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Master Dungeons M2: Curse of the Kingspire

Posted by Mark Gedak on Friday, February 27th, 2009

So you’ve stormed the Keep on the Shadowfell and explored the Thunderspire Labyrinth, but they haven’t satisfied you. If you found them to be too easy, too linear or too combat-driven, Goodman Games may have the solution to your problem. M2: Curse of the Kingspire is the second adventure in the company’s Master Dungeon series. This new adventure series is designed for experienced game masters and players, and presents challenging encounters while rewarding intelligent play.

This 64-page adventure is designed for heroic characters of 4th through 6th level. The adventure is densely packed with combat, roleplaying, stealth and trap finding encounters. Curse of the Kingspire is sure to please experienced players as they struggle to rise above the challenges, and fill game masters with evil glee at the same time. If you are looking for a challenging adventure that rewards thinking and creative play, then M2: Curse of the Kingspire is exactly sort of product you should be picking up.The remainder of this review will discuss details of the plot. Consider yourself warned.

The adventure involves the characters’ investigation of a ruined Eladrin fortress. Those gamers familiar with Dungeons and Dragons: Fourth Edition should recognize the Eladrin as one of the new player races detailed in the Player’s Handbook. The race’s name comes from the Planescape setting of Second Edition, though these Eladrin are a reinvention of the concept. In Fourth Edition, they are a more fey-like elven race, roughly equivalent to High Elves from earlier editions - graceful, aloof, and detached from mortal concerns. It is suggested that the players could be attracted to the adventure site by the lure of lost lore, the hunt for a fabled artifact, or desire to disrupt a dangerous new cult. Regardless of the hook to bring the party of characters to the Kingspire, there is considerable adventure for them to experience.

The start of the adventure involves the PCs becoming aware of the threat of the cult inhabiting the spire. This area is designed for infiltration, with the PCs having opportunities to negotiate, bluff or sneak their way past opponents to reach the cult leader at the height of a ritual to reunite the Eladrin court with the material plane. Even though all opponents have been provided with combat statistics, there is no assumption that all encounters will degrade into combat, and several are more difficult if the heroes resort to violence first. At the end of this section the PCs will have infiltrated the hamlet near the Kingspire, fought voracious undead, and interrupted a magical ritual that sweeps them into a prison demiplane of the Kingspire’s last night.
Experience as a gamemaster is definitely needed in the second section of the adventure, as the players become caught within a time loop, reliving the final thirteen hours of the Kingspire’s final night. In this section there are a number of time sensitive encounters that activate if the characters are in the right place at the right time. This area will require careful roleplaying to avoid the pitfalls of a decadent Eladrin court while struggling for a means to escape the demiplane.

The final section involves the PCs descending into the catacombs of the Kingspire to find a way to end their imprisonment in the demiplane. This section is more straightforward, with brute force working very well for most areas, with the exception of the final encounter with the Devourer Worm. Once the heroes have recovered the artifact that can free them from the demiplane prison, the best approach to dealing with the Devourer Worm is to run like hell and hope you run faster than the slowest guy in the party. Strangely the worm has a bite that grabs, but no special attack on a held grab.

There is definitely an “old school” feel to this adventure. There are some extremely tricky traps, such as in the torture chamber. In this encounter, the first PC to see the iron maiden may be psychically linked to the spirit of a half-elf killed in the far past. They begin to bleed out until they are removed from the room or the iron maiden is opened (there is no option for saving to ends the effect). Once open, the ceiling above the maiden begins to collapse while the corpse of its victim tries to grab the PC who opened the iron maiden. If the grab is successful, the ceiling automatically hits.

There are some potentially devastating encounters, such as when the PCs try to cross the swamp only to be attacked by swamp zombies. If the zombies are successful at getting several hands on the raft, they overturn it, sending the heroes into the swamp with the intent of drowning them. There are powerful magic items that are both boon and bane, such as a magic orb allowed you to reset a daily power at the loss of heroic surges (possibly permanently), or a magical artifact that is liable to consume your PC in the long run. There are some plot fiats that constrain the story at key points - the magical ritual that the PCs arrive to prevent cannot be stopped, so as soon as they enter the ruined Kingspire they will be drawn into the demiplane and become trapped. This is tricky, because if the hook you used to draw the PCs to the adventure was to disrupt the cult, this fiat will likely make them feel ripped off that they had no control over the outcome. This is something that needs careful consideration before your players reach this point. My suggestion would be to use one of the other hooks to avoid this potential disappointment.

This module is published under the Open Game License instead of the Game System License. As such, the symbols used in the stat blocks are not the same as those that appear in products by Wizards of the Coast. The symbols are similar though and it takes little effort to make the adjustment. The adventure also does not use the “delve” format common to modules by Wizards of the Coast, which results in two significant changes. The first is that encounters do not fall into a strict format, so it will be necessary to prepare for adventure ahead of time. The second change is that by not relying on a rigid encounter format, the author is able to provide us with more encounters in a module of equal length. Anything that results in me getting more adventure for my gaming dollar is fantastic.

As I read through the module, I was initially distracted by a number of editing errors. These were not grammar or spelling, but things that didn’t get adjusted as the module went through internal revision. For example, the opening section says the adventure is for characters of 4th to 6th level, while later on the same page it says 1st to 6th. Or at another point the module text indicates the Miller’s apprentice is in area K-5, but he’s actually in K-6. Occasionally an opponent is misnamed in text and stat block. Once I got past the initial section on the Kingspire Hamlet (section K), the editing improved.

Overall, I really enjoyed Curse of the Kingspire - the adventure provides lots of opportunities for creative and intelligent gaming, with nods to an older style of play. There are opportunities for stealth, skill challenges, and roleplaying as well as combat. I would absolutely recommend this module to anyone looking for a Fourth Edition compatible module packed with challenging encounters. Plus bonus points for Clyde Caldwell cover art.Want to learn more about Master Dungeons? Read on…

Atomic Array: Episode 017: Master Dungeons
Game Cryer: Curse of the Kingspire Review
Gnome Stew: Mastering Goodman’s Dungeons
Musing of the Chatty DM: Curse of the Kingspire Preview
Campaign Mastery: The Plot Thickens - Hooking Players Into Adventure
Drop by Goodman Games to pick up your copy today!

