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  1. - Top - End - #61
    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Not read all of this, but it looks excellent - well done and thanks to all who've contributed. I just wanted to add my support to the warning about Downdraft - my party used that to drop Ozzy right in front of their main melee fighter, who simply took him apart (with the help of the warlock). Overall, I found the dragons weren't really impressive, though that may have been as much my way of running them as anything else. A real pain in my party is a very optimised ranger/arcane slayer archer, who can deal about 100 points of damage in a full attack - he took Kharn down in two rounds, though he did have to use up several thousand GPs of power ups pre-fight! The party also had a very good druid scout, who effectively negated any ambushes, which was a pain.

    Having said that, I did just kill four out of the six PCs in the last session on their second foray into the Fane :)
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Ozzy is only cr5? He is supposed to get slaughtered in a fair fight, which is probably why wotc made him into a flying skirmisher who spits acid ever so often. Especially since your party would be at least lv6 by the time it is encountered.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar
    Ozzy is only cr5? He is supposed to get slaughtered in a fair fight, which is probably why wotc made him into a flying skirmisher who spits acid ever so often. Especially since your party would be at least lv6 by the time it is encountered.
    Remember two things, though:

    1.) In 3.x, Wizards stated a design intention that dragons should be tougher than any other monster of the same CR. I've usually found a dragon could usually be considered 2 to 4 CRs lower than what most sane people would use. I gather that this derives from a M:TG thing where dragons cost less than other monsters?

    2.) Ozzy is far from alone. He has all of the guards, fortuitous terrain, and other factors.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    This is a really great handbook - and it's reminded me that I still have an un-played copy of RHoD lying around.
    And since my group is intending to run RHoD's 4e sequel, Scales of War, at some point...I think I might just see if I can manage to finally run the original.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyMantle View Post
    Remember two things, though:

    1.) In 3.x, Wizards stated a design intention that dragons should be tougher than any other monster of the same CR. I've usually found a dragon could usually be considered 2 to 4 CRs lower than what most sane people would use. I gather that this derives from a M:TG thing where dragons cost less than other monsters?

    2.) Ozzy is far from alone. He has all of the guards, fortuitous terrain, and other factors.
    All that considered, if I'd kept him at his printed stats, my party would've destroyed him far too easily. I actually ended up having to bump him up to Juvenile. That would bring his listed CR up to 8, but he was more of an even challenge for five semi-optimized characters.


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  6. - Top - End - #66
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Hm - if you'll allow me a brief moment of narcissism, during a game session today I got the go-ahead to begin running RHoD in a couple weeks. Now, there'll be eight players, and after a quick review of the campaign I'm worried about them trampling all over Vraath Keep and Skull Gorge Bridge.

    So, besides buffing up the hobgoblins and Karkilan, bumping Ozyrrandion up an age category, and redoing Koth's spells and feats, I'm debating two further changes: first, giving Koth either one or two (haven't yet decided) redspawn arcaniss bodyguards, and second, having the PCs begin at fourth level rather than fifth or sixth.
    How do those changes sound? Will starting at fourth level hamper the group too much?

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by GreyMantle View Post
    I gather that this derives from a M:TG thing where dragons cost less than other monsters?
    Whoever you heard this from is dead wrong. Dragons are one of the most expensive creature types in Magic. I don't think there's a single one that costs less than 4 mana (so you won't see any dragons on the field until turn 4, barring some mana acceleration). Wizards probably did intend for D&D dragons to be boss monsters, however. Their enormous range of attacks, spells, defenses, and huge trove of treasure all imply dragons are "boss monsters."

    Quote Originally Posted by ShriekingDrake View Post
    For those who felt the encounters were too easy, I'd love to see what the parties looked like?
    Party 1:
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    A human Dragonfire Adept, a human Druid (later an Elf Dread Necromancer), a changeling Rogue/Swashbuckler (with the Daring Outlaw feat), and a DMPC gish (replaced with a PC half-elf Duskblade at Rhest).

