New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

The civilized world has been reduced to a series of points of light in a great wilderness of danger and monsters.
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capnskillet7
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New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:18 pm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Tim Baker
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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker » Fri Jun 14, 2019 9:08 pm

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

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Zeromaru X » Fri Jun 14, 2019 10:57 pm

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by capnskillet7 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 6:00 pm

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

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

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

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

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Tim Baker
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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Jun 16, 2019 1:56 am

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Veilheim » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:45 am

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Big Mac » Tue Jul 23, 2019 12:44 pm

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

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

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

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

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

Post by Gord » Sat Nov 30, 2019 12:33 am

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 4:43 am

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

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Re: New Reavers of Harkenwold Campaign

Post by Tim Baker » Sun Dec 01, 2019 4:47 am

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

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