Gygaxian? It’s all about aspiration

Purple Pawn asks ‘What is Gygaxian?’ - and discusses Gary’s writing style, referencing the deliciously baroque descriptions used in Vault of the Drow (Note to some of my newer players who may be reading this, and who haven’t yet experienced the pleasures of that adventure - patience - your time will come - now step away from the link….!). This set me thinking about my own view of what constitutes a ‘Gygaxian’ style of play.
In this post-Gygax era, various schools of thought begin to emerge, each striving to write its own gospel regarding the true meaning of The Way Of Gygax - much as occurs after the death of all great prophets, I suppose.
Of course, the real Gary Gygax was, like any other human being, a complex individual, his style of refereeing irreducible to a convenient soundbite without selectively ignoring all kinds of things that made up the greater whole.
Amongst the interweb chatter I have read, from the keyboards of a variety of sources, that ‘Gygaxian’ means any of the following:
  • Killer Dungeons - after all, he wrote ‘Tomb Of Horrors’, right?
  • Comedy Dungeons - after all, he wrote ‘Dungeonland’, right?
  • Gaming focussed on Dungeon Crawling in general - kill monsters, take their stuff
  • Adversarial gaming, where the referee is the enemy of the players, or at best indifferent to the suffering of their characters
  • Rules-light gaming - he wrote (or co-wrote, at least) OD&D, right?
  • Rules-heavy gaming - look at all those tables in the AD&D DMG, right?
  • Naturalism - adventures set in a realistic world where monsters behave realistically and have lives and motivations beyond that of merely being adversaries for the player characters
  • Surrealism - monsters, traps and other encounters appear in random locations with no logical explanation
  • Prosaic writing - frequent use of words such as ‘antithesis’ and ‘thereof’ and all manner of obscure pieces of vocabulary
I’m sure evidence could be presented to refute the universality of all of these statements, some of which constitute cherry-picking in the extreme, and for me, none of them fully captures the essence of Gygax’s greatest contribution to the D&D gaming world.
For me, Gygaxian is all about having aspirations. It’s about building a world instead of just skulking in the dungeons. More than that, it’s also equipping yourself with the knowledge and ability to go about that enterprise. It’s all about the ‘grand milieu’, an immersive campaign built to last that develops its own life and history, a campaign rich in variety, with room for horror, and room for humour, and for realism, and the odd patch of surrealism as well. If you can do that with what you consider to be a lightweight set of rules, that’s fine, but if you need to resort to something more complex to achieve your ambitions, that’s also fine - rules are a means to an end, tools to do the job and some tools can be easier to master than others. NB - I’m not claiming here that Gygax’s AD&D rules were all ideal, or that game system development was his strong point. The point I’m making is that you try to make your campaign world the best it can be, and that sometimes takes effort, and intellect.
AD&D was ‘Advanced’ Dungeons and Dragons for a reason. I am still in awe of his ambitions laid out in the 1st Edition DMG. Reading that book made a generation of referees aspire to the challenge of becoming the ‘Renaissance Man’ Gary talked about as being the ideal DM - an ideal, he said that few of us could hope to achieve. *Slap!* A thrown gauntlet if ever I read one. (You can’t write things like that now, of course - you might injure some poor soul’s self-esteem).
As to criticisms of his very prosaic style of writing, this puts me in mind of a quote attributed to Stan Lee of Marvel who also received similar comments regarding his use of sophisticated vocabulary in his comics:
“If a kid has to go to a dictionary, that’s not the worst thing that could happen.”

Can you run a gritty combat game with the 4e D&D rules?

In the discussion about my last post, there seems to be a split along the lines of people who favor grittiness in their combat and others about whether or not the sheer amount healing in 4e can reduce the tension of combat. Personally, I think the amount of healing makes the game lack suspense for the players…it’s not a matter of whether or not they’ll finish a combat, it’s just how long it takes. Sometimes I think the players are encouraged to use Daily abilities just to finish a long combat faster, because the auto-healing means that if they just sit and beat monsters down they’ll be no worse the wear at the end of the combat no matter how many blows they take.
Others are saying that 4e has just redefined the lines of where you begin to feel tension. You feel the loss of healing surges more than the loss of hit points, and there might be one combat a day where you wish you had a healing surge left. Some are just saying flat out they don’t think tension in combat does anything for the game.
So, what I want to know is, can you run a gritty, more realistic combat simulation with the 4e rules, or is there too much healing too easily accessed for it to ever feel like that?
I personally think it’s something missing in 4e…in previous editions, you had more flexibility to tweak combat to taste, but now since everything is so tightly wound into the idea of healing surges, even magic items, that it would require a major overhaul to make a grittier game possible
There’s only one individual combat per day where anyone should feel worried.

Why 4E D&D is geared towards combat

A few days ago, I posted that my group wasn’t having fun playing 4E. I stated that I thought 4E was really geared towards combat. Someone told me that they didn’t think this was true, so I laid down my reasons. I’ve posted these below.
Look at all the powers available to the players. All of them are specifically designed to make the PC better in combat. And 4E revolves around powers. Most powers either deal with how to hit a creature with a weapon or to use a blast, burst, or area effect of some sort. These effects all state how many squares are affected, necessitating minis and either Dungeon Tiles or grids of some sort.
The Kobold
The kobold is a D&D staple. Let’s compare the 3.5 kobold to the 4E kobold.
From the 3.5 Monster Manual
Kobolds are short, reptilian humanoids with cowardly and sadistic tendencies.
A kobold’s scaly skin ranges from dark rusty brown to a rusty black color. It has glowing red eyes. Its tail is nonprehensile. Kobolds wear ragged clothing, favoring red and orange.
Kobolds usually consume plants or animals but are not averse to eating intelligent beings. They spend most of their time fortifying the land around their lairs with traps and warning devices (such as spiked pits, tripwires attached to crossbows, and other mechanical contraptions).
Kobolds hate almost every other sort of humanoid or fey, especially gnomes and sprites.
A kobold is 2 to 2-1/2 feet tall and weighs 35 to 45 pounds.
Kobolds speak Draconic with a voice that sounds like that of a yapping dog.
Kobolds like to attack with overwhelming odds—at least two to one—or trickery; should the odds fall below this threshold, they usually flee. However, they attack gnomes on sight if their numbers are equal.
They begin a fight by slinging bullets, closing only when they can see that their foes have been weakened. Whenever they can, kobolds set up ambushes near trapped areas. They aim to drive enemies into the traps, where other kobolds wait to pour flaming oil over them, shoot them, or drop poisonous vermin onto them.
Kobolds live in dark places, usually underground locations and overgrown forests. They are good miners and often live in the mines they are developing. A kobold tribe sends out warbands that patrol within a 10-mile radius from the lair, attacking any intelligent creatures that enter their territory. Kobolds usually kill prisoners for food but occasionally sell some of them as slaves. Their nasty habits and their distrust of most other beings mean that they have many enemies.
A kobold lair has one noncombatant child and one egg per ten adults.
The patron deity of the kobolds is Kurtulmak, who despises all living creatures except kobolds.
From the 4E Monster Manual
Kobolds revere dragons and tend to dwell in and around places where dragons are known to lair. They skulk in the darkness, hiding from stronger foes and swarming to overwhelm weaker ones. Kobolds are cowardly and usually flee once bloodied unless a strong leader is present.
Kobolds like to set traps and ambushes. If they can’t get their enemies to walk into a trap, they try to sneak up as close as they can and then attack in a sudden rush.
Kobold Minion Tactics
Kobold minions are fierce in packs, but cowardly when separated. They can shift as a minor action each round to achieve flanking positions.
Kobold Skirmisher Tactics
Kobold skirmishers gang up on a single target to gain the benefit of mob attack, shifting as a minor action to gain combat advantage. They retreat when the fight turns against them, leading pursuers through passages and rooms riddled with traps, if possible.
Kobold Slinger Tactics
Kobold slingers avoid melee combat. They prefer to stay behind cover and bombard foes with special shot and sling stones.
Kobold Dragonshield Tactics
Kobold dragonshields are capable frontline combatants, keeping enemies away from their weaker kobold allies with their swords and shields. They like to gang up on single targets.
A kobold dragonshield gains resist 5 against a specific damage type based on the type of dragon it serves or reveres. For example, a kobold dragonshield working for a blue dragon has resist 5 lightning.
Kobold Wyrmpriest Tactics
A wyrmpriest keeps lots of kobold underlings between it and its enemies, using incite faith to embolden them. It prefers to make ranged attacks using energy orb, and enemies that get too close are blasted with dragon breath.
A wyrmpriest’s energy orb deals damage of a specific type based on the type of dragon the wyrmpriest serves or reveres. For example, a kobold wyrmpriest working for a black dragon deals acid damage with its energy orb power.
Kobold Slyblade Tactics
The kobold slyblade stays close to other kobolds, using sly dodge to turn them into living shields while it makes twin slash attacks against foes. Whenever possible, it shifts as a minor action, moves into a flanking position, and gains combat advantage.
Kobold Lore
A character knows the following information with a successful Nature check.
DC 15: Kobolds often dwell near a dragon’s lair, maintaining a safe distance but bringing sacrificial offerings to their “god.” Most dragons ignore kobolds, as a crocodile ignores the birds that pick its teeth clean. Once in a great while, however, a young dragon takes an interest in its kobold cult, which then becomes a real menace to the dragon’s enemies.
DC 20: Kobolds are skilled at making traps, which they use to capture prey and to acquire sacrifices for their dragon lords.
So in 3.5, you get a six paragraph description of the a kobold, a two paragraph description of how they act in combat, and three paragraphs about their society.
In 4E, you get two paragraphs to describe the kobold, eight paragraphs on tactics in combat, and two paragraphs on their society.
In other words, you get more fluff in 3.5 and more crunch in 4E. That’s what I see all throughout 4E.
The Fighter
The fighter is usually the simplest class to play. The fighter in 4E has three paragraphs of fluff describing the fighter, then crunch on the type of fighter you can be, some class features, and 10 pages of their powers.
For the 3.5 fighter, you get a description of the class, why they adventure, the characteristics of the fighter, the type of alignment fighters usually fall under, examples of religions fighters follow, backgrounds on the fighter, how certain races deal with being fighters, how other classes deal with fighters, and what role fighters play in the party. All that is spread over about a full page.
In 3.5, about 50% of the fighter entry deals with “crunch.” In 4E, about 99% of the fighter entry deals with “crunch.”
You don’t need a book to tell you how to roleplay, I know that. But the 4E Player’s Handbook has seemingly stripped out almost all of the fluff associated with creating characters and left in almost pure crunch. It is streamlined to help you figure out how to use the numbers associated with your character with almost nothing to give you ideas of how your character sees themselves in the world they’re in. So, unfortunately, I find that 4E plays more like a video-game than previous editions and, like most RPG video games, it all boils down to how the character does in comba