    The DFA and changeling were both potent at bluff and diplomacy. The DFA's breath weapons never ran low, so enduring the Battle of Brindol was easier, and entangling breath was her weapon of choice against dragons. The druid's many summoned monsters acted as effective meat shields for the first half of the game, and his skeleton dragons and giants were more than adequate after that. I stopped playing the gish after Skullgorge Bridge and battles did become tougher for the party.

    The changeling ended up dying to a razorfiend between the Druid's death and the discovery of the DN. He was revived in a ritual that felt like an ass-pull to me, but the party completely bought it and thought it was cool so it all worked out. The insane damage the changeling and Duskblade dumped on anything near them was highly effective late in the game.


    Party 2:
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    It's shaping up to be a half-minotaur Crusader, a kalashtar Ardent/Ectopic Adept, a human Beguiler, a chaos gnome Savage Bard, and a Necropolitan elf Swashbuckler/Rogue (also using Daring Outlaw). The paladin I mentioned earlier will be dropping out due to work conflicts, but I may have another player to bring in instead.

    The crusader is using White Raven Tactics, reach weapons, and gets tons of AoOs. The Ardent's been very effective at ranged damage and providing flankers. The Beguiler plays like you'd expect, with copious debuffs and battlefield control. The Bard has pulled out some insane buffs and is overall an effective support character. When the necropolitan shows up (not often enough ) his skills and damage are highly valued.


    Quote Originally Posted by Saintheart View Post
    How can you better get people heading towards the Blackfens?
    Just mentioning the elves should be enough to encourage the party into the Blackfens. Hopefully, after Cinder Hill one of their top priorities will be finding people that will help them fight the goblinoids.

    Or some NPC could easily imply the need for allies/wonder out loud if the swamp elves know about the oncoming danger (because a good party might be willing to head out and warn the elves).

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Whoever you heard this from is dead wrong. Dragons are one of the most expensive creature types in Magic.
    Not just expensive, arguably overcosted. 6 mana for a 4/4 or 9 mana for a 6/6 is just way too slow by competitive magic standards, IMO.

    2.) Ozzy is far from alone. He has all of the guards, fortuitous terrain, and other factors.
    Still doesn't change the fact that if the players get to surround him, they will massacre him. Flight is really the only thing keeping it alive since at this stage, persistent flight should not yet be readily accessible to the entire party.

    I noticed the guards there don't really have much synergy with one another. The hobgoblin guards are also quite weak for their cr3. My party of 4 started at lv6, was lv7 by the time we reached the bridge, and none of them could touch us!

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    Still doesn't change the fact that if the players get to surround him, they will massacre him. Flight is really the only thing keeping it alive since at this stage, persistent flight should not yet be readily accessible to the entire party.

    I noticed the guards there don't really have much synergy with one another. The hobgoblin guards are also quite weak for their cr3. My party of 4 started at lv6, was lv7 by the time we reached the bridge, and none of them could touch us!
    I'd agree with this - which is why Downdraft is such a killer spell. The other mooks are really fairly pointless - and I'd beefed them all up. My party did play things rather intelligently, separating Ozzy (and the two manticores I'd added) from the land based troops.
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Elvenblade View Post
    Hm - if you'll allow me a brief moment of narcissism, during a game session today I got the go-ahead to begin running RHoD in a couple weeks. Now, there'll be eight players, and after a quick review of the campaign I'm worried about them trampling all over Vraath Keep and Skull Gorge Bridge.

    So, besides buffing up the hobgoblins and Karkilan, bumping Ozyrrandion up an age category, and redoing Koth's spells and feats, I'm debating two further changes: first, giving Koth either one or two (haven't yet decided) redspawn arcaniss bodyguards, and second, having the PCs begin at fourth level rather than fifth or sixth.
    How do those changes sound? Will starting at fourth level hamper the group too much?
    I've been running RHOD with a party of eight, albeit they weren't particularly optimised as a group. They started at level 6. Having said that I strongly suspect it's inexperience with D&D that kept them from utterly rolling their opposition, and the party of eight didn't start with the terrifying optimised barbarian who's presently with them. I think an experienced, seasoned party of eight would tear new orifices in Koth as written, so you're right to upgrade if only to take account of party numbers.

