The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X
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The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Yesterday I DMd the session zero of my new campaign set in Nentir Vale, so I want to share here the campaign diary. I'm running it using 4e, but adding the narrative fighting style and the escalation dice from 13th Age.

Setting:
One of the players is a friend of mine who played my first D&D campaign as a DM 11 years ago, so this campaign happens 10 years after the events of the H/P/E adventure path. Orcus is dead (they killed him in "Prince of Undeath"). Or as dead as a demon prince can be... as for the vale, both the Keep on the Shadowfell and Thunderspire mountain's plot were resolved, but I didn't played the rest of thosem adventures until E1 Death Reach (I used other paragon path adventures from Dungeon instead), so stuff from Pyramid of Shadows and the Paragon path adventures still can happen.

For the first adventure they want to explore the Moon Hills, and hunt the fabled Dark Drake.

Characters:
- Legion, a deva with a 100 years old gap in his memory (cleric of the Raven Queen)
- Sylric: An eladrin noble who traveled to the Mortal World to increase his magical power (wizard)
- Akker: A dragonborn barbarian.
- Balseth: A dragonborn sorcerer
- Birra: A dragonborn paladin. She believes in the Children of Io heresy (see Player's Handbook Races: Dragonborn).

All three dragonborn are members of Dythan's Legion, who were sent to the Moon Hills in search of Arkhosian ruins. They contacted the other adventurers to help them in their mission.

The first session will start this Wednesday.
Last edited by Zeromaru X on Tue Apr 28, 2020 4:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Tim Baker »

I love this! Sounds awesome. I hope you'll keep sharing with us as you run the campaign.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon Apr 20, 2020 4:57 pm
I'm running it using 4e, but adding the narrative fighting style . . . from 13th Age.
I was curious what portion of 13th Age you're drawing from for this. What did you mean by "narrative fighting style?" I'm excited to hear that you're getting some use out of 13th Age...incorporating some of its ideas and subsystems into 4e was how I got started with the system. :)

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:10 am
I was curious what portion of 13th Age you're drawing from for this. What did you mean by "narrative fighting style?" I'm excited to hear that you're getting some use out of 13th Age...incorporating some of its ideas and subsystems into 4e was how I got started with the system. :)
Due to technical issues (most of us are stuck to play on smartphones) we decided to play using the theater of the mind method for practical purposes (not all of us have phones that will support using Roll20 and Discord at the same time), and the gridless combat system (or narrative, as I call it) is perfect for this situation. Also, I will use the escalation die for speeding up things in battle.

Since most players are part of Dythan's Legion, I guess I'm going to try the icons system, as well, so their connection with Dythan (and other important NPCs over time) will have an influence in the game.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 6:12 pm
Due to technical issues (most of us are stuck to play on smartphones) we decided to play using the theater of the mind method for practical purposes (not all of us have phones that will support using Roll20 and Discord at the same time), and the gridless combat system (or narrative, as I call it) is perfect for this situation. Also, I will use the escalation die for speeding up things in battle.
I see. That makes complete sense. Toward the end of my time DMing 4e, I began adapting 13th Age's abstract ranges and random number of area effect targets for quick encounters that I didn't want to draw out a map for (or for those that occurred because my players took things far away from what I'd prepared for). I think it worked reasonably well for us. I had to remember to make rulings on the players' behalf, so they felt like they could trust that they could still have fun without their abilities being "gimped" by a lack of a grid. Still, for characters who were built around the concept of forced movement, I suspect the players didn't enjoy this style of play as much.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 6:12 pm
Since most players are part of Dythan's Legion, I guess I'm going to try the icons system, as well, so their connection with Dythan (and other important NPCs over time) will have an influence in the game.
I absolutely support using icons (even if it's just a single icon) in your game. I know the icon rules are left very open and free-form in the core rulebook, so if you'd like to chat about ways different GMs use them, feel free to start up a new thread in the 13th Age forum and link to it here.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 6:12 pm
Tim Baker wrote:
Tue Apr 21, 2020 11:10 am
I was curious what portion of 13th Age you're drawing from for this. What did you mean by "narrative fighting style?" I'm excited to hear that you're getting some use out of 13th Age...incorporating some of its ideas and subsystems into 4e was how I got started with the system. :)
Due to technical issues (most of us are stuck to play on smartphones) we decided to play using the theater of the mind method for practical purposes (not all of us have phones that will support using Roll20 and Discord at the same time), and the gridless combat system (or narrative, as I call it) is perfect for this situation. Also, I will use the escalation die for speeding up things in battle.
It's great that you are doing theatre of the mind...to make sure everyone in the group gets to play.