10 Crazy Ways to Kick Off Your Next Campaign

It’s a tradition as stale as the beer in the town’s lowliest tavern:
“You’re at the inn. Suddenly an old guy walks up and offers you a job.” Or, “You’re at the inn. Suddenly a bunch of orcs rush in and start busting up the place.” Or, “You’re at the inn. A drunk guy bumps into you, and you realize your coin purse is lighter.”
Now, there’s nothing inherently wrong with starting your adventure at the inn. But sometimes you just need a change of pace to keep your players on their toes. If you’re running low on inspiration, you’re in luck! Here are 10 unconventional ways to set your game in motion.
#1 – The Worst Hangover Ever
The PCs awaken to find themselves seated around an opulent table full of exotic foods and wines. The food is beginning to mold, and insects have gathered. Nobody can recall what they’ve done in the past few days, and nobody knows where they are or who hosted the dinner. But there is the small matter of a well-dressed corpse with a dagger between its shoulder blades. And is that the sound of guards coming…?
#2 – Escape from the Gallows
One of the PCs has been wrongly convicted of a heinous crime. Their sentence is death by hanging. The objective is to rescue them before the hangman’s work is done. This should provide a great opportunity for swashbuckling adventure, ala Pirates of the Caribbean. How will the party pull off the rescue, and how will they prove their friend’s innocence while living on the run?
#3 – Kidnapped!
The party members find themselves in a wagon, traveling over rough terrain. Their vision is obscured by black hoods, and their hands are bound behind their backs. They could be on their way to an audience with a powerful and super-secretive personality, or they could be on their way to certain death. Will they escape their bonds, or stay the course and see where fate leads them? As a twist, you could have the PCs awaken in a sealed room and struggle to find their way out.
#4 – Murder at the Masquerade
The PCs are guests at a masquerade ball. Everyone who’s anyone has been invited. Have the PCs choose their costumes and enjoy a fun evening of drinking, dancing, and maybe a tryst or two. At midnight, a servant runs screaming into the room. The host has been slain. She was last seen strolling toward her private garden with someone in costume – the exact same costume that one of the PCs is wearing. Watch them scramble to come up with an alibi.
#5 – The Message
The party is hailed by a small child holding a bound scroll. The seal looks familiar. In fact, it appears to be from someone very important. Just as the child draws near, a cloaked figure knocks him aside and snatches the missive. Watch the party frantically chase the thief through the city streets, and witness an urban landscape (with all its crowds, hazards, and hiding places) in its full glory.
Lightning bolt
Picture by Alex Rouvin
#6 – Disaster Strikes
Ever wanted to end the world? The PCs will certainly feel like their world is ending when a disaster (magical, natural, or war-driven) strikes their base city. There will be droves of deaths, massive destruction, and possibly flaming, falling debris. Survival is the goal of this harsh opening scenario.
#7 – The Prophecy
The party is ambushed by a band of assassins. They manage to capture one and interrogate him. It turns out that the killers were hired to slay one of the PCs in order to prevent a terrible prophecy from being fulfilled. The PC and his pals will have starring roles in what might turn out to be a series of world-shaking events.
#8 – The Chase is On
You know how some action flicks start with a car chase? You can do the same thing in D&D. Open the game with the PCs on horseback, ducking and dodging their way through a thick forest while their enemies give chase. If riding at breakneck speeds through hostile terrain isn’t exciting enough, you could always throw in the obligatory cliff.
#9 – Rude Interruption
The PCs have come to pay their last respects to a fallen hero of legend. Hundreds have gathered for the public funeral service. It’s a touching scene until something goes horribly wrong. This untoward event could be an invasion, a disastrous wizard duel, or the dead hero rising as an undead monstrosity. Your choices are only limited by your imagination.
#10 – Dreams and Visions
Dreams and visions can be used in many ways. In this case, they can be used to kick off your campaign in style. Give your PCs a dream so real it hurts – literally. Maybe they get wounded in the dream, only to wake up and find very real marks on their bodies. Or give them a premonition of future events so vivid that the PCs believe they’re actually living through those events right now.

Worldwide D&D Game Day

Saturday, March 21st, 2009

Ready an Action to Play on March 21st!

Prepare yourself (and your friends) to join D&D fans all around the world on March 21st for Worldwide D&D Game Day: Player’s Handbook 2. Everything you need to play will be on-hand, so it’s a great chance for new players, as well as veterans, to band together and find some adventure.
Details about what’s in-store (and what classes you might be playing) will be along soon. So, mark your calendar and tell your friends—WWDDGD: PH2 is coming.

Game Day Locations

At this time, we'd direct you to our Store and Event Locator. Be sure to check there for locations in D&D Game Day near you!

Organizer Information

This year, the 2009 D&D Game Days are being run through the Wizards Play Network. You must be a WPN Organizer in order to run a D&D Game Day. If you're interested in running a Game Day, please review the step-by-step instructions on how to schedule!
If you are not currently a WPN Organizer, there are some steps to take to become one. Please visit the WPN Organizer sign-up page.
And, don't hesitate in contacting us with any questions at

Have a great Game Day!
--The Game Day Team

Danger in the Wilderness - Steal This Hook

The D&D website said this about the forthcoming 4th Edition of Dungeons & Dragons : "Civilized folk live in small, isolated points of light scattered across a big, dark, dangerous world. Most of the world is monster-haunted wilderness." Even in the 3rd Edition of the game, the wilderness is generally a monster-filled treasure house of fun for adventurers. A hydra looms out of the mountain pass to snap up several victims at once. A dragon swoops down on a caravan that has no way to stave it off. Undead crawl out of crypts or dark places in the forest. The wilderness is again the focus of Steal This Hook, as this month we look at some ideas involving the conflict between nature and civilization.

Wolf at the Door -- Forgotten Realms

Thesk straddles the western end of the Golden Way, the trade road that connects far-off Kara-Tur with the main part of Faerûn. Because of this, Thesk is a very wealthy nation and handles a lot of trade. "I want you to go to Two Stars," says the woman seated across from you. "I have a certain property coming in on a caravan from Shou Lung, and I would like to have it 'diverted' from the Golden Way before it reaches Telflamm and gets taxed. All you have to do is meet with a merchant named Beavom Tastald and give him this, and he will give my package into your keeping. Take it south on the Cold Road into Nethentir and meet the Spry Jewel of the Sea. The captain will take it off your hands."

