Nentir Vale getting some love! I really enjoyed this adventure, and I'm glad it's off to a good start with your group. Thank you for keeping us posted.

Did you run into any challenges running this using 5e?

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Zeromaru X »

I'm with Tim. It's good to see the Nentir Vale get some love. If you need help with anything, just ask.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 »

Tim Baker wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:08 pm
It's awesome to see Nentir Vale getting some love! I really enjoyed this adventure, and I'm glad it's off to a good start with your group. Thank you for keeping us posted.

Did you run into any challenges running this using 5e?
So far I have had no issues. I used two bandits and a wolf for the encounter at the cabin. The group did so well they could have handled more of a challenge, but sometimes the dice can go the other way. I just threw in the goblin encounter on their way to the druid so they would have more practice in combat, and I wanted to introduce the Daggerburg goblins as a threat. Plus I wanted to prepare more for their meeting with Reithann. I figured they would want to go home to the town first, but as usual, the players did the unexpected. Obviously we are still extremely early in the process, but I have figured out that any good story will transition into 5e. I have had about three years experience as a 5th edition DM now, so I am fairly proficient at modifying encounters on the fly if needed.

We ran the Ilyana's cabin encounter using the actual physical map using tokens, but we did the goblins in the grove with theater of the mind, and both went fine. I am planning on having them level up by milestones. One player did not make the first session and one of the others has to leave for a whole month during the summer, but I would rather keep them the same level. My plan was to level to 2 after doing the Ilyana's cabin encounter, meeting with Dar Gremath, and then facing off against Iron Circle in the Albridge tavern. But since they are going to Reithann first, they might then go to Tor's Hold or even straight to the Toadwallow cavern. I feel like they need to be at least level 2 to handle the caverns, so I will probably go ahead and let them level before going there. I may throw in a random encounter with bullywugs carrying a prisoner on the way.

I am always open to suggestions, and I plan to continue chronicling my adventure in this post. Thanks for the feedback!

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

capnskillet7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:00 pm
I am always open to suggestions. . . .
Sounds like the group is having fun and you've got a game plan for the early encounters, which will help. Keep doing what you're doing!
capnskillet7 wrote:
Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:00 pm
I plan to continue chronicling my adventure in this post.
Glad to hear it. Happy gaming!

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Veilheim »

So I too am busy running a Reavers campaign in Harkenwold, but I've expanded it's scope significantly -- through a combination of Dragon/Dungeon articles, the fine work of Zeromaru X, and me wanting Reavers to be a full campaign. At this point, the group is moving into their third session dealing with the Bullywug threat in hopes of securing help from Tor's Hold in defeating the IC. They've made allies of a very small group of kobolds, who can help them infiltrate the bullywug caves -- but little do they know the 'wugs have spontaneously generated in response to a Froghemoth inhabiting the caves. Alone, they haven't got a prayer... but the caves run deep here and there are other potential allies in their fight they can make under the surface of Nentir Vale. In my Reavers, the Wugs aren't allied with the IC as much as they are just awful, selfish, horrid creatures who are keeping Tor's Hold from doing anything but protecting itself.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Big Mac »

I never heard of Reavers of Harkenwold before. (I didn't realise there was an adventure hidden in the Dungeon Master's Kit. I guess it makes a lot more sense to include an adventure than a DMs Screen.)

I know Essentials is mid-way through the 4e product line (and a semi-upgrade/reboot). How are you finding the treatment of Nentir Vale (as a setting) compared to earlier 4e products?

Is Reavers of Harkenwold a stronger Nentir Vale product, for coming later in the 4e Era? Does it build on canon from earlier products?

Or is there any indication that WotC was trying to make Reavers of Harkenwold a more generic thing (that could maybe also work with Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun)?