I had major problems keeping in AuldDragon's Spelljammer game when my laptop hard drive died...then the entire laptop died. (And my backup device - my Spelljammerphone - is on the way out.)

I don't know what I'd do if my laptop died now.

Have you considered turning your game into an audio podcast? (I'm guessing you don't play in English, but it might be fun for some Nentir Vale fans who speak your language.)
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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Tim Baker »

Big Mac wrote:
Wed Apr 22, 2020 3:49 pm
Have you considered turning your game into an audio podcast? (I'm guessing you don't play in English, but it might be fun for some Nentir Vale fans who speak your language.)
I'm generally not a fan of actual play podcasts, but if there was a Nentir Vale game that incorporated 13th Age rules and was in English, that would be so in my wheelhouse, I'd be absolutely give it a try.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Well, on my group, I'm the only one who speaks English semi-fluently, and my pronunciation is terrible... really :lol:

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Tim Baker »

Zeromaru X wrote:
Thu Apr 23, 2020 3:12 am
Well, on my group, I'm the only one who speaks English semi-fluently, and my pronunciation is terrible... really :lol:
Oh well. Maybe my statement will convince someone else to produce an actual play of this type in the future. :)

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

As it happens, Wednesday turned out to be Sunday. We settled it down for next Friday instead, so the second session will not cross with real life stuff.

Anyways, first session was all about role-playing and exploration, with no combat at all. Yeah, that can happen in 4e, as you can see. The group (no name yet) meet in the Nentir Inn, where the dragonborn trio convinced the other two adventurers to join their group and discovered that dragonborn can only hold one beer before going drunk (and this is canon, at least in FR). They also talked with a dwarf from Hammerfast, the only survivor in his group, who told them how the dreaded "moon drake" (see, Dark Drake of the Moon Hills in Threats to the Nentir Vale) killed all his caravan companions save for him. Drunk, they decided to go drake hunting.

After a long night rest, the group went to explore Fallcrest in search for a map of the Moon Hills. On the trip they got almost robbed by a band of thieves (that Akker, the dragonborn barbarian, scared to death with a nat 20 intimidate roll) and they were almost duped by a seller of "holy relics." The guy gave them a mysterious poker card, however.

Finally, they found their map in Catseye's shop (see Dungeon #193 - Enemies & Allies: All That Glitters). Now they are preparing to travel to the Moon Hills. And that is all for their first session.

All in all, it was really fun.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Tim Baker »

Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:59 am
first session was all about role-playing and exploration, with no combat at all. Yeah, that can happen in 4e, as you can see.
For sure! Good to point this out. I think it comes as a surprise to some people.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:59 am
The group (no name yet) meet in the Nentir Inn, where the dragonborn trio convinced the other two adventurers to join their group and discovered that dragonborn can only hold one beer before going drunk (and this is canon, at least in FR).
Fascinating! Where did you learn this?
Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:59 am
They also talked with a dwarf from Hammerfast, the only survivor in his group.
A large part of my weekend session took place in Hammerfast (which my DM lifted from Nentir Vale and placed in the mythic Roman Empire).
Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue Apr 28, 2020 3:59 am
All in all, it was really fun.
Thanks for sharing! I love the Fallcrest references. Brings back fond memories.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Tim Baker wrote:
Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:10 am
Fascinating! Where did you learn this?
From Erin Evans novels. She deals a lot with that kind of trivia about dragonborn, besides of describing their culture in the Realms.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Wed Apr 29, 2020 12:48 am
From Erin Evans novels. She deals a lot with that kind of trivia about dragonborn, besides of describing their culture in the Realms.
I read the Brimstone Angels series, but didn't remember that detail. Good find.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Session 2 was played yesterday, cuz real life stuff again.
One of the players couldn't make it, so it was only 4. Funny, the three dragonborn all were present.