    I think with eight players you have to plan as if you're dealing with two adventuring parties at once.

    Does a level 4 start hurt or help? I can't really comment on this since I didn't have XP as a mechanism in my campaign -- when we reached the end of a chapter we flipped everyone up one level. So I don't know how well they'll progress. However: the thing that does occur is that with 8 people in the party the XP pool is diluted per party member: rather than splitting 800 XP (say) 4 ways you're splitting it 8 ways instead. That's going to slow down level up.

    I haven't done a full XP count to see if it's going to really retard levelling, but my first instinct is to say boost your encounters to meet a level 5 party rather than nerf the party to level 4 and expect them to cope. Otherwise you could very well wind up with the party two to three levels down on where they're "supposed" to be, since the campaign all but assumes the characters are certain levels (9-10) when they hit the Battle of Brindol.

    But I don't think there's an easy solution to it. Party numbers intersect with classes chosen, levels of optimisation, and the experience of the players. It's unique to a given set of players with their chosen characters and difficult to isolate out.

    If your characters are experienced players, I'd say you can risk level 4 all round if there's eight of them. They'll be able to utilise sheer weight of numbers if nothing else. If they're very optimised at level 4, they're probably cynical savvy enough to withstand heavy encounters thrown at them, especially with 8 of them playing.

    Sorry if that doesn't make matters any clearer.

    On whether to provide extra redspawn arcanissi - whoo, at level 5 that'd be a potentially nasty fight if the party triggers off the whole keep. Minotaur + 5 hobgoblins + worgs + manticore + Koth + a CR 6 arcaniss is plenty of firepower. My instinct is to say adding two redspawn is escalating things to the point of risking TPK, because multiple sources of arcane spellcasting make things a lot different.

  11. - Top - End - #71
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Man, where do you guys find so many players? Would all of them regularly attend? I'd expect a certain level of attrition after a while... but I guess that's just the type of people I've had access to in the past...

    One interesting way to do it would be for four of the PCs to be 6th level with the Leadership feat, and then four other players play their cohorts (of lower level). By RAW, the game is supposedly equipped to handle that as if they are a normal party of 6th level characters.

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    Barbarian in the Playground
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    However, all those level 6 characters would be slightly weaker than other lvl 6 characters, because one of their feats is *lost*.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Thanks for all the advice, Saintheat.
    Since my players are all pretty decent optimizers, I think I will start them at level 4; doing a total xp count, that sets their levels as something like:

    After Vraath Keep - 4
    After Skull Gorge Bridge - 5
    After travel to the Blackfens - 5
    After the ruins of Rhest - 6
    After the Ghostlord's lair (and travel to it) - 7
    After the battle of Brindol - 8
    After the Fane of Tiamat - 9

    So basically, they'll be 1-2 levels behind throughout the entire campaign. But honestly, with double the 'standard' number of players (and optimization to boot), I think they'll do okay.

    And you make a good point about the redspawn arcanissi. Especially since Karkilan will be stronger than normal, I think I'll put just one in (and, if the party is having lots of trouble, possibly not include it at all).

    Again, thanks.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    What types of characters will the eight of them be?

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Well, each player in our group has a "modular" character - a character used expressly for published adventures and sometimes one-shots (each with sketched-out class progressions). Generally, we dislike disrupting our ongoing plots with unrelated adventures involving whatever our "main" heroes are at the time, so we've found that having separate characters for these is a good compromise.
    Anyway, the characters (alphabetized by original class) are:

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    Warforged barbarian - Pretty basic, a good old Power Attack charger build. Starts with, of course, Lion Totem Barbarian, and goes into Warforged Juggernaut and Frenzied Berserker. He's one of the group's main frontliners.

    Lesser Aasimar cleric of Raziel - This player is probably the group's biggest optimizer. While he usually keeps the cheese to the minimum, he nonetheless goes DMM with quite a few PrCs (if I recall correctly, Church Inquisitor, Prestige Paladin, Ordained Champion, and Sacred Exorcist).