How much rebooting are you having to do (to tie into your own campaign ideas, the 5e rules and any other books you have decided to use)?
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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Gord »

This sounds like fun. I've just started a new campaign using 5e in the Nentir Vale myself but am still figuring out where to go with it as I've had most of the players as a 4e group going through Reavers, Winterhaven and and then as a 5e group that ended up in Hammerfast. This will be 10 years later.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:44 pm
Is Reavers of Harkenwold a stronger Nentir Vale product, for coming later in the 4e Era? Does it build on canon from earlier products?
I don't think Reavers of Harkenwold is a strong adventure due to it building on the prior canon, so much as WotC doing a better job of figuring out how to build adventures based on D&D 4e's strength. By this point, they've figured out how to incorporate skill challenges more smoothly into their adventure design, for example. They use set piece, cinematic encounters more like scenes in a movie that push the plot forward, rather than for dungeon delves. This is largely a sandbox that allows the PCs to decide what problems they want to solve and in what order, rather than a linear plot. Those elements combine to make a really solid adventure.
Big Mac wrote:
Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:44 pm
Or is there any indication that WotC was trying to make Reavers of Harkenwold a more generic thing (that could maybe also work with Forgotten Realms and Dark Sun)?
Reavers of Harkenwold is firmly in Nentir Vale. The story spans roughly the southeast quadrant of the Nentir Vale setting map. Nonetheless, since Nentir Vale itself was created to be easily dropped into your setting of choice, it isn't so deeply tied into the larger Nerath lore that you'd have trouble moving it to other "standard fantasy" settings. And by that, I mean that you'd likely find a spot for it in the Realms, but might struggle to run this in Ravenloft.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

Gord wrote:
Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:33 am
This sounds like fun. I've just started a new campaign using 5e in the Nentir Vale myself but am still figuring out where to go with it as I've had most of the players as a 4e group going through Reavers, Winterhaven and and then as a 5e group that ended up in Hammerfast. This will be 10 years later.
That's a great idea. Early this year, my long-ago DM from our D&D 4e days picked up the campaign that heavily featured Reavers of Harkenwold. Seven years have passed, both in-game and out. We switched to 13th Age, which does a great job of capturing that Paragon Tier feel.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

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We finally returned to this campaign after a 7 month break. I also did not make any more posts after my first one about the adventure, so I will post a summary here. I welcome any questions on changes I made from the original adventure.

When last we left our heroes...

After a few years away, three adventurers returned to the barony of Harkenwold to discover that a group of mercenaries calling themselves the Iron Circle had taken over the barony. Ignis the dwarf, Cidious the half-elf, and Vrael the elf met near the King's Road to travel to their home town of Albridge. They came upon a group of rogues harassing a woman named Ariyana at her home. They knew Ariyana growing up, and they saw that the bandits had already burned her storage building and were threatening to burn her home with her in it. The party ambushed the bandits, killing them and their pet wolf.

They learned from Ariyana that these bandits were actually part of a mercenary organization called the Iron Circle, who had recently moved into the barony of Harkenwold and taken over the town of Harken, imprisoning the baron, and had now spread their influence throughout the barony. They controlled trade routes and demanded heavy taxes in exchange for their "protection." She told the party that the old retired soldier Dar Gremath was trying to put together a resistance, and the druid Reithann who lived in the nearby forest was also aiding him. The party decided not to return to town yet, but to visit Reithann and try to learn more.

After a brief encounter with goblins, the party reached Reithann's cabin, where they found she was treating an injured half-elf. This was Rodigan, another of their friends from Albridge, a strange character who had magical abilities, but no one was sure where he got them. Reithann told the adventurers that they wanted to fight back and retake their towns, but the iron circle had over 200 well-armed fighters. They would need to combine the efforts of all the local towns and seek as many allies as possible. She said that most importantly, the veteran warriors of Tor's Hold would prove valuable allies, as would the Woodsinger Elves who lived in Harken Forest.

The party decided first to visit Tor's Hold. On the way, they came across a skirmish between human fighters and strange frog people. They aided the human fighters of Tor's Hold, where they visited Bran Torsson, the village elder. After a drinking contest, and swapping stories, Bran told the heroes that if they were willing to help him deal with the Bullywug's chieftain in a nearby cave, he would devote a unit of fifty strong men and women from Tor's Hold to fight against the Iron Circle. That night, the rogue Cidious went missing, and the party found a note saying he had business to attend, but they realized it was not in his handwriting. With no tracks to follow, they could only hope he was okay and continue to the Bullywug cave. (The player of Cidious went away to a summer camp the rest of the summer, so I needed an out for him to leave.)