Anyways, the session started with the players exploring the Moon Hills in search of the fabled Dark Drake. They get lost and find a ruin from Saruun Khel instead. The ruin is inhabited by a group of kobolds and we had the first serious battle of this campaing. It's really tricky to run a battle using theater of the mind, but it was funny. And it helps that the players stayed focused, so there was no derailing. The escalation dice was also a blessing, as the bonuses really helped to speed up things. We finished the battle in about 4 rounds. The players had never played using theater of the mind (they all started in 5e and use minis and grid), and they really enjoyed the experience.

They left one of the kobolds alive, and forced him to guide them to his boss, who the players believed was the Dark Drake. But they meet Farallax instead (the white dragon wyrmling from the Twisting Halls adventure). At this point, the players are convinced Farallax is the Dark Drake of the Moon Hills, :lol:

Balseth is able to impress Farallax enough to avoid battle, and so they promised Farallax to defeat Malareth, an necromancer who is forcing the dragon into servitude and using the Halls for his evil experiments.

The session ended there. If everything goes well, we will be playing next Saturday.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 1:06 am
The escalation dice was also a blessing, as the bonuses really helped to speed up things. We finished the battle in about 4 rounds. The players had never played using theater of the mind (they all started in 5e and use minis and grid), and they really enjoyed the experience.
I'm glad the escalation die worked well for you! It was one of the first elements from 13th Age that I added to my own 4e game, back in 2012.

How did the abstract ranges work with 4e combat?
Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon May 11, 2020 1:06 am
Balseth is able to impress Farallax enough to avoid battle, and so they promised Farallax to defeat Malareth, an necromancer who is forcing the dragon into servitude and using the Halls for his evil experiments.
"Twisting Halls" was the first adventure I played in using 4e. So much nostalgia. "Malareth" has been my go-to name for necromancer villains ever since. :)

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Tim Baker wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 8:18 am

How did the abstract ranges work with 4e combat?
I used this conversion for handling abstract distance.

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=14615

They worked well, at least for us.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Tim Baker »

Zeromaru X wrote:
Tue May 12, 2020 4:05 pm
I used this conversion for handling abstract distance.

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=14615

They worked well, at least for us.
Good callback to an older thread. :) I'm glad it worked well for you!

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Third session finished. Most of it was expended in the battle against Malareth and his minions. The players were elated to discover that Dragon Breath was a minor action in 4e. I guess they will enjoy using it in this campaign a lot.

Anyways, after they killed Malareth they went to rest in one of the chambers of the Halls. Technically, they are allies of Farallax, and its minions will not attack them. After talking with Farallax, they discover he is not the Dark Drake, and so they want to continue their hunt.

I also left some hooks (in the form of letters) that point the players to allies of Malareth in Fallcrest, Hammerfast and Harken. And they also need to deal with the skull Malareth was tampering with.

All in all, they have plenty of hooks to play with. Also, they all reached level 2!

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 6:07 am
Technically, they are allies of Farallax, and its minions will not attack them.
My party had encountered Farallax prior to Malareth, and the dragon had demanded that the party bring him any treasure they found. The party kept the loot for themselves and snuck out after defeating Malareth, and had to fight Farallax a while later when he came looking for them (and had gained power). I love hearing how adventures diverge when different groups run them.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun May 17, 2020 6:07 am
All in all, they have plenty of hooks to play with. Also, they all reached level 2!
If it's safe to say, what adventure are you running next (assuming it's a published one)?

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

For now, its a sandbox using stuff from Threats to the Nentir Vale. However, I have left hooks for the players to start either Reavers of Harkenwold, March of the Phantom Brigade, or an urban adventure in Fallcrest (I need to search one, but Blood Money seems easy to adapt) but if the players want just to explore the Vale, they can as well.

They know, however, that I'm going to railroad the adventure at some point, as I want to run Madness at Gardmore Abbey.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon May 18, 2020 1:21 am
For now, its a sandbox using stuff from Threats to the Nentir Vale. However, I have left hooks for the players to start either Reavers of Harkenwold, March of the Phantom Brigade, or an urban adventure in Fallcrest (I need to search one, but Blood Money seems easy to adapt) but if the players want just to explore the Vale, they can as well.
I like all of those options. Please continue to keep us posted. :)

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

After a long hiatus, the gaming group reunited again yesterday, so...