    Human druid - For fairness' sake, the druid uses the Shapeshift variant from PHB II. Nonetheless, she's quite a potent combatant, often summoning with Nature's Ally and then rushing into the thick of combat.

    Dwarf Deepstone Sentinel - This guy is basically the party tank. He's likely the least optimized of the group, or nearly so, but is still a big roadblock for monsters. Before entering the Deepstone Sentinel PrC, he's a fighter/crusader.

    Snow Elf Swift Hunter - A pretty basic build, mostly ranger with a few levels of scout, this guy is a ranged skirmisher. While not the most powerful party member, he's the group's primary source of ranged damage. A note: he's traded away his animal companion for an alternate feature.

    Lesser Tiefling rogue - A TWFer, the rogue (well, like every rogue) is out to maximize Sneak Attack. He goes into Nightsong Enforcer, Avenger, and one more PrC - Shadow Thief of X or somesuch. (Note to self: get copies of character sheets ASAP).

    Wood Elf warblade - Another charger build. This character's main weakness is that he, as a straight warblade, doesn't have Pounce as an innate feature until later on, instead relying on Lion's Charge spells from the divine casters - but this is mostly offset by the versatility of his maneuvers.

    Human wizard - A Conjurer, he fancies himself a blaster-type wizard (using the Orb line of spells), but more for flavor than power. The player is a big optimizer, though, and while he restrains himself by gentlemen's agreement he's perfectly capable of making a Batman-esque demigod. He PrCs into Incantatrix and Archmage (might eventually have some Fatespinner in there, can't quite remember).


    I've included way more information than you'll probably want or need, but you can feel free to skip the extra stuff.
    Last edited by Elfin; 2010-10-18 at 05:22 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Yeah, there's a definite front and back line there. Warblade, Deepstone Sentinel, and Barbarian are more than enough on their own to keep the casters safe. And that's excluding the cleric, who can take the front line if he wants to. Then you've got a ranged attacker for fire support and a roguely type for stealthy stuff. And finally, one arcane caster and one druid. Two parties' worth of sheer firepower and melee damage sources. Yeah, I'd revise my earlier thoughts: given you've got three tier one characters in the party, even if they won't get to the STUPENDOUS COSMIC POWAAHHH of beyond level 10 or so they can still deal with the unaltered campaign without too many problems.

    About the only editorial comment I'd make here is that given the game runs notionally from level 5 to level 10, it doesn't allow the strongest forms of optimisation. Maybe that's a good thing.

    Anyway, random thoughts.

    Onto our next vox populi, and hopefully this one's a bit more interesting:

    Running the Fane of Tiamat, what would you remove? What would you add into it?

    Looking forward to the thoughts ... and thanks to everyone who's contributed so far!

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I haven't actually run it yet; just from reading, though, it seems (at least in conception) pretty neat. On the other hand, it seems unlikely that a standard party would be able to do it in a single try, which is rather anticlimactic: I'd think about having less monsters in the main part of the Fane, and more in the boss fight.
    Then again, out of combat healing isn't too hard to get...
    Perhaps the biggest problem I can see, though, is that if the party didn't slay Varanthian and/or Abithriax, the gateway could well end up as a TPK (the other two shouldn't present too much of an issue).

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Abithriax is described as specifically fighting to the death at the battle of Brindol, though, so it's unlikely he'll show up. Also, for whatever reason, Varanthian has a tendency to bite the big one too. In my experience, Ozzy and Reggy are the two most likely to escape and show up again, and they'll be little more than a distraction compared to Big Blue.

    When we played through the Fane, the hardest part was in all honesty the osyluth (or bone devil). Our DM played him very well. He spammed Wall of Ice and separated the party. Perhaps the best thing he did was use his illusion powers to make it seem like he had summoned a bunch of lemurs, which caused us to waste actions. Brilliant! He almost took us down, the diabolic bastard.

    We also fought against a whole bunch of wyverns, which proved very tough, and our DM also tossed in some dread wraiths (not sure if those are in the book or not, but they were scary). The actual fight against Azar Kul and the Aspect of Tiamat went pretty smoothly, but we were buffed like you wouldn't believe.