The party used some of the warriors of Tor's Hold as a distraction to lure out a lot of the Bullywugs while they infiltrated the cave, killing its inhabitants including the Chief. Ifrit the dwarf took the bullywug's magical hammer, and the warlock Rodigan took his spear, which was made from a black dragon's tooth. Grateful for their help, Bran agreed to dedicate a unit of soldiers to their cause against the Iron Circle. They decided then to visit Albridge to let Dar Gremath know of their success and see what else needed to be done to help.

In town, Dar Gremath was grateful to see that they had returned and wanted to help. He said they needed supplies and weapons, and that his spies knew a wagon of supplies would soon be traveling from Harken to Albridge, but it was going to be used to better arm the thugs of the Iron Circle who were in Albridge. So the party ambushed the wagon, but they found themselves facing an Iron circle spellcaster with an imp familiar. This was the first sign that the Iron Circle was not just a collection of thugs and bandits but that something more sinister was behind their efforts. They took the wagon, but the Iron Circle warlock, a woman named Faris, escaped. They went across open country to the town of Dardun, where they unloaded the supplies and stayed the night.

They thought it best to go into hiding, since the Iron Circle would now know their involvement, and that would be a good time to talk to the Woodsinger Elves. They learned that a group of drow elves had moved into the nearby ruins of Dal Nystere and were causing problems for the elves. Elriyel, the leader of this unit of elves would not commit her forces to help while the drow lived. The party agreed to investigate the ruins and try to do something about the drow problem. This is where things got very interesting.

The warlock wanted to make allies of the drow against the Iron Circle, and the party tentatively agreed with him. Rodigan was able to convince the drow scout near the entrance of the ruins that they had come as allies and wanted their help against the Iron Circle. They learned that the drow had lost their way back to their home city in the Underdark due to a cave in a few months back. The dwarf said he knew of many tunnels in the area that would likely lead them back. With some good rolls, they convinced the drow to take them to their leader, Vhaelor who was in the ruins. They saw that the drow had actually refurbished much of the place, making it into their home over the past few months. Vhaelor listened to their proposal and then told his men to bring out the prisoners.

There was a halfling family composed of a father, mother, and a son. There was also a half-elf, who is a new player character named Akeron, a valor bard. Vhaelor said, "If you want to prove your loyalty to us, then execute these prisoners and we can come to an agreement." The last summer session ended on that cliffhanger, and we finally picked it back up this past week. At the moment the party was trying to decide what to do, another drow ran in from outside, flashing hand signs at Vhaelor. He then ordered most of the other drow to go with the scout, saying they were under attack. That left the party with Vhaelor and three other drow.

Rodigan the warlock was considering possibly killing one of the prisoners or talking his way out, but Vrael made a move toward the door, which started initiative. What followed was a very chaotic fight, with Rodigan successfully charming one of the drow and convincing him his friend was a traitor. They killed two of the drow and knocked Vhaelor unconscious. They also knocked the charmed drow unconscious and tied up both of them. After the battle, a young human man with long black hair came from above. He introduced himself as Vincent Gravelstoke.

He said that he had come to the party because he had a certain half-elf named Cidious in his custody, having taken him in the night a couple of days before. The party wanted to know why he did that, and Vincent said because Cidious killed my father and most of my family. Cidious's backstory was that he was sent from a foreign land to the barony to escape an evil empire and he was raised by a family of rogues and assassins (the Gravelstoke family). He realized that Xander Gravelstoke had a plot to murder the Baron and take over the barony, so he killed them all in the night and fled. He did not know that Xander had a son by a second wife that he kept secret and hidden away.

Vincent said he did not harbor any ill will against Cidious, and that he hated his father and thought him a fool any way. He simply needed to make sure Cidious would not try to kill him also. He wanted to return his family to its roots as advisors and spymasters for the acting Baron. He said he would return Cidious to them soon and aid them in overthrowing the Iron Circle, as long as they agreed to not hold a grudge for the kidnapping. They welcomed the promised aid and the return of their friend. That is where we ended the session. I am hoping that Cidious's player returns next session to pick up where we left off.