The players decided that leaving Farallax alive was a mistake, one they were not going to abide. So, they returned to the Twisting Halls and killed Farallax and his kobold guards. They then beheaded the dragon and returned to Fallcrest. And so it ended the search for the fabled Drake of the Moon Hills... at least for now. I'm going to pit them against the actual dark drake later. I hope.

Logically, they were hailed as heroes in Fallcrest, the glorious dragon killers, and even got an audience with Lord Markelhay (who I'm portraying akin Lord Neverember, from FR).

Lord Markelhay told them about the unusual activities in the area, and the players got interested in either go to investigate Thunderspire Mountain or to see what's happening in Harkenwold (as Markelhay mentioned the communications got interrupted a month ago). After a few deliberations, they decided to go to investigate Harkenwold (as Akker, the barbarian, is becoming the voice of reason in the party, lol - he convinced the rest of the group that the lives of the people of Harkenwold are more important than hunting relics in the minotaur ruins).

And so, Reavers of Harkenwold began! The adventure started as usual, and they rescued Ilyana and her sons. As a funny anecdote, Birra (the paladin) killed one of the Iron Circle's wolves with a kick (a critical hit), while she was trying to avoid killing it, and just wanted to scare it. Now she got nicknamed "Birra the dog-killer", lol

The session ended there, as one of the players had real life stuff to take care of. So, next session they are going to chat with Ilyana and learn about the Iron Circle.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:37 pm
Akker, the barbarian, is becoming the voice of reason in the party, lol - he convinced the rest of the group that the lives of the people of Harkenwold are more important than hunting relics in the minotaur ruins.
I like when the players use their characters' in-world rationale for decisions (as long as it leads to more fun, which this did).
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:37 pm
And so, Reavers of Harkenwold began! The adventure started as usual, and they rescued Ilyana and her sons.
Fun adventure! I have fond memories of this one.
Zeromaru X wrote:
Sun Jun 21, 2020 6:37 pm
As a funny anecdote, Birra (the paladin) killed one of the Iron Circle's wolves with a kick (a critical hit), while she was trying to avoid killing it, and just wanted to scare it.
This brings up an interesting mechanical question. I may be confusing my editions/games here, but in 4e when you declare that you want to use non-lethal force, doesn't that just automatically happen? If so, shouldn't a crit mean the PC is extra good at controlling their kick (they're the more fortunate they can possibly be, after all), and be rewarded for that, rather than having the wolf die? An interesting alternative would have been having the paladin kill the wolf and maybe having some negative consequence for rolling a fumble. Just thinking out loud here. I realize fumbles don't have additional negative consequences in 4e (correct me if I'm wrong).

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Post by Zeromaru X »

Well, the player didn't declared that. It was only after I announced the paladin killed the wolf that the player stated that he didn't wanted to kill it. By that point, the other players didn't allowed me to undo what happened.

But it's what you say. In 4e the non-lethal damage rule do exists. And yes, you're right: critical failures do not exist in 4e.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

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Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:19 am
Well, the player didn't declared that. It was only after I announced the paladin killed the wolf that the player stated that he didn't wanted to kill it. By that point, the other players didn't allowed me to undo what happened.
That totally makes sense. If you don't declare it, and you drop the monster to zero...
Zeromaru X wrote:
Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:19 am
But it's what you say. In 4e the non-lethal damage rule do exists. And yes, you're right: critical failures do not exist in 4e.
Thanks for confirming. It's been about seven years since I last ran 4e, and the details get a little fuzzy. Not to mention, I've played so many other games since then, it's easy to forget which system a rule came from.

Also, I wanted to clarify that I wasn't saying that you ruled on this "the wrong way." That's completely up to you and your players. My question was intended to bring up some alternate ways a situation like that might be handled and to double-check the rules. I realized just now that my question might have come across in a way that I didn't intend it. If that's the case, I apologize, and will strive for more clarity in the future.

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Re: The 5 of Fallcrest - campaing diary

Post by Zeromaru X »

Given my current disappointment with WotC, I'm thinking to change the campaign to another system. 13th Age, perhaps. Or PF2, as they say it's 4e in spirit.

Someone know if there are dragonborn (or dragon people) in PF2?

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