Assuming they agree, the PCs find themselves traveling the Golden Way toward Two Stars in very wintry weather. It is unseasonably cold, so much so that trade has been slowed on the Golden Way through Thesk and Rashemen. The farmers curse the weather because crops have been ruined (assuming you place this adventure in a season other than winter). And to top off everything, reports of monsters in the wilderness increase as one travels eastward from Phsant.

About a day's journey from Two Stars, the PCs come across the remains of six people and two large wolflike creatures. The people have been eaten to the bone, their possessions lie scattered around and hidden underneath the snow; to their credit, they apparently took down two of the wolves before succumbing to the rest of the pack.

In Two Stars, the PCs find that the caravan they are waiting for has been delayed, or at least that it has not arrived yet. While they wait, they may encounter the following possibilities:

d100 Adventure Directions

00-50 At the Crossroads Tavern, a member of the Gallidy family sees the PCs and tries to hire them to determine where the monsters are coming from. Monsters are bad for business.

51-80 Beavom Tastald notes the PCs' interest in the delayed caravan, and he offers to pay them to travel the Golden Way and find it, or at least discover what happened to it. This leads the PCs into Rashemen, where they are attacked by winter wolves.

81-00 A farmer in Two Stars, or encountered along the road, could ask the PCs to find a missing relative (who has been mauled by winter wolves).

d100 Story Elements

Choose or randomly generate story elements from the table below, or make up your own.

00-40 Winter wolves from the Sunrise Mountains in Rashemen have expanded their range into Thesk because of the unusually strong winter storms. Packs of them ravage the countryside and eat farmer and merchant alike. If the winter subsides, the wolves would retreat to their normal range.

41-55 The storms center in northern Rashemen and are not natural. Wizards are causing them, and the spread of winter wolves is an accidental side effect.

56-70 Winter wolves are not the only monsters to spread into Thesk. Remorhazes, cold worms, frost giants, and other fell creatures pose dangers to the residents of Thesk and Rashemen.

71-95 The caravan carrying the package the PCs are to pick up has been attacked by ravaging winter monsters, and the package has been taken by frost giants into the Sunrise Mountains.

96-00 The winter has brought a trio of white dragons out of the northern Sunrise Mountains, and they have taken to attacking Mulsantir on a regular basis. The PCs could be asked to solve this problem too, and the dragons might be in league with the wizards causing the storms.

Campaign Adaptation

Frostburn is probably your best friend for this adventure, since it involves an area that has become a frostfell area.

Eberron: The Talenta Plains and eastern Karrnath are good for this adventure, since the winter wolves probably live in the mountains of the Mror Holds. Winter in the Talenta Plains could be a cause of considerable problems with the dinosaurs.

Greyhawk: The Duchy of Tenh is a natural place for this adventure, but Geoff or the March of Sterich could work too. The wolves (and weather) could even spread as far as the Hold of the Sea Princes.

Besieged -- Eberron

The land of Darguun is now a rougher place than it was when it was part of Cyre, chiefly because of its new masters. But the Mournland's presence on the northeastern border also contributes, since strange monsters stumble out of that ruined land and lay waste to whatever they find. The goblins at Gorgonhorn do their best to stop these incursions. But others are also concerned.

About three years ago, Oressny, a druid of the Warden of the Wood sect, established a small grove at the foothills of the small mountain range to the north of Gorgonhorn. She hopes to save the land from the Mournland, which she believes will grow slowly and engulf all of Khorvaire. She protects the land and the animals, and studies the blighting effects of the Mournland. She claims the whole mountain range as her grove, though her core grove is much smaller and on the southern side of the range. Her presence is not welcomed by all. The PCs receive, by means of animal messenger, a plea for help from Oressny.

d100 Story Elements

Select or randomly generate story elements from the table below.

00-55 Goblins are divided as to Oressny's presence. The goblins of Gorgonhorn welcome an ally of sorts that will help defend against the monsters of the Mournland, but some goblins like to hunt wyverns and other creatures in those mountains, and Oressny opposes them as well. They are gathering a force to attack the grove and remove the threat to their recreation.

56-90 Oressny has established her grove on a secret node of power, and even she is not aware of it. The node can be harnessed for evil, and a group of goblins dedicated to the overthrow of the Darguun government (in their favor) want to use that power. To do so, they must remove Oressny.

91-00 Oressny claims the whole mountain area, but others in that area don't recognize her claim. Specifically, a goblin druid living deeper in the mountains has his own grove. This goblin wants to eliminate the competition, and he musters a force of beasts and goblin allies to deal with Oressny's grove.

Campaign Adaptation

When inserting this adventure into campaign worlds, you may find Races of the Wild useful, or Complete Divine, or even Masters of the Wild if you want to convert some stuff.

Forgotten Realms: Try somewhere near the Reaching Wood and the nearby hills.

Greyhawk: This adventure could work in the Flinty Hills, with the goblins coming from a tribe in the hills rather than a nation nearby.

Bats and Snakes -- Forgotten Realms

The High Moor and the Serpent Hills are well known for being the haunts of monsters, and both are wisely avoided by the prudent traveler. But danger does not always stay contained. Monsters enlarge their territory or move into new areas when forced.

Traveling near Scornubel, the PCs hear of yuan-ti attacks on local residents near Soubar, Triel, and Hill's Edge. Specifically, reports come of massive attacks across the region by roving yuan-ti bands that were thought to live in relative isolation in the Serpent Hills. The PCs receive a message to come to Elturel, where High Rider Dhelt wants to meet with competent mercenaries. Lord Dhelt explains that the spread of the yuan-ti will soon reach his area of control, and he has insufficient soldiers to repel them and provide the normal level of protection to travelers that he guarantees. Lord Dhelt would like to hire mercenaries (the PCs) to go north and stop the yuan-ti raids by whatever means are necessary. He is willing to pay handsomely for this service, and he has access to somewhat rare magic items because of the volume of trade that passes through Elturel. He is willing to see what he can acquire that the PCs might be looking for but be unable to find.

d100 Motivations

00-60 Lord Dhelt is sincere; he really wants to head this problem off at the pass, so to speak.

61-85 The yuan-ti, if captured, are interested in getting help in removing the threat in their homeland that has driven them south.

86-00 A local wannabe warlord, Darkal Ish, has rallied the roving yuan-ti to his banner with the promise of solving their problem if they'll slay a few humans for him. He wants the PCs dead and puts out a price on their heads as soon as they are involved.

d100 Story Elements

Choose or randomly generate story elements from this table.

00-30 The yuan-ti have been driven out of the Serpent Hills by massive swarms of stirges. The yuan-ti are raiding in the area to gain equipment so they can return and reclaim their homelands.

31-50 Untold thousands of stirges are streaming from a portal in the High Moor at the edge of the Serpent Hills. They are moving southward too, and will cover the lands of the Western Heartlands like a blight if the portal is not closed. There may even be fiendish stirges from a gate to the Abyss.

51-75 There are a relatively small number of stirges, but a yuan-ti vampire controls them and hopes to drive out its fellow yuan-ti in an attempt to claim the Serpent Hills for its own. It plans to amass an army of minion creatures and overrun the lands to the south. The yuan-ti vampire has used the stirges strategically to create the impression that far more of them exist.

76-00 The stirges themselves are vampires (monstrous vampires from Ghostwalk) and thus even more dangerous than normal. They have claimed the whole of the Serpent Hills and even driven away the less powerful dragons (imagine fifty creatures attaching themselves to you and doing 1d4 Con damage or a negative level per round).

Campaign Adaptation

This adventure fits into any campaign world with yuan-ti living in a remote place. Since stirges are magical beasts, there are no sourcebooks to help flesh them out, but you could use Ghostwalk for monstrous vampire stirges or apply templates to make them more interesting. Yuan-ti are described in numerous sources, but Serpent Kingdoms is probably the best.