Th

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

I'm glad this is still proceeding. It's interesting to see the points where your group's experience matches mine and where it's different. I suspect this adventure has a relatively high amount of replayability.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Zeromaru X »

Thanks for sharing. I really like to read campaign diaries.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

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When last we left our heroes...

The heroes of Harkenwold successfully defeated the Drow who were holed up at the elven ruins of Dal Nystere. They also learned the fate of their companion, the rogue Cidious, as well as some information about his dark past. They informed the elven leader Elriyel of their victory, and secured the Woodsinger elves' help to defend Albridge from the coming assault. The halfling family, the Reedfoots, were also very thankful to be saved. Harry Reedfoot, the father, promised to bring a group of his people to aid Albridge in facing the Iron Circle. Now the party must return to Albridge to help them prepare for the assault.

When they returned to Albridge, they found the town in a state of chaos. Many people were packing their bags and moving north of the river. Tents were set up in the north section of town and the inn and other buildings were bustling with people. Dar Gremath, the old retired solider was heading up the organization of the town's defenses. He was thankful to see the heroes return and for the promised help from their allies. The Woodsinger Elves, the warriors of Tor's Hold, and the Reedfoot Halflings showed up to help defend. Scouts estimated the army was preparing to march and would likely arrive the next day. The rogue Cidious also showed up, having been released from the Gravelstokes as promised.

I gave each of the players a unit to command for the coming battle, using a variant of Matt Colville's mass combat rules from Strongholds and Followers. They had the Tor's Hold warriors, the Woodsinger Elves, the Reedfoot Halflings, and the Albridge Militia. There was a fifth unit, the Albridge townspeople, who were not well trained but people who were willing to help fight. I then told them they would each have a chance to do something to help prepare the town for the battle.

Ifrit the dwarf and Rodigan the warlock worked together to inspire the townspeople, so that more of them would fight. They were successful in the check, so I increased the size of the townspeople unit from a d6 to a d8. Cidious worked with the halflings on stealth strategy, to use them as a sort of guerilla warfare unit. I had him make a stealth check and a charisma check, both of which were pretty good, so I said he taught them how to camouflage themselves, describing them as a bunch of little guys in ghillie suits. This gave him the ability to roll stealth for his unit after a ranged attack to avoid detection from the enemy units.

That night, Vrael the elf wanted to do some scouting, so he headed toward the enemy army. He found that they had already traveled part of the way from the city and camped out between Harken and Albridge. He had previously taken clothes from the iron circle thugs they had beaten, so he dressed like one of them and managed to infiltrate the camp. He saw that they had rafts and canoes prepared for a unit to cross the river. He used the opportunity to set fire to the canoes and then quickly leave the camp. I told him he probably was able to destroy about half of their supply of watercraft, making it much harder for a unit to cross the water.

The next day, the party all positioned their units in strategic places, two of them hidden along the road to try to ambush the Iron Circle as they approached. The Tor's Hold warriors were the front lines standing just across the bridge, while the Woodsinger elves prepared to send volleys toward the oncoming enemies. The halflings hid among the brush along the road to attack and then hide again. The Albridge Militia hid in the forest, ready to charge at the enemy flank. It was a good plan...

***** the following is a big spoiler and behind the scenes info *********
Cidious returned to the group, but he is actually a doppelganger working for the Gravelstokes. The real Cidious is still imprisoned within the Iron Keep. I worked this out with this player, who is new to D&D, and he has been very excited about this angle. So he told me that his character Cidious was gone when the battle was about to start. He had also acted sort of strange, being very evasive when the party questioned him about his past. He sent me a text of what he was doing, which was to tell the enemy the entire plan. I thought this was a brilliant move by the player, who is new to D&D but very creative in his thinking. So I had the enemy warlock unit attack the treeline with a large group fireball, setting the forest on fire and forcing that unit to leave the forest and reveal itself.
*********************************************************************************