    I'd maybe give Azar Kul more support in the final fight, or maybe give him some kind of special shield that surrounds him and allows him to buff. Then, when the first wave of mooks is killed, the shield drops, Azar Kul joins the fight, and even more minions show up (more abishai, perhaps? Maybe add in more colors than just blue abishai, for laughs).

    Also, I might add a white dragon to the fight with Azar Kul's daddy. There's something disappointing about not fighting a white when you face every other color of Tiamat's heads. Maybe the white dragon is a friend of the blue dragon?

    Here's an idea: have a white dragon guarding the entrance to the Fane, then put the blue dragon in the final battle with Azar Kul! Maybe he could be the first 'mini boss' while his son is buffing in that magic shield?
    Last edited by CockroachTeaParty; 2010-10-19 at 01:26 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    As for the special shield, Azarr Kul has something pretty close - Antilife Shell. The module actually says that his tactics are to cast that spell and then buff.

    And your idea about the dragons - I really like that! According to the module, the Fane was once home to a wyrm white dragon, so perhaps the white dragon at the entrance is the child of the one who used to inhabit the temple?
    Last edited by Elfin; 2010-10-19 at 03:07 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I'm planning on running RHoD later this year, and one thing I'm hoping to do with the Fane is to really emphasize that the portal thingy is a portal to the frickin Hells. It's beginning to warp reality and do random, unpredictable things. Because the last thing RHoD needs is another lengthy dungeon crawl in between what is s'posed to be the most intense battle of the campaign and the (theoretically) hardcore conclusion.

    I haven't really thought it totally through yet, but here're some ideas:

    1) Make the Fane itself be mostly deserted. Maybe every so often the PCs could encounter a band of hobbo guards, but they'd be terrified and probably just refuse to fight because:
    Azar Kul has, knowing that the PCs are coming, sped up the ritual. As a sideeffect, the portal has begun to spit out fiends at random points throughout the fane. Because of DM handwavium ("unpredictable magical energies, whatever), these fiends are mostly demons, which means they've pretty much been tearing the place apart.

    2) Some parts of the Fane just lead straight into Hell. The PCs would have to navigate the infernal environments. Although I realize it's cliche as hell, I can see them having to pass through several gates, each of which requires defeating a guardian in a battle that revolves around some gimmick, be it mental environment manipulation, riddles, whatever. The guardians would be devils, hyped up superhobbos, teams of spawn of Tiamat assassins, hordes of raving goblin cultist, bugbear ninja, etc.

    3) The final gate leads back to the Material though. Azar Kul and the actual portal exist in a sort of "eye of the storm" situation. The PCs can see crackling hellish energies within spitting distance as they fight Teh BossMonster.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Has anyone thought of incorporating the hobgoblin variants in MM5?

    For example, warcasters (cr4, cast as wiz4) seem like viable alternatives to war adepts, especially when backed up with extra wiz lvs. Are there any suitable prcs for them? Koth could be more threatening with 4th lv spells.

    Spellscourges seem like interesting replacements for bladebearers (albeit at 1 cr higher).

    I am also thinking of replacements for the mooks, which seem quite weak for their cr, but my fear is that making them more complex might bog down the game. For instance, replace the warrior4 npcs with the duskblade3 from MM5? Their purpose is just to get in one solid arcane channel with shocking grasp before going down.

    Maybe replace the hellhounds with more spawn of tiamat?

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Saintheart:

    In my story, the Fane was originally not held by Tiamat cultists, but it was actually part of a very large planar seal that powered Tiamat's prison on Argonnessen. Since Tiamat is a demon overlord in Eberron and the Dragons imprisoned her (her prison on Argonnessen is the single most heavily-guarded complex on the entire planet), they needed a very large magic circle to power the skyscraper-sized Khyber Dragonshard that holds her. The seal itself is powered by the orbits of the planes around Eberron (kind of like how magnets moving close to coils of wire generate current).

    Azarr Kul was using a Planar Orrery, a machine designed to realign the energies of the planes, to stop the orbits of the planes the seal was keyed to, and thus cause the prison to "crash."