Eberron: This adventure would be great in Xen'drik somewhere, since there is a lot of wilderness. The yuan-ti would be driven toward Stormreach or harass explorers penetrating the surface. On Khorvaire, the stirges could come from the Demon Wastes and drive yuan-ti of the Eldeen Forest into western Aundair.

Greyhawk: Stirges might come out of the lands of Iuz and infest the Vesve Forest, and thus drive yuan-ti down into Furyondy and Highfolk.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.

Flying Fortresses - Steal This Hook

When one looks into the sky, one doesn't expect to see a building flying overhead. But this month, that is exactly what you will see. Take a look at these adventure hooks that involve flying buildings (or buildings that could fly) and add a reason for the PCs to look up from time to time to your game.

A Blustery Day

Forgotten Realms

"The storm came without warning, and yet with plenty of warning. I know that sounds contradictory, but it's true," says the lithe elven woman over drinks in the backroom of a dingy tavern. "Harper diviners never foresaw a storm of such strength and destruction, but once they did see it, it moved slowly enough that people in its path could evacuate. Mostly.

"We know it's not a natural storm. The storm covers an area about ten miles across, but the main winds and rain are concentrated in its center and cover an area about a mile in diameter. Within that area it is too windy for flight, and too turbulent with debris to see anything. Since it is carving a path of destruction across the Dalelands, we need to find out more. Harpers have moved in advance of its path to hasten the evacuations while others seek out the source of this storm, but all who have gone into the central vortex have not returned. Perhaps they have found the source and are busy combating it, or perhaps they are trapped or dead. We don't know.

"So, we turn to you. We have heard of your expertise and skill, and hope that you can at least get us word on what is happening there. We need you to penetrate the central storm area and determine what is there, and, if possible, find those who have gone before you into the mouth of destruction."

d100 Story Elements

Select or generate story elements from this table.

00-35: At the center of the storm floats a large castle. Its owner, a wizard, accidentally opened a gate to the Elemental Plane of Air, which is now allowing material from the Plane of Air to enter Faerûn. The force of the air lifted the fortress from the ground and is carrying it aloft as the disturbance crosses the Realms.

36-70: A castle at the center of the storm is being carried aloft by enslaved djinni and air elementals. The wizard owner of the tower carved out an empire on the Plane of Air and is using elementals and djinni to create and magnify the storm to carry the castle.

71-75: The forces lifting the castle are out of control, and the storm is expanding at a rate of several square miles of area per day. If not stopped, it will engulf the whole world.

76-85: The castle owner has an artifact that allows mental domination of creatures, and she is adding creatures to the storm, including green dragons. She wants to use the creatures as an army to attack devastated areas of land.

86-00: A number of people have been sucked up into the storm's eye and are in pitched battles with different creatures (especially elementals) when the PCs penetrate to the center of the storm.

Campaign Adaptation

This adventure may not fit every campaign world. If you do use it, then you might find Complete Mage, Complete Arcane, and Spell Compendium useful for arcane development. Depending on what terrain is beneath the storm, you may find Sandstorm, Frostburn, or Stormwrack useful as well. Stronghold Builder's Guidebook might help with the castle itself.

Eberron: This one is difficult for Eberron because there isn't an Elemental Plane of Air. You could have the gate connect somehow to a part of Kythri.

Greyhawk: Make the castle owner a Suel or Baklunish wizard using ancient magic, and run the storm across the PCs' home country or region to make it more personal.

More Than Meets the Eye

Forgotten Realms

The journey across the Akanamere had been without incident. The PCs were hired to track a group of smugglers, and they did track them to a lizardfolk community on the other side of the vast lake. Taking a small ship, they planned to cross the lake, defeat the smugglers, and recover the goods. Then the pirates attacked. Their ship was larger than the PCs, and they were better armed, and though the PCs accounted for a number of them, their ship did not fare so well. They were left adrift in the Akanamere.

They made their way to a large island that they could see in the distance, then prepared to either be rescued (due to a magical sending they made) or recover magic to teleport to safety. In the meantime, they started to explore this island, which they found to be uninhabited. Then they found a shaft leading downward.


This adventure is set up to be PC-motivated, meaning that they explore if they want to. If you want to give them a nudge, then you can have their patron hire them to explore the shaft after they are rescued, or explore the island looking for buried pirate treasure (based on a map, which may be real or fake).

Once the PCs reveal the existence of the fortress, a great many people will be interested in it, especially if they can get it flying again.

d100 Story Elements

Choose or randomly generate story elements from this table.

00-50: The shaft leads to an ancient flying fortress, from the time of Tchazzar's wars with Unther. The Untherites had found a flying fortress from the time of Netheril and were using it as a flying battle platform. Tchazzar arranged for it to crash, and it landed in the Akanamere. It was never recovered -- and soon forgotten -- and the island formed on top of it.

51-80: Sea creatures from below inhabit the fortress, and the PCs will find them difficult to dislodge. Possibilities include lizardfolk, sahuagin variants, aquatic umber hulks, and even large sea monsters such as aboleths or dragon turtles.

81-85: The fortress is actually a sentient magic item in a sleeping state (like when dragons sleep), and if the PCs awaken it they could be in for trouble. It has been down here a long time and is anxious to fly again to fulfill its purpose of destruction.

86-00: The fortress came to rest on a rise in the sea floor, and beneath it is a cave complex that leads eventually to the Underdark (in a remote location). What once served as a doorway in the bottom of the fortress to release flying creatures now leads into one of the upper caves. Creatures from the Underdark have penetrated into the cave complex, but they have not found the way into the fortress yet.

Campaign Adaptation

Flying fortresses may not fit every campaign, but you can always have the fortress grounded and centuries of rain and floods fill in a lake around it. Stormwrack may help with the aquatic elements, and Stronghold Builder's Guidebook might help with the fortress itself. Dungeonscape might too, since it's a dungeon now as well as a fortress.

Eberron: The large floating fortresses were from the Last War, and many crashed around Khorvaire. This adventure goes well in Lake Cyre, but could go in Lake Brey too.

Greyhawk: Flying fortresses are rarely even heard of in the Flanaess, but there could be one left from the Suel Imperium that was crashed in the Nyr Dyv, or perhaps Iuz had one centuries ago that was grounded in Whyestil Lake.

Monastery of Evil


"Please help us," the man says to the PCs. He sits across from the PCs in a tavern in Fairhaven, capitol of Aundair. "You are the only ones who have expressed any interest in our plight."

And the PCs had, somewhat. The man and his sister told them that their younger brother had gone to study at the Monastery of the Wild Coast, which is situated overlooking the Eldeen Bay near the Whisper Woods. He had been there for nine years, and had written that he was leaving and coming home. Apparently he had some conflict with the head monks and had renounced his vows. But he never arrived. When the man went to the monastery, they were told by the monks that the brother had left years ago, and they had no knowledge of him. But the sister did not feel they were telling the truth.

Further, the man and his sister noticed that the monastery was crumbling into ruin around the monks, who seemed oblivious. The monks were uncharacteristically unfriendly, and even rude. The man and his sister don't feel competent to challenge the monks, and so they sought adventurers. The PCs answered the call. However, the promise of treasure seems remote at an occupied monastery.

To keep with the flying fortress theme, you can have the monastery lifted off the ground by the evil magic of the statue, something that happened after the man and his sister visited the place.

d100 Motivations

00-30: The man and his sister are sincere in what they tell the PCs. They are willing to offer rare magic or 500 gp to find out what happened to their brother. Where they'd get the rare magic is anyone's guess.

31-50: The statue (see below) wants sacrifices, so two monks are posing as the man and the sister to lure the unwary to be killed at the monastery.

51-00: Instead of the missing monk, the PCs hear stories of a strange monastic ruins that rise above the Whisper Wood. A strange glow fills the ruins at night, driving off all natural creatures.

d100 Story Elements

00-30: The monastery acquired a statue of a demon with a huge gem in its forehead. The monks pledged to keep it safe from the world, but were corrupted by the evil power of the statue. Those that resisted the corruption fled and/or were killed.