The Halflings were able to retreat to avoid being attacked by a strong melee unit, and the other units traded volleys of arrows as the Iron Circle "thug" unit was sent first across the bridge as fodder to soften the enemy for the true Iron Circle infantry. Meanwhile, the heroes themselves had to deal with flying spined devils attacking people in the town, led by the returning warlock Faris, who had escaped from them before. They handled the devils pretty easily and Faris was extremely low when we had to call it. Next time the battle should conclude and we will see what state the town is in as well as the Iron Circle forces. The heroes will also have to deal with Lord Redthorn in person, who might be a bit strong for them, but he will flee when he sees his forces depleted or his health is at half.
Last edited by capnskillet7 on Thu Mar 12, 2020 7:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Zeromaru X »

Thanks for sharing. I'm going to read it during lunch break :)

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 12, 2020 3:06 pm
I gave each of the players a unit to command for the coming battle, using a variant of Matt Colville's mass combat rules from Strongholds and Followers. They had the Tor's Hold warriors, the Woodsinger Elves, the Reedfoot Halflings, and the Albridge Militia. There was a fifth unit, the Albridge townspeople, who were not well trained but people who were willing to help fight. I then told them they would each have a chance to do something to help prepare the town for the battle.
I'm particularly interested to hear how this went. Did you already use these rules, or you set up the units for use in a future installment? Once the battle has taken place (if it hasn't already), please give us an overview of how these rules worked out for your group. The final battle was a little anticlimactic when I played this adventure. Having the battle happen around the PCs, even with the understanding that our preparation and our skirmishes within the overall battle would determine its outcome, was a bit of a letdown. It felt like the PCs should've somehow interacted more with the broader battle than they did in the adventure as written. Ever since, I've had my eyes out for a solution that's not too crunchy.

capnskillet7
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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 2:58 am
I'm particularly interested to hear how this went. Did you already use these rules, or you set up the units for use in a future installment? Once the battle has taken place (if it hasn't already), please give us an overview of how these rules worked out for your group. The final battle was a little anticlimactic when I played this adventure. Having the battle happen around the PCs, even with the understanding that our preparation and our skirmishes within the overall battle would determine its outcome, was a bit of a letdown. It felt like the PCs should've somehow interacted more with the broader battle than they did in the adventure as written. Ever since, I've had my eyes out for a solution that's not too crunchy.
The players had a total of five units: Albridge Militia (infantry), Albridge townsfolk (levies), Reedfoot Halflings (a medium ranged and stealth unit), Woodsinger Elves (archers), and the Tor's Hold Warriors (stronger infantry). Each player took a unit and I controlled the townsfolk since we had four players. The Iron circle had four units: Iron Circle thugs (levies), Iron Circle Infantry, Iron Circle Archers, and Iron Circle Warlocks. Because the players did so well in recruiting allies, they had the numbers advantage, which the Iron Circle did not expect.

My rules were you roll to attack and add the units attack modifier (using Matt Colville's rules for making units). If you hit, you automatically do 1 point of damage to the unit. Then you roll for power, and if you roll higher than defense you do another point of damage. If you crit then you do two damage instead of one. Archers had a range of two "squares" on the battlefield. Anything past that was at disadvantage. Infantry could only move one square before attacking. Any unit could also choose to defend (give enemies disadvantage) or retreat (move back 2 squares).

We just finished the battle this week. It was somewhat challenging because we began the battle in person, and then we completed it online due to the social distancing. I did not have time to get everyone set up in roll20, so I just streamed roll20 onto discord and they told me what they wanted to do with their units. In the first half of the battle, the players fought against two spined devils and a warlock named Faris and on their turns they also commanded their units. It worked okay, sort of like a cut back and forth between the larger scale battle and their efforts to stop the devils from attacking townsfolk. We ended the session with the warlock having 1 hit point and the devils dead, but the larger scale battle was actually not going very well for them. The townsfolks had been crit and failed their morale check so they were fleeing.