    If the Planar Seal were to be disrupted, the prison in Argonnesen would fail and Tiamat would be free---not as a goddess who machinates on other planes, but as an overlord of hordes of devils---and all 50,000 dragons on Argonnesen.

    As for actual changes to the dungeon:

    I really dislike the Night Hag encounter. It seems to me like a half-hearted attempt at levity in the final leg of the adventure. I prefer to keep the Fane spooky and very intimidating. I took it out and replaced it with a Naztharune Rakshasa assassin (it fit the story of one of my party's characters: his wife was murdered back home by a Rakshasa that was working with Azarr Kul).

    As for what to add, I had the battle with Tyrgarun happen along a bridge that crosses the canyon. Naturally, a narrow, rickety, hanging bridge.

    I also threw out the Blackspawn and replaced them all with multiple devils: mostly legion devils and chain devils. Chain devils are FANTASTIC for the barracks room due to the large number of meat chains hanging from the ceiling.

    I also dramatically increased the power of the Bone Devil by giving him class levels, though in my run he wasn't meant to be a combat encounter. He gave the PCs a deal, offering to step out of the way if they took out the Glabrezu at the other end of the complex (I put the Glabrezu's prison chamber beyond the priest cells).

    I also added a very annoying spell turret in the center of the main hallway of the Upper Fane, along with an Iron Golem (had to challenge my party due to it being fairly optimized and having 5 members; I do not recommend this for weaker parties). The Iron Golem was draconic in design (shaped like a Large half-dragon humanoid) and dealt slashing damage instead of bludgeoning thanks to enormous claws. It was actually left there by the original creators of the Fane. Thanks to a couple of deadly run-ins with it, the Red Hand squatters decided to just leave the golem alone and chose paths that circumvent it instead (there are many).

    I also disliked how empty the council room was. I piled up lots of books on the table and had a very large map of Eberron pinned onto it. The giant Pentagram depicting the planar seal was drawn on it, with the Fane of Tiamat as one of the star's points. The map meant that there were other Fanes, and thus more locations for Azarr Kul to raid and perform his rituals at.

    To make this room more interesting, I added a very large throne in a corner. It was big enough for an ogre. What for? You'll see later.

    To round off the council chamber, I added a fire summoning trap (DMG 2). It basically incinerated the entire room along with the documents, and dropped a Fire elemental on the PCs. The trap was in Azarr Kul's throne.

    Instead of wyverns, I put in a single Abyssal Drake in the Great Temple of Tiamat, along with mezzoloths and canoloths. Cloudkill as a spell-like ability is AWESOME.

    What's a final dungeon populated by Spawn of Tiamat without a Bluespawn Godslayer? I replaced the razorfiends with this single butt-kicker. I dramatically increased the size of the Cavern of the Guardian Spawn, putting the eastern half on a rock shelf 200 feet up. The PCs had to scale a rickety, dangerous ladder to get up to the tunnel to the Outer Sanctum.

    This ladder had a Blackspawn Stalker's web all around it. The Stalker itself was waiting on top beside the Godslayer.

    Remember that throne in the council chamber? The really big one? For the Outer Sanctum, I added one last Rakshasa in it along with the lesser clerics and a hobgoblin crusader of Tiamat. (In Eberron, Tiamat's cult is primarily run by Rakshasas; particularly favored ones undertake a ritual that turns them into powerful half-dragon rakshasas.) This one was one of them: A large, half bronze-dragon Naityan rakshasa with swordsage levels. (Dragons in Eberron aren't alignment-color coded.)


    Quote Originally Posted by Runestar View Post
    Has anyone thought of incorporating the hobgoblin variants in MM5?

    For example, warcasters (cr4, cast as wiz4) seem like viable alternatives to war adepts, especially when backed up with extra wiz lvs. Are there any suitable prcs for them? Koth could be more threatening with 4th lv spells.

    Spellscourges seem like interesting replacements for bladebearers (albeit at 1 cr higher).