31-50: A small number of uncorrupted monks escaped and took refuge in the wilderness to purify themselves. If found, they could provide a lot of information.

51-75: The gem enhances magic, but destroys matter around it, so the monastery is now a crumbling ruin (it is falling into ruin much faster than normally possible). Monks still occupy it, who welcome the progress of ruin of their monastery (in direct contradiction to their previous care of the site).

76-00: The statue is drawing Shavarath closer, causing it to become coterminus with Eberron sooner than it should be. Soon, Aundair will become a wreck of demonic battlefields. Only the destruction of the statue in the pits of Khyber can stop this terrible fate.

Campaign Adaptation

Complete Warrior and Complete Adventurer could help with the monks, and Stronghold Builder's Guidebook could help with the monastery. Since 4th Edition is coming out soon, pull out all the stops and use any book you have that you haven't used yet. Mind flayer monks might make this different, for example.

Forgotten Realms: There are a lot of places to hide a monastery in the Realms. Pick your favorite place, or wherever the PCs are now. You could even have it in Waterdeep with a lot of work. I suggest Amn or Calimshan.

Greyhawk: Choosing a site in Zeif or Ekbir would add an interesting eastern flavor, and it would put the monastery close to the ancient Baklunish empire that once occupied the lands now called the Plains of the Paynims. Perhaps the demon statue is a remnant of the old Baklunish magics, or a Suel item created to destroy the Baklunish.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.

Love for the Undead

Steal This Hook

The relentless thud of unliving feet sounds behind you. As fast as you run, you cannot lose them because they never sleep, never tire, never stop. Claws and teeth bared, they seek your blood, your life force, or—perhaps the worst fate of all—they seek to make you into one of them.

Undead have always been a true horror of the Dungeons & Dragons game; one of the reasons is that players are subtly bothered by enemies that are already dead (and thus don’t have the same outlook on… life). Face it, undead are just creepy. And some, like vampires, are downright terrifying because they’re so hard to destroy and they… just… won’t… die!

In this month of love in the real world, Steal This Hook delves into the horrors of the undead. Introduce these hooks into your campaign when you need a jolt to heat up the lives of your PCs!

Who Put That Pile of Bodies There?

Reaching the river just as night falls, the adventurers make camp in a somewhat secluded spot and settle in for a rest. The woods have been quiet all day long, and there are no tracks near their camp site. The river seems very low, but it could be the dry season (Nature check DC 15 to know this is not the dry season, or that this area never has river levels this noticeably low). As the night passes, the river flow becomes even slower, and shortly after midnight something floats by the camp (Perception check DC 10 to spot it, and DC 20 to realize that it is the head of an elf). If they don’t identify the object right away, they can follow it downstream and do so. However, by this time the river is barely flowing, and the head is part floating, part rolling along the bottom.

Several hours’ travel upstream, the PCs come upon a horrifying sight. The blockage in the river is caused by a huge pile of dead bodies! Several have been eaten… at least, partially.

How can anyone resist the mystery of a pile of bodies?

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. The pile of bodies has obviously been there a long time. The bodies on the bottom have been there weeks or months, while the top ones are more recent additions. Some on the lower levels have been chewed upon, or eaten entirely. The pile blocks the river almost completely, like a beaver dam. Unblocking the river is the easy part; solving the mystery is more difficult.

2. Strangely, there is very little gear or clothing with the pile of bodies. It is as if this is a dumping ground for useless bodies.

3. These bodies are the remains of an undead army that a necromancer created and lost control of. He had to destroy them, and dumped them all here. This dumping ground, by the way, is miles from his base, but there are tracks of a large creature pulling a wagon that lead back there… where the necromancer is busy trying to make more undead that he can control.

4. The bodies were placed here by a reaper (see Open Grave p.178). It has been collecting bodies from the area and depositing them here for later transport to an evil temple. The bodies are destined to become undead servitors of some kind.

5. The bodies were dropped here by undead giants (or live giants) who repelled an attack of adventurers on their home. The home location is many miles from here, and the undead giants live there in peace (perhaps with live giants as well). See the Society section of Open Grave starting on page 15 for ideas about peaceful undead communities.

6. An elven necromancer in a nearby settlement is dumping the bodies here. They are potential recruits for his army, and he wants to complete one massive ritual to animate them all as a kind of gestalt zombie. He or she wants as many bodies as possible, and has stationed a number of dangerous creatures (especially undead) near the body pile to slay anyone who investigates.

Reaper Lore

A character knows the following information with a successful Religion check.

DC 15: Common folk regard reapers as embodiments of death that escort souls to the Shadowfell, but their true nature is more sinister. Reapers are servants of Vecna, and they are sent out by the god and his followers to collect souls for profane rituals.

DC 20: Reapers are failed undead imitations of the Raven Queen’s sorrowsworn. Although Vecna did not succeed in copying the powerful servants, he has nonetheless found use for reapers. Many reapers are also in the service of demon lords, especially Orcus, who uses them for the same foul purpose as Vecna does.

DC 25: An abhorrent reaper is a paragon of its kind. The creature collects souls of only the most powerful creatures. Abhorrent reapers also serve as guardians for powerful undead.

DC 30: The Raven Queen despises reapers and dispatches sorrowsworn and other powerful servants specifically to eradicate them. Her followers have been known to reward individuals who dispatch reapers.

Damn You Halflings, Anyway!

The man shambled into the tavern and up to the bar, and even tried to order a drink. However, the flesh dropping off his body scared everyone out of the place (except perhaps the PCs) as most people ran screaming for the front door. “Been a long time, Tomersaid,” said the bartender to the corpse as it struggled to make its wishes known.

“What happened to you? Now, don’t get worked up,” he said as he put a beer down on the counter then backed away quickly. His disappearance through the back door leaves only the PCs and one cowering waitress in the room with the zombie beer drinker.

If the PCs ask around, they'll learn of only one known necromancer in the whole region, a halfling wizard named Piotorr. Piotorr’s family try to keep his activities under control, and as a result he does not have a reputation for robbing graves and animating the relatives of townsfolk. So what is happening here?

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. The corpse in the bar, Tomersaid, is a relative of the Glowynn family. He died recently, and was buried in the cemetery. His family is very superstitious; they blame Piotorr, the only known necromancer in the area. They swear vengeance as soon as the reports of Tomersaid’s unliving state reach them.

2. Is Piotorr the only necromancer in the area? Maybe not. Perhaps there is another who is trying out his or her talents. Or maybe this unknown necromancer is trying to incite violence against Piotorr and his family, and maybe against all halflings in the area. By doing what only Piotorr is known to be able to do, this secret necromancer could then lead rallies in the streets and incite violence.

3. In a strange twist, Piotorr did not animate Tomersaid, but knows who did. Piotorr is trying to protect this other person from discovery and persecution, and thus does things to throw off the hunt for the real perpetrator without incriminating himself. The resultant situation becomes very confusing for the PCs (and the law) to sort out, and could likely result in Piotorr’s death.

4. Tomersaid is actually still dead. His body is possessed by a spirit vampire (see Open Grave p.189) to feed on others in town.

5. Tomersaid is only one of many bodies that have been unearthed and stolen from the cemetery. Soon more townsfolk will return from the dead, sort of, to claim even more victims.


Either in a tavern or on the streets of a town, the PCs cannot help but overhear this snippet of conversation. “We’re the last of the Goldiron clan, and we’re here to find the clan ancestral home,” says the dwarf woman. She acts like the leader of the group. “We think that a branch of our family lives at the citadel; they would be the only relations we still have left in the world.”

“Yeah, all our kin were killed by orcs a couple months ago. Only the four of us survived,” says a younger male dwarf, then nods toward the dwarf woman. "I think she worries about just the four of us going into the mountains alone. After what happened to the others, Bardryn has been especially careful in our travels.”