This week we had a new player, playing a cleric of the sun god, which I told him was Lathander the Morning Lord, because I like him better than Pelor. I said he had come to town from Fallcrest to aid in treating the wounded. I gave control of the townsfolk to him and said because he was a priest of Lathander he encouraged the townsfolk to get back in the battle. We finished playing out the battle, and the players were able to turn the tide and send the Iron Circle in full retreat. Meanwhile, a scout came from the north of town and said someone was performing some sort of dark ritual there. The heroes ran that direction to find Nazin Redthorn casting the ritual over some sort of infernal glowing circle on the ground.

Redthorn already had a bearded devil to defend him, as well as a knight and two archers. The battle started poorly for the players, with the warlock and the cleric both going down. I thought this was a great opportunity to invoke the power of their deity and patron. The cleric had a vision waking up in a green field with a sunny sky, and a handsome man in a simple tunic offered him a hand. "I really need you back there! But it's up to you. You can come with me if you want, or I can send you back." The cleric said he would go back, because he had to stop the ritual. Lathander said, "In that case, I should send you some help." I had him roll a d100, which represented the concordance table in Strongholds and Followers, but he rolled poorly and I wanted him to have an ally any way, so I just picked a Coatl because it was the first celestial I saw lol. So he came back into the fight with 1 hp and a Coatl ally.

Meanwhile the warlock had a very different experience. He was in complete darkness, like a sensory deprivation chamber. Then he saw a single yellow eye like a cat's eye open. He doesn't know who his patron is, only that he gives him power and commands him to seek out more power and knowledge. This strange being told Rodigan he was not done yet, and that he still had work for the warlock to do. He said, "I'll send Baron Malgas with you. He has been itching to cause some trouble." So the warlock revived with 1 HP and had an ally, also from Strongholds and Followers.

With their new allies, the heroes turned the tide and stopped Redthorn's ritual. I was afraid he would finish it, because I set it for five turns of him concentrating and then on his next turn a more powerful devil would be summoned. They stopped him just in time, and he teleported away, since his guards were all dead. They have an iron ring from Faris, which they saw Redthorn use to teleport away. It only works for someone who has made a pact with the Iron Circle. They also captured the knight and questioned him, learning that the Iron Circle all talk about serving the Iron Duke and the Iron Tower. For those familiar with D&D lore, they are referring to Dispater and the plane of Dis in hell. I thought it made sense for them to be serving him, since it is all about iron this and iron that, and he is the Lord of the Iron Tower.

I leveled them up to 4 and they will get a long rest next session. They will probably try to question the knight more and Dar Gremath will suggest hitting the Iron Keep while their numbers are diminished. They might use the rogue's "allies" as a source to find out there is a tunnel leading to the keep so they can infiltrate it. It should be fun to run the keep next time! I hope to get them set up on roll20 so it will be easier for them to move their own tokens where they want.

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:18 pm
My rules were you roll to attack and add the units attack modifier (using Matt Colville's rules for making units). If you hit, you automatically do 1 point of damage to the unit. Then you roll for power, and if you roll higher than defense you do another point of damage. If you crit then you do two damage instead of one. Archers had a range of two "squares" on the battlefield. Anything past that was at disadvantage. Infantry could only move one square before attacking. Any unit could also choose to defend (give enemies disadvantage) or retreat (move back 2 squares).
Thanks for sharing this. It sounds more streamlined than what I remembered from Matt Colville's rules. Is that the case, or am I just mis-remembering (and need to go re-read) his rules?
capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:18 pm
The townsfolks had been crit and failed their morale check so they were fleeing.
How did you handle morale checks?
capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:18 pm
This week we had a new player, playing a cleric of the sun god, which I told him was Lathander the Morning Lord, because I like him better than Pelor. I said he had come to town from Fallcrest to aid in treating the wounded. I gave control of the townsfolk to him and said because he was a priest of Lathander he encouraged the townsfolk to get back in the battle. We finished playing out the battle, and the players were able to turn the tide and send the Iron Circle in full retreat.
Sounds like an awesome moment for that player.
capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:18 pm
So the warlock revived with 1 HP and had an ally, also from Strongholds and Followers.
You've referenced Strongholds and Followers several times. I like the book overall, but haven't used it yet (partially because I don't run 5e). Sounds like it has enough system-agnostic ideas that I should give it another read.
capnskillet7 wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 8:18 pm
learning that the Iron Circle all talk about serving the Iron Duke and the Iron Tower. For those familiar with D&D lore, they are referring to Dispater and the plane of Dis in hell. I thought it made sense for them to be serving him, since it is all about iron this and iron that, and he is the Lord of the Iron Tower.
Good connection. I never tied the Iron Circle to a "bigger bad" in my campaign, but if it had lasted longer, I would've started looking for a connection like this one.