    I am also thinking of replacements for the mooks, which seem quite weak for their cr, but my fear is that making them more complex might bog down the game. For instance, replace the warrior4 npcs with the duskblade3 from MM5? Their purpose is just to get in one solid arcane channel with shocking grasp before going down.

    Maybe replace the hellhounds with more spawn of tiamat?
    I love those guys, and used them a lot. The first PC death was caused by a Warcaster, though I never got a chance to use a Warsoul. You're definitely right about them being glass cannons. I had the Greater Barghests use Mass Enlarge Person and Mass Bull's Strength on them and then had them drop shocking grasps on the PCs.

    The Duskblades figured in the Goblin Raid, as well as several of the ambushes in the forest.

    The hellhounds were useless. Though initially I just refluffed them as fiery "scorch drakes" (I had no appropriate minis except for those raptor-like drakes), later I ditched them for Dire Wolves.
    Last edited by AslanCross; 2010-10-20 at 09:23 AM.


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  23. - Top - End - #83
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I don't think anyone is satisfied with the hellhounds, really.

    I recall some musing about replacing them with rage drakes...
    Last edited by Coidzor; 2010-10-20 at 09:45 AM.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Or red abishai, maybe? The lack of red dragon-related creatures has always bothered me, and the red abishai keep with the hellhounds' red, infernal, and fiery themes.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by Coidzor View Post
    I don't think anyone is satisfied with the hellhounds, really.

    I recall some musing about replacing them with rage drakes...
    All this seems so party dependent. With a hyper-optimized party, I this is right ton the numbers. But I have to say that I think RHoD is a tough adventure, even for seasoned players. There is often not a lot of time to replenish, there is a fast paced tempo, and there are lots of ways to role-play into disaster. A hyper-optimized party can make mush out of most adventures. For even a moderately optimized party of four, or even five, this adventure should be tough, just by the sheer number of encounters with an inability to rest before the next one, the low magic rewards, and many, many opportunities to be relegated to the harder road (i.e. killing instead of capturing information sources, dragons or wormlords escaping only to come back later, or not persuading NPC's to the best course of action.)

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by ShriekingDrake View Post
    All this seems so party dependent. With a hyper-optimized party, I this is right ton the numbers. But I have to say that I think RHoD is a tough adventure, even for seasoned players. There is often not a lot of time to replenish, there is a fast paced tempo, and there are lots of ways to role-play into disaster.
    Feh. There are less encounters in the adventure than there are days. So, if you don't have time to replenish, it's because you're churning through encounters rapidly. Sure, there are specific events, like drellin's ferry and brindol with limited time, but most stuff gives you reasonable chance to recover between fights if players desire it.

    A hyper-optimized party can make mush out of most adventures. For even a moderately optimized party of four, or even five, this adventure should be tough, just by the sheer number of encounters with an inability to rest before the next one, the low magic rewards, and many, many opportunities to be relegated to the harder road (i.e. killing instead of capturing information sources, dragons or wormlords escaping only to come back later, or not persuading NPC's to the best course of action.)
    Eh, simply killing your way through, a common tactic, is still surprisingly viable. You may not have as much background information, or know the structure/composition of the opposing force, but things are dead. After all, does it REALLY matter if you delay the horde a coupla days by diplomacing the right guy? The general alternative is usually killing him, which leads to more xp, and the time it takes the horde to march is certainly adequate for players to hit all the major bases, even if they muck around in one spot for a bit.
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    I DM'd RHoD up to the siege of Drellin's Ferry. The party was a dumb barbarian, smart support druid, and two blaster sorcerers. Not optimized.

    In the module's first encounter, the party was smart enough to take cover in the forest and the druid used Entangle to lock this down in the center. The barbarian decided to be utterly stupid and waltz by himself into the open field and promptly died after 3 rounds of all the archers shooting at him. One of the sorcerers got KO'd by a hellhound. I had to cheat a little and get Soranna's guards to save the day.

    On the flipside, the poor hydra in the swamp never had a chance. Back to back fireballs took it out before it could land a single hit.