“That’s enough, Orsik. We don’t need to tell our whole story to these people.” Bardryn starts to turn away, but then turns back to add, “Truth be told, I would be interested in some people who could go with us tomorrow into the mountains to find the citadel. Can you recommend anyone?”

If the PCs themselves are interested, Bardryn is willing to pay 1 treasure parcel in non-magical rewards for escort to the citadel, which is about four days’ travel into the mountains.

This hook can tie very well into the Overlook area, if you have run (or intend to) Siege of Bordrin’s Watch from the Dragon Magazine Scales of War Adventure Path. It is a largely dwarven area with possibly abandoned citadels.

Story Elements
Select or generate story elements from this table.

1. The dwarven citadel was abandoned by the dwarves many years ago, as old age took its toll on the residents. They moved to distant lands, leaving little trace to their new home.

2. Recently, a vampire lord set up shop in the abandoned citadel and brought in a legion of vampires, vampire spawn, and even some vampire thralls (see Open Grave p. 219).

3. Years ago, a wizard named Altoor fled to the citadel after stealing an artifact of immense power and evil from a rival wizard. Hoping to master the artifact in the solitude of the citadel, he was instead mastered by it and transformed into an undead lich or mummy. Since then, he has been following the commands of his master (the artifact) and collecting other servitors. Thus, the whole citadel is full of zombies, ghouls, wights, and more.

4. The dwarves did not abandon the citadel, and are still there to this day. However, they have been… changed. Years ago, a vampire infiltrated the citadel and set up its home in a forgotten catacomb. From there, it has been slowly creating vampire thralls of the dwarves. Now most of them serve the vampire, and would see the newly arriving dwarves and the PCs as yet more servants to add to their master’s numbers.

Vampire Thrall

Vampire spawn are useful servants, but sometimes a vampire requires servants that are more hardy and subtle. By feeding on a subject’s blood over an extended period of time, a vampire can condition a creature to be a strong yet obedient servant. “Vampire thrall” is a template you can apply to any living humanoid to represent that creature’s service to a vampire lord.

Prerequisites: Living humanoid

Vampire Thrall
Elite Brute
(shapechanger, undead)
XP Elite
Defenses AC +2; Reflex +2; Fortitude +2; Will –2
Saving Throws +2
Action Points 1
Immune disease, poison
Resist 5 necrotic at 1st level, 10 necrotic at 11th level, 15 necrotic at 15th level
Vulnerable 5 radiant at 1st level, 10 radiant at 11th level, 15 radiant at 21st level
Hit Points +10 per level + Constitution score
MeleeBlood Drain (standard; recharges when an adjacent creature becomes bloodied) Healing
Requires combat advantage against the target; vampire thrall’s level + 2 vs. Fortitude; 1d12 + Charisma modifier damage, and the target is weakened (save ends). In addition, the vampire thrall regains hit points equal to one-quarter of its maximum hit points. Increase damage to 2d12 + Charisma modifier at 11th level.
Telepathic Link
The vampire thrall’s master can speak and be spoken to by the vampire thrall as if both had telepathy 20.
Wolf Form (standard; daily) Polymorph
The vampire thrall takes the form of a Medium black wolf, gaining speed 8 and the savage bite power, described below.

Wolf Form
MeleeSavage Bite (standard; at-will)
Vampire spawn’s level + 4 vs AC; 1d10 + Strength modifier damage, and the target is knocked prone. Increase damage to 2d10 + Strength modifier damage at 11th level.

About the Author

Robert Wiese has been playing D&D since 1978 after he watched a game played in the car on the way home from a Boy Scouts meeting. He was fascinated, and delved into this strange world of dragons and magic and sourcebooks. Years later, he was hired to edit tournaments for the RPGA Network, and from there progressed to running the network after his boss was assassinated in the great Christmas purge of 1996. Times were tough, but he persevered and brought the RPGA into a shining new era. Eventually he met a girl who liked to play D&D too, and he left Renton for the warmth and casinos of Reno, Nevada. Now, he works in the Pharmacology department of UNR studying mouse foot muscles and the effects of RF emissions on same. He spends as much time as possible with his wife Rhonda, son Owen, and newborn daughter Rebecca.

4e Mind Flayer

Mind Flayer

Average Height: 5’8”-6’4”
Average Weight: 160-180 lbs.

Ability Scores: +2 Intelligence, +2 Charisma
Size: Medium
Speed: 7 Squares
Vision: Darkvision

Languages: Common, Deep Speech, Telepathy (10)
Skill Bonuses: +2 Insight, +2 Intimidate
Illithid Mind: You gain a +1 racial bonus to your Will defense.
Masterful Presence: Enemies within 2 squares of you suffer a –1 penalty to their Will defense and saves against fear.
Mind Blast: You can use Mind Blast as an encounter power.

Mind Blast Mind Flayer Racial Power
You unleash the pent up psychic power of your
alien mind, ravaging the minds of your enemies
and weakening their will to fight.

Encounter*Psychic, Psionic
Minor Action Close blast 3
Targets: All creatures in area
Special: Mind Flayers are immune to this power
Attack: Intelligence +2 vs. Will, Wisdom +2 vs.
Will, or Charisma +2 vs. Will.
Hit: 1d4 + Intelligence modifier psychic damage
and the target is weakened until the end of your
next turn.
Increase to +4 bonus and 2d4 + Intelligence
modifier psychic damage at 11th level, and to +6
bonus and 3d4 + Intelligence modifier psychic
damage at 21st level.
Special: When you create your character, choose
Intelligence, Wisdom, or Charisma as the ability
score you use when making attack rolls with this
power. This choice remains throughout your
character's life.

This is my revised Mind Flayer. I changed dazed to weakened. I feel that's a decent trade-off. I was trying to think of decent racial traits to give the Mind Flayer, and I kind of liked the Psychic Static aura the Mind Flayer Mastermind had so I nerfed it and gave it to my Mind Flayer build. I might write a feat later on that's paragon tier that allows the PC to increase the range or effect.


WorldWorksGames to Create 3D Pathfinder Terrain

Regular Releases Bring Adventure Path Encounters to Life

Thu, Feb 5, 2009, 05:54 PM

Paizo Publishing, LLC, creators of the popular Pathfinder series of tabletop fantasy roleplaying adventures and accessories, today announced a partnership with WorldWorksGames that will bring three-dimensional terrain sets to gaming tables around the world. Pathfinder Terrain will detail key encounter areas from the Legacy of Fire Pathfinder Adventure Path, with a terrain kit for each adventure. Each full-color downloadable PDF-format Pathfinder Terrain kit retails for $16.99, and will be available for purchase at in late February 2009 and at other quality online retailers shortly thereafter. Additional releases are scheduled on a monthly basis.

The first release, Ruined Undercrypt of Kelmarane, supports the first Legacy of Fire adventure, "Howl of the Carrion King," by Paizo Publisher Erik Mona. "It's really amazing to see my dungeon come to life in glorious three dimensions," says Mona. "Gamers are going to flip with excitement when these kits hit the table. All of us at Paizo are absolutely thrilled with the quality WorldWorksGames has put into their Pathfinder Terrain kits."

WorldWorksGames is well known as an early innovator in the gaming terrain market, producing a wide range of terrain genres. An early adopter of the now popular Adobe PDF format, WorldWorksGames has established itself as one of the premier "print-build-PLAY!" terrain makers.