Thanks for sharing the summary!

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 »

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds more streamlined than what I remembered from Matt Colville's rules. Is that the case, or am I just mis-remembering (and need to go re-read) his rules?
Overall, I found his rules to be a bit chunky, so I simplified it quite a bit. These are all fairly new players and I didn't want a new system to be overly complex. They seemed to enjoy it and it went smoothly and fairly quickly. The original rules seemed like they might make mass combat a bit long.
How did you handle morale checks?
Colville has several times you make morale checks in the book, but I mainly used the rule for when a unit reaches half of its starting die (d8, d6, etc.) they make a DC 13 morale check, adding their morale score. If they fail the unit retreats and is no longer part of the battle. I think there is also a rule to "rally" a unit to get it back in the fight, but I basically allowed the new cleric player to do that for free to make sure he got to participate. And I didn't do it for the enemies, because as mercenaries they would flee rather than risk their lives for a lost cause.
You've referenced Strongholds and Followers several times. I like the book overall, but haven't used it yet (partially because I don't run 5e). Sounds like it has enough system-agnostic ideas that I should give it another read.
It has given me a lot of ideas to add in to my games. I love some of the new enemies and magic items, and they can be put into any setting in my opinion with some alterations. The rules for building strongholds, including the costs and such, are also much improved over the very basic info in the DM guide.
Good connection. I never tied the Iron Circle to a "bigger bad" in my campaign, but if it had lasted longer, I would've started looking for a connection like this one.
I haven't decided exactly what direction to take the campaign after "book 1" is over, which will be the defeat of Redthorn and driving the Iron Circle out of Harkenwold. I am looking at Thunderspire Labyrinth as a possibility or Night Below converted to 5e in the 4e world... that's a lot of converting lol. But seriously I have gotten pretty good at just using the story from any module, regardless of edition, and plugging it into my game. It has taken a few years of practice, but I am a lot more comfortable just knowing the story bits of the game and worrying about the stats and numbers as we play. I often modify monsters on the fly, and the players know I do that. They seem to have fun, so I guess I'm doing something right. :)

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker »

capnskillet7 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:49 am
Colville has several times you make morale checks in the book, but I mainly used the rule for when a unit reaches half of its starting die (d8, d6, etc.) they make a DC 13 morale check, adding their morale score. If they fail the unit retreats and is no longer part of the battle.
Thanks for explaining that. Where do you find the morale score? Is that in his book? If so, are there broad categories of types of foes? There are always more monsters than a single book could list (and more coming all the time).
capnskillet7 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:49 am
or Night Below converted to 5e in the 4e world... that's a lot of converting lol.
I'd be interesting to see such a conversion. I hadn't heard of one done for 5e.
capnskillet7 wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:49 am
I have gotten pretty good at just using the story from any module, regardless of edition, and plugging it into my game. It has taken a few years of practice, but I am a lot more comfortable just knowing the story bits of the game and worrying about the stats and numbers as we play. I often modify monsters on the fly, and the players know I do that. They seem to have fun, so I guess I'm doing something right. :)
Awesome! I primarily run 13th Age, and as it doesn't have a huge selection of adventures, I got very good at exactly this type of conversion, too. When I ran 4e, I did quite a bit of conversion for an Al-Qadim campaign. I was thankful for the Dungeons & Dragons Insider (DDI) digital tools, at the time. Building monsters or modifying the level of an existing monster was really easy and convenient using those tools. With 13th Age, there are no digital tools for monster building, but the monsters are so much simpler than 4e or 5e, I don't really need them.

Thanks for sharing the details of how you've ran this campaign. I find it really interesting.

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