    So if the party is inexperienced gamers, the module is just fine IMO. You'll need to ramp it up according to how good your players are and how many are playing. Now that my players are wiser in the ways of D&D and using books like ToB I'll really have to ramp things up next time I try and run it.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Hmm, might consider a section dealing with this question of things that segue well with RHOD.
    Quote Originally Posted by Keld Denar View Post
    +3 Girlfriend is totally unoptimized. You are better off with a +1 Keen Witty girlfriend and then appling Greater Magic Make-up to increase her enhancement bonus.
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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Well, I can see RHOD leading directly into a few things:

    - Clean up. While Azarr Kul and Hravek Kharn may be dead, the Horde is far from gone: while scattered, hobgoblins and other monsters are still rampaging across the Elsir Vale, causing a great deal of havoc. If any Wyrmlords survived, they might reorganize the troops and prepare another assault; even if none did, a powerful Red Hand warpriest might seize control and begin their own invasion (or they might find a way to resurrect a fallen Wyrmlord).

    - The fifth dragon. Why were only four dragons present in the invasion? Simple. Azarr Kul had, in fact, made an alliance with a powerful white dragon from the frosty mountain peaks north of the Endless Plains, but he simply didn't have time to delay the invasion long enough for the dragon to arrive. Instead, the plan was that the white dragon would help him solidify his rule across the Elsir Vale, crushing any remaining resistance.
    So now, unaware that the Red Hand horde is in fact routed, this dragon arrives on its own...followed, of course, by a retinue of enslaved soldiers and monsters - and finds, while not perhaps the easy victory he had expected, a decimated land ripe for the picking.

    - The Fane of Tiamat. Azarr Kul didn't quite manage to complete his infernal gate, but his work and the arrival of the Aspect of Tiamat significantly injured the fabric of the Material Plane within the inner sanctum. If they can, remaining Red Hand warpriests might try to complete the ritual - or the hordes of Baator might break through themselves. Either way, Elsir Vale now finds itself under a new threat: ravening armies of Hell swarming out of the Wyrmsmokes, bent on destruction.

    - Vraath Keep. The PCs are heroes of the Elsir Vale, and as such Lord Jarmaath might see fit to grant them lordship over Vraath Keep and Drellin's Ferry. If they accept, the PCs will not only have to cope with rebuilding and repopulating the town and castle, but also clearing the shadow-filled eaves of the western Witchwood and driving back raids by remaining Red Hand warriors.
    To be sure, it will become a game that's quite different from the standard campaign, but nonetheless an interesting one.

    - Scales of War. 4e's Adventure Path, Scales of War, is a saga following the events of RHOD (though I'm not familiar with it). While it's published for 4e, converting it to 3.5 should be doable.
    Last edited by Elfin; 2010-10-20 at 04:07 PM.

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    Default Re: The 3.5 Red Hand Of Doom Handbook for DMs [Major spoilers!] - WIP, PEACH!

    Quote Originally Posted by ShriekingDrake View Post
    All this seems so party dependent. With a hyper-optimized party, I this is right ton the numbers. But I have to say that I think RHoD is a tough adventure, even for seasoned players. There is often not a lot of time to replenish, there is a fast paced tempo, and there are lots of ways to role-play into disaster. A hyper-optimized party can make mush out of most adventures. For even a moderately optimized party of four, or even five, this adventure should be tough, just by the sheer number of encounters with an inability to rest before the next one, the low magic rewards, and many, many opportunities to be relegated to the harder road (i.e. killing instead of capturing information sources, dragons or wormlords escaping only to come back later, or not persuading NPC's to the best course of action.)
    I have to disagree. My party was just slightly optimized:
    -Dwarf crusader two-handing a maul
    -Shifter warblade TWFing, later used a greatsword without power attack.
    -Sniper rogue
    -Cloistered cleric
    -Kineticist Psion.

    When I ran encounters as written, they were too easy. The only difficult encounter as written was the Marked for Death ambush. Even the highly deadly Varanthian encounter didn't do much (okay, the cleric got eaten and almost died, but the dwarf was able to pop Varanthian with a critical divine surge.) I drastically had to boost the power of the encounters in the end.


    Eberron Red Hand of Doom Campaign Journal. NOW COMPLETE!
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