For further updates and or a complete catalog listing please visit or

Paizo Publishing®, LLC is a leading publisher of fantasy roleplaying games, accessories, board games, and novels. Paizo's Pathfinder® line of adventures and Pathfinder Chronicles™ campaign setting support materials combines decades of game design experience into one evocative system compatible with the 3.5 rules. Paizo's GameMastery® line offers easy-to-use tools for game masters of any fantasy roleplaying game to improve their gaming experience. Titanic Games™, Paizo's board game imprint, unleashes fun, challenging games like Kill Doctor Lucky™ and Yetisburg™ that appeal to both families and casual gamers alike. Paizo's Planet Stories® line of science fiction and fantasy novel reprints promises a master class in the genre aimed at building the greatest fantasy and science fiction library ever assembled. is the leading online hobby retail store, offering tens of thousands of products from a variety of publishers to customers all over the world. In the six years since its founding, Paizo Publishing has received more than a dozen major awards and has grown to become one of the most influential companies in the hobby games industry.

Hands-On: Dragon Age: Origins Hearkens Back to Fantasy RPGs of Old

By Nate Ralph

REDWOOD CITY, California — With its giant battle axes, labyrinthine dialogue trees and magical quests, the upcoming Dragon Age: Origins is a blast from ye olde past.
Were it not for the game's vastly improved visuals, you might think you had stepped back into the golden age of the late '90s, when PC gamers could put on their robes and wizard hats and fake a familiarity with the arcane Dungeons & Dragons rule set.
But much has changed in the last decade. During a recent visit to the Redwood Shores studio of the game's publisher, Electronic Arts, I played Dragon Age and once again stepped into a world swirling with magic and swordplay.
Developed by BioWare, the company known for epic, story-driven role-playing games like Baldur's Gate and Mass Effect, Dragon Age is shaping up to be a decidedly next-gen approach to the classic fantasy genre.
(Dragon Age will be released for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC in the second half of 2009. I played the PC version.)
The mere whisper of the name Baldur's Gate is likely to get more than a few role-playing fans waxing poetic. BioWare's classic RPG stole hundreds of hours of our lives, steeping players in a world rich with lore and complex combat mechanics. That we're still talking about it so many years later is a testament to the power it held over a generation. BioWare hopes to resurrect those fond memories, dubbing Dragon Age: Origins the "spiritual successor" to Baldur.
Dragon Age: Origins puts players in the boots of one of the last Grey Wardens, an ancient order of warriors sworn to protect the world from the Blight — evil monsters that once lived underground, but have risen to surface to wage war. My experience began in the encampment of the Dalish, elves who were enslaved by humans for thousands of years, but are now living life as second-class citizens. I was there to recruit fighters for an army to take on the Blight, but getting help was going to require doing a few favors.
Dragon Age is a story-driven game, which means lots of introductions to other characters, history lessons that kick-start quests and sifting through dialogue trees to chat with the populace. If you're the type of gamer who abhors anything coming between you and bludgeoning something to death, Dragon Age will be a difficult title to get through.
And don't think you can just skip through the dialogue, because it's crucial to understanding the decisions that you're asked to make during the adventure.
"There are times when you just sort of push back from the keyboard and go, 'What am I going to do here?'" says the game's executive producer, Dan Tudge. Dragon Age, he says, is a game for mature audiences — not because of blood and gore, but because of "the weight and reality of the choices you'd expect to experience in heavy situations."
In the quest I became entangled in, the Dalish leader needed the heart of the local werewolf chieftain to prevent wounded elves from becoming werewolves themselves. Sounds simple enough. But when I fought my way into the heart of the werewolves' lair, they asked me to sit down and discuss things. Without spoiling the plot, the werewolves told me that the elves weren't exactly the hapless victims they appeared to be. What call will you make?
Your in-game party can consist of a maximum of four characters. A "party approval meter" will determine how partners react to you, and is based on the actions you take during your adventure. If you kill too many innocent people, your morally correct sidekicks might ditch you. But if you play your cards right or ply characters with gifts, they might offer you a lucrative side quest, or even become a romantic interest.
Battles take place in real time, with the computer taking control of whatever players in your party you're not controlling directly. A Tactics menu allows you to program characters in your party to take specific actions when certain conditions are met. For example, if Warrior B ever falls below 50 percent health, Mage A could automatically drop whatever he or she is doing and start casting healing spells. The higher your character's level, the more Tactics you'll be able to assign.
While BioWare has abandoned the traditional Dungeons & Dragons rule set in favor of its own system, it has kept the Pause function that defined the combat in the developer's earlier games — simply tap the space bar and you'll be able to stop the action, allowing you to assign commands to your characters and observe how the battle is going.
Modern, next-gen influences include quick recovery of health and mana as opposed to having to rest at inns. There's also a cool-down period after you cast spells — players familiar with World of Warcraft's combat mechanics will find the skills they've picked up managing toolbars coming in quite handy.
BioWare plans to let players craft their own adventures. The Dragon Age Toolset will allow users to modify the game by crafting new worlds and changing the characters' and enemies' AI, then share their designs with the community.
But Dragon Age won't offer a multiplayer mode, which might offend players who shared their Baldur's Gate experience with friends. Tudge explained that while BioWare is currently fully devoted to the single-player experience, there is a good chance we'll see multiplayer components in the Dragon Age universe somewhere down the road.
With a role-playing game of this scale, it's difficult to form any concrete impressions from a brief demo, but from what we can observe right now, Dragon Age: Origins is shaping up to be an epic experience.
Images courtesy BioWare

The Top 20 Most Engaging Facebook Applications

#8. IS Dungeons & Dragons: Tiny Adventures - 39.86%

-Dugeons & Drangons Logo-I bet you didn’t realize that there were some uber geeks on Facebook. Hasbro got creative on Facebook and their subsidiary Wizards of the Coast, launched the a Facebook version of Dungeons & Dragons. The game reminds me of the old choose your own adventure books in which your character had hit points and various other variables which determined the outcome of battles along the way.

These adventures have around 6 steps which is why the application is called “Tiny Adventures”. It’s a traditional fantasy game similar in some ways to Mob Wars and other strategy games on Facebook. This application is ultimately a big advertisement for Dungeons & Dragons but almost 30,000 users keep coming back every day. 23415053320

Compendium Update

As Bill mentioned in his final Digital Insider column, we’ll bring you development updates when we have new information. Here’s an upcoming look at some changes and enhancements to the D&D Compendium, releasing later this month.

New Interface
We've given the Compendium an overall facelift.

Increased Timeout
The timeout for a single log-in session for the Compendium will be increased to two hours. This timer is reset every time the Compendium is used, so if you're checking in with the Compendium periodically throughout your game or prep session, you should stay logged in without interruption.

Results Per Page
You'll be able to select how many records you want displayed on a single page (20, 50, or 100).

Reset Button
We've also added a Reset button that clears the current filter and current search box and gets you back to a clean slate from which to search again.

Navigating Detail Pages
When browsing the details of your search results, you'll be able to page forward and backward through the individual results, rather than going back to the list page first. We've also incorporated the same paging technique that is used on other parts of the D&D website.

Improved Printing
We've added a Print button to the details pages to make that task more convenient.

Note -- due to changes we’ve made in this version of the Compendium, it no longer supports Opera browsers. We’re exploring the possibilities of a more mobile-friendly Compendium, though, so stay tuned.

Looking ahead…

We consider the Compendium to be the critical hub of data for all of D&D Insider and its suite of applications going forward, and we will continue to invest in it with new filters and functionality, improved usability, and ongoing bug fixes for anything getting in the way of your experience. Please continue to e-mail us or post on the forums and let us know what is most important to you.

About the Author

Didier Monin has settled in Seattle, and has been working for Wizards of the Coast for the past 12 years, first in France then in the USA. He has been a world traveler, has lived on a boat, and has been a D&D gamer since 1980 and favors Dungeon Mastering. He also plays as much online strategy and simulation computer games that he can. Above all, he is married and father of two super nice kids, who enjoy gaming too. He is currently the producer for the client applications parts of D&DI, and posts on the forums under WOTC_DM, not because he is the only DM (Dungeon Master) in WOTC (Wizards of the Coast) but because of his initials.